“Getting to know you! Getting to know all about you…”

Alrighty. It’s been almost a week since my last blogposting, and that’s far too long for my taste. I have a lot to update you on, and some observations that I have gleaned via my “travels through the blogosphere”.

Remember how I had to set aside that ebook I had been reading, Creating a Blog Audience by Sister Diane? I had reached a point where I didn’t want to progress further until I felt confident to answer some of the questions she was posing. At a certain point in the book, I realized that I didn’t know enough about the blogging communities that I was posting my blog for– art, craft, and business–and I really needed to do some investigating.

Well, I can say with absolute certainty that’s easier said than done. The blogosphere at this point is rapidly increasing, and the more I felt I was visiting “the community”, the more I realized I was simply scratching the surface… I felt (and still feel) that I had reached the outskirts of a major urban hub, and said to myself, “Aha! My community!” when I actually should have waited and read some more signs to realize I had a long way to go… I think that getting to know the community you are writing for as a blogger is a never ending journey… I could visit blog after blog and post comment after comment, but I’ll never reach the end. 2 or 3 years ago, perhaps, there was a finite nature to the whole experience that implied there were edges to the blogosphere community that one could reach, depending on your interest. Not so much today. It’s like saying, “Get to know your internet!” Hah! See ya in 5-10 years when that’s done…

OBIT  KERR

So at this point, I have endless numbers of bookmarks and doubled my blog subscriptions. And I have 30 open browser windows on my Mac’s dock, waiting for me to get back to read them. I keep finding great stuff!!!  The book did exactly what it was supposed to do: make me think about what it was I was putting out there, for whom, and how it fit in.

And that’s led me to realize there probably isn’t much I can add to the fabric of the blogosphere, really. What can I do but what everyone else is doing–“spins” on information that’s already been explored in depth? How many purse tutorials can a person read? Redoing what others are doing is not what I’d like to do…

So. I’ve decided to continue reading Sister Diane’s book, and hopefully I can progress forward on posting information that’s interesting to a specific overlap of my chosen communities. The book has profoundly opened my eyes to the concept that I need to recognize what my niche is. It’s made me realize that my particular “spice” that I add to the recipe of information that I post needs to be uniquely my own. It’s finding and recognizing that niche that I have to think about. And the more I explore the blogosphere, the more I realize those niches are very very hard to come by.

I find a lot of similarities (in my head) between the blogosphere and reality. In the rush of globalization that’s been made possible by mass and social medias, we’ve moved beyond embracing the whole and turned inward a bit. Our instinct is to pull in and find our diverse uniqueness that separates us and makes us distinct. The Handcrafted/DIY movement is part of that, I think. Our individuality as people was lost in the emphasis on our individuality as a culture, and now we’re trying to get it back through our creative expressions. Yes, we need and strive for social connections, but now we seek them not through our identification as part of the whole (by doing/believing the same things) but through our uniqueness that demonstrates our variation on the identifying culture. We want to belong, and yet we celebrate our distinctiveness.

Being part of any blogging community presents a quandary: belonging on the one hand, being different on the other. Being just enough alike, but not a copy.

So I’m going to move forward. I’m realizing I will never see the larger whole of my communities in the blogosphere, never truly grasp how they all fit together, who are the movers and shakers, who are the followers. And I think that means I will never really know if my blog is distinctive from the larger whole that it’s trying to identify with at the same time.

But I guess that’s ultimately like the business, art, and craft worlds, too, isn’t it? Someday, I may find someone doing what I do and doing it much better, or realize someone’s taken what I thought was my own uniqueness and is using it for their own. “Like business, like blog,” I guess.

But I can’t let that stop me, can I?

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Costuming and Fashion: One of these things is not like the other…

Okay this is bit of a long one. Wow, do I have a mouthful to say tonight! And it’s perfect to start out the new direction of this blog. AND it’s all about the latest episode of Project Runway, which aired Thursday, September 24.

The challenge for the designer/contestants was to create a look for a character in one of several movie genres: Western, Film Noir, Period, Science Fiction/Fantasy, and Action/Adventure. It had to be completed in one day, and they had $150.

When I heard the challenge, I thought “Cool! This is right up my alley!”

And then I saw the results, and I was reminded how frustrating it is to be undervalued as a costume designer in the face of the fashion industry.

Tonight’s blog is about the definition of “Costume”. What is a costume, really? Is it a subset of fashion? Is it a matter of degree? Or is it something altogether completely separate?

No. A costume is fashion. However, a costume is much more overtly defined by a purpose and function that fashion doesn’t have to deal with.

First, a costume has a purpose. In a sense, fashion does as well, but not as explicitly defined as a costume’s. A costume is worn as part of a larger, collaborative effort that has a clear purpose: a performance of some kind, whether it’s to a party or as part of a production that’s filmed or live. A uniform is also considered a costume: it clearly delineates a person as a part of a larger whole separate from everyone else.

Second, a costume (unlike fashion) must support the vision of how that purpose is expressed. That may be focused through the eyes of a particular director or team, a studio, a bride, a choreographer, a corporate executive, or even a government.

Third, the costume must meet the dictates of a host of different “parameters” that are inherent to the nature of the expression. Is it a script? A cultural ritual like graduation or a wedding? Is it the impression desired for a fast food restaurant? Or the functionality of camouflage in a combat setting? How much time, money, and personnel is there to assemble it?

My experience is in theatre. My designs are regulated by a host of logistics that I have little, if any, control over. These include the script, the concept of the piece, and the genre. The purpose of the event dictates how those logistics are dealt with–is it better to get the message of the play across by putting it in period or should we place Arthur Miller’s pilgrims from “The Crucible” on the moon? Does the language have a poetic quality that can be abstracted somehow (putting everyone in foam rubber, for example), or do we need to put everyone in Masterpiece Theatre realism?

Fashion doesn’t deal with these quandaries. Instead of a script, fashion deals with the parameters set down by one’s particular “Style Tribe”.

What’s a style tribe? It’s the difference between what the sorority girls wear and the corporate executives. The movie, “Legally Blonde”, was an exercise in demonstrating conflicting style tribes. Tribes are defined by social class, age, gender, climate, politics, philosophies, occassion, or any number of different factors. And there are subsets: colleges have a wide variety of style tribes, including the artists, the stoners, the business students, the jocks, the science geeks, and the aforementioned sorority girls.

Art-Students-005

Each of these tribes comes with a host of what is “appropriate to wear” and what is not. Stepping outside the boundaries of what each tribe has determined as acceptable marks you as “not one of us”. (Incidentally, that’s why clothing can be terribly important to younger folk–fitting in is part of one’s self identity…) New Yorkers dress differently than Southern Californians. The Howells look different from Marianne and Ginger.

Interviewing-partying

You get the point.

The problem with this week’s challenge on Project Runway was that they asked people to design a costume for a character in a movie genre. What they really wanted was a piece of fashion that was influenced by a movie genre.

Two VERY different things.

How?

Let’s look at some movies that can help… These examples are costumes that were influenced by fashion. (Sometimes it’s helpful to look at the opposite situation.)  Please note that it’s a given in the costume design world that before the mid-1970’s, historical accuracy in film was “optional”. Some of our most beloved films that we regard as “period” are far from it.

For example: “My Fair Lady”. That musical is set in March of 1912. But you couldn’t tell that from the costumes: they’re about as 1960’s as you can get! Eliza’s traveling outfit, her Ascot Races dress, even her ball gown are all heavily influenced by the styles and fashions of 1964.

