Thursday, May 31, 2012

June with Etsy: Maker-Faire and Creative Cash

       Hey everyone, after some juggling, I am posting up June's Etsy schedule. Remember this month is Maker-Faire! Yeah, exciting. We will also be kicking off the group's daily summer listing on Friday.

June 16th: Maker-Faire: NC

 Li Sashay and a number of other artists, crafters, designers, and DIYers will be meeting out at the State Fair grounds to celebrate the spirit of making. This event is put on by Jon Danforth and a really good crowd. We will be making socks and showing off some of our new designs this year. Can't wait to see you and everyone else out there.

June 26th: Creative Cash and E-textiles Part 2 from 7-9 pm

7-8 pm: Book Review: Creative Cash by Barbara Brabec

While there are many books dedicated to furthering the craft and improving your overall skill-level, there are roughly 3 books that are important for the business side of house. We will be having a 1 hr. book discussion on my favorite book that changed how I thought about running a sewing business and most effected my bottomline called Creative Cash. We will also be talking about local resources for artists and crafters in the area to run their business. Many people are unfamiliar with the free resources available to them simply by being in this field. Banks, lawyers, insurance, grants, SCORE, etc. If you can only attend 1 meeting this year, I would recommend this one.

It is recommended that you read the book before attending.

8-9 pm: E-textiles: Part 2

Follow-up to E-textiles: Part 1 last month, we will be sewing together various projects with lights and circuits as well as using our 3D printers to interact with fabric to make cool designs.You can see a really cool video here: Be inspired. Can't wait to see everyone there.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Whimsical British Hats

         This week we're having fun riffing on the classic British Barret and rediscovering my love of hats. I wore one the entire summer I was in France much to my fellow exchange students amusement.
          Hats are a lovely defining part of someone's wardrobe. Fun and flirty. Serious and mysterious. The fastest moving part of fashion, I'm glad that they are making a comeback since the British wedding last year. Hats add such personality to a wardrobe. I've been rereading about Chanel this week and how she got her start in France trimming hats for the ladies. Very inspiring. I hope you are finding something to inspire you and bring out your fightin' spirit.
           Check them out in our Etsy shop for different styles.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Yeah, we were featured on a blog!

Yeah! I am so excited to say that our shop was featured by the NC Triangle Street Team blog today! For those of you who are not familar with the team, it's the other major etsy team in the area and we have a lot of cross-over between the two groups. A great group overall and lots of fun to work with!

It's always nice to hear other people enjoy following us! Have a great day and check them out!

Win A Free Shop Apron at Roth this Sat!

           I am so excited to see Roth Brewing turn 2 years old this week! It's always great to see a friend doing well. You can attend their 2-year anniversary party this coming Saturday from 2 pm til dawn. I will be giving away one of our new shop aprons for their raffle. Great way to get a unique Father's Day gift made here locally.

           The facebook page is already up and running. Can't wait to see everyone come out and have a great time. Keep up the good work guys. I know you will do well. 

