Sunday, June 2, 2013

New T-Shirt Pattern for Neo and Middie Blythe!

I finally did it! I published my own pattern. It's for a t-shirt for Neo and Middie Blythe dolls and is available on Etsy for Instand Download.

The pattern is 22 pages packed full of tutorials on working with knits, using stabilizer, 2 pattern sizes and 38 full color step-by-step photos to make sure that you end up with a great finished shirt.

I'm actually mentally exhausted. It takes so long to create and test a pattern, then to get it properly scanned in and redrawn in a professional looking format. Then there's still editing photos and creating the entire document.

It's all worth it though. I have created something I am super proud of and it's pretty kick butt. I just hope everyone likes it.

What should my next pattern be? Tell me in the comments!

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Friday, May 31, 2013

Shop Update

Hi everyone! I hope you're all ready for Friday.

I've been sewing like crazy lately, it seems. I am working on some custom projects for a couple of people and sneaking in items for the shop in between.

I've really been trying to experiment with different fabrics and styles. Today I spent the day working with faux leather or pleather, if you will. It's soft and has a nice texture but you definitely have to line it or else you're going to stain your dolls. I've heard some horror stories of people who didn't line or didn't put tights on their doll and the pants stained the legs badly.

I wanted to share with your some of the pleather dresses I just put up in the shop. I hope you like them.

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Take care!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Making Doll Clothes Tutorial - Sewing With Knits

OK! This is for everyone who asked for tips on sewing knits. These tips can also be applied to soft and slippery fabrics such as chiffons, light gauze cottons, satins, silks and really just about any fabric your machine wants to eat or doesn't want to feed right. If you are familiar with sewing knits for people, some of the things I do might make you freak out and say THAT'S NOT RIGHT! I know, and I'm sorry for that. I have learned to adapt some methods for doll clothes. Because their bodies don't bend and stretch and move like ours, you can adapt. I am also writing this for basic use. Meaning no special machine attachments like straight stitch plates, special presser feet or a walking foot. This is just for basic sewing.

WHAT ARE KNITS?

Knits are made by fabric being looped together rather than multiple threads being woven across one another like you find in broadcloth. It's the same as knit and purl used in hand knitting. Basic knit has a right and wrong size. The right side has a vertical rib and the wrong size is horizontal. Knits typically do not fray unless it is a loose knit like a sweater. This means you don't need fray check! The edges will sometimes roll. If your knit doesn't have nylon, polyester, spandex or another meltable synthetic in it then its okay to iron out that roll to make things easier. Also try to avoid stretching your knit as this will create the rolling.

Most knits are stretchy just from the process of the knitting. However, some have added or controlled stretch by introducing fibers such as spandex or by using different knitting techniques such as in double knits. Some various types of apparel knits are jersey, double knits, sweater, rib, fleece and swim suit/dance knits.

Jersey - Most common. T-shirts are considered jersey. Varied thickness. Basic stretch quality unless blended.
Double Knits - Heavier knits that don't cling and drape like jersey. A lot of women's office wear is double knit. Thick. Minimal controlled stretch.
Sweater - Knitted yarn fabric. Often made with wool. Thickness varies. Stretch can vary depending on yarn thickness and type used.
Rib - The most basic way to describe this is the white mens undershirts that look like tank tops. That's a ribbed knit. Typically thin. Very stretchy.
Fleece - Common. Sweatshirts. Can be fuzzy on one or both sides. Easy to work with. Varied thickness. Minimal stretch.
Swim Suit/Dance Knits - I often call these spandex but they're not. They do have high amount of spandex in them though. Or nylon. Or both. They retain their shape better when wet and can stretch back into shape. Imagine wearing a bathing suit made of a t-shirt. You might look cute but once you get wet you will look naked because it absorbs water, stretches and gets weighted down. Typically thin, Can be thicker such as workout clothing. There are very thin versions usually beinge and black used for lining. Controlled stretch.


WHY STABILIZER IS AWESOME?

Most of the time when your machine is acting up and eating fabric, it's not mechanical, it's the fabric or a stabilizer problem. I know some people have heard me say stabilizer a million times but may not realize what it is. Stabilizers are designed to support your fabric when it needs additional weight and grip to get through a sewing machine. You may not have realized that parts of your clothes were sewn with a stabilizer because a lot of the time it is removed. In some cases, like embroidery there may be a patch cut around the embroidery. You may have seen it then when you got shirt with a logo on it or something. The reason they left some of it there is because tearing to close to the stitches hurts the structural integrity of the embroidery.

Back to standard machine sewing though. There are 4 basic types of stabilizer. I say basic because there are actually dozens of types of stabilizer but we want to be concerned with something that is removable for sewing our doll clothes. The 4 basic types of removable stabilizers are tear-away, cut-away, heat-away and wash-away. That first part tells you how the stabilizer is removed. I recommend tear-away or cut-away. You can get stabilizers at any sewing store but I recommend using coffee filters for these small pieces that we sew on doll clothes. You can get a large pack of 100 or more for a couple of dollars. They easily tear away and also have a ton of other uses around your house if you want to google that. (One of the best is sifting wine to get out broken cork or glass pieces - and they are lint free when cleaning windows.) I'm just saying - coffee filters are life changing. And I don't even drink coffee.

