Wednesday, October 26, 2011

October Update

If anybody is wondering why I haven't put any new clothes up for sale in the past three weeks, it's because my awesome friend-slash-website-model Laura has been out of the country and I've been too lazy to find another model. She took a 2-week trip to Paris and London and I didn't manage to squeeze in a last minute photoshoot before she left.

She'll be back in California soon, so I'll be annoying her about doing another photo shoot as soon as she's recovered from jet-lag. I have about half a dozen new items to add to my website and I hope to get them all up in the first week of November.

Product Updates for October:
  • Animal print guitar straps have been restocked. These make a great gift (if anybody is already thinking about holiday gifts, I definitely am because December is my busiest month of the year!)
  • Lace-up tank tops and red striped sweaters have been restocked. These sell out quickly so I can't guarantee that all sizes will be available for very long.
  • I have discontinued blue cheetah and giraffe print hoodies, but you can still custom order them on this page. You can also go to this page to browse the other prints of faux fur that I can use to make you a custom hoodie.
  • I'm still not sure if I will be able to sell Tripp NYC leopard print skinny jeans this year. I've been having problems contacting Tripp to see if they still have the same style available. If they do, I will definitely order them. I'm sorry to anybody who has emailed me about these jeans. I'm working on it, I swear!
  • If any dudes are wondering why the smaller sizes of the No Future men's black stretch jeans are still out of stock, it is because No Future has discontinued the current version of jeans and is working on a new fit. I'm not sure when they will be available but I will post updates as soon as I know about it. I still have sizes 34, 36, 38, and 40 in stock. Once those sizes are gone, I will not restock them until No Future has the new version available.
Click on the images to go to item pages:

Website Updates:
  • I posted a new DIY guide: How to Sell Your DIY Clothing Part 2. I will update Part 1 with more useful information as soon as I get the time. I also plan on updating the Random Sewing Tips DIY guide, because I wrote up that guide years ago and the tips are pretty dumb and worthless.
  • I finally finished a very long blog post about my trip to Europe last August. I included links to my Flickr photo gallery. There are over 400 pictures from my trip and I think they turned out great!
  • The FAQ and Ordering Info pages have also recently been updated.
Other news:

I have just about finished fixing up the used industrial sewing machine that I posted about a couple weeks ago. As soon as I can transport it into my sewing room, I will have to practice on it a bit to get used to the speed. Then I hope to use it for all my sewing projects, because the home machine I have been using for the past 10 years isn't working too well anymore.

One reason why I haven't made as many one-of-a-kind items recently is that I am spending a lot of time trying to learn as much as I can about industrial sewing methods. Even though I already have three industrial machines, I still need to buy a few more. A single home sewing machine can do many sewing tasks with mediocre results, while an industrial sewing machine is usually set up to do one sewing task with great results. So if you want to switch to industrial machines, you'll need to buy a variety of them. Right now I am trying to get the bare minimum of all the machines that I need. I've got a lockstitch machine and two 3/5-thread machines. I need to buy a 4-thread and a coverstitch machine.

Once I have the machines I need, I will hopefully be able to come out with new designs at a much quicker pace. I just have to get over this equipment speed bump. It's taking a while because my first priority is filling custom sewing orders for the items that I already have for sale. So this is just the usual story of me stretching myself too thin and trying to get everything done on my own!

I also plan to have a new version of the classic animal print hoodie up for sale by the end of the year. I've been working on it for a while, and the reason it is taking so long is because I am trying to figure out out how to sew it with industrial methods instead of the home sewing methods I have been using for so long. But I'm sure everybody is bored of hearing about these hoodies for the millionth time, so I'll shut up until the new version is actually done and up for sale.

I guess that is it for now. I'll risk boring you to death if I go on about the other things I've been working on in the past month.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Europe Pictures

To ignore my blog post and look at all the pictures at once, click here to see my entire Flickr set of pictures.

I took over 1500 pictures on my trip to Europe in July, so it has taken me two months to go through them all and put up my favorites in my Flickr album. My mom let me borrow her point and shoot camera for the trip (no way I was hauling around my bulky DSLR). I was impressed by the quality of pictures I was able to take with her camera.

I had a blast during the trip, but I also learned my travel limits. Twenty-eight days is a long time to be away from home, especially for somebody like me. I went on the trip with my friend Vince, who pretty much let me plan out the entire thing. I wanted to see as many sights as possible, so I planned 2-4 days in each city. By our third day in London, I could barely walk. Turns out my knee problems are a lot worse than I thought. This was extremely frustrating for me. I should be too young for this crap! I'm 22, and I've been having issues with my knees for three years now. Watch out, punk rock kids, those fun times in the circle pit might catch up to you earlier than you expect!

Another surprising thing on the trip was the weather. It rained nearly every day! Even in Italy! I actually checked the average rainfall days in my Europe guidebook, but ignored what it said because I'm an idiot. It literally does not rain in Sacramento in the summer, so at this point in my life the idea of rain in July is absurd. We went through several umbrellas. Now I know to bring a decent coat if I ever go back to Europe, and to believe what the damn guidebook tells me!

So, back to the pictures. I got more and more picture crazy in each city we were in. That's why I only have 15 London pictures posted and almost 200 from Italy. Our trip was planned according to when some of our friends in Europe could hang out with us, so the order of the cities that we went to was a kind of random and not planned very well.

I became a travel guidebook nerd while I was planning the trip. I ended up buying four different Rick Steves books, including one on the history, art, and architecture of Europe. One of these days I might read that book again just to see what I can remember. Planning the trip out was a lot of fun.

If you want to look at all the pictures from a certain city, just click on one of the links below and then click on the "next" button once you get to the Flickr page.


London 1 

Our trip started in London.We were there for almost four full days and managed to see almost all of the major sights. I loved it, even though at some times I had the bizarre feeling that I was surrounded by people who I could barely understand even though we speak the same language. (It was weird to realize that 99% of the English accents I have heard in my lifetome have been in movies!) On our last night, we stayed out late at a pub near our hostel and hung out with some other travelers. We had to wake up at 5am the next day for our train to Belgium, and our hostel room had 26 other people in it, so I gave up on getting any sleep that night. I was worried that I would end up having problems falling asleep for the rest of the trip, but I luckily it didn't take long to get used to the noisy and crowded hostel rooms.

We stayed in a very weird variety of places over the course of the trip. Our sleeping accommodations ranged from a private room to a tent with 30 different people. Quite an adventure! 


Brussels 1

We were only in Brussels for one afternoon, so we didn't see much of it. I loved the town square with all the old buildings. Otherwise, the capitol of the EU seemed like a relatively boring place.

Bruges 1

Bruges was adorable. Go watch the movie In Bruges and you'll know what I mean. It's one of the most well-preserved medieval towns in Europe, and since it's in Belgium there aren't too many tourists. We missed out on the canal boat tour because of the rain, and didn't manage to climb the tower in the town square because of my knees, but we made up for it by having some pretty awesome meals and beers.


Amsterdam 1

Rain. Nothing but rain! The red light district was interesting. We drank lots of beer and hung out with my friend Kate, who was working as an au pair in the nearby town of Utrecht. I loved the canals and the gabled buildings in Amsterdam. Not so interested in the legal drugs, though. Here in Sacramento I live around the corner from a weed shop and a place to go to get a weed prescription, so I really have no interest in smoking the stuff, even for the novelty value. We did spend a bit of time in a coffeeshop, though. I was almost surprised at how cliche the atmosphere was: reggae, overpriced munchies, and dreadlocks. I get enough of that in my hometown, dammit!


Utrecht 1

We stayed two nights in Kate's host family's house in Utrecht. It seemed like a less-touristy version of Amsterdam, and for once the weather was perfect! I don't remember too much of our first night there, which might be a good thing. On our 2nd night, I hauled my hungover ass off the couch and we went to see the 7th Harry Potter movie. With Dutch subtitles. And intermission. (Weird!) The house that we stayed in was probably the most modern and expensive house I have ever been in. I'm pretty sure that their house is the exact opposite of the shithole that I live in. I'm also pretty sure that one of their bathrooms was bigger than any bedroom I've lived in.


Nuremberg 1

After Utrecht, we went to visit our friend Kian in Germany. She was also working as an au pair, in a house that was much more cozy and normal than the Utrecht house. We stayed there for three nights. She showed us around the town and took us to some of her favorite bars. Nuremberg is a pretty town with a lot of history. Our stay here felt more relaxed than in the other towns.


