Monday, February 16, 2015

TOTE bag

Project #7


I had about an hour the other day so I made this tote. Years ago I bought this New York City fabric from The City Quilter and wanted to use it. After living in New York for 13 years, I have a fondness for the city.

It’s two rectangles with the bottom corners cut off/sewn diagonally. Nothing difficult. The grommets are so fun. They come from the drapery department and are so easy to snap over the cut out holes! One Xmas I made about 20 bags featuring these grommets.

Here is the inside with Jane Sassaman lining fabric.


Back to costume sewing for the upcoming high school musical next weekend!

That’s what is taking up most of my time but it should be a fantastic show…How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying!

Saturday, February 14, 2015

R.I.P. Koos van den Akker




Here is a photo of the last time I saw Koos in his workroom in Nov of 2011.

February 3, 2015, Koos van den Akker died of colon cancer at a hospice in New York surrounded by good friends. The model for our book, Kathleen Scully, and former assistant to Koos kept me there in spirit with her texts. 

I’ve known for a few months that he had Stage 4 Colon cancer but had to keep it quiet. They didn’t want anyone to know and I couldn’t get to NYC in the last months of the year with the holidays, travel and all.

You can read my full tribute that I wrote for Threads online if you click on the link here but I wanted to say some other personal remarks here.

Threads magazine

You’ll notice in my tribute that I didn’t even mention that he designed the sweaters that Bill Cosby wore on his tv show. People only seem to know Koos for those sweaters but it’s such a small part of his career.

I met him when I was about 20 years old. When I was studying Fashion Design at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY, I only wanted to work for a Couture house vs. mass merchandising companies. I wrote him a letter, had an informal interview and got the internship for my Senior year.

I remember the first time I saw him. Two men were talking in the factory. I went to the man in the suit but he walked away...Koos was the one in the wild surfer type, loud printed shirt! I should have known.

lf you really know him, his gruff, grouchy personality is just the outer layer and not at all the ‘real’ Koos. The real Koos was someone who just wanted to love and be loved and was a workaholic. Unfortunately, his one beloved partner died a long time ago and his frustration was what appeared on the surface too often.

He loved to have young people around him. He loved to mentor them and see their success. When he didn’t call me a ‘housewife’ (and not in a good way), he told me how lucky I was to leave NYC and have a family and a good life. He told me that I did it right. I think that was the real Koos.

We, in the inner circle, put up with some of the harshness because we admired his talent and respected him greatly. He had high expectations and was very demanding of himself and others…but that is a good quality in an artist. I know that many times when I thought…seen it, he would change it up and show us an amazing garment that would take my breath away!

So, we lost a very creative person and a friend but he trained his staff so that they can continue beautifying women in his style and vision.  I cherish the coat that he made for me when I wrote his book,Koos Couture Collage. It is a treasure because I felt his gratitude and appreciation.

Every phone call ended with “Be Well!” but the last call I had with him, he said, “Love you”. And I cried for hours…

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Upcycled Men’s Jacket Fun

Project #6


Two weeks ago I went to a Crafts Fair with a friend and they were selling some cute jackets like this but nothing fit me. So I went on a hunt to my local thrift stores (now becoming my fav places to go) to find a men’s jacket to embellish. I bought two at $5.99 each, what a bargain. Beautiful wool, fully lined and in good condition.

First, the fun part…taking out all my antique buttons and trying to find ones to go with the jacket and make a pleasing pocket arrangement. It took a while.


It was fun to finally have a reason to use all the hundreds of buttons I’ve been collecting for years!



Then in my newly organized Embellishments drawer, I found a small bolt of black galloon lace, 5 inches wide. Who knows where it came from and how long I’ve had it! But now that I need it, it is handy.

I folded it in half and put it around the cuff. If the sleeves were too long, I would turn them up on the outside, stitch them down and then add lace over them, but these were a good length.

I zigzagged the scallop edge with matching black thread and you can’t see the stitching. It is folded so that the stitching caught the lace on the inside and holds it down.



For the collar, I pinned the scallop close to the edge and then folded the lace to match the lapel seam line. I folded the lace to the inside and cut it to match the collar seam where it is attached to the jacket.  The outer edge that you see in this picture was zigzagged but the inner edge I just hand basted down.

Last step, cut some lace, gather it and put it in the pocket.

One thing I will say is that it is not as easy as it looks to sew down these buttons in precision. I had to snip and redo some a few times to make them line up right.  That square button is supposed to be ‘on point’. I have a second blazer that I started but don’t like the button arrangement so I will work on that and show you when it is done.