Sunday, December 23, 2007

Banners, Etsy Forums and a Contest

Its easy to spend too much time on the Etsy Forums. I am guilty of it myself. But I do often find out about useful services and links this way. I'd never spend enough time browsing the internet myself and frankly wouldn't even know that they exist. Like blog patrol, for example, its a service that gives you free blog stats. I can check it and find out how many people visit my site in a given day and if they used a search engine, I can see which search words they used.

This week while browsing threads about blogs and blogging, the topic of banners came up. This Etsy sellers blog, little brown bird was complimented for her great banner. I've been wanting to learn to make my own banners, so I asked what program she used. She told me about Art Explosion Publisher Pro . I looked it up on the internet, showed it to my husband (and told him I needed to buy it) and he tells me we already have it! He goes upstairs and brings it down. How is that for instant gratification? Turns out he bought Photo Explosion for me about 6 months ago and I made him take it back off the computer because I had trouble with how it took over my picture editing. Well this time I'm ready to learn about it and I've already been experimenting with banners in the new storefront I'm planning next year for selling all kinds of patterns.

Finally, in the forums again, I learned about a Project Runway Inspired Contest. The deadline for intent to participate is January 14th so I do need to make a decision soon. I would really like to try it. I could do some more denim refashioning, I know I'll enjoy it!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Sewing for Christine Jonson Again!

Christine Jonson
Originally uploaded by Diane Slade Inc
I'm sure I've mentioned that I have worked for Christine Jonson. It all started, back in 1995, before she decided to do her pattern line. I did do some shows with her at the beginning of the pattern company, but I moved farther North and focused on sewing, while she concentrated on developing the Pattern Company and didn't have work for me.

Lucky for me, she has a show coming up and not enough time to do the sewing she needs done for it! I am having a great time sewing all of these beautiful fabrics into garments.

Most of the patterns I'm working on are new to me. Either she didn't do them at the store when I was a part of it, or they are brand new inventions altogether.

I've got to get these finished in a reasonable amount of time, but I plan to go over each of the patterns I'll be making and show off the finished garments.

So far I've made the Shirred Top #424(a new one for me), a line dress with a slash #930, Basewear II Skirt #1025, Swirl Skirt #419 and 2 one seam wraps #1117 ( both also new).

The only thing I'm sorry I won't be able to show you is how wonderful these fabrics are to work with.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

NYC Nolita Market is a Bust!

Back from vacation
Originally uploaded by Diane Slade Inc
But not because my clothing ever made it there! This whole thing totally fell apart right after I sent the stuff out, and I had to wait 2 1/2 months to get everything back.

Everything is back from a vacation in NY, fortunately perfect, just needs a fresh press and a hanger.

My things *were* taken to several stores in NYC.

On a positive note, the feedback I received was useful (and positive!), but the whole experience was a major irritation.

I learned the importance of knowing your target market. NYers are smaller (must be all that walking), and its important to have available what is appropriate for the current season.

I got positive feedback on my designs, refashions and ideas, just not exactly right for the season or the sizes.

Though, in my defense, it all happened very fast and I was under the impression that the stuff I hurried out (all inventory) on the 11th was going to be at the market on the 16th, so there wasn't much time for creating. Or picking and choosing. She saw what I had available and told me she wanted to give it a try at the market.

I find it a little funny actually because I was told there was too much color for fall, I just sorta fly by the seat of my pants right now, I don't have a line or a plan, and I am such a dull dresser!

This was all arranged by a mutual friend, I've never met the NYer. I understand a face to face is not always possible, but I will make things go slower next time. My patience was thoroughly snapped by this person. I would not consider doing business with her again even with the awareness I now have about the potential market in NYC.

What not to do if you enter into a business relationship:
-Do not have any contact with the person with whom you are doing business for 2 months, even though you have 2 phone numbers and 2 email addresses, and even if you didn't write them down they have been sent to you via email just in case you lost them.
-Make lame excuses about being busy when you finally do call (2 months later) because you are the only one who is busy.
-Do not let the person with whom you are doing business know when you send a package in the mail.

In my mind 2 weeks would have been rude, and the reason of being busy would have been irritating, but could have been excused. Waiting 2 months, its crazy! I didn't even care at that point, I knew I wasn't doing business again, I was just trying to be nice long enough to get everything back undamaged.

I'm mostly mad about the lack of email contact. If you are swamped you should still be able to find a couple minutes to honor your commitments via email.

I almost want to take it to Nolita Market myself! I would have never found out about it, except for this experience, and who know it could be fun!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Inspiration Books

Inspiration Books
Originally uploaded by Diane Slade Inc
An invitation to My Inspiration Book on Flickr has got me thinking, "What inspires me?".

