Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Start Of A Great New Year!!!!!!!

The first project for my new year (aside from my ongoing filling of custom orders) will be my first trip to Texas! Salome's suitcase is loading up the RV - thanks to Christina of Black Lotus Clothing- and we're heading out for Fort Worth Texas via Albuquerque, New Mexico! So if you are out that way, please come by and at least say hi and see what we are up to these days! Dont be shy - we LIKE knowing you!!!!!!!

Lots of sewing for the next few days - and lots of sewing in the RV as its rolling down the road! This is going to be fun for all!

I'll be bringing Sampants, the new Jessiepant, Bum Ruffles and whatever else I can squeeze into my suitcase!

And for those of you who have no idea who Salome's Suitcase is, we are a collective of adornment and apparel artists. We are united by a focus on unique design and quality craftsmanship!
We are:
Black Lotus Clothing
FoolProof Studios
HiBeam Bindis
Katherine Summer
Medina Maitreya
Minerva's Antenna
Rosehips Designs
Yasemin Yildiz

Contact us at:

The links for all are in the costumer/designer column on the right!!!!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Have A Very Fluffie Christmas!

Merry Christmas Everyone! Whatever you believe in, I hope you have a lovely day!

I personally opted out of the commercialism and toxic family functions years ago and choose to either spend it by myself or with good friends. Its a day of peace and quiet for me. I'll read and work on a dance costume for me today.

I finally got my Dickens outfit together and attended the Faire this year with my friend Erling. This was a huge accomplishment as I never have time for these things anymore. And I'm so glad I did. It wasn't quite as merry as I remember it from the old days (is anything ever), but it was merry enough and I had a good time. They do such a lovely job of giving us an old time Christmasie world for a month out of the year! A literal Christmas card event! It always helps to go with a dapper man with manners as well. I would love to vend there. It would be great if Salome's Suitcase could get in. I know we would be a hit. Well, I'll try to make it happen. Now THAT would be a blast!

And for those of you who have no idea who Salome's Suitcase is, we are a collective of adornment and apparel artists. We are united by a focus on unique design and quality craftsmanship!
We are:
Black Lotus Clothing
FoolProof Studios
HiBeam Bindis
Katherine Summer
Medina Maitreya
Minerva's Antenna
Rosehips Designs
Yasemin Yildiz

Contact us at:

Since my room mate is in Egypt right now, riding camels and all that fun stuff, I kind of didn't want to make a fuss with decorating. It seemed like a bother. But my friend Matt dragged a fake tree over on Christmas Eve that he had found in a box on the street.
I felt the spirit of Christmas take over and lead me to my box of decorations and my hand was forced to decorate this tree with scraps of fluffie Lace. Leave it to me to have a fluffie tree! I love it! Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Labor Of Love

Its been a while since Ive blogged - so much has been going on! Ive been vending and working on backorders and trying to get into the spirit of Christmas .......but only made it as far as Solstice!

First of all, my new little granddaughter was born last saturday. Ivy Skye. Fabulous name if I do say so myself! And she's awfully cute. Hopefully I'll go see her early next year.

I mentioned before, that I wasnt going to be making baby clothes. But I caved because of all the cute little vintage childrens' patterns out there. And the baby needs to be decked out. I mean, she just does.

I dug into my remnant bins and came up with a lovely grey/brown silk velvet that was used once several years ago to make a wedding coat for a lovely woman I know. I used a bit of blue silk velvet for the trims and bonnet. I made self covered buttons. I used up some of my bits and bobs and came up with a pretty cute little outfit. I wasnt sure if it would even fit as we usually pop out pretty big babies, but shes's a wee 7 pounds 14 oz. So no worries there. And worse case scenerio, she'll have doll clothes.

Then I took some scraps of Ariellah's wedding dress and made a little dress that resembles a christening gown, although that was not my intention. With a little china silk, I made a little slip - and there you go.......

And I vowed I would never do it again! (but Im always saying that about things) Its hard making baby clothes!!!!!! All those little pieces! Some of the pattern pieces were missing, so I did my best. Not so crazy about the neckline on the dress, but the directions on the pattern made no sense whatsover. Still, its pretty and the photos dont do it justice. I used this pattern for the coat and bonnet. The dress pattern seems to have disapeared. We didnt like each other!

Im sure I'll find the time down the road to make Ivy something cute now and then, but this was truely a labor of love! There is a reason these designer baby clothes cost so much in the boutiques!!!!!!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Boots N Bloomers

Yesterday I did a little photo shoot with my roommate Kristine - who is a fabulous photographer. So I was a little embarrassed to be taking such amateurish photos. A few turned out ok and I like this one of her boot with the ruffles peeking out from her leg. She stood like that on the stairs - not holding onto anything for quite a while and I was very impressed with her balance! But thats a dancer for you - very poised in the pose!

I just cant get away from the ruffles. Maybe I shouldn't even try. Not after I saw what was in the stores right now. Bloomers are not for everyone, baby! But for some of us, they might offer a nice solution to the ugly clothing dilemma for a bit. The shorter bloomers are so awesome with all the boots that are being offered this winter. You can wear them on their own or under a dress or skirt. I wear mine all the time!

And I'm just in that mood right now, with the holidays and Dickens Fair upon us. Fluffles and Ruffles..........very Victorian and charming!

Model: Krisine Adams

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Uncommon Fair Weather and my Lovely New Fairie Helpers

The weather is uncommon fair these days. I cant remember such a glorious morning as this one was today. The temperature was just the right degree of pleasant and it was windy - but a beautiful, warm, balmy kind of windy. I loved it. (can you tell I'm reading Dickens right now?)

And then Shelby came over this afternoon and made me a bazillion lovely little labels to put in all my garments. One of these days, I will actually get around to having grown up real life professional labels made again. But til then ..........Ive got great little home grown ones. And Im perfectly happy with them.

