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Saturday, 16 September 2017

A Tale of Three Fabric Orders

Canadiana Maple Leaf on White fabric by eSheep Designs
My original Maple Leaf on White design...
Back in the latter part of June, I received a message from someone via Spoonflower asking if I could possibly make a version of my Canadiana fabric in a different colourway.

Specifically, she was looking for burgundy and navy leaves for the design shown here (Maple Leaf on White).

Of course, I said yes.

My first instruction was for her to check out one of the two Spoonflower colour guides (here and here) and tell me exactly what shades of navy and burgundy she was looking for. She ended up choosing the following:

Spoonflower colour chart
Spoonflower's colour chart...

Oddly enough, when I went ahead and ran a quick sample, it occurred to me that it was sort of an "Americanized" version ... it's a darkish red, white and blue.

Customized Canadiana Maple Leaf on White fabric by eSheep Designs
Customized Maple Leaf on White in a burgundy and navy colourway...

It kinda works, don't you think?


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When I originally received the request, I thought it would be a simple thing of, well, make the change, order the fabric, have the person pay me via Paypal and have Spoonflower send the fabric directly to her.

I'm glad that within a few hours, I realized that that would not be the best option. A few weeks later, I was really glad that I didn't go that route.

Why?

In late May, my market friend saw samples of my Canadiana fabric and wanted to purchase some to make infinity scarves to sell for Canada Day. It would be cutting it close, but based on previous timelines with Spoonflower, I figured the order would arrive the week prior to July 1.

As I did with her fabric labels last year, I placed the order for her and had it shipped to her address. And then we waited, and waited, and waited. The tracking for the order indicated that it had arrived in Canada on June 14, but beyond that, there was no further information.

Canada Day came and went... lovely as it was.

By the time I contacted Spoonflower on July 4, I had actually received an order of mine that had been placed in mid-June.

Make no mistake, Spoonflower was extremely accommodating in their response to the situation. I received a reply that same morning asking me to verify the recipient's mailing address (it was correct) and was then informed that the order — since the original was most likely lost at this point — would be reprinted and reshipped ASAP via FedEx Priority. My friend ended up receiving her replacement order on July 10.

Again, major kudos to Spoonflower for going above and beyond so quickly. (It wasn't an insignificant order, coming in at just under a hundred dollars.) But here's the thing.

Using FedEx to ship across the border incurs taxes and fees that Canada Post doesn't usually impose. So yes, the new order came quickly, but it came with a $16 brokerage fee. Since it was technically my order and since my friend had nothing to do with the original shipment getting lost, I decided to pay it out of my own pocket.


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And there was the lesson learned. Had my friend created her own Spoonflower account and placed her own order, I would not have been caught in the middle of that whole situation. (And yes, that's exactly how it's going to happen in future.)

So getting back to my first story, when this potential customer told me that she wanted six yards of the customized Maple Leaf on White fabric, I had two thoughts. One: I wouldn't be comfortable taking ownership of such a big order; and two: I wouldn't be comfortable making a purchase of such a large amount of fabric without first seeing a swatch.

Therefore, my proposal was slightly amended. I provided four variations of the fabric with the burgundy/navy combination (since she did not indicate what leaves she wanted in what colour). If she wanted to go forward with the order, she would have to pay me $10 up front to cover the cost of a sample swatch. She would then choose one of the designs; I would upload it to Spoonflower to allow her to make a sizing decision, and then I would order a swatch to be sent directly to her.

eSheep Designs custom fabric order contract
Terms and conditions of my custom fabric services...

I included a one time change that could be performed at no charge after seeing the swatch. (She eventually asked for a re-sizing of the pattern.) But beyond that point, whatever yardage she wanted to purchase, she would do it directly from my Spoonflower shop (which was what happened).

By the way, the ten dollar fee did not represent any real profit for me. Paypal's fee and the cost of the swatch (including shipping) came to $6.67; coming up with the four designs — and ultimately providing a "clean" version of the one that she wanted — cost me much more than $3.33 worth of my time in regular consulting terms.

In crafting terms, however, it was perfectly acceptable, as it represented another milestone reached on my "becoming a designer" journey. A custom fabric order? Would never have occurred to me in any way, shape or form!

Anyway, it was a thrill....

My third fabric order was for one of my very first designs. When the Spoonflower fat quarters BOGO sale came around in July, I outdid myself and purchased eight FQs. Two of the selections were my Winter in the City (Day) and the Winter in the City (Night) fabrics in lightweight cotton twill. (After seeing how some throw cushions made out of the fabric looked on Roostery, I decided to replace the rest of my flat cushions with new ones.)

