After my visit to Blackbird Fabrics up in Vancouver I was just about ready to start first bag project.
I had spotted the Klum House Fremont Tote project on Blueprint and I was lucky enough to sign up for the yearly deal which had given me unlimited access to all of the awesome classes available on the site. The bag was a simple yet stunning basic tote with leather straps and metal accessories. I had always wanted to learn about leather work and this seemed like a good excuse to get some cutting tools and give it a go. Blueprint had a good deal for the supplies but I figured I would like to cut the rivets and straps myself so purchased the basic tools and supplies seperatly. Surely I would use them more than once right?!
At Blackbird Fabrics I had picked up a couple of pieces of waxed canvas in three different colours. One was a cute yellow I scored from the remnants bin. The other two were a charcoal grey and an olive green. In the end I settled on the olive green as the main colour. I went back and forward on that way too many time for a rational person. But I knew for certain I had to use that mustard yellow as a feature colour pop. It was lighter/thinner than the others so I had to double it up for use as the front pocket details so it was not flimsy or transparent. I’m sure its bound to get dirty as I’m not exactly careful when i’m rushing around juggling kids. But I loved it and the heart wants what the heart wants . Hell I had enough fabric to make another if I found it to get too grimy.
I had gathered the D and O rings, zipper, leather, rivets and Chicago screws and tools. Then there was a spanner in the works. I had to wait for a few of the metal cutting tools because of a dodgy Amazon listing where I was led to believe I would be getting a set of several sizes, and it in fact ended out being a single tool. Gah. So that set me back a few days. And resulted in one cranky review. I don’t like waiting. It is not something I am good at.
While I waited resentfully I decided to explore my lining options. I have a decent little stash of fabric lurking around in my cupboards as I tend to get the surprise remnant packages when I order fabric online. *cough* Fabric Mart. So conveniently enough I had the perfect thing. A heavy cotton fabric patterned in complimenting colours. Yes! I love it when things just fall into place.
The video class was super easy to follow along with. Hell it’s just fun just to watch it for entertainment. I know i’m not the only person who finds watching people slowly, and methodically make to be soothing. It has to be something like an ASMR kind of deal.
The waxed canvas is very satisfying to work with. No ironing, no finishing. And it creases and marks with use. The look of the fabric changes over time and ages right along with you. Fancy that, a bag with matching smile lines. I’ll take it.
I didn’t make any changes to the pattern or instructions besides adding a piece of the darker olive canvas over the top of the base portion, up to the stitching line of the yellow front pockets just to minimize some of the grime that would no doubt gather on the base of the bag where it will most certainly touch the ground when I find myself in a situation where I don’t have enough hands. I am hoping the nice long shoulder strap will help with that too.
If you are interested in this type of project I cannot suggest this one enough. I had a great time making it and it was an extremely satisfying end result.
A special shout out to Kylie and the Machine. A lass operating out of my old stomping ground Brisbane Australia. I love her woven tags. So cute. Sometimes you have to leave yourself a little love note.
Tabula Rasa : Blank Slate. Fresh Start. New Beginnings.
It’s Spring here is not so dreary Seattle. Its been very nearly seven years since we packed up our worldly belongings and set off for our new life across the Pacific.
Much has changed. New jobs, new interests, new friends and even a new child. In the midst of it all I have struggled to stay consistently creative. But I have learned that I simply cannot function as a happy human being without making. No making makes mummy something something.
The last couple of years we have been working on the house, garden, chickens and house related projects and for my self primarily ceramics. I very quickly and firmly fell in love with clay during a spontaneous class sign up that I treated myself too. I honestly thought I would be following up my desire to learn jewelry making.
This year as the youngest turns three and I’m starting to have some time to myself I am ferociously filling my brain with sewing, knitting, clay and generally making anything and everything my heart desires. And I have to tell you it feels so good!
I had the sheer pleasure of attending an underwear sewing workshop up in Vancouver BC a couple of weeks ago with my lovely friend Majella. We were both quick to pounce when we saw a combined workshop between Helen of Helen’s Closet and Caroline of Blackbird Fabrics. A quick girls trip up to cherry blossom scattered, snowy mountain and Salish Sea surrounded, sunny Vancouver to learn some sewing skills from Love to Sew Podcast sewing royalty. I can dig it.
And this is were I declare my sewjo unleashed. Now to fit in family, pottery and all the other projects in the back of my mind. Stay tuned.
I have been busy busy busy crafting up a range or play food, writing and modifying patterns and filling orders. Here are some of my new additions. They have been very popular with some good friends pouncing on them. Yes I’m talking about you CarysInspired. I gave some to Oliver’s preschool which have been well received.
