Silvia in the Market June 18 2015, 0 Comments

Silvania products from 1974 June 18 2015, 0 Comments

I recently received this email from a very kind customer.

"Reviewing my letters from Peru I wondered if "Silvania Prints" still exists. Well this way I found your shop. I don't know if you are interested, but I send you some pictures of things we bought in 74 and the flyer we got."

Victor and Silvia ca. 1952 May 28 2015, 0 Comments

Real men cut the cake with a machete. My grandparents in New York circa 1952.

Silvania ca. 2003 May 27 2015, 0 Comments

I made this photo album when I was 17. I took this pamphlet from the Miraflores Silvania Prints store in 2003, the year my grandmother closed the business. She was too stubborn to sell it, but I'm glad. She inadvertently saved the business for me. Pictured are Silvia, Ody, Silvania's sewing manager for 40 years, and my aunt Adriana.

Silvia in the Selva (in Silvania), 1950's May 21 2015, 0 Comments

Winter Walk December 12 2013, 0 Comments

winter walk in Portland
winter walk in Portland
winter walk in Portland
winter walk in Portland
Peruvian chullo
Peruvian chullo
Ceterni dress by Silvania,
Alpaca jacket and scarf from Peru
Hand-knit alpaca chullo hat from Centro de Textiles Tradicionales de Cusco
Jewelry by Siri
Tights from Sock Dreams
Boots by Michael Kors

In The Stude: Reinterpreting My Grandmother's Prints December 05 2013, 0 Comments

It might be blasphemy to alter one of my grandmother's famous prints, Llama-Llama, but horizontal lines are hard to wear and a headache to cut for garments.  I do love my grandmothers original, especially the way each hand-drawn llama is ever-so-slightly different if you look closely enough.  I'll bring back the original in the future, but at the moment I'm planning to print shirts and dresses with this design and I want my llamas distributed randomly like a happy herd in the Andes of Peru.  With the help of Illustrator and a random number generator I created a design, then altered the edges of my design so that it would repeat seamlessly.  I took the image to a local silkscreen shop who burned my updated llamas to a screen and then I tested out my print on a new set of business cards.  What do you think?  Which version do you prefer?
Llama llama print by SilviascreenSilvania business cardSilvania business card

In The Stude: Makeup Case Design Process December 05 2013, 0 Comments

I'm prototyping my ideal makeup case.  The end result will end up on my website in hand-printed fabrics so give me feedback and I'll incorporate your advice!  Here's my list of musts:

Small enough to go in my purse.  Large enough to carry my daily makeup essentials.
A zipper top that opens up wide so I can find all my little bits and bobs.  I'm experimenting with curved openings because they stay open when you set them down.
Pockets and elastic to keep things tidy and easy to find.
No plastic lining. Plastic rips over time and I'm going for a makeup case that will last a decade.  Also, plastic is a nonrenewable resource which I'm generally against.  Instead, use two layers of tightly-woven cotton to keep liquids in, even if there's a lotion leak.
Machine washable.  Makeup cases are supposed to get dirty.

Makeup caseMakeup caseMakeup caseMakeup caseMakeup caseMakeup case

I love the way this guy turned out except that the bottom of the case turned out too small after boxing the corners.  What do you think?  The next version you see will be refined, with hand-printed llamas!

In The Stude: How to Tie a Knot Like a Pro November 18 2013, 0 Comments

Once you get the hang of it, this quick trick gives you a nice fat knot.  I use this technique countless times a day during a busy sewing day.
Here's how it's done:
1. Thread your needle.  2. Wrap the your thread around your index and middle finger and hold in place with your thumb.  Keep no more than an inch-long tail of thread under your thumb.  3. Pushing down, roll the thread with your thumb off the tip of your index finger, causing it to twist.  4.You should end up with a loose loop like this.  Make sure your little tail has come through the loop.  5. Pull the tail tight to get your tight knot.  6. Trim excess.
 how to tie a knot for sewing how to tie a knot for sewing how to tie a knot for sewing how to tie a knot for sewing how to tie a knot for sewing

