Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Doing the Research

Most of the time, I just sew. I get an idea and rummage through my fabric to find a piece that will work. Or I stare at a piece fabric until an idea comes. But, as I told a friend a little while ago, it really is harder to get business when you just make stuff and hope that people will buy it. I like the freedom of that way better, but custom orders really are a much more sure way of making money. But what if you don't have orders at the moment? What do you do then? Well...do some research. That's what I did the other day. I wanted to find out what was selling. What are people looking for? What do people buy? Once you find that out, you can put your own spin on it - make the ones you create stand out and catch people's attention.

I typed "top Etsy shops", or something of that sort,  into Google, and up came some sites with lists of the most successful sellers on Etsy. A few of these top stores sold jewelry. Not my area of expertise. Several of them sold printed apparel. (Seriously, if you have any experience with that sort of thing, I suggest you try turning it into a business!) A few sold knitted things, and there was even one store that sold really cute laptop cases. Hmm...there's an idea! But the shops that really got me thinking were the ones that sold headbands for babies and little girls. There were several, and they seemed to be among the top of the top.

So...I made some headbands. Now, it's not enough to just make what's big at the moment. You have to stand out - to find a hole in what is offered and fill it. After I had made a few lace and tulle headbands, I got to thinking...believe it or not, there are not a lot of Frozen-themed headbands out there - at least not on Etsy. So I made some. I also made a hunter orange camo headband, because some hunting fanatic might want one for their little girl. (I'd better be careful...I know some people who would love that headband...)

The great thing about these headbands is that they don't take too much time and effort to make, so it's not a very costly experiment. Now I have them listed on Etsy and eBay, and all I have to do is sit back and see if my strategy pays off!

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Intensely Inspired

I have been sewing like crazy around here! Or at least, I did last week. Today I spent a lot of time taking pictures of my sisters modeling things, editing said pictures, and getting things listed on ebay. It takes time, but it's fun. And my sisters are such great models!

I got kind of carried away with the loose tunic idea. I made one for myself, and then one for one of my sisters for Christmas, and then I made each of us another one out of scarves! They are such a quick, easy project, and making them out of scarves is even quicker and easier!

Since they are such a quick, easy project, I decided to make some of them to sell. Lots of them. It was kind of the snowball effect. However, the prioritized list of sewing projects that I mentioned in my last post really did help keep me on track. I was surprised at how many projects I was able to check off in so short a time! I even managed to finish this little fleece coat that I think I started over a year ago. All it needed was button holes!

This coat, along with the items in the pictures below are now listed on my ebay store (along with many other items). Be sure to check it out!

It's pretty great when you have sisters to model things for you. It also doesn't hurt that they are so incredibly gorgeous!

Monday, January 11, 2016

Rollin' Along

Today I stopped in at my favorite thrift store. Which means that I looked at the fabric. There was a lot to look through this time...which means I brought some home. Aren't they beautiful?

And here is my jackpot of the day - a really large piece of fabric that made the house smell like some strange chemical when I put it in the wash! This is what you do when you need to air something out but don't have an outdoor clothesline:

I know, a tree isn't exactly clean, but what else was I supposed to do?! I just wonder what the neighbors thought...

Now, this habit of accumulating fabric does pose a problem. You see, I have limited storage space. When the shelves get full, the overflow ends up stuffed in bags, which tend to cascad right over my sewing area boundaries and out into the living area.

Today, I took a tip from my favorite thrift store and decided to roll my fabric into neat bundles and secure them with rubber bands.

I was able to use my space so much more efficiently! Now the bags are gone and everything looks neat and tidy:


Another change to my sewing area is this amazing thread holder that my brother got me for Christmas (the picture on the right). It holds so many more spools than my old one, and takes up less space. Efficiency seems to be the theme here!

If you want to see what I do with all that new fabric, stick around. You'll definitely be seeing some of it on here in the next few months! I am going to try to be very productive sewing-wise in this new year. I even wrote myself a list (I love lists!) of all the sewing projects that I am in the middle of or have planned so that I can actually complete some projects and start emptying my shelves a little...to make room for more! It's a never-ending cycle.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Decorating the New Year

On New Year's Day, we had our third annual New Year's party. It is really my sister's party, and it all started because she loves to make gourmet food and have people over to eat it! I get to do the decorating of the basement, which is where we spend a lot of our time during the party. It's where people sit to eat, where the white elephant gift exchange happens, and where those of us who are crazy enough stay up until two or three in the morning playing games. 

In years past, red and green have been the main colors, but this year I decided to go with blue and silver and a more rustic look. Of course, this meant mostly new decorations...

We have the perfect ceiling in our basement from which to hang things. I made what felt like a million tinfoil stars and planned to use some paper snowflakes from last year, but I really wanted something blue as well. How about some little twisted icicles? 

I combined Elmer's glue with a little blue fabric paint and squeezed out several globby strips onto a sheet of wax paper. After they had dried, I peeled them off and trimmed them into straight strips. Then I twisted each strip and secured the ends to the wax paper again with a dot of glue. 

I made lots of them! Then I strung them on fishing line and hung them from the ceiling.

I also made some cone Christmas trees and filled a glass bowl with ornaments to decorate the tops of the hutch and entertainment center:

We have had this silver wire garland for years, and I never quite knew what to do with it. This year, I got inspired to cut it up and make little spiral Christmas trees. I love how they turned out!

We have an abundance of buckbrush in our woods, which at this time of year is full of reddish-pink berries. I cut several and brought them in to decorate the ledge behind our fireplace.

White lights and the silver wire Christmas trees added just the right touch,

I was also able to incorporate several of my dad's amazing wooden bowls into the display, which was really fun!

All finished! I will be using these ideas again!

I hope you had a Merry Christmas and are off to a great start in 2016! I can't wait to see what it holds!