katherine summer * couturière

Fine Dressmaking in the San Francisco Bay Area

10 June 2010

Veni, Vidi, Vici

I was going to post this tomorrow, but I couldn't wait.

organized sewing studio

Tomorrow I write Module3 for my class and begin on the sewing room.

Dress For the Journey




If you're on Facebook, you've probably seen my posts mentioning trunk shows or events for Salome's Suitcase.  But given the limited nature of their status updates, I haven't gone into much detail about who or what Salome's Suitcase actually is. 

We started out as a private discussion group on Tribe.  We didn't have any plans to become a collective at that time--we just wanted a place to discuss our businesses, our designs, review events and festivals--just a place to throw ideas and opinions back and forth.  But at some point, we realized that we could accomplish a lot more as a group than individually.  Things that are too intensive to pull off by ourselves are doable when we all put effort in.

So we vend together, do photoshoots together, and our latest greatest effort was to put on a fashion show at Cosmic Casbah, which was the Tribal Fest afterparty put on by the unstoppable DJ Amar :) 

As a collective, we're all apparel and/or accessory designers who focus on creating pieces for people who like to incorporate a little drama into their wardrobes.  Most of us got our start doing costuming for bay area bellydancers, and if you know anything about bellydance around these parts, you already know that we ain't talking sequins :)  But we are by no means limited to that sphere. 

In case you're wondering exactly who "we" are, here's the rundown.  Be sure to click on the links, 'cause there's serious eye-candy behind them.  And if you aren't already logged in, you should get onto Facebook RIGHT NOW because several of the links are attached to Facebook photos.

Besides me, Salome's Suitcase is:

Kathleen Crowley
Kathleen makes all sorts of amazing items from period costumes to Sam Pants, which are her signature double-ruffled capris. I personally have a pair of her fluffie rufflie bloomers, which I adore--they make me feel 10 kinds of prairie-babe.

Fool Proof Studio
Lee is THE go-to girl for reconstructed vintage.  You know where the ladies go to get that look-du-jour?  Fool Proof, that's where. Nobody else could make rusty bottlecaps look so awesome.  Plus, she lives down the street from me, and we like to stitch and bitch :)


Medina Maitreya
Medina has costumed everyone from Lucent Dossier to Kami Liddle.  She's the one who makes those hot little vintage inspired garrison hats.  If you ever need a great haircut or to have your makeup done, she's a pro at that too.

Black Lotus
Often imitated but never equaled, Christina of Black Lotus creates one-of-a-kind darkly inspired pieces of wonder that take my breath away.  Seriously.  She also has mad photography skills.  She took that picture at the top.

Yasemin Yildiz
Yasemin's designs are classic tribal, but you can always recognize when they're hers.  No one else does that look in quite such a lush fashion.

Minerva's Antennae
I don't know that I've ever met anyone who works as hard as Rachel.  This girl comes up with sexy new stuff.  Every.  Single.  Day.  Her gorgeous studio is where we hold our trunk shows. 

Rosehips Designs
If you bellydance, you probably know Rose.  Besides being the originator of the tribal fusion Rosehips skirt, she makes beautiful custom costumes.  AND, she was the instructor of my very first bellydance class :)

HiBeam Bindis
The original high voltage rhinestone bindis.  Made by Sandi.  Check her site often, because her most of her bindis go within hours of when she posts them. 

And here we are at the end of our fashion show!


Be sure to also check out the incomparable Sequioa Emmanuelle's fan page for more pics of the show and backstage.

09 June 2010

It Will Get Worse Before It Gets Better

I am, of course, talking about cleaning my studio.

For those of you who haven't been to my house, I am lucky enough to have two rooms for my work.  The front room is the sewing room.  It sounds just like it says--I do the sewing in there.  It's also where I keep my yarn.  It has molding around the ceiling, a bay window, and is painted two lovely shades of grey.  I have an antique silver-gilded armoire for storing the merchandise.  The mirrored doors are perfect for when clients come over for fittings.  In other words, the front room is a sweet little space.

Its also a complete wreck right now.
And somebody get some clothes on that girl!   You can't see the sewing machine, but it's behind the tutu.



The other room is the cutting room, which is the spare bedroom.  It has a large glass door going out to the wrap-around porch and an oddly vaulted ceiling.  I have a 4'x8' cutting table, and I keep the books, patterns, fabric, and art supplies in this room.  Up until now, it's also been something of a catch-all.



Both rooms are such a mess that I can't get anything done.  And in the interest of getting a fresh start...

Okay, to be truthful I'm procrastinating.  I'm supposed to be writing an online class for work.  It's a basic patterndrafting class for high-schoolers.  And I REALLY do not feel like doing it right now.  The sad fact of the matter is that I only clean when there's something I want to do less.  Like work on this class.  There is nothing like cleaning for a good productive procrastination session.  I can always justify it.  I can't work on the class if I can't use my cutting/drafting table, right?  Right. 

 Like I said; it will get worse before it gets better.  Much much worse.
And like my Grandad says, it is time for me to "Commence to commence."

08 June 2010

Everything is more complicated than it is.


I'm working on a new pattern to submit to Knitty, and it's going to be a big piece done on lace weight yarn, so I'm doing a test swatch first. I'd rather get all the kinks with the lace pattern and the shaping figured out first instead of having to start over 5 times 'cause it isn't working out right.

And believe me, it hasn't been working out right. I have worked on this test swatch for HOURS so far.

The lace pattern comes from A Fourth Treasury of Knitting Patterns by Barbara Walker, and as beautiful as it looks, it isn't complicated--k, p, yo, k2tog, ssk, and a central double increase.

In case you don't know, a central double increase creates 3 stitches out of 1 instead of 2 stitches out of 1. I found this video if you want to see how it's done.

Anyway, so where's the problem? I want to knit it backwards. Meaning that the instructions start at the bottom of the swags, but I want to start at the top.

Try #1) Okay! No problem! I'll just start at the other end of the chart!
Time and several rows pass….
Not really looking like it does in the picture…

Try #2) Maybe if I switch the decreases and do a ssk when it asks for a k2tog, and a k2tog when it asks for a ask.
More time and more rows…
Yeah. Not so much. Doesn't really look significantly different than the first try.

Try #3) Yes! I got it! I'll flip the chart and knit it backwards and upside down! That'll definitely do it!
moretimemorerows…
No. It still looks pretty much the same. Check minus on the problem solving, KSO.

BUT NOW. Now I've at least figured out WHY it's not working. I feel pretty silly that I didn't figure it out before now. The shaping comes from the increases and the decreases. The shaping in this particular pattern comes from the central double increases that happens in the middle of the solid parts of the swags and is controlled by the decreases. Since BW knits from the bottom of the swags she has to make cdi's in the middle. But since I'm knitting from of the swags, I need to decrease for my shaping.

SO. At this point, I am just going to try knitting it as she's written it so that I can get a better feel for which decreases are used for shaping and which are just to counter increase made by the yo's. And THEN I'll try recharting the pattern.