As a craftsperson, you transform raw materials into finished products. We are offering the following information for you so that you can better understand what is considered quality, and how you can increase your own skill level and profitability. You may have noticed that we have also created a buyers guide on this website to educate the buying public about quality Labrador crafts. When you pay attention to each detail of construction and finishing, the quality of your products improves. With time and experience, your level of skill will increase.
There are many skilled crafts people in Labrador and most are very willing to share their expertise. It is their way of keeping craft traditions alive. Please don’t be afraid to ask for advice from an established craftsperson when you want to improve your techniques. You may be surprised what you can learn.
It is important to use good quality materials in our crafts. Many people who buy knitted or sewn goods look for natural fibres like cotton and wool. You can usually charge higher prices for crafts made with natural fibres than those made with polyester or nylon. Be sure to label your crafts with information about the materials used. Of course, recycled and natural materials, like barn-board and soapstone are wonderful raw materials for crafts. Make sure that these materials are clean and in good condition.
How you present you craft to the public also adds perceived value. Always take care so that the inside and the back of your products are finished neatly. If you use packaging or bundling material, it should complement the craft. Knitted goods are more attractive when they are loose without any packaging or displayed on body forms, than if folded in plastic bags. If you frame your artwork, always select a frame that enhances the work.
Labelling also adds value to your product as it helps tell your story. Your hangtags should be securely fixed to every craft item, and the customer should be able to find the hang tags easily. Don’t hide them inside. Your hang tag should include all the information your customer will need, such as your name and contact information, the size, price, and natural fibre content, if that is a selling feature. It is a good idea to include washing instructions on the hangtag. If your craft is purely decorative and will not withstand heavy use, you should include that information on the hangtag (e.g. This is not a toy). Hangtags are a great way to educate the public about your products.
Did you know that there are federal government regulations that require certain textile products carry fibre and dealer identification labels? It is your responsibility as the craftsperson to meet these regulations. Some shops will not accept your products unless you meet the federal government standards.
NOTE: These standards are adapted from the quality standards developed by the Labrador Craft Producers’ Association, the Labrador Craft Marketing Agency and the Craft Council of Newfoundland and Labrador to assist craft producers in selling their work. If you decide to sell your crafts through the Craft Council of Newfoundland and Labrador, or if you would like to have permission to use the provincial Crafts of Character logo, you will be required to submit samples of your products for a quality review process. After reviewing your crafts, these agencies may request modifications to your design, materials or assembly. Once you have made the changes you will be required to submit the crafts again for another review. Their quality standards are quite strict, in order to ensure that only the best quality products are available in this province.
You can find the original 1986 Labrador Craft Producers’ Association Quality Control Checklist Manual for Crafts on our Documents page.
You might use beadwork to embellish a craft item or to create unique beaded artwork. If you reproduce a traditional design motif in your work you should identify it in your labelling. (e.g. Replica of Labrador Flag). If you follow the techniques below, your finished crafts will be of a higher quality and you will be able to charge higher prices.
Always use good quality and suitable background materials for the technique you are using.
Always use high quality beads in your work.
Make sure that you stitch the beads evenly and so that they lie flat on the fabric in two dimensional designs.
If you are using the couching method, be sure to carry and hold the beads in place with beading thread, sinew or nylon multi-strand thread.
Here are some great tips for couching to ensure the beads will be secure:
- In a straight line of beading, place a couching stitch after every second bead.
- At a corner, place a couching stitch after every bead.
- On a point, place a couching stitch before and after each of the three beads that form the point.
Be sure to secure the thread you are using to carry the beads periodically to make the beads more secure. It is a good practice to secure the carrying thread every 5th – 7th bead, in a straight line.
You should always secure single beads with double stitches or sew them in place using a chain-like stitch. It is important that the length of the stitch is the length of the bead when using bugle beads.
You can also attach beads with a tambour hook.
Make sure that all thread ends are secured well. If you are using nylon thread, be sure to knot the ends and back stitch, leaving a tail that is ½ to ¾ inches long inside.
Here are some suggestions that may help you improve your techniques and quality of caribou tufting and sculpting.
Cut round or leaf shaped petals as close as possible to the same size in each element.
