Thursday, July 31, 2008

Okay, Now What Do I Do?

So, look what I bought today. Imagine! A Babylock Imagine! I was VERY nervous purchasing this, but I know that I have to go to the next level of professionalism if I am going to sell my sewing services. Plus, I just really want to make rolled edges for linens and have really nice finished ruffles!

I already have a simple Singer serger, bought on a whim at Wal-Mart years ago, but it has never been used. Why? Well, first because I didn't know better and pulled the threads out so I could learn to thread it. Right. I'm sure you sergers know my mistake there. Second because I just don't have the room in my brain or time to read how to use it, and I couldn't get anyone to really sit with me and teach me. Finally, after using the lovely computerized embroidery sewing machine for four years that cuts the threads and threads the needle for me, I just couldn't make myself get on with the Singer. I tried to make do, but I had seen the Babylock Imagine that sucks the threads in and automatically adjusts the tension way back when I purchased the embroidery sewing machine, and it has been on my mind ever since. I bought several feet to do cording and rolled edges on the sewing machine, but I knew that it just didn't look as good as any serged job would do.

Well, today was the day. I called the sewing machine shop checking prices and heard that today was the "last day" of the sale with six extra feet (including the ruffler and two cording feet) and six months same as cash. I get free sessions with the ladies to learn how to use it and can go to classes there and make projects.

I was too nervous to stay for a learning session, so we just did a quickie threading - whoosh! very simple! - and I serged and cut some fabric and did a rolled hem. I'm very excited about the rolled hem and linens option.

So, NOW what do I do? What is your favorite project for your serger, and what can I serge to sell that will help me pay back my six-month-same-as-cash purchase?

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Pie and Blogging

My first fruit pie! It's peach and blueberry and that combination because we were gifted with two loads of peaches last Friday and blueberries were on hand. After reading how all the bloggers are cooking with fruit, preserving, and making freezer jam, I felt very convicted to get on with it.

I wrote to Chris at Growing Together. I remembered she mentioned freezing a truckload of peaches, and I wanted to know how to do so. She wrote back with instructions, and I was off to Wal-Mart to get the Sure-Jell. While there, a woman asked me if I had heard of freezer jam and how great it is. Thanks to blogging, I have heard of it. So, now I added canning jars to my basket. I was ready!

So, I start peeling the first bag of peaches - very overripe because the neighbor had given them to me on Wednesday evening, unbeknownst to me, as she gave them to my son or husband who promptly put the plastic shopping bag on the counter and mentioned it to me on Friday. Needless to say, rot set it. I cut away the bad parts hoping no one would get sick with the rest. Messy job! Then, I reach for a ginormous, gorgeous peach from the basket my son brought home from his job and found that these were not ripe. Okay, then, one batch rot, one batch gorgeous and hard. What to do? Food Network and look up "Paula Deen peaches" and see what she has. Too much milk, too hard, etc. Food Network, look up peaches, and find Tyler Florence's Peach and Blueberry Pie and go with it. Very pretty. I'm not a pie maker, so I wasn't sure it was good, but my kids liked it, my husband liked it, and the neighbors liked it. So, click the link, and give it a try yourself! I had mine with vanilla ice cream.

Freezer Jam: I guess you all know about this, however, it went all wrong for me. I was made the strawberry version. I read the instructions, I crushed the strawberries, and I measured out EXACTLY the amounts as directed. I looked at the long instruction paper that came with the Sure-Jell and had it folded in half. I put the paper down, did something, picked the paper up, and carried on and began to cook the fruit and wait for the rolling boil and add the Sure-Jell and go for 1 MINUTE EXACTLY, and then noticed it was describing canning and vacuuming lids, and - Drats! I ended up following the wrong half of the page for CANNING instructions. Everything is almost the same for freezer jam, but you don't cook the fruit.

I still jarred it and left it out for 24 hours and then into the fridge. Do you think it is safe to eat? I'm afraid to try. It's the same ingredients, except you sugar the fruit in the bowl and cook the Sure-Jell and water to a boil and then pour over the uncooked fruit, mix, jar, and sit out. I boiled the fruit and sugar and then added the Sure-Jell and boiled again for a minute and then jarred. What do you think?

While eating my pie and ice cream, I went blogging. I read these sites you might be interested in:

Growing Together - Chris has a new etsy store full of vintage patterns and is having a giveaway. Please tell her hello and you came by from my place.

Freda's Hive - Freda has a link to a basket tutorial that looks darling. It reminds me of something Ravenhill or blij als mij would make with their pretty European fabrics, and I promptly sent them the link, too.

