Monday, December 28, 2009

On Holiday

Just wanted to let everyone know that I will be breaking from the blogging until Jan. 4. Heading for Phase 2 of Holiday celebrations in Tennessee, and still have handmade gifts to finish. I am a procrastinator to the core.
Looking forward to a fantastic 2010. See you guys next year.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Last minute gift idea

I was going through my Google Reader the other day and came across a tutorial for a rice bag warmer. A rice bag warmer is a fabric bag of rice that you heat in the microwave for a few minutes and then lay the warm bag across your sore neck, head or even slip under your blanket to warm your feet.
My grandmother used to make these when we were younger, and I have been complaining to my husband that I wished I had one for my sore crafter's neck. Then, when I saw it, I knew it would be perfect for my co-worker who is always cold.
So I made two of them. The most beautiful thing was I had almost everything I needed to make them already in my stash. I just had to go out and buy rice.
You can add dried herbs like lavender to the bags, if you want to just increase the awesome.
I was lazy, and stuck to just rice.
I gave it a whirl this afternoon, and placed it under my son's feet. I thought he would really think it was cool, but mostly it just weirded him out.
So I wrapped my coworkers rice bag warmer with two packages of hot chocolate. If her temperature doesn't rise after this gift, then next year I will just have to get her a Snuggie.

Friday, December 18, 2009

O Christmas Tree

We downsized our Christmas tree this year. Living in the tiny apartment really didn't afford a lot of room for a large tree, and after our storage closet was flooded and our tree and many decorations were ruined, I decided to give up the fight and went searching for a tiny tree.
I was able to score one for only $10 - prelit.
I didn't think much about tree downsizing until I saw a link on Indie Fixx today. They too downsized their tree because of space.
It made me wonder who else was downsizing this Christmas.
Once we got the little tree set up, and the decorations on it, it was a little like a Charlie Brown Christmas. We all looked at it, and decided, it really wasn't so bad. We would have had no place to put a big tree in the first place, and my son loves it just the same. I find myself adding a little bit to the decor everyday, to the point, it might topple over.
But it is beautiful, and I'm glad we did it the way we did.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Patience, persistence and a good seam ripper

I told my mother several months ago that being in a recession means that more people will want to start sewing their own clothes. She didn't believe me. She also doesn't read the New York Times.
I came across this article this morning and read it with a smile because I have walked down the same road as the author. When I got my first sewing machine, I also bought a dress pattern. I didn't even bother with the home decor process of wanting to make pillows and dish towels. I wanted fashion damn it! This was before Project Runway, mind you, and I just KNEW I could not only make my own clothes, but make enough one of a kind designs to open my own shop in the very tiny little town of Murray, KY. Looking back, I know that Murray probably wouldn't totally embrace my style, even if I had mastered a self taught "fashion degree" (a lofty aspiration all on it's own). But I loved living in that small town, and hated my job. So I was dreaming big. Actually I was completely delusional.
But I was also persistent. I bought a dress pattern, fabric, thread, and a zipper. My aunt, who was visiting me at the time, chipped in on the cost of my materials because what's family for if not to support your crackpot ideas and then slip out of town before the results are in.
I had a plan. I was going to make my first dress, and I was going to wear it New Years Eve! I was certain it would take no longer than a few hours the Saturday before.
I remember the weekend I laid all the materials out in my living room. I carefully cutting out the pattern pieces out of the thin tissue paper. I pinned pieces to some plain white practice fabric. After I cut all the pattern pieces, I pinned them all together and very carefully slipped on my "practice dress".
It was too tight. Way too tight. The little pins were three inches from even reaching. I had failed to take my own measurements before I started cutting.
That's when I learned a very important lesson. Just because you wear a certain size at the store, doesn't mean you actually are that size in sewing patterns. Now, I might know how to handle that situation. Anything was better than what I actually did do, which was sit in my living room and cry. I never even sewed a stitch.
Now I know better. I have bought several sewing books. I have learned to measure twice and cut once, and I have gained an amazing amount of respect for the people who put together something so many people take for granted - our clothing.
I don't really sew dresses. I have made several quilts, pillows, placemats and other small projects that can get done in a weekend, but clothing construction takes an amount of patience that I have yet to develop. But I am getting closer with every stitch.

