Detroit Urban Craft Fair 2011 Recap

I only did two shows this year, and I was lucky enough to be able to participate in my two favorite craft fairs. One of those is the Detroit Urban Craft Fair. This year, it was in a new space, Detroit's Masonic Temple. The space was big and open, us vendors had plenty of room to stretch out.  And the Masonic has a ton of character too! When Billy first got up to the room, he looked at the floor and asked, "Do people roller blade in here?" The Drill room happens to be where the Detroit Derby Girls practice. There was a ton of amazing architectural detail throughout the building, but I didn't get a chance to take any pictures of that.

There were a ton of shoppers, I heard we had over 3,500! I noticed that there were a lot of people from out of state, either just as visitors, or as recent transplants to Detroit. A family I met had just moved here from Portland, and the mother brought her two daughters to DUCF to show them that Detroit has cool stuff like Portland does. I would say she definitely brought them to the right place! A girl from Toronto came up to me and said that her and her friends took the trip to Detroit that weekend and used my guide to the city to plan their visit. I was so happy about that!

I turned my booth space into a mini-boutique, I loved all the space I had. There were a lot of creative displays this year. All the vendors got a free Square credit card reader in their vendor bags, so I set up an account with them to give it a try, and it is so much easier than using the old knucklebusters!

And finally, all the stuff I got! Official DUCF poster, Hell Yeah Michigan t-shirt from Alisa Bobzien, lip balm from Aromaholic, birch bark cardinal ornament by Bettula, and cast iron pan handle protectors from Tourist Park.

I had an awesome time seeing all my returning customers, meeting new friends, and catching up with my crafty friends. I can't wait for next year!


The Small Craft: pop-up craft shop and skillshare

Last month, I went to the first-ever Small Craft pop-up shop. Started by Amy of My Marigold, Small Craft is donations-based craft store. That means it's filled with a bunch of awesome vintage supplies, but also some really nice things (like super fancy yarn and silk noli) too. Until they secure a retail space, they're doing a once a month pop-up at the Trumbullplex Theater. Along with setting up shop, there is a skillshare hosted every month. Last month, it was learning how to knit. I stopped by to participate in the skillshare, and I bought some vintage library book return pouches.

This month, the skillshare is sewing draft-blockers made from ties, to go under drafty doors. There will be cupcakes, coffee and tea. The pop-up shop runs 12-6pm, you can rsvp and get all of the details here.

The thing I really like about this is the variety of supplies they have. You can go to a big chain craft store, but the stuff there is always the same. At The Small Craft, I can get vintage stickers, sewing patterns, library return pouches and other bits of ephemera. And there are the mainstays too: fabric, yarn, etc.

The cozy knitting skillshare last month. We were serenaded by a string duo!

Photo by Anne of the Handmade Gift Guide

This is me trying very hard not to mess up my knitting....and failing! Melissa was a very patient teacher though. My knitting project is now sitting neglected, I think I'll stick to sewing.

The website is http://thesmallcraft.com/, I definitely recommend checking out this little shop for some awesome/random/vintage craft supplies!


Things to do in Detroit before/after DUCF 2011

The Detroit Urban Craft Fair is this weekend!!! It's at the Detroit Masonic Temple this year, in the Drill Room on the thirteenth floor. There will be 80 different vendors, weaving demos, and the traveling Trumbullplex Zine Library.

This is my third annual guide to Detroit for those who are coming to the Detroit Urban Craft Fair. This one is going to be especially grand because of two things: a lot of new shops/restaurants/fun places opened up this year (we got three new coffee shops over the summer!), and I am one year older, and have had one more year to find this stuff. People are traveling to DUCF from Cleveland, Chicago, and maybe even farther, so I'm adding overnight accommodations and more evening events to the guide this year. And as always, your ideas are welcomed and encouraged in the comments.

Places to eat:

Good Girls Go To Paris Crepes - I mention this place every year, because it's so awesome! Sweet and savory crepes, filled with ingredients like boursin cheese, spinach, brie, nutella, brown sugar, and fresh fruit. But check out the menu for yourself.

 Motor City Brewing Works - Pizza place with local beers in a really cozy place. They have these delicious herbal sodas, but I'm not sure if that's a regular thing.

Traffic Jam & Snug - A little more expensive, but definitely worth it. Aside from being a restaurant, they're a bakery, a brewery, and Michigan's smallest licensed dairy. The inside is really neat too, lots of different rooms, and an upstairs level.

