Thursday, October 20, 2016

Hand-Designed Highlight

As a graduation present for earning my bachelor's, my mother-in-law offered to buy me a sewing machine (my sister-in-law was graduating at the same time and that was the present she had requested). My husband and I looked at each other and just laughed. It was a super nice offer, but we both knew I would never use it. (We got a couch/love-seat set as a joint present instead, and trust me, that has gotten way more use than a sewing machine ever would have).

My own mother rolled her eyes when she heard I'd turned down the offer, because if she hadn't been a school teacher, she definitely would've been the type of stay-at-home mom that hand-made all her children's Halloween costumes. My mother dutifully taught me how to sew a straight line and make pillowcases and pajama pants and whatever other simple projects, but unfortunately the skill never really took hold. I can sew a button on just fine, but that is about it.

However, I have a few friends who not only know how to sew completely amazing things, they actually design their own patterns (and even fabric!). To say that they are talented is an understatement, and I'm completely blown away by the amazing stuff they can make (and maybe just a tiny bit jealous). Over the past few months, two of these ladies actually launched small businesses selling their products, and since I love to help a sister out, I thought I'd just take a moment to promote them in my small space, because I think what they are doing is amazing and I want to support them both any way I can.

Modique by Chalise

I met Chalise when we lived in Chicago a few years ago. This was before she launched her online boutique, but I saw the fabulous dresses she wore to church every week and was blown away when I found out she designed and made them all herself. Then, for a stake talent show activity, she asked a few of us to model her dresses, and I actually got to wear one! Honestly, I didn't want to take it off after the show was over, because I'd never been in a dress that fit so well and was such high quality.

Chalise officially launched her boutique in July. Right now her collection is small and she is only offering a limited number of each style, but there is so much to love. Her designs are simple, but super beautiful and classic (just my style!). She produces here in the U.S. so she can monitor every stage of production, and I trust her when she says these dresses are the highest quality.

I thought I'd highlight just a few of my favorites. If it weren't for the fact that I'm super pregnant, I would've already snatched one of these dresses up, but unfortunately she doesn't currently have a maternity line (although on Instagram she posted a picture of a girl 20 weeks along in one of her dresses, because they are super stretchy, but I'm waiting for my post-pregnant body before splurging on one of these). And! Several of her designs are nursing friendly! Which is pretty huge (nursing in dresses is the most frustrating thing in the world), so I'm definitely considering some of those since I will be in the nursing game next year.

This one is hands down my favorite (but unfortunately, not one of the more nursing friendly options). Wouldn't it make a perfect holiday party dress? Or really, any time of year/occasion dress? It's just beautiful.

This is my favorite of the nursing-friendly dresses. I love the pattern and the zipper detail and the sleeve length. It's adorable.

Ugh! Where was this dress when I was desperately looking high and low for a coral dress for my brother's wedding last spring? I ended up with a dress that looks similar to this one from a distance, but was much lower quality and after one wash it already looks funny and I'll probably never wear it again. Not only would this dress have been higher quality, but it also has the cute bow details on the shoulders which I love (kind of covered by the model's hair, look closely).

Now all of these dresses are priced at the upper-most limit of what I would ever consider paying for a dress, but having worn one of her dresses before, I know they are well worth the price. You will get what you pay for with these dresses, and with the classic designs they will last for many seasons to come. So, if you find yourself in want of a super beautiful, quality dress in the future, I highly recommend Modique by Chalise.

Skye is a current friend who lives here in Houston, and while I could go on and on about what an awesome person she is, and how talented she is, and how sweet and lovely she is in real life, I'll keep to just talking about her online shop where she sells the most beautiful leather bags and clutches you can imagine.

Okay, tangent story: three years ago when I was starting my master's program, I asked for a new backpack for Christmas. I told my husband that it needed to be three things: it needed to be brown leather, it needed to fit a laptop, and I wanted it to be a convertible backpack/shoulder bag so I could use it for school, as a purse, or as a diaper bag. Well, we looked everywhere, and it seemed that a bag that met all of these criteria was just a mythical dream. I finally settled for a bag that was black leather (fine, but not what I wanted), and not exactly perfect but has worked okay for me for the last few years.

Imagine my disappointment when Skye launched her bag line earlier this year, selling a bag that met every single one of my criteria (just a couple years too late). Apparently Skye had a very similar dilemma to mine in finding a bag she wanted, but instead of just settling the way I did, she went and designed her own bag and then sewed it up. Imagine being able to do that kind of thing! Then she decided to be gracious with the rest of us and offer these great bags to the paying public.

But here's the problem with Skye's bags. She is always sold out (apparently this whole convertible leather bag design is what everybody was looking for). So I don't think you can actually get one of her bags right now. But! She is currently revamping her production process so she can meet the high demand for these bags, so if you are in the market, keep checking back and hopefully her stock will be refilled soon. But in the meantime, just take a gander at this beautiful bag.

Isn't it perfect? Such a classic, simple design, but it fits a laptop! Works as a diaper bag! Looks amazing as just a purse! And can be worn as a backpack (my favorite feature ever)! Once again, the price point for these bags is on the high end, but this is a bag that will last a life-time. She uses the highest quality leather, and the attention to detail is just phenomenal. So if you're in the market for a beautiful leather bag in the near future and you're interested in a quality investment piece, cross your fingers she gets her shop stocked up again soon.

Also, side-note, do you see the skirts those models are wearing in the top picture? Yeah, she designed and sewed those too. Not just the skirts, but the fabric! She watercolored the designs, had the fabric manufactured, and then sewed the skirts up (did I mention how talented this girl is?). If she ever gets her bag manufacturing streamlined, she's talked about branching out into skirts and clothing, and I'm crossing my fingers that happens, because I would buy one of those skirts in a heartbeat.

Alright guys, enough about clothes and bags now. I know this is not a fashion blog. I just happen to know a couple of really talented women, and I wanted to toot their horn a bit here and show them whatever support I can. Besides, Christmas is coming up. If any of these items are on your list, keep these shops in mind!

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