Saturday, February 27, 2010

well, I did make the pattern...

Well, that sleeve pattern is still eluding me. But in my defense, have you seen this?

It's been a bit of an obsession this week. a) i wanted to get it done since my friend has been waiting for this and b) i wanted this *#@&))!* fur out of my studio. You know, two years ago i made a monkey costume for my son that was a similar fabric, and i vowed on all that was holy (that being kahlua and girl scout Thin Mints) that i would NEVER, EVER, NEVER, NOT IF THE DALAI LAMA ASKED ME DIRECTLY, work with this material again!

And then there it was. While searching for the right fabric, and failing, it gleamed and beckoned, like Excalibur being held by the Lady of the Lake. Ok, so strange women, lying in ponds distributing fabric is no system for baby blanket creation. But still, look at it! I mean, how perfect is perfect? (and it was on sale!)

This piece was work, don't doubt me on that. I used the Sew Baby pattern for Towel cover-ups, modifying the bear pattern. modifying...let me think...let's change that to completely altering and then creating from scratch. Ok, i used the eyes. And the method for attaching the hood. But the rest of it is mine all mine.

First was the fact that i was not using towels and washcloths as the pattern indicates. I had to create my own with the fur and flannel. I tried first, like a n00b to just sew the fur & flannel right sides together and then turn. WRONG. I must mention here that not only does this fur deposit little fuzzies EVERYWHERE, but it's a stretchy material with a heavy nap that will shift and stretch. That first piece sewn together and turned looked like a jr. high home ec. project. So i had to come at this different.

I cut a piece of flannel the size i wanted for the "towel" and then turned in and pressed the edges as if i were going to hem it. Then i cut a similar sized piece of the fur and laid in on top--wrong side to wrong side. Then i carefully turned the edge in and pinned it to the flannel. Little by little until it was all pinned and turned in. Then i brought it over to my economy model machine and sewed a straight line--slowly and methodically. Luckily the nap of the fur pretty much hid the seam.

I should mention here that i chose to use my economy machine because my machine that also does embroidery was otherwise occupied. I did try to bring in this machine later for the embroidery on the face but had to go back to the economy machine because my fancy schmancy machine couldn't handle the materials...friggin machines!

Anyway, as far as the hood goes, I tried to use the bear pattern and "modify" it to make it like a lion, but in the end, it looked like a rabbit. The cheeks were too big and round. So i have to look at some lions and figure out the whole snout/nose/cheeks layout. Once that happened though, it came together fairly easily. I did use the eyes for the pattern, and just made the ears smaller.

the mane. I tried three or four different methods until i realized that i would have to do this by hand. I need to mention here, i hate hand sewing. If there is a way to do it with my machine, i will find a way. I always feel like hand sewn stuff looks sloppy--probably because my hand-sewing is sloppy. But i sat down with the hood over my knee and wound the rayon ribbon back and forth, tacking it down on each turn. Then i covered that with some ric-rac to cover my ugly hand stitches.

Once that hood was done--which is what took up most of my week, the rest came together fairly easily.

This was definitely a challenging project. But it was good for my creativity. It forced me out of my box a little, and challenged my patience. But it was also good for me to get into my studio this week and quit wallowing in my own issues. I had just been discussing with a friend yesterday that it was a good thing i was a musician through high school because it served as an outlet for my anger/frustration/confusion/ISSUES. With all that is going on with Ben and the school district, i needed this project to force me to get back to work and get back to life.

Lessons learned this week:

  • I need to embrace my Monty Python sensibilities.
  • I never want to work with this material AGAIN.
  • Simpler sewing machines will always get the job done.
  • Creative outlets are more than just a hobby--they can be therapy as well.
  • I need to charge an exorbitant amount for this next time, so no one will want it...

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Lions and Bowling Shirts and Autism, oh my!

Yeah. It's been that kind of week.