Honorable mentions: Mudgies (three different kinds of root beer!), Le Petit Zinc (french food), Majestic Cafe, Avalon International Breads(sea salt chocolate chip cookies!), Russel St. Deli.

I tend towards places that use locally grown/made ingredients. Detroit has a lot of great burger places, coney islands, mexican food, but that's not my specialty. If you know of a place that should be mentioned, post a comment!

Coffee shops:

14 East - I ordered a mocha latte here, and they put actual truffle shavings directly in my coffee. Pretty fancy. They also have locally-made macarons and other pastries here. In the same building as Leopold's Books. Open 8 - 4.

image via Crain's Detroit

Astro Coffee - More fancy coffee, right by Slow's BBQ and the old train station. Open 8:30-6pm.

Thistle Coffee - Simpler coffee, friendly staff. When Billy asked if they could scoop some ice cubes in his cup of coffee, they didn't look at him like he was nuts.  This place is also open late, until 9pm.

Cafe Con Leche - This one has been around for a while. Espresso drinks + traditional latin drinks. Mexican hot chocolate, and of course, cafe con leche. Located in southwest Detroit, open until 6pm.

Things to do around town:

Noel Night - Noel Night is like a giant open house for over 60 Midtown venues, go to the website and download the schedule, there's a billion neat things going on Saturday night. Highlights would be: horse-drawn carriage rides, the Reindeer Run (a photo scavenger hunt), but seriously, just check out the schedule, there's a ton of stuff going on.

Image by Corine Vermeulen.
Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit -  open 11-5, you can check out the current exhibition, Considering A Plot (Dig For Victory), examining victory gardens and urban farming.

Pop Up Detroit -  an art exhibition that transforms The William Boydell House with the works of over a dozen local artists. Opening reception on Saturday from 5 - midnight.

Detroit Institute of Arts - I heard the Detroit Revealed photography exhibition is worth a trip, museum open 10 - 5.

Live music: Breathe Owl Breathe is playing at the Scarab Club, 8pm Saturday.

Places to stay the night: 

Hostel Detroit - For $23.00 a night, you can get a single bed in an open room, plus a city orientation by the staff. Gated parking is available, make your reservations online.

Honor + Folly - This one is so brand spankin' new, that this will be the first weekend this bed and breakfast is open for business. Located on Michigan Avenue right by Slow's BBQ, Astro Coffee, and the Sugar House Bar, you can rent the entire apartment for $165 a night. The space is decorated with goods made by Detroit and Midwest-based designers and artisans, and you get a fully-stocked kitchen, wi-fi, and bikes to ride.

The Inn on Ferry Street -  This is another bed and breakfast, for $160 a night, you can stay in one of the four impeccably-maintained Victorian houses, and they provide shuttle services.

If hostels and bed and breakfasts aren't your thing, you can stay at one of the fancy hotels downtown, like the Greektown Casino Hotel ($99), Motor City Casino Hotel ($125), or get really fancy and stay at the Westin Book Cadillac ($219).

For more things to do and places to eat, check out my 2010 guide and 2009 guide. See you at DUCF!


November News from Always the Forest

A lot of good stuff has been happening recently at Always the Forest headquarters. This is the last week for my pop-up shop at 71 Pop, so if you haven't been by the store to check it out, now is your chance! It's located at 71 Garfield, right across the street from MOCAD.

The Detroit Urban Craft Fair is one week away! It's this coming Saturday and Sunday (12/3-4), at the Detroit Masonic Temple. I'll be posting my annual guide of things to do in Detroit, so if you're looking to plan a weekend in the city, check back here tomorrow for a nifty guide. Event details and RSVP here.

Speaking of craft fairs, Amanda of Dang Argyle wrote a guide to Michigan indie craft fairs in the month of November and December. There is literally one or two every weekend for eight weeks! Check out the guide here.

I finally got my dedicated photography corner all set up, so the webstore will be up and running the week after DUCF, finally! I got my white backdrop installed in a part of the studio where the natural light is pretty consistent, and I picked up a nice dress form to display the clothing. I got my dress form from Detroit Store Fixture on 8 Mile and Livernois. They had everything from gridwalls to price tag guns, if you wanted to get a little bigger with your craft fair display, this would be the place to visit.

