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WHAT DOES HANDMADE REALLY MEAN?

March 24, 2021

THE SECRET LIFE OF CLOTHES

Isn't it kind of crazy that something we are so intimately connected to--our clothing--is largely a mystery to us?

Before I worked in product design I used to imagine that clothing factories were this magical place like you see in cartoons--input fabric, output a fully-formed garment...VOILA!

HA!

As it turns out, I was wrong...can you believe it? In reality the way a garment is constructed in a factory is not all that different than the way it's made by a home sewist--virtually every stitch is made by human hands on a sewing machine.

And the machines aren't all that different, really.

Industrial machines work basically the same way, they're just bigger, sturdier and a LOT faster.

photo of Beya Made blue linen baby harem romper with brass snaps shown flat on a white background
photo of Beya Made blue linen baby harem romper with brass snaps shown flat on a white background
photo of baby boy girl twins wearing matching Beya Made blue linen rompers, lying on their backs in the grass
photo of 3 year old Black girl wearing Beya Made blue linen overalls playing with a picnic basket
Detail photo of Beya Made blue linen harem overalls with brass snaps
Heron Blue Linen Romper - Beya MadeROMPER
Photo of Black toddler boy wearing blue linen Beya Made grow with me overalls walking along the sidewalk
Graphic pointing out the expandability features of a Beya Made adjustable romper
3 year old girl lying on her back wearing a blue linen Beya Made romper and brown linen sun hat
Heron Blue Linen Romper - Beya MadeROMPER
Heron Blue Linen Romper - Beya MadeROMPER
Detail photo of Beya Made blue linen romper straps with logo label and multiple snaps
Heron Blue Linen Romper - Beya MadeROMPER
Heron Blue Linen Romper - Beya MadeROMPER
Heron Blue Linen Romper - Beya MadeROMPER

Heron Blue Linen Romper

Strawberry Chambray Linen Romper - Beya MadeROMPER
Strawberry Chambray Linen Romper - Beya MadeROMPER
Strawberry Chambray Linen Romper - Beya MadeROMPER
Strawberry Chambray Linen Romper - Beya MadeROMPER
Strawberry Chambray Linen Romper - Beya MadeROMPER
Strawberry Chambray Linen Romper - Beya MadeROMPER
Strawberry Chambray Linen Romper - Beya MadeROMPER
Strawberry Chambray Linen Romper - Beya MadeROMPER
Strawberry Chambray Linen Romper - Beya MadeROMPER
Strawberry Chambray Linen Romper - Beya MadeROMPER
Strawberry Chambray Linen Romper - Beya MadeROMPER
Strawberry Chambray Linen Romper - Beya MadeROMPER
Strawberry Chambray Linen Romper - Beya MadeROMPER
Strawberry Chambray Linen Romper - Beya MadeROMPER
Strawberry Chambray Linen Romper - Beya MadeROMPER

Strawberry Chambray Linen Romper

Photo of classic beige engineer stripe harem romper with pocket and brass snaps shown flat on a white background
Photo of classic beige engineer stripe harem romper with pocket and brass snaps shown flat on a white background
Photo of toddler boy wearing a beige linen romper sitting on a wood floor playing a ukelele
detail shot of multiple rows of snaps on the straps of a beige linen baby romper
Photo of 2 year old Black child wearing a Beya Made harem romper playing on the playground
Photo of 2 year old red head boy wearing  Beya Made engineer stripe overalls standing against a white wall
Engineer Stripe Romper - Beya MadeROMPER
Engineer Stripe Romper - Beya MadeROMPER
Engineer Stripe Romper - Beya MadeROMPER
graphic explaining the features that allow Beya Made rompers to grow with the child
Engineer Stripe Romper - Beya MadeROMPER

Engineer Stripe Romper

HOME MACHINE

INDUSTRIAL MACHINE

ALL MACHINES WORK LIKE THIS!

THE DEFINITION

Etsy, the self-proclaimed knower of what is and what isn't craft, defines handmade (in 2019) as
"made and/or designed by [sic] the seller."
to me this leaves a LOT of grey area. Everything is designed by someone, isn't it?

I'd like to propose a different, more classical definition--which is that handmade means that something was ASSEMBLED by one person, from start to finish.

FACTORY-MADE

"Factory-made" is also hazily defined. Factories can be huge operations with many specialized machines, and many specialists...or they can be small sewing rooms with 2-3 people with various skills.

In a factory, individual craftspeople are batching tasks--they may be laying out fabric while another specialist does the cutting. In large facilities sewists are often trained on one highly specialized machine, and their job is to do that one type of seam (for example) and nothing else.

Obviously, this system is a LOT more efficient and quick. For those of us who make our products "by hand" much time is lost by doing one task at a time, moving from the machine to the pressing table, changing thread colors, etc.

This is why handmade garments often cost a lot more--they take longer to make, and they're assembled by one very highly skilled person rather than several people of (sometimes) lesser expertise.

KEEP IT SIMPLE

Ultimately, the distinction is pretty straightforward--handmade is assembled by one, factory-made is assembled by many. Unless a designer is very transparent about their supply chain, there is no way to know the difference.

Either way, all garments are made on machines BY HUMAN HANDS.

That's all I got for today! If you have any other suggestions I should add here, SEND ME A NOTE!

Loving you always,

Laurel T. | founder, Beya Made

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