If any of you have one my jumpers or a dress with a collar and wonder how I do those tiny stitches on the edges....it's stabilizer. The reason your machine tends to eat your fabric is because the presser foot is designed to push your fabric down with enough pressure that the feed dogs below can grab it and move it along. When your fabric doesn't reach far enough across that presser foot/feed dog area it leaves your fabric slack and loose. If you've ever sewn through a flat head pin, or your finger (it happens) or a button, or had a needle shatter into pieces and come shooting out at you from your machine, then you already know that the needle carries a lot of force behind it. If your fabric is slack because the presser foot/feed dogs can't do their job then that needle is going to slam down and shove that loose fabric right under the plate and into the shuttle area. Sometimes it's a few stitches or more before you realize it's happening and you end up with that crazy birds nest of thread and in some cases a nasty hole in your fabric.

Stabilizer works to combat this. For most fabrics, one layer of stabilizer on the bottom of your project is enough. For some fabrics like chiffons and silks, you might want to sandwich your fabric. I am sure that you all know that when sewing seams the right side of your project should always be on top. Which also makes it hard to see what is going on with your seam underneath. The stabilizer will take away that guess work because your seam is on top of it. You want to use a large piece of stabilizer. Give it a several inch cushion outside of your fabric to both the left and right of your needle. This will make the feed dogs rely entirely on moving your stabilizer and give it something to grab. It also protects delicate fabrics from micro snags caused by the feed dogs.

After you have sewn your seams, pull your threads through to to the wrong side of your project, tie them off and trim. You can now start tearing away your stabilizer. Go slow and don't pull harder than is necessary or tear to large of an area at a time. I like to work in tiny areas. Another option is that if you have a pair of tiny embroidery snips you can trim the stabilizer very close to the seam and the other side will just pull away. The drawback to this is that sometimes you will snip one of your stitches so be careful! Any other little bits can be pulled away with tweezers.

Its pretty important that you use stabilizer on knits. Why? Well knits stretch. A lot. And this makes your machine do bad things. The machine knows when you are cheating and doesn't hesitate to remind you of it by doing something awful and gross to your project. In my house that ends in swearing and if it's 3am, there might be tears. Sometimes me. Sometimes the machine. It makes this sad emoticon with a tear when I upset it. Do you always have to use stabilizer on knits? No. But you just said.....I know, I know. But if you have adjustable pressure capability on your machine for your presser foot and use are using a not so stretchy knit and are very familiar with how your machine acts when sewing knits, you can sometimes get away with it. I say this because sometimes I don't use stabilizer. You will get to know when you need it and when you don't. And sometimes you will think you don't and learn otherwise. It happens. Always run a test piece that's as long as your project through your machine to see how its going to act. I won't mention any names, but [i]Jessica[/i] sometimes skips this and I regret it miserably.

OTHER RECOMMEND TOOLS

Other things that are recommended when using knits - a ball point needle in your machine. They may also be called stretch needles. Ball point needles are better than sharps because they don't stab your fabric and they won't snag. They are designed to slide through the looped texture of knits. I am not going to lie, I don't use ball point needles very often. For most of my doll sewing I use a basic needle. I have never had a problem. You will have to test out your machine. If you feel that you are getting snags, put a new needle in and try again. You should change your needle often. If you still have problems, then you may need a ball point needle.

Do you need fray check? No, you shouldn't unless you are adding in another fabric that frays. Most knits won't fray at all. However, some knits, like sweater can and will unravel. How do you stop this? You need to sew a zig zag finishing stitch (like a serger) over the edge of your fabric BEFORE you start sewing your pieces together. It's best to do immediately after you cut your piece out so that it doesn't unravel while you are working with it.

Pins are helpful when sewing pieces of knits together. You can pin right onto the stabilizer. But the addition of pins will change your pressure. Sew slowly when you use pins. As you are sewing you will notice that while your fabric is fine on the bottom the presser foot is stretching your fabric. Every so many stitches stop and raise your presser foot, keep your needle down into your fabric. You are just doing this to relive the pressure and being up the slack. If you can program your machine turn on the auto raise setting so that when you stop sewing your needle remains down and your pressure foot raises on its own.

DO I NEED SPECIAL SETTINGS OR STITCHES ON MY MACHINE?

Not really. You should already be using a smaller stitch length when you sew doll clothes anyway. Your machine will guide you on what it likes. My machine is happy with a 1.6 straight stitch. If you are sewing two pieces together you can or may want to finish those edges together with a zig zag stitch. Just make sure you don't go beyond your straight stitch.

