grad school

…Am I flailing hard enough?

They make it pretty clear to us that this year, and particularly this semester, is a time for exploration, experimentation, and other “ex” words that are generally designed to both stimulate you and keep you a bit off-balance. As a respected professor put it, “this is the time to flail about and fail big.”

Am I flailing hard enough yet? Have I failed grandly enough? Would you like some more irony on your toast?

Kids, don’t be artists. Do something easy, like brain surgery.

I kid, I kid.

Lots of questions as to process, meaning, intention, audience, concept, formal material decisions. I decided to make a cape as a large-scale material exploration. Plus, it’s still working in my conceptual brain– it’s still a piece of outerwear, which y’all know I love– plus it’s a simple enough design as to be fairly easy construction. I don’t have time for no 34 pattern pieces right know–knowwhaddimean?

I wanted to try overdyeing, so I started messing with applique over a white fabric I had in my stash. Apologies for the crap pictures– apparently my iphone and the studio lighting are NOT friends.


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I’m also starting to study a lot of surface design techniques, and I love incorporating hand stitching into the work. Obviously it doesn’t make sense to hand-stitch this whole mess, but I love to see the evidence of the hand– it makes it so much more personal and storied.



Hand-stitching and reverse-applique with velvet as the underneath fabric. Very inspired by Alabama Chanin, who I loooove.


I did some color samples, foraying into the world of dye!

73616324113820670166018575b124f7And then overdyed the whole damn thing. 1ea8ecf3aa5558082ad2c04f7fff2c66 3cb50e90db6f714c07f54a18574de39a


f75badd6b4f5a19ea7bd5f40f187b4d1I’m really interested in beginning to work with more reclaimed textiles and less new fabrics, so for the lining I took apart two vintage velvet dresses and made franken-lining.

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There were some holes in the velvet, that I decided to highlight in mending rather than hiding them. It’s part of the fabric’s story, after all.


Here is is inside-out. I think I might like it best that way actually. 

I inked some secret things in the lining in my coded alphabet. I’m not loving how it looks but it’s a foray into how to incorporate language into the garment.


13ccf8e19c58dbf226092fb281c19d7eI’ll have to get some nicer pictures at some point. I still need to figure out what sort of closure I want and finish the hem, but since I don’t think I’ll show this piece in the spring show/last crit it doesn’t seem as important at the moment. There’s a lot I like about this piece and some things I don’t, lots of ideas have been brought up. I think I may step back from garments for a bit (flailing, right?) and just focus on textile and surface design and what I can discover and convey through that medium. There are a few too many variables in the air with a garment, and I’m not sure, in my next crit, that I’m ready to answer questions about who this is for, who wears this, etc. Everyone wants to wear this, right?


The Dream Coat: Part Four– Finished!

The beast has been vanquished, and the Dream coat is finally done! Overall I’m quite pleased with it. I learned a lot: messed some things up, asked and answered a lot of questions, and then made more questions. It’s very comfortable to wear and feels solid like armor with all that quilting. Dream armor. I hope it lives up to its inspiration. I wanted it to feel like a story; like every time you look at it you notice some new detail, some new secret.

Here’s a shot when it was still missing collar and sleeves. You can see some of the quilting of insanity.


Detail shot. Note the pocket flaps– I think they turned out pretty nicely.


I also inherited some wonderful brass buttons that seemed to have arrived just for this project.


Here it is in all it’s glory:








Sleeve detail. The two stripes are a bit of an artist’s mark– I thought I might make them a common thread (haha) on all the coats. They represent the old magpie rhyme:

One for sorrow,

Two for joy,

Three for a girl,

Four for a boy,

Five for silver,

Six for gold,

Seven for a secret,

Never to be told.



Truth be told, I rather liked the secret-never-to-be-told, but seven was a bit more than I could deal with. So joy it is.

Back detail. I vented it in the shoulders and gave it a box pleat at the tail. I drafted both of these into the pattern and they were one of the toughest parts, having never done them before and adding them in– there was a lot of “what the hell am I doing… please please please don’t let me mess it up”  Hopefully the next ones will be a bit more graceful. Many thanks to all the wonderful bloggers out there whose tutorials, tips and tricks helped save my sanity on this.



Some lining detail. You can see the top on my hem facing there because I fucked up. Pleat fail. Everything is ruined.



The front facings are more simple and have silver flames and stars embroidered on. There’s a bit of ribbon piping between lining and facing as well.


And here you can see the hidden inner pocket. Because pockets!


Detail of the inner collar. The collar stands up, so this is rarely visible. It’s meant as a secret moment just for the wearer; something just for you. It’s a quote from Sandman and reads:

“Sometimes you wake up.

Sometimes the fall kills you.

And sometimes, when you fall, you fly.”


So it’s done. Sweet dreams.