Being your own boss and running your own crafty or creative business can be really exciting and fulfilling. It’s also the absolute worsty-blurst from time to time. There are days when I want to throw my laptop out the window, pack a bag and take off with nothing but a few hair ties and clean pairs of underwear. I’m not the first one to say it, but it is just silly how much time I spend just dealing with administration. I don’t keep track of those hours, because then I would cry. If I had another pair of arms I could sew and type simultaneously, but since my stupid earth-bound body hasn’t evolved to suit my needs, I have other strategies for balancing all the boring, business-y stuff that has to get done, and I figured some of you might be interested in some of what I’ve picked up and researched over the last year or so when it comes to the business side of a creative business. Because y’all know how much I love to research, and it seems like a waste to have it rattling around in this lonely brain, when maybe some of it will appeal to you too.
The Make/Boss series will tackle the un-sexy side of entrepreneurship: setting up a webstore, accounting that won’t make you want to kill yourself, organizing your computer to maximize efficiency, email best practices, blog monetization, and whatever else occurs to me once I get going. Hopefully you’ll find some of it interesting even if you’re not running a business; everyone needs a little life hacking now and then. I don’t have a set schedule for posts, but I’ll be back later this week with a heap of information on business accounting, since I’ve been in spreadsheet purgatory for the last few weeks and it’s all fresh and angry on my mind.
In the meantime, is there anything you’d like me to talk about? What issues or challenges do you face as a small business owner? Any subjects you’d like addressed? Let’s get through it together.
Happy Sunday my friends. I hope you’ve had an excellent week. Last night monsieur and I got all dolled up to go to the ballet. I’ve never been before but when I saw the posters in the metro (Anna Karenina sponsored by Chanel? Um yes please) I used some credit card points to score us two tickets in the nosebleed section. We were way up high so we couldn’t see the dancer’s faces as much as the general patterns they made on the stage, but it was breathtaking nonetheless. The final act made me cry. I like to be reminded just how impressive human bodies are, and the million little ways they can be used to express what it means to be alive, to be in love, to be in pain. Total ballet convert over here. Maybe season tickets will fall out of the sky.
On to what you’ve been up to.
A ridiculously cute flamingo print Holly romper by the Girl Who Makes Things.
One of the biggest roadblocks I run into when designing patterns is trying to figure out complicated or new-to-me construction methods. Often I’m figuring out the construction methodology while I’m in the design process, and while I have pattern-making books up the ying yang, there are surprisingly few resources out there that actually walk you step by step through different methods of actually putting a garment together. Which was why I was super excited when Laurence King got in touch with me about reviewing their new title, Sewing for Fashion Designers by Anette Fischer.
This is an interesting book. It’s geared towards someone who wants to make a career out of designing RTW clothing, so it includes a mix of a lot of information. It’s basically a broad overview of clothing construction from start to finish; while it’s not as construction focused as I was initially expecting, it does include a a good mix of general sewing basics and more specific construction information.
The first few section of the book includes information you’ve probably seen covered by sewing books in your library; the standard breakdown of tools, needles, thread, fabric, supplies etc. I still read these parts because you never know what new little trick you’ll pick up. In the pressing section I discovered that spearmint water can be used to eliminate strong creases in fabric, as well as helping to eliminate shine from over-pressing. Who knew?! While some of the information is probably common knowledge for the average sewist, I like how specific it got when it came to things like interfacing and stabilizers. I can see how handy this would be for someone trying to get clothing into production, but I love looking at fashion from more of a RTW perspective so I ate all this up.
I also quite liked this guide to hem allowances; I bookmarked this page for later reference.
There is a lot of interesting information on commercial machines and production that I found really interesting and haven’t really seen anywhere else. I dream of the day I have room for some of these weirdly specific industrial machines…
Of course no sewing manual would be complete without covering seam finishes. There were a few nuggets of wisdom in this section; I now know how to work a french seam around a sharp corner!
