Sunday, January 31, 2010

Why Custom?

I just finished these four custom projects, and each had a different "catch" to it....
Top left: This person liked one I had previously done, but wanted to make sure it had pockets and a hood so that she can wear it on chilly beach walks! I love thinking of my creation walking on the seaside!
Top Right: This one was for a fellow thrift store prowler and sewer. She, however, didn't want to tackle the coat herelf. She did the shopping, and sent me a box of sweaters to work with. That was a very different process for me, but it was a very fun - and successful - project.
Bottom Left: Ms, Diva wanted this one!! "Just give me color and go for it" was all she asked! She will be strutting through mid America like no one else in her town!
Bottom Right: This one was for someone having a hard time finding "fun" clothes in her size.

Today a customer who I have worked with previously asked if I could work with her "ugly Christmas Sweaters"!!! It seems her family has an annual event, and she wants to have the Ultimate Xmas Sweater Coat made from the "ugly" sweaters she has collected. I am ecstatic. I have though of this so many times as I see those sweaters on the racks... This should be fun!!!

So there are as many reasons for doing a custom sweater as there are people out there... Can I help you with one?


This is a picture of a wonderfully positive and fantastic woman. Her name is Karen, and she is a customer and a cancer survivor. At age 48 she had been through all colo/rectal cancer can throw at you - and she is now cancer free. She recently purchased this sweater while updating her wardrobe to accomodate some new bulges and equipment that are a result of her treatments and a new permanent part of her life..

Please check out her blog when you need to understand what courage and hope are.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Field Trip to Chicagoland

My buddy and I headed off bright and early this AM to Evanston (just north of downtown Chicago) to visit Vogue Fabrics.

Rooms full of fabric (on sale) awaited us; rows of taffeta, bolts of wool, scads of cottons and home dec fabric by the roomful!

Such fun. This pic is my friend hauling the roll of fabric I bought to make the bags for my garments when I ship them to customers.

The day also included a great greasy burger at the Chitown diner next to the store and a quick stop at a Salvation Army - can't pass one of them up!!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Long ago in a galaxy far away...

It is finally on the stands! Last summer, I submitted some cuffs to Stampington Publishers - for use in their publications. Today I received the Feb/Mar/Apr issue of Altered Couture and there on page 110 are mycuffs!

When I submitted these, I had not yet opened my Etsy shop, and really hadn't any idea what I would be doing in the future. They had just issued a challenge to design some cuffs, I had time, and I like a challenge, so I made these (and a couple of others) and submitted them.

It was in their pages that I saw Etsy as a venue for several of their contributors, and so started thinking about it as a selling venue... (and cuffs as a product!) The rest, as they say, is history.

It seems like a lifetime ago that I submitted these, but the thrill of seeing them on the page is wonderful. Thanks Stampington!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Cleaning Done, Modem Down, Goat Cheese Delicious!

I am sitting here at the Sow's Ear  writing today. This is one of those comfort places that we find sometimes. A place of kindred spirits, good coffee, mounds of yarn and wonderful music. (And today; fresh goat cheese!!)
(Dogdazzle, Madbear, Aprons, Pinque and everyone else... wish you could all come and have a cup of coffe with me!!)
It seems my modem died last night, and I am waiting for a new one. Much like how you flip switches even when the electricity is out, I kept going to my computer to check things out on-line even though I knew I wasn't connected. What a great excuse to come here!

I finally finished the cleaning of the studio yesterday, and gave it a trial run this morning. WONDERFUL. Before the studio had just sort of morphed from being a quilting/sewing place into my sweater studio. I finally made it through the quilting fabrics, and other items that haven't been touched since that fateful day last July when I opened jill2day. I sorted, stashed, packed, and donated until I have the dedicated working area I need now.

My three "ladies" (sm, md and lg dress forms) are in the corner ready for work or display, the sleeves are all neatly arranged on one set of shelves, while sweater bodies are classified by color on another set. Large dust/odor/insect proof tubs are all set to hold the items that are listed on-line, but waiting for new homes. And of course, NPR is all sety on the radio behind me!

I just put a "Sneak Peek" of two sweaters on my FB fan page. Finished them up this AM and will post them tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Do you see what I see?

Q: What colors do you like... ?
A: I like red, with blue and some green, then some pink for accent, oh, but that might be too much, so how about blacks and greys... ya, I really like neutrals... but make it really bright!

I taught color for a couple of years, and I really wish the Munsell system was taught in school with the same priority as multiplication tables! It would make talking about color so much easier. The love of color is so personal and describing it is so subjective. I can remember, as a kid, I used to wonder if what I saw as red was the same thing that everybody else saw as red...

Fast forward now to my jill2day custom orders customers. I am the artist; it is my job to understand color. Customers are the patrons; it is their job to thoroughly love what I make them. So to make sure we are both doing our jobs we need to commmunicate about color preferences. I have developed a process of visually communicating that seems to work. Many of my customers just either see a previously done sweater they like, or they pretty much know what they want, some just leave it up to me (a scarey thought!). But if a customer wants some idea of what I will be using, or just wants to get more involved in the process (okay by me!) I send them "color ways" like the ones shown here.

These do not assure that we are still having the same expectations, because because proportion has so much to do with the final result, but it gets us close!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

My Clown Car!

Yesterday I had to take my son back to college (sniff), but the good news is that on the way home I could stop at several thrift stores along the 180 mile trip home. By the time I drove into the garage, the back of my VW beetle was pretty much filled.

It was also very handy to have all this cushion available, bcause on the way home I had to stop and take a power nap at a rest stop, and I had plenty of pillow material!!

Last week I had organized my stash and taken inventory of what I needed. There was a distinct lack of color in my stash, so that was my target yesterday. Found some great items. This next week will be a production frenzy!! I have several custom items waiting for fruition, and my shop needs some new items. Can't wait to get started.

Here is my car filled with sweaters - not clowns, and me sorting out my stash - I thought I ought to post a picture of the unusual neat and tidiness of the studio!!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Memorial Sweaters...and ramblings

I previously posted about the memorial sweaters I made for my customer. She just sent me these pictures of  her wearing one of the sweaters and one of the scarves. She said I could share them with you. It is so fun to actually see one of my garments on one of my customers! That is one of the very few disadvantages of selling on-line. Rarely do you get to see the customer wear, or react to, your product.

That was one of the really nice things about going to the OOAK show in Chicago last December. I had a blast watching people try on, react to and comment on my garments. (watching them purchase was also fun!) It is where I really got to "field test" my designs over a wide range of sizes of people! I was so pleased to see how they really did span several sizes, and were so flattering for almost everyone. That is something I have work hard to achieve, and the resonse was so positive.

Today I cut up about 100 recycled sweaters into useable pieces and then stacked them by color on my shelves. They look so pretty and just are begging to be made into lovely things. Now comes the fun part; holding "auditions" to see which ones will play which roles in my next round of productions. Then bundling each set of "cast members" together for the final production.

I also bought an petite dress form and ordered a full figure one, so I will have a complete set of "ladies" to work with while sewing my re-sweaters. Plus, it will be like having my own audience in my studio! This will be so much easier than padding my existing dress form up and down as needed, and measuring her about a million times!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Lots of Thanks and a Lame Post!

I have had a bunch of new “followers” recently… THANKS! I really appreciate the interest and support for my work and items!

For those of you who are new, here are a couple of past post you might want to check out . (You know how when Oprah runs out of topics she does a really lame “best of” or “where are they now” or “year in review” show - consider this post one of those!)
  -  The first post I wrote about my process
  -  One of my favorite feedback quotes
  -  Some reconstructed garments from the streets of Europe
  -  My visit with the father of the sewing machine

Maybe I will have something better to say tomorrow! But my appreciation of your visit couldn't be greater! (the photo is a completely unrelated picture of my dog... when in doubt, show a dog or baby)

Sunday, January 17, 2010

The Camps of Color

Okay, okay I get it .... today you want color!! I posted two new reconstructed sweaters today - both very colorful and both sold within minutes. I had told my husband this AM that these would either go right away or be in the shop for weeks.

There was a post in the Etsy threads last week about color and which colors sell best. It was agreed that that differ with the product category, but I have seen a trend with my customers.

My customers tend to fall into one of two camps. The first camp is the neutrals. They love the textures and even like patterns, but feel best when surrounded by neutrals of brown, blacks, and grays. They may branch out into an monotone color now and then - all blue, all green, etc, but feel much safer with the textured, classic neutrals.The other camp is ready for color in all its glory. They want bright and aren't afraid to wear it. Bring it on!

