The Ode Series, #6

July 17, 2014

Pao ode coatPao ode coat detail

Inspiration comes in many forms.  Sometimes it’s as simple as the color of a cardinal in a leafy tree.  At other times it can be more complex, whether in the form of a book or perhaps a song.  Extraordinary people inspire as well, enabling us to see a different and better way of doing things, of living our lives.

Pao ode skirt flatPao ode

This Ode (part of a series, explained here at the bottom of the post) is dedicated to someone who never fails to inspire me.  I stumbled on the blog Project Minima a while back.  Pat Otto, aka Pao, is an artist who decided to unplug from rampant consumerism.  Her pledge was to take a year to make ALL her clothes from things she already owned, by refashioning/upcycling instead of purchasing new or even thrifted.  She’s currently going into Year 4, and her creativity continues to explode.  Now you see why she’s my hero.

Pao ode coat back flatpao ode coat back detail

Although I haven’t managed to stay out of the thrift stores entirely, I’ve been wanting to follow her lead.  It seems like it’s the next step I need to take, to nudge creativity a step further.  I took the last few weeks to explore this idea, utilizing thrifted pieces and fabrics from my “stash”.

Pao ode skirt fabricPao ode maximal

The skirt was made from a thrifted African-textile skirt, some upholstery fabric from my stash, and a strip of cotton jersey from another thrifted skirt.  I’m ecstatic with the myriad ways I can style it, like adding on this handmade suede vest from Goodwill.

Pao ode coat backPao ode 3:4

The maxi coat has been on my mind for awhile.  Originally a snap front denim dress from the 90’s, I refashioned it several years ago but never wore it.  I started to analyze why, realizing that the proportions weren’t dramatic enough to make me happy.  I added more African fabric to the bottom of the sleeves and created another layer of length along the bottom hem with thrifted skirts. I decided I didn’t like the front edge with the snaps, so I turned it under and hand stitched it in place.  The front tie was made from a strip of fabric from another thrifted skirt and two purchased tassels.

pao ode with scarfPao ode accessories

Now if it would just cool off a little, I could add on my tassel scarf (or hip wrap) made with a remnant of jersey and some bargain upholstery trim, along with my thrifted mudcloth hat and Goodwill bracelets.

Pao ode portrait

Pao, thank you so much.  I don’t know what else to say except that you’re extraordinary in my world.  XXOO

Pao ode Lynx jewelry

A special thanks to Lynzee Lynx for the gifts seen here.  She designed and made the earrings.  You can check out more of her work at

A final note: I may not be posting again for a few weeks.  Miz Bagg is about to go ballistic if I don’t get it together for the next issue of Vogoff.  Melanie, on the other hand, has been most understanding and wonderful.  My time is very limited these days and I’ve had to choose between posting and sewing, and now writing.  Wish me luck! :-)

A reminder that clicking on the pictures once, and then again, will enable you to see more detail.



40 Responses to The Ode Series, #6

  1. Jazzy Jack on July 17, 2014 at 9:55 pm

    Oh, oh, oh! You take my breath away! All the little touches! I don’t know where to start. The hand stitching, the upholstery fabric, the tassels, the hat, all the mismatched yet perfectly matched prints! A wonderful ode to Pao indeed. And you’re extraordinary in my world :-) XO Jazzy Jack

    • Jean on July 17, 2014 at 11:06 pm

      Thank you!! It feels good to be part of the ripple effect, doesn’t it?! I know you’re passing it on. XXOO

  2. PinkCheetahVintage on July 17, 2014 at 10:38 pm

    It is absolutely amazing! Fantastic work :)

    • Jean on July 17, 2014 at 11:07 pm

      Thanks Becky. i’m committed to making more!

  3. Melannie on July 18, 2014 at 12:59 am

    Jean, you’ve outdone yourself – again! Sparks are flying at your machine indeed, and your needle. I definitely see Pao in these pieces with your own flair woven in. If only I could trail you when you wear this in public for the first time and record all the gasps and compliments. Truly stunning!
    Ha,don’t worry about Miz Bagg. I sent her to Florida for a while to cool off.

    • Jean on July 18, 2014 at 3:09 pm

      I’d want to walk side by side, with you in your amazing green fringe platforms and something billowing behind you, similar to what you had on when I visited. Now THAT would be fun!!!

      Yes, I can see Miz Bagg poolside, making the wait staff run for more refreshing rum concoctions.

  4. Grunge Queen on July 18, 2014 at 3:13 am

    Beautiful refashion on the cost, Jean! Your creativity and style leave me in awe. Xox

    • Jean on July 18, 2014 at 3:10 pm

      Thanks Kelly!! Can’t wait to see your new home and get caught up!

