Friday, April 22, 2011

Shirtmaking with Johanne Brousseau - in Brampton June 17 & 18

I was delighted with the number of people who attended my fashion / trunk show on Shirts, etc. at the Spring Creativ Festival last weekend. And I was also pleased with the positive feedback I received.Now you have the opportunity to learn how to do it first hand.

Johanne Brousseau is an experienced and delightful teacher who is also a Certified Islander Sewing Systems Instructor and she will be teaching Shirtmaking at the Brampton Sew n Serge on June 17 & June 18, 2011.

Shirtmaking is a fabulous skill to have and once you are comfortable, you can easily sew a tailored shirt in a day. The bonus is that the skills you develop while making a very handsome shirt will happily translate to greater success in all of your sewing projects. The industrial shortcuts you will learn in this course include fine topstitching, lined back yoke with no handstitching, attach a sleeve with no gathering or pinning, and attach a professional looking collar band, collar, plackets and cuffs! Once you know the secrets you will never shy away from sewing shirts and blouses.

Phone Brampton Sew N Serge, 905 874 1564 for details and to register.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Canadians pay up to 20% more than Americans for the same goods

It's been on the news lately that with the Canadian dollar hanging around par, why are we paying so much more for the same goods here in Canada.

As an online retailer, I am painfully aware that it's pretty easy for people to compare prices and shop south of the border. There are quite a few challenges to Canadian retailers in the the fabric business.

One of them is that there are very few manufacturers of fabrics and textiles in Canada. So retailers often turn to the U.S. for suppliers. These same suppliers often give exclusive distribution rights to Canadian companies. These companies in turn have to pay brokerage, duties and shipping charges that can be very high. In addition, they have to warehouse materials, hire staff etc. So they have to increase the price of goods to the Canadian retailer. The same goods if bought by an American online retailer will be up to 50% less than what the Canadian retailer pays and therefore they have to charge more. But the Canadian buyer sitting on their computer can order the same goods at about 40% cheaper from an American retailer. They have to pay the shipping and HST when the goods arrive.

Here is a link to an article about the matter:

As one comment points out, we have different labour laws, higher taxes and shipping costs. The U.S. postal rates are often much lower for comparable Canadian services. Retailers here have to absorb those costs.

Ultimately the consumer will decide what they want to do.  For example, I don't shop at Walmart here in Canada because I don't agree with their labour and supplier policies. However, clearly a lot of shoppers do because their stores are all over the place.

Also there are really weird Canadian import laws. For example, if I import a fabric directly from what would be considered a third world country, like say Indonesia, I don't pay duties on that fabric. Of course sales taxes would apply, brokerage fees and shipping charges would be higher than say importing from the U.S. Now if I purchase that same fabric from a supplier in the U.S., because it comes through another country first, I have to pay 14% to 16% duties, plus the brokerage fees, taxes and shipping. The U.S. retailer will not have the duties, brokerage to pay and shipping within the U.S. is much cheaper than shipping cross border or even within Canada.

Having said all the above, if you are one of my customers, you will know that I have been charging prices at par or close to par on most of my products. Folkwear patterns have been sold at par for over three years now. Modular Design patterns with Kayla Kennington have been at par since I started carrying them even when the dollar went down to 75 cents. Ouch! Same with Revisions and Lois Ericson patterns, the Bali Collection and so forth.

There's not a whole lot I can do about shipping. I only charge you what Canada Post charges me. For example, it costs an American 75 cents to send a letter to me but I pay $1.03 to send a letter to an American.

I do my best to charge a fair price and attract business from both Canadians and Americans. I know there are always going to be challenges. But I am happy to be a Canadian and living in Canada. The best I can hope for is that my customers will consider my business when they purchase online.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Riviera Shirt - Drapey Rayon - The Sewing Workshop Collection

This is the Riviera Shirt in a fuschia Princess Mirah batik rayon and a solid black rayon from Island Batik. Again, I have combined the fabrics to create a balanced look. This shirt would look great with a long slender black skirt or tapered pants.

Riviera Shirt - Linen Blend - The Sewing Workshop Collection

The trick with mixing fabrics is to avoid the "plop art" look. You know, the look that someone just plopped a piece of fabric or embellishment on the garment. This is often seen in RTW where the front of a top is embellished but the back is plain as if no one is going to see you from behind!

With the Riviera Shirt pictured here the black and white print is used on the right front, around the collar band and collar and then again on the left sleeve. This creates balance but also is much more effective than just doing the collar or just the right front.

This is an asymmetrical, very loose fitting shirt with a traditional collar band and collar. The sleeves are rather long for me so I had to shorten by about 2". The diagonal front and left side slit create additional style.

Christine Jonson Swing Shirt #505

Well, I risked it. Sewing under pressure a new pattern for the upcoming Creative Festival. The Swing Shirt is my kind of shirt. Since my hips seem to be on a campaign to outgrow all other body parts in size, styles with ample room in this area are my now my friends. And I don't want to look like a tent either.

This shirt hangs straight in the front for a welcomed lengthening effect. The collar can be worn open or buttoned up and the drop shoulders mean no special fitting required (a blessing for us narrow shouldered people). The sleeves are very narrow at the wrist so they can be pushed up; another nice feature for the short-armed.

The scariest part was making it in a lovely drapey rayon spandex knit. Not being that familiar with sewing knits, I was somewhat concerned. However, it all went together beautifully and looks very becoming on the body. This is going to be a favourite.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Creativ Festival Coming Up Fast!

Riviera Shirt
Yes, we all procrastinate (well maybe not all but I have it on good authority that many of us do). And that would be why I am sewing up a storm here in my studio in preparation for the daily Shirtmaking Fashion and Trunk Show at the Creativ Festival April 15 and 16, 2011.

I have completed several shirts already from Islander Sewing Systems. I even recovered from my teenage daughter the Easy Shirt with hood that went AWOL last fall for several months. That is testimony to the fact that your teenager will wear what you sew if get the right combination of fabric and style.

I am particularly pleased with the Victorian Shirt, a Folkwear shirt pattern with bib, collar stand, yoke and cuffs. It went together perfectly and in crisp white cotton/linen is wow!

Now on to the Riviera Shirt from The Sewing Workshop Collection. This pattern has been around for several years now and I have made it many times in linen and drapey rayon. My newest creation is from a fuschia and black Princess Mirah batik rayon and Island Batik solid black rayon. This shirt has a collar band and collar, drop shoulders and is finished cleanly with faux flat-felled seams.

Back to the sewing machine!