Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Craft Fairs 2017: What I Made Part I

I participated in  three craft fairs this year, two on November 11 and one on December 2.  Signing up for two on one day was probably not the smartest thing I've ever done- but I did manage to pull off making enough inventory for two booths.  I sewed like a maniac.  Here's how I did it:

  • Tons of support from my husband, he did most of the cooking and helped a lot with other household chores- this isn't hugely out of the norm anyway, but I'll admit our time together in the evenings suffered.
  • My youngest started taking two naps again.  He's been taking a morning nap and an afternoon nap now for the past two months.  During his morning nap, my daughter and I often have "studio time" where she does crafts, draws, or reads to me while I sew  
  • I stopped doing a lot of things for myself.  I completely gave up Netflix, reading for pleasure, exercise on many days (I didn't give it up completely), etc.  Initially, I had a few late-nighters but quickly saw how counter productive it was and made myself quit by 10 pm.  I will admit I slacked on eating a healthful diet and "saved time" by snacking rather than having a real lunch during any of my precious hours of child-free time.  
  • I tried to not neglect important people and events.  I made time for my church responsibilities, never sewed craft fair stuff on Sundays, fully celebrated Halloween and Thanksgiving with my family, and enjoyed visits from out of town family a few times during this time period.  
  • Overall, the experience was pretty exhausting and I'll admit I *might* be a little tired of sewing right now.  But I actually think it was all worth it, and I'll explain why in my next post.
Here are some of the fruits of my labors:

Tons of gift/business/store loyalty card wallets.  I don't have pictures of all that I made.  This picture happens to represent the ones I made from just scraps.  Very satisfying to use up so many scraps but it was often time consuming to dig out the correct sizes of scraps that would coordinate together.  Eventually, I just started pulling coordinating fat quarters and made several identical ones.  These sold very well.

Key Fobs: These were also made from scraps.  They did not sell well at all, I sold one and gave away one.

Colored Pencil Rolls: These were very time consuming to make.  I actually made twenty-four!  It forced me to buy and learn how to use invisible thread.  They were one of my higher priced items: $22.  I sold a dozen and was happy with that. 

Chalkboard Rolls: This is another project that I "over cut" exterior fabrics for.  I just got into a "zone" and cut maybe 33 outer squares when I had meant to only cut 20.  After realizing my mistake, I just went with it and made tons of these.  They sold quite well at my November sales but I only sold two at my December fair. 

I really tried to go heavy on the girl designs for bibs because that was what was most popular last year.  When I was setting up my booth at the Liberty HS fair, a friend of a vendor came over and talked to me about my bibs and my taste in fabric- she was really smitten with the designs and bright colors.  Before I knew it, I had agreed to complete a custom order for her that evening!  It was a big boost of confidence for me to have basically made a sale the night before the big show.  I whipped out three bibs for her that evening and she bought them early the next morning.  She was a sweetheart, expecting a grandson soon and was excited to have a unique gift.  Overall, the bibs weren't a hug seller for me but they definitely caught a lot of people's attention.

Crayon Wallets: These sold pretty well overall, particularly the boy designs.

While sewing for the fairs, I used mostly stash fabrics but I did order a few "trendy" fabrics, like donuts, feathers, and unicorns.  Surprisingly, these weren't a big draw to people.  I sold one donut pouch and several of the gift card wallets in the feather fabrics, but I have most of that inventory left over.  I did use some of my favorite Japanese import fabrics with cat illustrations on them and had a mother daughter pair visit my booth four times, spending a total of $51 on kitty themed pouches. 

Well, this post is pretty lengthy, so I think I'll continue my craft fair thoughts and pictures in another post.  I'll share more soon!

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Fold Up Sewing Folio

 SO much to catch up on.  It's been a CRAZY 6 weeks or so since I last blogged.  I have survived three craft fairs, completed the Tula Pink Butterfly QAL, participated in a handmade Christmas present swap with guild friends, and quilted my first customer quilt on the longarm!  I actually have just two more "obligation/deadline" sewing projects to complete and then I am FREE!!!!

But I wanted to take a break this Sunday morning and share a special project I made for my swap partner: the Fold Up Sewing Folio, pattern by Aneela Hooey, found in her newest book: Stitched Sewing Organizers.

