Saturday, September 28, 2013

Sartorial Saturday: Colette Hawthorn - almost done!

Colette Hawthorn - almost done! by Sew Festive
Colette Hawthorn - almost done!, a photo by Sew Festive on Flickr.

Today I'm working to finish up several clothing items that were languishing half-finished. I've already added the peplum this morning and completed all of the edgestitching, so now I need to figure out if I want sleeves and then install some buttonholes.

Side note: I've never used the buttonhole function on my current sewing machine, so I'm a little terrified!

Next item to finish? My Victoria Blazer!

Happy Saturday to all :)

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Jumping on the bandwagon - Modern Maples

Here it is, 6:30 am, I don't have to leave for work for 15 more minutes, and I've been awake for an hour. I assure you, I'm as astounded by this turn of events as you may be. 

But hey, that's just enough time to share the start of my Modern Maples project!

I like the idea of this project. I love the leaves, I love autumnal colors, I love decorating for the seasons. What do I not love? My finished item looking like everyone else's. Don't get me wrong, sometimes that's what's needed. But I try and make sure that the fact that I'm on blogs and Flickr and Pinterest doesn't extinguish my sense of innovation.

I was stuck, though. I couldn't think of what I wanted to do. So I just decided to cut up some fabric and see where it led me. I cut 2.5 inch strips to be my leaf colors [side note: I think those two florals up there might be the only florals in my stash!]

And then I thought about putting the leaves into other saturated colors, instead of just neutrals or low-volume. So I paired the strips up with another fabric.

I even got a helper for a little bit. He's very autumnal, he tells me. Pair him with red, he tells me.

My idea was finally starting to take shape a little...but I was having a really hard time picturing exactly what it might look like, so I turned to some trusty markers and a little bit of coloring. So, as you can see, we've got some 3/4 log cabins, inspired by Ara Jane's tutorial. And some leaves interspersed in there.

I only got as far as cutting out the leaves before I started waffling on whether or not I should keep the leaves in a saturated color background, or whether all the leaves should have neutral backgrounds. As you can see in the drawing, not all the leaves would be at the center of the log cabins, so I think the neutrals would be spread out through the design, but I'm just not sure.

What do you think? Leaves in saturated colors with 2 or 3 in a neutral background, or all neutrals?

**Linked to Fabric Tuesday and WIP Wednesday

Friday, September 20, 2013

Behind the scenes - a book proposal

Eeep! So much radio silence over here!

Remember when I thought I had the scourge? Well, friends, that was but a precursor for what came next. Last week I lost 6 pounds from a horrible stomach virus. 6 pounds! The upside here is that a shirt I'm making that was a smidge small is now going to fit ;)

I figured since I haven't been sewing I'd show you a part of what I have been finishing around here...

So, a few months ago I wrote a book proposal. I've wrestled over the last couple weeks about whether to share that information here for a few reasons:

-the book world is so secretive
-I didn't know what my plan was
-I didn't want to announce my failure to the world

I've decided to post about if for a few more reasons:

-I'm sure there are other people who want more information about writing a book
-I thiiiink I know my plan now
-I've decided that this whole experience is not a failure :)

 Anyways, back to the book proposal. Back in April I put together 43 pages of a proposal. Yep, 43 pages. That thing was hefty. It included my run-down of why my book was unique, my perspective as a quilter, and what the book was all about. I also included a table of contents [this is useful because it showed exactly how I wanted to lay out my book as part of the way I was structuring the presentation of my concept], an introduction, the instructions for a sample project, the mock-ups of all my projects (15 total), and a portfolio of my work.

Now, what happened after I emailed all that in? I don't want to say which publishing company I sent it to, because I don't want to affect anyone's opinion of them in particular, I just wanted to comment on the experience as a whole. So I sent it in and they confirmed that they received it and then I waited. Aaaand I waited. I'm not a patient person, so this part was killer!

The person I was in contact with was very friendly and helpful. I really, really appreciated that. I could email and ask for the status and she would get back with me in a couple days. I was always torn between feeling like I was being annoying, and wanted to make sure that nothing was falling through the cracks. I always argued with myself for several days before I would finally give in and email her, ha.

 So in July I heard back that my proposal had passed the first editorial review board. I was kind of shocked. I was elated. I had to bring myself back down to earth real quick. The review board asked for some additional projects that showed my concept for their review at the second board. They just wanted pictures, not projects mailed in, which made it easier. But I sewed like a madwoman for a few nights after work!

 At this point I was interested in knowing exactly what happened in the proposal process, so I asked my contact, and she sent a pretty helpful answer:

"Should your proposal pass, I'll contact you to let you know and to arrange a phone call where we will go over our publishing process and our deadlines. I'll then work with you to set your deadlines and make sure we have a final table of contents (we can get requests for changes or suggestions during any point in the process.) Next, my Publisher will offer you a contract.

