Jing Jie Tan on Aug 4, 2014
YAY! IT'S HERE!!! And it is actually really cozy :3 It's actually really warm and humid in Singapore though, so there's almost no way I'd be able to wear it outside. But I do plan on packing it the next time I go traveling :D It got a little black with the shipping but I can wash it. I think. But it looks good, and my friends are jealous :P Teehee #megusta
After what felt like an eternity, I was no longer drowning – I was sewing.
For our third anniversary, Devin bought me a sewing machine.
Until that point I had been using my mother's old and plain Brother, a noisy thumping machine that was used to sew my mother's maternity pants when she was pregnant with me. The Brother decided to die on me a few months earlier just when I was starting to advance my sewing skills. Until that point, the only thing I really had sewn well was boxy fingerless gloves. I originally didn't expect to get a Brother, but maybe something more fancy like a Janome or a Singer. But after weeks of research I found myself walking alone down a snow-covered backroad in the more industrial part of town to go pick up my new machine from the courier station, and hauling back to the bus stop a box that I could hardly hold within my armspan.
I didn't know I'd actually get Steely Sweet standing, much less off the ground with that new machine. Why would I? I had little to hope for at that point. After suffering for 11 of my 21 years with severe depression, I found myself a mess at my studies. I had changed majors twice – from Physics, to International Development, to Geomatics–, and even though I was capable of doing the work, I was always paralyzed by fear, doubt, self-loathing, every step of the way. I felt like everything I tried, I could start adequately, maybe even well, but never finish. Piano and flute, drawing, archery, 3D modelling, programming, the list went on. Why would sewing be any different?
What was I doing walking to a bus stop in freezing weather with a box as big as a bass amp in my hands?
Even then, Devin worked hard to nurture the little strings of hope that pulled my body about like a puppet against my mentally ill will. There were many days that I wished I could die, even one altercation in which I almost smashed my sewing machine because I was sure to leave the world that day, but fortune had it that in an especially sweltering Canadian July I was sitting in front of my computer, ready to create a shop with what seemingly meagre offerings I had – 2 dragon scoodies, a Cthulhu flap hat, and a chainmail flower. It wasn't much, but it certainly would not have happened without Devin's encouragement and hard-earned cash. Especially since I had got so sick I dropped out of school, I felt vile for asking Devin for resources all the time, when I was literally doing nothing to contribute to our income – the job search had been so far fruitless, and I felt like a lump that ate and slept and cried and raged.
When I finally got my first hat order, the paralysis tried to set in. Chainmail was easily scannable for defects and typically purchased by friends and family, but anything made with fabric and thread was a whole other story. It took all the guts I had to send it off to the post. What if the hat ripped as soon as the customer took it out of the envelope? Could I have made the seams cleaner? Would the hat fit or be too tight since I had made it too small by about an eighth of an inch? Should I have made a whole new one from scratch that was even better? And would I get sued by Nintendo?
But the hat made it to Scandinavia and the buyer was pleased and left a glowing review. And since then, I'd tried to advance my business. I still had to fight my fears, though. Sometimes, a bout of self-inflicted malevolence would make me delay fulfilling my orders, resulting in many upgraded shippings that I knew I was not obligated to make. As I typed this, I wondered if I should apply for the Etsy booth at the upcoming One-of-a-Kind show, now that I'd grown from 4 listings to 16.
I didn't know sewing would help me turn the tides in fighting my depression. I didn't know I would become as skilled as I am now. As a bit more of an experienced seamstress, there seems to be something to do with my life. I've got my feelers out for new opportunities, and I've started to make use of my city's small business centre to start showing me the more technical ropes. I'm no longer scared of going for this wild ride. What I make is good, perhaps not perfect, but heartfelt and purposeful. I found that finding a passion was what started to make me better. And while I fully intended to return to school, in the meantime, I was going to see where this thing, this project, this online store went.
I was always the sort of naïvely altruistic person that strove to make people happy, even sometimes at the expense of my own happiness. But thanks to my devoted fiancé, to whom I owed my life and life's worth many times, things finally began to change, and I realized that making others happy could go hand in hand with my own dreams, desires, aspirations.
And that was the birth of Steely Sweet.
