WTFact aka FAQ
A smorgasbord of questions/answers... (others might call this a FAQ):
OMG I love your stuff, but can I see it in person?
YES! Check out my local events.🥳 Spoiler alert - most are limited to El Paso County, as I drive an old Subaru (the Colorado state car) and it also takes my husband's car as well to bring a full local event setup. If you can't make it to any of my local events but you'll be passing through the Pikes Peak region, I CAN arrange for you to see my work in person if you are not bothered by cats upstairs and chaos in the sewing dungeon downstairs, but you're going to need to email me and let me know when you'd like to visit, and which things you want to look at so I can have them ready. I do not have an awesome rainbow house like Katwise, it's an old 1950's shoebox which is completely full of fabric, thread, and sequins by the pound. (Yes, sequins by the pound, you read that right.) But yes... after November 2022 I will be done with grad school and I'll make time for you. 🥰 And if you completely fall in love with something and must claim it that very instant, who am I to hold you back? I have a credit card machine and you can claim your treasure and bring it home that day.
ONE thing to consider... if you live out of state but buy from me in person either at an event, or out of my home studio, you will pay about 8% in sales taxes that are not applied to over-the-internet sales to other states in the USA, and you have my sincere thanks for contributing to my state's tax revenue (this will be slightly offset by roughly $20 in savings from not having to have it shipped to you). If you're visiting the US and want to make my studio one of your stops... AWESOME! If you take home a coat, I will provide a vacuum bag and we can shrink it down, but they still do take up space in your luggage and you may be required to declare its value to your local customs officials so just be aware.
Colorado is a fun place to visit. No, the tourism board is not paying me to say that. If you're passing thru the area, here's the fun touristy things you can check out while you're here. 🥰
Why does your Katwise-inspired stuff cost a bit more than others out there?
Short answer: these coats use almost double the materials (since the layers stacked on top of each other and felted together), I typically use way higher quality materials (the materials alone on each coat are usually around $100-$300), and time. For only slightly more than others you might have seen, you're getting nearly two coats' worth of material (usually merino wool/cashmere and often 100% cashmere because I'm picky), and about 3-4 times the labor, so my coats are a bargain if you look at how much goes into the details. They will last you a lot longer, too.🙂
Longer explanation: my coats are machine needle-felted and many have embroidery - so they take a lot more time, plus use double the amount of materials on almost all of the coat (depending on the style). The ones with the shiny dots you see, those are all sequins sewn on by hand with invisible thread. I use high-quality materials and a lot of attention goes into details that make a big difference in the finished work but also just take more time.
Take this coat, for example:
This lovely thing took 38 labor-hours to make. Shout out to the folks who developed the Timelogger app for iPhone:
Most of the coats are almost a week's worth of work for me, not including the cost of materials. If you do not sew every day (or at all), please take my word for it - these are very, very labor-intensive. When you buy a machine-needle-felted coat, you're getting nearly two coats' worth of materials, plus (on most coats) the lovely embroidery and sequin work that are ONLY possible with sturdier material.
There are other Katwise-inspired artists out there and I don't want us to be pitted against each other based on price in some sort of sad race to the bottom. All people with artistic skills deserve to be paid a living wage - my "competition" included. 🥰
Factors that increase the cost of these coats:
- Better materials:
- Cashmere and Merino wool/lambs wool instead of acrylic/cotton (animal fibers are softer and more expensive, and the more vibrant the color, the more it tends to cost)
- Usually Tex 40 thread instead of thinner Tex 27 thread (Tex 40 is more expensive, but is thicker and stronger)
- Better labor:
- Machine-needle-felting nearly all the bodice, parts of the hood (and parts of the skirt sections on the newest coats)
- Machine embroidery
- Sequins hand-sewn on with invisible thread, rather than glued (on ALL coats that have them)
- Better structure in the newest hood brims
- Better technique in the newer coats with zippers
- Clever accent pieces on many of the waistbands which disguise the area where the belt ties are attached to the coat - often with sequin work
I do mix fleece in because that adds a lot of visual flare, plus it helps defray that cost just based on cost-per-yard of material. However, on average it takes ~4 yards of fleece for each coat, plus however many sweaters I use (typically 4-10 per coat, at a cost of anywhere from ~$4- $55 per sweater - the more vibrant the color the more they tend to cost me to get) Sometimes the machines need maintenance/cleaning so that adds some overhead cost for me too, although I clean mine religiously myself as best I can.
