How to turn the proverbial “lemon” into Limoncello….

We have all had those time pop up in our lives.  Times where no matter how hard you try to move forward, things just keep popping up that create a backwards slide.  It’s at these times, we generally have two choices.  We can choose to wallow in our misfortune; to bemoan the fact that our car died, that our hours at work were cut, AND and unexpected trip to the doctor all popped up at the same time.  Or we can pull up our big girl panties and realize that our car will now get better gas millage, we get more time to enjoy with our children, and our family is now healthy and happy. Yes, at these times it may seem over whelming but each and every day it gets a little easier until we look back and say “what was I truly stressing about?”

Each time this happens in my life, I admit I succumb to those dark moments of grief and regret but I also realize these moments are getting shorter and less dramatic.  Age has it’s perks.

So one of the perks of learning from the past is planning the future.  I have decided to follow a dream.   Each day I take one step closer, sometimes it’s baby steps other times I feel like a Kangaroo.  At this moment and time I feel like a hibernating Zombie toad, waiting for the warm rains to stimulate some movement.   There have been alot of recent obstacles popping up that need to be overcome.  The latest in my line of “what now’s?’ is this:

Compounding patchwork... computers should not be quils.

Compounding patchwork… computers should not be quilts.

My primary work station, the one I am delicately writing this little dialogue on, has lost it’s ability to open-close-even stay upright.  It’s one of those wonderful malfunctions that can not be fixed…  The screen of my laptop completely snapped off and is no longer attached to the base… it’s a 5 year old computer and is still running like a champ.   Luckily my absolutely wonderful husband rigged up this snazzy “cast” for my computer.  A wooden base to prop the screen up, complete with a little bit of Sugru and a rubber-band to keep the screen from falling forward quickly (my poor fingers sometimes get caught).

Now my husband is a master at building computers, but pre-fab laptops were not meant to be “fixed”.  He has put together a list of the parts he needs in order to build me a fully functioning desk top, that will not only allow me to expand my photography hobby- but will also allow me to have the ability to set up my own web store front!  I AM SO EXCITED!  I have been designing my web store front in my head for years, and I finally get the chance to do it.

Here’s the hitch(es):  Hours were cut back at my full time job AND we are in the slow season for etsy sales.   Among other things…

Here’s the solution:  I have yards and yards and yards of awesome, amazing, unique, colorful, and completely-ready-to-be-made-into-custom-awesomeness fabric and supplies.  AND at the beginning of august I have 1 full week off of my full time job.  You ask, so what does this mean?  If you would like to help me make my goal of getting a new computer built for my business, by my wonderful husband of course, and stock up your swag bags for the upcoming holiday seasons at the same time, this is for you:

  1. first: contact me to discuss what you would like to have made, it can be an existing design or a custom one.
  2. select fabrics from existing stock
  3. expect your item to ship by 8/11/13
  4. RECEIVE 35% off the price.

* as an extra perk if you order an outfit including a piece made from our wonderful ruffle fabric, receive an extra 10% off that ruffle item.

All items will ship first class, unless priority shipping is cheaper.

This discount is not available for orders through etsy, unless you would like to use a credit card (prearranged custom listings only).  All orders will be done via email,  payment with a paypal invoice.  Our email is ursulaglassgoddess@gmail.com.

Please contact me today to get your order started!  And thank you for helping us reach one of our goals!!!

Advertisements

How did you do that?

I love to share knowledge, give out little hints and tips to those who ask.  Recently I have had multiple emails asking how do I make all my up cycled items look amazingly new?

Up cycled clothing, items, and toys are a joy to make and a perfect addition to any household.  Contrary to popular belief, they do not need to look used, worn out, have holes, or stains to be up cycled     The point of up cycling is to give used items new life, not just reuse them.

First step:  Find some thing YOU LIKE, that draws your eye.  If you don’t like it why would anyone else?

