Wednesday, February 27, 2013

In retrospect...

The year is 1996.

Three years after college graduation, married, out of my parents' home, I FINALLY get to start pursuing what interests me.  Using my own money, I am immersed in and outrageously passionate about sewing, creating, imagining, and designing clothing.  Devouring the FIT library shelves on a regular basis, I spend hours after my day job thinking, planning, sketching, dreaming...

I keep a detailed journal with clippings from magazines and newpapers,  writing notes on all I discover, copying articles, beautiful pictures... - Oscar Versolato design
article written by Ruth La Ferla
Direct quote: "Before you make clothes, you have to know technique" - Oscar Versolato

Side note: We've been having a discussion recently about Parsons discontinuing sewing classes for design students. The above quote, I'm sure, will add to that discussion.

Sandra Bullock, in a gown that looks like something stolen directly from my dreams.

Learning to draw hands - Fashion Art course book 1996 

My sketching pretty much plateaued around here... This was for a "plus" sized figure.

My little happy secret is that I can also watch the videos of classes I am not taking, and learn far more than even the classes I've paid for will teach me.  The FIT's library resources are vast, and the classes give me the opportunity to talk to other students about so many things I don't know.  Some of my classmates are professionals in the industry already, while some are as green as I am.

One night, sobbing as I sketch in Fashion Art class... (Yes, literally.) I question whether I can ever sketch garments that effectively convey what I'm dreaming of...

A ridiculously talented classmate gently taps me on the shoulder and says, "Don't worry; you just have to get what's in here (points to his head, and then his heart) to come through here (rubs his fingers together)."  It echos in my head even today.

Truer words were never spoken.

Problem is, I can't find a path.  Where will those jobs/experiences/mentors come from?

I have studied how to drape, develop a pattern, sketch, sew - using my hands, head and heart... how do I apply them in the fashion world?

Now, it is 2013.

Since then, I have worked for quite a few fashion companies, tried, triumphed and failed at many creative endeavors, and in this moment... wouldn't trade any of it for a thing. In the past year alone, I've had the benefit of consulting with a CFDA design firm to help find sample-making talent, worked personally with a very talented billionaire to realize creative visions of her own, written for a national sewing publication, made clothing for very special private clients, done wildly creative work for a trend forecasting company, and even managed a tiny bit of creating for myself and my own family.  Better than what I could have dreamt of back then.

So, maybe now you are the one worried about where to start.  I am often struck by how many students and creatives have no idea where or how to shop for sewing supplies, what various fabrics and supplies are called, how to negotiate the quantities they need, how to get a first pattern made and graded, how to get even the smallest quantity of items produced...

That is one of the reasons why I am here.  I can point you in the right direction. You may even want to come along on a Speakeasy tour!

Got questions or comments?  I'm here!


  1. What a wonderful post Mimi. It is so exciting how far you have come. I am still struggling with where I want to go. I don't have the schooling for design, just the passion. My true love is the sewing process, creating lovely pieces that were once in my head. It frustrates me to have to sew things that don't interest me to earn a living. But at this point I know it is a must. However it takes away from my creative time. It is a catch 22 I am afraid.
    I love reading your blog posts. They are warm and encouraging. And one day I hope to be able to take a Speakeasy Tour with you.

    1. Thank you, Rebecca! Passion is where it all starts! You can still learn all you need to, but doing it without school may slow the learning curve sinec you have to discover so much on your own. Even so, what you do learn will be burned into your memory from hands-on experience!

  2. Oh, this was timely! I've been lurking for months and hoping to come to NYC sometime for your tour, but today I got an email from Craftsy about a draping class, which I was seriously considering. This gave me the nudge I needed. Hope to do your tour next time I visit NYC - last time I wandered into Paron by myself and was intimidated by the way they store the fabric. I'd never seen it all on rolls instead of bolts - duh!

    1. Oh, that's great! I love it when my posts really mean something to the readers! I'd love to see you on a Speakeasy tour, and, if not, emerging from the lurker shadows to interact!

  3. This really inspired me! I basically taught myself how to sew on a machine like last summer and I loved it immediately. I altered a few things from thrift stores ! Went great. BUt like you said, I want to practice my technique more, and get a solid foundation. Especially since I want to start making my own clothes (like dresses, coats, and etc) I want to reallyyyy learn how to sew and how to do it properly. I learned alot online but I want a more inperson and hands on experience.
    DO you have a place in NYC (live in brooklyn) that you would recommend for beginners that want to learn (or improve) their sewing?

    I dont mind relearning the basics. one person said I should know how to do stitches by hand as well. what do you think? Do you know of a place that offers classes like that as well?

    My price range would be cheap :( I am a college student.
    Thank you for responding! :)

    1. For me personally, my first step was to dream. Find all the inspiration you can, and then watch someone do something harder than you currently know how to do. Find a YouTube or a video for that. Then, back up, and take a basics class, with visions of the more challenging stuff in your head - to get you through. If you have a job that does tuition reimbursement and you qualify, take a continuing ed class at FIT. You'll learn more than you need to know, but you WILL learn very affordably that way. Private teachers can be great, but not necessarily for the budget conscious. Try the Sewing Salon in Manhattan, and I'll bet there are all places to take classes in Brooklyn, but I don't know of any specifically. If you know of any, can others chime in here? Not in Brooklyn, but the JCC in Manhattan (Upper West Side) has a great learning environment. If you know other friends who want to learn along with you, private teachers are a great way to go, and I do know a few great ones!

  4. Great Post. The same with me... It is only one year how I start my sewing hobby, now I become really addicted in that! 70% of my minds are about sewing. now I am trying to copy some of the designers. imaging thier dresses and thinking how can i do that, how can be sewed this part, want to touch and look under the my hubby laughing at me. =) And I want to learn how to draw, really interested in Fashion Art.
    Love your blog. Keep to encourage sewers like me =)

  5. Love seeing your drawings and hearing about your career.


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