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 - 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.

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 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!
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