French Terry Dolman Top

So, yeah. When Rachael at imagine gnats asked if I wanted to test some fabric I might have asked for some french terry to work on a project for ME as well! One of my goals this year was to start doing some “selfless sewing”; I spend so much of my time making things for my kids (and customers), that it’s time I make stuff for myself.

To keep things easy to start off with, I chose the newly released drop shoulder top from Seamingly Smitten. I’d never sewn any of her patterns myself but had recommendations from a few friends. And truthfully, it was 50% off at the release so that might have swayed my opinion just a little. Hehe.

Rachael sent me a medium weight french terry in a fun stripe print. When I opened the package I literally wrapped it around my shoulders and fell in love. The french terry is nice and warm without being super heavy. Off it went to be laundered and I began the fun task of printing and taping pattern pieces together.

The pattern was pretty straightforward and came together fairly quickly. Like so many striped fabrics, the stripes weren’t printed completely straight across the fabric, but it was much better than some I’ve worked with. To make sure it wouldn’t drive me crazy every time I looked at it I took the extra time to line the stripes up precisely at the seams. That part was honestly the most time consuming step! Sometimes my perfectionist tendencies slow me down but it was soooo worth it in the end.

Stitch To Stitch French Terry TestingThe french terry wasn’t as easy to work with as the ponte de roma I used for the ruffle pants, but still easier than some knits. The edges do curl a little. This can be challenging when attaching cuffs or other pieces when you need to stretch one piece to fit the longer length of another. To help combat this, I sprayed the pieces well with Best Press to help them keep their shape. It didn’t stop it completely but made it easier to work with.

I used my serger to construct all of the garment, and then topstitched on my sewing machine (using my walking foot and a ballpoint needle). Because the neckline is so wide I used a long, straight stitch to topstitch the neckband in place. I knew it wouldn’t be under stress to fit over my head so the need for a stretchable seam wasn’t as important. This was more about looks than functionality. I also added a cuff at the end of the long sleeves, and a bottom band instead of a traditional hem. The project took me a couple of hours with intermittent breaks.

As soon as I put it on, I couldn’t stop smiling! When making it again I would make some slight changes to the overall pattern (minimizing the dolman sleeve slightly, and adjusting the overall length of the sleeve and the top) — with this being the first time using it, I wasn’t sure how it would fit but it was good following the directions based on the size chart. And I’m short too so tops are quite often long one me. But this shirt is so incredibly comfortable and WARM. It’s going to be well worn. Especially during the colder months!

Comfy enough that I could stand outside in temps in the low 30’s today, to get some photos! Which was hard for me because I’d much rather be behind the camera than in front of it.

Stitch To Stitch French Terry Dolman 1To add some fun contrast, I flipped the fabric on the arm pieces so the stripes went a different direction! Love how it turned out.

Stitch To Stitch French Terry Dolman 2You have to love the squinty-looking-into-the-sun photos! I figured I shouldn’t have every one with my sunglasses on…

STS French Terry Dolman 3

Fabric details:

  • This is 100% cotton french terry, and weighs about 13oz/yard. It makes it a nice weight for a lighter sweatshirt without being overly heavy.
  • Shrinkage was minimal, and I was surprised. My 2 yard piece shrank about 3″ total lengthwise after washing/drying on medium high temps. For 100% cotton knit fabric this minimal shrinkage is awesome.
  • It is a 50% crosswise, 2-way stretch with about 85% recovery. This allows you to stretch it to fit over your body but it will not completely go back until it’s washed/dried again.

I’m so glad that I took the plunge to make something for myself! Can’t wait to do it more often. And you can bet I might have to make myself another one of these tops in a solid color!

Amanda at Stitch To Stitch

Ponte Knit Ruffle Pants

A little over a week ago, I gasped when I saw the new shipment of knit fabrics over at imagine gnats — an array of gorgeous new colors and prints. When Rachael messaged me shortly thereafter I quickly agreed to help her try out some of the beautiful new fabrics. Who says no to playing with fabric, after all?

