Monday, 13 October 2014

Keep it under your hat

In February this year, our little man Felix turned 3. My mum had seen these gorgeous handmade hats by Pleats and Treats on madeit** and suggested Felix might need one. Being a man about town, of course Felix needed one, and it has become his most beloved sun-hat. Which I must say I am secretly very proud of, I would rather he love that, than his hand-me-down Thomas or Bob The Builder hats.

Felix in his Pleats and Treats Hat

I recently (finally) got in contact with Dionie who owns Pleats and Treats in WA, and told her how much we love the hat. I also asked if she might share her handmade adventure, and she so kindly agreed. So without further ado, here is Dionie's story;

Bag made with Amy Butler Fabric
In 2011, we returned to Australia after living abroad, and rather than go straight back to work I wanted to spend time with my young kids. Working full time as a Finance Manager and being a mum to twins meant I hadn't had time to sew for years, but I stumbled across Amy Butler fabrics and fell in love with them. I made a hand bag for myself and also, gifts and was encouraged by my friends to make more, pleats and treats was born at the end of 2011.

Pleats and Treats Owl Sunhat
Fortunately I didn't get into it to pay the mortgage, and while I loved designing and making my own bags, making what you love doesn't always sell and after a year of online selling I had barely reached double figures in my sales. This, combined with a major house renovation, meant things kind of got put on hold until just over a year ago when my friends little girl was having a birthday. She loves owls and I remembered a piece of owl fabric I had in my stash. I had made hats for my boys in the past, so I thought I would make my little friend one too and she loved it, her mum loved it and her mum's friends loved it.

I made up a few more hats and listed them on my website and they started to sell almost straight away. I also bit the bullet and finally got the courage to get a stall at a local market- one bright sunny summers day and I was on my way. I added other things such as my wooden signs and novelty taggies to just widen my audience and use up some of the bits and pieces left over from my home renovation as well as the material scraps I was quickly gathering.

Pleats and Treats Taggie Penguin!

I spent a lot of time on the internet researching things (still do) and realised that not all patterns (or fabrics) are approved for commercial use and as all the bag ones I loved weren't approved I had to come up with my own. A few big bits of flip chart paper worked well for drawing up some ideas and patterns. I also make my own taggie patterns using readily available items to trace around where possible- eg thread reels for eyes. It seemed much easier though, to use approved patterns for both my bucket and cloche hats, so I tried out a couple before finding the ones I now use.

My house is overflowing with my stuff- it is in the dining room, the lounge, the spare room, the laundry cupboards and in the study. I am trying to contain it, but it's a wild beast- I would love a craft room, but that will have to wait until the play room is no longer needed as a play room. I generally set up my machine one end of our large dining table and try to keep to that end. Only when we have people stay do I move to the desk in the study, and I have to move out the moment they leave. My husband thinks that if I get too settled in there he will never see his desk again!

Pleats & Treats have your kid's head covered!

I love the fabrics I use, I love it when a delivery of fabric arrives, especially if it has a new one in it. I love it when a particular fabric works as well, or even better as a hat than I had thought it would. I love seeing my hats walk around the markets, and I love it when people see my signs at markets and it makes them smile. I love it when I get return customers or receive great feedback, because I know that people are enjoying what I make and it is up to scratch- I would hate to think someone was disappointed in one of my items.
Pleats and Treats Bag

Where to from here? I have so many ideas in my head but with such demand for hats, especially at this time of year, I will keep on with them for a while yet. New fabrics keep them fresh and interesting ,and I am always looking for something different. I would like to get into designing my own fabrics as I have got a good idea what patterns people like now.

Anyone know how to get more hours in their week???


** A small disclaimer, I have no association with madeit whatsoever, I do shop on etsy from time to time, however I first check out madeit because as well as handmade, I love Australian made, Karen.**

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