Summer Days and Summer Nights

20140620-113556.jpg

Wow! What a crazy start to summer! I did two events, a First Fridsy, that went FABULOUS, and another event, the West Park Arts Fest, which did not go particularly well, but was definitely a learning experience.

What did I learn, you ask?

That event managers and organizers sometimes tell lies to get vendors.

To make up for the disappointment that was last weekend, I am gearing up for another battery of events-

June 28th, 9am-1pm
Lansdowne Farmers Market
I will be bringing freshly mixed body products from my new Raw Spa, which you can check out at THE RAW SPA .

20140620-113621.jpg
The current line of products is called “Jewel of the Nile”, and was inspired by many sleepless nights researching ancient Egyptian cosmetics and beauty aesthetics. See, I just KNEW I would be able to mix my anthropology major with my work!!! I will also have the butterfly and fish hair pins, the little lotii clips, and a few of the Matahari pieces.

July 4th, 11am- 10pm
Philadelphia First Friday, at 2nd & Church St.
Yep, this is going to be a loooooooong day. But in addition to fabulous freshly mixed lotions and potions, and the fun CREASE origami pieces, I will be bringing my awesome, fantastic, wonderful German cousin with me!! It’s her first time in America, and she will be staying with me for two months!! And of course being the great cousin that I am, I thought her first few days here should include a wicked long day in the Philadelphia heat, at what I think is the coolest event in town! Plus, I hear there will be fireworks, two blocks away at Penns Landing! (have I convinced you yet?)

20140620-113713.jpg

July 12, 10am-4pm
First African Presbyterian Church Summer Market
This is going to be my first time at the FAPC Market, so I’m excited to see what other vendors will be there! Right now I am planning on mostly having the CREASE origami pieces, so lots of butterflies, fish and flowers!

20140620-113750.jpg

I’m still looking in to more events to do around the area. So if you live around Philly or the Main Line, keep an eye out for us! I might even slide my fabulous blog followers a discount… ::hint HINT::

In addition to that, since there is no such thing as TOO BUSY, at least in my overly caffeinated opinion, I’m starting work on the samples for this fall’s Thing That Go BUMP!! collection. Yes, the collection that I promised last year, and then failed to finish. I am even planning to have a line of body products to go with it!!!

20140620-113657.jpgI’m trying to come up with some fun and funky Halloween products. I feel like all-natural, organic body products are frequently stodgey and boring. What do you guys think? What sorts of things do you think of when you imagine Halloween lotions and such? I’m game for any suggestions you can throw at me!

Well, that’s my looooooong over due update. I keep telling myself to keep the blog updated better… I mean, do I really need those four hours of sleep a night, anyway?

Spring Cleaning and Other Good Things

After pretty much freezing my business, and everything associated with it, in a last ditch effort to survive the semester, I have decided to just bite the bullet and get started up again.

For firstly, this store represents the culmination of my life’s dream (the dream to be a fashion designer, not the other dreams!!), and it’s been absolutely heart breaking and neurosis inducing to not be able to sew, or to sketch. So I’m cleaning of the poor neglected sewing machine and getting her fired up!

For secondly, First Friday season is here, and my brain has been overflowing with new ideas for that. So I’ve recruited two assistants to help me with the folding and the glazing.

Today, unfortunately, doesn’t look like it’s going to have much sewing in it. My house is absolutely trashed, and the weather is so nice that I thought I might do a Spring cleaning. If there’s any time left over to the day after that, then I can get started on a cute little sun dress I’ve been sizing hour. It’s going to be made from absolutely the most fun fabric ever!

Although, I must say, I have learned an important lesson from sizing it out- don’t cut your nice pretty fabric first before testing the pattern….

Impulse Control Issues

Sometimes, I just can’t help myself. I’m sure a lot of people have this problem. Maybe you see the perfect pair of jeans in a store and you buy them for 110$, ignoring the fact that they look EXACTLY like EVERY, SINGLE, OTHER pair of jeans in the WORLD. Or maybe every time cellphones go on sale, you buy five of them. Not because you need them, but, because, c’mon, they were on SALE!

Actually, maybe most of our problems with over buying would be solved if stores stopped offering “buy one, get X” sales… You can ponder this for today and get back to me!

