Friday, December 30, 2011

Textile Friday: My Muse, Papa Jack

      This week, my grandfather passed away and his wake is today. I had another post planned out for today, but it seemed more fitting somehow to talk about the man that got me into the business and is responsible for giving me much of the success I have today. There's a number of people in my family that sew and sell clothing, my Aunt Mimi likes to say it's in the family blood.
        That blood starts with my grandfather. He ran an upscale department store chain Brownhills out of Greensboro, NC that he bought into with my late grandmother back at the beginning. My grandmother was famous for doing the store displays while my grandfather worked his charm.
         It's somewhat funny that they both got into clothing because the story goes that when my grandmother first got married apparently my great-grandmother threw away all her clothes because their family tradition was the man provided all the clothes for his wife after marriage while they were on their honeymoon. My grandmother got back from her honeymoon and suddenly found herself with a week's worth of summer clothes and no winter coat with fall coming. This was right after the war and they were both too poor to buy a second coat so as a kid I was fascinated listening to him talk about them both having to huddle together in his dress coat for warmth walking around downtown from the corner store she worked in the 3 blocks to their apt until spring came.
       It's a great story and being Irish one that grew with the years, but I've always thought that first winter together was what made them fall in love so much with women's sweaters, dresses, bridal gowns, and smart gloves. A clothing affair that started with mutual love and respect. And one cold bride.
        Li Sashay is just finishing up our second year and it's hard to see what the next one will bring. I'm equally excited to see the path that being a textile design company will take us. Many of the things I thought would bring us fame and fortune have not, and other unexpected requests have been wonderful for us. It's been a bit like spending a year freezing in summer clothes, where you show up thinking yourself completely prepared and instead find yourself completely out of your element and under-dressed.
         In the midst of this, I must say that it has been your support dear customers, friends, and family that has gotten us through a rough and wonderful year. It has been a thousand and one little things, most of them probably unnoticeable to you, but that meant so much to us. We simply would not have been able to be here, writing this blog post, without your help.
        It is hard to see yet at these beginning stages if we will have the same love affair my grandparents did, but we are hopeful and can't wait to see where it goes. So thank you. And we can't wait to see you back next year.


Tuesday, December 27, 2011

January Acorn to Oak Schedule

           Our Acorn to Oak Handmade Team is so excited and refreshed from Christmas. The new year looks great! We have a lot of exciting new guest speakers and local organizations to introduce you to for the coming year. Given all the local talent and great resources, we are moving to weekly Tuesday night meetings. Thank you so much for making this possible. There are so many great artists in the area, thanks for donating your time and resources. This would not have been possible without each one of you. We will be posting up the events as follows each month. We hope to have you come to have you drop by. Here's a little of what we have in store for Jan

Jan 10th- Quilting Bee with the Linus Foundation

Susie Holmes with the local Raleigh Linus Chapter will be coming to talk to us about this amazing organization that gives blankets to help seriously ill children. We will be do a quilting bee and have fabric, supplies, and pattern books available for you to make blankets. All finished blankets will be donated directly to the Linus Foundation. This event is free and open to the public. Please feel free to bring extra quilting fabric or supplies to donate. There is no cost for event. We will have some pre-cut quilt kits at the event for $60 if you would like to make donation to the Linus Foundation by purchasing one. You may register for free on Skillshare here:

Jan 17th- Live Models and Beginning Lace-making

7-8 pm Shooting Live Models: Allegra Torres and Katy Bashaw will be providing live modeling for anyone who would like practice taking better pictures and interacting with live models. We will have lights and a background set up. This is great for adding an additional level of professionalism to your work. We will be discussing basic techniques and having fun.
8-10 Beginning Lacemaking: We will go over the 3 basic lacemaking techniques: cookie, roller, and sectional. You are welcome to bring your own lacemaking bobbins. We will be providing pillows, needles, and embroidery thread for you to learn to make simple designs. This event is free and open to the public. There is no cost. We will have extra cameras on hand if you do not have one and will be happy to send you any photos afterwards. You may register for free on Skillshare here:

Jan 24th- Glassmaking at Good Harbor Bay 

We will be heading out to my friend Sallye Coyle's Glassmaking Studio to learn about the art of glassmaking. You check out her studio on her website: Good Harbor Bay is roughly 10-15 minutes from our usual meeting space at:
 5520 Lockridge Rd
Durham, NC 27705

You've probably met Sallye at Techshop already as she also teaches Shopbot at Techshop RDU. She's a great person and we're really lucky to have her let us into her studio for the evening. There is a $25 studio supply cost to cover the supplies for this event. You may register on Skillshare here:

Can't wait to see you at any or all of these fun events.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Day Seventeen: Consews and Dressmaker

 Note: All machines are officially sold. Thank you everyone who dropped by and picked one up.

Today we're offering up a little of our shop goodness in 3 machines we have for sale from our huge shop upgrade. These are great machines to get started on in the business of textiles. They are machines I used at the start and stood me well as reliable through my first few years of sewing in the business. It's great for you if you're looking to get into the business or simply want a reliable machine to use from time to time. I hope they will bring you happiness as well.

