Saturday, April 4, 2009

Branching Out

Things have slowed down a bit in the patternmaking world lately. At first I thought it was all post fashion week fatigue, but the lack of work has dragged on past the normal month or so. I think people are really assessing things, determining where to go next in this environment, and taking their time thinking about it. The result for me however, has been monstrously long "weekends" and 2 or 3 days of work a week. This week I didn't work at all. Now this could be fun -- for instance, my roommate Lillian and I are planning on spending the entire day working on our summer wardrobes (this involves lots of bleach, distressing, and black dye). But it also means I need some work on the side.
Which is a lead-up to say that Lillian and I have been working on a project that involves germ filtering tents for baby car seats. A fun technical problem, but not something either of us are going to be excited about putting on our resume. This led to a couple conversations with friends about what our worst or most ridiculous job related to our field has been. Lillian made patterns for a woman who was creating "designer scrubs." Another friend, an artist, made a backdrop for a Marlboro ad and felt like she was selling her soul the whole time. And my friend Julia, a videographer, worked for a year at a company who's main client was Popeye's Chicken. And she's vegan.
My most absurd career related job was a freelance gig I took a couple summers ago for a wealthy young man who wanted costumes for Burning Man. I agreed to sew him three v-neck t-shirts and two pairs of pants, all made of animal print spandex, much of with a metallic finish. He wanted them all VERY tight, to the point that when I was taking measurements he mentioned that I should take a little extra off the pants measurements because he doesn't wear underwear out at Burning Man.
I had successfully completed the t-shirts and started on the pants when my sewing machine stopped working. Completely stopped, full of loopy bobbin mess and weird thumping sounds, unable to proceed. Oddly (and fortunately), it worked fine on every other type of fabric. So I pawned the pants project off on a friend. She told me later that he had insisted on doing the fitting for the pants without his underwear on. Jesus. I haven't taken a freelance sewing job since.
I want to hear everyone else's stories of skill and talent used for odd and/or soul sucking jobs. Post yours!


Alyson Clair said...

I have a few I can't mention due to they were/are clients at my day job. My worst personal one was when I agreed to make a cycling speedsuit out of black and red sparkly spandex. The only problem was that I didn't have a shammy for the crotch. So I had to remove it from the gentlemans other speedsuit. Apparently they also go commando so the thought of that the entire time I was taking it out, and putting it in mine, plus the few pubic hairs that were lurking in the original suit. Eww!

I also had a similar hair problem when I was taking the fit of off a friends shirt for a men's wear studio in school. I thought he didn't wash the top, so I did, and there were still hairs stuck in the yoke of the shirt. Again EWW! But at least they were from his back and not neither regions.

RachelMM said...

No hair involved, but once I had to make 5 pairs of extra large MC Hammer Pants. Kind of strange.

Carly said...

This is not really my story but still pretty funny. I once worked for a woman who did wedding dress alterations. She is an amazing seamstress, there is nothing she can't make and she works faster than any human I have ever seen. Anyway she also does small scale contract work in the off season. She had a woman come to her with sketches and the goal of having my friend pattern and sew it up. The sketches were done in crayon on 11X14 sheets of newsprint. They looked exactly like an 8 year old made them. All of this could be forgiven if they had been well thought out ideas, lord knows I can't draw. However they had confusing detailing such as an empire waist in front and a standard waist in the back. I tried to wrap my head around that one for a while because it was suppose to be a "greek goddess" style dress. The end result of these sketches is that she was going to open a boutique that sold nothing but very expensive things to wear around the house and not out. I wish that designer the best of luck where ever she wound up.

kathleen said...

As you get older (and admittedly, more financially secure) you're able to turn down lost causes. My favorite story isn't one of mine but it happened to a designer I know. She made custom wedding gowns. She custom drafted and endlessly fitted a beautiful gown (I saw it, it was gorgeous). The client agreed it was finally perfect but it needed one small change...she wanted her to spray blue glitter all over it. No lie. My friend refused and said the client could do it if she wanted it.

That's not the whole story. I didn't mention that the client wasn't even engaged, she didn't even have a boyfriend but she wanted to be ready when prince charming came along. Oh, and she was in her 60's. You can't make up stories like this.