Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Dress Collab with Tanith Rowan Designs

And now.... a very special blog post! 


Back in about July me and Tanith of Tanith Rowan Designs collaborated on a maternity dress! I was up for the challenge: I had never made anything maternity before and I am still in early stages of using stretch knits for designing. 

So I devised a version of my Sunrise Panel dress just for her based on her measurments and specifically for a stretch knit. 

Dummy me didn't take photos with my DSLR like I usually do (or maybe I did but deleted them accidentally because I ran out of room on my SD card?) so we'll have to deal with in-progress photos from my phone. 



I think the hardest part was deciding on colors. The fabric store I went to in Chicago can be hit or miss with stretch knit and being a little less knowledgeable in stretch knit, I wanted to see all the weights in person at the store before I bought it. 

This is also the first garment I have sewn entirely on my serger - but it wasn't without hiccups! I don't exactly remember what I did at one point, but I did have to recut the bodice and start with the first 3 pieces all over again, entirely new fabric! In the end, I think it came out quite well. 



Showing seamlines on my dressform which is my size. 

Look how gorgeous Tanith looks!


The idea behind this dress is that she can wear it both while pregnant but it can also transition into a dress after-pregnancy. It's not overly maternity-centric and the front gathers will allow for a gentle full shape later on.

I love it! 

Thanks so much for doing this collaboration with me, Tanith! 

Again, check out more of Tanith's wonderfully creative millinery work over on her blog!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Sewing Machine Dress

It has taken me FOREVER to complete this dress.


Aaaaand the photos I took today are all blown out, edited as best as I could. I think something is wrong with my camera. It looks perfectly exposed on the screen but really bright when I get it onto the computer. Such is life. 

 But I couldn't resist snatching up this print! It's technically a quilting fabric from Joann's... which is also why it wrinkles so damn fast. I love novelty prints and cotton wovens but I think from here on out, I will be designing my own prints for the most part. 

This will allow Manic Pop to be more cohesive as well as me always being able to order more print of a fabric depending upon what I make. I think it will work out in the long run!

Funnily enough, halfway through sewing this I had to take my Huskystar 224 into the shop for repairs. I've had it for about 9 years myself (its about 11 or 12) and never have ever had it serviced. Whoops. The lady at the sewing machine shop didn't seem to think it was all that big of a deal though. 

My machine is a bit of a workhorse and they even told me that I should never oil the one I have myself. So.... done! Tell me not to mess with it, and I won't! I had a damaged spring on the inside of my bobbin case (which is all internal on mine) so no wonder it was making so much noise and scraping against the bobbin plate while sewing. 


This dress is actually the same exact pattern I used for my 1969 Shirtdress.
That's another reason why I thought this took way too long - about 4 weeks from when I was cutting to completion. The only thing I did extra was make armhole facings and attach a band at the bottom. 

I guess it doesn't help that I was fighting with my machine, then finishing it on an entirely different one, plus my hours at work have been a little out of hand. I can be at work anywhere from 8am to about 10pm and with holiday season it could be anywhere up to midnight or in some cases.....2am I have been told. Yikes. 

So I've mostly been sleeping or chilling at home. 


I have been having lots of fun playing with prints. If you have been checking on my Instagram, I just made a psychedelic mushroom pattern repeat which you can buy on Spoonflower.com yourself! I made 3 different colors of it and am soon making a jumper-dress out of it. 

 I *might* do Burda's Retro Dress out of it, and I might just make my own pattern. I haven't decided yet. Here is a mock up with their flat sketch.

And the pattern repeat I designed. 

These mushrooms are hand-drawn then imported into Photoshop at 600 dpi. Sounds excessive, but it worked. I haven't really played with prints since college but I'm really having fun with them again. I used this tutorial to jog my memory of creating a pattern repeat. Like I do with any "recipe" I never follow anything exactly, but I got the results I wanted the way I wanted to personally do it. 


 And there is my repeat in person! Image via Instagram. 

Lots of fun things to do, so little time. We'll see how it all goes. I have lots of exciting things on the backburner. 

See you soon!



Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Niko VS Nicole Part 2... Almost

I had planned on spending some more time with "Niko" and taking some more photos, but my life got very busy very quickly (something I don't take too kindly to) and lost track of being creative for a little bit. I wanted to do ONE more setting in this series after these photos but I literally haven't had the time to do anything.

I just worked a 9-day stretch and the timing of my scheduled work hours are insane and allow minimal time for creativity.

 Contrast: Books important now and then - my sewing books are constantly being used/looked through and in high school my "notebooks" (the rest of the world calls them journals) were my world.

I actually took these photos right outside of my old high school.  It was funny because I was certain I was going to get yelled at somehow by someone for taking these photos, setting up my tripod nearly in the middle of the street but not even the guys cutting the lawn that day at the school cared! 

I had to do a quick outfit change in my van which was interesting to say the least. It was ridiculously hot out the day I took these so Niko's hair and makeup were melting a little.


And a phone photo from that day. Super-sunny out!

I have a few other creative things happening at the moment: playing with pattern repeats (see my Instagram @manicpop for photos!), working on a dress with a sewing machine print on it, and hopefully putting what I learned from Burda's PDF pattern design class to good use. 

Although... I really have literally NO time to do anything lately which is severely bumming me out. I guess I'll figure it all out. But until then, keep peeping my Instagram for the most updates.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Chicago Bungalow House Tour

There were lots of things in Chicago I am more than glad to leave behind.... but I still occasionally miss the house I lived in for 5 out of 10 years. Located in the Portage Park neighborhood in Chicago (a heavily populated Polish neighborhood!) it was quiet, tree-lined and had rows of bungalow houses. Bonus: I had an international market just blocks away that I shopped for all my groceries. I was super-spoiled.

Ok, so I stole this photo from the internet. This is what my neighborhood looked like though! My neighborhood was even named one of the top 12 neighborhoods to live in Chicago last year.

So here we are - step into my little retro bungalow, just for old time's sake.

Everyone knows I love orange.

These photos aren't 100% spectacular but they are all I have that are this comprehensive and recent of the house. Taken in February 2014.

Living room looking to the road. 

That couch got so destroyed by the cats! 

Archway to both bedrooms and bathroom. 

My friend liked to call this bathroom the "pink Polish bathroom" - her grandparents who had owned this house before we were there were from Poland. In all actuality, most mid-century modern homes have a pink bathroom, inspired by Mamie Eisenhower. See Retro Renovation's Save the Pink Bathrooms.

 The main bedroom.

2nd bedroom which was sort of an office. 

 Turn around and walk down this hallway to the kitchen...

I really loved cooking almost every single night in this kitchen and eating every morning breakfast here.

You can see most of my rainbow mug collection on the wall! 

Just off the kitchen was a 3-season room which we mostly used for storage and the cat's litter box. 

Then head downstairs to one of the coolest laundry rooms!




If you go down this colorful hallway, there is another bathroom and a tool room.

 This is the insane tool room, which actually went even further back.

The unused bathroom downstairs plus cat tail. 

Head back upstairs and notice the "closet door" in the corner to the right....

Everyone was always surprised to see that it went upstairs! 

The built-in bookshelf where I kept my fashion design books. 

To the left you enter a guest room which was impossibly cold in the winter and deathly hot in the summer. The only air vent for up there was the hallway and it did no good. 

Another guest room view.

Stripes I painted in the guest room. Loved that. 

Walk across the hallway is my modest-sized sewing room which I spent a lot of time in. I think it was eventually my favorite room of the house. 

Cozy and compact! 



So that was the house I lived in when I was in Chicago. I was always hesitant to post these sorts of photos when I lived there because ya know.... people can find anything on the internet and use it for no good. I've had my fair share of less-than-honest people this year and wasn't about to go put myself in danger. 

Having a house to live in Chicago is a HUGE luxury. Although the apartments in Chicago are not as confined as New York apartments, they can be pretty pricey for not a lot of room. I felt really lucky to have so much space. I mean, who has the opportunity to have a sewing room while living in Chicago?! 

This house was sincerely my retreat away from the world at many points as I need a lot of quiet and stability in life (hence my choice to go live in the woods) and I am really glad to have spent so much time here. I made it my own little pseudo-retro world. At a few points in time, I was really close to buying it but life got in the way. Looking back, I'm ridiculously glad I don't live in Chicago but the people who owned it sure were super-nice to me. I can't thank them enough!

This house is currently on the market. Contact me for info if you want about purchasing!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Manic Pop Video by Carlos Martinez

About a month before I left Chicago, I had cinematographer/director/filmmaker Carlos Martinez ask to create a video on me and my work with Manic Pop - super exciting!

