I’ve been really successful at staying on track this past week by doing a series of smaller shop updates. Each morning I’ve set a goal and cut x number of t-shirts (it varies day to day). I’m grateful to have finally stumbled on a system that seems to be working for me.
After being very consistent, I skipped blogging last week. I tried to carve out the time and failed miserably. Actually, carving out time has not been something I’ve been good at lately. In spite of this, sales in my Etsy shop have been brisk, so I need to get that nonsense under control.
I’ve got about a zillion ideas rattling around in my mind that need attention. Here’s an update on some of them in no particular order.
For a while I thought I would be phasing t-shirt yarn out of my shop. Its not that I don’t like making it, its more that I prefer the creative outlet that making bags offers. Each bag is unique in spite of it being the same size and always with a pocket or two. The t-shirt yarn, on the other hand, is strictly a repetitive task. Of course at the end of it, there’s a rainbow of loveliness.
After much thought, I’ve decided to keep making the t-shirt yarn but to change a few key aspects of it. The main one being, I’m not dyeing anymore of the t-shirts so if you love the bleach dyed line, get it while you can. I’m going to stick to buying the cool tie dyed ones whenever I find them and leave the dyeing to the pros for now. In the future, who knows?
My recent acquisition of a serger (it’s freaking magical you guys!!) means that more t-shirt throw blankets are likely to show up in the shop. These are made from parts of the t-shirt that aren’t used for t-shirt yarn. The serger also means I might start selling drawstring bags made from t-shirt sleeves. Currently, these hold my t-shirt yarn but I always have extras. I use them to hold my headphones and other small items to keep them from being lost in my purse.
Unlined zipper pouches, which are by far my most popular item at craft fairs, are also going to be revolutionized because of the serger. Oh and speaking of craft fairs, I just signed up to do one in the Adirondacks this summer. More on that later.
I’m still fighting with my leather bag handle/rivet project. Its so close to being a coherent design.
So that is what’s new around here. Hope your week is a productive one.
All the college traveling combined with a visit to see out of town family this weekend and all I can say is, I am having a hell of a time getting anything done. I haven’t given up though, hence a blog post being typed at 10:30 pm rather than 6:00am.
I finally managed to get four new zipper pouch listings up today, 1 this morning and 3 this evening. That really felt like a triumph. Here’s a peek at another combination.
Tomorrow afternoon’s agenda is pretty packed. I need to put the finishing touches on my swap partner’s bag for #thewastedswap so I can get it in the mail by Friday morning. I also need to choose a label style and just order them instead of being so wish washy. Finally, I need to do at least one test rivet on the leather handles to get that project moving.
Now I must go pack that baby up so it can head to its new home tomorrow. Hope you are having a great week.
I made it up to Tandy Leather in Syracuse last Thursday, in spite of car issues (pro tip: if you have service done and they forget to put a washer on your transmission afterwards, bad things can happen) and torrential rain. For the record, that drive is an hour and fifteen minutes from where I live. After a confusing/amusing introduction to the staff, I said “I need guidance” and they thought I said, “I need guns,” they were incredibly helpful. I brought a sample strap and they helped me sort out what size rivets and tools I needed to get the job done. They were low pressure without being disinterested which was really great. The best part was the things I needed cost much less than the things I thought I needed. I’m looking forward to actually trying these gadgets out tomorrow.
As you might have gathered from that last sentence, things are really busy in my world right now. April seems to be “College Month” around here. The first weekend in April was spent in Burlington, VT at Accepted Students’ Day for my senior. We have segued right from that into 3 consecutive weekends of college visits for my junior. We’re one week into that, two more and things will settle down.
I was able to sneak in stops to two thrift stores on my way home from Syracuse. There is more t-shirt yarn on the horizon. These lovelies are already washed and awaiting the cutting mat. I’ll be experimenting with a slightly different cutting technique on this batch. I think it will make things go faster but I can’t be sure. There’s also rumor that I might have a helper with this batch. We shall see.
