Tuesday, July 31, 2012

a Recipe

What's your recipe for happy patchwork?  Is it a pair of colors that always makes you sing?  Lots of white?  Complete randomness?  Bright, bright, bright!  We all seam to have our pet brews, or at least a momentary favorite.  If I were to author a recipe today it could easily be Flea Market Fancy + Text + Black.  Oh, and linen too, please!

Kimono shoes in patchwork

Last week I sent off a swap gifty to miss Lindsey of L.R. Stitched.  I was pretty psyched to have her as my partner because I love her style.  But, she didn't mention any specific ideas of what she's like to receive.  So.... I took the opportunity to finally make use of the Kimono Shoes pattern by I Think Sew.  Instead of using one print for the outer of the slippers, I patched together these from scrap.

turned up toes

And I LURVE them!  Seriously do.

sneaky slippers

In fact, when my eyes fell on them just so, early the morning after their making, I thought how they might like living here.   Just basking about in the sun.  In all their patchwork-y glory.

FMF spiced with text + black

Somehow I did manage to send them away.  Just kidding - I loved surprising Lindsey with these patchwork slippers and a few other thingamajigs.  I hope the AMH Little Folks voile is soft and sweet for her feet!

And, I hope the somewhat rough canvas print I used for the soles keeps her from slipping.  I did some limited testing, but I must say - use at your own risk, my friend!  That is, if your little one let's you have a turn!

rough-ish canvas soles

To reward myself for parting so quickly with the patchwork slippers, I patched together a journal cover and an iPad sleeve using the same recipe:  Flea Market Fancy + Text + Black + Linen.

keep on patching...

How is it that scraps never end?  Never, ever, ever.

FMF + text + black iPad sleeve

I especially like the back of this journal cover.  It probably wanted to be the front, but the dandelions would have been upside down.  Oops.

FMF+ text + black covered journal

So, I gave the slippers away and will hopefully sell the covered journal and iPad sleeve early September.  But this quilt - this quilt S.T.A.Y.S.  It's not the exact brew, but it's close enough as a substitute.  And it's kinda special to me by now.

almost finished!

Do you have a recipe to share?  Anything you tend to fall back on?  It's always fun to try something new...

Monday, July 30, 2012

Berry Picking Picnic Blanket

 Berry Picking picnic blanket

You guys are the best!  Thanks sooooooo much for your insights on the Craft Show Pricing post!!!  You've got my wheels turning for sure and I've already decided to make some changes, like rounding up to prices ending in 5's or 0's so it's easier to handle cash payments and so that folks might be less tempted to make me "rounded" offers.  I'll also be thinking about pricing my products so that I can offer combo deals and taking a strictly "no negotiating" price policy, which I think will really help my stress levels as a seller!

All I can say, is that if you are struggling with pricing your products, talk to people!  Talk to your friends, your family, and the online community.  It really helps to get lots and lots of opinions.  Also, one reader pointed me to Etsy Success:  The Art of Pricing of Pricing for Profit Workshop.  This is a fairly long video, but it really has a lot to say to folks who are make-to-sell crafters.  Good food for thought.

Berry Picking with AnnBeth

On with the making!   Last time I was at Ikea, I picked up 2 yards of this summery Annbeth stripe.  Since it's 60" wide and a nice, heavy weight, I was totally thinking "picnic blanket."  So.... off I went to Pink Castle Fabrics to find some fabrics to match!

Berry Picking Bundle

What do you see?  Reds, a touch of pink, aqua, teal, mossy greens, plum and a bit of dark brown for value.  No orange!  No yellow! That part was hard.  But it's always good to stretch oneself!  Working a color scheme from an favorite print is really straightforward, but still it helps me see color in new ways every time.

