Custom Crib Bumper

I had a local customer contact me a couple of weeks ago about doing some custom work for her.  She had an idea in mind and we ran with it.  This is what we came up with!

She wanted something that wasn’t “too girly” and I think this is perfect!  It has the zebra print (which is SATIN!) on the entire outside of the bumper.  The inside is done in a patchwork design alternating the hot pink leopard print with the zebra.  Black satin ruffles and black satin ties complete the look.

I can’t wait to see how it looks in the nursery!

Saturday Pattern Sharing 1/28/12

Since our household is heavy on the estrogen (at least in terms of those who stand on 2 legs), little boy patterns are more few and far between.  But in celebration of a bunch of little boys being born to friends I figured it was time to dig through the internet and find a couple of really cute boy patterns for today!

First up, these absolutely, so stinkin’ cute, itty bitty boxer briefs by Sabra over at Sew a Straight Line

Second is the super cool boys belt over at The Mother Huddle

Stuff like this makes me yearn for some boys, or even *a* little boy, in the house.  For some reason I doubt my husband would appreciate me making him boxer brief with cute designs on them.

Happy sewing!

A Little Loving Care

There are very few things as frustrating as buying an item of clothing, only to have it destroyed in the wash!  This is especially true when you spend the extra money on something handmade.  You expect it to last longer than the stuff you buy in the store (at least, I expect it to last longer!).

 

 

STITCH TIPS — CARING FOR YOUR BOUTIQUE CLOTHING:

* Cold water wash is the best for your garments.  Warm and/or hot water can cause the bright, beautiful colors to fade and the fabric to shrink (especially if it wasn’t prewashed).

* Spot treat stains with a pretreatment prior to washing.  I love Clorox 2 Free & Clear.  It works well on food and other “organic” stains and won’t fade the colors.  Having it free of perfumes and dyes is an extra bonus so it won’t irritate sensitive skin!  You can also use it as a general additive in your laundry load. 

* Drying is the most important part!  As much as I love the simplicity and speed of throwing items in the dryer, that machine WRECKS your clothes.  It blasts heat and tosses clothing around without any thought to its well being — causing shrinking, fading, piling and even snagging.  Anything made with ruffle fabric should never be put in the dryer; always line dry it!  For your 100% cotton and cotton blend items — I recommend line drying these items as well.  If you must toss them in the dryer, use a low heat and try to put your boutique clothing in with items of similar weight.  Some 100% cotton items wrinkle horribly, unfortunately.  With those items it works well to put them in the dryer on low heat for 5 minutes or so, just enough to pull some of the most stubborn wrinkles out and then hang to dry. 

* Iron cotton and cotton blend items on the lowest possible setting (using steam if necessary) to remove wrinkles and help maintain the shape of your garment

These simple tips will help to extend the life of your clothing, helping to ensure your well loved boutique items will be outgrown before worn out.  😉

**Just a note — all of the items I sell have fabric care tags sewn into a seam for easy reference; all fabrics are also prewashed in warm water and dried to minimize shrinking upon further laundering.**.

 

Saturday Pattern Sharing 1/21/12

Although we have yet to see much snow in our area, our winter temps have certainly made their chilly presence known.  When I’m outside playing I’m a huge fan of toasty gloves and mittens but when driving I dislike the feel of the material on the steering wheel.

With scraps upon scraps of fleece fabric here in my stash I was super excited to receive this tutorial in my inbox the other day — my hope is to sneak this project in somewhere over the weekend!

Happy sewing!

Recipe: Maple Cinnamon Granola

Ingredients

3 cups rolled oats

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons brown sugar

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons maple syrup

1/4 cup oil

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon (can be adjusted to personal preference)

 

Directions

Mix oats, brown sugar, salt and cinnamon in medium mixing bowl.

Mix maple syrup and oil in separate bowl.

Pour wet mixture into dry ingredients, mixing well. (Be sure to incorporate all of the brown sugar and cinnamon hiding at the bottom.)

Spread on an ungreased baking sheet.  I’ve found a non-insulated one works best, the granola browns better.

Bake at 250 degrees for 1 hour and 15 minutes, stirring every 15.  The more you stir the more the granola will break up so only scrape to make sure it isn’t sticking to the baking sheet.

Let cool and enjoy!

 

Stitch Schedule

I am a list maker: grocery lists, cleaning lists, to-do lists.  I scribble notes in notebooks, write them in my phone, scrawl them across small scraps of envelopes and papers to be recycled.  They litter the kitchen counters, peek out from stacks of stuff on my sewing table, find their way into the console of my vehicle and line the inside of my purse like a personalized tapestry.

