Saturday, May 17, 2014

Something that's been on my mind lately, is the idea of 'Success.'  

Success is being able to spend most of my time with Oliver!
I had the opportunity this winter to take my business in a different direction than what I've been doing now, by expanding into a much larger retail market. It would have required me to outsource labour and change the model of my business.  I hmm'd and haw'd over it for a long time, and finally decided that direction wasn't for me.  When I mentioned this to someone, I got a surprising response.  "So, it sounds like you don't want to be successful."

Obviously, I was a little taken aback by that response.  

I am so grateful for my parents. They taught me so many important things.  One of the first thing they taught me, is to always speak my mind.  Speak it in a polite manner, but always speak it because what I have to say matters.  So, I told that person that they were wrong.

The second thing my parents taught me is that success isn't defined by the amount of money you make, the newness of your car, the brand of jeans you wear, the size of your house, but by the feeling you get at the end of the day.

A weeks worth of orders cut and ready to be stitched
So, this got me to thinking about how success is defined in terms of Ohhh Lulu... A large corporate entity and billions of dollars does not equal success to me. Okay, I'm not going to lie, a billion dollars would be super awesome. But, I currently do not feel in want or need of anything.

A larger business to me, is not necessarily more of a success, and in fact, I feel like it would take away part of what makes my business different. As it stands now, I get to work one-on-one with people from around the world.  I get to make them pretty things.  I get to offer something different, because I can customize and personalize things as people wish. Every day, I get to take a piece of cloth, and stitch it into something unique and beautiful with my own two hands! To me, there is nothing better than that.  Talking on the phone all day to suppliers and manufacturers and negotiating wholesale rates sounds like the worst day to me.  On the other hand, making stuff all day is a dream come true. And if success is that feeling you get at the end of the day, I guess I feel pretty successful. 

Going forward with Ohhh Lulu, I'd love to be able to hire a person or two within my own community to help me increase production.  I would also like to expand into some smaller boutiques, especially within Canada.  But, seeing Ohhh Lulu at Your Major Department Store isn't something that I want for my brand.  Being a maker is what makes me happy, and I don't want to change that!

Last week I had the opportunity to have a little interview with the ladies from Gallant & Jones.  They run a business out of Vancouver, and make beautiful outdoor furniture.  I talked a bit about what I do and where I see the future of Ohhh Lulu. If you'd like to read more, you can see the full interview Here

A custom set for a lovely summer bride!

Mini Pattern Hack: Adjusting the Cup Size of the Jasmine Bra

Friday, May 16, 2014

The Jasmine Bra (available in my sewing pattern shop, Ohhh Lulu Sews) is a great bra pattern for a first-time lingerie sewist! It is simple to assemble, and will give you experience applying lingerie elastic.  It's a comfortable bralette that can accommodate a number of sizes with some simple pattern adjustments. I use this pattern a lot myself.  You may remember I made a boned bikini top with it last summer.  I'll also show you how to add padding in another Pattern Hack Post. 

First we need to know a little something about how cup size works. Cup size is basically the difference between your Bust & Band measurements.  For the novice seamstress, your bust measurement is measured around the fullest part of your bust, and your band measurement is measured around your ribcage, just below your breasts where your bra band sits.  In general, each Cup Letter represents 1" difference in Bust and Band measurements.  So, as an example, if you have a 30" band measruement and a 34" bust measruement, you should fit a 30D bra.  This is not a fool proof method, but a guideline for finding a size that fits you best.  The person with a 30 band and 34 Bust may well find that a C cup is more comfortable or that they prefer a looser band.  Regardless, this is often a good starting point. 

 I have drafted the Jasmine Bra for about a B/C cup size, which is a very common cup size.  If you are below or above that cup size, you will likely want to make some pattern adjustments.

If you are an A or AA cup, you may generally have a 0-2" difference in bust to band measurement. As a result, you will want to straighten out the curve of the cup (See the illustration below in the orange ink).  The front princess seam gets taken in at the bust apex, which is approximately 3.5" up from the lower edge of the pattern piece.  When reducing the cup, I haven't adjusted the height of the pattern pieces, just straightened out the curve of that front seam.  

If you are a D-DD Cup (or larger!), you will want to exaggerate the curve of the cup as well as increase the height to provide better coverage.  Here, in purple ink, I've increased the bust curve by 1/2" on each pattern piece at the apex. I've also extended the top of the cup by 1/2".

Because this pattern is to be sewn in stretch knits, the fit is really quite flexible.  If you are above a DD (this includes myself!), you may find that this simple adjustment, adding 1" to the bust apex + a bit of height, will be all you need to get a better fit.  Remember, it is really important when sewing any garment, but especially lingerie, that you sew a mock up first in a fabric of a similar weight and stretch.  This way, you can make any pattern adjustments to get a truly custom fit!

Here, there, everywhere!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

This weekend was awesome! It was hot, sunny, beautiful... I even got a sun burn (not so awesome, but a true sign of summer for this fair-skinned lady).  Dan and I got our yard cleaned up. It is slowly looking better and better.  In our backyard, we have a rickety old garage that I have mentioned many times before (it is literally falling down).  It had a metal overhang off the back that collapsed under the weight of the snow this winter.  So, we got rid of it, got rid of our pile of dirt and brush that had collected over previous years, re-seeded the lawn, weeded all of the gardens (my job), and repaired some holes in the fence with new lattice.  It looks so much less like hill billies live here now! By Sunday night I was pretty exhausted, but we went out to my parents house and sat in the backyard and we all played fetch with Oliver... he is the best at fetch.

Yesterday was one of those days when I got totally consumed by computer stuff... editing photos, reordering labels, packing supplies (damn! I forgot to order envelopes!),  fabrics, writing up tutorials, sent out quotes, replied to long lingering emails... It feels good to have those things off of my To-Do list, and now I feel like I can really get down to work!

Last month, some of my bras were featured on the blog, Undiegamer.  If you haven't seen this blog, you need to check it out.  The tag line is "Lightheartedly Loafing in Legitimatly Lovable Lingerie."  How can you not love that? She also featured some Fortnight pieces in that same post, which is a brand that I've been dying to try myself.

So, I have a million orders to try to tackle this week and next, but what I really want to be doing is finishing these damn swimsuits! I also wanted to add some of these hair tie packs to my shop... I make these for my hair and I love them! I have very fine hair that gets tangled around every type of elastic except for these.  Unlike most of the FOE hair elastics, these aren't just knotted; I sew them together.  I'm kind of obsessed with these things...

Ohhh Lulu Pattern Hacks: Jane Bikini Cut Panties to Ruffle Bloomers.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Back in the day, I used to make a lot of these... They were super popular but a lot of work! You can make your own using my Jane Bikini Cut pattern + some lace, chiffon, or ruffle-able fabric of your choice.  I make these Ruffle Bloomers with two layers of raw-edged ruffles. They are great for special occasion lingerie, under a full skirt, or to wear to bed!

Before I start with the Pattern Hack, Here are a few variations I have done of over the years.  My preference for ruffle fabric is lace or chiffon, but you can also use quilting cotton, or self fabric - basically any fabric that won't fray too badly when torn.

Ruffle Bloomers in woven cotton with lace ruffles and ruffle elastic trim.

Ruffle Bloomers in rose print chalis with lace ruffles.

Ruffle Bloomers in plaid flannel with coordinating ruffles.
 What you will need:
Jane Bikini Cut Panties Pattern (you can find it, along wtih other lingerie sewing patterns at Ohhh Lulu Sews)
Supplies for Jane Bikini Cut Panties (indicated on pattern)
Lace Fabric, Chiffon, or Fabric for Ruffling (fabric needs to be 54-60" wide)

1. Assemble your Jane Bikini Cut Panties according to the directions in the pattern, but do not apply elastic  If this is your first time sewing the Jane Bikini Cut pattern, be sure to first sew a mock-up in muslin or scrap fabric.  These panties are made of woven fabric with no stretch, so it is important to test the fit! You should end up with bikini cut panties with NO elastic around the waist or legs.

