Saturday, December 26, 2009

{WINTER HOODSCARF HALTERS!} don't layer hate... congradulate!

WINTER HOOD SCARF HALTERS! Perfect winter top layer, warm fabrics, facinating combinations of textile textures. xoxo, madam chino
or Saturdays at
Madam Chino's LOOK NOOK!
100A east Pleasant Street
Milwaukee WI 53212

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


You have an Itinerary, but do you have a MYtinerary ANNUAL PLANNER?

MYtinerary ANNUAL PLANNER, 2nd ED!

Written and Illustrated by Vanessa Andrew
Published by Penny $pencer INK!
Milwaukee WI 53212

-Fill in your Own DATES
-Hand-bound by the ARTIST
-Printed LOCAL to the artist
-56 unique Two-Spread weekly Layouts with lots of room to write!
-Each week includes a 1/2 sheet MEMO box
-Each week uses classic tab look,
-with grey tone fade out imagery in boxes
-black and white imagery in borders
-12 Month spreads in the beginning of the book
-Blank Annual Dates spread in the beginning for your reference
-Myinfo page
-Hand cut, folded and Machine Sewn Folder
-Hand cut dovetail Ribbon Placeholders
-A Green Sanford roller PEN in the BINDING!

Check out all the spread looks in their flickr set

ALSO, check out the Penny Spencer LOG BOOK Organizer or BLANK Tabby NB's as a perfect Organizer match!


Its always funny when you google your name and find new things! For example, little ocean and i were both mentioned in this article by cortney heimerl ,one of the writers of Handmade Nation

Also, I found Cricket Toes a blogger lady who was promoting my classes for me! WHAT A DOLL!

Then theres an article with an interview I can't remember doing in Front Page Milwaukee about Earth Week, one of the busiest times of year for me!

More info on the Recycadelic Pspring Runway Show called Rainbows and Drums with photos i've never seen, in the uwm post, what a GREAT ARTICLE, and very interesting to read another persons interpretation on my style:)

now, as for me, i think i won't be able to forget how to post a hyperlink ever again!

madam chino

{LOOM ROOM!} Installation at Rochambo Lounge...

5Q: Five questions for Vanessa Andrew, by Erin Petersen

Milwaukee native Vanessa Devaki Andrew is an artist, writer, seamstress extraordinaire and general Janet of All Trades. A founding member of Fasten Co-Op, she’s been creating original, environmentally conscious garments under her Madam Chino label for the past six years. On Dec. 5, she’ll be opening Madam Chino’s Look Nook, a one-of-a-kind gallery and boutique. TCD’s Erin Petersen caught up with this bon vivant to chat about the space, DIY culture and the battle between handmade vs. mass-produced items this holiday season.

1. How long have you been designing and making clothes?

Before I started making clothes, I was sort of at the pinnacle of “anti-fashion.” In high school, I figured that high fashion equated with vanity, and I wanted to make sure that my friends liked me for who I was and not for what I looked like. I started to combine as many styles as I could as a way to symbolically cross-reference any and every style simultaneously in hopes to negate any one of them. At the time, I didn’t realize that I was using fashion in an attempt to make a point and for self-expression.

At 19, I began tailoring my own garments. I realized that there was a reciprocal determinism between what you feel like and what you look like. Using clothing as a tool of communication can transform the wearer to new states of awareness and consciousness. This happens when the wearer’s confidence and sense of self are increased through this amazing process of expression. Enough philosophy though, I became Madam Chino in 2003. As Madam Chino, I create reconstructed garments, mostly dresses and T-shirts on which I screen print my drawings, as well as hooded sweatshirts and flannels. I also design patterns from scratch and use vintage fabrics in my creations.

2. What drew you to the DIY movement, and how has that informed your designs?

DIY encompasses my value system. It’s eco- friendly, accessible and utilitarian. Besides wanting to make people feel good about themselves, I also realized that reclaiming old clothing could stop them from being buried and could also circumvent new materials extraction and fabrication. This was socially responsible! I use my old clothes, hand-me-downs or thrifted items. The empowerment of DIY has also informed my work through teaching and helping others DIT (Do-It-Themselves). I have self-published in Milwaukee by Penny Spencer INK!, a line of handwritten and illustrated “You-Torials” for sewing and screen printing that I also use in my “No-Sweat Sewing” classes at the UWM Studio Arts and Crafts Center.

