Friday, September 19, 2014

Send in the Clowns

I had this idea that I would make clown costumes for my Etsy site. This is really part of a bigger plan, in which I teach myself to be a better seamstress, while making a little bit of money on the side. Someday I would like to design and sew clothes for myself. I'm not sure how serious I am about the clothes designing (maybe somewhat serious since I've been actively playing with the idea for about 3 years now); I thought a good entry-level trial project might be costumes for kids. If it doesn't work out, I thought, at least one of the kids will have a costume to wear for Halloween.

[photo removed]

When I was a child, my mom made a clown costume that was subsequently worn by all three of us siblings. Or at least, it was worn by me and one brother. She sent me these photos when I told her my plan:
[more photos removed]

My mom, endlessly supportive of whatever whim is crossing my mind, said, "Sure! Sew a clown costume! That's a great idea! The clown costume was SO EASY to make!"

First, I thought I wanted to make the pattern myself. I do love making patterns. It's like small-scale architectural drawing to me. I made the pattern for the baby cloak, so I thought I'd just whip up a clown costume pattern. Except, pattern making is not quite like architectural drawings. My first rendition of the clown costume became a big failure when I sat down at the sewing machine.

I broke down and bought a pattern (pretty much with the same resignation that I broke down and bought a new builder-built house). My time was too short. Sometimes, I told myself, you just have to cut your losses and improve the wheel instead of reinventing it.

The pattern agreed with my mother. This was an EASY project. Two hours! It claimed.

Of course, I had to improve it.

Days and days and days later, we finally have something resembling a clown costume:

[photo removed]

It's not done yet. Turns out, the boys don't care at all about how cute it looks. Or about the fabulously integrated neck ruffle. Or the circle and dot patterns (eventually) reiterated with strategically shaped patches. Or the experimentation with simultaneous contrasts in the color palette. They want function: a never-ending handkerchief in the pocket. Built-in squeaky noises. A secret water compartment and hose to spray unsuspecting people. AND the boys think they'd rather not be clowns for Halloween, thankyouverymuch.

All the work. My goodness. I'd have to sell it for a small fortune just to pay myself minimum wage for all the hours that went into it. It might be faster the second time around, but I can't really gauge whether I want to make one again or not. Sort of I do. Just to prove I can be faster and better and smarter about the whole thing. Then again, I think the entire household might fall apart if I spend any more evenings curled up with my sewing machine, making clown costumes that nobody wants to wear or buy anytime soon. That's the problem with not having a business plan, right? I'm just sort of randomly making stuff for the love or the experience. Which is fun, but not business savvy. I'm just not sure being business savvy is going to fill my creative desire, you know?


Pregnantly Plump said...

I think it's very cute, but my two oldest would also fight me a little on wearing it. But I think it might sell down in the south. Seriously. I know women with kids that age that would eat it up. You could try posting it on etsy.

Ann Wyse said...

Thank you, Pregnantly Plump, you've made my day!

Yes, the age is off thematically, I think. The pattern said sizes 2-4, and had size adjustments for smaller and bigger; I thought making it "as-is" I would end up with a 3: Nope. It's definitely a 4, if not a 5.

From what I read, this is a constant problem with patterns for kids – i.e., they're off in size. All the more reason to be my own pattern-maker. ;-)

Jennifer said...

It's super cute! You are very gifted with the sewing machine!

Ann Wyse said...

Thank you, Jennifer!

denvermara said...

It looks wonderful! And of course a couple of boys are about the function rather than the look! It looks lovely, and if you were doing it as a business, you would likely not enjoy doing it so much, I would think.

Ann Wyse said...

Thank you, Mara!

I think it is thoroughly my goal in life to find a "business" that I can enjoy when I'm no longer taking care of the kids. I think the enjoyment part will always be more important than the money part: which is just one of the amazing lessons I'll take with me from my kid-care sabbatical.