Friday, March 25, 2011

Last Night Before The Move

And I am getting really excited for my new sewing room! I am honestly too excited to decorate the apartment to even think about packing up the old one. But, alas, it must be done. I don't know how we fit so much stuff in this apartment. There are boxes EVERYWHERE and there is still half a kitchen and some of the bedroom to pack. We have to take the tv off the wall, as well as two lamps, then spackle and paint the holes. We need to wrap the glass tops of tables in blankets and pack them into the car. And then there's packing up the cats and getting them set up in their bathrooms tomorrow. We figure separating them during the move is the best idea, since they fight occasionally. They will each get their own bathroom with a litter box and food and water, plus a plug-in kitty hormone that is supposed to calm them down. I just hope our new kitty doesn't get another UTI. That would be very expensive. Stay calm, Little Kitty!

Ok, I really should get to packing again. I've taken too long a break. I literally cannot wait to set up the sewing room and show it to you! I am going with a white and teal theme, and will be making my own drapes and throw pillows. It will be the first time I will venture into the home decor section of Joann's. Should be fun. :) Any tips for those projects?

Friday, March 18, 2011

Feature Friday - Khan Creations

This week's Friday Feature comes from Aisha over at Khan Creations. Her shop features beautiful, unique handmade jewelry with a lot of color and personality. Let's get to know a little more about the artist!

1. How into did you get crafting?
Ever since I was a little girl I always loved the arts including music and drama. When I was 8 years old my mother gave me some embroidery floss and a safety pin. I began to make friendship bracelets every minute of every day. I had a little wooden box that I kept my supplies in and I would make bracelets in the car, at the store, on the plane while my family and I traveled Europe. I explored many facets of the arts during high-school but it wasn’t until college that I returned to jewelry making and picked up my first beading tools. I have been hooked ever since.
2. How did your Etsy shop come to be?
 In December 2010 a family member was talking about Etsy, having never heard of the site before, I decided to check it out. I was hooked and by Dec. 31 I had officially opened my own shop!
3. What is your favorite part about being creative?
Being creative brings a sense of relaxation that rejuvenates my mind and spirit.
4. Are you a full time crafter or do you have a "day job?"
I am a Pre-K teacher by day and a crafter by night.
5. If someone were to buy you a birthday gift on Etsy, what 3 words would they use in their search?
The 3 words they would use in their search would be rings, animal print, and trees.
6. How do you create your designs? I often see a bead or pendant and then pair it with colors and shapes that compliment it. Once in a while I am lucky enough to dream a pattern for a bracelet or necklace.
7. What's in your Soundtrack to Sewing?
I like to listen to pop music on my Ipod. My soundtrack for music is the same one I use while I run; upbeat, fast paced and singable.
8. Favorite spots for inspiration?
A couple of years back my husband remodeled our office and I now have a beautiful hobby table that I work on. It is a tranquil space and has lots of space for me to spread out all my bead boxes.
9. Who inspires you?
Creative people in general inspire me, like the art teacher who makes mosaics, my grandmother who paints with water colors, my girl friend who throws pottery, and all the artistic sellers on Etsy.
10. If you had to choose one item in your shop as a signature piece, what would it be and why?
It would be the bracelet with the floral pendant in the center. Often at school, teachers give me old necklaces and bracelets they do not want anymore to break apart and use the materials I like. Well I had these flower pendants from this old bracelet for about a year and all of a sudden one night I dreamed a design for new piece. I wish all my designs came that easy.
Thanks so much to Aisha for sharing her story and her beautiful pieces. Head on over to Khan Creations to check out more of her selection!

In other news, it looks like we may be moving very soon! We found a townhouse in a great location and things are coming together extremely quickly. The exciting part is that I will be able to use the second bedroom as my sewing room! I bought a new table (with white legs, not black) to replace the kitchen table I've been using. So I will have a station for basic sewing/cutting on the new table, plus the desk area for the more advanced embroidering and storage. I can't wait to start decorating the new place, although I am pretty bummed that the carpet is brown and we're getting a downsize in bedroom space (we're just going to be able to squeeze our furniture in there!), as well as living room closet space. It'll mean a lot of storage solutions in the living room/hall, but I'm pretty excited about that challenge.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Three Posts Later, Two Finished Projects!

