About Commissions – Communication is key!

(Looks at the title) . . . That’s a lot of “m”s and “s”s . . . :P

So I’ve been getting a lot of commissions lately, and I’m still trying to iron out the best ways to communicate with clients. In this business, it’s imperative that I have as quick of a response or back and forth as I can possibly get, that’s comfortable for the client as well.

So I have several options to get ahold of me if you wish to consult with me about a potential commission.

  • Etsy Conversation
    • – so far, many of my commissions have started here. An app on my phone makes it easy to share photos. However, scrolling through 20+ messages makes this form of communication a little daunting after a while. A good starter tool if you want to begin initial contact and query.
  • Email
    • – Okay, pretty easy, especially if a Paypal invoice has been sent, and the client has no other preferred form of communication. Pictures not so easy to attach from my phone, though.
  • Google Message (Hangouts)
    • – I like this. This is instant and easy, especially if you have a gmail account like a bajillion other people! Always an option here.
  • Skype
    • – Yes, I love Skype! Instant Messaging, photo sharing, and you could voice call, or video call me for free! If you become a client of mine, I can happily share my Skype info with you. I also have my business phone number with Skype.
  • Texting
    • – Kind of a last resort. I don’t usually like sharing my mobile number with just anyone, especially if I don’t know them in person and the relationship is exclusively online. But texting with photos is certainly an option if we want quick messaging with photos, and the above options are not available for you as a client.

How it works

Lace SamplesI have so many patterns, fabrics, and lace choices! One of my favorite things is to pull them out to show a potential client and help them choose the perfect design elements for their dress!

You can take a look at my current pattern catalog here! Forgive me that it’s still an incomplete list. I have SO many patterns, it’s been hard to keep up. But if you’re considering a commission from me, here are some of the many basic options I have. These patterns are not set in stone, and I have the ability to modify just about anything to exactly what you want, can replicate a design element you might have seen somewhere else from another brand, and can make it fit your measurements!

When you order from me, I will be consulting you every step of the way to be sure I’ve got exactly your design in mind during the production process.

I use many different resources for fabric, including (but not limited to) Fabric.com (broadcloth, knits, et al), OnlineFabricStore.net (Chiffons, georgettes, mesh, tulle – accents), DenverFabrics.com (main fabrics, special design, high quality various) and FashionFabricsClub.com. Also, ShabbyFabrics.com is another fav of mine for classic Lolita styles.

I also have an account with EESchenk.com because they can order from Japanese textile houses like Lecien, Cosmo, and Kokka. Because they’re a wholesaler, however, I have to spend a minimum of $150 per order. And when I order fabrics coming from Japan, they only place orders during a small window, and it takes up to six months before my shipment comes in. Personally, I think it’s worth it. I have to buy by the bolt, and Japan textiles usually come in 12 yard bolts. I’m not limited to Japanese fabrics, however, and other textiles are available for a much faster time frame.

Pricing

Sometimes, perhaps more often than not, new clients are a little shocked at my pricing. I have jumpskirts for sale on Etsy that are anywhere from $50 – $80, and there seems to be some confusion as to why custom garments are quoted to clients at anywhere from $100 – $200 (not including shipping). The pieces already for sale on Etsy are prototypes or samples, one-offs that I made for the fun of it, or just to develop a pattern that I’ve wanted to try for a while.

Custom garments are taking another person’s exact specifications, their style, their measurements for fit, all the design elements like fabric choices and lace trims, to bow or not to bow, scalloped skirt hems – these things are consulted with me, and take time to develop. I’m making something extra special just for you, to fit you as perfectly as I can with the information you give me, and the knowledge I have at my disposal that took many years of school and experience to acquire.

I am a seamstress, costume maker, draper, pattern drafter, and designer. You’re paying for my professionalism and my attention to detail. I could never compete with the low end market prices established by major global manufacturers. My pieces have more uniqueness and a soft finish. And no one will have anything exactly like the piece I make for you.

If you want to consider ordering a commission from me, I do accept payment plans via Paypal!

Sizing

I have my own size chart that I go by. Many of the patterns I have are multi-size, but only within the Asian range of sizes. So that means that our American “M” is actually an “L” in my books. I have the ability to increase or decrease the sizes of any of my patterns. Here’s a general list of my sizes:

XS – Bust 32", Waist 24", Hip 34"

Small – Bust 34", Waist 26", Hip 36"

Medium – Bust 36", Waist 28", Hip 38"

Large – Bust 38", Waist 30", Hip 40"

XL – Bust 40", Waist 32", Hip 42"

It is the client’s responsibility to give me accurate measurements. Please be sure to use a soft tailor’s tape and take your measurements properly.

