Customer focus


The Lowdown on Taxes for Etsy Sellers…

This looks to be a great resource for all of you Etsy sellers in the Cleveland area! A friend of mine from Etsy contacted me recently to pass the word on about this great seminar.

You’ve built a business based on your craft skills, but you definitely don’t want to be crafty with your taxes.

I hope to see a bunch of you there… Free sounds mighty nice! And how can you go wrong with the promise of swag to the early birds?!

The event will be held at the Hilton Garden Inn Cleveland Airport and begins at 7pm! Follow the link to register and read more details.


Oh no!

We overlooked that tonight is the monthly Sewing Happy Hour! We have a scheduling conflict and will have to cancel this evening’s festivities!

 

We were sure to clear the calendar for February’s Sewing Happy Hour on February 7th from 6 – 9pm. Join us then!


Sewing machine purchasing – serious business!

One of the most common questions we get here at Stitch is about the purchase of a new machine – where do you go as a beginner? Cheap… Convenient… Super duper nice with buttons that allow the machine to sew for you while making your morning coffee as well?

We don’t sell machines at Stitch because we just don’t have a favorite brand or type of machine! When we are asked about choosing a machine we usually suggest a few things:

Try it before you buy it! Visiting a dealer is a great way to get your hands (and fabric) on a machine that you can try before making a big purchase. I like to feel the machine. When you start to sew does it hesitate? Does if feel sturdy? I really hate sewing on a lightweight machine that travels across the table while I am trying to work!

Choose a machine that allows you to choose your own stitch length and width. Some machines have presets where you can only choose 3 different stitch lengths or widths. You really want to have more choices then that! Find a machine that allows you to change the settings yourself.

I love a good walking foot! Walking feet vary from machine to machine. Many machines come with them already attached. This is great! Especially if you have the ability to raise and lower it at your discretion. Walking feet help the feed dogs push/pull the fabric through your machine steadily. This is especially important if you are working with fabrics that are stretchy, heavy, or very fine. In straight sewing you may not notice a marked improvement in the stitches, but when the going gets tough you’ll be glad you have this feature! You can purchase an aftermarket walking foot. They are a little more cumbersome then having them already attached but with some practice it will become second nature.

One step buttonholes are awesome! Most new machines have one step buttonholes now. Basically, it allows you to make a no fuss buttonhole without measuring and marking… your machine will measure the button for you up to 1″. One step buttonholes are very even and neat looking. Manual buttonholes (which usually consist of 4 or more steps) are sometimes difficult to create evenly and symmetrically.

Stitch options… know what you need! It can be mind-blowing when a sales person shows you the thousands of stitches that your new machine does! Most of these you will probably never use! Be sure your machine does a zigzag, multiple stretch stitch, and a straight stitch. You should be able to move your needle position from right to left as well… This will come in handy when you are installing zippers!

 

I always advise people to stay away from the cheap stuff. Expect to spend between $200-400 for your first machine. You really do get what you pay for in this situation. Buying a cheap machine can make sewing very frustrating. We have a lot of students who had walked away from sewing because they were frustrated… it is usually their machine’s fault! After you purchase your machine be sure to treat it well. Clean it regularly, have it serviced when it needs some attention… In return, it will treat you well! When you come in to Stitch for lessons, we have lots of machines here for you to try out. After a few lessons you will get a feel for what you like! Trying before you buy will make you a better informed consumer.


Amy and David Butler Rock!

Thanks to everyone that made it over to our place to help us welcome textile designer and power couple, Amy and David Butler. We had an amazing time! We are so appreciative of all of you!

In case you are not aware… The amazing Mrs. Butler is a wonderfully creative textile designer who’s fabrics are a favorite here at Stitch. Mr. Butler’s fabric line, Parson Gray is also becoming quite a hit and can be found at our shop!

Amy and David arrived fashionably late… We teased them about it later saying that they had done so on purpose to create more fanfare. It worked! We were all thrilled to see them! It worked out perfectly because everyone had an opportunity to choose new fabrics and purchase books, magazines, and patterns for Amy and David to sign.

