Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Look #2

Welcome to the second installment of the new collection! For this second look, I wanted to make a day to evening look that was easy to throw on, comfortable, and stylish but didn't look like everything else in your closet. I started with a basic v neck bodice. This one fits rather poorly because my draping fabric didn't have near as much stretch as the final fabric. Please, I ask you. Learn from my mistakes.

If the neckline looks obscenely low, that's because...well, it is. I made this particular look to fit my unusually long torso, which is also why the empire seam looks a bit low.

Draping the skirt. I draped this as a rectangle--bad idea. You'll see why in a second.

Here's the bodice with a slim little sleeve.

Not bad overall, but the skirt is pretty atrocious. Puckery and boxy and just plain not ok. I went back and added a few curves, and...
The finished product. It might be hard to tell what's going on around the neck. I added a tie to the back neckline, but liked it best when the tie tied in the back under the arms.

For the shoulder detail I adapted the Flemish motif from the first look.

Mr. N commented that it looked military inspired, which I consider a huge success! Anything beyond "dress with doily shoulders" is fine with me. I wore this to work once (don't worry, I wore it with a camisole. I'm not trying to spill my goodies at work) and I was really happy with it. It was comfortable, easy, and interesting, which was my goal. What do you think? Leave me a comment and let me know!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


If you've been reading my blog for awhile, you know I have an insatiable desire for and obsession with yarncrafts. It only made sense that my next collection incorporate knit or crochet techniques. Knitwear is a huge industry and far more common in apparel than its cousin crochet, so I decided to take on the challenge of working crocheted pieces into my designs in a fresh and modern way, steering clear of lace collars and granny square ponchos.

For the first piece in the new collection, I started with the simple silhouette of a long sleeve minidress with a low back neckline. Here's the shell without the sleeves.

Then I played around with some crochet samples:
This was kind of cool, but the yarn looked too bulky to me. I added sleeves and made a new crochet sample in a lighter weight yarn in a more sophisticated color.

Disappointed. The back is still so exposed, the color is too close to skin color, and it still looks like I just slapped a crusty old piece of lace onto a perfectly simple little black dress. The piece is far too complicated to be appealing. Back to the drawing board.

Then, as I was flipping through a crochet book, I found a Flemish floral motif that was simple enough it could be manipulated a hundred ways and still look interesting and modern.

I was starting to like this, but needless to say, it needed revision. So I started doing the math.

After yet another sample, I was getting somewhere.

Since I still needed to find a new color, I made another sample in this beautiful yellow wet-spun linen yarn I recently bought.
Wow. Yikes. That's surprisingly terrible. Also, it still looks a bit...strained. The flower motif needs more petals so it fills the space better.

Wow, that's more like it. And the dark color is a great contrast against the skin (the skin of my dress form, anyway). I think I've cracked it! Here's the finished garment. The beautiful gray yarn is Lion Brand's Superwash Merino Cashmere.

Though it took a while to get there, I'm really happy with this piece. And I can't wait to show you how great it looks on my model...but not yet! I'll take you through the process of the other pieces too.

Thanks for stopping by! What do you think of this dress? Would you wear it? Or rather, would you buy it? Would your friends buy it? I'd love to hear what you think.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

One Year Ago

I was reaching.
I was struggling.
I was pushing.


I'm doing it all again. I'm in the home stretch of an intense, long process and I have so much to show--or, rather, I will after this deadline. I've come a long way over the course of a year, discovering who I am, what I do, and whether any of it is worth anything to anyone. The conclusion I've come to time and again is that I have to trust myself. I have to believe. Because it's all worth it to me.

New collection coming very soon.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Lazy Daze

I hate cutesy puns. Most crochet designers, it seems, do not. I found this out when I went on a search for some new crochet patterns to practice on. It's so easy and fun to just follow instructions of other people's patterns. When I'm designing my own I never have any idea what I'm doing or what happens next or which way is up or what I just crocheted, I'm just groping around, hoping it all works out. Sometimes it does and most of the time it just doesn't. So I wanted to take a break by making someone else's pattern, which brings us back to the puns. I present to you the "Lazy Daze of Summer" crochet top. I know, I know, it sounds hopelessly cheesy, but the picture looked pretty cool. I also wanted to see if I could successfully execute an "experienced" level pattern. Lazy Daze is a cropped short sleeve top with some interesting stitch details made in a fine weight yarn (#2). I didn't notice the pattern specified #2 weight yarn until I was halfway done using #4 weight yarn. My first tip: read your pattern in its entirety before you start anything. Be smart and don't follow my example.

