Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Preschooler Elsa

So what was my big project for January? 
Oh, just a little costume from a movie that might have been a smash hit. 
Artist Source
Actually, this dress never made it to the movie, but it was in all the concept art! 

A friend messaged me asking if I could make a preschooler Elsa dress for her daughter to wear to their family trip to Disneyland. Little miss had outgrown the Princess Anna dress that I had made, but her little sister could fit it now! It seemed appropriate to make an Elsa dress for the older sister. 

There was just two problems: I was working on an alteration commission from someone else, and my friend's deadline was just in a couple weeks. By the time I finished the alterations, I had only one week to plan, get supplies, and make the dress. Oy.
I'm pleased to say that it was finished just in the nick of time! But my days were literally go to work, get home, and get sewing. Power sewing to the max. That is it. 

I used Simplicity pattern 1507 as a base for the dress. I traced out the bodice pieces and drew on the straps and decorative bib on the front. I could have made this as two separate pieces, the jumper and a shirt, but I wanted it to be a single piece that you could easily put on without needing to hunt down all the parts of the outfit. So I took the pieces that I drafted and essentially appliqued them onto the bodice. Easy, straight forward, simple enough. The skirt was a similar story. I sewed down the ribbons along the skirt edge, and ta-da! All the sewing is done.  
Then came the details. I had several directions that I could have gone with this. I could do the rosemaling in the traditional style and embroider everything, cut out each of the individual pieces and applique them on, or pain them on. Time was not on my side, so I opted for the fabric paint. 
I've used this before for my Captain America Disney-bound dress. This particular fabric paint doesn't stand out from the material, and it's matte = no shiny. I found some close-ups to get the details and made stencils from that. They weren't perfect, but they got the general idea across. ;) I then turned on Gilmore Girls on Netflix and painted for goodness knows how long. 

But I'm really please with how it all turned out. I couldn't imagine doing all of that embroidery or appliqueing. I doubt that it would have been done in time. ;) 
Bodice Detailing
Close up of the skirt hem

I chose to do buttons instead of a zipper because they're so much cuter. 
I think it took me a week to recover from all that power sewing. :P 

Project Details
Pattern: Simplicity 1507
Materials used: Cotton Fabrics, fabric paint, buttons, thread
Time spent: Well, the sewing was done in probably 4 hours. The painting? I have no idea...

Until next time!

Saturday, January 6, 2018

People You Might Meet

In my vast  experience (okay, only 2 years now) of being a vendor, I've noticed some trends, stereotypes if you will, of people who frequent those sorts of events. Maybe it's the markets that I've chosen to go to, maybe it's just representative of fair-goers in general. I don't know. This is just what I've seen. :P

Let me introduce you to:

Everyone's Grandma
You know, the one that everyone loves because she's amazing. She oohs and awws over handmade goods and reminisces about when everyone knew how to do things well. She's there because there was a flyer at the senior center or church, and she and her friends had some free time, or she's shopping for gifts for friends, her kids, or grandkids, or maybe she's an organizer/assistant for the bazaar. For whatever reason, she is there and loving every minute. She might be looking for something special and unique, something that can't be found in a store. She brightens your day and talks to you for quite a while, but you don't mind because you've decided that you want to adopt her for your own grandma. There's nothing wrong with having lots of grandmas, is there?  

Everyone's Grandma's Hubby
He's there because Everyone's Grandma convinced him to. Maybe he's a volunteer for setting up. Maybe he's here for the food. Maybe he wanted to get out of the house. Maybe it's all of the above. Maybe it's just because. You like him a lot too because he's so cute following his wife around and trying to amuse himself at an event that is certainly not entirely his cup of coffee. But he likes it because his wife likes it. That makes me happy.   

The County Fair Judge
This is the one who very closely inspects the technical details of what you're selling while not talking to you or making eye contact until they have finished looking over everything. Seams, stitch sizing, hem allowance, how the seams are finished, everything. You hold your breath while they conduct their inspection. When they're finished, they look up at you and give you a smile, a nod, and a 'well done,' and they move on. At least, that's what you hope they say. I haven't had them say anything else. Yet. ;) 

The Tag-Along
They are here because their friend dragged them along. Unlike Everyone's Grandma's Hubby, the Tag-Along isn't all that excited or self-entertained. They tend to be more critical. Everyone's Grandma might try to initiate some sort of a conversation with them or include them when talking about the dying arts, but it usually falls on deaf ears. The tag-alone usually doesn't appreciate what they're looking at, in fact, they might rather be anywhere else. 

The Crafter
Now this could be two different people. 1) Those who are inspired by what you make and 2) those who know just enough of your craft to show off to their friends their boundless knowledge. 

