15 Things You Can Put In A Mobile Sewing Kit And 2 Ways To Create a Part Time Sewing Job…

mansons pants

Repairs to Marilyn Manson’s Pants at the Hard Rock Live in Orlando, Fl

A lot of people use Craigslist to offer their sewing services, but what I’ve done has separated me from the crowd by offering mobile services. I get calls, all the time for last minute, emergency and urgent mobile sewing gigs. If you know how to sew, do laundry, iron, steam clothing and help people get dressed or quick change and you’re interested in making some extra cash, pack yourself a sewing “gig bag” and put an ad on Craigslist to offer mobile sewing services to take your show on the road!

Here’s How I did it:

By using a free Craigslist ad, I began posting in 2008, it helped me to consistently build my sewing business, to the point where I could quit my “day job”, sew for a living, set my own schedule and pick and choose my work.  My Craigslist ad lead me to many amazing opportunities. I used the “creative services” category for all my posts and included photos of my best work, which I updated frequently and reposted as needed, when the old ads expired.

My Craigslist ad got me the “in” I needed, by being mobile and led me directly to my sewing work on A List Concert Tours, Broadway Theater Productions, working with Celebrities, Fashion Shows and even Weddings. I have acquired many private clients, built an impressive resume and created a photo portfolio of my sewing work, which I use all over social media.

Here’s what I carried in my mobile sewing kit; There are all kinds of divided containers, fishing tackle and craft boxes and rolling suitcases you can use to keep everything mobile and organized.

A list of items for a basic kit:

1. Reliable Portable Sewing Machine and Serger if needed. I use and old school Kenmore from the 70’s and a mid priced Singer Serger, which I usually leave in my car unless they request it. Computerized sewing machines tend to get fussy if you move them around too much, so I recommend a simple basic sewing machine with a straight and zig zag stitch. (I used to use a $200 Brother Project Runway Special Edition Sewing Machine for 3 years that I paid $50 for, on sale at Walmart!!)
2. Scissors for paper and fabric
3. Seam Rippers
4. An Assortment of Thread (I like the Geuterman box of 26 from Joann Fabrics http://www.joann.com/gutermann-26-spool-thread/9284811.html#close)
5. Elastic in black and white in various widths.
6. Notions including snaps in all sizes especially “whopper poppers” (the quarter size), hooks and eyes/bars in small to large sizes, buttons, etc
6. Velcro in at least black and white
7. Sewing Pins, Pin Cushion
8. Large Safety Pins
9. Tailor’s Chalk wheel or other marking devices for alterations
10. Hand Sewing Needle Assortment
11. Lint Roller
12. 120″ tape measure
13. Hem Gauge
14. Flashlight (in case you end up working backstage or quick change)
15. Sewing Apron, cargo shorts/pants or fanny pack bag for having supplies on you

Other items I’ve been known to carry:

1. Pattern Making Materials and Supplies
2. Small sizes of Laundry Supplies including an assortment of stain removing agents, baking soda, salt (for use with fabric dye) vinegar, Ivory Bar Soap, Hair Spray (removes ink), denture cleaner (removes dingy from whites), magic eraser, 90% alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, etc
3. Steamer, Iron, Spray Starch
4. Rubber gloves in case I have to dye fabric or deal with a smelly mess
5. Muslin, jersey, denim scraps
6. Double Stick Wardrobe Tape
7. Zippers

Here’s a basic price list for mobile sewing services:

$16+ an hour for dressing and quick change assistance and general services like laundry, ironing and steaming clothing or costumes that don’t require you to bring anything with you. Just show up and work.

$25 an hour for sewing related and runner services, which can include picking up fabric, notions and other materials or supplies needed by the client. I usually include gas, tolls and mileage as long as it’s not excessive. Otherwise you can add those expenses.

$35 an hour to show up and sew, make patterns or do draping on their provided sewing equipment, etc.

$50 an hour to bring your own mobile sewing equipment and supplies to sew on their site or location.

Time and a half for over 8 hours is customary, however overtime pay after a 10 hour work day is the law.
“Florida law states that a legal day’s work for a manual laborer is 10 hours (FL Stat. Sec. 448.01). Unless there is a written contract that specifies otherwise, the employer is not permitted to require manual laborers to work a longer day without extra pay.
• At the end of a workweek, all overtime hours are credited as compensatory leave at the rate of 11/2 hours’ credit for each hour of overtime worked.”

Some clients ask for a day rate, but be careful with that. I’ve worked 40 hours in 3 days before on an emergency project and you don’t want to screw yourself by settling for less before you know what your getting into. A $1200 pay check vs $2500 pay check is a big difference when you just worked 3 days in a row with only 3-4 hours of sleep in between.

