Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas 2008!

Chisholm 2008

Lovely day here. Wishing you one, too.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Orders Complete, More Lessons Learned

Did you feel the burden lift off my shoulders just now? I just finished the last of the topstitching of the last of my orders! Two days late, but finished.

Here is a bit of a review, if you're interested ...

Paisley Fleece Scarf

This style was very popular this season. I think I made up about eight of them. Fleece on one side and flannel on the other, although my last customer ordering chose some awesome cottons for the back side, as seen here. We coordinated the colors and designs with the prints on the cottons. Actually, I think one of the best ideas was coordinating school colors with fun embroideries. I didn't take any photos of the others that went out, but I do believe I am going to make some up to have on hand in my studio.

The mini mail sack bag, always a winner.

mini mail sack bag

These turned out darling!! I can't wait to get a photo of the girls who get to wear these.

A country prim nativity scene.

A friend of mine wanted a casual Christmas outfit for her daughter with this nativity scene. She made a twirly skirt designed with several panels of Christmas fabrics, and I embroidered this shirt and made a reversible headband. First lesson to share, 54,000 stitches in an embroidery with this many color changes will take 3-1/2 HOURS to embroider out! Added to that is the shirt is so small and has to be sort of inside-out when hooped, so I needed to sit vigil holding the edges of the shirt and the sleeves away from getting snagged up in the embroidery. I started at 11:00 PM expecting it would take a couple of hours, and I was delirious by 2:30 AM! Okay, unless someone wants to pay me $75.00 for this design on a shirt, I won't be creating this again. I told Sheri to be sure she frames the shirt in a shadowbox when her girl outgrows it, as it must be preserved for the effort - or at least give it back to me to make a pillow with it!

The reindeer jumper. Pretty cute.

reindeer jumper 3

This was my first try at one of these jumpers, and it turned out okay. I gave it to a sweet friend who has little boys, and it's fun to see a little one in one of my creations.

Well, the lessons learned:

1. Back up the date of my last order. I thought taking the last order on December 6 to be done by December 20 would leave enough time to relax the week of Christmas, but no. Really, now I have to finish cleaning, decorating, start cooking, and shop - I haven't even been to the mall yet this year (not that that is a goal of mine, but just to show you that I have worked every single day in both businesses)! Next year, unless I have a more industrial embroidery machine, the last order may be taken before Thanksgiving.

2. Have more ready-to-go items on hand. The four years I have been building my sewing/embroidery business, I really wanted folks to order custom and just give me an idea of what they wanted or show me something they might see in a magazine. I didn't want to make a bunch of things ahead that people may or may not want to buy. However, when people are shopping, they want to see it, feel it, take it with them if it is not a custom project. I am going to work on building up an inventory of items that I know are popular, like baby items, ornaments, embroidered scarves as above, etc. I am going to stay on the Christmas kick for a month or so, too, as I did purchase a number of holiday fabrics and picked up several awesome Christmas craft books and patterns that can be made. I especially want to get into the Sew Pretty Christmas Homestyle book. I bought a number of red and white fabrics with petite designs and stripes for these projects.

3. Don't take on a new business account, if possible, at the end of the year. I've been training for the hospital p.r.n. job I took on, but the training has been during the day pushing my crafting and other work until later, and later never seems to come, so all the sewing and designing ended up being late at night.

4. If I am going to continue in this embroidery field, I have to start saving for an industrial size machine with multiple heads for threads (so I don't have to make the color change at every stop) and parts that can hoop larger items, heavier items, tiny items, odd-shaped items, caps, etc. That will be a big purchase, and I need to research it well.

5. Finally, be much more diligent in working smarter and completing jobs quickly rather than letting it get too near the due date. Part of the problem of this is the creative portion of the job. I just think and think and plan and plan trying to come up with the best design and color choices, but I don't really get going on things until the pressure of the clock is making me crazy.

