Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Outfit Idea # 9. Purple Sweater.

I am the luckiest girl in the world because I have the most amazing sister in the world! Last weekend she invited me over to see her in sunny California. She also was the perfect model for my recently made sweater. 

I found this lovely stretch fabric at Fabricland and got immediately inspired by it. I thought it was ideal for a loosely fitting sweater/top. It's light enough to drape nicely, yet has a lot of texture and some bulk to it. I gave the sweater elbow length kimono sleeves, deep V-neckline finished with self binding. There are gathers on the shoulders and the bottom half of the sweater is fitted around the rib cage.

I love this cut because of how flattering and versatile it is. It can be combined with pretty much anything in your wardrobe: wear it with a pencil skirt or trouser pants for an office look; throw on your white shorts or darker skinnies for a more casual outfit. 

My sister adores this colour and the cut of the sweater is so complementing to her perfect figure that I decided to leave the sweater in her stylish hands. She definitely makes it look stunning! Thank you gorgeous!!!

Friday, November 30, 2012

Outfit Idea # 8. Black and Gold.

I made this top during this summer form Butterick pattern 5753, but for a while I could not entirely figure out how to make it more versatile. It wasn't until now that I was inspired by the gold holiday trend that I know how to take this shiny number from day to night.

Golden Worker

If you fear wearing too much gold to work, fear no more. It is actually easy if you pair it with basics like black skinnie jeans and a black tailored jacket. Keep your jewelry and accessories to the minimum and your look will not be excessive yet will still speak "It's a Holiday Season!"

Shiny Showstopper

 I don't know about you but I see gold everywhere these days. So I decided to wear this top with shiny gold skinnie pants for the evening look. Daring heels with a chain detail and bold statement gold-tone earrings perfectly complete the outfit. Don't forget your gold-tone and gun metal bangles and an envelope clutch. Voila! You are ready to party!

Happy Holidays! 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

More Fashionable Reads

Today I wanted to share three very different yet equally awesome books with you.

Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress: A Novel
I picked this book off the shelf in the library because it had the word seamstress in the title and because it had shoes on its cover. (Yes, I choose my books by their titles and covers, don't you???) I did not know what to expect but boy! was I in for a treat. The story takes place during the Cultural Revolution in China, when the children of professionals declared "the enemies of state" were sent to remote villages for "re-education." That topic alone would have been enough to enthrall me even if the book contained no characters in it who were seamstresses. In the village, the main characters get hold of the forbidden books, befriend the Little Chinese Seamstress, the most beautiful girl on the mountain, and share their lust for books with her. Written in a beautiful poetic language, this novel is full of symbolism. The most prominent symbol here is Balzac or the book - it stands for education, broadened outlook on the world and the self, it signifies the idea of many possibilities of life. Life beyond what is. Unfortunate to protagonists, their arduous reading habit educates the Seamstress out of the village where they, on the other hand, are doomed to stay to continue their "re-education" for an indefinite period of time. Given their parents' status they might never leave. I found this irony heartbreaking. Dai Sijie perfectly conveys the injustice of the regime through personal relationships and destinies of the characters. The second important symbol is, of course, the clothes. The political uniform which enslaves the boys doomed for "re-education" in the country becomes liberating attire for the Seamstress who makes the Mao jacket fit her perfectly and wears it on her journey to the city.

Yet another historic novel came my way and I could not resist the urge to read it due to the reasons stated above: the title and the cover! Written in a very Victorian style, this novel is about Veda, a tailor's daughter, who loses her hearing at age sixteen and, for the lack of any other prospects in life, takes over her fathers tailoring business. Contrary to the Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress, this book is rich with descriptions of Victorian clothing and clothes-making. Since that was my main interest in reading the book let me indulge and share some of my favourite quotes:

"Ever since I can remember, I have been in thrall to elegance and style. I observed things that slipped by unnoticed to everyone except my father, like a thread hanging from a buttonhole or clumsy shoulder padding. He had an eye for perfection and we could easily be swept to rapture by the suppleness of a doe-skin glove."

