First Dress Design and Sewing Project

Summertime has inspired my first sewing project!  I think parts of it may be a bit ambitious for the inaugural attempt, but diving in head first is not uncharacteristic of my methods.

I have a shirt dress that I’ve worn once and tried on a dozen times.  It is ill fitting, but the fabric is wonderful.  Although I resemble a cereal box when wearing it, I have not been able to part with it because I like the fabric so much.  It’s 100% cotton that moves like linen and looks like denim.  So, I’ve resolved to rip all of the seams out of it and create something entirely new!

The front of my salvage dress.

The back of my salvage dress.

Not really much to look at… yet.  Here’s a basic drawing of what I want to turn it into.

New dress design.

Now what I’m thinking is the skirt part will be made of the cotton material from my old dress.  I intend to use the front panel of the dress for the back of the skirt and vice versa.  I want the top to be made of a crocheted design.  I have no idea how to crochet.  So, I will need to learn how to do so.  If any of you old pros know how to crochet or  know of good resources to learn…I’d love to hear from you!

Stay tuned for pictures and progress.


Natural Sunscreen: Part 2

A couple of weeks ago I wrote an article about some natural sunscreen manufacturers that I have had the opportunity to test and review products for.  When I set out to write the article I received better responses than I had anticipated.  As such, I chose to write a second article to allow for ample time to thoroughly test all of the products that I received.


This is by far one of the best product manufacturers that I could direct you to.  I was sent their Colorescience Pro Sunforgettable Mineral Powder Sun Protection SPF 50 in Medium. This product is incredible!  It comes in a tube with a retractable brush.  You simply dust it on in a circular motion and are ready to go.  There’s no waiting half an hour for it to soak in.  Their claim is that it is very water resistant even after extended exposure to water.  A reapplication is recommended after 2 hours, but I put it through its paces and went 4.  I’ll tell you what, they underestimated their product.  I showed no signs of burning after my extended testing period with it.  They further demonstrate their water resistance and purity claims with a great photo of their product floating on top of the water in a picture of a beaker.

I was also given the opportunity to test their Skin Bronzing Primer Mild to Wild SPF 20.  I put this on underneath the powder sun protection.  It instantly improved the texture of my skin and it added an additional layer of coverage.  This product is so light and effortless.  It literally takes seconds to apply and it has a barely there look to it, so you can wear a little make-up to the beach or pool without looking like you’re trying too hard.

Their products protection comes from a 22.5% Titanium Dioxide and 24.5% Zinc Oxide mix.  It protects against both UVA and UVB rays.  Kudos Colorescience, I loved both of these products!

All Terrain

All Terrain was very kind to send me their AquaSport SPF 30 Sunscreen Spray.  This is honestly the first natural sunscreen I have seen in a spray form.  I was thrilled to find it.  I have a husband and 2 young sons who won’t stay still for anything…especially not in the summertime by a pool.  This product was so convenient to use.  It wasn’t 10 minutes of slathering on a cream and waiting for it to set.  I sprayed it on, rubbed it in a little and was done!  This product is excellent for athletes or any rigorous outdoor activity really.  This sunscreen also offers broad spectrum coverage with a 19% concentration of Zinc Oxide.  I loved how easy it was to use!

Most people forget about their lips when they’re in the sun.  I used All Terrain’s Lip Armor Lip Balm SPF 25.  It makes your lips very soft while protecting them during sun exposure.  My only complaint is that it made my lips look white.  A tinted formula would be the only change I’d make to this product.

They sent me their Aloe Gel Skin Relief.  This product helps relieve symptoms of chapped skin, as well as protect agains cuts scrapes and burns.  I used their wonderful sunscreen so I did not need to use this product for relief from a sunburn.  However, I live in Colorado where the air is drier than most saunas.  I grew up in Florida, so my skin is accustomed to pretty heavy levels of moisture.  It has been a constant struggle to keep it moisturized and healthy since I moved to Colorado.  I applied this product after getting out of the shower to see if it would help me to retain some moisture in my skin and it did!  It gave my skin a more supple texture and it smells great.


