A Fashionable Stitch » sartorial sewing

Behind the Seams | Fashion Icon Challenge

Today, I thought I would answer a few questions I received about my green jacket that I made for Project Sewn. But first. Wow! Hasn’t this week been ahhh. mazing? I have to say I think everyone outdid themselves. It’s been really really fantastic. So much variety and it was exciting. Forget mind being blown, my brain was blown. Ladies, I bow (and wink) to your creativity and inspiration. Hey now, don’t forget – you can still vote for your favorite until tonight! If you haven’t already, be sure to hop on over and snag your favorite make.

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OK, this green with envy jacket. Someone asked about rub-off’s. What’s that? A rub-off is creating a pattern from an existing piece of clothing. This usually involves not harming the original garment. You guys, I’m BIG into doing this. I do it alot because my original garment already fits me the way I want it too and boom, you’ve made a pattern and then you can make dozens of your favorite garment with different twists, details and such. It’s killer diller. You can find more information on doing this sort of thing from the following resources:

  • Patternmaking for a perfect fit by Steffani Lincecum – this little underated and not talked about enough book walks you through how to do this. Love it.
  • Steffani also has a Craftsy class on this very subject. Also a worthy investment because you can watch someone doing it.
  • Kenneth King’s Jeanius class on Craftsy and also this class on Pattern Review are both about his approach to doing this. You’ll find that there are several methods for creating a rub-off and all are worth knowing about. They come in handy at different times.

Hopefully this gives you some ideas for how to do this. It’s very addictive and well worth knowing how to do.

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Did I match the plaids on the texturized wool? Funny you should ask because yes, I did. These types of details are important to me, especially now that I understand how it works on a jacket. It’s worth the effort to me here and I also did want to see if it really made that big of a difference in a plaid that was more subtle and textural than anything else. Probably not all that noticeable, but it’s still a nice touch.

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Was the waist cincher apart of the original garment? Yes, it was. You guys, this is such an ingenious way to make a boxy jacket look fitted. I love this on my original jacket (scroll down for that). I definitely see more waist cinchers on my jackets in the future. Plus they are cute. There’s a myriad of ways that you could do this detail and each time have it look different.

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The jacket has three main body pieces. This made it kind of cinchy to match the plaids. The pieces are a jacket front, jacket side and jacket back. The side combines both princess seams from the front and back into one.

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And now, here’s the original jacket. By the way, this thing is pretty old. From my college days when I worked in an expensive clothing store. It’s held up well. Except for the lining which I took apart and redid this year. Now it has my favorite lining tricks, including silk sleeves and rayon bemberg lining in the body. Still wearable for years to come.

Hope you enjoyed!

  • Chris - I loved everything about your outfit yesterday. I make a lot of things using a rub-off to start – it really takes the guesswork out of whether something will fit right. I have the book you mention and have recommended it to friends. I’m pretty sure Claire Shaffers book ‘ Couture sewing techniques’ covers a rub-off of a skirt too. Best of luck with project sewn:)ReplyCancel

  • Jenny - So beautiful! I’ve done a tiny-tiny version of this on my winter coat in progress, by copying off the collar of an existing coat which is really cool and unique. So far it’s worked! But I’d love to learn how to do a full copy in the future.

    By the way, I’d love to see a posting on all your lining tricks!ReplyCancel

  • zeddie - This is a very interesting design/construction as I don’t think I have seen a jacket with a side armhole princess seam without front darts (either bust or waist). Sometimes, if the princess seam is more to the front, there won’t be darts in the front but here the side piece is really off to the side and doesn’t have darts.ReplyCancel

  • Sunni - @zeddie – exactly! I noticed the same thing. And yet, the jacket isn’t completely boxy, it still has shape. And in only 3 pieces! I was super excited to get a pattern from this jacket.ReplyCancel

  • Becky - Well, you may have sold me on rub offs. My very favorite jacket is a thrift store herringbone wool that has an inset belt detail in the back, like an Eisenhower jacket, know what I mean? It is so flattering, comfortable, and darn cute. I get compliments on it every time I wear it. I have not seen a pattern with this detail. I really think this detail fits my style. I even like it in a robe – no more hunting for that dang belt! I guess I will have to add this to my list of must learns. I think this jacket is just gorgeous. It really is a beautiful pairing of fabric and pattern, both of which are perfect for you.ReplyCancel

  • Ginger - I looooove this jacket! Thanks for giving me a closer look! Love the waist cincher detail- how awesome! I have a mid-’60′s dress pattern for a shift dress that includes a waist cinch/belt thing- there are buttons attached to the body of the dress, then you make a little rectangle with buttonholes on either end and button on. The rectangle’s a little narrower than the dress, so it gathers in the back. Older clothes tend to have fun details that are missing from cheap modern clothing!ReplyCancel

  • Alida - LOVE the waist cincher. I may have to add that to every blazer I ever make. GENIUS.ReplyCancel

  • Maddie - I totally agree that rubbing off a pattern is a very effective way to get a pattern that fits. It’s also good for bra making because there many many patterns available.ReplyCancel

  • RobinD - I just love this cheerful green jacket – especially with your coloring.
    The matching plaids are nice, too!ReplyCancel

  • futuralon - As rub off means something entirely different in my home country of Australia, I like to think of it as reverse engineering. The first thing I reverse engineered was a bias cut nightgown/slip. I had no idea how to draft for bias so tracing the seams of a lovely Natori garment was a quick and dirty solution. A handy technique, to be sure.ReplyCancel

  • Siri - I just love this bold jacket, and seeing the original I totally understand why you rubbed it off! Such a gorgeous shape. And the details are great. I really want to sew a jacket now :) ReplyCancel

  • Norma Gordon - Great Jacket.Sunni I thought the fabric was beautiful. Do you know of a pattern like this that is available. Or, maybe you should make patterns of the jacket for sale.ReplyCancel

  • Sunni - @futuralon – I also think that Kenneth King calls it that, which is probably much more “socially acceptable.” ha ha!

    @Norma Gordon – Thank you Norma! I will say that I have looked into producing patterns before and its a lot of work. Unfortunately I probably won’t be doing that anytime soon and sadly, its one of those styles that I’ve never seen in a commercial pattern before. So so sad, because it totally needs to be a pattern!ReplyCancel

  • Camilla - I’ve got Pattern making for a perfect fit and have used it to make a rub off of an A-line mini. I’ve not tried it on anything as ambitious as a jacket yet. Your jacket is gorgeous, I’m a big fan of green.ReplyCancel

  • Tiffany - What a beautiful jacket! I only wish I had a jacket that I loved enough to copy.ReplyCancel

  • sheseams - Oh thank you for the cincher idea, it would also be helpful if you lost weight, you could adjust it for a better fit. :-) ReplyCancel

  • Serac - Love that jacket! I am glad you matched the plaids even if it is very subtle. Those kinds of details really make handmade pieces special. Very beautiful.ReplyCancel

  • Becky Thompson - I am enrolled in both of those classes on Craftsy (Stephanie’s & Jeanious). I used Stephanie’s technique the other day when my son asked me to make him a shirt just like the one he has from Old Navy but to make it longer. He liked many of the design elements of the shirt so finding a pattern would be hard to duplicate. He’s 6’8″ and ALL shirts are way to short for him. Knowing how to do a rub-off makes this easy.ReplyCancel

  • dapper » A Fashionable Stitch - […] and this jacket is definitely no different. This is the original jacket from challenge #1 – my green jacket there being an exact replica of this one. My love for this thing knows no bounds. It will […]ReplyCancel

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This is my first entry into the Project Sewn competition. The theme for this particular week was fashion icon. I mulled over this one for a whole month, not knowing what to do and finally, when I did start sewing, things took their own turn. A turn, I’m happy to say, ended up working. I chose Katharine Hepburn as my icon and before you say, “You’re outfit doesn’t look anything like Katharine Hepburn,” let me explain. I chose Katharine because of her tendency to sport menswear and its one that I’ve found myself favoring a lot in the past year or so (ever since the pixie cut). I look good in masculine type cuts, yet with lots of splashes of femininity. This ensemble? Case in point.

