Sunday, January 12, 2014

Walking in Tall Cotton

If you opened a recent copy of  Vogue Pattern magazine, you might have been startled  to see a picture of me on  page 14 of the Feb/Mar 2014 issue.
Vogue Patterns Feb/Mar 2014
 
 
 
Vogue Patterns Star Blogger
 
 Due to  a interesting turn of events, a  recent project of mine is featured in the magazine.   Not one of the wonderful tailored jackets or fashion forward dresses I sew using Vogue patterns.  Nope, the project is a jacket made of mesh bags and fabric scraps.   How did that come about? Do you remember the Fabricista Challenge sponsored by Fabric Mart Fabrics? The contest which I impulsively entered because I was suffering from empty nest syndrome. 

The first challenge was "Make a garment out of recycled materials or materials that would have otherwise been thrown away, such as scraps from your sewing room or grocery bags. You can reconstruct a garment to make it more fashion forward and utilize unconventional items to add accessories and embellishments. Be creative!" 

Not knowing  much about the contest judges or judging criteria. I went a bit extreme on the  use of throw away stuff. I wove fabric scraps through the holes of fruit mesh fruit bags to make a fabric. And sewed the fabric into a jacket.  I didn’t win the challenge  and the judges’ feedback was

“The treatment you used on your jacket is unique and inventive; however we were not too crazy about the look of it. It made the jacket look dated and ruggish. We would like to see you push yourself in the next challenge with something a little more modern."

The  judges feedback was helpful in  letting  me know I had missed the mark. The winning entry, a  wedding dress refashioned into a cocktail dress, gave me a better idea of what the judges were looking for. And it was on to the next challenge.

A couple weeks later I received an email.

“I’m an editor for Vogue Patterns magazine, and we’re planning a project for an upcoming issue that uses fabric strips woven into a mesh base. We saw your Recycle Challenge jacket made with fruit bags and thought it was a fabulous take on the concept. Would you be willing to have your jacket included as a sidebar in the magazine? Let me know what you think.”

My response back was “ I would be thrilled to have my jacket included in the sidebar of Vogue magazine.   I am a long time subscriber and really love the direction the magazine has taken in recent years.  I had to laugh when I thought of how ironic it is that with all the Vogue patterns I  have sewn, this jacket is the one that might appear in the magazine.”

While I was assembling the requested high resolution pictures and writing the in depth description of my creative process, I thought a bit about the magazine.

Vogue Pattern Magazine   has been a part of my life for a long time.  My mother subscribed to it when I was growing up.  I remember looking through it and admiring the dresses and suits. But Vogue patterns were expensive, advanced and the patterns/styles did not fit my lifestyle or babysitting income budget.   When I started sewing my own clothes as a teen, I used Simplicity and McCalls pattern and made no alterations except for lengthening at the hem edge.  But my mother, a stay at home mom with 4 kids, would use them to sew special occasion clothes for the holiday parties given by the company my father worked for.  And the outfits she wore when she accompanied my father on business trips.  She always compared the garments she made from those patterns against the clothing worn by the executive’s wives, and felt they more than held their own for fashion ( Vogue) and workmanship(her own).

 One article is very vivid in my memory.  It was probably in the early 70’s. Vogue selected several real women who worked in Washington, DC, and showed them in their work environment wearing clothing made from Vogue patterns.   I remember the women were mostly secretaries or assistants to congressman, and all the garments were suits or dresses. But the fabrics were high end and the garments fit perfectly. They were sewn by professional seamstresses, not the women wearing them. It was fascinating to see the pattern garments on real people in real work environments. Remember this was back before the internet, blogs, discussion boards and national sewing groups.  Seeing patterns sewn up and on real people was not common. I remember looking at one women, and my mother saying something to the effect of  “Boy, they had to make a lot of changes to the pattern to get it to fit her.”  The woman under discussion  had one of the common variations of a woman’s figure.  I can’t remember if she was pear shaped or busty. But she was definitely not a skinny  model.  That was a “duh huh” moment for me.   It had never occurred to me that the garments, as sewn straight out the pattern envelope, did not fit everyone, and that it was okay or even desirable to make changes to perfect the fit. 

Of course  now that my body has matured into its adult form, I have to make alterations to every pattern I sew.   Fortunately there are lots of books, blogs and internet sources to learn from and motivate me to keep working toward the perfect fit. My mother stopped sewing clothing when more alterations were needed,  her lifestyle changed, and RTW knit clothing became readily available.

I still subscribe to Vogue Pattern Magazine and I appreciate the changes the editors have made in recent years. It appears to be moving away from being a catalog of Vogue patterns to a sewing magazine with  articles on advanced sewing techniques, the latest fabrics, replicating interesting designer details, all which can be used with Vogue patterns.  These are things I feel are worth the magazine subscription price. The original  catalog features; the large clear pictures, sale coupons, and easy ordering are now available free on the Vogue Pattern internet site.

It was quite an honor to be featured  in a magazine that I have read and enjoyed for years, though the project was not the one I would have chosen. When I showed the article to my mother, her response summed up my feelings and made me a laugh.  “I really must comment, but what can I say!   Wow!!  I must of done something right! or where did I go wrong?  I believe that makes you a national celebrity, or as we everyday folks would say, "You're walking in tall cotton. "

Thanks Mom!

34 comments:

Carolyn (cmarie12) said...

When I saw you featured in VPM I squealed with joy because I loved the jacket that you made for the challenge. Actually I felt like you were robbed but that's neither here nor there. Considering the designer article that was featured in the magazine, I understand why your jacket was chosen because they tied together and showed how a home sewist could sew a designer trend.

Regardless it was a well deserved honor and I'm so happy for you!

