I’m back in school!

SFCC Entrance

Hi everyone!

Sorry I’ve been so quiet. This year has been quite a doozy! After the craziness of my life last year – the shit hitting the fan kind of crazy – somehow life got back on track for me. I can’t say I did it alone, though. I had the help of some wonderful and empathetic friends. First, I was introduced to the world of film and TV production as a costume PA for an independent movie called Priceless (check out the trailer here). Now, I may have only worked as a PA (production assistant), but because the costume department consisted of just three people (including myself) there were things that needed doing that required a seamstress. Most times, PAs start out green, not knowing anything about clothes or costumes. In fact, I’ve even come across a lot of costumers for film that don’t sew a stitch. So I brought a lot of experience to the table. They had me sewing alterations on a couple things, sewing police patches onto sleeves, and even helping to pick out some outfits for some characters.

The costume designer was kind enough to bring me along her shopping trips to show me the ropes. I got the CliffsNotes on all the costume stuff I didn’t know, like how to label the changes, how to read the call sheets, how to set the line, the numbers corresponding to the characters and their changes corresponding to their scenes, continuity photos. I even learned some things about how and why to dress characters in certain ways, what colors to use and how they might work or not work for that particular character, or what’s going on in the scene. Even without building the costumes themselves and just shopping for outfits, there’s a lot of thought that goes into everything that character will be wearing. Knowing this now, I pay much closer attention to just about everything I watch.

So even though I was a PA for that production, I was given the chance to do a lot of stuff PAs aren’t even allowed to do (sewing, for instance). Usually this rule only applies to a show that is unionized, and this requires certain positions to be union members. Costume PAs aren’t union sanctioned positions. Set PAs and Office PAs are (strangely). My hope is to eventually become a full union member, which would give me better pay and benefits, and more opportunities to work. This show DID garner me the two required letters of recommendation, however, that start the process of entering the union by way of taking two classes (set readiness, and safety) and putting me on what’s called “Overflow”. The overflow list is for job blasts from the union that advertise openings in certain positions. It is first sent out to all union members, and in case those positions are not filled first by a union person, it then gets sent out secondary to the overflow members list.

Costumes is a very small niche, and I’ve been on the overflow list since April now and I never see an overflow job blast for that department. I think – maybe – once I saw a posting for stitchers wanted (which is as rare as a unicorn and right up my alley) . . . but, I was then deeply immersed in the world of opera!

Santa Fe Community College

… is the only college in this state, that I know of, that offers any kind of degree or certificate in fashion design. I’m constantly asked which I would rather do, fashion design or costumes, and deciding between the two is like trying to decide between two favorite cereals! Both, I say! I want both! And frankly, the many fashion designers I have spoken to over the years have dabbled also in costume design and/or construction. On the technical side of things, the two are practically the same. It is only divided by the venue in which the garments are shown. And that one is marketed to a wide, modern audience, and the other is meant to convey a feeling of a character’s personality and time period.

But I want that degree. I know I don’t need it at this point. Fashion design and costumes are two fields where acquired knowledge and skills are good enough to get you the job. But while I was at the opera, so many of my apprentice peers were in the middle of their schooling, some of them graduate students even. All of them early to mid twenty-somethings. The first hands on many of the teams were then my age. Trying to tell myself that I didn’t need the degree wasn’t working. And I really did want to brush up on the technical side of things. Sure, I can make patterns and drape garments. But I want to do it well. And I wanted to practice my illustration and rendering again, and going to a class for that is a good motivator for me.

I’m four weeks into school now, though, and I already wish I could just work faster and get it all out of the way. At this point, flat patterning and textiles study is very remedial. Production Sewing 101 is for absolute beginners, and so I’ve been taken on as an assistant teacher for the first half. Even my Japanese class is rudimentary, because they only had “Intro” and then the second level class 112 – I fall somewhere in between 111 and 112, so just to fill time, I enrolled in the introductory class.

At least now I understand better why I end up sluffing class so much . . . I get bored. Somehow I’ll make it through these classes, though, because now that I’m an adult, I’m not afraid to come up to the teacher to ask to be challenged. The sooner I can get all this out of the way, the sooner I get that degree.

