Tell us a bit about yourself (name, location, affiliations, personal stuff).
My name is (obviously) Danielle. The DIY in my shop name means “do-it-yourself.” It also happens to be my initials! So it was fate that I would become someone who always wanted to try and do things on my own. I’m 22 years old and live in Minnesota. I’m a neat freak and a perfectionist.
I’m an odd seamstress. I hate store bought patterns and I don’t use them. My mom knows a lot about sewing but never taught me how to do anything except string the sewing machine. So I just figured it all out myself through trial and error and tons of frustration. I hauled my sewing machine along with me to the dorms in high school and college, setting it up in community study areas and storage rooms in the dorm. Later I started selling clothes online as a pet project and “DanielleDIY” has grown ever since. I have been selling for about a year and so far have sold over 200 garments.
What is the first thing you can remember making by hand? How and why did you make it?
When I was a kid I was incessantly making things, especially drawing or making stuff out of Legos. Some of the things I remember include constructing an entire three-dimensional city out of paper and hand sewing a teddy bear for my younger sister. I remember having a hard time with the teddy bear, not really knowing what I was doing. I was improvising the whole thing. I’m sure it was hideous, but in a cute way. It was made out of pink jersey and stuffed with fiberfill.
What inspires you? Where do your ideas come from?
All sorts of weird stuff inspires me. I once saw a vintage horse trailer and thought “that line design would look really cool on a shirt.” See? Weird stuff. I have a huge soft spot in my heart for space age Scandinavian designers like Panton and I think that sometimes comes out in my designs, but I realize that I am all over the place when it comes to style. Most of all, I get ideas from paging through the racks of clothes at thrift stores. I get to see all sorts of things I would never think of doing. I’ve found that there are a million ways to make a shirt.
What are your favorite materials?
For clothing I try to use stretchy fabric for shirts. That includes cotton and cotton blend jersey and knits. I love when I have the opportunity to get my hands on vintage fabric from the 60s and 70s. My favorite fabric comes from vintage Kaufman, Marimekko, Panton and the like. A lot of it gets hoarded rather than used for clothing because I like it so much. I LOVE buttons.
What is your favorite color?
I love blood red. I hate pink, fuchsia and magenta. I wear a lot of gray, black and navy.
Any tips on selling handmade stuff?
Be your own research and development. If you make something, try it out. You are going to figure out all sorts of ways to improve something by wearing/carrying/using your stuff. Or you’ll figure out that something is not working and change it.
Write a thoughtful description. The best time in the life of your listing is right after it’s published but that doesn’t last long. What does last are the words you use in your listing description that can come up if someone does a search later.
Apart from creating things, what do you do?
When school is in session I spend a lot of time studying. I go to school full time and I’m really serious about getting good grades. I spend time thrift shopping, grumbling about politics, feeding baby ducks, hand writing letters to friends, learning Norwegian, vacuuming my sewing room constantly, drinking coffee, and surfing Etsy. Other crafty things I do include embroidery, paper maché, oil painting, and knitting.
How can Etsy be improved? Any feature requests?
I would love it if Etsy’s search engine was more powerful. I need to be able to search exact phrases and subtract words. For example, it would be cool if I could search “shirt –pink” and the returned listings would be shirts that aren’t pink. Or if I wanted a something “felted” I would get felted as opposed to any listing with the word felt in it, ’cause they aren’t the same thing.
I’d like to see an Etsy where the sellers collaborate to make a tag that describes themselves or their style so that the tag can act as a web ring within Etsy (a tag ring?). I started one with the acronym BFSC which stands for built from scratch clothing. I wish other sellers would use tags that way with their own specialties to make browsing a lot more fun.