Some thoughts on the Final Challenge of Project Runway…

Goodness! What an interesting episode!

First off, I have to say that it was refreshing to see the designers challenged with interpreting a piece of inspiration that they got to choose themselves from the Getty in LA. I felt like, “Yes! That’s the essence of costume design! To be inspired by one thing and translate it to another, with a purpose and a context!” I felt like I could wrap my head around this challenge.

Secondly, I was so happy to hear them get a decent amount of time (2 days) and a decent budget ($300) to put together their look. Why can’t all the challenges be like that? I dunno about you all, but putting together a piece of industry-busting fashion that can be wearable in the crowds my posse runs in simply can’t happen on $100 and 24 hours…

Thirdly, I have to say that I am shocked that Gordana went home. Goodness, of all the designers, she was the most consistent, the highest quality, and the most competent in translating most of the challenges. I think we will see wonderful things from Gordana–of the lot I would choose her to design and create something for me before any of the others, that’s for sure!

It will be interesting to see the three ladies pull off something for Bryant Park. Fashion is a hard nut to crack–if anything I am personally anti-fashion, that’s for sure, so it’s hard for me to wrap my head around what appears to me to be a “game” that dictates to a flock of sheep what is “good” and what is “bad”, but I guess I’m never gonna get it so I can’t be too judgmental, can I? Part of me is happy that I don’t understand fashion–I think perhaps as an industrial “concept” fashion is going through so many changes that one can’t define it easily anyway, so I’m in good company. I certainly don’t want to wear something that makes me feel good simply because others think I look good… I guess I just don’t run with the kind of crowd where other’s opinions of my appearance are that important… But that’s me knockin’ something I just don’t get so why bother?

Suffice to say, I guess Project Runway is good television for my particular consumer bent–those push-up bra commercials will linger in my mind for a while, and I guess that’s what TV is about anymore–selling advertising, right?

I still don’t understand Nina Garcia’s opinions from week to week–“Take a chance–no that’s too much! Too safe, not safe enough…” Oy. Not sure I’d be a subscriber to Marie Claire since I just don’t get her…

Meeeeow! Okay. Claws in, Corey!

Anyway, for once I was intrigued by the episode and I’m curious for the next one.  Live life with Relish!


Merrily we stitch along…

I’m still at La Jolla, working as overhire on their show, Bonnie and Clyde. It’s going very well for me–we are getting a lot done and I am learning a lot about working with materials that I haven’t had much of a chance to develop skills around.

We’ve been making women’s slips and period bras, dresses and tops, as well as working with china silk and silk georgette, stripes and plaids… I must admit, I sometimes feel like I’m all thumbs when I try to work with delicate materials that don’t have much body to them… I am used to working with wools and such, doing menswear. Those kinds of materials are much more sturdy, with a weight and feel that allows for a heavier “hand” when manipulating them.

But these soft, flimsy fabrics require a much gentler touch that’s almost excruciatingly mind-numbing… Even the smallest needle in my sewing machine irreparably damages the pieces I insert under my machine’s presser foot, and the feed dogs of my machine seem to simply chew up the materials regardless of how attentive I can be… I am learning to handle the gossamer fabrics with a graceful hand but it is not coming easily…

Im also learnin a bit about knits… I’m not sure, but I think that the refined knitting that we wear today (like jersey knit and t-shirt knit) is a relatively contemporary invention when it comes to clothing… Those kinds of small weaves simply weren’t possible in the past by hand. As a consequence, since most of my sewing is in historical reproduction, I don’t have much experience working with knits–most clothing throughout history has been done with weaves. So stretch fabrics, and the techniques required to sew them are all very “alien” to me. But with this show, I’ve been able to play with some knits and learned some new stuff that I can’t wait to try at home.

Ever heard of Wooly Nylon?  wooly_nylon_web Oh my goodness what an invention!!! I was able to sew with it on my regular Bernina home machine (a 930), and a regular straight stitch suddenly became a stretch stitch! I couldn’t believe it! No special settings or equipment–it hit me that now I can actually sew knits at home with my regular machine and not have to switch a bunch of settings and such. Can you say “ecstatic”?? This opens up a whole new world for me and what I can produce now.

On top of that, the home serger that was in the shop at La Jolla is the exact same model that I have at home: A Juki MO-735. So I was able to learn about chain stitches and cover stitches while getting paid for it! I was using what I was learning on the garments I was building, and storing that knowledge for use later at home. I am so excited for this new potential! What an awesome experience this has been!