Second step:  clean it, wash it, dry it, repair it (is there bead work that’s loose? fix it)

Third step: when possible cut along side the seams to get flat pieces of fabric.  If you cut along the seams this gives the edges of the fabric a smooth, unpuckered edge.  All industrial sewing machines cause visible needle holes in the fabric… not attractive.

If you are reconstructing an item using most of the original seams, such as jeans into a jean skirt, this is a good time to use a seam ripper instead of cutting the fabric. Just sew along the original seam holes when possible.

When reusing lace, avoid ripping the seam.  Just cut the fabric that it is attached to as close to the lace as possible.  If it is a large piece of lace (an adult bodice for example), try to use it as a full flat piece work with the existing seams instead of reinventing the wheel.

Fourth step: IRON YOUR FABRIC.  This step does two things for you; first it gives you a smooth field to work with and secondly it tells you if the former owner smoked.  No matter how many times you wash it, if you add heat to the fabric the smell of cigarette smoke will always be present.  If you are marketing your item as *smoke free*, this is a very important step.

Fifth step: when ever possible work your pattern pieces to exclude holes or worn spots in the fabric…. just turn those parts into rags.

Sixth and the most important, least known step:  Starch. Simple. As. That.

Either before or after you construct an item using your up cycled fabric, starch it.  (1 part clothing starch to approximately 5 parts water)  No biggie.  Use a fine spray and iron dry.  This helps the fabric hold it’s smoothness through shipping and wearing.

Now If you don’t want to use starch (allergies, or for newborns), use vinegar water when ironing.  The vinegar smell goes away as soon as the water has evaporated while ironing.

Viola, that’s how I do it.   The picture below is of the latest set of adult wings I have constructed, on the right hand side over-lapping the rows is the description of what each layer is.  Do they look up cycled to you? Or just plain beautiful?

partsofawing

Parts of a wing

Upcyled, recycled, brand spankin' new wings.

The times, they are a’changing.

adult wing set

Play time

It is always in those moments of deep stress, self doubt, loss, or adversity that people look for support in silly little idioms.   We’ve all heard them, and when times are going great we snort with derision.  But when it is our time to make it through the trough in life’s waves, they stand out.  Everyone has been told:  “the greatest journey, started with a single step” or “where one door closes, another one opens” or my *favorite* “Just let go, the universe has a plan for you”.  Seriously?  Do you honestly think the universe really gives a crap whether or not I am alive, let alone if I can pay my cable bill? Get my car fixed?  I am sorry but that is just a tad too egocentric for my tastes.   In my short life, patterns have become apparent.  As fully functioning adults we need to embrace the patterns and work with them.

With the birth of our daughter, not only did we become an amazing family, but she also gave me an outlet for my artistic creativity.  I have always loved making things, I believe that everyone is unique and has the right to express who they are.  I do it through my craft. I especially enjoy taking old items, I call them “finds”, dismantling them and giving them new life. Either as a toy, an accessory,  a household item, or even clothing.   Since my youth I always collected these “finds”, even today I have pieces I collected years ago… still waiting for their ultimate purpose!

The amazing thing is, there were people who loved my designs (especially those I made for my daughter) so much that they bought them.  Lots of them!  Of course this has added to the  inspiration.

As my daughter grows (we are now into year 2) she continues to inspire the items I focus on.  Does she like to play with cars? or is she more interested in silk scarves?  What is she choosing to wear?  What catches her eye?  Well, for right now there is no absolute answer to those questions.  She will put the silk scarves on her hot wheels and push them around the floor, or she will have 5 socks on one foot, a headband around her neck… and nothing else.  She will crawl into my fabric stashes and pull everything out, just to bury herself in the softness.  But one thing for sure, if I make it for someone else, she wants it.

