Pictures of my TREEENNNNDAAAYYY outfit! 7.29

I’ve been working hard lately at trying to grow up. I’ve lived on my own for two years, I feel like I’m finally settling into a great network of people, and I want to be able to put more exciting things on my plate. Yesterday I celebrated a wonderful day of domestication. I cooked. I cleaned. I socialized.

And I wore homemade clothes!

As painfully June Cleaver as it sounds, I couldn’t help myself! I made this classic A-line skirt out of a funky black paisley-esque cotton last winter, and haven’t had a chance to see if it was worth wearing until this week. As basic and boring as can be, but I kinda liked it with my pink J. Crew necklace, grey tank, and go-to wedges!

Cue pic that says “Oh! Please have some more casserole, I made plenty!”

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Don’t let my fake smile fool you, I was really just happy to see carpet for the first time in weeks.

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It really is the little things. 

Hope you have a gleefully-rolling-on-the-floor kind of day.

xo

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Blogress Report: Button-up Shirt and Wrap Dress DOMINATION!!! Sort of!!!!

Great news. It’s official. I am slightly smarter, slightly more accomplished, and slightly closer to crowdsurfing through thousands of adoring fans while people call my name and the trumpets sound and fireworks are exploding and Beyonce’s lipsyncing the national anthem and all there is to eat is pizza!!!!!!!!! That’s what dreams come true is, isn’t it!?

I just completed my next round of sewing projects! I took a “Perfect Shirt” class, a dress class, and also textiles! This weekend I have been doing a lot of last-minute crunching to get these suckers done.

PROJECT 1: THE PERFECT SHIRT

The “Perfect” Shirt is certainly not flawless, but this was an incredible introduction into traditional tailored garments. I made a shirt somewhat similar to this when I was back in high school, but it looked like doo-doo and was never seen again. This was a second chance for me, and it still wasn’t a walk in the park, but some serious progress was made!

Check it out!

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Eh? Eh??! I can’t take credit for just whipping this out myself, because I definitely had some guidance.That being said, I did have to finish a considerable amount on my own time since I missed some classes for my travels home.

Here’s what I learned:

-Proper plackets. The Rubik’s cube of fabric folding.

-Collar stands

– Adding structure with a yoke on the upper back.

– How to make a proper cuff

Here’s what I need more work on:

– Everything. There are a multitude of little tweaks that I couldn’t possibly think that I’ve mastered here, but all time spend working on this was incredibly worthwhile. There is little to no creative freedom in a project like this, so it is a classic example of “practice makes perfect”

PROJECT 2: THE WRAP DRESS

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Image << That’s the print up close.

This was a fun project to do because it didn’t require any zippers or buttons!!! Wahoo!! The fabric was fairly easy to work with and the garment seems to fit fairly well. It is lined with a grey synthetic, which frayed easily, but for as often as I’ll wear the thing, I think it will be fine.

Here’s what I learned:

-How to use a hemmer foot: this is a tool that wraps around the edge of the fabric and curls it as the machine stitches. This helps to make delicate hems.

-How to use twill

-A refresher in pattern manipulation

What I’ll work on for next time:

– Patience with the hem. I thought the hemmer foot would solve all my problems, but it is not a cure-all

– Measuring more accurately. It fits fairly well, but the..er.. girls ain’t gettin’ no bigger.

– Like the shirt, just overall confidence and proficiency.

I think the skill I am closest to mastering after this weekend is ironing. This is way more crucial to the construction process than I had ever imagined. I won’t try and make an irony joke here, but please know that I want to.

Well that’s all folks! I’m tired of sitting down, so I’m off!

As we say ’round here– cheers, to sucking less!

xo

Dorkychick Diaries: Oprah Where’s My Advil?

I love Oprah. I used to sit and eat my after school snack and watch her give away cars and interview celebrities. Tom Cruise jumping on the couch as I ate Oreos was good livin’. Over the course of the past few years my mom started sending me articles from her magazine, which were always so wonderful. It’s only logical that one of the wealthiest celebrities of all time would be able to tap the brains of those with remarkable wisdom and superior schooling. I ended up loving the inspiration-packed publication and subscribed a few months ago and it has been nothing short of refreshing and thought provoking.

I’m not one for quotes- not in movies, books, or otherwise. It’s got to be really good to get my attention, however an exception caught my attention by way of contributor Gayle:

“Always be more than you appear, and never appear to be more than you are.”

– Horst Kasner

These words singed my brain and have been haunting me ever since. For as deeply as I attempt to immerse myself in the art of appearance, this sentence called me to reflect upon my own self projection. I felt a question mark ricochet around the walls of my noggin; rebounding off of recent dinner conversations, the unfinished sewing projects that are burning my conscious, blearning and other blog shenanigans, shiny sashes in my closet, and the tendrils of ruby bound in elastic on my head. Am I more than I appear… or just a wannabe? Where does one draw the line on these sorts of things? Where does this fit in with my lifestyle and what I project? Or am I thinking honest thoughts but not saying honest words?! Why on earth is this quote getting under my skin?

Oprah, in your next giveaway, can I have some advil?!