In The Stude: How to Sew a Button Like a Pro November 11 2013, 0 Comments

So You've Lost a Button.  It happens to the best of us.  I like to keep the extra buttons that come on tags of shirts and dresses in my sewing kit.  Being a woman of the fashion trade, I've amassed a large sewing kit but all you need to reattach a button is the simplest sewing kit you would find at the pharmacy or some grocery stores.  If you've lost your button, take your garment with you to your local fabric shop to find the closest match.
This is how I learned to sew buttons from my grandmother's seamstress in Peru.  You'll need slightly different instructions for a four-hole button, but the basics are the same.
Step One. Assemble your arsenal:
Thread Choose your thread color to match what was used for the other buttons on the garment.  Sometimes the color matches the button, other times it matches the color of the fabric.  Ultimately, whatever looks good.  Go for cotton or polyester.
The button A couple things to check - is it a two-hole or a four-hole button?If it's a four-hole button, click here for a diagram of how to sew it crisscross. Does the button have a shank?  A shank is a post on the back of the "hole-less" button.  If your button has a shank, omit step 10.
Scissors Any old scissors will do.
A needle Your needle will have to be smaller than your button holes which is generally pretty small.
A pencil A good ol' fashioned wooden pencil like this one works best.  
The missing button.
Step 2. Button up your garment and lay it flat.  Here, the scissors point to the button hole of the missing button.  See how flat and straight the button placket is?  You'll want your garment just like this so that your garment doesn't gap when you wear it.  
Make your mark.
Step 3. Make your mark.  Guess or measure to find the center of the button hole.  Twist your pencil a few time to make a dot at the center, and check to make sure you've made a visible dot.
Step 4. Thread your needle.  Give yourself about a foot of thread, double stranded.  If you make it much longer, you're likely to get tangled up.  Much shorter and you'll have trouble tying knots.  Cut your thread and tie a knot at the end.
Step 5. Make an anchor knot.  Okay.  Now even though you just made a knot at the end of your thread, we're going to make a double knot on the fabric to create a secure anchor for your button.  Push your needle through your dot, picking up just a few threads, pulling until the knot in your thread catches.
Step 6. Make an anchor knot, cont.  Now do that again - push the needle back through the same spot but this time catch the thread so that it makes a loop.  Pull the needle around and through the loop and pull tight...
Sew a knot.
Step 7. Now do it again.  Your new knot should look like this just before you pull it tight.  Now make a second knot in the same place to make your anchor secure.
Step 8. Button time. Excellent.  String your button on just like this.  Again, if you have a four-hole button, click here to see how to thread that guy.
Step 9. Actually attaching the button.  Okay, so now your button is threaded.  Check out your other buttons to see how their holes are aligned.  On my shirt, my buttons' holes are aligned vertically.  It sounds complicated but all you have to know is that you control how your button is positioned with this first stitch onto your garment.  I want my button's holes to be aligned up and down, so I'm going to push my needle through the shirt slightly below my anchor.  Pull the thread all the way through to the inside and then push the needle in slightly above my anchor point.  Pull your thread all the way through.  Repeat this step twice, following your first pathway as best you can, so that you've gone through the button and the garment three times total.  
Step 10. Making a shank (skip this step if your button already has a shank (ie a post on the back)).  You've attached the button to your garment three times.  Now pull your thread so the button is on there tight.  Take the thread in your hand and tightly wrap it around the button five times.  You have just created a shank!  The shank makes the button sit a little bit above the fabric.
Step 11. Make another double knot.  Now you're going to repeat steps 5 through 7 to make a double knot underneath the button.  This is where my button sewing differs from lots of people who would make their final double knot on the inside of the garment - the part that would rub against your skin.  But my teacher showed me that by making all your knots on top of your fabric, you hide them all under your button and all you see on the inside of the garment is clean little stitches.
Step 12.  Button up.  Pat yourself on the back.
Want fabulous little pearls of wisdom like this one sent directly to your inbox?  I can make that happen!  Click here and type in your email address. 
Want to know more about the lovely Mochica Blouse with mother of pearl buttons featured in these photos?  Take a look.

