Why Buy Handmade?

(Reposted from 2013 — and updated with new items from Southern Maryland Etsy shops!)

‘Tis the season for shopping until we drop and stuffing the stockings until they’re fit to burst. Here are my top 5 reasons why you should by handmade this holiday (and a few suggestions from my favorite shops):

Your money goes further. Twenty bucks spent with a handmade crafter goes a long way. Add on a few more $20 sales, and it can make a big difference to small businesses like mine. We use our profits for summer camp tuition and scouts fees. School and sports costs or Christmas gifts. Groceries and charitable giving. Most small handmade business owners I know put some of their profits back into their business and the rest into their families.

Giraffe Print Dangle Earrings by Reds HG Designs on Etsy

One-of-a-kind gifts. A handmade gift is totally unique, even if the crafter or artist has made more than one. There are always variations in handmade items that make them special. And, lots of handmade crafters can personalize items or make something just for you or your recipient. No more worrying about duplicate gifts!

Support small businesses. Handmade businesses are the smallest of small businesses. Most of us don’t even have storefronts! When you shop in person at art markets and craft fairs or online at Etsy, you’re helping these small and micro businesses grow.

Pete the Stuffed Owl by Kids Coffee and Crochet on Etsy

Support your local economy. Even better, when you shop from local handmade businesses, you’re sending money right back into your local economy. Many handmade artists and crafters turn around and spend their profits close to home.

Rectangle Glass Tile Pendant by GiftsGalore1 on Etsy

Made with love. OK, this one is corny, but every handmade item carries a little of the maker’s spirit with it. Handmade items are crafted and made with love and intention. There’s a story behind the maker and their creation that you just don’t find in mass-produced items. A little of the maker goes home with every sale.

Red Girls Dress with Batik Heart and Tie Dye by Peace, Baby! Batiks on Etsy

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Important Peace, Baby! Dates for Holiday Ordering and Shipping

Forest green and red candy cane baby bodysuit, size 12 months. Available in my Etsy shop!

Forest green and red candy cane baby bodysuit, size 12 months. Available in my Etsy shop!

It’s beginning to look a lot like … well, you know. And if you’re planning to shop from Peace, Baby! Batiks this holiday season, here are some important dates to keep in mind.

Sunday, Dec. 7: Last day to place a custom order — either through email or my Etsy shop

Thursday, Dec. 18: The last day to place an order on ready-to-ship items from my Etsy shop for Christmas delivery

Friday, Dec. 19: The last day I’ll be shipping orders until after Christmas

Saturday, Dec. 20: The last day the U.S. Postal Service will guarantee delivery in time for Christmas on First Class packages

Event Calendar

You can also see me at these local events before Christmas:

Thursday, Nov. 20: All Crafts Considered
NPR Headquarters, 1111 North Capitol NW, Washington, D.C.
3-8 p.m.
More info: http://events.npr.org/npr/Home/EventDetails/7519

My first-ever event in DC! I’m excited to sell at this event at the NPR Headquarters. It’s open to the public, so come on by to shop for handmade gifts, music, food, and beverages. Metro accessible!

Friday-Sunday, Dec. 5-7: McLean Holiday Crafts Show
McLean Community Center, 1234 Ingleside Ave. McLean, VA
Friday 11 a.m.-7 p.m.; Saturday 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; Sunday 11 a.m.-4 p.m.
More info: http://www.mcleancenter.org/calendar/icalrepeat.detail/2014/12/05/498/96/32nd-annual-mclean-holiday-crafts-show

Three days of handmade goodness? Count me in. I’m at this established local holiday market for the first time. Come over and say hi! I have postcards with a coupon for $1 off admission; email me if you’d like me to mail you one.

Friday, Dec. 19: The Christmas Village
St. Mary’s County Fairgrounds, Leonardtown, MD
3-9 p.m.
More info: http://www.somdchristmas.com/

I can’t wait for this brand new holiday event! It’s all weekend long, and promises to be your new favorite holiday event. Music, food, holiday cheer, and the chance to buy unique last-minute holiday gifts. Look for me on Friday night!

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Easy Banana Muffins — With Chocolate

A few months ago, I joined a fitness group on Facebook that’s run by a high school friend. We motivate each other, keep each other honest and on task, and — perhaps best of all — we share healthy recipes and food ideas.

