Friday, October 14, 2016

Scrap Tuesday: Craft Fair Scrappiness

I appreciate everyone's kind feedback to my last post. I've really dived into making items for an upcoming craft fair and I wanted to link up to Scraptastic Tuesday to share my makes, as almost everything, so far, has been made with lots of scraps.

Last night, I made these patchwork tea towels with blue/navy and white scraps.  The stash fabric I added was a bit of the Cotton and Steel silverware print.  I bought these flour sack towels off of Amazon and I have to say they are really wonky and their shape is very uneven.  I hope I can still sell them despite the crookedness.

Anyway, this is a quick project and perfect for scraps:

Here's my stack of 25 reversible patchwork bibs: these are such a satisfying make.  I spot scraps from many previous projects in here, e.g. Dotty Dresden quilt, To Kill a Mockingbird apron for book club, binding on my Lizzy House rainbow quilt, etc.  It's so fun to revisit those tangible "memories" of previous projects.

Whenever I need a little mental break, I've been making a few tissue cozies.  These are so fast and simple.  I don't expect them to be real show-stoppers at the sale but I've been told that having lots of low-price/impulse items are good for craft fairs.

I will admit that using scraps so much has proved to be a time suck as well as a time saver- it depends what I'm making.  Making the flour sack tea towels from scraps was easy: just pulling out blue and white scraps from a bin was better than selecting lots of prints from my stash and cutting random strips off of yardage.  The tissue cozies are a little trickier: finding two coordinating fabrics in the right sizes to pair together has often proven time consuming.  I think I may go a different route with those from now on.

Linking up at Scraptastic Tuesday.  Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Craft Fair Preparation

Previously, I blogged about my curiosity about selling handmade items.  It's an idea that has been on my mind for a while.  I dismissed the idea recently, feeling concerned about my son's behavioral issues he exhibited towards the end of our stay in New Hampshire- pledging to myself that he needs me and my attention more than I need to try out selling handmade items.  Well, those behavior problems completely disappeared not long after our return to Colorado (a good lesson for me to keep him in his own space and routine and not be separate from his father for too long).  And I just haven't gotten it out of my mind.... so I decided to sign up for my son's school "Market Day" as a way to try out this idea without diving too deep.

Honestly, it feels almost embarrassing to admit that I am going to try selling handmade items at a craft fair or Etsy.  I feel like there is a bit of stigma attached to this endeavor.  Lots of people have encouraged me that I should "sell my stuff" but they are never fellow sewing/quilting friends.  These friends understand that we are makers for the joy of it and the creative expression, not to the unrefined task of trying to make money.  I do feel like it's a bit of a double standard because so many people that are critical of selling handmade items would jump at the chance to sew for a fabric manufacturer or designer to get free fabric or a little press/notoriety- so we are often motivated by other factors than simple artistic expression.

I think the other reason I feel a bit embarrassed/shy to talk about my efforts to sell handmade items is because I am a bit fearful that it will be a big failure.  This is very new territory for me.  I don't know very much about what will sell the best, how to price my items, what craft fairs are worthwhile, how to best utilize Etsy.....  I have observed IG posts of people bemoaning very disappointing craft fairs and feeling so bereft because they barely made their booth fair back.  It definitely feels safe to just keep making stuff for myself, family, and friends.

I don't like to be a slave to fear.  I think it's worth a shot to give this new adventure a try.  Here are my reasons I would like to sell handmade items:

  • I enjoy making small items that are quick and fun to make.  
  • To my own surprise, I don't mind making the same thing over and over (yet.....?  I realize this might change).  I have already made 25 bibs, 3 zip pouches, a few crayon wallets (that my kids keep stealing for their own) and I am knee-deep in making 20 tissue cozies.  Still smiling.
  • I already have a lot of the materials necessary to make these items.  I have a lot of fabric that may not be my favorite fabric that I am dying to transition into a heirloom quilt but it sure makes a fun zip pouch that I am hoping someone else will enjoy.  A lot of the items I have made already are from scraps.... I have a lot of scraps......  
  • I enjoy making for my friends and family and most people are grateful and kind; but honestly, I definitely get the feeling that people would probably have been just as grateful to receive a gift card or store bought item.  I like making small items- why not try to sell a few instead of gift them to people who don't care?
  • I am hoping to learn how to make a profit and enjoy the earnings.  My sewing habit is not cheap and being able to bring in some money instead of constantly spending it would be a thrill.  I can only imagine my husband's delight if I made my hobby self-sustaining, or, even better- was able to contribute to extras for the kids and so on....