I don't think I've touched my Armstrong all week. Looked at it from across the room a couple times. Thought about it once, maybe twice. But right now I am up to my eyeballs in "other".

I FINALLY finished an order (two of two) that had been haunting me since the end of last year, and put it in the mail, away from my sight, thank you very much, check is in the mail. It seems I just had a plethora of shirt orders all at once, and along with other environmental issues (a moist studio to be exact) I just got burned out on the swank bowling shirts I was making. But now they are all done, and I don't have any on my order list officially, although i suspect a few more are in my future. ;) I hadn't realized how much it was weighing on me, getting these shirts done, and how much I was beginning to dislike the process. It's always that danger other crafter/business people warn about--when your craft becomes work, sometimes it's not fun. I suppose I had to hit that wall at some point. The key is what do I do when I hit it again?

And now I'm in a weird place--a friend asked me to create something for which I have no pattern. THIS appeals to me. It really engages the cerebral cortex and get's the juices flowing. However it also exhausts me because I'll think I've got it, and then I don't. I'm creating a hooded baby blanket that looks like a lion. I know, aaawwwww, right? Well, I haven't exactly found awww yet, but yesterday i definitely got closer. I should say, i picked the most difficult material(but also the most perfect!) to work with, and the first prototype looked more like a rabbit than a lion. So after a great deal of grumbling, swearing like a sailor, machine changes and then more swearing, only to return to the same machine i was using first, a nice Sade mix to listen to while i work, and the proper amount of caffeine, I'm on incarnation #2. When I walked out of my studio yesterday, it was looking like a lioness. I'm hoping the addition of a rayon ribbon mane will be success and also end this project for me. I think it's safe to say that I have no patience for projects that don't just come together with the snap of my fingers! I guess I've been lucky in my creative gene, but not in my patience gene. (hah! like i have a patience gene!)

On top of that I got the whammy this week. It looks like the local school district is going to designate my son as Autistic. Not that I didn't see it coming--but it's still a blow to the gut the first time you hear someone say it. And not that this is an actual diagnosis, or that half an hour with a school psychologist with whom my son wanted nothing to do is any indication of the actual picture my son presents. But we all know he's not where he should be and that it's bigger than a "speech problem", and that he needs every service he can get to achieve his full potential. I get that. Whether it's ASD or PDD-NOS, or any other stupid acronym they can create to strike fear into the hearts of everyday parents, he's still a phenomenal kid. And having seen tremendous progress in the last few months with speech therapy alone, I have no doubt he is gonna kick ass at whatever program they offer us in two weeks.

As you can imagine it's been a helluva week over here. *still is*
And drafting a sleeve pattern has really been last on my list. Still is.

And have I mentioned I've started a new potty training regimen? Like a glutton for punishment? (but my son HAS put together that sitting on the potty for a minute or more is the equivalent of ONE m&m, and he sees no problem with this. step one, check.--now, on to cotton underpants without complaint. We've decided that calling them underpants might be the problem, and are now referring to them as "drahws"--say it out loud and you'll understand. That hasn't made him want to wear them though. Reese's peanut butter cups has invited interest though...)

Lessons learned this week:
-Sewing for business can take the "fun" out of it. An outlet/creative push needs be found.
-There has to be a herbal supplement to help with "patience" out there, or I'm doomed.
-Labels blow
-a kiss and hug from my son is worth more than any professional opinion.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

2/3 of the way

This is the skirt sloper. The second third of my "working pattern". I was able to lay out some paper and my rulers and bust this thing out in what I think may have been 10 minutes. AND, I did this while my son was awake and curious.

Ok, he was distracted with Yo Gabba Gabba. Was this good parenting? Probably not. But since I am not currently competing for most awesome and selfless mom in the world, I'll accept that. I'm sure had any of the mothers in my prior "Mommy & Me" group been present, they would have clucked and squawked about the fact that he was (gasp!) watching TV, eating a processed snack and that the dustbunnies under my couch are about to take over the house. Now, I could worry about what these women think of me and my parenting style, or, I could continue to provide them with anecdotal horror stories and in turn make them feel better about who they are and how well they judge others. I'm a giver that way.

