We’re Baaaack!!

It’s been absolutely forever since I posted here, but this is why:

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SHE MADE IT TO WORLDS!  Of course it had nothing at all to do with how she skated — it’s all about the dress, you know…

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8th in the WORLD! Awesome finish for her first World Championships appearance.

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Love this shot. Really great loop for her, too!

Anyway, we’re home from two weeks in Italy and Paris (ok, 9 days in Italy for the World Championships, 5 days in Paris for…well, for me, really.  We sent her home with grandma so my husband and I could go fabric shopping in Paris alone…uh, I mean, go sightseeing in Paris alone…), and the shop is undergoing HUGE changes!  I have new fabric stocked (ombre lycra and mesh in lots of colors!), and we’re working on moving the entire thing into a mobile pop-up shop by the spring!  This will allow me to travel to many, many more competitions and venues throughout the year, and best of all…I can turn this great shop/sewing/storage space into a dedicated design studio, with a changing room, mannequin display, work stations, everything!  As a result, the place is a complete pig sty, which thrills me to no end, of course.

So because there wasn’t enough chaos in our lives, I decided to take on another task as a pattern tester again for 5 out of 4 Patterns. This time we tested the new Ninja Leggings, and they are amazing!  The pattern has been released at NO COST if you join the 5 out of 4 Facebook group.  It’s a downloadable PDF pattern, very well written, with excellent, clear instructions for all sewing ability levels.

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5 out of 4 Patterns NINJA leggings. So comfortable!

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Go get this pattern NOW.

Best of all, there is NO ELASTIC necessary in the waistband.  There are four different waistband versions (low rise, mid rise, high rise, and extra low-maternity rise), and virtually unlimited length options (shorts, capris, long, extra long, or anything in-between).  Emma is wearing the low rise, extra long version above.

So because my shop is a terror pit right now, and because there is a mountain of scraps honestly four feet high out there, I decided to whip up a few more pairs of these Ninjas.  Each pair takes only one yard and about thirty minutes start to finish.  They’re going to be perfect for chilly rink mornings this winter!

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While you’re at it, check out their other patterns too — if I can find my cutting table, I plan on making a few “knot your average” shirts this week…

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What Are They Wearing Wednesday: Long Time No Post

It’s been months, I know…between getting this business going, traveling to meets with the pop-up shop, and trying to get new PDF patterns online, I haven’t had time to breathe.

Anyway, here’s a quickie — just finished last week, a derby half-time show dress for a former (not “old!”) artistic skater and her husband.  Though they never skated together competitively, they’re now doing a ton of touring and showing.  She provided the inspiration, I provided the dress, and it worked out perfectly!13012684_10209146334406377_7935865105215429282_n 13006570_10209146330966291_7980582120146414941_n 13001306_10209146337726460_3011998439975147128_n 12987072_10209146329846263_368874875983559320_n 12974537_10209146331646308_1349025510355417653_n 12931081_10209146332126320_8350457954872323954_n 12472713_10209146330366276_8024765418736258938_n

Silence is Golden

Truly golden, as in gold medal.

My blog silence over the past three months is due to a ridiculously heavy sewing load, leading up to both the regional and national championships for roller skating, my largest client base by far.

I’m not complaining…I had fifteen separate outfits in various stages of completion during one particular week in May, plus ten more waiting to be started, which made for a stupidly messy shop.  Then my oldest child came home from college, and since kid #2 had moved into his bedroom, all kid #1’s junk ended up where?  In the shop.  And since kid #4 is also a client of sorts, it meant we traveled to these various meets in the capacity of parent/coach/designer, so where did this triple-load of luggage/gear end up staged?  Yep, in the shop.  It was all I could do to just walk from one end to the other, constantly trying to stay organized, so all my non-sewing time was spent creating pathways and keeping records for the CA sales and use tax return I filed this morning, not on blogging or taking photos or, in all honesty, sleeping.

So that explains the silence.  And the golden part?  Here she is, US National Champion, again:

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Totally due to the dress, of course.

Although we’re headed into the mountains for the next two weeks, I’m really looking forward to getting caught up here and sharing everything that’s been keeping Firefly Fabrics so crazy busy.  In all, our outfits brought home 28 regional (CA, NV, and AZ) medals, and 13 US National medals, including 3 US National titles…and we still have 8 still left to skate over the next week or so.  Not a bad haul.

 

 

Fifty Shades of White

I finished this latest creation just in time to enter it in The Monthly Stitch’s July challenge, “MonoSewn,” where everything had to be black, white, or both.  You can read about it here.

I knew I wanted a completely white dress, but what I didn’t plan on back in November when I decided on this design was a) Venetian lace by the yard is lame and boring or else it’s $400/yard, and b) there must be fifty shades of white clearly discernible to my eye, and probably an additional hundred or so that are probably different but too close for me to care or worry about.

Rather than spend a fortune on a yard of Venetian lace that would then have to be cut and turned and altered so drastically that it made no sense to buy it in the first place, I opted for individual Venetian lace appliques…much cheaper, much more varied, and much, much more interesting.  However, even within the same manufacturer there are incredible color variances not visible under the dull lighting of an old lace shop, but clearly obvious in every other sort of lighting this dress would encounter.

