Monday, September 27, 2010

Boycotting the RTW (Ready to Wear) JEAN!!!!

As of late, I've felt an occasional chill in the air that reflects the changing of the seasons. The official first day of autumn was a couple of days ago and of course I've had to face the reality that Summer's coming to the end and like you all go through the task of choosing my Fall/Winter wardrobe. I've already highlighted some of my sewing projects for the next couple of months HERE. But as usual around this time I get that same knot in my stomach. It's at this time I know I have to answer that AGE OLD question of  "What jeans and I going to wear"? Usually at this time every year I'd be lucky to have 2 pair of nice, well fitting jeans. This year I have NONE since I just wore out my last pair of jeans---the pair of Gap jeans I got from a fancy consignment shop for only $4 (that was an awesome deal!). I have ALWAYS had the hardest time finding jeans that fit and weren't Super expensive.

The reason I have so much trouble is due to the length of my lower half. I have some long legs!!!! Now I don't say that to brag or anything---- I'm simply just stating a fact. I am 5'8", short-waisted, and have a 34" in seam which makes it EXTREMELY difficult to find jeans that I like. You know, jeans with all of the right characteristics --- great fit, color, stretch in addition to them being long enough. I can usually survive the Spring and Summer without problem thanks to capris! Where would I be without them. I even buy pants too short for me and convert them into capris. But I have no way of getting around the issue during the cold weather. And since I know that's impending, I'm determined to break the cycle of panic and head this problem off early.

I've elected to do things differently this year and every year hereafter. I've made a new decision when it comes to finding jeans. I will no longer look for them and spend countless of hours searching for the perfect fit and length. It's OFFICIAL and I'm calling it QUITS!!!!  I've decided to "Boycott the RTW jean ALTOGETHER!!! I'll be making my own from now on.  I love being a Seamstress!!! As most of you know the arrival of such great jean patterns such as Jalie 2908 (which like most of you I also own) have made that a possibility. I've  I also have a couple of other jean patterns as well. In addition to that I've already got jean fabric and corduroy fabric as well.
 Sigh.......(exhales) don't know how liberated I feel! I'd always planned to sew my own jeans but for some reason kept holding on to the hope that I would find the jeans I was looking for. But I've gotten tired of even hoping. The last straw was when I bought a pair of "Long" jeans from Old Navy (during their $15 jean sale last month) and they still ended up short!!!! What's the world coming to when a "Long" Jean doesn't fit  long legs!!!!LOL!!! To Old Navy's defense, upon visiting their website, I realized they have "Tall" and "Long" lengths--but I'm still unsure on how they differ.  I guess I should stop complaining though, I could be Daryl Hannah (the actress from the movie Splash--pictured below) who is rumored to have a 40" in seam.
Legs that long pretty require some custom tailored pants for certain!!!

So I wrote this post to EXCLAIM that I'm joining the ranks of all you jean-sewers out there. I will probably be a Jean-Sewer-for-Life, that is until Express begins selling their $50+ jeans for $5. I know, not likely to happen but a Girl can dream right---LOL!!!! Jokes aside, I'll only buy jeans if I find everything I want for a decent price. If not, I'll no longer stress about it, especially since I can sew my own. In boycotting the RTW jean I'm finally ending the years of struggle of finding the right jeans. Now I know I'm not the only one out there. Since You've been sewing, what's the one RTW garment that you've Boycotted (or came close to Boycotting) and Why?

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Manipulating Fabric.....

I'm currently waiting for my copy of Manipulating fabric to arrive by mail. I believe I checked this book out from the library years ago and ran across it again when I was at Barnes and Noble last weekend.
  It was pretty cool getting "reacquainted" with the book and since I'm a bit more seasoned in my sewing the book really appealed to me. I plan to dabble a little more with draping and patternmaking so it would be pretty cool to know how to achieve desired results with fabric. This book will serve as a great supplement to my draping and patternmaking books.  Whether it's fancy gathers or pleats--its' pretty cool to be able to think of a "fabric affect" and know exactly how to achieve it. Here's one of the pics of fancy gathers I managed to take before my camera battery died.

