The clothes made the kid

Maddy's at my mom's for her first sleepover and I'm taking advantage of being child-free to declutter her room.

This means going through all of her outgrown clothes and sorting them. So far I've taken them all out of the various boxes and plastic tubs they've been stored in...and I'm in awe at how much there is. Even though I bought probably half of those clothes, it didn't really sink in until I had them all in front of me how many clothes my almost-19 month old has gone through.

And seeing them all in one place makes me even more determined to make more clothes for Maddy. I've made a few dresses and tops this summer for her, from fairly simple patterns. I'm leery about trying things like pants and shirts with yokes - two things I never quite got in high school home ec. - but if it means saving some money, I'll try it.

I grew up with a mom - and grandmother and aunt - who made a lot of our clothes and have never really been a brand seeker. Sure, I had my favourite brands, but most of those came along once I started buying my own clothes. I'm not saying that how I grew up was better than anyone else, but learning about the quality of garments - especially when you have to pay for them out of your own pocket - is something a lot more people, especially teenagers these days, need to do.

Half that pile in the photo just slid off the couch onto the floor. If I want to have Maddy's room completely cleared out before I sit down and relax with a DVD for the evening, I should probably do something about that. Hrm.


Pin it on

I recently opened an account on Pinterest, a kind of virtual inspriation board. While I'm not the most prolific pinner, I'm loving exploring other people's boards and seeing what they're interested in. I've stuck to mainly design pins, but I think once I figure out how to pin things via my iPod Touch, my pins will start picking up.

I'm about to start doing some more graphic design work (couldn't stop myself...) and just clicking through the different boards being curated by designers and bloggers that I follow has been a massive inspiration. Following trends and seeing what other people like, especially coming across something you've never seen before that just sticks in your brain for days on end, helps stir up the creative juices more than anything else I can think of. But that's me. Sign up for your own Pinterest account and see what you can find to inspire you.

Busy, busy, busy... I think

Pleats! I'm trying pleats! My method isn't exactly traditional, I'm sure, but it works for me. So far.
It's been a busy week so far. But I can't actually remember much of it, beyond Keith having to fix the plumbing in the kitchen after the drain pipe fell apart in his hands. And a nap yesterday that ruined my day. But ask me what we did on Monday and I couldn't tell you a blessed thing.

I do know that I spent some time on Tuesday doing some work...not much, but some. I'm in the process of winding down my shop's Christmas in July sale and starting to get ready for the craft sale season. I've already got a preliminary booking for some custom work from a friend of mine for her family's Christmas gifts, something I didn't expect at all. I haven't really been pushing the custom work option for my work, but maybe it's something I could/should do for friends and family. I mean, it's easier to showcase my work and available fabrics to people I know than ones I don't, at least at this stage, right?

The next couple of months should be pretty busy, with craft sales and just trying to keep on top of opportunities for sales. I'm still thinking of branching out to do some more graphic design work (calendars and gift tags, specifically), but finding time to do that would mean taking time away from the work I already do. Decisions, decisions...

Today is going to *hopefully* be a very busy day, getting half a dozen - if not more - pieces done. First though, I need to clean up my sewing table... I can't keep working under the threat of a fabric avalanche every time I sew a seam. I think it may be time to start seriously looking at a proper organization system... this 'pile it somewhere, I'll find it later' system just doesn't work anymore.


Christmas in July Sale - EXTENDED

This plaid pouch? Yours for only $12 USD. Free shipping, too.
I've decided to extend my Christmas in July sale until the end of the month. It was supposed to end today, but there's been an upswing in traffic and quite a bit of interest, not to mention 2 sales, in the last week. I'm working on a few new pieces over the next couple of days and will definitely be adding them to the sale.

Follow me on Twitter - @nisseworks - to find out when new pieces are listed and for some special surprise deals for Twitter followers only.


A new coat of paint

I'm in the midst of (re)branding my business, so I decided that the happy-happy, lovey-dovey background I had on my Twitter account (you can follow me @nisseworks) had to go. Too bright, too flowery, too cute.

So I changed it this morning.

