Friday, December 31, 2010

Ending the year with something new

I'm always trying to think of new things to make or new ways to make the same old things. We all have our cell phones, ipods, cameras, or other gadgets and this week I finally had a chance to try out a new case I've been thinking about.

You may know I like to use zippers - and usually two when possible! So this new case is a zip-around closure with a zippered pocket on the outside.

I put a tab with a small split ring on it, and I made a wristlet strap, although I see I forgot to attach it for the photo shoot!

The inside has a 'netting' pocket on each side, although it could easily be made with a set of cards holders on one side instead. My original thought was for an iPod and ear buds...

I'm pretty pleased with the outcome for a first try, and will continue to perfect it, along with decide on alternate sizes (maybe one large enough for a kindle?)

I'd love to know what you think!

Until next year,


Friday, December 24, 2010

Thoughts beginning.....

For a while now I've been mulling around that my sewing room is out of control and I need to reorganize it. So here we are the end of a year, and as seems to happen, the new year brings the need for changes to the forefront.

I'm privileged enough to have a fairly good sized room for my sewing, and yet, I also have managed to take over space in both of the upstairs bedrooms as well. So whenever we have company, I'm scrambling to move things out.

It's time to get organized and I'm going to really do it this time!

I have two 8-ft tables side by side in the center of the room that are inteded for cutting space. When I work with decorator fabrics, I want to be able to put them out. However, as table space does, it's turned into a dumping ground for stuff, and then I still have to move things around when I need to cut larger items.

I also have this old entertainment center, and a pretty big tv, and yes, I'm going to admit it - a fairly large vinyl album collection taking up valuable space.

Also, when I got my serger (ok, that's been almost two years ago) I never really organized a space, so it sits on my cutting area too.

Here are a couple of pictures of what I'm dealing with.

So over the next few weeks, I'm going to get organized, get rid of stuff that I'm never going to use, and take back my spare bedrooms and recreate my space to be more functional and organized!

Of course, Christmas is this weekend, so don't expect too much until next week!

Stay tuned,

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


My friend and former coworker found some material that she asked me to make a purse from - it was three coordinating fabrics from the 'Man's Best Friend' line from Leanne Anderson and Henry Glass. The blue has all sorts of cute dogs, bowls, bones, etc. The brown has coordinating pawprints, and the cream has bones and dog 'talk'.

She didn't have a specific style in mind, so after harrassing for some measurements to start from, the purse below is what came out. I really love the style, and think I can adapt the pattern to a couple of sizes.

I passed the purse off via some mutual friends, so didn't get to see her reaction, but this is what she had to say:

" The purse was fantastic! My friend loved it! Everyone I showed it to loved it also. I think her (my friend's) comment was "oh, I wanted a Susan purse and this is so cute!!", so count yourself among the Vera Bradleys, Kate Spades, and Stella McCartneys of the world. You are now a product line name! :) "

Wow - talk about making me feel good.

I think I will call it the 'Holly' purse after my friend who let me be creative in making it!

Look for this style in at least two sizes after the first of the year!


Sunday, December 12, 2010

It's a Surprise!

We have these wonderful neighbors across the street.
They have this cute Scottie dog (Kelly) who's my pal.

I found a great Christmas Scottie Dog fabric, and so I've made them this for Christmas.

Shhh - it's a surprise!

I think they will love it.


Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Storage Project

My in-laws offered us a couple of side tables several months ago, and we finally picked them up this weekend. One of the tables we were removing (ok, it only went to the basement) had doors with storage inside. What to do with the stuff that was inside?

I decided to make a storage bin to put under one of the tables. I remembered that I had a pattern with a fairly large storage bin as one of its items, so I searched through my patterns and found it.

Here's the finished storage bin.

The exterior is dark purple corduroy. The interior is a home decor weight fabric: cream with purple flowers. The bottom and all the sides have double faced fusible peltex to give it structure.
Now I'm going to take it downstairs and fill it up!

Monday, October 4, 2010

There's always something good....

This past weekend I tried out a new show (for me) in an area where I've not done a show before. It was a large show, lots of vendors, but ended up not being a good fit for the items I make. On top of everything else, the weather was unbelievably crappy. It went from being in the 80's last week to a high of about 52 on Saturday and rain to top that off. On Sunday, it was even colder, and, although it didn't rain on Sunday, the wind was about 30 mph, so it was CHILLY!