 So hopefully I'll get this book within the next few days. It's $30 if you buy it new but I ordered it from for $13. As soon as I get it I'll be sure to do a review. I absolutely can't wait until it gets here. Does anyone out there have this book? What are your thoughts?

Also, I'm currently working on this blouse in the short sleeve wrap view. Hope to review in a couple of days!!! Happy Sewing to you.....

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

A Heartfelt Thanks / A Little about Me/ More Award Nominations.......

It seems the wonderful Trudy has nominated me for a Beautiful Blogger Award. It's so humbling to be nominated for anything and to have your work appreciated. I LOVE to sew and the fact that I can share my sewing adventures with you all is awesome. And needless to say I appreciate all of your comments and feedback--they're invaluable.

Well I won this award last year sometime and didn't want to single out any specific blogs for fear of leaving people out. Since I received this award again, I figure I should properly follow the rules and list 10 things about myself and select others for the award, especially since others have taken the time to follow the rules. Well here goes.....

So I'm supposed to 10 things about myself. Believe it or not, this is alot harder for me than you think. I'll probably end of making myself seem more boring than I already am. But since I'm trying to follow the rules, here goes.....

1. Purple is my favorite color. It relaxes me. It's ironic I was born in February where the birth stone is amethyst and my name, Victoria, was/is related to English royalty usually symbolized by the color purple. Even with all of those purple connections I don't obsess over it. However, my favorite place in the house (my Sewing Room) is purple and that makes me Ohhhhh, Sooooo Very Happy!!!!

2. I'm obsessive when it comes to learning new things. It's not uncommon for me to check out 30 or so library books on a subject. Hey I did this when I was first  learning how to sew. It works for me and I just go with it. I always learn better when I have multiple resources to choose from and by overlapping information. That explains my Big sewing library.......

3. I live by making lists and writing notes to myself. Post it notes are my friends---I should have bought stock in the company. LOL!!! There are lists when we take trips out of town, when I pay the bills, buy groceries, clean the house, etc. Hey, if I had to count on my brain to remember everything off the cuff the world would be in trouble.

4. I am SUPER frugal (I don't mind using the word CHEAP)!!! LOL! I work in the field of research science and enjoy the chase of finding things for a cheaper price. I hardly buy anything for regular price. Why pay full price if you can get it cheaper somewhere else. I usually always buy my sewing books used. I love sites like Amazon, Ebay, Half.Com, etc. I recently bought a microbiology textbook normally $110 for $2.95---the shipping cost more than the book. Yeah, I get a thrill on saving money!!!! I'm sure my Hubby appreciates this:)

5. I have a gluten and soy intolerance. I'm NOT allergic to them but the side affects of eating them (headache, lethargy) makes me avoid them all together. I wasn't born with this but acquired it in the last several years. However this doesn't stop me from eating my favorite foods because there usually is a gluten free version of it.

6. I LOVE cookbooks!!!! I'm not creative enough to think of my own meals so I rely on cookbooks to keep meals interesting. I prefer they have pics and step by step instructions and aren't super complicated. I loveto make healthy homemade meals for the family that don't take all day or can be made ahead of time and frozen. If it took all day, then I wouldn't have any time to sew (wink)! I

7.  I'm not a big fan of insects ----especially the older I get. They don't freak me out (well Spiders do--that's just too many legs and eyes) but I don't exactly want to commune with them. So needless to say there's no camping in my future LOL!

8. I love to pack and organize stuff! Suitcases, the car for trips, the pantry, etc (the small scale stuff). To my mind it's a game of 3-D Tetris and I love to make things fit and to maximize space.

9. I horribly neglect my car care!!!! I can't tell you the last time I washed my car. Thank God for my husband!!!!

10. To my knowledge, no one in my immediate family sews or have sewn seriously. I've always been crafty (taught myself to knit and crochet when I was a little girl). Although I didn't get sewing until in my twenties (following my Grand-MIL's passing in 2004),  I look forward to passing this craft on in my family. Hopefully I can inspire my daughter!

Ok, that's a little bit about me. Now to move on to the fun part ---nominating other for the rewards. I'd planned to nominate many more but many of you have just received the awards. Here are the folks I'm nominating for an award........

