Posted in Bloggity Blog

Leather Wristlets Galore

Well, I know it’s been a while since I posted here.  My year has been full and creative.  As I wrote before, I decided to add leather to my product line.  It’s been fun, challenging and frustrating all at once.  I guess that’s the world of creativity though.  If you’re not challenged and stretching your abilities, you’re probably bored.  Well, I am certainly not bored.

Last December I got this machine.  A Rex walking foot sewing machine.  It’s a little scary, and CRAZY strong.  My biggest fear is getting a finger in its way.  That would just be oh so horrible.  I’ve bought a few tools to push the last inch of leather through as it’s sewing, just to keep my fingers from getting too close to that needle!

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Since then, I’ve been able to bring a few of my designs to production.  I started with this design, which was my experimental work with the new scary machine.  I like just a little color to keep the black leather from being so predictable.

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Next I progressed into a little bit ‘o bling.  Rivets have become so much more than just fasteners.  Fun fact:  That rivet on the corner of your jeans pocket that serves no purpose?  It’s to prevent wear and tear and keeps the fabric from fraying.  These are the result of me playing with rivets.

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Next I went in a few different directions at once.  I do that from time to time.  I can’t decide which direction to go, so I go in both.  My most popular wristlet is this little wristlet.

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I’ve lost count of how many of these I’ve made.  Many people are carrying this one around.  So, I used that design and made it in simple black leather.

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Next, I made my most favorite wristlet so far.  It’s bold and it’s fun.  It’s also RED.

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So, that’s what I’ve been up to.  If you want to see what’s new and next, keep looking at my shop.  It’s gonna be exciting!

 

 

Posted in Bloggity Blog

FREE Bow Tie Pattern

This is a post that I’ve been planning for a while, but didn’t write, because life.  A few years ago, I added a men’s accessory to my Etsy shop, a pre-tied bow tie.  I noticed that those who wore bowties, were pretty distinct with their styles, and I have an appreciation for unique style.  Like this guy.

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I mean, who wouldn’t like to know him?  He wears a pocket watch around his neck on a chain!  Then there’s Mr. Intense:

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I might be a bit apprehensive about meeting him, but I appreciate his determination.  Also, who doesn’t dresses accordingly to read?

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So, I simply had to do justice to an understated accessory that brings so much to a man’s personality.  It took a bit of research and trial and error, (lots of error) but I finally made a pattern that cut and fit well on many fabrics.

circuittieFor the fabrics, I’ve used cotton, satin, linen and polyester and they all work well.  Really, it’s hard to find a fabric that doesn’t make a great bowtie.

Now, the purists insist on cutting ties on the bias.  I have cut this pattern on the bias and not and it looks great either way.  Since I use interfacing, I found that the weave direction has no bearing on the final look.  This tie can be made with a fat quarter of fabric, if you don’t cut it on the bias.

I use sbrownsquarestietiff sew-in interfacing for the bow itself.  I have found that fusible interfacing on the bow makes the fabric pucker too much with the gathering of fabric in the center.

For the neck piece, I use a very lightweight fusible interfacing, but it’s not necessary.  It’s a personal preference.  I just like to see a crisp structure when I finish a piece.

If your local fabric store doesn’t have the hardware, and mine didn’t, you can find it at Wawak.  Link

So, let’s get down to it shall we?

  • Bow tie pattern – 4 fabric pieces, each 8 in x 3 in
  • Sew in interfacing (I use Pellon 50) – 4 pieces, 8 in x 3 in
  • Center piece – 1.75 in x 3 in (No interfacing)
  • Neck Piece – 2 in x 22 in
  • Lightweight fusible interfacing (Optional) 1 in x 22 in
  1. Trace and cut all the bow tie pieces from the fabric and interfacing using the pattern.
  2. Put fabric together, right sides facing, then interfacing on top and bottom to make a sandwich.
  3. Sew around the edges with 1/4 inch seam leaving the small end open. (yes the small end)
  4. Fuse neck interfacing to half of the neck strap piece (on wrong side) if applicable.
  5. Fold the 3 inch center piece and long neck piece in half lengthwise, right sides facing and sew the long edges of each with 1/4 inch seam.
  6. Personal note: I use pinking shears to trim the ALL the edges after I’ve finished sewing, to cut down on bulk when it’s turned out.
  7. Fun Part! Turning out all the pieces.  Use a safety pin on one end and push it through to turn out the two tubes.  They will be a hot mess when you are done.  It may not be easy, but it’s doable.  Trust me.  I use a wooden dowel to push out the corners of the bow.  Iron those bad boys flat.
  8. Put the two bow pieces together and sew the small ends together to make one long piece.  Then make a Z of the new long piece to form the bow.  The new center seam will line up with the narrower part of the bow pieces.
  9. Gather the center of the bow.  It might take a little work, but try to fold the center in half lengthwise and put the center piece around it.  Pull the center piece tight on the back of the bow.  Use a pin to hold it once you get it tight enough.
  10. Hand stitch the center piece on the back side of the bow (not to the bow).  How finished you want this part to be is up to you.  I put several stitches on the center piece in the back, then trim off some of the excess fabric and make a small fold of what’s left of the fabric and put a few more stitches to hold the fold down.
  11. Neck Strap Time!  Feed one end of the neck strap through one side of the slider piece and down through the other.  Fold over enough to sew in place with your machine (or hand sew if you prefer).bow-tie-hardware_main-1
  12. Loop the loose end of the neck strap through the loop piece, and then back through the slider.  bow-tie-hardware_main-1
  13. You should have formed a loop of fabric that will make the tie adjustable.  Use a safety pin to feed the loose end of strap behind the center piece of the bow.
  14. After you’ve pulled it through, remove the pin, and loop it through the hook piece of the hardware and sew the edge.  bow-tie-hardware_main-1-copy

I’d love to see what you make, so please let me know how you get along with this and share photos!  You can always find me on social media.  Facebook, Twitter, Instagram

Posted in Bloggity Blog

The Crooked Smile Anti-Social Network

I will be the first to admit that I am horrible at using social networking.  Putting myself out into the online world isn’t something that comes natural to me.  It wasn’t until maybe two years ago that I got a smart phone.  It’s not even the latest, greatest one.  It’s one that my husband had that I started using when he upgraded to the latest, greatest one.

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Facebook has been around since 2004.  I joined after I opened an Etsy shop, which was in 2010.  I probably wouldn’t have joined at all except a personal page is a requirement for a business page.  If you have been so gracious as to follow me on Facebook, you will understand when I say I am no good at this online presence stuff.  My Instagram account is also in a sad state.  My sister and husband suggested I use Snapchat, but I can’t for the life of me figure out how to use the app.  The only site I probably use with any consistency is Twitter, and I’ve heard it’s not so relevant any more.  Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t.  There are so many other sites like Pinterest, Periscope, and I’m sure others that I’ve never even heard of.

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All of this is to tell you just how miserable I really am at using social media.  I just do not remember to photo, catalogue and share what I’m up to each day.  Really, I don’t remember to do it once a week.  I didn’t go through my teens with a phone in my pocket and a camera pointing at every moment of my day.  I am no more proficient at taking a selfie than I am at speaking Swahili.  It’s just not natural to me and I never have the thought to capture and share things until it’s completely over.  Then I have the thought, “Oh, that would have been something to share…”  Yeah.  I’m guess I’m slow like that.

It all seems to be a bit overwhelming from a business perspective.  Those in the know will tell you to set up a schedule and use software to share and post automatically for you.  It should have a curated theme and composition well thought through and projected a week in advance.

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Me too kid, me too

Ugh.  Will I ever be good at using social networking?  I don’t know.  I hope so.  All I can say is, I will certainly try.  If you do follow me online, I thank you, and appreciate your patience.

 

Posted in Bloggity Blog

Crooked Smile Creations for Lyfe

If you’ve been in and around the handmade world for long enough, and ventured to learn some of the behind the scenes details, you will hear LOTS of ideas being thrown around.  Some are good(ish) and others, not so muchoffice-620817_1920.  As I wrote in a previous post, you have to do what is best for your own business, life, and mind.  One of the areas that seems to be a big deal, is branding.  Branding is how your business is known, from the name of your shop, all the way to the colors, packaging, and ‘feel’ of your business, and that’s before your product is even considered.

You’ll understand what I mean if you consider how you feel walking into a Starbucks, or Home Depot.  If you feel fresh, young, hip and popular when you walk into a Starbucks, then you have been influenced by their branding.  If you were to go back in time and ask someone in the 1960’s to pay $4.00 for a cup of coffee at Starbucks, they would have laughed at you, and asked, “What’s a Starbucks?”  The business and brand have been meticulously developed and marketed for their targeted customer.

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When I began this little handmade journey, the first challenge I had was the business name.  Naming a business is like naming your child.  So many questions and considerations pop into your mind.  The idea came to me late at night, as most of my ideas tend to do.  I wanted it to reflect me, and I knew that the name, Crooked Smile Creations, was it.

grin-303704_1280For whatever reason, my smile, and I suppose my whole face is a bit lopsided.  Some have been so gracious as to point it out to me it in my life and I was always self-conscious of it in my younger years.  Now, I’m a bit older, a tad wiser, and considerably more apathetic to people’s opinions of me.  In short, it doesn’t bother me.

So, what better name could there be?  The very thing that induced such horror in me is now going before me to broadcast the products I’ve designed and made with my own two hands (and make a little money if possible).  It’s perfect, and I think it’s just grand.

Why explain this now?  Well, it’s a New(ish) Year, and I am doing some branding changes.  Oh, I’m not changing the name.  Oh Heck No.  I’m simply redesigning my signage.

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My crooked smile is as much a part of me as my own breath, and will be for all my days.

Posted in Bloggity Blog

Rabbit Hole, 2017 Edition

So, remember me?  I’m like a long lost friend you run into on the street every few years, and wonder where she’s been.  Well, I’m always here, but I’m not great at blogging.  I really wish I were, but I’m pretty undisciplined when it comes to writing down my thoughts.