And I have to say that I'm becoming more of a fan of this cream-brown-green-pink thing I came up with last week, although the pink may have to go, if only because it's getting lost in the cream. It's becoming almost fluorescent it's so bright... hmm.


Up, down, here, there

So yesterday was a rollercoaster of a day. I'm still trying to process a bit of uneasy, but probably good, news I got from my doctor (don't worry, all is well... it's just means a bit of an adjustment) and Keith's mom is coming to visit for few days, so there's housework and then there's a political issue that I've gotten deep into (and can't get out of).

And I sold my first piece on Etsy. WOO HOO.

A lovely buyer from Ontario bought a pouch I'd listed when I first stocked my shop. It was one of my favourites, with the lining print and buttons. I'm kind of sad to see it go, but at the same time, bloody elated I've finally sold something.

So this morning, I wrapped the pouch and a couple of cards up in some recycled tissue paper (I have piles, thanks to having a baby last year) and put it in the mail. I was under the impression that I was going to end up using the entire revenue from the sale on postage, but nope... the Canada Post worker at the mall slid my package right through the 20mm 'slot of doom' no problem. Well, she had to squeeze it a bit, but she was kind of rushed off her feet as she was also manning the mall's customer service desk, all alone. So kudos to you, nice Canada Post/customer service lady :)

And then this:
made the day complete. Thanks, Roger :)

The Christmas in July sale is still going on in my shop until Sunday - free shipping on everything in the Christmas in July section. I'm planning another surprise sale for later this week, too... all depends on how busy we are with Keith's mom and everything, but keep checking back here (or follow me on Twitter - @nisseworks) to find out the pertinent info.


Surprise sale #1 - white summer shoulder bag

Hey, fellow Tweeters! Want a smashing deal on a sweet summer bag?

You can have this bag -

For only $20.

Free shipping, too.

But, there's a catch.

This sale is only for the next hour.

So from now - 4:52pm Central Standard Time - until 5:52pm Central Standard Time (I'm using the time on the computer), this bag can be yours for $20. And free shipping, too... so you're saving probably $20 for a one-of-a-kind, handmade summer bag.

First come, first sold... sorry, no raincheques or holds allowed. Discount will be refunded via PayPal (so you'd "pay" $35 for it, but get $15 + shipping back right away).


ETA: This sale's over, but there will be a few more before the 25th when the CIJ sale wraps up. Follow me on Twitter to find out the details :)

Green thumbing

First harvest of the year - a Manitoba Tomato. It's not that big - about the size of a ping pong ball - but it's the first one that's managed to make it through a slight blight infestation that's attacked at least one of my plants. But it's a garden tomato... mmm.

And my lavender! Oh, my sweet, sweet lavender... this is the third time I've tried to grow lavender in my many years of gardening. This is the first time I haven't killed it within a month of planting it. It's flowering - as the photo shows - and sprouting and strong... and it smells so wonderful.

I'm already making plans on how to keep it alive through our winter, which may prove to be a bit more of a challenge for me than most people. Not only do I procrastinate like a pro, the way our backyard is landscaped (and I use that term very loosely), the lavender (and my only yellow rose bush) is in the lowest point of the yard. Our backyard is essentially a bowl-shape so everything tends to collect right where the lavender is; add in the windtrap that the backyard becomes in the winter and waist-deep snow and keeping this particular lavender plant alive - and thriving next year - will be a battle worth winning.

Today's a pretty hectic day for us - we're heading out of town this afternoon for doctor's appointments (yes, I live in a city of 50,000, but my family doctor is 45 minutes away in a small town of 1,500... yay, Canadian healthcare!) and supper at my parent's, so instead of listing a new piece I don't have time to finish properly, I'm going to have a surprise deal announced via Twitter - @nisseworks - this afternoon (within the next 5 hours). Follow me on Twitter and you can have a chance for an amazing deal on something in my shop.

And a new design for the blog! I like it, after all the hiccups last evening... clean, not flashy, simple. I give it 3 months before I change it again :)



So I've learned my lesson about hitting 'Apply to Blog' when doing a redesign.

I'd fix it now, but my living room currently looks like a disaster area. Hopefully I'll have a chance to get back to this tonight, but it may be a couple of days until I have more than a few minutes to dedicate to it.

