Friday, October 29, 2010

New Computer on its Way

My computer, despite many attempts, cannot be revived--at least not anytime soon. So I have ordered a new one and hopefully it will arrive next week sometime. I am still trying to recover all the information on my hard drive as I will need it to get back to normal operations. But I will be happy to have a faster computer to work on.
I also purchased a new Blackberry. My telephone contract expired last July so I knew I could get a new Blackberry at a reduced price with a new contract. I had a Blackberry back when I was in the corporate world and enjoyed being able to get my email while I was travelling. Technology has advanced so much in two years so it will take me some time to learn to use it properly.

In a couple more weeks I should have things back into some semblance of order.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Sewing and Politics

Members of the Oakville Sewers Forum may be pleased to know that Rob Burton was re-elected mayor and Ralph Robinson re-elected councillor for Ward 1. Both Burton and Robinson are the architects of the QEP Community Centre which will house the first creative arts facility for the Town of Oakville. If all goes as planned, the Oakville Sewers Forum and other fibre arts groups will have a home in the facility to be known as the Fibre Arts Room. The Fibre Arts Room will be equipped with electrical outlets to handle several sewing machines and irons. The separate "wet room" will be equipped for dyeing, felting, washing and drying fabrics and other fibres. The facility is currently scheduled to open in 2012. Oakville has sadly been very behind its neighbours Burlington and Mississauga in creating an centre for visual arts.

Computer Viruses Attack Again

As a small business owner, I am careful to keep my computer well maintained and virus free through anti-virus software and continuous software updates. A well functioning computer is the lifeline of an online business. But despite my diligence, my computer was infected with a very nasty virus that not only was disruptive but attacked my website and email making it impossible to communicate with my customers or to receive orders. And it came at a time of the Creativ Festival. I wish that people had better and more positive things to do with their time than wreak destruction on innocent people trying to make an honest living. I have access to a borrowed computer while I try to work out this problem. In the meantime, I am able to periodically read email at info@distinctivesewing.com. I appreciate everyone's patience.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Fall Creativ Festival 2010 - Another great show is over..

The Creativ Festival was a great success for me as a vendor and I heard very good things from my customers who dropped by the booth.

It's a hectic three days of seminars, shows and shopping, even longer if you take classes on the Wednesday or Thursday before the show floor opens. I've always enjoyed the Creativ Festival, even before I became an exhibitor. It's inspiring and fun.

Now I have to get back to work, unloading my products and putting them away; returning the rental truck, processing the back orders and catching up. It's all worth the time and effort.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Does that Fabric Wrinkle?

I rarely sell acrylics or poly fabrics simply because I don't like the feel of them. The initial touch might be soft but then there's that weird kind of squeaky texture that gives me the willies. I also find them too hot to wear.

Most of my fabrics are cotton, linen, silk, rayon, hemp, etc. Sometimes there's a poly blend or nylon if the quality is very high and passes the touch test. I don't carry fabrics that are treated to be stain resistant, or wrinkle resistant because that adds chemicals to the fibres which can be absorbed by the skin.

How much a fabric is going to wrinkle depends on the fibre content (linen wrinkles a lot, cotton not quite as much, rayon is better, poly not much at all, etc.) and the weave. All fabrics wrinkle to some extent.

I wonder then why people expect my fabrics not to wrinkle at all.  Even when I look at what they are wearing and their own garments have wrinkles at the elbows, knees and crotch. I've never worn anything that didn't wrinkle to some extent.

Here's my advice. Take a corner of the fabric in your hand and crush it.  That will give an indication of how much it will wrinkle or crease.  But if you want wrinkle free, you'll have to check out the polyester fabrics at the local mass merchandising fabric store.

The Creativ Festival Starts this Friday, October 22, 2010 in Toronto

I can't believe it's less than a week away.  I am packing up fabrics and patterns into boxes.  Moving stuff around is not the fun part for sure.  But three days of meeting customers and talking sewing sure is.

