Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Work In Progess Wednesday

So, I have a lot of projects that are in progress, big suprise right?! I don't have pictures-I'm still learning about blogging and trying to set up a consistent posting schedule. I'll get there eventually, so please be patient ;)

I am partway through a custom order for crochet snakes and am very impatiently waiting for the yarn I need to find it's way to my door. I couldn't find the colors I wanted anywhere in the stores around here so had to order some. Which, I completely don't mind doing but I just hate waiting-I'm an instant gratification kind of person. lol The good thing is that I need those same colors for a friend's order so that works perfectly. I think I have a total of 10 snakes to make for various people. I've got 3 down, 7 to go...If you're curious about all of this crochet snake talk, I posted a picture of some in a previous post.

I haven't made any progress on the red, black, and white table runner (also shown in a previous post). Am really hoping to make progress on it, if not finish it, this weekend. I think a part of me is stalling on it because I'm worried about messing it up. The fabrics are so pretty and the rows that I did sew together look so nice. Now, I'm worried the rows aren't going to line up perfectly and then after those are sewn...I am facing my first quilting experience. I'm terrified but excited. A cross hatching pattern was recommended to me but a very talented and experienced quilter. So, cross hatching it is! Now, if I could just decide on whether to hand quilt or machine quilt and what color thread would be best. Baby steps.

Finally, I started a crochet ladybug last night. I thought about taking a picture of it to share for today, but it's really a garnet colored crochet oval right now. Not too exciting.

So, those are my WIPs. I won't even start on all of the ideas floating around in my head! My goal/plan is to finish the lady bug for Friday, then work on the table runner until the yarn comes in. Then, I will be crochet snake crazy! After that...who knows!

I would love to see your WIPs! Just post the link in your comment. Thanks and have a great day!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Happy Monday! a good bit of crafting and life done this weekend, although it's never as much as I would like. I am currently working on a custom order, so my table runner project has been pushed back. Here is a sneak peak though:

I also started some seeds (well, hopefully started them) in a little greenhouse. I'm hoping they will actually grow and be ready for planting in the spring. Then, I hope they survive and actually produce! But...I'll cross that bridge when I get to it! Pictures to come!

Finally, I thought I'd share a treasury created that features some fellow teammates from the NC Triangle Team on Etsy, created by brandywinedesign. It has some beautiful soft pinks-perfect to start your week off right!

Hoping Tuesday can bring about the motivation that Monday has lacked! Have a great night!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Random Friday Thoughts

Eventually I'd like to do something every Friday like, local events or something but this week it's going to be a bunch of randomness!

Life: I'm trying to keep my priorities in line this year and not let the little stuff get to me. We have been blessed so much and the Lord has always provided for us and protected us. So, why do I need to stress about stuff that, in the end, I know doesn't matter? For example, our Homeowner's Association and homeowners in our neighborhood are a drama-filled mess. I'm not going to bore you with all the specifics, but they recently sent a letter saying the HOA was dissolved. There are a bunch of other aggravating issues that go along with it, but the main thing that got me was that the VA (Veteran's Asssociation) will not finance a home on a dirt road without an HOA in place. Well, we live on a dirt road and in a huge military town. I feel comfortable saying that I would guess at least 90% of the homes purchased here are done through the VA; the military is that prominant here. So, basically, if there is no HOA, we are stuck in our house infinitely, which is NOT in our plans. I was getting all fired up about how screwed over we are and blah blah blah, but then I thought about if it really mattered. I mean, we have a house that we can afford and that protects us from the elements (for the most part). In reality, we aren't planning on moving anytime soon, and if some amazing opportunity presented itself, we could rent the house out. In the end, it's just a house, and it's just money. There are so many amazing things happening in our lives, like watching the kids grow and develop, why should I let things that I don't have control over and that really don't matter ruin my mood? Things happen for a reason and will play out how it's meant to. In the meantime, I'll just be patient and put my trust in Him and focus on the innumerable blessings we have received.

Weekend Project: I'm really hoping to get most of my first table runner put together. I have the squares cut out, and would be happy if I just got them pieced together. Then, I have to figure out what backing to use and approach the scary part for me: the quilting part! Hopefully, I can take pictures and share my experience next week.