-K. Line- I love the way she shares her sewing adventures as well as all of the other happenings in her life. Her posts are always intelligent and quirky laced with so much honesty. It's always cool and refreshing to hear her point of view. She could make a boring subject seem interesting. Plus her affinity for all things lingerie is quite contagious!

-Carolyn from Diary of a Sewing Fanatic--- If I had a family member who sewed, I'd want her to be just like Carolyn. Her wisdom, skill, and insight into sewing are definitely the result of many years of experience. Her blog posts are interesting and I love the fact she's not afraid to voice her opinion.

-Megan from 2 Many Ideas-She's the ULTIMATE crafter. She dabbles in it all and has such great skill. She makes the most amazing crafts for her son and I can't wait to see what she makes next so I can copy it :) I'm happy to say she's both my friend and co-worker.

-Adrienne from Real Life Live & Unscripted--- For the last several years I've watched Adrian just do her thing. Sew up a storm, balance family life, and create time to have fun with family and friends. Quite frankly I've always wondered how's she's been able to do it. I used to think she didn't sleep, but she always looks so refreshed in all of her pics so I know that isn't the case! LOL! She's a Lady with mad skills and is oh, so inspirational:)

-Mahogany Stylist-Is a Veteran seamstress who makes the most amazing garments for her self and other people. Whatever I produce in a month, she always seems to sew 2 to 3 times as much.

-Simple Inspirations- I always want to wear everything she sews. Her style is so hip and colorful. I almost didn't believe that she was a Grandmother until she posted pics of her grandchildren. She looks incredibly young. I'll always be secretly jealous of her for that (wink)!

-I was Knit Together in My Mother's Womb--- I see her blog title and I can connect so much with it! She's definitely a crafty Woman with much skill and an equal amount of grace. Even on her blog her home looks so inviting. I just wish we were neighbors and her and I could just hang out with her on her porch. And what I wouldn't give to have a pair of her comfy knitted socks.

-Renee at My Sewing Space--- She's an awesome Seamstress who shows great skill in sewing for herself and her family. She also comes up with great craft items to sale. I admire her skill and ambition.

-Tany at Couture et Tricot--- She makes the MOST amazing clothes--from tailored coats to fitted, sexy dresses. And on top of that she's super stylish and beautiful.

-Uma Preve- She's a seamstress and above all a wonderful make up artist! She almost has me convinced that if I can apply makeup as good as she does, maybe I can look as pretty as her! LOL! In my dreams! Jokes aside, she's a sweetheart and a true inspiration.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Burda 7549

   While out of town in AK my husband and I celebrated our anniversary---13 years together (8 married).  Since we couldn't celebrate then, we postponed until this weekend (when when our little Girl was at a sleepover for the weekend).  So to make the occassion really special I knew I needed a cute little outfit. Since we were going out on the town, so to speak,  I wanted to wear something casual but sexy. So I got to looking through my patterns and remembered a top that I had cut out a month or so ago but hadn't had time to sew it up. I thought it would fit the ocassion perfectly---it was playful, and casual with some sex appeal. So I whipped it up and wore it. I tried to make a second version in the printed fabric pictured (below) but didn't have enough fabric for it. Nevertheless, the blouse worked perfectly and we had a wonderful celebration and I look forward to many more years with my Best Friend and Hubby!!!!! Well here's the blouse review.......
Burda 7549
Pattern Description:
Loose fitting blouse with neckline gathers
Pattern Sizing:
I cut out the size 10 since I knew there was alot of ease in this pattern. I didn't necessarily want to get swallowed up by it.
Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?
Were the instructions easy to follow?
Very much so!
What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
I pretty much liked the pattern from start to finish. I have to admit, I'm not always super excited to do gathers, but I love the effect in this top.

Fabric Used:
Matte jersey
Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:
I didn't have to make any!
Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?
I would looooove to! I love to have duplicates of cute knit tops. I'll make this in a printed knit next time.
Great top and its Super easy to sew! If you like this style it's definitely worth sewing.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Sixth Finger Stiletto---a NIFTY Sewing Tool!!!

