Friday, October 24, 2014

Friday Five: Reviews of My Shop

It's no mystery that selling online comes with a set of challenges apart from the more traditional challenges makers face at craft shows and in person sales.  A successful online business relies in part on the written feedback of customers.  Not only do good reviews promote sales (as bad reviews can also hurt), but with a business that is so personal, good feedback also helps to create and maintain a positive creative environment for the maker.  With all that said, for today's Friday Five, I'm sharing five reviews of my shop on Etsy.

About my Makeup Brush Roll:
"The brush roll is beautiful, very well-made, and thoughtfully designed. I love how easily it can be cleaned and how well it protects my brushes; the flap that covers them is a great detail. The item shipped quickly as well. I'll certainly recommend your store to friends in the future. Thanks!"

About my Foldover Clutch/Crossbody Bag in Navy Herringbone:
"Such a beautiful bag! I've received so many compliments, even from strangers, on this bag! It's well made, great for travel and concerts, as well as every day use. I love it!"

On a Custom Order for a Canvas Tote Bag:
"What a beautiful bag!! The precise details are flawless and the quality is second to none. I will most certainly visit this shop again!"

About my Makeup Bag in Navy Herringbone:
"Love, love my new cosmetic bag! It is beautifully well-made and the fabric is nice and soft. It shipped within the time frame specified. I bought another bag on Etsy at the same time and I was disappointed with my other purchase, but this one exceeded my expectations! I will definitely purchase from this shop again. Thanks!"
"Not only is this amazing quality, it was delivered super fast! It's going to be a gift and I know she'll love it as much as I do."

So there it is.  A little self-promotion in my online space.  I think that's okay once in a while.  Have a warm weekend!  

Friday, October 17, 2014

Friday Five: Things I Did This Week

For this week's Friday Five, I'm sharing five things I did this week.  It's a little bit random, but there's some good stuff here.


1.  Made a checkbook cover.  Does anyone else still write checks?  Unfortunately, I have to for some things.  But never, never in line at the grocery store.  Never.

Screenshot.  Content belongs to

2.  Discovered and binged on, the blog of Elise Blaha Cripe.  Seriously awesome.  And not just because her name is Elise.  And not just because she has the exact same planner as I do.  Weird.  Also listened to her podcast, Elise Gets Crafty

3.  Started using a discbound notebook system.  It's a neat idea. 

4.  Pre-washed some Kraft-Tex.  Don't know what to do with it.  I have to disagree with the masses on this one:  to me, it doesn't feel like leather.  It feels like paper.  It is paper.  I'm not saying I dislike it; in fact I think I'll like sewing with it.  But it is not like leather.  It's good fabric-paper.. paper-fabric (?).  But it. is. not. leather.

5.  Took photos of Rory.  As I do every week day  :-)

Have a fun weekend! 

Friday, October 10, 2014

Friday Five: Finds for Fall

Before I begin, can we acknowledge and appreciate the alliteration in this post’s title?  I love alliteration.  I also love irony, and a good word pun.  Alright, moving on

In keeping with my determination to write more, I’m kicking off a series called “Friday Five.”  This concept isn’t new, but it’s new to me.  Each Friday, I’ll share five things- they may be tangible things, or they may be thoughts.  This week I’m sharing five items I’m loving this Fall, because here in New England, Fall can come fast, and it can also be fleeting.  Here’s to enjoying Fall while it lasts.

friday five finds for fall

  1. "Wicked, Good" Fortune Cookie Soap  This fortune cookie shaped "bar" of soap smells like pumpkin and cinnamon and all those other overly sweet, migraine-inducing scents.  Personally, pumpkin is the one scent with which I prefer not to fill my house by way of a three wick candle.  With that said however, a festive hand washing won't hurt.  And, living in Vermont, I'm pretty sure I'm required to try it.  I'm not from New England, but I've lived here long enough to know that when someone says it's "Wicked Good," you try it.

