Cañada College Fashion Department https://fashion.canadacollege.edu Educating students and others about the ever-changing world of fashion design and merchandising. Thu, 23 May 2019 03:27:33 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.2.1 135513584 New Beginnings https://fashion.canadacollege.edu/2019/05/new-beginnings/ https://fashion.canadacollege.edu/2019/05/new-beginnings/#respond Thu, 23 May 2019 14:29:46 +0000 https://fashion.canadacollege.edu/?p=7858 Earlier this week 27 students from our Beginning Construction class showed their final projects to one another and to instructor Kathleen Lorist. Each student made a t-shirt, a pair of pajama pants and a vest. After that they could make whatever “lab garment” they chose. Once again we were so impressed by their work and their presentations! These pics will give you a taste of their creativity and enthusiasm. Look for more on our social media.

We are so proud of you all! What class are you inspired to take next? Let us know in the comments, or share your favorite beginning sewing memory.

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Laura Tran Takes Her Passion Online https://fashion.canadacollege.edu/2019/05/laura-tran-takes-her-passion-online/ https://fashion.canadacollege.edu/2019/05/laura-tran-takes-her-passion-online/#comments Fri, 17 May 2019 14:29:02 +0000 https://fashion.canadacollege.edu/?p=7820 Laura Tran just started taking fashion courses at Cañada, but she’s already making her mark in and outside of class. We asked Laura more about her and her business. Here’s what she had to say.

Cañada fashion department (CFD): Tell us a little about your background.

Laura Tran (LT): I’m a Bay Area local, born and raised in San Jose. Most recently I was working as an IT project manager at Apple.

CFD: Tell us about your new store.

LT: The Maker’s Fabric offers a curated selection of well-made and sustainably produced apparel fabrics with a focus on natural fibers. Softness and comfort are a huge priority for me. I make sure to touch each and every fabric before purchasing to ensure that it will feel good against the skin.

Right now we have a variety of silks, linens, cottons and professional threads. We have quite a few wools and wool blends coming soon too!

A linen jersey knit available through Laura’s online store.
This waxed cotton, available through The Maker’s Fabric, is water-resistant.

CFD: What prompted you to start an online fabric store?

LT: I started sewing about a year ago and noticed that it was really hard to find apparel fabric in the South Bay. The local brick and mortars carry mainly polyester, and the local sewing shops carry almost entirely quilting cotton. The closest fabric stores with a bigger selection of apparel fabrics are an hour’s drive away. At first I wanted to open a brick and mortar because I think there’s definitely a demand for it here. But after a lot of thought, I decided to start with an online store to work through the challenges of starting a business.

CFD: What have some of the challenges been getting your shop off the ground?

LT: Knowing where to start was definitely a challenge. My work experience is in IT and corporate supply chains, so I had no idea where to begin sourcing textiles or who to even talk to in order to find out!

CFD: How did you overcome these challenges?

LT: I remembered that many different industries have specialized trade shows where businesses can go to discover new products or learn about new technologies. I started searching for popular textile trade shows in California and signed up for the next one I could attend. It was really overwhelming at first, but I just started talking to suppliers … and asking questions.

CFD: Do you think you’ll eventually open a brick and mortar store, or do you plan to sell online only?

LT: I would LOVE to open a brick and mortar! My dream is to provide not just fabrics but a comfortable sewing room with a little café so folks could have a warm and inviting environment to sew and make more sewing friends.

CFD: How did you get connected to Cañada fashion department?

LT: A friend shared her positive experience with taking classes here.

CFD: What courses are you taking?

LT: FASH 118 [Beginning Flat Pattern] and FASH 173 [Lingerie].

CFD: What do you hope to learn, and do you plan to earn a fashion certificate?

LT: This is my first semester at Cañada College, so I’m still figuring things out. I chose flat pattern as my first class because I have been mystified ever since I started sewing by how a 3D garment can be flattened into its 2D representation on paper. I’m hoping to get better at modifying existing patterns so I can sew better-fitting garments for my shop samples and myself.

CFD: Anything else you want to share with our readers?

LT: Please visit our shop and have a look around. We’re offering Cañada College fashion students 25% off their entire order until the end of July with promo code FASH118.

For those who are hesitant to purchase fabrics online, Laura can provide swatches.


