Curb the Enthusiasm

When you run a small company, with a work force of one, you wear a lot of hats and have a very small paycheck at the end of the day. You work 8 days a week, and 26 hours a day (all possible with copious amounts of caffeine). Now, when that pay check DOES roll around into your bank account, you should feel happy. You should feel proud. You should feel like you own the world because you EARNED that money.

Today I had those feelings of glee when I made a relatively large (for me) sale in my store. There was mulah in my bank! My first thought- “I’m going out to dinner tomorrow night”, followed by “I’m going to drink Starbucks coffees for a MONTH”, and, finally, the sobering thought of “Well, first I need to pick up the materials, and I don’t have the right thread, so I’ll have to get that, and I’m almost out of X,Y and Z (you fill in the blanks, but basically, supplies that I need)”

When you wear many hats and work many hours in your job, you are lord and master (ROCK ON!) but you are also responsible for… well, being financially responsible. In reality, all of the money from the sale is just going to be cycled right back into the company.

But tonight, I’m going to dream of silk sheets, French champagne and decadent clothing – none of which are in my immediate future. But dreams are free. And don’t impact my bank account!

The Glitzy, the Glamorous, and the Mundane

When people think of fashion, They probably think the same thing I thought. They think of Alexander McQueen gowns, and the glamor of fashion shows. They think of perfectly tailored Armani suits, homes in the Hampton’s, Italian villas and French chateaus. They think of cameras, and flashing lights and dresses on red carpets.

And sure, some of them will think of the way fashion rapes the earths plants and animals (let’s not get started on Vicuna, shall we?); How many little critters have to die for a mink coat, no matter how luxuriously soft it feels? And how about the way cotton was manufactured by slaves for a while? or children in sweat shops in Indonesia?

We each choose which side of fashion we fixate on. Probably because trying to fixate on the gritty and the glamorous would lead us all to nudist colonies.

However, very few people, even those going into fashion as a career, are prepared for the mind numbing boredom that is sewing a sample. What is a sample (you innocently ask)? A sample is a test garment made of cheap fabric, usually some type of muslin, which is used to check the fit of the garment, the viability of a pattern,  the style lines, see what needs tweaking. Essentially, it’s the rough draft of your product, used so you can find and fix every single flaw there is, AND so that you absolutely, positively, 100% KNOW how to sew that baby together without messing it up. Because, let’s face it, Seam rippers and Duoponni silk? Not good bed fellows.

Now, in the perfect world, us aspiring designers would be able to draft a pattern that is a perfect fit, and would be such stunning savants that a sample would be superfluous. Unfortunately, this is NOT a perfect world. And so sample sewing is what I have just spent the past week and a half on. Not on multiple samples, mind you. Just on one. One sample dress in cheap muslin. And I haven’t even gotten it on a model yet!

The bright side of the tedium is that i really HAVE found every single flaw- The waist line was a little long (so I’ll have to bring that up about an inch…) and the seam allowances on the sleeve were wonky (MEMO- seam allowances are a good thing). Then of course the neckline was off, and the skirt hem is all sorts of wrong. but the important thing is that I can FIX it! I may have drunk every last ounce of caffeine in my county, and have blood shot eyes that make me look like a victim of Ebola, and, okay, so I’ve got a tick in my left eye and I’m a little bit twitchy…

But the important thing is, The sample is going on the model tomorrow!!

The moral of this little story, is this-  In the glamorous world of fashion, for the small designer, there will be hours upon days upon weeks doing the most boring job in the world- sewing a sample. My suggestion is to use the sample as a chance to really bone up on your sewing skills. Make that sample like it’s going to be embroidered with diamonds and given to the Queen of England. Sure, it’s absolutely demented and delusional… but it will get you through it to the final product!

Les Mechandes Des Modes: Introduction and Concept

in the 1700’s, fashion was a door to door sales job. Girls, who were not particularly wealthy, would dress in the height of fashion, and go to the homes of the wealthy, sort of like an Avon sales rep, and show of the latest and greatest of the fashions. It may be assumed, the wealthy would then decide they wished to dress like that too, and contact their tailors and dressmakers, and corsetiers, and cobblers and milliners… and, well, the list of talents required to replicate the look goes on.

So it got me thinking. About the title these girls so proudly bore, and the ideas and feelings it conveyed. And it hit me- Gothic Civil War era, aristocratic, circus side-show Lolita! ::please don’t roll your eyes yet, you haven’t even seen the drawings!::

Sounds like a hodge podge, but I think it works! So, over the next few months, I’m going to be busting my behind (and hopefully updating regularly) with the drawings, the samples, and, finally the unveiling of each amazing dress! I’m planning for 6 dresses (so it’s a miniature collection), and have already got four of six dresses drawn out, and one is an almost finished sample!!!

So, check back to find out how the Les Mechandes des Modes project is going!!! 🙂

Trust the Tutorial

Yesterday I finally downloaded my PatternMaker software I cracked my knuckles, rubbed my hands together, and got ready to draft the most amazing dress the world has ever seen. I had my models measurements. I had a sketch of what I wanted the dress to be when I was done. I was ready to go!

Unfortunately, when I opened the program up, what I got was like the Geometrist’s Paint Program. Circles, Rectangles, Lines, POLYGONS??? What was I supposed to do with this? I tried to draw a line, and it didn’t work. I got the rectangle, after 10 failed attempts, but then couldn’t erase it. I begged my computer. I implored, I wheedled, and then after 4 hours of FAILURE, I cursed my computer and started yelling. It was time to go the the Help Topics and surrender my pride.

But even the Help Topics didn’t tell me what I was doing wrong. All the pages just kept telling me to do the Tutorials. And where the heck were they?! Another hour of cursing ensued before I found the tutorials on the website.

In two hours I ran through the first 5 tutorials and had a fully functioning back sloper. Piece of cake.

Today I booted up my computer and, with a fresh cup of coffee and some sleep, decided to explore the files in the PatternMaker. I found the Tutorials, on my hard drive, conveniently labeled “Tutorial” (had I bother to check yesterday? No. I’d just gotten really inventive with my insults directed to my computer).

This morning I cracked my knuckles, rubbed my hands together, and, like a much more logical person, I opened up the tutorials and settled down to learn more about the program. My computer and I have since made up and are back on speaking terms.

The moral of this story is that, regardless of how sure you are that you KNOW what you’re doing, running through 12 short tutorials really won’t hurt you. And it may save you HOURS of frustration. Food for thought.

I’m now off to try and scale a pattern. With more coffee, of course!