Monday, November 8, 2010

Back at the Ranch - Home Design Part Deux

Continuing where I left off a few days ago... Part Two!

I've slowly been working on other rooms in our house outside of the "public" rooms. Our bedroom has been a bit of a challenge, I've been in my house for about 2 years and the bedroom has been on a delayed schedule of sorts. The public rooms were so easy for me - but our bedroom has one small window and presented a challenge for fitting in a queen size bed and select furniture. I like a lot of open space in bedrooms, however this one is pretty small for a "master" bedroom - old house, small rooms. My goal for this room was to create a focal point around the window and bed, creating a giant headboard look. Also, I love sleeping under an open window all year-round. Fresh air helps me sleep so much better!

Sad, sad bedroom before:

Bedroom after. Reggie (cat) included:

I think the window treatment helps create a lot of height. The white coverlet reflects a lot of light. The cat adds drama.
I repainted two bookcases the same color as the walls so they would give a bit of that "built-in" look. The wall color is not quite so saturated - it's a more delicate aqua in real life. The roman shade I made from some vintage style repro cowboy barkcloth, repurposing the mini-blinds mechanism that originally hung in the window. The curtains are IKEA relics from my college days (I think those were like $10 brand new at IKEA? Love it!) I need to get photos taken of the rest of the room, but honestly it's still a work in progress. There is a lot of random wasted space along the walls, I think it will take a bit more thought and experimentation to finalize the rest of the room. Please ignore the ceiling fan - it's needed for airflow, but I really need to find a sleeker model (maybe this one?) I hate those dingle-dangle lights - ugh.


I love hunting for vintage housewares. LOVE LOVE LOVE. As I said in my previous post, thrifting is one of my favorite hobbies. Nothing like the thrill of the hunt - I really do get an adrenaline rush when I spot something I like... approaching it quickly and quietly, lest a fellow hunter reaches it first... quick assessment, quick iPhone lookup for price comparison and value, quick buying decision. I usually decide on larger pieces in about 3 minutes - gotta be quick on the draw!

I found these awesome lamps at the flea market a coupla weeks back. They were a very quick buy, I couldn't resist for $30:

Got them home and started the rewiring process (I ALWAYS rewire vintage lamps - electrical fires are not fun. Take heed, take heed!) After taking apart the lamps, I discovered that the ceramic bases had been painted. Originally pink - PINK! - so of course I had to restore them to their original bubblegum glory. A bit of graffiti remover and a LOT of scrubbing were required.

Polished up the brass pieces, put the lamps back together, and they're perfect. They now live on my dresser with my other favorite pair, my very large brass 50s deer. Those babies are heavy, made out of solid brass! Another flea market find and snap decision - who doesn't want giant brass fawns in their home?

Final piece for show and tell is my latest Goodwill find. For $6, you too can own a cool MCM magazine rack, though it depends on the quality of your local Goodwill. Ours have been going downhill lately in the furniture department (we have 3 locations in town), but I was happy with this find. A lot of Brasso and scrubbing to make this one shine, but it was worth it! Now housing Atomic Ranch and Vogue, so handy! Also makes a delightful kitty jungle gym, as I discovered after hearing strange noises coming from the living room.

Whew... that's all I've got for now. I have a friend coming over in the near future to photograph the house properly, so I'll soon have better pictures of all our rooms. Real photos, as I keep telling hubs. iPhone photos don't count as "real" photos I've decided.

Over n' out!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Home is Where The Heart Is - Part One

Yet again I'm terribly behind on posting. It happens - life just gets so out of whack sometimes; my husband and I feel completely out of sorts! The past two weeks have been avowed "return to normalcy" weeks, which have been very helpful and I genuinely feel much better mentally and physically. Something about a messy house, a hectic life and no downtime really does me in - talk about MAJOR burnout. Rockin' B had a long summer full of shows and traveling, which I enjoyed very much; however I love being able to spend time at home working on house projects and haunting my favorite thrift stores for housewares and furniture. Working on our house is definitely what I consider "downtime" - I love doing projects and improving/refurbishing things, it really clears my head and gets my creative juices going. After a long summer, I've been able to turn my attention back to my home and the cozy, kitschy world I've managed to carve out for us.

