Pockets? Or No?

What has it got in its pocketses? -Gollum in
What has it got in its pocketses? -Gollum 

I posted a link on the Gorgeous Fabrics Facebook Page to an interesting article titled “The Politics of Pockets” (click on the title to open the article in a separate tab). It gives interesting insight into the history of pockets, and the fact that until relatively recently (the early 1900s) pockets were a rarity in women’s clothing.
Continue reading Pockets? Or No?

Sorry to Go AWOL

Hey folks

First, thank you all for the outpouring of support and love on my mother’s passing. It’s hit me a lot harder than I expected. I was always more of a “Daddy’s girl” and my mother was more of a “Boy’s mom”. But losing her meant losing the last parent between my generation and the hereafter. My logical mind understands that is what happens, but the reality hits harder than I ever expected it would. And Alzheimer’s is a dreadful disease in that you lose your loved one twice: first when they stop knowing you, then when it actually takes them.

I haven’t been doing much sewing recently, but I did go to the local ASDP chapter meeting today which was wonderful – I got to reconnect with friends and listen to a fantastic lecture about Balenciaga. It makes me want to get back into the sewing room!

I’ll try to post more this week. I have been sporadically working on a Marfy blouse muslin and I will finish that and based on the findings from the muslin, make it up in silk. I’ll get my mojo back soon, I am sure. So thank you all again for your kindness and support. It means the world to me.


Clothes Make the Mom?

Bippety Boppety Boo
But, what if Cinderella preferred her “rags”? After all, she didn’t have to wear corsets or panniers, and her hair was definitely prettier.

Lately, a tempest in a teacup has erupted on the Boston Globe’s website. Last week, a blogger wrote an article titled, It’s Time to Reinvent the Suburban Mom. The author laments, “How did fleece and Lycra become the staples of the suburban mommy uniform? And why is it acceptable to wear leggings outside of the gym, or worse, when you don’t ever go to the gym? When did showering become optional? The suburban mommy needs a new uniform, pronto.”

She then goes on to list 6 items of clothing that every ‘suburban mommy’ should have in her closet. They include

  • “A pair of jeans that flatter you”
  • T-shirts
  • A “great silk shirt”
  • Leggings (Uh, lady, you just said they belonged only in the gym)
  • A Dress
  • A Blazer

All of these are accompanied by a paragraph explaining why people must adhere to this 6-piece capsule collection. Worse than that, the author insinuates that if you don’t stock your closet with these pieces, you are, in the parlance of our political times, a loser.

As you can imagine, this article elicited an… energetic response from readers, one of whom wrote a Counterpoint Article decrying the fact that women pronounce these judgements in a public arena (like the largest newspaper in Boston), while men get a free pass. She makes a bunch of other points, but that’s the one I agree with most.

I know it’s human nature to judge people by their looks, and I’m sure if I walk into a coffee shop with full frizz and no makeup, in shorts and a “Mother of Dragons” tee shirt, someone might think I’m a slob. Conversely, if someone sees me in fahncy jeans and a cashmere sweater with full warpaint, they might think I’m pulled together. But the fact is, I am pulled together, regardless of what I’m wearing. And I try really hard not to judge anyone else by what they are wearing, or how their hair/makeup looks. After all, I don’t know what their life is like, so why get all judge-y about it? I have other things to worry about.

Here’s my advice. Wear what makes you feel good. If that’s leggings, fine. If that’s a designer cashmere sweater over a silk blouse, fine. If you feel good, you will walk taller and have more confidence. It’s about you, not ‘them’.

In sewing news, the organza arrived for my StyleArc Poppy top, so I’ll resume working on that. While I waited for it, I also cut out a blouse using a new Simplicity pattern. This weekend I get to sew, lots, so there will be much to blog about. Until then,

Happy sewing!