Anyway, I go in to work today at 1:00pm to assemble some mockups for some menswear we are building (finally, some familiar territory), and finish up a 1930’s diner apron that we are slamming together. I am listening to Robert Jordan’s “Eye of the World” from his Wheel of Time Series, and (being the typical male geek that I am) I’m really enjoying it. Boys with swords. Yada yada yada! : )

Okay back to work!  More later!  Live life with Relish!

Project Runway Thoughts for October 22 Episode

Good grief.

Maybe I am way too opinionated for my own good. Maybe I am totally ignorant of what fashion is and isn’t. Maybe I’m simply too dense to “get it”. But after watching the Oct. 22 episode of Project Runway, I have to say I’m proud that I’m apparently “clueless.”

Some things really stuck out to me tonight.

To begin, the comment “Those weren’t fashion, those were clothes.” Wh-wh-WHAT? I guess I don’t know anyone that wears anything fashionable then, because in my world clothes are fashion. The people I know may not be able to afford the upscale clothing that is marketed as “fashion” nowadays, but in the end it’s still clothing. And I think Michael Khors’s comment illustrated a major problem with the fashion industry today: people are too independent today to be told what “fashion” is and isn’t. People wear what they like, and what they feel makes them look good. And other people’s opinions about that are becoming less and less important… We are in the era of “ur-Fashion”, and the quicker the fashion industry realizes that the better off they will be…

Everyone that I know grew up in an era when waves of different fashion expressions each held the stage at different times… Grunge, Goth, Rockabilly, Punk, Glam, Annie Hall, Laura Ashley, Retro, etc.–all of them extremes in their own right. Wearing an “extreme” isn’t so unusual anymore. People wear what’s appropriate for particular situations, what they happen to like, or simply what makes them feel good. That is not dictated by a Fashion Council anymore, it’s dictated by what’s available and one’s own sense of personal taste.

Having 4 panelists passing down judgements about what looks good and what doesn’t somehow strikes me as profoundly backward and prideful for some reason… There is a fashion style out there for everyone’s tastes now–it’s too late to make blanket pronouncements regarding what’s “fashionable” anymore… Mass media has blown that privilege out of the hands of a select few and thrust it securely into the consumer’s. Witness the variety of looks on, the plethora of fashion magazines, the prominence of online clothing purchases, the DIY/Handmade movement… The overly simplistic era of “colors for the season” (for example) has evaporated in the face of a new dynamic that is much too individual for any pat dictates to be credible anymore…

This episode demonstrated one thing to me: Mila Jovovich was the only judge that was humble enough to admit that her opinion was just her opinion, while the rest of the judges apparently continue to believe they actually have a tack on what the general populace thinks is good and bad fashion. They may be in positions of power and authority, but I don’t think that means their ideas are better or more relevant than anyone else’s anymore, especially in today’s society. It simply means they’ve demonstrated some talent and ability, someone believed in them, and they played their cards right to get to where they are. Tim Gunn summed it up perfectly at the end of the episode: “Personal tastes.”

I may be coming off a bit harsh, and that’s certainly not my intention. But I do believe that our concept of what is fashionable has changed forever because of our new ability to cater to our own desires and preferences that has developed in this era of global communication. And regarding Project Runway specifically–I am not sure that the ability to meet 4 judges standards and complete an artificial challenge qualifies a person to be called a legitimate fashion designer anymore… Given what’s happened to our contemporary world with the advent of the internet and the freedom of choice it offers, I’m not sure if fashion is as relevant as it used to be…

Can’t we just make stuff that we like and try hard to find others who like it enough to buy it? Maybe our creations and creativity aren’t what’s “wrong”, maybe it’s our ability to find the right consumers for it… And maybe we should stop worrying about what’s fashionable and start thinking about wearing what makes us happy… Because honestly, folks, is the stamp of approval of out of touch fashionistas really what we should be striving for? And ultimately, is our quest for personal relevance reliant upon someone else to pronounce that we’ve acquired it?

I guess I have too much faith in individuals to express themselves to believe that…

Anyway. Whew! This was a mouthful! LOL! Until next time, live life with Relish!

Costuming and Fashion: One of these things is not like the other…

Okay this is bit of a long one. Wow, do I have a mouthful to say tonight! And it’s perfect to start out the new direction of this blog. AND it’s all about the latest episode of Project Runway, which aired Thursday, September 24.

