Thursday, December 22, 2011


Digging through old notebooks and folders I found this paper doll that I drew back in college. I drew paper dolls pretty much constantly and I think they were a lot more helpful in developing my rendering skills than any fashion illustration class I had to take. Fo sho. Or maybe the classes were a good starting point and gave me the basic tools needed but the rest comes with practice, as is so often the case. Anyway, I just thought this was a fun little one and wanted to share.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Everybody Here Would Know Exactly What I Was Talkin' About

So I have been on this slipper kick (ha!) lately. The original plan was that I was going to make slippers for all the lovely ladies I know for Christmas. Except... yeah. That didn't happen. I bought a free use pattern and whipped up a pair in my size to see how it would work. But, they didn't fit. Not by a mile. So over the course of the next week I made something ridiculous like four pairs of slippers until I finally found a shape and size that would fit me. I made myself a pair. Then I adjusted the pattern to be a more catch-all shape and after considerable gnashing of teeth produced two pairs for the shop. The first pair can be found on Flikr or Etsy and is (sailor-style, of course, because I love sailor style!) made from reclaimed ticking. This second pair is one of Those Projects.
You know. Those.
I am such a picky perfectionist. And, sometimes I just make something and then decide about half way through that I am Not Sure About It. These gave me that moment of insecurity at one point, though in the end I do think they are pretty cute. I changed things up a bit and added a fleece-lined sole. Which is why the insides look a little wacky-do in the photos. They are comfier to walk around in, though. Also added: non-slip patches on the soles. I designed a more sleek ballet-slipper-esque shaped patch to use on other slippers in the future, but this pair wanted diamond shaped patches.
You see, it all started when I rediscovered the money-print cotton fabric in my stash. I bought it about... 6 years ago. The day before my wedding, actually. I was out shopping for baby-quilt fabric for my nephew, who was about two months old at the time. ANYWAY. So I found the fabric again, and decided it would be a great slipper lining. And then I found the vintage corduroy (Hi, I'm Corduroy McClure. You may remember me from such I Will Fly designs as the Organ Grinder short vest). And then I had a sudden flash of inspiration. So now they are the Diamonds On The Soles Of Her Shoes.
I dunno. Sometimes I just out-twee myself.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Door Buster?

Well, the weather is finally dropping below 75* in central California, and the leaves on the trees are starting to blossom in to Fall colors. Happy Thanksgiving and a joyous Autumn to us all!

I am pretty anti-black friday (I worked retail for SEVEN Christmases!) and intend to spend the biggest shopping day of the year snug in my living room with a cup of cocoa laced with chambord and maybe get a jump on a project that has been sitting around waiting for me to feel like making it for a very long time (it's booooooooorrrrrrriiiiinnnnnggggggg). I encourage everyone to stay home and watch movies in their jammies. It's so much more interesting than battling the crowd at the mall.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

knittin' the mittens

"Snow White" mitties
Originally uploaded by I Will Fly design
Not actually mittens, but around here we do call them "mitties".
I knit, though I am not the very best knitter in the world, or even on Etsy. I hate to admit it, but I find knitting a bit tedious. I decided to knit something to sell, though, because I found this fun yarn spun with strands of iridescent sparkles and thought they would make excellent fingerless gloves. I wear mitties almost constantly in the cool weather to help keep my junky hands and wrists warm, but, though I love white I just can't wear it because I work with my hands.
So, here are the mitties that I designed to use this pretty yarn. You can't see much of the sparkle here, but it's there!
The good thing about knitting for the shop is that I can watch TV while I knit (not so much while I sew, I usually listen to music instead). These mitties were knit to the accompaniment of Star Trek the Next Generation, the Tudors, and a strangely surreal anime show called "Princess Tutu".

Saturday, October 15, 2011

detail oriented

I like to try new techniques. In fact, I have a massive backlog of interesting details I want to incorporate and handwork I want to try out. A lot of designs end up being inspired by the simple fact that I want to try something new and different. I have wanted to try this style of quilting (which is called "trapunto" these days but was called "Italian quilting" back in the day) for years, and finally decided on a garment I could use to experiment with. I had this wool suiting around the house already and I designed this little vest pattern last year for the Organ Grinder vest. I've decided that it is just about the perfect thing to try out interesting fabric manipulation and embellishment techniques, because it is relatively small and is made up of two basic and simple shapes. Interesting surface design benefits from simple garment construction for practical reasons but it's also a good idea to limit garment complications to keep it from looking too "busy".

Anyway. Here I used a simple double-arch shape (which reminds me of gothic architecture) and threaded black cording underneath the ivory colored fabric, to create a subtle pattern. The finished product reminds me of scrimshaw and wedding cakes. It also oddly reminds me of the church my husband's family belongs to, as they use that peaked arch shape in just about everything in the place.