  5. pao on July 18, 2014 at 10:23 am

    Oh my, I’m amazed at your creations. that. just. don’t. stop. You’ve inspired me to just go further/farther(?). I keep returning to your pictures. Each item is so rich with intriguing details, textures, colors and shapes. You are a true artist of garments and ensembles, Jean. I look forward to seeing your artwear in the upcoming Vogoff.

    Is it not ironic that Project Minima shows the plainest, simplest dress ever while you credit me with inspiration?! And I must note, I’ve replugged into consuming used shoes via ebay, tsk-tsk. But can I still say I’m thrilled to be ode-ified by you, Jean, and that’s a fact! Thanks for thinking of me.

    • Jean on July 18, 2014 at 3:18 pm

      Okay, so one thing I didn’t mention as I odified you was that I love your wry, self-deprecating way. Umm, you’ve done astounding work! Just look at your recaps. Sometimes a “simple” dress is the hardest to make.

      As far as plugging back in to consumerism, I think we can give you a pass for occasionally getting second hand shoes on Ebay. I’ve looked into cordwainers’ school and I bet you have too. Maybe that’s next.

      Pao, you’re the real deal, or as my 14 year old niece would say, “You’re LEGIT!”

  6. Amber of Butane Anvil on July 18, 2014 at 10:33 am

    An incredible tribute to an excellent artist / creator by an excellent artist / creator! What wonderful fabrics and trims in gorgeous combinations. Big love, xoxoxo

    • Jean on July 18, 2014 at 4:10 pm

      Let me just say that I’m so grateful I found ALL Y’ALL!! XXOO

  7. lynzee lynx on July 18, 2014 at 1:25 pm

    Jean! Your designs have TAKEN OFF!!! I am so impressed and inspired! I want to follow in suit and take more time to make more clothing again. I love your refashioning wildness! I especially love the uses of the African fabrics. They add such a cultural richness. I’m kinda obsessed with them for the last few years. Remind me to show you some of my favorites. Any hoo… thank you also for linking to me. I have been having a ton of fun with my online store. I’d love to feature you on my blog one day… when I finally get to writing one! ha!!!!!
    love you so!
    xo lynx

  8. Jean on July 18, 2014 at 4:21 pm

    Lynx, if it wasn’t for you I doubt I’d be here creating like this. When I met you, your artistic flow reminded me of my long-buried passion for this stuff. Seeing the beautiful things you made, your aesthetic choices, and your knowledge about textiles and jewelry traditions blew me away. It was you who told to get the serger as I was agonizing over whether I should make the investment, something that has subsequently changed my life for the better in unimaginable ways.

    And that, my dear, is just scratching the surface of the loveliness and joy you’ve brought into my life, as a friend and daughter. XXOO

  9. Natalia on July 18, 2014 at 5:19 pm

    Isn’t it wonderful that I received your comment, Jean, while reading your post! :) Such a dining experience sure calls for long multiple naps, especially in the heat! :)

    I am speechless, Jean! Your creations are miracles to me, I keep scrolling photos up and down and admire all the details, they seem endless! You have such an amazing talent – gorgeous clothing which emphasize your exceptional beauty. Pao is gifted and unique in so many ways. There is so much to learn from both of you! xxxxxx

    • Jean on July 18, 2014 at 5:57 pm

      I love synchronicity like that, and happy it connected me to you! XXOO

  10. Curtise on July 18, 2014 at 10:25 pm

    Wow, Jean, I love the flamboyance and detail of these pieces! They seem somehow more dramatic than usual, fuller shapes, added layers, almost theatrical – do you know what I mean? Very sexy too!
    Isn’t it great to be inspired by our friends and fellow bloggers? xxx

    • Jean on July 19, 2014 at 10:55 pm

      Yes, the energy from this personal style community has been absolutely affirming and life-altering!

      Thank you for your observations about these new pieces. I’ve been admiring the pictures of the couture collections and reflecting on the fact that one of the things that makes them “high fashion” (if you will) is the exaggerated proportions. I love the drama and wanted to capture some of that. I’m happier with them, and want to continue in that direction.

  11. Forest City Fashionista on July 19, 2014 at 7:32 pm

    I too think Pao is a wonderful artist with fabric, but you also continue to amaze me with your up-cycled creations. You have a great eye for mixing patterns and shapes and your results are rich and dramatic. I love that the addition of the right fancy trim to a simple scarf makes it a statement piece.

