[The DIY Files] stressed and distressed.

Like many of the 20-something American women out there, I have a disease called ‘I Can Make That’-tis. Even though my skill sets may be nowhere in the same ballpark as what’s needed to make something I can more-easily buy… I would much rather make it. It REALLY becomes a problem when I see a high-end item, or a runway trend, and the wheels begin turning in my head. That’s where The DIY Files come to the rescue.

Hot Glue crisis… AVERTED!

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I know, I know, this was supposed to be ‘revealed’ … 2 weeks ago? Well, someone went to town on the original denim shirt and tore it into shreds. Since it was no longer usable as a ‘jacket’ its remnants have been relegated to the ‘scrap’ pile for painting. That led to another visit to Target/Ross/Target again, where I managed to find a second denim shirt to rip up.

(this is why I can’t have nice things.)

The whole theme of ‘distressed’ is to mix the random and destroyed with just enough restraint to maintain a punk-but-publicly-permitted vibe. I would say there are no rules for this DIY, but a few guidelines help keep you from veering into ‘underground vermin’ territory.

On to the DIY!

Materials I suggest you use for this project:

  • A denim jacket or button-down shirt. I recommend the latter because layering will be far less complicated if you’re working with a less bulky item. Also, if you’re planning to use studs and spikes, they’re much less difficult to punch through the button-down fabric.
  • Scissors
  • Sandpaper. You can get a pack of 5-10 sheets with varying grits (roughness) for less than $5 at Michaels or WalMart.
  • An X-acto knife or blade to cut slits into the fabric.
  • A plastic lid or thick flat surface to place inside the shirt.
  • Tweezers or something to pick threads apart.
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tools of the trade.

  • Straight-pins or t-pins to secure fabric while working.
  • Patches* and buttons and spikes and studs for the finishing touches. Patches can be iron-on, but I still recommend needle and thread to secure them on.
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from years ago.

Moving on to the how-to:

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no one can hear you scream, shirt.

1. Taking the shirt, lay it out on a flat surface and visually mark where you’ll be placing the distressed areas. Try it on to see if the rips and shreds have the impact you’re looking for.

2. Start off with wearing down the elbows — which would occur naturally over time, making the ‘worn’ look far more within the realm of reality.

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for the sleeve.

3. While trying on the shirt, mark (crease) the approximate location of the elbow, then cut a single slit with the scissors.

4. Alternating between the thicker and thinner grits, take the sandpaper and began rubbing it on the fabric, perpendicular to the grain. I.E. the denim strands run vertically, so rub the paper horizontally.

5. Next, move onto the torso portion of the shirt; attack the shoulders’ front and back sides, first with the X-acto blade, then with the sandpaper.

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using the tip of the blade to pick at threads.

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fraying.

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more fraying.

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rubbing the blade perpendicular to the cuts.

6. The front of the shirt still looked too ‘new,’ so I did some light sanding along the front button-panel of the shirt.

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wax on, wax off.

7. Finally, some accented touches of distressing were added to the bottom hem of the shirt and the collar tip.

8. For the bottom hem, place the plastic surface between the front and back panels of the shirt.

9. Cut a few slits with the blade along the bottom of the front panel.

collage front bottom

10. Alternate between the larger and smaller grain sandpaper to rub the slits to pull threads out and cause it to appear frayed.

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11. Repeat along the collar, but don’t do both collars — symmetry is not the aim here!

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12. For the patches and pins, place them on the shirt and play with composition first before attaching them permanently.

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13. Using the straight pins, attach the patches to the back of the shirt.

14. Threading the needle with some dark navy thread, stitch the patches onto the shirt. They don’t need to be precise and machine-like; in fact, the bit of distortion in stitches will make the shirt more personalized.

15.  Once the patches are stitched on, add on the buttons and pins.

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yep.

16. For the final touch, place the studs and/or spikes in an unexpected place. Here, the spikes are used along the side of the wrist cuffs, cutting off the buttons first.

