Floremark Life of Johanna Made by me

Shop update and other stuff

Thursday, November 26, 2009Johanna / 1 kommentarer

Today I updated my shop with the new Mariner sweater and dress. Phew! I got loads of new design ideas I want to try out as well, but that will have to wait. But I do have two days off from work next week so besides filling orders I will set aside time to make something for myself again. Probably the Hedy Lamarr zipper blouse and if so I plan to splurge on some fine silk and also see if can find a matching vintage zipper.

The zipped 40's blouse.

And this weekend we are going to my favorite weekend city - Copenhagen. We will see a concert in an upscale music hall so I plan to finally wear my velvet dress. Though the dress has already been out and about - with a friend who borrowed it for a birthday bash where she wore it with biker boots!

Me and my Copenhagen travel companion.
Shopping Tools

I bought a new pin cushion

Wednesday, November 25, 2009Johanna / 2 kommentarer

My main pin cushion went missing last week, and despite a thorough search around my sewing area AND my other studio I could not find it. I don't use pins all that much, I prefer pattern weights, but when I suddenly don't have access to any pins I realized that I do need them. So I decided to buckle down and get a new cushion. And found this lovely linen and crochet cushion from the Etsy seller Namolio. Isn't it beautiful? It kinda reminds me of the round crochet cushions with fabric backing that my grandparents used on their sofas and rocking chairs.

Of course the next day my eldest daughter found my old pin cushion under our sofa. But it doesn't hurt to have one extra - just in case.

Photo realism

Tuesday, November 24, 2009Johanna / 4 kommentarer

This is how glamorous my photo environment looks most of the time. A small bedroom where I have to fit in a tripod on the extended wardrobe surface, aka as the bedroom floor. With this view of nitty gritty realism I want to say that I plan to do a tutorial soon on how I deal with the dark season when there is hardly any decent indoor light. 

I use both a tripod, a remote and a flash so don't expect a guide in the spirit of "How to take amazing pictures without hardly any equipment". Sorry!  But I thought that maybe some folks with similar issues are curious on how I deal with bad indoor lightning. So if you have any specific questions that you want to have answered about my photography, just post them in the comment section.
Floremark Made by me Setting up shop

Mariner sailor dress

Sunday, November 22, 2009Johanna / 6 kommentarer

Yes a new dress! I did this one for myself but it will also end up in my Etsy store. It is basically the Mariner sweater as a dress. I think have reached new heights with this one when it comes to designing for comfort :) This dress is so nice to wear that it almost feels like a nightie! Also I am officially a "dress with pockets" convert now. It does add both style and practicality to dresses.

This fabric is from a new roll from the same Swedish factory that produced the original Mariner sweater fabric. But they are currently out of black so this dress is made in dark navy. I just love this fabric, it is incredibly soft and stable at the same time. 

But since the new fabric has a different colour than the original, this means I have to make a new Mariner sweater sample as well before I can list it in the store again. 

Parting shot. Here is a cell phone picture of me picking up the new fabric roll. This also what a typical winter day looks like where I live. We hardly ever get any snow.

Floremark Setting up shop

Cicci in Graydon

Wednesday, November 18, 2009Johanna / 6 kommentarer
While most of Floremark's clothes has been shipped to people who I have not met in person, I also have a local customer - my friend Cicci. She bought a Graydon jacket and is also getting the Maud skirt. So when she picked up the jacket I took a photo of her - since I suspect it's one of the few chances I will get to see my customers wearing the garments. 

Cicci is a total clothes lover- just like me. We can talk about clothes for hours, she has a very discerning eye, is analytical in her approach to clothes and has pretty specific tastes. So it was really cool to work with her!
Fashion Magazine madness Patterns

More on La Mia & Patrones

Tuesday, November 17, 2009Johanna / 2 kommentarer

Since I got several comments and suggestions on my post on the La Mia Boutique and Patrones patterns I wanted to address those comments in a separate post. Yes I am actually doing things a little late here, I had planned to post this a week ago, but somehow I got caught up in other stuff.

On finding tissue jersey
Several of you directed me to Gorgeous fabrics and they have a couple of nice gauzy knits, this one I will probably order. Also Joanne recommended Emma one sock's 11 oz jersey since it is light weight and comes in a lot of colours.

On getting La Mia Boutique and Patrones outside Europe
It's a shame that they don't do a better job exporting these magazines to other continents. Even though they would be a bit expensive in stores I still think they present a good value. Usually there are at lest 30-40 different patterns and in several sizes. But this problem has given me an idea - next time I'll arrange a giveaway I will give away either a La Mia Boutique or a Patrones issue.