Munich 1

By this time the pouring rain was seriously irritating me. We were in Munich for three whole days, which was lucky because the weather wasn't nice until the 3rd day. We also took a side trip to Neuschwanstein castle, which was fun. On the last day we went to a lot of beer gardens and I made sure to get one of the full liters of beer. Those things are huge! We made it back to the Munich train station by about 10pm to catch our night train to Paris.

I was able to sleep pretty well on the train, but Vince wasn't. I had booked the cheapest possible seats (of course, haha) so we were very lucky to get an entire train compartment to ourselves. We were able to stretch out (somewhat uncomfortably) on the rows of seats rather than share a cramped compartment with four other people. If I ever take a Europe night train again, I'd probably spend the extra money for a car with an actual bed. I felt very well-rested once we arrived in Paris at 9am, but Vince wasn't so lucky.


Paris 1

This was my second time in Paris. My first time was back in 2002 with my family. What can I really say about Paris that nobody has heard before? We saw all the famous sights. Hid out under a bridge during a crazy thunderstorm. Had some nice cheese and wine and baguettes. We stayed in a super cheap hotel just outside all the main arrondissements. (Which means that we stayed just outside the main highway that encircles all the old parts of the city.) The subway train we took to our stop was almost always packed with an uncomfortable amount of people. We had a 10 minute walk to our hotel after the subway stop. It was nice to see the non-tourist area of Paris. Each day we stopped at what seemed like the Paris version of the Grocery Outlet near the subway station and bought cheap snacks for the day. Vince said that Paris was different than what he expected. Even though people like to call it the most romantic city in the world, it's really just a big, old, smelly city. It's charming, but it's not perfect. That was what I remembered from my first trip to Paris. So many awesome old buildings! And interesting smells, haha.

By this time we were accustomed to the language barrier, and I was wishing that I had studied some French before leaving. I took two years of French in high school, so I kept hearing and seeing words that I recognized, but I had no idea what they meant.

This was also our first room with a TV. We watched some French news and French stoner TV. It was bizarre to see news coverage of the attacks in Norway, because we could tell that something horrible had happened but couldn't understand any of the details. It wasn't hard to understand the Amy Winehouse broadcasts, though.

Italy/Cinque Terre

Italy 1

The Cinque Terre is a set of five towns within about five miles on the coast of Italy. I'm a sucker for a good view, so I took way too many pictures here. The towns are accessible by train or by several hikes of varying difficulty. I was finally used to my knee problems by this time, so I was able to do a lot of walking without too much pain. (So many stairs!) The descriptions I put under the Flickr pictures will explain pretty much everything we saw in the Cinque Terre.


Rome 1

Rome was amazing. Fucking amazing. And it was the only town we stayed in that didn't rain!

One of the first things we did in Rome was visit the Vatican. I'm not religious, but I love historical sites and old art and architecture. We didn't make time to go to very many museums on our trip, but I'm glad that we made it to the Vatican museum. The Sistine Chapel and St. Peter's Basilica: need I say more? 

I think the only unpleasant part about our time in Rome was the bus trip to our campsite. It was the only bus that ran to a huge campsite, so it was always crowded. I've used public transportation for almost my entire life, but I have never been in a bus that got as crowded as our bus in Rome. It was so bad that the back doors couldn't swing open, because too many people were in the doorway. I know that public transportation gets a lot more crowded in certain Asian countries, but still, I was claustrophobic as hell!

Anyways, I loved Rome. My pictures probably say it all.

Journey Home

Switzerland 1

I don't want to talk about too many details of our long, fucked up journey home because I'd rather force it out of my mind forever. (Admittedly, I will never forget that 10 hour layover in Chicago O'Hare. Yuck. Stupid thunderstorms.)

We flew out of Zurich (don't ask, like I said our city route was not planned too well) and I took a few cool pictures of the train ride from Rome to Zurich. Even though it should not have been necessary for us to ride through the Alps for a second time during our trip, the views were really beautiful. It was also Swiss National Day (August 1st) so every once in a while we saw fireworks go off in the distance over the towns and lakes that we were passing through. Even though the trip home put us into travel purgatory (or perhaps travel hell at times), the train to Switzerland was really nice.