But times are changing in our household.  We grow and expand, we all learn and move onto bigger and greater things.  Recently I was asked, “if no one bought a single thing more from you… would you still continue to make things? new designs?”  My clear and instant response is “emphatically, totally,  and undeniably: YES”.  I made things long before anyone considered to trade or purchase them from me, and I will be here long after my shop closes.  (Granted I hope that this is a long way off!)

DrossinMethod

Cyprus Dreams

I do not craft my art with intent to sell, I do not redesign to fill the shelves.  I construct works of beauty, because that is what I do.

I love the challenge.

I believe in expressing myself.

And I know there are other people out there that have the same aesthetics as I do.

I do not want to become the next one hit wonder, I do not want retail stores across the world.  What I love most is the pictures sent of other little boys and girls happily playing or wearing my designs.  I love having friends, family, and even complete strangers send me stuff and ask me “what can you make for me?”

So yes, times are a changing.  A few big changes in our household will effect my ability to turn items out at a quick rate.  But I know, those who love my work will understand that what they get is well made, from quality materials, and unlike what you find elsewhere.  Even if for the foreseeable future it will take a little longer.

You see, I accepted a new full time job.  Our daughter will be going to school with her father.  The studio will be a footnote in our lives for the time being.   But this also means that my need for an artistic outlet will be in even greater need.  So I hope you will enjoy all the new changes to my Etsy shop and facebook fan page, and will enjoy all the new designs that flow from my head into reality!  Even if they take a little longer to make an appearance.

Sad Birdie

Sad Birdie

The times are a’changing, and we are looking towards these new adventures with open arms!

Just a little silliness!

It’s August, the middle of August in Florida to be exact. It’s hot, muggy, oppressive, and very un-inspiring.  This last week has really been a humdrum of motivation!    I realized this week marks the 5th year at my current job, a true landmark since I have never lived in one place for that long, let alone stayed at one job.  So I guess a mini-celebration is in store… yay!   Hey, I finally get bumped up to 3 weeks paid vacation.  I already have Gulf Wars and Pensic marked off, with formal vacation requests put in.  Something to look forward to in the up coming year.

On another note, as I was trying to stay cool, this evening I spent some time on the couch applying Gel-Nail polish.  They have recently come out with some fun colors, and I picked up a beautiful Lapiz blue… and of course a sparkly over coat.  Now, to many women out there, the act of putting polish on your nails is a common everyday whop-d-do.  But 3 years ago I did not have any nails… well okay, I had nail stubs.  Since I can remember I chewed the heck out of my nails, all the way down, to the quick and sometimes beyond.  My child hood is littered with memories of my Mother bribing me to stop.  I could get a radio if I did not chew my nails for a month… I’d stop, for a month, get the radio and then promptly start biting them off!  Or She’d take me to the movies if I let my nails grow out past the tip of my finger. Alas, we never went to the movies.

As some of you know, when you area habitual nail biter… your nails are thin.  When they do grow they peel, break, or tear super easy.  No amount of “nail hardener” works, it’s a gimmick and a joke.

Nor does the “taste bad” nail polish stuff.  It comes off just as easily as the nail does, and it does not taste that bad :).

Nail biting is a habit, plain and simple. There is just as much psychological issues mixed up with nail biting as there is the physical.  Its an expression of anxiety, a nervous twitch so to speak.  I can tell you, no one looks at their nails and says “Hmmm I think I will chew these off now”.  HA.  Most of the time I never even realized when I was doing it. I’d catch myself in the car, reading a book, in class, at work when waiting…  Even today my Husband will tell me to take  my hand out of my mouth (I asked him to do it, don’t worry) when we are driving.

So if it is a habit what made me decide to stop?  My brothers wedding.  I went over for my older-middle brother’s wedding and opted not to go with the girls to the salon, I had no nails. I was ashamed. Because of that shame I did not get to spend that time with my nieces or my new sister in law. Simple as that.

I decided to try and stop.

Remember I said it’s a nervous habit and you don’t realize you are doing it.  Its kind of hard to stop something if you don’t realize until it is to late that you are doing it.

