Big Gypsy Fashion

Thelma Madine

It all started over in the United Kingdom with dressmaker, Thelma Madine.  I got a glimpse into the world of Gypsy weddings.  And I was hooked!

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Each week, I’d tune into TLC’s My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding and considered running away in hopes of getting an internship with Thelma.

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Although I loved the enormous blinged-out wedding dresses she made, I was head over heels about her children’s creations.

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Her Communion and Flower Girl dresses rivaled those of even the tackiest ones here in Staten Island, New York.  The more tulle and Swarovski crystals, the better!  Her Christening dresses were breathtaking!  If you’ve never seen the show, you can buy My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding – Season 1 and 2 on DVD!

Thelma Madine and her workers in her factory

Thelma’s newest show is called, “Little Shop of Gypsies.”  She takes on 10 Gypsy girls to teach them how to make fabulous dresses.  It is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for these girls who rarely get to finish high school.

Thelma has recently published her first book, “Tales of a Gypsy Dressmaker.  She has an incredible story which includes a stint in prison…LOL!

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Not to be outdone by the UK, enter the fabulous Sondra Celli, dressmaker of TLC’s My Big Fat American Gypsy Wedding and Bling it On!

MY BIG FAT AMERICAN GYPSY WEDDING

Her creations are spectacular!  That woman and her crew can make dresses that dreams are made of!

 MY BIG FAT AMERICAN GYPSY WEDDING

The wedding gowns are over the top…hundreds of yards of tulle, thousands of rhinestones and enough fabric to cloth half of a large city!

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But she doesn’t stop there.  She’ll bling anything from shoes to

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baby strollers!

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Sondra has a team of girls who are called, “Blingettes.”  They spend hours upon hours applying crystals to her creations.

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Channel Guide Magazine did a great interview with Sondra.  Great read!

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All this BLING reminds me that I need to order more Hot Fix Crystals from my friend, Suzie aka The Hot Fix Queen!

With friendship,

Lisa

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Since it’s National Sewing Month, how about some FREE FABRIC?

EDIT:  WE HAVE A WINNER!  GIGI WINS A YARD OF FABRIC IN HER CHOICE OF TYPE AND COLOR! (Gigi….email me at domesticdiva@si.rr.com )

September is National Sewing Month (you can follow along on Facebook)!  So I guess it’s time for me to get back to my favorite thing to do:  Sewing!

I’ve recently stopped working and just got the kids back to school, so I now have my days to enjoy sewing once again.  Yippee!

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First things first.  After shrinking my beautiful white smocked shower curtain in the wash, I needed to find a replacement for my Tiffany inspired bathroom.

At HomeGoods, I found a black polyester/cotton waffle-weave shower curtain.  Although nice, it needs something to make it unique.  Searching through my trim stash, I came upon this beautiful sequin trim in Tiffany Blue (I know you’re thinking the trim looks silver, but it’s not in person).

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Great.  But now I need to figure out how to attach the sequin trim to the shower curtain.  Do I sew it?  If so, what type of sewing machine needle, stitch type and thread do I use?  Glue it?  Would I use hot glue or another type of adhesive?  What about Res-Q Tape?  Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

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FREE YARD OF FABRIC TO WHOEVER COMES UP WITH THE BEST SUGGESTION on how to attach the sequin trim!  POST YOUR SUGGESTIONS BELOW!  The Winner will receive a yard of either Quilter’s cotton or cotton knit in the color of their choice.  Contest ends tomorrow at 5pm EST.

lisa

Martha Stewart’s Sewing-Themed Christmas Decorations

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Dear Martha:  Sometimes you are just so creative!  I have to say I was quite impressed with the sewing-themed Christmas decorations (Whimsical Workshop) I recently spotted at my local Kmart store in NYC.  Who would have thought to use a sewing tape measure with balls of yarn as tree garland?  Too clever!

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Not to mention your other garland of grosgrain ribbon, spools of thread and lots of button!  Ingenious!

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Love the mini wreath made with spools of thread and tied with a sewing tape measure!

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I giggled when I saw your sewing basket ornament complete with knitting needles!

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Loved the Button Christmas Ornaments, too!

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And that flocked velvet ribbon with images of stitching and buttons—too cute!

However, my excitement quickly turned to disappointment when I realized my sewing room is PINK, Black and White.  Seriously, I dislike anything RED for Christmas.  The Chartreuse Green I can live with, but not the RED.

Looks like I’ll have to make my own sewing-themed decorations for my Pink sewing room.  But Martha, thanks for the inspiration!

lisasiggie

The Making of a Christening Dress

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I should have smacked myself upside the head.  I’d had a month to get the Christening gown for Sophia completed, but ended up finishing it just a few hours before her Baptism.