Label-Free - This one is organized by a pattern maker, and she has involved her sewing friends to contribute. I think it is a chance for them to share what they know without it being about any particular brand. Just info and tutorials.

Well, off to meet a friend and exercise off some of this pie. Oh, and I didn't tell you about the Blueberry - OMG - Breakfast Cake. You'll find that recipe at The Cottage Nest blog posted on the link above. Lots of exercise required …

Monday, July 21, 2008

Open House, Open Hearts

Open House Mosaic 071808

When I was a teenager, I used to dream about having a home shop. At that time, I thought I might be a dressmaker and a home dec sewist and imagined having a home where I could greet my clients, show my goods and services, and decorate the home with items that could be sold to whoever wanted it first. At long last, that girl's dream stepped into reality last week. On Thursday evening and Friday morning, I opened my home studio to my friends for my first open house!

With the help of good friends and my husband, the office studio went from craziness to this beautiful, sweet, artsy room that I think I've seen in magazines and on blogs! But this one is mine! Take a look around and see the pretty furnishings and accessories and displays of my recent projects. Since most of what I do is custom work, I don't have a lot of things to display, but I did come up with a few and borrowed a few back. I have loads of embroidery blanks in the white display cabinets. In one, I am housing baby items, including blankets, bibs, onesies, etc. The other holds household goods such as blanket/throws, dishtowels, and aprons. Look across the room to the cabinet with the plantation shutter door. Ravenhill's pretty dolls hang on the little tree. Aren't they perfect there? One by one, though, they are finding homes here in the south. If you go to my mishflicks, you'll see more views.

I have a pretty little guest book created by Mary for me. Her little shop is BittyBooks on etsy. She did a great job and surprised me by using my blog banner on the cover. (By the way, Mary created a fun Sweet 16 autograph book for my daughter's upcoming party. Great idea!) My swapping prizes and blog-drawing wins are coming in handy, too, decorating my room. The paper-pieced quilt hanging there by the wire mannequin was sent to me from Paula for the Spring Four Seasons Quilt Swap.

I had such a wonderful time at the open house. I was so excited that I couldn't remember what I was doing most of the time! My friends were happy for me and curious to see what I had done with the apartment. I think the hit of the night was the opportunity to go into the CHAMBER OF FABRICS (seen here), as I called it - each at her own risk! The place is chaos! However, everyone seemed to enjoy going through my fabrics and pulling out favorites to be made into wristlets or blankets or pillows. I amassed quite a number of orders that will keep me busy for a few weeks, I think.

Now that I have recovered and rested, I'm sort of overwhelmed still and without words to describe how wonderful I feel on the threshold of this opportunity. I am at the point in life where I have the time, the means, the home, the family, the friends, the equipment, and the skill to move forward with this longtime dream. I'm fortunate enough to have the room in my home to house my studio without having to open a storefront and be away from home. I know that right now I am blessed beyond measure - and not because of anything I can show you here in pictures but because of what I know in the fullness of my heart.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Retro Holiday Trees - New Embroidery Files

Retro Trees - Embroidery Designs 2

Wow! Look what I found and purchased today. These remind me of some of the indie fabrics on etsy and at Spoonflower. If any of you have purchased those fun and funky fabrics or make them yourself and want to enhance them somehow, have me just embroider out a design onto your fabric or some coordinating one from my end, and then you can sew up your own craft or fashion. One of my favorite jobs was for a gal who is already a great sewist - my new favorite term from Pink by Post. My friend just chose her designs, chalked out the area on the fabric she wished embroidered, and I complied. Then she made up all sorts of items for her family - tote bags, makeup bags, stuff for the kitchen. It was a real joy to me to see my work enhancing another artist's work.
Interested? One can find almost any subject out there ready to be embroidered, and I have all sorts of sites to check out.
How about some of these for your designs?
Crafty Critters Embroidery Set

The "funny bunny" looks like he is from one of those softie books so popular right now.

This pretty bluebird design was worked into the bodice of a little one's Easter dress I made a year or so ago.

My neighbor loved it and had me embroider out the design on fabric she provided, and she then made darling sundresses for her own granddaughters.

On that note, remember the embroidered buttons I made for greetingarts' button swap? I've been thinking that if you make a back-to-school jacket or jumper for your child, you might want to enhance it with some personalized buttons that coordinate with the style, like monograms, just alphabet letters and numbers, etc. One great idea always leads to another...
Check out my flickr site at mishflicks. I've started a couple of sets featuring embroidery designs I have available as well as alphabet fonts. I certainly have A MYRIAD more of designs but won't clog up flickr with everything, maybe just what is new or popular at the moment. Let me know what you are interested in finding, and I'll get back to you with some possibilities - it's endless!

