Holly Dress by Audrey & Tiffany PDF Patterns

I’ve been in a bit of a sewing slump lately, so when a pattern call was put out for the Holly Dress by Audrey & Tiffany PDF Patterns I jumped at the chance!

With young girls in our house, there never seems to be a shortage of ruffles and twirly skirts. While I love to see my 4 year old spin her way across the living room there’s a part of me that is always drawn to classic designs that allow the details of a dress to really stand out.

The Holly Dress is a perfect example of that!

Stitch To Stitch Holly Dress 1Two sets of small pintucks flank the fully lined bodice, creating gorgeous attention at the neckline. Most dresses/tops have you only sew in a handful but a full panel of more than a dozen pintucks sets this dress apart!

Stitch To Stitch Holly Dress PintucksThe back is accentuated with buttons loops instead of buttonholes. Shank buttons draw further attention to this sweet design element. A full placket provides extra coverage — no peeking skin — and shows the quality/knowledge of the designers.

Stitch To Stitch Holly Dress BackThe beautiful bodice details flow into an optional contrasting band, highlighting the knee length circle skirt. It is a perfect dress for spring, or special occasions! I could see this as a perfect little Easter dress!

Stitch To Stitch Holly Dress SittingNow that I’ve shown off my darling little girl, and her beautiful new dress, time to focus on the specifics…

Audrey & Tiffany PDF Patterns is a new(er) collaboration, combining the talents of Allison at E+M Patterns and Deb at Sprouting Jube Jube. Their patterns are classically beautiful with simple lines and amazing attention to detail. Last year they released the popular Secret Garden Dress; the Holly Dress is their second project to be released for sale. I’ve worked on pattern testing for Allison before and love her techniques; finished items are well put together, with proper technique. The insides of dresses/skirts are just as pretty as the outside.

The Holly Dress pattern is clearly written, with photos to guide you through every step. It is available in sizes 2-10 and has options for both a pintucked (like shown above) or gathered bodice. I’d consider the Holly Dress to be an intermediate sew because of the precision needed on those dainty pintucks, plus the construction of the back bodice. It is a great pattern to have in your arsenal and I’m excited to make more for my girls!

The Holly Dress is available for purchase through the Audrey & Tiffany Etsy Shop. Use coupon code “HOLLY” for 25% off your purchase (good to use on the Secret Garden Dress as well).

Happy sewing!

Amanda at Stitch To Stitch

Back to Business!

After welcoming baby BOY to our family the beginning of November, I opted to take maternity leave through the beginning of 2013 to spend time with my family and enjoy the holiday.

Now the first of the year has come and gone, Stitch To Stitch has been reopened and I am back to sewing when I can sneak some time in! Shipping times have been adjusted to reflect a (temporary) slower timeline; as I settle into a routine with three kids, items will be turned around more quickly.  Current turnaround is 10-14 business days unless otherwise noted in the listing.

My time away provided me with ample time to dream up new ideas for the shop — stay tuned to see these great pieces come to life!

Amanda at Stitch To Stitch

Shop Slowdown

My apologies for it being so quiet around here! When life gets busy, my focus shifts to filling orders and I tend to let blog posts and new items fall to the wayside.  This isn’t very good business sense, I know, but when juggling a small business and two kids without any outside help, it’s the first things that I tend to let fall to the wayside.

There is an extra (special) reason too why Stitch To Stitch has slowed considerably this summer.  We will be welcoming another baby to our family in early November! Being pregnant means I’m working at a slower pace to deliver the high quality product my customers expect.

The next few months will see a continued slowdown as I gear up for the arrival of baby.  Shipping times are currently about 3 weeks out, unless a listing specifically states otherwise.  (Christmas pajamas are on their own shipping schedule, so please read each listing carefully when purchasing.)  If you need an item shipped sooner, please contact me before placing an order to see if special arrangements can be made.

