Sneak Preview: DIY Multifunctional Lace Dress

Aaargh, I almost never do this…but I’ve been back-to-the-wall lately with having a root-canalled tooth (I had a root canal done on it THREE YEARS AGO!) get an infection last month and create an abcess that’s now eating away a hole in jaw (so I’ve been feeling like utter crap for about 5+ weeks and am now on super-heavy-duty antibiotics), a bout of 3 colds in a row ending with the flu last week, and huge project after midterm after huge project due for my classes, not to mention a couple of other personal projects that have all had deadlines this past week.  And I have to do prop design and creation and set styling for a video shoot coming up this week and I have barely had time to even start to prep that. I’ve been trying to put together a worthwhile post since Friday but tonight yet again it’s not going to happen.:-(

So I’ll just post some sneaky teaser photos of my next DIY…

It’s lace, it’s EASY, and it has a little secret…Shhhh!;-)  Stay tuned for the tutorial, coming up soon….

Now back to bed so I can fight this infection more and get up nice and early for an emergency root canal (well, re-root-canal, in my case) for tomorrow.

Hope everyone had a great weekend!


~If you liked this post, please share it!~


Leave Comment

LAST DAY in my 30 Days of Outfits Challenge

 Rhinestone Dangle Earrings: Forever 21.  Small Crystal Studs: handmade by me.  Dress with Cut-Out Back and Swarovski Crystal Detailing: handmade by me.  Magazine Clutch: DIY.  Pleated Satin Shoes: Charlotte Russe.

Day 30 in my 30 Days of Outfits Challenge: November 30.

Boy, these 30 days have flown by!

I felt it appropriate to end these 30 days in the Dress That Began It All, also known as the Bacardi Limon dress.

No, it didn’t mark the start of my DIY’ing!  (I’ve been making my own stuff since I was 9.)

This dress was officially the start of my Fashion Career.

Rewind to Winter of 2006…I was a stay-at-home mom to a baby just over a year old, and my days were filled from morning to night with bottlesdiaperslaundrycleaningplayingwithbaby / bottlesdiaperslaundrycleaningreadingtobaby / bottlesdiaperslaundrycleaningmakingdinnerforeveryone / bottlesdiaperslaundrycleaningcomfortingbaby etc.  I did have a Mom’s Club meeting once a week, but otherwise that was my life.  It had been so long since I had done anything creative.  It was a very difficult time for me.

I began to have more stamina to stay awake after Lil Tot had gone down for the night, so I would try to catch up on email and surf the web a little.  One night I happened upon a posting about a design competition, sponsored by and The Daily – where entrants had to sketch a dress inspired by the flavor of Bacardi Limon.

Now, being a nondrinker, I had no idea what Bacardi Limon even was, but I read the press releases about the new flavor and over the course of 2 evenings or so I sketched 6 designs, inked and watercolored them, scanned them, and then sent them in to the contest.  It was right before Christmas and I had been staying up late trying to get all my Christmas cards written, and instead for two evenings I just immersed myself in what I loved: designing and drawing.

And then I completely forgot about them and the contest and everything.  I just figured I didn’t win.  Life went on, pretty much unchanged.

And then in February I heard the phone ring while I was lying down next to Lil Tot trying to lull him into taking his morning nap (which he refused to do unless I was lying down with him).  I couldn’t answer it and it went to the answering machine.  After Lil Tot finally fell asleep despite the interruption, I went to check on the message.

And was utterly stumped by its contents.  I had to play it a few times to understand it.  Someone who I didn’t know, from some number in a New York area code, calling from a something-Group, wanted me to call her immediately about some competition.  And then I realized what it was, called, and was told  

I was one of the 5 finalists they had picked from more than 300 entries around the United States in that Bacardi Limon design competition!

The dress design that was chosen as a finalist.

