Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Sew What?! Mexicali Folk Couture

For no significant reason whatsoever - besides the life-spice that is variety - I am always reticent to put two posts of the same category one immediately after the other.  In this instance, however, an anxiousness to share the beautiful fruits of a successful group effort has me abandoning my stance and bringing you a very special "Sew What?!" 

My mentailty in design is best diagnosed as schizophrenic; one day I'll be appliquéing an angel fish silhouette to a beach ensemble and the next day I'll be hemming a bias-cut evening gown or sewing pom-pom trim to the hem of high-waisted capri pants.  Were I ever to create a cohesive collection, I know that the inspirational through-line would be found at the intersection of ethnic and bohemian fashions - a little corner that I like to call "Folk Couture."

Transcending time and place, the richness, simplicity, and
femininity of folk couture are the true heart of my favorite looks.

Just to prove that we aren't afraid of trying something new, we decided to collaborate with our good pal, Fabian Fioto (remember that name), to see if we could elevate my humble stitchery to something a little more refined.  With no particular destination in mind, we loaded up Fabian's '55 Buick and started scouting locations for a day of photography, featuring the latest from Mr. Tiny's workshop.

With Mary as model, Fabian behind the lens, and Mr. Tiny as stylist and PA (I'm a whiz at holding a reflector), we found the perfect setting at Los Rios Historic District in the shadow of the Mission San Juan Capistrano.


I'm still in the beginning stages of learning to be flexible when it comes to a rigid adherence to my original color story; after so many vain searches for something that only exists in my mind, I am getting more limber - creatively speaking - with every project.  Failing to find the perfect buttercup yellow for the skirt, I settled on a green taffeta that I found for four dollars per yard (a definite splurge by wacky tacky standards).  For many, four dollars per yard is not a price too dear; in fact it might seem downright cheap; it has always been my feeling though that a guaranteed way to make inexpensive fabric look luxurious is simply to use lots and lots of it!  The peasant blouse is made from an ivory lace remnant that was a hand-me-down from my grandma, with ruffles finished in a tatted trim found at my favorite hole-in-the-wall, Mexican fabric store.

I once passed up a lot of vintage millinery flowers at a local swap meet and I kick
myself  to this day.  With my genuine distaste for most of what passes as silk florals
these days, those bygone, vintage flowers haunted me as the only things that I could
imagine affixing to the neckline.  I was surprised to find a bunch of passable, red
poppies at the craft store and cut down the stems to make my own little bouquet.

I don't know if the experience is unique to me, but I am genuinely excited about everything I sew...until the project is finished.  Once a garment has been completed, the momentum is gone.  It is then that I begin to pick apart all of the imperfections and acknowledge the astounding lack of technique.  This ensemble, however, is one of my favorite things that I've ever sewn for Mary; it probably has as much to do with the feeling that I've embraced my favorite design sensibility as it does with finally seeing a finished project fully realized in beautiful photographs.


Would you believe that the combined length of this skirt includes no less than 45 yards of fabric?!?!!
Counting the length of each tier, I figure that I gathered 135 feet of green taffeta!!!




Do you believe me now?


Well, what do you think?  Are you a fan of folk couture?  How do you think we handled our first attempt at a proper photo shoot?  I knew that good lighting, solid camera equipment, and a skilled technician would make a substantive difference from our usual last-minute, front-yard snapshots but I was not prepared for just how significant that difference would be.  I am so impressed with Mary's modeling (she apparently reserves her effort for professionals) and Fabian's camera work (a great director and visionary).

How very quickly it went from this...
...to this.

A huge thanks to my wacky tacky compatriots for making this lone wolf feel like a real collaborator!!!


Cheers!

Mr. Tiny

33 comments:

  1. These shots are pure Louise Dalh-Wolfe from Harper's Bazaar -- only better! (I see a little "Duel in the Sun" in there too.)

    Your sewing work is so awesome , Tiny. I want to be you in my next life. Or Mary.

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    1. Whoops, I mean Louise Dahl-Wolfe.

      http://www.pinterest.com/pin/261490322088609177/

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    2. Love ms. Dahl-Wolfe; the photo of the butterfly ensemble haunts me.

      Hahaha!!! Maybe we could just switch; I could be the witty, urbane New Yorker and you could be..... On second thought, you'd better be Mary!!! Thanks, Peter!

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  2. GOR.GEOUS. Mr. Tiny (+ Mary + Mr. Fioto), you have outdone yourself, these do look straight out of vintage Harper's Bazaar. What a dress! What a location! What a model! Pure magic.