MyFairLadyDressCompare

myfairladysuitcompare

Another example: “Cleopatra”, with Elizabeth Taylor. Are you kidding me? Period accuracy would have warranted an X-rating. No, no, no… There was no such a thing as showing too much skin back in the Egyptian era…

Cleopatra1compare

Cleopatracompare2

These examples below use costuming in a more appropriate manner.  These films purposely mix period styles and contemporary influences into a look all their own: Bladerunner, for example. This is a sci-fi movie that is incredibly influenced by the film noir genre, on purpose, as a choice. So much of it was straight out of the 1940’s it could have been filmed in black and white…

FilmNoirCompare

Or how about Moulin Rouge? Those costumes were purposely enhanced from their period-accurate originals to include splashes of bright, garish colors and contrasting textures. They started with research. They made them non-period when they wanted them to be. They purposely blurred the lines between period accurate representation of historical fashion and created their interpretations of it in costume.

Moulin-Rouge-Compre

Today, genre accuracy in costuming is a highly valued skill: Lord of the Rings, Shakespeare in Love, Mad Men, Titanic, Evita, Memoirs of a Geisha, Elizabeth: The Golden Age, Chicago, Milk, Schindler’s List, Dances with Wolves, Star Wars… All of these have their own parameters of what fits and what doesn’t, most of them dictated by what is appropriate historically or as part of the “vision” that makes the purpose of the film/TV program more clearly evident. It doesn’t have to be “real” or historically accurate, it’s what fits the parameters. Working from accuracy to non-accuracy as a choice. On purpose.

So. What did we get on Project Runway? We didn’t get genre accurate costumes.  We didn’t even get historical fashion with elaboration.  We got contemporary fashion inspired by movie genres. Without a real grounding in costume history, there was no way they could accurately represent these genres. Inevitably, they created “versions” of them that were clearly not accurately part of those genres at all…  Here’s a link to the pics of the final results.

Our contemporary sensibility doesn’t read contemporary-fusion into historical accuracy as a choice. It reads it as inaccurate, or wrong. Only when the degree of debarkation from the original period’s style is clearly strong enough to distinguish the difference do we accept it as a “take” or “interpretation” or “stylization” of what is, in our heads, the “real thing”.

There are too many that know too much to get away with faking it anymore.

I’m not advocating simply replicating the past. What’s the point in that? But what I am saying is that on this particular episode, the purpose/function was not made clear. They were designing for genres as style tribes, not as part of a production. They weren’t designing costumes, they were designing fashions that had costume elements.

It really, REALLY disturbs me that costume is somehow denigrated and considered “lesser than” by so-called fashionistas. Being a costume designer is HARD. You actually work with other people’s ideas and collaborate–a runway dress does not have it’s own opinions. An actor does!! Costuming requires a real operating knowledge of costume and fashion history, and the ability to implement it when appropriate, a lot of people skills and a host of other widely varied skills.

“Too costumey” as an insult? I think not. What about the retro movement? What about the up-cycling/second-hand movement? Goth? Punk? Rockabilly? And what about those Prada shoes that one wears to the office? Dressing up as costuming? Hmmm….

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wondergirls-retro-fashion

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“Costumey” is not synonymous with “inappropriate or overdone fashion”. It is not “too dramatic”, or “fake”. That’s insulting.

What is really at issue is how one personally determines when the degree of “dramatic flair” in one’s fashion sensibility is too much for one’s own taste, situation, etc.

And it’s funny how I look at runway shows today, and all I see is fashion dipping more and more into costuming’s dramatic flair by leaps and bounds, stretching that imaginary line of “appropriateness/too much drama” further and further. Given different defining parameters and purposes and logistics, those clothes would be considered costumes without any changes whatsoever.

It’s all about context.

In a sense, one could say that everything we wear is a costume, and that we pull attire from our closets based on outside parameters every day, depending on what we’re doing, or how we’re feeling, or the weather, or whatever… If anything, it seems to me that fashion is a contemporary subset of costuming, not the other way around.

And that’s my overly long 2¢.

Life life with Relish! And wear that costume well! : )

E-Books and Pondering

I’ve been reeling from a particular e-book that was recently released, written by “Sister” Diane Gilleland of Craftypod fame (www.craftypod.com). It’s called Creating a Blog Audience. It’s the “sequel” to another e-book that she published called Making a Great Blog, and when you put the two together they pack a mind melting whollop that has really made me sit back and ponder stuff. (Incidently, I don’t know why she calls herself “Sister” Diane, but it works. She’s preachin’ good stuff, lemme tell ya!)

First off, let me say that I’ve listened to all of the episodes of Sister Diane’s podcasts, and I can’t recommend it highly enough. I was raving to a colleague about it one day, only to learn that she actually listened to Sister Diane, too! My friend isn’t into the podcast universe as much as I am, so to learn that she had actually heard of it was a real surprise! I download it off of iTunes (I have a Mac computer) and listen to it while I work in my studio. Makes me feel like I’m multi-tasking with the best of them, and actually getting twice as much done!

When I heard that she was releasing this book, I pounced on it and downloaded it and the other blogging book she wrote. Both come with extra “workbook” sheets that let you complete her exercises that she outlines. And those exercises have been incredibly interesting to me.3878035847_8b44d88b8d_o

I read the first book straight through, and loved it. Just to help explain the impact it’s had on me, I now have a poster on my wall by my computer that lists the “reasons I write on my blog”. It’s quite useful in maintaining my focus! I’m now measuring everything I contemplate writing about against those reasons, and it helps me figure out appropriateness, validity, and usefulness.

But the second book really made me sit back and think about stuff, and I’ve had to actually set it aside for a bit because it’s made me realize I have a lot of self-educating to do. In the second chapter, it poses a question: “What kinds of crafts do your ideal audience members like to do?” And that perplexed me. I realized very very quickly, I had very little idea of the kind of crafter/artist I was writing for. I was just “putting it out there” without any real thought behind who might actually be interested in any of it.

And that led me to realize that I don’t spend nearly enough time actually reading other people’s expressions. If I am going to write anything that is relevant and interesting to anyone, I have to know what else is being said, what they’re interested in, and provide a reason why they should read my blog in the first place.

empowering-orthers-to-achieve-successWhich led me back to my reasons on my poster. And it’s slowly starting to sink in that my reasons for writing the blog are rather “self-oriented”. I started this blog to help promote my wearable art business, and I’m coming to see that simply isn’t enough. Who wants to read a blog full of self-aggrandizing advertising? I certainly don’t.

So from here on out, I’m not only going to update you on what I’m working on, but I’m also shifting the focus away from me and more toward things that are interesting in a more practical sense. Philosophy, tutorials, interesting links… Since I’m not teaching theatre anymore, I might as well use that “bank” of resources and share them with you. Things like costume history, pattern drafting tutorials, online costume resources, material resources, small business advice, theatrical crafting materials, period styles and ornament, clothing accessories, theatrical movements, philosophies, art history… I’m excited about making this blog my classroom.

If I can help my blog audience relish their artistic capabilities through lessons, advice, examples, projects, and juicy discussions, then this blog will serve a purpose beyond simply being a tool for me. It can be a tool for you, too.

And somehow, I feel really empowered by that, you know?

How I Sew, Part 4: The Last of the Vest Tutorial

This is Part 4 of my “How I Sew” tutorial on a festive holiday vest.

The previous two installments are here for Part 1 and here for Part 2 and here for Part 3.

Last time, we had jut completed the collar. We were getting ready to sew the lining to the outside fabric!

After pinning it all together along the edges, I sewed, clipped, and graded all the seams, making sure to carefully trim out all the points that would be turned in (getting rid of all the excess fabric can help prevent lumpiness and increase the sharpness of the corners) and all the curves were appropriately clipped (so they would actually turn where they are supposed to and lay flat).

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Pin Pin Pin...

Stitching directions

Stitching directions

After that’s completed, a quick check of the center front would be a good idea. On plaid fabrics, or any print that has a clear “line” in it, one should make sure that the center front closure is lined up properly. Having a line that doesn’t go straight up and down can look sloppy. The lines in the fabric need to be the same distance from the edge of the center front fold all the way up and down the front, otherwise it will look as if the stitching didn’t follow the line (regardless of whether it did or not). If it doesn’t work, open up the center front seam line, and try adjusting it. At this point, you can follow the print of the fabric if you’re not more than a 1/4″ away from your drawn stitch line. Any more than that and it’ll look very odd…

"Straight line, Ladies and Gentlemen!  Single file!"

