Two sisters, two coasts, one blog

Fast & Slow


So, it’s been two weeks and I have done my best to document my daily creative & business activities. I won’t say that I took pictures everyday, but I did most days and so I can give you a somewhat choppy version of events.

The Tuesday following my last post, Kirk left to visit friends and family in California. In fact, he stayed with West Twin for much of the time! He called with regular reports of the goings on in the house hold; the latest games he had played with Lincoln, conversations about skinny jeans with Maceo, held the phone up so I could hear Royal chatting away. This may be the most startling evidence of how much time has passed since I left, when Royal was still a silent and circumspect baby.

Kirk’s absence meant that I was on my own, but also that I could throw out all our regular routines and stay in the studio for long stretches. And with the First Friday LoPop Shop event coming up, I needed the extra hours. First thing on the agenda was finishing up the Market bags that I started last week:

I stitch the facing to the bag along the marked line, then cut out the center and flip it over and stitch the facing to the body of the bag along the top and bottom of the facing.

I made up two more of my slate grey Kiwi skirts, to replace the two that I’ve sold, and more rosettes and daisies:

I stopped by the library mid-week to get my library card. I had forgotten how much I love being surrounded by all those books, wandering through the shelves. As a kid I spent practically the whole summer at the library (except when posing as my sister on the beach or watching Jaws 3 in 3-d – that was our first solo movie experience as I remember it West Twin). Don’t know if I’ll be able to get through these in four weeks! :

And I came up with a new scarf design I’m calling Twist. The first two were in the wild print that I made the sample of the Freda dress out of, the second two were made from a beautiful soft grey-purple fabric with a tiny pattern of scored flowers in it. I bought this fabric when I was in NYC, my vendor said it was 100% cotton, but I would eat my left leg if that’s true. It’s quite obviously silk, though it may be blended with cotton. I’m going to be keeping one of these for myself:

On Friday the tee-shirt blanks I had ordered for my fall contribution to Twentyfive arrived, and I tucked them into the closet to deal with next week. Back to getting ready for LoPop! I was sewing right up until I had to leave for the market, as usual….. I only had about a third of my inventory on hand, the balance is at a local store as part of their Carolina Designers Collection. So I asked my friend Bliss if she would loan me her spiral rack, figuring less product would look better on it that on my straight rack:

Test run in the studio

The real deal, Friday night

I think the spiral rack actually worked better, more visually interesting. The event went well, I sold a few things and got to talk about people about my process and the clothes, which is always fun. I think that’s one thing I enjoy about retailing my clothes after doing wholesale for so many years; the direct contact with the customers. It’s so rewarding when someone tries a piece on and you see their eyes light up!

Monday I settled down to rework the Freda dress. This incarnation was almost where I wanted it to be, but I was worried that it would be a little tight in the bust for most women. This is something that is tricky when you design, the shape and fit need to work for many different body types. I made myself a second cup of coffee and settled down:

Changing the shape of the bodice.

New bodice pattern piece

Even though the pattern is a size medium, I decided to make the sample a large so I could try it on myself. I did what I call ‘grading on the fly’, which just means I grade the pattern up from a medium to a large on the fabric, rather than drafting new pattern pieces on paper. I’m planning on sending this pattern out to a company to be digitally graded, so I just want to get an approximation. After trying it on, I decide to make a few more changes, and then wore the dress for two days straight….guess that’s a good sign.

Cutting out a new sample

A brief interruption. I LOVE my Juki. Now, I know most of you are probably intimidated to try an industrial machine, I know I was. But if you are going to be doing any production sewing, you won’t regret making the leap. Your partner will curse you every time you move, but you won’t regret it. Industrial machines do one thing only (this is a straight stitch) and they do it really, really well. My sewing improved 100% when I got mine. The stitches are strong and tight, the machine will ‘grab’ the fabric and help draw it through, and it goes super fast! And they last forever; you can get a used straight stitch in perfect condition for less than a brand new home sewing machine.

Completed sample, mach 3

With multiple distractions, some important, some not, this redesign took all week. I had been hoping to draft a new blouse pattern and print the Twentyfive tees as well, but here we are on Sunday, no closer to that goal. It can be frustrating, the flurry of activity followed by a week where I get these little quick snatches of studio time. But that seems to be the rhythm of it: fast and slow, fast and slow.

Next time I am planning on having a tutorial for how to make those rosettes. And of course, I’ll be putting the sample Freda dress up on etsy as soon as I can track my model down….

14 Responses to “Fast & Slow”

  1. Freda Powers

    Is this truly named for me, or maybe for the Freda doll your mother made with the head of my first doll? I never got to see it but I tried to describe the blue lace-trimmed dress my mother made for her that matched my “best dress”. Looking forward to seeing it!

    Much happiness for your coming visit with Ross & Michela, and I will wave to you when I am east of Cape Hatteras! G’ma

    • Freda Powers

      The dress is beautiful… the material design. Wish I could wear a dress but my legs are ugly and misshapen.Camouflage is needed in old age! Love, G’ma

    • oami powers

      Of course! I was thinking of that dress you gave me years ago, black, with gold embroidered belt. When I pulled it out yesterday, it turns out what I came up with is totally different! But that’s kind of how the design process goes….glad you like it in any case.

  2. Norman Ross Powers

    Such good stuff you’re making. You showed 3 designs here I’d not seen before. There must be others! I look foreward to checking out the whole East Twin line up close and personal when we arrive.

  3. Meg

    East Twin,
    Love the dress.. Call (email) me cause I was suppose to come and try on the skirt for you to make for me.

  4. Jacquelyn Marie

    Your design process is so interesting (and time-consuming I know). Thanks for sharing.

  5. Jennifer

    Wow, Oami,
    you have been busy!
    Digital grading? Sounds intriguing (the Juki, too).
    Love, love the Freda dress…and that pillow still…
    Need to talk with you about Photoshop and the digital printing process.
    Also, you Won the giveaway on my blog!

  6. Justine

    I love getting a peek into other artists processes. It gives me some comfort to know that while I plug away here in my little kitchen/office, working on my images, talking to and meeting with clients that others are out there in there spaces doing the same and drinking an intensely strong cup o joe to keep on doing what we love.
    hats off to you dear friend!

  7. ursula

    love that dress ! the grey version shows all the detail i couldn’t see in the print, fantastic.

  8. ruchapowers

    How do you make this all look so easy? If I were alone for a week, I’d spend it watching reality-tv, but you are so motivated and creative. damn. Spotted that Joan Didion title and it made me laugh. I’m not sure what that book is about, but I think she’s from Sacramento! Isn’t she the one that describes the curse of Sacramento that those who were born here at the conflux of two great rivers can never truly leave? yikes. Let me know if it’s a good read. Also, I’m SUPER excited for the rosette tutorial next time…geeky me!!xoxo

  9. fran

    Hey Sweetie,
    Again I enjoyed this peek into your new world you are working hard to create. It is interesting and I’m excited for you. Your creations are lovely. The swirly design on the newest market bag is gorgeous. How do you get it all done? Looking forward to seeing it all in person soon.


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