So I now have two wonderful interns who seem happy for now to sit and do my little sewing chores that I cant get to. It is helping me soooooooooooo much! Shelby and Amina: both belly dancers and both very proficient with their sewing skills. And it seems that I am helping them hone their skills far so good. A great trade!

Here is Shelby looking happy to be my helper!

And here is Amina - sorry for the blurry photo, but I like it! We'll see more of her soon!

Well, I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving. At least those in the U.S., that is. I don't really celebrate it - I have my issues with it all despite my being thankful for so many things. But I did roast myself a juicy little turkey because I just happened to be at the grocery store the day before and they were on sale for $7.00. Good thing too, because I didn't really plan for a holiday and it snuk right up on me with no food in the frig!

So now the stores are having their holiday sales and the madness is on. Even Etsy is pushing everyone to offer free shipping. But.......dudes.....(cant believe I just said "dudes").......thats a good chunk of change considering its almost $40 to ship to Australia - for some things. I just cant do it. And I did have a very successful September Sale. So I think Ive done my part to try to make everyone have a chance for some savings.

I have a lot of fun skirts, scarves, sleevelets, and a new style - the Jessiepant (a shorter version of the Fluffie Rufflie Dance Pants named after my neighbor Jessie - who commissioned a pair from me!) that are cut out and just waiting to be sewn up. I was trying so hard to have them done by December, but I don't think I'm going to reach that goal. Still trying though, and will be posting things on Etsy as usual when I can.

I am climbing up out of my custom orders. Still have a way to go, but almost everything has been cut up, bundled and awaiting construction. Ive been making headway and I think Ive cut the wait down a bit.

I put my custom ordering section back up in my Etsy shop, but I did make some changes. I had to raise some prices - not dramatically, just realistically. But I will take more measurements for some things, which will mean even better fit and offer more color choices with the velvet Sampants. Some of my sources are going away. Some fabrics are not as plentiful or at as good a price. I can make you amazing things, but the prices go up according to what it is and what it is made of. I expect that this will lessen the load of my custom pants somewhat, but the wait time will not be as long and I wont be feeling rushed all the time. At least that is the plan. And if you want something that I dont offer, you just have to pay for it. Thats the way the world goes round.

So that kind of made me sad because I wanted to make pretty things for everyone. But I cannot afford it any longer. :(

So lets drink lots of holiday cheer and remember what this season is all about. I am not being a good retailist here. I need to make sales in order to survive. BUT I hate the holiday pressure and there are so many now who just cannot make ends meet. Lets not make everyone feel stressed. Lets just do nice things for each other - like doing someones' dishes or sweeping someone's driveway or picking up trash so the street looks nicer .............little things like that that make life easier for everyone........Happy Holidaze!!!!!!!!!! Let the games begin!!!!!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

I Heart San Francisco or The Swine Flu of Fashion - Take Your Pick

I had to run errands downtown for two consecutive days in a row. The first day was to go shopping with my friend for a good bra to reconstruct into a suitable dance bra for restaurant gigs - easier said than done. I needed one too as I have, ahem, outgrown my old dance bras. This would be my dream come true, but the rest of me grew also, so it has been nothing to write home about. I found one at H&M - first one I tried on. Miracles of Miracles. THAT is a first! For my friend, we went to Macy's and Nordstrom as well. We found a great one at Macys and went home happy. Nordstrom's selection was sad. Old Navy - nothing. Ross - nothing. I got tired of looking, my feet hurt, and I had had enough of molded, uber padded ugly bras.

But since I have not been out shopping for clothing lately, I was horrified. This has got to be THE UGLIEST season I have ever seen. Oh, I'm not exaggerating. It was pathetic. Ugly colors. Ugly fabrics, Ugly combos, Ugly styles. Cute Ugly? Not even. I said on Facebook that I would rather run around naked than wear the sadness Ive seen. I always find cute clothes to look at and try on at Urban Outfitters - nothing. What is going on? Can someone fill me in? I usually find a few great things at least in every store - nothing.

So the next day was my appointment at the Apple store to have someone set me straight with my i phone. And they did. I was satisfied that I can start using it to its full capacity soon......except for the AT&T deadzone issue. yay?

And then I went and hung out at Britex for an hour or so. My blood pressure immediately went down as I walked through the doors and was met with smiles from people who recognise me. There were my wall to wall shelves of luxury fabrics! My heart soared as I found the most amazing silver fabric that could make someone a stunning stage costume. It took my breath away. I wish I had taken a photo. I chatted, caught up with the dish, shopped and had such a pleasant morning. I found everything I needed. And more. Thank you Britex. I love you.

But then I tried to find some fashion. I found some great shoes. Some great boots. Hue has some cute tights. But the jewelry bored me (except for the rhinestones and pearls). The handbags bored me. The clothing mostly bored me. Macys was ok. You can tell the economy has hit hard because there simply is not the selection. But what is everyone else's story? Is Butt Ugly really the new cute?

As they say...this too shall pass. Not every season can float my boat. But can we try just a little harder?

But two trips Downtown San Francisco did me good. It feels like a whole different city than where I live - even though its the same town. If I actually ever do leave this city one day, like I'm always threatening to do, my heart will stay here.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Oldie Worldie Charm

This lovely little bustier was sleeping unloved in my pile of unfinished projects. So I couldnt take it anymore and finished it off. It feels so good to finally get something done that Ive been meaning to do for years! I have much to still finish as far as orders go, but now and then, I have to take a few mental health hours and finish up a languishing pile of fabric. This is a corset, but Im calling it a bustier because it doesnt have steel bones - just a couple in the back for support. It is "heavily" boned with rigilene (dont shudder). Not how I usually make a corset  by any means - but this is a little thing to go over a skirt for dress up - not a period piece. Ive got it up on Etsy for a steal. This is not an upcycled bustier - this was made from scratch, for nobody in particular and never worn.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Pricey Is As Pricey Does and Other Things

I'll be vending with Salome's Suitcase at Tribal Fusion Faire! Cant wait! I hope I see you there!

