Friday, September 13, 2013

Giveaway Time! Shadowlune Mega Pokemon Giveaway - Ended

Hark! The nerd giveaway has ended! The winner is Crystal Porter, entry #333 - followed Tiny Tipis on Instagram. SEE MORE GIVEAWAYS HERE!

For this giveaway you will have a chance to win two handmade Pokemon prizes: a stuffed Ditto Plush and a handmade Pokeball necklace from Christina of Shadowlune.

Shadowlune specializes in nerd and gamer themed novelties. All items are handmade with special care. I asked Christina a few questions about her store and here is what she had to say:

What is your favorite item from your store to make and why?
To be honest I love all my items. Every item I make I put a lot of time and effort. Everything I make is special to me. So asking me which item is my favorite is like asking a parents who is your favorite child is.

Handmade Ditto Plush from Shadowlune
Where or what do you draw your inspiration from?
My Inspiration comes from games and anime. If I see something I like I try to make it. It's even better when I think the item is a challenge. So I design the item in my head and put it together with my hands.

Where do you see Shadowlune 5 years from now?
In five years I still see me doing this. I see me still owning a shop on Etsy. I also still see me being an artist at an event called art walk. My shop might be bigger in five years, my items will better, but you'll still have the same girl. The gamer and anime freak that loves to make her stuff.

How do you stay motivated?
Handmade Pokemon Pokeball Necklace from Shadowlune
I stay motivated by the people and my family. Whenever I see someone smile or get excited because they see something they like that I made keeps me motivated. Come on isn't it great when you make someone smile? My family also keeps me motivated. They are proud of me and the stuff I can do. Because not just anyone can do what I do and stick to it. :)

Tell us a little about the item you are giving away.
The prize for the give away from me will be a Ditto Plush and a Pokeball Necklace. The retail value for this prize is $15 dollars. I want to give this away because I was watching the old Pokemon show and it just came to me. I hope who ever wins them will love them. :)

This giveaway is open worldwide until October 14th, 2013 with easy entry for everyone. Please visit daily for more chances to enter to win! Winner will be contacted by email for their shipping address and will have 48 hours to respond before another winner is chosen. Thanks for reading!

Tiny Tipis LLC makes and sells Artisan Quality Canvas Products. Would you like to see your shop featured or sponsor a giveaway on this blog? Contact me here for details.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Product Review: Earrings from The Tiny Bee

Time for something new on this blog! Time for my first product review! If you love jewelery (and especially handmade jewelry) then you are going to L-O-V-E  love this review. Melissa, of The Tiny Bee, kindly sent me a pair of her yellow Chrysanthemum Earrings to review and I must say - these earrings get a big thumbs up from me! Read on for details on why I love these earrings so much.

First let me say that I sometimes have trouble with earrings. I gauged my ears when I was younger and have saggy holes as a result. These saggy holes tend to droop when I wear heavy earrings. Seeing as the earrings from The Tiny Bee are polymer clay I was a bit worried my ears might droop when I wore them but they didn't! I put a larger back on them and they held firmly against my ears all night. The backs that came with the earrings would work wonderfully if you didn't stretch your ears like I used to - that's my own fault.

The second problem I sometimes have with earrings is when my hair gets caught in them. No one likes the pain that comes from brushing your hair and ripping out an earring. These earrings did not catch my hair once and I wore them to a concert with a mosh pit! I'm surprised at this since I have very fine long hair. It gives me confidence to wear these lovely earrings more often for sure.

The final thing I would like to look at with these earrings is design. Are they beautiful? Check. Are they professional quality? Check. Do I love the color and composition? Double Check! Did I get complimented while wearing them? Check! Will I be wearing them again? YES - and soon!

In summary, I love these earrings. At around $8.00 a pair I think I know one of the stores I'll be looking at during the holiday season. The factors that make these earrings so wonderful in my opinion are that they are affordable, beautiful, made with quality craftsmanship, and of course that they are handmade. I would absolutely recommend The Tiny Bee to all my friends and family.