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off come the buttons…

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…on go the spikes!

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careful, don’t stab yourself.

See, so easy you can ‘eff it up! Don’t pull a Monica and attempt to sand while watching a Big Bang Theory marathon because a little sandpaper goes a lonnnng way. Also, you’ll have to start over, ha.

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Dear Fall, please hurry so I can wear this shirt-jacket, mmmkay?

– Nita

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[inspiration alley] denim destruction.

Part of my DIY-ing adventures stem from the fact that I’ll see a piece — something basic, or maybe not so much — and instantly think of its potential. Mind you, whether or not the potential plays out is another story.

collage denim

denim on the runway / style.com

I have to admit that one of the pieces I’ve held onto for several months (ok, a year now) is a denim shirt uncovered in the clearance rack at Target. Seriously, how ridiculous.

I had this moment in the store that day, a moment which could have been graphically illustrated with the typical light bulb over my head, a comical zig-zag framing to indicate the sudden burst of an idea. I saw the shirt, I saw the price tag, and I conquered.

Ok, that last bit isn’t quite true. I mean, can I really say I conquered the item if I haven’t even pulled it out of the closet? In over a year?

:hanging head in disappointment:

Since we’re heading into that weird late summer/not quite fall part of the year, I figured now is as good a time as any to determine what I wanted to do with the shirt.

Denim is such a versatile and timeless material, it was killing me that I had simply abandoned it out of… fear? confusion? distraction? Nonetheless, I headed over to Pinterest, the “Holy Grail” of mood boards and ‘inspiration’ galore to see what could possibly spring forth from this denim article. I wanted to create something with more kick than the usual denim, but without locking the piece into a box of trends that would ultimately relegate it into the shame-space at the back of my closet.

Of course, the first population of images were the usual J.Crew-adjacent compositions: denim shirt + leggings/skinny jeans + scarf/statement bauble. A few were comprised of skirts of varying lengths + a denim button up that was casually but carefully tucked just so, finished with a pair of sleek heels.

There were a few which DID catch my eye — simple dresses with a denim shirt acting as a jacket, secured at times with a fitted belt. Its just a matter of swapping out one article for another, albeit a thinner fabric with a seasonal appeal, but it worked. Still, I felt something had to come from this little reveal in the images.

If I could take a new denim shirt and just… muss it up, add some personality. Destroy it.

Denim jeans can be shredded, ripped, and practically cut apart, but why not apply a similar hand to a button-down version?

destroyed denim shirt where did you get that blog

taking a blade to the fabric / wheredidyougetthat

cut out shirt pair and spare

chic cut outs / apairandaspare x vogue aus

But beyond just slash-and-cuts, I wanted to incorporate a punk-esque element to the shirt as well. After all, distressing is only a single dimension to be considered. Rivets, studs, patches, and pins are add-ons which would not only further express the persona behind the denim, but also make it truly one-of-a-kind. The best part? Finding the add-ons is easier than you’d think.

gypsy warrior jacket

brass tacks / gypsywarrior

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seen on the street / manrepeller

denim jacket riveted luulla

riveting back / luulla

 

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gold studs and pale denim / park & cube

Today, I’m conquering this shirt. Tomorrow… the reveal.

Off to have a productive-even-on-my-day-off day!

– Nita

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[how.what.wear.] matchy matchy, office edition.

Hey there. I know, it’s been a while.

That, my friends, is what I’d like to call an “unintended blog break/suffocation by reality” in which my attention had to be diverted to other, more grown-folk matters. At least I’m back… for now. 

As much as I detested my years of uniform-wearing during elementary and middle school, some mornings I feel so ill-prepared for the day that its reflected in my attire. Ugh. For someone who spent nearly a decade wearing suits and heels around college and high school campuses during debate tournaments, you would think putting together pieces for a professional ensemble would come easily to me. So very wrong.