"Straight line, Ladies and Gentlemen! Single file!"

Once the inside lining and the outside fabric are together, turned out, and pressed, we attack the shoulders.

Sew them up so the neckline is open. You don’t want to sew up the neck because we need to insert the collar later.

Shoulder Seam Pinning

Shoulder Seam Pinning

If you haven’t already (and it’s a good idea to do so way back when you cut out your pieces) stay stitch the necklines, and clip. You’ll then pin the neck to the outside of the vest only, not the lining.

Neckline Shmeckline

Neckline Shmeckline

A Mistake

A Mistake

Once that’s done, it gets sewn, and then clipped and graded. The lining fabric gets pulled up, clipped, turned under, and slipstitched to the stitching line that was just sewn.  The picture below is  one that I took in the middle of a mistake–I was going to pin it to the lining instead of the outside layer.  Don’t let that happen to you…  Make sure you pin the collar to the outside layer.

Hand sewing is easier when you use beeswax on your thread. It makes the thread stiffer and doesn’t allow it to twist up on itself as easily.

A Hand Sewing Necessity: Beeswax

A Hand Sewing Necessity: Beeswax

Thread with Body is Better

Thread with Body is Better

After finishing the collar, we finally turn our attention to the buttonholes. Placing these can be done with a pattern guide, an expandable button placer, or just by measuring. Since I was working with a plaid, I had to follow the dictates of the pattern of the fabric, so I placed my buttons accordingly on lines (and between lines) down the center front.

Most home machines come with instructions to do buttonholes. If not, pick up a handy sewing guide and follow those instructions.

Buttonholes!  Almost done!

Buttonholes! Almost done!

Transfer your marks on one side to the other, and sew on your buttons.

Button. Button! Who's got the Button?

Button. Button! Who's got the Button?

And Voila!!! The vest is done! We did it!!

Taa Daaa!

Taa Daaa!

There are some general principles that I should share with you regarding sewing that I follow as good practice:

1) Press as you go. Nothing makes a garment look more homemade than a lack of a good pressing job. Garments look much much better when you take the time to constantly press your fabric while you are in process.

2) Use a sharp sewing needle on your machine. Part 2 has a picture of what happens when you don’t use a fresh needle.

3) Grading can reduce bulk. Cutting all the seams so they don’t lay on top of each other at the same distance can prevent ugly lumps.

4) Being careful and going slowly is better than plowing through things.

Okay, I think that’s it for now! More about what’s happening in Relished Artistry soon! Have fun, and live life with Relish!

How I Sew, Part 2: A Vest Tutorial

I touched a little upon my sewing process in a previous post called “How I Sew, Part 1”. Well, now I’m going to get a bit more detailed, because it dawned on my that this new vest project could be perfect to use as a tutorial. Those of you who may not be incredibly interested in sewing may find this post a complete and utter bore. But for those who are curious, this might be useful to you (hopefully).

I’ve been snapping pictures along the way as I work through each step. This particular post has a lot of pictures, because as I discuss details, I need visuals. So it may seem a bit longer than most posts.

First off, I have to say this vest is modified from one found in a commercial pattern package: Simplicity #2566.  While I can make my own patterns, I don’t really want to unless I have to, so this was a lot easier. I traced the pattern size that I needed onto paper (leaving out the seam allowances inherent to each pattern piece–I prefer to add my own.  See Part 1 for more info on that…) and proceeded to lop it into pieces…

Choose What You Want

Choose What You Want

Below is a picture of what my finished pattern looked like when I was done. I added a collar, extended the shoulder seam, and cut many of the pieces into halves… I also created a facing piece for the lining along the center front button closure on the inside.

Adjust your Pattern

Adjust your Pattern

This process required me to make notches in the new pieces I made, just to make sure that I was lining all the curves up correctly.

I knew what I was wanting–a festive vest with vertical panels in Christmas colors. The pic below is a shot of the fabrics that I chose. Not that the gold fabric is sheer… I would need to mount this to another fabric in order to use it, otherwise my vest lining would show through (or, alternatively, this vest could be worn only at adult oriented Christmas Parties… hehe…). All of the fabrics were actually too flimsy to use on their own. I think they may have actually been drapery fabrics, and so they hang beautifully but have no body whatsoever. All of them would need to be supported somehow.

My Selected Fabrics

My Selected Fabrics

The solution to flimsy fabrics? Flatlining. I would essentially “marry” two different pieces of fabric into one. And that meant finding a fabric to meld onto my fancy outside fabrics that wouldn’t be seen but would bolster it up and make it a bit sturdier. I chose a cheap $1/yard cotton broadcloth. Akin to muslin, it would do the trick. The process is called flatlining, not lining. Lining is a separate piece of fabric that makes wearing easier and more comfortable. This is a structural method.

I took my pattern pieces, laid them out on the cotton (making sure the grain lines match), and traced around each paper guide with a sharp soft lead pencil. Making sure to make little pencil marks where I had cut out all the notches, I then traced around the edges of each pattern 1/2″ away. This was my cut line. I now would have a 1/2″ seam allowance. Finally, I cut each piece out.

I then used transfer paper and a pouncer to transfer the lines on one piece of fabric to the second piece of fabric underneath it. Voila! You have a left side and a right side! My transfer paper is red, and it’s mounted to a piece of poster board for easy use. My pouncer is flat, so it creates solid lines. I use paper weights and cups to hold down my patterns, or I simply pin the paper to the fabric.

Pouncing Lines

Pouncing Lines

The next step is the hard one, and you need good eyes. But it’s a REAL time saver. Instead of tracing each layer out separately, I simply take my newly marked flatlining and place it on the fancy fabric. The trick is to make sure the grain lines match up… What’s a grain line you ask? It’s the direction of the threads. If the flatlining and the fancy fabric don’t line up with the same direction, the two pieces won’t behave nicely, and they’ll sorta fight. (My analogy about marrying to the two pieces together isn’t so far off, but there isn’t an option for counseling in the fabric world…). The edge of the fabric is indicative of the direction of the grain.

The picture below is comparing the grain line of a flatlining piece with the grain of the fabric underneath it by using the edge to see if it’s laid down straight. The direction of the threads in the flatlining should match the directions of the fabric, and I measured out from the edge at the top of my flatlining piece and at the bottom, making sure they were the same distance from the edge. Otherwise, if they were off (even by a little bit) the pieces wouldn’t fit, and the next step would be a nightmare.

Grain Lines

Grain Lines

It’s important to make sure that your flatlining pieces were cut out following each pattern piece’s indicated guideline. If they weren’t you’re setting yourself up for trouble even before you get to laying them out on your fancy fabric.

Pinning is also important. I pin the two pieces together along the stitch line, crossing it. Some people pin their flatlining along the stitch lines. I find that problematic at this stage, cuz I just wanna get these two pieces together without having to care about taking the pins out as I sew… So I pin them together so I don’t have to take the pins out at all… Lazy? Maybe. Time saving? Definitely!

You’ll notice in the picture below that I use quilting pins. I like them. They have the plastic head that make them easy to pic up with my stubby “man-fingers”, and they’re long, thinner, and usually sharp. I find they work with a wider variety of fabrics than the traditional shorter pins used for sewing, because they’re simply easier to handle. I also have a specific pair of sheers for cutting delicate fabrics. While it would be nice to use one pair of sheers for all purposes, sometimes those big honkin’ 12″ cutters are too big to wield easily for floaty wafting fabrics that demand a softer touch.

Needles and Pins!

Needles and Pins!

Now I had to deal with that sheer metallic fabric I chose. Backing it with a second fabric, I cut out that piece, placed it on my sheer, and cut those out first before I pinned my flat lining to it. Seemed easier to me that way.