Throw pillows in Winter in the City fabric designed by eSheep Designs
Winter in the City (Day) and Winter in the City (Night) throw pillows...

I followed the method that I used for my P&P pillows.

Combined with my designer discount, these fat quarters were $5.85 each with the BOGO sale. Not bad, huh? Not only that, the strips of fabric that were left over were put to use in another cool project that you'll see soon.

But going back again to the custom fabric order, for those of you who "make and sell" things on request, do you take a deposit from customers prior to starting work?


Saturday, 9 September 2017

What's Up With "Grandma"?

What is the appeal behind "grandma" sewing projects??
In late July, I sent this message to AllFreeSewing, after suffering through many, many months of latent curiosity... LOL!

"Just wondering about something. I've been a subscriber to the Sewing it Up newsletter for some time now and am curious as to why there are so many mentions of "grandma" in those newsletters. Is it something on trend that I'm not aware of that people are attracted to "grandma" styles and projects?? I can't imagine young sewers clicking on them when I (in my 50s) don't tend to click on them. So I'm just curious if someone is specifically doing this as some sort of marketing strategy."

I'm not sure what I expected in return — perhaps some revelation that would educate me? — but I did get a response to my inquiry.

Reply from AllFreeSewing
AllFreeSewing's reply to my query...

Did it satisfy my curiosity? Sadly, no, unless I get invited to that next quarterly innovation meeting.

So I'm asking all of you for elucidation. Are you drawn to sewing projects and patterns (or anything else, for that matter) that are headlined with the term "grandma"? If so, are you personally a grandmother? And if not, might you still be a grandmother?


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From all that I can gather in today's world, actual grandmothers — who can be as young as in their early 40s, by gosh and by golly — are not exactly fans of being called "grandma".

By choice, I had no children, therefore I will never be a grandmother. As the years have flown by, in my own body and mind, I — almost — feel no different from when I was a teenager. Having children undoubtedly transforms a person in some way, so if you've had kids, you likely have memories of a "pre" and "post" life in terms of being a parent. Therefore, how you feel about a word like "grandma" may be very, very different from how I feel.

Or maybe not.

When used as a descriptor in some way, I'm personally turned off by the word "grandma". For AllFreeSewing projects that are described as such — and here is a list from a newsletter where four projects out of twenty include the term — I never click on them.

AllFreeSewing

Actually, that's a bit of a lie, since for the purposes of this post, I did click on these four just to see what they were. None of them were specifically referenced as being for grandma or inspired by grandma by the people who provided the original links.

Isn't that interesting?

By the way, here is the project that was linked to #9...

Photo courtesy of Melanie Lalonde from thelittleststudio.com...

I've checked out the whole blog post that the tutorial is featured on and nowhere does the word "grandma" appear. The project itself is actually quite cool and trendy, but I wouldn't have known about it had I not been doing research for this post.


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So back to the original conundrum... does anyone have any evidence that today's sewers are fascinated by projects that are grandma oriented?

Image courtesy of CottonandCurls.com...
the designer did not mention "grandma" in her listing of this project

I'm truly curious as to why AllFreeSewing does this when it can easily describe projects that allude to a previous generation by using a decade descriptor; i.e., the 1940s, the 1950s, the 1960s. And yes, it does do that on occasion; the oddity is that I see the term "grandma" show up on virtually every newsletter! (Another seemingly favourite term of theirs is "little old lady"!)

AllFreeSewing Newsletter
This list came from a recent newsletter titled 25 Retirement Patterns...
I'm actually quite appalled by #4!

I mean, I get the attraction to vintage... that trend has been around since forever, in varying degrees. What's in fashion now has undoubtedly been in fashion before. The whole "what's old is new again" saying applies on a regular basis. But admiring items from decades ago is different from applying the word "grandma" to describe them.

AllFreeSewing
My MyTie Makeover Mini Bag being described as made from "grandpa's tie"...

No doubt, part of the personal aversion that I feel relates to being reminded that I'm getting older... and not liking that fact. I could be totally wrong about assuming that younger crafters would avoid projects labelled for "grandma".

So let me hear from you, whether you're young or old: are you intrigued by things that are described as being for "grandma"? I am so genuinely curious!


Saturday, 2 September 2017

Dress Form Mini Mannequin... and More

Dress Form Mini Mannequin crafted by eSheep Designs
My mini dress form mannequin is a pin cushion after all...
It's hilarious to come across a cool "new" project, only to find out that it's been around for six years... LOL! It really speaks to how many crafty DIY tutorials there are online and how impossible it is to get to all of them.

