Tag Archive | Time

Harriet The Big Dragon

After finishing Franklin the black panther, I picked up the momma dragon pieces and decided to make it my next “in process” amigurumi to complete.

I started the crocheting of the pieces for this dragon with the legs. After crocheting the legs and attaching them together, I started crocheting the body. I kept crocheting and crocheting and crocheting. Was this body ever going to end? Was the body alone going to take a whole skein of yarn?

I had crocheted about half of the body when I decided I had better start stuffing the body before I could no longer reach the legs. So, I started stuffing, and I kept stuffing and stuffing, and stuffing. Was I going to use a whole bag of stuffing to stuff the body of this dragon? Even with stuffing the body relatively flat in shape, I was still using a lot of stuffing.

A little flustered by the crocheting and the stuffing of the legs and body, I stopped working on them and crocheted and stuffed the arms, hoping that a break from the body would help me feel better about finishing it when I started working on it again. It did not. I felt like I was never going to finish the body. By the time I finally got the legs and body of this dragon done, I had grown very weary of crocheting this dragon.

And so I put this amigurumi aside and started another one.

Now, the time had come to finish this amigurumi. After all the crocheting I had done to complete the legs and body, it was easy to crochet and stuff the rest of the pieces for this dragon. Assembly of this dragon went smoothly but took extra time due to all the little pieces the dragon had to have stitched on, like the horns, spikes, tail, body spot, ears and wings. I believe the assembly went so smoothly because the the majority of the stuffing was already done and it was fun to see the dragon develop as the the extra pieces were added.

Once the dragon was completed, I fell in love with her. The long slender body was complimented by the small size of the spikes, wings and horns. The combination just looked so cute. This large dragon was not named until the completion of the baby dragon but that is a story for the next post. Stay tuned to read that story.

Until then, crochet forth and big momma dragon on!

COGS and COSTS

img_4652-1I was recently presented with the opportunity to sell some of my amigurumi’ s and children’s clothes and blankets at a farmer’s market. Most of the venders at the market were selling produce but there were a few craft vendors so I decided to join them. I would like to tell you about my selling experience and what I learned from selling my wares.

First off, I do not want to start a crafting or sewing business. Crocheting and sewing is my hobby. It’s what I do with my down time to relax. But, with that said, supplies are expensive. Yarn and fabric cost money. So, I decided that I could sell some of my amigurumi’s and children’s clothes to help pay for the supplies to make more.

img_4645I have thought several times before about selling some of the items that I have made, but every time I looked into the cost of doing so, I stopped there. I could set up an online Etsy store, but with the many amigurumi’s already being sold on Etsy, would I ever sell anything? Plus if I did sell something could I charge enough to make enough money to cover the cost of the store and shipping costs along with the cost of supplies to make the items? I could sell my items on eBay, but once again, after paying eBay and PayPal fees plus the cost of supplies would I make any money doing that?

Over the years, I have thought about selling some items at craft fairs, but once again, the cost of the booths stops me. When I asked how much a booth would cost at most craft shows, I was quoted between $75.00 and $125.00. That was too much for me. I did not believe that I would sell enough items to even cover the cost of the booth at those prices, let alone the cost of supplies.

img_5484You will notice that I never include the cost of my labor to make the items in my questions above. I learned long ago if you make around 50 cents an hour for your labor to make your crafts, you are doing quite well. Because of that I didn’t bother trying to include the labor portion of my cost of goods sold into the equations above.

When I talked to the manager of the farmer’s market, she said the cost would be $10.00 for the spot for the season plus 12% of my profits. That did not seem like too much to me, plus rather than laying out money up front, the cost was based on what I sold.

img_4647If I sold only a little, then they only got a little of what I sold. This sounded great, but, of course, there was a catch. I had to have my own tables and a canopy. I did not already have these things, so I would have to purchase them to be able sell at the farmer’s market. Luckily, I found both folding tables and a canopy on sale, but the cost was still about $100.00.

This initial startup cost almost stopped me from selling at the farmer’s market but after some thought, I decided that these were useful purchases, and could be used for other purposes other than for selling at the farmer’s market. Folding tables are always useful and nice to have on hand, and the canopy could be used in the back yard for holidays and family events. Plus, if I sold multiple weeks at the market, that $100.00 cost could be spread out over several weeks of selling.

img_4648Of course purchasing the tables and canopy was only the first step in getting ready to sell at the farmer’s market. Next, I had to figure out my COGS or the Cost Of the Goods I was selling, and then based on that number determine what I wanted to sell each item for. I decided to price my amigurumi’s based on size, complexity, and cost to replace the supplies to make the same amigurumi again. The clothes and blankets were harder to price but eventually, they were priced based on style, embroidery, and size.