If you would like to win a pair of these earrings from The Tiny Bee you can enter the giveaway here. Easy entry for everyone! Open Worldwide until September 30th, 2013.

Thanks for reading!

Tiny Tipis LLC makes and sells Artisan Quality Canvas Products. Would you like to see your shop featured or sponsor a giveaway on this blog? Contact me here for details.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Real or Fake?

While mindlessly poking around on the internet today I saw an article about the number of resellers crashing Etsy's Economy and killing to mood for handmade sellers. Stories of handmade artists having their designs and product photos stolen by Chinese Factories can sure make you shudder - especially if you create and sell your items through this online marketplace!

Etsy claims to be a site that fosters handmade. They have thrived on the ideal that everything sold on their site comes from an individual, a person that makes each item with love and care. Yet they have had to create teams of people to police their site for "resellers." If you ask me, I'm positive the Etsy police can't patrol the rip-offs as fast as the Chinese factories can make them.

Alibaba is a wholesale site selling items manufactured in Asian countries. Alibaba is well known among Etsy sellers as a site that fosters resellers and rip-offs. Most stories of Etsy products being mass produced without permission from the artist are linked to an Alibaba listing or twenty. (For those of you wondering what you are supposed to do when intellectual property is stolen by Alibaba, I would direct you to their complaint form. I can't personally speak to the effectiveness of using this form but I would love to hear from anyone who has had experience with this.) Occasionally I make a point to surf the massive site for my items being pawned off at a discount rate. A simple "teepee" search reveals... Alibaba sellers still can't make a real tipi. Let's do a quick comparison.

A Real Tipi Tepee Teepee:

  • Has 13 to14 poles total depending on the tribe making it.
  • Has 3 to 4 poles (again depending on the tribe making it) called "lift poles" that form the base upon which the other poles are added.
  • Is cone shaped with a round footprint. 

The pole structure of an 18 foot Sioux-Cheyenne Tipi. Photo thanks to my wonderful friend M.

  • Is held together with small wooden sticks called lacing pins.  

Lacing Pins being put in during a tipi setup. Photo thanks to M.

  • Is sewn together from very long strips of canvas resulting in beautiful seam lines on the inside. (When laid a flat tipi looks like an imperfect half circle.)

See all the lines? Only a real teepee has awe-inspiring lines like that. Photo thanks to my friend M.

  • Has smoke flaps on the upper front to control the airflow inside the Tipi. These are controlled by two additional poles and secured with ropes from the lower corners to the ground.

Many Thanks to Little Joe of Ahki Tipi for use of this photo.

 Now lets look at a wannabe tepee:

For sale here if you happen to need 50 or more at a time.

  •  No smoke flaps. A strange cap instead...
  • Only 1 steel pole in the center, not 13 or 14 poles. The sides are staked down.
  • No lacing pins.
  • Is Technically a TENT, not a Tipi Tepee Teepee.

What does it have in common with a Tepee though? It is cone shaped and round. It is made from canvas. That's about it.

The problem with these wannabe Teepees (or Cheepie Tipis as a friend of mine calls them) is that they don't have all the strengthening features that a real tepee does making them vulnerable in many ways. Authentic Teepees have reinforcement patches, a time tested structure that is erected and bound in a way that resists strong winds and heavy snow, openings at the top to allow a fire inside without smoking out the people inside, and most importantly - tradition. To me, a real tipi is made by someone who has a great love and appreciation for the history of the tipi and it's people.

This brings me to my closing thoughts. I am proud to make real tipis and pleased that the imitation tipis are so inaccurate and (personal opinion) ugly. I am thankful to have been able to learn my craft despite all the challenges I encountered. Most importantly I am grateful for the friends I have made along this path. Many thanks go out to Maria (the Spanish speaking lady who taught me to sew my first tipi front), Linda Holley (who wrote the most amazing book about Tepees and aided me in producing a historically accurate pattern), Little Joe of Ahki Tipis (who constantly inspires me by making tipis the traditional way taught to him by his grandmother), Marian (who lives and dreams in one of the first Tipis I made and is always the source of a good smile), and my husband (who pushes me to keep reaching for the sky.)  Much love to you all, wado.

