The final look for my mini RAWards collection was actually the second look I dreamed up, hot on the tail of the first look.  I knew I wanted Mary Andrus to model it from the get-go, too.

Initially, I envisioned a brocade bust with an extremely full chiffon skirt.  I even toyed with pockets.


Paired with the tattered lace collar and the (not-gonna-happen) spats, it looked really cute.

I think I design things that I would wear if I were tall and thin.  Because I would so totally wear any of the things in my collection if I were.  Sadly, being of the oompa loompa persuasion, I must live vicariously through my beautiful models.

I decided to make the closure for this dress lace-up to accommodate a closer fit that wouldn’t have to be hiked up every few minutes.  I switched the chiffon idea over to a beautiful black lace with an attached black mini skirt lining.  The back is bustled and the overskirt is longer than the lining.

First fitting:


Mary looked beautiful, OF COURSE.  The top did need to be taken in quite a bit, so there was some deconstruction and re-construction in the dresses immediate future.

Walking the runway:





From the pre-show photo shoot:





Clothing by me:

Hair & Make Up by:  Amanda Bravender  For inquiries :

Model:  Mary Andruss

Photography by:  Underexposed Photography


My post titles are really gripping lately, aren’t they?  I just can’t come up with witty headers for the RAWards looks.  Ah, well.  You’ll have to settle for little wit, but a whole lotta pretty.

The fifth look is another that underwent a rather extensive transformation from sketch to final product.  That had to do with a few things:

1) my falling out of love with the idea of using that grey pinstripe suiting

2) my realization that the original idea for this look was DULL DULL DULL

3) my recent love affair with bustles

So, the (dull) original (dull) sketch was this (SUPREMELY DULL):


The original idea was a brocade bustier, grey suiting mini skirt, ruffle capri leggings, tattered collar & spats.

I realized one day that it was just boring.  It just felt thrown together, no real inspiration.

As I mentioned, my love affair had begun with the bustle, and I knew that I wanted to do a bustle in that gorgeous brocade.  This time, I decided to do an attached underskirt, rather than just the bustle (as shown in the first look).  The brocade made the most gorgeous bustle.




I ended up going with the bustle and a repurposed mens-wear bustier featuring belt loops at the waist, to accommodate a belt if desired.  This fit beautifully from the get-go.  No alterations needed at all.

The final design walking the runway:




And from the pre-show shoot:





I couldn’t be happier with the look–Marielle really brought it to life, and looked gorgeous.

Clothing by me:

Hair & Make Up by:  Amanda Bravender  For inquiries :

Model:  Marielle Songy/NolaChick

Photographer:  Underexposed Photography

Third Time’s a Charm

The third look in the show is the one that under-went the most transformations.  I started with one look, changed to a second (that I was never 100% happy with for this show) and completely re-did the entire look at the last minute.  Literally.  My last fitting for this look was the morning of the show.  I finished it up in the hotel room that we had for the event.  I’m now a proud member of the small group of women who have brought sewing machines to their hotel room.  Booyah!

My initial idea for this look was playing off of the lace idea.  It was to be a lace tunic dress–the very top would be lined, but the dress and skirt portion would be sheer.  Since I don’t send naked ladies down the runway, I made a khaki bustier to go underneath.  All that would be paired with ruffled full length leggings, the spats (in brocade) and a tattered lace ruff:


I somehow managed to not take a picture of this look on the dress form.  I think I deleted it accidentally.  Suffice to say, it was pretty much as you see in the sketch (minus the spats).

At the fitting, it…..well……it looked awful.  The top of the tunic was resting inside the top of the bustier, creating what can only be called a shelf above her bust.  It looked so awful that I didn’t even snap a picture of it on the model.  I had had an inkling that this look wasn’t going to work–and maybe I’d just fallen out of love with it by the time I had the fitting.  Maybe I could have made it work, but I was determined that it wasn’t going to.  Either way, I had brought back-up options.  The bustier was great on her, and I brought a pencil skirt (you saw it in my previous RAW show, actually) to pair with it.  The skirt needed many alterations, but was workable.  Everything looked great on her, but it all kind of looked…..the same color.  Her skin, the bustier, the skirt, the shoes….I wasn’t feeling it.