2. Prepare your Ruffle Fabric.  Cut two lengths of fabric approximately 1.5"-2" wide. Cut each strip in half, so you now have 4 x 27"-30" long strips of fabric. Round off the end of each strip, so that it comes to a soft point (see picture below for details).
TIP! If you are using Lace, cut the fabric with a rotary cutter for a nice clean edge.  If you are using a woven fabric such as quilting cotton or chiffon, snip into the fabric, on a 90 degree angle to the selvedge, then tear the strips across.  This will create a perfectly straight edge, with a soft frayed edge.

3. Make Ruffles!  Stitch a row of basting stitch along the curved edge of the strip.  When you come to the end, leave a long tail of thread.  Grab a hold of your bobbin side thread, and gather the lace.  Press each ruffled strip flat.
TIP! If you are using Lace, you may need to sew your basting stitches by hand.  Some times when machine basting through lace, you might find that the stitches "lock" so test it out first on a piece of scrap lace.

Baste along the curved edge of your strip

Create gathers, then press each strip flat.
 4. Stitch Ruffles onto the leg openings of your panties.  Starting about 1.5" up from the front crotch seam, pin the ruffle to the right side of the panties, along the leg opening.  The end should stop about 1.5" from the back crotch seam.  You may need to adjust the ruffles with your hands so that it is evenly distributed over the hip. The first ruffle will get stitched approximately 3/4" in from the raw edge of the leg opening of the panties, leaving just enough room to finish the leg openings with elastic for our final step.  Use a zig zag stitch to apply the ruffle. Apply one ruffle to each side in the same manner.

5. Stitch second layer of ruffles around leg opening.  Layering the second ruffle just above the first, stitch it down with a zig-zag stitch. Repeat on both sides.

 7. Apply Elastic around leg and waist openings using the instructions in your Jane Bikini Cut Pattern.

8. Finish with a bow or embellishments of your choice! Use satin ribbon to tie a bow and stitch on by hand.

Happy Sewing!

Thinking of the Mom's in my life, present and past.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Today is Mother's Day, a day with growing significance for me as my due date approaches and as I spend more and more time with my own Mom. This is a sweet day for those of us who get to spend time with our Mom's, but a sad day for those of us who no longer have her on our lives... I was browsing through some photos that I prepared for our wedding, and came across this snapshot of  my amazing Mom & Me playing in the backyard.  I must be about 1 here, and my mom would be about my age.  Gosh, we are cute! 

I've been kind of quite lately, partly due to being very busy but also because I am afraid that this blog will turn into one of those annoying pregnancy blogs (do they annoy you as much as they annoy me?). I will say that everything seems to be progressing well.  My belly sticks out now, which is weird for me, and I am feeling some pretty solid kicks in the lower right hand side of my belly which is a very strange feeling.  On May 28th, Dan and I are hoping to find out if baby is a boy or a girl and then we will start preparing the babys room. I'm always excited about a decorating project!  As things get farther along, my house is starting to feel smaller and smaller.  We've been looking at houses but haven't come across anything larger in a price that we can justify.  I love this house.  I have a feeling we'll be figuring out a way to add on somehow...

This weekend has been the first really nice weekend of the "summer" (it's not quite summer yet, but it feels like it today!). We cleaned up our front yard and gardens yesterday afternoon, and spent the morning downtown browsing through the little art galleries and had pastries at a nice little bakery.  I spent so much time outside I actually got a sun burn! Today we will try to tackle the back gardens and yard, which is a total mess.  The heavy snow from the winter partially collapsed a metal awning extending off the back of our garage. It's got rusty old nails sticking out of it and is tetanus waiting to happen, so I am hoping that will get taken care of today...

In Lingerie News, my spring collection has sold very, very fast.  I have been maintaining about 60 orders in queue, most of which are for several garments, so as you can imagine it's taking me a while to work through the backlog! In the meantime, I am STILL slowly working on Swim Patterns & Suits (ag! I feel so slow), as well as a mini summer collection to keep my shop stocked.  You can see the photo that inspired me below.  I've got some saturated florals, gingham print jersey, a large strawberry print, and some dainty floral lace on its way!

Image Source: Betty Le Bon Bon

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