Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Creature of Pattern

When I think of that word, I think of what a creature of habit I am. Patterns of my life I trace each day, in the way I start with coffee, move through shower, lunch, long walk after work, dinner, bed, repeat. Within that pattern is another one- the pattern of how I create. I start with an idea, one simple detail waiting for all the other details to follow. The ideas get sketched, fabric gets draped on a form, pinched and pinned until it becomes- what? A Pattern. The garment pattern is traced on paper, tweaked, re-sized from small to extra-large, and those patterns are used over and over again, much the same way my life pattern flows from coffee to sleep. For me, there's a comfort in predictability. Henry Ford understood this concept and automated the world with the Assembly Line.

I admire the designers who make just one of something. They are inspired by an idea, they create it, and it's never made again. My guess is they never sleep on the same side of the bed or take the same route to work. Sometimes I try working that way, and yes, it is inspiring and a little scary to think that what I made can't be made again. As a businessman, I know that all the time spent on that one garment has to be reflected in the cost, and there's just one chance to say what it's worth. The way I do it, making the garment over and over, the time spent on developing the pattern is spread out over how many we make and sell. The original pattern then becomes a reference point to work from. You want it in another color? Two inches longer? Relax the hips? Can do. You get what you want, I know it's going to work, no guesswork, no extra cost. The beauty of Pattern.

One more example of pattern, then I'm done. I actually call it Print, just so I don't get it confused with the paper patterns, but it's essentially anything other than solid color. Floral, dots, stripes, plaid, you name it. Over the years of making Regalia my strength has been in the rich solid colors of linen I use, and the combinations of colors that happen. I believe that certain combinations can trigger emotions. Just take a look at the expressions on someone's face when you show them red and orange versus blue and green. It's the same with print. We react to the flow of line and color and the ways they are placed together and arranged by the artist. On a small level, it's the way you decide if you'd rather wear paisley or stripes. At the museum, it's your choice of the Cassatt over the Warhol. Many people visiting crop circles reported being overwhelmed emotionally just by gazing on the pattern they see etched into the grass. I showed one of these prints to a couple in my store the other day. The wife said "Oh, that's gorgeous! The husband said "it looks like it fell out of the ugly tree and hit every branch on the way down." It goes to show what different reactions one simple floral print can receive.

This season, for some unexplained reason, I am attracted to pattern. Maybe I'm trying to spice up the palette by mixing pattern with solid, maybe I just can't resist some of the amazing prints I've been seeing in the stores. But here they are, one after the other, rolled on tubes and spread across my cutting table ready to tell me what they want to be. As they become garments hanging on the rack I get excited to see what kind of reaction they draw from you. I expect to hear a lot of reminiscing about how you had a skirt like that as a teen or how your grandmother had curtains like that, since most of the patterns have a retro feel, and in many cases I'm using actual vintage fabrics. Whatever the emotion or memory they trigger, I hope you like them. It's going to be another amazing season here at Regalia. Join us any way you can, in whatever pattern you like.

Thursday, March 3, 2011


Note- The five-day challenge was originally posted as many posts over six days. They have now been edited into one long post, encapsulating the entire event. If you want a good laugh, but don't have time to spend on the build-up, scroll down to Day 4, when the action really heats up! And don't miss the last wrap-up post entitled "The Real Story"

Research, design, and execute FIVE looks to be on display in the lobby of the Arkansas Repertory Theatre during the run of "Hairspray" April 8 through May 8. The outfits must be delivered to the theatre no later than March 28 ready to display. To tie in with the production of "Hairspray" all five looks will be inspired by fashions of the early 1960's. Most, if not all garments will be added to Regalia's Spring/Summer 2011 clothing line. The clock starts Friday morning and stops Tuesday evening. Celebrity judges will be commenting on each look as it is completed.

Back by popular demand! Another chance to watch the designer squirm! Last year it was 3 dresses in 3 days while the blizzard piled two feet of snow against the studio doors. This year the sun is out, daffodils and crocus are blooming, Eureka Springs is buzzing getting ready for Mardi Gras celebrations all over town. So what am I doing? Locking myself in the studio again for another challenge. It has proven to be a great way to get me to focus on new designs in a way that lets Regalia fans be a part of the process by following along, commenting, maybe dropping off a casserole or dessert... It starts bright and early Friday morning, and ends on Tuesday. It won't be me all by myself this time. My able assistant Rosie will be helping out a couple days, and we have a special guest star driving up from Little Rock to brainstorm with us. It's my dear old friend Don Bolinger who was my assistant when I was a costume designer at Arkansas Repertory Theatre twenty-five years ago. He and I spent hundreds of hours together in the Costume Shop when we really should have been out having a life- working the kinks out of Evita's gowns, moving into the theatre when a snowstorm threatened to keep us from sewing a few days before "Pageant" opened, and becoming really good friends...and hopefully, we still will be when this is over. So bookmark this blog, follow us through the fun and weigh in on what we do.

Food: Veggie Grits/hashbrowns at Mud St. Cafe, coffee flowing.
Music: Soundtrack to "Hairspray", natch.
Thoughts: We're excited!

After breakfast we walked through Eureka as it was waking up for the first busy weekend of the new season. Regalia was open too- Rosie had the door open, and Luna came running up to greet us. I'm now on the computer setting up, and Don has begun by draping muslin slopers of our "Hairspray cast". The sloper is an exact fit of the body type that can be cut up and laid flat to help us draft the patterns once we know the design. Over breakfast we fine-tuned the challenge a little. Well, a lot. We went from "Regalia garments inspired by the 60's" to "Five characters from 'Hairspray' in the present day, dressed in Regalia style (comfortable, natural-fiber) with a slight 60's influence". What excites us about this is that essentially we are designing a play together again. We've chosen Edna, Tracey, Penny, Velma, and Amber as our cast and are currently wondering what they would wear if they shopped here today. My comfort zone will be stretched- Edna takes me into plus-sizes, where I've only dipped my toe before. Penny, Tracey, and Amber are a younger set, which I really need to reach out to more. Tracey's dressform is our size XL, Penny and Amber are Smalls, Amber being more stylish and affluent than Penny, a bit of a nerd. Velma is Amber's mother, which makes her my average demographic with a more vibrant look. None of these women are the loose-cut linen look, at least not in the context of the play set in the 60's, so our focus is "what would they wear today?". The challenge within the challenge is to resist designing costumes for the 1960's-set play.
In the photo, Don is sizing up Edna- she measures 49-42-50, which puts her on my size chart as a 2XL. I'm going to sign off now and start pulling fabrics and research to inspire us.

Food: Chinese food.
Music: Dixie Chicks.
Thoughts: How do we get cohesion out of this mess?

