Long time no see

Eliot toile, fashion, fashion design, Personal growth, sewing

Hey guys.

It’s been a while – no? And for that, I apologize.

I’ve been doing some sewing, some thinking, some questioning and exploring and felt it was about time to report my findings and creations. And get back on this writing horse.

I’ve been slacking on my blog endeavor and I feel a bit guilty about that. However, the purpose of this venue was to encourage and spark creation – and I’ll be damned, it’s done just that. I’ve realized that while I may not be a constant and avid contributor here, I have been able to maintain my creative streak. That’s something I feel proud of. Prior to this, it would have come in waves, but these past few months have been especially motivating. Not 100 percent of the time, of course, but pretty close.  

This “summer” (is that June-August, May-Septmer? Let’s go with the latter) I successfully made 3 tops, 1 dress and 3 leather zip pouches for a new venture I’m concepting (more on that in a few). Amidst those projects I have been doing an on-going freelance project for an acquaintance. I also completed a calligraphy challenge and am about to embark on another next week – which I’m really looking forward to! 

I’m throwing all of this out there to make a little record of personal achievements. I think it’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day and veer towards monotony. Go to work, workout if you wish, eat dinner, go to sleep: repeat. Your routine may start to make you forget what happened in between all of those things. I’ve definitely been feeling that way lately – especially with the change of seasons, no upcoming vacation plans, and a while before the next holiday. By cataloging accomplishments and small victories I think you can create an encouraging environment for reflection. It’s what can push you on and make you excited for little things that are coming up and the projects you may have been putting off. 

So take a minute and think about all of the things you’ve accomplished over the past few months. Consider your takeaways and allow yourself the freedom to make mistakes and keep moving forward.

Check back soon for some updates on a new endeavor I’m pursuing. 

 

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admission of a shopaholic 

Uncategorized

Hi friends & folks, TGIF.

Probably a short week for most of us – which always is a bit of a relief but also a bit of a burden in terms of work load. However, I must say, I am glad the weekend is already upon us.

Now, something I did not disclose at the beginning of all this “no shopping” business, is that I applied some caveats. One of which being; I can buy shoes & accessories….

 

Hey people – I had to give myself SOMETHING.

 

The thing I’ve noticed, is prior to this, I never really considered myself a “shoe person”. I like to buy shoes, and have always appreciate their ability to influence an outfit – but it hasn’t been until now, during this clothing hiatus, that I’ve felt a real draw towards shoe shopping. When I get the urge to buy, I just escort myself to the shoe or accessories tab and take a peak. Chances are, I find something. Sometimes out of necessity but mostly out of want.

It’s been interesting watching my spending patterns shift – since I’ve allowed myself to purchase these accessories, I’ve (tragically) not seen much change in my bank account; at least the change I was hoping for! I think the biggest lesson I’ve learned through this, is if you like to spend, you will always find something to spend your money on. Whether it’s shoes, or purses, or fancy new coffee, or spin classes, or spin shoes! If you’re a spendthrift, I think it’s going to take a lot more than just saying you can’t buy a category of something to break this habit.

So NOW what do I do…

Maybe it’s all or nothing. Maybe it’s not about moderation, in this particular case. Maybe it’s about total restriction and otherwise calling a shopping ban…all I can hear in my head is Nelly circa 2001: “hell nah, you for real?”

Just to be clear here – I am not surrendering, even though I’ve really thought about it – like, a lot.  I’m just…reconsidering. Re-evaluating the terms and conditions of this deal I’ve made with myself. (I can self-justify most anything, can’t I?)

I think I’ll take the weekend to drink wine and ponder this – all or nothing? Should I make some amendments? Say this is a phase and keep going? I’ll get back to you on that one.

 

 

 

what lies beneath – a perspective on outward appearance.

fashion, fashion design, world at large

I saw a guy the other day that was straight out of a movie. Bleach-blonde hair that was long-ish but slicked back, revealing a previous dye job. Orange aviator style shooting glasses, a turquoise shirt and navy mechanics’ jacket. He had a large portfolio on his lap. Heavy bags under his eyes and sort of dusty looking skin tone. He looked like the love child of Ryan Gosling and Buffalo Bill.

His outward appearance really sparked my interest…What was he was thinking about? What was in that portfolio? Where did he ever find such an awesome jacket? How much sleep do you have to miss out on to develop bags under your eyes the size of saucers? Chances are, I won’t run into him again. And who knows, he could look entirely different on a “regular” day. But for all I know, based on that brief encounter, he hadn’t slept in a week because he committed a murder…and was stressed out…and then because his clothes were bloodied he had to threaten a mechanic to give up his jacket…and maybe that portfolio is full of newspaper clippings of the various crimes he’s committed…eh hem…I believe I need to lay off the horror movies.