Im putting cute little things up on Etsy as I can make them!


And I am getting my orders shipped out as fast as humanly possible! I tried to take a huge bag of packages to the Post Office this morning only to discover that its a holiday today and the doors were locked! Oh well, I tried. Tomorrow is another day!

These little baby bloomers (I mean - in general - not MINE) were all over the Spring Runway according to my new iphone app! Quite often paired with a tux jacket or some such thing - very cute and of course, not for everyone. But adorable nontheless! Im in love with my iphone. Ive said this enough and Im sure everyone is sick of hearing it. But the app is so much fun! When I need to take a break or wind down before I go to bed, I just check out the runway stuff. Im only about 1/3 of the way through. I get so much inspiration right now from this. My dream has always been to make uber expensive fabulous quality creations and have them on a runway. Well, one can dream. In the meantime, I will do what I can and try to keep making quality items for the best price point I can deliver.

And Now for a rant:
Once again, someone actually said to my face the other day that my things are pricey. I try not to get defensive. I try not to get upset. But this time, it hit me below the belt because it was said in front of other people and it was said in ignorance by someone who I felt should know better. I am not going to go over my pricing strategy here. Lets just say that by San Francisco standards, I am llving below the poverty line. Oh yes I am. If I sell you a garment for $75.00, you had better believe that I am not making $75.00 off that piece of clothing.  A friend of mine has been working on a pilot about how things are made. God, I hope it gets picked up because I want more people educated on this subject that I find fascinating!

I SHOULD be making more money - but so should MOST of us right now. Or at least some sort of reform should be happening with us so that we can all be living within our means. ( I know, I know....if wishes were horses....) Things will turn around one day as they always do, but please note, that when something is sold for a price, many things are factored in for resell. Fees, materials, electricity, transportation, rent, food, skill, labor...........makers do not just wiggle our noses like Samantha on Bewitched and magically a well made thing appears. (OH how I wish it could be done!) If you cant afford something that someone makes, well, just try to be tactful about it. We are struggling just as hard - if not more so. I cant afford things too - but at least I know that I am not the target customer. And I know what goes into making it. And I know that the person should make as money as they can - they worked damned hard to get to where they are.  There will always be something that is out of reach for someone. That makes the item all the more special. Because if it were accessable to everyone, it would be just like walking into Ross, Target, or Walmart. Not very special at all.

Rant over! I feel better now!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happiest Of Halloweens!

All I could do this year was dig through my closet. No new costume. But Im going out into the 21st century in a wonder. Moving staircases underground to a place far away in a matter of minutes. Blimey!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Etsy, Etsy, Etsy!

Ive got new things up on Etsy! Ive got a pile of skirts and pants ready to be sewn up in many sizes, and as soon as I get my back orders under control,  I'll post garments as I get to them!

SuperModel of the day: Lisa Hyde of Deshret Dance Company

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Cruel Universe

I swore - swore with all my heart and soul that I wasnt going to be one of those know - the ones who make baby clothes. I mean, then what next - DOLL CLOTHES? I know this makes me sound un-baby friendly, but this isnt the case. I love the cute little things, and I'll love my grandchild, but I dont want to be a designer of baby clothes. Thats not where my focus lies. And certain people are thinking that I just naturally will want to fill my spare time with making baby stuff. What spare time, I ask you..............

So what do I do? Buy baby clothes patterns. Now I have to dig out my vintage patterns and find the little girl dresses. Im starting to get obsessed. When am I going to have time to do all this sewing? I have no idea. But the bug has bit and now Im distracted by little tiny things. Tiny hats. Tiny dresses. Tiny coats. Tiny buttons. I guess she'll have to have a tiny pair of Fluffie Rufflies. A tiny choli. A tiny ghawazee coat.

I guess it could be worse.
I hope she likes to dance.
She'll have to learn to shimmy just like Grandmama.

If only I hadnt received funeral expense junk mail on the very day that my son announced that they were having a baby. Yeah. I kid you not. And an AARP card. Thanks, Universe! Thou Art So Cruel!

 I hate the sunflower hat - but I like the little baby bonnets. I see a future for all my scraps here!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Pricess Farhana's Words of Wisdom

The economy has been hitting everyone hard. Im feeling it. My designer brothers and sisters are feeling it. Some of us are wondering what the hell we are gonna do. Im not giving up, but Ive had my moments of "oh my God - do I have to go work at MacDonalds?" It always works out and I believe faith in yourself and what you are doing usually wins out in the long run. Still......its scary. And thats why if you are going to be having something made by me, you had better believe that I know you are usually spending your hard earned money on what is considered by you to be a luxury item. And you had better believe that I do my best to make it last. And if this means that you have to wait a while to get your garment or item - Im putting as much quality into this as I can, and this takes time.

I just found this article written by Princess Farhana, and Im passing it along to you dancers out there who are also stretched beyond your means and are wondering what the hell you are going to do as well:


People all over the globe, in every income bracket, are feeling the effects of the failing global economy… and belly dancers are no different! The belly dance world has been experiencing the fallout of this recession just like everyone else. Un-employment is high, and many are losing jobs. People are cutting back on necessities, not to mention luxuries and leisure expenditures. In general, it seems that belly dance students are attending less classes , and in turn, studios and instructors are experiencing lower overall attendance, which means less income. Restaurants and clubs have cut back on nights featuring live entertainers- belly dancers and musicians. Across the board, belly dance suppliers and vendors have noticed a drop in belly dance costume, prop, DVD and CD sales. Merchants are complaining about having less buyers, and buyers themselves are frustrated that they can no longer afford “luxuries” like belly dance costumes, DVD’s, and the like.

