Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Glory Given!

One year ago, today, my life changed drastically.  My husband of 8 years and partner for 12 years decided he didn't want to be married to me anymore.  The moment he moved out, I made some of the hardest choices I've had to make in the entirety of my life.  I learned in that instant that nothing was going to change my circumstances for me, that I'd have to make the changes.  In being truly alone in my marriage, I also came to a greater understanding of not ever being alone.  I came to know that God is always there with me, that even in poor choices and bad situations, He is always working things to the good of those that love Him. 

In that moment I decided that I was going to seek help.  "Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counsellors there is safety." Proverbs 11:14.  This lead me to seek counsel in as many places as I could.  My church, friends and family.  Any that I knew were trustworthy became advisors.  

My other big decision was to change careers.  I'd been sewing for five years as a hobby and had gained enough skill at it that I felt confident enough to pursue a living.  The starting point for this plan was already in motion at that point.  I had been trying to supplement our income with alterations and commissions for a few months.  Those initial clients helped me start by being my best advertisement.  The biggest shout out I have is for Stephanie Gibson.  Her wedding and subsequent promotion kick started a long line of commissions that have carried me to where I'm at today.  She commissioned me to make a flower girl dress for Hazel and to alter her wedding dress.  It was a wonderful project.  Seeing and helping with her wedding also helped to restore my faith in the covenant of marriage.  It was a beautiful ceremony and the gowns turned out very well.

The dress, corset, bolero and dickey were commissioned by Joyce McCarthy for this year's Comic Con in San Diego.

Dude Vader, Chris Canole, commissioned a pair of pants and together with the Starwars Steampunk Universe group won the Costume Designers Guild "Hall Costume Award".

Since then I've been working hard to grow and learn both in life and in business.  I've learned so much and I have so many people to thank for so many things.  I'm going to try my hand at it here.

My parents moved with me and their support before & after my move as well as through this divorce have been beyond expectation.  My mom sews as well and has helped me finish many projects in the last moments before the deadlines. 

My dad is always there for me and his help has made so many things possible that would have taken so much longer to accomplish alone. 

Sarah Francisco for hiring me to make her a dress and through that, becoming my best friend.  There are so many creative things that have come from our friendship and the possibilities are endless.  I look forward to the future and whatever our imaginings bring about.

Mary Hoffman for her mentoring and love.  Linda Hoffman and Fawn Goodrich for loving me abundantly.  Kevin Miller for mediating and helping me try everything possible to reclaim my marriage, even through it not working out that way. 

A big thanks to so many members of my church family! There are so many that prayed and are praying for me and I'm so grateful for everyone.

There is new progress in the business too and there are thank yous due for this as well.

In the last two weeks the business has started to grow in ways I never expected and it's all due to receiving help.  I've learned that nothing gets done without help and that even if I don't do something entirely on my, it doesn't mean that I'm not successful.  All business is done with the help of others and I'm so grateful for the help I've been receiving lately.  

My cousin Candiece helped by giving me some painting work that resulted in trading some of my time for a tablet.  I'd been planning on purchasing one for the business for a couple months, but couldn't ever get the funds to purchase one.  Having a tablet helps me to take my business with me. 

This last weekend my mom and I went shopping for a good work horse.  A new sewing machine will help me thrive and not just get by.  I have had an ever growing need for a machine that can handle heavy duty jobs.  Mom has built a good rapport with a sewing machine shop over the last ten years or more.  We went in to look at the options and she helped me to finance a machine that works like a dream.

The other advancement came in the form of a business loan from a close friend and the purchase of a domain name for building a business website.  An investment of sorts in my business efforts.  This show of belief in me and what I can do is so encouraging and edifying. 

These things will help me jump start the business into the next phase.  This phase includes an online store that will help me sell beyond word of mouth and commission piece work.  Which means that you should keep your eyes peeled for unique and affordable clothing for adults and kiddos as I begin to list and post them in the next few months.

The first glimpse of this will be a craft show I'm vending at on October 10th.  I'll be set up at Bethel Assembly of God in Alpine from 10am - 3pm.  Come on out and see what I've been working on.  It's also the church's first craft faire, so come out and show your support for hand made and all of the vendors that will be working hard to help support this church.

I'm so excited by every advancement that I can't contain it!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Dapper Up!

Have you ever heard of Dapper Day? It's an event at Disneyland Resort, in Anaheim, California. It is a great time to go to the park of your choice, or both in one day. Why, you ask? Well, it's because the park feels nostalgic. It opened in 1955 and the feel of the park wasn't vintage then, but it is beautifully vintage now when you see photos like this.

The two ways to enjoy nostalgic Disneyland now are to look at photos like this, or to attend Dapper Day, where hundreds, possibly a thousand or more people attend the parks in style.  It is a feast for the eyes. I really can't ever get enough of this event.  Luckily, it happens twice per year!  Once in the spring and once in the fall.  Spring time this year, as you my recall, I debuted my 1950's version of Cinderella. This past Friday was the Dapper Day "Fall Soiree" and here I debuted one of two versions of a disneybound of the movie "Up".  If you're not sure what disneybounding is, just google it, or wait a while and I'm sure I'll eventually do a post about it.

