Monday, July 28, 2014

Making Improv Blocks with Leaders and Enders - BOM's Away!

A bit of clean up was required in my sewing room over the weekend. It began as an attempt to prioritize my projects, however I was side-tracked a bit by all the 'scrappies' I keep near my machine. Groups are within reach so I can easily join two pieces when I am chain-piecing and want to avoid breaking thread.

I find if I just piece a few things without thinking about it, eventually one of them will inspire me. This block was completed early this year when I made matching Jewelry Rolls for myself and my BFF...
That first block inspired me to separate Lavender, Green, Gray, and Aqua/Turquoise scraps of all shapes and sizes. This is how the bin currently looks....
YTD, I have six blocks from this group. I photographed them and played with PicMonkey yesterday.
Collages are a great way to visualize setting colors! A darker gray, or black, would probably look better with this first collage.

I do like them with Kelly Green though, one of my all-time favorite colors...

Perhaps I will go with Teal when the time comes...

I may still add to some of these blocks since they really vary in size.
More likely, I will design similar settings that bring them together.
Each one has some sort of memory from a prior project -
perhaps I will name it 'The Memory Keeper'.

Thank you for reading - hope you have a great week!

Linking up with Jen at Building Blocks Tuesday!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

SEW-VIVOR Audition - Red Letter Quilts - Bring it On!

This is Do or Die.

We're talking 'All or Nothing'.

You heard it, I am AWL IN!


I am a Sew-vival Desperado!

My goal?  Round Four or BUST!

I have No Fear! I take No Prisoners!

My Creative Mojo is SET TO IMPRESS!

Audition time is NOW for Season3:SEW-VIVOR, hosted by Family Ever After. This year the quilt blogging community is ALL-A-BUZZ with the exciting news:
 Season 3 is The Quilter's Edition!  WOO-HOO!
Did I mention that I am willing to take a risk?
Already I am out on a limb! I am entering an Art Quilt of all things - my first one at that!
Now, I am a quilter through-and-through, and I love a challenge. SO, I decided to kick-start this party and get my motor revved!  From the get-go, I aim to go outside my comfort zone..
I began by tracing some old sketches from my journal, then enlarging them on the photo-copier.
Next, I grabbed some linen and made a sample-sandwich to try my hand at thread-painting. I found some YLI variegated thread in my 'leftover' stash. (yes, I have a 'scrap thread' department!)
With the corner of a ruler, I 'scored' just the main lines of the design, right through the paper, onto the linen. Then Mr. Juki and I got right down to stitching with a vengeance.
So much easier than I anticipated, I felt like shouting, "WHY have I never done this before?"
(Or, "Rach, Where have you been all my life?")
Truly motivated, I set to work cutting the various fabric pieces.
I pressed them on for raw-edge applique...
Stitch more.
Breathe easier.
Keep stitching...

This was a really exciting make!

Perle cotton No. 5 seemed appropriate for a simple border.
Regular DMC floss to add the eyes and the orange flowers.
To finish, I wrapped the linen to the back for a simple, hand-stitched 'binding'.
I wrapped the backing fabric (Amy Butler) to the front to finish the top.

Three MOD Birds, 20" x 12"

The tabs are simple tubes top-stitched to match the 'frame', and the striped-tiger-stick was found by my husband in our yard. (shh - it is from a big bush-weed!)

My work is complete and I can rest...  *sigh*
Hard though, since my brain is on anticipation-overdrive. I cannot help but consider some NAUTICAL possibilities for Round ONE! 
A note for my faithful followers, for whom I appreciate SEW MUCH:
If I am so fortunate as to be selected for this competition, I will need your help! I cannot count on me, myself, or I alone! I will need support! I hope to astound you with creative-awesomeness and thus, compel you to participate in the voting process at Family Ever After!
16 competitors will be selected by judges and their names announced on Mon., July 28th!

Friday, July 18, 2014


Baby Bubble Wrap!