A whirlwind ensued.  It turned out that the PR group had picked the dress I had designed that had a cut-out in the back, like a lemon slice, as the finalist entry.  I had to make the dress I designed.  I was being flown to New York to compete in a live “Cut-and-Sew” competition “just like Project Runway” that would be televised and everything.  I made another dress in black to take with me to New York and wear while there.  I went in March 2007.  It was the first time I had been away from Lil Tot so long (I’d only been away from him at the most for 3 hours up until then, since he had born 15 months prior).  I met the other finalists in the competition, some who’ve remained my friends to this day.  I did the live Cut-and-Sew, where I made yet another version of the yellow dress. 

At the live cut-and-sew competition, where we had just about 7 hours to make our dresses again.
At the event after-party.  Photo by FashionWireImage’s Dmitris Kambouris.

I didn’t win, but I returned home determined to make my 15 minutes of fame into something worthwhile.  I parlayed that press coverage and local interest into a great story for me founding a misses’ line of clothing and jewelry.  I hired a party planner and PR whiz who helped me plan a launch party for the line, inviting the who’s who of the fashion elite and helping me with press releases, gift bags, branding, the works.  I hired a patternmaker to make and grade the patterns, a samplemaker to make the samples.  I bought fabric and had it shipped from LA to Hawaii, where I lived at the time.  I produced a line, had a runway show, trotted it to local boutiques trying to sell it.  A few pieces ended up in a few places. 

 The models from the launch party and runway show, myself, my patternmaker, and samplemaker.  Photo by Elliot Takane.

Hub believed in me and allowed me to use our savings for this venture.  I began to produce a Winter Collection and then began to run out of money.  The previous pieces weren’t selling well, there were fit and sewing issues.  Much of it was returned.  I couldn’t pay anyone else to help me and couldn’t do it all myself anymore.  We moved to Oregon in late Fall and I officially closed the line down.  And I also reached out to to see if they wanted someone to write content for them, so I could at least stay connected to the world of fashion even if I couldn’t design.

So I wrote for them.  And wrote for them.  And started my own blog.  And wrote for it.  And wrote and contributed to other blogs and websites.  And started to design things again, on a small scale, to sell in my Etsy shop.

And here I am today.

Now all that was a bit of a tangent.:-)  I guess the point of all this is that sometimes the path from A to B is not in a straight line, and what seems tangential is actually useful experience that sets us up for something better.

I still want to design; I love designing but I HATE the manufacturing of clothing, and being financially responsible for all of it.  It’s very scary for a small, struggling family to take on ourselves.  Not a very good idea.  And it’s too much work for a single person to run an entire line by themselves, even with a patternmaker helping out.  Plus I enjoy more working within parameters – maybe not pushing boundaries so much, but working within someone else’s aesthetic or color story or mood board or whatever.

I’m glad I found that out about myself!  Who knows if I ever will get the opportunity to design for someone else…but it’s been a great journey, and I’ve learned a ton along the way.

That’s why this dress is so special: it truly marks the beginning.  (The other yellow dresses I made for the competition were kept by the PR company as far as I know.)

The dress I designed was a boatneck 50’s style flared party dress that I drafted the pattern to.  (For the yellow, I turned the yellow satin inside-out since I liked the matte side better:-)  I added a double-layer of iridescent chiffon to the hem.  The back was a complicated citrus-shaped cut-out with floating bands attached to a central ring, and Swarovski crystal “seeds” suspended in the bands.

I am a much better sewer and patternmaker now than I was then – and the back of the dress was extremely complicated.  I knew exactly what I wanted for securing the Swarovski rhinestones into the cutout, but I couldn’t find elasticized crochet cord sold by the yard.  The back was very difficult to fit properly.

The clutch was made by gluing a magazine cover onto a small clutch from Target with E-5000 glue.  Any flexible glue would work here, though.

30 Days of Outfits – ALL DIY!  What fun it’s been!

Also, if you’re curious to see how others fared, please check out Katarina from She sells sea shells, who’s been doing this Challenge along with me – you can see her last couple outfits here, here, and here.


