Monday, January 17, 2011

Etsy Saver

Not only do I sell on Etsy, I love to shop Etsy. And I love a bargain. So you can imagine my excitement when Etsy Saver came about. Rosalie Gale of Shower Art is the brains behind Etsy Saver, Unanimous Craft and Barter Sauce.

Etsy Saver is a collection of Coupon Codes offered by Etsy sellers. I've even been known to list a coupon code here and there. It's worth checking out.
Just wanted to take a moment to share this great site - and be sure to click on Rosalie's other sites, they are just as awesome! On each site she has a link so that you can follow her on FB as well. Do it!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

I see rainbows in our future...

It's been settled. My daughter's birthday theme will be rainbows. We attended a crafty rainbow birthday party last month and I guess it made an impression. But she has her own idea of how it's going to go.

She has invited her entire preschool class - that's 18 kids not including ours. We have a decent size house, but it's winter in Washington, so there isn't going to be much room for overflow since we can't count on going outside.

She has requested one craft. And apparently that craft will be decorating their own party hat. I think it's a great idea - but I think we are going to go with stickers to avoid glue in a house with 20 kids and their parents.

She wants rainbow decorations and a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. A pinata, cake, and games will in there somewhere as well. She has even gone as far as telling me what gift we are giving her.

I think this is the first party in a while that I have the theme a month before the party... which is exciting. This means I get to actually do some planning. I'll share details here as I have them. I'm hoping to include lots of handmade goodies!

Monday, January 10, 2011

A new year - more ideas!

This one came while I was finishing up with a thread color and knew that the bobbin was almost gone. Rather than pull it out with just a little left, I wanted to use it up. Of course, I don't like to waste even the tiniest bit of thread (I have a bowl that I keep pieces that are long enough for hand stitching - yes, it's an illness and I'm working on it) so I decided to experiment.
I sandwiched a piece of fleece between a scrap of recycled t-shirt sleeve and started sewing. Once I ran out of thread in the bobbin (it was just enough), I cut out the shape and embellished it by hand. I had enough forethought to include a loop of elastic on one side and made it into a cuff. Obviously I was happy with the result as I now have about 8 of them made and several more in the works. I'm thinking about adding these cuffs to the NueToMe shop. They are really comfortable. I had forgotten I had tried it on and wore it for about an hour before I realized I was still wearing it.

Friday, January 7, 2011

New Year - New Items

It isn't my plan to promote much of my store's happenings on this blog... but I am hoping to clear out some inventory to make room for all my new ideas. I'm discontinuing the Feathered Headband and the old style of Antennae (I have redesigned it) in addition to closing out some older items and seconds.

This means you can get some pretty good deals in the World of Whimm shop right now (I'll be doing this with the NueToMe shop as well, I just can't do them both at the same time!).

Starting next week I'll be posting some new, fancier masks (simple masks will remain available as well)... and I'm hoping within the next few weeks to get some more wings, antennae, tails and horned headbands up as well.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Fabric Fortune Cookie Tutorial

I've made these fortune cookies from tons of different fabrics with many different techniques. Here's my current favorite (at the end I'll leave links to other techniques)

Start with a circle (I'm using fleece because it's thick and holds it's shape nicely) approximately 4" in diameter. I used a plastic tub top for my template.

Fold the circle in half and mark the center along the folded edge.

Stitch along the center where you have marked it, starting about half an inch to three quarters inch away from the circle edge.

Remove any excess threads.
Open on end of the semi-circle and fold it back toward the center stitch.

Repeat with the other side. Insert fortune into the middle (I didn't add a fortune because I wanted to be able to add it later as my daughter was still signing her Valentines).

Bring both sides together matching the edges.

Beginning on one end about three quarters of an inche from the end (so you can insert a fortune), stitch around the cookie.

And your cookie is done! Super simple and easy to mass produce. I made these for my daughter's Valentines and they were a big hit.

You can add a paper fortune or use ribbon.
This makes a great teacher gift. I made a few big fortune cookies and left the end open. I had the parents and kids write something nice about each of their teachers on small strips of paper and put them inside the cookie. They were well recieved.
Here are the links I promised...
Brassy Apple (requires ironing - which I despise... the ironing, the cookie is super cute)
Keepin It Real (same concept, using different fabrics - and more sewing)
Crafty Staci (made larger to hold gift money)

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

CPSIA - I shake my fist at you!

Did I mention that another goal for 2011 is to work on compliance to the CPSIA (Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act)? The CPSIA was approved several years ago and among other things, requires all items intended for children under 12, to be lead tested as well as tagged with a bunch of information. Initially, the requirements were so ridiculous (don't get me wrong, some of them still are) that it would cost us hundreds to sell one handmade item worth $30. It's not that I don't think that our children's safety is important... but I do think that common sense could be used. Yes, the CPSIA threatens to put small businesses out of business. And while I really wanted to comply with "the law", I went into denial because at the time, the requirements were just too far out of reach. I wasn't ready to lose my small business. I started making children's items because I love doing it. I started making them to give children something more durable, unique and yes, something safer than the mass produce items that are in stores.