Gary and I went together and it was his first time attending an event in costume.  I enjoyed every bit of it and to show you just how wonderful it was, I'll start with my favorite photo.

We were mid-way through our "Dapper" day and Gary reminded me that I had a staged photo in mind.  We had just disembarked from the Small World ride and found a perfectly underpopulated area of the park, close by, with the balloon vendor just standing there.  I'd seen people before ask the balloon vendor if they could hold the balloons and get their photo taken, so I knew we could.  I asked and Gary took hold of the big bunch of balloons while the vendor held the tails.  Then I asked the attendant at the food cart next to him if she could take the photo.  She accommodated us and took a couple shots as I planted a big kiss on Gary's cheek.  This photo came out so well and it is testament to just how much I love that Disney really strives to make every trip magical.

At Dapper Day, there is always an Expo! A hall full of vintage vendors.  Places to purchase your next outfit, a glorious array of vintage accessories and jewelry or to get a vintage shave and haircut!  There is also a themed backdrop to get your fashions of the day photographed.

We had spent the day before Dapper Day in the California Adventure park in our other disneybound outfits.  This set made me fell more like I was channeling Lucille Ball from I Love Lucy than Ellie from Up.  My Carl was as handsome as ever and together we ventured the park in style.

We made sure to stop by the Wilderness Adventure Camp to search for Russell, Dug & Kevin and to get our Wilderness Adventure Badge! It had been a long time since I'd been in this part of the park.  It is quite a neat little place. I really didn't feel like I was in Disneyland for a little while.

Both days I used a custom painted canvas bag as our travel bag.  It was painted with the mural from Ellie & Carl's living room and a banner saying "Adventure Awaits" and boy did it ever. I love adventuring and this event was a perfect place to do so.  This bag is currently for sale, so stop on by my Facebook business page if you are interested and if you'd like something custom that's different, well I do that too!

Thanks for adventuring with me!

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Honey bees, oranges, limes and lemons, oh my!

A few months ago I was introduced to a new client, Sarah, who wanted to get a 1950's dress made.  I knew her through church and a few parties I'd been to.  We started off looking to make a Disney themed dress for her to wear to Dapper Day.  I met her at Joann's fabric store and the rest is history.

It didn't take long for either of us to realize that we were going to be fast friend's.  We both have endless creative energy and that was made evident in the process of creating this dress that I'm about to detail for you.  We started with one idea and went through three before landing on the "fruit dress".

Firstly we thought about a Tower of Terror dress (which is now in the making, several months later, for a completely different event), then we transferred to thinking about a train conductors dress with the conductor mickey ears.  We also thought about doing a Jane Porter from Tarzan.  All of these ideas were possibilities when we first went shopping for fabric.  While at the thrift store (my favorite place for inexpensive fabrics), we found all the parts for Jane, including the adventurers pith helmet.  There is no way to explain the extent of how randomly wonderful this coming together of parts was.

However, shortly after we went shopping, Sarah found an absolutely yummy fabric printed with oranges, limes, lemons, bee's, and fruit blossoms.  It was perfect for the theme of that Dapper Day, which was "It's going to be sweet".  Their flyer included an orange with it's leaves and blossoms.  We knew we had to make a fruit dress out of this fabric.  Therefor the themed dresses were put on hold and the fruit dress project was commenced.

First I transferred the pattern to my favorite butcher paper.  I've started doing this with all my patterns.  I don't waste the whole set of sizes cutting out one size for one client. Instead, I can transfer the one size, adjust it if need be, and have all of the original sizes intact for the next client that may want the same or similar pattern made.

Then I made a mock-up with muslin fabric. Fitted it to Sarah.  My pattern drafting/draping class has been amazingly helpful and this was the first time I truly noticed how much I've been learning.  I knew from the class how to fit the muslin to her and that I didn't need to freak out when I had to take in a chunk of fabric in her back.  I knew from the class that this was okay because she has a gymnast/dancer's back.  She has better formed muscles in her back and a different resting posture than people who don't have a background in dancing.

After the fitting, I set to cutting the fabric. The cat-goyle decided to oversee the project at various stages throughout the duration of it.  She even wrapped herself up in the fabric hanging over the edge of the ironing board at one point.  It is always ever so much fun sewing with animals to help.

On the left you can see the white eyelet fabric underneath.  This is from a petticoat that I made out of a bedskirt that Sarah and I found on that same shopping day.  Below there is a full view of it.  It is the right length to just barely peek out of the bottom of her dresses. 

Construction of the dress naturally came next, after cutting the fabric.  I had to return to the thrift store to find a lining fabric and there was a perfect two set of lime green curtains there that matched beautifully.  It was a very soft fabric, but not silky as Sarah let me know she didn't like the feeling of the slick linings often found in jackets, skirts and things.