Notice the grid created by the red and green stripes. How weird would it look if they weren’t symmetrical on the body? Or if one panel ran in one direction and the other panel on the other side of the body ran in a different direction? Probably not so fashionably kosher. “Like, how homemade lookin’, dude!” So a little attention to lining up the grain line and making sure both pieces are exactly the same will save a lot of embarrassment later on.

Backing Sheer Fabrics

Backing Sheer Fabrics

Finally, the two pieces are cut out!

See how they shine together?

See how they shine together?

Now to have the marriage ceremony and sew all the layers together! Flat lining is stitched 1/4″ away from your stitch line, which is conveniently half a presser foot width on your machine! Look at the pic below to see the correct placement of the stitch line. This is a Vegas wedding, so your stitch length should be as long as you can get it so the whole thing is done as quickly as possible. Wham! Bam! We wanna get to the next step of actually assembling the garment!

Sew!  Sew like the Wind!!!

Sew! Sew like the Wind!!!

However, being in too much of a hurry isn’t good either. Check out what happened to me below: a shoddy needle I ignored too long. See what happens when you don’t put into your machine a fresh, clean, bur-free needle of an appropriate size for your delicate fabrics? Your threads revolt, and you get stripes. Icky, ugly pulled stripes from threads that got beat up by your crude, brutish needle. Usually, a sleek clean needle pushes the threads aside, but not this one. This particular needle was a real thug, and simply shoved his way through, and met with resistance! Viva la Resistance! Yeah, well, your seem ends up looking crappy. Best to avoid confrontation altogether, and keep your neighborhood watch active: change your needles!!!

Bad needle!  Bad, bad needle! Shame on you!

Bad needle! Bad, bad needle! Shame on you!

Okay, so finally, having married all these pieces (busy little Vegas sewing machine, eh?), I laid them out on the table to see how it would look eventually.

Whew!

Whew!

And then I thought of the lining I was gonna add.

And decided I’d do that tomorrow.

So. This one was LONGGGG! But I think it’s helpful to anyone who is curious about the sewing process I follow. And perhaps a little inspirational, too. I do all of this in my garage, on the top of an old door set on two shelving units. You don’t need a fancy schmancy sewing room to do it (although in my dreams, my studio is to DIE for, and someday I’ll have that…).

Alrighty, next entry, we move on to assembling the garment!

Live life with Relish!

How I Sew, Part 1

Hey, gang!  I figured I’d let you in on some “trade secrets” regarding how I put together a lot of what I work on.  A lot of my process is influenced by my background in theatrical design and construction.  I learned a particular way of sewing that is kind of an offshoot of the regular kind of home sewing one does with a store-bought commercial pattern (like Vogue or Simplicity or Butterick, for example).
I use a method called “line-to-line” sewing.  In a nutshell, instead of cutting out a pattern with an automatic 5/8ths inch seam allowance, I literally draw each line on the fabric and sew the lines together.  Most costumes shops cut around each of their hand-made patterns with an inch of seam allowance (to allow for fitting adjustments and use on other actors in the future) but end up trimming away what they don’t need.  The biggest difference is sewing on a line instead of sewing a certain distance from the edge.

Hey, gang!  I figured I’d let you in on some “trade secrets” regarding how I put together a lot of what I work on.  A lot of my process is influenced by my background in theatrical design and construction.  I learned a particular way of sewing that is kind of an offshoot of the regular kind of home sewing one does with a store-bought commercial pattern (like Vogue or Simplicity or Butterick, for example).

I use a method called “line-to-line” sewing.  In a nutshell, instead of cutting out a pattern with an automatic 5/8ths inch seam allowance, I literally draw each line on the fabric and sew the lines together.  Most costumes shops cut around each of their hand-made patterns with an inch of seam allowance (to allow for fitting adjustments and use on other actors in the future) but end up trimming away what they don’t need.  The biggest difference is sewing on a line instead of sewing a certain distance from the edge.

ToolsGreen

Various Patterning Tools I Use

So to develop the pattern for my coat, I used a size 12 “sloper” (available in stores) and adjusted it to what I needed.  A sloper is a basic pattern for a specific set of standardized measurements common to various sized bodies.  I simply traced the commercial pattern along the seam allowances marked onto a piece of kraft paper, then adjusted it to what I needed.

Pattern alteration is an art in itself, and people get paid big bucks to do it in the manufacturing industry.

Knowing that all my fabric was just 8″ wide, and that I had very very little to work with, I used each piece that I had to it’s maximum potential, and adjusted the pattern to what I needed.  Coat like, curvy pieces for interest, no real shaping involved.  Notching all the pattern pieces for markings on the fabric to line up (so the curves fit accurately) was a time consuming process.  I developed a collar pattern, and adjusted the sleeves for a little more room in the arm.

GreainandSA

Differences in Seam Allowance

Reassembling all the pieces after cutting them out, I re-adjusted the pattern so I could cut out the coat’s lining pieces, which don’t have the curves in them.

Patternlines

The Coat's Specific Wavy Pattern Lines

And voila!  The beginning of a most unusual coat!

Patternlines2

The Same Specific Wavy Pattern Lines in the Coat Itself

As I move forward on different projects, I’ll share more of how I put things together.  Until then, live life with Relish!

Purchasing Fabric Online, Wholesale Dreaming, and New Projects!

WavypreviewsidebackI recently ordered a bunch of fabric online.  I’m not used to doing that…   I’ve been told that people are getting more and more comfortable with it, but personally I like to feel the “hand” of the fabric that I’m purchasing before I actually buy it.  But regardless, I bought what I hope is a very basic, traditional fabric that should arrive with some of the characteristics is usually has when it’s in a store: black cotton velveteen.
This’ll be a first for me–I’m starting to explore wholesale sources.  I’ve never had the opportunity to purchase things like that.  I’m still not sure I know all the “ins-and-outs” but with some practice I think I’ll figure it out.  I look forward to the rates at which things can be purchased with a “reseller’s license”.  What I don’t look forward to is the necessity to buy everything in bulk amounts!  Just because I can get 100 yards of a particular fabric at an incredibly cheap rate doesn’t necessarily mean I can use it, nor that I can afford to pay for it no matter how cheap it is!  I’m still “bootstrapping” this business, so it’s gonna be a while before I see any profit.
There are several things that I am looking forward to being able to do, one of which is to be able to explore the Garment and Fabric District of Los Angeles with a little more “gravity”.  I am looking forward to visiting “The Mart” (I think that’s what it’s called) with friends to guide me through it.  I live way too close to LA not to take advantage of what they’ve got up there.  I need to explore it a LOT more if my wearable art venture is going to succeed.
In the meantime, I have been trying to use up what little fabric stock I have that’s left over from my 30-some odd bankers boxes of fabric that I regrettably “donated” to my former university over the last 10 years…  What I found is a bunch of odd fabrics of odd shapes that have been tantalizing to use…  It’s really forcing my creativity!
Left over corduroy, strips of old upholstery fabric…  It’s been my own little “Project Runway” of challenges–“How can I possibly use this?!”  Below is a picture of the 30’s-inspired corduroy coat I pieced together (listed on Etsy, by the way!).
And finally, here’s a preview pic of a coat I’m making with leftover upholstery fabric samples.  I found a picture of a coat by Poiret from 1923, and I’m using that as inspiration… Simple little “kimono-esque” look.  But since all the pieces were 8″ wide, I had to get creative…  Thus, a wavy, asymmetrical look…  I’m still workin’ on the sleeves (pieces is taking a LONG time), but it’ll get there…
Okay, enough for now!  Live life with Relish!

I recently ordered a bunch of fabric online.  I’m not used to doing that…   I’ve been told that people are getting more and more comfortable with it, but personally I like to feel the “hand” of the fabric that I’m purchasing before I actually buy it.  But regardless, I bought what I hope is a very basic, traditional fabric that should arrive with some of the characteristics is usually has when it’s in a store: black cotton velveteen.

