Monday, June 17, 2013

Where I have been

MrC and I have been away for a Friday night-Monday afternoon looong weekend. Our first break in over a year. Our first more-than-one-day-off-in-a-row in 18 months. It was FANTASTIC!!
We stayed in a straw bale house, and I am now adding this style of architecture and construction to my homelust list.

 Living room - get a load of those curvy, organic walls.

  The entrance to each bedroom was through the curved space, so cool.

  VERY comfortable bed.

 Outdoor shot.

Instant flames. I missed the process of lighting and maintaining a real fire, but this was a lot less effort.

This bath was so comfortable, I spent a significant percentage of the weekend in it with my Kindle reading historic romances by Loretta Chase. Guiltless pleasures.
As well as lounging around reading and soaking and enjoying the fire, we went winery-ing. I love winery-ing - visiting micro wineries and talking to the wine makers who are so passionate about their wares. I love hanging out with anyone who is passionate about what they make, and when what they make tastes delicious, it's even better.
Naturally, we discussed our business a lot, and came up with a new initiative that may (or may not) come to life in the next couple of months. With everything else to do it is a big commitment, but like most things in life, it is a natural progression.
Martinborough, where we went, is a small township laid out like the Union Jack, with a huge square in the centre. It used to be dairy country, but about 30 years ago, people started planting grapes and now it is famous for its wineries, and subsequently, for gorgeous shops, cafes and events. It manages to cater to great hoards of incoming weekenders while still feeling very much like a cohesive community, and that is what draws us back over and again.
And so, I am back to reality, shaping my next post about fitting, and looking into the logistics of our new idea. I have summoned a focus group, have already started testing samples with members of the top demographic and feel reenergised!!
Watch out! xo

Saturday, June 8, 2013

A Fitting Lecture Part 1

It's been a week since my first lecture at HandMade, and I've finally caught up with all the work that got behind the week before (mammoth haberdashery order placed today, it read like a telephone book!) so I can start putting some posts together.
It turns out, one can communicate an impressive amount of information in an hour. I was really surprised. I thought I would run out of time, especially as I tend to go off on tangents, but it was all fine.

So, here is a rundown on the first part.

 Normal vs Average

Almost noone fits patterns out of the envelope. If you do, I am genuinely thrilled for you. But it is rare. When I run an average on the daily take divided by the number of sales, the figure I get is rarely the same as a single individual sale. It's the same for patterns. They try to be average. This is NOT the same as normal. Normal implies that if you don't fit the pattern, you are not normal. But, it just means that you are not average. That has to be a good thing, surely!?!
So, your rounded shoulders or sway back or long waist are normal, because normal people have these things; or some combination of the many figure variations comprising a human body.
Are you with me so far? Good. So, step one - STOP JUDGING YOUR BODY. Because, while you are beating up on your big bust or curvy thighs or narrow shoulders, you are unable to learn anything useful about how to dress them. FACT.
Get to know the body you have, the way it is and the way it isn't. You don't have to love it or loathe it, just accept it and learn it and you will be just fine. And if it changes, learn the changes.
So, that establishes Fitting Ground Zero for me.

Zen and the limitations of language

Language is an interesting thing. I learned to fit by drawing on my dolls when I was a child, learning how the sections I made could be rendered in fabric. Eventually I started experimenting with my own clothes, and by 15 I had extended this to costumes. Noone ever asked what I was doing or how or why so I never needed any words. Until about four years ago, I was never called on to explain much at all about what I was doing. Then I discovered sewing blogs, and a world where people talked about and wrote about sewing. Wow, all these new terms! FBA, SBA, so many adjustment terms for patterns I had never heard of. Yes, I knew how to cut a muslin or tweak a pattern to fit a woman with minimal measurements, but I couldn't explain how or why I knew it. I've been working to wrap words around what I do, and the lecture was a part of that journey, but even now I often resort to those 'technical terms' like " thingamewhatsit" all too often!

After a time feeling like a fool for not knowing even the simplest terms, it dawned on me that what I knew was more than valid. On Project Runway, the designers applied tape to their dressforms like I drew on my dolls, to understand how the construction lines are rendered into fabric pieces. I was a draper, and I didn't even know it. But having said that, there is a bunch of technical stuff around draping that I may or may not know, but what I do know is I know quite enough to more than get by, and so can you.
I want you to forget everything you have learned from tutorials about doing FBAs or any other technical pattern adjustment, and roll with me for a bit. Because, a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing, and my observation of pattern adjustments such as FBAs is that they can fry your brain, cause excessive chocolate consumption, and there is no substitute for learning by getting hands on with your good self.

source Just how long do you think a Shaolin monk spends on the internet trying to learn how to do that stuff?

I know, you're thinking, well MrsC as you call yourself, that's all very well for you to say with your doll drawing and 35 years mucking about with fitting, but I am just trying to find out what to do, all right? And would you pleas stop ranting and putting up random pictures you googled and get to the freaking point???
To which I say, because I can, that I am going to leave you in suspense until the next post. Partly because I have drunk a glass of wine and it may all go Bad, partly because MrC watching the France/NZ rugby test in the same room is causing me to want to go to bed (sorry, I loathe televised sport, it makes as much sense to me as porn - i.e. doing it yourself is one thing, but watching other people do it is just weird) but mostly because my presentation is in my office and I need it to get to the actual point.
So, until tomorrow when I will return with, hopefully, some actual content! MWAH MWAH!
Best  MWAH MWAH pic of me ever!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Warm fingers!

Brr it's getting parky down under. My poor hands, or puddies as MrC calls them, have been really feeling the cold. And so my mind has gone to class ideas for making warm mittens. Because that's how I think of things to make and teach!
I decided to go for a lined merino approach, and after faffing around thinking of complex ways to add the thumb in, I just decided to try it flat, like this:
Folded in half, this is the lining. I have big hands and wrists so these would probably swim on someone else! But, I am happy with the basic pattern, as it is easy to draft from the measurements of lower arm, wrist and palm.
I wanted to use the class as an intro to machine embellishment. So, I got stuck in doing a flower, because I love flowers.
These took forever!
A rather pretty but boring little flower. It took FOREVER. I did the outline with perle thread in the bobbin, sewing from the back, but the amount of work it took doesn't give a payoff at all. The in fill is rayon thread, which I like a lot more. I shall have to rethink this in terms of the techniques we will do as adjusting the bobbin tension every time we go from heavy to normal bobbin threads for a whole class of students makes me shudder.
I backed my fabric with a fab knit interfacing, but of course it was stretchy so in this case, not so fab. It worked out OK but not for beginners. I had the stitching area in a 5"/125mm embroidery hoop (working on the opposite side than with hand embroidery) to keep it taut, which helped, but would work much better with a more stable interfacing.
So, after all that, I nearly created mitten moebii trying to bag in the thumb end as well as the top and bottom, and in the end I only bagged in the top edge, zigzagged the thumb edges together, and added a band at the bottom. By now I realised these were not going to be my class sample so they only had to suit me.
And here they are. The flowers needed to be a little further around, but otherwise they are nice and warm, and keep my fingers free. The tops I can fold down or leave up, depending on how much I need my fingers.
So, 5 hours on, this is all I got done. Admittedly I got interrupted a lot, but all in all I need to find a simpler way.
I think we'll go with one layer of boiled wool instead!