Tuesday, December 11, 2012



It's been quite a whirlwind the past couple of months, trying to juggle my own work and aspirations as well as freelance work. I have no complaints, though as I feel so very lucky to work with great people in beautiful places. Traveling, especially internationally is always a reminder of how big the world is and how much of it I want to see and experience. It's also a reminder that I need to stop procrastinating on learning that second language...

I have just returned from a long freelance job in Manzanillo, Mexico. It was warm, sunny, and beautiful. An abundance of fresh fruit at breakfast and so much homemade guacamole that I'm going to need to take a break from avocados for a bit. While it was mostly work, I did have one afternoon to relax in the sun a bit and of course pick up a few treasures to take back to chilly New York.

*My hand sewn top from Manzanillo

*I always love great statement earrings, these were hand made/painted in Mexico

Okay now I must go put on socks again, along with my cozy winter clothes and get back to work on my winter pieces for ErinElsie. Please stay tuned!

All the best,

Sunday, November 25, 2012

It's been a while...


 Yes, it's been a while...To say that I have been busy is quite an understatement and I know I am not the only one. Everyone seems busy this time of year, trying to balance holiday time with friends and family, as well as work. I feel lucky to say that as I am working on something I am truly excited about, it never really feels like work. Because of this, I sometimes have to tell myself to stop and take a breath, enjoy this life, embrace the journey...

 I was recently on a long freelance job in New York and California. Although it can feel a little stressful to pull myself away from working on my own projects, I am learning it's also healthy to do so. In CA, I had early mornings and long days, but relatively quiet nights in my hotel room with room service, a fire place, and time alone with my own thoughts. My inspiration comes from my materials and the world around me, so I try to soak up all the experiences that come my way. I left for CA with a bunch of materials strewn across my little workspace and came back to NY with fresh ideas for them. Coming soon are new pieces made from cozy winter materials; dresses and tops out of reclaimed cashmere, as well as a slew of winter accessories with reclaimed flannel and lambswool. Great handmade gifts for the coming holiday season :)  

My winter accessory inspiration piece: 
While packing for my recent CA trip, I came across this lightweight, yet warm wool neckerchief. I receive this handmade piece with a few others from my grandmother many years ago. It can be worn around your neck or head- super clever! I am working on my own versions of these with reclaimed cashmere and soft wool. 
 Worn around the neck:
Perfect for keeping those ears warm:

Work in progress: cashmere sweater dress

Cozy button flannel scarves with luxurious linings coming up :)

I hope you had a great Thanksgiving. I did not get to go home to Louisiana, but I tried to bring a little Louisiana to my Thanksgiving in New York by cooking my mom's rice dressing!
Empire state building, lit up for Thanksgiving

Today I'm trying to do much needed laundry, packing my bags again, working on sewing projects, and spending some quality time with my guy as I prepare for yet another work trip. This time...Mexico.


http://www.erinelsie.com/  (click "Shop the collection" to see the newest items)

Monday, October 29, 2012

Hunkering down...and eating!

As we brace for Hurricane Sandy here in New York, it brings back many childhood memories for me. Growing up in south Louisiana, the threat of hurricanes was just part of life. I feel very grateful, that instead of just remembering the destruction and hardship these storms can bring, my memories are mostly of quality time with my family and good eating. Our busy everyday lives were halted, and we spent the dark hours under a little battery powered light playing cards, eating gumbo, making crafts. Post storm, if we were still without electricity, we'd clean out the freezers, and get together with neighbors for big cookouts. Not exactly canned goods, but really good food- fried fish, bar-b-que, etc.

In one particular memory, my maw-maw(she often stayed with us during hurricanes) brought over a bag of old yarn, strings, and ribbons to me. To some, it may not sound like the most exciting treat, but for me it certainly was. I dumped it all out on the living room floor under the little battery powered light, and made all sorts of necklaces and bracelets during the duration of the storm. Not much has changed with me. There's something quite nice about staying in with the one you love, cooking good food, getting to work on my many sewing projects, and not feeling the pressure to be out and about in the city.

Since I seem to be doing more eating than sewing, I thought I'd share some of the tasty menu:

Breakfast potatoes with green pepper, onions, garlic, butter, cheese, bacon + Fried Eggs

Homemade Black bean salsa 


French Onion soup- made with rich homemade beef stock  

Oh...and more wine :)
 And it's only 5 pm here...

