Monday, August 30, 2010

Autumn and Winter Designs 2010

Over the last weekend, I had some free time, and I already had make up on, so I thought I might as well take some photos of my most recent Autumn/Winter designs. I had been dying to get some decent photos, and I am quite pleased with these images below...

The Black Latin Bolero, available in US sizes 4, 6 and 8 or AU sizes 8, 10 and 12. You can take a look at the making of the Black Latin Bolero on the blog here.

The Black Rose Jade Dress, made from a stretchy rayon elastane knit, in a very bright Jade greeny-blue colour. This is available in US sizes 4 to 12 (or AU sizes 8 to 16). I hand applique black lace around the neck and shoulder, as this brings the eye up to that area and frames your face. I LOVE this colour!

The Liberty Flowers Wool Bolero
... such a gorgeous fabric! Take a look at the details of the Liberty fabric on the blog here.

The Liberty Flowers Wool Bolero Jacket is available in US size 8 and 10 or AU size 12 and 14. I only had enough fabric to make 3 copies of this, and the US size 6 is already sold.

The White Rose Navy Blue Dress is perfect for an occasion or to wear for "just because". I like the idea of the Navy Blue being a bit different to black. Everyone sells black dresses, but not too many sell Navy Blue, so this is perfect for me. It really is an elegant and feminine style, while not being too "over-the-top".

This is available in US sizes 4 to 12 or AU sizes 8 to 16.

All of these styles above have been handmade by myself, and are available in the Penelope Red Etsy Shop Online.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Creating "The Red Hour" New Summer Collection Part 2

Last week, I mentioned my new summer collection, "The Red Hour" and a few photos showing the creative process. So here is Part 2 of that...

Above and below, creating the mini skirt...

Above: cutting out the flared pants, from a gorgeous bright red rayon!

Above: sewing the red polka dot satin fabric- this is to make a really cute top!

And altering the pattern for the flared pants.

Today I am creating the new catsuit style, and the fabric for this is going to be amazing! This will be a design that will stand out!

Meanwhile, take a look at some of my other designs in the Penelope Red etsy shop:

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Handmade Accessories and Organisers by Melissa Tan

Around 2 months ago, I met Melissa Tan at The Rocks Markets. She was selling her handmade organisers and accessories next to my market stall. It was nice to meet another person creating everything herself, and she told me that she used off cuts of designer fabrics and vintage finds...A little bell went off in my head...I had been looking for someone to take my off cuts of fabrics, as I think it is important to help the environment wherever possible- so it was fate that we met!

Take a look at my notes on things I am doing to try and minimise the Penelope Red waste!

Melissa’s designs are unique, and her quality is very good. I bought a bag organiser for a friend’s birthday, and my friend LOVED it! I thought you might like to read a little about Melissa’s work:

1. Where/when/how did you come up with the idea of those nifty little bag organisers?

For some time now, the large, oversized bag has been very fashionable. I noticed large bags never had compartments, or maybe just a little zip pocket for your phone. Women were endlessly digging in their bags in search for that ringing mobile phone etc.

I did a search online; products were available but they were just big pouches and looked ugly. Nothing seemed quite right, so I decided to design my own! This way, I could combine all the ideas I had seen with my own to create the best possible design.

The design needed to be simple and practical; hold numerous items; organised so items are easy to see and grab; adjustable so that it would fit every woman's handbag and made from vintage, recycled and reclaimed materials.

2. Why did you decide to use recycled and vintage fabrics in your designs?

I like the concept of transformation and the idea of turning nothing into something...Having worked in the Sydney fashion industry for many years, I noticed that the fashion industry is guilty of creating a lot of waste. When creating my own label and designs I wanted to do something different!

In today's society I think every Designer should be thinking about how to substitute consumption with innovation. To counteract the over consumption of materials and excessive waste created by the fashion industry I decided I would focus on using recycled materials as much as possible. This could be vintage, recycled or reclaimed fabrics, anything found in a 2nd hand shop, off cuts from clothing manufacturers and local designers, such as from Penelope Red.

By using recycled and vintage fabrics I try to create accessories by transforming something "old" or materials that are considered "waste" into something new, fun, useful and fashionable. Another bonus from using vintage fabrics; each piece is one of a kind, they cannot be mass-produced.

3. Do you create custom orders?

Yes, definitely. I love that someone might see their own idea in my ideas and designs.
Using vintage and recycled fabrics does create limits though due to their small quantities, but I always seem to somehow work around this. I am always happy to help someone out by creating one of my designs in a recycled fabric bought to me.

