Thursday, July 31, 2014

Back to School - BBA August 2014 Team Challenge

Each month the Blogging Business Artisans Team poses a challenge to its members.  The August challenge comes from Magnolia Surprise: 

Thinking about Back to School

In August kids are spending their last days of summer vacation and looking toward the beginning of school. Moms and dads are shopping for new backpacks and notebooks. Write a post about going back to school (maybe your best - or worst - experience), make a teacher gift or something fun for school (for your shop, your kids or yourself), or perhaps tell us what you look forward to doing when the kids are out of the house!

I chose to respond to this challenge by making something fun for school – but it might also be a cute teacher gift or a holiday stocking stuffer.


Awhile back, I discovered a tutorial by Gwenny Penny.  Her blog has featured many cute projects over the years – and this pencil-shaped pencil pouch caught my eye.   I had originally planned to make the cute little pouches as back to school presents for  grandkids.   

As I began to focus on preparing for Fall craft fairs, I contacted Gwen Littler, the designer of the pouch, to ask permission to make some of the pencil pouches to sell at three local craft fairs.   Not only did I get a very positive response and a very nice compliment on my Etsy shop --  I got even more than I asked for!!  Gwen recently began issuing Limited Commercial Licenses to make her pouches.  For a small fee I am entitled to make and sell as many of those cute little pouches as I can make by myself on my home sewing machine.  I can sell them at craft fairs or on Etsy provided I give Gwen credit for the design and include this statement in any listings and on any item tags: 

This pencil pouch is made from a tutorial by Gwen Littler of,
and I am a licensed seller.

I am more than happy to give design credit where credit is due!  So – over the past few days while my computer has been giving me FITS (#$&!@), I used some of that offline time to stock up on high quality 100% cotton solids, fusible fleece and ZipIt zippers.   I used a woven cotton with a bit of a nubby texture for the “wood” part of the pencil.   
Here is my first attempt:


The pieced pencils are backed with fusible fleece, giving the pouch a soft, padded feel -- so it's not all limp and wimpy.  I chose to use some text fabric for the lining, although I have a number of high quality 100% cotton fabrics that are candidates for fun pouch linings.
The pouches measure approximately 9.5 inches (24 cm) wide at the point, and 3 inches (7.6 cm) deep.  The zipper opening is a little over 7.5 inches (19 cm).    Not too big, not to small – just right-sized.

I am in the process of making more of these pencil-shaped pencil pouches in a variety of bright, saturated solids.  Here are some works in progress (WIP), pieced and backed with fusible fleece.  The points of the pencils still need to be "sharpened" with my rotary cutter, and I still need to install the zippers. I have a tall stack of precut linings, and I hope to have at least 6 more pouches completed this weekend.
I've decided to list some in my Etsy shop -- and I hope these colorful pouches will find happy new homes in a child's backpack or locker. 







Monday, July 28, 2014

Baby Elephant Walk?

As a Baby Boomer, I am old enough to remember the song Baby Elephant Walk by Henry Mancini.  It was a whimsical instrumental, composed as theme music for a 1962 John Wayne movie, Hatari.

That song came to mind as I was sewing a custom order using cute baby elephant fabric designed by Tim & Beck for Moda fabrics.   I had used the fabric for a baby bib I have listed in my Etsy shop.  But my Canadian customer asked me to make two oven mitts and a matching potholder out of the fabric -- to match her 1950s teal stove!

So on this Shameless Commerce Tuesday, I've decided to share that custom order with y'all (one of two custom challenges I worked on this past weekend):

I would never have thought to use that fabric for oven mitts -- but they are kinda cute, if I do say so myself.

In addition to my two custom orders, I also sewed 17 more reversible cotton baby bibs -- most od them were to restock sold listings.   Granddaughter Erin will hammer on the capped metal snaps this weekend.  I hope to have a few more sewn by then.

