Monday, June 27, 2011

Home Economy? Really?

Clearly, the definition of home economy has changed. Some of us learned to sew in the 7th grade, and that was part of a "Home Ec" class. Sewing is now considered by many to be an expensive hobby. Sure, you can save money by making some things, but not necessarily clothing. When did clothing get so cheap, and fabric so expensive? The vision of the dutiful wife and mother, skilled at the sewing machine, clothing her family for pennies, has faded. Furthermore, as a clothing designer/retailer myself, I see that the money it takes to create a finely tailored garment with quality materials far exceeds the cost of a similar mass produced item for sale at discount retail outlets. And we aren't even considering the labor time! So, how does one convince a person (or herself) that a handmade item is worth the cost and effort?

Proverbs 31 refers to the virtuous woman who "procures a supply of wool and flax" and "works with willing hands"(v.13) "puts her hand to the staff with the flax; her fingers hold the spinning rod" (v.19) and "has no fear for her household; since all of them are doubly clothed. She makes her own quilts..."(v.21,22) "She makes linen garments and sells them; she supplies the merchants with sashes." (v.24) How shall we reconcile to modern times this oft quoted scripture, which depicts a respected mother and wife who provides for her own household, the needs of the poor, and also conducts a successful business from home using her own hands to create clothing and quilts?

Scripture is timeless, and unchangeable. God wasn't caught off guard when the economy tanked and the hobby quilters hijacked the fabric industry, driving the prices up, and enticing stores to abandon the aisles of bolts for little piles of fabric squares at inflated prices.

I can still remember when $3 a yard was a lot to pay for fabric, and that wasn't long ago. Now I squeal with glee when I see a tag with that price - until I see how cheap, thin, and off grain it is. Then I usually turn on my heel in disgust....And where is the real linen? Real, 100% wool? And flax....wait....what is flax?

It will take a lot of creativity in these modern times to follow the footsteps of the virtuous woman described in Proverbs; but the scripture is not outdated or irrelevant. Good quality fabric may come from overseas, or take some time and creativity to track down. It may be difficult to find a good price. It will require a skillful eye and a sharp mind to make a profit and a good product. When doing the right thing is difficult or seems futile, that isn't your cue to quit. It's a sign that you need to get smarter. Idle hands (the ones that expect success to be easy and obvious) are the ones that fail.

Sometimes it's important to remember that all is not lost. Overseas factories don't have to overtake the USA in manufacturing, and it isn't time to give up and roll over. They can mass produce what takes me an hour to make. So? Is it quality? NO. Those of us who have seen clothing last for generations know quality. I have a dress hanging in my closet that my grandmother wore in the 1950's. I have worn it, too, and so will my daughter. It doesn't have a "Made in China" tag on it either. Time for handcrafters to stand up for what they do. We don't have to die. We don't have to settle for clothing that falls apart after a few months.

Personally, I'm not listening to the naysayers. I also think arguing with God is pointless.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Danielle Carr - Teddy's Tiny Tutus

Danielle is an accomplished artist who makes and sells cute tutus and accessories as well as valuable tutorials, one of which I own. You can find her shop at

Here is the tutorial I bought - on painting dolls:

Monday, June 13, 2011

Featured Artist - Kim of Umea, Sweden

Kim of Etsy shop ThreeEggs has a wide assortment of handmade children's mobiles and banners, as well as select vintage items. This is one fascinating shop. Take a look!
She shares these fun facts about herself:

01. I am left handed
02. My favourite colour is red, for passion
03. I like to wonder into the forest. Nature is my inspiration
04. I like everything aligned and hate bad typography
05. My favourite flowers are peonies
06. My favourite word is ‘Vintage’
07. I have climbed the Himalayas in Nepal
08. I wish I was taller
09. I enjoy biking, walking and yoga
10. I like to live in a little red house some day
11. I miss home, Melbourne

You can find Kim in the following networks:

Here's a real beauty from her shop!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Featured Artist - Shawna Jones

Today's featured artist is a seamstress, Shawna Jones, from Denton, Maryland and owner of "My Faire Seamstress" on Etsy. Her shop features high quality historical costumes with a Renaissance flair. Her work is immaculate and no detail is overlooked. She is a 27 year old wife and mother. She creates top quality, handmade historical apparel for children. Here is our interview:

A: What led you to open shop on Etsy?

