I love this time of the year. As someone who greatly enjoys cleaning and fresh starts, the New Year is always exciting. I also find it helps to look over the last year, to show myself how much I have accomplished. It always feels like not much happened until you look through your day planner or calendar. I ended up having a very busy year, and have another one planned! My apologies in advance - this is going to be a very long post!
I started off the year with an easy project- a cute little bee skirt. I look slightly miserable in some of the photos since I was battling an unnecessarily long cold, but I still wear this (and brought it to Germany with me!).
After that, I had a bustle era obsession, and made a bustle cage and my Through the Looking Glass dress. We took photos of this dress in a blizzard (most of our photo shoots seem to be in terrible weather...), but I loved how it turned out! It is actually for sale in my Etsy here.
And started making a second bustle dress to go with the first... which is still not done (first goal for the New Year? Finish some of theses projects)
In March I went to Germany! I spent two weeks, starting in Berlin, and making my way over the Koln and then Hannover. I had an amazing time, got tons of inspiration, and met some of my family that lives there!
Once I got back to Canada, I finished quite a few things in a pretty short amount of time, starting with my Moth dress. We had a great day taking these photos in Inglewood, in Calgary.
My favourite photo shoot from the entire year! The Berlin Collection is so far some of the favourite garments I have ever made as well. I wear all of them, and the WW2 military style will always be my favourite. We were so lucky to ride in a vintage plane as well. This is up there with Germany on my best memories of the year list.
Lots of 50's styled things this year! After making my In the Mood for Love Dress and enjoying wearing it so much, I decided to make another one in a different fabric.
I have always admired vintage corset covers. They are so delicate and detailed! So this summer I made myself one for underneath the (still unfinished) bustle dress I was working on. And it was perfect timing! I ended up being able to get photos at a Calgary Stampeded Pancake Breakfast.
The Mexico Collection was my Summer collection this year (can you believe it? 3 Collections in 1 year! I am quite proud of myself). We got fabulous pictures at Drumheller on a very hot day.
In August we got new photos of my 1930's skirt at Heritage Park (one of my favourite places to go every summer), and made myself another dirndl. Dirndl's are one of my favourite garments, and I have so much fun making them. I also got 2 tattoos in August, which was lots of fun!
September was probably the craziest month of them all! Not only did I start school (I am taking Costume Cutting and Construction through the Olds College Calgary Campus), but I also was a Team Lead for MakeFashion. Last year was my first time doing MakeFashion, and I absolutely loved it. I was so excited to be a part of it again this year! I also started my Etsy account in September, as well as got photos of my Man From UNCLE dress. Plus, at the beginning of the month I released my Fall Collection, Crooked House, where I collaborated with 2 local businesses - DSign Step and Iron Crow Antiques.
Thankfully, October calmed down a little bit and I only finished one garment- my 1950's romper, which is also up on my Etsy.
In November I actually finished two outfits, but I only have photos of my Canadian 1950's Shirt and Skirt. I also had lots of other things going on in October and November, which cut into some of my sewing and inspiration time. I got psychological testing done in November, and was finally diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. I also turned 19 in November, and participated in the Natural Talent Alliance Model Walk
And finally December! I had some pretty big ups and downs this year, both with personal life and my sewing. I had some amazing opportunities and fantastic memories, such as going to Germany, flying in a plane from 1946, and taking part of MakeFashion again, just with my own design this time. I also spent a lot of time questioning exactly where I want to go in my future (which caused a lot of grief- I really like having a goal to work towards). December ended up being an amazingly calm end to the year. I finished my two final projects in school (a skirt and pair of pants that I will be getting photos of soon), and did a Peaky Blinder photo shoot to celebrate finishing my first semester of school. I also started working out again, and became a brand ambassador for Just Strong athletic wear!
I also worked on a few things that I don't have photos of yet during the year (such as a 1960's coordinating coat and dress, and vest that I made for a gift, and a few other things), and I made a few patterns for a local athletic wear company, Intuitive.
To sum up the year in logistics: I sewed over 30 garments, released 3 collections, started school, and was in 11 newspaper articles. Not too shabby!
I am so excited for 2019!
I filmed a large portion of the process of making the Berlin Collection. To see more photos, you can see them here
I was so inspired by Germany while I was there, by what people wore, the beautiful countryside, and by the stunning architecture and history everywhere. Out of the whole trip, Berlin inspired me the most. Maybe it's because of the difficult near history that the city has gone through (if you know my blog well, you will know that difficult histories are something I try to teach about often), and maybe it's the gritty mixed with elegant that you see so often- Belle Epoque architecture layered with graffiti, a delicate skirt paired with a grunge-styled wool jacket.