He did come over at one point with an avid curiosity about my squaring ruler and the shiny blue sharpie I was wielding, but I became very stern and he changed his mind. I suppose in the future I will have to provide him with some paper and a ruler of his own. Who knows? Maybe I will spawn a future designer? Diddy's mother was a seamstress and he spent his youth laying out patterns for her. Now he has his own derivative clothing line, stinky cologne, a mediocre overpriced vodka and the largest white wardrobe anyone has seen since Fantasy Island. Everyone has to get their start somewhere...

My next step is two-fold. First, I have to create the sleeve sloper which will complete my working pattern based on my size. And then I am going to measure and create slopers for one of my dressforms so that I don't have to be delayed by fitting problems (yeah--I've got a fitting problem that I need other hands for on the bodice sloper. An easy fix--but it's under my arm, so not a solo fix.) And it will probably be good practice to make slopers for another size. Pete read some book whose name eludes me at present that discusses the fact that great skill comes from some crazy number of practice hours (think Larry Bird and free-throws). So, practice I will.

Lessons learned:
  • This does get easier
  • A distracted toddler can mean a productive mommy
  • anyone can have their own stupid clothing line
  • practice makes perfect.

Thursday, February 11, 2010


It's like I'm lookin' for any excuse. Trust me, I've got a couple good ones, but I find i am missing my gumption. And it's not just this project--although it has seriously sat on the backburner for too many days.

Excuse #1: the Flood
Seriously, I've considered building an ark this season. El Nino, or global warming, these rain storms are wreaking havoc on my studio. My husband finally suggested that we get a shop vac, since waterproofing the basement just isn't an option at present. So, add THAT to my to-do list. I'm glad i got with the program a few months ago to make sure everything at floor level was in a plastic tub. We've had 7 years of no flooding in there, and this year? Anyone got a goat i can sacrifice?

Excuse #2: Illness
Again, seriously! I got a flu shot this year. Why am i continuously sick? I've given up dairy, I've given up artificial sweeteners, I'm working on all those other food vices, and I don't smoke (anymore). WHat's the deal? As i type, my throat is on fire. Ok, mild embers, but still! Ok, ok, I don't take vitamins, and i prolly should. Lord knows I don't drink enough water--but who knows what the proper amount is anymore? Oh, and i live with a germ factory. 3 years old and male. We have been blessed with a very healthy boy who rarely has a cold, but he sure does carry them around...

All my other excuses are pretty lame really. Lack of motivation, dishes that need to get done (that i could do instead of writing a dumb blog), worrying about 5 million other things that won't change with my worrying, just trying to catch up with the frickin' TV schedule, signing up for new insurance, trying to build business, and the dog. Ok, not the dog so much, but he needs some love too.

I know i struggle with depression, although self-diagnosed. It would seem i need to do something to get out of this funk, because it's draggin' me down.

Anyone got a paddle?

Monday, February 8, 2010

So Much for Technology

So, while I lay in bed-wide-eyed and impossibly awake at 4am this morning, my mind began to do some work. Not with my permission, mind you. I was running through my to-do list, and invariably ran though a few things on my pattern-making project. I was thinking, I need to really finish that bodice sloper because I need to gain some momentum. Then it struck me--drawing this on the computer is a complete waste of my time. In the end, I will have to take that fitted bodice and transfer those new marks/measurements to paper. Most might think, so? Well, remember the Bechemel quality of this piece. I don't make this pattern to wear--this is the pattern I "alter" to create the patterns I wear. It is the base, the beginning, the kick-off if you will. Unless I sit down and meticulously measure all the new lines and angles of the fitted bodice, and then transfer them to the computer drawing, there is no way I can use the computer drawing to create other patterns.


So maybe mother nature was telling me to draw these by hand all those weeks ago.

