Sunday, December 31, 2017

The Big Story of 2017 I save for last: McVogerick and Simplicity Are One Family Now

It's going to get real nerdy here.

I was surprised at how low level a story this was this year.



PLYMOUTH MEETING, PA, November 3, 2017 - CSS Industries, Inc. (NYSE: CSS), a leading consumer products company within the seasonal, celebrations and craft markets, today announced that it has completed the acquisition of Simplicity Creative Group (“Simplicity”) from Wilton Brands LLC for $64 million in cash, subject to certain closing and post-closing adjustments. 
Simplicity is a leading provider of home sewing patterns, decorative trims, knitting and crocheting tools, needle arts and kids’ crafts products under the Simplicity®, Wrights®, Boye®, Dimensions®, and Perler® brand names.  Simplicity’s products are sold to mass-market retailers, specialty fabric and craft chains, wholesale distributors and online customers.
“A key component of our strategy is to strengthen and expand our portfolio in core markets through new product development and complementary acquisitions,” said Christopher J. Munyan, CSS President and Chief Executive Officer.  “Simplicity’s pattern business is the perfect complement to our recently acquired McCall business, and the other product lines expand our reach into adjacent markets such as kids’ crafts and needle arts.  Simplicity has built a strong portfolio of well-established brands in the craft industry, and we welcome their talented team to CSS.”

Who else is owned by CSS?
This is at the bottom of the McCall's Pattern page
make this bigger to read it
I have read nothing about what this means to you and me, and how it will be handled. Simplicity is not mentioned on the CSS webpages except in their press release for this purchase. I only know about this deal because I read about these deals for a data research job.
To that same point,  the McCall Pattern Company is not mentioned in their webpages either.
In researching this article, I did find this website and blog post
And you should read her blog. Good stuff there.
 But that's it.
For a little history:
I did find this
They were a hot prospect in 1976. It took until 1998 for them to be plucked.
James J. Shapiro (1909–1995) founded the Simplicity Pattern Company in 1927 and was its first president. The company was based on an idea of his father's, Joseph M. Shapiro (1888 Russia—1968 California), a magazine ad salesman.[1][2]
In 1998, the company was acquired by Conso International Corp.[3][4] Conso subsequently changed its name to Simplicity Creative Group, Inc., and since November 3, 2017 has been a subsidiary of CSS Industries.[5][6] Until 2007, the company had its main plant in Niles, Michigan.[7]

Backing up a little:
from that page: "Conso, which is headquartered in Union, is the world’s largest producer of decorative trimmings for home furnishings. It also sells decorative window hardware accessories and a variety of instructional publications for the use of decorative trimmings, tassels and window hardware. In addition to its U.S. operations, Conso has manufacturing facilities in the United Kingdom, Mexico and India. It had net sales of $73.4 million in 1997. Simplicity, which will continue to be based in New York, produces sewing patterns and catalogs for the apparel, home decorating, craft and costume markets. It posted sales of $55 million last year. “This transaction marks the end of one phase of Simplicity’s development and begins a new era of increased opportunities for our company and our associates,” Morris said. “Over the last several years I have said the key to success in our industry is to become a multi-products company. We are excited to be joining the Conso team.” 
Wrights was founded in Massachusetts in 1897 as William E. Wright & Sons.[1] Wright & Sons remained independent until 1985, when a group of shareholders—including a grandson of the founder—enabled the Newell Company to acquire a minority share in the company; by the end of the year Newell had achieved majority control and by 1987 total ownership.[2] In 1989 Boye Needle Company was merged into Wrights.[1] In 2000 Conso International, a South Carolina manufacturer of trims to the wholesale trade, and owners of the Simplicity Pattern brand, bought the company.[3] Conso changed its name to Simplicity Creative Group and was acquired by Wilton Brands LLC and in November 2017 by CSS Industries.[4][5]

One big umbrella to cover them all. Well, almost all: Burda is only distributed by Simplicity, not owned. 
And CSS only bought McVoguerick last year in 2016 
 It does make me wonder how they will deal with Walmart and JoAnns (are there any other big chains now?) for distribution. CSS has let the previous three nameplates exist, and I assume they will continue this with Simplicity. They certainly are not claiming them very loudly; their 'face' products are craft items. 
screen cap from CSS webpage

'Complimentary acquisitions' in 'core markets' makes me a little uneasy. Eventually the charm factor will subside and the parent company will need to renegotiate with it's subsidiaries. There will be duplicate personnel and facilities.
What will be different will be the licensing agreements with designers and, I assume, the coming Disney monolith with 20th Century Fox.
I look forward to the clash of the titans and how this resolves in the new kleptocracy.
And damn, this could be a time suck
I mean, actual online games. I'm not screenshotting this. You go look.
from their respective Wikipedia pages. 
links : I'm trying to cut down on my linking but not my giving credit when due
text from the link that I copied verbatim 

Saturday, December 30, 2017


... is when I buy something used that I wouldn't touch with a ten foot pole at the shop it started out in.

