Self-posing my clothing wasn't necessarily what I had in mind when I started Ready Ruthie. But I do it for several reasons:
1) All of my samples of my clothes are made exactly to my size, which allows me to "test drive" the clothing as much as possible. Thus, I don't need to create a new size for a different model.
2) Since I work full time (sob, weep) I need to be able to photograph my clothing basically whenever I can find the time, in order to get my listings up. This enables me to do so.
3) I don't know any models that have the look I want. I know plenty of beautiful people, but I've never really found anyone that would work perfectly for a model.
However, taking self-photos is more difficult than you'd think. I recently read this article
on etsy, by the woman who runs Minxshop
. I found it validating to read that she takes at LEAST 200 shots just to get the handful of shots she'll use for her listings. She is another seller who models her own clothes. She definitely looks way more badass than me, but that's ok.
I was inspired to start re-photographing some of my items to help make them look better. I think it helps that I've lost some of my beer weight (I've had a total of two drinks in three weeks--go me!) and grown my hair out, so I'm feeling more photogenic.
If you're a blogger or seller who often self-photographs for the purposes of showing off your work (or outfit), what helps you get good results?
This is just despicable. My last post was in January!?! And my last listing wasn't much more recent than that.
I do have some viable excuses...let's see...I work full time, don't forget about that. I also had to take ANOTHER graduate level course FOR my work (ick!) which took up a lot of home time. Oh, and I was in a play. And I've been obsessing about my garden and greenhouse plans.
Oh, what's this? It's a tiny violin that I just plucked from my pocket. Now I'm scraping up a mournful tune, boo-hoo-hoo, Beth has SOOOO much on her plate. SUCK IT UP, betch!
I am now really kicking myself for allowing so much time to go by without tending to my precious clothing venture. So, here do I slink back onto the scene with my head hung in shame and piles of fabric taunting me. But, better to come lumbering back and endure the shame than to sit there and let this go on any further.
One of my plans months ago was to do a quick survey to help me distinguish some characteristics about my target market. If you would be so kind, would you please fill out my survey? You do need to be a woman in order to do so. Sorry guys! Please enjoy a coupon for 10% off when you're done with it!
Miss Crayola Creepy
made a Facebook post just now asking readers to recall the first thing they EVER sewed...
This got me thinking back to age 5 when I had learned to use my Mom's sewing machine. I think the first thing I EVER sewed was meant to be what I would now call a "gun cozy"--a rectangle sewn all the way around, save one end, meant to fit over a small handgun. My father misunderstood, however, and fitted it over the end of a rifle. Well, maybe he didn't misunderstand...maybe he didn't think it looked too tough to have a piece of floral knit fabric sheathing an antique handgun (don't get me started on other handmade items I gave to my father that he made an admirable effort to actually use despite their lack of usefulness).
Then I got to thinking about other sewing projects. My Mom made a lot of my clothes and subscribed to one of those fabric clubs where you get swatches in the mail. This was when lycra started getting really popular with home sewers. She used to make me shiny spandex leggings. My conservative grandmother once grimaced and asked, "Why are you wearing tights?!?"
Anyway, I used to take the swatches when she was done and make sexy tight clothing for my Barbies and Trolls (you know all trolls need a tight stretch mini for those occasional nights out on the bog...)
I also made an ambitious messenger bag when I was about 8, complete with multiple compartments and little inside pockets. The only problem was that I made it with a cotton interlock knit so it sagged rather heavily when I tried to use it as a book bag!
Other projects as the years went on included a leopard print fleece robe, gothy quilted clutch with a hand screened Mike Ness patch attached, and a quilt with additional rock star screens, which I still have on my bed.
My Mom also assisted me in coordinating some seriously early 90's outfits replete with her handmade Hammer pants. I often paired these with my Keds that I embellished with puffy paint.
I am going to have to find some pictures!
Lately I've been trying to bust my cotton broadcloth/poplin (quilting cotton) stash by making "fit and flare" dresses with different variations on the collar/bodice.
I'm definitely loving this new western-inspired yoke and I will be using it again on other projects! Unfortunately this is the last of my black gingham, but I'm going to sell this ready to ship on my etsy page.
I'm so glad I perfected my sleeve pattern this summer--life is good with a decent sleeve sloper. Lately I've been doing sleeves with a gathered cap.
I am planning to do blouses and dresses for the spring in a variety of lightweight poplin and cotton lawn, so I made this blouse as a bit of a preview. I made it in a fineline cotton stretch twill. It's comfortable to wear but I'm just not that happy with the end product. I should not have used a stiffer fabric, and I should not have combined the petal sleeve with the piping at the bodice--one or the other! Feel free to argue this point with me if you disagree.
This is what it's like inside my head
I've been thinking a lot...about my thinking habits...which often aren't very effective. I've noticed that my mind tends to run at full speed. This can be pretty fun when it comes to creative ventures because I get a lot of great ideas and have a good time thinking about them. It's not so fun when it comes to executing those ideas, or just performing basic tasks of daily living. My boyfriend likes to remind me that, despite my graduate degree, I'm sometimes lacking common sense. I think what he really means (here I go...) is that sometimes my mind makes complicated matters out of things that should be simple.
I am not ashamed of the way I think, rather I am proud of it. But it would be like being proud of a hyperactive child---you have to give it limits and structure. Being a Cancer, INFP, and type 6 on the Enneagram (girl you KNOW I've taken all the personality tests out there!!!) structure and limits are my alleged enemies.
I was inspired to write this post because I think I'm finally getting to the point in my life of finding the balance between structure and the ever-rolling calliope that is my brain. Specifically in the form of exercise. So, a bit of background.
I have simultaneously strove for and shirked exercise all of my life. Thus its presence has waxed and waned, often prioritized only in the frantic moment when I notice I don't fit into my jeans anymore. But ultimately, I've hated it--it requires one to be in the moment, use gross motor skills, and suspend whimsical thought patterns. Yet, while most of my life I have been...I wouldn't go so far as to say skinny...but not-obese...and quickly approaching the age of 30 and so-soon-thereafter, 40--I'm inclined to pay more attention to my fitness and thus battling the inevitable acquiescence to gravity that is sure to come.
That kind of motivation NEVER sustains a regular exercise routine. Inevitably, after two workouts, I conclude, "I look fine" and stop for another six months. It's amazing how long I can coast off of two days of effort. I've known for a long time that, in order to sustain an exercise regimen, one needs to have a motivating factor related to an internal state, not a perception of external image. I can certainly look back and time and clearly organize my life history in terms of "happy" and "unhappy" depending on whether I was exercising regularly at the time. Even with that evidence, it's been hard to commit to a regular routine.
But lately, somehow, I have been able to exercise somewhat regularly. And I noticed something. During times that I'm not exercising, I snack listlessly, then retire to the couch where I watch TV and feel depressed. When I do exercise, I feel more mental clarity and accomplish more in terms of sewing--and don't feel rushed. Even on days that I did do a lot of couching, it feels better.
I begrudgingly considered this possibility: "Could it be that, not only do I benefit as much as anyone else from exercise, but due to my brain chemistry, benefit even more?!?" Ugh. Isn't there some kind of drug for this?
The 19 year old in me is tempted to quote Anne Sexton and say that, unfortunately, "old dwarf heart shakes her head," but this dwarf heart hasn't yet grown old, and I think it's worth it to challenge my sensibilities (or not so sensible sensibilities) if it means I could obtain better mental health, more sewing productivity and any other perks that come along with the various pleasant neuro-chemicals released during exercise.
If I may offer some advice:
1) Choose workouts that are fun and interesting--it's better to move moderately for 30 minutes, consistently, than to move vigorously for 45 minutes, ONCE.
2) As a counselor I am always reminding people--external motivation is OK, but internal motivation is best. If exercise offers clarity of mind and a good physical feeling, you'll keep doing it.
3) Figure out your style. If you do better when there's a clear plan, then by all means, chart it. However, if you're like me, a plan is a devious way to waste more time with charts and graphs when you should be working out. In that case, just try like hell to fit it in whenever you think you can tolerate it. Waiting for the "best laid plan" is a bullshit time waster!
A couple of weeks ago I made a simple tote for a Christmas donation. I was astonished at how productive I was—I made the bag in three hours. This got me thinking about how, when you’re really pressured, you can crank things out a lot faster than you thought!
I also enjoyed the change from clothing to accessories. It was nice to have a finished product so quickly with no fitting issues. I made the bag from scraps I had lying around, though you wouldn’t have known it.
So for another thrifty present I decided to make another bag as part of a gift basket for my Mom and her boyfriend. Again, I used fabric that I had lying around, which included a pair of blue striped carpenter pants that used to be my boyfriend’s, and a red wool plaid skirt cut on the bias that my Mom made over 40 years ago and which no longer fits either of us.
I’m definitely not aiming for the “upcycled” or “repurposed” niche anymore, but rather am trying to make creative use of what I’ve already got in my stash. I also find that when my resources are limited, I am more creative. When I have endless possibilities, I tend to get stuck.
