Monday, March 2, 2015

Introduction: Manic Pop Talks About Fashion Design

So... I've decided I'm starting a new, on-going series of posts that have to do with fashion design.



As many of you may know, I graduated with a BFA in Fashion Design from the Illinois Institute of Art - Chicago back in 2007. It was a great experience, albeit stressful but I wouldn't trade what I majored in for anything. (My 2nd and 3rd choices were journalism or psychology, so clearly I picked the best major!)

Over the years, many people have questioned how useful my degree is or snarkily suggest that I am "not using it" in my work life (the answer to that is actually, it's helped rather than hindered, but that's another post altogether.)

 At an exhibition of my work (the whole store was filled) at Lomo Chicago, August 2013.


And who cares how I use my degree anyhow? Right?! It's my life.

Especially within the past 2 years, I have been astounded by how many resources there are out there for young and beginning fashion designers. From Burda, to Pinterest, to independent blogs, to even books in the craft stores and book stores - with a simple Google search you can pretty much find out how to make anything you want. 

 Patternmaking for the scallop top dress in 2013.

Back in 2004, there was very little out there for design. Sure, there were sewing patterns to use, I'm sure there were some books I could have used, but as a 17, 18 year old growing up with only my mom and sister around, there wasn't really anyone to teach me sewing/design and all the information to take in about it is daunting.


Also remember that in July of 2004 when I started fashion design school, Project Runway wasn't even a thing at all - it came out late 2005! I think the popularity of that show is what sparked a bit more interest in sewing and design again and I am grateful since there are so many books out there to help along people.

I could have saved a ton of money by not going to design school but I'm glad I did. Most jobs in Chicago require you to have a Bachelor's in something (yes, even retail management) so it's great that I went for anything at all.

I'll be giving you guys a peek at old stuff I did in design school throughout this series as well as sharing links, sharing some of my favorite books, resources, and helping you along as a designer!

 Old inspiration board, digital collage. 2009.

I downloaded and saved a file of the current class list at my alma mater, so I'll be touching on many of the things on there coupled with my personal experience and tricks I learned even after college.

Some things you can expect me to talk about:
  • Basics of pattern making
  • Fashion illustration
  • Surface design
  • Digital print design
  • Collection concepting
  • Technical design/PDF patterns
  • Trends & Forecasting
  • Garment construction/sewing resources
  • Pattern grading

There is no substitute for actually going to design school.

If you want to be taken seriously in the industry and work for large companies, they expect you to have a degree. However, that doesn't mean that if you're amazing that you can't work in design. There are many that do and I believe that you don't always have to have a degree so long as you are determined and learn the required skills. I've seen it done before!

 This isn't meant to be a comprehensive series, but merely an introduction to areas that any designer should take time to explore more as well as some tips and tricks!


Thursday, February 26, 2015

Victrola Romper with Simplicity 6959

I actually finished this last piece almost 3 weeks ago before I went to visit Chicago for a bit (yes, in the winter - cold doesn't bother you after 10 years of living there!)

I was lucky enough to find a few vintage patterns at a local thrift store with miraculously all the pieces! I feel like that never happens.

I'm still going on my odd-Photoshop kick though this one is more just a color-palette background. I kinda like the way they all look so much better now. This pattern is Simplicity 6959 from 1975.


So in these photos.... I was sort of going for a retro-ad feel. I think it works!


Here's the scan of the pattern packet. 

I toyed with the idea of making this romper in a combo (reeeeally bad Photoshop but it gets the idea across), and eventually went with all-over print since why not? I have the fabric already!


I'm pleased to show off that the fabric I used is one of my own designs, printed off on Spoonflower! It's my hand-drawn Victrola repeat that I designed using Photoshop and a few skills I learned long, long ago in design school. (Haha.)

I usually joke that I "never learned anything in design school" or that it "never got me anywhere" but that's actually far from the truth. It's helped me in all my retail management positions and as a bonus, I have a fantastic side project. I currently love being able to be a creative weirdo and not have to make things. I'm just being an artist, really. That's all I ever wanted to do with my life for the most part, and I am living it. 

