Thursday, December 6, 2012

Oh My God, Guys

So. It's been a while...
Okay okay okay.
So first I went on vacation, right? And while I was gone I fell and sprained my hand so bad that I had to go in for x-rays TWICE over the course of a month. So, I had to take down all my custom stuff and spend quite a few weeks sitting in front of the TV with a look of vexed frustration and boredom on my face.
THEN, when my wrist was starting to feel good enough to sew again I left town again for three weeks, to stay with my Dad after he had surgery. I was stymied in my attempts to get some holiday sewing done while I was there (sewing machine on the fritz) so the first thing I did when I got home was make something insane like five or six stuffed rabbits for the babies in the family this year (DUDES, for serious, enough with the babies already).
And, now I can finally sew for the shop again! Yaaaay! This is a little project, for sure, but I am super excited to have accomplished something. It's up in the shop already because I couldn't wait another day! It rained today but I managed to get some (maybe not amazing, but photography is not my forte) photos this afternoon.
I'm opening back up for custom orders, too, so feel free to send me convos and emails again.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Seamstress for the Band

There is a bit of a ballerina in my soul, so I totally fell in love with these shoes as soon as I saw them on Pinterest:
The problem? They are $450! For ballet flats! Dudes! I am a connoisseur of stupidly expensive shoes, and even I think that is just plain ridiculous. There are a lot of knock-offs right now. I guess they are trendy:

but the black ones are always out of stock (or STILL too freakin' expensive) or don't come in my size, anyway. There are some that are cheaper! And some that I can get in my size... but they are SUPER UGLY. This, my friends, is what we used to call (back in my day, sonny) OOGLAY.

So I threw my hands up in disgust and just went out and bought a yard of elastic and some cheap flats at Ross. A couple of days worth of gluing and clamping and here they are. I think they came out pretty cute!
Check it out:

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Tools of the Trade

Here are some of the more unexpected tools of my trade. Sewing takes more than needles and thread! Can you guess what they are all for?
-Bolt cutters: for cutting the spiral steel boning that goes in corsets and the like.
-Pliers: for pulling needles through heavyweight fabric and manipulating jewelry findings
-Toothbrush: I have a few. One for detail cleaning, one for brushing chalk (marking) powder out of fabric, and another one that I am not sure what I do with it, either (it's just in there!)
-Chopstick: for turning points (in collars, pockets, etc) and creating holes for lacing grommets (bra tops, corsets, etc)
-Awl: for poking things (especially grommet holes, in preparation for the chopstick)
-Surgical hemostats: probably the most useful tool in the house. I use it for everything from turning points to threading sewing machine needles to fishing lost doilies out of the bathroom sink drain.
-Emery board: you'd be amazed how often things need to be filed down. Buttons, beads, baubles, my fingernails when they get torn up during sewing...
-Bamboo skewer: for poking, probing, adjusting, gluing, and general mayhem

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Now back to ignoring my sewing machine...

So, a new item for the shop every two to three months, huh? Way to go, me!
In May I was hip-deep in custom orders and at the start of June I went back to the theater for the Summer. I had no idea what that would entail, and in the end it took me WAY longer than I had hoped to get this newest dress project done. But tell you something you *don't* know, am I right?
The best laid plans and all of that razzmatazz.
Anyhoo. So, here we go, a new thing! Woo!
This dress was made using a style similar to the combinations/romper that I recently made (if you can call two months ago "recent") but with a tea-length A-line skirt. The top features a little pink cameo brooch that I bought probably close to a year ago and the dress is made from the same lace as the "Charlize" bloomers. I liked the combo of taupe lace and pink so much that I dredged it back up again to kill off this last remnant piece that I had in my stash.
Anyway, it's all very Spring-appropriate even though it took me well in to the Summer to get it done.
I'm just glad I have something done!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Polyvore and Pinterest Will Ruin Me Yet

Oh my god, guys. Polyvore has come in to my life. I SO did not need another way to waste time on the internet. As if my Pinterest addiction wasn't bad enough! ARGH! I predict I will stop sleeping entirely and just spend all of my time drinking tea and huddling in front of the computer in the dark. Eyes bloodshot, hair limp, bony fingers clutching at my mouse...