Hunker down and stay safe wherever you are!


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Just go with it...

Happy Wednesday!

Hunting for materials, planning, designing, constructing and finishing can get overwhelming at times when you're a one woman operation. I usually work best when I work on more than one piece at a time, so I can jump to another project when I'm getting stressed out with the one at hand.

Recently, in an effort to get through some mental creative blockage, I decided to clean up around my workspace (yes mom, I do clean up occasionally). Since I am such an avid recycle-r of materials, not much ever really goes to waste. When I have tiny scraps of fabric, I save them to use as stuffing materials for pillows etc. This particular time in my fabric scraps I found one small piece of a special vintage print, and I couldn't bare just tossing it in my stuffing pile. I noticed two graphic diamond shapes; after staring at them a while it dawned on me- earrings! I've toyed with jewelry making in the past and did buy a pack of earring hooks with aspirations. I then plopped myself in front of a good movie and put the earrings together; making up the construction as I go. I thought they were neat, but bold and little quirky. I put them away for a few days, unsure and afraid to share them at first.

This past Monday, I sleepily got dressed for a very early morning freelance stylist gig. It was rainy outside. I threw my sneakers on, and felt my basic outfit was lacking a bit of creativity. For some reason as I was running out the door I thought about my crazy earrings and put them on. I thought whether people liked them or not, at least they'd distract from my sleepy face and boring outfit! Then to my surprise, I started to receive compliments and inquiries on them from the crew I was working with, as well as from folks on the street and in the little bodega where I sometimes pick up coffee. It's very meaningful when a NY stranger takes the time to stop and ask about your earrings...

When I got home, I felt energized and inspired. I began sifting through more of my fabric scraps and pulled out some great graphic prints. I was so excited to find a way to make the most of these awesome vintage prints and leather remnants. I also now have a great side project that I can work on when I need to walk away from a more involved clothing piece. I love when things sometimes just fall into place and you have no choice but to just go with it!
 The original prototype; the beads were from a broken necklace.

Some of my vintage fabric remnants

My mini-jewelry assembly line- yes, it's on my kitchen window sill, making the most of space here.

Thanks for taking the time to read about my journey.
Now back to work :)


Thursday, October 11, 2012

Coffee Talk and Craftsmanship

It's October already...wow, where does the time go. I have been quite the busy little bee.
It generally takes long days, many late nights, and lots of coffee for some of my clothing designs to be completely done. I am patient because I know that all the little details will be meticulously finished, and I am certain I would not be content with anything less. When my mom taught me how to sew, it was more than just a basic construction lesson. It changed the way I analyze clothes and the quality of the craftsmanship.   

My mom and I always love to shop together and still do. I think it was often just the two of us because not many others would not want to put up with our tedious critiques. Often, when I would pull something I like and show it to my mother, it would be followed by,"Erin, but the front is all sewn crooked" and then me "Oh yeah, your right mom." I use to find these moments annoying at times during my teenage years, but in hindsight I am so grateful for this type of education. Another big pet peeve is when certain items were overpriced without lining or proper under-construction. In most cases, these 2 aspects have everything to do with how something looks, fits, and feels against your body.

Our fitting room sessions could often turn into fit sessions. If we loved something enough, and thought it was a great deal for the price, we would be content to actually purchase it and alter it slightly to be perfect. Women often complain that "nothing fits" when shopping for certain items, but often this is really true. Clothing manufactures, although they try, cannot accommodate every person out there. Every body type is different, and so every item you try on may not fit you perfectly. Find a good tailor, make a few minor adjustments and you'll see the difference. Also, if you ever have the opportunity, collaborate on something custom made for yourself. Nothing beats something tailored made specially for you. Then you'll have a one-of-a-kind garment you can pass down to your family.

At my previous corporate fashion job here in in NY, I was responsible for the overall fit and look of each and every garment we produced. I saw all this past life experience come full circle. Now, I am pouring ALL of this knowledge and experience into my own work. I am as passionate about the inside of each garment as I am the outside, and I hope that comes through in my work.

