Repurposing: A Cosplay Journey

IMG_4023Hello, all! Been a long time, hasn’t it?

Like a lot of people who sew, I have a lovely collection of garments that just don’t work. Sometimes, as in the case of one full-length, forest green peasant dress that I unearthed a few weeks ago, they are the result of a baby seamstress first figuring out technique and design, and not thinking about – let’s say, long-term wearability.

This dress was made for a 4-H sewing competition as part of a cosplay Time Lord outfit. Before cosplay was cool.

It struck me that peasant-style tunic-dresses are in, so I made a plan to repurpose the long, mostly useless dress into something fun and functional for (mostly) everyday wearing.

 

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Here’s the sketch I drew to convey the idea I had for the alterations to my sisters: Trendy off-shoulder with shoulder straps, high waist, straight skirt, and a buckle to allow a cosplay option.
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First, I cut out about 15 inches between the waist and the skirt length that I wanted. This turned out to allow too much for the bodice, so I shortened that by a couple more inches.
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I cut the sleeves into a cap-sleeve length, and used the fabric from one to bias-cut the shoulder straps and buckle loop.
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A tuck here, a seam there, a generous application of elastic, and voila! The dress turned out very cute and wearable, just above knee-length and perfect for summertime. The buckle, by the way, came off of some old pair of sandals: Never throw away anything! (kidding)
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With the skirt buckled up, it takes on an elven, cosplay look. And looks amazingly like my original sketch! (love it when that happens)

Perhaps I will edit this post to include a photo of me modelling this – with the waist cincher!

I love repurposing one garment into something totally different! A red plaid Highlander skirt has become one of my favorite dresses; and my pretty, princess-y Easter dress this year used to be a hideous ’90’s affair of pleats and sailor collars. But I forgot to document the process!

I hope you are inspired to try some repurposing this week ūüėÄ

-Abigail

 

 

 

 

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Cogs & Gears: Craziness!

Sometimes, in the midst of all the insanity, you have to find a moment of rest.

That’s what we’re up to this week, and it’s definitely time!

 

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A few props from a recent item photo shoot. They looked so perfectly Autumnal that they deserved a picture of their own!

 

What with one thing and another, things have been really crazy around here – as evidenced by the fact that we keep forgetting to blog! It’s been something like this:

  • Finally found a way to increase visibility on Etsy – which is wonderful, except that it means spending a lot of time and attention.
  • The holiday shopping season is fast approaching, and there are so many ideas that we want to make and put out there on our Etsy shops!
  • The dryer isn’t drying, which makes laundry days slow. And then –
  • The washer developed homicidal mania (apparently), which makes laundry days impossible!
  • And the oven door won’t close.
  • And I stepped on a thorn! (Ok, that one’s a personal complaint!)
  • November’s coming, which means NaNoWriMo! and also:
  • Craft Fairs!

So – with all of this craziness happening and requiring urgent attention and lots of work – we’ve decided to take a week off from Etsy!

Counter-intuitive? Yes! But it’s a good time to step back and get a bit of perspective on where we’re going, which projects actually require our attention, and where our emphasis should be.

It should be interesting: No Etsy work, or talk, or shop work, is allowed. Instead, Hannah and Sarah and I will work on sewing some personal Autumn and Winter clothes, and focus on planning the novels we’re writing in November.

Sometimes, you need to step away from it all and take a break!

 

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Some of the very fall-like earrings that I have been feverishly listing!

 

(Of course, you can also use the coupon code “Halloween” for %15 off anything in my store, where I also have free shipping on Autumnal items. I’m really pleased with how my Autumn Ephemeral Earring line came out! Please feel free to take an inspiring look!)

And here is a slideshow of our recent excursions, for a bit of distance-recreation:

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-Abigail-

Heading into Winter

Running a shop, even if it is online, is good for me. It makes me plan for the future a little more.

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I decided to make a few items that are…. well, gift-able. The kind of thing it’s easy to get someone, because you know they’ll probably like it, but at the same time it’s not a huge phenomenon. Probably cheap. A little seasonal. Cute and different.

However, I have to admit, I actually had the Albuquerque Hot Air Balloon Fiesta in mind when I made my latest listings.

We went to the Balloon Fiesta a few years ago, and I remember distinctly that it was much colder than I expected. Early October doesn’t tend to be that cold in New Mexico. However, when you’re getting up before the sun is anywhere near rising, it’s quite chilly, and some nice hot chocolate is in order.

img_1675That’s exactly what I had in mind when I made a couple Winter Headbands – one pink plaid, pictured on the left, the other black.

Sometimes you want something that will warm you, but you don’t want to go all the way and wear a hat. I thought these would work perfectly. They’re flannel, so very nice and cozy.

I had an interesting time designing these. The pink one was supposed to have elastic in the back, but what with one thing and another – I chickened out. Hopefully next time. I thought adding a flower would complete it nicely. I think it has a nice rustic, lumberjack (except for girls) style.

img_1695The second Winter Headband I made was interesting to take pictures of. It’s very, very black!

