Detroit Urban Craft Fair 2010 Recap

The 5th annual Detroit Urban Craft Fair was last weekend and I was so happy to be a part of it.  This is the fourth DUCF that I've participated in, and I have to say, I got super sentimental! Maybe it's because it's the end of a decade, but from talking to other vendors and organizers, I could tell that I wasn't the only one getting a little reflective.

Back in 2006, I was reading the entertainment section of the Free Press, looking to see what bands were playing as usual, when I saw that there was going to be an indie craft fair at the Majestic. Stuff that was actually handmade, not windchimes produced in a huge factory overseas like you would find at so many other craft fairs. I had been crafting and sewing clothes all throughout high school, so I was super excited to check it out. When I got there, I was so impressed with the quality, creativity, and innovation of the work that was there. But most importantly, I realized that there was a venue for me to get started with my own clothing business, which I had previously thought impossible without moving to another city.

I started my business a few months later, and here I am today! I still have a long way to go, a lot of goals I want to achieve, but it's been super fun so far.  There is a great crafting community in this city that has grown a lot since the beginning, and I'm proud to live here!

The Fillmore was packed with crafters and shoppers. Aside from the DUCF volunteers (who were awesome), I had some great help. Billy and our friend from Oklahoma came to visit me the first day, and my mom and sister came the second day. And it's our tradition for me to take my helpers out to eat after the show, otherwise I would have stayed for the afterparty.

The venue was so beautiful inside.  All the fancy, super-detailed ornamentation everywhere was pretty amazing. I felt like I was in some sort of fancy palace. Did anyone else notice that the balcony had no visible support beams? How does that thing stay up?

Amazing times!


Things to do in Detroit before/after DUCF 2010

The 5th annual Detroit Urban Craft Fair is this Saturday and Sunday at the Fillmore! This year, the fair has been expanded it to two days, Saturday 10-7 and Sunday 11-6.  They've also partnered with the Night Move for free shuttle service on both days.  For more info about the fair and shuttle service, go here.

Now of course, the Detroit Urban Craft Fair is reason enough to make a trip to the city on it's own, but just in case you need more reasons, here are some ways to spend your entire day in Detroit:

FOOD:  For an awesome lunch, go to Mudgie's Deli.  They use local ingredients whenever possible, and their food is super delicious.  They also have really good Michigan-made root beer. Mudgie's is open Saturday 11-9 and Sunday 11-4. Last year's lunch recommendation, still very good: Good Girls Go To Paris Crepes. For dinner, check out Motor City Brewing Works.  Fancy pizza and they brew their own beer, some of it with hops from Greenfield Village! I'm not sure what their hours are, but I think they're open pretty late. Last year's dinner recommendation was Slow's BBQ, also very good.

MUSEUMS/ATTRACTIONS: The Detroit Institute of Art has their Fakes, Forgeries and Mysteries exhibition going on right now. They also have Drawing in the Galleries for youth and adults together on Sunday, they provide all the supplies for this.  Ice skating at Campus Martius Park is open 10am-midnight on Saturday and 12pm-8pm on Sunday, and will only cost you $7.  And then there's the 38th Annual Noel Night from 5-9:30pm on Saturday. If you're looking for something a little out of the way, check out Hamtramck Disneyland. It's this wild creation in a backyard filled with carousel horses, little planes, and a giant Mikey Mouse head! The address is 12087 Klinger St and it's in the alley between Klinger and Sobieski.


For a list of crafty places and other things to do in Detroit, see last year's post.  And of course, leave a comment if I missed something!


Design Define Detroit

I attended Design Define Detroit at 5e Gallery last Saturday, and was really happy about all the people that showed up to support Detroit fashion.  The discussion panel on creating a garment district in Detroit was my favorite part.  The panel was made up of fashion designers, stylists, business consultants, and a city council member; all with important things to say.  My favorite part of the discussion was when Detroit City Council President Charles Pugh implored all designers, photographers, stylists, etc. to learn all aspects of their business. I wholeheartedly agree with that statement.  You'll never be able to produce a successful line just by drawing sketches all day.  I wish they had talked more about learning opportunities in Detroit.  Besides doing an internship, I don't know of anywhere else where you can learn about producing a line. (A great online resource is fashion-incubator.com.)

