Restoring Janis Joplin’s Cape…

Last fall I was commissioned by the Hard Rock Cafe to restore Janis Joplin’s Cape, which is now on display in San Francisco, California. 

Here are the before and after photos from that restoration. 


I am available to consult on the alteration, repair or restoration of Historical, High End Couture and Memoribilia clothing worldwide. 

3 Ways To Make Modern Sequins Look Vintage

Recently, I was hired to do some restoration work on a vintage 60’s garment made of velvet, which was hand painted and adorn with sequins, which were falling off. After consulting with the client, we determined it would be too risky to repaint the garment, but adding more sequins individual knotted, would be plausible. 

The historical value of the garment was a few hundred thousand dollars (yes, actually $300,000ish!!!) and it would be part of a museum type display, so any mistake on this project could be devestating!!

I looked into buying some vintage sequins on Etsy, eBay and from General Bead in San Francisco, but determined that wasn’t necessarily going to solve the problem completely, because they were still in their original packaging, they actually looked shiny and new. 

The sequins I needed to match were 6mm cup sequins that were dull, a little smooth where the “cup” indentations were and somewhat faded in color. I found the size and shape I needed were still readily available, I just needed to figure out how to age them. 

Initially, I had thought of spraying them with something like hairspray to mute and dull the shine. Then one of my theater friends said “don’t to it!!” He tried that once on a vintage garment and it had a chemical reaction with the garment!! Yikes! Nope!

I was wondering if there was some way I could rub them with sandpaper or some how give them a mini abrasive sandblasted type treatment? How could I do that without blowing them all over the place? Could I tumble them some how to distress the finish? That didn’t seem doable. 

I wondered if a mild acid abrasive like vinegar work?

Someone from my online costume group suggested using liquid fabric softener. 

I brainstormed with my client on as many ways we could think of to simulate the distressed look of the vintage sequins. 

Could a chemical treatment be later rinsed off enough to prevent any reaction with the velvet? 

Due to the substantial historical and financial value of the garment, having any chemical reaction was a major concern. 

Then someone suggested I expose them to boiled water. This seemed like the safest treatment under the circumstances. 


I tried all 3 methods and set aside a pile of sequins aside, that were untreated to compare and here are the results:

1. Sequins soaked in white household vinegar:

  • I initially put 1 TBL of water and 1 TBL of vinegar and after 15 minutes of soaking, I didn’t see much of a change.
  • I dumped out the liquid and soaked them in straight vinegar, I noticed a slight tint to the vinegar after soaking them for about 15 minutes and noticed the shine was slightly duller and the shape was fully intact. 

2. Sequins soaked in 1 TBL seventh generation all natural fabric softener and 1 TBL water:

  • After 15 minutes of soaking, I didn’t see a noticeable change. 
  • I dumped out the liquid and soaked them in straight fabric softener for 15 minutes, a very slight dullness from the original, but less effective than the vinegar. 

It’s possible because I’m using and all natural fabric softener and not a chemically made one that I’m not seeing the results other people have told me they’ve gotten using this process. 


3. Sequins exposed to boiled water: 

  • I microwaved a cup of water for 2 minutes, then dipped the sequins in using a small mesh strainer. I didn’t see an immediate change, but I could see a slight greenish tint to the water, so it was having an effect. 
  • I took the sequins out and boiled the water for another minute, then dipped them back into the hotter water. 
  • This time I could see an immediate difference in removing the shine, making them duller looking and it gave them a slightly aged look by smoothing out the sharp angles of the stamped center shape. 

Conclusion:

The boiled water method gave them the aged appearance I was looking for on this project and was also much safer than using the chemically treated version. 

See for yourself!


What have your experiences been? 

Have you tried any different methods?

Questions? 

Comments?

Do You Need Costume or Wardrobe Project Assistance?

Get Your Free Consultation Here!

