Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Creative Bloggers: Casual Cottage

Casual Cottage is such a sweet blog to visit, such pretty feminine images in a cozy cottage feeling. I was recently checking out some of the great vintage and sewing items that she shares with her readers.

While spending some time on Casual Cottage I hopped over to the new website, which is just as sweet as the blog. Here you will find handmade goodies from key fobs, to yo yo's (which are really in right now for crafting), pin cushions, coin purses, checkbook covers,and the most darling fabric brooches.

I chose a few favorives to share. Really a great selection of goodies you could use yourself or would make great gifts.

Feel free to give a tweet and share this blog and website with your friends and followers!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Trip to the Pumpkin Patch

Ok, it wasn't really the pumpkin patch, it was a roadside stand selling pumpkins, gourds, hay, cornstalks and mums. We had just as much fun looking at the autumn colors of these earthy treasures.

Today's mission to get small pumpkins for decorating, we will be decorating these pumpkins to enjoy probably until we get out our Christmas decorations. I was especially pleased with our finds today as they had pie pumpkins and then the mini pumpkins that were 3 for 1.00, perfect for crafting with little hands.

My daughter and I probably spent 40 minutes choosing 8 pumpkins, we took time to look at all the pumpkins and talked about going back for the pumpkins we will carve later this season.

We will be gathering up embellishments from my sewing room in Halloween colors, rick rack, beads, buttons, ribbons, boas and sequins. Stay tuned I will be sharing our creations in the next week or so. For now the pumpkins await their festive dressings.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Upcycled Brown Paper Bag = Zip Pouch

I have been wanting to try crafting zip pouches with brown paper bags for a while now. We have lots of these as we use them over and over again, and we also use them to gather paper recycling. I have always like the crafty earthy paper bags and do use them for various crafting projects from time to time.

Second Attempt: Quite pleased with this zip pouch

Inspired by my scrap stash I finally gave zip pouches a try. My first attempt was not too successful, and why I won't learn to just do a scaled back sample first is beyond me. My first did not go to well the paper was way to crunchy and stiff to turn inside out to my desired shape and is kind of a crumpled and stiff and as a result of being handled stitches popped in several places.

First attempt: Less then perfect

My thought was to cut the brown paper into pieces then put it through the washer and the dryer to have it become more pliable like fabric. Wanting this now I opted to just get it wet, that did the trick, I thouroughly soak my sewn piece then rung it out. It was a lot more pliable and I could shape and turn it nicely. I let it air dry overnight and it is just as I wanted.

I used a light weight fusible fleece and raw edge applique to affix fabric detail. Coin purse ended up 5.5 x 3.5 inches and is lined in 100% cotton. A few buttons stitched as detail and a zipper closure complete this pouch.

A few more tweaks on sizing and embellishments and who knows you might see these upcycled zip pouches in my shop someday, because I have A LOT of scraps.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

I Pretend I Bake

Well it impressed my four year old. These cute orange jack-o-lantern cookies are just the ones you find in the dairy section of the grocery store. We chose these over the cats, they are just simple sugar cookies and of course if you can turn on your oven you can bake these cookies.

They actually came in handy for a last minute dessert for impromptu dinner guests. The dough can be frozen as well, I baked half and we will have the other half for another occasion, or if we just feel like it.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

DaisyCakes Soap: Halloween Treat Giveaway

I happened to be browsing the great handmade giveaway on etsy giveaways and found a fun Halloween Treat giveaway from DaisyCakesSoap.

Included in this giveaway are four treats, yes four! A black skull soap, a pink skull soap, pumpkin soap a candy corn lip balm. DaisyCakesSoap is a very popular seller on etsy, I have tried her soaps in the past and have been very pleased with the all aspects of this shop.

It is real easy to enter this giveaway and you even have opportunities to enter multiple times. You can find all the details on the DaisyCakes Blog. Check it out and enter, I know I am going to!

