Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Chuppah ideas to finished curtain . . .

I thought you'd like to see how this curtain turned out. One of the things I enjoy about it is I can tie it back where ever I want, the "holes" make for perfect loops to tie it back.


Thursday, December 9, 2010

It is cocktail party season...

Years ago a co-worker of mine asked if I would copy her favorite vintage bag so she could give them as gifts for the holidays. I obviously said yes, it's so fun to get to investigate vintage pieces I don't have the patience to shop/hunt for. We did modify the proportions some, shorten the bag, lengthen the handle..

As I was cleaning out my studio, I found my pattern pieces and the half finished one I had started to make for myself. So, I finished it up and here it is, just in time for all the holiday parties!

One of the things I love about this design is (if it's not clear from the photos) it's totally reversible. I love a good stripe lining and in this case it makes for a great option, something to add to your little black holiday ensemble. The other thing that I love about this design, is how you arm slips into the handle, the arm opening is the same as the opening to put things into the bag. Brilliant. So easy to hold the bag while also holding a drink and . . . whatever else you fancy, something to eat, your sweetheart's hand .. . . :)

It's nice, yes?

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Chuppah ideas lead to all kinds of things...

I really love collaborations. I know I must say this all the time. But it's really one of my favorite parts of working on design projects. I also, really enjoy getting involved with projects that I normally don't know anything about.

Recently I've been helping a friend create a chuppah for her sister's wedding. We had lots of conversations about possibilities for the design of the sides that would be draped down around the poles that hold up the canopy, one of the options involved cutting the fabric into a vaguely organic lace-like pattern.

I started a mock up, to see how it could look and how long it might take, as we don't have that much time before the wedding. While we decided this idea won't ultimately work due to the time crunch, I liked the idea so much I came home and kept working on the first curtain.

I love the way the cut pieces hang down and the light filters through. I've decided to use my mock up as a curtain in my bedroom since I only have one window, this mock up will work quite nicely.

In the mean time, I totally want to try this for a party dress, so many ideas of what to do with this kind of texture in a dress, something with a lining....

You see way I love collaborations, such fun things comes of it.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


I love dresses, I often call myself a dress maker, as in, one who makes dresses.
But, I don't love tights, or more specifically, I don't love wearing tights. And with winter sneaking in, I have to admit I also love pants. In fact, from November to April it's most of what I wear. (Find me the warm tights that don't pinch my toes and I'll keep wearing dresses...)

Designing pants is not always my favorite, but after years in menswear, I have developed a love of some of the traditional touches... and the fabrics! I love the men's wear fabrics.

So every fall/winter I come back to my pants patterns and work out the ones that are good and worth making again. I make myself rough drafts, my rough drafts never have pockets. (Which drives me batty when I actually end up wearing them.) Rough drafts are exactly what they sound like, rough. I make them for fit and adjust my pattern. Getting it right is tricky. Using a fabric with Lycra does not make up for pattern-making sins. Making the perfect fitting pattern can be a slow going process. (But it's really so worth the effort.) I don't have many pants that I love. I have exactly 3 pairs of pants that I love. (the pair not shown came from Club Monaco... I don't make all of my clothes, I just want to.) My favorite winter pants (hanging on the hook in the photo above) are lined in flannel. Flannel. They are so warm and easy to wear. I need more flannel ASAP. I could have 7 pairs like this during the NY winters. The other pair, they are new, made from the narrow strip of leftover fabric sent back to our office from the factory after they made a suit. This lack of fabric demanded these pants be skinny and short. The fabric was so beautiful I knew I could find a way to make it something. I'm quite pleased with how they turned out!

Despite this week's beautiful mild weather, I have pants on the brain. Need/want always inspires me, 'I am cold, I want warm pants, with pockets. That are slimming, look good with my shoes and are cute.' This is my assignment. I'll keep you posted on what I come up with... :)

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Playing catch up!

It's been a crazy month! To sum up, In the last few weeks, I went home for a visit, I moved, and we've been working like mad on creating our shoe design business (coming soon!).