I couldn't stop my sewing...I was so excited! Here's how the taggies turned out. What do you think?

Whew! Boyfriend to the Rescue!

Thanks to the Googling talents and coolheadedness of my boyfriend (while I fumed on the couch and told him he couldn't possibly fix my machine if even I didn't understand what was wrong), the problem is fixed. After taking the bottom of the machine apart and adjusting the bobbin tension, the machine works great. I honestly sat back in awe while it worked its magic.
A beautiful, perfect script A. *giant sigh*
I pushed on forward with my projects...thank goodness.
I used my multi-shade pink for this one...I think it may have looked better with the solid pink, but I couldn't help getting fancy on my first one. :)
For the second one, I chose a more boyish font and a solid green. It really pops!
Next step is to choose coordinating ribbon, and for these taggies I am going to do color coordinating soft-textured fabric (one is minky), rather than two layers of the same fleece. I may finish tonight, or I may not...either way I will post when I'm done. What an ordeal!

I Need Help!

I woke up this morning with excitement because last night I bought stabilizer! I was ready to start embroidering. It took me a good hour to have everything ready to go because I was checking and double checking that I had the right materials and parts and was ready to go. Then I began....and this happened.
The top thread is pink and the bobbin is white. As far as I can tell, the bobbin is working just fine, but the top thread doesn't seem to be stitching. I tried using the spool cover, changing thread from the zig-zag tiny spool to a straight wound larger spool, but got the same felt like loose thread. So I adjusted the change. I re-threaded it four, yes, FOUR times to make sure that everything was fine. The thread was through the little spring at the top (step 2). It seems like when I pull the thread myself it feels just like my other machine. So I tried detaching the embroidery attachment and doing a utility stitch. This is what happened.
See how the thread is being pulled and distorted? I tried changing the tension.
Same thing. This is what the back looks like.
Does anyone know what I am doing wrong? I am beyond frustrated and need to calm down before I attempt to move forward. If I can't figure this out, I will have to embarrass myself and call tech support...because I'm sure it is something I am doing wrong, I just can't figure out what.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Feature Friday - Le Joli Paon

I have been horribly, horribly frazzled lately with the whole back injection, job, life in general. But, thankfully, I finally remembered to post a Feature Friday on an actual Friday! So here is the latest. It comes from Carrie Beth from Le Joli Paon, an adorable shop on Etsy with beautiful stationary and other paper goods. Let's take a look at the shop and get to know Carrie Beth a little bit better.

