Monday, October 12, 2009

'Julius Ceasar' at PFI!


"S'up?" from Chesapeake Shakespeare Company's

The Shakespeare Dude

Q: S'up with this production of Julius Caesar anyway?

Shakespeare Dude: Let the Dude explain: it's a different kind of theater experience. Instead of sitting in one place while the scenery changes, you move with the action - and move from space to space. The Dude saw last year's CSC production of Macbeth done this way and liked it. He liked it a lot. The audience dug it too. A lot. The whole run sold out . Even the critics liked it! This year, we've got Frank B. Moorman's production of Julius Caesar. With CSCers Scott Alan Small and Michael P. Sullivan, it's gonna to add a little somethin' somethin' to the show.

Q: Cool beans?

Shakespeare Dude:
Cool beans.

Q: I read this play in tenth grade. Ms. Lindquist, my tenth grade English Teacher made me memorize an entire speech from it. I hated it! Julius Caesar sucks.

Shakespeare Dude: The Dude can see that's not really a question, but he'll try to answer it anyway. The Dude had to read it in high school, too--totally went over his head. There might be a million reasons for that, but whatever. Now The Dude declares it a cool play and this "movable" production is gonna prove that.

Q: Oh. So, it'll be good, right?

Shakespeare Dude: Yes it will. Frank (the director) promised The Dude.

Q: S'up with the ghost? Isn't there supposed to be a ghost there at the performance site?

Shakespeare Dude:
I ain't 'fraid of no ghosts.

Q: My attention span has been ruined by easily accessible digital entertainment . . . ummm . . . how do I put this? How long is it?

Shakespeare Dude: Just 90 minutes and that includes an intermission. Word of The Shakespeare Dude.

Dress warmly--like you're going to a football game.
It's autumn, it takes place in the evening, it's outdoors, you walk up a big hill.
And bring a flashlight and comfortable shoes.

Julius Caesar
Outdoors at the PFI Historic Park, Ellicott City
October 8 - November 1
Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00
Sundays at 6:00
Adults: $25 - $30
Seniors: $22
Students under 22: $10
or call 866.811.4111
click here for questions about the event
Chesapeake Shakespeare Company
8510 High Ridge Road
Ellicott City, MD 21043

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Tweet, Tweet!

Just wanted to send out another reminder that you can follow me on Twitter! The title of this blog will take you to my Twitter page so you can 'follow away'. I'm hoping to do some Tweevents in the future, but can't think of what to do.... real time alterations? Tweeted costume fittings? Twitter sewing classes? Sewing Lounge Across America? Hmmmmmm.... Well, in the meantime, be sure to sign up to follow me and I'll follow you as well.

Hooray for social media!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

So far today I have been fabric shopping (a favorite activity) for some client materials, then rushed back to the studio to discover the bees who have been building a nest in wall of my office have broken thru!!! A frantic call to my landlord got him over here asap. One look and he was on the phone locating a "bee guy" who is supposed to be here shortly to deal with the bees. Hopefully by tomorrow my studio will be a "Bee Free" zone.
In between discussions with my hottie landlord Joe (he likes to be called that) about the bees and politics I met with Cindi Carter of the Cancer Support Foundation to select hats to wear for her upcoming videos to promote some fundraisers. There will be 4 videos, each highlighting a different event/location so the hats we selected reflect each location. I hope you're on her mailing list so you get to see them. I made a black velvet drape for her, too, so the focus is all on the hats.
Armando left a few minutes ago; it only took a little while to nail down all the details for the angel costume. It's gonna be FAB!!! A strong yet sensuous cross between Athena and a Christmas angel. After the shoot in November, it will be on his website for the film producton company he runs, Xterminating Angels.
Now I have to finish getting ready for my monthly Mastermind meeting!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

