Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Just Get Started Already!

I started (finally) on some curtains for sis #2's kitchen tonight. (Don't be getting all excited yet, B!) I needed to just sew something, anything, and felt guilty that she's gone without curtains for over a month now! And I can't decide WHAT to sew next for MonsterBug Blankets--so I just jumped in on something that needed done. I have 2 other projects that need done, too. Maybe that's why I feel uncertain about what to sew next--cause I really need to be busting my hump on things I'm not feeling inspired to work on.

Except for the one burp cloth I sewed last week (and the curtains tonight), I haven't sewn in way too long--at least 10 days. I hate not wanting to sew. I hate it when I feel stumped creatively. I decided today to at least BEGIN something. I ironed 7 yards of fabric (while spritzing the kids with water and singing, "It's raining, it's pouring, the old man is snoring"). I started sewing the curtains. It's a beginning. And when I'm ready--I'll have fresh fabrics to cut.

I'm thankful this business I run fits around my ups and downs. When I'm crazy-sewing or crazy-thinking-up-ideas--I can run with it. And when I'm worn down--I can take a break. But there's always the fear that the break won't end. That the desire to sew will just end one day, never to show up again. :) What would I do with all that fabric then??? Probably sell it all and make a fortune! And start something new.

I listed most of my Patriotic Bibs and Burp Cloths on etsy this week. I think I still have two left to post. I want to list all my other bibs--but wonder if I should just wait till I make matching burp cloths. But at the rate I'm going--WHEN will that be? I wish I had a chance to show them on Ft Rucker again before the 4th of July! Maybe I should just sell them ON the 4th (ugh, can you imagine how HOT it'll be all day in the Alabama sun???)--but the one time I went to the Ft Rucker celebration, the vendors were few and far between. It just didn't seem like a good venue for selling. I could be wrong--it WAS four years ago.

That's about it for my tired brain. :) Wish me motivation and creativity--and a GREAT night's sleep!!!

MonsterBug Blankets
www.monsterbugblankets.com

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Memorial Day Weekend

Memorial Day had very little meaning to me growing up. We'd often have a cookout or something, or it was a day off from work. When I was first married, it usually meant a four day weekend with my husband, who worked 14-16 hour days in the army. Beyond that, it was just another day. Memorial Day 2004 was the first time this day meant something to me--something it was supposed to have meant all along. That was the first Memorial Day after my husband was home from war, the first Memorial Day after his unit returned from Iraq, the first memorial Day that I actually spent remembering someone who was lost. Four soldiers from my husband's unit died while they were deployed. One died in the next deployment.

For a year, I went to bed every night wondering if the Chaplain was going to wake me up in the morning--because the Chaplains come with the officers who deliver the bad news. For a year I nearly threw up every time the doorbell rang--sure it was news about my husband not coming home. It was hard, but it made me stronger--and drew my husband and I closer. That "Army Strong" logo also pertains to the families of soldiers!

This Memorial Day, I'm a part of the Homefront Team on Etsy. They are a sweet bunch of strong women, and they keep me involved in the military life, even though we're mostly civilian now. And this past week, they've been busy keeping me in tears--reminding me about Memorial Day and the beauty in remembering. There's a sweet article on the Homefront Team's website, I'd love for you to read: Memorial Day - Meaning from the heart.

This Memorial Day, say a prayer for the families who've lost their loved ones--the wives and children, parents, and siblings. And always say a prayer for our soldiers, marines, sailors, and airmen--they need it! So do their families.