Headband Giveaway Winner!

Congratulations to the winner of the Headband Giveaway sponsored by Talila Design.  Jens Ken Lundstrom, entry #210, won by following this blog! The handmade headband is on it's way. 

Catch more giveaways HERE!


If you would like to be interviewed for this blog, sponsor a giveaway, or have a product review done please feel free to contact me here.

Tiny Tipis LLC makes and sells Artisan Quality Canvas Products in addition to blogging.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Giveaway Time! The Tiny Bee

Giveaway Ended - click here for more chances to win!

Do love Handmade Jewelry and Great Accessories? Meet Melissa of The Tiny Bee. She designs, crafts, and sells wonderful polymer clay push pins, stud earrings, coin purses, fabric button magnets, and key chains.

WIN these lovely handmade chrysanthemum earrings below!

I had a few questions for Melissa about her shop. Here is what she said:

What is your favorite item from your store to make and why?
My favorite things to make are the things I'm making for the first time. I love learning so its fun for me to try a new technique, pattern, or design.

Where or what do you draw your inspiration from?
Craft stores are my happy place. I draw a lot of inspiration just from looking at materials and day dreaming about what they could become. I taught myself to sew and work with clay using YouTube
videos and Pinterest tutorials. I apply the lessons from my internet teachers to materials I like and make things that I want to use. That's my basic formula.

Where do you see The Tiny Bee 5 years from now?
I put no limit on where this adventure could take me. I'd love to support myself on The Tiny Bee full time which is my current goal. In 5 years I hope to be saying, "Wow, this is more than I could have ever dreamed of".

How do you stay motivated?
Most importantly, I am very passionate about my business. I have a strong desire to succeed and create. Secondly, I am motivated by my failures. When something isn't working I learn from my mistakes, make the necessary changes, and wait for the results. I find it deeply satisfying and motivating to see improvements when I put in the hard work of editing myself.

Tell us a little about the item you are giving away. 

We are giving away a pair of my yellow polymer clay chrysanthemum earrings. These bright and cheery flower studs retail in my Etsy shop for $8 a pair.

The Tiny Bee is giving away a pair of handmade earrings. Would you like to win these cheerful yellow beauties? Easy entry below. Giveaway is open worldwide from August 30, 2013 to September 30, 2013. The winner will be contacted via email for their shipping address after the contest has ended. Winner will have 48 hours to reply before a new winner will be selected.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


You can find The Tiny Bee on Etsy, Facebook, Twitter, and read the blog here.

Click Here for Other Current Giveaways

Tiny Tipis LLC makes and sells Artisan Quality Canvas Products. Would you like to see your shop featured or sponsor a giveaway on this blog? Contact me here for details.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

We Have a Winner!!!

The winner of the Canvas Market Tote Bag is Trisha Hess!

Thank you to all who participated! Make sure to follow this blog so you don't miss out on chances to enter future Giveaways. If you wish to Sponsor a Giveaway please contact me.

Support Tiny Tipis Handmade Canvas Goods Below:

Monday, August 12, 2013

A Scandalous Internet Scam

Internet Scams are all too common these days. Faceless characters with fake names and what would seem like a fat wallet. I've had to deal with too many of these since opening my company online. Luckily I've learned the signs to recognize a scam. Hopefully my experiences can help others avoid loosing money to these financial gremlins.

August 3rd, 2013: My company receives an email from a man with an alarmingly fake name and poor grammar. He is interested in my products and would like to know where he can buy them online. I kindly email him links to places he can find Tiny Tipis online. I'm already 25% sure this is a scam.