It was discussed how Detroit used to have a garment district back in the 50s.  My grandma talks about it sometimes, all the fabric stores and seamstresses that were there, I wish I could go back in time and see it!  My grandma was helping me fit a dress for myself and I was telling her about Design Define Detroit and she said "A long time ago, we used to dress up to go to the city. There were so many fabric stores; Michigan Woolens on Broadway, and Zemco Textiles...it was a big deal!" It will be interesting to see what kind of fashion district will form now,  I'm so excited to be a part of it!


Style Friday: Necklace Edition

I never really had any interest in wearing jewelery until this year.  I think it's because I've started wearing more than just jeans and t-shirts...fancy!  And what better place to pick up some great jewelery pieces than an indie craft fair!  Here's what I scored:

From Maker Faire Detroit: This treated copper necklace is by Courtney Fischer.  I really like the colors, it reminds me of an oil spill, in a good way.

From the Detroit Urban Craft Fair: This birch bark necklace by Bettula was a custom piece.  After wanting one of her necklaces for over a year, I finally asked her if she could make one for me in that shape.  That's another reason why working with an independent designer is so great.

From Maker Faire Detroit. This crocheted necklace from Muggy Tuesday used to be a pair of earrings. They made it into a necklace for me right at the show!

 From the Shadow Art Fair:  This is the first piece of jewelery I bought at a craft fair, and it's still my favorite necklace.  It's a set from Glass Action, the upper and lower peninsula of Michigan made from recycled stained glass. Sometimes I wear the upper peninsula alone, and people think it's a bat.

From the Renegade Craft Fair:  Adjustable balsa wood necklace from Greenola. I also bought this in red.

If you noticed the unfinished dress on my mannequin, it's what I'm wearing to Design Define Detroit tomorrow.  If you're interested in seeing a discussion panel on sustaining Detroit's fashion industry, you should definitely check out this event.


Baroque Music for Better Focus

I was listening to CBC Radio 2 this morning, and they mentioned how Baroque music really helps you concentrate while you're working.  I was immediately interested, because I often have trouble focusing and staying on task while I'm in the studio (one of the hard things about being your own boss). It is thought that the simplicity and order, as well as the fact that most Baroque music is set at 50-80 beats per minute, calms and focuses the brain.  All those are reasons that I dislike that type of music!  I find Baroque music boring, stuffy, too much like a musical math problem, but I decided to give it a try. I listened to it all day while I was working in the studio, and it worked!  If you have trouble focusing, I definitely recommend making yourself a Baroque music playlist.  Here's what I recommend:

Bach's Cello Suites, The Goldberg Variations (especially as played by Glenn Gould), and Concerto for Piano and Orchestra No. 5 in F Minor.  Vivaldi's Four Seasons.


Pros and Cons of Working from Home

 Yesterday was such a great day to be working from home; there was a storm brewing outside, and the house was so cozy inside. It got me thinking about how lucky I am to be able to work from home.  Then as I was daydreaming about cups of loose-leaf tea, and sleeping in; I realized one major disadvantage to me working from home.  A disadvantage that I could probably fix.  But first, here are the pros:

-Flexible schedule.  If there's an event going on, I can almost always schedule my working hours around it.  Even last-minute stuff.  

-Being an emergency contact.  When my little sister was in school, I was listed as her first emergency contact.  Since our mom worked a half hour away, it was way easier for me to rescue her from school when she got sick.

-Sick days.  I don't have to worry about the whole "am I sick enough to stay home, or should I go in...hmmmm" thing.  Even if it's something little like maybe I needed an extra hour of rest that day, I can do that, as long as I make up the lost time at the end of the day.

-Fancy food!  Since it's just a walk downstairs to my kitchen with many, many options for lunch that day, lunch is my favorite.  I end up eating a lot healthier too.  And, I can make as many cups of loose-leaf tea throughout the day as I want.

-The job.  I get to design, draft patterns, sew, network, graphic design, sew some more, (and teach piano lessons and music class) every day.  I couldn't have asked for a job I like more.

When most people list the disadvantages of working at home, one of the most common things is loneliness/feeling isolated.  That doesn't really apply to me, since I teach piano lessons Monday-Friday, and I mostly teach at the student's home, so I see quite a few students and their parents every day. And with the amount of people I often see on the evenings/weekends, I really enjoy the alone time!  My major problem with working at home are the distractions:

-Stuff that needs to get done around the house. Cleaning is the obvious one, but we just moved into this house a few months ago, and there are a million improvement projects to be done, which are often really fun (and super distracting).