Since this is my hobby, I did not calculate the cost of my time to make the amigurumi or the clothes. If I had added the cost of my time into the price, I would have priced myself out of the market and no one could have afforded what I was selling. So, luckily, I was not expecting a wage from my wares.

img_4649Selling at the farmer’s market was not easy or fun for me. I knew that I could not just sit on a chair by my tables of goods and people would walk by and throw money at me. I knew I had to sell my items which meant selling me, the creator.

Why would some one pay good money for what I had made?

I had to show and tell them why they would. I had to tell stories about my item’s creation. I had to express my love and concern that each of my amigurumi have a good home. I had to make small talk and entertain my potential customers and hope that my efforts were not in vain, and that someone would be interested and buy my goods.

img_4650This was very difficult for me. I had purposely over priced my items a little so that I could bargain a little with people, because everyone loves a deal! So, when it came time for people to get out some money to pay me or they seemed to not really be interested in what I was selling, I would offer them a lower price. This ended up not being a good selling practice, and it did cost me some money.

I really struggled with this, especially before I had made the first sell of the day, or when too many people had walked by without showing any interest in my goods. I can’t say that my selling techniques improved much over time, but luckily the husband was with me and he helped to keep me in check as well as to help with the selling of my items, especially on the rare occasion that I had multiple customers at the same time.

img_4651I learned very quickly that my amigurumi’s caught people’s attention and they would stop and look and sometimes buy, but that they had no interest in my handmade children’s clothing and baby blankets. In all the weeks that I sold at the farmer’s market, I only sold one blanket and one child’s shirt (which was sold at a deep discount).

I sold at the farmer’s market for a couple of weeks, and each week I sold a few items, but I decided that it was not for me. First, people did not come to the farmer’s market to buy a teddy bear or a little girl’s dress. They were there to spend their money on fresh tomatoes and peaches. What I was selling was an after thought for them. Next, I had to spend my precious days off selling my items at the market.

It was a full day event since I had to be there early enough to set up the canopy, tables and my goods before the market opened and I had to be there until the market closed. Then I had to carefully pack back up my goods and take down my tables and the canopy and haul it all back to the car. It ended up taking the whole day. The day off that I needed to take care of other things was spent trying to sell a few items. I was a little discouraged by this experience and did not think that I ever wanted to sell my items again.

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But wouldn’t you know it, opportunity knocked again…

I was asked to be the monthly featured artist at an art walk for one of the downtown stores in old town. It was just one evening for a couple of hours so I decided to do it. I arrived at the store an hour before the art walk started, and I set up my tables and displayed my wares on the sidewalk in front of the store. I was not really in the mood to sell to people, but I knew once again that if I wanted anyone to buy my items, I had to hawk my wares.

img_6541This time though, I did not cut any prices quickly and I did not care if I sold anything since there was no cost involved other than my time. At first, no one seemed to be interested in my items and I hadn’t sold a thing. After an hour or so, I commented to the husband that I doubted that I would sell anything this evening.

But shortly after I made my comment things started to change. More people started to arrive at the art walk and more people were interested in my amigurumi’s (Once again though, no one even looked at the children’s clothes and blankets. I did sell one child’s shirt, but this time not at a deep discount.)

img_6539I once again talked to the people who stopped to look and I sold my items, but this time I let them fall in love with my amigurumi’s and pay me my asking price. I did bargain with a few people but I felt better about these sales than I did at the farmer’s market. I believe it was because I had a better and more receptive audience for selling at the art walk. The people who had come to the art walk were interesting in seeing something fun and unique. Plus, I was much more relaxed about selling.

img_6540When the night was done, I had sold more in the couple of hours at the art walk than I had the several weeks at the farmer’s market. I felt better about the experience and I decided that I could sell my wares again but I would be very selective as to where and when.

But, before I can sell anymore amigurumi’s, I have got to get some more made. Between what I sold at the farmer’s market and what I sold at the art walk, my collection of amigurumi’s is now quite small. I would not feel comfortable doing another display of my wares until I get some more amigurumi’s made.

So, with that being said I had better get crocheting! Stay tuned to see what fun things I make next!

Until then, sew and crochet forth and sell on!

Bad Habits – Cutting Corners And Skipping Steps

'Gee, I don't know. Can I see this in another mirror?'

I did something that I have not done in at least 15 years. I went to the store, picked out 6 pairs of denim pants in my size, took them to the fitting room, tried each pair on, selected the pair that had the most acceptable fit of the six, then purchased that pair of pants. This experience got me thinking about several things.