Anyway, here we are at 2017.  Some people reflect on the previous year and plan, schedule and set goals to outdo or undo what was done in the previous year.  That’s not me.  I’m not really into the past, but I do understand the need for reflection.  I really don’t schedule or set goals for each month or have a list of what I want to do in these 12 months.  Truth be told, I don’t know what to eat for lunch from day to day.

I’m pretty ok with it considering in my leisurely schedule of soft pursuits, I came up with the design of my popular keychain wallets.  Let’s call that a non-scheduled win.

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I did set some soft goals over the past year.  For instance, I have wanted for a long time to use leather in my bags and have dabbled a bit over the past year to do that.  I started incorporating suede into my wristlets and came up with this little bag which was quite popular over the Christmas shopping season.

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Sueeeede!

I even bought a stronger sewing machine.  This beast.

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It sews leather ‘ok’ but not great.  I have to keep trying to get it to work for me, using walking feet, teflon presser feet, stronger thread, etc.  When it comes down to it, it simply doesn’t do what I want.  So, I have looked for a walking foot machine off and on only to see the scary priced tags that make it prohibitive.

Well, fast forward to current day and feast your eyes on this lil gizmo.

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Holy Hannah!  It’s a walking foot semi-industrial sewing machine.  It’s the first walking foot machine I have bought.  It is a little scary.  I may lose a finger.  Or my eyesight.  There’s no lights on this bad boy.  Apparently lights are for sissies.

So.  Here we are.  2017.  A whole new twelve months worth of possibilities.  Let’s see where we end up, shall we?

Posted in Bloggity Blog

Summer Time

 

Ah, summer time.  The time when Floridians enjoy their air conditioning the most.  Not my favorite season any more.  If you live north of the heat drenched south, I’m sure you’re enjoying your long sunny days and mild evenings with lightening bugs (or fireflies, depending on where you live).  I’m enjoying the daily thunderstorms and mosquitos.

This is the time of year I lock myself in my sewing room and dream of winter.  (I’m not kidding)  So, the fruit of my labor is more bags!  I have finally gotten a few bags back in stock that had sold out, like this khaki and blue suede wristlet.

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I’ve also expanded on this design a bit and made it in a different color palette.

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I’m also happy to say that I am now a part of the Handmade on Amazon sellers.  I am so so excited about this.  Don’t get me wrong, I started on Etsy and still enjoy that platform, but I think Amazon has so much more potential.

So, think of me down here in Florida while you enjoy your summer fun.  I’ll be huddled around my sewing machines while I listen to the hum of my a/c.

 

Posted in Bloggity Blog

Best Little Keychain Wallet

I have a bit of a confession to make.  I can’t get enough fabric.  I’m sure others can relate to this.  Many quilters have a ‘stash’ that feeds their quilting hobby.  Personally, I don’t quilt, but I do share their love of fabric.  I don’t really know why, or when it all started, but long before I even started sewing, I truly enjoyed all things textile.  When I go into a fabric store, or look at online fabric houses, my mind simply races with ideas of what I can make.  Then, my sensible midwest mind kicks in, and I realize that the only way those projects are going to get done, is if I do them, and just when exactly is all that going to happen?

Thanks logical side of my brain, keep me from becoming a hoarder.

fabric-637785_640I believe this mild fabric obsession is the reason I have a wide variety of items in my Etsy shop.  Many creative entrepreneurs have items that they make over and over and over.  I have secretly envied that approach to business.  It makes their manufacturing, listing and optimization much easier, I am finding out.  However, after much thought, I am really getting comfortable with the fact that I just can’t follow that model.  I like change.  Too much.  I like color, texture, variety.  Will my product line ever become a static line of bags and wallets?  I don’t know.  Maybe I’ll evolve into that at some point.  Maybe I never will.

For the time beinIMG_1041g, though, I like variety.  If you look at my shop, you find most of my products are one of a kind items.  Some things, I will make more than one, but the majority are one of a kind items.  One of my favorite product lines is my keychain wallets.

I worked on this design off and on for a few years, until it was perfect.  It is a great wallet for anyone on the go.  Whether you put it in your pocket, or your larger bag, it is the perfect size for simplistic style.

If you frequent sports stadiums or soccer pitches with the kids, you know that you are limited on what you can, or really want, to carry with you.  In the midst of all the fun and festivities, you need to keep your cards, cash and keys close at hand.

IMG_1036These are also the best little wallets for running around the city when you need to keep a minimalist style.  It’s perfect for holding your metro card, your ID, credit cards and keys.  Its slim design keeps them securely in your pocket while you are out and about.

Since each wallet is unique, there is a limited number available in each fabric, once they are gone, that is it.

I have made and shipped these wallets all over the world.  They are popular with college students, city gals, soccer moms, and teachers.

Here are some of the reviews (All faces and names of customers are confidential):

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These wallets are loved by many, which makes me extremely happy, because I love making them.

Everything in my shop is ready to ship right away.  Once you order a wallet, it is on its way to you within 24 hours from when you place your order because I know how it is to stalk the mail carrier anticipating deliveries.

 

 

Since there are limited quantities of each wallet, order the one you love soon.  I would hate for you to see this:

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