August 6th, 2013: He emails me back stating he would like to purchase 10 of my most expensive items. He needs the price excluding shipping. Now I'm 50% sure it's a scam. Who needs 10 tepees and why is the shipping cost not a concern? Also, the price is listed online - is he so bad at math he couldn't multiply by 10? The more likely option is that this is a scammer who never bothered to click the link and see what a Tiny Tipi is. I email him back with the basic cost and request an address for a shipping quote.

August 12th, 2013: I receive an email from him stating he would like me to contact a freight company he uses. He sends me the shipping address and asks me to let him know what the freight company will charge so he may send me the money and have me pay them upon pickup. Now I'm 99% sure this is a scam. I Google the address and see that the location I am supposed to ship to is a BP Europa Property. Is BP buying Tipis now? I think not. Now I'm really onto him. I Google his fake name and find that the person I am emailing is either dead or not in existence. Now I look at the contact info for the freight company. Another quick Google search turns up a fishy looking page for a company with no contact info to compare to. I politely let him know that my company only ships via USPS or FedEx. He sends me a reply almost instantly saying it has to be his freight company with copied and pasted text from the previous email. I politely decline to use any other courier and have yet to hear back again.

Here are things that immediately send up a red flag for me:

- A customer wanting to take care of the shipment details. If I buy something on Amazon do you think I waste a second thought on who or how it is being shipped? No. I care about the cost and how quickly it will arrive. I don't try to hire my own shipping company.

- A name that just sounds fake. If you can't Google it and find traces of a real person with a real life they probably don't exist. Everyone and their grandma has a Facebook or email these days. If it's a real person chances are you will find them.

- The address goes to an industrial area. My company provides consumer products, not industrial materials. I expect most of my sales to be shipped to a house or apartment.

- A complete disregard for the cost. Most people care how much they spend. If you were going to fork out several hundred dollars (or in this guy's case almost $15,000) wouldn't you have questions about the product? I know I try to make my descriptions as detailed as possible but I would still expect some conversation to be needed on such a large purchase.

- Poor grammar or English. At several points in the email conversation the "customer" refers to my product in terms of Units. "I would like to order the units." Who calls a tipi a unit? No one! People call them Native American Lodges, Tipis, Tepees, Teepees, Native Dwellings... not "units."

- Requesting a Wire Transfer because they sent too much money. While this didn't happen in the current incident I have seen it before. One of the first scam attempts I avoided I recieved a check for nearly 4x the cost of the item. The customer basically said "Oops I sent to much. Wire transfer the extra back to me and keep a little extra for yourself." Yeah, fat chance. I don't ship until every penny is in my account and cleared. A "pending" transaction can be canceled or pulled leaving you with a negative balance if you already withdrew some of that.

Tips to keep yourself safe:

- Only sell through an online venue such as Etsy, Storenvy, Zibbet, ArtFire, or other similar sites that offer addition protection for both seller and consumer.

- Clearly state that products do not ship until payment has FULLY cleared. Do not ship if payment is still "Pending." If you cannot physically hold the money in your hands the item should not ship yet.

- Ship large items or orders you are nervous about with tracking and signature confirmation. Get insurance on it. Keep all receipts so that if something goes wrong you have a way to prove your side.

- Keep a separate bank account that sites like PayPal do not have access to. Transfer the money without linking to this separate bank account so that PayPal and other payment processing sites don't have the ability to tap into that. If everything is linked they will take what they feel you owe them and leave you wondering how you went wrong.

- Google it... Bing it... Yahoo Search it... Just make sure you get the full story on anything that seems fishy.

- Follow your gut. If it seems to good to be true or too easy... it probably is. Nothing in life is easy.

Have you had scammers attempt to rip you off? How did you know it was a scam and what did you do to avoid it? Leave a comment below to share your experience with others.

Tiny Tipis provides high quality canvas products and custom sewing services. This article is written to inform others of my own experiences and should in no way be taken as professional legal or financial advice. Find out more about Tiny Tipis by checking out the links below:

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Giveaway Time! Bridal Headband just for You!

  Win a Gorgeous Bridal Hair Piece from Talila Design!

Visit Website

  This Giveaway has ENDED.  See more here.

