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A Little Invention

November 19, 2020


I would like to share with you a nice invention for the shop. If you can guess what it is before I tell you I’ll give you some fun points that you can spend when Coronavirus goes away – just drop me a line and I can credit your account.

Did you figure it out? It’s a tube turner, but if you want to wear it as an earring you can have fun points for that also. A job we are currently working on in the shop requires a 6″ strip of fabric to be sewn into a tube and then turned so that the seam is inside and the right side of the fabric is out.

Usually turning a sewn piece is easy because there might be a stitched corner into which I can wedge my turning rod. This piece is a tube so there is nothing for the rode to push against, and it’s too narrow for fingers to fit easily inside for turning.

My fancy Tube Turner 2020 pins to the sewn tube and gives us a nice anchor point – we fit the triangular hat piece over the pointed end of the rod and push the tube of fabric down over the hat and rod. As the tube passes over the Tube Turner it slips from inside out (Right Sides Together) to right sides out. And we are ready to move on to the next step.

Label Feature: Nine56 Studio

February 15, 2020


Allow me just a quick moment to introduce you to one of my favorite projects to work on here in the Aletheia shop: Nine56 Studio. It is a very classy young brand with a vision for every day clothing that is polished and comfortable at the same time. They call it elevated loungewear – and while I do not spend very much time lounging in the shop, you better believe I have a couple of Nine56 pieces in my regular rotation.

I mean, sometimes I do get a rice krispie bar and a coffee and eat it at my desk. But usually I’m working my butt off, because I have to.

You can see the aesthetic: clean, simple, just a little easy, and coordinating, and with luxury fabrics (organic cotton on the left!). But beyond that, the thing I like most about working on Nine56 pieces are the little construction upgrades throughout the collection – bartacked pockets, stitched-thru waistbands, and the continuous bound neckline-becomes-tie – which in production makes one feel like a sewing goddess.

Which, you might be asking, are the pieces that you own? Of course! That would be the two most fabulous pieces in the collection – the David crop pant in black, and the Shelby wrap top in green.

The David is cozy enough to sleep in but I also get compliments when I wear it out. And here am I in a very meh BlackBerry Selfie, showing off a little red hair against an awesome garment-dyed shade of dark mossy green.

Buttons and Buttonholes

January 20, 2020


Growing the Line-up

Reece S2 automatic buttonholer

A sewing contractor loves sewing machines as much as she loves her shop, her work, and her business in sum. For me, my sewing line-up is like a large family which I have raised to adulthood, mostly with success (there is still a machine that asks me for money now and then); I beam with pride as I recount their interesting professions – each one is really good at at least one thing – and brag about what they have done with their lives (tote bags, crop pants, etc). It’s also like baby fever that never subsides: I am always wishing for just one more.

There is a reason why you should love sewing machines too, whether you are looking to have a design produced or just like purchasing good designs: proper machinery defines the type and level of goods that can be made in any shop or factory, and also the time it takes to produce them. For instance, a better quality shirt will often have a flat fell seam along the side and running up through the sleeve. This is a special seam that wraps all the cut fabric edges into a unique fold and is held flat with two rows of stitching. The finished look is neat and uniform, and it is a strong seam that wears well. Without the right machine, this type of seam would take at least three passes with a basic single needle machine – one to attach front and back, one to catch the folded seam allowance, and one to complete the double stitching look… and quite possibly a trip to the ironing board somewhere in there to make sure the fold is consistent. Plus a fair amount of struggling to topstitch into the narrow part of the sleeve where it meets the cuff. With the right machine, one can do all of this in one pass, and expect a professional result without the struggle. Hence, a beautiful finish done in less time, costing the designer less to make, and allowing that designer to sell at retail at a lower price point.

It’s good for everyone! Fun for me to have all these unique machines, more options in design and construction, and a reasonable price point at the end.

So here are the newest machines in the line-up: an industrial buttonholer, the Reece S2, and the Chandew 581 button sew, which I bought from a retired tailor on a whim. Fraternal twins, you might say.

In the past I have used a vintage domestic to make buttonholes. They were beautiful buttonholes but man, they were slow to make. This new-to-me Reece can sew and cut an entire shirt placket in less time than I could make a single buttonhole on my old setup. Jackpot! And it’s a similar story with the button sew – a single button, sewn on by hand, with all the threading, getting caught in thread, running out of thread, sewing, winding, tacking, and trimming can easily take 2 minutes each (which is 100% cost prohibitive in production!!). Now I am sewing on buttons in a true fraction of the time, and passing along the efficiency to the labels I sew for.

I won’t get rid of my vintage domestic though. I’ll take it with me to my grave.

In the shop: De Nova Robes

November 7, 2019


I’ve been busy, busy in the shop as of late, getting to know a new-to-me clothing line and prepping a couple of their styles for production. Meet De Nova, a bathrobe that looks nice, feels nice, and is really quite fun to sew.

The sample is in an off-white and black stripe french terry but there are 3 colorways to sew up – and two lengths, long and short. It’s a bit of an organizational feat keeping all the styles, sizes, and colors in their proper homes but I know I can do it.

The biggest challenge thus far (besides the timeline, which is always a challenge, so nothing noteworthy there) is finding THREAD to match the teal. I think I looked at all the options from my supplier in turquoise, blue, and green and none of them look good – nor even acceptable. I’m going to have to get tricky on this one.

Check out their online store for some nicer shots:

New Baby!

August 24, 2019


Great news! The machine I’ve been hoping and longing for has finally arrived. No, it’s not a human baby, it’s a foot press for securing snaps without sewing, grommets and rivets without pounding… and as far I can tell, attaching whatever hardware a design may call for.

The last time I needed snaps regularly was with my reclaimed fabric children’s line, in which I used a 3-piece hard plastic assembly to hold my snaps in place while I fumbled for the hammer and whacked the snap (and my thumbs) into place. Now I am set up to use this little baby for ligne 20 ring snaps – once the dies are set up, all I need to do is set the hardware in the dies and step on the pedal. I will use both hands to grip the fabric and there will be no hammering. It takes a fraction of the time. So, less tedium for me and less $$$ for you and your customers. Other fabulous features:

  • machine base is 20″ X 20″ – nice and compact for a low-overhead studio and completely moveable
  • a built-in hardware tray! No searching for studs and sockets
  • fresh coat of paint thanks to its former owner, “Jim”
  • a history: it was an extra from the J.W. Hulme bag factory in St. Paul
  • 1/4 of the price of a new machine. YES

I am planning to give it a spin this week with a set of canvas totes – I can’t wait to see it in action.

The factory

September 23, 2018


panorama shop

Yes, the factory.

It was time to get out of the basement long ago but the stars were lining up on their own time. I’m proud to give you a short, short introduction to my fashion factory, right at the heart of the NE arts district – though, truth be told, it’s a “garden studio”, so a little lower than the heart, maybe liver might be a more accurate metaphor.

I am setting the workshop up as the ultimate lean factory floor. No unnecessary tool will occupy a square inch of space here. Every useful corner will be utilized. I purchased exactly the equipment I will need to cut and sew for fashion and spared the expense on unnecessary luxuries.

garden studio

The view from the Juki 6500

Necessary luxuries, however, are another story. Though we are in the basement, this garden studio has lots of natural light – and curtains make it optional. Plants freshen the air when we close up the windows for winter. I have a sink adjacent to my steam iron so I can save the 20 paces when it comes time to refill the water reservoir. And there’s a mini-fridge.

Sewing machine lineup

Union Special, Rimoldi, Juki, Singer.

A few new finds are in the machinery lineup – and I must admit, I’ve never had such a buyer’s high as when I brought home my new-to-me Singer bar tack machine. It’s a joy and a thrill to operate, especially when the thread trimmer automatically finishes off the job. I now have one good machine for whatever type of clothing job may arise – so keep ’em coming.

I’m ready to show the place off. Come visit!

