Saturday, January 5, 2013

Holiday Field Trip to Sophia Graydon

Last fall, when my sister in law Meredith sent me information about the launch of her friend Monica's new clothing business, Sophia Graydon, I signed up for their newsletters and was intrigued.  Maybe stunned. The clothes were gorgeous, the price points up there.  A new category of dressing, not exactly lingerie, part loungewear, though that name seems not only dated but limited.  

Sophia Graydon is based in Minneapolis, and Meredith arranged for a studio visit while I was in Minnesota over the Christmas holidays. One of my favorite things is to have an inside peek into a design studio.

I'd admired the clothes online, but it is another thing entirely  to see them in person.  Each garment is impeccable...from the design to the thoughtful painstaking construction.  Every garment hangs like an arrow.  Perfectly finished seams, Not one detail overlooked.  Reminded me of looking at the construction on Issey Miyake clothes which are made in Japan by highly skilled seamstresses using classic time honored techniques so the inside of the garment is as beautiful as the outside.  

Sophia Graydon's line is made in the US, highly unusual in this day and age.  The prices are high, but are a gauge of what clothes would really cost if they were made in America using the kinds of techniques you and I use in the clothes we make for ourselves.  I recommend reading the book Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion which is a very interesting perspective on how people have become accustomed to the unrealistic costs of cheap clothes and who really pays in the end.  

Created by Monica Nassif, founder of home goods companies Caldrea and Mrs. Meyer's Clean day, Sophia Graydon was born out of Monica's frustrations in finding luxurious and well-made sleepwear and loungewear.  When Nassif sold Caldrea she was looking forward to some time off.  After scouring stores, catalogues and the Internet for something she wanted to wear around the house, she was disappointed by the lack of options for women wh desire the same level of style and quality in sleepwear that she seeks in her everyday wardrobe.  Monica took matters into her own hands by developing the collection she was dreaming of, now known as Sophia Graydon.

Monica Nassif
"When I finally had time to relax, it was impossible to find elegant and comfortable sleepwear. In my search I learned I had three choices: frumpy flannel nightgowns, tart wear that was not made for lounging, or my own personal fallback, broken-in athletic wear,   I quickly realized my retirement was over. I had to create a line that perfects the art of leisure through beautiful pieces that don't sacrifice style, quality or comfort,"

The Studio

Pattern making table 

Cutting table in the background, bank of 3 machines in the foreground.  While most of the Sophia Graydon line is produced in small workshops in New York, they recently sewed the entire lace collection here in the studio when the contractor dropped the ball.  

Enviable pressing area

In the photos above, the ironing board is the same one I use in my studio and I LOVE it.  Mine is a simpler version, the Reliable C60.  The version used, shown above,  in the Sophia Grayson sample room is the Reliable C81, which has a built in vacuum to remove steam, and an up-air motir which reverses the vacuum to create a cusion of air for enhanced pressing.....ideal for pressing silks and delicate fabrics.  

THE Iron

The iron that sets the standard.  People often ask me which iron I use.  Mine is an ancient Sussman (no longer made), which I know is on its last legs.  I've been researching what to replace it with when the time comes and this is it. 
The iron of a lifetime, the Reliable i500 3 Gallon Professional Iron.  Expensive, yes....but how many household irons have you and I gone through over a lifetime of sewing?

The Patternmaker, a BIG talent!

The finesse of the patternmakers draft is the bones of any collection.  This young woman is a huge talent!

The Clothes

On our way home, Meredith and I pondered the question, 'if I were to get ONE piece, what might it be?'

We both love the basic pajama shirt which could be worn as a blouse too....  But then, it requires  pants which are purchased separately.

The Cashmere robe lined in silk is such a fabulous fantasy, but we decided probably does not suit our lifestyle for the moment.

Silk pajamas are very tempting.....
The silk robe tempts too....but one drop of anything spoils everything...not for cooking.

Best Seller

I asked Monica what was the best seller in the line.  It is this simple little chemise.

Marcy's choice.  I'd wear the nightshirt with leggings for the ultimate in at home pajama days!
Meredith's Choice
Examining the robe reveals a sewing tutorial.  Look closely.  The fabric is noble.  Swiss cotton, super soft and malleable.  The tie has flat loops with buttonholes to keep it from falling out of the back loops.  I said that it would take me a long time to make just that one piece.  The robe is fully lined in a slightly lighter weight lightly ribbed cotton, which is also used for the piping along the front band, pocket and cuffs.
Take note of the deep hem and side slit which is a Sophia Graydon trademark technique and one a home sewist could incorporate.  

Bear in mind that this is the very first collection from a small woman owned company to watch be inspired by and to dream over.  We had a preview of the Spring Collection on our visit.  It is more extensive than the first collection, and the fabrics are fabulous. 


  1. WOW! just gorgeous - i'd go straight for the cashmere/silk robe! lifestyle/smifestyle, i'm freezing me tootsies off this winter and nothing's warmer ;) why not look like a contessa at the same time?

    a little over a year ago i was down in Pacific Grove and spied the most beautiful pieces in a boutique window. I went back the next day with my camera to BiBa boutique - they were showcasing the collaboration of Tobin Keller (printmaker) and Barbara Bartels (artist and fashion designer). I was just floored - layers of hand dyed silk crepe and chiffon, over-printed with Tobin's mesmerizing botanically based prints, the dress designs simple yet unexpected, always changing with light and air.

    i titled my post about it Perfection, the only & obvious choice:

    i don't know that i do their collaboration justice, but go take a look! and i am happy to see there are a couple of websites with more of their work up where people can see it:

    i hope you enjoy these pieces - you have introduced me to so many unique and wonderful designers and sewers on your blog and newsletter! Thank you and have a great day - stay warm (brrr...) steph

  2. Inspirational! The simplicity so appeals and the fabrics look soft and welcoming. Please more like this.

    Fran Giacobbe

  3. It's interesting to see that I am not alone in finding this apparel niche is so neglected. After looking everywhere for high quality 'at home' lounge wear for my sister's Christmas present, I ended up sewing an outfit for her--it was the only way I could get the textile quality, design and function I was looking for. What an opportunity for some creative and fun design work!

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  5. Love, love, love the new dress. It has a fresh look I rarely see. It's not a re-tread we've seen a million times before. Great design, Marcy, and your fabric choices are fabulous. Can't wait to make it up.

  6. Pretty clothes! I really love it. You are lucky to have a chance to go there. Wish I can also have a dress made by Sophia Graydon.

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