Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Idealbite coverage

It has been remarkable the attention the Discarded to Divine vest has garnered. The latest hit has been from Idealbite.com a cool blog that talks about how you can "green" up your life, and especially your wardrobe.

Since VAGADU is almost 100% reclaimed materials, I can am glad they chose to write about us.

Take a look at the article, it is fun and sweet!

CLick Here

Monday, March 30, 2009

The Serpent Dress Continued....

As promised in an earlier blog I am now posting the result of the important design change that we made to the "Serpent Dress", now known as "Serpentina".

The design issue for the bodice of this dress was addressed by opening up the lines from the original tubular ending. As seen in the photo below, the original lines ended abruptly at the base of the bodice. We needed a smoother transition connecting the top of the dress to the bottom, so we opened up the lines to transition smoothly to the front yoke of the skirt. As you can see--from the pictures below--choosing the right fabrics was key to completing this concept. In the photo on the right, enclosed around the glowing circle, you can see how the matching fabrics unify the top and bottom. Look carefully, even though the colors are the same, the yoke fabric (as seen in photo to the left) is stripped and the skirt fabrics are dots. I like the subtly of combining the different patterns together in one piece. For me, it allows for the wearer to constantly discover all the multiple elements that constitute this garment.

Let me also remind you that all these different patterned fabrics were hand dyed by Ana Lisa Hedstrom so "Serpentina" is really turning out to be a gorgeous labor of love!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Blazer Bonanza: Revisiting the Discarded to Divine Vest

One thing I am trying to learn as a designer is this: when the public speaks, I need to listen. I was so flattered when the St Vincent DePaul Society used my vest for their photo promoting the Discarded to Divine auction . I should have probably anticipated what would happen next. I've got many many requests for a one-of-a-kind piece that I have already donated to this charity foundation!!! And now I am realizing that it might make sense to have a couple more of those lovely things around! So I am rolling up my sleeves this week and putting the focus on vests.

I thought I would share with you some of the lessons I learned from making Discarded vest that I wanted to remedy and make it easier and better for myself.

The original vest took me about 25 hours to make. And I still had to cut some corners in order to finish it on time. So, I wanted to find a way to avoid such intense labor, and also have the product be totally solid as well. With the last vest, I learned that it is sometimes easier to hand sew than to sew with the machine. In fact, in the little green vest you will see throughout this posting, was almost completely sewn by hand. And I saved a lot of time!

An area that caused me a lot of trouble was finishing the armhole of the vest. Finding a way to clean it up was challenging and tricky to sew with the machine. For the Discarded vest I cut some bias strips and sewed them to the outside of the armhole then flipped the strip inward, and hand stitched the other side down. This is tricky to do cleanly. I knew there had to be a better way.

There is!

For the green vest and the orange vest I am taking another route. I am using the already sewn-in lining of the blazer and pulling it through the armhole to enclose the raw armhole edge. As you can see in the photo to the left, the raw seems of the armhole are showing and the extra lining is hanging ready to be used.
In the end, I must hand-sew the armhole seam, but I would have to do it anyway so I cut one step by not needing to sew on any extra fabric.

Another plus for using the lining around the armhole is it creates a ruffly-bunchy effect as you turn it under and around. At first I wasn't sure the look would be right, but as you can see in these two pictures below (especially with the green vest) the ruffly edge fits right in with the ruffles that are working around the neckline.

Keep posted the next few weeks and check out my site: www.experiencevagadu.com or my Etsy shop to see how to purchase one of these great pieces!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Serpent Dress!

All the dresses of this collection are proving to be challenging in their own way. However,the "Serpent Dress" or "Pheedi" in Greek (since the dress is also inspired by the snake goddess of Knossos) has become the winner in the most difficult bodices to design by far.

The first challenge came up because of the curving lines that weed their way from the shoulders, around the bossom to join together at the hip are extremely hard to sew ! And I mean REALLY hard! (see arrows drawn on form to the right) Therefore, for several fittings each time we tried the bodice we couldn't tell if we had gotten the fit wrong or it was simply a sewing error. As a designer it is very important to note this difference because it will save you time in the end if you make sure you are sewing your design correctly.

So, we had to figure out how to sew it......

In the mock-ups, I always cut corners whenever I can, but on "Serpent" I found it wasn't possible. So for all the sewing geeks out there here are some useful tricks I learned after consulting my teachers and just trying it again and again.
1. Have an impeccable notching system. Make awl punches to mark them through the patterns on to the joining fabrics.
2. Stay stitch at 1/2" or 3/8" along the edge of each piece of fabric to mark your seam line.
3. Tons of pins! Make sure to match all of your awl punches and snip to the stay stitched line to help ease the pieces together.
Using all of these techniques finally allowed me to sew a successful sample which looks great!

