Happy holidays to you and yours!
I'm not really someone who believes in New Year's resolutions but I am definitely someone who believes in fresh starts. Since most of us are reluctant to embrace change, starting something completely new comes with a lot of anxiety. However, I want to resolve to not only start many new things but to be excited about them. As the new year approaches (naturally) I've started to think about all this. I have already experienced many fresh starts in the past year: learning to sew, starting my Etsy shop, learning to quilt, moving, ending my academic career (I'm trying to focus on this as a beginning, not an end), etc. I realize that even on my most frustrating days, I have a lovely life and am a very fortunate person. I am happy, healthy, and surrounded by people I love and who love me back, and have many adventures ahead. While many of us have had a tough time this past year financially, emotionally, etc. I do hope that people can take a moment and be happy and thankful for what they do have. I apologize for the cheese factor in this but it's been on my brain. I went to a friend's art show last night, her master's thesis show, and was blown away by her work. I was also blown away that despite living in different cities and at times not connecting for months on end, it felt completely normal to see her. Don't you love that? And please check out her art, it's AMAZING.
So here's to a fresh start: many new projects await, books to be read, a great job is out there somewhere...
Helloooooooo! I've missed you all. But I'm FINALLY back after a long hiatus. Things have been super busy but all is good.
I've now relocated (finally!) to New York City. This had been my plan since finishing school last May. My sweetie had to start his new job in the middle of last month so after whirlwind apartment hunting, crazy traveling around the globe (unrelated, but added to the mayhem), and a big move we are here and happy and loving our new home. NYC has always been one of my favorite places in the world. I spent a lot of time here as a child and lived here for a few years before grad school and now I'm back, living in a GREAT apartment with my awesome boyfriend and our wonderful little dog.
Now if only I had space to put my sewing table...
So I realize this post isn't very focused on LittleOliveBranch but in a way it is. With the move, it was very hard to keep making items for the shop so I sort of missed out on the holiday shopping season. While it would have been nice, I feel like there's still so much for me to do regarding my products, shop, brand, etc. that I'm sort of OK with it. I had a little table set up at a craft fair last weekend but it was pretty small and sort of off the beaten path so not a lot of exposure (though had a GREAT time meeting up with old friends and making new ones). Always a learning experience.
So as we approach the new year, I will be working on my products and my shop to make it all more cohesive. I am also, as many of you know, truly a knitter (sewing is a new love!) and am seriously considering selling knitwear too. This is a MUCH bigger time committment but my skill level is significantly higher and I find that market to be more accessible. My only reluctance comes from the fact that my Etsy shop is not my full time job so we will have to see how things go. In the meantime, I continue to look for aforementioned job, more related to my academic/professional experience.
But I will always be crafting away, even if it's in the corner of our "living room."
(Note: We do indeed have a fabulous apartment - duplex with 2 full bathrooms - but as of yet only really have half a living room. Bookshelves are full, TV is set up, but we are waiting on "grown up furniture" which is supposed to arrive sometime in February. For now, it's a bit of a dorm feel but it's still home.)
Yay! I'm making major progress on my fall items. Below is a preview (and a picture of my some of my leftover fabric) of some items that will be available soon in the shop. The third photograph features my first bag of original design - woohoo!
I'm guessing that for those of you who don't sew, you aren't fully aware of the the entire process, start of finish of how I make bags. I thought I'd enlighten you today!