I was digging through my sewing caddy and came upon a tool I forgot I had since I hadn't used it in quite some time. The trade marked name for it is the "SixthFinger Stiletto". It is great to use when you need to get in a tight space and save your fingers from being burned or in risk of piercing by your sewing machine needle (see the pictures on the package).  Well after rediscovering this little tool I'll definitely not let it out of my sight again. In the last few days I've been using it to work out puckers when easing/sewing in sleeves, help me keep control of sewing narrow hems, and when pressing tight corners. It's definitely an invaluable tool!!!! I don't know if you own one but I definitely suggest you give it a try, especially if you feel you could use a "sixth finger" (wink)!!!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Client Work Complete! --------Simplity 3877

 On Sunday morning I finally  finished the dress I've been sewing for a client/ dear friend for the last few weeks. To see more complete details about the dress and what sparked the whole idea please visit my original post HERE. I'm delighted to be done and to have given my client a dress that she's absolutely happy with. I love the way this dress turned out as well. The style and color suits my client very well. As I've mentioned before, I absolutely love to sew for others. To a great extent it makes me a tad bit crazy and anal---mainly because I want to deliver a garment that my client can be proud to wear and is a good reflection of my passion for sewing.   At her request I'm blocking out her ideas to conceal her identity.  I indeed enjoyed working with her.  She was easy to please and appreciated my input and professional opinion.  Trust me, when working with a client these are two attributes you come to appreciate. She's equally as beautiful on the inside as well as the outside. As a whole, this experience was a great one from start to finish and couldn't have gone smoother.  Here are the details......

Simplicity 3877

(BTW, please, please, please excuse the wrinkles (I HATE wrinkles), the person that delivered the dress accidentally crumpled it up after I'd pressed it. The fabric is a cotton sateen, and as we all know, most cottons are extremely prone to wrinkling).

Pattern Description:
Dress with mock wrap bodice and skirt with godets.

Pattern Sizing:
I used the size 12 for my client.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?

Were the instructions easy to follow?
Very much so.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
The pattern was well drafted. There was really nothing not to like. However, the neckline facing (nearest to the collar) was a little questionable. I've never seen such a facing. The more I sew, the more I'm beginning to dislike facings all together.

Fabric Used:
I used a turquoise stretch sateen. The pattern uses between 5-6 yards of fabric. That's alot of fabric!!! The weight of the stretch sateen made it a little heavier that I expected (not uncomfortably so)---- but I can see why the fabric suggestions are for lightweight fabrics. The inspiration dress that we saw in the Metro magazine (see the original post) used stretch sateen so I decided to go with that fabric to mimic that dress.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:
 My Client didn't like the tabbed sleeves, so I got rid of the tab and extended the sleeve a little so she would have a 3/4" sleeve that she could roll up or leave straight. I also used an invisible zipper.

(This is the back view. Again, excuse the unintended wrinkles)

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?
Yes, I've already made View D for myself this year (it was my Mother's Day Dress) and attempted to make View C, but picked a fabric that was too lightweight.  I think I might tackle this project in the near future provided I find the perfect fabric for it.

This is a great dress!!!! The style and color are extremely flattering on my client!!! It's no surprise that this pattern has received rave reviews!!! I definitely recommend that if the style suits you, you should give it a try (wink)!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

July/ August 2010 10,000 Hr Sewing Challenge Wrap-Up & September/October Sewing Goals

Let's start with sewing details from the last 2 months...........

July/August 2010 10,000 HR Sewing Challenge Re-Cap

To recap, I had quite the sewing adventures in July and the lack-thereof in August (well I did manage to sew the Goddess dress in August). The July/August months were my least productive since I lost over half the month's time in August due to a week of vacation and 10+ days for my work trip to Alaska. All in all, it is what it is and I was able to sew the following in the last 2 months:

Despite not being able to sew my usual 6-8 garments, I was able to rack up on fabric while on vacation, visit a good deal of sewing stores, I took my serger for a tune-up while I was in Tallahassee (visit Nancy's Embroidery Heaven if you're ever in the area and need to get your machine cleaned), So although I didn't get to do as much sewing done, the months weren't necessarily a waste.