Finished Project: I am hoping to add a section to my Etsy shop with cute little crochet animals. I had a snake listed but it sold within 24 hours! That was an awesome feeling! I made ones for my boys and now have some requests to make them for family and friends. So, I'll be mixing in their orders with making ones to be listed. I'm also hoping ot get a ladybug done before Valentine's day, but we'll see!

Aren't they cute?! The pink one is for a niece and the variagated one will be listed in my shop. So, see that mess in the back...yeah that's on my to do list this weekend. Actually, I have to do that first so I can have room to sew! That would be a product of Christmas, getting ready for a bridal shower, and traveling.

Anyway, hope everyone has a wonderful Friday and weekend!

I just linked up this post to Crazy Mom Quilts, Finish it Friday! Check out her post and see what other crafters and creators are up to!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

My First Experience with Hexagons-Machine Sewing

My mom keeps me in business all by herself, from requesting items to buying fabric that she really likes but gives to me to use. To be honest, sometimes making things for my family is more stressful because I just know they'll say they like it even if they aren't completely satisfied with it. They are just that nice.

This past November, I was commissioned to make a bag for my cousin, with no specifications other than general size. I decided I wanted to try a hexagon flower, pieced together, not applique. My google search quickly taught me that there was more to this flower than just sewing it together. Paper piecing sounded too frustrating and time consuming at the time. I just wanted to be able to put it all together, ideally without trying to conquer too many new techniques. Fortunately, I found a blog called Sew Many Ways that had a simpler version of how to sew hexagons. And, it was designed to be machine sewed, which was a big bonus for me. Between her easy to follow instructions and clear pictures, I could picture what I needed to do just by reading through the post. Find the tutorial here.

So, I didn't have many problems cutting the hexagons in half besides the occasional, I'm too tired to be using a rotary cutter and just veered off my intended path. With the pieces sewn into rows and the rows put together, this is what came together:

The blue stripes were not in the original design and were added when I realized the bag was shorter than I planned. I didn't take into account that cutting the hexagons in half and then sewing them back together would make them smaller. Duh, but I was being hasty. But, that "fix" ended up adding to the design, in my opinion. Anyway, I'm sure you experienced sewers, and probably even beginners, can see some irregularities and mismatching. I had some rows come out not so straight and instead of ripping out seams and redoing, I just kept going, hoping I could hide it.

The next issue I had was the blue stripes did not line up when I put the two sides of the bag together. Hmmm, wonder where that problem stemmed from... maybe I should have taken out the uneven rows and fixed them. So, I decided to add a blue mock binding to the edges to distract from the unevenness.

Pretty effect...except at the corners where it folded in funny. Grrr. So, at this point, I'm feeling horrible but am still too stubborn to start over or scrap it. Through much texting with my mom about these issues and if she thought it would be okay or if I should just say forget it; I went ahead and finished it, errors and all.

Sorry for the bad photo quality, I took it with my phone with no intention of ever needing it besides sending to my mom.

So, my cousin said she loved it and my mom said it came out very nice. I'm still undecided because I feel like I just kept trying to hide a mistake that kept growing. Kind of like lying. Honestly, I think at a glance it looks nice, but I can't just glance, my eyes automatically look for bad spots-which, to me, are everywhere.

So, what was the point of posting this? Well, I wanted to point out the excellent tutorial I found. I also wanted to share some basic lesson I learned/relearned:

  • Nip mistakes in the bud-there are very few that can be hidden along the way. More than likely, that little oops is going to come back as a bigger issue.

  • TAKE YOUR TIME-Proper piecing is really crucial and mismatched seams can be very distracting when it comes to the finished product.

  • Have a plan, but be prepared to wing it-my spur of the moment additions actually ended up adding to the design-I just wish I had been more of a perfectionist from the beginning.

Now, I promise I am not a sloppy sewer, I only sell items that I am happy with in my Etsy shop. I just wanted to share my experience in an attempt to help other avoid this issues. It's nice to have family and friends to try new things with. This way, if I decide to make something similar to sell, I'll be more aware of the challenges ahead and where I need to pay closer attention.

