Tuesday, January 4, 2011

I go back and forth

currently my preferred logo
About a lot of things.  But--in this case--about selling things I make.  For me, the idea to sell started out as a fun way to make money.  We all do that, right?  We see something, make it, and think, "That was so easy and cheap!  I could sell these and make a small fortune!"  And then of course after I make the second one I'm sick of it and never want to see another one again.  Or I get side tracked and want to make something else.  Or I go to pick fabric for the next one and go through that whole "well I can't use this fabric yet because I might use it for this other random thing I've been thinking I might maybe make for the past two years" thing and then I get hungry and then I go eat a brownie and then Olivia wakes up and then we go for a walk and then Bryan comes home and then it's time for dinner and then I can't remember why there's fabric all over the bed.  I'm not the only one who does this, right?

But somewhere along the way my mindset has shifted.  And I'm not sure what it's shifted to.  Status?  I think that's what, but I feel a little dumb saying it.  I've been thinking about this a lot lately (again) because, for whatever reason, I've been thinking more about trying to open up shop (again).  Those of you out there who have ever tried to sell anything handmade will understand.  There's just so much more that goes into it than an hour at the sewing machine and posting it online and--bam!--it's sold and gone.  There's trying to pick a price and wondering if it's too high or too low and--will somebody like this fabric?--and then waiting for good light to take pictures.  Not to mention trying to decide what to make in the first place.

I think there are people in the world who think, "I'll make this and then I'll sell it" and they do and it's as simple as that.  But, thus far, I have not been one of those people.  So to be honest, I'm not really sure how to make it all work.  So the prospect of selling my wares excites me, but it also overwhelms and discourages me at the same time.  Is anyone following me here?  Please say yes.  Please tell me I'm not the only semi-talented person in the world who can't get sales to work like (in my head) they should.

But back to selling for status.  I think if you've ever made something by hand and then thought about selling it you've had the inevitable crisis set in about not knowing how much to sell it for.  I've read some interesting (and probably really good) formulas for how to calculate how much to charge for handmade goods.  But what if you don't know how much the materials cost in the first place?  What if it was just some random stuff you were doodling around with from your stash?  Or--worse yet--what if you know in your heart of hearts that nobody would ever pay as much as you would have to charge in order to cover the cost of materials and the cost of your time and skilled labor.  Again, I think there are people out there who just know how to make it all work, but I'm not one of them.  Maybe someday I will be, but definitely not yet.

And so, if you know that (at least for now) you can't charge enough for it to be worth your time and money, then why sell at all?  The answer: status.  The knowledge that people buy your stuff.  People like your style.  You.  Are.  Legit. 

Although apparently I'm not.  Haha.  No, I have sold things I've made a number of times.  But not consistently.  And it just hasn't really felt like a real thing to me in my endeavors thus far.  And I don't really know why, but it's one of those things I think about and want to do.

So I have a little plan.  (We'll see how long I stick with it.)  I'm going to make things "to sell" when I feel like it.  And put them in a little box or something.  And then when there's enough, I'll try and open up shop.  Maybe online.  Maybe at a craft fair of some sort.  Please give me good advice.  Please wish me luck.  And maybe, just maybe, ask for my signature in case I'm famous someday.

The Lewis Family Tragedy and other stories (a book)

Despite my diligence in reminding Bryan that he contributed plenty to all the Christmas presents by going to work and earning money for supplies and playing with Olivia so I could have time to work on things, he still felt he needed to contribute to the gifts.  And I'm glad he did.  Because his contribution turned out super awesome.  At the BYU Bookstore there's a book machine that will print and bind your PDF file into a paperback book.  Cool, no?  Bryan had already taken advantage of the book machine before when he wrote the winning masterpiece Nathaniel Gets Scurvy (a book about a boy who learns to eat his veggies), so he knew what to do to get going on a book for the family.

First he compiled stories that different siblings (and spouses) had written.   The Lewis Family Tragedy was a story that Bryan's little sister Alison wrote when she was younger.  (I just want to say, by the way, that the Lewis family is actually a really nice family.)  The story was written (as far as I'm told) for the specific purpose of being read aloud by the computer (you know, in that terribly automated computer voice) and the challenge was to try and listen to the whole thing without laughing.  Which nobody could do.  In addition to this literary gem, Bryan also compiled funny stories that everyone had written on their blogs.  I was lucky enough to have THIS ONE included (just the part about me throwing the rock at the bee.)  Then Bryan drew funny illustrations.  The Lewis Family Tragedy is fully illustrated, but the rest just have one picture each.

We're super happy with how the books turned out.  They're full of funny family inside jokes.  And even though the book isn't read aloud by the automated computer voice, we really can't get through it without laughing.  :)

For more fun Bryan...ness... you can find his blog HERE.

