Monday, July 24, 2006

Small Notes

This weekend I made these little three inch by three inch notecards using scraps of cotton. I stitched along the top of each fabric square, so that it flutters like a tiny flag.

We'll use these cards for gift messages in the packages we ship. Many customers who order through the website have us mail their orders directly to their friends for birthdays, holidays, or other special events. We hand write each gift message for a personal touch.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Pattern Maker

My husband Jeff is a woodworker who generously uses his various tools to make acrylic patterns for us. In this photo he's transferring my original 8-gore skirt pattern (made of interfacing) onto an acrylic sheet.

Next stop, the table saw to cut the angled sides of the pattern.

Finally, he trims the bottom curve on his bandsaw. The patterns are so fantastic. Because they are clear, we can see exactly what we are doing as we slide the rotary cutter along each edge.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Project Runway: Episode Deux

Time for our weekly Project Runway review installment! You would think the challenge of designing a Miss Universe Pageant gown for the reigning Miss USA would be interesting enough, but the drama between the designers this week only upped the usual must-see factor. Laura and I have both already re-watched the episode several times on the Bravo re-runs, and we’re happy to say that NBC is picking up the first few episodes of the show to air Monday nights at 8pm PST. Just see if you can resist getting cable tv after that…

For some great behind-the-scenes dish, this is a great week to check out Tim Gunn’s podcast (linked to the previous P.R. blog entry). Apparently, there were juicy details the viewers didn’t get to see! Also, see the winning gown in action at the Miss Universe Pageant, airing this Sunday at 9pm PST on NBC.

What was your favorite garment this week?

Ashley: My fave was Kayne, and I was so glad he won. Talk about making his career! It doesn’t even matter now if he lasts a long time on the show, he’s the designer for Miss USA’s Miss Universe Pageant gown! And think of if she wins…

I have to admit that pageants are not my thing, so I’m hardly qualified to analyze this week’s garments. I thought that Laura and Michael’s off white gown was really lovely – clean and fluid. However, it was probably too simple for the pageant world. I certainly think that Kayne and Robert deserved to win. I enjoyed seeing Kayne tweak the clients ‘earth-tones’ request to something a little more showy. That is true designer work – listen to the customer and then insert your own vision to make something surprising and yet familiar.

Who is emerging as your early favorite?
Laura: I have liked both of Uli’s dresses quite a bit. I think she might be a sleeper a la Daniel V. from last season. At this stage of the show, there are so many characters, I don’t feel that we know them very well yet. I’m curious to see more from Robert and Michael especially.

Ashley: I love Kayne, and his partner from this week, Robert Best. I have to give Laura all the credit there, she has been into the two of them since the Road to the Runway special! But I also still really like Michael, the designer from Atlanta. I’m excited to see what he will do next.

Angela vs. Vincent: Who’s side are you on?
Ashley: I really think I dislike them both equally, although I was totally disgusted by Angela’s unprofessional shredding of Vincent in front of the judges. At least he toned down his anger when speaking to them. Tim Gunn’s extra information on the subject on his podcast is WELL worth listening to – there was a lot more going on we didn’t see!

They are both total lunatics. I second Ashley’s pitch that you listed to Tim Gunn’s podcast on the subject. The producers had to actually remove Tim from the work room because he was so frustrated with Vincent. Since Tim is always right, I think I have to side with Angela on this one.

What was your favorite moment from this week’s show?

Ashley: It’s not really a happy moment since he ended up being ‘out’, but I really liked hearing Malan’s back story and getting to know him a little more. By the time the show ended I was really sad to see him go! Laura and I have discussed our belated new-found love for him many times since the show aired. He was on the Today show though yesterday and he seems to be doing well and has several high-profile clients, so he wasn’t daunted by his dismissal from the show. Yay!

Laura: I agree with Ashley. Malan seemed like an arrogant jerk early on. But on this show, I realized that he is just one of those guys who probably had a rough go of it in his early school years. He probably listened to a lot of The Smiths in his room while he sewed incredibly detailed garments. He probably didn’t fit in. I wish we had the chance to see more from him; he seemed really talented and skilled to me. I have to give props to those who are true to themselves, weirdness and all. Austin Scarlett was the ground breaker in this area.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Tool of the Month - Lint Roller

Little threads and fibers float in the air around here. They stick to our clothes, workspace, and projects. The humble lint roller is the perfect tool to handle the stray threads (and pug hairs).

Dupioni silk is especially pesky, and we've been using it quite a lot lately for bridal party purses and other elegant projects. The picture shows Ashley's roller after use - it's a sampler of the day's projects.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Make it work!