Interior design has long been a passion for me (can one consider crayon-embellished walls a decorative treatment? I started young.) I've been able to take some time to work on my ongoing house projects and collect more fun stuff for the house. I have a weekly schedule of thrift stores and flea markets that I stick to in a fairly strict manner, and it's been paying off this fall. I wanted to post some photos of my projects, so I don't feel like a complete slacker in blog-land. I've dubbed my decorating style "Atomic Rodeo Queen Meets Deco". Yes, totally serious. Or not so serious. Whatevs!

Our house is a very well-maintained 1920s Craftsman bungalow, with gorgeous original wood trim and doors throughout. We have lovely little leaded-glass bookcases in the living room, and our kitchen is a classic pre-war setup with the original cabinets and cast iron farm sink. I'll be honest, I bought my house for the kitchen. I gasped when I walked in and saw such a well-preserved vintage dreamland! I couldn't believe that someone would preserve it so lovingly, opting to NOT rip out the cabinets and stainless steel countertops. The people I bought it from took such nice care of everything, and it really shows. Thanks Dan and Judy for being so nice to your house for so many years! Ryan and I really appreciate it.

Here's our awesome kitchen sink and countertops! I've replaced the hardware on the cabinets since this photo was taken... no pics, apologies!
We haven't made any intense physical changes to the bones of the house, other than ripping up almost all of the carpet to free the hardwood floors underneath. I did take down the monstrous ceiling fan in the dining room and replaced it with a super atomic sputnik chandelier. However, most of what I've done is purely cosmetic - namely painting/decorating. Boy do I LOVE painting. It's one of my favorite things to do, absolutely therapeutic - I LOVE PAINTING! Every room in our house has been repainted, excluding our sad little bathroom (which is on the soon-to-be-remodeled list).

Here's a quick peek at things I've done to the house so far:
  • Living room/front door. I decided to paint a giant paint-by-numbers mural on the blank wall by the front door. Before photos are labeled (obvs) and the 2nd photo is the "after".

Not quite done, just a few more colors to add!
  • Dining room - I removed that horrid ceiling fan, and replaced it with my atomic sputnik chandelier. WHICH I LOVE. Also stenciled the walls to recreate a wallpaper pattern that I LOVE but is very, very beyond my price range - the Navajo pattern by Cavern Home. Everyone walks in and assumes it's wallpaper, but no - just 2 solid weeks of my hand-painting handicraft.
See our pretty leaded glass bookcases? Fancy! This is taken from the living room looking into the dining room.

Actual dining room. HIDEOUS FAN IS HIDEOUS!
I would like to point out that the after pictures are a motley mix. The nice, professional looking photo with our goofy mugs sitting pretty is actually from our engagement photo session. It's the only good photo I have of our chandelier and stenciled walls. Oh, and our kitchen clock.

Sputnik! Such a nice improvement. Also - hubs and I mugging for the camera. Oh, engagement sessions... photo by Dave Evans

This is the wall seen in the second "Before" photo, right next to the door into the hallway. Sweet baby sputnik lamp!
OK OK - enough of this for today. I will be posting a few more of my projects/rooms tomorrow. I'm going in for a medical procedure of sorts on Friday, so I have to prepare myself all day tomorrow - basically no eating. I will be a cranky-pants person, to say the least. But I have a pretty bedroom to show you! And rehabbed vintage lamps. LAMPS! Stay tuned.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Late to the Party

Sorry for slow-to-no updates lately, I've been super busy in the shop, keeping Rockin' B going. One custom dress was made and sent on it's way to the Cowboy Hall of Fame induction ceremony 2 weeks ago in Colorado Springs - I must say that my client looked smashing. One of my favorite Dale dresses got packed up and shipped to London last week to a happy new owner. Apparently, we're going global.

My summer intern and I have been hard at work developing two new styles for Rockin' B, one is an eight-gore swing skirt that flares ever so gently when twirled - the perfect dance skirt, with no danger of showing one's unmentionables while spinning around the dance floor. Then again - some people enjoy showing their unmentionables; I admit that I myself get a certain thrill out of shocking the more "buttoned up" swing boys by flashing my bright red dance bloomers on occasion. It's good for them. Most of them rarely see the outside of an engineering lab (my swing club is located at a very prominent engineering university... we're all a bunch of nerds/geeks, whatever you prefer).