NOTE: Cañada College does not endorse any particular brand or product. The content of this blog is made available for educational purposes only.

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Spring Contest: Which Design Was Your Favorite? https://fashion.canadacollege.edu/2019/05/spring-contest-which-design-was-your-favorite/ https://fashion.canadacollege.edu/2019/05/spring-contest-which-design-was-your-favorite/#comments Fri, 10 May 2019 14:29:45 +0000 https://fashion.canadacollege.edu/?p=7792 Big smiles and animated conversation abounded last week at Cañada fashion department’s annual celebration tea. Students, friends and family all gathered to honor the students who completed certificates and degrees this spring, as well as those who were awarded scholarships. Most anticipated, however, was the news of this year’s design contest winners. A total of 31 students entered this year’s challenge, so competition was stiff!

As always it was a packed house at this year’s spring tea.

The theme was the 1950s and 60s, and each contestant had a different interpretation of those striking eras in fashion. One student created a youthful and classic poodle skirt look, complete with neckerchief and “L” monogram. (If you know what the letter stands for, you are of a certain age, she noted.) Others headed more in the bombshell direction, making sexier looks similar to those worn by stars like Jayne Mansfield and Marilyn Monroe. The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel series inspired another student designer. The coordinated fabrics were provided by an anonymous donor, which helped the looks complement one another, forming what almost looked like a spring collection suitable for Paris Fashion Week.

Some contestants used self-drafted patterns, others store-bought. A few broke out oldie-but-goodie patterns from their vintage collections. Techniques ranged from using the wrong side of fabrics to cutting them into strips and weaving them. One took a faux fur scarf she purchased at Target and turned it into cuffs for her Maria Callas-inspired gown.

All 31 entries impressed this year’s pool of judges—made up of faculty, staff, board members and others from in and outside the department. However, only four finalists could be chosen. After much drum-rolling and giddy anticipation, Ronda and Peggy announced the winners. They were:

Fourth Place: Chelsie Gho

Chelsie used her fabric creatively, adding layer upon layer to create this classic 1950s silhouette.

Third Place: Linda Imlay

Linda employed a technique traditionally used by quilters to create this intricate pattern. This “cascade” (a scaled-down train) alone took Linda roughly two weeks to complete.

Second Place: Johanna Jay

Johanna loved this Pierre Cardin design from the 1960s but had no idea how to approach the pattern-making. Then it dawned on her: the lower part of the dress was constructed by repeating the simple pattern piece shown here.

First Place: William “Billy” Lash

Billy proudly struck a pose with his winning creation. Even the petticoats were dramatic, and the back of the jacket was intricately laced. Billy thought of every detail. After all what 1950s look would be complete without a string of pearls?

Although some admitted being hesitant at first to take part in the competition, all were glad they competed and were proud of their accomplishments. One student declared, “I’m so glad I entered. It gave me so much more confidence in my skills!”

To say this year’s contest entries were good, great, or even fantastic would be an understatement. Our students’ work this year was absolutely superb! We are proud of each and every one of you!

Campus Public Safety officer Zorie Gomez missed the tea last year but heard great things about it. She recalls her grandmother sewing and has a special appreciation for well-constructed, beautiful garments. She was determined not to miss the contest this year!

What do you think about this year’s contest entries? Do you have a favorite? Please share in the comments.

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FabMarvelous FabMo! https://fashion.canadacollege.edu/2019/04/fabmarvelous-fabmo/ Fri, 26 Apr 2019 14:30:29 +0000 https://fashion.canadacollege.edu/?p=7773 If you love fabrics, a day spent at textile rescue organization FabMo is a day you won’t soon forget. Check out their Special Sale this Saturday, April 27 beginning at 9AM sharp! Find more information about the event here.

FabMo is located in a light industrial area in Mountain View, just off of 101. When you see this sign, stop! You’ve arrived.
Arrive early and be prepared to wait a little while, but not to worry—there’s lots of fun stuff to look at while in line.
Smaller fabric swatches like these are often free! They make great patches and are very popular with quilters.
People have different reasons for coming to FabMo. Some are crafters, others professional artists or teachers.
Founders Jonathan and Hannah Cranch show us some of the treasures they’ve retrieved from the design district in San Francisco and elsewhere in the Bay Area. This dynamic duo started FabMo over 20 years ago, and they’re still going strong!
The textiles you’ll find at FabMo run the gamut—from gorgeous silk brocades and nubby linen drapery fabrics to durable synthetic blends suitable for upholstery. The inventory varies depending on what the local design showrooms happen to be discarding.
Hanna shows a tote bag one volunteer made out of some of the 8×8″ square swatches FabMo commonly gets.
FabMo also has wallpaper, tile and carpet samples—not to mention buttons and other notions. Make sure you reserve plenty of time to browse and imagine the possibilities!

