Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The Start of Football Season

It's that time again: football season. Whoopity do! Since Matt is insane about football, so by default, after our four years together, it's rubber off a little. Honestly, I enjoy it a bit. It helps that my alma mater, Michigan State, is projected to be one of the best teams this year, making it to the top 4 teams (knock on wood). And Matt attended Auburn University, one of the best SEC teams. 

This past Saturday, after I finished up at the market, Matt and I feasted on football friendly food and enjoyed a few football games. Michigan State played Oregon, one of the best teams, and ranked third last week. It was great. 

Sunday comes along, and it's time to get ready for a friend's birthday party. Sunday means time for professional football, and I'm unable to find any of my Jaguars shirts. Matt digs into his dresser and hands me his Detriot Lions tee from a few years ago that he's only worn once. He says, like the most supportive boyfriend ever, "Why don't you make something out of this one?" 

Any fellow t-shirt butchers out there? You're probably thinking the same thing I'm thinking. The screen print is too high. What to do? What to do? Grab that box of scrap fabric and find some coordinating fabric.

Heading to my cutting mat, using the rotary cutter, I cut the tank straight across the front and back, below the screenprint design. Taking four rectangles, I sewed them to the tops of the front and back with a serger, where the straps would be. Then I cut out the tank top using my standard pattern and then sewed the top of the striped rectangles. The arm holes and neckline were then serged with a rolled hem. Voila. New tank. Just in time to wear to Sunday birthday party with football on the tv. But silly me, the Lions played on Monday night.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Boycotting Forever 21, still and always

For years now, I've refused to shop with the mass retailer Forever 21. Many reasons, most of which I could go on and on about, have caused me to vow to never ever give the company another penny of mine because I feel so strongly. Their human rights abuses in the past, exploitation of sweatshop workers, their cheap fast fashion that fills landfills, the clothing that's poorly made and doesn't last, the cotton crops that are taking over fields previously used for food (that very well may cause a global food shortage in the next century), and stealing work from designers. 

I've written about it in the past, and it's still in my manta to not shop retail. For many readers and consumers out there, these reasons may or may not concern/bother you, but the last one should. Their blatant theft of designs from small, one-woman businesses. Designers that pour their heart into their designs, only for this company to get rid selling cheap knock offs of them. Yesterday, another theft from Knickerocker by Forever 21, her animal knickers. 

"This really sucks on all levels and I’m actually quiet upset about it. The thing with designs, especially clothing is that its really hard, if not impossible to patent/ copywriter and further more, being a small, independent, handmade designer, I just couldn’t afford to do this anyway.
And yes, I’ve seen various underwear designers copy aspects of my animal undies - there is a company out there who are printing on American Apparel undies and have the face and ears on the front. They do have the added bonus of being friends with a bunch of alt models with large social media followings, but they did at least have their own perspective of sorts on my idea and just the other day, I saw that a shop on Etsy was selling underwear with ears but no face. Good for these two companies, this is how trends work, I get it. But Forever21, have just blatantly ripped me off rather than putting their own twist on a trend.
I am a small indie designer, and everything is handmade - last year during the holidays, my Etsy shop became incredibly busy, so much so, I was able to employ 4 other people. This was really awesome and I payed well above the min wage, even though after I did my taxes, I didn’t actually make that much money, however, I would of just felt super crappy if I’d payed low wages or no wages. I’m pretty sure Forever21 don’t feel the same. Also, some people say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Its not. Right now, I’m looking into having my designs ethically manufactured, I want to offer a lower price point and I’d love to do wholesale, Forever 21 stealing my designs will probably have some affect on my ability to do this.
But back to copying. I see it all the time on Etsy, just because you think you can make something cheaper than another designer, doesn’t mean you should. Who knows how many harness bra’s there are on Etsy right now. Its craziness. There is plenty of room for everyone, but have your own point of view, do something new, something different, something more. This is the key to being successful, if you have something new and awesome to say, people will listen. 
Again, thank you for listening to me. I hope in someway, I can get Forever21’s attention and perhaps they’ll remove my ripped of designs from their stores. 
You can buy the originals here -"
Borrowed from Knickerocker's Tumlbr, click here for the entire post.

My heart aches for her and all her hard work, having just moved halfway across the world, running her shop all on her own, and then to discover this horrible ripoff from a multi-million dollar company.  And the sad reality is: Forever 21 is not breaking any law. It's almost impossible to trademark clothing, and many good reasons why, but many instances where you wish that it could be trademarked. As a small business woman myself, this could have just as easily happened to me, and hell, maybe it will someday. And it could happen to any of my colleagues that I connect with, all over the world, through social networking.
So please, think twice before shopping with companies like Forever 21, Urban Outfitters, and Anthropologie, just a few of the ones that have been caught. Of course, we all need clothes, and not everyone can take handmade or nothing new pledge, but be aware of where your money goes. A $5 t-shirt has so many hidden costs. 