So I went down to the crappy chain nail-salon, and had acrylic nails placed.  I admit it, they were poorly done and incredibly bulky, but hey you can’t chew those suckers… trust me I tried.  For me it was simple as that. I could not chew them, they were to hard.  I was able to paint them daily with different colors.  I was in 7th heaven!!! I finally, after 30 years, was able to paint my nails.  Such a simple pleasure, and one I finally could take part it.  I was like a kid in the candy store at Sally’s beauty supply.  I got really good at doing french manicures, and I don’t stick with the traditional!

One thing I have realized, I am obsessed with my nails.  If they are not perfectly smooth, if they have a chip, or a catch, or are uneven, all I want to do is chew them till they are perfect.   They have to be smooth.  No matter what.  It is a left over aspect of having no nails… after all pure skin is smooth, does not chip, and does not catch fabric!

It is now 3 years later, with the help of pregnancy hormones my nails regained strength and I no longer need acrylic nails.  I admit it, I have fallen off the band wagon many times, I have caused myself pain (ironically it never hurt to chew my nails before!).   But I love to paint my nails. I hope to pass this on to my daughter, one of these day’s she may sit still enough to do her nails too.

I still can’t bring myself to go up to the local nail salon and have a manicure done, I have done it once or twice in the past and I just could not justify the cost.  So when they came out with the Gel-nails at home, I was ecstatic and jumped on that band wagon.  Granted because of my obsessive nature over my nails I end up redoing them every week (instead of the 2 recommended on the package), it sure beats having stubs as nail tips!  I have also actually gone for a couple months with no polish, and no (okay minimal) nail biting incidences.

Habits are hard to break, especially when there are psychological or chemical dependence on them.    Biting my nails was not a life threatening habit, nor did it harm anyone but me.  But I am incredibly proud that I have been working to overcome it.

Besides, taking product or example pictures are so much nicer when my hand does not look like an Ogre’s. LOL.

Now that evening has set in, and it has cooled down in our muggy part of the world.  Off to take my perfectly manicured hands and turn on the sewing machine.  Maybe some fun pictures will come of it?  We’ll see.

The True Price of Handmade.

The Price of Handmade.

When you say the word “handmade“, many of us think back to the days in our childhood, when our parents frantically stitched a halloween costume for us out of a table cloth and pulled out their expired make-up from the previous decade.   Or we think of those precious Christmas decorations made out of white pom-poms and pipe cleaners, somewhat resembling Frosty the snowman dueling Rudolph.   Do you remember the picture frames made out of homemade play-dough?  Oh my, I can still remember the smell.

Now, what do you think of when someone says it was “made by hand“?  First thing that pops into MY mind is the gorgeous quilt my grandmother spent months cutting out, patching together, and stitching delicate floral patterns with a tiny little needle and almost invisible thread.  Or the exquisite Easter dress that I only got to wear once, covered in bright flowers that my grandfather embroidered when he was spending time in a sanatorium recovering from TB.  Or the delicate hand painted porcelain dolls that my Aunt made me, but I could never play with.  All of these things I still have, and treasure above anything else in my house.  Even the memories bring tears to my eyes.

Heck I even think of the original Model T, which a neighbor down the road still owns and DRIVES weekly. Completely made by hand, restored by hand, and maintained by hand.

When did these two terms, handmade and made by hand, become such vastly separate labels?  When did we start to associate handmade with garage sales, back of the closet/junk-drawer items, or cheap?