Yes, our county’s financial situation is dire, but there are things we can all do to make sure we can keep our careers, favorite hobby or dance practice alive. Sometimes, it just requires a little monetary juggling or re-thinking where and on what you are spending.

When I first began dancing almost twenty years ago, I was in a rock ‘n’ roll band, already leading the life of a “starving artist”… in other words, I was flat broke! Out of necessity, I had to get really creative about the ways I was going about moving my dance career forward, and figure out means for taking classes, getting myself costumed, and promoting myself. It was always a scramble to do this on a practically non-existant budget, but somehow I made it happen.
Recently, I began to recall all of the things I did “ back in the day”- my tricks for cutting corners and being able to afford music and costumes so I could do to achieve my goals… and I thought perhaps some of this might help other dancers get through these financially tough times, so here are some ideas.

There are many things you can “afford” by using barter or trade, and that includes your continuing dance education! Ask your local studio if you can trade some volunteer time in exchange for classes…maybe you can offer to tidy up the studio, or sit at the desk to take attendance for regular classes or workshops, or do office/ administrative work in exchange for classes.
Want a private class but can’t afford one? Think of what you could offer your teacher. If you have a skill, it could be a straight exchange: are you a photographer, make-up artist, seamstress or web designer? Any of these talents could be traded for belly dance lessons. Or perhaps you speak French, or are good at gardening, book keeping, child-care- whatever! Think of the skill set you have and see if they could possibly be performed in exchange for private dance lessons.

Make a Dance Play Date with a friend. This is like a private lesson, essentially: two dancers get together and figure out what they want to learn from each other, book an hour or two of rehearsal time in a studio (or just get together at someone’s house) and give each other a private lesson in each other’s specialties, say sword technique for fan tips, Hip Hop or jazz dance know-how in exchange for a Saidi choreography, even a Cabaret and Tribal movement swap. We all have skills and talents that we want to learn or wouldn’t mind sharing. Just ask!

Carpool to classes- enough said! This saves on gas and gives everyone a chance to socialize and hang out, too. You can also car-pool to major dance events, and for road trips, of course, share hotel rooms. Bring along cooler or two and save some dough by bringing along your own water, snacks and munchies. This is usually healthier-and way less expensive- than buying food on-site at dance events.

Many instructors are happy to give private lessons to two students at a time, or even a small group, for the same price that a single person would pay. Ask around about it and you might be able to get private instruction for less than the cost of a regular class.

Combine printing and promo costs. Say you and a friend both want business cards- print them double-sided (one dancer per side) and split the cost down the middle. If you have an event coming up that is fairly close to another scheduled event, contact the other promoter and see if there is a way to cut promotional costs by sharing a website, graphic designer or by printing up both events on one flyer or post card. This will reduce your expenses, and also open you and the other person up to a whole new range of potential students, business contacts, or ticket-buyers.

Share props and costumes with your trusted friends. Own a shamadan but need some fan veils for an up-coming performance? See if anyone would be interested in a temporary prop-swap…this would save you having to buy the props if you are only going to use them a couple of times.
If you are ordering a set of Isis Wings in silver, see if someone else in your area has them in gold (or red, or whatever) and ask if she would be willing to trade them on a per-performance basis, so they could be used by each of you with more than just one costume…and you wouldn’t have to spend on two sets of wings! Or, you and a pal or two could go in together on buying an expensive costume or prop, and decide who gets to use it and when. Some friends and I were all going to buy expensive Sally Rand Ostrich plume fans, and before buying them, we all co-coordinated who ordered what color so we could interchange them for various shows based upon our individual costume needs.

As someone who makes a living from teaching dancing both live and on DVD, I don’t at all advocate illegal copying of any DVD’s or CD’s… but I do think it’s perfectly fair for individuals to buy instructional or performance DVD’s and CD’s and share them with each other. Either swap your DVD’s after a few viewings or have a “workshop” day or “DVD party” at your house and invite a couple of dance pals over to view the latest instructional or performance DVD.

Make sure to take care of all your costumes and props, keeping them clean, repaired and in working condition. This will help not only in extending the “life span” of whatever you own, but should you decide to sell it, it will keep the re-sale value of the item higher.
Hand-wash your work-out and class wear- this will not only save on energy and electricity bills, but the garments will last longer, because the color and fabric fibers get broken down in the clothes dryer.
Belly dance costumes can also be hand-washed , too, and a clean costume will definitely last longer. Many dancers are afraid to try it, but do a spot test first, to make sure the color won’t run. To wash your costume, fill a bathtub about a quarter full with cool water and a very mild hand-washing dtergent, like Coollove or Woolite. I myself use baby shampoo. Just swish the costume around a little, rinse very well, and lay it flat somewhere safe to dry. On highly embellished costumes, this may take up to a few days, but the costume –and it’s fringe-will sparkle like new.

Think of ways you could re-work older costumes to make them new and fresh again. Replacing worn-out fringe - or even taking fringe off completely- can make it look new again, and costs much less than buying a new one! Gather up all your un-used veils and sew them into a full gypsy skirt… if you have a costume with sleeves, see if they can be removed and made into gauntlets… try dying older or stained veils- most dye well, and the sequins will retain their original color…mix and match the costume pieces you already have and see if you can come up with new ways to wear them.
Get your wigs and falls re-styled instead of buying new ones. This will not only prolong their life-span, but is much less expensive.
Re-sole your suede-soled dance shoes with a thin layer of “dance rubber”- this will extend the life of the shoes as well as protect your feet.

