Monday, June 30, 2014

Made in CHINA vs. Handmade

I have been neglecting my blog.  I wish I wouldn't do that! Sew easy when life and a business get active. Something has to give; something has to be put on hold.  Since I’m not willing to put my family life, friends, or my business on hold, my blog suffers.  I HAVE been very busy creating and if you are a SEWHAPPYDESIGNS or ICANQUILT Facebook friend, you have seen my business progress and viewed many of my creations.  If you are a FB fan, thank you very much, if not, come on over and join the gal running with scissors in the cave, known as “SEW” or “SewHappy”. 
I have been wanting to blog on this particular subject for some time.  I’m a HUGE fan of HANDMADE and repurposed items and saving the environment whenever humanly possible. If you are a fan of handmade or create handmade items you may share my sentiment about this post. Click on the pictures for a larger view, if you wish.
The best selling item in my Etsy SewHappyDesigns Shop is my handmade microwavable baked potato bags.  I received a handmade one from a good friend and the first time I used it I was really excited about the results of my potatoes.  Nice and fluffy - and done in a fraction of time than the oven.  I often decide at the last minute that I am going to have baked potatoes, and can throw them in my bag, hit the potato button on my microwave and viola, in a short few minutes I have the rest of dinner complete!  I researched making the bags and had some trial and error in cutting the right size fabric, purchase of the right muslin for the interior, and the sewing and construction process.  I have always taken great care in picking my all cotton fabrics (and prewashing them), cotton batting and cotton thread.  The last year of making my bags I have used cotton batting purposely created for the microwave for additional safety measures.  I feel I have perfected the bag to the best of my ability and I love making my microwaveable potato bags.  Looking for new fabrics is the most fun.  Of course, I’ll take any excuse to purchase fabric! I like picking themed fabrics…mostly kitchen themed for my bags.

I’m really not sure how long microwave potato bags have been around that are Made In China, but I heard they were out there, most likely before handmade ones.  I, however, had not seen one in person until Irecently came across one at my local JoAnn’s shop .  I purchased one to compare to my own handmade item.  Here is my comparison report:

The first thing I notice right off the bat is that it is constructed of 100% polyester except for a mere 15% cotton in the lining.  WTH?  Why would you put something polyester in the microwave? The next thing I notice is the thick white print on the front of the bag with the WARNINGS and INSTRUCTIONS.  Yup, it’s been heat stamped on - once you put that baby in the washing machine it’s gonna flake off faster than you can say Made In China (by somebody who probably gets paid 10 cents an hour to make  it).  I set it down and see that the sewing is off, it’s crooked and disproportioned.

It costs me $10.99 and even though I had a discount coupon, was not allowed to use it on this item. Now let’s compare this sweat shop manufactured item to something handmade by someone who strives to pay attention to detail and sew something of quality. 
First, notice that the SewHappy bag is LARGER.  Let’s take a look at the sewing and detail on the SewHappy bag.  Can you tell the care taken with the sewing?  How about the fabric and presentation of the bag? I also have the directions and warnings on my bag, but they are not printed ON the bag.  With SewHappy, you also have a choice of many designs and the offer to make one CUSTOM just for you.  I have made custom bags and have had great feedback on the purchase of them.  My bags are currently $10.75 plus a minimal shipping charge in my Etsy shop.  I have been told they are worth every penny I charge, even though you can find handmade microwave potato bags cheaper on the internet.  The inside seams of my bag are all finished with an overedge stitch to prevent raveling when washed and it also gives another reinforcement stitching of the seams.  If you would like to see the favorable comments, I’ll link you up here.  I have sold as many as 10 to ONE customer.  That’s right.  Sweet Leslie in NJ kept coming back for another, then a couple more, then a few more.  Friends and family were so pleased with her potato bag gift!  I’m so grateful for those that have left feedback on them.  If you have purchased one from me, thank you sew much for choosing SewHappyDesigns.  I am working on other items for the SewHappy Etsy shop.  I make and sell many items other than the bags.  I create items for local shops as well.  I have a line of patterns you will find on my IcanQuilt website.  You may purchase the patterns in my SewHappyDesigns Etsy shop.  Many items you can view right here on this blog.  Search under My Creations to find most of them.  
Which is more appealing to you?
Keep calm and sew stuff
AKA SewHappy 

Some googles on the subject:
KOMO news tested the Potato Express made in China with a ho-hum result:
Burning characteristics of synthetic fabrics:
PS In case you are wondering, the bag is going to be returned to the JoAnns store.  I can buy a yard of lovely premium fabric with that $!