I knew I had inspiration books. So I dug them out this morning. The picture is of the two I found. The one on top was a gift about 12 years ago from an artist friend I worked with many years ago (I love, love, love this "Dressmaker" series that she did) and the second was carefully selected from the discount table at Borders Books. Why can I remember it so clearly? I really was suprised to find them empty. I *know* I wrote in one at one time. I wonder where it is!

I am inspired by so many things. Great sewing books, Pattern making books, vintage patterns, clothes I see others wearing and everything I've ever sewn for someone else. I'm even inspired by the Inspiration books I see in the Flickr group! There are so many places to find inspiration on the internet, blogs, Flickr, etsy, my mind starts to boil just *thinking* about all the possibilities!

I get an idea in my head, sometimes it sticks around and gets better form, other times it fades. My biggest frustration with the inspiration books is my lack of ability to give it proper translation in writing. I have terrible penmanship, and can't draw to save my life! I've often said, "I can sew a straight line, but I can't draw one."

This skirt is an example of something I just couldn't get out of my head, It turned out so well I've got another one living in my head just busting to get out. This sweater is a not so well translated experiment, but the project deserves more exploration.

Monday, October 15, 2007

A couple more thoughts...

About the American Sewing Expo in Novi. There were some cool trims, many crystals and such for embellishments. I started out writing things down, but I *thought* I could depend on my memory. Next time I'll do better! No wonder they say eyewitness acounts are some of the worst records!

I'm always telling myself that I need to get more organized, and the problem remains. I do extremely well when I'm working on someone elses things. Maybe it is because of the accountability.

My latest plot is to get one piece of vintage clothing up on etsy a day. I've GOT to clean that stuff out. OK, we all know I'll buy more, but it has to get cleared out first. Anybody want to hold me to it?

I have so many ideas for creating things too, I've got to set aside time for that. And if I don't start using some things, Its time to pass them on to someone who might use them.(That sounds like lip service to me,lol!)

I've also got a list started for stuff to write about on the blog here. Some tutorials, reviews (books, notions,products),diy's and such.

And if you haven't yet heard of him, check out Ron Paul for President. I've read some good things about him and he is worth looking into further.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

American Sewing Expo Review, Novi,MI 2007

I did make it to the Sewing Expo for a couple of hours on Sunday afternoon. I haven't been there for the last two years so I am glad I made the effort.

It was my first time at the Rock Financial Showplace, it is an impressive looking building. It was nice to have classrooms instead of tents for the classes and workshops.

I'm not sure if it was my imagination, but the show seemed smaller this year. I did see a post on Pattern Review that said it had 150 vendors, but I don't have a point of reference to compare with previous years.

The show is a great place to compare home sewing machines if you are in the market for one. All the brand names were represented Bernina, Singer, Pfaff, Viking, etc. You name it, I hear that there are always good deals on machines too!

Lots of quilting stuff, not really my thing, but very pretty to look at the beautifully arranged fabrics.

It seemed that there were fewer of the Independant Pattern Companies than I remember, but there were also some that I didn't recognize. It is a good place to take a look at the designs made up into garments. It can be difficult to picture some of the styles from the pattern envelope drawings.

Threads and Sew News Magazines were there. I entered the Threads drawing, I wanted a copy of The Subversive Seamster, but alas, it was not to be!

There were some beautiful garment fabrics, as always Haberman Fabrics and The Sewing Workshop, along with many others I didn't take specific note of. One had Men's silk tie fabric by the yard! Very beautiful. I hadn't noticed Fabrications before, I took their card. I also found an Upholstery place, V Trading, in Grand Blanc that sells $5 per yard, the show special was $2.50! I picked up a couple yards for making bags.

I found a great source for zippers, The Zipper Lady. About a million styles and lengths and colors, if I ever get around to recovering stuff.

There was some goofy stuff, nail techs, some kind of drying sheets and pet hair remover.

I made a Bear for the Kuddles for Kids.

There were quilt and dress displays.

I regret that I wasn't able to make it to the Baby Lock Passion for Fashion Sewing Challenge doings, I did see some of the finished garments. I'm hoping there is a published review somewhere. I wonder if everyone was able to finish in the allotted time, how it all looked when they were busy working and if, as I suspect, the winner won, mainly because they embellished the designs.

I found something that I want want want, Sew-Brite The Absolute Ultimate cutting craft table! I love all the drawers and stuff, I've already taken to arranging projects and ideas in plastic dish pans from the dollar store. Just look at all the drawers!

