Tuesday, 31 July 2012

50 Pinnies.

What is one to do?

 ...when one's techy (nerdy) husband decides to update all the computers, making internet contact a thing of the past, and hiding all photos somewhere in the ether between here and the lounge room?

Well, apart from a couple of tantrums and a few choice words, one starts to get ready for market.

One makes pinafores. FIFTY of them. Yes, I counted them twice.

And then, with the little ones in daycare and the wind blowing a gale, one takes photos in the soft light of the front room.

And then, finally, one puts one's foot down. Just half an hour of blogging time should be plenty, thank you. And then you can have your internet back.

Jodi. ;)

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

The Price-War in my Head

Let me introduce you to my favourite coat. I bought it about 3 years ago in a little boutique store in a little boutique town about an hour from here. It was $160 down to $40. And even then I had to think twice about buying it. You see, my husband Tim and I met as students. We were (and still are) part of a small Christian community that held to the ideals of 'simplicity, integrity, community' (a derivative of the Franciscan 'poverty, chastity, obedience'). Holding to the goal of simplicity, combined with not having much money anyway, meant we didn't spend much on clothes. We bought what we needed and didn't care much about how we looked. (Or maybe, at least, I thought I shouldn't.)
My funky red coat started to change all that...

Tim and I 'back in the day'.
After I had Tully 4 years ago, I stopped buying clothes from op (thrift) shops and started buying from cheap department stores. Have a baby attached to me almost permanently, and living a short walk from the shops, it was easier, and a nice outing, to get my baby clothes and my own, and a few groceries, all in the same trip. And the prices were competitive with our local 2nd hand stores so I didn't think much about my change in habit.
But soon, and you've probably experienced this, my t-shirts were a funny fit after only a few washes, and those shorts I bought, only because they were on special, stayed in my drawer permanently.

Tully and Evie wear the clothes I make for them several times a week.

 Enter Tickle & Hide. When I started making clothes, it was purely creative expression bursting out of a tired mum. Selling them was fun and paid for my new hobby, but I did have niggling doubts as to whether making boutique kids clothes fit into my longings for a simple life. I sold them at a price I couldn't afford, but that didn't make me any profit. And I struggled to justify making clothes for my own kids because we had so many hand-me-downs and gifts. When I did make clothes for them, however, they wore them all the time. The clothes I made were my style, not that of their grandparents, or friends whose older girls loved pink and fairies. My handmade clothes were beautiful and different and worn. Not worn out, but worn in.

I recently read an article on grist.org called, "Cheap clothing hurts the planet, the economy, and your style" about the book Overdressed. Pop over and read it when you're done reading this. The title alone spoke to me. I was concerned about the planet and the economy, of course. I am a left-leaning educated woman with 2 young children. But it was the combination of the three: environment, money and fashion, which lit a fire in my brain and encompassed everything I'd been wrestling with since starting my business.

Funky pink zebra print. Argh! I get butterflies thinking about making this into pinnies!
Here's what I realised:

Buying cheap, deparment store clothes doesn't fit with my values.
The wear and satisfaction I've got from my funky red coat made it a worthwhile purchase at the original price, compared with the clothes in my wardrobe I've never worn, which add up to way more. I'm much closer to realising my goal of simplicity when I buy less, but allow what I need to be also what I love. Living simply isn't incompatible with being myself or enjoying beauty.

Making clothes does fit.
For myself, my children and for others. Making clothes and quilts that will be enjoyed and treasured, as an alternative to poor quality clothes made in terrible conditions, is a wonderful thing, not an extravagant or selfish thing.

Price matters.
And here's the one that challenges my confidence the most. We have become used to not paying the actual cost of clothing, or most goods. In the above article, the journalist wrote, "Going back to the ‘50s and ‘60s, you could still walk into a department store and almost everything would be mid-priced, meaning you would find things — and this is adjusted for inflation — that were between $60 and $300. That’s what people were used to paying for ready-made clothes off the rack." Since manufacturing has moved overseas, so too has the cost been passed on, to poor communities, to quality and to the environment. I've come to think it's really important that those of us who make don't undervalue our work, our skill and our individual creativity by setting our prices to compete with the bulk-manufactured goods. I think it's actually our job to train our customers to understand the true value in what we're making. Pricing my goods according to what I think people are willing to pay doesn't communicate confidence in my product or value in my worth as a person.

Circles for Linny Pinnies, each cut by hand, with love and a cuppa.
I'm changing my buying habits to 2nd hand and handmade, including making time to make my own and for my family. What are your thoughts? Please share this if it rings true with you. If you sell you wares, how do you set your prices? And if you buy, what do you think of as value for money? Do you think you get it in the way you spend?

I'd love to hear from you,
Jodi. xx

Friday, 13 July 2012

I'm Ba-ack!

Hellooo! I'm back online! And after about 3 weeks of travel and then a rest and home and some visitors, it's great to be here. :)
My time off has been such a rich, fun, colourful time, full of thinking and planning and just being. Over the next week or so, I'd love to share with you some of the ruminations in my head, but for now I will just show you some colour.

I made the top for this drawstring quilt at the sewing retreat I went on a few weeks ago and then quilted and bound it this week. It's made completely from scraps from my pinnies (the top, that is) and I love that while it's very pink, the blue binding frames it perfectly. I think it keeps it all in. Does that make sense?

Another colour wheel! After deciding to join in our local Hopscotch Sundays Market again, I was lamenting to my cousin, who was helping me sew last month, that these take so long to make but would be heaps of fun to have in my stall. She said, "Let's do it now! I'll help!" And so for a whole afternoon we cut strips and sewed them together. Slowly, I'm turning them into quilts.

And finally, look what I won from Maureen Cracknell Handmade and Riley Blake! (Thank you, thank you!) My first ever big fabric win was such a score! "Seaside" has completely captured me. Those cool beachy colours and lots of vintage basics make what I think is the line for this summer. Maybe even over those I was hanging out for in August? What do you think? I can't wait to order yardage for pinnies and boys shorts. Love!