And now everything is different. No more work a little here, work a little there on the computer--which is perfect when you have a toddler running around. No, I have to create a workspace, which is far more difficult when someone wants to "help."

I need to add here that our little angel has a receptive language problem--which means, among other things, he doesn't always "get" what I say. So it isn't as simple as just sitting him down and rationalizing with him in a way you can with other three-year-olds. And I must also mention that lately, he finds it "amusing" when I tell him no. (oh yes, he has mastered and understands that one--understands it enough that he knows laughing at me when I say it will get under my skin and make me cranky, which he no doubt finds more amusing than Yo Gabba Gabba and Blues Clues combined. I told you, it's a language problem not a thinking problem. In other aspects, he is a very typical, very normal kid. He can manipulate with the best, he just uses different tools other than language...)

So do I wait until he naps? That IS my traditional studio time--but its also the time I get orders done. Which, I have to mention I haven't been able to do because someone isn't napping as "regularly" as he has in the past ( an issue with which I currently refuse to come to grips).

Or do I try to set up something on the table, and hope he doesn't destroy it before I have a change to grab that sharpie out of his grubby little fist? (yikes! Sharpies!) If you have children, I know you feel my dilemma.

When I set up my studio downstairs, I figured it would be the best place. a) I have a lot of stuff. I mean A LOT and b) it was a place away from the sightline of chores needing to be done, and other temptations. Ben isn't really old enough, (or receptive enough) to play down there while I work, and since it's in our "basement" there are other hazards down there that could cause him some trouble. Not to mention that the floor is just filthy concrete that I try to keep swept, but let's face the reality of a poorly hung door and wind...

I find myself yearning for a space up here that is also kid-friendly(ish), where he might play and I might work (does such a fantasy land exist?) Or at lease be in the next room playing while I work. Where I can get up from time to time and make him laugh by telling him no. Great--something else to distract me from the work i need and want to do...

I hate waking up early.

Lessons learned:

Listen to mother nature. That ol' bitch knows what she's saying.
Making a toddler laugh isn't always fun.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

The simplest task

well, since mother nature has seen fit to sabotage my business with 2in of water on the floor of my studio, I figured I should work on this next sloper instead of sitting around eating chocolate covered raisins and watching the Models of Project Runway--or whatever that damn show is called. I've pretty much lost interest in their petty lives and even pettier barbs at one another...

On to the skirt sloper. I figured i would start with my blog post since i i somehow didn't check my print quality on my measurement worksheets, and they are currently printing at best quality. So i should be able to make those figures in the next hour when my printer is done... *sigh*

Lesson learned: always check your printer settings

I am going to admit a little arrogance here. Skirts i can do. Not that they're hard mind you. But i can pretty much take any pattern, or idea, and as long as i have the waist & hip measurement, I can whip something together. I even had my fist stab at a maternity dress last year, and the skirt was the best part (she wanted it to hug her beautiful bump, and it did!) And I'm kinda looking at this next sloper as a pain. I mean, does anyone even wear a straight, darted skirt anymore--i mean anyone that I know? But, I cannot go on forever creating the elastic waist, gathered skirt--tiered even. The peasant skirt will always be a hit, but i doubt even Ms. Armstrong would spend much time teaching how that would be made.

But I have to remind myself that this sloper is again the base from which all skirts are made. And i don't just mean seperate skirts. A skirt also refers to the bottom half of a dress with a set-in waist. If i want to expand my eveningwear/bridal skills, I've got to get a little more detailed in my skirt making. If i know my weaknesses are bodices, then i can't afford to gain any more weakness in my skirt-making.

And honestly, I've been eyeing some 40's/50's styles that i'd like to try--and aside from a nice swing skirt, many of them hug the curves...

Lesson 2: Humility? remember that?

Ahhhh...silence. The printer is done and i am ready to open my drawing program and draw a skirt sloper. Let's use some of this arrogance and get this thing done and printed today!