I'm so excited to be releasing my third garment pattern! This is the my first pattern that uses my animal sizing, which I absolutely love. And it's already a staple in my closet! I've made three for myself, and I already have plans to make a fourth one! Robes are one of those garments that I never knew I wanted until I had one. My mother in law surprised me with a super fuzzy and warm robe for Christmas a few years ago, and now I barely take it off during the winter because I'm always freezing. But I decided I loved wearing it so much that I wanted a cute summery version too.
And voila! The Inara was born. The name is a nod to the show Firefly, because Inara is one of my favourite characters and a flirty robe seems right up her alley! The robe is short and sassy with a hem that curves up on the sides, and it works great with all the lightweight drapey fabrics in your stash. It can be a beach coverup, a bridesmaid gift, lacy lingerie, a maternity delivery robe, a house coat, or a light outer layer for summery days. So much possibility!
And it's a great pattern for Capable (advanced beginner) sewers! The curved hem, the thread belt loops, and the homemade binding might be new skills to add to your repertoire, and they each come with step by step instructions, tips, and even a few videos to help you along your way. And of course, I'm always here as a resource! I can't wait to see all the fun you have with this pattern!
One of the benefits of having super cool bosses (I’m including myself in here of course) is that I get to travel without worrying about using up too many vacation days. The factory life of having only 5 vacation days for an entire year is over, and now I can basically take off as much time as I can afford to! This summer has been a great example of this perk. I not only went on a family adventure to Alaska at the beginning of the month, but I also just got back from a work trip to London! Eddie was there participating in an Alzheimer’s conference, and I was able to tag along!
Along with the normal sight seeing we accomplished, I also took the time when Eddie was in the conference to go on a bit of a sewing holiday tour of London.
Here are a few of my favourites from the trip:
(excuse the blurry photos, I was using my phone!)
Fabrics Galore was another fabric shop that stuck out to me. Their window display was stellar, and I really enjoyed their fabric selection! I love very modern prints, and this store was full of them, especially, their home décor section. I’m just sad I didn’t have any projects in mind that would fit these beautiful fabrics! I love anything cactus, world map, or insect related, and this store had all of those! They also had lots of skull fabrics, and even a sort of cork fabric!
I ended up finding a beautiful cotton chambray with birds on it, and decided that I needed a shirt or a shirt dress out of it.
Cloth House Warehouse
I found out later in the week that Cloth House had a separate warehouse location that was *gasp* having a huge sale. This second location is going to be closed for renovations this summer (and apparently summer starts in August across the pond, as the sale ended July 28th) so when I visited, prices were ridiculously low in order to move inventory out. I’m talking £2 a metre for 60” wide rolls of cotton or silk fabrics, £5 a metre for wools, and specialty fabrics. It was a very small room full of fabric and several people shopping, each trying to set aside a personal stash of fabric rolls for when they were ready to purchase. And I loved it!! I love a good deal, and I love digging through fabric and seeing other people super excited about sewing too! I bought myself 5 metres, and I think I left that store the most empty-handed of anyone in there. Here’s what I got: 1m blush mesh, 1m black mesh, 1m light grey jersey, and 2m of some sort of blue cotton bottom weight knit.
Needless to say, I had to use an extra carry-on bag to bring home my new prizes. There were so many more stores that I walked past, or stepped inside for a bit. Too many to talk about individually here. I’ve added a few more photos just to give you a taste.
Oh, and I absolutely love that in the UK, notions are “haberdashery”. Absolutely brilliant!
This past month, (June) I had the honor of being a part of the Indieana Handicraft Exchange in Indianapolis!
This was my first time participating in this craft show, and actually my first time participating in a summer craft show at all! The IHE has been around for 10 years now, is a part of the IMAF at the Harrison Center for the Arts, and it is put on by the popular Mass Ave store Homespun: Modern Handmade. I was one of 150 vendors that participated, and there were also food trucks, and live music. This was only my second outdoor show, and the first was back in October, so my product line has changed a bit since then. My kits have new packaging, and I’ve paired down what I offer at the shows (for the sake of space and display cohesiveness). Here are some pictures of what my set up looked like!
I used the same tent, cover, and sign as my last show, and had a table and the trunk again too.
The curtain rod that I used back in October served me well enough that I decided to add a second level of rod to be able to display twice the number of Indiana Pillows.