Really the biggest chunk is the cost of the time. "Mr. Stabby", my felting machine, uses a cluster of 12 barbed needles which go up and down as quick as a regular sewing machine, but the area that's felted is only about the size of a dime, and really good felting requires several passes. More about machine-needle-felting HERE.👈😁
I like to needle-felt the entire bodice, most of the sleeves and some parts of the hood.. and my newer "pixie point" bottom coats, I needle-felt the "skirt" pieces too.. It just makes a sturdier coat that holds its shape a lot better and is far less prone to distortion- and provides sturdier backing for the pockets so you can use them! See, the longer the skirt on the coat, the more it pulls on the bodice because it weighs it down. So there's a certain amount of textile engineering that goes into mine.😎 If the bodice isn't sturdy enough to hold up the skirt section, you can end up with a droopy and distorted coat that doesn't hang as nicely. One of my points of pride is that I can make a coat that looks stunning on a smaller person as well as a coat that looks just as stunning on a larger person. The material still stretches, but it holds its shape a lot better. We've also all had that one sweater that got a moth-hole in it. Because I double the material on the really crucial pieces, you get a coat that really lasts. It also eliminates the feeling you get when a cold wind blows through the tiny holes in the knitting with an unfelted sweater 🥶. My felted works don't have all those little holes. The needle-felting just makes a world of a difference. I know, it's hard to tell that difference looking on a computer monitor, so if you've got doubts, I recommend you just order a cheapie $2.00 sample so you can get a literal feel, for how the material feels. I am warning you, you will likely get hooked on the feel of the felted cashmere in particular. When I sell in person locally, people usually aren't able to handle the cashmere arm-warmers without having at least one pair. 😁
If you really want to experience proper sticker shock, check out this lovely $74,910.00 velvet ensemble on Ebay... 😲 👇
Yes, this is/was an actual listing. (current as of 12/2021)
Full disclosure, I am not the ONLY Katwise-style maker out there. Of course there is Katwise herself, and then the rest of the Etsy crowd. I don't fear competition, indeed, I embrace it, so here... I'll even point you towards similar items so you can have an idea what's out there. The other Katwise-inspired listings on Etsy are right HERE. The decent stuff I'm seeing on there runs as high as just below $700, so my items really are not that much more than the other goodies out there, and while I think all of us artisans are awesome, my felted treasures will last a lot longer than non-felted ones.😎 They hold their shape better and look more like an actual coat and less like a droopy bath robe. The added structure from the felting also flatters larger figures a lot better, and the higher-quality materials I use leads to a way better finished-quality work. The embroidery and sequins on mine are also ✨SUPER SPARKLNG AWESOME✨ and really add a lot more flair and are only possible with material that has enough structure to it - made possible by all the machine needle-felting. 😎 My newer coats with zippers also have a better structure due to the way I sew them, so they don't get all wavy and wonky like zippers tend to do when the fabric they're attached to isn't strong enough to fully support them. So for only slightly more than a lot of what you mind find on Etsy, you really get a lot more value with my coats. 😁
I owe you a future blog post of what to look at/for when you're out there coat-shopping. And if you buy from someone other than me, if you paid a fair price for their labor, I still love and appreciate that about you.😍 There are a lot of underpaid and overworked folks out there, and as someone with an HR degree as well as an artisan, I have a vested interest in seeing everyone paid fairly. 🤓
Can't you just wash the sweaters in hot water and felt them that way instead?
Well yes, and I already do... but the whole point of doing the felting by machine as well is that I'm able to use up more of the material for each sweater. It's like baking cookies, where you roll out the cookie dough, cut your cookies, roll it back into a ball, roll it flat and cut again and repeat that process. The machine needle-felting allows me to create new fabric by essentially layering odd-shaped scraps, (which I use the left over material from the coats to make the hats, arm-warmers and leg-warmers). If you want to see what machine felting looks like, pop over and see my blog post about this.
I really like this one coat, but can you change this one thing....?
Short answer: NO. I can't add embroidery to a coat that doesn't have it, it won't turn out well - I embroider the pieces before I put them together. Trying to embroider an already-finished coat is an exercise in difficulty and problems. My machine will scream at both of us. I also generally don't add sequins after-the-fact... the coats that have sequins and/or embroidery, it's really sort of already built into the price so if you're asking for changes like that, you're asking me to work for free. Boooo! Also there are a LOT of seams on these coats and I sew them in a specific order, so trying to alter the fit, get rid of a thumbhole, etc.. just no. That said, if there's one thing that's a sticking point, it's better to let it go and look at something else. If that something else hasn't been made yet, you can go over to Fashion By Demand and request it, and don't be shy about being really specific if there's some element that's a must-have. (i.e... no thumbholes, pixie-hem, regular hem, shorter hood, longer hood, must have sequins, dreaming of this thread color, etc.) I can't read your mind but if your forehead is tingling, it's because I'm trying.😜 I try really, really hard to get as close as possible to what your noggin is dreaming up. 😊
Can you make less expensive coats?
