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21  SEWING IN GENERAL / Sewing Machines: Discussion and Questions / Need an automatic buttonholer! on: December 15, 2008 08:52:17 AM
I make bags and purses, and my most popular seller has 2 buttonholes. My machine is ancient and does not have an automatic buttonholer, and the other day it took me 1 1/2 hours to do the buttons and buttonholes on 4 bags. Waste of time! Right now I have to adjust my zigzag width to its widest setting, set the stitch length to the smallest, sew a couple beginning stitches, halve the width of the zigzag, sew down one side, turn and adjust it to the widest again, halve the width, sew down the other side, and do a couple more on the widest setting. Then I tie the threads together because I always feel like it doesn't secure my stitching well. Plus they don't always come out perfect (my biggest problem is that it wiggles back and forth) and I want them to look more professional.

So two questions I guess:

1. Does anyone have a machine that has this feature and is it really a great time saver?

2. Any suggestions for a machine? I'm not looking to replace my old one, so I don't need anything fancy, I really want something under $100. I will probably only use it for this feature, and maybe my sister will use it to do regular sewing if I get behind on my orders.

Any help is appreciated! Thanks  Grin
22  OCCASIONS AND HOLIDAYS / Winter Holidays / "JOY" Wall Hanging on: December 03, 2008 08:49:21 PM
I made this as a Christmas/winter decoration for my living room. I wanted something that wasn't too specific to Christmas, and the less letters the better so I decided on joy.  Smiley The runner up was "peace".



And here it is with the flash, this shows the color better because it's actually a really light blue.



You can see it in the first photo the best, but it's totally covered in glitter paint on top of the blue. It really sparkles next to my Christmas tree! I also glued silver snowflakes to the letters using tacky glue.



I came up with the idea sort of out of nowhere but I was going to hang each letter individually with nails, when I saw a JOY sign at Jo-Ann's with letters hanging by wire from a wooden dowel. It was a lot smaller though and kind of expensive so I decided to continue making mine but use the dowel idea. It was really easy to put together!

Let me know what you think! My sister couldn't believe I made it. I think it really adds a nice touch to my holiday decorating. Comments and criticism appreciated  Grin
23  CLOTHING / Clothing: Discussion and Questions / Need suggestions for insulating a winter coat! on: November 26, 2008 10:28:31 AM
I am going to make Butterick B5145 for my winter coat this year. I already have this really pretty raspberry wool tweed for the exterior and I'll probably just do some sort of fun patterned quilting cotton for the lining. Since it gets pretty cold where I live (currently 25F with windchill...) I want it to be really warm.

I was thinking my insulating options would be:

Fusible Fleece (I already have a really thick Thermolam, but would it really do the job?)
Batting (I find batting annoying to cut and even worse to quilt)
Pre-quilted fabric (a much better option, but would it be too thick? would it stay in place between the wool and cotton?)
Insul-Bright (which I also have and would probably be superwarm, but it crackles when you touch it!)

Does anyone have experience with any of these materials as jacket linings, or have other suggestions?

Thanks!  Grin
24  PURSES, BAGS, WALLETS / Purses, Bags, Wallets: Completed Projects: General / HUGE Messenger-style Diaper Bag on: November 23, 2008 12:11:39 PM
I made this as a custom order for someone. I love this bag! I totally want one for myself. The color combination looks so good, the accent fabric just pops against the black cotton duck. The lining/accent is Amy Butler's Garden Maze in Pink.

This is the same pattern I used for the messenger bag I made for my assistant shown here. There are a few differences though. It's 6" deep instead of 3", there's a zippered divider pocket in the middle (which I love) and the slide pockets are elasticized to hold bottles and things. Those pockets are also insulated and lined with vinyl in case of spills!













This bag can hold a TON of stuff! As you can see there's a "baby side", I didn't have any baby bottles so I used water bottles for the picture, and there's room for diapers, change of clothes, etc., and there's also a "mommy side" where there's room for wallet, keys, even a book and your current knitting project. Plus anything you want to put in the zippered divider.

What do you think? Thanks for looking!  Grin
25  CRAFTY BUSINESS ADVICE / Crafty Business Discussion / Marketing Tips on: November 12, 2008 07:23:06 AM
This thread is kind of intended to go both ways, for people to post things they've learned about marketing and also for people to get new ideas. I've just started selling my wares but I've already learned a few things, so I'll post the marketing strategies and ways to get your name out there that I've discovered. Please add onto this thread with your tips! I'm eager to learn more as well.

1. Wear/carry/use your product! -- This one seems kind of obvious but I'm suprised at the people who don't do this. I know I have lost the opportunity to promote my business by not carrying my own purses sometimes, it seems like every time I go to the fabric store someone asks what I'm making. It's hard to sell your item if you don't have an example! I also met someone who makes beautiful jewelry, but she told me she never wears any. She could be advertising her product every day! Go figure.

2. Have something with your business name, contact information and/or website pre-made. -- It looks so unprofessional to scribble down your website on a scrap piece of paper. Even if it's not as fancy as a business card (which you can have made for free at vistaprint.com or pretty cheaply at Kinko's), just something ready to hand out if someone asks is faster and it looks like you have it together.