Feedback and Contact

To contact me regarding a potential commission of a garment, you can use the contact form on this website.

You can contact me via Etsy Conversations.

Read some feedback on my work here!

And check out my Facebook Page!

New in my Etsy Shop!

Alice Apron commission!

So I have this apron that I made, using the pattern found in the Gothic Lolita Bible #9 (for sale in my Etsy store) and I received a request for a custom commission. My client loved the design, but hoped for a longer skirt and a floral motif in the lace. Her party isn’t until the summer, so there was no hurry to finish. But she paid right away, so I thought to work on it right away and finish as soon as possible.

It’s kind of a funny design, and so I thought also to take pictures of my work to do a sort-of tutorial for it. Perhaps I will digitize the pattern to make it available, too.

Alice Apron GLB21-1Alice Apron GLB21-3Alice Apron GLB21-2

Finished product first!

So my client asked for a floral motif in lace instead of the treble symbol I usually use, and because the lace I found was a natural or off-white color, we matched it with some natural/beige cotton fabric I had. This ended up being a perfect decision because her dress will also have a natural/beige accent. I am very happy with the result. The skirt I made just a few inches longer. The original design has a 14” skirt, and so I made it 21” to cover the hem of a typical Lolita dress length. Voila!

Belle Floral Apron - Commission-2Belle Floral Apron - Commission-4Belle Floral Apron - Commission-1Belle Floral Apron - Commission-3

I have lots of lace choices, and so I showed her pictures of various lace that are about 10 – 15cm wide, and she chose this one. It happened to be the only natural/beige color of lace in the selection, which turned out to be perfect for her needs! I quite liked it myself, so I was happy to work with it.

Cyber Monday Sale on Etsy!

Right now, I’m offering 20% off my Etsy shop for all my blog readers. Just type in the coupon code cybermonday20 during checkout. Many items have free shipping included, too, so be sure to look for that.

Offer is good until Dec. 1!

The (false) Value of Clothes

I find myself in constant frustration regarding the prices of handmade garments. Mostly, I’m frustrated by the general lack of understanding of their value. It’s no secret that we have cheap clothes now and that it’s ruining the market for custom or handmade one-offs. So I’d like to address this.

Consider that the minimum wage in the US is $7.25. That’s federal. It’s different, too, depending on where you live. I’m in New Mexico, so that’s $7.50/hour. So, I don’t have an army of workers making 100+ units of a single dress. This is mass production, and the combination of output as well as foreign labor wages, makes mass produced clothing less expensive.

I’m just one girl, and I can only do so much. But when I make a dress, I do everything from the tracing or drafting of my pattern, cutting, construction, details, and finishing. I even package my garments when they’re shipped to my customer. At my fastest, I could make a simple men’s western shirt in about 5 hours. Add in time for cutting, and it’s more like 6 hours. If I’m paying myself minimum wage, that’s $45 for just my time. Materials for that shirt, which is about 2.5 yards of regular fabric at $4/yd and another 1 yard of contrast at $9, plus tax (and sometimes shipping) . . . materials alone then would be anywhere from $22 – $28. For one shirt.

I’d like to then sell that shirt for $65-75 dollars. That’s still if I’m paying myself NM minimum wage, I copy, cut, and sew as fast as I can, and buy the bare minimum of materials. Do you see where this is going?

you sew right make it for $50

Clothing manufacturing has been outsourced and exploited for decades now, and it’s driven the price of clothing down to where home sewing can’t compete. The only way we can compete is by marketing our garments as special, unique, and custom. It should have value as a unique item that doesn’t have thousands of copies being worn on other people’s bodies.

The sad thing is that Etsy has been infiltrated by sellers that are more than likely dishonest about their “handmade” label to the garment they sell.

 

 

Some examples

Rockabilly Dress

Shop: LadyMayraClothing

This dress is selling for 49.90. I’m sorry, but that’s just not right.

It’s also labeled as “Gothic” and “Lolita” in the same line as “Rockabilly” which has nothing to do with Lolita or NeoVictorian fashion.

Also, it’s being sold from Bangkok, Thailand. I’m really not sure how they can conceivably sell this dress for under $50, if it’s apparently handmade by one person. I don’t believe this for a second. OR maybe their cost of living is much lower than ours. The picture looks commercial, though, and the quality looks mass produced. They claim to have more than 10. All of their dresses look mass produced, and are priced generally the same.

This is falsely listed as “handmade” in the way that we’re familiar with it. And it has hundreds of favorites.

