Okay. We'll admit it. We've been keeping something from you all. And, we actually didn't count our chickens before they hatched. We just found our little eggs a henhouse and then they hatched. So to speak. Let me back up a bit. Incoming wall of text to explain some history:
We had a dream that started in high school of operating a small cozy business together. We’ve always loved sewing - from Strawberry Shortcake yarn threading cards when we were 3 to creating a custom black silk cocktail gown for a friend a couple years ago. Even with professional lives we always make time to sew.
When Rachel moved to Beloit in 2011 Quillen’s sewing store was still open, but it has since closed. Alco removed their sewing department, and then closed. A few years ago Stuff n’ Such (a quilting store) in the nearby town of Downs closed, and finding physical, local sewing supplies became even harder. Rachel started to take on custom garment requests and in talking to locals realized a need.
We chose a name for the business and started this blog in 2017 and an Etsy store to maybe someday get a business going. Rachel even ordered business cards with a version of the hen logo in 2018. But, life got busy with other distractions and we left things pretty much dormant.
Meanwhile Kate was pursuing her profession in libraries until 2020 when a recent change in job didn’t turn out to be the environment she needed. The COVID-19 pandemic hit and Kate took the opportunity to evaluate long term goals, mainly moving to be closer to family here in Beloit and start that sewing business we'd been talking about for years.
We thought we’d start the business slowly, out of one of our houses. Kate was getting re-settled in a new job and looking for positions closer to her professional background. Finding retail spaces in small towns isn’t always easy so we weren't in a rush. But a store-front opened up in our budget range (thanks for the tip, Mom!) so here we are. Flying around with our tail feathers on fire, setting up a retail space!
It’s exciting to create a cozy, inviting space where other sewing creatives can find the supplies they need. We want to provide notions, tools, materials, and other supplies our locals ask for in the retail space. In our workshop we’d like to help people feel their best in their clothes with simple alterations, repair, or even a custom garment. From wedding and prom alterations to repairing favorite overalls we’re here to help officially. We just have to set up shop.
Oh - and where does a chicken fit in to all of this? We grew up with Mom’s chickens and have found the little birds to be funny, brave, industrious, inquisitive and more. Besides, who wouldn’t want a modern miniature dinosaur for their mascot?
The bird logo on the main page of this website is a real chicken belonging to our Mom years ago that Kate captured mid-trot. She converted the image to black and white and I printed and traced it, reversing the direction of the run and adding a spool of thread. Our outdoor sign will look like this:
Believe me - we're harried hens already, even if our doors aren't open to the public yet. Setting up a business is not for the faint of heart! We close the contract on the storefront on August 16th, but even before then we'll be hard at work setting up a limited liability company with us as members, contacting state and federal departments to collect taxes eventually, making Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram accounts, setting up bank accounts, talking to insurance people and wholesalers, plus researching point of sale systems and a million other details.
Still, we hope to open our doors mid September. We just need to decide exactly what to fill our space with.
When I am stressed I buy fabric, or bake something. Or buy more dollhouse kits. Honestly, I do enjoy putting them together. And just buying the kit and anticipating putting them together calms me. I do stick to a budget each month and hunt for a bargain. With the exception of one or two models I have a maximum price I'm willing to pay. But I'm also trying to complete a series.
This post is really nothing more than me trying to document a hobby that has possibly grown a bit bigger than it should. The slide show below is what I have in my craft cupboard and what is on order.
If nothing else, this is a preview at future blog posts as Kate and I put them together.
Ok, so maybe this blog title is a little dramatic. But it gets the point home. It's taken me literally months to wrap my head around the new reality and new habits that this pandemic has brought. That's why this post is in July and not back in March when the news broke. Here's what I know for now:
The following statements should not elicit a political response in my readers. If you find yourself disagreeing, this post is not for you.
Ok, with that out of the way, the point of this blog post is to provide a few mask making resources Kate and I have found.
However, Kate wasn't a fan of the somewhat baggy fit in front. After a bit more research, she found another style called the Olson Mask.
Link to the Olson Mask Pattern:
Meanwhile, I had requests from friends to make them masks. No style was specified - they just wanted them as soon as possible. I had happened to watch a YouTube video from a costumer named Angela Clayton on masks she was making for donation.
The masks that Angela are making are called A. B. Masks, made by a nurse named Jessica. Although a link to the pattern on Instructables is provided in the YouTube video description, the originator of this pattern has updated it and made a website with a free pattern download and step-by-step .gif instructions. Jessica's hobby is quilting, and she created this pattern for fellow nurses to use over N95 masks and ventilators.
The first time I tried this pattern I skipped the step of trimming the mask after basting the two pieces together. It was rather large on my face.
Here's the link to follow to go directly to the mask pattern download:
And if you want step-by-step instructions, visit the website: https://www.nursemade.co/
There is a nose dart as well as side pleats to this pattern. It was ok, but definitely fogged up the glasses if you huffed and puffed a lot. After I got through the orders from friends I set out to improve the pattern a bit by sewing the top and bottom ties together around my ears.
Many patterns I've seen have elastic around the ears but I didn't want that. The mask fits just fine without elastic. It just doesn't fit anyone else. ;)
I still had plenty of fabrics to choose from, and with a slight modification to how the nose pleat is sewn I had reversible pattern masks. The fashionista in me was secretly thrilled.
With this new batch for myself, I knew I needed to look into something that would hold its shape over my nose. I wasn't really interested in putting pockets in this pattern, and Kate had told me pipe cleaners didn't really do the job well.
So, I did something I've never done before. I clicked on an Instagram ad. The company was legit, and American. The price was ok ($0.50 per nose piece) so I took a gamble and bought the straight style from DIY Mask USA. They are small steel strips with rounded ends and holes in them for sewing. You bend into shape. So far they're very sturdy and fairly easy to work with after you've bent them over a marker for the rounded top. I stitched over the middle to keep it from riding up. And, they function as a stop for my glasses too.
The large size of this mask lets me open my mouth fully underneath for yawns, and hides my double chin. ;)
Are masks fun? Not at all. I don't like breathing in warm humid air. Even in the dead of winter when I put the covers over my head to stay warm at night I keep my mouth and nose out. But they're necessary for now.
And just like bras, I'll wear one in public for the safety of others and myself, and save the relaxing for home.
Twins each with half a brain in reality; the other half displayed here!