Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Foyer Makeover Before and After

Here it is my completed foyer makeover.  Our new focal or statement piece the large buffet that we remade this last March, from a piece we got at a consignment shop for 55.00.  We spent about 60.00 on supplies and hardware to finish the piece, purchased a few accessories and framed a piece of art made buy our daughter, it is a huge improvement of the prior space.

The color is a teal blue from Behr, we actually were able to paint the entire thing with the 3.00 sample from The Home Depot. New hardware and some color detail in the flower motifs on the drawers.

We sanded the heck out of this, and washed in thouroughly, the painting was done inside, using a dry brush technique, where we put on the paint then removed some by brushing with long strokes with a dry brush, this allowed some of wood beneath to shine through.

Below is the piece as we purchased it, dark and huge brass hardware, our piece completed and then my inspiration piece.  Admittedly I am still looking for the perfect bust for our room, it has actually been a running joke...I know one is out there that will look great.

So the before and after pics, ok, the first before picture, this area is a complete mess, honestly most days it was a bit neater, well a few days a week it was anyway.  Our foyer is large and really is a huge dumping ground for pretty much everything.

Entry into our home, much nicer and neater now, and honestly people really seem to like the piece and are quite impressed with our accomplishment.  The buffet holds a lot, in the center we each get a drawer to stash stuff, like mail, keys, phone, library books.  The left side holds a lot of my crafting books from the shelf that used to be here, and on the right my MOST favorite part a large rubber bin to hold shoes, they are no longer strewn all across the foyer, honestly THIS is the best part.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Square Up Credit Card Processing

I can check another item off my New Years Resolution list, I can now accept credit cards at shows, or anywhere with my new Square Credit Card Reader.  Above is the box you can literally find just about anywhere, it is free to get started.  I got my reader at Radio Shack but have seen them at Best Buy, Target and Wal Mart.  You sign up online and you are ready to take charges anywhere, anytime.

With this can my newest toy The New Ipad (add swooning here).  This combo has really taken my show experience to a new level, the words "why didn't I do this sooner" have passed through my head many times.  Though I do remind myself it was a building and learning process to get to this point, so while I am not disappointed I had waited, really I could have and should have done this about a year ago. 

Why I waited and what I learned.  I waited because I did not have a smartphone, and I really did not want the expense of a 50.00 monthly data plan, plain and simple this is why I do not and did not have or want a smart phone.  Oh I was all set to get one last July but the realization of cable, DH smart phone and one for me just seem like an unnecessary expense.  So I watched my husband use his smart phone for a year and realized it really was the right decision for me to not have one, but I wanted a tablet of some kind.  I also wanted to process credit cards via this method, swipe and go.

As I got ready for a large show in the summer the final decision was that I would take my husbands phone and process that way.  That was about the time Verizon (our provider) introduced the new share everything plan and I could add a tablet to the plan for 10.00 a month, the decision became easy and obvious.  My husband was worried about battery life at the show, days were 10-12 hours and he thought no way his phone would hold out.  Since I had been wanting a tablet since the begin of the year, getting and adding an Ipad to our plan was the way I went.

I opted for the 4G/wi fi model, above is the first screen you will get when you log into your square app, which you will need to download to your device.  The second pic is Ipad with card reader in the head set jack. As you see in the left picture this would be where you could key in your total, I have tax added to mine, that is something you can set up as needed.  I still hand wrote all my receipts, even when a customer used cc.  I however entered my entire inventory into the square with my "stock photos". 

Here is a "page" of my inventory,  I had about 4 pages of stock sorted alphabetically, you could sort by a category but for me this worked best.  Also I was able to add options to items, on the top you see my carabiner coin purse, I did not need to add 3 separate items, but could differentiate between size/price.  If I hit carabiner, this window with 3 options pops up, just tap the one needed.

When you have added all your items you are ready to process, on top you can see items entered and tax calculated along with a total.  Swipe your card, when the card reader is first attached you will see the black reader box, this minimizes to below the white box, you will know it is correctly connected.  After card is swiped a box will pop up for customer signature.  They can use their finger though I had a stylus which I think worked better.

After signature a completed screen will appear, you will be given the option to enter an email or phone number for email or text receipts.  This info will not be saved for you, it is kept private for the buyer.

For my show I put up signs on every wall in my booth as well as on the outside so people looking in could see I could process credit cards.  I will say about 1/3 of my sales (in dollars) were credit card.  

