Saturday, December 29, 2012

Selling on Etsy?

I've got too much stuff. There, I said it.

Vintage patterns that I'll never make up (menswear and maternity, anyone?), along with fabrics that were too good of a deal to pass up (but, now my tastes have changed). Add in my embroidery business offerings, and I think maybe Etsy will help me lighten my "stash" load.

My fear? Is it possible to lose money in the attempt to sell stuff there? I know it's just 20 cents per item to post, but there is SO MUCH STUFF FOR SALE THERE ALREADY. Almost seems like a saturated marketplace.  I'm not looking to make a million, but I don't want to give it all away, either. I'm thinking that if I "bundle" the patterns and fabrics, that will help them move. ????  With my embroidery business, I'd post samples, but take custom orders. Again, though, there are similar embroidery offers there, so is it worthwhile?

Can any of you tell me your experiences with selling (or shopping) on Etsy?

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Santa's Workshop

Merry Christmas, from the North Pole!
Ok, so it's really Michigan, but it's (finally) pretty white and very cold... Doesn't that count?

The weeks leading up to Christmas found me busy in the sewing room with customer orders. A couple years ago I made some "Vera Bradley" inspired sweatshirts that went over big.  A former student contacted me to order one for her mother's birthday, and so I opened the door for additional orders...

I figured that as long as the supplies were out (and I had extra blank shirts), I might as well make a couple for the kids' teachers. I drew up a new design, using reverse applique, which turned out great!
And one for Grandma, as she is always cold and didn't have any "hometown spirit wear". Oops, no picture on this one. Came out of the machine, and went into a box for wrapping ASAP. Am I alone on this (bad) habit?

DH has always liked the look of the embroidered letters, and asked me to do one for him... minus the Vera Bradley print. Out came 4 more sweatshirts, one for him and each of his full-time firefighter shiftmates.

I used tackle twill for both letter layers, and these pics don't show the detail of the embroidery, but it's the same alphabet with a running outline. His firefighting friends on Facebook seemed to like this design, so I might be looking at more orders soon!

Add in a pretty skirt for Miss Princess for the holiday parties (oops, missing a pic there, too!) and a 10 shirt order for a local fire department, and that would be the Santa Sweatshop Workshop business!


The sewing room has gotten a good clean-up and organizational once-over, so I'm ready to make myself something pretty finally! I cut out a pretty purple top, and am about to head downstairs and have some "me time". I hope your holidays were equally "productive" and that your gifts were well received with smiles and appreciation. In the wake of the terrible tragedy that took place in CT, it seemed rather "silly" to hand my kids' teachers a sweatshirt and batch of cookies as a "Thank You" gift. These ladies (as have nearly all in the last 4 years) don't just "teach" my children. They encourage, and support, and love them, which makes my kids want to work harder and do better work. Little Man is a 1st grader, and born the same week as one of the boys lost at Sandy Hook. Mix in the fact that I am also a teacher, and the last few weeks have been... tough. Add in the Christmas Eve shooting of the firefighters in Webster, NY... such an end to 2012. Sorry for the tangent, but I sincerely hope that 2013 has better things in store for us all. I'm praying that it doesn't start with a fall off the "fiscal cliff"! It can only get better from there, right?!?!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

New Look 6051

This top was intended for my friend, but she said it wasn't really her style, so I'm keeping it.
 New Look 6051 (Sorry, no link. Simplicity's website is down! :(

I used 2 yards of poly silky print that's been aging in my stash for years. Seriously, like at least 4 years. It was a Joann's purchase, and I shortened the pattern by 2" to make my 2 yards work.

I opted for the boat neck, instead of the V-neck, and paired it with some wonderful Michael Kors pants I got on clearance last year. I little more "trendy" than usual for work, but a few compliments were collected, so I'm counting it as a keeper. I figure that if someone liked it enough to ask me to make one for them, it's not a wadder. Yes?
It's basically a poncho with side seams and an elastic waist. The "seam allowance" in the sides flutters and flows, but I still have a waist (thanks to the elastic).  I used single fold bias tape to finish the neckline and create the casing for the elastic. I think the pattern called for a drawstring, but I went with elastic instead. Such a rebel... ;)
I think its a good pattern for chiffon or lace, something sheer to take away the "blockiness" from the rectangular shape of the blouse. I'd love to make it again as a little dress and go out on the town with DH. (Are you reading this, DH? I'm pretty sure it would also be lucky at the casino. In case you weren't sure where to take me... hee, hee!)

Wasn't my friend/colleague so nice to take my pic? This is my school, and we have the same prep hour. It's easier to do this than stage a "photo session" at home (and it's 30 degrees outside). My students know that I sew, so now even a few of the boys will ask, "Ms. B... Did you make that? It looks nice." Such nice kids... most days!

Monday, December 3, 2012

From the Kitchen to the Studio

Spice rack we've had since we got married (13 years ago), that DH had the bright idea to clean up and use as an organizer in my sewing room!
After some soap and water, Little Miss moved all my buttons over and kept them color-coordinated. It spins, it's colorful, and it's out of the kitchen. Winner, winner, chicken dinner!

In other news, I've been busy sewing up embroidered VB shirts for clients. Apparently these make great gifts...

Lastly, I got myself a new laptop on Thanksgiving (thank you Best Buy, and thank you embroidery orders). It's mine, all mine (not sharing with the kids, no I'm not!), so it will make posting to Pattern Review a heck of a lot easier! I still prefer my iPad for blogging, so we'll see...

Friday, November 23, 2012

Stash Subtraction!

Last time we spoke, I was holding off on buying any more fabric until I could stitch up some of what I already own! I've been a good girl and done just that!
2 skirts and a dress... Voila!

Ironically enough, all 5 of these fabrics came from Haberman Fabrics, here in Michigan. All purchased at different times, all different fibers, and all different weaves...

This first skirt was the fabric purchased most recently. It just says "Autumn" to me, with the colors, the texture, and the warmth of wool... It has some stretch to it, so it's comfy to boot. I don't know if they have any left, but I did happen to find the same exact fabric (along with 2 other color ways) on the Mood website, here.
I bought 3/4 yard and used my standard 2 piece (front and back) skirt pattern. When I wore it to work this week, I received a few compliments, along with a few requests to "pet the fabric". Too funny...

With so many colors, I have lots of options for tops, so with black tights and boots... I am all set!

The second skirt is a brocade that was marked "J Crew". The story I was offered was that J Crew purchases many many many fabrics to plan their production and line, then has the selected fabrics remade in China. Then all the fabrics (selected and rejected) are resold, which is how Haberman's got this one. I just loved the blues and purple combo, along with the gradation between them and the black! The way I figure it, it can be dressed up with a silky blouse or dressed down with a white button-down or cardi. I also bought these two fabrics to make tops for both skirts. The blue is a cotton blend (soft like silk) and the purple is more lustrous. I'm thinking of Butterick 5815 for the purple...

The dress was a quickie I pulled off yesterday and today. New pattern (Butterick 5794), old fabric (jersey from a year or two ago).
I made view C, but used the hemline from view B.

What fueled this pick to sew? Simplicity. One color, no lining, and easy peaty to make. Want to hear something funny, though? i messed up the first seam and had to sew it THREE times! Then, the serger started acting up and breaking a thread repeatedly, so I was convinced early on that this dress was cursed. But, I love the color, which is more of a cranberry than a bright red, so BONUS... It works for the holiday season, too! R's is definitely a pattern that I highly recommend and will make again. Just one word of warning... When you attach the "cowl" to the neck line, it's to the wrong side of the bodice. The pattern doesn't illustrate this step very well (IMHO), so I had it all pinned when I figured out that I did it wrong.
Here's the back of the bodice. A little gather for interest...

What's next? I have a hair appointment tomorrow, so I need to stitch something up for my friend who does my hair. We trade services! I sew her up something cute, and she keeps me looking gorgeous! Sometimes she gives me the fabric, sometimes I use from my stash... But, so far we BOTH think we are getting the better end of the deal! I grabbed this pattern just today, and it's got her name written all over it!

It's New Look "Workroom" 6051, and will make it more of a tunic, less of a dress. 2-3 more yards of stash gone? Yup!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Can't. Pull. The. Trigger...

Vogue + Color Blocking = HEADACHE

I spent too much time over the last couple days searching online for appropriate fabrics (wool crepe) in pretty colors (not red/black). I was hoping for some pretty jewel tones, like in the Kohl's ad I saw today...