Eventually though, DIY is about rerouting living wages back into the hands of the the makers, not the just the distributors. We can recreate non-factory amenities and make them out of recycled goods, add a creative twist and sell them affordably — all while getting folks to buy locally!

3. Tell me about the Look Nook — why did you decide to open your own space, and what can people expect?

At the Look Nook, I can keep my overhead low and my inventory by my side — it makes more sense to avoid high consignments in other local venues. I can live the dream utilizing my skills and regain my sense of community. I am more of a humanist than a capitalist. The small shop is artistically curated to appear as an outdoor scene! The clothing and other wares are colorful, yet displayed as collections to provide a clean, natural feel. I’m also using the space to hostess a number of other fun events, like “Darn IT!” clothing repair club, clothing swaps and Craft Nights of various themes on a bi-monthly basis. Everything will be posted on my website and also published to Facebook .

4. Any new designs or featured items for the grand opening?

I am currently expanding my inventory to include smaller accessory items and housewares, such as coin purses, zip clutches, denim utility purses, light switches, barrettes, patches, stickers, headbands, belts, bracelet cuffs, gloves, hats, you name it. Each week, Madam Chino will release a new small collection that will be available online and in the Look Nook’s showcase.

In clothing forms, I am taking my most fluid designs and recreating them as collections. I am also speaking with various, local artist friends to create small lines with a very affordable consignment for display starting in January.

5. So, the Look Nook is opening during the busiest shopping season of the year. How would you say the space stacks up against, say, a day at the mall?

The Look Nook is tiny in comparison to a mall, but no less interesting! You can get your picture taken looking through the peep hole and see it posted on my flickr (just like sitting with Santa!). I’ve been working on broadening my range and branding my line. That, in addition to a variety of items, while using recycled and vintage fabrics, lends itself to an eclectic feel. Plus, items purchased at the Look Nook will always maintain a level of handmade authenticity that is not available at the mall.

Madam Chino’s Look Nook is located at 100 E. Pleasant St., on the third floor of The Fortress. Hours: Saturdays from Noon – 6 p.m. or by appointment.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Hot COATure!

Handmade Madam Chino designer coats from scouted vintage fabrics! Any way you CUT IT, you can't cut class when you look this CLASSY. more photos at, or get one at

Friday, November 20, 2009


Unique uniforms and uncommon costume, made-to-measure! Learn to sew, No-Sweat! Produce personalized patterns (both busts and bottoms) to suit silhouettes with fresh fabrics or appropriate preexisting apparel. Texturize your textiles with surface structure. Originate your own ornimental opulence and focus on favorite features! Distinctive designer duds will be displayed on the Recycadelic Runway during Earthweek in the UWM Union.


Friday, November 13, 2009

PRESS RELEASE: "Madam Chino's LOOK NOOK" Designer Showroom opening in the Milwaukee Fortress Building


"Madam Chino's LOOK NOOK" Designer Showroom opening in the Milwaukee Fortress Building

Contact: Vanessa Andrew, Clothier and Self-Publisher
Address: 100 A. East Pleasant Street 3rd Floor
Phone: 414-303-1981
Business Hours: Saturdays 12pm-6pm or by appointment

Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Attention peddlers, pushers, and peephole lookers: after a stitch in time, on Saturday December 5th 2009 Madam Chino, co-founder of Fasten Co-OP, presents "Madam Chino's LOOK NOOK," a short stop shop that doesn't stop short; utilizing every nook and cranny to tickle your eyelids with third-hand and hand-made clothing, crafts, books, vintage fabrics and maker's-supplies.