The bibs show below will be NEW listings in the Baby Bibs and Blankets section of my Etsy shop once the snaps are attached and I get them photographed:
I'm not usually a huge owl fan -- but these colorful little owls designed by Greta Lynn were just too cute!  I also love those cute little baby blue pickup trucks from the Tiny Trucks collection by Michael Miller Fabrics.  The abstract floral is a colorful fabric designed by Rashida Coleman Hale for her Washi fabric line.  It's been in my stash awhile (too pretty to cut)--but I finally decided to make some cute and contemporary little girl bibs -- but I saved a bit for zipper pouches.
Speaking of zipper pouches --- I've got some REALLY fun back-to-school pouches in the works. They'd also make great holiday stocking stuffers. Check back on Thursday for a sneak peek!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Treasury Thanks

It was a relatively quiet week on the Treasury front.  During slow times I am even more grateful when fellow Etsians feature items from my shops, Aunt Pheba's Vintage or Pasque Flower Creations, in their treasuries.
So I'd like to extend a huge THANK YOU to those curators, and invite you all to visit their shops and spread a little Etsy love.

The treasuries this week were looking ahead to August and Fall, as Summer comes to an end and kids head back to school.  The three Arizona grandsons are already back to school after a really short summer break.

Marcia of ImagineThatBaby featured my red, black and white BBQ oven mitt in her treasury, Red Hot August Finds.  This peppermint striped baby afghan from Marcia's shop would feel right at home in her red-themed treasury.

Angela of gardenandsea featured my brown textured pillow cover in her treasury, Is It Fall Yet?  Although it's not quite Fall yet, this boho headband in green would be a great new back-to-school accessory.

My own focus has also turned to Fall, as I rev up to prepare for three Fall craft fairs and some new back to school listings -- coming soon!

Thanks for stopping by!


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Unisex Oven Mitt with a Retro Diner Vibe

It's Shameless Commerce Tuesday and today I'm featuring a new listing from my Etsy shop, Pasque Flower Creations.  This unisex oven mitt has a retro diner vibe:

This oven mitt features diner-themed fabric from the Today's Special fabric collection by Quilting Treasures. The 100% cotton fabric repeats neon sign messages: Diner. Open 24 Hours. Today's Special. The retro lettering in shades of blue, orange and hot pink is in contrast to the black background fabric.

A perfect gift for anyone who has felt like a short order cook on hectic days! This would also be a great teacher gift, hostess gift, housewarming gift, wedding shower gift -- OR a gift for your favorite foodie!

There's a great old-fashioned diner in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, that my kids love to visit when we are all "home" for the holidays.  


Monday, July 21, 2014

Christmas in July - BBA Team Challenge - July 2014

 Ho! Ho! Ho!

Merry Christmas (in July)!

Each month the Blogging Business Artisans Team poses a challenge to its members.  And this month the challenge came from – moi!   And so, without further ado, here’s the challenge:

For the past two years, a bigger than expected Etsy holiday rush has caught me off guard and scrambling to keep up. So this year, I challenge myself and my BBA Teammates to start preparing earlier! Share a new item you plan to make for the holidays, a holiday promotion you are considering (or insights from a CIJ promo you've tried in the past), product packaging or gift wrapping ideas, shipping shortcuts, organizational tricks for managing the holiday rush -- OR just make a present for yourself or a friend that would also be a great holiday gift idea.

The official Christmas in July (CIJ) promotion period on Etsy (July 10-20, 2014) is nearly over.  And although sales have been quite brisk this month in my little shop, Pasque Flower Creations, only ONE customer used the Coupon Code CIJ20PCT to get 20% off the order as part of that CIJ promo.
Perhaps I had some spillover from the broader Etsy CIJ campaign, but my own CIJ marketing efforts were clearly a near fail: D-.

Now comes the prolonged season of preparation for the holidays – beginning with back-to-school promotions, Fall craft fairs, and Halloween, followed by Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Cyber Monday – and then the ultramarathon mad dash through December to Hanukkah, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve.  Whew!!  I’m getting tired just thinking about it!!

So – what am I going to do this holiday season to avoid the frantic rush and frazzled nerves of the past two holiday seasons on Etsy?

Well, for starters, I’m adopting Etsy’s 12-Step Program  (no, not THAT kind of 12-step program), published by Katy Svehaug in the Etsy Seller Handbook on July 17, 2014.  It’s called 12 Ways to Get a Jumpstart on the Holidays.  Here’s the link.     It’s full of helpful advice and links to other Etsy blog posts.