First we dug through the vintage patterns, pulling anything that amused us, mostly from the 60's. Then we went through a stack of pages ripped from modern fashion magazines, looking for modern styles with a 60's flair, threw it all on the table and began to assign certain looks to the right characters. We began to see looks come together. Amber came first, it was clear she was our fashion plate cocktail look with the full-skirt Gidget flair. Penny is turning into a boho-shabby-chic blend of vintage patterns. We discussed what garments we wanted to do and who wears them- cropped jackets, capri pants, angel blouse, party dress.

Then we started pulling fabrics out and mixing up combinations, and nearly lost our minds. On "Project Runway" the designers pack up and go to Mood Fabrics- we just turned around and started grabbing. So many prints, so much floral, we had to pull solid color linens to tie them down, and I realized our strength as co-designers was always the way we mixed our fabrics. But if you look at the picture of the fabrics laid out on the table, it's pretty crazy.

So now each character has some rough details, and about five fabric swatches each. We took a break to eat and when we came back Don began to drape Amber's dress, and I'm pecking on the keys (essentially, he's already working circles around me). A storm's rolling in, so I'm getting off the computer to go sift through it all again and try to get some designs sketched out to run with.

We used our "helpline" to text our designer friend Yslan a photo of Edna's fabrics with the musical question "do we dare put a print this large on a plus-size woman? Don says "the bigger the scale of print, the smaller she appears." Fingers crossed. Yslan, are you out there?

Food: Hummus/Pita
Music: Dionne Warwick sings Bachrach
Thoughts: Out of chaos comes clarity.

When we got to the shop today Don went straight to the table, picked up his pencil and began to draft a pattern for Tracey's jacket. Neither of us has any idea what it really looks like, just a few details we like..I told Don to cut something out of muslin with those details, put it on the dressform and we would "design it in the air" (is what I call it). Don can just run with something, while I have to have a sketch, or have something more concrete to go on.

We are at least organized. The photo here shows two pages- Tracey and Penny. We pinned swatches of their fabrics and pages of research to a sketch pad page, leaving room to sketch ideas on. At some point this all has to leave the paper and get on the body. I could analyze it to death, Don takes off and I run chasing after. At this moment he's putting a muslin mock-up together for Tracey's jacket, then he'll probably cut out Amber's dress and begin to sew. I think I will begin work on Penny's funky patchwork jacket while I greet people coming into the store. We think if we at least have jackets for the two girls, that what's underneath will magically materialize. We're going to break for lunch at 2 and watch the Mardis Gras parade. More later.

Food: Indian @ New Delhi Cafe
Music: Pink, Gaga, Broadway
Thoughts: Where's my martini?

It was a really fun day. There were lots of people in town, and we walked up to catch beads at the Mardi Gras parade (discovered we are still whores for jewelry). I spent most of my day running the store and selling clothes while Don plugged away at Amber's dress. He got it cut out and mostly done. I suspect he will hem it and make the ribbon tie-belt tomorrow.

I tried to coordinate a huge pile of vintage fabrics (all florals) into one jacket throwing out colors that didn't work, and trying to believe it was not too over-the-top. Each pattern piece had to be cut into two or three pieces, a print for each piece chosen and cut, and placed in a seemingly random order, then odd bits of vintage trims applied on top. It is ready to be lined tomorrow and finished..

Tim Gunn is in the workroom looking around right now, let's see what he has to say.
Mark & Don- "Hi Tim, love your Mardi Gras beads!"
Tim- Thanks, Guys. You know I'm a whore for jewelry. Designers, I'm looking around the room and seeing a lot of wild, bright floral patterns. Mark, I don't really consider you someone to use this much pattern. It's a little over-the-top."
Mark- "Well, Tim, I really tried to keep a tighter palette, but Don kept saying 'we need more print, trust me'."
Don- "Oh sure, throw me under the bus again!"
Mark- "We have trollies here, not buses."
Tim- "Either way, I'm really nervous about this Wonderland Garden in here, and I really think you need to pull back into solids."
Tim looks around the room, finding 10 more bolts of vintage floral prints and grimaces.
Tim- "Designers, I have concerns about these prints. It's just getting too costume-y."
Mark- "Trust me Tim, we'll find a way to make it work."
Tim- "I'm supposed to say that. Well, it's a good thing you both have immunity, so carry on! I'll be at Henri's with my appletini."
Mark & Don- "Thanks, Tim."
Mark turns to Don.
Mark- "Why did I let you talk me into all this print? We are dead meat."

Food: Huge bacon and egg breakfast.
Music: Paris Combo.
Thoughts: Pull back! Pull back!

Well, the martinis were flowing at Henri's last night and the crazies were out. We woke up a little groggy this morning, but thinking clearly. We just finished our morning check-in meeting with all the sketches on the table in front of us. We decided to heed Tim's advice, and immediately removed two large floral prints from the mix. What occurred to me was that what we have done so far is what I consider "one-of-a-kind", meaning it's fun to do it and it's a special design, but garments don't pay their keep until they are incorporated into "the Line", and get mini-mass-produced. A one-of-a-kind garment rarely pays for the time it took to figure it out if there's only one sold. Not to mention everything was getting costumey, which naturally happens when you put two hams in the kitchen and let them cook. Our excitement of working together again took us back to our theatre days, and well, we went a little cray-cray with the florals.

So the focus from this point is now "Is it a 'Regalia' garment first?" Essentially, does it fit in with the rest of my garments? Can it be worn with an existing design? Is it a fabric I have more yardage of on hand? We studied the sketches and calmly talked about the direction for two dresses, Edna and Tracey, our plus-sizes. We started with interesting seam details that force an hourglass perspective on the body, and worked the dress out from there. Don is now drafting a pattern for it, and I like where he's heading. There's a jacket along with it that can really complement the dress.

I'm going to finish Penny's wack-o jacket from last night, and I'm not sure where I'll go from there. I'll probably do the skirt and top that goes under it. We originally chose two vintage cotton prints to make the skirt out of, but if you look at the picture of the jacket from yesterday, I think you'll agree we need to use nothing wilder than a pinstripe. So off we go!

Food: Gyros @ Chelsea's.
Music: "A Little Night Music"
Thoughts: "I want my life back."

Well, we had a bit of a meltdown in the studio today. Tim brought Nina Garcia in to see what we were doing, and she was... well, not kind. I showed her Amber's dress Don made and she raved about how cute it was, blah, blah, blah... Then I showed her my patchwork jacket for Penny and she made this awful face like she had just smelled her own stuff. My heart sank. I was already insecure about this piece, and I started shaking.

