Category Archives: Design

A Fix

If you must wear neon, it should be in the form of a good jacket. A neon pink blazer with side cutouts, more specifically. Edgy and cool and a perfect fit. In these pics I wore it with shades of gray, but I am planning an outfit where I wear it with more colors. I kind of feel like I’m in a classy science fiction novel when I wear it. Or at a Jil Sander runway show.

If you must know (and I know you do) I got this blazer from Stitchfix.

Stitchfix is an internet fashion retailer that I have grown to really like over the past few months because it’s an incredibly convenient and fun new way of shopping for me. What sets them apart from other fashion e-tailers is that instead of you shopping their online store, they automatically ship you items without you knowing what they are sending. When you sign up as a “subscriber” you fill out a fun questionnaire about your personal style, body type and size, and the amount of money you want to spend. You can also specify how often you want a box shipped to you. Based on the info you give them, they style you from afar and then mail their picks to you. What you like you keep, and what you don’t like you send back in a prepaid package. You are charged a styling fee of $20 with every shipment, but you can also use that 20 toward your purchases. What is also nice is that they listen to your feedback about the items that you didn’t want and respond in the next shipment with even better items.

So far I’ve had three shipments, and I have had so much fun with the whole process. Because I am not the one choosing, it takes me out of my shopping comfort zone and makes me try things I normally would not. The result is every couple of months my wardrobe gets a swift kick in the gluteus and I end up with an infatuation like this sweet blazer.

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Vintage Revamp

This is a blouse that I found at the vintage fashion faire I recently went to. I was drawn to its elegant neckline and color (I love white woven shirts.) When I tried it on, however, I was nonplussed to see that the overall look of it skewed matron. I almost, almost did not buy it, but as soon as I put it back on the rack I felt compelled to grab it again. The neckline was so lovely that I decided to buy it as a fixer-upper.

The first thing I did was replace the plain two-hole plastic button with some pearl ones. The pictures above already has the new pearl buttons attached, so you’ll just have to trust me when I say that the first buttons were not cute.

Next, I shortened the sleeves. The current length of the sleeves look matronly and unflattering on me. While wearing the blouse, I marked the length I wanted the sleeves with a small gold safety pin, and then measured a cut line that gives me a 1 inch edge to work with. I finished the hem using a blind stitch for a clean, modern finish.

After I shortened the sleeves I decided to update the hemline. Instead of a straight hem, I wanted something more shirtail in style, shorter at the sideseams curving down to the front and back. This way, I could wear the front tucked in and the back untucked (my most favorite way to wear shirts.) If you have a curved ruler this is easy to do, even if you don’t it’s not hard to draw the curve you want.

When I took out the stitches on the hemline and sleeves, the thread left behind holes in the fabric. So I couldn’t radically change the garment without first cutting off the stitched part (which wouldn’t have worked because I would have nothing leftover to wear.) Another thing I almost forgot about – I had my iron on the highest heat setting from my last project. I went to press a sleeve hem and the poly fabric started to melt! Fortunately, it was part of the sleeve that is by the underarm and thus unnoticeable, and I caught the melting before it ruined the fabric.

Here is the refinished product! As you can see, I didn’t make any drastic changes to the overall garment, but some little tweaks here and there really keep it from screaming vintage. I am wearing this blouse with my Current/Elliott blue plaid cropped skinnies. And since I am apparently too tall to fit into an Instagram at full length, here are my shoes:

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Good Vintage

An opportunity to shop a vintage clothing faire cannot be missed, and it is even more fun with vintage-loving friends. The Alameda Vintage Clothing Faire was on a beautiful sunny day on the small island, in a community hall in the old naval base area. It wasn’t nearly as large as the Alameda Flea Market, but it was the perfect size to be able to look at everything in about two hours. Everyone there was very friendly and familiar in our shared love for vintage.

