Tag Archives: sewing

Post Apocalyptic Clothing Line Notes

IMG_20140827_120209[1]I’m designing a micro line of post apocalyptic style clothing inspired by my novel Cricket and Grey. I’m starting with smocks made from men’s shirts. As I’m making these I’m thinking about whole outfits to wear with them.

This started because I am faced with the reality that I need to make some money and I can either try to sell my own things in my Etsy shop or I can get a job at an office or retail store. I don’t want to have to work outside my home. So I made a push to label my salves which I was already working on because I wanted to make some apothecary items inspired by my book. Then I asked myself what else I could make that wouldn’t bore me or annoy me.

IMG_20140823_184433[1]That’s when I decided to turn my Stitch and Boots shop into a shop wholly inspired by Cricket and Grey. To create a shop that might exist in my own novel. I did the whole apron thing in the past and am tired of making retro style aprons. I want smocks! I want to recycle some things in the spirit of a post apocalyptic world. As I started cutting and pleating this first one I couldn’t help but imagine what I would wear with it.

IMG_20140825_140541[1]Especially because it looks like a cute sun dress. Designing and selling clothing is tricky if you don’t have a professional pattern grader or grading skills or a set of slopers in different sizes to work with. So in all the years I’ve been sewing professionally I have never attempted to make and sell my own clothing designs.

I had a revelation yesterday in a facebook conversation about selling hand made goods that being a fashion designer was my only design ambition and it’s the one thing I’ve never done. I’ve been the shipping manager for a fashion designer, I’ve been a costumer, I’ve designed aprons and pot holders, and I’ve been a design assistant at a men’s necktie company but not once have I attempted to design and sell my own line of clothing.

I’m going to do it. I’m going to do it on my terms and with pretty much no budget. No budget means a lot of limitations but this is perfect because anyone sewing clothes in a post apocalyptic world would have many limitations such as buying materials and lack of industrial machinery.

In talking with people out loud about this I have found that I’m very clear about a few things. I’m going to list them here:

  • I will do NO custom orders. People really take advantage of you when you offer custom. They don’t think that’s what they’re doing, but I’ve had a lot of experience with this and I’m not going to offer it.
  • I am going to price my line like a professional fashion line and that means I’m not catering to the bargain hunting crowd. If you want cheap, go to Target. My price range will be $45 – $300 per item. My sewing skills are professional and I went to school to learn this shit so my prices will reflect the quality and expertise I bring to my sewn things. No apologies. And anyone who says “I can make that myself for much cheaper” – good, go do it and stop being rude.
  • There will be pockets! There may even be one or two secret pockets.
  • Every garment will be designed with these activities in mind: gardening, bicycling, walking, running from zombies or angry mobs, going on road trips, foraging and hunting, and doing all kinds of urban homesteading activities. So no ball gowns or tight pencil skirts.
  • Sizing: I will be doing general size ranges rather than number sizes. S, M, L, and XL.
  • No wholesale orders. I can’t afford to do wholesale and am not interested. There will be no selling in other people’s shops.
  • I need to figure out a cheap way to make labels.

Alright – it’s time to get to work on my second smock!

Hope you have a great weekend!

xo

a

Windowpane Quilt as Allegory for Hope and Patience

windowpane quiltThis is my finished windowpane full sized quilt that I started in 2007.  It’s taken me a whole 7 year cycle to finish it.  I had no idea when I started it that I was about to be the loneliest and fattest person I knew.  I had no idea my old cat was about to die and I was going to go bankrupt and that my son’s problems were going to come to a head.  I had no idea that we were going to spend almost $2,000 we didn’t have to save two tiny kittens from the claws of death.  I had no idea that before I finished this quilt I would start feeling so sick inside I would wake up most mornings wishing I could just peacefully go back to sleep and not wake up again until it was time to die.

windowpane seven years agoI had no idea that I would finally write the novel I’d been trying to write my whole life.  Or that I would take Kung Fu from an unbalanced but brilliant Kung Fu master and discover how empowering it is to punch and kick things.  I had no idea that the town I was living in which treats some people wonderfully would become an iron trap holding me and my family down with our faces in the dirt.  I had no idea just how poisonous a location can be to a spirit.  Nor did I have any idea that such poison could simultaneously inspire such raw creativity and beauty in the people it infects.

