Friday, December 18, 2009

It's Been Too Long! Also, Adventures in Drafting

So sorry I haven't posted for nearly a month, it's been a hectic time for my little family as my husband was out of town for nearly 6 weeks due to work. He's back now, and we're STILL getting settled into married life - we've only been together for half of our 3 month marriage. Not quite used to it yet, but we're making progress!

I've been working hard the past few weeks on drafting my new dress blocks for Rockin' B. The old blocks I was using are completely outdated in regards to my sizing, so a new set is in the works. I am also taking this opportunity to re-draft my basic sleeve block and the armscye on each bodice. After reading Kathleen Fasanella's section on musculature and armscyes in her book, I decided it was high time that I updated my patterns. After trying out the new bodice muslin, complete with new armhole - I'm amazed. The armhole is so dainty, cut so well... it just MOLDS to the body. I'm amazed at the small size as well, it really allows for amazing freedom of movement. I had a really easy time implementing the armhole change! My new sleeve, however, is a different story...

Based on Kathleen's advice, I looked up the c. 1931 drafting book by Harry Simons called "Designing overcoat patterns for men and young men". Lucky lou you, I found a free downloadable PDF of the book at the Internet Archive - yes, it's legal! Mr. Simons's book is hard to find and expensive, so printing off a PDF copy and making a little binder of the book is a great solution. Working from the double-breasted coat and sleeve instructions, I am attempting to draft a suitable sleeve for myself. The great thing about H.S.'s drafts are the armholes - they are drafted the way they're supposed to be, and mine now resemble his quite closely. His sleeve draft therefore matches his correct armhole shape; I figure I can mimic his sleeve draft to come up with a solid block for my own use.

The draft of the sleeve hurts my brain. Literally, it does. I need to just keep pushing through and complete the draft, even if certain elements don't feel right. Over the past couple of years, I've discovered that just forging ahead through difficult patternmaking problems has always resulted in a positive outcome.

In other, more fun news - I'm interviewing/measuring two potential fit models tomorrow. Hopefully one of them will meet my needs, so I can move forward with my dress patterns. For now I'm going to keep working on my two new skirt patterns, as I don't really need a fit model for those.

Here's looking forward to a productive weekend, a productive holiday break, and a great new year! Happy Holidays to all of you, best wishes for safe travel and a fun time with your loved ones.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Halloween Costume Final Results

I'm finally getting around to posting the results of my massive Halloween crafting surge - my costume turned out so well it's scary... no pun intended. I spent about 2.5-3 hours on my hair and makeup, which really paid off. Unfortunately I don't have a better photo of my garment, but it looked really nice. Let me just say - three cheers for eyelash glue - it was practically holding my face together.

I've decided to save this costume for next year, as I didn't get much of an outing with it this year. Husband was out of town, and many of my friends weren't participating in festivities. I did look good sitting on the couch though!

Harvest Muertos!

Please see this previous post for more info about my costume inspiration. I had a lot of fun with this project, and I hope to use this costume for various activities in the coming year. Why don't people have masquerade balls/dances anymore? It's not an activity that's confined strictly to the Halloween season, and I suppose I could be the one to host a masquerade event... but that probably won't be happening anytime soon.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Honeymooning at the Rockin' B Ranch

I've finally started working through our mountain of wedding and honeymoon photos. I've decided to create a hardcover portfolio of our photos using Blurb - such a cool company offering a wonderful service! I'm also planning on designing two smaller wedding books for our Moms, which I know they'll really appreciate!

Here's one of my favorite images from our wedding, shot by Eddy Price:

We have always wanted to take a great American trip together, so we decided to hit the rails and see the great American West on our honeymoon. Our trip on the Empire Builder took us northwest from Chicago, through North Dakota and Montana to Glacier National Park, where we stayed for a couple of days. Talk about some hardcore adventure driving! At one point, all I could do was close my eyes and scrunch down in my seat while Ryan navigated some of the more suicidal treacherous curves on one particular mountain road. Sheer rock face on one side, sheer cliff on the other - I nearly had a heart attack.