The bag was simple and I love the combination of colors and textures. I’m looking forward to doing some more accessories with leftover fabric. They’re quick, less of an investment for customers, and present no fitting challenges whatsoever!!
The ultimate choice for the collar detail was....the cowl!!! I don't know if my childish illustration from the last post was clear or not, but this was what I had in mind for option #1.
While I agreed with Rochelle
that a peter pan collar is always a good choice, I felt like the built up collar might look cool with this design. I also agreed with Jenny
about the ruffly placket, but, mother knows best. Now, it's time to wait for Mom to chime in with additional constructive criticism (she's an art teacher, what do you expect?!)
I've been researching a lot about different dress styles from different periods. I'm really into these shirtings and thinking about getting more. I like the idea of doing a collection in the palette of navy, ivory, black and red.
So, my house was built in 1860 (the year Lincoln became president, also the year Les Miserables was written, just in case you were wondering) in the Colonial Style. It's fairly austere in terms of interior details, but our upstairs hallway has some really nice wood doors and molding and some cool burgundy striped wallpaper. It's getting a bit chilly to go out on my porch to take photographs, and good daylight is hard to get this time of year. So, I decided to try fooling around with my photography lights and see if I couldn't shoot in the hallway.
I'm fairly pleased overall with the lighting situation, with my major complaint being that my skin tone looks a little washed out. I'll keep playing with it. I like the warm, woody vibe and feel it's more appropriate for winter anyway.
This is a shirt I've had in my back pocket since the summer and I have affectionately called it the "civil war shirt." The one and only reason I have to call it that is because I was originally inspired to make it in a rust and khaki combination which, for whatever reason, make me think of civil war era colors. I actually got the idea for the color combo by looking at an old poster we have from the 1930's advertising "Navy Wife" and "Old Kentucky" playing at what was "Tegu's Palace" right here in St. Johnsbury. The show poster is a stained up khaki color with dark red lettering. So, the Civil War and its era really have NOTHING to do with the shirt. If anything, it's 30's inspired what with the show poster and the kimono style, but the name stuck. I will actually make it in khaki and rust but for a tester used this black and tan lightweight linen.
I really like the style lines and contrast. I will NOT be doing loop button closures again, they just don't seem to work with this design (although it may be a problem of needing more ease). I actually would really like to make a dress out of this with non functional, decorative buttons down the light part of the bodice and a side zip.
I still have a lot of material left over from buying too much of it when I started RRO. I was inspired to do a basic darted dress so that I might use up some of the stash. This particular print is a navy blue cotton with small white trellis stripes, part of a reproduction fabric line meant to resemble antique "shirtings" from (I think) the very early 1900s. I really like it.
Now, at first glance I know what you're thinking about this dress--it's looking equal parts Waco cult wife and frontier school marm, neither of which I was aiming for.
I know that you're also jealous of my KD Lang hair, shadddddapppp.
Anyway, what this dress needs is an accent around the neck and I just can't decide what I want to do. This is where you come in. Looking at my kindergarten gimp drawings below, let me know which idea you like best. They are in white because I would be doing something with white trim and/or buttons. I originally planned on a faux cowl which would split just to the right of the middle neck with some big white buttons (which are also on the sleeve cuff). But, now I'm not so sure. Hell, why don't I just drape some crusty lace over it, scrawl on my arms and call it a Courtney Love inspired dress circa Pretty on the Inside?!?!
I am super pleased with the majority of new patterns I've been working on since the late summer and I started sketching some plans for spring/summer designs based on them, but in different fabrics. I saw some adorable new 30's/40's inspired prints from a favorite fabric manufacturer and I've already picked out what I want!!! Looking at beautiful, bright prints makes me feel good. I want to go back to making cheerful cotton dresses. See left: isn't that so pretty!!! Unfortunately a rabid sewist doesn't reveal where she finds her ultra amazing fabrics.
Here are some sketches for my spring/summer line. I plan to do blouses both in an organic bamboo viscose knit as well as cotton wovens like the one above, so that there are some solid coordinates. My friend April
really helped me focus my visions for Ready Ruthie and was kind enough to let me vent for what must have been 10 pages in facebook message form!!
Last winter I made similar plans and had my fabric ordered, and had my new designs done pretty well ahead of time. I will do that this year and see if I can get any vendors to carry my clothes. The trick is to do the same for the fall season. Last spring my boyfriend and I bought a house which definitely took my attention, plus I went on a lavish cruise vacation that really elf-d up my savings account. In turn, I was not on the ball with planning fall lines in time.