Friday, December 28, 2012

Textile Friday: Focusing the Naval Gazing

               This past year, I've done a series of Friday topics that interested me. Favorite designers, companies I liked, how-to-guides, places to source fabric and trim, my grandfather's advice to me, and anything else that wandered across my navel. This coming year, I would like to focus on a practical topic: taking care of your clothing.
               As someone whose learned the hard way, the average customer today (myself included) just getting out of college or venturing into the better brand market simply is generally not equipped with the knowledge to make their clothes last and get the wear out of them they deserve. Most of us throw away 90% of the life of our clothes not because we hate the color or they don't look great on us, but simple things like the wrong laundry detergent or sewing on a button. That was fine when I was in college and my entire clothing including my shoes was worth maybe $100-200 (Did I mention that I was into grunge in college? My grandfather lived in horror of my ripped jeans and politically incorrect t-shirts.). It was devastating when I got out in the professional world and suddenly I was expected to know how to put myself together. And judged for not doing so. Then I finally sucked up the money to buy great designer brands only to ruin them in the space of a season. The worst was this yummy Theory suit and shirt that just hugged my butt like a glove.
                Actually, it got ruined sewing on a machine. I dropped machine oil on the pant leg. My lovely suits weren't made to stand up to the rigors of actual work. And then I met Nash who is like a walking disaster for everything I owned. Between that, sewing, and 20 lbs since we started dating, I struggle all the time to figure out how to make my tastes match my wardrobe. If you have lovely clothes and never struggle to mend buttons, get out weird stains, fix odd tears, or what to do with a few extra pounds, good for you. If you're like me and these are regular things you encounter, then I hope you enjoy this coming year as I offer up the wisdom of how to juggle your clothes with an active lifestyle. A year of idealism meets reality.
                So next Friday, let's get started on an adventure.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

New Year's Resolution: Finished My Spring Look Board

                Ha, finished my look board for the spring collection. This was an incredibly hard thing to do as I'm still getting used to correct croquis and flats, but need to get better at clearly communicating my ideas without shipping physical samples. It's somewhat funny to me that from an industry prospective, people are always MUCH more interested in my sewing/construction abilities than drawing. People outside the industry, it seems to reverse itself.
                There's 8 looks, 21 pieces, and 7 accessories to make. A number of the accessories have already been made so I'll start posting them to Etsy in case you see something that catches your eye. Everything (EVEN THE THREAD) is recycled from the factory floors of North Carolina and reuse centers I've gotten in the past year. Something which makes me feel good knowing how much is just thrown out in the industry. I hope it appeals to you too. The chance to turn them into one-of-a-kind creations and save the environment a little at the same time.
                 I've decided to do one look every two weeks for spring which means I'll get done either late March or early April depending on how things work out. Hopefully this will be fun for all of us, though I'm nervous about the corsets of which I've included 2 (a full-corset and an under-corset) as that's the only thing I feel is pretty ambitious. I do have an ace-in-the-hole there as my girl friend Heather is a corset maker so if push comes to shove I will end up begging her for help.
          So here's the first look, sketches are pitiful compared to the real thing. Let's breath some life into her why don't we?  Ready for a little adventure?

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

New How To Make A STRONG dog leash

       I'm been thinking about this for awhile now, and finally got around to posting a new how-to-make-an-ultra-strong-dog- leash on Instructables. This is for a basic dog leash kit you can buy from Tandy's leather and assemble quickly for under $20 (mine was $8 on sale, I think it's $19.95 full price). The thing is practically indestructible which is a first for the husky. You can see Chino modeling his leash with pride. And no, he hasn't been able to break the sucker. I generally avoid kits like the plague in favor of either moding my own or buying out right as kits always seem to eat up hours of time because of missing parts, bad instructions, or end up costing me twice as much as I originally planned due to "forgetting" small parts requiring a second trip to the store or extra parts. Sewing patterns are the worst for this.
          This kit surprisingly had none of those problems. It was clearly marked, easy to assemble in a few minutes, and probably took 20-30 minutes of actual work to put together though I took the weekend to make it as I let it dry between coats. If you have a dog and want to make a great leash for him, I suggest using this leather kit process to make a one of a kind holiday gift for him. You can also paint or carve the leash to your heart's content, but I stuck to the basics. Now you too can make one for friends or family and look cool in the process with a handmade gift that didn't take hours to assemble. Happy holidays, I hope you are also having a nice holiday weekend.

PS- That's my dad modeling the leash in the first picture. Wow, that was a nice day.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Why stand back up? Hope.

              "Fall down seven times, get up eight." ~Japanese Zen Proverb (Also most major religions)

              "Man can live about forty days without food, about three days without water, about eight minutes without air, but only for one second without hope."  ~Annonymous
              I've been thinking a lot about adversity and what is the difference between what breaks one person and builds another up. We've been through a tough couple of years as a nation. And while I initially thought I would have a host of depressing stories from my friends and family (and yes, I got some of those at first), what I didn't expect what all the stories of hope I heard of what happened after.  People who found in themselves and those around them an inner strength they never imagined. 
             The word that keeps coming up in the stories they tell is "Hope." 
             I like that, and 3 years after the Great Recession as we stand back up, I think it's what I want to give to those I know this spring. The always darkest before the dawn gift. The idea that you can stand back up, dust yourself off, and find opportunities around the corner. So for spring and everyone having a great year, a little piece of hope for you.

PS- I saw this lecture on TED about actually helping people involves listening to them and actually doing what they ask. I think this is a great speech about the difference between pretending to act and actually making a difference.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Textile Friday:What stories would you like to tell?

