Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Dupioni Silk for Sadie?

I've been kind of excited and inspired to work harder lately, because I am now, officially the "primary breadwinner" for the first time since Paul and I got married, with A Snood for All Seasons and Full of Grace Creations.  Paul is only allowed to work 10 hours a week and for the first time ever, my online store has put me in that position.  So I've been sewing like crazy, trying to average at least a snood a day, although the girls with their sleeping habits, seem intent on disrupting this goal.  Business has been picking up as summer comes to an end, which has been very exciting.

This also means I make weekly or bi-weekly trips to the fabric store when I'm looking for something for a custom order or when I have a fantastic coupon and that is where things almost always seem to get interesting.

I'm starting to believe that every time I go to the fabric store I'll end up having an "interesting" conversation.  The last time it reached the point of being so ridiculous that I was able to stay serious (because the woman was very serious) but only just barely.  I felt like the laughing the entire time.  It went something like this:

I approach the fabric cutting center where a retiree has just had a large amount of leather cut and is now asking if she'll need anything else to reupholster something.  I sense that this might not end well and wait with Mae and Sadie playing peekaboo, at the empty cutting table as I hear the words "foam?  I might need foam?"  I may only be skeptical because I've toyed with the idea of reupholstering one of our chairs, but the nooks and crannies make the idea a little too intimidating.  Another woman approaches, stands behind me, cuts in front of me, walks over and waits for the leather-buying-woman to be done and then tells the salesclerk that she doesn't want to cut in front of anyone, before launching into an involved reupholstery question.  I examine the rather useless seeming number that I've taken and realize that the retirement community I live in must have a lot of personalized reupholstery projects going on.  

I'm pretty happy though because I a) have a coupon and I b) found a beautiful bright blue dupioni silk that reminds me of Mary and lastly c) the girls have not yet launched into a tantrum of any sort, despite the fact that they're in a fabric store, waiting at the fabric cutting center!  It's finally my turn.  This is my memory of how things unfolded:

Me:  "Two yards of each one please."
Sales Clerk:  Unfolds the fabric and looks up: "How much do you want."
Me:  "I'm getting two yards of each fabric."
Sales Clerk:  "Two yards?"  She examines the dupioni, which sells for $24.99 a yard pre-40%-off-coupon and cuts off the end while eyeing a peek-a-boo playing Sadie briefly before saying "Is this for her?"
Me:  "Oh no!"  I briefly try to picture Sadie in $25 a yard, dry clean only silk and wince internally. "It's for my store." I immediately regret the elaboration however because I know what's coming next.
Sales Clerk:  "Oh you have a store?  What do you make?"
Me:  "Um... I sew and make jewelry for a little online store."  I know that avoidance is unlikely but the word "snood" always leads to confusion, so I find myself trying to avoid it.  
Sales Clerk:  "You sew clothes?"
Me:  "No... mostly headcoverings that women would wear to Church."  This elicits a glare.  "And dolls."  When I have time.  For some reason I keep talking, mostly because the disapproving look remains.  "The headcoverings are snoods."  The blank look I expected appears, but it's better than the glare.  "Which are like little caps..."  I search for a better description.  "Kind of like the caps that people wear in the operating room at hospitals.  Which is the other thing people usually buy them for."
Sales Clerk:  "Oh caps!"  Looks at the fabric and frowns.  "These are awfully expensive fabrics for caps."
Me:  "People wear them to Church too.  Especially for the lace."  I have two bolts of beautiful (and on sale!) red and gold lace that I've been eyeing for weeks.  I should just stop when I'm kind-of-but-not-really ahead.
Sales Clerk:  Silence.
Me: "I was really excited to find the black and white cotton here."  Apparently I just can't let the uncomfortable silence go one.  "I'd gotten some when I was in California and sold out of it and then I couldn't find it again."
Sales Clerk:  "There's Joann's in California?
Me:  "Yeah, we just moved out here."
Sales Clerk:  "Where in California."
Me:  "The closest one to our house was in Redding."
Sales Clerk:  "My cousin lives in California and says that there's Joann's Crafts and Fabrics there."
 Me:  "Yup."
Sales Clerk:  "Why did you move?"
Me: "My husband just started school here."
Sales Clerk:  "Which school?"
Me:  "The law school."
Sales Clerk: "That's a very expensive school."
Me:  "Yes it is."
The disapproving look returns and the conversation ends as my fabric is cut.  We return to the car, having survived our first trip out, without Paul, in the is-it-going-to-survive-another-day mini van.

