Thursday, March 31, 2011


This whole week has been full of Up's and Down's.  But it's Thursday so let's focus on just the good things that happened.  I never want my blog to be filled with criticism and anger.  I want it to be positive and inspiring and as me and some new friends discussed this week to "NOT SUCK" (this just pertains to everything in life).

1. Trinkets from best friends.  This ring pretty much sums up me and my best friends.  We went on a trip just the three of us to Florida about a year after they graduated (I graduated the year before).  While we were there we wanted something to commemorate our trip and us.  We kept seeing this "make your own initial ring!" stands so that's what we did.  We couldn't think of anything inventive, our initials were all weird EC, HK, IL and when we are stuck or just anything the first thing thing to escape our lips is "ehh" so there it is.  I still say it all the time and every time I do no matter what it is towards it makes me smile on the inside knowing my best friends out there in the world are doing the same damn thing.

2. GORP - one of my favorite little healthy snacks.  Right now is the best because it's Easter gorp so I can use little chocolate robin's egg's amidst my normal dried cranberries, dried blueberries and dark chocolate covered almonds.

3. Playing with Lens filters.  I got this cute little cell phone filter at the Reduction sale of a heart!  I'm still learning a lot about camera lens but this was fun way to play around and get some practice before I buy anything big for my DSLR.

4. Machine Embroidery.  You can get the most exquisite designs and complex themes together.  It is just amazing to watch these machines truck along.  Very hypnotic and mesmerizing with that whirling noise and the needle moving up and down so quickly.

Photo from Flickr

5.Classical Music.  It must be one of the most soothing things to listen to for me.  It can also make me crazy sometimes since I used to play Violin and Piano avidly growing up.  If you think Air guitar is weird you have never seen me do Air Violin or Desk Piano.  My current favorite thing to do is leave it running Pandora to a "Franz Liszt" Channel, mostly piano but also some orchestral concerto's. To be honest even though I played mostly classical music I am terrible with names and sight reading.  I would just hear things and try to replay them instead of just reading the music.  I'm trying to correct this by educating my self in music a little more.

What things are you loving this week?  If you haven't noticed yet mine are pretty random and very few have to do with fashion or sewing.  But the things that we love are what inspire us in our lives and the rest of our work is how I believe.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

A look at Draping

 Draping is one of my passions.  Not not as in valances in your window but as in a way to construct and sculpt a pattern for garments.  I was working on some dresses for the Band that is playing at our wedding coming up.  It's not the most original idea but it will be cute and a style that will fit both ladies.  It is 1950's inspired with a halter neckline and lapels.

The trick is that one lady is stick thin whilst the other is your more average day American woman in size.  Both have this gorgeous pale skin.  I chose to make the dresses out of a dark green stretch cotton Sateen.

Well onto the Drapery! Remember this isn't the most inventive but it will show you the basics of how I work.
 First you have the blank canvas, one of my mannequins (she's not the best one but don't tell her that).

 I always like to start with the waist and bodice when doing a full dress.  Since this is also a balanced pattern I only need to work on half the form.  As my friends Johnny says "Use your Imagination!" to view it as a whole dress.
Two key things here, the straight grain of the fabric is parallel to the center front and I mark that straight grain (which you can't see the chalk in this picture but you will later).  Yes I know it has wrinkles but that will be resolved later in fittings with actual stretch fabric (similar to the final fabric) on the person.  Also this is just the beginning.  I always pin the grain to the center front first, then I gently work my way to the side seam to pin it.  This is one of the few times where it is ok to pin directly to the mannequin because it is just the beginning and you have no other fabric to pin it to. One of the Fundamentals to draping is once you get far enough along nothing is actually pinned to the mannequin itself b/c you have draped and fitted the fabric in a way where it holds itself naturally to the shape just as the clothes naturally hangs on your body.  Seriously you wouldn't pin something to your skin to wear it would you? (don't answer that if you are into those fetish things).