-Piano.  Since I teach it, I have to keep up on my skills, so daily practice I something I have to do.  Daily practice is also really fun, and has a tendency to go on for much longer than I plan on.

-Sleeping in.  I wake up every day at 5:50 with Billy, but some days, if I convince myself I reeeeeallllly need the extra sleep, I'll go back to bed until 8.  Which is fine every so often, but not too much or I really cut into my working time.

-Blogging/Twitter/other social networking things.  For my field of work, it's something that must be done.  When I first started, I really wasn't into any of those things.  I thought Twitter was useless, blogging was just self-important, and all those social networking things were just a huge waste of time. I quickly learned otherwise, with all the opportunities I would find out about, and all the people I connected with and knowledge we shared.  And it's really fun.  But it can be a huge time-eater.

-Working on projects that aren't urgent.  Store order = urgent.  Designing new tags = not so much.  But one task might be a little easier than the other, so I'll do that one to procrastinate.  

What I figured out is:  I need to make a work schedule and prioritize my tasks.  That sounds like corporate speak, but I don't have a boss, so I gotta step in and make it happen!


Fashion Week Detroit 2010

I attended Fashion Week Detroit  last weekend and really enjoyed it.  My mom and I went down to the Motor City Casino for the days runway shows.  I had never been to a live runway show before, so it was a pretty neat experience.  There were six shows that day, with a wide variety of styles, and designers from Detroit and all over the world.

 Femilia Couture was the first show, and the show I wanted to see the most.  They're based out of Ferndale and use natural fibers in their designs.  I'm pretty sure they try to employ zero-waste design whenever possible, meaning pattern pieces are cut into shapes (like squares or triangles) that leave very few scraps of fabric behind.  I was impressed with what they did with those squares though!

A surprise favorite was Moosejaw.  I wasn't really looking forward to seeing activewear/outerwear, but the way they styled the show was amazing.  They had break dancing models, neon headbands, and Chuck Taylors and bright colored socks as footwear.  For a minute, I could imagine myself in puffy jackets and fancy sweatpants, even though that's not my style at all.

 Prophetik by Jeff Garner featured a live banjo for part of their soundtrack.  I also loved the styling of this show, with messy braids and huge mud boots.  My favorite designs were by Heike Jarik (a German designer with great taste in fabric), and Femilia Couture (local favorite!).  It was a great day of fashion, and I felt that the event was done really well.  I'll be looking forward to it next year!


Style Friday: Grumpy Out West Dress

Ensemble details: dress- made by me, belt- thrift store in Ventura, CA, belt buckle- flightpathdesigns,

Just kidding, it's not a grumpy dress.  And believe it or not, I'm not grumpy either...that's just the face I happened to make for the shot, whoops. I'm actually really excited about this dress, it's made from the first woven dress pattern I drafted. Last winter, I took a pattern drafting class at Haberman Fabrics in Royal Oak.  I learned so much from it, but one of the most useful things I got out of it was a personalized sloper.  A sloper is the basic pattern you start with, and you can alter it to make different styles.  My sloper was a fitted bodice, a straight skirt, and sleeves.  To get a full skirt from straight skirt, I slashed and spread the waist darts on the skirt to close them up top and transfer them to the bottom of the skirt.  To get the yoke on the bodice, I rotated the waist and bust darts up to the yoke and turned them into a dart-equivalent seam.  I do this whenever possible, I hate darts!  It's tight in the shoulders because I messed up the seam allowance, I either forgot to add it on, or I may have subtracted it. But this was just a practice dress, hence the weird fabric combo (that I ended up really liking!).

This is my favorite belt; I got it at a Ventura thrift store when we lived out in California.  It looks like one of those girl scout leather stamping projects, and it says PENNY on the back.  The buckle is one I've had my eye on for a while, I saw them at the first Renegade Craft Fair that I did.  I didn't buy it right away because it was a little expensive, but I only need one, and it's better than the box store alternative.

When I get some time, I'm going to start working on some winter dresses.  I've been super busy with store orders (not that I'm complaining) but I can't wait to start making some dresses for myself!