Lists keep me organized.  They help me to remember the things I need to do and to stay on track.  I buy less junk at the grocery store when I write a list.  I don’t forget to buy white thread at Joann’s when I write a list.  I find myself staying on track and feeling accomplished during the day when I write a list.

I joke with people about how since my brain surgery the important stuff must slip out of the missing piece of my skull.  :)  In all seriousness though, I know my lack of remembering stuff is a combination of getting older, not getting enough sleep and plain and simple just trying to remember too many things.

Trying to remember all the stuff I want/need to do for the shop can be hard to manage at times.  There are many facets to running a small business–much more than just buying fabric and sewing!  To ensure I’m staying on top of things such as marketing and book keeping, I know I needed to write the tasks down and make them highly visible. A weekly list, of sorts, of the tasks that I need to be mindful of.

So yesterday morning, when planning my week –both personally and for the shop– I finally sat down and wrote out a loose business schedule. 

stitch to stitch schedule

The schedule is written on a sheet of printing paper about 60″ wide by 22″ high and will hang on the wall in my sewing studio.  It’s much harder to ignore a schedule when it’s written in black permanent marker!  Hopefully this constant reminder will help me stay on track and manage my time more efficiently.

Sewing Staples

Did you get a sewing machine for Christmas and are overwhelmed at the thought of getting started?  Given one as a hand-me-down from a loved one when they upgraded to something newer and nicer?  Or have you had one sitting in the closet for years, collecting dust and fleeting thoughts about pulling it out of the box and turning it on?

Truthfully, my first machine sat largely untouched for the first couple of years I had it.  My dear husband bought one for me as a surprise gift just after we were married; he’d heard me mention about wanting to learn how to sew and thought it would be a great gesture.  It was a kind and thoughtful gesture but at such an early stage in our marriage (and when our budget was so incredibly tight) I didn’t take the gift to heart the way I should have.  After we moved West did I finally find myself wanting to pull it out and really spend time sewing.

One of the toughest aspects of starting a new hobby or craft is amassing all the items you need to be comfortable starting.  It can be expensive too!  And unfortunately, sewing isn’t really any different.  Here you’ve spent a fair chunk of money on a machine and now you need to buy a bunch of other “stuff” to go along with it.  Where do you even start?  Anyone who has glanced down the aisles at your local sewing store will tell you the choices, when looking for sewing gadgets, are numerous.

So to help make it a little easier to get started, I’ve put together a top-10 list of the most essential sewing notions for a beginner (besides fabric, thread and needles — I assume you’ve already figured out those 3 items).

 

Pins.  To start off with, basic dressmaker pins are fine.  They’ll go through most fabrics without bending and are cost effective.  A box of 350 pins will cost about $4.  Down the road you can up grade and buy ones with glass heads, or a smaller diameter to fit your sewing needs.

Seam Ripper.  The teeny tiny one that comes with your machine will continuously get lost under stuff on your desk/table.  Buy one that’s a little larger and easier to spot.  A simple one will cost about $3.  My biggest tip — don’t buy one that has a round handle.  They roll off flat surfaces.

Bobbin Storage.  I like the “bobbin saver” — it keeps bobbins from rolling around and unwinding all of their thread.  The threads don’t get all tangled up with each other and the base is non-skid so it won’t slide around your sewing table.  One of these costs about $7.

Sewing gauge.   An invaluable tool to have in your sewing kit!  It will help to measure buttonholes, mark hems and space pleats.  Usually costs about $2.

Marking pencil.  Use one to transfer markings directly onto your fabric.  The brush on the end will help to remove the marking after sewing.  They typically come in pink, blue and white and cost less than $2.  I recommend a white one for dark fabrics and then a brighter one for lighter fabrics.

 

Finger presser.  After sewing seams, you’ll want to press them open, or to one side, before sewing over them.  Having one of these will save you from using your iron every single time.  The plastic ones cost about $6.  Mine finally bit the dust after 10 years — I knocked it off the table and the end busted off.  I upgraded to a wood one and love it.

 

Small scissors.  Perfect for notching pattern pieces and ideal for cutting thread.  I like the 5″ size and highly recommend spending the money on a middle of the road pair.  The 5″ Fiskars craft scissors cost about $14.

These next three items are going to be the most expensive to buy, and by some, would be considered optional.  In my opinion though they make cutting fabric so much easier and more precise.  I rarely use scissors to cut fabric unless I need to cut intricate curves.

