Deconstructing Bowie ... and the Fabrics in my Flight Suit

Deconstructing bowie flightsuit jerseymurmurs

Selecting fabrics is one of the best parts of sewing your own clothes. For inspiration for my flight suit fabric, I googled David Bowie wearing jumpsuits — and found an array of shapes in bold prints and colors. I used the Blanca Flight Suit pattern by Closet Core Patterns. I went looking for a colorful print with some red in it as his outfits often had a crimson theme, but couldn’t find exactly what I wanted in the right weight. I liked the swirls and graphic quality of this linen fabric (“Midnight Garden” designed by Jilly P for Dashwood Studio — a UK design house!); it reminds me of Bowie’s iconic “Tokyo Pop” Aladdin Sane bodysuit designed by Kansai Yamamoto. The light blue floral London Calling (!) fabric in the back pocket square is also used as a lining for the front pockets and under-collar. A fancy piece of red fabric was perfect for a contrasting front pocket square (mixing patterns makes colors and shapes pop). A sturdy black and white jacquard leftover from another project for the contrasting tie belt. I would have used a brighter thread color for all the top stitching, but my top-stitching skills are not always the best…
My Flight Suit is on display at the National Liberty Museum in Philadelphia, part of the “Deconstructing Bowie: Freedom in Eccentricity” exhibit and the Fifth Annual Philly Loves Bowie Week, continuing through April 3, 2022. "...David Bowie found personal freedom in his unique forms of cultural expression. Through music, art, and fashion, Bowie disrupted and rebelled against societal expectations and norms, introducing new and more critical ways of thinking about race, sex, and gender. This exhibition celebrates David Bowie’s legacy in the creative freedom he inspired in generations of artists that have followed in his wake, artists who have continued to push boundaries and inspire others to do the same."
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Flight Suits are modular tapestries...

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“Flight suits are modular tapestries, their surfaces are designed to be decorated, but work just as well left blank.“ 

“Throughout the 1960s, 70s, and 80s flight suits were found and worn by speed freaks, by artists, by gender non-conformists, by techno-dreamers, by punks, by travelers, by children who wanted to fly...”  [Quotes are from “Flight Suits Take Off” by Maxwell Neely-Cohen] ️

My modular, tapestry-like Flight Suit is on display at the National Liberty Museum at 321 Chestnut Street in Philadelphia until April 3rd 2022, part of the “Deconstructing Bowie” exhibit that celebrates “the timeless power of music and art to challenge cultural expectations and drive both personal and societal change”.

Boogie Flight Suit in "Deconstructing Bowie" Exhibit

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Thrilled that my “Boogie Flight Suit” is part of the “Deconstructing Bowie: Freedom in Eccentricity” exhibit at Philadelphia’s National Liberty Museum that celebrates David Bowie’s “timeless power to challenge cultural norms and inspire others to share their unique creative voice.” (Vexed that omicron means I can’t see it in person yet.)

David Bowie showed me that you can reinvent yourself. And, in fact, as we age, a key to surviving and thriving is to be able to reinvent ourselves – as many times as necessary. One way that I reinvent is by making my own clothes. There is something so satisfying and liberating about selecting a flat piece of fabric and cutting and sewing it to make it fit the body – it’s part art and part science. And when you’re finished constructing, what you have is something unique and different. A garment that even a year ago you might never have considered wearing. Who wants to play the same role all the time? (Bowie didn’t.)

Consider the Flight Suit (also known as a “boiler-suit”) a garment that Bowie explored. It is gender neutral. It is not a sexualized garment. It is functional and allows freedom of movement. It can be rendered in many different types of fabrics – denim, linen, silk. It is purposeful. It is customizable – a collar can be turned up; sleeves can be long or short; it can be belted or not. It can go punk, funk, or high-fashion. A perfect garment for re-invention.

I used the Blanca Flight Suit sewing pattern by Closet Core Patterns and a linen fabric from Stylemaker Fabrics of “dancing, changing waves” for my let-the-children-Boogie Flight Suit.