Friday, August 10, 2012

Custom Order August 2012

Goldfish in bags over the shoulder tote bag.  Orange polka dot accent on top, pieced handle in blues and oranges.  Bags are lined in watery light blue, handle piecing will vary to each bag, though fabrics are pretty much the same.  Enjoy!

Woodland Friends coin purse, lined inside orange.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Plymouth Art in The Park Show

I have officially finished my first multi-day outdoor show.  I am sharing a few pics of my time at this show and of course a few thoughts. This is a huge show, in Michigan I think it is the second largest, second to The Ann Arbor Art Fair which is this week. 

My serious prep for this show can mid April when I learned I got into the show.  I had at that time between etsy and my stock I use for off line about 450 items made.  My first step was making a dream list of inventory, where I listed my entire line and how much I hoped to take.  This went through many changes and became my sewing list.  My final number of items I was aiming to make was around 1200 items, with a value just under 15K.  I kept an excel spreadsheet of inventory, supplies needed and random comments.  This spreadsheet was a tool I used pretty much all day everyday getting ready, and really kept me on track for sewing.  Yes, I finished my goal of 1200 items made, actually I think 1187 but we can call it 1200 I may have missed a few along the way.

For this show I also had to invest in some additional displays, I hope to do 2-4 outdoor shows a year, so these purchases were inevitable, for other displays I used things from around the house.  I bought weights for my tent and 4 additional grid walls, a metal shelf for on my table and more hardware for the grid walls.  As for display items for future shows I am pretty well set, though I am contemplating replacing 4 of my older grid walls for newer ones, the new ones were MUCH lighter.

For set up, it was the night before starting at 8:30 pm and went to midnight, you might think setting up at midnight would be my thank you.  Luckily we had some friends help and were finished with the tent, gridwalls, tables and other small display items in about an hour.  

The hard-work, or the long time consuming part of the task was putting up for display 1200 items.  When you have three months of neatly organizing and counting them it seems this would be an easy task to display them.  It took myself and my friend and her husband about 2.5 hours.  This was definitely an area where I learned something for future shows.

This shows the table that had the most on it, and this was also the table that saw the most action.  On the left is a metal shelf that I got just before the show, it gave me some much needed height and dimension and my kanzashi clutches looked great on it.  This shelf is better used for items that can sit on their own, rather then being in a basket as the shelf part had lots of gaps.  I also used the grid walls, that came back from the front "end cap", on this I had a shelf on the right and used hooks to display carabiner coin purses.  Also in this view is my picture frame kanzashi display which I showed in this prior blog post.  Baskets and trays display other items, I used a home made riser for an item which was simply a box wrapped in pretty gift wrap. I hope to add a few more pics as I still sort things out...and find one of the cameras. 

As for the show itself, I had a great time and it was a great experience...would I do this show again...not sure?  Though to be honest I am not sure I would ever do another 3 day show, especially when that show goes into a 4th day for set up.  I learned a lot about doing big shows and know for sure I could improve upon my prep, set up and tear down.  I have applied to a 2 day show in September, though a little reluctant fresh out of this show as the amount of work is still lingering, but I figure after 2 months I will be ready to go again.

Good news is I have lots of completed inventory to stock etsy, Yellow Door and a good jump start on holiday shows I already have planned.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Corn on The Cob Side Dish

Loving this new idea for corn on the cob, well in this instance it is off the cob.  This is a good combination of ingredients with the abundant summer corn.  You can also vary it to taste.

Cut corn off the cob.  In a skillet lightly saute diced onions in butter, I was sort of generous with the butter as you will want it to coat the corn.  Once onions are translucent add corn, continue to saute, season with parsley, I used about 1tsp per 2 ears of corn.  Cook until corn is tender, or cooked through, season with salt and pepper to taste.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Picture Frame Display

I am always on the lookout for display ideas that go up.  I have recently added Kanzashi and yo yo brooches to my line and these were my inspiration. 

I recently got a perfect picture frame at a yard sale for $4.00 and this was a perfect size to try my idea, and with little cost.  I had thought I might add a plate stand to help prop it up but that did not work for my frame, then it occurred to me to try an artist easel, and recalling I had seen table versions.
This is the tabletop easel I opted for, it has support bars on the top which I can move to properly support my picture frame.
My picture frame had a double matted print, I just flipped it over, this sturdy cardboard was enough body to hold in these little nails, they are poking out the back, I need to put something behind to help, for now I will just be careful.  I also painted the cardboard with an acrylic paint.  My original idea was to get a piece of 3/8 inch plywood or similar to put in the frame, I got lucky it worked as is.