There have always been independent artists; designing, making, and selling their craft.  Each and every one of them loves what they do and takes pride in each item that leaves their hands.   My Great Grandmother raised and sold angora rabbits, tanned their fur, spun, knit, and even wove it.  She did this during WWII GERMANY, while raising 5 kids under Russian occupation.  Her craft put food on the table and beer in my Great Grandfathers belly.  My Grandmother sold little girls dresses, knit sweaters, and real fur teddy bears to make a little extra “spending cash”.  All the while she raised 4 kids, learned a new language,  was a sanatorium “widow” for years, went back to school (bypassing an 8th grade Nazi education) to become a RN-technical nurse.  My other Grandmother made hand painted porcelain dinnerware, while raising 2 boys, as a widow.   My Aunt makes dolls; lots and lots of dolls.  While she raised 3 kids, was a Vietnam wife and put herself through nursing school.   Homemade crafting is the life blood of my family, we have always done what we loved  and made money off of it to help support our families.    My family is not unique in this I know.

When I hear “Handmade”, I think of unique, well made, and priceless.

So why is it in today’s society Made by Hand items rank less than Dollar store stock?  Why is it that so many people ask: why should I buy this from you when I can go to the “insert big  box store name here” and get it for less?  How has it become standard that handmade items are the trappings of the economically challenged? dime store commodities? craft fair fodder?

I ask you, when was the last time you bought a shirt from Walmart that lasted more than 3 washes, let alone a whole season?  If you bought a TV in the last 5 years, is it still working as it did on day 1?  How about your car, have you reached 150K miles? on the same clutch?  How about that $60 bathing suit, does it still… have stretch?  We live in a throw away society, manufacturers make items the cheapest-they-can-to-make-it-to-get-it-off-the-shelves.  As consumers, we strive to spend the least amount of money, which has forced the materials used to be of poor quality, the techniques used for assembly the barest minimum, and we don’t care who makes it (children, slave labor, or overworked FOREIGN factory employees).

In our endeavors for that “blue light special”, we as consumers, have been the driving force in the throw away condition of our society.  In response to this the mass marketing has caused us to become conditioned by the stores around us, advertising, media, and (…well…) downright laziness on our part.  Capitalism has its perks, and also its down falls.  Capitalism is run by the all mighty dollar.

Unfortunately this is also starting to transition into the world of independent artists.  It is starting to become standard practice to make something that just works, just stay’s together, the materials are just good enough to get by.   Because guess what, NOBODY CARES HOW LONG IT WILL LAST.  They don’t give a rats-ass that the tent you make for their wedding will still be there for their grandchildren to use.  They could care less that when their 5 year old is 20, they will still wear those dress up wings as a Rave accessory.  Nobody gives a shit that the skirt they bought for this weekends party will be a standard wardrobe staple for decades.  They just DON’T CARE.  They know they can “pop” into Target and get a new bejeweled t-shirt for tonights movie, and then use it for a dust rag tomorrow. Who cares?- it was only $15.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Reality check~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Minimum wage is $8 (ish) an hour.

Average yearly wage for a family of 4 is $21,000.

Gas costs $3.50/gal

Milk costs $4/ gal

Movies for 4 cost $70 for 2 hours.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ monthly health insurance $400~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Just imagine, if people re-evaluated their stand on handmade items, the changes that can happen?  Can you imagine a WARDROBE full of items that fit you, are comfortable, make you feel like a million dollars, and you only needed to add 1-2 items a year to “spruce things up”.  Do you comprehend how much money you can save, just by spending a little more money in the beginning?  Or is this to much forethought for today’s society?   Do we all have to look like the Kardashians…. or have accessories like Posh Spice?

How about buying (or reinvesting in) toys that are made with sturdy pieces, will not fade, tear, or flake. What about ones that don’t need new batteries every day, or do not have screens to be stared at or shattered?  Toys that make your child play with them, to figure out what they can do… Can you see your first child playing with it?  How about your fifth child?  Your neighbors child?  How about your grandchildren?

Can you see yourself working in your garage, using the same tools that your grandfather used?  That one day your granddaughter will pick up?  How about working on a car- THAT DOES NOT NEED A COMPUTER TO RUN?  Do you remember the days when the main pulley belt on your VW bug broke and you fixed it with your girlfriends bobby-pin…  I do, but it was my hairpin that got me home.