~If you liked this post, please share it!~
Leave Comment

30 Days of Outfits Challenge: Day 18

 Chiffon-Inset Top: handmade by me.  Knit armwarmers: Claire’s.  Silver Geometric Necklace: handmade by me.  Two-finger rings: Forever 21.  Ripped Beanpole Jeans: Insight. Sia Wedge Booties;

Day 18 in my 30 Days of Outfits Challenge: November 18.  Still at home while Lil Tot recuperates.

The top is an original design of mine – if I were to make more, the pattern definitely needs some tweaks, but I love that it’s businesslike but feminine at the same time.  It’s made of lightweight suiting with a chiffon inset at the waist.

The necklace I also made, following the tutorial here by ddlai from Fatlace, who was DIY’ing a necklace she saw at Eryn Birnie.  Made from a whole bunch of sterling silver beads from the bead store – super-fun and a very striking result.

Of course, it’s November, so I need some arm-warmers to brave the temperatures.;-)

I love these jeans – I just don’t wear them enough.  I won them in a giveaway from Ladylike x Fatlace last year.  The denim is incredibly high-quality and truly keeps its shape.

I hope everybody has some fantastic plans for the weekend!  Our shoot for the pilot for this new web series is on Saturday!!  (I’m doing set dressing and production design – and I made a Shakespearean hat!)


~If you liked this post, please share it!~
Leave Comment

30 Days of Outfits Challenge: Day 11

 Rhinestone necklaces: DIY.  Pyramid Stone Necklace: Ann Taylor.  Organza Over-Jacket: hanmade by me.  White LS Top: Forever 21.  Oxidized Twisted Branch& Flower Rings: mocha (Shibuya, Japan).  Enamel Ring: unknown.  Pleat-Front Pegged Trousers: DIY.  Trouser Socks: Target.  White Perforated Orfords: 10 W Rue – thrifted.

Day 11 of my 30 Days of Outfits Challenge: November 11.

Veteran’s Day…and the day H&M finally opened in Portland!!  Yay!

So I went down there, thinking I might get a good spot in line 3 and a half hours before they were going to open.

Nope!  There were people in tents who had slept out on the sidewalk since the night before. 

It was insane!!  It was bitterly cold and the two lines stretched outside around the block, even at 8:30 AM when I stopped by.

I snapped a couple photos and then went to the fabric store instead, and then browsed YesStyle for a couple hours, filling my virtual shopping basket with pretty things from Asia, and then emptying it again.  It was somewhat of a pointless day.;-)

The necklaces I DIY’ed from some Forever 21 jewelry to make them look like some $89 necklaces from J. Crew’s catalog.  My tutorial is here.

The peach-colored top with shoulder pads I made and brought with me to last NYFW, as part of a mini-collection.  I was just trying to sound out the possibilities of developing the collection and selling to the publis.  I came to the conclusion that it was just too risky to go back into clothing production at this point in the economy.  I’m feeling a slight shift in consumer attitudes – and I’m not sure a brand-new clothing line with stuff made the same old way that we’ve always done it is the way to go.  I think things have to be different – manufacturers have to go about producing things a different way – in order to find success as a start-up in this post-consumer economy.  I’m not sure we can continue sourcing fabrics and materials, creating patterns, producing offshore in large numbers, and then pushing the finished items onto the American consumer as the New! thing, or Best! thing, or Hot! thing.  I’m not sure it’s really responsible to keep doing things the same way that’s gotten the whole industry in trouble.

At least, that’s my 2cents.