That said, have a good week!

ETA: Somehow managed to get my old template back, as unappealing as it is. That said, I may spend the rest of the evening attempting to tweak it and not press 'Apply to Blog' before I'm happy with it.

This is all to avoid doing any sewing tonight. I figure I'm doing work that I've been putting off for a while, just not anything that can help make money. At least directly :)

(Just a reminder, my shop's Christmas in July sale is still going on - free shipping on everything in the 'Christmas in July' section - check it out now!)


Not quite two turtle doves...

Day 2 of the Christmas in July sale on Etsy. In my shop, there's free shipping on everything in the Christmas in July section, but my Twitter followers (I'm @nisseworks) will have the first dibs on some great surprise deals between now and July 25th. What kind of deals? Well, I can't tell you that because then it wouldn't be a surprise, would it?

There's still lots of other items in my shop available, too, just not part of the Christmas in July sale. And many, many, MANY other Etsy sellers are participating in the Christmas in July sale. Check out this Etsy blog post for more info.

I'm aiming to have a lot of new pieces listed in my sale section this weekend, as well has some different - ie. things that aren't pouches, wallets or bags - listed. Watch my shop or follow me on Twitter to stay up to date.


Just for all the eager beavers out there...

It's here - Christmas in July Sale in my Etsy shop. Be sure to check it out for some great deals (if I do say so myself...) - right now, it's free shipping on all the pieces in the Christmas in July section of my shop.

Follow me on Twitter - @nisseworks - to watch for surprise deals (like killer deals... if I'm organized enough) and to keep up with the new pieces being introduced during the sale.

The Christmas in July Sale in my shop runs from July 15 to 25. If you have any questions, drop me a line, either via email, in the comments here or on Twitter. I'll try to help... or at least try to bullshit my way to an answer :)


Taking it in stride

This mountain of fabric is hopefully going to be turned into pin cushions/keepers, needle books, lanyards and key fobs soon. When I find time... I hope.

I had plans to use July as the month where I was only going to make pieces for the craft shows I was entering this fall. It's the 12th and I've got nothing done. Procrastination is no longer the problem, it's everything else that is.

In amongst my need to get organized and keep to a schedule is a few health issues that are not making things easy. It's not anything dire, I just need to find a good way to work within my means. Sleep is something I seem to need a lot of lately - I've been asleep by 9pm most nights lately, but not sleeping for more than a couple of hours at a time, until 6 or 7am when Maddy gets up. It's a struggle and there's a feeling of guilt that's starting to grow because of it.

But enough about that... if things go according to plan this week - and I've learned they never do, but let's say they might this time - I'll be working all day Wednesday on my craft sale pieces, as well as putting some finishing touches on my Christmas in July sale in my Etsy shop. Be sure to keep an eye out for some great deals, not only in my shop, but in many of the shops on Etsy.

I need to make a grocery list for our day of shopping and visiting and playing, so I'm going to step away from the computer and have a massive cup of coffee. Or two. Depends on how interested Maddy is in climbing all over me this morning.

Have a good week!


Drip drip drop...

With all the work that I put into my Etsy shop, I tend to forget that I've got a photoblog that I need to work on, too... the photos I post on there are available for sale, as well, but I'm not posting pictures I've taken only for profit. I like taking pictures and our backyard has provided me many great opportunities to do just that... and why not show everyone the many shots of the daisies I've got in my backyard, from every angle possible?

There's only a week before I plan on kicking off my Christmas in July sale in my shop, so I've got tons of work to do - banners, display ads for my Project Wonderful account, promotions, and most importantly, what specials I'm going to put on. There's also all the pieces I have finish before next Thursday, but all that work is on the backburner for now.

And there's all the non-work stuff we've got going on for the rest of the week - heading out to my parent's, Maddy's 18-month vaccinations, attempting to organize various parts of the house, golf tournaments... whew. I miss summer holidays somedays...


Slight adjustments

It's a beautifully gorgeous day here and I'm stuck inside, catching up on the paperwork for my shop that I've been putting off for 3 months.

