Candy + Bagel

Responsibly Handmade Fashion by Jean Chung

designer

back from TNNA (recap soon/just not now)

Jean ChungComment

No photos yet (they're on my new Sony Nex!) but I just wanted to report that I'm back in California in one piece. Last day was totally hectic. I had to go to a class at 8, which ended at 9. Had a short break time, knitting with Teresa (of CanarySanctuary), Allyson (of HollaKnits & The Sweatshop of Love), Andrea (of Andrea Knit Design) and Amy (of Knitscene). Then off to meet with a vendor who wanted to have a short interview with me for their website.

And then the vendor gave me a lot of yarn samples for yarn support which was great, but I only had a small bag.. and so I had to frantically find a box to mail a package from the hotel! And then it was time to leave already. :(  I had missed the lunch gathering with designers.

Next time, definitely going to stay until Monday!

Fiber & Fabric Online Shopping Reviews

Jean ChungComment

'Tis the holiday season and there are so many holiday deals going on online. Since I get asked often where I shop for my yarns and fabric and other tools, I thought I'd do a quick review of the places that I love. Please note that I have NO affiliation with these stores whatsoever and I have not been contacted by any of them to do this review. These reviews are strictly from my own shopping experience so if you talk to other people, they might tell you a different story, but I have shopped at these stores at least twice and spent around $200~$800 at each store over the years. 1. Jimmy Beans Wool (www.jimmybeanswool.com)

KeywordsFree shipping over $75, Flat rate shipping $4,  woolwatcher deals, customer service

I've been a fan of JimmyBeansWool since the day 1 of my online yarn shopping days. You know how it goes, when you start knitting, you try to save money and shop at Jo Ann and Michaels only. Nothing wrong with their yarns, but once you get used to some artisan-made yarns, there's no going back. I tried to shop for deals and good shipping policy, and that's where I found JBW.

All orders over $75 get free shipping, and all orders before $75 get $4 flat rate shipping fee. I always got my orders within 2~3 business days. Sometimes I order things on Friday, and get them by Monday.  JBW is located in Reno, and I'm in Southern California.

If you're a regular member of their website, you also get 5% back each time you order and a discount code for free shipping, and that can be used on your next "quarter" shopping.

Woolwatcher.com is their subsidiary website, where they put one yarn on sale (anywhere from 20~80% off) for 2 hours. If it gets sold out before 2 hours, it automatically rotates to another yarn on sale. I love it and have it bookmarked, and sometimes just have it open in the background when I'm working on my computer a lot. :D

When I was designing my Lady Mary, I ordered two skeins of the Earl Gray colorway of Madelinetosh Tosh Lace from them. They emailed me right away to let me know that the skeins were from different dye lots so they wanted to make sure if I was okay with that before shipping them, or if I wanted to hold and wait a couple of weeks for their new Madelinetosh shipment. How can you NOT love it when an online store has local yarn store customer service? Well, strictly speaking, JBW does have a brick-and-mortal store in Reno, but I've been at plenty of local stores with less than desirable customer service so I'm still impressed.

2. The Woolery (www.woolery.com)

Keywords: Spinning wheels, free shipping over $100, flat rate & other shipping options both domestic and international.

Ah... The Woolery..

I stumbled upon Woolery's website while I was shopping for my spinning wheel. I already knew which wheel I wanted to get: Ashford Kiwi (Kiwi 2 came out after mine and Woolery now carries Kiwi 2 only). I went to WEBS website (yarn.com) but it was backordered and I've never bought anything from there so I was looking around for more options. I knew that I could either wait until my next visit to nor cal and get it from Purlescence Yarns in Sunnyvale, CA, or make an appointment and drive up to LA to see this vendor who sells and teaches spinning wheels out of her home... Both seemed like a hassle so I opted for online shopping. Then I was worried about shipping.