Renegade Chicago/DIY Street Fair 2010 Recap

Billy watching my booth at Renegade Chicago, during one of the rare times it was (almost) empty.
 What a busy September!  I had two great back-to-back weekend shows, The Chicago Renegade Craft Fair, and the DIY Street Fair in Ferndale.  Both fairs were awesome, there were a ton of people in attendance, and the vendor selection was top-notch.  I was honored to be included amongst so many awesome artists.

Renegade was awesome as usual, and my booth was right across the street from Starfruit! I had frozen kefir evvveryday and it was amazing. This was the first big show Billy has helped me out with, and he was pretty impressed with it too.  He also realized how tiring they are!  My mom came to visit, but only for fun and shopping, no working vacation for her this time.  I saw a lot of old friends, and made some new ones.  One of my new favorites is Laura Fauna. And oh man, did I buy a ton of handmade goodness.  But I'll save that for another post. I also indulged myself in one of the temporary tattoos from the Renegade booth.  This year's design was so good, I couldn't resist plastering it on my forearm!

Billy was such a great helper!  Parking my car, carrying heavy stuff, watching my booth while I went walking around, and even rigging up this contraption to carry my set-up back to the car.

The DIY Street Fair in Ferndale was also a great show.  This was my first year doing it, and I thought it was run very professionally, and they sure brought a lot of people in!  One of the great things about this show is that they provide you with a tent.  Another great thing about this show is all the great bands they had lined up to play.  I didn't have any helpers for this weekend, and I was pretty bummed that I didn't get to walk around and check out what everyone else was doing.  This was the first show that I successfully built a changing room, and it was a big hit.  I'll definitely be including a changing room in all my future displays.
I loved the twinkie car at DIY!

I love doing shows, but it's true that there can be too much of a good thing! I'm glad to have a bit of a break from the city, and work on shenanigans, bonfires, and painting our house. But give me a month, and I'll be super-stoked about the next craft fair, no doubt!


Style Friday: Plaid Beatrix

This top is one of my new Fall designs.  It wasn't originally meant for me, it was supposed to be for sale at the Renegade Craft Fair this weekend.  But...I made a huge mistake on it!  I cut out the pieces with the grain going the wrong way, so it stretches along the length of the body instead of the width.  I couldn't sell it like that, but it fit me fine, even with the backwards stretch.  It was a happy end to a sewing mistake.

This top is a good transitional piece for Fall, since it has longer sleeves and the material is a bit thicker. When it gets colder in the evening, I wear my grey zip-up over it, and I'm good to go!  And my ubiquitous cut-offs too. I wore this top almost every day last weekend (it was a four-day weekend too, haha) It's pretty much perfect!

I named it the Beatrix Top, continuing with the old-fashioned lady names.  I think I'm going to switch to old Detroit-area street names now, I'm running out of ladies names, and some of the older street names are really cool.  Any street name suggestions?  They have to be old, and from the tri-county area.

braid detail at the neckline


Renegade Craft Fair this Weekend!

The 8th annual Renegade Craft Fair is this weekend (Saturday and Sunday, 11am-7pm).  Each year gets better and better!  For a full list of what's going on, check out http://www.renegadecraft.com/chicago. Here are some of the things I'm most excited about:

-Wood St. has been transformed into "Craft Alley" with crafty documentary screenings, hands-on activities and workshops. 
-Marching bands and DJs from Reckless Records. 
-How cute is this: a bicycle parking lot!
-Reallllllly good food everywhere.

But really, there's so much more going on, so definitely make sure to check out the above link for more awesomeness.  I'm putting the finishing touches on my Fall designs, they'll be for sale.  I'll be booth #241, see you there!


Pretty Packaging

I love getting packages in the mail.  It's even better when they're in super cute boxes.  But what I love even more than that is putting packages in the mail.   There's a path at the back of my house that goes through the woods and ends up right by the post office, and it's like a little adventure every time I go there. I've been working on perfecting the packaging I send my Always the Forest clothing out in.  The boxes I use are 100% post-consumer waste, and recyclable. And they're made in Illinois! I can't use these boxes when shipping internationally (booo!) but I still decorate the bags I use for those orders.