Blog vs Instagram

Screen Shot 2016-05-19 at 8.08.06 AM

A blogger whom I admire (Bunny, in case you’re wondering) just announced that she’s taking a hiatus from blogging. Her explanation boils down to not enough time. She’s certainly not alone in this. I’ve noted a slowdown in the blogosphere, at least in the little corner that I follow. You can see it in the blogroll to the right here. New posts seem to be fewer and farther between. I’ve even taken to removing links to blogs that haven’t posted for more than a year (with a few exceptions).

My own posts have slowed from the prolific days of several years ago. It seems that the general influence of blogs has waned. Instead, I have observed a trend of people, myself included, turning to Instagram. I’m not a prolific Instagrammer, and I still have an aversion to selfies, but I find that Instagram is a great way to track works in progress, and to micro-blog, if you will, projects that don’t merit a full post. For example, I made yet another StyleArc Ann Tee. I love it, but it certainly doesn’t merit a full post on this blog. But a few quick snaps and ta daa! It’s out there for all to see. A picture of my garden beds isn’t something most of my blog readers are interested in, but it’s easy to show on IG that I do things other than sewing and selling fabric.

I’ve pondered in the past if Blogging is Dead (or dying). I think it’s certainly evolving. My blog is still a much better place for showing in-depth reviews and techniques. Unlike IG, I can take higher resolution and larger pictures for clarity and instruction. But Instagram gives that “quick hit” that I sometimes prefer.

So how about you? Are you on Instagram? Do you think it will take the place of blogging, be an adjunct to it, or something else?

May 30, 2016, ETA: Thank you everyone for your kind words about this blog. I really appreciate it! I’m not planning on quitting blogging. Really. And this wasn’t a fishing expedition to get compliments or pleas to remain on the interwebs. I’m going to continue blogging – I enjoy it! 🙂 I’m really just commenting on the slowdowns and stoppages I’ve noted on other blogs. Thanks so much!

The Pressinatrix Explains Etiquette for Trolls

My dearest Pressing Minions, have you missed your Pressinatrix? She has missed you all most dreadfully. As you may have heard, her lesser self alter ego recently was engaged to write an article for Threads Magazine on Pressing Tools, from the indispensable to the crave-worthy. Your Pressinatrix made sure that her lesser self alter ego gave you information and tools that meet with The Pressinatrix’ hearty approval.

But today, The Pressinatrix wishes to address a completely different subject. Today, your Pressinatrix would like to share the “rules of the road”, if you will, for trolling comments.

Now, your Pressinatrix would, of course, never be subjected to trolls, but she has witnessed troll comments on blogs, including the blog of her lesser self alter ego. And she has observed the characteristics of trolling comments that make them truly stand out. To whit:

  1. Facts Don’t Matter. The best trolls have no time to actually verify that their statements are true, or even applicable to the post on which they are commenting. After all, dears – it’s not about the original poster. It’s about the troll. It’s always about the troll.
  2. Vitriol is King. The more vituperative the commentary, the better! Anger, dear trolls. Righteous, burning anger is what will get you noticed. Constructive criticism is so 2008.
  3. Comment Moderation is for Sissies. Anyone who moderates comments on their site or blog is simply inviting biting commentary. And trolls believe their biting commentary is both witty and charmingly snarky. A site that moderates comments is hiding behind a cowardly technological gateway. Trolls deserve to be heard. Nay, trolls must be heard!
  4. Taunt the Cowards. If a site has the audacity to moderate, be sure to bait the administrator with a follow-up to your initial, pithy comment. Dare them to publish your comment. After all, YOU are the righteous troll; they are cowards. Here’s an example:
    “It will be interesting to see if you are honest enough to put a comment on that is not flattering.”
    How cutting! How irascible! How witty!
  5. Linky linky linky! Be sure to include links to your website, blog or business. After all, dears, it’s not about the site on which you are commenting. It’s about you. Your goal is to show the Internet how superior you are to everyone else out there, and to drive traffic to your site.

