Redesigning – Women’s Oversized Tunic Dress

First off I want to thank everyone who has supported my business so far.  I have come a very very long way.  When I started making baby clothing three years ago I had no idea where I would go with this idea and through all of my changes my customers have stuck by my side. You all stayed here even when I switched to making women’s clothing. And now I hope you will stick by my side through my next transition as an artist and designer. Thank you all.  I owe my successes thus far to you and I appreciate your support.

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Lately I have been questioning what I have been creating.  Although I do love what I was making it was not holding true to my design aesthetics and my love of pattern drafting.  I also was not using my precise and detailed sewing skills but just getting work done to sell.  I know it is the constant struggle for an artist to step back and reevaluate their work, reinvent themselves and create what their soul is drawn to create.  I think my creations were starting to lose their soul because I was creating to support my family and not creating to fill my love of sewing and design.

I met with a financial mentor a month ago and discussed profit, cost of goods, cost of labor and how to price my work because I had been told so many times that I was not charging enough for my work.  After sitting down and calculating costs it turned out I was only making about $4/hour.  This is why I am rethinking the way I am creating.  I must get smarter in my business sense if I am going to make my passion in life make a living for me and my family.

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With all of this in my head I started designing.  I drafted the first pattern in years and it felt GOOD.  The lines, measurements, darts, seam allowances and playing with rulers spoke to my soul and got me excited about my work again.

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I must continually challenge myself in order to stay passionate about my sewing and my work.  That is why I have decided to add silk to my line of clothing.  I have always preferred heavier fabrics and knit and was deathly afraid of working with silk, but I love silk.  So I was avoiding a love of a fabric because of my fear of working with it. Or better yet a fear of messing it up. Which is absurd!

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With this I present to you my new design.  The oversized women’s tunic dress.  I will be using all organic cotton, silks, linens and hand dyed textiles.  I am currently working on one that will feature fine shibori dye with natural indigo.  Once I get this pattern graded to two more sizes I will be focusing on production of these.  Then once I have a small stock of them I will be creating some more patterns so stay turned.  For now please enjoy my new creation and let me know what you think!

Long tunic 05

Long tunic 07

tunic 02tunic 06blk blu dyed 01

Hurrah! Fall Sale! 25% OFF

Hey everyone!  I am having a fall sale to clear out my inventory and make room for BIG changes!  I have to sell all of my old stock to make room for the next generation of creations.  Please check out my Etsy page to see all of my goodies.  I will be listing a few remaining items in the next few days so stay tuned and check back!

Use Coupon Code: FALL2015

http://www.inkaclothing.etsy.com

Thank you for your continued support!

Changes…

This summer has been difficult.  Anyone who has been on the art festival circuit knows that three days shows are no walk in the park.  Add creating between those shows and you can get burnt out pretty quickly if you aren’t careful.  I have done five festivals since June 28th.  I’m tired.  I have two left.  I realized pretty quickly this summer that though I love the people I meet at art festivals it is draining and soul-sucking to put myself in front of the public to sell my art. Being an introvert and socially awkward, sales is just not something that comes naturally to me.

When I started INKA Clothing it was to create a livelihood for my daughter and I. Something I could do and spend more time with her.  To see her grow up and spend as much time with her as possible.  It started out that way but as my business grew I found I could spend less and less time with her.  Now it has gotten to the point that I have seen her for about 3 hours a day for the past three weeks due to my crazy schedule.  I am now working between 9-14 hour days (5-7 days a week) and I am still not making a living wage that can support us. Though I have received an incredible support from the community, that community that supports local is just not large enough to create a living for my daughter and I here in the Flathead Valley.

I have decided to scale back my business drastically to go back to basics and see my daughter more.  I will be doing INKA Clothing very part time after September 5th (Vintage Whites Market).  I will be getting a normal job part time and trying to strategize a better way to run my business so it can work for me more instead of me slaving away for it.  I started this blog to offer tutorials and patterns online.  This will begin to be my focus.  I love to draft patterns and I am going to focus on this as my blog and my income.  You will soon see tutorials for my most popular clothing items pop up in my Etsy page so that you can make something beautiful all by yourself. Tutorials will also include a sewing school that will teach you sewing techniques for professional finishing.  I will also be creating a very specialized line of basic clothing made from all new materials.  My focus will be 100% silk, linen and organic cotton knits in basic tones. I haven’t been taking advantage of my professional pattern drafting skills and I am going to embrace that and run with it.