My favourite part of this book is the breakdown of basic and more advanced construction techniques. While it’s not completely exhaustive (for that I often turn to the Reader’s Digest Complete Book of Sewing), it does cover the basics of pockets, neckline and waistband finishes, fastenings and finishing touches.
There are some real gems in here. I am quite desperate to attempt this tailored waistband with zipper guard. Gorgeous guts!
Finally, the book wraps up with a primer on working with a variety of fabrics, including tricky ones like leather, fur, sequins, latex, neoprene and lace.
All in all, I really enjoyed Sewing for Fashion Designers. It’s a good one to sit down and read from cover to cover and my copy is currently filled with post-its I’ll be referring back to in the future. While it does cover a lot of the sewing basics you’ve probably encountered in books before, the focus on commercial production gives it a fresh feel, and like all Laurence King releases (see my other reviews, Draping by Karolyn Kiisel and Patternmaking by Denmic Chunman Lo) it has a clean, modern, minimalist layout that I love looking at. All the included shots of gorgeous designer detailing doesn’t hurt either.
Would you consider adding this book to your library? Do you have any other suggestions for books that cover clothing construction in great detail? I love nerding about this kind of stuff, clearly.
Sewing for Fashion Designers is now available for pre-sale, and will be released on April 30th. Laurence King provided me with a complementary copy of the book to review, but all opinions are my own.
It’s time I wrap up “my grey period”. Spring has FINALLY arrived in Montreal so I promise, no more stricken/traumatized instagram posts of April snowfalls. Someone recently pointed out that they/I were getting increasingly unhinged. It’s been warm out ALL week, and I’ve been riding my bike around town with the wind in my hair and a big goofy grin on my face like everyone else in this beleaguered city.
Today let’s take a look at the last of my winter makes so I can focus on making a billion things out of all the crazy printed rayons I’ve picked up recently. Although to be honest, looking at these photos makes me quite sad since I lost one of the earrings I’m wearing, a white gold pair I’ve had for over ten years. Total ranty sidenote but: How do you all DEAL with earrings? It doesn’t seem to matter what type of closure I use; earrings are like a bickering married couple and one is always taking off for greener pastures without warning. A few hours later I’ll notice it’s missing and yell at the other one for not cluing me in that there was marital discord when I could have done something about it.
If this fabric looks familiar, it’s leftover from one of my Carolyn pajama samples. I love this flannel; so cozy and soft and destined to be a plaid Archer for cottaging and sugar shacking (sugar shacking being the time of year when Canadians pile into log cabins on maple farms to induce stage 2 diabetes while pouring cups of syrup on heaping plates of deep-fried breakfast foods).
The construction of this baby is nothing to write home about. I cut the pockets and yoke on the bias and did my best to match the plaids - so satisfying. The only hiccup I ran into was trying to source pearl metal snaps. After a lot of digging around I found them locally but for the highway robbed price of 6 for $8. As a result, I didn’t end up putting one at the top collar or along the cuffs, hence the rolled sleeves. Since then I’ve discovered it’s much better to purchase them in bulk on Wawak; I just bought a 50 pack of Gingher pearl snaps for under $10. Now I just need to pull out the snap setter and install the ones I skipped the first time. Rachel just posted a great DIY on snap buttons if you’d like to do the same.
The jeans are yet another pair of Gingers, with a denim I was testing that didn’t end up making the cut for our kits. I was really hoping to find a great waxed denim to sell by the yard and this one isn’t bad, but I wasn’t impressed with the recovery. I can get about two wears out of these before they start bagging out which isn’t good enough for you, my darlings. And then there is the gloss factor – I’m seeing a lot of back of leg lines that aren’t normally there in regular denim. Regardless, they feel pretty rock and roll. And also very winter. I doubt I will be pulling these out for another 6 months, at least. GIVE ME ALL THE SUMMER DRESSES.