I also found these great shelves (below) at goodwill that fold up completely flat when you need them too, which make them great for my craft show displays, because they fit in my car!
Along with the updated product displays, I updated my pricing displays. I created several wooden chalkboard signs a more versatile way to display pricing. If I decide to change what I’m selling, or the price I’m selling for at a craft show, I can simply erase and rewrite the price. I drilled holes in a few of the signs to allow for hanging on the rods alongside the pillows, and the rest I glued a bit of extra wood on the back to make them stand up. I used simple drawings for labels not only because they took up less room on the sign, but also would come across more clearly to customers.
I was really feeling the chalkboard vibe for this show, so I decided to make a fun sign (below) to help advertise the kits. I've noticed a direct correlation between the number of signs I have about a product and the number of people who comment on it. I've gone from no one realizing that I sell DIY kits, to having a ton of people comment on it. I actually may need to add another sign about buying a pillow ready-made though, bc with all my DIY signage, some people thought all my ready pillows were just samples. But oh well, I had a blast drawing up this sign, and the chalk pen made it super easy. It even rained on me at the craft show, and while you can see the streaks from the rain, the chalk actually held up pretty well!
Speaking of the rain, you may have noticed that my tent does not have any siding to it. Yup. I had big sheets of plastic that we hurriedly clipped onto the sides and back of my tent to keep everything dry. It actually worked, but only because I had about 5 people there helping me out. I never would have been able to get them all up by myself. You can see the plastic in the background of the photo below, taken by my awesome sister-in-law-to-be Rachel. Also, the sunglasses on Mr. Indiana were a hit with all the kids who stopped by the tent. If I intend to get serious about this craft show world (as yet undetermined) I'll definitely have to invest in a better tent.
I can't forget to mention that I debuted a new product at the IHE: the square Indy skyline pillow. Check them out here!
It was a long day (as all craft show days are) but overall, the rain didn’t ruin the day, and all my helpers and I spent the day talking to great customers and looking at all the cool products that everyone else had to offer too. And my favorite part of the day was actually a surprise.
At the very end of the show I got to talk with Amanda from Homespun, and she took some of my kits to sell in the store on Mass Ave! Which was one of my goals for the year!!
I’ve always hated throwing away fabric. Even the little pieces. As you probably know, I have an entire Etsy shop dedicated to reusing fabric remnants! So why in the world it didn’t occur to me to recycle my fabric scraps before… I don’t know! I have no excuse! Except that maybe, just like everyone else, I didn’t really know you could! Oh I knew you could reuse fabric, and I do a lot of that. But I didn’t’ really know you could recycle it. But then I watched this video (if you haven’t seen it yet, it is worth watching!):
And it blew my mind. Zero waste. ZERO.
And then I watched True Cost on Netflix. Which is another eye opener. I recommend watching that too. It really got me motivated to do everything I could to lessen my negative impact in the fashion and manufacturing world.
True Cost is a documentary that came out in 2015, about the impact the fashion industry has on the world. According to the film, there has been a 500% worldwide increase in clothing consumption when you compare it to the 90’s. There is also a huge increase in the amount of clothing that is disposed of every year. The average American wastes 82 lbs of textiles in a single year.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that 85% of post-consumer textile waste ends up in our landfills, and that textile waste makes up almost 5% of all landfill space.
But what can I do to help this??
I went on a Google spree. I became obsessed! I looked up everything I could on how to recycle fabric in my area. I know that not all of these options are going to hold up everywhere, but these ideas will at least help you get started!
With all the different people and groups I’ve reached out to about fabric scraps, I’ve developed a bit of a system in my apartment. I now have a series of containers where I separate my fabric scraps into large, small, and unusable. Once I fill up my containers, it’s time to pass them along. The unusable scraps go into a trash bag marked “fabric scraps” and get delivered to one of the thrift stores. The larger pieces go to the 4-H and Project Linus groups. And the small pieces go to the kids just learning how to sew! I have a spreadsheet complete with everyone’s contact info, and I rotate who gets the next delivery of fabric goodness.
As the summer draws to a close, and we send kids (and husbands) back to school, I can’t help but think about all the amazing things I have be able to do and see in these past few months. We traveled to several places this summer, including Chicago, Toronto, and New York City. And in each of these places, I did something I’ve never done before: gone fabric shopping.
