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March 19, 2014

I remember just two years ago first discovering the small world of indie pattern makers.  I found Megan Nielsen and Grainline at about the same time and I was seriously blown away.  I thought that it was the most brilliant idea that I had ever heard of and I couldn’t wait to dive into this new community.  Now, just a couple of years later, there are more indie pattern companies than I could name.  There are companies geared to men, lingerie, rockabilly, modern, children, and every other niche you could think of.  They cater to every skill level from complete beginner to couture.  I love supporting indie pattern makers and I say the more the merrier.

In the last few months I feel like I am seeing another avenue open up for home sewers and sewing bloggers.  It seems like we are desiring to not only have custom patterns, but also be able to create the fabric to go with it.  As some one who agonizes over finding the perfect fabric for a project – and seems to have a hard time finding it – I am super excited about this.  I think that this is a trend that is going to continue to grow as companies become more aware of the growing home sewing community and the desire to have fabrics geared towards our tastes.  Here are some of the recent happenings that I’ve noticed in the way of fabric design:

Cotton + Steel : I watched their vimeo story about a month ago and felt so inspired.  They launch their first line of fabrics in May as a collaboration of 5 designers with RJR fabrics.  They seem to have a rockabiliy vibe to their designs and from what I can tell will mostly be producing cottons.

Art Gallery Fabrics – AGF announced earlier this month that they are creating a Limited Edition run of fabrics in collaboration with three sewing bloggers/patternmakers.  While most of these fabrics are printed as quilting cottons I was really excited to hear that they are also releasing some of their designs in knits and voile too.  I hear that they are going to continue this collaboration with other designers in the future.

By Hand London – This young and hip company once purely created sewing patterns but just recently announced that they will also be selling custom print on demand fabric.  They have great taste so I can only imagine that their fabric is going to be killer.  They launched a kickstarter campaign to buy their own digital printer.  You can read more about it and contribute here.

Spoonflower – While they are by no means new to the scene I can only imagine that with the new competition they will continue to expand and find ways to connect with their audience.  In fact I noticed that they just added a new lightweight modern jersey fabric option.  I have found some really amazing designs while exploring their archives and I love that they offer silk in addition to other fabrics.

As excited as I am about the options above, I still think that there is plenty of room in the market especially for modern, less feminine designs in apparel fabrics such as silk, rayon challis and linen.  I can’t wait to see this industry expand and see what is next.

How about you guys?  Have you noticed this new trend starting as well?  Are you excited about these new collaborations?  Have you ever tried custom fabric before?



February 5, 2014

I get a certain attachment to the things that I make.  Sure, they are not perfect, but we have a history.  A lot of blood, sweat, and tears went into them.  Not to mention money!  I can look at the items that I made a few years ago and see how far I have come.  It is fun to see my knit finishes pre-serger and my buttonholes before I owned a machine that helped with that.  There is a story behind each garment.

All of that being said, we do not have a lot of closet space and there are lots of items that I have made that just don’t fit right, are out of style, or I just don’t wear.  The problem is that I have a really hard time letting go of them.  So they continue to hang in my closet, taking up space, and not getting worn.

So I wonder, do you guys have the same problem?  

Do you hold onto the items that you make long after their normal lifecycle?  

How do you convince yourself to part with the items that you no longer have a need for?

When you do part with them how do you go about it?



January 24, 2014

If you are like me you started sewing as a hobby.  In the beginning it was just fun, nothing I took seriously, but over the years I have learned a lot.  I’ve invested a lot of time, money, and education into sewing.  I am not sure if I would call myself a professional seamstress or designer yet, but I wouldn’t call myself a hobbyist either.  I’ve come a long way and am really proud of what I have accomplished.  With this newly honed skill there has also come a desire to make some money at what I do, but I have also found that sewing is generally undervalued.  As opportunities have come my way I have had some bad experiences, but have recently had some really great commissions.  I thought that a lot of you are probably in a similar situation so I thought it might be helpful to share what I have learned.

1. Get Paid By the Hour – For me this is by far the best way to charge for a project.  I am a stay at home mom right now which means that every minute that I spend sewing commissioned work is time away from playing with my kids, doing bills, making dinner etc…  I just don’t have a lot of extra time so when I spend time on these projects every bit of time counts.  If a project takes longer than expected (which it usually does) then it is important to me to be compensated for that extra time.  I also like that once the hourly rate is decided upon then I don’t have to keep negotiating prices every time a new project comes my way.