I recently purchased tiny 2" hexagons from another Etsy seller, Spring Water Designs, and already have a plan for them. Since they are so small, I will not be doing the cut-in-half technique I used for the bag. I'd like to try the paper piecing, but may end up just appliqueing. Either way, I'll let you know! And with better pictures (hopefully)!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

New Year-New Goals!

I'm sitting at work, drooling over Keepsake Quilting's new catalog. They have amazing fabric collections as well as patterns. For once, I am glad there is no way for me to scrounge up some extra money to order more fabric. I just received some beautiful fat quarter bundles and quilting templates for Christmas, and so definitely don't need any more fabric or inspiration. What I need more of is time! I think a good thing about having so little time is that I've had to learn how to prioritize my projects and goals as well as keep them realistic. I'm certainly becoming a fan of generalized baby steps!

My ultimate goal is to be able to stay at home and sell my creations full time. The reality of that is kind of depressing right now, so instead of crunching numbers, I focus on more abstract goals. Obvious things, like: create more to sell more. I realized last year, I really didn't make that much; I think I just wanted things to sell and got frustrated when they didn't. Well, people won't buy if there isn't anything listed. So, while I would like to set a goal, like list at least one thing a week, I know that won't always be possible, and I'll stress myself out if I try to stick to it. Instead, I'd just like to focus on increasing my listings in general. Along with that, I am hoping it will double my sales.

I need to try different venues. I did one craft show in November and it was miserable! Very cold and windy and I didn't make back my entry fee, which was only $25! But, I blame it on the lousy weather and maybe having too many options on my table. None of the vendors around me seemed to be too busy either. This year, I am hoping to test out the local farmer's market as well as a few other shows and festivals.

I've also recently started participating in some BNS/BNR treasuries on Etsy. Basically, there is a collection of shops chosen by the curator. If you purchase from one of the shops featured, your shop will be featured in the next round. So far, I've bought more than sold. But, it was all stuff I can use for my shop. And, I got 2 sales out of the deal. So, now, I'm sitting out for a while but definitely plan to participate again.

The most important thing I would like to focus on this year is to enjoy every minute of it! I sew and create because I enjoy it. Since this is not my only source of income, I don't HAVE to do anything. I've tried, well semi-tried, to keep up with what was trending and to try and guess what will sell best and cater my shop around those items. Results: stressful and not fun. I've found that I'm happiest just floating around in my own little world. Things definitely seem to come out a lot better that way!

Like I said in the beginning, abstract baby steps. You only have so much control over the numbers; you can't force people to shop with you. Plus, it's such a great feeling when you know the item is going to someone excited about it. So, this year I'm choosing to focus on the enjoyment of the process while expanding my skill set. Hopefully, the sales will follow. If not, check back next January for the new plan!

What are your goals this year?

Monday, January 9, 2012


Welcome to my brand new blog! I have so much to say in my head, but didn't think it would be so hard to break the ice!

I guess I'll start with the basics:
My name is Michelle. I'm married to a wonderful man, who understands me and loves me for who I am. Weirdness, mood swings, and all :) I have two incredibly smart and adorable boys: Clayton (3yrs) and Henry (1 1/2 yrs). Negotiations for a third little one are in the works. Gotta convince the finances to cooperate.

I LOVE to craft! Although I'm interested in just about everything I see, I am currently focusing on sewing and crochet. I am hoping to delve into embroidery soon as well. I have an Etsy shop: Thegiftgarden. Hopefully soon I'll figure out how to put up that cute little widget/mini-Etsy on the side here.

Someday, I would like for my crafting to be my main income (Along with some other dreams I have, but there's time for those later). I wish I could do it now so that I could be home with my little men-they are so precious and growing so fast. But, at this stage in life, I feel that the Lord has placed me in my job, and I'm grateful to have it. I have been so blessed in so many ways, so can find no reason to complain about the current situation.

There is so much more I could say (I like to talk) but am going to try and keep from running on too much.

My current purpose for this blog is to share my crafting experiences, life lessons, well, generally, whatever I feel like! To be honest, I'm a little nervous that I am not going to be interesting enough, but then again, if you aren't interested, you don't have to read it. And, I'll never know the difference!