I can try. But they likely won't be needle-felted, won't be made out of as-nice materials, no embroidery, no sequins... hey wait a minute, that's all the really good stuff that make mine so unique! Are you sure? 🤔
I don't want to sacrifice quality, and I don't want to work for slave wages either. When we buy things we can pay in installments but once I sell my art, that's it, that's all I get for that work. If the coat is still over the top, you can always put together a set of arm-warmers, a hat and some leg-warmers and have ALMOST a coat. 😏 When I have enough materials left over, I try to make a lot of these so you can go for the low-hanging fruit and still have something new to treasure and love.
Yeah about installments... Why don't you have other installment plans like Sezzle, Afterpay, Shop Pay Installments, etc?
I realize those services are cool in that they let you break down big purchases into 4-6 smaller, more manageable chunks. Rest assured, I agonized over Shopify's new "Shop Pay Installments" a LOT. My problem with these services is that they shift the cost of financing over onto me, and I'm an artisan, not a bank. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ I can't afford to absorb the ~6% fee and there's no way to charge only the installment payers the fee (they don't allow this), so I would have to raise all of my prices by ~6% to cover the fees they charge me to provide you with that sort of financing... and that's not fair to folks who just pay in full at the time of purchase.
But you DO take Paypal Credit, so what gives?
Here's the difference - they check your credit to approve you, and you bear the cost of the financing (typically a 6 month term before they wallop you with interest). That's it. I've used it myself as a buyer and paying over 6 months is way more manageable than paying over 6 weeks like the aforementioned gimmicky Sezzle/Afterpay services. If you're curious, you can learn about it HERE.
Besides, I don't want you to buy my stuff because of gimmicky short-term financing. Buy it because it's really amazing and awesome, and has superior craftsmanship.😎 I destroy and remake textiles like Deadpool, with maximum effort. 😈
Do you have an Etsy?
As of right this moment, no. I found that Etsy was too crowded. I also wanted to be able to have a blog, to have polls, to sort/categorize items better so that people can find what they are actually looking for. OMG did you see that my sweater-coats now have filtering options based on measurements?!?🤩. With just a couple clicks, you can instantly weed out anything that's too small for you.🥳 I've tried to make my site reasonably easy to navigate, with stuff for everyone. Yay stuff! But yeah, as of right now, no Etsy.
That said, if you are a regular Etsy shopper, I'm going to ask you to take a look at Go Imagine. They are a relatively new startup and IMHO, a better alternative to Etsy. Instead of enriching a bunch of C-suite execs, they donate 100% of their profits to charity. That is AWESOME! So not only are you supporting an artisan of handmade goods, but you're legit donating to charity while you do it. Please check them out some time. I am not on GoImagine yet as I haven't had time to learn their system but I'm definitely interested and you may see me there in the future:
Do you do custom work?
Sort of. I'm like Katwise on this one. I don't want to try to match an exact idea in someone's head that I can't see. That sounds like too much of a recipe for disappointment. Plus, I don't always have sweaters in the right texture/size/color that I might need in order to produce something exactly to someone's specifications. It just feels too constraining. I can't guarantee that I'll perfectly match what you're envisioning, and I don't want you to have to settle on something that just wasn't what you imagined. Somewhere in the middle, there is a happy medium. My fun alternative to this is Fashion By Demand... and it is super fun. You get to put in requests with a general description, and watch those items magically appear, and then you can pounce when you see something that really speaks to you.
Do be aware that because my polls here on my site are anonymous, there's no "Hey so-and-so, the earthtone coat you were looking for, it's done!" So if you want to come visit me every day, WOW! I raise my coffee in a toast to your dedication and enthusiasm.😁☕ More likely you have a busy life though, so the best way to get a heads up is to just follow me on Facebook or Instagram, where I typically make these announcements. I also usually finish items a lot faster than I can get photos, that's my bad, I'll own that, so it's also okay if you want to bug me via email too. I am a Gen Xer and I still haven't gotten over my excitement from when they invented email. 😊📧
I requested something like a year ago, why haven't you made it yet??
