Archive for December, 2008

finie 1 (quilt)




We managed to finish the wedding quilt for n’s brother in time to take it across the country with us at Christmas (only 2.5 months after the wedding itself!). I spent an entire day working on it in December, first sewing the blocks together to make the quilt top, piecing the back together, and binding it together. It took another couple of hours to do the machine quilting and sew the binding on with the machine before we were ready to pack it (in a carry-on!) to bring with us. We finished the hand sewing of the binding in MD and I embroidered a patch with the names of the bride and groom and their wedding date.



I hung the quilt top in my window while I was trying to find sufficient light for photographs. It reminds me of stained glass and makes me want to sew pieced curtains someday.



The back. It is made mostly of a gray blue (delft blue kona cotton to be exact) with one pieced section. The light was not agreeing with me that day, it made me miss our old apartment.



Almost finished, nighttime shot. You can see the machine quilting here, I did straight lines again. I found it much easier doing the machine quilting this time around. I don’t know if it was because I used a different batting, but it was substantially easier. I thought about doing squares in each of the blocks, but I was under time constraints and I had done the lines before so I decided to stick with what I know. I think for the next quilt I would like to try free motion quilting.



My mediocre attempts at embroidery.



Nick helps with sewing the binding to the back.



All done! Cato approves.

I feel so relieved having this done!

Just to remind you about the details, pattern is a modified version of “Drunk Love Two-Tone” from the Denyse Schmidt Quilts book. We did 6 by 7 blocks with a small (3″) border of green on two sides. See the full progress here and all of the photos here.

coming together




Remember that quilt I was planning a while back? Yeah, I forgot about it too… Back when we found out they were getting married N and I decided to sew a wedding quilt for his brother and his wife. I got as far as cutting out the pieces before the wedding took place, but work and sewing wallets and bags took precedence so I haven’t touched it since September. I left the rest of the block piecing to n while I worked on other things. I won’t say he was diligent, but he did eventually get through them and the quilt squares are all finished.

Last night I laid them all out on the floor. There is a bit of a tighter fit in our apartment now (compared to the last time I did this) but I made enough space to lay out the design.



I didn’t follow the pattern I made on the computer when I was originally planning the quilt (or even look at it), but just having the constraints of distributing color and block type around made the layout similar to the original design:



N took things a step further and wrote a computer program to search for the optimal quilt layout based on edge color, center color, block type and highlight color. With 42 blocks there are 1×10^51 combinations possible. His program was still searching, but we took the best result so far and laid out the design.



Since the colors are fairly well distributed within the blocks, all of the desings look similar to me. I haven’t picked one yet, but since I picked up all of the blocks off the floor (If I don’t, the cat makes a mess of it) when I put them back down again I will surely make a new pattern. Who knows, maybe after another day of optimizing N’s program will give us the best result of all!

p.s.
Last weekend, while visiting the grand opening of the A Verb For Keeping Warm Workshop, I met some folks who suggested I take my bags over to a gallery space nearby. I did, and now there are a few bags and wallets for sale (in public!) should anyone happen to stumble upon them. The gallery is called blankspace and carries lots of cute handmade items, many of which I recognized from other local etsy sellers. I hope it goes well, but I’m not getting too excited this time.

where to go next?

*warning* long-winded post musing on craft business outlook below, reader beware!



(all photos from girl on the rocks)
I’ve been grappling for the last year or so about where I really see myself fitting into the craft business world. I have visions of the products I want to produce and I how I think everyone should love them, but I have been hesitant to really put in the work to go the extra distance and create a true promoted business. The path I have taken so far is to half-heartedly embrace the idea. I’ve produced a few things that I’m really excited about, but I haven’t spent much time marketing or polishing up an image that I can promote them on. The reality is that the business-y side of things doesn’t really interest me. I like creating and designing, but I’m not as excited about promoting or bookkeeping. I guess I viewed the Bazaar Bizarre 2008 as a bit of a test. If people seemed to like my items and buy them maybe it makes sense to put a little effort in on the business side and try this world out for a bit.



I thought I made a good faith effort, at least with the bags, wallets and chickens I made. I’ve been busy with work and traveling but it feels like I spent all of my spare moments sewing. I made a coat rack full of bags, each of which I thought was awesome. I put in the effort to sew bike inner tube edging on many of the bags (it is really difficult but is such a nice durable material). I made stacks of wallets and card holders out of a range of colors from vinyl banners. I sewed with salvaged high-tech sailcloth–a material I don’t see around in the craft world much but which is familiar to me because of my sailing background. I was hopeful and a little expectant, but my sales were rather dismal. Tweed Chickens did well (which is great) but I sold only two wallets (and both were to friends).



What went wrong? I have a few observations and a lot of questions. First, a lot of other people at the Baz Biz were selling wallets and bags, so I had direct competition. I though my display looked nice (but I may be wrong?) and people noticed the wallets. A lot of shoppers picked them up to examine them, but returned them to the table. People were especially drawn to the sailcloth ones – they look unusual. I suppose this shopping season is probably slower than last year and people might be choosing what they buy very carefully. Still, the other booths seemed to be making sales and I wasn’t. The only info I provided about the materials was “recycled wallets.” Do I need to provide more of a storyline for the materials I use? Were my prices wrong (either too high or too low)? My prices were in the same range as wallets at other tables, and the bags were difficult to compare since I don’t really think there were other bags like them.



Now I need to decide where to head next. Do I bail out now and abandon this whole project? Should I ramp up the effort and try again given the lackluster response last weekend? I know there is a lot more I could do, but given the response so far should I just give up now?

I’m trying to look at the situation objectively and not whine too much about it. I do feel like it is time to make some decisions though. Does anyone have some insight? Did anyone see my table set up and have comments or suggestions for how it could be done better?