On draping the knit dress
Antoinette wondered if it was possible to drape the pattern of the La Mia dress. I'd say that it is very possible, the front and collar are the same piece and since the sleeves are wide cap with long sleeve inserts, there is no hassle with drafting sleeve heads. The bodice is lined with self fabric and so is the skirt, so this style requires a lot of fabric (I think around 3 yards if my memory serves me).
Floremark Setting up shop

Floremark so far

Sunday, November 15, 2009Johanna / 5 kommentarer

The last two Mariner sailor sweaters. I sent these away today. But I have ordered more fabric so I will continue selling this style and also add a dress with the same design.

Today it's six weeks since I launched my Etsy shop for Floremark. During that period I have sold (and made!) 8 garments. It's been both fun and intense and I thought I'd share some reflections on this my first experience as an online seller and producer of garments.

Selling on Etsy
Being on Etsy does bring you a big (potential) consumer base. I have managed to sell my garments with very little marketing effort and that wouldn't had happen in the same time frame if I had gone for my own shop like Big Cartel. So for someone who is totally unestablished, Etsy can be a good starting point.

The Etsy fees does however add up. Apart from the listing fee and sales fee, you also have to renew your listings regularly to get noticed in searches and categories. When I renew every day, the interest in my store is much bigger, but it also cost me a lot more in the end.
As for the Etsy shop set-up, it's not without faults and sometimes Etsy seems to struggle with finding the right balance between being a craft community and a professional market place. But so far the pro's outweigh the con's for me.

As I mentioned above, I have not done much in the way of marketing yet. I have mailed a few blogs and tried to keep a certain online presence with Floremark (but not very intensely, there are no twitters and such). And that's about it. This is clearly an area where I could do some more work. But I have already got nice recognition in a Etsy find newsletter, in a blog feature and it also looks like I will have a cardigan included in a indie fashion fanzine soon.

Sewing for others
This can be nerve wrecking. I have very high standards and don't want to disappoint. So I fret quite a bit about everything from the fabric choice to the fit of the garment to the finishing. But on the bright side, I think that my obsessiveness also works in my favor, since a lot of thought goes into everything I do and hopefully this is something that buyers will notice. As for the burn out factor, I don't feel that yet. Rather it's nice to do something for others for a change, and that people appreciate what I do gives me a lot of motivation.

Stress level
Right now it feels manageable, though I have felt overwhelmed at times, especially since orders seems to come in heaps with dry spells in between. The thing I currently feel most stressed about is that I want to include more designs, using the fabrics that I have, but in more ways. And I don't really have the time for that now. So I think I need to lower the bar for a while and just appreciate that I am in fact doing much better than I had expected.

I am very happy that I jumped the gun and actually did it! It did take me over a year going from thought to action, but in hindsight I think it was good, since I had plenty of time to process everything before I went live.
Fashionable movies

The Secret World of Haute Couture

Saturday, November 14, 2009Johanna / 4 kommentarer

Last week it struck me that I have a great fashion documentary in my possession that I forgot to review. And even better it's available on You Tube!
Perhaps many of you have already seen The Secret World of Haute Couture, but it is such a good movie that it deserves a little extra plugging. The movie is produced by BBC and as the name suggests it tries to get inside this rather closed society. We get to follow the movie maker in her attempts to understand why some women fork out ten thousands for garments they only might only wear once or twice.

We get to know the patrons, ranging from English heiresses to trophy wifes to Park avenue matrons who shopped at Dior when Christian Dior still was alive, and peak inside their wardrobes. All the women talks about how there is no turning back once you have started wearing couture - it almost becomes an addiction and several of the customers, perhaps in defense of the high prices and the lack of wear, likens collecting couture to collecting art.

I really like Margy Kinmonth, the filmmaker who has made this documentary. Throughout the movie she gives personal and very insightful reflections on this rather odd world. Like that many customers are on a constant diet in order to fit into the model samples, since they can get them at a 30% discount. And how the pecking order works when you want to to get into the inner circle.

Also one of my favorite fashion personalties is in this movie - Daphne Guinness. She often gets slammed for her eccentric fashion choices, but like the late Isabella Blow, I admire her boldness and that she keeps experimenting with styles in a way that usually only young people do.

So if you are curious about haute couture, and have not yet seen this gem, I can strongly recommend this movie!
Fashion Made by me

Quick vintage dress makeover

Saturday, November 14, 2009Johanna / 3 kommentarer

  • Shorten the hem 21 cm (8 inches) (check)
  • Add back darts (check)
  • Resew the side seams so that the waist hits my actual waist and not my upper hips. (check)
I bought this polyester knit 70's shirt dress a couple of weeks ago in a vintage store. It was too big and too long but I could see it had potential. I seldom buy vintage clothes anymore since I prefer to make the clothes myself, it just works better for me - no fit compromises, weird smells and I can make styles exactly like I want them. But sometimes it's fun to wear the real deal so I decided to purchase this dress and give it a little makeover. And I am very happy with the result, I am always on the lookout for comfortable dresses in fun prints, and this one fits the bill. Now I just need to get rid of that old lady perfume smell and I'm all set.