Monday, May 28, 2012

Recap: Animazement 2012

             Thanks everyone who came out to Animazement this weekend we raised over $600 for the Red Cross which was twice last year and had a really awesome time. For anyone that missed out, we plan to hold more classes next year. :-) I loved all the cool designs people made with different silk painting techniques. I am in the process of posting pictures to facebook now.
             Nash and I had a booth in the dealer's room which was AWESOME! Thanks so much everyone who came out and saw us. It was a first and you all made it special. We loved seeing you. Can't wait for next year. While Nash manned the booth, I got to do something rare for me which was kick back and relax going to different panels and guest speakers. It's so nice to see the enthusiasm for sewing at these events and the general fearlessness people approach the craft. A small time to stop and dork out.
             My two favorite speakers were of course different master category designers: Jennifer Barclay and Catherine Jones. Both people create costume and custom designs, but from very different perspectives. One thing I like about large events is how you get to see people from different walks of life. As a designer, there's an almost infinite possibility for creation and it's fun to see what other people create for themselves. Because people are interesting and unique. After teaching a lot of art and sewing classes, I've really come to believe that everyone has their own flavor or perspective worth hearing to bring to the table. Ironically, both these ladies are out of Atlanta, GA.
              First, Jennifer Barclay who runs the website Idle Ambition. She is a master class cosplayer who besides being quite beautiful, also enjoys the esoteric and rare. The more difficult the costume, the weirder the materials used, the better. This is probably fair as Jennifer works for a modern sleek ad agency called Moxie Pulse. Both of them like unconventional answers. You can tool around the company site if you like. My favorite is the blog which crunches great every day information and spits it out. Very cutting edge, very interesting, very trend following. Her Saturday panel I attended was called "Costumes from Start to Finish" where she reviewed a beautiful Tali costume she had done from Mass Effects. It was pretty educational in terms of looking at flawlessly matching the appearance on paper to a final product. I tend to worry about the guts first and the outside last so it's good to meet designers who remind us to work in the opposite direction. Cosplay is also disposable fashion so there's not the expectations that it will last 20-60 years of my typical customer. I look forward to seeing what else she creates and maybe attending more of her panels in the future. She had this really great piping down the front of her costume that I was tempted to go up and touch to see how she did it as it looked so clean, but I refrained myself admirably. I love touching fabric and clothing to see how it's constructed and always have to do a quick reminder not to offend the person wearing their fabulous creation. Overall, very clean designs, very interesting product, wonderful talk.
Human Form Luna            My other favorite speaker was Catherine Jones who runs a small custom cosplay shop called God Save The Queen Fashion in Atlanta, Georgia. She's a fearless patternmaker who I loved seeing her process and talked both about patternmaking in general and specifically leather making. Favorite speaker overall because we all know I'm a sucker for patternmakers. The piece work on her jacket construction was FLAWLESS in LEATHER. Talk about glutton for punishment. A lot of the basic building blocks of pattern drafting are the same, each designer adds their own flavor to the mix. She did some great math on the fly in both panels I attended which was very respectable. There was incredible substance to Catherine's designs and pattern construction. I've seen masters with 20 years experience in the industry who have sloppier lines and less attention to detail than she did. Very detail oriented. In the good way. I think she's late 20s, early 30s so I look forward to seeing her evolve and grow into her style now. I'll reserve the whole "master" title for when she's 20 years in, not because I think most people wouldn't give it to her, but because I look forward to seeing how high she'll fly. The great thing about designers is they get better with age. She's made so many costumes, I had a hard time figuring out how to show off her talents so I'm linking you to her flickr. The best part about all her stuff is how much better it looks in person and she takes unusual body types. Both irregular and plus-sized. In an industry that ignores 3/4 of it's population for being irregular, her perspective was a breath of fresh air. I look forward to seeing what else she creates. What lovely, lovely pieces of art and women.
              Thank you ladies! And to everyone who came out and supported us! Thank you too! Have a great Memorial Weekend!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Textile Friday: Draping, Japanese Origami in Fabric

               For those who have known me for years, you know I've loved folding origami since childhood. I've sent out Christmas postcards of stars and am fascinated with how it's possible to take something very simple starting out and create something complex. Considering I'm at Animazement this week, I thought I would celebrate my first love of draping, Japanese folding. Some of you may be familar with the TED talk a few years ago by Robert Lang on how he uses computers to model complex shapes to create in paper.
                 As a kid, I thought paper was awesome. As an adult, I've come to see that everything that one can do in paper, on can do with infinite variety in fabric. It creates a marriage of sorts for me between the two, my childhood love and my adult one. You see origami based construction more in societies that drape which means it is more common in Asian culture and French. It is also more common in couture design as many of the fabric manipulation techniques have not been forgotten or are considered worth the expense to do right.
                   Most designers learn some variation of this in school which is actually called "adjusting for fit without darts", "hidden ease", or a myriad of different ways of saying folding the fabric. My favorite "draper" to stalk right now is Shingo Sato who runs the TR Cutting School in Milan. You can see them make lots of different projects on youtube and I love watching the weekly project they post. Draping takes a lot longer than flat-pattern so it's not used as much any more, but for this week with Animazement, I thought it would be worth it to share a little of my joy with you. Draping is what I do in my spare time to work on my game and increase my handskills for complex projects.
                 Have a great week and good luck seeing you at the show.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Review from Woodworking Night at Todd's Studio

