Saturday, September 27, 2008

Leather belts

Alright, I admit I'm spending my rainy Saturday internet surfing. I just found these leather belts made by Jasmin Shokrian, and they're amazing, despite the fact the the pictures are a little hard to make out. Might have to copy them if I can get my hands on some lovely leather.

Lately I've been attracted to plain things that seem really well-made and sturdy, and these belts embody that.

Gianfranco Ferre

I haven't ever paid a lot of attention to Gianfranco Ferre, but I stumbled onto his Spring/Summer 09 collection the other day, and am in love -- it's exactly what I'm in the mood for: Womanly and flattering but a little tough, futuristic/architectural with really new interesting shapes, and not a print in sight. Here are a few of my favorites:

This one above is kind of the perfect party dress.

I love the way that the pockets stand away from the body on the skirt. Also I think the fact that the belt is dark only in the middle section of the bodice is really flattering and makes the waist look tiny.

I love how in these last 2 pieces there are so many hard lines and edges as well flowing lines that maintain a balance between a feeling of strength and grace.

Shirt problems

Awhile ago, when we were discussing balancing patterns, Dana had mentioned something about the possibility of balancing shoulder seams as a way to keep from having to pull shirts down in front while wearing them. At the time I didn't know what she was talking about, but just this week I started having that exact problem. I've started wearing button-up shirts that fit a little looser, and I noticed that they tend to ride back and I'm constantly pulling then forward so that the collar sits against my neck. The shirts fit me in every other way, and I'm wondering if this is a common problem and if so, how it might be solved -- it seems to me that the shirts don't follow the curve of the back of the neck well and that's why they slide back, but I want to hear other people's input.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

More jean talk.

Well, I finally made myself a pair of jeans. Aside from a few very minor errors, I am very happy with how they came out! I have been wearing them everyday since I finished them. I'd been imagining this large back yoke, which pushed the pockets down onto the leg. It's a design I'm incorporating into my senior collection, and thought I would try it out on myself first to see how it makes me feel. I have yet to apply belt loops, but plan to do so soon.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Eating my (snarky) words

As a few of you know, I've never been much a fan of Leanimal, Portlander Leanne Marshall's line. I have to retract that sentiment though, having just taken a look at her capsule collection shown in NYC as one of the Project Runway finalists. I like this look below more than most things I saw on the runways this season. Although, as a blogger mentioned on, her work has become "decidedly un-portland." Maybe that's the change that took it from kitchy-not-quite-interesting to classy-completely-interesting. From now on I'll be paying more attention.

A few days ago I flew to Portland OR for a visit, and on the plane ended up watching 5 or 6 episodes of the current Project Runway. Not only are Leanne's final pieces interesting and beautifully made, but she is by far the most likeable person to have ever appeared on a reality TV show. I won't be watching the finale, but I hope she wins, because I'd love to see how she furthers her line with the prize money.

portland fashion week

So my dears, it looks like I accidentally scheduled my trip to portland right over portland fashion week -- I don't know that I want to go to the official shows, but on Saturday the 10th there's a multi designer show at Someday Lounge, featuring the indie designers I always think are more about it, can I count on going with you all?

Saturday, September 20, 2008

It's Fall!

I just got back from China, and discovered that hot sweaty NY summer had turned into beautiful breezy fall. Hurray! To celebrate I am posting all the things I've been dying to wear/find lately (but it's been too hot for).

I found a pair of Wranglers similar to these, but in much better condition on ebay a couple weeks ago, I can't wait to wear them with thick tights and short poufy skirts, or straight jeans tucked into the tops...

I love the idea of rainboots but I'm pretty tired of imitation wellies everywhere I look. I really like how woodsy these are - I think I'd wear them the same as the wrangler boots.

I just found a black cotton jacket similar to this one, and am thinking about remaking it in waxed canvas (see post below) because I love it so much.

I really love the idea of harem pants like these, although I haven't seen them anywhere except the runway (here, Proenza Schouler resort 2009) I think they'd be pretty easy to sew up though.
Also on my list for the thrift stores: Large men's dress and plaid shirts and smallish blazers (to be worn over the shirts).

