overdue baby gifts

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Finally! Those overdue baby gifts are done!
I rationalize that the gifts are for when the child is older, so I take my time. I want the child to get some wear out of whatever I make, so I rarely make anything smaller than 18 months size for my gifting. I picture them wearing the stuff when they are old enough to walk and go places and not spit up on themselves every 5 minutes. Although that spit-up age is so very precious, I think a boatload of bodysuits is more useful then.
I made this appliquéd dress for my cousin's little Gwenyth. I actually got inspired by this card I bought over a year ago from Sugar Paperie at one of the indie shows. Baby girls get so overloaded with pink. Why not yellow for a change?
This one is for my friend's baby Lillie. I just love these old-fashioned names! This friend appreciates vintage textiles, so I thought the vintage pillowcase dress would go over well. This type of pillowcase dress that I invented with permanent ties and elastic instead of a drawstring fits the little ones so much better. Now that I know how to make padded hangers, I include one with every gift dress to give that extra boutiquey oomph.

Now I'm warmed up for spring...

1 year etsyversary!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Today marks the day one year ago that I got my Etsy shop up and running.  I just took a look back at the screen shot I took that day and had a little chuckle. I knew at the time that it wasn't perfect, but you have to start somewhere. I read some advice once that you shouldn't open a half-assed Etsy store "just because you can", yet you shouldn't wait until everything feels "perfect" either because then you'll never get there.
Here's what the shop looks like today. Over the course of the year Etsy made a few changes to the width of the page & the shop announcement section which I think are an improvement. I've been changing out the banner seasonally and I have more variety of products now. I still see plenty of room for improvement in my photos & thier overall consistency. I'm not sure they look like they're all from the same shop, and I'd like the color to flow more smoothly also. Still far from "perfect", but I think it's better, no?

how to make padded hangers

Friday, January 14, 2011

Ah, January. That time of year when all you want to do is restore order.
Pottery Barn Kids
This is when I fantasize about having organized, coordinated closets that are so beautiful you can keep the doors open. My closets don't look this nice, but the one thing I've managed to do is get matching hangers.

It was in this spirit that I decided to road test Martha Stewart's tutorial for making padded hangers. I often access her archive of instructions and wish they had more pictures, so I've documented the process step-by-step here.
I agree with her supply list, but the awl is definitely overkill and 3/8" ribbon works just as well as the recommended 5/8". Unable to find wooden kid-size hangers locally, I resorted to ordering some online from Only Hangers.
The batting will be layered and wrapped in one piece around the hanger. To get the length of your strips measure the hanger as shown above. Martha recommends 4 layers of batting in 3 1/2" widths. I only needed 3 layers that were 2 1/2" wide. Since battings vary, you may have to experiment.
Stack the batting layers, find the center and cut a slit through all the layers. This is where the hanger hook will poke through. Scissors work fine- you don't need an awl!
Wrap around like so, and staple gun at the bottom just where the pieces meet.
With a needle & thread, tuck batting edges over each other and baste shut with large stitches. It doesn't have to be pretty. Now measure the circumference without squeezing.
And measure the length from hook to edge.
Your cover will be made up of 4 pieces for which a pattern needs to be made. To get the length of the pattern piece, take the length you just measured and add 1" for seam allowances (I've never liked 5/8" allowances). For the width, take half of the circumference measurement and add 1" for allowances. Take the corners off with a nice curve. Cut 4 pieces out of your preferred fabric. The fabric usage is quite small, so this could be a way to use up precious scraps. I'm starting to envision my tablecloth scraps or thrifted men's shirts cut up...
Sew the pieces to each other leaving the straight end open. Notch out the ends to alleviate bunching once turned inside out. Martha says to use pinking sheers to trim the seam allowances to reduce the bulk which helps too.
Turn inside out and slide covers onto each end. Pin tightly closed and hand stitch shut.
The best part- now you get to add the ribbon. Finally, a use for some of that fancy ribbon I got on one of my trips to the NYC garment district! I cut my 3/8" ribbon to 28" and wrapped the hanger exactly as Martha instructs: "Place a length of 5/8-inch ribbon around the hook to the front of the hanger, slightly overlapping, as if you were dressing it with a scarf. Pull both ends of the ribbon under the hanger, and back over the front on either side of the hook, and tie into a bow in front of hook." I find it easier to get a good bow if I face the hanger away from me like I'm tying a belt on myself. Ta da!

Now I have to make enough to fill my daughter's whole closet. Just kidding! I'm thinking it would be cool to make for one or two special dresses that could hang on a pretty hook on the outside of the closet door. Maybe I'll search out a vintage hook, or just pick one up at Anthropologie.

front page exposure!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

What a week! A few days ago I had an item featured in a front page treasury on Etsy, then last night my treasury "storybookland" made it there. Both are firsts that have eluded me this first year in business on Etsy. Having items and treasuries you've curated make it to Etsy's home page is pretty much the holy grail of Etsy shop owners. Why? Besides being featured in a major publication or blog, it's the biggest way to drive traffic to your shop. Shoppers land on that opening page, see items, and start clicking.

Since these two events happened so close together, I was able to compare apples to apples to see what is better: and item feature or a treasury feature. Hands down, it's having an item featured. And being on the front page in any form beats renewing items often which is what I was doing a lot of in early to mid December. Click on the Google Analytics graph above to see what I mean.

Ironically though, it was the constant renewing in December that resulted in actual sales. That's December versus January for you!

marie claire idées: more eye candy

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

More from the November- December of the French magazine Marie Claire Idées...
It's basically a craft magazine, but in addition to how to's they also have travel features for inspiration. This one is to the town of Suzdal in the Vladimir region of Russia, northeast of Moscow.
Such pretty gingerbread!
Love the blues & greens with white.
Suzdal is famous for its many churches.
Picturesque but cold!

marie claire idées: babouchkas

Monday, January 3, 2011

I recently discovered that my local Borders Books now stocks the French magazine Marie Claire Idées!
I used to get it from a fashion newsstand in the NYC garment District years ago. Back then it only came out twice a year. Now it's every 2 months which makes me happy, but unfortunately the foreign magazines are so delayed getting here to the US. This spread is from the Nov-Dec issue which just arrived and I don't think I'd do any better with a subscription.
This Russian folkloric matryoshka doll theme reminds me of one of the stalls I photographed at the Union Square Holiday Market. I see a lot of fabrics (mostly Japanese) printed with the doll motif on Etsy as well, so it's not a brand-new trend.
I still think it's a fresh-looking take on folkloric which never seems to go away.
My high school French is just enough to get the gist of the articles.
But even if you didn't know any French, this magazine can be appreciated just as eye-candy.
Charming even with the taxidermy animals!

ins and outs 2011

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Letterpress holiday card by DingbatPress
Happy New Year! I'm happy to report that I've already accomplished one resolution for the year which was to tweak the look and functioning of this blog. Thanks to Shalon of papermepretty, I have a new wider layout, a navigation bar (with a home button- I'm giddy!), a background pattern, and new headers. It's the little things! All I have to do now is complete the overdue baby gifts I've promised to friends and lose 20 lbs...

Now on to that quintessential New Year's Day pursuit: gorging on what's out and what's in lists!
from the Washington Post (the mother of all out & in lists)
from the Chicago Tribune
from the Portland Mercury
from George Mason High School (the kids are alright!)
from the Boston Herald
from Peta
from Shine
from Gatehouse News Service (is the Tea Party really "in" though?)
from Buddy TV
from Second City Style
from ABC News
from Global Post

Take care!