Sort through your costumes mercilessly and figure out what you can part with. Sell old items or those that never fit quite right on the Internet, or in your local dance studio. You can definitely “find” some money this way- or be suddenly able to afford a new costume.
Organize a costume; accessory and prop swap with your dance friends- one dancer’s trash is another gal’s treasure!
Shop at second-hand stores for old evening dresses or accessories that can be used to make or enhance costumes. Take a hard look at what you own, or what you want or need, and figure out a way to get it, either by making it, or incorporating it in some way…like cutting off appliqu├ęs from a brides maid dress you bought at a garage sale!
Ask your local dance studio or gym if they have a discount “class card” or will offer a special price on a block of classes paid in advance. Many studios and gyms do this already.
If you are professional dancer, you might already know that larger companies like Capezio or Mac Cosmetics offer a substantial professional discount if you present a business card, or register into a “Pro” program. Work this option, girl!

Many on-line vendors have a mailing list you can sign onto that will notify regular customers of costume and prop sales- sign up and save some serious greenbacks! As for festival vendors, if you are coveting a pricey costume you can always have a word with the vendor about your purchasing options- some vendors may reduce the item’s price after a few months, or be willing to charge less if you pay in cash, or will put it on lay-away for you.
Explore ordering belly dance supplies whole sale. You and a few friends want new hip scarves, CD’s or need finger cymbals? Contact vendors and see if it’s possible to get a wholesale price on an order with multiple pieces.

If you have dance items, props, craft supplies or even old materials or trims you are not using, consider donating them to a student dance troupe, local theater companies, drama classes, kid’s day camps or even women’s centers. It will not only clear out your closet, you will have the great satisfaction of knowing that someone will be getting some good use out of whatever you don’t need!
Above all, don’t let the bad economy prevent you from doing something you love! Have fun, get creative and keep belly dancing! The world- no matter what the financial climate- will be a better place because of you!

Friday, October 23, 2009


Ive been on a pattern buying binge again. I got this pattern on Etsy and the seller is in my faves. I like the round helmet. Not so fond of the rest of the hats offered, but the helmet will do me just fine. What I want is a 20's style cloche. I dont want a pdf pattern - I wanted a good old fashioned tissue paper one. I almost bought a cloche the other night, but it was a tad too small with my dreads. I just need that basic head shape and Im too time challenged to start from scratch - even though it would be easy enough, I suppose. I can tweak this one into something fun for the new vintage inspired fall wardrobe that will magically appear in my closet one day soon.

Never give up hope.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Sexy Severe

I bought this pattern on Etsy today. (its in my faves if you want to find the seller) I love the vintage pattern illustrations. This one grabbed me. Was it the red dress? The high neckline and somewhat sexy severe look? The ridiculously unreal wasp waist? The sleeve length? The fantabulously full skirt? The great cut?

All of the above. Another good basic for me to tweak and make into something fun one of these days!


Im not sure if everyone knows, but Samantha Emanuel is the namesake for the SamPants and they were originally her idea. She needed something fun to practice and teach workshops in. We ran ideas back and forth and I made a couple samples and she decided on a final product. For lack of a better name, we called them Sampants - the name stuck, people saw her wearing them and that was that! The ruffles have changed a bit since, the fabric choices as well. Ive been making a lot of them and improving them as I can, but the original was Samantha's idea.

In fact, the whole fluffy thing started - at least for me, with a bin of my lace and Sam needing something to audition in for the BellyDance SuperStars. I know Ive written about this before, but I like to give her credit when I can because she really brought me to a different level with my business. Shes' such a lovely person!

Samantha will be back in the spring to teach at Tribal Fest 2010! A lovelier lady there cannot be!

In this photo, Sam is wearing a lush stretch velvet version of Melodias. I have been telling everyone that I wont make them - and in truth, Ive only made a few pairs for BDSS ladies. But if you want flairs and can afford a custom pair of pants, call me. This stretch velvet was very pricey - purchased at Britex. I have no other source for the really nice, thick stuff. Oh, but they are amazing on!

Sam's vest is black silk velvet: boned front, sides, and back in Victorian fashion, and fully lined. She took some Victorian doilies, vintage buttons and embellished the vest just beautifully. I would like to make more, but simply have not had the time. :(

Someone asked me why I boned this vest so much if its just a costume for stage, so little, and who would even know - why put all that effort into such a little thing.

If you have ever held a weighted dress, or anything put together with steel bones, you would know that it FEELS good to wear! It has weight, foundation, substance. It looks nicer on the body. It holds its shape and you move differently in something well made. Well, thats my theory anyway. And I know that I, personally, move differently in better made clothing.

Silk velvet is amazing. The good, thick, heavy stretch velvet is amazing. These two do not seem a good match, but both together can be stunning in a tribal costume!

Model/dancer: Samantha Emanuel
Photo: Polstar

Saturday, October 17, 2009

I just like looking at my stuff sometimes. It makes me happy.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

KathleenCrowleyCostumeCouture And The Great Black Lotus Clothing Collaboration

Finally! A few moments to blog about the beautiful dress I made together with Christina Molcillo of Black Lotus Clothing!

Ariellah came to Christina to have her make a dress for her September 2009 Wedding. Christina designed the dress but decided to enlist me in the making of the body of the dress itself and she would embellish it and do the sleeve details. How could I resist!

Ariellah and Christina went to Lacis in Berkeley, then purchased the most exquisite antique trims and textiles to create the Art Nouveaux feel that was desired! Vintage tulle with huge pearls - so fragile and lovely! Black jet appliques and all kinds of sweet goodness!

