Well friends, thanks so much for your feedback, insight and encouragement in my last post. Meant so much, I’m at a loss for words really. But I will say that I’m going to help you get to know what goes on in my shop, how it works and everything that we offer more in the ensuing weeks. All of your suggestions gave me such boost! Much needed! Thank you! For today, I bring you:
Simplicity 1620. Just the blouse portion. The pants are a BurdaStyle pattern, back actually from my Pink Walrus outfit that I did for Project Sewn in February. That seems so long ago and interestingly enough, they don’t look as good as they did because I’ve lost some weight. Yikes! I mean normally I’m all for having a little trim and fit body, but mine has come as a result of stress and not because I’ve actually been workin it like a gangsta. I think though, we’re back on the road to filling these pants out the good and proper way – with lots of sugar and bread, aka, my comfort foods! Ha ha!
Anyway, back to the blouse. Its a really super simple, super easy blouse. Pretty much a rectangle with a few tricks like a yoke and some pleat action. I was gingerly fishing through my rather extensive UFO stack (I am committed to its desolation this year) and found this skirt (which is the fabric you see in the bottom portion of the blouse). You’ve seen it here and here and it’s a lovely silk charmeuse. It was one of those skirts that I loved because of the lush fabric and the lush print but never wore because of the fit and style. I tried ditching the original waistband treatment for an elastic waist instead, but well, I seriously, seriously, seriously can’t do the gathered skirt thing. I try and I try but it looks so desperately strange on my figure. So it was time to regroup and rethink what this skirt really needed to be.
And it needed to be a top. For a couple of reasons. Though it was beautiful as a skirt, it will last longer and get worn more often as a blouse – case in point as I’ve already worn it many more times than I ever wore it as a skirt. Secondly, I love the shine of silk charmeuse but it can look more evening that I want it to when worn a certain way and well, even though this blouse is solid silk, I think it can do casual very well. I mean, come on, jeans, kitten heels and a little jacket. Done! Sold! Thank you very much!
I did do a muslin of this top. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t, but I didn’t want to risk anything with this fabric since I didn’t have very much to begin with. The fit was spot on (I made a solid 14, my usual, even though my measurements put me in a 16 – oh Big 4, why?!?!?) and I did a little nip and tuck at the neckline because it was trying to flop about. From there the blouse came together fairly easily. I added a fish tail hem as I’ve found that for me, this style looks really nice. I’m still, still trying to master bias bound necklines. I hate these things. Probably because I insist on doing them in fabrics that are hard to deal with in this way. I mean, silk crepe de chine (the yoke portion of the blouse) is pretty fussy in a bias bound sort of way. Slay me! But I managed. It’s the best I’ve done so far and that’s sayin something. I found Jen’s tutorial helpful and I also found that smaller is better when dealing with bias bound necklines. Meaning that I found that doing a 1/4″ seam allowance (used 1″ wide bias binding) works better than dealing with larger widths. The smaller the better in this case.
I already have the next
one two versions of this top cut and sewn – love this top that much! I’ve been wearing all three a lot. I’ll definitely post up the other two versions soon. Ha ha! Tops are scarce about these parts and we’re reaching critical levels of sartorially challenged mornings in front of my closet wondering why I don’t get my fanny in gear and make more tops. This pattern was just the ticket. Not hard at all, fits easily and simply and is only 4 main pieces to cut out. I’m considering a dress too. And I really like the jacket from this pattern as well. Simple silhouettes that are easy to style with other pieces, but also really easy to get creative with and easy to sew. Totally down with that.
Are you a fan of these types of tops? The woven t-shirt if you will? Bout time I hopped on this train. Choo! Choo!
This post has been quite some time in coming. It’s something that I’ve been thinking about a lot and something that has taken a toll on me since becoming a brick and mortar shop owner. But it has to be said and I have to tell you why.
