Wednesday, July 31, 2013
So last week I was talking to Robin, the newest member of our online team, asking her for a bio for our newsletter. She told me she went online to look for mine and couldn't find one. It made me realize I haven't properly introduced myself to everyone out there.
I will keep it short. I came to Michael Levine, Inc. from the television industry. I grew up on sets, as my dad was a gaffer (lighting) and I knew from a young age I wanted to be in that world. I loved the excitement of it. After I graduated from college I worked my way up the ladder and eventually became an associate producer. I worked on many sit coms over the years, but the one that I worked on the longest was Malcolm & Eddie.
After 5 years the show was cancelled. During my time on that show I got married, had a baby, and was thinking of having another one. I just couldn't imagine working on a new show again. The hours would be crazy and I knew I didn't want to miss any more of my little girl's big moments.
I was lucky that my husband's family needed help in their business.
While I never imagined I'd work with fabric, and I may not be the most fashion forward person you will ever meet, I have always loved to shop for clothes and had a passion for home decorating. If you look in my closet, beside it being organized in color order, you would notice the pieces I own are pretty timeless. I buy a few items every season that are on trend, but I on the whole I like to stay true to what works on my body & what will be able to live in my closet for more than one season. I figured I would bring this knowledge to the table, as well as my organizational skill and see how it went. That was over 11 years ago so I'd say it has gone pretty well. During my time at Michael Levine I have worn many hats. I have done HR, payroll, assisted with buying new product, and reorganized various departments, but getting our online/social media off the ground has been the most exciting. Coming out of the television industry I love work that is fast paced and always changing and that is exactly what this online business has been.
They first year I came into the online division, lowpricefabric.com, it was all about setting up systems to get product online and to get connected to the buyers out there. Once we mastered getting the fabric online relatively smoothly, though not always fast enough, I thought we should enter the social media world. Over the last 9 months we have been working on making a presence for ourself on Facebook, Twitter, Pintrest, our blog and Instagram. I have to say it is a lot harder than I imagined. Trying to think of new things to blog about or new ideas and products to post is not always easy. It is a world that never sleeps. Everyone wants new information right now. I am trying to learn how to balance those demands with my the other aspects of my life. I am working on setting limits for myself so that I don't become someone who has to be attached to her phone all the time. With a teenager in the house, who just got a phone last month, I am trying to model the importance of face to face time as opposed to text/screen time, so I want to set a good example. That being said, once the kids go to bed I am up until all hours working at my desk.
Sorry I digressed. So I have been at Michael Levine, Inc. for over 11 years and have had two more children. I work part-time in the office and part-time from home. When I came to Michael Levine, Inc. all those years ago it was really important for me to spend the afternoons with my children. I didn't want to look back and feel like I missed being with them. My oldest, now a teenage, is a high level gymnast. Besides needing to be driven to the gym and have food prepared that 30 minutes is a great time to connect with her. I love that I get to have that. The younger two have homework and various activities, from soccer to baseball to art and while the afternoons are crazy, I wouldn't trade them for anything. If I had stayed in the television world spending that time with them would have been impossible. Since we have gotten our online store up and running my part-time job has quickly become more like a full-time job and I couldn't be enjoying it more. I still only work from the office until 2pm, but I work many hours every evening to stay on top of everything. Sales are growing, we're connecting with amazing bloggers, and bringing more people on board so we can do projects for our blog as well as get more fabric onto our site. We're in the middle of revamping our cotton section and next will tackle the apparel section. We will be looking at our in-store notion department and getting more of those products online as well. It is a long road, but one that is so worth traveling. I love the challenge and can't wait to see where we will be in another year and than another year after that, and so on. Thank you for following us and buying fabric from us. We really appreciate your business and look forward to meeting your fabric needs for many years to come.
Thursday, July 25, 2013
Here are a few pics...
Setting up the goodie bags
Yummy snacks from Panera and Coffee Bean.
We made one of Mimi's dresses so everyone could see it in person. This fabric is almost sold out. I can't wait to wear this dress in Hawaii. It is so comfortable!
And the cutting begins!
Just one of the many hold piles. The knits , stretch wovens, and cottons were all hot sellers.
Lining up to get questions answered from Mimi. This went on for the entire 3 hours. Mimi is a great source of knowledge and you could tell this group really wanted to absorb as much as they could from Mimi, as well as the Michael Levine staff.
Bringing more fabric from the warehouse. There were a few prints that everyone really liked. We can't wait to see how everyone interprets the same fabric in different ways.
Checking out and our new Michael Levine bags. Don't forget to check in on August 6th to see how you can win a goodie bag of your own. I will announce the details on our Facebook page.
Larry, the owner, and I had to get a picture with Mimi. It's been such a pleasure getting to know her this year.
More shoppers checking out of The Loft, our "per pound" store.
Even while everyone was waiting for the bus to arrive they were asking questions and getting information.
And the bus arrives. Whew. What a fun-filled 3 hours! We really enjoyed our time with you guys. Make sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram & Twitter so you can keep up with everything we're doing. If you're a local, make sure to say hi when you visit again and if you're from out-of-town, don't forget you can still shop us at lowpricefabric.com. Again, we can't wait to see what you make from all the fabric you bought. Have fun!
Friday, July 19, 2013
So for the last year I have followed MimiG Style, as well as worked with her. She shops us regularly and I love seeing what she does with our fabrics. A few months ago MimiG made this wrap dress from a floral knit and we sold over 200 yards in a few days. It was crazy. Every time she makes a dress I say we should make one, but the days just get away from us and we don't. Well now we have!