I was able to get 30 brooches display, these are hung on business cards, I put a gold charger underneath to hold additional ones as well.

My total cost for my display was:
$4.00 yard sale frame
$9.00 Tabletop easel with coupon from Michaels
.59 cents acrylic paint.

Such a deal, and a great way to take a display UP!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Summer Vacation and Blogging How I Miss Thee

Ok, maybe a little dramatic lots of activity for me, none of which is blogging.  Summer vacation has started and four days in I have the feeling I am not the master of my destiny...well time anyway.  This combined with getting ready for Plymouth Art In The Park has kept me busy and away from blogging, though I think about it and have some ideas I just cannot find the time to put down.

Really Plymouth prep has me completely consumed...well it has, I finally feel as though I have enough stock to take having JUST this week reached 1000, yes that is ONE THOUSAND items made.  I will note I still have the stuff I am not fond of making still to do, like large totes so really some of these loose ends like the totes, list takers, e-readers and crayon rolls still to come. 

Tomorrow is the annual neighbor hood garage sale which I am reluctantly doing - again giving away more time, since it is mainly me doing all the work.  I am however going to use this opportunity to set up the tent and play around with displays and finalize my layout and get ready to make a few that is sort of keeping me going, though the thought of un-storing and dragging out a thousand items seems challenging in the 90 degree heat we have been having in Michigan.

Anyway I am around but not blogging and thought while I am at it share some lovely treasury features.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Kids in the Sewing (Craft) Room

We are nearing the end of the school year and if you're like me this means little ones in the sewing room at least sometimes.  It will be inevitable I will have to sew with my soon to be first grader hanging out with me, I do however have some item that help to occupy her and let her be content and creative.

I thought I might offer some ideas to help when our little helpers want  Firstly I should add I have a large table in which she can have a designated spot to sit, so that is a huge plus.  A small stool and some newspaper or craft paper is good for more messy crafts, though I try to stay away from those.
This first idea is an sort of educational one, we have actually been doing this activity for years.  It can be done a few ways, this is how I do this.  I also assume if you are a crafter you may have some of these items on hand.  This is to help with vocabulary, spelling and reading.

What you will need.
  • Alpha beads or scrabble tiles, or we have a game called "Upwords" which has large plastic letter tiles.  If you don't have these you could easily print some up.  I would include the entire alphabet and extras of common letters, this way sorting and choosing will be more of a challenge.
  • Flash cards, again, if you don't have any you can make some, I did this first with "sight words" for a good list this website has some ideas.  Flash cards are easy to find in most stores, or print some of your own.  

Choose or let your child choose a word and then from their beads/tiles spell out the word.  Have them sound it out, or use it in a sentence for them.  Pretty simple, and mine enjoyed the challenge of doing it herself.  We often ran out of beads or tiles before she was done, she liked to see them all lined up.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Yellow Door Revamping My Space

It has been about 18 months since I signed onto and Yellow Door Art Market opened, I decided with the renewing of my lease in April it was time for a change.  I finally got a chance to go and  revamp my space.

As a recap, I rent a 9 foot by 9 foot space, it is a full retail shop open seven days a week, I display and stock my space as needed, it has been a great experience and a great expansion to my handmade business.

I have repainted from green to yellow, the color pallette is the same for all the spaces, we can paint any of the designated colors.  I am reducing the number of purse waterfalls from 4 to 5 to allow some other product changes.  I will also be taking in and taking back some furniture for displays.

Today I removed the wristlet wall and the purse waterfalls and painted, I did sort of get 2 coats so hopefully I won't have to fully paint again, touch up and patching holes is my next task, hopefully Tuesday.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Mass Producing The Handmade Way: Why Size Matters

 Stock overflowing out of drawers and into bins

I am in SERIOUS production mode, I am getting ready for my biggest show EVER.  Mid July will be the Plymouth Art in The Park, the estimated attendance is about 300,000 - yes, I meant to type all those zeros.  In anticipation of this I am trying to have ready to go about 1000 items, I have just over 700 DONE, and about 2 months to go.

I have made a list of my current line along with my "wish list" inventory, here I record what is made and supplies needed and any notes that help in planning.  I also have outlined timing for packaging and finishing touches, like buttons, zip pulls, tagging, etc.  I have been plotting these into my calendar to keep on track.