Here's a sneak preview of one of my latest projects- inside and out. A big thanks to my dear friend Jessica for sending me a box of vintage materials with this awesome, inspiring print! Other materials in this dress include more fabric from a vibrant, purple linen jacket and and a few pieces from a leather jacket.
 About to sew down the front bodice lining

Still trying to decide how dramatic the sleeves should be...

Slightly stressful learning experience: Inserting an industrial zipper from an old leather jacket into a a dress. Mission accomplished!

Stay tuned for the the finished piece! To find more of my work, check out my website at http://www.erinelsie.com/ and click on the Shop the collection link.


Friday, September 28, 2012

Happy Friday


I'm spending this rainy Friday in New York working with some new fall fabrications. Every designer has a unique way they get inspiration and ideas, and for me it comes in large part from the materials I find. I love that behind my materials comes a memory and often a really good story. Sometimes instead of me hunting for materials, friends and family offer to send things to me and I love that. It's definitely a good feeling to know that someone was thinking of me and my work. Recently, a dear friend called to let me know she was sending me a box special items she thought I'd like to have. Shortly after that, my mom let me know that she is sending me vintage buttons she received from one of her friends.

My mom, an accomplished seamstress herself, made a lot of her clothes growing up. This was a time when it was more common for a young lady to make a lot of her own clothes. I love her stories of driving to New Orleans to shop for new shoes or a new dress at a nice department store, and how this was thought of as a special occasion and a memory. Dresses in her closet were special and unique, whether bought or handmade. Now that mass manufacturing has exploded, and department stores are everywhere, I still long to own and create things that remain special and unique. I'm so grateful that she taught me the fundamentals of sewing and pattern making, empowering me to create unique and customized clothing. 

Check out my beautiful mom in some of her homemade dresses.


I am excited to share that I finally have a website. Check out http://www.erinelsie.com/ for all things ErinElsie.

Special thanks to:
-Leslie Espinosa for the lovely hair and makeup:
-Katy Smail, an inspiring artist and our lovely model for the shoot.
-Ben Kulo, for the photography and website


Sunday, September 16, 2012



I've been away in the beautiful upstate NY on a freelance job for a photo shoot. The views and weather were incredible, the days long, and the internet service was not so great. It's hard taking time away from ErinElsie, but I am always grateful for work with lovely people and no cubicle involved!

My mind is quite overloaded with ideas for new pieces and I''m ready to get back to work. Also, my website is coming together and should be up soon- yay!  While our surroundings are still very green and lush, there is a slight change in the air, and inspiration for my newest pieces take on a hint of fall.

Some of my favorite spots from my past week away in upstate NY.

Please stay tuned by subscribing by email to my blog in the box at the upper right hand corner!


Thursday, August 30, 2012

Back to Brooklyn


I'm finally getting settled again at home. I'm so glad we decided to extend the trip to our friends' beautiful wedding into an awesome Hawaiian adventure. I am filled with happy memories and picked up some awesome sewing materials on the way. With a little effort and research, you can do some amazing traveling on a budget. I definitely see more journeys in my future!

 A pile of awesome fabric finds from my trip. Now I must hand wash and organize them. These materials will definitely be a strong part of my next spring collection.

Returning home from the high of any vacation can seem a little sad at first. The spectacular beauty of the nature and weather of Hawaii is quite consuming. Also, traveling back east over a time zone difference of 6 hours can definitely take its toll on your internal clock. I spent the first night sleeping like a baby, but the second night I couldn't sleep and ended up obsessing over the weather channel with Hurricane Isaac and sewing all night. My hometown and most of my family is in south Louisiana. I am happy to report that they are safe and sound. Jumping back into my work reminded me that I have so much to come home to! I'm am working very hard right now and I am so excited about what is to come.

My sewing desk when I returned home. I had to photograph it as it is never this empty! It will quickly be consumed by piles of fabric and multiple projects going on at one time...

 New York City is not the easiest place to live sometimes, but I wouldn't trade it for anything. It is important to create your own peaceful living and working space, and I have found an oasis in my cozy Brooklyn neighborhood.

My little kitchen/office/draping space. I love that it faces trees and is full of natural light. 

My tree-lined street.

Yesterday, the weather was 79 degrees and sunny. In much need of a sewing break, I took an afternoon stroll to my favorite close by coffee shop and then to the park. I love soaking in the happiness of the park - cute dogs, happy kids, friends gathering to visit, someone reading and enjoying the sun. Not having my own outdoor space, you learn to appreciate nature big a small- the vastness of Hawaii or the simplicity of a park in the middle of a city.
One of my favorite park spots. 