Now here's the embarrassing part about this pouch: this is the second Folio I've made because I lost the first one.  I made my swap partner a Folio right after two of my craft fairs, to give myself a little break, but also to get a head start on swap items so that I would not leave everything until the last minute....  And as the swap approached, I could not find the folio I had made!  I searched the house high and low and my husband helped me too!  It was SO frustrating and I felt like I was wasting so much time because I had so many deadlines I had to contend with.  So I finally gave in and just made another one. I still haven't found the one I lost.

Here's the outside of the pouch, made in a Menagerie floral:

And here's the inside, complete with two zippered pockets, a pincushion, wool felt pages for needles, and some pockets.

(Sorry for the blueness of the photos, I took these just a few hours before I left for the party and it was my only opportunity to take the pictures).

Making this pouch is a little time consuming but it's not that bad.  I actually made a mistake on the second pouch that I didn't make on the first: trimming down zippers to fit the project specifications is just a little tricky and you really have to pay attention to what you want the end measurement to be! 

My swap partner, Melissa, definitely seemed happy with receiving this gift.  She is undertaking the Tula Pink Nova EPP project soon, and I bet this will come in handy!

Linking up to Elm Street Quilts 2017 Bag It event.  Have a look at all the other bags being made this fall/winter.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Knit Panic: Summer Garment Sewing

As I try to catch up on recording my sewing here, this post will showcase the clothing items I made for Charlotte this summer and fall.  It all started when I had a little bit of a panicked feeling, realizing that I had a few one yard cuts of knit fabric stowed away- fabric intended to be dresses for Charlotte.  My days of being able to just buy one yard of fabric for my growing daughter are nearly over.  She's growing so fast.  

So I started with this one yard of Ann Kelle flower knit.  I started on to cut the fabric for a Me Hearties dress (Patterns for Pirates), after cutting the large circle skirt, I soon realized that I did not have enough fabric to cut out the bodice pieces for the dress.  It did not help that this particular fabric seriously had a 3-4" selvedge!  I ran to the computer to see if I could buy more of the fabric somewhere and I did find a source quickly.  But I really didn't like the idea of spending at least $13 more to make up for my mistake- especially when I was really trying to use up the fabric I already had and not buy more!

So I decided I'd try my hand at making Charlotte a skirt.  I don't think I've ever made her a skirt before- dresses are just so satisfying to make....  I clumsily handled the upper part of the circle skirt piece and tried to see if I could simply fold it over to make an elastic channel.  That did not work.  I returned to the internet and found a tutorial that taught me how to put an elastic waistband on the circle skirt piece and I had it done in less than an hour.  (I think I used this tutorial on Pretty Providence.)

Within the same week, I was able to make a Me Hearties dress with another one yard cut of knit fabric (cutting much more carefully this time and it helped a lot that the selvedge for this fabric was much thinner):

As much as I love the Me Hearties dress, I really wanted to try another knit dress pattern.  Happily, I already had one in my stash: the Hopscotch dress pattern by Oliver and S.  This pattern was a total game changer in using up stash- you only need one yard (or less!) to make a size 6 and I whipped up this hot air balloon dress in less than an hour.  It honestly is the EASIEST garment I have ever made in my life.  I made it just in time for our favorite Colorado Springs event - Labor Day Liftoff.  Poor Charlotte is being a good sport but she was cold when I had her take off her jacket for this picture.  

  I soon made another Hopscotch dress for a visit to the Denver aquarium- we love to be corny and theme our wardrobe choices with fun destinations:

So I was definitely happy to use up about four yards of stashed knit fabric.  I've decided it's definitely a little stressful to stash garment fabrics- the intended recipient might eventually outgrow the yardage you've acquired!  Lesson learned.

Finally, just before the craft fair craziness descended on my life, I made Charlotte an Oliver and S Apple Picking dress.

Here she is posed in front of a sneak peak of a recently finished quilt top I still need to document on the blog:

In the early days after Charlotte's birth, I put her in a cute little yellow sleeper and my mom and I agreed that "yellow was not her color."  Haha!  Fashion choices for a newborn.......  But I think she pulls this dress off rather well.  The fabric was a bargain find when I stumbled upon the Keepsake Quilting clearance sale last summer. 

Thanks for reading!

Friday, October 13, 2017

Craft Fair Preparations: Seventy Zip Pouches

I've been sewing so much lately but having a hard time fitting in blogging too. I want to share a big recent finish: 70 zip pouches I completed for some upcoming craft fairs.  These took me just under two weeks to make.  All the fabric is from my stash, about half the zippers were thrifted (from some awesome yard sale scores!) and I ordered some zippers from Zipit on Etsy and I ordered some hardware from Amazon.  