This isn’t actually the first¬†time I’ve taken pictures of it. A lady on Etsy asked me to make a couple Seatbelt Covers¬†out of black flannel. I had enough left over of this wonderfully soft fabric to make something else. So, I managed to get a headband out of it.

It’s such a dramatic, simple color, I thought I should go for a very classy look, with white buttons sewn on one side. It should look really nice in a snowy setting!

img_1696This turned out to be¬†a strangely difficult project to finish. It was just one of those times you’re tired of working on something, no matter how interesting or simple it is (as these headbands ought to be)

However, I am super pleased with how these turned out. They have a lot of promise, and there are so many options, so hopefully I’ll be making more to put on my shop.

I also think these would work really well for the Balloon Fiesta! It’s really crazy there, so it’s kind of nice to have something that will fit snugly, but doesn’t get in the way.

Here is a link to my Pink Plaid Winter Headband on my Etsy shop…

And a link to my Black Winter Headband.

As for what you can expect on my Etsy shop in the next couple months… well, I’m still thinking about that, unfortunately.

I think I’m going to go on working on some gift-able things, including more headbands and fuzzy things.

As for actual Christmas items, I’m definitely still thinking about that. However, I would love to hear what you think I could do for Christmas! I invite you to leave your ideas in the comment section at the bottom of the page.

Thanks for stopping by and I look forward to hearing from you!

Sarah

 

Burlap and Autumn

I just realized I haven’t done a blog post about my latest listing! So, here I am to show you the first of my¬†Autumn¬†items.

IMG_1509¬†¬†I was just about to get some different Autumn fabric, which I wasn’t really sure about. Then I caught site of some interesting burlap, with Autumnal happiness written all over it:

Autumn, Harvest, Fall Time, Give Thanks” as well as leaves and sunflowers.

I decided there was no better time to explore the craze of burlap than fall-time.

I was pretty sure of what I wanted to make out of the burlap Рeither pillows, unusual wreaths, table runners, bags or even banners. I decided to go with pillows. I almost went with square accenting pillows, since the pattern is definitely square. Then I decided it would be fun and different to do round pillows.

IMG_1514So, I found some nice contrasting brown fabric and cut out three Autumnal pillows.

I have to admit,¬† I really like the way they turned out. They’re kind of elegant. (and, unfortunately, the photos don’t do them justice! I¬†just couldn’t quite get the angle right)

So, I pulled out a¬†little of our¬†fall d√©cor – scarecrows and some ribbon –¬†and¬†took some photos.¬†The pillows really seemed to pull it¬†together. It added a bit of proper, furniture-ish decoration, which apparently we lack.

This is only my first Autumnal item for my shop. I thought I’d have tons of golden leaves and fat pumpkins running around in various forms, but I’m not sure that will happen. However, coming up for my shop: a skirt, a possible front door banner thingy and an Autumnal looking bag!

For the time being, here is my Burlap Autumn Pillow!  I invite you to take a look.

Hope everyone has a great weekend!

Sarah

Friday Featured Thread: Social Media

I didn’t really expect to feature too many threads from the Etsy forums, but in this case I thought this thread ought to be featured. Although, right off, I should say you should just check out the thread for yourself.

The very nice Etsy people occasionally do Q&As on the forums, and this time it was all about using social media and all that confusing stuff. This time around I realized I could ask my own question, so I did, and got a wonderful answer. So, I’ll feature the answer Jessica, from Etsy, gave me, among a few others.

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Basically, I asked what would be the best way to attract attention on social media, and how to get people to look at your products.

I loved the answer she gave, and it has truly inspired me:

“…I would suggest thinking of your social media presence as an extension of how you view your brand. Social media is a great way to tell a broader story about your creative process: what inspires you? What makes your products unique? If you think of your social posts as telling a story about your work, you may find it easier to come up with posts (rather than just using social media to ‘sell’ your product)…”

The next question, and answer, I found very helpful was from Michelle, owner of the Etsy shop Trendy Hedgehog. She uses Instagram, but they have apparently made recent changes that make it harder for people to promote their business. I was interested in this question because Hannah uses Instagram, and I’ll be trying it soon too (really, I have set up an account!)

The answer Jessica gave was: “…Look at the posts you’ve done to see which ones have generated the most engagement (likes and comments) from your followers. You can use tools like Iconosquare to help determine your most popular posts. The more your followers engage with your posts, the more likely they are to be seen. By know what draws the most attention, you can do more of the same type.”

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The next question, from the owner of the Etsy shop StoneLush, was also related to Instagram. The question was if there was a place that could keep track of which hashtags work best for likes/followers. The answer was as follows:

“…You can research the popularity of hashtags on Instagram by going to the Explore tab, type the term in the search bar and selecting tags. You’ll see the number of posts associated with that hashtag under each result. You could try this for each category you use…”

Iconosquare was again mentioned, so I guess this is something I should check out.

I took a final look at the questions, and found one I have been wondering about. This one is from REupped (which I sadly could not find)

The question was whether or not discount promotions and coupons worked on Etsy for drawing business, and which social medias would allow coupons and giveaways. Here’s the answer:

“Many sellers have found success using coupons and giveaways to driver up traffic and sales in their shops. You can post about discounts and giveaways on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and other social channels, and there is no fee to do so. You may find this Seller Handbook helpful, it’s full of tips for boosting sales with coupon codes.