I spent some time thinking about all of the ways I wanted to know that balance in my life. As of late, my vision has been muddied by an influx of deadlines and remastering of priorities. I read the quote again and again as if to beam through fog with laser-vision. There, on a summer afternoon in the midst of some quiet time, I was reminded of the importance of knowing one’s own worth, and pursuing conscious humility. At times, such mentalities feel intangible in this world made of stitches. Fashion alludes to something “more” with every choice of material, photo shoot lighting, and hairstyle. I’ve found myself a contributor to such illusion. Right now I’m sitting on the couch, but it is quite possible your brain thinks I am in a goofy pose wearing a trendy outfit such as the one in the background. Objectively this is misleading, and, for me, discouraging as I sit here on the couch with a daunting workload of sewing and writing deadlines in the days to come. Certainly not playtime. It is these times that require words like those to remind myself that I’m still on the uphill battle. Time to get down to the nitty gritty…. I may need some late-night coffee.

This is one of those moments of clarity I created this blog for. I hope to look back on and say “yeah, I grew up a little bit more that day” as I type through the tension of the petty stresses of my week and clear some headspace for more important thoughts.. Thoughts like: “OW! I just poked myself with a needle again!” and “SH*&^^% I thought I did that right the first time!” It is times like these when I take comfort that every “trrreennnday” picture is a small building block and every missed stitch in a sewing project is one I won’t miss in the future.

My Friday night off of my restaurant job will be filled with the repetition of the sewing needle and cranking out tomorrow’s fashion piece for my college newspaper. It certainly won’t appear to be much more, yet as the breeze and the sweet melodies of a street violinist softly fill my quaint apartment, I admittedly am smirking with gratitude, knowing it is so much more than I could ask for.

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

Blearning Blog: Today’s Episode Brought to You by the Letter B!

For those who missed it, I’m working on a new regular blog feature called “Blearning Blogs” and I’m highlighting a designer A-Z that I’ve never heard of before. Clearly if they have an established career I’m behind the times, but I take comfort in accepting there is a first time for everything.

So how’s about a proper introduction to today’s letter? Hit it Beetles!

 

 

Haha, I hope you watched the whole video, because I sure didn’t. Enough of my trickery! Today’s letter is B and I am highlighting designer Brandon Sun.

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According to his website, the designer graduated from Parsons in NYC and was named “Designer of the Year” amongst a handful of other awards. He went on to work with J. Mendel and Oscar de la Renta. His work is noted especially for his incorporation of furs, which you can tell even still a place in his 2013 Spring ready-to-wear line. He’s moved on to become more independent, and you can find a high-end fur accessories line at luxury retailers like Bergdorf Goodman, Saks Fifth Avenue, BoontheShop, and Savannah. Others were mentioned, but, admittedly, none of which I’d heard of.

So check it out! Here are some pics of my favorites from his recent Spring 2013 independent collection. There are some beautiful styles here and it’s clear that construction is both innovative and mindful for Sun.

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Check out those furrrrocious furs!

What’s super cool is that Brandon Sun actually designed a mink collection exclusively for Janet Jackson which she used in a promotional campaign for Blackglama called “What Becomes a Legend Most?” (Blackglama is an extremely high-end mink fashion retailer that boasts it’s exclusivity by deeming less than 2% of the world’s mink worthy of their designs. Also, Blackglama starts with the letter “B”….. Booyah.)

Check out this vid I nabbed from his site!

Make sure to do a Google search first if you are wanting to look up Brandon Sun. If you go to http://www.brandonsun.com, like I did, then you’ll find yourself on the newspaper website of the 2nd largest town in Manitoba, Canada. You guessed it — Brandon. 

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Top stories and photos include :

-a car wreck where a car hit another car and also hit another car. Everyone’s fine.

– a member of the “Prairie Thistle” band bagpiping at a community event.

– somebody riding a bike, and separately somebody riding a skateboard. It’s 0 degrees Celsius there, so I think I’d take a picture too.

So cheers to Brandon Sun and the Brandon Sun! One of which is warm under layers of expensive fur, and the one who is in freezing temperatures to the North. Maybe they can work out an endorsement deal….

Signing off from a sunny spot in PDX!

have a great wednesday, xo

WEEoooWEEoo: Project alert!… and a follow up on fabric!

So these past couple weeks have brought new excitement with the beginning of my intermediate dresses class. Each woman is given a different dress pattern of her choosing and over the next weeks we will complete it thoroughly!

“Uhh so you’re getting a pattern and making it? That’s it?” Yes. And also, no! This dress class incorporates pattern fittings, instruction on lining, new skills, and close supervision. So when I’m all done I’m going to have a dress that doesn’t just reflect skills I have, it will also be a showcase of new ones!

Here’s the pattern I chose:

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This wrap dress  is an exclusive pattern of my sewing studio, but is clearly inspired by the classic design of Diane Von Furstenburg in the 1970’s as a way for women to look professional and also stylish in the workplace. It still holds that purpose today, but can be worn on any occasion that suits you!Image

My venture to Fabric Depot the other day was to scavenge through the myriad of cloth choices to find something that I would want to wear, that fit the criteria, and, most importantly, matched my hair (which is still difficult….)