So until I figure out a better way to produce pretty clothes not utilizing brand-new fabrics, offshore labor, and manufacturing policies that cut unnecessary corners in order to squeeze out the last penny of profit, my clothing line will still remain a pipe dream.  On the one hand, I want more control over design – and virgin fabrics straight off the bolt can be fashioned into anything imagineable.  And they’re clean, available usually in large quantity, and unchanging quality.  On the other hand, fabric from the bolt is very expensive.  Using stuff that already exists (the excess clothing at the Goodwill Outlet, for example) – is far cheaper.  However, design of the final product is severely limited by what you find.  And even if you find something that works for you it’s not an item that’s in abundant, unlimited supply, either – you may find a fabulous shirt made out of lovely material at the Bins one day that you can repurpose for a bag or something – but that’s just it: ONE bag.  You can’t make a line of them, and once you sell that ONE BAG that’s it.  All that work put into producing the pattern, making a muslin, producing a sample, sourcing the notions etc. is now for naught since you can’t make the exact same thing again.  You also have to sell that one-off for an incredibly high price to justify all the work that went into it.  Or you produce a motley “line” of items that are all one-offs, made from different fabrics, that can’t be sold in multiple pieces anywhere or for low enough price points that many people can buy them.  That’s why Raquel Allegra‘s shredding work on her line using t-shirts from the LA County Jail was so ingenious – there was so much of that material available, in almost unlimited supply, and her handiwork on them imbued them with so much value the price points were easily justifiable.

Sorry – little tangent there.  It’s a very difficult balance: design innovation & high-quality materials (but with ecological and consumer waste) vs. design limitations & iffy, irreplaceable materials (but eco-friendly).  I’m open to any suggestions!

I also love looking for pleat-front trousers at thrift stores – there are so many ugly ones from the 80’s!  Just crop them and stitch the side-seams a little closer together near the ankle to taper them into the style that’s so popular now (and that I’m sure we’ll all hate come Fall of 2011).

Shoes were another fab Goodwill find…but the soles are so thin, they’re a little painful to walk in.  I keep forgetting to buy Dr. Scholl’s for them.

Tomorrow I begin work on the massive MarioKart cake for Lil Tot!  Wish me luck on the chomping flowers!;-)


~If you liked this post, please share it!~
Leave Comment

30 Days of Outfits Challenge: Day 9

 Double Heart Earrings: unknown (received 17 years ago!!).  Goldstone Overlapping Bead Necklace: handmade by me.  Convertible Heart-Button Jacket: handmade by me.  Ribbed V-Neck Top: Victoria’s Secret.  Gold Rhinestone-Detail Ring: Icing by Claire’s.  Black Enamel Ring: unknown.  13-button U.S. Navy Pants: vintage.  Wedge Suede Boots: Metro7 (Wal-Mart) Chain Detail Flap Bag: unknown (thrifted).

Day 9 of my 30 Days of Outfits Challenge: November 9.

Okay, Day 9 was actually YESTERDAY.  I know.  I’ve had this horrible cough and head cold that I picked up in France.  3 weeks and no sign of improvement!! So last night I just called it quits and went to sleep with Lil Tot.  I slept about 10 hours!! And finally I feel like that cough’s on its way out.  I guess all I needed was sleep.:-)

So sorry for the delay on that.  Yesterday I had a Parent-Teacher conference at Lil Tot’s school.  I thought to wear something slightly more businesslike than I normally do.  And it was pouring rain all day, hence the horribly-lit taken-in-my-kitchen photos.

I made this jacket awhile ago (it’s one of my original designs), and wore it to my last parent-teacher meeting at his school.  It has zipper trim and big quilted gold heart buttons.  The front ruffle and the bottom part of the sleeves are detachable.  See here for me wearing it with the ruffle attached.

The beads for the necklace I actually found at Jo-Ann’s – already strung in their “Gemstone Beads” section.  I restrung them and added the silver crimp beads, black chain, and closure.  I like that the necklace is both edgy and has a classic shape, and the subtle sparkle in the goldstone.

I was trying out something new with my lipstick, layering gold metallic shine (in the center of the lips) over an orangey-red color I got from Sephora.  It’s a little hard to tell – I probably shouldn’t have been so liberal with the gold.  And there was no saving my hair today – it was just too wet, and everything feel flat and limp.  C’est la vie!

The little foldover bag was another great find from Goodwill.  It’s really quite roomy inside and in such good condition!  Why do people get rid of these things??


~If you liked this post, please share it!~
Leave Comment

Pin It on Pinterest