You Could Be a Textile Designer…..

Have you ever thought about designing your own textiles?  I know I have especially when I am digging through racks of fabric swatches in hopes of finding the pattern that I have in my mind’s eye.  Wouldn’t it be easier (and less stressful) if you could some turn that mental image of the perfect fabric into reality?  Well the folks over at Spoonflower were reading my mind (so to speak)….

The concept behind Spoonflower is pretty straight forward – anyone can upload a design and have it printed on fabric for your own use or for sale. You can buy sizes from 8″ samples to full yardage.  Spoonflower gives users several fabric options from quilting cotton to upholstery-grade cotton twill and even silk crêpe de chine.  Prices range from $18-$32 depending on your fabric selection with the silk crêpe de chine maxing out the pricing structure.

One note of caution before diving into designing your dream fabrics – there is a small upfront cost due to the fact that you must purchase samples of all the designs you create prior to them going into production.  Fortunately the cost is minimal since you can order up to 8 samples for $20.

For myself, this opens up a WORLD of opportunities regarding curtain and drape treatments especially since they have a linen/cotton fabric option.  I am always at a loss finding cost-conscious fabric options for curtains that are stylish and in the color palette I am using.  Even better is that Spoonflower offers a 10% if you order your own design and a 20% discount of you order over 20 yards of your design.  And did I mention that there is no required minimum yardage order?  So order 1 yard or 100 yards – you have total control.

Thanks to Spoonflower, I can now add “textile designer extraordinaire” to my résumé…. (not really but I can day-dream).

Pillows Galore

A few weeks ago,  I went on an epic search to find an affordable seamstress.  Through no fault of her own, Nancy “The Sewing Goddess” was not able to sew the pillows I envisioned for the house.  I placed an ad on Craigslist, hoping for the best and got the worst on many different levels.  The responses (and lack thereof) was a really unique snapshot into the type of crazy that stalks Craigslist ads.

However, one of the responses stood out from rest.  Ana’s response was tactful, to the point and she listed her experience rather than asking how much she could get for the project.  After a quick email exchange, we met at my house and spent nearly two hours talking about design and sewing.  It was like we were lost friends catching up over coffee.  The face-to-face meeting sealed the deal for me and I gave Ana my business.

A week later, she had 90% of the project done and dropped off the first batch of pillow covers and drapes.  I knew she was the real deal cause she showed me the project and then TOOK BACK some of the covers cause she wanted to redo them to ensure that they were perfect after she saw some things she didn’t like.  That really impressed me so much that I gave her an additional request for pillows for the bedrooms. 

She swung by today to drop off the remainder of the original project plus the new pillows I asked her to sew.  I could not be more pleased with the work or the speedy turn around.

Pillows Ana sewed for the living room....

The paisley pillow, she actually cut the fabric in half and pieced it together to mimic the pattern I have on an existing pillow.  The canvas pillows were started by Nancy and Ana was able to finish them with no difference between them.

Pillows for the Music Room.....

So here is a sneak peek at the awesomeness to come with the Music Room Reveal.  However, Ana really showed her stuff on the blue pillows in the back.  I loved the design on the pillows with the grosgrain ribbon.  And if you look closely, you can see a little pillow that harks back to The Grande Dame.  Overall, I love the sizes, fabrics and texture of the pillows and think they will look great throughout the room.

Cutie Patootie Bolster Pillow for Guest Room

Ana took an existing pillow case I found at Crate and Barrel for $3 and made two bolster pillows for me.  They finish off the guest  bed perfectly!

Euro Shams for the Master Bedroom

Ribbon detail on the shams

I found a sheet set at TJ Maxx for the master bedroom and somehow when making the bed (for the first time) with the new set, I ripped the fitted sheet.  Ana was able to take what was left of the sheet and created two adorable Euro shams for the bed.  She did a really nice job with ribbon detailing on the edges very similar to what Frette does on their shams.

Adorable Velvet Bolster Pillow for Master Bedroom Chair

View of velvet cording detail...

And for the final pillow, you may recognize the fabric from the bedroom ottoman project I did recently.  Ana took the excess fabric and created this adorable bolster pillow with velvet cording.  I l-o-v-e the cording detail which was a surprise to me since it was not something we discussed.

Overall, I got 15 pillows and four drapery panels for a hair over $200.  You can’t buy pre-made pillows or drapes for that cheap!  Ana is my hidden gem but I hope you guys and gals definitely contact her for your sewing needs (see contact information below).   If you do contact her, tell her I say hello.   I know I will be calling her shortly with my holiday wish list– I think I need 2 or 3 tablecloths, runners and maybe a custom Christmas tree skirt sewn.

Ana Zucconi


In the Name of Free Trade

Pressing family issues and the need for sanity forced my Sewing Goddess, Nancy, to bow out from assisting me with sewing pillows.  Taking the news in stride, I shifted some funds around to see if I could afford a seamstress to complete the remaining work.  I placed an ad on Craigslist this week outlining the project and the request for a written estimate.  Within the last few days, I have received 12 inquiries stating that they could do the work and complete it within the time frame I stated.

I think they use sewing machines now, don't they?

 Photo credit:

To each of the 12 inquiries, I have sent a detailed list of the items to be sewn as well as examples for those that require additional decorative detail.  From those original 12 responses, 5 people have replied back with true estimates.  This has me baffled regarding the other 7 individuals who each promised they could do the job yet couldn’t follow through on the simple request to provide me with a written estimate for their services.  While I am not designer, I don’t think the request for a written estimate is unusual or beyond a normal aspect of doing this kind of work.  Yet, 7 of the people did not respond to the request.

However, to give them the benefit of the doubt I reached out via email to all 7 giving them one more chance to give a written estimate.  So far, two responded that the project is actually outside the scope of their skill set.  I can appreciate that but wouldn’t an email back saying that have helped?  One person sent an email detailing that their cat died (no joke) and they were too emotionally distraught to work right now.  As for the remaining 4, well I have heard nothing from them to date.  Honestly, with so many people searching for work right now, you would think that self-employed service people would be a tad better on following up on a job.

So back to the five that have sent me responses.  Two are so absurd that I can’t even fathom how they came up with their pricing.  One woman actually wants to charge me over $900 to sew the pillows.  At that price, I could have just gone out and bought the pillows I wanted from Thomas Paul and Anthropologie.  Seriously, at that price, the pillows going to the chair and couch are more expensive than the actual pieces of furniture in the room.  If I was going to pay that much, I would have just gone with the seamstress I have worked with previously.  Her work is flawless.  Her finishing skills are divine.  And her price …well, let’s just say that she isn’t cheap but many of the best interior designers use her and I understand why they do!

Now for the remaining three …..all do this as a side business and all seem to be knowledgable on what I am requesting.  I have reached out to all three and scheduled a phone conversation to see how they respond to a few of my questions on their techniques and what I envision.  I am really looking for someone to guide me in this process.  I don’t care if they tell me what I want can’t be done for the price.  I am fine with that.  Be honest and upfront rather than tell me “yes” and give me an inferior product. 

In doing all of this, I realize how hard it is to run your own business, even if it’s a small side gig.  I also realize how amazing and talented so many people are in turning their passion into a profession.  Here’s hoping I can following their footsteps when I graduate culinary school.