Luckily, while I was in denial, a few things happened that make compliance a possibility. Items made from fabric don't need to be lead tested... but do need to be labelled. Items with buttons, zippers, snaps, etc. still need to be tested, but if they made from natural materials (i.e. wood), they don't need to be tested, just labelled.

So, I started looking into compliance again and I came up with a plan that I could hopefully do without having to increase my prices a ridiculous amount.

The plan:
  • stop using buttons on crowns - buttons will be replaced with wool beads
  • replace buttons on capes and cuffs with natural wood buttons
  • label products with contents, care instructions, manufactured location, website, lot number and date
  • do all this for less than $1 per item

That last one is the problem. I'm having trouble keeping the cost of these changes down. Today I made some labels (see photo) by using transfer paper printed on the computer, cut to size and ironed onto ribbon. While a relatively easy and straight forward project, it took me a long time to make a total of 28 labels. Not cool. Not only that, the labels are not nice and soft - which I have issues with. And that time doesn't even account for the time that it'll take me to track all the information for each lot and the materials used.

So, I need to re-evaluate. It seems wrong to have to increase my prices several dollars just because of the labels I'm required to put on them. But I also don't have the time to invest in making labels. 28 labels is not going to last me very long. And because of the varying content of each item I make, it's also very expensive for me to have them printed for me.

And the buttons I need? Well, those are almost $1 per button. Compare that to the .10 a button I was paying before (most I found for even less). I am currently researching making these myself so that there is one large initial investment... but over time, it will keep my cost low.

So, CPSIA... I shake my fist at you!

** please note, I have not covered all the requirements of the CPSIA. I also recite these requirements as I understand them. If I have incorrect information, please feel free to post accurate information in comments.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Mmmmm... Ice Cream.

I made this treasury (collection of Etsy items) when I was craving ice cream one night. I don't really eat Neopolitan ice cream because I don't care much for strawberry ice cream. But I do love these colors together. These also remind me of Valentines Day... which is right around the corner!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Goals for 2011

I love the start of a New Year. Mainly because it seems to be a great time to make changes. I love change... and at the first of the year I can make changes without too many people questioning me. Change is normal at the first of New Year, right?

I'm not big on resolutions - they never seem to wok out for me. But at the first of every New Year, I do like to assess where I am and where I'd like to be. I try to give myself a few goals for the New Year to help me along the way.

This year, I have many both for myself, my family and my business. Of course, it's easier to make these happen if I put it in writing and commit. So, here it goes...

Personal Goals:

Improve my health. 2010 was a great year for my business... but it definitely took it's toll on my health. This year I hope to put more time, energy and care into my own health. This will include exercising and eating right. I'll work more on balancing my small business(es) with my personal life.

Become a better homemaker. Yep, it's finally starting to bother me. My lack of ability to keep a clean house, dinner on the table and kids on schedule. This is my year to be super mom & super wife (actually, I'll just settle for being a good mom & a good wife).

Family Goals:

More dinners together. This doesn't mean more meals out... we certainly had enough of those last year. I want more home cooked meals at our own table. It can be hard to get all four of us together at a decent time at night, so I'm aiming for at least two meals during the week with all four of us... the rest will have to be just three (my husband often gets home late... or I am often stuck in bed by 5). So far, so good. We have the table clear so that we can all sit at the same table without having to look over mounds of paper.

More quality time with the kids. This is hard working from home. The kids often get my filtered attention - if I'm not multi-tasking, my mind is elsewhere trying to figure out the latest issue with my business. But this year, I'd like to dedicate more focused time with each kid both together and separately. We will turn off the television and video games and we will do crafts again, we will play board games, and we will play outside. My husband and I will spend time with each of our children separately and give them a special day with one of us at least once a month.

Teach independence. My kids are spoiled... and it doesn't even occur to them that most of things they ask us to do for them, they could (and should) be doing themselves. This year I plan on making more of an effort to empower them... while I think this is going to be painful in the beginning, it's going to be good for all of us.

Business Goals:

Wholesale. With my business partner (mom) now retired, it's going to become more important that we have steadier sales. I'm hoping to achieve this through wholesale. I'm formulating a plan for this and hope to have it up and running my March. Stay tuned... I'll share details as I get them in place.

Plan ahead. I was fortunate enough to have a rockin' last several months of the year - and without doing holiday shows! But it took a toll on my health, so this year I am planning ahead. I'll do my best to spread the work throughout the first part of the year. Make more t-shirt costumes, bump up my popular items, work on a work schedule, etc. I'm still not clear on how it will all work out, but I'm starting to think about it now rather than in October.

Improve blog. This blog post will be posted both on my worldofwhimm.blogspot blog and my new on-a-whimm.blogspot blog. I'm starting fresh for the new year as I have new ideas and I'd like to try to make my blog a little more cohesive. This will be my final post on the worldofwhimm.blogspot blog... so please be sure to follow my new blog. All tutorials will eventually be moved over to the new blog and I hope to delete the old blog by summer (or at the very least, the end of year).

Of course, I do have more ideas of things I'd like to change... but this is a long list already, so I'll be reassessing in a few months.

I think I'll also make a one year bucket list... things I'd like to do before the end of the year... a list of fun things :) I could use more fun in my life.

I'd love to hear what you have planned for the New Year as well!


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