Thursday, July 21, 2016

Burda's Vintage Jane Dress

It's been so long since I've done a blog post of any kind.

I don't really know what my excuse is aside from just.... life. Not making as many garments as I once did (although I keep buying patterns and fabric for the next projects). I finally have decided to take a page from the book of some other bloggers and just take photos of things I make in my sewing room instead of wait for a good day to take them in a scenic place outside.

Sure, scenic is nice but.... it's not always possible.

So here we are! I finally cut and sewed Burda's Jane dress (which has also been done for like a month now). The pattern packet I made for it said I printed it in January. Yikes.

There are a few minor things that bother me about this pattern. I didn't make a muslin (as always) and because of that, on me the bust darts are far lower than they should be. (See if you can tell in the photos).

This dress also particularly makes me feel a bit boobalicious somehow. See below.

  I think it just might be the white contrast. Maybe? I can't tell. I haven't gained any weight (if anything, I lost about 5 lbs since I lived in Michigan and on a 5 foot girl, that's significant enough) but perhaps it's my bra? I've been wearing the same brand/design for YEARS now, so maybe not that. Could be that I just got used to how I look in loose, flowy clothing in my everyday life and forgot what I actually look like beneath all of that.

Here's the back! (See below.) 

 I also feel a bit like Veruca Salt in this dress, but that's ok since she's from one of my favorite movies. My demeanor is the complete opposite of hers though!
I also made this dress in a stable but soft ponte knit although the pattern is technially for wovens. I've been doing far more stretch knits lately and I am loving wearing the garments far more. I do love a good woven shirtdress every now and then but as most of you know, our modern wardrobe doesn't usually consist of those types of fabrics.

You can, however see in the background that I am working on a woven: a Butterick reproduction dress from 1947! Some of you on Instagram were surprised that I would deviate from my 1960s typical look, but I have so many facets that I don't always show on the blog.... or even on social media for that matter.

I fell in love with a fabric on produced by Art Gallery fabrics (specifically Leah Duncan) and had to have the fabric. The 1947 pattern I have had since 2012 and have never even thought about making anything with it until I found the fabric. (Head to @manicpop on Instagram and scroll through to find photos of me in my muslin to see a fabric swatch too!)

Here is Burda's Jane Dress on my dressform:

Another slight thing that bothers me on this dress: the circle part. I know what I did wrong though.

 You can't tell from this photo, but I had stitched it PERFECTLY on the inside. What I should have done? Dialed my stitch down from 3 to about 1. That way, when I flipped the lining part behind it to the outside for a clean edge, I would have been able to have a rounder circle. Next time!

Otherwise, the dress wasn't hard to sew and I sewed the majority of it on my serger due to the knit I used.

 Yes, there is a minor hole near the end of the zipper there, and yes it's been fixed since this photo! Shhhh!

And while we're here, let's show off my new sewing room!
We unfortunately had to move in May (which was a complete surprise.) There were issues in the apartment we were in and the management decided we would need to move out so they could fix said issues. That's another reason for not sewing as much: constant life upheaval. I know everyone deals differently but I need to be settled a bit more before I can sit down and sew.

We were lucky enough to have a unit open up in the same building and up one floor and the result is a much nicer apartment and even though the square footage of this sewing room is actually SMALLER it's laid out way differently so it feels bigger. Weird, right? 

 You can see a peek of that gorgeous Leah Duncan fabric for Art Gallery right there!

One thing I love most that I got only last year was a bulletin board. Just anything that I want ends up on here. Sometimes it's patterns I want to make, other times it's artwork that I printed, and some is artwork I've made or papercrafts. 

I also upgraded to a cube organizer instead of an old bookshelf that I had painted in my old backyard. This organizer is stackable so I eventually might buy a second one. We'll see, but for me that might be excessive. I do love the bright colors I have in it!

So that's the latest update. I can't wait to get working on the Butterick 1947 dress, but I'm also being lazy about cutting the fabric. Such is life. 

Have you made or plan to make the Burda Jane dress?

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Burda Stripe Top and NOT Reinventing the Wheel

Hey guys! Check out a new Burda asymmetrical stripe top that I FINALLY finished making! 

I bought the magazine with this pattern in it over 2 years ago and while digging through my stuff, I found this pattern. I kind of yelled at myself like, "WHY haven't you made this yet?!"

Since I am playing with more jersey knit/stretch knit, this one was perfect. And the fabric from couldn't have been any softer, stretchier or nicer to work with! 

