Tuesday, February 2, 2016

From Seoul to the Amazon

I received a belated, if well appreciated holiday gift from my son.  He's a sophomore at University of South Florida right here in Tampa but is spending the academic year studying International Business as an exchange student at Yonsei University in Seoul, South Korea.  What an adventure it's been for him, and thank goodness for Skype for me, as we're able to talk frequently. (I still miss him though!) He's blogging about his year here if you'd like to find out more.

Anyway, during his holiday break he did some sightseeing in Seoul and went to a huge market that is apparently an entire square city block of 2 things:  fabric and food.  I WOULD NEVER LEAVE.

There were all types of fabrics but he picked out this cotton print for me.

Let's see:  bright colors, a large scale print, contemporary style.  Yes.  I trained that child well.

In other news:

Handmade 101

I received an invitation to apply to Handmade@Amazon a few weeks ago.  I filled out the application and was accepted!

I'm not leaving Etsy but my 2015 sales there were way, way down not only from the previous year but dating all the way back to 2011.  (I opened my store there in July 2010).  I've never been a high volume seller but had steady and dependable sales for several years.

It's not a fluke or just bad luck.  It's a change in how search works on Etsy (for more information here's a highly informative article:  click here).  And more changes are coming, which might be good or bad, there's really no way of telling (click here for the latest announcement from Etsy concering their search function).

One can always hope that things will work out. But one thing I've learned as a small business owner:

Hope Is Not A Business Plan 

Around the time that I was assessing what had happened in 2015, and wondering what to do about it, the invitation from Amazon showed up in my inbox.  It seemed silly not to at least try.  Like all online selling platforms the reviews are mixed, with some people loving it and others not so much.  I think the big test for all of the H@A vendors will come in August, when they start charging a $40 flat monthly fee.  

First things first:  build another store!  Time for lots of sewing to make new merchandise!

Monday, January 11, 2016

Home Improvement

Happy New Year!

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday and a great start to 2016!

As usual, I was really busy with orchestra work and free-lance jobs through Christmas Eve, then I had some much-appreciated time off.

I even had time for a few Crafty Household Adventures.

I made a cool black and white bath rug for my cool black and white bathroom.

I pieced together 5 1/2" squares, then used a towel for the back.

There's no batting (it's thick enough with the towel back) and no binding.  I used the "turn and topstitch" method of construction.

It was a great way to use up scraps and assorted small pieces of fabric.

I like it so much that I'm considering adding something like this to my Etsy shop stock.  There's very little like it there now among all the bath rugs for sale there (surprising to me, yet true) and it might be a nice complement to my selvage bath mats.

Also, I painted my refrigerator!

Before you start questioning my sanity, let me explain:

I have a beautiful renovated kitchen with a nice set of matching white appliances:

Stove, with matching microwave above it;

matching dishwasher;

too many scuff marks!
And a rather old, scuffed up BLACK refrigerator that works perfectly well but was simply not aesthetically worthy of the rest of the kitchen.

I rent this house, and when I asked the landlord where the refrigerator came from, he said that when he was redoing the kitchen his office was moving and they were giving the refrigerator away.

Hooray for free appliances.

It was also a low-risk makeover project.

It looked better even with just primer on it!

Now it's a chalkboard!

I followed this tutorial that I found on Pinterest.  It wasn't a difficult process, although I did spread out the drying times for the coats of primer and paint overnight due to the freakishly hot and humid holiday weather that we had.   It's a great way to give new life to an old appliance!

Friday, December 25, 2015

Happy Holidays!

I hope everyone is having a wonderful holiday, and looking forward to a happy and productive 2016!

Monday, December 14, 2015

A Handmade Holiday

As usual, I'm having a busy holiday season-- for us musicians it's typically the busiest time of the year.  One must Make Hay While the Sun Shines, so to speak.

I've made a few small gifts for friends:

A friend who is new to sewing is getting an upcycled pincushion.  (It's upcycled due to old cd's being the base.  I've done selvage versions of this in my etsy store )

I thought she might also enjoy some appliques to add to her projects.

What wouldn't look better with a cat on it?

Since I was already using the cat die for the Accuquilt Go cutter I cut out a bunch more for a set of dish towels going to another friend.