trying out for sizeI had no idea any of this was coming.  I just wanted to make a quilt to keep us warm and to cheer up our house.  I just wanted to have fun with my sewing.  Which I did.  I had no real plan when I started it.  I just cut a bunch of rectangles the same size and then started stitching them together.  This quilt was a bright puzzle I put together as I went along.

macro quilt viewIt’s about the joy of surprises and how color and pattern can come together and work in unexpected ways.

quilt five years agoThis quilt was about letting go of expectation and using what I had on hand.

flannel layerWhich is how it ended up with a layer of ugly cotton flannel in addition to the usual layer of cotton batting.  About a day after I took this picture I started basting the layers together and suddenly came down with influenza for the first time in my life.  The real flu.  And not just any strain of influenza – this was the first round identified as H1N1.  Ten days of fever, shaking, excruciating pain, and wracking cough that caused me to break a rib.  I didn’t work on this quilt again until last month, February 2014.

latenight quiltingFinishing this quilt stands for a triumph over adversity.  It stands for creation over destruction.  It’s about never giving up and keeping hope alive with the little things like not tossing WIPs just because so many of them never get finished.  It’s a willingness to see something through, no matter how long it takes.

IMG_20140208_175307It’s the first full sized quilt I’ve ever made, my fifth quilt in all.  I’ve made 3 baby quilts (for Adriana, Ben, and Ivy), 1 twin sized quilt (for Lili), and this one.

IMG_20140304_002007All my animals love it and claim it.  My sister was the first to break it in.

IMG_20140228_014400I re-watched most of Alias (for the 3rd time) while making it.  I stayed up until 3am working on it on more than one occasion because I wasn’t drinking alcohol and consequently have returned to my insomnia.

IMG_20140302_171253I learned to make my own binding and how to machine quilt something bigger than a twin.  Finishing this quilt has set something free, I’m not even sure exactly what.  The past?  Pain?  Creativity?  Faith in myself?  The future?

Maybe it’s an allegory for hope and patience.

I don’t know.  All I know is that a whole lot of shit has happened since I cut out the first stack of rectangles.  I started it in McMinnville, Oregon and finished it in Santa Rosa, California and in spite of all the bad stuff that’s happened, this quilt reminds me of the good friends I made in Oregon and miss.  It reminds me of the blueberries and the asparagus.  It reminds me of the rain and the snow.  It reminds me of Hotel Oregon and the geek techs with M16′s.  It reminds me of the brambles everywhere that make the best jam on earth.

This is my windowpane quilt – finished.

Lili’s Quilt

Lili quilt 12This is the front of Lili’s quilt.  This is one of the main things I’ve been working on this month.  I got it done in about one week from start to finish.  A record for me.  I did almost nothing else during that time.

Lili quilt 6This is the first quilt I’ve ever done machine quilting on.  I’ve been wanting to learn to do this for years.  Lili’s quilt is the biggest of the four quilts I’ve made.  The first three were baby quilts and this one is roughly twin sized.

Lili quilt 10I watched almost all of Alias and the first season of Arrow while making it.Lili quilt 1I had no real plan ahead of time.  I only knew that Lili (a four year old girl) likes pink, red, and purple.  Having found no good purple prints I decided to break up the red and pink with black.  It’s much bolder than I originally imagined, color-wise.  Kind of punches you in the face, but that’s okay because Lili is a girl with major moxie and some day she will have no problem punching people in the face who get in her way.

Lili quilt 3Ad-libbing a quilt allows for all kinds of weird stuff to happen as you go along.  Like stripes that don’t quite match up, not enough of one fabric or another, and good surprises like unexpected cool piecing.

Lili quilt 2This is the back side of the quilt.  It’s asymmetrical.  On purpose by surprise.  The irregularities in this quilt would shame my mom’s sister who is one of those precise quilters who follows patterns and makes every seam match up PERFECTLY because otherwise – THESHAMETHESHAMETHESHAME.

Having been a costumer and a professional seamstress I know how important it is to make things perfect if you’re selling them.  I will rip seams out until they’re just right when making things professionally.  But quilting, for me, is the one sewing project where I let myself just have fun and let things develop organically.  I start with an idea and then let it just unfold.  I do try to do a good job sewing it but I’m not taking seams out when points don’t match perfectly or my lines aren’t ruler straight (though they usually are anyway).  Quilting is my free-range sewing time.  I get to do whatever the hell I want with it.  There are no rules.

