Unconventional materials challenge

Rather than do an entire collection for Spring, I decided to focus on my line of totes and fanny packs (yes, you read that right!).  I did however enter a design contest that is held each season for Omaha Fashion Week, in conjunction with their sponsor, SAC Federal Credit Union.  My design concept won and so I began the process of creating the dress made of money.  The idea for this dress was the metal coins representing armor, but to make it feminine add styling of a greek goddess inspired flowing gown.  And gladiator sandals of course!

Each designer can send in their ideas and it can incorporate coins or dollar bills, and the money cannot be defaced during the process.   I chose to work with dimes and had to try several different methods to attach them to the garment and make them stay.  

 

Sitting on the couch watching Project Runway it is so easy to critique the Unconventional Materials challenge, but it is a whole different story when you are the one 'making it work'.  

The SAC Money Dress Design Competition is just one of the programs that the SAC/OFW partnership is able to support, that benefits the local community.  The money dress will be auctioned off at an Arts for All benefit in April, after it walks the runway each night of Fashion Week, March 15 - 20.

in progress, haven't added the shoulder armor yet.  2 weeks til Fashion Week!

Bridal season

Well we've made it to February - yay!  It's officially bridal season.  Many requests for cover ups have been keeping me very busy, and it makes me realize spring is just around the corner.

Those thoughts helped a lot today while I was shoveling and digging my car out from under the snow.  It's so pretty but it is so heavy!   Good workout though :)

winter shoot

In the middle of January in the Midwest, all you see is white for miles, but the occasional sunny day brightens the gray skies thankfully.  I had an idea for a winter wonderland shoot originally, but I was inspired by some bright fuchsia flowers and bought a few bouquets.  The location was a very old building, probably built in the early 1900's since it is in east Omaha, where our city started to form near the Missouri River.

The exposed lath wall behind the plaster and the old cracking windows were a great backdrop for the romantic fabrics and flowers.

What a joy to work with 2 lovely girls, Karlie who modeled for me in Omaha Fashion Week (obsessed with her on-trend eyebrows!!), and my daughter who frequently photographs for me with her great eye and wonderful talent.  I am blessed to work with people who have zero drama and are open and willing to try different things.  

blush, nude, champagne

rose gold fabric pleats, gold netting, nude tulle, swarovski crystals … sigh … all my favorites

so many brides are obsessed with blush tones, and I admit so am I :)

I've been thinking a lot about the upcoming new year, and all I've accomplished in 2015.  I guess we all get a little nostalgic this time of year, right?  I've done a ton of organizing and reorganizing in my house and studio, and I am excited to see how all of this streamlining is going to take my productivity up a few notches.  Luckily my handy husband helped build a few things that I needed, and they are so lovely.  Photoshoot to come in the near future of the dining room table he built for me, among other things!

Show photos

Here are the much anticipated final photos from HeatherandJameson.com, and the video from Brett Brooner.  Enjoy!

Bleached denim romantic dress

Bleached denim romantic dress

deconstructed overalls dress with built in blush pink crinoline

deconstructed overalls dress with built in blush pink crinoline

love letter dress... Song of Solomon passage translated into French.

love letter dress... Song of Solomon passage translated into French.

Black glitter denim, bleached and then overdyed pink, with blush pink tulle skirt

Black glitter denim, bleached and then overdyed pink, with blush pink tulle skirt

'cloud' bleached denim, with peplum over a tattered tulle and netting skirt

'cloud' bleached denim, with peplum over a tattered tulle and netting skirt

Hand splattered white gown

Hand splattered white gown

Pink denim with graffiti and built in nude tulle crinoline

Pink denim with graffiti and built in nude tulle crinoline

Symmetrical bleached denim with netting skirt

Symmetrical bleached denim with netting skirt

Black graffiti gown, handpainted, with a handmade hoop skirt

Black graffiti gown, handpainted, with a handmade hoop skirt

Deconstructed denim jacket, with recycled jeans sewn into strips.  Pannier underneath

Deconstructed denim jacket, with recycled jeans sewn into strips.  Pannier underneath

fashion week progress

working feverishly on the denim collection - this has been fast and furious.  Hubby and I are going on a 5 day getaway so even less time to finish, but I think it's important to make time together.  We've been on one weekend trip together in 10 years, so I'd say we need to get better at that!

