Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Spotlight on Smocking Hot Businesses: Itty Bits Children's Boutique

Spotlight on Smocking Hot Businesses: Itty Bits Children's Boutique

We obviously love having all of you shopping here on Smocking Hot Mamas, but we often hear get questions on where else is "safe" to shop. With so many pop up Facebook smocked clothing companies, it is hard to always know what brands are good quality and also have reliable customer service. We have decided to help recommend some great Facebook boutiques with our Spotlight on Smocking Hot Businesses posts.
Our current Spotlight on Smocking Hot Mamas is Itty Bits Children's Boutique. Itty Bits began selling smocked children's clothing in 2009. What started as a hobby fit between a full time job and taking care of three precious girls (Ages 8, 6, 2...yes, she is broke...Ha!) has become a full time business. The owner-mama still handles all of the business, outside of shipping, completely by herself, but Itty Bits has now given her the freedom to stay at home with her youngest daughter.
Itty Bits has sales are every Tuesday and Thursday at 9:00PM EST, but you can usually catch "preview" pictures the day prior to the sale. Most items are in stock and will ship within 2-3 business days, with items shipping on Wednesdays and Fridays. All of their smocked designs are designed by them and for their use only. In addition, they also plan to pick up a few new lines starting Fall 2013, so keep an eye out as they expand. Itty Bits LOVES their customers and loves to see their adorable designs on your babies, so they would love if you send pictures of your itty bits in their designs.
Be sure to 'Like' Itty Bits on Facebook and check out their upcoming sales!

Auction Times: 9pm CST Tuesdays and Thursdays
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/IttyBitsBoutique

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Spotlight on Smocking Hot Businesses: Two Little Larks

Spotlight on Smocking Hot Businesses:
Two Little Larks

Our newest addition to our series "Spotlight on Smocking Hot Businesses" is Two Little Larks. Our goal with this series is to introduce you to businesses that we have had experience with that we think you wouldn't want to miss.

With its devotion to customer service, Two Little Larks seeks to make your online buying experience personal and special. This shop offers adorable clothing ranging from the beautifully simplistic and traditional to the fun and whimsical. Each item is chosen with care, in the same way they would shop for their own children's clothing. In their selections, they've made every effort to choose beautiful pieces not only for your little girls but also for your little boys. The result provided a little bit of something for everyone: Le Za Me, Sado, Mud Pie, Mom & Me, Three Sisters, Jack Thomas, Fore!!Axel and Hudson, Jelly the Pug, DMO Baby, and Funny Babies Sleepers. They've added bows, necklaces, and ties to accessorize your little ones as well.

To shop these great selections, they offer sales on both their wall and on their website, so be sure to keep an eye on both for some great clothing and accessories for your little one.

Curious how Two Little Larks gained their name? This quote inspired these ladies, and it would serve well as an inspiration to us all: "We serve a great God; let us greatly rejoice in Him. A song is the soul's fittest method of giving vent to its happiness, it were well if we were more like the singing lark, and less like the croaking raven. When our heart is glowing, the lips should not be silent. When God blesses us, we should bless him with all our heart." - Charles H. Spurgeon

Interested in knowing more about this new business, check out their blog:http://www.twolittlelarks.com/

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Spotlight on Smocking Hot Businesses: Smockalicious Auctions

Spotlight on Smocking Hot Businesses:
Smockalicious Auctions

Our newest addition to our series "Spotlight on Smocking Hot Businesses" is Smockalicous Auctions. Our spotlight businesses have stood out to us for having a great product and great customer service.
Smockalicous Auctions has made it their mission is to provide affordable and adorable children's clothing without sacrificing excellent customer service. They focus on beautiful heirloom style pieces for a more classic feel, though they also carry other smocked and appliqué clothing. Their primary brands at the moment are Carousel Wear, Petit Ami, and Timeless Tots, a great made in the USA smock, but keep an eye out next year for a new addition. Smockalicious Auctions intends to introduce its own brand, Elise and Eli, named after the owners children. Elise and Eli will provide vintage inspired outfits for your little ones. Don't miss out!
Check out Smockalicous Auction's sales on Mondays and Wednesdays at 12:00pm CST. Keep an eye out for their flash sales and preorders as well. Flex pay is available to split your invoice into three payments and make shopping even more affordable.
Be sure to "like" Smockalicious Auctions on Facebook for auctions and all the latest information.

