I’ve been feverishly working behind the scenes to herd my crazy clothing line idea ever closer to fruition. It’s so exciting! But it. is. slow. Back in August, I wrote my first clothing line update. Check that out! My idea crystalized in April of 2017. By last August, I had 6 pieces designed and technical drawings done. The next step was finalizing the fabric choices and getting the patterns made.
I had more fun choosing the fabric! The prints are the star of the show, but the other fabrics, the ones against the skin, are the most important for comfort. And these are heavenly! Super high quality, just the right weight, and great looking. I also sampled several elastics before finding “the one.” The feel is of utmost importance. I have finalized my two initial color ways. I’m calling the black and ivory with bicycles (LOVE!!!) “Tree Lined Streets.”
The teal and navy with floral (SO PRETTY!!!) is “Seaside Garden.”
I ordered sample yardage of each, along with elastic and other notions, had it all shipped to my house so I could organize it, and then shipped it off to San Francisco.
The spring/summer line will offer six mix-and-match pieces. I hope to offer each in both color ways and in sizes xs-3xl. Here are the technical drawings for each piece.
Each outfit has a pocket for your phone. I especially love the side-thigh pocket on the leggings. It’s easy to reach, and it keeps your phone secure while standing and sitting. And I think it looks great!
Once we went back and forth several times dialing in the technical drawings to my specifications, I took the leap and contracted to have the patterns made. This is when a pattern maker looks at the drawings and translates them into a blueprint that will give us an actual 3 dimensional garment when followed. Each piece was patterned, and then a “fit sample” was made of each. In my case, we made the fit samples in the actual fabric we’d be using to get a feel for the cozy factor and overall feel. But, at this stage, no time or effort is wasted on finish details.
The Fit Samples
In November, my Mom and I road tripped to San Francisco to try on my first fit samples and attend the DGExpo, which is a fabric show and seminar series for fashion start-ups. First, we headed to DNA to see the samples (check out their website; they have been awesome!!!). We walked in, and hanging on a garment rack to my left, were these pieces that I had dreamed up, IRL! I practically squealed with glee! I internally reminded myself to be cool and act natural. After feasting my eyes and hands on my creations, pinching myself, and introducing my Mom to Dan, it was time to try the samples on. Now. Real fashion designers use what they call “fit models.” But no one knows how these clothes need to feel like I do so, although I am neither fit nor a model, I added another job title to my name. Also, samples are made in size medium because patterns start out as mediums and then are graded up and down from that “midpoint” (eyeroll!) to create the other size offerings. And I am no medium. So, I went in the little broom closet/bathroom and squeezed myself in. I was most anxious to try on the inner piece that will be inside each top and dress to lend light and comfortable support and coverage. As you can imagine, it was not pretty. After checking the feel (which was awesome, btw) in the privacy of the bathroom, I decided to spare Dan the trauma and threw on my tank under the thing. We went through the try-on and show process with each item. I had a few little fit corrections for each one. Dan made note of them and then we were off! DNA was tasked to adjust the patterns and crank out round 2 of the fit samples, and Mom and I were off to the DGExpo.
My intention for attending the DG Expo was to find fabric for my fall/winter 2018 line. The timeline is bonkers. The planning ahead makes my head spin, but that’s how the industry is set up. I started by attending as many seminars as time would allow. The topics included fashion law, copyright and trademark law, marketing, manufacturing, etc. I ate up every word and took a million notes! As I milled around outside the conference room waiting for the marketing seminar, up walked Jane Hamill. I had taken my online apparel production course through her website, Fashion Brain Academy, and loved her knowledgeable but laid back approach to teaching, so I was THRILLED to discover that she’d made the trip from Chicago to present. She was scheduled to teach the next seminar. I surprised myself by walking straight up and introducing myself. It was a full on fangirl situation. I was gushing. I couldn’t help myself. She had taught me so much. She was gracious and friendly, of course. I loved her class, and then afterwards, I was able to spend some one-on-one consultation time with her. SO EXCITING!!! She asked to video me showing my class notebook, and here is a snippet if you are interested in taking a peek. I dare you to try to not love her. You can not do it.