I recently bought a KAM-Snap Setter on Amazon and I am in love!  No more velcro bibs for me!  It is awesome.  I really recommend it.

So I am starting this really slow.  Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately?!) I missed a lot of deadlines for most of the local holiday craft shows.  Even if I had prepared better, I wasn't super comfortable with fronting several booth fees all at once anyhow, especially because of my inexperience.  I am committed to my son's school Holiday Market and I hope that that one experience will give me the feedback I need to proceed with an Etsy shop as well as how to prepare for craft fairs next year.  I am on the waiting list for one other fair.  Time is tight and I am realizing that I will have some late nights to prepare, so as not to neglect my family.  I can already say that my "personal" sewing is on the back burner for now but I am okay with that.  We've got a lot of little girl dresses and quilts in this house to tide us over for the next month or so ;)

Friday, September 30, 2016

Finish it up Friday: Hello Kitty Quilt Top

 I've been excited to share this finish.  I really worked hard at finishing this Hello Kitty top.  I truly considered giving up on this project because all of those tiny squares!  But one thing that kept me going was that I already had cut all of those squares and I didn't want all of that time and effort (and dull rotary blades!) to go to waste.

Once the head of HK really became apparent, working on the rest of the quilt felt more exciting.  And another fun thing that happened with this project is that my daughter, Charlotte (for whom this is for), really got excited about helping me with it.  For about the last 1/3 of the quilt, I would tell her what color squares I needed, and she would choose them and lay them out for me.  It was fun doing a "team" project.

I also have to say that it is SO satisfying to look at this quilt and marvel that most of it came from my scrap bins.  The only squares that weren't were the bright solid white and the dark gray prints (because I didn't have scraps of those).  It's just so cool to make "something" out of "nothing."

I added the purple border to make this quilt twin sized.  The approximate size of this top is 72 x 88.

When we finished the top, I had Charlotte wear some of her Hello Kitty gear and pose for a picture:

I thought this was kind of a fun photo (below), it shows you how big this quilt really is/feels: like a giant stuffed cat is taking over our house.

I am going to look into renting a longarm from a new rental source I discovered in Colorado Springs in order to quilt this quilt top.  Cat fabric is so big right now- there are many lovely options for purchasing backing - especially this one- but I am pretty confident I will "force" myself to piece together something scrappy from my plentiful stash.  Within this past week, I have been doing a lot of de-junking, purge/cleaning and I just have got to use what I already have!

The Hello Kitty QAL was designed and hosted by Amy at Sukiedontyaknow.  I've been in contact with her a bit about this quilt and have made sure to repeatedly voice my gratitude for putting together this tutorial.  She really put a lot of work into it and it was well done and easy to follow.  Check it out and make a HK quilt of your own.

Linking up with Crazy Mom Quilts for Finish it up Friday.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Blogger's Quilt Festival: Fancy Fox Edition

I finished this quilt over the summer but haven't blogged it yet because it's been really difficult to find the time and opportunity to photograph this quilt.  The Blogger's Quilter Festival, hosted by Amy's Creative Side (happening right now) gave me the push to finally get a few outdoor photographs.

It was super windy yesterday, but we made the best of it:

This, of course, is the infamous "Fancy Fox" quilt, pattern by Elizabeth Hartman.  I made it twin-sized with primarily my stash of Jennifer Paganelli's Crazy Love collection as well as other fabrics by Lizzy House, Anna Maria Horner, and Tula Pink.  I used a Cloud9 solid available at Joann's for the background.

