Starting my own business has been a dream of mine for some time now. Being my own boss means I get to make all the calls, which is a good and a bad thing. On one hand, I get to decide what work I take on and when I want to do it. On the other hand, there is no one to ask for help and I have to handle every single aspect of running my business. It wasn’t without risk, but the reward of seeing my dreams come to fruition has been well worth it.
In November of 2016 I moved to from the Bay Area to Hillsboro, Oregon. My husband and I were able to afford a larger house here, so I’m proud to say that I now have my very own sewing room! It was a major improvement from sewing beneath my loft bed at our previous house.
While still living in the Bay Area, I was fortunate enough to work at Fabric Outlet – CaliFabric’s in-person store located in the Mission District of San Francisco – while also doing local freelance work. I became familiar with all the fabrics they carry and I knew when I started my own business Califabrics would my main source for fabric.
Everything Maria Rose Sews sells is designed and made entirely by me! I create items that I love myself, in hopes that others will as well. Here are the four products I’ve started my business with:
I love leggings! As in, I am never going back to real pants again. I often find that ready to wear leggings have two issues: they are too thin to wear solo, and they don’t fit around the waist. That’s why I’ve created my curvy fit and classic fit leggings – so every body type can have high-waisted leggings that don’t gape or pinch at the waist! I used Califabric’s heavy weight ponte de roma. This fabric is one of my all-time favorites. It’s thick and retains its shape well. Best of all, because it’s 65% rayon, it accepts all types of dyes. These leggings are stretchy enough to wear to yoga class, but thick enough to be worn as “real pants”. They even have a pocket on each side that’s just the right size. Check out how they were made and if you’d like to try a pair for yourself, order them here!
I have never found a pair of underwear that actually fit me. It seems like they always ride up! So a few months ago I decided to make my own and I’ve never gone back. Nowadays I only wear the underwear I make myself because they fit so much better. The key is a rounded cut in the back that swoops underneath your cheeks, rather than straight across. Califabrics has so many soft mid-weight knits to choose from that it was difficult to decide, but in the end I chose this fun Mini Floral Jersey Knit and two other similar knits. These fabrics are great for underwear because they are fairly lightweight, but have enough body to hold their shape. Because they are mostly rayon, they are breathable as well. You can see how I make them right here. If you too would like the feel-good experience of a wedgie free pair of undies, you can pick some up right here!
Recently I decided to live my life waste free. What does that mean? Literally never throwing a single thing into the trash can. Ok, ok, I’m not perfect and I do throw a few small items away each week, but I’ve cut way back – and mostly on food packaging. One reason I wanted to start my own business is to share good living practices with others and these produce bags are a big part of the picture. You can use these bags for items such as green beans, carrots, lettuce, mushrooms, really anything you’d usually put in a plastic bag! I’m fortunate enough to have access to a grocery store that sells in bulk, so I use these handy bags for everything from flour, sugar, salt, and spices, to pasta, rice, dried fruit, and candies. I used muslin, which is a sturdy cotton fabric that holds up for many washes. I’ve used mine daily for the past five months and they are still perfect; I just shake them out and toss them in with my regular laundry! The colors help distinguish what you’ve put in each bag as you go through the checkout. For all my dyed products I use procion fiber reactive dyes from Dharma Trading Co; check out my dyeing process here. If you’d also like to cut down on your plastic waste, try out these bags for yourself.
When starting my business, it was important to me to be able to produce as little waste as possible. I decided to create these cushions as a way to use all my would-be-trash fabric scraps. For these I used a heavy weight canvas that would stand up to lots of wear. I like the rough weave of this canvas and how evenly it accepts dye. I used reclaimed fringe from Scrap to integrate reused materials. Because I need enough fabric scraps to fill an entire cushion, I’ll only finish one of these every few months, which makes them extra special. See which ones I have available in my shop.
It’s been a big adventure starting my own business. Between purchasing, branding, marketing, and website development, it’s a lot more than just designing and sewing these days. I couldn’t have done it without the help of my sister-in-law over at Locals Only and her website developing. At the end of the day it is so rewarding to have created Maria Rose Sews from the ground up. I’m excited to keep you posted as I grow and learn this new side of sewing!