"Of course my primary interest was how clothing might enhance the human form, how it might hide or correct the faults of an imperfect body that is generally quite lumpy and lopsided... It was always the way fabric could be molded to the human form that intrigued me, the way a tailor could gently stretch and shape a superfine worsted under the weight of a hissing steam iron to restore a bit of youthful dignity to a slope-shouldered old man."

"After all, any dodger could cut cloth from a pattern, but a good tailor had to develop a quick eye to seize at a glance the shape of a lapel or a particularly interesting trimming on a cuff. A tailor is a judicious thief, stealing a line here and a cut there in the time it takes a man to alight from his coach.. and then he takes this memory to the cutting bench and interprets what he has seen with his own particular mark."

Delicioulsy said!

This is an autobiography by a founder of a fashion public relations, branding and marketing firm People's Revolution. Kelly shares her own experiences of making it in the NYC fashion scene. The book contains raw details of her life: ups, downs, success stories and a lot of advice! It is definitely an inspirational and motivational read for any woman who wishes to learn how to become successful in fashion PR (or in any other field she loves!). Figuring out who and what you are and what you love to do is step number one! Oh, and by the way there is not straight road to where you want to get to!

Kelly also has her own reality show with a witty title Kell on Earth. It gives a glimse of what it is like to run and work in a fashion PR company. Recommended for anyone thinking of a career in this field. 

I will end with my personal favourite rule by Kelly Cutrone: 

Normal Gets you Nowhere!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Creative Event with a Cause

Last Friday the Toronto Public Library held a creative event with a cause - the 2nd Annual Arts and Crafts Fair for the United Way at North York Central Library. Staff from various Toronto Public Library branches surprised library employees as well as the patrons visiting Central with their marvelous creations. 
Art and crafts of all kinds were presented at the fair: lino cuts, tiny crocheted cats and life-sized cat sleeping mats, hand-made cards, lanterns, one of a kind hand crafted wrapping paper, stuffed toys, and jewelry jewelry jewelry! 

Adrineh's creations at TPL Arts and Crafts Fair
My coworker Adrineh Lavi was probably the most versatile exhibitor/vendor at the fair. Her table was abundant with hand-crafted cards, boxes, jewelry, textile art, and tapestries. As long as she can remember herself she was always interested in making things with her hands. When speculating about where this "itch" may come from she says that she comes from a family of carpenters, designers, sewers and crafters of other kinds. "There must be something in the genes!" she laughs. 

I would not be surprised if it were so. Her jewelry pieces are truly unique. She does not simply copy designs from DYI books. Her one-of-a-kind designs "come to her" and she feels compelled to go and seek out the right materials. "It takes a long time to get the exact beads or pieces that I need for each particular design I am making," she says. "I do not want to just make whatever. I want it to be what I envisioned it to be!" And they are nothing but that! 

Two of my personal favourites are this leather knot necklace the likes of which I have never seen before...

Adrineh's leather knotted necklace

...and this upcycled brooch. Adrineh took an old brooch shell which had missing pieces and filled it with beautiful sea shells, pearls and other findings. 

Adrineh's upcycled brooch

You can view more of Adrineh's creations here: http://beadsandflourish.blogspot.ca/

Another colleague of mine, Connie Hwang, surprised me with her funky over-the-shoulder bags! She has been crafting these cool numbers on and off for a number of years now. Connie likes to upcycle  old materials and clothes. She loves the idea of reconstructing and recombining "pre-loved" materials into new and exciting items with a new purpose. But she also makes bags out of new fabrics and clothing items. Her jean and cargo purses are lined with gorgeous Chinese silks. Connie also makes little charms to go onto the straps of the bags.

One of Connie's funky bags

This cute monkey was getting all the attention at her table during the fair. Unfortunate for curious shoppers, he was not for sale.

Monkey-the-Model showing off his over-the-shoulder bag

Like true artists, Adrineh and Connie both agree that they cannot be forced to make things. Inspiration has to come to them first. Once it does however, they find it hard to stop. The process of creation compels them to keep going. I think I know exactly what they mean. It was delightful to see my familiar coworkers in this unfamiliar artistic light!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Outfit Idea #7. Slouchy Floral Pants.