However I plan to make up for my lack of sewing. For my September/October Challenge Goals right off the bat I intend to...

- Finish up my Client dress, which I did as of this morning and will be posting pics on tomorrow. It turned out great and I can't wait to share the details with you.
-Wrap up Summer sewing-- Burda pattern
-Begin sewing for the fall

For fall I'm all about comfortable and cute cool weather wear. Since I live in a sub-tropical climate, the transition into cold weather will likely be a slow one, so my sewing will reflect that.  I'm not really getting into any particular trends but I definitely want to wear plenty of tights, cardigans, cute dresses, and corduroy pants. I plan to revisit some patterns and try out some new one's.

Here are some of my September/October sewing plans at a glance:
- Cardigans
-Jeans/ Corduroys (Jalie 2909)
-Vogue dress
-Cute jacket
-Vogue 1020

Now here are the specific patterns and fabric.......

 (I love this dress (and have made it once before) but ran into this wonderful knit with lace print and thought it would be great for this pattern. The fabric is so dramatic and bold and the pattern is so fitted. I think it will be perfect together).

(Here are two dresses and top with their respective knit fabrics (which of course are subject to change). I prefer to make the Vogue DKNY pattern on the left in a solid but I may do it in the print---I haven't really decided yet. The Vogue in the middle, I've made before and know it will look great in this geometric print. And I wanted a cute top so the Butterick on the right with the mod-like fabric should be pretty cool).

(I have had this synthetic snake skin print in my stash forever and have been planning to use the McCall pattern on the right. But then I saw the one on the left and am thinking about using it for the fabric. I'm short waisted so I'm not sure the short jacket would be the best bet, but I'll make up my mind soon).

(Here are a few other patterns I'm considering. I definitely will be making a few cardigans as posted about HERE and I definitely will be using the Jalie pattern for corduroy pants.)

So that wraps up my sewing aspirations for September & October. During these months I hope to be extremely productive!!!!

Currently I'm working on my last summer sewing project. I've had this burda top (burgundy) cut out for a few weeks now and haven't had the time to sew it. I'm contemplating making a second version in the fabric on the left, provided I have enough of it. I have a special event planned for this weekend and would like to wear them if possible!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Don't Sweat the Technique......BUT by all means refresh your knowledge of it!!!!

What does making macaroni and cheese and sewing a sleeve have in common? Well I'm about to tell ya! I was downstairs cooking this morning (trying to prepare dinner ahead of time) when something happened that made me think of  an occurrence last night when I was sewing my clients dress. I was preparing my "famous" macaroni & cheese for my family and a friend.  It's a recipe I spotted on a soul food website and it's been a popular one amongst my family and friends since. Well, I've used this recipe countless of times and can pretty much do so from memory. But it's been a little while since I've made it so I had to skim over the recipe to refresh myself. Well I made it very carefully and got to the last step but went ahead and topped it with cheese before putting it into the oven. At the last minute I realized I rushed the step of adding the cheese and should bake it first for 45min covered and do that as the last step. Somehow I managed to jump the gun, but thankfully realized it in time and was able to correct my mistake.  Ok, hang in here with me, I'm acutally getting to a point..

Last night I was sewing the sleeves on my Clients dress. Sewing in the sleeves, zipper and some handstitching are all that's left. This project seems like it's been taking me forever--mainly because I've been so anal about it. But to my point---- I eased and sewed the sleeve in and  noticed it had way too many puckers. Now some sleeves are designed to have the gathers at the top but at a glance the sleeve's cap, which isn't as tall, so I know that shouldn't be the case. Anywho, I knew I must've done something wrong and after consulting a couple of books and Amanda's sleeve-easing post (thanks Amanda, this is such a great post), I realized I stupidly was sewing my sleeve, gathered side down instead of up--where I could work out the puckers. I mean I KNEW this and used to do it all of the time. But for some reason , since I hadn't in a while (I hadn't sewn sleeves for the last 6 or so months due to warm weather)  I needed to refresh my memory.