Then Ariellah came to me with her idea, She wanted to somehow incorporate her mother's wedding dress into her gown. While this was not the original idea ( the original was very simple and far less time consuming), I could not resist. I'm a sucker for this kind of thing! There really wasn't enough yardage in the mother's dress to create the fullness needed for Ariellah's dress, so we compromised and I used the bodice of the old dress and created the base of the new bodice with it. I used as much as I could of the old dress as interlining and facings. I think this is all very symbolic and pushes good Karma points towards building a new foundation for the bride's new life. Call me sentimental and superstitious!

I put my two cents in on a few design factors that I wasn't sure would work well, and between Christina and I, we came up with what you see in the photo. Now, the model is not Ariellah, and I do hope that I get a photo of her soon, but the fit is close and you get the idea - just gorgeous! And very much like Christina's original sketch.

Christina and I took the dress back and forth to each other after we did some shopping together for the fabrics. We ended up deciding on a gorgeous silk charmeouse at Thai Silks in Los Altos. Much of the tattered lace was purchased by Christina near her home and we all got together for several fittings, which went really well. I purchased a lightweight lining fabric and boned the sides and back of the dress. Christina tea stained all that yardage to give it a more vintage feel. I cant believe how she stained all that yardage in one batch so evenly - there was really only one spot that looked a little blotchy and I was able to work around it. I was verrrrrry impressed!!!

I carefully took her mother's dress apart. If you have ever taken apart a vintage garment, you know how tiny the stitches are and how easy it can be to rip into that old taffeta. Now, I love doing this kind of stuff, but you have to be so careful. It can be very painstakingly slow at times when you come up on a backstitch or something.

I flat-lined the charmeouse with a fabric of similar weight, then incorporated the mothers dress in on top of that when I could. I felt that the dress was going to need to be flatlined as we wanted that shimmery drapey feel, yet it needed body to hold up under all that lace, applique, and beading. We considered other fabrics, but this seemed to be the best solution for the feel of the dress.

I took Ariellah' measurements and made a mock up that fit like a glove. We made notes on the dress with a sharpie pen. I raised and squared off the neckline. I put more ease in the armholes. That step in the process went well.

The only real problem we had with this was that Ariellah was out on tour a lot and I would have preferred that she be around for more fittings. As this was a skin tight dress gown, she had to be careful not to gain or lose any weight. But we did what we could with time constraints, and by the time my job was done with the gown, Christina had plenty of time to add on all that gorgeous vintage tulle and tatter all that beaded lace. You cant really see the detail, but Chris's work was fabulous!

I felt like this was a successful collaboration. I thought the dress turned out beautifully. And the bride was lovely inside and out!

I'll post a photo of Ariellah in her dress as soon as I get one!
photo: Christina Mollcilo

A Collar Well Turned

There is nothing like a well turned collar.

I copied a raincoat for a woman in this lovely wool. Her original coat was that awful plastic that after a while just starts disintegrating. The collar was a metallic plastic that was eventually all over everything in my studio. It was flaking off and falling apart before my eyes - it was one of the strangest things I had ever seen. I dont know what could have caused that to happen. Body acids? Heat from sitting in the trunk of a car for months? It kind of grossed me out. But I gritted my teeth and set out to do what I said I would. This was the first time that I have ever been happy to use my little cotton gloves!

I made the pattern directly off the ratty raincoat. I didnt take it apart, but long ago learned how to take patterns from garments. It was a great design with hidden buttons down the front, so I could see why she wanted another one. Its a very flattering shape. I flat-lined the wool in a lightweight cotton to give the wool some body. I'm a huge fan of flat-lining. This is where you sew or baste two pieces of the same shape together to give a lightweight fabric some body and allow it to do what you want it to do - rather than sag and droop. I like hand basting all pieces together as this gives me better control of the fabric when Im working with it. It also has a better drape. Its more work, of course, but the end result is nicer. As you can see in the front of the coat, there is some puckering at the bottom where I topstitched and that had to be fixed of course before sending it out. This coat was lined in a butter colored silk.

I love making coats. I love working with wool. And I never used to, but I sure love a good plaid.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

I Want You To Jump For Joy

This is how I want everyone to feel when they wear my things. I want them to feel alive! I want them to jump for joy!

Thank you Brenna Crowley, for sharing your photo with me!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Rumination Of The Day

OMG - I do apologise to any of you who I have not returned a message to - or invoiced like I said I would. I have been having email problems and all kinds of nonsense - like colds and vending misadventures. So I spent hours trying to catch up today, but its looking like it will take a few days more. Such is life. And of course, this takes out of my sewing time. I had Kae helping me with the admin for a while, but it ended up that I had to put my money towards sewing help. I miss Kae and I feel bad. Hopefully this economic downslide will slow down some. I think it already has.

Lara of Barefoot Belly Dance just sent me this photo of her in my Fluffie Pantaloons. Just Lovely! Photo by Mark Slagowski

I do see signs of recovery, but its going to be slow going. Im glad everyone got to get some Fluffies and Sampants at a discount last month (or I should say, ordered at a discount). This was great. And now Ive got to run to catch up. Always running....isnt that the way......always worrying that I'm going to make someone mad or upset because they have to wait. But this isnt mass production. Like my room mate says....Bird By Bird.

We're having a Salome's Suitcase meeting tonight to discuss our January road trip to Texas. Im so excited I could SQUEEK! God, I LIVE for this stuff! Its going to be fun bringing our wares to a part of the country I personally have never been to!

I must say, being able to tweak how my blog works - so easily is making me a little giddy!

Plague Day. I Mean Art Day.

Well. I'm sick with the plague thats going around and I was just too ill to vend at Sigil, although my things were at the Salome's Suitcase booth. I vended at Baxtalo Drom the night before at the DNA with SS and I had a little fun, but thought I was gonna die. If you saw me slumped over my iphone in my section, that was me trying not to die! I kept gravitating to the hats at the table next to ours that were a wee bit too small for my dread head, or I would have spent all my money that night on adorable cloches.

