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Friday, March 23, 2012

Why Is Everything So Tiny?

I am getting a lot of questions lately about why I don't have more sizes in my Etsy shop, so I wanted to talk a little about my life and design process, and my plans for my clothing line.

I decided several years ago that I wanted to design clothing, and I began to buy a yard or two of nice fabric when I could afford it, and started to store it away. A little dream began to form, that I might be able to one day have my own clothing line and find success with it. At this point I would define success as having enough sales to be able to grow my business.... which right now means being able to buy yardage of fabric so that I can offer custom order items in any size and several fabric choices. Later down the road success will be being able to support myself and family with my business. Even farther down the road- I dream of my designs being worn on the red carpet or by rock stars... I would love to be like Nudie Cohn and do elaborate one-of-a-kind pieces commissioned by musicians.

Pop Art outfit by Rosie Rose, available in my Etsy shop,
 I think this is a very hard time to be an artist, especially an artist starting out on a shoestring budget, because materials and art supplies of all kinds have gone up drastically in price in the past 5 years- I venture to say most materials have gone up from 30% - 50%. Really artists should raise their prices accordingly, and perhaps some do, but with the economy the way it is and people everywhere struggling to pay their bills, and being that art is not a necessity for most people, most of us choose to keep our prices as low as we can, make a lower profit margin, and buckle down and work even harder. I hear from many of my artist friends that they too are having a hard time affording materials right now.

Silk has really gone up in price because most silk comes from Thailand and the young people in Thailand are not continuing the mulberry plantations their parents once kept, instead choosing to grow easier and more profitable crops. Silk prices have doubled in the last year. I choose to dye my own silks because it is much more affordable- I can get white silks for a third the price of colored silk, and dye it myself any color I want. This is one of the ways I try to keep my prices as low as possible. Some clothing manufacturers keep their prices down by compromising on their fabrics.... I INSIST on using high quality and for the most part, natural fiber fabrics. I don't see the point of taking the time and care to make a nice garment if the fabric won't last.

Hand dyed silk chiffon ballet skirt in Island Blue
Another way I keep my prices down is by selling my items exclusively on Etsy, which only takes a 3.5% commission off each item, so I can keep my prices much lower than if they were sold in a gallery, which generally takes a 40% -50% commission from each item (basically doubling the retail price of the item).

 Now, enough about costs and prices, let's talk design.

Every design I do begins with a drawing. Then I decide colors and fabrics- sometimes I already have a fabric in mind. Then I begin patterning, either draping on a mannequin or flat patterning on the table. I work on the piece until it becomes the drawing.

My sketches for the Poncho Minidress and Obi Belt

The dress comes to life!
Designers generally make a small or x-small sample of a design to begin with because it uses less fabric and most models are that size. Many of the items I have in my Etsy shop are really designer samples or one-of-a-kind pieces which I don't intend to make more of, like these three dresses I did for the 2011 Ozark Couture Spring Show.

Models Sophie Star, Heaven Townsend, Montana Widenerphoto by Amber Herrera

BUT without further ado, I would like to reveal to you my Basic Line thus far, which I am going to have available soon in all sizes and several fabric choices for each!! In the beginning it will be mostly custom order but hopefully I will also be able to stock a few of each size ready made in my shop.

1. The Upcycled Tank Top... will be available in 7 sizes!! XS, S, M, L, XL, 2X, and 3X. I am also going to offer a version with sleeves.......

 2. The Silk Ballet Skirt, 2 skirts in one, which can be custom ordered in any color you can think of and any size. I will also be doing a shorter version. This would be really gorgeous with two complimentary colors layered... fuchsia over purple for instance. I'll be posting more color combos soon.
 Custom order silk ballet skirt at

3. The Silk Ruffle Cami. A simple loose cami top available for custom order in any color combination you like. Right now I am offering it in china silk but I want to try it in stretch silk. The ruffle and straps are sheer silk chiffon. Here's a link to this item on Etsy...
Custom order silk ruffle cami at
4. The Simple Sweater. Right now I have it in small and medium, but I'll draft a L and XL. I'll be offering a more fitted variation of this in stretch lace for summer.
5. The Tulip Skirt in stretchy fabrics. Right now I only have it in a small but more sizes soon, and new fabrics. Find it here on Etsy..... Tulip skirt at
There will also be more one of a kind upcycled pieces in all sizes. And more nunofelted scarves- I'll have to write a separate blog on nunofelting sometime.

Nunofelted scarf with poppies, find it at

So there you have it, that's what I am working on right now. Sometimes it seems that making my "line" happen is an unconquerable amount of work and will never happen. I'm doing it in baby steps, of which there are many. I have to make all the patterns, dye the fabrics, cut and sew the designs, with my own two hands alone.

