Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Custom order wrap shirt

Remember *these patterns*? This is how it turned out.

 For me it has always been hard to let go of
excess self-criticism. You know, the perfectionism.
But this time I actually feel quite proud
of myself. Indeed.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Perfect imperfection

If you have just stumbled into this blog you may not know much about me yet. First of all, I'm probably experiencing the busiest autumn of my life so far - I have a job, I study in a business program, and I'm starting up my own upcycled clothing business at the same time. My schedule is full. Overflowing, actually! But sometimes, when you suddenly have an idea out of the blue, you can't help but do it right away.

Another thing about me is that I'm a perfectionist about my designs. I know there are a lot of upcycling designers who like to leave the edges of the clothing unfinished, to give it that cool, shabby chic look. And that's completely fine! I do love their designs, but it's just not what I want to do. The perfectionist in me needs to create nicely finished items - clothes that say "this wasn't made in a rush". However, accessories are different. I like bags, scarves and jewellery that have the rough, unfinished look. The imperfection adds character to your outfit, and makes the perfectly finished clothing stand out even more.
So when I was trying to figure out what to do with the leftover scraps of fabric from my clothing projects, I had the idea of an oversized scarf. The whole point of making upcycled clothing is to create as little waste as possible and to turn something useless into something desirable.
It took me a good two hours to make the pattern, choose the colors, compose the small scraps so that none would go to waste, and sew everything together. So it wasn't as quick of a project as I thought it would be (I really didn't have the time for it...) but I love the result so much I'm going to forgive myself!
And I'm sorry if you happen to like this one, too - it already found a new owner... But my closet is full of scraps so I will be making more of these as soon as I have some time. The next one will have shades of purple, white and plum (plaid and solid), so if you'd like a shabby scarf in those colors, let me know and I'll reserve it for you.


A long time ago (18 years, to be exact) I studied in a school for clothing artisans. I never graduated, though - I changed school and ended up becoming something totally different. But the point is, even back then I didn't like drawing patterns. I thought it was the most boring part of making clothes; having to scale miniature patterns and then make real ones before you could even start working with the fabric. I need to work in a 3-dimensional way to be able to achieve the kind of clothing I see inside my head. My favorite lessons back then were the ones where we had a big piece of muslin that we used to mold a design straight onto the dressmaking doll. And that's how I still create nearly all of my designs.

However, I recently got an inquiry about a custom order. A customer had found a picture of a shirt she liked, and wanted to know if I could make a similar one for her with some alterations. It wasn't the simplest of shirts so I knew I had to make a pattern before sewing.

I still don't like patterns... but as I started creating one with the same technique we used with the muslin, I noticed it's not that bad, actually! But you still won't see me drawing one on a flat piece of paper...

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Lauren, oh Lauren

Another custom order of the Lauren shirt finished. The material is so soft and wonderful - if this were my size I might not want to let it go...

Friday, September 5, 2014


Lately I've been thinking about adding some of my photography to my shop as digital download files. As I was doing research on pricing and availability I accidentally found a copycat seller who had listed someone else's photograph into their shop and even copied the original sellers item description. It made me sad. I know they say copying is a form of admiration but if someone else is making money on something you have put your heart and soul into, it's just plain wrong. I contacted the original seller and told her what I had noticed - even though it really was none of my business. She was really happy I let her know about it.

Let's take this photo for example. It might look like something you could easilly snap if you just happened to walk into that particular spot. Let me tell you how I created it, in case you would like to do it yourself. The night before this shot was taken I charged my big and heavy DSLR camera battery. I checked the lense and cleared out the memory card. Then I set my alarm at 4:50a.m. because I knew the mist would be gone if I got up too late. When I woke up I had a quick cup of tea, got dressed well (it was cold outside!) and took my camera out for a stroll. I walked for an hour around my neighbourhood, taking dozens of pictures. When I got to this particular spot - on a bridge across the river, I took at least 10 pictures from different angles.

I do not mind the walking or waking up so early. I don't even care if someone looks at me funny, as if I had lost my mind because I'm out there at 5 in the morning, kneeling down and bending in weird positions just to get that perfect picture. I love strolling around in the morning when no-one is awake yet and it feels like I'm alone in the whole world. But the work on this photo did not end there, and I wasn't finished as soon as I got back home.

I uploaded all the files from the memory card into my laptop and started going through them. I chose the ones I thought were best and opened them in my image processing program. It must have taken me 10 to 15 minutes until I was happy with just this one shot - until looking at the photo gave me the same feeling I felt when I was standing there on the bridge looking at this exact view.

Now, if I were to sell this picture online I would have to list it into my shop, create an accurate description and add details about the price and download options. I would probably end up pricing it around 4 or 5 US dollars, and for that price the customers can use the photo as they please. They can print it out as cards (to send, not to sell!), inspirational wall art, use it as a background photo on their laptop or smartphone etc. So I do not think 4 or 5 dollars would be too much, especially knowing that I still have to pay the fee for selling it on Etsy, a fee for using PayPal for the money transfer, and of course the taxes here in Finland, for being an entrepreneur and getting paid for my creations.

After all these things if I were to find out someone just stole my photo and sold it to get money without doing anything for it - I wouldn't feel admired. I would feel betrayed and sad. And it has made me reconsider whether I want to sell digital files at all. And who knows, maybe no-one would even want them.

Anyway, because it's Friday and I don't want to sound all negative and patronizing - I'm going to give you a little present. You can have this picture. Seriously. If you want it, it's yours. For your personal use, not to sell it forward as your own. Just hover over the picture, click on the right side button of the mouse and choose "Save image as". And whenever you look at it on your wall, your laptop or anywhere, think of all the things that had to be done before you could have it to look at.

Happy Friday, everyone! Enjoy your weekend and enjoy art, for it is all around you.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014


I know. There's no reason to use hashtags in my blog but I just couldn't figure out a way to express my feelings any better. Last night I started working on another custom order Lauren shirt. There's always something great as well as scary about starting a new project. Will I be able to create a perfect fit for my customer? What if I make a mistake, what if I ruin the material? Well, it wouldn't be a disaster as there are endless sources of material for upcycling - I could just pick up a new one and start again. But it's the perfectionist inside my head that needs to get it right, especially when the material happens to be this gorgeous, velvety soft microfibre heaven. Don't you just love the color?

The next 11 hours of my day are filled with my business studies and my part time job. After that I intend to sew a little bit more, until I go to bed and wake up tomorrow morning to repeat it all over again. Sounds tough, but it isn't. Not for me, because I absolutely love what I'm doing. I'm so close to making my dreams come true and no amount of working hours can scare me off!

Oh, I have to mention; I created a new photo album on my Facebook site. I made it to say thank you to all the wonderful customers I have had so far. Hopefully the album will in time be filled with beautiful pictures of my customers wearing my designs.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014


Yesterday I arranged a photoshoot to update some of my product photos. I've been having trouble getting enough light into my pictures. I had my photoshoot background in my atelier, which is on the backyard side of our house and does not get much natural light during the day at all. I have been thinking about taking pictures outside, but never could quite figure out how to arrange a white background on our yard. Thanks to Instagram I got a great tip on hanging a white sheet on the laundry line. And it works! Hopefully the light will be enough during the winter months as well (living so close to the Arctic Circle the sun is only up for a few hours a day).
This mens shirt available *here*.
This women's shirt available *here*.
So now I've updated about a half of the photos in my shop and will get to the rest of them as soon as I have time. But now I'm off to my lessons again, see you later!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Giveaway winner + bonus prize

Although it's still August somewhere for a couple of more hours
I figured it was safe to say there would be no new
entries to my made-to-order shirt giveaway.
So I wrote down all the names of the participants,
put them into this beautiful treasure box
I got from my godfather years ago
(by the way, it was made of used matches which
I think is totally brilliant)
and picked a winner.
Iris, you will get some mail from me soon!

As I am considering adding some inspirational photography
to my Etsy shop, I thought I would pick a bonus winner
for one of my nature photographs.
vilukissi is going to receive this file in her e-mail soon!
 (without the 'sample photo' stamp, of course)