New Years Resolution Winter Sewing Marathon

So since the start of January, I have been on a roll with finishing off old sewing projects and bringing festering ideas into fruition.  In the last four days I have completed the following and I attribute my immense drive and perserverence to the extreme cold we are having here in NYC. (8 degrees the other day!)

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I got this Vogue vintage 1950’s pattern about a year ago and I was excited to use it with some blue floral cotton. The blue made me think of Grace Kelly and a delicate tea party. Finding the pattern pieces were very oddly shaped and I might not have enough, I improvised by using a lovely lipstick red cotton I salvaged from an old dress I never wore. The dress’ skirt was full and cut on the bias, so I had a lot of fabric to work with. I actually like the combination of the two and the red brings a more modern look to the shape, in my eyes. I am five hours into the project and it’s looking nice. I have a long way to go, as there are eight gussets in all, a full lining, horsehair braid to put into the hem, a zipper and hemming!

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Another garment I made was this simple silk blouse from some flocked cheetah print fabric a client of mine had me make a custom dress from in like… 2008. I have been sitting on this small piece for about seven years so it was nice to make a little shirt with a built in scarf. The pattern is original and I sewed a scarf piece into the shoulder seam and then it wraps around the neckline. French seams throughout and simple hemming. I would like to do one or two more in a different fabric ;o)

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So I started this draped jacket from some awesome pink wool Kollabora generously donated to me last year and then I just stopped. The pattern is a plus size Burdastyle pattern that took me like six hours to grade down because of all of the angles of it and it was exhausting and I guess I therefore gave up. I bought that purple woven fabric at Paron six months ago with the intention of using it on the lapel of this jacket, yet the whole project sat in storage for months and months until this week. I hand-sewed the binding on the cuffs and tacked the collar facing throughout. I am pretty happy with how happy-looking the jacket is. It’s so damn bright, but who cares, it’s fun. I love pink.

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1399455_10102089440431476_3861571351132936964_oI also used this awesome Western shirt I got in Texas last year to make a much less masculine and heavy blouse with some shaping, waist cinching and a Peter Pan collar. I completely took apart the men’s shirt and used the flat fabric to cut out a vintage 1960’s pattern from it. I had just the right amount of fabric, and was even able to re-use the buttons and cut a smaller sleeve from the existing sleeves! The new shirt features a bowtie front, buttons down the back, and short sleeves. I loved the print of the old shirt, but that coupled with the back cape yoke and front cape and large bulbous sleeves was a bit…much. Hooray for re-imagining clothing!

Western Shirt Red-do

I also made this pillow from this awesome Indian shirt I have had for about six years and never wear because it’s skin-tight. I love the embroidery on it and the intense pink, but it was too darn small. I love Eastern textiles and have a lot of them in my home, so this made sense. I only used the sleeves to make the pillow, added some vintage purple pom pom trim and that was it.

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Now,I have to finish the 50’s dress and I want to alter an amazing French suit I picked up at a thrift shop recently. It’s a wild suit. I’m excited to share what else I make in the next few weeks! Be back soon!

xo Desira

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Costume Design for YouTube Webseries Malcontent’s Lab!

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Hey y’all,

A few months ago, I was commissioned to create an original design for a new webseries. I designed,  created a pattern for, and constructed a custom steampunk-inspired lab coat for the titular character in the new YouTube series, Malcontent’s Lab for actress Alana Jackler this past summer. Designs were bounced around and around, playing with elements of the late 1800’s, as well as Futurist aspects. Over the course of about 5 weeks I designed, constructed, and finished this giant job and you can see the process below… Malcontent’s Lab is one of the many shows on the YouTube channel, ScifiRiot.

 

Alana Jackler in Malcontents Lab

Alana Jackler in Malcontents Lab

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The coat took approximately 22 hours and the process included preliminary sketches, merging sketches and then a final sketch was approved.

My sketches for the coat

My sketches for the coat

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So the sketch on the bottom left was the one picked, yet I would include a purple tulle underskirt to soften the hardness of the coat and also to convey a little fantasy in the character.

2. The next step was drafting the pattern! I did a simple bodice design with a full circle skirt and then chopped one side of the front bodice and enlongated the other. This would give that asymmetrical center front and create the palette for those leather straps and buckles you can see in the drawing.