Everyday I help:

  • Celebrities
  • Film Makers
  • Event Planners
  • Theme Parks
  • Touring Shows
  • Theaters
  • Concert Tours
  • Runway Shows
  • Photographers
  • Designers

get help with:

  • Finding Local, Touring and Willing To Relocate Global Wardrobe People / Head of Wardrobe
  • Creating a 3 Level Wardrobe Budget
  • Wardrobe Styling & Shopping
  • Costume and Fashion Design & Illustration Services
  • Sourcing Wholesale Fabrics, Notions and more
  • Patterns and Grading 
  • Prototypes and Runway Samples
  • Factory Samples & Production 
  • Costume Rigging Advice
  • Specialty Runners
  • And more

My actual client list includes:

  • Matrix Destination Finale Fashion Show 
  • Microsoft Events
  • Universal Theme Parks 
  • Onsite Costume Fabrication and Costume Rigging for: Beyoncé, Justin Bieber, Taylor Swift, Rihanni, Miley Cyrus and more. 
  • Film Makers who need help developing their projects and budgets 

I created a simple survey, so you can tell me about your project. 

I will give you a free consultation on some possible solutions. I have created and manage multiple global databases of talent, suppliers, production houses and more. 

I offer consulting and project management services worldwide. 

Take the survey here to get your free consultation:

Free Consultation Survey

Or paste this link: https://www.surveycrest.com/s/57cc89bf73533 

How to get your own fabric designs professionally printed by the yard!

How to get your own fabric designs professionally printed by the yard!

A few years ago I was wondering how to get custom fabrics made for clients who were asking for a one of a kind design.

Well I’ve since found and used 2 different ways to do this, even if you only need 1 yard of fabric!

The first way is a little more hands on and the quality is good, but you’ll need to have some basic design skills. You should be able to figure out this DIY method online through a website called Spoonflower.

There are some other websites out there, but this one, I have actually used myself to print a fabric out of my Psycho Seamstress logo, which I cut out and use as labels to sew onto clothing I’ve made. You can design fabrics for yourself or to sell to others for a commission using this site.

Here’s the link to my Psycho Seamstress logo design:
http://www.spoonflower.com/designs/2316838-psycho-seamstress-skull-scissors-half-brick-by-psychoseamstress
Feel free to buy some!! LOL

Not only can Spoonflower print your designs on several types of fabric, but you can also use the images to create wallpaper, wrapping paper or stickers! It was super easy and super cool!

The second way is easier if you know what you want, but don’t exactly have the graphic design skills to make it happen. It’s a little more expensive than the DIY method, but the results are stunning and very high end.

I use a company called Solid Stone Fabrics. This company has several dozen gorgeous fabrics to choose from including spandex, swimwear fabrics, silk chiffons, organza, duck, jersey, neoprene, fabrics with sequins, foiled color, metallics, even carpet!! If you contact them, they can ship you out a swatch ring of some amazing high end fabrics you’ll have to choose from. Ask for Luke Harris, he’s one of the owners and the main sales guy. Tell him I sent you!

Here’s a link to their website:
http://www.solidstonefabrics.com

Solid Stone will assign a graphic designer to your project and THEY will create a graphic design file to your specifications, for a reasonable set up fee.
Once your design is initially approved by you in an email, they will send you a sample of the design printed on the fabric of your choice. Once you approve the sample, you can order it as needed with a one yard minimum.

Using custom designed fabrics is a great way to raise your price tag. You can create a much more unique and cohesive fashion collection by using the same pattern or design on multiple items in different fabrics. Finding coordinating designs and fabrics on the open market can be a challenge. When you design your own fabrics, you can create matching stretch jeans, silky tops, make sheer cover ups paired with swimwear and more, just like all of the high end brands do and order your fabrics as needed.

If you’d like more insider tips on how to excel as a fashion designer, join my group on Facebook called “Clothing Designer Resources” and feel free to share your best connections, collections and advice!!

You can contact me at Gina@PsychoSeamstress.com

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

Are You Male and Over 250 Lbs? I Need Your Help!!

big and tal

Please help me collect some real world measurements for men who are 250 Lbs or more. We are designing trendy clothing for Men who are 2X – 7X, with special attention to short, average and tall height categories. Please go get a long sewing tape measure and maybe even a friend who can help you take some measurements and click the link to this anonymous measurement survey. Men’s Measurements over 250 Lbs

The fashion industry’s standard ASTM Men’s Measurement Chart does not extent past size 4X. Therefore, we are creating our own and need real life measurments to create the correct algorithms to extend this “industry standard” sizing chart to include real world people who are currently being ignored by the Fashion Industry.

