Archive for the ‘behind the scenes’ Category

I can’t believe that frock #6 was photographed and almost ready to post…. it’s seems like just the other day that I was trying to decide if making a gown a month was  a crazy idea or not.

It turns out that it was an amazing idea… I have met so many talented and interesting people already. It has been a joy to watch the progression that we have made over the winter… we show up just a little more prepared each photo shoot ;) We still have a list for the next one, but even that has progressed from needle and thread to step ladder for the photographer to get new angles… we have a plan that we work on for weeks ahead of time instead of on the drive to the location… lol. We’ve left some people behind (and the drama that goes with it) and collected a few new talents (wait until you see the makeup!) but the core group is solid. Avrell who has cheerfully agreed to step up to the plate on everything that comes her way… hair, makeup, styling, etc… Louis who has wowed us with his beautiful photographs every single time and who’s roster of growing equipment and handy ‘press tag’ keep raising the bar… Nicole who shows up looking gorgeous and is unflinching in her professionalism… Tenai, the newest talent, who’s attention to detail and passion would make you think that she’s been through a makeup program instead of still waiting to graduate from high school (seriously).

Thank you everyone for being part of this project… it has been a joy and I am so excited to see what unfolds over the next six months!



Read Full Post »

Gown #6 was photographed on the weekend and is now patiently waiting for it’s window premiere in two weeks…

Aside from the window finale that is happening next week… the attention in the workroom now turns to the next photo shoot in 4 weeks. This is going to be a change for the project in a couple of ways… it won’t be a monthly frock and it’s going to involve 5 models instead of 1. The talent is already busy planning out all the details… which leads me to todays post…

Small town frocks is looking for accessories and props from Kootenay artisans and businesses to showcase and use in the next photo shoot.

The main focus of this grouping is going to be corsets. We are in the process of booking a historic setting in Kaslo and the main theme is a ‘tea party’ which depending on weather could turn into a croquet match ;) We have had really positive feedback from other businesses that we’ve worked with in the past. Every item is listed with a link in the details page and an editorial post is also a potential if we are really pleased with your work or product :)

So what are we looking for:

~masks, stockings, legwarmers, armwarmers, cakes, pastries, a local tea would be amazing, organic flowers, jewellry, shoes, dishes, hats, fans, etc… This can be new or reLoved… this is just a brief list off the top of my head… I am open to all sorts of ideas and will style the shoot according to what amazing things we have to use… send me photos and info.Lara Blackman, Dressmaker

Read Full Post »

Kootenay women really know how to celebrate Spring and Summer because alas, winter always returns; we know it so well. So…our first instinct when the snow actually starts to melt is to get ourselves a Spring frock. International Women’s Day is March 8th; a perfect time to splurge on something gorgeous and locally made.

Loosening the layers and showing some skin allows the warm sun and air to caress our figure, and the flirtation with Spring begins! Here is our Ms H, looking relaxed,  in the back garden amongst the hops and flower beds in about 1933. Her sleeveless fitted frock and choker of baubles looks so fresh with the signature cropped hair of the 30s,  which is now all the rage in Nelson!

Although Kootenay women are known to swim year round in Kootenay Lake, those glacial waters are never for the faint of heart!  Even if you don’t take the plunge you can still soak up the sunshine and the mountain air. Here are some swimming beauties from a 1934 newspaper that my partner fished from the inside one of the walls of our Kaslo house.

Once the temperature rises so do the hemlines, or lack-there-of, in the case of a more sultry Spring style of short-shorts . I’m sure the brothels of Kaslo produced some fantastic clothing for their ladies in their time. Kaslo had many brothels, hotels and saloons, including the “Theatre Comique,” which boasted 3 floors and a revolving stage. Imagine the performances that must have went on in Kaslo! My, my…!

The pin-up girl and Burlesque styles of costume have been influencing my eyelash and accessory design lately, and my hoop dance routine, which now has a chair, (a-la Cabaret!) added in. This style of performing can be very classy and I think women are living in the best era for creative expression because we can be any color, shape or size and the only rule is…anything goes! Rules?! What rules? I’ve been teaching sexy hoop moves to women in their 50’s and 60’s in North Kootenay Lake, and they’re the ones that swim year round, come to think of it.

This project with small town designers and talent is so delicious…. Lara is working on a fresh crop of corsets for another fantastic  photo shoot with her crew, coming soon. I’ve never worn anything so sexy and I’m so excited to have something made just for me! It will be a first!  Burlesque hooping, anyone?

Happy Women’s Day and Happy Spring!

Read Full Post »

Despite the fact that it snowed about 6″ the last couple of days, I am feeling like Spring! It could be working on the March frock which is all sorts of warm weather fun, or it could just be that the Equinox is less than three weeks away… HOORAY!!


Yet again, I am scrambling to find a location for the photo shoot… the one I was going to use has since become unavailable. argh. However, it has made me stretch my creativity a bit… so instead of relying on location which is going to be simplified to somewhere with a nice texture in the background (think brick or weathered wood or possibly snow…) now it’s all about the props.


Read Full Post »

With all this bridal bliss happening here with Lara’s projects, my location scouting flooded naturally from fashion shoots into magical places for weddings around Kaslo. The first love birds to occupy our house were this business man and his striking Scottish bride, Ms H’s mother and father. They arrived and built the house in 1897. This photo was taken in Nelson, BC, and might have been taken freshly post wedding with their little matching corsages.  The husband had hotels and businesses in the nearby city of Sandon, a booming mining headquarters high up in the Retallack Pass, and his wife began raising the children in the Kaslo house, which I now live and design out of.