Few sneak peeks @ the collection:

This started out as the back of a jean jacket, and I altered the shape, bleached sections, but left the bottom band intact.  The top band is a waistband from a pair of jeans, and I used the beltloops also.  As I ripped apart jeans for the skirt section, I fell in love with all the labels, so decided to sew them all over the bustier.  

This started out as the back of a jean jacket, and I altered the shape, bleached sections, but left the bottom band intact.  The top band is a waistband from a pair of jeans, and I used the beltloops also.  As I ripped apart jeans for the skirt section, I fell in love with all the labels, so decided to sew them all over the bustier.

 

So. much. fun.  Thrifted overalls and a chunk of chambray denim that was close in color for the skirt.  I have always loved wearing overalls shorts in the summer, and I thought it would be fun to explore the idea of work clothes we wear while doing painting projects, etc.   Back in some of my art classes we would use our large gray paper table covers that were covered in paint from various projects, and cut them into strips to create beautiful weavings.  I love the idea of using splattered drop cloths for projects too.  I dripped bleach on both to unite the color a bit more, to make them look like they were the same fabric.  Then went to splatter town with paint.  What a blast.  3 different people said the final dress looks like something Katy Perry would wear.  Fun!   I'll post the final look after Aug. 18!!  

So. much. fun.  Thrifted overalls and a chunk of chambray denim that was close in color for the skirt.  I have always loved wearing overalls shorts in the summer, and I thought it would be fun to explore the idea of work clothes we wear while doing painting projects, etc.   Back in some of my art classes we would use our large gray paper table covers that were covered in paint from various projects, and cut them into strips to create beautiful weavings.  I love the idea of using splattered drop cloths for projects too. 

I dripped bleach on both to unite the color a bit more, to make them look like they were the same fabric.  Then went to splatter town with paint.  What a blast.  3 different people said the final dress looks like something Katy Perry would wear.  Fun!   I'll post the final look after Aug. 18!!

 

This was the signature dress that was photographed by the amazing Heather and Jameson Hooton, and will be on the screen during the intro to  the show.   The Bible text was translated into french, and I wrote it onto the denim with a bleach pen (make that several bleach pens!) This is a love letter to my husband that I borrowed from Song of Solomon, chapter 5 : 10 - 16, translated into French. Strangely enough, the entire passage fit perfectly on the dress without me planning if I would run out of room or not. Every. word.

This was the signature dress that was photographed by the amazing Heather and Jameson Hooton, and will be on the screen during the intro to  the show.   The Bible text was translated into french, and I wrote it onto the denim with a bleach pen (make that several bleach pens!)

This is a love letter to my husband that I borrowed from Song of Solomon, chapter 5 : 10 - 16, translated into French. Strangely enough, the entire passage fit perfectly on the dress without me planning if I would run out of room or not. Every. word.

New collection

I am currently working on a 10 piece collection for Omaha Fashion Week - August 2015.  I haven't done a collection for a couple of years, and I thought when I quit teaching full time that I would be too busy to do another one.   I got a position teaching summer school for 4 weeks, so luckily that gives me a summer salary, so now I have about 4-5 weeks to create a collection.  Not a lot of time, but I am going to "make it work".

I scheduled it out and it's about 2 1/2 days per garment, but now I've been working for a week and half and am just finishing the first (but have a couple more about half way done, waiting in the wings).

I decided to do the entire collection from denim, using the experimental bleaching / dyeing / handpainting that I've been working on for the past year or so.