So, I put this look to the back of the queue and just kept moving forward with the others that I was 100% behind.  I figured something would come to me at some point.  Hopefully.  Or else I was screwed.

So, I completed the other looks, and I stressed and I thought and I changed my mind about a ba-zillion times.  Finally, I decided on doing a dress that was similar to my finale look.  I used a brown suiting with a metallic pinstripe for the top, and a cream lace with the soft moleskin under-lay for the skirt.  The underlay is shorter than the overskirt.  The back is grommeted and laces for a better fit (and a little more “staying up” power than a zipper can offer).  I bustled the back of the skirt a bit, too, for volume.  I couldn’t be happier with the result!

Walking the runway:







And a shot from the pre-show photo shoot:


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The dress suffered some tearing during the show, so, sadly, it won’t be available for purchase.  However, I can make one to measure and in any color desired.  Contact me for details.

Clothing by me:

Hair & Make Up by:  Amanda Bravender
For inquiries :

Model:  Elizabeth Austin

Photography (final image only):  Underexposed Photography

Second Look

Continuing on with my RAWards New Orleans looks, my second look went through a slight transformation from sketch to final design.  After dreaming up my first look, I decided I wanted to play with military-inspired colors (primarily an army greenish-brown), lace and brocade.  I ended up with 3 green/brown & cream looks and 3 red brocade & black/brown looks.  This second look was designed to go along with the first.

My initial sketch included my signature ruffled capri leggings, a lace tunic, spats, & the tattered lace ruff:Image

I’ve already discussed that the spats were the main element to go, due to my inability to make my brain play nice and create a work-able pattern that I liked.

Onto the first incarnation of the design–again, I don’t work in muslins, so I went right for the fabric:


I re-purposed some mens dress-slacks (wool) for the very top of the tunic.  There is an under-lining to the tunic, and I used a really lovely cream moleskin–so soft–that kind of gets lost under the beautiful lace.  I cut this so that I could take full advantage of the scalloped edging on the lace.  The tunic has a zip-back for closure.

At the first fitting I realized that the ruffled leggings just didn’t work–I hated them so much with this that I didn’t even nab a picture with them on.  Plus, hello beautiful legs! (I sound like I have a leg-fetish!)Image

You can see one of the (five or so) incarnations of the spats here.  I love the idea, but I’m glad I opted for sanity and gave them the boot.

The fitting went well–just ditched the leggings and put in the zipper.  Done.

Final design walking the runway:



Above photo by:


And, from the pre-show photo shoot:





The dress will be listed soon in my shop–contact me if you’re interested.

Clothing by me:

Hair & Make up by:  Amanda Bravender
For inquiries :

Model:  Jennifer Culicchia

Final images by:  Underexposed Photography


So, as I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I found myself honored (and shocked) to be in the final 3 fashion designers of the year for RAW New Orleans this year!  Coming as it did during the last of my Halloween rush, it’s all a bit of a blur to this day.  Being a finalist meant putting together a 6-look mini-collection for the awards show, which was on November 14.

I immediately began brainstorming, sketching, imagining.  Most of my ideas seem to come as I’m drifting off to sleep, or as I lie awake in the wee hours (I have a bad habit of waking for 2-3 hours every night).  The first look I imagined came around 3am one night and stuck with me for a few days, so I knew it was going to HAVE to be part of the mini collection.  First up, sketch:


Military-influenced bustier, bustle, spats & a tattered lace collar.  I originally envisioned a pompadour-mohawk for the hair, but later changed my mind since those pompadors are being used entirely too much lately.  The spats ended up taking a hike, too, as I just couldn’t get the pattern quite right and needed to streamline things a bit (mainly for my own sanity).

I don’t generally make mock-ups in muslin.  This is ridiculous, I realize, and can have terrible consequences (hello, wasted fabric!), but, *knock on wood*, I rarely have a problem with my methods.  So, this was the next step:



I was pretty obsessed with that bustle.

