PREPARING TO BLOW YER MIND…with baby steps

Hello you beautiful people!

After nearly 100 posts of experimental blogs and features, the time has come to narrow down the pack. Dorky Chick in Lipstick is finally going to be on a regular schedule! The random whimsy was great for a beginning project, but I am only a few short posts away from TRIPLE DIGITS on posts. This means there will obviously be a massively massive celebratory 100th post, but before I hit the big leagues, it is time to spruce up. So check it out! These are the features that made the cut!

Monday: Blearning Blogs! That’s right. These are coming back. Each Monday I will post about something in the fashion industry I just don’t know much about and we can learn together. Together we will just be better at life. How bout that?

Tuesday: TRENNNDAYYYYYY! Oh obvi Tues is getting hella trendacious. On Trreennnnndayyy Tuesday be ready for pics of things I’m willing to leave the house in, pics of stuff I would buy if I were swimming in bennies, and tidbits from around the internet I’m loving!

Wednesday: Dorky Chick Diaries! My chance to get real, Dorky Chick Diaries is exactly that– a diary entry. I’ll tell you what is on my mind. You no likey? You no clicky. Capish?

Thursday: Throwback Thursday! I’m so original. There are almost a hundred blog posts in my arsenal, and what better way than to promote sustainability than with resurrecting a post you missed!

Friday: Fearless Friday! What better way to celebrate past adventures and embrace future adventures than a whole day dedicated to getting out of the comfort zone! I love that classic quote “Do something every day that scares you” … Why not give it a shot myself?? This might mean jumping in to a design project, making art and putting my work up for judgment, making moves on the job front, or eating cockroaches Fear Factor style!!! Whoa, kidding. Not that. 

Weekend: VLOGoManiA! Just when you thought I’d forgotten about the videos! My dear friends they are here to stay, and now I just have to figure out what the H-E-double-hockey-sticks I am going to talk about. Expect nothing, so I can impress you with sound effects.

BONUS** Once a month, I will be featuring a Dorky Chick as a “READER FEATURE“! I did this wayyy back when with my dear friend and fashionista, Laura, and would love to spotlight more incredible people that are out there walking around the world in heels! (Or whatever other tasteful shoes you choose ;))

Things to note:

I will not be posting on holidays. That is wrong, and I know you don’t love me that much.

If exciting things come up, I will post about those.

Don’t worry, I doubt any post will be as long as my NYC post. You should read that though, because it took an eternity. Scroll down, I say!

I would love some feedback. What’s working for you on Dorky Chick? Did I skip one of your favorite past features in the lineup?

Some jokes may get reused, and there will be grammatical errors. I feel like if I say it I’ve covered my tracks for the future….maybe?

Cheers! To taking our relationship to the next level 😉

XOXO

C

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Zombie Apocalypse: Now Accepting Applications!

As I slowly chip away at my roster of design classes, I’ve had some great opportunities to broaden my horizons, expand the scope of my skills, and most importantly, increase my chance of survival in the zombie apocalypse

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^^Portland zombie

It is no secret that I was the last child to complete the timed mile run in elementary school, and never got much faster…nor am I notably coordinated and have been known to mistake my finger for a block of cheese….So if I can’t hunt and gather or be a warrior, what’s left?

Translator? Nein, ich spreche nur ein bissen Deutch…plus the Germans have been learning English for decades so that’s out…

Medical expert? Oh! Maybe?  Let me look on WebMD and see….

Prostitute?   Does this look mean anything to you?

Photo on 7-11-13 at 7.24 PM

You cray! *snap snap snap*

I was starting to face the music;  fated to meet my doom as a zombie cupcake with cherry frosting… until now!

My love of needles+thread has led me to a class where I am learning the age-old art of  LeatherworkingOkay so ideally I’d like to be able to throw together some crafty bags or shoes like any girly girl, but as I beveled, skived, and saddle-stitched from the comfort of my desk during a couple-week intensive course at my design school, I realized not all hope was lost for me! Do you think your shoes are going cobble themselves?  Ever tried bringing back enough berries to feed a team using only your two hands? Where are you going to turn when you need a new scabbard?

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Exactly.

Things are off to a solid start- just check out the belt I made this week!!

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If you look at the top left corner of the first photo, you can see the strap of vegetable-tanned leather it transformed from!

 

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Here are just some of the tools used.  An all-purpose leatherworking knife and corkboard (those things are sharp!) , a box cutter and cutting board, beeswax and canvas, and lots of paper towels! We beveled, skived, oil-treated, dyed, smoothed, molded, soaked, hammered, sanded, burnished and punched holes– all in just a few short days! I have to let my belt set for 24 hr before I can buff it, but then it will be ready to wear!  bedazzle!!!!!