Friday, April 27, 2012

Alexander McQueen, OMG

So, through Pinterest I recently discovered that I like Alexander McQueen. Now, of course a designer should be looking at and admiring/learning from other designer's work, but to be honest the whole "fashion week" culture bores and annoys me. Clothes that are impractical paraded around on women who are too skinny wearing hats that are Too Much? No thanks. And when I think McQueen I always think of this:
The Duchess of Cambridge's wedding dress. Which is pretty enough. I was deeply relieved when I first saw it. I am not a fan of the bow thing on the butt or the strange placement of the lace on the bodice (it sort of centers around her boobs, not the way I would have done it but whatever), but it's pretty okay.

or this:
What are these, hooves? Who wears these? I mean besides Lady Gaga. Anyone? No. Because they are STUPID. I'll tell you what they are, they are an even dumber looking fashionable version of "ballet heels" which are A) not supposed to be worn outside the boudoir and B) also stupid looking. Hand to god, when I was looking for a photo of these shoes all I had to type in to Google was "Alexander McQueen crazy shoes"

Anyway, so my idea of what Alexander McQueen stood for hasn't really been anything that excited me.
But, Pinterest led me to many many fashion blogs. And from there it was pretty much all over. So, without further ado here is what I have learned about Alexander McQueen, which has sort of blown me away:
On Jessia Chastain (who I assume is an actress because I have little
to no grip on popular culture) at the Oscars. Oooh! Aaah!
Here. Have another pretty thing.

But these are my favorites.
I love the sleeves! La-dee-doo

Monday, April 9, 2012

Side Projects

I'm not sure why, but lately I have been craving gentle and soothing projects (no, I tell a lie. I *do* know why. Because life has been CRAZY.) so I have been spending a little time finishing up old projects and working on small projects for the destash shop. Small, self-contained projects, like dolls, knitting, and hand embroidery, are a nice little break from regular garment-sewing. You don't have to work with large quantities of any of the materials involved, and they can be fit in around the other things happening in life.
I am no great embroidery expert, but here are two embroidered panels I recently listed in my destash shop. They are framed in janky old picture frames that we bought at an antiques fair a couple of years ago and repainted.

This is as close as you can get to a family sewing motto. It is
based on the sign my great grandmother kept
above her own sewing area.

This one is my favorite constellation (what, doesn't everyone have
a favorite constellation?), Orion, of course. Complete with
his "knee" (or dong, depending on your viewpoint) nebula.
See, I always thought he looked like he was doing
a little crazy dance with one knee all bent and both arms out,

Sunday, April 8, 2012

The Neverending Project/s

Sometimes a project just sort of bogs down. I usually manage to pick it back up again after a brief pause and power through it, but there have been a few that just sort of... sit around... for a long time. A really long time. Like, years. Seriously. After a couple of years on the shelf I just kind of get annoyed with them and tired of having them in my life. It's often projects that were a lot more expensive and involved than I was hoping.
Take, for example, two projects that I recently finished (for no good reason, I just got an urge to see them done and gone, and I was searching for things to work on that wouldn't require too much thinking).
Example A)
Duchess Grey chemise top in ivory lace and pearls:

This project, according to my receipts, was started two whole years ago. Most of the work was done. I had designed a way to add the pearl chains that would allow for easy cleaning and storage and had them strung and ready to go. The body of the top was done. I just needed to attach the layers at the underarms and then add the straps and bow. I bogged down on this for some reason and it sat it a bag waiting for me, making me feel guilty whenever I ran across it. Especially because the materials involved here were stupidly expensive. I finally got back around to it and finished it up quickly enough that I wonder what the heck took me so long.