Do I need to use a zig zag stitch? You may want to use a zig zag stitch at the top of things like tights socks. This gives the stitches the opportunity to stretch with the fabric and will reduce popped stitches. You don't always need a zig zag stitch on every knit though. Sometimes a straight stitch is fine.

AM I READY TO SEW KNITS?

Do you have a coffee filter, some knit fabric and a sewing machine? Then yes! YOU CAN DO IT! It's easier than you think and really the big deal is stabilizer.

Questions? Ask them please!

POST LINKS YOUR PICS HERE! I WANT TO SEE WHAT YOU MAKE.

SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT! I'm working on my own patterns to add to my Etsy shop. The first pattern will be for t-shirts for Neo Blythe and Middie that don't need a closure. Keep an eye out, it should be posted in a few days!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Interview with Anne from AnneArchy

I'm really excited to introduce everyone to one of my sponsors this month. I'd like you all to meet Anne who is 1/2 of the super duo making items over at AnneArchy.

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Anne and Susan make cute knit items for Blythe as well as dresses, human sized items and fun goodies for you and your pets! Check out their Etsy ship AnneArchy or show them some love on Twitter and Facebook with a friendly Like and Follow!

I want you all to check out their logo too. Besides my own very awesome owl logo, this is one of the few logos that really amuses me. I love the play on words with "anarchy".

Hi Anne! It's awesome to have you here with us. Please introduce yourself to everyone.
Hi! I'm Anne, and with my sister Susan, I run the little etsy shop AnneArchy.

Tell us all about your shop!
My sister and I wanted to share the things we make with the world, so we started an etsy shop with handknit items and sparkly dog collars. Shortly after we got going, we both got into Blythe and started offering handknit and sewn clothing and accessories for Blythe. We also blog about our creations and the other Blythe-related activities we do.

Added note: You can find AnneArchy's Blog HERE.

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Why do you think people enjoy AnneArchy so much?
I hope and like to think that we provide handmade creations that others will love as much as we do! We have a pretty steady group of regular customers who have been very pleased with our work. We pride ourselves on attention to detail and quality construction, and I think that people can see the love we put into our handmade creations. We hope that the blog is just fun to read!

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How did you and Susan start your business?
We started our etsy shop in 2007, with just a few handknit hats and handmade hoodies for babies. As we are sisters, we have been crafting together for almost our whole lives!

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What's your process like for coming up with your adorable creations?
Susan and I both like to make up our own original patterns for our handmade items. For example, when I'm making up a knitting pattern for a Blythe sweater, I usually cast on what seems like a good number of stitches and then see what happens! My knitting experience doing human-size projects comes in handy - I know what a certain technique will look like, and how to do increases and decreases to make the garment take on the shape I'm looking for. I write down what I do as I do it, and then change the pattern based on how the finished item ended up. I usually revise a pattern anywhere up to a dozen times before I'm really pleased with it enough to call it finished.

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What sort of inspiration do you use to keep creating?
We are both inspired by Blythe, as well as by nature, our silly dogs, and the things that other artists and artisans create. I think we both feel compelled to make things, to have a tangible object that we've created that can be used and/or appreciated by someone when it's complete.

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I hope you all enjoyed meeting Anne and seeing some of her and Susan's super cute creations! Please check out their pages and their shop when you have a chance!

ANNEARCHY: ETSY | TWITTER | FACEBOOK | BLOG

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Birthday Giveaway!

Who loves birthdays? Me!! Today is my Birthday!!!

Who loves giveaways? YOU!!

I am currently hosting a giveaway on my Facebook page. It's only 24 hours on April 2, so hurry and enter.

What do you win? For my Blythe lovers you will win an outfit/dress. And for anyone else you will win one of my chevron wristlet sets!

WHAT?! That's crazy.

I know but it's my birthday and I can do what I want. Just kidding. I CAN have a giveaway though. So click HERE and enter!

Monday, March 4, 2013

I Made Shoes for Blythe

I spent a night working out the pattern and last night I put them together. They're like mini Toms. I need to change some things to the pattern and try some more samples but I think they're really cute. I made two pair in different sizes for Tangkou and Blythe/23cm Obitsu since those are the feet I have on hand. The uppers are cotton and the sole is a thin craft foam. Shoes take a ton of glue, especially when you get to shaping the toe area. They are still drying so where you see white in the pics near the soles is the glue. It will dry clear and tomorrow I will clean away any excess lumps with an xacto.

You should be able to click on the pics for a larger view on my Flickr page.

Please let me know what you think!

Here you can see all of the pattern pieces and I am starting to glue on the fabric for the foot beds.

Making Shoes for Blythe

Foot beds are done. Covering the 2 part toe caps and the heel/sides and letting them dry and shape a little.

Making Shoes for Blythe

Front of the shoes are done.

Making Shoes for Blythe

Ready for assembly.

Making Shoes for Blythe

Glue and shape. Glue and shape.

Making Shoes for Blythe

All assembled and gooey before the bands went on to hold the soles to the actual uppers. Those gaps in the front won't be there once they dry.

