Thursday, January 17, 2008

A New Design: Corset Waist Pants

Since my neck has been giving me so much trouble, I've had a bit of extra time to think about fun new designs I might like to try. I'm still behind in my orders, trying in particular to get one of these tuxedo dresses completed:

and the back view:

The bodice is all hand sewn, with French seams and tiny 1mm long stitches and since it's white on white, I get snow-blinded if I work on it for more than 10 minutes at a time! Actually it's been near impossible to get anything sewing-related done at all these last 6 weeks, seeing as both off-spring and SO are home distracting me and driving me crazy (and yes, I complain now, but as soon as they go back to school/work respectively, I'll be crying about how I miss them!). Even so, I took a bit of time to make up these high-waist pants, the design for which I'd been mentally tossing around for a bit. They're meant to echo the design of vintage girdles, with all the heavy-duty metal hooks and eyes up the front, and the way they hug the torso. They feel really sexy on, although they're a bit large on me (I'm still fine-tuning cut and construction)!

I'll most likely end up narrowing the leg some more, then I'll make them up in XS, S, M and L.
I've bought a whole bunch of corset tape, hook n eye tape and super wide elastic that I'll be playing around with, exploring the girdle and corset theme. But I imagine nothing will really get off the ground until the school holidays are over!

Tuesday, January 8, 2008




"A dress is a piece of ephemeral architecture, designed to enhance the proportions of the female body"
In my own work I always strive, consciously and unconsciously it seems, to create a powerful and recognizably feminine silhouette. I imagine this may be a legacy from my 1960s childhood, where the female shape was very emphasized and defined in the clothing of the era, a post WWII trend that began with Dior's revolutionary "New Look" and which can still be seen overtly influencing fashion into the 80s. My mother was very glamorous with a fantastic figure and impeccable taste so I suppose my notion of what the ideal feminine garment should be started with her.
I would have to say that the above quote from Dior expresses the single most important idea that underpins what I find attractive and desirable in clothing, and what I try to achieve with my own sewing. Silhouette is everything. I want it to be strong, defined, feminine and alluring.
I love the drama of structure. I often joke to clients about "building" them their ideal figure, but that's exactly how it feels to me. If you got here via my etsy
shop you'll know that the pic to the right, is of my high-waist fishtail skirt. While it IS darted and somewhat structured, it's made of a stretch fabric so is forgiving and comfortable and doesn't really "control" the figure, and so can't at all be compared to the sort of garment (as in the first pic, above: the beautiful 1950 Dior Rubempre suit) that is highly tailored with padding and re-shaping of the body; still, my ideal silhouette is achieved through the shapes and proportions provided by the snug, deep waistband, the darted curved hips, the tapered thighs then the outward flare of the fishtail. The long, smooth narrowness of the length down the thigh helps to emphasize the contrast between the flare of the hips and the fishtail (or vice versa) - it's like buying yourself an instant hourglass!!

I'm going on a Dior binge at the moment so will be updating with more snippets of information and pictures as well from this amazing couturier. I'm almost caught up on my custom order back-log, and my neck is feeling somewhat improved, so I hope to be spending some time soon on some lovely new dresses especially dedicated to the celebration of Valentine's Day.
Please check out this lovely blog kept by fellow Etsian, DecadentDiamond:
She's very talented in many different areas!

Monday, January 7, 2008


FOR my first ever really truly blog post, I wanted to write a bit about clothes, because I spend most of my days and nights thinking about the garments I'm making or hope to make. Having to answer the interview questions for the etsy featured seller article recently:
really made me order my thoughts and clarify where I come from, and where I'm going, with my designs for my MaisyBrown label. It was an exciting few days while I was featured - so many wonderful people wrote to say many kind things - but the inspirational effects continue. This year is going to be the year MaisyBrownReproRetro gets bigger, better, more organized, and more focused. I've been reading and researching a bit, re-visiting the books and magazines that I've collected and been inspired by over the years and also getting new ones from the library. One thing I was keen to look into was the TRUE definition of "couture"; it's a word that I have often seen bandied about but I felt sure was being inappropriately applied.
The right to the title of couturier is granted by the Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne, after a designer has fulfilled certain strict criteria.
1. They must maintain at least one atelier (workshop) in Paris
2. This atelier must employ minimum 15 full-time technical staff (houses like Chanel have several ateliers with more than 100 staff; smaller design houses struggle with the heavy financial burden of maintaining the required f/t staff)
3. The clothes must be entirely made-to-order - partial pre-cutting or assembling is verboten! So, it literally must be made to measure, including the toile.
4. Couturiers must show at least twice a year in Paris - prohibitive for many smaller, unstable houses when a single collection may cost $1million or more!

So, the term is very clear and certainly very restrictive, only able to be applied to a very few designers. Furthermore, it's estimated that there may only be 1000 women or less on the planet who can afford to dress in couture. But as my reference book says, "couture remains the prestigious showpiece of French fashion and the place for creativity and originality in design". I'm sure the last point could be argued to include other creators and locations, however, clearly the title of 'couturier' is not up for grabs!
(above, sketch by R Gruau for 1956 Diorissimo advertisement)

Saturday, January 5, 2008


First Ever Blog - Up and Running!


I've been called a twerp, a techno-moron, a Luddite (I'm sure there are many others I don't choose to remember) but I have now officially entered the new century, by managing to set up this MaisyBrownReproRetro blog!

I'll mainly be talking about my Maisy Brown designs that you can find in my etsy store (, because that is what takes up most of my time these days, but I also hope to write posts about the things that interest me, and my life.

I've yet to figure out how to post photos, but I guess that will come. For now, hooray for me and my brand new blog!