What to do?  At first I didn’t care, but then when placing the appliques on the dress we were shocked to discover that the very yellow ones worked perfectly right in the middle of each boob…like a bright, shining beacon, screaming, “HEY!  LOOK AT ME!” Not exactly a good thing, especially considering how much we built up the boobs in the first place to make her fit in better with the girls she would skate against, many of whom would be up to six years older than she is.  Plus, the dress design screamed for boobage, and she was more than happy to comply.

Anyway, rather than freak out, I tried to figure out some way to lessen or eliminate the color variances.  A mix of four parts water to one part cheap, white acrylic paint did the trick.  I dipped each applique in the solution, wrung it out (all over myself and the garage floor, of course) and let it dry.  Added bonus — it stiffened the lace slightly, making it easier to work with and forcing the tiny detailed edges to stop curling.  Extra added bonus — it got rid of the cheap looking polyester-esque sheen that some pieces had (hey, for $3, what do you expect?), making it all appear matte, in a nice, expensive, silk/linen sort of way.

Each piece was pinned to the dress with her in it, I swear I didn’t stab her once, and I only bled on the thing in one tiny spot, easily hidden by strategic stoning later.

The finished piece was stunning…temporarily.  However, on her 14th birthday, I swear her hips moved and grew overnight because all of a sudden the trunks were too small and there was an ungodly amount of butt cleavage showing.  I know that dress fit her perfectly on Memorial Day; but less than a month later we were using Hollywood Tape to stick it to her rear end to avoid any Atomic Wedgie Action on the figure circles.  It worked fine, until we started looking through the action shots taken of her at Nationals and we had to carefully weed out all the ones where her butt just screamed a successful “I’M FREE!  I’M FREE!”

So here it is, in all its glory:

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It definitely made a statement, and it was definitely memorable… certainly not another spandex creation in a sea of similar dresses.  Will I do it again?  No.  Not because it was particularly difficult or time consuming (although each lace piece was hand sewn in place, and it probably took a total of 30 or more hours to finish just that aspect alone), but because I want to try something different for her next year and I won’t copy this dress for anyone else.  One and done, and happily, I’m pleased with the result.

Monthly Stitch Challenge: Sewing Double

So this really great collective called The Monthly Stitch puts out challenges meant to keep sewists (a new word I learned…maybe it’s just an Australian thing, but it sounds better than “sewer,” which brings to mind nasty, disgusting things) on their toes and actively learning new things.  This month’s challenge was “Sewing Double,” and, as usual, I totally overdid it.

This month I made thirteen new club dresses, a record for me.  Rather than copy the entire post, you can read about it here, where it’s posted on the Monthly Stitch blog.

The thirteen dresses is a lame attempt at an excuse for not posting anything else this month.  The fourteen dress orders sitting in my shop right now won’t help things, either.  Hopefully I can write more when the sewing is done…

Tips & Tricks Tuesday: Use What You’ve Got

Pins. I hate pins. Mainly because they inevitably end up on the floor, in my foot, or in my dog’s mouth. There are occasions when straight pins are necessary: attaching skirts to figure skating dresses or ballroom gowns, getting an inset bra placement just right, keeping ridiculously slippery and delicate fabric in exactly the right place despite the best efforts of your feed dog, etc. But generally, pins are overrated.

I started using pattern weights when I made my first wedding gown ages and ages ago, because the fabric was so curmudgeonly that it showed every tiny little pin hole. Besides — at this point I don’t have the time to sit and pin paper patterns to fabric. All of my stock ready-to-wear patterns are made out of vinyl anyway, so pins are out of the question.

But pattern weights are expensive. And ugly. So I looked around my shop to see what I had that could be repurposed. And what does every skating coach and skating parent have in spades? Old wheels. I realized I have an embarrassing collection of them, so I figured I had two options: throw them away or re-imagine them. Since the good sets cost more than $100 each, throwing them away seemed like such a waste.

So instead, I turned a set of eight old wheels into a quirky, cute, and extremely useful set of pattern weights. Since I wanted them as heavy as possible, I filled the inside cavity with fishing weights (after removing the bearings, because keeping extra sets of bearings is an entirely different type of anal retentiveness), wrapped each one in a small piece of spandex, and secured it with two rubber bands. They look nice enough to leave out on the cutting table, and they don’t roll around (no pun intended) or move like regular pattern weights do thanks to their larger surface area.

"Free" pattern weights

“Free” pattern weights

If you don’t happen to have old roller skating wheels sitting around, you’re bound to have something from a past mania that you couldn’t bear to ditch. Also, the dollar store carries sets of very small food storage containers that would work well filled with sand and with the lids glued down. Firefly Fabrics sells these pattern weights in a variety of colors if you’re more inclined to purchase them than make them. The fabric can be removed in case they need to be cleaned (how you would get pattern weights dirty is sort of a mystery to me, but I remember sewing with four kids under seven, so really, I’m sure there’s a way), and since they’re gathered with rubber bands, they can be reconstructed simply and quickly.

Buy them at the bottom of the page!