SJ:Being involved in the Renaissance Festival in Maryland every year, after I had my daughter in '09, I noticed there wasn't a strong market for infant and toddler medieval clothing. I couldn't find anything for her that didn't look cheap or made out of polyester in the Halloween section one month out of the year. I have always been into designing and sewing clothing, curtains for my house, gifts for other people, etc. So I designed a dress to fit my daughter her first year at the Renaissance Festival when she was 1. She walked around the Festival for 7 hours with me and had more pictures taken of her in those 7 hours than I did in the 7 years I had been attending in costume. So many people asked me where I bought her outfit that I was seriously regretting not carrying my business cards along with me. It was at the end of the day that I decided to open a costume shop on Etsy to give customers quality clothing that looks rich, historically accurate, and not made out of polyester :)

A: How did you settle on your niche of historic period clothing?

SJ: I have always loved the theater and dressing up as a child. Period movies are timeless and never seem to go out of style. Whether its Anne of Avonlea or Pirates of the Caribbean, the costumes always take people to another time and place. If I could choose an era to live, it would probably be the 1500s; the Tudor era. I am in love with the music, the art and the clothing. I spent a few years making fully boned corsets and large ball gowns before I began making children's clothing. It was only a matter of time after I had my daughter.

A: What are some of the sources of your inspiration?

SJ: Going to the Renaissance Festival is one of the biggest sources of inspiration I glean from. Many people make their own costumes at the Faire and everyone has different ideas of what works for them. I mentally jot down styles or colors I fall in love with and then put them on paper later on (my sketch pad doesn't really go with the gown, ya know). I like to add my own flair to styles I see; make it my own. For everyday brainstorming, I never leave home without my sketch pad. Its always in my purse ready to catch an idea that flits across my eyes.

A: What are the challenges and rewards of having your own business?

SJ: A challenge is trying to meet deadlines with a 20 month old daughter. I do the majority of my sewing with her on my lap. She pushes the automatic needle threader and the thread cutter button when I ask. She is such a blessing to me that its not so much a challenge! Needless to say, I get an equal amount of my sewing done between her naptime and her awake time. The biggest reward I ever got was from an Etsy buyer who sent me an Appreciation Photo of her small, smiling son wearing one of my 4 piece Doublet costumes to the Renaissance Festival. He was having the time of his life being dressed up! The smile says it all. I can't get it out of my mind The happiness of my little customers is why I do what I do.

Visit Shawna's Shop at

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Featured Artist - Kierstyn King of "Constructively Random" on Etsy

Kierstyn King is a 20 year old artist, writer, speaker, designer, coordinator, and wife living in coastal Maine who grew up in Florida and hates winter. Her husband is a web developer so they both work from home. Below is is my interview with the whimsical, folk artist Kiery:

A: What led to you opening a shop on Etsy?

K: I originally opened my shop in the fall of 2009 after moving to Maine (getting married) and freezing because I only had one scarf. I didn't want to pay upwards of $14 for one when I could just crochet some myself for a fraction of the cost. So I thought I'd open up an etsy shop selling affordable handmade scarves. It didn't really take off (I didn't sell anything and I still have a box of them that I'll occasionally tap into for accent pieces) and I got really frustrated with doing the same thing over and over again. So in December of 2009 my husband suggested that I do a drawing a day - because it was something I've always done and he thought I was really good at it, so I started doing that and crocheting.

My drawing really improved over time - a short period of time even. I used to draw and paint a lot when I was younger, and after I got older that side of me was sort of…mocked and art was frowned upon so I shut it down. When I started again, it was like I never stopped. For my birthday in February my mother-in-law gave me a set of prismacolor markers, so I started doing ink drawings, and I actually sold one to a friend of mine in June last year.

Somewhere between June and August I remembered painting. I found one that I had whipped together for my husband back when we were dating, and he loved it. I think finding that again might have triggered something - and my mother in law had a connection with a local artist who did lessons. So I took a few from August to November and picked it up again like I'd been doing it this whole time, and made some really good pieces. I'd shut down my etsy shop for the summer and decided that it would be more fun to start it up again in early 2011 selling paintings. So all of the fall and winter of 2010 I was making an inventory in between illustrating my book. So I worked my tail off and in early February of this year, I re-launched (and re-branded) my shop selling whimsical/fantasy paintings.

A: Where do you get your inspiration to paint?