I guess it’s because of those times of odd uniform regulations — some judges preferred female competitors to wear skirt suits rather than pants, others preferred that I add some color instead of head-to-toe black  —  dressing for a rather lax office environment requires more thought since I don’t want to stick to the basics. You know what they say, dress for the job you want, not the job you have. So… what job do I want? Who do I want my colleagues and superiors to see me as?

I’m fortunate enough to work in an environment where the attire isn’t completely stuffy, jeans are more than acceptable, and my quirky clothing choices are seen as cool rather than clueless. So when taking a stab at this whole ‘dressing for success’ business, the concept of matching sets — elements which can be pieced together to create a single sleek look — is something I can use to extend my creative wings.

Going beyond that of solid black + solid black + solid black combination, the year has offered up a wide range of hues and prints — all for the sake of streamlining.

always judging camping print

subdued scenery with tibi / alwaysjudging

You would think no rules are necessary when it comes to matching sets, right? With the sea of options for finding and creating matching sets, navigating them and not channeling a pre-schooler with these points of direction come in handy:

[1] keep it simple.

When it comes to creating sets, you want to keep the ensemble clean — and simplifying the cut of the fabric is the way to do it. Regardless of whether the pieces are printed or plain, if the structure remains streamlined and in proportion, the pieces will not only work together but also with the rest of your closet. A three-for-one! The two items together should form a clear silhouette, one without distractions and bells and whistles.

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flawless in floral / asos

collage zara

soft, flowy, feminine / zara

printed tropical zara

subdued and sporty / zara

As visible with the sets here, the cuts are simplified and without fuss. Even with a lowered hemline and peplum flare on the skirt, the tomboy box top of the first set keeps the final look grounded in femininity. The second set is loosely flared, the pinch of a faux belt adding shape to the form. Zara’s duo colored contrast print set (above) is more form-fitted, two black sleeves the only break in pattern, adding a sporty edge to an otherwise dressed up set.

[2] layer it up.

Its. Always. Cold. at my office. Hell, I don’t think I’ve ever worked in an office with temperatures higher than 65 degrees. I usually keep my moto coat hung on the back of my desk chair, wrapping it around my shoulders or wearing it backwards when I start losing feeling in my hands and fingers. Admittedly, its definitely more ‘lost hobo’ than ‘corporate professional.’ Layering builds the pieces from two to three, but is also functional because the layer of protection from hypothermia is part of the ensemble rather than a distraction.

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girls on film plaid suit / asos

collage suit 2

channeling a summer vacation / asos

 [3] dissect and assemble.

At the end of the day, the silhouette is essentially two (or three) separates which can come together as a single piece. Case in point: a shell + skirt = a pseudo-dress. Blouse + pants = jumpsuit. So when picking the pieces to bring together, make sure it can fool the eye into thinking of the sum being a whole. You can break up the monotony by adding the thin line of a belt, layered necklaces, or even a contrasting piece to join the ensemble.

fruit print zra

the prints come together to fool you / zara

warehouse floral set 1

abstract print two-fer / warehouse

[4] avoid the potato sack

Since you’re putting together a look that is multiple pieces to appear as one, if the fitting of the pieces is off, the resulting shape is… well, shapeless. Proportions are essential to looking professional and put-together when the items are coordinating rather than ‘matching,’ but fit is even more important when in the same hue or pattern.

collage suit 1

two in one / asos

collage orange set

brightly textured / asos

With both the brush strokes set (above) and the orange skirt set, it is important to highlight the fit of both pieces. One resembles a fit-and-flare skater dress, the other could easily be a luxe jumpsuit. In both instances, the fit of the two together is in sync.

As we go from summer to fall, I’m looking at this 2-for-1 shortcut to be my savior for those days when I have to quickly look polished (+blazer or button-down) or even go from the office to after-hours (swap out one piece for another). Coordinating never looked so easy.

Back to working in the studio… set your Google Calendars for September 22! Something ancient this way comes…

-Nita

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[the DIY Files] the tie dyed matrix t-shirt.

