Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Design my own fabric? Yes, please!

Until today, I may have been the only person left who has not heard of Spoonflower. I read about this neat, up-and-coming company today in this CraftStylish article. How exciting to be able to design your own fabrics!

I did read on the Spoonflower blog that the price for a yard of your own custom fabric is $18.00. Do you think that is pricey? Personally, I don't think it is too high. I've looked at (but have yet to purchase) many designer fabrics that are at least that high. Maybe it would depend on what I planned to use the fabric for?

I'll definitely be keeping my eye on this!
Pssst -- check out their flickr pool, and be prepared to be inspired!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Now THIS is some fantastic bread....

Really. This is my all-time favorite bread... and it's so easy, I make it in my bread machine. On the almost-cheating instant setting.

This bread has a chewy crust, and is pillowy-soft inside. Another great thing about this bread is that it's inexpensive to make -- it uses all-purpose flour, not a specialty flour, and a small amount of yeast. I found this recipe years ago on the internet, and have made this bread probably 100 times. Here's the recipe:
Light Oat Bread
  • 1 1/4 cup water
  • 2 Tbs margarine (melted)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup oats (uncooked -- any type)
  • 2 Tbs brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp yeast
  1. Add ingredients to bread machine, according to your bread machine's instructions.... usually liquid, then fats, then dry ingredients, with the yeast on the very top.
  2. Bake on regular light setting. Works great on the instant setting as well.

**Very important tip -- make sure you start out with a great dough ball. Otherwise, this bread will be dough-y in the center. During the first kneading stage (which is usually after the first minute or two, and within the first three to four minutes of beginning), look at your dough. It should look/feel slightly sticky, but stay in one ball. If it is in two or more separate dough balls -- add a little water, a tablespoon at a time, until the dough is sticky and in one ball. If it is batter-like -- add more flour, a tablespoon at a time, until it sticks together as described above. (This tip applies to all bread machine recipes, too.)

Simple, inexpensive. Delicious.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

A Craft Challenge... and it's right up my alley!

I stumbled across this neat site today -- CraftStylish! If you haven't checked it out yet, you should! It has lots of tutorials and projects for sewing, crochet, knitting, quilting, embroidery... and then some!

Now, through July 31st, they are hosting a Tote-ally Crafty Bag Challenge! I had to jump on this one, you know. After all, they are offering a free gift certificate to fabric.com, some crafty supplies (like a new rotary cutter!), and several awesome crafting books. (You knitters really need to peek at the prizes... here's a hint!) There are four different categories you can enter: best use of yarn, embellished/bling, eco chic, and omni-crafter. I entered one of my totes in the Eco Chic section....


I chose this tote because it is made 100% from reclaimed fabrics, and I don't think it really looks recycled. I'm crossing my fingers!

I hope to see you over there, and best of luck to you who accept the challenge!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Custom order forms and a reclaimed clipboard

I love doing custom orders for people. Custom orders have begun coming in with more frequency, so to avoid a possible fiasco (and an upset customer), I came up with a way to organize and track my custom orders. I made up a custom order form that details the specifics of an order, and a homemade clipboard to keep them all in one place. I want to share both with you today!

I have uploaded a free custom order form for anyone to use. You can go here to get it, or under the Tutorials and Patterns section on the left. It's a Word document, so I hope it's usable for most people. If not, drop me a comment, and I'll try a different format.

To make my clipboard, I used items I found around the house. First, I came across an old, handpainted tray that I had purchased at a church garage sale a few years ago. It was just gathering dust in my garage, so I decided to use this as my base.

Next, to keep my order forms together, I chose a cute embellished clothes pin I had received as a freebie from karaku's adorable Etsy shop. A regular office binder clip would also work well. I attached the pin to the tray with my favorite adhesive, E6000. (My brother swears by Gorilla Glue, so whatever works!)

Finally, embellishments! I chose some Scrabble tiles and an old thimble that had found its way into my crafty stash. Again, this was all glued down to the tray with E6000.

For now, I prop my clipboard against the wall, next to where I work. I think I would prefer that it was hanging on the wall, but I'll get to that another day. All I would have to do is install a picture hanger -- easy!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

I can't sew and drive at the same time, but I wish I could.

I haven't been able to post any new projects or even works-in-progress lately, as I can't sew and drive at the same time. I wished I could, but I just can't. That is out of the range of my Super Mom powers. (Remember this post??)

My oldest daughters have been at summer camp for the past few weeks -- their first long trip away from home! They absolutely loved everything about their trip and camp. But, ooohhh, how we missed them! Finally the time came for us to pick them up, so we packed up all the remaining Monkeys and drove several hundred miles to retrieve our precious daughters.
Just a few pics from a stop on the way home....
Where in the world....? Anyone?
If you were to ask my boys, they would say that this was the highlight of the trip:

And now we're home, and recuperating from the long, but relatively easy (as in non-eventful) trip.

So no new or big projects to speak of today.

However, before I left, I did manage to make and post this tote:

This is by far my brightest tote. Wow.

One more important announcement:

I (well, my Etsy shop) will be taking a vacation in a few days.... from July 27th through August 10th.

I may (or may not) be updating my blog during that time. My guess is that I will......

My Etsy shop will reopen on August 11th, with many new additions. I have several new designs in the works for totes, pouches and pincushions! Whew! I am also working on some new scents for my sachets. I'm not sure if they will function as dryer sachets or just nice-smelling sachets. I'll have to experiment with them and get back to you on that.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

A pair of pincushions, and swap news

I love craft swaps, and Craftster is my favorite place for swaps! I recently tried to join another pincushion swap, but signed up just after the last slot had been filled. Bummer!

A sweet lady in the swap had pity on me, and asked if she could make me a pincushion anyway. Like I said, very sweet lady. I agreed, as long as I could make her a pincushion as well. She asked for a pincushion with an Americana theme. What?! I did a quick search of Americana themed fabrics to get some ideas. This is what I came up with:




This was quite a challenge for me, as it was well out of my comfort zone! It measures about 3 inches in diameter, with a large jar cap as its base. It is about 2 inches tall. The dark blue is some recycled wool felt scraps, and the other felt is acrylic. The buttons are mostly wooden ones from my button jar. It is stuffed with polyfil. It turned out how I envisioned it, and she says she loves it!

And now, for my awesome pincushion....

How cute is that! My two, no, three loves in one: sewing, coffee, and pincushions! I wish I had included some other item next to it, so you could see its scale. It's actually about the size of a real tea cup! Again, so cute! Thanks, Michelle.... I'd love to swap again any time!

Speaking of swaps....

I did sign up for the Go Green and Recycle Swap (of course) so you'll be hearing all about my recycled craftiness in the weeks to come.

Also, if anyone would like to make and swap baby onesies, please check out this thread. I think it would be fun!

A little side note....

Sorry, no tote to post tonight, either. Maybe two tomorrow? Baby Owen and Monkey 7 are each running a tiny fever, so that has delayed any tote-making for today (understandably!) They're both sleeping now (and so here I am) and I'd better go get sewing while I can. I wonder if they have something that's going around....? No other major symptoms; just a little tired, and slightly decreased appetites. Hmmmmm.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

A new-to-me cutting technique, and a fabric score

My sister recently taught me a different way to cut fabrics from patterns. This has literally saved me hours of cutting. I work slowly anyway, so this is a major piece of time we're talking about.

This is in no way a new technique, just new-to-me. (Please withhold the collective "duh's" while reading this.) I wanted to post this to help any other newbies out there that want to save time while cutting.

I had always used the tissue paper and pin technique for cutting out patterns. When I designed my own patterns (on recycled tissue paper, no less) they always ended up looking so sad and being difficult to work with, due to the fragile nature of the paper.

This is ridiculous!

The technique I learned uses a sturdy pattern, such as cardstock or a manila office file and a sharpie. To make your own patterns, you'll need the following:

  • your original pattern
  • a file folder or cardstock
  • sharpie marker
  • scissors to cut out your pattern
  • rotary cutter (you can use the scissors if you like, but the rotary cutter is super-easy)
  • rotary cutting mat
  • your pre-washed and pressed fabric

You will definitely need to press your fabric for this technique. No cheating or being lazy on this!

Next, trace your original pattern onto the cardstock or file folder. It's helpful to include any special instructions (like how many pieces to cut, fold lines, grain lines, etc.) onto the new pattern piece. Be sure to label it! Then, cut it out.

(Please notice my brand new, yet ornately decorated cutting mat. Thank you, Monkey 7.)