Share with your twitter follows and feel free to give a retweet!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Fall Giveaway: Winner chosen

I have finished my first blog giveaway. I have just notified the winner and am getting it ready to go out asap. Thanks for all who visiting and entered and all the kind words.

I had over 30 entries into my first giveaway (but not my last) and used Random.org to randomly select a winner. I took all entries collected via my mailing list, blog follow, and comments and put them into an excel spread sheet. I then numbered the entries in the order they were received and used Random.org to select the winning number. I did not use email addresses to respect privacy and the numerical system was actually easier.

A big thank you to everyone and I hope you will return to my blog and Etsy shop Midnight Creations. Watch for my first newsletter coming probably November. And watch here for more giveaways, I actually have a Christmas accessory set underway and will post that around Thanksgiving.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Holiday Home Show Getting Ready

If you don't do craft shows like me you may need some ideas on getting all your items ready for display. When getting ready for my show last year this was actually one of the fun parts of the home show process. Being able to see my items displayed in all their color and options really brought my items to life and out of the closet and drawers where they often sit until they are sent out to their new homes.

A few things to consider when getting your items and your home ready for shopping and visitors. Space for displays, area for check out, food, and visiting. Being able to have semi designated areas for each is really helpful when planning your layout.

I devoted an area to display my items I also rearranged furniture for the event specifically to address the above. I used my buffet, dining table, and a full blank wall for display. This was an area that was a little bit tight but completely manageable even with over 40 people at one point. Having separate areas there were places for guests to go and mingle when not browsing.

Consider holiday decorating when planning, I opted to not put the Christmas tree and ALL my holiday decorations up after the show. I did put out a few things to make it festive but kept it to a minimum to cut down on crowding.

I moved all seating to my living room, so guests were not as tempted to sit at the displays, and this freed walking space too. I moved extra lighting into the shopping areas, when colors are important so is lighting. Since I sell purses I need a way to display purses, with the consent of my husband I nailed tacks all over one wall, the tacks really did not leave a big mark and I figured my husband had all winter to repair (which he did not, but that is another subject) actually with my home show approaching I will just use them again. I rounded up baskets, buckets and containers from all around the house for displays, I should add when dumping baskets in use, find a central spot like a laundry basket to dump so re-sorting is easier.

I needed to price my items for a more retail setting, I opted for a blanket pricing on like items, like coin purses, wristlets and some of the accessories this saved me from having to price individually, I had nearly 300 items on display. I did individually price my totes, as those were less and more tricky to do blanket pricing, and if they sold I kept the tag so I would know which items to take out of my etsy shop. I included the name of the item, price and a small sticker that would indicate if a matching accessory was available at the show. Keep the tags for inventory purposes after the show, take at check out.

Food, the most obvious spot for a food spread is in the kitchen, for me this is easy as I have a large kitchen and of course this is where people tend to gather. I had a buffet and bar in this area and it took care of itself.

Sitting and chatting space is important too, though most guests will stand and chat. I had enough seating for about 16 people separate from the shopping and food, and there were at least some people sitting at all times.

Check out, this was super handy to have a completely separate away from everything check out. I have a good size foyer and was able to set up a table, chair for my friend who helped with check out and a chair for the person checking out. Many like the isolated nature of this as they wrote checks and tallied the receipts.

Another item to think about is coats, I live in a cold weather state and in December that means big bulky, long coats. I completely emptied my front hall closet and filled with hangers, however with over 40 attendees this filled quickly. I did not have a back up plan and ended up dumping them in my husbands desk, which also filled quickly. If you have a spare clothing rack, tuck into a room nearby. I have an upstairs but there was NO way I could have handled going up and downstairs to fetch coats, seems silly but think about this too when planning.

Other extras that might help. A list of items available and at what price points. Many have budgets or spending limits, listing items you have available at 10.00, 20.00 and so on will help attendees find what they want. Baskets, if you have handle baskets or buckets available leave these around your items or at the front door so shopper have a place to gather their goodies.

