Monday, July 30, 2007

New design crush

Right now I am all crushed out on the work of fellow Brooklyn girl Aimee Wilder. I first heard about her on DesignSponge, and since I usually trust Grace's judgement I figured her recommendation would be up to snuff. Not only does Aimee have some seriously mad skills at Illustrator her prints are whimsical and funny and would look awesome either covering the hideous beigeness that is my bathroom or else gracing some of my jersey wrap Heidi dresses.Hmm. I better email her and see what she says. They are spot-on perfect blends of modern colors and classic elements. I want all of them in my house, somehow. Check out this hysterical barber's pole with hearts. , I mean, come ON! Can't you see that on a sweatshirt at Fred Flare?
Some of her more traditional prints include fleur de lys (my favorite) and funeral urns in dayglo colors, and patterns of hearts, clovers, and other poker staples in super-saturated jewel tones.

I'm thinking that she is going to be a major force in the design world.
In the meantime, you should check her out here and perhaps tell her how great she is too!

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Joy of Wrap Dresses, Part 1

You might have noticed that I am a wrap dress fiend. I have tons of them and can't stop designing them and am always looking for more.

Not only are they cute as heck,

1) they look good on everybody
2) they give you a waist if you have none,
3) they hide tummy rolls
4) they hide big hips
5) they hide big thighs
6) did i mention that they look good on everybody?

Popping on a wrap dress has the same effect as doing 100 situps a day for two weeks - your waist ends up looking about 3 times smaller. Who wouldn't want that, seriously?

As a hippy girl with a small waist who cannot get away with most of the styles that are popular right now, I love that you can throw on a wrap dress and go, and not have to worry about how you're going to look, because they always look great. That's the secret to Diane Von Furstenburg's success - ease!
A wrap dress was actually the first thing I designed lo these many years ago (okay four years ago) and I've been experimenting with them ever since.
I like to do the whole girl routine every morning but it does not extend to having to futz with my clothing all day long, tugging and pulling and adjusting and sucking in my gut. Luckily, wrap dresses mean that you don't have to do any of that.
If you like your chest, front-wrap dresses are great for showing it off, and if you prefer your back, there's back-wrap dresses for that too!

My latest wrap dress obsessions are this pattern that I found on Ebay, which is kind of like a combination of my Nefe dress and my Molly Dress. Not only is it a "Hollywood" pattern, check out the awesome rickrack and the big red and white bow! Can you believe the tiny waist in that illustration? .If my waist were that small I would snap in half! I think I will take some of the fabric I use for the Waitress Dress and make myself one of these. I might make the skirt fuller for that whole 1950's look I love so much, and maybe add some gussets for swishiness! I am crazy about gussets! I am also crazy about how wierd the sizing in old patterns is - this pattern from the 1930's is a size 18, which is a 36 bust and 39 waist. You know what size that is now? A SIZE 6!

Actually now that I think about it, that pattern looks an awful lot like these red polka-dot wrap dresses I made for the Pile of Craft show in Baltimore last month. Hmm....... Maybe the folks at Simplicity patterns traveled into the future, saw my dress at the craft fair, and then raced back to 1939 and made a pattern out of it?
Yeah, maybe not. But who's to say? :)

My other big crush right now is actually my Therese Dress (yes, I get mad crushes on stuff I design). I cannot get enough of it lately and it's been my most popular item at craft fairs by far. I always thought of it as being a pretty dressy dress, but you wouldn't believe the custom variations people have asked me to make on it -

First I made it for someone out of a beautiful Amy Butler Belle cotton print in buttery yellow and electric blue. This dress featured my first-ever handmade buttons! I think they were a success.
In the background is my oh-so cluttered studio. It is not actually messy, but since I cannot physically stop myself from buying fabric, trim, and anything else related to sewing and crafting, i's a pretty chock-full space. But everyone who comes in assures me it's the sign of a good artist. Anyway, I am pretty darn happy with the dress. It's cute, right? And much more casual. The happy owner plans to wear it to have brunch or go shopping. She wanted a dress she could wear flip-flops with but still feel pulled together. I think it worked out. It'll be cute if she dresses it up, too!

The other thing that you can see in the background is the muslin for yet another version of the Therese Dress, this time commissioned as a WEDDING DRESS! Can you believe it? I made someone's wedding dress!
I have to say it came out really beautifully: For some reason in these two pics the dress appears to be hanging longer on one side, but for the actual ceremony she took it to a dry cleaners and had them iron the heck out of it so it would lay perfectly. We had a tough time deciding between the blue belt to match the groom's suit, and the white belt to make it a full-on wedding dress.
My personal favorite part was the way we decided to take the scalloped edging on the lace and make it repeat on the sleeve.
Having a detail like that slims the appearance of bigger arms by drawing the eye downward, and since the sleeve was slightly fluttery it came out really flattering. I love doing custom designs, it's really fun working with someone to make their dream come to life!