Ananda jeans from GVF. Anything from Forever 21. Hobby Lobby. Gap. Torrid. Either can't afford them or dislike them or nothing fits me properly. 

I let someone else buy them, break them in, get tired of them, and donate them. And then I buy them. 

Someone got paid for their first job to sort through them. Maybe the company isn't as charitable as they present themselves to be. Value Village combines their charitable funds and their for-profit funds in a way that muddies their nonprofit status (the short version of this: you keep those piles separate and well accounted for, or you don't get the benefits at tax time). At present, they and the Attorney General of Washington are suing each other over their charitable status. But they have the stuff and they put it out on the shelves everyday. If you follow my IG feed, you know they have sold me (and you) some sweet sweet things, from that honey of a Singer Slant to those 69 cent Vogue patterns (the Givenchy McQueen and that autographed Edith Head, just to mention two more notable ones)  Goodwill pays their CEO and upper management redonculous salaries and puts the good stuff online on Ebay and Amazon, where I can bid on it at my peril. 

I bought a pretty sweet military style winter coat, Forever 21, that needed new buttons and mending (all the parts were there, just not sewn on very well), but for $5, it was worth it as a gift for my pal JPo. Yes, $5 and over $60 for new buttons from Nancy's Sewing Basket. It took over a month for the Button Orderer to see the order on her desk, but eventually it happened.

Friends, she's worth it!

And speaking of buttons and Nancy's
This sign was posted in Nancy's. And this my friends is why Amazon and Joanns and Home Depot and Walmart all suck it if you produce an item; they demand all your business exclusively, or they won't buy from you at all.

Nancy's is still closed and the space is up for lease, but mid-December, there was still a lot of stock and furniture in there.

As for sewing, I am working on a winter coat (posting process on IG), and attending to the almost 21 year old son home from college. There's going to be a time when he doesn't come home here, and I'm enjoying his company while I still have it.
See you in the new year. Hopefully in a new coat!

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Holiday Gift Sewing 2017

It was a well loved shirt.

No one remembers when he got it, but it was in heavy rotation for years.
He's my boss, and his wife commissioned me to make a new one.

The hardest part is finding a similar fabric. Not so much color and stripe, but the softness factor.
I bought the yardage at District Fabric, and started washing it.
Over and over and over.
For a month.
It stopped shrinking pretty quickly, but it took about five or six washes for it to soften up much. It's not as soft as the original, but it's pretty nice.

New yardage on the left, old on the right.
Funny, the buttons match the new better than the old.
And yes, they say "Fender" on them.

I cut the old one apart and used it for the pattern.
See that little angled notch on the seam allowance at the bottom? That's my 'the fold over is here and goes over you ninny' shorthand
I do call myself a ninny now and then. Other words more often.

It's not a match, but it works on it's own.
I have been moving this shirt out of photo range since I brought it home in September. I had to crop a bunch of choir dress rack photos because it kept peeking out and the boss reads this from time to time. Hiya boss!

I am not working with my usual photo software, the old drive is still out, so this is not the correct color. The lighter blue in the brighter photos is the correct version. But this is a pretty photo, so screw it.
The wear hole at the corner of where the top patch is consistant all over the shirt. It's almost threadbare.


More done

Other sewing is the Totoro Bag and the usual Spoonflower BOGO fat quarter tea towel assortment.
Last year it was maps of Seattle.

This year it's an assortment of bespoke towels with children's art, and those kids didn't sign a release form.
Plus she'd kill me.
There is the Tototo one (for the person with the bag)
There will be a bag tutorial in the coming weeks, but I didn't want to show this before it got given.

I drew the comma textures, and color matched the body. Essentially I am using the motifs not the design as a whole.
No Totoros were harmed in the making of this bag and towel.

And because the holidays need hats and scarves
Faux fur hat and scarf. The hat is much better than the tiny head makes it look.
It is disturbingly soft.

And vacuum, because faux fur. 
I recommend vacuuming the seams of the finished item as well. Better now than wear it later.
And the rosebud ribbon hat. 
the sharp eyed have seen this in the background since last Spring and I'm just getting around to finishing the lining.
Yes, that's a scrap from last year's crazy quilt trim and no, she hasn't hung that quilt up yet.

No. Just no. Why do you need rapid champagne consumption?
Or, if you do, you have some issues that are better addressed elsewhere.
No judging here, but EW.

Yes. And that's the new machine I sewed them with ;)
Happy holidays to everyone and everybody.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Miyake Greatest Hits or Fall 2017 RTW

I know, I'm sewing like a madwoman, but this fell on me and I couldn't ignore it.

The front half is just greatest hits to my mind.

And of course, I adore it.