K: Some of my inspiration comes from what's going on around me - stories I hear and how they make me feel. My "Anonymous Fairies" series are the biggest part of that. Most of my fairy lore comes from disney - the idea that fairies bring changes and have the world on their shoulders, isn't too far from what I (and I think everyone else) feel sometimes. I actually did a post on it here (

Other times it's the way the night feels or the colors that I see. My husband went on a business trip to Oregon and I went along and the sky there is stunning. We were in the desert but near mountains and every time we left the house we were staying at with the rest of the team and their wives we'd have this unbelievable view of the surrounding area, and the night sky was just spectacular - so many shades of blue.

Lately though, as I discover more and more fantasy and sci-fi goodness, I come down with a case of major-fan-girl syndrome and end up making some bits of fan art. Which is why you'll see Battlestar Galactica, Harry Potter, and Doctor Who pieces intermittently. When I start LOTR on audiobooks, I have no doubt I'll be doing something with elvish things.

A: How do you see the world as an artist, and how do you feel you can make a difference in it?

K: The world is complicated - it's full of intricacies and little bits of beautiful and fun things that most people miss because we're so busy just trying to keep our heads above water. I want to bring a little bit of the stuff that we had as kids but miss as adults back - a little bit of wonder, whimsy, and happiness. For me, it's almost backwards - I was consumed with real-life as a child and now I want to know the imaginary. I think so often we lose our imagination as we grow up, or just forget how fun it is to find something that you *really really* like or that moves you. And occasionally we find that, for a moment, and hopefully, that's what I do a little bit of.

A: What are the challenges and rewards you face as a business owner?

Most everything is a challenge for me, I'm learning (slowly) as I go along. I think the biggest challenge, besides making sure that I do *something* creative every day even if it's not necessarily painting - is just finding time for everything.

Which sounds weird, because art *is* my day job - my husband is very supportive of me and my art and he's told me plenty of times that he doesn't want anything to take that away (he's awesome). But it's all the little things that add up - we both want to get into film someday, so we're trying to make a short film over the summer, dishes pile up, cat needs to be fed and taken care of, and I also need to make time for gaming (because it's actually oddly important to me to level to 85 in World of Warcraft and I've been bad about it). Most of the big things take a couple hours of concentration - and painting takes up most of the day, so things can slip or go unnoticed…like the pile of dishes I have in the sink and the script I haven't worked on in a week and a half. Then add keeping everything updated relatively well like Facebook and twitter and my's a lot to balance, but I'm getting there.

I love learning though, and the challenges in themselves are rewarding in their own way. I always feel good after a particularly productive day or when some of my hard work starts to pay off - or when I make a plan and then stick to it and find I still have a little bit of daylight left over.

You can find Kiery on Facebook at Kierywhimsy and follow her blog at
Her etsy shop is

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Featured Seller - Evie's Tool Emporium

Here's a store that will save you time and money! When you need just the right tool, for your project, you don't need to aggravate yourself by trying to find someone knowledgeable at the big TWO, and you know who I mean. Come to Evie's. With years of experience in the tool industry, and solid values in customer service, they are "a cut above." Michelle, owner of Evie's Tool Emporium, has granted me an interview about her shop, which he runs with her husband, Dave, in Bloomington, MN.

A: You definitely have found a popular niche on Etsy. Are you a crafter yourself?
M: Yes, we have found a wonderful niche on Etsy the past 3 years! I don't have nearly enough time to craft as I would like to, however, Dave really enjoys woodworking.

A: Do you have a local business?
M: We had a brick and mortar used and new tool store locally for 6 years. We sold all types of tools from automotive to welding. So many times we would have customers stop in looking for crafting, art and jewelry tools so we added a few to our line. I miss our brick and mortar customers, I don't miss the long days!

A: What are the challenges and rewards that you face as a business owner?
M: Such a serious question! The challenges are few, the rewards are many! I have been in retail since I was 16 and Dave has worked with tools his whole life so between the two of us we have a unique mixture of business skills! We compliment each other very well so that when challenges come along they are usually handled quickly by the one who has the greatest strength in that specific challenge. We share in the rewards equally! We love it when someone is able to find the perfect tool for their application and they share their projects with us!

A: What is the most important thing that you would like people to know about your shop that sets it apart from the competition?
M: The most important thing that sets us apart is our level of expertise with our years of experience. Customer satisifaction is our #1 priority. We are also always looking for new tools that will meet the needs of different customers. If there is a tool someone is looking for we try to find it! There are always new opportunities out there and we are willing to listen to what the market has to say!

Be sure to follow Evie's on her shop's blog
When you are looking for quality products, customer service and selection, shop