Monday, August 1, 2011

Embelishing Controversy

After the last market I set up shop at I came across an interesting Facebook post the following day from a market goer expressing their disappointment at there being so many appliqued T's at what they felt was supposed to be a handmade only market. It created a firestorm of responses, mostly from those who were pro appliqued tops and a few who agreed that there was no place for them in the handmade market, and there was some outrage at the prices charged for what was descibed as "a little bit of fabric stitched on to a top".

Needless to say this all got me thinking, and being the self doubter that I am for a while there I wondered if I should stop making my embelished T's..... but then I realised they are one of the things I get the most joy from making.

Embelishing a T-shirt is not a short process for me, each can take more than an hour of careful fabric choice, appliquing and stiching followed by matching hand dyed (by me!)crochet, vintage buttons and lace, fabric ruffles, ribbons and charms carefully to each appliqued image and then painstakingly sewing them on, usually by hand. The result being a one of a kind T-shirt (I very rarely repeat a design). But it is a labour of love, the results always make me smile.

I am happy to say that I choose to use tops from Target to work with because they are a great style, have a fantastic colour range, and most importantly the quality is outstanding, and if a customer asks I will always tell them this, though I have now decided not to remove the labels as I really do have nothing to hide.

I write all of this not just to champion my own work, but to express support to all those, and yes there are many, that like me, embelish items of clothing bought elsewhere and not made by hand. I have never seen another business claim an appliqued top to be "handmade", rather "hand-embelished", which is an honest

You can buy an appliqued or embelished top just about anywhere, indeed Cotton On Kids is a big favourite in this house for such things, but I have also bought this style of top from other lovely Work At Home Mum's many at time, because at the end of the day, who doesn't love a quality, limited or one-of-a-kind product?

I would love to hear the thoughts of others on this topic:) xx


  1. Love them and will continue to buy them. I like a little bling and matching outfit. I like that I can also match a plain shirt with a skirt I buy. Most of all, I like that it is unique or one of a kind and that no-one has one that is exactly the same.

    Keep doing what you do. You are amazing and your customers will show you, when you sell out!

  2. Your tops look great .. Don't worry about what others say, everyone who buys them loves them and knows how much work has gone into them

  3. Very interesting you I embelish tshirts (mine are also purchased from Target, mine also take around 45m - 1hr to create as I make the embelishment - in my case yo-yos, handstitch the button on, handstitch in multiple places the yo-yo to the shirt and handstitch the flowerstems.

    I then go to markets and see a doily or shaped fabric stitched usually by machine to a tshirt and they have a high price attached to them and are labelled handmade.

    I love buying true handmade as I know the maker has put their heart and soul into each limited run piece.

  4. PS I love your beauties and the work involved is obvious.

  5. Hmm... I was a little surprised when I read that the certain market-goer did not consider appliqued Ts to be suitable for the handmade market?

    I honestly am a novice at all things with a needle and thread - and I did try to create a little appliqued T for my poppet after seeing it and thinking hmm, I could do that. Little did I know the process (like you mentioned) to create a truly unique applique is indeed long and quite hard work. After that, my appreciation for others' applique work grew triplefold (!) and I really do respect and am impressed by all the work I see out there.

    I think handmade is a very general term. It is up to the consumer as to what she will ultimately decide to purchase in the end. Personally, I immediately look at the amount of work that has gone into the handmade creation and whether the price matches the level of work and heart put into that handmade creation. :) xx

    ps. Love that Heather Ross!