This era Miyake. Plus a dab of Pleats Please
The collar is attached at the back, not sewn to the front neckline.

Poiret Cocoon coat sleeve/front seam

You get the idea.
Almost done, almost Xmas, see ya later. 

Monday, December 18, 2017

Summing Up: Mendings 2017

I'll be honest: I have a big gift sewing post all ready to go. All we need is for Christmas and birthdays to come around and people to get their gifts and see them and not see them here first.

But it's December 18, so that means that post ain't going up soon. So let's start that end of the year "what on earth did I do that didn't deserve an entire post?"

Mending. Lots of mendings.

There's the shoulder reinforcement interior yoke: an ErnieK speciality
The Other Beacon robe's shoulders are all torn up from Cat Carrying.
Love that girl, but she's spoiled rotten.

She Who Must Be Carried.
I think she just likes being at head height.

This is the interior of a shirt of my sister's that got a reinforcing yoke across the back. 
The terror of sewing a big snap onto someone's special leather coat. It worked, but I was terrified the entire time.

Which takes me to trimming next to patches. My duckbill snips are AWOL and while I should just buy another pair, I can't seem to. So I make do with shears.
Aim blade towards seam

Turn blade and cut.
This is a very visible mend, but the technique is the same on the ones I did that are prettier. I want it to be close.

Then we have: pull on pants get a fly. Which means we need to find fabric to add on to make the fly. And the waistband needs to be longer in the front to overlap.

I stole this fabric from one of the interior pockets. Not enough to match the fly, though. This was a quick and dirty job; I should probably replace that gray fly extension with khaki, though the pants will not probably need that as they are just wearing through in the seat.

There's a hole in the bottom of the puffy jacket interior pocket.

So I opened up a side seam

Pulled the pocket out

And stitched the hole closed (and reinforced it all along that line of stitching)

It's a long reach

And hand stitched the side seam back up.

I'll be back in a week or so with the big sewing wrap up. Once they are wrapped, that is.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Mystery Long Sleeve Shirt Fail, Success, ?? We'll call it a draw

This is what I thought the pattern was.

This is the setting I use for knit stitching.

Tell tale shoulder seam is not a vertical seam feature
This is what I ended up with.

Kids, get a good night's rest. Sewing is not a race! Don't make jokes about the Kessel run on Instagram and then sew tired!

Don't be ME.

So we go back to the shirt that works.

Turn it inside out.

No, it's not the right one. This is the pattern for teen boy.

It's 1/4 inch too small at all the seams.

So we trace another pattern off the one that works.

There's paper and pencils and a straight edge

I'm only going to trace half the sleeve

So I'm going to mark the center line extra nicely.

And to trace the seam edge on the top of the sleeve, I'm using a tip from KD King's playbook and use a wheel and tracing paper..

Place the waxy tracing paper between the item and the paper.

Use the wheel to trace the seam

And lookit! That nice red line is the seam.

Add a seam allowance and fold over and trace the other half.
It may not be perfect but it's symmetrically not perfect.

And label the pattern pieces properly so you can find them again.

The less I say about my knit Mystery Food experience the better. 
Both pieces were printed on offgrain fabric and I wasted a couple of hours trying to grain them up. I ended up cutting out the pieces on a single layer to get them as close as I could. 

I tried the 'fold and hang'. Nope.

This is truth.

I have a million photos just like this one.
The story of my life thus far

Used the 'put the magnet on the threads' trick to get it started. Yes, I'm using clear elastic in this shoulder seam. It's tricky to get started but it's worth it in the long run. And yes, I am about to zigzag over a pin and across another.

 Sewing over pins is my danger zone, baby!

Sadly, the fabric breaks white. Dark printing on white knits will do that where it's stretched.

This the back collar join. White fabric shows on the stretched fold. Le sigh.

It fits. The collar is twisty, but that's operator error. I wanted to get it done in time to wear on Thanksgiving. Which I did.

With a slight alterations of the armsceye to be able to raise my arms, I cut a second version from my Precioussssssss Liberty knit

I did use the art clips/bulldog clips to grain it up. It works.

But when you wash it, this is what happens if ifs not ongrain. And the folded hem is only off a very slight amount.
IF you click on this, it becomes a monster sized photo of epic panoramic fail. One of my better panorama pix, though.

And I did make one more, from the Art Gallery lemon knit.
Which turned out well enough, but it washes me out.
I may pick the collar out and add a contrast bit in there, but we'll let it be for now.
I would add a photo to show this, but I am experiencing technical difficulties and can't upload photos until I get another hub. Twentyfirst century first world problems; the big pc has shorted out and the only reason why I still have any files is that I backed it all up and kept it on backup.
I had to copy this from Instagram to load it here. Until I get back to the 21st century, I won't be posting a lot. Luckily I have a lot of sewing for presents to do.