I finally got the estimate done for the Rainbow wedding the other day and am waiting for the bride to get back to me. I'm so hoping we come to agreement on it because I really want to create a Rainbow wedding gown!
I've been doing a lot of alterations for the past few weeks for a lot of people. One of my alteration customers came in yesterday to pick up her jacket and then asked about a 1980's costume for a dance party she and her husband are going to next week. We went thru the racks of costumes and tried on a bunch of stuff, finally settling on a 2 piece ensemble of black sequin knit. There's a high slit in the skirt and we agreed that for her the slit didn't work so I came up with the idea of filling the slit with a gusset and letting it fall handkerchief style at the hem. It will look fabulous on the dance floor and will give her all the space she needs for various dance moves. She will be back on Wednesday to pick it up.
With all the alterations going thru here, I've been seam ripping, pinning and stitching my fingers to the bone. Yesterday I had some of Maggie Sansone's music playing and sort of went into "the zone". I love it when that happens; I lose track of time, get really focused, everything just seems to flow.
As I write this, Click and Clack the Tappert Brothers just came on with Car Talk. They do NOT put me in "the zone" (or at least not the right one). I am about to get up and put Maggie back on since I HATE Car Talk. I think the brothers are too full of themselves. To me they are chalk on a blackboard.....there, done!! Now I'm surrounded by sweet dulcimer music of the Celtic variety.
And with that, I'll end this and go to my work table to "zone out!"

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The (now pink) Edwardian gown arrived in Maine today and my customer absolutely loved it. She gave me fabulous feedback about it on my Etsy site ( If you click on feedback it will come up with a photo of the dress before it was dyed rosy pink.
I have a new client (who's also going on a cruise) and I will be making 5 pieces for her! Fortunately, we focused on mix and match pieces in non-wrinkling fabrics so I will be able to make the deadline for her. She's going to be wonderful to work with!
Kevin is home on leave so I'm trying to balance spending time with him and family with meeting deadlines at work. Not so easy!
The Dutch Country Market finally opened in its new location which is so conveniently across the street (sort of) from my Studio. I went to the Grand Opening this morning in my capacity as Vice-President of the Laurel Board of Trade. It was wonderful!!! I certainly plan to adjust my grocery shopping habits and go there. It's interesting, I just finished reading "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" by Barbara Kingsolver describing her family's experience with eating local for a year. It reminded me so much of when I was a country wife in Chautauqua County, New York. I've long felt uncomfortable with buying stuff from around the world and in a half-hearted way have spent the past couple of years focusing on shopping more local, no big box stores, shopping at Mom and Pop stores, reading labels for where something was manufactured or grown and dreaming about gardening and canning. I've always felt there was more value in something that was hand made, especially if I knew the maker. After this book, I am firmly re-committed to the whole concept of the locavore lifestyle. We did get a garden going this year and next year will be better. I have put some stuff up, not as much as I would like, but enough to feel good. I buy produce from the farmers market as much as possible and shop along Main Streets throughout the area looking for the small sole proprietor, family owned shops for everything. I'm back at the thrift and consigment shops for things. I'm back where I used to be in life philosophy and this time I won't let myself be led astray. So, Dutch Market, expect to see me a lot! Local, organic, family farms (locovore radius 250 miles maximum).
Gotta go, alterations to finish and fabric to shop for!!!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Monday, Monday!