3. Whenever you sell an item, include a few business cards. -- I know a lot of people do this but I didn't think of it until I bought an item on etsy and the seller did this to me! If someone likes your product, they're going to promote you to their friends/family. I include a business card inside the zipper pocket of each bag I make.

4. Make sure your friends/family use your product too, and give them business cards! -- My mom carries one of my purses and yesterday a sales girl at the mall complimented her on it, so she gave her my business card. It turns out I went to high school with this girl, and I've already gotten inquiries from her and some of her friends! I never would have thought to contact these people myself since we weren't in the same crowd back in school. Friends and family are the best people to market the heck out of your product! Even if you have to give them a discount to get them to buy the item, it will pay off in the end.

5. Hang out with crafty people! -- My business is sewing purses, but I also like cardmaking, scrapbooking and knitting. So I go to classes and workshops for cards and stamping, and I also used to attend a Stich n' Bitch group. Crafters love to buy handmade, and they know what time and material expense goes into making handmade items so they usually understand where your prices come from.  Plus this is great business if you like doing swaps!
26  CRAFTY BUSINESS ADVICE / Tips for Participating in Craft Fairs / What to do when the table next to yours sells the SAME item?! on: November 03, 2008 10:44:33 AM
Last Saturday I got to my table at a local craft fair, thinking I had an awesome spot, when I noticed the woman at the table next to mine had purses for sale as well! Luckily we seemed to have different customers, but I did lose some customers to her. Even my own mother bought something from her table! (traitor  Shocked) Some people seemed to think we were all one table too.

My purses are for more of a younger crowd, I use lots of big bold prints (think Amy Butler and Ikea) and make totes and large shoulder bags and hers were pretty much all the same small handbag just in different prints - very Vera Bradley style. Usually zipper pouches are a big seller for me, but it seemed like people would look through mine but ultimately buy one at her table - I only sold 3!

My question is, what would you do in this situation? I was sort of last minute so I didn't want to complain about my table, since I really did get a good spot and she had seniority (I guess she has had the same table for years). I would really like the same table next year because it is a high profile area (on the perimeter in the main section, on the way to the bathroom...) but I know she will as well.

So: Has this ever happened to you? Should I ask for a different table in the same area or just take what I can get? We are allowed to request the same table.
 
Thanks in advance for any advice you can give!  Smiley
27  PURSES, BAGS, WALLETS / Purses, Bags, Wallets: Completed Projects: General / Sweet Floral Messenger Bag for my Amazing Assistant! on: November 02, 2008 06:37:29 PM
I've been doing a lot of craft shows lately and one of my super good friends has been helping me out. This includes getting to my house at 7:30am on Saturdays, and she's not an early riser so I know it's really tough for her! Then she sits there at my table with me all day to keep me company, and she's a really awesome saleswoman. Plus she takes all the photos of my bags for me too. So I thought I'd make her a custom bag, exactly to her specifications.



She chose my messenger bag, and picked all the fabrics. We went back and forth a lot, originally we were going to use brown corduroy, then decided to go with cotton duck, but all the browns were horrible so we went with this awesome khaki/green. The accent fabric was going to be a pretty pink floral I already had but we came across this by chance and it matched soooo much better. So I think she's really happy with the colors and so am I. Actually I displayed this at a fair and I just finished a custom order for the exact same bag!



There's a panel of pockets underneath the flap, with pencil slides! The inside has more panel pockets and a zipper pocket too. I like everything to have its own place so I always put a ton of pockets inside.  Smiley



In the back there's a velcro pocket, which I think is really convenient just to stuff things when you're in a hurry. It's the perfect size for a notebook too or papers too.



The entire bag being modeled by me! (My friend was taking the picture  Smiley)It's a pretty huge bag, about 16" wide. It's a good size for her because she always carries a bunch of stuff.



Here's another shot of the front. I love how the lining peeks out from behind as a fun little surprise. My friend calls that my "thing". There's a pocket behind the floral insert as well.

Well my friend is really happy with her bag and she carries it as her everyday purse. I actually got so attached to it when it was sitting on my sewing table waiting to be finished I was sad to give it to her!

Thanks for looking! Please leave comments or criticism!  Grin
28  PURSES, BAGS, WALLETS / Purses, Bags, Wallets: Completed Projects: General / FIVE bags for my first "line" of purses! on: September 18, 2008 01:20:43 PM
Ok mods, please let me know if I'm breaking any rules here. These bags are just the beginning of my first line of handmade purses. All the bags are themed around the city of London (not really the fabric or anything, more the names and style). I have never been to London but I did a lot of research on the internet so I hope everything is right!

Here are some pics from the "photoshoot"! (A friend from work with a really nice camera came over to take pictures with me  Cheesy) We basically galavanted around the city until we found this cool abandoned looking factory (actually called The Factory) and an old Gothic style church to take pictures at. Now for the bags!