MonsterBug Blankets

Saturday, May 24, 2008

This Week

Helicopter Bib


Sorry, I haven't felt like talking this week. It's the post craft fair let down--weariness, grumpiness, and the like. I've sewn ONE thing all week, and that's only cause I HAD to make a burp cloth to match a ladybug bib I had--I sold them as a set to a lady last week, with the promise of getting the burp cloth to her this weekend. I wanted to sew more--or rather, wanted to want to sew more--but I pretty much felt like yuck all week. Thursday I finally was able to relax enough to sleep, and boy did I get a good nap in! :)

I cleaned up my workroom today. It looks sooooo much better. There's alot of furniture in there, and so even a little bit of messiness makes it seem WAY too cluttered--and, since it's a very visible room, it makes all of us a bit crazy! I finally was able to move the old German wedding basket out from in front of the stairs, too--which helps reduce the cluttered feel of the room. Monster has managed to graduate from needing our permission and supervision to climb the stairs--to mastering them and being able to go up and down as he pleases. :) Which turned into a LOT of "I go upSTAIRS?!" today. :) He's such a cutie!

I got the BEST fabric in this week!!!! It has Blackhawk and Chinook helicopters on it, along with some air force jets I don't know anything about! Husband loves it, and said I NEED to order a whole bunch of it! Yes, he gave me permission to order MORE fabric! Imagine THAT! I agree with him that it could prove to be a wise move for selling on Ft Rucker!

I actually got alot of fabric in this week. My Amy Butler fabrics came in from my fabric coop. I received 10 yards, I think--about 6 more are back ordered. And with that helicopter fabric, I had another helicopter print--the one I've sewn with before. I popped into several fabric stores on Tuesday, mostly buying for myself--my mother's day present was fabric that I could only use for myself! :) I plan on making several dish towels in fun oranges, greens, and browns, and also some cloth napkins out of Amy Butler's Olive Chrysanthemum fabric! For MonsterBug Blankets I bought some more jungle fabric for bibs and burp cloths (since I sold out of that in a heartbeat before!), and an adorable Alexander Henry Christmas print--50% off!!!! I need to get busy sewing for Christmas fairs--they'll be here WAY sooner than I expect!

That's been my week. I hope to get the sewing bug again this coming week!

MonsterBug Blankets


http://www.monsterbugblankets.com/

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Etsy Teams

On Etsy.com, there are MANY street teams--and their purpose is to band together and promote each other's stores. There are many ways to do this--posting in the promos forum on etsy, starting a team blog and/or website, having a team store, throwing a team craft fair, having a team "chat" on etsy, collaborating with other team members to create something new to sell, and on and on..... Another way is to do a team challenge. And today I found the Etsy Plush Team has done that. They created plush figures after Fairy Tales and Story Book characters. Check out their blog: http://www.plushteam.com/. Aren't those characters tooooooo much! :) I love them! What a sweet and amazing idea--and wow, what talent! :)

I personally belong to Team etsyBABY--a group of etsy sellers who make baby products, and the Homefront Team--consisting of spouses and significant others of the military. In etsyBABY, we have a team store and we donate money or an item for them to sell. We have a team blog, team website, and a team forum. Everyday they post a thread in the promo section on etsy, and everyone who joins in promotes another etsyBABY seller, and also can promote their own shop. They run special promotions every few months that the team members can join in on--the mother's day one had a spa basket for the winner. Also, every weekend, the team promotes 12 stores from the team (in alphabetical order), by posting favorites from those 12 teams and setting up etsyBABY treasuries.

I just joined the Homefront Team a few weeks ago. They have a weekly thread that runs in the Teams section, where members can chat and show off new things they've made and/or listed. It's very encouraging and fun to chat in there. They have a team blog, team website, and a yahoo group for chatting. They run a Monday night promo--where different shops list specials for the night and they promote those, and they open a chat room to promote the shops as well. They run special promotions--last month was a giveaway from 20 of the shops. There are more plans in the works, too.

