Sunday, May 17, 2009

Sewing angels

I have been exceptionally blessed in the sewing connections I have made in my life. In the last few months I have become more involved with my sewing and with fashion in general. I have been so grateful for all of the information that I have picked up over the years and the wonderful people who have kept me interested, stretched my sense of myself, and offered new perspectives into my craft.

My first paid sewing job was at Desert Vintage in Tucson AZ. Kathleen Lauth who owns it is a fantastic woman with a big heart and a great eye. She hired me within two days of my arrival and introduced me to the study of clothing history. She took my affection for vintages dresses and made me a fiend for the details of construction and dating. She keeps threatening to get a website but she hasn't yet so I can't link you to her. If however you are in Tucson you should definitely check it out.

Desert Vintage & Costume
636 N 4th Ave
Tucson, AZ 85705
(520) 620-1570

When I got back to portland I got a sewing job at Beckel Canvas. I learned so much about the nature of production. I learned the importance of creating a series of steps and refining them to create the most efficient sewing system you can. From Bob Beckel I learned how to work on industrial sewing machines. Being able to maintenance my own machine is a skill of almost infinite value. I learned how to work with the machines, taking what they had to offer and not fighting it. Skills that include sewing together two pieces of different sizes, round edges to straight edges, or both at once in thick fabric. I worked with many different types of difficult fabrics often on a very large scale with minimal tools and I can tell you that everything else seems easy after that.

Through Beckel I met a cadre of wonderful people who all love to sew.
Hannah whom you all know and love. She more than anybody helped me think of my sewing as an art and not just a job. She helped me feel excited about all of the different places I wanted to take my sewing. She has been a wonderful friend and a priceless sewing buddy. I will always be in her debt.

Taylor who, with her husband Travis did T-Rex. Her charisma and unfailing sense of fun and color were always inspirational.

David Rafn whom you don't know yet but when he breaks out he will take Portland by storm. To see his work you will have to come to the Art Institute thesis show. Which you should do anyway because you will get to see more of Jessie's stuff.

On the side all this time I was doing piece work for Amy Daileda of Daisy Rock. She makes a beautiful, high quality product. She dyes all her own fabrics and has a wonderful eye for textiles. I had a great time working with her and loved seeing the color and texture combos she came up with.

I have also worked with Jennifer Philip of Phillips Bridal. This woman is a power house of sewing. She can make dresses at a speed that will make your head spin. I once saw her hem a wedding dress in just under five min. Her speed is not at the price of quality, everything she does is beautiful, uncompromising, quality. She takes nobody's word as gospel and finds perfectly, cleanly, useful ways to do everything. From her I learned to not be timid and even the softest silks or most elaborate beading are just raw materials to be used in the same way canvas or shirting is. If you were thinking of getting married and buying a high end dress I would strongly recommend going to Jennifer with your ideas because you could get a better made, custom fit gown for less money. Take my word for it. I have seen the inside of all those gowns and her work out strips them.

I have also worked for Laglitz Leather, a place that makes very high quality custom leather motorcycle gear. Although I learned some about the construction of jackets and more about working with leather most of what I learned was what not to do. I can't underestimate the value of respecting your production stitchers. These were very talented women who had the capacity to make wonderful garments but the management had no interest in listening to them. Langlitz missed some very valuable chances to improve their quality, efficiency, and thus their bottom line. The people sewing your garments know more about how they go together and what it would take to make the operation smoother than anybody else in the system. If you ever manage stitchers, please ask them because I can guarantee they have a ton of ad hoc solutions to problems from earlier in the chain.

I would also like to mention Kathleen Fasanella of Fashion Incubator because although I haven't worked with her she has helped to shape my concepts of sewing. The frustrations I have had with the methods that I found in sewing books are not my own imagination. The fact that books have contradictory information is not because I'm stupid and don't get it. There is a whole community of people who also problem solve for a living and they have figured out many of these things. Her tutorials mean that I don't have to reinvent the wheel every time I sit down at a sewing machine. I would also like to apologize for anybody who might take my placket tutorial to heart. Please go read Kathleen's and then donate money. Its plain stupid to do it any other way.

I have intentionally left out Jessie because I want to do a post on her and the Awesome! show she put on last night. So that's coming next.


Jessie said...

Aw, thanks Carly. This is such a great entry!

hannah said...

You're the best my dear. That was a really sweet post.
If I hadn't met you at Beckel I certainly wouldn't be here in NYC working as a patternmaker. And I wouldn't have the skills to be about to start drafting my first bikini either.... (which, im afraid, is a little nerve wracking, because what if it malfunctions during the test drive stages?? Although nothing could be worse than the debacle of that silver suit at the beach....)

t-bag said...

thanks for the shout out!!