Pink Castle Fabrics has the full 20-print fat quarter bundle all cut up just for you in case you're after your own picnic quilt (or other patchwork masterpiece).  It's my Berry Picking bundle cause the kids and I soooo look forward to outings with our friends to pick strawberries in the spring and blueberries in the summer.  The red and purple berry-hues combined with the colors of leaf and sky reminded me of sunny days spent outside this year.  And that's definitely where this picnic blanket wants to live - outside!

um er... "Summer Weight Quilt"

So, um, I promise I won't call these "picnic blankets" at the show.  Nope, they're "summer weight quilts".  (According to Rachel of Suz Made Me Do it, "Summer Weight Quilt. Perfect for the beach, a visit to the park, a day at the lake, a picnic or a lazy day in your own back yard or even a summer quilt for your bed. 100% colorfast quilting cotton was used in the creating of this one of a kind quilt. It is 100% washable. 60 x 60." Yep, I've got some marketing signs to make for sure!)

i heart patchwork

I've also used mine as a party tablecloth, Easter egg hunt kiddy-coral and general photo op.  But, then, I heart patchwork.

butterflies, beries, and cloudes. oh my.

Did you notice all the butterflies?  Yep, and berries too.  Literal ones.  Watering cans... clouds floating along the sky...  I think it's safe to say this collection is all about being outside.  (Except for the clocks.  I think those are best left at home).

inspiration in AnnBeth stripe

Anyhoo, I'm happily enjoying the way this set coordinates with my inspiration stripe.  Apparently I can work without yellow.  Who would have thought?


All of my "summer weight quilts" have an attached strap for tidy storage.  That's another one all rolled up and stashed in my inventory cabinet... along with a lot of other goodies from this weekend's Saturday sewing session.  I'll be back with more tomorrow!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Craft Show {Pricing}

Pricing is an artist's worst nightmare.  The same price can feel both too high (presumptuous) and too low (degrading) all at the same time.  Pricing works for sell means I have to find an actual, literal number that matches my personal value of the item and another's perceived value.  And "they" are likely to be blissfully unaware of time and materials costs.  What to do?

I admire crafters who feel called to "educate" the masses about time and materials costs with pricing standards that pay the maker a living wage.  But, I'm definitely not there yet (hides under desk).  If making for Etsy or craft shows were my primary crafty income stream, I'd have to do that.  But, as it is I'm doing this craft show gig as an "aside" to my real business, which is online as a blogger and teacher.  This craft show is just an experiment for me - part fun and part wishful thinking that I could create an exit point for the surplus of items I make year to year.   Every item I make specifically for the show has a dual purpose - to sell and to be provide fun blog fodder!  This puts me in a unique position to have a somewhat built-in profit margin.  That doesn't mean that I can price items however I want... but I wanted to point out that it gives me more freedom that someone who defines their crafty business as make-to-sell.

from Quirky and Quaint on Etsy

Ok, so what's my pricing formula?  

Materials + Time + Padding = Price

Materials - That's the easiest to figure out if you've saved a few receipts!  Some items, like the journal covers and iPad sleeves only require $5 or so of materials.  Other items, like the picnic blankets, require an astounding $80 worth of supplies.  Yikes.

Time - This really varies, but I've made my best estimates.  I'll be pricing most inventory categories (covered journals, baby quilts, etc.) one standard price, because shoppers are generally mistrusting and/or confused by too much variety in pricing.  So, even though one journal cover may have taken 3 hours of my time and another a mere 30 minutes, I came up with an average for each category.  In the case of journal covers, I'm estimating 2 hours each.  I've decided to charge $10 an hour for my time.  That's less than I would ever normally work for, but it's the most I feel I can charge AND this is not my "main" business.

Padding - Nope, this isn't about profit; this is about expenses!  Between registration fees for the craft show, hotel fees (it's too far to drive each day), gas, food, new business cards, etc. I expect to spend about $500 on "overhead" expenses.  This is pricey!  It would have been much safer to try a craft show close to home to minimize overhead if I were starting up a make-to-sale business, for example.  My heart was set on this show, because I know it is highly trafficked with modern shoppers.  I don't really have a set percentage or dollar amount for the "padding", but I'm trying to work it in!

