Modest sewing pattern and clothing resources for women -

Welcome, sewing pattern enthusiasts! Things have been busy in 2014 at the home office of Fashion Belle. I had hoped that the launch of my sewing patterns for women would occur by early fall, but so far the work is still in progress. Half of this year has been taken with contract employment with other companies, and beyond that most of my spare time has been donated to unexpected home repairs and aiding 14 refugees who were settling in my area. Please keep checking back for progress on the pattern collection, and also use the tabs above to explore reviews of hundreds of other companies that provide modest clothing and sewing patterns.

Eternity Wedding and Formal Gown Company Closes

Bridal and formal gowns from Eternity

On October 12, 2011, the Eternity modest bridal and formal gown company, which was one of the very first that we featured here on our site, officially closed. For nearly a year prior to this date, I had known thanks to Lynette Robinson, now retired from The Gallery by Lynette, that Eternity was assumed to be out of business by retailers such as herself who had carried the line in past years. Even though Eternity had not been returning phone calls or emails for months, the website remained online until the official closing was announced on Facebook.

My first introduction to Eternity gowns came through an ad in the Dallas, Texas, apparel market material given to buyers at the shows around 2006. The ad immediately caught my attention because the featured bridal dress was both modest and beautiful, a rare commodity. According to Eternity's Facebook profile, the manufacturing business began in 1990. Jane Walker had been designing and sewing custom gowns for clients in Michigan for years and then retailing other brands through her and her husband's Walkers' Bridal Emporium in Utah since 1984. From 1984 to 1990, Jane continued to use her skills as a seamstress to alter for modesty the dress brands they carried in the store. Then in 1990, she decided to design and mass manufacture her own line of modest dresses to help supply the need for dresses that were cut modestly from the beginning. Eternity was one of the earliest pioneers of bridal and formal wear that was both modest and modern as mainstream bridal styles began to shift to nearly all strapless designs in the mid-1990s. Around 500 retailers in the United States carried the Eternity line.

Lynette Robinson provided me with a little more history about the company. She said that the founders, Jeff and Jane Walker have a daughter and son who were active in the business. The daughter Jana took over the business, and later the Walker's son stepped in to handle manufacturing. Over the last decade, many other modest bridal and formal gown manufacturers have emerged as competition, but we still loved the Eternity website and many of the beautiful designs that were offered. Because of their length of time in business, they had a broad collection of styles and an excellent reputation. Two of our favorite styles were featured in the screenshot that we used for our former review, pictured here now with this post.

We will miss you, Eternity, and we'd love to see your brand return if possible. Thanks for all of your fabulous years of serving the modest bridal and formal gown market. We appreciate Eternity's contribution in paving the way for many similar companies to follow in the footsteps of their modest bridal and formal styling. Current shoppers may find alternate resources in our reviews of stores with modest wedding dresses.

Update

After this article was originally posted on November 22, 2011, comments began to come from people who had ordered Eternity dresses that were never delivered. Retailers around the United States that carried the Eternity collection resolved most of those complaints with their customers, however several people who ordered directly from the Eternity owners' outlet, The Emporium, at 1497 South State Street in Orem, Utah, received neither their orders or refunds. Comments left around the web indicated that the company had been forced into bankruptcy and that final orders were never even sent to be manufactured.

It is apparent from comments placed by Eternity Gowns staff on social media sites in August 2011 that the business was going forward as usual. Then an announcement of closure was suddenly posted on the Eternity Gowns Facebook page on October 12, 2011. A few weeks later, the closure notice was deleted, leaving only promotional posts prior to that time, and the Facebook page was completely deleted by January 2013. Unexpected closures are hard on everyone. When bankruptcy is involved, a company's financial obligations often remain unresolved, from large debts to small ones. Occasionally, partial claims may be recovered by participating in bankruptcy proceedings. The experiences of those who did not receive orders in 2011 is regrettable, especially because Eternity was a stable supplier for decades in the modest bridal industry.

Comments

Many appreciative comments were posted to this original article. A few are reprinted here.

Wedding Dress, Lavynear Collins, April 17, 2012
"My aunty who lives in the States in Utah bought my wedding dress from Eternity gowns, one that I picked all the way from here in New Zealand for my wedding on March 31st 2012. I absolutely loved the way the dress looked on the site and then couldn't wait to get it so I could see it, and once it arrived and I had my fitting I fell in love with the dress straight away and couldn't wait for my wedding day to show it off! Everyone complimented me on my dress and how much they loved it. I wish I could wear my dress again. Sad that I could only wear it for one day but loved the fact that I got to wear an "ETERNITY" gown and looked stunning in it!"

