Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Wishful Thinking

Saturday was the last day to view the Isabel and Ruben Toledo exhibit in our school fashion museum.  I spent an hour sketching my favorite inspiration pieces.  It was relaxing and even more interesting after hearing them speak a few days earlier.  As a fashion design student here, I can't help but wish that my designs may someday be featured in the museum.

Yom Kippur meant another three day weekend.  I welcomed the extension of time and took advantage of the day by visiting a few shops.  I had quiche at Madeleine Patisserie on 23rd St.  The coffee shop is very French, from the chef and his family working in the kitchen, to the attitude of the help behind the counter!  The macarons are to die and everything is so fresh and delicious. 


I practiced sketching feet during my lazy breakfast.  My Life Drawing instructor suggested imitating the masters.  I used a book of human sketches and I was surprised at how much it already helped me in class on Wednesday.  I have a better feel for the shape of the foot and all the intricacies of tendons and toe joints.

My next stop was Mood to buy the fabrics I swatched for my Art project.  It is likely wishful thinking, but I would really like to make some of the pieces that I designed.  I think it would be a great way to round out my portfolio coming out of school.  I also hopped on the Subway to check out Pearl Paint on Canal Street.  The store is in a creaky old building with different departments on 8 floors (or more... I think that was the last one I climbed the stairs to reach!).  For the size of the store, I was not impressed with their selection.  I picked up a sheet of decorative paper for my art project, and used my 30% off coupon.  Not really worth the trip, but now I know that our Fashion Design Bookstore across from the store is unbeatable.  It's tiny, but they know exactly what we need for every class and they always have it on hand.

When I emerged from the subway on my way home, surprise!  Weather changes quickly here.  Note to self: always carry umbrella in purse.

Soggy after the trek from the subway station 

Monday, September 28, 2009

Pick my Battles

Fire drill!  As we filed out of the building, we saw vendors setting up outside our buildings.  Only at FIT can you shop during your fire drill!  I joked with a fur salesman that I figured he must have pulled the alarm to get shoppers outside - he got a good laugh out of that.

Back inside to grade the dart bodice.  Another A-.  I should be happy with that, but Prof. Seggio said I didn't change the darts that much and the assignment was creative dart manipulation.  Bummer.  I took it pretty hard which was stupid, but I keep thinking structured looks are my thing so I want to do really well in that class!  I hope she's just pushing me to stretch myself even more.

Front with tucks and a bust dart

The back with a cutout detail and style tape to indicate chains

My friend Anna had a really fun look and was definitely creative with her darts!

Then we started princess seam bodices.  We can do any variation but it was hard for me to decide what to do because then I REALLY felt pressure to be creative!  I wasn't inspired and I wanted to do quality work so I stalled and figured I could work it out over the weekend.

A couple of options for princess seams.  

Sleeves were the topic in Pattern Making.  We are learning to take a basic straight sleeve sloper and convert it into different puff sleeve patterns.  Our patterns aren't anything complicated yet, but I really enjoy the flat to three-dimensional process.

Joy, joy!  I was able to take an empty seat to see Isabel and Ruben Toledo speak at our school.  They are a husband and wife team - he the illustrator, she the seamstress.  They are best known for his illustrations for Nordstroms and her lemongrass coat that Michelle Obama wore on Inauguration Day.  She was very inspirational for me to hear after another long day/week.  Some of her ideas are so opposite from my current mindset, it was fantastic to open my mind to more creative ways to design.

 Ruben and Isabel Toledo in conversation with Valerie Steele from the FIT Museum.

I had lots of homework to finish before Friday.  I hand basted along the bias on my fabric for draping a cowl.  It took me longer than I expected to hand baste!  I was trying to be perfect again, and it was for something that really didn't matter.  I need to get better about picking my battles.  I also procrastinated my Art & Design homework.  I really enjoy drawing and rendering once I get started, but for some reason it's one of those things that I can't jump into easily.

We got to drape with real fabric today!  It was so nice to get away from the boring muslin and see bright colors around the room.  Prof. Renzulli gave us two hours to practice draping, and it took that long just to get an even cowl that I liked.  The silk I brought was harder to work with than I expected.  It's so wiggly!  I switched to my chocolate material.  I'm not sure on the fiber content, but it was so heavy I could hardly hold it up with regular pins!  For this simple assignment, our class produced some interesting variety.  I was impressed.

We worked more on our basics project in class Friday.  Prof. Bonner handed back some corrected and graded figures.  I got worse grades on my figures than my structured draping, yet it really didn't bother me.  Obviously I care more about the fabric manipulation than the drawing!  We have to decide this week if we want to try for the art specialization for second semester.  My decision to stick with the apparel specialization was solidified after seeing my art grades - ha!

I had to add this picture for my friend back home, Kandy.  We were margarita buddies.  With Kandy, I knew no better way of getting life back into focus than talking over a margarita or two.   Dallas BBQ on 23rd St supplied my end of week fix but it wasn't the same without Kandy!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Goodbye Free Time

I'm going to work backwards for this post...
It's Wednesday night, actually Thursday morning at 1 am and I just finished my creative bodice for tomorrow morning's class.  When I finished I was wondering why it took me 3.5 hours, but then I remembered that I didn't know how to drape anything four weeks ago!  :)  I am curious what kind of grade this will get because it's the first of our creative assignments versus following step by step instructions to learn the basic techniques.  So far I've been an A- student in Prof. Seggio's class.  Hopefully I can bump it up to an A for some lessons!

Tonight I got groceries - love that it's right around the corner, but hate that everything seems to cost twice as much here!  A can of black beans for $2.19?!  Come on!  I had to buy nearly expired spaghetti to pay a normal amount.

After groceries I went to a meeting about Fusion 2010 - the Fashion Show/Competition between Parsons and FIT students.  I am considering applying, however only 15 students are selected and an incredible amount of extra work follows.  I'm not sure if I am sure I want to do it, but there are fantastic opportunities that can follow.  Hmm.

Life Drawing in the afternoon was enjoyable like always.  We had the same model as last week and I really like her body shape and attitude/poses.  To begin, we did quick 1 minute sketches of her changing positions for around 30 minutes total.  It wore out my wrist!  It was a great way to quickly get an outline and a feel for body placement.  The rest of the class was normal 20 minute poses.  Mine look pretty good but I still need to work on hands and feet.  The teacher said those are the most difficult.

My three hour break on Wednesdays is quickly turning into work time.  So much for the laid back hump day.  I started draping my creative bodice front during the break.  I feel like I am going to have to start scheduling time for things like eating and personal hygiene!  I need to clip my friggin fingernails and I can't seem to get it done!

In the morning we had sewing.  My sewing samples seem to be coming together really well.  We're just doing simple seams, hems, and zippers, but you might be surprised at how difficult it can be to get a zipper inserted and stitch around it completely straight.  I hope the rest of the projects in that class go as well for me.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


This morning I turned in my faced, button up, flare skirt dress with cuffed sleeve.  Everything we do like this is a variation of the basics we have learned for draping a bodice and skirt.  I like seeing how the different styles are done.  Another A- because my collar was a bit too high in back.  Not too shabby.

In the afternoon we learned how to show a full skirt in Fashion Art & Design.  Here is the start of my picture. 

I still want to make my girls a little thinner but this seems to be my natural proportions for drawing.  Maybe normal sized models will come back into style and I'll be right on track - ha!

In the evening I worked on homework in my room. 

My roommate Katey was freezing so she found a creative solution.

Katey's classmate Eunice was hanging out with us doing homework.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Rough Start

Monday morning - ugh.  I got a few things done before my 11:10 class but I was up late Sunday night so the combination lack of sleep and general feeling of dread for my computer design class meant I was off to a bad start.  Then I got a computer that was having problems.  It was one of those situations where the teacher comes over and fixes the issue, but as soon as she walks away - the problem is back.  I was trying to get through it anyway, but then partway through the lesson and the project I started, the computer just shut off.  I don't know whether I kicked a power cord or what.  It was enough to put me over the edge.  I moved to another computer and tried to calm down.  I already feel like I can't keep up in this class, so getting behind because of stupid technology issues was too much to handle!!  Instead of crying on my muslin like I expected at some point, I was wiping away tears in a darkened computer lab because I couldn't keep up.  I have worked on computers for 10 years in different jobs so part of my issue is feeling like this should come easier!  Photoshop is a really intense program with a lot of components though, so I need to let myself learn it over time.  My friends asked about my lunch plans not realizing I had been crying and I let them know I would be going back to my room to bawl for a bit, but I thanked them for the invitation anyway.  They were very sweet and helped calm me down, but my roommate Amanda got an earful too.  Good friends - good listeners!  I really wanted to have a glass of wine or three during lunch, but I figured I'd better not since I still had to drape a straight pair of pants in the afternoon.

Draping class was much better (love Prof. Renzulli anyway).  I was able to get back on track and back to my normal self, although I realized I really need more sleep to function mentally and emotionally right now!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Rosh Hashana

I still had to finish my homework for Computer Design so Christine and I met to work in the computer lab on Sunday.  But, we found out that it was closed for Rosh Hashana.  Thank goodness Christine had just purchased the software for her home computer.  She invited me to her apartment in the Upper West side to finish the assignment.

Her place was very nice - wood floors, kind of a long and narrow setup but plenty of room for the necessities.  Her sewing area was very organized - something I'm not used to!  It was really nice to spend the day with her and get to chat outside of school.  I found out her husband Andy and she had found a church they like and it happened to be the same one that someone back home recommended to me!  After we finished the homework, we grabbed a bite to eat and went to evening service together.

The church is called Redeemer and in the evening at this location (there are several), they have hymns and updated songs, all set to a live jazz band backdrop.  It was really enjoyable.  I hadn't made it there myself partly because I was busy, but also because I just wasn't confident about how to get there. I found out from this day trip with Christine that the subway trip there is super easy and stops right outside the church.  So, thanks to Rosh Hashana, I made it to church service!  I can definitely see more trips to the Upper West side in my future.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Fun Homework

Angela and I decided to have brunch at one of her favorite places and then head to the workroom.  On our way to the lower East Side to get to the restaurant, we stumbled upon this fantastic vintage fair/flea market.  It was like nothing I've ever seen in Iowa or Missouri where old Alf shirts are a treasure... this place had furs, dresses from the forties, fun hats, brooches, etc.  We had so much fun digging through boxes of belts and trying on interesting garments.

Angela liked this crazy material for draping a swing skirt

I got this wool camel blazer for $10!  I passed on the hat and snakeskin purse though.

This super friendly dog was out shopping as well.  I miss my dog, Storm!

Angela loved these crazy pants - we didn't even know which was the front/back at first!  The guy working the booth wouldn't lower his price from $20 though.  She was mad that he took less for my blazer than the Hammer pants.

Old photos.  Interesting to think that pictures from today may someday be sold like these.

We had so much fun shopping that we ended up staying for quite a while.  I got some great elbow high leather gloves that were priced right.  Next door there was even more to see upstairs.  Really old clothes and some amazing fur coats.  We finally made it to the lower East Side but still didn't make it to the Pink Pony to eat because we found a Young Artists Fair.  I enjoyed seeing the creations of people my age.  Some of my favorites were hats and fabulous belt creations made out of ties and zippers.

We managed to start brunch sometime around 3:00 pm! The Pink Pony had flavorful fresh food and the atmosphere was like an old coffee shop with modern touches.

Delicious strawberry pancakes that we shared

And my savory spinach and brie omelet with rosemary roasted potatoes

We stopped to do some homework by shopping through American Apparel for an inspiration piece.  On the way back to the subway, I cracked up when I saw a herd of runners in red dresses!


You go girls!

Antique shop lion

We made it back home right around 5:00 and headed out again to shop/research H&M and make a stop at Barnes and Noble.  I never made it to the workroom!

After a little bit of downtime and a mini nap, it was time to get ready for the evening.  Katherin's friend was having a birthday party and she invited us to go out.  It was a fun time dancing and meeting some of her former coworkers.  We even got cheesecake from the birthday boy, but there weren't any forks so we all looked ridiculous eating straight off the plates!

Katherin, Angela, me & Virginia

What a perfect Saturday spent exploring the city with a friend.  I can try to plan my days, but leaving room for adventures has been so rewarding.

Friday, September 18, 2009


TGIF!  It's been a long week.  Soft Silhouettes draping class was first this morning.  We started draping pants.  I've drafted a pants pattern based on measurements before, but never draped pants.  We get to use the funny looking full body mannequins so there are legs to work around.  Prof. Renzulli warned us about setting them up too high because they can fall over easily and they are very heavy.  Poor Angela barely touched hers during the lecture and it fell right over, taking out some stray T squares along the way.  I was afraid it was going to be a domino effect of mannequins but the loud crashing stopped with hers.  We all laughed - it was just an accident but the timing was funny after he had just mentioned the danger!  Angela was cracking me up that morning anyway saying that the bags under her eyes are going to be her new accessory for the fall.  What a week.

Setting up for denim rendering in Fashion Art & Design

In the afternoon we worked on indicating denim in our illustrations.  That was fun - learned a couple techniques including etching over a piece of crisp new denim to actually show some of the diagonal lines.  I'll have to post a picture of my denim ladies once I finish.

My Friday night was WILD.  I got groceries because we were out of toilet paper.  I picked up some yummy healthy Korean food for supper, then went to the workroom for a while with Angela, MaryAnn and Katherin.  I didn't last very long there because I was tired enough that I seemed to be making more mistakes than progress!  I headed home and tried to explain to all the young'ns on my floor that I was too tired to go out with them and I went to bed at a decent time.  It felt good.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Catching up

Even after the relaxing classes yesterday and a nice workout in the evening, I was feeling stressed.  It seems the teachers were right about predicting a meltdown about three weeks in.  Several of my classmates have admitted to breaking down at some point in the last week and I was borderline last night.  Homework wasn't stressing me out as much as overall pressure and feeling backed up on everything at home like laundry, groceries, paperwork and bills.  My desk is a mess so I feel like my life isn't in order!  Several classmates worked until very late last night in the workroom, but I couldn't bring myself to do it.  Now I'm behind them in homework, but I know I have plenty of time this weekend and I think I saved myself from crying all over my muslin.

This morning I felt better, but I certainly wasn't working at my normal pace.  Everyone was draping a swing skirt or circle skirt, and I was still working on my collar to complete the bodice from last class.  I'm still okay with my progress because I understand the lesson so I'll catch up this weekend.

I was able to take care of several things during my lunch hour so my desk started to get into better shape.  I grabbed a quick wrap from the cafe down the block and even had 5 minutes to spare to check out the tables promoting all the school clubs that I won't have time to join!  I picked up some freebies including much needed tote bags.

 This man and his poodle stopped in front of our school to pose for anyone with a camera.  I don't know anything else about him.  He was wonderful.

Pattern making in the afternoon was good.  The bodice I cut from her basic sloper wasn't fitting my dress form well at all and Prof. Underwood pointed out that the mannequin's neck was broken!  You wouldn't believe how beat up some of the forms are.  I am working with one that has a spiral drawn on her breast and most are marked up, some are missing pieces of fabric covering... It's just not in the budget to update them as often as they need.  But students are marking on them and shouldn't be, so I can understand why the school doesn't want to spend a lot there.  At the teacher's suggestion, I changed to a different model with her neck intact and didn't have to make as many adjustments to the bodice, but the whole process took up more time of course. 

Home to catch up on more paperwork and I feel so much better because I can see my desk!  Then I went to Zumba class which was a really good workout with Latin dance inspired moves.  Back home for homework and bed!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

I love Wednesdays!

Wednesdays may be my new favorite day of the week.  The classes are easy for me so it feels like a break from the stress of the normal routine.  In the morning I have sewing.  We are covering the basics and it is almost identical in curriculum to the Iowa State class I took.  I'm getting more practice on the industrial machines and my samples are looking good.

Then I get a three hour break which almost feels like vacation!  I am able to get daytime errands done, call businesses that are only open 9-5, and relax for a long lunch.  Not today though... we have an assignment due on Friday that we were given on Tuesday so several of us booked it to Mood for sampling!  Mood is open limited hours in the evenings so this was our best chance.  I realized it was my first trip to Mood.  I thought I stopped in briefly last year when I visited NY but it was another store.  Then I remember how I felt overwhelmed at some of the other fabric stores so I didn't even attempt Mood!

Greeting us at the door is Swatch - Mood's mascot.  He has a calming effect.  :)

The next thing you see is a sample draped fabric by one of the talented employees.  I can't wait until we get to this level of draping!  The dress looks sewn, but it's simply pinned in such an impeccable way that the pins look decorative and the dress is stunning.

It's interesting how differently we all approach our assignments.  My friend Christine had inspiration and was collecting as many samples that caught her eye as possible.  Another friend Angela was snipping and was already forming a color scheme that looked like her style.  I struggled at first, not knowing where to begin, partly because I prefer higher quality fabrics so I kept veering towards silks but the assignment calls for cotton and knits only.  Bummer.  I really need to learn to use those creatively too!  I didn't have any ideas for the style of the clothes yet, so my samples still need to be edited in a big way.  But I left feeling like I had a lot of choices to work with.

In the afternoons on Wednesdays, Life Drawing is my stress-relief.  Drawing what's in front of me comes easily versus the pressure of coming up with something creative and original.  I love sitting and drawing the nude models and learning more about how the human body is composed.  Everyone is unique, yet there are similarities between any size of person.  I still want to work on faces and everyone in the class has to practice hands and feet because our instructor said those are the most detailed part of the body and the hardest to capture.  He is very right.  I'm seeing improvements already just practicing once a week.

Here are some samples of my sketches.  These are 20 minute poses with a live model and we are mainly focusing on the body proportions and the outline of the person.

Sorry it's so light - the newsprint is hard to photograph in my dark room.

I really liked this model.  They are all quirky (okay, some are straight up strange) but I think you might have to be to get paid to stand naked in front of 25 people for the sake of art.  At one point during a break, she was back in her dress but chose to lay on the small stage at the front of the room for a little catnap.  Hmmm.

Her poses weren't the most interesting, but that meant she was actually able to stay more still.  Her face turned out pretty well - I'm trying to work on my faces.  It's hard to capture personality and expression in a small sketch.

Wonderful Wednesday.  Back to full steam ahead tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Ramping Up

Today I woke up tired from all the surreal activities of the weekend. Tuesdays are busy because my classes meet from 9 am to 6 pm with an hour break for lunch that passes VERY quickly! In the morning we draped another bodice with different variations of darts and we are learning to drape a collar and a front button closure. My bodice is coming along pretty well. It's hard to get everything perfect because the dress forms are about as unique as people. Mine doesn't have a very good shoulder ridge so my ease measurements were causing problems, but once I figured that out I was back on track.

In the afternoon I had Fashion Art class. I really enjoy the class, but sitting to draw for that long can get to be tedious. We turned in our assignment from last class - 5 heads colored with markers and shaded with colored pencils. It was a new art technique for me so I took a long time completing them last night (also contributing to my tired state!).  Overall I was pretty happy with the final result but I still need to practice hair.

My five heads with varying necklines

My favorite.  She was supposed to be blond but the red took over.  Turned out really well anyway.  It was interesting how many of the students seemed to have one head that looked like themselves.  This was the closest to my look!
Sexy librarian.
 She turned out pretty too.

