Thursday, July 12, 2012

Spring '12

...was a killer semester. I'm not sure if it's because I took on a sample knitting gig during the first month or so, or that the classes themselves were just much more demanding than I was expecting, but I felt like I worked my damn tail off, 24-7, for four months straight. But, no matter! Classes have been over for the over a month now. Since the end of the semester, I've been interning four days a week, taking naps, finally got around to watching The Wire, and stood up with one of my most beloved friends as she married her German sweetheart. What I have not been doing is updating poor, neglected Blog. I actually have a digital portfolio site up and running now, and that's probably where I'll be posting finished work from now on, but Sparrows and Honeybees will continue to exist for more back-end content, process photos and other bits and bobs that don't necessarily belong in something professional.

Advanced Technical Drawing


  • Everything you ever wanted to know about rendering garments in Illustrator but were afraid to ask.
  • How to make outrageously large files and influence the lab computers into crashing.
  • Hopefully the last class I'll ever have to pull all-nighters for?
Whereas the tech drawing I course I took last semester was an introduction to sketching and rendering flats with Illustrator, in ATD we really started delving into the different things you can do to render materials, patterns, and hardware. Things started out simple, reviewing how to create pattern repeats for various types of patterns with Illustrator:

We moved on to embroidery. I was on a bit of a squid tear, as you can see!

We did a little tech pack for this assignment--here are the placement specs for the embroidery on this squiddish nightgown:
The focus of our midterm project was lace. Everyone did a small intimates collection so we could really show off our lace brushes and prints. Here's a little taste of the final product, the entirety of which you can view here.

Silk tap pant trimmed with lace, in "carmine."

After the midterm, we did an exercise using the perspective grid tool, resulting in a small handbag collection, and then it was a race to the end of the semester and the final; a winter athleticwear collection (aimed at either skiers or snowboarders) that included several branded items. I had already been playing around with the idea of a personal logo, and it was fun to take that and develop it into an actual print. The whole shebang c'est ca.

Branded accessory for Tricot L'oeil collection

ATD was a fabulous chaser for Tech Drawing I. Illustrator is such a deep, deep rabbit hole to fall down, and once you start really exploring what it's capable of, you realize that everything you thought you knew is really just the tip of the vector iceberg, and it is one in which I will happily get my ship wedged for hours at a time. I'm not eating any fellow crew members though; cannibalism is GROSS.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Knits: Much Later

Ooookay, it's March. My bad. As per usual, the Spring semester started and I've since lost all sense of time. However, I do want to get these images up, because they were so much fun to take. You see, my friends E and O are photographers. Like, serious business photographers, and way back in January, they offered to shoot some of the garments I worked on last semester. Going to a studio that's full of weird lightbulbs and gigantic rolls of backdrop paper to have your picture taken is so much fun, like what I imagine it feels like to be a real fashion model, except with more doughnuts.

Serious business photography being what it is, E and O shoot on actual film and then develop it themselves. Check out E's amazing camera--it used to belong to her grandpa!

Most of the photos I have here were taken by my crappy little point 'n shoot. I asked E to take a few snaps just so I'd have some digital content to post, and you can really tell that it's time for me to upgrade. Even in these optimized studio conditions, they're still kinda grainy and out of focus. I do have a few scans that O sent me of some shots he's developed, and they are amazing. I trust you will easily pick them out. (All the garments here were things I made for my Knits class last semester.)

(C) Oren R. Cohen

For this project, we had to recycle at least two sweaters into a new garment. Did you know the Salvation Army always arranges things by color? It made it really easy to find two nice red sweaters to hack up. A lot of people just went to discount stores and bought new stuff, which seems sort of besides the point to me. Anyway, this was definitely one of the weirder garments represented, but I kind of love it. I actually bought a third sweater (red, of course!) and was planning on making a little pair of bloomers to complete the look, but I just didn't have the time. 

I'm wearing it over one of the first projects we had for this class, the princess line dress! It came out super cute and wearable--here it is with black belt:

I'm making an atrocious face in this photo--trust me, it's better this way.

Next up is my cut-and-sewn cardigan. Don't let the fabric fool you--I did not knit this!  It's actually a double-sided fabric, with the sweater knit on the outside and soft jersey facing inside. This was a really straightforward construction: pattern it, cut it out, sew it up, and serge all the edges on the inside. The zipper application was probably the most time consuming thing about this, but it really looks super. It's a rather fancy zipper with satin tape, and Prof. P. wouldn't hear of it going anywhere but large and in charge up front. "How much did that zipper cost? $11? Why would you hide it in a seam?" She was right. This may the be most wearable thing I've made since starting my fashion school career.

And for the grande finale, my final. This design appeared in my tech drawing final as well. (Last board). It's a wool ponte skirt with diamondback inserts in the front and back, and a novelty stretch top in this crazy, liquid latex snakeskin. It's kind of a bonkers outfit, and I'm kind of in love with it. The top is so shiny and black, and the skirt has a sort of fantastic plastic matteness to it--in my opinion it really works. 

The photos we took of this are absolutely mad.

(C)) Oren R. Cohen

(C) Oren R. Cohen

The snake was my idea--I wanted to look like some kind of mystery cult priestess. Esther and I collaborated on the make-up, and she just knocked it out of the park (she's not only a serious biz photog, she also does make-up!). The wig was all Esther--she actually had this in her possession.

So there you have it! I think I'm actually done with all of my garment construction classes, which is bittersweet. It means I'll be finishing up school soon, and by this time next year I'll have graduated. Maybe I'll even have a new job by then...let us all bow our heads and pray.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Menswear Tailoring Final: The Jacket

Size: 34 (mens)
Shell: Wool suiting from Metro Textiles
Lining: Crepe-backed satin from Chic Fabrics

Finished jacket, with basting stitches
As I mentioned in my only mid-semester post, our one and only assignment for this class was to finish a tailored men's jacket by the end of the semester. This was my least creative construction class, but certainly not the least labour intensive. 

Double-piped waist pocket

Overall I was pretty happy with my finished jacket. There are always things you feel you could do better, little tricks you mentally note for next time. I really struggled through the back vent construction, but after doing it so many times, I feel like I have a better understanding of vents in general. 

Breast pocket. The slight misalignment of the stripe is irksome.
I decided to construct the jacket with interior pockets on either side of the lapel, something we had the option of skipping. This meant sewing these crazy curved linings to the front facings, which was kind of challenging, but ultimately looks very cool. 

Front facing sewn to lining. You can see the basting at the top of one of the interior pockets.

If I had been a better blogger, I could have documented each step that went into creating this jacket, but I wasn't, and there are so many steps involved in a garment like this, it doesn't really bear listing here. Most of them are rather tedious; very necessary, but not terribly interesting. Instead, enjoy some pictures of me goofing around wearing the thing! It came out a little bit smaller than I expected, but it is a men's 34, so the pattern wasn't really designed to accommodate lady bosoms. Still, I think it looks good worn open, like so:

What time is it? Time to get my watch fixed!

Single button detail on the sleeve vents, and just a single button in front

Peep that vent. Also notice how nicely the stripes on the back and the collar line up.

Strange inside facings to accommodate the interior pockets.

Anything in this pocket? No.
In other news, I really need a camera that can handle low-light a little better. Still, you get the idea. Two down, one to go!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Tech Drawing Final: Robots vs. Lizard Men!

The semester ended several weeks ago, but lucky me, I got to immediately leave town to go on vacation, and since being back in New York I've just been enjoying the break from school after what was an extremely intense semester. Three studio classes was such a lot of work, and thankfully I won't have to do another course load like that again, since this time next year I will be officially done with the program. Two classes next semester, an internship over the summer, a class and an internship next fall, graduation, and then...whatever the next step is after that. We'll see when we get there! In the meantime, let's talk final projects:

Technical Drawing was probably my favorite class this past semester. It was also the most time-consuming work-wise, and by extension the most anxiety inducing. Near the end, I was having mini-panic attacks all over the place, convinced to my very soul that there simply wouldn't be enough time to finish this project, and that it would be horrible, and that that would be the end of me. Really. I think I said on more than one occasion to patient friends that I was going to die, and I was sort of only half joking. In the end, as is always the case, once I put aside the mental and physical teeth grinding and just got down business things came together really well.

This is one of the weirdest projects I've done at Parsons yet. The theme is weird, and my brain went to strange places while I was designing the collection. And I love it. I think it's great, and I would wear every single piece here. I actually did fabricate on of the looks for my Knits final, which will be making an appearance in another post soon enough.