Magazine madness

New Patrones and La Mia boutique

Friday, November 06, 2009Johanna / 11 kommentarer
Why, oh why, must the European pattern magazines suddenly serve up styles like this when I have absolutely no time to sew for myself?

Drool. Does anyone know where I can find tissue jersey like this for the sleeves? From La Mia boutique's November issue.

Double drool, this is my dream coat. From Patrones Joven.

If you like stylish short coats you have to check out the fall Patrones Joven issue. There are about 8 styles and pretty much all of them looks fantastic. See Melissa's review for more images from this awesome issue.
Made by me Setting up shop

New skirts in my store

Friday, November 06, 2009Johanna / 2 kommentarer

Last night I updated my Etsy shop with the Edith and Maud skirt. The Maud skirt is already pretty much sold out. I sold one straight away and the other two are reserved for buyers. Also I am currently sold out of the Mariner sweater. So I need to check with the factory to see if I can get more fabric. I don't want to quit that style since it's clearly Floremark's bestseller. So the next two weeks are going to be super busy in terms of filling orders. Hopefully I will able to squeeze in a new fashion documentary review and even do a little rework project that I have planned for a 60's dress that I bought last week. We'll see how it goes!
Made by me Setting up shop

Today's outfit

Tuesday, November 03, 2009Johanna / 9 kommentarer

Me and my new skirt (which will be called Edith). The top is from my local fashion favorite Jumperfabriken and the shoes are from Ecco.

Thank you so much for the encouraging comments and suggestions! Doing business, regardless of scale, can definitely be tricky and challenging. I used to be a freelance writer, so I know some stuff about running a business, but there are still so much to learn. BTW I got an email from one of my US customer today telling me that the parcel had arrived safely and that she loved the Mariner sweater, so I feel a huge sense of relief today.

Above is the outfit that I am wearing today. The new skirt feels awesome, it's incredibly comfortable, and several co-workers complemented me this morning. Judging from today's test run, this design will most likely make it into Etsy. The sizes available will be S-M-L, and I'll post more info later.

P.S: Thank you Mary Nanna for expressing an interest in the Maud skirt. I will put more info up on that design as well later.

Made by me Setting up shop

Skirt in progress

Monday, November 02, 2009Johanna / 8 kommentarer

I am working on a new skirt design that might make it into my Etsy store. It's not finished yet and I want to test drive the skirt before I make up my mind. But I do like how it looks. The grey marled fabric is a thick rayon/lycra crepe knit and the lining is made of soft stretch mesh. 

Also I am considering selling the Maud skirt after all. A friend tried on the skirt yesterday and loved it so much that she wanted to buy it. It was also a great confirmation to see that the knit skirt pattern that I have developed works well on a different body type too. The new skirt is made from the same base pattern.

As for how things are going on Etsy I have sold four garments in total (one to a friend though). I am happy with that number, but now the sales have stalled so it is time to put more effort into marketing and product development again. Just need to find the time! 

As for doing business I am still in that fragile state where I tend to feel overwhelmed and worry about a lot of stuff, the last few days for instance I have been fretting over long shipping times, dreading parcels getting held up in customs and wondering if I will be completely crushed if a customer is unhappy with my garment. But it was good therapy focusing on a new skirt design yesterday and having my friend rave about the Maud skirt was definitely another mood booster.


Invisible hemming on knits

Sunday, November 01, 2009Johanna / 6 kommentarer

Today I want to share my favorite method for hemming knits - using the blind stitch hem. This method is neat and sturdy and works for pretty much all knits except very stretchy lycra jerseys. I have hemmed everything from rib knits to thick sweater knits with good results. To get the best result you do need a serger, but it can work without if the knit is stable (like double knits and sweatshirt knits). Serging the edge keeps the fabric from growing, which is especially important when you are working with thin rib knits and interlock fabrics.

First serge the edge with a flatlook seam. Make sure that the tension is high, you don't want the knit to grow. If you don't have a serger, just leave the hem raw.

Fold and press the hem allowance

Cut a snip in the fold to create an even hem.

Press the clipped seam the opposite way.

Fold the hem over and press again.

The hem looks really flat now.

Set up your sewing machine for blind stitch hemming. The thread should match the fabric. Sew the seam making sure the seam is even and that it catches the fabric (but not too much). Also don't stretch the fabric when sewing, as this will distort the hem.

Press the hem.

The stitching will now be close to invisible. And on fluffy sweater fabrics the stitches will be completely hidden. Also the finish on the inside will look really neat too as the flatlook seam hides the blind hem stitches.