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SewForward: Creative Crossroads Newsletter April 2021


SewForward is a cut and sew studio providing high quality small batch manufacturing, while providing job training and employment opportunities for people facing difficulty in the workforce. SewForward is part of the East End Cooperative Ministry.

SewForward loves to help small businesses grow. Our monthly newsletter, Creative Crossroads, provides tips to help you improve your business.

In This Issue We Explore:

  • Sewing Tip

    • How to easily hem a curve.

  • Label Your Product

    • Are you losing repeat customers because they can't find you?

  • Mise en Place

    • Get everything in place before you start your project.


Sewing Tip: Easily Hem a Curve

If you've ever tried to iron in any size hem on a curved item such as a skirt or bell sleeve, you'll know this is an effort in frustration. The fabric won't fold cleanly and ends up with puckers and folds. But, there is an easier way to hem a curve; add a bias cut facing. Once this is sewn onto your hem it will fold and sew like a straight hem. It may seem like an extra step, but the ease of using this type of hem on a curve far outweighs the extra minutes it may take to sew it on.


Label Your Product

A recent Facebook post went something like this; “Hey everyone, I bought this turtle necklace a couple years ago at a craft show and want to buy a new one. Does anyone know who made this?” The answers were all no, but many comments about how cute it was. I still don’t know who made that turtle, but I do know that maker just lost a returning customer and several potential new sales.

Many makers, especially those who sell at art and craft shows, they think that the sell/price tags hanging on their products is enough of an identifier of their business. Unfortunately, it’s not. What’s the very first thing you do when you get home with something you just bought? You rip the price tag off and throw it away. If you’re a maker, you should find a way to add a

permanent reminder of your business to every product you sell.

Do you sell framed art; add your business name and website to the back of the frame. Unframed, add it to the back of every piece you sell. Ceramics; stamp it on the bottom of every piece. What about those who sew; a small tag on the outside or even inside your product. (If you are sewing clothes, there are government guidelines to labeling your items). Even wreath makers can find a way to add a nametag to the back of the wreath.

Some makers think their items are too small to have a label. But, even the thinnest necklace can have a small metal stamped tag on the clasp. Take the example of high-end costume jewelry brand, Trifari. Their products are having a resurgence in the vintage jewelry market on Etsy and EBay. There is never any question if the piece is Trifari, because even the smallest earrings have their stamp on them.

Every item that leaves your workshop should have as much identifying information on it as possible. Besides your business name and logo, if you have the room, add your website address. Your logo is part of your brand recognition so don’t be like the turtle necklace maker, know that someone can still find your business 3 years later.


Mise En Place

Mise en place is a French cooking term, that means you should have all your ingredients and tools gathered and prepared before you start cooking. The literal translation is “everything in its place.” If you find you are scrambling for supplies in the middle of a project or jump up to cut something, while you should be sewing, following mise en place to run your business may be for you.

Have you ever received a job, given your client an estimated completion date, and then discovered your fabric was on an eight-week backorder? Don't wait until a week before you should be working on a project to order supplies. Instead, as soon as you receive a deposit for a job start calling your vendors to find out availability for product. If you aren’t ready to order that day, ask if they will put a hold on the item and for how long. If you’re ordering a custom item, find out what their turn-around is and add at least a week to that for shipping or other delays.

Not all jobs require project specific supplies and we should check our general supply inventory at least a week before starting any job. Thread, needles, glue, and staples are all items used every day for projects. We don’t usually think about how much we have left until we are in the middle of working and have suddenly run out. Keep a solid inventory of all your basic supplies and order more when have used about half, rather than waiting until they are gone.

It’s also helpful to check all your tools prior to a project and make sure nothing is broken. Sew scraps of fabric to check your machine tension. Heat up your glue gun, check the blade on your cutter, or turn on your air compressor. Hand tools tend to travel and will need to be collected. Look for your scissors, needles, pattern paper, and rulers and put them all in one place.

Finally, if there’s anything you can prepare ahead of time like winding bobbins, pre-threading needles, cutting bias strips and zippers, assemble them now. You can do multiple projects at a time, put each one in a labeled zip top bag and pull it out when you are ready to get started.

Some businesses say they don’t have time to prepare ahead of time for their project; they just need to get started. But, the half hour you spend getting ready for a project can save you hours of frustration, unhappy customers, and lost production time. So, mise en place your business and increase your production and your profit.


About the Author:

Sydney Hardiman is the Sewing Program Manager for SewForward, EECM's Cut and Sew Studio and workforce development program. She has over 20 years of experience in the design industry and is the author of over 50 articles about interior design.

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