Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Needle-Craft Magazine, Summer 1922

As I am endlessly fascinated by old sewing publications, which, I suppose are really a link to the world of women in those days. So, I can't help but share these odd finds with you...

I happened upon an article with the above title, and, just as my jaw dropped to the floor, I noticed that it was an early "advertorial" -- a cleverly disguised advertisment, aimed at the naive reader... hoping she'll take the bait!

I'm sure the modern reader will see the humor in it. Only the original text can really do this advertisement justice. Read and enjoy...

The caption can't be missed. Lovers of romance-novels, look out! It reads,

"You've come back to me, Mary," he said slowly. "You've come back - the Mary of the sweetheart days. You've never looked so wonderful as you do tonight."

The rest of the article continues below... (click to enlarge)

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Atonement dress

This post was orinally published in December of 2007.

Saw a lovely article in The New York Post (which I don't normally read) about this dress (above), made for Keira Knightley's character in "Atonement". Make sure you read on to page two of the article, where the costume designer's (Jacqueline Durran) inspiration is explained.

I adore this article, because, unlike so many others, they don't make it seem that anyone just "whipped up" a little number for her. The article really lets you know that specificity, specialness and art take a considerable amount of time, expense, and experimentation.

At this summer's visit to the Cameron Art Museum in North Carolina, I learned that this simple looking dress, made by William Ivey Long for the show "Contact"...

took EIGHT tries to make.

EIGHT tries!

This means seven dresses, wadded up and tossed aside before getting to this one, which moved with the dancer like absolute magic.

So when you have to trash something on your way to achieving your vision, think of the effort involved in really creating something special.

Encouraging, isn't it?

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Saturday, September 06, 2008

What the dressmaker and her client need to know...

You may already know that I am the owner of the www.findadressmaker.com site, a labor of love, which is very fulfilling to run.

My bird’s eye view of the custom sewing and dressmaking industry (mostly in the US) has taught me so much about the potential of this profession, and the type of women (we are mostly women, after all) who choose it.

Word of mouth is powerful. Negative or positive, word of mouth will bring attention to your business. While word of mouth is a great way to get new business, even the best dressmaker can find herself with less (or more!) business than she wants at any given moment. Scheduling a proper workload is difficult for dressmakers. The flow of clients can be unpredictable, and the variables are many…

The main market for dressmakers (like it or not!), is bridal. Dressmaking is very specific, careful, skilled work… and to navigate the bridal market, a dressmaker has to be able to deal with the emotional roller coaster that comes along with doing this type of work. I’m not just talking about the bride. There is the mother of the bride, mother of the groom, flower girls, bridesmaids, and the coordination of all of those people in their various locations, challenges (and temperaments) to handle. Some people are just lovely. Some people know exactly what they want. Some people have a positive body image. Some people are completely reasonable, puctual, and friendly. Some are none of these things. A dressmaker has to be prepared for any combination of problems, including her own variables. If one wants to do this type of work, she has to be sure to keep an ample supply Tums, Pepto and Advil…

Having said that, the general rule of thumb regarding what a bride should be spending, is 10% of her wedding budget on the gown. Anyone may choose to spend considerably more or less, but it would be best to know what she is really expecting, since, if she wants her gown custom-made, she is buying an invisible product. The woman who wants a knock-off of the $6000 gown she loves for $1000 is almost guaranteed to be disappointed. The dressmaker has to make sure she knows that it will likely require a significant downgrade in materials and labor to fit her budget.

Lastly, make sure she knows her options. The web is full of sites which will help her plan and budget her event. It can be hard to distinguish good ones from poor quality ones...there is such an information overload these days.

It has been a long time since I have updated this blog. No longer feeling the need to document my every move, and feeling much more in the flow of life since both of my children started school again last week, I can now focus on my business again. It has been a long,hard summer, fraught with all sorts of challenges and complete exhaustion, but I am coming out of it now. (Thank God!)

So, I will now be pulling in information from old posts, writing new ones, and updating the blog to reflect where I am now. For a little while, I will be cleaning up some projects, resolving unfinished business, and generally resuming my professional life. Deep breath... full steam ahead!

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