My wonderful husband kept me company this weekend (he loves to help!) and we discovered that our neighbors were the nicest couple ever. In their 70's - he did woodworking items - like pumpkins and Santa heads with lights, and a really cute Rudolph. She made snow people from fabric - all handmade, and just wonderful work.

They had this beautiful wooden cash register, and after commenting on it, discovered that he had an extra one that he had made for the next neighbor who coveted it. So on Sunday, I purchased one from him - just beautiful!

The cash drawer has coin and bill dividers, and the middle section will be great for my scissors and stapler and extra sales books, etc. The top also opens and will make a nice storage spot for something. Each side has a place for business cards, there are three places where pens will rest, and there is a spot for staging the payment.

So, although the show itself didn't end up being a profitable venture, the fun of being next to these lovely people and then great cash register made it worth it.


Monday, September 6, 2010

I say Tomatoes!

You probably think that sewing is all that I do, but you would be wrong!

This weekend I went to my friend Kathy's to get some tomatoes from the garden she and her brother have. Last year, I got enough tomatoes from them to can 39 pints.

Here is the box of tomatoes that I broght home before I did anything with them. I knew I had too many when Jamie winced to pick it up and carry it into the house!

Hours later, I got them all canned. Actually, I started on them Sunday afternoon, and finished the last canner after noon on Monday.
49 pints. So much for not needing to do as many as last year!
The good news is, that we will be able to have lots of pasta, chili, etc., this winter!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

New Fabric, Continued....

My last post was about the fabrics that my mother-in-law picked out for a new purse and accessories for her.

I did a little shopping of my own that day.

I usually buy quite an assortment of fabrics when I shop, and this trip was no exception.

Sometimes I have specific themes or colors that I look for, and other times it's just what catches my eye.

This time I was looking for some masculine fabrics, which I found a couple, and I also look for new cat fabrics (because I don't have enough). I also found the companion fabrics to one I'd bought a while back, so now I have matching fabric for lining/straps when I make the totes from the fabric.

I also try to keep my eye out for dog fabrics, because I always have someone accuse me of being prejudice against dogs. It's not that (well, maybe a little), it's that the dog fabrics just aren't as cute or easy to use as the cat fabrics. I did find this dog themed fabric, so hopefully it will satisfy a few dog lovers!

You should see some items from this fabric in my etsy shop this week, as I already have some items made from it!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

New Fabric, New Projects

Jamie and I were visiting his parents for a few days and while he and his dad were fishing, his mom and I did some shopping - which of course, involves fabric shopping for me! One of the local shops close to where they live is Renee's House of Quilting and my stop there was a bit lethal.

A couple of years ago, I had my mother-in-law pick out fabric for a purse for herself, and she decided while we were there that it was time for a new one - this one more fall/winter in colors.
Here are the fabrics she selected for the outside (the circles) and lining (gold/tan print). I'm also trying out a new product, but I'll leave that for once I have it made and have pictures of how it all turns out!

She also decided that she wanted a new wallet and this brown is what she selected for that.

I think she picked out great fabrics, and can't wait to get started on these!


Saturday, August 21, 2010


As many fabric addicts do, I buy all kinds of fabrics in varying colors, themes, patterns, quantities. You may have seen pictures of my fabric closets (the one that isn't large enough) in previous posts.

Earlier this week, I decided that it was time to make myself a new purse. I had purchased this black, brown and butter yellow batik print a while back, and it was what I selected to make a purse for myself.

I had it all done but for the straps, but my husband hadn't seen it that day. The next day when he came home from work, he came up to my sewing room, looked at the purse and said something to the effect of 'old lady fabric' about the purse I was making for myself. Now, I do realize that I am older than him by a few years, but I don't think that I'm an 'old lady' just quite yet.

Of course, now I can't carry that purse because of what he said, even though I don't see whatever he saw in the fabric.Yesterday I decided to make a patchwork purse which I haven't done in a while. I think it turned out very well - and apparently it's not 'old lady' fabric, because my husband said when it saw it completed - 'that one will sell'!

