Thursday, May 26, 2011

Flickr - FraybabyBibsandMore

DSC04498Snack time setPatchwork ribbon loveySnack time setSnack time setGrab & Go changing set
Just wanted to pass along my flickr photostream. I try to keep it fairly updated.

Monday, May 23, 2011

The sewing room

We're here! We're unpacked! And the sewing room is set up and back open for business. (Head over to the FrayBabyBibsandMore fan page on FB to shop and see all the new items). The set up of our house is fantastic and we have a finished basement with a spare room (complete with closet) that has been transformed into my sewing room. I have already started sewing so ignore the piles of fabric on the floor and already messy stacks of fabric while I take you on a tour of my little space.
The view from the doorway, the white door you see in the pic is a closet door.

The grid wall of fabric, ironing board to the right and a useful ledge shelf that runs along that entire wall.

The closet holds all my scrap fabrics, ribbon bin, holiday fabrics (top shelf), blank onesies and tees & finished items hang on the rod.

Sewing table (1 machine on each side), sparse bow boards (don't worry, bows on the way to fill those up!) and my tall shelf.

View from the closet - window to the backyard so I can peek on the kids when they are playing outside.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

How do I do what I do

"I want to know how you do it?! Like, do you do assembly line, individual, etc. I have two kids too, love to sew, but would never have the time to keep them entertained and get work done. Are you up till all hours, etc."
"I want to know how you get it all done? Does the little one go to daycare/preschool? I'm amazed at how quickly you get things done and shipped out!"
Granola & milk: the newest hair trend

These are some of the questions that I get asked fairly regularly. How do I do it all? Well, for awhile I felt like I didn't. And even now I know that I still don't but have earned a "much improved." I loved the boom in business but it became a 24/7 kind of thing. I think most self employed people feel that way, especially at first, that your business consumes you and you become overworked, stressed and you realize you are neglecting everything else in your life. Clean house? What is that? Reading a book with little man? Oh crap, when was the last time I did that? Teach Destructo her ABCs? Uhhhhh.....Chick-fil-a for dinner anyone? In the beginning, there was chaos. And now, there's a lot more calm. 
My kiddos are age 5 (pre-K) and age 2 (no daycare or preschool, she hangs with her momma). 
A typical day for me is getting little man to pre-K and letting Destructo have rein of the house. I always have my sewing room in a central location (in our last house it was the dining room turned into sewing room/office and in this house it will be in a room right next to the downstairs den/play room.) so I can see and hear what is going on and so I can stop whenever I want or need.  Destructo has a great imagination and gets lost in her own little world so she actually is quite happy eating breakfast and then digging through the toy box, putting together puzzles and flipping through books while I work. In the morning I try to work at least 2 hours and then stop to clean, play, eat lunch and run errands. Nap time is around 1pm and while she naps, I work. I pick up little man from school around 3pm and the kids head out in the (fenced in) backyard to play and I sneak in 1 more hour to work. That is usually the last hour of the day that I sew and I stop to spend time with the family, get dinner ready, throw in some laundry or whatever else needs to be done. In the evening is usually when I get invoices sent, pictures posted, shipping labels printed and emails responded to since I can do all of that from the convenience of my laptop while I'm parked on the couch watching American Idol next to my hubby. When I am slammed with orders, I usually take an hour after the kids go to bed to prep for the next day - cut fabric, pin fabric, iron fabric, etc. I USED to be up all hours, working, working, working but after awhile I decided that I am more productive on a good night's sleep and I don't burn out as quickly when I am not working all day long.
Recap: work 8:30am to 10:30am, 1pm to 3pm and 3:30pm to 4:30pm. Invoice, email, ship and post pics in the evening. Sometimes work 8:30pm to 9:30pm. 
Do I assembly line work? Well, when 95% of your business is custom order you can't assembly line in the traditional sense of the word (making multiples of the same item) but I can streamline the process. I can cut out the fabric for all the pillowcase dresses, all the banded pillowcase dresses and all the fit and flair dresses at the same time and prep them the same way (finishing the edges, ironing, making bias tape for armholes), I can cut out all ruffles for all orders at the same time and take a chunk of time finishing their edged, ironing them and gathering them. When I get an order for a snack bag, I don't just cut out 1 bag, I cut out at least 3. I try to always make extra items so I get a nice stock of items for local customers to look at or for a ready to ship sale.
I've been doing this for awhile now so I have a good sense of how quickly I can get things done. I take a break when I need to and communicate with my customers as often as I can so everyone feels like they are in the know. I am easily accessible and I'm pretty normal which is a huge plus (don't underestimate the importance of normalcy, being friendly and just downright decent). ;) 
Not all days go so smooth. Sometimes I'm on a time crunch, sometimes I have a bunch of rush orders that come in and sometimes I just don't feel like sewing and I stay away from the sewing machine for a day or so. I have to stop and re-prioritize every once in awhile and make sure my house gets cleaned and the Mt. Vesuvios of laundry actually gets put away. When I start to feel like my sewing is taking away time from my kids I make sure I get on the floor and play with them, dance around to Ralph's World with them and read and extra book or two at bedtime to them. And every once in awhile my husband has to threaten to shred fabrics and vandalize machines for me to STOP.  But I'm sure it's like that for any crafter who loves their job. It is easy to get lost in it.

