Thursday, May 12, 2016

Modernize Or Die

As many of you may know, I teamed up with Carolena Nericcio-Bohlman of FatChanceBellyDance a couple of years ago to create a line of versatile clothing - both for dance and for fashion - and we carved a little sewing studio out of part of her dance studio in San Francisco. We've come up with some fun garments that have been doing well and this is where I sell the Bessie Skirt. Unfortunately, despite our best efforts, the city had other plans for us and a dance studio that has been a huge part of my life for many, many years now has to close.

These things don't happen overnight, of course. Bit by bit San Francisco has been rubbing out its diversity with greed. The Bay Area is congested beyond belief. The commute into the city is a nightmare unless you hit it just right - and this is getting worse by the day.  If you have to schlep lots of stuff around, public transportation isn't feasible, Parking is all but nonexistent, the landscape changes daily, businesses are gone overnight, citizens are fleeing  because of the impossible conditions of trying to get by............and then it is exhausting to come back class attendance was down and getting worse because of all of this. Despite obvious interest in sewing classes, it was just too hard to fill a class............

I knew it was all over when I came into the city for our weekly meeting/ product development/sew-fest and the cheapish parking lot ( the only one close by) was closed.  That was the nail in the coffin for me. And then the landlord died. Well, we know now what comes next.

So everything is changing and the studio is shutting down. Classes will be spread around to make it easier for all to attend and Carolena is opening a shop in Half Moon Bay where the Bessie line will be featured. There will also be online shopping, of course! The magic will continue and it will be awesome! There is much more fun to be had!

An era is ending, but a new one is beginning. Modernize Or Die is the new motto.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Manus x Machina: My Small Contribution To A Fabulous Gala Event....

The Met Gala, formally called the Costume Institute Gala and also known as the Met Ball, is an annual fundraising gala for the benefit of the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute in New York City. It marks the grand opening of the Costume Institute's annual fashion exhibit. Each year's event celebrates the theme of that year's Costume Institute exhibition, and the exhibition sets the tone for the formal dress of the night, since guests are expected to choose their fashion to match the theme of the exhibit. Each year the event also has honorary celebrity event day chairpersons.


The Costume Institute Gala is a major fundraising benefit that serves as an opening celebration for the Institute's annual fashion exhibit. Following the event, the exhibition runs for several months.  The Gala is widely regarded as one of the most exclusive social events in New York and one of the biggest fundraising nights in the city. It is one of the most notable sources of funding for the Institute. The affair, attended by personalities from the arts, fashion, high-society, film and music, has been held at the Met since 1946 and is considered to be the fashion industry's premier annual red carpet event. Its red carpet fashions are widely photographed, reviewed, critiqued and emulated.


Obviously this event is a big deal and generates a lot of donations to help run the Met's Costume Institute. It takes an insanely huge amount of revenue to bring us exhibits and do all the things. It has been slammed as a celebrity prom (whats wrong with that?) and there are always those who complain that the money used for $2000.00 manicures could be used to solve world hunger. Well, lets get real: it keeps your creatives and our suppliers fed instead. That is a big deal to those of us who like to eat as well.  And then we trickle this money into all the other businesses of our choosing.
                                                    This. Is. A. Good. Thing. 

 We have all seen the celebrities on the red carpet at this event. If you didn't know better, you would assume that these are the only  attendees...........but there is a whole event packed with plenty of people who paid big bucks to attend and who are wearing amazing pieces. They may not get all the attention, but they pay the admission price and they pay dearly to support the Museum and to stand out in the crowd. I was happy to help out this season................

Chris March designed a lovely ensemble for one of these generous ladies. She was very particular about the gown, the design, the fabric, the theme.............she was very hands on and had a great sense of humor. She loves dressing up and understands what it takes to make a project like this work.  I made the mockup and carried out the design. We "made" the fabric. I sewed yards and yards of leather trim onto bias cut skirt pieces. I had a lot of fun with this!

And after the skirt was done, I covered a bustier to match the skirt. That part wasn't as much fun because my machine started rebelling.  But the machine and I worked it out. We're good like that.