In other news, my gallery show at K. Dees Coffee as been very well received, this week is the last it will be hanging. See it while you can! My exhibit was also featured in the paper, a full front page article in the "Living" section or whatever they call it this week - how exciting! Note goofy photo of me, squinting into the sun like a cave creature. It was a rather warm day out on that pavement, trying to get some decent photos with the photographer. Sadly, the link to the article is now long gone on the paper's website, I'll try to get the actual paper article scanned and posted - it was awesome!

Here's a brilliant blog post by Kristy Miley at Heart of a Home, she and I had a great chat-slash-interview a couple of weeks ago about everything vintage (and a bit about my exhibition/work). She took lovely photos of the work I have hanging at K. Dees as well, thanks Kristy!

Look, it's squinty me!
Photo copyright of Heart of A Home/Kristy Miley

In other news, I'm in the market for a tiny vintage camper/trailer. Anyone have a lead? Shasta, Scotty, Airstream, etc. By tiny, I mean 13' at the most. I'm looking to remodel, so beaters are preferred - though not too leaky. If you DO have a lead, email me at Seriously! I can't wait to get my hands on one.


Monday, May 17, 2010

Goodness Gracious

My little ol' blog got featured in the local paper today. How exciting!

The actual printed paper features a goofy headshot of my face. Awesome.

In other news, I would LOVE to someday make a quilt featuring heirloom Craftsman designs such as this one. However, I'm short on time, so it won't be happening anytime soon!

Over n' out folks!


Thursday, May 13, 2010

Summer Fun! New Shows, New Clothes

Howdy everyone, I've got a lot of exciting news about Rockin' B's summer schedule! We will be making appearances at several events here in the Midwest, and we are also opening our first gallery exhibition in downtown Lafayette, Indiana at the beginning of June. I've also got some quick preview pics of some new garments - I've been working hard on some beautiful one-of-a-kind dresses and skirts!

Please stop by and see us at BEATERSVILLE on Sunday May 30th in Louisville, KY. I'm very excited to be a part of such a cool event, and we will be sharing space with Saved Industries of Louisville. Beautiful clothes for vintage-loving people! We are also very excited to be meeting up with the folks who run Pinup Lifestyle - make sure to stop by and check out their fabulous site. They will be hosting a meet & greet at the Phoenix Hill Tavern during the show.

Rockin' B may also be appearing at the Road Rocket Rumble in Speedway, IN this coming June - the dates are June 24-June 27. I will keep you posted on developments with that, again it's a big "maybe" - but I'll let you know! Even if we do not end up vending, the show is FABULOUS and I will definitely be there as a spectator. Amazing bands, a great car show on Saturday, a live pin-up contest and lots of fun to be had all around. The Road Rockets sure know how to throw a party!

I'm also VERY proud to be presenting several one-of-a-kind garments from Rockin' B at a gallery exhibition in downtown Lafayette, IN - our new show is titled "Uptown in Cowtown". The show will be taking place at K. Dees Coffee and Roasting Company, opening reception will be Saturday June 5th at 6:30 PM. The show will feature one-of-a-kind garments and some of my working sketches. "Uptown in Cowtown" will be running through the end of July - please stop by and visit if you're in town!

(click to enlarge poster)

In conjunction with our K. Dees exhibition, we will be presenting a LIVE show featuring lovely models wearing Rockin' B, during the June 12th Mosey Down Main Street in Lafayette.  The show will take place at K. Dees, so keep your eyes peeled for our gorgeous retro-lovin' ladies working the crowd. Mosey starts at 6 PM, and we will be strutting our stuff throughout the evening.

On to the really good stuff:

Here are a couple of progress/work photos for Rockin' B's newest dress style. I'm really in love with this Asian-inspired floral print, and I've been using it in quite a few garments.

This first photo demonstrates my process for making custom piping (a bit tedious but worth it!):

This photo show the progress of the front bodice yoke on the new dress. Several layers, 2 different types of piping, pearl snaps - the whole nine yards! I love how that custom piping turned out...

That's it for now - stay tuned for more info and more photos of pretty dresses/skirts as Beatersville approaches! Oh yeah, and you should add us on Facebook - modern technology my friends.

Happy trails 'til next time!


Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Finished Sample, Reverse Engineering, New Oaktag!

It's been a busy couple of weeks here at the Rockin' B Ranch. New supplies of all kinds were ordered from SouthStar Supply in Nashville a few weeks ago, including a fresh roll of oaktag (a very large, very heavy new roll!)