Sunday, August 15, 2010


Yesterday, we headed to the quaint town of Yellow Springs, Ohio for Art on the Lawn, sponsored by the Village Artisans. I had done this show several years ago, but then it conflicted with another show the next few years, so I hadn't been back.

It's a nice setting for a show, on the lawn of a school, especially in mid-August when the temperature and humidity can be, well, let's say 'unbearable'. We had a spot under the edge of a tree's umbrella, so started off with a little shade.

I had tweeted on Friday where I would be, and for those of you who have experienced this, it's always fun to meet someone that you know from twitter. Linda (Croneandbearit) stopped by to say hello and it was fun to meet her and her husband.

Unfortunately, about 3:30 or so, the weather took a turn for the worse, with some serious rain, thunder and lightenting, so some hurried packing occurred, and no worse for the wear (ok, I may have rusted a little from the drenching) we headed home a little early.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

New item in the making - lunch tote

I have a neighbor that I've done some window treatments for and she asked me a while back about making her a lunch bag. So she came over last week and picked a couple of fabrics and we discussed style, size, etc for the bag.

When making a new item, I like to experiment and make a couple to perfect the process, before I make 'real' ones to sell.

Here is the first one I made:

I quilted the exterior, added a pocket on one side and lined it in PUL for easy cleanup. I didn't use the insulated interfacing in this one, nor did I use the stiffer interfacing for the bottom, but overall I was pleased with how it turned out.

There were a couple of things that I didn't like about how I made it, so I tried a second one changing those things, and actually didn't complete the second one yet, because I liked the things I changed even less.

Once I've completed the ones for my neighbor, I plan to make some for my craft shows and etsy shop.

Stay tuned!


Sunday, July 25, 2010

Weekend Entertainment

Yesterday was a fun filled day. I had asked some friends (one from out of town) to go to Picnic with the Pops yesterday evening. My out of town friend said she would love to come down and also spend some of the day doing some fabric shopping.

Who could turn down an invitation like that? Not me!

Not that it mattered, but the local quilt shops were having their shop hop also. We didn't get an early enough start to do all the shops - the driving distance this year was pretty substantial. We picked ones that we hadn't been to recently, along with one of my favorites!

I was looking for more black and white prints, as they are very popular. Most things I make from them sell quickly!

I've also been on the lookout for a new masculine fabric, since the brown herringbone is gone.

Of course, I found some cat themed fabrics that I just couldn't pass up!

And here's the rest - including my two free fat quarters from a couple of the shops!

Now, to have time to make things from all this, as if I didn't already have enough fabric in my stash!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Craft Show Preparation

I've been doing craft shows for a few years now and I think I finally have a routine down for the week before a show.

After each show, I evaluate what I sold so I know what to make between shows, and I try to work on those items on a daily basis. A couple of my big sellers are the zipper wallets (now in two sizes), what I call the 'mini pack purse' which is a small hipster style purse.

We pack up the car the night before the show with the following:

1. tent and weights when it's an outdoor show
2. grid wall, hardware and shelves
3. chairs
4. bags
5. inventory

The morning of the show, we load the cooler with the needed refreshments to keep us through the day, and of course, the cash box for change.

Now - what did I forget?

Friday, July 2, 2010

Road Trip - GASP!

Last weekend, the husband and I set out for our first vacation together (without family) in about seven years. We headed to Asheville, NC, to Biltmore. I had been there as a child - I'm thinking I was probably 9 or 10 - so many years ago - and have talked over the years about going back.

It's about an 8 hour drive from Columbus OH, and all interstate, so really a pretty quick drive. We spent the first night in Bryson City NC and took the Great Smokey Mountain Rail Road trip on Sunday. The weather was pretty much as we had been having at home - warm and humid.

We spent a couple of days in Asheville, toured the Biltmore house and grounds, took a trolley around the city to see more and learn some of the history, and headed back home on Wednesday. I would attach some pictures from our trip, but we really aren't picture takers, so there were only a few.

