Monday, June 17, 2013

Personal Project: Simple Wood Shelf

Moving reminds me how much stuff I have.

I go back and forth believing I’m the type of person that needs only the amount of things I can fit in a backpack, to insisting that I keep all of my high school notebooks and collection of tiny trinkets.  Believing one day, my future child will want to read through each one. I have to save them, for my future child’s sake.

My attitude on the subject has been a constant back and fourth, but recently I’ve been accepting more than rejecting. Especially when it comes to clothes. I make the excuse that I’m a costume designer and I need to keep things for stock. What if I need it for a show, right? And even more recently, when it comes to household items, because I am moving into a place alone, I need things.

Even though this push and pull hasn’t gotten any easier, I’ve found a happy medium of sorts. Making things myself.

Handmade things are like school notebooks because they tell a specific story about your life when you made it. So sentimentality, check. Also, if I plan it right, I can also make something useful that I do need in my apartment.

Happily, this was the result of the beautiful, simple, shelf Ben and I made last weekend. On the sentimentality side: we designed it together, we did it together and he taught me how to use a table saw and a miter saw.  A fast spinning blade right next to my hand is not something I’ll forget! On the practical side: where I once had no shelving in my kitchen, I now have a one-of-a-kind shelf to store my dry ingredients, unused syrup containers and various other kitchen necessities. Win-win, I do believe.

In the time when you can buy anything for your apartment from Ikea and anything you need to dress yourself from Forever 21, making something handmade gives me meaning in a world of meaningless, inexpensive things. That’s why people are making craft beer for their friends and table runners fro their wedding. Because of the story. Because you can say, I made that and when I made that, this crazy thing happened. Stories are the currency of life, right? But when you make things you have the thing and the story. Another win-win.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Current (Problem Solving) Project: Flower Girl Dress

This past week I was asked to make a custom flower girl dress for a summer wedding. The bride wanted a simple design for her four-year-old cousin. We decided on a sleeveless, knee length dress with a simple collar.

However, there was a bit of a problem. The wedding and the flower girl were both out-of-state, so there would be no fittings.  The bride told me she was a size 4T and asked me to go from there.  When I found out my wheels started turning as to how I was going to make a dress, from scratch, without a body!

Well, here’s how it went:

First, I borrowed an old dress from my niece, who is growing out of her 4T dresses. I used that as a base for the pattern.  Then, after a few prototypes (two skirts and two bodices) I decided on the pattern. Figuring out how to make sure the dress fit was the biggest challenge, but I do love a challenge! Here was my solution: Elastic and knots.

It wasn’t all me, I consulted my mother, who is of the generation that knows everything about sewing, but never sews. I had already decided on the elastic for the waist, but couldn’t figure out how to make sure the top fit and that she could get it over her head. And of course, the answer was the simplest, which is always the hardest to find, ties at the shoulder.

I simply added three inches to each shoulder seam and there it was, an even more adorable version of the original dress.

I just gave it over to the bride, who is getting married next week. I hope all goes well and maybe I’ll even get a picture. Fingers crossed. -Alice