The challenge for the designer/contestants was to create a look for a character in one of several movie genres: Western, Film Noir, Period, Science Fiction/Fantasy, and Action/Adventure. It had to be completed in one day, and they had $150.

When I heard the challenge, I thought “Cool! This is right up my alley!”

And then I saw the results, and I was reminded how frustrating it is to be undervalued as a costume designer in the face of the fashion industry.

Tonight’s blog is about the definition of “Costume”. What is a costume, really? Is it a subset of fashion? Is it a matter of degree? Or is it something altogether completely separate?

No. A costume is fashion. However, a costume is much more overtly defined by a purpose and function that fashion doesn’t have to deal with.

First, a costume has a purpose. In a sense, fashion does as well, but not as explicitly defined as a costume’s. A costume is worn as part of a larger, collaborative effort that has a clear purpose: a performance of some kind, whether it’s to a party or as part of a production that’s filmed or live. A uniform is also considered a costume: it clearly delineates a person as a part of a larger whole separate from everyone else.

Second, a costume (unlike fashion) must support the vision of how that purpose is expressed. That may be focused through the eyes of a particular director or team, a studio, a bride, a choreographer, a corporate executive, or even a government.

Third, the costume must meet the dictates of a host of different “parameters” that are inherent to the nature of the expression. Is it a script? A cultural ritual like graduation or a wedding? Is it the impression desired for a fast food restaurant? Or the functionality of camouflage in a combat setting? How much time, money, and personnel is there to assemble it?

My experience is in theatre. My designs are regulated by a host of logistics that I have little, if any, control over. These include the script, the concept of the piece, and the genre. The purpose of the event dictates how those logistics are dealt with–is it better to get the message of the play across by putting it in period or should we place Arthur Miller’s pilgrims from “The Crucible” on the moon? Does the language have a poetic quality that can be abstracted somehow (putting everyone in foam rubber, for example), or do we need to put everyone in Masterpiece Theatre realism?

Fashion doesn’t deal with these quandaries. Instead of a script, fashion deals with the parameters set down by one’s particular “Style Tribe”.

What’s a style tribe? It’s the difference between what the sorority girls wear and the corporate executives. The movie, “Legally Blonde”, was an exercise in demonstrating conflicting style tribes. Tribes are defined by social class, age, gender, climate, politics, philosophies, occassion, or any number of different factors. And there are subsets: colleges have a wide variety of style tribes, including the artists, the stoners, the business students, the jocks, the science geeks, and the aforementioned sorority girls.


Each of these tribes comes with a host of what is “appropriate to wear” and what is not. Stepping outside the boundaries of what each tribe has determined as acceptable marks you as “not one of us”. (Incidentally, that’s why clothing can be terribly important to younger folk–fitting in is part of one’s self identity…) New Yorkers dress differently than Southern Californians. The Howells look different from Marianne and Ginger.


You get the point.

The problem with this week’s challenge on Project Runway was that they asked people to design a costume for a character in a movie genre. What they really wanted was a piece of fashion that was influenced by a movie genre.

Two VERY different things.


Let’s look at some movies that can help… These examples are costumes that were influenced by fashion. (Sometimes it’s helpful to look at the opposite situation.)  Please note that it’s a given in the costume design world that before the mid-1970’s, historical accuracy in film was “optional”. Some of our most beloved films that we regard as “period” are far from it.

For example: “My Fair Lady”. That musical is set in March of 1912. But you couldn’t tell that from the costumes: they’re about as 1960’s as you can get! Eliza’s traveling outfit, her Ascot Races dress, even her ball gown are all heavily influenced by the styles and fashions of 1964.



Another example: “Cleopatra”, with Elizabeth Taylor. Are you kidding me? Period accuracy would have warranted an X-rating. No, no, no… There was no such a thing as showing too much skin back in the Egyptian era…



These examples below use costuming in a more appropriate manner.  These films purposely mix period styles and contemporary influences into a look all their own: Bladerunner, for example. This is a sci-fi movie that is incredibly influenced by the film noir genre, on purpose, as a choice. So much of it was straight out of the 1940’s it could have been filmed in black and white…


Or how about Moulin Rouge? Those costumes were purposely enhanced from their period-accurate originals to include splashes of bright, garish colors and contrasting textures. They started with research. They made them non-period when they wanted them to be. They purposely blurred the lines between period accurate representation of historical fashion and created their interpretations of it in costume.


