Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Getting in the mood for Christmas

When I first moved here and the kids were young,I went all our for Christmas. I decorated the door and window frames with elaborate garlands and wreaths I made myself,filled the window boxes with more evergreens and had spectacular trees filled with ornaments collected from all over the world. It was a lot of work ,weeks worth and my family appreciated it .
This year with Jon away and the cost of everything sky high we decided on a low key Christmas, no tree , no big gifts. It's been a relief not to have to worry on how to get it all done. I'm making small gifts for the stockings, but that's it. I couldn't (wouldn't) do this if the kids were still kids , but they are grown now, and I just don't feel the need for a tree and gifts.
We aren't forgetting Christmas, just keeping the focus on the day not the trappings.
This morning was dreary and as I returned from my walk with Bella ,my house looked so forlorn with it's empty window boxes and bare front door. I grabbed my clippers and a big paper bag and took a walk around my yard collecting evergreens to dress them up. A quick walk up the block to the county's water station netted me some cedar, pine and pine cones. They could use some more color and I'll look for more on my next hike but I'm pretty happy with them and even happier with the price tag. I did pick up a swag at Trader Joe's for the door. I didn't want to go up in the attic to find trim, so I took some ribbon from my sewing box and some gnomes,birds and mushrooms from the craft box and had fun with it .

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Get yourself on Etsy's front Page in 3 easy steps

I made this chart several weeks ago after watching the same items being featured over and over on the front page of Etsy. Is it scientific ? No. However between the time I first made the chart and now, I've noticed that most of the treasuries I've seen fall within my table of possibilities .
I am having a glitch with Google or Blogger or both so I am unable to post it here. I've provide a link to the google doc so you can even print it out as a handy guide.
You'll either find it amusing ,infuriating or helpful.
If you are one of those who is featured on the front page regularly, good for you! I have nothing against you or what you make, so please don't take it personal. The same goes for those of you that make things which don't fall into one of my categories, these are just my observations about what items and types of treasuries seem to be picked for front pages.
To make your own front page worthy treasury
1 Pick one from Column's A& B Theme and color scheme
2 Pick 2 from each of the remaining categories
3 Use your color theme and items as search words to find your items,artfully arrange,post and wait to be picked

The Chart

Friday, December 12, 2008

Dell Mini

I've had an increase in the number of mini cases I've made lately . After the Macbooks, the Dell "Mini" and Asus EEEPC are my most requested sleeves. One of my customers posted a video about his sleeve.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Fall Back

After a lazy summer of gardening and collecting , I'm getting back into sewing and creating new products. Sales have definitely slowed for me on Etsy, where I used to get new customers without even trying . When I first started making my laptop sleeves, there was only one other person making them and theirs was a true bag, one with a zipper and handles. Gradually more sellers started producing bags and sleeves. Some truly gifted crafters, like Alice of Flickabags and workingclass hero, have essentially closed shop and gone elsewhere. Now there are dozens of people making sleeves and laptop bags. Since etsy allows cottage industries, I can post a bag in the morning and find it 20 pages back by noon . Not much chance of being seen by the casual browser.
The one thing that really bothers me is that if you do a search for laptop sleeve you may have to sift through a couple hundred listings to find one . Many sellers migrated over from ebay and use ridiculous titles like
Custom laptop notebook briefcase backpack messenger diaper tote bag purse sleeve
in order to drive traffic to their pages. Personally,I wouldn't buy from someone with an ebay type title ( unless I was on ebay), but that's just me. I can't say that I blame them as etsy's search feature is virtually useless . I just think it looks tacky .
I've thought of closing shop there but I 'm too stubborn to give up and leave what little new business I have to these interlopers.
So I have started selling on Icraft a Canadian site that screens it sellers for quality and has truly handcrafted items for sale. I haven't sold anything so far but I really like the look and feel of the site and I'm sure I will soon.
I'll also be participating in a few craft shows leading up to Christmas. I've only booked a few close to the holidays because I need to build up some stock. I'll post links soon.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Meme.... My favorite contemporary fabric