If you made it this far, thanks. I'm just journaling here and putting my thoughts into print so I can think more clearly on these ideas in the upcoming months. I want to be back to wish you a Merry Christmas in a couple of days with photos of our beautiful tree and decorated home and all the holiday blog stash I've been uncovering from the swaps I did last year. I missed doing another ornament swap this year, but I'm sure it was a good thing. I didn't need to put that pressure on the pile. However, if I actually stay in Christmas craft mode for a while, I might have some ornaments already premade in preparation of participating in a swap next holiday.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Retro Christmas

When I bought this black candy cane print, I wondered what I could do with it. Wow! Here is a surprise! The Blonde Duck chose these retro Christmas embroidery patterns to be worked into a pillow.

I held the embroideries up to my fabric stash to see what fabrics to pair with them, and out popped the candy canes and these red dots. It's perfect. I wish I had thought of it last month and not at the last minute!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Didn't Quite Finish ...

... but I made a big dent. It was shoe and lingerie bag mania all day Saturday. I always forget how long it takes to make things, even when they are simple. Above is a sampling of the work.
.Bridal Shoe and Lingerie Bag set
This embroidered shoe design is gorgeous! As I was sewing this bag, I thought it would be perfect for a bridal shoe bag or for bridesmaid gifts. This is Anna Griffin fabric, and I have no idea where I bought it, but I definitely would want to have more in my fabric stash.

Airedale embroidered pillow

My friend is a petsitter outside Atlanta. Her link is above on the left under "favorite shops." Anyway, she always has good ideas for gifts to give her pets' "people." One of her clients has an Airedale.


Airedale embroidered pillow 2

We found this embroidery design, and she said it looked just like her charge, so here is a nice pillow for their den. Another great idea she has used several times is embroidering a towel personalized for the dog. Just a regular towel with a cute little doghouse embroidered out and the dog's name. This way muddy paws have a special towel just for them.

I've been mulling over in my mind whether or not to buy a more industrial embroidery machine. With all the work I am getting and work I have to turn away because I don't have the proper machine, I realize how great it would be to have a bigger capacity embroidery machine, the time it will save, and the opportunity it will bring to me. Then I start thinking about how to pay for it and know that once it is purchased, I really have to market myself. I've been working out scenarios and justifications for a monthly payment on paper, but I haven't made the commitment yet. Then, yesterday, I was inspired by David and Daisy's link to this Amy Butler interview on msnbc. She and her husband seem to prove out that hard work and diligent savings to acquire your dreams and not hefty loans CAN work. I have to rethink it all now ....

Friday, December 12, 2008

Working Right Along ...

My goal today is to finish all my outstanding orders, and I am nearly there. I'm hoping to get all the items to be mailed at the post office tomorrow. Here's a little stash that went out today - afternoon sun = bluish photo. I have 13 tree ornaments, like those above, (not all made today but finished up), embroidered buttons ponytail holders, and reversible headbands. Not shown are plush blankets to be embroidered, personalized travel shoe and lingerie bags, monogrammed pillow cover, fleece and flannel embroidered scarves, and .... a few other things. Most are in process and just need the finishing touches. I think it was a good day, but now I wish it was still 3:00 PM and I had the rest of the afternoon to go. It's nearly 6:00 and I want to go to Hobby Lobby to use my 40% off coupon. Maybe I better stay home ...
For the little tree door ornaments:
I took this personalized fabric panel and bordered it creating the little pillow. I decided to place the fabric panel on some batting next time and outline stitch around the tree and make a mini quilt ornament.
Oh, yes, the promised giveaway embroideries are going out, too. You girls know who you are... including you, Nan. I know I owe you BIG. The only benefit to my pokiness, Nan, is that I keep putting items by for you to fill the bag with extra treats.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Good Things

AAAAhhhh! It's Christmas when the village is up! To be honest, it isn't Christmas here yet - this photo is from last year, but I plan on having the house done up by the weekend and the village. This my blueprint.

crayone caddies

I've been busy in the workshop filling orders, and while the embroidery machine was working away, I made these little crayon caddies for the boys. I have plenty of goods for the girls, but I need to work on stocking up for the little men. I'm looking forward to some lines of fabric I've noted coming out that are suitable for the guys.