Things I am loving right now: homemade egg nog (fresh cream from the dairy down the road, egg yolks, maple syrup, vanilla, and fresh nutmeg; the best!), rush shipping (but not the price), our new Brother printer (not an ink hog!), epsom salt baths with lavender, cardigans (I'm making a ton of them for DUCF), and having a local sewing machine shop that can do emergency repairs on my machines (and the how the ladies scold me for having too much lint in my machines.)

If you're looking for some interesting things to read, some things I've been enjoying lately are: Curbed Detroit (brings me back to our house-hunting days), the new HuffPost Detroit, Fashion Incubator (for the technical side of fashion design), the No Trash Project, and this craft fair poster collection.

I'll leave you with a picture of my dog Emmett, who just turned one year old. He like to wander upstairs to the studio and look out the window.


Detroit Design Festival!

There is a ton of really neat stuff happening in the city this week for the Detroit Design Festival. Tomorrow, I'm having a trunk show at Goods. All my new fall designs will be there, plus a sample sale section. The samples will be some awesome deals, I'll have dresses and tops going for $15-25. Mark Heggie will also be there with t-shirts, posters and paintings. The event goes from 2-5pm, and it's at Goods, in the Park Shelton in Midtown.

And since you'll be at the Park Shelton, I would check out the new coffee place, 14 East, and Leopold's Books. A list of all the DDF events happening on Sunday is here.

On Tuesday, 71 Pop is having a party! Come check out my pop-up shop, there will be food, music and lovely fashions from 2-9pm. More info and RSVP here; 71 Pop is located in Midtown, just behind MOCAD.


Renegade Craft Fair Chicago '11 Recap

Ok, I'm just going to say it: if you missed the Renegade Craft Fair in Chicago this year, you should be really bummed!  RCF has always been top-notch, but this year was exceptionally great. I couldn't make the rounds all in one day because there were so many booths that I wanted to stop and take a look at. I ended up getting: a tank top from Make it Good, two RCF event posters by Mat Daly, neon arrow/feather earrings and lotus necklace from Scarlett Garnet, a sea urchin spine necklace and a silk rope necklace from my awesome boothmate, Yellowgrey.

This year, vendors has the option to be paired up with another vendor and share a booth. I decided to do that this year, and the Renegade organizers did a great job matching me up with Yellowgrey. The colors and aesthetic of our items went together really well, and we had a lot of similar display elements. Plus, Kristina was an awesome girl! This was her first show, and I was really impressed with how prepared she was.

Billy had the idea of bringing a wagon with us so we could haul our stuff to the car quickly, without having to wait for a super close parking space. He is seriously the best helper. I had framed some fabric in embroidery hoops to use as booth decorations, but forgot to add loops of fishing line to hang them up with, so I had Billy tie them on while I was setting up. A lady stopped by while he was working on them and told him how great it was to see a guy doing embroidery. Then he started telling people that he was the one who sewed all the clothing!

Besides all the crafters/artists, my favorite part is the food. Frozen kefir from Starfruit, breakfast/lunch/coffee from the Milk & Honey Cafe,  sesame kale macro bowl from Native Foods, and iced horchata from BigBite Catering. So good!


September Events!

September is going to be an amazing month for Always the Forest this year. I have a lot of great events scheduled, and my own pop-up shop!

 I'll have my own pop-up shop at 71 Pop for the entire month of September. It's located at 71 Garfield (in the brick building behind and across the street from MOCAD). So I have my own little store set up, complete with decorations and all that good stuff, I'll post some pictures of it later. It's open Tues-Sat 11:30-7. There are four other artists sharing the space with me, more info at http://71pop.com/.  We'll be having a wrap party on September 27th, from 2-9, more info on that to come.

The Renegade Craft Fair in Chicago is next weekend! I'll be there sharing a booth with Yellowgrey, who makes some awesome jewelry. It runs Saturday and Sunday from 11-7.

 On Sunday, September 25th, I'll be having a trunk show at Goods (it's in the Park Shelton, right by the DIA).  I'll be set up with all my new fall designs, plus some really great deals on certain items.

I'll post more info about each of these events as they near, but if you want more updates, follow me on twitter and facebook.


