Crafty Broads

The Real Cost of Cheap Clothing

What does that $14 shirt really cost? Info graphic.
What does that $14 shirt really cost?

photo and price breakdown courtesy of macleans.ca (click the photo for more details)

This breakdown of the cost of an average shirt really shows some of the major problems with the clothing industry. Specifically, why almost all ready-to-wear clothing is horribly unethical in several ways. Let’s break it down:

Treating workers like machines…

The people who make these shirts are paid $0.12 per hour. Now, this particular example is from Bangladesh; some countries, like China, have wages that are much higher – double, even – at $0.24 an hour, or more! And they get the privilege of working 10-14 hours per day, for a whopping monthly income that gets as high as… $250. PER MONTH. For working crazy long hours in crowded factories with major air and noise pollution. And then there are the folks who make the fabric (see below about what that means) who are spending their days inhaling all kinds of chemicals for the same great pay in similarly horrifying places.

…results in low quality workmanship…

Because when you are expected to meet a quota, it is all about SPEED. So the stitch length is longer, which means it’s more likely to come loose while you’re wearing or washing it. I’m sure you all have as many shirts as I do with hems that are pulling out?

…and to keep the prices low, they use the cheapest material around – PETROLEUM. Ahem, I mean Polyester. So it’s great for the environment.

Did you know that polyester is made from petroleum and coal? And, in order to produce it, you start with an acid and alcohol chemical reaction to make a melted plastic puddle, which is stretched into ribbons and dried. And then cut into chips and dried some more. And then melted again and forced through tiny holes to form strands which can be knit or woven into fabric.

And you love wearing it, don’t you? (No. No, you don’t.)

Also, because it’s made of plastic, it doesn’t breathe when you wear it. So when you get hot and sweat, the heat and moisture are trapped between the garment and your body, making it more prone to permanent odors and pit stains and you more prone to discomfort while wearing it. And if you’re cold, it forms a barrier between your skin and whatever heat source you may use to try to warm up.

Natural fibers (cotton, linen, silk, hemp) on the other hand are breathable – meaning heat and moisture can escape when you get warm, and can get in when you are cold.

WHAT IF CRAFTY BROADS MADE THIS SHIRT?

Well, first, we don’t have the economies of scale that mass producers do – so our suggestion would be lobbying to bring good manufacturing jobs back to the USA. But for the sake of this blog post, let’s see what it would cost to make it here. We’re going to assume that we already have a pattern, and that our workers take 2 hours to make the shirt, since we don’t have an assembly line factory or machines that cut the fabric for us. Here’s how it breaks down:

$50.00 – Labor: 2 hours @ $25/hour – our current labor rate
$10.00 – Materials: 1 yard of 100% organic cotton or hemp fabric and a few buttons
$ 0.00 – Factory Overhead: included in our labor rate
$ 0.00 – Factory Margin: None, we don’t mark things up
$ 0.00 – Shipping: None, we don’t outsource our labor
$ 0.00 – Agent: None, no outsourcing of labor means we don’t need someone to find a factory for us
$ 0.00 – Retail Markup: None, you buy directly from us

TOTAL COST TO CONSUMER: $60.00

You could extrapolate with some assumptions – perhaps a US factory with special equipment could make it in just one hour, and paying at least minimum wage* (currently $8.25 in Illinois) could perhaps reduce the labor to $25 or so, including its overhead and markup. And with economies of scale, the material cost could probably be reduced by a dollar or two, bringing the wholesale cost to around $33. If we assume the same 60% markup by the retailer, that would bring the total to $52.80.

*We’d argue that sewing is skilled labor, and should be compensated at a higher rate because it can’t be done by just anyone. Furthermore, the minimum wage is not really a living wage and desperately needs… a raise.

So… in summary, yes, it would cost quite a bit more than we are used to paying to have ethically made clothing. It would mean a return to a time when we bought a much lower volume of much better quality garments. It would mean that we’d wear the same clothing over and over, instead of having a new outfit for every day of the month. It would mean taking better care of our clothes – using gentler cycles, hang-drying more things, and even hand washing from time to time.

What do you think? Is it worth the higher price to have ethically made, better quality garments? Will you start making that change in your wardrobe?

Holly and Dan’s Backyard Wedding | Indianapolis, IN | Day-of-Coordination

Here’s another throwback post for you – this couple will be celebrating their 2nd anniversary in just a few weeks!!

brickley_wedding_301

Holly and Dan found us through A Practical Wedding. They were living in San Francisco and planning a wedding in Indianapolis, and wisely decided to get some help pulling everything together!