Here's the beginning of the front, a semicircle.

The back and front pieces are similar, but the back is bigger. Here's the back with the left side complete. I think this is one of the reasons the pattern was labeled "experienced"--it described in detail the steps necessary to complete the right side, then said, "fasten off and do the same thing to the left side, but in reverse." It was a confusing and a bit improvisational. 
Here's the complete front piece. Hard to tell where it's going from here, isn't it? I thought so too. 

Here's the left sleeve.

...and the right. After the front, back, and sleeves were complete, the pieces were sewn together and I edged around the neckline, hem, and sleeves, which resulted in...

This. I was pretty happy with it. It certainly has that freshly handcrafted folksy crochet feel (as most crocheted garments do), but I figured I could edge it out a little bit. I guess you could say that's what my tattoos are for. Here's the back:

I bet you're wondering what it looks like on. 

Not bad, right? 

I really wish I had read the instructions right and made it out of the proper weight yarn, because it's rather bulky. A bit more suited for fall, I think. Unless by "Lazy Daze of Summer" they mean "Passing Out because You're Essentially Wearing an Afghan Around Your Top Half in the 90 Degree Heat." 

I had a lot of fun on this project. I still hate puns, though. They're sew irritating. 

 I promise I won't wait as long to post again--thanks for hanging in there! And as always, thanks for stopping by. 
Also, to give credit where credit is due, today's pattern can be found here.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Someone Else's Stash

Last summer on my 25th birthday, I received one of the most amazing gifts I've ever gotten from Mr. N and his whole family--Grandma V's Singer sewing machine.

At first I thought it was just a sewing table, but hiding inside is the most beautiful machine I've ever seen.

The details are incredible:

I was completely overwhelmed by such an incredibly beautiful, historic, and personal gift. But it got better. Inside the drawers were all kinds of notions neatly packed and stored for use.
Bias tape, bra straps, hooks and eyes, all neatly packaged and organized. Thanks, by the way, for ignoring my big crazy foot and my own disorganized stash on the right.

An old ruler.

Various belt buckles.

Lots of thread, old and new(ish).

I'll never know what Dennison gummed labels are, because this box was filled with small metal parts.

And my favorite item, elastic. Specifically "woven elastic for hose supporters/bras." 29 cents.
It's so cool to have a peek into history, when sewing was a necessity instead of the hobby/lost art it is today. I consider myself a decent seamstress but I'm spoiled by my electric machine. I tried sewing with the foot pedal and, well, it takes more than a little finesse. I know Grandma V could sew circles around me.
Thanks, Mr. N and family, for this incredible gift, and thanks, Grandma V, for passing your stash along to me. I've never met you but I feel like I know you a little bit.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


It's been a shamefully long time since I've posted and I apologize! So many things have been going on for Mr. N and I, namely our move to a new apartment in Logan Square! We love it, and we keep saying to each other, "I feel like we're staying at someone else's place who has a way nicer apartment than we do." We're thrilled. It's a little bit bigger, a little bit nicer, and a little bit closer to the train (not to mention a little bit more expensive). The neighborhood's also a little bit rougher, or "less gentrified" if we're being polite ("up and coming," "in transition"--we watch too much HGTV), but we love it. We're not in Bucktown anymore, Toto! With more space comes--that's right--a bigger sewing room! My studio has officially graduated from a .5 bedroom to a full one. Remember my old room?

...It was a bit cramped (I sewed in the closet). Behold the new space!

We have a little unpacking to do yet, so thanks for ignoring the mess. I've got a lot of cool things going on design-wise and I can't wait to show you! Check back soon. Before I leave you, though, here are some shots of Don Leon helping with the move:

And my personal favorite, courtesy of Mr. N: