Monday, October 22, 2007

A Great New Pattern Maker and A Bad Shoe Day

Late last week I flew out west to meet with a new pattern maker. If you've read our blog in the past, you'll know that our initial pattern maker left that business and stymied our progress for weeks. The meeting with Jeff - the new pattern maker - was great and very productive. I feel completely confident in his ability and reliability. In addition to his capabilities he taught me a number of things while I was there. He has over twenty years of experience in pattern making, a deep understanding of manufacturing operations, and a real knack for sharing knowledge in an easy, accessible way. I left our meeting exhilarated and optimistic. I think It'll Fit'll has turned a corner and is moving in a good direction.

I have written often enough about the challenge of getting measurements to create a database for sizing. Then, on the basis of those measurements the sizing system/grading rules are developed. Well, Jeff is expert at grading too. And, he's an engineer by education - so he's the perfect person to help me figure out the grading rules. Also, he designs markers. A marker is the layout of the pattern pieces from which the pieces of garments are cut for production. So, a consultant/teacher, pattern maker, grader, marker maker - and really nice guy - all rolled into one. I feel like I hit the jackpot! It'll Fit'll will be so much the better for working with someone this very, very good.

I am a believer in the ideas of karma and a yin/yang sort of balance in the universe. And, so, the positive experience of the meeting with Jeff was balanced with a less positive experience. All of the negative counterbalance for the day was absorbed by my loyal and valiant shoes.

When I worked in Corporate America I wore heeled shoes (pointy toes, mules, strappy sandals - you name it...) like a second skin. They were never uncomfortable; I was always sure footed; I enjoy a nice pair of heels, frankly. I also enjoyed flip flops in those days, but they were relegated to weekends and then only if I couldn't go barefoot. However, since I left that world, my flip flop to fancy/heeled shoes ratio is inversed. And I'm no longer so adept at wearing heeled shoes as I once was.

As I headed out of the house for my flight to meet with Jeff, I slipped on one of my favorite pair of "work shoes" - burnt sienna colored Anne Klein heels, moderately pointed toes, a little brown purely decorative "T" strap near the toes. Given my lack of recent practice wearing such shoes, combined with a very long walk from the parking garage to the gate, I had quite a blister once on the plane. I asked the flight attendant for a band-aid and moaned about my shoes having given me a blister. She kindly offered me four band-aids - "two for each foot." I told her "I hope to be back in my flip flops before I can go through four band-aids."

Well, that was it: the beginning of the bad shoe karma. As I was heading out of the Denver airport I stepped onto a down escalator. I didn't realize it, but my foot was too close to the next step which was about to rise up from the loop/belt. Sure enough, the jagged metal stair rose and sliced the back of my shoe as the escalator descended. It left a big slice and a couple of small gashes in the leather. I tried to smooth it back (you know how a mother's spit can work magic on a child's unruly hair or smudge or what-have-you...) Unfortunately, that wasn't the end of it. Later in day, I scraped the other shoe on the concrete step at Jeff's - rubbing the top layer of leather off a couple spots on that shoe.

I began to wonder whether the shoe repairman could work enough magic to make them pretty and presentable again. As if to answer those doubts, the shoe fates sent me one more message. It was past 10 pm. I was back at O'Hare and nearly home. I'd awakened at 3 am that day and was ready for a good night's sleep. I'd just missed the elevator to the parking garage area, so I was at the front of the crowd waiting for the elevator to come back up for the next batch of us. The doors opened and I stepped forward toward the empty elevator - but I found myself frozen in mid-stride. I couldn't lift my left foot. I had to step out of my shoe to free myself. Then I turned and grabbed for the shoe. It was stuck in a channel in the elevator's metal threshhold. I finally pulled the shoe free, but the little black rubber piece at the bottom of the heel was still stuck in that channel. I bent over and tried deperately to pull that out - and felt close to success a couple of times. I couldn't quite pull it out and while I struggled I felt the strong will of an ocean of people who wanted to get on the elevator but were blocked by my shoe escapade. I tried a couple more times and finally surrendered - leaving the rubber heel protector behind. The crowd was pleased, but I was chagrined.

I didn't want to put my weight on the unprotected heel lest the leather on the heel be destroyed too. So, I hobbled through the underground corridors finally making it to elevator center 3, then up to my car, and then - at about 11:30 pm - home. I slept soundly for over 10 hours!

Anyway, tomorrow I will take those shoes to the local shoe repair shop - despite what the fates may have planned. I'll be happy with whatever results the shoemaker can achieve. And when I wear those shoes in the future and spot the blemishes from this trip, I'll be reminded of the positive momentum that It'll Fit'll picked up on this trip. And I'll remember that everyone and everything suffers bumps and bruises and setbacks now and then. But as long as I can just keep putting one foot in front of the other, I can keep us moving forward.

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Donna Jean said...

Sherry, Sherry, Sherry, I could tell you so many "shoe" stories that I have encountered also at the airport! Not just mine, but my daughter Laurie's also!!!

Honey, Even if you are going to a "presentation", DO NOT WEAR THE HEELS ON THE FLIGHT"!!! Not only do your feet swell, but the beautiful shoes that you absolutely love, will become your most hated shoes for the rest of your life!!!

I know this from experience. I have now found that flip flops, slides, etc are the best bet for flying!!! Even if you are going straight from the airport to your meeting, wear the most comforable shoes and tuck your "cute heels" into your carry-on.

I just want to say that your story was very humorous and I enjoyed it very much!! Especially the part about the escalator! I HATE escalators, and Laurie will NEVER use them. Too scary!!!

I am hoping though that your meeting was successful, and I am hoping you mentioned the "adult" size issue too! That is what is most important to me!

On a side note, maybe you have resources etc about "little people" web-sites that may be able to help me out, since Laurie is not a child, and I have different issues regarding clothing for her size and age appropriate clothing.

Thanks for all you do! Donna

Sherry said...

Donna Jean, hi!

Hey, that's great advice - and it has never occurred to me. I'll follow that advice in the future.

In regard to resources for "little people", I'm afraid I don't know of any. I did research that in the beginning and came up empty handed. I did learn that 1 in 800 to 1,000 babies have Down syndrome. By comparison, only 1 in 25,000 babies are little people.

Donna Jean, it would help us design properly and move us closer to an adult line if we had measurements. To date we have no adult measurements. Can you provide Laurie's measurements for us? I can send you the instructions electronically or in hard copy form - whatever works for you. Why don't you email me at: and we can figure it out.

Thanks and warm regards -