Sunday, April 29, 2012

The End of the Cra-zy Month

Whew.  That was a ton of work to get through, but it's nice to have it when it's there.  It's also nice to know I could manage all of it along with other things I had on my plate!  Don't come to my house for an inspection, though - still trying to get caught up on housework!  Something had to give, you know!

My client was kind enough to send me some of the photos she had taken of the garments for the boutique owner.  See, I told you my dress form just didn't do them justice!

Photo property of Kali Familigo

Photo property of Kali Familigo

Photo property of Kali Familigo

Photo property of Kali Familigo

These will be available soon in the Luna Boutique on Beach Blvd in Huntington Beach.  Check them out on Facebook:

Now that I have a break of sorts, of course I needed to do something crafty, just because. I have some projects that have been on hold, like forever.....but one thing I've been needing to do is to get my Kindle Fire protected.  Not talking about the extended warranty (available from at a very reasonable cost) - took care of that the second day I had the Kindle.  Nor do I mean the screen protector - bought that the second day, too - and I highly recommend putting one on if you have a Fire.  Streaming videos or reading a novel isn't quite as fun when you're looking through a scratched screen and all those wandering pixels.

No, the protection I'm talking about is the padded, customized, crafty type.  Like the patterns available from the project sections of awesome places like Urban Threads: )
or like the ones you can buy on Etsy: 

But you know me.  I can't pass up an opportunity to make one of my own.  Which is exactly what I did, from scraps of black canvas from another project, liner material purchased out of the remnant bin at my local fabric store, an embroidery pattern from Urban Threads, a hair tie, and a button out of my stash.

This embroidery design was too awesome to pass up
on Banned Book Day.   If memory serves, Urban Threads
provided this design free of charge.

I followed the project instructions from Urban Threads (see link above)
except that I didn't add the inside pocket.  I couldn't figure out
any reason to have a pocket for this thing.  It's not like you'll need it
for a bookmark.  (LOL!)

Fits nice and snug.
And yes, those bubbles are a result of my less than fantastic
screen-protector-applying skills. How embarrassing. 

Padding, padding, padding.  Made the dimensions of the cover
really, really tight and it almost didn't fit the Kindle.  Next time
I'll add more to the length & width of the fabric, the cardboard,
and the spacing between the front & back to accommodate the
added thickness.

And you KNOW there will be a next time.  Girl's gotta have
wardrobe options, yo?
 I also decided that my sewing chair needed a bit of a makeover.  I perused the internet looking for a way to make a cover for this chair.  I looked at this:

What I really wanted, though, was a slipcover.  I did NOT want to have to get down on my hands and knees (potentially hurting myself in the process) and attempt to take this chair apart screw by screw.  And sweat bullets trying to remember which part went where when I went to put it back together again.  So, following my sillier instincts, I decided to just throw the fabric over the chair and start pinning until it fit how I liked.  It resulted in some strange tucks & darts, especially when I realized that the scrap of upholstery fabric I'd bought already had some pieces cut from it.  But it's totally workable.  

Still needs some elastic or a drawstring at the bottom,
but here is the mostly finished slipcover.

The Sewing Assistant approves.


Friday, April 27, 2012

Cra-zy Month, Part 2

Funny how when I know I'm going to have some time off after a grueling schedule, I always think I'm going to get a lot of my own projects done, the house cleaned, have time to read and watch movies no one else in the family wants to watch, etc....

Instead, I find myself vegging far more than I should.  Maybe I need the downtime, I don't know.  The upside is that now I can get caught up on unzipping and organizing a whole lotta embroidery files I've downloaded over the past two years.  I've found that when I can do a little bit every time I download, I can keep up - but it's like the coupons sitting on the dining room table - once I get behind because of work and the crazy busy rehearsal/performance schedule my son has, it stacks up and up and up until it looks like the leaning tower of Pisa.  Oof.  Same goes for my own projects.  You could say that my workroom looks like Pisa Squared. Or Cubed.  If the tower were made from piles of multi-colored fabric, anyway.

The nice part about getting a bit caught up is that I'm finding a lot of embroidery files I forgot I purchased - and now I can't wait to use in some kind of project.  I was literally jumping up and down in my computer chair when I unearthed a few of these last night.  The Sewing Assistant, briefly yanked from his evening nap, looked up at me like I'd lost my mind and then promptly fell back asleep.

Party pooper.

While I'm merrily unzipping away, between loads of laundry and dishes, here are a few more photos of what I've been working on this month:

Sales sample of a kimono-styled wrap top for a
new client.

The front was matched expertly by the patternmaker
I mentioned yesterday, along with the two-part sleeves
and the neckband.

The back was originally meant to be cut in two pieces,
which would have rendered the jacket much better fitting.
However, the patternmaker thought using this part of the print
would be better shown off by cutting it in one piece.

And more.  This one wasn't exactly my favorite.  It looked like something you might see in a Doctor Who episode.  

The most unfortunate thing about this jacket is that the client asked me to make up a pair of matching capri pants, and I was trying to match the print from the back of the jacket.  Since the patternmaker had cut the kimono top on the cross-grain, and it looked like this one was done the same way, I cut the pants on the same grain.  Only I misjudged that pattern on the back - so the print on the pants goes perpendicular to the pattern on the top.  Oy.  Not a good mistake to make on such expensive fabric.  While trying to get more fabric to remake the pants, the client also discovered something very unpleasant - apparently, the company had sold him some runs of fabric that have been discontinued and so now he is scrambling to figure out what he can show potential clients out of the run of garments we've made.  Not sure yet how many pieces in his growing collection this will affect - I should know by the end of next week (thus my sudden and unusual break time).