            Thanks everyone who came out last night to make birdhouses, spinning tops, and generally have fun in Todd's woodshop learning to turn. It was most exciting. I had a great time making my first spinning top and never knew woodworking could be that fun. No one in the group had ever turned before so it was exciting to see people mastering the basics. It was also very humbling to see a master at work. Todd does some incredible one-off projects and unique pieces of beauty.
             It's really wonderful that his shop is so close to ours and I know a number of people are excited to head back in a few days. My head is still spinning, literally from all I learned last night. Some of the cooler things I learned was about aging and seasoning word for years to dry it out and how most wood is turned in stages to prevent it from cracking. Most pieces you see are actually what is called "twice turned" where it is turned in a rough form, allowed to dry for a year or two, and then turned again gently to bring out the inner beauty. While you can turn objects on a lathe very quickly, the actual process of making wooden pieces of art takes years beginning from the selection, cutting, and drying process.
             I'm definitely looking forward to going back and trying my hand at doing more pieces. While it seems abitious, I would like to try making a wooden bowl in the future. Hopefully some of the other group members will get to have fun hanging out with Todd this summer too. Have a great day everyone and look forward to seeing you at the next Etsy Tuesday night meeting in a few weeks.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

A Week Celebrating Japanese Culture

     Wow, can not believe we are a week out from Animazement! So exciting! I will be guest speaking Friday and Saturday in the Artist Section from 1 to 3 pm on making plushie animals and handpainting silk to raise money for the Red Cross. You are welcome to come drop by.  We look forward to seeing you. It's been a wild few weeks getting ready for this complete with a custom silk kimono catching on fire. You can also find us in the dealer's room. Nash, Dejah, Paul, and myself will all be there. Can't wait to show you what we've been dreaming up this coming week.
May 25th

Plushie Animal Workshop (1 pm)- Come make a handmade one-of-a-kind plushie animal. We will be making zombie mice, you can also make a fox, teddy bear, and other creations as well.  No sewing skills necessary. Learn how to make great gifts for someone you love in your life. Recommended donation is $10 per kit. You can also purchase them at the desk. 100% of the proceeds go directly to charity.
Japanese Silk Painting (2pm)- Come learn traditional handmade silk painting as well as a new favorite stone block printing. We will have white silk handkerchiefs on hand for people to practice with a variety of tools. A lot of fun and a great way to make fast and easy custom looks. Recommended donation is $10 per kit. 100% of the proceeds go directly to charity.

May 26th

Plushie Animal Workshop (1 pm)- Come make a handmade one-of-a-kind plushie animal. We will be making zombie mice, you can also make a fox, teddy bear, and other creations as well.  No sewing skills necessary. Learn how to make great gifts for someone you love in your life. Recommended donation is $10 per kit. You can also purchase them at the desk. 100% of the proceeds go directly to charity.
Japanese Silk Painting (2pm)- Come learn traditional handmade silk painting as well as a new favorite stone block printing. We will have white silk handkerchiefs on hand for people to practice with a variety of tools. A lot of fun and a great way to make fast and easy custom looks. Recommended donation is $10 per kit. 100% of the proceeds go directly to charity.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Adding Standard Pricing to Our Website

            For those of you who don't know, we've been going through some growing pains the past few months which have forced us to grow-up in many ways. Nash is officially taking over sales so I have more time to sew. To that end, we have simplified the process for normal alterations, custom sewing, and prototyping on our website so clients can figure out how much things cost before coming to us and have an idea if we're in their budget or not.  I hope that this helps everyone.