Like many of the 20-something American women out there, I have a disease called ‘I Can Make That’-tis. Even though my skill sets may be nowhere in the same ballpark as what’s needed to make something I can more-easily buy… I would much rather make it. It REALLY becomes a problem when I see a high-end item, or a runway trend, and the wheels begin turning in my head. That’s where The DIY Files come to the rescue.

Hot Glue crisis… AVERTED!

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Tie dye may have been easy and SUPER FUN when you were in the fourth grade, but do you recall how much of a mess it would become? Dye all over your fingers, as if you’ve just returned victorious from pillaging the Smurf world; or, staining from the freshly dampened tshirt all over your neck and shoulders because you didn’t know you were supposed to wash the tshirt by itself first!

So using a loose version of the concept of shibori — manipulating dyeing patterns through folding and restricting the fabric — I’m going to attempt to create a tie-dyed version of a grid pattern. Instead of a white ‘canvas,’ I opted to use a heather grey tshirt instead; I shy away from white as is, and I think the dark, inky indigo color will look different gradating against a grey background.

collage tshirt 1

loose fit tshirt / cardboard flaps / 2 plastic bags

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tshirt dye kit, or something like it

Materials and such:

  • plain cotton t-shirt
  • four cardboard box flaps
  • 2 plastic bags to wrap the dyed shirt
  • a tie dye ‘kit’ which should include plastic gloves, a packet of dye powder in a contrasting color (dark blue in this case), and a squeeze bottle to use for ‘painting’ the dye.
  • rubber bands
  • scissors

Time to hit the dye!

1. Lay out the t-shirt, making sure it’s completely flattened and without wrinkles. Any additional folds in the fabric will alter the grid pattern you’re attempting.

2. Fold the t-shirt vertically into four panels, then horizontally into four panels as well. You should have an accordion of fabric.

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folding vertically, sleeve too

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folds set number two

3. Taking one of the cardboard panels, place it on the folded shirt and measure to a size smaller than the perimeter of the shirt. You want the dye to color the visible edges, so the more fabric visible around the cardboard the more of it will be dyed.

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4. Cut the other three panels to the same size.

5. Place one panel of cardboard between the larger folds of the shirt, and one on each side of the fabric stack.

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6. Holding the panels together, wrap two to three rubber bands in one direction around the stack of fabric.

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7. Add additional two or three rubber bands around the stack of fabric in the perpendicular direction, so the rubber bands themselves create a grid on the cardboard.

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8. Taking one of the plastic bags, lay it out on a flat surface and smooth out the plastic.

9. With the scissors, cut open the bag so you end up with a single sheet of plastic.

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10. Following the directions for the dyeing kit and/or dye packet, mix together the color powder and water.

11. Get to painting! *Put gloves on first!* Since the bottle I used came with a pointed tip, I had better control of the dye and where it was going.

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12. Let the fabric REALLY soak up the dye! Go over the edges multiple times so the liquid is absorbed through the layers of fabric.

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cover that grey

13. When you’re finished applying the dye, place the stack in the center of the plastic bag.

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14. Fold over the section of plastic on the right side.

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15. Fold over the section of plastic on the left side and wrap around.

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16. Tape down the excess after folding around the stack of fabric.

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17. Place this bulk inside the second plastic bag and knot the top after removing any excess air. This will allow the fabric to fully absorb the dye without drying out.

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18. Leave wrapped overnight, or at least 8 hours of drying time.

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19. The next day, rinse the excess dye out of the shirt in the bathtub or sink under hot water.

20. Making sure your washing machine is empty, run a cold cycle with the t-shirt ONLY to have any further remnants of the dye’s particles removed.

21. Allow the shirt to air dry.

22. Oh, yeah, now you can wear it!

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I have an idea of styling this t-shirt for work, might as well be adventurous!

I’ve got two more colors hanging out in my DIY box… I wonder what I could dye next…

-Nita

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[inspiration alley] something to tie dye for.