My Prices

Publishing these is making me cringe!  I'll start off by saying that my original pricing plans were a good bit lower, but after crunching the numbers I knew it was completely irresponsible to go so low.  My friend Heather is my craft show consultant. Every Monday night when she comes over to hand stitch with me, I pelt her with questions and ideas.  She reminded me to think about the things I've purchased at craft shows over the years.  I paid more than I would normally pay for a necklace, for example, because it was handmade, one-of-a-kind and I felt good about supporting the artist.  So, gulp, I hope people feel the same way about my work!  Also, looking at it this way makes me feel even more urgent to make the very best things I can!

Covered journals for craft show

Covered Journals - Since this category is probably my strongest, setting this price first gives perspective for the others.   $4 materials + $20 time + $8 padding = $32.  This category has a generous portion of overhead padding expenses because it is the category I'm counting on to actually sell and to cover those expenses.  If I don't plan to make my money here to cover my expenses, I'm basically planning to fail.  Heather (I blame/credit her!) suggests I actually start with a slightly higher price on the first day and then switch to $28 if I feel price is a barrier.  I'm planning to take that tactic since this is a 3-day show.

Lecien Dots Picnic Blanket

Picnic Blankets - Unlike the covered journals, this category has low time (relatively) and high materials (20 fat quarters and 3 yards for backing).  $80 materials + $45 time + $5 padding = $130.  I wanted to sell  these for $85, but that would be disgraceful given the materials cost.  Of course I wonder if people will pay so much for a picnic blanket!  This is the category where pricing concerns me most.

Wall art - I won't walk you through all the categories, but this is one that's different.  My wall art prices will vary, according both to the size of the art and the complexity of the design.  People view "art" quite differently than a commodity item like a journal cover.  They expect something "better" to be more expensive.  They look to see how much time it probably took to make it, taking time to appreciate details.  Plus, they realize wall art in stores is expensive!

This means that wall art is a more lucrative category, but it's also probably harder to sell.  You've got to really adore something to put it on your wall.  On the one hand I feel that keeping my prices down would make folks more willing to "risk" taking my art home.  On the other hand I feel that low-ish prices would make it difficult for them to agree "yep, that's worth putting on my wall."  It's a tricky one!

Scrappy Chevron wall art

Here's an example.  The two 8" x 10" Scrappy Chevrons will be $36 each and the 16" x 20" Scrappy Chevron will be.. $82.  Maybe I'm far off or maybe that's about right.  I really don't know.

Oodalolly scrap coasters

Some of my other category prices are... iPad Sleeves $38, Coaster sets $24 and baby quilts (already made and looking for homes) $150.  As of today I have 43 items to take to the show.  The inventory value of items that have been made specifically for the show so far is just over $1000 at these prices.  Wow!  Of course, even if I sold all that $500 goes to overhead and then there's materials expenses before I'm actually getting paid for my time making items...

So, what do you think?  I'm totally desiring your feedback on these prices.  I promise not to take offense!  I know you'll be factoring in what you feel people will pay, which is not necessarily a reflection on how much you like my work.  What are your thoughts?

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

fair warning

I warn you, if you start poking around for pieced scraps they just keep on coming.  Really, don't do it.  Unless you want to feel obligated...


Remember this bit of solids patchwork I made for Modern Medallion and rejected for overshadowing the previous rounds?  Chatting with some Handstitched Campers brought these 4 strips of patchwork to mind.  Fortunately, the realization came with an idea - cut it up! 

Disappear you 9-patch

With my seam ripper, I divided the strip into 9-patches.  Then I sliced them in half once and then again. This is the disappearing 9-patch technique, a traditional technique I learned awhile back via a do. Good Stitches block.  

Reassembled, the patchwork looks so much more complicated.  Mixing up all those hot, spicey colors also seems to bring it down a notch.  At least a small notch?

and it worked!

And the scale looks good on a journal!  This one I like.


In fact, I liked it enough to give it some Lizzy House pearls.

with pearls

A little tipsy, perhaps, by that success I pulled out another mess of pieced scraps even bigger than the solids patchwork.  It was large triangles of pieced strips cut from making that Sixth Time's the Charm crib quilt over a year ago.  I had stuck the oddly-shaped stuff in a box where it hadn't caught my eye more than once in all that time.

also from pieced scraps

Like I said, don't go looking for pieced scraps.  Or, if you do, it's nice to know that you could throw them together as a journal cover and hope that they'll catch someone's eye.  Anyways, you didn't put much time in them, so there's that.

