Sunday, July 10, 2016

Trying to write a blog with two kids in the house

So, apparently I wrote down this title on 6/4/16, and here is it 7/10/16 (cause yeah, I'm writing this at midnight) and this is actually the first sentence...  That should tell you quite clearly what it's like trying to write a blog with two kids in the house!

Well, it's summer here.  We are still doing workbooks with the kids (off and on) to get through the summer hours.  It's busy for me because my "day job" is office manager (cool title right?) for my dad's HVAC company, and in California, we get some nice hot summers!  Needless to say, between my day job, my family, trying to build my sewing business, there's not a lot of time left in my day for blogging.  I have realized in the last few weeks though, that not only do I miss blogging, I need it.

I don't have a lot of interaction with people at work.  I mean, I talk to a lot of people on the phone, but mostly it's me and the kids; my dad and my step mom, but it's not really "social".  When I'm not working, I'm still working, so trying to get me out into the world becomes difficult for various reasons.  So I have taken to the computer when I can.  Don't get me wrong, most of the time I am trolling Facebook in my machine embroidery groups, or if I need a break from things I find some random movie on t.v., but for the most part, it's a lot of working and I still need somewhere to go to just get it all out...  Sorry, hahahaha.

I did plan ahead this year and put in my purchase order for Samie's school books on the very first day.  Hoping we get those before school "starts" but it sounds like when we order with the Charter school that things tend to get delayed, so that is unfortunate because I can't really create a lesson plan without the books...  Next year I will do it differently.

So, what are we doing?  Well, we will be trying Excellence In Writing this year.  My dear cousin, Sarah, has been recommending it for years.  Have you checked out her blog, Amongst Lovely Things?  She has such a beautiful way of writing, it would make you jealous of how amazing she is if she wasn't telling you all the time how amazing she's not...  Don't let her kid you though, she's pretty darn amazing.

We will be using Math In Focus, and for this year we will be using borrowed books from the Charter school for Science and Social Studies.  If you know of some good, secular lessons for any of these please feel free to comment below.  I really didn't like MyWorld Social Studies.  I guess because of the way we purchased it (via that we didn't end up with access to all of the online features, but I don't think that would have helped, it just wasn't a great fit for us.  I'm not sure if I will try something different for Evie this year or just use the curriculum because we already have it.  Maybe I will like it better the second time around?  I am also planning to add in lessons from Confessions of a Homeschooler for both Social Studies/Geography and Liturature.  I really love her blog as well and her printables are fabulous!

We do have curriculum for music, art, Latin and etiquette.  Yes, that might be an odd mix of lessons, but I figure I'm an odd bird, so it works!

I also realized recently that I haven't read anything in a long time, so I'm going to be working on that as well.  I mean, it's not like I'm busy, right?  I'm not going to go crazy like I normally do, but on days that I can get up early enough before the kids and just have some quiet-brain moments, well those are much better days.

So yeah, busy summer at work, busy sewing up all kinds of goodies for Stuff N Junk, busy playing with my kids and my planner and this new paper crafting memory keeper kind of thing that I will post about soon, but you know, just keeping busy!

Monday, May 23, 2016

Revisiting, Revamping, Putting Together A Game Plan

Greetings Stuff N Junkies!  It's been a while, how have you been?  Life can get crazy, right?

You know me, I'm hanging in, doing my thing.  I don't think I've found a "rhythm" to life but something drew me back to the computer, so here I am.

It's been almost a year since my last post, so much has happened!  We are finishing up Samie's first year of Kindergarten homeshooling, both girls are excited to be spending lots of the summer poolside at Papa's house while mommy works, my Etsy shop took off like a rocket around September leaving me crashing somewhere in January!  I know other things happened that I just can't think of, but school, work and Stuff N Junk has really been driving the year in top speed for us.

So, what's next?  Well, this year I am working on taking a step back with my business, going over things that I definitely sped past last year and I'm working on how to grow my business, my creativity, my spirit.  I'm learning new things about not just my business, but also my own sewing, my photography skills, and certainly my organization; or lack thereof!

I can't promise that I will post as regularly as I once did, at least not at first, but that will be my goal; to reconnect with all of you Junkies (I think there are ten of you now, Hi Mom!) and not just to push what I'm selling but what I'm actually doing, what I'm learning.

