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 Style.com, 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!  

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Tutorial: Vintage Inspired Fur Wrap

Here it finally is - the fur wrap tutorial!  Fur lapels are really fun, whimsical pieces to add to a jacket or coat and is perfect for this fall season.  This tutorial is a fairly simple and quick project to make.  Below are the steps showing how to make your own!
3/4 yard of fur (faux or real, whichever is your preference)
Lining (roughly around the same color as fur)

Step 1.  Cut out your pattern piece.  This will take some experimenting and problem solving depending on the length and width that you want your wrap to be.  I based mine off of the shape of blazer lapel.  Make a few tests from scrap fabric or muslin until you get the shape that you want.

 Your pattern should look roughly like the shape of the below photo.  Remember to add 1/2 inch for your seam allowance on all sides.

Step 2.  Once your paper pattern is cut, place it on the wrong side of your fabric and only cut one piece at a time.  Take a marker and trace around your pattern directly onto the fabric.  It's ok to use a marker for this, because it's not going to be seen.

Side note:  Ignore the lines on the below pattern paper.  I was using old paper that had already been marked on.
Step 3.  Carefully cut the pattern out using the very tips of your scissors.  When cutting fur you want to use the tips so that it doesn't cut the fur short.    This part can go relatively slow, but you want to make sure that you're cutting as little amount of fur as possible.  We're not giving it a hair cut at this point!  Another method is to take a sharp razor/exacto knife and cut into the pattern. This way of cutting is quicker, but make sure that you're still carefully following your marker line.

Once the first piece is cut out flip your pattern over and cut a second piece.  Cut the two lining pieces as well.
Step 4.  Once the fabric is cut out, pin the center back neck seams together.  You want to make sure that the fur is going inward when pinning.  This is because we want as much of the fur as possible to be showing on the outside so that the seam is as invisible as possible.

The easiest way to do this is to lay your pattern seams flat side by side, and then one inch at a time pinch both sides together and pin so that the fur is going inside the pinch.

Step 5.  Using a small stitch length sew the two pieces together.  Sew the two lining pieces together at this point as well.
Step 6.  After sewing, your seam should look like the below photo - all of the fur is going towards the right side of the seam.
Step 7.  Now pin the lining to the fur and sew around the whole wrap leaving a 5-6 inch opening at the top.  This is so we can turn it inside out later.  Remember to keep the fur at the seam going towards the inside all the way around.
Step 8.  After sewing cut several snips into the seams that curve.  This will allow it to lay flat.

Step 9.  Through the opening turn the wrap inside out.

Step 10.  Pin and hand sew the top opening shut using a whipstitch (link to a youtube tutorial on whip stitches).
Tada!  You now have a new fall accessory to add to any jacket!
If you make one, post a photo and share the link!  I've loved seeing all of the lovely variations of the kaftan tutorial that y'all created.  Also, if you have any questions about any of the steps feel free to add a comment, and I'll try to get to it as soon as I can!


Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Sewing: Vintage Inspired Fur Wrap

All photographs are self portraits taken by myself.  

I'm finally getting back into posting more of my summer projects!  This is a photo shoot that I did just the day before I left for my drive back to Savannah.  I was trying to get as many last minute shoots in as possible before I left.  

This summer I rewatched Baz Luhrman's, The Great Gatsby and that sent me into a big 1920/30s kick, which was a big inspiration for the styling of this photo shoot.  One day this summer I was driving through a nearby town and I drove past this old fighter plane and decided that it would be an interesting new location for a shoot!
I made both the headband and the fur wrap that I'm wearing.  I'll be posting a tutorial showing how to make both pieces soon!

The wrap is made from faux fur that I found in the throwaway fabric bin in my school's fashion building last year.  The very last day of finals was the last day that the fashion building was going to be open before closing for the summer the next day.  I was trying to get as much personal sewing in as possible before it closed.  I was one of the very few people left in the building, and I was about to leave when I randomly decided to look for fabric scrapes for future textile swatch books (fabric swatches are so expensive).

Because it was the end of spring quarter, all of the seniors had graduated, and left yards and yards of unwanted fabric in the scrap bins.  So what did I do?  I went home, dropped off my sewing supplies, and biked back with an empty backpack ready to fill.  I found yards and yards of fabric!  I made three different trips and collected as much as I could.

I even went by the offices half way through to double check with a facility member to make sure that what I was doing was ok.  The professor that I asked stopped what she was doing at the moment, and came to do the same thing with me - collecting her own trash bag full of fabric as well!  ha.  So tip if you go to a fashion school - in the spring time check the fabric scrap bins!

Headband:  Handmade, myself
Fur Wrap:  Handmade, myself
Cream Blazer:  H&M
Dress:  Vintage Guess, thrifted (this was one of my happiest thrift store finds).

Working with fur is different than working with normal fabric.  You have to be careful during the cutting/sewing process, because you don't want to actually cut the fur itself.  This cuts the fur short and then looks like it was given an unwanted hair cut.  The trick to keep this from happening is to cut your pattern pieces using a razor, or small snips from the wrong side of the fabric.  I'll go into more detail showing this when I post the full tutorial!  I'm hoping to have the time to share it sometime this weekend.

I hope your week is going well so far!