But it is true that I found the fabric for two snoods that I'd run out of and relisted them.  The black and white one is here and the white and black snood is here!  And the headband too!


  1. I know it's tough being a traditional catholic. I think you handled that pretty well, even if the sales person is crazy.

    Your care package will be sent soon... If I can find the time to get everything together and post it.

  2. The clerk probably thought you were making a dress for Sadie.

    As for the clerks reaction, I have a suggestion for you. I too used to be cautious about telling people I was making dresses for historical reenactment and corsets and things. They would look at me weird and I would feel embarrassed. But then something changed. I watched my friend make purchases and the very same clerk seemed so enthusiastic and cheerful. I finally puzzled it out to how you act when you are sharing with others what you are doing. If you are wildly enthusiastic and seem passionate about what you are doing it has the effect of getting others interested in what you are doing. Descriptive imagery also helps.

    Your snoods could be, "a modern update to the chapel veil for church". It is also useful in keeping little fingers from pulling your hair. If you're having a bad hair day it's a wonderful solution. It keeps your hair from sticking to your neck. It keeps your hair out of your face. It keeps your hair from getting dirty when you are cleaning or playing with your girls. Then you can describe the beautiful fabrics you are using. Let her know you made a snood from a beautiful piece of white Dupioni Silk that you just fell in love with and can't wait to try other colors.

    Be in love with what you are doing and express it when people ask. If you do that people will be much more likely to accept what you do and not question your "taste". If you are embarrassed about what you are doing, many are likely to give you weird looks and "sympathize" for you.

  3. I'm so impressed that you're working so hard. It had never occurred to me before the rise of Etsy that products from the hands and heart had a real place in the world any more, but it just thrills me that they do. People seem to really still value the handcrafted. I'm practicing some skills of my own to see if I have what it takes to open up shop (don't worry - it's neither for jewelry nor headcoverings!)

    I have more than one of your beautiful Full of Grace Creations necklaces. In fact, I wore one of them to my Catholic wedding. Readers, if you haven't checked them out, you definitely should! They're even prettier in real life than in pictures.

  4. Thanks Baroness! I look forward to it!

    And I'll have to try that Jana! I'm not sure it would have worked with this clerk, because she seemed determined to disapprove (enough so that it was kind of funny... especially once I was out of the building!) but I imagine it would work a lot of the time. I've been thinking of keeping one in each bag so that I can show them what they look like too!

    Thanks Mrs. M! I'm so glad you like them! And you'll definitely have to let us know if you do open a shop because when I do shop I love to buy gifts from my online friends!

  5. There will always be a disapproving looks, particularly when you do anything outside the norm!

    When I take our children out during school hours, at least one person will ask them "and why aren't YOU in school today?" Or "playing hooky, eh?"

    I don't think they mean anything bad by it, just making conversation. When we respond that they are homeschooled, however, the next question goes something like - "oh, really? what's the capital of... " or something like that! I've had doctors in the emergency room ask my children math questions - at midnight on a Saturday! ;)

    Your snoods are lovely, by the way. My husband's fine with a mantilla (we've always believed, even as fervent protestants, that women should be covered, at least in worship) but a snood might be a step too far for him!

  6. If the bread winning ever suddenly fell upon my shoulders, we would be in big trouble. I'm a papercrafter and I doubt I would ever be able to sell enough cards or scrapbook layouts to pay for anything. You are a strong woman.

    I have one of your snoods, and while I don't wear it to mass, I absolutely love it! I wear it in the kitchen and when I am cleaning. Jacob actually calls it my "chef's hat" and I suppose it sort of looks like one. (So you can add Chef's Hat to your list of uses) There is actually a picture of me wearing it here:
    (By the time the picture was taken it had gotten positioned back on my head a bit, but 12 zillion hours of canning will do that)

    I've also purchased a Chaplet from your other store and it was so much nicer than I expected. It actually brought tears to my eyes when I received it.

  7. I was going to mention that you should keep a sample of your work on hand. Not only is it good as a visual but someone might buy it. Also keep a rosary or two on hand for people to buy.

  8. Tell people it's a feminine version of the do-rag.....there is a resemblence :)


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