Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Thank you from Sew Chic

I have a lot to be thankful for. 
"Ariel" Designed for Competition about 2001
I began college in 1993 working toward a BS in apparel design, finally finishing in 2003. I gave myself a few years to hone my design skills by going back to custom design, mostly bridal and evening wear, and by 2008 I felt ready to tip toe out into the world with a few designs. About this same time, I saw Colette patterns showing up on Flickr. Sarai (who also lives in the Oregon Willamette Valley) was also doing vintage inspired at the time.

"Chantilly" was inspired by my mother's wedding dress, about 2005

Though I'm stepping a little more boldly now, Colette is definitely running at jet speed. What could I have taken from those business classes that could have made any difference? If I missed something, I'm sure it wouldn't have helped. Business is not my talent, and never will be. I can only be me, and I'm a designer and love pattern making all the way!

"Dalliah" is a mix of three different patterns: Fifth Ave. bodice and drape with Fantasia Skirt, about 2004

Sales numbers are definitely one way to gauge popularity, and the the proceeds of your purchases (where ever that may be) do keep the machine running. But one perk of my job not associated with cash is getting to know you though your communications and kind comments. Today I received the most wonderful and kind compliment when Francesca decided to comment on my Threads article blog post sharing her very sensible strategy when adding to her sewing magazine stash.

"Chinoiserie" was designed for my mother. It's her favorite and she is still wearing it! Yes, it definitely needs to be replaced. About 2003.

She says "I buy Threads sometimes - I don't say always because I have such a stash of Burdas, Neue Modes, La mia Boutique etc that I have to really discriminate - so I don't buy any pattern mags any more unless there's at least one amazing or two useful patterns - doesn't happen much any more, I tend to prefer indies like you :). Threads I buy if there's at least one useful article - and to be honest when I saw there was an article by you I didn't even flick through - just bought it - because your instructions and patterns are so brilliant :). Loved this article."

"Essence" was inspired by a Threads magazine article. 3 Designers were chosen, then told to make something modern using 1914 era as inspiration. Hey Threads, how about another article like that?

 Francesca, you have no idea how you warmed my heart with your kind comments today. You didn't have to say it. In fact, you didn't have to say anything at all. But if the internet is good for anything, shouldn't it be used it to spread good things throughout our world community? Thanks to you Francesca, and all of you who have helped me get down the road to where I am today. I had no idea where those first timid steps would take me, but as one woman put it (the first year vending at the Sew and Stitchery Expo) as she walks away with a smile, "We'll let you know if we don't like you!"  As always, your comments are welcome!

Have a great sewing day!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Tutorial: Easy Ginseng Sash Variation

Sew Chic Pattern Co. Ginseng LN1516
Laura Nash wears Ginseng #LN1516

I like variations. I don' t know about you, but I'm not the type to buy 10 of the same T-shirt, or wear my clothes and matching accessories exactly the same way every time. Maybe that's because I can't remember how or with what I wore it! Even if I like the combination a whole lot, I still can't seem to remember. This can be a problem if I want to dress in a hurry....but on the bright side, I guess this means new ideas are always ready to spill out. So here is another spillage born out of my love for variation!

Those ties do elongate and make us look taller, but why not change it up and turn those long ties into a bow?

Here's how:


 Starting with the wider bottom sash, folding in thirds, fold under to meet the waist.

 Now fold the top sash in the same way.

Pinch together turning each section to opposite sides. The smaller sash moves up and outward and the larger tie turns down and toward dress center, giving it a diagonal angle. Adjust so your fingers straddle three sides with the gathering in the center.

Find your prettiest piece of jewelry with a pinning mechanism on the back and pin it all into place.

My pin does not hold all of the gathers, only bits here and there, enough to keep in tacked down and in place on the surface.

Sew Chic Pattern Co. Ginseng LN1516
Sew Chic Ginseng #LN1516
Here I look as short as I really am (no illusions to help me!), but that's okay because I like the bow and a reason to wear sparkly jewelry is never a bad thing. I can do the elongation another day! What variations can you think of for those sashes? Share with me!