This show gets better all the time, in my view. It's not all about sewing, but there's a lot of creativity to explore.

I hope to see lots of you at Booth 830 and also at the Modular Design Trunk show held daily on the Fashion Arts Stage (2:30 pm on Friday and Saturday, and 1:30 pm on Sunday). There's many new sample garments to show you in lots of different fabrics.

Visit www.creativfestival.com for information on exhibitors, events and show times.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

My Bernina's Back and There's Gonna be Serging

It went away to be repaired
It bothered me, every night
And when I had to do without
I said things that weren't very nice



My Bernina's back, and there's gonna be some serging
(Hey-la-day-la my Bernina's back
)
I've got it home and set it up on the double

(Hey-la-day-la my Bernina's back)
While it was away I was feeling awful blue
(Hey-la-day-la my Bernina's back)

But I've tried it out and it's working just like new

(Hey-la-day-la my Bernina's back)
(Hey, without it has been tryin')
(And there was a lot of sighin')

It's been gone for such a long time
(Hey-la-day-la my Bernina's back
)
Now it's back
and things'll be fine
(Hey-la-day-la my Bernina's back)

I'm sorry I left its servicing so long
(Hey-la-day-la my Bernina's back)

Cause it's kinda smart and it's awful strong
(Hey-la-day-la my Bernina's back)

(Hey with all the fabric it's been eatin'!)
(I work it so hard it really takes a beatin'!)


My Bernina 800 DL serger makes terrific rolled hem edges. This is an edge I use all the time on Kayla Kennington garments. It takes some getting used to but after a bit of practice (and if your machine is properly serviced) it's a great construction technique. The Bernina 800 DL is known for making a great rolled hem. While it was in the shop, I used my old Kenmore machine and while I finally got a respectable rolled hem out of it, it was no picnic. So when Linda of Oakville Sewing Centre called to say "Your baby's ready for pick-up" I was out there like a shot.

Also Linda said that there's going to be a sale on Bernina's starting October 15, so if you are in the market for a new serger, give her a call or drop by to test drive one.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Waisting away in Margeritaville with Pattie Otto

Pattie Otto
Pattie Otto is the owner of Great Copy patterns and delivered an excellent seminar on sewing elastic waistbands at the American Sewing Expo in Novi, MI. She was well organized and had samples of every type of elastic waistband to illustrate exactly what she was talking about.  The samples were passed around so we could see up close the details. She also had a handout but all the details are contained in her booklet for the sum of $8, which I purchased at her booth.

Not everyone is a fan of elastic waistbands and I wasn't either until menopause changed my figure significantly. Although I am of medium height, I have a short torso meaning my waist was never well defined. Now it is non-existent. Being tall enough to wear longish jackets, vests and tunics, the elastic waistband pant is perfect for me. Now I know which waistband technique to use depending on fabric and style.

I just finished the Perennial Pant by Kayla Kennington in a hand dyed rayon and used one of the casing techniques.  It's not perfect but it's pretty good.  Next time I have to remember to add more fabric when topstitching the crease at the top fold in the casing.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Creative Collage with Koos

I attended this two day course last month with Koos van den Akker at the American Sewing Expo in Novi, MI. I've always loved the look of collage in art and garments but was rarely good at it. This was the course for me.

My sewing friend, a custom clothier, attended a five day course last year with Koos at the Academy of Fine Sewing and Design in North Bay, ON. With the benefit of her experience, I felt I prepared to learn some pretty amazing things. I was not disappointed.

Learning from a 70 year old designer from New York, who is confident and strongly opinionated, who has weathered the ups and downs of fashion and has stayed true to his style, who actually works and sews every day in his studio, is a great experience. To obtain some insight into this man, read the interview with VBS, TV/Vice Magazine posted on the Koos website. Anyone who is easily offended by a critical assessment of their work and the "f" word, be warned. But if you are willing to look past that and listen, you are likely to benefit from a course from Koos.