Friday, May 13, 2011

On the road (half way there)

Hangin' in the bed of a pickup truck. Yee-haw!!
Half way there! It's been a crazy past couple of days and NOT because of our move. For those of you who are following, we are in the middle of a move from Lubbock, Texas to Leavenworth, Kansas. Our packers arrived on Tuesday morning. We were exhausted after a long night of our youngest throwing up all night due to what we thought was food poisoning. The packers packed up our house all day long and returned the next day to finish up the job. I woke up Wednesday morning exhausted and by 3pm my son and I were victims of the worst stomach bug I have ever had. And guess who got it 6 hours later? My husband. And guess who was going to be at our house 8am Thursday morning? The movers to load the truck. We made it through the night (barely) and managed to get the house cleared out by Thursday evening. We checked into a local hotel and watched American Idol (what?!? James is out?!? outrage!) and I discovered that although our hotel had 102 other channels, they did not have carry ABC so I did not get to see Grey's Anatomy. On the upside we all passed out at 9:15pm and didn't move a muscle until 6:45am. 9 1/2 hours of sleepy time bliss. I can't remember the last time I've had that kind of sleep! :)
It took quite awhile to clean the house this morning before we cleared out. And the trip to Oklahoma City took about 7 hours with the pit stops along the way. But now we are settled in our hotel, flipping through the channels ("what kind of idiot puts CSPAN on channel 7? who would do that?", says my hubs), the kids are in bed and I am about to go kick the a/c unit because it is rattling and humming OUT OF CONTROL.
We are Kansas-bound tomorrow and I'm excited to check out our new locale! I'll keep everyone updated as to when our stuff shows up and when I get the sewing room up and loaded and am back open for business. I've had some great questions sent to me that I'll try to post answers to on this blog through out the weekend and early next week. Hope you are getting your lists ready because when I open back up, it's game ON and I can't wait! :)

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Tutorials for beginner seamstressses

This is a quick and easy tutorial with LOTS of instructions and steps which may be too informative for people who already know how to sew but if you are just beginning, this is perfect. A ribbon "taggie" blanket is perfect for those of you with a huge ribbon stash as well. Start making them for baby gifts!
Melissa Sews

The Prudent Baby has an excellent tutorial (actually, multiple tutorials) for a simple baby blanket. It is a great project for a beginner and so rewarding to have made your own adorable blankie! One hint: she mentions making your own bias tape for the binding of the blanket (and includes a tutorial link to do it) but if you really don't want to make your own bias tape you can buy it already made at your local sewing store - make sure you get the double fold bias tape. When you make your own bias tape it can be made with any fabric so you have a variety of colors and patterns to choose from which personalizes the blanket. Store bought bias tape isn't nearly as pretty (mostly solid colors) but is easy and quick when you are first starting out.
The Prudent Baby

Another always popular item that is fun to make for beginners and is fun for your kids as well is a crayon roll! The Pleated Poppy has an excellent tutorial that is full of pictures and super easy to follow.
The Pleated Poppy

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Packing up and moving out

It's been a pack-a-thon over here. 4 ladies showed up to our house at 9am this morning and they have ROCKED it. They are the speediest packing crew we've ever had. In less than 7 hours they have packed up both the kids rooms, the bathroom, the family room, the kitchen, my insane sewing room and are starting on the master bedroom right now with 2 more hours left in their work day. Tomorrow they pack up all the bedding that we kept out to sleep on tonight, box up mattresses, do a quick pack of the laundry room and pack up the odds and ends in the garage. On Thursday the muscles of the operation arrive (well, I'm assuming that some big guns will show up. As impressive as these ladies are at packing at warp speed, somehow I don't see them slinging dressers over their head and carrying them out) to load up the moving truck on on Friday we clear out of our house. It's exciting!
I took some pics of the progress. I am liking the stark look of a boxed up house and wondering if Leavenworth will end up being the benefactor of a big Goodwill drop off.

