Friday, April 22, 2011

Modern Workshop by Oliver + S




The very first time I met Liesl of Oliver + S was at Fall Market 2010. I had the great pleasure of having dinner with her and let me tell you, she is one neat lady. Since then I have been just waiting to chat with her again and today is the day! I am so excited to have her here with us on the Jolly Jabber so you all can see for yourself. So let's welcome Liesl Gibson...


Since first discovering it in college, I’ve admired the work of the Wiener Werkstatte, a circle of artists and craftspeople based in Vienna at the turn into the twentieth century. I love the strong, graphic nature of their prints, paintings, and homewares. But I also have a particular affinity for their design philosophy.

These artisans were living during the height of the industrial revolution, which for the first time in history made mass produced items widely available at low prices. In response to their economic environment, the members of the Wiener Werkstatte created unique, hand-crafted objects that stood in opposition to the machined, industrially-produced items that were filling middle-class homes. The things they created were beautiful and are noted today for their enduring quality and their unique design sensibility. As you can imagine, I have a strong admiration for this handmade philosophy, and I highly value today’s unique, hand-crafted items that stand apart from the cheap, mass-produced, imported objects that flood our contemporary store shelves.

When I was thinking about developing this collection, I paid several visits to one of my favorite small museums here in New York, the Neue Galerie, which specializes in the art of this period. In looking through the work there, I realized that the strong graphic nature of this period’s prints could be translated and updated nicely for the twenty-first century crafting community.




To create the collection, I started with two central prints, a very large and bold geometric curve and a large abstract floral. I worked them up in four different colorways—using a color palette that is much more contemporary than historical. I wanted colors that were bright, cheerful, and that felt very much like today. I then worked some elements of these central prints into a number of smaller-scale prints which include both geometric and floral motifs to complete the collection.

The final collection came in at 32 prints that all make use of a fresh, twenty-first-century color palette. The collection features a mix of small scale and large scale prints which makes it ideal for both garment sewing and quilting. All the prints are available on Moda’s wonderfully smooth and silky quilting-weight cotton fabric. Additionally, the collection includes a selection of six luxurious interlock knits and three waterproof PU-coated fabrics.

I’ve been sewing with Modern Workshop for a while now, and I’ve been happy with how it works when it’s actually put to use. Most recently, I’ve made samples from the collection for our new Spring-Summer 2011 Oliver + S sewing patterns.




The Seashore Sundress is made from the large, bold, graphic French curve central print from the collection.






The Family Reunion Dress is made from one of the smaller, supporting floral prints that picks up the floral motif from the collection’s central floral print.






And the Class Picnic Blouse + Shorts sample was made from two of the geometric prints (one a wavy stripe, the other a dot) which will also work well for quilting.







I also designed a quilt for this collection, which makes use of the colors for a graphic, contemporary version of a strip quilt that’s easy and quick to sew and creates an interesting overall pattern when the placement of the strips is staggered.

It’s so fun to see what our customers make from our fabrics, and now that it’s available I’m eager to see items start turning up in the Oliver + S Flickr group.

Cheers,
Liesl

[You can also meet her on her blog with a video about Modern Workshop!]



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