I did NO craft fair sewing this past summer simply because I didn't have a lot of time and I had been wait-listed for the two shows I had applied to- I really had minimal motivation.  But within a few weeks, I got off of the wait lists and accepted to a third show.  That third show happens to conflict with one of the shows I'd disregarded - thinking I had no hope of getting in.... - so now I am double booked for November 11.  I worked it out to have my husband run one show for me and a kind friend agreed to watch my kids (in exchange for some handmade goodies).  But I basically feel like I need to have DOUBLE the inventory that I might otherwise try to carry... hence 70 zip pouches!  I spent one full weekend cutting the fabrics and interfacing and matching zippers to each pouch.  After that, I had a goal of making eight pouches per day and I pretty much stuck to that except for Sundays and one busy Saturday.  

Elm Street Quilts is running an awesome Bag It event, encouraging crafters and sewists to make bags and learn new bag making skills.  I am going to submit this post to their link-up but only count these as "6" bags because I think it would be pretty obnoxious to claim 70 entries and I seriously don't even have time to photograph all of these in small-ish groups.  Go check out the other bags people are making at the linkup!

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Blogger's Quilt Festival Fall 2017

 I've enjoyed entering and visiting the Blogger's Quilt Festival over at Amy's Creative Side over several years.  I've delayed sharing my most recent quilt finish for a few months, so the festival was a good excuse to get back to the blog and continue documenting my adventures in sewing.

One of my first quilts I made with modern fabrics was "Circle Circus." I fell in love with one of the first modern boy fabric collections ever to arrive on the fabric scene: Urban Circus by Laurie Wisbrun.  I honestly ended up buying and using 7.5 yards of that blue elephant print.  (I was a new mom to a sweet baby boy and loved sewing for him.... who's now about to turn 8 years old!).

Here's a picture of that quilt from 2013:

Adhering to the mentality, "I love this fabric and if I don't buy it now, it will be unavailable when I am ready to use it;" I stocked up on the girl colors of the fabrics too, not necessarily convinced I'd someday have a daughter- I just loved the collection!  So several years later, I made the girl version of this quilt.

Being corny and always one to enjoy an "on location" photo opportunity, we took the quilt to the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo a few months ago.  One of the giraffes seemed curious about what we were doing:

This quilt is made from such a simple pattern: circles on squares.  I appliqued the circles using the Super Circles technique, aka the "tin foil method."  I used tons of stash fabrics for this quilt, cutting a circle and square out of 47 different fabrics.  I really like the scrappy look.

I bravely decided to quilt this as my first quilt on my newly acquired longarm over the summer.  Quilting it went pretty well overall, I had a decent degree of confidence in being able to quilt this quilt because I'd (essentially) already quilted it before.  I simply started at the beginning of a row and swirled in and out of the circles along the row.

You can see the quilting here pretty well:

For the backing, I used a big chunk of an older RK London Calling fabric as well as a bunch of orphan blocks from a baby quilt I'd made in 2011.  That felt great to finally use those up!

I used an Ann Kelle dotted stripe for the binding:

The quilt measures about 64x80.  It's now one of many quilts in possession by my daughter but she's still graciously allowed me to use it now and then.

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

My big news: I bought a longarm

I think I've been procrastinating writing this post for some odd reason....  But it's time to finally reveal the "big news": I bought a longarm quilting machine!  A good friend from my amazing book club, Kathy, who is a die-hard quilter, learned that our mutual friend, Marti, was selling her longarm due to an impending move.  Kathy has known that I've been very interested in owning a longarm and mentioned this to Marti....  It all became a whirlwind of a process, but soon enough, this Viking Husqvarna 18x8 Mega Quilter is now occupying a large part of our basement.

I'll admit that I've had some anxiety about this purchase and commitment....  But I was given a great price and the machine has not been overly used by any means.  I was told by a reliable source that you don't come across this kind of deal on such a well kept machine very often.  It's been my dream to own a longarm for a very long time.  I've rented longarms for about seven years now and after renting for so long, it's become quite natural to want to own my own.  Generally, when I go to the longarm rental places, I've felt a bit nervous because I am paying for my time and haven't felt that I could afford the luxury of practicing free motion quilting at $20-25 per hour.... Now I can practice in my own home and get my quilts quilted without waiting for my husband to have a day off so that he can watch the kids.