Etsy Store

In the meantime, I reopened my Etsy store and I’m available again for commissions. I just turned off vacation mode, and now all of my listings have expired. I’ll put a few of those back up, however. And if you have any inquiries about potential projects, I’d be happy to discuss them with you.

Santa Fe Opera Apprenticeship!

I have had quite a busy year so far! First, I briefly worked at the local movie theater to get through the winter, which was actually pretty fun and I made friends I wouldn’t have made other wise. Then a friend brought to my attention the potential opportunity to work at the Santa Fe Opera – in some capacity. She seemed convinced that I had enough skill that I could definitely go for that, or some other more advanced sewing/costuming venture. She even suggested going to New York to try my luck out there. But I thought it best to play it safe and stay local for now.

The opera sounded perfect! I had no idea what it would entail. Nor was I aware of just how prestigious it was to be accepted into their ranks. Even as just an apprentice. I sent an application with my portfolio, resume, and cover letter back in February. From then on, I was on pins and needles waiting for a call, an email, . . . something! I was nervous about calling and following up on the status of my application, unsure if it was kosher to do that. I’m very, very lucky to have a good friend that has been contracted by the opera for costumes for many years now. Not only did she let me put her down as a reference, but she even sent a personal message to the people in charge of hiring, and spoke highly of me and my work. I was thrilled, and forever grateful to her! I’m pretty sure that without that, I don’t think I would have made it past the thousands of other applicants (thousands!).

There are only about 70 positions, and of those only a handful of stitchers – which is what I applied for. But I got in! I was offered an apprenticeship for stitching in the costume department of a very prestigious opera house here in the Southwestern United States.

It’s only a two month contract, starting May 30th to July 30th. I’ll be living in a dorm type situation for the duration, meanwhile the rest of my stuff will be living in a storage unit down in Albuquerque. This means that I’ll be moving out of my house here in Taos and relocating to ABQ after my contract with the Opera ends. So it’ll be quite a chaotic summer, I should think. I’m so sad to be leaving this beautiful house I’ve been living in this past year, but the owners are putting it on the market, and they want us to renew a year lease or move out. It doesn’t make sense to keep it while I’ll be living in Santa Fe. All of this is simply the universe steering me in the direction I need to go.

After the Opera? Who knows! I know I’ll still be sewing and designing. I think I’ve finally accepted it as my main thing. As well as trying my hand at costuming for film and television, which was the other busy thing I ended up doing for most of March and part of April. I worked on a period western, an indie film called Justice. My work actually made it onto the screen too! Talk about exciting.

I’ll still be doing my Lolita designing and sewing, and hopefully I’ll be able to settle down before September so that I can expand my little shop on here.

Starting today, my online shop will be closed and unavailable. My Etsy shop will still be open until the 20th of May, and then it will be in vacation mode until probably sometime in August or September. So this is the post that’s mostly FYI about that, and why. :) Maybe I’ll keep up my adventures at the opera here in my blog. I can’t wait to see what kinds of things I’ll learn while I’m there.

Sabaku Con 2016

Fashion Show

Mode a la Belle - Fashion Show models 3 Mode a la Belle - Fashion Show models 2 Mode a la Belle - Fashion Show models 1

 

 

 

 

 

Tea Party

Group Photo - Sabaku Con 2016

 

Anyway, thanks for reading my blog, everyone! And thanks for all your support! Stay tuned… <3

Modeling Call–Sabaku Con J-Fashion Show

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This is a little PSA for my peeps handling the J-Fashion show for Sabaku Con in Albuquerque, NM – May 6-8, 2016

The fashion show will be on Friday May 6th, at 7pm in the Yucatan ballroom.

I will be entering some of my own pieces, and would love to have models for them. If you’re a NM local, especially in Albuquerque, I would love to consider you as a model for my work. You must be in attendance for the convention itself to apply.

Information on fashion show registration can be found here on the Sabaku Con official website.

