Wednesday, April 9, 2014

1969 Shirtdress

This post is in collaboration with NYC-based artist and friend of mine, Jane Chu!

Jane and I worked at the same store long ago and I have always been a fan of her artwork. I'm so excited to have her collaborate with me on the blog!

Artwork by Jane Chu

This is a dress I finished earlier last month around the 19th but haven't gotten around to posting it. My life has been changing a bit, but all very positive changes getting me going in the directions I have been wanting to go!

 This dress was based as exactly as I could to the pattern that perhaps once came with the 1969 Simplicity sewing book. Mine didn't come with any patterns, but it does have a nice diagram of the patterns.

I was most of the way through making it when I realized though that if you have a cuff on your sleeve you need an extra opening piece - like a placket or a binding. Duh. I took the easy way out and created a binding from two 1 1/4" strips of fabric.

 Cuff binding open.

Cuff closed.

Being dorky with the book I got the pattern idea from. 

For this design, I took the blocks that were edited a while ago for much closer to my exact size. I kept defaulting to using the sewing blocks from school, but they're about a size too big even for my dressform! I still think I can decrease the bust size a teeny bit, but I'm going to eventually go back in and tool around with the block sizing for my sample sizes which is essentially exactly my size. 

 I really love this fabric! It's a thicker polyester - it seriously has a feel of 70s poly but perhaps a higher quality version of that era type of fabric. I did have to be careful with my binding due to the thickness and even broke at least one needle.

The print on the fabric actually corresponds to the crosswise grain. So technically, this dress is cut incorrectly, but I knew going into it that it would be based on the print. I just couldn't resist placing the heavy print at the bottom and lighter print at the top! It was the perfect shirtdress print for me. 

 Collar detail.

Even the zipper came out great!

This dress sewed together almost too easily. I would have loved to put pockets into it, but I tried something new for me by having the zipper on both bodice and skirt potion of the dress. I'm usually a center back zip sorta person but this may have changed me a little. 

I have one more really fun blog collaboration coming up! 

I designed a dress to go with a hat by the lovely Tanith of Tanith Rowan Designs. I've been a little behind due to my work trip to Seattle which was amazing as well as settling into the new job, but I am hoping to have some fun photos up by next weekend!

After that, Manic Pop may go through a few changes (but fun ones) as I focus a little more on random creative projects, inspiration, oddities, and of course, more original pieces I'm working on as I design them.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Revisiting the Petra Dress and PDF Pattern

I've personally halted a bit on the production of the PDF pattern.

This is not something I wanted to have happen, but I have to be honest with myself in the fact that I am not stellar at digital design (although not awful). And come on! You knew I was an analog girl along, didn't you?

So let's revisit the Petra Dress -

I've actually worn this dress a bunch of times. I've been layering it with these fantastic fleece lined tights from Brooklyn Industries (looks like they are no longer on the website) as well as a long sleeve underneath, cardigan over it. 

On the sample here, I had to cut the center front panel off-grain since I miscalculated my yardage when I bought it. Technically, this dress takes about 3 yards to layout correctly in the navy blue, not accounting for the contrasts. I also made the pockets deeper on my PDF pattern since these are smaller than they should be. 

Onto the PDF pattern:

 I'm stalling on it because I think it looks messy. I think I can rectify the situation by deleting certain lines that are supposed to be one, clean, non-graded line but that's going to take some time. The line on the left pattern piece should be one clean line. Nesting the pattern is a little hairy, but overall the pieces look correctly graded to my eye. 

Another issue is the notches. I see how Burda does theirs, but I'm a stickler for them all matching correctly to where they should match to. 

This is a sample of the center front panel. This one actually doesn't look so bad!

I even got as far as doing a cutting layout. This one is for the cut 1 pieces. I have also started typing up instructions, pattern pieces, fabric requirements, etc. 

However, I currently plan on finishing it at a much later, unknown date. 

