Custom Work

Over the summer I opened an Etsy shop. Kind of scary because it means putting yourself out there and hoping that someone likes your work enough to buy it. So far it is going well.  I have sold a number of items, certainly not enough to make any sort of living, but enough to make it rewarding. It feels good to have someone look at an item I created and purchase it. Also for some reason, I get a kick out of knowing that I am shipping something I made to someone in another part of the country. I have sent things to South Carolina, Alaska, Oregon, New York, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Florida and Virginia. This week I received an Etsy email from a woman telling me that an item I made was on her sister’s Christmas List. I loved that! The same item had sold the day before I received the email. Luckily I had enough fabric to duplicate it and it was simple item. It felt great to make my customer happy.

Over the past two weeks I had two requests for custom orders. I have been making cozies for Chemex coffee pots and sold a number of them as Christmas gifts through Etsy. The first custom request I got was from a woman who wanted me to make one for her using her fabric. She had a gorgeous African Ankara fabric that she thought would work. We chatted back and forth a bit and she sent me a picture of the fabric. Seemed like a good idea so we came to an agreement and she mailed the fabric to me.

It turned out so pretty. She is gifting this to her sister for the holidays. (Excuse the horribly wrinkled sheet that was used as a backdrop! I mailed off the project before looking at this picture. Ick!)

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It was a great surprise to see how the green pattern matched so well where it joins with the buttons. Totally happened by chance as I didn’t think to check that when I was cutting. I was more concerned with how to fit the most of that bold blue and purple stripe in the piece. I got lucky!

20141202_2284I had these pretty a brass buttons that added nice touch. I quilted it along the white lines that delineate the pattern. Overall, a good finish. The best thing is now I have some experience with Ankara fabric and plan to buy more. Ankara fabric actually originated  with the Dutch. It was made with the intent to be sold in Indonesia but quickly gained popularity in West Africa. It is a very dramatic use of bold colors and prints and is usually made with 100% cotton fabric. The piece that I worked with washed well and was easy to sew on.

The second custom order came around as a result of a request from a woman in Pennsylvania. She wrote me and said that she liked my work but wanting to gift a Chemex cozy to her guy, she hoped for something less feminine. This forced me to take a look at the fabric choices I have been making and yep, most are rather feminine. It is interesting because when I make a new Chemex jacket to put up on Etsy, I always post it on Instagram with various hashtags. I get a pretty good response and guess what, they are predominantly male responses. But those responses haven’t led to sales on Etsy. It follows that I might be more successful in that market with some covers that are less floral! My customer specifically asked for denim, twill or flannel. This is what I came up with.

The denim is from my husband’s massive pile of old levi’s. The flannel is actually a piece leftover from pj’s that I made for my boys about ten years ago. Talk about lucky, I didn’t even have to make a run to the store!photo denim-crop

photo 4The buttons were purchased in Lancaster, PA during my amazing fabric hunt in Amish country. (That trip was a blast and you can read about it here.)

photo 2It was a win for the customer and some new perspective for me. Question of the day: If you are selling product on Etsy, do you charge extra for a custom order? In these two instances, I did not. The items were ones that I make regularly, the customer just wanted me to use a certain fabric. However, it does mean setting aside my current project and sewing something different for each of these customers. I am not sure and would love to hear what others are doing.

As an aside, I am loving the comments I have received on my post about the giveaway for Sew Mama Sew. What a sweet group of comments. Today is the last day for the giveaway so if you want to join in, check out this post.

Enjoy your weekend!  Linking to Let’s Bee Social and Crazy Mom Quilts. Find these links and more, at the top of the page under Link-Ups.  (That sounds like a commercial!)

14 thoughts on “Custom Work

  1. Lorna McMahon

    Oh, Bernie! I am so happy things are going so well for you in your Etsy sales. Those warmers are such a unique item. Loved reading about your reflections on the whole thing. I think you should charge a little more for a custom order. You make some valid points!

    Reply
    1. Bernie Post author

      Thank you! This is all new to me so it is helpful to get others input. After the holidays I need to make a plan for both pricing my items and what items I want to focus on selling in the shop. Take care Lorna.

      Reply
  2. Mari

    Lovely cozies! Almost makes me wish I drank coffee. Glad your shop is going well too. Hope you are not sliding away in all the rain!

    Reply
    1. Bernie Post author

      It got a little bit swampy in the yard yesterday but really we are loving this storm. We got over 3
      inches yesterday and they are calling for more this coming week! Yay!

      …….so you must be a tea drinker?

      Reply
      1. Mari

        Oh yes. I love the smell of coffee but never learned to like the taste. Not even in graduate school! And I’m pretty sensitive to caffeine, too, so it would never have worked well for me.

        Glad you’re loving the rain! Hope it stays manageable!

        Reply
  3. JanineMarie

    Your cozies are like little works of art that go great with such an artistic looking coffee maker. I’m not a coffee drinker (although I love the aroma), but I can see the appeal to those who are. I think you’ve hit on just the right kind of unique item for an Etsy store. Congrats on your success!

    Reply
    1. Bernie Post author

      Hi – I am so flattered by your kind words Janine. Thank you! Sometimes I think the wonderful smell of coffee is half of the joy in it. Hope you ar enjoying the holiday season. Take care!
      — Bernie

      Reply
  4. Mara

    I think you are very brave for opening an Etsy store and I am happy that you are making sales, that is a wonderful thing. Have you heard of Creativelive? they do videos about selling on Instagram, I watched it for free, to watch it now would cost money, but they do live classes that are free. I think you should charge a little extra for custom work, but not much especially if you already have the fabric, but if you have to go out and buy or make a special trip to a store to get your supplies then that should be reflected in the price. You should see if hashtag upcycle would work with the jean cozy.

    Reply
    1. Bernie Post author

      Hi Mara, thanks for your input. I haven’t heard of CreativeLive. It’s always so helpful to get suggestions from others – I will check this out. Also going over to IG to add the upcycle hashtag. Enjoy your day!

      Take care,
      Bernie

      Reply
  5. Sandra

    Okay, clearly I live under a rock (or a pile of quilts ha) because I have never heard of a Chemex coffee pot…love the covers, love the denim/pj flannel one too!

    Reply
    1. Bernie Post author

      I love coffee Sandra and am always in search of the best way to brew it. Consequently, my kitchen has so many coffee gadgets – regular coffee drip, Keurig machine, Pour over filter, Chemex, French Press… It is ridiculous. I love them all tho. Glad you like the covers! They are fun to make.

      So glad you stopped by.

      Take care,
      Bernie

      Reply

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