Rules (from the official website)

If you want to enter the fashion show please read the rules below:

  1. Outfits for the fashion show must be associated with or inspired by Japanese street fashion style.
  2. Your outfit can be purchased or handmade or a combination of the two. Just look as fabulous as you can.
  3. Designers are allowed to wear their own outfits or have models wear the outfits. A model should wear no more than 2 outfits during the show.
  4. If you want to model, Poison Sugar is looking for models- please email her at poison.sugar@yahoo.comfor more information.
  5. Please no cosplay. We want to focus on Japanese street fashion, if you want to show a costume please sign up for the masquerade.
  6. Contestants entering the J-Fashion Show may also enter separate outfits for the Masquerade.
  7. Local fashion designers are always welcome in the Jfashion show! If you are a local designer inspired by Japanese culture and clothing and want to showcase your creations and promote yourself in the show please enter! Even if you only do accessories, this is a great way to promote yourself! You will however have to find your own models and get them ready. Being a model does not get you a badge to the con We will not have hair and make-up people on staff.
  8. A maximum of 50 entries total will be allowed for the J-Fashion Show.

Please fill out either the individual or designer form below and email it to poison.sugar@yahoo.com

Warnings

  • Please understand that failure to give a narration by the show date may result in only your entry name being read.
  • We cannot supply specific music for only your walk. You can give us a style of music you would like- all music will be played by an experienced DJ

Registration Form for individual

  • Entrant’s real name:
  • Name you want announced by M.C. or nickname you go by:
  • Email:
  • Over 12: Yes or no?
  • Number of Outfits to be Displayed:
  • Outfit/piece description/title of style:
  • Narration: Please let us know what you want said by the MC when you/your models go on stage. The narration should be about the outfit, design, or style the model is wearing and name you want announced. Please limit the narration to 35 words or less.

Registration Form for Designer

  • Label or brand name:
  • Contact name:
  • Contact Email:
  • Number of Outfits to be Displayed:
  • Description of your style/what Jfashion inspires you: (I don’t need a description of every outfit- just your overall style influence):
  • Narration:

Other Links of Interest

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Sabaku Con 2015 006 (683x1024)JFashion Show 1J-Fashion Show - Sabaku Con 2013

About Commissions – Communication is key!

(Looks at the title) . . . That’s a lot of “m”s and “s”s . . . :P

So I’ve been getting a lot of commissions lately, and I’m still trying to iron out the best ways to communicate with clients. In this business, it’s imperative that I have as quick of a response or back and forth as I can possibly get, that’s comfortable for the client as well.

So I have several options to get ahold of me if you wish to consult with me about a potential commission.

  • Etsy Conversation
    • – so far, many of my commissions have started here. An app on my phone makes it easy to share photos. However, scrolling through 20+ messages makes this form of communication a little daunting after a while. A good starter tool if you want to begin initial contact and query.
  • Email
    • – Okay, pretty easy, especially if a Paypal invoice has been sent, and the client has no other preferred form of communication. Pictures not so easy to attach from my phone, though.
  • Google Message (Hangouts)
    • – I like this. This is instant and easy, especially if you have a gmail account like a bajillion other people! Always an option here.
  • Skype
    • – Yes, I love Skype! Instant Messaging, photo sharing, and you could voice call, or video call me for free! If you become a client of mine, I can happily share my Skype info with you. I also have my business phone number with Skype.
  • Texting
    • – Kind of a last resort. I don’t usually like sharing my mobile number with just anyone, especially if I don’t know them in person and the relationship is exclusively online. But texting with photos is certainly an option if we want quick messaging with photos, and the above options are not available for you as a client.

How it works

Lace SamplesI have so many patterns, fabrics, and lace choices! One of my favorite things is to pull them out to show a potential client and help them choose the perfect design elements for their dress!

You can take a look at my current pattern catalog here! Forgive me that it’s still an incomplete list. I have SO many patterns, it’s been hard to keep up. But if you’re considering a commission from me, here are some of the many basic options I have. These patterns are not set in stone, and I have the ability to modify just about anything to exactly what you want, can replicate a design element you might have seen somewhere else from another brand, and can make it fit your measurements!

When you order from me, I will be consulting you every step of the way to be sure I’ve got exactly your design in mind during the production process.

