With all of the excitement lately, and with an incredibly busy past few days… I kind of dropped the ball.
Yesterday was the official release of my most recent book, “Sewing For Skaters“… and I managed to forget to so much as MENTION it on social media, or blog it here! Whoops!
First off: No worries, dear foodies! I am currently working on several more cookbooks, and this by NO means marks an end to all of that!
When I recently released “Synchro Swimwear“, the first in my new “Spandex Simplified” line… I was a bit worried about how everything would come together, in terms of my website, current following, potential following, brand, etc. No problems yet, so… yay!
I’d got to say – I knew that “Synchro Swimwear” was going to be a huge undertaking, as SO much of it had to be re-written, everything had to be formatted, I had NO photos of any of the sewing techniques, no diagrams drawn – it was a huge job. When it was all done, I breathed a sigh of relief, knowing that my next sewing manual, “Sewing for Skaters” would be a much easier task.
You see, I’d already written the vast majority of the content… over a decade ago!
Back in 2000, I was still recovering from the car accident that had ruined my back. Skating was out, most forms of work were next to impossible, and I was being told I’d never walk properly again. (“Properly” meaning more than a few meters at a time!) I had moved back in with my grandmother to recover, and – at the ripe old age of 21 – I would need to find a way to get some more financial independence back, in spite of my injury/recovery.
So, I wrote. I took everything that I knew about sewing with spandex, and put together an extremely informative, 75 page manual – “Sewing for Skaters, Gymnasts, and Dancers … Oh My!”.
While ridiculously helpful an informative – spandex is a very niche sewing skill, but I knew how to teach ANYONE to do it! – book, it wasn’t much to look at. I’d typed it all up in word perfect, using tables to force some white space as needed. Printed out a double-sided master copy of it, scrawled some diagrams throughout, and VOILA – my masterpiece.
From there, it was photocopied at the closest office supply chain store, with a simple black text on grey cardstock cover, black plastic comb spine. Looking back, I should probably be a bit embarrassed by this first publishing effort.
The original diagrams (Excuse the horrible cellphone photo!)
But, even at $35… it sold like crazy. People loved it, recommended it to friends, and word spread quickly – even in the “childhood” of the internet shopping age. I received wonderful fan mail, requests for a follow up book – “The Skating Dress Style Book – and eventually toured to teach seminars to skating parents. I was still in a lot of pain, but it felt amazing to be helping SO many people learn skills that had been assumed to be out of their reach. The success led me to hire an artist to design more “proper” covers for the manuals – Watercolor paintings, which were then photocopied onto white card stock. I was SO proud!
The original covers (Excuse the horrible cellphone photo!)
A few years later, I burned out in sewing, and quit entirely – even taking those manuals off the market. I was so tired of sewing, of the fashion industry… I just wanted nothing at all to do with it.
As I mentioned in an earlier blog entry, I recently made the decision to overhaul and re release all of my previous manuals – those that had been published, those that had been in the process, and those I’d been intending to write.
For Sewing For Skaters, I had an interesting set of parameters and challenges to deal with. As it turned out, it wasn’t quite as “Easy” as I’d talked myself into believing!
For one, I’d be compiling both of my previous skating manuals into one. There was a bit of duplicate info between the two, some updating … it ended up being a lot of information to keep straight! Also, in compiling the two, it gave me some interesting challenges with regards to setting up a logical order for the information being presented.
An interesting challenge was the change in my syntax, then til now. I wrote it before I’d really adjusted to fitting in with people at all, and becoming comfortable with my Aspergers. It was written before I had started using contractions in my speech – I used to sound incredibly flat and robotic. Reading my earlier text, I’m amazed at how AUTISTIC I sound. I’ve had Aspergers the entire time, don’t consider myself “obviously” autistic NOW… but reading these earlier manuals? Truly bizarre experience for me.
Beyond the minor… what, “spectrum-identity crisis”?… there was also the issue of incorporating previous text (which was well loved!) into new text, in my modern-day syntax. I don’t know how much other people “hear” syntax, but it was rather jarring for me to read through transitions.
Then, there was the issue of image. While the original publication was primitive in construction, there were a lot of positives to it. Some of those diagrams were really great! The new book needed color, and it needed photos… but I also wanted it to retain a lot of the character of the originals.
Professional, color photos! (Excuse the horrible cellphone photo – irony!)
One of my very first decisions – when I first decided to overhaul the manuals – was to track down the artist that had done the original color covers to my earlier books – Jerry Minor. When I found him, I was so excited that he was still doing his water colors – AND that he agreed to do the new covers. Score! (Check out his work on DeviantART – fabulously talented, AND Geektacular!)
I decided to keep a lot of the original text, with only a bit of softening between the syntax transitions. I didn’t want to mess with a good thing!
Finally, while we decided that all of the new sewing manuals would be loaded with photography, I decided that they would retain a lot of the original sketches – sort of. To this day, I like the way they look. They’re not super professional – I am NOT an artist! – but they clearly show the steps that they are representing. I like that they’re more “rustic”, and they’re from ME. That’s important to me!
So, I fooled around with my husband’s Wacom tablet, traced a lot of the original diagrams, and cleaned them up a little. Character retained, even through the translation to digital!
The updated diagrams (Excuse the horrible cellphone photo!)
Anyway, yesterday was the official culmination of this overhaul, and I couldn’t be more proud. Jerry did a spectacular job with the cover, the content is amazing, easy to follow, and incredibly thorough… the photos and diagrams are clear and to the point, and it’s just an amazing package. Also, I’m thrilled to say that it’s not really any more expensive – those two photocopied, black/white manuals were $35 and $25 (75 and ~50 pages respectively), with most people buying both. Now, they’re available as one big, 152 page, full color, professionally bound, gorgeous work of educational art – for only $40 (Through me – $60 retail)! (Click here to order!)
I could NOT be more thrilled with how it turned out!
So, if you know any figure skaters or roller artistic skaters, be sure to let them know about this!
“Sewing for Skaters” is the second title in Marie Porter’s “Spandex Simplified” series, and is all about designing and creating spectacular and durable figure skating dresses. It combines techniques taught in two of Marie’s early manuals (“Skaters and Gynmasts and Dancers… Oh My!” & “The Skating Dress Style Book”), updated with new styles and techniques… now in beautiful full color, featuring many photos and sketches!
This book is appropriate for beginner to advanced levels of sewing ability, and is written from both a designer, and former figure skater’s point of view. It will teach everything from the basics, to tricks of the trade. “Spandex Simplified : Sewing for Skaters” will prepare the reader to design and make almost any design of practice or competition dress imaginable.
Given the cost of decent competition suits – or even practice dresses! – this manual will more than pay for itself with the savings from just one project!
The entire book is written completely in laymans’ terms and carefully explained, step by step. Only basic sewing knowledge and talent is required. Learn everything from measuring, to easily creating ornate applique designs, to embellishing the finished suit in one book!