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Fleece Car Seat Ponchos Are Getting Bigger!

car seat poncho with hood

We’ve probably all had the misfortune of ordering a clothing item online only to find that when it arrives, it’s smaller than we expected it to be. This situation is especially frustrating when ordering for a child because children grow so quickly. An item that just fits today may be too small in three months! I’ve always been up front about the fact that my fleece car seat ponchos run small. I’ve spent a fair amount of time during my busy season urging customers to size up. But I’ve still had some customers who were disappointed in the size when their order arrived.

That is why, after selling my handmade fleece car seat ponchos for four years, I’ve decided to make a change in the sizing of my ponchos. This decision was not made on a whim, but is the result of careful consideration and concern for my customers.

The ponchos will be exactly the same design — a circular poncho with a two-way zipper and hand slits — made from premium anti-pill fleece. I will continue to offer ponchos with hoods and ponchos without hoods. The difference is that effective March 1, 2019, the ponchos will all be one size larger than before. This means that my car seat ponchos will now more closely correspond with typical children’s clothing sizes.

Last year’s size 8 will be this year’s size 6. Last year’s size 6 will be this year’s size 4T, and so on. Ponchos will still be available in five sizes, but this year, the sizes and front zipper measurements will be as follows:

3-6 months 12″
12 months 13.5″
2T 16″
4T 18″
6 20″

I’m certain that this change is going to be a positive one for my business and for my customers. I look forward to offering a generously sized car seat poncho in my Etsy shop beginning March 1, 2019.

What are your thoughts on this change to my car seat ponchos?

car seat poncho with arm holes
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Car Seat Ponchos Without Hoods

fleece poncho without hood

Help! My Kid Hates Hoods!

Last year, during the 2018 poncho selling season, I had a few customers contact me asking if I could make car seat ponchos without hoods. It seems that some kids don’t like hoods. Who knew?
Several moms who asked for ponchos without hoods said that their kids didn’t like the feel of the hood behind their heads while they were riding in their car seats. I agreed to consider adapting my poncho pattern after my busy season was over.

Let the design process begin.

Over the course of summer 2018, I made several attempts at a poncho without a hood. All of my prototypes lacked a neck finish that I would be happy to offer to my customers. I just couldn’t seem to get that neckband right!

I was determined to offer a poncho without a hood, but it had to look good. If I just removed the hood and finished the poncho with no neckband, the neck opening would be too large. I spent quite a lot of time contemplating how to make this work.

My light bulb moment

By August, I still hadn’t come up with a workable solution to my design problem. I had just one last option….I prayed. Yes, I’m a praying woman who believes firmly that it is God who has given me a talent for sewing and creating. I don’t know why it hadn’t occurred to me earlier in the summer to ask Him to help me with my dilemma. Not long after praying, I was lying in bed one morning, and a thought came to me about finishing the poncho neck edge with a method I had used before for finishing knit shirts. It worked!

fleece car seat poncho without hood

A successful product!

At the beginning of September 2018, I offered car seat ponchos without hoods. As an add-on purchase, I also offered the option of a detachable hood that snaps onto the neckband with six sets of plastic snaps.

During the last four months of 2018, my busiest time of year, I was surprised by the number of customers who chose ponchos without hoods. My ponchos with hoods still outsold the new hood-free ponchos, but not by a huge margin. Forty-two percent of the ponchos that I sold in those four months were ordered without hoods. I was pleasantly surprised by the success of this addition to my shop!

All of the feedback so far has been positive. Customers have appreciated the option to choose their fleece car seat poncho with or without a hood. I’ve even added hats to my shop, and they work beautifully with the hood-free ponchos.

The moral of the story

If you’ve got a need that a shop owner may be able to meet, don’t be afraid to reach out to a business owner. I’m very thankful that those customers made me aware of their need for a car seat poncho without a hood.

All of the improvements that I’ve made to my poncho design over the past few years have been made because of requests that I’ve received from past or potential customers.

If you’re not wearing a car seat poncho on your child instead of a bulky winter coat, you can head on over to my Etsy shop right now. I’ll be happy to work with you on a custom order.