We rocked out to music by David’s band, the Black Owls. They are amazing – give them a listen! He even left us some CD’s… swoon..

The Butlers were so generous with their time. They spoke with each person in line and made an inspiring impression on our younger visitors! Thank you to Amy and David for your time and for being so gracious!

All of the pictures in this post are from Amy’s facebook page… whoa! She posted about us! xo.


Inventory your sewing room 1

For years I’ve been wanting to inventory my sewing room. Patterns, fabric, notions… Everything. It would be great to have a file at my fingertips that I can look through when choosing my next project instead of having to dig through my closets and bins. Also, for those of you who own businesses where you need to purchase fabric and notions, it is necessary to know what purchases you’ve made for the year to appropriately claim them on your taxes at the end of the year.

I figure there are two ways to go about this: physical or digital.

I like the idea of having samples of my fabrics clipped to inventory cards in a physical file that I can look through. I came across one at crafty staci. She even has a free printable for the inventory card available for you to download and some great suggestions on how to put them into action!

If you’re looking for a more ‘at your fingertips’ solution you can try one of the many apps available. I’ve been using one for my iPhone called Sewing Room. It allows you to scan the barcode on all patterns from major pattern companies to enter them into your inventory. A picture pops up along with all the details! You can even enter your own notes. This app also lets you take pictures of each of your fabrics and enter lots of identifying information to accompany it in your digital inventory. You can also make lists of people you’d like to sew for and projects you’re working on! I really like that I can enter in where I bought my items and how much I paid. Don’t worry – even if your pattern collection includes lesser known designers and companies, you can enter them manually and take your own picture! Can you tell I’m excited about this?

I’m really going to work on this project this week… I’ll let you know how it goes! Has anyone else been working on becoming more organized with their sewing?


Beginnings…

 

I’m trying to start small this year.

Usually I bite off [way] more than I can chew at this time of year. My fridge is usually full of  notes reminding me to be consistent with far too many resolutions. This year, I’ve decided to just go with the flow and fit in what I can. I used to promise myself that I’d make time every night to get in some personal sewing and I wake up each morning feeling like I failed because I couldn’t conjure up the motivation after chasing a toddler into bed and folding the laundry. Argh!

I feel pretty good about my progress this year. I find it much more reasonable to have smaller projects handy that don’t take too much brain power! I’ve been knitting and crocheting small projects (tonight I finished a ‘beard hat’ – photos to come tomorrow), I picked up cross stitching again, and I also started sketching more! I think that sometimes I feel like I have to stick to one project until I finish it… Why?! It’s not fun if I have to force myself to do it! Now I have several choices that I can pick up based on my mood!

Here are links to some of the projects I’m working on… Won’t you join me?

Ultimate Bearded Beanie – you’ve probably seen this one already, but I love it! I also did the slouch version by the same designer. The patterns were VERY easy to follow… and I am a pretty basic crocheter… just saying.

Cross stitch. My nephew really likes Ed Hardy. I can’t believe I actually found a cross stitch book based on his work. This was supposed to be a Christmas gift but I chose a very large design, so…

I also really like Subversive Cross Stitch. This needs no explanation.

I pretty much love to sketch anything (one of my latest is pictured here)… still life, fashion, design ideas… But I did find a book that I really liked and purchased it as a gift for a friend. One Drawing a Day gives you prompts to use supplies you’ve never experimented with, location ideas, and inspiration. I also recently picked up some artists’ trading cards at a local craft store. They are 2 1/2″ x 3 1/2″ artists’ papers. Fantastic! Sometimes a huge canvas can be overwhelming. They are just right for my next masterpiece!

 

So what are you hoping to achieve creatively this year? Can you share some ideas for ways to fit art/sewing/creativity into our days?