If your going to give a day rate I would recommend you start with a quote of $400 for 8.5 hours of work (with a 30 minute lunch and 2 – 15 minute breaks, which is the law) and go up from there. If the client advises the project will be more like 10-12 or more hours give an hourly overtime rate of $75 (time and a half) for every hour after 8.5 hours.

Make sure you get decent breaks!!

Don’t put yourself in the bargain bin!!

You have a specialized skill that is worthy of a decent wage, especially when you’ve got mobile equipment and skills they need when they are in a bind.

You can download a free app called “Invoice ASAP” and make getting paid by cash or check at the end of the day, a condition of your services.

Another way to I used Craigslist ads was to offer Mobile Sewing Lessons.

I would offer the following services, but not post a price. That way people would have to contact me for the price. I would also take into account, where they were located. If they were farther away I’d charge a little extra.

I offered help in the clients home with everything from, how to:

1. Thread and use their machine
2. Go on field trips with them to pick out patterns, fabric and notions
3. Cut out their fabrics
4. Make patterns from their own existing clothes
5. Make patterns from scratch
6. Alter patterns
7. Sew their project
8. Alter clothing
9. Upcycle clothing
10. Repair clothing
11. Project Assistance

My clients included home school kids, teens, college students, fashion students, men and women of all ages.

I charged $100 (cash) for 4 hours minimum, which was usually plenty of time to complete a simple project or work on an ongoing one. Extra hours were $25 an hour

Some clients were one time only, while others became regular clients

I would bring all my own mobile materials and supplies, just in case they didn’t have everything we’d need.

I use a rolling suitcase that fits everything I need and put my sewing machine on top of that, making it easy to transport.

Sometimes clients would come to my house too, it just depended upon their needs.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me!

If you’re located in the Cental Florida area and would like to join my sewing group on Facebook I frequently post sewing jobs there, of all kinds and so can you!! It’s called “Florida Costume and Fashion Designers and Fabricators”

You can follow me on Facebook at Psycho Seamstress https://www.facebook.com/PsychoSeamstress

I am Psycho Seamstress on most social media platforms including Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Instructables, Tumblr, Google Plus, ProductionHub, Studio53, LinkedIn and Slated.

I am Gina Vincenza Van Epps aka Psycho Seamstress! Http://ginav8.wix.com/psychoseamstress/ Gina@PsychoSeamstress.com

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How to Costume Rig a Button Down Garment for Quick Change

This particular Quick Rig is used when a performer needs to quickly change in or out of a button down garment. It can be a shirt, dress, jacket or anything you would normally have to button or unbutton to change clothes. This can also be used for burlesque, stripper and fight tear away scenes.

You will need the following materials:

  • Garment to be rigged
  • Sewing Machine and/or hand sewing needle
  • garment matching thread
  • large snaps (dime to quarter wopper popper size) OR SEW ON Velcro cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces, do not attempt to use the stick on Velcro, it won’t hold and if you try to sew over it, you will gunk up your machine!!

Here is how you do it using large snaps:

  1. remove the buttons from their normal position (except for the neck) and sew them to the other side of the garment on top of the button holes so they look like they are buttoned. When hand sewing I double the thread so that you are sewing with 4 strands. You can do this by hand if you’d like but I like to do it with the sewing machine set on a zig zag stitch the width of the button holes and the stitch length set to zero! Step 1Photo Dec 18, 2 48 35 PMPhoto Dec 18, 2 49 51 PM
  2. Next take the male side of the snap and sew it to the back side of the button hole (on the inside of the shirt and opposite of the button you just sewed on. NOTE: If you are using sew on Velcro instead of snaps, cut about 1 1/2 inch long piece and machine sew the FEMALE side onto the same place. If the button gets in your way you can sew the Velcro on first then hand stitch the buttons on second.
  3. Take the female side of the snap and sew it to the place where the original button was located, make sure the “belly button” side is up!!  If you are using Velcro put the MALE Velcro centered over where the original button was facing up so it adheres to the other velcro facing down.
  4. Repeat this process with every button, securing them as you go along to make sure everything matches up and you put things in the correct place.
  5. You can do the same with the shirt cuffs

It should all end up looking like this:

Photo Dec 18, 4 54 09 PM

For more costume rigging tips please stay tuned and follow me on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instructables, Etsy, Tumblr, Pintrest, Instagram, Twitter, Deviant Art and MORE!

Gina Vincenza Van Epps aka Psycho Seamstress

A List Wardrobe Seamstress, Designer, Costume Fabrication Specialist, Couturier

House of Vincenza, Orlando Fashion District, Central Florida Sewing Group, Psycho Stagewear, Forbidden Bridal, Winfield Murdock Creative Works, Universal Studios and More!!

Bacchanal Carnival, a Rock Operetta in the Works

In January of 2013, I met with the friend of a friend, named Blu Fogarty.

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Blu is a very talented performer at Universal Studios, who wanted to show me a Rock Operetta he had written entitled “Bacchanal Carnival”. The show is a very diverse Morality Play about a character called “Everyman”, he actually performed it for me, from beginning to end, playing and singing the parts for each of the characters he had written. It was quite impressive. I felt compelled to become involved.

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Blu’s goal is to tour his charity benefit rock operetta and use it to raise money for local charities by partnering with them in communities where it will be shown. (See the C.O.R.E. Incorporated Facebook Page or Website for more information.)
Over the last 2 years Blu formed a 501c3 non profit organization called C.O.R.E. Incorporated, whose primary mission is to put this show on tour.

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Last year, I agreed to help by putting together a good, better and best budget for wardrobe.

My Fashion Designer friend David Barnes of Piida Diida agreed to fill in some of the costume blanks with concept drawings.

Stiltwalking Performers
Through another series of meetings Blu decided to replace the touring orchestra with a Circus Style Calliope Machine with a Steam Punk edge.

I introduced Blu to a few more friends, who I thought might be able to help him along his journey including Winfield Murdock, a very talented Costume Designer, Fabrication Specialist and Owner of Winfield Murdock Creative Works in Orlando.

Winfield Murdock Creative Works
This winter Blu had an event coming up and has been wanting his “MC” costume fabricated, so he could wear it to meetings with potential investors to help convey his concept, perform parts of the play and for general marketing purposes.
Miguel Moreta, a London Educated Fashion Graduate, Costume Designer & Fabricator I’ve been working with over the last few months, sat down with Blu a few weeks ago and sketched out all of the details needed to move the project into fabrication.

MC Costume Drawings by Miguel Moreta
Winfield Murdock met with Blu to discuss the final details and began working on construction.

MC Jacket Construction  Leather Pants Panels MC Pants

I worked mostly on the leather pants from beginning to end.

The end result was a Custom Military Style Tails Coat, Hand Made Leather Top Hat and Patchwork Leather Pants.
This costume is one of many amazing costumes pending fabrication for this show.

MC Front MC Back MC Pants Patched Back Seam
If you’d like to donate time, talent, money, goods or services to help Blu bring his concept further into creation, please contact Blu@coreincorporated.org and tell him I sent you.

Blu needs help with production, audio, video, lighting, casting, performers, soundtrack, props, costumes, funding, grants and more!

Core Incorporated Website and Facebook Page:

https://www.facebook.com/hardCOREincorporated  http://www.coreincorporated.org/

Winfield Murdock Creative Works Website & Facebook Page

http://www.winfieldmurdock.com/   https://www.facebook.com/WinfieldMurdockCreativeWorks

David Barnes of Piida Diida   https://www.facebook.com/pages/Piida-Diida-Clothing/120707634627104

Gina Vincenza Van Epps aka Psycho Seamstress
A List Wardrobe Seamstress, Designer & Costume Fabrication Specialist

Gina@PsychoSeamstress.com

Psycho Seamstress  https://www.facebook.com/psychoseamstress

Psycho Stagewear  https://www.facebook.com/psycho13stagewear

House of Vincenza   https://www.facebook.com/houseofvincenza

Orlando Fashion District  https://www.facebook.com/OrlandoFashionDistrict

Central Florida Sewing Group https://www.facebook.com/groups/fashionincubatordh/

Friends Don’t Let Friends Put Pins In Their Mouth!!!

As a Seamstress, I’ve done this a million times without thinking any harm could come of it. Boy, was I wrong!!!
When I started working in the Costume Fabrication Department at Universal Theme Parks I noticed an article that had been printed out an posted to the double doors as you left the sewing department. I passed by it a few times until one day I found myself having a few extra minutes before I needed to clock in and took the time to read it.
Wow.
I see people do this all the time at work and ever since I read this article that follows I haven’t been able to stick a pin in my mouth again!!
I’ve actually become the “pin in your mouth” police when I see friends doing it, I tell them about the story I read in this article.
I am so glad I found it online.
PLEASE READ IT!!
Love you guys!!
XOXO

http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2012/jul/13/experience-inhaled-pin-into-lung

Gina Vincenza Van Epps
A List Wardrobe Seamstress &
Costume Fabrication Specialist

Finally!! Some Decent Links On Costume Rigging… Bible coming soon!!

