What every buyer should know.

There are many advantages to buying handmade clothing over ready-made. First is the "uniqueness factor". Most likely the outfit you purchase will be one of a kind and stand out from what other children are wearing.

"I buy handmade clothing for the uniqueness in design. I also find that the quality is generally much better than mass-produced items." -
eBay ID my*only*princess

Next is the quality. Most sellers use high quality fabric and trims and sew with the utmost care. Seams are carefully finished and beautifully stitched. Often, you can have the outfit custom tailored to your child's measurements. Sometimes you can even decide where a ruffle goes or ask to lengthen or shorten a pair of pants.

With all these advantages (and there are many more including resale value, helping stay at home moms, etc) it is not a dvisable to just start buying. There are important things you should know before purchasing your first (or 100th) outfit.

How to search

Ebay has a new "Handmade" category. You will find it under Clothing and Accessories: Infant and Toddlers and Girls. This makes it alot easier to search out handmade clothing. However since it is a new category alot of designers are still sticking with the old clothing categories.

Until the new category catches on you can still find most items by searching "Boutique". This will bring up a lot of things that are not handmade. On the left of your screen is a menu of items, click the appropriate Clothing Category (example: Infants & Toddlers - 2-4T - Outfit and Sets). This will still bring up a lot of items. You can either begin wading through it or start to eliminate keywords from your search.

For example: This is what I do when searching for Boutique Handmade items (this is not using the new Handcrafted category, which I will definately do now!) I type in Boutique and pick my category. Then I type in (minus) -Gymboree -Mass -Feet (for Bear Feet) -Zackali -cakewalk). You get the picture. Once you have been searching awhile you know which keywords to take out. Then I sort by Highest Priced. Then I can start looking.

Please note that there are many, many high quality outfits that aren't priced at $100.00. Keep searching even down to the $14.99 ones. You will find some gems at bargain prices! These sellers either aren't getting seen or haven't joined a big name group and so haven't been able to be "discovered " by the masses yet. Give them a chance. Who knows the outfit you purchase from them now may be worth a fortune once they become popular!

What do those words mean?

When you search you have probably noticed these: ODOD, OOAK, NWT, YAYAS etc. These are keywords to help you know who designed it, if it is original and new.

BTS: Back to School

CHENILLE: Soft, fuzzy tufts of fabric, whose name comes from the French word for "caterpillar."

CHIC: Sophistication in dress and manner; elegance

COUTURE: The high-fashion clothing created by designers

CUSTOM: Usually means that the designer will make the outfit in a size you need. You will need to provide measurements.

LN:Like new

NWT:New with tags. New and never worn.

O'ALLS: Overalls

OOAK:One of a Kind (not a group name) it means that the item will not be recreated so you had better bid if you like it.

Group Names and Initials: Check out the Unmasking Groups article for more information about groups. Just because someone is in a group does not mean that what they offer is great quality. Check feedback and pictures carefully. Conversely those not in a group can offer great outfits. Look for "loners" too.

Click here to decode Group Names

Check out the designer

So you have found an outfit you like. The first thing you need to do is find out about the seller/designer. One way is to check their feedback. This will give you an indication of what others have said about the quality of their items. Sometimes they will not have any feedback because they are new, so you will have to decide if you want to take a chance. It will probably turn out fine and you will have the honor of getting to leave their very first positive feedback but make sure you ask the right questions before.

"I buy handmade clothes for my granddaughter because they usually are one of a kind and are made with love! Every kid on the block doesn't have the same thing." -
ebay ID: 47Cats

If their feedback is glowing you can proceed to the next step. Look at their page layout. Most likely if they have taken the time to present a nice layout then they have taken the time to make a nice garment. Again, some designers sew super nice outfits but don't know a lick of how to make their page nice looking. However at the very least their page should be nicely organized with lots of pictures.

Next READ their description including all their terms of service. Find out if this item is already made and will be shipped upon payment or if it will be made after the auction ends. How long can you expect to receive your outfit if it has to be made. Can you wait that long? Note: Please email measurements to the seller as soon as possible after the auction ends so they can get started on making your outfit.

If the outfit is already made, check measurements very carefully. Most designers have the measurements listed somewhere in the auction but if they don't then ASK! This is very important as you can't just return the outfit for a different size.

How to measure for ready made clothing:
Measuring your child is very important before buying handmade clothing. Don't rely upon "This will fit a child 2-4". As you know that can vary a lot. The best thing to do is to find a piece of clothing that fits your child well. If you are buying a dress and pants, measure a dress and pants that your child has. Don't measure your actual child! (unless the designer is making the clothing to fit your child)

For example: Susie has a 19" waist and a 19" chest. The outfit you are looking at says "Pants will fit a 19" waist. This is good. They will fit perfectly. On the dress it says "Chest: 24". You think wow that will be too big. Not true. This will fit perfectly also as you want your child to have wiggle room. A dress with a 19" chest will be too tight.

To measure for custom clothing click here

Next look at the pictures. The designer should include a full shot of the outfit, a close up of each piece, how it looks on a model or mannequin and ideally show close ups of the stitching and fabric. If you have any doubts about the quality of the work ask for close up pictures of the stitching and construction. Most designers would be happy to accommodate.

Each outfit should mention that all seams are finished. The most common way is to serge finish, although lots of designers French seam or zig zag. Click here to see examples

Here are some other things to look for. Topstitching should be straight and even. Buttons sewn on in a straight line. Hems should be even all around. Pant legs should line up at the bottom. Appliques should be satin stitched, straight stitched or blanket stitched not just glued on.

Most designers will include washing instructions. To insure your outfit looks great, please follow them carefully.

Return Policy?

Does the designer guarantee their work? Do they offer refunds? Many designers do not put a return policy on their auction page for fear of buyers taking advantage of them. However, the majority of designers stand by their work and will take the steps necessary for you to be happy about your purchase. Communication is the key. Be specific about the problem and how you would like it fixed.

Payment and Shipping Methods

Find out what forms of payment the designer accepts. Most will accept Paypal and money orders, with a few allowing personal checks. Find out if the designer will accept credit cards through Paypal before sending a payment that way. It should say in the auction. Some designers require you to pay for your outfit before they start to make it. Be polite and pay within a day or two.

I still love it!

If everything looks good and you feel confident in the designers ability bid away!

To learn how to register with eBay and Paypal, visit the Registering with Ebay and Paying with Paypal articles.

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