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Collaboration Couture

December 30, 2013

Sewists, I bet this scenario is extremely familiar: A friend or relative finds out you sew, or sees one of your glorious creations, and the first words out of his or her mouth are "Will you make me something?"

Because I've been stitching for decades, I often hear this question. I've answered it in different ways throughout the years. In the beginning, it was always "Yes!" But after a few years of doing projects as favors, the idea of collaborating with someone who doesn't sew can lose its luster. There are a million reasons. People may not always realize just how much work goes into a garment, so you feel underappreciated. Or there may be an expectations management issue, where the person you're sewing for has built up the idea of the outfit in their head for so long that no reality will actually live up to it -- and then everyone's disappointed. And sometimes, there are cases where the item in question just isn't that interesting or exciting to you, so stitching it feels like drudgery. The list could go on. (Plus, I never envisioned a life of sewing for others -- I'm far too selfish!) 

But then, there are those times when you sew for a friend and the whole process is a delight. Those can make you feel like a magician. 

Because I am plenty busy in my life, it's extremely rare that I take sewing requests anymore. Almost everything I sew is for me or for a gift. But once in a while, when the right project comes along, I'll make room in the schedule.

When my friend Laura mentioned that she had designed a jacket, I was immediately intrigued. Laura's an incredible artist -- it's her job. She, like many of us, gets frustrated at seeing really cute clothes that don't fit normal humans. The jacket she had in mind was inspired by one she had seen online that only came in teeny-tiny sizes. Laura's an awesome person who always helps people out, and does a lot of good by donating her time to a local animal rescue. If anyone deserves to have a custom garment, it's her. 

When she emailed me her concept, I was super jazzed. Because it's a really cool design:

1-collaboration.jpg(See, I told you she has skills.)

What followed was a whirlwind of activity as we tried to get the project done before Laura flew out to the west coast to see friends less than a week later. There was frantic fabric sampling (we eventually landed on a dark plum corduroy for the exterior and a yummy printed charmeuse for the lining) and button selection and late-night texts about the placement of the braid trim.


We abandoned the motif on the back and the trim along the back seam of the sleeve, and opted to place the lacing grommets on tabs instead of working them directly into the seam as her initial drawings suggested. 

All said, we did three fittings in our brief assembly time, sometimes in the middle of the night to accomodate our slightly insane schedules. Many photos were sent back and forth via SMS, so there were no surprises. We made the deadline -- barely! (I literally delivered the finished garment to her just a few hours before her flight.) But the best part is the smile on her face when she's wearing her design.


3-collaboration.jpg4-collaboration.jpgDo you ever loan your time and skills to your non-sewing friends? If so, is it something you usually find frustrating or fulfilling? Share your experiences with us!

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This page contains a single entry by Holly Frey published on December 30, 2013 4:57 PM.

Feather and Fan Knit Pattern was the previous entry in this blog.

Sweater Knit Dress- Mad Men Inspired is the next entry in this blog.

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