So I randomly did a google search and found this store Woolery. I loved the website layout. Sure, it's not as FANCY but it looked so cozy and welcoming. haha. And their store is really far from where I live but their shipping was free with my spinning wheel. AND, it came with "free" 2-yard Niddy Noddy, and 1/2 lbs of spinning fiber (wool). The photo had deep brown wool which I wasn't excited about but when it came it was natural/undyed wool! Love! It's like they read my mind. haha.

2 days ago, I realized that I finally need extra bobbins (my wheel came with 3) and I briefly thought about saving $ and get plastic bobbins but then I'd have to get a bobbin winder which are MORE expensive. So I thought, I'll make it easier and just get real bobbins. So I went back to Woolery, placed the order YESTERDAY. This morning, I get an email that my order is shipped with tracking number. The 2 bobbins cost $24 and they had $8 flat rate shipping.

They also have tons of affordable spinning fiber and I was ogling the corriedale tops but decided to wait. I just bought some over the weekend.... heh.

3. Fabric.com (www.fabric.com)

Keywords: free shipping over $35, decent customer service, fast shipping

Do you see a pattern here? I love places with free or flat rate shipping. This place doesn't offer flat rate but $35 is the lowest price threshold for free shipping I've ever seen. Besides, few yards of this and that easily go over $35.

This place, has the lowest price on all fabric anywhere. I live near LA, so I can shop at the Fashion District, and I have two fabric warehouses in my county. Even compared to them, this place offers good selection of basic fabrics and at really low prices. They have daily deals and even has machine feet for my Janome machine. Their free shipping is not that slow. It usually gets here in 3~4 business days.

The only time I had a problem with their shipping was when my paypal had an error message right when I hit "send payment." I couldn't tell if the payment went through or not. I waited, but nothing from fabric.com. So I called and was able to speak to a rep right away (no annoying hold listening to radio music) and the rep told me that the payment was not received. I paid with my credit card instead over the phone and waited for my package. No package. So I called again, and a different rep tells me they still don't see payment record. So I canceled the entire order and that was that. Nothing was charged. It just kind of deflated my excitement that's all.

4. Fabric Mart (www.fabricmartfabrics.com)

Keywords: Slow shipping, good selection, good price, Dollar Deals.

So this place feels like a mom and pop store to me. When I get my packages, they're usually in recycled boxes. My last order, swimsuit fabric, came in a motor oil box. haha. And orders come within 1 week or so. Pretty slow in this day and age.

But. The huge upside is that you get to shop some of the nicest fabric. I got my Burberry shirting fabric here, and Marc Jacobs fabric. They also carry Anna Sui fabric, and Ralph Lauren. Sometimes these are also on sale! Their Dollar Day Deals are great. Seriously, it's worth the wait as long as you're not on some kind of a deadline.

5. Doodlebug Yarns (www.doodlebugyarn.com)

Keywords: free shipping over $75, $5 flat rate shipping, fast shipping, indie yarns

Last but not least, Doodlebug Yarns. I haven't bought anything from here in the past 6 months because of my "yarn diet" but there was a period of time when I ordered from them like every other week. It always comes FAST and with a handwritten note from Gayla, the owner. Sometimes with a sample of a different yarn that she thought was good.

When I first found Doodlebug, they carried the usual. Some Cascades, Malabrigo, and other nice workhorse yarns. Nothing TRULY special, but the website offered some of the best prices. Then slowly, they cleaned out the Cascades and added more independent/smaller company yarns like Abstract Fiber, Three Irish Girls, Skein, Anzula, etc.

I also ordered needles from here and I think they're priced reasonably. Loved the HiyaHiya needle I got from them.

So that's it! These are my favorite online stores for my sewing and knitting needs. If you have any favorites, I'd love to know, of course!

I am small.

Jean ChungComment

 

By small, I don't mean figuratively, I'm not small hearted or small voiced or anything like that.

By small, I mean my size.

I'm not bony or skinny, but my average Korean body in this everything-must-be-big-America often result in interesting shopping experiences.

