Sunday, May 22, 2011

The story of a bespoke P&E

The last couple of days have seen me busily attending to a custom order for a lovely repeat P&E customer. Before I go on, can I just say that repeat customers give me the warm and fuzzies. As if it's not flattering enough that someone wants to buy the things you make, some people like to buy them again! And in Yolanda's case, AGAIN! So thanks. It feels good, and it's fun for me, and you like wearing my clothes, so seems like no losers in this situation.
While I was sewing, I was actually organised enough to take some pictures of my progress, so that I could assemble a bit of a photo essay showing what exactly goes into me making a custom piece for my sweet ol' clients.
Yolanda's order came through Georgie Love, so I first got the heads up from Sal. I then emailed Yolanda direct, to confirm what she wanted: 2 dresses, a wrap 'n go, and a skirt like the black deadwood-inspired one I made a few weeks ago. Okie dokie. Yolanda's dealt with me before, and knows I'm generally trustworthy and fairly familiar with what she's into, so was happy to give me pretty free reign on this order. Super fun times!
Firstly, I set Florence to exactly Yolanda's measurements.

Olive likes to help me with this - I think, after me, she's Florance's biggest fan.

It's my favourite time of year right now, and the days have been spectacular, so I've been working with Florence on our super-lovely verandah. Lucky me, I know...

Yolanda had ordered a dress, so I had a look through my collection of vintage patterns to see if I had anything suitable.

I ended up picking out a 50s pattern with a V neck (one of Yolanda's requests), which I then modified to include an A line skirt (another request). Easy peasy. Now for the fabric. I recently acquired a pretty spesh tablecloth, made from some kind of wacky giant flower print. Actually, it's not really that wacky I guess. Unusual, yes, but very very beautiful. This one for the dress.

Other specs included 'birds, leaves, earthy tones', so I picked out some of them too. Once I have my fabric collected, and I make sure I have enough (especially problematic for dresses as they use up quite large pieces, which are not always easy to come by when you're working with vintage finds) I start to cut out.

When I'm working with a pattern, and I have to say right here that this is a minority of cases as I generally find them good for inspiration but over-complicated to actually use, I use the above method for holding the paper in place. Borrowed from my lovely, talented and inspirational friend Nicole, this method involves the use of cans of food (and jars of sewing oddments) instead of pins, which can and do damage fabric and paper patterns, especially if you're using them over and over.

Now, because my patterns are of various sizes, a fair amount of adjustment goes into making them fit my client exactly. This is where I get serious with my pins, held safely and handily in my trusty wrist-holster-pin-cushion. Yee har! I pin the garment together on Florence, so it fits snugly in all the right places, and hangs just so. I really like this bit, as it's the first time I get to see how the garment is actually going to look.

After she's pinned, I sew it all together on the trusty Combi DX and voila! Frockage complete.

I have to admit I was a little bit pleased with myself when I tried this dress on Florence, and kind of wished I'd made it for myself. It's hot. And matches my kids' bucket and toy truck perfectly. Just what you've always wanted, right?

The second dress featured a square neck, as per Yolanda's request, and is made using a cute little pattern I made a few years ago. It's bias cut, for flattering snug-fitting-ness, and has a little tie belt. If you look here you can see another one I made a few months ago. The style also works well without the belt when you're pregnant, as Pearl found out the summer before Oscar was born.

I'm usually a huge fan of scoop necks (just because I like them for myself and am such an egomaniac I assume that means everyone else likes them too) so was slightly apprehensive about making this one with a square neck, but once Florence had it on, I realised it was right. And cute!

The skirts are also nice, though, given my pleased-ness about the frocks, a little less exciting somehow. I believe that the wrap n' go from fancy crepe-like wool blend in a lovely rusty red, with vintage kind of oriental (bamboo??) bird print pockets is suitably autumnal.

And last but not least, the ruffly Deadwood-inspired pleated black skirt.

And I actually took a photo of the ruffle this time!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Loving the t-blouse

What do you wear when you need something a little more fancy than a t-shirt, but you don't want to deal with buttons and a collar? A t-blouse!

I first made one of these for Pearl about 5 years ago, an since then have made quite a few for her, myself, and anyone else who asks me nicely. My own t-blouse is so well-worn that it's almost falling to pieces and has rips and holes all over it (ironic, I know, given that I could just make myself another one, but there's so much else to sew! I can't just sit around sewing for myself!!). I really love wearing it with my skinny jeans, as it does an excellent job of covering up the ubiquitous muffin-top associated with such pant items (it is ubiquitous, right??). Sweet!

These little babies I made for my totally HOT and awesome friend Niki. She admired my muffin-disguising top about a year ago, so I made her one of her own. She's a fan, so I made her 2 more. Nothing like a series, right?

They're made from cotton (sheets, tablecloths etc), have cute little cap sleeves (or longer if you, like Pearl, are a fan of being protected from the sun), and are cut on the bias so they have a nice amount of stretch and fit just right, in all the right places. And of course, a lovely scoop neck. Yay! So the key-words here are: flattering, comfy and kinda-smart. Winning combo, yes?

I LOVE that Niki picked the mustard-with-pink-and-purple-flowers tablecloth, as I absolutely adore it. It's going to looks gorgeous on her, and I'm kind of happy it's staying in the family.

Monday, May 2, 2011

What exactly does 'corporate' even mean?

So it seems that there's quite a gap in the market for the stylish and quirky lady who is unfortunately constrained by the paradigms offered by the 'corporate' work wardrobe. I personally have no idea what 'corporate' dress actually is, though I've always assumed that it basically means plain, kind of boring and usually made up entirely of black, grey and navy. How dressing in this way makes you more 'professional' or hardworking has always escaped my comprehension. As in high school, where I cast aside the bleach-blonde hair, ugg boots and tracksuit that made up my school's 'uniform' in favour of pink dreadlocks and army shorts, in the few jobs I've had where 'corporate' attire was required, I could never resist the temptation for stripy tights and bright red cardigans with holes.

Given this history of mine, I was thrilled to be helping out the drab situation by crafting a pair of lovely, 50s inspired dresses a few months back that were, though black and grey and kind of conservative-looking, also interesting enough to free my ladyclient from the shackles of complete and utter sartorial boredom.

I was commissioned recently to undertake another 'corporate' venture, this time in the form of a pair of skirts, based on the client, Maarinke's current favourite, but with some P&E quirk added to ward off the aforementioned boredom. After some to-ing and fro-ing regarding adjustment of length, and a few hurdles arising from my own lack of comprehension of what a corporate wardrobe is and why it needs to exist in the first place, I was actually pretty happy with the results.

I'm quite partial to a bit of brown, so was happy to team this luscious chocolate with a beautiful vintage tablecloth that's all pinky-red and olive green. An autumnal delight, methinks! I was inspired recently by a skirt my exceedingly talented friend Ness made, which featured a totally hot bit of wide, pink bias-binding around the hem on the inside! Totally interesting and awesome, but not overwhelming for those afraid of flashing too much pink. I thought this would be the perfect touch to the chocolate brown number so added a similar band, which I detailed with 3 rows of gorgeous, deep-red stitching.

The black skirt is slightly influenced by the fact that I've been watching a little too much Deadwood at the moment. Not that it's in any way evocative of the North American frontier of the 1800s, but it does have a teeny-tiny bustle-inspired kind of ruffle thing on the back at the hem. Just a little one. Almost imperceptible. But I know it's there, and I rather like it.

This skirt also has trim made from a vintage tablecloth, though the colours in this one are more of your greens and purples (though of course the sun was shining SO brightly for the first time in about a week that the colour's all but washed from the photos). I also added buttons at the bottom of the pockets (which are lined with the same fabric as the hem and waist trim), just because buttons are cute and I was feeling kind of adventurous. Woo. Radical.