A few months ago, someone in the group shared these easy banana muffins. There’s no flour, and it’s easy to make them vegan. I was sold when she said she substituted chocolate chips for the raisins.

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Banana Muffins

3 mashed bananas
1/3c applesauce
2c oatmeal
1/4c milk (I use plain soymilk)
1/2c raisins or chocolate chips (sometimes I do both or use dried cranberries)
1t vanilla
1t cinnamon

Drop by tablespoonfuls onto a greased cookie sheet or — my preferred method — divide the batter evenly in a 12-space muffin tin. Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes.

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What’s in Peace, Baby! Batiks’ big red craft show bin?

My big red craft show bin is full of wonderful and magical things … OK, not really. But it does contain the essentials I need for an event plus a few extras. It always stays packed so I don’t forget things like pens, scissors, and masking tape.

Here’s what’s inside.

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Inside the big red bin are four shoe-box size bins. The first has business cards, flyers and postcards (if I have them), and the little trays I use for business cards. (Plus some random stuff like old receipt books and a photo album I display if I have space.)

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The next shoebox has the little signs I put on my tables and hang elsewhere in my display. And rocks. Why rocks? My son picked them up for me once at a windy event, and they’re handy for holding down signs, business cards, and flyers.

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This shoebox has everything I need for tagging and shipping my items, including tags, ribbon, safety pins, and note paper. The scissors, hole punch, needle and thread, and an ink pad area also in this bin. The stamp I use on my bags also lives in here. This is the box I take out the most at home.

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I forgot a picture, and I’m out of town without my bin. There’s a fourth bin that has the things I need to make sales at an event. It includes a couple of small aprons, pens, my tax ID form from the state, a price and shipping chart for my items, and some extra receipt books.

What else is in the big red bin?

My tablecloths, four of them.

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Tent stakes, bungees, an extension cord, and the arms for the dress hanger my husband built for me.

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Masking tape, emergency cheap shopping bags, and extra business cards and receipt books.

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Various signs, decorations, and frames.

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Plastic chain, my cash box, and the scarf hanger (when it’s empty – I mostly leave the scarves on it and stash it in a bin of inventory).

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The cash box always has cash and change, my Square credit card readers, pens, and the receipt book I’m currently using. I also keep sales tax charts from Maryland and Virginia in here; they’re the states I vend in most often.

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And, yes, it all fits.

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Peace, Baby! Batiks’ Big Craft Fair List

060314-bigcraftshowlistI’ve got two events this month, and I learned the hard way that I need to keep myself organized. I went to more than one show where I forgot something – luckily never something important, like my inventory. (Ha ha … it could happen.)

So, I created my “big craft fair list” to keep myself straight. I put onto the list everything I could ever need at a craft show or art festival – even the obvious things. I used to print the list out before every event and use it as I packed the car the night before an event. I got smart last month and laminated my list to save a few trees.

I’m sharing the list here for my fellow craft business owners, and I hope it saves you some headaches. Obviously you’ll have to tweak the list to suit your business, but at least it will give you an idea where to start.

A note about the “red bin” item on the list: That’s my big bin of craft fair stuff. I keep my signs, table coverings, and other essentials like tent stakes, scissors, bungees, pens, and receipt books in there. I’ll do my next post on what’s in the red bin. It prevents me from going around the house scrambling to find the things I need last minute. The big red bin stays packed all the time.

BIG CRAFT FAIR LIST

__ shirts (duh!)

__ hangers

 

__ white table

__card table

__camp table

__table with shelves

__ chair(s)

__ canopy

__ weights

__ trellises

__ side walls

__ bungees

__ wire shelf

__ dress hanger

__ clothes rack

__ wagon

 

__ banner

__ red bin

__ business cards

__ flyers

__ bags

__ labels

__ stamp and stamp pad

__ receipt books

__ pens

 

__ sales tax certificate

__ liability form

 

__ cash

__ change jar

__ checkbook

__ lunch/water

__ camera

__ sunscreen

__ phone

__ phone charger

__ phone cord

__ Square

__ stylus

 

__ tape

__ scissors

__ calculator

__ notebook

__ ribbon

__ safety pins

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Your Frequently Asked Questions, Answered!

At events and online, I get a lot of questions from customers. Here are the most common queries I get.

Does your clothing bleed?