The denim will be indigo shades of course, but also white, black and dyed pink.  The inspiration for styling / silhouettes is Marie Antoinette / Rococo period.  Nothing super historically accurate - just a general idea about shapes, etc.


Rustic glam

This year I decided to go a little crazy and extend the plaid obsession I've had for awhile to my Christmas gifts.  I gathered all my lace, ribbon, buttons and plaid fabric, and made a complete mess of the studio.

I used brown kraft paper for most of the wrapping, and then added bows and other pretties I had in my stash.  The girly ones are a bit easier to 'glam' up, and I used more plaid on the manly ones.  No gender bias here, it's just the men in my life are not interested in sparkly things.  My daughter took pics of hers and didn't want to tear into them because they were so pretty.  Mission accomplished.  Merry Christmas!

Bobbin storage

Over the years, finding ways to keep sewing bobbins organized and within reach has been totally annoying.  I think I've tried every way possible.  I've tried stacking them on the wooden thread spool racks, storing them in the plastic bobbin containers sold at the fabric store, and even made my own little tin with foam inside, and cut little slits for the bobbins to sit on.  It seemed like no matter what I did, they were always mangled and tangled, hard to access the color I needed, and just a mess in general.

Then I thought why not store them on the wall so I could attach them with magnets to the metal and they would be easily accessible?  (I should mention I sew every. single. day. and I use a ton of bobbins in different colors).  So I was thinking of getting some metal sheeting from the hardware store but then I saw these metal signs at Hobby Lobby and they were really inexpensive.  So I just nailed them to the wall above my sewing machine and put some magnets up against the metal, and just put the bobbins up against the magnets.

But after awhile I realized that there were so many bobbins too close together (I've since removed several of them) and the magnets would start to stick to eachother.  It was also difficult to see the thread color from my sitting sewing position when I went to grab one.  Basically I needed more space to hold them all.
So I decided I need a larger metal surface.  I found this great magnetic chalkboard at Target for $6.99!  It came with 2 pieces of chalk, so I decided to write the main colors that I use daily at the top, and that way I can easily know which row to grab from when I need a certain color.  (Round magnets are from Hobby Lobby - $7.99 for 50 of them).

Then I found a little mesh basket ($3.59) in the office section of Target - I guess I get a thrill from buying things that I think will help me get organized ... baskets, file folders, bins, boxes, etc.  Anyway, the basket has 2 magnets attached to the back of it, and it came with a little notepad and pen.  So I decided to stick that to a corner of the chalkboard.

I absolutely love it.  It's neat, holds a lot of bobbins and is organized.  And it's cute!

I absolutely love it.  It's neat, holds a lot of bobbins and is organized.  And it's cute!

Tutorials

For years I've been teaching local workshops on how to sell on etsy, and I've spent many years teaching art, so it's only natural that I love to share with others my love of making.

I created some flower tutorials for DIY brides a few years ago, and have been working on some new pattern tutorial e-books this year.  They will not just be sewing tutorials - I am also working on some that involve crafting / fabric manipulation / dyeing / discharge (bleaching), etc.

Not sure if I will eventually move these tutorials to their own site ( Lord knows I have too many shops already ), so for now they will be shared through my Brave Nouvelle site.

discharge (bleached) denim

discharge (bleached) denim

splatter painting canvas for totes and aprons

splatter painting canvas for totes and aprons

It just made sense to put them in Brave Nouvelle because that is the place where I allow myself to really create what I want.  For years I worried that I needed to make and sell just one product (or at least a collection of really similar products), because that's what tends to be successful on etsy.  A seller who produces the same thing over and over with slight variations.  But even though I've had success in that are in my housewares shop, I just felt that I was going to go crazy if I wasn't allowed to do the million and one other crafty / design things that I love to do.  I am a maker.  Plain and simple.  I'm happiest when I'm making or transforming something.

xo xo

Ellene

pattern history

I came across an interesting post on the etsy blog about the history of sewing patterns.  