The former will ask you questions about resources, your experience with such-and-such, they're there to learn and be inspired. I love these people because little do they know that they inspire me as well with their different approach to doing something. A fresh perspective can rekindle a passion for something that has been relegated to the UFO pile.

My favorite experience with the latter: 
Lady looking at my doll dresses: Well, why did you line it? That's so much more work. See, if I made it, I wouldn't make a lining. And why did you serge the seams? I wouldn't do that either. Too much time. 
Me: raises eyebrows
Me to myself: wow...
Me: tries to explain the reasoning behind my decisions
Her: That's still too much work for what you're making (exit stage left)
Me: still wondering what happened

The Parents
They usually have a stroller and a couple kids they're trying to corral. They are the sneakiest people I've met because they somehow manage to buy Christmas presents for their kids while they're right there. The parents are usually awe-inspiring and terrifying at the same time. Do I need to keep my eye on you because of how good you are at that? But seriously? Your kids are clinging to you and bouncing around, yet they literally are completely oblivious what you're doing.
"Ooh, mommy, I like that! Can I have that?"
"Not today sweetie." (slips a credit card across the table)

The Networker
These folks seem to know everyone, and there's at least one person in their social circle who knows how to do your craft. You get to hear all about this person's adventures, but you're sad because you'll never get to meet this amazing human.
"Oh, so-and-so can do this. Do you know them?" 
"Uh... no."

We tend to be each other's best customers. We all watched each other set up, the first ones to wander the market before it's officially open, talked a bit throughout the event, swapped market stories, and then something catches our eye. It will sit there for the entire event staring us in the face. By the end of the day, we cave and slip away from our booth to our neighbor's and slip our own credit card across the table.

Do you find these observations to be true? Or is it just me?

Until next time!

Monday, January 1, 2018

The Year Ahead - 2018

Where to start? I have so many ideas buzzing around in my head that it's hard to pick just one thing to focus on! 

First off - the blueberry dress to wrap up the fruit sisters series. I started this summer 2017 with drafting my own pattern from a shirt in my closet, but I made the waist too long. It really wanted to be a 20's dress with a dropped waist, but my waist measurements don't fit my hip measurements. ;) So I need to rip out the waistband and zipper, trim up the bodice about 1.5", and then put it all together again. Easier said than done? We'll see. 
Next up - the galaxy skirt. I found this border material during my trip to my favorite cotton shop. I'll give you more details when I work on it. 
Next on my list is some boring things - like Regency stays, shift, petticoat, and chemisette. I love the early-1800's, but I've never truly felt like I walked out of the history book. Since I seem to gravitate towards that era, that should be a good place to start. Maybe this year is going to be the year that I dive into corset making. :gasp:  
I have some ideas for my cosplay for comic con this year. It primarily involves another circle skirt with appliqued details on it and a cape. I don't want to give it all away just yet. ;) 

Beyond that, I have a secret project that I can't share with you yet because it's a present for a certain someone. Don't worry, I'll take in-progress pictures and share it with you when I can. :D 

And that is it for grand sewing plans. I have doll dresses a plenty to do, aprons to put together (I have a stack of them cut out, I just need to finish them!), pillowcases to assemble, etc... AKA things to restock my booth. 

While we're on the subject of booths... I'm seriously considering taking my product and selling online and only doing a few select shows this year. Any tips, ideas? I'd love to hear them! 

Until next time! 

Sunday, December 31, 2017

2017 Year in Review

2017 has been quite the year. I graduated from college in June and hit the ground (literally - I'm a gardener) working full time. My time off was suddenly my own. It didn't belong to homework; I could nap without regrets. So nap I did. I would come home from work and just sleep, get up long enough to have dinner and do barn chores, then back to bed. Suddenly, starting in September, every weekend and all my time off had something scheduled, and things were usually back-to-back. 

Honestly, I'm surprised that I got much crafting done at all. I didn't realize how much I managed to squeeze in with everything going on until I started going through pictures for this post. :P  

I started the year without much in the way of any grand project planning - just a few things that were stash-busting projects. All I knew is that I needed to whittle down my fabric stash. My rule was to only use materials that I already had on hand unless it was a notion or thread. That's it. For the most part, I was able to stick to that pretty well. :pats self on the back:

Starting in January, we had a ton of snow, freezing rain, or some sort of combo of the two. That left plenty of time for making things because I couldn't get to work or classes due to road conditions. Stressful for that reason alone. But I was able to get quite a bit of knitting and sewing in. ;) 