Here's what won't happen in a Koos class:  hand holding; step-by-step instructions, handouts, slide shows, kits or formulae. But he will explain how to get started and come around to ask how you are doing. He also will help you when you ask for it. You need to be able to dig in and work independently on your own collage. Koos will demonstrate lots of techniques used in creative collage, but it's up to you to lay it out and stitch it down.

He brings templates of his "cut-outs" that you may copy and use, He also has his own garments on display for students to examine and learn from. He shared with us a pattern for a trumpet flower scarf and a cloche hat, items that are made and sold in the KOOS store in New York. He showed us how to make a beautiful belt from a mobius. He doesn't seem to mind sharing his designs freely.

Section of Collage
There is a book Koos Couture Collage written by Linda Chang Teufel. It contains colourful photos and collage techniques. I've had the book for years having picked it up at a sale, long before I really knew who Koos was. I think that once you have an eye for creating collage, the techniques in the book will guide you on construction.

I now have a one metre collage that I am very pleased with. The background is black quilter's cotton. A thrift store find sits comfortably next to a $29 a yard designer animal print from Haberman's of Michigan. My creative collage will likely play the starring role in a jacket. For now it hangs in my studio as a reminder of a terrific learning experience with a most talented designer.

Monday, October 4, 2010

I'm sewing but I'm not entirely happy...

The Angel Top
I have been sewing today, working on the Angel Top, the Perennial Pant and the Kwan Yin Kimono, all garments from the Modular Design pattern series. You see, I am sewing sample garments (some day to be "my garments") for the upcoming Creativ Festival (Oct 22-24) in Toronto. I have an exhibitor's booth there (No. 830) and I do a daily trunk show about the Modular Design pattern collection by Kayla Kennington. I like to feature new creations every season.

And two of my favourite machines are in for servicing at the moment; my Bernina 800DL serger and Brother Nouvelle 1500S. I love my Bernina 800DL for Kayla's signature rolled hem edge with rayon embroidery thread. But I also need it to finish seam allowances in the usual way.  I can't really complete any garments without it. I know I should have two sergers, but that's a big purchase and I can't afford that right now.

The Brother is a workhorse industrial-like machine that straight stitches only. It is perfect for accurate and quick straight stitched seams and topstitching.

Luckily I still have my Bernina White Pearl here which does the zigzags, buttonholes and other fancy stitches that I need. And a decent straight stitch when required.

I'm anxiously waiting for the phone call from Linda at the Oakville Sewing Centre to tell me my machines are all in top form, so I can rush off and get them. When they are back home safely installed in their custom sewing cabinets, I'll be in my happy sewing place again.

If you love Retro, you will love Gertie's New Blog for Better Sewing

Inspired by Vogue's New Book for Better Sewing, published in 1952, this blog is for anyone who loves to sew retro inspired garments or recreate fashion from the 1950s. More than just a homage to that era, Gertie sews retro garments and and wears them.

This book was published before I was born (barely) and decades before Gertie was born for sure. It is great to see a young woman who is so passionate about sewing fine fashion clothing. Definitely one to follow.

Friday, October 1, 2010

What would Nandini do?

Katherine Tilton (Nandini)
At the American Sewing Expo I had the pleasure of meeting Katherine Tilton (aka Nandini) and attending her seminar "The Arty T". She is a delightful and talented artist who is so sharing of her ideas and work. Katherine's slide show was full of great ideas on how to transform T-shirts or to make fabulous designer T's inspired by Paris originals.
Her booth was constantly a buzz of activity with buyers snapping up coordinated designer knits and Marcy Tilton's fabulous silk screens. I was lucky enough to catch a demonstration of how to use the silk screens. It is unbelievably easy and requires only a sponge brush, Lumiere textile paints by Jacquard and fabric.

Katherine helped me pick out three silk screens that would work well together and now I am playing with them on scraps of an Annabelle viscose lycra knit slate blue fabric. I am making The Olive Top from The Sewing Workshop Collection--their latest pattern. I plan to screen the top to make it more interesting.

You can purchase the designer knits and silk screens from Marcy Tilton's website.