You may be getting married soon, going to prom, or just looking for that special item to compliment an outfit. Look no further. Talila Design hand crafts unique jewelery and accessories for the bride-to-be. Of course, I think the princess in all of us can appreciate her beautiful pieces as well. Hop on over to her Etsy shop to peruse all the wonderful items and when your done don't forget to Enter to Win the lovely headband shown above. This Giveaway is open worldwide with FREE Shipping - more than a $20 value! Visit daily for more chances to win!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Winner will be contacted by email for their shipping information. Winners are randomly selected by Rafflecopter and will have 48 hours to respond before a different winner will be selected. Giveaway ends August 31, 2013.

Isn't she lovely with a classy Bridal headband?

Want more chances to win? Follow this blog to keep up with all the best Giveaways by Handmade Artists.  

Talila enjoying time spent working.

Other Current Giveaways:

Check back soon for the next Giveaway!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Giveaway Time!!! Win a FREE Tote Bag!

Win a free Market Tote from Tiny Tipis! Easy entry for everyone! (Giveaway now CLOSED)

FREE shipping is included for all US fans.
Share with your friends for more chances to enter!
Come back every day for more chances to win!

Want more chances to win? Other Current Giveaways:
Bridal / Prom Handmade Headband

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

A Good Day for Roses

Roses and Canvas
I had a friend from High School drop by the other day. She noticed my roses in front were blooming and asked if she could have some. Of course I said yes.

Emily modeling a Tiny Tipis Canvas Bag
  Seeing as I didn't have a vase handy I decided to have her put her bouquet in one of my canvas bags. Hey, if it works for fresh produce why not fresh roses, right?

Fresh cut red rose being kept safe in a Tiny Tipis Market Bag
 She couldn't have picked a better day to come see me. All the rose bushes were in bloom and her yellow dress really complimented the colors.

The Tiny Tipis 10 ounce Canvas Grocery Bag even keeps flowers fresh until you get home!
Thorns aside, I think she really enjoyed getting to pick her own roses.

Emily smelling a fresh cut rose before she puts it in her new Handbag
 Even though the flowers were contained in the Canvas Tote the lovely smell was not. I wonder how long her new bag will smell like roses.

Roses just peeking out of the bag.
 Look at the smile on her face! I'm not sure what I like better, seeing someone put one of my bags to good use or enjoying my roses.

Home Grown Roses in a Tiny Tipis Canvas Bag
She grabbed a few more after I snapped this pic. I think if I let her know when the next bloom cycle comes along I'll be seeing her again.  :)

You can buy your own Tiny Tipis Canvas Bag and use it to store and carry just about anything. Sorry, roses not included.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

To Dye For

Select your color here.


Tiny Tipis has listed more colors of Vegetable and Produce Dyed Bags for your visual consumption. These all natural bags will last longer than store bought canvas bags and they boast a wide variety of colors that can only be found in nature. No two bags are alike making them a true natural tie-dye.

Read about Tiny Tipis first event here.

 Hand Painted Designs are available at your request. Custom orders welcome. Get noticed carrying a Tiny Tipis Dyed Bag!!!

Dyed with all natural Vegetable and Produce Based Dyes

Every Tiny Tipis Dyed Bag is unique.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Festival Lessons

I recently attended Territory Days in Colorado Springs with my company. There are things I will do differently and things I will do the same at my next event.

My Top Changes:
1) Get a white tent and make my own walls. A blue top is nice for shade but uninviting for customers as it lets less light in.
2) I need more displays. As the Mayor of Territory Days said... I need a hooker. Something that hooks peoples attention and draws them into my booth. My mini tipi worked ok but next time I'm planning bigger.
3) Be loud. I've already booked a friend with a loud booming voice to recite a short spiel about my products in order to draw people in from further away.