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Happy New Year from SewHappyDesigns

THANK YOU to all who have supported SewHappyDesigns in the Year 2013.  I am truly blessed to have a passion and a love to create handmade. 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Work in Progress Wednesday

Two new IcanQuilt Reversible Curvy Tablerunners cut out, backings picked and ready to sew.  One modern Christmas trees and one traditional cardinals.  I've chosen batik fabric (shown under the cut out tablerunner) for the back of each. On to the sewing machine.

3 new fabrics for microwavable potato bags.  Chef themed, wine themed and herb themed.
Sorry about the blurry pic.  I tried 4 times to get the shot clear and finally just gave up. :(  These fabrics will be sliced into bags very soon!  Stay tuned when Works in Progress are no longer WIP...but COMPLETE!
Keep Calm 'n Sew Somethin!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

What's New Wednesday!

I've been neglecting my blog.  My last post was in July.  Whoa!!  Summer was a blur.  A few extra hours working the day job with special projects, my SewHappyDesigns business and vacation and family life kept me pretty busy.  I like my day job working for a non-profit.  I like sewing for my Sewhappy business.  I like love my family.  Some things need to stand still while the whirl of life goes 'round.  An F5 hurricane is a bit too much whirl.  Well, I haven't really gotten to F5 stage, but close to F3! As I said, I like to be busy.
Busy leads to creativity and ideas that get sparked at 3AM.  Creative is bring it...bring on the busy!

Here's what's new~~
My latest venture is participating in the winter farmers market....the indoor fall market at the Paddock Arcade, the oldest continuously operating covered shopping mall in the US.   I created the flyer below and the pictures are from my displays.  As you can see, my SewHappy hands make a variety of items, mostly smaller quilted or sewn items, many made from my personal patterns.  I also have the patterns for sale.

I am scheduling other sales venues, just to branch out the SewHappyDesigns name.  One does need to have a plan to when one retires.  After all, I will need to have a fail proof plan for $$ for a future "fabric fix".

Happy Wednesday~
AKA SewHappy


Wednesday, July 24, 2013

WIP Wednesday

My Adirondack "Loon on the Lake" quilt is FINISHED  - no longer a WIP! Happy, Happy, Happy Dance!!  Good Golly Miss Molly, it sure was hanging around forever a long time.  There are way too many hours invested in it to sell and I'm pretty sure I won't be attempting another one.  Sew, I'm going to put it in the man cave....McStevie's office.  We did a makeover on that room 2 years ago and I haven't put anything on the walls because I wanted it to be decorated in a bit of rustic, manly look with ever so slight female touches.  Stay tuned as progress of the room will be revealed, hopefully before the fall is over.  Still a couple of pieces I am looking for to complete the look.

 ~You should be able to click on any of the pics to enlarge~ This is McKenna Ryan's pattern from   I took this class from Sandi Verbridge a few years ago with my sister, Nancy.
A close up of the quilting...I enjoyed quilting the trees! Not so much the borders.

 A couple of weeks ago I made my IcanQuilt Reversible Curvy Table runner pattern in pretty fall colors.  This past weekend I made a matching candle mat from my IcanQuilt Reversible Candle mat pattern.  Nice to get those finished too!
Table runner with matching candlemat...fall colors.  This is going to be a gift.

Close up of candle mat quilting.  Sorry, forgot to take pic of the reverse fabric this time.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

WIP Wednesday

 Been jumping all over the place with projects lately.  Sometimes that's how I roll!  It has been so hot in the north country that the basement cave offers relief, even though air conditioners are all ablaze on the first floor!  I have thrown up some recent WIP projects on a design wall so that they can stare at me until I make the move to finish them.