In other news, I'm hoping to take some of my patriotic bibs and burp cloths to the local children's boutique today. It's my afternoon to run amuck, sans kids, and I want to get some things in there to sell! I have alot more I want to get in there, but it will have to wait--sooooo much to do this week! And I'm still pooped from the past two weeks! I was hoping to get new things listed in my etsy shop too, but there's too much going on. Will have to wait. :(

MonsterBug Blankets
www.monsterbugblankets.com

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Selling at the PX--Days Five and Six

Yesterday, Very Verdant and I finished our week of selling at the Ft Rucker PX. It was lovely to sleep in this morning (well, sleeping in is relative--as a mom, anything past 630 is sleeping in--and I made it to 640!), and to lie there knowing I didn't HAVE to be anywhere or sew anything. It was an exciting week of sewing and sitting at the PX and selling and visiting with people. And now it's done, and part of me is sad--though the other part is relieved to be able to relax a little!

Saturday was a rather slow day, but Friday we did well. I told Very Verdant that I thought I was a jinx to the whole enterprise, because whenever I showed up, everything slowed down! And I was there all day Sat--so I was bad for business!

I now have TONS of baby bibs made up and waiting for some little ones to drool and slobber all over! I've fallen in love with making them--so I have tons made, and more to make! :) I like that I can cut them out and do most of the prep work while the kids are playing outside! Then inside I just sew--and that goes quickly! It's fun to have a project I can start and finish in one day--and have multiples made in a hurry. A very big sense of accomplishment!!!

I'm still trying to decide what I should list on etsy, what I should just put on my website, and what I should take by the local baby boutique! It's all confusing to me. I worry that I'll put something in the wrong place when it would've sold if it were elsewhere! So many doubts--all the time!

I spent some time today doing accounting work--counting money, figuring out taxes, and all that. Fun, fun. I also listed several receipts in my ledger, and caught up on my inventory--well, my purchases inventory, not my creations. THAT inventory may never get done! I figured that I better get all my sales listed while they were still fresh--and that way I know what to set aside for taxes at the end of the month (and what I can SPEND on fabric now!!!).

I have two helicopter fabrics on order--one is the same one I already had: http://www.thebestkeptsecret.com/cgi-bin/Store/store.cgi?product=robertkaufman_1&productid=rk1481&pid=1#rk1481
And the other is this one: http://bighornquilts.com/cgi-bin/Store/store.cgi?cart_id=5536896.26675.s0&product=hifashion&productid=5-2968&keywords1=helicopter&sales=0&lastmenu=

Also, I found a VERY handy little site to help me find fabric online: www.quiltshops.com. That's how I was able to find the helicopter fabrics I wanted--everyone on etsy and ebay wanted a ridiculous amount of money for shipping. Sorry, if I order one yard of fabric at full price, I DO NOT want to then pay PRIORITY shipping AND handling fees! Then pay an extra $1-2 for each additional yard. I know that at least 5-7 yards will fit in the priority envelope, and 20 yards will fit in the flat rate priority box. One shop on ebay wanted me to pay $5.55 in shipping for one fat quarter of fabric (18"x22")! A 42 cent stamp on an envelope would've worked for me! Anyway, I found the shipping to be more reasonable through some of the stores listed in this one site.

I have several projects I need to work on this week. A baby burp cloth to match a bib I sold at the PX (it has pretty little ladybugs on it!), a Raggy-Tag Blanket that was ordered, my sister's kitchen curtains, and I need to begin the quilt for my friend A. Oh, and get the house in order for company next weekend! Bug's room alone could take a month, I think! :) :) And possibly an order for a ballet bib. Oh, and I wanted to make Bug's ballet teacher a baby gift, too. Forgot about that!

Gotta get my sleepy head in bed! :)

MonsterBug Blankets
www.monsterbugblankets.com

Friday, May 16, 2008

Selling at the PX--Day Four--Payday! :)

Day Four turned out to be a good one--7 sales between Very Verdant and myself! YAH!