The professionals over at Thinksport sent me their Livestrong Water Resistant SPF 30 Sunscreen.  This sunscreen was formulated to help benefit Lance Armstrong’s Livestrong foundation.  Thinksport has made a promise to donate a minimum of $1.5M to the Livestrong foundation for the fight against cancer.  So, not only do you get the benefits of using a phenomenal natural sunscreen, you get to feel great about where some of the proceeds are going.  This sunscreen was superb.  It left zero white residue that is typically left behind by the natural sunscreens, it smells great and it lasted for hours without needing to reapply it.  This product is also an excellent choice for athletes.  It uses a 20% concentration of Zinc Oxide to protect your birthday suit against UVA and UVB rays.

I have thoroughly enjoyed exploring this product set.  I have been introduced to several excellent options that I have been bragging to friends about since.  These 3 brands are at the top of my list so far though.  Kabana Skin Care is up there with them as well.  Throw away all of your old, unnatural sunscreens and replace them with one of these options before summer gets here.  Protect yourself against the sun and carcinogenic chemicals.

Popular Neckline Styles for Clothing

In preparation for learning to sew, I have been studying the industry terminology for the different cuts of clothing styles.  Today’s lesson was necklines.  I had no idea there were so many!  I’m a t-shirt and jeans kind of girl on most days.  So, I was familiar with crew-neck and v-neck styles, but I learned a lot of new things that I’d like to share with any of you out there who are also beginners at this.

Audrey Hepburn wearing a bateau neckline dress.

Bateau Neckline

Named after the French word for boat, this cut is also called a boat neck and refers to the wide neckline that runs horizontally across the the collar bone.   It typically stretches about halfway across the shoulders and has the same shape on both the front and back of the garment.  They were made popular by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and Audrey Hepburn.  It eventually became nicknamed the Sabrina neckline because of a famous dress worn by Audrey Hepburn in the movie Sabrina.

This gown has a portrait style neckline.

Portrait Neckline

Portrait necklines feature a shaw-like strap that wraps around the shoulders.  It is similar to the Bateau neckline except that it falls approximately one hand breadth from the collarbone.  This is, in my opinion, one of the most classic cuts in women’s fashion.

Jewel Neckline

Jewel Neckline

It gets its name because the style is often selected to provide a backdrop when showing off a particularly special piece of jewelry.  A Jewel neckline closely circles the base of the neck and completely covers the top of the torso and shoulders.

Front and Back of a Halter Dress

Halter Neckline

This neckline consists of two points of fabric that rise up from the bodice of the garment and attach around the neck, typically by tying.  The Halter neckline works well when creating a backless style shirt or dress.  It provides support for the garment without needing to connect material over the shoulders or back of the torso.

Sweetheart Neckline Evening Gown

Sweetheart Neckline

Named because its shape resembles the bottom of a stylized heart, a shirt or dress with this neckline typically has a high cut back and low front line.  This is a very flattering cut for almost any woman.

An Empire Neckline Dress

Empire Neckline

The Empire neckline is square and has a distinctive horizontal coverage of the breasts.  It is most flattering to average-sized to well-endowed women because it provides balance and makes the neck appear longer.  I have a very petite frame and can tell you first hand that this neckline does not do much for my body type.

Queen Anne Neckline

Queen Anne Neckline

As evidenced by the name, this neckline was popularized by Britain’s Queen Anne.  It is characterized by a diamond-shaped opening of the chest area.  Those of you who are on the “A” squad with me this is the best cut for us.  It makes our upper half appear a bit larger by drawing the eyes to the horizontal line along the right and left points.

There are certainly many more than simply these 7, but I’ve found these to be some of the most common.  I’m partial to the Queen Anne and Portrait necklines.  I think they create some of the most flattering lines and have a very classy, timeless look.

Make Your Manicure Last Longer

Oh yay!  I am so excited to share this tip with you that I recently discovered.  I absolutely love having well-manicured hands and toes.  I do it myself because I’m really detail oriented and if a manicurist doesn’t paint them perfectly then I get mad that I’m paying money for it (though I don’t typically say anything, I just stop going to that salon).  My nails are extremely porous and I work with my hands a lot, so my polish usually lasts 3-4 days max.  I find this frustrating.  While I like to have painted nails, I’m not a huge fan of actually painting them.