Just like those other 12-Step programs, the Jumpstart asks Etsy sellers to take it one day at a time.

Day 1:    Establish your expectations for the season.  Set SMART goals.
Day 2:    Brighten your branding.
Day 3:    Check the trend forecasts.
Day 4:    Develop a marketing plan. 
Day 5:    Make things personal.
Day 6:    Add more listings.
Day 7:    Appeal to practical needs. 
Day 8:    Set a scene. 
Day 9:    Tighten up your tags.
Day 10: Stock your shipping station.
Day 11: Sign up for a craft fair.
Day 12: Pitch your potential.  (Maybe it’s time to work on that Media Kit?)

To keep this post from becoming unreadably long and rambling, I’ll focus on my Day 1 Goals, but I encourage you to read the entire Etsy Seller Handbook post and “walk the walk”  through all 12 steps.

The Day 1 goals must be SMART – that’s an acronym for:


Here are my 2014 Holiday Season SMART Goals:

1.      SALES: I will hit 1,000 Etsy sales by December 31, 2014.
2.      EFFORT:  I will sew at least 20 hours per week from Aug. 15 – Nov. 15.
3.      LISTINGS: I will have 150 listings in my Pasque Flower Creations Etsy shop by November 15, 2014.
4.      LIMIT SOCIAL MEDIA:  I will limit social media and team time to no more than 60 minutes per day from August 15 – December 20, 2014, to allow more time to MAKE and MARKET – and maybe even get some SLEEP!
5.      MARKETING: I will post at least 3 times per week on my shop Facebook page from August 15 – November 15, and I will offer a special coupon code from Black Friday through Cyber Monday for those who read my Facebook posts.
6.      OFFER NEW PRODUCTS: I will monetize my scraps by developing new products including at least:
8 doll quilts
12 zipper pouches (some personalized)
3 twined rag rugs
12 eyeglass cases (some personalized)
50 greeting cards made using fabric scraps (sneak peek below – scroll down)--and
4 calling birds, 3 French hens, 2 turtle doves, and a partridge in a pear tree. (Only kidding on that one – just trying to get into the holiday spirit!)
7.      REPLENISH MY STOCK OF IMPULSE BUY ITEMS FOR FALL CRAFT FAIRS:  I will participate in 3 Fall craft fairs, wear my “Ask Me About My Etsy Shop Button” at all 3 shows, and be well-stocked with kid-friendly, inexpensive impulse buy items and stocking stuffers at all 3 shows.
8.      EXCELLENT CUSTOMER SERVICE:  Shipments will be prompt, prettily-packaged, and promote my brand.
Did you catch the sequence?  The first letter of the goals = SELL MORE!

Here’s the sneak peek of my new greeting cards I promised. 

The words on the cards are made from fabric scraps fused to cardstock.  I learned the fusing technique in a tutorial by Lisa and Sarah posted on A Spoonful of Sugar Designs blog. 

I’ll test market them at the craft fairs this Fall.  Goodness knows I have enough scraps to make hundreds, if need be! 

I’m also making progress on using scraps to make twined rag rugs.  Here is my practice rug - a WIP:

And here is a closeup:

The technique is a little like braiding sideways.  The warp is completely encircled by two strips of 2-inch (5 cm) fabric, so the rug will be fairly thick and durable.  The strips are hand folded to resemble single-fold bias tape, but the strips are torn on the straight of grain.  Granddaughter Erin and I had a "let 'er rip" get-together to create the balls of strips you see in the photo of the loom.  (I may use my little bias tape maker gadget for my next rug.  I think it would save time in the long run, and it would contain any ravel-y edges from the start.)

So - -I am PSYCHED to get a jumpstart on the holidays!  Are you ready to join me in this excellent adventure?







Sunday, July 20, 2014

Treasury Thanks

I'd like to take this opportunity to thank curators of Etsy treasuries who featured items from my Etsy shops, Pasque Flower Creations and Aunt Pheba's Vintage, over the past week.  So, to all those curators:


It was a fairly quiet week on the treasury front as many Etsians took some time off for travel, weddings, or other summertime activities.  A glance at the calendar tells me these precious Summer days will soon give way to back-to-school, so make hay play while the sun shines!  The days are already noticeably shorter a month after the summer solstice.