I did get four more bibs made up yesterday before I headed in to Ft Rucker to help Very Verdant. Two more helicopter ones, and two vintage airplane ones. :) I found it funny that my Monster has a blanket made of the helicopter fabric (which he cries about when it has to be washed--"helcoper, helcoper"!), and a quilt made out of the vintage airplanes fabric! :) As soon as I got to the PX, I pulled out all my paraphernalia to get the snaps and price tags onto the bibs--the snap squeezer-on tool was at the PX in a basket. I normally print out the labels for all my things, but I guess the other night I ran the ink absolutely dry--so I used my rubber stamp to stamp all the tags, then wrote all the care info on the back. While I sewed the tags on all the bibs, Very Verdant put all the snaps on for me. And just in time, too, cause a lady came by while we were in this process, and snatched up one of my helicopter bibs! :)

I had one yard left of the helicopter fabric, and was debating about doing all bibs with it, or 4 bibs and 4 burp cloths. Husband told me last night to just make up all bibs with it--so I have four more cut out and ready to sew today! It's funny that after putting out the bibs yesterday, people came by to look again--people who went by us earlier in the week. I tried to give a card to one lady who was oohing and aahing over the bibs--but she already had one from before. :) (Very Verdant is GREAT at giving people cards!)

The PX is having a "block party" this weekend. There are sales and discounts all weekend--but on Saturday, they are having some sort of kids bicycle event. It sounds fun--and having it from 10-1--perfect! The kids'll get hungry and grumpy, moms and dads will bring them in for food, and they'll "need" something from the px--and hopefully "need" something from us, as well! :) The post animal shelter is capitalizing on this, too--they are bringing their adoptable pets to hang out at the PX all morning! :) How shameless is that!!!! (I swear, if they have a German Shepherd puppy--I'm done for!!!!)

That's it for now. Bug and Monster and I get to chill out today while Very Verdant works her hiney off. But tomorrow bright and early, I'll be out there working beside her. Last day is Saturday!

MonsterBug Blankets
www.monsterbugblankets.com

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Selling at the PX--Days Two and Three

I read a comment on the Etsy forums yesterday about craft fairs. The original question concerned how busy/slow to expect things to be--and one etsian said that her first few craft fairs were slow--but not to discount the value of getting your name out there and getting known--that it's VERY important. It's helping (some). :)

Day Two: 1 sale for me. Day Three: 4 sales for Very Verdant online, 1 sale for me at the PX. (Day One=no sales) Today (Day Four) is payday--high hopes!

Very Verdant was on her own all day yesterday. She reported lots of interest, lots of business card gathering by people. There was a lady who came by and was interested in having the two of us sell at a Children's Fair she was organizing for this fall. She wants to have only 4-5 people selling, and all of them selling handmade items! It sounds like a ton of fun! (We don't have nearly enough places around here selling only handmade stuff!) She also reported lots of Daddies being interested in my patriotic bibs! I've not had any dads buy from me before--so that's cool!

I spent time on Tuesday and yesterday cutting out more bib fronts, and last night after the kids were in bed, I worked on putting together eight of them. These are different than the Patriotic Bibs--they are patterned fabric on the front with white chenille on the back. Very cute! Two of them are made from a helicopter fabric, one sock monkeys, one ladybugs, one flamingos, one bug jars, one fire hydrants, and one of old railroad signs. I'll probably get two more of the helicopter ones made up before heading to the PX this afternoon. I was hoping to get some matching burp cloths made, too, but that'll have to wait!

I bought some fabrics in April to make Play Blankets in the Auburn and Alabama school colors. Now I'm thinking maybe I should just make bib and burp cloths sets, instead. Maybe a play blanket or two, but not all Play Blankets. We'll see--I have some time to think on it!

That's it for now! :)
MonsterBug Blankets
www.monsterbugblankets.com

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Selling at the PX--Day One

Monday was our first day of setting up a "booth" at the Ft Rucker PX. We have five tables pushed together with (dirty) red tablecloths to display our goodies. (Very Verdant is doing the selling--I'm just helping when I can.) We arrived expecting a kiosk, but everything was full except these tables. Kinda unexpected--but where we're located, everyone who actually goes into the PX HAS to walk by us.