First, why was I buying Ready To Wear (RTW) pants?

As you can tell from the recent slow down in the frequency of my blog posts, life happens, and the only sewing that I have been able to do recently is a little mending here and there. Thankfully I knew quite awhile ago just when these life changes were coming.

life-change-aheadBecause of that I took the precious little sewing time that I still had left to make myself a couple of new pairs of work pants, but I did not get a pair of casual denim pants made before my time ran out. At the time, this was fine. It was still summer, and I was wearing shorts on my days off, but it’s starting to get colder now, and I need long pants to wear most days. Because of this I had to make a decision, either quickly whip up a pair of denim pants cutting as many corners as possible to save time, or to head to the store to  purchase a pair of denim pants. I choose the later.

My  first thought when I decided to purchase a pair of pants instead of making them was the famous minion refrain ”WWHHAATTT?!?” “You’re a seamstress! You have the tools, the fabric, and the notions! Get your butt in there and sew yourself a new pair of pants!”

'I knew there was part of the pattern missing!'

But, with the very little time that I had available to make the pants, I would have had to cut every corner possible to get them done in time. I would not have washed and pre-shrunk the fabric. I would not have finished the seams properly or completely, and I wouldn’t hem the pants to the proper length either. I would have just rolled the hem under and hope that it stayed with a quick ironing or a big safety pin.

This lead my next thought to be, “Is this really the way you want to sew something? Do you want to do a poor sewing job just to get the item done in the time you have available?” The answer was easy for me. No! I did not want to wear a pair of pants that were sewn that way!

deadlines-1p2cpw7There was a time long ago when I first started sewing that I sewed only for the end result, regardless of how poor of a job that I did. When I first started sewing, my mom, who is a advanced and skilled seamstress, trying to encourage me, would say, “Oh, it should only take 30 minutes for you to make that t-shirt”, or “You’ll have that dress whipped up in an hour.” She was trying to let me know that sewing was fun, quick and easy and, in no time at all that I would have a finished wearable item.

But, I misinterpreted my mom words at the time! I made sewing a timed event. When it took me 2 days instead of 2 hours to sew something, I figured I was a failure and that I was doing something wrong, so to compensate I would try to sew the item too quickly, cut corners, and skip steps to complete the project in the allotted time.

02d0fcf10d4a027a72e27973cf29abc7My goal was only to get the item finished in the proper amount of time. When I finally figured out that every sewing project did not have a deadline, and that I could take the time that I needed to complete a project properly, I enjoyed sewing a lot more. Sewing became fun and I began to enjoy the process, plus my finished items were of a much higher quality and they wore a lot better.

Another reason that I was willing to cut corners and skip steps to get the finished item completed quickly, was that when I was first starting to sew I grew tired and bored of a project. I just wanted it to be done and over with so that I could start on another project. I would often say “I should really unpick this and sew this again, but I’m not going to. I will just do better on the next project.” I quickly learned that when I did this, I was not pleased with the finished item, and I was not enjoying the sewing process at all because I knew I could have sewn it better.

SLIGHTLY Irregular Designer Jeans.

So, when it came to going back to poor sewing habits just to complete a pair of pants, I decided that I would rather use the little time I had to carefully sew a few seams on a current project, or thoughtfully plan a future project, or, if I just needed to sew,  I would just make a baby sleeper or two. For a needed pair of pants though, I would just see what the Ready To Wear world had available for me instead. I would leave the poor sewing in my past.

Hopefully, life will change again soon, and I will have more sewing time available to me in the future!

Until then, sew forth and enjoy the process on!

Great Balls Of Yarn

images-21WindThere comes a time in all crocheter’s crafting when they have to stop and “wind” a little…

No, not the thing that blows outdoors and makes a mess of our hair when we go outside, nor the drink we must stop and have some of to keep us sane while crocheting, that’s “wine”. And trust me, there is plenty of “whining” and “complaining” amongst us crocheters. But in this case I am talking about “to wind”, as in I needed to wind a ball of yarn. So, the time had come for me to whine about doing some winding.

aid460789-728px-Wind-a-Yarn-Ball-Step-1-preview-Version-2skein-band1As I looked at my buckets of yarn, I noticed many half used skeins of yarn. Skeins that were disappearing from the inside out as I pulled from the center of the skien to make my latest amigurumi’s. Skeins that were floppy and falling apart, no longer holding their once nice new shape. I also noticed that when it was time for me to start another amigurumi, I raced to the yarn stash to retrieve a nice new firm skein of yarn for the project, rather than deal with the half used floppy skeins lying in the yarn bucket from a former amigurumi project. It was finally time to remedy this by winding these half used floppy skeins into nice firm easily used balls of yarn.