I was instantly drawn to a bright, bold print and knew it would be perfect for my middle girl. Rachael paired it with a coordinating solid and I set off to find the perfect pattern to use. My daughter is obsessed with ruffle pants right now, which helped narrow down my search; I decided on the Strawberry Fields Knit Triple Ruffle Pants by FooFoo Threads.

Then, I had a moment of slight panic when I remembered I’d be sewing with knits! I have handfuls of knit fabrics I purchased and then set aside because I prefer to sew with woven cottons. With Rachael depending on me to get this project done ASAP I knew I’d have to face it head on. Yikes.

A few days later, the mail lady delivered my pretty fabric and I was in love. The fabrics I chose were both Ponte de Roma knit — meaning they are a medium weight, with a beautiful drape and great recovery (you can stretch them and they come back to the original size really well). The colors were even more vibrant in person and they were silky soft. I had a feeling they’d be much easier to sew with then the lighter weight stuff I usually buy.

A quick run through the washer and dryer to get some measurements on shrinkage and I was ready to start sewing! Since I’ve made hundreds of pair of ruffle pants over the last 5 years, there wasn’t much need to the pattern. I used the pieces to cut what I needed, scanned through the directions (which are always well written, I love her patterns!) and off I went. My girl peeked in before bed to see what I was doing and was ecstatic to see I was making something for her.

Thankfully, the ponte de roma was fantastic to sew with! I used my serger for the main construction so the seams would have some stretch to them (a regular straight stitch has the tendency to snap when used on knit fabrics because the fabric stretches, and the seam doesn’t) and then topstitched ruffles with a twin needle on my sewing machine. The heavier weight kept the edges from curling and it didn’t get sucked down into my machine. One of the nicest things about knits too is the edges won’t fray; meaning there’s no need to finish the raw edges if you don’t want to. This not only makes it much easier to gather fabric for ruffles but it also meant I left the bottom edges of the ruffles unfinished. As I do with any knit garment, I used the walking foot on my sewing machine and ballpoint/jersey needles.

Start to finish I was done in just over an hour, and the results were fantastic!

Stitch To Stitch Ponte de Roma Ruffle PantsThe FooFoo Threads pattern is designed so the pants are more fitted through the waist/seat/hips and then widen out slightly through the leg. Not super skinny leggings, nor overly wide like traditional ruffle pants — in my opinion a perfect pattern for petite little girls. I will definitely be using this pattern to make her many pair of pants for spring/summer!

Stitch To Stitch Ponte de Roma Ruffle Pants 2Fabric details:

  • They are both blends (95% polyester, 5% spandex for the print and 75% polyester, 21% rayon, 4% spandex for the solid) and a little heavier at 11-13oz/yard; it might get heavy if you use it for large projects but these itty bitty ruffle pants turned out at a reasonable weight.
  • The fabric blends also meant less shrinkage when the fabrics were washed; the print shrunk from 36″ to 33.5″, the solid shrunk from 36″ to 34.5″. This is much less than most cotton knits.
  • Both fabrics are a 2-way stretch (about 40-50% crosswise) and have 100% recovery.
  • And they came out of the dryer wrinkle-free!

Overall, this project came together much better than I anticipated! The ponte de roma knits were great to work with. I’m already scheming items to make for ME with some of the other prints Rachael has in her shop.

Amanda at Stitch To Stitch

 

Boxy Pouch Giveaway

(Pssst…if you’re here for the giveaway and don’t want to read through all of this, just jump to the bottom of the page. I’m not going to be offended, I promise.)

As strange as it seems, sometimes my creativity is fueled by working on items completely different than what’s for sale in the shop.  I think this is because I’m allowing my brain to not think about “work” and just sew for fun; opening up the flood gates to new ideas, new fabric combinations.  The benefit too, is that if I don’t brainstorm anything new I still end up with a great project to add to my collection!