Look at this sweet gift for a little man. His grandma ordered a little blanket to be embroidered and embellished. I love the elephant. I have an entire collection of little jungle animals done up in this fashion. I was thinking about embroidering them out on fabric blocks and offering them up as a set for someone to make a quilt. I think it would be darling.

Look, look, look what I am in love with right now. I read a blog post about Jill of JohnMetBetty, and I made an instant, spontaneous purchase immediately! Does that tell you how quick I fell?
Yesterday, Meg of boutiquenutmegdesigns put out her first pattern book for a sweet doll carrier. I didn't ask her if I could post her photo, but run over and see it. She did a great job with her instructions and photos.

I have found a number of blogs lately with such awesome crafts we can make and printables ready to download. Here are some links, if you haven't spotted them out already.
Oh, boy, it's just too hard to go back and re-find all the goodies I wanted to share, but if you just start with those links above and then read through the past few days on each, you'll find out what I'm talking about.
Okay, back to the workshop for me. I'm working toward being done with all my orders by Friday so it will be all about the family from then until the big day - well, maybe just a little sewing and crafting of the goodies in the links above and presents planned for my peeps.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Sending You Wishes Of ...

hope and joy ornaments

... Joy and Hope.

I've had a pretty nice weekend, most assuredly because of my friend's dedicated time everyday last week to help me work on reorganizing the kitchen and pantry and shining up the dining room. We worked for four sessions of the five days, and this so lifted my spirits and readied me to begin holiday decorations.

In honor of Gayle's hard work, I will show you a little mosaic. All the pantry cabinets are lined up like grocery store shelves, and the "appliance garage" is nice and neat with the crockpot and rice cooker and mixers. See:

Gayle's reorganization!

It's lovely to see all that space in between items as well as being able to spot at a glance what is in the cabinets.

Here's a view of our Christmas tree settling in. It's a real beauty. We picked it up the other night before rain came by. I'll work on the lights through next week - it takes me a while to wrap all the branches, and then we can decorate it as a family this weekend.

You'll have to stop over at Nanette's blog - Freda's Hive. She is celebrating her first blog anniversary with a weeklong celebration. You have a chance to enter everyday by commenting on the actual date of the post for numerous chances to win her great prizes. I've learned a lot from Nanette since I found her. It started with the fabric baskets, I think, and we've been e-mailing getting to know each other over time. She has a project in the new Fons and Porter Baby Quilt magazine, which I can't wait to pick up and see her name in the byline and say to anyone around, "I know this designer!"

Finally, I am a winner of one of the giveaways from the sew mama sew giveaway day. Kristie of girlville wrote me and told me I won her pretty holiday banner. I can't wait to receive it this week. Kristie checked out my blog, too, and let me know exactly where she thinks the banner will look best - on the banister between the dining and family rooms. I appreciate that! However, I might have to order a second from her, because I have two banisters on either side of that entry, and it's all about symmetry for me.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Chilly Days and Winter Housekeeping

Gnome Houses

For South Carolina, this has been a very cold couple of months! I kept my pj bottoms on all day under my track pants, as it was 29 degrees this morning when we headed out for carpooling.

jippy mosaic

Even my poor Jip is cold and shaking, though the house is toasty warm. Poor baby has had a sinus cold since June - have you ever seen a dog sneeze out yuckiness - it's funny and awful at the same time! We've tried antibiotics and steroids, but now I think we have to opt for a CT and see what is in there. Anyway, his hips hurt, too, in this cold, dry weather, so for the first time this winter, he has begun snuggling under blankets. Here he was trying to catch some sun rays through the door this afternoon but was still shaking, so I threw a little towel over him.

