Thursday, February 11, 2016

Project Updates - Turban, More SPRADA Looks, and Fun with Stretch Knits

Hey everyone!

I haven't posted in a long time, and that's because I've been extremely creatively busy!

Holiday was hectic at my store (but still tons of fun since it's a store rooted firmly in arts and crafts) and directly after that finished up, I had an order for a custom color knit turban hat, like the one I made last year!

Knit turban hat made last year in 2015.
I have started writing monthly on a blog based out of West Michigan called The Art Shake. In March, I have a post lined up about my construction method for this type of turban hat as well as a suggestion about how to go about knitting the hat itself. Should be fun!

For now, you can go ahead and read my first post on the Art Shake all about how to start to delve into the world of fashion design/creation. I post the 3rd Tuesday of every month and will be talking about fashion design techniques, principles, sewing, sketching, or even some fun fashion-related resources. It's pretty awesome and I'm excited to be a permanent writer on their blog.

I am also currently in the process of designing and sewing a new outfit for legendary drag queen, SPRADA here for a show in Chicago coming up at the end of February! One of these looks we are working on bringing to life!

Me and SPRADA worked on a webseries back in 2011 where I designed all of her outfits as she starred in an original series. You can still view all those videos here. One of my favorites in the series is when we designed a dress out of garbage bags for her to wear! (Episode #5.)

I also was able to make a dress for her later on in 2011 not related to the webseries but for yet another show. Photo below.

You can see more of what the 3D tetrahedrons look like on the shoulders in my blog post from 2011 on here!

I also need to do a proper blog post for a skirt I made and finished for myself 6 weeks ago (yikes!) I am starting to work mostly with stretch knits now but of course, there is a learning curve with all of it. This skirt turned out amazingly well, but I'll talk more about it on my actual blog post about it when it happens.

Wish me luck on finishing SPRADA's dress! Working with silky stretch knits can be daunting, but it's a challenge I think my expert-self can handle.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Retro Color Palettes Straight from 1968

And here I bring you a fun little blog post I worked on for a few days... a late 1960s color palette story!

You can thank Timehop for making me remember that a book I have on my shelf has a really cool page of color suggestions in the 1960s for dress design.

The book is "The Co-Ed Sewing Book" by Marian Ross which was apparently published in 1968. (See below image.)

It's taken a bit of a beating, and upon further inspection, it appears that my mom may have stolen it from a library when she was a kid (haha). There is evidence that there was a library log card envelope on the back page. So, thank you mom for stealing this book all those years ago so it can reside in my collection!

If you haven't had the chance to run into this book yourself, it is chock-full with beginner sewing information: from the absolute basics, like choosing colors for you and making fashion work for you, to measurements, talking about thread basics, cutting procedures, as well as seam finishes, pressing, and helping you essentially design your own handmade wardrobe.

This book is littered with super-cute illustrations like this:

Or this:

My favorite page that I took a photo of three years ago (and then saw on Timehop this past week) was of the color suggestions. If you didn't have an idea of which colors would go well together, this book basically had it's own retro color forecast in it for you. The page itself is very bland and uninspiring but I instantly could see the color palettes in my mind while I was on the train one evening.

Those color palettes were so vivid, that I took it upon myself to create a set of seven boards based on this page, incorporating the illustrations that randomly appear in the book.

Have a look and see which retro colors you love the most all put together! Perhaps it will inspire your next sewing project.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Super-Quick Viewmaster Top with New Look 6217

This post is going to be really straight forward, but I am finally getting around to making myself some much-needed tops!

This pattern was SO easy to put together it was almost insulting. Haha. You only need to cut 2 pattern pieces (front and back). I also measured and cut my own neckline bias binding because I didn't have twill tape on hand and I wanted the neckline to match.

Needless to say, I cut and sewed this pattern up in about an hour -- no joke! I took lots of breaks/lazing around in between making it so I didn't make it straight through, but it was no more than an hour and a half of sewing and that's including installing a back zipper.

I'm always at odd with myself when I make things: Should I make something that actually challenges my vast knowledge of sewing and design skills or should I make things that I will actually wear even though they're super easy? Super-easy and wearable won this time.

 Zipper open, obviously.

I could have very, very easily made the sewing pattern myself for this top but when I spotted this one: New Look 6217 online for like, $4, I couldn't say no.

