Redesigning Denim

Do you ever think about the counter-couture fashions of the counter-culture of the 1960s & 70s? [Or, as my professor describes it, hippie 101.] You’d love my class this quarter. We’re learning about clothing as a means of revolutionary expression through the lens of rock&roll, funk, punk, sex, drugs, war, anti-war sentiments—everything. Sidetone: It’s so interesting be learning alongside people so much younger than me. Our teacher asked everyone who’d heard of the Draft to raise their hands. Not all the hands were up! That’s wild!

This project is essentially pretending to enter Levi’s Denim Contest from back in 1974. Our job is to find something pre-existing and make it something else, indicative of ourselves by means of embroidery, painting, appliqué, additive / fusion, subtractive / cutout, etc. like the characters in our required reading, Native Funk & Flash. I’m inspired by the stories in this treasure trove. There are tales of drug-smuggling and there are winged penises. There’s also incredible millwork, if you’re a millwork-enthusiast like me.


Follow along with this project! It’ll be fun. Remake something schnazzy for yourself. You deserve it.

First, power through 50 [8 ½”x11″] sketches of ideas of possible future denim creations. This got painful after about 30, but keep at it! I drew up outlandish headdresses (that may very well be future projects wink*nudge) and more realistic ideas based on items I already own. When I hit a wall, I hit the thrift shop. I stopped in on Value Village and found this structured stretchy denim jacket with a wonderful problem: it’s too big. YASSS honey! Come home with me. We shall make beautiful fashion together.

To bridge the gap between ideation and physical creation, we take a closer look at our ideas, creating at least 5 [11″x17″] iterations. Not sure why exactly, but I took this opportunity to try digital illustration for the first time, focusing on two main ideas:

This incredible pair of shorts. They came from H&M‘s Label of Graded Goods (L.O.G.G.) line back when I worked there and I enjoyed that  fresh-off-the-truck quality check. Just by feel, you could tell something was different about these shorts. The denim is supple, but thick and has a generous stretch, they’re not just washed indigo, but also floral printed and slightly longer than your average denim shorts and also cuffed at the leg which gives us even more fabric to work with. Just pure perfection. Anyway, I wore them every (warm-enough-in-Seattle) day for two years until what some may describe as crotch blowout happened.

I don’t know if I can use that phrase, though. Sounds…weird.

But even as Spring turns to Summer I miss these shorts, so this is a perfect opportunity to attempt reinvigorating them.

Denim Drawing_1_LaceSweepSkirt

Also thought through some ideas for the jacket. My plan is to attempt both projects and whichever sucks the least will be my midterm.

What do you think? The final projects will likely be combinations of these ideas, but we’ll have to see. So far I’ve ripped the seams, so it’s truly a blank canvas.

Post your befores in the comments below and / or #wraysofsunshine on Instagram so I can see your projects! And stay tuned for the next part of this adventure, coming soon.

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Redesigning Denim Image from Levi’s Denim Contest accessed 4/17/16Welfare (Winner: Levi’s Denim Art Contest), 1974. Photo: Sam Haskins © All Rights. The Sam Haskins Estate 2015. Native Funk & Flash. It is always my intention to link back to the original work referenced on Wrays of Sunshine. Questions about content? Use the contact page! 

Style: Summer Blues

Once upon a time blue was my favorite color. That ship has sailed as I’m all about rich purples and teals and sexy grays these days. Still, there’s something to be said for summer blues. I chose this (oddly lit) wall because I love the design. This storefront was once a Native owned herb shop. I’m not sure if it closed permanently or just moved, but I get the feeling this wall may be gone soon. I just don’t wanna forget, you know.

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Being stuck in the house recovering from surgery has kept me from all the fun hikes and parties and that general freedom of whimsicality that summertime brings. I’m thankful to be up and about. Even if I am wearing an abdominal binder (think unsexy corset). That’s alright, though.

Still cute. 😉

Credits: Dress, Converse All Star. Vintage platforms, thrifted. “Hoot” Earrings, Hurricane Ridge Lodge. Makeup, Bare Minerals, Urban Decay, e.l.f. Hair, Curls products on old, dirty hair

You may have noticed I’ve been falling off the Style wagon the last few months. All my amazing photographer friends are off living amazing photographer lives, but I have a remote for a reason. I definitely need more practice directing myself, but it’s something worth doing. You wouldn’t believe how many people either came up to me or yelled to me from nearby traffic. One guy stopped to say how great that shop once was and that I picked a great spot. Another guy asked me to take his picture, but my battery died. What have we learned? Taking pictures of oneself in public is a great way to make friends.

Unintentional rays of sunshine, amirite?

Brianna Wray Signature

Style 4: LBD at KEXP

I approach each style post as a fun challenge to collaborate and embrace fabulousness. This time around I had the pleasure of meeting the lovely Nataliya Ivanova at the KEXP wall. If you haven’t heard, KEXP is one of the only truly listener-powered radio stations left in America. I can personally say John Richards has gotten me through many a morning. Thank you, sir, so very much. We’re talkin’ Seattle staple here. Classic. Driving into downtown from the north definitely won’t be same once KEXP moves to Seattle Center and presumably takes its killer wall with it. As soon as I heard, a photo shoot became the immediate plan.


This flower clip is my favorite accessory! It never fails to brighten my mood and I receive the nicest compliments about it. If you’d like your own, check out our new site, CatFightCraft. Bethany and I have been building and crafting our little fingers to the bone. More on that later, but feel free to make fascinator/hair clip requests there! We love to customize. I call this one the Showstopper.

Style 4: LBD @ KEXP

If you know me, you know I’m all about a big ass purse. Inside there’s all sorts of goodies, both the helpful and whimsical kind.

Style 4: LBD @ KEXP

Little Black Dress: Gabby Skye (Marshall’s). Hair clip: CatFightCraft Belt: H&M. Bag: Style & Co. Shoes: Naturalizer (thrifted).

Another great style post complete. Thanks a million, Nataliya! Not only is this lady great to work with, but her attention to detail is inspiring. See more of her great pictures here. And thank you Wrays of Sunshine posse for checkin me out.



Style: Sundresses & the Accessories That Love Them

Sundresses and summer go together like chocolate and peanut butter. This one in particular was a lucky score from a thrift store. You ever seen anything so fine for $2.99?Style Blog 2  at Seattle Center

As we drift into August summertime gets this sort-of expiration date haze. I’m all over the place like a madwoman reading new books, visiting cool hotspots, festivals (Seafair this weekend!) and, of course, making stuff. So much to do! But soaking up the sunshine at Seattle Center is always time well spent.

Style Blog 3  at Seattle Center

A big, huge, ginormous thanks to Jared Wade for the amazing photography. Find him on Facebook and buy all of his prints up while you can. And to teamwork in making this shoot so successful. Every style post is a major learning experience (for me, not Jared because he’s a professional, like, ohmygawd), but they’re always more fun and more done when we work together.

Dress: She’s Cool, thrifted. Sweater: Gabriel New York. Gladiators: Target (similar). Belt: H&M. Beaded cuff bracelet: thrifted. Frames: Zenni Optical. Necklace: by me.