As I was saying, this impulse control issue with spending is perfectly normal. I myself am known to spend almost beyond my means. And it always comes back to bite me in the tush.

20130525-125642.jpg
My most recent splurge was the result of my throwing a tantrum at the fabric store over the cutting counter gremlin. I happen to love Halloween, and this fabric is just so PERFECT. SO I bought ten yards of it, with absolutely no idea what I was going to do with it.

I did the same thing with a bolt of creepy haunted house fabric…

And a bolt of Dia de los Muertos fabric…

Always with no idea what I was going to do with it. I just knew that I wanted it.

But this time, I came up with a genius idea. I sketched out this dress idea-

20130525-125657.jpg
And that was when it hit me. I don’t really have the time to do a full scale, 500000000000 piece collection… but why not a Limited Edition Halloween collection?

I ran this idea by my Friend-Who-Remains-Anonymous.

“That’s a wonderful idea!” he said. “You should start creating a buzz about it now.”

And, yet again, I was stumped. How does one “create a buzz”, I wondered.

“Let me guess,” he said, blandly. “You forgot that you had a blog, and haven’t updated it in three months.”

Ha! that’s where he was wrong! I showed him my posts.

“Very good,” he said approvingly. “you told them that you hate the only fabric store in your area because the people are mean, you told them you are a starving artist, and you told them you are insane and think the DEVIL possessed your sewing machine.” Maybe “approving” was the wrong word…

“Now,” he informed me, “you are going to tell your readers all about you idea for this mini collection, and show them your adventure in the creative process.”

I think he was expecting a little too much from me. I think he was probably over estimating my abilities, too.

He sighed. “Mack, just do it. I’ll buy you a cup of coffee for each post you put up about this project.”

And that, ladies and gentlemen, sealed the deal. This officially goes to my first cup of free coffee!! I win!!!!!

Of Ancient Egyptians and Bias Tape

First, let me introduce you to Hatshepsut!!

20130403-194936.jpg
She is my brand new industrial sewi g machine that I bought for 50$. No joke.

She needs some living care, like some oil, and a new cord, and maybe a new lamp, since the old one got smashed in the moving process.

But other than that, she runs like a dream!! I can’t wait until I have her back in ship shape, so I can put her to work… And let my moms sewing machine take s vacation. That poor little Viking has really been a trooper for me!

So what I have for you today is a rant about bias tape.

I just spent two days making 5 yards of shantung bias tape from 1/8 of a yard of fabric. “Why?!” You ask.

Because the fabric stores near me only sell decently priced cotton bias tape, and for this new panty design, I needed cherry red shantung bias tape like this.

20130403-194845.jpg
I’m going to cry blood when I run out of this bias tape!

The Pin Up Sew Along Project Pt. 2

20130106-161410.jpg
Last week I put some serious effort into the bra project- I even went as far to time myself, to see how long it took me to make… I know. I know. I was a little bit obsessive… :$

Once I perfected my pattern and sewed half of the sample, I simply couldn’t wait to make the final glorious product!!
I used a decadent, reasonably priced polyester charmeuse. On the upper part of the bra, I did a lace overlay with one of the wider galloon laces from my huge stash.

20130106-160823.jpg
Obviously, it’s an asymmetrical pattern, so I tooka good hour trying to figure out which way I wanted to lace pattern to go.

20130106-160929.jpg
I eventually chose to cut it with the scalloped at the top, mainly because it created a pretty icicle effect.

20130106-161015.jpg
The sewing was pretty straight forward. A little tedious, maybe. But with 8 cups of coffee and Katherine Hepburn movies, I managed to get the cups done in about and hour!! 🙂

20130106-161104.jpg
Pretty, don’t you think?

20130106-161311.jpg
Now I will admit that I made a mistake- I forgot to attach the back of the bra to the cups before I sewed in the lining… So I ended up sewing it like an insert , which didn’t work out as bad as it could have, but definitely not as good as I hoped. Live and learn.

Instead of using hooks to close the bra, I decided to do a ribbon loop button closure… And didn’t think to look for directions… Not too bad!!

20130106-161203.jpg
I’m working on finishing up the bra this week for a little pin up photo shoot!! Stay tuned for my finished project and the next part of the sew along I’m working through!!

