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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Project Runway Thoughts for October 22 Episode

Good grief.

Maybe I am way too opinionated for my own good. Maybe I am totally ignorant of what fashion is and isn’t. Maybe I’m simply too dense to “get it”. But after watching the Oct. 22 episode of Project Runway, I have to say I’m proud that I’m apparently “clueless.”

Some things really stuck out to me tonight.

To begin, the comment “Those weren’t fashion, those were clothes.” Wh-wh-WHAT? I guess I don’t know anyone that wears anything fashionable then, because in my world clothes are fashion. The people I know may not be able to afford the upscale clothing that is marketed as “fashion” nowadays, but in the end it’s still clothing. And I think Michael Khors’s comment illustrated a major problem with the fashion industry today: people are too independent today to be told what “fashion” is and isn’t. People wear what they like, and what they feel makes them look good. And other people’s opinions about that are becoming less and less important… We are in the era of “ur-Fashion”, and the quicker the fashion industry realizes that the better off they will be…

Everyone that I know grew up in an era when waves of different fashion expressions each held the stage at different times… Grunge, Goth, Rockabilly, Punk, Glam, Annie Hall, Laura Ashley, Retro, etc.–all of them extremes in their own right. Wearing an “extreme” isn’t so unusual anymore. People wear what’s appropriate for particular situations, what they happen to like, or simply what makes them feel good. That is not dictated by a Fashion Council anymore, it’s dictated by what’s available and one’s own sense of personal taste.

Having 4 panelists passing down judgements about what looks good and what doesn’t somehow strikes me as profoundly backward and prideful for some reason… There is a fashion style out there for everyone’s tastes now–it’s too late to make blanket pronouncements regarding what’s “fashionable” anymore… Mass media has blown that privilege out of the hands of a select few and thrust it securely into the consumer’s. Witness the variety of looks on Style.com, the plethora of fashion magazines, the prominence of online clothing purchases, the DIY/Handmade movement… The overly simplistic era of “colors for the season” (for example) has evaporated in the face of a new dynamic that is much too individual for any pat dictates to be credible anymore…

This episode demonstrated one thing to me: Mila Jovovich was the only judge that was humble enough to admit that her opinion was just her opinion, while the rest of the judges apparently continue to believe they actually have a tack on what the general populace thinks is good and bad fashion. They may be in positions of power and authority, but I don’t think that means their ideas are better or more relevant than anyone else’s anymore, especially in today’s society. It simply means they’ve demonstrated some talent and ability, someone believed in them, and they played their cards right to get to where they are. Tim Gunn summed it up perfectly at the end of the episode: “Personal tastes.”

I may be coming off a bit harsh, and that’s certainly not my intention. But I do believe that our concept of what is fashionable has changed forever because of our new ability to cater to our own desires and preferences that has developed in this era of global communication. And regarding Project Runway specifically–I am not sure that the ability to meet 4 judges standards and complete an artificial challenge qualifies a person to be called a legitimate fashion designer anymore… Given what’s happened to our contemporary world with the advent of the internet and the freedom of choice it offers, I’m not sure if fashion is as relevant as it used to be…

Can’t we just make stuff that we like and try hard to find others who like it enough to buy it? Maybe our creations and creativity aren’t what’s “wrong”, maybe it’s our ability to find the right consumers for it… And maybe we should stop worrying about what’s fashionable and start thinking about wearing what makes us happy… Because honestly, folks, is the stamp of approval of out of touch fashionistas really what we should be striving for? And ultimately, is our quest for personal relevance reliant upon someone else to pronounce that we’ve acquired it?

I guess I have too much faith in individuals to express themselves to believe that…

Anyway. Whew! This was a mouthful! LOL! Until next time, live life with Relish!

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!

Growing, Friends, and Inspiration

I got two more garments done today, as I sewed the buttons on two vests that I will be posting in the next couple of days to my two online vending sights.  Here’s a couple pics as a preview:
Vestredfrontpreview Vestredbackpreview
Interestingly, the way to make sure that more people see your stuff is to not post all of it at once.  A wise online entrepreneur using Etsy and Artfire and other handmade-centric merchant sites won’t post all their inventory in the beginning.  One trickles it in, because the merchant sites all have “recently posted” features.  The more you spread out the posting of your items the better it is, because then you show up more often in that mechanism and more people see your post.  If you post everything all at once, you’ve sort of wasted a lot of opportunity to be seen over an extended period of time.  So I’ll be posting these new vests over the next week, but not both together.

I managed to put together a new “Page” to my Facebook profile, which is centered on Relished Artistry, and sent out a mass email to all the people on my friends list (regardless of how I knew them) so they could join as “fans”, and not have to be constantly peppered with business-related posts through my own personal profile.  I’m gonna try really hard to keep the two separate and distinct, as I don’t like the idea of using my friends to promote my business.  My ethic is this:  I do what I do and I have what I have.  I don’t need to push it to within an inch of it’s life on all of my friends who don’t really care.  That’s not cool in my book.  I’ll share new stuff once in a while, but I want to keep my friends not lose them to capitalism.  I’m excited about the Page–we’ll see what happens.

I was told through my partner that my greenery looks like grape leaves.  I think I’m gonna run with that… I am gonna start practicing bunches of grapes and see how they look on velvet.  We’ll see what happens.  I’m also exploring pushing the “medieval” feel of things, and considering using “illustrated manuscripts” as inspiration for artistic expression.  We’ll see.  I’d like to figure out something to actually say with that style, not simply decorate stuff.  I’d like to incorporate some kind of statement that’s fun and interesting, as well as artistically expressive to wear, but we’ll see.  I have some thinking to do about that.

Okay, more later!

Live life with Relish!

Project Runway Thoughts

I just saw the premiere episode of Project Runway on Lifetime.  I’ve watched it for several years now–never regularly, though.  I caught an episode here and there, and I recognize the designers from past seasons.  The “All Star” 2-hour special that preceded the premiere was really interesting.  Seeing all those old designers come back and meld seasons was trippy.
But I have to say, the television show is so far from reality that it’s laughable…  Having some experience in clothing construction, I know what it takes to make a garment actually work, and the time constraints they are put under are ridiculous.  That’s not design, that’s “what-can-I-get-done-as-fast-as-I-can”…  I shudder to think of the quality that’s sacrificed simply to staple things together so they can be worn down a runway for 30 seconds (if that).  I laugh when I see them struggle to try to rethread a serger or change the needle…  Good grief, what world have they been living in that they don’t know how to operate the machines they’re working with?
I am the first to say that I know nothing about the fashion industry.  I blissfully developed what skills I have without having to dip my feet in that cesspool.  And I call it a cesspool with respect–it’s a damn vicious one where survival of the fittest is the rule of the day.  But life is more than that.  Theatre taught me that.  Life is more than how you look and how you give that first impression.  It’s more than letting your clothes dictate your “cool factor”, or dressing “appropriately” for the job.
Underneath all that industry is a world of real people who buy what comes out of the fashion factory.  And the people that I live and breath with, that I value, that I admire and that I ultimately want in my life… well…  They’re not the people that drive the fashion industry.  They’re the multitudes of people that wear clothing 3 and 5 years out of fashion.  They’re the masses that don’t pay attention to the latest line arriving at Sax or Nordstrom.  They’re the average every day joes that have to put two cents together to come up with four.
Fashion is not “the new”.  Fashion is belief in one’s self.  Fashion is confidence.  Fashion serves whatever purpose is required by the wearer for whatever situation they are in.
It’s not slamming together a dress in 24 hours with a bunch of carpet from a restaurant.
That’s simply thinking on your feet.  And the industry may have an element of that, but it certainly isn’t everything.
I would urge you to take Project Runway with a grain of salt.  Speed and ingenuity will always take a back seat to heart and care.  Real fashion isn’t about the designer at all, but how it makes the person wearing it feel.  And if they feel good in what they’re wearing, that’s all that’s important.
And the people in my world understand that.  They don’t want Mr. Blackman judging them on a best/worst dressed list…  They don’t need him to dictate what “looks good.”  According to whom??
Wear what you love.  Express yourself, and the people who should matter in your life will respect you.  If others don’t, then they don’t deserve to be in it anyway.

I just saw the premiere episode of Project Runway on Lifetime.  I’ve watched it for several years now–never regularly, though.  I caught an episode here and there, and I recognize the designers from past seasons.  The “All Star” 2-hour special that preceded the premiere was really interesting.  Seeing all those old designers come back and meld seasons was trippy.

But I have to say, the television show is so far from reality that it’s laughable…  Having some experience in clothing construction, I know what it takes to make a garment actually work, and the time constraints they are put under are ridiculous.  That’s not design, that’s “what-can-I-get-done-as-fast-as-I-can”…  I shudder to think of the quality that’s sacrificed simply to staple things together so they can be worn down a runway for 30 seconds (if that).  I laugh when I see them struggle to try to rethread a serger or change the needle…  Good grief, what world have they been living in that they don’t know how to operate the machines they’re working with?

I am the first to say that I know nothing about the fashion industry.  I blissfully developed what skills I have without having to dip my feet in that cesspool.  And I call it a cesspool with respect–it’s a damn vicious one where survival of the fittest is the rule of the day.  But life is more than that.  Theatre taught me that.  Life is more than how you look and how you give that first impression.  It’s more than letting your clothes dictate your “cool factor”, or dressing “appropriately” for the job.

Underneath all that industry is a world of real people who buy what comes out of the fashion factory.  And the people that I live and breath with, that I value, that I admire and that I ultimately want in my life… well…  They’re not the people that drive the fashion industry.  They’re the multitudes of people that wear clothing 3 and 5 years out of fashion.  They’re the masses that don’t pay attention to the latest line arriving at Sax or Nordstrom.  They’re the average every day joes that have to put two cents together to come up with four.

Fashion is not “the new”.  Fashion is belief in one’s self.  Fashion is confidence.  Fashion serves whatever purpose is required by the wearer for whatever situation they are in.

It’s not slamming together a dress in 24 hours with a bunch of carpet from a restaurant.

That’s simply thinking on your feet.  And the industry may have an element of that, but it certainly isn’t everything.

I would urge you to take Project Runway with a grain of salt.  Speed and ingenuity will always take a back seat to heart and care.  Real fashion isn’t about the designer at all, but how it makes the person wearing it feel.  And if they feel good in what they’re wearing, that’s all that’s important.

And the people in my world understand that.  They don’t want Mr. Blackman judging them on a best/worst dressed list…  They don’t need him to dictate what “looks good.”  According to whom??

Wear what you love.  Express yourself, and the people who should matter in your life will respect you.  If others don’t, then they don’t deserve to be in your life anyway.

Lunch with Chickenscratch!

ON Tuesday, I had coffee with another Etsyian, Beth Merriman.  Beth has her own Etsy store, http://www.chickscratch.etsy.com, where she sells vegan candles, bath, and body products that she makes from scratch.
I had gone on Etsy a while ago, investigating the different San Diego participants who had storefronts there.  There were a LOT!  And there still are…  There is an East County “team” (i.e. a loose group of sellers banding together through philosophy or geography) that has a huge number of members…  Beth is a member of that one as well as the Vegan team.
So I met her to pick her brain regarding her experiences in Etsy.  I asked her just how she does it!!  The items that she sells look wonderful–the quality of the photos is great, the variety of items is incredible, and she’s actually selling enough to keep her really busy!  Of course, she works as a dresser at the Globe as well, but between the two, she’s making it!
We chatted about her different experiences, and she shared with me some websites that I didn’t know about that helpful resources, and some features of Etsy that I wasn’t aware of.  I have a lot more to explore now–my brain was a tad overwhelmed…
After that, I headed out to Joann’s and bought a women’s vest pattern (oy, I’m being lazy lazy lazy…) and cut out two size 18s from the remaining black velveteen I had left over from the 50’s coat.  I actually have enough to make a couple handbags as well!  I sewed up the fashion fabric side of one and started to paint it–a project that I will continue in earnest on Wednesday.
I’m also gonna do several other things: 1) I experiment with different photography setups…  I’m going to take some kraft paper and mount it to the fence in my back yard, and see if it’s a background that works in the natural sunlight.  2) I finish one of the vests and post it.  3) I investigate more on Etsy and other sites that have information regarding it, 4) I research places to purchase checks, 5) I explore more of what my resale license does, business-wise.
Alrighty, more later!  Live life with Relish!

On Tuesday, I had coffee with another Etsyian, Beth Merriman.  Beth has her own Etsy store, www.chickscratch.etsy.com, where she sells vegan candles, bath, and body products that she makes from scratch.

I had gone on Etsy a while ago, investigating the different San Diego participants who had storefronts there.  There were a LOT!  And there still are…  There is an East County “team” (i.e. a loose group of sellers banding together through philosophy or geography) that has a huge number of members…  Beth is a member of that one as well as the Vegan team.

So I met her to pick her brain regarding her experiences in Etsy.  I asked her just how she does it!!  The items that she sells look wonderful–the quality of the photos is great, the variety of items is incredible, and she’s actually selling enough to keep her really busy!  Of course, she works as a dresser at the Globe as well, but between the two, she’s making it!