My favorite new(to me) blog is True Up . It's all fabric all the time! The current meme is to post your favorite contemporary fabric.
After much consideration, I've settled on Kiku Stencil by Makower. I love everything about it. It's simple yet complex , old fashioned, yet modern.
Kiku is Japanese for Chrysanthemum, which happened to be my mothers favorite flower. She grew at least 10 different varieties, from simple buttons to elegant spiders, all as a part of a very large Japanese style garden she and my father built from the ground up. So I've always loved Japanese prints, But this one is from England.
It features many different motifs of the flower, some traditional Japanese designs mixed with other, more stylized western interpretations . It came in two colorways but this is my favorite, mostly tan and black with just enough red to give the eye a rest and focus. It was popular with my customers and I kept buying and buying until suddenly there wasn't a yard to be found . I am left with a few remnants That one day will be sewn into something special and everlasting.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Upcycle tshirt bag challenge

Woof Nanny's latest challenge was to up cycle a t-shirt into a bag . My son recently let go of some of this favorite t' s so I decided to use one of them. I decided to make a messenger bag since it was a man's t shirt and would be a good choice for the print. I backed it with some stabilizer but it was still too soft to keep its shape so I used some black twill for the body of the bag. I used the front screen print for the flap adding a frame of studs around Q.E. I used the back of the t for the back pocket with a skull patch covering some minor holes. A black and white check was perfect for the lining. I used one of the sleeves to make an inner pocket It's finished off with an adjustable strap

Friday, May 02, 2008

Purse project challenge

This is my submission for Woof Nanny's current bag challenge, which is to remake a bag. I did more of a rehab than a remake. I bought this vintage straw bag at an estate sale. It had been packed away for years and had no major issues other than a strong musty odor. After giving it a good cleaning I tried airing it outside in the sun for a few days. It worked a bit but soon the scent would come back . It had a vinyl lining which was still in good shape ,just a little stained and not very attractive. I thought maybe the back of the lining was moldy and responsible for the smell so I took it out it and found a cardboard backing which fortunately wasn't moldy but was what was holding the odor. It was held in place by rattan staves and I worried that if I tried to take them out I might compromise the frame. After doing some research I learned that if you can't replace the lining you can seal it, thereby holding the odor in. I used a clear acrylic sealer and it sure enough the odor is gone. I took the previous lining apart and used it as a pattern for a new lining adding a zipper pocket complete with a vintage metal zipper just like the original had.
I'd like to Thank Barb for hosting this challenge.For some reason participants have been dwindling and she's thinking of shutting it down. I hope if you've never tried a challenge before you'll give it a try , it's no pressure, loads of fun and sometimes it's a great to be given an "assignment". Without the Purse ProjectI don't know what I'd write about in my blog!

Saturday, March 01, 2008

reassembeling the past

Last month I participated in Barb's (Woof Nanny) purse project challenge which was to make a bag from vintage linens (curtains, dresser scarf, tablecloth, etc). I thought it would be easy but I just couldn't seem to think of the right bag for the linens I'd designated for cutting. Then recently I came across a towel that looked like ones we had when I was growing up. A lovely teal blue and avocado green brocade. I forked over $2.00 for it and brought it home washed it and then used it as a lap blanket for a while. I wasn't going to cut into this piece of my past until I was sure I knew exactly what I wanted. It wasn't really a piece of my past but it was close enough.

When I first left home , I took very little with me. My( first) husband and I were building our boat. We lived in my mother in law's pool house for a couple of months until we were able to get the interior roughed in and move aboard. During this time my parents moved from their home in Southern California to North Carolina. There were lots of things that wouldn't be making the trip , linens, china , knicknacks. Since I lived on a 32' boat, I couldn't take anything, there just wasn't room. At the time I was working as a Buyer, a job where dressing trendy was required. Every extra inch of storage was filled . We had a rule, bring something new home, take something old out. Eventually the boat was finished, I quit my job and we spent more days at sea then in port ,so there was even less room for frivolous objects.