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The Boogie Flight Suit -- behind and to the right of this crazy cool keyboard -- and lots of other interesting David Bowie-influenced artwork is on view in the "Deconstructing Bowie" exhibit at the National Liberty Museum at 321 Chestnut St. in Philadelphia from January 7, 2022 until April 3, 2022.

Folk Art Frankie Dolls

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For many years my mother made what she called “soft sculpture” dolls. The bodies were cut from muslin using a pattern she had purchased over 40 years ago (“Gingersnap Friends” by DreamSpinners; see the last photo, below). She embroidered the faces, added yarn hair and other details, and sewed clothes for them — often using recycled fabrics. She made these unique and personal dolls for family and friends (mine, made when I moved into an apartment with no roommates, is shown below; she dubbed the winking doll “NTR” — the No Trouble Roommate). Recently my brother asked her to make dolls for his granddaughters, but because of her illness it was too much for her. I took it over and — due to time constraints — attempted to simplify their construction. I figured if I used colorful, printed fabric then the dolls were already “dressed”, saving me some work. Once I found the vibrant colors and patterns of Bright Eyes fabric by @annamariahorner I decided they didn’t need hair or faces either. And they really came alive when I added embroidery details to their knees, elbows, and heads.
My mother was delighted with the colorful dolls and she helped me stuff them (when we were finished, she said “I mean how can a kid look at that and not smile?”). I told her that hers were “Fine Art” and mine were “Folk Art”! Her mother fondly called her “Frankie” so we christened our soft sculptures “Frankie Dolls”.

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Grab 'em by the Mid-terms


My “Grab ‘Em By The Mid-terms” oven mitt was voted-in to the “Know Your Meme: Stitching Viral Art” exhibition and is on display at the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles from October 20, 2019 through January 12, 2020. In true “meme” fashion, the artwork selection for the exhibit was driven by the power of the people, curated by the number of online votes.


The exhibition explores the concept of the meme as a poignant method to summarize, understand, and critique important societal issues and current events. All artworks must depict, relate to, or reference a meme through a textile method such as quilting, embroidery, cross- stitching, knitting and crocheting, weaving, basketry, etc.


My Artist's Statement: What better way to “grab ‘em by the mid-terms” than with a hardy, handmade oven mitt! Stitched and sewn in anticipation of the November 2018 mid-term elections. The magenta pink harkens back to the women’s pussy hat marches. A Newsweek story about the January 2018 women’s march called “grab ‘em by the mid-terms” a “mordant” slogan – i.e., biting or stinging. A mitt that is useful in the kitchen and when marching in the street…



Espadrilles! I made my own shoes


I made my own Espadrille shoes in a class at the Butcher's Sew Shop. We brought our own fabric then cut and sewed the two fabrics (outside and lining) into a top and sides.


The fabric was then fitted to the traditional rubber and jute soles (from Diegos), pinned, and blanket-stitched using cotton twine.


The outside fabric is a linen/cotton blend (Whisp in Peacock from Erin Dollar's Balboa collection). The lining is a Kaffe Fassett shot cotton (Narrow Spice Woven Stripes).


CMYK: What a Thrill!


What a kick! My pussy-hat-magenta-pink "Girls Just Want to have Fundamental Human Rights" chiffon scarf is in the just-released CMYK issue of Uppercase magazine! The issue is full of the work of many talented people and pulls together so many of my favorite things (the Folly Cove Designers, Josef Albers-inspired weavings, offset lithography, typography, and fabric just to name a few). There's even a story about an innovative new ink derived from car exhaust, that turns pollutants into artistic possibilities (Graviky).


Each page and that eye-catching drawdown cover by Baltimore Print Studios is a delight that leaves me feeling "hi-res"!



My father made this wooden sewing caddy while in school and gave it to his mother. It hold spools of thread, scissors, and above the wings -- along the body -- is a place for pins. It was well-used by my grandmother who excelled in the Peaceful Arts and now I am using it as well.