Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Costume Time ~or~ my life as a seamstress

My mother taught me the basics of sewing when I was about 8. I was a perfectionist, and spent more time ripping out stitches than putting them in...
When I got to college I had to take a costuming class for my major. Apparently my mother was worried about me because I'd struggled so much as a kid, but I loved the class and completed it with 104% (yes, I did extra credit!). I went straight from that to being employed in the college theatre department's costume shop.
I worked in the costume shop for the majority of my college career. Costuming is a unique branch of sewing because we routinely worked with everything from silks and velvets to leather and vinyl. We even made a corset of duct tape once. Those experiences gave the the confidence to take on new materials, so when I started making diapers with all kinds of new fabrics I was able to jump in with both feet and go full speed ahead!
I learned to take someone's measurements from a page and translate them to a pattern--altering or combining patterns to create the picture that the designer had given us. That experience is the most valuable of my sewing career.
I've clothed Jane Eyre and Shakespeare's Petruchio. I've sewn renaissance faire garb and elfin gowns. I've created conquistador's armor, priest's robes, English sport jackets, and Scottish kilts. I've also sewn several formals and wedding gowns (including my own), which are not so very different from costumes if you think about it.

(a gown I made for "Jekyll & Hyde")

I still love costuming. I'm no longer employed in that field, but every Halloween I get the chance to make costumes for my husband and kids. Two years ago my 6-year-old wanted to be a red dragon with scales and spikes on his back and 4 horns across his forehead: he designed the costume and I made it a reality. This year I'm clothing a ninja, a wizard, and the x-man Wolverine. I can't wait to see what the future holds!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Real Diaper Week...just two days left!

Real Diaper Week is still going on, but there are only a couple of days left!
September 29 (monday) is the last day to save 10% on any of my diapering products, and get free shipping on any order over $30. Any custom orders made during this time will get the discount as well, so what are you waiting for?! Come on over to LilBees and see what I've got!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

This is why...

...I no longer use woven, DIY, or printed PUL.

You can clearly see the line where the edge of the velcro was--the fabric has faded badly. Also the material itself has worn through at this minor stress point (where it was sewn) leaving the bare laminate exposed. The points of harder stress (the corners and edges) were worse.
This diaper was only used for about 9 months, washed about twice a week during that time. So that's somewhere around 80 washings...other diapers I made at the same time and have washed the same way are in MUCH better shape. It's the fabric.

This is why I stick to solid colors and factory-issued PUL. It may not be quite as cute, but it will last much, much longer!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Real Diaper Week

The Etsy Cloth Diapers street team is at it again! This time we are hosting Real Diaper Week, and our goal is to help bring real diapers to a baby's bottom near you!
Each participating shop has something different to offer, but some of the promotional listings include:

  • Multi-diaper packs at discounted prices
  • Easy to use diapers that are 'just like sposies'
  • Getting started packs (with everything you need to get started!)
  • Variety packs (so you can try out a little of everything and figure out what you like)
  • Cloth diapering travel packs with wetbags and wipes
  • Sew-Them-Yourself kits (with the pattern & instructions to make your own cloth diapers, plus the materials for your first diaper!)
Real Diaper week runs September 19-29 (yes, it's a long week--it includes both weekends!) and all the details about who is participating will be available on the team blog on September 18th. Come, visit, shop, tell your friends, and most of all, give your baby real diapers!

This promotion coincides with our new series of posts of information about cloth diapering. Many members of the team are writing the posts, and we hope that our combined knowledge and experience will be helpful for our readers. If there is a topic you would particularly like to see covered, please leave us a com

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Now accepting google checkout!

There are a lot of people out there who don't like paypal and are seeking other options for making online payments. For this reason, I am pleased to announce that both LilBees and BrightBlack are now accepting payments via Google Checkout!
If you wish to pay via google checkout, please select 'other' in the payment options, and then give me your email address in the notes to seller, and I will send you an invoice.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Choosing a Username

I was one of many new etsians who made the mistake of choosing a bad username. After a year of bumbling about with it, I finally had the sense to make a clean break and pick a better username...in doing so I gave up 48 points of positive feedback...but it's worth it to have a shop name that people can actually remember.

The Storque on Etsy has an excellent article here about choosing a good username. If you are serious about etsy, I definitely recommend reading it. But I'll repeat the high points with examples from my own experience.