My Top Successes:
1) Saying "Hello" to everyone within earshot that made eye contact.
2) Smiling... ALL DAY. Think of your booth as a stage, face the audience and put on a happy face. It makes you and your products more inviting.
3) Know your products. Saying "um" before you answer a question makes you seem like you don't know what you're doing and could cost you sales.
4) Network. Even if you aren't making as many sales as you want you can make the best of an event by talking with other vendors, coordinators, and such. This simple act may allow me to attend the same event next year for $200 less. I also got invitations to 4 other events in my area because of this.
5) Show your enthusiasm for what you do. Not only does it show your level of commitment but it is rewarding beyond description when you meet a person that sees your vision and shares in your excitement.
6) Be polite even when someone is rude to you. I was told at this event that I should not be doing what I do (making Tipis Tepees Teepees) because I am a woman. A man told me that a woman's job is to set up the Tipi not make them. As insulting as it may be I was polite and kind to the rather interesting fellow - the history of some tribes is that even though we do not live in the days of old. As he walked away I tried to find one thing to appreciate him for so our mood killing chat wouldn't affect the rest of my day or my sales. I came to the conclusion that he had very pretty hair and went about my day as normal. For anyone who thinks this old tradition should still be followed I will add that the majority of Tipi Manufacturers, even if male owned, are female operated with the sewing being done by women.

You win some, you loose some. All you can do is keep trying. Focus on the positive to keep you upbeat and think of how you will change the negative. Just don't give up.

What are your experiences with events and festivals? Did you have a tactic that worked wonders for you or something that you now know was a really bad idea?

Read the Tiny Tipis Blog
Get Inspired by Tiny Tipis on Pinterest
See the Tiny Tipis Videos on YouTube

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Hiking Around Colorado

aspen tree budding
Aspen trees just starting to bud.

I played with a new camera while hiking around Colorado the other day. I must say I was pleased with the resulting shots. Canon Rebel T4i with a Telephoto lens. Hope you enjoy!

heart rock nature
Heart on a rock
nature stump rock formation  log water pond
dead tree photographypine tree nature photography

snow falling
Snow falling


Friday, April 19, 2013

Giveaway Winner and Territory Days Debut

Tiny Tipis is going to Territory Days!

A big thank you to everyone who entered the giveaway and Hello to all my new readers! The giveaway brought in new fans from around the world and earned one lucky person a Tiny Tipis All Natural Hand Dyed Market Tote. If you missed this chance to win FREE Tiny Tipis products keep reading - there will be more opportunities in the future! Many Thanks to Created By Laurie for Hosting the Giveaway.  :)

Tiny Tipis is glad to announce our upcoming debut at Territory Days in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Territory Days is one of the largest festivals held every year in the Springs. We are excited to be attending our first event as a vendor and hope to see you there! Attendance is FREE with lots of things to do, shows to see, and shops to check out!

Read the Tiny Tipis Blog
Get Inspired by Tiny Tipis on Pinterest
See the Tiny Tipis Videos on YouTube

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Tiny Cat House Tipi Tepee Teepees

Cat House Tipi

Our first pictures from a customer are in! Many thanks to David, the owner of Elvis and Pocahontas, for his purrrrrfect photos. The two retired Abyssinian Show Cats reportedly enjoy lounging in their Tipi between rounds of play. These happy cats are proud to be owners of a Tiny Tipis brand Tipi Tepee Teepee!

 Tiny Tipis is a small handmade company providing environmentally friendly products to help customers reduce their carbon footprint. We focus on using high quality materials with attention to detail and running our company as close to zero waste as we possibly can. All shipping materials are recyclable, compostable, and/or biodegradable. See more of what Tiny Tipis does for our planet at any of the links below: 

 Thank you for being environmentally responsible!!!

Saturday, April 6, 2013


Hand-Dyed Market Tote by Tiny Tipis

Win a FREE market tote from Tiny Tipis! Giveaway open worldwide with FREE shipping included. Rose colored Hand Dyed, all natural, and handmade - this is a $45 value. See the Created By Laurie Blog for Easy Entry and more details. Giveaway ends April 19, 2013

Read more about Tiny Tipis
SHOP Tiny Tipis on Etsy
Like Tiny Tipis on Facebook
Follow Tiny Tipis on Pinterest
BUY Tiny Tipis on Zibbet

Thursday, March 7, 2013

To Dye For

 I love Natural Dyes. It's a recent thing. Maybe even a new obsession. The smell, the variety, the mystery of what will I get this time?... It makes my heart go pitter-patter.

