Style Friday - Cheat Week

Style Friday!  This is going to be a weekly series documenting personal style.  My resolve for this year (and forever): To not buy a stitch of brand new clothing.  If I want something, I have to make it myself, out of recycled materials.  It's kinda shameful how many pieces of clothing I own that are from Target or some other unethical offender.  I know, I know, you're probably thinking "but Stephanie, you make all the clothes you sell out of recycled materials.  How is that possible!" It's my secret, frivolous vice!  I know how wrong it is, I know the harmful and far-reaching, earth-devastating, worker-devastating effects...I'm awful!  I'm putting a stop to it right now. This first week is a cheat week, I didn't make anything in this outfit, it's just stuff I owned already. Next Friday will feature something I made.

And don't worry, I'm still going to be mostly writing about behind-the-scenes designing/sewing stuff.  I'm not becoming a fashion blogger by any means, but I do think it's neat to see other people's styles every so often and thought I'd offer up my own once a week.

Outfit details:

Necklace- I put it together from another necklace and a belt I got at a garage sale.

Dress- Grey knit cowl neck and bubble hem dress, TJ Maxx

Cardigan- Mustard Lace, Rodarte for Target

Tights- Grey lace tights over teal tights, Parisian

Shoes- these are by far the coolest part of this outfit.  My grandma gave them to me, she got them from Poland.



The Fit Conundrum

Most everyone I know has some issue with how ready-to-wear clothing fits them.  Pants gap at the waistband, shoulders fit too tightly, tank top straps too long.  Billy's dress shirts fit him perfectly all over, except they won't button at the neck. For me, it's always the bust.  If it fits everywhere else, it's always too tight in the bust.  I used to say, "oh, I'm just disproportionate".  I used to think the problem was with me, and not the clothes in the stores.  Most people think this way, and are even unhappy about their bodies because of it.  The truth is, most manufacturers make those clothes to fit an average.  And the people who don't blame their bodies for the incorrect fit blame the designers for making clothes that don't fit well.  Neither one of those viewpoints is quite right, and this year, I want to attempt to come to some sort of middle ground.

When I started my line, I had no formal training or experience in pattern making.  Because of that, I've always been very conscientious about proper fit.  At that time, I knew that I wasn't doing a good job, but I didn't know how to fix it either. The only thing I knew how to do was make clothing that fit me. When I went to sell at my very first craft show, I had garments mostly labeled "small", and then a few "mediums" which I squeaked out from my "small" patterns by adding a little to the width and the length of the patterns.  Oops.  So I got a lot of feedback.  People were so nice about it too!  And they totally didn't have to be, since fit is often a touchy subject.  The overwhelming response was that my sizes (the two that I offered, haha) were too small.  So armed with the knowledge that my sizing was quite a bit off, I set out to correct it.

I've taken pattern making classes from the local community college, and I'm taking another pattern making class right now.  I've pored over the Fashion Incubator forums and studied The Entrepreneur's Guide to Sewn Product Manufacturing.  I don't ever think I'll know all there is to know about pattern making.  But I can try!  And that's only half the battle.  I want to design clothing that will fit and flatter a variety of shapes and figures.  Is that even possible?  I've been toying with the idea of adjustable clothing.  Like a wrap skirt and a wrap dress are kind of adjustable, sort of that idea.  After a week of thinking about that, I couldn't think of a way to make any place but the waist adjustable.  Adjustable shoulders?  Adjustable bust? How? So I think I'm going to try and make designs that are flattering to a variety of figures.  I have to be realistic, I don't think every design will be able to fit every figure, but I'd like to make it so it can fit more than just one body type.  The safe, rational part of me says, pick a target market, and tailor your sizing for that one body type.  But this fit conundrum is important to me, and I would be so happy if I could make clothing that women of many shapes and sizes could feel confident in.


Sewing Soundtrack

Listening to music while I'm sewing often saves me from getting bored, especially during long stretches of doing the same thing.  I found that when I'm working, I don't listen to the same music that I do when I'm just listening for music's sake.  I pick more upbeat stuff when I sew.  I'll also listen to WDET 101.9 (Detroit Public Radio), and certain shows really make the time go by.

I'm a sucker for anything lo-fi.  I really like Wavves right now, their album reminds me of summertime.  I also realllllllllly like Sleigh Bells, their song "Crown on the Ground" is so good.  The White Stripes, Black Lips, and MGMT are also on my sewing playlist.

Music with unusual instrumentation or intricate compositions.  Beirut, Olivia Tremor Control, Of Montreal, The Arcade Fire, Grizzly Bear.  Neutral Milk Hotel is one of my favorites....the singing saw is absolutely amazing.

Super upbeat, poppy stuff. Matt & Kim, The Seeds, Rogue Wave, Peter Bjorn and John, Belle and Sebastian, The Unicorns and Coconut Records.

Bands with good singers.  Sondre Lerche, M. Ward, Blind Pilot, Elliott Smith.

Classical music.  Satie, Khachaturian, Chopin, Beethoven, and Gershwin are some of my favorites.  Anything for the piano or french horn.

Bright Eyes, Rilo Kiley, and The Shins.  These bands get special mention, since they were what I was listening to when I first started discovering indie craft shows and everything d.i.y.  So they will always make me think of my first crafty days.  Awww.

What do you like to listen to when you craft?  I'd like some new tunes, please!