Blouse from China

Dress from chinaA chiffon blouse like this for $40??

Oh, look, it’s from China. This skirt for $40 too?

The lace and the ruffles take time to ruffle and apply. The chiffon needs to have a finished edge, which also takes time. Look at the pintucks, for goodness sake. $40?

This same Etsy shop is selling another chiffon blouse, with pintucks and lace, for $30! This is just unfair, and the only thing I can do is point it out and hope people agree with me about the true cost of clothing. Especially special niche fashions like Lolita.

So is it suddenly okay for TaoBao Lolita sellers to sell on Etsy, a website that is meant to be a hub to buy unique and truly handmade items?

Oh, also, for a limited time, if you read my blog, you can get 20% off at my store! Just type in the code cybermonday20 when you check out on Etsy. This offer is only good until December 1, so hurry! And thanks for reading!

I made headdresses! And updated things!

After much suspense, we have finally added new products to our web store! And be sure to stay tuned, because we’ll be adding a lot more stuff. Most of it is handmade by me, and some is sourced to be a good inclusion in one’s beginning Lolita wardrobe (make up, eyelashes, etc.)…

Clothing

Most of my sizes are default small or medium. The mannequin shown in all pictures is a 26.5″ waist and 34″ Bust, which according to this chart, is a small. However, things like skirts, jumpskirts, and even dresses (one pieces) have shirring in the back to allow for multi-size wear. The tea party dress, in particular, could fit up to 38″ bust and 32″ waist. It is loosely fit on the mannequin I have and has full shirring in the back – which is why it’s classified as a M/L.

Custom sizes are always available upon inquiry. Please be sure to take your measurements correctly with a tailor’s tape measure (the soft ones, not a carpenter’s tape measure :P ).

Black and Gold Filigree SkirtTea Party JSK-1 Pintuck Blouse 1 - Short Sleeve-1 Ice Cream Parlour Skirt-1-2 Creamy Bloomers-6

Headdresses

In the first picture, I used a pattern from Otome no Sewing Book 5. I call it a rigid headdress because it has an ultra firm inferfacing. The second is a typical round headdress but the lace all around it was crocheted by hand (by me!) as well as hand made ribbon roses with pearl accents. The third is a flower crown type headband. I enjoyed wearing it on Sunday of the Santa Fe Comic Con. :)

Pink Lace - Rigid Headdress-3 Crochet Lace Round Headdress-2 Pink and Purple Rose Half Crown-2

Otome no Sewing Book 5 – Rigid Headdress

Rigid Headdress 3_smOkay, so it’s always possible something got lost in translation. A lot of the time, I don’t translate every word in the instructions given in these books. Most of the construction methods for the clothes are basic (to me) and I can figure out how things are put together without painstakingly translating everything that’s said. I also draft lining pieces and make my clothes fully lined, which is not included in any of these books. For the blouses, I add things like plackets instead of just leaving the seam a little open, therefore making my work a touch more professional.

I made this “rigid headdress” according to some of the instructions. I had to cut out a piece of Ultra Firm interfacing (Pellon, our trusty interfacing friend) 9cm x 24cm. However, now that I look at the directions, I think this was slightly wrong, as it was indicating how large to cut the overlayed fabric to the “bonne foundation” ( ボンネ土台 ) piece. The ボンネ土台 or “bonne foundation” (bonne = bonnet) is listed as a “commercially available” item and to buy 1 unit. So it’s a ready-made thing that, if you were living in Japan, you could probably buy at any of their major craft stores (Tomato!! <3 ). Unfortunately for me, these things are impossible to find here in the states. I can barely find it if I put in the Japanese text into google, even! Lots of pictures, but this tells me nothing about what they would be called in English, or where I can buy the “bonne foundation” thingy anyway.

I guess if you were into millinery and hat making, you’d use buckram with millinery wire (part of the instructions indicate bending the headdress to the curve of one’s head). You’d make your own shape similar to what’s pictured – I noticed a tapering at both ends in the pictures of the finished product and wondered why it looked different to the pattern piece indication that’s perfectly oval. After making this tapered oval shape out of heavyweight buckram, you’d line the edges with wire and cover it crinoline bias tape. Then make the exact same shape out of quilt batting. Make the shape indicated in the book (9cm x 24cm) and cover your piece, basting around the edges, and pulling the thread to gather it on the underside of the head piece.

I’m sure all this is much easier if you could just buy the base “bonne” thing, but you could make it yourself. Or you could do what I did and just use Ultra Firm II by Pellon.