  2. Thick Knit Headband Ear Warmer by AquaGiraffe  I've been following Kimberly Rae of AquaGiraffe for a short while.  She makes great-looking, affordable jewelry.  Truth is, my life in the country is just not fancy enough for statement necklaces, but it is most certainly cold enough for her new knit ear warmers.  These machine-washable (lay flat to dry), cozy headbands are available in cream, charcoal, black, and my favorite, Alaskan Malamute Dog Hair Camouflage!  Just kidding, it's called oatmeal.  But seriously, that's the color I ordered.  And that is why.

  3. Soup and Cracker Bowl by Hertzpottery  Cold weather calls for hot soup, and thanks to a good friend's cooking skills and entrepreneurship, I get to enjoy a new soup each week through the Fall and Winter.  This stoneware pottery soup and cracker bowl is perfect for all possible pairings of the hot and crunchy.  Importantly, It's microwave and dishwasher safe.  I know I'm not the only one who sees "hand wash only" as a deal-breaker. 

  4. Women's Crescent Sunset Full Zip by The North Face  The fleece jacket is an essential part of the Autumn in Vermont "uniform" for both men and women.  This jacket is very similar to the Patagonia Better Sweater, at a more affordable price point. The material looks like a knit sweater from the outside, but inside it feels like traditional fleece.  It's warm and cozy, and again, dog hair camouflage.  The only thing it's lacking is zippers on the pockets.

  5. Colorado Aspens Fine Art Print by Julie Kate Photography  Just like I'm not one to fill the home with pumpkin and cinnamon scents, you also won't find me scattering those same things and pine cones around the house.  Fall is beautiful, and it's right outside my window.  What is no longer outside my window however, is the view of Colorado Aspens.  I was lucky enough to see them turn yellow in the Rocky Mountains three years in a row.  Of all the fall tree colors I've ever seen, the bright, sunshine-yellow aspens are my favorite.  This is my kind of seasonal decor.
I hope you enjoyed my first Friday Five.  Please know that this is not a sponsored post.  I receive no compensation for mentioning these items.  All opinions are my own.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Sewing Pattern Review: The Senna Tote Bag

Today, for my first sewing pattern review ever, I'm reviewing one of my favorite bag patterns, ever.  The Senna Tote by Vanessa of LBG Studio, for Willow & Co. Pattern Collective is a very versatile, zip-top tote bag.  It has two exterior pockets, and one large interior pocket that can be divided as you wish. 

As with most bag patterns that I purchase, I added a few elements, and chose different interfacings.  I'll summarize my materials and approach to the construction of the bag.


Feature Fabric: Arrows in Coral, Moonlit Collection by Rashida Coleman Hale for Cotton + Steel
Contrast Bottom:  Diversitex Polyester/Cotton Twill Navy
Lining:  Water Repellent Nylon from Frank's Bargain Center in Claremont, NH
Handles + Exterior Pocket Lining:  Roc-Lon #412 Natural Super Muslin
Hardware:  YKK #3 Nylon Coil Zipper*, 1.25" Gold-toned Metal Diecast Zinc Slides
Interfacing:  Pellon Thermolam Plus Sew-in, Pellon 50 Heavyweight Sew-in, Pellon 926 Extra-Firm Stabilizer, Warm & White Cotton Batting
*A note about the zipper:  The materials list calls for a 22 inch nylon coil zipper, which is then cut to 19.75 inches.  So really, you can get away with a 20 inch zipper (trimmed down), or simply make longer end tabs if you need to use a shorter zipper, or to allow use of a metal zipper.  The important thing is that the total length be 19.75" after attaching the end tabs.