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The opportunity to create a small mini wardrobe from this competition has been soooooooooooo fun. One of those “aha” moments where you finally get the point of what it means to create a wardrobe – that’s what its been like for me. This first entry incorporates so many details that are well, so much apart of my daily uniform. Pants/trousers (a must for a gal on the go like me), one hell of a jacket and a lovely little top. I’m finding more and more that jackets are my thing. Good gravy, I love a good jacket! I created a rub-off pattern from my favorite jacket of all time for this one! For the most part, since this was the first time making up the pattern, I opted to go with the details of the original jacket. Except the pocket – had to do something a little bit different there and I added bound buttonholes. The interesting thing about this jacket is that the body is comprised of 3 main pieces – jacket front, side and back whereas usually most jackets are comprised of more pieces. The fit is perfect for me, the whole reason I rubbed off a pattern from the original. PERFECT! The jacket was fusibly tailored and took a good chunk of my time frame, but I’m so happy with it I could shout for joy, which is exactly what I did! I also have to add that this green texturized wool – it loved being tailored. Seriously, loved it. Ate it up. Did exactly what I wanted it to do and the best part – you can still get it here.

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The pants are my Burda 7447 (sadly out of print now, AAACCKKK!). A TNT (tried and true pattern). I made a few more tweaks from the last time I made it – admittedly, it takes a few times to get all the kinks out of a pattern. Love these though. Made from a plain weave navy wool suiting from my shop. This wool has some pretty lovely drape and they look so nice as pants. So nice. I realized something about pants and me and this is good because I’ve needed to realize this for some time now. Originally, I was planning to knock off Katharine Hepburn’s wide legged men’s trousers. I created a pattern from my TNT and I’m finally coming to the realization that I really really don’t like the way wide legged trousers look on me (or it could be that I just haven’t found a pattern that I feel flatters me). I don’t look long and lean and swanky. I look doudy and frumpy and blah. I have stumpy legs. I’ve always known this. And tapered (yes, I just typed tapered!) trousers look good on me. Oh. my. goodness. Did I just admit that my mom’s 80′s trousers look good on me? Why yes. Yes I did. Fully lined in bemberg rayon, these lovelies are pretty much pj’s to wear. Sigh.

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My top is just a simple shell made from Newlook 6483 and tops are well, a new thing that I really need to get in the habit of making more of. I don’t have enough tops and I don’t make enough tops. And there is a huge, deep and dark void in my closet and if I’m honest, a good portion of my wardrobe doesn’t get worn because I have no tops to go with the things I make. The interesting part about this top is that it was the hardest part of this particular outfit. I don’t know about you, but bias bound edges are not my friend. Oh my gosh! I hate bias binding so much (at least when done in silk charmeuse)! However, the top really does complete this outfit giving it instant fun and color. Pulls the whole thing together in a pretty brilliant way. I used a silk crepe from Mood and underlined the blouse and bias bound the neckline and armholes in silk charmeuse from my shop.

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Don’t know if you noticed, but in the past year I didn’t share a lot of makes. I was doing a lot of soul searching and finding a style that captures my personality. Sure it’s not original, but this look gives you a much more…. authentic representation of myself than I’ve ever really given here before. Knowing what looks good on me, what feels good on me and how I like to express my personality through my dress has been a real eye opening experience in the past year. And that, in and of itself, really feels good. I’ve loved where this journey is taking me.

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Now, hop on over to Project Sewn and vote for your favorite creation – and I do mean favorite, because you know, my creation may not be your favorite and that’s A. OK. I’m just loving the challenge to create a fresh wardrobe of things that I’ll actually wear, on a daily basis. However, this is not to say that I wouldn’t love your vote, because I really, really would. Enjoy friends. Now off to put the finishing touches on something pink!

  • Christine - I love this and your comments on style which I really relate toReplyCancel

  • T - I adore this colour and pattern combo. Definitely won my vote for round one!ReplyCancel

  • Nicki - You look amazing! The green of that jacket is just so delicious, and I love the whole look. Best of luck!ReplyCancel

  • Annika - You look great! This blazer is just wow!ReplyCancel

  • Karen - That jacket is so perfect for you! The fit is really flattering, yet it looks comfortable. And I love the color! Good luck!ReplyCancel

  • Heather Lou - This is perfection Sunni. It really is SO flattering and chic. Isn’t personal style idiosyncratic? Your outfit would look TERRIBLE on me (tapered is not my friend) but its so flattering and exactly “You”.ReplyCancel

  • Jenny - Totally inspirational!ReplyCancel

  • Jan - Love your outfit. It is perfect for you. Nice job…..it inspires me to sew more :) ReplyCancel

  • oonaballoona - that green on you is THE BOMB. just delicious!!!ReplyCancel

  • Kelly - Gorgeous!! I love everything about this entire outfit. You make such beautiful clothes!ReplyCancel

  • Kate McIvor - Great job channeling Katharine Hepburn. She is one of my style icons as well. Your take is so modern, so YOU!ReplyCancel

  • Laura - Behind the Hedgerow - Oh, how I adore this ensemble! You’ve done a stunning job and I love hearing about your journey of your style discovery. Can’t wait to check out that ‘something pink’!ReplyCancel

  • Diane @ Vintage Zest - Love the ensemble, and I’m totally with you on not sewing enough tops!ReplyCancel

  • Ginger - This looks amazing! You girls are really bringing the heat! I’m so excited for the rest of the challenges- can’t wait to see what else you come up with! Seriously, awesome job!ReplyCancel

  • Tasia - This is really beautiful, it’s playful and fun and captures your personality so well! I love it. It’s wonderful that you’ve been thinking about the styles that suit you best. I love the mix of colourful fabrics in conservative styles. Very nice!ReplyCancel

  • Ericka - Your outfit pops! It all comes together nicely and I agree the blouse pulls it all together a fun but polished way.ReplyCancel

  • Elle - You are like the Blazer Queen. This one is gorgeous. I totally relate to your thoughts about personal style…I, like you and so many others, have fallen prey to making things for myself which aren’t my style or which I never wear. If it makes you feel any better, I think there aren’t many people besides Katharine Hepburn herself who would look as great as she does in those giant flared trousers.ReplyCancel

  • maddie - Sunni, you are a queen. What better woman to represent than Katharine Hepburn. She was not only gorgeous, but strong. Not strong physically, but a strong woman!ReplyCancel

  • MarrieB - Your jackets are always amazing, and this one is such a stunner! And the tapered trousers do look great on you! :) ReplyCancel

  • Rox - Wow! So much hard work and it shows! It all adds up to an amazing outfit that looks distinctively YOU. And that jacket. DON’T. EVEN. GET. ME. STARTED. It’s bananas!ReplyCancel