My treasury week started with a double feature from Donna Wolf at donnapaperscissors.  Donna has a fantastic vintage shop -- stop by and browse if you have a chance.  Donna featured my poppies on teal oven mitts and my patriotic mini-bunting in her Baby Boomer Team treasury, Treasured Etsy Folks.  Since one double feature deserves another, here are two great items from Donna's shop.  I love this vintage picnic basket.  It reminds me of the one we took on family picnics when I was a child.  

And I can think of many uses for these vintage deco boxes-- including craft fair displays.  (My mind has wandered to the three Fall craft fairs on my calendar -- looming in the not-that-distant future.)

Ayla from Eyelah featured one of my children's drawstring backpacks in her treasury, Eclectic Green.
Ayla has added several items to her shop, including this wonderful petite pleated pouch:

Judy Nolan of MsterPenQuin featured my silk prom clutch in her fancy schmancy treasury, All Dressed Up.  I couldn't resist adding a little purple to my features this week -- so here is a pretty purple passion gratitude book from Judy's shop.

Last, but not least, a Christmas in July treasury!  Marcia from ImagineThatBaby featured my red chevron oven mitt in her treasury, Baby Boomers - Christmas Reds.  Next time you are invited to a baby shower, visit Marcia's shop!  She carries a wonderful assortment of baby gifts -- from diaper cakes to hand knit booties, to adorable little hats -- like this super cute Santa baby hat.  Wouldn't that be cute for baby's first Christmas!

So curators, thanks again!!  And to everyone, may today be the start of a great week.


Thursday, July 17, 2014

Let There Be Light!

My hubby surprised me with an early anniversary gift!  (And his timing couldn't have been better, since I'll be doing a lot of late night sewing trying to get caught up on Etsy orders -- for which I am very grateful BTW.)

As some of you know, I have early stage cataracts, which makes it difficult to thread a needle or to sew with limited lighting.  And night driving just isn't going to happen unless I'm driving on well-lit streets.

Well -- my gift is an Inspired LED Sewing Machine Lighting Kit!

For just $30.00, it provides LOTS of additional task lighting to supplement my built-in sewing machine light  Hubby was able to install it in about 10 minutes.  The light strip can be cut to size, and it has an adhesive backing.  The switch and cord guides are inconspicuously placed on the back of the machine.  They also have adhesive backs. And it plugs into my power strip.  It comes with a 6-foot cord, but longer cords are available at additional charge.  6-feet was just right for my cozy little sewing space.

Because it has an ON/OFF switch, if I'm sewing on a sunny day with adequate light I can turn off the auxiliary lights.  But for those long Winter pre-holiday nights that will be here before we know it, this will be a godsend.

Excuse the clutter in the photos (no time to clean the sewing studio this week)! But I wanted to give you a quick peek.

Here is the machine with the LED lights off -- the BEFORE photo, if you will:

You'll notice some shadows, I'm sure --and that pile of cut-but-not-yet-sewn oven mitts in the background? -- Sigh....Try to ignore those.

Now -- here is the same machine with those cute little lights turned ON!

Voila! No shadows, and the needle area is well lit.    Here is a closeup showing the placement of the light strip.

I am just tickled pink.  This is truly a gift that will keep on giving.


Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Holiday Hostess with the Mostest

It's Shameless Commerce Tuesday and today I thought I'd celebrate Christmas in July by featuring this holiday hostess oven mitt.

This mitt has a cute retro vibe - with reds and greens reminiscent of my mid-Century childhood. The girls remind me of my Barbie doll (although mine had a dark brown pony tail). The fabric is from the Holiday Hostess line by Michael Miller.

The mitt would be fun for holiday baking, and it would also be a fun hostess gift.  It could also double as a Christmas decoration for your kitchen!

Etsy's Christmas in July (CIJ) promotion extends until July 20 (although some shops are extending the dates).  In my Pasque Flower Creations shop, I'm offering 20% off storewide -- just enter Coupon Code CIJ20PCT at checkout.

Now is a perfect time start stocking up on stocking stuffers!


