Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Etsy giveaway

Have an Etsy site you'd like to promote (mine is or someone else's Etsy site you love (I love LoveForEarth)? Post about it on Vietti View and win!


Last night I was a bum! I watched 4 episodes of True Blood instead of doing a single productive activity. I haven't done that in a long time so it was really nice. I am feeling a little regret today for the time lost, but I'll get over it. So instead of showing you something I did last night, I'll show you something I did not do! I bought this Gunilla fabric from Ikea on Sunday. I am planning to make a couple of reusable grocery totes with it, on a night I am feeling more productive than I was last night! What do you think?

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Strange evening activity

"What did you do last night?"
"I watched tv. What did you do?"
"I made a top hat."

Last night I made the top hat for the Mad Hatter costume. The entire time I was making it, I was thinking that it wasn't going to turn out and wondering why I didn't just go to the theatrical shop and buy one for $10. The last step is to sew the brim onto the top. It was so ugly and misshaped at this point, I almost threw it away. But I figured I'd come this far, I'd sew on the brim and see what it looked like. I did and it's awesome! The fabric store is out of black trim, so the brim has a raw edge that won't be there come time to actually wear the hat, but other than that it's done and I love it. I kept saying, "I made a top hat!" last night. That's normal.

Making the hat was even more satisfying because I already had black felt left over from my skeleton buddies. The Simplicity pattern I used last year for Sweeney Todd's vest came with a top hat pattern that worked with minor alterations (making it a bit taller and wider at the top). The ribbon is the fabric I used to make the jacket and vest. So the only cost I will have is the $1 trim around the brim!

Silent Auction

Fabulous Fun Finds is have a silent auction to benefit a newly widowed mother of three. FFF has 35 items up for auction including jewelry, purses, bath & body products, treats and more. Please check it out and make a bid. 100% of the profits will go to the family. 

Monday, September 28, 2009

Two and a half totes

Last night I worked on a couple more reusable grocery totes. I made two of the bag to the left out of fabric I had left from the curtains in the office. These are a little taller and skinnier than the ones I've made before, better for cereal and pasta. When I finally get around to listing these on Etsy, should I list them as a set or separately?

I also got about half a tote done, made from Patricia fabric I got at Ikea yesterday. I didn't have the right color of trim, so I haven't trimmed the top or added handles yet. It turned out really chic though. I can't wait to see it completed. I think I'm going to make a second matching one, then maybe one really large tote for me out of the remaining fabric.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

This table is "sew" perfect

On the way home from Minnesota today I stopped at Ikea. As we were walking through desks and tables I was saying that I wanted a table that folded down very narrow, but was quite large when open. One with a little bit of storage would be nice too. My current sewing table is a small antique dressing table/desk. I use the ironing board and floor to cut fabric and neither works very well. My art room is rather small, so something colapsable would be perfect. When we got to the kitchen area and I found the Norden Gateleg Table, I fell in love. It was exactly what I was picturing in my head. How often does that happen?!? They were out of stock. And it's not available online. Boo. I'm so sad. But, a friend of mine is moving to Minneapolis this week, so I guess I will coordinate my first visit for when this comes back in stock.

I also bought three new canvas prints to make some more reusable totes. They are all really interesting and hopefully I'll have pics of bags to show you soon.

Friday, September 25, 2009

This weekend

I am headed up to Stillwater, Minnesota, on Saturday for a wedding of two former coworkers who are now friends of mine. Stillwater is a nice riverside community with many bed & breakfast. The couple vacationed there together and fell in love with the area. When they decided to get married, they knew they wanted to have the ceremony in the park on the river. Meredith, the bride, contacted me wanting something "classic but unique" for an invitation. Together we came up with the idea of making a Stillwater postcard out of a photo she had taken. They had some other unique needs such as letting guest know there would be activities on Friday night so they could make a weekend out of the trip. I think the invites turned out both unique and classic, as requested. I'm looking forward to seeing the area and the wedding. (And Ikea is right on the way home on Sunday!)

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Green ankle boot tote

Last night I made another reusable tote/grocery bag. I drew the boot in Adobe Illustrator, printed it out and made a stencil. The bag is white canvas, very sturdy and very large. I think the funky little boot and patterned handle balance the utility of the canvas nicely. I used grass green cotton for the upper trim.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Thanks, Jen!

Jen from Vietti View is featuring my "Boo" and "Trick or Treat" Halloween Frames and cards on her blog. Check it out. Thanks, Jen!

More illustrations

I have a robot on the computer desk at home that came from a guy I worked with at my last job. (That's Winston with him in the picture.) The robot is a wind-up toy that also sharpens pencils. Brian is very quirky and his robot collects and gifts reflect his unique personality. Anyway, the robot inspired me to make an illustrated version of him. What do you think? Which color combo is the best? Leave a comment and let me know so I can use the winner for an applique on a reusable grocery tote in the future.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


Today I worked on some illustration ideas for future sewing projects for Etsy. Being a shoe fanatic, I started with some cute shoe illustrations. What do you think of the stiletto platform ankle boot above? I also drew a deer, a whale and a few other random things. Felt pretty good to get back into Illustrator since it's the Adobe program I use the least at work.