  • crystalpleats - You look so great, Sunni. Love that you’re finding your style and that we get to see some new makes from you. I always love your color mixing.ReplyCancel

  • Alida Makes - I love that you chose Katharine Hepburn! Your coat is amazing, I want one exactly like it. You really knocked it out of the park!ReplyCancel

  • zeddie - I love the blazer! You wrote that the jacket has three pieces: front, side front, and back. I would love to see the back in more detail (and the side front – I’m assuming it’s an armhole princess seam). Did the original jacket have the same closure at the back or was that your own idea?ReplyCancel

  • Mary Danielson - Wow. Sunni, that jacket is absolutely stunning and the whole outfit evokes a modern Katharine Hepburn vibe. You look smashing! Good luck in Project Sewn!ReplyCancel

  • Lu - I LOVE this outfit! I just cut my hair into a pixie cut too and I agree – I’m all about masculine collars, pants and ties at the moment. So much fun! Good luck with Project Sewn :) ReplyCancel

  • Julia Bobbin - Lady you are flawless! Just amazing work and such beautiful styling. I love everything about this look. Well done!ReplyCancel

  • Sheseams - Wonderful fabric and lining color choices. It is nice when you know your own style, even nicer when you can express it creatively.ReplyCancel

  • Miss Demeanour - Oh doll I see what you mean about finding a representation of your style. This just sings you :) That jacket is so beautiful and the colour just pops. Massive well done.ReplyCancel

  • Becky Thompson - Great job! I SO envy your skills and most of all your opportunity to be around fashion fabric. You did amazing work on that jacket and pants scare…well, scare the pants off me! And so true about personal style. The 19 y/o sales clerk snickered as I plopped my mom-pants-high-waisted, plain pockets, Wranglers on the check out counter. They fit perfect, envelope any waist rolls into the waist/hip, and don’t have loud pocket stitching to draw the eye to you-know-where. But now that I’m 50? I owned it! I said, “Mom-pants. (grin) But I’d NEVER wear anything to draw attention to my tush or give me a muffin top!”…(as I looked at hers in her ill-fitting $90 MissMe’s). HAReplyCancel

  • Gail - Love the mix of colours and texture here. The pockets and back detailing on the jacket give it an extra edge.ReplyCancel

  • Shona - Just to say, I didn’t vote for you but it was such a close thing and I am second guessing myself right now. Love it love it love it love it. So well done, you must be feeling so proud.ReplyCancel

  • lisa g - i love the outfit you’ve pulled together here. these wearable pieces are far from boring, but still practical. the green color looks divine on you… such a great color palate!ReplyCancel

  • Christine - Very cool and very wearable! Very well done!ReplyCancel

  • Paunnet - Such a gorgeous outfit! You had my vote right away :D ReplyCancel

  • Rachel Pinheiro - Sunni, your style is YOU and I love it. Everyone did such a great job but that jacket took my vote. XxReplyCancel

  • laura - I love your jacket!! But are you saying.. you created it without a pattern??? when you say it is a “rub off” ?? That blows my mind!

    Came over from Project sewn! Hope you make the cut! I love love love your jacket.ReplyCancel

  • Maddie - Best outfit ever. I think we have twin styles. (Well you are wearing my dream style). Just started sewing again (first time since high school). This would be my ultimate outfit to make once I get the hang of things again.ReplyCancel

  • Sall - This is a great outfit! That colorful shell top is PERFECT :) I am so tempted to go buy that fabric right now! Completes the outfit perfectly!ReplyCancel

  • Cindy M - I love wide leg trousers too – but not on myself! They stumpify my long legs like nothing else. One of my recent sartorial realizations. So sad.ReplyCancel

the Fashionable Stitch Classroom!

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Oh my goodness – time flies! I can’t actually believe that January has come and gone. Wow! I have lots and lots of things to update you on and I thought, since we just finished with it, I should show you the new Fashionable Stitch Classroom. To fill you in, this is the basement section of our fabric shop. This is where I used to teach classes when it was Yellow Bird Fabrics and now that we’ve renovated it, I’ll be teaching a very light load once again.

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I taught in the basement for over a year before buying out the business from the previous owner and though I thought it was perfectly adequate, I did have revisions in mind. So, when we bought the business, I decided to shut down the classroom because 1) I didn’t have time to teach classes anymore and 2) I wanted to revamp the entire downstairs.

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Sadly, as per my usual, there are no before photos of the classroom, but having spent so much time on renovating it, I do have to say it was kind of…. bad. Several customers and some of my own students said as much and I had been asked many many times if we were going to move to a different building or area. One of my ladies even alluded to the fact that I charged a fairly substantial fee for my classes and hmmmm…. the area the classes were held in was, well, not as substantial. At first, I was quite taken aback, but I’ve come to realize the truth in these comments.

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Now the classroom is actually quite charming. It’s still a basement, don’t get me wrong, but the changes we made and incorporated are quite wonderful. It’s more of a sewing sanctuary now and well, it actually makes me want to go over to the shop all the time and sewwwwww. Some of the changes we made? We painted the duct work, which used to be its normal metal color. We also painted the floor which was in dire need of a new paint job. D-I-R-E. There were lots of stains and such on the floor and it was rather yucky. We changed the orientation of the downstairs. The sewing machines are now out in the open whereas before they were in a stifled square-ish space with no natural light. There are now two cutting/drafting tables. One thing I noticed when I was teaching is that there was never enough cutting and drafting room. We have decent sewing machines to sew on and a couple of sergers too. Additionally, all the tools needed for cutting, drafting, sewing and such are all apart of the classroom. We painted and hung several peg boards around the place for organization (I LOVE pegboard) and we put down a few colorful rugs to warm up the place. It’s really really sweet and fun and I’m pretty sure that it will be receiving some serious love in the future. Hip Hip Hooray!

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And now that the classroom is finished, its time we got back to having actual classes down there. I’ve decided that I’ll be teaching once again – a very very light load – starting in March. We’ve also got new teachers lined up! Miriam Tribe of Mad Mim will be teaching classes. Sheesh! Her classes are very exciting and I have to say that I’m so glad to have Miriam on board. She’s teaching some classes that I had been asked about and didn’t have a lot of interest in teaching, so its really nice to have some variety. Want to see what’s on the docket for February? Hop over here! Additionally, we have a few more teachers coming on board and they will be rather amazing, if I do say so myself. It makes me giddy just to think about it! yay!

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It’s also very very possible, that we might start filming some of these classes (in the classroom, of course) and putting them online for purchase. Now that would be exciting, right?

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If you live in Utah, you should definitely sign up for our newsletter and make a point of coming to a class. We would LOVE to have you! And if you don’t live in Utah, if you’re ever in the area, you should stop by our shop and at least see the classroom. Oh the fun we’ll have down in the little sewing sanctuary! Yay!

  • Maria - It looks fantastic! I visited the shop in autumn 2012 during my holiday in the States. I loved the shop and now I read that you are the new owner. Great! I love to see all the new things and I hope I will come back again!

    See you!
    Maria

    P.S.
    These are the fabrics I bought in the old shop and I love them!

    http://schildiswelt.blogspot.de/2013/02/das-letzte-stuck-amerika.html

    http://schildiswelt.blogspot.de/2012/11/me-made-mittwoch_7566.htmlReplyCancel

  • colleen - How I wish I could take a class with you, if only to sit in your lovely classroom.