Mood board and fabric story
The theme of this 10 look collection was inspired by the new Doctor Who series, a great show recommended to me and championed by my friend Rob. After a few false starts with the Chris Eccleston episodes, I burned through the Tennant and Smith seasons like a Dalek through an expendable Torchwood agent.

There are a bunch of things that I really love about this show. I like that the underlying message is one of kindness, and that when we are kind to one another, when we try to solve problems and resolve conflicts with understanding and care, we really are at our best. I like that the Doctor is a true hero, but is also a slave to his emotions and past demons sometimes, just like we all are. I like that the show is so weird and silly and cinematic, that the dialogue is so clever, that the characters are so intensely likeable.

I like that Matt Smith is a complete dreamboat.

I also like how charmingly low budget the monsters and special effects are, particularly in those first few seasons.While there is some CG used in this show, there are also a lot of costumes and make-up, which harkens back to the old sci-fi movies of yesteryear, when costumes and make-up were what constituted special effects. It's completely charming, and it's part of the cheekiness and the sincerity that make the show work. The theme of this collection comes from all of this, and comes too from my enduring love of narrative and costume, which is really a form of narrative itself. Some of the details are directly inspired by Doctor Who, and some are just my own riffs on cheesy sci-fi monster costumes. While designing these pieces, I thought of each look as a character taking part in the war between robots and lizard people. Each side has a monarch, a general, a cleric, a scout, and a soldier. Super weird and nerdy? Yes. Successful and wearable? Also yes. It's win-win!

Silk dupioni suit with cotton jersey tank, wool ponte princess line dress with oversized sweater knit funnel neck, cotton waffle knit cutout top and black leggings with sweater knit patches.

Cotton jersey long-sleeve top and silk dupioni godet skirt, cotton jersey 3/4 sleeve top and wool jersey maxi tuck-pleat skirt

Wool ponte maxi dress, silk charmeuse tunic dress, wool jersey sweater and wool ponte leggings with novelty snake print.

Wool jersey blazer, silk charmeuse top and wool ponte pants, novelty stretch top and wool ponte skirt.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


Mysteriously, the fall semester is about half over. Every week I think to myself, "Got to update mah blog!" and then I remember that I also have to draft a cardigan for my knits class, buy fabric and other miscellaneous supplies, finish the padstitching for my jacket canvas and bang out three five beautiful pockets for tailoring, spend some time with Illustrator for technical drawing, and also work my forty at the ole day job.


I'm pushing my nose so hard to the grindstone that it's actually become embedded there--I have a grindstone for a nose now. "Old Grindnose," they call me, down at the docks, where I like to hang out sometimes.

Luckily for me and my sanity, I like the work, and I like to work. Give me an ipod full of podcasts and a sewing machine, and I'm a happy clam. Speaking of sewing machines, my stately old Bernina recently got a little Brother that fills me with all sorts of naughty serges. If I were the type of person who named inanimate objects, I would name it Pullo. (That's a deep, deep cut, folks.)


So, what's on the docket for this semester? Here's the rundown:

Tailoring: Menswear: Our only project for this class is to complete a tailored jacket. In this case, "tailoring" refers to the way the jacket is constructed, although we also made muslins to fit and adjust the pattern. A tailored jacket differs from RTW in that there is a lot more handwork. No fusible inter-anything, instead you baste, and  lot of the little finishing details are done with permanent hand sewing. Because it's a menswear class, the jacket is a men's suit jacket, with double-piped pockets at the waist and a breast pocket on the front, two interior welt pockets, and a vent in the back. It's a sharp jacket, and even though I'm a lady, I'm absolutely planning on wearing my finished creation.

Ever wonder what gives a jacket its structure? In this case it's cotton canvas and
 needlepunch. The padstitching on the lapel goes through the canvas and
 into the front. It helps the lapels lie nice and flat once the jacket is finished.

The front of the jacket, basted to the canvas.

The jacket fronts, face down on the table. The facings have
two additional interior pockets, and you can see the edge of the
 canvas, sandwiched between front and facing.

Fashion Techniques: Knits: My last class with my favorite professor ever, this one is all about working with knits. So far the pattern drafting has been easy-peasy, but working with stretchy, squirmy knit fabric is certainly challenging at times. At the moment, I feel like I'm waaaay behind on my work for this class. So far we've drafted a princess line dress, a pullover, a cardigan, and a pair of knit pants. My dress is waiting to be taken in at the back, my pullover has been banished because I'm disatisfied with it, and the cardigan is in its infancy. The pants...I finished the draft of the pattern last week. Eesh.