TutorialIMG_4310Back when I first started crocheting, I found it very flustering to crochet from a hand wound ball of yarn. As I crocheted, the ball would roll. It would roll off my lap, across the room and down the hall, at which time I would have to stop crocheting, and chase down my ball of yarn. And worse, if I was crocheting in the car, the ball of yarn rolled off my lap and onto the dirty car floor. I quickly learned how to wind a ball of yarn so that it pulled from the center, just like a new skein of yarn. This was great except it took more time and care to wind the ball in this manner. Also as you crocheted from the center of the ball, the ball became half used and floppy just like a skein does as it is used, so you had to stop and re-wind the ball again. But, for me, it was worth taking the the extra time and care to wind the ball with the center pull and then re-wind the ball as needed, so as not to have to chase that crazy ball of yarn around the house.

IMG_3796IMG_4308So, as I sat down with a good movie and my bucket of floppy skeins of yarn and got to winding some yarn balls. When I was done, I had this gorgeous box of yarn balls and my creative mind went nuts. It was like I had purchased a whole new box of various skeins of yarn. I could see all kind of fun amigurumi’s made from these balls of yarn and I could not wait to get crocheting again.

So stay tuned for some fun new amigurumi’s from my great balls of yarn!

I Don’t Like Spam!

imageBut I do love my new ham!

Over the years, as my sewing career has progressed, I have found that I iron more and more during the sewing process. This fact has lead me to purchase my first ironing tool, a ham.

When I finally decided to purchase a ham to aid in my ironing while sewing, I went to Joann’s and gasped at the price of the ham, and debated if I really needed one. With the help of a coupon, I purchased a ham for half off and went home to try it out.

imageUsing the ham was an instant success!

How did I ever iron without one? The ham made ironing curves and seams so much easier. I did notice though that using the ham in the ironing process was time consuming.

As you know, ironing is all about positioning. Ironing a little, move the fabric, ironing a little more, then move the fabric. With the ham, there is more moving of the fabric to iron the piece that is on the ham compared to ironing without the ham. But, the end results, the nicely pressed seams and the ease of ironing that seam, are worth the extra time and work of using the ham.

imageSince the use of the ham has been such a success, I have started looking at other ironing tools like a sleeve roll or a clapper. I do see some new purchases of ironing tools in my future.

Until then sew forth and iron on!

Have Yourself Some Merry Little Christmas Crafting.

T’was the night before Christmas and all through the house, not a creature was stirring…

EXCEPT for the crazy crocheter with visions of grandeur still frantically crocheting her Christmas mouse!

2015 Christmas Card Picture

 

I told myself NO CHRISTMAS PROJECTS this year, despite all the wonderful ideas and patterns there are to read about in the blogosphere and on Ravelry for Christmas crafters.

But, right around Thanksgiving the Christmas crafting bug bit me and I decided that just one little, teeny, tiny, project that could be easily completed before Christmas came and went would be ok to make.

This project needed to be something small and simple that could be made with minimal stress and time. As I looked at my patterns and some ideas on line, I found this pattern for some amigurumi Christmas light bulbs and picked it to be my one and only Christmas crafting project for this year.

The pattern for these Christmas light bulbs is very simple and it only took a couple of Christmas movies for me to have 10 bulbs, 2 of each color, crocheted up. It took a few more Christmas movies to stuff the 10 bulbs, and then I had to stop watching movies altogether so that I could concentrate on the details of these Christmas bulbs. The devil is always in the details isn’t it?

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It took just a few minutes to stitch the tops of the Christmas bulbs closed once they were stuffed. I decided to use googly eyes instead of safety eyes, so, with the husbands help, it only took a few more minutes to glue the eyes on to each bulb. But now the long process of giving each bulb a smile and a personality started.

I tried big smiles, small smiles, v-shaped smiles, rounded smiles, and crazy zig-zag smiles but nothing looked good to me. I finally decided on smaller v-shaped smiles. I was using black yarn to make the smiles but the black yarn was not showing up well on the darker color bulbs so I tried white yarn instead. That looked awful, so I switched to some silver color yarn. After much trial and error, I completed the 10 smiles on the Christmas bulbs.

Now, what should I do with 10 Christmas crocheted amigurumi light bulbs? I could chain them together into a string of lights to make one Christmas decoration. Or I could put a bulb on a long piece of string or yarn and make it a necklace for all my friends and coworkers, but who wants a silly Christmas light bulb necklace? At last, I decided to make them up as Christmas tree ornaments.