Making Shoes for Blythe

Better view.

Making Shoes for Blythe

More views.

Making Shoes for Blythe

Making Shoes for Blythe

Making Shoes for Blythe

Tangkou sized pair. Still a little big.

Making Shoes for Blythe

Making Shoes for Blythe

Blythe sized pair. She might need socks. I honestly don't think I can make these any smaller.

Making Shoes for Blythe

Making Shoes for Blythe

Tangkou in the Blythe sized pair. They actually fit pretty perfect.

Making shoes

Friday, March 1, 2013

Interview at BlytheLife.com

I have some big news! I was chosen as one of the people to be showcased for the 2013 March Talent Showcase from BlytheLife.com!

It's a big honor and I am so excited to be part of it.

AND there's a giveaway for a dress from one of my new patterns. So make sure you check it out! You can read about it HERE!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Product Review: Mon-Stors From Lu and Ed

Do you all remember Cody from this post? Of course you do! Are you still curious about these Mon-Stors that you heard so much about? I am about to give you some information that might make you wish you owned one or five.

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In the short breakdown, Mon-Stors are fun options for storage. Boom. I could totally stop there. But I won't. I'm going to tell you more.

Several months ago I got a random tweet from this Cody person telling me about a great alternative to Etsy called Storenvy. And from there we struck up an online friendship which obviously lead me to her shop at Storenvy called Lu and Ed. The first thing that hits you is a super cute little cartoon Mon-Stor that looks just like that little yellow guy in that banner. See right up there? If that's not cute enough imagine that you can actually own something that looks just as adorable.

Interesting side note - that artwork was created from an actual Mon-Stor that was sold in the shop.
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I thought they were really adorable and needed to own some so I ordered two special custom Mon-Stors with special fabric lining. These two guys are now in the Navy and go to the ship with my husband.I personally own two myself and you'll see those in a minute.

Ordering from the Lu and Ed site is an entire experience all it's own. Each Mon-Stor is adorably photographed, named and has a story. The names are pretty original and their stories are hilarious. From your basic ones that love to eat legos and socks to some who's favorite foods are anchovies and ketchup. Ew. From what I know, Cody's super imaginative son helps her with these personas.

Your Mon-Stor will ship pretty quickly. Lu and Ed doesn't list anything as a made-to-order or pre-order so what you see is what you get. And the Mon-Stors are all one-of-a-kind.

From the site you will also learn that Mon-Stors are eco-friendly. How so? Well they are made from upcycled fabrics that have been repurposed from thrift store finds or from fabric swaps that she does with other people. You will also learn that Mon-Stors come in two sizes. There are Big Mon-Stors and Little Mon-Stors.

When they arrived my first thought was, "This is way smaller than I thought it was going to be." But that was because Cody has this adorable method of folding up the Mon-Stors so that they take up as little space as possible. This enables her to re-use the chipboard packaging from boxes of things like Pop-Tarts and TV dinners. She deconstructs the box and flips it inside out so that the brown part of the box is now the outside. So don't be surprised when you see it. Smile and appreciate how someone is doing their part to recycle.

As I opened the box I just see eyes staring up at me. You pretty much have a 50/50 shot of getting this view depending on which end of the box you open. And I take out this lump of fabric. Honestly, that's how it feels when you get it out of the box. It's just compacted that well. And as you start unfolding it out pops solid pairs of arms and legs. It's really like the Mon-Stor is stretching and ready to get down and get to work.

I remember being very impressed with the quality and construction of them. The outside is typically made of fleece. I'm not sure if she's ever used any other material but I have only ever received fleece for the bodies. It's sturdy. And to give it even more creativity as well as stability and durability, it's lined in some fun fabric that helps add to it's personality. They are also affixed with some combination of eyes and fuzzy hair.

The size difference from the big Mon-Stor and the little one are pretty significant. But don't let that diminish you from getting a little one. They're pretty huge all on their own, which should tell you just how enormous a big Mon-Stor is going to be. Big Mon-Stors are approximately 2' tall and 18" wide. Yes, TWO FEET TALL. It looks like an oversized pillowcase with arms and legs. The little guys measure in at around 18" tall and 10" wide. A big Mon-Stor can hold an entire load of laundry or a heck of a lot of toys. In my case, lots of fabric. And the small guy is no slouch and gobbles up more than his share of scraps and miscellaneous pieces to keep handy.

A big Mon-Stor comes with a hole on top of the head. All you do is insert any standard hanger into its head and viola! They hang anywhere you want to put it! I prefer the back of the door but for kids it would work on a doorknob.

This lady was made to match the new color scheme of gray and yellow in my studio.
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The little guys come with a pre-attached strap. You can basically hang this one anywhere that can take a loop of fabric. The strap is even big enough that you can use it in your car on the back of seat as storage for cars and toys for drives around town or for garbage to keep everything neat and tidy. The strap will fit right around your headrest.