I know, no one to blame but myself and I have to get it done today as there's quite a few listings that expire tomorrow. I plan on reviewing the pricing for everything - all 34 pieces - and will likely end up adjusting them. And they will probably end up higher than they are today... so if you had your eye on a piece in my shop, get it today before the prices go up (hint, hint).

This post from Crafting an MBA (a must-read website for any crafting entrepreneur) about making a profit with your business really hit home for me. While I'm pretty new at business-running, I've worked in businesses and know that in order to keep running, they need to make a profit; so why is it so difficult for crafters, especially those that want to make selling their wares their business, to want admit that making money is a good thing? That's kind of a convoluted sentence, but my point (and their's too, I guess) is this: why should I cut my own proverbial throat (ie. profit margin) just because I make something in my home/garage/workshop?

For me, I worry that my work isn't worth as much as I should potentially charge for it. I'm sure many others are in the same boat, especially when - like me - they may compare their handmade work to something that can be found in a major department store (for me, it's Wal-mart). They - the major stores - can make a profit by charging $5 for a piece because they can produce 1,000 of them for a fraction of the cost, thanks to cheap labour/materials/shipping; I make virtually the same piece, by hand, and can't make a profit (which I've been taught time and time again should be 40%) without charging $20. Who wins the hearts of the everyday shopper?

I've recently added a button to the sidebar from BuyHandmade.org, an awesome collective that encourages people to purchase handmade as often as possible. My aim this year is to only give Christmas gifts that are handmade... a rather brave proclamation, but one that's completely doable. Craft sale season starts after Labour Day here and there's always online shops that have some amazing ideas for almost everyone on your list. Or potentially everyone... kids generally aren't too keen on getting handcrafted gifts. Maddy has little to no choice right now... she's already got quite a few handmade toys (like these) and I plan on making or buying many, many more in the future. And handmade toys can usually go through the wash, unlike the mass produced generic stuff in stores.

Well, now that I've had my rant for the day, it's time to finally get to work on the dreaded spreadsheets and get my shop back on track. Be sure to visit my shop next week during Etsy's Christmas in July sale, starting on July 15 and running to the 25th... I'm aiming to have at least one new piece in my shop every day, along with a couple of surprises for holiday early birds. I'll be sure to post here during the sale, as well, highlighting the deals and special surprises I've got in store.


Sweltering & sewing...

A selection of fabrics I picked up during my last shopping 'spree'... is it really a 'spree' when the only 
thing you buy is 4 yds of fabric for $12? If you're saving $20+, heck yes :)

Now that June's over and July is nicely - if stickily - underway, it's time for me to start working on my craft sale projects.

As I've mentioned before, I'm going to branch out a bit and try to put together some different pieces to offer for sale at a couple of local sales this fall. I've been faithfully keeping scraps of fabric just for these projects so I shouldn't have to actually buy much - if any - fabric to do them up. Of course, that all depends on the pattern I end up using.

My mom's a faithful magazine keeper (and she wonders where I got my pack-ratting traits from...), so there's a chance I'll find something from pre-1980 to try. I've been a fan of TipNut for a while, and their collections of patterns is quite handy, and they just happen to have a list of pincushion patterns... however, I refuse to use anyone else's pattern for profit, unless given permission. But for inspiration? No problem at all.

There are some times, though, where pieces are bound to be copied, if only through either sheer ignorance or there only being a limited number of ways a piece can be made. Completely unique and original ideas shouldn't be copied... but used for inspiration? Why not? Heck, I'd take it as a compliment, if anything.  But that's just me.

Back to the topic at hand... this weekend doesn't look like it's going to be too busy, so I may actually get something done. On my to-do list this weekend:
  • finally get a new blog banner designed
  • finish up a few pouches that I just keep moving around and around... and around
  • list a tote I've had on my desk for almost 2 weeks
  • find/design patterns for craft sale pieces
Hope everyone has a good (and safe) weekend... we'll be either sweltering, starting up a mosquito smacking league or building an ark up here :)

Of maple syrup and hockey...

Happy 143rd, my home and native land :)

Today is also the half-way point of 2010, the perfect time for me to review the first six months of the year.

Most importantly, on a personal level, it's a day I'm spending with Maddy at my parent's, relaxing and enjoying the day. Have a fun, safe day with your family and friends, too :)