And So It Goes…

I must lead one of the most boring lives of everyone I know. This last couple of weeks have proven it to me. I go to work, I come home, I watch TV, listen to my audiobooks, and then go to bed. Then I get up and do it all over again. Pretty repetitious.

But the end is in sight–my day job as overhire at La Jolla Playhouse is coming to a close very soon, and I will be returning my attention to my own business. I feel like I’ve neglected Relished Artistry a bit–but I’ve still had a couple sales, so that’s been exciting! I know that I could be spending some more time on it, however, and I’m actually looking forward to creating some new things. Fleshing out my “stock” is the first thing on my priority list, and I have a list of items that I am going to make.

I think my time at La Jolla has taught me a lot–I have a new understanding of knits now, so I’m excited about making some new knitwear. I had done a couple samples of some women’s tanks with a cute little rose in the center front by the neckline, and now that I know how to hem them and sew them better, I’m less hesitant to take the leap. We’ll see how it pans out, but I anticipate I’ll have some cute little black stretch velvet tops soon.

I’m also going to investigate some menswear in the form of smoking jackets… Higher quality, lined, with some masculine embellishment on the center back (maybe a silhouette of a bird? Skull? Tree? Scorpion?), but I need to find the right image first. I’m leaning toward using tribal tattoos as reference and inspiration. The challenge is painting crisp, sharp lines on a velvet pile…hehe… Not the easiest thing in the world…

And I’m going to put together a “fantasy” cape with a piped collar and leaf embellishment along the hem. We’ll see how a more overtly “costume-ish” item is received.

I have yet another coat to put together that I am working on, ready to put in the sleeves and the lining. It’ll be done very soon, but until then it rests on a dressform in my studio until I get the “gumption” to finish it off. Having energy to continue sewing at night after sewing all day can be a bit difficult… But I won’t have to worry about that soon.

Alrighty! Another post soon! Live Life with Relish!

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Poiret Preview

Today I am proud to preview my latest experiment–a recreation of a 1923 Poiret Cocoon Coat! I have yet to get the button closure on it, but I am terribly excited about where this is going… I have longed to do something elegant and drapey like this for a long time, and think that my floral painting might look really good on it, especially around the hem up to the sleeves. This was made out of black velveteen using a pattern: Folkwear #503.

Front

Front

There are some adjustments that I would like to make to the pattern, as well as some alterations and piecing that I would like to do… I am not thrilled about using someone else’s pattern for things–I’d like to adapt it to my own, so I’ve got some thinking to do… If you had your druthers, what would you do? I’m thinking there is a way to make it more contemporary. Just haven’t hit on it yet. : )

Side

Side

But here it is, sans center front closure. I would love to have some feedback if you’re willing… Perhaps some vertical panels in the front and one in the back? Hmm…

Sleeve

Sleeve

Until next time, Live Life with Relish!

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).

Tutorial31a

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!

New Arrivals!

Whee! I had a good day today! Not only did I slam an entire project together that I am tickled pink about, but my black velveteen fabric arrived from UPS. Finally! And on top of that, I got a Folkwear pattern in the mail for a Poiret Opera cloak, which I will be using as inspiration for my own…

I am so excited!! Now I have a whole slew of projects to get done, and that makes me feel really good.

I still haven’t sold anything yet (and that really bums me out, but I can’t wallow in those thoughts for long), but I am confident that these new items will be different and fun. I look forward to doing some velvet painting on those opera cloaks, and seeing if they attract much attention. I’m also going to dive into a new series of coats that aren’t made out of velour, so they’ll be infinitely lighter and more wearable.

But tonight, just as a preview, I’m posting pics of the project I slammed together last night and today. A really nice piece that’s deceptively warm… A vest that my partner named “Gay Apparel”, so I think that’ll be this particular festive holiday-wear series of clothes… Kinda Christmas/Mardi Gras/Circus, I think! I really dig the standing collar. It’ll be up on Etsy and Artfire soon!

Until next time–Live life with Relish!

The Side Front.  Note the standing collar...

The Side Front. Note the standing collar...

The alternating panels seem quite "carnival-esque" to me...

The alternating panels seem quite "carnival-esque" to me...

The Collar can go up, down, or mid-way like this...

The Collar can go up, down, or mid-way like this...

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!

“Ya got talent, kid!”

“Ya got talent, kid!”
I’m really enjoying my iPod.  I listen to a lot of podcasts while I’m working.  Today, I downloaded a book to start listening to: The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle.
I came in from my studio (I am not going to call it a garage anymore, thank you) all excited to write this entry to share with you what I was listening to.  I hopped on google to find some reviews before I dove in.
The book is brand new (2009) and talks about how talent is developed, literally, through the study of neuroscience…  I’m not gonna bore you with the details, but it’s very inspiring to me right now.  It has several big concepts, but right now the idea of “deep practice” is hitting home…  In a nutshell, it says that talent comes from thousands of hours of concentrated practice.  Not a big surprise there.  Learn by doing.  But it goes further to explain something I hadn’t really thought about deep down inside:  practice comes from trying to fix failure.  Without failure, you can’t really be practicing.  So practicing really must be about never really succeeding, but constantly striving to accomplish what you can’t achieve yet.  Trying to do what you can’t do, not simply repeating what you already know.  Inherently, it is not about successful accomplishment of a goal, it is about the inevitable failure we all must experience over and over again in order to move on to the next set of failures.
Talent, from Coyle’s perspective (as I understand it thus far) must come from slowly working through doing things wrong over and over again until we don’t think about it anymore and it’s natural.  Talent is, in a way, simply the ability to do things quicker, more easily, and to a higher degree than average.  One doesn’t think about doing “it” anymore.  And the ability to concentrate on one’s mistakes in bits, breaking it down slowly into workable pieces (or “chunking”) is REALLY what talent is all about.  It isn’t the result, it’s the process of learning.
So.  I think I’m gonna pay more attention to what I’m painting a bit more, and purposely stretch.  I see now why they say all artists must be prepared to throw away their first years of work–it should be more about growing than accomplishment.  Practice does indeed make perfect, from a certain perspective.  How you practice is the real question…
Live life with Relish!

I’m really enjoying my iPod.  I listen to a lot of podcasts while I’m working.  Today, I downloaded a book to start listening to: The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle.

I came in from my studio (I am not going to call it a garage anymore, thank you) all excited to write this entry to share with you what I was listening to.  I hopped on google to find some reviews before I dove in.

The book is brand new (2009) and talks about how talent is developed, literally, through the study of neuroscience…  I’m not gonna bore you with the details, but it’s very inspiring to me right now.  It has several big concepts, but right now the idea of “deep practice” is hitting home…  In a nutshell, it says that talent comes from thousands of hours of concentrated practice.  Not a big surprise there.  Learn by doing.  But it goes further to explain something I hadn’t really thought about deep down inside:  practice comes from trying to fix failure.  Without failure, you can’t really be practicing.  So practicing really must be about never really succeeding, but constantly striving to accomplish what you can’t achieve yet.  Trying to do what you can’t do, not simply repeating what you already know.  Inherently, it is not about successful accomplishment of a goal, it is about the inevitable failure we all must experience over and over again in order to move on to the next set of failures.

Talent, from Coyle’s perspective (as I understand it thus far) must come from slowly working through doing things wrong over and over again until we don’t think about it anymore and it’s natural.  Talent is, in a way, simply the ability to do things quicker, more easily, and to a higher degree than average.  One doesn’t think about doing “it” anymore.  And the ability to concentrate on one’s mistakes in bits, breaking it down slowly into workable pieces (or “chunking”) is REALLY what talent is all about.  It isn’t the result, it’s the process of learning.

So.  I think I’m gonna pay more attention to what I’m painting a bit more, and purposely stretch.  I see now why they say all artists must be prepared to throw away their first years of work–it should be more about growing than accomplishment.  Practice does indeed make perfect, from a certain perspective.  How you practice is the real question…

For those of you who are really interested, here’s a little video the author made…  Geesh I feel like a pusher…  <sigh>  Honestly, I may hate this book when I’m finished with it, who knows…  But it’s intriguing.  Take it for what it’s worth.  : )

Live life with Relish!

Process Report #1

For this next project, I’m going to walk you through the steps that I use to create an original piece of wearable art.  As the 1950’s coat is created, I’m going to post photographs each step of the way.  That way, you all can see how I get these things created.

The first step is “Inspiration”.

People are inspired in lots of different ways by lots of different things.  For my previous projects, I was inspired by my great-grandmother’s china paintings of roses and such, and wanted to be able to replicate that feeling on a piece of fabric.  I’m still working on capturing her essence, but it will come with time.

This garment was inspired by the color of the velvet.  I had not worked on an obviously neutral background before, and I am realizing that I paint in a much more “free” manner when I am not burdened with representational realism in the subjects I paint.  So I was looking to create something that was a bit more abstract, and the grey velvet reminded me of rain and fog filled drab and dreary days.  What could spice up those kinds of days but something beautiful to look at?

I chose a 1950’s pattern because of the idea of using abstract painting.  And when I think of abstract art, I think of it really starting to come into it’s own in the 1950’s for some reason.