Sunday, July 13, 2014

Treasury Thanks

I'd like to extend a huge THANK YOU to the curators of Etsy treasuries who featured items from my shops, Aunt Pheba's Vintage and Pasque Flower Creations, in treasuries over the past week.  Many of this week's treasuries had Christmas in July themes -- but there was quite a variety!

Evefashion featured my green chevron oven mitt in her treasury, July #157.  These hand knitted baby booties from Evefashion would be a cute and colorful baby gift!

Janell of Dancing Mooney also featured my green chevron oven mitts in her treasury, Dreaming of . . . Christmas in July!  Janell's shop is chock full of wonderful gift ideas -- like this 4 bar soap gift set -- so pretty!

Jackie T of FlossFlowersandCrafts featured my blue man pillow cover in her treasury, Summer Finds.  This knit bunny from Jackie's shop would make an adorable gift!

Vicki Hyatt of KudzuandRomance featured my green chevron and dots reversible baby bib in her well-ROUNDED treasury, Round Up, with LOTS of circles and dots!   This sweetest wishes Christmas card from Vicki's shop would be perfect for a special someone this Christmas.

Patty Harrington of Fern Hollow Finds featured my red and green chevron oven mitt in a Christmas in July (CIJ)-themed treasury, Boomers - Christmas in July.  These pretty red and white cloth napkins from Patty's shop are 20% off during the CIJ promotion period.

Judy from meaicp featured my retro-inspired holiday hostess oven mitt in her treasury, Celebrating Christmas in July.  This pretty bone china tea cup would be a lovely Christmas gift!

Barbara Snyder of VividDogStudio featured my poppies on teal oven mitts in her treasury, Early Holiday Ideas.   With a brother and two sons who are avid runners (as in marathons and ultra-marathons), I couldn't help noticing this runner's beanie with LED lights.  What a great idea!  It could help your favorite runner see and be seen on cold DARK winter runs.

Iola of PetsSign also featured my poppies on teal oven mitts in her treasury, Poppy Mania.  Iola has some incredible crocheted items in her shop -- including a number of adorable little animals.  But my very favorite item from Iola's shop is this pretty boho crocheted bag. Love it!!

And last, but not least, Edi Royer or memoriesforlifesb featured my colorful hearts baby bib in her treasury, All You Need Is Love,  (I'm old enough to remember that Beatles classic, BTW.)  This engraved wooden wedding invitation is one of the amazing laser-engraved items in Edi's shop.

And there you have it!  Another week of wonderful treasuries.  Thanks, again, to all the curators!
And Merry Christmas in July!


Saturday, July 12, 2014

Quilt Show - Day 3

I have spent much of the past three days at the Lincoln Quilters' Guild Quiltfest.  Today was my volunteer day.  I was issued a beautifully-crafted name tag:

Someone spent hours thread painting and embellishing the tags for dozens and dozens of volunteers  -- each one with a unique wildflower design:

I worked from 9 am - 3 pm in the Children's Area, supervising crafts and sewing activities - great fun!  I was too busy to take pictures!

Some of my loyal followers asked to see the quilts Jerry and I had on display -- so here goes.  Jerry's beautiful batik quilt will be a gift for his son Jon and daughter-in-law, Cynthia:

My quilts were much smaller.  Here is a doll quilt that includes piecing, tiny yo-yo flowers, and hand embroidery:

And here is a more contemporary paper-pieced quilt.  It measures approximately 22" x 22" (55 cm x 55 cm).  I will probably donate it to a church auction.

There were rows and rows of quilts -- I wish I could share them all!

But since I can't share them all, I'll share a few more of my favorites.  Here is a display of Quilts of Valor quilts which will be donated to returning veterans, or the families of those who have died in service to their country.

The center quilt included machine embroidery:

This close-up shows some of the detailed thread painting that was used to create the eagle image:

This quilt by Kathy Hailer-Powers used Australian aboriginal fabrics -- which appear to be hovering above the surface of the quilt:

Another one of my favorites is this art quilt, Iris After the Rain by Lois Puckett Wilson:

Kris Vierra's quilt, Show Your Colors - Stand Out from the Crowd, has won machine quilting awards. Such a whimsical quilt!

And last, but not least, is this modern monochromatic quilt, Zipper, by Marcia Mullinex.

I hope you enjoyed this virtual tour of the quilt show.