4. What are your plans for the future in your business?

I like to think the concept of my brand is helping to educate people about recycling. Recycling doesn't need to be "crafty" or "hippy", and recycling can be fashionable.

I want my accessories to compete with mass produced products. I want everyone to see the value in something that has been made in their own city or country, when it is handmade with lots of love and care. Hopefully they will think twice about buying something cheaply mass-produced.

I hope my business will grow to reach more people and eventually I hope to sell my accessories to boutiques all over Australia, to promote local production and recycling and hopefully inspire others.

Some of her latest designs have been made from Penelope Red off cuts, such as:
Denim Stripe Folded Wallet and the Black Brushstroke Mini Bag Organizer. There will be more to follow.

Find Melissa at the following:
If you are in Sydney, Melissa is often selling her accessories at the Rocks Markets.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Penelope Red at The Rocks Market: 4th & 5th September 2010

I will be trading at The Rocks Markets, this coming weekend, the 4th and 5th of September, 2010. I will be showing off my latest Penelope Red designs, including the Aqua Wrap Around Halter Top, and other new designs from my Spring and Summer Collections!

I will be there form 10am to 5pm. My location will be announced on the Penelope Red facebook page, closer to the weekend.

Teena's Black and Cream Nouveau Bolero

I created a one-of-a-kind bolero for a lovely customer, Teena, last week. Teena had seen Helen's bolero on my blog, and asked me to create a bright coloured bolero for her, which is similar.

When I was searching for suitable fabrics, I found quite a few brightly coloured cottons, which would have been great for this design, but then this black and cream fabric jumped out at me for some reason.

I had already previously created a black, red and white coat for Teena, and I knew that she loved the graphic contrasting of those colours, so I thought, even though she wanted bright colours, she may still appreciate this print.

Evidently I went with my instinct, and Teena loved it, so here we are!

Teena's feedback was sent to me yesterday:

"I have received the bolero and once again I am very pleased with it. It is a perfect fit and makes me feel good wearing it.", Teena in Perth.

This bolero jacket has been handmade from a 100% cotton print, fused on the inside, and fully lined with polyester lining.

I thought I was pretty darn clever matching up the centre front so well! - look above, yes, that is an opening between those two halves.

I have a box full of old vintage buttons, collected by my Aunt (who is 80) and my Mum. They are buttons from my Aunt's Mum and Mother in law, and my Grandmother. I included two black buttons from this stash on the front of Teena's bolero.

A close-up of the front of The Black and Cream Nouveau Bolero, above.

This bolero has 3/4 sleeves, and the centre front meets edge to edge. It is a loose fit. If you are interested in this style, I have more bolero styles similar to this available in the Penelope Red Etsy Shop, where you can buy online.

They include The Venus Bolero

and The Gothic Coffee Bolero.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Penelope Red Featured in Northside Magazine Tues 10th Aug 2010

I am very proud to announce that Penelope Red designs was featured in the Northside Magazine, 10th August 2010 edition. A digital image from the magazine is above.

The designs featured in this edition, were the Autumn Flowers Blouse...

...and the Venus Floral Bolero.

Feedback for The Penelope Red Silver Floral Corset Dress

A lovely customer (Leticia) from Pennsylvania, in the USA, asked me to create a Silver Floral Corset Dress so she could wear it to her daughter's wedding.

I am hoping to receive photos from Leticia soon, from the day. For now, I have attached a few images of me wearing a copy of the dress.

Leticia made my day today, as she wrote some wonderful feedback to me:


I have to tell you that my daughter's wedding was the most wonderful night of my life. We celebrated the event in a big way and the memories are wonderful.

I have to thank you for the dress. I told you it made me feel like dancing when I tried it on...and did we dance! I cannot say enough about the craftsmanship of the dress. It was impeccable! Not only did it fit well, but it was the most comfortable item of clothing I have ever worn! If anyone is thinking about getting this dress, they should not hesitate! I did, but am more than glad that I had it made!

I paired it with some pewter shoes, and at the church, a pewter scarf (my daughter wanted my shoulders covered) and received so very many compliments on the dress! Thank you for making the night so special!! I will remember you if I need another special dress!"


It makes me so happy to read about other people having unforgettable moments while wearing my designs!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Photos from Aroma Festival 2010

Although these photos are a little late, I thought I would share with you my day at The Aroma Festival 2010, at The Rocks Markets.