My dears, if you follow these five simple rules, you will be the king of the trolls, arbiter of all that is worthy of internet publication, and you shall take your throne in the pantheon under the mountains.

Until the next time, my darlings, I remain forever yours,

The Pressinatrix

The Diminishment of Fears – A Parable

Once there was a young woman. She was smart, and she went to college, where she took a class with a professor. This professor was an ogre. He frightened everyone, his class was haaaaaard, and he made people cry. Many thought he was the epitome of the Worst. Teacher. Ever.
Shrek Roar

No one in the first year completed his projects. He was a taskmaster. Everyone felt like they were complete losers in his class.

The young woman fled the class. She took an incomplete. Like many before her, she went to her college advisor and found a class with an easier professor. She learned some good things from this professor, some were easy things, sometimes intermediate things. But that was okay, because she felt like she was learning, and she wasn’t intimidated by the professor.
Slowly but surely, the student acquired knowledge and techniques to make her more confident. As time went by, the memories of the ogre professor faded. She got a job, then another job and another. Then one day, she was invited to a party, where the Ogre Professor was also a guest. She was surprised. He was no longer frightening…

In fact, he was rather nice, and very interesting. He had good things to say and knowledge to impart and she realized…
So she spent some time with the professor and discovered that, contrary to what she had thought, the professor could still teach her, and she could use what she learned from the professor. She and the professor became good friends, and to this day they work together and enjoy each other’s company.

The moral of the story? Things that seem hard or scary –  let’s say patterns, may be so at one point in your life, but as you learn and grow, they become far less intimidating. It’s the diminishment of fear, as your experience grows. And your experience will grow.

Happy sewing!

Is the Independent Pattern Bubble Starting to Burst?

I’m wearing my bullet-proof underwear today, so I’m going to put it out there. Three posts back, Michelle noted that Blue Ginger Doll, an “indie” pattern company, seems to have shut down with little or no notice. Sure enough, when I went to the site, it has a little closed sign hanging on the page. I have no affiliation with Blue Ginger Doll, and I don’t know the owner/designer, so I have no idea what may have happened. I have linked to their patterns from Gorgeous Fabrics on occasion, but that’s the extent of it. Hopefully everything is okay with the owner. I never want to see small business owners go through bad things (voice of experience talking here). But it got me thinking about the general ebb and flow of companies, pattern companies in this case.

Round about two years back, it seemed like there was an explosion in the number of patterns being offered by new companies. I’m not talking StyleArc or HotPatterns, both of which have been around for several years and whose designers have industry chops. I’m talking about patterns offered by bloggers who may or may not have had design training. They seemed to come flying out of the sewing blogosphere (SBC) like fireworks on New Years. There were tons of reviews on blogs, there were calls for pattern testers all over, there were blog tours, there were hordes of me-too iterations of certain patterns.

Then it died down. And of late, some of the independent pattern companies seem to have fallen off the radar. I’m not going to mention any names beyond Blue Ginger Doll, but I’m sure you can come up with your own list. Here’s what I think happened.

Too many beginner styles, not enough beginners.
It seemed for a while that we were seeing many of the almost-exact-same patterns cropping up from different blog/design sites. Easy skirts, easy tops, pajama bottoms, headbands. All were introduced with the goal of getting newbies into sewing. I love it! I applaud it! The more the merrier when it comes to sewing.

The problem arises when saturation sets in. There are only a certain number of beginners out there, and there are a sh*t-ton of pajama bottom patterns. It’s hard to justify paying $20 for an a-line skirt when you can buy the same pattern (not on sale, mind you) for $3.99 from New Look. Add to that the attrition rate when a newbie sew-er hits a wall or runs up against fit or generally gets frustrated, and you quickly run out of customers. Which brings me to…

Cute idea on paper, crappy execution IRL
Ever been seduced by the soft lighting, beautiful backgrounds and cute posing of the model in some of the photographs of independent patterns? But after purchasing the pattern, you discover that the bodice makes your boobs look saggy (thanks, I don’t need help with that), the sleeves are drafted so no matter what they won’t hang correctly, the skirt is cut in such a way that it makes a skinny little thing look like she gained 20 lbs.

