Monday, August 26, 2013

Pre-folds Anyone?

In the cloth diapering world there are so many, many choices which is a really great thing, because instead of one choice (like back in the day when I cloth diapered) you have a variety of choices and can find what works best for your baby as they grow.

 Many of you enjoy trying your hand at sewing your own diapers or covers.  Most of us on the Etsy Cloth Diaper Team make diapers for ourselves as well as having a thriving business supplying custom made diapers to the world!  Pre-folds are a great choice because you have options on how to fold or use them to give your baby a custom fit.  One of our team members; Kristin from Beats Boutique has a PDF pre-fold pattern that she sells in her shop.
Kristin  has an offer for anyone out there that would like to test sew this pattern in either the serged style or the sewn, turned and topstitched style, but mostly she is looking for feedback from people willing to turn and topstitch.  This is a great pattern because you can make a winged pre-fold out of anything... 
Dad's soft broken in old T Shirt
Cute cotton knit fabric
Recycled Fabrics
Receiving Blankets
and the list goes on...

Kristin's special deal is this.... buy the pattern using the coupon code WPFTESTING1
receive a dollar off on the price (which is only 4.95 !)  then she will refund anyone another dollar after 
September 16th who gives her feedback on the fit, sizing ease of pattern, etc.

So if you are looking for a project, or have always wanted to try your hand at sewing your own diapers, please consider giving this a try.... follow the links above to Kristin's shop and warm up that sewing machine!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Taking Better Product Photos

The Etsy Cloth Diaper Team centers around cloth diapering shops on Etsy. We get so excited about sharing our love for fluff that we sometimes forget we are running businesses and we need to stay on top of our market. This post is here to help those on our team and our readers that need a little pick me up in the photo department. Our photos are the first thing people see and we want them to be inviting.

First, I am not an expert. I took some photography in high school. You know back when you had to develop film. Do they still do that? I still have to go back and reshoot pictures of my own and I have tried things that work for other shops, but everytime I see them in my own I remind myself to go back and take those pictures again. But time is short and I rarely get around to it.

But I don't have a fancy camera, you say. I can't talk my husband into making me a lightbox, you lament. I promise that as long as you give yourself a little time in daylight hours you can take front page worthy pictures with a cell phone if that's what you have.

A quick lesson in Greek, the Greek word "phos" mean slight and is the base for where the English language gets "photo". Plants need light to make food, photosynthesis. The pupils in your eyes open and close with the amount of light to see, they're photosensitive. You need light to take good pictures, making photographs. I'm going to take this a little further and say the number one rule is natural light. If you learn nothing else let it be this: TURN OFF YOUR FLASH AND GO OUTSIDE. That's it; one simple rule and your pictures will stop looking like this:

Hexipuff for Beekeeper Quilt I've been working on

I know some of you are thinking that isn't so bad right? You can see the shadows so there must be light and it's pretty clear and in focus. I'm even going to say that the colors are accurate, but there is nothing about this picture that pops, nothing that says "oh what a nice hexipuff!" This picture was also taken with my higher quality digital camera. 

Experiment time! Grab the hexipuff and run outside. 

This picture was taken with my crummy cell phone. It doesn't have a zoom function or a flash. It's on it's last leg. And I'll admit the photo is not the most crisp image I've ever produced. All that said in comparison to the first picture it's a much better option if I were to have to pick on for listing in my Etsy shop. I hear you asking about that clean white background. My secret? A big white piece of poster board. I'm sure my neighbors think I'm a little nutsy when I go running outside with my recent items, camera, and poster board, but a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do. Poster board is cheap and gives you a nice flat surface and depending on your items is usually big enough for most things. Did I mention cheap? And if your child decides to go all Vangough on it or it gets hit with last night's spaghetti dinner you feel less bad about it. Run to your shopping list and add poster board right now. I put my poster board on my porch just within the shade line, so I'm not in direct sunlight which overexposes. A cloudy day works well too. If I can't get outside I have a nook in my living room with 3 windows and it acts as a bit of a light box. If you have a good window to work with you don't even have to travel outside. 

I'm ok with a plain picture in it's natural state. If it's a little blue, this happens when I've missed my magic window and the porch is more shaded than I like, you can try to adjust the color balance in one of the many free photo editing programs online. I think even photobucket offers it now in their editing. Many will tell you to run and use Fotofuze to give your pictures that blinding white background. I've tried it. I'm not overly happy with the results. It's a personal preference, but anything changing the contrast that much is also altering the look of the item. Generally creating an overexposed look and making the item look less than life like. You want people to see your pictures as they will see the item when it arrives. Plus go look at the treasuries that make the front page on Etsy. Go ahead, I'll wait. While a few overly brighten photos make it in those treasuries usually the images that are ideal are the ones with clean natural backgrounds. 

Why does this matter? Most treasuries are built the same way shoppers search. They want to see items they can easily identify. And treasuries equate to more exposure for your shop. No matter how ridiculously cute your item is a picture with a cleaner appearance will usually win out by a treasury maker and the same is true when a batch of items comes up in a search. People are visual creatures our eyes are drawn to certain elements and features. Ask me about my 13 years of optical experience. 

So what have we learned?

1- Buy poster board
2- Turn off your flash
3- Go outside

A few things that are helpful to remember and every bit as important.

Get close and in focus. A macro option on your camera is great a good zoom is ok. 

Stabilize. When working without a flash the less your camera moves the better. Set your camera on a pile of books if you need, trust me it helps. I love my tripod! I found it still in it's original packaging at the Goodwill for cheap. Even if I had to pay retail it would be worth every penny. 

For the month of September I would like to challenge our team members to pick a few listings and try some of the ideas here and see if they aren't happier with the results. 

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Meet Carissa of Barrel and a Heap

Carissa from Barrel and a Heap is a newer member of the Etsy Cloth Diaper Team and I have enjoyed getting to know her.  After reading about Carissa and her shop please enter to win a diaper cover of your choice from her shop Barrel and a Heap.

How did you get started selling on Etsy?
I got started selling on Etsy because my sister was having a baby.  She was planning on cloth diapering and couldn't seem to find any adorable diaper covers.  She enlisted me to make some for here and, after a few really bad prototypes, I made her some super cute covers.  I loved making them and decided to start selling them on Etsy!  Since then, I've added toys, bibs, onesies, blankets, and pillows to my inventory (and don't plan on stopping anytime soon!)

What are you really enjoying making right now?
I'm passionate about making pretty things that are functional.  I have a full time job, sell on Etsy, write a blog (, and am trying to open a brick and mortar store in the next year or so... So when I have time to make things, I like them to look amazing but also do something!  I'm a firm believer that you don't have to sacrifice style for function.

What is most popular in your Etsy Shop?
My most popular item is definitely my diaper covers.  It's what I carry the most of and what I sell the most of!   I just added bow tie onesies and I think they're the cutest things in the world!  I love it when little kids dress like adults.

What song best describes your shop or your work ethic?
The song that best describes my work ethic is "She's Got the Look" by Roxette.  Weird, I know.  When I was younger, that was my favorite song.  I was sure there would never be a song that I loved more than that one.  When I was younger I also dreamed of becoming a singer/ actress/ dancer/ business owner/ dolphin trainer/ a member of the Holograms (preferably Jem).  It's not the lyrics that inspire me so much (although, you try dancing and singing to that in front of your mirror.  I dare you to say you don't end the song with more confidence than when you started.)  Basically, that song always reminds me of being young and believing that anything is possible.  Not worrying about the consequences, just letting my mind roam free, and thinking about what I would love to do next

Carissa is giving away a diaper of your choice to one lucky reader.  Enter to win below.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Meet Nommy's Nappies and WIN a pocket diaper!

Sarah from Nommies Nappies makes super cute diapers, soakers, inserts and covers.  I love interviewing team members and getting to know them better.  Here are some questions I asked Sarah to get to know her and her shop better.  At the end, please enter to win one of her pocket diapers (winner must pay shipping costs).

How did you get started selling on Etsy?
When I started looking into buying cloth diapers, the search results would occasionally point me to Etsy and I was intrigued.  Just seeing the items made by other moms and reading their shop profiles made me realize I could really feel at home here, and I truly have.  After I completed a long testing phase through Facebook I opened up my Etsy shopfront and have continued to gain exposure through it for the past year.  

What are you passionate about making and why?
 I am most passionate about my nighttime diapers.  I feel like nighttime cloth diapering is a hard thing for most parents, and it is when they are most likely to say "Forget this, I'm using disposables!"  I was determined to find a nighttime solution for my own son after he started leaking out of our trusty pocket diapers at night no matter how much I stuffed them.  Once I finally realized he was leaking out of the upper hip area, I knew we needed to go to fitteds - and they intimidated me!  However, after I made my first pocket fitted diaper and put it under a cover overnight with no leaks in the morning, I knew we had found our answer.  The major plus I have always found with cloth diapers is the ability to customize absorbency, and that is why my Nommy's Nighttime Nappies are a hybrid fitted diaper with a pocket opening.  I know that trying cloth diapers made by WAHMs like me can at first seem like a leap of faith for buyers, so I like knowing that a mom can try just the outer shell itself and stuff it with any random pocket inserts she may have lying around to see if it will work for her baby.  I love it when my customers come back to me with repeat orders, and I never get tired of hearing "we ONLY use your diapers at night, everything else has failed us".    

What is your favorite or most popular item in your shop right now?
Zorb2 and bamboo fleece or bamboo/hemp fleece trifolds always sell like hotcakes!  I think everyone is on a constant search for the perfect overnight insert.  

...and here is a fun question
What song best describes your shop or your work ethic?
Ooooh, that's a tough one!  I do most of my sewing at night after I should be in bed already, so a good one would be the (possibly) obscure "I Should Be Sleepin'" by Emerson Drive.  Alternately, "I'm So Tired" from the Blazing Saddles movie - both taken completely away from their intended context of course!

Enter below to win this cute pocket diaper!  Thanks Sarah for letting us get to know you and your shop a little better.  Find Sarah on Etsy and like her on Facebook!

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