Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Guest blogger: Chigger Hill Cottage!

I'm out of town this week and some fantastic guest bloggers are stepping in for me! Today's guest blogger, Chigger Hill Cottage, has made a couple of Chickie's adorable outfits. I'll let her introduce herself!


Hi, I'm Chigger Hill Cottage and I love making little girls clothing. I offered to do a guest blog to help out a fellow blogger while on vacation. Why the name Chigger Hill Cottage? Old timers used to call the area I live in Chigger Hill, because when the first church was built here, the children got chiggers from the temporary log benches set up before the building was complete! In 1997 when I started a children's clothing business, I wanted a unique and nostalgic (because I love history!) name for my home based business. I named it Chigger Hill Cottage Industry. Another nostalgic term, "cottage industry" -look it up! Upon recently reinventing my business, have dropped the "industry" part. Hence the name Chigger Hill Cottage. Please visit my boutique at


Believe it or not, most of the retail repeat clothing designs you see in stores were first born of an individual sewer’s hands. Yes, a seamstress/sewer/sewist was hired to construct the first “sample garment” to insure a pattern would fit thousands and thousands of consumers who bought the designer’s line of clothing. The pattern is then sent to an assembly line where anywhere from 10 to 50 workers perform one to three steps in the construction of a single design line all day long. My grandmother was proud to say she used to sew the double line of the right side of the finished zipper in jeans. Later she was moved to pocket insertion. What a boring and not so creative part in the making of a garment she had!

Who makes the samples (the one original garment finished from beginning to end by usually a single sewer-and sometimes very expensive to purchase, if at all available) and why is a sample maker (seamstress/sewer/sewist) so important in the clothing industry? You will have to read someone else’s blog for the answer to that question, there are people more qualified than me to answer! Just wanted to get you thinking!

I am not writing this blog to debate the sample makers and their role in the garment industry, nor am I trying to discourage shopping from retail department clothing. I am trying to arouse your curiosity, even slightly, to better appreciate the quality and value of handmade original designed clothing versus assembly line retail repeats. I can’t compete with the popular retail giants, and I don’t try. Sure, I buy from these companies, but if I am looking for an article of clothing that I would place real value, where would I consider shopping for that special dress or outfit?

Bear in mind, this is not a question looking for competitive answers, nor am I looking for debate, and when I say real value, it doesn’t necessarily mean it costs more, is made of the most expensive fabrics, or is embellished with diamonds or boasts gold buttons. Value, in this case and in retrospect to children’s clothing design, would more or less be in the eye and heart of the consumer. If you needed a special dress for a pageant, Confirmation, fancy birthday or tea party, Easter, Christmas, flower girl, or some other special occasion or event, what do you consider when making your choice? An outfit for a portrait, recital, church event, wedding, reunion, picnic, parties, etc…you understand what I’m getting at, right? Personally, I want an outfit or dress constructed in the best quality fabric affordable, unique, well made, and something no one else has; an original design. That is where I place real value.

One of kind handmade designs are priceless, especially if you are a renowned designer who constructs the garment as well. Those kinds of designers ask thousands for a single garment! Have you seen the popular design show on TV where they compete for a clothing design challenge”? I would rather choose a garment designed and sewn from beginning to end by a single experienced creative sewist, than to pick from thousands of patterns born of one design hanging in department stores, especially when shopping for that special outfit and for that special little girl in my life. My daughter makes nearly everything in my little granddaughter’s wardrobe simply because she enjoys the fact that her clothing is not duplicated!

Why is it that in today’s society we still view handmade as being less than valuable? And why do some still view the seamstress as the lowly little lady peddling the foot of an old fashioned treadle machine and making clothing for her babes out of flower sacks? If you commissioned an artist to paint a portrait, after it was completed which would you choose, the original or a copy? Which is more valuable, the original or the copy? There again, the value is in the heart and in the eye of the consumer.


Thank you for sharing your passion for handmade clothes, Ms. Chigger Hill! Be sure to visit Chigger Bytes, the blog.


Fannyfanackapan said...

Hi. Enjoyed your guest post. I must agree wholeheartedly as one who always believes handcrafted beats mass produced. Both my Mother and Father were in the 'Rag Trade' as we call it over here and both could create an original garment from a drawing or idea. Imagine how cool that was as a teenager to have your dad be able to produce you your own original version of whatever your current 'must-have' was.

Original over copy - ALWAYS.

Anonymous said...

My mother was an excellent seamstress who honed her skills while sewing in a dress and apron factory when she was a young woman.

I'm told that when my three older sisters were little girls, Mama would make each of them five dresses before school started, many times out of printed feed sacks. And, she would make them underpants to match!

I do think that there is nothing more precious than a hand-made garment, especially for a little girl.

(I love your name. I was raised in southern Missouri where chiggers were plentiful!)