I’m going to be 100% honest. My brick and mortar business, as of right now, is in some choppy waters. There are many reasons for that, but one of the biggest reasons is that we need more enthusiastic customers supporting small business. Now let’s not confuse this with my online shop which is doing marvelously. I’m proud to be able to offer supplies, notions and fabrics to customers worldwide. It’s one of the reasons I felt that opening up a brick and mortar would be the next step. Crazy thing is, these two types of businesses could not be more different! It’s been a huge wake-up call for me, on so many levels. I’ll be honest about that too – it’s almost broken me. Yup. There has been so much fallout – personally and professionally – from becoming a brick and mortar shop owner that I’ve been right on that edge of jumping ship with basically my entire life as I know it right now. Oh my goodness! It’s HARD!
It being hard for me though is not the reason you should support the small businesses in your area. Those problems are my own. However, unless we want the world of apparel sewing commerce to be eaten up by those big box chain stores the world over, we all need to become part of the solution. I can’t tell you how many times in a day I hear customers come into my shop and say, “Gosh, you have such lovely fabric. Why doesn’t anyone else carry these types of fabrics anymore?” I think that’s a great question. But I think the more important question to ask, in my humble opinion, is “Why do we keep those big box stores in business even though they don’t carry the kinds of fabrics, notions and supplies that we want?” Now, believe me. I know that so many of you live in an area where those big box stores are the only stores. And granted there are many things still that we as a small business are unable to offer that the big box stores can offer, just by virtue of being so big. Doesn’t mean I, personally as a shop owner, am not working to improve that. Just means that I can’t provide everything right now (like buttons….). I don’t have the full answer to all of this right now, but supporting the little guys first will give us a fighting chance at survival.
Over the fall, I was on a You’ve Got Mail kick. So apropos considering what I was about to face! If you’ve never seen the movie, it sheds light on the exact situation I find myself in today. The idea that small business – one that is driven by service, knowledgeable staff and quality product – is not what we as a society want. We want the cheap. We want the affordable. We want the discounts. We want everything! No matter the cost! I have to tell you what the cost is.
In this scenario, the cost is, my shop will close. That means that everyone who comes to us because they want actual bridal lace or actual lace in general, or they want actual silk (not polyester labeled as silky) or they want actual wool, or they want cotton that is actually as smooth and lovely as silk, or fine linens or high quality double knits and knits will be forced to go to those big box chain stores and make do. Sure there are a few diamond in the roughs that can be had there, but what is that compared to an entire shop that is a diamond in the rough? Not only that, our expert advice and help will not be available. Our classes – which are far more than just making a pair of ill fitting pajama pants – will not be available. Our service will not be available and instead you can stand, fuming, in line waiting for your fabric to be cut at one of those big box chain stores.
I’m going to say it again. Please, please support the little guys! Support us! Give us a chance first and I can promise that you won’t be disappointed. You may not find exactly what you need from us, but we’ll have such a great time scheming and giving you some expert guidance that you’ll come in again, just by virtue of knowing that we not only deliver the goods, we deliver them with a smile and a sewing tip!
Now weigh in! Give me your feedback. I’ve given you mine, from the viewpoint of a slightly strung out shop owner. I only ask that you please be respectful – but hey if you don’t agree with me here, tell me why!
The mister and I have been spending some intense quality time together lately. Yeah, intense is definitely the word here. It’s a good thing, not to worry, because we’ve really needed it. Whilst spending so much time together, I began to take notice of some needs. I’m one of those lucky gals whose husband rarely asks her for anything – in so many words – but as I look at the state of his wardrobe lately, I know he could use a little help from a girl like me. Enter now, Mr. AFS in new jeans! Yay! Keep your wigs on ladies, this man is taken and so are those jeans!
Sometimes desperate times call for desperate measures and I have been taught all of my life the value of how to stretch a dollar. Doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice quality of any sort, it just more or less means that you’ve got to start diggin in to what you got. I have a rather substantial stash (and a fabric store, ha ha) and I’ve got the skills, and in these days of struggle and strife I’ve been turning to that stash and noticing an abundance of not just fabric, but supplies, patterns and more! Sometimes it really is the little things – or in this case a bigger thing – that can help bring a smile to your face. I’ve been a hoardin denim like they stopped making it. I had several cuts of denim for the mister to dig through and decide on which he liked and wanted. He made an eye for this particular wash/color denim and then I made him cough up a pair of old standby jeans that I could take a pattern from.
After copying those suckers, I made up a muslin, just to test the fit and make sure we were where he wanted to be. Easy as pie really. Mr. AFS, rather sweetly and with just a tad bit of pride said that he had absolutely no idea how I do such things. Sigh…. That man. After the muslin was fitted, with a just a few minor tweaks, I set off to make him some jeans he would actually wear. He wanted them distressed. Ugh. I mean, its not hard really, just time consuming. But I did it. I used sandpaper for the distressing and it worked like a charm. Once I had things well on their way, the mister said he wanted some color somewhere. Something he said about his coat too. So I threw in some red topstitching with the regular old denim topstitching.
He’s been wearing these puppies for about a week now. Loves em so much, he won’t take them off and let me wash them! Now that’s a good feeling! Ha ha!
And speaking of, I need to make myself a pair of jeans pretty soon here too. Ah jeans! The holy grail right? What’s not to love about a good pair of old standbys?
Friends, thank you for your sweet sentiments in my last post. I needed a break. A good long break. It’s not been without some serious heartache and soul searching – boy, there was a lot of soul searching in there – and it was ultimately much needed. For quite some time, I’ve felt that my priorities were out of whack and it took a real slap in the head to remember exactly what those priorities are. My love for a physical shop was proving, well rather destructive as I seemed to be loving it over everything else in my life. It’s been loved and cared for above myself and above my marriage. I think owning a physical store has a huge time commitment tied in with it. I mean of course it does! Unfortunately I’ve felt that I am the only one capable of doing so many things at the shop – something needs to be done, well I’ll do it myself! You know, that feeling where no one else could do it quite like you and so its just easier for you to do it yourself. Yeah, I’ve felt a lot of that lately and its silly because I have a marvelous staff of ladies who help me run this little burgeoning business and I also have a pretty fantastic mister who comes in pretty handy pretty much all the time. Another thing I’ve learned – I don’t tell these wonderful people how wonderful they are often enough. We’re working on that part. I’m working on that part.
I’m also working on the part about myself. Trusting myself and my instincts again. That will take time and I still have more soul searching to do, but I’m feeling much more confident day by day.
Anyway, speaking of getting back to business, the online shop is now back open! Happy day! There’s still a few things out of stock, but not worry! They should all be back in stock within the next two weeks. Plus more fun new goodies on the way. Yay! And while I’m at it, thank you for your support of my online shop over the years and also for your support of me. Now, back to the good things in life, eh? Hip Hip Hooray!
Hi Friends! Things have been happening at a rather alarming pace and well, I’ve decided to officially take a blogging break. I mean, it’s not like you wouldn’t know that with me not posting for a couple of weeks here already, but since I’ve received a few friendly emails inquiring about my whereabouts, I thought I would make an official announcement. A blogging break it is.
I’m not sure how long its going to be. I just need a break from things that are giving me creative pause and my blog has been giving me creative pause for some time now. Hard to admit, for sure, but its true. I love blogging and I want to bring you great info, but I can’t do that when I’m feeling burned out and a little bored by it. So I’m going to be having a little blogging retreat to try and rejuvenate my thoughts about where I want to go from here. I imagine it will be a couple more weeks before you see me around here again.
The online shop is also going to be closed for a bit. We’re reaching critically low levels of stock and I need to work on getting that back up.
I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I wasn’t in an intense season of life at the moment. I’m working on becoming balanced. Yup, that’s the word. Balanced. I think a break is just the thing. See you soon!