  Somehow I managed to squeeze in the red poppy dress in February. I've got some altering plans for this. I'm finding that I don't wear it all that much because it is harder to wear as a full dress. Maybe I'll just chop off the bodice and keep the skirt; that way, I can have more outfit options with it. We'll see what actually happens. 
 And that was it for a long time. I was playing catch-up with my classes. I didn't really sew anything until April with the tiny foxes dress
 To continue the stash-busting theme, I did a strawberry dress for my sister in July. This is part 2 of 3 for my fruit dress collection. There was the lemon dress for one sister, this dress for the other sister. Next up, is a blueberry dress for myself. It was started, but there were kinks in the pattern that I needed to work out. I ran out of berry dress steam, and it was thrown into the UFO pile. 
 The next big project that I managed to squeeze in was my first cosplay - the Chewbacca circle skirt. I had plans to get the rest of the ensemble put together for comic con, but I just didn't have the time. All I cared about was that it was easy to wear and a subtle enough reference that people had to be paying attention to catch it. ;) 
  After comic con, I wanted to make a new dress for a dance that was less than 2 weeks later. Somehow a Regency dress was finished in that time. There's some things I want to add to the dress, but it was wearable for the event. 
The same weekend of comic con marked the beginning of the craft fair season. This year, I was able to fit in 4. I learned quite a bit at these events - the biggest being what to look for when scoping out potential markets and making sure that they are well publicized.
 For the first few markets that I did, I was able to get by with what I already had in stock. By the last market, I realized that I needed to have some more Christmas-y things as well, so I threw together what I could in time for the event. I was literally putting in the last stitch during a lull while I was sitting in my booth. 
After the last bazaar, I was able to dive back into paper piecing with a tote for a friend! 
 After the bag came the Christmas sewing craziness. No matter how much I try, I always end up sewing things on Christmas Adam and Eve. Everyone gets pj's. They know that. The surprise is the print. I get the fabric on Black Friday with the intention of working on it through the month, but that never happens. :P 
  After the Christmas craziness, comes the apparently annual tradition with my friend. We wander through a cute downtown (because it's middle ground for us and there's a fabric shop). I've decided that it was my annual trip there, so it was time to stock up. I have no self-control. Maybe a year of fabric-purchasing restraint was a good thing. Now I should be well set for a long while. Since I'm done with school, I have free time (well, sort of), and I have a list of things to sew before the spring planting craze. And I'm desperately needing to restock my inventory for the next bazaar season. 
Until next time! 

Monday, December 18, 2017

Wibbly Wobbly Book Bag

Well, this is a deviation from a normal project for me, that's for sure. 
I haven't done paper piecing in a long while, but it felt good to be back in the saddle. 
A friend of mine just finished her masters, and I was wracking my brain trying to figure out what to get her. Suddenly, out of the (TARDIS) blue, the idea struck me - what about a book bag? :D 
It even has pocketsesss.
 The last thing I made that utilized paper piecing was a Star Wars quilt. The pieces of that paper piecing was :much: larger and therefore easier. This TARDIS has many teeny, tiny pieces. Maybe I should have jumped back on the band wagon with an easier pattern, but that's not how I roll at all. 
Not perfectly lined up... 
I got the pattern for the block at Fandom in Stitches. They have tons of geeky quilt blocks that are available for FREE! But read the tiny print though - because they feature licensed characters, products made from the patterns are not to be sold. Please don't abuse this precious resource; I'm rather fond of them. 

I added a border around the block, attached a back, some straps, and an interlining and lining. 
Voila! A bag. The block took longer than the rest of the project :P 
Project Specs
bag is my own pattern 

TARDIS is made from scraps 
The main fabric is from Joann's 

Until next time!

Sunday, December 17, 2017

My Addiction

It suddenly dawned on me recently - I've made a lot of doll dresses over the years. 

 They go together with relative ease. They're so cute. I can put as much or as little detail into them as I want. I can play with quirky prints that wouldn't really work anywhere else. I can use small pieces of fabric, scraps even, and make something with it. I can buy remnants at a deeply discounted price and still have plenty of material to finish a project with. 
I have a problem, and I can't stop.

Want to know what started this entire mess?
This little creation right here. 
My literature teacher saw that I had made a doll dress using scraps from a costume I had made for my sister's doll. That little dress was haphazard to say the least, and yet, she trusted me enough to commission a doll dress for her granddaughter. I was so stressed to make sure that I made it right; my heart was racing when I took the dress to her. Then she loved it. :phew: That was in '09.  
After that, I didn't stop. 