    WHAT is that purple fabric that the Archer is made from? Please please please: I must know!

    Have a wonderful time with your new round of classes in your shop!ReplyCancel

  • Carolyn - Congrats on getting the classrooms set up! They do look inviting to learn and sew in.ReplyCancel

  • Bailee - It’s Adorable. I took a class once in the basement and I LOVE the changes you’ve made!ReplyCancel

  • Sandy Woerner - I am so-o-o-o jealous that I don’t live in close. I live in Maryland, so it would be quite a hike. I love what you have done which is the reason I am jealous. You have created what I call the sewers dream, and I love it.ReplyCancel

  • maddie - Sunni, the space look amazing and you described it perfectly – charming. I’m glad to see that things are coming together well with the shop. It’s an exciting time for you!ReplyCancel

  • Miss Crayola Creepy - The new space is darling!!!!! If I was a student I would be so excited to take a class there!ReplyCancel

  • Tasia - Looks great, really bright and clean! From these photos if you don’t see the ceiling, it doesn’t look like a basement. What a nice place to sew and learn!ReplyCancel

  • Fabric Tragic - Looks just lovely! Wish I could come by – great work :) ReplyCancel

  • Tilly - It looks fantastic! Good work turning a basement into a sewing sanctuary. Your shop is going from strength to strength xReplyCancel

  • Siri - What a beautiful classroom! I wish I could take classes in a place like that! Good luck with all your plans, it will be awesome :) ReplyCancel

  • Heather - Your sewing studio looks wonderful. I’m sure your students will love it.ReplyCancel

  • Rachel - I really want to visit one day.ReplyCancel

  • Virginia - I’m happy to hear about the online classes. They’re a lot easier to get to.

    I’m loving the basement room as well. My part of England has a higher water table than Utah, apparently, because we need to use a water pump to keep it below knee level. :-P ReplyCancel

  • Sally - I just love this space! Wish I lived closer so I could come to your classes! :) ReplyCancel

  • Fashionable hoodies styles in Clothing | Dog Apparel Resource - […] out these fashionable hoodies styles that suits you best …   * Zipper Hoodie […]ReplyCancel

  • Amy Royer - Looks Fabulous! Well done Sunni!ReplyCancel

  • kath - Such an inspiring space! :) ReplyCancel

and now for something fun

To everyone! Thank you for your comments on my last post about a certain comment. I’ve taken the post down because honestly, I’m not feeling good about it anymore. I think you can all relate when you’ve made mistakes and I do feel maybe, it was a mistake to address this particular comment in this way. I’m definitely human and I totally make mistakes – I’m just a regular gal, you know. Also, I know many of you are concerned about the legalities of my employee co-op situation. I’ve looked into it and its legal (in the state of Utah) and for future, I’ll refer to it as a volunteer situation as that more aptly describes how things are working at this moment in time. I’m not going to go into specifics, but all the bases are covered. Many, many have given advice to me about disclosing more than I should. Thank you for your concern. I really do appreciate it and I’ll give it some more thought as I go forward in this new venture. For now, let’s get back to the business of sewing, shall we?

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I’m a contestant for Season 3 of Project Sewn. I gave a small hint back in December about it (something to the effect of I would be making a whole new wardrobe) and now we’ve got about a month to go before its here. I thought it would be fun to give you a little insight into my thoughts for this upcoming competition. All my ideas are sketched out and ready to be sewn and I’ve gotten to work on my first project and almost have it completed. I’m running just a little behind, but I think I’ll end up being just fine.

The wonderful ladies who run Project Sewn gave us all of the info that we would need by early December. Yes. They are awesome. For some crazy reason, I assumed the challenges were one week challenges meaning that you would have to complete an entire outfit in one week and that scared the living daylights out of me. Thankfully, that is not the case. They give you plenty of time to get ready and produce some really high quality material for the challenges. This is actually really really good for me. When December finally rolled around, I hadn’t touched my machine in weeks. During December, I barely touched it too, but I have come to realize that deadlines are a good thing for my sewing productivity. I’ve started making my outfits and have given myself some specific timelines for when certain things need to be accomplished. I have come to realize over the years that this really works well for me. I know deadlines don’t work for everyone, but I will say, they definitely work for me. This turned out to be quite fortuitous as it has not only challenged me but it will give me a whole new mini wardrobe in the end. So awesome.

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The whole concept of me being in this competition was something I found, well, interesting. The challenges are not easy for me because I am someone who has at long last come to the realization that what I would love to sew and what I actually wear are two different things. I mean, I came to this realization a couple of years ago and have been striving only to make wearable garments since then. But the idea of being in a competition and not being able to wow anyone with everyday wardrobe items kind of killed my enthusiasm – at first. I was very much against the idea of creating anything costumey. Like at all. I chatted with my mister about it and he agreed. It was very important that I create items that I would wear again and again and reach for all the time. So I will be creating only garments that are part of my everyday uniform of sorts for this competition. I have to tell you, I’m soooooo excited for you to see everything I’ll be making. I’ll be unveiling everything in due time, even if I’m not the lucky winner (which I’m totally A.OK with, I mean this is just friendly competition and I’m very excited to be apart of it).

I’m also very excited to see what the other ladies come up with. This is what makes this contest so fun to watch. The line-up of participants is pretty great and I’m quite sure we’ll all be wowed by the makes. Sheesh! Excitement abounds folks! Hip Hip Hooray!

Have you ever participated in a sewing competition? How do deadlines work for you? And seriously, what about making items that you will wear everyday? Is it hard, or is that just me?

  • amy w - I’m really excited about this round of Project Sewn! Can’t wait to see what you all create. As a procrastinator, deadlines are really helpful for me. I was working on a lap quilt top before leaving for a work trip and I was up until 1:30am getting it pieced together(it was coming with me on the trip). I got 3 hours of sleep before getting up to finish packing and leave for the trip, but that quilt top was done!!ReplyCancel

  • Janette - I look forward to seeing what you and the other participants come up with. I’m glad to hear that you will be making pieces for your ‘uniform’. I don’t sew often but when I do, I try to make things I will actually wear. Seeing “real” clothes on blogs is actually more inspirational to me than all the frilly dresses (not hating – they are lovely and that may be those folks’ uniform!) I love getting fabric and pattern ideas from others and this is a super talented crop of sewists!

    Good luck!ReplyCancel

  • Jennifer N - I have only recently realized that I have sewn several things last year only to wear them once of twice. my goal is to sew things for daily wear and I am doing the Ready to Wear Fast so that includes basics like tees and pants. I usually stress about deadlines but then happy to have then otherwise I may not complete items and they will end up in my UFO section. I look forward to seeing what you create.ReplyCancel

  • AnaJan Stepalica - How exciting! I’m looking forward to seeing your garments, I’m sure they’ll be interesting, beautiful and perfectly executed.
    When I started writing for Sew News, I faced a challenge of completing my articles and garments within a given time frame. At first I was frustrated by the deadline, but now I’m quite used to it and work well when having a specific date on my mind. It helps a lot the fact that I am more accurate now than I used to be before when evaluating how much time I would need to complete the given task.ReplyCancel

  • Kelly - I was so surprised to see you in the line up, not because you aren’t amazing, but because you’ve got so much going on right now! I’m so relieved on your behalf to know they aren’t one week challenges :) I’m really looking forward to seeing what you’ve made, and I love that they are wardrobe staples!ReplyCancel