To start at the beginning... my trip home! There have been years when I have had to go home several times, for some happy and some sad occasions. This year, there wasn't a happy occasion, but 3! There is a new Nephew to meet, my mom bought a new condo that needed to be seen and my oldest sister and her family were home from living in South East Asia for the last year, and it was her son's 2nd birthday. So home I went.

It was lovely. It was also the first time in a very long time all 4 of us siblings have been in the same place at the same time. It's really sad no one thought to get a picture! I think we're all looking at the 4 nephews instead!

Anyway, among all the family time my sister and my mom and I went to my Aunt's Jo Ellen's store Coco and Toulouse go shopping, which also had just moved into a new home. A beautiful new space next door to her clothing boutique, Coco gets Dressed. Her stores always inspire me.. It's so fun to see the things that captured her eye and imagination when she was buying. And I always love seeing how she puts it all together. It was such a treat to get to spend some time with her!

I also got to sneak in a visit to my friend Elizabeth Dye's store, The English Dept. Her store and her dresses are also an endless well for delight and inspiration. Even if your not planning a wedding, it's really fun to see what she's been up to.

And then just like that it was time to come home to New York. My visit was way too short, there were still so many people I wanted to see and just get to know Portland again, the city itself feels like it grew up since I moved away. It was a great trip and I returned home to Brooklyn, very early in the morning, and already homesick... but really inspired!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


I've had fall fashion thoughts on the brain for weeks. And now, suddenly I am pulling out all my sweaters, thinking about socks and wishing I had more plaid pants!

There is always a newness to fall, maybe after years of new school years and that crisp new-ness that fall weather brings, the relief after a hot muggy summer.

And this fall there is lots of new-ness going on in my studio. Namely, I'm moving! I'm not going very far, 2 floors to be exact. But my new space will have a different view, more windows, a new color palette and more space. I don't move often since I love where I live, but I do love the opportunity to stir up my work and living spaces. I'm really excited! (I've been day dreaming of having these rooms on any floor in my building for YEARS!)

And with the beginning of October comes thoughts of Halloween and all the holidays that follow . . . So I'm putting together my list and sketches of things to make as gift ideas. . . is there anything you'd like to see? Warm winter hats? Party dresses? What do you fancy for this fall?

Friday, September 24, 2010

Fascinators added to Etsy!

These are not new, but they are new in my Etsy shop!

So now begins the process of designing new things! Despite the late summer weather we're having today, I've got fall on the mind . . . I'm looking forward to making things for winter holidays and parties...

Keep me posted if you have any special requests!


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

A happy announcement!

I'm happy to announce I have finally opened my Etsy shop!

Please see the link on the right hand side of this page.

Some of you might be surprised to see I have opened it with jewelry (didn't see that coming did you?). I started making these necklaces a while back and have gotten such lovely compliments on them I thought I'd just offer them up. Here's what I have so far:

(long chain leaf necklace)

(asymmetrical ball chain necklace)

(short leaf chain necklace)

What else would you like to see available in my new shop? I will add the hats and facinators, of course. I was also thinking of adding the sweater corset (as long as I can find additional felted sweaters!).

Thoughts? I'd love to hear from you guys!


Friday, September 17, 2010

Last weeks Fashion Night Out Event

Somehow I had the very good fortune of getting involved with an event for Fashion Night out that was created by a new company called Fashion Lab in Process (or FLiP), created by Daria Dorosh.

Our assignment as designers was to take an existing garment and turn it into something else. And the end result should be more expensive looking then what we started with, we were "upcycling" not just recycling.

It was a wonderful design exercise. Starting with a garment gives you limits you have to work around and within that can be a really fun challenge.

The other designers were all really amazing. They included Melissa Kirgan and Xing-Zhen Chung-Hilyard of Eko Lab, a wonderful sustainable design collaborative, Meiling Chen of Fearless Dreamer and Laura Bond with her self-titled line.

It was really inspiring to see how differently all of the designers interpreted this kind of re-invention. It was really fun!

The lighting in the space it's self was not very conducive to getting good pictures, but above is a quick snap shot of one of the racks of our pieces. Also featured at the show was Gayil Nalls, who's work included incorporating smells, good ones, into the clothes, above on the left you can see her red top with the lavender flower, the flower actually smells like fresh still in the garden lavender. It's a very fun alternative to traditional perfume.

