Inspired by Claire McCardell

Lately I’ve begun looking to the fashion designer Claire McCardell for some guidance and inspiration in my personal design process.  You may not have heard of her.  She was the top American designer in the 40’s and 50’s….an American Chanel, if you will.  Like Coco Chanel, she wanted to create clothing that was functional and easy to wear.  She was designing for the changing lifetsyle of American women.  Designing for women who were homemakers or worked outside the home or both.  Dresses that a woman could put on by herself: no back zippers here.  Her designs are relatively simple, but still beautiful.  I took advantage of the FIT library a few weeks ago and researched her.  My primary resource was Claire McCardell: Redefining Modernism by Kohle Yohannan and Nancy Nolf.  The book has many beautiful images of her designs.  I hope to do lots more research. I would love to get my hands on some of her garments and inspect them, recreate them.  I may start a separate blog devoted just to my Claire McCardell research.

I’ve already used my Claire McCardell research in my making.  I just finished sewing a wool jersey faux wrap dress that seems very influenced by McCardell.  I used a DKNY Vogue pattern and a beautiful melange army green wool jersey (a material the McCardell was very fond of).  I’ll post a picture soon.  I got several compliments on the dress, so I think  it’s a success.

I’m also currently knitting up a pattern designed by Claire McCardell herself and distributed by the yarn company Red Heart.  It’s a short sleeve faux-wrap top.  I guess i’m into the wrapping thing now…as Claire would be.  Will post pics when I’m done with that.


jay st. edition 1

I spent almost all of last weekend making my first ‘zine.  It’s called “Jay St.”  Jay Street-Borough Hall is a stop on the NY subway. I transfer there from the A/C/E & other trains to get on the F train to go home, and it seems like i get stuck there at 2:30 am on weekend nights quite frequently.  Sometimes it’s hard to carry a book in a “going-out” purse, so i decided to make a small ‘zine with activities to occupy the wait time at Jay St.  Edition #1 has a crossword, 2 sudokus, 8 riddles, a wooly willy page, a game of mash, a list of free museums in NY, a subway map (so small i’m not sure it’s useful) and a cover page with original artwork by yours truly.

Jay St. cover art

Jay St. cover art

 I made a small batch just to test it out.  If you’d like your own copy please email me at joym.olson at gmail dot com.  I’d love to make you one!  Ideally I would give them to a bunch of people stuck on the Jay St. platform at 2 am in the morning, they would readily accept them and hilarity would ensue with drunk people engaging each other in M.A.S.H. games and crossword puzzles. oh what a fantasy.

More Mark Bittman-Staples for the New Year

So, it’s becoming apparent to me that I am a fan of Mark Bittman, the food writer for the NY Times.  This is the second food post in a row about his writing.  The first was about Vermont locavore cuisine.  Today, he has a great article on what should be purged from or added to your pantry. I find it inspiring.  I’ve been needing to get rid of my old spices (honestly, we got a great spice rack as a wedding gift 3 years ago and some of the bottles still have the same contents as when I opened the gift).  Maybe now I will actually do it.  Editing a closet, I’ve heard of, but editing a pantry is a new idea for me.  The white beans recipes are making my mouth water…