Guess what?  That's 10 journal covers now complete.  I still feel like I could make these forever, but I also don't want to focus exclusively on making from pieced scraps.  Too limiting I say!  It's always a balance, isn't it?

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

do. Good

Guess what?  It's our birthday!  do. Good Stitches {a charity bee} is two years old right about now.  The Love circle, which launched this time last year, just 10 women wanting to do some good with our passion for quilting, is still going strong...albeit with a lot of new faces.  In fact, I just made some blocks today for a quilt led by Deborah (littlemamaD), who's leading a Love circle quilt for the first time this month.

for do. Good Stitches

She asked for "Converging Corners" blocks (designed by Ashley of Film in the Fridge) in red, blue and yellow, with a pop of gray.  Her color mosaic is drop dead gorgeous.  Yes?

do. Good Stitches July color inspiration

I know!  What a way to inspire us all.  I guess it's fair to say that the fastest way to my fabricy heart is through color.

Converging Corners

Converging Corners is a clever twist on the log cabin block.  A cool burst of print emerges where the blocks meet.  Smart one that Ashley!  And smart of Deborah to use an already-awesome resource! There are so many great quilt tutorials out there and everyone's happy to see them used for a charity quilt.  Makes being a "quilter" in do. Good Stitches as easy as you'd like, design-wise.

July Love circle blocks

do. Good Stitches is an international charity quilting bee, managed online through Flickr.  We're always growing!  It's up to 19 circles (190 members) and always another circle in the works via the wait list.  If you're a quilter who enjoys working in a modern style and is ready to participate via Flickr, you can register to join through this form.  Quilting to comfort others has a long, long history.  It's awesome to see that legacy continue on in the online world!

I don't share these very often, but I am so proud of the quilts our many circles have made.  Here are a few finished recently...

I Spy Snowballs finished!
I Spy Snowball by Joy Circle, quilted by Fiona @ Poppy Makes
do Good Stitches Quilt
Making Links by Cherish Circle, quilted by Handmade Retro
retro flowers
Retro Flowers by Love Circle, quilted by Ara Jane

Hexing Around Quilt 2
Hexing Around by Imagine Circle, quilted by A Bright Corner
by Harmony Circle, quilted by Diane {from blank pages}

Our quilts are donated through all sorts of charities, local and far flung, mainly given to children living through painful situations.  But, you know, I also feel sure they touch the lives of many adults who are encouraged beyond words to see that "good" is alive.   

There are lots of reasons why people choose to join do. Good Stitches.  And they're all good!  Personally, I acted out of the quiet urging of my God who wants nothing more than to show His love (which is Himself) to every living thing.  That's just my motivation.  I certainly don't mean to push it on anyone else.  And, I hope you don't mind that I've mentioned it here.

"Now's the time for us to rise
and carry hope and let love shine
and show this world that mercy is alive"

Have you heard that chorus?  It's titled "The Church" and touches on what the church is supposed to be.  Things rarely go that well, overall, but singing these words on Sunday, a big part of me felt a huge gladness, a gladness to be a part of that movement to carry hope and love and mercy to a world in need.  Just a little bit, through do. Good Stitches.

And I'm honored by each of you that joins me!

Monday, July 23, 2012

iPad in Summerlove

Summerlove from Canton Village

Remember this pretty stack of warm florals spiked with teal?  It's a selection of Summerlove prints from Canton Village Quilt Works.  I had been searching for a reason to "need" some of this line, particularly the Ginger print, so when the craft show was a "go" I moved quickly.  (It's also quite possible that Shannon's Wellen Tank tutorial was the last straw, but I digress.)

iPad sleeves 

Last week iPad covers were on my "to do" list.  I started off working with the Tokens of Love print, which turned out to be my absolute favorite, even if it is a bit sweet with it's lilacy-pink background and fluffy bouquets.  It's often that way for me - I feel like my first version is the bestest.  After that, it's hard to find something that's as shiny and fun.

delicious florals

I quilted the Ginger print the same as the Tokens of Love print.  It's pretty - especially from the back, but I can't get over the way the quilting on the Tokens of Love print so delightfully frames each bouquet.

my favorite!