The Greenwich Oversized Tote - This bag was designed just to be a large hobo bag, good for carrying all sorts of items. My true desire is for it to be used with the matching insulated lunchbag for picnics and other summertime activities that may require frolicking in the countryside. Made with Amy Butler's Wallflower in Cherry, oatmeal colored linen and chocolate brown vinyl for the strap.







The Paddington Travel Bag - Perfect size to hold all the necessities on a weekend trip. I love houndstooth! The lining is pink with black polka dots! The bottom and straps are regular black canvas and the straps are filled with 5mm cording. There are 3 open pockets on the outside and a zipper pocket inside. I also added piping on the sides.









The Soho Handbag - I think this is a funky little handbag to carry around town. I just discovered purse handles! It really cuts a lot of time out of bag making! Both the exterior and lining are home dec canvas. I love the green paisley, the lining is just a plain matching green. There are two pockets on the inside for cell phone and keys too.







The West End Clutch - Ok I guess this is my name for any clutch, because these aren't the same style at all. The orange one is microsuede and I was trying a new gathering technique I read about in a book. The lining is gold dupioni silk and it closes with a magnetic snap. Fits perfectly in the hand, I love the size.





This herringbone fabric has a slight stretch and there are flecks of glitter in the fabric. The inside is black canvas and so is the decorative ruffle. I love the rhinestone button! The flap closes with a magnetic snap and it is slightly larger than the orange clutch. I couldn't resist making a matching hat for myself. The hat is Simplicity 2850.





Please let me know what you think everyone! Comments and constructive criticism are greatly appreciated.  Grin
29  PURSES, BAGS, WALLETS / Purses, Bags, Wallets: Discussion and Questions / Calling all moms!!! Need advice - what would you like to see in a diaper bag? on: September 18, 2008 10:13:52 AM
One of my best friends recently found out that she's expecting another baby. She already has a son who is turning 1 next week. I'd like to make her a diaper bag set that I'll give to her as a baby shower gift. It will need to be something that can accomodate all the supplies for a toddler and a newborn. Not having any children myself, I need some advice!

What is a good material of construction? Quilting cotton, something heavier like canvas, or something water resistant like vinyl or oilcloth? I think I should definitely make the interior water resistant but I'm not sure about the outside.

Should it double as a purse for her, or do most moms carry two bags? I can add pockets on the outside for her wallet, keys and other purse-y things.

What would be some good matching accessories? I was thinking a soft (but washable) changing pad, a zipper pouch to throw misc items into, and maybe something to keep the different size diapers separated. Can anyone think of other useful items?

I'm not sure about the size and number of pockets. If someone could throw out numbers that would be great. I was thinking the style would be like a Jordy bag with a zip top. I could probably put a ton of pockets on the inside, but when I asked my sister she reminded me that her diaper bag (aka gigantic cavernous tote bag from AE) has only one pocket and she manages to find everything ok. I have a hard time with it though. The more pockets the better right? Especially with two kinds that have completely different needs.

Any advice would be helpful! I really want this to be a special gift for her, and it's going to be a surprise too. Thanks!
30  HOME SWEET HOME / Crafty Housewares: Completed Projects: Reconstructed / My first foray into furniture reupholstery - an ottoman! on: August 24, 2008 09:53:07 AM
So one day last April I decided that my new hobby would be furniture reupholstery. And so I sent out to the secondhand stores in my area to pick up my first project, thinking I'd get some awesome deal like I always read on here, like an armchair for $5 or something. Apparently I live in a pricier neighborhood than I thought because the cheapest armchair was at least $60. I settled for this ugly ottoman for $30. The cat ended up in all of my decent pictures of course.



Does this not just scream early 90's? I think it's the streaks of pale pink and blue. I think it would be perfectly at home in my neighbor's living room.



So this color scheme does not match my current living room and it had to go. I think it had been recovered before judging by all the staples. Which means someone actually chose this fabric...



This isn't even all of them! Once I got to the last layer (the top) I just sliced the fabric off with my X-Acto knife. I couldn't handle any more staples. It was actually really tough to get them out because I didn't have the right tools. Basically I used the edge of a paint scraper to loosen it enough to get my flathead screwdriver in, but it was a mini screwdriver and the end gave me a huge bruise on my palm. It took me the whole weekend just to get the old fabric off.

But I found this awesome polka dot fabric that perfectly matches my living room! And I love polka dots. Even the bf agreed to this. It's actually very dark brown, and the dots are sort of a dull lime green (don't ask me how that works). Here it is with the flash.



Without flash, with cat.



The cat has already discovered she can lay under it and be sneaky about attacking our ankles as we walk past.

So I definitely learned some lessons after this project.
1. Use the proper tools to remove staples.
2. Never choose a project with so much piping ever again.
3. If you measure, your seams will line up!
4. Don't finish it 3 months after you start, you won't remember how the pieces go together.

It took so long because I started it about 2 weeks before we moved so I had to stop to pack, then I was busy unpacking, then I didn't want to do the piping, then I didn't have the right size staples for my staple gun and I don't go to Home Depot on a regular basis. Even so I think it turned out pretty well.

What do you think?!  Grin
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