I love the "Serpent Dress" because of the many design considerations that went into the concept and then how it has evolved. As you can see in my sketch here, the dress' complicated lines are inspired by this Varda collage. The women in the collage are inspired by ancient Greek goddesses which I talked about in an early blog....the only difference is that the Greek's simply bore the breasts of the women, and I will be putting a cloth over them...unless Lil' Kim puts in a special order ;-)

After we finished the top and placed it with the skirt we noticed that there was a lack of flow between the top and skirt. It was almost like two different types of garments. The main problem was that the lines coming down from the bodice of the dress starkly stopped at the waist causing a rupture to the flow of the

We found a good solution to this problem after some trial and error. We had the lines curve out and end on the sides of the bodice. This allowed the skirt fabric and the bodice fabric to merge into one another and connect the parts--see pink arrows to left. Come back next week to see pictures of how this turns out!

...to be continued

Monday, March 9, 2009

Eco-Fashion Tip of the Month: How to reuse your muslin

As I create garments I am always looking for ways I can conserve more. For me, it is a fun task to how I can innovate the clothes making process to create strategies that save fabric, thread, and other elements so as little goes to waste as possible.

This week I am excited to share one of these tips that is helping make "Triangula" and the other dresses hold their shape.

When I say "hold their shape" I am talking about the fact that the fabrics I am using for these dresses are very flowy and soft, like sheer silks and crepes and other drapy blends. They hang beautifully but if you cut and sew them into shapes, they don't hold them very well and droop.

When this happens you use interfacing, a fabric that backs the primary fabric to reinforce it and give it shape. For example, interfacing is frequently used to create stiffness in jacket collars. Since the "Varda's Women" collection is comprised of many angular shapes, we need interfacing to back the sheer fabrics to achieve the bold shapes we want.

Normally, most designers would simply buy interfacing for the garment. For me, I wanted to do better. Muslin--and inexpensive cotton that is used for draping garments--can also be used as interfacing. Since we used muslin to finalize the design of the garment as seen in previous blogs and in photo to the left, I decided we could reuse the very muslin that already was in the shapes we needed. In other words, instead of re-cutting new pieces of muslin to back the fashion fabric, we just unpicked the seams of the mock-up dress, pinned them to the green fashion fabric, and sewed them up with great results. (See photos above)

Since we made paper patters for all the pieces of "Triangula" we didn't need the muslin for anything else. If I hadn't figured out a way to use the muslin from the dress, I would probably have to throw it away, and that would be a waste.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Meet the Interns and other developments

As usual, I like to give credit where credit is due and I have assembled an awesome team of gals who are helping bring life to the collection "Varda's Women".

Before I do the introductions however, I would like to give some updates on the dress now entitled "Triangula" that we were working on in the previous blog.

Last week, we basically had the pic on the left. after sewing up the pieced together triangles that made up the skirt, I decided that the design was way to chaotic and random for the look I wanted to achieve. We wanted more symmetry, so we redid the pattern and simplified the placement of the triangles--as seen in the photo to the right.

We like the second version because it brings out real structure that balances what will be a more fluid design on the bodice of the dress. And, I also happen to think it looks like a Chinese lantern, which have always been very appealing to me.

"Triangula" is still far from done and we are still working out the skirt details and by adding more volume to the bottom so that walking is possible, along with some bunching of the skirt triangles so that we can break up the uniformity just enough to add some playfulness too.

Now for the introductions:

Jessie Bedbrook Coming from a diverse academic background including a Bachelors of Science in Clinical Nutrition and an Associates Degree in Fashion Design, Jessica's primary interests include; multifaceted creative expression, artistic collaboration, social responsibility and happy thoughts. Ultimately, Jessica is passionate about the power of fashion, costume and design and how they can be combined to create not only beautiful artwork, but also a projection of personality and individual spirit. "I believe fashion gives us the opportunity to hold on to our imagination and express it as we want each and everyday."

Catherine Michelle Baranda was born and raised in the East Bay. She always had a love for color, texture, and shape. This tactile love brought her to the world of fashion and textiles. She went away to college at the Savannah College of Art and Design in Georgia. There she studied fashion design and fibers. Her senior project was base on natural dying and sustainable fabrics. After college, she moved back to the Bay Area with her poodle Theodore Bear. She loves to sew, dye, screen print, quilt, and knit.

Dora Un was born and raised in Macau, China, which she loves so deeply and hates so badly. People there didn't really value fashion design, so she flew all the way to the U.S. to study fashion and get inspired by the people from the everywhere. Sometimes she speaks too much but she actually prefers letting her designs speak for her. She loves playing with textured fabric and colors although her wardobe is basically black, white, and grey (but hey, she loves colorful tights!). Issey Miyake is her super idol even though she also loves Marc Jacobs's crazy disorder thoughts and Alexander McQueen's cutting edge elegance. Maybe one day you will see her successfully combines all these great ideas into one.

Anna Lodwick recently graduated from FIDM with a degree in fashion design. After studying photography and fiber sculpture during undergrad in Maryland, she knew that she wanted to further her education. She also wanted to move out west--uprooting herself and replanting in a place that inspired her. Now she has lived here for a year and a half and is excited to be exploring the world of small fashion designers. She is hoping to have her own line later this year.

Sarah Terranella
is a design student at San Francisco State University. She likes to sew all the time, drink entirely too much Redbull, coffee, and any other form of caffeine and she is left handed. She spends most of her disposable income on fabric, food, and really cool buttons.