Monday, December 14, 2009

A little press goes a long way

I am so excited. The store when I have been consigning my holiday ornaments has gotten a little local press. Street Scene (not to be confused with the urban Christian movement of the same name in Lexington) is a vintage consignment store that has the most awesome, kitchy, irresistible items. I am in LOVE with the pink couch that is in the above photo of owners Terri Wood and Katherine Wiseman. There is also costume jewelry, clothing, pink poodle skirts, lamps, and those really awesome huge sculptural ashtrays that look like they came right out of a 1970s penthouse party. Also, for the DIYers, there are yards and yards of vintage fabric in the back to buy to make your own vintage furnishings.
Street Scene is located at 2575 Regency Road, or become a fan of them on Facebook.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Christmas Craft-tacular

So, as always I have decided to do too many things at once.
Christmas is rapidly approaching, and I love to make my own gifts.
Unfortunately my ambition always outweighs my time frame, and I make lofty goals with no way to complete them.
However, last year I got everything done right down to the wire, and perhaps this year with a little more organization and better laid out plan, I will be able to get everything accomplished.
Here is the list-
Two throw sized quilts (don't turn on me now. They are not patchwork quilts)
One queen sized throw (Okay, so that one might not be able to happen because quilt supplies are expensive enough, and this would be an additional gift to one I already had planned)
One knitted hat, (or maybe 4 knitted hats, depending upon whether I decide to send a surprise gift early to my nephews)
three stenciled bags
One piece of original art
One batch of chocolate chip cookies (or an apple pie. Last year I perfected my crust, and I saw this awesome little apple shaped pie mold for only $10)
This doesn't even count the teacher appreciation gifts, the cards to mail out and items for co-workers, church friends and part-time babysitters.
I'm a mad woman and I need to be stopped.
But first gift - COMPLETED!
I hit up the 40% off sale at Hancock Fabrics and got all my materials for my two throw sized quilts. I had no intention of patchworking and putting edging on these pieces, because I didn't want to completely lose my mind. So this is how I did it, and it was super easy.
Buy 60" of 45"wide fabric for the top, and another 60" for the bottom. Layer the pieces like a quilt sandwich - front piece (pretty side up), bottom piece (pretty side down) then batting. It seemed silly to me too, kind of like making a bread, bread, peanut butter sandwich, but bear with me.
After I sewed up three side, I flipped the whole thing inside out, just like I was making a pillow, and BAM - it looked like a quilt. I pushed out the corners, ironed the edges, then sewed the open end.
But we're still not done. I had to do something to keep the batting from slipping, sliding and bunching on the inside. So, I was going to have to tack it. I folded the quilt in quarters to find the center and threaded my yarn needle. With a pretty piece of pink yarn, I dove the needle into the center and back up and then tied the yarn in a knot. Then I continued to tack in 5" intervals all over the quilt.
The whole project took 6 hours, and my Maw will be so pleased.
Things I learned:
1. high loft batting, when sewed as the top layer, can get tangled up in your presser foot, so be very careful to keep it flat.
2. There is a reason quilting stores sell large plexiglass rulers. They are to press the fabric down so you can easily trim access. I did not have one of those large rulers, so I used a very large book instead.
3. A bed does not make the best cutting table, but it will due. I am SHOCKED I did not cut a big hole in my comforter.
4.I used three pairs of scissors and always left them out of arms reach of where ever I needed them. Considering getting a tool belt.
I went ahead and knocked out the sewing part of my second scheduled holiday quilt, and just have to tack it tonight. Also, I got a friendly reminder from my husband to come up with a manlier way to tack, because the second quilt was for his dad and yarn ties looked "girly."
You know, I don't tell him how to study for his law finals.
Whatever, besides, yarn ties might be a little girly, but I'll figure that out tonight.
Wish me luck.

Friday, December 4, 2009

My first time

Today, I bought my first little bit of advertising.
Which has been incredibly weird for me because I sell advertising. Being on the other side of the fence has been quite eye-opening. As soon as I realized, that TODAY was the day I was going to have a featured artist spot on Etsy, I immediately went to the site and clicked refresh until my ornament appeared. Then I immediately went in and switched the photo I picked because I thought the Vampire ornament might be too much for the needlecraft site, and now I am thinking about switching it back because the dove might seem too pedestrian to bring in any actual buyers. As you can clearly see I am driving myself insane over it.
I sell advertising, and I have the knowledge that sales is a numbers game. You have to ensure that either the most people see your ad as possible to draw in a handful of potential clients, or you have to directly target your specific audience with lazerlike acuracy. I know that Etsy gets a good number of visitors that come to the sight specifically to shop. I know that if someone is interested in needlecrafts they will go to that link. I know my $7 is well spent.
But owning a business and putting your heart into it takes all the logic out of my head. Just having items on Etsy is intimidating enough because there are a lot of sellers and they truly are artists. Suddenly the ornaments I made that seemed so awesome yesterday, seem average today in the light of self-doubt.
So I will probably change the photo back to the vampire lips again, put on my business hat that reminds me of the odds, and in the end hope for the best.