Because I'm human, this stuff takes forever to make, and life often throws other things at me that I have to handle 😭 (my bedroom floor collapsed, one of my cats keeps tempting the grim reaper, the dirty dishes reproduce when I'm not looking (the laundry seems to do this too), I'm still slogging through grad school (which is hard when you have ADHD and your mind has a mind of its own).. and in all honesty, I don't promise to make things in the order I receive them. Sometimes the right inspiration has to hit. Sometimes an idea hits me that I'm super excited about, and everything else tends to get set aside while I chase that idea. Indeed, the need for this sort of creative autonomy is part of why I left the corporate world. My creative brilliance doesn't always perform on command and I tend to wilt when my mind feels too constrained or controlled. So to those still waiting, I assure you I'm not delaying just to spite you. This is just who I am. 🥰
Can you make something lighter-weight for those of us in warmer climates?
Texas, Florida, California, Arizona... I totally see you (no really... I use Google Analytics so I do sort of see you 👀.) and I get this! The problem I struggle with is that the needle-felting on the wool/cashmere, that's what makes my goodies so unique among all the Katwise-inspired makers out there. Without that, there's not enough structure for the beautiful embroidery and sequins.😭 I promise I have given this much thought, and will be attempting to come up with something more well-suited for hotter places 'n days, but you may have to bear with me awhile on this as I don't want to give up my signature oh-my-god-this-is-over-the-top look. 😁
What is that silly little giftbox floating over the page? [Mobile users]
That's my rewards program. See, I suspect you could use a reward more than Google, Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest. I sort of loathe the idea of paying into giant corporation advertising coffers and I'm trying really hard not to go down that road, so if you're willing to spread the word about me, why not send the love your way instead? More on that here.
What is that ridiculous little S with the shopping bag I see down in the corner ? [Desktop users]
Full disclosure, that's Shopify. I own my own domain yes, but I am not a software engineer, and it was quicker to use their platform as it met most of my requirements.
How on earth do you make this stuff?
Very carefully, and with oodles of time and many pricked fingers, and the occasional unsavory expletive. Really my patchwork sweatercoats, hats and arm-warmers are inspired by Katwise, so while I have some helpful hints, I have tried to avoid revealing the entire process out of respect to her.🥰 If you love these that much but would rather try to make one yourself, please just buy her tutorial. Even if you never make one, it's really an enjoyable read and you won't be disappointed: https://www.etsy.com/shop/katwise
If you want to make them the super-cool way I do, you will need:
- Babylock Embellisher felting machine (it'll run you between $200-$600)
- Juki industrial grade serger (probably around $1500) - due to the thick/fluffy layers; home sergers can't handle certain sections of my coats
- Babylock Destiny for the embroidery I do (hard to find under $4,000 used)
- a home serger where you can disengage the knife (mine was $1400 used)
- hours upon hours upon hours of time to perfect your technique
👆I wrote a blog post about supplies, that's right HERE. 😁
The array of machines it takes to make coats the way I do, it's a lot! 😲 If you already sew but don't have all these machines, or the time to gather your own materials, or to master the particular techniques I use, don't feel bad.🤗 There is no shame in saving yourself the time, money and aggravation and buying one of my coats, or putting in a request for what you're dreaming of having. 😇
Did ya see my denim skirts too? I've had people ask me for a pattern on those and I don't have one for sale right now. I just make them, each one, individually. Furthermore, they are each adjusted to the size of the pants I make them from, and the pièce de résistance is really all the metallic thread and embroidery and the sequins sewn on by hand which take hours, upon hours, upon hours. Maybe at some point I'll make a tutorial for those and sell that, but they are super time-consuming and most of the real art is in all the details and in the color choices. If you are here looking for ideas on things to make and sell yourself🤔, my Pinterest is a good source of inspiration and I include things from many places.
Where on earth do you GET all these sweaters?
Well, a lot of places. Yes, while the big truck backing up my driveway with 542 pounds of cashmere SWEATERZILLA is a fun adventure and an exciting story, how can I say this gently... My warm apologies to those who've reached out to ask, but there's just no state secret there to share.. it was a complete fluke windfall... (seriously don't envy me... my beloved cat got some super rare cancer and that completely wiped out the aforementioned windfall!) and anyway, I'd really rather be in my studio sewing. I do have worthy establishments I like to get other things like thread and needles from, and I wrote a blog post for that over here for you.
Side story about SWEATERZILLA:
For those who missed my funny Facebook posts, SWEATERZILLA was 542 pounds of cashmere, which came in a box taller than I am. The truck backed up to the house with a liftgate. I'm not kidding! All the jokes about the fabric truck backing up to the house, yep that actually happened. It was a monster, so the easiest way to sort everything was to put on clean socks, toss the shoes aside and just climb inside to conquer the thing. Hey... all good things start from within, amirite??😉 Once I reached the bottom, I was stuck and required a rescue. You know it's true love when he not only didn't have a heart attack upon seeing this giant box of sweaters, but he rescued me too.🥰 I really won the husband lottery, I truly did. Ladies, if you also sew and if by some horrible luck I meet an early demise, you should seriously marry my husband. He is THE nicest man, I don't ever want him to be lonely (it would be a serious travesty for such a sweet man to be stuck by himself), and if I croak he is not going to know what to do with all the fabric. God help him. 🤣 If I live to a ripe old age though, you are totally on your own, because I am keeping him!! 😍
(Resting after defeating SWEATERZILLA. Either that or doing my best Oscar the Grouch impression.)
Are trades of sweaters or other services accepted?
I adore you, but no. This is just way too much for me to try to figure out or make sense of. I'm very picky about the sweaters I use, and it's too much hassle to have people try to send me stuff, then to figure out what it's worth to me, whether I can use it, etc. I have ~1600 pounds of sweaters currently, and no way to sort out who sent me what. Please have mercy on me... the thought of even trying to keep track of something like this, makes my brain hurt. Owie brain. Ow ow ow. 🤯
What about photography?
I know, I'm always horribly behind on getting photos of finished works but I have friends that are photographers, so it's really my own weakness in just setting aside the time to get photos that is the issue here. I try to get photos outside in natural light on a cloudy/overcast day, and usually my hubby is the one that gets drafted to help with this, and it's usually done on short notice due to Colorado's infamous rapidly changing weather.
Speaking of photos... can I use the photos on this site?
If you want to save my photos, that's fine - all I ask is that you do not use them to try to sell something. They are all watermarked for that reason. I've seen knock-off websites re-use artists' photos to try to sell imitation mass-produced stuff and that is so very NOT cool. If you see my photos being misused that way, please let me know, and I will reward you handsomely for the intel. It's not just about me - it's about you as well, because when companies make cheap knock-offs using stolen photos, the buyer ends up with something that does not at all look like the beautiful photo. It just irks me when knock-off companies do that because it really erodes trust in people buying online. No one wins. May the fleas of a thousand camels infest the armpits of companies stealing artists' photos.
I'm not a professional photographer, but all my photos are original, so the item that you buy is the same item in the photograph. If you save them for inspiration later, I'm totally okay with that too. Again, that's why they are watermarked, and done so in such a way that my watermark cannot be cropped out of the photo without it looking just weird. But yeah - no using my photos to sell copycat items, and no cropping my photos to re-use without the watermark. That includes screenshots. If you save the photo, regardless of how you do so, please save the entire photo, watermark intact. It's just civilized. 😊 If you bought something from me in the past and you want to sell that, just email me. I probably still have the original photos and I'll send them to you.
If you want to pin my photos on Pinterest, ooooooo! Thank you!!! Please do! 😍🥰😁 If you are sending me referrals and out there singing my praises, please send me an email so I can thank you and find some way to reward you.💕 If you are on mobile and want to re-pin any of my items, I am a verified merchant on Pinterest and they are right HERE.
How come you never answer your phone?
I am a real person with a real contact number, I swear. I would just rather be in my studio working. Random phone calls are disruptive and I'm also socially awkward and have ADHD, so I prefer email, or you can reach out on social media. All lovenotes and hatemail should be sent to email@example.com. And if you do receive a phone call with my listed number, I assure you, it is likely not me and more likely someone who is spoofing my number... which is beyond my control and I am SO sorry, please know that it drives me nuts when people spoof numbers but there's no way to stop them that I know of. My publicly listed number is a Google Voice number, so if I return your call, you have my private cell number for all eternity. Please guard it carefully. The person who had my cell number before me didn't pay their bills and I spent 10 years fielding calls from her creditors, so I ain't changin' it now!
How come you didn't accept my Facebook friend request?
Do you really want your newsfeed to be full of cat and garden photos? 😉
Really, I want to be friends with the entire world, and I love you all, but my family likes to have just a little bit of privacy, and sometimes I'm just obnoxious with the humor. Besides, all the really good stuff is on my Facebook business page and Instagram pages and I'm happy to interact with you there. And you've already got my email, what more could you possibly desire?
(And if you know Greek mythology and that Persephone was the goddess of spring as well as the wife of the lord of the underworld, super massive bonus points for understanding why I had to go there with the Lucifer Morningstar reference... both as a lover of Greek mythology, as well as an avid fan of author Neil Gaiman.)