(You can exhale, I was kidding)

This weekend I have to go pick up my first pigskin for a tote bag as next week’s project.  The idea of going out to buy skin is still sort of strange, but- hey, I can’t deny that it is a really important part of learning about the industry and basics of construction. And of course, vital to my survival of the pending mass resurrection of conscious-less corpses.

With that, I will be taking applications for my survival team. I still need someone fast, someone who can use a knife without slicing their finger, a translator (pig latin counts, but I’ll need references), Dr. Oz, and a hooker.

Please e-mail applications to dorkychickinlipstick@gmail.com

Deadline pending, we need to find the right people for the team.

More on leatherworking next week 🙂

xo

DorkyChick Diaries: Heartland Hiatus and Happy New Year

Gosh where is my brain?! Technically it is in Waukee, Iowa sitting at the dining room table of my childhood home. I had so many plans to blog up a storm and to use my break from school obligations for productivity in my creative endeavors. I was going sew and blog and create and do this and that and as soon as I hit touchdown in seat 9A last Thursday my plans dissolved. The hot, sweet summer air has seeped into my lungs and I’m enjoying a kind of serenity that cannot be experienced anywhere other than one’s beloved, familiar hometown.

I’m not sewing. I’m not writing. I’m not pretending like I’m motivated to. I was anxious at first about the absence of my motivation, but have suppressed the ants in my pants with much laughter, a few cocktails, and an overabundance of delicious food. It’s a silent celebration for myself. A year ago about this time I sat here looking at this same tree in my front yard with no idea what the next year would look like, coming off such a strange and beautiful year-long Miss Oregon experience. It was pre-reentry into real life, and I was ready for it. I was hopeful that the year to come would be one where I could realize what it meant to be this “new” real-world Caroline vs. Caroline the Miss Oregon. There was no way of knowing, really. In my time under the crown I’d at times been a 35 year old business woman, ambassador, spokesperson, princess, celebrity, a joke/spectacle, an inspiration, a winner, and a loser. I’d tasted the sweetness of victory, experienced loneliness, extended the list of those I call family, was humbled by unrivaled compassion, and discovered within myself a sort of serenity that can only be experienced from maturation. So with these things in mind, I was ready to graduate the accelerated course of life lessons, and move forward in discovering what it meant to know myself after all of this was put away.

Fast forward a year and I’m sitting looking at the same tree from the same window. Likely, I am drinking the same Panera coffee and wearing the same flip flops, however, this time I know the answers to the questions of how my year would go. I have yet to get my “big break”, I didn’t win the MegaMillions Jackpot, and I’m even still a year shy of my college degree, but I am sure that my year went just as I had hoped. I found a group of incredible people to spend time with who not only are great people, but they also love karaoke (bonus), got a job that has taught me so much and has given me a great escape from college life, had some great times exploring my outdoorsy side in the Gorge, found myself immersed in challenging coursework at Portland State that has made me feel like a smarter human, fell in love and enjoyed an unforgettable companionship, grew in friendship with my Miss Oregon sisterhood, dyed my hair fire engine red with no regrets, and, perhaps most importantly, I rediscovered my passion for creativity in both fashion and writing. I would do some things differently, of course, if I were to relive it, but I’m at peace. It wasn’t an easy or mindless year, but it was overwhelmingly positive, and at times magical.

I feel like it is the beginning of a new year. A year from now I hope to write in this same chair for this same blog regarding the answers to my inarticulable questions of what the next twelve months will bring. I’m going to do everything in my little red headed power to live it well.

I’ve got a little more vacation time to soak up before I’m back to my pursuits, and I think I’m best served to prioritize enjoyment over self-obligation. Iowa is not only a wonderful place to grow corn and beans, but it is also a fertile garden bed for dreams.  The endearing idiosyncrasies of Midwestern culture, the feeling of warm,soft grass underneath my feet, and the echoing of unfabricated laughter are the rain, sun, and soil that nurture the fancies of my heart, which I planted in that garden bed many moons ago.

Happy summer, my dear readers. Thank you for peering into my mind, as I love to share. Cheers to sun, simplicity, stupidity, and serenity. And cheers to cheers-ing. I’ll raise a glass to that.

xo

July 1, DorkyChickinLipstick will be full steam seam ahead 🙂 Readers, what would you like to see more of? Trrrrendddayy outfits? Designer highlights? Sewing project updates?  Fashion illustrations? Puns and pop culture references?!?! I know you want it. e-mail me:  dorkychickinlipstick@gmail.com

And in the beginning there was Burger King: a long a** look at my design history

*disclaimer* this got a little lot long, but it is the kind of thing you only write once. It’s good to reflect on where you come from sometimes, and remember why you are who you are.

When I was about 13, I inherited a beautiful sewing machine, easily from the first half of the 20th century. I didn’t know what to do with the thing, but was mesmerized by the sparkly, mint-green lacquer and the sturdy curvature of the body. I started taking sewing lessons from an old lady named Elizabeth in the basement of her home. We did the basics. A pincushion. An apron. Decorative pillows. Then high school happened, I started finding less time until I attended the annual fashion show at a place downtown I’d not really heard of before called “Central Campus.” Turns out, it was a Des Moines Public School hub for high school students with trade/technician education, advanced placement courses, childcare education, and fashion design. I went with my good friend Laura and I think I drooled my braces off.

There were bright colors, loud music, creative outfits, and cool older girls modeling their own designs!

Yes, please!

My mom helped me find out how to get into the 2 year program, I interviewed, and was accepted.

I vacillated for a couple weeks, realizing I would be facing giving up my one true love of show choir for all of my junior year…

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Check out that pouf, y’all. #glorydays

I digress! Anyways, I said a sorrowful “see ya later” to my sparkles and heels and I went for it, and never looked back.

I was the only one from my high school, which sits on a comfortable part of town. At Central Campus, I was attending with students from all over the Des Moines metro area. My class was entirely girls, which was fun, and I got to know some incredible talent and genuinely warm personalities. Half the day, everyday, we would sew, listen to top 40 or country music, cuss like sailors, and laugh for hours.  (Cuss like sailors? I didn’t say that, I’m a lady…) 

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I learned how to sew clothes. We started with the basics: boxer shorts and standard shirts, dresses, and pants. My patience has always been a problem, and the learning curve is steep, but I got the ability to at least produce things to prevent myself from getting public nudity charges.

During the first year, we worked from patterns, and showed off an item of each category at the year-end fashion show. Categories were casual wear, evening wear, sleep/loungewear, children’s wear, avante garde, and one other category I am totally forgetting right now.  Many pics have been lost from the first fashion show, but here the only pics worth your time:

Ill-fitting funeral wear:

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Awkward prom:

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And, my favorite, BK Loungewear:

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Senior year was when the real fun began. We were given more challenging projects such as working with a partner (which anyone working in design knows takes extra effort) to take ugly fabric and manipulate it to make it look decent:

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(The only way out was to make our own pattern on top of the nasty floral. You can’t even see it…haha)

Deconstructing an awful old dress and making it into something new:

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(I’m heartbroken I don’t have the picture of this transformation, but it began as a poofy-sleeves eighties short dress that was black with a fluffy skirt and spits of pink, turquoise, and purple meshy netting. The collar was my favorite part, and you can’t really tell but the back is a whole bunch of 4 petaled flowers simply tacked in the center. The edges were left raw for texture.)

The most exciting part of the program came at the end of year two: senior collections. So skipping ahead 12 months, I presented my collection: Personal Day Couture.

Inspired by sunny days, femininity, natural fibers, and a touch of elegance, I developed a collection designed for a style-loving lady breathing in the fresh, spring air.

The requirements:

Must create 5 looks, and draw them on croquis figures

Must have designed and constructed one garment for each look. (Some items were aloud to be purchased for the sake of time and cost. Before you are less impressed, keep in mind these are high schoolers with extra curriculars, home school requirements, jobs, and varying incomes. Plus most designers don’t make their own stuff!)

Develop patterns

Create cost reports

Find coordinating music for their show

Recording a video talking about the collection

and select models (from the class)

I give you the highlights- complete with hammed-up commentary:

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Wouldn’t be complete w/o high school hair…

Here we have the lovely Alexandra wearing a lightweight seersucker button-down tank with elastic at the bottom hem to give it that “bubble” look. Belt made of a cotton khaki-colored fabric with sparkles to give it that “couture” pow. 

**A note on those buttons. There is/was (I’m not sure) extremely cool and very small button shop in downtown Chicago that my mom and I stumbled upon during one trip. I found a 3 inch diameter wooden button that screamed of flair and bought a couple for the hell of it. They were part of my inspiration for my collection, and my fashion peer and friend, Shelby’s, grandfather heard I was looking for more and volunteered his time to make me a whole bunch to use! They were perfect and absolutely beautiful!! My mom wants them but I’m saving them for my next collection  ;)**

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Next the ultra-chic Alyssa wearing a tailored tube dress with pre-frayed hem and floral neckcessory complete with custom wooden buttons. Vintage shoes, but she’s makin’ em look fuh-reshhhh.