Monday, September 21, 2009

I can't stop

I have an online shopping addiction. It's so exciting to click that "buy" button and then to get something in the mail that isn't a bill! So satisfying. This seems to be a recent problem. I used to be able to browse, sometimes thinking, "I could make that" and occasionally actually making something I'd wanted to buy.

The sites I can't stop buying things from are:
1. - forget your Target/Wal-Mart trip with this site. The prices for everyday household items are very competitive and everything is delivered to your door with free shipping in recycled and biodegradable packaging. Get stamps, toilet paper and granola bars delivered to my door? Don't mind if I do.
2. - Very affordable makeup (some things as low as $1!) with frequent coupon codes. I love the mineral line, especially the foundation and eye shadows and they are a fraction of the price of brands like Bare Minerals. I have so much (over a dozen mineral eye shadows alone) but I can't stop. Just ordered some more yesterday.
3. - this one you all know about. Every time I buy something off Etsy, I get more excited. There are a couple of reasons for this. First, since I sell on there, I know how excited I get when I make a sale. By buying things, I know I am giving that happiness to someone else, which thrills me more than it should. Second, there are so many original, inventive, eco-friendly things on there. Case in point, I just bought these reusable produce bags from Love For Earth. I have been using reusable grocery bags for a long time, but never found any great reusable produce bags, so I've been either letting the produce roll free in the cart (gross!) or using the plastic bags (bad!). I got 6 small bags and 3 medium bags. I asked for an assortment of colors, but I think my favorite are the green, pink and black.

Recycled bike inner tubes

Yet another amazing find on Etsy. Pale Pink uses recycled bike inner tubes to make a variety of items, but my favorite is this journal. I love that some of the printed text from the inner tube is displayed on the book. She has journals/notebooks in a bunch of different colors and several sizes. What an awesome idea for a gift to an environmentally conscious or bike fanatic friend! She also makes rings, necklaces, hairpins and wallets out of the inner tubes.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Orange Apron Grocery Bag

I made this bag this afternoon out of some fabric I had left over from an apron I made a while back. I think it turned out well and is fun & funky. I didn't even use a pattern! Is it good enough to sell? The problem is that it is so cute I want to keep it now. (Yes, I did take groceries out of my cabinets and refrigerator to pack into it for the picture and then unpacked again and put it all away.)

I spent most of the day in front of the sewing machine today. Besides the above bag, I cut out and completely finished the Mad Hatter jacket. It turned out a little on the small side - the center where the lacing goes is rather far apart. I think once I get the vest done and they are worn together, it won't be too noticeable. It is just a Halloween costume that will get worn 2-3 times at most, so I'm not too worried.

Designer shoes

I've mentioned that I am going to be the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland for Halloween this year. I found a pair of heels online that were super cute for the costume, but they were one-of-a-kind and, needless to say, not within my means to purchase. Anyway, I went secondhand shopping and found these shoes at the Salvation Army. I'm not sure who would ever wear these for real, maybe a square dancer, but I saw potential in them. I bought them for 99¢ and them painted black stripes on the white portion and gold swirls on the red. I am so happy with how they turned out. I think the flats are a better idea than heels anyway because a couple of the parties we go to are outside and heels would be a pain.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

I Heart Goat Cheese

I'm headed to the Downtown Des Moines Farmer's Market this morning. It's one of my favorite things to do all summer and fall. I love all the produce, breads and art, but my absolute favorite thing is the goat cheese. There are a couple of places that make and sell it - all good - but my favorite is Northern Prairie Chevre. Some of my favorite flavors are the cracked pepper, garlic & chives and lemon basil, but they have a wide variety including cranberry horseradish, summertime salsa and honey almond. Their cheese is available online and a few local grocery stores sell it (but for $1.50 more!)

Anyway, my addiction to goat cheese lead me to find Urban Cheesecrafts on Etsy. They sell cheese and DIY cheese making kits, which I am dying to try. I want this one for goat cheese, but they have a number of other kits including a Mozzarella & Ricotta kit and a Paneer & Queso Blanco kit. Each kit has enough supplies (sans milk) to make 10 batches! I think I'll wait until winter when I can't get Northern Prairies so easily and cheaply and I'll let you know how it goes. I figure with 10 tries, I am bound to get at least a couple right. The flavor possibilities and combination are endless!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Last Day for my Giveaway!

It's the last day for you to sign up to win my BOO Halloween frames from Fabulous Fun Finds. You have until Midnight!