Today, genre accuracy in costuming is a highly valued skill: Lord of the Rings, Shakespeare in Love, Mad Men, Titanic, Evita, Memoirs of a Geisha, Elizabeth: The Golden Age, Chicago, Milk, Schindler’s List, Dances with Wolves, Star Wars… All of these have their own parameters of what fits and what doesn’t, most of them dictated by what is appropriate historically or as part of the “vision” that makes the purpose of the film/TV program more clearly evident. It doesn’t have to be “real” or historically accurate, it’s what fits the parameters. Working from accuracy to non-accuracy as a choice. On purpose.

So. What did we get on Project Runway? We didn’t get genre accurate costumes.  We didn’t even get historical fashion with elaboration.  We got contemporary fashion inspired by movie genres. Without a real grounding in costume history, there was no way they could accurately represent these genres. Inevitably, they created “versions” of them that were clearly not accurately part of those genres at all…  Here’s a link to the pics of the final results.

Our contemporary sensibility doesn’t read contemporary-fusion into historical accuracy as a choice. It reads it as inaccurate, or wrong. Only when the degree of debarkation from the original period’s style is clearly strong enough to distinguish the difference do we accept it as a “take” or “interpretation” or “stylization” of what is, in our heads, the “real thing”.

There are too many that know too much to get away with faking it anymore.

I’m not advocating simply replicating the past. What’s the point in that? But what I am saying is that on this particular episode, the purpose/function was not made clear. They were designing for genres as style tribes, not as part of a production. They weren’t designing costumes, they were designing fashions that had costume elements.

It really, REALLY disturbs me that costume is somehow denigrated and considered “lesser than” by so-called fashionistas. Being a costume designer is HARD. You actually work with other people’s ideas and collaborate–a runway dress does not have it’s own opinions. An actor does!! Costuming requires a real operating knowledge of costume and fashion history, and the ability to implement it when appropriate, a lot of people skills and a host of other widely varied skills.

“Too costumey” as an insult? I think not. What about the retro movement? What about the up-cycling/second-hand movement? Goth? Punk? Rockabilly? And what about those Prada shoes that one wears to the office? Dressing up as costuming? Hmmm….






“Costumey” is not synonymous with “inappropriate or overdone fashion”. It is not “too dramatic”, or “fake”. That’s insulting.

What is really at issue is how one personally determines when the degree of “dramatic flair” in one’s fashion sensibility is too much for one’s own taste, situation, etc.

And it’s funny how I look at runway shows today, and all I see is fashion dipping more and more into costuming’s dramatic flair by leaps and bounds, stretching that imaginary line of “appropriateness/too much drama” further and further. Given different defining parameters and purposes and logistics, those clothes would be considered costumes without any changes whatsoever.

It’s all about context.

In a sense, one could say that everything we wear is a costume, and that we pull attire from our closets based on outside parameters every day, depending on what we’re doing, or how we’re feeling, or the weather, or whatever… If anything, it seems to me that fashion is a contemporary subset of costuming, not the other way around.

And that’s my overly long 2¢.

Life life with Relish! And wear that costume well! : )

Poiret Preview

Today I am proud to preview my latest experiment–a recreation of a 1923 Poiret Cocoon Coat! I have yet to get the button closure on it, but I am terribly excited about where this is going… I have longed to do something elegant and drapey like this for a long time, and think that my floral painting might look really good on it, especially around the hem up to the sleeves. This was made out of black velveteen using a pattern: Folkwear #503.



There are some adjustments that I would like to make to the pattern, as well as some alterations and piecing that I would like to do… I am not thrilled about using someone else’s pattern for things–I’d like to adapt it to my own, so I’ve got some thinking to do… If you had your druthers, what would you do? I’m thinking there is a way to make it more contemporary. Just haven’t hit on it yet. : )



But here it is, sans center front closure. I would love to have some feedback if you’re willing… Perhaps some vertical panels in the front and one in the back? Hmm…



Until next time, Live Life with Relish!

How I Sew, Part 4: The Last of the Vest Tutorial

This is Part 4 of my “How I Sew” tutorial on a festive holiday vest.

The previous two installments are here for Part 1 and here for Part 2 and here for Part 3.

Last time, we had jut completed the collar. We were getting ready to sew the lining to the outside fabric!

