Friday, March 20, 2015

Life on Two Wheels

All photographs are self-portraits taken by myself using a tri-pod.   

Ahhh it's biking weather again, finally!  I remember the first time that I was allowed to bike on the open road by myself without my parents.  As a kid that was the ultimate dream - open road and total freedom!  My favorite place to bike back then was a fairly secluded road that was surrounded by soybean/corn fields on each side.  It would stretch for about a mile and was always the smoothest road around.  It's a little hard to find a road that open in Savannah, but I have my favorite spots here too!  One of them is further away from downtown and during the weekday it's pretty quiet from traffic.  There are palm trees that line the street, and it's where I like to go when I need to clear my head from school projects.

Blazer:  Red Clover Boutique 
Watch:  JORD - I love these guys! Their craftsmanship, packaging, and customer service is spot on.
Shoes:  LeBunny Bleu

School starts again this coming Monday and I'm so excited for this quarter!  I'm taking a Knitwear Design class with my favorite professor which I'm really looking forward to learning under her again.  I just came back from a week long internship with the incredibly fun and talented team over at Handmade Charlotte!  I interned with them over Christmas break as well, and it's was such a fantastic time!  I'll share some of my work that I did with them hopefully soon.  Below is an instagram photo that I took as I was driving back to Savannah.
Happy Friday!

Sunday, March 8, 2015

A Mid Starry Night

All photographs are self portraits taken by myself using a tripod and self timer.
Clothing design + styling:  Esther Boller

From my past few previous posts, you've probably noticed that I have a thing for the Shakespeare play, A MidSummer Nights Dream.  It's pure magic!  I watched it for the first time this past summer and became completely enchanted by the story.   Although, I mostly fell in love with the whimsical and gorgeous costumes and set design.  I went on a Midsummer Night's kick and watched every movie variation that I could find.  I saw the 1935s film which is by far one of my favorite versions.  I've included a few screen shots below that are just too beautiful not to share.  

That film was the inspiration for this photo shoot.  This entire shoot was about recreating a bit of the magic that I felt while watching this movie.  I made everything that I'm wearing.  The beaded blouse is made from an old beaded skirt that I bought at Goodwill on 50% off day.  I cut a wrap design from it then hand sewed the pieces together and finished off the edges by hand sewing silk bias tape. 

The headband is also made from the same Goodwill skirt that was used to make the bodice.  I cut around the floral beaded design and then ironed on a heavy interfacing to make it stable and stiff.  I later glued the pieces together to a piece of ribbon.  In an upcoming post I'll be sharing a tutorial showing how to make the headband that I wore in this shoot.  This one is pretty over the top, but I'll show a more wearable variation.  

Making this skirt was a lot of fun!  I made it over the summer as a fun side project that I could pick up and hand sew whenever I had down time from working.  Each petal was hand cut to the shape of a flower petal.  Once shaped, I took a lighter around the edges to melt the sides so that it wouldn't fray.  This was before I found out about laser cutting (which I talked about in my previous post).  Then, one by one, I hand stitched each petal to the skirt making a petal gradient.  

It's currently the last week of finals, and I'm very excited to share what I'm making!   The final is one look that includes a jacket, trousers, and a knit top.  Below is a preview photo of my jacket that I posted on instagram.
I also still have a lot of projects from the summer to share with you (I have over 64 GB worth of unedited photos from the summer still - Oops.)  I'm hoping to catch up and share more of the summer projects over spring break next week.

Thanks for keeping up with my work!  

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

A Midsummer Night's Dream: The Dress

Dress:  Esther Boller
Photography + Styling:  Esther Boller
Model:  Brittani

The design inspiration for this dress comes from Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream; a story that’s inspired many artists in the past - from directors to illustrators and writers. Mostly inspired by the 1935 black and white film’s adaptation of the play, I began to think about the era of the 1930s as well.  I took design elements of that era, including art deco seam detailing, and combined them with the soft, romantic, textural elements that were influenced by nature. 

The garment was constructed using the process of draping; using 30 different pattern pieces.   Each piece was individually draped on a mannequin and then transferred onto paper and later corrected.  Below are photos of the initial design lines and later at the half-pinned muslin stage.  This is when only have of the pattern is cut out and pinned to the mannequin to double check shape and alignment before cutting out a full pattern.
The seams were finished using the french seam technique so that the seams wouldn't unravel later.  The raw edges were finished by hand sewing strips of chiffon that were cut on bias and later folded and pressed.

The embellished elements were designed and made by laser cutting silk chiffon.  Which guys - lazer cutting is the BOMB!    At first when I was developing my initial concept I was hand cutting and burning each edge with a lighter so it wouldn't fray.  When I showed it to my professor she laughed, calling it a "handmade, filthy piece of trash" and told me that I should lazer cut them instead.   The light bulb went off, and I will never go back to hand cutting again

The little frayed puffs are hand cut circles of  polyester organza which I then rubbed in my hands to create a frayed effect.  They were later hand stitched onto the style lines of the seams. 