I might write a second blog post about Europe with some travel tips that I learned, including tips about traveling on a tiny budget. This was the first big trip I've taken that wasn't planned by somebody else, and I learned a lot. Vince helped out a bit during the planning stage, and definitely helped me keep my head on straight while we were navigating our way around every new city and train station. I don't do too well when I'm thrown into new situations. Maybe I'm too absent-minded? Whatever it is, I tend to ignore this fact while I plan my life. Which is a good thing!

Monday, October 10, 2011

What I've been working on lately

WARNING: this blog will only be about sewing nerd stuff. Like, hardcore sewing nerd stuff!

I'm setting up a new industrial sewing machine in my room.

Nevermind, it's not new. And it's not in my room yet. It has been in my parents house for nearly 2 years, collecting dust in the corner of their living room. I acquired it in December 2009 and it is only now that I have it set up and running. I just got back from their house. I have been going over there once or twice a week for the past couple months to work on the machine.

I feel absolutely victorious for finally getting the damn thing to work. I started working on it with no idea what I was doing. I've never considered myself to be a mechanically inclined person, but I somehow managed to put it all together and fix it up with the random tools I have somehow ended up with. I still have about half a dozen more parts to buy for it, but the thing is finally functioning and it can totally sew the animal print hoodies that I am always making.

Here it is. This picture was taken before I got it to work. Not pictured: the foot pedal, lamp, and most of the thread tree.

My mom is a little annoyed about it taking up space in her living room for so long, so she's been decorating it with flowerpots and various crap.

Problem #1: the motor that was installed on the machine was a 220 volt motor with a 5-prong plug. As I work out of the back room of an old Victorian house rather than in an actual factory, I have nowhere to plug the thing in. So I bought a new (used) motor. The thing is ridiculously heavy, so my dad helped me install it to the sewing machine table.

Problem #2: the new (used) motor was sized differently than the original motor. The v-belt connecting the motor to the machine was way too long. So I had to buy a new v-belt. I accidentally bought one that was too short, so I had to buy 2 new v-belts. I'm an idiot.

Problem #3: the motor didn't have a push-button switch to turn it on. So I had to buy one of those too.

Problem #4: finally got the switch installed, and the right v-belt on the motor. I turn on the motor, start sewing, AND THE DAMN THING WAS SEWING BACKWARDS. I ended up taking a picture of the motor switch wiring and calling up my uncle (an electrician/engineer/something or other) to get directions on how to change the wiring so that it would run the right way. My dad also helped me with this. There was a moment of suspense when we turned on the machine, because we had no idea if it was going to short out their power or explode or whatever.

Other assorted problems: the bobbin case was broken, had to buy a new one. The new one wouldn't work until I removed on of the extra parts on it. The machine also has a major oil leak, which I might just have to make do with. And all the oil inside it looks rotten. I took off the oil plate and was showered in black gunk. The clear plastic case over the oil well is cracked and leaking over the front of the machine, too.

The lamp that is installed on the table also won't plug into the new motor. Wrong sized outlet. I plugged it into the wall outlet instead, and the light-bulb went out within a fraction of a second. I also need to buy rubber feet for the machine so it can fit properly into the table. And buy a new needle plate, because the one on it has been mangled pretty bad.

Did I mention that it showered my hands in rotten oil?


The only luck I ran into was that I was able to find a manual for it online. And it may be the best manual for an industrial machine that I have ever seen. Even if I can't understand half of what it's talking about, I'm glad that I have the information. 

I still have about half a dozen more parts to screw back on to the machine. Once that's all done, I'll transport it to my sewing room and buy lots of special sewing machine feet so I'll be able to do things like top-stitching at full speed and with complete accuracy. I like the speed of the machine. I was afraid that it would be too fast to handle, but it seems to be only a bit faster than the home sewing machine that I've been using for the past 10 years.

So, I can't wait to use it. Unless of course the damn thing decides to randomly stop working as soon as we manage to haul it up the 3 flights of stairs to my room. Did I mention how fucking heavy the whole thing is? Nothing would surprise me at this point.

Oh, and maybe I should explain why I am going through all this trouble of setting up an industrial machine instead of just buying a new home machine. The volume of sewing that I do is too much for regular home machines. The one I'm using now probably won't be able to handle my animal print hoodies for another year, and I want to give it back to my mom. I've been "borrowing" it for a long time now! Industrial machines are also supposed to be able to handle fabric better than home machines. Hopefully this one isn't too old and janky to do its job. It seems like a decent machine, once you get around all the broken parts!