Saturday, August 31, 2013

More knit top necklines

I sewed for many, many years, making anything and everything from coats for myself to a sports jacket for Mr. C. But always I made what was on the pattern envelope.  Exactly.  After all, there are so many enticing patterns, and pairing a wonderful fabric to the right one seemed like choice enough.  I still can't keep myself from buying more patterns that I can ever hope to sew, but at the same time I've learned to take liberties with the designs, most especially where knit tops are concerned. 

Simplicity 4076
Once you have a knit top body that fits you, one that you find comfortable and flattering, it's easy to create different looks just by changing the neckline.  My TNT (tried-and-true) knit top body began as Simplicity  4076 which I refined with my usual alternations: narrower in the shoulders and back, wider in the hips.  I've made the surplice version, changed it to an above-the-bust surplice style; made the view with the gathers in the front, then raised the neckline slightly on subsequent versions.  And then I started looking around for other interesting neckline detailing to put more variation into my wardrobe of knit tops.

Last year I did a short post on knit top necklines, but here I'd like to show you in more detail exactly how I graft other necklines onto an existing pattern.  Keep in mind that I've taken no pattern drafting classes or the like, so this is a somewhat trial-and-error method.  But, with a little (or to be honest, a lot) of patience and some experimentation, you should be able to achieve satisfactory results.

Monday, August 26, 2013

My Etsy shop is open!

I know I must have an entrepreneurial gene.  It sent me around our neighborhood when I was kid selling greeting cards and such and made me consider trying to earn some money sewing when I was first married, but it has mostly lain dormant.  It showed some signs of life in the late 90s when I glazed and stenciled a whole bunch of flower pots and had a booth one year during the Munger Place home tour, at the end of which I stashed the remaining pots in a cabinet along with all the lovely little business cards I made. (The pots have made handy occasional gifts over the years.)  When my friend Linda and I go to art festivals every year we always fantasize about being one of those vendors, selling our creations to the eager throngs. But, frankly, I know I couldn't take sitting there smiling stiffly and making small talk with those throngs for hours on end.  So...what about an online shop?

I've been eyeing Etsy ever since I discovered it, considering what I might make and sell.  Printed and dyed scarves?  Something digital?  Or how about those mini crossbody bags that I made for myself recently?   Possibilities I still might pursue.  But what I am now actually offering in my Etsy shop is vintage: clothes, shoes and sewing patterns.  To be specific, my own clothes, shoes and sewing patterns.

I named my shop All of My Yesterdays because this is my past in silk, cotton, linen, and, yes, in polyester.  This is my coming-of-age in mini-dresses and maxi-dresses, and my career years in a whole range of outfits.  Lots of mauves and roses and lavenders and a predilection toward the feminine.  (Well, I was a woman who came home, donned overalls and stripped paint off of woodwork and knocked down old plaster walls.)  I started out sewing Vogue patterns back when I was young and impoverished, and I kept on sewing even when I worked in department stores and had both the means and the daily opportunity (not to mention the employee discount) to buy ready-made.

So, indeed, I had a lot of clothes.  And shoes.  And sewing patterns.  That is, I still have them, or a good many of them because a large old house has a nice large attic. And then they went to a storage unit.  But now they've come home, and they're filling my dining room and a good portion of a spare bedroom.  I decided that I no longer needed to hold on to this tangible part of my past, keeping them forever packed away.  But neither could I bring myself to simply haul them off and donate them, knowing they would be just more anonymous garments squeezed on racks and pawed over indiscriminately. How sad would they be!  (Okay, I tend to anthropomorphize my possessions a bit.)

Thus an Etsy shop seemed just the solution.  I would get to try my hand at selling something (with all the work done comfortably at home), and my retro wardrobe would have a chance to find its way to happy new wearers.  I hope.  I only opened my shop yesterday, and I'm not waiting for my first sale with bated breath.  Whatever happens, the whole experience of setting up the shop has been interesting.  And labor intensive, but, then, I do tend to do things thoroughly.  Beyond the major tasks of prepping the garments and photographing them, there are also details like shipping and payments to become informed about.  Etsy has reams of info on all the things to take into consideration when writing, for example, your profile, your policies, your About page, etc.  It can be both instructive and overwhelming.  On the daily Etsy Finds email where they frequently feature a shop, a woman said that she opened her shop on a whim one afternoon when her son was staying home sick from school.  Huh?!

Anyway, I'm giving it a try.  So far I only have ten garments listed which seems paltry for the amount of time I've put into it, but I'm now over that doing-something-new-getting-it-right stage, so I think things will go more smoothly and quickly, or so I hope.  At this point I'd need to be charging a couple of hundred dollars or more per garment if I wanted to be justly compensated for my time.  There were certainly a few occasions when I seriously questioned my decision to do this. But once begun, I felt I had to see it through. And I have enjoyed revisiting my wardrobe: examining, cleaning, pressing, photographing and writing about each garment.  Remembering when I wore it, who I was then.   

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Illustration Friday - Fresh

 I found this charming school girl in stockvault's free photos, and I thought she looked like the essence of fresh in her pristine white blouse.  She has her fresh, new notebook open, ready to write down what she is learning. (Perhaps a French lesson, and she is dreaming of the day when she will go to Paris.)  You can see the original photo on this stockvault link; I made a few changes, removing an item at the edge of the desk and most of print from the book, plus another ornament that was in her hair.  Then I made several copies on which I used different filters, blend modes and masks to arrive at the image you see here; I also changed the color of her jumper from black to dark blue and added the edge of the paper that overhangs the desk.

For the background, I used an abstract golden background I had previously made, on top of which I layered several photos of foliage in various blend modes simply to add texture and color and complexity.  The final step was the daisies (fresh as a daisy!) which I cut out from a photo from stock.xchng.

I never know what I will eventually think about each illustration I do until some time has passed and I can look at it more objectively.  When I have just finished one, I am usually somewhat amazed at what has taken shape from this combination of assorted elements, and there are always certain details that I am especially pleased with, that seem just right. So it is with this, and I hope it gives you a moment of enjoyment to view, as it gave me much enjoyment to make.