I also got a new pattern notcher (yay!!), a new pair of embroidery scissors, new thread snips, and a new needlepoint tracer. I also ordered some heavy-duty pant/skirt hooks from Atlanta Thread Supply, and they are very nice. I highly recommend SouthStar for any production supply needs, they have wonderful customer service. Atlanta also has good customer service, my order was incorrect when I initially received it and they corrected the problem immediately - but I've heard from other people that they have a habit of messing up orders, so buyer beware if you need something immediately.

Moving on to other fun stuff - I finished up another sample of my style# 11001, which is a yoked pencil skirt with a large front placket and welt faux-pockets. I snapped a few preview pics of this sample for my last entry, showing off the colors and some of the detailing. Friends, can I just tell you it turned out BEAUTIFULLY. The fit is perfection... I usually get so hung up with the fit of my garments, and to be honest the first fit sample for this pattern didn't turn out so great. It is, however, very reassuring that my pattern adjustments after that first sample did the trick - meaning I haven't lost my touch (as I thought I had following some frustrating samples in the near past).

Unfortunately, no photos of this newest sample yet - I finished it pretty late last night and didn't have the motivation to dig out my camera. I think it's pretty funny how Ryan is so blown away by each garment I create, he was the cutest last night after I tried it on to show him the final product - he was literally speechless and grinning from ear to ear. Guess it's good to know he thinks I'm talented, haha.

On to the even better stuff: Reverse engineering. I've always been fascinated (and dare I say "obsessed") with executing operations using the correct industrial procedure. Maybe it's just my personality or my raising, but I'm a stickler for having things done "the right way". I've been learning over the past year or so that in industry there aren't as many standard procedures as I had thought. A lot of processes and operations depend on the individual factory, based on their management, their equipment and their workers' skill sets. Automated equipment will produce a certain seam class in a different way than a worker using a single-needle approach. Outside of obtaining a job in a garment factory (which is impossible for me at the moment), the best way to develop my own factory procedures is to employ reverse engineering using well-made garments from companies that produce garments similar to mine, in my target price point.

The best way to obtain these types of garments is to haunt thrift stores and charity shops - I found one of my best reference skirts at a church-run charity shop in my husband's tiny hometown, for a whopping $4. The skirt is a 6-gore yoked wool skirt, by Liz Claiborne. I would say it dates to the late 80s, but the look is much more vintage, I'd say 1940s. The wool is very lightweight, and the skirt is fully lined, and has flat-felled seams on the yoke and each gore. There is a hidden zip in back with a tab closure (3 buttons). The quality is very good, and I would say the skirt probably cost around $100 new. I have learned SO MUCH from this skirt - the biggest lesson being the waistband assembly and the process of finishing off the tab closure properly. I really struggled with patterning my waistbands until I took a closer look at the Claiborne skirt, and it really cleared up the operation for me - what a godsend! Even a quick trip to your local Goodwill will likely result in 1 or 2 garments that can be very useful.

In the case of my Claiborne skirt, I didn't rip it apart as it fits me so well and I love wearing it; but buying well-made garments to purposely rip apart and examine how they're assembled is something I do recommend. Thrift shops always seem to have a large quantity of well-made coats and blazers, not to mention men's dress pants and women's skirts. Careful disassembly and attention to detail will reveal a whole new world of operations, seam classes and processes - just look carefully and examine thoroughly.

OK, I think that's about enough geek talk for the day. In final news, I'm going to be attending SPESA in Atlanta next month, please do let me know if you're planning on going as well! There are quite a few people from Fashion-Incubator attending, and it will be a wonderful chance to learn about machines and operations, as well as attachments and automated processes (that's what I'm looking forward to!)  I'm going to be sharing a hotel room with Valerie of Yellowcake, she's an AMAZING designer based in Ohio and I'm just thrilled to be meeting her. Check out her shop on Etsy, prepare to be amazed.

I will be posting pics of my newest skirt sample, hopefully this evening - if I can persuade Ryan to help me out with taking those for me. Here's a quick picture of our newest family member, Fritz. He's a standard poodle, full of sweetness and smart as a whip. He really likes squirrels.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Work In Progress Inspiration

I love combing flea markets and thrift stores for little bits of inspiration. I found this lovely vintage encyclopedia supplement last week, and just had to snap a picture.

Without even thinking about it, I cut a new skirt style with beautiful curves... and then started working on the sample this evening, using some nice fabric that I've had laying around for a while. I stepped back after assembling the yokes and piping - and ta-da!

