When etsy first came out, these Craftster business boards were much, much busier. Then people began to realize what it actually takes to sell things they make. Etsy was supposed to do the selling for them! After all, it's a sales website for crafters! We don't need no stinkin' business experience! This is why most fail.
1st rule of advertising: if you have to pay for it, don't do it. Advertising is for those who already have a solid marketing base. It will very rarely bring new customers to you; it reinforces information your base already has. No base, no advertising.
You do a little of this and a little of that for a while, but you stop, and none of it connects. Selling sometimes means doing all those things at the same time before you even start to get that trickle of sales that indicates success - and not just trying it out for a month or two, but for a year or two. Connecting means - OK, every time I post to etsy/craigslist/ebay I'm going to post to FB and Twitter, then find related things on Tumbler with links back to my store. And so on. Extremely time consuming, for sure. Online sales isn't just putting something up and waiting. It's putting something up continuously, linking, connecting, and showing off until you're blue in the face.
But here's the killer - you apparently make copyrighted characters. No matter how many sales you might get, someone eventually could shut you down or even take you to court just because of that. So you have limited your business from the get-go. No amount of business or craft show advice can overcome that one. Think up your own thing that can make you stand out from all the rest. Then no one can truly compete with you. There are button bracelets at every craft show. Maybe you invest in a drill and make bracelets out of something a little more unexpected. It only takes 2 holes to make a button.
When I was bouncing around all the wealthy homes in my chef biz, I got a chance to look around and see exactly the stuff these folks put in their homes, and if there's any crafts to be had, they are pricey ones, so I don't have an argument against the finer art/craft shows. But you actually made my point for me, Chris, in that wealthy people who go to craft shows are no different from the rest of us, target-wise. They're still going to fall into one of the 3 categories - specific, general, or vague - even if their idea of a $2 purchase is a tiny clay pot with a $50 price tag!
I'm just going to randomly change the subject back to the original poster for a sec (where'd she go, anyway??), and remind folks to listen to their bodies as well as their wallets when thinking up stuff to sell. She said her hands get distressed doing a particular task, and that should also set off a warning bell NOT to go the finished product route, particularly hand-heavy tasks like crochet. Your hands are important tools, people! Use them wisely.
I think it's a waste of time trying to figure out people with real money in the craft show arena no matter where a show is being held. Wealthy people are too busy, they prefer to shop at reliable retail markets, and aren't your main target most of the time.
The folks who go to craft shows are either 1) already interested in things they don't need or 2) just there because they have nothing better to do. The "shopper", though, is already present and accounted for and has their wallet out to some extent. So it's a matter of them being in a department store where they've come for a) something specific (I want a blue glass vase - willing to plunk down good cash) b)something general (I want decorative stuff for my home - will balk/haggle at some higher prices) c) something vague (I love to buy stuff and I'm not leaving empty-handed - those are your $2 people). Those are all the unknowns. The vague people are attracted to booths that look like flea markets. Baskets of little, cheap trinkets and lots of different stuff. If you don't want the "c" people, avoid those things.
When you craft and sell, there are no set hours, and the owner of any business works the hardest/longest regardless of the profit. Price your objects to sell - and pricing on the high side is OK as long as you're willing to put in the extra work of SELLING. Most crafters aren't willing to put in that effort, however, and that's the main issue of the underpricing game. You have to be rabidly convinced your widget is worth the extra dough so you can sell it convincingly. Too many crafters have inferiority complexes. That's just life.
Tape is too unreliable, once the edges get dirty or wet, pieces will start to curl up and then die. Plus getting enough tape for a job that big is crazy expensive when you can get a whole tub of glue for vinyl at the hardware store at a fraction of the cost of several rolls of specialty tape that appears to be a temporary fix for sails, at best.
If the plastic you buy isn't self-healing and you do a lot of cutting, you'll be replacing whatever you buy on the cheap pretty quick and there's no real savings to be had. Regular plastic will develop grooves, meaning your cutter can get off track into a previous groove and ruin your straight edge. Don't skimp when quality counts. A self-healing mat will last a long time. Try ebay for a deal.
My daughter has just about every meal with some kind of hot sauce; we usually have 5 different kinds in the fridge. I got into it as well, so I'm eating my breakfast with the stuff now (usually have rice and fish for breakfast, har-har, I'm not eating pancakes with Sriracha!).
Try using a finer needle, sometimes that will help. If it's a feed issue, you might have to baby the fabric the whole way by gripping it in front of and in back of the needle while sewing. Tedious, yes. Or, if you're thinking of getting a walking foot, now might be the time to do it.
I love wood pens, and yours are very pretty indeed. Maybe you already do craft shows, but I agree with Chris that it should be a regular part of your sales strategy if it isn't already, along with trying to get them into local shops. These are great gift items and wood especially is very desirable in our modern, plastic world.
I like the idea of custom work, but as a practical matter you might consider just offering a range of parts and people can just select the parts they want so that custom work can be contained within specific parameters and you can control your supplies. For example, 1) choose pine, mahogany, or chestnut, 2) choose brass, gold or silver metal 3) choose script or serif font for engraving and so on. That way you can give the customer the feeling of "custom" without having too many variables that may end up cutting into your profits.