*This post includes fabric-related profanity*
Thank you to SewingByTi for inviting me to the Watcha Wearin January tour! It’s a great way to peek inside the wardrobes of 29 seamstresses around the world for the month. Tibeca has put together an insane pile of prizes with 2 different ways to win! Make sure you make it all the way to the end of this post to find the Rafflecopter and Linky Party entries, and check out all of the other posts for this week.
In previous posts, I’ve mentioned strike-off sewing for custom knits groups. I’ve been sewing up a storm here these past few weeks – ALL strikeoffs- so I figured this would be a great opportunity to talk about what all that means, and walk through the custom fabric process and why I love being a part of that community. And show off what I’ve made 🙂
Most custom fabric hosts operate primarily out of Facebook – they run a business page, a group page for direct customer interaction, and the bigger groups also run a B/S/T page (Buy/ Sell/ Trade). I primarily work with 2 groups as a strike-off seamstress – Smoogie Fabric and Piccadilly Textile Corp; I’m also a moderator for Smoogie’s group, and an admin and sewalong host for Piccadilly.
Designs are printed in rounds where, usually, the various designs coordinate or revolve around a central theme. Most rounds are run as presales where customers pre-order the designs they like in the quantities they want, and pay for everything before the fabric arrives to the host. The preorders are priced to cover the full cost of printing (generally in China- there aren’t any US-based printers that will print on the 95& cotton/ 5% lycra fabric base that most people prefer) including strike-offs, printing and processing, shipping, customs and duties fees, licensing fees to the artist as applicable, and packaging and shipping to the customers. Significant extra yardage is also ordered to account for flaws in printing and cutting to ensure all preorders are covered. At this point, the host most likely has made little if any profit, and may have even lost money. As popularity and space for inventory allows, extra fabric is brought in with the preorders and sold at a higher price for retail, and this is how the host makes a profit. It’s a high risk process for both customer and host, as the preorder customer can have their money tied up for 6-12+ weeks waiting for the fabric to arrive, and the host deals with flawed fabric, dropped orders, fluctuating demand, and competition from other hosts. It’s also high-benefit, as preorder customers get great fabric for a discount, and hosts are able to cover their initial costs and grow their customer base. There are currently more than 100 customs groups on Facebook (10 or so from whom I regularly order).
So, what is a strike-off? It’s the sample print (1-2 panels, 1-2 yards) each host orders for every design in a round to ensure that the print quality is good- true colors, crisp lines, proper scale – before the round closes. The SOs are sent to seamstresses who sew something up and circulate photos to promote the round and encourage preorders. As a SO seamstress, I inspect everything as it comes in to identify any printing or design flaws, pre-wash it as I normally would, then sew it into a garment or other item that showcases the fabric as much as possible. I usually have a ton of options on hand for coordinating fabrics, and have a reasonable amount of creative license with my pattern choice. Each host compensates their seamstresses differently, but it usually involves a discount or credit for that round. There are typically tight time constraints (sometimes as little as 24 hours from receipt to promotion before the round closes), so if you don’t work well under stress or have extenuating factors, it’s best to not sign up for the job.
So now for the good stuff, what have I been wearing?
Piccadilly’s Collection V is open for preorder until right before the Chinese New Year, and as a bonus, three main prints from this round are serving a charitable purpose as well. All of my January strikeoffs came from this collection and I have been living in what I’ve made.
The Speak the Truth series includes the main print (the people), coordinating stripes, and three panels ordered as a triptych. For each yard of the main print ordered, $1.50 will be donated to Black Lives Matter. You probably don’t realize it, but it is incredibly difficult to find fabric that includes and/or is representative of POC. Piccadilly is working hard to change this, including this print, the recently run Hiplets, and the Punklets prints that are also in Collection V. The dress is the Rival Dress by George & Ginger, with color blocking added in at the top. This is a PERFECT winter pattern, easily worn over leggings and booties (ask me how I know!). The bag is the Bonnie Bucket Bag by Swoon Patterns. The back of the bag is an African cotton print that I purchased from Michael Levine’s.
These are the Duck Butt Designs Ladies’ Treasure ‘Munks, originally covered in my joggers mega-comparison post. The super-fun cat print is named Purride, and $1.50 for every yard sold will be donated to The Trevor Project. The stripes on the cats are representative of the intersectional groups under the LGBTQIA umbrella. The solid green is a ponte de roma that is really soft and stretchy- I think I got it from Stylish Fabrics, but it may have come from The Loft. These pants are a pretty good example of the creativity needed as a SO seamstress – maximize short cuts, show off the fabric. I particularly like the imagery of the cats climbing up my legs, and these are so comfy.
The final collection in Politico is Feminist as Fuck- for every yard of the Fuck fabric that is lining my super-classy blazer there, $1.50 will be donated to Planned Parenthood. The collection includes multiple coordinates and panels (including panty panels!) and it is some of my favorite fabric I’ve ever touched. The skirt is a hack of the George & Ginger Vacation Dress; the blazer is G&Gs Riki Blazer.
This purse is one of my favorite makes evereverever. Ever. The FAF panel needed a large bag pattern to ensure I could capture the full graphic, and I knew I needed a “safe” side so it could be carried fearlessly at all times. The Meteor Shower is a Tula Pink print from the Birds and the Bees collection (yay hoarding!). This pattern is the Annette Commuter Tote by Swoon Patterns. It’s so gloriously large, and relatively easy to construct as far as bags go.
One last garment- and this design isn’t associated with a charity. Music to My Eyes is just plain pretty. The music itself is loud (fff) nonsense notes in F major, but that watercolor background is absolutely divine. And it matches all of my heels, making at least one decision very, very difficult. This dress is the Charleston by Hey June Handmade, and if you love it as much as I do, join me for a sewalong starting 1/16/17 here where I also have a discount for the pattern. The dress includes multiple sleeves and a slimmer skirt option
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Saturday, January 14th: Wild & Wanderful