She also blogged about my progress here. I’d LOVE it if you’d pop over and check out her blog post. The full video is there as well.
Meeting Jane was the best part of the trip, hands down. But I also learned a ton in the other seminars, found some new and wonderful fabric vendors (my favorites were Monaluna organics – super cute knits prints which you’ll surely see in the fall/winter line, and Kendor textiles – great basics), had my Mom to myself for 3 whole days and nights (priceless!), and met a handful of other gals like me who are starting up. It feels so great to have a tribe to connect with. I’ve enjoyed staying connected with these ladies and have already made valuable connections thanks to their resource sharing. Pamona, who is planning a lingerie line, blogs here. Tori, who is planning a dress line, blogs here. And Stephanie has a beautiful petite line here.
The Facebook Page
I started a Shelfie Shoppe Facebook page. Check it out here! I’ve had so much fun coming up with content ideas. I have a couple of recurring segments, “Quick Tip Tuesdays” (where I’ll roll out my best life hacks, one per week) and “What We Love Wednesdays,” (where I’ll feature a product, service, podcast, movie, or blog that I think you’ll love), and I post new blog articles as soon as they publish. If you visit and then click “like,” these nuggets will show up in your news feed. So fun!
The Logo and Business Cards
Here’s a quick peek.
To read more about the process, check out this blog article.
Round 2 of Fit Samples
Last month, I headed back over the hill to visit DNA and try on round 2 of my fit samples. All of the changes from round 1 were perfect, and with a few minor changes, round 3 should be a slam dunk! This time my sister came with me. We stayed overnight in Berkeley after our appointment with DNA, and then I took a class in Oakland the following day on fabric sourcing and inspection. It was taught by a garment manufacturing guru, Lana Hogue, and I didn’t want to leave when it was over. I’m taking the six month series and can’t wait for the next one! The class was held in a little piece of heaven called Apparel Arts. It’s a huge hands-on sewing school. I was like a kid in a candy store! Look!
If Reno had a place like this, I’d pitch a tent and move in. I can’t believe Debbie and I didn’t take any selfies of our trip. But we DID go to bed before 7pm and may have each eaten a pint of Ben and Jerry’s before nodding off (no, I have no idea why I’m not a size medium…). Sisters are the best!!!
I’ve just contracted to get my tech packs made (detailed instructions for manufacturing). Once those are ready, I’ll begin the process of narrowing down my factory options (I have 4 on my short list; I’ll need to visit them all to find the best fit). My photo-shoot-worthy samples should be ready in two weeks. I’ll have a photo shoot, make a product video, and launch a Kickstarter Campaign (after I take this online course to figure out how to do that). During the campaign, you’ll be able to pre-order your Shelfies! I’ve got my work cut out for me. I love it!
I am hoping to sell enough from the spring/summer line to fund a fall/winter line. That is when the cozy factor will skyrocket! Oh the possibilities! I have so many fun ideas!
How Can You Help?
Well, thanks for asking! (Insert cheesy grin emoji, preferably with a double chin)
- Put your email address in my pop-up or “subscribe” box (I won’t hound you, honest!) and you’ll get notifications by email when big things are afoot.
- “Like” my Facebook Page and share any posts you like on your social media outlets. That way, when the Kickstarter starts kicking, it’ll be easier to spread the word.
- Comment on the blog articles you like. This helps with search engine standings, and thus helps people find the blog (and comments make me happy; they also cause my cell phone to make a delightful magic wand sound).
- Buy Shelfies! You’ll look cute and feel cozy in your new at-home uniform! I’ll let you know as soon as you can.
Thanks for staying with me. Whew! Gold star for getting through the long read!
What projects are you excited about in your life? I’d love to chat about it! Leave me a comment…