We finally settled in Hawaii and started building our home. I was building a new life and collecting things from the past didn't really matter to me. Living on an island I can tell you , there are no treasures tempting you at garage sales, no antiques waiting to be found. Everything is used until it disintegrates, or breaks beyond repair. I collected sea shells, sea glass and seeds. It wasn't until years later, after my divorce , after my parents had passed, that I wanted to surround myself with the familiar objects of my childhood and happier times. I had inherited some art , some jewelry but it was the every day hand me down objects I longed for.

Now I live in a place where thrift shops and white elephant sales are commonplace . I am slowly reassembling my past, piece by piece with kitchen wear, linens and fashion accessories of days gone by . They may only be replicas, but the memories they evoke are genuine.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

International Shipping Woes

The recent changes in international shipping rates have really put a crimp in overseas sales of my laptop sleeves and bags. To ship an average sized sleeve to the UK used to cost $10.50Now to ship the same sleeve cost $20.00 which is about half the price of a sleeve.
When a return customer ordered one for a gift, I worried about losing a sale. She asked if their was any way I could send it cheaper and I told her I would research it . Everything else was just as much if not more.
I decided to see if there was anyway I could fit it in a flat rate envelope. I squished it down as much as I could and managed to get it inside but just barely. Then I had an idea. What if I put it in a plastic bag and sucked the air out ? I used a normal zip lock bag and my vacuum and it did the trick.
Last week I had a custom order from Germany , this sleeve was for a mammoth laptop . The shipping would have been $25 .00 I asked if she minded getting it tightly packed, she would need to press it herself and she agreed it was worth the savings.
Try as I might I could barely get it folded to put in the gallon sized zip lock I've used for 13" and 15" macs which are slimmer than most . Finally I folded it in thirds and then in half and got it in the bag. It took a couple tries but I was finally able to get it compressed down to fit in the envelope and to be able to close it without tape ( a postal requirement.)

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Indecision 2008 , should I stay or should I go?

Borrowing from the Daily Show, the year has started with a whole lot of indecision for me regarding Saltygal. I didn't start the business for any single reason , it was a way to keep busy, make a little money and feed my fashion and fabric obsession.
Etsy made it easy for me to have online storefront. I opened one up and made a sale the first day. I was hooked. When I started taking custom orders through Alchemy I stretched myself creatively, my business grew and I could be as busy as I wanted.
I didn't have a business plan but I made adjustments adding some inexpensive items and gaining wholesale accounts.
Now I'm at a point where I need to decide what direction I want my business to go in. Etsy has grown so large that getting any business from within the site is difficult. Alchemy is a distant memory. They have added a gift guide at the top of every page. In one click, it takes buyers out of my shop to a guide where the Etsy administration hand picks items to feature. All through the Christmas season I looked through the guides hoping one of my sleeves would be featured but they were not . I bought on site ads but never garnered any sales. My (Etsy) sales were down 75% over the previous December
When two new laptop bag crafters from Europe joined, Etsy ran features on them both and placed their bags in the gift guides. Another seller makes and sells hundreds of laptop bags, bags she does not make She lists 10-12 items a day and frequently sells as many. If I don't list or relist at least 3 sleeves a day they are buried beneath the others within minutes. Paying for on site ads didn't work and I can't spend my day at the computer trying to snag a treasury or smoozing on the forums hoping other sellers will check out my shop.
Since I'm not getting customers from within Etsy , I need to go off site. I'm not sure it makes sense to do this, it's like leading them to my competitor's door. I don't mind competing on a level field, but it doesn't seem that way anymore. I know I'm not the only seller having these problems. The forums are filled with sellers complaining about the influx of mass produced or imported items. The vintage and supply categories are Etsy's top sellers Should I stay or should I go? Should I switch to vintage and sell off all the stuff I've been collecting ?

Friday, January 04, 2008

Happy New Year

Yes, it's been a very long time since I've posted here. I have barely been able to keep up with flickr. But new years is wonderful, the perfect time for a fresh start, so here I am back on the blog. I'm trying to stay optimistic about the future of just about everything. I will try to be more productive with my time and I've set some concrete goals to strive for as far as my business and craft skills go. Naomi designed a bookshelf/fabric storage area for me and Don is building it. Once it's finished I should be able to work on a project from start to finish without having to move every thing repeatedly. It also will give me a chance to destash.