Beyond my usual procrastination, I have a habit of “designing as I go.”  I usually have an idea of what I want it to look like.  However, I continually change design elements and always end up with something totally different from my original design.  Am I the only one who does this?

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Working with silk shantung is challenging to say the least.  And trying to set the tiniest gathered sleeves is beyond nerve-wracking!

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Then I sewed lace and tatting to tulle.  At least I was smart enough to do it flat (before sewing up the side seams of the skirts).

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But the worst was trying to gather 6 skirt layers (1 cotton batiste, 3 tulle, 1 netted lace and 1 silk shantung overskirt) and attach them to the tiny silk shantung bodice.

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Whew! DONE!  To give you an idea of size…this dress bodice is a size 3 months…LOL!  It just looks bigger in photos.  Ok, so the dress is huge…I think it measures about 48 inches.  And oh my…it was HEAVY!

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At the last minute, I decided to do these silk dupioni spider web roses.  I’ll post a quick tutorial this week (once I get another manicure), so everyone can make some, too.

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To make dressing the baby easy, I used large sewn-in snaps and covered them with no-functioning rhinestone buttons.

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Here’s a close-up of all the skirt layers.  I’ve made several special occasion dresses, but never a Christening dress.  This was a first.  I’ve been collecting vintage laces and tatting for ages and loved using them for such a precious little girl!

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Meet Sophia, daughter of my dear friend, Diana (aka Diana of Not Just Bagels)!  The Christening gown fit Sophia perfectly!    It was such a feeling of accomplishment to see Sophia in the Christening dress.

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Sophia enjoyed sucking on the big silk roses.  Isn’t she beautiful?

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Diana loved the dress and is going to put it in a huge shadow box to display in Sophia’s room.

Wishing everyone a Happy 4th of July!

lisa

Designing a Christening Gown, Finding a Treasure and Happy Birthday to ME!

PLAYING WITH LACE

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I was so terrified honored when my dear friend, Diana (you know, the one who made all the delicious caramels apples for the big BBQ), asked me to create the perfect Christening gown for her new daughter, Sophia.

She decided on a simple an over-the-top ivory silk shantung gown with an underlay of vintage lace. 

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Diana is even going to let me add a big vintage pink silk sash which will be tied into a big bow on the back of the dress and embellished with Swarovski crystals.  Luckily, I have one of those cool hot fix crystal tools from Hot Fix Suzy™!

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As much as we both loved the alençon lace, it was too glitzy for the Christening gown we’ve envisioned.

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We decided on the perfect lace which has a soft hand.

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The abundant tulle underskirt layers will be trimmed with various vintage laces…some ivory and some pink!

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But before I can start on the Christening Gown, I’ll need to tidy up my sewing room…ugh!  Prior to sewing any special occasion dress (especially whites), I always give my sewing room the Mr. Clean treatment.  DONE!

Seems I started 14 pair of lounge pants for my daughter, 7 onesies for above new baby and various other sewing projects.  Off they all go to the UFO (Un Finished Objects) pile…LOL!

Sophia’s Christening is June 28th…so I had better get moving!

UNIQUE PATTERN MAKING

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Kathleen of Fashion-Incubator recently posted about a defunct company, East-West Musical Instruments Co., which created the most unique leather jackets.  These jackets are a work of art.

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And wouldn’t you know, I’ve had this beautiful one they created back in the 70s.  It was given to me by my childhood housekeeper who received it from Edgar Winter.

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I certainly made a fashion statement as a teenager as everyone went nuts when they saw this silver leather jacket.  I didn’t realize it was valuable.  Check this one out.  Elvis’ jacket went for over $30,000!  It is marked jacket #432, I believe!

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I can’t imagine the hours of pattern making and sewing that went into creating this masterpiece.

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HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME

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Last week, I celebrated my 46th birthday (May 22nd) with a delicious Mocha Butter Cream cake (thanks to my sister, Linda).  I had cake for breakfast, lunch and dinner for two days..haha!

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And no…that’s not my front lawn above…although it is not below me to get one of those!  I did, however, display the obnoxious amount of fresh flowers Mr. Diva surprised me with in the front window.  It pisses off all the other housewives in the neighborhood.

Now to get to work…hope everyone is having a great week!

With friendship,

Lisa

divabirthday

You’re Taking It All Too Hard

There’s always a reason why it happened.  You never never did anything wrong.

But it It just seemed to fall apart.  You’re taking it all too hard.

Genesis

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Mr. Diva™ did the right thing for Valentine’s Day (even though they were delivered a day late).

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He surprised Marielle with beautiful flowers, too!

Yes, I’ve been busy.  Busy doing NOTHING.  Seriously.  Ever since I returned from Marielle’s kidney transplant hospitalization, I am useless.  My life as I knew it has been sucked out of me.  I rarely return phone calls and emails.  I am numb.  Not particularly sad, but not giggling as usual.