And that's simply the point I'm trying to make. All too many times it's so easy to get in the habit of doing things and to stray away from the proper techniques. Whether it's making mac & cheese, setting in sleeves, and _______________ (you feel in the blank), this occasionally happens. I think the smartest thing to do is to go back to the basics and refresh your memory. So many seamstresses beat themselves up over what they forget, don't know or just plain aren't good at. Well as the old school rap song by Eric B and Rakim goes, "Don't Sweat the technique". In the world of sewing, for me, this saying means you shouldn't go and get all stressed out over the situation--- what you've forgotten and don't know. Instead go and "refresh" what you know. Read a book, look at a video, read someone else's blog---get the information from somewhere. You may even find a better technique in the process.

It doesn't matter how long or little you've sewn, there's always room for learning and in some cases re-learning. I think this holds true in life in general. The longer you do anything the more you run the risks of things going stale or becoming monotonous if you're not careful--- this can be true in a marriage, in parenting, your relationships with people, etc. I'm not saying you should distrust and second guess everything you do. But I am suggesting that if something seems like it's wrong or amiss, to step aside and try to figure out why. It's better to do that then to live in a state of denial. Who knows, you may re-learn something or even discover something new.

 Well enough with my mental ramblings---I'm off to sew in some sleeves (wink)!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Fabric Give-A-Way WINNERS!!!

On late August I posted about my Fabric Giveaway HERE. A condition to the giveaway was to leave a comment on my post detailing how you keep track of your fabric stash.  Some of you had systems and some not, some of you had tons of fabric and others only kept only enough to complete their projects. All in all, I really appreciate all of the wonderful insights each of you shared.

Now it's time to giveaway some fabric.

I used the old fashioned "pull-the-number-out-of-the-box" system. There were 39 comments and each commentor was assigned a nmber. The first received the number 1, the second the number 2, and so on and so forth. I received help in drawing names from my lovely assistance (my Wee-One who recently turned 3). She so graciously pulled a number out of the box and selected from the fabrics which were separately written on two pieces of paper and placed on the table. My daughter got really excited about doing the drawings that is until she found out Daddy had cookies in the kitchen. So we had to make this drawing quick (wink)!!!
(Digging in for numbers)
(Pairing the selections)
(Here are the selections...)
(Numbers up close with paired fabrics It's hard to see but the top left number is 9 and the the bottom left number is 1)

So it is my pleasure to announce that Lover of Words is the winner of the Blue,white, gold and aubergine floral lycra and Sewsue is the winner of the Black and white abstract print knit. Congrats ladies and please email me at to let me know where I need to send the fabric. Thanks again for everyone's participation. If you didn't win, there will be plenty more opportunities in the future. Giveaway's are soooooo much fun and I plan on having them periodically!!!!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Sewing for Clients Part II: My Strategy

I finally made it back home on Thursday morning and it's taken me a little bit to get re-acclimated to my time zone (there's a 4 hour difference where I was in AK). Please forgive my lack of posting I hope to catch up by mid-week. As soon as I felt somewhat rested I jumped on the dress I'm making for my client detailed HERE.  In the same post I mentioned how much I enjoyed sewing for people. As promised I wanted to follow up that post by revealing my Client Sewing Strategy. Alot of you sew for others out there (or maybe not which is ok) but for those of you who do have your own strategy which is so great. This service could be in the form of alterations or dressmaking. Anyway, each of us are different and thus may have a different strategy on sewing for and interacting with people. I am in NO WAY an expert--I would like to put that out there now........, but what I've managed to do is create a system that works well for me. The development of this system is a combination of good information gained over the years, mistakes made, and a relentless desire to learn the art of sewing for others, predicated by the love of doing so.