Feeling ambitious

Last night I cut out the pattern for the Mad Hatter costume's jacket and vest. I am using a Simplicity pattern for the jacket and vest. Hopefully I will have time this weekend to cut the fabric and get started sewing.

I also want to make some reusable grocery bag prototypes out of some leftover fabric I used to make curtains for my living room and office. One is a red striped heavy weight cotton and the other is yellow and green. I'll post pictures if I get them done. I made one a couple of weeks ago (right) out of some fabric my friend had leftover from a dress she made a couple years ago and it turned out fabulous. I could see people checking it out as I carried it out of the store while running errands over lunch! I made this one out of this Butterick pattern (C - bottom left and upper right) which gave me some ideas for what I want to do if I ever make them to sell on my Etsy page.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Plan

Home To Roost is another shop that uses shapes cut from fabric patterns to give a cute illustration feel. Here are some examples. I really like the two birds and think they'd look awesome with a patterned fabric.

Halloween Paintings

I bought these on Etsy last week and I cannot wait for them to arrive so I can get them put up. I put my Halloween decorations out on Sunday and I have just the spot waiting for them to arrive. They are from Annya 127's shop.

Halloween Costumes

I found this super cute Mad Hatter hat on Etsy at Gypsy Lady Hats. She has a ton of amazing hats.
Last year I was Mrs. Lovett from Sweeney Todd Demon Barber and I wish I would have known about her then. I needed a tiny hat and ended up having to alter the one I final bought.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


I've decided to offer FREE SHIPPING on select items in my Etsy shop from today through Friday.


There are still 2 more days (3 if you count today) to sign up to win my BOO Halloween Frames from Fabulous Fun Finds. All you have to do is comment on her blog about what your favorite thing in my Etsy shop is. You can get extra entries by buying something, tweeting, following her on twitter and a couple of other things. There are 220 entries as of right now!

Let the fabric do the work

As I have been browsing Etsy, I have found a number of talented people cutting shapes from cute fabric to make even cuter appliques. I think these would look great on a canvas reusable shopping bag. Simple but fun. I have seen apples (the ones in the pic are from Northern Warm Things Etsy shop) but also super cute birds, trees and owls, mostly utilizing great patterns. An idea would be to make the appliques from cute fabric, but also sew the canvas bag and apply them before sale, instead of selling the individual appliques, which is already being done.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Halloween Costumes

I am going to be the Queen of Hearts for Halloween. My costume is almost done. I need to make my crown, which I have all the stuff for, but haven't started yet. I am also making a Mad Hatter costume, which I have the fabric for but have not started. I found this ring on Etsy in Sugar Rain Drop's shop and it's so perfect for the costume! I will post pics of both costumes here when I'm finished with them.

Here we go

I've been seasonally selling items on Etsy for a year or two now and I think I'm ready to take another step. I want to have my shop be active all year and not limit myself to August-October for Halloween. My problem is, where do I go from here? Could a Halloween shop be sustained year round? I have a lot of other marketable skills, but do I have the time and energy to constantly keep up with new stuff while still working a full time (and possibly part time) job? I think so.

Here's what I consider to be viable options for paths for my Etsy shop.
1. Graphic Design. This one is a no brainer because I am a professional graphic designer. My concern about this option is that is what I already do for 8 hours a day at work. While I really love designing, I can really only sit in front of a computer for so many hours in a single day. The benefit of going with graphic design is that the end goal of quitting the day job seems more realistic. Plus my dream has always been to have my own graphic design company, designing for me and people who love my aestetic rather than doing advertising and corporate design. The shop could be a combination of readymade and customizable designs.
2. Sewing. My grandma, mom and aunts all seem to sew in one capacity or another and I recently realized I really like sewing and I can do it for more than 10 seconds at a time without getting bored (an amazing feat for someone with the attention span of a gnat!) One of the drawbacks to this idea is that I like to make very affordable products and sometimes that's not feasible because of fabric prices and time involved. There are a lot of options that could be affordable and cute and fun to sew. Some ideas I've had include reusable grocery bags, iPod cases, lunch bags, gift bags and wine carriers. These are all simple sews that can look fantastic with the right fabric choices.
3. Painting.
4. Building.
5. Jewelry.

The last three I have experience with and enjoy doing, but don't really see being able to maintain the shop size, quality and afforability that I want. 

So what now? Anyone out there have any suggestions? I think my plan is to spend now through December 31, 2009, figuring out what my niche is. I'll be posting links here to things I find and like and could possibly put my own twist on. Come January 1, 2010, I'm jumping in, probably head first, without plugging my nose.

The next few months, I am going to stock up on ideas and throw some out there for suggestions, see what sells, what works, what people are interested in. More importantly, see what I think I can sustain for a long period of time without getting bored or running out of ideas. If all goes well, my next goal will be to quit the day job and go full time. Now I'm getting ahead of myself.


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