Boom! Pow! It's a super hero! Sometimes there are theme Mon-Stors like pirates and mermaids.
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I haven't yet tried to put on in the wash, but based on the feel of their construction and the materials used I think it will wash up just fine in cold water and a low tumble dry.

If you are looking for a creative and cute storage idea I would (and do) definitely recommend the Mon-Stors from Lu and Ed. It's a creative product, with multiple size and color options, good durability and eco-friendly. I don't really know what more you would want from a product. Oh wait! I do. They are also affordable. A big Mon-Stor is going to run between $25-$28 while a little one will be between $16-$18. And while you're there check out the stuffed Monsters as an added bonus.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Shop Pretty: Keepsakes By Katherine

I know some of your are planning weddings or helping someone plan weddings. How do I know? Pinterest tells me.

Hopefully you all remember Katherine from her super interview: here. Well guess what? She's even more awesome than blogging, book reviewing and recipe writing. She also has shops. One of them is Keepsakes By Katherine. As a special occasion boutique she specializes in affordable gifts and accessories. And these days we are all on a budget so getting something beautiful at a great price is just smart.

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Hi Katherine! For anyone who may not have seen you other interview please introduce yourself.
Hello, my name is Katherine and I am the artist and designer at Keepsakes By Katherine. I am happily married to the true keeper of my heart. I am a proud grandmother of five beautiful children. I give an endless supply of unconditional love to my family and friends. I blog at Katherines Corner.

Tell us a little about the beautiful pieces at your shop.
Keepsakes By Katherine has been referred to as the brides good luck charm. I believe that every day is a special occasion. I create for your wedding, your home and your style.

How do you feel that your shop, over others, is a benefit to your customers?
Creating for others brings me joy and every order is treated as if it is the most important one. I keep the buyers budget in mind when creating and provide a stress free purchase.
I have been creating and selling things for over 30 years.

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What do you think are your biggest inspirations for your keepsakes?
When I make something for my shop I think of it as if I were creating a gift for a friend.

Happy customers are my greatest inspiration.
Anything else for the readers?Please use coupon code rainbow for a discount in my shop.

Beautiful items and a discount! I urge you all to check out Keepsakes By Katherine today and find those perfect items for your next special occasion or a gift for someone!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Read Something Great Today: Meet Katherine From Katherine's Corner

One of the great things about the blogging community is that you get to meet some really awesome people. And you get to share in their lives because they blog about everything from crafts, recipes, decorating to reviews on books, music, movies and things on their everyday life. They include pictures. Sometimes of random everyday things and sometimes of what can be considered a pretty intimate look into their lives. There are some blogs where I've seen the writer's children literally grow up from babies and toddlers into beautiful children and teenagers. Some bloggers share their sadness and pain when something tragic happens in their life. And some always keep it up beat. You can always find a mix of reads that will give you the feels or take your mind off of your own crazy world for a while.

I'd like you all to meet one of my February blog sponsors Katherine from Katherine's Corner.

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Katherine writes about a lot. She runs the range of everything on her blog from some yummy recipes like my favorite dessert, carrot cake, many book reviews, to just what is going on with her. It's a great blog and I really enjoy reading it. And unlike some of us....ahem, me....she usually has some sort of update for you almost daily.

So to introduce you to a little more of Katherine's world and how her brain ticks...here's a great interview.

Hi Katherine! Tell us a little about you.
Hello, I’m Katherine (some call me Katie). I was born in England on Nov 1st 1960 and I have been living in the US on and off for 32 years. I currently live in a state where I can see the beautiful mountains from my kitchen window and a lake from my upstairs bedroom window. I am happily married to a wonderful man, we have five beautiful grandchildren. We also have a sweet fur baby named Izzy he is a wonderful part of our family and we are happy pet parents. I hold a rare dual citizenship with the UK and the USA and I am a proud citizen of both. I am an open minded and spiritual person who strives to always maintain a positive attitude and greet each new day with grace, dignity and gratitude. I am a self-employed artist and designer.

So what goes on over at Katherine's Corner?
At Katherines Corner I share recipes, photography, life stories and much more. You can join in the fun at the Thursday Favorite Things blog hop and participate in the monthly giveaways too. I welcome your friendship.

I love my bloggy friends. I hope that Katherines Corner brings a sincere feeling of friendship.

What made you start blogging?
I was inspired to start blogging after I received a rejection letter from a publisher.

It was a nice rejection though, not your standard fill in the blank with the authors name ( I have a few of those too) It read something like this-, “ loved your writing, the photographs are beautiful, but…we are not taking on any unknown authors at this time.”

So Katherines Corner (originally known as Go Ask Katie) was born.I have been blogging for almost three years. Each year is better than the one before.

It's great that you were able to take the rejection letter and work from it and start something positive. How does the creative process of writing work for you?
My blogging style is comfortable, like sharing with a friend. I think it feels natural to want to share what you know and learn.

What is your inspiration to keep writing everyday?
I find joy in sharing with others.

Anything else you'd like to say to the reader?
Thank you for the opportunity to share with your readers!