The PX here is alot slower than the PX's in Germany--I mentioned to Very Verdant that I WISH I'd been doing this when we lived in Germany all those years! :) I had time galore to sew (no kiddos then), time to sell, and the PX was the hang out spot for sooooo many people--being that it was the only American place to buy anything over there. Oh well!

It was crazy all last week preparing for this day. I sewed 46 items, when I normally sew 2-8 in a week. Then this morning, the rush of getting the kids up and out the door early, setting up, making sure we understood the paperwork and such--then......we sit.....and we wait...... It was a little crazy! :) All that rushing around, then the anti-climax of waiting for people to buy from us. (And the inevitable thoughts that since we sewed all these beautiful things, people were going to come in DROVES to buy from us!)

A very unexpected thing happened while sitting there today--all kinds of army wife baggage started coming out. Husband has been civilian for over 2 yrs now, so it was weird that being in the PX was waking up things inside of me--memories, frustrations, and even the old attitudes. I realized stuff was still there when that kiosk was full, and we were left to figure out where we were supposed to be. Very Verdant asked me how come I was in such a good mood about it--and I said it was because I learned to not expect things to turn out as they should--that I learned to expect the worst in any situation. And somehow, in the back of my mind, I had already decided that we probably wouldn't get the kiosk--so dealing with it wasn't a big deal when it arose. I don't think like this anymore in civilian life--but being on post, and dealing with AAFES, it came back. What's funny is how Husband mentioned something similar last week. He's doing his two week reserve drill right now, and he mentioned that it was surprising how easily he slipped into the "army mindset" after being out of it for so long. Anyway, I didn't mean to get into all this--it's just that I am still trying to process today, and I'm finding that there are things inside of me I'd forgotten!

So day one: some cards handed out, lots of smiling at people (they NEED that--poor, miserable souls!), lots of waiting and talking, and after I left, Very Verdant reported that she had several people ask how long we were selling--and they got excited that we would be set up through Saturday--cause payday is on Thursday. :) That's good! (Note: ALWAYS set up at the PX during a payday!)

That's it! I need to get back to bed!
MonsterBug Blankets
http://www.monsterbugblankets.com/

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Baby Bibs

Whew, I'm pooped. Been so busy the past two days--ironing, cutting, pinning, sewing..... Look what I've made:



These bibs are reversible--though the applique is only on one side--and I used camouflage and red/white/blue fabrics for them (since they'll be at the Ft Rucker PX next week!). They have a layer of flannel in the middle, and snap shut. I had soooooo much FUN making these. Lots of work, but I REALLY love to applique! It was fun figuring out where to place the flowers and fish, and playing with the different fabrics. I have twelve more to complete before beginning the matching burp cloths. I'm NOT appliqueing those--though that would be cute--I don't have the time or desire. I'm still trying to decide whether to sell the bibs and burp cloths separate, or together. If you have any input, I'd LOVE to hear it!

Well, I'm off to work some more!

MonsterBug Blankets
www.monsterbugblankets.com

Saturday, May 3, 2008

New Toy Prototype

So, after seeing a cool stuffed frog at the Front Porch Quilt Shoppe on Tuesday, then talking with a friend about the neat stuffed teddy bear I have that's made out of old army BDU's or an army wool blanket, I had the idea to stuff some flowers and fish to go along with my Play Blankets. I cut out the fabrics the other day, and worked on the flower some today. I am DEFINITELY in prototype phase still! It just didn't turn out like I envisioned. :( I hate that. Maybe the size, or the shape, or how the ribbons are arranged. Maybe the stuffing. I'm not sure--but I just don't like it 100%. So I still need to play with it. BUT, since it's made, I can at least test the filling by washing it repeatedly! (I used cut up pieces of leftover fabric scraps.. The frog was stuffed with styrofoam type beads, and felt soooo neat--but it's styrofoam--and I wanted something all cotton. We'll see!)

