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.

 

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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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Posted in Bloggity Blog

Etsy success, or not

Warning, this post is a bit of a rant.

I have been on Etsy since 2010.  I don’t sell a lot, and do not kid myself that I am the next greatest viral thing out there.  I know that is not my reality.  I simply enjoy making and selling handmade items.  Thinking about someone trusting me to have a product that they would purchase is humbling and exciting at the same time.pocketwallet

Anyone who has been around the handmade world that Etsy championed, knows that it is fraught with issues, and has become more complicated over the years.  In spite of that, many sell their items regularly and consistently.  I am not one of those people.  I truly wish I were.

This year, with all the changes that Etsy has put in place, my shop, which was merely the tiniest star in their universe has dimmed significantly.  Views and sales are nonexistent.  Like so many others, I have given so much time and thought to what I could possibly be doing so wrong that the little success I had with my shop went to zero.  When your heart and soul is bound in this little corner of the internet, you want it to be received well and not ignored.  Believe me when I say that failure is exhausting.

I searched the internet over looking for advice, forums, help, insight, anything, that I am sure to be missing.  Surely there is some explanation for my failure that my little brain is incapable of understanding.

What did I find?  Lots.  So much information in fact that I am on information overload.  Some advise to get off Etsy and start your own website.  Others say to send out emails to subscriber lists to get sales.  The vast majority of advisers are telling you what worked for them.  Every single one of them has a story, which is their path to success.  It isn’t necessarily good advice.

What I’ve come to understand is that those who write advice blogs are making their success at writing the blogs and selling their knowledge, not their handmade items.  One advisor talks about making $100k in the first four months of the year.  I’m happy for her, but she didn’t do it selling on Etsy.  She did it selling her advice, knowledge and coaching services.  Her knowledge is great, I’m not denying that, but trying to use it as an example of what can be done in the crafty world isn’t accurate.  I actually find it deceiving.

To say it another way, Cindy Crawford, was the face of a generation and made her career in the modeling world.  She was wildly successful.  If you were to see her now, she would still look amazingly good.  If she were to create a skin care line and sell it to you, you might consider buying it based on how she looks and her success as a model, and you might like the product.  Would you look like her and have her skin?  No.  She has genetics on her side.

Similarly, those selling knowledge of how they succeeded on Etsy, doesn’t lead you to success.

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So, I say to you, Buyer Beware.  I don’t have the knowledge of what is right or wrong when it comes to being an entrepreneurial success in the handmade world.  If I did, I would give it to you, for free.  What I do know, is that catchy blog titles and well worded statements that only lead you to another hyperlink, is not the answer.  If I ever found an honest forthcoming blog or advisor who was truly interested in helping me succeed, and not directing me to click around their sight, I’d be extremely happy.

Posted in Ideas

Designing Fabric

When you start down the path of crafty entrepreneurialism, you never really know what you may have to do to succeed.  I took a business personality test and was told that I am an explorer.  I’m not sure how accurate those things are, or what that means for being an entrepreneur, but that’s ok.  I have indeed always been one to try different challenges, so maybe there is something to it.

business woman at work on computer showing thumbsup sign clipartBeing the sole person in a creative business, you wear many different hats.  Since I opened shop in 2010, I have been involved in a never ending tutorial of online business learning.  I have been pushed to improve my copywriting, photography, business logistics, pricing and procurement, manufacturing, law, taxes, and that’s all before breakfast! (just kidding)

One area that I’ve dipped my toe into recently has been fabric design.  Really, the only ideas I had about fabric was what I wanted for particular projects.  As someone who can get specific about how a project needs to look, I know the frustration of not finding exactly what you want.  So, like so many other things, I thought, “How can I make this?”

That’s when I got familiar with Spoonflower.  After designing some patterns for my own needs, I saw how easy their website is for beginners, and started to dabbled a bit more with graphic design.

Coming from a technical background, using design software didn’t bother me much.  There was, and still is, a learning curve of seeing what the software can do, but with YouTube, you can teach yourself a lot.  The software I chose to use is Inkscape, which is free, and pretty robust.  If you are interested in reading about a few other suggestions, you could try a few of the links in this Spoonflower blog post.

The very first pattern I made for ‘public consumption’ was this umbrella pattern.  I was really into color and wanted to make something fun while I was learning the technical ins and outs of it all.

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I’ve since made a few more patterns.

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One of the fun aspects about Spoonflower is their design challenge.  One of their challenges, specified a color palette to use. I believe the colors were, cucumber, mellon and peach.  The RGBA was given in their instructions.  These are the three patterns I submitted.

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I didn’t win the challenge, but I was quite happy to be a part of it, and have a little acknowledgement of my designs.

If you’ve ever thought about designing patterns for fabric, or just want to try your hand at graphic design, I encourage you to do so.  It can be quite fun, and the possibilities are endless.  Plus, you can offer them for sale on Spoonflower.  My shop is here.  If you are unsure about how it all works, I’m happy to share the knowledge I’ve acquired so far.

Happy Designing!

Posted in Tutorials

DIY Handbag Tutorials

Last week, I posted a basic picture tutorial detailing how to make a zippered pouch.  Hopefully many find it easy to follow and can use it as a stepping stone to make your own accessories, if you are new to sewing.  IMG_5034

I have been making bags for several years.  I have made many different styles and shipped them all over the world.  One of my more popular ones is my crossbody bag.  Some refer to the style as a messenger bag, but since mine is on a smaller scale, I use crossbody.

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Over the years, I have used many different fabric combinations to make this bag.  Since I am a fiend for fabrics, I enjoy putting together different combinations.

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I actually have one more bag in this style left in my Etsy shop.  It is the sole survivor of this long line of bags.

