Friday, October 24, 2014

Guest Post: Christian L Harris - God Save the Prince

We love seeing what our customers are up to and when we came across Christian's project, it was just too fantastic not to share with you. Fabric as wearable art and a good cause to boot! Without further ado we would like to introduce you to Christian Harris! 


My name is Christian L Harris. I am a fashion designer finishing up my Master of Fine Arts degree at the Savannah College of Art and Design. I have also taught fashion at American Intercontinental University and interned in New York for seven months. I started sewing in 2007 and haven’t stopped since. I own 5 sewing machines (Brother home sewer, Pfaff industrial zig-zag, 1938 singer 201, singer pro-finish serger and a Huskylock s25) and my fabric buying addiction is ever so out of control. There is nothing like the rush of a new email from Fabric Mart with “50-60% off Fabric and 1 crazy price” in the subject line.

My MFA thesis collection, God Save the Prince, has won features from ELLE, Esquire, WWD, Atlanta Magazine and others. The collection is inspired by hemophilia and the individuals touched by hemophilia, a debilitating and even fatal disorder of the blood. The last heir to the Russian throne suffered from hemophilia at a time when the average age of hemophiliac death was eleven years old. Fearful, the Imperial family did not disclose the heir’s affliction to the public. Guarding the secret meant a life away from the public eye. This seclusion and secrecy widened the divide between the Imperial family and the Russian people, and was in many ways an antecedent to the Russian Revolution. A year after the fall of Russian Imperialism, the Imperial family was executed. The seven members of the last Imperial family became a second focus of the collection.


The focus on the family became more central as the collection developed. While working on the collection, I lost my dear grandmother and my father. Creating pieces that were meant to honor the memory of the Romanovs helped me to cope with my own losses. I designed the collection as if each article belonged to a specific member of the last Imperial family. Many of the pieces in the collection were created for the life they never got to realize. For example, I included a wedding gown because sadly, the daughters did not live long enough to marry. It has also been said that other royal families in Europe knew the Romanov daughters could be carriers of hemophilia and that limited the number of suitors willing to court them.


Having hemophilia myself, I often felt alone and limited as a child so I understand what life may have been like for the Imperial family. I was not allowed to participate in many of the activities other children were able to partake in for fear of injury. Painting and drawing helped supplement my time and became a form of therapy. My mentors in the hemophilia community were also very supportive and pivotal in helping me to find my way. Many of my mentors received blood treatment products tainted with HIV before screening began in the mid-1980s. Sadly, about ninety (90%) percent of severe hemophiliacs were infected and thousands died.


Seventy percent of my earnings from the sale of the collection and the collateral materials will be forwarded to the hemophilia and bleeding disorders community. Namely, the Committee of Ten Thousand (COTT) and local chapters of the National Hemophilia Foundation. COTT “is a grass-roots, peer-led, education, advocacy and support organization for persons with HIV disease. The majority of our constituency is persons with hemophilia who contracted HIV/AIDS from tainted blood products” (www.cott1.org).


I have launched a GoFundMe campaign to raise the funds needed to finish and photograph the collection. The whole process of photographing the collection will involve members of the hemophilia and bleeding disorders community. As an added treat for my fellow garment makers, the video that accompanies the campaign shows the complete development and construction of one of the gowns from the collection! This particular gown, is made with fabrics from Fabric Mart. The buttons on the gown also came from Fabric Mart in an assorted button bundle I got free during one of my fabric buying binges! (LOVE THOSE BUNDLES!!!) Go to www.gofundme.com/godsavetheprince to access the campaign and video.


Ultimately, I set out to use my knowledge of garment design to create wearable art pieces. I am so happy to have been a longtime customer of Fabric Mart because their beautiful fabrics made it possible for me to begin to realize my dream!

Please be sure to take a look at my GoFundMe campaign to see how I used my goodies from Fabric Mart. If you are able to contribute to the campaign, your donations would be greatly appreciated! Please feel free to share my story and the campaign with your friends and loved ones! Thanks!

Warmest,
Christian L Harris
ChristianLHarris.com


Have a great project you would like to share with us? Email us at fabricmartblog@gmail.com 

Saturday, October 18, 2014

And the Winner is....

We've made it to the end of the Fabricista Fashion Challenge! This year's challenge was a lot of fun and the ladies had such talent. I wish everyone could have won! I want to thank each one of our contestants for putting themselves out there in the sewing skills being challenged for a month and a half. (That is probably one of the biggest challenges!) 