I have so much to blog about, and just have not had the time. Id like to write about Ariellah Affalo's wedding dress, my September Sale, my impending search for a bigger studio now that I'm all settled into my abode, my crazy neighborhood, my desire to continue dancing, my approaching grandmotherhood,; the state of the world, the state of my wardrobe, the state of YOUR wardrobe - and so much more. There is just no time for it all right now - because I have to sew up all this stuff that everyone ordered last month! What was I thinking!

Today was art day at Albion House. Kristine made art from bones and hearts and I put lace and buttons on some vests that I FINALLY finished. I should have been doing about a million other things, but I know I got this nasty cold because I needed to slow down. And this is exactly what I did. Sometimes nothing satisfies me more than sitting down and doing hand embellishing while watching murder movies on tv. . I don't get to do enough of this. I have learned from watching so much murder and survivor tv that in order to survive an attack from another human, you have to either fight back or play dead - and I guess you have to use your instincts on which to choose. Lets hope none of us ever has to worry about that - but I find I cant stop watching it!

Not a lot of energy for much else tonight, I redid my blog. Being technically challenged and having an old geezer computer, I thought I was heading for trouble, tears, and hair pulling - because some things are just best left alone. However, I couldn't resist. I discovered Shabby blogs last week and they made it so easy to change my blog's look, that I might just redo it every now and then when I need that "facelift". I don't like the white background, but its alright for now. I'm just so glad I found some templates that were fun and easy to use. Its like a little perk that I never expected would happen!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Salome's Suitcase

Salome's Suitcase will be at Sigil this Saturday night - October 10th!
Lots of beautiful, high quality, artisan made items for your perusal!

Medina Maitreya
Katherine Summer
HiBeam Bindis

Metro Opera House
630 3rd street
Oakland, Ca.

Photo: Christina of Black Lotus Clothing
Model: Sarah White

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Lucky Road

I dont know how I ended up vending at two fabulous events in a row, but I sure did! I'll be at Medina's table, along with some of Salome's Suitcase. (although we mostly are not vending together as a collective this time)

Im going to have to think of something fun to wear! Maybe my new black rayon Fluffie Rufflie Pantaloons! THE most comfortable things to wear on the planet!
See you there!

The Lucky Road
October 9th
DNA Lounge
San Francisco

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


I and many of Salome's Suitcase will be vending at Sigil!
This is going to be an amazing event!
And Salome's Suitcase's beloved Rose Harden will be performing as well!
Such fabulous entertainment!
This will surely get you in the Halloween spirit if you are not there yet!

Metro Opera House
630 3rd street
Oakland, Ca.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

R.I.P September - Three Days Left!

Woah! September has simply been insane. Mercury Retrograde - especially hard on Geminis this month (yours truly) - and everything that can and would go wrong has done its best to do so despite my best efforts!

Mechanical difficulties
Communication problems
Near death for a family member
travel issues

Good God - but its almost over and I cant wait!!!!!

But so will my Sale be as well!
Three more days to take advantage of having something made at 15% off!!!!!!
Three more days to grab something off my Etsy shop!

The Sale has been an ASTOUNDING success and I thank you all! So now its nose to the grindstone and get your things to you asap!

So September has had its ups and downs, and the downs were dramatic as were the ups!
Halloween is coming and I'm so into it! I'm going to go break out my box of Halloween decorations soon and deck the halls! Maybe its time for new strings of lights!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Seeking Interns

I'm looking for an intern or two. This will be an unpaid gig to start. If you can get up to speed and show me that you mean business, it could turn into a paid position. In exchange for slave labor, I will buy you lunch, force you to hone your skills, give you some industry dirt, and stuff they don't teach you in school. Sometimes college credit can be arranged. You need to live in or around San Francisco - I'm very close to Bart in the heart of the Mission and on a major bus line.

email me at

Resume not required, but be prepared to show me examples of your work, have character references if I do not personally know you, and explain briefly who you are and why you would want to work for me.

Friday, September 4, 2009


My SultrySeptemberSale is now in progress!

Fancy emails sent - check!
Posted announcements everywhere I can think of - check!
Prices changed in my etsy store - check!

Im offering 20% off all pre-made merchandise and 15% off all custom orders through the month of September!
Thats 3 and a half weeks of great deals for you!!!!!
Hopefully this will help in this time of stress!!!!!!

Keep checking in as I am going to be posting new marked down goodies as the days go by! Message or email me if you are looking for something that I dont have listed!

Also, if you purchased something recently in the last couple weeks, remind me and I will reimburse you a little something (because I feel soooooo guilty that you missed the sale!)

Also, last, but not least, my red and white striped Sampants were recently featured in
Etsy Lounge! This is a great blog created by Etsy's own ArtsyPicks! She features all kinds of wonderful hand made goodness from Etsy in fun groupings!

My Etsy Shop

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Pre Sale Trauma

I got it in my head that I should have a sale. And I have had one or two before with good results, but it isn't something that I do too often. This time, I thought I would go for one of those fancy emails that actually make you want to look at the ad. And I thought that by NOW I should have all this computer stuff down and this thing would be a snap. little beloved emac is just too old now to handle much of that fancy computin that was so easy back in its day. God. We all get old. But its hard to watch. And to think that I was actually afraid to touch it when I bought it. Now I'm afraid it might have a heart attack.

So it took me a long time to make my fancy little email, but I think it looks kind of cool. And I'm going to launch my sale tomorrow (Friday) - so if anyone is reading this, and wants to sign up to be on my email list, you can do it here on my blog and I can send you updates - more stuff to clog up your inbox. But at least I'll try to make it fun to read. (or you can come here).