So, we harnessed the power of the internet for video chats and many emails, added a few phone calls for good measure, and then made the quick drive down to Indianapolis for their wedding weekend! (Yes – we travel!)

Speaking of details, there are so many from this wedding that I’d like to share with you…

When I pulled up to this beautiful home, I immediately felt I was in an era of old Hollywood glamour! Photo: Eric Rudd Photography

This is Holly’s grandmother’s house. It is unbelievably beautiful. Of course they leapt at the opportunity to use it at the backdrop for their wedding! Aside from its obvious charm, this house is a place where the two of them had spent many, many days together so it holds a special place in their hearts.

Don't you love this outdoor family photo wall? Photo: Eric Rudd Photography

They decided to fully embrace the era of the home, using vintage colored glass goblets at their place settings and retro cotton prints for the napkins and table linens. Each table had a different print, and Holly sewed all of the linens herself.

Vintage goblets and bowls gave the wedding a retro vibe. Photo: Eric Rudd Photography

And my favorite thing? The seating assignments! Holly made magnets using the same fabrics as the tablecloths and napkins and used them to hold up polaroids of each guest; they found their table by matching the magnet to the tablecloth. What fun!

brickley_wedding_014

After a lovely ceremony in the side yard, everyone moved through the historic home for cocktail hour, and then into a tent in the backyard for the reception. Though they’d loaded an iPod with music for the night, it ended up mostly collecting dust – Holly’s Uncle and his band were expected to play for an hour or two, but they honored the crowd’s request to go all night long!

brickley_wedding_069

Congratulations and Happy Anniversary, Holly & Dan!

VENDORS
Officiant: Dan’s Brother
Photography: Eric Rudd Photography
Catering & Cupcakes: Monon Food Company
Florist: Circle City Planners
Band: Holly’s Uncle Tim
Hair & Makeup: Spa French Pharmacie
Vintage Rentals: Violet Vintage
Tent & Other Rentals: A Classic Party Rental
Portable Restrooms: Hoosier Portable Restrooms
Transportation: Integrity Limo Service

All photos were taken by Eric Rudd Photography and are reposted here the photographer’s permission. Photos in this and all posts are protected by copyright, and are not available for reproduction, redistribution, or any other purpose without written authorization from the photographer.

Louise’s Yellow and Lace Tea-Length Wedding Dress

Louise dress on bookshelf_small

Photo © iluvphoto

Concept

Louise came to us looking for something unique and a little bit funky that would nevertheless say “This is the bride!” She wanted something tea-length with a full-skirt and sleeves – and she didn’t want it to be white. That would be a pretty tall order in your average bridal shop, which is why she came to us!

An artist and crafter herself, she was excited to collaborate with us to create something new and special – and so were we. We came up with a couple ideas for her, including the option of designing our own printed fabric for the dress! When we met to go over the designs, she came with her own sketch too, and between the three of us, we settled on a yellow dress with a full lace overlay.

Work-in-Progress & Challenges

We tried a new technique with the mockup and lining on this dress and it proved to be much more effort than it was worth. So, although it turned out well in the end, we will not be repeating that one. Lace always has its own challenges – since it can be quite expensive, we wanted to get the fit absolutely perfect before buying or cutting it. Louise was a great sport through several fittings as we made sure everything was in its proper place, and that those tricky sleeves fit just right!

Somewhere along the way, the groom got so jealous of the custom garment process that he decided to go out and have a custom suit made for himself too!!

Finished Garment

During one of our later fittings, Louise asked us to incorporate some material from her grandmother’s wedding gown into her dress somehow, and left us free reign as to how exactly that should be accomplished. We’d been talking about her hand-crafted wedding details, and she showed us a photo of the custom silk screen she’d made for her welcome bags – an outline of the state of Illinois with their names and wedding date in the middle. We decided to mirror that with an embroidered version (in blue thread, for that ubiquitous  “something”) inside the lining of her skirt. We all got pretty emotional at the reveal.

A patch of her grandmother's wedding dress, hand-embroidered with blue thread

A patch of her grandmother’s wedding dress, hand-embroidered with blue thread. Photo © iluvphoto

We were also able to incorporate some of her grandmother’s dress as the ivory leaves behind the flower on her custom birdcage veil; along with her yellow dress, she planned to wear teal shoes and this headpiece brings all those colors together.

Louise's veil, complete with fabric from her grandmother's dress

Louise’s veil, complete with fabric from her grandmother’s dress

As is often the case, we were glad to have finished this project, but also rather sad to see it leave our shop. In the end, though, we were so happy to see Louise beaming as she wore it on her wedding day!

Photo © iluvphoto

Photo © iluvphoto

Congratulations Louise & Michael! It was truly our pleasure making this dress with you!!