When the idea of sewing for others surfaced, I realized I really didn't know what it entailed. Doing alterations for people was pretty straight forward. At first I had issues with pricing my services I used the prices of local alteration shops as guidelines. I was also able to find helpful alteration books HERE and RIGHT HERE. But the dressmaking process was a whole other BEAST.  So of course I did some research to help me gain some knowledge and insight so I could create both a comfortable and productive process for both myself and clients. I looked for some helpful books on the subject. I mean really, I had questions to answer like "how much do I charge?", "what types of jobs should I take", "how long is reasonable to complete a job", etc, etc.  I discovered that there weren't alot of books on the subject. I mean there are tons of book on crafting or selling your crafts for money but not so many that specifically address making clothes or doing alterations for people.  I managed to find two good books. They are pictured here....
Although the books are a little older, the information was relevant and was helpful. This information coupled with a few helpful insights gained from other experienced seamstresses, I was able to feel more comfortable with the idea and jumpstart a process. As mentioned before I've done only about 12 or so jobs. But I have to admit, those jobs have allowed me to tweak my process to where it is today and help me learn the following truths:

A FEW Details About the process:

* Every job starts with an initial consultation with the client. I usually have them visit the Big 4 sites to pick 5 patterns they like or bring in a photo of something that interests them.  We discuss this and the occasion for what they need the garment. We discuss their body types and the types of clothes they do or don't feel good in and their color preferences.  I give my professional opinion as well as suggestions. Once we come to a good decision on the pattern then we discuss fabric possibilities. After that I set out to get all of the info needed for project (pattern cost, fabric, notions, etc.) Within 24-48 hours I'm able to give an estimate of the cost of the project.

* I separate the cost of my projects into 2 portions: 1. Labor Cost and  2.All other costs (Fabric, Notion, etc.) . My labor cost is usually firm while I give my clients the flexibility to control the fabric, notion, etc. So if a client decides they want to make a dress out of real silk instead of a polyester satin, I help them to understand how that affects the overall price of the garment. Most of my clients like being able to control the pricing that way and are generally ok with my labor costs.  Besides, I always work very hard to help my clients get the best price on fabric, notions, etc. But I have to be involved in the fabric picking process. Since I have to sew the garment I have to ensure they're getting the correct fabric for the project. As a side note, If my client is adamant about using a difficult fabric such as chiffon, then my labor costs may be a little higher.

*After all of the fabric and supplies are purchased by the client, a work agreement is filled out with details project details and pricing. Once it's signed, and 25% of the labor costs are rendered, I begin the process of sewing for my client. Depending upon the pattern I can do a number of things. Sometimes I tissue fit, then do a muslin, then do several more fittings with tweaking. It just depends on what I'm making and it's level of complication. One thing I do like to do are muslins because it helps my clients to get a sneak peek of the finished product. Either way, I schedule anywhere from 1 to 3 fittings. Once the final fitting is complete,  I no longer need to meet with my client and I work towards completing the project.

*I usually allow for a month maximum from start to finish to complete the project. That means from the initial consultation, fabric searches, all of the fittings, to the final piece. It can take less time that that depended upon whether or not we need to order fabric, schedule a few fittings around their busy schedules, etc.

*As far as pricing goes my labor prices are as follows:
-Formal dresses starting at $90
-Dresses starting at $60
-Skirts starting at $30
-Shirts starting at $40

Here are a  FEW important things I've learned along the way:

* I don't have to accept any and every job. Being selective gives me the freedom to select those in which I feel I can yield the best results and prevents me from getting in over my head.
*I can't possibly fulfill every request. There are some items outside of my experience level and I shouldn't feel neither bad or insecure about this.
*When I work with clients it's imperative I consider myself a Professional. That's not the same as being an Expert. But it means all the difference in how I interact with my clients. People want to feel they are dealing with someone competent.

* I only work with people who not only have their own ideas but are open to my suggestions and professional opinion.  I won't work with people who are too indecisive or people who are too domineering. On one hand the person may not know what they want and on the other hand may be too dominating and have unrealistic expectations. Both can lead to disaster!!! I can usually determine the personality type during the consultation and thus make the decision on whether I want to proceed with the project.
*The fitting/sewing process can be a little nervous for the client. So it's important to do what's necessary to keep them at ease. And it's important to completely communicate the process with them.
*I WILL NOT work for peanuts!  As seamstresses we know how much work goes into our garments. I can't undercut my hard work and worth in order to save someone else some money. If you want something cheaper than buy it RTW. But if you want to have it customized and tailored to your specifications, then be prepared to pay  for those services. A good seamstress is worth her costs indeed!!! This was the hardest and most important thing for me to realize. The only people I work with are those who are willing to pay my prices (which are extremely fair)!!! These are the kind of people who don't expect something for nothing---which in the end are usually the best people to work with:)

So here are just a FEW of my strategies and thoughts about sewing for clients. This is such a passion of mine and I could talk on and on about it. Again, I love to sew for other people if the conditions and projects are to my liking. In all honesty I prefer alteration work because the turn around is quicker and I tend to make better money for the time spent. But I love to pick up the occasional sewing project.  Speaking of which, let me get back to the current client project. Hope to be completely done in the next day or so.....
Next Up: The Fabric Giveaway Winners!!!!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Scarred for Life! The sewing mistake I'll never forget!

