stumped

So I got these lovely fabrics the other day, but I’m not quite sure what to do with them! The chevron and the polka dot are from the Michael Miller “Glitz” collection, and the birds are by Violet Craft from their “Brambleberry” collection.  I originally purchased them thinking they would coordinate well together as little cosmetics bags, but now I think I should try something new.

Perhaps one of my cats have a great idea for me?

Or maybe my fellow sewing enthusiasts might care to share an idea? :)

My Experience With ThredUP.com

Today marks the finalization of a transaction between ThredUP.com and me.  If you’ve never heard of ThredUP, it is one of many websites trending with the online-consignment-shop concept that you can send them your gently used clothing and have them buy these pieces off you for a fraction of the price they’re going to sell them for on the website – meaning that you can also shop a vast selection of clothing that their team has selected from other people like you.

I hadn’t heard anything about other users’ experience with the website before, so I decided to take a gamble and try their “closet clean-out service” since I had a lot of clothing – some of which I’d only worn less than a handful of times or not at all – that could be better off in a new home.  So, I requested their big green polka-dot bag, which they ship to you for free.  It is a giant bag that you use to stuff to the brim, and then drop off at Fed Ex (they’ve already got the shipping covered for you).  I dropped off my clothing early December of last year, and they sent me a notification saying that they received my bag on December 18, 2013.

That’s when I began to feel frustrated.  They send me a few e-mail notifications claiming that they had a large volume of bags to go through since the interest and use in their service had dramatically increased suddenly, but that I could still expect to receive a pay-out by January 22, 2014.  So, I shrugged it off – nothing much I could do about it.  I waited until January 23 to e-mail them when I did not see a payment in my account. I e-mailed customer service to inquire about the status of my bag.  The response was that there was an item delaying the process, but that they would try to push it into processing so that I could receive my payout, and that they would get back to me when they received an update.

I waited five days. By then, I was getting extremely frustrated and was becoming more and more convinced that the website was a scam, particularly since I had never heard anyone talk about it before and their customer service was not responding to my e-mails.  After some hassling and complaining on their Facebook page, I finally got my pay-out, and they told me I had a bag of the clothing pieces they did not take in the mail.  I was able to transfer the funds to my Paypal account, with a 2% transaction fee imposed by Paypal.  I ended up netting about $124 from the whole transaction.

So, would I recommend ThredUP?  Yes and no.

  • If you’ve got a bunch of clothing you’d like to get rid of quickly, doing this through ThredUP.com may not be the quickest.  Their processing time, as I’ve learned from my December-to-January experience, can vary depending on how many other bags they have to go through.  You can never really know when the “best” time to send your clean-out bag is.  Perhaps if they increased the staff that processed the bags, this would not be a problem in the future.
  • Not all your clothing will be accepted.  They are selective about brands and the condition of clothing.  Even though many of my items are name-brand (like BCBG Max Azria, Zara, etc.) in excellent condition – some with tags – they were sent back.  This isn’t necessarily a good or a bad thing, but it may be disappointing if you were hoping to “get rid” of all your unwanted clothing in one go while making some money in the process.
  • Their customer service is satisfactory.  They must have been swamped by e-mails from suddenly having so much interest in their clean-out service and whatever else they had to deal with, but they eventually respond to you and try to get things going.  While I was pretty upset and frustrated (I may have said they were afflicted by reading comprehension issues a couple times… *ahem* This is coming from a dyslexic individual, too), they were still courteous and was able to complete the transaction for me… even if it wasn’t exactly in a timely manner.  This proves that they are not operating a scam operation, but indeed are trying to run a business – even if they are a little short-staffed.

The bottom line:  Results may vary.  If you’re looking for a way to make some money and want to avoid the crazies that perpetually haunt the eBay community, using ThredUP may be a good route to go on, particularly if you’re not looking to do this within a two-week or less time frame.

By the way, there are other sites operating on the same basis, such as liketwice.com.  While I’ve never sent my clothes there to sell, I have purchased clothing from them, and I would definitely recommend shopping there!  With free returns and full refunds, you don’t have much to lose if you don’t end up liking what you bought.

Have you ever had any experience with similar websites? How did it go?

Updated to add: Here’s a screenshot of my final payout, in case you’re curious.

Screen Shot 2014-02-04 at 12.06.00 PM

Cambodian garment workers die while demanding higher wages

So many things that can be said, but all I can come up with is, sad.

This is why I don’t want to shop “mainstream” anymore and want to be able to dress myself with things I’ve created by my own hands.

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[ photo by Thomas Cristofoletti / Ruom ]

To read more about this in an article on Vice.com, click here.

“One buyer has taken some responsibility. H&M have chosen two factories in Bangladesh and one in Cambodia to pilot a scheme where they interview the management and staff to discover what is a living wage and supply the extra funds from their own profits. They have pledged to pay a living wage, but not until 2018.

What’s taking so long?