I thought it was fun to choose bright, girly fabrics for this pattern because so many people make this quilt for boys and choose limited and more subdued palettes.  I wanted to do something a little different and knew the gray background would make it all pop.

This project was begun in earnest at the February FRMQG retreat and I let it sit for a while after that.  I finished it in time to bring to Laurena's Longarm Quilting business this summer and rented a Statler Stitcher to quilt the rose pattern all over the quilt.

I decided to use some voile from my stash from the backing.  Laurena told me she would be concerned about the longevity of an apparel fabric on the back, which sent me into a minor panic, but I went with it anyway.  Very few of our quilts get constant use, so I hope we will be okay in the long term.

I did hand binding with an AMH Honor Roll print and came home to Colorado with a completed quilt.  It felt so good!  I really haven't done a lot of quilting lately and it felt great to have a WIP off of my "list."

I am entering this quilt into the "Large Quilts" category since it's approximately 304" around.  It's a generous twin sized quilt that has been nice for couch time relaxing... I am sure it will make an appearance in my daughter's room one day too.  Thanks for visiting.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Strawberry Backpack for First Day of Preschool

One more completed bag to document and then I promise, I am really going to start working on more quilts!

Over the summer, I bought the book Lovely Little Patchwork of the IG destash.  Charlotte and I squealed over the cuteness of the pattern for the "Strawberry Backpack."  I told Charlotte I would make it for her first day of preschool....

And then September 11 came (Charlotte's first day of preschool was the 12th) and it was also my husband's birthday.... and Charlotte even told me, "I can just use my Hello Kitty backpack for school, it's okay."  But one thing I try to do as a parent, is honor my promises to my kids.  I want to be dependable.  So I stayed up late that night and finished the backpack at 11:59- just before midnight!

The front of the backpack is made completely out of scraps.  (I was grateful Charlotte eventually consented to a color combination of pink and red rather than her very favorite combination: pink and purple.)

This is the back:

I did a few modifications to the bag: I quilted the front with some batting and muslin backing, I added batting to the back exterior, I added woven interfacing to the leaf piece, and I used cording found in the home dec section of Joann's rather than going with double folded bias tape as recommended.

The leaf pattern had to be copied at some odd size like 136% or something and it didn't fit the piece of fabric it was meant to be traced on very well.  It may be due to an error in copying but I must add that I always find it annoying to visit a copy place before I can even begin to start my project.  Rant over.

So here's my little cutie on her first day.  I managed to convince her to wear her 2T Cattitude rollerskate dress as a tunic- so happy I don't have to retire it yet!

She's been using the backpack consistently at preschool, I kind of expected her to jump at the chance to use her store-bought Hello Kitty one... but I am not complaining.  The strawberry backpack is not super practical but so adorable!

Linking up with Scraptastic Tuesday.

Art Student Tote for Me

I made an Art Student Tote (pattern by Anna Maria Horner) for me.  I started this as a project to do with a friend on Labor Day.  I got around to finishing it this week.  

I made a few modifications of my own: lots of interfacing within the interior and exterior bag pieces, I wrapped the strap fabric around nylon webbing instead of using interfacing, I added an interior zipper pocket, and I added a gusset with a zipper just inside of the bag.  

I've made this bag before and I really remember feeling much happier with my first version.  I'm trying to figure out what the difference is.  One thing that might improve this bag is top-stitching around the top- I didn't have the right color of coordinating thread, but will be sure to pick some up soon.  The top edge is just looking so sloppy.

Here's a picture of the back of the bag.  How I love these pretty feathers!

The interior of the bag was made from some of my AMH stash fabrics- they coordinated quite well without looking too matchy-matchy.

Admittedly, this project is leaving me feeling a bit dejected.  Maybe I am just tired, I don't know.  I just don't love it like I loved the first Art Student tote I made.  I don't understand the big difference.  I am eager to return to some quilt WIP's now- something a little more "2D" is what I am craving.