Friends think I’m suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or something along those lines.  I don’t think that’s the case.  It’s more like I disappeared for a few months and the world kept moving.  Now I need to catch up with all that has been neglected since my daughter got sick last May.  Only problem is I don’t know where to start.  Perhaps it’s all just too much pressure I put on myself.

To add to all this, the CPSIA has been a bad dream for me.  This post from Polkadot Patch Kids really sums up my feelings lately.  I’ve got a lot to say about the CPSIA, but don’t have the energy at this very moment to post it.  Stay tuned.

So I’m taking baby steps.  It’s all I can do at this point.

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Speaking of babies, my dear friend, Diana (you know, the one who made all the delicious caramels apples for the big BBQ) has a baby shower a few weeks ago.  As I had no motivation to sew/embroider baby gifts, I took her shopping at our local children’s boutique instead.  We got lots of beautiful baby clothes and accessories.

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Notice the heelarioius heels? Oh and I’m delighted to announce the arrival of Sophia Antoinella Diaco this past Tuesday!  She’s beyond precious!  Congratulations to Diana and Anthony!

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I’m preparing to redecorate Marielle’s room in zebra and hot pink.  Her bedroom walls will be painted hot pink and I thought one of these neat Vinyl Dress Form on Etsy would be perfect.  I was going to add a decorative dress form, but I didn’t want to add to the clutter in her room.  That child has too much stuff!

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There’s also this Vinyl Dress Form on Etsy

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and this one

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oh wait…what about this one?  So many choices!

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OMG!  Check out this Zebra Lamp!  I love it, but it’s more than I want to spend.  Anyway it’s light pink, not hot pink…LOL!

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I bought her this bedding and had custom zebra window cushions made for her room.  It’s going to be awesome if I ever start painting her walls.

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In an effort to get back to my sewing machines (which haven’t been touched in ages), I volunteered to help my non-sewing friend, Lynn, make a table skirt.  It took me several days as I’d only do one step and then get distracted with other stuff.  Silly me…it is something I’d usually finish in less than an hour.  If only I could focus.

If only Lynn knew how necessary this project was for me.  It forced me to do what I love most…sew!

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And now onto the most important thing…Marielle continues to do GREAT after her kidney transplant two months ago!

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You’d never know she is the same child who was clinging to life in an ICU for months!  Miracles do happen!

Oh and check out my new favorite song by The Fray!

With friendship,

Lisa

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CPSIA–Just When You Thought it was Safe to Get Back to the Sewing Room…

UPDATED:  RECEIVED THE FOLLOWING GUIDE FROM THE CPSC AT 1:23 AM TODAY!:

Guidance on the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) for Small Businesses, Resellers, Crafters, and Charities

Nothing like waiting until last minute?  Unbelievable!

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Not sure how the rest of you feel, but this whole CPSIA stuff continues to mentally and physically DRAIN me!  I spend a tremendous amount of time reading, bewildered, rereading, twittering, disseminating information, testing, retesting, and banging my head against the wall.

It has all knocked the life out of me.  Some think it’s no big deal.  But the reality of it is another story.

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Read the latest 7 items from the CPSC from this past Thursday and Friday.  Now before you get all excited and think you are off the hook, perhaps you should read some of the thoughts around the web:

Fashion-Incubator:  3 Days Until National Bankruptcy Day

Senator DeMint:  Congress Turns Toy Story into Nightmare for Small Business

Rick Woldenberg:  The Emperor Has No Clothes

Rick Woldenberg:  CPSC Commissioners Speak Out

Rick Woldenberg:  CPSIA More Serious Message

Overlawyered:  CPSIA Roulette

Overlawyered:  What Will Be Enforced?

Overlawyered:  CPSIA Fifty Stars and an Asterisk

Overlawyered:  CPSIA Chronicles February 10th

The Common Room:  There’s a Difference Between a Policy and a Law

The Common Room:  CPSIA and State Attorney General

The Common Room:  Open Letter to NRDC

Shopfloor:  Ambiguous Enforcement-Certain Disruption

CPSIA by Numbers (Part 1):  How Much Safer Will CPSIA Make Us?

CPSIA by Numbers (Part 2):Stochastic Approach

CPSIA by Numbers (Part 3):  Scary Sounding Chemicals

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(Note:  Yes, I did eat the tires off my first carriage….LOL!)

Honestly, I don’t have a game plan yet.  I rented an XRF gun to lead test my boys’ clothing line and everything else in my sewing studio (over $400/day).  All fabrics, elastics and trims passed.  Problems occurred with some snaps and zipper heads (thankfully I have lead-free substitutes).  Not sure if the reflection of the silver on these items gave me false-positive results.  So what I’ll need to do now is have these items in question re-tested by a professional (more $$$).