Thanks to you…

Today a friend of ours posted a quote on Stitch Cleveland’s Facebook wall. It really is a great quote and I wanted to share it again…

When you buy from a boutique or a small business, you are not helping a CEO buy a third vacation home. You are helping a Mom put food on the table, a little girl finally gets those dance lessons or helping a student pay for college. Our customers are our shareholders – and they are the ones we strive to make happy. Thank you for supporting boutiques and small businesses!

Thank you for supporting us for the last 5 years. We hope you’ll join us for a little evening of customer appreciation. We’ll be having an open sew on Tuesday evening from 6-9pm. Come on in and enjoy some sewing company while you finish up your last minute projects or just come to socialize!


Small Business Saturday

Think of 3 local business that you really love, stop in today and say Hi!  These are the places that make your community thrive. I can think of quite a few in the Lakewood area, it’s so nice to see business owners face to face, too, isn’t it?  They go out of their way to take a few minutes to say Hi!  Nice.  Yesterday it was Black Friday, Monday will be Cyper shopping…so, today take time to support your local businesses, you’ll be glad you did!

We hope to be  on your list for today!  We’re offering 15% off fabrics, book and patterns from 10am – noon!!  We’ve just received Amy Butler’s organic cotton fabrics for the Soul Blossom quilt.  Purchase your fabric and get  6 hours of studio time for free!  We also have a nice assortment of indie sewing patterns, trendy sewing books & don’t forget Gift Certificates for all the seamsters on your list!!

 

 

 


Lakewood Criterium Bike Race – look out!

We thought we should warn you – and we should have done so sooner!

Saturday is the Lakewood Criterium:

A Criterium is a popular form of high speed bike racing that showcases not only the speed, agility and power of the cyclists but is also designed to provide corporate sponsors with numerous exposure opportunities. The criterium course is closed to traffic, typically less than a mile in distance and punctuated by sharp corners and speeds of over 30 miles per hour. This is the most exciting of all cycling events.

Sounds exciting, no? I’ve never seen a bike race in person. I’m pretty excited. We’ll be putting some chairs and a water dish for your furry friends on our front porch – stop by and say hello.

Remember, there will be no parking or driving on Detroit Road on Saturday. You can park at St. Peter’s on West Clifton Blvd and take a nice stroll over to Stitch. We’ll be there from 10-4pm! While you are on your way you might as well stop off at Breadsmith for a delicious snack… All of that walking will famish you! (Just kidding – it’s only a few doors down!)

*this is a 1939 invention called a ‘Goofybike’ – seems pretty practical to me!


We, Stitch Cleveland… 1

… Are super excited to have the opportunity to work on the new movie I, Alex Cross that is filming here in Cleveland. 

We’ll be closed for the first week of August for filming. During the second week of August we will be in and out of the shop – give us a call or email before you plan to visit! We can’t wait to tell you about all of our cool adventures and are proud to be a part of this film!

We’ve contacted all of you fantastically understanding students that were scheduled for those weeks and are super grateful that you were happy to reschedule your classes… Thank you! But we also wanted to let everyone else know – just in case you were planning on stopping by! Pop in this week during our normal hours. Please feel free to call to schedule a time to come by if our normal hours don’t work out for you. We want to be sure you have all the fabric you need to get you through the two week hiatus!

Thanks for being loyal Stitchers… and loyal Clevelanders!


Just jump in! 1

We’ve been fielding a lot of questions lately about the kinds of projects a beginner can handle. We think you’ll be surprised at what you can do when you break it down into a step-by-step process. It’s hard to take it one step at a time without looking too far ahead and thinking… I’m never going to be able to make that final product!

Our advice is to throw caution to the wind and start slow! Expect mistakes and don’t be discouraged when things turn out differently then you expected. Sometimes a mistake can be a fantastic design detail!

I’d like to introduce you to one of our beginner students. Elissa came in with some ideas and patterns and didn’t mind starting slow – but we jumped right in anyways! At Stitch, we think you should always work on things that excite you! Why learn to sew on a project you hate? Make it something you’re excited to finish!

In this case, Elissa has 3 kids at home that she wanted to sew for… Her biggest fans! In our first lessons together, Elissa completed a full Twirl skirt for her oldest daughter… She was hooked! After trying out a machine at Stitch, she made an educated decision about purchasing one of her own. By the time she came in for her next lesson she had completed a matching Peasant top! Since then, she has completed another dress for her younger daughter and had plans for starting one for herself… And that was Thursday! Who knows what she’s been up to since then?

Thanks for letting me share your story, Elissa… And the pics of your beautiful daughter!


French Hen Farm

One of our students has been busy sewing and brainstorming new ideas to sell at her sister’s barn. Seems like barns are a really popular thing these days. I’m tempted to  clean out the one I have in my backyard and fill it with cool stuff… good thing I have Stitch Cleveland.

Anyway, thought I’d share with you what Becca’s been up to. She’s been taking lessons at Stitch Cleveland for a few months and has made some really great things… burlap pillows with printed numbers, banners, and totes! She’s been selling her things at French Hen Farm.

We started as sisters from Ohio who got “bit” by the antiquing bug thanks to our parents. Then when we bought a farm in rural Ohio, the whole family got involved. French Hen Farm is the big, red barn surrounded by perennial gardens, an old willow tree, and 100 acres of farmed land. We have semi-annual barn sales featuring everything from antiques, homemade baked goods, recycled, repurposed vintage jewelry, fresh produce, flowers…the list goes on and on. We’d love to see you at the next sale!

I am dying to make my way down there for the next big sale! Hope I see you there!


Local artist: Amy of Little Sprout Baby – Giveaway! 13

Meet Amy… runner, teacher, wife, mom, and sewist! Her sewing business started off as nothing more then a need for a cute hat! With a little guy in tow, she was unable to find anything that made her happy at the store. So she devised a plan to create him a one of a kind hat. That hat turned into 2 hats, turned into 5! The other mommies in her mom’s group started requesting hats for their little sprouts and soon she was in business!

Amy is giving away a great car toy organizer to one of our readers!

There are 2 ways to win… first, check out Little Sprout Baby’s Etsy sight. Then, leave a comment on this post telling us what your favorite item is. To be entered a second time, leave a comment on our Stitch Cleveland Facebook page about Little Sprout Baby also! You can enter until October 15th!

Read on to see more of our interview with Amy…

How did you start sewing as a business?

Well, if I could make hats and mittens, then I could make the other things I couldn’t find in the store too, right? Right. Each new item is a fabulous challenge. The truth is, I’m having so much fun that I’m taking another year of parental leave this school year. Life is funny. I never imagined myself as a stay at home mom with a small business. It’s a grand journey and I’m loving every twist and turn.”

How are you inspired? What gives you ideas for your next creations?

I am inspired mostly by hiccups in daily life. If I have a difficulty along my way, I think, “Hmmmm . . . I could make this and life could be a bit easier.” Currently I’m fashioning a sun shade for the front of my jogging stroller. The poor little guy gets blasted by the sun in the AM. Gorgeous fabric also inspires me. Amy Butler and Michael Miller fabric just speak to me sometimes. The other day, Michael Miller’s Edgy Veggie told me to make reusable sandwich bags.

What are your favorite things to sew?

My favorite things to sew are things for babies. I can unleash my creativity and have fun. A plain backpack becomes a baby backpack that looks like an owl. It makes me giggle and happy. The items I like the least to sew are purse straps. I’m very picky about my purse straps and that requires lots of interfacing, pressing, edge sewing, on and on. Tedious stuff, those straps but you have to do it.

Etsy is a super popular crafter’s website… How did you get started there?

I started on Etsy because I made my own infant mitten pattern and I thought I’d try to sell it. I then started adding things that I was making for Local Girl [a fabulous gallery showcasing local art], friends, family, and moms from my support group. It was very blurry and confusing until recently when I broke my store into two stores. One is for adults (purses, yoga mat bags, laptop sleeves, etc) and one for babies. This change has focused me and I feel less like I’m having an identity crisis and confusing my clients.

