New Listings In My Etsy Store!

It’s time for a girl who wants a summer vacation to sell some goods, so I have been thrifting and also weighing my own hoard  I mean, collections, for things that you want and need. Or just want. Which can be a need.

First, a stunning 1940s bracelet and earring set that I have had for *years* and worn exactly once. It needs a home where dangerous jewelry is collected, loved, and kept away from dogs and kids. My love for its beauty is never-ending, but it wants to live, live, live!

Below that, an astonishing normal–sized pair of 1940s suede heels. They are a vintage 9.5, which means they will fit your perfectly 8.5-9 feet. Perhaps you cannot appreciate the sadness with which we big-footed women approach vintage shoes, but they are all little tiny size 6 AAA and such. Why were vintage people smaller? I always say poor diet, but I am likely wrong. Big footed girls were shipped to the nunnery with boots to fit all feet, I guess. These are very, very special, let me tell you.

Next, a New-In-Box pair of Schiarapelli stockings in Black Nightingale, size 9.5. No, I don’t know how stocking sizes translate, sadly. These are nylon, and the black is a soft, soft darkness with strong purple tones. You might want to try wearing them with those shoes up there, seriously.

Oh, and then patterns. I wandered into a little thrift store so packed with shit one could hardly figure out where to look while in Taos, NM, last week. The proprietor was the dirtiest stoner I ever saw that owned a junk shop, and he had just a few sewing patterns lying about. I collected them, and then a piece of fabric (Dutch Wax, so exciting) and a top (New Romantics!). He said he had LOTS of old patterns at home and if I’d come back he’d bring them in. I happily agreed and he said he’d throw the ones I’d gotten in for free. Alas, I went back not one but two more times and the third time I was greeted by the other dirtiest stoner I’ve ever met who owned a junk store who said Stoner 1 wasn’t in. Oh well, one of those patterns is worth up to $75 so I guess it worked out.

Butterick 5955 late 60s or early 70s Jean Muir pattern is an Austin Powers costume prize, am I right? If you want to make your own vintage-look wardrobe, collect patterns or are a costumer, this one is iconic and extremely fun. Cheap, too!

Folkwear 108 Black Forest Smock, original from the 70s. Uncut, these patterns are very collectible and lucky for you I already have one, so this one can be passed on. McCalls is rumored to have finally bought Folkwear out, so this one is from a time when an optimistic independent pattern designer changed the game for costumers and home stitchers alike.

Vogue 2716 Badgley Mischka fishtail formal dress–given to me by an acquaintance having a yard sale (I accept gifts, you know, always). An uncut, out-of-print pattern that is timelessly flattering and graceful.

The total score from the Stoner, Vogue 2597 Givenchy Paris Designer Original. This baby is worth some cabbage, being uncut and designer and all. Now, before you feel sorry for the Stoner, I went by his shop three times in three days prepared to make him an offer of at least $50 for his box of patterns without sorting them first, and he squandered his opportunity. You smoke, you lose. At least if you are trying to remember where that box of old patterns is.

Finally, Vogue’s Basic Design 2412, uncut, a groovy 70s coat with an outstanding collar design you know you need in your life. You NEED it. Trust me.


Go Home 2016, You’re Drunk

How to sum up this past year?

It began with a 7-page email from my co-worker (the other costume designer with whom I worked all day, everyday for 6.5 years) telling me why she didn’t think I “deserved” to hold the title of Costume Designer, why she was more skilled than me, how she was the one who hired me, how she had to compensate for my lack of skill, how she was more educated than me, and more. She referred to it as a “Tune-Up”.

None of that was true, mind you, but she chose to put it in writing and do something that couldn’t be taken back.

I considered quitting. Instead I filed an internal complaint and agreed to voluntary mediation and in a three hour meeting HR explained to her and our boss (who egged her on in her belief that she was superior to me) that she and I? Equals. Equally qualified. Equally skilled. Our boss was so unhappy he used the last five minutes of the mediation to chastise me for something unrelated to the issue at hand. Then he proceeded to spend the rest of the year ignoring the parameters set by that meeting.

I had developed heart problems the past semester (exacerbated by bullying on the part of my co-worker and clashes with said boss) and had to have heart surgery in June. Said heart surgery kicked off a series of 14 migraines that lasted into the Fall. In a follow-up visit, the Electrophysiologist declared the heart surgery a failure, and sent me to Austin for a second operation that, instead of happening, turned into a gigantic, epic cluster fuck and we went home without surgery and with no faith in medical science.