I was recently paging through images of pin cushions when a nifty dress form mannequin caught my eye. It's from The DIY Dish (direct link at the end of this post), a web video series put on by a couple of engaging twin sisters from 2010 to 2011. This project was released near the end of their run.

The mannequins that they made were glued on top of candlestick holders and topped off with a bauble. While they looked extremely elegant, in my opinion, that made them more of a decorative item than a functional one. To me, a pin cushion so tall would be impractical; I'd be knocking it over every time I stabbed a pin in it.

But I had a thought about turning it into a necklace holder. While not knowing exactly how I would accomplish that, in the meantime, I went ahead and made the mannequin itself.


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I retrieved the Robert Kaufman scraps from my Summit Pack and managed to make use of them by going on the diagonal.

Dress Form Mini Mannequin crafted by eSheep Designs
Just enough fabric to make this thing...

The item is not difficult to make, as long as you take the time to pin well. The pieces have curves to them, as you can see, and successfully sewing those curves involves diligent pinning beforehand. (I ended up with a couple of very small puckers that I decided to live with.)

Here is the first presentation of my finished mini mannequin.

Dress Form Mini Mannequin crafted by eSheep Designs
Front view of my mini dress form mannequin...

The "belt" is a bracelet. The bauble on top is a Christmas ball decoration.

Here is the back view. (Seeing it like this, I like that the fabric had to be used on the diagonal.)

Dress Form Mini Mannequin crafted by eSheep Designs
Back view of my mini dress form mannequin...

Soft fabric scraps was my stuffing of choice, having depleted my supply of polyfil making my Winter in the City pillows.


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After a few days of ruminating about adding wire "arms" or making a wire mesh "skirt" to transform the mannequin so that I could hang things off of it, I gave up on the idea of using it as a necklace holder. It looked too nice to hack and it occurred to me that it was actually the perfect pin cushion to stand guard at my ironing station.

I also decided that I didn't like the ball on top, so it was gone. Then I found a different bracelet that looked even more like a belt, so the previous "belt" became a necklace. My mini mannequin is now officially a pin cushion.

Dress Form Mini Mannequin crafted by eSheep Designs
Officially a pin cushion...

But coincidentally enough, I stumbled upon a solution for my necklace problem. While first trying to decide whether or not I was going to put the mannequin on top of a pedestal — when it was intended to be a necklace hanger — I substituted an upside down (plastic) wine goblet as a stand. After deciding that I wanted to keep the mannequin low to the table as a pin cushion, I flipped the wine glass back over...

wine glass necklace holder
My wine goblet necklace holder...

... and had a sudden inspiration to attach a bunch of binder clips along the rim. Turns out the binder clips are perfect for securing and hanging small necklaces. (You could also hang earrings directly off the rim.) Not only that, the top of this particular glass is just the right size to accommodate my ring holder!

In case you're curious, here is how I used the prongs of the clips to secure each necklace.

wine glass necklace holder
Both prongs are used to secure and hang the necklace...

Sometimes, an accidental win is the most satisfying. My previous hack for hanging necklaces was constantly failing me in that whenever I grabbed one, two others would often follow along. This wine glass solution will do nicely for the time being.

Plus, I now have an interesting pin cushion at my ironing station. Win-win!

If you're interested in making your own dress form mini mannequin, here is the link to the video and pattern.


Saturday, 26 August 2017

Quasi-Tutorial: The Mini Infinity in Chiffon

Mini Infinity Chiffon Scarf by eSheep Designs
Mini Infinity Scarf in my Sewing Machine Zen fabric...
In late June, Spoonflower unveiled its version of chiffon with an accompanying sale.

I was very tempted, since I'd long been looking for a sheer, two-sided fabric to make a lightweight summer scarf. (I believe that until now, their fabrics have all had an unprinted reverse side to them.)

However, I've also handled chiffon in the past and the thought of sewing with it wasn't quite as thrilling an idea as actually having the scarf. So even though I put some product into my shopping cart, I never did click through to buy.

About a week later, however, Spoonflower held one of their BOGO fat quarter sales, which did prompt me to load up on several selections that I had been meaning to get. I added these two... in chiffon.

Canadiana fabric designed by eSheep Designs
Another design from my Canadiana collection...