My princess line dress, which is far more flattering on than this hanger
would have you believe.  Maybe I should go as Uhura next year for Halloween?

My cardigan, cut and waiting to be sewn. The way this pattern is drafted,
the only seams are at the shoulders and armholes. Nifty, eh?

My cardigan fabric. It's actually double-faced--the other side is a nice soft jersey.

Testing out the sleeve cuff before attaching

Fashion Technical Drawing: Another studio class, albeit one that mostly involves spending hours and hours sitting at the computer, which is right in my wheelhouse. This class is one I've been looking forward to taking as it is very Adobe Illustrator-centric, a program that I've heretofore been unacquainted with but have wanted to learn. And it. is. awesome. Maddening at times, but also amazingly powerful and (once you understand how it works,) pretty intuitive. We're just getting started with it, but already had a big project due this past Monday: a four-look collection plus mood board and color story for a company of our choosing. I wanted to pick a company that A) I wouldn't mind working for sometime in the near future, and B) would allow me to design a few simpler pieces, since my skill set with Illustrator is still somewhat limited. I decided on J. Crew and I'm pretty happy with the result:

That about brings us up to speed. I'd like to thank coffee, diet coke, and Dave and Graham for a great first half of the semester. Let's keep it up, fellows!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Chillin' on the Veranda

So, school is back in session, and I find myself as busy as a bee again, scrambling to finish sets of flats, samples of mitered neckbands in stretchy jersey, and precisely piped pockets for tailoring. Let us harken back to a simpler time, a time of gentility and ease, a time just before the beginning of my gloriously lazy, post-Construction III summer, because the fruits of my super secret, stress inducing, sleep depriving project are ready to be harvested from all good bookshops. Veranda magazine's October issue, page 57: 

Oh hey there, form that I draped in drop dead gorgeous interior design fabric! I remember you! Fancy that--you're on the opening page of the spread.

Work from my fellow students. Pretty amazing, eh? We did all of this in maybe 10 hours or so.

Two more lovely dresses by M and myself. Mine is the one on the right.

How lovely is the red dress? True fact: The little frog closure on the front was my idea! You guys, I'm not gonna lie. I can't stop opening to this page and looking at my name. In print. In a fancy magazine. For work that I'm pretty damn proud of.  Again, I'm so grateful to Professor P. for championing the four of us through this, and to the awesome women from Veranda who were an absolute joy to work with. I'm looking down the gullet of another intimidating semester of work and school and schoolwork, but it's stuff like this that reveals there is light at the end of the tunnel. Stay tuned! 

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Construction III, Part IV: Le Finale

The last meeting of construction classes are always fun, because you finally get to see your classmates' finished work after watching all the individual bits being worked on all semester. We actually had a two-class get together for our final presentations, which was double the fun. The other class' theme was "White Out," which yielded some very beautiful interpretations.

White Out

Yin and Yang

 Yin and Yang

 White Out

White Out

Ying and Yang

 Right: Yin and Yang, Left: White Out

Yin and Yang
I think my garments look better a body, so here are a few snaps I took at SMP Studios:

The bustier can go over the wrap, too.

The cut out back of the jacket shows off the embroidery

Motifs at the front and sides

Skirt, straight up.

Another view of the back
 The back pleat of the skirt is so long!

Draping with the jacket
Construction III was a really intense five weeks, and there were times where I felt I was really in over my head. A lot of the other students in the class were there because it was the last class they needed in order to graduate, and you could really tell from the level of their work. Nevertheless, I am quite happy with how all of my pieces came out, and feel like I really did push myself both creatively and technically to get everything done.

Big, warm, sincere thanks to Prof. J, without whom I do not think I would have come through it alive. She also encouraged me participate in a SUPER SECRET extracurricular thing, which will hopefully be out this fall. Despite the fact that it happened mere days before our final projects were due, and ate up more of my time than I could really afford, I'm so excited about it and so happy I did it. Here's a little teaser, and I'll say no more:

It's been two weeks since class ended, and I'm finally feeling hale and healthy again. (For a few days there I was convinced I had mono, so inexhaustible was my exhaustion and sluggishness.) Now to pack away plenty of sleep and funtimes in these two summery months before jumping back into the fray come fall. Excelsior!