For the rest of this month, I will be learning about all those steps I skipped when setting up my Etsy shop.  Let me tell you, there is tons and tons of information out there, but it can get so overwhelming!  I'm so glad I found some youtube videos of Renae Christine last year!  I actually was searching for creative ways to package my orders (yup, that's totally a thing and blew my mind how detailed some people get!) but I just loved the way she explained things, her quirky personality got me to click the "subscribe" button and I'm so glad I did!  Now I'm following along a webinar series and going back through her earlier youtube videos to hone in on details I never even knew I missed!

As always, if you have tips, tricks, inspiration, feel free to comment or link a blog, video, article that is sewing related!

Talk to you soon Junkies!

Sunday, May 17, 2015

A Super Old Post About My First Experience Making Bias Binding!

I've been meaning to write up this post for a while now!  Ah life, how it comes and goes...
One weekend event, forever ago, I saw these adorable little girls wearing cute little red, white and blue petti-skirts and I thought "What a crappy mom I am, I don't make cuter clothes for my kids!"  In fact, I don't really make much for the girls.  I made a Christmas dress and coat for Sam in 2011, but I never even finished her Belle costume from March the same year!  I had a plan, I was going to make something for my girls to wear  for 4th of July 2012!  I even had matching outfit panels that I bought (mumble) years ago.  Cut out the panels, started sewing, needed bias binding.  Generally that is no problem, I just "run on" down to the store and grab some up, right?  Well, wanted something cuter than the "norm", something that might match a bit better.  And then I remembered this post from Pinterest!  Sure, doesn't sound too difficult, right?
Well, I wasn't about to invest the buckaroo's into the machine until I knew how hard it really was to make this stuff by hand, not to mention the over-all cost.  Went to my local fabric store armed with coupons.  According to the instructions, I should have been able to get about five yards of tape with just a fat quarter!  For those of you non-sewers, a fat quarter is a pre-cut piece of fabric, cotton, that is 18"x22".  Now what I didn't pay attention to was the difference in the width of my strip, so I bought two fat quarters, they were on sale for 40% off.  I also bought the tape "maker" which is a little metal triangle thingy that sort of "folds" the fabric and then I run a hot iron over it to set it all in.  I had a 50% off coupon for that, and then got 15% off the whole purchase!  Bias tape in the package costs $1.99 regular price and my directions said I needed two packages per outfit!  Basically I bought everything (with the help of my coupons) for the price of the regular tape, but I can keep making more tapes because the "maker" can be used over and over again!  I felt I got a deal at least on that part.  Then I started freaking out about how much time it was going to take me to make it all!  Well, it didn't take much time at all!  It might have taken me just over an hour to cut, sew, press, then measure and cut my strip.  The pressing the bias using the machine may have taken about 30-45 minutes.  But take into consideration, this was my very first time making bias tape!  Best news though, because I was making such a small about of bias tape I only ended up needed one fat quarter!  I loved the way the final product turned out and I can't wait to make more tapes!  Instead of using the plain-old solid kind, now I can use complementary fabrics that add a little pizzazz!

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

In the Hoop

I have taken a little break from blogging, you know, in case you haven't noticed.  And some of you, like the one or two of you that read my blog, may have been wondering, "What happened to Heidi?"  Well, I've been around.  I'd love to say that I've been "busy" but that hasn't completely been the case.  Mostly, I ended up taking a break from blogging because I simply did not have enough time in my day for everything going on.  Not that it was all that much, but between working, homeschooling Samie, Evie's lack of wanting to sleep, and my "new" obsession with in-the-hoop embroidery, I just didn't have enough time (or thoughts left in the day) to get down in print.
Thanks for hanging out while I got my stuff together!
So, I am in the process of re-vamping my Etsy shop.  Eventually I will get back on track making baby items, cause I do really love those!  For now though, my shop is filling up with super-fun, in-the-hoop embroidery items.  Don't know what ITH (in-the-hoop) embroidery is?  Well, in short, it is projects that are mostly or entirely made in my embroidery machine hoop!  Go have a look at my Etsy shop, go on, I'll wait...
Tee-hee, yup, masks, tic-tac-toe boards, felt puzzles, even non-paper dolls!  They are almost as much fun to make as they are to play with!

So what prompted me to come out of the shadows and share all of the happenings with you?  Well, I just finished a project for contest I entered, and while I may not have won, it's really just another example of how machine embroidery has really got me stitching out of my comfort zone!  If you have an embroidery machine or are thinking of getting one, be sure to check out Whimsy Willow Designs!  Super cute embroidery designs and they stitch out beautifully!  The owner, Sara, also has a Facebook group, be sure to check it out if you are on Facebook, for freebies, updates and special sale info!  WWD has an amazing monthly membership, for one low price, you get ALL of the designs released that month!
It was the fan group and the monthly membership that started me getting crafty in a whole new way!  The challenge was, take the WWD ITH Feather design, stitch it out, and make something super creative with it!  Let me tell you, those judges may have had a more difficult challenge than the contestants!  Be sure to check out the fan group for the creative ways other ladies used this design!

