Determining the Nonesuch Size Chart

I was going to use a 2″ grade straight across all my sizes because it is much easier to grade in Illustrator using the blend tool if it is an even grade. But, it didn’t feel quite right so I switched to a 1″ grade up to a size 10 and then jumped to a 2″ grade.

I spent a couple of days researching my fit. I thought this chart was really helpful with the variations of industry standards across brands. I also checked out this women’s shape calculator and tried to keep my proportions in the standard range with the Large and X-Large sizes leaning more towards a rectangular shape.

Announcing my size chart.

Digitizing Patterns & Grading In Illustrator

I had come to a point where I didn’t know how to move forward. I’d worked hard on my designs editing my patterns so carefully for fit. But, as a newbie, I was kind of stuck with my patterns in one size and all on paper. I’ve been sitting on them not wanting to approach too many stores until I had the Med and Large fit to where I wanted them. I had put up an ad for sewing help and a woman appeared who happened to know an awful lot more about how apparel companies managed their designs. First, you create a sloper which is just a pattern that fits the way you want it to fit on the types of bodies you are wanting to sell to. Could be teens, could be maternity, could be misses. You, as the designer, get to decide your market and your fit. I had settled on standard misses sizing with a two-inch grade. I added in some extra hip as I like it a little looser around that area and I had created my bodice and pants slopers based off of my own body.

To get a pattern graded by a pattern maker is a minimum of around $400 and I have 11 pieces so far. As my patterns tend to be fairly straightforward, I’d started to learn how to grade but I quickly realized how inefficient and exacting it was to grade on paper. I thought of taking a digitizing and pattern making class but that would cost around $240 and 8 hours of time. Plus, I really wanted to do it all in-house.

I have used Illustrator for years and began to research how to use Illustrator to make patterns. Turns out A LOT of independent designers use this program because the pro programs are so expensive.  But I had no idea how to get all my patterns digitized and into Illustrator. I could scan them all in but they’re HUGE and what a pain to piece them all back together again in Photoshop. I could take them somewhere that had a large format scanner but decided to save myself the embarrassment of carting 30 giant pieces of cardstock into someone’s shop. I thought it would be way easier just to take photos of my pieces and import them directly into Photoshop and then trace them out in Illustrator.

I found my version of Illustrator was too old to use the artboards without a headache. So, I signed up for Illustrator on the Creative Cloud and then discovered that my system software (Yosemite) was too old to run CC.

Of course, today my cable modem also decided it’d had enough so I was forced to run through several support people at Century Link. I’ve never been rerouted so many times in my life.  I ended up having to drive over to Century Link to pick up a new cable modem and after getting my Internet back online I tried to update my system software to High Sierra. It didn’t work. Of course it didn’t work. My trusty 2010 MacPro just kept stalling out. After a couple of hours and some googling I installed it in safe mode and now at midnight, it’s all finally working.

I’ve just imported my first pattern by taking a photo of my tubesuit pattern standing up on my chair so the image would be flat and then began tracing it out in illustrator. I photographed everything with rulers to make sure I didn’t lose any pertinent information in translation. I intend to try out this cool tool tomorrow as I read that it is great for making sure all your lines are the exact measurements you want them to be.

 

My first pattern digitized into Illustrator using my iPhone.

I walked the pattern using the rotational tool which is so much better than using an awl. I laid it all out evened everything out and made some changes to the crotch. I added some registration marks and tomorrow I will print it and sew it out again. If it’s all good then I will begin grading it based on a 2-inch grade.

Whew. I’m feeling like I’ve made a bit of progress and I just finished off a pint of Ben & Jerry’s Chunky Monkey….which is exactly what I feel like right now. I live in Oregon so I’m going to dose myself with some CBD and fall into a deep peaceful slumber. Later.

I Can’t Cry Anymore

literally.

My eyes can’t make tears anymore.  It’s quite painful. I first noticed it when I was sewing or staring at the computer. I could only do it for about 15 minutes before my eyeballs started to ache. This made me want to cry but I could not.

I didn’t know how dry my eyeballs were until I went to see an ophthalmologist. He numbed my eyes, pulled down the the lower lid and put a scratchy piece of paper in each eye. When he pulled it out there wasn’t a tear on it. You have no tears ma’am.

The reason I noticed it most when sewing or looking at a screen is because when you are focusing on something close up you tend to blink quite a bit less.  My lack of tears means that every 15 minutes I need to be putting artificial tears in my eyes.