I am SO sad that they closed! Jennica, February 12, 2012
"I am SO sad that they closed! I found absolutely the PERFECT wedding gown that I absolutely LOVED on that site... When I went to show my friend the website was down and I was hoping it would come back up! I am SO sad!!!! >>> :("

Wedding Dress, Terry William, March 16, 2012
"I loved their dresses. They had very unique and trendy collection with lots of varieties."

Eternity, Sarah, September 11, 2013
"I too loved the elegant and modest Eternity designs. I have not seen their equal on other modest gown sites. I was always sending friends to them!"

Buying Eternity from alternate source? Chisce, January 19, 2013
"I've found some of the Eternity dresses on Best Top Prices and I'm wondering if this is a reputable site to buy their dresses from at all? Something about it feels fishy, but they list themselves as having 93 of the Eternity Sacred Occasions dress that I've wanted for several years. Should I go ahead and get it? Does anyone know anything about this site? . . . I miss Eternity! :("

Beware of Knock-Offs, Fashion Belle, January 21, 2013
"These dresses are knock-off fakes, and I recommend staying away from this website. They have stolen the original pictures from Eternity's site, but the dresses are made offshore and will be of far inferior quality, both in the fit and materials used. You will be happier with dresses purchased directly from a reputable company that is still in business. Check our modest bridal and formal reviews to find dozens of companies that produce gowns like Eternity's."

Dolce & Gabbana Lead in Visual Merchandising

Floral printed dresses from Dolce and Gabbana Winter 2013 fashion show

(Photo credit: Dolce & Gabbana, Fashion Show Winter 2013, Woman) The study of best practices in visual merchandising has become a special area of interest for me in the formulation of plans for marketing Fashion Belle sewing patterns, both on package covers and possibly in retail fabric stores with a display of custom fabric. New York City's concentration of designer flagship stores offers a stunning introduction to what can be achieved through the use of construction materials, finishes, color and layout in visual merchandising within retail stores. While perusing these stores in 2008 at the end of my 18-month stay in the city for patternmaking work, the Dolce & Gabbana store at 825 Madison Avenue impressed me as my favorite. (Future visitors to New York should be aware that with the company's opening of a nearby location at 717 Fifth Avenue, speculation exists that the Madison store may eventually close). The interior design was not one that I would have naturally chosen, with expanses of reflective black surfaces, oversize chandeliers and gold accents, as my tastes generally lean toward light colors and simple fixtures. However, the Dolce & Gabbana interior offered a perfect balance of simplicity with luxury, and I felt transported into a world of modern luxury as soon as I stepped inside. Plenty of open spaces and a grand staircase kept the black from overpowering, and the chandeliers provided contrast to the remaining simple shapes.

Because of my impression of the Dolce & Gabbana store in 2008, I have since visited the company's website several times to see what I might learn about online visual merchandising. Over the past few seasons, the site has offered a burst of random photos on the home page, and links lead to a maze of other entertaining material. People who want to spend time enjoying the fashion experience probably enjoy the depth of the Dolce & Gabbana site layout, but shoppers who want to go straight to the products may prefer more direct navigation. During one visit to the site, I was delighted to find a beautiful collection of needlepoint florals inspired by Sicilian Baroque for the Winter 2013 women's collection. Two of my favorites are pictured. To view close-ups of the needlepoint florals and the handcrafted gold accents that define the collection, see the Dolce & Gabbana FW13 Womenswear Video Guide. While Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana are far from being known as designers focused on modesty, they do produce modest styles from time to time, as is common among most designers at their level.

Making Your Sewing Room Beautiful and Secure

Sewing room door with Kwikset Smartkey lock installed

Pictured is one of the doors leading to the Fashion Belle patternmaking and sewing office featuring a newly-installed Kwikset SmartKey door handle and deadbolt lock with technology that makes re-keying easy.

All of us want our homes to be secure, but that is especially the case if we have special equipment such as in a sewing room. When a child is in the home, it is also important to use locks to secure rooms with machines or heavy items that might be dangerous to a tiny explorer who slips in unnoticed. Even with locks, heavy items such as rolls of pattern paper should be stored safely so that nothing can fall accidentally on anyone who accesses the room. Recently, I have made some upgrades to my sewing pattern work room, including new paint, window treatments and exterior door locks, and I wanted to share with you tips I discovered through this project.