It sewed up really fast, but I was also really lazy with it, taking weeks in between to just hem the sleeves or bottom hem. No real reason why, aside from work being busy and I just wasn't feeling like jumping into my sewing room.

You can see on this side, I matched up the stripes pretty well but the other side (probably due to the scrunchiness on the raglan sleeve on the right side) is kind of a mess match-wise (below).

But no one really cares!! 

The thing is, I literally used to make ALL of my own sewing patterns up until about mid-2015. Why? Because that's what I went to school for and I thought that I should ALWAYS use my own, self-designed and measured pattern blocks, especially if I had the skill.

I thought I should always do things the hard way and I should ONLY be wearing my own designs if I was sewing anything. 

Now I realize that said thought process was quite self-limiting. There were so many things I could do/learn/cut corners with if I just used commercial patterns. Clearly, if I had a design for something that there was no commercial pattern available but I really wanted to bring to life (like the Petra Dress or the Sunrise Panel dress) then I made the pattern. 

But I REALLY made life hard on myself by ONLY making things 100% from scratch. And even then, when I made my own things from scratch, it was really all the commercial sewing patterns I used that got all the attention - 50+ likes on something I just bought fabric for and made or 12 likes on something I designed from scratch. It happened ALL THE TIME.

I really love pattern making, but sometimes it's just not worth it to reinvent the wheel if a pattern already exists and you can get what you want pretty quickly. Case in point with my high-waist 70s pants that I made last summer -- vintage Butterick pattern! 

Like I said, why reinvent the wheel if you don't have to? And yet, I had been doing that all along. I tend to do things the hard way for no reason other than the fact that it's the hard way and I want to prove to myself that I can do it. 

I also wanted to keep my skills in practice in case I finally was able to land a fashion design job of some sort (like after a decade that's gonna happen) and to have a rolling portfolio. Good idea in theory, but not a good idea if you're just going to make yourself absolutely nuts.

This fabric is super-cozy and I can see myself getting a ton of wear out of this!

Now I just need to find (or knock off/make?) a pattern for more pairs of pants like this pair of Mavi denim I have had for about 5 or 6 years now. I want them in like, 5 more colors for work!

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Fun with 3DRoomstyler

Hi guys!

I'm being lazy with designing and sewing right now (in the middle of transferring apartment units in our building at the moment and therefore, packing) but I have been playing with designing rooms on 3DRoomstyler!

It's a program that I have had downloaded for a long while, played with a little and now after almost a year later, I am addicted! It's a free Chrome extension so anyone can download and play with it.

I will have an upcoming "how to" on it via another place I write, The Art Shake   so mark your calendars for April 19th to get a basic run-down for how to make a room in it. (Or just try it yourself. It's pretty easy!)

For now, have a look at the rooms I very recently have made/designed in it!

"Oak Park Entryway"

"City Condo"

"Chicago Front Room"

"Fictional Chicago Apartment"

Monday, March 21, 2016

Lipstick and Lyrics with SPRADA in 2016

It's weird to do blog posts with mostly phone photos at this point, but this is how I documented my most recent collaboration with SPRADA. I made the finale look for her show with a show that runs every year called Lipstick and Lyrics. 

And here she is...!

And here we both are! (Sorry dudes, had to use flash.)

This isn't to say that getting to this point was easy, however. I basically made this dress twice due to the type of fabric I was using; a super-stretchy, super-silky 4-way stretch knit. And while I have worked with stretch knit prior and know the basic tips and tricks with them, I would almost say this was my biggest challenge yet. 

Thankfully, I learned quite a few things (as I always do!) Let's talk about behind the design a little!

First, me and Spencer met up to look at old looks we collaborated on when we did our webseries together in 2011 where I was the wardrobe designer. 

More looks from 2011.

Our inspiration was this color-blocky dress that I had pinned up on my bulletin board in my sewing room. I don't even know who designed this anymore and it's been years since I ripped it out of a fashion magazine. I've always liked this casual jersey-knit color blocking and assumed I would eventually make something reminiscent of this.

So after deciding that this was the inspiration, I went and found fabric. Of course, I had to find something glitzy, shiny, and stretchy. 

We never ended up using the sheer star fabric, but I think I might use it somewhere. 

Next, I gave SPRADA a few options and for you guys out there, I let you guess which look we were going with on Instagram.

