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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Old hippy clothes


In the olden days, when Jan and I were weavers, two thirds of our business was the clothing we made. People often asked to purchase our fabric and I would not sell it. Working with handwoven fabric is very different from goods from the fabric shop, and I wasn't about to give them lessons, too, when they stumbled on that fact. I generally suggested they buy a loom and weave their own. Some did.

I have a fond memory of a show we did for several years at Lincoln Center in New York City. The show wound around the outside of Lincoln Center, and onto the beautiful plaza. I was several paces away from my booth, smoking, and two old gentlemen stopped to look over the booth. They stood fingering a jacket (our cotton is soft and lovely to touch. Good hand, it is called), discussing the fabric and wondering if Julie would like to have this.

“It’s unstructured,” one said.

“I know, but it is soft and looks comfortable.”

“I know, but we would have to get her past being unstructured.”

“I know, but it is beautifully made.”

“I know, but the cut is unstructured.”

I smiled and let them play out their debate and wander away. Our customers loved soft and comfortable, and we found them, even in New York City.

Our clothing was “unstructured”, for the reason that our fabric did not lend itself to fiddly details. It was too soft, too few ends per inch, for a crisp edge. One haute customer, in her impeccable jeans and close cut shirts called the look “this old thing I just threw on!” She made us look really good.

I was thinking, as I wove towels, about a customer who took two towels and began demonstrating how I could sew them into a blouse for her. My imagination simply could not follow her instructions. I had a good deal of people telling me what I could weave for them, as it was. I eventually suggested she purchase two towels and give it a go, or even a loom and have at it. She certainly did not do the former.


Twenty years later it came to me, a blouse with no shaping at all. Well, minimal, as it turned out. First I needed a prototype, which I made of muslin. It’s pretty firm stuff, you could make structured garments from it. I needed to know what I was doing and had no intention of experimenting on my woven fabric!


My prototype. It has a hem only to make the muslin the same length as my woven fabric, 20". The piece for the back is 24", edge to edge (before seams), the front is 30", to make that neat drape, which was not in my instructions twenty years ago from two towel girl. But, it needs some shaping.


What do you think? This piece of fabric would not lend itself to a casing and a drawstring, so I gathered the fabric along the line of a pair of grouped threads.  Cleaner than the drawstring, too.



And, the rest of the way around. Side and back. All that's left is to research sizing. This is probably a large, but I need to find out. Otherwise, what a cool shirt for a hot summer day. Coming soon to an Etsy shop near you.

And, PS to Two Towel Girl: This is the very same towel you demonstrated to me--lengthwise. You were holding it by it's ends, and I couldn't see how to fit anyone inside two twenty inch towels. 

23 comments:

  1. Ooooooooooooo! I second Janie's comment!

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  2. I can imagine someone looking absolutely fabulous in this blouse. A triumph, brava!

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  3. It is looking most excellent. And elegant. And comfortable - which often isn't close friends with elegance.

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  4. Such a pretty color and I love the look!

    betty

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  5. I like it! I like it! It looks like a very comfortable wearing style.

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  6. I love the colour. You are full of surprises - designing clothing, eh? You have more energy than any two other people I know.

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  7. You are so clever and creative. I could not do this in a month of sundays. Just as well other people can :)

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  8. It's lovely. I like the unstructured neckline but I'm afraid I can't wear it myself. I have several tops somewhat like it and they never get put on just because I'm always in danger of exposing the girls, lol. Some women won't have this problem that's for sure. So glad you were able to figure out how to make a blouse out of a towel ;-)

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  9. Hari OM
    ...or as an overtop teamed with a turtleneck for the cooler seasons! I'm an overtop gal... this is lovely Joanne. YAM xx

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  10. Now I'm looking across the room at my tea towels with a different eye... hmmm.. red and blue.... could make a fashion statement here.....

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  11. Very pretty. I like that shade of pink.

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  12. Aren't you the clever girl. a little too much fullness in the front for me with my flat chest but it does look wonderfully soft and comfortable.

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  13. Dear Joanne, aren't our minds one of the most wonderful parts of creation? She gave you the seed of an idea and it germinated in your mind and finally brought forth a lovely blouse. You are such a creative and inspiring person. Thank you. Peace.

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  14. I do like your unstructured look! -- barbaara

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  15. Joanne - I use the two towels you kindly sent me as a present every day. They are absolutely brilliant for drying up and they look so pretty hanging over the Aga rail. So many people have commented on them.

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  16. This looks so soft and drapey! I have some relatives who still have firm arms who would look fabulous in this. Altho I could wear it over a long sleeve knit top, and it would look great. so creative!

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  17. Joanne,

    Love this but I need it to go below the hip, is it even possible? And for those concerned about the girls, etc, a simple tank or T or turtleneck will fix all that. Genius.

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  18. It looks lovely and comfortable and I love the shade of pink.
    I've never worn anything with a draped neck, not sure I know how to, but it certainly is an elegant look.

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  19. Fabulous! This why I don't like sewing for folks ....... they don't understand that the fabric they choose will not hang the way they want it to. I would rather just make the stuff and then sell it

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