Monday, October 31, 2011

Let's Talk Turkeys

Monday, October 31, 2011
I am in the process of finishing up an order for some Thanksgiving blocks and figurines.  This involves making turkeys.  Lots and lots of turkeys.  This brings me to my question.  Do you like the tall feathers or the short feathers?  I have typically made the turkey feathers tall, but this year I decided to experiment with shorter feathers- and I think I quite like the look of it.  I would love your opinion:
Tall
Or Short?
I will probably end up making some of each, but I'd like to know if there is a trend toward one style or the other.
And here is the whole Thanksgiving crew.  You can see that one couple is still missing their legs, but over all I think they're pretty cute.  The blocks they sit on say "Gobble Gobble", but I may make a set or two that say "Happy Thanksgiving" because with the addition of the turkeys- the set is quite large.
And since we're taking about giving thanks- can I just say that I'm thankful Halloween is over and I can move on to the next fire in my life? :)  
Just keep swimming.....

XOXO,
Amy

Friday, October 28, 2011

Point of View Reveal- Burlap

Friday, October 28, 2011
The collage this month is just awesome.  Camilla is the genius behind each of our collages each month and she does an amazing job each time! :)
When thinking about burlap, the possibilities are endless- and a glance over the variety of projects in our Point of View reveal this month is a good example.  See something that catches your eye?  Check out one or more of the projects by clicking on the links below:
Leanne at Organize and Decorate Everything
Gwen at Gwenny Penny
Angie (our awesome guest poster- Please show her some comment love!) from The Country Chic Cottage
Camilla from Rosy Red Buttons
Amy (don't go anywhere)
Michelle at A Little Tipsy
I went to the launch of Amanda Herrings' new fabric line- Delighted for Riley Blake last week.  The samples she had made up were amazing!  One of my favorite things was the banner lined with burlap and topped with quilted pennants.  The contrast between the quilter weight cotton and the burlap was terrific and inspired my project this week!
Want to make your own burlap centered accent flower?  I'm here to help. :)

This tutorial is pretty simple- you can adjust the size of the flower by changing the size of the circle you use.  I am using a charm pack of Gobble Gobble from Moda that I had on hand, so I chose a circle that would fit on the 5" square.
1.  Trace your circle on the wrong side of the fabric.  2.  Cut out the circle with pinking shears (this will save you needing to clip the curves later)  3.  Fold in half and sew along the outer edge.  4.  Using sharp scissors, cut along the folded straight edge.  Make an approx 1" hole.
Next you will need to turn the petal right-side out.  (repeat for all five petals)
Sew a gather stitch (long running stitch) along the straight edge of the petal and gather.
I lined my burlap with a scrap of natural colored cotton.  Cut out a circle the same size as the petals and run a gathering stitch around the edge.
Pull the gather stitches to make a pouch and  put a small amount of fiber fill inside- tie it off so it's closed.
To make the flower I just used some pearl cotton and a running stitch to sew the petals onto the center.  Depending on what you're going to use the flower for, you can finish the back of the flower with felt, paper or another center to make it double sided.

On this tote- I sewed the flower directly onto the bag.  I think it makes a fun accent to this girly bag- and the contrast with the burlap really makes the cotton fabrics stand out.
What would you use these flowers for?
So, now you've seen my Point of View on burlap- what's yours?  Visit Michelle's blog at A Little Tipsy to link up your projects that use burlap and get your Point of View heard! :)
XOXO,
Amy

Thursday, October 27, 2011

A Quick Rundown

Thursday, October 27, 2011
It started with a preschool trip to the pumpkin patch.  (right in the middle of Red Ribbon Week).  Followed by Fall Break from school.
 During Fall break we celebrated a birthday.  A pretty significant birthday.  8 years is pretty old.  Many thanks to Amy from Increasingly Domestic for the fantastic birthday balloon idea- it was a major hit!
I needed some pics of my banner for my boutique.  I think I like this one. :)  The best part of the setup?  It only cost me about $20 for the whole thing because most of what you see I already had on hand.  I like to fill up the candy jars with the special birthday child's favorite treats and snacks for a day of indulging- which is where the majority of the cost went.  Plus $.97 for balloons. ;)
Ummm... I think he liked it. :)
This week we've been busy getting ready for our ward Halloween Party (held last night).  I was asked to be in charge of the decorations.  How do you decorate a huge Cultural Hall with a budget of $0?
 Dead tree limbs!  I put a large branch in each of the accordion doors and decorated them with my lights and other decorations.  They looked great.
And the centerpieces?  2X4 blocks of wood painted orange with a stick stem glued on top and tied with a raffia bow.  3 per table for 30 tables= a LOT of pumpkins!  Luckily I have many AMAZING friends who dropped everything and helped me paint, sand, glue and tie!  They turned out wonderfully.  I gave most of them to my friends who helped, but I still probably have about 30 pumpkins left!  Wonder what I should do with all of them?  I'm thinking Thanksgiving centerpieces. ;)