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I dug through the closet and found some silver and gold metallic cording to make loops to hang these Christmas light bulb ornaments. I carefully cut even lengths of the cording, and threaded the cording through the top of each bulb. I knotted the cording, planning to twist the cording around and then hide the knot in the top of the bulb but this did not work.

The knots in the cording were too big to pull into the stuffing at the top of the bulbs. In hind sight, if I had stuffed the tops of the bulbs less, this would have worked, but I stuffed the tops good and plenty so hiding the knots in the top was not an option. I tried using yarn instead of the cording but that did not look as good. The silver and gold cording added an elegant Christmas touch to the bulbs. So, after much debate, I decided to just leave the knot at the top of the cording so it was still visible.

This was a great idea and a simple solution except that the bare ends of the cording knots frayed like crazy. I wanted the ends of the knots trimmed close but then the cording would fray and the knot would come untied. Flustered, I turned to the husband who said one word.

GLUE!

So thank heavens for clear drying glue. So, after carefully knotting and trimming the cording ends, I doused the knots and ends in glue to seal the cording, stop the fraying and keep the knot tied. After much patience with the knotting, cutting and glueing, the glue dried clear and the Christmas light bulb ornaments were done.

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At first, I did not like what I had made and I thought seriously about tossing the bulbs into the garbage can. But after they sat on the cutting table for a little while, their silliness grew on me and I now think that they are very cute silly little Christmas light bulb ornaments that my friends and family will be more than willing to hang them on their Christmas trees this year.

Until next time, Crochet forth and Christmas craft on!

Why Stand When You Don’t Have To – Simplicity 2907 – Part 2 of 2

P1030696Since I didn’t want the little dress I had started in my last blog post to become a UFO (Un-finished Object), I decided to get started sewing again on this project sooner rather than later. My wounds from the collar are still fresh but I wanted to complete the project and move on to something new.

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With the bodice part of the dress sewn together, it was time to sew the buttons and buttonholes. As I looked at the plain yellow front of the bodice, it was too bland in my opinion, so I decided to add a pocket. I dug through the remaining scraps of cat fabric and found a whole cat to use for the pocket. Because I did not want just part of a cat on the pocket, the pocket came out larger than I would have liked, but I stitched it to the bodice anyway. Luckily before I started to make the buttonholes, I noticed that the pocket was in the way of the fronts of the bodice folding over. When P1030755I folded the front over as though buttoning it together, the top front was on top of the pocket. ARRGHH! So, my choices were to unpick the pocket and make it smaller, unpick the pocket and move it to the other side of the bodice, or to fold the fronts of the bodice the opposite way as if it were a boy’s shirt. Since I was quite flustered with this whole project already, I chose the last option and placed the left front over the right and left the pocket alone where it was. I was smart enough though to run the buttonholes vertically rather than horizontally so that the big pocket was not in the way of the buttonholes stitching.

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The next step was to make the skirt. I decided to line the skirt with some black tricot. The skirt was a simple sew even with the lining and it was done quickly and P1030754ready to be attached to the bodice. There were no sewing problems when attaching the skirt to the bodice but after it was done, I realized just how much of a dropped waist the skirt was and just how thin my yellow fabric was. Ah Crap. You would be able to see the top of the little girl’s panties through the yellow fabric because of this. Here I had done so good about lining the skirt to hopefully solve this problem, but I did not even think about the top part. So, my choices were to try and add a lining to the completed bodice, make a camisole to wear with this dress, or just give the dress to the little neighbor girl and let her mom solve the see through problem with a camisole or undershirt that the little neighbor girl probably already owns. And since I just wanted this project to be done, I picked option number three again. I will ask her mom if she has a camisole to wear under this dress. If her mom says no, I will consider making one. But, since I am not really pleased with the whole construction of this dress overall, I am not excited to put any P1030753more time and effort into this project.

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With this dress completed, my first thought is to just throw this pattern out, but the dress turned out really cute and I still like the style of it. So, I have decided to keep the pattern for now just for the skirt portion of it. If I make this style of dress again, I will find a different pattern for the bodice, one that has a “real” lapel collar and facings but use the skirt from this pattern. I will also pick a larger piece of fabric to start with, make the pocket smaller or just skip the pocket, and line the dress appropriately. Yes, that sounds like a plan, but a future plan, and not one I am very anxious to start right away. But with most of my sewing projects I learned a lot and have taken lots of notes for future projects.

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See you next time and don’t forget to Sew forth and Sew on!