It was the perfect shape I was looking for! 

This fabric is super-cool. I bought it on the same exact time I bought the Pepsi Scallop fabric for the Saint Pepsi Dress because I wanted to add enough fabric for free shipping. Hahaha. The information printed on the selvage said it was by Cotton + Steel for Fall 2014 and was apparently designed by Melody Miller. (Good job, lady!) I couldn't resist the color palette and retro nostalgia that is the Viewmaster. 

I was one of those bad-ass kids that had not only the classic hold-up-to-your-eyes Viewmaster, but I also had the projector!
I still remember the sound it made when you focused it. 

 I plan on styling this top with a long cardigan this time of year as well as a chunky scarf. I knew I needed plain ones for some reason and this is why! To wear with cute print tops!

I am also planning on maybe using this pattern for a stretch knit jersey version using my Victrola print that I made last year. I'll have to edit the pattern slightly for a stretch knit, but hey! That's why I have brown pattern paper. I might make up a muslin with leftover stretch knits and see how that goes too. You never know. But I have been looking for really artsy/psychedelic-ish printed tops (like 2 I once bought at an Urban Outfitters almost 9 years ago that I have worn to DEATH!). Making my own with fun fabric could be my solution.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Orange and Paisley New Look 6299.

I'm at a total loss with how to present my second version of Simplicity 6299 so here goes nothing....

Yep! I'm back to bad Photoshopping. Haha.

With the holiday season being around, being a retail manager, and winter in Chicago (though it hasn't been bad at all) it makes it nearly impossible to take photos of things I have made recently. So I resorted to taking photos against a blank wall and creating... this.

It's actually apparently a sketch of Chicago somewhere but I just liked the linework of it. I need to develop my perspective drawing skills.

Some of you may remember me posting this sketch deciding between 1 and 2 on my Instagram and clearly, I decided on version 1. It was a hard decision though! (And don't ask me why the sketch is more yellow versus orange, I can't figure it out either.)

One thing I've been failing to do is show photos of things on my dressform. I don't know why I don't do that, aside from the fact that I'm mad that when I had that dressform for less than a year it already broke. I have a way chintzier one that is actually still more together than this one and that's sad. I was super excited about this faux-professional form from The Shop Company, but it's really just a piece of crap. You win some and you lose some I guess?

The dress itself was ridiculously easy to construct, though in the process I realized that I have definitely fallen out of love with my previous go-to fabric is polyester poplin (which is the orange). You can see the poplin crinkling for no reason although it's been pressed to death and pre-washed.

 Here is the pattern packet again. This is the same pattern that I used for the Saint Pepsi Dress, only this time I made View D. I also cut the pattern in a size 10 versus a 12 in the Saint Pepsi Dress even though my body measurements are more like the 12. I suppose I prefer less ease?

 The neckline binding was something that I rarely do yet did it for this one because that's how it called for finishing. I'm so used to using a 2" wide facing from my years of schooling that it's hard to unlearn the habit of just making/using a facing.

Overall, a cute simple, quick-to-make dress from fabric that's been hanging around! And using a pattern I already had. Why not?! 

I do need to remind myself to NOT use woven fabrics in the future (or far less). I am more than proficient when it comes to sewing with knits, but like I said before with the facings... hard habit to break. That, and looking around online lately I can't find much of any medium weight knits with a good print. I have been drawing more lately and I definitely have been playing with more prints (some examples on my Instagram @manicpop) but I really don't want to have to buy all my fabric from Spoonflower as that will surely get costly WAY fast. 

My other go-to is but I'm either being over-picky or just lacking vision on my next projects. I'm sure it's a temporary feeling. 

Until next time....!

Monday, November 23, 2015

Serendipitous Simplicity1059 Vintage Reproduction Dress

I'm back with a new dress that I made!

Funny story: This is a dress that almost wasn't. I was cruising around the fabric store one day just picking up some invisible zippers (my go-to rarely has a large selection of invisible zippers) and both my boyfriend and I happened to find this pattern on sale at the store. I really love that pattern companies are reissuing old designs of theirs and Simplicity has always been one of my favorite pattern companies.

Here's the 60s version of the pattern packet from 1969.