There’s a reason fashion designers – most of them, anyway – go to fashion design school. There they learn not only how to sketch and use CAD software. They also learn things like proportion and balance, and technical skills like grading and dart manipulation. Very few of us are born with the innate ability to drape or design a piece of clothing that will look good on bodies of different sizes. And…

If it doesn’t look good on the “designer” it won’t look good on me.
There are two parts to this. First, there’s the general design. I’ve seen some patterns modeled by the designer that look, frankly, awful on them. Yet fangirls heap adoration on them while 97.8% of the blog reading public is thinking, “Whut??” Second, even if the design is good, the construction is so poorly done that it causes The Pressinatrix to Clutch Her Pearls and Fan Herself. If a pattern’s photograph has puckery seams, dimply darts, uneven necklines and wavy hems, it is not ready for prime-time. And that kind of shoddy construction reflects a lack of respect for the customer. If a designer can’t be bothered to put in the work to make their design look fabulous, why should they expect anyone to buy their pattern?

Does it age gracefully?
This question has two meanings. First – is the style one that will look fresh a few years later? That’s a really hard thing to accomplish, and kudos to those who can design looks that do. The second meaning has to do with the wearer. A certain style may look fantastic on a recent college grad who is starting out. But how does that look translate to that same person 4 years later when she is looking to move into a more senior position? Many of the early SBC patterns were designed by and for a young demographic. I applaud that, we need new sew-ers! But we all change, and our wardrobe needs change. Which brings me to…

It’s a dragon that needs to be fed, constantly.
Fashion is almost literally a churn-and-burn industry. Way back when, there were two “seasons” in fashion: fall/winter and spring/summer. Now companies like Zara and H&M are releasing collections – not looks, collections – every 5 weeks. It’s the same with pattern companies. The big ones have Early Fall, Fall, Halloween, Holiday, Winter, Early Spring, Spring, Early Summer, Summer… and it goes on year after year after year. If you’re a one-person shop, that’s a pretty daunting schedule to try to keep up. Even 4 seasons a year is a lot. Something has to give, whether it’s the quality of design, or the health of the designer. You know that adage, “the reward for hard work is more hard work?” Yeah, this.

Game of Thrones? Game of Sewn
Game of Thrones? Game of Sewn

It’s a piece of clothing, not a lifestyle.
Have you ever noticed that the biggest lifestyle brands out there don’t offer clothing lines? Martha Stewart, Real Simple, Jonathan Adler – not one of them. Ralph Lauren could be considered an exception, but he doesn’t have a TV show and he doesn’t publish magazines or books. He just has a team of designers who do all the work under his umbrella. Alabama Chanin is probably the closest thing to a lifestyle brand that also designs clothing, but the aesthetic is geared to a narrow audience. A narrow audience who has lots of time to do hand-sewing, or has the disposable income to purchase hand-made-in-America goods. Lifestyle brands are aspirational. Maybe people aspire to wear a-line skirts and hoodies. Not people I know. Designs with a slight edge and beautiful, unusual details? That’s aspirational.

So, is there a shakeout in the “indies”? Perhaps. Certainly the number of patterns released from the SBC seems to have slowed from the flood of a couple of years ago. It’s probably fashion Darwinism at work. Some will survive, others won’t. Others will come on the scene, and perhaps one or two will be the Next Big Thing. I do hope that we continue to see new pattern designers, and I hope those pattern designers come out with cool designs that appeal to many. Because when they do, that means…

Happy sewing!

Is Blogging Dead?