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    1. Thanks, Lisa!!! The experience of making time to shoot things properly was very fulfilling for all of us. I hope we get to do it again soon!

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  3. I adore the seductive green of that taffeta skirt & Mary is indeed a lovely model! Great work! I hope we'll be seeing more of your designs brought to life by a professional photographer.

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    1. Thanks pal! I think things worked out as they should, the green definitely became a winner! We all had such a good experience and we share a vision, so hopefully this is the first of many fun photo shoots.

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  4. Absolutely lovely! All three of you, the designer, the photographer and the model, did a fab job!

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    1. What a stalker post! That was actually me. I was logged in to my other email account when I posted.

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    2. Hahaha!!! Thanks Patricia!

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  5. Absolutely stunning...from the beautifully detailed crochet to the glowing green taffeta! I wish I could find something like this for my collection :)

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  6. Fantastic job! I have been trying to make myself a blouse like Mary's and have had the hardest time. I love folklorico outfits. All those yards of fabric and bright colors.

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    1. I am inspired everytime I see those festive folklorico outfits! It's all about the movement of that fabric. The top went together pretty easily...olive never thought about it before but maybe I need to do a tutorial????

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    2. Please do! I would totally love to see how you do it.

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  7. My Goodness! Each and every one of the photos looks like it could be a photo still from an old movie, or a Coca-Cola ad in the making! Such a wonderful dress, job well done! I love, love, love the green taffeta, it and the lace are just perfect. Absolutely. Stunning.

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    1. Thanks Mick! I too am blown away by these characters; they did such a great job. I guarantee the outfit wouldn't look 1/4 as nice without their talents!

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  8. Dear Mr. Tiny - this is too fabulous and stunning for words. Though I sew some crazy things, I've never attempted a skirt of this magnitude - simply due to fabric cost and intimidating length for gathering!! I absolutely love everything you do, and beautiful Mary's collaborations with you. This is just fantastic, wondering if I can sweet talk Mary into modeling for me someday soon!

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    1. Your work is extraordinary! The skill and artistry that goes into each of your pieces blows my mind. I always aim for minimum input and maximum output (the techniques involved in this outfit are novice for sure). But you're right,it is an unholy amount of material!!! If I had done some math prior to going to the fabric store (twice) the skirt probably would have been scaled down just a bit. Nevertheless, I'm sure glad things turned out the way they did. Get in touch with Mary, I'm sure she'd love to rock some Rockin' B!!!

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  9. Mr Tiny
    You are magnificent !!!!!
    Mary is absolutely stunning, a born natural.
    keep up the great work
    Connie Giurastante

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    1. Bless you, Connie! Come see us!!!

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  10. Mrs what's her name says, "Wow, If I wasn't 65 I would want to be you when I grow up." The sewing, the singing, the jello, writing, and puppetry! no wonder the wonderful computer matched me up to your site! I tink I be following you around for a while. Dis is a good life you found for yourself. I like all these things myself and din't know I was so wacky and tacky too. Good. Good. Write and sew some more with dees beautiful peoples... I'll read all about it. East of the Blue Mountains I covet Green taffeta. Mrs Howard.

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    1. Oh, Mrs. Howard, thanks a million! What would we do without the internet, huh? I'm so glad it brought us together! Thanks for joining the fun!

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  11. Oh, Mr. Tiny how you inspire and delight! Mary is just lovely and the photography is sublime.

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    1. Thanks Anon!!! Didn't Mary and Fabian do a grand job?!! I keep looking at the pictures with awe...and I was there! Thanks again!

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  12. Holy moly! It is even better than you described. Well done, seriously to all invovled! The picture of mmary jumping could seriously come out of Vouge.

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    1. Well, your keystrokes to God's ears. Maybe one of these days we'll end up in Ms. Wintour's good graces. Hahaha!!! Thanks you so much!

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  13. FAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAABULOUS! Mary looks STUNNING! I just LOVE those tiered Mexican skirts and those off the shoulder blouses! What a GREAT photo shoot, too!

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    1. THAAAAAAAAAAAAANKS!!! I'm not sure if we'll ever be able to top it but at least we'll have these great photos!

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  14. wow! the whole thing is amazing! the dress! the photos! and doesn't mary look like a movie star! i can't wait to see more! and i'm glad you included the drawing again!

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    1. Thanks Rae!!! I'm going to do my best to keep adding a sketch - even if it never looks quite like the glory of 45 yards of skirt flying through the air! Hahaha!!!

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  15. Did you use a ruffler to gather all that material?

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    1. No. Like a knucklehead, I did it by hand. I keep adding a the foot to my Christmas wish list but Santa clearly knows on which list I fall...

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