I almost didn't buy the pattern as I didn't really have any plans for it: I'm the weirdo that doesn't buy fabric or patterns without a specific plan. This is probably because my mom spent hundreds of dollars on projects she never even started and fabric she never used when I was a kid. I personally don't want to have a collection of "someday" things cluttering my sewing space.

I bought the pattern anyway and I remember thinking, "Oh, too bad I can't basically make the crazy 60s-print one." I know I usually can find something similar but of course it's never the same.

Not even a few weeks later, I was at my typical fabric store in Pilsen when I walked past a bunch of the calico prints and something made me look up. I couldn't believe it. I was actually shopping WITH the Simplicity pattern, just trying to find something that could work as well as buying other fabric while I was there. I honestly hadn't planned on finding anything for this pattern!

I immediately snatched the fabric off the top shelf and compared it to the pattern packet. It was so similar to the original 60s pattern packet sketch! Almost the exact same colors and print!

I showed my favorite fabric cutter at the cutting table who is also a local fashion designer and does costume design for shows in New York City and he was in shock as well. The fabric itself was printed in 2014 based on the markings on the selvage but was seriously mimicking a 60s look.

So yeah, I ended up making a true vintage 60s dress with reproduction Simplicity1059 and fabric with an obvious 60s vibe!

We braved the cold a few days ago to take these photos. On our way home, we were in the midst of the first snowfall in Chicago! Always a magical time of year. These photos were taken downtown between Millennium Park and Grant Park. I was kinda going for a glossy fashion magazine-type city photo look and the skyline right around there reminds me of Vogue fashion ads. (See below, haha.)

Should I have been a model?! Lol.

I rarely wear this faux fur coat even though I like it tons. I guess I get nervous people will think it's real (doesn't look real at all to me) or PETA people will get mad even knowing it's faux fur, or that people on the street will think I have way more money than I have. In truth, this coat was about $15 at a "vintage" store in Wicker Park (this coat has to be early to mid 2000's) and I bought it some 4 or 5 years ago. It's actually a kid's size and you can tell it's not in the least bit high-end by the lining on the inside!

Overall, the dress wasn't hard to make at all, though it took longer than I originally anticipated. The only thing I oddly had a slight issue with was the inside neckline facing, but that could be because I didn't transfer the circle markings on said facing. I don't think it lays 100% flat still but whatever. It totally works and I can see myself making up this pattern in a more slinky synthetic material for a completely different look.

I'm also not used to wearing long sleeve dresses! With anything long sleeve, I find myself pushing up the sleeves. I'm a huge fan of sleeveless so I can add my own cardigan over anything and hence why I make lots of sleeveless. I also don't recall ever inserting elastic into any garment I've made (though I have done drawstring) so perhaps this was a slightly new learned "skill"? It was easy. I've always liked the look of dresses with the bishop sleeves but actually never have owned any! I did make the matching sash for this dress but opted to style it with a belt I had in my closet to break up all the pattern.

And now, a super artsy photo.

 That's it, kids! Have you made this dress before? Link me in the comments!

Dress: Self-made with Simplicity1059 / Reproduction of Simplicity8238 from 1969
Faux fur coat: Early-mid 2000s "vintage" in a kid's size
Belt: Thrifted
Fleece lined tights: Brooklyn Industries
Boots: Crown Vintage via DSW
Camera bag: Thrifted
Hat: Don't even remember, but bought around 8 years ago

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Lady of the Great Lake -- A Prismatic Design

Quick blog post here --

Wanted to "drop off" another one of my creative projects I've been working on. A few years ago in 2010, I got really into these designs I called "prismatic designs" inspired by weirdly enough, a coloring book by Peter Von Thenen .

I think it's funny that adult coloring books have become "all the rage" now because I've kept that Von Thenen book mostly untouched (except the ones I did when I was from around age 11-15) in my arsenal of inspirational books. Fearing no one would ever make anything remotely like it ever again, I started drawing up some of my own to color -- my absolute favorite one to date of mine which I call "The Elk".

I've recently taken to doing "mini" ones at the moment since they're arguably less time-consuming and they are, well... cuter. My latest one I drew up is only 6" by 11" (where my old ones were 11" by 14".)

So, without further ado, here she is! 

Like the rest of mine, this is watercolor pencil on bristol board, inked with Micron pen.