So, today is Monday. Sometimes as hard as I try to think of it as the beginning of a brand new week and all that happy stuff, the Mondayness of Monday gets in the way.
I just couldn't seem to work up a lot of enthusiasm this morning. Usually when the sun pours in my kitchen window it makes me feel happy, the smell of fresh coffee brewing perks me up and plans and details of what needs to be accomplished this day swirl thru my mind. I keep my "frogs" binder open and jot them down as they occur. I whiz around the house doing all the "daily routine" stuff and then get ready to come to the Studio in a really good place mentally.
Today, that just didn't seem to work. The sun was there, the coffee, the routines. But I just couldn't seem to get excited. Maybe part of it was that I took yesterday off and altho I really enjoyed going to the Renaissance Festival, I was feeling guilty and behind in my work. And there was dealing with the residue of Sunday.
While I was at Renn Fest having a great time seeing all the shows, checking out the vendors, eating oysters at O'Shucks and just generally having fun; our dog literally locked himself in my room. To pass the time, he dumped out the laundry and the wastebasket. In attempts to free himself, he tried to open the door with his mouth but only succeeded in locking the doorknob and chewing the H*** out of it. He also decided to create bed for himself by emptying the storage bin of winter clothes I had gotten down to sort later this week. He apparently got hungry because he ate the plastic bin. I cleaned most of it up last night but at 9pm didn't feel like dragging out the vacuum. So, I did that this morning and packed up all the stuff that now had to go to the cleaners because they were covered with dog hair and drool.
On the plus side, I did bake off some muffins and bagged some sprouts to bring for my lunch.
When I got to the Studio, there sat all the stuff I didn't do yesterday just waiting for elves came in to take care of it for me. Maybe I should switch from making clothes to making shoes? I had been feeling kinda fired up about creating some cool stuff and thinking of all the things I would like to make and there was that pile of paperwork that needed to be dealt with. It was like having a wet blanket tossed at me.
Thank goodness tomorrow is Tuesday!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Rosy Pink---Dress and Hands

I've just finished dyeing the dress from the original cream to rosy pink. Fortunately I had some scraps of the main fabric in the dress so I could do some testing before putting the entire garment in the dye bath. When that came out the color I wanted, I wet the dress and gave it a dye bath! Everything went beautifully....meaning the color uptake was even, no dye spilled anywhere including on me (except my hands which are now pretty in pink). The difference in dye absorption by the different fabrics in the bodice created an interesting effect, very dimensional and textured looking, much more so than before it was dyed.
It's drying now and I'll ship it to Maine tomorrow where it will be packed to go on the virgin cruise of a new Royal Carribean liner. I must say, my creations do travel!
**PS: the fabrics in this dress are perfect for wrinkles!
***PPS: several suit alterations are on their way to Europe, a silk painting traveled to California, one gown went to a wedding in Paris another to Sweden and several more went on cruises, including one that I dyed blue and a skirt is now in London.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Etsy Sale = Dye Job

I'm all excited! One of the dresses in my Etsy store, the Edwardian one with over 600 views, has sold! But, the buyer asked if I would dye it for her...she also asked if that horrified me. It doesn't, I like the creamy colors of it as is, but after explaining the ins and outs and color absorbtion of dye to her, I'm sort of intrigued about how it will turn out. We're going for light pink to complement her fair blonde coloring. Since the fibers are all polyesters, cottons and blends thereof, the dye will sit mostly on the surface of the fibers and each of the several fabrics used to create the dress will take the dye differently, creating a monochromatic effect. But that also means I have to create a dye bath of a much deeper color to get the light pink.
I have to remember to take before pictures prior to dyeing it and then after pictures to show the results. It will make an intersting couple of pages in my portfolio.
I'll let you know how it goes!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Summer's Over!

Well, Labor Day is now behind us and the tempo of life is picking up as kids go back to school, vacations are now memories and the march towards the end of the year is almost complete. Each year seems to go by faster than the one before, but this year has done triple time so far. I'm still not used to writing 09!
The pace of work at the studio is also picking up. There is one project from this summer that is still waiting for completion, but over the weekend 4 old and new clients brought in repairs, alterations and renovations. The answering machine this morning delivered a new sewing student and a dress by early October. Looks like I'll be busy!
I was really excited today to check my Etsy store and find a request for information about the Edwardian gown. It's had almost 700 people look at it and a few ask about bust measurements (36") and I hope it sells today. There are some new items up there as well and many are suited to the cold season coming up. Check it out at
I've spent much of my sewing time today working on extensive repairs on Poe. His poor bird suit is literally falling apart at the seams. Just for the record, it was made by a company in Canada that specializes in mascots. What I do for Poe is to maintain the costume and make all the clothes he wears over it. Since I first started working with Poe I've made him a closet full of clothes and hats. Right now, it's all repair work and all stitching by hand with doubled buttonhole thread. I think by the time I'm done, I'll have restitched the entire thing, and if you've ever seen Poe on TV or at an appearance, you know that's a lot of seam!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Clothes For Self