My first attempt at sewing an article of clothing: Part One

After pouting about how I felt like I wasn’t getting any better at sewing, I looked back on my list of “completed” projects and realized I really didn’t sew all that much, for a handful of reasons.  I decided that I should really try to commit more to sewing projects.

I’ve been pinning a lot on my Pinterest boards on DIY projects and sewing projects lately, and yesterday, I finally started on a dress pattern that I had since summer.  I can’t just keep pinning things and adding further things to my “to sew” list if I never even begin on what I already have on it, right?

Part of the reason why I held off from doing this dress for so long is because I was afraid I would mess up.  But what comforted me was the memory of meeting a wonderful lady who spent many years sewing and had worked on many more projects than I have.

She said, “It’s just fabric!

So true. It is, indeed, just fabric.  With that in mind, I set to work yesterday on a trial run of the Vogue Easy dress pattern designed by Rebecca Taylor. I already had gathered the fabric and notions… it was time to do it!

Naturally, since I had never sewn clothing before or even read a pattern, I was sure I would mess up, so I practiced on muslin to spare the that expensive Liberty of London blue-and-white floral fabric that I adore so much.

I’m glad I did the muslin first.  As it turns out, there are a lot of things I forgot to do, or just sort of messed up on, because admittedly, I am TERRIBLE at following instructions.

Also, some of the instructions (when I actually tried to read them instead of just interpreting pictures, hah) were confusing and unclear. Like, why would you pin the skirt to the bodice before you install an elastic waistband, huh? WHY?! I never figured out the solution to that, so I just didn’t sew it in, causing the dress to be much looser than intended.

The result, which is still very much a work in progress, is this:

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You can see I’m pulling back the excess fabric.  Um, I think I at least I got the gist of the dress, right?  Here’s the goal dress for comparison (I’m still mad this pattern is only $18 at this site, whereas I paid $30+ at Joann’s!  REALLY?):

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 I’m trying to figure out the waist band situation, and I forgot to sew in a couple darts in the bodice and finish the raw edges, but I think that once I figure out the waist band, I could probably start with the pretty fabric, which is Liberty of London Tana Lawn Josephine’s Garden.

Isn’t it lovely? And it’s soft, too.

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 This is also the first time I’ve sewn pleats. They’re not that bad!  I was freaking out a bit when I first saw the directions, but once I started to crease the fabric, it kind of just fell into place… and then I sewed it down.

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Note to self:  Buy flat-head pins!

I’m going to be avidly searching Google to gain a better understanding of how to install a waistband elastic now…

Swedish retail company, H&M, suggests raising prices to benefit factory workers

Considering seven whole months have passed by since the tragic Bangladesh factory collapse in April, I find it pretty disappointing that now that only just recently has a public statement been made by H&M, a major fashion vendor, “expecting” to increase prices of their products in order to increase the livable wages of the employed factory workers – meaning that they’re not even sure if they’re going to do this.  It merely seems that they are toying with the idea of this, and thus the dependent factory workers’ futures.

More disappointing is the fact that many companies are only meddling with the ideas of human rights, fair wages, and other buzz words such as “sustainability” simply because a tragic event put the issue on the table and made everyone aware.  Because, you know, it wasn’t really the norm to pay people livable wages and to not trash the environment in your capitalistic pursuits until hundreds of people die, making some people feel bad about where the cloth on their back comes from.  It seems almost trendy now, to be a fair, “good” company that pays respect to social and environmental responsibility.

While I am slightly impressed that H&M has even considered the option of raising prices to allow their factory workers a more decent wage, I have doubts that the quality of their clothing will improve very much.  I predict that the clothing will become slightly more expensive rags that will continue to look cheap and fall apart within a season, or even last one whole season, causing you to spend more money in the long run… that is, if you decide to shop at H&M.

If you’re interested in reading more about the Bandladesh factory incident or learning more about the H&M thoughts on fair living wages, check out these articles:

What are your thoughts on the matter?

simple with layers

simple with layers
Styling a Zara two-sided plaid scarf and black cardigan I recently ordered with items similar to those in my own closet. (Well, I don’t have the Frye Veronica Combat boots… yet)

The Zara scarf is $35.50. I considered sewing my own, but when hunting for similar fabrics, I could not find a plaid pattern I approved of, although it was easy to find the herringbone print within the first minute of my search.  Upon realizing I would only save a mere ten bucks, I decided to suck it up and order the scarf.

While I try to avoid buying new these days, I felt better after reading Zara’s mission statement:

“AT THE STORE

We save energy. The eco-friendly store.
We are implementing an eco-friendly management model in our shops in order to reduce energy consumption by 20%, introducing sustainability and efficiency criteria. This management model sets out measures to be applied to all processes, including the design of the shop itself, the lighting, heating and cooling systems and the possibility of recycling furniture and decoration.

We produce less waste and recycle. Recycling hangers and alarms, which are picked up from our shops and processed into other plastic elements, is an example of our waste management policy. Millions of hangers and alarms are processed each year and both the cardboard and plastic used for packaging are also recycled.”

I love it when a retailer conscientiously places value on the environment and tries to minimize waste accordingly.