The type of abstraction… Hmmm…  Well, I had completed a project for a play a long while ago that had a velour robe inspired by Van Gogh’s “Starry Night”.  I really enjoyed creating the swirls on that robe, and I had received so many compliments regarding it, I thought I might try something like that.  (In actuality, the experience of the robe had inspired me to create a wearable art company and continue painting on fabric for Relished Artistry in general…)

ProcessStep1 msnd090a_171_big ProcessStep3

I took these two ideas, and tried a painting sample on the fabric.  I use Jacquard Fabric Paints–Neopaque, Lumier, Textile Traditionals, and Dye-na-Flow–all by the same company. After experimenting with these thoughts and trying to exploit the metallic nature of the Lumier Paints, I concluded that the colors and the application could come across as quite complimentary to the neutrality of the velvet.  The cut of the coat would simply enhance it’s “period painting” quality.

And so, I transfered the “medium” size to a 50# craft paper (so I wouldn’t need to cut up the pattern paper itself), selected a button closure and a lining, and now I am going to cut the fabric out and start painting.

ProcessStep2

And now, all there is left to do is dive in!  More soon!

Until then, 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!

AutumnPreview1wm

Autumpreview2wm

Autumpreview3wm

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!

HotRelishPreview1web

The “Midnight Trellis” Handbag

Good grief!  Never make this purse out of thick cotton velour!  Argh!!!  My fingers will never forgive me, and  my poor poor sewing machine…  I swear I was sewing through so many layers my machine probably felt like it was hammering through metal…  <sigh>  But it’s done!

I think I may pursue a different kind of approach when making these handbags in the future.  I learned a LOT from constructing this.  First, I  learned that the first one will always take longer than the rest.  Haha!  I made so many mistakes, and then had to backtrack over and over, that I feel like I have a perception of the purse-building process that will come in handy in the future!  Second, make sure that you know how the purse is going to close before you even start.  The closures have to be inserted early early early in the process.  Third, never make just one.

I guess that goes for everything–if you’re gonna make one, go ahead and make two or three at the same time, just to get the “process” down in your head.  There’s a lot that can be learned not only from the construction of things, but the process in which one constructs multiples together.  I see that making more than one of these purses at the same time is actually a more economic way of spending time.

But it’s done.  And today, I make one for the first coat I made…  The one with yellow roses.

Until next time–Live life with Relish!

Winterpurse

A Tad Bit of Frustration

I’ve been working in my garage/studio, and the heat is starting to get to me.  I’ve found that my sleeping habits have totally changed–I’m up much much later than I used to be, so by the time I wake up, it’s sweltering out.  The heat has been a bit of a problem lately, and the halogen lights aren’t helping the matter.  However, I find that working in the studio is easier than working in the house–at least there’s a breeze with the garage door open!

I still haven’t received anything in the mail back from the state about the registering of my business.  I think it will take a while, that’s for sure.  Who knows how the budget crisis in California is affecting the normal course of business…

I’m feeling wary about posting things on Etsy before I get all the paperwork finished.  I don’t know for sure  if I can go back in and change things around regarding payment options, contact info, how accounts get credited, etc.  I need to investigate that a bit more.

Overall, it’s been a tad bit frustrating… I am in that stage where I have just started to climb the mountain after all the excitement of “Whee! I’m gonna climb a mountain!”  And it’s a daunting slope indeed.  Staying motivated is not the problem.  Staying focused is, since there is so very very much to do.  I have so much research to explore, so much networking to do, and under all of that the basic essential need for a “collection” of some sort (if that’s what it’s called).  It simply has to get done.

I’ll finally be finishing up my current project tomorrow–a black velour coat with blue roses on it.  I got the lining today, so it should be a simple matter to finish it all up.

The dress forms are on their way as well, so I’ll be waiting for them to take pictures of the garments.  I want to start them off on as good a note as I can for Etsy. I’m pretty sure I can’t afford models yet (unless I pay them in pizza or something–haha), let alone know any photographers with the kind of “fashion shoot” quality that I feel is necessary.  But I still have to get more of a stock worked up, so there’s no use worrying about that yet.  It’s rather the “cart before the horse”, as it were.  We’ll see how it goes.

My sister, Nicole, who lives in Columbia, Missouri, has asked me to help her make some blanks for some of her own design work.  She’s also interested in doing stuff with the patterns that I’ve made over the years…  Of course, developing patterns for non-theatrical sewers is not something I have much experience with.  Anyone who knows theatrical patterns knows that they’re simply not like the kind you can get commercially like Vogue, Butterick, McCall’s etc. I think it may take a bit of “translating” and technical writing for an average sewer to follow…  I once taught a theatrical pattern making class at our local fashion design school, and believe me it’s a totally different approach to pattern making.  Line-to-line stitching, seam allowance, mockups… they were alien to the young students at this school, so I know how confusing a theatrical patterns can be.  There is a sort of short-hand for theatrical patterns that assumes knowledge on the part of the person assembling the garment… There are no newsprint instructions.  You either know enough about construction and sewing to put it together or you don’t.  Usually, the person drafting the pattern is also in charge of the team that’s constructing the garment, so there’s no need for written instructions.  So I’d have to make them up.  And good instructions for anything can be hard to find… Haha!