Right now I’m planning on taking maternity leave for at least the month of November — shutting the shop down completely during that time; my hope is to have limited listings available early December for last-minute holiday shopping, and be back in full force by the first of the year.  So if you have items in mind you’d like to purchase for the holiday please do so early to ensure availability.

Thank you for your understanding and your support of Stitch To Stitch! I am blessed to have the amazing customers that I do.

Part-Time Assistant

With her big sister away at camp this week — and a new found discovery of how to climb the kitchen chairs — my smallest one has decided to turn Stitch To Stitch into a family business.  Right now she prefers photo editing, responding to emails/convos and the ever popular posting on facebook.

To be safe, every time I walk away from the computer I have to force it to hibernate/sleep AND shut off the (wireless) mouse!  She’s too smart already.

A Tall Order

Sometimes the hardest part is believing in yourself…

My Dad has one dress suit — one that my grandmother made for him YEARS ago.  As long as I can remember he’s had this suit.  As a dairy farmer he doesn’t have reasons to dress up regularly so it only gets pulled out for the typical need-to-wear-a-suit occasions.  This also means he doesn’t have a huge necessity to buy something new.  After who knows how many years the suit is starting to show its age.  Not to mention, over the last 10 years or so, we’ve started to jokingly give him a hard time about it and have encouraged him to buy something new.

I should also mention that my Dad is tall and thin.  Buying a suit off the rack is more difficult for him than most.  He needs everything really narrow through the chest/torso/waist while long in the arms and inseam.  Part of me thinks this is part of the hesitation in buying something new.  My grandmother was able to tailor this suit specifically to his frame.

A couple weeks ago I was back in the Midwest for a funeral and the suit came out of the closet.  When he was putting it back away he sincerely asked me if I could bring it back to Idaho and use it as a pattern to make him a new one.  My first thought was, “no way, no how! I don’t know how to make a suit.” 

I started thinking about all the detail in the construction and the pricey materials needed.  I started thinking about the struggles of working with slippery lining material and keeping my cool when keeping it in place for sewing.  All I could think was that I’m honestly not that good/experienced of a seamstress.

Since coming home, I’ve thought a lot about his request. I’m still not confident in my ability to do it.  Especially without a written pattern to follow.  Now that I’ve spent some time researching “sewing a men’s dress suit” on the internet the task seems even more daunting! 

What has really stuck with me, is that even though I don’t believe in myself, HE believes I could do this.  I just wish it was something I felt confident in tackling for him.

 

Saturday Pattern Sharing 7/7/12

I’m changing it up a little today!  This pattern isn’t for a wearable item, but instead a great idea for all the little girls AND boys in your life!  I’m thinking that with a few modifications it would be easy enough to put together with a hot glue gun if you’re not the sewing type.  😉

This fun pattern/tutorial comes from Everyday Celebrations and would make a fantastic gift for the toddlers in your life.  Certainly a project I need to find time to put together for my 18-month old.  Although truthfully it would be easier if someone with a cricut/silhouette could be convinced to cut the letters out for me!

Happy sewing!

The Month of May

Spring time, while it beckons in the beginning of nice days and family adventures, it also means a great deal of yard/garden work for the Stitch To Stitch household.  As much as I love to sew it can’t compete with my love and plants and my desire to work outside in the garden.  So as the weather warmed and the weather allowed, we’ve spent our time outside tending to and nurturing the new life erupting and preparing the soil for what we will encourage to grow.  (Which helps to explain the lapse in blog posts the last six weeks or so.)

Thankfully, most of the “big” work is done.  All of the tomatoes, peppers, pumpkins, sweet corn and beans are planted.  All of the necessary trees, shrubs and perennials pruned.  All of the winter debris cleared out of the raspberry patch.  All of the stuff that didn’t survive our strange, too-warm winter was replaced with new plants.  All I have to do yet is plant the carrots and the beets (trying something new this year) and plant annuals to put some color in the flowerbeds.

On top of that I finished and shipped 19 orders, made a dress for my daughter’s preschool graduation and somehow managed to keep the house presentable and the family fed.  Although barely.  :)

Now I can turn my attention back to getting some new items up in the shop!