Packaging, if you have items that would benefit from special or gift type packaging stock up now. Cellophane bags, gift bags, tulle, nicely packaged items give the feeling of gift ready and shoppers like things that are fast and easy to give, if you have done some of this it will inspire others to think of their gift lists.

Tailor and prep your items and your home, but thinking about it ahead of time and coming up with a plan makes it easier. I had my show on a Thursday, I rearranged and started setting up on Monday prior, this also gave me a visual for a few days to make adjustments so the day of the show I was ready to go. Feel free to share your ideas or give a retweet to help others who may be thinking about a home show.

Also this is the second in a series, you can see more "home show" ideas on the left under my "labels" tab, Follow me as I will be adding to this feature throughout the fall.

Creative Bloggers: Destination Handmade

Etsy is a big and overwhelming place for new sellers. When I joined there were less resources to get you up an running. Now there are so many tricks and tools it can be a lot to track down and take in when starting.

I was visiting Destination Handmade and she has given a cheat sheet to some of the etsy and off etsy tools all in one handy place. A fun blog to read and visit and with useful info you can put into action, what fun!

Some of the handy tools she offers and describes:
Fee calculator
Poster Sketch
Etsy Wiki
Etsy Hacks
Let's Ets
Google Analytics shop set up

A great listing of tools, links and further explanation are all available here, be sure to check it out I sure you will find this list very valuable and thank you to Destination Handmade Blog for assembling this list.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Most Recent Etsy Purchase: Concord Soap

My most recent purchase was from etsy shop ConcordSoap, I love handmade soap and was excited to give this shop a try. I was tweeting one day, and Concord soap was tweeting too, and a great sale, so I figured this was a great time to give a try to this shop which had already been in my favorites.

I chose 2 bars of soap, Apple Jack and Warm Vanilla Sugar, two of my all time favorite scents and I especially love it when I find in a cold process variety. I also got a tub of natural lip balm, because lets face it I go through a lot a lip balm, sadly because they seem to disappear. I have a rotating stock of lip balms coming in and out of my life depending on where I tuck them, and find them again.

The package arrived very quickly and was fun to open. I don't need a lot of bells and whistles, like many I just like what I ordered as soon as possible. My package was safe and sound and so fun to go through, each bar of soap wrapped nicely in tissue then again in its tulle bag, I knew this as it is shown in the listing. This is the first time I got soaps wrapped in this way and it was quite impressive packaging and would perfect if you were buying handmade soap for a gift.

I also got a tub of natural lip balm, this is one of the best lip balms I have ever gotten on etsy. It is firm, yet rich and creamy going on the lips, it has a natural refreshing scent, and is perfect for daily wear, or throughout the day wear.

In my package was a sample of soap leaves, they are silk leaves dipped in soap they are so cute and would be a perfect addition to a guest bath or gift basket.

ConcordSoap is a shop totally worth checking out if you love cold process soaps, be sure to check out the soaps and all the other goodies available.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Flea Market Craft Finds all for 2 Bucks

I pretty much never go to flea markets, I just don't seem to have the luck I often hear about. Saturday we were out and about and stopped at a shopping village that happen to have a really small flea market. We strolled through almost running as it is easy to bypass a lot, but one lady had been cleaning out her craft room and for 2.00 I got the following items.

6 spools of ribbon
2 new packages of 45 jingle bells
6 mini snowman gift bags
1 bottle of glitter
3 packages of glittery pipe cleaners
20+ Clothespin reindeer
4 packages of tinsel
50 sheets of white tissue paper

Ok, maybe it is not big deal but some of these items are usually on my "need to buy" list so for me it was a fun and exciting find, I had a full grocery bag full of goodies.

I think I may try my luck again when I see a flea market by the side of the road, I know I am super excited about my 2.00 crafty windfall and the seller was happy it was going to be used and tossed away as she was tempted to do.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Painting and a 4 year old

I have a crafty little child, not real surprising as she sees me always doing something. She loves coloring, Play Doh, cutting and gluing and painting. Painting is our latest fun time activity and I found a great way to enjoy this and not spend a fortune.