On my 47th birthday, I got up and took my beloved dog, Trixie, to the vet to have her put down. My husband and I agreed to no more dogs for awhile, and I didn’t anticipate there even being a chance to get a new one until summer of 2017, since I would be working. Trixie left a HUGE hole in my heart–she, like all dogs, was one-of-a-kind. As any of you who are spoonies know, pets are a significant tool in the chronic pain and mental health toolboxes.

I went back to work on time, but emotionally exhausted. Then the new FLSA regs hit, and our University chose to use that for a cover to commit some dastardly acts. At the same time, my boss, in flagrant defiance of the mediation agreement, removed me as designer for a show and cancelled my makeup class for Spring of 2017. I filed a retaliation claim. HR divided my complaints, delaying my retaliation claim and instead pursuing a reclassification that, instead of upholding my position, resulted in a demotion. The title of Costume Designer was taken away; it seemed I was no longer qualified. Then the title of Costume Shop Manager was taken away; still unqualified. Then I was made a Costume Shop Specialist, and told that the job “is yours” but on paper the qualifications were such that I wasn’t even qualified for my demotion. I wept in public for the first time in my life (outside of weddings, funerals and the movies, anyway).

On any given day, I have issues with my heart, my blood pressure, chronic pain, joint injury, back pain, anxiety, IBS-D and more. But I kept plugging away and giving it my all. But. My blood pressure got too high. My heart rate got to too high.My anxiety got too high.  I took extended medical leave and sought a new therapist to deal with my anxiety and trauma due to work. On December 12, I “returned” from FMLA  (I would have normally been off), and was told by HR that I had to meet with my boss, but that HR could not tell me when they might be able to get to my retaliation claim.

So I resigned.

Subsequent meetings with an attorney suggest that I have a 50/50 sort of very complicated case, and in this post-factual era, complex issues don’t sell. Also, I don’t want to spend another two years going through litigation for a small settlement that still won’t ever amount to an expression of sorrow and regret on the part of NMSU, my boss and my co-worker. They will just all have to live with themselves and their karma. They SHOULD be really sorry for what they’ve done, but we all know how that goes.It’s not necessarily illegal to be a complete, gaping asshole on the personal and/or institutional level.

There were of course good things this year, too. My daughter got married. Art Quilting Studio invited me to submit my work and published it in their Winter 2017 edition. I got a puppy since, it turns out, I’m going to be home full time for the foreseeable future. For me, 2017 will be about healing the trauma from a dysfunctional, shitty work situation and the bullying I suffered at the hands of someone who let their insecurities get the best of them. I have already lined up a show at a local gallery in August, and so things will move forward. Right now, it all feels uncomfortable, sad and weird, but I’m doing it anyway.

Always forward. Never back. (hat tip Luke Cage)


OOTD My Own Design

This ensemble is one that Artful Blasphemy made in her home laboratory (Okay, Studio, but I was feeling like a Brit and like saying “LaBORatory”).

Sweater (which I did not make), thrifted at La Tienda de Jardin is cashmere by Prive.

Heathered sweater knit fabric was acquired at JoAnns, of all places. The vest has deliberate contrast in terms of grain line and lots of wispy tendrils, which are one of Artful Blasphemy’s stylistic hallmarks. Do dash over to my Etsy store to see some other tendrils….

The skirt has an applique, free form motif that reminds me of bubbles in liquid or maybe something coral-ly in the sea.

Taupe Fidji booties.

The vest I designed and patterned myself, the skirt I made with a pattern. One of the downsides of being a stitcher is that people naturally think that you would love to sew, oh, a knock off wedding gown for $50. Erm. No. Just no.

I charge $40 an hour for contract sewing, but I also have pricing baselines for jobs. This was learned the hard way, when I made a silk dupioni dress for a client (lined in charmeuse) that morphed from “make me a dress from this pattern” to “fully drafted pattern, 4 million fittings, three mock ups and endless styling advice”. The resultant dress was gorgeous and fit like a couture dress, but I got paid $350 (and I had to fight for that much) for about 40-60 hours of work. This is why couture costs you so much, like, $1600 much. AND the client insisted I give her the mock up so that she could re-make it for herself whenever she wanted.

I gave it to her, but only because at that point it looked like this:

Kathleen Mock Up 4

And, of course, it was in pieces since the mock up becomes the pattern for the garment.

Don’t take advantage of artists, you guys! Pay for quality and you will have some very fine clothes in your closet.