Regardless of who that guy was, where he was going and what he was wearing – it reminded me that what we put on everyday isn’t just for us – whether we like it or not, it’s for everyone else, too. Our outward appearance is the first thing other people see. It’s the thing that can spark judgement, appreciation, respect or disrespect. It almost seems unfair, doesn’t it?

My senior year in college, studying art and art history (a precursor to my fashion studies), I had to do a final thesis in order to graduate. I chose to create original, hand sewn garments, that were aesthetically appealing on the outside, yet were lined with unimaginably torturous materials. An example being, a gold striped dress lined with silvery, scratchy steel wool. Another being a cotton twill dress, equipped with a barbed wire hoop skirt for shape and support. Naturally, these are things you would not actually wear, but I wanted to explore the inner versus outer. I wanted to spark thoughts about what we are willing, or unwilling to do for fashion. What we are willing to do to ourselves, in order to portray a certain something to others.

Fashion is a funny, fickle thing, and this short entry is just barely scratching the surface of this topic. I felt it would be a missed opportunity not to address this encounter. I think it’s important to start re-visiting some of the fundamentals of what fashion does for us as the wearer and also as the viewers of others’ fashion choices.

As always, stay tuned!

 

 

 

starting from scratch

fashion design, patternmaking, print pattern texture, sewing

When I finished grad school, I was fortunate enough to be empowered with the knowledge and ability to make almost anything. Our coursework was diverse and allowed us to explore all different facets of the design industry. From tailoring, swimwear, menswear, children swear, accessories…we were well equipped.

During school I invested in an industrial sewing machine, pattern making tools aplenty and any other sewing accoutrements you could imagine. I still have all of this equipment to this day, and still dream of being a master tailor, seamstress and patternmaker.

Something I’ve been realizing over these last couple of months/years, especially in sewing, is that practice really does make perfect – and if you’re not exercising the muscles you worked so hard to create, you’re going to lose it.

Alright, so, all of that being said, we’re all friends here, right? No judgements?

As the temperatures are warming up, and wardrobes are turning over – I’m started to feel the pull towards shopping. To try and satisfy this need for newness, I attempted to make a basic shell top this weekend.  I had a pattern than I rubbed off from a fairly well fitting top and some nice printed bengaline fabric, so I thought I’d get down to work. I cut out a quick muslin, pin fit it, and thought I was good to go. Cut out the pieces, beautifully sewed everything together, practically FINISHED it! tried it on and then….armholes were too high, neckline was too high, the entire garment was falling back on my body and the darts were too short. I was SO disappointed! After painstakingly sewing it all together, merrowing all of my seams, tacking the facings, marking the button holes – the last thing I felt like doing was ripping it all apart. Especially the merrow stitching – basically the last thing you ever want to have to rip out. I know there is a magical way to rip these stitches (can anyone advise??), but even after doing this several hundred times, I can still cannot remember.

After some lamenting in front of the mirror and a little sulking about how I “can’t make anything anymore”, “I’ve lost my touch”, “I wasted all this time and fabric”, I picked myself up by the boot straps and tried to put my game face back on.

While I had left grad school feeling empowered and confident – I clearly have not been practicing my skills and it definitely has started to show. While I was discourage, I had try very hard to turn this experience into a learning, and not something to prevent me from moving forward. I’m determined to try and fix that top – and keep working towards making other things and new things. Even if it’s taken me a few days to come to this conclusion, I’m glad this happened. And once again, I feel grateful for not shopping because otherwise, I may not have been as inspired to make something.

When I fix this top there will be more photos! But in the meantime – a few sneak peaks of the fabric & process.

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playing some catch up

Closet Stories, fashion illustration

Hey ladies & gents –

Spring has officially sprung and I think it’s here to stay! I’ve finally decided to bust out a dress because the weather is feelin’ fine & my legs have been sheathed for way too many months. This morning warranted a little self tanner application…because, yikes.

Here’s a few outfits for your viewing pleasure – I’ve been traveling for work and a little socially swapped the last few weeks so you get a two-for this time. Also – where the heck is the color? I can’t tell if it’s a combo of the weather or just being in NYC so long. Living in NYC = default to black & navy.

Hope you all have a beautiful day!

 

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few highlights – those red shoes – I feel dressed to kill every time I wear them. that blue striped sweatshirt? my dads – vintage gap from 100 years ago and it’s just the best. went to a wedding last weekend and wore that black & gold striped knit dress – super easy to wear but also a lot of glam.

 

Scan

black sweater on the left has lace overlays on the shoulder with sequins and beading – found that beauty in my grandmother, Meme’s, closet. striped burn-out top with peter pan collar – vintage find that adds some nice retro twist – accidentally WASHED it the other day instead of dry cleaning (insert monkey emoji with eyes covered here). I may have wept for a few moments but I think it’s going to survive its trip in the spin cycle.