Like many who sell handmade items, the challenge of space and inventory on the business side of selling, can make it difficult to keep this line in production, even though I really, really like this bag.

So, instead of stocking inventory of this adorable bag, I have included it in my handbag pattern offerings on my website.  It is written in a similar style to the tutorial that I posted here, but with more graphics to lead you through each step.  You can download it and have fun making your very own bag.

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I know there are so many others who are as into fabrics as I am.  If you make this bag, please share your photos with me.  I’d love to see what you make!  You can find me on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram!

Happy Sewing

 

Posted in Tutorials

Free Beginner’s Tutorial – How to Make a Zippered Pouch

One of the most basic of skills needed to start sewing accessories is to know how to make a zippered pouch.  Once you have mastered this basic skill, you can make many accessories just by adding embellishments or changing the size.

This photo tutorial will show you step by step how to make a basic zippered pouch.  It can be used to hold credit cards, money or any pocket sized necessities.  I have several of these in my purse to keep me organized.

Materials you will need:IMG_4975

  • Two 3.5 x 5 inch pieces of fabric for the exterior
  • Two 3.5 x 5 inch pieces of fabric for the interior
  • 1 zipper, 5 inches or longer.

 

Zippers are measured from one end of the teeth to the other end.  The one I used is actually 7 inches.

I am using a 1/4 inch seam on this pouch.

Depending on the fabric you choose, and the stiffness you want in the final pouch, you could opt to use interfacing.  It’s not necessary, but if you are a fan of a stiffer, structured pouch, you could get fusible interfacing, cut some 3 x 5 pieces and iron it to the wrong sides of the fabric pieces.  For my wallets and handbags, I use Pellon 809 interfacing.  It is craft weight and makes the final pouch feel very sturdy, but you could use a lighter weight as well.

First you start with your basic sandwich:

  1. Begin with one of the outside fabric panels facing up.
  2. Place the zipper on the edge of the longer side with the zipper pull facing down towards the fabric.
  3. Put the interior fabric on top with the right sides of the fabric facing each other.
  4. Line the edges up and pin the sandwich together along the top edge.

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You will need to use the zipper presser foot for your sewing machine.  If you are not familiar with the different presser feet for sewing machines, Craftsy has a really nice (and free) online class by Steffani Lincecum, Sewing Machine Feet from A to Z, which I highly recommend.

Sew the edge of the ‘sandwich’ using your zipper presser foot.

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This is how that seam looks:

 

 

 

 

Open up the two pieces completely so the wrong sides are facing and iron flat.

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Now you repeat the same process with the other side of the zipper.

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After you have sewn the other side of the zipper, press everything flat.

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Now that the zipper is in place, time to sew the big U.

  1. Put the two interior pieces together, and the two exterior pieces together right sides facing.
  2. Pin the sides and the end with the exterior pieces to make one big U. (If you have a longer zipper, like I have, make sure the zipper pull is inside the big U.)
  3. Sew along the pinned edge.

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Snip the corner edges off to reduce fabric bulk, and if you are using a longer zipper, like I am, cut the ends of the zipper off.

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Almost done!  Time to turn it out.

Reach in side your pouch and unzip the zipper, then pull the fabric through from the bottom.

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Push all the corners and seams out and iron flat.  The last seam will be to close the interior.  Fold the edge of the raw interior edge, pin and sew.

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Push the lining into the pouch, push the corners down into place and give it one last iron to get all the edges crisp and flat, and you are ready to go!

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So there you have it, a simple zippered pouch.  This basic pattern can be used to make so many accessories, such as a makeup bag, a pencil case, or even an artist’s paint brush pouch.  I use this basic pattern for so many of my accessories.

Happy Sewing!

Posted in Ideas

The Business of Creativity

I’ve been in this business of creativity, as a sole proprietor, officially for a few years now.  I don’t claim to be an expert, by any means.  I enjoy business and I enjoy designing and making products.  The two going hand in hand just made sense to me.  One of the challenges I thought I would have was whether or not I would continue to enjoy the creativity side of it all if it were a ‘job’.  Is it possible to reach burnout on your favorite hobby?  I suppose it is possible, but the enjoyment for the creativity never goes away for me.  That is what I fall back on when stress tries to steal my attention.

IMG_4063There are two avenues to the topic of creative business.  There is the business outlet for the creativity and then the creativity of building the business.  The business of being in business is an entire market unto itself.  The volume of knowledge online for building your business is astounding.  In fact there is so much information that it is overwhelming.  The thing to remember when reading and expanding your own knowledge on business is determining what to take action on and what to put on a shelf.  I usually have no more than two take aways from any article or class I take for my own business.  The rest are stored away for anther time and place, should it ever come.

The best person to make decisions on what is best for your business is you.  Many well meaning people may not have the best ideas for your business.  When I first started out, I asked for critiques and input on how my online presence looked and what could be improved.  Typically if someone didn’t like a particular photo, othersUsed this oneS would think it was amazing.  The same would happen with pretty much every single detail of my business.  After chasing everyone’s ideas and input, I stopped asking for critiques because in the end, it was my business.  The decisions were mine to make.

One of the hardest part of being the sole person in a creative business is self critique.  We critique ourselves very harshly.  If we were to look through the eyes of our greatest fan, we would be amazed at just how awesome we really are.  Pollock and Picasso had their critics, but had many more fans. Trying to make every single thing in our creative endeavors perfect is not only exhausting it isn’t necessary.  Creative businesses are personal.  No doubt.  We want everything to be well received, but no business out there is perfect.  The big businesses I’ve worked with have an acceptable margin of error, and these were banks and pharmaceutical companies.  Talk about the need for perfectionism!

Try to separate the business of your creativity from the joy of your creativity.  They each deserve their own attention, but should never compete.