As many of you know who have been in here for alterations or custom clothing....and as a heads up for those of you have not....fitting fabric around a body is an art, a skill and a science. It means taking a one dimensional (flat) object and doing "stuff" (seams, darts, pleats, gathers, etc) to form it into a 3-D object. To make it a bit more challenging, the designer is required to make it fit the 3-D object (a body) perfectly according to custom and preference. And deal with the 3-D object's (you/me) body issues. Drawing pretty pictures is so much easier and less challenging! Anyone can do that do some degree, but bringing that pretty picture to 3-D reality!!! Oh, that is so much more. (read the last 2 issues of my newsletter for info on RTW fit)

Okay, so I'm going on about that because the one person a designer can't fit for alterations or custom clothing is herself!!! Or at least, it's not easy. I can't stand back to see how it looks. I have difficulty trying to get the pins in along the back where I can't see or reach, only feel. As I try to pin or tuck, my body moves so the fabric moves and the marks may not be accurate. It's an exercise in frustration. One I just spent 2 hours on. But, I'm pleased with the results. I have a wrap skirt pattern that is darted just for my body, it's in muslin so the pattern will last a long time. And I will have a couple of new skirts for the coming season using some of the wonderful fabrics I got from Toronto.

Just to be clear, I didn't go to Toronto (altho I've been there and love it almost as much as NYC) but from a Toronto dealer who was vending a couple of years ago at an ASG conference in VA. I was talking to him as he was packing up at the end of the conference and he just didn't want to spend all the money for postage to ship it back and offered me a deal (and fabric) I couldn't refuse. Now there's an instance of being in the right place at the right time!

I'm back at the desk now finishing this and other paperwork, 2 new clients coming in late afternoon. When they leave, I will lock the door and make my new wrap skirt, maybe two, while I listen to Prairie Home Companion. Then I'll go home...sounds like a plan....

Friday, September 4, 2009

66 year old stains!!

I mentioned somewhere that over the summer I created a World War II Navy Nurse uniform for a client from PA. Yup, she trucked down here numerous times for fittings all the way from Pennsylvania! Brenda's her name and re-enacting is her game. I really like her a lot.
Anyway, I made the 6 gore skirt and the jacket for the uniform and Brenda located the blouse, tie, shoes, hose and hat, much of it on the internet. The hat (or cover in military-speak) is a vintage piece from the '40's and had some staining on it. The way this particular cover is constructed, there's a heavy white cotton piece shaped to the frame that can be removed and washed. This is what was stained and by the location of the stain, it seemed it was probably rust from the (removable)emblem that is mounted on it.
Not sure about how fragile the fibers might be on something this old, my miracle dry cleaner was a little reluctant to use harsh cleaning fluids on it to remove the stains, but guess what! I got them out!
So, how did I get them out? I soaked the cover in cold water mixed with a generous scoop of an oxygen based cleaner. It soaked the first time for several hours and the stains were obviously moving, so I mixed up a new batch and soaked it overnight. When I came in the next morning and checked it, all that was left was a very faint discoloration of cream against white. Actually, all the fibers brightened so it looked a lot whiter overall. To see where the stains used to be, you'd have to know where they were.
The now stainless cover is on its way back to PA where it will be worn with the rest of the uniform at a Dwight D Eisenhower celebration this month in Gettysburg.
I have all sorts of stain removing tricks; it needs to be a bagful since different fibers and different staining materials require different solutions. If you have a stain removal question, please feel free to contact me...I'll be happy to share!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