How Craft Shows Helped Me Find My Way Around the City

Back in 2007, one of the very first craft shows I did was the Handmade Detroit Holiday Market at the Magic Stick. I still didn't know the city very well, the only slice I was familiar with was the strip of Woodward between the DIA and the Majestic Complex. (I was only 18, give me a break!) My mom was helping me out at the show, and after the show we wanted to get something to eat. My mom grew up in Hamtramck, and we would visit every so often to go to the Polish Market and Kopytko's Meat Market. And of course, we'd eat dinner at Under the Eagle, an awesome Polish restaurant. But we wanted to try something new. 

Luckily, I had some awesome booth neighbors. My neighbors were Emily and Andy, and they make household items decorated with maps of Detroit for their business, City Bird.  They are both lifetime residents of the city, so I knew they would be the perfect people to ask. Andy asked us what kind of food we liked, and we said "everything!" He went above and beyond our request and drew us a map with all these awesome places to eat. It was like a sheet of gold for two people who love food but were unfamiliar with the city. 

I kept a copy of the map in my wallet for a long time, it's pretty neat to look at it almost five years later. Some of the places have since closed, and now I can add a lot more places that I found out about later on. The crazy roads also make a lot more sense! So go to a craft show. The Rustbelt Market is open every weekend. Emily and Andy have since opened up their own storefront in Midtown. Try a new place to eat. Talk to the vendors and learn something new!


Handmade Fridays: Origami

A few months ago, I wrote about how listening to different types of classical music can help you to really focus on your work. Now I'll share my coping mechanism for when my work is driving me nuts. Like when developing a pattern is giving me trouble, or trying to figure out the best construction technique for a garment, or when I have a million photos to edit and resize. 

Origami! This art of paper folding is repetitive enough to un-irritate me, but you also end up with something cute in the end. I keep a stack of origami paper at my desk, and when I get frustrated with my work, I'll go pick out one of the pretty paper designs and fold a bird or two. The only thing I ever fold is paper cranes, I haven't really found any other design that I like as much. They will eventually be hung from the ceiling of my sewing room once the walls are re-done. You can find some really neat origami papers online, or you can use any sort of thin scrap paper.
Maybe I've got a bit of the spring cleaning bug, but I've been on an organizing spree. I tackled the monster task of cataloging all of my piano sheet music and teaching materials, which is awesome because I don't waste any more time digging through stacks of music to find the materials I need for piano lessons. My fabric stash is next...

Also! I'll be a vendor at the Renegade Craft Fair in Chicago this summer, more info on that as the date draws near.


Handmade Friday: Skirt from Vintage Linens

I wrote a guest post last week over at the Reware Vintage blog. You can check it out here, it's a tutorial for how to make a skirt out of vintage tablecloths, sheets, curtains, etc. I also photographed some of my best vintage linens, and wrote about where the best places are to find them. And while you're over there, check out the Reware Vintage store. Bethany, the owner, scours Michigan estate sales and a bunch of other secret places to find awesome vintage items, and sells them for really reasonable prices.

And a public service announcement for all you laptop owners: back up your hard drives! Regularly! I had an external hard drive all set up and backed it up regularly for years, but recently I lost track...then my hard drive crashed and I lost six months worth of pictures and music and work. So if anyone has some good tricks for restoring data (I already tried running it in an external enclosure), let me know!


Summer clothes!

I'm really excited about the new designs I'm introducing this summer. I'm glad I finally get to use my collection of vintage woven fabric. The website will be getting updated gradually next week, and then you'll be able to purchase the new designs when I put them in the store. And as always, the fabric is either vintage or reclaimed from remnants, and most of the supplies and notions used to produce these pieces are purchased from local supply stores.

I'm also going to continue making the designs that people really seem to like, timeless classics that stay up front in your closet for years. Those are the best kinds of clothes anyways!

This is a fitted racerback tank top. The edges are bound with matching knit binding, but the really neat park of this top is the back.

The back has an inlay of vintage fabric!

And of course, I'm still making the wrap skirts with the bow, in lots of new fabric.

And my first dress made entirely of wovens! It has a comfy elastic waist and the fabric is awesome! Can you tell I'm really excited about getting to use my vintage wovens?

I kept one of these for myself.

Knit wrap dress.

I'm bringing back the Willow tops, and the wrap skirt again.

There will also be silk screened half-slips added to the shop, those are awesome for wearing under any skirts, especially if you're wearing tights or leggings underneath. And I would like to get some sort of short-sleeved cardigan that has a vintage fabric inlay in the back, but I haven't got one worked out yet that I like. I'll be adding these to the store as I get more sewn up, and select pieces are available at Goods in Detroit.