I’m really pleased with the way Lili’s quilt turned out.

Now I’m working on the quilt I started 6 years ago in McMinnville.  I broke my machine while machine quilting it.  I’m about half done.  So tonight I’m going to finish the quilting and tomorrow I go to my friend Chelsea’s house to get a lesson in binding.  Because I suck at binding quilts and while I could continue to suck at it I think I would get more satisfaction if I could learn to do it better.

If you don’t have many (or any) spare blankets in your house you should start making quilts.  I have only two spare blankets and only one of them is full sized and it’s shredded to the point of almost being useless.  I am appalled at this whole situation because what if there’s an emergency or an apocalypse and we need extra blankets?

One quilt down and many more to come!

Polka Dot Shirt and Striped Pyjamas Show and Tell

all those polka dotsI said I was going to make myself wear patterns again.  I told myself that if people out in the world want to think a large lady shouldn’t wear polka dots or loud prints then let ‘em!  I’ve been hiding for so long now in shame because I hate my body so much.  It has deprived me of the joy I experience wearing patterns.  Especially stripes and dots.  It has made dressing a dreary affair.  My clothes are all exactly the same.  I look like I wear the same thing every day because I do.  I have 3 of every shirt.  Now, the pants I wear are still the only ones I’m going to wear for comfort.  I like them.  It’s a style I wore before I got really fat so until a day comes when I’m not this size I will continue to wear the exact same style in the same fabric.

However – I am making tops in patterns, as you have seen here already.  The Cannibalistic Hot Dog Over-shirt and the Sherbet Top with striped details have taken me way out of my comfort zone.  I photographed the cabbage rose smock too but lost them with the great computer erasure.  I will photograph them again and show you.  But today I am showing you the polka dot knit top I made.

new bold outfitIt looks much nicer on my dress form than on me but I don’t care.  I love this outfit.  I love this pattern of dots.  It’s from the Doodles line of junior knits.  I got it from Joanne’s.

polka dot top stitch detailI have been experimenting with my Pfaff’s knit stitches since I don’t have a cover stitch machine.  Zig-zag stitches give clothes a homemade amateur look so I don’t like to use them.  This is my favorite knit stitch on my machine.

tunic pants unironedMy tunic pants.  I usually only wear them in black and brown.  I cut this pair out at least a year and a half ago but never finished them.  I finished them yesterday.  On all my previous pairs of tunic pants I’ve left all the hems as serged edges.  While I like this look it allows the hems to shred over time which makes my clothes look shoddy.  Doing knit hem stitches on my machine is tedious – it goes very slowly – but I’m now making myself hem everything so it all looks nicer and lasts longer.

striped pyjamasRobin wanted to see my striped pyjamas.  Here they are!  The sleeves aren’t different lengths – I promise.  I just didn’t adjust the shirt well before taking pictures and didn’t notice until I was editing the pics.  So – the pants are the same pattern than I use for my tunic pants but without the skirt.  Very comfortable.  I may end up wearing the shirts as clothes and make two more pyjama tops that aren’t polyester.  I made a huge error, one I rarely ever make, and thought this fabric was a rayon with spandex blend (95% and 5% respectively).  I know I looked at the bolt end but somehow I got it in my head that it was rayon.  I don’t wear polyester.  Polyester is an awful fiber.  It doesn’t breath, it’s essentially made of plastic chips (I got to see polyester in its original state in a fiber exhibit years ago), it will not break down in a landfill until the earth explodes, and if you get caught in a fire wearing polyester it will melt onto your skin.  Your skin will not recover from that.

close up striped pyjamasBut I have two of these shirts now and I don’t have much of a fabric budget so I will wear these.  The summer weather is arriving early this year, though, and sleeping in a fiber that doesn’t breathe is NOT NICE.  I do love the way this stripe looks.  For my real pyjama tops I’m going to buy some cotton t-shirt knits online.  Cotton breathes much nicer and so is better for sleeping in.  Well, it’s better for everything.

Today I’m going to cut out new tunic-pants in black since all of my pants are full of holes and the hems are pitifully shredded.  I love the look of my pyjamas so much and they’re so comfortable that I think I’m going to make a few pairs for day-wear and then make some drapey tops to throw over them.

If you have any projects you’ve just finished – show them to me!  Link them in the comments so I can see!