I enjoy shopping for vintage clothing, the hunt for a hidden treasure is exhilarating. While in design school I worked as a vintage buyer for Buffalo Exchange, and it taught me everything I needed to know about choosing good vintage.  Generally when vintage shopping I personally try to look for classic pieces, that will work with my current wardrobe. Mostly neutral in color, I like to mix these pieces with statement jewelry that I also look for. Rhiannon, my friend with whom I attended, likes to find dresses in rich colors and timeless prints. The fabric of the clothing should be in good condition, no holes, ripped seams, or anything else I cannot repair myself. The fabric quality is what I especially look for. When shopping, I always scan the racks to see if anything catches my eye before I go over and start going through the racks. I run my hands over pieces I like to feel the quality of fabric. A good wool will feel soft whereas a bad polyester will feel like fluffed plastic. I check zippers, buttonholes, and hems to observe the technique used.

One of the pieces I found was a classic navy blazer by Pendleton. It fits me perfectly and has 3/4 length sleeves which are my favorite on a jacket. It is in impeccable condition and cost $40. This is a quality jacket that will last me many years and will polish off many an outfit.

The quality is in the details of this blazer. Handfinished buttonholes, perfect welt pockets, and beautiful buttons. Buttons are a big thing for me, as they can add a lot of personality to a garment. I especially love dapper crest buttons.

This was one the first things I saw when I arrived at the Faire, and I was immediately drawn to its shape and classic nautical motif. The fit of vintage clothing is paramount to finding a good value. The sizing is extremely inconsistent, so I always try them on before buying. The fit of this sweater is Katharine Hepburn, sitting just at the hips with a slightly slim cut. It is also 100% cotton, which means I can machine wash it.

At only $15, the subtle anchor and laurel have me completely charmed. Also, I love white tops- white tees, white oxfords, and now white sweaters. I know it is after Labor Day, but I have no qualms about wearing white when it is done like this.

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Un Vogue

Last Night was Fashion’s Night Out all over this wide world, people were shopping and drinking champagne late into the evening, all dressed up in the most dramatic and chic. The paparazzi were out in full force. Local designers were out mingling with their followers, imparting style and taste wherever they fluttered. It was awesome. I actually have no idea how awesome it was, because I’ve never been to a Fashion’s Night Out. While Fashion Week is going, I’m preparing for Market Week, which happens the week after. As Fashion Week is mostly for editors and PR, Market Week is for the buyers. Instead of being dressed in lace hanging out at Night Out, I was shin deep in lace fabric hanging out in front of my two computers. Not so glamorous, but the lace is pretty and using two computers at the same time is kind of cool. Maybe not.

The image of fashion is what attracts many of us to this career, but one learns quickly that it takes a deeper passion to stay on this path. In design school one of the first classes everyone had to take was Basic Construction. I was in a classroom with other new students, one of which was this guy who was all about being both fierce and fabulous, simultaneously. He was so serious about this endeavor that he was wearing his sunglasses inside. Who wears their sunglasses inside? During class? A new fashion student, naturally.

The first day you learn how to use a sewing machine, and it only gets harder from there. There was no margin for error with our sewing teacher, Cindy. She was a lovely, ageless Chinese-American woman who made all of her own clothes. And she was strict, with good reason of course. Sewing is a Perfectionist’s activity. The more precise the construction, the closer you are to achieving a  perfectly made garment. Cindy never made a mistake, and held us to the same standard. The guy with the sunglasses, with all his fabulosity, had trouble keeping up with the lessons. Cindy was often at his sewing table, lecturing him. After a while his sunglasses were nowhere to be found, and he was often heard complaining about having to take stitches out. I had him in some other the classes after the first quarter, and he was becoming increasingly unhappy.

As sincere as his intentions may have been, I don’t think Sunglasses Inside Guy anticipated the grunt work required to be in a designer in this industry. The glamour of the fashion had faded for him, and was being replaced with the reality of the industry and design school. I was like this to a degree when I started design school, I think every new fashion student feels this way. You have to accept that although there will be many fun times working in fashion, there will be many more late nights and hours of hard work. So not VOGUE, but if it’s right for you and you really love it, the days buried in lace swatches will be as rewarding as a Night Out being fierce and fabulous.