Mark- "Gee, Nina that face makes you look like you're trying to pass a corncob."
Nina- "Well, Mark, I'm absolutely horrified. This looks like a child's craft project gone wrong."
Mark- "Well, I know it's a risk, but I think it has something good to it."
Tim Gunn- "Nina, I think Mark at least has a good silhouette even if the fabric choices are busy."
Nina- "Tim, if you saw me in this you'd throw a net over me!"
Mark- "You know, Nina, last season Gretchen did horrible work and you told her she had her finger on the pulse of fashion."
Nina- "Mark, you have you finger up the as***le of fashion."
Mark collapses in Don's arms and begins sobbing wildly and saying something about moving to Arizona and selling maps. Don comforts him as best he can, until mark sees Don slip Nina a $100 bill...Mark stands tall, wipes away a tear, and walks slowly to the cutting table. Picking up his scissors and two bolts of floral print vintage cotton prints begins to cut out the matching busy skirt.

That was right after lunch, and Don and I haven't said a word since. Tonight I sewed Penny's PRINT skirt, and Prissy-pants drafted patterns for Edna and Tracey's dresses, cut and sewed both mock-ups, and sharpened all his pins. Big deal, so he's fast. Whatever. Tomorrow is another day. I have to make sense of Penny, and figure out what the heck to do with Velma, who we really haven't even looked at lately. No doubt Don will be wooing Nina and Tim with some spectacular sewing skills.

Food: Coffee, strong, in quantity.
Music: The Maybelles
Thoughts: Thank God Rosie's here!

Things are better today after the workroom drama died down, and we got a good night's sleep despite Nina's hateful attitude yesterday. Don assures me the $100 he gave her was repaying the money she had loaned him last week, and I believe him. I think. Anyway, my tears are dry and we have newfound direction today, plus we're finally working with actual color fabrics again, not just mock-up white.

I have decided that I like the style of Penny's jacket enough to stay with it, but now I'm re-cutting the whole thing out of crisp white Pique cotton, with only the collar being a vintage print that will tie in with the skirt I did for her last night. Rosie will be putting that together this morning.

Don has cut Tracey's dress out of Cilantro linen, and is now sewing it up. We may name it the "Origami Dress" because of the way it is constructed. It's difficult to describe, but it has a side seam that starts at the hem, travels diagonally up to a high waistline where it curves toward the shoulder and turns into a princess seam that runs up over the bust and continues over the shoulder as it connects the sleeve to the dress, then travels down the back and down, becoming a skirt side seam again all the way to the hem again. See, I told you it was difficult to describe. Penny's skirt does a similar thing, so it's turning into a Japanese-inspired season, not so much 1960's.

Next Don will be putting together a super-cute jacket for Tracey, and I'm not quite sure what I'm doing. Something to aggravate Nina, I'm sure. Tune in later, I'll be adding to this same post after dinner.

Food: Pizza!!
Music: Aida
Thoughts: Long way to go, and the night is not young.

Penny, Tracey and Luna- BFF! We had good luck with these girls today.. I re-cut Penny's jacket in white pique, took the vintage print collar off the other one, and Rosie put it all together, and we love it! Don whipped Tracey's linen dress and cotton print jacket together, and we love them, too. I obviously have not let go of my love for prints, but I feel like I have it under control, and can quit any time I want to. Don keeps urging me away from these more theatrical choices, but I say "why choose fear?".

Penny's new jacket!- take that, Nina Garcia-Biatch!!!

Tracey's PRINT jacket. Don begged for a solid color, but I pushed him over and pulled out this tropicana cotton! Don did a bang-up job patterning these two garments. The jacket is a bolero that drawstrings across the back and front but stays flat over the shoulder. Above you see it untied and hanging open, here it's tied shut with a wide neckline to show a hint of the dress. I will admit again that Don is still working circles around me, and churning out hit after hit.

This afternoon I made more fabric choices, this set of linens for Edna, our Plus-size mom. Her jacket will be softly-draped, two layers of hanky linen, solid green and white with a kimono collar that echos the dress underneath. The dress is a white linen with pink and green peony print. Yes, Don, PRINT!! I feel like the print is scattered, showing enough background to feel airy, and not busy. It's 9:00, and Don is cutting this dress. I'm signing off to draft the jacket pattern and cut it out. See you in the morning!

Food: Wasabi peas
Music: Cesaria Evora
Thoughts: I've got a mountain of sewing to do and my diet pill is WEARING OFF!

EDNA!!! After a fabulous breakfast at Local Flavor we arrived to what looked like a hurricane hit the workroom. A little tired, we put on another pot of coffee and began consumption. I think it's making us a little testy, I screamed at a telemarketer, and I may just put a bullet through Don if he nags me one more time about my use of florals. He even snuck in last night, hid the floral and laid a solid beige on the table next to Edna's pattern. It's Edna Turnblad, for gods sake, not her Royal Highness! But I digress...Floral or not, I really like the way Don patterned Edna's dress. It has a kimono collar that overlaps into a high waistline, and the skirt is cut on the bias. The bust darts are large tucks that come out of the collar near the shoulder.

I just finished the jacket that goes over Edna's dress. At one point I put it on the dressform and stepped back to take a look. I said "Uh, Houston...?". Don came over, pulled few pins out to let the top layer of green hanky linen fall away to reveal the pink underneath, which gave her some vertical lines, and then smugly walked away. I gushed and told him he was a genius and you know what he said? "It's still Bea Arthur."
Where's my gun?

"Gunn? Did somebody say Gunn?" We turn to the door to see Tim has returned.
Don and Mark- "Hi Tim, come on in. What can we do for you?"
Tim- "Well, designers, I just came by to- (sees Edna) Holy Mother of Sushi, what is THAT? Did somebody drop a peony garden in here?"
Mark- "Uh, no Tim, that's our Edna."
Don- "Uh, no, Tim, that's MARK's Edna."
Tim- "Well whoever is responsible for it will have to answer to the judges tonight, I'm not even going to touch it. You are running out of time and I don't see Velma anywhere.
Mark- "She's that pile of red vintage floral on Don's table." Tim's eyes land on the large red and green Dahlia print and he and Don let out a collective groan.
Mark- "Would somebody around here just TRUST me, please?"
Tim- "I wash my hands of this madness. You both need to have all five looks on the mannequins and ready for the judging at 10:00 tonight.
Both- "Yes, Tim."
Tim, exiting- "Make it w... oh, never mind."

End of Day 5.

Ahem. Ladies and Gentlemen, Fashionistas, Blog Enthusiasts. I regret to have to tell you there will be a postponement of what was supposed to be Mark and Don's final showing of their 5 looks to our Runway judges. Aside from the fact that we simply can't locate a third celebrity judge to join Michael Kors and Nina Garcia for the judgement, there's been a little, um, drama in the Regalia workroom.
I returned to the workroom earlier today to check on the designers because frankly I was a little worried after my earlier visit today, having detected some ill feelings over Mark's choice of fabric for the last look. When I walked in the door Mark was yelling something about how the looks were supposed to be theatrical, being inspired by "Hairspray" and he would use floral print fabrics
all he wanted, and if Don didn't like it he could by-god go back to Small Rock.
Well, Don ripped the red silk blouse he was making for Velma out of the sewing machine and began to flog Mark with it. Mark then picked up the sewing machine and went after Don, brandishing the 20 lb machine in the air, screaming "Prissy-pants! Prissy-pants!". Don then picked up a pair of scissors and went all "Tony Perkins" on Mark. I fled the studio to seek proper authority and when I arrived with local officers the two designers had reached an unhappy compromise. Well, actually, Don was happy. They were forcibly separated and are now in conference with our station Producers, and even Heidi has been called in. (Tim peers over the top of his glasses at the camera.) Things are very, very serious.
We will do our best to have our final judging take place first thing in the morning and reported to you immediately following. Thank you for your attention to the Challenge, and your thoughts and prayers for these talented young men. Or rather, these talented men. Good-night.

Mark stands onstage in a pool of light while eerie, dramatic unexplained music plays.
The challenge is over, and all designs were executed in time. For some unexplained reason, Mark faces the judges alone today. It is unclear what has happened to Don.

Heidi Klum- "Well good morning everyone. Despite some minor tensions in the workroom the challenge has been met, and we are ready to pass final judgement on the work Mark and Don have produced this week. Joining me today are top designer Michael Kors."
Michael- "Hey, Mark." Mark nods.
Heidi- "Seated by him is fashion editor Nina Garcia."
Nina, coldly- "Nice to see you again, Mark."
Mark- "You too, Biatch."
Heidi- "And our guest judge today, the Broadway production of Hairspray's original 'Edna Turnblad'- Harvey Fierstein."
Harvey, in that famous sandpaper voice- "Hello, Dolly." Feedback from the sound system sends everyone covering their ears.
Heidi, composing herself- "Well, Mark, we've looked closely at your five looks. Why don't you tell us a little bit about them?"

"We feel that the way we envisioned Velma in the 1960's was pretty much the way we saw her in 2011. She would have a retro look that was sleek, cat-like and very theatrical. She called for hot colors, so we chose a salmon dupionni silk accented with a red, salmon and yellow stripe silk. Don's patterning and construction for this blouse is spectacular, and I particularly like the stripe for the Pencil Pants.
Heidi- "But wasn't it the fabric choice for the pants that started all the drama yesterday? I thought the pants were going to be floral print."
Mark- "Well yes, Heidi. Don lobbied hard for the floral, but in the end I am responsible for this challenge and I had to rein him in. Obviously, he didn't take it well, or he'd be here next to me now.
Heidi- "I heard it the other way, that you were the one that wanted all the florals. Are you throwing Don under the bus?"
Mark- "I don't know this bus you speak of."
Heidi- "I see... Perhaps we should move on to Edna.

"Edna brought together all our research from Day 1. We wanted to incorporate a Japanese feeling with some intricate detailing around the neckline. In playing with how to control the fit over Edna's ample bosom, Don gave her a very deep pleat from the Kimono collar that I turned into a double-draping detail in the jacket to echo the dress's neck and to give her some vertical lines down the front."
Michael Kors- "Didn't I read in the blog that Don rescued that jacket by discovering that double-drape detail?"
Mark- "Can we stay focused here, please?"
Micael Kors- "Well, I was going to say that you have a body-skimming, slenderizing dress going on, then you make the mistake of covering her up with two layers of draping instead of more structure. It's very 'Golden Girls'."
Mark- "You're right, Michael. You know, now I remember, that draping was all Don's idea, and I couldn't talk him out of it."
Michael- "It sounds like you're throwing him under the bus again."
Mark- "And I think I don't want to hear any more about this bus."
Harvey- "I just want to say this dress is a knockout. It is feminine and pretty, and that excites me. I want to purchase this one when we're done."
Mark- "It's my gift to you, Harvey."

"Moving on to Amber. She's the pretty young 'Daddy's Girl'. We used some actual vintage floral taffetta mixed with a modern stripe.. I normally don't do things this labor-intensive or closely fitted, but we approached the challenge as a 'Couture Show', so we were willing to pay a little more attention to detail and fit. Again, we have what could almost be a 60's dress worn today. You'll also notice the bias-cut stripe silk ties her to her mother Velma's outfit, relating the women"
Nina- "Mark, I'm wild for this dress. I particularly love the little olive ribbon and yellow linen tie-belt, with the linen ties on the shoulder. It's so playful and flirty. I want this on the cover of the next 'Marie Claire'.
Mark- "Thanks, Nina, but I've already promised it to 'Vogue'."
Nina is dumb-struck, mouth open.
Heidi- "Well, you guys knocked it out of the park with this one. And only a little bit of floral on this one."
Mark only rolls his eyes.

"Tracey was a bit of a challenge for us. We wanted something youthful and flattering on a larger body. This dressform measures 42", 32", 42". The bolero jacket can be worn open like this or tied at the neck. I wish you could see the intricate seaming details I did here, and appreciate the way it's constructed. I had this amazing idea for one continuous seam that goes from the hem over the shoulder and back down, connecting the centers, the sides, and the sleeves together with one long seam.
Michael- "Didn't I read in your blog that was Don's idea too?"
Mark- "Playing bus driver again, are we Michael?"
Harvey- "This dress is hot, hot, hot. It reminds me of one I had in High School. The way you've done the drawstring around the top of the jacket is brilliant, and it can be worn so many different ways, I can see this as-"
Mark- "Excuse me Harvey, but I just can't listen to your voice anymore. It's making my throat hurt."
Harvey- "Sorry."
Mark holds a finger up to his lips with wide, scolding eyes. The camera catches a tear in Harvey's eye.

"Last, but not least, Penny. This jacket turned out to be a very time-consuming project. I spent my entire first day of the Challenge listening to Don talk about mixing 20 vintage cotton prints into one jacket for some crazy "boho" look (whatever that means), only to find out he had set me up. He knew all along how hard it was to combine so many patterns into cohesion, and that it would be a disaster. I managed to salvage the pattern by making the jacket again out of white pique with the best print only at the collar. I did let him talk me into two vintage prints for the skirt, but I think I managed to use them in a really clever way. The skirt also has an 'origami' seam that connects the yoke to the pleated skirt with one seam that starts at the hem, travels diagonally to the hip, around the butt and back down to the hem at an angle.
Nina- "OK, Mark, I know for a fact the original floral jacket was all your doing. I was in the shop with Tim when you were working on it, and I recall panning it. Again, you're throwing Don under the bus!"
Mark- "Ya'll just really love the bus metaphor on this show, don't you?"
Heidi- "I don't know what a meddafer is, but I know a cute skirt when I see one. This with a T-shirt and flip-flops will be my Summer staple this year.
Michael Kors- I agree, Heidi. This pattern is perky in pique, and perfect for Penny Pingleton.
Mark- "Uh, Panks, Pichael."

Heidi- "Well, Mark, I think we all agree here that you have once again risen to the Challenge. we were impressed with last year's '3 dress' challenge, but you really upped the ante this year, despite Don's attempts to drag you down. If 'Hairspray" took place in 2011, this is exactly what those characters would wear. Don't you agree, Harvey?"
Harvey is still sobbing, and dismisses his chance to speak with a wave of his hanky.
"The palette relates the women to each other correctly, letting their individuality shine through. You went out on a limb with plus-sizes, and though you didn't quite please us there, you made a great effort. If you can get a handle on your obsession with print and get back to those great solid colors in linen that you're so famous for, these designs will sell like wiener-schnitzel. So it's our pleasure to crown you and Don the winners of our '5 Dresses in 5 Days' Challenge, award you with $100,000 to produce your Spring/Summer 2011 line! Congratulations, and have a great Summer!
Mark- 'Thank you so much, everyone! Please come to Eureka Springs and visit us! We'd be pleased to have you. I'd like to thank all your viewers for following our challenge this week!

The real story.
If you'll give me just a few more minutes of your time, I just want to say a few words about Friendship. Leaving Little Rock 14 years ago was not an easy decision for me. Though I knew it was time again to transform myself, I was not happy about leaving my closest friends. Don and I met in 1986 through a mutual boyfriend, and though we never dated each other, we fell into a loving relationship, always in awe of each other's talents. We spent countless late hours together in the Costume shops of several theatres there over the years, usually with me designing and Don figuring it all out. Any time a detail was less than perfect, one would call the other over for a conference, and usually within 60 seconds brilliance had occurred.
I invited him up for what I hoped would be a "working vacation" for him, and a "jump start to the Spring line" for me. Mission acccomplished. Working for five straight days with him again brought back all the wonderful memories from our glory days as we relived our love for junk food and showtunes, never letting our eyes off the prize. Last night after we had dinner, I put him back on the road and returned to the shop to sew Velma's pants. As I was putting her outfit on the dressform to check it out, I opened her blouse to see how Don had put this intricately fastened garment together. For the part of the blouse that's underlapping the other, I had told him to "just gather the edge into something with a loop for a button-we won't see it." The photo to the left is what I got, found like a hidden couture treasure- a little piece of sewing art, that no one might otherwise notice. Little bits of silk perfectly sewn, forming a loop into a base holding the perfectly gathered edge of the blouse. This is what made me love him from day one- if anything was worth doing, it took no longer to do it beautifully.
We so rarely get to spend that much time together now we're so far apart. And what a reunion we had! We took up at the machines right were we left off in '97. Forget the fact that we spent the whole Mardis Gras weekend in the studio instead of attending all the costume extravaganzas with my Eureka friends. It made me understand the meaning of "Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver, the other is gold."
Well, now I can't see the keys.
Come back up anytime, Donnie! Next time bring Yslan, Alan, and Don with you- maybe you can all take the BUS!!!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Design Process

How does an idea become a rack of clothes?
Follow along- I'm working on my 2010 Spring line right now, and you can see the process first-hand.

All Winter long many ideas pop into my head. Most make it onto paper. Some are ripped out of magazines and catalogs to remind me of a cool detail or interesting color combination. If I find a great piece of fabric, I cut a swatch and pin it to my wall along with all the other ideas, so it ends up looking something like this photo- an odd collage of images, nothing concrete. In the real fashion world, a designer's line for a particular season would begin years in advance, making it necessary for the designer to predict the trends. I'm lucky in that my work happens in the moment, though it would be nice if I had the self-discipline to have started this back in December. The other good thing about my work is that I don't start over each season with all new ideas. My "Line" contains over sixty designs from the last ten years, perfected to work together, or mix and match, allowing the client to build a wardrobe that works with itself. If I can add seven or eight new designs each year that I feel are timeless and classic, then I'm happy.

Last week I panicked a little when so many ideas swirled in my head I couldn't decide which to try first, or which had already been tried. So I channeled my Virgo side, took all the little things I'd been seeing in my head and sketched them quickly onto the backs of old business cards. Some were new items, some were changes I'd been wanting to make to old designs (always perfecting), and a couple were designs that came out of my "3-dresses in 3 days" challenge that weren't quite ready for the racks. Some even had variations- for example, one skirt had four different ways it could go. Then each card was assigned a letter- "Skirt A", "Pants F", and so on. When I pinned them up in a row, I was surprised to see 16 new things to try! Gulp! So I created a chart to document the work done on each design, knowing that each garment will have to go through four stages: Prototype, Pattern, Parade, and Promotion.

Prototype- From a sketch, I make the garment, usually in a size Small. The sketch may not have all the details, those are usually filled in as I make the pattern. (Side note: the pattern might be draped on a dressform with muslin, then transferred to paper, or drafted straight onto paper, then cut and sewn. For more about this process, scroll down to the 3-dress challenge from a couple months ago.) Here you can see a dress that morphed out of Dress #2 from the "3-dress" challenge. The challenge dress is nice, and will please several clients, but I kept looking at it and thinking- "This has one more incarnation before it's ready". You'll have to scroll down to the challenge to see its predecessor.

Pattern- If I like the prototype and feel ready to commit, the next investment of time is to take the Small pattern, make any changes noticed in the prototype, then draft all the other sizes. In most cases, this means I draft four patterns- Small, Medium, Large, and X-Large. If a design is not too fitted, I may take it up to a 2X for Plus-Size. This process of "scaling up" the design is called Grading, and usually takes 3 to 4 hours, depending on the design.

Parade- I just coined this term! I used to call it "1st Run", but now I'm going for alliteration. After a pattern is graded, we have to make one in every size to make sure the proportions translated correctly, and that they really fit the sizes they are marked as. I have 4 dressforms in the studio with measurements that fit my standard size chart. If the garments fit their respective dressform size correctly, I proceed to make another run or two, to have a variety of color choices on the rack. (I will post a picture of all four sizes when that's accomplished.)

Promotion- Once a new design is on the rack, I have to let people know about it. And what a wonderful world of options is out there for me now as opposed to when I started this 10 years ago! Here I sit blogging, hoping someone has found this interesting enough to check out my website or join my email list, or follow me on Facebook, and so on... This year I have chosen to take my line out to four larger cities in my vicinity- Dallas, St Louis, Little Rock and Kansas City. Each show is booked 3 weeks apart, which gives us very little time to re-load the racks and fill custom orders in between, much less what we do through the showroom in Eureka Springs! The Postcard you see here is for the first show- in St Louis on April 17, at the home of Mary Ann Kroeck and Laura Cohen at 4128 W. Pine Blvd, 12-4pm. Join us if you can! (Now THAT's promotion!)
The final bit of promotion is a slow process- updating my website to include all the new garments. They have to be photographed and described with text that my web designer can upload as I feed it to her. And with all the other jobs I do at this time, she waits patiently.

Thanks for reading this post- I hope you found it interesting. I'll try to add some additional postings as new items hit the racks or other things happen that I think you might like.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Self-Inflicted "Project Runway" Design Challenge

The Challenge begins.

I promised myself if it snowed today as they predicted, I would not sit on the couch and watch videos all day and eat. I would instead be inspired to work on my Spring clothing line. I live close to work, and as long as we have electricity there's no reason not to burrow in and do this. SO HERE GOES.
It is noon on Friday. We've gotten several inches of snow, with no signs of letting up until late tonight. I'm starting the blog now, and will need some time to let people know I'm doing it because I think it'll be more fun to have an audience for this. I've had a big bacon and egg breakfast, the studio's warming up, Luna has pooped and settled in by the heater. I plan to start in one hour.

At one O'clock Central time, I will start the clock. I will begin with "Inspiration" and move on to "Sketches", then proceed to "Patterning", then to "Mock-up" or straight on to "Prototype".
By Sunday night, I must have three new dress designs ready to add to the 2010 Spring line in Prototype form. All the kinks must be worked out, and the garments have to be rack-ready. Why dresses? If you look at my website, you'll see that I'm all about seperates, but sadly lacking in dresses. I'm looking for three styles- a youthful cotton sundress, a more mature linen dress possibly worn as a tunic over pants, and a long-ish dress that can be made in linen for daywear, or in fancier fabrics for evening or formal. For the first hour I plan to look through books and vintage patterns for inspiration, focusing on the late 1960's, as well as the 1920's, which is the period that inspired much of the sixties' fashions- I'm thinking simple, geometric, classic. I'll be looking at some of the more "mod" designers- Yves Saint Laurent, Mary Quant, Ungaro, and the most bizarre, Paco Rabanne (remember the credit-card dress in "Priscilla?) and Correges (can someone pronounce that for me?) , wrapping up all these styles into the taste level of Givencey and Chanel. That's huge. I think I just wet myself.
So I'm now going online to let everyone know where to find this blog. I hope you will follow me through the next few days, forward this to friends, and by all means, feel free to comment. My friend Jaybee is having open-heart surgery all day- today's work is for him. Stay warm, stay tuned!

TIME: 2:45 pm

I have gone through every fashion history book and vintage pattern I have in the room. I mostly gravitated to the same silhouette- the classic column from the 20's that inspired the shift dresses of the 60's. LOVE the Yves St Laurent "Mondrian" dress! Had my hands on an actual one, back in my theater days, but I digress.
So I've laid out everything from Flappers to Gidget's Beach cover-up to Madame Vionnet's evening gowns to Connie Fails' hip-sash classic from the early 80's. Now, where do I start? I'm going to pull up a dressform, drape the basic shape, then figure out what the details will be. The trick- get the shape and comfort of the period, but keep it from being too sack-like or hip-heavy.

TIME: 5:00 PM.

Well, I don't know where I was headed, but I'm not sure if I like where I ended up. These pics show what I draped, and the pieces laid flat on the table,
ready for the pattern to be transferred to paper. I need to walk away from this for a while, so Luna and I are going home to make a pot of chili, and I'm going to try to come back tonight and start a prototype. I started off pretty well- The music began with "White- A blank page or canvas. The challenge- bring order
to the whole through design, composition, tension, balance,
light, and harmony."

A nice beginning. I draped the basic shape, added a wide waist band that will tie in the back as a sash (oh, no, a SASH?) Then I struggled a little with the collar, trying to keep it modern despite its Edwardian beginnings. We'll see where it goes tonight.

TIME: 8:45 pm Yikes!

Ok, I like junk food! If you look hard, you can see yogurt and fruit in there.
The snow is sooo deep! And still coming down! It's so gorgeous, this really is the best time to live in Eureka Springs. It's so deep Luna didn't have to squat to poop.
So I come back to the table to face the muslin pattern pieces ready to be put onto paper and labeled. I had hoped to have a prototype put together by the end of the night, but it's kinda late. I'll be doing good to get fabric picked out and cut it out. I have to choose a fabric that won't make it look too Dishtowel-y. esque. -like.

TIME: 10:30 pm

Ok, I give up for today, it was a good start, considering the morning was spent figuring out the blog. This was a fun day- a great way to snow in. Tomorrow will be tight- I'll have to do some snow-shoveling and shop chores, probably want to play with people in the snow. Kids will be sledding right out the front door all day since I'm on the biggest hill in town. As I turn 50, I see sledding as a potential $10,000 ER visit.
Anyway, I'm leaving the dress on my sewing table for tonight. I got it cut out, and begun. I chose a pretty swimming-pool blue linen. I wanted to do the collar out of white hanky linen or do some delicate contrast-color stitching on the hems, but it looked too costumey, so I'm playing it safe. If the design works I can always play with vintage embroidered linens or bits of old garments later. For now, it's about the pattern. I was shooting for the 1920's but shot too far back, and landed in WWI. Maybe I'll call it the "Armistice Dress". The next dress really needs to be simple, playful and more toward the 1960's.
Thanks for tuning in. Goodnight.

TIME: 10:30

Well, there WERE stairs here!?!
Good Morning! It finally stopped snowing, we must have gotten 10-12 inches. I've not seen snow like this in so long! So smooth, clean and white, like the lines from "Sunday in the Park" (see above). The town looks so gorgeous. Somebody bring me some snow ice-cream, please.
Ok, so here goes. I have to get this dress #1 put together. I challenged myself to have 3 rack-ready dresses by tomorrow night, but what happens if this one isn't rack-worthy? Do I have to do 4 or 5 to choose from? Who made up the rules?

TIME: 1:00 pm

Well, there you have it folks! Dress #1. Fruit of my efforts. Funny thing about this blog project- it's out there to see. Normally, I can scrape the clunkers into the trash or onto the sale rack without notice, but there's no way around that here.
It went together fairly quickly, always a plus. There was a little stressful moment while Edith Piaf was screaming "Bravo" at me, and I hit a pin with the serger, but recovered nicely. I think my last decision to add an extra 1 1/2 inces to the bodice late last night was a mistake- the waistband falls a little low now, throwing the proportion off. I'm not going to use valuable time tweeking now, though. The fabric was nice and soft, but the stand of the collar didn't hold up, so a pleat detail there got lost. If it were longer, I'd have an Edwardian costume on my hands. I may still. Let's hear what our judges have to say:

Michael Kors: "Well, I'm flabbergasted that you strayed so far from your inspiration, Mark. There's nothing here that remotely says 1960's or even 1920's. This is not Couture, this is Sally Field in 'Places in the Heart'"
Nina Garcia: "Could you turn your model around please, Mark?" (audible gasps from audience) "Can that really be a sash I see?" Yes, Nina. "Hmmmm.. Aren't you a little old to be making doll clothes?" Yes, Biatch.
Guest Designer Coco Chanel: "Well, frankly, I adore it. It looks like my days on the Riviera with my lovers. I'm simply transported. Thank you, Mark, you are a genius."
Heidi Klum: "I'm not in love with this dress. Good thing you have immunity, Mark. When you come back from lunch I want to see a better, more focused vision."

TIME: 4:00 pm

Now this is more like it! This should be easy.. A nod to Mondrian. Kept the waistband from the last dress, moved it way up. I see it in heavy white linen. Off I go!

TIME: 5:30 pm

Have to stop, Luna's hungry and my back's achy. Going home for food, coffee, yoga. That was an hour and a half to drape what you see in the picture and transfer it to paper. If I come back tonight, I'll cut and sew. If I don't, there will be too much to do tomorrow, and I'd like to have the whole day for the last dress.

TIME: 8:15 pm

The sky is clear tonight, and the full moon is rising over the East mountain, where the famed Jesus statue stands, arms spread wide. I usually ask "How big was that fish again, Jesus?" but tonight it looks like he just threw a huge lit ball into the sky. It'll be gorgeous walking home.
OK, so this picture was taken looking down on my cutting table. It shows the paper pattern pieces laid out in order so you can see that this dress is all about skirt. Even the pocket is bigger than either bodice front or back. I do want to point out that there are basic pieces like the front, back, and sleeve. But there are also a lot of "support pieces"- facings and such that finish off the garment. Part of this process (well, most of it actually) is figuring out how it goes together in sewing construction theory. It's like an architect drawing out the cuts on a board, while anticipating how it gets faced and painted later. If you look at the same pattern picture on the last dress, you'll see more support pieces- but this dress is pretty straightforward. The design choices here are which fabric (of three) get cut out of what. I originally saw this in white with black and red accent, but I remembered this great butterfly print I wanted to find a use for. So what I'm about to cut and sew tonight is butterfly for the skirt, solid black midriff, and solid white bodice and sleeves. Not sure about the pockets, but it can wait til last. I'm not too concerned about anything-with a babydoll dress, you always hear "does this make me look pregnant?" Whatever. Ok, Start the clock!

TIME: 11:pm

It's been a difficult night for machinery. As you can see, for no apparent reason, everything is being underlined, and there is no button to change it. Hitting the pin earlier today put a nick in my serger blade, so the thickness of the gathered skirt was a trial. And don't get me started on my computer's mouse, which is now laying out in the
The dress- Well, I think I'm pleased with it. The background of the butterfly print isn't as white as the top, so it looks a little dingy. If I hate it tomorrow, I'll go back to plan A, all white with red pockets. I never do gathered skirts, usually deep pleats, so this is a departure. Overall, I think it's really cute, and very summery. It is important that it have sleeves- so many of my clients won't show their arms. Let's hear from the judges:

Michael Kors: "Well, frankly I like this dress a lot, Mark, but I'm getting a little tired of linen schmatas. And I have to ask-is your model pregnant?"
Nina Garcia: This is a fabulous dress, but maybe a little busy. Could your model turn around, please?" (Audible gasps from audience) "Is your model carrying triplets in her ass?"
Mark: "No, Biatch."
"And again, Mark, I'm tired of seeing doll clothes on the runway.
Guest Judge Fashion Icon, Barbie: "I would TOTALLY wear this dress, for sure.
Heidi Klum: "Me, too, Barbie. Lord knows I'm pregnant often enough. Mark, congratulations. You are the winner of this challenge. Now go home. You look really tired"


Well, today should be a breeze. I have two out of three dresses done, and a whole day for number three. I had a big bacon and egg breakfast, and took my time coming in today. Maybe I'll just putter a while and...who's that coming in the door?.. Oh my Gawd! It's Tim Gunn!!!
"Why Tim, what big snowshoes you have!"
Tim: "Actually, Mark, these are a new look from Michael Kors' Winter collection."
Mark: "Hmmmm... And HE'S judging ME? Well, what brings you to Eureka Springs?"
Tim: "Actually, Mark, the judges feel like you have had it a little too easy this weekend, so they sent me to give you an additional challenge today."
Mark: "Nina put you up to this, didn't she?"
Tim: "Well, yes."
Mark: "Biatch."
Tim: "Tell me about it. So here's your new challenge- By the end of today, you must have an out fit ready for a highly-prized Celebrity. And here she comes now- Ms Barbra Streisand!!"
(audible gasp from audience)
Mark: "Oh my Gawd, Babs, what big snow shoes!"
Babs: "Thank you. I'm so happy to meet you, Mark. I'm a big fan of your clothes. I have your challenge for today-are you ready?"
Mark- (inaudible noise)
Babs: "You must design a 3-piece outfit for me to wear in my next Concert Tour. You still have to make the third dress. However, it has to open up to become a jacket over two other pieces. One of the other two can be something you've done in the past, but the other, whether it is a blouse, skirt, or pants, must be new, and rack-ready along with the dress/jacket by the end of today. I'll be back later for my fitting. Work hard, make me happy, boobalah."
Tim and Barbara walk out the door to have lunch at The Oasis.
Tim hollars over his shoulder "Make it Work!

TIME: 3:30 pm.

Well, this certainly has become a very interesting day. had I known all these celebrities would be dropping in, I'd have been here much earlier. I'm focused on a dress that can be casual in linen, or made of vintage brocade for evening, or say, a concert tour.