Ephemera Collection

Over the years, I've collected many bits of papery goodness.  Craft fair fliers, show fliers, stickers, business cards, magazine cut-outs, old pamphlets, notes, scribbles, you name it.  If it has a neat design, or sentimental value, I'll put it in this big old vintage suitcase with the rest of my collected ephemera.  Here are some of my favorites:

I got these at an amazing estate sale.  The bedroom dresser contained all these great pamphlets and a ton more.  The "Rules and Regulations for the Control of Communicable Diseases" is from March, 1937 from the Michigan Department of Health in Lansing.

Samples of my grandma's handwriting, and one of her customer's notes.

Table markers and a vendor bag from Detroit Urban Craft Far 2007 and 2008.  I told you I keep everything!

Craft show fliers and stickers.

More fliers, and two maps of good places to eat in Detroit that my boothmates from City Bird were kind enough to make me.

Favorite restaurant in Barstow, CA/Favorite restaurant in Spokane, WA

I love the design of these old National Park Service posters.

CCS stuff.

Old bag from the Detroit Institute of Arts.

More craft show fliers and stickers.

VG Kids are screen printers from Ypsi, and the crass side of me loves their slogan. Show fliers, more stickers.  Spokecard from the first annual Romeo Alleycat.

Vintage wallpaper, and scribbles from when I was designing a logo for Always the Forest.

Cut-outs from old Time magazines,  something from CCS, and a picture of goose-man from my 10th grade biology book that I liked so much, I tore it out and ironed the image onto a shirt. Come on, the geese are nibbling at his hair!


Crafty Decorations for a Crafty Room

I did a picture tour of my studio a while ago, but it didn't really show all the little details and crafty touches.  My studio has a sort of cluttery-cute aesthetic going on. I think all of my decorations are from garage sales or things I've made.  So here's a detailed picture tour!

I found these cartons at a garage sale.  They used to hold old phonograph cylinders, now they hold my pens, pencils, brushes and knives.

Another garage sale find: a vintage magazine cover cross-stitch.  The date on the back says 1970.

Using embroidery hoops to display fabric. Hung with twine.

The whole line of them.

Nooks and crannies: old blank scrapbook I found at a garage sale, amazing record cover with no record inside.

Lampshade covered with negatives.  It looks pretty spectacular when the lamp is lit up.

I was so excited when we moved here and had shelving built into our walls.  An area solely for displaying things!  How about that.  I was stoked.  Billy's cameras, my pyrex.

The rest of the shelving.  Cameras, yarn, and vintage thread.

Old thermostat, now a tape measure hanger.  Tip: hang up your tape measures instead of rolling them up.  They won't get all crinkled and worn that way.

More embroidery hoop fabric displays. That wall used to be the outside of our building, and the hoops are hanging from where the ancient power lines used to connect to the building.

 And because what sewing room isn't complete without some sort of mess...here is my current fabric pile.  Looks like I need to get sewing!


Goals for 2010

So this is the third year that I'll have made a list of goals for Always the Forest...but this is the first year I've actually made those goals right away in January, not March!  If 2008 was the year of learning, 2009 was the year of just jumping in and doing things, and 2010 is going to be the year of hard, focused work.  I have a feeling this is going to be a good year.  Let's see how I did with my goals from last year:
1. Update the blog more - Slight improvement here...I made an average of 1.5 blog posts a month, which is a little better than the 0.9 I made last year.

2.  Do a fashion show - DONE!  I did a small fashion show last May, and it was a great learning experience.  I'm not going to make it a goal to do another one this year, because I don't know how much it actually helped me, it was just more of a fun thing to do.

3.  Continue to do more shows - DONE!  I did nine this year: Craft Revival, Detroit Urban Craft Fair, Flint Handmade Spring Market, Bang to a Different Beat, Maple Days Art Fair, Movement, Renegade Chicago, Renegade Holiday Fair, and the Shadow Art Fair.  I want to do even more next year!  Doing shows is one of my favorite things.  I love seeing repeat customers again, meeting new ones, talking to other vendors, explaining my work...just the whole socialization part of it!  Interacting with crafty people is awesome.

4.  Get my clothing in more stores -  Not done, but I've been doing a lot of thinking on this topic that needs a post all of its own.  So more on that later.

Goals for 2010:

1. Update the blog more - Yep, I'm gonna give it another try this year.  My specific goal is at least once a week.  I have so much I want to share, and writing about it isn't that hard.

2.  Have cohesive S/S and F/W 2010 collections - I'm going to attempt a legit collection this year, instead of a few scattered pieces.  I also want to stay true to myself this year when it comes to design.  I listened to too many other opinions last year, and I didn't like a lot of the designs I came up with.  I'm giving this one a deadline: end of March for S/S collection, and mid-August for F/W.

3. Contact newspapers/bloggers/etc. - This is the goal that I'm really dreading this year.  I need to promote myself more and try and get some press.  And that means actually emailing those guys, which I am so not good at!  But this is a really important goal this year, so I'd better stick to it!

4. Set a proper pricing formula - To determine my prices, I've just been setting them at whatever I thought was reasonable.  I've had a ton of people tell me my clothing was underpriced, and very few complain that it was overpriced.  I've read about pricing formulas, like cost of goods + cost of labor + a bit of profit, and I think I need to get one in place so I can finally feel good about what I charge for my work.

I have a feeling that 2010 is going to be a good year.  I'm so excited to get to work!


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