Anyway, as someone who really loves chocolate, cheese, bread, and basically every other food that you aren't supposed to eat, I'm glad that the humble wrap dress exists. I'll keep wearing them and designing them, too!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

one other thing

PRAISE JEEBUS, my cats are CUTE!

Day of Beauty and Tearfullness

Anyone who knows me knows that the last few weeks have been tumultuous at best, namely as the day draws nearer for my sister-in-law's wedding. I was originally assigned to make the dress but when I got too overwhelmed with projects my friend/occasional assistant/craft fair partner Jane took over, thus saving both my relationship and my ass.
And boy did she do a good job. Lo, from a few yards of overpriced fabric came a wedding dress to end all dresses, the quirky wedding dress from which all quirky wedding dresses shall be molded.
Can you believe that? SOMEONE I KNOW MADE THAT.
If she doesn't ike it I am going to commit hari-kari. But something tells me that she will like it. Something tells me she will be too busy getting married and being happy to even notice.
Of course when Jane emailed us the pics today Anne started crying at her desk. She loves her sister something fierce. I hope if I ever get married that my sister gets just as fuhklempt. We'll see.

In other news, Anne and I just got back from seeing Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane as part of Celebrate Brooklyn, and having never seen the company before, I think I can safely say that the perfect weather, typical attractive Brooklyn hipster crowd, delicious french fries from the Prospect Cafe, and of course the amazing performance, were a nice beginning to what I hope is a perfect final month here in the city of...rats? Lights? Free dance pieces? Whatever.

My crush of the day is this piece of gorgeous fabric from Reprodepot. It's almost exactly like a silk that Marc Jacobs did last fall and which I am still kicking myself for not buying when I found it at Mood a few months later.

Anne just snuck up behind me and caught me preparing to order it, which I am ashamed to admit since we're moving and I shouldn't be collecting anything new. Hmm. Anybody want some furniture, or 5 years worth of fashion magazines?

Thursday, July 19, 2007

My Etsy Page is Finally UP!

Please visit my new Etsy page, Miss Mignonette! I'm going to post up all my new designs there - hope it works!
Here 'tis:

My big gay June

So Pride was actually last month and it coincided with a lot of other fashionista business I had to do, so it all goes in the same post.

The month actually started with the amazingness that was the True Colors Tour. I wasn't that jazzed about it first, because I try to avoid the kitschy, overpriced packaged gay thing, but since I am the epitome of kitcshy, campy, and over the top, I was actually really excited. Erasure, for goodness sake! Plus Debbie Harry, Rosie O Donnell, and even Margaret Cho couldn't messit up for me (it's true, I don't like her much. Does that make me a bad queer? I think it probably does). Plus the Gossip was playing and I've loved them for the last 7 years and I wanted Anne to see them, so I was psyched to go. I am so madly in love with Beth Ditto's skills and the huge sound the three of them produce with just a bass and drums. And Beth puts on one hell of a show. As an inveterate femme, it is hard for me not to drool over the new drummer, but as a feminist I had to maintain my integrity and also my girlfriend was there. We danced to Erasure and later we slow-danced to "What A Wonderful World" and someone took our picture.

On the 18th, Erin and I had to be on the 3 am bus to Baltimore for the Ladies Independent Design League's visit to Pile of Craft, thrown by the Baltimore Craft Mafia. I went to sleep; Poor Erin immediately got accosted by some random lonely guy who talked to her the entire 5-hour bus ride. Sorry lady!
We arrived at the church at 8 am, ready to set up and get going.
Slight problem - No Carrie. No Carrie means no garment rack, no hangers, no set-up, NO!!!!!! Of course she arrived eventually, newly married and brimming with gossip about the people we went to high school with, some of whom were there (YIPES!).

The day before, my awesome mom came up from DC to help me sew some new pieces, ncluding the Strawberry Shortcake dress.
When we weren't furiously selling our little hearts out, we spent the day among the cream of the Chesapeake Bay craft scene, marvelling at the creativity of our fellow vendors.

The Craft Mafia ladies were incredibly nice, giving us food and helping us with directions and setup and everything. I will definitely be doing their events again! Baltimore is gorgeous, and now I feel a little bad about not allowing Anne to consider moving there. It was also really fun getting to hang out with Sarah and Kim from Crafty Bastards and play with Kim's sweet kitty cat, who remarkably didn't mind being on leash in the middle of a crowd of thousands. Even I was kind of freaking out.