We are proudly addicted to Project Runway. Have you seen the reality show on Bravo? Season Three just started on Wednesday night, so Ashley and I have a renewed obsession with mentor Tim Gunn and the creative process showcased on PR. (Of course we don’t mind the drama either.)

Each week we’re going to add our own comments to the Project Runway blog world. If you’re looking for more check out:

Tim Gunn’s podcast
Blogging Project Runway
Offical Project Runway Website

What do you love about this show?
Laura: I love the show because, despite all of the drama, it is really about the creative process. I love the episode structure – surprise challenge, quick design brainstorm, shop for materials, sew, and then - ta da - runway show. It’s endlessly entertaining to see how several people respond to the same design challenge.

Ashley: Well… everything! What I DON’T love is this new situation of Bravo using the last commercial break to post three choices for cell phone users to vote on to decide who will get kicked off. They phrase it as “which of these bottom three will be out?” Horrible! I don’t want to know who’s in the bottom three, that’s the fun of the show!

What’s your favorite moment from a past season?
Ashley: I really loved the Postal Service episode from Season 1. The designers had to combine fashion and function, while working within some pretty set-in-stone parameters of color, tradition, and modesty. Plus Austin Scarlett got to model for Jay, and who didn’t love seeing him in his element!

Laura: Santino’s impersonation of Tim Gunn is up there at the top of a long list of favorites. “Where’s Andre?”

Ashley: Oh man, that’s a good one. I second that! No one can say “Red Lobster” like “Tim”.

Which designers intrigue you on the new season?

Ashley: It’s hard to narrow it down at this point, they’re all such characters! I’m interested in the woman from Ohio and the guy from Atlanta, just because they seem to have such niche styles. I also am intrigued by the architect since she seems to have a flair for the dramatic.

Laura: My favorites are Robert Best, the Barbie clothing designer because he’s talented and funny, and I also am curious so see what Kayne, the prom and pagent dress designer will do for the challenges that don’t involve sparkle.

What was your favorite garment in the recent episode? Least favorite?

Ashley: I l.o.v.e.d. the coffee filter dress! Maybe it was too simple of a shape for the judges or something, but I thought it was the perfect example of beauty and innovation. My least favorite was Vincent’s hideous gray shift with the crazy basket hat. It was ill-fitting and, like Nina, all I could look at was that hat! I did love that he told the judges it was an afterthought though, after all the footage was shown of him obsessing over the “hat”. Hilarious.

Laura: I agree, the coffee filter dress was sadly overlooked by the judges. I liked Uli (the German’s) white halter dress with citrus green draped beads, and Robert Best’s built in jewelry with red bow dress. I thought that the judges over-rated the winning navy blue dress. The challenge was about innovation, so using a bedsheet to make a dress was not as creative as so many of the other garments. Plus, that guy is so high on himself that he gets on my nerves.

Do you have a favorite moment from the episode?

Ashley: Other than every minute of Tim Gunn airtime? The group coming back to their ravaged apartment.

Laura: I loved the Road to Runway special that showed all of the crazy wanna-be designers, as well as the old footage of favorites from other seasons. (I still love Jay McCarroll.)

Tell us what you think!
Post your own comments here. We want to know who you love, and who you love to hate!

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Orange Peel Enamel

Jenny from Orange Peel Enamel carefully crafts each of these disk pendants in her Ballard studio. She layers powdered glass onto copper, and then fires each piece in a kiln. Each pendant has sterling findings and a coated stainless cable.

We're excited to carry Jenny's lovely line in our store - she just dropped off the first batch over the weekend. Priced at $36, these little works of art will make beautiful gifts, or treats for yourself!

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Woodland Park Zoo

Each summer we make photo bag for the Woodland Park Zoo to auction off at their annual summer extravaganza. This year Ashley used a zoo image of two mystery animals (does anyone know what these guys are?) complemented by rust microsuede with glossy black trim.

Monday, July 03, 2006

The Chocolate House

I grew up a few blocks from this amazing candy shop in Rochester. They've been in business since 1946, making the candy upstairs, and selling it on the first floor. They don't have a website, or sell to other stores. Instead, they have become a neighborhood institution.

My mother sends us Stever's candy for the major holidays - white paper boxes filled with cocoa coated almonds, cinnamon and dark chocolate patties, and orange chocolate meltaways. When I visit my hometown, I always make a pilgrimage to Stever's. The scent of melted chocolate is impossible to resist.