2. Figure Out What You Are Worth – Depending on how experienced you are or how much extra time you have will determine how much you charge.  I think a good rule of thumb is think of a rate that would make you excited every time you received a new commission.  If you are dreading every new job then you are probably not paying yourself enough.  I won’t tell you how much I charge, but I will say that in my opinion minimum wage is way too little to charge for an experienced sewer.  Be honest with yourself, but don’t sell yourself short either.

3. Say No –  When a conversation starts with “This will be really good for your portfolio.” or “I have a pair of old jeans that I was hoping to…” then I know that it’s probably going to be a no for me.  I’ve become pretty good at politely explaining how I am not really trying to grow my portfolio right now or how it’s often not worth it to fix a pair of ill fitting jeans.  There have been a couple of times that I have been sucked into saying yes out of obligation or coercion, and I always end up regretting it.  There is nothing worse than hemming your neighbors grandsons jeans – especially when you are not getting paid for it.

4. Refer a Tailor – One of the ways that I am able to stick to my guns on #3 is to know of a decent tailor.  I try to explain that they are much faster than I am and therefore it would probably be cheaper to just have a tailor do it.  If you already know of someone good then it’s really easy to just refer them on when it’s a job you are not interested in.

5. Teach Your Friends –  I know I’ve sounded like a real hard A in 1-4, but I do think that it’s important to be generous when you can.  My rule of thumb is that if one of my friends asks me to sew or mend something for them I usually turn them down, but offer to teach them how to do it instead.  Sure, it may take more time in the long run, but I enjoy the opportunity to hang out with my friends (and usually it becomes a play date for my kids too) and to teach them a new skill at the same time.

Well, that it’s it.  I am sure that many of you go about this in a very different way than I do so please share your thoughts.  I am still learning.  Hope this helps!



January 1, 2014

Happy New Year!

So, I have some personal life goals as well, but I really wanted my blog/sewing to have it’s own list.  I have been thinking a lot about where I want this blog to go in the following year and these are the goals that I think are going to take me there.

1 – Stay on top of my inbox
I am seriously the worst about this.  I am horrible about deleting all of the unnecessary emails that I get and therefore the important stuff often gets shuffled amongst the rest.  This year I really want to be more on top of organization so I think that keeping my blogging inbox in control is a great place to start.

2 – Move my blog to WordPress
This has been on the to do list for a long time, but I know that I’ve just got to bite the bullet and do it in the near future.  It won’t be fun, but for my blog to grow I think it’s a must.

3 – Sew More for Myself
With the birth of my little boy at the beginning of 2013 I lacked the enthusiasm to do a lot of sewing for myself.  I made a few things for me, but made a lot for my husband and kids too.  I will continue with some of that, but am ready to focus on myself a little more this year.

4 – Release a True Bias Pattern
As some of you know I took some patternmaking classes years ago in college and then started taking a few more classes this year at FIT here in NYC.  I have wanted to produce a pattern for awhile, but am finally feeling the confidence in my skills to do so.  The goal is April, but that is a very loose goal.  It’s more important to me that it is done well.  Crossing my fingers that I can make this happen.

Do you guys have any special goals for your sewing / blogging specifically?


TOP 5 HITS OF 2013

December 30, 2013
I decided that I wanted to jump in on the top 5 list started by Crafting a Rainbow.  I think that I will keep it simple and just list my top 5 hits that I made this year.

#5 Hit – Gaptastic Cowl

I am a real beginner when it comes to knitting.  At the very beginning of the year I made this cowl, but soon found that I felt silly wearing such a large scarf on top of my huge belly.  But then I brought it back out this winter and have barely taken it off.  I get compliments on it every time and I wear it and it’s perfectly practical, warm and fun.

#4 Hit – Yellow Floral Wrap Dress

When my brother set his wedding date just two months after the birth of my baby I had a small freakout session.  Thanks to spanks and this dress I felt pretty confident at the wedding.  I honestly havn’t worn this dress again, and don’t really know when I will, but this was an important event with lots of photos being taken so I call the dress a big win for helping me get through the day.

#3 Hit – Negroni Buttonup Men’s Shirt

I made this shirt as part of SewMamaSew’s Super Online Sewing Match and I really feel like I exceded my normal amount of attention to detail and precision while doing it.  The insides really are just as nice as the outside and it makes me smile everytime he wears it.

#2 Hit – It’s a Cinch Purse

Another Sewing Match make this purse has become my everyday bag.  I love the combination of stripes and leather and it really just suits my style perfectly.  I hadn’t sewn a lot of bags before this or tried out a lot of leather sewing so it felt like a big accomplishment when I finished it.

#1 Hit – Baby Boy

I know this is cheesy, but hey I totally made him.  Seriously though, it’s been a busy year mostly because of this little guy and I havn’t had as much time to create things as I would like.  He’s so worth it though.