Why GASP! in my title, you may be asking? Well, I'm pretty sure this is the first time I've been anywhere that I didn't go to a fabric shop of some sort. So my fabric stash didn't grow with this trip!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Shaker Heights Arts & Music Fesitval

Despite my best efforts, there was nothing shaking and sales didn't reach new heights at the Shaker Heights Arts & Music Festival this past weekend (June 19-20, 2010) in Shaker Heights, a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio.

Last year was my first experience at this show, which seemed promising. Last year's event was held on the grounds of a prestigious preparatory school for girls: Hathaway Brown. But despite the pedantic setting, the show was rather pedestrian. Parking was challenging, there was an admission ($5), the weather was lousy and the economy was lousier.

Despite flat sales, I was persuaded to give the show another chance this year. The event had a new venue closer to the heart of town, admission was free, parking was plentiful, my jury fee was waived, the entry fee was lower and the economy was improving.

As it turns out, the weather was better, too. But, it was hot; so hot that an elderly woman fainted in front of the booth directly across from us. We, too, were withering.
Sales were better than last year, but not nearly enough to persuade me from returning next year.
I haven't given up on northeastern Ohio. My best show ever was in Chagrin Falls. And I have high hopes for my July 17 show in Willoughby, Ohio: the Willoughby Arts Fest, which expects more than 10,000 people. And as a fellow artists told me, these people come to shop.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Smartphone cases

It doesn't seem that long ago that phones weren't that smart. Now people seem disappointed if a new phone doesn't come with Internet, email and turn-by-turn directions.

According to Boy Genius Report, smartphones now account for 39 percent of U.S. marketshare. As that number grows each year, so do their physical size.

For a long time, my standard cell phone case (which measures 4.5" tall x 3" wide) fit most phones on the market, including the BlackBerry Curve (although snugly).

To adapt to changing times, I am now designing a larger cell phone case to accommodate the iPhone 3G and 3GS (4.5" x 2.4" x 0.48" inches), the Motorola Droid (4.55" x 2.35" x 0.55") and all BlackBerrys. My redesigned case measures 5.25" tall x 3.5" wide and may include additional features, such as a velcro flap, a pocket and/or a zipper.

No, there is not an app(lique) for that. But I take custom orders.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Miniature aprons

My brother and his two daughters lived with me for several years. During that time, I made a number of outfits for my neices.

So, it makes sense that my neices are asking me to make clothes and accessories for their children.

Two of my latest creations are aprons for my four-year-old grandniece Hayley. Her mother says she loves to help out in the kitchen and pouts if she is unable to.

I have never tasted any of her creations, but I have seen her create a convincing birthday cake out of Play-Doh.

No matter what she whips up, this little sous-chef will be ready when the sauces and batter get flung.

(BTW: My husband thought he would be funny by Photoshopping Hayley's image. I'll be sure to take a real picture of her in one of her new aprons.)

Monday, April 5, 2010

Paisley is a timeless pattern

Before researching paisley on Wikipedia, I would have guessed that the paisley print was first introduced in the mid-1970s, when it was a popular print for extra-wide neckties (at least for my grandfathers).

According to Wikipedia, the paisley print dates back to the Safavid Dynasty of Persia (1501 to 1736). Perhaps that is why American quilters refer to paisleys as "Persian pickles." I'm not sold on the pickle idea; I have always thought paisleys resemble colorful amoebae. But, I agree that paisleys resemble Yin yang symbols, so that is why they are a fitting pattern for a spring ensemble.

I recently had a custom order for a colorful paisley wallet ($32), and I continued the theme to a mini pack purse ($24), a box pouch ($15), a mini zippered wallet ($11), and a lanyard ($6). Then I used a blue paisley print to create a Passport wallet ($10).

Whether a paisley resembles a pickle or an amoeba, it can be patterned and colored in myriad ways. And most paisley prints I come across are a lot more appealing than they were in the mid-1970s.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Craft day

Yesterday I had three friends over for a craft day, a first for us. All of us worked on our craft projects at my two work tables in my sewing room.

One friend mended pants, another organized photographs for scrapbooks, and another cut the fabric pattern for an Ohio State-themed purse and worked on her cross stitch. I finished some of my home decor projects, including draperies for my mother-in-law.

