mass production- sort of

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Well I've gone and done it now. I've applied to my first craft show and been accepted. On May 14 & 15, I'll be showing at the Art Star Craft Bazaar, an indie craft show in Philadelphia! I love attending indie craft shows, but have been too intimidated so far to be in one. How the heck am I going to fill a 10' by 10' booth with quantity & variety of irresistible wares? No turning back now!
I started production in earnest this week. My parents, sensing rightly that I'd bitten off more than I can chew, came up for the week to help out. Dad played with the kids & did chores while Mom & I sewed our little hearts out. Of course things didn't go quite as planned. The day job kicked in a with some urgent freelance work and my little boy caught a nasty bug and needed attention. A miscommunication with a supplier yielded a package of purse frames in the wrong size & color. For a while there it seemed nothing was going my way. I consider myself lucky I had help!
It was a good thing I had projects organized and ready to go before they got here. The plan was to focus on one product category at a time, starting with coin purses.
I prototyped a few new designs and colorways in advance to beef up the variety. We worked on the purses in batches, cutting multiples and performing each step on all before moving on. I have to say it's rather mind-numbing to work this way, but at least I had someone there to chat with.
There are a lot of steps to these darn things! There were no finished purses until the very end of the week.
Mom got bored and wanted to move on to onesies. We tacked labels into 50 of them while watching a Will Farrel movie one night. Then she begged me to let her design one, and I said OK. She came up with the crazy quilt heart which looks very chirp & bloom. Each one is slightly different and has recycled shirt fabrics, floral ribbon, and hand embroidery. She is a collage artist with her own Etsy shop after all!

Time management challenges, botched shipments, delegating work... it's almost like I'm back in the garment industry!
Since it's my first show, I have no idea how much to make of any one thing. I'm shooting for 6 per design, divided between 3 sizes, of each onesie. Maybe I'll do more if I finish early, but that's unlikely! There are still skirts, dresses, & hair accessories to go... Wish me luck!

bidding at an estate auction

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Every other Tuesday, our local auction house, Bunch Auctions, has an auction. Auctions are great because it's how you pay wholesale for vintage & antique store items. Preview day is the day before, and is good  fun to examine everything closely and imagine the households they came from. My friend Anne & I went, with my little boy in tow, to rub elbows with the dealers and check out the wares. This week's email notice showed more textiles than usual, so I was pretty sure I'd find something to bid on.
I have bid on items at the auction before, but not lately. I once bought a big item at auction, a large library cabinet that I use for storing china, and the experience was an incredible adrenaline rush. I had my number card and kept holding it up, just like on TV. Finally it was down to me and one other bidder. Sweat was pouring from my armpits, I was $500 over my limit and I just kept going until the other person couldn't take it anymore. I had to have it. I was shaking for hours afterward, but I do love the cabinet.
Today I wasn't going to get emotional about it. I was going to be business-like, set a limit and stick to it. The best way to do this is by submitting an absentee bid. Not only are you not able to go over what you plan to spend, but you don't have to be there, waiting around for hours before the auctioneer gets to your lot. Minimum bid is $10, so as long as what you want is worth at least that, it's a good option. I registered at the desk, got a number, then a lady with a clipboard recorded my bids and tagged the items so the auctioneer would know I was bidding on the them when the time came. They are very organized about it. I went home, forgot about it, then got a call a day later. I won everything I bid on and didn't max out!
You can sign up to do phone bidding too, if it's a big item. They call you when your item is up and the phone lady bids for you while you're on the line. I don't see myself ever doing that, though.
There was a pile of sweet 1940's childrenswear that I was drawn to, but didn't need to own, so I took pictures. You just have to shut off that hoarder instinct and think about what you really will use.
Such a darling playsuit from the days before onesies, with a button-off skirt and matching bonnet.
Smocking. Love.
Some nice, but not terribly old hand-quilted quilts.
An old one.
A box o' linens. There were a lot of these boxes intended for selling as one lot, but the clipboard lady said I could take what I was interested in out and make a separate lot for a $10 minimum bid, which I did.
I liked this colorful set. Won it!
Won this tablecloth & napkins set as well. Nobody else bid on it, so I got it for $10. The picture doesn't do it justice. I'll show it cleaned up and unfolded at later date.
Boy, did I want this sofa. The hubs would never go for it though. Too feminine.
The little guy found plenty to be interested in too. In addition to a braille typewriter, he found this weird teapot contraption that takes a sterno canister.

