Category: Fashon

Portrait of a Seamstress: Jovan O’Connor

Sometimes, the reality of fashion doesn’t match up exactly with your dreams. I’ve been there – I’ve dreamt about what it would be like to show a collection – my collection – at fashion week. For one woman, Jovan O’Connor, that dream is becoming a reality. This week, she is showing at New York Fashion week. She received a B.S. in Fashion Design the same year I graduated high school – 2006. While I was just starting my career, she was designing for Patti LaBelle. No, I kid you not. It was during her senior year while studying abroad in Italy that Jovan was commissioned to design a gown for the Philly native. Talk about a tipping point, right? Since then, she’s been growing her brand the best way a designer can, at least in my opinion, by organically building her clientele. This week marks another tipping point for her. By showing at NYFW, she is taking one step closer to being a bonafide designer. TELL US YOUR STORY My name is Jovan O’Connor and I’m a local Philadelphian. I grew up in West Philly. I knew I wanted to be a designer from a very young age, but as far as sewing is concerned, I was disillusioned by the fact that designers should know how to sew. I thought that as a designer, I would mostly sketch, and could pass off my design to someone who could make it for me. So, I didn’t start sewing until I went to college at Philadelphia University. My grandmother was a part of Philadelphia’s once burgeoning manufacturing industry. She was a seamstress and worked for many designers. What’s interesting is that I never saw her sew – by the time I was born she was retired – but I feel as if sewing was passed…

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tags: Fashon, Interview, philadelphia, portrait of a seamstress Comments: 4

What I Made: Dakota

First, if you live in the US, I hope you’re having a great Labor Day! I’ll be in the studio today teaching and prepping to shoot a sew-along for this pattern. Oops! I might have let the cat out of the bag… Just like Sierra and Blake, these undies are a copy of a RTW design. To update those who missed those posts, I used to have a thing against buying lingerie from the market. It went against my handmade/sewing motto. That mentality changed when I went to Paris this summer and bought lingerie for the first time in over a year, rubbing off the patterns and copying the techniques. So far, it is helping my skills a lot – I get to experiment with guidance from an actual garment. It’s A LOT easier to copy a design when you have the tangible item in front of you rather than referring to photos. You can also take one half apart to see how it’s sewn and leave the other in tact. That’s assuming you’re not going to wear it. F A B R I C  +  T R I M S Front and back: black and white printed lycra underlined with white stretch mesh, both from Fleishman Fabrics. I used temporary spray adhesive to spray baste the fabrics together prior to cutting. I treated the layers as one going forward. The lycra is a very good quality, but it has 70% stretch, and for underwear, I like that number to be around 40%. The underwear has more “control”. Lining a stretch fabric with another stretch fabric reduces the stretch roughly 20%.  So, by underlining with the stretch mesh, I was able to get the stretch that I wanted. Crotch lining: cotton jersey from Fleishman Fabrics 3/8” firm black elastic for leg opening and front waist from Bra…

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tags: Construction, fabric, Fashon, lingerie Comments: 1

Madalynne Update: Workshops, Collection and More!

As a follow up to my post in March, I am giving another glimpse/overview of what I am working on. Some of the projects turned out to be a total flop while others were and still are a complete hit. It’s normal for plans to fall through, and I want to show you that it’s okay. We ain’t perfect! Bra Making with Madalynne My bra workshops have been a smash hit! I’ve hosted 3 so far this year and there is one more on November 7. With a full time job, it’s difficult for me to commit to projects, but the set up of the workshops suits my schedule very nicely. I prep the weekend/week before, teach that Saturday, rest Sunday and then go back to work on Monday refreshed and not exhausted. Additionally, I have a blast meeting new sewists. I keep in touch with many of them too. With the end of the year creeping up, I’m beginning to plan workshops for 2016. Most likely, there will be between 4-6 sessions. The majority will be held at Madalynne Studios here in Philly, but between 1-2 will be elsewhere… I’m going international. Details are currently being finalized, but if you’ll be in London next May and want to attend (or will make a trip to attend), click here to get access to early registration. Portrait of a Seamstress + madalynne intimates rtw Remember that book I wrote two years ago and still haven’t published? I took a brief sabbatical after I was turned down from every single publisher. They wanted a sewing tutorial book – I wanted to do something different. I picked it up at the beginning of the year and edited it heavily. In May, I began working with Shannon from Little Kids Grow to self publish. I thought 2015 would be the year I finally released it, but…

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tags: Fashon Comments: 1

Guest Post: War on Pants: Welcome to entreDonovan

I’m taking a back seat today and letting entreDonovan guest post. Linda, the founder and owner, reached out to me to tell me about her custom clothing business for women – entreDonovan. I make only lingerie nowadays, but that doesn’t mean I’m not interested in garment sewing, and I think entreDonovan provides a great service. Plus, she is somewhat local – Delaware. Basically a hop, skip and a car ride away from Philly! Why are pants the epitome of evil? The Joker to my Gotham? The Indominus Rex to my Blue? Why can’t we be friends? Pants were initially designed as men’s wear, and only in the second half of the 20th century were pants and pant-suits popularized. Three decades after Coco Chanel started a revolution by borrowing men’s pants for horse-riding, Yves St. Laurent introduced the Le Smoking women’s suit in 1966. Representative Charlotte T. Reid made headlines when she became the first woman to wear pants on the U.S. Congressional floor in 1969, but it wouldn’t be legal until 1993. The fashion industry demonstrates confusion when it comes to the woman’s body. Curves add thousands upon thousands of various dimensions and proportions. Less than 15% of women match the dimensions of standardized clothing sizes when taking waist and hip measurements. This diversity in body shape is ignored by the designers hiring 16-year-old models for their fashion shows. Enter entreDonovan. When entreDonovan owner Linda Farquhar attended Wharton Business School, it was custom for her male classmates to get a custom suit for post-graduation life. Unfortunately, women’s custom suits were very uncommon then. Designers cited the difficulty of fitting a woman’s body. Regardless of our complications, more and more women are pursuing seats in the C-suite, and we need clothes to match. After a successful career in investing and a…