I just think it's messy and I don't want to release something in the world with my name attached to it that I am less than satisfied with at the moment. I think it will eventually be released, but I need a bit of time away from it. 

I've known for a long time that I am not a technical designer and yet attempted it anyway. I think it was a great exercise in pattern grading which I am super-grateful for and will use for any custom work I need to do in the future. Pattern grading was something I wanted to be proficient at for a long time and it's surprisingly easier than I thought it would be. 

I'm really enjoying the creative process of concept to creation - having an idea and then executing it well in real life. There is lots more pattern making I want to do which is one of my favorite aspects of fashion design. I figure if I love one process so much, why not continue on with it? 

After much thought, I (for now) decided that fashion design is something I don't want to work full-time in. Side projects like webseries, costume design, custom orders, etc? Yes please! Having my own PDF line? Not so much. Not right now anyway. 

2014 so far has been about trying things I always wanted to and finding out which directions in life I really want to go. I think you should never stop trying, especially when you're a creative. However, if you love something, stick with it! It probably means you're good at it. 

This is also why after almost 2 months of being unemployed,  I am returning to retail as an assistant manager. The company I am working for now seems to be exactly what I want, in the neighborhood I want, with like-minded creatives. 

I am beyond excited to be back in the world of retail. I just belong there! I don't start until the 31st, but will be training for a few days in Seattle. I've never been west of Chicago (I'm from Connecticut, you guys!) so this should be an all-new fun adventure. Maybe I'll be able to share some photos. 

There are so many exciting changes going on and what looked like a dismal start to 2014 is certainly looking up. Sometimes when things seem like they're falling apart, they truly are falling into place.  Struggle is only a sign of personal growth.

I'm really into collaborating with people lately on the blog. Look for an upcoming post of a 60s-inspired hat by Australian milliner Tanith Rowan of Tanith Rowan Designs as well as a new dress I completed featuring illustrations by New York-based artist and friend Jane Chu.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

A Springy Skirt

Finished something new!
 I'm so over this crazy winter that's been going on here in Chicago, so I needed to make something bright or myself.

 This skirt was based on a photo I saw somewhere on the internet (that for some reason I can no longer find) but the original version was super-plain, dark purple and black/grey herringbone. Of course, I put my own crazy bright color spin on it.

I pulled in the bottom hem an inch on each seam (a total of 4 inches) for a slight bit more of a pencil look, but on me I think the skirt can be pulled in just a teeny bit more. I also made my own covered buttons using the yellow overhang material.

I'm really not sure how I feel about the back. I think in the next version of it, it might be a good idea to NOT have the overhang in the back. You might be able to see that it's a completely separate piece though I did tack it down where the buttons are as well as on the corners of the back piece. 

 I had to have this house print! I found it at Joann Fabrics in the quilting section. For some reason, I didn't look in their quilting fabrics for the longest time but there are in fact a bunch of really cute novelty prints. 

 This was also the first time I have done a kick pleat in the back of a skirt! It was surprisingly easy. I worked my way through it from a tutorial on Threads.

Overall, a pretty good skirt!I also shouldn't be wearing it with these tights for the fact that the cotton fabric clings soooo much to it!  There are as usual a few tweaks I would make on the skirt design in general, but that is common with any sample or first-run.

I will be listing this for custom ordering soon on Etsy!

Saturday, February 15, 2014

PDF Update and More

Hey everyone! Just a little update.
(Just in case you wanted to know what I look like today)

Being unemployed has been.... interesting to say the least. This is the longest I have gone without really much to do at all since junior year summer break. Yes, my mom made me go to college starting in July 2004 versus starting in the fall quarter which started in October! 

I've been working hard on the PDF pattern and I'm excited to say that it's nearing completion! I give it about another week or two before it gets out to testers. I'm still a little unhappy with how the pieces are nested in some areas, but I should be able to correct it. My hope is that people aren't too harsh on me since I have never done this before! But I would love to make more PDFs in the future. 

