Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Craft Fair Part I: What I Made

Brace yourselves for a LONG post!  

I am slowly recovering from the craft fairs I participated in and I think I am finally ready to blog about it all.  I will break up my "review" in several parts.  Today, I am going to share what I made.  There are a lot of pictures and I hope you enjoy all of the color.  Uploading all of these photos just makes me tired, let alone thinking about all that I made!  I will definitely admit that I accomplished far more than I thought I would be able to in a relatively short amount of time.  Here's how:
  • I stayed up really late most nights.  I didn't go to bed before 1 on most evenings for many weeks.  This wasn't ideal and I wouldn't have done this if it hadn't been for my tight timeline.  
  • I relied on my husband for lots of help and he pitched in with the kids, errands, and meal preparation.  He's always very helpful, so this wasn't too much out of the routine but I do think he did a whole lot more than normal and I give him a lot of credit for his help.
  • On a related note to that above, my husband has had lots of days off lately thanks to an adjusted work schedule that has given him many Fridays off lately.  We also had his dad visit just before Halloween and I sewed a lot while they did things with the kids and I stayed home with the baby (who is a champion napper).  
  • Did I mentioned my baby is a good sleeper?  My 18 month old always naps while my daughter is at preschool, this equals almost 9 full hours of sewing time each week.
  • We had a lot of illness leading up to the craft fairs and it was difficult.  There were many times where I just sat with my kids while they rested and they wanted mom nearby.  There were other times, however, where they slept and I sewed.  
  • I gave up a lot of other personal pursuits: exercising in the morning, leisure reading, time on social media, and some socializing with friends.  I still participated in church and church activities, my MOPS group, book club, and even went to Denver to met Liesl Gibson.  I tried to not completely abandon other priorities but I'll admit that I didn't initiate play-dates and get-togethers as often as I normally try to do.  This wasn't ideal and I couldn't have sustained this long term.  
One last note before all of my pictures; I did end up participating in two craft fairs, as opposed to just doing the one I initially signed up for for November 12.  Two weeks prior, I got off of the waitlist for the November 5 Sunnyside Christian Church craft fair (which proved to be a huge blessing, as I did really well there and the 12th was a bit of a disappointment).  More on all of that on another post.....

On to my "makes".....  

Reusable snack bags.  A few friends suggested I make these and they proved to be my bestseller.  They also might be my least favorite sew out of all the craft fair projects, as they are quite mindless and a bit tedious:

I lined these bags with PUL.  I sold these for $8 each.  It is a simple zip-bag, but the higher price reflects the difficulty and annoyance of working with the slippery lining fabric.

I really focused a lot on making patchwork dish towels, as a friend told me she completely sold out of these at a craft fair.  I thought it was a good idea because everyone has a kitchen, not everyone has a baby or child to shop for.

I bought these nice quality, large kitchen towels at Marshall's and TJ Maxx in 3-pack sets for $5.99.  I embellished each one with strips of 2" finished patchwork.

These were big sellers at the first craft fair, which compelled me to make more for the next one.  I sold them for $9 each or 3 for $25.

My chosen method of patchwork proved to be too time-consuming for the profit I made on each towel (about $7).  It would've been better if I added patchwork to these towels in a more time-efficient manner.  It might have been wise if I had kept my receipts for the towels, returned them, and moved on to another project, but I really did enjoy making them (especially choosing the "perfect" fabric combinations).  I will use them in my own kitchen and use them as gifts as well.  And like almost all of my "leftovers," I can bring them to another craft fair to sell.  I've also come to learn that $2 per towel is a good price and I'd really have a hard time finding a lower price.

These towels are similar but more scrappy and the style of towel is more of a "tea towel."  I purchased a pack of 12 on Amazon, they ran a little under $2 per towel.