Working in my studio, with my daughter
Then there is the work- fun work, but still, work- of planning photoshoots, which involves getting models and a photographer, and a location.... accessories, hair, makeup, these are all things I have to think about. I'll write another blog on that sometime too.

Heaven doing Sophie's hair before the Lost in the Woods fairytale photoshoot
I have been really fortunate to have an awesome team of people to work with on photoshoots. Amber Herrera has been photographing my designs from the start and her work is impeccable; we work well together and always have a lot of fun shooting together. Sophie Star has been an amazing friend and model for me, and recently has even been assisting me in the design process. Sophie is quite a chameleon, but if you look closely you'll see that most of the photos in my Etsy shop are her. Heaven Townsend has also been a supportive friend and model for me, and at our last shoot she worked some hair and makeup magic as well. One of the wonderful things about live models is they put on the garments, and suddenly a dress I wasn't sure about, I LOVE when I see it on them. They really make the clothing look great. Then add to that Amber's talent with posing models and lighting, and you really have something great. I feel so lucky to have such supportive and talented people around me helping me achieve my goals.

 The last step to my work is posting items on Etsy, which can take anywhere from 10 minutes an item, up to 45 minutes if it's a really special dress and I am editing and re-editing to make sure it's accurate and concise. I often go into listings later and change a word or two to make it more clear. And of course, the true final step is packing items up to ship.

A final thought- when I was eighteen I wanted to be a famous painter. I did some very colorful and ambitious paintings which I am still very proud of.

Untitled painting by Rosie Rose
 Now that I have realized the medium I want to work in is fabric, I am still painting.... but this time with people and locations as the canvas, and Amber is really the painter, especially because she does all kinds of magical photo editing to achieve the effect we want. We really collaborate on a vision and make it happen. Thinking back on when I used to do more paintings, my favorite part always was designing the clothing for the subject. These are the "paintings" I work on now...... from our last shoot of my new collection of fairytale inspired dresses, "Lost in the Woods". I have a lot more to say about this collection and I plan to write a blog about the making of each of these four incredible dresses. Stay tuned!
The Snow White dress, modeled by Heaven Townsend

Little Red Riding Dress modeled by Sophie Star

Alice in Wonderland, modeled by Freya Crow
Goldilocks, modeled by Anna Walker

And one more thank you to Amber Herrera for the photography- you can see more of her art at

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Spring Cleaning Sale!

For anyone who hasn't heard yet, I am having a half off sale in my Etsy store. Just use the code HALFOFF at the checkout. I have sold a lot of things already but there are still plenty of necklaces, earrings, scarves, dresses, tank tops, skirts..... Here's a link to my Etsy shop

Also I want to mention that we just did the photoshoot for my new collection of fairytale inspired dresses, "Lost in the Woods". The four dresses were inspired by Snow White, Goldilocks, Little Red Riding Hood, and Alice in Wonderland. They were a lot of fun to make and to shoot, and I will be posting more photos and details about the dresses here soon. For now, you can get a sneak preview of the photos on facebook-

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Fairytale Fabrics

For my collection "Lost in the Woods", comprised of fairy-tale inspired dresses, I have hand dyed most of the fabrics. I carefully chose the color palette for each dress and hand dyeing the fabric really lends a magical feel and uniqueness to each dress. Here is the stack of fabrics and lace I dyed for the Alice in Wonderland dress.... cotton jersey, silk and silk chiffon, and gorgeous cotton lace that was really fun to dye.

I really wanted to stay with a pale blue color so the dress has a traditional "Alice" look to it, but the layers of other shade of blue and lavender- which are going to be ruffles on the skirt- are a new spin on baby blue.

This is the fabric for the Goldilocks dress- island blue silk chiffon and cotton jersey, cotton lace, and raspberry silk for the bow.... I sooo love this color palette. It feels very fresh to me.

Stay tuned for more photos as I finish these dresses.....

And the icing on the cake, I am having a having a 50% off sale in my Etsy shop right now to make room for new things. That's Check it out, scoop up a good deal! Use the code HALFOFF at the checkout. :) Thanks!

Snow White Dress

I am currently working on my new collection called Lost in the Woods, which is made up of four fairy tale inspired dresses. This is the Snow White dress, near completion. It's two layers and the skirt has nearly 12 yards of fabric in it. The back laces up corset style.
Here is a snapshot of me at work handstitching the braid to the straps.

We'll be shooting photos of the dress on a model next week so stay tuned, it will be an amazing shoot! :)

Right now I am having a Spring Cleaning sale in my Etsy shop to make room for all the lovely new things I am going to be posting. Everything is half off! Gee whiz. All you have to do is type in the code HALFOFF at the checkout and you will get 50% off your purchase. Thanks!