Monday, July 7, 2008

Making Progress

I spent most of the three-day weekend in my craft studio sewing, embroidery, straightening, and listening, as I must do every summer, to my Harry Pottery books on CD set, Books 5, 6, and 7, The Order of the Phoenix being my very favorite. When I checked out #7 the other day, the librarian said, "I hope they enjoy it." I looked at her and said, "Oh, this isn't for the kids. They are bored with it. I have an annual summer Harry Fest in the car." I'm a 43-year-old who misses Harry Potter! Ridiculous or riddikulus!, as one might say to a boggart! If you like Harry, too, and have never listened to the book on tape, run out and get the series. I can vouch for the American version read by Jim Dale. He does such a wonderful job and actually grows the voices as the characters grow up. Okay, enough said!

I purchased the Simplicity 3835 pattern to make for myself, however, Camille was ga-ga for it at first glance, so I made her one first.

I tried to take in all the advice I've read about the pattern from different sewing bloggers. I made the size 6 for her but think the 8 would fit better across the front. However, there is so much excess fabric in the back. I understood one blogger to say not to put the seam back there to lessen the bulk, so I cut it on the fold. That didn't help here. Is this where I might have put in some darts? I really don't want to spend too much time figuring that out to keep it simple and easy to make.

Maybe with the size 8, cutting the back on the fold but take just a bit away, and creating vents at the side seams, the top will drape better. That's what I am going to try next time. Also, I left the elastic out of the sleeves so no puff and no bother with another casing. Camille is quite happy with the top and wore it right away yesterday and then out today again. I hope this is the beginning of a new phase in her clothing - finding great patterns for her - and also encouraging her to sew as well. By the time I was her age, I had it going on in the sewing room. I wish she would jump in, too; she is so artistic.

My husband spent most of our three-day weekend working on the harder house projects, including painting. He painted my bookcase for my studio office and finished up the work table I designed.

Remember this horrible site:

and this:

Now, see this!

Bright and Shiny

Color: Lowes Valspar Playful Pool 5005-7C
Bright, shiny, and new, all ready for me to add what I need to make this studio office a home. It's not for sewing. That's the other room filled with chaos, which I think is necessary somewhat to create. This room is for meeting with clients, designing, blogging, scanning, creative computer work, displaying my goods, and paper art, like scrapbooking, etc.

You can see some of the art pieces I have to get framed. I found the lamp shade at IKEA in Atlanta in May. Loved this at first site! You can use it on any type of lamp, however, I picked the lamp cord to hang like a little chandelier over the reading chair.
The two cabinets standing next to each other will be emptied, and I'll use that for display. My friend has one of the panels out to cut glass for all the cupboard doors. The cabinet with the shuttered doors is actually a craft armoire. I will use it for storing scrapbooking and paper art supplies.
Now I just have to decide on curtains. Do I go with a calico sprigged with red and yellow flowers or do I go more demure and use a black and white toile?
Ouch! My right index finger is hurting. I've been scrolling, blogging, flickr-ing, and working on the computer for hours now! Looks like that's my cue ....

Friday, July 4, 2008

Happy Fourth of July! and June Swaps

Happy Fourth! We are having a quiet day here and enjoying it. I'm so glad this holiday makes a three-day weekend. It gives me a chance to go a different pace with my deadlines and poke around my desk and computer while I work.
Mee Crafty Doll Swap

Doll Swap Mosaic

I participated in a couple of swaps in June and now am able to post my photos. First, Chloe at Mee Crafty held her first swap, which was a doll swap. I'm not generally a doll or softie maker, but seeing the work so many have put out, I thought I would go with this kitty pattern I have had for a couple of years. Actually, it is to be made in a more Folk Art - Americana type fashion, which I have made before. I thought this one came out pretty sweet in her bright calicos. She went to Jacqui in England. Kind of fun to have my creations out and about in the world.
Sweet Goodness Swaps - Pararsols, Pink Lemonade, and Polka Dot Swap
Parasols, Pink Lemonade, and Polka Dot Swap
The second swap was the Sweet Goodness Swaps - Parasols, Pink Lemonade, and Polka-Dot swap. We were to include the above. I found a beach bag at Michael's Crafts with parasols/umbrellas, embroidered a beach towel, and make a wristlet that includes some polka-dots within the design. I also included some summery scrapbook stickers and pink lemonade mix. This package went out to Jenn in Massachusetts. I hope she enjoys it at the shore eating some fried clams in a box - well, that is what I always enjoyed eating on the Massachusetts shore when we lived in the Boston area.

What do you think about the custom wristlet? I think the font looks really great. You can find one in my calicodaisy etsy shop if you have to have one for yourself!