Sold Dressmaker- Super Dial Sewing Machine with Table

This first fun zig-zag machine has been used on everything from making bags to the 40 ft. kite I sewed on this blog. Many (probably most of the items) on here have been sewn with this model and I love her dearly. She's light weight solid metal and a great bridge between home and commercial sewing machines if you're looking to branch out but not yet ready for the full speed of an industrial. Comes with her own table, extra bobbins, and a great machine. I've loved using her and you simply can't go wrong with the Dressmaker brand.

Consews- Heavy Duty with Table and Motors

We have 2 lovely working Consews available for sale. They are both in working order and similar heavy duty models ideal for making bags and accessories. The first model is in working order with all parts. The second model is also in working order, but is missing a head-plate and thread take up-lever. You can cover the head-plate with cardboard and replace the lever for $8-12 on ebay or we can do it for you, but since it's not in perfect working condition we are offering it at the lower price. I'm told that the parts are easy to find and replace, we simply have not had the time to do so. 

If you would like to view the machines or test them out, please drop by our studio at:

5905 Triangle Drive
Raleigh, NC 27617

Email beforehand is always appreciated to let us know you are coming:

Friday, December 23, 2011

Textile Friday: 3D Printed Clothing

    I loved the idea of replicators in Star Trek, the idea that you could take base molecules and make them into real things. Today I wanted to show you that clothing became 3D printed this past year by designer Iris van Herpen. We're seeing a concept of plastic used as clothing this season. It's beautiful to watch and exotic. I love the idea of going home from a long day and simply dropping your old outfit in a bin to have it recycled into a new clean dress for you to wear the next day. Imagine what you would do with all that extra closet space. If you've ever seen Lady Gaga, you've seen her handiwork. The rest of us would probably prefer something more normal today. However the future is an open book. What looks normal today will probably look strange or exotic to our future descendants.

Now before you see this video as the wave of the future, this technology is still several years out (probably closer to decades) and even on these only a portion is made using a 3D printer. Most of the 3D effect is very time consuming (it took 1 printer 7 days printing 24 hrs. a day to produce even the smaller pieces)and very uncomfortable. So, a lot of the pieces are still fabricated using traditional methods and equipment with portions made with a 3D printer. This makes it more of a exotic animal than a real mainstream method. 

The major drawback to this besides current technology that I see is that plastic for most people isn't that great of a material. It doesn't breath well and sewing it tends to give people headaches. Also, 3D printed parts are extremely delicate. They tend to lack the advantages of strength that weaving a garment provides. Nor does plastic last as long as most natural materials. I think either the printing time would have to come down significantly or the materials would have to improve dramatically for clothing. Probably both.

However, there are very few of these drawbacks in the accessory market (items are more static and there is less need for motion or touch). As a result you are already seeing 3D printed shoes by several houses and I predict bags as well in short order. Such as this pair which walked for Mercedes Benes Fashion Week by Andreia Chaves. I think that this is a more commercial twist that has promising trends. The guts are still handmade which shows that the technology still has a way to go...however if you're a fashion icon with money to burn you can own something very few if any other people in the world will be able to.

Have a great weekend everyone, see ya next week. 

Monday, December 19, 2011

Day Sixteen: Acorn to Oak Holiday Craft Show

We're back from the show this past week and wanted to show you this fun video Melsie Glass took of the Acorn to Oak Handmade Etsy Team Craft Show. I'm going to start shortening Etsy Team Craft to ETC for laughs. We loved everyone who came out and made us laugh and can't wait for the next one in the spring right before Mother's Day.

It was so much fun to have you.

I can't believe we're at 670 members for the year. We have grown so much. We started with just 16 good friends at the beginning. Glad to have met each and every one of you and so looking forward to seeing what the new year brings.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Textile Friday: Shop Upgrade/Come Learn with Us

                  This week, Nash and I took the plunge and bought a dozen high-end industrial sewing machines. Everything from Consews, Merrows, Rimoldis, and Singers. We've been debating this for almost a year, but finally had the opportunity to do so. Included are two of my beloved Merrow sergers so I can do high-end work. We are so excited to grow to this new level. And we are inviting you to come with us. While we plan to use the studio during the day, we are opening Li Sashay up on evenings and saturdays for you to dream your dreams. You may take a basic $60 3/hr. class on how to use industrial sewing machines or rent time in the studio starting Jan 1st for $10/hr.
              My hope is to provide a place for people of all ages to dream in fabric.

Have a great weekend everyone. I will see you on Monday.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Day Fifteen: Pieceables Basic Kit

Today we're covering the basic 43 Pieceable Kit. This basic beginner kit features enough Pieceables to get you started making accessories: bracelets, necklaces, small bags, wallets, hacky sacks, and small flying robot space craft. The large easy to snap buttons go together easily and are machine washable. Katie is sporting a Pieceable necklace that took 10 pieces to put together.
Lots of fun! I love how it matches her eyeshadow.