In the middle of all of this there has been production for the boutique (pics coming soon), head colds and Point of View projects, plus I was able to attend the launch party for Amanda Herring's new line of fabric for Riley Blake- Delighted.  It was wonderful!  Tonight is my Grandfather's 80th birthday party and a blog event I may or may not attend.  Then on to more production for the boutique.  I need inventory my friends and it's not happening as fast as I want it to! 

So if I sound a little flustered or out of control- it's simply because I am.  I keep hearing Dory- "Just keep swimming, just keep swimming!"  I wonder if I should be worried that now I'm hearing voices.

Enjoy your weekend and Halloween if I don't pop in before then!
XOXO,
Amy

Friday, October 21, 2011

Craziness

Friday, October 21, 2011
It's pretty unusual for me to go more than a week without posting.  I miss the conversation that being online generates in my life.  It has been incredibly busy over in these parts the last couple weeks.  I found myself in charge of our school's celebration of Red Ribbon Week with a friend of mine and it took place this past week.  It was insane.  It doesn't help that neither one of us are willing to settle for the easy way out (although many times we both wondered why we didn't just do the simple way).  So we found ourselves spending hours counting, stapling and running around creating a gigantic paper chain that it took the entire 6th grade to move.  (our 6th grade has over 130 kids)  But, we felt it was successful and that the kids really understood what Red Ribbon Week was about by the time it was over.  {for those of you who are wondering that yourselves- Red Ribbon Week is when the school focuses on helping the children learn to say NO to drugs.}  I am so happy it is over I can't even tell you. :)
Now it's on to bigger and better things.  An 8 year old birthday, decorating for our neighborhood Halloween party, games for class parties, costumes, boutique inventory, Grandpa's 80th birthday, a baptism, starting cub scouts and all the rest of the normal everyday stuff. 
Life tends to be busy anyway, but the past few weeks have been ridiculous.  Needless to say there's not a lot of creative creating going on around here.  However- I have been carving out a bit of time to start working on my Point of View project using BURLAP.  The reveal and link party is next week so I hope you will play along. 
And one last item of business- If you didn't win my Felt Bat Pillow and would like another shot at it- I am giving on away over at Karen's Monster Craft Bash on Pocket Full of Pink.  The giveaway will go live this afternoon (Friday). 
So happy Friday.  Enjoy your weekend and we'll see you next week! :)
xoxo,
Amy

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Revamped Side Tie Pillow

Wednesday, October 12, 2011
This felt is just gorgeous.  I wish I could take credit for finding it, but it was in my Mother-in-law's stash.  The weight is just beautiful and the color is the perfect shade of gray.
In preparing for the boutique I decided to make another one of these pillows to sell.  In the process I had had a few small strips of the felt left over.  I didn't want this gorgeous fabric to go to waste, so I improvised:
And made it double sided. :)  Now you can have the bows in the front, or the subtle, tone-on-tone graphic in the front.
Which side would you choose?
XOXO,
Amy
p.s. the voting in up for the Craft Challenge I made the Halloween Banner for.  I would love it if you would click over and vote for your favorite craft by leaving a comment on the post.  Thanks a bunch (even if you don't vote for me. ;) )