 The big-stitching and binding is complete!
It is so nice to have achieved my July goal for ALYOF!   (linkup #24)
Time now to link up with the July Finishes Party at Sew BitterSweet Designs!
The pool seemed like a great place to shoot this one, and that is all the excuse I needed yesterday..
POCHO, Double-gauze cotton fabric Designed by Naomi Ito and Nani IRO
A few first's:
First time for a whole-cloth quilt (only 37" x 28" but it is a whole quilt!)
First time hand-quilting a complete quilt (ditto!) (Prevencia No. 8 thread)
First time using double-gauze. This fabric is so soft, and will be even softer each time it is washed.
First time wrapping binding from the front of fabric! Big-stitched binding keeps the 'organic' vibe...
Generally, I avoid marking quilting lines like the plague, but I used a blue water soluble here. I think it is Dritz. Twice I dabbed a wet cloth to remove the blue, but it still has some. I did not want to wash this as I think it is so nice to receive quilts when they really look crisp and new. I will try dabbing one more time...

Another aquatic shot..

And full-on...
Thank you for reading today! I am celebrating with other Friday-Finishes at:

TGIFF, hosted this week at Dizzy Quilts , and also with..

Can I get a Whoop Whoop?, at Confessions of a Fabric Addict - (Sarah has added a third quilt to her raffle, and it is simply stunning!)

Have a great weekend, I hope you get a swim in !!

Monday, July 14, 2014

The Challenge is SMALL

Time to reveal my finish for the monthly Le Challenge!
The challenge theme for July is 'small', to be interpreted however we wish. At the last minute, I changed my plans and decided to whip up some Giving Bunnies.
They may have big hearts, but they are small after all!

You may have seen these 'Giving Bunnies' posted in Blogland. I learnt of them a couple weeks ago when Julie (627handworks) posted about her glove-box bunnies. Hundreds of bunnies have been made - they are part of a world-wide, collaborative project launched by Naimh, at Urban Threads. All the info you need is it at Urban Threads, including the pattern and an interactive map showing all the locations these bunnies have been placed! 
So cute, and the fun part is yet to come! I plan to place these around town in the next couple weeks. One is destined for a locker at the swimming pool I frequent, and one will accompany me on my weekly trip to the library...
Max, the pirate (idea ripped from Julie!) seems destined for The Vegas Strip. Fortunately we have family staying next week, so maybe we will head that way. Or perhaps the Pinball Museum...

I was surprised to see that none had been 'planted' in Southern Nevada. Once I have them strategically placed, I will enter them on the interactive map!

For those who may be wondering where the (3-bird) art quilt is that I said I was posting for this challenge, the reveal has been postponed! I am considering posting it as my entry for Sew-vivor. I think it meets the creativity aspect needed, however it is lacking the talent I hold most dear:  Patchwork! Now I am debating what project to share for the audition. Although I do love the birds, it is my first art quilt and I am not sure it represents me well in terms of the competition. Hmm..
Thank you so much for reading today! 
Check out the other 'small' projects shared by July participants!
Better yet, link up your own 'small' project :-)
Le Challenge

Monday, July 7, 2014

Red, White, & Blue Weekend Blocks

'On the Plus Side' is the first of two blocks I finished this weekend. I have already linked it with the Aurifil Block of the Month Flickr group. Designed by Camille Roskelley, she posted her original block, a tutorial to make it, and plenty of great eye candy too. (including her new line Miss Kate :-)

I have been adding miscellaneous blocks to the Aurifil monthly ones, and this week I made a 'Converging Corners' block. Inspired by Jenn at A Quarter Inch From the Edge - she chose it as her Global Scap Bee block. Jenn's version is in the same colorway and seemed meant to be! Following her link, I found the tutorial, by Ashley at Film in the Fridge.  A new blog to me, I really enjoyed my visit, spent a lot of time there and signed up to follow right away! My version is not quite as scrappy, but I like it a lot. I added the little apple on a whim this morning..

On with Monday! Shopping is an absolute must today - the cupboards and fridge are about bare. I do tend to put this off just as long as possible! Thankfully, my husband is patient about it - I was very creative with meals this weekend!

Linking up with BOM's Away!, a Monday Block linkup with Lynn at What a Hoot :-)

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Red, White, and Blue Gingham

Patriotism quilty-style, in honor of Independence Day ! 


May you & yours

enjoy a safe & sane Fourth of July.

 Celebrating those who give,

and those who have given,

for the Liberty and Justice of all.