Handmade Fridays: S/S 11 Preview

Here's a sneak peak at one of the new dresses for this season. I've been doing knit dresses for the past few years; this is my first woven dress for the line and I'm really happy with how it turned out. I've accumulated all this great vintage fabric and most of it is wovens, so a lot of the clothing I make this year will showcase all that lovely vintage fabric. The fabric I used for the sample isn't vintage, it's from my own stash and I don't remember where I got it from.  But I seriously want three of these dresses for myself to wear all summer.

The dress has an elasticized waist, and I found the softest elastic ever. You know how some elastic is just really crunchy and hard? I definitely didn't want that. The back has a keyhole closure and and snap to keep it shut.

I just have to grade this pattern into the other sizes, and it will be ready to go up for sale. I'm thinking that I'll release the different designs as I finish each pattern, instead of waiting for them all to be done. I'm behind as it is, so we'll see how this goes!


Happy Memorial Day!

Today, I'm taking a break from sewing to spend the day doing home improvements with Billy. He served in the military (Army) for 3.5 years. He's pretty awesome. We're going to paint the upstairs bathroom and plant our garden today.

This week's Handmade Friday will feature a new dress for summer that will be up for sale very soon. I'm making this dress in three different colors for myself, and it's what I'll be wearing all summer when I'm not wearing my cut-off jeans.

Aaaaannd in case you're looking for something crafty to make today, here are some pretty good ideas:
-White Rabbit Ginger Ale @ Meals for Moderns - Perfect drink for hot summer days.
-DIY Bow Belt @ Elegant Musings - I'm planning on making one of these for myself in black.
-Oregon Rail Dress @ Burda Style - On my verrrrrrry long list of dresses to make.
-Pennant Rubber Stamp Roller - Pretty much explains itself.


Handmade Fridays: Awesome Chair

I bought this chair last summer in Ann Arbor at Blue House's craft show. I was a vendor there, and my booth was directly across from the booth of the artist who made it, so I got to stare at it all weekend. Whitney Crutchfield is the designer, and she makes all sorts of amazing textiles. She had mostly raw textiles for sale, but also a few things made with them, such as pillows and some reupholstered furniture. I loved the shape, and of course the fabric, so I ended up taking it home with me. It looks perfect in out music room, and really stands out against the teal walls. Whitney's website is here and she also writes for the Blue House blog; this post in particular has a bunch of her awesome prints.


Handmade Fridays: Hair Powder

Readymade Magazine posted a recipe for hair powder that uses horsetail powder, kaolin clay, and arrowroot powder. If you don't know what hair powder is, it's a powder mix that you sprinkle on your hair to keep it looking fresh in between washes. I also like the texture it gives my hair. The problem with a lot of store-bought powders is that they contain talc, synthetic fragrances and colorings; none of which I would want to be inhaling on a weekly basis. They're also pretty pricey, I can buy all the ingredients to make many batches for the price of one store-bought bottle. 

Horsetail powder is rich in silica, which promotes healthy hair growth, kaolin clay is absorbent, and arrowroot powder is a safe alternative to talc. Essential oils add safe fragrance, and depending on which one you use, could have medicinal properties as well. All the ingredients are from mountainroseherbs.com, they're a good, reputable company to buy from. I put the mix in an old spice jar, made a snazzy label with some stamps, and it's good to go! If you want to make your own, the recipe is here.


Handmade Fridays: Easter Dress from the Built By Wendy: Dresses book

I got the Built By Wendy: Dresses book for my birthday last year. I didn't intend for this to be an Easter dress, but that's when I finally had the time to finish it. This Built By Wendy book was another great addition to my sewing library (I already had Sew U and Sew U Knits by the same author.) The Dresses book goes into more detail about pattern alteration, though it is by no means a pattern drafting book. It comes with three simple dress patterns, and step-by-step directions to alter those patterns into 25 different designs. I found that this was a really easy project, but I have a little background in pattern drafting. 