Example B)
Black silk dupioni and pheasant feather pillbox hat:

This one sat incomplete for no less than three full years. I wanted to make a pillbox hat for a long time. But, you see, the problem is that millinery supplies are not that easy to come by these days. And I couldn't find anyone (or any references) that could explain the process of hat-making to me. So I had to reinvent the wheel. I designed and built this entire thing from scratch. I got the base and top completely built and covered in the silk dupioni before I bogged down on this one. The lining was half-way attached, as well. All that was left was adding a tiny detail to the lining, stitching it in to the hat, adding loops for bobby pins, attaching the top to the body, and gluing down the feathers. That sounds like a lot of work but it was only a day or two worth of effort, in reality. All the hard stuff was already done.
There are no excuses for how long I let this sit around. I think I just fall out of love with things, and the longer I work on them the less I am interested in them. Also, the more closely involved in them I am the worse and more insurmountable the entire thing seems.

ANYWAY! TA-DA! I finished two things that I thought would never get the heck out of my sewing room! YYAAAAYYYYY ME!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Combinations! Oh my!

I have been planning to make some combinations for quite a while, now. Combination underwear (or just "combinations") were a style of ladies unmentionable underthingies during the Edwardian era through the 1920's. You might call them rompers or jumpsuits, today, but more delicate than those terms really imply. Here is a scandalous lady on a naughty "French postcard" for reference:
Are you totally scandalized now, or what?

 I started this project by pouring over vintage patterns for easy-fit rompers of the 1980s. Eventually I ended up with a design I was happy with and I set to work on a length of lovely buttery soft satin and some fabulous vintage trim. Along the way there were a lot of false starts and a crazy amount of broken thread, but at the end of the day I am pretty happy with the way it all turned out.

Total scandal around here, dudes.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

What The Designer Would Be Wearing This Season If It Wasn't So Freaking Hot Outside

My new purple wool melton coat, which I made right at the tail end of last Winter. So I was really looking forward to the cool weather this year and wearing my nice new coat! I have only worn it ONCE this Winter! Today it is 70 degrees! I give up on this season.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Kitsch Is Cool

So I've noticed a trend with my shop. Etsy recently updated it's item posting process to include "styles" for each item. You can pick up to two styles, such as retro or nautical. I use those two a lot, obviously. The thing I have noticed, though, is that often when I am posting something I can't think of another style to use so I select "kitsch". Which is interesting, because I don't think I ever would have described my style that way before. I would certainly have thought of "retro" on my own. Or "burlesque". But kitsch? Hmm. I think I have learned something new about my self.
For example here is a new project I made today. I have been on a hand embroidery tear this week. Anyway, it is certainly "nautical" and it's got to be "retro", but I also found myself deciding it was "kitschy". What do you think?

Saturday, January 28, 2012

On The Prowl!

I know I have mentioned that I used to work at an independent fabric store. For the entire 5+ years I was there this hilarious jaguar print silk habotai sat on the clearance rack calling my name and daring me to design something fabulous to make with it. Many times I was on the verge of buying some when... nah, I thought better of it. Well, on my last day at the store I was buying a bunch of supplies to make use of my employee discount while I still could, and I decided the time had come for me and this fabric. It had been marked down three times and I don't think anyone in my entire time there had purchased any of it. What a shame! So I bought all of it. All. Of. It.
It really is amusing stuff. Check it out in my destash shop for a close up view of the fabric. I ended up making a retro pin-up girl outfit with it, which turned out super cute. I made little floaty tap pants for the set, but the piece de resistance is the top, which I based on a design from a pattern book circa 1970s.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


My mother in law was a fantastic seamstress and all around artist (a lot like my own mother mixed with me, really). After she passed away I was pretty much the only person in the family who knew what most of her equipment and supplies (she had a tremendous amount of both) were and how to use them, so the task of going through everything has fallen to me. Here is a little treasure I found today in a (one of MANY) box of buttons. These are vintage sterling silver Mexican made tribal mask buttons. I don't know what to use them on, but little gems like this are turning up everywhere I look. It's not a happy task, but it is most certainly an enthralling one.