Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Lettin' you down already...4 square.

...but it doesn't mean we haven't been working. With the onset of the beginning of the week: Monday was spent finishing up a dress for an Austin Monthly photo shoot. I have this "sick" desire to challenge myself by putting self-imposed parameters on my designs. So, on Monday, after 4 or 5 days of draping, hand basting and NO cutting of fabric - I finished a "party" dress for the shoot. The magazine had asked 3 Austin designers to come up with their version of a dress for the holiday season - as that whole concept basically means nothing to me, I set down some rules for myself and off I went.

It went something like this: my lovely friend, Gloria, in her quest to clean out her home, came to the atelier and gave me some beautiful fabric in varying colors, textures and weights. Among this fabric was a bolt of creme colored, ruddy raw silk from China in the 1970's. Wow, what a hand, and boy, does it drape when held on the bias. And the hue meshes perfectly with the wool yarns I bought from the Navajo weavers this summer. So the challenge: one small bolt of this silk was 28" wide and I had just enough to cut 4 squares of 28"x28" and away I went. First in muslin and then easily switching over to the silk, itself, I draped, pinned and basted - and never cut into ANY of the squares. That was my personal challenge: to use this fabric with its exquisite draping quality, to its fullest potential without ever picking up the scissors. And then to incorporate the yarn into the sleeves and seams. The entire dress was hand basted and then sewn (only on my old industrial with a straight stitch.) And if ever reconstructed - the pattern maker would find four perfect squares.

I had been so inspired by Madame Grès this summer - she would order her fabric in extra wide widths because she liked to avoid cutting into the cloth. She folded, pleated and stitched without often cutting. And then, recently I looked at an old book on Vionnet - the chapters were
divided into shapes. The basic simple pattern forms were decided upon, then folded - and of course, often hung on the bias - without using 10 or 20 cuts into a tailored piece. Her exquisite designs came from her knowledge of the fabric and how it took to the body.

So, that's what I have been up to - and that's what I am continuing to do. Four pieces will be presented in this collection - all constructed from four pieces of perfect squares. And will never see a pair of scissors.

A plus tard...


  1. wow Gail you never cease to amaze me. Ive been longing for a good collection show so thank you.
    Keith Valentine

  2. I also got to visit the Mme Gres exhibit this Spring in Paris, and I concur that it was absolutely amazing. Bravo and congrats on your collection!

    My visit: