Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Treasury Tuesday - No 2

A weekly series featuring an Etsy treasury I've curated.

click here to visit the treasury and get access to any of the items

Friday, March 28, 2014

Favorite Things Friday - No 8

Last week I shared some of my favorite Etsy shops for digital sewing patterns.  This week, I'm sharing some of my favorite Etsy fabric shops. 

I get almost all of my designer fabrics from Etsy.  I will occasionally go to a local quilt shop, but it's pretty difficult to shop a quilt shop with a toddler.  No carts, too packed with fabric to get a stroller around, plus I can only carry a bolt or two when I have Zoe with me.  It's just easier for me to shop for these fabrics online, and since I like to support other Etsians, I choose to shop through Etsy instead of some of the larger online fabric shops. 

Also, I've found that it's usually about the same cost to shop for fabric from Etsy as it is for me to shop from a local quilt shop. I try to order multiple fabrics at once so I can take advantage of combine shipping.  Most of the shops ship in a Flat Rate Priority envelope which is under $6.  I think most shops can fit about 8 yards in one envelope.  Most of the shops sell designer fabric (Amy Butler, Jennifer Paganelli, Anna Maria Horner, Michael Miller, Joel Dewberry, Moda, etc) at about $8 to $10 a yard.  My local quilt stores carry the same fabrics at $12 a yard.  If I buy 5 yards of fabric from an Etsy shop, I'm paying roughly $50 + $6 for shipping.  Locally, I'm paying $60 for 5 yards, plus tax, plus gas money.

I get all other fabrics, like blenders and solids at Hancock's, Hobby Lobby or JoAnne, using a 40% off coupon when I can.  

Some tips for buying fabric from Etsy.  

If I find a fabric I like, from browsing Etsy, I'll do an Etsy search for it to see who has the cheapest price. Then I compare their shipping cost to that of the next cheapest price by yard.  

Next, I look through their shop to see if they have any other fabrics I'd like so that I can get as much fabric shipped at once.  It's rare that I would pay $9 for a yard of fabric, plus, another $5 for shipping.  

If the listing says there's only one yard available, and I need more, I always ask if they have the amount I need.  Almost every time, the seller will set up a custom listing with the amount I need. 

Once I've added all of the fabric to my cart, and see that the shipping price is more than a Flat Rate Envelope, I'll ask for shipping to be adjusted.  If it's just $1 or a little more over, I don't worry about it.

Now that I've shared the How & Why I shop for fabric on Etsy, I want to share some of my favorite fabric shops.


shop link
You can read Pink Door Fabric's About Me page here.

Pink Door Fabrics carries a large selection of designer fabrics as well as blender fabrics and patterns.  They also carry organics and fabric bundles. I've purchased both fabric yardage and patterns, and have made more than one purchase from them.  My most recent purchase included


In addition to yardage, Southern Fabric has a huge selection of patterns. They also carry a rather large selection of pre-cuts, which I love!  In fact, all of the purchases I've made from them, have been pre-cuts. 


With fabrics sorted by pattern rather than designer/manufacturer name, Fabrics Boutique carries yardage, bundles & patterns.  Shipping has been so fast, that I had to wait to be able to leave feedback!  My most recent purchase included


shop link

Bee Yourself Fabrics carries designer fabrics, home dec fabrics and bundles as well as handmade items like throw pillows and table runners.  She has gorgeous selections of Anna Maria Horner, Jennifer Paganelli & Amy Butler.  My recent purchase included


You can find Fabric BUBB's About Me page here

Fabric BUBB carries a huge selection of fabrics.  Anything from designer to Kona solids to home decor and minky.  They sell both yardage and bundles.  With orders going out the next business day, shipping is super fast.  My most recent purchase were these awesome prints!


I hope you found this post helpful, and that if you're looking for fabric that the big box fabric spots don't carry, that you'll consider these shops for your fabric needs.  It's always a great thing when we can help support small business like these!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Treasury Tuesday - No 1

A weekly series featuring an Etsy treasury I've curated. 

click here to visit the treasury and get access to any of the items

Friday, March 21, 2014

Favorite Things Friday - No 7

A series of weekly posts, sharing some of my favorite internet finds.

As I started looking through some of my pins to gather some content for this post, I came across one that I'd pinned from Etsy.  It was a sewing pattern for a little girl's dress.  That gave me the idea to look through my Etsy favorites to see what other sewing patterns I'd saved on Etsy.  Did you know you can create boards on Etsy too?  

Anyway, as I looked through my saved patterns, I realized that I usually "like" several patterns from any given seller.  I thought I'd take this week's FTF to feature some of my favorite pattern designers from Etsy.  I'll be featuring several different shops/pattern types, from toys to clothes, to quilts.  Etsy has a great feature called About Me, that allows sellers to give a mini-bio on who they are and how their shop came to be.  Since this feature is optional, not every seller has one.  When it's available, I'll link to it so you can check those out.  I love reading stories about how my favorite shops came to be, and I urge you to take a peek.  If you're a maker, it can be really inspiring to read about others' successes, and to see how they were all newbies at one point!

All of the shops featured sell their patterns as instant PDF downloads.  I love ordering patterns this way because I don't have to wait days to get them in the mail!

My first feature is Kim from Retro Mama.  Retro Mama has been open since the end of 2007.  She's got some adorable softie patterns in her shop.  One cool thing about patterns from her shop, is that she allows you to sell items made from her patterns, as long as you credit her as the designer (following her instructions).  You can find her About Me page here.

I love this bunny pattern so much!  I bought this one last year with the intention of making one for Zoe's Easter basket.  Of course, I never got around to it, but this year, I'm for sure getting it done!  Zoe is a bunny freak, and it'll just make my heart sing to see her loving on a bunny that I made. 

Doxies are by far my favorite dog breed, so of course, I love this Dachshund softie pattern.  I actually purchased an already made one from another Etsy seller, for Zoe's first Christmas. Aren't they just the cutest things?

OK, seriously, how cute is this Hans and Greta doll set???  Just look at those sweet outfits! You can also purchase these patterns from the shop, separately. 

Retro Mama has pages of patterns available, as well as some listings for felt, which can be used for several of her patterns. 


My next feature is Little Lizard King.  I just discovered this shop last weekend while I was looking for a toddler dress pattern.  You can find there About Me page here.

According to their About Me page, they are the largest seller of children's clothing patterns on Etsy.  I certainly believe it because there are so many I ended up adding to my favorites! Like Retro Mama, Little Lizard King allows items made from their patterns to be sold, in limited quantities, with proper credit given to them for designing the pattern. 

The dress that led me to their shop was this one.  I'm planning to purchase this one this week, and have already been planning what fabric I'd like to use. I'm thinking a bold Amy Butler print would look gorgeous here.  

I love patterns that use a bunch of different fabrics.  It might take me forever to choose just the right fabrics, but it's so much fun pulling them all together.  One good this about a pattern like this one is that it's good for stash-busting.  I'm also thinking you could use a fat quarter bundle on the smaller sizes.  That certainly takes most of the work of choosing fabrics, away.  I'm looking at this skirt, and seeing this awesome Joel Dewberry bundle working really well!

 This has to be the most adorable dress I've seen in a long time!  It would make the perfect Easter dress!

In addition to dress and skirt patterns, Little Lizard King also stocks patterns for rompers, tops, bottoms, accessories, boys' patterns and even costumes!


If you like boutique clothing patterns, you'll love this next shop.  Viola Lee is a shop full of boutique clothing patterns for little girls.  I have purchased several patterns from her, and have made two garments using her patterns. I'd consider myself somewhere between a beginner and intermediate when it comes to sewing, and these patterns were a cinch for me!  Vicky's patterns are very thorough, and easy to use.  You can find Vicky's About Me page here.

OK, on to some of my favorite patterns.  I'll start with the two I've used. 

The first pattern I used was the Mattie Mae pants pattern.  I made these as part of Zoe's 1st Birthday party outfit.  They were freaking adorable!

The second pattern I used was the appropriately named Zoe.  It's a Ruffled Dress pattern with an option to make it just a top.  I made one of these last year, and really learned a lot, like how to work with a bodice, which was something I'd never done before.  You can see my version here

I bought the Leatha Lee dress pattern last year as well, and am about to start on it.  I bought several fabrics this week that will work, I just need to narrow them down.

If you're looking for boy patterns, I've just stumbled across Vicky's shop for boy patterns, Fuddie Duddies.


This next shop, Cali Faye Collection, stocks patterns for garments that have a little more of a minimalist feel to them.  I tend to like both the girly-girl boutique style clothes and the minimalist style for Zoe.  I don't want her to be dressed over-the-top everyday so these patterns are excellent for helping add a good mix to her wardrobe.  Wow, I'm talking like she's a grown woman aren't I?  ha!

Cali Faye Collection is run by Sarah, and you can find her About Me page here. Like the other designers, Sarah allows you to sell items made from her designs, on a small business based scale, as long as you give Cali Faye Collection credit for the design.

I am in love with this lovely pullover.  I'm big on dressing Zoe in leggings since they're so versatile, not to mention comfortable, so a pullover like this is perfect to pair with them!  

This next top is just so pretty!  I love the gathers on the front.  The great thing about this top is that it would look good in a small, medium or large print fabric.

This was the pattern that drew me to the Cali Faye Collection shop.  What a cute outfit!  These pants are adorable, and can be made as either a pair of everyday pants, or as PJ pants.  The top is another CFC pattern, which is sold separately.

I hope you've enjoyed this post.  I love supporting other Etsy shops, and feel like in addition to making purchases from them, I can hopefully send a few people, who may not have ever stumbled across them, their way.  Make sure to stop by next Friday for a round-up of my favorite Etsy fabric shops!

Monday, March 17, 2014

How I Use Photoshop Elements to Edit My Product Photos

Before I jump in here, I just want to make something clear.  My photos are far from the best out there, and I'm not claiming to be an expert because I'm not an expert.  I'm not even a photographer. I'm just a regular ol' blogger and Etsian who takes bad photos, that I then transform from dark and dingy to bright brighter and crisp.  

I recently had someone ask what kind of camera and photo editing software I use so I thought I'd put together a little post to share what I do.

The camera I use is a  Sony DSLR-A100.  It's at least 8 years old.  I've never read the manual so I don't know how to do anything on it except take photos using the auto-focus feature.  I've somehow picked up along the way, to use the A/V button to help bring more light into my photos if they look too dark on the camera's preview screen.

I used to take all of my product photos on my kitchen counter, with a sheet of white paneling as a backdrop. I did this for several years, but have recently found that my upstairs bathroom gets wonderful natural light during the day. I now take my photos there, using a sheet of paneling as a backdrop, and another sheet under whatever the subject is.  

For several years, I used Picasa for photo editing.  I mainly used the "I'm feeling lucky" tool because it seemed to do a pretty good job at making my photos look nice.  A few years ago, I think they tweaked some things and suddenly, my photos looked really harsh when I used this tool.  I tried using other effects from the software to edit my photos, but I just couldn't get them to look bright and clear.  Eventually, I downloaded a trial version of Photoshop Elements.  I fell in love with it right away, and bought it as soon as my trial ran out.  

I only use 3 PSE functions when I edit my photos.  I still like to use Picasa for straightening and cropping my photos because I don't like the way those functions work in PSE.  Since I complete those actions first, I start off by importing my photos into Picasa.  I choose the ones I want and straighten and crop them before exporting them to the folder I use for pre-edited photos.

Once I have them ready to edit, and exported to the specific folder, I open PSE and import them there.  

The first edit I do is Remove a Color Cast.  You can see the Before (on the left) and the After (on the right)

Next, I use the Brightness tool.  This is where most of the change comes in.  I adjust both the brightness and the contrast.  You can see the Before (on the left) and the After (on the right)

The third step is Lighten or Darken.  I adjust both the Lighten Shadows and Mid-tone Contrast. You can see the Before (on the left) and the After (on the right).

Here's another side-by-side of the Before and After.

I know there is so much more I can do with this software.  I just haven't found the time to sit down and learn.  There are many books on how to use the different Elements versions (I use version 11).  Because I'm a fan of the for Dummies books, that's the book I have.  There are also tons of tips and tutorials from bloggers that can be found through Pinterest.  

Friday, March 14, 2014

Favorite Things Friday - 6

In honor of Pi Day, I'm sharing a round-up of my favorite pie finds from this week.  It's 6PM my time so better late than never, I guess!  

I'd actually never heard of Strawberry Rhubarb pie until a few years ago.  I'd say maybe it's just not something that's popular in the South, except I see the ingredients displayed together, in the produce section of the store, during strawberry season.  Maybe it just wasn't something my family was into.  Anyway, it's something I've been wanting to try for awhile, but the strawberries and rhubarb are still a little pricey right now, plus it's not strawberry season here right now.  The strawberries in the stores are from FL.  I'll be able to get them from the Farmer's Market soon, so look for a post on this pie soon!

Blackberry pie is my absolute favorite pie, yet I've never had it homemade. I've never even made a pie with a lattice crust.  This needs to change, and soon!

This one's been making the rounds on Facebook lately.  Millionaire Pie.  I've never had it, but I'm a sucker for cream pies, and this one looks good enough for me to want the whole thing for myself!

Confession...  I never liked pecan pie until a couple of years ago.  I guess I had a texture issue with it as a kid, and just got it in my head that I didn't like it.  Um, yeah....

This is the first and only pie I've ever made from scratch.  I love this pie!  I try to make one each year either on July 4th or Thanksgiving.  It's wonderful with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream!

I take that back.  I've also made a Buttermilk Pie from scratch.  A few years ago, I was reading a novel that was set in Pioneer days.  The main character kept mentioning buttermilk pies.  I was intrigued, and gave the buttermilk pie a shot.  It was a nice custard pie, that had a good flavor that wasn't overly sweet.   I'm not a huge custard fan so that was my one an only buttermilk pie. 

I saw this S'mores Pie the other day, and went right out to get what I needed to make it.  I've been slammed with appointments this week so I still haven't gotten a chance to make it.  Hopefully tomorrow will be the day. Doesn't it look amazing???

This photo was just too pretty not to include in the roundup.  Those berries just pop!  

This pie looks scrumptious!  Right???  My husband is a huge eggnog fan.  He's also crazy about gingersnaps so I have a feeling this pie would be a huge hit around here.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Easter Basket Bunting Tutorial

I've been a parent for the last 15 Easters.   For about 10 of them, I had the privilege of putting together an Easter basket for my oldest daughter.  I love doing Easter baskets! I think it might have something to do with the challenge of fitting everything into such a small space, while still making it look cute. Why is it that the basket seems much larger when you're shopping for things to go in it, than it does when it's time to fill it?  

Anyway, now that Zoe's two, it's time for me to start playing Easter Bunny again.  This year, I've come up with a something to add a little more charm to the basket, without using up any of that precious basket real estate, and I've put together a little tutorial to share with you.  

 Here's what you do.

baker's twine
Heavy Duty Heat-n-Bond or another iron on adhesive
fabric scraps

tapestry needle (it looks like a needle on steroids, found in knitting section)
ironing board

  • Print the bunting template.
  • Rough side down, lay the Heat-n-Bond over the top of the bunting template and trace as many pennants as you need.  
  • Cut shapes out.
  • Rough side down, iron Heat-n-Bond to the BACK of your fabric scraps.
  • After they've cooled down, cut out pennants .
  • Carefully peel the paper backing from the Heat-n-Bond.
  • Now fold your pennants together, shiny sides facing each other. Leave an open section at the top of the triangles.  You'll thread the twine through this opening later.
  • Carefully iron the front and back of the triangle together, making sure not to iron the opening at the top closed.
  • Using the tapestry needle, thread the baker's twine through each flag.
  • Tie to the handle or the front of your basket, removing an flags that don't fit, and trimming any excess twine.

That's it!