(funny how a size 16 was a 34 bust back then - ha!)

(funny how a size 16 was a 34 bust back then - ha!)

I have long been obsessed with the 3-dimensional shapes of garments and am fascinated with patterns and construction in general.  I tend to collect patterns even though I make my own.  I like to create patterns on muslin or some other cheap cotton that I'm not going to use for anything else.  Then they don't really have to be pinned to the fabric you are cutting, they just kind of stay where you put them.

I usually make a pattern for anything I am making, in case I want to make it again.  Also I ignore almost all the directions on commercial patterns, mainly because I can anticipate what they are going to say for each step, and I've been sewing for so long that I like to do it my own way.

Check out the article here :)

goals for the new year 2014

I recently read about choosing a word for the upcoming year on Kelly Rae's blog, and very quickly I decided my word for 2014 will be SURRENDER.  I'm the type of person that tries to have everything figured out in advance, and I try to analyze everything and know exactly what is going to happen.  I am pretty impatient as well about when it will happen!   So I know deep down that I need to learn to depend on God rather than myself, and that means surrender.

2012 started out with my daughter moving out in Jan. of that year, so it was hard for me to get used to being an 'empty nester'.  I realized my only option (as opposed to worrying) was to let go, trust and surrender.  Basically trust that she was in Gods' hands and he could do a better job of protecting her than I could.  So that was a real growth experience for me, and at times I have picked the 'worrying burden' back up, and had to lay it down again.  So surrender and trust kind of go hand in hand.  

While studying more about how to do this, I came across this blog about surrendering: 

"Surrender is what Jesus was commanding when he said, "For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it." (Matthew 16:25 NIV)".          

I love how the writer talks about if we want to follow Jesus, we might have to lay some things down in order to keep up.  All of the distractions and worries of life keep us weighed down and take our focus off of Him.  That's why He said "cast your cares", because he doesn't want us to be burdened.

And then the post on obedience was a great confirmation to my spirit that I was on the right track.  From that post:  "So, biblical obedience means, simply, to hear, trust, submit and surrender to God and obey his Word."

I think we can block Gods' blessings in our lives when we have areas of disobedience.  Trying to carry burdens that He doesn't want me to carry is disobedience.  I think as mothers we feel that if we are not worrying we aren't doing a good job.  

I also have a lot of ambition when it comes to my creative career, and that has caused some anxiety about which direction to take for the past several years, and that is another burden I need to let go of.  

So some goals I have formulated for 2014 are:

* read the One-Year Bible along with my church family.  (which means actually making a plan and setting aside time in my schedule each day, rather than just saying I will do it.)

* exercise daily (even if it's not a long time, enough to make it a daily habit)

* learn photoshop and illustrator (ugh.)  - which means do a little at a time...

* design more collections of patterns / build portfolio

* attend at least one trade show (surtex, quilt market)

* Complete organization of craft supplies and all closets in the house

* add printable items to my shop, as well as art prints

cheers to the New Year!

 

start small

I have heard many artists say that a blank white canvas is a scary thing.  I agree wholeheartedly.  Back when I was a Fine Arts major in college, painting was the studio class I saved for the end.  I was intimidated by these wall sized canvases that I saw students working on.  I made it through the class using masonite boards that were under 24 inches.  

Years later when I started making collages, I wanted to combine my obsession with miniature things with my art.  The scrabble tile craze was all over etsy, so I decided using the small wood tiles for my collaged landscapes would be perfect.  The great thing was that it took away that fear and intimidation, since it's only about a 1 inch surface.  It was ok if I messed up, because I could just sand it off and start over.  It gave me the freedom to try different compositions, and people were amazed at how much visual information could be squeezed onto such a small space, but not feel crowded.

So my advice to anyone who might have a fear of blank canvases, or if their perfectionist personality might be holding them back from creating, start small!