I package the clothing item in these awesome newsprint bags.  I bought a huge bulk package of them a few years ago, and that place has since gone out of business.  I'll be so sad when I run out! I got that awesome Always the Forest stamp custom-made by http://www.etsy.com/shop/AsspocketProductions, and the other stamps are also from Etsy.

Invoice, business card, and a little note from me.

 And done!  I need to figure out some sort of water-proofing solution, just in case a package gets left out in the rain.  I'm thinking a small plastic bag for the garment itself, I just need to find a good supplier.

Maybe it seems like a lot of effort to stamp and sticker the bags and boxes, but it really doesn't take that long, and I think it's important for the package to be as nice as the clothing inside.  Plus, stamping things is fun for me anyways!


Style Friday: My Favorite Wrap Skirt

So I've been doing good with the whole not-buying-anything-new part of my goal this year...I only bought one pair of pajamas from target.  Anything else has been made by me, or another local, independent designer.

In the summer, I basically rotate through the same few clothing items.  If I'm going to be working, getting dirty, or exploring, I wear cutoffs and a t-shirt.  If I'm teaching, I'll wear a skirt and a plain shirt.

But! The more fancy clothing I make for myself, the more I get to dress up!  Which is kinda fun.  I made this skirt a while ago, and I wear it so often.  It's the first Hattie wrap skirt that I made.  It's super comfortable, but looks really fancy.  I was working in it today, that's why it's wrinkled. 

My next project is going to be making some plain tops for myself.  I bought the ones in the picture last year, or maybe two years ago, probably from Target.  They're getting a little worn out, and I'd like to make some that are a little better in quality.

Close-up of my shoes, they matched the fall leaves.  I can't wait for tights and sweater season! But that's probably because I'm an old lady at heart.


While I was on Vacation....

Billy and I took a trip up to Torch Lake with a bunch of our friends last week.  It was nice to get away for a little bit, but I was worried I might get behind on my sewing.  My mom called me up during my trip and tells me she found a ton of remnants in really great fall colors, and should she pick some up for me?  I was pretty excited about that, since I was running low on fabrics that would be good for this season.  She calls me again a few days later and said, "I designed a dress, and Grandma made a pattern for it."  My mom is a pretty stylish lady, so I didn't doubt it would be a great dress.  When I got home, she showed me the dress, and I was totally floored! It's a mock wrap dress, with a cascading ruffle down the side of the skirt.  It's so pretty!  And my grandma presented me with a bundle of homemade pattern pieces, plus another dress pattern that they made! 
All I have to do now is double-check the pattern and grade it.  And sew a ton of dresses!  I am super excited about the fabric too, my mom picked up a lot of really unique, beautiful pieces.  The Renegade Craft Fair is in two weeks, and the DIY Street Fair is the weekend after that.  I can do this!


This Summer in Craft Shows...

Marching band at the Shadow Art Fair
This has been another exciting summer filled with amazing craft shows.  Since we bought a new house, I've been stocking up on awesome handmade housewares too.  Ahhh the shopping is so good at these shows!  But you probably don't need me to tell you that...  The Shadow Art Fair in Ypsilanti was goofy/weird/interesting/and filled with wildly entertaining excellence as usual.  A marching band suddenly came through about mid-day, and startled me! And this year I was finally of age to try the Shadow Brew, and it was delicious.  It's a 12-hour fair, noon to midnight, and I don't know how they keep it packed full for all 12 hours...oh wait, I know, because it's a great fair!
Shadow Brew!

Mitten Made in Ann Arbor got rained out!  I think Ann Arbor got record rainfall that weekend, and a few tornado warnings.  So we moved inside the Blue House and I had a great time talking with the wonderful crafty ladies there.  Plus the Blue House is sooo cute!

Maker Faire was the next weekend, and I was so impressed.  I began to unload my car, and five or six people gathered around my trunk and unloaded it for me!  They even set up my booth while I parked my car! Apparently the Henry Ford is fulled staffed with assistants, and that wasn't out of the norm.  Awesome!  There were so many interesting things happening outside of the Craft tent, like the Life-Sized Mousetrap, or the crazy bicycle contraptions running around.  I wish I could have gotten out to see it all, but I think I'd need an entire day.

