New directions (long!)


That scared you didn't it? I bet you thought I'd disappeared forever, but no such luck :)

In my last post, which seems like ages ago now, I mentioned that I've been offline while coming to terms with some life changes. But it's all good. The bigger picture is that I've been dealing with depression and burnout for the last year, and to cut a long story short I've lately made a breakthrough in my progress to recovery. 

As a result, I've decided to make a major change in the direction of my design practice. For the time being, I'm shelving digital design to focus on clothing. Regulars will know I've been a keen hobby sewist all my life, and by now I'm confident enough in my skills and knowhow to turn pro. I have experience in setting up and running a business to build on, so why not take the plunge? 

We only go around once, and I want to work on that one thing I'm passionate about, the thing that I think I do best. I've wanted to try this for many years but never found a business focus I was comfortable with. Lately, though, I've been developing some cutting techniques that minimise material waste and labour costs, and it's taking me in a whole new design direction.

The idea is to create beautiful, wearable, downright covetable clothing from small pieces of the best offcuts I can source. I've been building up a stock of fine materials in the kind of quantities that would be hard to make into anything using standard cutting systems, but can be optimised with this method. For the technically minded, it's a departure from the standard Western blocks that takes its inspiration from a one-piece construction I learned years ago from a certain Japanese designer.

And now I humbly present one of my first wearable prototypes, a cropped white shirt made from a metre of fabric 150cm wide. It's cut in one piece, with two seams on either side and one down the back. I'm currently developing the concept into a basic jacket pattern and working on a couple of menswear blocks as well. I have a pants design I can cut from a metre and they don't look half bad, though I say so myself. And a few more garments in the pipeline.

As you can imagine, I've been extremely busy with this lately and I expect to stay busy for a while to come. But I'm a huge fan of this wonderful community and I want to be a part of it. I feel very lucky to have met Angie, Greg, Inge and all the others this year. Your wisdom and feedback are invaluable to me and I hope to continue to grow and learn with you. I'm going to try to post every month or so, and hopefully look in for a chat once in a while too. 

So thanks, Fabulous, for welcoming me into the community and for reading this far. The sharp-eyed will no doubt notice that I finally found a fantastic pair of specs. Not quite such a radical change, but another step in a new direction. And I am in desperate need of a haircut, but who has time for that?

This post is also published in the youlookfab forum. You can read and reply to it in either place. All replies will appear in both places.


  • Astrid replied 6 years ago

    That is absolutely, totally awesome. I'm looking forward to you coming by once in a while. :)

  • Murph11 replied 6 years ago

    I'm so glad to have chosen your post for my first read of the day! All-inspiring, and your cropped white shirt is awesome! I'm looking forward to seeing and hearing about your new design direction... You've got what it takes!

  • lyn67 replied 6 years ago

    Glad you're feeling better, and wish you all the best luck with the new business, Approprio! We all deserve to do and be appreciated by what we are best at! I am sure your efforts and perseverance will pay off soon! What a great niche have you  found in your field! I use to sew, so I and am  really excited to learn about turning a hobby into a business! 

  • celia replied 6 years ago

    These are such exciting news. I am glad you took the plunge and decided to venture in clothing only.
    Please drop by and show us your creations from time to time.

  • Elly replied 6 years ago

    The construction of the shirt is amazing. I'm so excited for you!

  • Janet replied 6 years ago

    Wow, fantastic news about the new business venture, and the shirt looks amazing -- simple but yet with such nice attention to detail! I understand about the depression part. I hope that you continue to recover and stay in a happy, productive place. It's good to see an update from you, and I hope you keep us posted on your designs and how things are going!

  • replied 6 years ago

    Oh, wow, wow, WOW on your creation, Approprio. So beautifully crafted. So well proportioned. You have found the right path, and you couldn't look happier.

    Your post is just inspiring to any of us who have ever felt in a rut to shake off and find our passion. Thank you for sharing all of this -- your downs as well as your ups. I look forward to seeing more of your creations.

  • Sara L. replied 6 years ago

    It's good to hear from you and to know that you are doing ok and feeling positive. The top is great.  I love the cropped proportion.  I'm looking forward to seeing more of your creations.

  • donnat replied 6 years ago

    I am very excited for you. First I was happy to see you had posted this morning, as I just love your style.
    I am glad you are feeling better, and what a fantastic idea. I wish you much luck and success with your new business venture. And... i just love the shirt. It will look amazing with high waisted pants.
    I will be looking forward to more posts from you.

  • kellygirl replied 6 years ago

    Excellent news! Congrats on your new adventure. Your shirt is fantastic and love the new specs!

  • Maneera replied 6 years ago

    Fantastic news Rio. I've been thinking about you.

    I'm glad to hear you've had a breakthrough. And I hope turning your passion into your profession will help with your health. I wish you all the very best in your new endeavor.

    The shirt is simply FABULOUS. You're extremely talented; I have no doubt you'll be extremely happy doing this.