This’ll be a first for me–I’m starting to explore wholesale sources.  I’ve never had the opportunity to purchase things like that.  I’m still not sure I know all the “ins-and-outs” but with some practice I think I’ll figure it out.  I look forward to the rates at which things can be purchased with a “reseller’s license”.  What I don’t look forward to is the necessity to buy everything in bulk amounts!  Just because I can get 100 yards of a particular fabric at an incredibly cheap rate doesn’t necessarily mean I can use it, nor that I can afford to pay for it no matter how cheap it is!  I’m still “bootstrapping” this business, so it’s gonna be a while before I see any profit.

There are several things that I am looking forward to being able to do, one of which is to be able to explore the Garment and Fabric District of Los Angeles with a little more “gravity”.  I am looking forward to visiting “The Mart” (I think that’s what it’s called) with friends to guide me through it.  I live way too close to LA not to take advantage of what they’ve got up there.  I need to explore it a LOT more if my wearable art venture is going to succeed.

In the meantime, I have been trying to use up what little fabric stock I have that’s left over from my 30-some odd bankers boxes of fabric that I regrettably “donated” to my former university over the last 10 years…  What I found is a bunch of odd fabrics of odd shapes that have been tantalizing to use…  It’s really forcing my creativity!

Left over corduroy, strips of old upholstery fabric…  It’s been my own little “Project Runway” of challenges–“How can I possibly use this?!”  Below is a picture of the 30’s-inspired corduroy coat I pieced together (listed on Etsy, by the way!).

Caramelswirlfrontb

And finally, here’s a preview pic of a coat I’m making with leftover upholstery fabric samples.  I found a picture of a coat by Poiret from 1923, and I’m using that as inspiration… Simple little “kimono-esque” look.  But since all the pieces were 8″ wide, I had to get creative…  Thus, a wavy, asymmetrical look…  I’m still workin’ on the sleeves (piecing is taking a LONG time), but it’ll get there…

Poiretkel55nwopftlsy Wavypreviewsideback Wavypreviewsidefront

Okay, enough for now!  Live life with Relish!

Quality of Life

Will: No, I need to provide for my family.
Emma: But provide what exactly?  The understanding that money is the most important thing?  Or the idea that the only life that’s worth living is the one that your really passionate about, Will?”
Glee, Pilot Episode
I watched the rerun of the pilot episode of Glee tonight.  I’d not seen it, and with all the promotion it had been getting, I decided to check it out while I was flipping through the channels.  I landed on it seconds after it started, so I figured this was my chance-I was president of my Select Choir  in high school… I wanted to test it’s veracity, I told myself.
I enjoyed it.  Still a little High School Musical cheesy, but with an edge.  Not dramatic like fame, but more like a sugar coated black comedy.  Sometimes sharp, sometimes needing to be sharper…  Still feeling a bit Disney-fied in the end, though.
But this exchange between these two characters hit me like a ton of bricks.    It reminded me of another conversation between two very different characters in a totally different kind of film:  Golden Boy from 1939.  I’ve never seen it, but I’ve shown this exact clip of it in my old intro to theatre classes.
Anyway, Golden Boy is a Depression era movie about a man who is struggling between choosing the life of a prize fighter and instantaneous financial success, or the life of a classical violinist which is his heart’s desire.  He wants to support his parents and siblings, and tells his father that money is the answer.  His father, on the other hand, wants his son to do what makes him happy.
In the clip, a debate ensues between the two, where the son says that his father wants him to live for tomorrow, but tomorrow may never come.  The world moves too fast, and owning things makes people happy, and money is the answer to it all.
His father says that things and money don’t make a person happy.  He tells his son that only when he does what is in his heart will he truly awake and sing and be who he was meant to be.
We’re in the middle of bad times economically in this country.  But the lesson is the same:  Life is not printed on the back of dollar bills.
Follow your passions.  That’s what life is about.

Will: No, I need to provide for my family.

Emma: But provide what exactly?  The understanding that money is the most important thing?  Or the idea that the only life that’s worth living is the one that your really passionate about, Will?”

Glee, Pilot Episode

I watched the rerun of the pilot episode of Glee tonight.  I’d not seen it, and with all the promotion it had been getting, I decided to check it out while I was flipping through the channels.  I landed on it seconds after it started, so I figured this was my chance-I was president of my Select Choir  in high school… I wanted to test it’s veracity, I told myself.

I enjoyed it.  Still a little High School Musical cheesy, but with an edge.  Not dramatic like Fame, but more like a sugar coated black comedy.  Sometimes sharp, sometimes needing to be sharper…  Still feeling a bit Disney-fied in the end, though.

goldenBut this exchange between these two characters hit me like a ton of bricks.    It reminded me of another conversation between two very different characters in a totally different kind of film:  Golden Boy from 1939.  I’ve never seen it, but I’ve shown this exact clip of it in my old intro to theatre classes.

Anyway, Golden Boy is a Depression era movie about a man who is struggling between choosing the life of a prize fighter and instantaneous financial success, or the life of a classical violinist which is his heart’s desire.  He wants to support his parents and siblings, and tells his father that money is the answer.  His father, on the other hand, wants his son to do what makes him happy.

In the clip above, a debate ensues between the two, where the son says that his father wants him to live for tomorrow, but tomorrow may never come.  The world moves too fast, and owning things makes people happy, and money is the answer to it all.

His father says that things and money don’t make a person happy.  He tells his son that only when he does what is in his heart will he truly awake and sing and be who he was meant to be.

We’re in the middle of bad times economically in this country.  But the lesson is the same:  Life is not printed on the back of dollar bills.

Follow your passions.  That’s what life is about.  Live life with Relish.

To Tweet or not to Tweet. That is the question.

I have set up a Twitter account, and wonder if it’s worth it…  I’m worried that it’s the CB radio of the 21st century…
I have some real misgivings about Twitter.  I have heard all about it and really like it’s ability to speak to so many globally–that’s a wonderfully useful asset for so many reasons.  It’s unbelievable how handy it can be for certain situations–take the Iranian incidences that happened during their recent election, for example.
But I am unsure it’s really worthwhile anymore for promoting handcrafted items…  From what I can glean, it’s usefulness has slipped in an incredibly short amount of time…  I’ve read articles that have suggested getting into Twitter at this point is a useless endeavor; that the time has passed on it’s effectiveness, and it’s fallen into mass junk tweets.  Much like email, now people are trying desperately to avoid junk tweets as much as they avoid junk emails, and it’s becoming harder and harder to do so even though you can accept/decline following.  Determining who is worth listening to is problematic, and therefore it’s starting to become convoluted and complicated.
I’ve not heard that much that’s actually good about Twitter from the handmade community.  Sure there is the ability to let all your followers know when new items are available, but I am not at all sure that’s actually useful in the long run.  Sister Diane, on CraftyPod, did a podcast that discussed this briefly a while ago.  (FYI, I highly recommend her podcast–good good stuff!)  Her concern was that we are sending the wrong message when all we use our online community for is to flood it with messages regarding our new products.  It somehow cheapens the whole and makes a bad impression.  I agree with that…
So I’m a tad hesitant to jump into the “Twitter Pond”.  I’m not at all sure it’s going to be something that I can actually use beyond simply informing others when my stuff becomes available.  I guess I feel I have other means of doing that…  Because, frankly, if people are in a shopping mood, and they’re looking for something I am making, I’m not that hard to find.  I’m just not sure artistically handcrafted items are the “impulse buy” sort of thing.  Art doesn’t seem like an impulse buy to me.  And I somehow feel that advertising using Twitter is about encouraging impulse buying.  It would seem to me there is a much more discerning consumer that purposely purchases handcrafted items, and no amount of twittering is gonna speed up that discernment…
I think in the end, I respect my customers too much to do that…  But am I making a mountain out of a molehill?  I’m not sure I want my items to seem so easily “pushed” on others… I’m just not that easy, I guess (haha)!  Ease of access is one thing, but there’s a fine line between informing interested followers and simple mass advertising…
I guess I respect my potential customers too much to inflict what I feel is a certain “cheesiness” on them…  I mean, I might as well text everyone’s cell phones…  Would that prompt anyone to run to their computer to buy a new vest??
I feel like Twitter is some kind of carrot on a stick, and it’s dangling in front of me, and I’m not sure if I really want it…  Hmmm…
Thoughts?  Lemme know.
Until next time, live life with Relish!