Have a wonderful weekend!!


Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Tips for Selling and Shopping on Etsy

Are you considering selling fabric or hand made items online?
Do you shop online for fabric and quilting supplies?
This (somewhat lengthy) post includes 8 subjects that benefit both seller's and buyer's!

How I might best approach this subject has been stewing in my head for some time. I've been hesitant because I actually try to avoid blogging about sales. My goal in blogging is not to advertise/increase sales, although blogging has led to a couple fabric sales for me that I know of, and I was thrilled both times. I keep links on my sidebar, and occasionally mention something new regarding the shop(s), however I make a point of limiting Etsy-related ramblings because, quite frankly, I do not want to annoy any followers! That said, if you shop Etsy, knowledge is power! I appreciate your time reading and any tips you can share here as well. I took a few notes this week, with two goals in mind: Keep this as short and informative as possible! 

A bit of background first: I began my first Etsy shop in October of 2012. After one year, I opened another shop in order to separate supplies from hand-made items. My shop seemed cluttered and it occurred to me that customer's shopping for supplies were not likely to be interested in items that I have made. Different  customer's led to different shops! Between the two shops, I am nearing 350 total sales. Not breaking any records here, but the sales have been worthwhile. Selling on Etsy is a hobby I enjoy, and here is what I have learned thus far:
1. Seller fees: Etsy charges .20 cents to list each item for four months. If multiple quantities are available, the seller is charged .20 for each quantity purchased. When there is a sale, an additional 3.5% fee is charged by Etsy. Unlike ebay, Etsy does not include shipping fees collected when calculating their final value fees. Paypal has an additional fee. Not all Etsy shops accept credit cards because an additional fee is charged that varies by country - a minimum of 3% fee is charged and some countries have a flat-fee in addition to that. This is one reason that many Etsy shops prefer to make custom listings when selling internationally. Countries such as Denmark, Sweden, and Norway charge $2.50 + 4% when a purchase is made via credit card.
2. Etsy shipping fees: It is a bit difficult to offer accurate shipping fees on Etsy, especially for multiple items, and for international shipping as well. Seller's are able to list a flat fee for an item, as well as a lower price for 'multiple items purchased'. This works really well in some instances, and not-so-much in others... which brings me to #3

3. Getting the best deal on Etsy: It is OK to negotiate! Most seller's appreciate if you 'convo' them! Actually, this may not always be true, but it doesn't hurt and you will know by the response you receive. Some stores are obviously licensed fabric reps and less inclined to negotiate of course. Many shop owners are like myself though. Personally, I enjoy working with a customer and will often cut specific amounts, bundle certain items, custom-create a home made item, and best of all, I will accurately quote the lowest shipping option and 'save' the listing as a custom order until the purchase is completed by the buyer. Sometimes I will accept a lower offer as well, especially for yardage. All of this does take some extra time, and can be a bit frustrating for a seller because the buyer sometimes mysteriously disappears! I recommend showing great appreciation when a buyer does take the time to notify you when they have changed their mind!

