Sunday, July 1, 2012

Sew What?! Mary-mekko

My parents did a good job with our names (Mr. Tiny seems like a bit of an unconventional choice but when you see a beatific, little, infant male, "Mr. Tiny" starts making a whole lot of sense).  Mary in particular works with so many puns, plays-on-words, rhyming couplets, etc.  Not only that, but how many songs are written for and about "Mary" - answer, like a million.

"Mary's A Grand Old Name" - Tom Burke

"Mary, Mary" - The Monkees

"Mary, Mary" Run DMC

Along the way in my highly-sordid and meandering career path, I worked for a large retailer that had a unique relationship with the Finnish fabric manufacturer, Marimekko.  For those unfamiliar with the company, Marimekko was founded in 1949 as a maker of oilcloth.  The company switched gears rather quickly and really took off when the fabric designs (heavily influenced by a mid-century Scandinavian aesthetic) were printed on sturdy cotton and turned into a small line of dresses and skirts.

A sample of early Marimekko apparel from the book,
Marimekko, by Marianne Aav

Designer, Maija Isola's  Unikko by Marimekko
This iconic floral is probably their most
 well-known (and imitated) design.

Marimekko's international popularity blossomed in the 1960's when their oversized, mod patterns
became part of the American domestic landscape with table linens, dishes, decorator fabric, clothing, and even toys.

I love this one!

 Other Marimekko prints

I guess that all of this information is the most circuitous and roundabout method of telling you about "Mary-mekko," the Marimekko outfit I made for Mary.  Last weekend we took part in a top secret mission that "required" a new outfit for Mary.  All I can say is that there was a VERY loose theme - 50's, tiki, pool party.

Once upon a time, when I worked for the aforementioned
retailer, we used my favorite of all Marimekko prints,
1960's "Tulipunainen" by designer, Maija Isola.
  This fabric was printed in many colorways, and when
it became available for employee purchase,
I bought yards and yards and yards of each color. 

To be perfectly forthright, I have never used purple much in my designs; it is one color that just doesn't appeal to me as much as the rest of the spectrum.  Thusly, this particular length of material had languished at the bottom of my fabric hoardings for many years.  The tonal purples (none of them a rich, bright purple) and the awesome print, however, made this material a definite winner in my book.  Moreover, I knew (in the sick way that hoarders are always able rationalize their behavior) that this fabric would one day come in handy and make the perfect outfit.
Inspired by a top that was recently made by my friend
 Lauren at Wearing History, another pattern that I altered to
make her a top for VLV, and the very brief period
of time I was alloted to accomplish this project
(about 5 hours), this is the "Finnish-ed" product -
a ruffled, crop top and a gathered skirt.

I had to laugh at the outcome because I made it out of Scandinavian fabric designed in the 60's, for a 50's-themed Polynesian party, and the result was a little Mexican folky. Unlike the rest of the clothes I make for her, this one was actually pretty quick and simple (as they relate to my middling ability to sew) and she swore that she'd actually wear it again!

Unfortunately, we were in a rush on the day of the secret mission,
and I wasn't sure if cameras were allowed, so I didn't get pictures
of her outfit until long after dark at which time it had become
apparent that my jokes had lost all of their potency.
This is the face of low tolerance.

She carried a large, vintage rattan basket purse that I threw
a fabric medallion/flower adornment on right before we walked
out the door.

Not knowing whether she should say, "Hei,""Aloha," or "Buenos Dias,"
Mary added a hothouse full of orchids to her hair and loaded her arms down
with all of her bamboo bangles to up the tiki ante.  Would you believe
that her bamboo earrings were crafted that morning out of napkin rings?
  Well, believe it!

When the time comes, I'll be able to show & tell a little bit more about our secret mission.  Until then, Mahalo from wacky tacky!


Mr. Tiny


  1. I LOVE this outfit....I wish I had a brother that could whip me up an outfit in 5 hours :)
    Can't wait to see and hear more about this "secret mission"!
    x Molly

    1. Thanks MMD!!! More details on the secret mission will be forthcoming - stay tuned!!

  2. Very nice, I like the little touch to the purse.

    1. Thanks!!! Sometimes pressure is the best motivator!

  3. I have decided that your family needs another sister. I am electing myself so you can make me this amazing outfit. Yes, I sew, but this outfit makes me feel like I don't. Well done! P.S. If your Marimekko fabric stash is ever stolen, you know where to start the back house where Mary will be living! i hope I see more of this outfit from the "secret mission" in the future, it needs to be showcased!

    1. I think I'd rather be adopted by the Ludwigs!!!

  4. Replies
    1. Thanks Lauren!!! You always provide so much inspiration!!!

  5. LOVE Marimekko prints. Absolutely adorable. I like that outfit.

    That top skirt on the left is totally swoon worthy.

    1. Thanks! Yes, that skirt is pretty awesome! It's like a Scandinavian/Picasso hybrid.

  6. Wow, what a super duper outfit-all matchy matchy just like I like it!!!!! *Swoon* She is a lucky gal to have someone make a cute outfit just to wear for a special occasion...with all the accessories! Nice, cool job!! :)

    1. Thanks RS!!! I know, I wish somebody would come up with something for me to wear every time I needed a new outfit! She is LUCKY!!!

  7. Perfection! Napkin rings? You continue to impress me!! How lucky she is!

  8. Mary's outfit is amazing! I too worked at the same retailer (ok it was their outlet)and love Marimekko fabric. I aquired a trunk full of the fabric that I never would have thought to use for an outfit. I think I see some skirts in my future! Might have to make a trip back to the outlet to see what new fabric patterns they have for sale. lol

    1. I made all kinds of junk out of that stuff - pillows, tablecloths, clothes, curtains, aprons. If they have any more Tulipunainen (it had to be from at least 7 years ago), be sure to get me some!!

  9. You're such a magician. "Finnished" project and "would you believe they're napkin rings? Believe it!" cracked me up at the same time as poring over the hair-orchids and the print on the dress made me want to go home and Polynesian-up on this not-so-tiki work ensemble I'm wearing. Well, it's five o'clock Tahiti time zone somewhere...GREAT! JOB! :)

    1. Thanks Lisa!!! Someone asked me to start doing tutorials and I just couldn't figure out any topic on which I could provide adequate information. It occurred to me for only a very brief moment that O could show how I made the napkin ring earrings and then I realized that my homemade technique would just prove too embarrassing - most jewelers don't sew their pieces!!! I am glad that you got some south Pacific inspiration!!!