It's been a real learning curve for me. I'm using Illustrator to do all the grading, importing to computer. I don't think I could have done it at all without the help of my boyfriend, Max. He's got all the best shortcuts and ideas of how to make it all happen. We kind of developed seemingly our own computer grading method of slash and spread. Maybe it's more difficult, but I don't really trust just moving points X and Y. The graded pieces LOOK correct to me, albeit a bit small in between sizes. 

I'm using a 1" grade rule, but 1 1/2" between size 8 and 10. I am looking to do larger sizes in the patterns for the next one (and maybe offering this one up to a 14 eventually) but I didn't want to bite off more than I could chew with this one. Grading was already pretty tedious. I miss the days where we threw the pattern into the computer at school, applied the grade rules to the points, and then BAM. Graded. That software is so beyond expensive.

Arguably, I could have this PDF done by now, but since I am unemployed I have been taking a bit of time to look for jobs. I've had a few interviews already - one for a part time sales associate position until something full time comes along. 

The kicker on that one is that dude was sooooo close to hiring me because he liked me so much and then oddly, the big reason why I didn't get a call back was because this store was concerned about my nose piercing and their "brand image". I was asked if I would consider taking it out for this job and I firmly stated no. I mean, I get it - it was a luxury brand (that I never would have applied to if I knew which brand it was!) but no job has ever asked me to take it out. I've had it for 7 years now. I forget about it most days!

It's a gold Indian nose pin in the shape of a flower. Hard to see due to exposure, but how often do you notice it in many of my photos anyway?

My friend was funny about it all, "What, did you apply for a job in 1954?! What the hell!?" 

I'm definitely not mad about not getting that job. 

I guess in a way, it's annoying at times to be a creative person. You have your own ideas about how you should look, how you present yourself, what you want. I have had many people say to me they "wish they were creative", but sometimes it's really a hindrance overall. For instance, when I was employed much of my free time was spent on my art versus going out with friends on days off. And about 90% of my best friends live across the country so that wasn't so bad. 

Being creative means you can't really turn it all off - it's more than just a "hobby" or something to do. I don't feel like myself if I am restricted in certain ways for too long. You have neurotic things about you, like a song constantly stuck in your head 24/7 and people just don't "get" it. My brain is always going and it's hard to turn it all off. You feel alienated at times because everyone else likes things that are far more mainstream, and you get berated for "trying to be different" by liking unusual things when really, you're just staying true to yourself. I used to work in Wicker Park and over there? I was actually quite tame, comparatively.

What I have enjoyed about being unemployed is constant freedom of creative expression, time to work on what I considered my "work" all along - Manic Pop. But like anyone else, I do need to pay the bills. So I water myself down a bit to meld to the rest of the world. It doesn't work so well, but hey.

Other than that, I am excited that one of my best friends in the entire world will be driving up from Knoxville, TN in a little over a week. I've known him for about 10 years and he's one of 3 friends who 100% "get" me. I like people quite a bit in general, but only about 3 have I really, really bonded with. Should be fun to get out of the house a bit, play some board games, and just have some friend-time before I get this PDF and hopefully pending new job on the road (whenever that happens). It's been nice to hibernate this winter!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Guest Post: Where 1973 Goes For Groceries

First of the guest posts happening here while I am working diligently on the PDF. (It's coming along pretty well, thanks!)

I want to kindly introduce you to a great and long-time friend of mine, Dave, who is slated to become a semi-regular contributor to Manic Pop! It's always been my vision to have a lot more music features on here; especially anything 60s/70s or anything that has those stylistic elements. As a musician and former drummer of Detroit band, The Singles, Dave knows more than a thing or two about great music. Initially we bonded over our mutual love for Canadian band, Sloan. Over the past 10 years he has led me to some of my now-favorite music - Saint Etienne, Belle and Sebastian, and Bobby Emmett to name a few.

We also share an appreciation for things stuck in time, such as this grocery store which was found not too long ago.

Enjoy his first post!


Why would you not want to fill your mouth with what's behind this fa├žade?

In present times you would be hard-pressed to find a retail outlet that has not been newly constructed or recently remodeled. Style has been replaced by sparse simplicity, bare functionality.  Sure, it's a completely superficial, aesthetic argument: most folks I know don't really care about the surroundings of their sustenance purchase. Coke tastes like Coke* whether it comes from a shelf the color of your parents first washing machine or from an efficient pile stacked up to look like a pair of beach chairs.

I tend to value form over function.  In a rare one-two punch this ridiculous grocery store, nestled in a mostly defunct strip mall and frequented by an increasingly aging clientele, delivers both.

*Glass bottle/"Mexican" Coke vs. cans is another blog altogether.

                                               This way to frozen pizza and blown minds!

                                                                      Just in case.

                                    It's 1973, you need something to put your cotto salami on.

                                                I'd like to meet this alleged Green Grocer.

                                                             I hear he's got the goods.

                                                                    Which came first?

                                                                        ...or the?

                                                                       Say it loud!

                                           i.e. cotto salami, olive loaf, pressed corned beef...

       Gherkins 'til you're hurtin', dill 'til you've had your fill...and scented sink stoppers.  An idea so bad it must have been born in 1970's middle America!

                                     This sign knew it was having it's picture taken so it said...

  The discount furnace filters which now occupy the former floral dept. were too sad of a sight to  actually photograph. 

I seem to have found the most recent update in the store: They put in a fine literature section circa '85.

I assume that you're wanting to drop whatever it is you're doing and run down the street to see how out of control your neighborhood Ingles is. Well, kids, unless you live in the Mid-South* you're out of luck.  If you reside outside of the Knoxville, TN area, you're also out of luck. This seems to be the only Ingles store within the entire chain that has not received an unneeded facelift over the years.  It's a weird hold out of stylistically superior times gone by.  A land of low key lowercase. A mustard colored beacon in a silver plastic sea.

If this place closes, I'll probably just stop eating.

*A region I was not aware of until I was knee deep in it.

Of minimal import: Every time I set foot in that place this song, without fail, achieves earworm status.

The Monkees-She Hangs Out


Sunday, February 2, 2014

Prismatic Dress! New for Custom Ordering.

Finally, my Prismatic Dress is done! 

This one is available for custom sizing and ordering in the Etsy shop for $125. This sample size 2 that I'm trying on is available immediately!

It will comfortably fit a bust size 33"-34", waist size 26" and up to 36" hips due to the full skirt. More sizing details on the Etsy page.

This dress came about because I wanted to incorporate more of my prismatic design work that I've been doing more of again lately into fashion design. So I thought, why not cut out some shapes and make a design on a dress? Each piece was hand-drawn by me and then carefully cut out and arranged.

I decided I wanted a more frayed look around the edges so that it wouldn't be so in-your-face contrast-y. I wanted a more textured look. I am very familiar with how appliques are normally sewn on - set stitch length to 0 and use a very close zig-zag stitch. Not the look I was going for.

You also could perhaps interface the back of all of the pieces to get a cleaner edge on cut pieces, but I haven't tried it.

Detail of bodice. 

Did I mention this dress has inside side seam pockets?!

Now, I also did some clever dart work to hide them. I didn't want the darts to interfere with the bodice at all, so I made center front darts buy shifting them, making a cut out dart. You can see it a little  better on the yellow inside lining piece here.

Cool, right? This might be my favorite design ever!

When ordering, you can choose up to 5 different colors- 1dress color, 4 colors for bodice shapes, one which will be the hem color.

I'll still be posting/making samples for custom orders but like I've been saying...PDF time! I'm also going to have some guest posts going on in the near-future so don't really expect to hear from me until I am getting the pattern out to testers!

Since independent designing is now my full-time job, you can expect the pattern to get out to testers by mid-March! By contrast, the original pattern-tester date was June-ish. If all goes well, we could see the PDF out fully by June! How exciting!
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