PenWAG Honors Ping Mathre & Ellie Vogel

Cañada fashion students Ping Mathre and Ellie Vogel are the two recipients of the Peninsula Wearable Arts Guild’s (PenWAG’s) 2017 scholarships for a college and high school student, respectively. Both are pleased and proud as can be about their achievement.

Ping Mathre
Ping describes the application process as showing a portfolio and going to a live interview. “Show us what you’ve got,” she was told by PenWAG representatives. She chose three dresses: one featuring Japanese hand-stitching called sashiko, and two hand-beaded examples. Ping explains that her favorite type of project involves “ornate stuff.”

She is certainly not deterred by a challenge. In fact, PenWAG president Mo Davies notes, “What’s amazing about Ping is if she doesn’t know how to do something, she takes it upon herself to figure it out and just does it! Her beading is amazing, but in the beginning, she didn’t even know they had beading needles.” After breaking a number of beads and becoming frustrated, Ping found out she could make her life easier by acquiring the proper tools.

Ping got her start in sewing when she made a Pirates of the Caribbean costume. When asked whether she made it for Halloween, she explains, “No, I made it to get through calculus.” (Makes sense to me!?) And did it help? “Not so much,” she admits.

After studying psychology and working as a therapist for some time, Ping took just one class at Cañada in the fall of 2015: Flat Pattern. Unexpectedly this single class turned her life on its head, causing her to realize “Must make life change!” She added five more classes to her course load the following semester for a total of six, then took another five last semester. Ping jokingly blames the fashion department head, Ronda Chaney, for her chronically overachieving workload: “Ronda is the world’s biggest enabler,” she laughs.

Ping wore her sashiko dress to the PenWAG meeting during which she and her high school counterpart Ellie showed their work to the membership. When asked if her clothing qualifies as wearable art, Ping says, “It’s what I try to attain.” She describes her goal of a 90% self-made wardrobe. (The remaining 10% is reserved for Lululemon, for which she confesses she has “a weakness.”) Ping admits that she may have over-purged back in October of last year, when she got rid of all of her pants. On the day of our interview, she wears  pair of jeans she made that very day. Although constructed out of sheer necessity, they are perfection in style and fit. Not a surprise if you know Ping.

Ping says she will use her scholarship to help pay tuition and get her sewing machine fixed. (Stitching over a pin recently turned out to be fatal to her steadfast friend.)

Ellie Vogel
Ellie is a graduating senior in high school who plans to attend the fashion programs at either Kent State University in Ohio or the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City. (As of the writing of this post, she was making her final decision!) Whichever school she chooses, Ellie thinks she’d like to focus on knitwear or lingerie. She recently learned about technical design as a profession and thinks she would like to learn more about that role in particular. She is well on her way, according to Mo, who notes that Ellie “has already worked as a technical writer for Paganoonoo Patterns.” She goes on to describe how Ellie wrote the instructions for a pattern that ended up being named after her. “It’s called ‘the Ellie’!”

Ellie has been attending meetings and taking classes with PenWAG for some time. She enthuses that the meetings are “really inspiring” and that she greatly enjoyed a batik dyeing class as well as sashiko stitching.

For the PenWAG scholarship Ellie entered an off-the-shoulder dress with fisheye darts and a dotted Swiss bodysuit underneath, as well as an 1850s-inspired ballgown. She only brought the blouse and corset to the meeting, explaining that the skirt is “too big and heavy.” Why the 1850s? Ellie says she is partial to the styles of that era, especially the “super cinched waists and voluminous skirts.”

Although she’s only been taking fashion classes for the past two years, Ellie began watching Project Runway at age five and was hooked on fashion from then on. She will certainly be missed at Cañada as she launches into her new college life, but she says she may come back sometime in the future. “All of the classes are really beneficial,” she observes.

Ping and Ellie will be given their monetary awards at the PenWAG runway show May 21st. Contact for more information.