He's been a busy man the past month and a half or so (and I've been busy with adjusting to my own new life in Michigan) but the video is up for viewing!

The Fashion Designer from Carlos Martinez on Vimeo.

It was a bit odd to talk about myself and my work for nearly a half hour to do the narration part over the video but it was so nice to have Carlos over in my studio one day and see how everything unfolds at Manic Pop. Fun fact: my video is the only video so far done in color. How could you not use color for me, right?!


Check out Carlos' other videos in his artist series. He does great work!
http://vimeo.com/carlosmartinezstudios

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Nicole VS Niko Photoseries

It's been a moment since I've posted, I know. I've been settling into my new digs here, setting up the sewing room, and actually been taking an online class on how to complete my PDF sewing patterns.

If you remember, I was working on a PDF for the Petra Dress in January. And while I got super-super far on that, there were some pieces to the puzzle I was missing - like how to tile the pattern for printing. I graded the pattern but wasn't happy with my nesting and some of the pieces in general, but this class is helping me develop a very clean version of those sewing patterns and filling in the blanks. 

I'm excited to see where this takes me!

On another note, I am spending some free time being creative in ways I haven't been in some time. That way right at the moment is taking creative photos. 

I got out of Chicago at the perfect time for myself -- I'd been looking for an excuse for quite some time to leave and big factors that keep anyone in one spot all fell through all at once. It's as if the universe was telling me, "Get outta here. You don't belong here anymore!" And it was true. Nothing against Chicago, but it was just time for me to go.

Since I am back in the same place I went to middle school and high school (and haven't lived here in 10 years) it's really interesting to feel as if there is a juxtaposition with your former self. Everywhere I go, I have this feeling like former me (I went by "Niko" in high school) is following me around. There are constant reminders of the person I left here when I was 18 and I have been exploring "her" through spending some time with her - not only in my notebooks from those years, but also through a mini photo series.

Back in high school, I owned a van - it was an '89 Dodge Ram Cargo Van which I owned until about 2006. Now, I own a '97 Dodge Ram Van (seen above) - completely unintentional that it was the same style! I'm in the process of looking for some really great retro-looking flower power decals. It wouldn't be very me if I didn't make my vehicle look a little jazzed up and....happy.

 Current me is on the left here, former me aka "Niko" is on the right. Yes, that shirt, shoes, and boombox bag are all from high school! Some of the very few things I have left. Former me was very sassy, bold, ridiculous, and completely fearless. It's how I ended up in Chicago.

I've compiled some reference photos which stuck out in my mind about how I looked and acted back in high school, over 10 years ago.

The photo above with "Niko" on the back of the new van essentially recreates the photo from high school below:

Pictured: My sister, best friend at the time, Robby on the roof, and me in 2004.

The pants in this photo (circa 2003) were the inspiration for me using the striped jacket as well as the hairstyle, even though this photo is impossibly blurry.

 I also seriously wore a pink feather boa around a lot when I was 14, so that's why that makes an appearance. I was a weird one!

This one might be my favorite out of all the shots so far. Yes, that "Niko" belt is also something I had made and wore around in high school! I thought it was perfect to wear for this photo series.


This one is a bit ridiculous, but you get the idea.

I have a few more locations set up in mind for this photo series. I've been taking photos in places that were and are important to me both then and now: with my van, the woods, etc. I have a few more ideas in mind.

One thing I have learned so far about playing my former self in these: It's interesting how you look back sometimes and think your former self was "so cool". At least, that's in my case. However, while playing my "old self" and dressing like my old self, I get the sense of the lack of refinement I had. I was bold and brash, but often times wasn't as sensitive as I am now. I was fearless because I was naive and young. 

I also had no idea how to do my makeup! Seriously. I caked on eyeliner for these photos like I used to wear! I stand taller playing "Niko" but I don't have the same sense of self-awareness as my current self. "Niko" was much about drawing attention to herself where as current me is more about drawing attention to my design work and creative output. And that makes complete sense - Niko hardly ever actually made anything except for wrote obsessively. Every single day of high school is documented for me. It's insane.

But current me spends more time actually creating more than ever; sewing patterns, garments, art, working with resin, developing content for my blog, etc. 

Either way, this is a fun study for me. I'm having fun with the juxtaposition and seeing the results of the photos!




Stay tuned for more in the photo series!







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