With the bodice I am now working on the upper section to cover the breast and be the foundation for the lapels.  I am on purpose working with this on the bias so that the lapels will have a straight grain to be sewn onto giving them more strength and foundation.  I always use a large piece of muslin to begin and cut is away and re-use what's left as long as I can before it's too small or the grain is off.  When I laid this down I drew over the muslin and then cut leaving  some extras as seam allowance and room to drape or change as I feel fit.

When I am satisfied I clip off the excess muslin and pin the breast dart for shape and where the seams meet I fold the fabric under and pin it in the same direction that stitches would be as if sewing it.  This helps me to visualize where the true seam will be on the pattern and easier when I need to make my final markings.

Next I am working on my lapel collar.  I find the easiest way is to fold over my seam allowance and just lay the fabric on top.  Then I draw what I want the lapels to look like.  Even though I am doing a split lapel I am drawing them together so I have a better Idea of the positioning and size.  You can faintly see my chalk below.

I take it off and cut this exactly in the shape I'd like with no seam allowance because I do not want to bulk up an unnecessary thing at this stage.  Later when I get into the final pattern pieces I will make a more refined Muslin collar to fit.

I fit the the lapels into the collar to make my judgement on the size and position and they look good for now.  Once again something I will probably mess around and change when I do the in person fittings.  Once again I pin the seams back just like I would for sewing.

Taking a step back is important to reflect on what you are doing in the process.  When you work too closely to the fabric you can easily loose site of your concept and goal.

Just a little shameless promotion that I always use one of my own Felted Pincushion rings when I am working.
I sell them on Etsy at Sew to Speak and recently Wholly Craft!

I draped the back, it was pretty simple.  I still want to keep the straight grain on the center back the same as I did on the center front.  Also a straight grain seam is the easiest place to install a zipper for a dress.  It will lessen the puckering and pull that might occur on a side seam zipper that high up on the bodice.  The back is a simple Halter tie in a bow.

This is the first skirt variation that the Skinnier singer requested.  I will need to measure her knee length and plan on making it slightly Tulip (flare) at the bottom.

Below is the second skirt variation for the more average sized singer.  It has a bit of tulle underneath to give it the 1950's fullness. I have already decided to change this from a gathered skirt into a more streamlined circle skirt version.

The Muslin after I made my final markings before I put it into paper and sew a full body first draft from new muslin.  I usually use a black chalk but to make it a little easier I decided to use a Pink Marker for you.
You can see the breast dart and how the top overlaps the center front.  That is for modesty which depending on the girls may cross over more for more modest or less to be more revealing.  It would be a pretty simple adjustment and shift overall.

I hope this Step to Step of my process in draping was of interest.  I'll do my best to recording taking the muslin and putting it back into paper for you next week!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Hats of Fancy

I feel a bit like a thief!  Majority of these photos are from Style Rookie, whom today has an incredibly delightful and open post about what it was like to sit next to Anna Wintour in a fashion show and being introspective on herself.  

Anyways that is not what my post is about.  Mine is actually pretty asinine in comparison but these are hats that I fell in love with from her blog.  I wish I had more reasons to wear cooky hats.  I have one little bow hat that I bring out once in a while to wear mismatched with a t-shirt and converse. Here is me and the hat on New Year's Eve on my crappy camera phone.
Now onto the gorgeous hats!
I think this one is layers of silk organza.  It is such a quietly dramatic piece, you really need to visualize the size of the hat when it is on a person crown to get the full effect.  It reminds me so much of this dress I spied while looking at wedding dress alternatives and bridesmaid options at Modcloth.

This hat reminds me of a the fish bones I find on the beach when we go to our friend's lake  house in Virginia.  Not at all disgusting but fascinating.  It looks like woven wood makes up this piece.  I wish I had another angle so I could see how it fastens to the head.

To me it looks like basket woven feathers.  So light and airy but at the same time it holds an uncanny feeling of density especially with the lopsided positioning on the head.

These two above and below are some of my favorites.  Back in college I would have dreams when I was double focusing in fashion and sculpture of making hats just like these for my future fashion shows.  I still dream about trying to create the bottom version in a mask form for some Halloween.

This was another hat that you just needed to see the entire ensemble to understand it's scale to the body which makes it that much more fantastic.  Not to mention that is one breathtaking dress!  If offered that dress i would wear it in an instant for my wedding.  But I'll just keep dreaming (ha).