I have set up a Twitter account, and wonder if it’s worth it…  I’m worried that it’s the CB radio of the 21st century…

I have some real misgivings about Twitter.  I have heard all about it and really like it’s ability to speak to so many globally–that’s a wonderfully useful asset for so many reasons.  It’s unbelievable how handy it can be for certain situations–take the Iranian incidences that happened during their recent election, for example.

logoBut I am unsure it’s really worthwhile anymore for promoting handcrafted items…  From what I can glean, it’s usefulness has slipped in an incredibly short amount of time…  I’ve read articles that have suggested getting into Twitter at this point is a useless endeavor; that the time has passed on it’s effectiveness, and it’s fallen into mass junk tweets.  Much like email, now people are trying desperately to avoid junk tweets as much as they avoid junk emails, and it’s becoming harder and harder to do so even though you can accept/decline following.  Determining who is worth listening to is problematic, and therefore it’s starting to become convoluted and complicated.

I’ve not heard that much that’s actually good about Twitter from the handmade community.  Sure there is the ability to let all your followers know when new items are available, but I am not at all sure that’s actually useful in the long run.  Sister Diane, on CraftyPod, did a podcast that discussed this briefly a while ago.  (FYI, I highly recommend her podcast–good good stuff!)  Her concern was that we are sending the wrong message when all we use our online community for is to flood it with messages regarding our new products.  It somehow cheapens the whole and makes a bad impression.  I agree with that…

So I’m a tad hesitant to jump into the “Twitter Pond”.  I’m not at all sure it’s going to be something that I can actually use beyond simply informing others when my stuff becomes available.  I guess I feel I have other means of doing that…  Because, frankly, if people are in a shopping mood, and they’re looking for something I am making, I’m not that hard to find.  I’m just not sure artistically handcrafted items are the “impulse buy” sort of thing.  Art doesn’t seem like an impulse buy to me.  And I somehow feel that advertising using Twitter is about encouraging impulse buying.  It would seem to me there is a much more discerning consumer that purposely purchases handcrafted items, and no amount of twittering is gonna speed up that discernment…

I think in the end, I respect my customers too much to do that…  But am I making a mountain out of a molehill?  I’m not sure I want my items to seem so easily “pushed” on others… I’m just not that easy, I guess (haha)!  Ease of access is one thing, but there’s a fine line between informing interested followers and simple mass advertising…

I guess I respect my potential customers too much to inflict what I feel is a certain “cheesiness” on them…  I mean, I might as well text everyone’s cell phones…  Would that prompt anyone to run to their computer to buy a new vest??

I feel like Twitter is some kind of carrot on a stick, and it’s dangling in front of me, and I’m not sure if I really want it…  Hmmm…

Thoughts?  Lemme know.

Until next time, live life with Relish!

“Ya got talent, kid!” Part Two

Okay, I just finished listening to the audiobook I told you about yesterday, The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle.
Coyle’s premise is that talent is actually well-practiced skill that develops over time, ignited by some inciting incident that inspires the drive to hone the talent, and encouraged by outside mentors.
In a nutshell, he says that neuroscience now understands that talent has a physiological base.  Our synapses fire faster when we execute our talent/skills, and those neural pathways are strengthened by biological insulation which allows the electrical impulses to fire and travel faster through our brain.  This results in our ability to do things more naturally, quicker, and seemingly pick up things faster.
Fist off, the reviews that I have read say that he forgets to address one particular aspect of “talent” that in some fields is absolutely required: creativity. The ability to think outside the box.  To develop new pathways and methods of thinking of things and perceiving things.  Most of Coyle’s examples involve sports and music–actions that rely upon muscle memory and repetitive learning to develop.
He says that great artists come from years and years and years of practice and contemplation: “deep learning”, or the act of breaking things down and isolating the components, addressing our errors, and then repeating.  Slowly.  For artists, that means doing your art over and over and over and over…  Building the insulation around those synapses and getting better at doing our art.  Moving to the next step constantly, without pause to celebrate the previous step’s accomplishment.  Driven by our own motivation and guided by others’ coaching.
Coyle, of course, isn’t so simplistic.  I’m mangling his idea by oversimplifying it and leaving out substantial parts of his perspective that explain his idea in more detail.
It’s an interesting thought.  Diligence is everything.  Mistakes are required, and should be sought not avoided by constantly overreaching bit by bit once each aspect is acquired.
I guess one shouldn’t ask how one creates a success, but why we don’t honor the process of analyzing our failures.  It’s not what we’re doing right, it’s what we’re doing wrong that needs our attention.  Success will come.  Practice makes perfect.  Literally.

Okay, I just finished listening to the audiobook I told you about yesterday, The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle.

Coyle’s premise is that talent is actually well-practiced skill that develops over time, ignited by some inciting incident that inspires the drive to hone the talent, and encouraged by outside mentors.

In a nutshell, he says that neuroscience now understands that talent has a physiological base.  Our synapses fire faster when we execute our talent/skills, and those neural pathways are strengthened by biological insulation which allows the electrical impulses to fire and travel faster through our brain.  This results in our ability to do things more naturally, quicker, and seemingly pick up things faster.

Fist off, the reviews that I have read say that he forgets to address one particular aspect of “talent” that in some fields is absolutely required: creativity. The ability to think outside the box.  To develop new pathways and methods of thinking of things and perceiving things.  Most of Coyle’s examples involve sports and music–actions that rely upon muscle memory and repetitive learning to develop.

He says that great artists come from years and years and years of practice and contemplation: “deep learning”, or the act of breaking things down and isolating the components, addressing our errors, and then repeating.  Slowly.  For artists, that means doing your art over and over and over and over…  Building the insulation around those synapses and getting better at doing our art.  Moving to the next step constantly, without pause to celebrate the previous step’s accomplishment.  Driven by our own motivation and guided by others’ coaching.

Coyle, of course, isn’t so simplistic.  I’m mangling his idea by oversimplifying it and leaving out substantial parts of his perspective that explain his idea in more detail.

It’s an interesting thought.  Diligence is everything.  Mistakes are required, and should be sought not avoided by constantly overreaching bit by bit once each aspect is acquired.

I guess one shouldn’t ask how one creates a success, but why we don’t honor the process of analyzing our failures.  It’s not what we’re doing right, it’s what we’re doing wrong that needs our attention.  Success will come.  Practice makes perfect.  Literally.