Edited to add: This was a huge hit at Christmas.  The entire family loved it.  And a lot of the family hadn't read all of the stories inside, so it was fun to pass on that bit of funny (and sometimes false) family history.  :)  Also, Bryan published an online version of the entire book!  You can view it HERE.

Handprint Ornaments

  1. Mix it up
  2. Roll it out
  3. Cut circles with a cookie cutter or cup
  4. Press that sweet little hand in
  5. Poke a straw at the top for a hole
  6. Bake
  7. String a ribbon through it
  8. Once it cools, you can write on the back with a permanent marker.  Easy peasy.

  • Haha--these ornaments are heavy.
  • This would probably work much better with little teeny baby hands.
  • I think this would actually be a better project for a wall hanging than an ornament (see note above about weight).
  • You'll probably need two or three batches of the recipe above to make as many ornaments as we did (five or six... I think).
  • We had to trap Olivia in her high chair after dinner one night in order to do these.  And some hand prints turned out better than others.  With a one year old you just kind of do your best and call it good.  :)
  • In addition to the ones we made for Olivia's grandparents, we also made one for us and one for Olivia to keep.

Despite their hefty nature, I'm so glad we'll have these ornaments around in years to come to remind us of how small and sweet Olivia's hands are right now.  :)

Monday, January 3, 2011

Olivia's Color Book

Olivia loves colors.  Loves them.  And she loves books.  About ten thousand billion times even more than she loves colors.  But when colors and books collide?  Ah, it's a deep an instant love.

She has one color-oriented book that I picked up at the thrift store a long time ago and she loves it.  But it can be a little confusing sometimes.  Because--yes--all the things on any given page are all the same color, but there are all these different things.  Boots, buckets, wagons, socks, crayons, bananas.  So sometimes she's talking about colors and sometimes all she can focus on is that dang banana.  Which isn't bad.  Kids are obviously capable of learning and processing more than one thing at a time.  But sometimes as a mom I like focusing on one thing at a time with her.  So I thought a little book of colors--and only colors--was in order. 

There was going to be a tutorial for this.  And then everything went... not according to plans.  Somehow the whole idea of many many layers of fabric and felt all piled up under my presser foot made it through the brain check... but not the reality check.  Luckily for me I watched my sister bind a lot of books last year when she was living close by.  So I didn't know what I was doing by any means, but at least I had a general idea of the step-by-step.  Anyway, it is a mess under that white binding, that's all I have to say.  Haha.  And, in case you're curious, that white "binding" is a piece of white t-shirt knit that I stretched over everything to just sort of--you know--make it work. 
And for those of you who are really curious, here's generally how it went down:
  • Two layers of fabric with a layer of felt in between
  • Sew each page together together
  • Edgestitch
  • Make up how to sew the whole thing together
Helpful, right?  Haha.  Probably not.  So if you'd like to make one, I recommend checking out this post:
The image of the book in the link above lingering in the back of my mind was what fueled this book for the big O.  If only I had bothered to look at the post again before making it because Jess actually links to the tutorial she used and it looks great!  Ah, well.  Maybe next time.

But it is a book.  And it is colors.  So I'm pretty sure that, despite it's strange construction, Olivia will love it.  And that was the whole point.  :)

Abbi's Princess Lace-up Dolls

  • sweet little princess lace-up dolls from Yellow Mums (great for fine motor development, but also just really adorable)  :)  FYI: I printed these out and had them all ready months ago, but Yellow Mums just recently released a fun new (and also free) line of winter clothes for these dolls!  
  • little pouch made from a bit of fabric, ribbon, velcro, with an unused zipper scrap for the handle 

All this for a little girl who loves princesses.  :)

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Alison's Make-up Bag

  • Just a simple little made-up make-up bag

Lined with a layer of muslin and a layer of clear vinyl.  (It's hard to sew with vinyl, by the way).  And umbrellas for the girl who loves rain.  :)

Fabric from Cherry Lane Textiles

Inside the bag she found...

  • a yellow lace headband (available HERE)
  • a funky little binders board ornament (that I may or may not have made last year and then forgotten to send to her--heh heh)

The ribbon just so happens to match the ribbon that the zipper pull on the make-up pouch is made from.  Go figure.
  • a sweet little zipper pouch

I love how this one turned out.  I love the little hearts on the tag.  I love the colors.  I love the funky brown zipper.  I love the pink lining.  I just love everything about it.

  • a pair of earrings made by yours truly and mounted the same way as THESE ones

This pair makes me think of little raspberries.  Little jewel raspberries.  Lucky for Alison I don't have pierced ears anymore.  Otherwise these might not have made it into her present.  ;)

It's kind of a random little hodge podge of things, but I think they're all things that will make her happy.  :)

P.S.  Is that how you spell it?  "Hodge podge?"