Friday, April 8, 2011

Guest Post: Exploring the Avant-Garde with Uncommon Thread

When Holly Maynard e-mailed me about the Uncommon Thread Wearable Art contest, I thought it sounded like a really cool opportunity to play around with avant-garde sewing and design. Here's more about the event, in Holly's own words!--Gertie
I want to start off by saying thanks to Gertie for sharing her blog with me today. I have been a fan for a long time and I’m flattered she let me temporarily hijack her corner of the internet. I am here to spread the word about a wearable art competition that I help to organize each year in Baton Rouge called Uncommon Thread. The theme of this year’s show is Transmogrify, and I thought this might be especially relevant to Gertie readers. Not only because you are a creative bunch, but also because of the lively discussions on body image and retro fashion that pop up around here.

The definition of Transmogrify is “to transform in a sudden or magical way.” By definition, it promises that the submissions will be dynamic and interesting. While the arenas of magic, myth and nature are rife with examples of this Transmogrify theme, there are also plenty of transformations occurring everyday during the grooming and beauty rituals of us humans.

I will use myself as an example. My initial thought when I imagine something with transformative powers is not a superhero or a sorcerer, but…my girdle. This isn’t a pair of almost cool Spanx that are almost disguised as tights. This is an unapologetic, industrial strength, butt-hugging, gut-slimming piece of mid-century armor with smoothing panels that are decorated in a hotel bedspread-like floral motif. It goes without saying that this girdle transforms me physically. But what is more interesting is the internal transformation that occurs. After wiggling into this thing, this shy and slightly awkward slouch is replaced by someone a bit more elegant and outgoing. She never has lipstick on her teeth. She makes witty jokes. She knows (and will perform) all the choreography to Thriller, and she can get through an entire day of wearing a white shirt without spilling anything on it. When I pull these beloved briefs all the way up to the bottom of my bra, look out. Wonder Woman’s bracelets have nothing on this baby.

Now, I know all the arguments and discussions that have been held in this very place about conforming to an ideal standard of beauty or an ideal standard of anything for that matter. I hope this post doesn’t read like a vintage lingerie ad about how your girdle can make you a better person. In fact, I seem to remember Gertie pondering if her girdle was making her dumb. I know that, technically, this poised and clever version of me already exists and doesn’t need to be released by the restriction that some lycra and elastic provides. But, if Jem can have her hologram earrings, why can’t I have my girdle?

While I do admit that it is possible that I might have an unhealthy affection for my supportive shape wear, I doubt that I am alone in thinking that some garments have a way of transforming the wearer both physically and mentally. Doesn’t everyone have that one magic piece that automatically puts you in a good mood every time you put it on? If not, and I am truly the only person that believes in the magical transformative power of certain clothes, well… I have my girdle to keep me company.

As odd as my devotion to my girdle may seem, it actually serves as an inspiration for a piece to submit to the show. The concept that I am trying to communicate is that the power of some garments actually lies in the way they bolster the confidence of the person wearing them.

In order to visually convey that idea in a garment for the show, I am thinking about making a coat with a big stand up collar that actually improves the way the wearer sees herself. I am torn on how to achieve this. One thought is to utilize the amazing Spoonflower and have fabric printed with photos of the model all dolled up in different alter egos. Another, more dramatic approach would be to use mirrors (stay with me here). The idea is to somehow make the coat look like it was made completely out of mirrors, (I would probably resort to gluing mirrors onto the coat, shhhhh don’t tell Gertie) and then overlay all of those mirrors with clear decals of made up faces. Hopefully, at the end of the process, the coat is a striking garment that represents the simple idea inspired by my girdle.

So, Gertie readers, I think that you constitute a pool of talented and enthusiastic sewists with creative and inventive ideas of what it means to transmogrify. If you agree, then pat yourself on the back and please answer the call to artists for Uncommon Thread 2011. The submission deadline is April 25, 2011 and the show is on May 13, 2011. You can find more information as well as footage and photos of past shows at I hope that you feel encouraged to tell us what transmogrification means to you, whatever your interpretation may be.

If you have any questions about the show, you can contact me at hollyrmaynard [at] gmail [dot] com.


  1. My piece of magic is much simpler and involves eyeliner, mascara and a bit of lipstick! I can make the magic more potent with a bit of hair styling... I become a more confident person when I feel polished!

  2. Underwear does it for me as well! Add a pair of heels and I can do anything.

  3. It's so refreshing to see this contest getting some notoriety outside of my hometown. So hand claps for that. However, I was a bit disappointed by the short deadline this year because I wanted to participate after I waited all year last year to end up with no contest held in 2010. Still, good luck to all the people who are able to submit this year and thanks for passing the word along about it!

  4. I think this is an interesting event..The costumes, make up and other things look so interesting..


Thanks for your comments; I read each and every one! xo Gertie

© Gertie's Blog For Better Sewing. Powered by Cake