I AM in the process of writing a BIBLE of sorts on the subject of “Costume Rigging” simply because NONE EXIST that I can find! If you know of any please DO TELL! We are a secret society of costume riggers who work in theater, entertainment and performance quick change and we even know some tricks that can be used in fashion when you need to alter a rented, borrowed or vintage garment in a temporary way so it can be restored to its original unaltered state.

What is a rigged costume and what actually goes on backstage during a “quick change”?

Here is one answer… http://dictionary.tdf.org/rigged-costumes/

A Basic Fake Closure for Quick Change Video

Inserting a “Ballet Elastic” to tighten a neckline, waist or other area of a garment that needs to be more fitted…

Costume Rigging Alteration

Costume Rigging Alteration

http://www.thebellydanceshop.com/costumealterations.php

Here are some images of clergy collars I costume rigged for a short Ken Barr film entitled “Hallowed Ground”, I actually got IMDB Film Credits on this one!! I simply created a stiff white band and stitched it into a black button down shirt I made into a “dickie” by cutting away the arms and bottom front and back of the shirt. I stitched everything together so all the actor had to do was put it on like a bib!

Clergy Collar Costume Rigging

On Miley Cyrus’s Bangers Tour, I costume rigged some gloves that had decorative trim to match her pants… This was done by stitching the gloves to the cuffs, then cutting away the extra fabric. Now instead of putting on the gloves, then the cuffs over them, it could be done in one smooth move and removed quickly.

Costume Rigging for Miley Cyrus

Costume Rigging for Miley Cyrus

On Taylor Swift’s Red Tour, I removed the fashion zippers from purchased dresses and replaced them with wide tooth zippers. I also replaced the existing tiny hook and eye closure with a wopper popper or giant snap. The upper part of the dresses were also replaced with a different bodice.

Red Dress Costume Rigging

Putting in a croth gusset is also a frequent alteration on dancer costumes that need some room to move and jump around without blowing out the crotch seam… note to performers, never go commando unless you want to risk having your junk make a public appearance!!

crotch gusset

Last but not least, Here is one of my own posts on how to Costume Rig Shirt Cuffs into a Jacket to reduce bulk of layered garments I posted on Instructables.com (if you’ve never checked out Instructables, it is an awesome site for the “how to” on all kinds of cool things!!!)

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http://www.instructables.com/id/Get-Materials-Together/step3/Trade-Secret-How-to-Costume-Rig-the-Shirt-Cuffs-to/

Here are some of the other how to’s on cool costumes you can find on Instructables!

http://www.instructables.com/tag/type-id/?sort=none&q=costume+rigging

Here is a list of some basic supplies you will need to make costume rigging alterations:

  1. Velcro – DO NOT use the stick on kind if you are planning on sewing over it, it will gunk up your machine!! Use velcro to close shirts and other garments converting them to quick change, then resew the buttons to the surface for show. You can also use it in many other places for super hero quick changes!!
  2. “Wopper Poppers” ie: Giant Quarter size snaps can be used to make quick change a breeze when velcro isn’t practical, sew these on with Silamide thread or use 4 strands for best results.
  3. Elastic – which can be used to take in necklines, waistbands and other areas of a costume that are too loose or need to be temp fitted to one actor without permanently altering the costume. See the link on how to do a “ballet elastic” alteration above.
  4. Wide Tooth Zippers – Don’t ever try to use a fashion zipper on a quick change costume, you will blow it out most immediately!! replace them with wide tooth zippers that color match your costume, try online at www.wawak.com for a good variety.
  5. Wardrobe Tape – A MILLION Problems can be fixed and wardrobe malfunctions avoided by using double stick wardrobe tape, you can buy it from wardrobe supply companies, on ebay or even use toupe or wig tape in a pinch. If an actor gets a blow out on stage, keep a good supply of tape, giant safety pins and a needle and thread for emergencies. I keep a pack of it in my purse, it also works great in fashion, to fix that peek-a-boo boob gap in a tight fitting shirt, keep a neckline in place, I even use it to stick fabric swatch to my notebook, when I meet with clients!!
  6. I write about costume rigging all the time here, on my blog or you can email me at Gina@PsychoSeamstress.com for more help, tips and info!

Please feel free to SHARE your Costume Rigging Tips and Tricks! I will be happy to add any links you can find to this blog post!

If you’d like to assist me in bringing The “Costume Rigging Bible” from Concept to Completion, Please Contact ME!!

Here’s the link to my Indiegogo campaign!

Please Support and Share my Indiegogo Crowdfunded Book link for “Costume Rigging Illustrated” with all your wardrobe, theater, costume, touring and cosplay friends!!!

Hurry!!!

http://igg.me/at/costumeriggingbook/x/14838145

#indiegogo #crowdfunded #costumerigging #quickchange #psychoseamstress