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

So You Want to Sell? {Part 2} What to Sell

Tuesday, October 11, 2011
You've found a place to sell, so now what?  Well, you need something to sell!  Many vendors sell one or two things- stick with a niche and go for it.  But other vendors, like me, make a wide range of items to sell and narrowing down the inventory can be tricky.
If you sell one thing or many, chances are there is still some variety in what you make, fabric selection, color ways, sizes.  So one way or the other choices need to be made. :)
How do you decide what fabric to buy?  What size to make more of?  How many of each to make?
Well, truth be told, it's always just a guess.  Even the big box stores guess- but theirs isn't some draw a number out of a hat kind of guess- it's an educated guess based on their customers, past history, etc.
When preparing inventory for an event you will need to think about the season, the purpose of the selling event, your previous sales, etc.
Let me give you an example.  My last boutique was held at the end of September.  I make seasonal items, so I made up some of my Halloween blocks and figurines, some throw pillows, Happy Birthday banners, seasonal banners and added in some inventory I had on hand from previous shows. 
My figurines are a higher end item, but I still sold 3 sets of them.  The blocks are a lower price point and they all sold out.  The decorative pillows, even though they were a higher priced item sold well.  Happy Birthday banners were a hit too.
Now, looking forward to my next boutique- what do I emphasize?  I only have 5 weeks (less now) to create a new inventory, so I need to be careful about where I put my time and energy.  The next show will be the first week of November.  It is a Holiday Gift Show.  People will be coming to buy gifts for the holiday season, not necessarily for themselves.  So, here is my thinking: 
 I will still have some decorative pillows but not a ton, I don't anticipate them being a huge seller at this show.  I am making a lot of my small tote bags- they are great for scriptures, purses and totes for little girls- with a lower price point ($18) I think they will do well.  I am making my seasonal items, but focusing more on the blocks ($20) than the figurines ($36), but I will make sure I do have some of both.  And I will have both Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays featured.  I am making Birthday banners, and showing how to present them as a gift by including a couple "Birthday boxes" which are a kit that includes a banner, cupcake liners, balloons, streamers and candles.  I don't expect to sell many of the boxes, but I hope it will encourage people to pick up a banner and make their own box as a gift.  I am also introducing some smaller priced items, like my clipboards, fabric covered notebooks and small zipper pouches.  This will help fill the market for the under $15 price point (friend gifts, neighbors, teachers etc.)  I will still have some big totes available for the "I'm just going to buy my own gift from the hubby" shopper as well as some home dec items for the shopper who likes having unique decor but I won't have too many of either- I'll save that focus for a spring show when people are looking to splurge on themselves and their homes.
So, in a nutshell, my advice?  Think about what your shoppers are looking for and do your best to give it to them.  Think about what you're looking for at the particular season/ event, look around local retailers and see what they're focusing on.  Spend some time online and it's easy to figure out what's on trend at any given time.  It's tempting to just go for it and make what you want and like most to make, but if you put in some thought and research before hand- you'll end up with a much more successful show!
Let me know if you have any other questions about this topic or any other, and I'll do my best to answer them.
Good Luck Selling!
xoxo,
Amy

Monday, October 10, 2011

The Budding Barber {Mom-day}

Monday, October 10, 2011

 When I saw the first pile, I was a little worried.  By the time I discovered the 5th or 6th pile, I was afraid to look at the finished product...

 But- I just had to look....

Yikes!
I almost cried.  Her hair is so long.  And yes, that is her scalp.  I'm still not sure how to fix it.  Right now I strategically place her clips and ponytails to cover the worst of it, but she has tiny little clumps of hair all over her head.  It would take a pixie cut of epic proportions to get it all one length, and it wouldn't cover her scalp if it was that short. :(  Any ideas or suggestions?
Motherhood has no easy answers, that's one thing I know for sure. :)  Happy Mom-day!

XOXO,
Amy

Thursday, October 6, 2011

So you want to sell? {part 1} Where to Sell

Thursday, October 6, 2011
So, since I have another month of major production time, tutorials will be pretty thin for the next few weeks.  That doesn't mean I don't have information to share with you.
I was asked in an earlier post to share any advice I might have about craft fairs/ boutiques/ set up/ packaging etc.  I have decided to have a series of posts sharing what I have learned in my 10 year adventure in crafting and selling.
I am by no means an expert.  I do not make anywhere near a full time income from crafting (this is on purpose- right now my full time job is Mom).  It has taken me about 7 years to get to a point where I can count on decent sales from a show.  I am also still learning things, growing and adjusting what I do.  I hope this information will help some of you.
The first topic is about choosing where to sell.  I don't know about you, but many times when I share something I've made with someone else they say, "You should sell this!  Have you ever thought about having a booth at X,Y or Z event?"  When I first started out I would get very excited and think- "Yes!  I should sell there there's a ton of people who attend this event!"  and I'd look into it, perhaps even spend $ for a booth (not very often on that one- you'll soon learn that I'm doing this the hard way) only to have dismal sales that left me discouraged and often in the hole financially.
It was frustrating and hard.  I didn't understand why my stuff wasn't selling.  (I should let you know that when I first started out I was making and selling greeting cards, I moved on to home decor items using paper and wood and only in the last 3-4 years have added sewn items to my inventory, in the middle of all that I also had a home based book selling business that utilized some of the same placement strategies)  It took me a while to realize that not all booths are the same.  Sure there are some that cost more than others, but there is another major difference I didn't think about for a while.