    Much Love,

  • jackiec replied 6 years ago

    Congratulations! Your new venture sounds so exciting! Growing up in a sewing household, where my mom went back to school to finally pursue her dream and start her business in the same field, I can truly appreciate what you're doing here. I can also appreciate the difficulty and creativity involved in putting together gorgeous clothes using minimal cloth-cuts. How appropriate in this day and age of consumption and waste. I think you're really onto something. I can't wait to see more of what you are creating.

    And I'm so happy that you are feeling better. Many many congratulations.

  • replied 6 years ago

    Such an interesting read this morning, thanks to you!  Nice to see your face here again, and so nice to hear that things are moving in a positive direction. I'm really intrigued by your business concept and hope we are seeing you in international media in the future!  This shirt/jacket hybrid is lovely - I particularly like the exposed dart carrying over into the sleeve - really an interesting and unique (well, for me, anyways) treatment.  Good luck with your business!

  • shedev replied 6 years ago

    I'm really excited for you and look forward to reading about your new business.

  • replied 6 years ago

    How exciting! Totally appropriate and fascinating! I am so hoping you will provide updates! 

  • abc replied 6 years ago

    Your glasses look great and I like your hair longer!

    But wow the show stealer is that top. You have an amazing talent. Thanks for sharing it.

    This is such a departure from me, my daily life, etc - it's amazing to go on YLF and feel like you kinda know someone that is a designer and lives in another country and is the epitome of cool. I hope you check in often here, I enjoy seeing your posts and look forward to hear the successes of your business.

  • replied 6 years ago

    What a neat top! I wonder what it would look like in thicker and thinner fabrics.

    I remember going through the process of adjusting blocks and sizing to make them fit better and minimize fabric waste. What a puzzle! (And this was a very simple, 3 piece pattern.) I just gave up and let the pros do it, since I'm no expert.

    Good luck with your venture!

  • catgirl replied 6 years ago

    How utterly cool and fascinating! I wish you nothing but success. I've often wished I could just design my own clothes, but this is even more wonderful!

  • Angie replied 6 years ago

    Exciting and CONGRATS! (Miss you, Liz).

    The new shirt is killer. Hope you sell LOTS. 

  • Cerinda replied 6 years ago

    <<Raises glass>> Here's to your reinvention!  Best of luck with your new venture:  your debut product is gorgeous!

  • Elizabeth P replied 6 years ago

    Good to see you again... sorry things haven't been that great, but I'm glad you've turned a corner, so to speak.  And wow, what a great new adventure awaits!  Very interesting concept, I hope you'll share as things progress, you get more designs, etc.  That shirt is wonderful.

  • skylurker replied 6 years ago

    congrats on overcoming depression and finding the energy to start anew, I know how that feels.

    Your first finished product looks great.
    I don't understand the process but it reminds me of a Madeleine Vionnet exhibition I saw a few years ago. Her first dresses were made from a single square of fabric, there were amazing videos showing how she made it. With time, she developped her skills and made more complicated designs out of several geometric pieces of fabric.

    Anyway, if you're going on this adventure alone, it's wise to keep in touch with the YLF community.

  • Suz replied 6 years ago

    Sign me up to buy one of those shirts, pronto!! So wonderful! It looks amazing on you, as do the specs. 

    I am so sorry to hear that you've been low -- and so delighted to know that you are doing better and ready to start something new. This is an amazing venture and I hope you will continue to report to us and show us outfits. 

  • approprio replied 6 years ago

    Feh. After an afternoon of domestic plumbing disaster I had a reply lined up which my browser has kindly deleted. 

    Anyway. Thanks so much for your support and encouragement. It's been a difficult year but I'm glad to have my mojo back, so to speak. And I must say I'm surprised to be met with such enthusiasm. I'll post a few more examples as I progress. 

    I'm as daunted as I'm excited by this new venture. I feel like I'm onto something but I can see from here how much hard work this is going to be even from the embryonic stage. But I have a pile of material and a lot of ideas which is enough to get me started. 

    jackiec, I'd love to hear about your mother's experience sometime. And  there's a load of zero-waste designs out there, but I don't know of another system like this. 

    abc you just made my day! I'm not that cool in person ;)

    Angie heh yeah, i gotta make 'em first :D (BTW, those harem culottes were Killer!)

    smittie I'm a bit short of shirt material right now but there's a lovely piece of silk crepe satin waiting to be made into the tuxedo version. 

    skylurker the jabot dress is a great example! Another inspiration was the Balenciaga one seam coat. And you're right, keeping in the loop here is the right thing to do. 

    Sorry for not shouting out to all of you. I've read each and every one of your replies and it's all very much appreciated. Thanks again. 


  • skylurker replied 6 years ago

    hey, I found one of the videos!

    I was mesmerized by them, the play with the geometric shapes.
    Too bad they don't show the end result, because the most surprising was the juxtaposition of the simple design with the end result - a very sleek dress fit for red carpet.

    Thanks for mentioning the Balenciaga coat, I had never heard of it.