On top of these drastic changes, I just invested in a vintage airstream camper that I will be remodeling to fit my family and my sewing studio so that I can hit the road and see this beautiful country.  So this blog will become a documentation of the creation of my home/studio and our adventures as badass artist, homeschooling, single momma-radical toddler, adventure seeking, thrill loving, sewing, scribble drawing, women on the open road. We will be creating a self sufficient mobile living space including composting toilet, solar and wind power and embrace tiny living fully. Eventually we will find a place to land.  But while my kiddo is young I am going to love her and squeeze her and show her how awesome the world can be, before BFF’s and that whole pre-teen (and teen) privacy kick in.

So stay tuned.  I’m excited for the changes and very excited to share those changes, adventures and new beginnings with you all.  I will remain in the Flathead Valley while I finish up the remodel of the airstream and I am still considering whether or not to vend any of the holiday shows this year. Thank you for all of the support over the last few years and I hope I will continue to interact with you in my transition to a new focus.  Thank you for being awesome folks!  ❤ ❤

5 things I learned from vending at a farmers market.

I am writing this because when I was looking to start vending years ago I had a hard time finding insider information on how the whole vending business went.  I ending up failing a lot in the first season, broken canopy, destroyed merchandise, and the list goes on and on and on.  So here are the 5 things I learned vending the farmers market in my first year of business. Those five things I wish I could go back and tell myself from the past.

1. Go simple.  And I mean simple.  Think over your display and try to pair it down to just a few simple things to best show off your work.  I made the mistake of a rack and a table and another table and some other random stand and nothing matched.  I was so focused on the sewing that I didn’t stop to see the bigger picture and that my booth looked like a flea market (and not in a good way).  Now I have a system of black pipe and fittings that can change depending on my booth size.  And it’s still not perfect but it’s simple and people can see what they came to see and that is clothing. I wish I would have just started with one rack of clothing and that’s it.  no table, nothing else.  I think I would have saved a lot of time and stress.

Also, focus on 1-2 identical products at first.  Don’t overwhelm yourself with too much.  You are just starting so be kind to yourself and develop your product before being face to face with the customer.

2. Watch the weather.  Especially the wind.  10%-20% chance of rain is probably not a bad day at the market but add a thunderstorm and winds over 10-15 mph and you don’t want to be there.  Nobody else will be there especially customers. So just skip it. Make sure the market rules allow you to do so and if you need to call the market master to verify you won’t make so you don’t get banned from the market for not showing up. Make sure you have a good social media presence and following to announce everywhere that you will not be there and why and most people understand.

Of course a festival is a totally different story. Your canopy is the most important tool you will have.  Do yourself a favor and get a more expensive one with walls that is heavy duty. The cheap ones break quickly and easily and then you are out $100. This a few markets into my first season.  A freak sudden thunderstorm rolled in and just ripped everything to pieces.  I lost a ton of inventory, my canopy, my display and a lot of confidence.  Also on this topic.  You need weights (at least 40# per leg) and heavy duty straps for your canopy to keep it from flying. I will even weight a rack of clothing if that’s all I have out because a gust can take over your rack in a second and destroy all of your hard work.

Notice in the bottom left corner the white cylinder PVC weight. This is a day I just had a rack of clothing but the wind was blowing.

3. The People are AWESOME! Be prepared to talk a lot, don’t be a salesman, be genuine and go knowing that you are going to meet some of the most amazing people you have ever met in your life.  Approach being there like you are there to meet people.  Keep your head up and know that some days you will set up and make $0 and pay $5-15 in a fee but you will have met some amazing folks and from you conversations with them about the world, your work, your passion you will see them come back in a few weeks and you passion will have made an impression.  Just hang in there and stay positive no matter what.  I struggled with that in my first year and I wish I would have been more laid back and positive.

