Sunday, January 29, 2012

Snowy Sunday

We have been somewhat lucky here in Michigan to be having a mild winter (types while knocking on wood). Today we have had a few inches of snow, the kind that sticks to the trees and is quite white and beautiful. The only thing that would make this better if we had a bright blue sky.

This set of tree and bush is right outside my sewing room window so I have a front seat view to this pretty winter day.

You know what they say if you don't like the weather wait five minutes and it will change. This blue sky picture was taken maybe 15 minutes later to this gray overcast pictures above.

I am still rooting for an early spring though!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Mass Producing the Handmade Way

I find the only way I can make and keep up with stocking is to sort of "mass produce" my items. Often this is done in big steps, this is about cutting. I use rotary cutters to pretty much cut everything out, scissors are used for trimming and snipping and some items that have curved edges, though I often rotary cut those as well.

I use primarily two sized rotary blades, 45mm, and 60mm and use two different sized rulers, a 6 x 12 inch and a 6.5 x 24 inch. In tandem and in use with my rotary mat I can efficiently cut all my items. The above pic shows both rulers used to cut an item that is 13 inches wide, using side by side, I can cut easily items up to 18.5, bigger then this I often use the markings on the rotary mat.

In this picture I have cut coin purse interlinings, I simply lay out interfacing to on the entire rotary mat, I cut and my needed size, and sub cut the width. Lucikly I am able to cut from three sides as needed on my table, which allows me to move around the cutting area. It takes a bit of practice to get the most you components to reduce waste.

This picture shows how little waste there is for me when cutting in bulk, this shows linings for totes, and small leftover pieces that go into wristlet handles.

Stacks and stacks of coin purses and such, stacked with their respective sized item. I cut most fabrics individually and often cut all fabric I have, so I have coordinate items ready at all times. Offline I sell items in sets so cutting it at that moment is a time saver, just stack by respective item.

I spent Thursday cutting, literally about 8-10 hours of cutting. During this stage I try to cut as much as possible to prep for ironing (which my husband does, see this post) and sewing. I plan the items to be made from each fabric and work to cut in most case all the fabric I have, if I have something 1/2 yard or less I almost is cut fully into items. Many items are fussy cut, so it needs one on one attention to make it look its best. I have several places and a pretty good system for sorting and stacking.

This is a three shelf bookshelf that I have on one end of my sewing table, I stack items here to keep somewhat organized.

This is stacks of a "new" item I am working on (post to be coming soon) on an ereader cover. This has been a bit of a challenge to get a good size, so I have actually cut a few times this item. As this is a new item and this takes 3 different sizes of interlining, I have had to label these as they are easy to confuse with other items. Cutting multiples allows me to do many at once without shifting gears, clearing space or tracking down a component during sewing.

These are tote linings that are awaiting their bags, this used to be a much more labor intensive task, thanks to my industrial sewing machine these are so much easier and kind of fun to make now. Work in like color both fabric and thread and it is easy to get a lot done in a shorter amount of time. These will be stored until bags and handles are ready. I am now confident enough in my items and all my selling outlets that for some of my totes I make 3-5 at a time. I am also trying to do more solid and more uniformed linings to help speed up production.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Valentines Crafts Revisited

I did a few simple and fun Valentines craft tutorials last year about this time, I thought I'd revisit those posts with pictures and links to the original inspiration. Enjoy!

Above is a Conversation Hearts Valentines Topiary, my 5 year old and I did a few of these, the one above survived I double wrapped it in ziplock bags and kept it in my china cabinet. The link for this can be found here.

Simple goody bags you can use to tie up Valentines treats, add a tag and use as a class room handout, link for this here.

The above is one of my personal faves to make, I have been making these for years. Glassine paper and ribbon make little pouches to hold a variety of candies. Post for this can be found here.

New Team Crafting a Home Party

I took a spin through the forums yesterday and happened onto this discussion looking for a team that focused on selling in a home show format. After a few pages of interesting conversation on a whim I set up a new Etsy team "Crafting a Home Party". Within an hour or so we had about 20 members and a few discussions underway.

While I am the captain there were a few others who volunteered to be leaders and help run the team, this is an open team so everyone is welcome to join. Hopefully this can be an active team sharing ideas and inspiration for hosting home shows.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Monday, January 9, 2012

Skillet Fries

Simple potato recipe when you need a quick side. Wash potatoes, peel or not peel it is up to you, slice I like thinner then 1/4 inch as it reduces cooking time. I also add a few slices of onion, what ever you have on hand, if you don't have onions, dried onions will add a nice flavor.

