Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Shop Joy

                  Lately, I've really been failing in the taking pictures, writing, and general posting stuff I'm making part to the blog. In the midst of all the overwork, I got this great e-mail from a friend about teaching their son, Nick to sew costumes two weeks ago after he dropped by Raleigh Little Theater to hang out for a night. We went over the basics at Raleigh Little Theater on selecting and making custom costumes then an hour later, it was handshake time and out the door. They have some great home sewing machines which I do not personally own which are easier for the average sewer to pick up. Thanks Jen!
                Today I got photos. It really could not have been more welcome. So many times, I second-guess myself as an introvert if I am having my intended impact on students or those around me. Today was a nice reminder that sometimes an hour here or there is helpful for those around us to follow our dreams. I don't know that I'm ready to back to teaching anytime in the future or carving out time for personal project, but here ya go. When was the last time you underestimated the importance of an hour with someone else in your life? Now one more person knows how to create a little more beauty in the world than they did a month ago.
             Thank you people for reminding me of the little things in life! Have a great day! And check out Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs at Raleigh Little Theater opening this weekend. The shirt here is one of the seven dwarfs (it should very familar for everyone who goes). Will try and take more photos next show.

PS- Paul Wentworth for the photos.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Congradulations to Paul Wentworth

              You are the winner for 2 Tickets to go see the Importance of Being Earnest!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Textile Friday: Dry Cleaner Wisdom

               There's few things as wonderful as getting back your mother's wedding dress for your big day or as devastating as having your favorite coat turned to mush. While most of us know how to use a home washer and dryer, we ALL struggle with how best to use our local dry cleaners without feeling scammed. It's this will we/won't we internal debate on the shop racks in stores, unpacking attic treasures, or snuggling our favorite sweater. While I won't claim to be an expert on dry cleaners, I can help simplify how and why to use your local dry cleaners having free-lanced behind the scenes when I was starting out. This is a quick and dirty user guide for you, my customer, not the nitty gritty html code to set-up your own shop. It wouldn't be fair the the local businesses in the area I respect to give away their secrets. Oh, and if you're curious, based on what I've seen, Medlin-Davis is my vote from a behind the scenes perspective having both moonlighted there in alterations briefly and used them for over 25 years as a favorite family destination. Their shop was featured on How Stuff Works (and yes, that's what a real dry cleaners looks like behind the scenes). I've got years of my Dad being addicted to these guys, they do a great dress shirt week after year after decade. Plan to keep using these guys for another 25 years, no questions asked as I've kicked their machines around and bothered their staff enough to know they're the real deal. I will also mention H2O Only as some tailors in the area swear by them for delicate or sensitive pieces, but no personal knowledge. Enough about specific cleaners in my area, let's go over the basics.
                There are three major reasons most of us go to the dry cleaners:

1.Getting regular clothes cleaned (often service clothes): dress shirts, suits, slacks, service uniforms, sports uniforms, military uniforms, etc. This is primarily cotton clothing which can be pressed, cleaned, and returned in a day or two. Always be sure to ask for wet cleaning and you should be able to get turn around service quickly. Any member of a dry cleaning staff  in a good shop is trained to handle these.

2. Getting annual "dry cleaning" in the spring or special occasion: leather coats, fur coats, wool sweaters, wool anything, bridal cleaning, quilts or bedding, or other unusual requests done in the spring. These are what are called heirloom quality clothing which is made to last your lifetime and possibly your grandchildrens' lifetimes. They usually handled by the shop expert with 20 plus years experience. Normally orders are processed for the week on a Tuesday (when you get the best possible service) so to get these cleaned go in on a Monday or early Tuesday morning. Be pleasant, ask for the specific name of the most experienced person in the shop who normally handles x or y. Make it clear you prefer that person (and make sure the name is written on the ticket!) and say you are comfortable waiting an extra week if necessary to get the job done as the right person is more important than a fast job. This does 2 important things, it puts you in the expert's cue and gives them time to work on your job while recognizing them as a person. In the trades, an artisan is MORE impressed by you bothering to find out their name and asking for THEM as the expert than the money. They'll go a better job, and a week's time allows them to both do a good job and fit you in. Always go in the spring before you do your cleaning and pack away the garments to prevent moths and the winter's grime from setting mold and decay into your clothing. It is easier to get stains out before they have 6 months to set in. Remember, fur needs to be handled by a furrier (it's a different process with different equipment) and CAN NOT be done by a dry cleaners, no matter what they say it's a lie if someone tells you they can. I've worked for both dry cleaners and furrier, trust me. I've seen enough melted coats and $10,000 fur coats reduce to piles of slime to know what I'm talking about here. And I don't make a dollar off telling you this hard truth so please please please trust me here on this.