For more information on the Pin Up Sew Along, check out Anna’s blog : A Few Threads Loose
And Sarah’s blog: Ohhh Lulu

The Pin Up Sew Along pattern package can be purchased here: Ohhh La La Pin Up Sew Along

Or you can purchase the bra pattern I’m working with separately, here: 1950’s Pin Up Bra #2001

Sunshine & Cinnamon,
Mack 😉

Pin-up sew along project pt 1

20121228-141431.jpg

The holiday season is now drawing to a close, and with it my vacation. To fill in the gaps of free time I have, I have finally started working on the pin up sew along project!!!

20121227-122659.jpg
I have drafted out the pattern pieces for the bombshell bra to my size and am currently working on my second muslin sample/toile.

20121227-122646.jpg

I’m going to make both bra designs from left-over pink satin I found in my fabric hoard, with pretty antique lace overlay with lace from my huge barrel-o-lace!!

20121228-141657.jpg

So far there is much fun being had in my little workroom 🙂

Learn more about the sew along by Anna: A Few Threads Loose
And Sarah: OhhhLuLu blog

Pattern available at this link as a sew along package: The Pin Up Sew Along Kit on Etsy

Or separately: French Bra Pattern by MrsDepew on Etsy

The Story of the Living Dolly

Yesterday I got all dressed up in my FINALLY finished and perfected “Lil Munster” dress, a pair of lime green-and-black striped stocking, and bright red lipstick, and tromped off to work.

Lil' Munster dress

On the bus I was immediately confronted by a little girl, maybe five or six years old, who was with her mother. The girl took in my outfit for a moment.

“What happened to YOU?” she asked, in that tone of incredulity that is usually only found in an adult.

I stopped, thrown. I looked at her mother for help. Her mother looked like she had surrender for today.

“Nothing HAPPENED to me,” I informed her, unloading a huge sewing/first aid/make-up/emergency kit, a large hat box stuffed full of unfinished hats and a laptop bag crammed full to bursting with laptop, paper work, daily planner, power cords for more electronics than NASA, a journal, and a reading book, all onto the luggage rack.

“But why do you dress like that?” insisted the girl. I thought about all of the smart ass remarks I would normally give an adult. But she was five.

“Because I can,” I said honestly. The girl thought about this. When she was all grown up, could SHE dress like this strange woman?

“You look like the other girl,” she decided.

“Other girl?” I asked. I looked at her mother. Her mother was just as confused as me.

“The other girl. The one under the house.” Her face informed me that I should know EXACTLY who this was. Now is a good time to admit that I adore children. I don’t have any, and because I dress bizarrely, most parents don’t let me near them. I’ve had parents with small children actually CROSS THE STREET. You get used to it.  Some people have small minds.

The fact that this precocious kid’s mother wasn’t running for the hills in fear encouraged me. True, for the first few minutes, she watched me like a hawk, but she didn’t see anything in me to be afraid of.

After a few seconds of contemplation (trying to think like I was twenty years younger) I put two and two together.

“The wicked witch of the West? from the Wizard of Oz?” I asked.

“Of course!” Her mother sucked in a breath. Was I offended? The girl grinned at the joke. I started laughing.

“You’re a sweet kid,” I chortled, well aware that sarcasm was lost on a little kid.

Encouraged by this, she began to interrogate me. Did I always dress like this? Only in October. But why? Because it’s Halloween Month. But it isn’t Halloween!!! It might as well be.

And then she said absolutely the cutest thing in the world.

“Do you turn into a dolly when people aren’t around? Because then I could take you home and keep you and play with you all day long!”

“She’s not a DOLL!! You can’t just take her home! Stop being ridiculous!” her mother admonished. I assured her that I wasn’t a doll. She didn’t believe me.

“What’s under your skirt?” she asked.

“What do you think is under my skirt. Legs! What’s under your pants? Legs!”

She tugged at my skirt. then she grabbed the hem and yanked it up to my thigh.

“Whoah! Kid! I’ve got a real body under there! And I’d like it to STAY under the dress!” I tugged the skirt away from her.

“I’m sorry,” her mother said helplessly. “She wanted to see if you were wearing stocking or knee socks. I’m really sorry.”