If you were a child of the 90’s, you’ll notice there’s been a recent shift in emerging patterns with print — something that really takes you back to the carefree days of your childhood, the field days where you’d be out playing kickball and foursquare against the other grades, and reading under the covers until 3am every night during the summers. And if you were stuck indoors, arts and crafts were the only way to keep from going nuts. Enter, the messy but awe-inducing world of tie dye.

clarissa explains it all tie dye

can a tshirt be mesmerizing? / styleblazer

While the 90’s seemed to be a technicolor explosion for the tie dye trend, the revival its experiencing these days is much tamer, almost diluted down from its juvenile days as a rainbow sprouting from the center of Hanes t-shirt. Patterns are being manipulated with more traditional methods — such as shibori from Japan, which uses different binding techniques to create more structured patterns with indigo dye — or taken to extremes with an acid wash to up the contrast levels.

collage shibori hwtf

sample of shibori by honestlywtf

We’re no longer looking at kitschy camp t-shirts blasted with neon; high fashion is taking notice. Resort 2015 saw tie-dye patterning integrated into full-collections, remaining cool and collected while utilizing the whirlwind pattern in new ways. These pieces drew attention in the most positive way — who knew tie dye could be elevated to the runway? Check out style.com’s Resort 2015 picks of this faux-print here.

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bottega veneta maxi dress / fausto puglisi jacket and skirt

Into the mix of a more structured tie-dye are the limitations placed upon the color palette in use — specifically, the monochrome trend is making its way into the otherwise psychedelic patterning, and fabric is being exposed to dye in single color schemes to keep the overall look minimal but interesting. The various folds and resulting depths of color (or lack of) attract the eye to what appears as a pattern without deviating from the main scheme.

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black with peeks of beige / freepeople

rodarte skirt stylecom

soothing tones / rodarte

shibori skirt stylecom

shibori skirt and cooling top / tommy ton

bosworth dress

bosworth in faded blues / peter som

I think a tie dyed piece would add a unique spin to an ensemble, especially when mixed with other monochromatic prints. And considering how many print pieces I have (I don’t know how that happened, promise), I think have an idea of which directions this project will take.

I’ve got bottles of dye and fabric just waiting to be folded/soaked/rinsed/revealed!

- Nita

 

 

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[inspiration alley] where we find the starry night.

It seems as though the first day of the first month of this year was ONLY yesterday — yet, here we are, ready to celebrate the 4th of July. I could sing the same song everyone else seems to be, i.e. WHEREDIDTHETIMEGO? Frankly, I know where the time went.

Rather than bombard the internet/youz with some more bandanna paisley print or flags a la Americana, I’m going to look up… for my July 4th inspiration. You CAN show your patriotism without going full on RWB, beer in one hand and firecrackers in the other.

Well, let’s just leave the explosives out of this.

star print givenchy scarf

givenchy and a box of crayolas / net-a-porter

Granted, the star print has been around for awhile, but that doesn’t mean it can’t make a come-back or find its own snug spot in your wardrobe. It’s an easily wearable print without being kitschy or cliched (even on July 4th). Usually in monochrome, its an uncomplicated repetition in shape that plays well with others (see Breton stripes below) and doesn’t find itself being trendy for the sake of it.

The normal and expected version of a print is an ‘all over’ version, uniformly distributed across the fabric landscape so as to not disturb the eye.

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taking it literally. / modcloth

sporty star dress asos

sport-side / asos

collage starry comets

shooting stars / modcloth

Even though the ‘stars’ on the dress above are a departure from the usual, its appearance is still intriguing, easy to wear, and the retro-but-quirky cut of the dress makes it BBQ AND office appropriate.

If an all-over print causes you to tremble (not in delight), then a handful of the celestial objects printed minimally would do the trick. But be weary of placement — no one wants star boobs.

mango star cropped sweater

star cropped sweater / mango

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calling lisa frank / asos

Even an accent, such as an elbow patch in the star shape, gives a nod to the trend without being overwhelming. And mixing the irregular shape of the patch with the clean cut stripes = no flags given here.

collage asos star sweater

star elbow patch, why not? / asos

If you’re still not convinced, accessorize and peep the stars on your feet instead. Less distracting, still comfortable, shoes with studded or plastered stars make for a great conversation starter/distraction.