There's definitely a feline theme to gift giving this year!

And as long as we're on the subject of cats:

Here's the newest set of cat placemats,  now available in my Etsy store. 

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Blast from the Past

A co-worker friend of mine was at a yard sale last weekend and scooped up some quilting items she thought I might be interested in.

You never know what you're going to find, right?  It was quite an interesting collection of some things useful, other things just interesting:

These are iron-one transfers of some sort as far as I can tell.  And look at the lower left hand corner of the envelope on the right:  15 cents!

I wonder if they still work?

There were also some groups of fabric earmarked for a particular project.

The fabric was in a bag with this pattern, in a Better Homes and Gardens Patchwork magazine dated June 2008.

I'm hoping that since there is only a little bit left over that this was a completed project for this Mystery Quilter.

There's also a single completed star block from a Fons and Porter "Sew Many Quilts" magazine dated November/December 1998.

There were also more pieces of Christmas fabric that had been cut out but not pieced.

That magazine is particularly interesting for it's extensive article about The Internet and how it's The Latest Thing for quilters!  It's hard to imagine now, but we were all Internet Newbies in 1998! 

I need all the help I can get!

A really useful item from this haul:  a piece of white-on-white polka dot fabric nearly 6 yards long. This will be the backing for many, many projects, particularly the placemats and table runners that I make for my Etsy store.

Finally, the most intriguing item:

This binder is absolutely bulging with papers, envelopes, and fabric bits.

The Mystery Quilter had planned an epic project for 1995:

A Block of the Month quilt with 12 pieced blocks and ----brace yourself---- a background of 2" finished squares in a watercolor quilt style.  In case you were wondering (I know I was) I checked the pattern instructions and the background alone requires 757 squares.

But this quilter was as organized as she was ambitious:

Tulips for March

Each month's block is set in the binder, along with all of the templates and fabric swatches for all 12 months.

Well, I will not be making this quilt with 12 pieced blocks and 757 squares of background.  But some of the blocks are really cute.  So I will go through this notebook page by page and see what is useful in 2015.  

Saturday, October 17, 2015

By Hand and by Machine

I helped my friend and Florida Orchestra librarian Ella finish a baby quilt recently.

It's understandable that she didn't have time to finish it herself.  An orchestra librarian is one of those behind-the-scenes staff people that makes it possible for us symphony musicians to do our jobs.  It's a monumental task to acquire the music (much of it is rented), have it sorted, bowed, edited and in folders ready for rehearsals.  It's not unusual for us to rehearse and perform 3 entirely different programs in the space of a single week, since not only do we do subscription concerts (Pops, Masterworks, etc.) but there are also many additional services such as youth concerts, park concerts, community outreach performances, etc. etc.  And all of those require that the right music is on the right music stand at the right time.  An epic task indeed.

On to the quilt:

It's The Very Hungry Caterpillar!

When I received the quilt she had already done a lot of hand quilting in the large blocks.

The large butterfly block had particularly beautiful hand quilting.

 One of my jobs was to machine applique around all of the food blocks.

I used a narrow zig zag stitch for the applique.
This was really "appli-quilting", as the quilt was already basted and partially quilted when I received it.

I thought the cocoon block was particularly beautiful, and needed nothing additional from me.

Aside from the applique I mostly added a lot of "foundation" type quilting-- just long lines around the large blocks and borders, which sets off the hand quilting and will help the quilt wear well and survive love and laundry.

Monday, September 28, 2015

A Holiday Destination

Where to go for the holidays?

DRESDEN.  Of course.

My Christmas fabrics generate scraps at an unusually high rate-- maybe because those fabrics only see the light of day for a limited portion of the year.  At any rate, having more fun with the Dresden Plate block seemed an obvious way to use up some of those scraps.

I quilted it with my walking foot.  There's echo quilting around the outside edge of the petals, plus a few circles towards the center.  It's only about 16" square, so not much quilting is required, making this a pretty quick project.  (And fun!) 

This was made with the Accuquilt Go tumbler block die for the petals-- and a "luncheon" size plate for the circle.  See my tutorial (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3) for the method.  And it's listed in my Etsy store.