Sunday, November 10, 2013

DIY: A Magritte Get-Up

Alright, friends, the post you've (not-at-all) been waiting for: the DIY Magritte Get-Up. This outfit is #4 in my Artist of the Month Ensembles after Hokusai's The Great Wave, A Jackson Pollock Splatter-tastic Dress and a Campbell's Soup Dress after Warhol. And I gotta tell you, this outfit was the easiest creation so far.

I started with this little black dress from Target that I'd thrifted years ago. I picked it up because it's one of those basic things that I've heard you're supposed to have in your closet...but I never wore it because it was just too basic for my taste. Cuz, you know, if it's not glitzy, sequins-y, bedazzled or just insanely tacky in some way, I've got no use for it. 

So, whilst cleaning The Clothing Landfill, aka my closet, I decided to move the dress to my Clothing-to-be-Given-a-Makeover Closet. Yes, that's a real place. No, I never get rid of anything. Yes, I realize I have a problem. No, therapy hasn't worked. Yes, I'm willing to try meds, why you got a cheap source...? Hook a girl up, would ya?
The Great Family, 1963

When I settled on Magritte as our next artist, I was influenced by his images of birds filled with clouds. I ordered some cloud-filled fabric from my go-to place: I love this website because they have a crazy huge selection, the prices are awesome and the shipping is lightening fast. As soon as I got my mitts on the fabric, I washed and dried it (always a good idea to wash and dry new fabric to remove the sizing. Just don't ask me what "sizing" is) and set to work.
I started by ironing some interfacing to the wrong side fabric. I did this because if makes for a thicker fabric which I have found to be easier when appliqueing. From there, I sketched out a couple of birds on tissue paper, pinned that to my cloud fabric and cut.
Puh-lease don't judge me by the state of my cutting board. It used to double as a painting station...before I relocated to the dining room table and proceeded to damage that. Which is why we don't have nice things. Story of my life.
The key to applique (which your basic sewing machine can do...just read that highly entertaining thing called a manual) is making sure your needle goes on the outside of the applique piece and then the inside. And go slowly-ish. Especially around pesky corners and hard turns.
Which, as you can see, I have a hard time doing. I was totally stressing over the imperfections of it all until I held it up in the mirror I have on the other side of my sewing room. From a distance, you really can't see those flaws. Besides, ain't nobody gonna get this close to your skirt and if they's not because they're checking out your skirt. And any major errors can always be fixed with a black Sharpie. Because, in my experience I have found one thing to be a solid truth: Sharpies Fix Everything.
Not only did I luck out with already having the dress in my closet, but I also had the blouse and the black jacket. Which left the maroon tie and the apple-faced bowler hat.
The hat was an easy find at the local Halloween costume shop. Unfortunately, it's either a kid's hat or I have an elephant-sized head because that thing was tight. My custodian buddy at school suggested I wear the hat tipped forward which was genius for two reasons: I could actually see beyond the apple and I didn't end up with Hat Headache. And there's nothing worse than that.
To create the apple, I sketched it out on matte board found in my storage closet at school. I knew I had to make the stem really long as that was the part I was going to cut and insert in the brim of the hat.
Once that was finished, I cut this bad boy out with an Exacto. Then I sliced the stem in half and made a small slit in the brim of the hat. I then inserted both the top and bottom of the apple in the brim and hot glued the daylights outta it.
For the tie, I simply used a maroon strip of fabric, sewed it into a tube, turned it and ironed it. The trick was tying the thing, I'd forgotten how! I went through a Dress-Like-a-Dude phase in high school where I routinely wore a tie but sadly the memory of how to tie a tie escaped me. A little help from youtube managed to save the day. I used my gold pin for 15 years of teaching service as my tie tack. I wish I could take credit for those cloud tights but those came from ebay-land. 

And there you have it, folks! I wish I could say I knew exactly who our artist for next month would be but I don't have a firm idea yet. I'm totes open to suggestions, ya'll! So lemme hear 'em if you got 'em. 

Until next time, have a great week!


  1. Love it. I also love teaching surrealism but find high school kids are starting to totally lack the imagination to make their own.

    1. Ohhh, high schoolers. They totally ate my lunch back in student teaching days. I think they do have imagination...they just THINK they don't. Or they just don't think. There's always that ;) I admire you greatly!

  2. Anonymous11/10/2013

    OK, this one? My favourite!!!

  3. Anonymous11/11/2013

    Maybe Georges Seurat for Pointillism? Or how about Mary Cassatt, Augustus Saint-Gaudens, Winslow Homer, or Rodin? While not a specific artist, have you ever thought of doing a unit on Islamic Art? There is such beautiful works of art. I am a tour guide at a major museum and the Islamic Art gallery tends to get overlooked. However, when I take people there as part of a tour, they are always in awe.

    1. Oh, GREAT suggestions!! Thank you. I'm especially loving the Seurat many possibilities! Islamic art unit sounds like a fantastic idea...I love that! Thank you for the inspiration :)

  4. Oh, I love this so much! A perfect idea for a costume party... I'm going to keep it under my hat ('scuse the pun) for future reference.

    And it must be so much fun coming up with ideas for artists to teach to kids. How about Mondrian? Take them through from his early, more cubist work to the De Stijl, and get them doing series of paintings reducing the same scene down, eventually getting to his grids... Or Franz Marc? Getting them playing with his bright colours... Or, on the other end, Whistler, and get them thinking about how white isn't just white and black isn't just black. Or you really should do a woman artist at some point for the girls... Frida Kahlo? Get them painting self portraits with animals and things that symbolise them? Oh, the possibilities are endless! What a fun thing!

  5. Love your outfit Mrs Magritte. I must say you're looking nicer than the mister. I love all your great ideas. For me you're one of the best art teachers in the world. I'm allowed to say that because I know a lot of art teachers and I teach art sometimes myself. A cheer for your creativity!


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