Friday, September 19, 2008

Waxed Canvas

I'm looking for info on waxed canvas -- I had hoped to find some at the fabric markets in China -- I'd heard that they had EVERYTHING, but that wasn't the case. (Also, how do you say waxed canvas in Mandrin? It's hard to mime.) As I'm in NYC, I figure there has to be some somewhere, I just don't know where that is, and everyone I ask looks at me blankly. I've looked online, and can't find any either. Complicating the problem is that I only want a little bit for personal use, not production quantity.
Also, I was wondering if anyone had experience working with waxed canvas, and if there was ever a problem with the wax gumming up the sewing machine. I'e only used it once, and it didn't seem to be a problem, but it made me nervous. Any information would be great, thanks!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Needles and thread

Here are two sites that have taught me more about trouble shooting needle and thread issues than anywhere else. Its amazing how important having the right set up is.

Pendelton Round Up

Last week end I got to go to the Pendelton round up in Pendelton OR. It sure was fun. I went with my uncle Ted and his friend Spencer who works for Telemundo Portland and got us press passes. We also got to tour the Pendelton woolen mills. They do all the jacquard weaving at this location but all the plaids are done in Washington. Here are some pic of the giant looms. It takes six people two and half days to tie warp threads on.

This is all wool.

From left to right, My uncle Ted, Me, and Spencer. With our press passes.

Check out this guy's shirt.

My uncle got me a signed photo of this guy.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008


This guy (below :) anonymously purchased a hat from me about a year ago. I had forgotten about it until he dropped me an email and let me know that he wears it in many of his Etsy pictures. This makes me very happy since I've only made like twelve of these total and sold only half. I made a doozie of a pattern when I designed this hat. I don't even make them anymore because they are such a pain! It's good to know that the few who do own them, love them! I designed it for my fiance, and he looks super cute in it, and that's all that matters.  But still, a little encouragement never hurts.

I feel an impulsive tattoo coming on.

Now that is a passion for fabric that I simply had to share. No, those are not my arms, but I sure do like them.

Proenza Schouler

A commentator on described the Proenza show as Grace Jones meets Jerry Hall -- a little before my time but it seems pretty on the mark -- I'm only posting a couple pictures, but our studio patterned the vast majority of the pieces in the collection, and it's worth a look on Pretty fantastic, I'd love to meet the woman who can pull all the looks off.
Below are two jumpsuits I worked on. You may be thinking these are what I'm referring to when I mention being able to pull the looks off, but really, they're some of the less challenging pieces.

And below is one from the studio--not sure who worked on it, but it was quite a production, and it's one of my favorites. The detail at the chest is actually patent leather that is slit from the breastbone, and then twisted before being sewn into the armscye.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Sketch Experiment #2

The color on this one got a little out of control pretty quickly. There's a lot I would do differently on my final sketch, so it made for a good learning experience.

Sketch experiment #1

I am spending the day trying out various sketching techniques in order to establish a style for my senior  collection.  I will be posting them as I finish them, and would love feedback!

Sunday, September 7, 2008


I'd be lying if I said I wasn't excited to see what Kim Gordon of Sonic Youth will be contributing to the fashion world.  She is preparing to release her new line of clothing, Mirror/Dash. 

Yes Hannah, I once again fail to repress my love for all that is Sonic Youth. 


With apparent time on my hands, I have dived in head first to Fashion-Incubator, and for the first time.  I had always heard that it was here where the secret to conquering camel toe lied. Anyhow, just wanted to concur on the subject, it is full of amazingly wonderful tips and insights!  Here is what I sought tonight, but did not find, or perhaps overlooked:

I am currently venturing into jean-land, and with full confidence.  I have a wonderfully fitting denim short that I've been wearing all summer, and now plan to step the pattern up a notch with more details. I have entire confidence in the pattern itself, but am now struggling with my inability to find an impressive denim.  With such little selection in Portland, I am forced to look elsewhere, and am hoping I will simply know it when I see it.  All I can find around here looks like it has a layer of paint on top of it.  Oftentimes this paint is a bright blue.  Or when I find a color that doesn't offend me, I am plagued by a ridiculous amount of stretch.  I personally am offended by stretch in fabrics that are not knits.  I understand it serves ready-to-wear well, but don't see where it has a place in fabric stores.  Well, I guess it could be used to make tight 80's miniskirts. Anyhow, my options range from $6 to $10 a yard.  This is so cheap, which leads me to believe that there are much higher quality denims out there for a still reasonable price, $25 would be fine with me.  Does such a denim exist, and if so, how do I track it down.  And what is it exactly?  I know what I don't want, but am not sure what it is that I DO want? If anyone has any thoughts, I would love to hear them.  Ultimately, I want to find something durable without being clunky.