The 4 major links are:

Women's Alterations
Men's Alterations
Women's Custom Sewing
Men's Tailoring

              We will still continue to do rapid prototyping for customers which will come with a non-refundable $50/hr. charge for sewing time plus materials. If you have inquiries about a custom job or want to do contract sewing, please contact Nash at: He normally responds within 24 hrs.

              Have a great day everyone.

Textile Friday: TS Designs, Cotton T-shirts Done Right

      Cotton is coming back to North Carolina, some would argue it never left, but since the 1970s Texas and the PCCA produces 40-60% of the worlds cotton supply by some estimates. North Carolina is a little guy by any estimation even though we sew a lot of fabric. Several of my fellow designers and suppliers have decided to change this on putting their money and livelihoods literally where their mouth is to shorten the supply route. These are generally my suppliers, and the people I try to support as I also feel the same way.
      My current favorite, and the one I am sharing with you today is TS Designs who produces small carbon footprint organically made cotton t-shirts here in my home state of North Carolina. You can watch their Youtube talk here. In a world where the average t-shirt or clothing article made today travels over 17,000 miles from start to finish, theirs is less than 750 miles, 800 when it hits my doorstep. That's from field to shirt.
      These shirts are real, excellent quality, and you can order a shirt for $18-24 printed off their website. They also do wholesale orders if you are interested in doing short runs, their smallest order size is generally 72, though they have a great sample program if you would like your t-shirts to come to you printed. They are one of my favorite suggestions for designers in the area trying to make a difference in a real tangible way.
      If you are a business that uses t-shirts such as ours, this is a great way to go. I finally bit the bullet this year at looking toward using these guys for our own work shirts, mostly because since leaving the retail field, I've come to realize home many people in the blue-collar trades survive on t-shirts. Especially us. Wearing a designer suit to work is asking for trouble. So we're putting our money where our mouth is and buying business t-shirts we believe in from TS designs. They will probably be a boring navy blue since that's my favorite color, but hey...I know where they come from and at heart I'm pretty boring in preferring the classics. Hopefully, you will get to see more of this awesome company in the future. I think that they have a great future ahead of them. And if you need some t-shirts for an event, business, or just fun...give these guys a call.
     I hope that you enjoy getting to see some of our local people in the area making a difference one day at a time. Sometimes I think there's a perception that textiles have vanished from the State when really, they just reinvented themselves.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Father's Day Shop Apron: Extra Big Sizes

Well, it's official...something fun for Father's Day. Nash and I designed over-sized Father's day shop aprons for big and tall men this spring. They're reversible with pockets both on the outside and inside so you can protect your stuff or use as need be. To clean simply wipe down with a towel or wet paper towel. Made of pleather so it's lighter than your typical apron. A great way to celebrate the hard working man in your life.

Check-it out in our Etsy shop this week. It's $40 with free shipping anywhere in the US. Have a great day and happy trails.

For those of you who are curious, we posted a bunch of photos of me sewing the apron together today on facebook. Yes, we do actual physical work in our shop. That always seems to surprise people.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Textile Friday: Marks of Good Designers

            My building is full of designers, artists, and craftsmen. It's pretty interesting to watch in terms of giving me some insight into both human nature and what makes good and bad designers. While we all could tell horror stories, I thought I would focus on the positive. In general, when I first got started, I saw good designers as gods who were almost breathing inspiration from the air around them. I mean I grew up on the clothing designer legend. The Ralph Laurens. The larger than life Donna Karen. You name it.
            Now, I've come to believe that the mark of a good designer is actually how willing they are to do research. In the industry this is actually broken down into two distinct separate types of design. Rapid prototyping (throw away for looks only design) and evolutionary design which often is slower to market and involves a lot more testing. When clients skip on paying the bills they end up with rapid prototyping instead of evolutionary and generally a 99% probability of failing at market. Harsh, but true. This is why frankly I find Isaac Mizrahi to be a poor designer compared to say Michael Kors even though they're the same age. Mizrahi is constantly redesigning his customer (few women can actually wear his clothes, let alone the same woman from season to season) while Michael Kors is very into the classics, research, and making men and women look beautiful. He knows and serves his client.
            Which brings me to my second point, good designers make product for clients that serves a specific market or need. It may be whimsical or odd, but something that fills a gap will sell better than a random coffee idea. They don't float long and it is a focus I am working to build in myself.
             Lastly, is that designers actually do the work to make their products successful.  Many designers have rich spouses or do not rely on design work for their main income so they are less hungry. They show up sporadically or don't put in the work necessary to turn designs. If you want a good designer, a really good designer, ask them who pays the light bill. The answer will tell you honestly how hungry the person is to learn to make a worthwhile product for you or to stick it out if things get tough. Sadly, after 3 years, these would be the 3 things I look for when talking to designers in terms of figuring out if I should or should not partner with them. What is your list?
             Custom design has made designers accessible to the mainstream in a way they weren't before.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Anime Ears: Let Your Wild Out