First and foremost, choosing fabric is no small feat. Personally (as you can see from my shop) I lean toward bold, modern fabrics or fabrics with ethnic flair. Most bags that I make require about 2 yards of fabric total, which isn't very much. Other items needed to actually make the bags are magnetic snaps and lobster hooks (purchased from suppliers, usually on Etsy), interfacing to line the fabric (from a fabric store, usually Joann Fabrics) as well as coordinating thread. Then I have to choose a pattern. I'm currently in the beginning stages of designing my own bags! Right now, I use patterns that allow me to sell the finished products (usually crediting the author) and am working on designing my own, stemming from all that I've learned from the patterns I've already used. Then I have to wash, dry and iron the fabric. This is actually a nice part - there is something wonderful about simply handling the fabric! Then it's time to place the pattern, pin, and cut. I must do the same for the interfacing. Then, since I used fusible interfacing, I iron the coordinating pieces to the fabric cuts and voila! Ready to sew. As you can see, most of the work that goes into making a bag is actually prep work. The actual sewing doesn't take too long! While I sew, I like to listen to NPR or music, though lately I've been sewing in silence. I've found it's a wonderful, calming time. I'm INCREDIBLY fortunate to have a whole separate room in my house that's just for sewing and other crafts. It really makes the exercise of going to sew and meditation/escape. The room colored in a warm, soothing brown, which a couch and a window air conditioner to keep it cool.
Once the bags are done, it's time for pictures for Etsy. Stay tuned - LOTS of new items will be appearing in my shop over the holiday weekend.
Hope you enjoyed today's lesson. :-)
...the travel bug, that is! I've been very fortunate in my life to have had many opportunities to travel. As a child, my family had a time share in the Caribbean, which spoiled me on warm ocean waters. I've lived in Europe and Africa and have traveled all over the US. My sweetie is heading to India this fall, as he too loves to travel. My sister is studying in Italy and we're planning to go see her in November! I can't wait!
My favorite trips have definitely been to Africa, and I have a special place in my heart for African crafts/textiles. I always loved the brightly colored fabrics and prints that are worn by many African women. There was an amazing little fabric shop near my house when I lived there that I purchased a number of bags from - and am now sorry I didn't stock up on fabric! I've purchased some beautiful African fabric from Etsy to make fall items - mostly wax prints, but am looking for shwe shwe too. Here are some previews! (P.S. No wonder I love Tina Givens - she's from Southern Africa!)
I think this may have been the shortest summer ever. We've had TERRIBLE weather here in the Northeast and while fall is definitely my favorite season, I'm not quite ready for it to arrive yet. I still have a closet full of cute sundresses that have barely been worn?
I will always think of fall as symbolizing beginnings. Things have been slow in my shop so I'm going to put a lot of the summer stuff on sale and am currently hard at work on the fall stuff. Here are some of the fabrics that I plan on using for fall bags!
I had my first sale in Little Olive Branch! Woohoo! A friend from high school bought my favorite bag in the shop, which she said she'll be giving to her maid of honor as a thank you present. What a great idea!
In other news, a fellow Etsian contacted me about selling my bags in a new boutique she'll be opening that features handmade goods. I'm so honored. :)
I recently bought some new patterns (on Etsy, of course) and am gearing up to make some cute new fall bags. I also purchased some new, fall-themed fabric (darker colors) and am really excited to get sewing. Unfortunately, our dryer is broken at the moment so I'll have to wait... All the fabric needs to be washed and dried first. Fortunately, the repair man is coming today so hopefully I'll be able to start tonight! I'm also working on some cute headbands, wall hangings, and small pouches.
On a totally un-sewing-related note, I got another tattoo yesterday (only had one before) and I love it! Tattoos fascinate me as an art form. The guy who did mine was the same one who did my first one and he's VERY detail oriented and careful (and clean, for all the germ-phobes). I've been thinking about it for a while and chose to get "Aya" from the Adinkra alphabet as it symbolizes wisdom, resourcefullness, and strength in times of difficulty. It's a fern, and the means really is interpreted from the fact that ferns are capable of growing in even the darkest, dreariest conditions. I'm really happy with how it turned out. What do you think?