I will say that I feel like I am more "used to" the Gammill longarm brand (because that's the kind I've rented for so long) and I can kind of understand why they cost many more thousands of dollars than this Husqvarna.  I have to admit that I still want to own a computerized Gammill but owning this much more affordable Husqvarna will help me build my free motion quilting skills in the meantime without having large monthly payments and the pressure of building a quilting business while my children are so young.

Speaking of my children, this summer has been turning out to yield very little sewing time, and I am sure you, my kind readers, are not surprised that I am reporting this and you may even be experiencing the same thing.  I think this is a big reason why I am a bit stressed about the machine right now: I don't have a lot of time to work with it and practice on it lately.  But a few weeks ago I gave myself a little internal lecture that went something like this, "Just chill out.  You know you are glad to have a break from the school routine.  Do not wish away this summer or the extra time with the kids.  You got stressed when you had to go rent a longarm and now you're acting all stressed because you own a longarm.  Chill!"  Honestly, my little pep talk helped and now I am just trying to be okay with it not being used a ton right now and just be patient with myself.

Even though I've complained about not using my longarm often enough, I have finished the Circle Circus quilt and will showcase that this Friday.

One side note I'd like to add about renting longarms: long time readers of this blog know I just LOVED living nearby and renting from Laurena in Burlington, MA.  She recently sold her business to a personal friend of mine: Louise Rains.  So if you're one of my good readers from the Boston area, please continue to support that business and tell Louise I sent you.  She's a great lady who was generous enough to have me over years ago and she actually taught me how to make and put on a real quilt binding (I used to fold the back of the quilt to the front for a makeshift binding.... *shudder*).  Louise has named her new business Burlington Electric Quilters and I believe she's in the same studio Laurena had used.  

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Daysail Baby Gifts

 During May and early June, I had a lot of sewing goals to accomplish.  I am happy to say that I just wrapped up one of my biggest projects: making baby gifts for a niece.  My brother Brian and his wife Ashley are expecting a little girl and I guess the plan is for Ashley to be induced this Thursday.  They already have a little boy, just 2 weeks older than my youngest son.  I knew they appreciated the baby gifts I made for their son, and I love to spoil babies in the family, so I went all out for their little girl.

Long before Ashley was even pregnant with her daughter, I bought two Daysail charm packs to stash away for the possibility of her ever having a girl.  She and Brian are obsessed with sailing and I knew I should grab some "feminine sailing" fabrics, as that is not a very common theme!  I am so glad I did, making a bunch of "Daysail" projects was a lot of fun.

Of course, I had to make a quilt.  I used the Moda Bakeshop tutorial, Charming Stars, by Stefanie of Little Lady Patchwork.  I made just 9 blocks, it was a very easy and enjoyable project.  Initially, i was just going to do red solid stars in the middle of every block, but by adding pink and blue, I was able to use a lot more of the Daysail squares without anything blending in with surrounding fabrics too much.

I sashed the blocks with a Cloud9 background fabric from my stash- I was *so* close to not having enough, but I managed to find some scraps of it, which helped me have just enough to make it work.  I thought about sashing the blocks in white, but I just couldn't do it.  I really don't like using too much white for a baby quilt!

I finished this quilt while my parents were visiting last week.  It was such a busy time, but I knew I wanted to get everything done in time for my mom to take the sewn gifts home (as they live about 45 minutes from Ashley and Brian).  Stippling a quilt is the fastest way for me to quilt on my domestic machine, but I am so tired of doing that.  I decided to try a decorative stitch and sew it along across my quilt.  It's like waves, right?

I used stash fabrics for the back and purchased a Bonnie and Camille basic stripe for the binding.

I made a tiny Geranium dress, size 3-6 months, for the baby too.  Isn't it just darling?!  I happened to have these Daysail fabrics in my stash- but I wish I had first remembered that I had a whole half yard of the aqua sailboat fabric.  Having a large stash can have some drawbacks!

Eventually, I remembered that I had the aqua sailboat fabric and I went ahead and made some bibs and a diaper pouch.

Here's all of the themed gifts together.  Isn't it so fun?!

It feels so good to have finished up all this stuff and I know it will be appreciated.  It feels kind of weird to have lots of freedom on what to choose to sew next....  I will say that I have big news on a big change that is coming to my "sewing life."  I'll share more soon!