The interesting thing to me is that there doesn't seem to be any correlating trend of age or size asscoiated with either camp. All types in both camps. And all I have to say is ...GREAT. One of the reasons the two colorful ones were posted today was that I had just finished a wave of neutrals, and really needed a change of pace. So the variety of demands also means I get to work on a lot of different looks .

I love working on these one-of-a-kind items! No two will ever be alike, because I rarely can find the same sweaters twice. This keeps every item unique and fresh, and assures that sometimes that rare recycled sweater you though would never amount to anything, becomes the star of the day!

shown at left: Spectrum2day and Tweedy2day, both sold very quickly - one to each "color camp"!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

AM Hoar Frost Today!

Woke to a beautiful landscape this morning! Hoar frost covers everything in our area with a delicate lacy covering of white. Just had to share the beauty with you!

Friday, January 15, 2010

The photography challenge

In my previous life I art directed photos shoots at some mega studios; multiple professional shooters, strobes, light meters, studios, prop assistants, construction crews, textile stylists, professional retouching, etc etc. Well now it is just me and Sasha, my mannequin, a corner of the loft, a window, a ten year old digital point-and-shoot camera and the world’s cheapest and least sturdy tripod shooting my reconstructed sweaters for my etsy site. And that is just fine with me! Because it is about creativity as much as it is equipment!

We (Sasha and I) wait for a semi cloudy day and late morning or early afternoon to shoot. That way the light is diffused and coming from the window as well as the skylights on the other side of the room. Right now there is a snow covered roof right outside the window that helps diffuse the light nicely. A giant piece of white cardboard or a large piece of mirrored plexi serve to throw a little extra light on the subject if needed. (First I set the timer, and then run to hold the cardboard to reflect the light on just the right spot).

Sasha patiently endures having her limbs unattached and reattached as we slip sweaters on and off. She pivots and pirouettes to show off the garments in the best light… and never complains! She is a lot skinner that me and most of my customers, sp some of the shots move over to the “blue lady” - my dress form, so that the garments can be seen on a variety of sized frames.

About half way through the process, my camera battery (remember it is 10 years old) will run out, but that makes for a great time to go check my convos and emails while the battery recharges.
Then it is time to download the photos, use my Gimp freeware on my PC laptop (and I used to swear I would never use anything but Mac and Photoshop) and adjust the color, crop, and resize the photos. Okay, so the photos aren’t always perfect - after all my background is directing not shooting - but hopefully they give my customers all the visual information they need and help set the tone for my shop.

My photography has evolved over the last few months and I am sure will continue to do so. Who knows - maybe I will break down and get a new camera, tripod and a light or two… but in the meantime Sasha and I am enjoying the challenge!

At left are examples of two looks at the same product (Moss2day) - one very "informational" and one more "inspirational".  I am working hard to find the right mix of the two!!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

A Successful Custom Project!

Finished this sweater coat a couple days ago for a woman in California. She was so great to work with! Gave me a great set of complete measurements, and her color preferences and ideas about the style she wanted.

She is a tall woman who can pull off a lot of style, so this was a very twirly coat that should serve her well through many seasons in CA. She got the coat today and emailed me the following;

"I just received my coat of many colors and I LOVE it!!!! It is perfect and feels good on. Thank you so much for doing such a beautiful job. I have a friend here this morning...she is so impressed with your work and loves it also. Thank you again for such a perfect and pleasant transaction."
 Boy that was fun! I love doing these projects!

And whats under the hood?

What do Sylvester Stylone, UK shoplifters, and yoga enthusiasts all have in common? Love for the hoodie!  

Okay... I did the Google on sleeves, and now, here it goes for hoods! I found the article "Are you a hoodie?" and while it doesn't go back in history as far as the sleeve article, it is nonetheless interesting!

Here is my favorite line from the story:
"[Hoodies] are often associated with teenage menace, who engage in cumbersome activities; and want to remain unidentified under the hood. "

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

To wool or not to wool, that is the question.

I have had a few customers ask me if there is wool in my jill2day reconstructed sweaters. While a few of them are all wool, I have usually made sure that there is at least some wool in all my scarves and sweaters. I assumed that that would be better for the quality, the warmth, and that it would be the preference of most.

Well, it seems that many of you are 1) allergic to wool, 2) too warm to wear wool, 3) are ardent vegans and don't want any animal products, or 4) just don't like wool.  I am happy to hear this! It is far easier to find other fibers and the range of colors is usually greater in cottons and man made fibers.