Just a few hours later we were dodging cars on our way back to the Greyhound station, excited to be on the bus and heading back towards the city. Laden with custom orders and kind of sticky, sleepy, and chilly (boo to A/C), we were mostly excited about showering and sleeping in our own beds. And there were no talkative guys on this leg of the trip.

Happy Pride!"

I won't pretend that Pride isn't sort of exciting for me, as well as completely scary, overwhelming, obnoxious, and fun. Heck, last year I went all the way to SF to celebrate, so I guess I secretly love it, even though I also consider it to be a exploitative excuse to drink and hook up with people that we've never met and will never see again. Queers drink too much and Pride is just an excuse to get fucked up for the sake of forgetting. Anyway, the girlfriend and I were debating whether or not to make an appearance at the NY parade this year. We decided to take a little trip on the Hetrick-Martin float, hopping on at 8th street to perform our duties as go-go dancers for the thousands of queers lining NYC's streets.

We jumped on next to our friends Abby, Deanna, Gina, and Eli, and proceeded to make dancing fools of ourselves. It was nice being back among the HMI crowd, saying hello and giving hugs. Here are some pictures of Pride from the HMI float. I am bummed that I didn't get one of those yellow tee shirts. Anne and Eli spent the parade setting little butch hearts aflutter while Abby, Gina and I dirty-danced to Madonna songs. All in all it was just like when I worked there. Afterwards instead of hitting the bar we...oh wait, we did hit a bar. But then Eli, Anne and I drove to the Brooklyn waterfront to eat ice cream and watch the sunset. It made the fact that I had to help him move to Philly a week later especially poignant.

Hooray for gay!

The week after that I was one of three "Design Prodigies" on TLC's new show "I've Got Nothing to Wear". We had a little party to celebrate my appearance and luckily they didn't make me look too foolish! Being on the show was incredibly exciting - we spent 3 days locked in a room in midtown with nothing to do but sew our little hearts out. I was kind of annoyed that the woman we designed for didn't pick my outfit, but I'm glad I got be on the show because I met George Simonton, the lovely and wonderful FIT professor and designer who I hope will be my new best friend.


The following weekend my dearly beloved nephew came up to NY to hang out with us and help me get ready for the AfroPunk Block Party at BAM. Anne left for her uncle's house in New Jersey (we respectfully declined), and Malcolm and I went to the beach with my friend Eliza. We rode the ferris wheel, which was lovely and which I won't do again. :)
I was going to post a picture of Eliza in her bikini but then she would retailiate. :) I forced everyone to sit in a stable car and wouldn't let them move in case the car started to swing. I realy hate heights. :) Here's the ferris wheel instead.

Later, after dressing him up in Anne's clothes and dragging him to a bday party in Chelsea, he was a remarkably good sport about me forcing him to learn to sew and then, even worse, forcing him to model the girly creation he made:

You have to admit, the man is a good sport. And a darn good seamstress too!

The next day Eliza, Malcolm, Ella, Rudy, and Anne joined me for the First Afropunk Block Party.

I managed to make a ton of money, meet some great people, hand out lots of business cards, and hear great music to boot. Afropunk is my favorite movie, I like to think it was a love letter written expressly for me. And for once, though I heart James Spooner, I managed not to leap on him the way I usually do. He appreciates that, believe me.

Just a few days later, the month ended with Anne and I on the 3 am Greyhound from Port Authority, a place that at the best of times isn't especially pleasant, but at 3 am is really no fun. We took a trip down to DC to visit the Folklife Festival, which really meant that Kpoene' wanted to go check out the Hope Diamond, and everyone else had to follow. Aren't we a cute family? We are a cute family.

Finally, A Post!

I've been trying to get this blog up since the site launched, oh............. 3 months ago? That's sad. But I'll be posting my latest pieces, custom orders, Etsy posts, and show pics, and then of course keeping updates of my sometimes fabulous, sometimes very quiet, life as an indie fashionista.

In the meantime, here are some pics from Bastille Day at the Brooklyn Indie Market. I joined up with my friend/ertswhile sometimes assistant, Jane Van Cleef, who is, as you can see, a major talent. I should probably make her "dissapear" and then suddenly come up with a whole line of impossibly beautiful pieces that I sewed mysteriously fast. Hmm.... Hope Jane's not reading this!

We are so cute it's sick, right? Yeah. Maybe since it was Bastille Day I should have written this post in French? Nah.

One thing I am really excited about is these Fete Dresses. I work at a textile showroom so I get free fabric, and then I get to go crazy with it. Someone the other said getting free fabric is like crack to me, and it's true. Fabric is like my drug - it's messy, it's addictive, it becomes a sickness to the point where I can't think about or do anything else, and my friends just shake their heads at me. And all my money goes to supporting the habit. The difference is that crack doesn't make you look pretty and hopefully my clothes do. I did 4 different styles. Here is one: