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 $!

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