Some places in the U.S. like Hobby Lobby carry Clover brand products, and I went ahead and bought four different sizes and types of “flower making plates”. A little time consuming, but it does make pretty flowers! My headdress, however, was made with traditional ribbon roses using 2″ double face satin ribbon. No template needed for that. :)

Here are the instructions for the headdress and flower making.

Rigid Headdress 1Rigid Headdress 2

Santa Fe Comic Con 2015

This was my first year attending the new Comic Con in Santa Fe. Brought to you by the same company as the Albuquerque Comic Con, which I have attended several times, and twice now as a vendor! It goes without saying that we sure had a good time at this one. Here’s a quick clip of what my table looked like!

I want to thank everyone who came by my girly little table and said nice things about my work, and especially to those who purchased items from me. I truly appreciate the support. Though I’m loath to confess a bit of my personal life, things have been exceedingly difficult this year, and I don’t think I would have been as successful as I have been without the help of some very good, kind, and compassionate friends. This explains why I haven’t updated this website since February. I was forced to move out from my home of seven years, and find my own way. Why this has happened is perhaps too sensitive to share. All I can say is that life happens, and everyone is on their own side.

Due to this, I found myself scrambling to make do over the summer and floundering a bit, as life is wont to do. This year has yielded some extraordinary opportunities, however, and if it hadn’t been for a little tragedy, I might have never found them.

Santa Fe Comic Con 2015 070While I have been ensconced in Taos these last seven years, an opportunity to work in film in costumes – in Albuquerque – has proven itself to be very attractive. I got my first chance to try this new thing over August and September. I worked as a Costume PA (production assistant), which is how costumers enter into such a business to learn the ropes. The hours were very long, and tiresome, but amazingly I found the energy to run around for 12 hours or more, 5-6 days a week for four and a half weeks. And I enjoyed myself! The people are wonderful, caring, and creative, and I couldn’t ask for a better career. While I look toward becoming more regular in this field, I plan to attend a few conventions as a Lolita vendor and advocate of alternative fashion. ^.^

I still intend to produce unique pieces of clothing as a seamstress and indie designer as well. I have been more inspired lately than ever, and I really hope to tap into that energy to be more prolific in my work.

Santa Fe Comic Con 2015 008

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Things I sell: Basic Lolita clothing (blouses, skirts, JSKs, loungewear) – jewelry – eye makeup products and eyelashes – hosiery – hair accessories. Find me @ Storenvy!

I love eyelashes, and Dolly Wink are my favorites, but they are pretty expensive. Two pairs for $18 – $20! So I found some unknown brand that I tried first, and found the quality to be very much the same to Dolly Wink’s fine fibers, with a fine lash band as well. And guess what – you get FIVE pairs of them! They feel just as light and last just as long. YEGZ eyelashes are sold for $10 from my booth. I also carry some Japanese styles as well, and while those are slightly more expensive, you still get 5 pairs of them for the price. Not bad, huh?

I have a special pack as well from my booth. Mascara and eyeliner, your choice of eyelashes, and BB Cream (1, 2, or 3 tone), altogether for $25.

MB Products 117 (1024x676)MB Products 079 (1024x683)

That eyeliner is a brand called Ling Mei. Again, I test everything before I sell it. I found this eyeliner to be long lasting, really bold and dark, lasts all day, is water resistant, and has beautiful packaging. I tell everyone that I’ve had the same one for two years and it’s still going! (and you can revive things like eyeliner and mascara with a little contact solution! Hey!) It’s also 2-in-1 with a gel pencil top, and liquid pot bottom:

MB Products 062 (1024x683)

Best White Tights Ever!

I sell something I like to call the Best White Tights Ever! If you’re into Lolita, maybe you don’t like wearing knee-highs or thigh-highs like me. Maybe they’re really uncomfortable. Maybe they keep falling down. Maybe it’s winter where you live and it’s too cold for such things!

New White Tights 2014 January_smI sell really thick, white tights made for adult women. They’re ballet style tights, that have the feeling of slight compression and are 200 denier thickness. I find these perfect for winter and really hard to ruin with runs. You can wash them in the washing machine! And they can fit you if you’re tall, or perhaps a little larger figured.

Did I mention they feel amazing on my legs? So smoooooooth….

 

 

Santa Fe Comic Con 2015 027

Thank you again for coming by! And for attending this year’s convention in Santa Fe! Here are all the lovely pictures I took of some great costumes, young and youngish. :) Hopefully we’ll see some of you again at the next convention we’ll be attending, ConJikan! We’ll be hosting a Lolita 101 panel, and a tea party!

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