As I mentioned in my last post, I'm working on new stuff for fall. I've been really progressing with my quilting (I've finished one completely, as you saw, and have now finished 2 tops and am all set to start cutting a 4th!) and have decided to make wall hangings for my shop. I say wall hangings because I have TONS of beautiful scraps and they'd be perfect for smaller quilts. I like to think I have good taste in color and design (the quilts will be simple but nice) so I'm going to give it a go. My mom, one of the most creative people I know (and the person who turned me on to many of my favorite craft hobbies - she taught me to knit over 10 years ago) is really almost ready to start making stuff for her own shop. She has GREAT taste in design and if she wasn't injured (long-term back injury) and didn't have to work (she's a social worker) I know she'd already have a shop full of beautiful items. She already established her shop name and asthetic - all she has to do is make stuff! Right now we have more fabric in this house than anyone can even imagine.
Speaking of crafting, a woman from my community found my shops on Etsy and emailed me information about a local craft show happening in October. I'm so excited to participate! While I hope to have moved on to NYC by then, I still plan on coming back here just for the show. I need to really make a LOT more in order to have a fully stocked booth (the show is a full Saturday long in a community that's definitely allows people to buy stuff). I'm really excited! I'm going to have a "booth" that's about 4.5 x 8 feet so I'm thinking I need to make a banner for the table. Any suggestions?
One of the toughest things in the online world is making sure people know you exist. Since I've started my shop(s), I've begun using so many different mediums of networking/advertsing to get my name out there, in the hopes that it will "pop" but one never really knows how long that will take. So far I've used Twitter, Flickr, Facebook, developed my own website through Soopsee (and bought the domain name), and obviously through Showcases on Etsy. I also just bought a "spot" on Craft Cult and am thinking about doing the same on Craftopolis since they both report having a lot of traffic. Any other suggestions?
I've gotten many positive responses to my website - thank you so much for all the feedback! You guys are what drives my creativity. Keep it comin'. :)
I'm starting to think ahead for fall/early winter designs. In my last post, I talked about developing new knitting projects but I didn't mention that I'll be continuing to make sewing projects as well. Here are a few fabrics that I'm thinking of using for new items. Thoughts? Suggestions? All are welcome!
(All fabrics - as you can see - are samples from QuiltHome's website.)
So now that I have finished my first quilt, I think I'm hooked! I also finished the top of another quilt (I know, I know) using Tina Givens fabric (her Zazu line). I'm partial to her stuff, not only because it's awesome but because she's from Southern Africa, a place that holds a special spot in my own heart. (To see more about my time in South Africa last year, please visit my other blog!) Anyway, my Mom bought this pattern from another Etsian and it has GREAT instructions. I finished the top (pictures to come) but think that I'll pay someone to do long-arm quilting on it. The craziness of the prints just scream for something other than quilting around the edges (which is all I'm up to doing).
Anyway, I have 2 more quilts in the works! One is a kit from
Hancocks-Paducah by Timeless Treasures that's called "Central Park" so I'm going to make it for our apartment in anticipation of the big move to NYC. Here's what it's going to look like:
The pattern is free and you can download it at Hancocks-Paducah (which if you're a fabric lover and haven't been to you MUST go to!)
The other quilt will be made using a free pattern by Valori Wells but with Kaffe Fassett/Westminster fabrics. It's mostly blues and greens and is going to be a small lap quilt (about 50" x 50"). That fabric was purchased from Glorious Color and I can't wait for it to get here. All the Westminster artists are just that - amazing fabric that looks like painted art!
My Etsy store desperately needs attention and I plan
on adding the new pics today or tomorrow. I need to also advertise it more - any suggestions?
In other crafty news, fall knitting patterns are starting to emerge and I'm getting so excited! I'm a serious knitter (have been knitting for about 10 years) and it's my true textile love. I'm repacking all my boxes from my move, many of which contain my wool not very carefully packed (they're packed tightly and with cedar blocks but it's SO disorganized!). Time to sort through and get ready for knitting season to begin! (I'm not really a cotton/lightweight yarn knitter so I pretty much knit from September to April and am always itching to get back to it by the end of August). Interweave Knits has the cutest fall patterns. I think I'll make this one first:
Technology update: after reading about it on Etsy, I joined Soopsee AND bought my own domain. You can now visit my store and blog at http://littleolivebranch.com! Woohoo!