That difference is the crowd.  Why are people attending the event?  Are they there to look around, go on rides, collect free stuff?  Are they bringing children, shopping or playing?  Let me give you a couple examples.
My neighbor asked me to head downtown to the Farmers' Market.  We had to leave at 3:30 a.m. to stake our claim for a free spot.  We got set up, froze and waited.  People came, snatched up my neighbor's goodies and walked by mine.  Frustrating.  Here's why.  People going to the farmer's market are going for produce, flowers and baked goods.  They are there secondly to see any arts and crafts booths that might be available.  They are going to buy things that emotionally appeal to them, or that have a price point they can justify.  Items that would do well in this situation are things geared toward children (my neighbor was selling embellished onesies) , accessories and inexpensive items.  There are always exceptions to every rule, but if you are thinking "my farmer's market has a really strong arts and crafts community"- then your farmer's market has morphed into a "boutique" which is another beast entirely and these assessments don't apply. :)

The same analysis holds true for community events.  My city holds a week long celebration the first week of June every year.  There is a carnival, vendor booths, food and entertainment.  People are not coming to shop.  They are coming to take children on rides, eat cotton candy and peruse the booths- mostly to get the free propaganda that they are handing out. (I know that's why we go through the booths)  Most of the vendors in the booths are advertising their business, NOT selling handmade items.  Sellers who do well are selling toys, children's accessories and jewelry.  My booth would not do very well. (price points are too high for this event, and my inventory is not geared toward impulse purchases)

And last, but not least, is my evaluation process for boutique spaces.  You can find a place in a boutique for as little as $15 and upwards of $900- that's quite a range!  A very broad generalization of how to decide which one to pursue is "You get what you pay for".  You need to think about your budget, your inventory and your time.  Is this boutique close to you?  Do you have enough stuff to sell to make back the entrance fee?  Most of the time a higher priced boutique charges what they do because they have established a strong following and customer base.  Typically they put a lot of effort into publicizing their event and they have a pretty good handle on what the sales figures for booths will be.  In other words- they have people who are coming to SHOP!  A good way to find good boutiques are to go to them.  Look around, are there people there?  Are they buying things?  Another good source is other vendors.  Talk to them about where they sell their stuff.  Most vendors sell at more than one boutique and they are generally a helpful and open bunch.

Like I said at the beginning of this post- I am no expert.  But I have learned the hard way more than once that some booths just aren't worth the money you spend. :)  Think about who is there and what they are there for before deciding to spend money on a space.
I'd love to hear any other advice or suggestions you have out there.  Tips or tricks for finding good spaces to sell?
Coming up in this series I will be talking about what to sell, packaging ideas and booth set up.  Let me know if you have any other suggestions for topics you'd like to see discussed.
Here's to a wonderful Holiday selling season. :)
XOXO,
Amy
Linked up to Home Stories from A2Z.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Black and white Damask Pillow

Wednesday, October 5, 2011
I just finished this last night.  I needed to use up the black thread on my bobbin so I could sew another gray side tie pillow.  {I know sad, right?  I should just buy more bobbins. :) }  I am loving the french piping, but I definitely need to figure out the corners better.  Any good tutorials out there?  This pillow measures 12" X17".
This fabric is just yummy!
It's going in the inventory pile for the boutique.
I'd love your opinion.  Like it- don't like it- make more- one's good?
Have a Happy Wednesday!
XOXO,
Amy
Linked to Look What I Made! at Kreations by Kara and the Link Party at The Idea Room Tickled Pink at 504 Main

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Giveaway Winner

Sunday, October 2, 2011
The winner of the Batty felt pillow is Andi @Jane of All Crafts!  Thanks to everyone who entered, and who reads this blog.  I adore all of you.
Andi, I'll be in touch, unless you get in touch first! :)
xoxo,
Amy

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Autumn Point of View Features

Saturday, October 1, 2011
It's time for my favorite post of the month.  The one where I get to feature a couple of my favorite projects that were linked up to the Autumn Point of View Link Party.  This month we had a goal to get to 50 links, well, we hit 49- so I'll take it!! :)  There are some great projects linked up- I hope you'll go check them out.
My first pick will come as no surprise- it's a pillow!
I love this pillow submitted by Chris from Pickup Some Creativity!  I love the circles, love the colors, love the quilting- pretty much love everything. :)
The next feature is from a blog I really enjoy -Fowl Single File (isn't her blog name great?)- she linked up some fun nature themed kids crafts.
Aren't these Nut Critters cute?  She also linked up some leaf dragonflies that I really liked.
Thank you again to everyone who linked up.  I love seeing your Point of View every month!  Next month the theme is Burlap- so dig out those old posts, or come up with a new project and come join in the fun!
XOXO,
Amy
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