Buy the pattern here: ♥

Have a great sewing day!


Saturday, September 12, 2015

Sewing with Silk for Eveningwear

For the last two weeks I've been working on a gown for my sister. Her daughter is getting married next week, and if you have the experience my family has when shopping ready-to-wear, you just know before you ever get started that there is nothing worth buying. After shopping for months, ordering a dress, then returning it, my sister asked me to make "Grace" from my Gowns by Laura collection. I first made this dress for my Fall Fashion Week debut in 2006.
Grace comes from my Gowns by Laura Collection

If you care to read more, here is an article in my local newspaper about that presentation. The model in the article is also wearing Grace:

The fabric my sister sent me is a very pretty iridescent or two toned silk that feels like taffeta. It's VERY thin, which at first scared her away, but this fabric is very nice for a design such as this. I always put boning and an inner lining in evening wear, but this fabric shows every ridge, and with such limited time I decided to scratch the boning this time. Working with Silk does require a bit of extra care.
 Muslin to Silk
To add an inner lining, cut your pattern from a basic white muslin/cotton and pin to the wrong side of each piece.
Darts and Muslin with Silk
With darts, mark only the muslin, not the silk. Pin down the center of the dart, and then baste.

Basting Silk and Muslin
Sew inside the seam allowance, each angle sewn independently.
Then check it against your pattern once more. Trim away any excess.
Silk and Muslin- darts sewn down center
This is the back bodice. The darts are ready to sew.
Pressing the darts to the center would be typical, but this creates an ugly ridge from under neath.
Instead, trim the darts to 1/2-3/8" from the stitching line, clip up into the dart tip a short way, and press open.
Looks much better, don't you agree?

Next week I will be gone to the wedding, but will post the final result on my facebook page before I go. 

Have a great sewing day!


Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Sew Your Own Clothes- The True Savings

Do you sew your own clothing?

If you are reading this post, then presumably your answer is "OF COURSE!" Give yourself a pat on the back. Even if your sewing skills aren't perfect, even if you don't have much time, even if fitting struggles make you crazy, even if your sewing machine explodes. Throw away all those excuses and keep doing it because the benefits of sewing are so awesome! Some of the things I thought of:
  • custom fit to your body
  • pick your own fabric
  • pick your own colors
  • more style and design choices- so many patterns!
  • customization in every way
  • joy of learning a new skill
  • joy of creation 
  • joy of sharing it with others
My own list would also include "cost savings", though most people I talk with tend to disagree.Usually this conclusion comes from a comparison of what the same project might cost at their favorite ready-to-wear store, shop, or boutique. Which brings me to another thought.

Isn't it interesting that in America, even in the last 5 years, the price of food has gone up an amazing amount, yet a Kmart T-shirt (a store positioned to sell at the lowest price point possible) is still below $10? Adding in our sewing time, it's true that making our own T-shirt may not be so economical. I am guilty of thinking in this way too........that is, until I think about the person in some far away factory working longer hours than a person should have to - as quickly as their fingers will let them - to make that Kmart T-shirt.

Will you do something for me this week? 

During college the curriculum emphasis was on Ready-to-Wear (RTW), and of course had to include information on where the cheapest labor could be purchased (think of the smallest 3rd world countries) and solving the "sweat shop" problem. It was a discussion that seemed to have no solution- at least not for big companies with consumers hungry for cheap products. 

The True Cost is a well done documentary that tells the story about clothes, the people who make them, and the impact the RTW industry is having on our world. It will open your eyes to how the industry is run. This movie is available on Netflix (instant watch and DVD), Amazon, iTunes, and VHX.  It can also be purchased.

( Trailer on YouTube)

I saw this movie last week and remembered again those discussions in college. It made me feel glad that I can sew my own clothes and that I don't have to buy Kmart T-shirts. Watch the movie, add THIS to your benefits list and pat yourself on the back (again!). What do you think are the most important points of this documentary?

Have a great sewing day!