I think I got the thread shading right on the embroidery panel to look like Jip. I love looking at that design. I sold one of those fabric panels last week and was so surprised because it had been in my shop for a while. I hope the purchaser sends me a photo of her finished project. Of course, since I sewed it out a while ago, I forgot where I put the panel. Thus, I began embroidering another, and, of course, just as I was nearing the finish of the replacement, I picked up some fabric off a chair in my sewing room, and there was the original, so I listed it again.

All sorts of housekeeping is going on here right now. Thankfully, my friend, Gayle, offered her services, and she has been coming over this week helping me to do some spring/winter cleaning as well as some reorganizing readying the house for holiday decorations and bringing in the Christmas tree.

little gnome house

Another sort of housekeeping is going on in my sewing studio. While items are sewing out on the embroidery machine, I've been cleaning up and ironing fabrics and fooling around while bored by the process. I made these little gnome houses. I guess I saw them around the blogs and on etsy, but I all of a sudden had to make gnome house despite the piles of sorting I had to do around me. You know how those sudden urges come up.

Have you been over to sewmamasew blog yet? Today is the big giveaway day. I've entered several, but I feel too guilty to spend too much time going through all the sites. There's so much traffic, I guess, my computer was going a little slow through the hoops to get to the commenting. The ones I did enter, though, were really awesome crafting! There was a knitted cloche hat that I know my daughter would adore. That would be a great Christmas present for her. Too bad the blogger didn't have an etsy shop; I might have just bought one. Now I don't remember which blog it was offered on. If you spot it, please let me know, so I can go back and check it out again.

Okay, Gayle is coming back soon while the kids are at youth group. We are going to clean the wood paneling next and dust and vacuum with her Rainbow. She swears by it, even though I have a Kirby. Whatever she likes, though! Thank goodness for a friend with such great talents and willingness to share!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Christmas Door Hangers and Decorations

Joyeux Noel Redwork House Ornament

I've started working out the embroidery orders coming in. I picked up this pretty redwork embroidery design from The Long Thread and made house door hangers / ornaments with it.

Joyeux Noel Redwork House Fabric Panel

I also have some fabric panels in my calicodaisy shop for you to include in your project. The other wording for this design is "peace on earth."

Embroidered Tree with Monogram Fabric Panel

Back in August (!) - slowpoke me, I'm just getting to it - my friend ordered a number of monogrammed pieces to be made into door hangers like the one above. This is what I came up with for her. I've put the same idea in my shop, too, with whatever letter you might need.

If I promised you a freebie embroidery way back, it is coming. It just takes me time to fit it all in!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

November Miscellany

This was a fast month and very full. From traveling to Houston to my craft shows to Thanksgiving, everyday has been full.

I did something last week that I haven't done in over ten years. I went to work! I've been at home working in my own medical transcription business (that's listening to doctors and transcribing the patient notes) since 1998 and also have been developing my sewing and embroidery business the past 4 years. In the summer, for the first time, though this has been expected, one of my accounts went to electronic medical records. Voice recognition and data programs have become so advanced that this is the way things are going in the medical field. I was offered another hospital system to take on, but for the first time in all these years, I thanked the contractor very much and decided to step back. I figured if this is going to keep happening, I need to build and market my sewing/embroidery business and move forward on that end as well as to figure out what other career I might get into, if needed, down the road. You have no idea how hard it was to say "no" to a new account. You just don't do that in business. Anyway, while helping a friend look for a job at the hospital my husband works for, I saw an on-call position for a medical transcriptionist in the radiology department and decided to go for it. Thankfully, they wanted me, too, and so I am plugged into the hospital system again. Being p.r.n. allows me to come and go as my schedule allows and depending on their need for me, so I still have a bit of control over my schedule.

This month brought a couple of new patterns to me.

quilted bib

I found this "The Best Bib" pattern by jcasa on etsy. I thought the quilting in the design made it so pretty and cozy. I used fabrics already washed and dried, as usual for me, so I wasn't sure how puckered up mine would look when finished. However, I tossed the finished bib in the next load of clothes, and it came out as pretty as the pattern picture. I love this design and do think it is "the best bib," too, although, I might made the binding and strings a bit narrower next time.

These coffee sleeves were a big hit. I only have a few left of the first bunch I made for the craft shows. I wanted to have some ready made items available, and I'm so glad I found this pattern and also made the tissue cozies. The coffee sleeve pattern by GiGi is from the You Can Make This site. I love this site as well as SWAK Embroidery. Both are places where at-home designers can put up patterns of their work. If you pick up the coffee sleeve pattern, be sure to follow the instructions on measuring from the top seam. It's the important piece of information that will make your coffee sleeve fit appropriately. Also, have a commercial cup on hand so you can verify the fit before zig-zagging off the last seam. You wouldn't want whoever ends up with the sleeve to be frustrated trying to slip the thing on!
I've pointed out before that I'm not a good thrifter or repurposing girl. I'd like to be, but I just don't have time to seek stuff out at the thrift shops. However, I had time on my hands last week and went into Goodwill looking for some wool sweaters to repurpose for crafts and baby bonnets. I live in South Carolina, so .... nothing here. On the way out of the shop, I spotted a package of t-shirt wipes.
t-shirt wipes
For a dollar, I thought all these will be great to have for home cleaning. I really didn't think about the actual material though until I got home. When opening the bag, I was surprised to see that the wipes were made from already-worn-shirts, all sorts, with a bunch of different designs. Right then I realized how great these would be for crafts, too. It made me think of a number of little crafts and baby items using repurposed or new t-shirt fabric - hats, softies, dolls, little doll clothing, etc. Anyway, check your Goodwill shop and see if you have them at your place.
I received a couple of packages in the mail the other day, and one I expected to be some fabric pieces from Chrissy for more applique work. I didn't even look at the return address, I just opened it up and was then pleasantly confused. See what I found:
flannel pillowcase
Stephanie from Loft Creations sent me one of her cozy flannel pillowcases. It is so well done, and I love the perfect zig-zag stitch around the hem. You'll have to stop by her etsy shop and check out all the ones she has available. For $8.00, what a fast and easy gift to pick up for anyone on your list, and a job well done, too.
Finally, though this might should be at the beginning of my post but I wanted to end with the sentiment, we finished this month with a lovely Thanksgiving Feast and Dinner with friends from church. We were going to have a quiet year this year with no company, but a week before, Robyn called and asked what we were up to this year and then promptly invited us to her home for a Thanksgiving Celebration with other family and friends. We had such a big time and good fellowship. We often spend this holiday with family, but it is GOOD to spend it with friends and enjoy their company and traditions, too.
We are very thankful for the great country that we live in, those who went before us to create and preserve the USA's values, our freedoms of religion and speech, our bountiful supplies of food and goods and the opportunity to share that with others in need, and the security provided by those who choose to work both here and abroad for the good of our country and others.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Remember The Equation?

You know, You + Me = TERRIFIC! Well, two crafters understood what I was going on about and have wonderful ideas. Both posted their finished products today, and I am going to reveal them here, too.

First, Michelle of greeting arts chose some embroidered fabric panels from me and created a bunch of covered buttons / ponytail holders to sell at her children's school bazaar.

greetingarts and calicodaisy

The covered buttons turned out marvelous. She just looped a covered elastic through the button shank to create the ponytail holder. I love the little kitties.

It's been great working with Michelle because she has little girls and is really "in-the-know" about what is popular for kids right now and has great ideas about what I can do with the new applique designs I've been acquiring. She has a few more of my fabric panels, and I can't wait to see what she does with them.