I'd go for a dress shopping for a really romantic dinner date, and I'd find myself trying on 10 different silhouettes. One is too long for my height. One is too short for my height. One is too high-waist for my figure, and one is too low waist for my figure. One would be too "va boom" for my figure and one would be too simple to be anything special. And so on.

I am 5'4" and my "waist to knee" is 20" while the average American size for my size is 23 3/8". And my hip size is about 2.5" smaller than what an "average American" at my dress size would be.

All this came to me because I started sewing. Sewing pattern sizes haven't changed since 1970s and unlike the "vanity sizing" you see in stores (when you say you wear size 6, please know that you're actually size 12 or 14 in the "real" size; Marilyn Monroe was a size 10, and she was not big) which clothing companies arbitrarily adopted to make the consumers feel better about themselves and buy their clothes over other stores' clothes.

I started paying more attention to body sizes. You hear this all the time "shopping clothes for me is not really fun because I don't look good in anything." Or "women come in many different sizes!" There are plus size clothing stores for people who are bigger than average people, so why isn't there a petite shop? Why do short people have to face the humiliation of shopping in the junior section or worse, wear something that doesn't fit right?

Although in knitting, when you're looking at different sizes to knit, you can pick the bust size that's closest to your size and you're good to go because unless you're REALLY different from most people, the stretchiness of knitted fabric makes it easy to make something fit you. But sometimes it's about the proportion than the fit.

You can see in many of my designs that I like to knit sweaters little bit longer, sleeves are little shorter, etc. I think I was subconsciously knitting for my people, i.e. short and petite people.

So lately, I've been thinking about "designing for petite people." I know the general trend of knitting designers going all the way up to 52" bust but I think I want to focus on people in the 28"~38" bust sizes. I don't want to pretend to know how my garments will fit on a person with 52" bust, because I don't. If I take my design and just increase the stitches, I don't know if it'll be flattering on that person. What designers usually work with is STANDARD (is there really any standard in body sizing?) size charts and those assume that you're 5'7"~5'8". I don't know about you but I've seen people who have 48" bust and 5'4". This person will most likely be unhappy with the way my design fits on her body because I worked from the standard chart and she is not standard size.

There are many designers who cater to plus size/women's size people and I don't believe there's a place there for me as a designer. Maybe someday I'll have the luxury of doing an expansive survey of women of different sizes and be able to make my designs in bigger sizes.

Of course, for my designs in many publications will still be available in bigger sizes because that's what most editors specifically want, but for my self published patterns, I will be focusing on the audience I want to cater to: short, petite size people.

I understand that my decision may be an unpopular one. But after carefully reviewing some of the feedback I got from my customers and my own view of fashion, I realized that many of my designs are considered "young" and many of my customers told me that they were knitting my designs for the younger women in their lives like their granddaughter or younger friends. I want to be the designer that these people remember when they get requests from their daughters for a new sweater or from their school friends for a shawl.

Because, let's face it. Your 17-year-old daughter isn't going to much appreciate a huge circle lace shawl. It just doesn't belong in their closet.

Another reason why I'm doing this is just general promotion of healthy life. I know that plus size people can have a healthy life... It's just that most plus size people don't. And I'm not going to pretend that I'm okay with this new notion of  "we should cater to everyone, even the unhealthy ones, because that way we appeal to more people who are overweight and we can sell more designs and we'll make more money!"

If you looked at my patterns and thought you wanted to make one for yourself but it doesn't come in your size because you are 5'3" and have 48" bust-48" waist-52" hip... Well.... That's really your personal problem and not mine. You can always buy the pattern and hopefully you know how to make a swatch and take the gauge and re-calculate. I don't have to design anything to please people who are already overindulging themselves to the point to near-death.

A little harsh? I think so too. But hopefully this means that I can really concentrate on my audience (really, there aren't that many young knitters OR designs in the knitting community) and offer something unique.

 

By the way, I am perfectly medium and average in my home country, South Korea.