Once I saw the feathers, I had a few ideas.  I really liked the idea of doing a headdress, a feather necklace, or some dream catchers for my girl's room.  Someone else posted the most beautiful headdress I could have ever imagined!  I knew I just didn't have the idea well enough in place to do a necklace, and after searching how to make a dream catcher, I knew that was the direction I wanted to go in.  Evie is obsessed with blue and anything Frozen themed, Samie loves pink and her favorite movie is Sleeping Beauty, so I took those two "themes" and I ran with them!  For Evie's feathers I did shades of blue thread and Samie got shades of pink.  I embroidered the feathers on white cotton calico with a white-on-white, tonal vine print.  I used this video tutorial for directions, as I have never actually made a dream catcher before.  I learned from the video that I would "need" something to represent the "spider" for my dream catchers, so I went back through the WWD website and found a few designs I wanted to add to my projects, a snowflake, for the Frozen theme and a rose, for the Sleeping Beauty theme.  I had a bunch of yarn that I knew I could use, glow-in-the-dark thread that I wanted to use for the spider web, all I needed was a ring.  BAM, found some left-over glow sticks with the adapters, and I was ready to roll!
Sorry ya'll, no tutorials, just used the video, the materials listed and a hot glue gun!

Okay, gotta run.  I can't promise any routine in my posts, but I'll do my best to keep you more in the loop, or should I say "in-the-hoop"!

Have a super-craftastic day!

Monday, October 20, 2014

I Love Overalls!

Seriously, I have always loved overalls!  I would wear them as often as I could when I was younger.  I even got a couple pairs when I was pregnant with my kids, although I didn't end up wearing those ones much.  I love overalls!  They are comfy and who doesn't adore all those pockets, right?
Years ago I bought some adorable blue corduroy fabric with little cows on it with the intention of making overalls for my then-pre-school-aged cousins.  Yeah, there's a serious age difference going on!  So I cut my tissue paper patterns, laid out the pieces "just so" and cut my fabric, then I put it all away to work on when I had more time to devote to putting them together.  Fast forward, um, well, let's just say it's been more than ten years and those overalls are still sitting in a bag, waiting to be made.  I did actually pull the fabric out about a year ago, thinking they might fit my own kids, but honestly, the directions to put them together were just more than I wanted to deal with.  I think I actually got the pockets on the fronts, maybe the backs, but they never looked quite lined up, and I just didn't want to keep going if they were going to be crooked.
Recently I found Peek-A-Boo Pattern Shop and when Amy, the owner/designer, started posting previews of her overall jumper, I was smitten!  It was exactly the look I wanted to make for my kids!  The great thing about PAB is that she offers a few free patterns on her website to try out.  I can't even imagine what it takes to figure out and put together a paper pattern but these are amazing!  What I didn't realize was that I have actually been wanting to pick up her Classic Footed Pajama pattern for about a year now but never thought to really look at her site, I had no idea what I was missing out on!
First of all, you get the pattern for an incredibly reasonable price and most patterns come in sizes 3 months to children's size 10!  You can't get a single tissue paper pattern in that many sizes!  Plus, since it is a digital file, you can print it off as many times as you need!  For me, I print the pattern in black-and-white, then I use pattern tracing paper to trace the size I need.  I prefer using the pattern paper (similar to interfacing) over printing a new pattern only because my printer uses up ink very quickly.  I am planning to purchase some accordion files to store the original printed pattern and each traced size in the same area.

The directions for the patterns (well, for every one that I have gotten so far) comes not only with detailed instructions but lots of photos for easy reference.  The photos are great because they are not those black-and-white diagrams of what some manufacturer thinks the items should look like, PAB instruction photos are full color, actual project photos, some include additional markings.  Again, in a effort to not allow my printer to force me into bankruptcy, I actually use my Adobe Reader on my tablet to scroll through instructions.  I am even able to "mark up" my notes using Reader, so if I decide to go out of order (which is something I do a lot) I can mark what steps I have done so I don't miss a thing!