Also a big thank you to all of our guest judges. They gave our contestants a lot of suggestions and praises. I bet if you asked any of them, the biggest challenge for them was picking the winner and who would be sent home!


Without further ado, let's see who our winner is....

Congratulations Dina, you are the winner of the 2nd Fabricista Fashion Challenge! You will receive $25 a month for one year to spend on fabric. You will also have the opportunity to be an official Fabricista for the next 6 months blogging with us! You will also receive a Julie's Picks membership. 




Our second place winner is Nakisha and you will receive a $100 gift certificate to spend at Fabric Mart and a Julie's Picks membership.



Our third place winner is   and you will receive a $50 gift certificate to spend at Fabric Mart and a Julie's Picks membership.



Again, congratulations to you all! You are very talented sewers! 

Reader Participation
And last but not least, we need to select a winner of the Flickr Group. Thank you to all the readers that participated on the sidelines. You never know, you may see one of them in Fabricista Fashion Challenge 3! 

The winner is... Elizabeth from I Sew, You Sew! You have won a $25 gift certificate to Fabric Mart. This was a randomly selected drawing. Please email me (fabricmartblog{@}gmail.com) to claim your prize.


The last thank you I want to put out there is to all our readers! I appreciate you taking the time to read and follow along in the challenge. I think it was a lot of fun for many of you as well! 

We have some exciting things planned for rest of the year. Stay tuned for more information on that. If you have any ideas or suggestions on things you would like to see on the blog, comment below or email me at: fabricmartblog@gmail.com.

That's a wrap!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Final Challenge: Inspired by Art - What They Made!

Well ladies, you're done! You've made it through 6 weeks of intensive sewing and a lot of hard work! The work you put into all of your garments really shows! Congrats to all three of you for making it this far!!

This week's challenge was to create a garment inspired by art. It could be an artwork, art movement, etc. Read details here. Everyone in this round wins something, but we have to come up with a Grand Prize winner! Here are the prizes:

- Grand Prize Winner will receive: $25 a month for one year to spend on fabric, plus be a Fabric Mart Fabricista for 6 months writing guest posts for the blog. (A $300 value with media exposure)

- Second place will receive: $100 gift certificate to spend at Fabric Mart, plus a Julie's Picks Membership to receive exclusive deals on select fabrics each month. 

- Third place will receive: $50 gift certificate to spend at Fabric Mart, plus a Julie's Picks Membership.

Guest Judges will be Angela Wolf and Sarah Bibb. Angela Wolf is known for her pattern line, Angela Wolf Designs and online classes on Pattern Review and Craftsy. Sarab Bibb is a designer/boutique owner in Portland, OR. You can check out her website HERE.

Left: Angela Wolf, Right: Sarah Bibb




Let's see what the contestants made!


Dina from My Superfluities


After reading what the last challenge was going to be, my brain *immediately* went to Jackson Pollock.  I own some Liberty tana lawn called Melly that is very reminiscent of his famous "splatter" paint technique and thought I would use that at first to create a design from one of my Japanese dress books.  But after doing some research on Jackson Pollock and reminding myself that the National Gallery of Art here in DC has one of his most famous works (that I also happen to LOVE) Number 1 Lavender Mist, I knew that I wanted to try painting the fabric myself, in colors I love, just like he did with his work.  To see how he did his splatter paint technique, check out this link. I explain how I created my vision of his work in my fabric below.  


But he alone did not inspire me in my creation. I also read up on his wife, Lee Krasner, who also was a very successful, if less well known artist, in her own right.  She was overshadowed by her husband, but her works also inspired me, as she, too, created works using a similar technique to Jackson Pollock.  

The garment I decided to make is from the era of both of these artists and based on the portraits I saw of Lee Krasner, I could easily have seen her in a similar piece.  


I was also inspired by this quote he made, which allowed me to fully release and let go during the process of painting my fabric: “When I am in my painting, I’m not aware of what I’m doing. It is only after a sort of ‘get acquainted’ period that I see what I have been about. I have no fear of making changes, destroying the image, etc., because the painting has a life of its own. I try to let it come through. It is only when I lose contact with the painting that the result is a mess. Otherwise there is pure harmony, an easy give and take, and the painting comes out well.” 
Jackson Pollock:  Number 1 Lavender Mist (more amazing in real life, btw); Untitled 1951Convergence

Lee Krasner: Shellflower -- an article, btw, which has a lot of info on Lee Krasner); Shattered Color


I chose handkerchief linen because I know linen is perfection for accepting paints and colors, so it was a no-brainer choice. I had *just* enough to make my garment with a little left over for experimenting before I began the big painting job.  After deciding how I wanted to apply the paints--yellow, green, and turquoise were all applied in drips and gentle waves, while navy blue was applied more aggressively, I proceeded and when pleased with the results, I left the pieces to dry.  It says four hours on the Tulip soft paint, but it took nearly twenty-four hours to get mine to dry fully.  