Car seat poncho without hood
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Car Seat Ponchos Changes for 2018

new shape for car seat poncho

Change can be scary!

In spite of our fear of change, sometimes change is good.  That’s certainly the case with the car seat poncho changes that I’m making for 2018.

Ever since I began sewing and selling car seat ponchos in 2015, I have used the same pattern.  That pattern has been well received by my customers.  On occasion, I have had customers tell me that they wish their poncho was just a bit longer.

That’s why, when late last year, my pattern designer made a few minor changes to her pattern, I knew I wanted to make the same changes to the car seat ponchos that I offer in my shop.

New for 2018

The new ponchos will be slightly longer in the front and back and slightly shorter at the sides.  The new ponchos have an elongated shape with the extra length where needed.
The photo below is a “old” size 2T poncho that I made using the pattern that I’ve been using for the past few years.

Size 2T car seat poncho

Now, this poncho below is a new size 2T in a beautiful gray and purple feather print.  You can see the slight difference in the shape of the ponchos.

Size 2T car seat poncho

For comparison, check out the photos below.

Two car seat ponchos
New shape of car seat ponchos

In the first photo, you can see the old poncho is approximately two inches shorter than the new poncho in the front and back.

In the second photo, notice that the new poncho is not as wide at the shoulders as the old poncho.  This allows for a better fit with less bunching at the hands when using the wrist snaps.

Admittedly, these changes are not earth-shattering, but both of the changes are positive improvements in the car seat ponchos that you can purchase here in my store or in my Etsy shop.  Anyone who purchased a poncho after February 2018 already received this style.  The measurements in the listing descriptions in my shop will reflect these changes.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts on these changes to the car seat ponchos.  Rest assured that the features that set my ponchos apart from the rest — the two-way zipper, hand slits, and wrist snaps — will not change.  I will continue to make ponchos that you and your children can enjoy for years!

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Why I Became an Entrepreneur

Why I became an entrepreneur

When I was a child, I remember people asking me what I wanted to be when I grew up.  I’m pretty sure I never once responded to that question by saying, “I want to be an entrepreneur.”  As a child, I had never once considered the possibility of owning my own handmade business.  Yet, here I am, sole proprietor of Elaine Searer, Sewing & Alterations, and I’m loving it!

Three Reasons I Started My Own Business

My top three reasons for owning my own handmade business are as follows:
1. Opportunity to work in my own home
2.  Setting my own schedule (except during my busy season)
3.  Satisfaction of doing work that is appreciated by my customers.
Making fleece car seat ponchos

Not only do I make custom items, but I also do alterations.  I find it extremely satisfying to take a garment that someone couldn’t use and turn it into something that fits and works for that person.  I feel that same satisfaction when I take two pieces of fleece fabric and make a car seat poncho that will keep a child warm all winter long.
Paperwork is part of my businessMy husband and I have created a comfortable, practical sewing studio in the basement of our home.  It’s one of my favorite places to spend time.  I am very thankful that I can contribute financially in a way that is enjoyable and fulfilling.
Choosing snaps for a car seat poncho

Flexibility

Before I became an entrepreneur, I was a high school English teacher.  I liked that job, too.  The time I spent in the classroom with my students was especially enjoyable for me.  I did find, however, that I was not well-suited to running my life by a system of bells.  I craved an opportunity to be more in charge of my own schedule.

Owning my own business doesn’t mean that I can work only when I feel like it, but my schedule is flexible.  My husband, Jack, and I start every day with coffee and a “business meeting” in our living room.  We love our local customers whom we see face-to-face.  It’s fun to follow our packages that are sold in my Etsy shop and here in my own online store as they travel across the U.S.A. and Canada.  Our customers often make our day with their orders and positive feedback for my products.
Handmade fleece car seat poncho
For right now, I’m fully convinced that I’m doing exactly what God created me to do right here in the space that He’s given me.  If anyone would ask me what I’d like to be doing with my life, I’d proudly tell them, “I’m already doing it!”

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