 

Adios for now!

quality or quantity: for better or for worse.

Closet Stories, world at large

I was an H&M junkie for a while…most of my tops are from there, a LOT of my denim is from there…some costume jewelry…couple pairs of sandals…I tend to style these items with some vintage pieces or otherwise, but the foundation of many of my ensembles are from fast-fashion retailers.

Don’t get me wrong – I always loved H&M’s selection – it’s fashion forward and the fit is pretty good (it’s gotten better in the last few years). Their quality is decent compared to similar stores and their prices are right – just a few examples of why they are at the helm of fast fashion.

As most of us know, I’m not buying any new clothes this year (2017), which prevents me from even stepping foot into H&M or the like. This results in wearing the things I already have more often, washing them more often, spilling on them more often…etc. I’ve tried to be resourceful with my closet, but after a while, it gets a little more difficult. Realistically, I have plenty to wear, plenty of variety and options – but sometimes you just wanna wear the same damn thing.

What I’m realizing, is my trusty H&M jeans I might now wear once a week instead of every other, are starting to look a little, well, worse for wear. The recovery isn’t the same, the color isn’t the same – they’re bordering retirement age.

Commence my fear that in about 1 year from now I will actually NEED to buy new clothes. Who’s going to be paying for this new wardrobe – I’m not so sure – but it is sort of refreshing in this time of fast fashion and wastefulness and greed and materialism, to actually shop for something out of necessity instead of desire or compulsion.

You hear about those girls (and guys maybe?) who have “capsule wardrobes” – a curated selection of clothing that they wear over and over with the ability to mix and match effortlessly since everything goes together . It gives you less of a choice when making outfit decisions and streamlines your closet. While this would be a dream come true – good luck getting me to part with the majority of my stuff. I get sentimental over my clothing so I have a hard time parting with things I think might come back in style or that have a sense of nostalgia. But I do think there is something to take away from this concept – I assume if you have a capsule wardrobe, you’re forced to invest in some pretty substantial, quality pieces. If you’re wearing the same black jeans every other day, they better be damn amazing and really stand the test of time in appearance and in craftsmanship.

This provokes feelings of excitement and opportunity about what my future wardrobe holds. Maybe I’ll make a shift into spending a little more money on a little less when I resume my shopping adventures. Maybe (hopefully!) I’ll start making more of my clothing again and utilizing my skills & fabric collection to avoid the shopping all together and to encourage some creative growth. I can’t say that I won’t ever buy anything from a fast fashion retailer again, but I think I will definitely consider the quality over quantity a little bit more.

People are starting to care more and more about where their clothing comes from, who is making it, what it’s doing to the environment and what they can do as the consumer to better the industry and themselves. As time rolls on & the consumer continues to become more educated, I think quality will seriously reign supreme.

Wolf in sheep’s clothing

world at large

Maybe more like a sheep in wolf’s clothing but, you get the idea.

I recently cut my hair – and not just a little snip snip here and there. I got bangs, I got layers – I propelled myself into the high maintenance hair style world – but, whateves. It’s fun and it turns out I really love it – so I will adjust! My previous hair routine was…well, non-existent. I’d scarcely brush it, only wash it a few times a week, then put it up in a towel for as long as time permitted, scrunch some curl cream in it, walk out the door. Tada! Curly haired me. Bangs add a new layer to this. I was willing to accept the challenge. I owe many thanks to Tracy at Bull in the Heather, in Greenpoint BK, for taming my tresses into submission. She worked quickly and effortlessly and is really quite a talented being. I will definitely be paying her a visit sometime in the near future! Probably for a bang trim since these puppies are already about to interfere with my line of sight. 

Anyway – the reason I’m rambling on about bangs, and my own bangs, is that it was a big change. And it brought about some interesting reactions from my friends, coworkers & acquaintances. It’s been quite eye opening trying to decipher peoples true feelings and their perceptions of me as a person with this new hairstyle. General consensus, people like it. I think? It’s so hard to tell! Don’t you hate that? Hate it when you cant read peoples’ minds, I mean? Yeah, me too. 
This brings me to my ultimate point, your hair, what you wear, how you present yourself, has so much to do with the way people treat you. Since this was a pretty drastic change from before, the most overwhelming response that I got was, “I didn’t even recognize you!”. It was very interesting at work to see people I usually have very pleasant and instant interactions with basically ignore me. I’d be in the kitchen, at the sink, sharing the same square foot with someone I see everyday, and they didn’t even realize it’s me! The most irking thing about that experience was that I realized how many people do not speak to or engage with people they dont know – or they think they do not know.  Maybe its a New York thing, maybe it’s the culture of my work place, maybe its the fact that technology and social media have taken over our lives and we’re quite terrible at being social these days – we may never know exactly. That brought about a very odd feeling – it was sort of empowering in away. It made me feel a little in disguise. Like I had put on a mask. Like I could do anything, be anyone, sort of like a reinvention. 

So – I  really have no conclusion here, to be perfectly honest. Just some observations of what your external appearance does to/for your relationships and daily interactions. How you look is what you command, and while I once thought I knew that, I saw it in spades after this hair transformation. It’s empowering, confusing, interesting, creepy….and I’m okay with that – but now I’m extra aware. 

They say you should dress for the job you want and I think that proves that very well. Outward perception is even more important in this day and age, where people want instant gratification, their attention spans are short and they judge you in the blink of an eye. I still say, be yourself. Whatever that means. 

wearing red for women.

world at large

Happy International Women’s Day! (slightly belated – please feel free to insert whatever emoji you feel best represents ‘oops, I’m sorry!’) Hooray for all the women, ladies, gals, girls and dudettes around.

Is it just me, or is there a lot of extra hoopla this year?

I will admit, I did not know this day of celebration has existed SINCE THE EARLY 1900s. What’s up with that? I’m a lady and I have rights and I feel outta the loop. I’m a little embarrassed to admit that but, I suppose this year, more than the last few, has been particularly focused on women. On their rights, their vote, their president, their finances, their clothing..obviously the list continues. It really feels like we are going back in time in a sense – a resurgence of intense interest in core values and the women that uphold them.

So, of course, there is a fashion element to all of this. Wednesday sparked an interesting movement for women particularly (and those standing in solidarity with them), which was to not shop! Imagine that. Just so happens I’m already on the boat. However, I’ve seen mixed opinions on this. Some are saying not to shop. Some are saying you should shop but only spend your dollars on women-run businesses and organizations, buuuuttt….these companies are actually using all of this as a marketing tool. 

That sort of bugs me, am I the only one? 

I thought the whole idea was to not contribute to the commerce society. OK, sort of makes sense – if you gotta buy, you better support the ladies who work so hard around you; however, my guess is that these women-run business, most likely rely on other services and companies to provide a service to them in order to run their business. Those other services and companies may not be women-centric – so, in your efforts to support something specific, you’re also supporting the companies that they support. It’s a inherent cycle to having a business and practically unavoidable. You want to support a cause, so you buy from a particular designer but then by default, you could be supporting an inhumane factory, a business that exploits their workers, organizations that dont provide benefits…hard to win, isn’t it? That being said, doesn’t it seem a little…hmm, what’s the word, sleezy? to use Interational Women’s day, and other causes, to increase sales? Sorry to say but, seems like its all a big marketing ploy. Something to take advantage of those who really want to make a difference, but end up negating their efforts through no fault of their own (mostly). 

If you’re going to be a woman in business today, I think its incredibly important to have a clearly established point of view. It’s important to consider contributing something to your industry besides what makes you money. To stand for something substantial and to have a clear voice and perspective on how you want to do that. There are so many ways to do this in this day and age & there are many designers out there promoting good causes for women, their communities and the environment – Tory Burch, Stella McCartney and kate spade, to touch on a few. I sincerely hope their campaigns and missions are true to their advertising and websites, but there is only so much we can do as consumers, but one of the mostimportant  is to educated ourselves. 

I hope if I ever have the opportunity to have a major impact on the fashion industry, I can also make a positive contribution to those around me – in both small and large ways. I think making yourself an active participant in these causes and in the world conversation, you really are doing something to satisfy yourself as a business, but also making an impact on the people and things around you – the authenticity in doing so is another story. 
 

 

in with the old.

Closet Stories

I started this blog because of a commitment to myself to not buy any new clothes for the next year. The commitment came first and then I thought – there must be some kindred spirits out there with the same sentiments.

I have to be perfectly honest and tell you – it actually has not been that hard. I can’t believe it though! I was in H&M every other week buying some new top or necklace or scarf – whatever – and now, I have no desire. Literally, none.

I would catch myself at work perusing my go-to shoppings sites every hour if I was in a slow period.  I would build a massive cart – just for fun, think about it, usually not buy anything, but if there was something I wanted I might dwell on it for a few days, finally buy something, but not nearly close to what I had built my “dream cart” out of….thinking back on that – what a freakin’ waste of time! All the back and forth trying to decide what to buy, what not to buy….sheesh. What a relief I don’t have to do THAT anymore.

One positive thing that’s happened so far is that I find myself becoming more resourceful with my closet. The old has sort of become new again. I’ve also found myself accessorizing a bit more – using vintage scarves from my mom’s collection, changing my bags more often and getting more creative with what I already have. I’m really looking forward to the season change because then it will really be like having a whole new wardrobe!

Stay tuned for some revamps of old things over the next couple of weeks – I plan on diving into my closet this weekend – looking for promise and to reboot!

TGIF bros.