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studded with variety / asos

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patriotism is in the name / keds

Didja notice how easily all of the above can be replicated? There’s another project in the works…

Have a happy (and SAFE) 4th, y’all.

Don’t lose any digits, now.

-Nita

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[the DIY Files] painted summer fringe necklace.

Like many of the 20-something American women out there, I have a disease called ‘I Can Make That’-tis. Even though my skill sets may be nowhere in the same ballpark as what’s needed to make something I can more-easily buy… I would much rather make it. It REALLY becomes a problem when I see a high-end item, or a runway trend, and the wheels begin turning in my head. That’s where The DIY Files come to the rescue.

Hot Glue crisis… AVERTED!

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Whether you’re apt to believe the weather conditions outside (ugh, 150% humidity + alternating between the arctic blasts of the office and the hell-ish environment waiting outside), or you happened to recall this past Saturday as being the first ‘official’ day of summer and the solstice, there’s no two ways about it.

It’s getting hot in hurr. And the last thing I’m looking to do is pile heavy pieces of jewelry on when I’m fighting strangulation by sweat, so why not use some textile to make the statement I want?

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Time to get your fringe on!

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 6-9 inches of fringe trim in a light color (I used an ivory/off-white color here to add some warmth to the watercolors)
  • 2 flat silver cord ends
  • E6000 glue (recommended — trim tends to fray, this will keep the ends secure)
  • ruler or measuring tape
  • scissors
  • 10 in of chain (dependent on your length preference)
  • clasp/closure
  • watercolor paints or acrylic paints
  • paintbrush
  • cup of water
  • rag/scrap fabric to dry the brush
  • optional: scotch tape or painter’s tape

…and the instructions below!

1. Layout the fringe trim on a flat surface, placing the edge of the rule or measuring tape along its side. Making sure the trim is completely straight (no wrinkles or knots!), measure out the length you’ll want for the necklace. Add a quarter inch to the end you will be cutting, as this portion may start to fray and will have to be covered with the closure.

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2. Cut on the side where the fringe is sewn together — the ends will be rounded indicating folds — not the side with visible ends.

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3. Once you’ve cut the fringe trim, carefully dab a drop of the E6000 glue onto the cut end and let dry. Add a drop of the glue to the other end as well, just in case it begins to disassemble.

4. Using the cord closure, place each end of the trim in one closure and use pliers to clamp down on the metal. This will secure the trim inside the closure.

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5. Take a piece of painter’s tape or scotch tape and secure the end of any remnants you may have.

6. Using the paintbrush, drip some water into the colors you want to use. Since I’m going for a warmer tone — reds, violets, oranges, and some yellow — I put drops of water into the pans for these colors.

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*If you’re using acrylic paint, you’ll want to use several small pans/cups and water down the paint. With watercolor, using small drops is diluted enough to give a wash of color rather than completely changing the color of the fringe.

7. The bottom part of the trim should still be (mostly) secured together, so you want to begin near the bottom and work your way up towards the top.

8. In between colors, whether you’re blending them or changing it up, dip the brush into the cup of water and softly dab on the rag or fabric to soak up the excess water.

9. Let the fringe dry overnight OR lock in the color with a blow-dryer.

10. Take the chain and split into two pieces, approximately 5 in long each.

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11. Using the pliers, attach one end of one chain to the clasp or closure you’re using.

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12. Attach one end of the other chain to a jump ring.

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13. Finally, using the pliers, attach the chains to the ends of the fringe, through the cord closures.

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14. Pull the bottom ends of the fringe of the trim apart slowly, so the pieces are able to move freely.

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15. Pair the necklace with an all-white or all-black outfit for it to really take front-and-center. Layer with silver thin chains, the fringe airy enough for the summer heat.