The roles of men and women were much more defined in those days, although women’s clothing was beginning to take on a more suit-tailored, masculine edge combined with very feminine details on puffy sleeves and cuffs . Here they are, looking ready for departure into their lives as newly-weds, moving to a brand new town called Kaslo on the windy shores of Kootenay Lake, where wool was an excellent choice for travel clothing .

For  brides who are looking for a naturally stunning and picturesque spot to hold an outdoor wedding ceremony, there are many options in and around the Village of Kaslo that offer softly lapping waves, soaring peaks and rolling forests and a more pristine feeling, ( the area was well known for its incredible rainbows over Kootenay Lake,) and yes, the wind could be a major element factoring into your wedding day and photos. I witnessed friends of mine getting married in the more sheltered Kaslo Bay Park with the groom arriving by canoe from across the water and the bride dreamily walking out onto the beach from the woods surrounding the park. The big trees gathered the breezes off the lake and shaded the guests on that hot and sunny summer day.

The view of the brightly colored boathouses against the lake and mountains is stunning year round and there are wild flowers and beautiful gardens everywhere around the village. The Kaslo Golf Club is another excellent wedding/reception spot its ample timberframe clubhouse and dining room with lovely covered decks and large trees around the course. I’ll have to investigate the golf course along with the Kaslo Hotel!

Oh my…apparently I have been swept away by the beauty of my own small town, Kaslo, again! It’s a special place and I can feel some romance in the air and some amazing photos on their way this season. I’m excited to see how hoops, eyelashes, brides and frocks will all come into play as this fashion friendship continues with the two of us mailing little swatches of lace and dyed feathers up and down the lake to each other, just like in the old days. :)

Read Full Post »

I am by no means an expert on dyeing fabric… but one colour on cotton canvas I can manage.

I have done some really rustic dyeing… fibre reactive dye using melted snow in really small batches. I love putting the natural fabric into the dye bath and pulling out COLOUR… it is so rewarding. I have come a long way since I first experimented with dyeing on the moutain. I have had mixed luck with natural dyes that I’ve cooked up myself… some really amazing colours and several shades of ‘dirt’. I do love the fibre reactive and acid dyes… the colours are intense and amazing and easy to control.

It’s almost impossible to achieve that sort of control with the naturals… I do have a bag of indigo that I am looking forward to working with, but for the time frame and narrow margin for error I’m saving that particular project to do for its own sake. Meanwhile I have several shades of blue to choose from for the backdrop… alpine blue or sky blue being the top picks… and since I’m going for sky… sky blue it is.

So here’s what I did…

1~ Fill the washer with warm water, while the machine is filling I soak the fabric in the tub so that it is wet when it goes in and the dye can disperse more evenly. When the washer is full I add 2kg of table salt and let it dissolve and then let the machine agitate for a few moments. This is a lot less salt then is suggested but I am reluctant to add more than that to my septic system and so far it has been effective so I haven’t seen the need to increase the salt. Next I mix up the dye.  Start slowly by making a paste and fulling wetting the powder and then add water a little bit at a time to ensure that the dye is completely dissolved. This is then added to the water in the washing machine. Let the machine agitate for a couple of minutes. The dye bath is now ready.

2~ Add the wet fabric to the dye bath ensuring that the fabric is loose and able to fully submerge in the dye bath. Now it’s time to keep it moving… let the machine agitate for about a half an hour. I set the timer on the stove so that I don’t forget to restart the agitation over again otherwise the dye bath drains out and the colour is not as intense as if it soaked longer. The constant motion of the washer helps the colour dye evenly.

3~ After the dye has had a chance to penetrate the fabric thoroughly and as intensely as I like, I add the Soda Ash Fixer. I use about a cup and a half, which is again less than suggested.  Dissolve Soda Ash in some hot water and add slowly over 15 minutes to dye bath, while stirring. Don’t pour directly onto the fabric. Stir frequently – 30 mins. for light colours, 1 hr for deep colours. Keep in mind that the end colour will not be as intense as it looks wet and in the dye bath, so go a little deeper than you want the end product.

4~ Rinse out excess dye using cold water. Cold rinses out the soda ash without reactivating it.

5~ I always put it through a regular wash at the end. Et voila!

There is a bit of marbling on the piece I did as there was 5yds of 96″wide and I didn’t keep a close eye on it agitating so it was quite twisted at one point. However, it makes it look a bit more ‘sky’ like so I’m happy with the results.

I source mainly with Dharma Trading Co. out of California. Their prices are amazing, and the custom service and selection is second to none. I have ordered thousands of yards of fabric from them over the last decade and I have never had anything but complete satisfaction. They also provide excellent instructions for using all of their products as well as having an amazing gallery of projects that their customers have created, it always inspires me to try new things and stretch my imagination :)

Read Full Post »

I first met Louis when I arrived at the first photo shoot for this project. I had spoken to him on the phone a couple of times prior where we discussed location and lighting. He seemed every bit the local; easy going and not to worried about it…  I have not been disappointed in his work. He has a keen eye and a fresh perspective.

Louis Bockner is a photographer on the rise… he has recently relocated to Nelson, BC from Argenta, BC and this is the time to book him for any work you need done because soon we will all have to book WAY ahead. His portfolio is diverse and ever growing, from product shots to working with models Louis brings his enthusiasm and love of beauty to the table. My personal favourites are the photos which truly show off his ability to capture light, which is really what photography is all about. The spinning hoops and poi leave me mesmerized.

I think the pictures speak for themselves

Louis is a joy to work with. Calm, patient, and respectful… I could go on and on but I think that if you need some photo work done you should contact him and find out for yourself

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »