This is my first entry into the Project Sewn competition. The theme for this particular week was fashion icon. I mulled over this one for a whole month, not knowing what to do and finally, when I did start sewing, things took their own turn. A turn, I’m happy to say, ended up working. I chose Katharine Hepburn as my icon and before you say, “You’re outfit doesn’t look anything like Katharine Hepburn,” let me explain. I chose Katharine because of her tendency to sport menswear and its one that I’ve found myself favoring a lot in the past year or so (ever since the pixie cut). I look good in masculine type cuts, yet with lots of splashes of femininity. This ensemble? Case in point.
The opportunity to create a small mini wardrobe from this competition has been soooooooooooo fun. One of those “aha” moments where you finally get the point of what it means to create a wardrobe – that’s what its been like for me. This first entry incorporates so many details that are well, so much apart of my daily uniform. Pants/trousers (a must for a gal on the go like me), one hell of a jacket and a lovely little top. I’m finding more and more that jackets are my thing. Good gravy, I love a good jacket! I created a rub-off pattern from my favorite jacket of all time for this one! For the most part, since this was the first time making up the pattern, I opted to go with the details of the original jacket. Except the pocket – had to do something a little bit different there and I added bound buttonholes. The interesting thing about this jacket is that the body is comprised of 3 main pieces – jacket front, side and back whereas usually most jackets are comprised of more pieces. The fit is perfect for me, the whole reason I rubbed off a pattern from the original. PERFECT! The jacket was fusibly tailored and took a good chunk of my time frame, but I’m so happy with it I could shout for joy, which is exactly what I did! I also have to add that this green texturized wool – it loved being tailored. Seriously, loved it. Ate it up. Did exactly what I wanted it to do and the best part – you can still get it here.
The pants are my Burda 7447 (sadly out of print now, AAACCKKK!). A TNT (tried and true pattern). I made a few more tweaks from the last time I made it – admittedly, it takes a few times to get all the kinks out of a pattern. Love these though. Made from a plain weave navy wool suiting from my shop. This wool has some pretty lovely drape and they look so nice as pants. So nice. I realized something about pants and me and this is good because I’ve needed to realize this for some time now. Originally, I was planning to knock off Katharine Hepburn’s wide legged men’s trousers. I created a pattern from my TNT and I’m finally coming to the realization that I really really don’t like the way wide legged trousers look on me (or it could be that I just haven’t found a pattern that I feel flatters me). I don’t look long and lean and swanky. I look doudy and frumpy and blah. I have stumpy legs. I’ve always known this. And tapered (yes, I just typed tapered!) trousers look good on me. Oh. my. goodness. Did I just admit that my mom’s 80′s trousers look good on me? Why yes. Yes I did. Fully lined in bemberg rayon, these lovelies are pretty much pj’s to wear. Sigh.
My top is just a simple shell made from Newlook 6483 and tops are well, a new thing that I really need to get in the habit of making more of. I don’t have enough tops and I don’t make enough tops. And there is a huge, deep and dark void in my closet and if I’m honest, a good portion of my wardrobe doesn’t get worn because I have no tops to go with the things I make. The interesting part about this top is that it was the hardest part of this particular outfit. I don’t know about you, but bias bound edges are not my friend. Oh my gosh! I hate bias binding so much (at least when done in silk charmeuse)! However, the top really does complete this outfit giving it instant fun and color. Pulls the whole thing together in a pretty brilliant way. I used a silk crepe from Mood and underlined the blouse and bias bound the neckline and armholes in silk charmeuse from my shop.
Don’t know if you noticed, but in the past year I didn’t share a lot of makes. I was doing a lot of soul searching and finding a style that captures my personality. Sure it’s not original, but this look gives you a much more…. authentic representation of myself than I’ve ever really given here before. Knowing what looks good on me, what feels good on me and how I like to express my personality through my dress has been a real eye opening experience in the past year. And that, in and of itself, really feels good. I’ve loved where this journey is taking me.
Now, hop on over to Project Sewn and vote for your favorite creation – and I do mean favorite, because you know, my creation may not be your favorite and that’s A. OK. I’m just loving the challenge to create a fresh wardrobe of things that I’ll actually wear, on a daily basis. However, this is not to say that I wouldn’t love your vote, because I really, really would. Enjoy friends. Now off to put the finishing touches on something pink!
Oh my goodness – time flies! I can’t actually believe that January has come and gone. Wow! I have lots and lots of things to update you on and I thought, since we just finished with it, I should show you the new Fashionable Stitch Classroom. To fill you in, this is the basement section of our fabric shop. This is where I used to teach classes when it was Yellow Bird Fabrics and now that we’ve renovated it, I’ll be teaching a very light load once again.
I taught in the basement for over a year before buying out the business from the previous owner and though I thought it was perfectly adequate, I did have revisions in mind. So, when we bought the business, I decided to shut down the classroom because 1) I didn’t have time to teach classes anymore and 2) I wanted to revamp the entire downstairs.
Sadly, as per my usual, there are no before photos of the classroom, but having spent so much time on renovating it, I do have to say it was kind of…. bad. Several customers and some of my own students said as much and I had been asked many many times if we were going to move to a different building or area. One of my ladies even alluded to the fact that I charged a fairly substantial fee for my classes and hmmmm…. the area the classes were held in was, well, not as substantial. At first, I was quite taken aback, but I’ve come to realize the truth in these comments.
Now the classroom is actually quite charming. It’s still a basement, don’t get me wrong, but the changes we made and incorporated are quite wonderful. It’s more of a sewing sanctuary now and well, it actually makes me want to go over to the shop all the time and sewwwwww. Some of the changes we made? We painted the duct work, which used to be its normal metal color. We also painted the floor which was in dire need of a new paint job. D-I-R-E. There were lots of stains and such on the floor and it was rather yucky. We changed the orientation of the downstairs. The sewing machines are now out in the open whereas before they were in a stifled square-ish space with no natural light. There are now two cutting/drafting tables. One thing I noticed when I was teaching is that there was never enough cutting and drafting room. We have decent sewing machines to sew on and a couple of sergers too. Additionally, all the tools needed for cutting, drafting, sewing and such are all apart of the classroom. We painted and hung several peg boards around the place for organization (I LOVE pegboard) and we put down a few colorful rugs to warm up the place. It’s really really sweet and fun and I’m pretty sure that it will be receiving some serious love in the future. Hip Hip Hooray!
And now that the classroom is finished, its time we got back to having actual classes down there. I’ve decided that I’ll be teaching once again – a very very light load – starting in March. We’ve also got new teachers lined up! Miriam Tribe of Mad Mim will be teaching classes. Sheesh! Her classes are very exciting and I have to say that I’m so glad to have Miriam on board. She’s teaching some classes that I had been asked about and didn’t have a lot of interest in teaching, so its really nice to have some variety. Want to see what’s on the docket for February? Hop over here! Additionally, we have a few more teachers coming on board and they will be rather amazing, if I do say so myself. It makes me giddy just to think about it! yay!
It’s also very very possible, that we might start filming some of these classes (in the classroom, of course) and putting them online for purchase. Now that would be exciting, right?
If you live in Utah, you should definitely sign up for our newsletter and make a point of coming to a class. We would LOVE to have you! And if you don’t live in Utah, if you’re ever in the area, you should stop by our shop and at least see the classroom. Oh the fun we’ll have down in the little sewing sanctuary! Yay!
To everyone! Thank you for your comments on my last post about a certain comment. I’ve taken the post down because honestly, I’m not feeling good about it anymore. I think you can all relate when you’ve made mistakes and I do feel maybe, it was a mistake to address this particular comment in this way. I’m definitely human and I totally make mistakes – I’m just a regular gal, you know. Also, I know many of you are concerned about the legalities of my employee co-op situation. I’ve looked into it and its legal (in the state of Utah) and for future, I’ll refer to it as a volunteer situation as that more aptly describes how things are working at this moment in time. I’m not going to go into specifics, but all the bases are covered. Many, many have given advice to me about disclosing more than I should. Thank you for your concern. I really do appreciate it and I’ll give it some more thought as I go forward in this new venture. For now, let’s get back to the business of sewing, shall we?
