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?