Choose a good quality background fabric for your design. You should stabilize the background fabric with sturdy canvas or other material to keeps the background from stretching or puckering while working.
Clean the caribou hair before you use it, and make sure that you remove any bits of hide or dried flesh.
Use a loop stitch to hold the caribou hair tightly against fabric. If your stitch is too loose, the tufting will fall apart. But you already knew that, didn’t you!
Use good quality scissors and cut the hair carefully and evenly. Don’t leave any long or uneven ridges in the tufts. That just looks sloppy!
When you’ve finished the tuft, the loop stitch must not be visible. Be sure to knot it securely in the backing two or three times. But you knew that too, didn’t you!
Create as many tufts as necessary to fill in the space in each design.
If you traced the design on the background fabric, make sure all markings are covered with tufts.
If you are sculpting the fur, be sure to cut the outline edges so they lie flat against the fabric.
Cut the hair so it is long enough to give a natural look (short at outline and fuller towards the middle). The nap of the fur should be natural looking like the animal’s coat.
Carefully sculpt so that the details in your design are distinct.
When you attach the hide for sculpting, use short running stitches or several loop stitches on the outline.
If you traced the design on the background fabric, make sure all markings are covered with sculpting.
If you frame the work, choose a good quality frame and make sure that none of the hair is touching the glass.
Don’t leave any loose hairs or dust on the finished piece.
You may be using wood, bone, antler, ivory (tusk), stone or a combination of these in your carvings. Unfortunately, buyers can’t always tell the difference between the carving you have spent hours creating and a cheap imitation from a poured mould. Make sure you sign your carving on the bottom and provide hangtags with information about you, the artist, and your art to help educate buyers.
Here are some ways you can improve your products and increase the prices you charge.
Try to create original designs in your work. Every inuksuk you create should be distinctive and every hood should be unique. Make sure that everything appears in correct proportion, unless you are creating an abstract work.
Always choose materials that are good quality. Bone must be properly aged.
When you are finished a carving, there should not be any visible chips, cracks or signs of repair.
Make sure there are no scratch marks visible, unless you are using scratch marks to create texture.
Always carve in the facial features (eyes, mouth and nose). Never scratched these into the carving.
When you are using wood, make sure there aren’t any dents in the wood that you can’t incorporate into the design of the finished product. Also be sure that there aren’t any splinters in the finished carving.
If you are adding carved attachments, like harpoons, drums, tusks, they should fit snugly to carving and most should be removable.
Make sure your carving is firmly mounted or constructed so that it stands firmly on its own.
Only use glue when it is absolutely necessary. Make sure that no glue is visible on the finished product. Be sure not to glue shiny surfaces together.
If you polish your work, be sure to polish evenly so that the beauty of the stone, wood or bone is still visible. Don’t use black shoe polish on soapstone.
Do you use duffel to make coats baby buntings, hats, slippers, mittens or household craft items? Tourists continue to love duffel items. We have some suggestions below that will help you improve the quality of your duffel crafts and allow you to charge higher prices.
When you use embellishments, they should be suitable for the product you are creating. Be sure that the embellishments you add are balanced on the piece.
For Labrador embroidery work, many traditional designs have been passed down through the years. Some machine embroidery companies use those traditional designs, but don’t be tempted to use machine embroidery on your work. It takes away from the value and from the hand work you have put into the item.
Always be sure to use new, good quality duffel and embellishment materials.
When sewing duffel, use matching thread that is the appropriate type and weight for the fabric.
The best choice for embroidered decoration on duffel is natural fibre yarn or embroidery floss (e. silk, cotton or wool)
When you cut the duffel, be sure to cut your pattern so that the pile nap runs towards the heel on slippers and towards the fingertips on coats and mitts.
Be careful when you sew to ensure the seams are secure and straight.
When you sew mitts, make sure that the raw edges of the seams butt, and are covered with embroidery stitches so they won’t show.
If there is a lining in the piece (e.g. slippers, mitts, coats), make sure that it fits snugly against the duffel without bulges or ripples.
Embroidered and crocheted edges are a focal point, so make sure they are neat and even. Weave in the ends of your embroidery threads so they are secure. Make sure that none of the pattern is visible around the stitches.
When you are finished sewing, be sure to clean and press the garment.
Here are some suggestions that will help you improve the quality of your embroidery work and allow you to charge higher prices.
Use good quality fabrics and embroidery threads.
There are many different embroidery stitches to use in your craft. Make sure that your stitch tension is always even so the fabric and thread are not drawn and puckered.
Be careful to keep the grain lines of the background fabric straight.
Keep your work clean, and even the back of the work should be neat and tidy.
Cover all the design marks with embroidery floss so they don’t show.
If you use a hoop, wash the finished piece to remove any marks.
Weave in all the ends of the threads. If you knot the ends of the thread, make sure they don’t show.
If you choose to frame the embroidery or place it under glass, be sure to use a good quality frame and stretch the artwork before you frame it. Make sure the thread does not touch the glass.
Where do you collect your saltwater grasses? Whether you sew the grass into baskets, bowls or trivets, here are some tips to help you improve your work and allow you to charge higher prices.
Make sure that the grass you use is supple and an attractive colour, not split or brittle.
Be careful to ensure the shape of the piece is balanced and centred. Your rounds should be even and firm.
Start your work by hiding the starting knot flat in the sewing. Finish your work by tapering the thickness of grass in the last round.
Make sure that decorative stitching you add is uniform. If you add any accessories, secure them neatly.
Don’t leave any bits of grass ends showing.
Your finished grasswork should be firm to the touch and be able to stand on its own. Make sure that you construct lids so they fit snugly.
Whether you choose the traditional Grenfell patterns or create new modern designs, your hooked rugs will be a popular craft item. Take the time to create a quality product that will command the high price it deserves.
Always choose a good quality and firm backing material.
If you are using re-cycled fabrics for the loops, wash them first. Your hangtag should include the fact that the rug uses recycled fabrics.
Cover your background material completely.
Make sure that all of the loops are at even height, unless you are hooking at different heights to create texture.
Grenfell style rugs are always made with straight line hooking.
Your tension should be even. If it is too tight, the edges of the rug will curl.
Finish the edges neatly and firmly. Mitre corners.
If you are making a floor rug, cover the back with a non-skid coating. This will prevent slipping, and ravelling of loops.
Knitting and Crocheting
Socks, hats, mittens and sweaters are popular craft and souvenir items. If you create high quality knitwear, you can demand high prices. Here are some suggestions to help you improve the quality of your crafts.
Use good quality yarns that are compatible with each other in weight, texture, quality and make sure that the dyes lot are consistent. If your knitted piece is washable, all of the yarns you use must be washable.
Keep your tension even in the cast on row and across the body of the work.
The inside of the piece should be as neat and finished on the inside as on the out.
Make sure that seams are not too tight and darn in all the ends of yarn so they are hidden.
Try to make joins of yarn at the edges of the rows. If you have to join a yarn in the middle of a row, be careful to carry and darn in the ends horizontally across the row.
Never knot yarns together.
When you change colours or pick up stitches, be careful not to create puckers and holes.
Finish your work by washing, blocking and pressing it.
Whether you create bed quilts, quilted wall hangings or quilted clothing and accessories, your work will be popular with tourists. Here are a few tips that will help you improve the quality of your quilting.
Always use new, good quality fabrics in your quilts. You should prewash the fabrics before you cut them so they won’t shrink unevenly later.
If you use a combination of fabrics, make sure they are all compatible weight, texture and washing requirements.
Use good quality thread that is the appropriate type and weight, and matches or contrast with the fabric you are sewing.
When you are sewing pieces together, the points should be sharp, intersections should meet evenly and be flat, and curves should be precise. After you press the seams they should lie smooth without puckers or wrinkles.
Always cut the fabric grain correctly.
When you appliqué, make sure the stitching is smooth and consistent. No frayed fabric edges should be visible fabric.
Press the seams open or towards the darker fabric so they won’t shadow on the front.
Trim thread ends short so they won’t shadow through the fabric.
Use a good quality batting that will lay flat inside and not bunch up or pucker.
Whether you hand quilt or machine quilt, make sure your stitches are uniform in length. Don’t leave any loose threads or bunches of thread.