I made progress on my Adirondack Loon on the Lake quilt this weekend.  The quilting is going slow, but I'm really moving toward the end now!  Hoping to have it all done by next weekend.  Wish me luck!  That WIP has been around a few years!

SewHappy Cindy

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

WIP (Work in Progress) Wednesday

- WIP Garden Update
My little raised bed garden experiment has gone from this box from Sam's Club....


To these cute little squares.....
Next filled with some soil and peat moss....(see those sewhappy plants at the end just waiting to enter my awesome dirt).

To this vision of wonderful 
green magic!
A trellis will be added so the zucchini and yellow squash plants can climb there on the end.  I have two regular tomato and 2 cherry tomato plants, red and green pepper plants and 2 rows of lettuce and 2 rows of spinach seeds in the very front.  The plants have been hanging around in the garage for a couple of weeks and look very healthy so my 'lil green thumb hopes are high!

My patio shelves are filled with herbs, don't they look great?

Just maybe this WIP will be one with lots of healthy food in the months ahead.  Stay tuned!!

SewHappy Cindy

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

WIP Wednesday

Work in Progress Wednesday ~~
A quick peek at a quilt that adorns my sofa (futon bed) in our office/spare room.  This quilt is made from my IcanQuilt it Crazy Reversible Placemat pattern.  Instead of making placemats I chose to make enough blocks for the quilt and set it on point.  Of course the picture doesn't show the vibrance of the colors as well as real life.  I enjoy working with fall colors so this was a fun one for me.

This is my pattern.

 Pattern made into placemats.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013


Had a fabulous time in Glens Falls with Bonnie Hunter and the gals from Wings Falls Quilt Guild.  Met so many great ladies there!! The workshop was lots of fun.  I didn't get as much accomplished on the project as I had hoped.  Unfortunately, Bella, (our navigation system) got me lost. Or maybe it was the navigator and not the navigation system??  Whatever!! Anywho, I barely arrived in time to get Barbie, my featherweight set up and pull out some of the precuts I had done to prepare for making the Charlotte basket blocks.  I did my blocks with batiks and a white background.
Bonnie gave instruction and would come by to our area from time to time.  Once I had made progress with my blocks I asked her to take a "shelf" pic with me.  You know, where you put the blocks on your "boob shelf"?  She, of course, was very sweet and obliged!  The pic with Bonnie shows the middle section we did in the morning.  We did string piecing in the afternoon for the outside corners.  The bottom pic shows 3 full blocks done and another center started.  I got them all together after the weekend.  I think I'm going to make mine into a wall hanging.  Not sure how many blocks I will make yet.  I love working with batiks! Check out Bonnie's blogpost of the fun day sewing Charolott's basket blocks here!   There is actually a pic of Barbie and moi!  I'm pretty engrossed in my sewing of those string blocks!
A few of us dined that evening in Saratoga with Bonnie at the Old Bryan Inn.  A rum and coke while we were waiting for our table sure tasted great!!

Learned lots from Bonnie both the day of the workshop and the next day during her lecture/quilt trunk show.   I was the last person that was accepted into this workshop and I feel sew fortunate that I was able to get there!  If you get the chance to attend one of Bonnie's workshops or trips, don't walk, RUN....JUST DO IT!!

Wednesday, May 08, 2013


This regularly scheduled Work in Progress (WIP) Wednesday is interrupted to let you in on a wonderful event happening for me on Friday, May 10.  I will be attending a Bonnie Hunter quilt workshop with the Wings Falls Quilt Guild in Queensbury, NY.   Lucky for me our son and his family live in Saratoga Springs, only a half an hour away!   A chance to see the grandkids!! Yay!  Bonnie is also doing a trunk show for the guild on Saturday morning.  I was the last person to make it into this class of 40!!  How lucky awesome am I??

Bonnie is one of my all time favorites in the quilt world, if you would like to know more about her, check out her website here and her blog here.  Her blog has tons of info and lots of free patterns that you can download and print...yes, you DID hear that right...FREE quilt patterns.  She has a YouTube site here and does the YouTube quilt cams when she is home and not traveling to all parts of the country/world.

I'm sure I will be energized from this trip...more to come with pics next week!!  Stay tuned!