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 ...
A lovely paisley fleece and cotton 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.
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.
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.