I was browsing through Bed, Bath and Beyond about a month ago and ran across a brush-on gel resin for nails.  I feel like I struck gold!  My nails are naturally very thin.  No supplement or vitamin that I’ve tried has been able to remedy this yet.  So, not only does my polish chip nearly immediately, my nails break easily.  In desperation I picked up a bottle of the brush-on gel resin and gave it a whirl.

ibd Brush-on Gel Resin

It comes with a brush similar to what is in most nail polish bottles.  I began by painting on 2 coats of gel, let it dry and then took a nail file and buffed it to a smooth finish.  Make sure that it’s completely dry before you start filing or it will get clumpy and ruin your nail fine.  I repeated this process 3 times.  Then I went over it with 2 coats of polish.  My nails look excellent and have been going strong for over a week now.

There are special acetone-based products you can buy at the drugstore when you decide you want to remove your gel.  Though it is not necessary to do this every time you want to polish your nails.  You can simply remove your polish with your typical nail polish remover and either add a new coat of gel to insure its integrity or just paint right over your old gel with your new color.

This makes all the difference in the world for the longevity of your manicure.  I recommend trying it, especially if you’re usually hard on manicures!

Fashion Illustration: Digital vs. Analog

Technology seems to evolve at light speed these days.  I remember playing sports outside as a child.  Now you can play golf, baseball, tennis and even race cars in the comfort of your own living room!  Wild how fast things change isn’t it?

For a long time I shot photos with a 35mm SLR Nikon.  I adore working in a dark room.  There is something really special about it.  For me it was where the magic happened.  Knowing how to use the chemicals, proper exposure timing, and all the various elements associated with creating a well-developed photograph requires the hand of an artist.  Needless to say, I was sad to see things shift into digital mode.  This past Christmas my husband bought me a Nikon D90 to help me get started as a digital photographer.  The camera takes stunning photos.  I can view the pictures I have taken immediately and make adjustments to exposure, shutter speed, etc. as needed; I don’t have to develop film so it saves a ton of money; I can edit and manipulate the photos on both my camera and my computer; there are countless upsides I could tell you about digital photography.  So, I’m definitely onboard with the digital photography movement.  There will always be a tiny part of the artist inside of me that misses the hands-on, analog approach though.

My reason for telling you that is to illustrate how tools are changing at the hand of technology.  I’m interested to see how fashion illustration by hand will do against it’s digital opponent, CAD (Computer Aided Design/Drafting).  I’ve taken a CAD class and believe the software is an incredible tool.  I was working with it in the context of Interior Design.  The tool is excellent for creating blueprints and formulating exact measurements.  I can’t say I’m happy to see it in fashion though.  I have seen so many beautiful fashion sketches that are hand-drawn and hand-painted.  They’re works of art.  I much prefer them to their digital counterparts.

This fashion illustration was created using a CAD program.

This is an elaborate rendering of a fashion illustration.  Most fashion sketches you see are nearly always devoid of any background.  This is because it can take away from the focal point, which is of course the clothing design.  The lines are unnaturally crisp and the shading is also immaculate.  The benefits to using CAD are undeniable, however.  A designer can create scale on their pieces, as well as denote dimensions for things like sleeves and hem.  Many CAD programs are equipped with virtual models that allow the garment to be viewed on a human form and the designer can then play with things like textiles and color for the clothing.  It is a phenomenal tool for mass production.  I’ll leave it at that.

This is a hand-drawn fashion illustration.

Holy crap, right?  The difference is night and day.  It’s pretty incredible what a human hand can create.  I feel that the shading and coloring in this photo create a much more natural and realistic representation of what this garment would look like in real life.  With this type of illustration it is normal for fabric samples to accompany the concept when it is presented to a client.  This means you get to see the fabric finish, feel the texture, and play with the way it moves prior to producing anything out of it.  A computer can create some great stuff, but nothing gives you a better understanding of the materials than seeing the way a sample moves and behaves under a needle.

Some of the top fashion houses were birthed from the hand-illustration skills of the most fantastic designers in the industry.  High fashion is art and so are the analog methods that produce it.

I will take an unwavering stance on the utilization of hand-illustration to create fashion concepts.  Which way will you vote?

What is your favorite means to create a fashion drawing?Market Research

A Beginner’s Fashion Sketch

A guide for designers to learn fashion figure drawing.