They have been long "in the thinking" but only happened to be "in the making" 2 days ago - my slouchy floral pants! I have been wanting them since summer but my busy life has only now given me a chance to make them. And they are that more dearer for that! Dear to my heart for their fashion statement (for WGSN professes them to be the new IT pant!) and dear to my hips (for I have not had a jersey pant that would be that comfy, yet look this chic!) I used McCall's pattern 5858 to make them. And, as is usually the case with ultra chic items, I have come up with multiple ways of wearing them!

Working Woman

Wear them with the crisp white shirt (mine has roll up sleeves which adds a sportier look), a cat-print scarf or a long strand of wooden beads and shoes with a comfortable heel. You are office-ready!

Urban Tourist

White tank top, jacket and fedora hat turn these pants into an easy day about town kind of an outfit. Not without an edge however! Grab your over the shoulder bag and comfy loafers and you can run for miles!
Night Diva

How do you add glam to slouchy-fitting stretch pants? Easy! Pair it with a lace (or better gold sequinned) tank top. Add some 'bling' and sky-high heels. I'm wearing my faithful nude peep-toe heels and a "half-face" necklace I acquired in NYC. I absolutely adore it for it instantly transforms an outfit from casual to glamorous! 

Have a chic and slouchy day everyone!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Halloween Costume Fun

This year I got so excited about this fun holiday that I took my costume-making to the next level and created full body costumes for myself and my partner. I took forever to decide which particular costumes I liked best and then left myself only 4 days to complete them.

Eventually, I decided on Jasmine and Aladdin. Since I had no time to draft full patterns, I got creative using the patterns in my stash and adapting them to recreate the shapes of the Disney characters' garb.

To make the pants, both for Jasmine and Aladdin, I used McCall's patterns 2586, the drawstring cargo pants. However, I flared them out quite a bit to make them look more Eastern-inspired. I added 6 inches of fullness to front and back panel of each pant. The result was roomy full harem-like pants.

To make a vest for Aladdin I used, the basic man's shirt block and cropped and rounded it in the front. I added gold trims to the armholes and all the way around the neckline and hem.

To make Jasmine's top, I used Simplicity Pattern 1875. That dress had the perfect top for my costume. I cropped and embellished it. I added chiffon ruffles to the sweetheart neckline of it. I found a purple agate stone that looked exactly like Jasmine's! I attached it to the centre front and added the golden braid trim to the top of neckline and sleeves' edges which I cut of the matching colour chiffon.

I then stitched the second row of trim and swirled it around the stone. I like how it created the illusion that the stone is set into a golden frame. I also added the golden beaded decorative trim at the hem of the top. 

The top is fully lined, stiffened with interfacing and has boning to keep it up. The back of the top is adjustable because it is laced closed (I used the same trim here as on the Aladdin's vest):

To sew an over skirt/belt for the bottom of my costume I used a part of Butterick B5811 pattern. It's peplum skirt, shorter in the front and longer in the back, was perfect for my purposes. I changed the waistband shape to create the triangle shape at the centre. As for the petals of the peplum, which I cut out of the same chiffon as the sleeves, I roll-hemmed them on my serger without attaching the side panels together so that they would flow freely. I decorated the bottom edge of the waistband with the same trim as the top hem and added an emerald stone in the centre.

Isn't it interesting how with slight modifications you can create a historical look using the current patterns? I had lots of fun with it! Here is the overall look of my epic costume-sewing quest!

Happy Halloween everyone!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Fashion Week Buzz

This has been another joyous albeit busy week in the life of Yours Truly since besides it being the weekend of Halloween fun it was also World Mastercard Toronto Fashion Week

Last Friday, I was lucky enough to be present at the Paraezo Couture runway show of wedding gowns. I was in awe watching the angelic creatures glide up and down the runway like swans in Bruce Dang's  (lead designer of Paraezo Couture) marvelous creations.

Here you can see a snippet of what I saw real time in all its glitter and glory:

After the show, there was no end to my joy when I had a few minutes of Bruce Dang's time and asked him some questions. I had to wait in line of other reporters of course. But it was all worth the wait! Here is our conversion:

First of all, congratulations on such a spectacular show! This was fantastic! I am sure beginning designers will be interested to hear your answers to some of my questions.