Bibs, bibs, and more bibs.  These were quite popular at both fairs.  I learned that I needed more girl bibs and a few more "gender neutral" options as well.  I think I more heavily made boy-ish bibs because I have more boy-themed fabrics thanks to over-buying when I had my first baby.

I sold these for $8 each or 3 for $21.

In hindsight, I should've emphasized that they're reversible:

Crayon Wallets!  I priced these at $12 each and sold four.  I came prepared to offer people crayons and paper (at cost) so that they could leave with a "complete gift," but no one was interested in that option.

Chapstick key rings.  I priced these at $4 each, $5 if you wanted it with a chapstick.  These were decently popular but surprisingly a bit of a pain to make.  My machine did not like the combination of bulk+small size and wanted to "eat" the edges of them as I began top-stitching the sides to make the "pocket."  Still, they are a great scrap buster and they sold well enough that I would make them again.

I made lots of these ornaments last year and figured I'd try selling them this year and use the leftovers for gifts.  I made much more than I originally planned because an eBay seller of the 4" hoops sent me 3 defective hoops and sent me 15 more as replacements.  Great customer service for sure but it did compel me to make much more than I'd planned.

These are a ball to make and definitely made my sewing room look like a bomb went off: practically all of my scrap bins were opened and bursting onto the floor everywhere.  Unfortunately, these did not sell well at all.  At the first fair I priced them for $8 each.  I figured that's about what you would pay at Kohl's for a decent ornament and mine are handmade and better quality.  No one bought any at the first fair and I only sold two at the next one (and I lowered the price to $6).  I'm okay with it though, it's become a little tradition for me to gift handmade ornaments every Christmas and now I am really stocked up.

I sold these tissue covers for $4 each, with a "special" of buy 3, get 1 free.  These were quite popular at the first fair, I don't think anyone looked at them at the next fair.

A kind friend, Melissa from my guild, suggested I try selling "folded hexagon coasters" and she offered to let me use her Accu-Quilt cutter to cut the hexagons.  I came to her house and cut a TON of hexagons, after spending the previous evening cutting a TON of 5" squares from my stash.  I didn't make the time to make all of the coasters that I pre-cut fabrics for, but I managed to finish six sets of four coasters out of Brambleberry Ridge fabrics.  I only sold one set.

On November 11, I was really ahead of schedule with all of my making.  I decided I could allow myself to make one more project to add to my stock.  A friend on Facebook told me about a "travel chalkboard roll-up" she'd received as a gift for her two year old daughter.  Lots of my friends on FB commented that they loved the idea and would buy some if I made them.  I was intimidated because I had no idea how to source the chalkboard fabric and I didn't know how to make one.... well, I figured it out (Blackboard fabric at Joanns is in the utility section and only came to about $3.40 per yard with a coupon) and made ten.

The last craft fair was a bomb and I didn't sell any of these!  But I did sell three to a friend on FB and my kids were super happy to get their own as well.  My pricing for these was $12 each or 3 for $30.

Thanks for reading if you've stayed with me this far.  On my next post, I'll share pictures of my craft fair set-up and displays and give you more detail about my experiences selling.


Rie said...

This was a really good post - it's funny how one fair can be great then the next a dud - always goes to show that you should have a variety of stuff! as a mum of little kiddies, if the crayon rolls had the stuff already in it then it would have been a quick & easy purchase ..see it, kid wants it, buy it and move on ... well, that's how my life works anyway!

Kathy@KayakQuilting said...

Wow! I'm so impressed! I think you had an interesting, varied selection of items. Where did you purchase the PUL? I have some baby sewing coming up (shhhhhh...secret!) and based on a quick google search this looks interesting. What did you do for bib closing? Looks like snaps? Ornaments are a funny thing at craft fairs. I used to be a big collector of hand made ornaments (until I realized I had WAY too many!) and would love going to church fairs to find something unique. Love yours, not sure why they didn't sell. That chalkboard fabric is a lot of fun. So many clever uses for it! Looking forward to reading the second part of this story!