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? 

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Project Updates - Turban, More SPRADA Looks, and Fun with Stretch Knits

Hey everyone!

I haven't posted in a long time, and that's because I've been extremely creatively busy!

Holiday was hectic at my store (but still tons of fun since it's a store rooted firmly in arts and crafts) and directly after that finished up, I had an order for a custom color knit turban hat, like the one I made last year!

Knit turban hat made last year in 2015.
I have started writing monthly on a blog based out of West Michigan called The Art Shake. In March, I have a post lined up about my construction method for this type of turban hat as well as a suggestion about how to go about knitting the hat itself. Should be fun!

For now, you can go ahead and read my first post on the Art Shake all about how to start to delve into the world of fashion design/creation. I post the 3rd Tuesday of every month and will be talking about fashion design techniques, principles, sewing, sketching, or even some fun fashion-related resources. It's pretty awesome and I'm excited to be a permanent writer on their blog.

I am also currently in the process of designing and sewing a new outfit for legendary drag queen, SPRADA here for a show in Chicago coming up at the end of February! One of these looks we are working on bringing to life!

Me and SPRADA worked on a webseries back in 2011 where I designed all of her outfits as she starred in an original series. You can still view all those videos here. One of my favorites in the series is when we designed a dress out of garbage bags for her to wear! (Episode #5.)

I also was able to make a dress for her later on in 2011 not related to the webseries but for yet another show. Photo below.

You can see more of what the 3D tetrahedrons look like on the shoulders in my blog post from 2011 on here!

I also need to do a proper blog post for a skirt I made and finished for myself 6 weeks ago (yikes!) I am starting to work mostly with stretch knits now but of course, there is a learning curve with all of it. This skirt turned out amazingly well, but I'll talk more about it on my actual blog post about it when it happens.

Wish me luck on finishing SPRADA's dress! Working with silky stretch knits can be daunting, but it's a challenge I think my expert-self can handle.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Retro Color Palettes Straight from 1968

And here I bring you a fun little blog post I worked on for a few days... a late 1960s color palette story!

You can thank Timehop for making me remember that a book I have on my shelf has a really cool page of color suggestions in the 1960s for dress design.

The book is "The Co-Ed Sewing Book" by Marian Ross which was apparently published in 1968. (See below image.)

It's taken a bit of a beating, and upon further inspection, it appears that my mom may have stolen it from a library when she was a kid (haha). There is evidence that there was a library log card envelope on the back page. So, thank you mom for stealing this book all those years ago so it can reside in my collection!

If you haven't had the chance to run into this book yourself, it is chock-full with beginner sewing information: from the absolute basics, like choosing colors for you and making fashion work for you, to measurements, talking about thread basics, cutting procedures, as well as seam finishes, pressing, and helping you essentially design your own handmade wardrobe.

This book is littered with super-cute illustrations like this:

Or this:

My favorite page that I took a photo of three years ago (and then saw on Timehop this past week) was of the color suggestions. If you didn't have an idea of which colors would go well together, this book basically had it's own retro color forecast in it for you. The page itself is very bland and uninspiring but I instantly could see the color palettes in my mind while I was on the train one evening.

Those color palettes were so vivid, that I took it upon myself to create a set of seven boards based on this page, incorporating the illustrations that randomly appear in the book.

Have a look and see which retro colors you love the most all put together! Perhaps it will inspire your next sewing project.

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