More woven wooden wonders

All of Style Rookie's Photo's were from the "Accent on Fashion" exhibit in Antwerp.  
You can see her post here.

This is hat that is actually attainable through the BHLDN site.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Martha Stewart's Encyclopedia of Sewing & Fabric Crafts - Book Review

With the closing of two large Border's stores here in Columbus I was finally able to justify getting myself this book, Martha Stewart's Encyclopedia of Sewing & Fabric Crafts: Basic Techniques for Sewing, Applique, Embroidery, Quilting, Dyeing, and Printing, plus 150 Inspired Projects from A to Z.  That is one long title.

I'm not the kind of person to instantly think oh it's Martha so it's perfect.  I like to question the real quality of things and not just take a brand for granted.  It can also be very difficult for me to read through these basic sewing books because I've read so many of them and I teach it at CCAD so I just want to skip the hand sewing basics and machine basic descriptions.  But for those that are newer to sewing perhaps those are just the things you need.  Without Further ado my no holds barred assessment of Martha's long winded titled book.
For starters this is a hefty book.  It is 400 pages with maybe only 150 of that being sewing pertinent.  The rest of the book is focused on projects. Projects that it doesn't get into full details in the book but it does on the CD ROM that comes with it.  I didn't find that very helpful at all.  What if I set myself up to go to a quiet sewing retreat at the Hocking hills with this book in tow and find I can't do a single thing because more then half the patterns are on a disc?  for the first few projects it gives you some detailed instructions but as you move further on it just glances over the projects and shows you pretty pictures of the finished pieces.  Also annoying is all the photos from the sewing basics/examples are for all the exactly same projects so I feel like I got ripped off on new content when I go through the projects.

For example when it describes applique and all the different hand and machine variations they have these Gingko leaves and then these teardrop shaped applique examples.  Then further in the book it get's to home goods and those familiar teardrops are shown once again on a duvet cover project with nearly the same photos and no real instructions in the book.  I don't feel like it even referenced back very well to the applique section of the book.

For me this book just didn't bring anything that innovative or new.  If you are completely new to sewing then this is a nice guide and beginning but I think there are better books out there.  The good thing is that nothing is confusing in the way she describes the different techniques and components.  The CD-rom included has all the patterns so you don't have to deal with a lump of folded paper at the back of the book.  The one thing I did really enjoy was reading her summarized explanation of fabrics and different thread types at the front of the book.

I wouldn't say I regret buying this book because her patterns are pretty timeless and good templates for me to elaborate on for my own uses.  Still to me there are more minus' then plus',  I guess in the end I just feel cheated that there wasn't more original content between the demo photos and the project photos.

Thursday, March 24, 2011


This has been a random week.  I've been doing a lot of wedding related things and catching up on some blogging from previous trips.  Also my Tax Return came in and I have been less then frugal with it.  Not that I've gotten anything super expensive but all these little things are adding up.  I must be mindful since I have the wedding coming up.  At least I can write off most of these things as wedding related items since they are.

Now onto The Things I Love!

1. My new Alison Rose "Love your Librarian" T-shirt.  It is printed on ultra soft tri-blend t-shirt.  I probably buy at least 2-3 t-shirts from her a year.  One for myself and then a few for the boy.  She just has these amazing prints that are simple and not heavily printed the way most Threadless shirts are. 

2.  Looking up names in an old name book!  In a small section of my library I found all these old name books that are really fun.  Sometimes you get really out of date names or you find alternative ways to spell your own name.  Personally I prefer my name with an "H" because Ester is just a man made chemical compound for artificial flavoring.  I found out in another book that my name is also related to "Ishtar" a goddess of the moon and fertiility. 

From divingrocks on flickr
3.Lightening!  I love lightening and this week as been especially good with the storms and tornado warnings to watch late at night.  I remember in college in Chicago there was this top floor studio in the downtown dorms on the corner of State Street and Randolph Street.  It had large glass windows and me and my mates would go there every time there was an imminent storm to watch the carnage unveil across the lake in thunder and lightening.  I feel like it is really a divine thing to watch, such a force of nature crashing down into our world, regardless of where it lands.