A more tailored, unlined jacket.
For some reason, the theme to the Twilight Zone
is running through my head now.

The patternmaker engineered these awesome
turn-back rounded cuffs.  I envy her skills, I really do.

Welt pocketses!

A two-piece lapel - honestly, I would NEVER have
come up with that idea in a squillion years.  A
brilliant idea for showcasing some contrasting or
artistic fabrics.

The pattern maker was experiencing some issues she needed to settle in her personal life, so the client asked if I would please cut out the next batch of garments myself.  OY.  His primary focus on these garments was to showcase, balance, but not EXACTLY MATCH the motifs from each of these prints, to set them off at their best advantage.  This was a little scary.  This fabric is from Holland, is custom printed (double sided) in a batik style print process.  Knowing what a genius the pattern maker was in the way she mastered the prints on the prior garments, intimidated doesn't even BEGIN to cover how I felt.

And this didn't help:

Not loving this next fabric selection, for another kimono & capri pant set.
Something seems vaguely familiar about this print.....

Oh, yeah.  
This is kind of what the inside of my head feels like 
during a migraine, if I could visualize it.  All this print would need for illustration
is a giant pickaxe slicing through it and it would be complete.
The background reminded me of the old-fashioned pillow ticking I remember from very
uncomfortable, prickly feather pillows from my childhood.
UGH.  What a combo of ideas.  No wonder I had such an aversion to it.

Meh.  There was really no interesting way to cut this
fabric so that there were motifs highlighted or balanced
anywhere in the jacket, which was the client's primary focus
on this line.  Tricky, tricky, tricky.
Now this one reminded me of those wonderful Hermes scarves that
beautiful jet-setters used to wear back in the 60's.  

Fantaisies Indiennes 
signed Loic Dubigeon,
mint condition

Not too bad, but still very tricky to try to balance
out the larger motifs.  Especially since each panel  was not
symmetrical in any way.
Bird sleeve.

In the middle of my engineering nightmare, along came these cute little orders for the Sweet Tart Lab:

Tweet tweet!

Minky fabric.  It cures what ails you.  Just sit and pet for as long
as it takes to calm down.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Cra-zy Month, Part 1

I think I'm going to wait to title this post until I figure out what my theme is.  I had no idea it had been this long since I last posted; it's not that I was taking a break from it, just that I had enough client work over the last month to choke a horse and didn't even have time to clean the house properly, cook a decent meal, and attend more than a few meetings.  If you were directly affected by any of the above, my profuse apologies.  If you were indirectly affected by any of the above, hopefully this post will sate your curiosity about why the long absence.  (And if you really don't care one way or the other, you're welcome to read on anyway.  Just sayin'.)

I got an email about a month ago from an enterprising young lady that lives nearby (that's Huntington Beach, for those of you out-of-towners), asking if I were still interested in doing some work for her.  Truth be told, I didn't even remember responding to her ad.  Turns out, I had - about a year ago.  She had kept my name on file all this time, and when her customer made a repeat request for the caftans she made last year, she shot me an email to see if I could work it into my schedule.  40 garments total, with about a two-week turnaround time.  That's more garments than I've ever churned out in such a short space of time!  I also got a call from a neighbor who knew someone looking for a seamstress to help him out with a prototype project for sales samples.  That turned out to be an order of about 9 garments on top of the other 40 - and they came straight from the patternmaker - completely original patterns, custom drafted - what a learning process that has been.  So now, I have access to a patternmaker who was a complete whiz at putting these together and making them work.  Perfectly.  I SO want to study with this gal - she teaches at FIDM in Los Angeles, but has a studio in Artesia (  Not only is she amazingly adept at drafting custom garments, she also sews and tailors beautiful couture dresses.  'Scuse me while I go wipe the drool off my chin.  Unfortunately, FIDM won't let someone like me just come in and take a random class or two - you have to sign up for the whole two years' of study, or nada.  So I'm hoping that this lady can do what SHE'S hoping to do - teach patternmaking classes out of her own studio.  I told her I'd be first in line at the door.

Some of the nearly 50 garments that came out of my studio this month:

Stacks and stacks of finished caftans & crop tops.

Cream caftan, with cream color Venetian style lace.
Totally drool-worthy.

My camera hiccuped again.  It really has something against black fabric.
This is the counterpart to the above - it really is black, my camera just
couldn't figure out how to focus on it and threw a lot of light into this shot.

The cutest trim EVAH! 

The cream colored crop top.

Cream colored caftan.

See?  It is black.  Only now, my camera couldn't figure out
what to do with all that lace.
Dorky camera.  It is a really decent one for the price, this is
the only problem I've ever had with it - photographing something black.

The crop top with the Cutest Trim EVAH.  A little pain-in-the-buttish
to sew on (because I had to sew through the petals but around the center),
but still - SO cute. 

I'll have more photos of these later on - the client had some great shots taken at her friend's house in Los Angeles that do these much better justice than my blue lady, here.

Speaking of later on, I'm going to have to post the rest of this in Part Deux tomorrow - having time off makes me want to just snuggle in with a good book and a couple of cute kitties!