I found that once dry, the pieces were easy to sew together, but the pressing process was very interesting and took me a long time since I didn't want to ruin all my hard work.  :)  


I chose Simplicity 1590 which is a reprint of a blouse pattern from the 1940s.  It features a scoop neck, fitted waist, and a peplum hem.  There is also a five button closure.  I chose this pattern, as I mentioned above, because it looks to me like something a woman like Lee Krasner would have worn, and since I wanted to keep her as part of my inspiration, I was specifically looking for something from that era.  


I also felt like the painting method used by Pollock would look good on a garment like this.  I saw that other designers (recently, in fact) have used Pollock for inspiration in their collections (Dolce and Gabbana, 2008, amongst others, AND Sportmax 2014--Rosario Dawson is wearing one of the dresses here.  Armed with the knowledge that I wasn't alone in my love of his unique art, I forged ahead, willing to take the risk.   


I loved the idea of something so prim and ladylike being paired with something so messy and not prim.  The disconnect makes this garment exciting to me.

I find it very wearable, but do look forward to washing it.  You have to wait at least 72 hours before doing so, but based on how long it took to dry, I think I will wait a week and carefully handwash mine and line dry it.

I will be wearing it with jeans since it looks so cute that way, but maybe for a night out I will wear it as I did in my "editorial/magazine" photos.


I love art. But the artworks and art movements that I love aren't necessarily translatable to wearable clothes for me :) Some of my favorite movements are expressionist and graffiti art. I had some ideas but I knew that I wouldn't be 100% into it as wearable clothing.

Way back when, I wanted to become an architect and still love architecture. My absolute favorite architectural design style is Minimalism. I knew that was the right direction for me to take. 

Where some may see minimalist architecture as stark & cold, I see sleek & clean. To me, minimalist architecture involves a modern yet comfortable vibe; a sophisticated easiness that manages to be simple without being boring.


Translating that to fashion, I immediately wanted a chic palette of neutrals. I knew I wanted a look that had crisp lines, little adornment and an interesting simplicity. I decided I had to have a pants/top/jacket combo. I also decided I HAD to sew from stash! 


The jacket is Vogue 8932 made from a very cool jacketing fabric from Fabric Mart.This stuff handles like a champ. It sews and presses well and takes topstitching beautifully. The jacket was difficult and pivoting is HARD but I powered through and I love it! 



The back of the jacket makes me think of Japanese architecture and you know they are all about minimalism!


The top is Simplicity 1364 in a cotton blend fabric (unsure of its origin!). I love the bateau neck and dropped shoulder! The pants are Vogue 9032 in a suiting with lovely drape and weight that I got from Fabric Mart about a year and a half ago.


In a surprising turn of events, these pants only needed minimal fit alterations to work! The top received a few alterations too (details on the blog). Both were finished with grey & white serger thread for contrast (haha! Or because that’s what was threaded in my serger!)

The hem on my pants was catch-stitched by hand. The top has top-stitched hems.


I think my look captures that sleek feel of minimalist architecture and it is completely ME! 




Sue from I Love to Sew!

The final challenge's instructions were to create a garment based on art, an art movement, art period, etc.  Basically sort of wide open, no?  While I don't think of myself as an artist, I do love looking at and admiring art. My favorite period? That's hard to pin down but I really love the art deco period and how that depicts clothing styles for men and women.


More specifically, the art deco period reminds me of pop art and the bold, bright colors, clean lines and classy clothing.



Are you familiar with pop art? How about Lichenstein? See what I mean by bright, bold colors and classy clothing?


A reoccurring theme kept popping up for me and that was a yellow trench coat, just like Dick Tracy wore. I h-a-d to have one!






I couldn't just make it as is so I added the black piping on the storm flaps, both front and back. The black buttons also set it off.


Constructing this coat in a short time period was quite an undertaking!  I didn't start on it until Saturday and I had another idea in mind but my daughter said to me, "Mom, you are in the top three. It is time to put up or shut up." Well said! So, I decided to go for the trench.



This coat doesn't call for a lining, but I added one as it is much easier to get a lined coat on and off. I used a soft gray for the body and white lining for the sleeves.  


I love my new coat and I can't wait to wear it!