4. Gorgeous and Gaudy hotel interiors.  It makes me feel like I am stepping through the walking glass! I might never want to decorate my home this way but it really is fun to stay in someplace so over the top that it is visually assaulting your eyes with dazzling glass and sparkles.  Even when it is kept classy but over done with all white laser cut curtains and chandeliers.  These were from my trip to Vegas in one of the City Center Hotel lobbies.

5. Taking time to smell the roses (or just any flowers).  Amidst all the hubbub of life, urban developments and conventions there is always some solitary beautiful bloom that I find.  I take a moment to appreciate it's singular beauty and be thankful we are not in some Neo-Tokyo Animal world where natural doesn't exist anymore.  We are in an age where we can choose to live harmoniously with our natural surroundings and not feel the need to destroy and develop over it all.  This bloom I found in a single bud vase inside the massive Consumer Electronic Symposium.  I stopped and had to take a picture of it's perfect opposition to where it was.

What things are you loving this week?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Window Gazing

Whilst in Vegas there were quite a few choice windows that I could help put gafaw at and snap some photos.  Window displays always have had a place in my heart.  From my teens working in multitudes of clothing retail spaces I was always happiest to work on display teams and dressing the mannequins.  There are just so many ways to visualize a look and it's like art.  You want to invoke the viewer with some sort of feeling that will make them curious and want to enter the store to buy or admire.

First you have the fronts of the exteriors there are some ridiculously bling oriented store fronts but what else can you do when you are competing in such a Neon city?

I really enjoyed this toned down approach from Prada.  Simply making a pattern of all their different in season bags.  This looks not that big in the photos but in person it was huge.  Think of this covering a 3 story building and then you can understand the scale of this display.
Here is an up-close look at the Store front display
Miu Miu was another store front that I really enjoyed the simplicity.  The pattern was frosted glass damask pattern, very elegant and timeless.
Up close of the patterned glass

I just thought this was an excellent picture for the brand, Fendi.  The older gentleman in a suit standing to the side of the insignia stone work looking very stoic

This had of been one of my least favorite store fronts but favorite Window Displays!  The exterior was ultra modern with laser cut metal pattern and exaggerated lighting.

In the windows however was a mix of delicate and simple displays as well as over the board visual displays.
This clean set up of these peep-toe pumps was done very well.  Simple chosen props and the shoes displayed precariously showing off their best features such as the plaque on the back of the heel.
This Display below I could of stared at for hours in awe.  Each one of those boxes was printed with either logos or patterns from different Louis Vuitton bags.  They were all paper and delicately stacked all around.  I would die to just have one of the suitcase printed ones as a hanging lamp in the house.

This was yet another eyesore of too much glitz.  I don't mind all the glass but the mirrors all over the place was just looking tacky.

This display would of been so beautiful on just a plain white or black pedestal instead of this mirrored mess.  I feel that mirrors should only be used in a display to enhance the object so that you can see all sides of it or if the display needs a stronger depth of field.

These well dressed mannequins were probably the most comforting to look at.  Even though it doesn't do anything to promote branding it tells you exactly what they sell, elegant well draped garments.  There is also enough empty space behind them that the rest of the store is not distracting but you can see it is open, well organized and thus well thought.

Nothing special about these, just some crazy shoes that I drooled over, even though I would never wear them myself.  The platforms on them were just so interesting.  Maybe if they made a monotone color I would rock it, also if I could ever afford a shoe starting at over a thousand.

Another mirrored mess of a display.  It was just confusing, not classy at all.  The items in the display were also a mishmash.  I understand this was supposed to be a boudoir type set up but there was no common theme except that they were all accessories to go with a garment.
 This if It had been the only focus of the display would of done very nicely.  The soft pink of the fur hinting at the pink in the moonstone on the bags.  It allows you to see all the sides of the bag as well inviting you to investigate and makes you curious to want to hold or touch it.

Did you enjoy my critique of the window displays in Vegas?  What are your thoughts for good window displays that make you want to enter a store?