For the longest time I’ve been intimidated by zippers and I vowed in 2014 to overcome that nervousness.  I figured one of the best ways to get past that fear was to just sit down and work on a project that made me sew a zipper in. And then do it over and over and over again until I felt completely comfortable. Last week when I stumbled onto this free boxy pouch tutorial over at Pink Stitches, I knew it was the perfect place to start working with zippers AND do some fun sewing for myself, to help get the creative juices flowing!

To make it fun, I took a handful of scraps in grey and yellow from 2013 projects and pieced them into scrappy panels for the sides, then quilted them on the diagonal for some contrast.  A white zipper and a small handle pull it all together.

After a couple of hours of sewing (it took the most time to piece the side panels together and then quilt them), and only one question to the author, I had a beautiful new scrappy pouch sitting on my sewing table!  As I finished it up I had the great idea to pass it along to someone in a giveaway.  A giveaway just for fun, no strings attached!

Which is ultimately why you’re here, so here’s what you need to know!  The mandatory entry is just that, only an entry, no strings attached.  No need to “like” any pages, no need to comment or grant access to anything.  Just click on the first entry and cross your fingers your name gets drawn.  You can receive additional entries for liking the Stitch To Stitch Facebook page, leaving a blog comment or sharing the giveaway to your Facebook friends (the easiest way to do that is through the STS Facebook page) but they’re not required.

Good luck!

 

Stitch To Stitch Boxy Pouch Giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Entry open to US and Canadian residents and runs until midnight (MST) on Sunday, January 19th, 2014.  Pouch measures approximately 9x5x4″ and is fully lined.

Summer Is Sundress Season

While I love sewing all of the items in the shop, without a doubt, one of my favorite to put together is the super cute sundresses made using white eyelet fabric.  When they’re made as flowergirl dresses for a wedding it just makes me smile — knowing that my creations are going to take part in such a beautiful day.

Over the last two weeks I’ve had orders for 5 of these little cuties.  With each dress using almost 5 yards of fabric (between the top skirt and the underskirt layer) it means my sewing room has been a cloud of fluffy whiteness!  It also means taking even more care to not have anything in the room (especially dirty hands!) that could get the gorgeous fabrics dirty.

One of the aspects I love about the dresses is the ability to customize the ribbon detail at the bottom of the skirt.  While most customers order the ribbon in simple white grosgrain, sometimes I have one made to order with colors matching the wedding theme.

White Eyelet Sundress with Pink Ribbon Detail

The last order I shipped wanted light pink to match her wedding colors — super cute and perfect for a little flowergirl!

Happy Sewing!

 

Pushing Creativity

I’m continuing to be super busy with orders (which I love), but squeezing in some side projects any time I can!

The big project today was working on some creative diapering solutions for a neighbor.  Her little boy is in a cast to help correct infantile scoliosis and they are struggling with how to diaper him to keep the cast clean/dry.  We’ve come up with some initial ideas and I’m hoping we can get something that works without needing too many revisions!  I’m excited to find a way to help make this journey a little easier for them.  :)

On the business front, I’m dreaming up new ideas for the ruffle rompers that have been selling so well!  Last week I bought some gorgeous dupioni silk in cream/ivory that I can’t wait to play with. 

Happy sewing!

The Basics of CPSIA

I’ve been asked numerous times, how come I don’t list (more) items with cute embellishments, matching hair bows or clothing with zippers and buttons.  I understand the question and take it to heart.  As a Mom of little girls, I love the thought of matching accessories to go with their outfits; as a business owner the thought of adding accessories and expanding my listings is extremely appealing.

The problem is all due to the CPSIA.

The what?

The CPSIA.

The CPSIA stands for the Consumer Products Safety Improvement Act which is a law that was enacted in August of 2008.  The stated purpose of this bill is to “establish consumer product safety standards and other safety requirements for children’s products and to reauthorize and modernize the Consumer Product Safety Commission.”