And, did you see that the quilting just happened to line up on the closed flap too?  It's the little things!

If you're wondering, my iPad cover pattern is something I finagled myself.  I drew from these two tutorials, consulted the Apple site to verify size and used a large serving platter to cut the curved flap.  After I made the first, I drove over to try it on my sister-in-law's iPad.  Happily, it fit snug!

in Summerlove fabrics

This morning I made the patchwork version, strip-piecing 2" wide cuts from several different prints.  And you know what?  This is the first time that I didn't love the way the collection came together in small patchwork.  I'm pretty sure I would have liked it better had I hand picked 2" strips from my scrap bins instead of combining Summerlove as a collection.  And I love the collection... but apparently more so in big pieces.   Oh well!  Living and learning.

iPad cover
You can find these Summerlove prints at Canton Village Quilt Works, along with other Art Gallery fabrics like Poetica, the Oval Elements and Rhapsodia.  I think I'll be searching my stash for more prints I'd like to feature whole, without any piecing, for my next iPad sleeves.

"meh" patchwork

But, I'm still wondering how many of these to make.  Very much enjoying the making, but it's hard to keep eating up fabric (and time) feeling so unsure about marketability of the iPad sleeves and coasters. 

Anyone have a crystal ball?  Thanks that would be great!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Ric Rac Rabbits Picnic Blanket

Remember this cute little bundle?

Ric Rac Rabbits

It's Ric Rac Rabbits in the slate colorway from Fabricworm.  At first I thought - baby boy quilt!  It has enough of a "boy" vibe without being the traditional colors.  I still think it'd be great for a baby boy's room, but decided to make my bundle into a picnic blanket instead.  Maybe it was the 4th of July that did me in?  I see picnic-worthy, patriotic shades tempered with aqua (instead of true blue),  sprinkled with slate gray and a touch of sage green.  But spread out in a picnic blanket, it still has that vaguely red/white/blue vibe. 

Ric Rac Rabbits Picnic Blanket

Do you like it?  I do!  My fat quarter bundle needed some stretching to become a large picnic blanket, so I alternated Ric Rac Rabbits prints with solids.  I used the Fabricworm fat quarter bundle, plus 1/2 yard cuts of Kona Cadet, Kona Coral, Kona Olive, Essex Flax and Essex Medium Aqua.  My solids don't all match exactly, for example the Kona Cadet is markedly darker than the slate gray in Marisa's prints.  I like the extra contrast in value it adds!

a picnic blanket

Oh, and I also threw in 3 white squares, just for fun.

Ric Rac Rabbits Slate colorway

To make your own, cut squares to 8".  Arrange 81 squares in a 9x9 grid.  Make a backing the same size and sew right sides together.  After turning right side out and edge stitching all the way around to finish/close the opening, then tie the quilt at intervals instead of machine quilting.

tied with pearl cotton

I've been tying with leftover bits of pearl cotton size 8 from my Handstitched projects!  I love the way it leaves the blanket so flat and soft.

Here's hoping that someone (maybe with youngish kids?) gives this picnic blanket a home at the craft show.  I for one couldn't resist the bunnies.  I'm hoping someone else is just as weak!

Ric Rac Rabbits panel for backing

That bundle also comes with the "Hold Onto Your Dreams" panel in slate.  Oh my sweetness!  It was perfect on the blanket back with various prints from my stash.

other Creative Thursday prints too

Including a few from the Creative Thursday debut collection - Meet the Gang!  But, seriously can't get enough of the bunnies in a row.   Seriously.

my tag hiding on the strap

And, hey, I even remembered to put my label on the blanket tie!  Not that it didn't involved a little back tracking...

this little thing

So there's another picnic blanket all wrapped up!  Without batting these big ole' blankets sure compact into a tidy little parcel.  And my mom has just the coolest picnic basket that I can display a few with at market.  Oooh, I'm looking forward to working on display.  First though, off to make more items!  Everyone have a wonderful weekend.
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