The bustier is reclaimed cotton (from mens khakis) with metal buttons and cotton twill trim, lined in cotton twill.  The bustier is cream taffeta.

Since my model has legs for days, I decided to go with no skirt under the bustle–it opens at each side as she walks, so I did, for modesty’s sake, make a pair of ruffled boy-shorts to be worn underneath.

First fitting went extremely well, with no real alterations needed:



(excuse the lighting–it was dark outside and my studio photographed rather yellow–photo editing washed it out too much, so I stuck with the yellow)

Onto the show!  This was my opener for the show:







I told my models to have fun with this show–why take fashion too seriously?  The music was a remix of “In the Mood” and was perfect.

I was lucky enough to have Underexposed Photography do a mini shoot pre-show, as well:


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Hot, right?

Clothing by me,

Hair & Make up by:  Amanda Bravender
For inquiries :

Model:  Amber Carollo  (

Photography by:  Underexposed Photography (

The bustier is already listed for sale in my shop:

I’ll have the bustle up at some point in the future.  If you’re interested in ordering, contact me–remember, I primarily work custom/made to measure, so can make one in your size and color choice.

TnT Tuesday


This slinky number was made specifically for a photo shoot.


I have to admit, it’s a little sexier than I normally go for.

I’m kind of a costume nerdy girl…..more Helena Bonham Carter in regular life than Victoria Beckham.


So, I went back and forth and back and forth and back and forth on the neckline.


I did compromise a wee bit–the original idea was for it to be cut to the navel….


I used the dress in my RAW runway show, too.

And, WOWZA, Mary brought that baby to LIFE.


I recently listed it in the shop.  (yes, it’s been cleaned)


The belt is part of the sale–it’s actually made from a re-purposed leather purse strap.


I hope to make more of these in other colors and fabrics.


One of these days….


You can find the dress here:

Modeled by:

LouAnn Eads

–Mary Andrus

Images featuring LouAnn photographed by:  Gustavo Escanelle


Business has picked way up in the last couple of weeks, and I’ve been sewing my fingers to the bone (when I’m not working the part time job, getting the Spring garden up and running, cooking yummy meals, sleeping, or explaining to the kitties I just can’t play right now).

Just popped in to share these two glorious images from my recent runway show.  Chip Kennedy is the photographer.

Here is Mary Andrus:


And here is NancyJane:


I’m in love!



The show is over?  It’s come and gone?  But…..but what do I do NOW?


Seriously, I keep falling back on the same thought I’ve had for the past 2 months:  “Okay, so what do I need to do for the show today?”.  Then I realize:  nothing, there’s nothing to do for the show anymore!


It went so amazingly well–I had a blast, and the models, hair, make up and photographer were all just the most fabulous people to work with.  I couldn’t be happier with the end result.


To see a (somewhat blurry) video of the runway, check out my business facebook page:  I’ll hopefully have something with better quality visuals soon–but this gives you the general idea.


I’ll be getting better images soon, too.

For now, I’m back in the saddle, taking custom orders and setting up a few photo shoots.

Working on a Steampunk Carmen Sandiego costume right now–how cool is my life?  The customer saw this skirt, and we’re building from there.



As the show gets closer I find myself getting a bit more hesitant to share TOO much about what I’ll be showing.  However, I had a couple more fittings yesterday, and I have to show you Archana–she’s wearing a really boho kind of look, and I just cannot get over how good she looks in it.


Black and White

I realized yesterday that my collection for the upcoming RAW show is mainly blacks, whites & muted colors.


“How did you just realize that yesterday??” you may well ask.  Yes, yes.  Very good question.


All I can figure is that I’ve been so focused on creating, finding models, sewing runway looks, making time to sew as much as possible to sell at the event, finding music, hair inspiration, make up inspiration, and trying to not short change my spouse, that I kind of…..didn’t notice that I have been tending to lean towards black and white, especially.


So, I’m thinking on how to add a couple looks with color now.


Maybe the geisha inspired look will make an appearance….