After pinning it all together along the edges, I sewed, clipped, and graded all the seams, making sure to carefully trim out all the points that would be turned in (getting rid of all the excess fabric can help prevent lumpiness and increase the sharpness of the corners) and all the curves were appropriately clipped (so they would actually turn where they are supposed to and lay flat).


Pin Pin Pin...

Stitching directions

Stitching directions

After that’s completed, a quick check of the center front would be a good idea. On plaid fabrics, or any print that has a clear “line” in it, one should make sure that the center front closure is lined up properly. Having a line that doesn’t go straight up and down can look sloppy. The lines in the fabric need to be the same distance from the edge of the center front fold all the way up and down the front, otherwise it will look as if the stitching didn’t follow the line (regardless of whether it did or not). If it doesn’t work, open up the center front seam line, and try adjusting it. At this point, you can follow the print of the fabric if you’re not more than a 1/4″ away from your drawn stitch line. Any more than that and it’ll look very odd…

"Straight line, Ladies and Gentlemen!  Single file!"

"Straight line, Ladies and Gentlemen! Single file!"

Once the inside lining and the outside fabric are together, turned out, and pressed, we attack the shoulders.

Sew them up so the neckline is open. You don’t want to sew up the neck because we need to insert the collar later.

Shoulder Seam Pinning

Shoulder Seam Pinning

If you haven’t already (and it’s a good idea to do so way back when you cut out your pieces) stay stitch the necklines, and clip. You’ll then pin the neck to the outside of the vest only, not the lining.

Neckline Shmeckline

Neckline Shmeckline

A Mistake

A Mistake

Once that’s done, it gets sewn, and then clipped and graded. The lining fabric gets pulled up, clipped, turned under, and slipstitched to the stitching line that was just sewn.  The picture below is  one that I took in the middle of a mistake–I was going to pin it to the lining instead of the outside layer.  Don’t let that happen to you…  Make sure you pin the collar to the outside layer.

Hand sewing is easier when you use beeswax on your thread. It makes the thread stiffer and doesn’t allow it to twist up on itself as easily.

A Hand Sewing Necessity: Beeswax

A Hand Sewing Necessity: Beeswax

Thread with Body is Better

Thread with Body is Better

After finishing the collar, we finally turn our attention to the buttonholes. Placing these can be done with a pattern guide, an expandable button placer, or just by measuring. Since I was working with a plaid, I had to follow the dictates of the pattern of the fabric, so I placed my buttons accordingly on lines (and between lines) down the center front.

Most home machines come with instructions to do buttonholes. If not, pick up a handy sewing guide and follow those instructions.

Buttonholes!  Almost done!

Buttonholes! Almost done!

Transfer your marks on one side to the other, and sew on your buttons.

Button. Button! Who's got the Button?

Button. Button! Who's got the Button?

And Voila!!! The vest is done! We did it!!

Taa Daaa!

Taa Daaa!

There are some general principles that I should share with you regarding sewing that I follow as good practice:

1) Press as you go. Nothing makes a garment look more homemade than a lack of a good pressing job. Garments look much much better when you take the time to constantly press your fabric while you are in process.

2) Use a sharp sewing needle on your machine. Part 2 has a picture of what happens when you don’t use a fresh needle.

3) Grading can reduce bulk. Cutting all the seams so they don’t lay on top of each other at the same distance can prevent ugly lumps.

4) Being careful and going slowly is better than plowing through things.

Okay, I think that’s it for now! More about what’s happening in Relished Artistry soon! Have fun, and live life with Relish!

New Arrivals!

Whee! I had a good day today! Not only did I slam an entire project together that I am tickled pink about, but my black velveteen fabric arrived from UPS. Finally! And on top of that, I got a Folkwear pattern in the mail for a Poiret Opera cloak, which I will be using as inspiration for my own…

I am so excited!! Now I have a whole slew of projects to get done, and that makes me feel really good.

I still haven’t sold anything yet (and that really bums me out, but I can’t wallow in those thoughts for long), but I am confident that these new items will be different and fun. I look forward to doing some velvet painting on those opera cloaks, and seeing if they attract much attention. I’m also going to dive into a new series of coats that aren’t made out of velour, so they’ll be infinitely lighter and more wearable.

But tonight, just as a preview, I’m posting pics of the project I slammed together last night and today. A really nice piece that’s deceptively warm… A vest that my partner named “Gay Apparel”, so I think that’ll be this particular festive holiday-wear series of clothes… Kinda Christmas/Mardi Gras/Circus, I think! I really dig the standing collar. It’ll be up on Etsy and Artfire soon!