I took fish oil, used the artificial tears but it didn’t really help. My ophthalmologist prescribed me the only know cure for chronic dry eye.  It’s called Restasis. Guess how much it costs? $275 bucks a month with an average treatment time of 6 months. Guess what my insurance does not cover? Restasis. Apparently I’m flat outta luck. Ah, what I wouldn’t do for a good cry right about now.

So, I went onto the Internet and researched some natural cures. The first one I came across was Castor Oil in the eyes at night. Sounds gross, right? But, when you’re desperate enough you’ll take a dropper full of Castor oil and dump it right into your eyes.

I woke up the next day and guess what? My eyes felt a little bit better. And according to this article Castor Oil will brighten up the whites of your eyes, reduce wrinkles around your eyes and make dark circles vanish.

I’ll update you on the success of this cure when I have my first good cry.

Chevron Dress Top By Cutting Striped Fabric on The Bias

I tried making a chevron design from the Piled Ebon fabric I have and it took me forever to figure out how to cut it out on the bias to get the Chevron to line up in the middle. I never did get it to match up exactly so I put in a black spacer. But I found this FABULOUS tutorial. Basically you premake and sew the chevron. It’s going to make cutting this dress out much easier.

 

Update

I attempted this method using knit fabric and heads up, it only works on non-stretchy fabric…duh! Also, I kind of really like the black stripe up the middle. Here it is sewn out in our gored tank dress. It’s quite lovely, I think. It so lifts the bust in all the right ways.

Mannequin Love

When Rebecca worked for me she shared her brilliant idea for an art project. It involved taking a giant Barbie doll around town and photographing her hanging out with people.

In one of my stories the main character creates a mannequin that she loves to dress in different outfits every day. I recall that in my story (I wrote it many years ago) she has a job where she needs to interact with the frat and sorority kids but she dreads that interaction so very much that she dresses her mannequin up in crazy outfits and talks to them using her mannequin as a mouthpiece. Eventually the college kids turn it into sort of a cool thing to be photographed with her mannequin. Over time the poses with her mannequin become crazier and crazier, especially the more the kids drank. They began to try and one up each other on the bizarreness of the photos they could capture with her mannequin. In the end they were doing unspeakable things to her beloved mannequin across social media.

Anyway, um, I guess that in some way I’ve started to actualize Rebecca’s art project and my short story. The first time I dressed Edie up I thought she looked super cute and I could tell she really wanted to get out there and show off her outfit. My friend Kelley was visiting from SF so Edie and I decided to give Kelley a tour of St Johns in hopes that she’d become so enchanted she’d relocate to Portland.

Edie is a lovely mannequin but she is made out of a cheap hollow plastic and the joints where her head, arms and legs come together do not lock so if you put one arm on, the other just sort of falls out of the socket etc.  It was not easy getting her to play pinball without her arm falling off.

So, I went onto Craigslist and found Zelda. Zelda is one of those older, very well made mannequins. She’s weighted and solid. She’s exotic because she’s from Denmark. I really like her although she is missing a pin out of her torso and her nails need repainting. I’ve taken this photo of her so you can see how excellent she is.

Zelda wearing our Plaid Retro Jumpsuit

She reminds me a bit of Phoebe Waller-Bridge

Phoebe Waller-Bridge
Doesn’t Zelda look quite a bit like Phoebe Waller-Bridge?

from the Amazon series Fleabag which if you haven’t seen it, is completely worth watching if you don’t mind a lot of sexually explicit scenes (which I don’t, in fact it might be why I like it so much…there is a LOT of sex because the main character is a bit of a nymphomaniac.) I am not suggesting Zelda is one. If I had to take a guess, I’d say Zelda is probably still a virgin.

The This Is Clothing Instagram has become a bit of an art project. It is due, in part, to my severe budgetary constraints but has much more to do with my newfound mannequin love.

UPDATE ON MY PRODUCT PHOTOGRAPHY:

The photos on my website looked so bad that I decided to invest in a new camera and a backdrop. I spent hours combing Ebay for a decent camera and ended up getting the used Nikon D5200 thinking I really wanted the 24MP and could sacrifice a little shutter speed for it.

I ordered this pinkish backdrop paper and a Julius Studio Backdrop Stand. Two lovely women are coming over to model the line for me so that I might have more consistency across the website.