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It turned out even better than I had imagined — the colors are just muted enough to come across as worn and with a vintage-feel. Gah! Loving this piece!

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On another note, I’m working on a new addition to my shop, launching near July/August. One-of-a-kind textiles and materials that have a more raw feel, with hand-worked finishes… can’t wait!

- Nita

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take 1: the Biggest Mural in Houston market

I’ve kept my shop and its wares somewhat private over the past two years — usually only pulling out my pieces when someone expresses interest — but otherwise my creations remain on etsy. Its difficult to explain why I love to create pieces that only I’ll enjoy, and yet, I still do.

This past weekend, I attended the Biggest Mural in Houston as a jewelry vendor; the entirety of the event was a culmination of weeks’ prior of work put in by Sabastien Boileau into an 8000 square foot mural in Midtown. The event was held in partnership between the Texas-French Alliance for the Arts and the Midtown District, and benefit a children’s hospital mural project. In addition to my own booth, there were also other local artists and small businesses at the event, so it was a great way to see how a market like this would go about. You know, for the newbie here.

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oh hai.

Now, my booth set-up was kinda… eccentric. Random. “Organized chaos” maybe? Ok, truth be told I tried to rein in my spending and do as much of the prep-work myself (DIY-ing of course), so I had two objectives going into the market: first, I wanted to gauge people’s reactions in terms of my work. Second, I wanted to see what type of visual arrangement(s) would be better in terms of showcasing the pieces themselves.

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a better view of the table and things

Since I pull inspiration from different sources, it was difficult to

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For the earrings and necklaces, I used two super cheap frames, removing the glass and instead placed a thick layer of felt for the surface. T-pins were used to attach the jewelry to the felt. I think for next time, I’m going to space out the pieces better and more evenly, as well as paint the frames themselves a more metallic color to provide a more stark contrast against the fabric.

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Yep, those hands in the middle with the bracelets are from a previous set of Halloween decorations — normally covered in blood and with the exposed bones being front and center — but here, for the family-friendly environment I covered them up with a plain canvas so the jewelry would stand out more.

To fill in the surface area of the table, I opened my books to a clean layout (plain text only) and laid out some of my pieces on the pages to give almost a ‘found’ quality. The pieces I create are supposed to serve a treasures, talismans, tokens of memories that can be worn today and tomorrow. Finally, I added touches of my own darker aesthetic with a few knick-knacks, i.e. my gargoyle bookends, skulls, and Clarence the Bone Man.

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Oh, and this dress form was PERFECT for the body chains and longer necklaces I had made. In fact, the first sale I made (yes, there were SALES!) was the Annika body chain right off this dress form, and the customer wore it for the rest of the day. She was seriously excited about it — which made the 100 degree heat, the multiple nights of no sleep, and the impending cold (yep, sick again) totally worth it. Seeing someone become so enamored with a piece you create with your own hands is the greatest feeling.

As with any new experiences, there are definitely some lessons I learned, the most important being don’t crowd the single table you happen to have! ARGH. It also didn’t help that I had about 70% of my pieces still sitting in boxes because of the lack of space. I know, I know, that’s what happens when you procrastinate and are unprepared. I DID, however, pass out a lot of business cards, made some promising contacts with clients who wanted their own jewelry re-worked, and was able to get some emails for an E-Newsletter*. While it’ll take more than one market for me to get used to the idea of people LIKING my pieces, hopefully there’ll be more markets in the coming months.

Off to get working on those two pesky projects from The DIY Files…

- Nita

*So, there are some new pieces, a brand spankin’ new COLLECTION, and quite a few other things in the works for findyouruncommon. If you want to be a part of the cool kids and see special sneak peeks, get first access to limited pieces, and get special discounts, sign up by sending me an email at fyudesigns [at] gmail.com with “e newsletter” in the subject line. No spam, no garbage, none of that, Scout’s honor!

 

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[inspiration alley] alternate reality fringe theory.