I am intending on branching out and offering my patterns in my store for a small fee. I just need to hit husband up to know me up a shopping cart for my page so I can post them here as well as my madeit store. Speaking of MadeIt my fruit was also included in their recent fruity feature. It is always so exciting when someone feels the desire to share your work.
I have been having so much fun with these little treats and just love creating cute things to share. Cuteness makes the world go round.
I’ve dabbled in making handmade soap for some time now. I had had a pretty big break from it with my big move interstate, starting back at work and generally being flat out. But over easter I had gone back to my old place in QLD to see the family and was reminded that I had left a batch of lavender soap curing up on one of the cupboards. What a nice suprise!
I have to say I was very quickly reminded how much more soothing and luxurious handmade soap actually is. Sometimes I let myself forget and just get whatever is cheap at the grocery store. But if you can learn how to make soap yourself it is cheap as chips and you have complete control over what you include in the recipe.
The idea is that handmade soap still contains all of the glycerine’s that is created during the process. Generic soaps have had this removed so it can be sold separably or in other items for $$$. All I know is it is soothing, moisturising, and fit to use on delicate skin. I use it on my face.
It can be customized to your needs with added goats milk, exfoliants like sugar or oats, or contain absolutely no additives like colours or fragrances. Great for eczema and allergies.
I have only made soap with the cold process method and have been very happy with the results. I will give you a list of what I consider to be the best links. The best thing about this method is you get to get all decked out like a scientist and create cool stuff.
This is seriously fun stuff and the result is very satisfying. It is just really really difficult to wait the 4 weeks curing time before you get to try it out! It may look a little intimidating at first but if you make the time to read the safety info and get yourself set up properly making sure you have an hour or so to yourself it is easy as pie.
There are countless recipes available on the net but do always run them through a lye calculator to double check the measurements. It always pays do be sure. I also recommended hitting the local library. I have had some great finds with soap related stuff at mine.
I know when you first begin the whole craft thing, and think hmm I can sell a few things here or there and don’t really mind working for peanuts, it’s not like I intend to make a living from it right?. Hell isn’t it enough just to cover the costs of your supplies so you can buy more, and have more fun?
Having been officially selling my crafts for over a year now and having had some long conversations with fellow crafters about the value of our work my view has changed just a little.
In short no, no it’s not.
Underpricing is a mistake I am guilty of making. I did not realise that my prices could actually have an impact on what the market thinks beautiful handmade items are worth. There are people out there with extensive skills and years of experience also trying to sell their items and some of them actually are trying to make a living from those skills.
When most of the selling is happening online the customers cannot touch and compare the items accurately either. All they see is “similar” items with huge price differences. They don’t see the hours spent or the long honed skills. Or the fact that one of the two items has completely disregarded the value of their time.
As time goes by, and I learn new skills and abilities, care for two children, work nights and try to maintain a home and marriage I have come to realise that my time is actually really rather valuable. Should I not get paid a fair wage per hour it takes me to create items to sell?
So here I am throwing out an apology to those skilled crafters out there that I may have made things difficult for with my $6 bamboo/cotton booties. (yes I was stupid enough to originally charge $6!) That hour I spent on each pair should have atleast been worth the $17 I get paid per hour for my mindless nightfill abilities. (or closer to it anyway!) I was thinking within my small little box of wanting people to see my work and purchase it. I was not looking at the big picture.
Of course if someone saw my booties, and something similar in the little display cube next to it they would wonder why the other pair were $15 and doubt their value. Wouldn’t you? As a caring community we need to try to look out for each other and promote the value of lovingly handmade items that take hours of our time and supplies out of our back pockets.
I know we need to find a balance between a fair price for us and something that customers are willing to pay for our items but please don’t make it any harder for people to see the value of our work. Please consider the hours you spent making it and give yourself a fair wage for the greater good.
I get healthy competition but there isn’t anything healthy about promoting our time as valueless. Is that not the problem with slave labour? Is that not a big part of why people choose ethical clothing and handmade options in the first place?
Craft should be fun, and it doesn’t all have to be so serious and grumpy but just take the time to consider what you are doing to the community as a whole if you don’t price your goods in a way that says hey I have skills and I know how to use them! Put a little value into yourself and in turn the rest of the crafting community around you.
We are skilled people with items that people want to buy. We just need to get them to understand the difference in time and value of our handcrafted items and what they can get at best and less. Lets not make it any harder on each other.
I was describing this method to a friend of mine and decided I should pop up a post with some links on how to do it. I like this method as double pointed needles and I have not really made friends. I am lucky enough to have myself a set of interchangeable needles so this is rather convenient for me. The magic loop method requires you have one really long circular needle in your required size/sizes. Something like 80cm+ is good for very small projects.