Canvas Market Tote in Rose
When I was in 1st grade I sat next to a boy named Wesley. Other kids made fun of us. We didn't care. We used to sharpen our colored pencils together with a common interest in the resulting color of the shavings.  Somehow, for some strange reason, it made us happy. Wesley and I bonded over the simple pleasure. 

I haven't seen Wesley since 1st grade but I still think of him when I mix colors. The child-like eagerness to experiment comes back in the blink of an eye. I wash my soul in the colored water and it gives back to me the vibrant joy I seek.

Only Nature makes colors like this...

You can purchase a piece of my soul if you like. It comes in the form of a soft hand dyed market tote that will serve you well for a long time. I guarantee it is made with all the love and care one can put into it.

Monday, March 4, 2013

DIY - How to Make a Pattern from a Sketch

How to make a sewing pattern from an idea or sketch - Step by step Tutorial with Pictures

One of the most essential skills of sewing is being able to make your own pattern from an idea. In this post I will take you through the basic steps involved in creating your own pattern from a sketch. This tutorial will be best if you are an intermediate to advanced seamstress.

The original idea I had for a fun yet responsible looking shirt

Sometimes the idea comes first and the fabric must be sought out, other times I see certain fabrics that scream "MAKE ME INTO SOMETHING AMAZING!!!" Either way you need to start out with a loose plan. I sketched out an idea I had for a professional looking yet fun top as my first step. When drawing the idea I thought about things like shape and the way the fabric might fit after being sewn. All patterns are basic geometric shapes. Keep that in mind when you create your drawing. Also remember to be flexible, especial on your first few attempts to do this. My shirt varied slightly from my plan because I changed small things as I went in order to save time or simplify certain steps.

Old Men's Dress Shirts before being upcycled into a sexy Woman's business shirt.

 My next step was to pick the fabric that would become my top. I had saved several of my grandfather's old dress shirts when he passed away thinking that I could re-purpose them later. I chose Grey, Pink, and a fancy white and silver one. The combination of colors reminded me of a tie my husband had from probably before I was born that would work well with the theme of my shirt: responsible yet sexy.

Old Sports Bra being recycled to make a sewing pattern.

Now that I had all my supplies gathered it was time to start making my one dimensional drawing into a pattern that would create a three dimensional object. A very easy way to start is to choose an old article of clothing with a similar fit to what you want that you don't mind chopping up. I saved this sports bra with stains and holes for this purpose. I put the bra on and decided where I wanted the seams to be in the chest area. I then marked exactly where those seams would be with a sharpie. I took the bra off and chopped along the lines. The resulting bits and pieces are what I would later use to make the actual pattern. (Yes, this bra is just a precursor to the actual pattern.)

To make the official pattern I laid the cut up bra pieces on top of some junk mail and traced around them making sure to leave 1/4" to 1/2" inch of extra space around the edge for seam allowance and/or hemming. This only gave me the pattern for the bust of the shirt though. To design the body of the shirt I matched the waist pieces to the bust parts so they were the same width. I decided length by measuring from the bottom of where the bust would be to the place I wanted the bottom hem to lay around my hips. I then added seam allowance where needed. To get the shape of the sides I simply drew a rectangle that matched up to the width of the side bust piece and the length of the center body piece. I then trimmed it to look like an hourglass shape. If the hourglass isn't perfectly shaped for your body don't worry too much. There are ways to take it in later that will save frustration and brain cells. It just needs to be close to correct at this point (error on the side of too large.)

Lay your pattern on a flat surface in the way that it will be sewn together. This will allow you to see if there are any big mistakes before you cut into fabric. When you are sure it looks like what you want transfer your pattern onto the fabric you intend to use. If you are worried about mistakes or wasting expensive fabric I suggest buying some muslin or linen to make a tester.