Both of the materials I used for this dress are vintage; the yellow is from an estate sale, and the green is from my grandma's basement. I might go back and line the skirt to give it a little more body. One of my favorite details is the little pink button I used to close the back keyhole. I went to my grandma's house looking for a white one, but when I saw the pink, I decided I liked it better. This dress zips up the back, and I think the next dress I make will have an elastic waist since those are so much more comfortable! 
One of the dresses in the Spring/Summer '11 line has an elastic waist, and I just sourced some really soft elastic for them, so they will be super comfortable. As soon as I work out how I want the back to be finished, they will be done!


Handmade Fridays: Cleaners!

I decided to change "Style Fridays" into "Handmade Fridays" so I would actually have something to regularly share.  I kind of rotate the same dozen outfits week after week, and haven't made myself anything new in a while. I'm too busy making clothing for everyone else! (Which is no problem, I enjoy having a tiny wardrobe.)

For this first installment of Handmade Fridays, I'm sharing my arsenal of homemade, natural cleaners. Most of these are ridiculously easy to make.  And waayyy cheaper. Almost all of them are some variation of vinegar, baking soda, water, and essential oils.

-All-purpose cleaner = 1 part vinegar + 1 part water + 10 drops of any anti-fungal/viral/bacterial essential oil (lemon, tea tree, lavender).
-Fabric softener = gallon of vinegar + 20 drops of any essential oil.
-Glass cleaner = 1 part water + 1 part vinegar (though I realized I can use the all-purpose cleaner to do the same job).
-Air freshener/"Febreeze" = 8 oz water + 7 drops of any essential oil.
-Hardwood floor cleaner = Bucket of warm water + big splash of vinegar + 3 drops lemon essential oil.
-Spraying vinegar and then hydrogen perioxide on a surface will disinfect most surfaces.
-Dish soap = castile soap + anti-fungal /viral/bacterial essential oil (lemon, tea tree, lavender)
-The recipe for the shower spray/mold and mildew preventer is from The Naturally Clean Home, which is a handy little book with a bunch of natural cleaner recipes to use everywhere around the home.
-The recipe for the automatic dishwasher detergent can be found here, and it's easier to make than a pot of macaroni and cheese. All you do is combine the ingredients together and heat it up.

I found the awesome label outlines here, at the Just Something I Made blog, and I customized them to match what I was making, using the Diehl Deco font. Then I printed them and taped them on the old (thoroughly washed) cleaner bottles with clear packing tape.

So it was an easy project, and although it was a little time-consuming in the beginning to figure out the recipes and ingredients I could replace my traditional cleaners with, I enjoyed doing it. And making more of each cleaner is super easy and very fast. Plus, not breathing in mystery chemicals and not paying a premium for advertising and fancy packaging is a big bonus. 


Social Crafting

My main craft is making clothing. It's not a very portable craft. In order to do it easily and efficiently, I generally need at least two different sewing machines, a large cutting table, an iron/steamer, plus a lot of small equipment. Needless to say, I don't take my sewing with me to many social crafting events away from home.  The project I bring along is this cross-stitch pattern I've been working on for two years. It came from a set of French patterns, there is a scene for each season. I figure I'll have the entire set done in ten years, if I only work on it at crafty get-togethers and road trips. Speaking of crafty get-togethers, I went to Handmade Detroit's Social Circle last week and had a lot of fun. I worked on my cross-stitch, and made cute labels for my homemade cleaners. This month, it was held at i3 Detroit, which is a member-supported, volunteer-run, art and technology cooperative with shared work space, tools, classes and workshops. These crafting events are held at a different location each month, if you want to know when the next ones are, the best way to do it is here.


Last week was totally a week of social crafting; I went out with my friend Sam to get some fabric from the Fabric Warehouse and Haberman's. Some great fabric and super-soft elastic was picked up, and delicious coffee too. I finished my last piano accompaniment event of the season last weekend, so that means I have time to get sewing now! Hopefully I'll get new stuff for spring up on the website mid-April.


Goals for 2011

My goals for 2011 are quite a bit different than my goals for 2010.  I took note of what worked for me last year, and what I need to change. My goals last year were:

1. Update the blog more - In 2009, I made 1.5 posts a month (haha). In 2010, I made about 3 posts a month. I was aiming to post twice a week, but I realized that blogging isn't something I should be spending a lot of time on. I'll definitely continue with at least three posts a month, but I'm a designer (and a piano teacher!), not a blogger, so I don't feel the need to post multiple times a week.