It is very typical for me to make those items which are fast, easy and fun first and most, therefore I have many more of these items done.  I still have other outlets to stock so I can keep making these but this week I needed to focus on the more detailed oriented items this week it's kanzashi coin purses, 8 patch wristlets, pieced shoulder bags and snap clutches.

An example of how I work in common size, my coin purse, and wristlet are the same "height" this height is also the same size as the length of my mini coin purse.  Cutting items like linings and interfacings reduce the amount of waste if their size is common.

I have posted many times my stockpiling of common components and this allows me to make lots of items quickly of these components such as coin purses (all sizes) wristlets and totes, these are my best sellers so it makes sense for me to keep many dozen in progress at all times.

However it has dawned on me again the importance and gained efficiency of working in common size.  I am working on the kanzashi coin purses, and I am working with 3-5 sizes of basically the same item, it is becoming a big time suck custom cutting a few at a time, but to this I am always re-measuring what is done to properly line up linings and zippers. 

Originally I used common sized items because of shipping supplies, since I was firstly only selling online.  Using less types of envelopes and boxes ultimately makes buying and storing less sizes more cost efficient, often I have discontinued items based solely on my ability to ship.

This is also applied to supplies, for example zippers, I only buy 2 sizes, and I buy my most common colors in lots of 100, and other lesser used quantities in lots of 12-36.

For most my items common size is the way to go, for one of a kind items or special fussy cut items I try to work on those in my more leisure sewing and not full production mode.  Hmmm, I think that could be another blog subject.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Bevy of Bookmarks all from Scraps

Yay!  That is my first thought at all these projects that use up scraps.  I save just about everything, and times when I don't save an odd and end I often regret it, I am going to refer to these moments as "never say never crafting supplies".

These bookmarks are made up of three elements of which I have been hanging onto for a long time.  Skinny fabric pieces, skinny interfacing pieces and small bits of ribbon.  Some fabrics are just too cute to throw away no matter how small, I already have quite a few items I offer from scraps, like mirrors, paperclip bookmarks, magnets, hair accessories, coasters...and more.  Now these bookmarks will be offered at some of my upcoming offline events.

This collection of fabric started simply by a leftover and thinking it looks just like a bookmark, the same thing happened with skinny interfacing leftovers too...hmm, fabric for cute and interfacing for body.  I have done these in another post a much more involved type of bookmark here, but I wanted fast and simple, so I cut down the steps and made about 40 of these in a few short hours.

I trimmed the fabric and interfacing to more or less the same size, thought this is not a requirement.  I did work in a common size for most about 2.5 inches wide by 9 inches tall, again it can be any size.  I did try to have the interfacing which will provide the stability to be about the same size.

My interfacing is medium or heavy weight fusible, so I first fuse to the back side of my fabric, layer with a backing fabric and trim the top with pinking blade or sheers.  Pin together to keep the pinked edge lined up.  This will be the top and where you will put the ribbon tab.  Again mainly relying on scrap ribbon using 11-12 inch piece loop and put edges inside the top of the book mark, inside about 1/2 inch.

These will be raw edged, so your layering would be right side up (interfacing should be sewn on) then your backing fabric should be right side down.

I did my start and stop stitch at the point where the ribbon is in the bookmark, and sew around the rectangle back to the start. I used about 1/4 inch seam, this can vary as needed or as you like.

Trim around all 4 edges with pinking blade or shears to cut down on raveling.

Behold this lovely pile of scraps is now a lovely pile of bookmarks, awaiting being stuck in a book.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Flint Handmade Wrap Up and A Tip

 May 5th was the Flint Handmade Spring Show, I had a great show and a great time.  Also got some pictures done by a local photographer, they turned out great, so I have a few for show and tell.

Also a picture of my own, this is a nifty trick I had not really seen or not really thought of doing.  I had done the week prior the Craft Circus in Ypsilanti and a few of the vendors did this.  It came at the perfect time as I have been wanting/needing to add height to my table and displays.  The idea is to use bed risers under your table, so a trip to Bed Bath and Beyond I got some for myself, I actually plan to get a second set.


Here is my table with the risers, this did leave my tablecloths not perfect they do cover but I had to pin to hide a gap.  This show was also the reminder that there is a huge difference in an 8 foot table vs. a 6 foot table.
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