It wont take me the better part of a week to figure it out next time either. And maybe my new computer will magically manifest itself soon. Oh please, don't die little emac! We have been through so much together and I still need you!

Sale starts tomorrow! I'll be cranking out work this weekend and still running to catch up! But its a good run and it keeps me out of trouble!

One of these days I will have to update my blog and make it fresh and sparkly, but that is going to have to wait for a while.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Bridal Couture Collaboratin'

Today I will be finishing those 5 projects that I said I would be finishing yesterday. It seems that I get started on something and I get distracted. Perhaps its ADD. Perhaps it is just living in this harried modern lifestyle where everything seems to have to happen NOW and you have to make choices. Someone or something always gets put on the back burner unintentionally.

This has been a slow summer, business wise. Its still there. I'm not going down. But the world is living in fear right now and luxury items just are not on the top of every one's agenda at the moment. And for as hard as I try to keep my costs and prices down, the quality of what I make puts it in the realm of luxury item for many. If times were more affluent, you had better believe my prices would be way higher right now. And worth every penny. Ive seen whats out there. So get it while we are on the downside if you can! Seriously!

This week will be spent on finishing my part of the creation of Ariellah Affalo's wedding dress. Ive been in a collaboration with Christina of Black Lotus Clothing. We have been on buying trips together for fabrics and shuttling this dress back and forth while juggling Ariellahs' fittings. She has been out of the country or getting ready for all of her many projects - as well as preparing to get married in September! Oy! But I really enjoy working with Christina. She is super, super lovely! (And so is Ariellah! I adore her!)

But the whole wedding outfit is just gonna be gorgeous. It already is. I cant wait to see the wedding pictures!!!! As you can see in the above photo (yes she is wearing the Fluffie Rufflie Dance Pants!) she could wear a burlap bag and still be stunning, so you can see how excited I will be to see her wedding photos! And you had better believe that I will post those pics asap!!!

So there is that to finish up this week AND get some new merch. sewn up for Prepare For The Playa. I don't know how I'll get it done, but who needs sleep anyway!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Corsetry Day Today

Its lazy hazy summer in San Francisco today. I didn't want to get out of bed this morning and neither did any of the pets. Usually someone is up and at em by now, but the roomie is off teaching somewhere for a FCBD General Skills week and I must have been using her a.m. schedule as my alarm clock!

Today is my designated corset making day. Molly just got a real job and wont be sewing for me any longer so we are doing corsetry 101 before she goes off to her new life. I have a Victorian style mock up to make - as well as a waist cincher and hopefully I can get going again on a Victorian for me.

I'll soon be posting on Craigslist for a part time production sewer. Just one offs - or small lots. I would like someone who can speak and understand English, and not just have good sewing skills, but can crank stuff out with good quality control. Home sewers need not apply unless you have had production training. I cant afford to teach anyone new tricks at this point! I would prefer this person to make a few things here so I can show just how I like things done and then they can take it home for piecework. If anyone knows of anyone in SF who would qualify, please let me know! This person must have at least an industrial straight stitch and serger.

I often get people offering to help me cut and sew, but its just not the same as home sewing. You actually have to know the tricks of the trade and know how to crank stuff out. You have to know how to cut and sew accurately and quickly. Ive had interns and I may do this again, but this would slow me down right now. So for all the good intentions - and Ive tried hiring friends and home sewers - no offense, but I cant afford the slowdown!

I'm actually wishing I could clone myself in a body that's much younger, but don't we all!

So corsetry day is upon me. I coffee stained the one in the picture because I wanted it pretty ratty looking and distressed. I added lots of lace and trim and pearls. I'll make a skirt to match and post it on etsy one of these days.

I made a lot of black Sampants and they sold out before I could post them up on etsy. So I went and got more fabric yesterday and will try to cut it all out at some point this week.

What I really need to do very, very soon is to have someone clean up the patterns that I have been using, grade them properly (or again), get them up to speed so that I can hand them and fabric over to a cutter and have this all done for me. I am about to that point now. Its either do this right or do something else because its just all too much for one person to juggle. And why have I not done this yet? Well, its always a case of being able to afford takes a lot of money to make a line of clothing.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Its been slow in coming. but Im starting to post some new merch up on etsy!
For all you lovers of a good stripe, I have a very small run of striped Sampants. This is what I have left over from vending at the SF Mecca Bazaar. Since my studio is belly dance central half the time, sizes get snapped up before I can get them listed online. When that proverbial ship comes in, I'll be able to produce items more quickly and in greater number. But til then, its a series of limited items, small runs, and custom orders.

These are great for Burning Man by the way!

Happy August! It is starting to fly quickly by!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Prepare For The Playa

I dont know why this photo comes out blue when I upload it - but go here for the website!

Its time to start getting your playa groove on.........I'll be vending at Prepare For The Playa with Black Lotus Clothing on August 22nd!

I'll have more Sampants
Tops - I'll have some tops this time - I promise!
Baby Bloomers
Hip wraps and scarves to keep the dust out!

Prepare For The Playa
Saturday, August 22nd
Artist Grotto and North Parking Lot
Sports Basement
1590 Bryant St. SF

Free Entry - so no excuses!!!!!

Hafla Tonight

I should have posted this a while ago, but I was just too busy to do much blogging til I took my much needed day off yesterday!

Gibson Pearl and Wendy Marlatt will be performing as well as many more, Im sure!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

A Good Day Off

I took today off. Yes I did. I went to see the Richard Avedon Exhibit at SF MOMA. I didn't know I was going to see it - I just knew I was going to free day at the museum, so this was the icing on the cake!

And I saw the Georgia O'Keefe exhibit as well, but she doesn't float my boat like Richard does.


Then I went home and sewed sequins and buttons onto a shoulder bag, blogged, and made silly comments on facebook.

A good day off. I'll have another one day.........