Until next time–Live life with Relish!

The Side Front.  Note the standing collar...

The Side Front. Note the standing collar...

The alternating panels seem quite "carnival-esque" to me...

The alternating panels seem quite "carnival-esque" to me...

The Collar can go up, down, or mid-way like this...

The Collar can go up, down, or mid-way like this...

Growing, Friends, and Inspiration

I got two more garments done today, as I sewed the buttons on two vests that I will be posting in the next couple of days to my two online vending sights.  Here’s a couple pics as a preview:
Vestredfrontpreview Vestredbackpreview
Interestingly, the way to make sure that more people see your stuff is to not post all of it at once.  A wise online entrepreneur using Etsy and Artfire and other handmade-centric merchant sites won’t post all their inventory in the beginning.  One trickles it in, because the merchant sites all have “recently posted” features.  The more you spread out the posting of your items the better it is, because then you show up more often in that mechanism and more people see your post.  If you post everything all at once, you’ve sort of wasted a lot of opportunity to be seen over an extended period of time.  So I’ll be posting these new vests over the next week, but not both together.

I managed to put together a new “Page” to my Facebook profile, which is centered on Relished Artistry, and sent out a mass email to all the people on my friends list (regardless of how I knew them) so they could join as “fans”, and not have to be constantly peppered with business-related posts through my own personal profile.  I’m gonna try really hard to keep the two separate and distinct, as I don’t like the idea of using my friends to promote my business.  My ethic is this:  I do what I do and I have what I have.  I don’t need to push it to within an inch of it’s life on all of my friends who don’t really care.  That’s not cool in my book.  I’ll share new stuff once in a while, but I want to keep my friends not lose them to capitalism.  I’m excited about the Page–we’ll see what happens.

I was told through my partner that my greenery looks like grape leaves.  I think I’m gonna run with that… I am gonna start practicing bunches of grapes and see how they look on velvet.  We’ll see what happens.  I’m also exploring pushing the “medieval” feel of things, and considering using “illustrated manuscripts” as inspiration for artistic expression.  We’ll see.  I’d like to figure out something to actually say with that style, not simply decorate stuff.  I’d like to incorporate some kind of statement that’s fun and interesting, as well as artistically expressive to wear, but we’ll see.  I have some thinking to do about that.

Okay, more later!

Live life with Relish!

Process Report #1

For this next project, I’m going to walk you through the steps that I use to create an original piece of wearable art.  As the 1950’s coat is created, I’m going to post photographs each step of the way.  That way, you all can see how I get these things created.

The first step is “Inspiration”.

People are inspired in lots of different ways by lots of different things.  For my previous projects, I was inspired by my great-grandmother’s china paintings of roses and such, and wanted to be able to replicate that feeling on a piece of fabric.  I’m still working on capturing her essence, but it will come with time.

This garment was inspired by the color of the velvet.  I had not worked on an obviously neutral background before, and I am realizing that I paint in a much more “free” manner when I am not burdened with representational realism in the subjects I paint.  So I was looking to create something that was a bit more abstract, and the grey velvet reminded me of rain and fog filled drab and dreary days.  What could spice up those kinds of days but something beautiful to look at?

I chose a 1950’s pattern because of the idea of using abstract painting.  And when I think of abstract art, I think of it really starting to come into it’s own in the 1950’s for some reason.

The type of abstraction… Hmmm…  Well, I had completed a project for a play a long while ago that had a velour robe inspired by Van Gogh’s “Starry Night”.  I really enjoyed creating the swirls on that robe, and I had received so many compliments regarding it, I thought I might try something like that.  (In actuality, the experience of the robe had inspired me to create a wearable art company and continue painting on fabric for Relished Artistry in general…)

ProcessStep1 msnd090a_171_big ProcessStep3

I took these two ideas, and tried a painting sample on the fabric.  I use Jacquard Fabric Paints–Neopaque, Lumier, Textile Traditionals, and Dye-na-Flow–all by the same company. After experimenting with these thoughts and trying to exploit the metallic nature of the Lumier Paints, I concluded that the colors and the application could come across as quite complimentary to the neutrality of the velvet.  The cut of the coat would simply enhance it’s “period painting” quality.

And so, I transfered the “medium” size to a 50# craft paper (so I wouldn’t need to cut up the pattern paper itself), selected a button closure and a lining, and now I am going to cut the fabric out and start painting.