For more information about FabMo click here. Note that some events require an appointment.

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From Cañada Student to International Entrepreneur! https://fashion.canadacollege.edu/2019/04/from-canada-student-to-international-entrepreneur/ https://fashion.canadacollege.edu/2019/04/from-canada-student-to-international-entrepreneur/#comments Fri, 19 Apr 2019 15:07:18 +0000 https://fashion.canadacollege.edu/?p=7754 Meghana Manjunath is on the fast track to success!

Meghana Manjunath began her coursework at Cañada College just three years ago, and already she has a successful fashion business overseas!

Originally from Bangalore, India, Meghana started taking fashion classes because of a strong interest but lack of skills. “I didn’t know anything about sewing,” she admits. She started with Beginning Construction and Flat Pattern. (“Pattern-making is everything in design,” Meghana observes.) Those two courses, plus Illustration and Textiles, and finally a successful entry in last spring’s student contest, gave her the confidence to try selling some of her designs.

Meghana says she was “so scared” when she first started classes in the fashion department. But, she remembers, “Everyone was so nice!”

Initially Meghana thought she would work at a large fashion house for someone else. At some point during her studies, however, she began to imagine starting her own company, and in no time she had done just that! Last summer Meghana set up an industrial cut and sew shop back in her home country.

She prepared several patterns for production before leaving for India so there would be no delays when she arrived. Once there she purchased all of the necessary equipment, including two industrial sewing machines and an industrial serger. She also hired a team of three: a master tailor, a sewer and a cutter. She also developed relationships with three showrooms—two in Bangalore and one in Chennai. “They said my work was really different,” she recalls.

One of Meghana’s more traditional Lehengas.

Meghana’s designs are based on traditional Indian formal attire with a few Western influences. Many are versions of the three-piece bridal ensemble called a Lehenga, which consists of a long skirt, a cropped top and a shawl. The skirts are very full and, as a result, typically require four to six yards of fabric. In the case of Meghana’s unusual designs, however, a single skirt could take anywhere from 25 to 35 yards!

Meghana is roughly half-way through earning her A.A. degree, with a number of general education requirements still to complete. She hopes to earn two fashion certificates simultaneously:  Custom Dressmaking Small Business and Fashion Merchandising.

Going to school in a new language and starting her own business hasn’t been easy, but Meghana says the support of the faculty and her fellow students has helped a lot. And, she reflects, she has learned from her mistakes. That attitude has served her well so far and will help her reach her next goal of showing in four to five cities in India in the next couple of years.

An example of one of Meghana’s more contemporary, Western-influenced designs. “College girls like to wear this style,” she has noticed.

To see more of Meghana’s work, go to www.imaze.co.in. She notes that items shown there can be purchased in a range of sizes; however, the company only ships within India at this point.

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Tri, Tri Again! https://fashion.canadacollege.edu/2019/04/tri-tri-again/ Fri, 12 Apr 2019 14:29:57 +0000 https://fashion.canadacollege.edu/?p=7729 Septuagenarian student Ruthie Callahan is a master triathlete whose hard work pays off in fashion as well as athletics. We wanted to know more about Ruthie and her many accomplishments.

Cañada Fashion Department (CFD): You’re a very accomplished athlete. Tell us about the triathlons you compete in.

RC: I started at age 49 doing sprint distances: a half-mile swim, 12-13 mile bike, and a 3.2 mile (or 5K) run. I really liked it! In 2004, at age 53, I did my first Olympic distance. As I aged I realized I was getting better and better.

CFD: Wow, that is so fantastic! Did you have a specific goal in mind?

RC: In order to qualify for the national championship, you must do three triathlons within one year. I completed all three last year. On August 11, I’ll be competing against other national candidates in the 70+ age group. The nationals are in Cleveland.