But we’ll see.  It’s intriguing to see what may happen!

Nicole is also prompting me to make handbags.  So I went out to purchase some handbag “equipment” to make matching accessories for the coats.  That could be intriguing, too!  I think they’re gonna be my next project.

In my blog search I found some interesting little ditties!  Here are some links to some blogs and websites that I found interesting, and that I plan on exploring a bit more.  Perhaps, in your copious spare time, you can let me know what you think?  : )

Prosperous Artists Academy

Fast Company

Style.com

The Sartorialist

Until next time, live life with relish!

Project Update

So I realized I haven’t been keeping you all in the loop regarding how things are going with Relished Artistry itself–the projects I’m working on, etc.  So this is what this post is about.

I ordered dress forms yesterday.  Two different sizes–a medium and a medium/large for sizes 8 and 12 (I think… I can’t remember!  Haha!).  They should be here within the next couple of weeks.

I also finished the “Yellow Rose” coat.  I don’t have any good pictures of it, but suffice to say I think it turned out very nicely.  I’ll get some ASAP.  I will be listing it on Etsy as soon as I get my LCC stuff back from the state (which could take a while), so I can open up a checking account and use that info on Etsy.

I also started my new project–same pattern but with a longer “trench coat” feel.  It’s out of Black velour which I will be putting a very lightweight lining in (No More Satin!) because it’s so heavy and warm.  I got some new fabric paint so I’ve been experimenting with that, and a new way of drawing the leaves.  The paint looks like a very lightweight foil in some lights…  The camera doesn’t do it justice At All.  Here are some pics:

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We’ll see how it turns out as I start to sew it all together.  I’m excited!  The idea for blue roses actually came from my niece, Montana.  Her birthday is coming up this next week (Happy 13!!) and liked a picture she had seen earlier of the other stuff.  I told her I’d end up making her something, but probably not in time for her B-Day…  <sigh>  Gotta put that on my “To Do” list.  : )

Until later, live life with relish!

Another Sample

I have this “chenille double-sided velour” (it’s actually upholstery fabric) that I am using for a lot of my pieces.  It’s gorgeous stuff, and quite luxurious to the touch. I’m now making a jacket out of it.  But I wanted to try out making some shawls, just to try the painting process, and see how they turned out.

I got it done, and here’s a couple pics of the first in a long line of shawls that I’m gonna make.  I will be working on developing more painting skills (interestingly enough, painting on a light-colored pile using black velvet techniques doesn’t quite work), but I’m loving how it turned out. It has a Victorian/1960s vibe to it that’s funky and fun.  And its quite a heavy fabric. It’s not some flimsy affectation that some shawls are–this is actually substantial and will provide a bit of warmth.

I need a few more pieces and some better photography before I post these on any sales sites, but this is a sneak peak.  : )

Shawl2

Shawl3

Live life with relish!

A Body of Work

So I’m sitting in my Garage/Studio sewing some satin lining into the velour wrap I’m working on.  I’m listening to a podcast that’s talking about how many pieces is appropriate for an exhibition/show.  The host of the podcast is very smart, and says it depends.  But she mentions that regardless, when we feel we have accumulated enough pieces around a theme or technique, we will know when that body of work is ready to show.

And that got me thinking about bodies of work.  And samples.  And just exactly what it is that I need to have prepared.

I was wasting time late last night wandering through Etsy and Artfire, and looking for other sites that were similar (which I found: Winkelf and Shophandmade) and started to discover just how many pieces each vendor had for sale on these sights…  They range from single pieces to sometimes hundreds.  There were some that I thought didn’t qualify for “hand made” items (like this one company in China with over 100 employees that posted it’s stuff on Etsy) and thus had more than a hundred completely different garments for sale.  None of the items came across to me as particularly reflective of individual creativity, and certainly none of them looked like they had been “manufactured” with an artistic sensibility.  It was yet another clothing line, and the company was just using Etsy as a storefront.

But that got me to thinking–my “body of work” will have certain pieces that will be individual, unable to completely reproduce ever again.  I like that.  That’s what makes them unique.  I can not mass produce these items in any large scale any more than an oil painter can reproduce hundreds of the same still life.  Yes, it’s possible, but none of them will be exactly alike.  And I’m thinking they shouldn’t be, frankly…

So today I finished my first piece–a heavy velour winter cape with black satin lining, embellished with hand-painted garlands of roses along the hem.  A black satin band running around the neck and center front provides an oriental feel, but the overall feel is rather Spanish.  I’m quite proud of it.  It’s the first in my “body of work.”  I’m calling it “Rosey Warmth No.1”, I think.  : )  Here’s pics!

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RoseyWarmthBack

Until later, live life with relish!