This dress is really figure flattering and makes me feel very statuesque. While Robin followed the pattern here are a few issues we ran into. She needed an extra yard and a half than the pattern called out for due to the floral pattern running right down the middle of the fabric. Also the pattern didn't call for a belt. We definitely felt the dress needed one so Robin cut a 55" by 6" stripe from the salvage & in a snap we had our belt.
I really liked the ruching detail on the sleeve. Just a simple detail, but it really made this dress feel polished.
While the dress is a bit heavy, due to the length and the ITY fabric, it also gives you nice coverage and hides any lumps and bumps without needing to be lined. This fabric is great for travel. Roll it in your suitcase and it comes out looking great. I will definitely be taking this on my vacation in a few weeks. It is so comfy, yet nice enough to wear out to dinner. I will be wearing it for the date night I am planning for my husband. Our one night out without the kids. I can't wait!
If you're in Los Angeles, stop by and see us in person. This dress will be in the front display for the next 2 weeks, than it will be in Hawaii with me!
Regina & Robin
Thursday, July 18, 2013
All I can say is I love it! Fabric is like the icing on the cake. The eat-in area in the kitchen is pretty, but these pillows just added that pop of color and fun that I was looking for. I have been going back & forth for weeks trying to decide which fabric combinations to use. If you walked into my house over the last 2 to 3 months there were always different fabric samples sitting on this table. I have to live with the print for a few days, see it in different lights, and get a few opinions on it. Usually after a few days of looking at it in the space I just know. Unfortunately, for the last month I kept rejecting my choices. Nothing felt right until last week. I brought home this turquoise starfish fabric home and it coordinated well with the main inspiration fabric, which will be across the room, as well as the red geometric print I already knew I wanted to use.
Here are a few pictures of Robin making the pillows. We ended up making four of the turquoise pillows in size 24" and three of the red pillows in 22". I wanted to hit he lip of the window and also wanted some height difference in the two pillows. Since the red is such a strong color we decide to make those the smaller ones. Robin and I agreed if we made the reds the larger ones they would over power the turquoise one. Also since I already have red chairs and bar stool (not visible in the picture) I wanted the turquoise pop.
Here are the supplies you will need. Everything can be found online.
Interfacing going on the pillow fabric
Attaching the handmade piping. Click here for the cord that goes inside the piping.
To help attach zipper, use sew through double sided tape to hold zipper in place.
When working with a fabric that has a distinct print, it is really important to center it so you like the final outcome.
Cutting the back side. Make sure to find the grain or straight edge.
If you don't have a wilting foot, you can use the zipper foot and move the needle to the edge.
This is a new product. It's a size 6 invisible zipper by the yard. They are great for home dec projects.
Lastly get your pillow forms and stuff your pillows. To make the corners nice and full take a bit of loose pillow stuffing and put it into the corners. This will fill the out nicely. Beautiful pillows that really have that wow factor!
This project really reminded me that just adding a few decorative pillows can really change up a typical room for not a lot of money. Hopefully you will be inspired to make a few yourself.
Regina & Robin
Wednesday, July 17, 2013
Here is a super quick pattern that Robin whipped up. You can use any cotton print that will personalize it to your child. Sarah just finished her first year in Little League, so this print is right up her alley.
We used Simplicity 1602. All you need 5/8 yards of a cotton print, 5/8 yards of a coordinating rip stop, and 3 yards of a drawstring cord.
Ironing on some fusible interfacing to add some "hand" and body to the fabric.
Laying out the pattern.
Same for the lining.
Marking the drawstring line.
Sewing the side seam.
Drawstring pulled through.
Drawstring pinned to the bottom of the pack. This is what makes the backpack straps.
Finished product. One very happy six-year-old ready for a swim day!
Tuesday, July 9, 2013
So the first dress is done. Well, really the second dress...keep reading and you will understand what I mean. I have to share with you that this was not as quick of a project as I expected. Robin, the new addition to our blogging team, had to sew this dress twice. Yes, twice. We're going to call it a "learning experience". I picked out the fabric from one of my warehouse walk throughs. I loved the colors and the softness of the knit. It had not hit the floor yet, so I grabbed a roll for our online store and a piece for Robin to make a dress from. After looking at a few patterns, we decide on Simplicity 1804 . We felt this one was simple and versatile and would be flattering to many body types. The twist really helps define the smallest part of your body. Before I show you the final dress, I'm going to show you the first one Robin made.
As soon as it came together Robin realized the fabric did not line up right in the front and that the seam there was just not flattering. After I tried it on a few times, we decided to make it again but the second time Robin knew she would have to tweaked the pattern a bit. First, she adjusted the center front seam piece of the pattern to go on the fold which got rid of the seam right between my boobs. Really, who wants that?! Lol.
Here she is placing it on the fabric...
We also felt the neckline was too low. Here she is making the adjustment to the neckline...
The last tweak was adding length to the bodice. The pattern called for the twist to be right below the breasts. Besides the fact that I have a long torso, it just felt too high to us so she dropped it down a bit. From looking at the finished dress you can see it is still pretty high. It really wouldn't have worked on my torso the way the pattern called for.
Next she ironed the interfacing onto the fabric before she cut the pattern out. Doing this helps prevent any possible shrinkage to pattern piece.
Lastly she had to make some adjustments as she was pinning to make sure everything lined up and then it was onto sewing.
We decided to make the second dress shorter. Personally I like a little leg and I just thought it would be nice for our readers to see it both ways.
So here is the finished dress. I wore it to work today and had so many compliments. It is always fun, even for our employees, to see the fabric come to life.
I really like the style and comfort of this dress, as it's perfect for work or going out to lunch on a weekend. Just be prepared you may have to tweak the pattern a bit to fit your individual body. Thank goodness Robin has a great eye and could make it work.
Any questions, please let us know.
Thanks & enjoy!
Regina & Robin