We finally made it to the Glacier entrance, and we were both absolutely floored by the beauty of the region. Words and photos can't describe such a glorious and pure place... truly the Crown of the Continent. I highly recommend that everyone take a trip to Glacier NP at least once in their life, it left me speechless at many turns. Just a few of my favorite photos from our trip to Montana:

e did continue on to Seattle from Glacier, hopping aboard the Empire Builder on it's daily East Glacier stop. We took a beautiful dinner in the dining car, watching for goats and other wildlife as we crossed the Marias Pass and made our way towards Idaho and Washington. The next morning we awoke to a gorgeous sunrise in the mountains of Washington; and as we creaked down the rails, the fresh sunlight treated us to a view of waterfalls and ancient trees. Again, breathtaking. I don't have quite as many photos from that leg of our trip... maybe none at all. The scenery is still so vivid in my mind that I really don't recall picking up my camera at any point. Just one more reason for Ryan and I to explore Washington again! Seattle was lovely, we had a great time - but my heart lies in the natural beauty we witnessed on our gently-paced journey across the continent.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Halloween Costume Time!

I absolutely adore Halloween. A few years back I discovered the amazing Mexican holiday/celebration, Dia de Los Muertos, via my high school Spanish language class; talk about an awakening! The imagery is fantastic and amazing, and I will forever hold a soft spot for traditional Mexican folk art, religious art, etc. due to that first splashy introduction courtesy of Senora Odle.

This year for Halloween I decided to pull out all the stops and create a BEAUTIFUL costume, something I haven't done for years. I never get to play around with costuming techniques, so I am thrilled to have the time this year (OK, I don't necessarily have the time so to speak, but I'm making time!) My inspiration comes from the amazing artists at 666 Photography in Austin, Texas. Below are a few of their pieces that inspired me to live it up as a Day of the Dead Harvest Muerta:

I have most of the flowers needed, tonight I'm going to work on making some bows and ribbon cockades, much like the beauties the House of Nines Design Etsy shop:

I'm also very excited about the makeup and hair - I plan on making some false hair pieces/rolls for volume, and tucking plenty of ribbons/flowers into my hair to create the beautiful crown that sets off each Muerta. I will be sure to take some photos of the finished costume! I'm excited to get back into the shop and finish this off tonight, hopefully.

Friday, October 23, 2009

New Shop Baby (and an old one too!)

About two weeks ago, I welcomed a new machine into my life. While browsing our local Craigslist, I came across a great looking Juki straight stitch, exactly what I'd been looking for. The price was good, so my husband and I made a very quick 2 hour trip to the machine's location, handed over cash and hauled it back. The Juki is practically brand new, and I'm so happy to have it.

I'm also on the lookout for a Juki overlock, a Merrow machine, and perhaps a blind hemmer while I'm at it. I'm so pleased to be moving forward with my machine "collection" - I worked exclusively on industrial machines in school, and it has been very frustrating for me to work on domestic/home machines ever since. Now I have a permanent shop space to use for my equipment, as well as the funds necessary to aquire said equipment - we're movin' on up!

This is my other shop baby, Reggie - who likes to eat thread if we don't watch him closely. He's down to about two lives at this point, and he drives me to madness half the time. But he's a great companion and injects a lot of life into our little household.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Gaining Ground

I officially filed for my LLC today, as Rockin' B Design (tm), LLC. I've been operating under a sole proprietorship for the past few years, so I see this as a very positive step for Rockin' B. I've also been hard at work getting back into patternmaking and sample making now that our wedding is over; I've decided to release a batch of 4 garments as my first cohesive line. I think 4 is a solid number to work with - focusing on 2 dresses and 2 skirts. I'm staying away from jackets and tops in general for now, as there are already PLENTY of western wear companies out there churning out shirts, blouses, jackets... you get the picture. I would love to add a solid jacket design to my line in the future, but for now I'm going to focus on items that are not readily available in the current western wear market.

Good plan? I think so.

Currently on my cutting table is the Dale Western Wiggle skirt, aka RB style# 120002. Though I LOVE naming my garments, I know that style numbers are the way to go professionally. I've been working from the beginning on establishing a good numbering system, keeping in line with Kathleen Fasanella's advice over at Fashion-Incubator. Production pattern standards are honestly so time saving, they are keeping me sane and my workroom much more organized. By the way, I urge everyone out there who's even thinking about launching a design or manufacturing business to purchase Kathleen's book - I received my copy as a graduation gift from my mom 2 years ago (I asked for it!), and it has been INVALUABLE to me as I've been scheming planning the growth of Rockin' B Clothing as a serious design business.

I hope to have more info and perhaps a preview of #120002 up within a day or two. The sample is turning out nicely, I haven't had much time to work on it while juggling all of the IRS forms for the LLC. But hey - progress is progress!