  • Lyn D. replied 6 years ago

    Great looking shirt!
    So nice to reading your positive and uplifting post :)

  • tulle replied 6 years ago

    Oh, Approprio, I'm so pleased for you!  That shirt is ingenious.  Like Smittie, I immediately thought I'd love to see it in many different colors & textures (soft fine wale corduroy with vintage bakelite buttons came to mind, for some reason.) I wish you lots of luck and happiness in this new undertaking.  You seem to have the mind of an engineer and the eye of a fashion artist, so I believe in your future!

  • Ginkgo replied 6 years ago

    Love the look of the extended dart (or perhaps echo is a better word).   I'm looking forward to seeing more of your work. 

  • Caro in Oz replied 6 years ago

    How wonderful, I wish you every success :)

  • Adelfa replied 6 years ago

    Like everyone else, I am so inspired and uplifted by your post. Good for you! The blouse looks so sleek and modern and interesting. Can't wait to see your other creations!

  • Jaime replied 6 years ago

    I am at turns excited, empathetic, and ready to make an order. I think you have made a wonderful decision and am glad you pulled yourself through your depression (also know about that). Will be very happy to read about your progress and see your designs whenever you are able.

  • rachylou replied 6 years ago

    Cool and fascinating design - the one piece cut... that will occupy my mind for awhile!

  • Style Fan replied 6 years ago

    Great to see you post.  Love the look of the shirt.  I don't understand the design but I like the result.  I look forward to hearing more about your designs.
    Great glasses and I like your hair overgrown.  Glad you are feeling better.

  • Staysfit replied 6 years ago

    So glad that you are feeling better and very happy that you are willing to share about something that many people keep private. Public awareness goes a long way to reduce stigma for anyone who is struggling with depression. I love your new business idea and wish you the best. Your top is a wow! I hope you share more of your work as your plans develop.

  • Meredith replied 6 years ago

    Fabulous! Best wishes for your health and new adventure!

  • Brooklyn replied 6 years ago

    Wow! How exciting and inspiring! I wish you luck and look forward to hearing more. Love the shirt, especially the interesting sleeve details. You go girl!

  • Sal replied 6 years ago

    Congratulations on your exciting decision!
    You look great, the top looks stylish and unique and please keep us in touch with where you are at!

  • CocoLion replied 6 years ago

    I love your creation!  It is evident you are very talented.  And I am full of admiration for your decision to turn your passion into a business venture.  If there is any way I can help you on your journey, let me know.  

  • Firecracker (Sharan) replied 6 years ago

    It's so good to see you here again. Sorry you were battling depression, but I'm glad to hear you're feeling much better and have the energy and excitement to embark on this new venture. You are so talented with designing and creating amazing clothes. It's great you can take this chance to pursue your real passion.
    The blouse is really cool! Love your new specs, too.

  • TraceyLiz65 replied 6 years ago

    Congratulations on this new path. It sounds like your steps along the way were all to get you right here!

  • Deborah replied 6 years ago

    Wishing you all the very best!  The shirt is really gorgeous and very cool looking in an understated way.  Hope I am not jumping the gun, but will there be an online store??

  • Tania replied 6 years ago

    It's good to "see" you again!  I wish you the best of luck in your new endeavor.  Your work is wonderful and I admire your ability to take steps towards living your passion.

  • Beth Ann replied 6 years ago

    Love the architectural shape and crispness of the cropped shirt.  You are well on your way into a new chapter, which I hope brings you much joy and success!

  • approprio replied 6 years ago

    Thanks so much for all the positive vibes and good wishes. I know for sure I'm going to need them!

    You're all so very generous with your feedback that I may be tempted to post once in a while for advice on product development, branding and even pricing. I'm pretty sure I can do this, but as I say, it's all very daunting at the moment.

    skylurker, cute video! And with Kraftwerk, one of my favourite bands ever :)

    Staysfit, thanks for that. This really is only a fraction of the story. I'm pondering a detailed post off-topic, because I feel as strongly as you do that these things are unnecessarily stigmatised. But it can be hard to share something so deeply personal, particularly when recovery is an ongoing process.

    Deborah, shevia, I do plan to sell online. I'll be setting up on Etsy to begin with and I'll let you know when I have some things listed. 

    Thanks everyone else for your thoughtful responses. I'm quite overwhelmed. In a good way :)

  • Vicki replied 6 years ago

    Amazing life start!  I'm thrilled for you and your new direction and to see that you've moved through the process to find your creative self.  I'll be watching and, perhaps, buying!  Congratulations, Approprio!

  • Sveta replied 6 years ago

    I am so happy for you! It is a big step but doing something you love and aspire to is the best gift we can give to ourselves.
    The shirt looks wonderful and the new cutting technique sounds promising.  I wish your new business to take off and soar to the new heights, Liz!

  • replied 6 years ago

    I did see this post from you a while back, but I was on holiday and didn't get a chance to reply. I'm glad to now though... I'm so very pleased for you Liz. What a fantastic and exciting venture! I'm very intrigued by the sewing methods that you plan on using and pleased to hear that you want to use fine fabrics for your garments as I do love me a good fabric :). It sounds wonderful. All the best. x

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