I hope you will all take the time to pop on over to Katherine's Corner and check out her blog, leave a comment or make one of her yummy dessert recipes. Anyone is welcome to bring the blueberry tarts to my house.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Meet Cute: Cody From Lu & Ed Talks Mon-Stors

I know what you're thinking. What's a Mon-Stor and who's Cody? Well, I'll tell you. Cody is the creator of the most adorable storage solution ever, the Mon-Stor. I'll get into more of the epic awesomeness of Mon-Stors later but for now here's all about Cody in her own words. In the meantime, if you want to check out her shop you can click here: Lu & Ed

Hi Cody! Please introduce yourself to the readers.
I'm Cody! I'm a indie toy storage solution designer and plush maker. I am also a mom, animal rescuer, art business resource blogger, and coffee addict who rarely changes out of my pajamas.

I am sure a lot of us can relate to that. I live in yoga pants. Tell us about what you do.
I make Mon-stors! They are storage solutions for kids in the form of monsters that you 'feed' laundry, toys, books - anything you need extra storage for!

Mon-stors are ecofriendly creations - NO waste from my monsters goes into landfills. I use recycled fabrics from thrift stores to make Mon-stors, and the larger scraps to make smaller Mon-stors, and the smaller pieces from those to make stuffed monsters, and the tiny bits from them I either dice up and blend with polyfil for stuffing, or I stuff dog beds with them to donate to local animal rescues.

{I also use recycled packaging to ship in!}

I personally own several Mon-Stors around my house. (Keep an eye out for an upcoming review post!) How do you feel everyone can benefit from owning their own Mon-Stor?
Everyone needs more storage, and Mon-stors save space as they can be hung in the closet to hold winter scarves, hats, and mittens, or they can hang at the bottom of the steps to collect toys over the day then they can easily be toted upstairs at the end of the day. They are great for toy storage in playrooms, kids rooms, or nurseries, or they can be used to hold laundry in a small bathroom that doesn't have room for a hamper.

The smaller ones are great in cars to hold diapers and wipes, a change of clothes for kids, snacks, maps, DVDs, books, small toys for car rides, a blanket or a ton of other things to keep car clutter under control!  photo Mon-StorBanner_zps4339547b.jpg
I love the idea of hanging one at the bottom of the steps! How did you come up with such a cool idea for storage?
I started making them three years ago when I had first moved from South Carolina to Missouri to be with the love of my life. We were living in his mom's basement and space was tight to say the least. I looked for toy storage solutions for my son but given our small space, we didn't have much wall or floor space to spare. Then one night I was thinking and my artsy brain gave a leap and boom, there it was. This idea that I could make monsters to hang from a door my son could feed his toys to! Long story short, I drew up a pattern and made one, then another, and another. When I posted photos online they were an instant hit. I got so many requests for them that after some thought, I decided to drop my day job and make Mon-stors full time. Thus, Lu & Ed was born. I now offer different sized Mon-stors and also stuffed monsters!

It has to be hard to keep coming up with different designs. Tell us a little how your creative process works.
I am a really inspiration driven creative person - I just create. I don't really have a process for making Mon-stors, I just pair fabrics and when I get a kick of inspiration I kinda let my mind wander while I create. I rarely actually think about what I'm making, I just cut it out, and place face parts and hair, listen to music while I sew, and then boom, a Mon-stor is done and I'm usually really surprised and excited by it because even I don't have an idea what it will look like until it's finished!

Is there anything that inspires you while the Mon-Stors come to life?
My son. He is so funny and always has these crazy ideas. A lot of my monster descriptions are inspired by him and his crazy food combos, his love of video games, books and science and his over all just energetic and colorful personality!

I'm also really inspired by music. I can't really work without music, I get distracted easily without it. I turn up some jams and get lost in the music while I create!

Thanks you so much for taking the time to introduce yourself and your Mon-Stors!
Thank you so much for this wonderful interview! It was so fun! :)

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

ABCs of Me

I saw this on Chevrons & Anchors blog and thought it might be fun. I know it's a bit of a blog cliche but everyone loves these things.

A - Age: 36. I know, you're all shocked now.
B - Bed size: Queen. Sometimes I feel like we need a king. Especially when the dogs get up there.
C - Chore you hate: I could do without all of them.
D - Drink of choice: Iced tea. I'm pretty sure my blood is 50% caffeine.
E - Essential start to your day item: Hot tea. Once again, caffeine...
F - Favorite color: Green, orange and right now I am in love with yellow/gray combos.
G - Gold or Silver: Silver.
H - Height: 5'5"
I - Instruments you play(ed): Violin
J - Job: Seamstress of tiny dresses.
K - Kids: 3 fur babies. Molly, Henry and Lola.
L - Living arrangements: In a house with my husband.
M - Mom's name: Jacki
N - Nicknames: Jess, Jessi
O - Overnight hospital stay other than birth: One
P - Pet Peeve: Liars, backstabbers and people who try to Single White Female your life. It's a movie, it will make you never want to have friends again.
Q - Quote from a movie:? "No wire hangers!"
R - Right or left handed: Right.
S - Siblings: 1 brother (younger)
T - Time you wake up: Depends on when I go to sleep.
U - Underwear: Yes, please.
V - Vegetable you dislike: Onions.
W - What makes you run late: Time. It's a real pain.
X - X-rays you've had: Wrist, back, ankle, neck, skull, brain
Y - Yummy food you make: There are many. According to my husband he has to work out or else he'll weigh 500 pounds.
Z - Zoo favorite: Owls! Penguins!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Cody From Lu & Ed Talks About Brand Expansion

Brand Expansion

Hi guys! I am Cody, owner of luanded.com and creator of Mon-stors, which are eco-friendly toy storage solutions for kids in the form of monsters!

I am honored to be writing this guest post for Jessica. I chose to write this post on my experience with brand expansion and collaborations with other artists. I think as indie designers, we sometimes put ourselves in a bubble, and kind of shut others out of our creative processes. By popping that bubble and inviting other creative minds into your life you may just find a new muse, or even possibly put your heads together with other artists and come up with something entirely new and brilliant!

Last summer, my business got a total facelift by Megean of theindividuality.com. Megean turned a Mon-stor I had made into a vector image, and he became my mascot. She paired him with fun, bright lettering for my logo and thus, the new face of Lu & Ed was born!

Once I got my final copies of my complete branding package from Megean, I went nuts. I ordered business cards, address labels, magnets, mini business cards, a banner for craft shows, and stickers. I wanted to put my logo on all the things!

And in my quest to put my brand on everything possible, I started thinking about how else I could build my brand representation online and at shows. I wanted to be able to incorporate branding in other ways outside of printed materials and digital images. Insert Project Paint Everything. I have been steadily filling my studio with colorful display pieces for craft shows, all painted using the five colors from my logo! Pictured here is a shutter to hang Mon-stors from, and a shelf for plushes with a monster bunting!


How could I grow my brand online, though? I learned aside from digital images and site design, few people worry about developing their online brand beyond their logo. But I think your brand is about so much more than that. Your brand is an extension of you. It can be reflected in how you talk, how you write, how you photograph your products, how you describe your products, how you engage with others and the work you do within your community. Your brand isn't some two-dimensional thing. It's an entity that should constantly be growing and developing. And as I explored the possibilities of this, I realized I had a really unique opportunity - I could fulfill customer requests for products I don't create, and I could grow my brand at the same time!

In December, I introduced Team Lu & Ed to the public. It is like my brain child. It is an extension of my brand, and it is fueled by my passion to help handmade businesses grow! Essentially, it's like an endorsement program - I chose artists I positively love with great personalities that share my sense of community, whom I have purchased from, to collaborate with because I know their products rock and their service is top quality!

Each collaboration is slightly different, but all incorporate aspects of my branding, whether it's the Mon-stor mascot or just the colors from my logo. We combine that with their unique art forms to create limited edition merchandise that I have had customer requests for that I can't necessarily fill because I don't work in that medium, like purses or bows.


Together, both parties in the collaboration are able to reach a new audience and drive traffic through limited edition merchandise. It's been such a fun experience for me working with Sarah, Cari and Brittany so far! I love helping promote their shops and watching them grow, and I love being able to provide my customers with new product styles they have asked about!

In short, I would highly recommend collaborating with other artists as a way for indie businesses to grow their brand and make new connections, and I hope to see this mentality grow within the handmade community! We have so much to offer one another if we can just pop that bubble we put around our creative processes and start brain storming with other creatives!


And, if you made it all the way to here, I have a little bonus for readers of Jessica's blog! 

I am super excited to announce that Team Lu & Ed has banded together to bring you a totally epic giveaway! Check out the goods!


One small Mon-stor from Lu & Ed
One toddler sized backpack from Echoland


One Mollipops chunky necklace for kids from The Mollie Shop

One mini Valentine's Day sculpture from Little Green Guy (left)

Jessica has been kind enough to guest host this giveaway, so you can enter to win below! 
Good luck!

 You can earn multiple entries by Tweeting the giveaway daily, sharing the giveaway daily on Facebook, or by visiting the sponsors Storenvy shops and 'Envying' one great product a day! (Envying is Storenvy's form of 'liking' a product)
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Mean People Suck

I've been seeing a trend lately among other bloggers, social media users and commenters and frankly, it needs to stop. Maybe it's because it's winter and everyone is cranky without their vitamin D. I'd love to give these folks the benefit of the doubt here. But it seems that there is so much negativity going around right now and lashing out at others that it's become common place. Even if you aren't a kid, cyber bullying is still a real thing.

When I read comments about someone being attacked for something they posted. Their belief in a certain religion, a certain hobby, dieting. It just makes me sad. There is absolutely no reason to attack someone because your opinion differs from theirs. None. Period. It's not even a discussion, it's the way it is kids.

Recently I have read posts about someone being verbally berated for learning to love the body they are in, for people being bashed over their religious beliefs, for people being harassed over their healthy and non-self destructive hobbies and for people who try to help others but get swept up in the competitive world of blogging and owning an online shop. Is this really how someone wants to represent themselves to others? As a bully. As someone who likes to hide behind an anonymous post and spray hate all over someone else. That persons lifestyle does not affect your own. If you don't like what they have to say, you don't have to read them. It's commonsense.

They don't believe in your religion, live and let live and do unto others my friends. They can sort it out with whatever higher power they choose when their time comes.

They have a hobby you find strange? So what. Is it affecting your personally? No? Then stop it.

They have an online shop and work from home knitting, sewing or whatever? Stop telling them to go to work and find a real job. Stay at home moms work hard. Daycare is expensive and most people work JUST TO PAY FOR DAYCARE. Some people have medical problems you may not be aware of and they don't plaster all over the Internet. Some people have depression and anxiety issues.

The point is, you don't know. Keeping your opinion to yourself is usually the best course of action here. Especially if you are about to be insensitive, ignorant, judgmental, rude...you get it. It's like Mad Libs for mean kids. Insert your own negative action [here].

Stop bringing each other down and stop competing. It's life. It's not a race and riding your high horse all the way to finish line doesn't get you a prize at the end.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Sponsor Sew Do Something!

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Accepting ads for blogs, shops and whatever it is that you want linked back to! And for all new ads using code NEW will get you 50% off of your ad space. Super deal.

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Friday, January 25, 2013

Weekly Recap

This was a fairly light week as far as creating for me. I wish I could have done more but there was a lot of administrative and behind the scenes work going on this week. You know, all of the intangible time-sucking things that you have to do because you are a one person show.

Don't get me wrong. Some of this time suckers are fun. Like message boards and pics. And some of them are tedious and necessary like researching new postage rates, pricing supplies, registering for tax id numbers, setting up income and expense charts. You know, THAT stuff.

As a special note. Postage rates are increasing on January 27. Please keep that in mind when ordering from the shop. I have not yet increased my rates, so order while you can save some money. Especially all of you International folks! US rates are doubling for International shipping.




Molly wants to tell everyone to have a great weekend and stay warm! It's cold here in Chesapeake and there's actually snow to which she says: "I am not amused." So Molly will be snuggled up in blankets until this passes!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Things I Love Thursday - Dangle Bracelets

I've decided to start a new feature here on the blog showcasing items I love. And I am not talking about things I bought at Target. I am talking small online business handmade items. I have always loved Etsy and its array of amazing items that you don't see in big box stores. Things that weren't cranked out of a factory. Things that say: There aren't many of me. I'm special. I represent things you like. I represent YOU.

And now that I've learned about Storenvy it opens up a second venue for finding unique pieces that I love to own. The new Thursday feature will showcase items that I own, use and adore. Pieces I chose myself and purchased. Not items that I was asked to review. I am not gaining anything here by sharing these items and shops with you. I just simply love their handmade sweetness.

My first pick are dangle bracelets. I am not very big on wearing bracelets. I can't wear them on my right hand. And a lot of times I find they irritate me when I wear then on my left. If I try to type they get in the way. Or they are too big. I have a small wrist and most things are way to big for me. I also like jewelry that is dainty, petite and unobtrusive. I know some of you love a big loud piece but I feel overpowered and uncomfortable in statement jewelry.

The dangle bracelets I've been wearing are from Melli's Trinkets. I had seen her post several of them for promotion in our Storenvy group on Facebook and I adored them. They just looked fun and simple. They weren't trying to hard to be seen, they just had personality all on their own.



What makes this different from other bracelets I've worn? Well for starters it's the weight. These bracelets are light so they aren't rolling up and down my arm every time I move. The pearls are small enough that my wrist isn't overwhelmed by a chunky bead. And the pearls spread out if I am typing so they aren't all poking into my skin. They also come with a long leader chain so that I can completely adjust it to my tiny wrists.



I've even worn them both together without wanting to rip them off after five minutes.



Another thing I love about them is the construction. I have had bracelets similar to these in the past and I was not happy with them. From what I have learned there is a classic and textbook way to make these where the pin is fished through the bead and left with a bit of a leg on it once it is wrapped through the bracelet's chain. This leaves the bead dangling a little further from the chain and also leaves the end of the pin exposed. I wear a lot of knits and this has caused a lot of snagging to my shirts and sweaters. Melli's method is to not have a leg on the pin and to wrap the end of the pin as closely into the bead as she can. This keeps the bead close to the chain and I have yet to have a snag.



Did I mention they're reasonably priced too? Depending on the type of bead she uses, these little beauties are between $10 - $15. Frankly, I think that's a steal. And they are her best sellers. You can find her shop by clicking on this link Melli's Trinkets. I recommend checking out her shop and her other items and maybe picking up a dangle bracelet for yourself. You'll love it!