I have to say though, one of the greatest things about these patterns is the support from not only the designer but also from her testers and other sewists!  Amy has a blog where she shares tutorials for patterns, updates followers on new patterns or news, offers free tutorials (and patterns) for designs not in her store and also shares mash-up tips where you can take patterns and mash-them-up to make your own hybrid patterns!  There is also a Facebook page and group (this is a closed group and you must request to join) to get help with patterns, ideas, even great places to purchase fabric!
So!  When the Oopsy Daisy Overalls Jumper was being released, I just knew I had to have it!  The great thing is, there are lots of ways to get a discount!  I not only got the jumper during a Thrifty Thursday special sale, when I added the Okie Dokie Overalls (pants/shorts) there was a coupon code for $3 off!  I did happen to have twill fabric that I wanted to use for these patterns, and in the Facebook group, Amy was doing a sew-along, which is fabulous because it helps to break down the pattern and addresses any issues people might be having with making the patterns.
I had every intention of sewing along with everyone else, up until I found out my iron was broken.  I was so bummed!  At the end of the sew along, people were encouraged to post their completed photos for a chance to win a store credit!  Even though I didn't finish in time for the "contest" I was able to borrow an iron in order to get the overalls made.  After making them, I will never (well, at least in my foreseeable future never) buy another tissue-paper pattern again!  Even as a work-at-home-mom of two little girls, the jumper took me about four or five hours, including cutting time, although it was spread out across a couple days.  When I was ready to make the overalls, they took me significantly less time to put together!

 I seriously can't wait to make my next patterns!  In the next week I have plans to make Halloween costumes for my kids!  Be sure to check that out here.
I have about a dozen patterns now from PAB, and I love the variety.  Since Samie loves dresses so very much, I have a feeling my next few projects are going to be for her.  I also bought patterns to make snow pants and jacket, a zippered hoodie and a camisole and panties pattern, since Samie is so hard to shop for when it comes to undergarments!  I have to admit, my wishlist includes pretty much every pattern on the site, but from what I have seen in the Facebook group, most of these patterns go together incredibly quickly!
Happy crafting!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Halloween is Coming! Do You Make or Buy Your Kids Costume?

I have a love-hate relationship with Halloween costumes.  First of all, I love making costumes!  I love being able to "play" with colors and fabrics and create something fun and playful.  Halloween however seems to always creep up on me just a little faster every time I decide to sew my kid's costume(s).  There is just something about a handmade costume though, that makes it last just a little longer than a factory made, store purchased costume, not to mention the love and attention (and a little blood, sweat, tears and swearing) that go into it.
This year, with all of the Frozen-fever going on, my kids asked to be Elsa and Anna.  We have kept an open eye for pre-made costumes as they are pretty much everywhere but had yet to find a set that we were willing to pay the retail price on.  Some stores only have Anna, others only have Elsa, some are poor quality, some were more expensive than I am going to pay for a "play" dress!  I finally convinced the hubby to Let It Go and let me make the girls their costumes this year.  This is also the point at which I hear about how we can't spend a fortune for me to make the costumes either...  Fine!
Starting with Elsa was a no-brainer.  Not because I thought she would be easier to make, but because Peek-A-Boo Pattern Shop had a blog post on how to make it along with a free pattern (for size 4T, which will fit approximately 3-5 because it is made of knits) and I just love the way hers turned out!  The best part is, I did not need to go out and buy any new fabric!  Yup, I had more than enough fabric to choose from, and even had a "precious" piece of fabric I have been holding onto for the perfect project.  I must tell you, that fabric has been around since before Anna asked "Do you wanna build a snowman?"

Anna is going to take me a little more work.  I knew I could go out and buy a pattern from a big-name company but I am kind of a cheap-o when I buy patterns and I won't spend more than $2 for a tissue paper pattern.  Not only that, trying to find the right pattern, in the right size, on a sale day would be a lot of work.  I decided to go with the option of finding a pattern online (I looked for free patterns but didn't find any I liked) and I wanted something that I could use again for everyday clothes.  My first choice was to go back to PAB Pattern Shop, where I found the Poppy Polo!  I liked this pattern because I can modify the collar to stand up and be more rounded, and after making the dress two-tone, I can just add a vest!  I considered buying a pattern to make the vest, but I'm going to just use the Elsa bodice to make the front of the vest.  I was very excited when I found some baby blue knit gauze fabric for $3/yard, and I only needed 1/2 a yard for the long sleeve bodice, although I didn't know that when shopping, so I splurged on the full yard to be sure.  While cleaning my sewing room, I found a terrific blue knit for the skirt and a simple black woven for the vest.  Once I start getting my fabric cut I will be heading on over to Frou Frou by Heather Sue to pick up some embroidery files for the Anna vest and skirt!