Rain in Beijing

I woke up to thunder and lightning and torrential downpours today. I didn't particularily want to go out, but the citizens of Beijing were out on the their bicycles and mopeds as usual, protected from the rain by nifty ponchos just like this one. They come in different colors, from kelly green to fushia to bright yellow, and I can apparently find them at any large supermarket. I went on a wild goose chase to find them this afternoon after the weather cleared, which involved renting a much too small bike from a street stand, biking all over the city in search of a bike shop, drawing a picture of a bicyclist in a poncho for the bike shop workers, who then conveyed that I needed to find a which point it was time to go have dinner. The search continues tomorrow.
Carly, if you want one to replace your oh so adorable rain miniskirt, let me know.

A. Wang

We didn't end up working with Alexander Wang much this season, (long story, the details of which I don't know...), in the end I think we only made this piece below, which Isabel draped. I liked it a whole lot when she was working on it, it looked a lot more curvy and flattering - here the look is a little boxy, which may or may not be due to the's so interesting to see a piece go from a dressmaker's form to a fit model to the runway model, because sometimes the feel of the garment changes surprisingly.

I briefly worked on the get-up below - I had to quit after only an hour or so because Alexander Wang decided to have it patterned elsewhere (I can confidently say this was not due to any lack of ability on my, or N.C.'s part). I was really disappointed because I had been excited to put my underwear making experience to use. Don't worry though Carly, the hours you logged figuring out the best way to sew a crotch panel will make it onto the runway yet!
(Backstory: Carly and I first became friends when, just after I started working with her as a seamstress at Beckel Canvas Products, she invited me over to her studio and taught me her tried and true method for underwear making.)
The original sketch had all-in-one t-shirt sleeves, which gave it a less swimsuit, more bodysuit feel, and instead of being pulled together at the belly-button with what looks like a band, it was twisted. I'm curious it the twist was eliminated for aesthetic reasons or because the twist made it difficult to get the bottom to sit right -- a problem I encountered right away.

Boy by Band of Ousiders

Fresh off the runway! Here is one of the pieces I made this season, although I have to say that I'm not entirely pleased with the way it fits Ms. Dunst (yes, that is Kirsten D. modeling it). I distinctly remember not being given measurements for this piece -- I have a feeling that they hadn't chosen Ms. D to model yet, and the piece was fit on one of the design assistants. I wish there was a little more room in the hips to allow the skirt to really drape gracefully.

I didn't drape this dress below, I don't remember who did, but I like it -- Band of Outsiders had a few dresses that riffed on the traditional button-up shirt, with a skewed front like this, or another dress that was completely flipped around with the button placket in the back, or the one above, which was supposed to look like a button up shirt that had been cut off at the shoulders and then slipped down.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Living the high life

I am enjoying the forth day of my luxury tour of China, compliments of my incredibly generous great uncle....
I arrived at my hotel in Beijing just now, and was directed to the elevator - "Just to your right, between the Chanel store and Harry Winston's."
Also present are Louis Vuitton and Hermes. Designer beauty prodocts in the bathroom and Evian and champagne in the mini-fridge. I spent my first morning in Hong Kong in a plush bathrobe moving from the pool to the hot tub, then a hot bath, and after slathering myself in every cream, lotion, toner, herbal mist, etc, available; drinking tea and eating asian pears and exploring the vast complimentary contents of my hotel room while looking out over hong kong bay and it's incredible skyline. I have the distinct feeling I will never live quite like this again, and I am indulging as much as possible.
As far as tutorials go, I am afraid that a very necessary cord has been left at home ---so no pictures can be downloaded into my computer. I have a lot of sketches drawn up but they will have to wait. On a happy note, fashion week is a mere 3 days away (but I am in China, which is a day ahead) and I am so excited to see our pieces in the flesh. I'll post them as they are put up on I'm hoping that most of them made it throught the rigorous pre-show editing process.