CFD: That’s incredible. Congratulations!

RC: Thanks. I have a whole team behind me that helps me compete. My husband, Roy Vaughn, is my wingman. He’s with me at all the races—at the starting line and the finish line. He doesn’t mind sacrificing a lot of time, typically three hours per day. I also have a wonderful coach: Penni Bengtson, owner of Finish Line Productions in Boulder Creek.

Ruthie crosses the finish line in 2017.

CFD: How did you end up connecting with Cañada College and the fashion department?

RC: I retired in 2015. I wanted to go back to school and take up sewing again. I found Cañada by way of Britex fabric store. Every year I went with my friend at Christmastime [to Union Square] for lunch and shopping. One year I said, “I think I saw a fabric store on the corner!” They were very gracious. I was like, “Oh, my Gosh! This is amazing! Do you have tailors I could learn from?” They told me the best place to go was Cañada College.

CFD: What class did you take first?

RC: I had an opportunity to take the tailoring course with Ronda, but it was only offered in the fall. The challenge with fall courses is they start in August, which is the heart of my racing season. She said come in January and take Fashion 110 [Beginning Clothing Construction]. It brought all my old skills back, and I learned so many new things! Kathleen and Peggy are wonderful and very supportive. And Ronda is so gracious and patient. It’s just a joy to learn with her.

Later I enrolled in Fashion 116, Tailoring. I found the hardest coat to make so I could learn what it takes to make a really fine garment. My goal is to take Flat Pattern and Fitting next. I really want to improve those skills, and it’s very hard to fit on yourself.

CFD: Tell our readers about how you took part in our Artistry in Fashion event last year.

RC: Yes! Last year I modeled for the fashion show. I wore three garments: a skirt, a blouse and a swishy jacket. That was a lot of fun! [Fashion show producer and emcee] Stacey Harris is great! She just pulls it together that morning and it’s like ‘Wow!’”

Ruthie modeling at Artistry in Fashion last fall.

CFD: You were great! And we know you’ll be outstanding at nationals! We’ll be rooting for you!

Ruthie’s background is radio broadcast and advertising. She worked at numerous stations in San Jose stations and later in Santa Cruz. She served as a board member of the Santa Cruz Triathlon Association from 2005 to 2008.

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Student Launches Brand https://fashion.canadacollege.edu/2019/03/student-launches-brand/ Fri, 29 Mar 2019 14:29:49 +0000 https://fashion.canadacollege.edu/?p=7705 The company and its founder are both shrouded in mystery.

A clandestine interview with an anonymous entrepreneur is not how most of our blog posts start out. But this is not a typical student, who wants to be identified only as “Mason” for this article. Here’s what we learned from him.

CFD: You started your brand SPXRVCY a few years ago, right? Tell us about that journey.

M: I was a graphic designer, copying my own stuff onto clothing. I made a couple of mock things, and all my friends kind of jumped on it. Back in high school I started combining [my designs] with hip-hop culture.

CFD: What kinds of things did you make?

M: Mostly shoes. My friends gave me their shoes and had me do something to them. I added markers and sewed things onto the shoe: collages of random words, phrases and coding, different kinds of images. People picked up on it so quick! I realized fashion can be a very heavy influence. .

CFD: Then you started selling other things, right? Did you make them from scratch?

M: No, I would buy blank hoodies and [embellish them] with rhinestones, lace, crystals and stuff. I like to make things a lot crazier than they normally are.

One of Mason’s embellished hoodies.

CFD: Where does the name SPXRVCY come from … and how do you pronounce it?!

M: I was a big conspiracy theorist in high school. “Spiracy” is not an actual word in the dictionary. I thought it was cool, like it was mysterious and powerful.

CFD: How did you end up at Cañada?

M: I took business [courses] for a year and a half. I switched majors to get an A.A. in design & merchandising. Cañada has a fashion department; I started Fall of 2016.

CFD: What did you take when you first started?

M: I started with Beginning Construction. I thought it was really cool. I was able to learn almost everything about constructing your own clothing … I made track pants, a vest, a shirt and shorts, just modifying the basic patterns. … I liked that there were no books or quizzes; it was all hands-on. I’m a visual person. I can’t listen to lectures all day.

CFD: Did you have to change your set-up for taking fashion classes instead of business?