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Monet is looking sassy in these lightweight sparkle khaki shorts. The drawstring, deep pockets, and elastic, bubble hem on these bottoms makes Monet look ready for a playdate in the sun. Shirt was an awful denim mens shirt I altered for this outfit. Shoes from her personal wardrobe.

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Here’s Rachel, and that stance means business. Unfortunately, this is probably one of my better pieces in the collection, but you can’t really see it. It was a navy blue sweater/jacket made from a stretchy knit. Again, it had the bubble bottom but was not fastened in the front and was lined with the same material. Sleeves also had elastic so she could wear it anywhere on her arm. The pearls gave a little polish to this unstructured garment.

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There’s Mel! I love this sassy lady. She is werkin’ a skirt made of the same material as the sweater above. It had tucks in addition to the bubble skirt to give it extra body. Her button is on the back of the custom hat band.

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And here I am! The designers always came out in their final outfits, and it was typically their “baby” of the collection. This two-piece motif is a white stretch tube dress underneath a denim over-dress (is that what it’s called? like an overcoat but it’s a dress? still don’t know) I used differing shades of denim to maintain the relaxed feel of the collection and gave it an edge with an exposed zipper. This outfit is ideal for picnics that involve caviar.

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Always one to love back detailing, I lined the spine with the signature wooden buttons.

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And there you have it! I was awarded “Most Cohesive Collection” for my consistence in shape, color, and texture. I’m quite critical of it, but for what tools I was given, I think it is an immense jump start, at least, to using my mind.

That’s where I left off.

I moved halfway across the country from my sewing machine and had some living to do. I took a break from fashion, not feeling that I was competitive enough to make it in the industry. I wasn’t mentally dedicated or prepared enough to spend umpteenthousand dollars on art school. So I did some things on my bucket list:

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You know… life stuff.

I did get my hands on a sewing machine once to design a Lady Gaga costume for a sorority sister in a fraternity spoof pageant:

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(she won, of course 😉 teehee)

But other than that, life took off. I didn’t sew. My closet over this period of time consisted of windbreakers, college sweats, overly-mature business attire, and some sparkly pageant gowns. All of these are wonderful on any given occasion, but were worn with the intention of fitting a bill; meeting a requirement.

The turning point happened this last winter. In cold, snowy Iowa over Christmas break, I was back with my beautiful green sewing machine. It looked so pristine next to the window against the white backdrop that it screamed “COME PLAY!” I needed an outfit to wear out on a special night out with friends, and nothing in my wardrobe or in stores was satisfying my style appetite. So I got to work; running to the fabric store, looking up outfits I wanted to recreate, draping, cutting, pinning. I was caught in a time warp, and had melted into my project. I felt great— no. I felt electric.

The inspirations:

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The result:

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This, which boasted faulty construction, raw edges on the inside, a slightly askew zipper and makeshift cups to contour. Not to mention an unforecasted red velvet snowfall all over my bedroom.

Wearing it was a total blast. It was mine, it was an expression of my inspiration and not just something from the mall that sort of captured my ideas. I had, as Oprah would say, an “ah-ha!” moment. I realized I hadn’t been exercising my creativity muscles. I missed the touch of the fabric, the whirr of the machine, and the first breath of fresh air when a project is completed. What I loved the most was the pressure of integrity; I knew what measures I had to take to make the physical creation as thorough as my concept, and that takes perseverance.

Now, I’m taking a few steps back, but already feel like I’ve taken twice that many leaps forward.  I’ve got a new machine, am taking new classes, am meeting people with shared interests, and I hope to meet more. I’m reaching out to share an experience that I’m ecstatic to jump into. I’m retracing my steps under new guidance to fill gaps in my knowledge, and to patch together my skill sets so that I can continue to reap these ideas I continually sew(oh no not a pun! , even if that means making yet another introductory pair of pajama pants…

And now we’re back at the beginning. We are back where I found you, and back where I welcomed you to my journey. Perhaps it makes more sense now why I have chosen to spend my time on a “fashion” blog. I’ve had to ask myself: in a sea of trend-seeking, aspiring e-starlets, what’s one more blog with pictures? And this is why I chose to write this long a$$ blog post. (Pardon my French.. s’il vous plait) I needed to answer that question for myself, and I wanted to share my diary pages, as promised.

I’m going inside, looking at my own mismatched seams and raw edges, and saying

ah-ha!

For now, they are right where they belong.