I was more than pleased with the instructions and illustrations in this pattern.  The wording is clear; not confusing whatsoever.  There was never a point in the process that I was unsure of what to do.  The pattern pieces are easy to assemble, and there are cutting instructions for the rectangular pieces if you want to save paper.  The line drawings are BETTER than process photographs, in my opinion.  I was most nervous about the "corners" where the zipper end tabs meet the side seams, but I was pleasantly surprised with how easily it came together.  Vanessa has you sew "dot to dot" to attach the zipper, and it works out quite well as long as you follow her seam allowances.  I'm happy with the result.




The pattern calls for quilting cotton and some combinations of Pellon SF101 and canvas as interlining.  I like to add some softness to a bag when possible, so instead I used Pellon Thermolam Plus Sew-in for the entire body of the bag, and added Pellon 926 to the contrast bottom for structure. I used Pellon 50 to interline the exterior pockets sandwiched between my feature fabric and my favorite muslin, Roc-Lon #412 Super Muslin.  The back of the bag has a unique pocket that spans the entire width.  This would be perfect for file folders or larger items.


For the handles, I used Super Muslin and a single layer of Warm & White for some padding.  I also added tri-bar hardware for ome visual interest.


I kept the interior simple, using a water repellent nylon in anticipation of using this as a beach or pool bag someday.  I interlined the pocket again with Pellon 50, and divided it into equal thirds.  Lastly, I skipped the zipper topstitching.  I'm rarely pleased with how my zipper topstitching turns out, so I usually skip it unless I feel the bag looks bare without it.


Overall, I definitely recommend this pattern.  As I said above, the instructions and illustrations are clear, and the process is enjoyable.  The Senna Tote Bag Pattern is available from Willow & Co.  I am also offering this bag made to order in my Etsy Shop.

I've linked this post to the following (check out what others are making!):
Show Off Saturday @ SewCanShe
InspireUs Thursdays @ The Inspired Wren
Purse Palooza @ SewSweetness

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

An Overdue Update + Pumpkin Dog Biscuits

makeupbag with coffee and card

In the almost one year since my last post, I’ve completed many projects, sold quite a few, and most importantly, learned so much about sewing and more particularly, bag construction.  I continue to improve my techniques with each bag I make.

I started this blog as a place to elaborate more about my sewing projects, particularly the ones for sale, but I found that after I spent so much time photographing and describing the items, there was little left to say, especially since I sell only a few items- in different prints.

So I’ve decided to change the purpose of this blog from “making things” to “making.”   After all, we all make things everyday, whether it’s making something great, making something better, or making a mess.  We’ll see if this approach prompts me to write more.  

With that said, here's something I made recently: Pumpkin, Parsley, and Oat Dog Biscuits.

There are lots of homemade dog treat and dog biscuit recipes out there.  I didn't follow any single one, instead I chose a few ingredients I wanted to incorporate to make my own recipe.  Pumpkin is a great digestive regulator, which is good for Rory's sensitive stomach, and parsley is known to help with "doggy breath."  So I ended up with canned pumpkin, dried parsley, and oats as my main ingredients, with egg and whole wheat flour as "binders."  The results is a a dense dog biscuit that, when left to dry for a few hours, ends up hard on the outside, and still a bit chewy on the inside.

fall pumpkin dog biscuits

Pumpkin, Parsley, & Oat Dog Biscuits Recipe
  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin or pumpkin puree
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 Tablespoon dried parsley flakes
  • 2 Tablespoons nonfat powdered milk
  • 1 cup old fashioned oats, ground (I use a food processor)
  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Mix all ingredients to make a stiff, dense dough.  This can be done by hand, or use a stand mixer with a dough hook.  Add a splash of water if needed to make the dough pliable.  Roll the dough to desired thickness, and cut shapes with a knife or cookie cutter.  Place biscuits onto an ungreased baking sheet and bake for 40 minutes, flipping them over halfway through.  Turn off the oven and leave the biscuits inside for several hours or overnight to dry out.  The less moisture that remains, the longer these will keep at room temperature.  Freeze in a zip top bag to make then last even longer.


rory fall