Now I'm in the mood for my other favorite pastime: hitting all the local Goodwills.

happy saint patrick's day, happy spring!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

art by my little boy, age 4

May the road rise to meet you,
May the wind be always at your back,
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
The rains fall soft upon your fields and,
Until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.
- an Irish blessing

vintage finds at the annex

Sunday, March 13, 2011

I sneaked out of the house yesterday, kid-free, to run a boring errand and, drunk on freedom, couldn't resist making an extra stop at our local resettlement shop, The Annex Marketplace. They clean out people's homes who are downsizing or who have died and then sell the stuff out of a warehouse dangerously close to my house. It's only open Thursday, Friday, & Saturday every other week, so sometimes I forget to go.
They have all kinds of furniture and housewares, but I usually head straight upstairs to the textiles. I couldn't resist this springy sheet set. I'm liking 1970's- looking Springmaid-ish florals these days.
This doily was so pretty, I had to get it also.
A stack of heavy linen napkins caught my eye. I nabbed them with a vision of a tote bags...
This little piece charmed me as well. It could become a tiny little accent pillow. Don't like the lace though.

PS-don't tell my husband why I took so long!

two-piece menswear-style waistband

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

I've got a thing for a good ol' 2-piece menswear-style waistband, even for kids. By two-piece, I mean seamed at the top with an outer piece and a facing, and for extra credit, binding on the edge of the facing. Sure it would be easier to throw some elastic in a casing and call it a day, but sometimes something more tailored is called for. I've started doing a 2-piece waist on my recycled shirt skirts and tablecloth skirts.
I noticed my daughter's twill uniform pants from Lands' End have this treatment. The twill is thick, so they did the facing out of pink oxford cloth and the pocket linings out of pink stripe oxford shirting instead of self fabric or plain white, even though I'm sure it cost them more to do. I love the idea of haberdashery details on the inside even if none of it shows from the outside. You just know it's there when you're wearing it. It's a psychological thing, mostly, but it does make for a nice flat waistband, even with button elastic in the back of it.
If your pattern is designed to be a 1-piece foldover waistband, you can make it into 2 pieces by cutting in half lengthwise and adding seam allowance onto the edges. I trim 1/8" to 1/4" off the facing piece because it will be overhanging the waist seam on the inside just a tad too much if I don't. If it's a fixed waistband, but you want to add button elastic, just add 2-3" worth of ease to the length of the pattern piece. I lightly interface both pieces with fusible interfacing. I cut the interfacing pieces minus seam allowance so I'm not bulking up the seams.
I cut a 1" strip of cute coordinating fabric to be used for binding. It can be cut on the straight grain instead of the bias because it won't need any stretch to finish the straight facing piece. I run it through my handy dandy 1/2" bias tape maker to get a nice perfect piece of binding.
It looks super professional if you sew the binding onto the waist facing piece using a bias binding foot. They are not universal- you have to get one for your specific machine.  The one I got for my Babylock is adjustable to handle different widths of binding.
Otherwise, just be really careful to be straight with your stitching or even baste the binding on by hand first.
Next, I sew the top edge of the facing to the top edge of the waistband (right sides together), going straight across and not turning the corners at the ends. I press the seam flat toward the facing piece and trim the seam allowance in graduated layers. After that I backstitch the seam allowance down onto the facing side, close to the seam. This ensures that the seam rolls perfectly and firmly to the inside of the waist. Important, especially if you wanted to get fancy and make your whole facing out of a contrast color.
If you are using button elastic, mark 3/4" buttonholes centered in your facing about 1 1/2" away (toward the back) from the side seam markings. This keeps the elastic & buttons  toward the back where any bulk won't be visible. I always have such paranoia when it comes to slashing open the buttonholes. I'm afraid I'll overshoot the end of the buttonhole and ruin my almost-finished garment, so I put a pin at the end to stop the seam ripper if it decides to keep going. attach buttons 1/2" away from the buttonhole, toward the front.
When attaching to the body of the garment, allow the waistband to extend enough past the body to account for seam allowances and any extensions the waistband has (like for a button). Then flip the waistband inside out the close up the ends. Trim the corners and seam allowances on those edges. Flip right side out and press the daylights out of it.

Then comes my favorite part- "crack-stitching" or "stitching in the ditch". I didn't photgraph this part, but I've blogged about it in the past here. Pin your facing flat with the corners tucked in like above. Turn the garment right side out. To close the waist you will stitch in the seam crack where the body meets the waistband. You won't even see the stitches on the outside when you're through. An edge joining foot makes it easier, but it's not difficult to aim your needle right into the crack. Finally, feed your elastic through the waist through the buttonholes.
Not your average run-of-the-mill waistband!