Something that I immediately think of when it comes to Berlin is the military. I think of tough, strong women (it is a fact that Germany was pretty much rebuilt by women and immigrants after WW2, since they were all that was left), and resilience. I started to come up with the collection on the U-Bahn, and it grew in my head every time I had empty time to think (mostly on trains). I decided to make a military inspired collection, with feminine touches. After taking into account what I could reasonable pattern on my own or what I already had patterns for, as well as what materials would be easy to find or that I already had, I came up with a pretty solid collection. It includes: a pair of jodphurs, a 1930's styled skirt, a peplum blouse, my 1940's dress (that I blogged about here), and a matching suit jacket.
Most of these pieces are 1930s and 1940s styled, with a touch of 50's flair. These are the eras that interest me the most for the country- in the beginning of the 1930's, Berlin was far ahead of many other countries in terms of acceptance. But I will start before that, after the first world war, to explain the country a little bit better.
After Germany's loss of World War One, their economy and pride was crippled. Because of the Versailles Treaty, which entailed that Germany's borders would be reassigned (losing certain towns to Belgium, France, Poland, etc), they would practically lose their military, completely lose their colonies, and were prohibited access from certain weapons. What crippled Germany the worst was their responsibility to pay for the war, as well as other financial obligations. The country was struggling enough with their debt from the war, so when the Depression hit the US (who was helping them pay off their debts), the ripple was incapacitating. This is how Hitler managed to get in to power- the weak country was desperate to have jobs and pride. However, before Hitler wormed his way in, Berlin was a very open place. This is the city that held the first successful sex reassignment surgery (if you have seen The Danish Girl, that is who I am talking about). This was a very liberal place before the Nazi's- if you are interested in this era, Robert Beachy has a book called Gay Berlin that I have heard very good reviews about.
With my collection, I wanted to talk about all of the strong women in this time. I wanted it to be about the women who rebuilt the country, and the ones who made their way across the Wall even though it was incredibly dangerous, and the ones who rebelled against the Nazi's during the second world war (you may be surprised at how many female spies and resistance members there were).
Because the Nazi's wanted women to be at home having kids and cooking, they didn't quite expect women to be fighting in the resistance. This gave them lots of opportunities that some of the men didn't have. They could smuggle things around the country (such as letters and funds- often hidden in skirt hems and heels), as well as go undercover to find out information. Because it wasn't expected, they weren't caught as easily for a long time.
There is a story of a French resistance member that I always think of when I think of the women during the war (this is from A Train in Winter, just in case you want to hear more about this woman). She had a letter that she needed to carry from one resistance member to another, and she had to go out into the country to bring it to the next member. On the train, she was sitting beside a Nazi officer, and he took a bit of a shine to her. When other officers boarded the train to search the people on board, he told them that they did not need to search her, probably saving her and the letter in the process, without even realizing it.
There are so many amazing stories like this of peoples bravery during the war. Stories of women walking for miles in high heels and nice dresses to smuggle things around Nazi Occupied territory, and people who helped so many Jewish, Roma, and other people who were being persecuted to get out. Many designers and seamstresses were found to have been housing people to help them on their way out, or sewing in money, photos, and other valuables into hems for them.
If you want to read about some of these incredible stories, or if you are just interested in this time in history, here are some of my favourites: The Librarian of Auschwitz ( a true story that I actually read in Germany), A Train in Winter by Caronline Moorehead (a collection of stories of women resistance members- these stories are amazing), The Scent of Secrets by Jane Thynne, every single one of Elizabeth Wein, but especially Code Name Verity and Rose Under Fire (and also Black Dove, White Raven), Violins of Autumn by Amy Mcauley, Salt to Sea and Between Shades of Grey by Ruta Sepetys, and of course The Book Thief. When it comes to movies, I would recommend Generation War (a German mini series, which is beautifully done), X Company (this is Canadian, which I am very proud of!), and The Danish Girl (the movie that is about the first successful sex reassignment surgery). I have spent most of my life reading about Germany, and specifically this era, so if you would like to hear about more books and movies, just ask! I would love to share, and also hear about any of your favourites!
The pictures were taken by a 1948 plane. A family friend owns it and was so kind to let us use it for photos, and we even got to fly in it! Thank you so much Travis and Brenda!
And the shoes are from DSign Step, as always:)
Stay tuned for my making of video!
I am extremely close to being finished a new collection that I have been working on since I got home from Germany- The Berlin Collection. My trip gave me so much inspiration, and as soon as I got home I started with a military, menswear, 1940's styled collection. I thought that while I finish off the last piece, I would share some of my inspiration. I will talk about it more in my post with the photos, but I based the collection mostly off of the resistance and rebels of World War Two, and the women who rebuilt Germany. I wanted to focus on the strong women that I learned so much about while I was there.
I was also inspired by the Candian tv show X Company, which is based on a true story. All of the characters have a fantastic mix of military and menswear styled outfits as well as beautiful evening and day dresses. Aurora (a Jewish Candian spy) and Sabine (a German woman turned resistance) are my personal favourites. My jodphurs are inspired the most by Aurora.
I hope you enjoyed a little look into the inspiration for the collection! I can't wait to show you what I have been working on over the past weeks.