3. Basic tailoring and alterations repairs. These are generally simple repairs that your local tailor can, but often dry cleaners will hire a receptionist who doubles as a seamstress in the front to supplement the shop income and does repairs while she waits. If there's sewing equipment up front that the receptionist uses (may have a curtained changing room off to the side), chances are good you can reasonably have buttons sewn back on, pants hemmed, or minor rips repaired. However, if it's not listed on the counter behind the shop, take it to an actual tailor. This is a good way get sewing done for you at a reasonable price as the shop is discounting your overall price since they already pay the receptionist for her time.

                      Now, wet cleaning. Any reputable dry cleaner anywhere in the world uses what is called "wet cleaning" now in which they actually wash your clothes, they are then manually pressed in machines like the videos I uploaded (I could see these in my sleep). REAL dry cleaners require elbow grease and a fair amount of work to get your clothes clean. They will also often be humid or moist when you walk in the front door from all the work going on behind the scenes. The various machines are expensive, require up front cash outlays, and often result in tiered pricing for womens and mens as men's shirt pressing machines are common and less expensive.
              Now, having walked you through good dry cleaners and how to use them, let me make you aware of the oldest scam in the books which has been written about for hundreds of years besides prostitution. I say this not because all dry cleaners are scam artists, but about half of them are honest hard working people who care about you and have invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in equipment and labor to save you, and the other half are lazy scam artists trying to make a fast buck with what I call the "Febreeze Scam." It drives me nuts. Most of us have fallen pry to it including yours truly at one time or another. And it's been around for so long because it works as a con. Basically like the name implies, instead of honestly taking your money and doing the work to clean your clothes, the person behind the counter takes your clothing and Febreezes it by hanging it up somewhere and squirting chemicals all over it to give it the appearance and smell of having been cleaned without the actual work. Big tips offs for this include: 1 set price instead of various prices to reflect different labor and machine costs, "We use a new 'dry process' dry cleaning method.", and "Oh yes, we do everything here" bullshit. Real shops with real equipment have various prices, methods, and often turn around times. We all know Febreeze takes an hour to dry and costs $3.00 for a big bottle. Use your brain people.
               The Chinese have taken this to a whole art form in the 1990s with cheap caustic chemicals designed to work like Febreeze on crack, and they are the primary source of "Oh, your shirt, jacket, insert random item here MELTED in the cycle."  If you ever had this happen to you, chances are high you were being scammed in more ways than one. However, to be fair, they weren't the first. The French probably started it with their perfume. Every age seems to have a different name and product for the same scam. So protect yourself. Do the research, go get your stuff wet cleaned at a reputable cleaners, don't settle for anything else or you've wasted your money better spent on Febreeze or saving up until you can actually use a real dry cleaners.
                On a side note for finding the best dry cleaners in town without doing a lot of leg work, if you are new to a city besides Raleigh (I already told you were the best ones where here) and want to make sure you aren't being scammed, go to the nicest hotel in town you can afford dressed professionally (normally 2 star hotel or better) on a Tuesday afternoon/evening. All better hotels generally have an internal dry cleaning departments for guests, but out-source their employee uniforms to the best local dry cleaners as they are not as time sensitive or profitable. However, the cleaning staff is fanatical about getting their employees the best quality goods in town so they will RELENTLESSLY do all the footwork for you and are knowledgeable enough not to be scammed without you ever having to lose sleep over the matter. Take advantage of their brains by stopping by the bar to buy a drink (You can do this even if you are local) and compliment the most experienced barman on his uniform. I mean he's wearing what you're looking for and ask him where he gets it done. Dry cleaning for the week is normally dropped off on Monday or Tuesday so he may still even have the ticket on him. If he can't tell you that Tuesday, leave a $20 TIP and go back the next week. Chances are he will know then. Do not waste your time asking the front desk, bellboy, or concierge, they are trained not to tell you as it goes against their bottomline. The local barman knows you might come in to buy drinks even if you live in town and share the same cleaners.
                 There my customer, the best wisdom and protection I can give you about how to use your dry cleaner to make your clothes last longer and end up the right side at the end. Happy Friday! May your clothes always be shiny.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Shop Laughter: Pandora Comedy

             In the past month, Nash has left Techshop to get a new job up the street working with one of his best friends, Ian. He's loving the change and Ian is a virtual force of mayhem. Lately, I get to come home to a whole series of new quirky jokes as they have discovered the new comedy section on Pandora. For those of you like me who are new to the upgrade, roughly a year and a half ago Pandora added roughly 10,000 comedian voice clips with jokes and stand-up routines. As someone who is always searching for more music and shop noise to add to my work day, this has been a lot of fun. So I'm passing my joy along. Click one or more of these 12 stations to add a little laughter to your day:

Today's Comedy
Raw Comedy
Comedy Icons
Urban Comedy
PG Comedy
2000s Comedy
Latino Comedy
Musical Comedy
Golden Oldies Comedy
LGBT Comedy
Jewish Comedy

Monday, February 18, 2013

2 Free Tickets to the Importance of Being Earnest

           Interested in laughing your pants off for an evening with your date? We're back again with another 2 free tickets to give-a-way for The Importance of Being Earnest at Raleigh Little Theater. This is Oscar Wilde's most famous and last play. It deals with social conventions such as marriage and society in general. Please feel to enter our give-a-way by posting one fun dating misadventures of yours over the years in the comments section. As some of you know, our own dating history has been full of adventures and misadventures. When I first met Nash, I let to believe he was a 34 yr. old gay theater technician instead of a 22 yr. old senior college student. An entire comedy of errors ensued when I realized he was 7 years younger instead of 5 years older and straight. But that's a whole other story. If you've ever done something funny or stupid for love, tell us about it. Because love is a fallacy, and we all make dumb mistakes in the name of it.