I was also excited to see that this fabric print I designed somehow made a Featured 100 list on Spoonflower. 


This doesn't actually seem like an easy feat seeing as how thousands of people upload their designs to Spoonflower on a daily basis. I was quite shocked, actually!

Otherwise, this pattern sews up pretty quickly. I somehow got tripped up on the collar/facing combo because I design mine differently and the directions weren't super-clear. I also had to hand-baste the zipper near the top closed while applying the zip due to the weird facing, but hey.

If anyone wants to buy this fabric design for themselves to use on a garment, it is available on my Spoonflower account! I'll be working on some more print designs in the near-future since I'm having a ton of fun with it! 

Here's an 8" x 11" swatch of the fabric design once again!


Thursday, February 19, 2015

Better Homes and Gardens 1975 Interior Decorating

So last weekend I had the chance to head out to Chicago for a bit.... and it truly was visiting home. I know I'm on a creative sabbatical right now which is a luxury in and of itself but I can't wait to go home to the city I lived in for a decade.

While there I couldn't pass up a book that was at Shangri-La Vintage in Roscoe Village. It's one of my personal favorite vintage boutiques in Chicago and it stocks some of my favorite things like retro interior decorating books and a fairly large corner of vintage fabric. (Of course I would like the fabric!)

So that got me thinking about my (fictional) new place once I head back...My old house was super-retro and I'm sure an apartment will look similar for me.

Enjoy some photos from a 1975 home decorating book I found for inspiration! 

Dream living room. 

 But I'll take this too.

Or this! 

 You know eventually I need to make one of these as a couch cover, right? 

The red/yellow/pink was actually a part of my old bathroom like this.

 Sweet stripes.

 Colorful doors.

 And everyone knows about my arrow thing!





I'll be adding more photos to my Pinterest boards!

Saturday, February 7, 2015

New Jacket, New Style


I'm decidedly pretty bored with the typical "Look what I made!" formula of sew something, take some photos, then post. I get that it's the easiest thing to do, but it's not been any...fun.

So, I made some non-boring Photoshop collages to present my new work. I certainly won't win any Photoshop awards for any of these, but I definitely had fun.


I picked Burda's Boxy Jacket with Leather Patches because duh! That one looks just like something I would wear. I even already pretty much have the sunglasses.

Of course, I decide to put my own spin on it. Why leave that nice inside of the jacket plain and boring if you can leave part of it open? I turned part of the facing into what the lining looked like by using interfacing on the back to stiffen it. This also gives that part of the jacket more pizzazz when left open.

Here are better photos of what the jacket actually looks like.


Sometimes I really don't understand why Burda patterns are made the way they are. Perhaps it's because I generally design all my own patterns, but they sometimes have you do it the hard way. In this pattern, they want you to MAKE the faux leather armband by using some stretchy tape stuff on the back of the leather that I've never used to gather it.... come on!

Joann had this perfect faux-leather quilted fabric so I just used that. I had to edit the sleeve pattern a teeny bit. This pattern wants it to be 3/4 length and yet again, I asked why. In the end, I think my sleeves came out shorter than the Burda pattern even originally intended as I had to shorten the sleeve about 3 inches but it is full-length on my 5 foot frame.

It's also not clear immediately that this jacket has a drop-shoulder. This of course gives it an extra boxy effect. As a small girl with broad shoulders it's not necessarily the best silhouette, but hey. I think it's fun.


This pattern also calls for you to buy hammer-on snaps. I bought ones at Joann yet again and they absolutely did not work. I wanted to practice with just ONE and ended up "practicing" with all of them, throwing them all away. I fixed that problem however with giant sew-on snaps on the inside and adding some cool faux buttons on the front. I have no idea where the buttons I used came from  but I'm glad they were hanging around in my stash.


One last gripe: Why does Burda think no one at home can sew a lining in a jacket? Or is it just too much extra work to put into the PDF? A lining in a jacket is totally not scary and I sew mine entirely by machine.

I'm currently out of work again, so expect at least two more upcoming projects from me (and possibly weird Photoshops to go along with it.) I had been working at a popular candle shop part-time and the location I worked at closed. Strange, I know. That was the last mini-disaster of 2014 and I'm glad that year is over. So I'm using the time I have to delve into being a creative weirdo again while looking for my next adventure.

If you have been following the Instagram, you will see that I found two amazing retro mid-70s patterns together 53 cents each! One of them is the cutest romper and I decided it needed my hand-drawn Victrola print (below). I had been looking for an excuse to print it up and lo and behold, the sewing pattern showed up!


                        This pattern design will be available for sale on my Spoonflower account!

Have fun, everyone!

Friday, January 23, 2015

Populaire Inspiration

If you know me at all, you know I am pretty late to lots of popular culture things nowadays. That wasn't always the case, but I hate to just jump on things if everyone else is freaking out about something.

This is especially true for films. I suppose I'm just not necessarily a film-type girl most of the time but with knitting a bit more, I have a little more attention to spend on watching something in the background. (I totally cannot sew and watch! I've tried and mostly I just get involved with my sewing more than watching.)

I also don't find many movies that are visually inspiring to me - though the other day, finding this movie was a pleasant surprise.

Has anyone seen this movie? I haven't even heard of it, though I guess I also don't pay attention either.

I found it quite visually appealing and really loved not only lots of the fashion in here, but the art direction such as the opening credits.




I absolutely love the combo of a matte red, blue, green, and yellow and it's no surprise that I love this photo and will probably have to set off to imitate this soon:



Though I tend to be more of a 60s girl, I found myself totally drawn to a particular dress in the movie with an interesting neckline that I also might have to figure out a way of duplicating somewhere on some garment just for fun.



And this is such a well-composed image:







See it if you get a chance! It's on Netflix right now.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Knitted Turban

Happy New Year!

I know it's been pretty silent on the blog, but that's because I am still recalibrating my life a bit. 2014 was particularly a disaster in absolutely all areas of my life - you name it, it happened (aside from death and illnesses, thank God.)

I attribute what happened to being overly optimistic throughout that year as well as listening to others about where I should be and what I should be doing in my life.

I thought I should be pushing Manic Pop further. After all, didn't I go to school for design? Shouldn't I be using my degree? I thought I should have had a more creative job, should be working more 9 to 5. I thought that following the footsteps of others would lead me to more personal happiness.

Instead, I created less. I believed in myself less and got stressed out. Your art shouldn't be stress - it should be fun! I love having an outlet and creating for myself. If custom inquiries come along from things I am creating, I am not opposed to them by any means however.

That being said, I've been knitting a ton more.... and I knitted up this hat!


It was a pattern from Noble Knits.   I actually had a knitted turban pattern from a Vogue knitting book but decided that it was not quite what I wanted.

This hat inspiration comes from a crocheted version I bought about 5 years ago at a Chicago thrift store. I have a friend I used to work with who LOVED that hat and was jealous of me in it every year. So I made this one for her!

Here's me in my green one out for a walk in the woods.




The one I made here is definitely a bit differently built, but the idea is completely the same.
It knitted up really fast! I used a number 5 weight yarn, designated as bulky. I'm not sure what the original pattern actually called for because I did not buy the Berroco yarns (though I am sure they're lovely). So while the original pattern called to cast on about 23 stitches, after doing a gauge test, I adjusted to cast on 19 stitches.


I used the yarn to stitch it all together like the pattern directs. It took me a few tries to get the twist just right but I eventually did.

I'm sure my friend who wanted my green hat sooooo bad will love this one! We both have a thing for this harvest gold color so I'll be sending it off to her soon.