1. How did you get into crafting?
I've always loved beautiful and lady-like paper, especially personalized in some way or another. This love was greatly increased when I got married due to the exciting and wonderful task of getting to pick out and lots of stationery items for the wedding. Then last summer, when my husband was at home preparing to take The Bar Exam, I needed to find a hobby that kept me still and quiet while he was working. So I just started playing around with starting to design paper goods for my friends and family. I made a few cards and gave them away as gifts and then one of my very best friends asked if she could order more of them from me. It shocked me! When I told my husband, he said "I guess you're in business then. Go for it!" Ever since then, I've been designing, printing, and crafting one or more projects a day.
2. How did your Etsy shop come to be?
I have loved Etsy for years and never ever thought I'd become a seller. Then, when people started ordering paper goods from me, I just thought I'd give it a try. So I spent the last five months researching and scouring Etsy to learn how to become a seller, how to run a shop, what makes sellers successful, etc. After doing all of this research and learning as much as possible, I began working on my shop. It's still a budding little work in progress, but I think that's the beauty of Etsy... your shop can always be a work in progress and you're never really finished. I. love. that.
3. What is your favorite part about being creative?
Haha... anyone who knows me personally knows how dangerous it is to ask me to pick my favorite part of anything. I'm way too right brained to have a favorites, but I guess it would be the way an artistic concept is something people relate to differently. Therefore, when I get a request or an occasion to create something for a customer, I try to find out as much as possible about the customer and the audience that will be receiving my work. Then I begin working on a design that's carefully tailored to their personality or their event's needs.
For example, I recently designed for a bride. I asked to speak with her, see pictures of the couple if possible, and I even got a few images of where the event would be held before I begin designing. This ensures that I'm on track with the bride's concept for her entire day. This way, there's a personal connection for her. As for the recipients of her stationery? My hope is that they think of her when they see it!
4. Are you a full time crafter or do you have a "day job?"
I am actually a classicaly trained opera singer. SUPRISE!
I perfomed with full orchestra in Europe and still perform regionally in the U.S. at weddings, funerals, private events, and professional concerts.
This is still not what I would call my actual day job. I am an elementary music teacher at a local private school where I teach grades 4K- 6th grade. I also teach after school piano and voice lessons. I am also the Children's Music Director for my church.... yep, I'm a busy little singing bee, but I am so BLESSED to get to do so many exciting, fun, musical things every day in addition to pursuing my graphic design hobby.
5. If someone were to buy you a birthday gift on Etsy, what 3 words would they use in their search?
Again, I hope by words you meant categories...there goes my inability to narrow favorites down again...
How's this?
paper goods, jewelry, home goods
Any item from any of those categories=love.
6. How do you create your designs?
Being a musician, I believe that elegance is not only something that can be seen. It can be heard, felt, touched, and experienced. I like to remember that when I am designing. So how do it do it? Very carefully and always with the customer at the forefront of my mind. Art is about self-expression, yes, but what's the point if no one appreciates the art which you are creating. I want all of my customers to LOVE their designs. Not because I designed them, but because their designs suit them in a personal way. Basically, I want it to be more than paper.
7. What's in your Soundtrack to Sewing?
Sad confession: I actually don't sew! I have a machine that a sweet elderly woman from church gave to me and I am determined to learn. So far, I can only sew for a very long time in a straight line. Someone help me! As of today, I have only successfully made a fabric square. :(
8. Favorite spots for inspiration?
The sweet little study in my home. After the bar exam, my husband kindly gave it up and let me move in as I prepared to start my shop. He is wonderful. He even helped me to clean his bar exam books out of the closet so that I could get everything insanely organized before I began. What's better? The study also doubles as a yoga studio and practice room for me when I need to prepare music for a concert! It is a wonderfully calm and inspiring space. Even my puppy likes to nap in there! :)
9. Who inspires you?
Countless people and historical figures. Too many to list. All inspire me. All for different reasons.
10. If you had to choose one item in your shop as a signature piece, what would it be and why?
The Sophisticated Family series. Family is the most important thing to me, and that series is designed with the hope that every family would be able to identify with that design.
Big thanks to Carrie Beth for sharing her story with us! Don't forget to head over to Le Joli Paon to check out all the amazing cards, invitations and notes. :)

In other news, I hope to buy my stabilizing fabric this weekend and do my first project using the machine embroidery. We'll see how that does. =/ So far the weekend has begun with my cat using my leg as a means to claw her way up onto the bed. I hope that's not a bad omen.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

This is way more complicated than I expected....

Just checking in briefly because I unpacked my new machine (yay!) and have it all set up on my desk (finally packed away the desktop I haven't used in years). My little station doesn't look very pretty yet, but I am using the computer chair now, which is much more comfortable than the kitchen table chair, where my original machine is set up.

And there it all its glory. My new, fancy machine! A messy, jumbled, Diet-Fanta-fueled glory of not being used yet. Because I am finding myself completely and utterly overwhelmed by the task of learning this new machine. With my first machine, it was take it out of the box and get sewing! This machine requires a lot of changing of parts and threads, reading the manual thoroughly, not to mention buying stabilizer material.....I didn't even know what that was! I told myself that I would do my first embroidery project this weekend (a taggy for one of the kids I nanny for, with her name on it). Well, my weekend project is now completely haulted because I have to buy this stabilizer stuff. *SIGH* Why can't it be simple?!

It doesn't help that I still have a headache from my injection, and my back is really sore, and now my right ear is ringing. UGH!

Does anyone else go into a project expecting it to be a breeze and then get stuck because it just seems so long and arduous?