In a related note, I love craft books from the 70s. While there are lots of lovely craft books out these days (to go along with our great crafting revolution) the last great resurgence of crafting was in the 1970s. That is the era our moms were inspired by, and those are certainly the books I grew up with. In my adulthood I have actually gone to considerable lengths to acquire old copies of some of my favorites. I absolutely love the Sunset Soft Toys and Dolls book ( I found it used through Amazon marketplace). I also use a sturdy old copy (that I stole from my mom, sorry mom!) of the Golden Hands embroidery book for a lot of my embroidery, quilting, and surface design inspirations. I think these two books did more to inspire me to sew and create than anything else in my childhood.

Sunday, September 25, 2011


Fall began on Friday, and this little Autumnal jumpsuit has been waiting around for more than a week for photos to finally get taken. It's a steampunk-y take on a 70's style. I bought this fabric and all the zippers several months ago, right before leaving my fabric store job. I found these lovely vintage brass stampings of flight wings on Etsy, and used industrial strength glue to attach them to pin backings so they can be removed from the jumpsuit.
The brown twill fabric this is made from is a poly/lycra blend. Not what I would have chosen if I had another option, but the color was the very best I could find. Anyhow, the stretchiness of the fabric made putting in the zippers and attaching the pockets something of a time consuming battle. A lot of stabilizer had to be deployed.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Saying So Long to Summer With Stripes

Sailor Shoes!
Originally uploaded by I Will Fly design
See what I did there?
My world has been all about stripes for the last week, though admittedly I am pretty fond of stripes all the time, anyway. For my first week of self employment I made a mod dress from custom printed striped fabric I designed on After a long hard week (not really so hard, to be honest. Working from home is pretty rad!) I came in to possession of a pair of plain fabric mary janes, so as a project for myself I painted them in sailor stripes and added red rhinestones in nautical designs.
I know, I know. Stripes and sailors are for Summer time and it is rapidly approaching Autumn. But it is 100* here today and I never got a chance to do any fun Summer sewing because I was working all the time at the theater! In any case, September is when we take our annual vacation to the seaside, so I am feeling the urge for sea-faring clothes!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

What the Designer is Wearing This Season (part 2 in an occasional series)

In order to fill space and kill time I have been meaning to post some more of the things that I make for myself that no one ever gets to see online.
This new red skirt is making it's first outing tomorrow, when I will wear it to a dress rehearsal at my theater job. It's my very favorite color, so you will probably see it popping up pretty regularly if you pay attention to my wardrobe. The fabric is a cotton poplin with a touch of lycra in it and the design is a very simple tiered peasant style that can be styled in lots of retro ways. The little top was purchased a million years ago at Target but had a plunging neckline that I am not entirely sure who could wear out in public, really, so I added the little panel to the top. The necklace here was made by Christina (she doesn't have an Etsy store yet, so we should all encourage her, yes?) and is made from vintage rosaries and jewelry findings and a tintype.
My perfect pair of maryjanes is still out of commission (I swear I will take them in to be fixed SOMEDAY) so I will be wearing gold wedge sandals with this tomorrow night.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Summer Lovin'

Aw, man. So I've been working on this vest for a month...
Not just the sewing of the vest, though. I also had to design the pattern and work through a test garment to tweak it first. I know, I always seem to be doing that. But then I have a perfect pattern I can use to make a million things with, right? If only it worked out that way! I just get bored with doing the same thing all time.
Anyhow. Here is a vest that I have dubbed "Eugenia". I was going to call it "Eugene" after my favorite Andrew Bird song, but thought slightly better of it at the last moment. Slightly.
The inspiration for this vest came from the fabulous draped styles of one of the premier art deco designers of the 1920s, Erte. These days you mostly see his illustrations of theatrical costumes and other elaborate formal attire, but he also deigned lovely draped day wear with fascinating interlocked and wrap-around pieces.
The fabric I used here is 100% wool and 100% cotton. I have moved away from synthetics whenever possible, these days. Natural fibers are more comfortable to wear, as you probably already know, but they are also better to work with. You can mold a piece of wool in ways that polyester would never allow, and silk drapes in such beautiful ways that synthetics will never quite replicate.
The edges of the front panels, here, were all stitched by hand and took eons to complete. I am quite happy with the way it worked out, though! Originally I was going to make the buttons functional and space them out down the front in a normal sort of way. I was inspired along the way, though, by one of those happy accidents, and instead settled on decorative buttons and a snap-front closure. I use snaps on most of my shirts, rather than buttons, because I like the hidden quality of them as well as the fact that you can't mess up an otherwise perfect garment by sewing a snap on the way you can by sewing a buttonhole on a dicky machine.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Embarassment of Riches