Next, place your pattern piece on the fabric, following any special instructions required for that piece.

Now you are going to trace the pattern directly onto the fabric using a sharpie. You can either hold the pattern with your hand, which is fine for smaller pieces such as these, or you can use pattern weights (like these, which are little artworks themselves, and only $5!!) I'm sure it's fine to weight the pattern with anything, really, as long as it holds the pattern still. Trace quickly and lightly -- no slow, heavy, perfect tracing is necessary.



Next, carefully cut out your pattern with the rotary cutter. You can use scissors, but I would worry about the piece shifting, especially if you're cutting through more than one thickness of fabric. But then again, I haven't tried that, so it may work fine.

And there you have it! Super-easy, and very quick, too.

And now, for my new fabric....

I recently discovered fabricsgalore's neat shop! She has lots of adorable japanese prints, which I am a total sucker for. And her fabric is very reasonably priced. And she's having a summer sale. And she's a very sweet person to work with. This is what I ordered:

From the white and blue car fabric, I can just see a little romper or some pajama pants for my little boy Monkeys, can't you? And I have some back-to-school pencil pouches planned for those adorable apples! The Home Sweet Home fabric is just so darn cute, but I'm not sure what I'm going to make with it yet.

As for freebies, fabricsgalore sent a ton! Here are just a few:

The little pink daschund fabric is a whole 1/4 yard!

I'm not going to have a tote to post today. I will be making one, just not during daylight (photo-taking) hours.... so I'll still technically have a tote done today! I am going to clean my house now. It has been a little neglected these last couple of days, and needs some major tidying. Tomorrow, I'll be posting a cool new item that I just received in a swap! See you then....

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

A blog feature, an acorn, and yet another tote

I was featured in a neat-O blog today, dottyral's Indie Finds on Etsy! I did a little interview with her, about my experience being a featured seller on Etsy. Among the awesome Etsy finds that she profiles, she interviews past featured sellers. It was pretty neat to read about their experiences. Did you know that one gal had a month to prepare?! I had six days! You know you want to hear the details... so drop by her blog and read all about it!

A little treat for me...

I have been spoiling myself lately with my own Etsy finds. I really must stop shopping. Really.

I found this tiny, adorable acorn baby necklace, made by Rosemary4Remembrance.


I came across one of her little needle-felted creations in the Etsy Gift Guides... a perfect, tiny pumpkin, and I had to take a peek in her shop. Ohhhh..... it is adorable. I had such a hard time deciding which little baby needed to come live with me. Should I choose the pea pod? The strawberry? In the end, I decided on the dark acorn baby. Which one will you bring home?

And finally, today's tote....

I made this from a pair of denim cargo capris (hence the side pockets on the exterior -- neat!) and a really cute skirt.

The lining is made from hand-dyed cotton fabric, which you may or may not remember from this fiasco project. (Which I now have a ton of, because of this fiasco.)

Hopefully, I'll have another tote to share tomorrow. And I did get some super-cute japanese fabric in the mail today-- pictures tomorrow!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Two new totes for today

I sew every day for my Etsy shop, and need a day off every now and then. So I try not to work on Sundays. But what did I do yesterday? I thought about sewing. And it drove me crazy. Then, I had the thought, "Why not sew for fun?" (Not that sewing isn't fun, but there is a difference between sewing because you "have" to, and sewing because you want to. )

I decided to sew a tote that I had been meaning to sew for weeks now, but never found the time to do. It is a very humble thank-you present for my mother-in-law (Nancy, if you're reading this, stop now!) who helped us out tremendously when I had baby Owen. She came over right before we left for the hospital, and stayed until I came home four days later. While I was gone she cooked and cleaned, bathed the little ones, and even helped the monkeys with their lessons. I came home to a very clean house, which I infinitely appreciated. She loves horses and western-y things, so this is what I made for her:


The denim came from a pair of jeans donated by my sweet husband, and the cowboy fabric is this Alexander Henry print I found on sale ($5.19/yard!!!) on one of my favorite online stores, buyfabricsonline.com. The lining is some cotton quilters fabric I picked up at Wal-Mart.

I think it turned out pretty cute, and notice in the top photo, there's even a cowboy with the name Owen!