     Next week is Christmas and it's got me thinking about where I want the blog and myself as a whole to go. Nash and I have 4 days off together, the sheer luxury of getting to spend a couple days with my favorite person in the whole world is my definition of holiday priceless. It is also something that doesn't involve a lot of money or a fancy ____ (insert expensive toy here).
      Makes one really think about Christmas and the holidays in general if my favorite gift of the season isn't something you can buy. I keep circling back around to the why's lately instead of the how's. Everyone always asks how you make x or y. How did you come up with the idea? How did you line this bag? How does this shirt wash? How long will it hold up? How can I wear it? You name it.
      Me? That's not the interesting part. I already know the answer to all those is: It's the work of MY hands. A lot of work. And hopefully, if I do my job right, those questions will be answered as a matter of course, if's my job to cover the hows effortlessly so you never think about them. What really interests me is WHY.
      Why is this piece important? Why is it worth making? Why is it beautiful? Why does it inspire me? Why does inspire you? Why does it work for you? Why did you need it? Why are you here? On this blog? In this town? On this street? In today? The why questions are the hardest I think to answer. Partially because we're taught not to answer them. And partially because why often asks more questions than it answers.
       That might be art in general. And beautiful pieces especially.
       They tell us stories I think.
       Like the hauntingTracy Chapmen song.
       And for me at least, for spring, I feel that the question is a worth answering. And being Irish, I find it easier to answer hard questions with stories than pat answers. Because little in my life has had pat answers. So for you too, one great question! And today, may you stop with 2 year-old wonder and ask why.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Finishing Up The Year: Free Sewing Machine

               Alright everyone, finishing up the year's paper work. I know there's another two weeks til Christmas or two and a half months til the next season change in February, but we already almost sold out of Beloved. It's been so nice to see people enjoy something personal for us that came out of our love and wedding this past fall. Thank you everyone, when you give a piece of your soul to others, you never know how it will be treated. This week, I'm giving away my home sewing machine as I got an early Christmas present from Nash of a vintage Nelco. I'll be using it next year to do some posts on realistic home sewing repairs. The machine up for grabs is an old Commodore de Luxe sewing machine in working order which does straight and zig-zag stitches in a traveling case. This is a high shank model. It does normal, silk, and embroidery stitches. It comes with thread, box of attachments, and spare bobbins. This is a great starter machine for someone looking to pick-up home sewing.

Attachments Include:

buttonhole foot
quilting guide
hemming foot (1/4")

              If you're local in the area and interested, just e-mail Nash at: You can pick it up any time. Hope this helps someone. Have a great week!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Thanks Everyone For A Great Show!

        Wow, I love our new location at the Visual Art Exchange for the holiday craft show. Lots of fun all around and I am making a mental note to bring some more cash on me for next time so I can buy holiday gifts for people. Especially this monkey cup warmer! Too cute! May you have a lovely holiday week too!

Friday, December 7, 2012

This Little Pigment

                    I love artists who combine different mediums. Andie mixes hard metals with delicate watercolor pendents to create mini works of art. It's a lovely Victorian heirloom craft back when sweethearts would make mementos of each other to hold close to their heart. Andie takes a modern twist on this beloved art and reinvents it for today. Acorns, fish, beloved pets, and whimsical craft.
                     Since I love dogs, I pulled this pendent out of her shop. I invite you to look through her shop and find something you like or commission your own Objet D'Art. Have wonderful day and see you at the show tomorrow!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Stick Staff Cane

                 To work with wood, you need a good sense of humor and patience. It splits, fractures, and twists in all kinds of directions. You can either fight the wood, or learn to work with it. Woodworking forces a type of inner character polishing that I love in Nash. He's gets a sense of inner assurity and peace when he pulls something out of the grain. Al is the same way. He's a quiet man with a cane who you talk to and feel relaxed chatting with. It is only later, as you see what he creates spill across his table that you realize what wealth his inner mind is. Every time I meet him, he's dreamed up something new. Last year it was dragon canes and whistles. Then mustaches. Now, it's custom Santa whistles.
                 If you love wood or one of a kind crafts, check out this traditional art at his booth on Sat. I'm sure you'll be delighted. 


          I love conversations that begin with, "I sell on Etsy to feed my craft addition." Katie makes a lot of great arts and crafts. Every time you drop in her shop, you see something cute, you just didn't know you needed it yet. Take this to die for monkey kozie, perfect for keeping your beverage warm with a smile.
          You know you need it!
          We can all thank her mom for introducing her to photography in high school. To many more new creations and a great day! You can check out her shop here.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Harvaitt Design

                   Modern art is the basis of almost all fabric prints produced today. The idea is to inspire instead of slavishly copy an original. It's a concept that is addicting to find beauty in the everyday. Harvait Designs is well-known in the area as a geometric artist and interior designer who loves cityscape skylines and quirky animal paintings. Christine paints bold acrylic colors across the canvas. My current favorite piece of hers is the cheerful squirrel on right. Because I love squirrels and yellow, but it's likely it says something else to you. Modern art speaks to all of us in so many different ways and times.
                    It is gift you can look at a hundred or thousand ways and see something different each time. I like that. So I encourage you to look through her shop and blog if you want a little serene in your day. May you see something new each time you visit her.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Li Sashay

                  Hey everyone, welcome back from the weekend. Today we were supposed to tell you all about Li Sashay, but really it's pretty simple for us. Li Sashay is a labor of love for both of us. It exists because we love making women beautiful in their lives with the work of our hands. I could spend all day telling you the hows and the whys, but instead I'm going to go eat dinner with my husband. If you are a woman, may you hear that you are loved today. And if you are a man, please go tell a woman in your life how wonderful she is and how much you love her.