We, society as a whole, need to STOP, take a breath, and realize that it is our drive for the cheapest bang for our buck is what is truly causing problems.  Everything from the litter on the side of the road to the lack of jobs in the USA.  I know you think this is a broad statement, and want to call me out on it.  But sit back and think about it, really think about it:

~~~You want to go fishing, first off you have to have a boat (where is it made…? not the USA).  How is it fueled (gas won by war, not bought in the USA, not manufactured in the USA).  Okay, now your pole and tackle (where was it made? Probably not the USA… if you are lucky India), how about your bait? (squid and shrimp from china? flies from india? how about worms- from Mexico?).  How about your clothing (made in India? China? Mexico?) How about your sunscreen… hat… sunglasses… fish finder… Beer?  How can we forget the Beer, that had to be made in america?  (That was probably made by an american company with a manufacturer in Vietnam). What about that styrofoam cooler… that had to be made in… wait, China.  Now the ice, the ice was made in America- you watched it come out of an ice machine down by the gas station, okay the ice was made in america by a machine manufactured in Russia. ~~~

That was just to go fishing, with american ice.

Now comes the crux of it all,  You may be asking how can I afford to buy everything handmade (specifically from locals… hopefully in your own country)? You can’t.  Hello, you can’t.  But you can choose to buy them when ever possible. You can choose to make the conscious decision that instead of 5 new pairs of jeans this year, you will buy one full outfit MADE TO FIT YOU, IN THE COLORS AND PATTERNS YOU LIKE.  Step by step you can make the decisions that will not only impact you, your household, your wallet, but also help your neighbors.

You also need to be a proactive consumer, if the item is not made well and of poor quality don’t accept it.  Work with it until it’s right.  BUT you also need to be reasonable.  If you pay $10 for a skirt, you will get $1.50 in material, $1.50 in notions/supplies, and 3/4 hour of work.  That’s it.  The least amount the government will allow an employer to pay an employee is $8 an hour, so why in the hell should an artist/craftsman get paid less?

AH-HA! We have another issue of made by hand-  Worth.  This is not the worth the artisan believes it is, or the worth of the materials to make it.  This is the GENERAL WORTH.   To make this simple, how much do you make an hour? even if you are salaried… you can figure this out.  So why would you expect ANYONE else to accept less?  Especially if they are doing something for you that you can not do?

Most artisans have 6+ years secondary education. 10-15 years of hands on experience.  In the real world this equates to MANAGEMENT LEVEL EXPERIENCE AND EXPERTISE.  When is the last time you saw a manager making $8 an hour. GET REAL, AND RESPECT THE ARTISAN.  Guess what? When you do respect the artisan, you will get more than you ever bargained for.

Now that you have a grasp on worth, guess what?  We have to add in materials and supplies.  And I can tell you, this is a BIG difference.  There is no way I get the same amount of cost discount that Hanes her way gets.  They are a HUGE company… they pay pennies on the dollar for their supplies.  Guess what the local artisan pays for their supplies? yep, the same amount you do. IF they are lucky they can get a 10-20% discount, like I said… IF.

Now add another fly into the ointment, how about supplies made in america? HAHHAHHAAAH.  What electronics are made in the USA?  Do you know of any textile manufacturer in the USA? How about paint?   If you want it made in America by American supplies you need to add the worth and cost of just the supplies into the equation.  Mind boggling isn’t it?  The rabbit hole has just begun to open my friends.

Not only do you need to respect the WORTH of a handmade product,  but also the basic costs. So that handmade skirt from hand-dyed fabric you are eyeing… that took 12 hours of WORK…  once  upon a time you probably balked at the $80 price tag,  NOW what you really need to do is tell the seller they are underselling them-selves and then order 2. (Because, after all this is a capitalistic society… and if they undersell them selves why not jump at the bargain?)

Professional Pet Peeves… and a few personal ones too!

I have been quiet as of late on my Etsy and Facebook sites… My sewing mojo had been stymied.

Some may find this rant a little offensive, so please be warned.