A Day of Etsy-fying

Today was a full day.  All about Etsy.
I dove into setting up my Etsy shop today, and was reminded how little I know about working retail…
First, I have to say that Etsy is a lot bigger than I thought.  It seems like an intimate little place, but there are thousands and thousands of vendors on there.  A little bit of searching using their engine, and you realize that Etsy ain’t so small…  There are people on there that use it for their main source of income, just like Ebay.  (I suppose I’ll need to investigate that as well, but one storefront at a time…ugh…)
It’s one thing to go on quickly and establish an account, and post something to sell.  It’s quite another to think it all through and try to do it right…  I realized right away that my photos aren’t going to work.  That’s okay–I figured they wouldn’t.  I have some plans for that.  Getting live models and a photographer is high on my priority list, but in lieu of doing that today I decided to take care of the rest of my profile.
Good grief there’s a lot to say!  Not only did I need a profile, but I also had to think about shipping, returns, payment… I had to establish a Paypal account right off the bat so I could even begin to list anything.  That was part of the process.  In the process, I learned that Paypal allows users to use their credit cards and such even if they don’t have an account with them, which was fantastically convenient!  I don’t have to track down a shopping cart mechanism until I start on my own sight.  Right now, that’s not a wise idea unless I have the money to promote it, and that’s not going to happen right away.  Best to ride “piggy back” on venues that are set up to do it for me just yet.
After getting the monetary issues squared away, I had to figure out shipping.  This was a real conundrum–I had to research box sizes, figure out how much my garments weigh, and then research shipping services.  The bulk of the shops that I saw on Etsy used the US Postal Service, and their flat rate boxes.  Well, I couldn’t–the majority of my coats are not going to fit into those boxes, so it’s not going to work…  So I had to come up with different options.  Rather than figure out what the shipping was going to be for every zone, for every garment, I decided to simply include shipping in the price of the garment.  That simplifies things a great deal.  Of course, it’ll probably be a headache later on, but for right now it’ll work.
So I spent part of my day on the road purchasing a mailing scale and visiting a box supplier, and then wrapped it up with a quick trip to Michael’s Crafts…  I have heard that part of the charm of buying handmade is the anti-corporation feeling, so packing the garments in a manner that is unique, fun, and ultimately charming can make a big difference with customer loyalty.  So I bought some hemp and twine at Michael’s and experimented part of the day with wrapping the pieces with old fashioned craft paper and string, then inserting that into the final shipping box.  It looks authentically endearing and simple, I think, but it needs some more antiquing and personalization.  So I’m gonna consider some stamps, some personal hand-written notes, and some heartfelt creativity to wrap it all together.  I’m as excited about the potential fun in shipping stuff off as I am about actually making the garments!
So that’s what I did today.  That, and more research on the community that is Etsy.  We’ll see if I fit in…
Live life with Relish!

Today was a full day.  All about Etsy.

I dove into setting up my Etsy shop today, and was reminded how little I know about working retail…

First, I have to say that Etsy is a lot bigger than I thought.  It seems like an intimate little place, but there are thousands and thousands of vendors on there.  A little bit of searching using their engine, and you realize that Etsy ain’t so small…  There are people on there that use it for their main source of income, just like Ebay.  (I suppose I’ll need to investigate that as well, but one storefront at a time…ugh…)

It’s one thing to go on quickly and establish an account, and post something to sell.  It’s quite another to think it all through and try to do it right…  I realized right away that my photos aren’t going to work.  That’s okay–I figured they wouldn’t.  I have some plans for that.  Getting live models and a photographer is high on my priority list, but in lieu of doing that today I decided to take care of the rest of my profile.

Good grief there’s a lot to say!  Not only did I need a profile, but I also had to think about shipping, returns, payment… I had to establish a Paypal account right off the bat so I could even begin to list anything.  That was part of the process.  In the process, I learned that Paypal allows users to use their credit cards and such even if they don’t have an account with them, which was fantastically convenient!  I don’t have to track down a shopping cart mechanism until I start on my own sight.  Right now, that’s not a wise idea unless I have the money to promote it, and that’s not going to happen right away.  Best to ride “piggy back” on venues that are set up to do it for me just yet.

After getting the monetary issues squared away, I had to figure out shipping.  This was a real conundrum–I had to research box sizes, figure out how much my garments weigh, and then research shipping services.  The bulk of the shops that I saw on Etsy used the US Postal Service, and their flat rate boxes.  Well, I couldn’t–the majority of my coats are not going to fit into those boxes, so it’s not going to work…  So I had to come up with different options.  Rather than figure out what the shipping was going to be for every zone, for every garment, I decided to simply include shipping in the price of the garment.  That simplifies things a great deal.  Of course, it’ll probably be a headache later on, but for right now it’ll work.

So I spent part of my day on the road purchasing a mailing scale and visiting a box supplier, and then wrapped it up with a quick trip to Michael’s Crafts…  I have heard that part of the charm of buying handmade is the anti-corporation feeling, so packing the garments in a manner that is unique, fun, and ultimately charming can make a big difference with customer loyalty.  So I bought some hemp and twine at Michael’s and experimented part of the day with wrapping the pieces with old fashioned craft paper and string, then inserting that into the final shipping box.  It looks authentically endearing and simple, I think, but it needs some more antiquing and personalization.  So I’m gonna consider some stamps, some personal hand-written notes, and some heartfelt creativity to wrap it all together.  I’m as excited about the potential fun in shipping stuff off as I am about actually making the garments!

So that’s what I did today.  That, and more research on the community that is Etsy.  We’ll see if I fit in…

Live life with Relish!

Big News

Big News
Went to the museum yesterday with my good good friend Robin Roberts.  She’s a scene designer here in San Diego.  We saw two wonderful exhibits–one by the famous photographer Richard Avedon, and the other a jewelry exhibit by the sculptor, Alexander Calder.
I can’t tell you how inspired I was.  Going to the museum for me is like a kind of drug, I suppose…  It’s a high.  And then I get sensory overload and crash.  I can only take so much…  I can’t sort it out and my brain doesn’t know how to not simply go off on tangents.  I’m used to using art as inspiration–that’s primarily how I’ve developed as a costume designer.  I look at pictures and try to translate the same feelings and such to works that I can put on stage.
The Avedon pics were easier to distance myself from, but the jewelry…  Good grief, all I could think of was translating the line of it to velvet… Using metallic paint, even.  It could be so easily represented in brush strokes…  I just about popped.  I walked away thinking I’d have to try two of his ideas–a fish, and a butterfly–and somehow make them my own…  There is so much to say about how it stimulated me, I can’t even verbalize it…  I’ll have to just do it and show you.
And something else has happened, finally…
It’s finished.  Relished Artistry is finally, 100% legitimate.
I got my operating agreement done.  I got a business bank account today.  I got my Seller’s Permit today. I got my Tax information taken care of as well.  It’s all done.
I’m stoked!!  It’s happened!  I’m moving forward!
Now to move on to Etsy and and other sites, as well as establishing an online presence of my own.  I have to get some good photographs done, but I have a lead on that with my partner’s brother-in-law…  He’s volunteered to take them, and he’s gonna do a great job.  I think I’ll also be able to use Jonathan’s family as models…  We’ll see.  Now there is no excuse for me not to simply plow forward and be creative.
Oh, my goodness it’s here!!!  Ready set go!
Time for me to make sure others are living life with relish!!

Went to the museum yesterday with my good good friend Robin Roberts.  She’s a scene designer here in San Diego.  We saw two wonderful exhibits–one by the famous photographer Richard Avedon, and the other a jewelry exhibit by the sculptor, Alexander Calder.

I can’t tell you how inspired I was.  Going to the museum for me is like a kind of drug, I suppose…  It’s a high.  And then I get sensory overload and crash.  I can only take so much…  I can’t sort it out and my brain doesn’t know how to not simply go off on tangents.  I’m used to using art as inspiration–that’s primarily how I’ve developed as a costume designer.  I look at pictures and try to translate the same feelings and such to works that I can put on stage.

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The Avedon pics were easier to distance myself from, but the jewelry…  Good grief, all I could think of was translating the line of it to velvet… Using metallic paint, even.  It could be so easily represented in brush strokes…  I just about popped.  I walked away thinking I’d have to try two of his ideas–a fish, and a butterfly–and somehow make them my own…  There is so much to say about how it stimulated me, I can’t even verbalize it…  I’ll have to just do it and show you.  Google has some wonderful images–here’s a link.

And something else has happened, finally…

It’s finished.  Relished Artistry is finally, 100% legitimate.

I got my operating agreement done.  I got a business bank account today.  I got my Seller’s Permit today. I got my Tax information taken care of as well.  It’s all done.

I’m stoked!!  It’s happened!  I’m moving forward!