So similar to my little book cover from last week... amazing. Isn't it amusing how your brain can absorb random things from the world around you, then spit them back out in unexpected ways?

Here's a quick shot of the front, lacking embroidery and piping. Also a shot of the VERY first sample for this style with custom piping and turquoise fabric - and I mean very, very first sample so ignore the fit issues!

This is a very cute style in my opinion. Basically a high-waisted pencil skirt, stretch twill to fit curves beautifully, with piped yokes and an oversize decorative button placket in front. Yep, adorable.

Monday, March 1, 2010

New Machine

A dear friend was at a local thriftstore this week, and came across what she called "a weird looking machine". Called me up and emailed me a few pictures, and to my delight she'd stumbled upon a Stitch-Line blindstitch machine. I ran right over and snapped it up. Another piece of my production line puzzle has been added, I'm just thrilled! The table and motor were included, what a find.

The machine head is currently at Indianapolis Sewing Machine for a bit of rehab and some minor repairs. I want to make sure the timing and all bits & bobs are working properly.

Many thanks to my friend Amanda for spotting this beast in the wild. I can't believe someone would just hand over such a valuable machine to the mission store. However - perhaps they have a heart for the mission and knew this would give them a nice chunk of change. Definitely the most I've ever spent on something at a thrift store! At least I know it's going to a good cause.

Oh yes, and this is one was made in Japan, it's a 718-2. Every other machine I've looked at online was made in Taiwan and the price point is much lower (new) - which I don't see as good thing. All in all I'm very pleased that I got this particular machine.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Blog and Etsy Treasury Feature

How exciting is this? My pretty hand-embroidered Queen Bee shirt is featured in a Kustom Kulture treasury on Etsy, by Mercurios Jewels! Awesome! Check out the blog feature here, and Mercurios' Etsy shop here. Beautiful jewelry, with a gorgeous earthy touch!  Below is a quick pic of the actual treasury page:

I've got a lot going on in the real world too. I will be setting up a booth at the Beatersville Car and Bike Show in Louisville, KY on May 30th. My friend Cynthia of Saved Industries will be sharing the space with me, so please do stop by and see us! I'll be selling pretty skirts and pretty dresses - woo!

Other than that - my brain is chock full o' business at the moment. I'm going to be visiting the fine folks at Indianapolis Sewing Machine Co. this week to chat about a new overlock machine, and possible a blindstitch. I never thought I'd find machinery quite so enticing... but it is! I'm also planning on attending SPESA in May, so if any of you out there are also going, give me a shout! I'm planning on meeting up with quite a few Fashion-Incubator peeps, it should be a good time.

Back to work!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Happy Holidays, Looking Forward to 2010

Happy Belated Holidays to everyone, mine were lovely and I hope yours were too!

I'm definitely looking forward to 2010, there is so much promise and so many opportunities. This is really the first year that I've viewed the new year as a clean slate - usually my dates all roll together into one continuous blob of time. I'm starting off my year right with a few new photoshoots, which include both styling and modeling.

My husband Ryan and I sat down the other night at his urging and went over our 2010 goals, something I've never done before. I was reluctant, but I'm very much a list-oriented person; this is a good thing for me. Most of my goals revolve around Rockin' B of course, and from my year-long list I am going to break down a monthly list of smaller goals that will contribute to my BIG goals. I feel so much better when I write things out and pop them up on the wall!

I have a few of my big goals sorted out already. These include but are not limited to: be consistently wholesaling to 5 stores, book at least 1 tradeshow, tweak the Rockin' B Clothing website to integrate my blog and be more streamlined, and of course: complete my bathroom renovation.

Ok, so the last one isn't a business goal, but it's a big one for me. Our house is a beautiful 20s bungalow, with great woodwork, gorgeous details, vintage charm... except for the bathroom. Firmly stuck in the country blue/Laura Ashley/carpeted floor 80s! Ugh! I'm returning it to its former 1920s glory, with white beadboard, black and white tile on the floor, subway tile around the shower, new fixtures - and no more floral wallpaper. I've made a bit of progress towards this goal - I bought the floor tile. So... I just need to keep moving forward!

I'm optimistic and cheerful. This year I won't have a wedding to worry about, I don't have a brand-new house to worry about (as much), and I have my best friend/husband as the newest member of my household - life is good. I count my blessings every day.