I've draped the dress in the usual way, adding a few details along the way, like these released darts at the shoulder and waist. Their main function is to create a smooth fit, but I happen to like tucks in place of darts. The skirt seam is so low on the waist that I can cut the skirt as a straight piece, since it falls straight down from the widest part of the hip. I am ready to cut and sew the dress, but I need to take a break, walk the dog and eat. I plan to be back early for one long evening session.

Here's an interesting technique I like to use in patterning- You can see the muslin sleeve pattern has been cut across at elbow level. That will become a seam for the lower sleeve, which is gently flared for a bell-bottom effect. You can see how I took the piece I cut from the bottom of the muslin, slashed it, spread the pieces, then traced the curve they made onto the paper to get a semi-circle. This way, the cuff can sew onto the bottom of the sleeve without gathers or pleats to create the curve. I thought this would be pretty as Barbra holds the mic up to sing "People".

TIME: 6:00 pm.

This is it, the last work period. It has been so much fun, on so many levels. I don't know which I enjoyed more- the work, the challenge, the blogging, the comments from you, all of it..What a great snow-in.
I've also had lots of thoughts cooking about what I've learned while doing this challenge. I plan to write a summary at the end of this, so I'm going to let the ideas churn for a while, 'cause right now I need to be sewing!


TIME: 11:00pm

I'm done! I did it! I can't believe I spent my entire snow vacation sewing! I'm going home now, and I'm sleeping late tomorrow! I'll come back in the morning to hear what the judges say, and to wrap the whole experience up. For now, here are several pictures of dress 3 as a dress, and as a jacket with two new garments just added to the line.


Heidi: "Well, Mark, you made it through the challenge. I have to say I'm pleased with what you've accomplished this weekend."
Mark: (humbly) "Thank you."
Heidi: "Let's hear what our judges have to say"
Michael Kors: Mark, I'm just in love with this coat/dress thing. I love your choice of fabric- this soft linen drapes beautifully. I never get tired of seeing you use linen- in fact, I'm using nothing but linen from now on. Good job!"

Nina Garcia: "Mark, I know I've been a little tough on you this weekend, but you really brought it all home on this one. I'm wild about the etched pearl buttons you put on this, and so close together! I also love the slimmer leg on these new pants you're making, but please don't stop making your wide-leg Patio Pants!"
Mark: "OK, Nina. Thank-you."
Guest judge Barbra Streisand: Mark, I'm moist as buttuh over this outfit! It is exactly what I've been looking for! You've taken my tired old white pantsuit and given it a new life! And that turquoise waistcoat will be so comfortable during the Concert. I've never loved linen so much! In fact, I think I'll write a new song about it- How's this- 'Garments....Garments that are linen...are the luckiest garments.. in the world..'"
Heidi: Sorry, Barbra, our time is up. Mark, you are the winner of "Project Runaway!" You will receive $100,000,000 to do with whatever you want. Congratulations!
Mark: Oh, my gawd! Thank you so much, everyone! And Barbra, don't be a stranger. Facebook me!



When I finally woke up this morning,I really felt like I'd been run over by a trike. All the pushing, and thinking, working, blogging had become a routine that frankly, was quite tiring. All I could think of was how much pressure it must be on "Project Runway". In my own studio I got to make up the rules, set the time frame, be my own judge, and not have the pressure of making something more fabulous or extravagant than my competitor's gown. And that my dear, is the way I feel about my life, and how I choose to live it.

So hold on,here comes a tidal wave of conscious thought
Of course I care what people think of my work, all artists do. But when the door is locked, and everything goes through the end of the funnel, it's really about my own pleasure, and whether I am connected to the universe by doing what I was put here to do, despite the odds.
I did this challenge because I had a clog in the pipes of my creative flow. Over the last few weeks, the things I had been making were not satisfying me, even though others liked them. I should have prefaced this by saying that Winter in Eureka is supposed to be a time of rest- If your business was good during the Summer, you can lock the door and go to Mexico, like many do. If not, you stay here and juggle the bills and think of some way to make fast money, like, say a clearance sale on linen clothing as the snow clouds rumble in. Then I began to listen to audiobooks by Abraham/Hicks that made me realize (in their words) that I was "beating the drum of what is"- "I don't have enough money, I can't pay the rent, I can't fix the roof, no money, no money, no money, etc." By chanting those things over and over, I kept everything the same. Money wasn't coming in, nothing was getting paid, and I was losing my excitement for my art. So I thought- instead of staring at the stack of bills all day, I may as well let them sit there, and go do what I really love, which is to create. Create with no expectation, unconcerned with whether or not it will make money for me, or be the next big fashion staple. Do it because I love the process, and all else will follow. As I began to blog the challenge, I thought- Who knows? This could reach the computer screen of the person who holds the missing link to the fortune that's waiting for me somewhere out there. Maybe all this experience I've amassed in the last 30 years will suddenly be carried to the deliverance point that will let me do this in the way I've begun to envision myself doing it as I look forward in time- not backward at my stack of bills or choices I made along the way.
After I set up the challenge on the first day, I went to all my mailing lists to let people know what I was doing- Facebook, chat lists, and something new I'm doing for my business- a monthly online newsletter sent out as an email blast to women who've purchased from me. In essence, if people could not come into the studio to see me, I would push my way into their home to show them what I was doing, because I think it's fabulous and somebody should be seeing it!
When I opened my email box today, I had notes from all over- friends cheering me on, telling me what a biatch Nina was to me, liking this, hating that. You wouldn't believe the list of characters people saw wearing Dress #1. And believe it or not, one client on my mailing list actually wants to order dress #2 in several colors!
Of course, I don't like all three dresses. But I don't have to. If you know my work, you know that I don't do a new "line" every season. Every garment I've done is my "line", made up of classic garments that stand up to time and fads, and it grows each time I commit to a new idea I tried and liked. The second dress is my favorite, and after some tweeking and other color options, it will be a popular item this Summer. When I was doing it, I felt plugged into my muse, and it came through. I'm still looking at last night's dress/jacket, and wondering what its purpose is in the line. I think maybe in dressier fabrics, I have a nice design for Mother-of-the-Bride. And somewhere out there is the woman who will go crazy for dress #1, and I will be interested to meet her. (Texas Bill nailed it- Cora Beth Godsey)
So to wrap this thing up, I humbly thank you all for helping me work through my latest life lesson, and watching me play roto-rooter with my soul. Thank you for being my audience, for paying attention, and for taking part with your comments. I would like to see my work lean more toward the media event this proved to be, so if you know someone who might enjoy my clothes, my blog, or be a new friend, please pass this along. There's a link on my website to sign up for the monthly newletter- that's a good start.
Now get away from your computer, and go make something beautiful!
Thanks again,