We started painting at home buying the watercolor trays you get pretty much anywhere with 8-10 colors that you get wet to activate. These are fun and contained but many times we would use most of the color in the first setting and rarely got more then 3-4 uses out of these and at 1.00-2.00 a piece this seemingly inexpensive craft adds up quick.

I am NOT a painter and have virtually no drawing or painting ability so choosing paints was foreign to me. I had some old little bottles of paints from attempts to paint craft items, so we tried those, needless to say the colors were less then inspiring for my 4 year old.

Then I wondered down the paint aisle and found poster paints, and what luck they were on sale for 1.25 for a 16 ounce bottle, a lifetime supply or at least more then one sitting. I thought I would get the primary colors and we could mix up our own colors which would be a great learning tool as well then add a few extras like black, white, brown.

Since I had my little shopper with me she informed me the colors we would be choosing and in the end we decided on 8 colors, for basically 10.00. I bought decent inexpensive brushes and an artist paint palette that I put a dab of paint into each section. For about 15.00 I got what I am guessing many, many months worth of painting fun. I only have the brush to clean and the plastic paint well that we use each time. I still want to get a piece of vinyl that I can put on the table put for now we just spread newspaper.

This has been fun for her and me as we paint and chat about colors, shapes, numbers and letters. It is tough to tell in the end who is the better painter, I personally think hers are better and she is always excited to show them off when finished.

I have saved quite a few and display them on the fridge and hope to do some other crafting with them as well. We did some large one and they will make great wrapping paper for smaller items, or cut them and mount them on card stock to make one of a kind artisan greeting cards. With all the paint and fun we have I am sure more works of art will be on the way!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Table Accents Arrive in Store

I finally did it, did it meaning a few different things. Firstly I have begun to list table linens in my shop, so I did that. Secondly I decided not to list them in a separate shop that I had set up earlier this year for table linens and home accents. For *now* I am pleased with this addition to my shop, and thanks to the new rearrange your shop feature on etsy I felt more comfortable mixing products.

When I first sold handmade items on the internet it was table runners, place mats and quilts, well quilt tops anyway. I sold for about a year pretty steadily on ebay, however I was ready for a change just about the time I discovered etsy in fall 2006. I thought it was a good time to switch focus and start fresh with totes, purses and accessories and left the table behind.

I still sew these items for myself and it is nice to get a break from totes and such so I went back to a few faves and and adding them slowly to my shop. I will list what I have completed which is more napkins, place mats and a few table runners and see how they do, I will determine then how much time I will spend on this part of my shop, but they will probably at least make an appearance from time to time.

I love quilted table linens for the home, a great way to switch up colors, themes, fabrics quickly and easily without re-doing a room. I have dozens of sets of place mats, table pads, and table runners for pretty much every holiday and color combination imaginable. They are fun to create and much quicker then whole quilts, and easier to store and change quickly.

I have also begun destashing fabric by making napkins. It seemed we were going through mountains of paper napkins and this seemed like a great way to use fabric and cut down on the waste of paper napkins. I have an eclectic basket of fabric napkins, and occasionally we are all using matching.

Not to worry, my main focus will be on the totes and accessories as I have a pretty good system in place and a major product switch is not really what I want, just another creative outlet. I will say that making pillow covers is super fun too, I have a few new designs drafted that also will be in my shop, and of course I am pretending I may start a shop just for that as well, sigh... just not enough hours in the day.

Acorn Earrings

Autumn is on the way and in my neighborhood that means acorns are falling and squirrels are busy gathering and burying. I hope to gather a few up before they are all gone for some crafting projects this fall. In the meantime I have been browsing the array of acorn jewelry and earrings on etsy.