The ripped off $6 Forever 21 Raccoon bikinis, above, have already sold out on F21's EU site. With Nichola not receiving one red penny from the sales. Show your support for handmade and check out Knickerocker on Etsy. And please share this with your friends.

Knickerocker online:

Monday, August 25, 2014

Sewing A Camera Strap

When it comes to sewing, the possibilities are endless. You dream up a design, you can do it! I love sewing things that aren't a part of my normal inventory and repertoire, and to have the freedom to create a custom one-of-a-kind surprise piece for a customer is one of my favorite things. 

My friend, Jessica, of Jax Vegan Love, has been in the market for a new camera strap for a while, and we've been talking about it for months. Finally, I was able to get my hands on the cord and hardware necessary to recreate a camera strap to replace the boring Nikon strap that came with her camera. 
Using scrap upholstery fabric, scrap faux leather (she is vegan after all, so she appreciates cutting out leather), and knowing that Jessica was a fan of chevron fabric, I made her the above camera strap. She was over the moon in love with it, and at the end of the week, it goes with her on her 9 day trip to London! 

What is your favorite thing to sew?

Friday, August 22, 2014

The Idiom Collection and The Story Behind The Clutches

Wednesday started out rough. My intention for the day was what follows in this post. Challenge myself to cut out and sew an entire collection of clutches from a found piece of fabric. That's right, an entire collection in a day. I start out finishing something from the day before, a small clutch to get my wheels a turnin'. I attach the zipper on one side and BAM! The belt snaps on my Brother. I had known this time would come, as the belt was cracked in a few places, but it slipped my mind last week to order another, and I was, pardon my French, shit out of luck, as that is my main machine. 

Slightly bummed, I took a coffee break and came back to my work room. I wasn't going to be spoiled as usual today, bouncing off three machines. A typical handbag in my shop is sewn on all three of my machines, with dark thread on the Brother, my Kenmore ready with white thread, and the overlock machine, serger as needed. It feels like a symphony as I glide around on my vintage doctors stool with wheels. I'm determined to have that finesse with this workday.
So this collection... First, let me give you some history on the fabric. Not my first choice for a collection, but I love a challenge. The challenge to make something beautiful and functional out of something ugly and discarded. This stale quilting fabric was facing a grim future until it hit our studio. When I was given an old sewing machine to find a new home, there was a strip of fabric inside the box with the machine. Maybe it was the previous owner's next project. This quilting fabric contained nine rectangles on one piece of fabric, cut with pinking shears, printed with classic idioms and pictures. My favorite: "A Stitch In Time Saves Nine."

First, I backed it with medium weight fusible interfacing, grabbed my bag of leather and faux leather scraps for reinforcing the corners, and got out a stack of upholstery fabric and scraps, and also my trusty scrap bag. Literally, everything that is about the size of the palm of my hand or bigger is saved and tossed into this back. I love to make the interior of handbags really complex and a story in it's scraps, not just the exterior having a rich history or interesting tale to tell.

Above, a scrap piece of cotton attached to the top of the zipper before it's sewn to the exterior piece. There's always a use for something small that many others would just toss in the trash. Am I approaching hoarding territory or what?! 

After a few hours in the morning, I broke for lunch with Matt and then got back at it. Within my 8 hour work day, I miraculously finished all nine pieces. That's right, nine. Above, is my favorite, and hard to not keep for myself. After all, it does have a sewing machine on it. 

On all the clutches, all corners on the are reinforced with leather, brown, black, gray, and a combination of all three. The backs are also all different. From purple denim shorts to upholstery scraps, it's all over the place. To see the collection and all the pieces, head on over to our shop.

Like a mama with her baby, these are my babies that make me proud. I'm sorry, this post is a little silly, but I'm still just so stoked that I finished these all in just one day! 

Matt and I rounded out the day having dinner with friends. Taco night was wonderful and I slept like a baby that played outside all day. Hard work feels good, and there isn't a better day for me than when I'm working in my office, sewing to my heart's content. Ahhh. If only that could be everyday.

Go on, you know you want to check them out in our Etsy shop, they're all very reasonably priced, at only $45 a pop. Check 'em out and tell me what you think. Maybe one has a saying you remember from your childhood. Find your favorite idiom. More listings and fun little one of a kind collections are coming soon. I've got a lot up my sleeves coming soon.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Lazy Clem

On a day off of sewing for me, Clementine can almost always be found basking in the sunshine next to my favorite machine. She loves my vintage pink Brother sewing machine, almost as much as she loves sunshine. I just had to share a few photos of the lovely fat girl.

Happy Monday, friends! 
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