In The Stude: The First November 07 2013, 0 Comments


Georgia and HuckGeorgia and HuckHuck 



Georgia's scarf

Georgia's scarf

Hi, I'm Georgia and this is my main squeeze, Huck. This is my first post about my fashion design adventures in my studio aka The Stude.

It's raining here in Portland. This is our look post dog park, which was extremely muddy. I love this scarf. I stole it from my grandmother's closet.

Aunt Victoria October 10 2013, 0 Comments

I'm fresh off the plane from Europe, where I spent two weeks visiting friends and family from Rome to London.  One of many inspiring moments of the trip was flipping through my aunt Victoria's modeling portfolio while hearing stories about her from my cousin Phillippe.  She's precisely the kind of woman who inspires me to design; strong, smart, and adventurous.  She left modeling to become a neurobiologist at a laboratory in Paris.  An animal lover, she collected unusual pets including a lizard who made its home in her Paris apartment bathroom.

Victoria von Hagen on Vogue cover

Victoria von Hagen

Victoria von Hagen Vogue cover

Victoria von Hagen

Victoria von Hagen

Victoria von Hagen

Victoria von Hagen

Victoria von Hagen

Victoria von Hagen

Victoria von Hagen

Celebrate Silvania's New Portland Home at Queen Bee September 18 2013, 0 Comments

Queen Bee has revamped its shop and has become Silvania's Portland home.  Join me, the Queen Bee staff, and bunch of local design friends to celebrate the new space.  You are welcome to check out the Silvania work studio which I share with fellow designer Heather Treadway.  Plus, you'll see Queen Bee's Fall collection, enjoy treats from Dragonfly Chai, get crafty and invite your wee ones to get crafty too, and shop the newly expanded offerings of clothing and goodies.  More details at the Facebook event page:

Queen Bee, 3961 N Williams Ave, Portland, Oregon 97227
Friday, September 20th from 5pm to 9pm

Callería July 23 2013, 0 Comments

My grandmother, Silivia, created Silvania Prints in 1958 after falling in love with the ancient artwork left behind by long-gone artists that surfaced in modern Peru as 'artifacts'.  Taking inspiration from textiles, ceramics, and the Nazca Lines, she sketched her own version of motifs from relics she found in museums and on expeditions throughout Peru.  Her fabrics brought new life to the ancient deities and designs she found, bringing them into the modern world as clothing, curtains, pillows, and purses.  I can't believe my luck in having a catalog of her designs; not only can I keep her memory alive by using her fabrics in my clothing designs, but the legacy of precolonial Peruvian artists spanning two millenia!


When I dreamt up my Silvania revival a few years ago, it occured to me that apart from breathing new life into Peru's ancient art, Silvania ought to do its part to share the living traditional textile arts of Peru with the world.  Partnering with textile artisans has offered me a unique opportunity to help keep traditional crafts alive while supporting indigenous communities.  I recently made this video to show you the origin of the embroidery you find  in Silvania garments, below.  My guide was seven-year-old Jennifer along with her mother, Casilda Isabel, and father, Florencio.  Casilda not only embroiders Silvania garments but recruits sisters and cousins to embroider garments and manages shipments of embroidered fabric to Lima.  She is teaching her daughter Jennifer to embroider 'kené', as this style is called, and hopes her daughter will go to college and become a 'professional woman' one day.  Find more photos of Jennifer, Casilda, and Florencio on our trip to Callería (six hours by boat!) on the Silvania Tumblr.