    • Jean on July 19, 2014 at 10:57 pm

      I’m currently obsessed with tassels and fringe. As much as I love minimalism (I really do!!) it just hasn’t happened yet. Maybe it will and maybe it won’t, or maybe it will sometimes. :-) xxoo

  12. joni on July 20, 2014 at 2:55 pm

    Wowowow! You’ve done an amazing job Jean! Pat is very inspiring as you are too. I included a little ode to Pat a couple of posts back too. She rocks! I’m working on a maxi skirt today!

    • Jean on July 21, 2014 at 12:04 am

      I can’t wait to see it!! XXOO

  13. The Style Crone on July 20, 2014 at 8:24 pm

    Regal is the word that comes to mind, as you honor Pao with your magnificent creations. You are really in the vortex now!!! Pao is an inspiration to me as well! Your Ode series continues to enthrall and your creativity is ever expanding.

    Can’t wait to see what you contribute to Vogoff! Have fun!!!!!! XO

    • Jean on July 21, 2014 at 12:06 am

      I have million ideas for Vogoff, all fun. Yes, it will be interesting to see what comes of it all!

  14. mari on July 20, 2014 at 8:37 pm

    Oh Jean…this is my style! How wonderful that I found your refashion skills! I sew, so making clothes is not a problem for me, but been derailed from my purpose of not purchasing anything for a year…this is harder :=(

    Thank you so much for sharing.


    • Jean on July 21, 2014 at 12:11 am

      Hey Mari! Yes, one reason I love Pao is because she threw down the gauntlet, so to speak. I don’t know of anyone else in our sphere who presented the challenge of not buying anything, but refashioning what we already own!! Turned my head around!! I’m still reeling from her commitment and artistry.

  15. Pam@over50feeling40 on July 21, 2014 at 8:48 am

    You are so inspiring with how you re-fashion things, Jean. Such a talent. Have a wonderful week …keep smiling and creating!

    • Jean on July 21, 2014 at 11:39 am

      Thank you Pam!! Your comment has already made me smile today.

  16. Beate on July 21, 2014 at 9:45 am

    happy writing!

    • Jean on July 21, 2014 at 11:40 am

      XXOO :-)

  17. Vix on July 21, 2014 at 1:56 pm

    A fantastic tribute to a wonderful woman. Pao and you are both inspirations with your makings and creatings. xxx

    • Jean on July 21, 2014 at 10:27 pm

      You know you’re part of our tribe, too!! I still have to make those patchwork curtains. :-)

  18. Veshoevius on July 25, 2014 at 3:11 am

    What a wonderful skirt! I can’t believe you made that you clever lady! Despite the mix of ethnic influences something about it feels very Edwardian – maybe it’s the denim frock coat worn over with it. I have an old denim frock coat languishing somewhere – you’ve inspired me to think about how I could restyle it up to start wearing it again xx

    • Jean on July 25, 2014 at 10:52 am

      Yes, I can see the Edwardian component too. Hadn’t thought of that! I love the silhouettes from the early 1900’s, especially between 1915-1924 when skirts were still longer but waistlines were loosening up. I have a book of fashion drawings by Erte that are a constant source of inspiration, too. Would love to see what you do with your piece!!

  19. shawna on July 26, 2014 at 10:43 pm

    You are just so stunning! Not only are you a beautiful woman but you are so talented and I am in awe! I don’t have the personality to be dramatic in my style, though I am more dramatic than most of my family and peers. That actually seems rather sad-lol. Anyhow, I just enjoy looking at you and your creations and live vicariously!

    • Jean on July 26, 2014 at 11:13 pm

      It’s all relative and, like you, I’m the most dramatic amongst my family and peers! Funny thing is, I FEEL conservative! I like blogging because it lets me know I’m not alone. Hopefully we’ll keep expanding our horizons! XXOO

  20. Señora Allnut on August 14, 2014 at 7:38 am

    dear lady, you’re awesome, love your artistic approach to fashion and how you’ve created something fabulous!, it’s like a Klimt painting!!, love your skirt, and love that amazing coat!
    you’re gorgeous and inspiring!!

    • Jean on August 16, 2014 at 3:58 pm

      I love the reference to Klimt, and I can see it now that you’ve pointed it out. Thank you so much!! XXOO

  21. Glenda @ So What to Twenty on August 17, 2014 at 6:27 pm

    You are enormously clever. I’m in love with the mermaid skirt! I’m always amazed at how you put your patterns together. I wish I were braver in this area.

    • Jean on August 17, 2014 at 6:57 pm

      I guess it’s mostly trial and error. :-)

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