So I didn't get that job I interviewed for. I'm pretty disappointed; however, I found myself feeling especially creative and with a strong need to be productive. My quilt is coming along REALLY well and I've also started two others!
On another note, no new items from my shop have sold. I'm thinking that I need to retake my pictures AGAIN and really spend some time on them AND I need to advertise more.
Stay tuned for pictures...
Why is it that even though I don't have anything - per se - tomorrow, Sunday night is always still yucky???
Made AMAZING progress on the quilt today. Now thinking that I might eventually make this a hobby. More to sell on Etsy? (Oy.)
Bags have not been selling - I think that tomorrow I'm going re-do my pictures. I'm really not happy with them and that's THE most important part of the shop. Also, finally got the fabric ink today and will be making hang tags for some new items so that Little Olive Branch can finally open.
More craftiness awaits tomorrow. Plus probably running (need to get back on my routine - I've been so bad!), swimming, job searching (but maybe I'll hear good news...), and just general keep-myself-business.
Will post some pictures of quilt and new bags tomorrow.
Back from the job interview and it went great. They received 200 applications and only interviewed 6 people. I'm insanely qualified so I hope the others aren't. Should hear by the end of the week...Ugh. In the meantime, I need to keep myself crazy busy so I don't go nuts thinking about if I got the job or what.
More projects coming soon. I'm just waiting for my woven fabric labels then the new shop will be able to open!
We're getting closer to the opening of my shop! My moo mini cards came today and they look GREAT! I'm going to get labels AND make my own (after seeing how another Etsy artist stamped plain bias tape with their logo and made a side tag, I'm inspired to do the same).
On another note, I had been planning on making the Field Bag from Amy Butler but after getting some of the supplies and figuring it all out, it's a) too expensive to make and then expect to sell for a profit and b) more complicated than I'd like. Oh well - live and learn. I'll use the fabric I bought for it to make other things.
Going to make a quilt for napping - it'll be my first quilt and though it won't be for sale on Etsy, I'll blog about it here.
hope everyone is having a lovely independence day. spent some time outside training the dogs with the invisible fence (well, louie learned last summer because the idiot from the fence company shocked him too long and he got traumatized and now mostly stayed near the deck).
picked out some new patterns, mostly amy butler ones. i like to make at least 3 of something and put it in the shop. otherwise, it's looks sad and lonely.
also, have been playing around with the fake ttv stuff some more. i really
like the way it looks and will probably incorporate into my shop somehow. not really with the items but maybe logo and stuff.
well, i did it. i put up all the items i've completed into Peaceknits. phew.
i also read about doing fake TTV pictures (you know, when it looks like an old picture through a frame?). i downloaded gimp (AMAZING - now i can actually edit pics) and read about doing this from some blog.
here's my test and i think it looks pretty cool!
I'm stuck inside, acting mopey. Look at this gorgeous pile of goodies! Wish it was sunny outside so I could take pictures and post them on Etsy. Guh.
I really should take advantage of the rain and read up on more seller tips on Etsy. They have great resources.
In the meantime, I've also been downloading and testing fonts for my shop. There are so many! I already have Moo cards come (http://www.moo.com) but need to make a banner, avatar, etc. I had a great designer do my Peaceknits one and I'm thinking of asking her to
do one for the new shop. In the meantime, I'm downloading fun fonts.
Fortunately, I have these guys to keep me company in this dreary weather!
while my life is in limbo - so to speak - i've been setting up a new workspace AND designing a new name for my shop. i'll have pics of my workspace up soon, but i'm loving it even though i know that it's only temporary. as for my store, you've probably figured it out by now: LittleOliveBranch. i'm going to be selling the sewn items there while keeping the knitted items at Peaceknits. for now, all of it is in peaceknits (i still have fabric labels left with "peaceknits" on them so i should use those up first!).