The Beginning of the "New" "Revived" "No Excuses" Blog

One of the things I find causes writer's block is that I have so much to talk about and can't seem to settle on any one thing so I end up writing nothing. Since this is the beginning of my revived blog, let me tell you about my day today which was spent "reviving" me!
I started out by visiting my friend Rebecca Ellis who is a make-up artist. I met her last year when I started working on contract with the Chesapeake Shakespeare Company. She does wonderful make-up and I recommend her and provide her contact info in my "Helpful Information" packets that I give to clients. Rebecca refined my eyebrows and undid some of the damage done last year by someone else at my former hair salon.
That appt was timed so that I could run up the street to see Allison Weatherly at Looks, my new stylist. My hair had become so damaged from dryers and hot rollers that it had reached a crisis when I first saw her several months ago. She gave me a regimen of diet and products and a "no heat on hair" rule and an interum cut that kept my hair pretty much in a clip all summer. Today, we refreshed my color, cut in a new style that takes advantage of my weird hair curl and doesn't require heat. I am one happy girl right now.
I went home in the middle of the day!!!! and had a healthy bowl of home made chicken soup and brown rice and then pit-stopped at the Studio to check phones and emails before going to the Pearl Spa where I finally used the very generous gift certificate I received in March as a thank you from the Business Women's Network of Howard County for all the work I did to organize the Girl's Night Out - Redfined scholarship fundraiser. I experienced the ultimate in pampering as I went thru the 7 steps of the Hammam treatment. Right now as I write this, I feel so relaxed and energized at the same time! I'm not sure if I should go home and eat dinner while vegging with NCIS and Mark Harmon or do the silk painting I promised myself I'd do today.
To prove that I did do something productive today in addition to pampering myself for the first time in years, the silk I ordered for a client's window treatments came in, I did some email business, returned some phone calls....have an interesting project coming October bride is planning a Masquerade Ball wedding. She ordered a costume over the internet and wanted some changes made to personalize it but the volunteer work that was done is not acceptable so she's coming to see me for miracles.
I've got some other interesting things on the horizon but I'll save those for tomorrow; going home to curl up with Mark Harmon is it just me or is that Tony character on NCIS just the most obnoxious egotistical jerk on TV right now?

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Time Flies!!!

I just checked the date of my last post and can't believe it's almost a month! Here at the Studio we finished Prom season by creating 3 gowns designed with the clients and performing alterations on another 4 gowns. If I were more adept at scanning and plugging in photos, I could put the pictures in here, but unfortunately I haven't learned that yet.
In addition to everything else that's going on, I really want to share an upcoming event with you. My friend and colleague Natalie Jobity is an Image Consultant and she has organized what promises to be a fabulous and fun event on June 7th called Tweak Your She(ic). I'll be there as the fitting expert along with lots of other experts on lots of other "girly" subjects.
So, I hope you'll come to the Hotel George from 1 to 5 and get yourself tweaked into she(ic). For information or tickets, Natalie set up a really great website that I just love! The web address is
Hotel George is one block from Union Station and there's a parking garage across the street. Wish me luck! With all the stuff I have to haul down there I'm going to have to drive and I have religiously avoided driving in DC since I moved here 21 years ago! Oh! Boy! You should come just to see if I survived the adventure!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

What a Week!

It's been a week of back to back to back appointments, tons of phone calls, lots of paperwork, a dental emergency and more. In between all of this, I helped out at the Chesapeake Shakespeare Company's Donor Reception, did costume fittings for the Cyrano cast, celebrated my granddaughter's first birthday, was guest speaker for the Sigma Beta Phi Annual Dinner and picked up my mother from BWI to spend the weekend with us.
Thank goodness for Rebekah and Shakia who are working hard on gowns and costumes as I deal with all the administrative stuff and plan and coordinate each of our projects.
There's an interesting costume project coming up. I will be creating a replica of a WWII Navy Nurse uniform. My client has ordered fabric from the company that actually made those uniforms (and the company still has the Navy uniform contract) and our expectation is to re-create as exact a replica as possible based on photos and research information. I'll keep you posted on the progress!
Costumes for Cyrano are coming along well. So far I've been able to fit several cast members and only need minor tweaks on fit. I'm going to make all the Cadet uniforms so I'm about to purchase 100 yards of fabric for that. They are going to be soooo cool! Baldrics and all!
All the Prom dresses should be done this week, each is so different and each has it's own fitting challenges. But they should all be glorious!
Gotta run, my Mom's visiting this weekend to celebrate Samantha's first birthday and we have lots to do to get ready for the party....and I still have a class and a fitting before I leave. Yikes!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Inspiring Fabrics