 This is what the skirt originally looked like when it was done. It fit her perfectly and she was thrilled, but after much discussion and contemplation, she had us cut out the back train. She wasn't going to have a crew available to help her maneuver the crowd. After having plenty of trains trampled in crowds myself over the years,  I couldn't argue with her concern. I get it. So we took out some volume. It was still a pretty voluminous skirt and Chris took the opportunity to take the trim off of the discarded train and add more to the gown.............

Look how pretty this fabric is up close: very Manus x Machina if I do say so myself.

 Chris made a spectacular neckpiece for her.

She looked like a Movie Star, had a great time, was theme appropriate, was sooooooooo pretty, looked like royalty, didn't get trampled, and everyone asked her where she got her garb.


Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Good Morning!!

Good Morning Ladies and Gentlemen! As most of you - but not all of you - know, I have been helping Carolena E Nericcio-Bohlman create a fun line of wearables that can be worn to dance class or cross over into your day and evening wear! This is the Bessie line of clothing that started with my Bessie skirt! This skirt was designed to be practically lived in and Carolena and I worked on some improvements to the design and then went on to make more great things to wear! The Bessie skirt was designed to be worn in more ways than I can mention here - I wear mine ALL THE TIME!!!!! I have been seen chopping weeds and digging in my my garden in my old one - and sashaying into a party in my newer one. It makes your butt look dynamic!! All the butts.......
What makes the Bessie Skirt unique is the way in which it is designed to be flattering on all bodies, and to be worn in many different ways. You can leave it down, or take one or more of the loops placed at the hem and attach them to one or more of three buttons at the hip line. You can wrap it around your body, wear it as a strapless dress, bustle it up in back or at the sides, or turn it into a pair of pants - I kid you not! 

And now we have the Choli Dress, which is also a smashing success! It has a built in choli underneath, is open in the back, ties in the back like a choli, and has buttons and loops so that it can be worn in a myriad of ways!

Come here to this link to buy your very own or to see more photos! Keep checking in! We are working on so many new designs and ideas! I can tell you one thing......Plus sizes are going to be offered for the Bessie Skirt ! The pattern is being graded as we speak! More is coming down the pike, my friends!!!! Keep Checking In!!!


Sparkle Plenty

 I was super busy last Halloween with a big project. I was commissioned  to make a Prince costume and then also a fun feather and sequined dress inspired by Cruella Deville for  the client's wife. 
It started with my making a mock up of the garment from her measurements on a plain muslin fabric, sending the mock up to the designer and the client to try on, making revisions to the pattern, and then constructing the costume. I use the mock up and revisions as the pattern. This part of the process is usually fun for the client as we draw on the fabric while they are wearing it. This must feel really odd and kind of funny at the same time! We made Prince first because his costume was more work. ( It was tailored and very form fitting ) While Cruella was a lot of work also, (lots of handwork with feather application to the sleeves ) hers was built so that the skirt and bodice was somewhat adjustable. The whole garment was lined and she had a drawstring in the bodice neckline for ease if necessary. The skirt crossed over at the side front so that some leg could peek out without looking too hoochie-mama.

We made the train so that she could hold it up while she danced. It was for a three day Halloween bash - and we knew that there was danger of being stepped on.
The fabric was just gorgeous!
I never saw a picture of this on her, but I was assured that she loved it! Pardon the bad photos and messy studio! Feathers were flying!

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Happy May Day, dear World!

 Its the first day of May and Im very busy with completing a wedding dress and putting in my garden! 
Clara just needs to try her dress on one last time, and then she can take it home. We got it done very quickly - which is somewhat unusual in my line of work. She got Christina Molcillo (my super amazingly brilliant partner is wedding dress making crime) and I at just the right time!  Story and pictures will be coming once the bride gets married. We dont want to spoil the surprise, do we!

It is spring and we are all hoping for a lovely summer and some positive changes in the years ahead!

I really don't know what exactly is ahead for summer. I have some tentative projects lined up, work on the Bessie line, a logo and new website that is being worked on ( Im itching to get this up!!!), revision and updating of my little sewing pattern line, friends going away and old friends moving back..........the constant ebb and flow...........and never knowing what each day will bring!

Happy May Day! May you bloom and prosper!