Aye aye aye — its been way too quiet around here! Seriously, I am really sorry for the complete lack of any presence on here… I’m alive, and kickin’, but unfortunately so damn busy this month that I don’t know where May went! The original project I started on with my embroidery inspiration is turning out to be… more complicated (read: its now officially an undertaking)… than I had expected. So, here’s some more imagery to dream up for my next project! This time, it’ll have to be a bit on the simpler side. Live and learn.

Its (almost) summer, and what’s more summer than the lines of fringe hanging off sleeves and skirts? The wind blowing through the shattered pieces of fabric or string, cutting into your silhouette, whipping around the fragments. While ‘fringe’ can venture into a more western or flapper territory, the accompanying fabric with the fringe helps to evoke a sense of free-spirited and adventurous style, a gypsy traveling free from all constraints. Add in splashes of color in bold prints, and you have a piece that really speaks — where you’ve been, where you’re going next. Your fringe piece has the potential to become a reminder of your travels, your persona, even a part of a memory.

Personally, I’ve never been one to delve into a fringe-embellished piece… but there’s always a first time for everything, right?

[1] dark romance, a la florals

free people kimono

floral kimono / freepeople

[2] a diluted version of ‘ethnic’ print

a fashion love affair fringe kimono

lightly printed / afashionloveaffair

[3] gauzy and monochrome

collage coral kimono

rory lace kimono / freepeople

[4] who said grunge couldn’t take part?

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fringe goes grunge / asos

[5] the side acts, accessorizing with fringe instead

collage fringe accessories

accessorize with these strands / asos

[6] fringe doesn’t always have to be made of textile

fringe cuff

metallicized / jeweletto

A few other projects are in the works — including finishing up the embroidery piece as well — but I’ll be back with my version of fringe theory! Seeing as to how its presence doesn’t have to fit one style or another, the piece will definitely have my voice, my insomniac hyperventilating voice. Ha!

- Nita

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[inspiration alley] colored in stitches.

Who’s up for stitching with thread? You know, patterns and shapes coming together to make something quite dated fresh again?

Be forewarned, this isn’t your Grandma’s sewing circle.

Embroidery has been found to date as far back as the 5th century BC in China, where the colorful threads were used to create intricate art onto the fabric of rugs and tapestries alike; today, embroidery can be found as more than a decorative element for clothing alone. It has become functional as well, utilized in aspects such as logos and labeling. Hell, monograms were initially stitched with embroidery thread!

In terms of the millenial approach, embroidery has swung between two extremes: the overly embellished, and the simplified clean palette. It’s also become quite a staple in the ‘bohemian’ or ‘gypsy’ styled accessories department, appearing on bags/clutches to shoes, adorned additionally with coins and tassels.

If you’re wading into the shallow end of the color-stitching pool, you can start with a white base and add one color (at a time)… somewhat similar to the process of adding color into one’s wardrobe (ahem, kettle. black.).

embroidered blouse fashionloveaffair

white on white / afashionloveaffair

collage asos shoes

burst of unexpected color / asos

collage color on white

color on white / mango tunic / d.Ra dress

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flowering for days / freepeople

embroidered tunic zara 1

inverted / zara

If we swing over to the other side of the spectrum, embroidery does not act solo; rather, there is a play of textures and textiles that enhances the stitching.

Valentino’s designs aren’t ones to hold back, as is evident in the embellished dress below. Here, the embroidery is placed like panes of a stained-glass window on battle-armor. Gorgeous battle-armor, that is.

collage valentino

lace + ornate embroidery / valentino

For a more nomadic bohemian vibe, we see the employ of bright coloration with oxidized silver or mirrors to give an an ethnic appeal, as if the item has absorbed time and space.

gypsy bag revolve

goa crossbody / revolve clothing

 

indian emb pillow

indian cushion pillow / newagemerchants

I’m hoping these images of using embroidery to really enhance the aesthetic of the piece translate well in my next project from The DIY Files… something that’s both usable AND really adds a bit of my own take of embroidery.

-Nita

 

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