Photo © iluvphoto

Photo © iluvphoto

Photos in this and all posts are protected by copyright, and are used with permission. They are not available for reposting or any other purpose without written authorization from the photographer.

Alison’s Custom Beaded Blue Silk Dupioni Mother-of-the-Bride Dress

Let’s just say this post is a throwback Thursday deal, since we made this dress nearly two years ago…

Alison wanted something lovely to wear to her daughter’s wedding, and she wanted it to be in a similar style to Hayley’s 50’s-inspired wedding dress. She wanted something that would suit the mother-of-the-bride but also be wearable for other special events. We settled on a retro-style dress with 3/4-length sleeves, a v-neck, and a true tea-length hem.

Concept sketch for Alison's dress

Concept sketch for Alison’s dress

Though Alison was initially leaning towards a color in the red family, when we spotted this beautiful blue beaded silk dupioni, we just knew in our guts that it was exactly what she wanted – and it was!

Alison and daughter Hayley, whose dress we also made, at her wedding

Alison and her daughter, whose wedding dress we also made

We are happy to report that we ran into Alison a year after the wedding – wearing her beautiful dress at the 2013 Jeff Awards!

Alison with a friend at the 2013 Jeff Awards

Alison with a friend at the 2013 Jeff Awards

We couldn’t be more pleased with how this dress turned out!

Alison twirling in her full skirt at Hayley & Scott's wedding

Alison twirling in her full skirt at Hayley & Scott’s wedding

Photos courtesy of Alison Vesely. Used with permission. Photos in this and all posts are protected by copyright, and are not available for reproduction, redistribution, or any other purpose without written authorization from the photographer.

Crafty Broads is one of the Top 10 Wedding Planners in Chicago!

Chicago's Top 10 Wedding Planners according to Yelp includes Crafty Broads!

 

On Friday morning, we awoke to the very exciting news that we’d been named to Yelp‘s list of the Top 10 Wedding Planners in Chicago! We pride ourselves on excellent customer service, and we’re always happy to read reviews that tell us we are doing well, but it is amazing to be recognized like this in a city full of so many wonderful wedding vendors!!

This photo was from a recent wedding with a Pixar theme - so much fun! Julia got to be the remote control operator for WALL-E, the ring bearer!

This photo was from a recent wedding with a Pixar theme – so much fun! Julia got to be the remote control operator for WALL-E, the ring bearer, who rolled up the aisle and danced at the front!

We’d like to give a shout out to our clients – getting to know you and be a part of your big life moments is so amazing, and it’s why we do this job! We absolutely love meeting each of you, hearing all about your lives and your plans, and we sure like to think we are friends at the end of it! So THANK YOU!!

(And please keep spreading the word so we can stick around!)

Shauna and Mike’s Rainy Day Beer Garden Wedding | Chicago, Illinois | Day-of-Coordination

Continuing to play catch up on things we did many moons ago…

Shauna and Mike had a great plan for a fun and casual wedding – head to an Irish pub, get hitched the beer garden, spend the evening alternating breaks on the grass with spins on the dance floor. After all, what is a summer night in Chicago, if not spent on a patio seat with a cold brew in hand?

Sometimes, the weather does not quite cooperate with our delightfully imagined plans. It rained in the early afternoon. As we were setting up chairs outside, the clouds gathered and threatened to unleash a torrent. Shortly before the ceremony was set to begin, the downpour started. And that is why we make back up plans!

Shauna and Mike, along with their guests, were great sports as we quickly rearranged the schedule, moving everyone into the pub for a pre-ceremony cocktail hour. That gave the rain enough time to stop (almost as soon as it had started), and gave us enough time to quickly towel dry the chairs.

The ceremony, though slightly delayed, was absolutely lovely, with a stunning couple and some gorgeous post-rain light. Shauna wore her mother’s wedding dress, which she’d had restyled to better suit her tastes, for the ceremony. We really love it when heirlooms can be passed down and re-imagined this way! And rather than the traditional wedding party, these two chose to have their families walk down the aisle instead.

Thankfully, that was the end of the precipitation, and guests were able to enjoy the beer garden for the duration! Congratulations Shauna & Mike!

VENDORS
Photographer: Emilia Jane Photography
Florist: Ashland-Addison Florist
Cupcakes: Bittersweet
Photo Booth: Photo Booth Express
Venue & Catering: Chief O’Neill’s Pub

All photos were taken by Emilia Jane Photography and are reposted here the photographer’s permission. Photos in this and all posts are protected by copyright, and are not available for reproduction, redistribution, or any other purpose without written authorization from the photographer.