Magical Acorns

I don't know that I really have seen acorn earrings before etsy and would like to add a pair or two to my wardrobe. Fabulous bead caps and a variety of beads, colors and finishes make the options nearly endless. I think I viewed 26 pages and found a few faves to admire.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Stitch Up Some Cards

I love fabric but I also love paper, not a big leap really lots of colors, textures, patterns and endless ways to create with it. I have been stitching up some cards for an off line event and thought it would be fun to show them here and a quick tutorial on how I made them.

Scrapbook paper, little pieces are ok
Card stock, for mounting and for card itself
Envelope to go with your card stock
Scissors (for paper only)
Adhesive of your choice, glue dots, double stick tape, glue stickThread colors to match and contrast with papers
Sewing machine
Mylar – used for making quilting templates (optional)
Embellishments (optional) such as buttons, ribbons, brads

I can barely draw so for me it is simple shapes I can sort of do freehand, like birds, mushrooms, trees, owls, simple and bigger shapes so I can use paper to do all the work.

First I drew images, since I can usually only get one good image then use a copier to enlarge or reduce to desired size. If it is an image I will be using a lot I will make it again out of quilter’s template Mylar, this way it can be trace it over and over and have the same size and shape repeatedly.

Trace your shapes onto the back of the scrapbook paper. Doing it this way when you trim your shape the pencil tracings will not show in the finish product in case you don’t get it all cut off when trimming. Remember if you are tracing on the back to flip your template if it is directional.

I used a pre-packaged card and envelope set, the cards measured 4.25 x 5.5, I cut my card stock to ½ smaller then the cards to 4 x 5.25, this way about .25 of an inch showing on all 4 sides.

Mount images to card stock, then off to the sewing machine. I do use my machine, guessing this might not be recommended, I service my machine so often I don’t really worry too much about sewing the occasional paper item. If you have a back up machine, it may be best to use it for this project. Choose matching or contrasting thread depending on project or the threads. Stitch around image(s) usually 2 times all the way around 8-10 stitches per inch. Zig zag stitch manually cranking to add buttons, going back and forth 4-5 times to secure to card stock.

Once image is stitched, embellish if desired and trim with decorative edge scissors. Mount this onto finished card, layering card stock onto your card will not show the stitching on the inside of
the card.

The possibilities really are endless, I made a few Christmas Trees ones as well and embellished with more buttons. I originally saw these as little baby buggies, with buttons for the wheels, with all the papers available you can whip up a bunch in just an evening.

All that is left is to add your personal message and give it to the lucky recipient.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Shop Feature: SoStinkingSweet

It is not hard to understand why so many love handmade soaps, better for your skin, variety, support small business. I have been using handmade soap for probably over 15 years, I often joke that I don't even know where the soap aisle is in the grocery store.

I happened on to this newer soap shop and instantly added it to my faves, SoStinkingSweet, is just so stinking cute. From bright colored soaps and fun shapes and lots of scents you can be sure this is on my list to try. I especially love the soaps that have inserts in them like flowers and this shop has some cuties, I find I give these as gifts and usually find the recipients saying "it is too cute to use", I say why there are always more to try.

This shop uses all natural ingredients and has many vegan products to try as well. Among the colorful shop you will also find solid lotion bars (I need to try these), lip balms, shaving soaps, cupcakes, party packs and sugar scrub soaps.

SoStinkinSweet also has a 5.00 shipping rate so you can stock up on a few treats, I always try to fill the flat rate envelop to get more for your shipping dollar. A fun collection of soaps and bath and beauty products, a favorite shop of mine that will be so sweet to try.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Detroit Zoo Butterfly House

I visited the Detroit Zoo this past week, I actually visit quite often with my four year old. This trip we spent a lot of time in the butterfly house. It was less crowded then during the summer with the older kids back in school.

It is always amazing to me the number of free flying butterflies, and with the early morning sun they were quite active and easy to see. My daughter is always trying to catch them, luckily they were onto her and kept on the move.

I wish I could remember the names of all of them as I did get some great pictures, but for now I will just share the pics. I am really going to try and visit in the winter months to see the green gardens and the joyful butterflies.

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