Today we continue our series of posts highlighting participants in our Boutique Sewer Program by sharing a short discussion with Tiffany James from Seattle, WA. Tiffany took time away from preparing for the impending arrival of her first baby to answer a few of our questions.
Tell me a little about yourself and your background. How did you learn to sew?
Sewing is something I’ve just really always done. I was a creative kid and it didn’t hurt that there was a cabinet of craft supplies and stacks of fabric and boxes of buttons at home. I used them to make everything from clothes for my dolls and dog to gifts for my friends and family. Over the years I have self-trained and have expanded my skillset by reading books and blogs, and of course by trial and error and by simply making lots of different types of things.
Your Etsy store features an interesting assortment of things—various sewn items, jewelry, and vintage goods. Does this eclectic mix say something about your personal style?
Yes. I think eclectic is a good word for it! My shop reflects the fact that I’m constantly trying something new and I’m drawn to so many different media and activities. I love to research a new craft or project, and then I tend to spend a lot of time gathering the materials and perfecting new techniques. Then, before long, something new has caught my eye!
As a result, I have a studio full of interesting materials to inspire me and experience working in a wide variety of media. To the untrained observer, however, it may just look like I have a problem with my attention span, which may or may not also be true!
What other crafts do you pursue that you may not be selling on Etsy?
Well, lately everything has been about getting ready for the arrival of our first baby at the end of July. My husband and I are definitely do-it-yourselfers in every aspect, so we’ve done all of the work preparing the nursery ourselves. We built a changing table, and we’re working on a bookshelf next. We’ve also tackled minor renovations around the house like updating lighting and plumbing. But we haven’t done any major demolition yet!
I also knit here and there, and I’ve recently started making clothes for myself–both from patterns and by refashioning thrift store finds. I guess I just like to stay busy!
How did you first discover Oliver + S patterns, and how did you come to participate in the Boutique Sewer Program?
I started reading the Oliver + S blog after I saw the patterns mentioned on another site, and I fell in love with the adorable styles. When I saw the post about the Boutique Sewer Program being born, I knew right away that I would want to participate at some point and bookmarked it for future reference.
Months later, when I learned that I was pregnant, my craftiness bug kicked into high gear and my attention naturally turned to baby and kid’s clothes. I was absolutely convinced that our baby was a girl for the first few months, so I picked up the pattern for the Tea Party Sundress (my favorite) and got to work on “her” wardrobe.
We found out soon after that “she” is a “he,” but I was already hooked by how beautifully the pattern came together and how much I loved the styling, and I couldn’t wait to make tons more. I’ve got stacks of fabric waiting to be turned into new Tea Party dress combinations as soon as I can find a free minute!
What have you done to market your business that has been successful for you?
In the past, I have set up booths at a local Saturday market and sold my jewelry, and it also helps that I have wonderful fashionable friends who have purchased my creations and wear them around helping to spread the word!
I’ve recently gotten a few requests from friends to make up special items for them that weren’t in my shop, and I love that. Custom work is exciting, and I love to try new designs, so I’ve been more than happy to oblige.
My blog was originally created to keep our friends and family up to date with the pregnancy and baby news, but I’ve been showcasing my crafty pursuits there as well, so that has led to increased traffic to my Etsy shop. The Boutique Sewer page on the Oliver + S site has also sent new viewers my way, which is wonderful and much appreciated!
What plans do you have for the future?
Our immediate future plans involve an easy and trouble-free home birth and some wonderful family time with our new little one!
Once the babymoon is over, my plan is to concentrate more on my shop and my sewing, and perhaps I’ll even narrow my focus to just a small selection of handmade goods for sale. Of course, I’m sure I’ll still be creating all over the board, so we’ll see how well that pans out!
One thing I’ve considered is perhaps moving things through my shop on a rotating basis, featuring new groups of items at different times as the particular medium appeals to me, instead of having such a mix in there at once. That might help me satisfy my need for variety in a way that makes things appear more cohesive as well. Time will tell.
One thing is for sure, and that is that I will always be making something. I just have an inherent need in me to create, and I feel so lucky to be able to do that and to have a venue to share that and learn from others around me.