And below are the before and afters of both of my pieces.

This was an old felted sweater. I'm pretty sure it was originally passed off to me by my sister. Years ago, new to New York winters, I cut off the sleeves and made them into a "warmer". Here I took the remaining sweater vest and turned it into a fully boned corset. Since the wool is fully felted (after years of neglectful washing) the wool has a really nice hand and still retains some of the give of the knit.

This beautiful pair of pants where passed to me by my dear friend Peggy, she'd had them for years and sadly they had become moth eaten. But there was still usable wool in them if I could cut around them. She gave them too me to maybe make a hat or something. Instead I pulled them out for this. And I was able to cut around all the moth holes. To do it, I figured I needed to be clever with my piecing things together. It turns out there are 40 pieces in this skirt (it's fully lined in the same pattern, it's really beautiful on the inside also).

I ended up just returning the skirt to her. When you start with very small pants, you end up with a very small skirt. I really enjoy how the shifts in grain reflect the light differently. I'm looking forward to making this one again. . . this time in my size!

This whole project left me looking around my wardrobe, wondering if there's anything in there that wants to be made into something else . . . but let me know if you have any old felted sweaters, I am totally game to make more corsets!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

k* Shoes, Spring 11 samples arrived!

There is a small group of us that have been working with Keiko of k* shoes for a while now, long enough that we have started to evolve. We are working on a new shoe collective that we plan to launch for Fall 11 (soon!). There will be more news of our collective to come, we're all really excited about it! I'll keep you posted.

In the meantime, we were also really excited to see the samples for Spring. And they finally arrived! So, last Friday when it was still very much summer in Brooklyn we had a very fun photo shoot of the new samples.

These are a couple of my out takes as all the "models" tried on all the samples.

You can imagine the pile that is left over after 3 women spend several hours trying on shoes! There was only a couple pairs in my size, so I was able to stay focused on my job of photoing everything. . . (which was it's own kind of enjoyment!)

Looking forward to all these brightly colored shoes might help us through the winter! (Though, I'm sure I could make use of a couple of pairs this fall! Patience was never my strength. . . sigh.)

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Nominations are always glamorous!

Above is the Nominated design team for the show The Good Wife.
On the left is my friend Jenn Rogien Faletti, in the middle is her boss Dan Lawson and on the right is Daniele Hollywood.

It's not every day that one of my really good friends gets nominated for an Emmy in Costume design. (Jenn was very clear that the nomination was in her boss's name and I totally understand that, it is still very exciting!)

You can imagine how excited and flattered I was when Jenn said she wanted my help with her dress. It's not every day an Emmy Nominated Designer asks me to make her a dress.

So this is what we came up with! It is always fun to work with people that are willing to see what happens once you start working. Our friend My Phung joined us for one of our fittings (and gave me such great help with the interior construction! I learned so much!) and the 3 of us just got to see what the fabric would do and play with it.

It was such a fun project! From the beginning Jenn wanted to wear emerald green and something with a little bit of a train. I think the green was such a great choice on her. And it looked great on the Red Carpet!

So here's to more nominations and great collaborative projects to come!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

out with the old

Silk and tulle corset, silk bustle and tulle and cotton skirt

4 ply silk crepe cocktail dress

I just realized I forgot to post these. And they were my favorites. . . what do you think? So this is it for the old, now I'm working on a project I'm really excited about , more about that piece to come!


Thursday, August 5, 2010

Fascinators . . .

Like I said, I love making the fascinators. My (inexhaustible) photographer, said all the feathers were like little aliens, moving all about that he had to keep track of... which seems so fitting to me, given my love of deely boppers as a kid.(what do you really call those head bands with glitter balls attached to springs?) It's difficult to be gloomy with so much festiveness on your head!

Anyway, I think he did a marvelous job.

Photo credit Lee Paulson, see more of his work here.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

More from LA . . .

