Sunday, October 23, 2016

Craft Fair Update

Just a quick post to update and share what I've been making for the upcoming craft fair.  Lately I've been focusing on having more "grown-up" items available for sale.  

Zip pouches:

Deciding on the fabric/color combinations is one of my favorite parts.  There isn't too much strategy involved on what I've chosen to use from my stash, but a big factor has been what color zippers I've had on hand.

Incidentally, I have lots of blue zippers.

I found these awesome kitchen towels at my local TJ Maxx and Marshalls.  They're the perfect size to put a strip of 2" finished 9 x 3 rows of squares patchwork.  Getting these made neatly and efficiently was a little bit of a trial and error process.  I finally settled on sewing the patchwork together and putting it together with sew-in (non-fusible) interfacing- it's really working well and resulting in very neat edges.

I have lots of the towels left to embellish and I'm making some Christmas ones now too.  If this craft fair/Etsy idea of mine is a flop, I will definitely have lots of handmade gifts on hand for years to come!  But I'm feeling optimistic and still having fun.

One thing I failed to address as I've talked about this craft fair preparation and commitment is that around the time I committed to the craft fair, my husband and I witnessed a fatal motorcycle accident.  It was so horrendous and traumatic and the disruption to my mental health has been significant.  It would be easy for me to dive into what happened and my many thoughts on that difficult experience, but this isn't really the place for that discussion.  I bring all of this up, however, to take the opportunity to praise the hobby of sewing and the value in having a pursuit that you are passionate about.  It really has been the best coping skill over the past few weeks.  The craft fair projects have proven to be perfect for my state of mind: they are simple and repetitive- and that's all I need right now.  I really am so grateful that I have a hobby that I love, it's a real blessing in my life.  I could sew all day, everyday- sometimes my obsession can impede making progress in other parts of my life..... but it really is an amazing gift to have this passion that can carry me through hard times, has connected me to wonderful friends near and far, and blesses my home and family through the enjoyment of handmade/personalized quilts, clothing, and decor.  I know a lot of you reading this are fellow makers and you get what I'm saying but I just wanted to remind you that we're lucky to have this crazy fun, hobby that is so dynamic. I don't mean to put others down, but I am so glad I am making things rather than watching TV in my rare spare time (and of course there are times when I watch TV and enjoy simply vegging out- of course!).

Thanks for reading!

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 ;)