Thank you!

When you started your career as a designer what was the one thing that college had not taught you but that you wished you had known before you embarked on this journey of a lead designer?

One thing that I had to learn on my own was stress! You have to learn to be calm, make sure you have a good team to work behind you. If you don’t have a good team behind you that’s fine too. You will just have to do everything yourself. You have to make sure that everything is perfect, the way you want it to be. In the end of the day, even when people say that you are not good, keep trying and work harder. Work hard at what you love and you will get there!

So keep believing in yourself?


So in regards to doing what you love, how hands on are you when designing your collection. Do you just sketch, do you participate in executing the pieces?

Right now all I do is I get my inspiration, get all my ideas, fabrics and textures I want. When I get the fabrics that’s when I get the most inspired, from the fabrics!  When the fabrics have different textures I see that can use them in this and that way. Then I start sketching. I sketch one dress and then one leads to another to another to the next, until I get about 80. And then I narrow them down for my collection.

What aspect of your daily work as a designer do you like the most?

Looking for fabrics and sketching. I love to do that. Sketching and figuring our new ideas.

What aspect of your work do you like the least? What do you not like doing in your work?

Things that have to do with stress. When problems arise. And problems will always arise. But you have to try to stay calm and be happy and make your team happy.

What advice would you give to design students who would like to be just like you and have their own business or become a lead designer like you?

As I said before, don't give up. Keep believing in yourself, working hard. And remember that there are a lot of people in this country who will help you. Maybe the Toronto Fashion Incubator – they helped me a lot. Or things like this show.

So you did find support on the way?

Yes, a lot of support.

That’s wonderful! Thank you very much! Congratulations again!

Bruce Dang being interviewed for SliceTV

Bruce Dang also made an appearance on Global Television the day before the show. Here he talks about the inspiration for his collection, about the structure and details of his gowns.

I am beyond wow-ed since not only did I get to see the spectacular creations at an arm's length but I also got to talk to the man responsible for them. There is nothing more inspirational than that!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Project Catwalk continued...


Here is a parade of the other teams' creations that competed for the main prize in the Project Catwalk.

Coco Fashion Design Institute

Georgian College

Academy of Design and Technology

And, finally, the winner....

George Brown College

Oh and did I mention the prizes! The mere number and value of them was unbelievable! Rowenta steamer, an iron cleaning system, $100 worth of Swarowski crystals, numerous pairs of scissors, spool organizers, and more more more!!! They definitely made you feel like a winner even if you were just a runner up! Thank you Creativ Festival!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Project Catwalk at Creativ Festival

I have something very special to share! I have been reveling in a creative oblivion for the past few days. My past weekend was wholly and solely occupied by a very exciting event - Project Catwalk at Creativ Festival. This is a weekend-long event which takes place every October at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. It is the biggest marketplace for the lovers of crafts of all kinds. The festival offers a multitude of workshops, classes, presentations and seminars bound to satisfy any creative craving out there. The best part of the festival for me is the Project Catwalk competition. And this year I became the lucky participant!!!

We - me and my wonderful team mates, Stefanie and Cindy - were given a challenge to create a runway look in three days: beginning Friday 11 a.m. and ending Sunday at 3 p.m. The theme of this year's challenge was the 25th years anniversary of the festival. Thus, the overarching topic was "Celebration with a touch of Silver". Each of the five competing teams was given $200 to spend on the materials for the garment. One of the conditions of the competition was that all of the materials for our garment had to come from the floor of the marketplace. So, ready to design, draft, stitch and sew, off we went!

I could write on and on about the experience I had at the competition. But one picture is worth a thousand of words. Therefore, I will not strain your eyes with more text but rather share some of the pictures from this fantastic event.

Sewing away at our assigned Seneca booth, where we spent 3 days with no food, water or breaks (not that we wanted any of those anyway!).