Do you sell your work on other sites?

I don’t sell on other sites but I have items at Local Girl and sell at artisan shows such as Hessler Street Fair, the Coventry Art Fair, and LEAF Night.

You seem like a busy lady, yet you find time to do what you love! Do you have any advice for other people looking to make their hobby into their living?

Finding time to craft when I have a baby is very hard. It is hard to maintain a balance between sewing and my commitment to stay at home with my baby. It’s a struggle nearly every day. The most important thing is that I nap when the baby naps. Still and he’s 18 months. I cannot work while he’s napping and not have the energy and patience I need for him. That said, I craft in small pockets of time. It’s slow and messy because I have to start and stop based on the mood of my son.

My advice is to find your thing. Your thing is the thing that others don’t make, the thing you like to make, and the thing that resonates with others. It’s so hard to find that thing. Once you find it, try to make that your bread and butter product. I think I finally found my thing after ten months. No one else sells anything like my car toy organizers on Etsy. There was a lot of joy, pain and self-doubt along the way. Until you find your thing, just jump in and enjoy where the ride takes you.

Thanks for sharing your work and advice with us, Amy! It’s always nice to hear from other artists and designers!


Barber Shop Rock

Call Bryan over at Barber Shop Rock at 216.712.7005. You'd better tell him we said hey.

One of our friends just opened a great place to get your hair did… Barber Shop Rock. Found on the east side of Lakewood, this cool place is full of fun stylists and great ideas. Talk about inspiration! These hair ‘designers’ can give you great ideas for your head. So, after you come to Stitch to get your clothes all in order… go over to Barber Shop Rock to complete the look! I’m heading over there for a new color at the end of the month… I’m thinking pink.


The interfacing dilemma… 1

this bodice, being draped by one of our students, is going to be interfaced. the interfacing will supply much of the body for this garment.

We get a lot of questions about interfacing from our students and customers. What kind? What color? Fusible or sew-in? Wow, so many choices, which do you pick?

Interfacing can be tricky but once you get the hang of its main functions you can use it to your advantage. The purpose of interfacing is to give a fabric more body and stability. You can find interfacing in collars, cuffs, plackets, and even in bags and purses. It is often the unsung hero of a sewing project. The right interfacing can really emphasis a garment and give it life and structure. No interfacing can leave a garment limp and looking unprofessional.

Let’s start with sew-in vs. fusible. Fusible interfacing used to be a big no-no. However, years ago it started to become acceptable to use in the fashion industry. I’ve heard people say that they feel like they are cheating when they use fusible interfacing… no worries, you aren’t. There are some clear benefits to using fusible interfacing instead of sew-in. For one, it is so much easier! Sew-in interfacing has to be cut and then stitched to each fabric piece that needs to be interfaced. This can be tricky because the fabric and interfacing shift easily under the machine, causing puckers and pulling. Ugly.

Fusible interfacing is cut and then ironed on to the backside of the corresponding fabric piece. Easy peasy. No worries about puckers or pulling. The remaining sewing is done as though the interfacing isn’t even there! Once the glue is activated, the fusible interfacing also offers a crisper finished product then the sew-in interfacing. Fusible interfacing is a Stitch Cleveland favorite… in case your wondering!

After your initial choice between sew-in or fusible, you’ll choose wether you want woven or non-woven. Woven interfacing is simply fibers woven into an interfacing fabric. A non-woven interfacing is made by fibers being bonded together to create a “fabric.” Non-woven interfacing has no grainline, it does not shrink, and it does not unravel. Woven interfacing will need to be pre-washed in the same manner as your finished garment to remove any shrinkage. Woven interfacing is not as heavy as non-woven, which comes in more weights (more about that later). I use woven interfacing whenever the weight is appropriate for my fabric type. I feel like the flex of the woven fabric relates better to my woven fashion fabric.