Wash your tee on cold, and it won’t accidentally dye your socks or Dad’s underwear. If you decide you want to wash it on hot, I make no guarantees, but I will tell you this: When I wash mixed batches of shirts, I use Shout Color Catchers, and I’ve never had the colors bleed onto each other. That said, though, I always recommend you wash them on cold.

New Peace, Baby! Earth tees. Take good care of them, and they won't bleed or fade!

New Peace, Baby! Earth tees. Take good care of them, and they won’t bleed or fade!

Do the colors fade?

Not that I can tell. Besides their vibrant colors, one of my favorite things about the Procion dyes I use is how they work. They fuse themselves to the cotton fibers in the garments I dye, giving deeper and more permanent colors. We have a few Peace, Baby! tees kicking around my house (shocking, I know!), and some of them have been washed over and over. I can’t see any fading even on those often-worn tees.

Do the T-shirts shrink?

Wash them on cold, and the shirts should not shrink any more. By the time a shirt gets to you, I’ve already put it through its paces. They get washed at least twice, one of those times on hot. They all get put in boiling water to remove the wax. Some of the blanks I use come to me preshrunk. Others shrink a bit as I work with them. I always strive to let someone know when an item runs small – and by how much – in person and in my Etsy listings.

Some of the brands I use naturally run small, specifically:

  • Gerber, which I occasionally buy secondhand for baby bodysuits
  • Rabbit Skins, which I use for toddler and preschool-age tees
  • American Apparel, which I use for preschool, adult, and ladies tees

Please don’t ever hesitate to ask me if you have questions about sizing.

A blue VW Bug tee boiling on my stove.

A blue VW Bug tee boiling on my stove.

Do you do custom orders?

I do! I love the creative ideas and combinations my customers have come up with. To place an order, you can either email me at peacebabybatiks@gmail.com or visit my Etsy shop and click the “Request Custom Order” button in the left-hand column of the page.

Turnaround time is anywhere from two days to two weeks. It depends on what you’re ordering, the size of your order, and whether I have the blanks on hand for your order.

Totally fun Cutie Pi custom order baby dress set.

Totally fun Cutie Pi custom order baby dress set.

Can you batik my favorite team or cartoon character?

No. Because I don’t want to run into copyright issues, I don’t do any logos or copyrighted images on my T-shirts.

Are your T-shirts organic?

No. Organic T-shirts are very expensive, and my little company is still young. Simply said, I just can’t afford to keep a stock of them because I don’t know how well they would sell at the price I’d have to set. I can easily get organic T-shirts, and if that’s something you’re interested in, drop me a line and I can calculate prices for you.

I do try to buy quality secondhand items – mostly baby bodysuits – when I can and use those in my dyeing. Occasionally, I’ll hit upon an organic bodysuit or two. I’ll always make note that an item is organic when I list it on Etsy.

Adding organic tees to my line is a goal.

Do you use natural dyes?

No, I do not. The Procion dyes I use are a chemical. The reason I haven’t investigated natural dyes yet is twofold: Cost, and the fact that I love the bright colors of the Procion dyes. Natural dyes just can’t do that. I do plan to look into them soon, though, and perhaps have a separate line of items using those dyes.

A batch of pink items soaking.

A batch of pink items soaking.

Do you just make baby clothes?

I’ve got clothing and accessories for everyone from 0 to 100+. Baby and toddler clothing is the bulk of my business, but I also make T-shirts for youth and adults. I’ve got ladies dresses, too! And remember, you can always order something custom from me if you don’t see the adult tee you’d like.

Adult ladies' purple and yellow tee, done on an American-made shirt!

Adult ladies’ purple and yellow tee, done on an American-made shirt!

Got more questions? I’d love to hear from you!

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Let’s Meet in Person This Spring and Summer!

043014-artsfest13From spring through Christmastime, I try to do lots of events – at least once a month. I’d love to meet you in person and talk to you about my batiks! I always travel with my entire inventory, which is larger than what you see in my Etsy shop. Everything you see online will be with me – plus tons of other items! I hope to meet you in person!

Here’s a schedule of confirmed events for me for spring and summer. Additional dates will be added as I hear back from the juries for the other events to which I have applied. (Keep your fingers crossed!) You can always find a list of my up-coming events at my Facebook page.

Richmond Arts in the Park
Byrd Park, Richmond, VA
Saturday, May 3, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Sunday, May 4, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

My first time taking my show so far from home! I can’t wait to check out this outdoor arts festival.