Through this project I learned so many new techniques, and I can't speak more highly of my professor, Sachi.  Sachi is the most dedicated professor I have ever met.  I respect her so much for her skill and knowledge and was so grateful for the amount of time that she poured into our class.  I'm hoping to take as many classes with her as possible!   Below is a photo of my class on the final day of critique. 
I've just started my final project for this quarter this week.  I can't wait to share that project with you next!  Till then, happy sewing!

P.S.  This dress is also for sale in my Etsy Shop!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

A Midsummer Night's Dream: The Process

Last quarter I took Apparel 1 (draping), and I designed my final project around the inspiration of A Midsummer Night's Dream and the era of the 1920s.  I thought that I'd share with you a bit of the design process that went into making it.  I'll share more of the draping and sewing process in the next post when I show the final garment.   
Below is the initial croquis.  I drew over 40 different design variations and picked the one that I liked best.  Below is the one I chose.
Along with the final look, the class was told to pick four other looks to go with the one design to create a five-piece mini capsule collection.  Below is the five look lineup that I chose.
Flats were drawn after the muslin stage.
During the time of making the garment we had to keep a process book.  Here are a couple different texture pages from it. 

Below is a page of a process book that I keep my photography ideas in. The whole time I was envisioning a shoot with white paper butterflies so I sketched it out.
Sneak peek of the final shoot:
I'll be posting the final dress later this week!  I’m very excited to finally share it with you!  

Sunday, January 18, 2015

New Year & New York

"Have you ever been to New York City?"

As someone who's pursuing a degree in Fashion Design, I get asked that question a lot.  It's a question that has always been hard for me to answer though. 

You see, my first trip that I ever took to NYC was two years ago during my senior year of high school. My mom was traveling with me and right as we were boarding the plane, she received a call saying that my older brother Daniel had suddenly passed away.  Due to the shock of bereavement, we had to turn back and cancel everything.

I’d never known how to respond in a simple way, so whenever I've been asked about New York City it's always caught me off guard, and I usually end up tongue tied and unsure what to say. 

Well about a month ago in mid December, I had been given an incredible opportunity to go to New York.  Several gracious people (words will not be able to express what their generous act of kindness has meant to me) came together and gave me the chance to go to New York.  

I was unsure how I would feel when I was packing the day before.  In fact, I was incredibly nervous and majorly freaking out.  A conversation with my very sweet roommate went something like this (please read with hysterical crying), "What if it's not as amazing as everyone makes it out to be?!  What if I don't like the city?  What if it's like the first trip, and some life altering devastating event happens right before?!"

Through the grace of God, none of that happened though.  I woke up at 5am for my flight, and I got on the plane and received no devastating phone call.  Surprisingly, I felt calm and grew more and more excited as the plane rose and dipped from the clouds, until I heard a mono toned plane attendant say over the intercom, "You have arrived at JFK airport, please be careful while opening the overhead bins.  Thank you and I hope that you have enjoyed your flight."  

I made it.  I was in New. York. City. 

I traveled with a designer who was one of the kind people who helped me on my trip.  She had arrived into JFK a little after me, and we took a cab into the city together.  During the ride she instructed me on how to use the subways, and which transportation apps I should download.  About 10 minutes into the cab ride she said, "Look, there's the city!"  I looked out my window and there it was - the sky line - glowing with all the hopeful promises that I've held dear to my heart for many years. 


The hustle and bustle is somehow calming to me.  Everyone is doing something, going somewhere, and at all hours of the day and night.  I feel like someone could live in the city their whole life and still not see everything. And that excites me. 

I stayed with an 
incredibly inspiring family who didn't know me, but let me stay in their home and made me feel so welcomed.  I hope to have an inviting and hospitable home like theirs one day. 

Each morning I woke up with a schedule planning each hour of the day.  I tried to meet with as many connections as I could while I was there.  I wanted to make each day count.  I met with designers, artists, and people in the industry who could offer a bit of wisdom and knowledge.  They helped answer the many questions that I had at this stage of my life.

I went to fabric stores, and my heart felt like I had found home: floors and floors of silk, wool, jersey, leather - and it wasn't all polyester!    I have never seen so much fabric in my life.  AND OH MY GOODNESS, DID YOU KNOW THEY HAVE ENTIRE STORES IN NYC THAT SELL ONLY ZIPPERS?!  ZIPPERS!  I felt like a 13-year-old at a One Direction concert.  The fabric stores understood me.  It was like I found my record shop that all the indie, 90s kids went to and felt accepted. 