I picked up this book on Amazon about a week ago in hopes that it would help me develop my fashion sketching skills.  It is filled with masterful drawings and brief instructions to guide you through the growth process necessary to become proficient in fashion drawing.

To give you a little background, I have had fairly extensive training as a draftsperson.  I have participated in 4 different drafting and technical drawing courses and have become reasonably competent in this area.  I thought that having taken the classes would be an asset to me with regard to moving into the realm of creative drawing, but man was I wrong.  I am by nature a perfectionist, so every pen/pencil stoke is very deliberate and precise.  My training only amplifies this tendency, as technical drawings must be precise.  This is not how creative sketching is done.  The strokes are of a more whimsical nature.  The grip you have on your drawing tool should allow for someone to come pull it out of your hand without feeling any resistance when they do so.  I hold onto my pencil like The Hulk is trying to rip it away.  Needless to say, I have a lot of work to do.

My first attempt at sketching a fashion figure.

This is a photo of my first go at drawing the female figure.  Well, one that doesn’t consist of a triangle, a circle and a few sticks anyway.  I feel like I did pretty well at it.  I struggled with the fingers.  They came out looking more like eagle talons than human appendages.  And I didn’t know where to begin when it came time to draw the head.  An oval is all I’ve got for now.  In fashion drawing the feet are drawn in a ballet-type stance to accommodate the high heels you will inevitably draw on the shoes.

This drawing was completed after reading a lesson in the book.

The book starts you off with drawing a figure without clothing.  This is so you get a feel for the shape of the body and how to work with it under the clothing you draw.  It’s difficult to see in the photo, but I’ve drawn lines to mark the proportions, which are based on the head.  What this means is that the body is broken up into 8 sections, each equaling the length of the head.  It’s actually 8 1/2 total because the feet are equal to half the length of the head.  Phew.  You with me still?

The fashion figure’s waist is cinched in more tightly than if you were to draw a normal female figure and the legs are slightly elongated to account for the look most models have.

I was hoping that my drawing ability would improve- even if only slightly -when I went through one of the lessons, but it seems to have gotten a little worse.  I believe that this is because I am over thinking things.  My husband and I joke that if Aqua Man had a girlfriend, this is probably what she would look like.  The lead weight I chose was also far too heavy.  I chose a 5H to do the original sketch in and then went over it with a 4B to clean up the lines.  A 4B lead weight is way too heavy.  If you’re going to do this I would recommend choosing nothing heavier than a B to finish up your drawing.

I wanted to post this so you can see what things are like in the beginning; messy and sometimes frustrating, but keep practicing and you’ll only get better….we’ll only get better.

Happy Birthday Valentino!

Seventy-nine years ago on this day, one of the most acclaimed fashion designers was born: Valentino Garavani.  He became known in the industry for his signature Valentino Rosso, crimson dresses and his success exploded from there.

Valentino moved to France at the tender age of 17 to pursue an education in fashion from the Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne and man did it serve him well!

Valentino had the good fortune and talent to win an apprenticeship under the likes of Jacqueline de Ribes and Guy Laroche.  He assisted both designers in sketching their fashion concepts and quickly learned the skills necessary to grow a fashion empire.

Pitti Palace in Florence, Italy 1962 marked his international debut.  With a color saturated fashion market commanding the industry, he took a tremendous risk in creating a line devoid of color…and it paid off in spades.  Valentino won hearts and the coveted Neiman Marcus Fashion Award with the launch of his White Collection.  Jacqueline Kennedy was one of many celebrities in attendance that quickly took notice of the designer’s talent and became a devoted client to the iconic fashion house.

Valentino is known for his incredible elegance.  His talent for meticulous detailing and embroidery has carried him through decades of fashion evolution.  To call his clothing fashion would be an insulting misstep.  He is one of the few, one of the great that can call what he does style.  His wares transcend the world of fashion…they are timeless.

The excellence of Valentino’s fashion house does not end at just clothing.  Their shoes are equally stunning and noteworthy.

Valentino’s designs will be collected by enthusiasts for centuries to come.  It goes without saying that if you are an aspiring designer, this man is a legendary talent who should not be overlooked as inspiration on your pursuit of greatness.