I finally finished ONE bib. yah. Actually, I ended up loving the chenille on the back, after all! I'm still trying to decide IF I want to add a layer of flannel in the middle, or not. I need to show my finished one to Very Verdant, and see what she thinks. The snap worked like a charm, too--it wasn't too bulky after all.

I need to iron my new camouflage fabrics, and get those cut--so I can get BUSY this next week! For some reason I thought I had two weeks to go till Very Verdant sells on post--but it's in just over a week. UGH! Bibs and Burp Cloths--first priority! Good thing is that Husband was gone all day today, and is giving me some time to myself tomorrow afternoon--and I hope to sew all afternoon/evening. Head start--much needed! (So, I guess I'm ironing and cutting TONIGHT!)

I still don't have pictures of anything. You'll have to wait--maybe one day I'll actually post them all! :) It's been a tough week. My mind is on family and friends, and not on much else. Cancer, miscarriage, stroke, closing an estate, changing jobs/moving, job decisions--all on top of each other, jumbled together, and affecting dear people in my life.

Anyway, that's it for now. I NEED to get those Monsters down here!

MonsterBug Blankets
www.monsterbugblankets.com

PS--did you know styrofoam is supposed to be capitalized? I didn't--and will be hard-headed and refuse to capitalize it! How weird.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

I'm alive, I promise!

I realize I've been kinda slow in getting back to writing in this blog. I just haven't felt like writing lately--alot of hard things happening to people I love, and my mind and heart and prayers are there.

I have been working some--though not taking ANY pictures! Can you believe that my vacation pics are STILL in the camera!!! Along with some cutie-pie ones from when we went to feed the ducks this weekend. :)

I put together a pretty, square blanket with colorful cotton on one side, and fluffy, white chenille on the other. It looks sooooo vintage--I LOVE it! :) So I started working on bibs with the chenille, too. I have six made up, but I'm not digging the chenille on the back as much. I'll probably make the rest of them with a couple of layers of flannel, instead. (Unless everyone LOVES the chenille ones soooo much more!) I'm thinking of using snaps on these, instead of velcro--just wonder if the snaps I have are big enough to go through the chenille?

I bought some camo fabric, and some red, white, and blue fabric, so I will have a few things like this on hand for selling on the army post in a few weeks. Sewing Guru--otherwise known as Very Verdant, is setting up a table on post, and will take along some of my things to sell as well. I hope to be able to help her a bunch that week! (May 12-17) I'm also hoping that the Aviation Museum will want to sell some of my baby things--that would be nice!

I was sooooo hoping to get several of my baby blankets and such into the local baby boutique, but every time I think about it, it just doesn't work out. I REALLY want to make some things especially to sell there--and not just take in things from my main stock. But getting the sewing done is frustrating--cause I just don't have tons and tons of time! And I'm really wanting to get stuff made for selling on post. :) I'm rather impatient, can't you tell!?? I want everything completed YESTERDAY, and ready to go TODAY! This waiting to do B, C, D, and F until after A is taken care of--it frustrates me! :)

April was kind of a hard month for me. It started out with a BANG--6 sales within the first 9 days! I was on a roll! Then NOTHING. :( Of course, with being on vacation, it was difficult to list new things on Etsy, but still, I renewed a few things and kept things up in the pages there. Still, nothing. I DID get a sale yesterday, though. That was nice. :) One of my Fish Play Blankets sold--yah!!!! Now I need to get to the post office to mail it out! (I don't much like THAT part!)

I joined a fabric coop about a month ago, and placed my first order with them--for some YUMMY Amy Butler fabrics! It'll work out to be somewhat less expensive than paying full price--but not as good as when the quilt shoppe holds sales. The pricey part is the shipping on both ends--shipping to the coop, then the coop shipping to me. Oh well. It makes the fabric more within my budget, though! And, the quilt shoppe does not yet have the fabrics in stock.

I also found a great place to order Oil Cloth from! I have soooo many ideas for picnic blankets. And the price I pay will make the picnic blankets more in the price range of what I want them to be! Now I just need to save up so I can buy a bunch!