Finally, here is a peek at the four upholstery fabric samples that I hope to turn into listings for zipper pouches tomorrow. My goal had been to do that last week but it just didn’t happen. Tomorrow afternoon it will! I’m also about to apply for another craft show. Wish me luck! Hope your week is going well.
The balance between family life, my day jobs and my little business can be a tricky. I envy people who are just able to push through it all. Sometimes it leaves me with only enough brain space and drive to sit on the couch, knit and drink coffee while snuggling my dog. Oreo approves of this, as you can clearly see.
A fellow maker who recently started her own clothing business, Tiny Cat Designs, (go check her shop out, her clothes are amazing) and I were talking about ways to combat the perennial lack of time. I had just finished a special order for a zipper bag that came out of this Instagram picture below, showing some fun upholstery fabric samples I had acquired.
Someone saw the fabric on top, fell in love with it and asked me to make them a bag from it. We agreed that this might be the way for me to keep new ideas coming to the shop without all of the work happening first.
I’m thinking that a picture like the one below, which shows lining fabric and zipper as well as the outside fabric would be the way to showcase this.
Of course I’d have to have a sample finished object picture like this one below so people will know what they’re getting.
So my plan is to have at least four of these kind of listings live by week’s end. This will free up a little time to continuing working with the mysterious box of leather scraps I posted a picture of in last last week’s post, or yesterday on Instagram if you follow me there (I’m @savedbykate). I need to pick the brains of some people familiar with riveting leather (and denim too, I should probably ask all the questions while i’m there, right?), so I’m trying to plan a trip up to a store in Syracuse that has all these supplies. I don’t want to guess and blindly order what I think I might need off of Amazon. This hour long drive each way will save me time in the long run. Maybe tomorrow afternoon if I don’t have to work.
Happy Making! See you next week.
I had an amazing time at the Twin Tiers Mini Maker Faire this past weekend. I met so many kids and adults who were excited by the idea of upcycling and were enthralled that they could made a drawstring treasure bag so quickly and simply.
My oldest son was a great help in keeping things moving along, especially since people often descended on our booth in groups. We tried to make a daily life connection to what we were doing by pointing out that if you know how to thread a drawstring, you also know how to put the string back into your sweatpants, shorts, pajama pants and hoodies. This was an amazing a-ha moment for so many kids, and more than a few adults.
When the day was over, we had helped people make 100 Upcycled Drawstring Treasure Bags, we had gathered a few emails for a monthly newsletter that I’m planning to launch in May and had given out a whole lot of business cards with coupon codes on the back. I took notes about what I forgot to do/bring and what went well. So much learning in these events.
In other news, I finally set up a signature line with a link to my Etsy shop. Not sure about the double last name in the email address but that’s not the one I use for business so I’m not worried. I’ll be adding in Facebook and Instagram links soon. I can only handle one technological challenge per day.
So much more to share, including why I took a trip to Aurora, NY at 7:45am this morning but I’m short on time. I’ll leave you with this picture to ponder.
Meet Oreo, shop dog and quality control manager. He’s inspecting my work and judging my progress on the great blanket redo that I’ve undertaken. The blanket on the right is the original, inexplicably crocheted 12 ft long by me many years ago for my then preschool age son. I accidentally made him a shroud instead of a blanket. Or maybe I thought he was going to be 10 ft tall? Go ahead and laugh, its totally ridiculous. Actually, wait for the real punchline. Ready? I have two sons and not wanting anyone to feel less loved, I made a second blanket the exact same size. My only defense is that I was really sleep deprived back then.
The blanket on the left is the redo, a little more than 6ft long, for the same son to take to college this fall. If you hang around for a year with me on this blog, you’ll get to see progress reports on the second rip out and redo for my younger son’s blanket. The moral of the story is, I am always learning as a maker and I am not afraid to rip it all out and try again, even if it takes a few years.