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tags: Fashon, Guest Post, review Comments: 1

It’s Back! Noelle Warner

I’m sure you thought you saw the last of Nina, Nicole and Noelle. If you did, think again. Noelle is back. Mwahahaha! This week, I’m a busy bee. Okay, I’m more like a chicken with its head cut off as I prep for my bra workshop on Saturday. Even when life gets chaotic, I still try to squeeze in pockets of time to sew, and whatever I’m sewing, it is a tried and true pattern/project. Noelle is definitely a TNT. Although you’ve seen and read about this bra before, I learned a few new things that I want to share with you. O v e r v i e w Good design versus a great design – what do you think is the difference? I expressed my opinion before – I believe a good design is one that works in many fabrics, colors and trims, and a great design is one that in addition to the previous, is flattering on many shapes and sizes. For women, Diane Von Furstenberg’s wrap dress is an example, and for men, a Ralph Lauren button down shirt. Is this bra, Noelle Warner, a great design? Mostly likely not. It’s a soft cup, sports-bra type bra that provides little support, not enough for larger-chested ladies. But is Noelle a good design? Well, that’s what I’m experimenting. I’m making many versions with different fabric and trims, and the one you see today uses a point d’esprit fabric (or stretch swiss dot tulle). My original inspiration image used this type of fabric, so this is also a good measure of how close I have come to nailing what I initially envisioned. F a b r i c + T r i m s Front and back:Black point d’esprit (stretch swiss dot tulle) from Bra Makers Supply underlined with beige/nude stretch…

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tags: Fashon Comments: 7

Recap: CurveNY

I had a me-day last Monday, a totally self-indulgent day where I geeked out over lingerie and attended CurveNY. I feel somewhat embarrassed admitting that I went. Why? When I read or hear about Comic-Con, I wonder what weirdos go. Seriously? Three-days of movies, science fiction and comics? What dorks! Well, I am now that dork, but instead of it being comics, it’s lingerie. Oi vey! What has my world come to?! The reason I attended was for inspiration. Really, that’s it. I was not there to buy and I was not there to sell. New York is just a short, cheap bus ride away and CurveNY is one of the nation’s largest lingerie trade shows. Why not go? The day turned out to be not what I expected and at the same time, way better than I ever imagined. Within the first 30 minutes, I ran into Pamela Cooper. She attended my bra workshop and just launched her own lingerie line. I spent the remainder of the day hitting up the booths and it was such a treat spending time with her. Not to mention, it was so much easier to approach each one with a partner in crime. If you’re not privy to CurveNY, I’ll give you a brief rundown. It is a men’s and women’s lingerie and swimwear trade show that showcases spring/summer or fall/winter collections from brands around the world. Buyers and press attend the 3-day event to either purchase or review styles for the upcoming season. Also to note, it is bicoastal, happening separately in New York and Las Vegas. Out of more than 300 vendors, below are my favorites. I don’t mean to be a bore with a review post. Seriously. Before I began making lingerie, Victoria Secret was pretty much the only lingerie…

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tags: bra making, Construction, Fashon, lingerie, personal Comments: 12

In News Unrelated to Sewing: Rocksbox Review + Coupon

I know this is a sewing blog and I know jewelry is unrelated, but unless you’re one super talented human being and make both your clothing and your jewelry, then it’s my guess that you purchase your baubles. That or you inherited pieces, or your significant other gave them to you, or you traded one of your kidneys… you get my gist. Today’s post is not about sewing, it’s about jewelry, and I telling you about Rocksbox because I use their service and really, really like it. What is Rocksbox? It’s is a jewelry rental service – fill out a style profile and receive 3 pieces of jewelry. Each set is mailed to you, and free shipping is provided both ways. Although it’s a monthly service, you can return the pieces as often as you like to get a new set. If you like an item, you can purchase 20% off the retail price. Also, you can request pieces via a wishlist or on their Instagram. Since Instagram is my jam, it’s really convenient for me to “choose” the pieces I want. I have a set of earrings and 2 rings that I wear daily. They were my mother’s and they’re classic pieces that go with everything. But I wanted to add some variety, so I signed up for the service, which is $19.00 a month. I’ve received two boxes so far and each set did not feel plastic-y or cheap. The second box is what you see above and had a Juliet + Co necklace, Wanderlust + Co earrings and a House of Harlow bracelet. I wasn’t a huge fan of the cuff (not pictured), but wore the necklace and earrings several times a week. It takes a good design for me to swap out my mom’s earring for a…

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tags: Fashon, How i Wore It, personal, Wardrobe Comments: 2