If you are binding the edges of your piece, make sure the binding fabric is compatible with the rest of the piece. If you use bias bindings, make sure it does not ripple and that your corners are square and 90°.
If the borders you sew on the quilt is larger than 5″, you should also quilt it.
If you used a quilt stitching transfer, make sure the lines are washed away when you finish the quilt.
To test if your work is perfectly square, fold it in half, and check that the corners of the quilt line up evenly.
Be sure to include labelling on your hang tag that says, “Hand Quilted” or, “Machine Quilted”.
Sealskin products are growing in popularity and demand these days. Be aware that skin prices vary each year and during the various seasons. You can save the scraps from your larger projects to use for smaller items like coin purses, key tags or jewellery.
Make sure that the skins you used have been properly cleaned and tanned and be wary of stains or scars in the hide as you cut your pattern.
Be sure to cut the hide with the fur nap all in the same direction.
If you are adding piping in the design, make sure the piping is even all around.
Use strong sinew and keep you stiches small, neat, and even.
It is nice to include beadwork or applique, but make sure it is attractive and securely attached.
If you are making boots, use a reliable pattern that has a standard foot size and calf width.
Take care when pleating at the toe to keep the pleats even and tidy.
Carefully secure bindings and make sure that your bindings and drawstrings match.
If you are making mittens, use a reliable pattern with standard size of palm to finger and thumb, a good wrist length and a sufficient width in the arm.
For lined mittens, make sure the lining fits well and is sewn securely.
Sewn articles, such as coats and handbags, are in demand at craft shops. They reflect the lifestyle of Labrador and help capture a bit of our history. Here are a few tips that will help you improve the quality of your sewing.
Select good quality fabrics, linings, and notions that are suitable for the way the article will be used.
Be aware of Industry Canada fire safety regulations for fabrics that are used in children’s sleepwear
If you use re-cycled fabric, clean it first and check for quality issues. On your hangtag, identify that the fabrics is recycled – that is often a popular selling feature.
If possible, prewash fabrics and trims so they won’t shrink later.
Be careful with grainlines of fabric and keep them straight when cutting your pattern. Cutting off grain will create sags and ripples.
Be sure to cut the selvedges off. They are tighter than the body of the fabric and will cause puckering.
Check your sewing machine tension and stitching before you start. Make sure it is balanced.
Use the correct size of sewing needle. If it is too small, it may break. If it is too large, it may snag the material, or create holes.
Use good quality thread that is the right type and weight, and matches your fabric.
When you are sewing parts together, points should be sharp, intersections should meet evenly and be flat, and curves should be precise. Measure pleats carefully so they are even. After you press the seams they should lie smooth without puckers or wrinkles.
Finish all raw edges. Use a serger, zigzag, or flat-felled seams.
Press often. Press after you sew every seam. This will help you avoid bunching and puckers.
Take the time to understitch, edgestitch or topstitch facings. That really improves the look of the finished product, especially around necklines!
Make sure the lining is secured and is not visible.
Take care to finish the inside and the outside of the sewn article. Cut away any loose threads and make sure raw edges are finished. Don’t leave any marking lines visible.
Make sure your craft is clean and pressed before you display it. Take an iron and towel to craft sales with you to touch up any wrinkled bits!
Choose good quality fibres that suit the end use of the article you are making.
If you are using re-cycled fibres, make sure they are clean. Note on your hangtag that the fibres are recycled – it is often a selling feature.
Be careful and use the correct technical methods.
Your web should be correctly sleyed and evenly beaten, unless your design includes irregularity.
Be careful to ensure that the selvedges are neat, even and lie flat without puckering.
Secure all joined ends and bury them in the weaving.
Weave rugs tightly so they will withstand longer wear and tear. Your finished rug should have a consistent and firm weight.
Carefully finish your weaving by hemming, blocking, washing, pressing and/or brushing, depending on the end use.
If your design includes a fringe, be sure the yarn will withstand the intended use and cleaning without deterioration.
Only use a serger to finish inside seams of articles made from hand-woven fabric. For example, a serged edge on placemats detracts from the beauty of the weaving.
When you finish a rug make sure the ends are braided, twisted, turned under and taped, or threaded back into the body of the rug.