It dawned on me while sewing the past few days in preparation for Bainbridge Island Studio Tour that I've never really shared the effort that goes into the making of a single Baby Lux Design onesie or toddler t-shirt design...
Working every Saturday at the Farmers Market has really given me perspective on what people, parents, grandparents, and kids really like. Often people talk so freely sharing their opinions both good and bad about my products you'd think they thought I was just a hired hand to sell Baby Lux...('cause after all I couldn't possibly be the Tyler on the business card. Lol...) It's not often I hear bad things about my work. In fact, doing this almost 9 years now, I only have a few footprints left from negative nellies. Those who say to their friend, "oh I could totally make that" or "Cute but not for that kinda money..." Perhaps if they knew all that went into the making a Baby Lux design they might think twice about what they've said...
Well, in the most positive of ways, let me explain the amount of love and care that goes into a single t-shirt design in this one-gal sewing operation:
First, t-shirt sourcing. It's taken years of wasted money, frustration and a lot of trial and error to find reliable quality producing wholesalers. And well, I have to commit to order tees in quantities to get appealing prices.
Second, the design. I'm not using clip art. Most of my tshirt/onesie designs begin as a drawing in my art journal sometimes even a painting, like the racoon above. But after the character is finished being drawn or painted it might live in my journal for quite sometime before I'm inspired to try and figure out how that translates to fabric in the form of an applique.
What is an applique? Let me explain in photos:
After I have a character drawn I have to re-draft it to scale for appropriate sizing of each t-shirt or baby onesie. Then I draw a simple black outline of it. I then have to calculate which parts of the applique need to be drawn backwards on the transfer paper (for example noses, eyes, ears, arms tails etc...). Whatever way you draw it, layers get reversed in the final steps.
If a character has 20 plus pieces or parts to their design, I must draw each piece 20 plus times for a single t-shirt...and then cut, iron to coordinating fabric choices I chose, and then cut each individual piece by hand...yes, each piece is cut by me by hand (eyes, ears, nose, etc etc...)
My studio floor looks like this A LOT.
Once each piece is layered on the tshirt just so, I heat press to set.
Then the sewing begins. Each thread color showing on t-shirt means my machine is re-threaded...tensions and stitch width are also adjusted for each area of the design to account for smaller tighter corners.
Lucky for me, I've become much quicker with this whole creative process over the years and have learned many tricks to make my life easier. I always make designs in batches.
Never do I set out to make a single t-shirt unless it's a custom one-of-a-kind order (which I love!) Then there's the characters that make it from paper to fabric form but in the end, don't make the "final cut".
So, there is a bit of effort that goes into each garment made. Some people say I'm crazy for all the work I put into a single kid t-shirt...maybe I am. But I love it, and 99.9 percent of my customers love it too. Many of them repeat shoppers and I'm grateful for their continued support and appreciation of handmade.
These characters are my muse, they give me joy in my studio as they come to life in fabric form and seeing little ones wear them is even more of a thrill and reason for me to keep making more!
Thanks for shopping small. Because of you...I'm able to stay creatively employed and in my happy place!