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Dec 20, 2015

Sewing For Money + Flea Market Finds



Behold my latest shirt, made for a male client.  I love this plaid fabric, which my client actually purchased himself and brought to me, unusual in my business thus far.

Occasionally I am asked what it is like to sew for paying customers.  It is a joy, most of the time.  Knowing that I am being compensated for my work gives me a great sense of pride but also responsibility.  The shirt will have a life of its own, one that I can't control.  I'm always trying to improve my techniques and I like to think every shirt I make is better than the previous one.  Luckily I enjoy the process and my own personal sewing improves as a side benefit.

Would you believe I make nearly all my shirts on a vintage Elna Grasshopper from the early 1950's?  It's true.  (I generally do my buttonholes on an equally old Singer 15-91.)



More photos of the plaid shirt, which, aside from sleeve plackets and outside yoke cut on the bias, is without any additional decoration like contrast cuffs or collar.  The fabric makes a strong enough statement by itself.  Truly elegant, especially on my ginger-complected client.







In other news, my friend Johanna joined me for a trip to the Chelsea flea market this morning and we saw a lot of fabric and sewing-related stuff.  It seems one of the vendors bought out the contents of a Garment Center sample maker.  Having just completed a patternmaking class, this made me rather sad.

Johanna really rocked this orange and fuscia color combo today: the scarf was a gift from me!

Organza (probably poly but hard to tell).  Don't know whose hand that is.

Kitschy barkcloth

Beautiful charcoal linen print.

Naomoto gravity-feed iron.





Johanna and I decided to split a bolt of Marimekko cotton fabric designed by Fujiwo Ishimoto called "Lainehtiva."   It's a panel print and we bought roughly 10 panels (more than 10 yards).  This photo hardly does it justice, but you'll be seeing more of it in the future.



Another vendor was selling a old Singer treadle.  Very, very rusty, unfortunately.



One of the most amazing things we saw -- and I was able to photograph it just moments before it was sold -- was a vintage Marlene Dietrich mannequin, in classic "Laziest Gal in Town" pose.  She was roughly 36" tall and astoundingly true to life, if in rather fragile condition.  I wonder what the buyer plans to do with it.  Those eyes!







In closing, we have a big holiday week ahead, with lots and lots of sewing on my plate.

No rest for the weary but I'll keep you updated.

Have a great day, everybody!


21 comments:

  1. You always find wonderful stuff at the flea market. I would have snagged the iron, the carpet directly behind the sewing machine, and all the menswear patterns.

    Dolls and mannequins reside in a dark, creepy land in my head along with clowns, wax figures, and leering carnies. Marlene is just a little too Funhouse for my house; I'm kind of glad she won't be gracing your blog pages.

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    1. Yep. My friend, who has four girls, longed for a little boy. She bought a 1950s boy mannequin and displayed him proudly in her living room, changing his clothes to suit the season. Her daughters hated him (dubbed him Little Creepy Boy) and took every opportunity to hide him or transport him to the trash. Many and many is the time I watched my friend dive into a smelly dumpster to retrieve Little Creepy Boy. I may or may not have colluded with the girls to send LCB to his final destination in a county landfill.

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    2. Yikes! That's quite a story. *cue the creepy, out-of-tune music box* I hope LCB's name wasn't Chucky. I start to anthropomorphize and wonder whether I'll wind up with the business end of a hammer lodged into my skull while I'm sleeping.

      I didn't mean to disrespect Marlene. She looks harmless enough and it looks like she's already taken it on the chin, so to speak.

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  2. Sorry, I meant to add that the shirt looks great! Your high standards have become so expected that I forgot to mention them. Wonderful fabric, expertly crafted.

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  3. Marlene used to live in a shop down on Christopher Street - I think they mostly sold antique jewelry. I wonder how she ended up at the flea market (probably a metaphor theree for all our fates)...

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    1. Very interesting! Yes, most of my possessions will probably end up at a flea market someday...

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  4. What a beautiful shirt. The pattern matching is amazing, especially on the yoke. Your client must be very happy. I love Marlene, would have snapped her up too. Xx

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  5. Oooh that barkcloth is delicious! I was just reminiscing wistfully on facebook about the demise of the local atelier type services in my city - the pleaters, the millinery suppliers, so many great services to a once thriving clothing industry alas now lost.

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  6. It's always great to be paid fairly for your hard work so that makes sewing for a clientele a pleasure. I've avoided it like the plague because no one here is willing to pay you for the time and effort involved. Your plaid and pattern matching is right on! That Marlene doll is quite a conversation piece!

    That treadle looks like it's in bad shape..... I hope someone devoted to restoration buys it otherwise the machine will wind up on the garbage heap and the cabinet will be made into a vanity or bathroom sink! In addition thanks for your kind comment..... I'm just getting used to Instagram!

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    1. A ginger, Johanna, and January just around the corner - it's the trifecta of all good things coming your way.

      That panel print reeks of a multi-gored show stopper for one Cathy Lane (remember her?). She could us a day dress with crinoline, to reclaim the city, and maybe even venture to a coffee klatch with Brini Maxwell.

      As for you scorp, I may have to join Instagram just to lend a watchful eye, and provide some complimentary commentary your direction.

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    2. You do that Test dearest.....I need someone to keep me on my toes! LOL!!

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    3. Looks like an old Singer model 27. It's really not that bad in the picture. A couple hours and some sewing machine oil would get her to shine again. A lot of the brown looks like dried on sewing machine oil from here. I hope it ends up with someone who wants to keep it as a sewing machine.
      Rodney

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  7. Peter, if I may. What makes you prefer the Grasshopper to your Model 15 or Model 201 or your Kenmore or even your Featherweight?

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    1. I love the knee lever that controls the power for one thing. Also, nearly silent motor. And I just like the feel of it.

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  8. The plaid shirt looks great. Looking forward to all your makes

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  9. I would have snagged that linen fabric, but then it isn't my color. I do love all your shirts. Your skill really shows. My husband should be so lucky, but I sew kids' clothes, not men's.

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  10. That old Singer Treadle machine would be very popular up here in the bush Alaska where they often do not have power all time.

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  11. Your sewing is just beautiful, I don't know how you do it. What's missing between the DNA of you and I that I can't seem to manage it LOL. I love your posts but just quietly, I do miss your cousin Cathy x

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  12. Beautiful work on that shirt, Peter. Does the bias cut yolk need any stabilization? Is it somehow more comfortable to wear? Or does it not make much of a difference other than being so beautiful?

    And I too have been missing Cathy. ๐Ÿ˜Š๐Ÿ˜Š

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    1. Thanks, Mary. The inside yoke is cut on grain, which stabilizes the outer yoke. The bias cut yolk is just for show, not for comfort. Have a great holiday!

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  13. Oh ok. Inside yoke on grain. Makes perfect sense, and I've always wondered about that. Thanks!

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