At this point you will need to decide what order to sew the parts in. Think about what will fit easily on your machine without a lot of bunching in the arm. Also consider where the various seams will join up. There's almost nothing worse than a seam that doesn't line up right. For the shirt I made as an example I joined the upper and lower parts first, then sewed the vertical panels together. I hemmed everything after joining so that they were all a consistent size. I did some decorative top-stitching on the gray panels at this point to make the shirt lay nicer when worn and because it makes the seams more sturdy.

My last step was to attach an old men's tie I was going to reuse for the straps. I had my hubby help me with this because it was late at night, I was getting lazy, and my girl friend was on her way to pick me up so we could go out ( I really wanted to wear this.) I sewed the small end of the tie where I wanted it to hold up the front and threw the extra over my shoulder. I told my hubby to snip the tie parallel to the upper back hem of the blouse and to leave me at least half an inch for the seam. The second strap was easier - I sewed the snipped portion of the tie opposite the other strap on the back, threw on the shirt, and marked where the excess portion of the tie fell on the front. I then took the shirt off and sewed the fat part of the tie in a decorative manner on the front. Voila! A brand new and completely unique piece of clothing for me to wear!

I tried the shirt on and noticed that there was extra space in the waist area. This is the simple fix I was telling you about: Mark with straight pins or a light pencil mark how much extra room there is in the areas needing adjusting. Turn the clothing inside out and add another row of stitches further in where you marked. Turn right side out and try on again. Repeat this step if needed - I had to take the shirt in twice after I finished it. I have since altered my pattern to save me this trouble if I ever make this shirt again.

If you are having problems with a pattern take a deep breath and remember to reduce all of it to simple shapes. It's just geometry wrapped around your body.

Thanks for reading! For more DIY articles by Tiny Tipis click here.

 Tiny Tipis is a small handmade company providing environmentally friendly products to help customers reduce their carbon footprint. We focus on using high quality materials with attention to detail and running our company as close to zero waste as we possibly can. All shipping materials are recyclable, compostable, and/or biodegradable. See more of what Tiny Tipis does for our planet at any of the links below: 

 Thank you for being environmentally responsible!!!

Friday, March 1, 2013

Featuring Tanuki Jewlery

 Occasionally you find an artist that clearly creates from the soul. Their work is such a part of them you aren't sure where the artist ends and the masterpiece starts as they seam to merge as one. Today I would like to share with you a jeweler who creates art from metal in a most elegant way.

Vanessa O of Tanuki Jewelery has a passion for simple beauty one could say. Her work draws inspiration from her surroundings taking note of the textures, shapes, and current fashion trends. Utilizing techniques such as wax carving, casting, stamping, soldering, stretching, and metal manipulation Vanessa is able to create unique jewelery with pure sophistication.

When asked to tell us a little about herself here is what Vanessa had to say:

     "I am a traveler, photographer, crafter, and jewelry maker.  I am in love with things DIY, and had always wanted to make my own jewelry.  I took some courses on wax carving, and metalsmithing and fell in love.  I take inspiration from every day shapes, my travels, and street fashion.  All my items are handmade with love, and are meant to wear as simple every day jewelry, that can also grab attention from your friends!"

Vanessa is a lover of all things handmade and enjoys the care put into handmade items. Browse through the collection of delicate items she has created for you on her Etsy store or follow her on Twitter to keep up with her newest pieces.

Remember there's never a better time to buy than when there is a discount! Vanessa has kindly offered free domestic shipping in the US for the month of March 2013 to all Tiny Tipis blog readers. Use code "TINYTIPISFREESHIP" at checkout.

Thanks for reading! To see our other featured artists click here.

This feature brought to you by Tiny Tipis.
Learn about Recycled Urban Gardening on the other Tiny Tipis Blog
Like to see your shop featured here?   Contact Tiny Tipis today for details.