I also purchased the Patternmaking Made Easy book, by Connie Amaden-Crawford from the Fashion Patterns by Coni booth.

My only complaint was the the clubs, American Sewing Guild and Michigan Bishop Sewing Council, seemed shoved together in the back.

If you are into sewing as a hobby or just looking for ideas, I think the show is worth a look. It is not a show for wholesale sources, but it can be fun taking a look around and seeing what is available in the home sew*ers market.

Recycled Denim Bag

Recycled Denim Bag
Originally uploaded by Diane Slade Inc
I used some of the leftovers from my Chevron Denim Skirt and made this great shoulder bag.

This is the style of bag that I carry and is my current favorite.

I love the way it turned out, isn't it just great when something *finally* turns out the way you planned?!


Sunday, September 30, 2007

American Sewing Expo Workshop Review 2007

This Thursday I took the "Industrial Shortcuts and Easy Zippers Combined!"at the American Sewing Expo, in Rock Financial Showplace, Novi, Michigan.

I throughly enjoyed myself. I forgot to count the people in the class, but I'm gonna guess 18. All skill levels were represented, with some people finishing quickly and others having trouble getting each task done in the allotted time. There was one person younger than me and the rest older, not suprising, I think there are a lot more people my age sewing, but life keeps them away from the classes. All women, also expected.

I got a lot more than I expected out of the class, and probally different things than I would had I taken the class as a beginner.

Most of the class was about Industrial Sewing Techniques from Islander Sewing Systems. We watched a bit of the Margaret Islander videos. I met Margaret once, too. I doubt she would remember, but I found her very likable. Her videos showcase her excellent sewing skills as well as her cheery nature and sense of humor.

The instructor, Rosebud, is a skilled sewing machine operator and a patient and pleasant instructor. Rosebud and Janet Pray have created a "Easy Zippers" video, I didn't ask if there is a book to go along with it. We also watched part of this video during the class, I really needed the multiple showcasing of the techniques. I always say that I need to be told twice. The video has Janet introducing each technique with useful information and Rosebud operating the sewing machine. I did find some of the banter between them to be scripted and humorous (though not meant to be), but the sewing is flawless and worth the watch.

I was definately on the right track with the zipper insertion. That whole part of the class was new to me. I'm looking forward to incorporating the new techniques in my sewing. I had no idea that an invisible was soooo easy!!I've never taken any classes besides a quilting class 10 years ago at a Hancocks Fabric Store. Most of my instruction has come from books and there is no substitute for *seeing* something done!

Like I said I enjoyed the class very much. It was all day, 9 to 5, with a 1 hour lunch. I knew I would have some waiting, so I set myself up to be patient. When we were cleaning up Rosebud asked me what I do, I told her that I work for people who sell at art fairs, she said "I thought you caught on fast". That made me feel great! I can't wait to take another one next year. I already have my sights on the Patternmaking Class by Connie Amaden-Crawford.

I plan to take another ride to the Expo Center today, Sunday, to take a look at the vendors and the results of the Baby Lock Passion for Fashion Sewing Challenge. I'll let you know what I think of the show!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Zipper Tutorial

Zipper Tutorial

Originally uploaded by Diane Slade Inc

I mentioned earlier that I put in a zipper without basting or pinning. I decided to give it another try and post it here before my class tomorrow. I'm still very interested in what they will suggest.

First picture shows the unsewn seam and zipper.

I line it up and sew the first side.

Take a look at the first side.

Flip it over and measure for the other side.

Now the two sides are sewn.

I make sure the sides meet up and I sew along the seam line to just past the botton of the zipper.

I flip it over and start to do some pressing.

The outside of the skirt is ready to sew, in the picture it isn't perfect. I do my *best* work *at* the sewing machine.

I switch the zipper foot for the topstitching. Right to left. Ahhh! the joys of industrial machines!

I'm pleased with the result and the finished product!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

I'm Taking a Class

At the American Sewing Expo, at Rock Financial Showplace, Novi, Michigan. Its called "Industrial Shortcuts and Easy Zippers Combined!".

Though I am mostly taking it for the zippers I'm sure I will learn something that I forgot or haven't done correctly in the Industrial Shortcuts segment.

I've actually done sewing for Janet Pray and her clothing company Jan`et. I usually got a 15 or 20 minute lesson on the techniques and did it as well as I remembered. It was most important that I made the garments successfully. I'm sure its been moved around in my head since several years have passed, so I'm interested to see how it really SHOULD be done.

I'm mostly interested in the zipper portion, I haven't done much in the way of zippers in my Contract Production Sewing, and I've never had a lesson. I like zippers better than elastic waistband on skirts and I'd like a few pointers even though I've done quite a few zippers successfully over the years.