 And after a few false starts, and 2 muslin fittings, the dress came to life. (Keep in mind my dressform is my size and SPRADA is 6 ft 6 in heels, so that accounts for the over-size look on my dressform.)

 The pink color block at the bottom wasn't original to the design and neither was the tulle in the back, but during fittings and trials, we kept adding. Because... why not?

In this project, I learned how to cut tulle easily (roll it, then cut it. Seriously.) I also had to remember/relearn inset curves (sew, clip, sew), and that you CAN put a back zip in a slinky knit. SPRADA requested a back zip due to wig/makeup concerns during outfit changes during the show.

All I did was stabilize it with black fusible tricot interfacing and install the zip. I was pretty impressed with the outcome!

I also learned NOT to interface the neckline band for a stretch knit. This makes sense and I don't know what I was thinking when I did that (since I've done neckline bands non-interfaced prior), but.... yeah. Don't do it.

This dress legitimately fought me all the way through! And I have the pink glitter ALL OVER my sewing room (and apartment) to prove it.

In the end, it was fun to see another design come to life and put out into the world, not worn by me.

It was nice to see people say they loved SPRADA's dress right in front of both of us, them not knowing I designed it.

And it was nice to have Patrick finally see one of my accomplishments in person, rather than watching it unfold in my Facebook feed like he did for a period of about 8 years. 

 Patrick and SPRADA.

Bonus: We also got reposted by the fabric store, Textile Discount Outlet in Pilsen! 

 This post also somehow got the attention of celebrity hair stylist, Ted Gibson on Instagram because he liked it. Who would have known?!

Thanks again, SPRADA for collaborating with me! 

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Technical Flat Sketching

Recently, I went on a tech-sketch binge. Believe it or not, this is my favorite part of the process in fashion design; it's where ideas come to life, colors, patterns, textures look more like real-life, and when you move forward with an idea or not.

Yes, it's nice to have a finished garment from your mind right in front of you, but I love front and back technical sketches so much. All done in Illustrator and Photoshop by me. All are fictional garments except for one... see if you can spot which one!

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

A New-Old Design: The Sport Skirt

It's about time I posted something that I designed myself! I made this skirt 9 weeks ago (so January 5th or so) but am only now getting a chance to post it.

Behold, the Sport Skirt! (I don't know why that name popped into my head whenever I thought about it, it just did.)

Now, if this skirt and the colors look familiar, that's because it is! Way back in 2012, I made a dress that I called the Mix n Match Dress and the skirt looked exactly like the Sport Skirt. See below:

I also had leftover ponte knit fabric from my Kwik Sew dress from mid-to-late last year and wanted to get more into stretch knit pattern making (see below).

So, those two together..... TA DA! 

I did have to adapt my old pattern to a stretch knit pattern. I actually didn't even use my old pattern but adapted my blocks to a stretch knit pencil skirt shape and used my old pocket pieces as a reference for how I would make the pockets. 

As with most stretch knits, I accounted for needing some negative ease in the pattern, though I think I still could adjust the waistband to fit a teeny bit smaller. I also blind-stitched the bottom hem and used my serger for the entire garment. 

Ponte knit might be my favorite stretch knit to sew. It reminds me of the polyester double-knit dresses of the late 60s/early 70s (which I have a few of in my closet) but it's somehow better. 

Some detail photos:

As always, fully lined pockets:

I wore it to work yesterday and it was a huge hit. No one ever believes I make things most of the time from both customers and coworkers. I usually joke that this is my only benefit to having gone to art school: making clothing. This is what I get to do with my degree! Haha. 

And pose like this:

But really! I am glad I have the time and talent to making things, knowing how to make sewing patterns, knowing how to construct, and knowing how to design. Anyone will always have skills to develop, but I'm pretty proud that I haven't abandoned something that I graduated with a degree in over the past almost 10 years. I know so many people who have given up or stopped designing from that time period, but here I am, chugging along.

Still honing your skills of pattern making, sewing, and designing takes quite a bit of dedication and for some reason, that's something that I have a lot of. I've almost stopped designing/sewing countless times but it's something I always return to. There is always so much more to learn and so much more to design!

Lately, I am really taking time to learn more stretch knit fabrics in both patternmaking and sewing. The dress for my drag queen was all stretch knit and that perhaps should be my next blog post so you can see more in depth with that! 

I do have some fun things I'm sewing up soon so hopefully it won't take me another 9 weeks to post photos of those upcoming pieces. 

What fabrics or techniques are you focusing more on learning lately? 
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