Beth (SunnyGal Studio) said...

congrats on being in the magazine, that would be thrilling. and that jacket you made was so creative.

Elaine Seniuk said...

This is completely FABULOUS!
Keep writing, you have no idea how inspirational your blog has been, is now, and hopefully, ever will be.

Tall cotton indeed.

Meigan said...

Congratulations Audrey! I remember seeing your jacket in the Fabricistas challenge and being blown away by your ingenuity in making that jacket. Well done!

ginny said...

Congratulations! What a very exciting (and yeah, ironic as well :D), event! Your jacket is fantastic, and to my eye quite stylish and flattering. Well done!

Roz said...

Congratulations! When I originally saw that jacket I thought it was a stroke of genius.

ElleC said...

What an honor to be featured in Vogue Patterns. And deservedly so. I thought your jacket should have been the winner in the recycled challenge. How nice that your work is recognized now, and with a larger audience than with the Fabricista Challenge (or maybe not??). Enjoy the attention!

Melody Murdock said...

Congratulations! Very happy to see you in Vogue; your recycled jacket was my favorite garment from the the entire challenge.

a little sewing said...

congratulations, Audrey and I am another fan of that jacket you made. I thought your creation was the best one that week and worthy of the win.

And I LOVE the backstory you included in today's post about your mother. I guess we are of similar vintage and I also have memories of my mother, her sewing and the status of Vogue patterns.

knitmachinequeen (KMQ) said...

Congrats. I think your jacket is stunning.

BeccaA said...

Audrey, I thought your jacket deserved to win and I was thrilled to see that Vogue Patterns featured it in the magazine--definitely a well deserved honor. This is such a brilliant example of reusing materials, and your jacket is quite stylish. Thanks for sharing your memories.

Vicki said...

Congratulations! I loved hearing your history with Vogue and sewing. I don't subscribe to Vogue - used to many years ago. I think you could no longer get it in Australia by sub. But of course times change and you can subscribe direct from US. You make me want to subscribe again ;)

Amanda S. said...

I saw that article too and loved that they featured you! That jacket was so creative and fun, and I was shocked when you didn't win that challenge.

Tee said...

Congratulations!!!! I don't have the magazine, but I just renewed my subscription so hopefully I'll get to read it.

KimP said...

This fantastic, especially since the challenge judges failed to appreciate its fabulousness! I'll have to go out and buy a copy! : )

Bunny said...

It was a thrill to see a fellow blogger and her garments featured in VPM. You look great in the photos and it is an awesome real world article.

Carole Mellin said...

That's so wonderful, Audrey! I am so proud that Vogue Pattern Magazine picked up on what an inventive and resourceful sewer you are! Off to purchase my copy.

Bri said...

Bravo thats fantastic! It is a cool jacket you made and a great story too about your history with the magazine!

The Slapdash Sewist said...

Congratulations! This is awesome and so well-deserved. That jacket was an incredible feat. I can't stand the term "upcycle" as it is so often associated with, well, items that make me want to upchuck, but you truly deserved the title for turning literal trash into a treasure.

AnaJan Stepalica said...

What a great story Audrey! Congrats on being featured in the magazine, it was well deserved. I don't know how the winner dress at the contest looked like, but the mesh jacket was a true winner, no matter what the judges said!

MrsSmith said...

That must be so exciting!! It really is a gorgeous jacket. Also, love the transformation on the mccalls draped top.

Joy said...

Wow, congratulations!

Sharon said...

Congratulations and how exciting as your jacket was amazing and it deserved to have its day.

becki-c said...

They sure know talent when they see it, that looks fabulous!
I think the idea is genius, is it comfortable to wear?
I can't wait to get the magazine. I will admit, I have always seen it as a take-home pattern catalog. This will be my first purchase of the magazine in probably 10 years.

SEWN said...

That's amazing! Congrats!

Janine said...

Congratulations. What an absolute thrill for you and well deserved .you were very imaginative to come up with such an idea and then actually pull it off.

Tany said...

Congrats, you deserve it!!

Kat said...

Allow me to join the crowd and say I also thought you were robbed of a win that week. I loved your jacket and the creativity that went into it.

Congrats! It is super exciting to see you in Vogue!

lsaspacey said...

Yes, I was in Joanns last week and was pleasantly shocked to see you in Vogue. You so deserved that feature and I'm happy that Vogue appreciated your jacket more than the Fabric Mart Challenge judges did. I did not find that jacket dated at all! I would wear it in a heartbeat! CONGRATS!

Lucia said...

Congratulations! I "subscribe" to VPM by asking the local American Bookstore to set aside a copy for me. I'll hurry up there to see your fabulous jacket! I too love VPM and I like their new direction, though I didn't mind their "catalog" years. I feel people are like that too. I have good and bad years, productive and lazy years. I guess I like them enough to be patient when they stray for a while.

Jean said...

Congratulations! I remember seeing this jacket in the challenge and was blown away. How wonderful that Vogue Pattern Mag recognized the skill and creativity that went into your creation. Thank you for sharing your personal history with the magazine -- your mother's clothes must have been so beautiful. I am also pleased with the direction the magazine has taken.

LiEr said...

Audrey! Congratulations on being featured in Vogue! So exciting! Came here from a backlink from your comment on one of my posts (the comment was about french darts) and wanted to say I love the work you do. That black skirt with the leather piecing is one of my favorites!

Tia Dia said...

A huge congratulations! I thought your jacket was the "cat's meow" and a brilliant example of recycling. I am so happy for you that it's been featured in VPM!!

Shams said...

Audrey, I am very behind on my blog reading and I didn't see this post until Carolyn linked to it from her blog.

Congratulations! How exciting!