Right now I am suffering from a surplus of ideas and a distinct lack of time to devote to them (as well as a massive lack of energy). At present I have at least three massive projects I want to work on ALL AT ONCE, not including the complicated and fiddly project I have been working on for a month now!
I'm currently about 3/4 of the way through a (hopefully) gorgeous 1920's-esque, Erté-inspired vest. After that I have to decide between a retro 80's dress called "Jailhouse Rock", a steampunk-y bit of Rosie-the-Riveter-chic, a corset with a fun and funky twist inspired by a local art festival, and many experimental bits and bobs of varying degrees of usefulness.
BUT In a few months, I will have more than enough time on my hands. Which is by way of saying that at the start of September I shall be joining the ranks of America's unemployed. I hasten to add that this was a decision I made for myself, after a lot of hemming and hawing and generally beating myself up about it. So, in a week I will be ending my 5+ year association with my retail job and taking on full-time work at the theater for the Summer season. After load-out at the end of August I will be pleasantly free to do with my time what I choose until I either a)get bored and have to find a new day job, b)become broke enough that I have to find a new day job, or c)start making enough money with my Etsy shop and craft shows that I no longer need a day job.
Regardless of what happens it means I will have practically no time for the next few months, and then, finally, PLENTY of time to work on new designs and get the store restocked with interesting and fabulous new things!
So, anyway! Wish me luck!
Also, in honor of the occasion, for the next two weeks use the coupon code "QUITTINGTIME" at checkout and get 10% off everything in both of my Etsy shops!)

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Away with my raggle-taggle gypsy-o

The seasons just creep up on me, I swear! Just when I get used to the idea of Winter it's suddenly Spring. Two weeks later (it's California, we don't have transition seasons here) it's Summer.
While it's a bit too cold out today to qualify as Summer, it was in the 80s when I started work on this little jammy set a week ago.
I designed these little numbers a while back, based on classical pinup girls and a bad belly dancing costume I ran across in a Halloween clearance section. I really wanted to make the first salable set in a cherry (or other fruit, if I couldn't find cherries) print. I had to make an expedition out of the fabric hunt, and ended up dragging my father out to the fabric shop with me a few weeks back to help me pick out prints. I ended up buying two different fabrics, this one and one with the same cherries on a black and white checkered background. I polled everyone I knew to see which one I should make first. The girls all said black and oddly enough the boys all said checkers. I decided to go ahead and do the black one because my sewing machines were already threaded with black thread!
Often, when I am really taken with a design, I can't stop coming up with ideas for fabric combinations and embellishments for them. This set is no different. I can already think of so many great ways to change it up! Tap pants instead of bloomers, eyelet and gingham, lace, beads and bows, silks... what I actually end up with in the long run may have nothing to do with all these ideas, but it's always great to have a good old standard design to go back to when you are in a rut and can't think of anything new and exciting to make.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Retro Chic

English Rose skirt
Originally uploaded by I Will Fly design
I am constantly inspired in unusual ways. For this particular project I was instantly inspired when the local fabric shop got in a shipment of this incredible ribbon rose-covered taffeta fabric. I was first taken with the red version, but figured I would go a more subdued and elegant route for this skirt right out of the gate.
This 3-D fabric posed special little problems while working with it (and that isn't mentioning all the little bits of black taffeta that are still scattered around my floor after three vacuumings!). The zipper had to be stitched in by hand, the waistband had to be made of a smooth fabric (no one wants three inches of ribbon roses around their waistline), and the hemlines of both the skirt and the lining had to be reinforced with what we call "horsehair" but is actually a type of braided nylon. All in all I am tickled with the way it turned out, and only wish I had a giant Queen Elizabeth hat and white peplum jacket to wear it with for the photos a la Dior's iconic New Look of the post-war 1940s and 50s.
As an aside, I would like to point out that in these pictures I am wearing the earrings my mother gave me as a wedding present, because she was getting on my case about never wearing them recently ;)

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Let them eat cake

Man, you know times are stressful when my new items drop to one per two month span. Uck.
Anyway, here is the latest greatest project. The fabric this is made from is probably the most amazing stuff I have ever worked with. The peach and blue stripes are each woven from a collection of much smaller stripes in alternating deep and light tones. The floral design is also jacquard woven in to the piece in delicate white and dove-gray thread. The background is entirely finished with a moire texture, which is that slightly wood-grained look that you see on fabric sometimes. I have had this stuff in my collection for many years, waiting for appropriate projects. I made a pair of cuffs with it a couple of years ago but this vest has officially used it all up, I'm afraid. I wish I had better photos of it, but it's terribly foggy today and will be raining tomorrow (and I had a rough morning so going out in the back yard was about as much modeling as I was up for!)
The vest is made on the same pattern as the Madame Adora circus-themed vest that sold over the Summer. I liked how it turned out well enough that I am planning some more interesting variations in the future. Next up: a steampunk-esque explorer-inspired version.