We broke for lunch at 1:30 p.m. I cooked Mediterranean chicken in the crockpot, which included stewed tomatoes, Greek olives, and marinated artichoke hearts. We also had a seven-layer salad, sticky buns, a bottle of Bogle Merlot, and a bottle of Barefoot Chardonnay.

After lunch, we went back to our craft projects for a few hours. We broke for Campfire S'Mores Bread Pudding at 5:30 p.m.; imagine bread pudding drizzled with melted chocolate, mini marshmallows, and crumbled graham crackers.

We all had a lot of fun and look forward to the next craft day.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Facebook ad

In putting together a marketing plan, I realized my biggest challenge: reaching a global demographic on a shoestring budget. I have 5,650 followers on Twitter and a Sew Darn Simple fan page on Facebook, but that is not enough.

After doing a little research, I found that Facebook ads have a low click-through rate, but a high impression rate and the potential to reach millions.
I ran my first ad campaign on Facebook from March 10 through March 20. I targeted 25 to 64-year-old females in the United States, or more than 39 million people.

The first ad consisted of my logo, which includes my tagline: Custom Sewing for Your Home and More...Purses, Accessories, Home Decor. The logo was a hyperlink to my website ( The verbiage below the logo read: 100% cotton purses, wallets, cell-phone cases, lanyards, accessories and so much more. Custom orders. Global shipping.

Because Facebook has a low-click-through rate, I chose to pay up to $0.68 per click, not to exceed $5.00 per day. During that 10 day advertising campaign, my ad had 86,778 impressions and 21 clicks, for a 0.13 percent click per thousand (CPM) rate, and a 0.024 percent total click-through rate (CTR). My average cost per click (CPC) was $0.53 and my total campaign cost $11.17.

Although I do not track how customers hear about me, during my first Facebook campain I had 4 new customers, 8 total customers, and 10 total sales. My average sale is $9.00, not including shipping.

I began my second Facebook campaign yesterday (March 20). I substituted the logo with an ad that has pictures of my merchandise. I kept the maximum pay per click at $0.68 and the daily budget at $5.00 And I kept the verbiage below the graphic, but changed the hyperlink to go directly to my Etsy landing page (, where I sell my merchandise. I already have had 60,630 impressions and 10 clicks.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

It's in the bag

To paraphrase a commercial by a well-known electronics juggernaut: there is a bag for that.

My online shop has backpacks, reusable baggies, cosmetic pouches, toiletry bags, and purses of all designs, shapes, and sizes. Occassionally I'll make a CD case for a grand-nephew, a crayon case for a neice, or a diaper bag for an expectant mother.

My latest project is what I call the drawstring project bag, which is approximately 6.5" in diameter and 13" tall. The bottom is weighted with heavy, fuseable Peltex interfacing.

I envision my project bag being filled with yarn, thread, fabric, and needles for those who like to knit, crochet, needlepoint, and/or sew.

My first project bag includes words and appeals to the wordsmith. I also have a similar fabric with numbers for number crunchers. But, if typography isn't your bag, Austin Powers, I have hundreds of other prints and combinations.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Fourth time is a charm

Many great painters have painted over a canvas several times before creating a masterpiece. I am finding that sewing isn't much different.

As I often do, I based a new wallet design on two modified patterns. But, it took me four tries to create a saleable wallet.

On my first attempt, the zipper (for coins) was in an odd place, just below the flap. Also, I later discovered that most of the credit card slots were too narrow.

For my second attempt, I moved the zipper to the middle of the wallet, but I still did not like it being on the outside. And, I did not like the Velcro flap.

My third attempt was pretty good. I substituted the Velcro flap for one with a magnetic snap, but I forgot to put fabric behind my zipper to make a pouch. I corrected that problem, but the design was still missing something.

For my fourth and final design (paw-print fabric), I added a see-through vinyl pocket to accommodate an ID. The wallet also has an opening that runs lengthwise to accommodate paper currency, a zippered pouch for metal currency, three distinct slots for credit cards, and a pocket under the credit cards for more cards, such as business cards.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Plastic, plastic, plastic

Plastic water bottles, plastic shopping bags, plastic baggies, and plastic surgery seem to be ubiquitous these days. Of the examples given, plastic surgery has the most longevity, but Pamela Anderson and others find that some features have to be retouched before old age sets in.