Only after all of that would you need to send in a sample project, so you should be okay for now. Usually the deadlines are: contract, table of contents, sample project, first draft, projects for photography, everything else (author bio, etc). Those steps can sometimes be compressed or combined if there is a significant reason to move very quickly, but for most books you have time to complete each of those steps."

Does anyone else think it's crazy that no actual projects are needed in their hands until after a contract is signed?!

 My book proposal made it to the final editorial review board. I honestly was freaking out at this point. It's hard to not get your hopes built up at something that you've been so emotionally invested in. I felt like my designs were a part of me at this point, an extension of the kind of taste level, sewing point of view that I have.

 I am not writing a book with this particular publisher. I had a phone call with my contact and she was very helpful in explaining why. At the final editorial review board, they decided that while they loved my designs and felt that they were absolutely fresh and unique and had not been seen before, they felt the subject matter needed to be authored by someone who is known nationally for teaching sewing, ie, someone who teaches at conferences and conventions.

 I'm not ashamed to say that I cried after I got off the phone. I was sad and then I was angry. I want to make it known that I thought this publishing company is absolutely fair in wanting a nationally-known name. It certainly makes sense from a business perspective. It's just hard to reconcile with the books I do see popping up from bloggers and such. Not that I'm knocking any of them at all. That's amazing for them. It's just incongruous with what I heard. And this might just be a requirement for my subject matter, or for that publishing company. My contact did say that she would be happy to be a resource for me going forward, because she thought that I had a great proposal, and that they would be happy to review it again after I had some teaching experience.

 What am I going to do now? I really did feel like a failure for about a week. It took several talks with my boyfriend and friends to see that taking a chance and putting together a proposal at all is what made this a success. Making it to the final editorial review board is also a success. Feeling so strongly about my concept and my designs that I am excited to tell people about it is a success. I did not know what to do with the proposal though. Send it to another publishing company? Produce and sell the patterns myself? Submit the designs individually to magazines? Where did I want to take this?

 And so, you can see my quilt up there at the top of the post. One of the designs from my book. All pieced. No glue or pins or anything to sew those full circles. My plan? I will submit to another publisher, and I will make it known that I've tried to be transparent on my blog, because there's so many unknowns in the sewing book world. A little knowledge is a good thing, and if the fact that I wrote about my experience means that I won't have a shot at a book, then so be it.

 I hope that this was interesting and insightful to anyone else who has wondered what happens behind the scenes when a blogger goes "oh and I wrote a book," and I hope that all of us continue pushing ourself and our goals, in spite of, and because of, roadblocks. It may look like a failure in the heat of the moment, but maybe it's just preparing us for something that is a better fit.

Happy Friday everyone :)

Friday, September 6, 2013

The Plague

Has anyone else been hit by the back-to-school death sickness that comes about as a result of the frenzied activity of thousands of children all moving at once?

For anyone who doesn't remember, I'm not even a teacher.

So anyways, I'm just about back to normal after one week of absolutely miserable workdays and another week of still feeling run down. The weekend in between those two weeks I ventured into a sewing arena heretofore unexplored: baby clothes.

I don't have a baby. I don't know anyone with a baby [that I want to make handmade clothes for], and so I've never gotten to experience the sheer joy out of making an item of clothing out of an itsy bitsy scrap of fabric.

Are humans ever this small?!

So anyways, my supervisor at work just announced to my unit that she's having a baby next February. I wanted to give her a little something, because she had to keep it quiet at work so long, and it's her first baby. She doesn't know the sex yet, so I thought, great! What an opportunity to try out a boy and girl pattern.

I used the Made by Rae newborn Geranium pattern and the Made by Rae Basic Newborn Pant. Both free, both awesome.

The dress is made from a Riley Blake print that I got in a scrap pack long ago, and the bodice lining is just a basic white. There's two teeny pattern pieces for the bodice, and it's laughable how small they are. Like, I sat looking at it for a moment because I wasn't sure if something happened with my printer. The skirt is just a large rectangle that's gathered.

The pattern calls for 3 buttons on the back. But by the time I got to that part in the sewing, I was almost delirious from fever, and I couldn't mentally comprehend the addition of buttons. I didn't even think it was safe for me to be next to a sewing machine at that point, so I used pearl snaps instead. Not as cute as color-coordinated buttons, but hopefully this means it'll be faster to get on and off the baby.

The pants are made from a scrap of Robert Kaufman Pima cotton that I used for a skirt last year. I tried to match the stripes on the front, but the back got a little away from me, so it doesn't look perfect. It helps if you remember that stripes need to be matched before cutting your pattern pieces, not after you sew the seam once ;)

I French seamed everything for a clean finish, which the pattern doesn't call for. I think it's smart with baby clothes, considering how often they get washed. I also added a little ribbon in the back as a tag to identify which is the back side. Not necessary, but I thought it was cute.

I had fun making these! Baby clothes are tiny, satisfyingly quick projects. And the look on my supervisor's face was great [it isn't widely known yet in the office that I can sew].

Happy Friday!

*Linked to Finish it Up Friday