Kwikset SmartKey locks can be re-keyed yourself

My introduction to Kwikset SmartKey technology that allows users to re-key their own locks came the old-fashioned way, by reading package information in the door handle aisle of the hardware store. With the vast resources of the Internet, I rarely embark upon a shopping trip without educating myself online first about potential products. This time I had not done prior research, assuming that door handles were standard and that I simply needed several door handles and deadbolt locks to replace failing ones on old doors. When I saw the claim "re-key anytime," I was impressed. Because I needed so many new locks, I had thought that I would need to either hire a locksmith to synchronize the locks or settle for juggling multiple keys. The Kwikset SmartKey technology would solve that dilemma, so I chose that brand.

Aside from one lock that jammed, I have been thrilled with the new door handles and deadbolts that I have installed on exterior doors leading to my sewing office. They install easily, work smoothly and look great. Kwikset also offers several styles suited to interior doors. A thorough reading of the instructions before attempting a re-key should help prevent problems such as I had. Kwikset advertises SmartKey technology as an advantage if keys must be given to repair personnel or neighbors. The lock could be re-keyed to a temporary loaner key and then returned to the primary setting later. My perspective is that unless you trust a person to take care of a permanent key to your home, that person should not have a key at all. It is unwise to allow strangers to enter your home when you are not there. Also, it could be risky to re-key the lock frequently because of the chance of freezing the lock if the process is not precisely followed.

How to unfreeze a jammed Kwikset SmartKey lock

If you have found this article while trying to fix a Kwikset SmartKey lock that has frozen during the re-keying process, read on. If not, skip this section.

Kwikset maintains a live help phone line which I called twice while trying to unfreeze one of the locks. The first representative offered to mail me a new lock overnight, which I wished I had accepted after hanging up and working another fifteen minutes with the lock to no success. The second representative told me to take the lock to Home Depot, an authorized USA service outlet for Kwikset, where a store worker could use a key re-set cradle. Both representatives said that the problem I had was most often caused by not inserting the new key fully during the re-keying process, so unfreezing the lock involves jiggling the new key by increments of a hair's breadth over the first three or four pins of the lock to find the position to which the lock re-keyed. Once that position is found, then the re-set process may be repeated and the new key fully inserted. The re-key technology is so accurate that it mirrors the exact position of the new key when it is first inserted, making it essential to insert the new key correctly. This solution did not work for my lock, however, and the key re-set cradle at Home Depot was also ineffective. A more experienced locksmith at the store where I had originally purchased the handle said that the lock was jammed, and he was able to fix the lock and re-key it so that it works.

Use quality paint like H-I-S for sewing room walls and doors

Anyone who has worked with various grades of paint knows that a large percentage of the ease of a job may be calculated by paint quality. For repainting interior walls and exterior doors to my sewing room, I experienced paint on both ends of the quality spectrum. First, I started out with a mid-grade Valspar paint from Lowe's (in the USA) and was unhappy with the thin coverage. As a result, for the exterior doors and additional interior painting, I switched to H-I-S Ultimate exterior paint in a satin finish, which was luxurious by comparison. The texture was like cream to apply, coverage was outstanding, and the paint comes with a lifetime guarantee against deterioration. I also used some H-I-S satin aqua enamel to produce a hard finish on several interior doors, and the texture of that formula was thinner and not as easy to apply as the Ultimate. H-I-S paint can be ordered from anywhere in the USA, and international shipping is also available.

For applying the paint, I used rollers and a Purdy paintbrush that, with all the exterior trim, has been through about 10 gallons of paint so far and dozens of scrubbings at the end of painting days. The bristles are still strong, flexible and have held their shape, and I think Purdy comes close to the truth with its tagline, "The world's best paintbrushes." My HANDy Paint Pail with disposable liners has been an essential tool, with its perfect size, wide handle and magnetic brush holder that make toting paint up and down a ladder easier. And of course, ladders. We have a collection of ladders in varying heights, but the important thing to remember is to use them safely.

Sewing room window treatments

To finish out my sewing room renovation, I installed faux wood window blinds with 2" wide slats, and I am using GE Silicone II caulk to seal cracks around the exterior window frames and doors. The blinds offer a professional look compared to fabric curtains, but they do require time-intensive dusting. I have not found a vacuum to be totally effective and usually wipe each slat individually by hand occasionally in addition to more frequent passes with a vacuum hose.

Looking ahead to Fashion Belle women's sewing patterns

This post is different from most of my topics that focus on fashion, but it is reflective of work that must happen to keep the workplace repaired and ready for production.

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