But the good news is I can continue to sell for the next year.  Yet, unless the CPSC decides to allow component testing next year, my business won’t be able to survive the high cost of third-party lab testing.  Kathleen of Fashion-Incubator sums up how I feel.

With friendship,

Lisa

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CPSIA Stay of Enforcement-Thoughts Around the Web

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I know everyone in the children’s business is jumping for joy.  I’m not–at least not yet.  The CPSIA problems are far from over.  The CPSC has issued a “stay of enforcement” meaning they aren’t going to enforce the new CPSIA law just yet.  However, they are allowing your state’s attorney general to do so.

The law still applies.  The CPSC, however, is not requiring third-party testing at this time.  Yet, you are still  not allowed to sell children’s products outside of the new lead limits.  Seems the law hasn’t changed–just the testing requirements and enforcement for the time being (and only Congress can change the law, not the CPSC).

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Another thought that comes to mind is wholesale accounts (children’s boutiques).  I seriously doubt boutiques want the liability and will want some type of proof that your children’s products are lead-free.  They’ll want to have all incoming stock to be certified prior to any amendments in the law as they are unsure how this will all play out.  Stores won’t want to add products that might not be sellable in the future.

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I’ve decided to go ahead with my XRF lead testing tomorrow and have GCCs issued to ensure the safety of my boys’ clothing line.  It will only add value to my products as not all of my competitors are doing so.

Now for some CPSIA links around the web:

National Bankruptcy Day:  Cautious Optimism

Overlawyered.com CPSIA Stay:  Part I

Overlawyered.com CPSIA Stay:  Part II

Z Recommends:  Seller Beware

CPSIA Cheer:  Touchdown!  We Scored!  But It’s Not Even Half Time

Senator Hatch Wants Senate Hearings on CPSIA

Reform CPSIA

WhatDoISell.com:  Temporary Relief

Boutique Cafe:  Breathe Easily and then Call Your Representatives from Heather of Lilliputians

Kenneth Ross, Attorney at Law:  Summary of CPSIA Stay

Scholars and Rogues:  No Child Product Left Behind

How Much Safer Will CPSIA Make Us?

Nancy Nord of CPSC:  Letter to Congress regarding Stay

The Smart Mama

I think what everyone should be doing at this point is contacting your local members of Congress and ask them to support Congressman DeMint’s Bill to amend the CPSIA.

One last thing, my mentor, Kathleen Fasanella of Fashion-Incubator.com, deserves a big THANK YOU from me and the rest of the children’s apparel industry.  Kathleen has worked countless hours (and continues to do so) on the CPSIA and its affects on sewn products.  I don’t know what I would do without her.  Seriously.

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DORKA THE EXECUTIONER by wacky artist David Gross

Hope everyone’s enjoying a wonderful weekend!  I know Mr. Diva will be.  He and his passe are awaiting the limo to take them to Atlantic City, NJ for Super Bowl Weekend.  Oh, what a wonderful wife I am–LOL!

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Disclaimer:  Although I consider myself extremely bright, I have no legal background (other than a paralegal certificate…LOL) and therefore, the above post reflects my personal opinion and should not be construed as legal advice.

CPSIA BREAKING NEWS!!!

The CPSC has issued a STAY on the CPSIA!  Read it here:

CPSC Stay on Lead in Children’s Products

CPSC’s Press Release

Fashion-Incubator re:  CPSIA Stay of Execution

Also SC Senator Jim DeMint is proposing legislation next week to reform the CPSIA!

Wondering if I should cancel the XRF testing this weekend…perhaps.

Hope your weekend if off to a great start!  I’ll be out to see Joe Piscipo and other comedians tonight with Mr. Diva and another couple!  I so need to get out more often!

With friendship,

Lisa

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Downtown Joey will be CPSIA Compliant plus Some Great CPSIA Links

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Good news–I’m scheduled to test (via XRF testing gun) my Spring/Summer 2009 Downtown Joey boys’ clothing line this weekend!  I don’t foresee any problems as all my fabric is 100% cotton and my components (zippers, snaps, etc.) are from reputable suppliers.  My only concern are my key chains.  We shall see.  Wish me luck!

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In the meantime, I wanted to share with you some more great CPSIA links to keep you busy this weekend:

NAM Petition Request Delay of February 10th CPSIA

Fashion-Incubator’s Crystal Ball and Status Report

Fashion-Incubator:  How the Industry has Changed Forever

Some Really Great Advice for CPSIA – Polkadot Patch Baby

CPSIA:  My Wish List by Rick Woldenberg

CPSIA:  Some Random Thoughts by Rick Woldenberg

The Grim Reader

lisa

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