It was back to business today, and I made up this new tote to list in my shop:



This is an unusual bag, I think, but that's why I like it. My favorite part of the bag is the lining I used. It was a very cool shirt.... if only it had fit me (it was huge) I would have kept it for myself! But since I don't yet know how to alter and reconstruct clothing for myself, it became part of a neat bag.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

A new tote, and an interesting ratio

I was able to photograph my new tote today, and it's now listed in my shop:



I think it's fresh and pretty.

An interesting ratio....

I read an article in The Storque today about hearts-to-sales ratios. I am not sure how important or relevant this ratio is, but I can see that it could be a helpful tool to gauge your frequency of sales. One interpretation of the ratio, according to the article, could be, "Historically, for every ______ persons that hearts my shop, I will then get one sale." I was pleasantly surprised to see that my ratio is 3.64... I thought it was more in the 5 area. (Before being a featured seller, I think that 5-7 would have been accurate. Sales have been up since then.) It can also help you set goals to lower your ratio. Interesting.

Pretty Poppies

I love poppies. I hope to redecorate my living room some day (this decade) with poppies. Until then, I decided to make a treasury featuring lovely poppies offered by fellow Etsy sellers.




You'll have to drop by my treasury to see and appreciate these amazing finds

Tote update....

I finished a pretty tote today, but didn't get a chance to photograph it. It will be posted tomorrow afternoon, so be sure to drop by my store to take a peek!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

A wee bit of lavender, two blogs, and two totes.

I ordered my first bulk shipment of lavender last week. I received it yesterday -- so exciting! Fifteen (yes, 15) pounds of lavender is a lot more than I thought it would be. I had hoped they would send it in 1 pound (or even 1/2 pound) bags. Nope.... One. Giant. Bag. As modeled by Monkey 7.

So, naturally, I have been making a few sachets.

I also ordered a few other spices and dried goodies to see if I can come up with some more nice sachet scents. (I've had a few requests for those, so we'll see what I can concoct.)

I've also been making quite a few pincushions lately.

OH! Speaking of pincushions.... this one was mentioned in Paper Girl Production's adorable blog! (Thanks, Belle!) You guys should really check out her blog.... lots of nifty info on how to, well, write a decent blog. (Plus, it's just so darn cute.) I will definitely be dropping by there!

Another sweet lady mentioned me in her blog, A Mile a Minute, last week... and she just happened to purchase one of my wallets last September.

Drop by her blog, and check out her testimonial on this wallet... pretty amazing! (Thanks, Vickie!) She has some very lovely photography posted, as well, so be sure to pay her a visit!

I have also made a couple of totes over the last few days. I listed this one a couple of days ago.

And I listed this one today.



I was obviously on a black and white kick. No more of those colors for awhile. I have some really pretty, colorful totes lined up right now on the cutting table. My goal is to make a tote a day. (I probably just jinxed myself by saying that, but I'll try it anyway!)

And now for our Owen update....

We all know how grumpy Owen has been since birth. The aloe vera juice had provided quite a bit of relief to the little guy in the gassy/fussiness department. But then I started to think.... We put Owen on soy formula to avoid gas and fussiness (and a probable lactose allergy that 4 of his siblings have.) And now here he is, gassy and fussy. Something was not right.

I wanted to start back at Square 1. Unfortunately, nursing is not an option for me for serious medical reasons. The next alternative would be regular, fortified baby formula made with cow's milk. My hand ever-so-hesitantly reached for that can on the shelf, wondering if I were dooming the two of us to even more wakeful, painful nights ahead. I had to try it. So I did.

He drank the formula.

He smiled.

He cooed.
He slept through the night.... 7 consecutive hours.

He naps regularly.

He has no gas.

Thank you, Lord. Now I can sleep again.

Monday, July 7, 2008

It's that time again... ETC First Monday!

Time to go shopping for some amazing deals! Etsy Texas Crafters is having our First Monday Sale, where participating shops offer great deals, sales and even freebies during this one day. You can visit our forum thread HERE to find a list of participating shops and their specials, or to just join in a fun discussion with some awesome Texans! I'll be chatting there late tonight.... hope to see you there!
As for my shop I'm offering 20% off all items in my shop through midnight (Texas-time.) (excludes shipping and wholesale/bulk order discounts) Oh.... you can also search for ETC shops by using the tag, teametsytx. Have fun!