Left: the Isabel Dress is named after my star embroiderer, Casilda Isabel.  The wrap-around belts were hand-embroidered by Casilda, her sisters, and mother.  

Right: the Naymlap T-shirt depicts the god Naymlap, who rose from the sea and sailed to land on a raft according to Moche legend.  Gold sequins were machine embroidered and filled in with kené hand-embroidery.  If you look closely in Naymlaps crown you will find the initials of the woman who embroidered your shirt!

Silvania and LiFT present Pisco for Peru May 21 2013, 0 Comments

Click here to RSVP.

LiFT Label and Silvania are alike in that they are both social enterprises, meaning social and environmental goals are woven into the fabric of our businesses.  That's why our early celebration of Peruvian Independence Day, albeit from the northern latitude of Ecotrust's Pearl district rooftop, has a social mission at its core.  CARE Peru began in 1953 to increase access to education and healthcare for rural communities across Peru.  What sold me on this organization was their recognition of the important role of educating girls to create thriving communities, sponsoring girls like Eulalia.  All proceeds from our event will go to this great organization.  Please visit their website (in Spanish) here and the Pisco for Peru fundraising page (in English) here to learn more and donate now.

We are very lucky to have talented friends who will donate their ingenuity and resources to support CARE Peru's work (and provide you with an unforgettable night of music, drinks, and rooftop celebration).  Read on for their stories...but first RSVP here!  This free event is filling up fast!

The party will take place on the third floor terrace of the Jean Vollum Natural Capital Center (the Ecotrust building) at 721 NW Ninth Ave, Portland, Oregon, 97209 between 7:00 and 10:00pm.

Martin Zarzar

Martin Zarzar

Born in Lima, Peru, and raised in South America, Europe, and the USA, Martin is a multi-instrumentalist, song writer, and producer who lives in Portland, Oregon. His work includes over 10 years with Pink Martini.  He recently won two Independent Music Awards for his first album, Two Dollars to Ride the Train, and released his second album, Libre.  Check out his music on CD Baby and iTunes!

Las Primas

Las Primas, Spanish for "the cousins" is the North Williams restaurant of real-life cousins Catalina Acuña and Sadie Morrison. They serve food inspired by the fresh, flavorful street food of bustling Lima. They'll serve pisco cocktails and nibbles at the event and you can find them here ( if you can't wait until July 18th!


Ecotrust's mission is to inspire fresh thinking that creates economic opportunity, social equity and environmental wellbeing...from one of the coolest buildings in Portland. Okay, I added that last part. But it's true! Find out why the Ecotrust building (ie the Jean Vollum Natural Capital Center) rocks, here.


Mother's Day Sale May 08 2013, 0 Comments

You only have a few more days to prepare for that special day so you'd better get shopping!  Choose something special for your mama from the Silvania shop and enter promotion code mama2013 now through mother's day to save 20% off your entire order.  Two great options below; the Totora dress and Ceterni dress, both in soft organic pima cotton.

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The New Look February 08 2013, 1 Comment

The ancient messenger of the Inca empire, the chasqui, connected the cultures of ancient Peru by running the Capac Ñan, royal road of the Incas.  Inspiration for the new logo came from one of Silvia's earliest prints of chasqui figures.


The Peruvian postal service released chasqui stamps in the 1970's which helped shape the new logo, as well as the figure Silvia designed for the Inca Highway Expedition. Before she created Silvania Prints, Silvia traveled throughout romote Peru, tracing the ancient Inca highway as the team artist in her early 20's.  The sketches she came back to Lima with became her the first designs she would silkscreen onto fabric.


A map of Capac Ñan adorns the endpapers of Highway of the Sun, written by Silvia's then-husband, Victor von Hagen.  See if you can find it on the Story page.

What do you think of the new logo and online shop?  Tell me below!  (If you don't see the Leave A Comment section, click here and scroll to the bottom.)