Your username will be your shop address.
This is the big secret that I didn't know when I first joined etsy. Don't pick Wanda416 just because your name is Wanda and your birthday is April 16. It may be easy for you to remember, but nobody else is going to remember www.wanda416.etsy.com. I mean really, would you? So pick something memorable. (If you've already picked something not memorable, seriously consider making a new account and deleting the old one. I think it was well worth it)

So, now, what to use for the actual name? Well, once it's picked you can't change it, so think about a few things:

  • What kinds of items will you be selling?
  • Who is your target market?
  • Do you think your items or market might change?
I chose 'lilbees' because I wanted to sell cloth diapers and other baby stuff. "Bee" has long been a nickname for me, due to B being my last initial. I figured little bees would indicate children, but still be generic enough that I could have several types of items. If I'd chosen a name like "TheDiaperBee" I would have been pretty limited. Even so, I ended up broadening my scope and carrying menstrual products aka mama cloth, so now my banner says "everything you need for your lil bee...and for you."
I later opened a second shop, BrightBlack...I wanted something that sounded classy and broke away from the cuteness and child-oriented direction of lilbees. In that shop I carry boutique-quality Christmas items, as well as hand-knitting and other more 'grown up' sorts of things. I thought that the people who are shopping for Christmas Tree Skirts probably don't want to sift through the cloth pads and baby blankets, and visa versa, so I felt that having two shops was a better option. Of course, judicious use of the 'sections' feature means that you can carry a wide varity of items in one shop, so long as you're not feeling limited by your username! (More about sections in a future post!)

Be aware that if you choose to have more than one shop, each shop needs to link to the other so that shoppers are aware. This is an official etsy policy.

If there is a topic you'd like me to post tips about, please leave a comment! I have a dozen posts in mind and am writing them in no particular order, so let me know what you'd like to hear about and I'll write that one next!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Velour has arrived!

Autumn Joy Diaper duo with velour inners"Autumn Joy" Diaper Duo
because how could autumn be anything BUT joyful with velour on your little ones bum?!

Velour has recently become a popular diaper fabric, so I decided to try it out. WOW! It is so soft, I just want to sit and snuggle with it all day. It does not wick or 'stay dry' like microfleece does, but because of the pile (the fuzz) it does leave skin feeling dry, which is nearly the same! Furthermore, it remains soft through many washings--not many fabrics do that!
I have recently gotten in several colors of velour, and am starting to stock velour-inner AIOs and fitted diapers, as well as velour-topped menstrual pads (and postpartum pads) at LilBees.
Come check them out!pink diaper with lavender velour inner

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Making an Etsy Mini

Having an etsy shop (or two!) is a lot of fun, but it is still a business...and the way you name it, set it up, and run it will all affect sales. When I started out I knew next to nothing...over the years I have learned so many things from so many people and places that I have decided to try to share it in one place. Hopefully this will be helpful for other etsians.

An Etsy Mini? What's that? Oh, it's that little thing there on the sidebar--it's a widgit that shows what's currently in my shop. Yes, it automatically updates to match my current listed items. Yes, each item's photo is linked directly to that listing, and yes, my shop name there at the bottom of the widgit links to my shop. I can also set it up to have large or small photos, and can choose from 1-5 rows and 1-5 columns. In other words, I can completely customize it to fit wherever I want to put it. (Please note that you can't select which items, just how many. The widgit will automatically take the top items from your shop/favorites.)
To create your own etsy mini, log into your account, and select "your etsy." At the very bottom of the right-side menu, there is a section called "Promote" and the last entry in that section is "Etsy Mini."
Once there, you will have several choices: whether to show objects from your shop or from your favorites, whether to show thumbnail or gallery size photos, and how many columns and rows to use. As you make your selections, a preview of your mini will show up below. Once you have selected your preferences, scroll down and you will have the option of 'javascript' or 'flash' script for your mini. Just copy and paste the appropriate text and put it where you want the mini to appear. (It says that the javascript will work for blogs, but I have had problems with it, so I always use the flash).
To put the mini in the text of a post (on blogger at least)--click the tab to switch to 'edit html' and then just paste the script. If you switch back to 'compose' mode or look at the post preview, it will not show your full mini, but the script is there, and it will show when you publish the post.
To put the mini on a sidebar, do 'add gadget' and then use the 'html text' option. Be sure you select a mini size that will fit within the width of your sidebar! (default sidebars are usually 220px wide)
Here are a couple of samples:

large (gallery) photos, 2 columns, 1 row, from my shop

Etsy: Your place to buy & sell all things handmade

small (thumbnail) photos, 4 columns, 2 rows, from my favorites

Buy Handmade

Etsy Mini's can also be posted on social networking sites such as myspace. So far as I know facebook does not accept the script, but it does have an application of its own which will show photos from your listed items...it does not update very well though. I have had trouble with it.

Monday, September 1, 2008

And the winner is...

The winner of the cloth pantyliner set offered here is...
# 11!
(chosen by the random number generator here)
That's T (monkeyscience). Lucky you, I guess that dream paid off!

Thank you to everyone who participated in the drawing! I plan to do others in the future, so I hope you continue to visit here and tell your friends about it too.

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