She still thought I was a doll. And she informed me that her mother was really a big puppet. Then she wanted me to show her everything in my kit. And then she wanted to see the hats. She was disappointed by the hats.

“You lied! There are no KITTIES in there!” (your guess is as good as mine on that one).

The entire ride, she bombarded me with millions of questions, trying to prove to every one that I REALLY WAS A DOLL. And she planned on keeping me. Apparently she hadn’t heard about human trafficking laws, but I’m sure she will when she is older.

A few minutes before they got off the bus, I handed her mom my business card.

“I usually make adult clothing. But if she really wants a rag doll that has this outfit, I could make one.”

‘Will it talk?” demanded the girl.

“No, ” I informed her. “Dolls can’t talk.”

I doubt that I actually will ever hear about the doll. But the little girl and her mother gave me a really wonderful present – one of acceptance. The little girl wasn’t afraid of me because of how I looked, and her mother wasn’t worried about the affect speaking with me would have. By now they will have forgotten about the woman in the funny dress. But for years to come, I will remember the young girl who swore with all her heart and soul that I would turn into a dolly after work.

 

A Case of Auto-Pilot and a Missing Key

Let’s face it, ladies and gentlemen- adults seem to busy to pay attention to the world around them.  We run through our lives spending half the time on autopilot while we think of other, more important things.  You know it’s true.  Maybe you came home from a really rough day at work. You walked through the door, you took off your coat. Then the next thing you know,  your on the sofa with some hot chocolate, or what ever always makes you feel better. You don’t remember getting it. You don’t remember  going to the sofa.

Or maybe you’re driving to work. you get into the car, you pull out of the drive way, and the next thing you know, you’re merging for the exit ramp. You don’t remember any of the drive. You don’t even remember changing lanes the first time.  (this brings up a question on whether or not adults should be permitted to drive, unsupervised. but I leave that to you to ponder today).

In both cases, you were on autopilot. You’re brain just didn’t care enough to pay attention. Besides, your body clearly could do everything all on it’s own, with out YOU to bother it.

I am often guilty of not paying attention. I search for my workshop keys for at least half an hour everyday. I can never find my glasses when I wake up in the morning. To find my cell phone when I’ve put it down, I have to call it and follow the ringtone like a bloodhound. I found it in the refridgerator once.

This week, however, I had the most amazing memory lapse in the history of my life. I lost the key to my work shop. Not as in  “oh, silly me, I put it in the icecream box!”, or “oh! It fell under the sofa!” I mean REALLY lost it. I ripped apart my house. And it was NOWHERE. SO then I spent a day prowling the streets of my neighborhood, examining sidewalks. No luck.

I should probably explain why I was so worried about this key. If you wanted to get VERY technical, I wasn’t supposed to have it. Sure, I worked for the school, and so obviously needed to be able to get into the costume workshop to do my job.  The administration felt differently. I wasn’t a full fledged teacher, so I was not, in their eyes, worthy of possessing the mystical magical key that let me in to a 10×20 ft windowless box that was tiled with asbestos. Because I might STEAL something.

Never mind the thousands of hours I log working on the productions. Never mind the fact that I was the one who restocked the first aid kit in the shop out of my own pocket because the school was too cheap.  And never mind the countless fundraisers I’d organized to get supplies and money for the costume shop. In their eyes, I was nothing more than a 5’10”, 160 lb., well corseted FELON.

The moral is that they didn’t want me to have this key.

So it would be no far stretch to think that the administration would dance a jig over me losing my illegitimate, bastard key. “Lost it, dearie? oh GOOD! Replace it, dearie? Oh, sweetheart, I don’t think we could!” So I started thinking up more and more far fetched plans for getting in and out of my workshop. How much did a lock pick set cost? Could a lock pick turn a dead bolt? Maybe I could borrow my boss’s key, and then get a copy made? All horrible ideas, especially the last one, since the key said DO NOT DUPLICATE, and it would have involved fraud, bribery and the cunning use of a micro mini skirt and a push up bra to get a new copy made.

As it got closer and closer to me having to tell my boss that I had lost the key, I became more and more panicked. I couldn’t sleep. I was too nauseous to eat.

And then, last night, my mother came home. She dropped her purse and her coat next to the phone, and looked over at the computer desk.