It is suitable for items that are smaller then the usual circular needle sizes particularly like when you are making a ladies beanie and the decreases get to a point where it becomes too small for your circular needle and would usually change over to your dpns to finish off. I just click together the longest cords in my interchangeable set, choose the right sized needle tips and off I go. Very handy to not have to run out and get a missing size or length needle.
I just yesterday received a new set of interchangeable needles that are highly recommended for this method as the cords are thin and flexible and the joins very smooth. I’ll get back to you with my opinion on the Denise interchangeable needles vs the knit pro once I have had a chance to give them a run for their money. For now my pics are just of the Denise needles. I find they do the job!
As you can see the stitches are worked on one continuous loop instead of separate little needles. Knitty had a nice post on using dpns if you are curious to compare.
I like that you don’t have to worry about stitches dropping of the ends of the separate needles. It is rather portable as there are only two tips you could lose stitches from int transport and there is plenty of extra cord for you to slide the stitches down along to prevent this. Good for people like me with little kiddies with grabby little hands! I’ve included some useful how-to links below as I am sure people have explained it better then I ever could.
Give it a go!
Or give it all a miss and just go do some crochet! Heh.
I had the great pleasure of being asked to knit something up for a friends little baby as she was premature and they were having trouble finding suitable sized clothing to bring her home in. They had an adorable outfit all picked out but there was no chance of her fitting into that just yet. So I was given a book of patterns and some yarn and buttons and a time frame of about 3 weeks. This is the sweet little result.
I never did get to use pink so I had a great old time.
After having put up a couple of photos of my son wearing his new hat, which I had finally gotten around to making up for him after focusing on all the littly baby things, a few of my facebook friends showed interest in having some of these hats for the children in their lives also.
This was great because I happened to have a stash of wool in appropriate colours from a blanket project I never got around to following up. So last weekend, which was also mothersday, I put my head down and bum up and got to work on making up an extra five of these little cuties for the people who had shown interest.
So now to some credits:
I would like to point you all to a great resource of free crochet patterns. This is where I found the pattern from which i derived my little brimmed hats. Love it.
Thanks to Jen for linking me to the fantastic blog and also, even tho she could have easily made these hats for herself, has been kind enough to purchase two of them for her cuties. A big thanks for the support!
So since deciding that I might like to sell some knitted bits and bobs I started looking into the different scenarios of using other peoples patterns. I came across a massive debate on Etsy where a couple of interesting links were posted. Bead and Button Magazine had relevant articles on jewelry making and design. Beaders’ Ethics and also Know Your Rights to Jewelry Design.
In the end the general consensus was that unless there is clear written consent to use a pattern to sell the resulting items then don’t. Anything created by someone else is automatically their intellectual property and unless they have stated on the pattern or on a sites FAQ or such that you are free to do so then don’t risk it because you may be breeching copyright.
There are grey areas here without a doubt. There are different official laws in different countries. This link was also shared in the Etsy thread. It throws a spanner into the works of the above statement by suggesting that :
Many pattern manufactures falsely claim that you cannot make items to sell from their patterns without their approval or a license. Many pattern manufactures falsely claim that you can make a limited number of items to sell from their patterns without their approval or a license. Like software, patterns are sold, not licensed. In Bobbs-Merril vs Straus, 210 U.S. 339 (1908), the Supreme Court limited the rights of copyright holders to only those allowed by statute.These claims of expanded limits on the copyrights are false and unsupported by federal law. Beginning with Bobbs-Merril vs Straus, federal courts have regularly rejected attempts by copyright holders to expand their right beyond those allowed by statute. So why do they continue to do it? Because they can. And often, people believe their claims. Mostly because they want to believe the claims. Many, many, crafting chat boards have comments posed where the crafters believe, or want to believe, the pattern manufacturer can limit what someone does with their patterns. Image Disney selling a coloring book and demanding only certain colors can be used for certain characters or they will sue for copyright infringement. The coloring book is yours after you purchase it; color it as you wish..
However, this fact will not stop these companies from improperly interfering with you attempting to make items to sell. Why do they do it? Because they know the average person will not fight back. These companies, supported by their unethical bottom-feeder corporate lawyers, will continue their mis-information campaigns until stopped by a civil suit.
So it may in fact mean that the copyright to patterns for useful clothing items may not actually hold up in court. And that the companies realise that not many small crafters are going to want to risk fighting them on it to find out. Personally I think the wise and ethical thing to do is ask permission. Failing that, consider learning how to design your own patterns and then you will have no doubt about what it is safe to be used for.
Consider these points to help protect yourself:
- Put your name on something that somebody else has created.