——————————————————————–

So, as I have been surfing around the wonderful world of Etsy.com and Artfire.com looking at all the wonderful handmade items.  I have come across another professional pet peeve… selling a PDF list of suppliers as a “tutorial pattern”!  The worst part is people have actually been buying it!  HELLO!  seriously? You will pay $5-8 for a list of suppliers that you can google in 10 minutes or less? Though I applaude the Etsy sellers for banking in on something so simple, they are making a 100% profit, good business sense.  but SERIOUSLY?

I can tell you, if you are truly interested in where I get my supplies.  Just ask, I’ll tell you… heck I’ll probably even throw in some coupon codes if I happen to have them at the time.   Heck, I’ll even happily share where I get my non-homemade patterns!

———————————————————————

This brings me to my all time personal pet peeve… the consumer.  Yes, this is a broad statement, but true nonetheless.  I could go on about personal experiences since becoming a small business owner, but I think I will go with one huge example.  A very recent, front page of every major news source example:  Target.

Each year this major retailer has decided to pair with a high end fashion designer to offer low budget apparel and housewares.  Am I the only one who finds this incredibly demeaning and insulting?  Not to mention the fact that the items they offer are considered “low cost” but are still out of the price range of the average american families budget????  So now they are insulting our tastes by offering knock-offs, and demeaning our ability to appreciate quality and uniqueness, but then they have to rub it in that our hard-earned-barely-above-minimum-wage-college-educated-salaries can still not foot the bill?

YET CONSUMERS HAVE FLOCKED TO THE STORE, WAITED IN LINE AROUND THE CORNER, AND SOLD OUT! YES SOLD OUT THESE OVER PRICED KNOCK-OFFS.    I Googled how much a pair of womens tights are… $16 for one pair.  ONE PAIR of poly-nylon tights!   What is even worse… these items are so craved by the american public that people are selling these items on Ebay for up to 10x the retail price.  If you are going to pay that kind of money, you can afford the “high fashion” designs!

What is fueling this stupidity?  the consumeristic nature that has become 2011.  We want what we see those with fame/power have.  You know, no one needed a “bump-it” until Snooki was televised…  Gone are the days that each person made their own personal twist on something in fashion, now it’s in style one week and off to the thrift store the next.

I guess I can just enjoy seeing everyone walking around in their zig-zag stripes, it will make me feel like I’m at the circus!

I know things come and go in waves,  becoming a small time retailer in the last year has shown me this.  What the most popular brands/sellers have, every one else is soon to follow. It is truly hard to keep up with the ebb and flow, especially if you have not found your own niche.  What makes it even harder is when you are constantly receiving questions like:  why should you expect someone to pay $X amount for this item when they can get a similar item at Walmart for less?

So yes, my biggest pet peeve is the consumer.  Gone are the days that items are appreciated for the materials, time put into them, construction, and how long they will last.  All that is wanted is mass produced, made in China/India/Vietnam crap, for “cheap”.  The only problem is, what is considered ‘cheap’ is actually more expensive in the long run… just look at the unemployment rate, food stamps, medicaid, and other government funded public sources that are covering the consumers drive for the ‘cheapest’ price… This drive for the “cheapest” or the best “deal” is what originally drove suppliers, industry, and jobs overseas!

I hope that $3 T-shirt from Walmart, that fell apart in the wash after 5 cycles, was worth the trillions in debt.

I know how much my private sales mean to my family, they have helped fill in the gaps what both our full-time jobs no longer are able to cover.  So when ever possible I attempt to play it forward, so to speak, and make ever purchase count.

So no thank you Target, Walmart, or Kmart… I’ll stick with my Etsy designed over pullover hoodie that I purchased using my first sale profits from my Etsy store.  Or my awesome feathered headband from another Etsy/Facebook seller who can put food on her table… Or my unique butterfly ear pieces that came all the way from a Canadian Etsy…. or my daughters brand new squeeky shoes from a locally owned boutique that happily sells local designers work… better yet I’ll proudly sport my Oscar De La Renta shirt I happened across at a local Hospice thrift shop… atleast I know the money I dropped there went to help a family through the last days with a beloved family member.