Behind the Seams

A glimpse into more than just the sewing side of Stitch To Stitch…

For Mother’s Day, my husband and girls got me three gift certificates.  All which perfectly fit my personality.

#1 — a gift certificate to the local nursery.  Besides sewing, gardening is my favorite thing to do.  If the weather (and kids) cooperated I’d spend all of my free time outside playing in the garden and flowerbeds.  I have degrees in both horticulture and agriculture and digging in the soil is one of the greatest stress relievers for me.  For the last few days I’ve been making a mental tally of new plants I need/want for the yard.

#2 — a gift certificate to the local outdoor store.  Our family loves the outdoors — hiking, fishing, camping.  I’ve also recently started cycling and am trying to slowly purchase the things I want (shoes, cycling shorts, jerseys, water bottles, bicycle computer) to make my riding more enjoyable.  I’ve also had my eye on a new pair of sandals they’ve got in stock.

#3 — a gift certificate for coffee.  I’ve tried and I’ll sheepishly admit, that I just can not break the coffee habit.  It’s better than it used to be — at one point between kids I was drinking almost a pot of coffee, myself, every day — but I still need my one cup in the morning.  When I first started drinking coffee YEARS ago I went heavy on the cream/sugar and light on the coffee. Over the years I’ve found my tastes changing and I now prefer darker blends with only cream, no sugar.  Having some “free” coffee money means I can splurge a few times on my vice of fat-free lattes.

More than a Nuisance — Clothing Tags

We’ve all had them: tags in the back of a garment that are more of a nuisance than anything else.  Maybe you’ve pulled out your scissors and cut them out; maybe you rolled the dice and tried to rip them out.  I’ll gladly admit that I hate them.  I hate how they scratch against my skin; I hate how they irritate my children’s skin; and I really hate having to put them in the items I sew and sell (because I know your children think they’re a nuisance too).

But thanks to the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), I have to pass that nuisance — times two — along to you!  Once again, I’m sure you’re asking, “why?”

These labels allow the buyer to “ascertain” product and source information.  Translation, it’s a way for the buyer and seller to know exactly what materials are used in a specific garment, in case of a future problem/recall.

For a crafter the CPSIA tracking label (required on all items for children under the age of 12) must be permanent and to the “extent practical“.  They must include at minimum the following information:

  • Your company or shop name, or your CPSC’s Small Batch Manufacturers Registration Number.
  • Information on where the item was completed.
  • Contact information, website, or business registered address.
  • The season with year of manufacture (at minimum) or date of completion of the product.
  • A batch number if you make repeats of the designs.

**Small volume manufacturers and crafters may be unlikely to use lot, batch or run
numbers, and, again, the Commission does not interpret Section 103(a) to require them to
create such a system. Nevertheless, reasonable practices should be in place by such
manufacturers to keep records of components used in their products.**

In simple terms, if you already keep records of your materials and sources and you can tell where each material came from, you do not need to use a system of batch numbers.

Along with the CPSIA tags that I’m required to include, manufacturers who create garments, regardless of the age of the intended user, also need to comply with the FTC’s Care Labeling Rule (unless you are lucky enough to fall into the exemption).

An FTC label needs at the very least:

  • Your company’s registered business name, or a brand/label name with Registration Number.
  • Fiber content by percentage.
  • Fiber’s country of origin.
  • Washing and care instructions

If the FTC required information is already found on the CPSIA tracking label, it does not need to be duplicated on the care/content label.

Stitch To Stitch CPSIA & FTC Labels

All this means, is that for every item I sell, I have to permanently affix (i.e. sew) both of these labels into the garment.  It adds a small amount to my production costs and a couple extra minutes to my sewing time.  As much of a nuisance as I think a label might be to the wearer, at the same time I think it makes the finished item look more professional as well.  It also means that I’ve done my part by following the laws to help keep our children safe.

The big question for other small business owners…are you CPSIA and FTC compliant?

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.

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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/