Sunday, January 26, 2014

An Upcycled Repurposed Life

For those who don't know my story, late in 2010 I had to close my quilt shop and lost my beautiful log house. Another victim of the economy downturn and not enough future planning on my part. Yes, I do take part of the blame.

The emotional pain was stifling.. I still think... "I want to go home". I lived 25 miles from Yosemite National Park. I miss the trees, the forest, the little fox that would come by each night to raid whatever cat food I had forgotten to pick up.

Fast forward three years......

I'm in Oregon living with my mom. That in itself isn't progress but it allowed a time of healing and reinvention.

It took a while. I worked at a local quilt shop. Note to oneself. Do not go to work for another quilt shop owner.
I taught some kids sewing classes. It helped pay a few bills and introduced me to a new experience.

I went back to school... at 50 something. I discovered I'm a pretty decent student. Of course I drove my accounting teacher nuts.

I started looking for something I could do with my creative spirit and earn money at the same time. Enter Altered Couture Magazine and the local thrift stores in town.

It's like every day is an "Aha Moment". I'm amazed I am still at it 7 months later. Not only that, but the February issue of Altered Couture has two of my creations. One, the managing editor liked so much she bought it and modeled it in the article.

My sales are still slow. I'm learning to be patient. Steady and hand to the sewing machine. Don't stop now, I feel like I'm almost there.

I'm still in school. I got my Accounting AA. I'm working toward an AA in Administrative Assistant. Just a back up. But in my heart I know because of my age, it most likely won't turn into a job.

But it will make me a better businesswoman.

And so the story goes on in a positive note. Finally, thankfully, and gratefully I think I'm going to make it.

To God and the Universe. Keep on... and Thank you!

You can visit my Etsy shop here...... Curious Orange Cat

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

It's Official. I'm Getting Published!

I'm so excited! I have been working on my sewing creations for my Etsy store for some time now. My goal still is 100 items.
I'm working on it pretty steadily.
I'm having a blast creating. I get side tracked so easily. But it always comes out well.

This is one of my favorites. It fits me of course. But I won't make any money putting stuff in my closet.

So back to the getting noticed thing.
I got my courage up and submitted an upcycled red jacket and skirt outfit to Altered Couture Magazine.  Lo and behold within a day after I sent it off, I got an email from the assistant managing editor asking about another dress on my Etsy store.
They hadn't even gotten my package yet!

I guess it was meant to be. I got the "official" email letting me know two of my creations were chosen for a future issue. I'm thinking February. Plus, they still have the red outfit and I sent them another hoping for another submission the future. We will see. Fingers crossed!

Oh, and I get to write two 600 to 700 word articles for the submissions... yea!! (said in a weak voice). I didn't know there would be homework!

I feel like I have finally found my "thing".

Something I love to do everyday. I dream about sewing these outfits. Crazy huh?
I'm working on getting noticed by potential customers.

 Etsy has many areas to get great help. Forums for questions and groups to join for support and education.

I have been reading a bit of unhappiness with the new seller rules. Etsy now allows sellers to have other people make their products. I don't think it will take long for sellers who are actually manufacturers to show up. I have seen them already. It isn't too hard to find them.

However, I see Etsy as a simple avenue for selling to my customers and giving them a place to find me.

I realize I need to be proactive in attracting customers.
Opening a store, adding products and waiting for the sales to roll in just isn't going to happen.
 It takes work!
Sending submissions to magazines is pretty scary. But it is necessary to market myself. No one else is going to do it for me.

I learn new things everyday in both my sewing and marketing. But for now, I'm enjoying the process.

Until next time....

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Sometimes Simple is Best

I have been doing so much sewing lately and each outfit ends up being pretty elaborate. I promised myself today I would do something simple. What do you think!

Ok it started out simple enough. But then the little top said it wanted something different for the back. So I ended up with this. How cute is this!!

I took a white t-shirt a friend had given me and cut two inch strips and ruffled them. I cut another strip the length of the dress and sewed the ruffles on. I haven't done this before and thought it turned out pretty sweet.
It's on my Etsy store now...