  • zilredloh - How exciting Sunni. I have to say, this seems a great competition to get yourself spurred on to create a new wardrobe. :) Can’t wait to see what you stitch up.ReplyCancel

  • Maddie - When I first started my blog, I made a lot fancy dresses. Last year, I switched focus and starting making more wearable garments and I think it was because I was influenced by other bloggers who made more casual clothing. But that’s not me. I’m totally an Anthro and Free People gal – I love dresses and will get dressed up to go to Whole Foods. I’ve gone back to making what I wear, dresses, even if they’re a little fancier than what most people would call everyday.ReplyCancel

  • oonaballoona - this is going to be SO MUCH FUN! it’s funny– ruggy and i had the exact same conversation, only in reverse universe:)ReplyCancel

  • Marie - Thanks for bringing this up. The question of sewing vs wearing is an interesting one to me. I like to wear what I sew, and that means I tend to sew a lot of casual garments. I enjoy the challenge of making an everyday item unique and wonderful, without turning it into a costume. However, every once in a while I break out of this mold, and that can be wonderful too. Last summer I was invited to a fancy party, and took the opportunity to make a beautiful cocktail dress. I’m not sure I’ll ever wear it again, but I learned so much from the fitting and construction process that it was totally worth it! (Also, I’m insanely proud of the result.) :) ReplyCancel

  • Stillsewing - I’m delighted to see that you are back sewing again. I often wonder how you manage to fit in all the things you do – and now a shop- well done! I hope that it all goes well for you.

    On the sewing front I seem to make clothes for those special occasions like weddings, the things you only wear once and hate to spend a fortune on while the everyday gear can be purchased without the same guilt factor. I do make lots more than “special occasion clothes” but quite often I find that things I make turn out much more “dressy” than I had intended/expected when I started a project and I don’t get as much wear from it as a result. I wonder have you had that experience as well?

    Anyway as a lurker out here who delights in your blogs and the help that you give people like me — thanks, and as regards the shop to hell with the begrudgers!ReplyCancel

  • Becky - Good Luck! I hope you enjoy the process.ReplyCancel

  • Lori - I am so excited the this season of Project Sewn, thanks for sharing how it works. Also, I so agree with your statement about sewing what you will wear. I have been trying my best to do this.ReplyCancel

  • Sue @ A Colourful Canvas - First off, congratulations in being chosen for this season of Project Sewn! And, isn’t it serendipity that this opportunity presented itself when you needed it most. I look forward to seeing your creations, and to reading more about the process.ReplyCancel

  • Virginia - I’ve never heard of Project Sewn before but it looks really interesting. :-) ReplyCancel

  • Houseofpinheiro - I’m so happy we doing this together. I got one two garments half made. Procrastination all the way so luckily deadlines helpReplyCancel

  • Alexandra - I haven’t heard of Project Sewn but can’t wait to see your mini wardrobe.
    I don’t much care for deadlines (other than self-imposed ones) but I do like to sew regularly to keep the mojo going. I try not to sew for my fantasy life but for the one I have.ReplyCancel

  • Rochelle New - I’m so excited you’re a contestant in Project Sewn!! …but I don’t know how on earth I’m going to be able to vote with so many wonderful ladies involved whom I adore! Regardless, I’m really looking forward to seeing how you interpret each challenge.

    :) ReplyCancel

  • lisa g - i am so excited to see you compete in project sewn! the lineup is spectacular, i’m sure it will be extremely difficult deciding who to vote for! i’m glad you’re deciding to sew true to yourself and stick to things that will be worn–in my opinion, even the everyday things can be fun and challenging. best of luck!ReplyCancel

  • Justine - I was in a kids sewing competition called Project Run & Play run by Liz & Elizabeth as well and it really pushed me to do some of my best work. I didn’t think I was competetive until it started. I sewed week to week and didn’t really prepare anything beforehand so it was stressful. I got out in the fourth week.ReplyCancel

  • Carolyn - Congrats Sunni, that’s such exciting news! Best of luck, and hope you enjoy the process. : )

    As for sewing everyday items vs. costumes – I’m totally with you. I want to reach for my handmade garments everyday and be comfortable wearing them. They also have to be functional for my lifestyle. Needless to say, I don’t sew a lot of fancy dresses!ReplyCancel

  • Kimberly - Yay! Ready, set, go….ReplyCancel

  • Rebekah - Hi Sunni – It was great to see all the great advice that was given by commenters concerning your previous post and I’m happy to find that you have sorted through all the legalities and are back on track.

    I have never participated in a sewing competition before (even though I do dream of being a contestant on the Great British Sewing Bee!), but I have done a sew-along which included deadlines. I find deadlines to be very helpful when endeavoring to do something new and different. Without them, I find myself wavering at those difficult times in a project and winding up pushing aside the project for weeks. Deadlines give me that extra motivation to get to the finish line.

    And making everyday type of garments? Is it hard? I am more of the process type of sewer, so it really doesn’t matter to me what I am making. However, I always look forward to trying something radically different then my previous project. Just to keep it more exciting.ReplyCancel

  • Scary - The other day I went into your store after being introduced to this blog through the Project Sewn blog. Your fabric was beautiful and staff was so kind and knowledgeable. It felt so comfortable. Money is tight for my family so I am sure I will only be able to be an occasional stopper by but I will try my best to spread the word. I hope to be in soon to buy a beautiful cobalt knit that I spotted and the Refrew top pattern.ReplyCancel

  • Christianne Bower - I got back into sewing about 3 years ago, and the first things I made were not at all the kinds of things I would wear everyday..or even a couple of times a year ! I quickly realised I had to expand my sewing skills to be able to sew what I like to wear. And that meant learning to sew knits. I have ventured into knits with some baby clothing, and a couple of skirts for my daughter- in- law, but nothing yet for me.

    I also have made a few blouses, and I am slowly learning to pick patterns and fabric that suit my lifestyle. It is still a work in process, as I am drawn to gorgeous dresses that I would have nowhere to wear !ReplyCancel

  • Judi - I’m all about deadlines! Give me a wedding and a dress to make, and I get it finished. Give me some boiled wool, and no deadline, and I will finish it in April and not be able to wear it for months. I think sewing what you like to wear is perfect, because you know it will fit well, and you will feel cool in it! I have a stash full of dressy fabrics, that just gather dust because I don’t go to dressy places often. What I need are knit tops, jackets, pants, and a few skirts, things I will wear all the time. Can’t wait to see what you come up with!ReplyCancel

Behind the Scenes December Edition

I thought this might be fun to start and admittedly I love reading Tasia’s posts on her burgeoning business every month. I’ve always found posts like these interesting because I really do want to know what its like to own a small business and make ends meet with it. So now that I’m adding a new perspective to the table – owning a brick and mortar fabric store – I thought you all might want to know more about what goes on and how things are run here at A Fashionable Stitch.

Store-front

the Space
I like to think of our little shop as a fabric boutique because, yes it’s small. We are not a Hancock or Joann and honestly, that’s good because these chain stores do have their place and they do provide things that we really don’t have the room to provide. For instance, we don’t sell buttons currently. After a lot of thought about this too, I don’t know that we will sell buttons because buttons can take up quite a bit of room and eat up quite a bit of capital. And our shop’s physical location is right in between a Hancock and a Joann, so we have to have a different focus when it comes to what we are going to sell. We rent a location that was once a little house. The property has been commercialized and we have our own parking lot and such. The upstairs area is dedicated to the retail space while the basement is dedicated to the classroom (which we’re in the process of revamping) and the online shop storage area.