I felt like an imposter walking around Barneys, but it was something that had to be done.  I've see the runway looks from photos on, but to see them in person was incomparable.   I touched and inspected the quality of the garments and knew that it was good work - craftsmanship at it's finest - and that level is what I long for in garment construction.  I walked out of that big department store, wanting my sewing machine so that I could make samples of the different design techniques that I had seen.  Instead, I drew what details I could from memory, and saved the sewing till I was home near a machine.

I was there for six days and afterwards I realized that my heart was all in.  This trip brought so much healing to me on a lot of different levels.  It was a fresh start.  If anyone asks in the future if I've ever been to New York, I can say "Yes!"  It's no longer a city that's associated with only sadness and a lost opportunity.  It's now a place of that holds memories of God's goodness, people's kindness, and open doors.  The fear that I had while packing the day before is completely gone.  

Additionally, while I was in NY, I interviewed and received an internship position for this upcoming summer with a luxury women’s wear designer.  I’ll be working in their pattern drafting department and I am beyond excited!  

Thank you to everyone who's been so kind to keep up and follow my journey of sewing and life the past few years; it's meant so much to me.  I’m excited about this new year and the many unplanned possibilities that are available ahead!  I'm ready for New York City now.  It’s a fresh start, and I'm so grateful.  

Friday, October 31, 2014

Outfit: By the Water

All photographs are self portraits taken by myself.  

My favorite season is fall!  I love the sound of leaves crinkling beneath my feet, the smell of bonfires, and most of all the chilly wind hitting my face.  There's something comforting about wearing big sweaters and chunky socks.  I don't get much - well any of that - in Savannah really, but lately it's been about 70 degrees which is chilly enough (yes northerners laugh) to at least wear jackets which I've been pretty happy about! 

Jacket:  Sheinside
Top:  Forever 21
Skirt:  Thrifted

I've recently had a lot of people ask me about how I take my self portraits.  I wrote a post about this a couple of years ago and I thought that I'd share it again.  It's easy for posts to get buried in a blog so here's a link back to that post.

Here are the 4 big tips to take away about self portraits.

1.  Think of the background.  What's going on behind you?  Is it interesting?  Is it distracting?  I try to move my camera around and look through the view finder to get all the angles that I can, before I take the time to focus with the camera my tripod.  This saves a lot of time adjusting the focus later

2.  Double check that you're in focus.  I've had so many photos that I think are in focus, but once I zoom in I realize that it's completely blurry!  It's a very sad moment when you think you've got your shot and then you find out it's blurry.  So take one test photo, then walk back and zoom in on that photo to make sure that it's actually in focus.

3.  Find a place where you don't feel self conscious.  This can be really hard when first starting out - especially if one lives in a city.  If you're not able to find that, and you're in a busy park with people staring -remind yourself that chances are you're not going to see these people again, and just keep shooting.  That usually helps me when I feel awkward taking a photo.  It took years before that thought helped me though, so it's ok if you still need to go to a more hidden place while starting out.

4.  And this is the most important take away - just start shooting!  Take as many photos as possible.  I think that one of the biggest holdups in self portrait taking (and photography in general) is the fear of a photo not turning out well.  I've had countless shoots that have turned out bad.  In fact, I had a shoot a couple of weeks ago turn out bad.   I decided to re-shoot it in a different location and the new shoot turned out so much better. And remember - you get to choose which photos to share with the world.  If you don't like it, don't share it.  Delete it.  But please don't stop taking photos if your first try turns out less than you envisioned it.

Once you start taking photos you'll realize what tricks work best for you.  If you have any more specific questions feel free to leave it in a comment, and I'll be happy to try to answer it!  And for all of you self portrait pros out there, do you have any tips to add?  I'd love to hear your advice as well!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Announcement: If you're in Savannah...

Hello everyone!  I've been a little quiet lately, because I've been preparing for an exciting event that's coming up this weekend!  If anyone is in the Savannah area this Friday, October 17th, come to the Urban Outfitters on Broughton Street.  I will be selling my clothes in their store that day as they take place in their first Marketplace vendors sale!   The store has invited several local artists and craftsmen to showcase and sell their work for a vendor day, and I’m very excited to have been asked to be a part of it!  I've been sewing new clothes non-stop (when I'm not sewing for school work) the past few weeks and I'm excited to finally share it all. 

I'll have a table and will be showcasing/selling my work this Friday from 12pm-7pm.  If you’re in the Savannah area, please come in and say hi!!  This is my first vendor sale and I’m a little nervous so it would be such a joy to meet a few friendly faces!
Here's an Instagram preview of one of the dresses that I'll have for the sale. 

Hopefully I’ll see you there!  And, for those of you who aren't in the Savannah area, I will be making new items for my Etsy shop soon after the sale!