I have seen all of the cute accessories out there for both Elsa and Anna but to be honest, neither princess, or queen, is much for accessories, so why load my kids up?  The last little touch will be something for their hair.  I have seen some adorable crocheted hats with braids themed for Frozen characters, but I just don't know if I want to attempt to make them myself, spend the money and hope they get here, or just grab some yarn and make braids and attach them to hair clips and call it done!
All-in-all, I will end up spending less than $40 (not counting whatever I spent on fabric and thread years ago) to make these, but the bonus is that I will be able to make more tops and dresses out of the pattern as well as being able to use all of the embroidery designs again and again!

I can't wait to share my progress with these costumes!  So, what do you do?  Do you buy pre-made costumes or have you ever made your own?

Saturday, October 11, 2014

I Have Missed Blogging... Sort of...

Let's be honest, there is a certain amount that we all like to "hear ourselves speak."  I am no exception, in fact, I have been told that I talk more than anyone in my family.  I think (as my grandfather would say) that I come by it honestly, as we have a lot of "talkers" in our family.  The truth is, I work from home while watching my two little girls, and I don't talk nearly as much as people may think...  Especially since generally, I can barely get a word in when it comes to my customers or my kids.  That's okay, it's all part of "the job" and I do enjoy my days mostly.  Blogging though gives me the opportunity to get my thoughts out there, into the world, whether anyone is listening or not.  I actually have a couple blogs, one more about personal stuff and this one, that I try to keep more about my sewing.  The thing is, lately, I have mostly just been making notes to myself; things to get done, stuff I want to do around the house, projects that need to be worked on, but I haven't been very productive...  I have all these ideas in my head and no focus or motivation!  UGH!!!
That's kind of where I get the "sort of missed blogging".  You see, if I take time out to blog, it's time I have to find, and take away from my other daily happenings.  So, while I love hearing myself speak (so to speak) and I certainly enjoy sharing my thoughts with all of you (or no one maybe?) I will do my best to at least get a little bit of blogging done each week.

So, I belong to a few groups on Facebook that have to do with sewing and embroidery...  A while back someone in one of the groups mentioned that a shop-at-home network would have a sale on a certain embroidery machine that I have been drooling over.  I tuned in to watch, knowing I couldn't actually upgrade to a new machine quite yet, but GOOD GRIEF it gets the creative bug moving in my brain!  I had plans to do so much for this year with sewing and my machines!  I haven't even scratched the surface for what I wanted to get done.  I went into my sewing room for a few minutes and each time I just go in to look around I become overwhelmed with all the projects to get done, and at the same time, I learn something new about what I can and should be doing!

What have I been doing?  Well, there are some super cute embroidered felt dolls I have been making, you can see a few of my dolls over at my Instagram page here.  I have made over a dozen dolls and outfits, most have been gifts and for my own Littles, but I am hoping to get dolls listed on my site for sale soon!
I also worked on an adorable 1st Birthday outfit for my squishy little niece!

I got the tutorial from Just Add A Bow be sure to check out her DIY videos!  I actually didn't follow the tutorial exactly, but it was filled with great information to get me going!

So, other things I am planning to work on?  My sewing machines!  Every time I go to look for something I find a feature I didn't know the machine did before!  With a little help, I am going to do some video posts of using my machine and what the different presser feet do.  I also am going to attempt some reviews of products I have purchased, everything from my machines, patterns, accessories, whatever!  And of course I am working on projects, or for now I am at least getting a schedule down with my family so that I can get projects done!
This last week I have been making the Oopsy Daisy Overalls Jumper and Okey Dokey Overalls from Peek-A-Boo Pattern Shop!  Let me tell you, I am completely addicted to these patterns!  Not only does the designer give lots of tips and trick on her Facebook page, she also has a blog and does sew-alongs!  While working on the overalls I used my Kenmore machine with my 1/4" foot, buttonhole attachment and a presser foot that keeps the fabric steady while I run a zig-zag stitch!

Is there something sewing related that you would be interested in seeing?  My general sewing machine is a Kenmore (from 1976) and my embroidery machine is a Singer Futura SES1000.  Eventually I am hoping to upgrade to a Singer Quintet and to get myself a serger, but for now I'll work with what I've got.
Feel free to leave a comment of anything you might be interested in, tutorials, sewing, whatever, and I will see what I can do to GET IT DONE!
Thanks for visiting!  Be crafty!