What?? How I have I never done this before?? Fabric is my bread and butter. I have been to all these cities before, you would think that I had looked at their sewing shops while I was there! But I haven’t! In my defense, I was quite a bit younger when I visited NYC and Toronto last. But Chicago…. I’m completely guilty. Not only have I been several times, but it is only a few hours away from me.
Honestly, the thought of seeking out new fabric stores to shop at has hardly ever crossed my mind. This is because, as most of you know, the majority of the materials I use for my business are second hand. Which means that I don’t usually spend a lot of time shopping for fabric. I tend to order any specific supplies I need online through a wholesale website. Even when I did do more shopping for fabric (like when I had to get supplies for my design classes at ball state) I really only had Joann Fabrics, Hobby Lobby, or Hancock’s (RIP) to shop at. But this summer I have more than made up for my lack of fabric stores. And I wanted to share some of my pictures and experiences with you!
My first trip was to Chicago, with the American Sewing Guild ladies from Indianapolis. We made a day trip out of it, and visited several different stores around town including Vogue Fabrics, Supreme Novelty Fabrics, Fishman’s Fabrics and Textile Discount Outlet.
First, here are some pictures of the first three:
Best for last:
Textile Discount Outlet is now my favorite fabric store. Ever. Just going into this store is an adventure in and of itself. The main floor starts out being relatively organized, and mostly priced. From there, you spread out into three floors, 13 rooms, and 75,000 sq ft filled with fabric. And I mean FILLED. Floor to ceiling, and then some. I could have spent the entire day in this one store. Partly because of the size, and partly because the further you go inside the building the more you have to dig. Eventually, you end up in a dusty dirty corner of a dingy warehouse basement, opening random boxes of even more random sewing goods. Which is SO MUCH FUN! From what the other ladies told me, Textile Discount Outlet get a lot of their random assortment of inventory as mill ends, or from factories and stores going out of business. Which means you never quite know what you will find, but the prices tend to be great! I ended up buying some leather and some hardware (for a travel bag pattern I’m working on. It is going to be awesome!!) and there wasn’t even a set price for the hardware. The clerk called over a manager, who just threw out a (super cheap) number. I was in heaven.
Eddie and I went to Toronto for an Alzheimer’s conference, since his PHD research is in that field. While he was at the conference, I had a chance to do some exploring! We happened to be at a hotel only about a mile away from a whole street full of fabric shopping. They even had these cute thimble and button statues!
I visited several places, including King Textiles, Leo’s Textiles, Trendy Fabric, Affordable Textiles, Leather & Sewing Supply Depot, WorldSew Inc.
King Textiles was a really fun store, with a super cute window display of big yard sticks and vintage machines. I fell in love with a few different fabrics here, but somehow refrained from buying anything.
Another favorite was the World Sewing Center which was the smallest, most crowded little shop I’ve ever seen. There were a few nooks and crannies that I could barely fit into, and I’m not a large person! I actually witnessed someone climbing on top of a huge pile of fabric rolls to pull something off a shelf.
NEW YORK CITY
After Toronto, we took a detour to visit one of my best friends in New York City! Despite a small snafu involving locking ourselves out of her apt in the pouring rain without our phones, we had a blast! We had one day to explore the city, and it was my absolute goal to go to Mood Fabrics. Eddie came with, and made fun of me for my complete mood change from hungry and tired pre-fabric shop and completely jazzed post-fabric shop.
He also informed me that he wanted an entire fabric made out of selvage, because he liked the fuzzy feel on the ends of the fabric rolls! I couldn't seem to explain to him that this wasn't really possible...
I loved the elevator operator, and the doggie mascot, and there was a huge selection of exotic leather, but (despite Eddie’s encouragement) didn’t find anything I HAD to have at Mood.
All in all, I restrained myself surprisingly well when it came down to buying materials this summer. But I suppose, for me, fabric shopping is really more about the inspiration than the need to purchase. I have so many ideas and plans after seeing so much fabric. I feel completely recharged and full of a million ideas! I can’t wait to show you guys some of them! Stay tuned!
I’ve made patterns before. And I’ve taught sewing classes before. But this past weekend was the first time that I’ve combined the two. After teaching my last class at the Indy Trade School (if you haven’t heard of them, it is definitely worth checking out!) about how to use downloadable patterns, one of my students suggested that I teach how to actually sew one of my Indiana Pillow patterns next.