-- Ashley Muir, November 2012
Owner, Maker, Designer
Grew up in Toronto, Canada. Moved to Waterloo to attend the University of Waterloo to study physics/environmental studies, but dropped out due to illness. Currently lives with fiancé Devin. Hopes to return to school soon, happy creating meanwhile!
Benefactor, Quality Assurance, Guinea Pig
Grew up in St. Catharines, Canada. Met Ashley in 2nd year at the University of Waterloo, studying Computer Science. Nerds out 85% of the time with math and code, and sits still while Ashley puts various things on him. Moral compass and rock.
My name is Ashley, born in Toronto, Ontario and currently living in Waterloo. If you can believe it, I started learning to sew shortly after discovering Etsy sometime in 2009 and found myself wanting to buy all the beautiful creations that its many artists had to offer. Being creative by nature, and a little bit playful at heart, I found that I enjoyed sewing for friends and family, and started looking forward to stressing out every May just before the Anime North Convention, where one would find me sporting some sort of costume and ogling more artisan crafts.
Currently, my "specialty" is otaku and animal fleece hats and some basic chainmail weaves, and I'm continuing to branch out to other things, like cosplay accessories. My hope is that one day I'll become a pro at making more elaborate costumes like fursuits.
I like to make people smile by making them things. Even better if it's something that allows them to dress-up, or disguise themselves, or regain some sense of their childish wonder, even if for a short while. I've only ever been an "adult" for a short time, and still haven't given up on the belief that adults really are just kids, but older.
Thank you for visiting. Do come back some time.
Accepted payment methods
- Accepts Etsy gift cards
I am not responsible for any weird customs and/or duties your parcel may incur during shipping!
If you have any questions, please message me first.
Sometimes I'm late on orders! When this happens, I upgrade your shipping speed automatically – how *much* faster though is my choice.
Shipping prices on any item are subject to change at any time, depending on the shipping destination and changing postal costs. As more orders sell, shipping prices will become consistent. Steely Sweet will always strive to give you the most reasonable shipping price!
Refunds and Exchanges
While repairs are free, In the event that an item needs to be sent back, the buyer is responsible for paying for shipping to me, and I will pay for the shipping back to the buyer for most items. For sweaters, the buyer will have to pay for shipping both ways, and I will send a bill for the amount I had to pay.
As an alternative to contacting me for repairs, see if you can help out any local businesses in your area and have them fix your purchase for a small fee if the issue is tiny – either some hot glue or a little thread will do the trick, and there's no point sending it all the way back to Canada for just that.
Additional policies and FAQs
If you have any questions about a commission, or about any of my other products, or even making something totally new and rad, please send me a message and we'll figure something out that meets your needs.
***REGARDING NEODYMIUM RARE EARTH MAGNETS***
I have recently started making some tails embedded with extremely strong earth magnets. Please note the following before ordering a tail or other prop with magnets, adapted from the supplier's page:
- Take care to avoid pinching fingers between two attracting magnets.
- Neodymium magnets are brittle and can peel, crack or shatter if allowed to slam together.
- Keep magnets away from electronic appliances (e.g. TVs, computers), and magnetic media (e.g. credit cards, magnetic ID cards). These magnets will wreck them!
- Do not allow young children to handle these magnets; they are a choking hazard.
- Keep magnets away from people with medical aids like pacemakers.
- Do not heat magnets above 80˚C or you won't have a working magnet anymore, just a hunk of metal.
- Do not try to manipulate the magnets physically, through machines or otherwise, they will chip and crack and generally regard this as a bad move on your part.
All orders are made in an environment with a dog and a bearded dragon. Orders are lint-rolled like crazy before packaging, but it's still likely that there will be a strand of fur here and there – it's pretty much impossible to prevent, sorry! The dog is not permitted to enter the sewing room, but fur still makes its way in despite regular cleanings. If your allergies are moderate to severe, it's probably better for you to approach another artisan -- after all, Etsy has quite the admirable lot of them!
General care instructions for all sewn goods are as follows: hand wash in cold or lukewarm water, and lay flat or hang to dry. I'm not going to stop you from throwing it in the wash for convenience, but keep in mind not all my hats will be up to that – in particular, the hats with horns, which can be quite delicate.
As always, please send me a message if you have any questions that have not been answered here.