Tips & Tricks Tuesday: Ode to E6000

I recently read a friend’s Facebook post where she was unhappily (and slightly unsuccessfully) sewing her daughter’s Girl Scout badges to her vest, and various other friends were chiming in and debating the virtues of glue vs. needle and thread.  It made me realize that 99% of the world’s population is blissfully clueless about the wonder creation E6000, so here’s a brief overview and manifesto on “Why E6000 is the Greatest Invention on the Planet.”

1. STONES: Nothing, and I mean nothing, works on stones and other beadwork like E6000.  Don’t even bother with “bead glue” or other expensive garbage, including E6000 Jewelry and Bead glue.  Stones (aka “A Performer’s Portfolio” because goodness knows we invest more money in them than any decent person will publicly admit) won’t fall off until you want them to come off — see #2.

2. REMOVAL: When it’s time to retire the garment but reuse the stones, all you have to do is sew the garment into a pillowcase, take it to most any dry cleaner, and tell them you used E6000.  They’ll know exactly which chemical to use to dissolve the glue, and if they don’t, take it somewhere else.  When you pick up your garment and open the pillowcase, you’ll find all the stones safely at the bottom, silver backs intact, and no residue left on the fabric at all.  Purely miraculous. Just make sure your pillowcase isn’t sporting a hole, or you’ll lose all your stones and the dry cleaning lady will yell at you (no, it didn’t happen to me personally, but the friend who experienced this expensive humiliation swears she still has flashbacks).

3. FABRIC: Not to give away trade secrets or anything, but we use E6000 for more applique work than we’d like to admit.  In the photos below, all the piecework was done with E6000 and not a sewing machine.

matt

49 separate tiny appliques here. 49. I’ll say it again. 49.

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Super fast and easy dress, thanks to the wonders of E6000, two glasses of wine, and a poolside workspace in Florida…

See?  I was serious.

See? I was serious.

pink dress pinkdressback

In fact, Pink Dress above was started in the hotel room 36 hours before the wearer had to compete, and yes, it was fully stoned and finished with about 6 hours to spare. Every single appliqué on that dress was glued on, not sewn, so there were no buckles, bulges, pulls, stretches, or anything that otherwise would have occurred had I tried to wrestle the bulky thing in circles on my machine.  E6000 stretches with the fabric, so when the leotard/main bodice fabric stretches, so do the appliqués. Plus, no seamlines. I would have had to stock (and remember to pack, and then carry up two flights of stairs while carrying the machine, Peg the Mannequin, and my then-4-year-old sleeping child, and then keep away from the other three kids who wanted to use them as prisoners on their Fisher Price pirate ship that somehow made its way into the car even after I told them they had to leave it at home) seven different shades of pink for this dress alone, but by using E6000, I could layer and move from one color to the next without any lost or wasted time. Try THAT with a machine.

Purists might condescendingly say this is cheating; but these are the same folks who refuse to rely on the magic of a single safety pin too, so they’ve obviously never been in the Ready Area with a 12-year old boy whose outfit fit perfectly 9 days ago but who, through the wonders of biology, now is taller and skinnier than he was a week and a half ago (don’t believe me? Raise three boys and see for yourself); so frankly their opinions don’t count. At all. Get over yourselves and admit that just because you’re skilled enough to sew it doesn’t mean that’s always the best option.

Anyway, just when I had everything figured out, the heavens opened and Eclectic Products sent us E6000 spray. I’ll save that hint for later, as I’ll be using it for a particularly intricate design I’m working on this month, and I’ll photo the whole process.

Eclectic Products also released a .18oz tube of E6000, and I have 40 on their way to my shop as I type this. They fit perfectly into these little emergency fix-it travel kits, which also contain a stone setting stick, safety pins, tiny scissors, a sewing kit, Hollywood Tape, and several small compartments for various replacement stones. I actually have one for each dress that goes with us on our travels, and I had no problem going through TSA security with the tiny tube of E6000. You can buy the travel kits here or with the one-click button in the footer.

Next Tuesday we’ll go over several ways to set stones…so you have a week to stock up on E6000…

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Saturday Sayings: When It’s OK to Stink

“For the first couple years that you’re making stuff, what you’re making isn’t so good, OK? It’s not that great. It’s trying to be good, it has ambition to be good, but it’s not quite that good. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, your taste is still killer.”  – Ira Glass

Before you read this post, check this out.  It’s short, I promise, and it’s brilliant.

I was thinking about this quote this weekend at a skating meet we attended a couple hours away.  As I sat in the lobby waiting less-than-patiently for my skaters’ turns, I realized that everywhere I looked I saw dresses I’d made…but they were on skaters I didn’t know or had never seen before.  At one point I counted nineteen dresses that I could see just from my perch in the glassed-in fishbowl where coaches and judges can safely escape the competition noise and drama (which is ironic, since there is always more noise and drama inside that room, but I guess it’s like changing your own baby’s diapers as opposed to someone else’s baby’s diapers…it just doesn’t seem so bad when it’s your own).