Owning a business is kind of like owning a house, especially in respect to the maintenance of the building. It’s been snowing quite a bit this December and sheesh! I have to keep on top of shoveling and having ice melt on hand so that people don’t fall and break their neck! Yup, as a business owner you have to worry about these things. Just one more hat to wear!

Behind-the-scenes

Keeping afloat in December
I’ve noticed this trend with my online shop as well as with a brick and mortar. Also my dad was self employed growing up too (lawyer) and it was murder! December is the worst month of the year as far as revenue goes. I would be totally lying if I didn’t say that I was a bit disheartened this past month as this was my first month as a brick and mortar shop owner and seeing the bills that need to be paid and the money that’s come in is quite tight. I think it really comes down to the idea of gifts during December. And this involves changing your entire idea about merchandising for a month or so (probably starting in November really) and you have to start thinking in terms of, “Well, if I were a spouse/significant other looking to give a gift to my sweetheart, then I need something shiny and all put together.” These are things that definitely need to be re-considered and brainstormed for next year, but I will say that we have some really exciting things planned for next year. Now, off to write them down and put in a place that will not be forgotten!

Buying fabric for a shop
Probably the number one question I receive about my online shop is, “Where do you find all these notions and supplies you have here?” Sometimes I don’t know if people really want to know or if its just a passing question, but I will say that finding suppliers/sources is hard work. Oh. My. Goodness. Part of buying a fabric store is buying the suppliers list. People do not share this information. They protect it with their lives! So I am glad to have a suppliers list to start with. I’m also growing my own list and its been interesting. I have to keep on top of the needs and wants of the shop. I want so many different options for the shop and yet, there are needs that have to be maintained like having a selection of bridal fabrics and laces (we have a lot of weddings here in Utah year round!) and things like cotton batiste and specific colors of silk shantung and dupioni all have to be in stock and ready for purchase. Then there is a growing list of wants. I want all these different types of fabrics and what’s worse is to be perfectly candid, I could care less about wedding dress fabrics! Ha! So I become torn by things that I want and things that I have to have. Sometimes its definitely about selling items that you don’t care to sell. Strange, but interesting.

Behind-the-Scenes-2

Out with the old, in with the new
One of the main focuses of December for the shop has been getting rid of the merchandise that’s not selling. You have to be creative when you are up against things that don’t sell. My mother instilled in me the idea that much in life is about presentation. And to be honest, this is sooooo true. Sometimes when items aren’t presented well they don’t sell – so true in so many facets of life! I’ll give you a few examples. With the purchase of this shop came the acquisition of what seems like 5 billion really old trims and ribbons. I had worked at Yellow Bird Fabrics for over a year and had never seen these trims move. Ever. The trims aren’t necessarily bad, they are just rather project specific and as such they rarely get bought. One of the first things I did when I took over was to go through all the trims and fish out all the ones that really needed to move and hadn’t. Cut those up, put them in 3 yard bundles with a few other colors of ribbon and Voila! Instant color and cuteness by the register. And they are usable! They aren’t just junk. They can be used in clothing or as gift wrapping ribbons and trims.

We also decided to get some fabric moving too by cutting several of the bolts into remnants. One of my ladies said that she used to work at a fabric store that had a marvelous remnant rack and it’s something that we’ll be utilizing too. The majority of the remnants are at least 2 yards, so they work well to actually make something out of. No 1/2 yard or 1/4 yard remnants here!

Blush-Rayon

fuschia-rayon

Additionally, we had a roll of rayon that had not sold a single yard. Such a pretty rayon too – great for a dress. But it was cream colored and well, boring. I dyed the yardage (with good quality dye, mind you) into two different colorways. The end result was really cool actually as the zig-zag stitching took the dye more than the rest of the fabric. Again, just a presentation/vision thing really, but it makes a big difference in seeing the potential in something that you hadn’t considered before.

I think that’s it for December’s Behind the Scenes. Gosh, I can’t believe December is already gone! I’ll admit, this has been hard. I’ve been very much consumed by this whole entrepreneur thing (as I should be, I think) and that’s been both good and bad. I sewed but a very little bit in the last part of December and that’s something that has to change. I love sewing and I don’t want to just give it up because I’m a shop owner. So I’ve actually been sewing quite a bit in January. Almost finished with a jacket (which I started January 1st)! Yay! Priorities have to be set. If you never make time to work on the things that you enjoy, you never will. I could work on the shop all the time everyday, but its not what I want to do all the time. So setting limits and parameters is very important. I’m learning that bit by bit.

  • Karen - Ok, (big sigh) maybe this daydream of owning a fabric shop will only be a daydream. It sounds like fun and hard work and creative in a whole new way. I did subscribe to the Sewaholic’s blog so I can live my this dream vicariously through Tasia’s cute shop. I wish her all the luck and next time I am near her neck of the woods I will scope it out. I always hunt down the boutique fabric stores when I travel. Thanks for the hook up.ReplyCancel

  • Tatiana - This was such a great post, I was really curious to see how the shop looked from the outside, ha! I am happy for you, you are doing what you love, bliss! Good luck in 2014!ReplyCancel

  • Peter - Great post — it sounds like a wonderful store!ReplyCancel

  • Alexandra - Thanks for sharing! I love reading these type of blogposts!

    Also, the idea to dye that rayon yardage is genius, and I love the way it has come out.

    Good luck with the venture and all the best for the new year! I’m looking forward to keeping up with it all! :) ReplyCancel

  • Renee - This was really really interesting. Thanks for giving us an idea of what it’s like to have a fabric shop.ReplyCancel

  • Corinne - Congratulations on your brick & mortar shop! It sounds challenging but also very rewarding. And rewarding in the creative sense as well! I’m looking forward to the next time I get to SLC – I’ll definitely be stopping by. :) ReplyCancel

  • Tessa - I love this post! I work/teach in a small sewing shop, and I have been getting a serious education on how these places work. I’ve always wanted to have my own shop one day. Until then, I am soaking up as many point of views as I can, and taking notes along the way. Your transition from online to brick and mortar has been such inspiration, and I wish you all the best.ReplyCancel

  • Ginger - This is such an interesting post! There’s so much that goes on with owning a business that I’m sure you wouldn’t think about until you own one, so it’s really cool to read your perspective. Wishing you best of luck! It sounds like you’ve got a really smart approach to building your business– I’m excited to see where this takes you!ReplyCancel

  • Kelly - I was hoping you would do recaps like Tasia’s! This is all so interesting, though it sounds so hard. The co op idea is a neat one, and I’m not surprised you have a dedicated team. I hope you find more balance in your life soon, but this is all so new still! I’m sure a year from now you’ll be sewing up a storm :) ReplyCancel

  • H - Interesting post! Ever thought of ‘twining’ with a similar fabric shop that’s recently set up new but in another country- sort of like a sewpal rather than a penpal? Might be a way of exchanging ideas etc without compromising your market.ReplyCancel

  • Virginia - I’ve always wondered about the supply lines as well, but I’ve also wondered if it’s possible to ask a sewing shop if you could order a bolt of fabric through them. I don’t know if it’s a stupid question or not…ReplyCancel

