Crafting in the White City

16 Mar

Current Mood:  Pleasantly Frazzled

Listening:  Animal Collective, “We Tigers”

We look great, but shouldn't we be getting some work done?

The last couple of months (literally!  happy two-month anniversary, Chicago!)  have seen both myself and my better half struggling to settle into our new life in Chicago.  By struggling I mean, of course, not just trying to make new friends and get all of our stuff unpacked, but also fighting with the constant urge to slack off that is a byproduct of working for yourself.  Living in a new apartment, in a new city, offers a wealth of ways to procrastinate:  Need to finish a blog post?  Paint the entire kitchen eggshell white, including the cabinets, and when you’re done with that, paint all of the bookshelves in your studio too!  Need to create a muslin to send to a wedding dress client?  Alphabetize your library of sewing books and old Vogues!  Need to work on the website?  Go on a hot dog tour of the city! The weight that you gain will mean you have to buy new clothes, which means finding out where the best thrift stores are (for the record, the Salvation Army on North Clybourne is tops),  will also keep you from getting any work done, and you can legitimize it in your mind by saying that you are just getting to know the new city!  Genius! Truly, moving is a boon to the easily-distracted personality, providing us with many legitimate excuses to start, and abandon, projects with, well, abandon.

Eventually, however, the need to actually pay our rent kicked in, and we’ve both found novel ways to screw around AND work (watching tv online – genius!  I am addicted to reruns of “The Tudors” lately; expect to see lots of corsetry and full skirts in my new collection).  After inspirational (and wildly contrasting) visits to IndieWed (a wedding show comprised entirely of small business! My people!) and the Luxury Wedding Show (eye-opening.  VERY eye-opening), I decided to focus on the Chicago wedding industry in earnest, subscribing to wedding mags, posing as a bride, and dragging my poor friends to events so that I learn as much as possible. Things have really changed in just the two years since I got hitched – who knew liposuction was so common for brides-to-be?  And spray tanning?  And Botox? It makes my chaotic ceremony look calm by comparison. But, to each their own.

The Something Old Fascinator Sweatshop

The Something Old Fascinator Sweatshop on our kitchen table

It has been an Off White kind of month, as in, the Off White Wedding Show in St. Louis on March 20th (yep!  Sunday!  My first trip to my ancestral homeland!). In order to meet the photo submission deadline for the event’s fashion show, I set up my studio and started draping like crazy, stopping every half-hour to do something unrelated.  Incredibly, in four days, and with only Joann Fabrics (a wonderful place that has already claimed more than half of my meager income, but not where I would normally go to buy high-end fabric),  I made two and a half wedding dresses (one of them, the Darcy Dress, has a removable skirt, hence the “half”).  Noting my  panic at not having a live model to photograph them on, Anne gamely agreed to model the dresses for me, in 4-inch heels, in my ice-cold studio.  I think she secretly enjoyed it, and it was fun to dress her in layers of fluffy tulle.  Well, fun for me at least.

I’ve come to terms with my craft-based ADD – as a small-biz owner, I have to be all over the place or I won’t get anything done. My goal is to make something every day, and to use my slacking to work on other aspects of the business, so if I’m not actually sewing something I have to use my time messing around online to look at runway stills from Fashion Week, or write a Twitter post.  Last week, while applying for the July Indie Wed (fingers crossed!  I would be so thrilled if I got in!),  I tried modifying a cookie recipe into a cake recipe (not recommended). On Sunday I interpreted this task a little broadly and made ice cream while assembling my giveaways for Off White  – a finished Something Old Flower Pin Fascinator and a tutorial so that you can go home and make one yourself.    After making 100 of the little guys, then formatting and printing the tutorial, and putting it all in a specially-designed envelope with my business card, and also making a more ornate one for the raffle, I can honestly say I’ve developed a phobia of pinbacks.

Oh, my pretty ring!

The Darcy Dress. Anne is such a good sport.

The Anne Dress, on Anne

The Anne Dress, on Anne


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