Between Group and Private lessons, I'm wiped out by teaching for 7 hours today! But what fun we all had. The kids in the afternoon class just didn't seem able to settle down to sew their various projects, so I gave each of them a piece of fabric (all different) and drawing paper and set out tons of colored pencils. They spent the rest of the class designing by the inspiration of the fabric. They moved from garments of all sorts into bedspreads and curtains to redecorating their rooms based on what they saw in the fabrics. The stuff they came up with was amazing. Sarah had a sapphire brocade and designed a dress with brass details going down the side in a very updated chemsong. Jenny did a dress and then her room while Jadah focused on combining fabrics to use the flowers in one fabric as 3-D appliques on another for a bedspread. Morgan was inspired to create a flowing top and then sketch out her plans for a sewing room at home.
Man, I love these girls! They are absolutely fearless in what they attempt to do and the results are always impressive. And I love the way these girls have bonded and encourage each other. Gives me hope for the world.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Thursday night...

So, here I am at the Studio taking a break from winding and labeling the yarn I plan to sell at the Main Street Festival which I'm doing as I run the printer to print out copies of the Studio's brochures to take with me when I go next Thursday to be the speaker for the Sigma Beta Phi Dinner and for Main Street Festival.
The day started with meeting Kristina and Tami at EZ Storage to pull costumes for Cyrano so I came back here with a ton of garment bags and bins of shoes and hats to sort thru and start arranging fittings for.
One of the prom dress girls came in for a fitting today and unfortunately didn't have the undergarments needed to really do a fitting. We scheduled another fitting for next week with strict instructions about going to see Mary at Bra-La-La for these necessities. Shoes, too!
After all that, I worked collecting the stuff I plan to sell. I've got so much yarn and fabric and I'm running out of space! So, I've been sorting, measuring, labeling and deciding what to sell.
And the bags and boxes I ordered for the Kids Craft Kits arrived today! I love it when my suppliers ship UPS because the guy on my truck is so nice.
Okay, I guess I need to declare this break over and finish the yarn project while another 100 sewing lounge brochures finish printing....then I'm going home to eat! I'm starving.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Spirit of Baltimore Cruise and Synergy

I'm excited! I signed the contract today with Sharon Harris to be one of the experts/vendors on the Women's Health and Beauty Cruise she is organizing. I've spoken with her on the phone a couple of times but today is the first time I've actually met her. She's a real dynamo and we hit it off right away.
So when's the Cruise? Saturday, May 16th! Tickets are $60 (group rates available) and there will be Speakers, Vendors, Fashion Show, Freebies and much more! We'll board the ship at 11:30 am from 561 Light Street in Baltimore and Cruise from Noon till 2 pm. Book now! Space is Sharon at 443-545-4901!
Hooking up with Sharon was one of those syngery things. I had a dentist appt and on the way out afterwards, I picked up a free copy of the Women's Journal. When I got back to the Studio I started flipping thru it, cut out her ad and called. She said she'd love to have me on the cruise as the fitting expert and wanted to see my Studio. She came today and loved the space, the peace, my designs and we brainstormed on some things. Just goes to show you never know which way a good thing will come to you. If I hadn't gone to the dentist I might never have met her and I see lots of good things coming from this for both of us.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Etsy Seller Showcase!

I'm so excited! I was just at my on-line Etsy store ( ) and was browsing around the site and realized that the golden denim pants I listed is part of the Seller's Showcase!! Here's hoping that someone loves them as much as I do and buys them!
I have great hopes for my Etsy store and my first sale was for a wrap skirt that I shipped to England! Learned a lot about customs shipping that one! And, best of all, a satisfied customer and a 100% positive feedback rating!
Gotta go, working on costumes for Cyrano!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Busy Days Tidbits...