  • Alice - This is a really interesting post ! Although I do not intend to work in a shop or anything like it, I like reading Tasia’s posts and I am glad you will have them too. I agree that presentation is very important in a shop and making your little pre-assorted ribbons selections seems to be a good idea !
    In Paris, where I live (and in other shops I’ve been to accross France), the remnants are always 3 meters (3.2 yards, apparently). And I wouldn’t buy a remnant smaller than 1.5m (except if I have a very specific project in mind that calls for less), so I think the way you sell larger remnants too is great !
    Keep up the good work !ReplyCancel

  • Karen Helm - I read every word of this interesting post, and all I can say is that you really, really deserve to be successful at this new venture of yours! I wish you days filled with buying customers – and time to sew, too!ReplyCancel

  • blacklabel - If anyone can do this, its you. Once the chaos of a fresh start is over, you will be able to sit back with a cuppa tea & enjoy the fruits of your labour. I wish you every success & rest assured if my travels ever bring me to your neck of the woods, I will pop in.ReplyCancel

  • Becky - Very neat! It’s interesting to me to hear about a more boutique fabric shop, since I live in a state that literally only has JoAnn’s. I’m so glad you’re going to be continuing with the online shop too, since that means that I can still support you while living across the country! I love how you’re utilizing the stock you already have and re-imagining it to actually sell.ReplyCancel

  • Amy - I’m so excited you’re going to do monthly posts, too. I love reading Tasia’s, and I know I’m going to love reading yours as well. I’m sorry December was such a hectic month, but I think you’re spot on about what people focus on buying at that time of the year. Sales do seem to be important to lure people in, so perhaps some pre-packaged gifts (fabric, pattern, class bundles; notion bundles; etc.) and a good sale will make a difference? But, really, every new start has growing pains, and it sounds like you’re way ahead of the game!ReplyCancel

  • Qui Pardue - I really enjoyed your post Sunni–your ideas for presentation are awesome. I wish you much success.
    My small town only has a Hancock Fabrics and some quilting shops. I spend a fair amount of money at Hancocks, so I started working there to offset my spending (and get a discount). It may not fit the focus of your shop, but what sells like hotcakes in December is fleece. Many people make no-sew fleece blankets as gifts, and we sold tons and tons of fleece.ReplyCancel

  • DeAnna - Cheers to you and your little shop. It sounds fantastic. I know you will have a great time because it is something you love. Being a former small business owner for 36 years, (different type of business and now retired) I know it is, also, a lot of hard work. All the best to you.ReplyCancel

  • Tasia - Fascinating!! I really enjoyed reading your post and I hope you continue the Behind the Scenes feature. To you, it’s everyday life, but to readers, customers and aspiring entrepreneurs it’s really fascinating stuff. Your business is so different from mine, but still very interesting to read your thoughts even as you just get started! I liked your insights on presentation being important, and December being slow even though we think of it as a big shopping and gift-buying month. Very interesting that your staff works for fabric-buying credits.
    And this – “If you never make time to work on the things that you enjoy, you never will.” is exactly me right now! The deadlines take priority because they have to, but our own personal sewing projects are important in our own way because they keep us in love with sewing.
    Also – exciting to see your big new sign! If I’m ever passing through again I will be sure to stop by!ReplyCancel

  • Charlotte - Fascinating! I wish you lots of good luck with the shop. I love that you run the shop as a co-operative, there can’t be many fabric shops where that is the case. I look forward to keeping up with all your plans and changes, and hope business picks up after Christmas.ReplyCancel

  • emily - Oh this is so interesting! Owning a fabric store is something I’d absolutely love to do one day, and it’s so fascinating to hear stories from people who really do it! I hope January picks up – I can’t wait to hear more!ReplyCancel

  • Tasha - I have to say, I’m really impressed at some of the creative ways you’ve come up with to sell or improve upon merchandise. Dyeing fabric and thinking about how people really want to use trim and such? Really shows how much you care about your business and your clientele. :) ReplyCancel

  • Stephanie - What a great read. I too would love to own a shop like yours; maybe one day.. Would you believe that n here in Sydney, Australia good material shops are very hard to come by? Do you ship overseas? Or do online orders?ReplyCancel

  • Shanna Dijkstra - I really liked this post – interesting to read how you came up with ideas to sell stuff that’s always been there but nobody noticed!ReplyCancel

  • Star Speckles - Your shop is gorgeous, and I love the behind the scenes glimpse, especially as you are so honest and open! I wish you all the luck in the world, well done for going for your dream

    xxReplyCancel

  • Hp - I really enjoyed reading this post…I loved the behind-the-scenes glimpse into things I had never thought of . And my husband is totally the “buy a pretty package of neat sewing things as a Christmas gift” kinda guy, so I love that idea for next year. I am hoping you continue to expand the online shop as well because it is nice to find nice notions AND quality fabrics in one spot, since I pay high shipping costs for items to canada. Great job and best of luckReplyCancel

  • Laurie - I’ve been quietly reading your blog for a couple of years and I think this is my favorite post! This was a fascinating look behind the scenes, quite different from any behind the scenes I had read before. Thank y0u so much for sharing…and best wishes!
    LaurieReplyCancel

  • Mainelydad - I’m sorry I’m not closer. I’d be over in a heartbeat. I love everything you do to promote sewing and what I like to think of as “sustainable fashion”. Wishing you all the best in 2014!ReplyCancel

  • Kyleigh - What a fascinating post. Thanks so much for sharing an inside glimpse into your entrepreneurial escapade!ReplyCancel

  • sewdooley - Such an interesting look into the business. I love the co-op idea, too bad I don’t live in Utah.ReplyCancel

  • Sally - Your brick and mortar shop is so cute!!! I so wish I lived close and could shop at your place – great article – very fascinating! Wishing you the best in your business and that you get more sewing time :) ReplyCancel

  • Clare - I wish you every success with your new venture. Loved the ideas for selling bits and bobs that weren’t moving. Just wish we had someone like you here in my part of the world.ReplyCancel

  • EmSewCrazy - This is so interesting! Love hearing your clever ideas for getting merchandise to move! Wishing you all the best!ReplyCancel

  • Eleanor (undeadgoat) - I have to say that I’ve been away from sewing blogs for a little while, and while I’m excited that you’ve got a brick-and-mortar shop, seeing this behind-the-scenes post actually makes me less likely to want to order from you again, or even stop in if I ever happen to be in Salt Lake–I’m already (as a minimum-wage Hancock employee) painfully aware that working in a fabric store is only really economically viable if someone else is supporting you or you’re the management, but the fact that you don’t even pretend–that you think a business that makes you money is something that other people ought to volunteer for–is incredibly distasteful. Yes, these wealthy ladies who are working for you would spend their whole paycheck in the store, but there are plenty of younger and poorer people who are out of a job, and would be qualified to work for you, but could never take a job opening that paid in kind, no matter how much value they get out of it.

    In true employee co-op, people get profit shares on top of AN ACTUAL WAGE, not just an employee discount. (We do still get those at Hancock.) I always thought it would be nice to move from a retail chain to a locally-owned business, but not if the locally-owned business is more about doing right by rich ladies in the community who need bridal silks than by her own employees.

    So I suppose that’s the biggest disadvantage of buying the existing business–all the previous owner’s poor business decisions become your problem. Hopefully your merchandising skills plus the online part of the business will mean you’ll be able to turn it around, maybe hire a girl and pay her an actual wage?