- Sell something created from a pattern that you have not been given permission to use for commercial purposes.
- Assume that because a pattern does not clearly state that you CANNOT sell something created from the pattern that you CAN.
- Assume that because a pattern is “free” means that you can do with it as you please.
- Be sure to read the fine print.
- Contact people to get clear written consent to use their pattern for the purpose of selling items created from them.
- Utilise Vintage patterns that are considered part of the public domain and no longer covered by copyright. This way you can learn shaping and how to structure patterns without stepping on anyones toes.
You have probably seen more and more that people are starting to consider handmade options for gifts at x-mas time and for birthdays ect. Why? Why buy something without batteries, flashing lights, noise and all that jazz? Honestly I think kids get bored with all of that stuff. All of the toys have it. It’s like the whole kids choosing the cardboard box to play with rather then the new toy. Kids like to use their imagination. They like to make the car noise themselves. My child has so many toys it is rediculas. They are mostly plastic with bits that tend to come loose and break off when they get thrown around. Why find ourselves filtering through stash and sending bags off to the op-shop regularly. It has gotten to the point where I have had to ask family to cut right back on the toys because I think it is too excessive.
Is there a preconceived notion that handmade means the item is inferior or not up to scratch? Surely you would not think so when you have bits of plastic falling off of trucks made for 3 year olds vs a beautiful wooden train set made from a sustainable plantation painted in non-toxic child safe paint with no hint of lead. More often then not handmade items are outstanding quality. And if they aren’t with a little more searching you will find something that is just perfect. There is plenty of competition so if you aren’t making quality then people will move on to someone who is.
If you are concerned about chocking hazards or not being sure of the age appropriateness of handmade gifts for children and don’t want to just put it down to trusting your own common sense then there are simple things you can look for. Avoid things with buttons or any attachments that look like they could come loose. Most soft toys are made with safety eyes for this reason. They are very firmly held into place like little bolts attached to material. If you don’t like this idea then you can often find toys with embroidered faces so there is absolutely no chance of an issue.
Small parts are a no brainer. If it looks like you could swallow it then it probably isn’t a good idea to give to a small child. I have been given several department store brought toys that while being marked as aimed at his age group have gone into the mouth of my son and promptly gagged on and spat out. While it would not likely fit down his throat I still do not like that it fits in his mouth so they are soon taken off of him. So my point here is you are capable of deciding what is ok for your child to play with regardless of what the pretty little box says. Trust in your own commonsense.
Handmade doesn’t need to be about switching out store bought toys for custom ones. There are so many areas where you could make the change. Basic home wares, clothing, jewelry, cosmetics and beauty products, soaps, home cooked sweets! There are so many fantastic gift ideas.
If you have gotten it into your head that the items are overpriced then consider the love and care that has gone into making the item. They have not been quickly mass produced in some factory in China and flown all around the world.
I saw some stunning children’s clothing at the Handmade Expo on Saturday. Beautiful little A-line skirts in vintage style prints in heavy fabric. They were so adorable. They were priced at a “whopping” $28. These are skirts that are not going to lose their shape after one wash, quickly fade and snap their flimsy elastic. They were quality items that looks as though they could take a beating.
If you are getting clothes much cheaper then that I really have to ask is the quality any good? Did they withstand many washes? Do you buy clothing that you expect to have to throw away after a few wears? Kids grow fast but come on, how frustrating is it when their clothes don’t even last long enough to be grown out of!
Don’t get me wrong, I certainly do understand choosing not to buy expensive name brand clothing for your kids. This is not something I do. But if we are going to compare apples and oranges or a $7 shirt from Best & Less and a $30 pair or Handmade corduroy trousers then yes you are going to pay a little more for the crafters time and more durable clothing. I would consider the shirt as something to wear to playgroup or around the yard when it is going to get dirty doing those things that kids do and the pants as something to wear out or a nice gift for a friend.
You could spend the little extra on a nice quality gift to give someone or the increasing price of having cheaper items shipped around the world.
So getting to my point. Where possible I am going to aim to buy handmade items as gifts for people in future and request the same for my children. I know not all people will be willing to do this. But I want to make it a real priority. Even better I would like to spread it over to as many everyday items as we can as well… or learn how to make everything myself! Considering my time constraints this seems unlikely. I want to be able to sew clothes before I die!
I could ramble on a bit more but both of my children are now finally asleep and I would have to be a complete idiot to miss the chance for a few zzz’s myself!
Take the pledge yourself. Even the smallest changes can help shape the way people view things and open up new options. Maybe sometime soon going to a Handmade market will be just like popping out to grab your groceries.
Consider it! It’s good for you, good for the community, good for the environment.