You can get your own kit on Kickstarter here:

One of the things that constantly suprises me about having people betatest Pieceables is that you can make a tremendous amount from a small amount of Pieceables. Here's some typical things people make with just a few Pieceables:

6 Pieceables:

Cat Toy

 Book Mark
Hacky Sack
Pot Holder

12 Pic
Coin Purse
Child's Belt

And various other fun experiences. I can't wait to see what this Friday's group comes up with.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Textile Friday: Alibaba

         If you ever read Arabian Nights as a child, you remember Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves. As an adult, it's the largest small business internet platform based out of China with supposedly over 65 million users. It was launched as a way to connect Chinese manufacturing with business entrepreneurs. As a small business, it can seem like an incredible tool to access much lower than typical retail rates in the US. The math generally puts at you around 1/17th of the cost. But like the cave of wonders, the cave holds both treasure and thieves. Trust the Chinese to offer such a tongue and cheek warning.
        First the treasure: unlimited access to world-wide manufacturing. You can outsource your ideas on a budget. The treasure is pretty obvious the first time you log on and comparison shop.
        Now the warning: It can not be under-estimated how dealing with Alibaba opens you up to dealing with thieves to come into your home. Thieves are not your friends and the same rules of fair business do not apply with someone halfway across the world who likely will never meet you. There's an old proverb that states that "A thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy". Switched packages with inferior products, low quality goods masquerading as higher quality, and worst of all artist theft.
        The last part is the hardest to combat against if your artwork is stolen off your website and ripped. China has a "embrace, extend, and exterminate" policy used by Microsoft in the 80s and 90s which seeks to create a monopoly and drive other competitors/players off the field. Dealing with them is best like Ali Baba, sneak in at night, get what you need, and leave without telling them where you live. Many people set up a separate account just for dealing with Alibaba to prevent information theft. Watermarks are rapidly becoming obsolete as technology gets more advanced. So what is an artist to do? The problem that has plagued name brands like Chanel and Polo has come home to roost for smaller artists as well. Etsy seems particularly plagued by this infestation of late. Frankly it's been something I've struggled with and failed at. The only solution seemed to be in trying to stay ahead of the curve as much as possible. And then I ran across this little gem this week that seemed worthwhile to share with you. Please note, this applies primarily to your PHOTOS. Sad, but true. Your photos are one of best protection you have these days.
         One of the best articles I've seen was by the Nelly Van See family run shop out of Canada. The following is reprinted with their permission from the forum threads: 
"Someone on Alibaba stole my pictures... After 3 days, I managed to get my pictures taken down. Here is how." :

"On alibaba, there is on each product item : ' Report Suspicious Activity '. You need to go in the company's profile, go in product, find your items ( you can use search ) and then on top of the picture there is this link.

Report suspicious activity
Alleged picture copyright infringement
This supplier is using a product picture(s) that does not belong to them. Note: Please provide the URL (website address on and specify the location of the picture(s).

--->In the box you write a description why its your item. Say you made it, nothing more fancy then that.
--->You need to send links that prove this is your item, a very good proof is transactions on etsy, as they state the date of purchase. I sent the oldest transaction link for each item stolen.
--->Then I also sent a link to the item listed in my shop. If you have multiple shops, send links from all your shops: artfire, shoply, flickr, photobucket, deviantart, etc
--->A link of the picture on etsy they stole without the watermark.

And a very good proof, a picture of your photography set up.
I take all my pictures on the same small black rocks, I took pictures of those and took pictures of my hands. I sent those also as a proof.

Then in the box, to upload a picture, I just sent the original picture, straight out of my camera that hasn't been photoshoped yet. If you don't have that, just send the original picture without their watermark on it.

There... this is how.

Now everyone who got their pictures stolen, please do this"

Pretty simple. I don't know if you can actually do business with Alibaba and come out ahead. Paypal just ended their year long partnership and Yahoo is currently in disputes with them over the financial gutting of their company to create Alipay. I've had artist friends who tell me about the great deals they have gotten and more quietly mention sheepishly the equipment that never works right or materials that fall apart literally as the fabric is being sewn together. As Wired Magazine pointed out in one of the best thoughts I've read lately there's a growing trend to substitute American automation for Chinese sweat labor. Working smarter, not harder seems to be the US thought lately similar to the Germans and it's a trend I approve of. :-) Well, that's all folks. So the next time you have to deal with Alibaba ripping your artwork, remember these simple steps to stop it by the NellyVanSee family.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Day Fourteen: Linen Labels

      Well, Friday was a big crazy day. Nash spent most of the day bottling. And Roth released their much anticipated newly bottled FoeHammer Beer. While I can't take credit for the delicious beer, the cool linen tags sitting on top come to you courtesy of our little shop. Each label is hand-printed using 12th century traditional techniques developed as a quality seal to by shipping merchants. I hope that this beer has an equally long and profitable career ahead of it. And if you get a chance, pick up a bottle at your local store.

I have just been informed that people are using the labels as Christmas decorations! Awesome! Glad to see people enjoying a little holiday flare.