2.  Have cohesive S/S and F/W 2010 collections - I did a Spring collection with a lot of new designs, but I didn't have a final collection for Winter, just some random designs that I was experimenting with. I'm not sure if I'm going to stick with that format again this year, because I would like to carry some pieces from year to year.  I don't design super trendy items, I try to make clothing that a person can wear for years. Creating two whole new collections every year is the type of wasteful fast fashion I'm trying to avoid contributing to.

3. Contact newspapers/bloggers/etc. - Nope, didn't happen. I kept saying, well it's not good enough, I'll wait for fall, or wait for next year, ect.

4. Set a proper pricing formula - Still working on this.

Overall, 2010 was a great year, if only for me realizing that I was pursuing the wrong things and figuring out what I need to focus on in 2011. Which is:

1. Pricing! - The idea of creating an inexpensive clothing line that is produced with ethically sound materials and practices is nice in theory, but I don't think I can sustain my line with the way I have my pricing set now. If some poorly-made knockoff from the mall that is destined for the landfill six months from purchase has a higher price than one of my designs that is made from ethically-sourced fabric, sewn in good conditions, and will last a long time both style-wise and construction-wise-- then my pricing is not fair.

2. Get my line in more stores - I focused on doing a lot of craft shows last year, they were super fun and I gained invaluable product feedback. Not to mention the comradery with other crafters, and being part of the community there.  As much as I want to do all the shows this year, I decided it would be best for me to do only a few shows this year. (The Craft Revival application was just up last week, and it was so hard to resist applying!) Craft shows have been a great way to start out, but I think it's time for me to focus on getting my line in more stores. But I will definitely be shopping at all the indie craft shows still, and participating in other crafty social events, so I won't miss that feeling of community.

3. Focus on getting more online sales - I hardly update my website.  That's so bad! Terrible! I would like to post new things a least weekly.

4. Balance doing all that with my teaching job. I just got a job teaching piano at a studio, so I got a bunch of new students in addition to the ones I already had. I love teaching piano, and will continue to take on new students throughout the year, so it will be a lot of work, but worth every minute.

I can't imagine what my future self in 2012 will be thinking, looking back and 2011 with all the new knowledge that I gained throughout the year. It's exciting!


Snow Day!

Lemon pudding cake from Cauldrons and Crockpots

Lately, I've been super busy with my other job, teaching music.  I just got a job teaching piano at a studio, so in addition to the students I have already, I have a bunch of awesome new kids. And on top of that, I've been doing piano accompaniments for our district Solo & Ensemble, so I have quite a few rehearsals every day, and then the events on Saturdays.

Yesterday we had a snow day, and I was super excited to shuffle around the house and do whatever. Billy also had a snow day, so it was fun hanging out with him when he wasn't out plowing snow from driveways.  I made a lemon pudding cake that was really good. And we have a new puppy, so we hung out with him and watched River Monsters on Netflix.

Our puppy Emmett; we got him from the shelter last weekend.

I want to get my Spring 2011 designs up on the website by February 15th, and I definitely think I can make that happen. My music stuff will slow down a bit after this weekend since all my accompanying jobs will be over. I have a huge collection of vintage woven material, and I kept that in mind when designing for this collection.  Prior to this, my designs were only knit materials, so I'm changing it up a bit. I'll post pictures here as soon as I'm done!


New Year's Eve Dress Reconstruction

Every year, for the past four years, Billy and I have hosted a formal New Year's Eve party. As part of my goal for 2010, I couldn't go out and buy a dress, I had to make one myself. There wasn't enough time for me to make one from scratch, so I decided to reconstruct a vintage dress I had in my attic.

The dress came from a garage sale of one of my friends in town. She had gotten the dress from our high school's theater department, they were throwing it out. I could definitely tell it was from the theater department, it looked like it had many last-minute alterations done it it. Before I could start making design changes to it, I had to fix a few of those hastily done alterations. The straps had been folded and tacked up with heavy-duty thread, and there were a few snaps that didn't seem to have a purpose. The skirt needed a ton of ironing too! The dress fit me almost perfectly, I just had to take in the waist a little. Then I lowered the neckline, added some gathered black tulle, and made a black satin belt. A pretty easy reconstruction that I thought turned out pretty well!
This ended up being one of only three articles of clothing that I made for myself this year.  I did great with the not buying any new clothing part of my goal, but I didn't do too well with the sewing part. I'll just have to try again next year!


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