Wednesday, April 22, 2009

My "Formal" Learning Experience

I don't know exactly why, but I have a terrible time telling people what I will be charging. I think about it beforehand and always end up charging less than I first decided it seems. However, I don't want to be doing too much sewing for free beyond my predetermined charity work. These last few weeks, two girls (one a former student and one a neighbor) asked me to fix their formals for the prom. I didn't even think about telling them what I thought it would cost, so when I finished, the neighbor girl asked if there would be a charge (as she was going out the door). I told her $15.00, which is pretty low for what I did, and she looked shocked. Because she is a neighbor, I told her she could pay later. My husbnd reminded me that they never have had to wait for money when we asked them to watch our dogs or mow the lawn when were gone, and they NEVER have done anything for us for free.
Later, the former student tried on her dress after I had let out 18 seams and it was still too tight. She asked what else we could do, so I said I could cut it down so the zipper just came to the waist. It meant that I had to add 6 more loops, put in new facings, re sew the zipper, add a hook and eye and finish the edges. I had earlier told her that the 18 seams would cost $6.00. When I gave her the re remodeled dress, she handed me a card. I was surprised and didn't think to say that there was a new price. Soooo, I ended up making $6.00 for all of that work because I'm a WIMP! I am determined to get better at this or stop alterations completely! I guess I had become complacent because everyone I've worked with this last year has been really good about discussing price and paying promptly. The saying is Live and Learn, but shouldn't I have lived long enough by now to have learned?

BSU Earth Day

Today I participated in only my second outdoor bazaar. The etsy team was invited to be a part of the first ever craft fair and bazaar at BSU to celebrate earth day. It was really fun, and I was able to handle the heat OK because Asia, one of the team members shared her tent with me. I had a cheesy canopy that requires poles, rope and stakes, so I was really glad to not have to use it. I'm going to buy a pop up as soon as I can find one at a good price. Each time I do a bazaar I learn more about what people like to buy and meet some really interesting people too. I may not get rich, but it is fun. I came home tonight and started on some things for the next one!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Big and Little

I've just had an interesting experience today remodeling formals. The first one is for a former student to wear to the prom. It was a size 1/2 and I needed to make it a 1. I first let out all 18 seams as much as possible. Then I cut down the back and added in 6 more loops for lacing. It had zipped up to mid back and laced the rest of the way. Now, the lacing starts at the waistline. Earlier, I had added in a bra to one that laced the same way, so I felt this would work. I think this is the 6th dress I've added lacing to in order to make them bigger.

The second dress is one I bought at Savers for a woman to wear during our upcoming musical review. She needs a 16-18 and this dress was a 22. It also had a weird sheer jacket type attachment that I removed. I tried to follow proportions patterns show in size gradation, so I hope it will work. She will try it on tonight and we'll see. I think I now have all of the sewing done for the review ( 20's dress, 3 skirts, spats. hem pants, formal hem and formal alteration) so I can get to work on some things for the Wednesday Earth Day bazaar and the two outfits I need to get done for a June 6th wedding. Now, if some of the things I have listed on etsy would just sell!

Friday, April 17, 2009

A New Addiction

The other day I was researching sewing machines powerful enough to sew leather and thick upholstery fabrics. Somehow, that search turned into bidding on toy sewing machines on e-bay. I ended up with five! None really are sewing ready right now, but at least 4 could be with a little work. I even ordered an instruction book and some needles. All that for a woman who already has 12 working machines, plus one more that just needs some work. Oh well, they will look cute on the basement shelves as soon as I can get rid of some more old books and records. Eventually, I will have them working just for the fun of it. I currently have 6 of my machines that I use frequently and 3 more occasionally. Now does anyone have a suggestion for the best old machine for sewing leather and heavy fabrics? I have two treadles, two vikings from the 60's and an electric Singer fro 1925 to try out.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009


As I've been trying to create original designs, I constantly try to remember something I learned years ago when I was working as a County Agent. We Home Economists attended a workshop designed to help us teach sewing skills, and we were told by the instructor to always try to avoid looking like "THEL". We didn't know if the instructor had a lisp or what! After an uncomfortable silence, she finally told us that meant to avoid "The Home Ec Look" We still didn't really know what she was talking about until she said, "You know--the woman who you can tell made everything she is wearing--not because it is not sewn well, but because it looks nothing like what people are wearing currently" She went on to tell us that any successful seamstress is first of all, a good shopper. She also keeps notes and avoids at all costs, making too many cute accessories to match the dress or coat she just made! She told us that she knew a woman who actually made matching panties from the scraps of her dresses. We didn't ask how she knew that little tidbit.
I know I have a hard time keeping myself from making everything match. It's such a temptation to create just one more item.