M: Yeah. I transformed my room. I built a desk, got a sewing machine, needles, thread, … a bunch of stuff. … I put together my office like a work space, a studio.

CFD: You took Illustration, right? Has that helped with designing for SPXRVCY?

M: I can’t paint, but I like graffiti and calligraphy. I took a painting class at Skyline. I would paint the background but draw the detail with finer markers. When I went into fashion, it was almost the same thing.

CFD: What’s next for you and your brand?

M: This is my last semester for the A.A. I just have one more class to take (Visual Merchandising) and it’s an online class. I just turned in my application for my degree.

CFD: Congratulations and keep us posted!

“Mason” recently registered SPXRVCY as an LLC. To learn more about the company and see more designs, go to https://spxrvcy.com/ and follow him on Instagram here.

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Has Pantone’s Color of the Year Panned Out? https://fashion.canadacollege.edu/2019/03/has-pantones-color-of-the-year-panned-out/ Fri, 22 Mar 2019 18:15:27 +0000 https://fashion.canadacollege.edu/?p=7676 CFD looks for shades of “Living Coral”

Pantone Color Institute has been selecting a featured Color of the Year (COY) for 20 years now. Designers of all sorts look to Pantone for guidance as to upcoming lines of clothing, accessories, home furnishings and more. Ultimately, however, it is retailers and shoppers who determine whether the officially declared color is adopted in the real world. Did this year’s COY make it into the retail stores and online channels? Here’s what we found.

This year’s COY is Living Coral (#16-1546), a somewhat darker version of the orangey-pink pastel we’re used to. Pantone describes it this way: “An animating and life-affirming coral hue with a golden undertone that energizes and enlivens with a softer edge.” Some say orange hues in general are energizing and associated with a social, outgoing spirit. If so, this spring will be abuzz with vitality and sparkling conversation!

Coral can be seen this spring at all price points. Here the mid-February edition of Woman’s World magazine features a whole spread about the color and where you can find it.
Target, a lower-price-point retailer, is carrying LOTS of coral this season. Here you can see how the color has been applied in a lighter and darker shade.
Little girls’ clothing is particularly saturated with coral this spring—a refreshing variation from the usual pink. [Photo: Target.com]
A basic tunic can be found in Living Coral (pretty much spot on!) at Macy’s, a mid-price-point retailer. [Photo: Macys.com]
If you think your special guy can carry it off, this $900 number by Kiton is available at Neiman Marcus.
[Photo: NeimanMarcus.com]
If you’ve outfitted your entire family in coral and still have more dough to throw, head over to Neiman Marcus for this faux coral necklace. (The real stuff can no longer be harvested legally. More info here.)
If you’ve got a closet full of coral and still feel the need to surround yourself with more, home goods can also satisfy your pinkish-orange craving. Here are just a few of the coral throw pillows currently being carried by Target. Or, better yet, make your own! [Photo: Target.com]

Have you seeing much coral out there lately? Have you bought anything in coral this season? Please tell us in the comments.

Cañada College does not endorse any particular brand or product. Items are featured here for educational purposes only.

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Student Combines Art & Fashion https://fashion.canadacollege.edu/2019/03/student-combines-art-fashion/ https://fashion.canadacollege.edu/2019/03/student-combines-art-fashion/#comments Fri, 15 Mar 2019 17:28:42 +0000 https://fashion.canadacollege.edu/?p=7649

Artist and educator Charlotte Kruk has been a student in the Cañada fashion department for only a short time, but her enthusiasm and creativity are already being noticed. Charlotte’s background is as a fine artist. She studied sculpture, metalsmithing and jewelry-making at San Jose State University. No fashion or textiles classes were offered, as she recalls—only weaving, which didn’t interest her at the time. After graduation she continued making jewelry and doing her sculpture work. She also began teaching art to high school students, which she continues to do today.

“I kind of came to fashion through the back door,” Charlotte observes. She comes from a long line of seamstresses, including her mother and grandmother. “I always wore homemade things,” she remembers, “and I avoided [sewing] like the plague.” In junior high, she chose wood shop over sewing as her elective.

A necklace designed by Charlotte.