Currently, my process with these is doodle a bunch and wrack up a bunch of shapes I like, then draw out a "skeleton" of where I want your eyes to be drawn to. This particular skeleton had a bunch of triangle shapes. Here you can see my in-progress photo from Instagram (sorry, phone quality photo time) my overlapping of simple shapes and then deciding placement based on those shapes.

Overall, I really like how this little one turned out. I hope to do some more again soon as they're fun, relatively easy, and lots of fun to color as well. I like that this one somehow reminded me of the fountain outside of the Art Institute, which is completely unintentional. I really enjoy the gardens there and occasionally will find myself outside of the fountain called "Fountain of the Great Lakes". So I guess she is my lady!

Monday, October 19, 2015

(Saint) Pepsi Dress with New Look 6299

I know it's been a long time, but I have FINALLY gotten around to taking photos of a dress I made literally like, 6 weeks ago.

I initially had another project up before this one, but for some reason, I couldn't NOT cut this dress first.

The dress is New Look 6299 by Simplicity and I had found this amazing and crazy Pepsi scallop print from that I seriously could NOT stop thinking about. Yes, I could have made this sewing pattern on my own very quickly (and basically have with my Tanith Arrow Dress) but I'm still working on completely refining my pattern blocks.

Plus, these days I'm lazy, I don't have a ton of time, and when I get a cool combo in my head I just need to go for it and not waste the time I have to work on things.

From far away, there is no indication that this dress has "Pepsi" printed all over it. And that's what I love about it.

Upon closer inspection, you notice it has a retro-ish "Pepsi" in the middle of the scallops.

I really have no idea why would have such an oddball print in their arsenal, but I am glad as hell that they did!

To me, this dress screams 1960's retro though I'm not sure if that was their intention. It's a new pattern but I thought this retro-inspired fabric was perfect for it.

I also wracked my brain for a perfect place to take photos of this dress (Come on! Had to be somewhere colorful!) and I ended up remembering this super cool retro-looking diner down Harlem in Forest Park, IL. The place is called Parky's and although I have never been there, we stopped to use it as our photo location but not before buying some lemon Italian ice from them.

Italian ice reminds me of my childhood: I spent from age 0 to 12 in the New Haven, CT area and being from a predominately Italian neighborhood (I am mostly Italian myself) lemon ice was my favorite thing to get from the ice cream truck.

Promotional photo for my upcoming album.... not. 

I seriously am not a soda drinker at all -- you will never see me buy a 2 liter! I'd rather drink tea. But I DO happen to like musician Saint Pepsi a ton. That's a good enough reason to have a Pepsi dress right?! I also happen to be a huge fan of pop art (haha) and consumer-product related clothing/consumption commentary as a whole (still kicking myself of 12 years ago for not buying a white tee with the red "thank you thank you thank you" printed on it like a plastic grocery bag.)

So Saint Pepsi (now renamed Skylar Spence due to Pepsi threatening him with a lawsuit) is actually coming to Chicago in a week or two. I've been jamming to his tunes for over a year now and it's some seriously good stuff. If you're into chillwave music or even vaporwave plus a mash up of obscure 70s dance and even some slick 80s danceable tracks, the sound is purely nostalgic and familiar but like nothing you have ever heard before.

He's on the same record as another old favorite of mine, Toro y Moi. Now I know he's rocketed to fame and fortune a few years ago, but I saw him open for Ruby Suns at Schuba's in 2010 when he was a virtual nobody and not long after all his equipment was stolen in Brooklyn, NY. He totally made that show for me. Saint Pepsi is also on the same label as Toro y Moi -- Carpark Records -- and it's no wonder why.

This one (Cherry Pepsi) is super 80s reminiscent, but also check out 70s disco and Mario Kart (yes) influenced "Better".

And that's the story behind this fun new dress!

I'm also working on some new art pieces (one is a 6" by 9" smaller-version prismatic design), planning/concepting for more fabric repeats, and sketching in general. So I've been doing a little bit of everything. For the most up-to-date creative pieces, follow me on Instagram, @manicpop 

Dress - Manic Pop-made, via New Look 6922
Pepsi fabric from
Boots (bought in 2013) -Crown Vintage Apple Boot 
Glasses - Seraphin Kipling bought in 2011 from my old eyeglasses place in Wicker Park.
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