It is hard to assure you, my customers, of what exactly the content of every fabric is. Because I use recycled garments and sometimes the tags are removed or unreadable. I keep all the scraps, and it may be months between using the first and the final pieces of a garment. But, that is why I wash and dry all of my garments after completeing them and before selling them. This assures me that WHATEVER the fabric content it will make it through the 'gentle' cycle in both the washer and dryer.

While I will continue to use wool - exclusively in some designs, and in combo in other designs - I will also try to make sure I am also offering items that have little or no wool in them and make that known when I post the items. Of course you can always contact me regarding a specific item.  I will be posting three scarves in the next couple of days (CELERY, BRAZIL, and GLACIER) none of which contain any wool. Watch for them if that is your preference!

Monday, January 11, 2010

A Brief History of Sleeves

Yesterday when I was asking about sleeves, it got me to thinking about sleeves and the eveolution of them. Did a quick search and sure enough there it was... "The History of Sleeves"
Here is a quick timeline of some of the hightlights of sleeves through [western] history. I found it interesting - but then again, I find a lot of things interesting:
- Early Medieval sleeve designs were generally cut in one with the garment, not set-in.
- The early Middle Ages sleeves were the dolman or batwing sleeve and they have reappeared at intervals since.
- The late 1400s displayed hanging sleeves that fell as long tubes nearly to ground level.
- Renaissance introduced an infinite variety of sleeves which were banded at intervals creating puffs which in turn were padded and slashed to display linings and undergarments.
- In the 1590s sleeves were padded all the way down but diminishing towards the wrist.
- By 1635 ladies' sleeves were three-quarter length, very full but unpadded, and were finished by elegant ruffles or lace cuffs.
- From the late 1600s onwards men's coats were tailored with fitting Set-in Sleeves which widened towards the large cuffs.
-In the 1700s sleeves for ladies' gowns were generally fitting to the elbow where they were finished by a deep cuff or, later, as pagoda or funnel sleeves.
- In the 1830s the puff sleeves became much larger developing into the leg-of-mutton sleeve, a style which was reintroduced in the 1890s.
- The raglan sleeve, with its sloping shoulder line, was worn for coats and suits from the mid 1800s century
- Fashionable in the twentieth century were the cap sleeve, just covering the shoulder and the bracelet length sleeve extending to about two inches above the wrist bone.

Check out the site if you want to know more (than you ever knew you wanted to) about sleeves!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Hood and Sleeve Preferences - got any?

Hoods. I have had many people ask for these on their sweaters. I, personally, never use a hood - okay one exception; the heavy duty winter Lands End coat I use to take the dog out, etc has a hood - mostly because I don't have enough energy to look for a hat every morning. It is hard enough to find the gloves and mittens that Gina (said dog) spreads throughout the house during the course of the day.

...but I digress. My question for those of you who want hoods on sweaters; fashion or function? This is important to know, because I would design them differently for each answer. For fashion, I would not be as concerned about the fit on the head as the drape around the neck when it is down. For function, the opposite would be try - which leads me to a second question... loose (as seen here on Hoody2day) or snug fit?

Sleeves. Cuffs or 3/4 is the question here. Any preference? I, as a designer, like the 3/4 length (as shown here on Melbourne2day) because it can serve the gamut of sizes... for a petite it ends up full length, for some bracelet length and for the taller person a true 3/4. Cuffs are a little more length specific. I guess it might also differ with style. For a shrug or cropped sweater that is often worn over another garment, perhaps the 3/4 offers the best comfort and certainly the best proportion. But a coat may need the 'finish' of cuffs.
Any comments? I am very interested in your preferences, but even more in the reasons for the preference! Thanks for being my focus group today.

Friday, January 8, 2010

SNEAK PREVIEWS only on Facebook fan page!

I started a Facebook fan page, and have been trying to figure out when to use it and when to post here on the blog. I have decided on the following;

This blog will be for permanent info (i.e. yesterday's post about ordering custom items) and for musings and larger long-range topics, full stories about projects, etc.

My facebook fan page (click on this link or search for jill2day in Facebook) will be for limited time offers, quick notes, and sneak previews. I am trying to list at least one new item everyday - at least week days - and I will post them to my fan page 24 hours before they go on Etsy. That will give my "fans" a heads up on what will be available and what time it will be posted.