     To celebrate Animazement this year, we have partnered with a local electronics expert to produce fun moving ears for your cosplay needs. Best of all, we made several improvements including the fact that ears are interchangeable so you can be 10 different characters as necessary. A sexy fox one day and a daring wolf the next. The base form with black ears is $60 with free shipping. You can order additional ears sets for $10 each.
    You can also pick up your ears at con if you are worried about them arriving to your house in time. Each set is handmade and individually crafted here in our studio in Raleigh.You can watch Kelly playing with her new black cat set on left. We have more videos on youtube. We also have dog ears up. Pretty cool day in my book.

Overdue Membership Reminder

             Hi everyone, we are sending our mass links to this page today for members to pay dues who are overdue at this point. We realize a number of people have paid, but many have not. Please pay by clicking on the Paypal link below.

             Please note, you may need to upgrade your web browser to use this link.

2012 Membership

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Spring Arts and Crafts Show

       Man, last night was a lot of fun. It was great to see the gang out and about. Raleigh is such a fun creative place to live. Thanks everyone who came out and look forward to seeing you at the holiday show at the Visual Art Exchange.

        We are collecting photos and posting them on facebook. Until then, have a great day.

Update: Melanie posted some amazing pictures on shutterfly if you want to go look! Yum.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Our Etsy Shop Just Got An Upgrade: Free Shipping

                  I am pleased to announce that our Etsy shop just got a huge upgrade over the weekend. We now ship free everywhere in the US, exciting no? So pick up any last minute Mother's Day gifts you need today for the weekend.

                  All orders this week come gift-wrapped. Perfect for a last minute score with the family.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Pearls of Wisdom Summer Collection

      New seasons are presents to be unwrapped. This season we're growing up and closing in on year 3 for the shop. Wow, who would have believed so many changes in such a short time? It's exciting and challenging at the same time. Traditionally, the third year is the hardest for a designer or label to weather in terms of growing to the next level without flaming and burning out. Nash and I have struggled to define ourselves and clean up the brand this season with an eye towards the classics.
       We've decided to focus this summer on clothing and jewelry we feel adds actual value to our customers lives. Nash is putting his love of history, art, and quotes to work designing inspired jewelry and I'm delving into old textile design books. I was gifted a wonderful collection of draping and flat pattern books 2 weeks ago for my birthday and it is probably hands down the best gift I have been given besides my sewing machines. Tools are awesome. So is the wisdom and knowledge to use them. No book will make you an expert, but they will help the learning curve.
      While I can sketch patterns quickly, I've begun to see that there's a 1/2-4 inch difference between what is available off the shelf and what a master would create for themselves or their clients. Since my long-term goal is to create custom clothing for my clients at ready-to-wear costs, it's time for me to hit the books. I hope that you and I both benefit from the extra work. BTW, these are old 1950s books, there's shinier, newer stuff on the market, but I'm investing in the classics this season and that means rereading the old masters to get a better grounding in design theory.
      See everyone who is coming Tuesday for the spring arts and craft show. We will be partnering with Techshop RDU to introduce this. Should be a lot of fun. The buildings are right beside each other:

The Studio
5825 Triangle Drive
Raleigh, NC 27617

5905 Triangle Drive
Raleigh, NC 27617

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Sweet Matching Earrings

    Nash had so much fun making necklaces inspired japanese samuri clans that he went back and designed matching earrings. Pretty cool for mother's day.