The CPSIA requires that all products intended for children under 12 are tested and certified as meeting the lead limits as set forth in the law. Phthalate testing is also required for toys intended for children under 12 or “child care articles” for children under three.

The CPSIA came about in response to the high levels of lead/phthlates found in children’s toys and products over the last 5 years.  It was written as consumers demanded regulation over imported products that often have little manufacturing safeguards in place.  What it means is the items our children will wear/play now have safeguards in place. A guarantee they are safe from harmful substances such as lead and phthalates.

What wasn’t anticipated was the impact it would have on small businesses making handcrafted items. It means there is much more involved with making children’s items than going to the store, buying materials and coming home to craft!  It means making sure all of your manufacturing practices and materials are CPSIA compliant.  It means spending unmeasurable amounts of time trying to read through the technical jargon to fully understand the legislation. 

But back to the purpose of this post.  Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty of the CPSIA and how it affects the items you see for sale at Stitch To Stitch

When the law was originally written and enacted, there were materials exemptions set based upon the manufacturing of said items.  The Consumer Product Safety Commission felt that certain materials would be lead-free if appropriate procedures were followed during production.

The following materials are considered exempt from third party lead testing by the CPSC (Consumer Product Safety Commission):

  • Precious metals, including gold, silver, and titanium.
  • Precious and semiprecious gemstones that are not associated with lead in nature, e.g. rubies, emeralds, tourmaline, jade, quartz.
  • Natural and cultured pearls.
  • Wood.
  • Amber.
  • Minerals and fossils, except for those minerals (like galena) that are associated with lead in nature.
  • Plant-based materials such as bark, essential oils, jojoba, and tung oil.
  • Animal-based materials such as horn, coral, seashells, bone, shellac, and animal glue.
  • Food-grade items such as beeswax, mineral oil, food coloring, herbs, milk, and honey.
  • All textiles: dyed and undyed, natural and synthetic.
  • Paper, cardboard, and similar wood-pulp products.
  • CMYK process printing ink.
  • Books, if they are made entirely of exempt materials.  All books printed after 1985 are considered to be made of exempt materials.

Thankfully, for me, this means that my fabric, lace and thread are considered exempt.  The exemption of these three materials covers over 90% of the basic materials used in all of my creations.  For me, these exemptions lend a huge sigh of relief.  When the CPSIA was originally enacted some people chose to simply shut down their businesses if their main materials were not on the exemption list.

Not only where certain materials automatically granted exemption, the CPSC also determined that some materials could be conditionally exempt.  Cases where they believed overall the materials could be a concern, but that in specific situations it became innocuous.

The following materials are exempted from third-party testing if they meet certain conditions:

  • Adhesives, if they cannot be touched by a child.
  • Stainless steel, except for 303Pb stainless steel.
  • Leather, if it does not have a surface pigment (these pigments are considered in the same category as paints)
  • Paper, cardboard, and other paper products, if they do not have a coating on them (such as laminating).
  • Any component that is inaccessible, meaning it cannot be touched by a child’s finger.

The conditional exemption of inaccessibility allows me to not worry about the content of elastics used in waistbands, necklines, armholes, etc.  (Some would argue that elastic is considered a textile; others disagree.  This bypasses the argument totally.)  The casings I sew are fully enclosed so the child can not touch the elastic under normal wear/conditions.  Yet another huge sigh of relief for Stitch To Stitch.

To minimize confusion, some items were clearly listed in the legislation as not being exempt from the testing.  These are items that have previously been culprits of high lead levels in children’s products.

The following materials are specifically mentioned in the document as not exempted from third-party lead testing:

  • Composite wood products, like particle board
  • Paints, varnishes, and lacquers
  • Ceramic glazes and clay
  • Glass, crystals, and rhinestones
  • Art supplies
  • Inks that do not become part of the paper
  • Lamination
  • Screen printing inks
  • Metal and plastic components, such as nails, screws, zippers, buttons, snaps, hair bands, barrettes, and doll accessories
  • Metal or plastic bindings used to hold books together, including staples.