I finally settled on some charcoal gray with burgundy/cranberry... but, I just couldn't pull the trigger. Know why? STASH GUILT.
I have too many other fabrics already here, in my house, on my sewing table, and although they don't fit this particular project...
I need to make them into something pretty first.

See you on the flip side of a few outfits!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Cruising a Hurricane...

DH turned 40 this week, so I surprised him with a weekend cruise (last weekend) from Miami to the Bahamas. The only problem? A little witch named Sandy. She was blowing north when we flew into Miami, so I thought we were in the clear. But, being first-time cruisers, we didn't realize that the seas were still pretty churned up with all the wind trailing in her skirts. Rough seas, high winds, closed decks, and no port for 24 hours made for a bad start. But, Saturday afternoon we pulled into Nassau, and finally started to have a great time. (See photo above!)
For our formal dinner on Saturday, I whipped up this dress!
Simplicity 2252

I had 2 yards of navy blue silky something (probably poly from Joann's, but I seriously don't remember buying it) that had the right weight and drape. Not enough fabric for floor length, but I loved the halter view (A), so I shortened it. DH requested a sexy slit, so I obliged and opened the left side seam up.

I made up the size 14, which was perfect everywhere. The instructions say to open the stitching lines in the midriff "pleated" area, but I was happier with the appearance and crispness of the folds/seams with the stitching in place. I didn't have time (or resources) to get a flashy buckle, so I opted for a decorative brooch/pendant from Joann's.

Underneath the bodice is a corset that stops just above the hips. The dress is not lined. I used some navy blue cotton for the corset, but when I inserted the boning, everything curled up and it looked terrible. I removed the boning, since it's not strapless I really didn't think the inner structure was imperative. It was much more comfortable this way, also.
Sorry, no back view. We were running late for dinner, headed straight to the Captain's reception afterward, then changed to party the night away at the pool deck dance party. I used an invisible zipper at the center back, and it came up to a normal height, covering my normal strapless bra strap, so not a low-back.

I highly recommend this pattern, as the instructions were good, and the construction was very straight forward. Not a million pieces, and went together pretty easily.
As for the cruise... I thought the end of October put us in a "safe zone" for hurricane season, but apparently I was wrong! The first 24 hours were terrible (dramamine made the rough seas slightly easier to deal with, but everyone was getting sick and it was too windy to keep the doors to the deck open, so it got pretty gross at times), but Nassau and the Atlantis resort was quite a lot of fun. Smooth sailing back to Miami, but you know how it is when a trip starts off wrong... you can't quite reset the mood, you know? Majesty of the Seas was ok, but I think we'd like to try a newer and larger ship. Met some nice people from North Carolina and Alaska, and enjoyed some sunshine and warm temps on Saturday and Sunday. So many people on the ship couldn't get home because of the airports closed on the east coast Monday, but we were able to make it on time back to Michigan, although it was a little turbulent. Seeing all the devastation on tv and hearing the first-hand accounts on facebook and twitter reminded me how lucky we were to be safe and i keep all of you "east coasters" in my thoughts and prayers. Definitely the kind of trip that we will never forget, for both good and bad times... and "adventure" that will go down in history...

Monday, October 8, 2012

Alive and Sewing... Barely.

She's alive! Alive!!!
Just long enough to hem my leather skirt, and rescue it from the sewing room! This school year has been FILLED to the brim, between the kids' activities and our own. Top it off with PAYING SEWING JOBS, and you've got a very, very, very busy Kristine, with no "fun sewing" time! Here's a quick update on my latest and greatest, which garnered many compliments today at work.

Simplicity 9825

I've had this pattern for years. It's the perfect pattern for leather, with a center front and center back seam. A little on the short side, so if I make it again, I'll likely add a couple inches of length.

Gorgeous Fabrics: 3 Lambskin skins and silk twill lining. The bump below the waistband below is just my shirt tucked in (was in a terrible hurry before work, and this pic just had to do).

I used an invisible zipper at the left side seam (rather than the back), and fusible tricot interfacing for the waistband. A leather needle and regular poly thread was used, along with my special "roller foot". Rather than glueing the hem, I decided to stitch it up, figuring that would make it more secure for the life of the garment.