This all changed in 1994 with a package of Now and Later candies. Charlotte remembers that she and her sister were at a camp ground. There were no trash cans nearby, so she collected the wrappers in her hands. After a while she began to imagine sewing them into a sort of textile. “I realized I could make clothes that had social commentary and that it was a kind of recycling,” she recalls. In doing so, Charlotte would be taking sewing out of its usual domestic context and placing it squarely in the realm of art.

Charlotte imagined that her pieces would be shown in museums and galleries. However, people kept asking if she would present her work in fashion shows. At first she resisted but, she explains, “Eventually I realized I needed to go with the opportunities that came my way.”

One of these opportunities came when Charlotte was offered a spot in a photography class in Paris. She decided to bring one of her own sculptures on the trip and photograph it there. Prior to the trip, she researched French history and became very interested in Marie Antoinette. She built a period-appropriate gown out of the packaging for products you need when baking a cake. Besides the more obvious sugar and flour packages, Charlotte even nestled (faux) eggs into her wig!

Charlotte recalls that she wore the special undergarments she had constructed for the ensemble on the Paris subway. Dressed in a pink corset, paniers and bloomers, she gave out Life Savers to fellow riders.

Charlotte in front of the Opera House in Paris, dressed as Marie Antoinette. “Everyone wanted to take photos with me,” she remembers. “I felt like a Disney princess for a moment.”
Everything one would need to bake a cake for the masses—then let them eat it—is contained in this ensemble.

Another interesting event along Charlotte’s timeline occurred in 2001. That year she received a “cease and desist” order from Mars, Inc. about her use of M&Ms packaging. Charlotte recalls that the intimidating communication “had 120 lawyers listed on the letterhead.” As a result, she stopped using the branding … for a while. After talking to other artists and a few attorneys, she began to feel more comfortable using the packaging again. However, the exposure prompted Charlotte to up her game. “I started to feel like if I were to show up in a court of law, [my pieces] had to be so much above and beyond as works of art,” she explains.

This matador costume, made from M&Ms packages, took Charlotte five years to build. She hand-embroidered and beaded each package before assembling them all together. Oh, and she made the beads herself!

As Charlotte’s designs became more involved, she realized she needed to acquire more skills. Charlotte explains: “I came to Cañada because when I try to do something complex and can’t find a pattern that comes close to what I want to do, I think ‘Jeez, there’s got to be some tricks to what I’m trying to do.’” Charlotte teaches during the day, so Cañada’s evening classes work well for her.

“I decided to take Beginning and Advanced Flat Pattern simultaneously. It’s a lot of work,” she notes, “but I’m learning a ton. It’s been really great.”

As to what’s next, Charlotte wants to take more classes in the fashion department. She reflects “It seems like a fun and safe place to explore,” and “It’s nice to be in a community of [sewists].”

“I have collections that I continue adding to. I create at least one new piece per year to show,” she explains.

We can’t wait to see them!

For more information about Charlotte and her work go to http://www.kruktart.com/.

Current & Coming Up:
Display at Simply Smashing in downtown Campbell
April 27th at the New Museum of Los Gatos

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Student’s Life Takes Dramatic Turn … https://fashion.canadacollege.edu/2019/03/students-life-takes-dramatic-turn/ Fri, 08 Mar 2019 18:54:48 +0000 https://fashion.canadacollege.edu/?p=7624 … and she’s loving it!

We sat down with student Nika Cassaro this week to hear about her work on Pocket Opera’s production of Elixir of Love by Gaetano Donizetti.

Cañada Fashion Department (CFD):    Tell me about Elixir of Love.

NC:      The plot’s very simple. Nemorino is in love with Adina. He is poor and uneducated; he has no chance with her. A soldier named Belcore comes to town and starts to court Adina. She’s not interested in him either, but it makes Nemorino nervous. He takes a love potion but it’s actually wine. Hijinks ensue. I don’t want to give too much away, but everyone ends up happily ever after. It’s really very funny.

[See clips from recent performance here.]

CFD:      How has it been working on the show?

NC:      It’s gone really well. The actors were all super nice. [One challenge is the productions are done on] very small stages. We also have the Pocket Philharmonic, a tiny orchestra that plays behind the actors. There is minimal set dressing—just a couple of benches and a few props the actors can interact with. So the music, the performers and the costumes have to carry the whole thing.

The bare-bones sets of Pocket Opera’s shows make the costumes that much more important.

CFD:    How did you get involved with the Pocket Opera?