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In the Dumps

I haven’t been feeling well the last couple of days. Yesterday I woke up, ate breakfast, and proceeded to do a three hour bike ride to the fabric stores I frequent. I am working on a project for a friend and needed supplies, so I went for some fabric and zippers and the like as soon as the stores opened. After I got back home and took a shower, it hit me. I felt horrible, so I slept for the rest of the day. I woke up in the evening feeling well enough to start working on the project until I went back to bed for the night.

This morning when I woke up I felt okay, went out for breakfast with my husband, and then came back to continue working. I worked for three hours and got a lot done despite a headache and upset stomach, and then laid back down again and slept for the entire afternoon. My headache is gone and my stomach has settled, but I think I’m going to take it easy for the rest of the evening.

My general philosophy when I’m sick is to sleep as much as possible. I’ve found that most of the time, lots of sleep is the best medicine. I have no qualms about taking a day off to do just this, I am generally not the type of person to work through illness and would rather nip it in the bud immediately. This particular project I am working on is an exception, because I am having fun with it and because there is also a deadline involved.

Everyone who has ever lived with me has told me I sleep more than anyone they have ever known, and I have yet to meet someone who sleeps as much or as easily as I do. To feel 100% well rested I need 10 hours of sleep a night. When I am sick, I need about 12-15 hours. My mother says as a baby I slept through the night almost immediately, and she has numerous pictures of me as a child asleep in various places, like laundry baskets and laying in front of the tv with my head propped up on my hands. I talked to a professor in college who specialized in sleep disorders, and asked him why a person would sleep so much, and he said it was probably because I had a large “sleep debt” to sleep off. I don’t know how that was possible, because at the time I was getting 10+ hours of sleep a night because I had no morning classes. I’ve long since accepted that this is just what my body needs, and really I’m pretty lucky that I don’t have the opposite problem of insomnia or something. However, it would be nice to be one of those people who can function on 5 hours a sleep a night, I would definitely get a lot more done.

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New on NatalieShop

I just added some new things I’ve made to my Etsy shop! Click on the images for the Etsy listing:
Grey Grid Tie Blouse with hi-low hem, $150.00

Space Age Sweatshirt Blouse, $150.00

Jade/Rose Turban-Style Headband, $25.00

Snow Bunny Turban-Style Headband, $20.00

Jade Cabled Beanie, $30.00

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French Bias

This is bias tape that I am making from this soft Italian cotton I got from Britex Fabric a few years ago. I have bins of fabric sitting in my sewing room, and I have decided that now is the time to use it up. This lovely fabric sat in the bin and I would take it out from time to time with an idea what to make, but I would have second thoughts, and it would go back into the bin.

With the right tools, making bias tape is not difficult. You need a bias tape curler, an iron, a clear drafting ruler, a disappearing ink pen, and scissors. You can also get an attachment for your sewing machine that actually curls the bias tape as you sew, which makes it even easier. The print on this fabric makes for  1″ wide bias tape, which is what I want for the garment I am making.

Finishing a garment is one of my favorite parts of sewing. I love doing blind hem stitches, and making the edges as clean as possible. The way a garment is finished is a sure sign of its quality. There are exceptions, as some designers do play with raw edges, but still they are done in a consistently thoughtful manner. My sewing teacher once said that a sign of good finishing is that you could wear the garment inside out and it would still look good.

I am now thinking of how I am going to use this bias tape. I had planned to use it as a visible 1/4″ binding around the armholes and neckline, but now I am considering flipping it to the wrong side and making it invisible. I could use it to bind the seams, or just do French seams. I should have already made these decisions and began sewing, but I discovered I am completely out of thread in the color of the fabric. A trip to the fabric store is in order asap. So here I sit, typing and thinking about French seams and how, when sewn perfectly, can make a simple garment into an exquisite one.

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