Monday, November 23, 2009

Spring 2010, Part 1

The development process for this collection was difficult. I used materials I've used before, but trying to bring the designs to life showed me more of what I don't know that what I do. Because of that, the designs changed drastically from the sketches. The first top, with a pleated bodice, proved the most difficult, but not until I started working with the silk organza. Working with muslin, the draping came out beautifully:

In the sketches, the pleats go all the way down the bodice, but I really liked the pleating over just the bustline, making the top flare out at the hemline. I decided to keep it that way.

This picture shows the markings I made to help me record the pleats onto a flat pattern. The finished muslin:

I really like how this came out. Unfortunately, that was not the case with the silk. After I completely finished this top in silk, I realized I just couldn't photograph it. Silk organza pleats well, but not on the bias. Now I know! Instead of trying to make it work, I went in a completely new direction. I leaned more heavily on the Frank Lloyd Wright inspiration when creating this top:

The hem is actually even, but my pieces of muslin obviously weren't. The markings on this will be appliqued bias tape. Although I'm not really sure what my "thing" as a designer is, I feel like this looks like me. I'm excited to show you the finished garment. This top will be paired with a high waisted skirt:

The second look also turned out completely different. After I realized the pleating wouldn't work on the bustline, it became apparent that it wouldn't work as a raglan sleeve either (I'm sure it can be done, but with very little time left I didn't want to try), so I started something completely new, continuing the heavy FLW art glass inspiration. It's a wide neck, raglan sleeve cropped shirt with more bias tape surface detail. Here's the muslin to give you a general idea of the shape of the top:

Ignore the wrinkles, please. :) This top will be paired with some high waisted skinny pants that I don't have a picture of because my form doesn't have legs. You'll see them in the final pictures.
Finally, the dress is actually very similar to the sketch. Here's a picture of the muslin to show the shape:

It's very loose and flowy, so not much draping was needed. Very easy. The difficulty came in the surface treatments and additions I'll show you later.
Here's my helper, Don Leon, napping on some patterns under the ironing board:

These last few weeks were exhausting for all of us: Mr. N, Don, and me.

But we made it through.
There you have it, the collection in bland muslin. I assure you the finished product is much more interesting. Check back soon to see the completed garments and pictures from the photo shoot!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

crunch time

Sorry for the delay, everyone. I've been crazily working toward a deadline, November 16. I realize I'm being cryptic, but most of you know what it is anyway. Once all the crazy blows over I'll post about what I've been doing for the past several weeks. Thanks for sticking with me!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


Here are some sketches of the looks I'll be including in the Spring Collection:

It's a bit hard to tell, but the colors will be various shades of sepia, dark brown, and deep purple. The fabric will be silk organza, shantung, and cotten sateen for the pants and skirt. The lines on the bodice and shoulders of the first two looks are pleats.
I've finished the muslin for the first top, and it came out a little different than the picture, but I'm happy with it. It's always interesting to see the real life execution of the ideas in my head. Sometimes they work and sometimes they can only live as a drawing.
Tonight I'll be dying the silk organza shades of sepia. I love to say that garments are "hand dyed" when that really means "a packet of RIT in a bucket in my bathtub." Ahh, high fashion. Thanks for stopping by, I'll keep you updated!

Monday, October 19, 2009


When looking for photographic inspiration, I am often drawn to the same types of images.

Another place, another time, a dreamlike land in faded sepia.
A memory that warms, calms....

...and haunts.

These are images that really stick with me.

Another constant source of inspiration is the design of Frank Lloyd Wright, particularly his glass windows:

This image makes me think of a specific time in my life when Mr. N and I were just starting out and shared a fascination for FLW's life and work. The symmetry in this window is completely magnetic to me.
These are the images that have inspired my spring 2010 collection. I'm already ankle-deep in it and I'm about to dive right in, because this time I have a deadline and a particular goal. More about that later.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

done and done

...and here we have the finished product. Not bad. A cute fall dress. I ran into a few problems finishing it, however. After I made all the changes I mentioned in the previous post, instead of making another muslin I just cut the pieces out of the dress fabric and went to town. Had I made another muslin I would have found that the adjustments I made to raise the neckline didn't exactly solve the problem. They did provide more coverage, but they were a bit loose and flopped forward. So I decided to go with it. Here's a close up of the finished neckline:

I folded each side over to form a little lapel. While this wasn't my original intent, it adds a cute detail. In order for it to be wearable, though, I have to have a camisole under it.
I also added a ruched sash at the empire waistline that ties in a bow in the back.
Overall, a fun, quick project. Here's another shot:

Thanks to Mr. N. for being my photographer.
My next project is considerably larger. That's right, it's time for a collection! Right now I'm sketching some preliminary ideas and gathering inspiration. I'll keep you updated. Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, September 28, 2009


While shopping at JoAnn (yes, JoAnn! gasp!) I came across this lovely polyester charmeuse. It's a little vintage, a little kitschy,  and perfect for a retro day dress, something like this:

Before I get started, though, let me show you around my workspace. Here's my workroom, the .5 in our 1.5 bedroom apartment:
While I now have a large dining room table on which to draft patterns, it hasn't always been that way. For the three years I was in fashion school my only workspace was my bedroom floor. Despite the back and knee pain, I'm just used to drafting and cutting on the floor, thus the name of this endeavor.
And now, back to the dress.  To begin, I draped an empire-waist, surplice bodice:
Pretty straightforward. Since I'm making this dress for myself, and I'm 6'1", I have to raise the shoulder about 1.5" as well as the neckline. Now for the back:

This is about as basic as it gets, Draping 101. Since it's an empire waist I don't even need a back dart. For the skirt pieces I cheated and used my wedding dress pattern. I can't drape skirts for myself on this tiny size 8 dress form. The top fits me, but I'm hopelessly pear shaped, so I draft skirt pieces.
Now for the interesting part, the petal sleeves. Drafting sleeves is much easier than draping.  I started with a basic one-piece sleeve sloper (it's a jacket sleeve sloper, so it will need some adjustments, but I won't tell if you don't) :

I cut 1" below the widest part of the sleeve (the armpit) to make a short sleeve. Then I drew a curve from the notch of the sleeve cap to the sleeve hem, improvising the petal shape. I had no idea what the curve should look like, but that's the great part about pattern drafting, trial and error. I then added seam allowance and notches. Here's what the finished petal sleeve pattern pieces looked like:

All the pattern pieces are complete, so it's time to test out the pattern by making a muslin. Here's how mine came out.

Not bad for a first try. Here's the side view:

I think my husband Mr. N said something funny. A big shoutout to him for helping me with the pictures! So how'd the muslin turn out? Well, changes need to be made. First of all, I forgot to walk the shoulder seams together, so they didn't match. They were way off because of the extra 1.5" I added. You can't tell in the picture because I tucked the seams under. Also, the neckline needs to come up about another inch plus seam allowance. If I weren't wearing the black tank under this baby it would be a little  cleavage-tastic. I also didn't walk the side seams of the bodice together, so they don't quite match at the waist. Shame on me for making making silly mistakes. Also, it's hard to tell in the above picture, but the petal sleeves are a bit loose and well, wayward. That's why you don't use a jacket sleeve sloper for a charmeuse dress. That's an easy fix though. If I just overlap the petals a bit more it'll create a bit more coverage and take some space out of the sleeve cap.
Well, that's it for this installment! It's time to give Mr. N and Don Leon some attention. Wait, what? You don't know who Don Leon is? Forgive me. Allow me to introduce him:

He helps in the workroom by batting yarn and tape measures around and getting scared of his own shadow.
See you next time when we'll finish this dress off!

Monday, September 21, 2009

moving forward

Until just over two months ago my major project was my wedding dress. 

I'm really happy with how it turned out. It may not have been what I was originally picturing, it may not have been a blockbuster moment in fashion history, but it was the tangible realization of months of planning and work, and I'm proud of it. 
And now there are no more excuses. It's time to hit the ground running again. Or at least a slow jog. People blog because they have a point of view and something to put into the world. I'm certain I have something to say with my designs, I'm just not sure what yet. I'll probably have an agenda to push soon enough, but for this moment this blog is about being inspired, creating, and finding my voice. 
Thanks for jogging with me.