Now to move on to Etsy and and other sites, as well as establishing an online presence of my own.  I have to get some good photographs done, but I have a lead on that with my partner’s brother-in-law…  He’s volunteered to take them, and he’s gonna do a great job.  I think I’ll also be able to use Jonathan’s family as models…  We’ll see.  Now there is no excuse for me not to simply plow forward and be creative.

Oh, my goodness it’s here!!!  Ready set go!

Time for me to make sure others are living life with relish!!

Weekend Shmeekend

So today is Saturday, and I’m spending time at the computer starting to develop a community for my blog, and eventually my Etsy sight when I finally get it started. I’m going back and looking at all the blogs I’ve subscribed to, and following as many links as I can from those websites to others that may be interesting to me…
I am actually subscribing to more blogs… … I can’t keep up with what I’ve already got! There are so many! And they’re all so good! Many of them have craft projects, or record new and upcoming events and craft shows that each blogger is getting ready to attempt. I am discovering that there are actually different “types” of blogs that I am recognizing…
One is the “Professional Crafter” blog. These are the ones that sell items, books, and outline projects. Many of them are either just starting out, or they are very well established in the biz, like The Crafty Chica.
Another category is the “Journaling Crafter” blog. These are bloggers that record their normal everyday ins-and-outs of their families and adventures and their crafting. Many of them share stories of their personal lives, like Angry Chicken.
Still others are “Cataloging Crafters”, where the bulk of their blogs are about sharing things they have discovered that are really eye-catching for them, and could serve to inspire others. So they are full of links to juicy and thought-provoking stuff! Like one of my favorite blogs ever, Dude Craft.
It’s important to realize that none of the blogs that I’ve found out there easily and clearly fit into any of these categories. And incidentally, these also have the three ingredients that Alyson Stanfield of Artbizblog.com says are necessary for a good blog in the first place: being Informative, Inspiring, and Entertaining.
So that’s what I’m doing today, and let me tell you there are way too many really cool things out there to explore. I am going to try to center my efforts on the “business” side of art/crafts, so hopefully I’ll have a lot to share in my next post.
Until then, an update on my current projects: I trashed the grey, 1950s-inspired jacket, and remade it out of black velveteen, which was the right choice. I found some really cool black “fur” for the cuffs, and I’m incorporating a silk scarf into the coat that will create a beautiful soft bow over the center front closure. I think it’s going to be quite striking with the 1950’s-inspired brushwork all over the surface. I’m excited! Almost done! Here’s a preview!
Until then–live life with relish!

So today is Saturday, and I’m spending time at the computer starting to develop a community for my blog, and eventually my Etsy sight when I finally get it started. I’m going back and looking at all the blogs I’ve subscribed to, and following as many links as I can from those websites to others that may be interesting to me…

I am actually subscribing to more blogs… … I can’t keep up with what I’ve already got! There are so many! And they’re all so good! Many of them have craft projects, or record new and upcoming events and craft shows that each blogger is getting ready to attempt. I am discovering that there are actually different “types” of blogs that I am recognizing…

One is the “Professional Crafter” blog. These are the ones that sell items, books, and outline projects. Many of them are either just starting out, or they are very well established in the biz, like The Crafty Chica.

Another category is the “Journaling Crafter” blog. These are bloggers that record their normal everyday ins-and-outs of their families and adventures and their crafting. Many of them share stories of their personal lives, like Angry Chicken.

Still others are “Cataloging Crafters”, where the bulk of their blogs are about sharing things they have discovered that are really eye-catching for them, and could serve to inspire others. So they are full of links to juicy and thought-provoking stuff! Like one of my favorite blogs ever, Dude Craft.

It’s important to realize that none of the blogs that I’ve found out there easily and clearly fit into any of these categories. And incidentally, these also have the three ingredients that Alyson Stanfield of Artbizblog.com says are necessary for a good blog in the first place: being Informative, Inspiring, and Entertaining.

So that’s what I’m doing today, and let me tell you there are way too many really cool things out there to explore. I am going to try to center my efforts on the “business” side of art/crafts, so hopefully I’ll have a lot to share in my next post.

Until then, an update on my current projects: I trashed the grey, 1950s-inspired jacket, and remade it out of black velveteen, which was the right choice. I found some really cool black “fur” for the cuffs, and I’m incorporating a silk scarf into the coat that will create a beautiful soft bow over the center front closure. I think it’s going to be quite striking with the 1950’s-inspired brushwork all over the surface. I’m excited! Almost done! Here’s a preview!

50scoatfront 50scoatback

Until next time–live life with relish!

“Autumn Relish” Preview

Tonight, I started on my next project.  It dawned on me that I didn’t tell you all about my previous one…

I am expanding out of the realm of roses… hehe…  I tried some autumn leaves this time on some beautiful auburn velvet.  It’s a short jacket, sz. 20, without a lining.  Since it’s velvet, it’s just a shmata, really, but the collar is a bit heavier so it will provide a tad bit of warmth around the shoulders.  It’s not completed yet, but here’s a few pics.  The leaves cascade down in curls to the hem, and they look rather muted straight on.  But viewed from an angle, the color really pops.  Rich oranges, reds, golds, and metallics make the leaves rich and bright!

I also decided to start putting a “pseudo-watermark” on all the pics, just in case.  Since I haven’t found anything like this, and I’m sure the idea will get lifted eventually by someone, I’d rather not make it too easy for ’em.  Haha!  : )

Next up, a vintage recreation of a 1950’s women’s coat.  Grey velvet with some abstracted designs around the hem, ala Van Gogh, but not quite…  I’ll find an artist that does similar stuff to it between now and when I get the preview pics up.

Until then, live life with relish!

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Lunch with Friends

Today I had lunch at the Big Kitchen with my friends, Ingrid Helton and Shirley Pierson.  Ingrid was my supervisor at the Old Globe Theatre for many years where I worked on her construction team.  She taught me everything I know about mens tailoring, and has since gone on to start her own line of children’s clothing and had a toy store for a while.  Shirley just graduated with her MFA in Costume Design from SDSU, and is now working as a professional costume designer.   I met her at the university I used to work at, where she was a non-traditional student as her husband taught there.

Ingrid and Shirley and I had a wonderful conversation about a lot of different things, and we’re working out a lot of different kinds of plans and ideas for the future.  But at one point in the conversation, I shared with them my fears regarding the development of this business and my first tenuous steps into this new industry.

I think I am one that likes to plan…  It is part of my theatrical training to know where I should be ending up, and working toward that goal/reality step by step by step.  Theatre is very much a process, and I spent a lot of money getting taught that process over several years, and earned two degrees as I learned it.  As a theatre person, it’s my instinct to need to plan things out–without a plan, one gets hurt.  The old adage goes, “Cheap.  On time.  Looks good.  Pick two.”  Well, the art of theatrical planning is to make sure that adage doesn’t apply, or at least work well within their parameters.

But this Relished Artistry endeavor is a bit different…  I realized I know where I want to go, but I’m taking this baby step by baby step because I am unsure of how to get there.  I feel very much like a toddler.  I know I want to go from point A to point B, but actually getting the muscles to obey my commands is another story… And knowing that my brain is just learning to send the right signals to the right pathways to get what I want is going to take practice…

It was an incredibly reassuring lunch being with these two ladies.  They both have experience in different ends of what I am doing.  And it’s heartening to hear their words of encouragement and validation that I am indeed on the right path.  I can’t do anything until I get a “line” or a “collection” established.  Worrying about the next steps that I don’t know is pointless.  It will come.  One thing at a time.  The end goal is clear, but like that toddler I need to concentrate on one leg moving at a time.  It is also good to know that they are there for whatever advice I may need.  First things first:  establish a body of work.

So.  To that end, I am sharing with you a “sneak preview” of one of my next projects.  Club wear.  I’m calling it the “Hot Relish” series.  : )    Here’s a pic!  Until next time, live life with relish!

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