I have another one I'm almost done knitting in the same exact color which I think will end up on the Etsy shop. I wanted to use up that last skein of yarn! I recommend this pattern if you're an experience novice at knitting since it's only getting to learn a k2tog yo stitch as well as slipping stitches.

I did knitwear in college - so I do have a good knowledge of knit pattern design as well as knitting sweaters, but I'm not super-experienced. Not like sewing and patternmaking anyhow!

I guess I like that harvest gold color because here is the sweater I designed and knitted in college using a crawling cable stitch.






Also, check out the knitted hood I designed myself and made in 2012 with a free pattern attached on the blog. It's not perfect but if you knit better than I do, then I'm sure you can come up with your own adjustments.



I'll be starting on some other knit hats from a book I got for Christmas as well as trying out some scarves from the new Pam Powers book I just ordered. I'm sort of working my way up to a beautiful Wenlan Chia knit patterns book I picked up sometime in 2007 but I'm not that confident in my knitting skills currently to invest in that much expensive yarn yet!

So for 2015, my current aim is to really just enjoy myself and the creative process in.... anything. From knitting, to print design, to sewing pattern design (and playing with patternmaking ideas I found on Pinterest!), to more Photoshop on the blog, and more abstract art pieces. I might finally finalize my PDF pattern I started in January 2014, but no promises.

I do lots and lots of creative things and it's time I stopped boxing myself in, like I had been for so long because I thought it would "help Manic Pop take off". Bullshit.

Do your own thing, do what makes you happy. Take time off if necessary. Enjoy life, enjoy your art. No sense in being stressed out and overworked with your art! That's never fun for any reason, even if it makes you money.  




Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Burda's Retro Jumper Dress


So I wanted to post a Burda jumper-dress I finished the other day.

I am definitely doing to need go back in and pull in the bodice a bit! So frustrating. I don't know why I insist on using the poly-poplin for most things, but it crinkles easily and doesn't look.... professional. 

 The pattern I used for this jumper-dress was Burda's Retro Dress. I made it according to the 36 but should have used the bust from the 34 and the skirt from the 36. 

Technically my bust IS a 33" but apparently not in Burda sizing though I suppose that could be due to ease included.

Also, this jumper was supposed to be ALL mushroom print but I realized later on that I would need about 3 yards of printed material versus 2. BAH. 

I was impatient to sew, so I colorblocked as always. 




I did an inside lining for this but only on the top. Otherwise, I serged the edges like I usually do.

Inside pockets! 

What you will also notice is.... this fabric is my own design!

These are the little mushroom sketches I made in August one day, with nothing to do. I played with the arrangement in Photoshop using the "wrap around" feature on it and created my own repeat. I then had the fabric printed up via Spoonflower.com - I love it! 

I bought the most basic of the cotton and it's a nice weight. 

I'll eventually go back and pull in the bodice I think (or just try to gain some weight?) but I really should start taking my time on projects now and fitting as I go on my dressform. This is why I primarily make my own sewing patterns - because I know they will fit due to my pattern blocks!

And yes, I know.... make a muslin even with a purchased pattern but that takes longer than I would like it to.

So after making the mushroom pattern, I've been playing a bit more with print repeats. 

Here is one of some Victrolas and.... sound waves, I guess?


Originally I had thought that maybe I would color in the Victrolas but I actually like them all-white. I think it helps them not get lost in the crazy background.

I'm toying with the idea of making a mini print collection and making it available for purchase via Spoonflower too, but who knows.

This year has been particularly rough on me with little time to create. After all this, I feel like Manic Pop is just a really good outlet for me versus going-to-be a full-time business. I know I go back and forth a lot, but the truth is that I am not really super-motivated to make it my full time job and I feel most comfortable pulling in a paycheck weekly from a job that also I enjoy a bit. I'm all about security in life.

I'll always create under the Manic Pop name and items will always be available for custom order if need be. I still might put out some PDFs! But my heart is still telling me to just do this for fun more than anything. I like to be overly ambitious, but I have to reel myself back and ask what is realistic of myself.

Playing creatively is realistic.
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