What is so silly about much of the plastic we use is its very short lifespan. People cart bottled water to the gym or on a short walk, then pitch the empty container 30 minutes later. I'm not sure when we got away from laughing at the thought of buying bottled water, most of which is common tap water. But, it makes much more sense to use a washable aluminum or plastic bottle. Or fill a glass with cold water from a pitcher with a filter (e.g. Brita).

Typically, the lifespan of a shopping bag is much shorter than that of a water bottle. Customers fill shopping carts with plastic bags full of groceries to make it easier for the one-minute transfer from the shopping cart to the trunk of the car. Then they use the plastic bags another three minutes for lugging the groceries from the car to the kitchen.

Granted, the recyclable grocery bags sold at checkout counters are worthless, unless you live in Europe and/or you are just picking up a loaf of French bread and a couple items from the produce aisle. Those bags also contribute to the detriment of the environment because most of them are made in China and freighted around the world. And, unwanted bags end up in landfills. Substituting cardboard or plastic boxes makes more sense. Plastic milk cartons are ideal, if they are not obtained illegally.

Plastic baggies without a ziploc are such a waste because they are only needed from the time a sandwich or snacks are prepared until they are consumed a few hours later. Reusable baggies are much more environmentally friendly, and fashionable. I make them in two different sizes, starting at $6. My reusable baggies have pull tabs for easy opening and are:
  • Machine washable
  • Dryer safe
  • Polyurethane laminated 100% cotton
  • Lead and Phthalates free

Sunday, February 21, 2010


I am thinking about writing a monthly newsletter, but I wonder if it will be worth it. I already have a Blog and a Twitter account, so coming up with fresh material might be difficult. But, if I get subscribers, then Sew Darn Simple will be top of mind (at least on the newsletter issue date).

Another consideration is the newsletter's design. My husband came up with a one-page template that resembles a purse, but I'm not sure I like it; it is too busy and too purple (if that is possible).

Also, once I have a design I like, what should I include? Monthly tutorials might have some value. And adding events to show readers where I'll be makes sense.
If anyone has any ideas concerning newsletters, I'd love to hear them.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

New look and feel

My husband is taking digital design courses online, through the Art Institute of Pittsburgh. In his current class, he has had to create a new logo, a newspaper ad, a newsletter, and a website layout for a client (real or imagined). His client is Sew Darn Simple.

I have neither the time nor the inclination to create marketing collateral; after all, my time would be better spent in the sewing room. My husband has been promising me a new logo and a newsletter for the past several months. So, his latest class is topical and timely.

To update the logo, he used ragged edges to mimic pinking shears. He also found a handwritten, casual, fun, and free font at Creative products do not conform to all the rules, and GoodDog typeface conveys this.

The picture shows one idea for an improved website home page. The revised logo appears in that picture.

Before too long, I hope he puts his ideas into Dreamweaver and gives my website a new look and feel. Until then, I'll keep dreaming and sewing. (Weaving isn't as much fun.)

Monday, February 8, 2010

Putting a dress form to good use

After years of allowing a dress form to occupy space in my sewing room, I decided to use it to display my purses and backpacks. I receive quite a few questions regarding strap length, and pictures display the merchandise how it is to be used. Cropped carefully, the viewer should not be able to distinguish between a dress form and a human model.

The dress form has been around since the 1950s, when my mother used it to make clothes. Now it wears my husband's white undershirt, my violet blouse, and a black skirt.

When I am not using it to display product, I can maneuver it in front of the upstairs bedroom window to give passersby a creepy feeling, as if they are being watched by Norman Bates playing his mother. Or, to keep would-be burglars at bay when we are away from the house, like Macauley Culkin's character in "Home Alone."

Even though I have found a new use for this otherwise obsolete dress form, I would be willing to part with it for the right price.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Art Studio Clearance Sale a Success

If success at a craft show can be a leading economic indicator, 2010 looks promising.
This past weekend at the annual Ohio Designer Art Studio Clearance Sale on the Ohio State Fairgrounds (January 30 and 31), Sew Darn Simple had twice the number of total sales as 2009.