I have been working on some dresses to use as samples or jumping off points when I work with new clients. It's been good to start with familiar shapes, they kind of feel like blank slates. They also have worked remarkably well as jumping off points for myself and what I want to do next. And they have inspired me to rebel a little, do something new...

The dress above is a silk taffeta and tulle corset with a multi colored tulle skirt. The head piece is made of handmade silk flowers with some feathers and bit of birdcage tulle.

This dress is silk taffeta with a feather neckline detail. The hat is hand stitched petals made of silk taffeta, silk shantung, silk organza and tulle with feathers.

The little hats, fascinators really, have been so much fun, I might make them a much bigger focus of my studio. . . They don't have to be only for big special occasions, they're good for small special occasions too, like dinner parties.

We'll see what's next . . .

photo credits for this post and the last (as well as the header) goes to Lee Paulson, please see more of his work here.

Monday, August 2, 2010

New things in the Studio

My time in LA was well spent. As well meaning as I was to see more of LA and look for inspiration, all of my time was spent making photos...

So here's a little glimpse of what I've been working on.

Friday, July 23, 2010

off to LA!

I've been working on all kinds of things for my trip to LA. There's works in progress all over the studio and a nice group of pieces I'm really pleased with to take with me. Here's a glimpse of a couple pieces I finished yesterday. . .

Hopefully my trip will be productive and I'll have much more to share . . . . .

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Mel's veil

My friend My Phung made Mel's dress and she suggested I make her veil, since I've been playing around with festive "hats". But mostly she thought, I could use the same fabric as My Phung used in her dress. Mel was game to have another person join in on her fittings and it turned out to be a really fun and totally new kind of collaboration (just for the hat, My Phung had the dress nearly complete when I came in!). The collaboration between bride, dress designer and "hatter".

I made the veil and the flower as separate pieces so post ceremony and post wedding Mel could continue to wear the flower in her hair. I love these pieces that can be worn after the day. . . continue the celebration on into everyday life. . .

It did seem like a grand celebration! Here's to the lovely Bride!

Photos by photographer Douglas Levy, you can see more of his work here.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Oregon-ization . . .

I was talking to a friend of mine last night and I mentioned I'd recently bought an A/C. I said, "My inner Oregon girl fainted. I think I just became a real New Yorker." Really I bought the A/C for my studio, it's difficult to work when it's too hot to turn on the lights, let alone the sewing machine and iron. It's a business expense, right? I still feel a little guilty. "Portland is the greenist city in the county", I said. You can take the girl out of Oregon but you can't take the Oregon out of the girl.

So he mentioned to me that he's just read an article about the Oregon-ization of the country. This article about the Artisanal movement seems to be growing across the county. (The article is here if you're interested.) Apparently my goal of having a Portland lifestyle in Brooklyn (or anywhere else) is not just mine. This idea of having something unique and hand made instead of mass produced is growing in popularity. Hallelujah. It's true I grew up in the DIY-er's corner of the country, where people remodeled their own houses and made their own jam from the local berries. We didn't call it Artisanal back then, but this idea is very ingrained in me. Now when my family gives homemade jam or liqueurs for holiday gifts it feels like pure luxury. It's beautiful to see it spreading around the country.

After working in the corporate fashion industry I missed the world of making only a few of something and working directly with the person that was buying the dress, bag, pants or hat I was making.

So this is why I left my full time job to start my studio, to work with the people that want something handmade. It feels like the next step to being challenged as a designer and to try to live in a more sustainable world. Apparently I'm not alone. Hallelujah.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

me and Fifi

I'm not a costume designer . . . except when my dear friend Peggy Queener has a great idea of what one of her characters will wear and I convince her to let me help her create it.

Fifi La Grange is such a fabulous character. when I heard about the dress Fifi would need to be wearing in the final scene of Peggy's one woman show, Fifi La Grange; The Road to Fabulous!, I only said, I'd love to help you! In the end, it turns out I meant, "Please give me all your inspiration and let me do this! You can watch!"

Peggy was gracious enough to let me bring her character to life and do something much bolder then I am normally inclinded to do on my own. I love working in this kind of collaborative way.

Her show went off as a wonderful success. If you missed it, you can follow the story of Fifi here.