It seems like an eon since I’ve been here. A crazy summer with more work than a sane person should have to handle got in the way of a lot of things I wanted to do, then losing my job in late September further complicated things. It’s been an adjustment, as anyone in this situation surely understands… but, I have a roof over my head, food on my table and the things that matter most in life have really been my rock in the last few weeks, so I can’t complain. I’m going to be OK. If anything, the door has been opened to a lot of possibilities that I hadn’t considered even a month ago. It started with my entry into the 2012 Utah State Fair… an 1870s Victorian Natural Form gown, which to my utter shock ended up winning the Grand Prize Best of Show in the Home Arts department. That sure gave me a big shot of confidence for being able to market my sewing and craft items on my Etsy storefront. I have also started some of the most creative work I’ve been able to do in the last 14 years… with something as simple as my resumé and mini-portfolio. The only one approving this is me, which is quite a change. I’ve got so much on my plate now, but the main difference is that it’s no longer stressful. It’s finally starting to be….. fun!
I have been in the market for a graphics tablet at home for quite a while now, but just could not justify the cost. I’ve been watching prices for a while hoping to jump on a bargain when I see it. With the recent release of the new Wacom Intuos5, the Intuos4 is still available but at discounted prices as retailers close out old models to make room for the new. After reading about numerous driver problems with the 5, I decided to take a chance on the less expensive, closeout 4. I found a factory refurbished, even cheaper version of the 4, and with a cash back bonus balance on one of my credit cards, I was able to get this tablet at next to nothing compared to the price of a new 5. I decided on a small tablet, since it’s about the same size as my Air laptop and thus would be able to easily fit in the same bag for toting around. The tablet showed up on my doorstep a couple of days ago and I have been playing with it ever since. The only word I can use to describe this piece of electronic gadgetry is “addictive”…. holy cow! I am seriously surprised to learn what I’ve been missing. This thing is a dream to use, the learning curve is very small, and the results look like something straight out of my physical sketchbook, but with the added ability to layer, erase, move, and duplicate without destroying any of the parts of the artwork that I want to keep. The colors are endless, the brush styles numerous, and I have been enjoying being able to paint and draw again without all the mess and fuss of real paint and ink (which I still adore, but it’s just not as convenient or as portable). Here’s the tablet:
A few weeks ago I ran across some information for a very interesting sewing project called the The 1912 Project: Sewing the La Mode. This website is dedicated to test sewing and producing for public use a series of period clothing patterns taken from the 1912 issues of La Mode Illustrée, which was one of the premier fashion magazines of its era. 1912 was particularly chosen by the project founders to commemorate the 100 year anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic on April 15, 1912. These are the same the folks who run the Vintage Pattern Lending Library, a wonderful repository of vintage patterns available for checkout to the public for a modest fee; if you love to sew and love vintage/historical, and have never been to the VPLL, I highly suggest a visit. In any case, I felt some new enthusiasm for taking on another costuming project after reading about the group, so I contacted these folks to become involved. Well, things went from here to there, and now suddenly I discover myself to not only be sewing test patterns, but also to be one of a small group of Blog Editors for the site. One of my first tasks has been to create a set of paper dolls and blog badges based on the patterns being tested by site participants. I plan to start with the picture below, which is one of the test patterns currently available to project participants, as a base for the drawing of the female doll. I think she already has a PERFECT paper doll pose and not only that, she is a very sweet and attractive representation of the period. As I progress with the doll artwork, I will post updates to this blog.
I am working on a Victorian dress for this year’s round of SASS banquets. I’ve got to have this finished in a month and a half as we’re doing our first shoot the second week of June. This has actually been in the works since last fall, but the sewing room remodel project kind of upset the schedule. It’s taken me a while to get organized into the new space and figure out where I left off, and the dress is a little bit worse for wear from being moved around so many times with just pins holding everything together. The second problem is that I switched to my new sewing machine in the middle of it, so I’d say it’s not my best sewing effort since I have been trying to get used to the machine as I go. There are tension problems in a couple of places that I didn’t notice until it was all sewn up (fortunately, no where that stress will be an issue) and some of the spacing and stitch length isn’t right. However, I have learned that sewing is a process of flow…. and you have to go with the flow sometimes. 🙂
I had a bit different idea in mind when I started this dress, and after seeing the first few rounds of ruffles on the train, I decided to keep to the ruffle theme and so, box pleats which were going to be on the front turned into a tall ruffle instead. All of the ruffles are edged with handmade bias tape in a contrasting fabric to the main ruffle color. The colors are subtle and hard to see in the photograph although much more vibrant in person – for the pattern I have a striped silk taffeta in colors of peach, taupe, cream and golden yellow, while for the solid I have a silk taffeta in a plain golden yellow. This is a very different color choice for me as I usually tend to like darker, richer jewel colors, but it has been fun to work with. And I am loving silk taffeta…. this taffeta is SO crispy and nice and keeps whatever shape I make out of it.
So far I have just the underskirt finished. I am about 3/4 of the way done with a pannier overskirt using a Truly Victorian pattern, which I intend to drape differently via the use of ties than is indicated in the original pattern. I am as yet undecided about which bodice style to use. Is it a ball gown with a low neckline and short sleeves? A promenade dress? A dinner gown? ….
I’ve been offline for quite a while but there’s been a good reason for it… a home remodel of my sewing room, that turned out to be more work than either my husband or I had anticipated (well, aren’t they always more work than we think they will be?) I really truly had the best of intentions with this blog when I started it, but I’ve been documenting the house project rather loosely on my Facebook page instead of here because it just seems to be quicker to take the picture with the iPhone and do a fast upload and comment, when I am already there keeping up with my friend’s comings and goings. I don’t have a fancy digital camera so the pictures are crude in lighting and composition, but I’m glad I documented it anyway because the transformation of the sewing room was quite surprising to me at the end when I went back to those initial photos.
You can read more about the room here.
There is something very energizing about traveling to Portland to do the press checks of our fall dealer catalog. After months at the office wrestling with design-by-committee, tight deadlines, too many overtime hours and a general sense of frustration, it’s nice to have a few days away from the routine to see a project through to completion and get a fresh start on something new. Our print rep, Kristine, is always full of great creative ideas and I always come back from these week-long trips with a renewed perspective into my creative soul, which I know is there, but in the corporate side of graphic design, doesn’t really get a chance to shine. Between press times, which came about every 2-3 hours, I was able to visit a couple of art stores, some craft galleries, make more sketches in my sketchbook than the past 5 months combined, and visit a local arts festival called “Art in the Pearl”. Kristine brought in a stack of books on sketching and sketch booking, two of which I absolutely loved and ordered from Amazon right at the printing plant. The most valuable thing that she did for me was give me a link to a site called Urban Sketchers, which should prove to be a creative inspiration in the months to come, and is part of the springboard for this blog.