Your tickets are for April 11th from 8-10:30 pm.

The Give-A-Way is between February 18th-22nd at midnight. We will announce a winner on Monday February 25th.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Textile Friday: Air or Line Drying

          Last time we talked about using a dryer, this week we're going to talk about line drying. While many people in the US consider air drying passe, over 70% of the world does air drying either because it saves a couple hundred dollars a year or protects your clothing. Sometimes both. Air drying itself is a pretty simple concept, simply hang up the clothing and expose it to air until it naturally dries from evaporation. Both advanced countries like Japan and 3rd world countries like Mexico embrace the practice.
           In the US, many home owners associations actively or passively forbid line drying in their covenants seeing them as lowering the property value, frugality be damned. If you live in a more lenient portion of the country, simply purchase a $5-10 tractable laundry line and hang it up. When you need to dry your laundry, zip it out and follow this handy Instructable to simply hang your clothes up with plastic hangers. Some people prefer clothesline umbrellas as they can be put up or down at will.
          However, if you've actually traveled, you know that simple clotheslines are not generally used overseas because of overall space requirements and smaller folding models provide a handy alternative to a prolonged legal battle or neighborhood wrath in the US. It doesn't make sense to save a couple hundred dollars a year on your household expenses if you end up spending it in legal battles. More complicated indoors or porch models are a great solution for walking in two worlds. They also have the distinct advantage of not being weather dependent or taking up a large amount of space. There's many different models available on the market.
A simple search through ebay, target, or any other retail space will present a variety of options. Here's a few pictures I pulled of current models under $100 on ebay. You can normally pick one up for under $50. Hopefully this will give you some ideas to start from, you can find your own model just for you.
              Happy searching, and may you pick up a new skill this spring or dust off an old one.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Roman Concrete Building Gets An Upgrade

                So sometimes you see something so awesome, you just have to share it. This video of a new group working on printing 3D houses in roughly 20 hours (1 day). You want to blow your mind, watch this 12 minute video, especially the pictures at the end as it's being used currently in building structures on the MOON. Yes, I know it has NOTHING to do with textiles, but WOW. I feel like my very own Star Trek: Next Generation replicator is getting closer and closer. This looks like it's based off RIVET technology. Thank you NASA.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Putting Etsy Shop In Vacation Mode

            Hey guys, we're putting the Etsy shop in vacation mode to catch-up on orders. :-)

Monday, February 11, 2013

Snow White Winner: Paul Wentworth

      Happy Monday and congratulations to Paul Wentworth. You are the proud owner of 2 tickets to the upcoming Snow White at Raleigh Little Theater. Have a great week everyone!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Free Dress Rehearsal Tickets to Snow White

     Hey Everyone, hope you haven't been missing me on the blog. I've been busy piecing together a few projects. I didn't want to mention anything before in case they didn't come off as it can be a roller-coaster weeding opportunities that fly across one's desk from the actual working reality of projects that come off. I am so pleased to announce that I will be starting to work one evening at week in the costume shop at Raleigh Little Theater. The current show is Snow White and is a re-telling of the classic fairytale from the Wicked Queen's perspective (Oh the costumes!). I will hopefully be having some fun taking photos (a wonderful backstage pass) and sewing mayhem. If you are new to the area and not yet familar with Raleigh Little Theater, it is one of the oldest operating theaters in the country located in the Rose Garden a couple of blocks from NC State Campus. I've dreamed of working in their costume shop for years and creating magic, now it looks like I have my chance. One of the big things I like about Raleigh Little Theater is how almost all of their costumes are still made from SCRATCH including the wigs and hats. Hopefully a good chance to work on my tailoring skills and improve my knowledge of different time periods and costumes.
           There's a certain hesitation in ready-to-wear to try to be inspired by history instead of slavishly copying it. While I love this practicality that clothes must first and foremost always be wearable, I've often longed to have an excuse to create objects of wonder just because they make one smile. Now, I get a chance to. I hope that you too enjoy the ride. Speaking of ride, the reason for today's post: Nash and I get free comp tickets for every shop apparently and I have 2 extra for the full dress rehearsal of Snow White at the end of the month February 27th and 28th which I am giving away on the blog this week. To enter for a chance to win, simply post a comment on the blog about why you love drama or theater. I will pick one lucky winner to announce next week on Monday, February 11th. Have a great week everyone!