And now, all there is left to do is dive in!  More soon!

Until then, live life with relish!

“Autumn Relish” Preview

Tonight, I started on my next project.  It dawned on me that I didn’t tell you all about my previous one…

I am expanding out of the realm of roses… hehe…  I tried some autumn leaves this time on some beautiful auburn velvet.  It’s a short jacket, sz. 20, without a lining.  Since it’s velvet, it’s just a shmata, really, but the collar is a bit heavier so it will provide a tad bit of warmth around the shoulders.  It’s not completed yet, but here’s a few pics.  The leaves cascade down in curls to the hem, and they look rather muted straight on.  But viewed from an angle, the color really pops.  Rich oranges, reds, golds, and metallics make the leaves rich and bright!

I also decided to start putting a “pseudo-watermark” on all the pics, just in case.  Since I haven’t found anything like this, and I’m sure the idea will get lifted eventually by someone, I’d rather not make it too easy for ’em.  Haha!  : )

Next up, a vintage recreation of a 1950’s women’s coat.  Grey velvet with some abstracted designs around the hem, ala Van Gogh, but not quite…  I’ll find an artist that does similar stuff to it between now and when I get the preview pics up.

Until then, live life with relish!




Lunch with Friends

Today I had lunch at the Big Kitchen with my friends, Ingrid Helton and Shirley Pierson.  Ingrid was my supervisor at the Old Globe Theatre for many years where I worked on her construction team.  She taught me everything I know about mens tailoring, and has since gone on to start her own line of children’s clothing and had a toy store for a while.  Shirley just graduated with her MFA in Costume Design from SDSU, and is now working as a professional costume designer.   I met her at the university I used to work at, where she was a non-traditional student as her husband taught there.

Ingrid and Shirley and I had a wonderful conversation about a lot of different things, and we’re working out a lot of different kinds of plans and ideas for the future.  But at one point in the conversation, I shared with them my fears regarding the development of this business and my first tenuous steps into this new industry.

I think I am one that likes to plan…  It is part of my theatrical training to know where I should be ending up, and working toward that goal/reality step by step by step.  Theatre is very much a process, and I spent a lot of money getting taught that process over several years, and earned two degrees as I learned it.  As a theatre person, it’s my instinct to need to plan things out–without a plan, one gets hurt.  The old adage goes, “Cheap.  On time.  Looks good.  Pick two.”  Well, the art of theatrical planning is to make sure that adage doesn’t apply, or at least work well within their parameters.

But this Relished Artistry endeavor is a bit different…  I realized I know where I want to go, but I’m taking this baby step by baby step because I am unsure of how to get there.  I feel very much like a toddler.  I know I want to go from point A to point B, but actually getting the muscles to obey my commands is another story… And knowing that my brain is just learning to send the right signals to the right pathways to get what I want is going to take practice…

It was an incredibly reassuring lunch being with these two ladies.  They both have experience in different ends of what I am doing.  And it’s heartening to hear their words of encouragement and validation that I am indeed on the right path.  I can’t do anything until I get a “line” or a “collection” established.  Worrying about the next steps that I don’t know is pointless.  It will come.  One thing at a time.  The end goal is clear, but like that toddler I need to concentrate on one leg moving at a time.  It is also good to know that they are there for whatever advice I may need.  First things first:  establish a body of work.

So.  To that end, I am sharing with you a “sneak preview” of one of my next projects.  Club wear.  I’m calling it the “Hot Relish” series.  : )    Here’s a pic!  Until next time, live life with relish!


Dress Forms Arrive!

Well, the dress forms are here!  I ordered, according to the shipping invoice, a size 8 cover for a medium form, and a size 12 cover for a medium-large form.

What I got was two of the (apparently) same size forms, and two covers labeled size 8 and 12.  The 8 was way too small for one of the forms, and the 12 was way too big.  So I took in the 12 and let out the 8.

Now I have two dress forms of exactly the same size.  <groan>  Both have identical measurements of 45 bust, 36 waist, and 45 hips.  Now how on EARTH are either of those even approaching a size 8 or a size 12??  They’re both size 20.