The bodice gave me the most trouble.  It has a contrast color shoulder strap piece that is sewn separate from the bodice section, then slip stitched onto the bodice.  If I had done it this way, it would have taken days of hand sewing in the evenings to complete.  I'm better at slip stitching and plan to give this process a try the next time I make this dress.  It really would make for a very invisible and clean construction of the bodice sections.

The first time I constructed the separate strap section, it was too big.  I had made alterations to the original bodice pattern pieces to fit Sarah better and didn't adjust the strap section pieces accordingly.  I spent some time, adjusted them and sewed a new section.  After that it fit perfectly and I just top stitched it to the bodice section instead of the slip stitch method.  It looked great non-the-less, as you will see below.

The completed dress, shown here, came out just fine, despite the slight construction setbacks.  Sarah wore it beautifully, pairing it with a vintage orange overcoat, white handbag, vintage style nylon leggings, and a gorgeous fascinator that she made to go with it. 

During out Dapper Day event, I went off on my own for an hour or so to check out the vintage market that the event hosts put together.  At one of the vendor booths, there were beautifully made wood jewelry.  They had so many wonderful choices, but the fruit jewelry was what caught my attention.  My final choice was this oranges pin that I knew would perfectly compliment the fruit dress!  Sarah loved it and wore it for the rest of our trip.

It was a wonderfully fun project and an equally fun adventure through Disneyland with Sarah and Justin.  Thank you so much for asking me to create something for you for Dapper Day and the friendship that has grown as a result!

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Cinderella Completed - Part III of III

The day of the ball and it was time to get ready to go.  First step was to prepare my golden locks. It took about 40 minutes for each side of my head, with the curling iron and half a can of hair spray.  My poor hair hates to hold a curl.  After both sides were fully curled, I took my large brush and gently brushed the curls into each other to give it an even, more natural looking curl.  I love before and after photos, so I took a few here for you to see.  My last step was to add the stick-on rhinestones to my hair.  Just peel off the back and press them in.  They stayed all day and are actually rather stubborn about staying in when you go to take them out.

After my hair was perfectly curled (thank goodness it behaved), I donned my gown and gathered the day's accessories.  At the last minute I called in the butterflies and asked them ever so kindly to land on my shoes, so that they could spend the day with me at the ball.

Ensemble completely donned, it was now time to head to the ball.  I got into my coach....and off I traveled...if only I had some footman and coachman to chauffeur me. 

Don't you just love the carriage hat detail!

My fairy godmother was there to wish me luck.  Debbie Boyd presented this idea to the leader to the San Diego Costume Guild and when the guild picked up the idea and ran with it, she messaged me.  She said simply...."You'd make a great Cinderella!"  This was all it took for my mind to start designing.  The full costume design had other inspirational factors leading it to what it became, but Debbie got the ball rolling.

My friend Sarah Pierce, aka "Cinder"ella, was here.  Gus Gus came along too, peaking out of her hand basket. So cute!

There were so many wonderful costumes.  About 10 (maybe more) ladies came as Cinderella in a wide range of styles.  Everyone did such a fantastic job putting their designs together. Including these two lovely ladies.  Cinderella and the Wicked Step-Mother.

Sarah, I mean "Cinder"ella, shining Cindy's, I mean Anastasia's boots.

Time to take the troupe into the Disney store, where we created quite a commotion.  The frenzy of photo taking with the castle inside and all of us clogging the paths through the store was exhilarating.  I really am so blessed to be a part of such a wonderful group of talented, creative and joy filled people.

There was a mirror at little princess level for admiring gowns that were being tried on.  It was the perfect height for snapping a photo or two of my glass slippers.

After the store experience it was time to go to the movie!  We paraded through the mall all together to go pick up our tickets from the box office and to prepare for the main event.  Many photos were taken while waiting and then inside with the giant movie poster.

All of the beautiful slippers from the day were captured several times.  You know that if the shoe fits, you should wear it!  There were so many beautiful shoes trying to hide under our elegant gowns, so we made a point to show them off throughout the event.  Jerry Abuan captured this fabulous photo of us doing just that.

Inside the theater we all got together for a group photo, or two or ten.  The Cinderellas all posed together for several photos of our own, then as well with any little princess that wanted a photo with us.  This truly is one of my favorite parts of dressing up, is to inspire and delight young children. 

The manager of the theater treated us so kindly and I was surprised to hear that it might have not been so.  The coordination of this event took quite a bit of time and so I want to thank our Daniel Fernandez and Tony Quirk for taking the time to put every detail together.  Planning for such a large group touring multiple places smoothly is no small thing.

The movie was all that we dreamed it would be and more.  The details were amazing and so fluid in honoring the original Disney film and in putting their own creative spin to it.  The costumes were so well done and I'm sure we all left feeling very inspired to create and sew.

Jerry Abuan's self portrait which was a portrait for me as well.  Thank you again Jerry for all you do for the guild and each of us individually, every time you bring your camera we are grateful and amazed!

After the movie it was time to catch my coach home, so I just went down to the coach store to be picked up!  We journeyed out to eat a fabulous dinner, my mom and dad and I.  Thank you all for a fun filled and joyful event!