Thursday, October 24, 2013

Blast From the Past!
I wanted to repost a post I did previously because I've had difficulty locating it through search engines. Since it shows you how to create your own little pouch I didn't figure anyone would mind. :o) Plus these make great little, quick, hand-made stocking-stuffers for Christmas! There are tons of other uses too, and the size is really easy to modify once you've made the first one. You can make snack holders, tea bag holders, wipes holders, tissue pouches, and more!

Make Your Own Pad Wallet
A Waterproof Wallet for Carrying Mama Cloth, Wipes, Nursing Pads, and more!

This is a simple tutorial for sewing your own Pad Wallet. The design allows you to carry both clean spares and tuck away your used items. The waterproof inner locks away moisture and odors to keep your cleans (and your purse or diaper bag) clean and fresh.

Materials Needed:
- Waterproof fabric (PUL, fleece, wool, here I used a waterproofed nylon - the yellow fabric)
- An attractive outer fabric (wovens work best for stability, you can use cotton prints for a wide range of attractive and inexpensive choices)

Your sizing may vary some depending on the size of your pads. Some pads will need to be laid flat, here you can see that I've folded mine into little pouches. I lined two side by side so that I could carry at least 2 cleans and 2 dirties in this wallet. Cut your fabric slightly wider than the item you wish to carry and about 4 times longer. My pads are about 4" when snapped shut, so I made my wallet fabrics 16" long. (see picture at left)

I created this pad wallet using a serger, but you could easily sew something similar by setting a close zig zag stitch on your sewing machine and overlapping the edges, or sewing them right sides together and then turning and topstitching.

For serging, place the fabrics wrong-sides together and serge the narrow ends.

Then lay the wallet-to-be attractive side down and fold up the top and bottom of the narrow ends approximately 1/4 of the way. Because my wallet is 16" long this meant nearly 4", leaving about 1/2" in the center clear (where you can see the yellow inner fabric in this picture) for clearance when folding a stuffed wallet. Pin, crease, or press lightly. This will form 2 "pockets" for storing your pads or other items.

Attach hook tape to one side and loop tape (velcro or aplix) to the other approximately 1/4 to 1/2 inch from each pressed/creased edge. Alternately you could use snaps in two or three points (outer edges and center), or even sew on a zipper here if you like that kind of thing.

I have pinned the velcro on at either end near the raw edges. You want to be careful if pinning through PUL which retains all the little holes you make in it and can lead to wicking for really wet items like wipes.

Open up the fabric folds and sew the velcro in place or add snaps at this time. You will be sewing them to the RIGHT side of the fabric, or the attractive print you want to show. You will have something that looks like this:

Refold the fabrics along the pressed or creased fold on either end. Serge the raw edges together on either side (alternately oversew the edges with a wide zig zag set on a short stitch length, or turn inside out and seam, turning and top-stitching).

You will end up with this:
Also great for:
~ wipes (wet or dry)
~ nursing pads
~ tissues
~ menstrual cup and pantyliners
~ snacks
~ napkins
~ and more

Monday, October 7, 2013

All About Covers

Last week we talked about pre-folds, so it seemed natural to talk about covers this week. We will move on to wool and fleece covers soon, but for right now we will discuss the traditional diaper cover.
Diaper covers come in many colors and styles.  The one thing they have in common is they usually have some type of moisture barrier fabric in them to prevent leaks.  They can also be made of wool or fleece, but as I said, that topic will be for another review.

When shopping for a cover here are some options to think about...
  • Snaps vs. Velcro - Snaps stay firmly in place, but don't have quite the adjustability of velcro.  Velcro can be adjusted just about any size around your baby.  Snaps however don't get fuzzy in the laundry and have to be cleaned out.  They generally remain pretty reliable for the life of the cover, whereas sometimes velcro can give out before the cover.   Velcro is fast and easy if you have a squirmy baby to diaper quickly, snaps can be a little more cumbersome and take longer to close.
  • Sized vs. Adjustable - Some covers come in specific sizes; newborn, 3-6 mo etc while some covers are very adjustable, they have a snap down gusset to adjust the rise for growth.  Fit on your baby might be the determining factor here, as every baby is so different, and also as they grow diapers and covers will fit differently.  A style of cover that works for a newborn might not work for an 8 month old just because bodies change shape as they grow.
  • Gusset vs. no gusset - This is an easy comparison.  A gusset is an extra flap of fabric with elastic on the edge that goes around the leg of the cover to help enclose that space.   If you have a petite baby without chunky legs you might find a gusset necessary to avoid leaks and blow outs, sometimes that extra flap just keeps everything in place till diaper change time.  A chunkier baby might not need a gusset to keep everything in place, so the types without work just fine.  
  • Lined vs. not lined - Some covers will come with a fleece lining and some will be simply the PUL or barrier fabric on the inside.  Fleece will wick and absorb extra moisture and pull it away from your baby, however once a fleece cover is soiled, you will have to replace it with a fresh one.  PUL lined covers will not retain moisture, so they can often be wiped off with a wipe or damp cloth and re used for the next diaper change.  Both covers keep moisture in where it belongs.
When shopping for covers as well as any cloth diaper product the best advice I have heard is to buy a few different styles and use them for a while to determine what works best for your baby before investing in one particular style.  As I mentioned above this can change after 6 months or a year, so if you purchase an adjustable cover for your newborn and decide you don't like how it fits, wait a few months and try it again, you may find it becomes your favorite.  All in all covers and pre-folds are a fairly economical way to cloth diaper.  Most covers range in price from $10.00 to $15.00 and you can find a wide selection of them here from the Etsy Cloth Diaper Team Sellers!

Friday, October 4, 2013

How Many Eggs Are in Your Basket?

"Variety is the spice of life." "Diversity is key." I could go on, but I think most people agree that options are a good thing. Do you apply this to your online based business?

On October 1st Etsy announced some pretty extreme changes to their TOUs. The forums are in an uproar. Being found amidst hundreds of thousands of listings is hard enough with resellers and the sheer number of shops. However, Etsians are a hardworking bunch and just keep swimming. The new announcement stands to flood the site with mass produced items. As a designer can outsource all their work and list thousands of items a day. Not saying they would, but for those of us in the cloth diaper industry it is now ok for Goodmama, Bumgenius, Fuzzibunz etc to list and sell on Etsy. Not saying any of them would as they have their own sites and sell in pretty much every cloth diaper store across the country, but it paints a picture of what the new Etsy will look like and how hard it might be to stack up against.
100% Cotton Flat -- Tri-Fold Diaper Insert

While undisclosed some of that factors in ranking higher in searches is the number of relevant listings you have and the number of times and item has been sold/relisting. A shop pumping out higher quantities will likely appear first in a search over an equally tagged and titled product from another shop. Is your business prepared if the flow on Etsy becomes a trickle? Or will it drastically affect your shop? This is why not keeping all your eggs in one basket is important. You never know what might happen and you don't want to be left scrambling. I am not advocating a mass exodus from Etsy, it is every bit as important to continue to work on your shop on Etsy, but take some time to see where else you might be able to stash some eggs. Make like a boy scout and be prepared.

But it's hard enough to stock and promote one site right? It's absolutely worth it to diversify. Can shoppers still buy from you if the site is down for maintenance? What if your shop is suddenly closed without notification? How do shoppers unfamiliar with Etsy find you? Additionally links and mention throughout the interwebs increase rankings in search engines. The more places you and your shop exist and are linked to with unique content online the happier Google, Bing, etc. are to pop up your various pages.

1. Research other selling sites. Right now Etsy is a leader in online marketplaces, but who knows what else is coming. With the promise of a handmade commitment a large number of Etsy sellers are starting up on Zibbet and they are bringing their client base with them. Hyena Cart has long been a crunchy little island for cloth diapering and WAHM wares. There's also The Craft Star, Artfire, and more. Much like Esty these sites help by using a variety of sellers to increase traffic flow. There is likely to be a venue that will fit with your goals and give you a plan B.

2. Consider your own website. Sites like Go Daddy, Big Cartel and Tictail offer sellers the ability to create a free standing domain. You can also find a hosting site like Dreamhost and start from scratch. While it can be expensive to invest in web design there are affordable options. The benefit to having a registered domain is that you own it and always will as long as you keep your registration current. Even if you use the domain to redirect to your shop on Etsy or another venue it gives you ownership of your branding and in the event of a crash at another venue it's easy to divert shoppers to your personal site or wherever you move your shop to all from one domain that you consistently control.

3. Real life sales are a great way to supplement your cyber business. While not everyone has the resources to open a brick and mortar location there are still options that can get your product into the hands of tactile shoppers. Many cloth diaper shops and children's boutique are happy to work with local vendors. Look at your pricing to see if you can handle consignment or wholesale contracts. Watch for local craft fairs or better yet children's expos. Setting up a booth is a great way to interact with potential buyers and get your name out.

4. Small group networking while not exactly a method for sales it's a viable way to meet your target market. By attending RDIA meetings or joining a natural parenting playgroup you are making connections with the kind of buyers looking for your product. Obviously we don't want to be the pushy sales lady, but if your child is wearing you product it's an easy segway into "yea I have a shop." People who have gotten to know you are more likely to shop with you over an unknown WAHM. Plus anything done in person saves you fees.
When creating items try splitting your stock among a couple different shops. Spread your eggs, so if the basket falls you can still have breakfast. Happy business building!

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