I have personally worked as a Men’s Stylist and Ferragamo Specialist at Bloomingdale’s, where there were many potential clients I had to turn away, because Top Designer’s worldwide, ignore their size. Many of my loyal clients have been women who are plus size and simply can not find clothing to fit them properly, but men have even less to choose from than women.

Men and boys in my opinion are under served by the fashion industry. In the last 2 years after quitting my day job to become a designer and seamstress full time, I have had several Men approach me for sewing lessons and help in making their own patterns and prototypes for fashion. I noticed a trend that lot of men were becoming involved in fashion because there is such a large gap between men and women’s fashions. I found another example of this gap when I would go to the fabric store looking for patterns for men and boys. For the longest time, I would have to buy women’s patterns and alter them to fit a man.

The good news is that male fashion is evolving! Designers are coming to me for help in creating new and trendy fashions for boys and men.

That is exciting!

Please Share this post with all the fashion seeking men you know who’d like to make a difference in men’s fashion!

2 Ways To Tactically Rig Your Cargo Shorts or Pants for Access to Concealed Weapons

20151031_043121080_iOS                     20151031_043149509_iOS

Lately I’ve been getting a lot of requests to tactically alter or quick rig clothing for individuals with permits to carry concealed weapons.

Here are 2 easy ways to alter a pair of cargo shorts for quick access to a variety of thigh holsters. One method does not require any sewing skills or additional materials, the other uses a zipper.

If your one of those people thinking “who the heck am I going to sew this for me?” I am working on a retail line (QuickDrawTacticalClothing.com) of tactical cargo shorts, which will be for sale soon. Contact me if you’d like to buy or sell them. I can also do tactical alterations if you mail
me your garments and specifications.

First, Choose a pair of cargo shorts after considering these things:

1. They have a side cargo pocket with a flap or zip closure and that the sides of the pocket are gusseted (makes the pocket a 3 dimensional addition to the shorts). This will best hide the profile of your weapon.

2. Choose a pair of shorts that lets the cargo pocket land mid thigh or directly over where your thigh gun holster is situated in such a way that the butt of the gun doesn’t “print” or show.

3. Compare Shorts made out of darker, thicker, heavier weight fabric, which will work better than shorts with thinner, lighter colored and weight fabric.

4. Make sure the shorts are long enough to cover the gun and holster

5. Make sure the shorts don’t fit too tight. Looser is better. Go up a size if you have to and wear a belt. Try them on with your gun holstered to your thigh and walk around to make sure they fit well and and you can walk normal and comfortably.

One of the rules to legally carrying a concealed weapon is that you don’t unintentionally expose your weapon or you could be charged with a misdemeanor.

Method 1 “Quick and Dirty”
This one can be done without any additional materials other than a pair of scissors.

1. Basically, all you have to do here is turn your shorts inside out

2. Carefully cut a horizontal slit about 4″ down from the cargo pocket flap, on the inside part of the pocket fabric that sits against your leg, from side to side, staying inside the pocket. Make sure you can’t see the slit or inside the slit from the outside of the shorts. You can also completely cut out the inside of the pocket if you wish from inside the shorts. Boom. Done.

Once you turn the shorts right side out, you should be able to slide your hand into your cargo pocket and then through the slit or opening to access your weapon.

If you do have sewing skills there are a number of ways you can cleanly finish this slit by zigzagging the raw edges to keep it from fraying, making a simple welt, adding more fabric, an inside zipper here or a few small squares of Velcro. (The only problem I have with using Velcro is that the rip noise it makes could bring attention to what your doing if you’ve found yourself in a situation)

2. Method 2, “Zippered Access”

20151105_022118215_iOS

Zipper installed above cargo pocket (view from inside the shorts)

This one is pretty simple to do. There are a few kinds of zippers on the market or salvage one from an existing item. The zipper can be top sewn on, which is the easiest.

For this alteration what you’re basically going to do is install a zipper above your cargo pocket, so that you can open it you expose your leg and can easily reach inside your shorts or pants to access your thigh holstered weapon.

If you don’t have a sewing machine you can also hand sew the zipper on.

Done and done.