I'm very happy with the final product, and beautiful leather skirt in a wonderfully wearable color. Adding some tights will carry me through the winter, and the leftover skin will make for great accents for future garments! If you're afraid to try leather, don't be! I saved a ton of money making this myself, and it really wasn't any more difficult than any other woven fabric.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Fiction + Sewing = Happiness

When I can't sew (i.e. when we're camping), I love to read. I stumbled across 2 fantastic novels this summer that are related to sewing. I really enjoyed both of them, even though they had two very different settings.

"The Seamstress", by Frances de Pontes Peebles

This lavishly detailed if overlong debut novel set in 1920s and '30s Brazil follows two sisters who share excellent sewing skills, but take divergent paths into adulthood. (From Publishers Weekly)

I have never been a fan of "social studies", so I find it weird that I really enjoy historical fiction. Attaching characters to historical events completely grabs my attention, and I was further mesmerized by this story of sewing sisters and how differently they experienced life and managed to be connected. It's a LONG read, but I loved the descriptions of the treadle machines, the hand stitches, and the fine fabrics they worked with. Fascinating and educational.

"A Vintage Affair", by Isabel Wolff

When vintage clothing expert Phoebe Swift decides to abandon her career as a Sotheby’s auctioneer, she opens London’s Village Vintage, selling only the best recycled designer duds. However, it isn’t long before we discover that the cupcake dresses and alligator clutches that populate her quaint neighborhood shop aren’t Phoebe’s only baggage. Reeling from the death of a close friend and the subsequent collapse of her wedding engagement, Phoebe is in need of a change. She certainly loves the clothing she sells for its history, but it takes a new and profound friendship with the elderly client Mrs. Bell to show Phoebe to care for herself in the same way. Although the novel is sometimes predictable, UK best-seller Wolff keeps us entertained by sending a few courtiers Phoebe’s way and threading intriguing wartime historical fiction into Mrs. Bell’s backstory. Readers with a passion for couture fashion will appreciate (and feel vindicated by!) Wolff’s well-researched and intricate descriptions of beautiful, significant vintage pieces. While the dialogue is occasionally a bit bloated, this book is a smooth read with enough flair and fun for the beach or the pool. --Annie Bostrom, from Booklist

I just finished this one today, and it was so enjoyable. Set in modern day England, but the story connects back to WWII. Again, I was hooked into history by the characters in the book! Pretty predictable (and I much faster read than the previous book), but the discussion of vintage fashion trends and the popularity of vintage threads was very enjoyable. I'm looking forward to reading more by this author!

Nothing new to share. We went camping this week and enjoyed playing on the beach of Tawas Bay, riding bicycles, and touring a lighthouse. I have the leather cut and ready to stitch, but I've got to report to work Tuesday and Wednesday to ready my classroom and prepare for my students. I got the urge to purchase a new bag for school (a tote to bring carry graded papers and my iPad), but after seeing the prices online, I'm considering making my own. Bunny and Ann? If I go this route, I may be scouring your blogs for advice! If any of you have Vogue 7982 (OOP), and want to sell it, let me know!

Friday, August 17, 2012

A Different Kind of Vintage

Not dresses, but cars. Remember, I live in the Motor City! (Read to the end, there's fabric, I swear!)

Every August, the Motor City holds a little something called "The Woodward Dream Cruise" (which we usually stay far, far away from because the traffic is ridiculous). But, it was a beautiful day, and we went early to beat the crowd, riding DH's motorcycle and admiring the view of 8 lanes of hundreds of classic cars.

Apparently, back in the good old days (before I was born), quite a good time was had by "cruising Woodward". This week's celebration brought out every decade, every model, from hot rods to tail-fins, from muscle cars to cool trucks. Miles and miles of vintage cars, all oldies but goodies!

But, don't think that this little jaunt was all for DH! Guess what's located not far from Woodward Avenue? HABERMAN FABRICS!!!

I picked up some necessary supplies for an exciting upcoming project...
(Which involves this lovely lambskin from Gorgeous Fabrics)

And this amazing brocade was begging to come home with me, so I agreed.
Slightly textured abstract stripes of black, white, cobalt, and purple. I think it beats the red/white J Crew skirt's butt!

The red/white striped fabric is still on the work able, waiting for the sewing Gods to bring some solution to light. Regardless, today sure was a lot of fun!