I thought this class would be more nerve wracking to teach (I am a terrible public speaker) but it was actually so much better! I should have just started with a sewing class instead of the presentation on patterns, which I thought would be easier! Sometimes my tiptoeing nature ends up making things harder on myself. Teaching sewing is much less formal than a presentation, and I felt so much more relaxed this time. Although that may also be because I had some awesome students!
Ann, Lynda, and Steve were so much fun to work with, and I loved seeing their ideas for their Indiana pillows. Re-purposing old pillow stuffing, celebrating Butler, or creating a party decoration, everyone brought their own story to the sewing machine and I found it fascinating and inspiring to see how everyone managed to individualize their creations.
Despite a few machine setbacks, everyone managed to end up with a beautiful pillow in the end!
The biggest challenge (after hauling a carload of sewing tools into the coffee shop: Thank you Steve for your help!) was actually how much time we needed. Because this was my first time teaching this class, I misjudged how much time we would need. Timing myself making a pillow apparently really doesn’t work well as a benchmark since I regularly sew 40 hours a week and I know the pattern backwards and forwards. The class was supposed to be from 3:30 to 5:00, and even with starting a bit early, I didn’t end up leaving until 6:00!
Luckily, Josie, the owner of Rabble Coffee was super nice and willing to stay late to let us keep working. I had never been to Rabble Coffee before this class. The trade school used to be located in the circle city industrial complex, which is where I taught my last class. But I definitely prefer Rabble! Not only do they make a delicious smoothie, but I find it an inspiring place! Josie, who seems to be about my age (although I am a notably terrible judge of these things), has apparently wanted to open a coffee shop since she was a kid, and has had Rabble up and running for almost a year now. A cool girl living out her dream while making a difference in a comeback neighborhood. I don’t know about you but I think this is super inspiring. Maybe it’s the struggling business owner in me.
Basically, count me in for going back to Rabble, and count me in for teaching another Trade School class. It was more fun, and even more inspiring than I had hoped for.
Michelle and I met through Etsy. She has a shop on Etsy and has only recently plunged into the world of brick and mortar business. As she was getting ready to open, she put out a call out for local artists on one of the Etsy forums and I happened to see it. I looked into her shop, and saw that it was right up my alley. Michelle is an upcycling queen! (or should I say goddess…) She takes vintage furniture and repaints it, using environmentally friendly paint that she has developed herself. Every piece in her shop is unique and beautiful; my personal favorites are the trunks.
Alongside her furniture, my re-purposed fabric pillows fit right in! So we decided to work together. My pillows are sold through the junkyard goddess on consignment. This means that I get paid 60% of the purchase price if and when an item sells. This allows Michelle to stock more of my items, because she doesn’t have to pay my cut upfront. A 60/40 split is very standard in the consignment business, and really comes into play when I price products. If you want to learn more about my pricing, you should read my blog post “Why Are My Prices Changing??”.
And lucky for me I picked a great retailer! Because even though the store just opened, Michelle has already sold several of my pillows! Speaking of opening, the grand opening party was a great success! Michelle knows how to throw a party. Free food, drinks, massages, and entertainment helped to draw a crowd, and we artists set up in the parking lot for a local pop-up shop. My husband snapped a picture of me putting up my booth. With a wild Rattata of course.
If you are disappointed that you didn’t get a chance to go to the grand opening event, don’t worry, there will be another fun event next month! Aug 28th will be a Girls Night Out at the Junkyard. There will be wine, facials, shopping and more for any ladies who might be interested in coming out.
The Junkyard Goddess is an amazing new addition to SoBro! Even though it just opened its doors a few months ago, it has already been nominated for Nuvo’s 2016 Best of Indy in the Best Local Home/Gift Store category. You should most definitely check this Eco-Boutique out in person. And, if you feel like voting, head on over to the Nuvo website to cast your ballot.
If you want to check out Michelle's website, go to www.junkyardgoddess.com and right now, you may see a certain someone featured on the homepage ;)
creative business owner. designer. hoosier. crafter. runner. sewer. swing dancer. outdoor enthusiast. entrepreneur. wife. material hoarder.
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Madeline Stage firstname.lastname@example.org
"Never give up on a dream because of the time it will take to accomplish it. The time will pass anyway."
- Earl Nightingale