    It's official between watching the Avengers Thursday night and catching up on late night projects. Have a great weekend. Looking forward to mother's day this coming week.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Textile Friday: Feltronics

                  This past week was a fun new fair to me, Burlington Maker Faire. This comes before the big Maker Faire: North Carolina in a few months which we will be showing in. There was a lot stuff I loved in this nerdy adult science faire,  but my favorite was Feltronics which featured circuit boards made of felt and soldiered electronics which comes out of the Charlotte Hackerspace. This project won the Make magazine's hackerspace challenge this past year and features cool soft components that can be combined to teach elementary kids how to design circuits.
                   Can we say yum, yum yum? eTextiles is so much fun in my book and it's such a wide wild wild west at the moment that I'm enjoying seeing it evolve. Plus, there's something fun about seeing another local group come up with a cool idea and win awards from it. It's fun to route for the home team. If you want to make your own kit, you can check out their website. In general, they say that cost to make your own should run you under $100, mostly the arduino being the largest cost. Felt is pretty easy to cut out on a laser so I think that you can either do this by cutting out the templates and then gluing them together or you can also do this by hand. Needless to say, one of the better applications of felt I've seen in making a difference that actually makes sense to me.
                    I'm really looking forward to seeing what people bring this year to Maker Faire: North Carolina. Thanks everyone for a great time this past weekend. What a joy.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Escape for a Day to Ancient Japan

      This week Nash and I are escaping the weekly grind having fun rediscovering ancient Japanese culture. Something I find fascinating. There's something so beautifully simple and complicated contrast when studying their textiles. They do some of the most ornate embroidery anywhere, but on the other hand have geometric family crests.

          This inspired Nash to put on his jewelry designer hat and create a few limited edition leather pieces inspired by the ancient ruling houses of feudal Japan. Mostly because I think he likes weapons, samuri warriors, and leather. I love how simple and clean the pieces turned out once they were embossed, cut, and hammered to reveal their final luster. A way to wear your inner warrior on the outside.

         You can pair them with simple clean flowing lines of a classic wrap dress, jeans and t-shirt, or comfortable pants.

           Check out the online store to pick your own or give as a gift this season. Ships free anywhere in the USA.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Review Splat Space Guest Lecture on eTextiles

         Thanks everyone who came out to Splat Space last night for the guest lecture on eTextiles, it was a lot of fun to see new and old faces. It's always nice to see another Hackerspace get successfully off the ground. We had fun sewing Zombie Mouses and going over the future of eTextiles. Given how much data we had to cover, we split the class in two and will do the remaining portion May 31st. We had 1 group member who had to leave sick so I summarize that there are 4 major responses to the Lilypad that the technology sector seems to be embracing. This is an upgraded talk from last year that just focused on the Lilypad, mostly because it is not being adopted by the industry as a whole. What is being adopted is as follows:

1) Aniomagic- smaller easier to use Arduino cousin produced by a US firm. The toy right is an example of 1 of their kits.

2) Fibertronics- Geared more for the film and studio industry. These are better lights than the traditional wheat blinking lights. They have a fairly extensive online website if you want to drool a little go wander over there. You can also do a google search for fibertronics to see some wicked cool stuff.

3) Photovoltaic Cells- Built in battery recharging abilities, aka recharging purses. They're thin, flexible, and fairly easy to use. Portable energy is making a splash this year.

4) E ink- Printed screen Fabric that uses the same techology as your kindle or knook is now making it's way into clothing that changes on the go. You can see a cool example of this on the right. Think of a kindle (which is printed on paper, but for your entire wardrobe). It is primarily in gray-scale right now and the resolution is lower than a kindle, but as you can see from the jack on right, there are vast improvements being made by this company every year.

Can't wait to see what the industry comes up with next. It's always cool to see how much smarter our clothing is getting. Can't wait to see everyone for the next part the end of the month.