Add sliced potatoes and onions to pan with butter, spread around the pan and cover, flip potatoes a few times as necessary to get a fried or golden color. Potatoes are done when a little bit crispy and cooked through. You can add butter as necessary or to speed up cooking add a splash of water and cover.

This also makes the pan seasoned for cooking a meat if you wish, I often will push the potatoes to the side, or remove and cook up pork chops or chicken, return potatoes to the pan after meat cooks to reheat and serve.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Photo Editing with Picnik

Just a few quick examples of how you can easily edit and improve pictures. I took these 2 pictures from a shop on etsy, as part of my ideas for some ideas for picture improvments I did these two. I use Picnik a free online photo editor, you simply upload and make the changes, for me I pretty much only use the "exposure" and the "crop" feature. Below are the pictures and respective changes. These lovely items are available in the etsy shop Starality, check these and other great jewelry pieces.

Brightened and cropped so object is closer
Brightened pic, off center cropping

Sewing Room Trash Buckets

Another entry in the "dumb blog posts" world, this time my use of "trash buckets" I have these little galvanized buckets I keep on my sewing table and around my sewing room to help keep things tidy.

I find in general, though this is not the rule the more organized and clean I can be the more productive I can be. Having a spot to toss bits of fabric and threads in arms length keeps me more efficient, yes silly but true.

In addition to the buckets I use constantly I have this little one right next to the sewing machine, it hangs on the wall along with the bar that I use to drape items waiting to be sewn. Not having to move and reach around for a basket on the floor keeps me in the groove of sewing, which makes me more productive.

Friday, January 6, 2012

I am super excited today, I just got in the mail my acceptance letter to a show I applied for that is in February. This was the second time I applied to a juried show, which I find (in a good way) kind of stressful, the validation of being excepted is truly inspiring. Hopefully this will carry over into getting lots ready for the show.

It is put on by Henry Ford II Music Boosters, through Henry Ford HS in Sterling Heights. This is the 12th annual event and is well attended. It is called "Crafters Clearance" and the name should not be deceiving it is a full juried show with many local crafters and artisans.

However that being said the element of a sale is advised for participants. I actually love this idea and having a sort of clearance of some items is very appealing to me, you know out with the old and in with the new. I will be bringing along onesie, twosies of things and will bring along some $10, $12, and $15 totes to share with hopefully eager shoppers.

I submitted a rather large collection of photos to be considered, including about a dozen of my items, works in progress and studio shots. It was a good exercise I am sure to repeat for future shows.

I will also use this to premier a few new designs namely by new ereader, hopefully I will have about a dozen to bring along.

Crafters Clearance
Fine Art & Handcraft Show
Saturday February 11th 2012
10am - 4 pm
Show Website

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Christmas Light Storage for Sewers

I am always emptying bolts of fabric which leave these cardboard "boards" as they are often called by fabric enthusiasts. We took down the Christmas tree and were packing up the lights, oranaments, etc. I had a few emptied boards and my husband smartly wrapped up lights on them, each held 3 sets of 100 lights and tucked perfectly into the storage bins. I thought this was a great use of these sturdy boards which often end up in the recycling bin.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Kanzashi Flowers and New items

I have attempted my first four Kanzashi flowers, two were completed (semi) successfully. The others did not go so well, one is already tossed the other I will share below and one is now on a coin purse.

I got for Christmas "Kanzashi in Bloom" by Diane Gilleland. Overall this is a good book with good descriptions and pictures and a good number of ideas. While I usually have no problems doing new sewing tasks I had a lot of trouble with sewing my petals together, I think the round petal directions are missing some information, I am actually going to see if I can contact the author (she has a very nice website) and ask if I am just missing it totally or if the directions are lacking what I would call a key component.

I finally got one completed this was after viewing several Youtube videos, a few multiple times. For me the trickiest part of this was sewing the petals together and the location of this in relation to all the layers. My fist one did not work based on the directions, the stitch was not going through all layers, the result it fell apart pretty much completely on the back, then the flower as a whole no longer held it shape.

Here was my first attempt, above the petals will not hold their shape in the left view, which is the front, looking at the back all the folds have not been stitched down as they were too far from the sewing line. This is the step I found to be off in the directions, I had to trim back farther to catch the folds in the stitching, the second flower below was more successful.

For the blue flower I also used less petals, only 6 instead of the 8 I originally tried. This also shows the back view with a fabric cover glued down to hide the stitches and also protect the flower petals from coming undone. This is also a good base to add to something, like bag, hairpiece, etc.

I found I had to do more cutting then the book described to get an accurate sewing placement. This then made the flowers smaller then the books described they should be. I think I worked around it and a few tips from the Youtube videos I was able to complete my flowers. I also did a second stitching from the back to help make the flower lay flat.