I’m a contestant for Season 3 of Project Sewn. I gave a small hint back in December about it (something to the effect of I would be making a whole new wardrobe) and now we’ve got about a month to go before its here. I thought it would be fun to give you a little insight into my thoughts for this upcoming competition. All my ideas are sketched out and ready to be sewn and I’ve gotten to work on my first project and almost have it completed. I’m running just a little behind, but I think I’ll end up being just fine.
The wonderful ladies who run Project Sewn gave us all of the info that we would need by early December. Yes. They are awesome. For some crazy reason, I assumed the challenges were one week challenges meaning that you would have to complete an entire outfit in one week and that scared the living daylights out of me. Thankfully, that is not the case. They give you plenty of time to get ready and produce some really high quality material for the challenges. This is actually really really good for me. When December finally rolled around, I hadn’t touched my machine in weeks. During December, I barely touched it too, but I have come to realize that deadlines are a good thing for my sewing productivity. I’ve started making my outfits and have given myself some specific timelines for when certain things need to be accomplished. I have come to realize over the years that this really works well for me. I know deadlines don’t work for everyone, but I will say, they definitely work for me. This turned out to be quite fortuitous as it has not only challenged me but it will give me a whole new mini wardrobe in the end. So awesome.
The whole concept of me being in this competition was something I found, well, interesting. The challenges are not easy for me because I am someone who has at long last come to the realization that what I would love to sew and what I actually wear are two different things. I mean, I came to this realization a couple of years ago and have been striving only to make wearable garments since then. But the idea of being in a competition and not being able to wow anyone with everyday wardrobe items kind of killed my enthusiasm – at first. I was very much against the idea of creating anything costumey. Like at all. I chatted with my mister about it and he agreed. It was very important that I create items that I would wear again and again and reach for all the time. So I will be creating only garments that are part of my everyday uniform of sorts for this competition. I have to tell you, I’m soooooo excited for you to see everything I’ll be making. I’ll be unveiling everything in due time, even if I’m not the lucky winner (which I’m totally A.OK with, I mean this is just friendly competition and I’m very excited to be apart of it).
I’m also very excited to see what the other ladies come up with. This is what makes this contest so fun to watch. The line-up of participants is pretty great and I’m quite sure we’ll all be wowed by the makes. Sheesh! Excitement abounds folks! Hip Hip Hooray!
Have you ever participated in a sewing competition? How do deadlines work for you? And seriously, what about making items that you will wear everyday? Is it hard, or is that just me?
I thought this might be fun to start and admittedly I love reading Tasia’s posts on her burgeoning business every month. I’ve always found posts like these interesting because I really do want to know what its like to own a small business and make ends meet with it. So now that I’m adding a new perspective to the table – owning a brick and mortar fabric store – I thought you all might want to know more about what goes on and how things are run here at A Fashionable Stitch.
I like to think of our little shop as a fabric boutique because, yes it’s small. We are not a Hancock or Joann and honestly, that’s good because these chain stores do have their place and they do provide things that we really don’t have the room to provide. For instance, we don’t sell buttons currently. After a lot of thought about this too, I don’t know that we will sell buttons because buttons can take up quite a bit of room and eat up quite a bit of capital. And our shop’s physical location is right in between a Hancock and a Joann, so we have to have a different focus when it comes to what we are going to sell. We rent a location that was once a little house. The property has been commercialized and we have our own parking lot and such. The upstairs area is dedicated to the retail space while the basement is dedicated to the classroom (which we’re in the process of revamping) and the online shop storage area.
Owning a business is kind of like owning a house, especially in respect to the maintenance of the building. It’s been snowing quite a bit this December and sheesh! I have to keep on top of shoveling and having ice melt on hand so that people don’t fall and break their neck! Yup, as a business owner you have to worry about these things. Just one more hat to wear!
Keeping afloat in December
I’ve noticed this trend with my online shop as well as with a brick and mortar. Also my dad was self employed growing up too (lawyer) and it was murder! December is the worst month of the year as far as revenue goes. I would be totally lying if I didn’t say that I was a bit disheartened this past month as this was my first month as a brick and mortar shop owner and seeing the bills that need to be paid and the money that’s come in is quite tight. I think it really comes down to the idea of gifts during December. And this involves changing your entire idea about merchandising for a month or so (probably starting in November really) and you have to start thinking in terms of, “Well, if I were a spouse/significant other looking to give a gift to my sweetheart, then I need something shiny and all put together.” These are things that definitely need to be re-considered and brainstormed for next year, but I will say that we have some really exciting things planned for next year. Now, off to write them down and put in a place that will not be forgotten!
Buying fabric for a shop
Probably the number one question I receive about my online shop is, “Where do you find all these notions and supplies you have here?” Sometimes I don’t know if people really want to know or if its just a passing question, but I will say that finding suppliers/sources is hard work. Oh. My. Goodness. Part of buying a fabric store is buying the suppliers list. People do not share this information. They protect it with their lives! So I am glad to have a suppliers list to start with. I’m also growing my own list and its been interesting. I have to keep on top of the needs and wants of the shop. I want so many different options for the shop and yet, there are needs that have to be maintained like having a selection of bridal fabrics and laces (we have a lot of weddings here in Utah year round!) and things like cotton batiste and specific colors of silk shantung and dupioni all have to be in stock and ready for purchase. Then there is a growing list of wants. I want all these different types of fabrics and what’s worse is to be perfectly candid, I could care less about wedding dress fabrics! Ha! So I become torn by things that I want and things that I have to have. Sometimes its definitely about selling items that you don’t care to sell. Strange, but interesting.
Out with the old, in with the new
One of the main focuses of December for the shop has been getting rid of the merchandise that’s not selling. You have to be creative when you are up against things that don’t sell. My mother instilled in me the idea that much in life is about presentation. And to be honest, this is sooooo true. Sometimes when items aren’t presented well they don’t sell – so true in so many facets of life! I’ll give you a few examples. With the purchase of this shop came the acquisition of what seems like 5 billion really old trims and ribbons. I had worked at Yellow Bird Fabrics for over a year and had never seen these trims move. Ever. The trims aren’t necessarily bad, they are just rather project specific and as such they rarely get bought. One of the first things I did when I took over was to go through all the trims and fish out all the ones that really needed to move and hadn’t. Cut those up, put them in 3 yard bundles with a few other colors of ribbon and Voila! Instant color and cuteness by the register. And they are usable! They aren’t just junk. They can be used in clothing or as gift wrapping ribbons and trims.
We also decided to get some fabric moving too by cutting several of the bolts into remnants. One of my ladies said that she used to work at a fabric store that had a marvelous remnant rack and it’s something that we’ll be utilizing too. The majority of the remnants are at least 2 yards, so they work well to actually make something out of. No 1/2 yard or 1/4 yard remnants here!
Additionally, we had a roll of rayon that had not sold a single yard. Such a pretty rayon too – great for a dress. But it was cream colored and well, boring. I dyed the yardage (with good quality dye, mind you) into two different colorways. The end result was really cool actually as the zig-zag stitching took the dye more than the rest of the fabric. Again, just a presentation/vision thing really, but it makes a big difference in seeing the potential in something that you hadn’t considered before.
I think that’s it for December’s Behind the Scenes. Gosh, I can’t believe December is already gone! I’ll admit, this has been hard. I’ve been very much consumed by this whole entrepreneur thing (as I should be, I think) and that’s been both good and bad. I sewed but a very little bit in the last part of December and that’s something that has to change. I love sewing and I don’t want to just give it up because I’m a shop owner. So I’ve actually been sewing quite a bit in January. Almost finished with a jacket (which I started January 1st)! Yay! Priorities have to be set. If you never make time to work on the things that you enjoy, you never will. I could work on the shop all the time everyday, but its not what I want to do all the time. So setting limits and parameters is very important. I’m learning that bit by bit.
Happy New Year Everyone! I hope you’re all enjoying a day off – I know I am – and that you have time to do a little reflecting and a little looking forward. I suppose not too much of this though because if there is one thing I’ve learned over the years its that I take myself much to seriously and well, there’s an art to being able to let things go and let things happen the way they are going to happen to a certain extent. Anyhow, or anyway, here’s to the good and bad from 2013 and a cheer for the good and bad yet to come. Hip Hip Hooray!
All my best for you and yours,Sunni