    In the meantime, I won’t be buying anything from you that I can find elsewhere.ReplyCancel

  • in Public Defense » A Fashionable Stitch - […] in case some of you may have some of the same sentiments of Eleanor (who commented on my behind the scenes post just this evening) I thought I would give some clarification. Especially because being a small […]ReplyCancel

  • Cheryl Designs - Hi :) BEST WISHES for SUCCESS with your fabric shop :) YES, December is SLOW :( I sew for a living :) 90% alterations with some custom jobs here and there :) December is SLOW. January is SLOW :( THEN.. February HITS and I am BUSY until December again :) YAY!!!!!!!!!! Just get your mind-set into the MODE :)Bank the extra cash to get you through Dec and Jan. USE Dec and Jan to CLEAN your house and VISIT your friends and take a vacation :) It’s difficult at first to get into this CALENDAR but work WITH it rather than AGAINST IT and you will be happier :) Good Luck from Cheryl :) ReplyCancel

  • Carrie Ann - You go, girl! I wish you all the best. I’ll be sure to stop by if I’m ever in your neck of the woods.ReplyCancel

  • Marian Pena - I know the idea is to make money, but how about a contest with a certain fabric that doesn’t sell? They have to buy the fabric still, but if they win the contest out of what’s won, they could get there money back, or even a gift certificate. I bet you’d sell that fabric pretty fast and they’d all come up with an idea as well to try to win.

    You could use that same principal on a “grab bag” also.. Or, offer mystery bags even.. Everyone likes a surprise. :)

    It’s just some thoughts on what you can do with items that are not selling.ReplyCancel

  • Barny - love this post and can’t wait for more :)

    xxReplyCancel

  • Holly - Hello, I read your blogs on Bloglovin.
    I’ve been sewing when I can for the past two years, i work in a full time job (as a Secretary which can be very demanding and stressful so when I do get free time sewing is my therapy. I love sewing blogs and I’ve never really had the courage to leave a comment on someone’s blog without feeling like a bit of a wally! The reason why I’ve bit the proverbial bullet and leaving comment is because I was shocked by the message left by Eleanor. I’ve worked in a lot of temping jobs (I’m a secretary like the owner of this blog was – sorry I forgot your name!) & the majority of them were minimum wage. I still managed to get good material, supplies etc. from local retailers – these items were brought from my own pocket & no one else’s.
    If the women who work for you didn’t like their job they would’nt be there. Trust me, as I said before I’ve done a lot of temping jobs & they were to gain experience working in a office so I could get into the NHS (National Health Service) I’m English by the way! : )
    What you have done is amazing and if I ever won the Lottery I would do it too just for the sheer hell of it! We only have one chance at life so live it doing something you love not what you hate!
    I think Eleanor needs to chill out a little and stop & smell the roses once in a while!ReplyCancel

  • Taryn - I really appreciate your candidness – I hope you keep it up. I have also been a fan of Tasia’s behind the scenes posts. Because you have a brick & mortar, I think your perspective could give sewers a window into the real world of keeping a tiny, hardworking business afloat, where some readers might just view all owners as ‘rich’ or solely money-driven’. It’s really a breath of fresh air – for myself that is.ReplyCancel

  • Janette - Really interesting post, Sunni. I think owning a shop is one of those things that many of us think would be so wonderful and fun (both of which are probably true) but we ignore the hard work and the tough decisions that go with it. Love seeing your insights.

    And, I had to comment on the post about your co-op arrangement. Incredibly out of line. And shows a complete lack of business sense. As if giving up potential profit (discounts or fabric) is not worth real money to the shop owner or recipient. Sure, it not an arrangement for everyone but if the women didn’t want to work there, they wouldn’t. There are a lot of jobs I would like but don’t take for whatever reason – that’s my choice. And the insinuation that somehow it’s a negative thing to be a wealthy woman working for a discount on fabric? How judgemental is that?

    Anyway, keep at it and we’ll keep following your progress!ReplyCancel

  • ClaireOKC - I’m close to two different businesses, and know only too well this is exactly how they run. One is directly retail and so her December was a typical December in which she had good sales. The other an independent fabric store and their sales like yours were a little slower, but they pick up the instant the New Year starts – lots of proposals during the holidays.

    I really appreciate your efforts and hope you find a real niche in your market, as, like you, I believe there is a real need for fine fabric stores and following your passion may surprisingly bring you more than you suspect, but one thing for sure – it brings a lot of light to your eyes!ReplyCancel

  • Cisa - I love these little sneak peaks into your new world of brick and mortar ownership! I currently a tailor and custom clothier shop in a small down in Indiana. Part of my 5 year plan is to expand to open a fabric store with a garment focus similar to A Fashionable Stitch which will also house a classroom. I’d love to chat sometime if you’re up for tossing around some ideas!ReplyCancel

  • Cynthia - Just a short note to wish you all the best in your new venture. I grew up in an entrepreneurial family and I am fully aware how difficult it is to just keep the door open – let alone pay wages and earn any profit. The taxes in some states really challenge the business owner. I appreciate the information you’ve generously provided on your site and Craftsy. As for individuals who are jealous or dissatisfied, in the words of my father “This is America and competition is good. Go to the store across the street”. Perhaps not the smoothest in customer service, but practical. Happy 2014!ReplyCancel

  • Toni - Great to see you today, Sunni! If you ever need help on Saturdays I’m totally game!ReplyCancel

  • Di - I came here meaning to finally comment on your “defense” post, only to find it gone.

    Regardless it was a good reminder for me to come in and pick up some new fabric. I’ve been so involved in my new job that I haven’t had time to sew much lately.

    Running a small business is incredibly difficult, but know that there are people in Salt Lake who appreciate having a place to go for really beautiful fabric.ReplyCancel

  • Janele - I didn’t get to read the defense point, but I did want to reply to the post left by Eleanor. First of all to compare John Hancock, JoAnnes Fabric or any other large fabric chains is entirely unfair. Running a small business is extremely hard, and should be supported and not vilified. Every situation is unique, and I applaud the courage and dedication it takes to run a brick and mortar. I love the idea of a co-op. Why? Because the ladies who choose to support and help run the store, are dedicated and passionate about what they do. It is a WIN WIN. They get the opportunity to learn from each other and support a business that they care about and in return they are able to pick up some high end products. It is a fair trade of goods for services. Economics 101. The fact of the matter is that those “rich” ladies probably work harder to keep those doors open then someone only interested in a paycheck. People who are invested in the success of something they love look towards the future as they receive joy in what they do. Unfortunately, there are many prospective employees who have the attitude that working is only about the paycheck. They aren’t passionate about what they do, and work half as less and wonder what they are going to get out of their job. Keep your business and take an economics course.ReplyCancel

  • zilredloh - Congratulations oh soo much on your new sewing shop! Very happy for your in your new endeavor & I can’t wait to help support you by shopping online. :D ReplyCancel

  • Rory - There was a little brick and mortar boutique in Denver, CO called D’Leas years ago that was one of those places that I would go to because it just made me happy. And I didn’t even sew. It was an “upscale” fabric store in a more exclusive part of town. The fabrics were more expensive but the staff was so warm and welcoming, there were garments made up and creative ideas everywhere. I loved that place and still miss it. I started sewing because of this store and still own some of their fabrics. I usually had to save to buy something, but oh it made me happy. I still support a lot of the smaller businesses in my area. I know that sometimes I can find the exact same fabric cheaper online, but I want these places to stay in business. Best wishes on your store and if I’m ever in your corner of the world, I’ll definitely stop by.ReplyCancel