My booth set-up at Maker Faire
 My booth neighbors were Worn Magazine and Burnt Desserts.  I was also next Carrie of Burnt Desserts at Mitten Made, and she is the sweetest person who makes the most adorable miniature food items like sushi hair clips.  At both fairs, when I would get really hungry, I would lean over to her booth and tell her how cute her stuff was but it would be way better if it was real food, haha. The ladies at Worn Magazine came all the way from Toronto.  I've been getting their magazine for the past few months, and I definitely recommend checking it out, if you're looking for a non-traditional fashion magazine.
Part of the Life-Size Mousetrap at Maker Faire Detroit

But craft show season isn't done yet!  I'm looking forward to Renegade Chicago (9/11-12), and the D.I.Y. Street Fair in Ferndale (9/24-26) and hopefully a few more in the fall and winter.


Crafty Books for My Birthday

Last week was my 22nd birthday, and it was great! I got some awesome sewing books, and a box of really good chocolates (in super cute packaging) made locally in a town near mine. 

I got the third book in the Built by Wendy series, this on is all about dresses.  I already own Sew U and Sew U: Home Stretch, and this one looks just as good as the first two.  Which I highly recommend for both beginning and experienced seamstresses.  It also comes with full-sized patterns for you to use!

Alabama Studio Style: More Projects, Recipes & Stories Celebrating Sustainable Fashion and Living is full of gorgeous projects with an emphasis on hand sewing. I want to make the red tank dress first, it's so beautiful.  Hand sewing will also allow me to have a project that I can take anywhere.  Machine sewing isn't exactly a super social craft...it's kind of hard to lug a big machine around with me to craft nights, so I'm really excited to finally have some portable projects.

This weekend is the Maker Faire, and last weekend was Mitten Made, so things have been really busy around here.  I'm going to start working on Fall 2010 designs next week, and if all goes well, I'll have that collection out late August/early September. 

p.s. If you like the feather fabric in the background of the above picture, it's being made into dresses this afternoon, and they'll be available at Maker Faire!


Summer Show Schedule 2010

One of my favorite things about summer (besides swimming, ice cream, and fireworks) is all the craft shows I get to do! I love meeting my customers, especially the happy repeat ones (you guys make my day!) And of course, the other artists and crafters.  So if you've been wanting to see my designs in person, and maybe try something on, come check me out at one of these shows!

7/10 Shadow Art Fair, Ypsilanti - This show is awesome!  It's in Ypsilanti, at the Corner Brewery from noon-midnight.  This year, they have a vegetable oil-powered Shadow Shuttle Bus that will be running from the Corner Brewery to a few other locations in Ypsi that have more parking, and other activities (an art race at Spur Studios, performance art at the Dreamland Theater, and more music at the Savoy) going on.  The full schedule is here. And, of course, there's the special Shadow Brew. This year, it's a Penumbra Blackberry White Ale brewed with chamomile, lavender, strawberries, jasmine, pink rose buds, blackberries, and a bunch of other stuff.

7/23-24 Mitten Made, Ann Arbor - This is a two day show at the new crafty venue/studio in Ann Arbor, Blue House.  It runs from 10-5pm on Friday and Saturday.  Artist sneak peek is up on their website.  Though not on the same weekend, their summer class schedule is pretty awesome.  Check it out here.

7/31-8/1 Craft Faire, Dearborn - Craft Faire is part of Maker Faire Detroit, at The Henry Ford, 9:30-8pm.  Craft Faire is outside, in the Henry Ford parking lot.

9/11-12 Renegade Craft Fair, Chicago - Huuuuuuuge, amazing craft fair, definitely not one to miss. From 11-5pm along Division St. in Wicker Park.  The selection of vendors is always top-notch, and the restaurants in the area are sooo good!

I'm super excited for all these shows this summer, hopefully I'll see some of you there!



What a week! We moved out of our cute downtown apartment, up the street a few blocks to this awesome house on almost an acre of land.  Billy has a huge, two-story barn to work in, and I have the entire upstairs for my sewing room.  I really like how we're so close to the city, but it feels like we're in the country.

Our friends and family are the greatest.  They helped us out so much, from cleaning, to moving a piano down a flight of stairs.  And all my fabric and sewing machines!  The rest of this week will be spent unpacking boxes and organizing the house.  I don't even know where to start with my sewing studio, I have so much more room now.  If anyone has any pictures or links to blog posts about cute/practical studio spaces, please share them in the comments!


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