Linking up to Crazy Mom Quilts Finish it up Friday.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

New Fabric Pull

I am kind of forcing myself to work on WIPs lately- the space they are taking up is driving me a little insane.   But I recently couldn't resist a new fabric pull centered around some of my favorite colors: red and pink.  I decided to add in the dark brown to add contrast and not make it too Valentine's Day.

Now I am on the hunt for more of the dark brown "Kitty Dreams" Lizzy House Catnap fabric.  Any ideas?  Do any of you readers know of a local or online source?  And hopefully a more difficult question to answer, why is it so easy to fall in love with fabrics that are out of print and hard to find?!

During my search for this fabric, I came across an online fabric store that specializes in only selling cat fabrics.  Check it out.  You're welcome.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Improvisational Patchwork with Denyse Schmidt

Over the summer, I learned that the FRMQG and Fancy Tiger were joining together to host Denyse Schmidt for a quick visit to Colorado.  Being a little spoiled, I have had a few opportunities to interact with and learn from Denyse during my days in the BMQG.  But I never made it to Connecticut to take her infamous improvisational patchwork class.  

I am kind of a frugal/cheap person when it comes to taking sewing classes.  A lot of times, visiting instructors present on the exact material that is easily available in their recently published book; and I figure if I own the book, I have the information and don't need to pay more to take the class on the exact same material.  I also like spending my money on fabric instead of classes.  But I really am trying to place more value on experiences rather than "stuff," and I decided attending the class would be worthwhile if only being able to have fun with my friends from the guild.

Well, I am happy to report that the class was excellent and I really enjoyed the time with my friends and I even made some new friends as well.  It's so refreshing to sew together with like-minded people, as sewing can be such a solitary activity.

(photo by Kari Vojtechovsky)  

Bags of cut-up, non-designer, vintage, upcycled, and thrifted fabrics were placed in paper bags and we sewed up blocks throughout the day with minimal prompts and instructions.  The whole exercise was centered around being able to sew freely without thinking too hard.  Choosing fabrics was a component of the process that was essentially eliminated.

I'll admit that I struggled with my perception of some of the fabrics, I found a lot of them to be quite ugly.  It's also quite a departure for me to use fabrics that I don't absolutely love and even to use solids is unusual for me.  So much of my sewing is connected to my love for fabric and the fabric designers.... it was good for me to look more at the composition of a patchwork design rather than just trying to allow the fabric to do all of the work.

The last exercise of the day was dedicated to continuing the process of sewing from the paper bags of pre-cut fabric while also adding pieces of one fabric we had brought from our stash.  After almost two hours of sewing, we were able to go around the room and share what we made.

This is what I made.  The green geometric fabric was my stash contribution.  I am actually pretty happy with what I created and hope to finish it into something like a big patchwork pillow.

Somehow I got to "present" first; it was very interesting to see what my other classmates made and what one stash fabric they chose to bring and how they incorporated it.  

 (photo by Kari Vojtechovsky) 
The whole day was a bit tiring, I came home pretty exhausted.  But it was also very renewing and these are my takeaways from the class:

  • Use my yard sale/thrifted fabrics more and don't be so afraid to mix them into all sorts of projects.
  • Don't be afraid of solids.
  • Improvisational piecing provides a lovely freedom I look forward to exploring more.  It gave me a different kind of energy and excitement than simply making the same block over and over does.
  • Try to use more unexpected and less "safe" fabrics in my projects, it adds more interest.
  • Make a quilt because I like the design, start there rather than trying to decide how I can showcase some of my favorite fabrics.
  • Strive for more unexpected and unconventional color combinations
I really enjoyed my day with Denyse and the guild.  I hope to take more classes in the future.  I need to be patient though.  I do think that in my current season of life, going to classes can be difficult, as my young family needs me and family budget concerns.  In the meantime, I am going to do the best I can and take advantage of more opportunities like this.