UPDATE ON MY BINDER:

My binder is still out of commission due to the screw set being worn out (at least that’s what I think is causing the loose needle) but CHHolderby put the part I think I need in the mail today so I’m really hoping that I can figure out how to install the part and that it fixes the issue by the end of the week.

UPDATE ON HIRING A SEAMSTRESS

I’ve interviewed 4 people for help with the sewing and I’ve found one woman that I love but she works for this action sportswear company and I’m not exactly sure if she has enough time to work me in. I also talked to an amazing production sewer from a top house here in Portland but she hates sewing samples so she turned me down.

Product Shots

It’s always difficult to deal with the photography on a website. How do you get a consistent look and feel on zero budget? You could use models in every shot but that can get pricey and difficult to coordinate. I decided to use the ghost effect on all my products but the time input is excessive because of all the photography and editing. And, as I’m doing it I am realizing I really need a new camera because my Sony Cybershot from 12 years ago is not cutting it. So, for now I have some blurry, inconsistent shots of my site of my products until I figure it all out.

I was thinking of trying to find a used Nikon on Ebay like this one but even if I have a decent camera I still need to find a good mannequin. My current giant plastic doll isn’t cutting it as she is a bit too thin. Don’t get me wrong, I like her as a person and all. She’s very quiet, tolerates changing clothes quite well and is unflappable. Once, when I had forgotten that I’d left her in the living room I came home and nearly had a heart attack when I opened my door to find her standing there staring at me. She’s didn’t say a single word when I began screaming. She just kept staring me down.

I’m thinking of this one in white (for easier editing) if it’s made from a more solid plastic than the girl I currently have.

Fortunately, my partner just built out an ADU with a 24 foot ceiling and lots of windows so I can use that space as a studio. So, I’m going to follow this guide and see if I can improve my product shots.

 

Need Help Coming Up With A Tagline

We are subjected to endless flawless, manipulated images of our society’s archetype of beauty, shoved into cubicles or isolated in our homes with our infants, our creativity laughed at and our talents dismissed. We are made to feel small and helpless, mere cogs in a machine that is destroying our environment. Our society strips us of our sense of agency and it is not until we can regain it that we can begin to feel truly beautiful.

I have wasted a great deal of time and energy in the feckless pursuit of beauty when all the while what I really needed to find was the self-identity I last felt while building forts in the woods with my sister and friends at the age of 10.

When I sew I feel that way again and this line is all about finding myself.

You know the tests that require you to unscramble words or trivia games? I suck at those. I have difficulty holding intelligent conversations with people because most of the time I can’t even remember how to pronounce burglar, vehicular, chipotle or the titles and authors of books or the names of songs and how they go (never ask me to hum a tune for you).

But, what I am really good at is that test where you have to come up with ways to use various elements in your environment to produce a particular end result. This is my talent and through sewing I get to do exactly that.

Knit fabric is what I wear because I feel incredibly irritated with clothing that forces me to pay attention to it. I hate binding, constricting clothing that needs to be ironed, hung up, dry cleaned?!, zipped, snapped, buttoned or hooked. I want my clothing to be something I can roll into bed in or toss into a pile on the floor to pick up the next morning and wear. I want it to float around me or comfortably embrace me. I also use clothing as a means of self expression so I love it when I find pieces that allow me to do just that.

My friend Ruth has been drawing these characters for years and she recently began doodling again and posting them to Facebook. She posted this image of a woman with flowing black hair in repose against a triangular background. I asked her if I might use it as my logo and she generously said yes.

Now that you know the premise behind Nonesuch, maybe you can help me with a tagline.

Here are a few but they don’t feel exactly quite right.

Confident Comfortable You

Comfortably Confident

To Be Beautiful You Must First Be Comfortable

*Update. I’m hanging out with my friend Kelley and she suggested Be Confident. Be Comfortable. Be You. I think that’s the tagline.

 

 

 

 

Nonesuch Clothing Blog Launched In A Day

After much internal debate I decided to give the Nonesuch label its very own website rather than to just house it under the This Is Clothing store. Although I will be promoting my house label under the This Is Clothing Instagram and Facebook accounts, I will be hosting a personal blog on this website that talks about my design and production process along with some personal tips and tricks I’ve learned over the years to helping me to feel more comfortable in my own skin in hopes that by sharing my experiences, it may somehow benefit you.