I really overworked her hair.  I don't have a lot of colors to work with yet so I ended up coloring too much but tried to make it work with pencil over the top.  Prof. Bonner said it looked good even though I didn't get enough highlights.  
During class today we got to walk over to the color lab in the FIT museum.  It was an amazing field trip.  The lab has paint chips organized by color and hue and file cabinets full of every color so you can get swatches of the right color.  The most amazing part was the woman telling us about the process of checking out the lab - she was an amazing wealth of knowledge!  We got to see resources that forecast colors for upcoming seasons.  Some of these resources are worth a few thousand dollars and fashion houses don't always budget for them - unbelievable resource!!  My Prof was even drooling over the chance to see Trend Union color swatches because she said she hasn't seen them in years in her design jobs.  The museum worker took out white gloves to roll open this cloth with all the swatches attached in groupings.  There were also books that explained the inspiration for the colors and the way the groupings worked.  It was really inspiring.
Even as I admired these tools provided by industry professionals, I still had that little voice inside me saying that I want to set trends, not follow someone else's idea of what I should do.  I wonder if I will ever get to that point in my career where I can truly be as unique as Dries Van Noten and do whatever I want instead of selecting colors and designs for the simple reason that someone else told me they would sell. 
We headed back to class and started on our next assignment - three color rendered swimsuit figures.  Prof. Bonner also explained our big upcoming project.  It will be my first chance (outside of my portfolio to get into the school) to show a grouping of separates coming together for a mini-wardrobe.  It's scary and exciting at the same time.  These things are always intimidating to me at first, but I love seeing them come together - I end up surprising myself. 

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Not Your Average Day

Fashion Week in NY begins! My day started with a special event for only 70 students with designer Dries van Noten. He won the 2009 Couture Council Award for Artistry of Fashion by The Couture Council of The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology. He agreed to accept the award on the condition that he would be allowed to speak to some students (love him for that!!). This school is amazing - the resources are unbelievable. I feel so fortunate to be included in the select few who got to witness this designer answering our questions in an intimate setting. We took a group picture with him and I feel like it was an incredible kick off to the whole school year.

Master of color, Dries van Noten

Anna Wintour, Editor in Chief of Vogue (genius) took an idea from White Night in Paris and generated support from Mayor Bloomberg to have an evening devoted to fashion which could boost the economy of the fashion industry. 700 retailers stayed open until 11 PM and celebrities and designers were on hand for an amazing night of shopping, celebrating and fashion! Fashion's Night Out became a worldwide event with several major cities participating. The fashion industry in NY is second only to finance in the number of people it employs. Helping the whole industry is a fantastic idea, and a huge undertaking. I think they pulled it off beautifully.

I went to Barneys (first time) and they had so many things going on, I never even made it to another store. Champagne and hors devours were on every floor although it was so busy I never managed to get a glass! It was overwhelming even getting inside the store because there were people filming and cameras just waiting for celebrities to enter.

Venus Williams was out shopping with her mom. She seemed unfazed by the madness.

Jonathan Adler demonstrating his pottery methods

In the cosmetics department this gentleman asked to "borrow my eyes" and then he did a mini makeover for me. It wasn't until I was done and walked away that I saw some girls taking pics with him and realized he was on the program bill - Claudio Riaz, "Brush Guru!" Had a good conversation with him about how he got into the biz. He says he is possibly the only straight married man in his line of work! He is based out of Chicago and likes being in the center of the country for easier travel.

Supermodel Iman. Sweeeet.

Do you recognize this man?

Manolo Blahnik! Shoe legend!

Gina (from my dorm floor) and I even got to make a flip book with Coco Rocha! We met her (she's super fun by the way) and danced with her for 5 seconds and then they made a little action flip book of it!

I was a little surprised that the biggest excitement seemed to be for Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen. The crowd gathered to meet them and it was insane. Gina got a picture but it was just because she held her camera up over the mass of people and pointed it down to where the girls were. The security guards had to be concerned that they would be trampled! Meanwhile, I met a photographer from Hollywood and also talked to a nice woman from Rhode Island that has a daughter interested in fashion. It was fun answering her questions about FIT even though I told her I was new and didn't know everything!

We ended the night at McDonald's. I would have loved to support the fashion industry instead of the fast food industry, but trust me, the burger fit my budget better!