Not only are the customers awesome but you will find a whole new family with your fellow vendors.  Help your neighbor if you see them struggling with something.  If their rack falls over help them pick it up, if their stuff is flying away try and help grab stuff!  Offer to watch people’s booth while they pee/get coffee/get food.  You will need all of those favors returned so plan on be a part of the community it’s a wonderful eccentric group of lovely people.  Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you are struggling with a canopy and can’t get it popped up alone because most likely your neighbor will give you a hand.

4. Don’t undersell your work.  Price it to allow you to cover you supplies, labor, possible wholesale in the future, market fees, utility bills, and everything.  You have to know that your worth from day one and reflect that in your work.  This gives you room to have a sale if you want, or offer a quantity to customers buying a bulk amount of items.  But mostly make sure you are making more than $1 an hour….or minimum wage at least. There is nothing that I struggled with more than this.  I would price something low because I wanted to sell it but didn’t take into account any factors because I just had no clue.  then when I realized it and needed to raise my prices I had a few customers get upset.  So it’s good to have it figured out before you are face to face with the customer.

5. Have Business Cards and an Online Presence. Hand them out to anyone that you can after you have talked to them and they are interested but on their way out. If you tell them you are online and hand them a card at the beginning they will just take it and walk off.  Chat with them, explain your work and when they say I just don’t have money right now hand them a card so they can find you in the future.  Most people will say, “We just got here and we’re going to make our rounds.  I’ll think and come back.”  If you hand them a card before they go and you have a good online store they can shop in their pajamas and see you the following week or order online.

Have your contact information on your cards and an online presence established including any social media outlets that you find useful. Have your online store full of everything that you carry.  I have had a lot of out of town customers browse but not want to buy but as soon as they got home found me again and purchased online.  A majority of your sales will be tourism if you live in a place anything like my beautiful home in Montana.  This summer I will be offering to ship things right there on the spot for folks.  I will have priority mail flat rate bubble envelopes and be ready to seal it up and ship it out at the end of the weekend.  I have never tried this but this will be my new addition to customer service for the coming season.

There are a tons of locals who will be your fans and support you and they should not be forgotten or left out. Always be gracious and thankful to every single person that enters your booth and be excited that they are looking at your work.  Kindness is always so important in life and will leave you feeling fulfilled and happy at the end of the market.

If you are looking for a cheap and high quality place to get your cards printed there are a ton of options but I have been going with overnightprints.com  They have a huge variety of products that you can print.  But it is best to have your own design using their template.  There are tons of tutorials on how to do that so don’t let that scare you off!  They have really great deals on cards that has saved me a ton of money and given me very professional promo tools for my business.

I conclude by saying good luck and also if you have any questions about what it’s like to vend, what to expect or anything please feel free to ask in the comments or email me!  And don’t for get to check out my Etsy shop!  I am blogging in my spare time and I am a full time working artist so please show some love so I can keep returning the love with tutorials, pictures and other awesomeness. You get 15% off your first order just for checking out my blog so head on over and enter coupon code WORDPRESS15 at checkout. Thank you so much for reading everyone!

Elastic and Knits

Have you ever made something out of knits and had it stretch out half way through the day and fall off of your waist, hips, etc?  It took me a while to figure out this little simple trick for sewing with knits to maintain the integrity of the knit fabric throughout daily wear.  I despise traditional elastic.  I don’t like the way it feels in clothing, I don’t like pulling it through a casing on clothing. I think that it can play an important role in keeping clothing on but knew there had to be a better way.

Clear elastic in garment seam      Clear Elastic in garment distance

I found clear elastic which is AWESOME!  I will never use anything else in my knits. I buy my 1/4″ clear elastic at WAWAK Sewing supplies.  You can just type in clear elastic in the search and it comes up in 5yrd rolls or 150 yards.  Below you see my 150 yard spool of elastic. You can see how delicate and invisible it looks but don’t be afraid because it’s super easy to use and with some practice samples you’ll be addicted!

clear elastic out of garment

You can also find clear elastic at Joann fabrics in a pinch but it’s 3/8″ and isn’t as easy to use with a serger because a serger seam is 1/4″.  So with the 3/8″ elastic you end up cutting off 1/8″ or 1/8″ hangs out of the seam and looks sloppy. The stuff offered at Joann Fabrics is pictured below.  It’s thicker and wider and I don’t like to use it as much as the stuff I found at WAWAK.