This has been a week of meetings! I've barely touched a sewing machine all week!! But, all the driving time has been productive with ideas springing up and some new design concepts and business possibilities coming to mind while I auto-pilot.
The Laurel Board of Trade had a Business Forum on Monday night and yesterday Tim Gelles from the PG Gazette called to interview me about it. Glen Garnes had done a presentation about a new program he is trying to start called It has good possibilities if done right and could be a win-win for local consumers as well as the participating businesses.
Tuesday I met with Peg Silloway of Silloway Press about some ideas I have for sharing my skills and expertise with everyone and that was followed by a meeting with Chad at Ranazul about going into their art gallery. That looks really promising and I'm looking at a time frame of somewhere between September to November for mounting the show. I'm planning lots of goodies for that.
Someone at Business Women's Network thought it would be a nice change of pace to have a breakfast meeting! I am NOT a morning person so getting there at 7:30 am was a challenge but I'm glad that I met it. The meeting was great and informative. And from there I had to rush to the Laurel Board of Trade Ex. Bd meeting back in Laurel! Most of the discussion was about the upcoming Main Street Festival and the annual Farmer's Market that will begin in June.
And of course, if you do it once, you can do it again, so I went to the Business Seminar hosted by the Howard County Chamber of Commerce so I could learn more about Constant Contact. Much as I hate early morning meetings, it was well worth the effort. Gina gave a really informative presentation.
Altho it was only Thursday, I was feeling pretty TGIF by last night when I attended the Baltimore City Community College Fashion Design Advisory Board meeting. Sue Lenderking was there so we talked about the upcoming Dress Form workshop she's going to do here at the Studio and the possibility of adding a pants class early next year..maybe sooner. I'm happy to report that the ups and downs of the program seem to have steadied and the program is now thriving.
Today really is TGIF and I only had one meeting, sales reps came to the Studio to show me some of the most delicious embroidered silks. One of them triggered a design in my head and hopefully I'll be presenting it to you soon!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Taxes, Yuck!

April 15th, taxes due! It's unbelieveable how much data entry, tracking, analysis, thought, worry, concern, angst and time goes into keeping books for a business. If I were a larger business and had a finance dept, maybe I'd feel different about it, but being the chief cook and bottle washer as well as CEO, CFO, Admin Asst., and boss lady, I burn a lot of midnight oil trying to not get too far behind on it. Needless to say, 4/15 is marked as a red letter day on my calendar but not in a good way.
For those of you starting out, here's a piece of advice I paid $150/hour for....get QuickBooks Pro in whatever the latest version is. Then, find an accountant or bookkeeper who doesn't trigger your gut reaction alarm and who is affordable/knowledgeable and a whiz with QB. Not all accountants are, so you really do have to ask them if they are truly competent with the program. If they are QB Certified, even better. It's worth the price to have them set up your Chart of Accounts so you can get off to a good start from the get-go and not have to go back and correct a year's worth of data. If you are opening a business like mine, it's considered a non-traditional business and there are special considerations that affect how the chart is set up. Feel free to ask me any questions....I've already paid to get the answers.
Whatever accounting program you use, even pencil and paper, will require a learning curve to get it set up and use effectively. I've been using QB since 2005 and finally was forced to upgrade to the 2008 version and I'm still learning how to do things. But, as frustrated as I get with having to do it at all, I do get good information from it and it does print out beautiful, informative reports. Which does make filling out the tax forms easier.
But it's still not on my list of favorite things to do!
As compensation for doing all this accounting stuff, I've promised myself I will do something FUN!!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Day Before Easter

Just finished shopping for little doodads to put in an Easter basket for my little Samantha...her first Easter! Now to get it all together and pretty! I plan to wrap the handle in ribbons and then put a small spray of flowers in the center of the bow. And of course, artistically arrange everything in the basket.
Gone are the days when I made all the chocolates for the baskets and dyed and decorated dozens of eggs. I really miss those days, especially now when I'm so busy all the time running the Studio that everything seems to be a blur and I'll suddenly realize that someones birthday or a holiday is only a day or two away and I don't have time to do all the little special things I used to do. So, I seem to scramble a lot to come close to what I want to do and feel guilty that it's not exactly what I wanted to do, but all I had time for.
I emailed a friend the other day and said I was trying to be more focused in planning and doing for my business, no more pinball. She emailed back that I'll always be a pinball. Now I have to prove her wrong!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Crowns and Jessica