This first one was a late addition to my Canadiana collection; it's one of two designs that I quickly slapped together in mid-June when Spoonflower held a 30% off sale on general yardage. (I picked up some lightweight cotton twill featuring the other design that you'll see come to life in the near future.)

Sewing Machine Zen fabric designed by eSheep Designs
Sewing Machine Zen fabric...

This turned out to be the first purchase ever of my Sewing Machine Zen fabric, which means it's now available for sale. I've always had the intention of making a scarf out of it.

$4.73 per fat quarter...
Just so you know what this project ended up costing, take a look at my packing slip at right. These 27" wide by 18" high chiffon fat quarters were only $4.73 each, with my 10% designer discount.

Isn't that a super deal? (Non-discounted, regular price is $10.50. Shipping was $6, but that was for the whole order of eight FQs.)

In today's post, I will show you how I turned these fat quarters into a couple of mini infinity scarves. It's a project that'll take less than an hour. In fact, if you're fast, you can conceivably finish two of these in an hour.


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Let me start by saying that the fabric was an unexpected joy to work with, surprisingly enough. I had visions of frayed edges, fabric being driven down into the feed dogs and getting stuck, tension issues with stitches bunching up... and I had none of those! I didn't even have to go out and buy myself a microtex needle.

Testing out the chiffon with my existing sewing machine setup...

The above is a test of a rolled hem using a piece of chiffon cut from the border of the fabric. My machine — and existing needle — handled it fine. Not only that, the fabric held a crease wonderfully when I ironed it on an appropriate setting.

Anyway, a pat on the back to my old Kenmore for standing up to the challenge.

Ready to make a mini infinity?

Step 1: Prep the Material

Iron out the creases and then cut away most of the white borders, leaving about a 1/4" (6mm) of it remaining all around.

Mini Infinity Scarf Tutorial by eSheep Designs
Trim most of the excess borders away...

TIP: Use the discarded border pieces to check your sewing machine's handling of the fabric.

Step 2: Sew Ends Together

Fold the piece in half with right sides together.

Mini Infinity Scarf Tutorial by eSheep Designs
Fold the fabric in half...

Keeping the two raw edges even, fold over once and then one more time (at 1/4" or 6mm each time) to create a rolled hem. Pin in place.

Mini Infinity Scarf Tutorial by eSheep Designs
Create a rolled hem with the two raw edges, hiding the white border as you go.

By the way, take care to point your pins in the right direction for how you're going to sew. (I always, always, end up pinning in the wrong direction the first go-around!)

Mini Infinity Scarf Tutorial by eSheep Designs
Insert the pins in such a way so that you can remove them as you sew...

When you're done with the pinning, take a moment to press the seam with your iron. Don't skip this step; it does help.

Mini Infinity Scarf Tutorial by eSheep Designs
You now have a circular tube...

Stitch the entire length and press again.

Step 3: Finish Top and Bottom Seams

You now have a fabric tube. Starting at the location of the vertical seam that you just sewed, create and pin a rolled hem again around one of the remaining raw edges.

Mini Infinity Scarf Tutorial by eSheep Designs
Pin another rolled hem...

As you did before, press and then sew together.

Mini Infinity Scarf Tutorial by eSheep Designs
Sew carefully around the thick part of the overlapping seams...

Repeat the process with the other end of the tube, ensuring that the centre seam (the one you originally made to join the two ends together) lies flat and isn't twisted.

Mini Infinity Scarf Tutorial by eSheep Designs
Make sure the centre seam is folded in the same direction when you sew up the other two seams...

And that's all there is to it: you have a mini infinity scarf that you can just pop over your head!

[By the way, if you're a regular visitor here, you may recognize this as just another variant of my Bear Buff project. I take ideas from others all the time, so doing the same thing to myself is a no-brainer!]


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Unlike typical infinity scarves, this one doesn't have enough length to wrap several times around your neck, but it's got a significant amount of volume from the 18" of "depth" to give the appearance of multiple layers.

You can achieve different looks depending on how you squish it, fluff it, roll it, pull it to the back or pull it to the front.

Mini Infinity Chiffon Scarf by eSheep Designs
My finished mini infinity scarves... worth every penny!

Rolled up tightly, you can even wear it as a headband. Fully extended, it can cover your whole head if you want that retro Jackie O with head scarf and big sunglasses look.

And of course, the chiffon is so lightweight that you don't even know you're wearing it — perfect for making a fashion statement in warmer weather.

Keep an eye out for Spoonflower's next two for one fat quarters sale and you can make this for next to nothing. In the meantime, if you have some chiffon in your stash, why not give it a try now?