Every Saturday betwixt Noon and 6pm, Madam Chino's LOOK NOOK will open the doors of 100A East Pleasant Street. Appointments for viewings and coffee/tea are also welcome by emailing

Opening the glass doors on this pleasant street will take you up three flights of stairs to the third floor corridor, through which you will immediately come upon a small inviting portal into the the tiny room of wonder.

Madam Chino's LOOK NOOK features locally handmade inventory by Madam Chino and Friends, with new items weekly. Online synchronicity and shipping is available if you can't make it into the shop. Items range in price from $5 to $350. Cash, credit and PayPal are accepted.

Madam Chino offers interesting classes and events through the Madam Chino Factory as well as the UWM Craft Centre. Some spotlight bi-monthly events include "The Earring Club," and "'Darn It!' Clothing Repair Club."

Sign up for the email list to receive more crafty details by emailing Shop online at Check out classes at the craft centre online at or email to be put on the email list and receive a monthly newsletter with the LOOK NOOK current events!


Thursday, June 4, 2009


Holy mother of love, i just invented this hilarious idea that long sleeves could be worn as pockets, which is way better because now they are optional! and they carry things!

This design transformation could also be applied to short sleeve shirts, cut just past the neckline and through the shoulders, applying the entire circumference to the waistline of another shirt, and tucking them in for POCKETS, oh yeah, you have to sew them shut though!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Penny Spencer INK!

One part how-to, one part visual art
Madam Chino brings you fashion instruction you can do yourself
By Cortney Heimerl
Published: March 26th, 2009 | 1:10pm

How many crafting guides can you find on your bookshelf? If your answer is many, you are in good company. Artists, crafters, and makers alike scavenge local second-hand stores to discover new techniques via vintage books – searching for the common knowledge of yesteryear that will inspire her to learn, create, and innovate a veteran’s making repertoire. If you feel like bypassing the legwork to find your inspiration, you can directly click to find Madam Chino’s YOU-torials – hand-illustrated guides on crafting techniques. She has been drawing them for the last three years and just recently began to compile them into zines and make them available online.

Vanessa Andrew, the talented lady behind the fashion design label Madam Chino and Penny Spencer Press, decided that she was going to illustrate the techniques she acquired creating her own clothing line. “I was thinking that I could take techniques that I have learned from here or there and draw them with the same DIY ethic that I use when creating clothes.” What emerged was a library of instructions that accentuates handmade: her artwork doubles as a method to spread her vision of creating with your hands.

The YOU-torials outline each step in a comic book style, moving the reader through the process with little arrows, tips to ease the work, and tiny helping hands that appear when assistance might be needed to complete the maneuver. The YOU-torials are created for the reader to take the information and build on it. She doesn’t waste time on templates that will produce the same product over and over – she gives you basic tools and information and then lets you run with it. From beginner information on sewing machine anatomy, threading, and explanations on different sewing machine feet to advanced draping techniques, smocking and closures, fabric flowers, bead rings and hats, each YOU-torial only takes up one sheet of paper making even the hardest technique completely underwhelming and very attainable.

“I think that people are transforming their way of looking at things. The DIY attitude is empowering. People are inspired to create really amazing things and come to the table with really amazing ideas themselves,” says Andrew. “The reason I am continuing to do this is because I want to be involved in something that is socially responsible.” Recycling holds a prominent place within the illustrations. They encourage you to reconstruct, reuse vintage materials, or just look in your closets and drawers for raw materials. A simple t-shirt can be reformulated into something completely unique by dealing with simple geometry, fractions, and anthropometrics – all outlined in basic terms through the YOU-torials.

Andrew emphasizes that clothing doesn’t have to be about vanity, and rich people who can afford fancy clothes aren’t the only ones who get to look good. Making things on your own is about self-expression and feeling good about yourself. “Clothing can transform you by making you look really comfortable in your body. The whole body image thing is a big topic for people who are impacted by media and I have found that wearing things that I feel good in makes me look even better.”

Although Andrew has her own clothing label that she sells at a local Milwaukee boutique called Fasten and two Etsy stores, Madam Chino’s Shop and Penny Spencer’s Shop, she still feels that sharing her secrets is as significant as selling her clothes. “I think that it is more important that people make things themselves than for them to buy my stuff, and that is why I am willing to share tricks. As far as sales go, hopefully giving away secrets will be good advertising.”