Rotary Cutter.  45mm is the standard size.  There is a learning curve with using one but after you get the hang of it, you’ll wonder why you ever tried cutting fabric with scissors.  The 45mm rotary cutter by Fiskars costs about $15.  Replacement blades will need to be purchased as they dull.

Self-Healing Cutting Mat.  This goes under your fabric when cutting with a rotary cutter.  It will take the wear and tear of a rotary cutter but will not get cuts, nicks or grooves on its surface.  A 18×24″ mat costs about $25; a 24×36″ costs about $50.  It’s a solid investment — when properly cared for, i.e. not allowed to warp, they will last indefinitely — I’m only on my 2nd one in 10+ years.  My first one was ruined by a professional moving company, not me.

 

Ruler.  You need a straight edge to cut with a rotary cutter.  A clear, sturdy plastic ruler works best.  I like one that is 4-6″ wide and has markings every 1/8″.  A decent one costs about $10.

Remember too, that places such as Joann’s often run great sales on their sewing items so watch their online ads or sign up on their mailing lists to get their local ads.  It’s not uncommon for sewing notions to be reduced 50%, especially the cutting tools.  You can also search online for coupons to use if items are not on sale.

Happy sewing!

Saturday Pattern Sharing 1/14/11

With spring coming our way in a short(ish) amount of time, my thoughts have turned to warm weather tops in super cute prints.  As much as I love winter I get tired of the monotony that comes with heavy sweaters and layers and layers of clothes.

So this adorable pleated top by Jessica over at Craftiness is Not Optional is the perfect project to get you ready for warmer weather!

Happy sewing!

Inspiring Words

Sometimes the hardest part about doing something is getting started. But you’ll never know if you can, until you do, so get out there and DO IT!

It might take more work than you’ve ever devoted to anything.

It might feel like you’re spinning your wheels at times.

It might be all consuming and exhausting.

It might just be the best thing you’ve ever done!

BELIEVE IN YOURSELF AND TAKE THAT FIRST STEP!

A New Year

It seems as though this New Year’s greeting is a little too late in coming, so my apologies for that.  The holidays were busy for us with travels to visit family, time spent together in our own home and then a first birthday for Baby Girl.  As we settle into the second week of January it’s just beginning to slow down and I find our life finally getting back into some sort of schedule and/or routine.

The holidays were fantastic, albeit bustling, and the time spent with loves ones is something to be cherished.  In the little down time I could find I tried to reflect on what 2011 had brought for Stitch To Stitch and what path I hoped 2012 would take.

With everything that went on in 2011 — mainly juggling a new(er) business with our expanding family — I was greatly pleased with how Stitch To Stitch had done.  Fifty-five Etsy sales and a couple of handfuls of non-etsy sales seems minute compared to some shops, but for me if surpassed my expectations of the year!  I had no idea how I’d handle a new baby and a business but was fortunate to have sales every month of the year and felt like I was continuously busy with shop projects.

That being said, I feel like the shop is at a point where I need to make some choices if I want to continue to grow.  While I’m still trying to formulate all of my ideas for the shop in 2012 there are a couple of things I’m certain of: 

  • Opening wholesale accounts with fabric manufacturers.  Obviously this means a great commitment in terms of money as many require minimum orders but overall it will help reduce my per item costs.  I want to focus more on buying more yardage of fabric in less prints.  One of the common themes for 2011 was buying small amounts of a lot of different prints and failing to use many of them in ideas.
  • Working through the fabrics I do have on hand. While many of them are now “discontinued” lines it means sewing ready to ship items at perhaps sale prices.  I need to clear out some of what I have before bringing in new.
  • Selling items in different venues.  I was approached by a salesman for a large daily deals website inquiring about my interest in working with them.  As honored as I was by the inquiry the logistics were too much for me to handle.  It did however, get the wheels turning in regards to selling my items other places.
  • Organizing my time more effectively/efficiently.  Right now I’m still trying to find an appropriate balance between the business and my family.  My hope is that putting together a better schedule (of sorts) and trying to stick to that schedule will help me to feel like I’m accomplishing more and yet spending more time with the ones I love.  It’s hard trying to balance both.

My hope is that these ideas will help to propel Stitch To Stitch further than 2011 and open new doors for the shop.  This has been a fantastic journey so far and I look forward to what lies ahead.

So even though a few days late, I wish you a Happy New Year and hope what lies ahead for you makes you excited for the future and finds you pushing yourself to do your very best!