I've played with ethnic dresses
 I've parked in different fashion eras
And all of them are made with either scraps or remnants
Some have a lot of detail put in
Others are simpler.
These ones were all made using the left overs from my pillowcase making spree. 
I've even done matching sets
All that to say, I honestly didn't realize how long I've been making doll dresses or how many I've made over the years, and this is just a small sampling! 
Sure there were breaks in the doll dress sewing craziness and other projects thrown into the mix, but I keep coming back to doll dresses for some reason or another.  

And I don't intend on stopping anytime soon. ;) 

Until next time!

Monday, December 11, 2017

What to Not Say When Shopping at a Show

Things observed at markets and craft fairs because even though I'm running the booth, people treat me like I'm invisible and deaf.
So, while you're browsing through a booth at any sort of fair, show, bazaar, or market, I have a couple things that you absolutely CANNOT say. You might not realize what you're implying by saying them.

1) I can make that!
2) You can buy that at Walmart!

Let me break this down a bit to give you an idea of what you are saying when those words are uttered. 
1) "I can make that" is a slap to the creativity of the maker (who is more likely than not standing right there). They have taken the time, effort, and money to create something. Yes, you probably could go home and make it right now, but will you? My personal rule of thumb when I think that is to seriously consider buying it for the inspiration. In a sense, you're giving credit where credit is due. Obviously, I like what you made. Creativity begets creativity. Thank the artist for giving you the idea by purchasing their product. You will most likely never get around to making it anyway, and you're supporting small business. 

2) If "I can make that" is a slap, then "You can buy that at Walmart" is a punch to the gut. 
I'm going to park here for a while, so please bear with me. 
We have  become so materialistic, such a throw-away society, that we no longer value the skill that goes into making ANYTHING. Electronics, clothing, toys, furniture, you name it, we have traded quality for quantity. We are buying cr-p at mega-stores, and when it breaks in 2 weeks, we go buy the newest upgrade. Yes, you can buy something similar to what I make at just about any store, but mine are unique and made to last. I can guarantee the durability of what I make because I use test them out myself. What you get at the box store will be made with the cheapest materials possible, using the fastest assembly methods available, short-cuts taken everywhere, and is not made to last. Why? They want you to buy more from them, and we've been whipped into shape thinking that this is okay. 

Look at your clothes. The  thread is barely holding on to the seams because it's so thin (corner-cutting #1). The fabric used to make the garment is thin. Just a few times through the wash and it will pill, break, and tear. (corner-cutting #2). Finally, look at how the fabric lays when you are wearing it - to save money, factories will throw the pattern pieces on the fabric in such a way as to maximize the space on the bolt. I get that. BUT. They are sacrificing how the piece of clothing will actually fit. The drape (or bias) will be all wonky and skewed when you wear it, tugging every which way. (corner cutting #3). Fast fashion is just part of the picture I'm painting here. I could keep going, but you get my point.  

My final point on this - lately, I've been seeing a discouraging trend at craft stores: supplies are becoming cheaper in quality. 
Example #1: Go to Joann's with someone who has worked with fabric for a long while so they can guide you through this experience. Feel the fabric. Yes, feel it. Run you hand across the weave. Note the texture, the softness or stiffness, how it holds its shape. Now, go to a specialty fabric shop and feel their fabric. You can't stop touching the fabric, can you? Working with good materials makes all the difference on a project. Materials of that caliber are a dream to work with, and they cooperate with you if you know how they work. This is what it takes to make those masterpieces that you see at state fairs, on display, and at competitions. Those artists know how to speak the language of their media. Same goes for yarn, paper, paint, etc. 
Example #2: I have to check the selvages on the fabric now because they are saying that making a double-width fabric with fabric stiffener sloshed down the middle, and then cut in half is still a selvage. Is nothing safe from corner-cutting? No. A thousand times, NO. I would never use that to quilt, let alone make a garment. My straight line in a sea of fabric is gone. I can't ensure that things won't tug at seams wrong then break and fray or lay weird when you're wearing it. This is just part of the process that I have to do to make sure that what I'm selling you is the best I can offer. This doesn't even include measuring, securing, pinning, measuring again, etc. etc. etc. This is just part of the cost that you see on that price tag - it's because I care.  
I know face-to-face, human interaction for your shopping experience is becoming more and more scarce when it comes to knowing who made the product, but I'm there presenting my best effort, and you just verbally slapped me. What you're looking at when you glance at my booth is hours of dedication to a craft, investment in the supplies, and planning, scheduling, and carving out time to be there to offer what I have. 

This became quite the bee in my bonnet after this last weekend, so thank you for listening to my ranting.

Now that I'm done with shows for the season, I have to step-to and get Christmas sewing finished. I  have the supplies buried underneath all of the mess that I created getting ready for this last weekend. ;)
Until next time!