3. Construction/sewing!

The pinned bodice pieces

The pinned bodice pieces

The bodice with the open skirt pinned

The bodice with the open skirt pinned

THE FINISHED PRODUCT!

THE FINISHED PRODUCT!

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The finished product :o)

The finished product :o)

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A LAST MINUTE ADDITION: a little M emblem, she beckons the idea of a superhero for herself

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;O)

Fashion Divorce, Fashion Make-up & A Pilot!

February 2010: Myself and my amazingly talented and devoted intern, Bethany, killed it and made an amazing collection to show for Fashion Week.  I did my biggest fashion show to date, it got rave reviews from the crowd and some press, including the Huffington Post & The AwlProject Runway asked me to audition for it’s 8th season and asked me to bring 10 pieces, as opposed to the 5 they asked of everyone else… and then I showed them the things I had worked harder on than anything in my entire life and the things I was most proud of ever and… they bashed me. I missed the final cut of contestants by one. Tim Gunn told me they’d call me that night to tell me if I was on or not.  I left the audition and made my way to my boyfriend at the time’s office to meet for coffee. I was shaking and decided that even if they wanted me, I would not accept.  I am far too sensitive to be put through the rigor morale of Project Runway’s intensity and editing. I didn’t get on, but I did realize that I was in desperate need of a fashion break.  After six years of nonstop selling, ups and downs, Etsy, customers, trends, & 16 hour days, I had to put it to rest.  I felt empty. I felt as though I had lost why I started sewing in the first place.  I’m not going to blame it on that bad PR audition, but it definitely left me questioning what I wanted of fashion.  I did not want to get into production.  I am too much of an artist to have the business-heavy skills it takes to be a real fashion designer in the fashion industry.  I was riding the wave between being a super indie handmade clothing artist and the fashion world in Vogue and I fell off my board towards the indie.  The fashion industry has a lot of evils.  I needed to re-kindle my love all-together.  I used to obsess over style.com and the fashion shows and magazines and fabrics and I found myself disinterested, feeling like a long lost daughter, unsure of her past. I pushed it away and grabbed for steady work with employers who weren’t myself; and with appointments and places to be rather than a self-made calendar.  I threw myself into acting much more wholeheartedly and my boyfriend and I broke up. I had some health problems, I kind of had a breakdown, and then winter hit. I moved out of the magnificent studio space that I had shared with ten peers, including Etsy’s founder, Rob Kalin, for three years.  The life I had known for three years was over. I was almost officially divorcing my fashion business.

Fast forward one year. My sewing studio had been collecting some dust, and I’ve become nearly completely absorbed in acting, but a glimmer started.  I sewed here and there and still sold accessories on Etsy and then a few months ago, I got a job teaching sewing lessons a few hours a week.  I made a few new dresses and pieces for myself…

Last week, all of my sadness and confusion and hard work came back full circle… Sometimes it just isn’t the right time… There were a few pieces that I was most proud of from my fashion show for Autumn 2010 back in February 2010… those things, combined with my dedication to acting (tons of classes, workshops, auditions, seminars, in the last two years) have paid the hell off.  I landed a tiny role on a new ABC fashion drama pilot called Americana. Casting was looking for SAG actors who were also fashion designers.  When I saw the posting, I screamed.  There had to be like 2 of us in the United States.  After weeks of deliberation on their part, I got it!!!! and on Thursday, three ensembles from my 2010 show that had been in a garment bag for two years awaiting their debut and two never-before seen pieces were walked down a runway on models on a freaking tv show with me as their real-life and tv designer.  This isn’t reality tv. This is a scripted Ashley Greene-starring pilot and it was utterly surreal.  I play a rival fashion design student of Ashley’s named Ann Marie. On top of it, I got to act with Emilie de Ravin of Lost & Roswell, which was my favorite show in high school. Lastly, the director of Americana is Philip Noyce, who also directed Clear & Present Danger, Patriot Games, The Bone Collector, and one of my favorite movies of all time, The Saint, which I have seen 27 times. I won’t disclose anything else.

My models & I

Hard work pays off.  I’m preparing to work just as hard from here on out.  Thank you, universe. Now, it’s time for my agent to come along….