Auction Times: Monday & Wednesday at 12:00pm cst
Brands Carried: Carousel Wear, Petit Ami, and Timeless Tots

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

What Makes a Quality Smock

What Makes a Quality Smock?

Some of you have expressed that you just don't understand the difference in brands of smocks: it can be hard for someone new to the smocking world to differentiate between a quality smock and some of the less desired items. We try to only "approve" brands of quality for SHM, but businesses frequently change manufacturers, so sometimes some bad seeps in when we approve a now good smock company. So, what makes a quality smock? And why do some brands sell for $35 new compared to others that retail for $70 or more a dress?

Fabric Content
Fabric content makes a huge difference, though it isn't always obvious from looking at the tag. Looking through my daughter's closet, it appears as though many of our favorite quality brands prefer 100% cotton (Little English, Claire & Charlie) while other favorites prefer a combination of polyester and cotton (Shrimp & Grits, Candyland), and others use some of both (Zuccini). The mix with polyester tends to mean less wrinkles and easier care, which is definitely a perk for busy mamas.

The difficulty with fabric content is that what you see (on the tag) isn't always what you get. Some foreign manufactures allege an appropriate blend (for example, 35% polyester / 60% cotton), but they aren't. And 100% cotton can mean different quality grades of cotton.

So what is a mom to do? Especially when you are shopping online? Look at the photos closely - some of the poorer fabrics SHINE and have an almost plastic appearance. Others, such as some polka dot fabrics from many brands, have an uneven color saturation. For example, if you look at a close up, you can see white or lighter threads blended into the material. If either is the case, buyer beware. These outfits may be fine for play, but be sure you are paying appropriately. These items often don't hold up well in the wash, and they do not hold resale value. Also, the shiny fabrics may not make the best fourth of July or birthday outfit as they can melt like plastic when they get too close to heat. If you can't quite tell, ask around. Find someone who has recently shopped the brand to tell you what it is like in person. When shopping online, the best way to protect your money is to pay attention to what other buyers have seen in their purchases.
Also, an outfit should not be see through. If it is a thinner fabric, then there should be some kind of lining, or it should specify that a slip should be worn with it.  You shouldn't see diaper designs shining through!

 The picture on the left is a good example of the shiny fabric referenced. If you look closely in both of these you can also see a lack of quality in the smocking details. The one on the right has the kind of polka dot fabric that usually drastically fades after the first wash. It is thick and not soft.

How do some brands get away with charging $70 or more an outfit? Hand detailing! It takes time to fold and stitch and sew all the details of a smock. But again, look closely, because not all hand stitching is alike. Details matter. Start with the smock plate. Are the folds in the smock plate evenly displaced? Depending on the curve of the neck on an outfit, even the top brands may have some uneven spacing or small gaps, but this will totally make a difference in both the appearance of the item and the resale value.

Is the design on the smocking uniform? If there are supposed to be three identical images stitched into the smocking, they should all look the SAME. All designs should be uniformly spaced. Symmetry is definitely a necessity in smocking. Check to see if the trim on the sleeves or near the hem (ric rac) coordinates well with the dress - or if it has any at all.

It should be obvious what the designs on the smocking are. If it is of a recognizable character, it should look like that character. Features should be proportionate. There shouldn't be missing eyes, mouths, or other design elements that are present in the other images on the smocking. Features should be proportionate:  no one wants to see huge bug eyes on your pretty princess dress.
For jon jons and bubbles, check the snaps. Reinforced snaps are a sign of good quality. Also, higher quality items have snaps painted to coordinate with the design of the outfit. Silver snaps show a complete disregard to detail that likely continues into the rest of the product's craftsmanship.

See how tight the smocking is on this Claire and Charlie Swimsuit? Also, the crabs are symmetrical, proportionate, and they aren't missing any important parts. It has coordinating ric rac and matching detailing.
This Le Za Me dress also has tight smocking with a nice geometric design embroidered into it. Great attention to detail with its symmetry.

Retail Value
Let's face it, when something costs a lot new, it tends to be worth more used. Brands like Claire and Charlie, Anavini, Le Za Me, Little English, Auraluz, etc sell for more retail because they have a reputation for quality. Pieces may slip through, but, for the most part, these brands have earned their value through their attention to detail and quality. This higher retail value typically translates into a resale value.

 Lovely quality brand, not so lovely price.

(Photos used with permission from some of our Smocking Hot Mamas friends.)