In January, I had a chance to finish up and refine some details of the shop interior. It has finally come together in the way that I had envisioned it. It's an intimate space (12 square meters) that manages to contain my cutting table, sewing table, ironing station, tools, fabric, and racks. The cutting table is on wheels, which allows me to push it back and forth, giving extra space for shoppers on the retail side, or for myself on the working side, depending on the need at the time. The tailor's racks are on wheels as well, and have space below to store fabric and packaging. Everything now has its place, which creates order in my mind and supports efficient movements within the space. Not only is it a great studio/workshop, the space sets the tone for the products made within it, and with a quick glance around, you can see all the steps involved in making a shirt.

retail/workshop space

five8ths has a new home! We will soon be moving into a new combined retail and workshop space in Johannesburg, South Africa!

My husband, Ben, started a new job here, so we will be living most of the year in what is affectionately known as “Jozi”. We have lived in Johannesburg on and off for the past ten years, so it is a place where I feel very much at home. From the climate, that is so similar to Colorado (where I grew up), to the group of friends who we've now known and grown close to over the past ten years, to the lifestyle that calms me down. Not to mention the high style-IQ on the streets. Jozi is a special place, and we are excited to be here. It was here in Johannesburg, during a previous stint, where I began to make custom and handmade clothing, spending my time learning and doing what I love while my husband has conducted research over the years.

My goal has always been to have a workshop space combined with retail, so that customers can see where and how five8ths clothing is made, and so that I can interact with clients in the context of the studio. I will be setting up shop at Maverick corner, a newly developed area of the Maboneng precinct, on the corner of Commissioner and Albrecht. five8ths will be next door to a women's/children's bespoke and handmade clothing boutique on one side, and an Ethiopian restaurant on the other side. Across the courtyard, there is a bespoke bicycle shop with adjacent workshop that will be open to the public for DIY bicycle maintenance. Maverick corner will also be home to a bar, a burger joint, a food-truck that sells sweets, and an African fabric emporium! Across the street, developments are near completion for the “Artisan Lofts” apartments, and within the next year, MOAD (Museum of African Design) will move in along side a restaurant/B&B/cigar bar. Right now, our space is in its final stages of renovation, and we will start moving in later in September. More details to come as the design of the space takes shape!

In addition to the shop in Johannesburg, five8ths will continue to operate as an online boutique, and carry stock in the US. US customers can still order online, and in-stock items will be shipped from there. New custom orders will be shipped mostly from South Africa, unless I am in the US at the time, but shipping prices will not change.

Looking forward to seeing both new and familiar faces in the shop and online!

A map of the Maboneng Precinct is below. five8ths will be located at Maverick Corner (#8).



For my whole adult life, I have been self-conscious about my tendency to be a bit OCD.  I always worry that I will annoy people by being so thorough, so fastidious, so knit-picky, etc.  I'm always apologizing for these behaviors, both verbally and with my body language.

Recently, I've experienced the benefits of being so particular, so attentive to detail-----it means that I do a good job on a number of things (where this would be important)!  That high standard for the quality of every detail of what I'm working on has been noticed both in my Montessori activities and my work in fashion.  It really boosted  my confidence to, for the first time, acknowledge that something I've always considered a failing might actually be an asset (while still underscoring that it can also be a hinderence in certain ways and activities).  

I don't feel, for once, that I need to apologize for the way that I am, but that it is what makes me great at what I do! :)


Holiday Heap 2011

Thank you to everyone who stopped by my table at Holiday Heap this weekend!

All along as I've established five8ths, I've emphasized that I want my clothing to be thoughtfully designed and well-made, from high quality materials. My inspiration is a simple lifestyle, in which one chooses clothes carefully and wears perhaps fewer, higher quality, unique-but-timeless clothes.

After weeks of preparing for the craft fair, alone in my studio, and years of envisioning the five8ths clothing line and business, the most rewarding part of Holiday Heap was interacting with and receiving feedback from shoppers and vendors. The clothing spoke for itself--it elicited the kind of remarks I had hoped for, and some responses even fueled new ideas.

Now that I am headed back into studio-mode, I am riding the flow of momentum from the craft fair, steering a course based on the feedback from the diverse group of people who attended Holiday Heap.  I will be fulfilling orders from the fair over the next few weeks, and updating my etsy store with the remaining available Shackets and Keyboard shirts.  I will also be building stock and developing new designs.

Please leave a comment if you have any—as you can see I appreciate it!


I recently acquired a seam allowance guide, which magnetically attaches to your scissors and serves as a reference point for how far away the scissor blades are from the pattern pieces, ideally eliminating the need to mark seam allowances on patterns that don't include them.  The key word is "ideally".  After a short trial, I decided that my own visual estimation of a 5/8", 3/8", 7/8", etc. seam allowance was more accurate and more quickly cut.  The protruding magnetic guide seemed to be getting in my way more than anything.

I'm disappointed that I spent money on a tool that I won't get much use out of, but its role in my life did one amazing thing: it gave me the confidence to trust my skills and eyeball it!

I feel like I've graduated (from the sewing version of about Kindergarten), or taken one step up the ladder of mastery of my craft.  It reminds me of an article I read years ago about a furniture maker, who explained that through repetition, he'd developed the ability to measure with his eyes, and that rulers actually hindered his craft and he didn't trust them as much as his eyes!  I found that amazing and yet somewhat unbelievable....until now! :)