The weather was beautiful, the Sydney backdrop was stunning, and the food and entertainment great. A really fun day out in the city.

I probably stuck out like a sore thumb in my Penelope Red Black Rose Red Dress against everyone else wearing the usual jeans, but I try to tell people, jeans are not comfortable, but yet people insist on wearing them to every lace they go.

I love my red dress, it is so comfortable, elegant, and easy to wear! Besides, I don't want to look like everyone else anyway!

I am a big tea drinker- don't really like coffee, so we had fun trying the different tea varieties, buying some chilli sauces, and I had an amazing cupcake! I love my sweets!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Creating "The Red Hour" New Summer Collection

Finally my computer is working!!!! I have not been able to add any new blog postings for 2 weeks now, and I am starting to get withdrawal symptoms. So here I am, back again, and ready to add more and more new posts!

So without further ado, I wanted to show to you the beginnings of my new Penelope Red Summer range, "The Red Hour Collection".

It is called "the RED hour" instead of "the cocktail hour". I began designing this collection by starting off thinking: "what would I love to wear to a cocktail bar or party?"

Then I visited my textile agent, and she had these amazing fabrics! So the ideas just flowed...

The above design is my new Aqua Summer Wrap Around Halter Neck Top. Such a great style, which never dates, paired together with a stunning print- I have a feeling this will sell fast!

The photo above and below is of another cotton print, but you are actually seeing four colourways/swatches of it (2 in each photo). I have so far bought the green/aqua/yellow combination (the top swatch in the photo below), and now, each time I look at these photos I am tempted to buy another, but I am not sure which one... Any suggestions?

From the aqua print fabric, I am also making some flared pants from it. Anyone who knows my style well, knows I love my colourful flared pants!

This next print will be made into a gathered neck blouse, such as the Black and White Nouveau Blouse. This style shape has been very popular in the past 6 months, and as soon as I spotted this fabric, it just screamed Penelope Red!

There will be plenty of other handmade Penelope Red styles to come, and sneak peeks to view. I am hoping to have all the designs made up in the next week, ready for a brilliant photo shoot.

Some of my current styles available to purchase can be found in the Penelope Red etsy shop here:

Friday, August 6, 2010

Teena's Black, Red and White Winter Tailored Coat: A one- of a kind design!

A few weeks ago, I received an order for one of my Winter Tailored Coat's. I met Teena at The Rocks Markets, where I took her measurements, then we discussed colours. We agreed on a palette of black and red with a hint of white. Since Teena lived in Perth, and I lived in Sydney, the fabric samples to were posted to Teena, and once approved, the coat became a reality!

The photos below show some of the steps taken to create this beautiful hand made, one of a kind coat...

Cutting out the Red silk lining

Cutting out the black wool

Sewing the black wool pieces together (above), and sewing the red wool and cotton interlining together. I add interlining to all of my coats to give it extra warmth and durability.

I decided to add white/ivory piping to the design, as it really made the red and black contrast and stand out even further. It gave the colours a dramatic edge and oomph! I made the piping from some cotton roping and ivory silk, cut on the bias.

As you can see above, the piping really makes the red and black stand out! I like it how it also makes a very graphic and almost pop art look to the coat. This is a photo of the sleeve.

Below, the inside of the coat, where the side pocket sits.

Above, the finished side seam- including the pocket.

Sewing the white piping to the red wool, before it is attached to the black wool.

Above and below, creating red piping for the button holes. I decided to use red piping in this case, as the buttons are already black and white, and I thought if I used white piping, there would be too much white in that area, and the buttons would not stand out enough.

Creating the welt button holes. I always make big stitching lines to guide me, then I sew in place the piping. Just to create this part of the button holes takes me around 90 minutes for about 5 button holes- then I still need to hand stitch the seam allowance of the piping down, and finish off the under side of the button holes. A very time consuming exercise, but the finished product is well worth it!

Sewing the interfacing to the bottom of the red wool- this is for the hem, and it makes it sit nicely every time you wear it!

I apply the fur collar to the lining, so I need to hand stitch the collar seam allowance down, otherwise it will not sit flat.

A little extra added detail: I decorated the lining with white embroidery!

And the finished product!....

And a few lovely comments from the customer:

" The coat has arrived and it is absolutely perfect. It is beautifully made and your attention to detail is amazing. I really am thrilled with it. " from Teena in Perth

I am very happy with the finish of this coat- it was very hard sending it off- as I really wanted to keep it for myself!.... Luckily, it wasn't made to fit me!