Lately, the twists and turns in my life as a maker who sells her work have been catching me a little off guard. Sometimes I find it hard to fathom the way things can shift into or out of place in just a few days. At times I’m just left wondering, should I or shouldn’t I? Is this an opportunity or a trap? I’ve got quite a collection of possibilities before me this week, which is awesome, and a truckload of decisions to make, which is stressful.
I listened to episode 54 of the Have Company Podcast, which I always find inspiring, but this time I felt like Marlee and her guest, Sarah Schulweis, were speaking directly to me. It was such a well timed episode for me. The conversation about different ways to organize, carving out time chunks to get things done, managing distractions, the need for self care… Go listen to the episode rather than listening to me rhapsodize about it.
Another source of inspiration this past week has come from the book, The Handmade Marketplace, How to Sell Your Crafts Locally, Globally and Online by Kari Chapin. This has become my morning reading. I like the way it sets the tone of my day.
On the agenda for this weekend is the Twin Tiers Mini Maker Faire. I am delighted to say that I am actually prepared for this. I even remembered to find something to hold my business cards. There will be no last minute panic attack Friday evening as I try to pull everything together. Maybe I am learning something?
Now I’m off to make some of those decisions. Wish me luck!
I didn’t expect to have two days in a row of my day job being cancelled due to the blizzard but Ithaca, NY continues to be largely shut down as we dig out from under Stella. Its a nice respite that is allowing me to get some things done that I kept putting on the back burner, like this blog.
I started 2017 with a lot of ambition. I registered my business, got my sales tax certificate, tweaked my Etsy listings and started on a new line of bucket bags. I was feeling pretty stoked and then I applied for a craft fair that I really wanted to be a part of… and got turned down.
I know it isn’t personal but it sure feels like a kick in the gut when you get a thanks but no thanks email. It makes me think about just going to my day job and saying the hell with this whole crafting thing. Do I need to dedicate my off hours to this? Am I accomplishing anything? What am I trying to accomplish anyway?
A day or two later I got an email, reminding me about an upcoming maker faire that the organizers really wanted me to be a part of. They wanted me and had noticed that I hadn’t returned my application! The world is funny place and I’m embracing the unexpected opportunity. (I’ve had a few of these recently that I’ll share in future posts.)
If you’re local, join me for the Twin Tiers Mini Maker Faire on Saturday, March 25th 10 – 3 at the Arnot Mall. To quote directly from their website: A Mini Maker Faire is an event that “celebrates arts, crafts, engineering, science projects and the DIY mindset”. This is a free event.
If you stop by my booth, you’ll get to see my love of upcycling in action. I’ll have samples of some of my bags for you to see and touch. You’ll also have the opportunity to make an Upcycled, Drawstring, Treasure bag out of an upcycled t-shirt sleeve. This is activity is great for kids and is absolutely free.
I’m off to prep more t-shirt sleeves for next weekend. (Yes it’s still snowing here.) Hope to see you there!
Welcome to Saved by Kate, a blog to accompany and tell the tale of my Etsy shop of the same name. My name is Katie. I live in Ithaca, NY and I’m the maker behind the shop.
I’m on a mission to make upcycling not just practical but beautiful as well. I use upcycled jeans, t-shirts and upholstery fabric samples to creates one of a kind, functional, beautiful tote bags and project bags to help you organize your on-the-go crafting and your world. My project bags all feature an upcycled jeans pocket on the front, the perfect combination of quirkiness and function. My affordable zipper pouches come in both lined and unlined versions and are perfect for organizing notions, change, make up or anything else that needs corralling. I also have a large selection of handmade t-shirt yarn in my shop.
I’ll be using this space to share my thoughts, my process, my successes and my frustrations.
I’m using this snow day to jump start some things that I really need to get done, like starting this blog. Celebrate the snow and new beginnings with me. Use coupon code STELLA2017 for free shipping on your order of $15 or more now through Friday March 17th.