My daughter, Jessica, invited me to go with her church group to see Crowns at the Lincoln Theater in DC this past Sunday. Wow!! what a show! The cast was fabulous and the music got your toes tapping; the energy flowing back and forth across the footlights was, well, energizing!
With all my involvement with theater over the years, I find when I go to a show I watch it on several levels and so sometimes miss things as a result. The set design for this show was simple and set pieces seamlessly flowed around the stage. The lighting was intriguing and created moods to suit each scene. Of course I spent a lot of time focused on the costumes and thought I recognized a few Butterick/Vogue vintage pieces. I loved the color choices and the style lines of each. Makes me wish we still dressed like that. I remember the elegance you felt when you put on a hat and gloves on a Sunday morning and truthfully, I miss it. The disposable clothing of today just proves that you get what you pay for and constantly replacing cheap clothes gets expensive over the long run. But I digress!
At times I watched how the lighting design changed the mood on stage, others I focused on the hats and costumes. Then I would watch how they moved the set pieces to change the scene. A couple of times I missed things in the plot because I was watching the lights.
The women in Crowns are based on black Church ladies and their hattitude as presented originally in a book of photographs and stories by Michael Cunningham and Craig Marberry. If you are looking for a great show this should be on your list to see.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

It's been a while since I've had the time to write on my blog. I guess that's a good thing, means I've been busy. So far the first 3 months of 2009 have been a blur of Inaugural gowns, costumes for the Chesapeake Shakespeare Company....Country Wife is eligible for a Helen Hayes Award and we're all crossing our fingers for a nomination! Lots of little and not so little jobs and now I'm into Prom season.
I'm working with several girls to create the prom gown of their dreams; and these girls can dream big! The gowns will be gorgeous when completed and I'll try to teach myself how to put photos up here for you to see.
I've been working on items to add to my Etsy store and with Jessica's help, a few of them are now up. Guess what!? My first Etsy sale was to a lovely girl in England! I learned all about customs shipping that one out. And now with my son in Iraq, I get to fill out custom forms a couple of times a month.
Since it's almost 3 in the morning, I guess I'd better go home and get some sleep. I promise not to take so long to write again.
Happy morning!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Join Us for a "Girls' Night Out -- Redefined!"


COLUMBIA, MD – On Friday, March 6th, Howard Community College will become the hippest place in town.

Salsa dancing lessons, massages, image consultations, cocktails, champagne, raffles, games, a silent auction, a fashion show and more await attendees of the The Business Women’s Network of Howard County’s “Girl’s Night Out – Redefined!” fundraiser. Being held in the Rouse Student Services Building at Howard Community College from 5:30 to 8:30 PM, all proceeds from this event will benefit BWN’s Life-Long Learning Scholarship Fund.

Every year the BWN awards scholarships to women currently in or re-entering the workforce, and any woman who lives, works or attends classes in Howard County is eligible to apply. Applicants may need to take classes or obtain certification to advance in their career, be planning a career change, or be re-entering the workforce after raising a family. “These women need to update skills in order to be attractive to employers,” says Marilyn Johnson, owner of the Laurel-based Marilyn Johnson Sewing and Design Studio and the main planner of the fundraiser. “Especially considering today’s economy, the importance of remaining competitive can’t be over-stressed.”

In May of 2008, BWN awarded three scholarships to local women in the amount of $1000 each, and hope to be able to award four scholarships in 2009. The scholarship funds are paid directly to the school or program awardees attend or plan to attend. Women interested in applying for scholarships can visit

Tickets are $45 for members and $50 for non-members.

BWN began in 1979 as "The Women's Network" with the goal of providing an informal networking setting for women. In 1992, the group refocused to provide a more formal networking organization and incorporated in November of that year.

For more information, contact:

Marilyn Johnson

The Marilyn Johnson Sewing and Design Studio

154 Lafayette Avenue, Unit E

Laurel, MD 20723

(301) 604-4139