Upcycled Baby Doll Top Size Small

Enjoy your weekend!!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Kids Sewing Camp


Teaching kids to sew is an adventure! For the last few years I have taught a few kids sewing classes during the summer. I always forget to take pictures and show how creative kids can be. Here is my group from this year. The quilt is a strip "quilt as you go" quilt. It is great for kids that are familiar with their machines and the ability to sew a straight line is a must. We did have a few dates with the seam ripper I'm afraid.
I also feel this needs to be a 5 day class. We just can't get everything done in 4 days. The class was 3 hours long and trust me, that is enough for them. They really wear out after 3 hours.
The class was taught at Hood River Sewing and Vacuum in Hood River, Oregon. If you need a new sewing machine or vacuum... this is the place!
Here are my students from this year with their wonderful quilts.


You need:
Main quilt fabrics: Eight fabrics 1/4 yard each
Binding: 1/2 yard
Backing: 1 2/3 yard
Batting: I use Warm and Natural crib size because you can leave up to ten inches unquilted. This is very important! We leave about 5 inches unquilted.
505 Basting spray and some newspaper to protect from the spray.
Basic sewing supplies: pins, thread, hand sewing needle and thimble for sewing the binding.

Lay out the batting on a large flat surface. Preferably on something larger than the batting.  Line the batting around the edges with newspaper so the spray won't get on the floor or table.
Lay the backing on top of the batting, right side up. If you have help this goes a little easier. Fold back the backing fabric about half way. Spray the batting with the 505 basting spray and gently lay the backing back down. Use your hand to smooth it as you lay it down. If you get a wrinkle, you can lift it back up and try again. Repeat on the other side of the batting.
Cut each 1/4 yard of fabric in one of four different widths. One strip cut a 4" and 5" strip. Another cut 3" and a 6" strip. Cut from salvage to salvage and leave the salvages on. You will trim the quilt when you are done.
Starting in the center of the quilt. Lay one strip face up. Lay another strip face down matching raw edges and pin. Sew from one side to the other all the way through the strips, batting and backing. Fold back the strip and smooth flat. Lay another strip face down matching raw edges and pin. Repeat until you get to the edge. Go back to the center strip and repeat to the other end of the quilt. Trim the quilt at the shortest strip.
Cut six binding strips 2 1/4" wide and bind your quilt.

Have Fun!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Inspiration to Lose Weight!

I made this little frock the other day and it seems to be a favorite view on my Etsy site. I even took it apart a few times before I felt it was just right. I so wish I could fit it it myself. It is made with a Tommy Bahama silk button up the front shirt and a women's green cotton plaid. The top is a brown khaki cotton with some pretty vintage lace sewn down. I used another vintage lace and some silk ribbon for around the middle.

Hopefully it won't last long.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Custom Work

I was so excited to get my second order from my Etsy store. A stranger this time. I feel like I might actually make it. Still tons of work to do to get noticed!!! But my customer also wanted another dress. She gave me free reign. (I hate free reign). I of course stressed big time. What if she didn't like what I made? These dresses look easy. Just sew a bunch of scraps together. No such luck. There is at least 8 hours of hard work in each of these two. That doesn't count my date with the seam ripper..... twice. The blue one I actually tore down twice before I was happy.

Here is the second one I made.

I made a sweet little flower from the collar of one of the blouses used in the skirt. I thought it turned out pretty well.

She liked the blue one. So the pink one is now available for sale!!!

Back to the basement :)

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Finally! Made Something That I Could Wear!

I have been having fun at the thrift store bag day. But I'm terrible at remembering to look at the sizes. I look at style and what I can make from it with blinders on. I get home, wash everything and realize everything is small or medium. Sorry girls, I'm not a small or medium. Not for at least 30 years at least. Going through my basket of possibilities I found this luscious brown top in a large. It was nice and stretchy. Perfect! I found some other chocolate brown tops begging for upcycling. I had a skirt I had attempted to make sooo many years ago. I found it trying to organize my sewing room the other day and decided it was a perfect addition.
So here is my new creation. I tried it on and Lo and behold, it fit. Of course I had to add it to my Etsy store. Can't make a sale if I keep everything cool! Nice thing about this outfit is anyone could wear it and look awesome!