We chatted about her different experiences, and she shared with me some websites that I didn’t know about that helpful resources, and some features of Etsy that I wasn’t aware of.  I have a lot more to explore now–my brain was a tad overwhelmed…

After that, I headed out to Joann’s and bought a women’s vest pattern (oy, I’m being lazy lazy lazy…) and cut out two size 18s from the remaining black velveteen I had left over from the 50’s coat.  I actually have enough to make a couple handbags as well!  I sewed up the fashion fabric side of one and started to paint it–a project that I will continue in earnest on Wednesday.

I’m also gonna do several other things: 1) I experiment with different photography setups…  I’m going to take some kraft paper and mount it to the fence in my back yard, and see if it’s a background that works in the natural sunlight.  2) I finish one of the vests and post it.  3) I investigate more on Etsy and other sites that have information regarding it, 4) I research places to purchase checks, 5) I explore more of what my resale license does, business-wise.

Alrighty, more later!  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!

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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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Dress Forms Arrive!

Well, the dress forms are here!  I ordered, according to the shipping invoice, a size 8 cover for a medium form, and a size 12 cover for a medium-large form.

What I got was two of the (apparently) same size forms, and two covers labeled size 8 and 12.  The 8 was way too small for one of the forms, and the 12 was way too big.  So I took in the 12 and let out the 8.

Now I have two dress forms of exactly the same size.  <groan>  Both have identical measurements of 45 bust, 36 waist, and 45 hips.  Now how on EARTH are either of those even approaching a size 8 or a size 12??  They’re both size 20.

<sigh>

This isn’t bad.  Frankly, I’m gonna hold on to them because I want them, and making clothes for women who didn’t have model figures was something I want to do, so it’s not a bad investment.  I’m just a tad… Frustrated.  Either those foam forms are supposed to squeeze down to within an inch of their lives, or they actually have no idea what it is they’ve sent.   Or they do know.  They just don’t care.  Regardless, I will be ordering some smaller forms in the future, just not right now.  I have to worry about an iron first…  I can crush down the forms with wide elastic and sports bandages, so I’m not worried too much.  I need to get an iron first, but after that I’ll invest in a new dress form that’s a tad smaller.

On a side note, the average women’s size in America is 14.  I’m sorry, but I guess I don’t know many women that fit into a size 14.  I look at that dress form and think it looks normal.  But seeing as how I’m used to fitting women at the university for the last 10 years that were size 2 and 4, I guess my eye is a bit askew.  Regardless, they’re here!

And the upside is that now I can take some pictures on forms, which I have provided.  Whew!  More where they came from coming soon!

Life life with relish!

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Some Confusing Errors

Oh good grief!  This is why one goes through a professional to get one’s business formed: paperwork errors.

I finally got word back from the state of California regarding my LLC application filing, and they sent it back…

Apparently, I followed the “do it yourself” Nolo guide a little too closely.  See, Nolo has you write out everything in one’s Articles of Organization in a format that is then submitted to the state, making a big deal about some of the pieces including the “Purpose of LLC” section.  So not knowing what I was doing, I followed their instructions and pondered a statement regarding the “purpose” of Relished Artistry, and included that in my Articles of Organization.

Like a good little boy, I also followed the links that Nolo suggested, and went to the online website for filing the paperwork to see what was there.  Lo and behold, there’s an actual form one fills out (LLC-1) that has spaces for all the information the Nolo book just took 3 chapters to describe.  So I fill it out and send BOTH to the Secretary of State in California.

Well, apparently, the purpose section of my non-formatted document, and the purpose section of the pre-made form didn’t match up.  Nolo suggested heartily that I put in wording in my purpose section that described my LLC in particular–Relished Artistry’s actual purpose.  But the form that the State provides has boilerplate language that is the minimum required by the state.  Essentially it says the purpose of the LLC is to be able to do whatever LLC’s are legally able to do.  That’s it.  I included that in my own document (because legally I had to) but I had also followed Nolo’s advice and added language that referred specifically to Relished Artistry’s purpose as producing wearable art.

So when I submitted them both together, they conflicted.  And they sent it back, saying that I either need to make both the form and the document match (since they felt the document was an “attachment” to my application) or just not file my own document.

So I sent it back today, simply dropping the Nolo document and resubmitting it.  AARGH.  Guess that shows me what’s up.  : (

<sigh>

Live life with Relish!

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