Basting and pressing open and pinning just isn't for me. I recently put a zipper in with the side seams unsewn and then did the seams around it. I was quite proud. I should have documented it here, but it is difficult to stop and take pictures when I'm on a roll!

The teacher, Rosebud, who I only remember as the woman who hand wound her bobbin so she could do a double needle on one of Christine Jonson's Patterns, was a zipper setter, so it should be a good class.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

My Skirt has been blogged!

My recycled denim skirt that I'm so proud of was featured in a couple of blog posts by Crafter by Night. I can't tell you how exciting it is for me to have this recognition. Even though there WERE only 7 skirts on Mindt at the time. ;D

I found the Posts when I googled myself "Diane Slade Inc".

Here are the posts here and here. Miriam found it when she created an entirely indie outfit from finds on Mintd.

I have taken the skirt off of Mintd and sent it to NY with a bunch of other things. A friend of a friend is planning to take them to shops in NY and sell them. I'm anxiously awaiting the results of this new endeavor. Wish me luck!

Friday, September 14, 2007

Update NYC

I have just learned that my clothing will not be at the Market this weekend, but they have arrived safely in New York. We may go to the Market in the near future.
I'll keep everyone posted!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Nolita Market NYC

I have a bunch of things that I have made going to Nolita Market in NYC this weekend (Sept. 15th or 16th, 2007). I'm very excited to see how things turn out.

I am definately having trouble figuring out this whole Flickr thing! So you can see the things at or click on the links below!



I am reminded, as I work on a project, that it is oh so important to have the right kind of interfacing in a project. The interfacing I chose is much to heavy for the fabric I'm using and I fear that I have ruined the jacket. This was an experiment, hence the grabbing and using of the nearest interfacing, but it is a pain to have to analyze an element that i wan't looking into!

The purpose of interfacing is to give a design element more body. The purpose is not to change the fabric into something else. A lightweight fabric calls for a lightweight interfacing. Adding an interfacing that is too heavy will only compromise the quality of the fabric that you enjoyed before you began.

So now I'm back to the drawing board!!

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Elastic Waistband

I'm afraid that the amount of pictures makes it very long to download, please let me know. Also feel free to ask questions, as always when I do things over and over its easy to forget important information! Click on any picture to enlarge for a better view!












I stitch with the wrong side up when I'm using the straight stitch machine.





As often as I can get away with, this is how I do an elastic waistband. I learned from Christine Jonson. I also used her Wide Leg Pant Pattern, because I'm very familiar with it and I won't be selling the finished product. I made myself some jammie pants for this winter.

I show a little of the cutting process, I have cut out my pattern in a size 10. Alas, my behind has grown so I'm adding what looks right. Measure? Nah, I know approximately what I need. I made one pair out of flannel. I've had this forever and finally its becoming something useful. And the other pair is a grey poly cotton waffel knit, my favorite.

I always add 4 inches to the length, I have long legs. I also took the top of the waistband down an inch or so (I cut my pattern I can't remember exactly what I did) because I like my pants to fit well below my natural waist. I suppose I will continue to do so, long after waistlines go back up again, its a matter of personal comfort.

I put the pants together with the serger according to the instructions. If you don't have a serger use your favored method, though I recommend a stretch stitch on a knit. Inseams first, then crotch seams. I only use one pin where the two seams meet.

Now the elastic. I cut mine about 28"ish, I'm pretty sure the pattern includes a measurement. I just haven't looked in so long.

I butt the two pieces together and sew a lot to make sure it won't come undone, ever. I can hear Christine in my head telling me to make sure it is stitched well.

Mark off the quarters, on the elastic and the pants.

Under the needle. Needle down before I stretch.

Holding my marked points together, I stretch the elastic to the length of the fabric.

I do this all the way around.

Now to finish. I put a bit of lace at the center back to mark it. Same concept except now the fabric is folded over to cover the elastic. I pull the fabric over the elastic taut to make it look neat.

I did it once on the straight needle and once on the serger (video) to let you decide based on equipment and confidence level.

Please look below at the video to see how I put the elastic in at the serger.
Fabric and Elastic ready to go.

Presser foot down, needle down before I stretch the elastic.

This first video is starting and only 8 seconds we forgot to clear the camera.

This second video is 30 seconds and starts where the other leaves off, but not all the way to finish, I just cross the original line of stitching and drive off. I clip close to the waistband, it is secure.