4. Sell quality products on Etsy! This is so important! It withholds the high-quality image and integrity of all Etsy shops! I put my heart and soul into preparing and describing items as accurately as possible! Disclose to the buyer whether the fabric has been washed or pressed. Avoid storing fabric in plastic as the fabric will smell, especially in humid locations! It is best to avoid selling anything on Etsy that has any odor at all. If it is truly special, vintage, rare, or whatever, disclose any imperfections :-) Everyone knows, I think, the value of great photos, but I will add that the lighting is so important to portraying true color. Especially true of greens and purples I find! If you do not have photo editing software, use an online source such as PicMonkey.
5. Pricing your items: Before listing, take time to comparison shop for similar items. Price fabric according to the going rate and current availability. I think it is important to avoid grossly undercutting the same product available at other stores. When selling online, I find patience is required, sometimes re-listing is necessary before the right buyer comes along. If you find it necessary to undercut the competition in order to move something, a sale price is a nice way to do it. New listings run at the top of the search engines. If an item has been listed without attention for a long period, consider paying for additional ad service (available on Etsy). Minimally, check the listing and attempt to improve wording and search words by editing it. I have no way to know if this is true, but sometimes I swear just making a simple edit puts my item on the top of the search engines again. (anyone else noticed this?)
6. Packaging/Shipping: Once a payment is made, package and ship ASAP. We all know what it is like to wait for a fabric purchase! I think Etsy customers' expect a tidy package too, and I don't think I am the only one who enjoys receiving a little bonus surprise of some sort. Etsy is all about creativity! It really pays to get familiar with the packaging options available from USPS. Just last week, Etsy teamed up with USPS and has increased the weight limit for First Class Shipping to 16 Ounces for any sale through Etsy! Quilting fabric averages 4oz per yard - that allows a seller to offer really reasonable rates! Priority mailers supplied by USPS are available at the post, but other legal-size and bubble mailers are available (free) online.
Again, tidiness says a lot. I have received packages that are torn and mangled. Therefore, when packing, I choose to package fabric in clean plastic before packaging, and I use tape on all mailer-edges. Perhaps I sacrifice a sale here or there, but I personally refuse to stuff  9+ yards in a flat rate envelope. It may be insured, but what a shame to have fabric damaged when it can be avoided, and also so disappointing for the buyer to receive!
7. Returns: As a seller, I appreciate honesty from a customer. Small failures lead to big successes, but not if we are not aware of them. I think it is best to offer returns without question, however that is up to each seller. A clear return policy should be stated under shop policies. Review's are highly visible on a storefront - I think most shop owner's appreciate the opportunity to rectify a problem prior to receiving a poor review. Contact the seller promptly when there is a discrepancy. 
8. Shop Review: This is the subject most dear to my heart, and thus saved for last. I find it hard to obtain a shop review on Etsy, yet the number is more prominently displayed on a storefront than the actual number of sales, which is a bit more hidden. I have noticed most shops do have a low percentage/ratio of 'feedback' to their number of sales. It seems perhaps 1 in 5 customer's take the time for a review. I have tried quite a few things to increase this without much improvement. Quite often I receive an email thanking me for the great purchase. I have contacted customer support about ways to improve this. A dozen times or so customer's have asked me how to leave a review:
'Hover' your mouse on the upper-right of the screen, over 'your account' and click 'purchases and reviews' on the scroll-down menu. I do not currently have a purchase there to check this out with, but I think there is a way to leave this anonymously. (can anyone confirm this?)
Because reviews are so hard to obtain, I always email and thank the customer for taking the time when I receive each one.

Ironic Note: If this post has led you to check out my shop today, it is likely you noticed the very poor review I received yesterday, while this post was still in draft. It is my first unhappy customer (as far as I know!). The review really took me by surprise since it is regarding a fabric sale from one month ago and there was no prior contact informing me there was a problem. I have offered a full refund. I'm doing my best to resolve this & trying to convince the buyer to remove the review. If it is still there, than I have not succeeded! I am hesitant when posting anything personal like this, but I really took this hard, and I figure if anyone can benefit from my experience, it is worth putting myself out there a bit!

I have added this page to my main webpage tab. I appreciate any additional tips and experiences you may want to add there!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

We're Talking July - Bring it on!

Time for three of my favorite link-ups!
Barbara encourages us to start new projects each and every month, without guilt or remorse. Her NewFO Linkup is certainly a party I can relate to! In June I pulled some double-gauze cotton from my stash and began my first hand-quilting effort. To ease the challenge, I chose to try big-stitch utility quilting.
The fabric is POCHO by Nano IRO and Naomi ITO. I'm keeping it simple, just randomly adding circles as I go. I am about half-way finished with a baby size quilt.  Here is the backside:

Finishing this is my official July goal for A Year of Love Lovely Finishes.

I am also working on a personal challenge this month, although it has been slow-going. I've had such interest in art quilting and never seem to actually branch out. There is always a project going on, and I just haven't done it. When I read that this month's Le Challenge theme is 'small', I immediately thought a small art quilt should be my challenge. The deadline is fast approaching, and I have been procrastinating, but it is still a goal I hope to achieve.

To conquer three birds with one stone (that is a hint!), I would also like to link up with Lily today for Fresh Sewing Day, so I made a simple collage to share with projects I worked on in June:-)

Thank you so much for reading today!
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