Alright, back to work now for me! Want to know about blog updates as soon as they happen? Click subscribe by email at the bottom of my blog and become one of my followers!


Friday, August 24, 2012

Vintage and Volcanoes


 We hopped over the the Big Island, HI this past Monday and have been nonstop ever since. We've spent the first part of our time here exploring all things Volcano, past and present. I, as always, did manage to get to a few noteworthy shopping and dining spots along the way.
 After arriving at the airport in Kona, we decided we would road trip around the entire northern part of the island and end up at our new lodging spot the for the next couple days- a cabin on an organic farm. This route is one of the most interesting and beautiful drives you can do here, and we were not disappointed! I added a basic little map for some perspective :)

First on the agenda was a hearty breakfast and I started researching our options immediately. The best local spot on route mentioned online and by word of mouth was a little spot called Dave's Plate Lunch. (From the fancy to the non-fancy restaurants, most menus in Hawaiian restaurants have a "plate lunch." Often it just means some kind of meat entree, rice, and veggies.) Dave's was not far off the highway, but was a little hard to find. It's nestled behind an auto-shop and a post office in Waikoloa Village. It's just a little wooden shack, but the minute you walk in, you realize why tourists and locals are flocking to this place. You're greeted by the owner, who tells you first to relax and then shares with you about his simple Hawaiian menu. Sitting next to us were families from Italy and Houston, Texas, that flocked to Dave's when disappointed by their overpriced resort breakfasts.

Upon reading reviews online of Dave's after our experience, I realize that some families drove 20 miles everyday of their stay from their resort to have a yummy and cheap breakfast at Dave's! His ingredients are all local and the coffee especially was good and cheap - 100% Kona Coffee (lots of coffee farms in this area of Hawaii, so you must try some when here).

To give you an idea:
Resort coffee only = $6.50
My entire Dave's breakfast + coffee & OJ = $6.50


After our hearty breakfast, we drove up to the northern most part of the Big Island and stopped in a historic, cozy town, called Hawi. I gravitated towards a particular shop because of it's name, 4joi. To my delight, this shop was stocked with lots of vintage fabric, locally made clothing and accessories, sewing supplies, and an enticing closet of vintage dresses. The employees were especially warm and nice, and I had a blast exploring this little shop.

The business cards were encased individually in little fabric pouches made with scrap fabric - very memorable and personal. I've been keeping all the other new cards I've picked up in my little pouch :)

After walking around the rest of Hawi, we hopped in our car and, rolled down our windows, and embarked on one of the most beautiful drives I've ever seen (pictures to come!). If you ever road trip Hawaii, wear layers as the elevations and climate changes so much over a short period of time.

We arrived at our cabin for the next couple of days, hidden on an organic farm in the Puna District. We were quite off the grid there, and sometimes that is the best medicine! We were excited to receive fresh fruits and veggies by our hosts. We cooked yummy breakfasts and dinners, drank fresh fruit cocktails, and woke up to the sounds of the rain forests.

our cabin balcony :)

While staying in this area, we spent our days exploring the nearby Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. It is quite overwhelming to even explain seeing and experiencing this in person. Two Volcanoes are very much still active. We ventured out to see Kalapana, a town partially destroyed by lava flow from Kilauea volcano in 1990. On route to this ghost town, we were surprised to encounter, beautiful beaches, breathtaking views of the coastline, warm lava pools (natural hot tubs), and incredible beach homes. It was not what I expected to see in the surrounding areas of this destructive lava flow. Then, hidden in the trees, I of course spotted a little shop!

We pulled in to Kalani, and oceanside retreat with good food and a vast selection of spa treatments. We received a warm welcome, as I checked out the little shop of aloha wear and accessories. We then snacked on locally made sorbet and ice cream. There was a beautiful lanai, where we soaked up the scenery and enjoyed our cold treats.


What a great little pit stop on our way to Kalapana. After experiencing the jolting scene of a young ghost town, we continued on to our next area of this Big Island. 

Remember, life is all about the journey!


Dave's Plate Lunch



Hawaii Volcanoes National Park