Wednesday, July 25, 2012

I never saw a hot pink cow... till now.

My latest custom plush commission started with this drawing by a little girl in Oregon.

Its name is "Marly" and it's a cow. I immediately thought of the old nursery rhyme:

I never saw a purple cow.
I hope I never see one.
But I can tell you anyhow,
I'd rather see than be one.

When I went to the fabric store though, the hot pink fleece matched the color of the drawing better than any of the purple fleece, so I went with the best match. Fast forward two weeks and here it is in huggable form:

Sometimes it's tricky interpreting the back of a child's drawing. The difficult tasks with this one were figuring out a way to make supportive legs and devising a skinny, yet supportive neck.

I did it by giving the cow a triangular rump and inserting a sewn tube of vinyl that extends diagonally from the base through the neck and into the head, then hand-stitching the back part, front legs, and head together.

Soon it will be sitting on the bed of the little girl who designed it.

I never saw a hot pink cow
But now I'm glad I did.
I took a drawing, flat and small
And made it plush and big.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Vintage Pattern Meets African Batik Meets kokoleo

Last month I got a commission to make a sundress using authentic batik fabric that was purchased in Kenya, Africa. The customer wanted it to be a 1950s style cocktail dress based on this vintage reprint Vogue pattern:

To be honest, I'm not a fan of patterns, especially vintage ones. You'd think with all the sewing I've done that following a pattern would be no problem, but I much rather prefer devising my own way of doing things, be it custom plush monsters or a cupcake costume or any other weird one-of-a-kind. Fancy grown-up dresses with darts and gathering and interfacing and buttons and hidden side zippers still intimidate me. Which is precisely why I said, "Yes, I'll do it." To prove that I can. And I did!


 It took a few weeks of careful planning before I got up the nerve to piece it together. One wrong cut and I would have been screwed since it's not exactly the kind of fabric you can pick up at JoAnn's. Luckily, I remembered reading somewhere that vintage patterns run about 6 sizes smaller than their modern counterparts, so while the pattern I had went up to a size 14, that's really a modern size 8 and I needed to make it a 10. Argh! Math! I checked the measurements against those I took from my customer and realized that the pattern was too small so I simply trusted my seamstress instincts and cut about a 3/4 inch extra on the sides, top and bottom and followed the basic shape of the original pattern. Thankfully it fit her perfectly.

Here's the back view. The skirt is nearly 4 yards gathered at the waist.

 The only materials I purchased for this project were the shoulder buttons. I have a billion buttons in my studio stash, but not 10 identical ones.

Working with the free-form, assymetrical pattern was a bit tricky. I took extra care to line it up in a balanced, flattering manner, making sure not to let the circles be two giant bullseyes on her boobs. I thought the cummerbund needed a little something extra so I added this oversize vintage plastic button that matched the colors perfectly. I've had that button for probably 6 years now knowing it would be perfect for something some day. 

And now it's done! My confidence in my vintage pattern-following abilities has grown and my customer got a one-of-a-kind, custom-fit, African batik, vintage reproduction, kokoleo cocktail dress.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Summer Games and Baby Names

Oooo the summer is flying by. I haven't posted since April! Sheesh. Where does the time go? For me it's gone into entertaining the kids, organizing a neighborhood bike parade and picnic, gathering materials for a community mosaic in our park, and teaching a craft class at happy delusions every Thursday:

I've also been busy with a steady stream of personalized pillow orders lately. Here are some pics of the ones I've done in the last few months:



Such great names!


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