The Oxford Dictionary states the definition of the verb BLOSSOM as, “mature or develop in a promising or healthy way” and that’s what I’ve been doing! About the time I wrote my last post, I received an invite asking me to participate in ‘Repurposed: An Upcycled Fashion Show & Auction.’ It was being sponsored by The City of Charlotte’s Solid Waste Services and Healthy Communities. The city of Charlotte has a trash problem and they wanted to raise awareness about recycling. Residents accumulate about 1,600 pounds of garbage per person per year. It goes into landfills and produces dangerous gasses, which cause pollution and ultimately diseases. Upcycling is a waste reduction solution. It was a unique, innovative concept and something I felt I really wanted to participate in. I’ve been sewing for others, one on one, for a long time, but haven’t participated in many runway shows. I figured it was a great way to start off the new year, the show was in mid-February, and I’d garner some new experiences.
On December 31st, I went to Value Village, similar to Goodwill, and selected the three garments I was allowed to create my look. I went in open minded, had no thoughts of a design, and knew I wanted to look for things that had a fair amount of fabric. I also wanted a print – most designers shy away from them! I’d been in the store close to an hour when my eye caught a wild animal print that had pops of blue and purple along with the typical black and tans. I pulled the garment off the rack, it was old, my guess late 80s/early 90s; and it was one of the ugliest things I had ever seen! But the crepe de chine fabric held promise . . . the print was still right in fashion! I narrowed down my other two pieces to solids that would complement my print, a royal blue two piece dress and a bronze/brown taffeta gown. As I placed my ‘fabric’ in the trunk of my car, I took another look and pulled out my cell phone for a snap shot. As the camera shutter clicked, I knew the brown taffeta would be cigarette pants.
I’m a designer who ‘let’s the fabric speak to me.’ Show me a bolt or flat fold of something and a vision immediately (well almost) pops into my head. I had never taken a garment, deconstructed it, and made it into something totally new and fashion forward. This was going to be a challenge! I’m not sure when or how the concept originally came to me, if I recall correctly I was doodling during a team meeting at my corporate world job . . . A cute fitted top with a high-low peplum, long sleeves, and neckline to be determined. Once I saw my small sketch, I knew it’s what I wanted to do!
The entire process was a bit surreal. I had a look book of model pictures along with their measurements. My aesthetic is ‘real women have curves’ and 90% of my customers are curvy ladies. However, since I was so limited with materials, I opted for a slender model, only the floor kept her legs from going on forever, she would be perfect for the vintage skinny pant I had in mind. She has a pale complexion, red hair, some experience and her photos were stunning! The vision of my completed look was coming into focus.
At the first fitting my model, Jane, was dubious but I was pleased. I had to rethink my design several times due to the limited fabric I had. The peplum wasn’t as full, the sleeves were shorter, the pants needed to have several seams, but I was determined. I still was unsure of how I wanted the neckline. After all, this garment was going to be auctioned off for charity – I wanted the buyer to have options. I ended up with a reversible neck ruffle that was not attached and connected with a hook-n-eye. The tenacity and diligence of bringing my design to fruition paid off.
It finally was show time. The garments were completed the night before, leaving only hand sewing and buttons while we sat around and waited. Our call time was 9 am for a 5 pm show – it sure doesn’t seem that long while watching Project Runway! I had searched online for how I wanted her hair and makeup, something similar to Myrna Hansen, Miss USA 1953, and I kept with that retro vibe with bright red lips. I was one of 20 designers participating in the show and my look took the stage 8th to several ooos and aaaahhhhhhhs. The bidding immediately started and we had one of the highest bids of the evening. Only a hand bag and oversized denim coat brought in more dollars for the charities. If my outfit had been a more realistic size, rather than a 4, I think it would have garnered some huge bucks! When Jane whipped off the collar, the crowd gasped. Exactly the reaction I was going for!
Leading up to the show, I was constantly posting sneak peaks on Instagram and my Facebook pages, making sure to hashtag appropriately and acknowledge those companies and charities that helped make this show possible. That’s how they’d found me, through my Facebook page. Networking, making those connections . . . you never know where your next opportunity or customer is going to come from! I’ve only been pushing the social media for a few short months and look where it has gotten me already! Leading up to the show, we were all part of a messenger group on Facebook so we could all stay in formed. It was a great way to learn names and seek out their pages! And I’ve learned it’s great to have referrals for when you can’t or don’t want to do that certain project. After the show, I made sure to use my social media to thank everyone. Tags and hashtags take some getting used to, but they are a necessary must in the ever expanding world of technology. Don’t be afraid to use them.
Participating in #Repurposed has opened so many doors for me; I have had many invites to participate in other events that I’ve had to pick and choose. I know that now is my time. I am BLOSSOMING! A collection is underway and will be premiered at Charlotte’s Runway for Peace, part of our International Fashion Week at the end of April. Stay tuned for more info!
Please make sure you follow my fellow Stitching Stars Blog Hoppers and help them blossom too! You can find all of their links below. Also, a few of us also decided to give our readers a chance to win a quilt. Several of us made the individual squares – yes this sewist did her first quilt square! The quilt was designed by Lissa LaGreca Lovingly Lissa and quilted and bound by Lisa Peterson of Lisa and Lorelai. To be eligible to win the raffle, you must must follow me on Instagram (@creationsbypaula) and click on the link below. Follow the others too and increase your chances. Good luck!!
Blossom Blog Hop Schedule
Monday, April 3, 2017Tuesday, April 4, 2017Wednesday, April 5, 2017Thursday, April 6, 2017Friday, April 7, 2017
Sew long for now . . .