Through my calicodaisy etsy shop, I met Chrissy of Dottie Stripe Layne and DSL Kids. Chrissy contacted me and asked if I would be interested in providing the appliques and monogramming services for her children's clothing line. It has been such a great opportunity and has stretched my knowledge and techniques of my embroidery machine. She has wonderful ideas, and I am really pleased that she chose to work with me.

DSL Winter Line

Look at how cute these outfits are! I would never have thought of all these ideas myself, especially not having a young one to sew for. Do you see the teapot and cup set? So cute! Just a t-shirt and jeans turned into a boutique, designer outfit.

Here is another set:

DSL Winter Line 2

I have several favorites, but I can't get over how darling the baby is in the red leotard and tutu! It's just great! Chrissy has been sending me fabric panels marked where she wants the applique. When she gets the fabric back, she cuts it out as planned and then just finishes up the outfit.

And, finally:

DSL Winter Line 3

The reindeer again on a darling dress! Chrissy makes matching bows, too. She has had a few shows this month and has a number of outfits to make up, so a box is on the way to me with a bunch of reindeer to sew out for some sweet girls' Christmas outfits!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Nice Holiday Bazaars!

I have to recant my remark last week about not liking to do the holiday craft bazaars. I had quite a nice time - when you subtract out the setting up and taking down of the tables - at all three events. I met a lot of crafters and customers and had a couple of surprises as well.

Coffe Cup Cozies

My coffee sleeves sold remarkably well along with a number of the tissue cozies. You blog gals out there are right; they are popular again. If you would like one of my fashionable and useful coffee sleeve cozies (other than the one described below), please just contact me. I'm not going to etsy them. I'm selling them for $5 plain, $6 ric-rac, $7 with button and yo-yo, and $10 monogrammed. The tissue cozies went for $6 with the tissue pack included. I can send you a photo of all styles available to choose from should you like.

Habitat For Humanity Fundraising Idea

My daughter's and my little Habitat For Humanity fundraising project has gone well with a number sold to local friends and through etsy, thank you! I am shamelessly showing the coffee sleeve again just in case you really want to buy one at my calicodaisy shop. We have just a few more to sell, and all proceeds go to her trip in December.

Monogrammed Throw

Embroidered plush throws are popular still. I brought a sample of each color I have on hand, and customers chose a favorite and designed an embroidery to personalize and decorate. I haven't listed these in my shop so far, because there has to be so much conversation about what someone wants. If you are in the market for one, I am selling plush throws for $25 including a name and little icon, and then shipping and handling, of course. The above design cost a little more because of the size of the design. Just contact me if you are interested in one, and we can discuss color and embroidery style, etc., through e-mail.

Reindeer applique personalized pillow cover

The baby items are always popular, and my personalized reindeer pillow covers went over well.

Birthday / Age T-shirt

The nice surprises came in the form of other vendors. You know how I am encouraging you sewists out there to use my embroidery services to enhance your projects. Well, that's just what happened at these bazaars. At one show, there was a sewist who makes boutique children's clothing - you know, the little A-line dresses and such and bows, boys' jumpers, etc. I asked if she did her own monogramming. She does not. So, I offered my services, and we have been e-mailing back and forth this week discussing ideas and prices.

At last night's event, two lovely ladies walked in the door and headed straight for me with items - market baskets like these above - in their arms and monogramming instructions all written out! I didn't recognize the ladies, but it turns out we met at the first bazaar of the month, and they inquired about using me as a backup embroiderer. Isn't that great? I get to use my skills for someone else's benefit and products, and I don't have to set up a table again for awhile!
I have my next few weeks cut out for me embroidering and sewing up my orders. I'm so thankful to have been asked to be part of the three bazaars and thankful, too, for those who wanted to purchase my crafts and use my services in the future. It makes all the shopping and stashing and marketing and blogging everything I had hoped it to be.