... a city chick and country girl with one foot by the ocean and the other firmly placed on the ground (or deep in the soil to be precise!). I live in central Stockholm, work in an office all day and dream of more time to be creative and more time to spend in the open air. I like to sew. I also like to yoga, eat yummy food and spend time in nature. And about everything else, come to think of it!
Madeleine Vionnet was one of the first fashion-designers to cut fabric on the bias, in order to achieve more comfortable and figure flattering clothes. She used a method of draping on the dress-form, and her designs have been known to be almost impossible to reproduce, so, naturally, a book with reproductions of her patterns is a tresure for those interested in pattern construction.
I've seen pictures of a few of the dresses floating around the internet, nice enough to make me want the book. I would have assumed they were the nicest ones, so it was a pleasant surprice to find that there are, in fact, quite a few dresses I like even better!
This is one of them. It's a bit hard to tell the exact design of the dress, as is the case with quite a few of the dresses, but other than that the pictures are clear and the instructions are quite easy to understand even for those of us who can't read japanese. Line-drawings of the dresses would have been a great help though (anyone up for sewing them all and posting pictures?).
These are the instructions for the dress above. The instructions are quite brief, but the letters and numbers are very instructive and makes the pictures easy to read. In most cases that is (one of the dresses seems impossible to decode, ah such a challenge!).
I made simple scetches of my favourite dresses to try to understand how they are constructed, posted below.
These dresses are SO on my to-sew list! The blue one on the left reminds me of the infinity-dress, was it in fact invented by Ms Vionnet? It wouldn't surprise me, after looking through this book a few times I am truly in awe by her skills.
The green dress on the right has a very sophisticated halter-neckline with a slight gather in the back and little folds on the neck-strap (it was hard to draw, it looks more wonky in my picture than it should).
I think I will make the blue dress on the right of this picture first of all. I love the simple lines and the sophisticated but still rather simple construction.
The green dress on the left is my attempt to dechifer the dress I posted photographs of above. It has a gathered front with a belt-buckle. I'm not quite sure how it's constructed... (so I guess I have to try to make it!).
The red dress on the left is actually a two-piece dress with a bare tummy. Would one expect that from a 1937-design? I love it! The skirt is very wide, cut on the bias like - I think - all other garments in the book.
The black dress has long, flowy sleeves way below the hands. It kind of reminds me of The Lord of the Rings... wonder if the costume-designer knew his (or her) Vionnet?
I love the red dress on the left. Even though it's completely assymetric, it's perfectly well balanced. I'm not sure I would pull it off though, I think I might look totally shapeless and very short in it.... (ah, the curse of the tiny women, but we do look good in jeans!).
The green dress on the right has a pearl-embroidery that emphasizes the cut. It's one of the dresses I had seen prior to buying the book, and although it's a typical 1920's-style, I really like it (I normally go for more curve-inducing styles, my shape needs it!).
I haven't quite figured out what size the patterns are made for, except that they fit a size 9AR, a japanese standard size S. The only indication I've found on how big that actually is was on E-bay, where a used blouse is size 9AR. The seller writes "fit S", and provides a chart where size S has the following measurements: Bust 76-81cm, waist 53-58cm and hips 81-86cm. Quite small, yes... I have to choose the most simple project of them all (a blouse I think) and make a toile to find out.
Update: I found a conversion table for clothing sizes that includes japanese sizes, and a 9 seems to equal a European 36, or an international S. That means it's probably just a tad too big for me. We'll see.
The only thing that puts me off jumping into a project pronto(despite 40 hours of work a week + a red & pink dress to be sewn, first of all) is the fact that the patterns come as diagrams built around 10cm-squares. If I had a big table or floor I might pull off scaling them up, but I just don't. Hurdle too high.
But I do have access to an A1/A0-plotter, AutoCad and an A3 scanner at work. All that combined = a plan to scan the patterns, scale them up in AutoCad (a piece of cake) and plot them in A1 or A0. If you're lazy you must be clever. Just got to ask the boss for permisson to plot them first.... ;-).
For those of you near Paris, there's right now an exhibition of Vionnets designs at the Musée de la mode. But you've got to hurry, it's only on until the 31:st of january! Otherwise the catalogue looks interesting too, it's for sale at the museum for 55 Euro's.
Update: Here's a quite interesting article at Fashion Incubator about the Vionnet Moebius Scarf that can be found in both the Japanese Vionnet and the one writen by Betty Kirke (I think I want that one too..). And here's a comparison between the two books with the Japanese intro translated to English. Courtesy of the great Fashion Incubator!