At Last

June 23, 2015





It’s finally here!unilook collage


I’ve had lots of conversations about baby pants. People find out that I design childrenswear and, if they want to voice an opinion at all, it’s about the fit and fabrication of kids’ pants. It’s no wonder, too, since a well-fitting pant is the shining achievement of almost any successful design house – it’s the hardest basic garment to achieve a perfect fit since its measurements go up, down, around, through, and over. A carefully designed, well-fitting pant can keep a company in business and provide the technical basis for many more styles with the same signature fit. Patternmaking aside, good pants have special fabric needs too – “bottomweight” fabrics need to have enough strength and structure to withstand stretching, kneeling, running, tripping, and in our case, crawling, while still offering a bit of flexibility and comfort.

Anyway, it’s a finnicky garment to design for function, and then you have to add good looks to the equation; maybe that’s why the Uni-Look Pant took so long to produce. So sorry, if you’ve been waiting.

Recycled cotton leggings for boy or girl

We’ve been dreaming, prototyping, fitting, and tweaking the perfect ecological, uni-sex legging for months, and are happy to reveal a slim pant that not only decreases the amount of waste in the workshop, but also looks pretty sweet on boys and girls. It features a generous fit in the bum to accommodate bulky diapers, a slim (but not tight) line to the ankle, and a knee patch for extra strength and cushion where kids need it the most.

Pair it with an aletheia Junkyard t-shirt for an entirely eco-friendly, street worthy look, or get eclectic and match it with your baby’s best vintage button-up. Find the Uni-Look Pant for sizes 6MO, 12MO, and 2T at our shop for a mere $22.


It Was a Lovely Time

May 22, 2015


sale in the salonAs you may have heard, Aletheia Soft Goods and Aletheia Junkyard hit the market last weekend at the Heart-A-Whirl Arts and Crafts sale last weekend. Many thanks to those who came by – what an honor it was to see you on the most jam-packed day of the year in NE Minneapolis.

If you couldn’t make it, here’s what you missed: a handmade, reclaimed-material display!! Oh, and some great one-of-a-kind garments for baby.

setup for craft fair

Pop-ups and craft fairs are just as much about meeting people and sharing ideas as they are about sales. Selling clothes in a retail spot saves hours of preparation – not to mention the hours spent at the booth on the day of the sale – but the human element is missing. At the pop-up, we can meet each other, and you can say exactly what you think of our offerings (even if it’s offensive)! Feedback is always the best way to improve what we are doing. So come by next time and speak your mind, we couldn’t be more grateful.

Less Talk, More Baby Tee Making

April 29, 2015


Aletheia Junkyard upcycled T shirts

What a thrill to have a new batch of Tees ready to go for Aletheia Junkyard!! We have some really great offerings this time around – imagine Harleys, Hellenists, peeping toms, Team Business, and of course lots of good colorblocking. Look for them on our website this coming weekend and at Art-A-Whirl on May 16th (more details to follow, bring your sense of humor). If all goes well, they will be artfully paired with a unisex legging for a complete look that’s completely innocent.

Some new offerings for Aletheia Soft Goods are also on the way. They wait in bundles for a caring hand to come along and sew them up.

It’s a Label!

April 21, 2015


woven labelYes! We have labels and it’s very exciting. These little guys may not mean much to your munchkin, but for Aletheia Design + Sewing Service, they are essential. Fun Fact About Clothing Labels: it’s illegal not to have them. Our labels contain all the information you need to make a good purchase – the size, where it was made, what it is made of, and how to take care of it – so you know it will fit your child and your lifestyle. Later, they remind the laundry maid (is that you?) that gentle care is best, and help to extend the new life we give to these materials. You can also find a web address on the underside of the woven labels, in case you’ve forgotten where to get more and more great styles for Little Baby.

We were glad to work with a local partner, Allen at Midwest Labels, to have these made. In previous label-making experiences, it was a nail-biting process of submitting an image and waiting to see how it was interpreted at a loom in a state far away. This time, Allen was careful to confirm every detail so that we knew exactly what to expect when the labels came. All in all, we like it! His hot-stamp printed label is so classic, it feels almost vintage.

hot stamp printed label