3/8" clear elastic

Using Clear Elastic

Using clear elastic can be a bit tricky at first but after some practice you get used to it.  I recommend taking some scraps and doing a few samples before sewing into your garment in progress.  I say this because it is very easy to put stretch on it as it goes through the serger causing a puckered and ugly seam.  With practice you learn to get it through your machine, in the seam without puckering or pulling.  I will walk you through a quick sample practice below.  This tutorial is best for people with moderate experience sewing but with practice a beginner could easily master this technique.

Step One:

Get some pieces cut from scraps for practice.  I cut 2 pieces of knit fabric 3″ x 9″ and a piece of clear elastic that is approximately 9″ long.

Step Two:

Place the two piece of fabric together matching raw edges.  Place your clear elastic down the raw edge of the fabric and carefully place between the foot and the feed dog of your serger. DO NOT USE PINS!

Step Three:

Carefully push the fabric and the clear elastic as far back as you can against the needle.  It’s best to start with your elastic directly under the needle as this keeps it from slipping.

Step Four:

Start sewing.  If you are feeling uncomfortable with the peddle to start feel free to hand walk the needle at first to get a feel for it.  Clear elastic is slippery and tends to want to get sucked to the right into the knife.  I have found that when it starts to slip into the knife just stop, pick up your foot and re-position the elastic back along the seam line.  Also, to prevent slipping into the blade try holding the elastic back from the edge 1/16-1/8″ as you are feeding it under the foot.  DO NOT USE PINS in your serger as you are compromising your serger if one goes through the blade and also compromising the integrity of the elastic.

Here you see the elastic slipping into the blade. Don’t panic, just lift the machine foot, re-position and continue sewing.

Step Five:

Continue to the end of the fabric and elastic and run off your serger snipping threads. If you are sewing in a round (say in a waistband, cuff etc)  you want to over lap the elastic with the starting stitch by 1-1.5″ to ensure a continuous elastic support through the whole seam.

Open your seam and check it out.  Is it flat and not stretched?  is it puckered from pulling when you put it through the serger?

If your seam with the elastic is puckered from stretching just cut a new sample and try again until you reach the best result.  When you are done, open your seam and press your garment and elastic.  I have found that this stuff seems very delicate but can withstand an iron on cotton setting when in the seam. Not so much when it’s by itself.  It can melt if set directly on the iron so be cautious of that.

Of course you can also use this to very quickly and easily create ruching on any seam throughout your garment by pulling as you serge.  How tight you pull the elastic as you feed it in will dictate how tightly ruched your seam will be.  I hope you enjoyed this quick tutorial on how to use clear elastic.  Remember if you’d like to try out this technique you can find the 1/4″ elastic at WAWAK Sewing Supplie, along with super cheap serger thread and other sewing goodies.  They have been saving me money on sewing supplies for years now so go check them out. –> Click Here to shop now at WAWAK Sewing!

Now for shameless self-promotion!  If you liked this post please support my art and help me to continue providing awesome tidbits to the world. You can find my clothing on Etsy and I ship internationally. In fact for reading this blog post I will give you 15% off your first purchase just type in coupon code:  WORDPRESS15. Thank you everyone and stay tuned for more tutorials and fun stuff.

Welcome and stay tuned!

Hello everyone and welcome to my blog.  So many people are having a blast writing blogs and I have been wanting to create one for a while.  Now that my kiddo is a bit older and I have some extra time on my hands I decided that now it the time to give it a go.

I am currently working on my first sewing tutorial and that will be available in a week.  My mission is to create affordable and easy to follow sewing tutorials for all of my DIYer fans out there that want to give upcycling a try.  I have such fun upcycling and I love to see how each person discovers and develops their own style and methods of sewing with repurposed fabrics.

Some of the tutorials you have to look forward to will be, sewing on patch pockets, how to get started upcycling, how to sew an INKA Clothing wrap skirt, basic upcycled wrist warmers, basics of sewing and many many more. Also if you have ideas of things you’d like to learn about upcycling please feel free to contact me!  I’d love to hear from you.