View more of Madam Chino’s YOU-torials online at


Madam Chino!
Im online!


I have worked withthe fabulous Susanne Carter of Carter Productions on her Improscaping Production, with a handful of costumes

You can watch the whole series of Improscapes at

Susanne was actually my college advisor in the visual arts program and sought me out after I graduated to collaborate on the project.

I designed the costumes in her living room while watching her dance. They reflect the feeling of the music and the humor behind body image. Challenges that dance costumers face include working with the idea of movement or restricted movement in the dance and catalysing the mood of both the concept and the music.


Oh, besides the banana costume for which i still don't have images of, this is Zink The Spotted Zebra, a costume for the Gilda's Club, who now lives in San Francisco!

Her eyeball is just the back of a plastic spoon!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

more talk! with madam chino

1. How long have you been sewing/designing, and how did you become interested in making your own garments/accessories?

I was 19 When I realized that caring about one's own appearance was not a function of vanity, but of self-expression, and I decided to start tayloring my own garments. I realized that there was a reciprocal determinism between what you feel like and what you look like. The value of the expression is that it brings inner feelings to the outer world, but also, by virtue of using clothing as a tool of communication, can transform the wearer to new states of awareness and consciousness. This happens when the wearer's self-confidence and sense of self are increased through this amazing process of expression.

2. Do you use recycled materials in your designs? If so, what? Where do you obtain materials to use?
I was hesitant to begin a "career" in fashion because I didn't want to support an industry so full of vanity and social irresponsibility. Besides wanting to make people feel good about themselves through expression, What finally gave me the "go" was realizing that reclaiming old clothing was not only stopping them from being buried, but could circumvent new materials extraction, fabrication, and transportation. This was socially responsible! I use my old clothes, clothes that are handed down to me, or thrifted items.

3. Our grandmother’s generation applied the “wear it out, use it up, make it do, or do without” theory in uncertain economic times. Do you see a resurgence of D.I.Y. with recycled materials in today’s economy?

A new word that I've learned is "upcycling" which is basically taking what materials already exist and making them "better." Like: a better fit, and new shape, a marraige of preexisting materials, where the old forms are not completely dissolved before the construction.

"Necessity is the mother of invention" is another good theory, and I see that this works for people of low economic status because of the pressure to find creative solutions to everyday problems. This is enjoying "simple luxury" which is worth more than money can buy! It's priceless! I hope that people can focus on that, not giving up their good taste, but finding new ways to fulfill it.

4. Has making your own clothing/accessories saved you money?

Yes, it saves money, by not buying anything new, using what i have and making it better, and by earning money by changing the value of them.

I wear the items that I make from my old clothes, that have little flaws in the fabric, and put to market the items that are perfect.

5. What are your thoughts on D.I.Y. as an alternative to the sweatshop garments that dominate big-box chain stores and malls?

It has always been our hope that if people didn't buy our garments and adornments, that they would make it themselves, and we offer to teach them. Buying a socially responsible locally-made item that costs the same or more than a mall made item has positive effects for the individual integrity, community, local economy, and environment. Also, vintage fabrics are of higher quality, increasing the longevity of the new item.

6. What advice do you have for people interested in learning the art of D.I.Y. and saving money by creating their own clothing/accessories?

Even without a sewing machine, a dress form, and years of exprience or classes, one can enjoy changing "how" it is worn. Clothing is less important than how you "style" it. I like to use the example where, if you have a big zit, rather than laboring to cover up, simply put on bright red lipstick to change the focal point. Dissolve the boundaries set in place by simple semantics, and begin viewing skirts as shirts, underwear as outerwear, pants as sleeves, or shirts as dresses. For clothing, simply wearing a belt in just the right spot can transform the purportions and length of garments without any sewing.

Anything you see, you could make or style, but the materials might not be as fancy. However, the expression is visible in the purportions.