It seems that customers are opening their purses, but not to buy purses. Full-sized purses ($30-$65) and backpacks ($69) are my most expensive items, but I did not sell one full-size purse. Customers preferred the smaller pack purse ($24), as well as accessories such as cell-phone cases, glasses casses, mini zippered wallets, box zipper pouches, tissue covers, lanyards, and Easter baskets. And they practically went gaga over reusable baggies.

There are a lot of variables to consider when participating in a craft show, including advertising, weather, booth placement, presentation, and atmosphere. A client following isn't bad to have, either.

I did talk to a couple vendors who were not pleased with the results. But they both had higher-priced items that decidedly fall into the "want" category: paintings and jewelry.

People may not be opening purses for the big items, but at least they are opening their purses.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Art Studio Clearance Sale

On January 30 and 31, Sew Darn Simple will be at the Ohio Designer Craftsmen Art Studio Clearance Sale at the Lausche Building at the Ohio Expo Center (717 E. 17th Ave.). We have booth 114, which is five spaces right of the Info Center at the main entrance. The hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday and 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday.

Admission is $6 (good for both days) and parking is $5. Those 12 and under get in free.

Sew Darn Simple is joining 150 other vendors from across the country, all selling merchandise at reduced prices. Just like at Kmart, blue-light specials will be announced throughout the show.

For more information, visit Ohio Designer Craftsman at

Friday, January 15, 2010

Making a flat handle for a purse

In a previous post, we discussed how to make a fabric strap for small purses and wristlets. This week, we are looking at how to construct a flat-handled strap that is reinforced with polypropylene webbing.
  1. Cut your fabric 3" wide, at your desired purse-strap length. Be sure to leave room for stitching the strap into the seam.

  2. Fold the fabric in half, inside out.

  3. Stitch a 3/8" seam along the open side. (Note: a 1/2" won't give you much wiggle room.)

  4. Use a turning tool (pictured) to turn the fabric outside in.

  5. Press the fabric so the seam is on one side.

  6. Put a safety pin through your length of polyproplene (so you can pull it through the fabric).

  7. Feed the polyproplene through the fabric.

  8. Stitch a 1/4" seam along both sides of the fabric.

  9. Attach the strap to the purse body. (Hint: it is easier if you attach the straps into seams, otherwise you have to finish the ends.)

Friday, January 8, 2010

Purse straps

By definition, "strapping" refers to something large and robust. When it comes to strapping purses, however, straps come in all sizes (and materials for that matter). Although purse straps can be made of acrylic, lucite, plastic, bamboo, wood, yarn, ribbon, and many other materials, I typically limit my purse straps to four categories:

  • Strapless (also called a clutch purse)

  • Round-handled fabric (reinforced with piping filler cord)

  • Flat-handled fabric (reinforced with polypropylene webbing)

  • Folded fabric (for wristlets and adjustable straps)

Folded fabric straps are typically reserved for my smaller, lighter purses, including my mini pack purses, small zip top purses, and wristlets.

To make folded fabric straps:

  1. Cut a two-inch strip of fabric to desired length.
  2. Fold the fabric in half (widthwise).
  3. Iron the folded fabric (thus creating a crease).
  4. Fold the raw edges of the fabric to the crease.
  5. Iron the now one-inch wide fabric again, creating a total of three creases.
  6. Fold the fabric in half again, making it half of an inch.
  7. Iron.
  8. Stitch both sides of the strap, along its entire length.

Monday, January 4, 2010

From window to closet

Unless I'm making a custom order, I choose a fabric that suits my fancy and convert it into something useful, such as:

  • a tissue cover

  • a resusable baggie

  • a mini wallet

  • a cell phone case

  • a glasses case

  • a backpack

  • a purse.

Then, I place like items together in metal baskets made for metal gridwall. That way, I'm organized and I have less work to do to prepare for a show (such as the upcoming Art Studio Clearance Sale at the Ohio Expo Center January 30 and 31).

My metal grid used to lean against a bookcase near the window, but I noticed one day that the sun was creeping through the blinds and fading the tops of some of my glasses cases. So, the gridwall now rests on the back of my closet door, on the other side of the room.

Raw materials and finished products now have to share the same dark space. More customers would give them a "coming out" party.