I'm sitting in the Anchorage, Alaska Airport awaiting my last 3 flights before I make it home early tomorrow morning. Things have been so crazy and I've been trying so desperately to post but work has had me so busy. I however, when possible, have had fun keeping up with all of your sewing adventures:) The last post I made was on Sewing for Clients: My current project/and Love of doing so (I think that was the title, see last post). I want to resume with my Sewing for Clients: My Strategy Post, but allow me to interject this quick post. I'll tackle the "strategy" post when I'm back at home and am less tired:)

Again, in keeping with the theme of sewing for clients I got to thinking about my most memorable mistakes when sewing for a client. And the one that pops to mind is the one I always think about when I think about my sewing mistakes in general. Believe me, I've definitely made my share, but this one takes the cake.

A few year ago I was asked to make a gown for a friend who was celebrating her 10th Wedding Anniversary. I did it as a gift since I was new at sewing for others and wanted to get my work out there. So we found this pattern Butterick 6533.

And made this dress.....

As you can see the dress turned out quite well, her ceremony was beautiful, and my friend was so delighted that she paid me a nice sum for the dress. In addition I picked up 3 more clients just from the advertisement. Trust me a little Pro-Bono work goes a long way!!!

Ok, back to the point of this post. Although all ended well with this dress, it's thoughts of this dress that always remind me of one of my biggest, almost irreparable snafus. It all started when I was preparing to cut the dress out. I had the pattern pieces perfectly aligned and everything was ready to go. Well for some reason I had to mark something on the fabric. The fabric was a champagne colored crepe back satin. It was so beautiful. Well I grabbed my trusty blue chalk wheel, you know one of these things,
 (I had/have a chalk wheel like the one on the right)
and make my mark. From what I remember, before I went into panic mode, is that I made a rather long mark and realized that I did so in the wrong place. When I proceeded to wipe the chalk away I noticed that it would not rub out. It was then that I realized the satin side of the crepe back satin (which was the right side of the garment I was working with) locked in the chalk and it wasn't coming out that easy. In hindsight I should have marked the wrong side of the fabric as I normally do. But I figured the chalk would easily brush out of any fabric. Which of course wasn't the case.  So I thought I'd just rub a little more to get rid of the mark. And still, it didn't even show signs of lifting. So that's when I began to panic!!!! I washed the fabric only to find that the 4" long chalk blue line had faded just a little but still was somewhat evident. I washed it again and it faded out to almost barely noticeable. I think I ran in circles for about an hour frantically trying to figure out what to do. I didn't have any extra fabric---I think I bought all that was on the bolt.  There was no going back, I had to make this work and move forward. So as a final solution and after all of that washing, I did a mad dash to rearrange all of the pattern pieces so that the blue mark would fall on the fish tail train. It did and was barely noticeable to anyone. I even explained it to my friend who didn't notice what I was talking about. I guess we as seamstresses are pretty anal about our work. Needless to say my snafu fortunately didn't ruin the dress.

In hindsight this isn't the worst thing that could possibly have  happen. But I think it was the fact that I made this mistake on someone elses dress instead of my own that intensified the situation. But this snafus WILL FOREVER reign in my mind as my most memorable sewing mistake. That is, until I make another one that takes its place! I cringe at the very thought!!!! But hey, mistakes happen and I won't ever let the possibility of them stop me from sewing--and I know you won't either (wink).  Besides, some of my greatest sewing lessons have been learned from my mistakes. Such is life......  How about you, what's your most memorable sewing mistake????? I'd love to here your story!!!


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