“Isn’t that the key you were looking for?” she asked me.

It had been sitting on the computer desk. Not hidden. It was placed neatly in front of the keyboard. I had spent three days looking for it, and yet had managed not to see it.

Was it simply a case of autopilot? Had I taken the key to the computer to use the USB attached to it, and gotten side tracked? Or had I realized in the middle of the act, that I was trying to use the WRONG USB, and so had gone to get the other, forgetting the first? Had I run out of coffee and needed to refill my cup, and then decided that coffee and brownies were perfect together, and so had decided to make brownies?

I may never know.

Personally, I am maintaining that my house is haunted by a poltergeist, that decided it was bored with my key, and was kind enough to return it.

The conclusion you draw from this tale is up to you. However, once you have finished reading this, I suggest you take a moment to look around you, and really look. other wise, next time it might be you, searching in vain for a missing object that is right in front of you!

Until next time… ::sinister laugh and creepy organ music::

The Death of a Sewing Machine

I have a sewing machine. My sewing machine is named Neffi. She is a Bernina, and she has seen me through many theater shows, and many sewing projects. My heart is broke.

Let me try this again. Up until 30 minutes ago i HAD a sewing machine. her name WAS Neffi, and she WAS a Bernina.

Now she’s just a stupid chunk of metal that only runs backwards. No. REALLY. She sews back wards.

At first i thought is was a jammed reverse button. No problem. Couldn’t I just jimmy it a little with a screw driver? HA! NO! not even with a CROWBAR. The button is fine. The button is NOT jammed. Neffi is just possessed by the devil.
And this brings up a disturbing question. if my sewing machine is possessed by the devil, then will the effects of the possession stop at just sewing backwards, and only doing a basting stitch length? What if my sewing skitters across the floor while I sleep and starts chanting voodoo curses in my ears, and then i wake up and I’m a 95 year old crone?

Do priest’s even DO exorcisms on machines? And if they do, then doesn’t that mean that my sewing machine has an eternal soul?

Perplexing. I leave you to ponder this.

The moral of the story is that my sewing machine broke and needs a doctor. In the mean time, I’m going to padlock it in a steamer trunk and bury it in the back yard. I don’t want it to put the voodoo-hoodoo on me!

A Stitch in Time Keeps the Doctor Away

Ah, my sporadic blog. How I love it.

I recently relocated funds (very paltry funds, used in conjunction with an army of coupons), to buy most of the materials to begin work on the constantly mentioned, but never seen (okay, well, now you can see it- isn’t it gorgeous?)

Antoinette Dress (Acheron Violet)

Original design for Antoinette dress set, by Mack McKamey August 29, 2012. For KSSD’s Vices&Virtues.

And while I was working on the actual sample, I decided to do something incredible stupid. I decided to make TWO dresses to go together as a set.  So I got the materials for the under-dress, and drafted out the pattern for that.

Antoinette Underdress

Original design for Antoinette under dress, by Mack McKamey, August 29 2012. For KSSD’s Vices&Virtues

 

So 5 yards of muslin later, I figure out the pattern. I redrafted the pattern on to paper and painstakingly marked every single seam allowance, every single notch, ever reinforced stitching line. I marked EVERYTHING.

With a slightly pounding hear, I traced out the pattern on the fabric, a dusty rose shantung that is currently worth more than my life, as far as I’m concerned. I got it cut out with out any incident. I transferred all of the pattern markings to the fabric with meticulous care. And then I sewed the stupid thing together wrong.

It’s true. The upper bodice, where I was supposed to gather it? I didn’t make the basting stitches go far enough, so when I gathered it, the bust would only really have fit a boy who had glued two apples to his chest. And to add insult to injury, I’d clipped the seam allowances BEFORE checking it on the mannequin. Stupid me. So now I have to re-cut the upper bodice (THANK GOBLINS that I thought to buy a little more fabric than I needed!!!!).

The moral of this story is that regardless of how carefully you plan, it is the actual execution that matters. t doesn’t matter if you spend a month perfecting a pattern and marking it. If you don’t put the same amount of attention and care into the garment you are sewing, you ill end up feeling the same way I did- stupid. Don’t be stupid. Take your time. Because it’s not how you get there, that counts. It’s what you have when you are done!