Monday, May 30, 2011

Getting ready

I've been busy finishing up some coats for a couple of upcoming occasions: The second photo shoot on June 2, and the DIY Unraveled Festival on June 10. I don't know quite what to expect from this festival; the proprietors found ME on Etsy and encouraged me to apply. It is the first one they've done, and it's only 3 hours long. At this point in my fledgling "career," though, I figured I should have a go at it, for more experience and feedback, if not actual sales!
I'll post photos from the photo shoot soon after I see them! So excited for my new styles to be captured by the talented Leslie Plesser. 
All the coats I've made so far are with laminated fabric by Michael Miller, Heather Bailey, and a new one (red with big white polka dots, very cute) from Riley Blake. But I'm about to branch out (or at least give it a try) with fabric I've laminated myself.
I had an epiphany several weeks ago while reading this blog by Jeanne Oliver Designs. She told about taking her designs to a trade show or fair, some such, and feeling mocked and embarrassed because they were made from highly identifiable fabric (in her case, Amy Butler). She realized she'd never make a name for herself unless her stuff looked original. I had been thinking about that myself after seeing another coat-seller on Etsy using similar fabric to mine. How can I truly call these my designs if the fabric is so well-known?
And laminate has such a small selection, really. I see the same designs everywhere. Now, they are adorable, and that's what drew me to them. But I've decided I'm going to try laminating my own. I've bought some iron-on vinyl and some fabric (actually, the fabric is a sheet from Target -- I challenge anyone to find laminate that will look like mine!). I'd hoped to have a sample done before the photo shoot but I think I'll aim for the DIY show.
So that's what I'm up to now; the photo below shows my current "collection." (I took this photo, so you can see why I'm hiring a professional for the real shots!)

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Caddie Jo is blogging!

Hi and welcome to Caddie Jo Designs! Above you see one of my little girls' raincoats, the very first one I made when I started this adventure in the summer of 2010. I'll update this blog with news of new designs and other tidbits that occur to me and maybe might interest one or two people....
First, a little about how this business came about. I've always loved to sew (made my own clothes growing up, my wedding dress, and plenty of clothes for my two girls, who are now in their 20s). In recent years I'd done little but pillow covers, curtains, maybe a bag. In spring of 2010 I stopped in a cool local sewing shop, Sewtropolis, to pick up some interfacing or some such, and was immediately taken by the beautiful, soft, laminate fabrics Nikol has there. I returned to buy some to make placemats and she said some people bought it to make raincoats. That little nugget stuck in my mind.
A month or so later I had hit a bit of a down period at work (I am a designer for the features section of the greatest newspaper in the Upper Midwest, the Star Tribune), my creativity feeling a little stifled. My mind wandered a bit, and I can't quite pinpoint what made me flash back on that day at Sewtropolis, but I immediately seized on the idea of making little girls' raincoats out of this beautiful laminate.
Some online fabric-store sleuthing yielded so many beautiful fabrics, I was a bit dazzled, and so excited about my idea. My first step was a trip to Jo-Ann to look at patterns. I found one I liked that was not a raincoat pattern (important -- more on that later) but that could be adapted. Then I took the plunge and ordered fabric in two designs, to complement each other. Those are the fabrics you see above, both by Michael Miller.
My friend and colleague London Nelson, an experienced and talented crafter (she spins and dyes her own luscious yarn, and makes deliciously scented soy candles), offered me many, many invaluable tips. Such as: To call your design your own, you must change a pattern inat least a few significant ways.  I took a basic coat pattern and a) used snaps instead of a zipper (London also directed me to an awesome source for snaps); b) made the coat longer; c) made patch pockets instead of side pockets; d) changed the shape of the hood. The designs have continued to evolve with different trimmings and contrast pieces.
After I'd made three coats (a size 4 and two size 6), another very talented friend and colleague, Leslie Plesser, offered to photograph them on real little girls! She helped line up a colleague's daughters and one day in early August (it was hot!) she took gorgeous photos that are soooooo much better than I could ever have done (that's her handiwork at top). A few weeks later I opened my Etsy shop (with design by my daughter Caroline) and on Oct. 4, 2010, I made my first sale!
That's how everything came to be. Sometimes I still can't believe that I got an idea, followed through, and actually turned it into a budding business!