This is where the CPSIA gets really difficult for me.  Zippers, buttons, snaps and barrettes are the 4 main items that I’d be interested in using.  What does this mean?

It means that either I completely ignore the regulations and risk being fined, or I ensure these items are certifiably lead-free.  The biggest problem of this regulation, is the cost incurred at the small business level.  From what I’ve read lead testing through a certified lab can easily run in the THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS for a single item. This might not mean much to a huge manufacturer with revenues in the millions of dollars but for a small business owner this cost is debilitating.  Without a doubt it quickly becomes cost-prohibitive.

Right now they are allowing for “upstream certification”, meaning a crafter is allowed to use the test results of a supplier to certify that a product is lead-free or phthalate-free.  So you’re in luck if you can find a supplier that has their items tested.  One of the common problems is that they will tell customers their items are not “designated for children under 13”.  A technical loophole which allows them to not complete the testing, saving thousands of dollars for those who could afford to do the testing.

_______________________________________________________

My biggest concern as a shop owner is what lies ahead for the handmade/handcrafted industry.  Are they going to tighten down legislation even further?  Will they mandate everything be third-party tested at some point?

It’s hard too, because it’s apparent that many people are either completely unaware of the legislation or are blatantly ignoring it. I know that I’ve lost sales to shops that are non-compliant. It saddens me to know that I’m losing revenue by following the law.  At what point will Etsy, Artfire and other marketplaces require that all shops affected by these standards prove they are following the legislation?   

To put it mildly, although great in theory, the CPSIA is a major hindrance for the small artisan community.

If you’re interested in reading more about the CPSIA, you can find easy to understand information at this link:  http://www.whatisthecpsia.com/

Sneak Peak!

After the success of last week’s Friday De-Stash, I’m going to try to do this weekly until I can put a decent dent in my fabric stash!  Some times that will mean only 1-2 items for sale; some times I’ll have more available.  It will just depend on the fabric I choose to use (i.e. how much I have on hand) and the pattern requirements.

I’m not going to give away details but here’s a peak:

Stitch To Stitch May9th De-Stash SneakI have enough fabric for FIVE items tomorrow.  Make sure to check back early tomorrow to see the De-Stash Deal.

Happy Sewing!

 

Growing Pains

Lately I’ve really been feeling the strain of getting a small business to take off.  After much thought I made the decision to believe in myself, take a leap and open some wholesale accounts to buy fabric.  This means buying larger quantities, or even full bolts at a time, but it gives the buyer a significant discount on price.  

I made the leap and opened accounts with Ruffle Fabric and Riley Blake, both of which companies are fantastic to deal with.  Super helpful customer service and fast shipping.  Not to mention amazing product!  I wanted to open another 1-2 accounts to give myself some more diversity but it’s proving to be challenging.  Initial order minimums of $500 and annual orders of $1200-1500 is just out of my league right now; no matter how hard I believe in myself.

This is where I’m at a disadvantage not being close to a large city with more textile shops to purchase from.

I’m brainstorming to come up with creative ideas but I’m coming up empty.  Maybe this is something out of my reach for right now.  Maybe in another year it could be a possibility.

 

Ruffle Dress Sneak Peak

UPS dropped off Riley Blake deliciousness while I was out running errands with the girls last Friday.  Due to a jam packed weekend schedule — it was our wedding anniversary after all — I opened the packages but set the bolts of fabric downstairs in my studio, not even picking up my rotary cutter until yesterday afternoon.

Don’t worry, I had visions and ideas bouncing through my head most of the weekend!  So when I sat down yesterday I knew exactly what I wanted to do.

This is what came together after a couple hours of work.

Not fair, I know!  I will tell you that it’s a super cute peasant dress with half sleeves and a ruffle panel down the front of the dress.  Hopefully it will be ready to list in the shop within the next couple of weeks.  :)

Happy Sewing!