The last thing you’ll need to consider is weight. Interfacing comes in a few different weights that are acceptable for a range of different fabrics. The bolt of interfacing usually describes it’s weight by saying lightweight, midweight, or heavyweight. I find that description to be utterly useless! To help me choose the appropriate weight of interfacing, I take a sample of my fabric along to compare it with the available interfacings. Generally, you’ll want your interfacing to be similar or lighter in weight then your garment fabric. This will give your fabric a nice amount of body without stiffening it so much that the use of interfacing is obvious.

There is an exception to the rule of choosing interfacings that are lighter in weight then your fabric. If you are trying to change the properties of your fabric you can choose a heavy interfacing. For example, if you want to make a bag out of a fabric that is a little light or maybe is not very stiff, you can use a heavy interfacing to change it’s weight. The heavy interfacing bonded with the lighter fabric will create a heavier result. When in doubt, try it out!

I don’t often find that I need interfacing when working with knit fabrics. However, when I do I make sure to use knit interfacing. I believe that Fusi-knit is the most widely available. There are not many choices when it comes to knit interfacings. Black or white, fusible or non-fusible. You can choose based on the above information.

Generally speaking, I have found that lightweight fusible woven interfacing has been my standard go-to. I stock up during a sale or use a coupon. It’s one of those staples that I know I’ll always use.


Buy fabric, get fabric!

Who doesn’t love free stuff? In honor of National Sewing Month we’ll be doing some giveaways! This week with your purchase of at least 1 yard of fabric you’ll be entered into a drawing to win a yard of laminated fabric of your choice. Stop in today through Thursday, September 16th to enter!

P.S. We’ll enter you a second time if you log onto our facebook page and leave a comment telling us what you would make with your winnings! I kind of like this coat pattern from Favorite Things… what do you think? It would be nice out of the laminate with a home dec weight lining, no?


Holy craft, Batman.

Tomorrow River Colors and Blackbird Bakery will be hosting the Cleveland Craft Coalition. This is a great group of Cleveland crafters that work hard for their craft! The Coalition will be highlighting 21 of their crafters during this afternoon event. Sounds like it’ll be fun!

The Cleveland Craft Coalition is not your typical craft bazaar. Why? Because there are plenty of those and we want to offer something edgier. We recognize value in all forms of craft and art, but we wish to highlight the crafters and artists on the fringe.

Will we still work with lace and dolls and jewelry and needlework? Hell, yeah! That lace will simply be attached to a kick-ass apron that you’ll wear while baking from your vegan cookbook, those dolls will have horns & may be chewing on a bone, that jewelry will have an eastern Asian influence or resemble tattoo work, and that needlework potholder may cuss at you.


Stop by and buy some stuff from someone local. The show runs from 12 – 6pm on Saturday the 17th at the corner of Sloane and Detroit (our old place). I’m looking forward to ending my diet – both yarn (at River Colors) and regular (at Blackbird), as well as getting my Tarot cards read by PJ at Harmonizing Energy, a good friend and student of Stitch Cleveland and fellow Cleveland crafter!

Etsy Craft party… you know you wanna come!

Etsy Craft Party is a global initiative to energize your local community, make art together, and throw a party in your neck of the woods. We want to celebrate crafting together on June 18, 2010 (which just happens to be Etsy’s birthday) with as many celebrations across the globe as possible.

Help us celebrate Etsy and stop by for our bash! We’ll have some demos (paintsticks, stenciling, and patchwork artists’ canvases), some snacks, and some fun. If you are an Etsy-ite come in and share your craft… it’s a great way to broaden your customer base and get familiar with some other local Etsy artists!

If you’ve always wanted to check out Etsy but have been too nervous to jump in and create your own site, use this opportunity as a creativity boost! Over the years we’ve heard a lot of questions and hesitation regarding Etsy… why not get some advice from Etsy artists in our area and a little bit of moral support?

Let’s celebrate our community’s creativity together! June 18th from 6 – 8pm… be there!