I found a 100% cotton print that is sturdy, but has just a little give and is lightweight enough to wear in summer, but not too lightweight that it wrinkles easily! Some pretty fabrics didn’t stand up to the wrinkle test. (Tip: next time you are thinking about buying a clothing item or fabric, take a bit of the material and bunch it up in your hand. Release it, and see if the wrinkles stay. The more wrinkles, means the harder the garment is to maintain it’s original shape, and is something to take into consideration.)

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This stuff passed the wrinkle test with flying colors, and I found a grey lining for a reasonable price that should hang nicely with it.

As you can see, it’s not really wearable yet…

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But if Portland keeps having such nice weather I may never need it!

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teehee!

Time to go and soak up that vitamin D! Have a great Saturday, and thank you so much for reading! You may think I’m just saying that, but I’m not. It means a lot 🙂

xo!

My dad doesn’t need Google for fashion advice

My dear readers I have a special treat for you- my first guest contributor! After reading my suit article, I got an e-mail from my favorite guy in a suit! My dad! (yes apparently he is reading my fashion blog- what a guy! haha) So with his permission, I’ve included his two cents! 

Miss Caroline,  As one who started his working years in the men’s clothing business, at a high end men’s retail and tailor shop, I know a little something about suits.  My personal preference is in the style.  There are different styles of men’s suits.  The traditional style calls for a three button coat, a single “hooked” center of the back flap, and lapped seams(rather than single seams).  In the summer time cotton poplin, linen, and seersucker are my preferred cloths, though a very light hard finish thin wool can be nice.  In the winter I prefer 100% wool, with a hard finish.  Soft finish, like thick cloth, for blazers is good, too.  The trousers can be either plain front or pleated, but traditional calls for cuffs on the trousers.  I prefer a 2 inch cuff.  A lot of the high vis folks you pictured were wearing more fashion oriented suits, but my favorite is still the classic traditional style.  Hope that helps.  I love you,  Dad

Thanks, Dad! He doesn’t need Google to know what’s up. Let’s take a look at his pointers.

Traditional style coat has three buttons:

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A hooked back flap?

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Oh! I get it now!

Wait, lapped seams? *tikka tikka tikka* I know these! I’ve been taught they are called “flat fell” seams. These are the kinds of seams you can probably find on the inside of your leg on your jeans! Look down! In fact, I used these on those flashy PJ’s I wore in “Breakfast-Casual” and Hairdryer Glamour Shots both on the shoulder seams and on the inside seams! If you weren’t wearing jeans and need a better idea of what I’m talking about then behold: the flat-fell/ lapped seam

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My dad mentioned his preferences for fabrics, also, which is an increasingly relevant topic in my life. (I just started my textiles classes tonight!) And he’s not kidding– he boasts a sharp collection of seersucker suits. If you aren’t literate in fabrics yet, thats okay! I probably wouldn’t know what seersucker was called if I hadn’t seen him wearing it all these years. You’ve seen it- its a lightweight fabric that is striped in white and pastel.

images-3 << I think he has at least 3 out of 5 of these colors.

I neglected to clearly acknowledge the way the seasons correlate with fabrics as it relates to suits, so this was a great point to address.

Moving on to pants, here is a great photo showing both styles my dad mentioned in his note. The left is the pleated complete with 2 inch cuffs, while the right is pleat and cuff-less.

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Even though my dad would pass up Justin’s “Suit and Tie” to listen to these suited gentlemen…

…he still knows what he’s talking about.

And you can take that to the bank!

“Breakfast-Casual” and Hairdryer Glamour Shots

I’ve been busy, busy, busy these past weeks working on projects for my first round of sewing classes at my new design school.  It was a fantastic beginning-level series that was a great refresher, and also added some new skills and techniques to my knowledge banks! In this series, we made the classic A-line skirt, pocketed PJ pants, and a collared, short-sleeved shirt. Last time I made a collared blouse was a failure of epic proportions that was anything but proportionate. This time around, I took my time and focused more, even though there were some ripped seams along the way. 

Wins: 

– used my new machine for buttons and buttonholes

– made a shirt that looks like a real live shirt!! (as opposed to the last one)

– reinforced skills and learned new ones

Notes to future self:

– use better elastic for the pants

– be more gentle with the neck reinforcements.. they look a little rumpled on the inside

– use non-interfaced side for top of the collar… whoops. thank goodness it’s unnoticeable on this project. 

THE BIG REVEAL:

For the shirt and pants, I opted to make a casual breakfast ensemble with a lightweight cotton that boasts a coral, over-easy egg print. This “breakfast cas” motif is so fashion forward and so luxurious, that it actually is featured as an editorial spread in this installment of Dorky Chick in Lipstick’s blog!! 

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Image(Caroline McGowan couture.. price upon request)Image

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To really capture the essence of that just-woke-up-looking-this-good feeling, the creative director of the shoot decided to go for the windblown look, and pulled out a hairdryer.

 

 

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You can look for this spread in next month’s Vogue!

I never said you’d find it…

😛

 

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.