I also did a double needle on the grey knit because I like to have a stretch stitch on the knit. I loosen my bobbin tension, about a 1/4 turn. The stitch should not bunch up, it should look like railroad tracks on the front and a zig zag stitch on the back (again I hear Christine's voice!).

When I sew with the double needle I have the right side of the fabric up. I'm feeling the elastic with my fingers. Needle down.

Stretched and ready to sew, my thumb now marks the end of the elastic for me. I sew just inside the elastic.

Done! Its a little off. Its hard to sew with someone standing next to you! And I couldn't put my head as close as I usually do, it was blocking the view! Not to worry, they work great.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Vintage Full Skirt Repair

Click on pics for a better view.

full view
I picked up this great vintage full skirt. It is unique because the waist is so big. I knew it was going to need a little TLC, but not to worry, sewing is my speciality!

I opened up the waistband and the zipper. I put a piece of interfacing behind the rip and stitched it down a couple of times. Then I redid the zipper and waistband.

The finished product! A neat repair. I've got the skirt on Etsy!

Thursday, August 9, 2007


I had to got to a wedding, I procrastinated on what I was going to wear, till the night before, as usual...

I knew by this time with not even a plan, I wasn't going to be fashionable, but due to a larger butt than normal, I REALLY didn't have anything to wear.

I'm always picking up things secondhand, mostly because I buy vintage to sell on various online venues. And because I like textiles and I'm cheap....

So I dove into the pile and came up with this. Sorry for the poor picture. I was in a hurry. The pics get better because it was working and I started to hurry less. And for a better view of any of the pics please click to open in a new window.

I like the color, grey, I'm boring. I like the fabric, its polyester but feels like washed charmeuse. But I hate one piece dresses, they never fit at the waist, and this one was particularly uncomfortable because it was made for someone with bird arms and cut into me at the underarms. It has a jacket (or shirt) so I, in this late hour of need, decided to make it into a skirt.

First it should be noted that this will only work for someone who is relatively straight figured (like me), no hourglasses will be fitted here. But you can take a look anyway, it might inspire you!

While I was looking in the mirror I tugged up the hem a little to see where I could have the skirt fit and be past the zipper, no playing with zippers! You can see my marks were a little off each other but I feel more confidant with what my right hand marks so I use that mark, I guess the other side is for amusement purposes...

I lay it out on the table to even up my two sides and to measure where I'll be cutting. I added about 1 1/2" above the pins for the waist band foldover.

This is how long it will be, remember I'm in a hurry! You can be more exact.

My chalk line.

Cut and serged.

Normally I would just serge the elastic in. (Pinned at quarters) This time I wasn't sure how it would turn out so I wanted less picking if the need should arise.

Another view of elastic going in.

Elastic turned and stitched down again.

And since I pulled the skirt up to adjust fit I had to shorten the slit.

Another view of the slit.

I know I have left out pertinent information! Please ask questions I'll clarify. I understand how pattern companies have trouble with instructions. Once I do things so many times it is difficult to point out every step. Hail to the good teachers...

I really wanted to get another post up. Its been a month since I posted here. This wedding was also June 6th so this is late going up too. I will show you how the skirt turned out, but I want to clean it first, I managed to get ranch dressing on the front of it!

Thursday, July 5, 2007


I love it! It turned out fabulous. I've got it on Mintd.

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Thursday, June 28, 2007

Why Oh Why...

Do I always want to use recycled denim jeans? Everytime I think about doing something original it starts with cutting up jeans and sewing them back together.

Here is what I've been working on:
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I used 4 pair of women's jeans size 4 to 10 and ended up with approximately 29" wide and about 2 yards.

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I'm making a skirt.... I'll post with the finished product.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Dress Form Makeover

I have a Dress Form, we'll call her Helen. She has been with me since the beginning. I got her at a Flea Market and she has her issues, but we've been thru a lot together. She has always resisted a good cleaning, and since I want to do some attractive listing on Etsy, I decided to spruce her up a little!

Here she is *before*.

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I got a piece of light yellow cotton/poly knit out of my monstrous fabric stash and decided to get to work. Why this piece of fabric? It was stretchy, and close to the top and I wasn't in the mood to spend all day looking for something *perfect*. I think it turned out to be a wonderful choice.

I threw that piece of fabric around her, smoothed and started to pin, Helen needs her neck covered too.

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Then I cut around the pins- thats probally about 5/8"-3/4", I left the fabric around the armholes long because I wasn't sure what I was doing with it yet.

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Folded to one side on the inside, pinned and sewing. I liked using the curved needle. Some extra smoothing and stretching was necessary.

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Here she is! I think she turned out great. I just tucked in the 'arms' I'll deal with it another day.

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