This is the latest one I did, and the one that ended up on the coin purse. This was a trick I found on Youtube video that had you string the petals directly onto a needle, this way you can also gauge petals are the same size, I did not pin these petals as they went straight to threading.

The supplies are quite basic for simple flowers items most sewers would have on hand, fabric, scissors, thread, needles. I did need to buy a low temp glue gun, I just got a cheapy at Michaels as I have never had a need for a low temp glue gun. I gathered my supplies and happily started ironing and folding, I thought I will be making loads of these in no time. Alas, it was not so simple, but with any new task I think sometimes you have to make some errors to fully understand the process and improve upon that.

Also being a sewer the thought of gluing fabric is not a comfortable one, I imagined I could/would sew these parts, however I think for some of the construction a glue gun will be loads and loads easier, as long as they are durable and can withstand some wear and tear I too will be gluing fabric.

This is my fist completed project I will keep for myself to test the gluing of the white start button and the durability of the flower staying in place. This was constructed entirely of batik scraps, from this pillow set I made a few summers ago, you can see that blog post and pillows here. Hooray for scraps!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

New Fabrics Sneak Peek

I have been busy planning and buying new fabric for the new year and for new items I have planned. Here are a few lovelies that should be in my hands by the end of the week, I shall be stalking the mailbox each day!

This is just a sampling, admittedly I have ordered so much I cannot recall every piece that is coming my way. I often buy focal fabrics online then shop locally for coordinates to complete the look. I hope to hit 4-5 local quilt shops in the next two weeks.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Ah, The New Years Resolution Post

Ok, not really but sort of in a way. Don't we all hope to resolve to do something? Something small, something we were/are trying to do anyway? There are the old stand bys; lose weight, be more organized, keep in touch with others more...I will not bore you with're welcome :)

In the years since I have had my little business I always seem to start out the year with new ideas and visions for where I can take my business in the coming year. That is the joy of this young venture for me there is lots of room to grow, lots more I can do.
  • This year I want to move forward but feel I need to work through some of the old first, so that is my first idea, or hope or resolution to use up supplies and back track through items I have not worked with in awhile. The result, I hope to add a line of pieced and embellished items, this was actually my goal when I first started selling handmade purses and accessories. Items that had a more quilted look, using my love of piecing and saving all sorts of scraps to create one of a kind accessories. To this I really have wanted to do embellishments to add more character to my items. I have done this limited amounts with yo-yo brooches and am going to expand into Kanzashi flowers, a folded fabric art that has endless possibilities.
Yo yo brooch embellishing a small satchel
  • Do more offline, this means shows, I hope to do 8-10 shows in 2012. I have been somewhat proactive having already sent my package off for a show I hope to do in Feburary. I have also tracked down websites of other shows and put into my calendar when applications go live or are due.
  • Blog more, ok maybe just in December, I did none in 2011. I also hope to actually get my mailing list off the ground, and spend more time using Facebook.
  • More organized, as it comes to receipts, expenses I am looking into to aid in this task.
  • To my organization, I also need to track my production, hours spent and items produced more closely. I did this in November and December and was both surprised and happy how this helped and motivated me to do more, be more efficient. I am working on a few spread sheets to help this task.
  • I hope to and feel I will finally need to accept credit cards at shows, with this I am hoping to find a device or tablet that will allow this at point of sale, so researching options.
So that is a few, and looking at it is exciting to have a plan, may not get everything done but it gives me something to aim for.

So, onto my personal crafty goals...sigh these can get long so just a few. First and foremost finish some of the many many works in progress or ufo's-unfinished objects. I have stacks and stacks of quilts pieced to be quilted, quilts halfway through, it is sad that so many things undone for so long. I tried to do this last year and post about it and sadly only 2 entries in the 2011 UFO Completed tab, it will be deleted to not remind me of this defeat.

New things for my family, myself, gifts, etc. When I got out my Christmas Stocking book I was sort of bummed I have not made stockings for my family...really we are still using these dollar store stockings? I actually said this to myself, they were intended to be cheap stand ins while I made us real ones...this is the year 2012 Santa will deliver to handmade stockings. I sort of actually fantasize about doing a stocking challenge for myself like weekly or monthly...we'll see :)

Learn a few new things, I already hinted at my fabric flowers so that is top of my list, I actually had to buy a few items to get started, namely a low-temp glue gun, and a few other glue items. I also asked (and got) some soap making kits for Christmas, I should be able to make about 30 bars of handmade soap. They are simple melt and pour that is about all I feel brave enough to try.

I also have this strong desire to do decoupage fabric, so look for some of those creations for my personal fun, who knows maybe a new item to offer in the future...

Happy 2012 to all, I will hopefully be back to post some of my successes and of course revisions :)
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