And the Winners Are…

Thanks for joining us at the Finally Forever Wedding Expo!

Without further ado, we’d like  to announce the giveaway winners:

Congratulations to Samuel Green! He and his future spouse have won their choice of a Budget Strategy Session, registration for two to our Wedding Planning 101 Workshop, or having the design fee waived on a Custom Wedding Garment. They’ve also won free admission to The Planning Party on April 1st.

Three additional couples have won admission to The Planning Party – Congratulations to:
Angela & Nicole Bolding
Stephen Lutes
Maribel Arroyo

We had a wonderful time meeting all of you, and we hope you got some great ideas and resources to plan a fantastic wedding! Don’t forget about our Marriage Equality Discount, valid for all wedding planning services booked by March 31st for weddings taking place in 2014.

What is this Planning Party thing?

If you are stressed out with wedding planning and you need a little bit of expert help and/or a big glass of wine, then it might be just the party for you! The Planning Party is a casual get together where couples are invited to ask us absolutely anything about planning their weddings. We’ll be featuring a different vendor each month to talk about their specialty and answer questions as well. At our inaugural Party on Tuesday April 1st, our guest will be Emilia Schobeiri of Emilia Jane Photography. (You may remember her lovely photos of Sarah’s wedding dress and winter coat or James and Liz’s wedding.) And, of course, refreshments will be provided. Follow the link above to register or get more information.

Join us at the Finally Forever wedding expo!

We are thrilled that marriage equality has finally come to Illinois, and even more so that a recent ruling has put the new law into immediate effect.

Finally Forever wedding expo

Please join us in celebrating and get started planning your wedding at the Finally Forever wedding show this Sunday, March 9th! The Chicago Area Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce is bringing together all kinds of vendors, including us, to help you get started on planning your big day. DJs will be spinning, caterers will be giving out samples, and we’re told the wine will be flowing! Over at the Crafty Broads table, we’ll be giving away a free budget strategy session to one lucky couple – so stop by and chat with us!

This event is FREE and open to ALL couples, because equality is for everyone. Click here to register.

Hayley | Custom 1950s-Style Wedding Dress

Concept

Hayley came to us in search of a full-skirted, fifties-style knee-length dress, and we pretty quickly settle on idea of a structured dress in silk dupioni with a shelf bust in glossy silk charmeuse.

Concept sketch for Hayley's 1950s-style wedding dress

Concept sketch for Hayley’s 1950s-style wedding dress

Work-in-Progress & Challenges

This was our first time making a shelf bust, and we really had a learning curve on it. The charmeuse was fussy and didn’t like to be pleated. We went through a good bit of trial and error to get it just right. Other than that, it was a fairly straightforward garment. Silk dupioni is a dream to work with, and we found a lovely lightweight silk to line it with too!

Final version of the bust shelf! Photo © Crafty Broads

Final version of the bust shelf! Photo © Crafty Broads

Finished Garment

Hayley decided on a gorgeous color for her dress – somewhere in between gold an ivory. The difference in texture between the dupioni (main body of the dress) and the charmeuse (in the ruched bust section) creates a striking contrast, even though the two fabrics are the same color.

Doesn’t Hayley look stunning? We absolutely loved how her dress turned out! Congratulations Hayley and Scott!

Photos in this and all posts are protected by copyright, and are used with permission. They are not available for reposting or any other purpose without written authorization from the photographer.

Two New Wedding Planning Services from Crafty Broads

Wedding season is upon us once again, and this year we are pleased to roll out some brand new services! Without further ado, here’s what we’ve cooked up for you:

Wedding Planning 101

Did you recently get engaged, and have no idea where to start when it comes to wedding planning? Stop stressing out, and come get the basics figured out with us. In this 2-hour workshop, we will help you determine your wedding priorities and create your wedding mission statement; establish an overall wedding budget and get a handle on typical wedding costs; and get started planning a celebration that truly reflects the two of you! Couples will take away their own planning binder, including Crafty Broads’ wedding to do list, sample wedding budgets and timelines, and our list of the best wedding vendors in town.

Day-of-Coordination (DOC) Bootcamp

No room in your budget for a professional day-of-coordinator? Get all your wedding ducks in a row with our DOC Bootcamp! At this session, we’ll go over your plans and contracts, and provide you with the organizational documents we personally use for each wedding we coordinate. We’ll make sure you’ve the right amount of time for each part of the big day, and identify places where you may need additional help. We’ll also train your volunteer day-of-coordinator on how to run your wedding smoothly, including dealing with the most common situations that arise at weddings. Bring all your questions, and we’ll give you our secrets!

Please see our website for details and current pricing.