Inspired by the Silver Screen starlets of the late 50's/early 60's, we designed a convertible look: a body-hugging LBD a la Audrey Hepburn, with a shawl collar which can be worn as a hood, as a shalw, or off the shoulders. The dress has princess seams, is fully lined and has a marvelous sparkly zipper in the back.

Our little black dress with a touch of sliver.
To add glamour to the look we created a detachable over-skirt made of various panels, asymmetrical in the front and symmetrical and, may I say, quite spectacular in the back. Some of the panels were machine embroidered by our kind sponsor Bernina Sewing Equipment. We decorated the waistband of the skirt with crystals and Cindy made earrings and a bracelet to go with the outfit. You can tell that we had no shortage of silver in our look!

Putting together the panels of the over-skirt.
Here is the whole runway look! We wanted it to exude celebration, glamour and originality.

And here are my lovely team mates! Thank you ladies for such a tight and organized team! You rock!

                                               To many more adventure in creative land!!!

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Outfit Idea #6. Colour Blocking.

Today I wanted to share with you my take on colour blocking. I went graphic with it. I made this dress from McCall's pattern 6278. However, since the peter pan collar has been all the rage recently I decided to adorn the plain neckline of this dress with my interpretation of this fashionable detail. The shape of my collar mimics the angles of the black side panels on the hips and, thus, gives consistency to my dress.

I like how the black and white colour scheme and the collar create the sense of the conservative. Yet, the angular details and pops of red in my outfit give my dress an extra edge. I especially love the shoes that I chose to go with this dress. Metal studs and colour strips also make the outfit more daring. Just the way I like it!

Finally, it is a perfect day to night dress. Drop the bright red, throw on a jacket and you can easily wear it to the office. Pull out your daring heels and bright-coloured purse and you are ready for the night on the town!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Another Bookish Moment

Those of my friends who love books as much as I do will find this post interesting. I found this book in the library. Guess what it is about? Duh! Books!

In it, Dominic Dupuich offers a tour of personal libraries and book-infused home decors of famous people. If you find yourself struggling for space or for some kind of organization at home due to an ever-increasing number of books, then this book will give you some ideas on how to make your cohabitation with books not just comfortable but aesthetically pleasing as well. 

Incidentally, I stumbled across an interesting photoblog dedicated to the same subject with a funny title BookshelfPorn.com. They have an endless stream of photographs depicting beautiful, original, funky and simply clever book arrangements. In some of them I recognized my own bedroom. A couple of my favourites:

Another curious website is UndergroundNewYorkPublicLibrary.com. Here, the author takes pictures of people reading on the New York subway and posts them on his site. Both amusing and pleasing, it's interesting to see how the New York subway figures as a huge reading room. (Do they have those any more?!!) Somebody please do the same for Toronto!

Ahhh, what a pleasant site to see!!! Call me old-fashioned but I cannot help smiling when I see someone in transit reading an actual physical book instead of playing games or watching videos on their electronic hand-held devices. I love the absorbed look on  people's faces when they read! Read on!!!

P.S. If you view your book collecting habit as a vice to be ashamed of since you have no time to read all those books anyway, I have some words of concolation for you:
"Nothing is more important than an unread library!" - John Wateres

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Outfit Idea #5. Plaid Jacket.

As the days are getting shorter and the nights longer, the chilly air particles biting my face in the mornings get me thinking about layers. This is a confusing time of the year: you think it's cold as you run out the door in the morning, but you find yourself drenched as you commute back home. And what other than layers offers the best option for changing temperatures? With that in mind I decided to show you the shirt/jacket I made from McCall's pattern 5941.

I thought that beige plaid could not be more appropriate for fall. I teamed up this jacket with the black skinnie jeans and a black turtle neck underneath. (This is where your basics come in handy!) I like how  the kimono sleeves of the jacket and the grey beret give my outfit a retro feel. Yet the chains and the high-heels on the grey boots and the furry Marc Fisher bag keep it edgy and modern-looking.

The collar of this plaid jacket can be worn two different ways:
raise it up
lay it flat
The huge mock wood button is a playful original touch. Since it's the only one on this garment I thought it better be big! Plus it ties well with the neutral natural tones of the whole look. I think I'm ready for fall!