I use many different resources for fabric, including (but not limited to) Fabric.com (broadcloth, knits, et al), OnlineFabricStore.net (Chiffons, georgettes, mesh, tulle – accents), DenverFabrics.com (main fabrics, special design, high quality various) and FashionFabricsClub.com. Also, ShabbyFabrics.com is another fav of mine for classic Lolita styles.

I also have an account with EESchenk.com because they can order from Japanese textile houses like Lecien, Cosmo, and Kokka. Because they’re a wholesaler, however, I have to spend a minimum of $150 per order. And when I order fabrics coming from Japan, they only place orders during a small window, and it takes up to six months before my shipment comes in. Personally, I think it’s worth it. I have to buy by the bolt, and Japan textiles usually come in 12 yard bolts. I’m not limited to Japanese fabrics, however, and other textiles are available for a much faster time frame.

Pricing

Sometimes, perhaps more often than not, new clients are a little shocked at my pricing. I have jumpskirts for sale on Etsy that are anywhere from $50 – $80, and there seems to be some confusion as to why custom garments are quoted to clients at anywhere from $100 – $200 (not including shipping). The pieces already for sale on Etsy are prototypes or samples, one-offs that I made for the fun of it, or just to develop a pattern that I’ve wanted to try for a while.

Custom garments are taking another person’s exact specifications, their style, their measurements for fit, all the design elements like fabric choices and lace trims, to bow or not to bow, scalloped skirt hems – these things are consulted with me, and take time to develop. I’m making something extra special just for you, to fit you as perfectly as I can with the information you give me, and the knowledge I have at my disposal that took many years of school and experience to acquire.

I am a seamstress, costume maker, draper, pattern drafter, and designer. You’re paying for my professionalism and my attention to detail. I could never compete with the low end market prices established by major global manufacturers. My pieces have more uniqueness and a soft finish. And no one will have anything exactly like the piece I make for you.

If you want to consider ordering a commission from me, I do accept payment plans via Paypal!

Sizing

I have my own size chart that I go by. Many of the patterns I have are multi-size, but only within the Asian range of sizes. So that means that our American “M” is actually an “L” in my books. I have the ability to increase or decrease the sizes of any of my patterns. Here’s a general list of my sizes:

XS – Bust 32", Waist 24", Hip 34"

Small – Bust 34", Waist 26", Hip 36"

Medium – Bust 36", Waist 28", Hip 38"

Large – Bust 38", Waist 30", Hip 40"

XL – Bust 40", Waist 32", Hip 42"

It is the client’s responsibility to give me accurate measurements. Please be sure to use a soft tailor’s tape and take your measurements properly.

Feedback and Contact

To contact me regarding a potential commission of a garment, you can use the contact form on this website.

You can contact me via Etsy Conversations.

Read some feedback on my work here!

And check out my Facebook Page!

New in my Etsy Shop!

Alice Apron commission!

So I have this apron that I made, using the pattern found in the Gothic Lolita Bible #9 (for sale in my Etsy store) and I received a request for a custom commission. My client loved the design, but hoped for a longer skirt and a floral motif in the lace. Her party isn’t until the summer, so there was no hurry to finish. But she paid right away, so I thought to work on it right away and finish as soon as possible.

It’s kind of a funny design, and so I thought also to take pictures of my work to do a sort-of tutorial for it. Perhaps I will digitize the pattern to make it available, too.

Alice Apron GLB21-1Alice Apron GLB21-3Alice Apron GLB21-2

Finished product first!

So my client asked for a floral motif in lace instead of the treble symbol I usually use, and because the lace I found was a natural or off-white color, we matched it with some natural/beige cotton fabric I had. This ended up being a perfect decision because her dress will also have a natural/beige accent. I am very happy with the result. The skirt I made just a few inches longer. The original design has a 14” skirt, and so I made it 21” to cover the hem of a typical Lolita dress length. Voila!

Belle Floral Apron - Commission-2Belle Floral Apron - Commission-4Belle Floral Apron - Commission-1Belle Floral Apron - Commission-3

I have lots of lace choices, and so I showed her pictures of various lace that are about 10 – 15cm wide, and she chose this one. It happened to be the only natural/beige color of lace in the selection, which turned out to be perfect for her needs! I quite liked it myself, so I was happy to work with it.