I hope some of you will become fans - selfishly - because when I get to 25 I can rename my fan page with a custom URL! BUT I also understand if you just have too many sites to watch, so you can just see the fan postings in the column on the right in this blog----->

Hopefully this will keep me (and you) from info overload! Now about tweeting.... That will have to wait!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Custom "ReSweatering"

Don't you just love that word - ReSweatering! I can't take credit for it, Ann from The Lavendar Tree used in when talking about my work in her blog. I think it is so much better and exact for my items than recycled, repurposed, etc, but unfortunately the search engines probably wouldn't recognize it! (and there, boys and girls, is how creativity can get suck out of us by technology!!)

Anyway... back to topic. I have been doing a lot of custom work lately and it is wonderful the diverse reasons for the requests people have;
- memorials (see earlier post)
- sizing (both ends of the spectrum)
- content (all wool vs non-wool)
- color (very subtle to happy brights)
- style (did a cape for someone)
So here are the instructions for how to converse about a custom order (just click on them to enlarge). It is easy and it is fun, and most of the time the price is equivalent to similar listed items. Hope we can work together sometime!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Etsy Article from December

In December, Etsy did an article on my recycled garments and how I came to be on Etsy.  It was published as part of their series "Quit Your Day Job". The idea is to showcase the artist, their studio and process. It was very nice to have the exposure, and to get the many kind comments and convos of support. If you want to read it here is the link: QYDJ:Jill2day

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Seasonally affected disorder returns

Some of you might remember my earlier post about fall colors. Well it has happened again. I went outside to take some photos of my newest recycled sweater scarves for my Etsy site, and became instantly aware of how the changing colors outside had once again appeared in my work.

Here are three examples of the work and, in the background, the inspiration...

Who says winter is just white! I love the way the colors change with the light - or lack thereof. I love the low light in the morning and then again in the evening. The everchanging purple/blue/grey shadows; and the snow that changes from the warm pinks and yellows (no not that kind of yellow snow!) to the purest and coolest of whites.
Gina, my dog,  and I can't walk on the bike trails during the winter... the snowmobiles turn it into a racetrack... so we hike in the woods around the house. You can't get in there during the summer because of all the underbrush, but now it is really nice in there. We can even see our resident hawk's nest at this time of year!

So, yes there are times I envy you in your Aussie summer or the "coldness" of southern CA at this time of year, but it sure is beautiful here too!

Memorial Sweater Project

I just finish the most unique project. One of my loyal customers lost her Mother earlier this year. My customer contacted me and asked if I could make a new sweater from her Mother's sweaters. Well, we ended up making three sweaters and several scarves - for her, her sister and her daughter. It was the most wonderful experience and appreciated tribute. I was so happy to be a part of it.

The project started me thinking. As many of you know, I lost both my mother and my mother-in-law this past year. My good friend also lost her mother. My sister lost her elderly woman friend. I guess we are at that age that we must pick up the mantle of the "elder stateswomen" of the world and continue the work they all began. I am comfortable with that. I look at the women "of a certain age" that I know well; that I meet through Etsy; my customers; and just through daily life. We are a good lot. We have grown from the good-girls of the 50s and early 60s through the hippie/rebel free-thinkers of the late sixties, many of us have made it through childrearing and one or more husbands. Some of us did it on our own. We have kicked ass in the work place and in sports. We have been open to change and technology. We have bridged our mothers and our daughters. We have tried a lot, saved some, discarded much and lived to see another day. It feels good to be here now. We earned it. We have grabbed human-ness, but we have not let go of our core female-ness - what ever form that may take for each of us.

So to all of you women out there; young, old, mothers, daughters, lovers, wives, executives, crafters, we have a lineage, we have a heritage, and sooner or later, each of us becomes the lineage and the heritage. Cherish the journey, remember the pathmakers.

Monday, January 4, 2010

NEW YEAR, New "employee" and new listings...

Just listed three new sweaters - all inspired by the arctic temps we have been having here in Wisconsin. Helsinki2day is a wonderful combo of heathers and patters of the most neutral colors. It is mostly wool and very warm - with or without a turtleneck under it! Melbourne2day has bright blue and green (and a smidge of purple) surrounded by gray. This sweater is perfect for over jeans and just being comfortable! The third sweater, BlacknTan2day, is a smart combo of tan, black and brown and looks so good over the pencil skirt or the trouser! Perfect for the office, it is mostly cotton, so it is warm but very comfortable.

All three are being modeled by my new "employee" (as of yet unnamed - any suggestions?)