I found these questions I highlighted helpful, especially since social media isn’t really my strong point. So, I’m off to check out a few of the things mentioned here, as well as look at the thread again.

Again, if you’re selling online, like we are, I’d definitely suggest you take a look at this thread. It’s long and helpful, and totally awesome that the Etsy people – as I always refer to them – took their time to do this. There was a whole team of them helping out in the case!

I hope everyone has a great weekend! I’ll probably be back pretty soon to show my latest creation, soon to appear on my shop, or else talk about quinoa

Happy Friday!

Sarah

Medallions and Paisley Flowers!

I can’t believe it – I almost forgot!

I made a couple new listings recently! They’re different (again) since I’m still trying to figure out what works.

il_570xn-1020771522_pf0eI’ve been meaning to try seat belt covers, but for some reason never got around to doing it.

As I think I’ve mentioned before, I got a wonderful gift card for my birthday, and with it, among other things,¬†I got half a yard each of blue-green fabric and pink flowery fabric, both flannel.

I always imagined making the seat belt covers out of regular cotton. But my Mum very sensibly pointed out that something softer would feel nicer. So I took a look at the flannel fabric.

Fortunately, there are a lot of very fun, beautiful flannel fabrics. There’s a lot of variety, including puppy paws, which attracted my attention. For the time being,¬†I like the pretty medallions and flowers.

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These were really fun to make, and they’re very soft. I managed to get five out of the fabric I got, which seemed like a good amount for a test.

I can’t decide which one I like better, but I think I like them equally.

I love the pink and blue one, on the right, and it reminds me of a garden, or just something flowery.

The blue and green one I just think looks cool –¬†like a pool in hot summer or, as I mentioned in the description of it on my shop, it looks like a tropical beach. I actually looked up tropical beaches, just to be sure of the description, and the colors are surprisingly the same!

Here’s a link to my Blue and Green Medallion Seat Belt Covers. And a link to my Paisley and Flowery Seat Belt Cover. I invite you to take a look

So there we go, and I got it out before Saturday. Barely.

Hope everyone has a great weekend!

Sarah

 

 

 

Cogs & Gears: Play

I was going to name this post “All Work and No Play,” but on consideration decided that that might conjure images of a really crazy Jack Nicholson, which would be regrettable.

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Not this crazy Jack Nicholson (though – yikes!)

 

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This one! (Haven’t actually seen this movie, but you get the idea)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And anyway, I think I’d rather examine the idea of play all by itself.

It’s my Ladybug Week again! As Sarah was saying recently – a planned time to step away from all Etsy stuff before it totally overwhelms me, to step back and get some other stuff done, to relax and not worry about things like business: Sort of an every-seven-weeks vacation.

Now, I’ve always had trouble with the idea of play and recreation – an occupational hazard for someone whose work is what they love: I like crafting – but should I stop making stuff this week? I love writing¬†– but having just finished July’s CampNaNoWriMo with a lot of hardcore writing time, should I take the week off? What do I do instead?

I came up with a very depressing list of things To Do every day this week:

  • Yard work for 2 hours – weeding, digging, bug control, etc. – even if its 90 degrees outside.
  • Attack the mending pile.
  • Clean and declutter an increasingly chaotic house, for 2 hours.
  • Study really hard for 2 hours, to get back into regular schooling.

This excellent program is probably something I actually should do some week, to kick-start several projects that need doing. But, while it would be different work from Etsy-listing and novel-editing, it would be anything but relaxing and restful.

What makes this Ladybug Week harder is that, 1) I feel like I didn’t get that much Etsy-work done in the last few weeks, and 2) CampNaNo gave a lot of momentum to my writing that I don’t want to lose. However, 1) I did manage to establish a routine of listing a new item on my shop every day almost – and that’s quite the accomplishment, if you think about it! And, 2) I generally find writing very recreational.

I was telling my helpful sisters about all of this, and that helped me realize that I should make this time off into a restful thing and not fill it up with extra stressers and hard labor. I do need this, to put myself back together or keep from falling apart, to get some perspective, to refocus on where I’m going rather than floundering about,¬†and to¬†enjoy some random things!

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So, here’s an actual list of the fun things I want to do this week:

  • Put some music on my phone (which is smart! yay!)
  • Create some art, which I began last year. It’s time to bring it together!
  • Sew a purse for myself out of some very fun Parisian fabric (again, I’ve had this project hanging around for a while, and it’s a little daunting – so it’s the perfect time to take it on!)
  • Figure out and blog my goals for the month
  • And blog about what our theme this month will be (spoiler: it’s gonna be fun!)
  • Watch some “Daredevil” (probably while sewing)
  • Continue writing – this chapter is exciting!
  • Play some Taptiles and other games

There you go! It still looks busy – but it should be fun rather than arduous work!¬†Bonus: the New Mexican monsoon season has begun, so it looks like it’ll be gloriously stormy for the next few days.

What are your plans? Do you have any fun-and-frolicsome ideas that might spice up my relaxation?

-Abigail-