The number of dresses didn’t leave an impression on me, though; instead, what struck me was how much I still hated the oldest ones, which were now cherished by some new skater who doesn’t have a clue that what she sees as beautiful really falls in about the neanderthal stage of my costuming evolution (australopithecus, actually, but I’m trying to be kind).  I saw the dress I made when I first experimented with paint because the client didn’t want to buy as many stones as the dress actually needed, and it made me cringe; yet, this is the fourth skater I can recall wearing it, so to her, it must not be as bad as I think it is.  However, I also saw one of my favorite dresses on one of her teammates, shown below, and I love it today as much as I did back then.

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Beautiful Blue Dress. The photo doesn’t do the 15gr. of tiny, tiny stones or the very intricate stonework justice, and the mesh actually DID match the original skater’s skin; but my favorite skating story involves this dress, a wedgie, a tube of E6000 glue, and a frantic 3 min warmup at the state meet…maybe I’ll tell it sometime.

Beautiful Blue Dress is about ten years more evolved than Ugly Purple Dress (which I refuse to post, because seriously, it’s hideous), and I immediately assumed everyone around would obviously agree with me.  I was highly, though privately, embarrassed; thank goodness that dress has passed through so many hands that no one could possibly know I’m the one who made it.  As I was deep in my own self-flagellation, I realized the little group of girls with Beautiful Blue Dress and Ugly Purple Dress were fawning over and admiring Ugly Purple Dress, and she was beaming.  Weird, I thought, with Beautiful Blue Dress standing right next to her, but still, Ugly Purple Dress was visibly quite pleased.  Strange to me, but sweet.

I also recall one particular dress from about fifteen years ago that I was so, so excited about — until the skater put it on and we realized it looked more like Las Vegas lingerie than a skating dress (sorry Katey…you always ended up as the target of my failed visions, it seems).  It was disgusting, and it immediately went into my kids’ dress-up box, where it was (not surprisingly) never worn, even as a joke when my then-6-year-old son wanted to crack up his little brothers.  But the idea in my head was amazing, and it’s still there.  In fact, I think I’m going to recreate it this year, because I think (hope) I am finally skilled enough to pull it off, or at least to make it worthy of staying out of my kids’ Halloween Options stash.

After listening to Ira’s brief message for about the tenth time today, I understand that I did have a much different vision back then for Ugly Purple Dress, so it’s not ugly because I had no taste; it’s ugly because I had no skill.  If I redid that dress today, with the same drawings and the same picture in my head, it would turn out much, much different (at least it sure as hell better).

As Ira said, I do wish someone had told me twenty years ago that I would suck, and that it’s ok, because at least I had the good ideas in my head — better there than nowhere, I guess.  I never understood why I hated so many of the dresses I’ve made over the years, while clients were thrilled with the results.  I was told I was too much of a pessimist, a perfectionist, a whiny bitch (no, not joking), etc.  But really, I was just frustrated that, for some reason, what left my workshop didn’t match what was still in my head, and I didn’t understand why.  Now I do, and I guess I’m ok with it.

These days, more stuff leaves my workshop looking as I intended rather than just coming as close to what I want as I’m capable of producing, but that’s only because I didn’t give up and I kept churning out as many pieces as possible over the years…even when I swore I wasn’t going to make another one.  Each time, I think they come a little closer to what I have in my head, and today, garments sometimes even leave better than I envisioned.  I’m trying to forgive myself for things like Ugly Purple Dress, and remember that at least I had the idea and the taste to create it in my head — putting me way ahead of many others in this line of work, I hope.  At the very least, I’m trying to remind myself that this is the case; because as I learned watching the girls on Sunday, true beauty is in the eye of the wearer, not in whether or not it matches what was in the producer’s head, and that’s a good thing.

 

What Are They Wearing Wednesday: February 12, 2014

So I missed a Wednesday, because I was exploring the textile district of Los Angeles, the largest in the world.  And to make matters worse, my sewing machine is in the shop for three weeks for a tune-up and lube job.

However, there is a little something on Peg today:

O. M. G.

O. M. G.

This is an extraordinary piece I discovered at a recent textile convention in San Francisco.  They’re designed and imported by DeBeers, the diamond folks, and handmade in India.  The photo doesn’t do it justice — it’s exquisite, it’s huge, and I managed to get my hands on two of them.  The retail price is completely unaffordable, but thankfully I don’t have to worry about that anymore.

I still don’t know what I’m going to do with them (thus their position on Peg at the moment, attempting to inspire the decision making process), but I know I’m using them for kid #4 and I’m not selling them.  They’ll go on white, but I haven’t yet figured out all the design details.  In the meantime, I’m just enjoying gazing at them as often as possible.