This isn’t bad.  Frankly, I’m gonna hold on to them because I want them, and making clothes for women who didn’t have model figures was something I want to do, so it’s not a bad investment.  I’m just a tad… Frustrated.  Either those foam forms are supposed to squeeze down to within an inch of their lives, or they actually have no idea what it is they’ve sent.   Or they do know.  They just don’t care.  Regardless, I will be ordering some smaller forms in the future, just not right now.  I have to worry about an iron first…  I can crush down the forms with wide elastic and sports bandages, so I’m not worried too much.  I need to get an iron first, but after that I’ll invest in a new dress form that’s a tad smaller.

On a side note, the average women’s size in America is 14.  I’m sorry, but I guess I don’t know many women that fit into a size 14.  I look at that dress form and think it looks normal.  But seeing as how I’m used to fitting women at the university for the last 10 years that were size 2 and 4, I guess my eye is a bit askew.  Regardless, they’re here!

And the upside is that now I can take some pictures on forms, which I have provided.  Whew!  More where they came from coming soon!

Life life with relish!









Some Confusing Errors

Oh good grief!  This is why one goes through a professional to get one’s business formed: paperwork errors.

I finally got word back from the state of California regarding my LLC application filing, and they sent it back…

Apparently, I followed the “do it yourself” Nolo guide a little too closely.  See, Nolo has you write out everything in one’s Articles of Organization in a format that is then submitted to the state, making a big deal about some of the pieces including the “Purpose of LLC” section.  So not knowing what I was doing, I followed their instructions and pondered a statement regarding the “purpose” of Relished Artistry, and included that in my Articles of Organization.

Like a good little boy, I also followed the links that Nolo suggested, and went to the online website for filing the paperwork to see what was there.  Lo and behold, there’s an actual form one fills out (LLC-1) that has spaces for all the information the Nolo book just took 3 chapters to describe.  So I fill it out and send BOTH to the Secretary of State in California.

Well, apparently, the purpose section of my non-formatted document, and the purpose section of the pre-made form didn’t match up.  Nolo suggested heartily that I put in wording in my purpose section that described my LLC in particular–Relished Artistry’s actual purpose.  But the form that the State provides has boilerplate language that is the minimum required by the state.  Essentially it says the purpose of the LLC is to be able to do whatever LLC’s are legally able to do.  That’s it.  I included that in my own document (because legally I had to) but I had also followed Nolo’s advice and added language that referred specifically to Relished Artistry’s purpose as producing wearable art.

So when I submitted them both together, they conflicted.  And they sent it back, saying that I either need to make both the form and the document match (since they felt the document was an “attachment” to my application) or just not file my own document.

So I sent it back today, simply dropping the Nolo document and resubmitting it.  AARGH.  Guess that shows me what’s up.  : (


Live life with Relish!

“Golden Rose” Coat and Purse

Well, here are some pics of the newest stuff. Coat is Sz. 18, forest green satin lining, genuine bone buttons!  The purse is loosely structured, with a magnetic clasp in the center to keep it closed.

Next, I’ll be working on a new coat with some lighter velvet instead of velour, so we’ll see how that works out!  Woohoo!

Still no word from the State, but I have no doubt it will come eventually.  My dress forms were ordered 4 days ago, and they’re coming UPS Ground, so it’ll be sometime next week (hopefully).  I’m still scouring the internet for more interesting goodies, and found another blog that I was really intrigued by.  Hopefully, you will be, too!  It has some really cute stuff, but most of all it’s about “beginning” crafters sort of like me.  It’s very validating!  Enjoy!

Indie House

Until next time, live life with relish!





The “Midnight Trellis” Handbag

Good grief!  Never make this purse out of thick cotton velour!  Argh!!!  My fingers will never forgive me, and  my poor poor sewing machine…  I swear I was sewing through so many layers my machine probably felt like it was hammering through metal…  <sigh>  But it’s done!

I think I may pursue a different kind of approach when making these handbags in the future.  I learned a LOT from constructing this.  First, I  learned that the first one will always take longer than the rest.  Haha!  I made so many mistakes, and then had to backtrack over and over, that I feel like I have a perception of the purse-building process that will come in handy in the future!  Second, make sure that you know how the purse is going to close before you even start.  The closures have to be inserted early early early in the process.  Third, never make just one.

I guess that goes for everything–if you’re gonna make one, go ahead and make two or three at the same time, just to get the “process” down in your head.  There’s a lot that can be learned not only from the construction of things, but the process in which one constructs multiples together.  I see that making more than one of these purses at the same time is actually a more economic way of spending time.

But it’s done.  And today, I make one for the first coat I made…  The one with yellow roses.

Until next time–Live life with Relish!


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