NC:      A lot of the people who work for Lamplighters [Music Theater] work for Pocket Opera. The Artistic Director of Elixir was also the stage director of Pirates of Penzance. I worked on [Pirates of Penzance] as a summer intern.

CFD:    What are you doing for this show?

NC:      This was my first show as the costumer, by myself. [The artistic director] gave me a lot of flexibility, but he had a very small budget. I’m the only person doing costumes for the whole project. I find costumes, do alterations, backstage wardrobe … everything.

CFD:    What research did you do to guide your costuming choices for the show?

NC:    Belcore’s uniform is really important. I had to figure out what kind he was going to wear. I looked at what wars were fought in those years and went with what was within that time period, which was the Spanish-American War. That meant 1898-1902 was the target I was going for.

The actor playing Belcore is 6’2” … I didn’t find any uniforms to rent [in his size]. I ended up purchasing most of his costume pieces from What Price Glory. [WPG] does military replicas. I found one that was close enough and modified it.

Belcore in his period-appropriate uniform.

I also rented costumes from Lamplighters and [American Conservatory Theater] ACT. I had to go to a lot of different places. I ended up going to ACT five or six times!

CFD:    Do you have to undo the alterations you make to the rented pieces?

NC:      Alterations are par for the course, but you have to do them in a non-destructive way. For example, if you’re taking up a hem, you can’t cut the fabric. This time I used decorative tucks on the outside of a skirt to make it shorter. In another case, I added a strip of fabric at the bottom of a skirt to lengthen it.

CFD:    Is it different working for singers than for non-singing actors?

NC:      Usually they would tell me, like if they didn’t want anything tight around their neck. The lead actor had a shirt that fit fine, but there’s a scene where the girls are tugging on him. [He explained,] “I can’t sing when they’re tugging on my shirt.” A couple of [the actors] wanted me to measure them with their chest expanded.

Nemorino fending off the young women of the village after taking the “love potion.”

CFD:    When did you start taking fashion classes at Cañada?

NC:      In the summer of 2017. I did stuff a little bit backwards. I graduated in 2012 with a BFA from Ringling College of Art & Design in Sarasota Florida with a major in Illustration. I struggled to find work out here and finally decided to volunteer somewhere. I cold-called a bunch of theaters in the area. TheaterWorks got back to me first and were right where I live, so I was super lucky. They were between shows and not very busy. They put me on doing repairs. I worked 11-5, Monday through Friday. Finally they were like, “You’re here every day; do you want to be an intern?”

CFD:    How did you end up taking classes at Cañada?

NC:      I asked [the team at TheaterWorks], “If I want to do this for a living, what do I need to get better at?” They said “more experience with sewing.” Cañada was inexpensive and right nearby. I took two classes in Fall of 2017: Beginning Flat Pattern and Pants Drafting. I’ve been going ever since.

Nika presents her final project in Tailoring last December. “The process of fitting ourselves … was really good practice,” she notes.

CFD:    Do you use your art degree much these days?

NC:      I do actually. Color theory, pattern, contrast, balance are all directly applicable to theater. As far as illustration goes, part of my internship at TheaterWorks was working in the rentals department. I got to do a project where we designed a theoretical show based on a show that TheaterWorks had already done, placed in another time period. I used my drawing skills; they thought that was cool.

What really matters for directors is to give them something visual to communicate what you’re going for: “This is what this character is going to wear for this scene,” including shoes and accessories.

CFD:    Which Cañada classes are helping you with your work now and how?

NC:      I’ve used my pattern-making skills a whole lot. I made patterns for The Pirates of Penzance

Also the general practice of making clothes for classes at Cañada, I’ve used those sewing skills a lot. I’ve gotten a lot faster and better at sewing in general. Theoretically I could do it on my own using a book, but being forced to practice is a much more reliable way.

CFD:    Any advice for other students interested in theater costuming?

NC:      I would recommend doing an internship. If you have a place that’s local to you but they don’t have an internship, I would still encourage you to contact them and potentially volunteer to get on-the-job experience. When I got the internship for Lamplighters with [CFD faculty member] Judy [Jackson], I just went up to her and asked.

The last performance of Elixir of Love is this Sunday, March 10 at 5:00 p.m. at Oshman Family JCC in Palo Alto. Purchase tickets here.

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