More info: http://www.richmondartsinthepark.com/index.htm

Fenton Street Market
Veteran’s Plaza, Silver Spring, MD
Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

This is a weekly market of local arts, crafts, food, and more. I’ve wanted to check it out for years, and I can’t wait to participate. I’ll be at the Fenton Street Market on these dates so far: June 14, July 12, and Aug. 16.

More info: http://www.fentonstreetmarket.com/

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Egg Carton Flower Wreaths

I’ve got to come clean: I hoard paper egg cartons. Every time we empty one, I just can’t bear to throw it in the recycling. In fact, I had so many saved that we were able to make these wreaths and still bring four egg cartons into my son’s class for a project they’re working on.

We’ve made egg carton flowers before as Mother’s Day gifts, but this year we did them in time for Easter. Chances are pretty good I saw the wreath idea on Pinterest, but it’s kind of a no-brainer, so I never went back for the directions. And once you’ve been through these instructions once, you won’t need them again either. :)

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Materials:

Paper egg cartons
Paint
Paper plates
Hot glue
Ribbon

I began by cutting the egg cups apart. Some of them made cool tulip-like shapes. The next time around, I think I’ll trim all of them to look like these. They’re more flowerlike than the other cups.

I made a wreath base from a paper plate and painted it green.

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My son and I chose the colors we wanted, and we went nuts painting. The weather cooperated, so we took the show outdoors.

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I love how they came out! My son even went around our yard to get inspiration from the flowers growing in our landscape beds. Daffodils, hyacinth, and tulips are blooming this time of year, so he had lots to look at. They definitely influenced his color choices.

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A few days later, we were ready to glue. Nine egg cups fit around the circles I had cut for the wreath bases. I hot glued them on to ensure they would stay. Punch a hole for a ribbon hanger, and you’ve got a great gift! Or, do like we did: Make one to keep and one to share.

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Rumpledethumps for St. Patrick’s Day

I’ll start with this: I know this is a Scottish dish and St. Patrick’s Day is an Irish holiday, but I didn’t know that when I started making it, and now it’s tradition in our family.

And I can’t break with tradition now, right?

So Scottish rumpledethumps for St. Patrick’s Day it is. Besides, it’s just so much fun to say!

Rumpledethumps are similar to an Irish colcannon, which is a concoction of potatoes and cabbage. The Scots added butter and cheese, and bam! You have one of my favorite dishes to make all year long.

I serve this with Irish soda bread and some kind of vegetarian Irish stew.

Doesn’t it look good?? Photo via Food.com user Pinot Grigio.

Rumpledethumps
Source: Sundays at Moosewood
This version: Food.com

5 large potatoes
2-1/2 cups chopped green cabbage
2 leeks, washed and chopped
2-1/2 cups broccoli, coarsely chopped (frozen is OK)
6 tablespoons butter
1/4 teaspoon mace
salt and pepper
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup cheddar cheese, grated

Peel and coarsely chop the potatoes. Boil in salted water until tender, about 15 minutes.

Steam the cabbage, leeks, and broccoli.

Melt 2 T of the butter and add the mace.

Combine the cabbage, leeks, and broccoli with the seasoned butter; salt and pepper to taste.

Drain and mash the potatoes with the remaining butter and the milk. Salt and pepper to taste.

Combine potatoes with other vegetables.

Oil a 9 x 13 pan and spread the vegetable mixture in it. Sprinkle with grated cheddar.

Broil for a few minutes, until the cheese is bubbly and slightly browned.

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Behind the Scenes: How Do You Get the Wax Off?

Batik involves using hot wax on fabric to resist dye, and in really intricate traditional batik, the fabric goes through several steps of waxing, dyeing, and drying before the wax is removed to finish the art.

My batik is much simpler — I often do white designs on a garment that I then dye. It only has to go through one step of waxing and dyeing.

But the wax still has to come off. I’ve tried scraping it off with my fingernail (doesn’t work) and ironing the garment between layers of paper bag (too slow). The best solution I’ve found?

Boiling.

030414-boiling-01Yep. I make batches of “onesie stew” in my kitchen on a fairly regular basis.

030414-boiling-02After a few minutes in the boiling water, I pour the shirts out and give them a wash on hot in the washer. At that point, they’re almost ready for you!

 

 

 

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