Over the last week I’ve seen several comments from sewing acquaintances that blogging is dead or dying. It seems to be a drumbeat that started earlier this year and has gained traction over time, but is it true? Certainly many of the blogs that I follow have slowed down in publishing, and several of my favorite bloggers have stopped completely. Traffic to this blog has slowed, but I attribute that as much to the fact that I haven’t been publishing much lately as to any general trend. But there seems to be a small but growing consensus that blogging is dying a slow death, and that it’s being replaced by other, newer technologies, or that it’s being folded into content on commercial sites. The New York Times, Huffington Post and other media outlets have incorporated blogs into their mainstream sites, as quasi-op-ed.

I’ve started using Instagram, and I post regularly over on the Gorgeous Fabrics Facebook page with links to all sorts of stuff. Those are both good for “quick hits”, but you can’t put in-depth content like reviews, tutorials and such on those platforms. I’m not interested in setting up any kind of paywall; that runs counter to my business and personal DNA. I like sharing my knowledge about sewing. I don’t need to make money off it. I earn my living by selling fabrics. Teaching what to do with fabrics (whether purchased from me or elsewhere) is something that I do for the joy of it.

I don’t participate in collaborative blogs. I was one of the original Sewing Divas, but we all got too busy to continue that blog. I used to be a contributing editor to the SewStylish blog, and while it was fun at first, dealing with pressures and deadlines sucked all the joy out of sewing for me after several months. I don’t participate in forums because that could be viewed as self-serving and cynical. I may be both, but I don’t need to broadcast that on someone else’s site 😉

So where does that leave things? Well, here. Clearly if you’re reading this, you read blogs, so I’m not sure if you’re the right demographic to ask if blogs are truly dead. But are there any alternatives to blogging that you think are appropriate for disseminating information? Instagram? Tumblr? Pinterest? Others that I’m missing? What do you all think?

ETA later in the day August 18th: For anyone who thinks I’m contemplating shutting this blog down, I’m not, and I’m sorry if I gave that impression. I’m musing on the current and future states of the blogosphere, not anything more than that. I promise this blog will stay put for the distant future. Thanks and keep commenting – I really want to know your thoughts about the current state (and your thoughts on future possible technologies).

And since I can’t resist… See you Thursday.


Happy sewing!

Fasten Your Seatbelts…

Goes the classic line from “All About Eve.” It’s going to be a bumpy night. That’s right folks. It’s Ann-Rant Time!

(Ed. Note: if you are easily offended or don’t get snark, you are advised to change the channel now.)

I put aside my plans to do the test on the wrap dress neckline. I promise to get to that this week. But in the meantime I got waylaid by an idea for a blouse that I want desperately to make, and then I also saw some posts at a couple of places that complained about how…

Sewing is so HAAAAAARRRRRRDDDD, people! Like, really, really hard! Like, stress inducing! Like, it can make you cry!

Puhleeze. Talk about a first world problem.

Sewing is a hobby for 99% of the people I know. Even my colleagues who do it for a living would not classify it as hard. It can be technically challenging. It can be frustrating. It can even be somewhat terrifying if you are about to cut into a $300-per-yard fabric for the first time. But it is not hard.

Giving up on a project that will never work is painful, but it’s not hard.

You know what’s hard? Finding a cure for cancer. Trying to find evidence of the Higgs-Boson particle. Going into coal mines day after day to earn your living. Visiting a parent who has no idea who you are because Alzheimer’s has robbed her of all her memories. Those are all hard. Sewing is not hard.

So please, when things get tough in the sewing room, do what I do. Take a break. Take a deep breath. Go for a walk, make a cup of tea, have a glass of wine, call a friend, hit the gym. But don’t cry. Save that for the things that deserve your tears. There are lots of them, and they will come up and whack you in the back of the head when you least expect it. Besides, if you cry you might drip mascara on your Gorgeous Fabrics, and that would totally suck.

My my my, didn’t I cause a tempest in a teapot! 🙂