We can’t always afford to buy local, or even american made (american made electronics? hah!), or boutique.  But we can decide where our hard earned dollar can do the most good.   We can also decide where our influences lie.

A note on finishing…

I love sewing. I have sewn for a long time, and I know lots of people who sew and take pride in their work.  I always love looking at the way things are completed and I am usually the one to fawn all over the finishing details.  I know I love it when that happens to me, so of course I love to share the “kudos” with others.  Today, I was sitting at my sewing machine during an impromptu rondezvous with some industrial seams,  and all I could think was “damn girl, do you think it might be over the top?”.  Of course I just had to laugh.    The finishing seamstress in me was already thinking on how to hand finish the seams down farther, so they looked flush with the quilted fabric.  Basically becoming invisible.  This is where the practical seamstress reared her pretty head.  The item in question is not Couture,  and using such techniques will devalue those items that are.  But man, did it take a lot to walk away.

I think the way an item is constructed tells alot about the designer.  The most talented artist can turn a dog food bag into a gorgeous skirt, a packing box into a corset, or polyester drapes into an evening gown.    The materials do not make the design, they only serve to enhance the product.    I think it is important to look farther than the surface and truly start to appreciate the work that is put into what is made.

I have a friend who makes the most gorgeous clothing, modern pieces and period correct recreations.  She matches fabric patterns along seams, fooling the eye into believing that the material is one continuous length.  All of her internal seams are folded back in on themselves with the raw edges completely encased and flush with the body of the fabric.  All gussets are hand turned so the points are seamless.  I could just go on and on about finished buttons, zippers, hand dyed fabric facing…. ah the beauty of it all.  Each piece is a true art form, a joy to look at on the hanger as well as the body. It’s almost a shame to store them in a closed closet away from view!

So of course I think of her often, and she inspires me on a regular basis!

Now I’d like to share a bit of seamstress knowledge with you.  It is important on all industrial sewn products, be it couch cushions or curtains, that all seams are reinforced.  Some people may think that this entails using heavy duty thread and possibly surging the seams.  This just causes the fabric to rip where the thread is holding the seam together.  You will still have a solid seam but there will be a hole right next to it.  You want to give the individual fibers in the fabric a little extra support against the pull.

You can do this one of two ways, there is the jean method of folding each piece of fabric over each other creating a box and sewing along each side.  Just look at your jeans to see an example.  Quite effective.  Another method, used for more delicate fabrics that fray easily is the french seam.  But not the one you recognize from soft chiffon shirts or skirts, this way is super supportive.

1.  place the wrong sides of your fabric together and surge them

2.  press the surged seam.

Left: surged seam. Right: encased surged seam.

3.  fold the fabric over so right sides are touching and the pressed surged seam is inside the fold.  Press with an iron, to hold the seam in place.

4.  With a regular straight stitch, sew a line 1 mm to the side of the surged edge.

5.  Press the encased seam. Checking to make sure that you did not accidenatally catch any of the surger thread in the seam.

This method traps all the loose threads creating a 4-5 thread internal barrier from being pulled out.  The folding over of the internal seam creates a mechanical retention for the fabric threads.  The second seam secures the mechanical retention while strengthening the original seam.  The chances of this pulling out or tearing the fabric is slim.  It’s perfect for any thin fabric that will suffer lots of abuse, pull, or twist.

Hope I shared some useful information!

Previous Older Entries