Remember this?

It is now this:

AND, there are 6 more huge boxes in the family room that are marked as "MATERIAL", oh my. Hannah got in on the fun while Luke was at school and tried her hand at hauling around packing paper and boxes.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Wiped out

I've been cleaning since I woke up this morning. The movers arrive tomorrow morning to start packing us up and I'm in overdrive. Laundry, vacuum, pack suitcases, dust blinds and windowsills, start yet another Goodwill bag, clean bathrooms, more laundry AND....the sewing room. I've been packing up bows, sacking up scraps, gathering up pins, finishing up projects and clearing off surfaces. I think it's almost ready for the movers. The goal is for them to have some sort or order when they pack up the room so they aren't throwing ribbon in with spools of thread and pinned baby bibs and velcro. It went from this
to this

While I was working the kids were playing. I heard them running around, laughing and jumping on the beds. Luke found a calculator and started testing my mad math skills while I cleaned. I finished up some paperwork on my desk and we walked out of the sewing room to this -

if you thought cleaning was hard work, playing is harder. :)

Going back to my roots (bibs and more)

Way back when I first started sewing, I was making mostly baby items. It was around 2006/2007 when raw edge (frayed) items were in. I had a lot of requests for the frayed edge burp cloths and lovies and in 2008 when I decided to open an Etsy shop, those little frayed items ended up becoming a part of my shop name. (Sidenote: Do you know how hard it is to come up with a shop name? Now that I have been FrayBabyBibsandMore for over 3 years, I finally had a shop name pop into my head that I would love to use but can you really just rename your entire shop? Would there be an uprising? A protest? Would I be known as "you know, that girl who used to be FrayBaby".)
Moving on, NEXT SUNDAY, May 15th, Roo over at NiceGirlNotes is having a Cute Stuff Sale and I am a part of it. AND she asked me to focus on the baby stuff so I did and I've had so much fun going back to my roots and making batches of cute baby items. I will still have a dress or two in her sale but the majority of the items will be revamped baby goodies - handy dandy diaper pouches that clip onto bags or strollers, grab and go sets and matching bib/snack bag sets!
Grab & Go diaper pouches
Check out the official post with the shop list (100 items for sale! Eeeee!) so you can check out ALL the goodies and be ready at 8pm EST on Friday because when it's on, it's ON.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

It's all about perspective

Eh-yo. In preparation for this big move of ours, I have been trying to clear out the old by sewing like a mad woman AND selling fabric like crazy. I've been pulling the prints that I no longer enjoy looking at or that I've had for awhile, I've been taking yards, remnants and scraps to goodwill with every household item drop off. And I thought that I was doing a pretty good job clearing fabric out. I mean, my bins and grid wall were OVERFLOWING and fabric was taking over the floor. I was starting to become a little paranoid and thinking that small children might get lost if they happen to wander in so I pulled, sorted, folded and purged and now most of the fabric is contained in those bins and compartments. I was proud of myself. Until I found this picture: 19 wire grid cubes full of fabric And omg. I can see my floor, I can see the top of the grid wall. I can see the nice little fabric piles. and people were all "oooo, look at all the fabric", "I love it, I wish I could come over and pick out my fabrics!", "WOW, THAT IS SO MUCH FABRIC!!" And now I am ashamed and a little scared to post the latest picture of this very same wall. Maybe I should tidy up and retake the picture. Oh man. (do it! do it!) Gah. Okay. Here (gulp) is my fabric collection now. 14 months later. DSC04068 See? Perspective. Now THAT is a lot of fabric. ;) (Did you scream in horror?)

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Leaving the Heart (of Texas)

And we're off! Well, soon anyway. My husband has finished up grad school at Texas Tech University and it is time to get back to Army life. We are headed to Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas next week and despite our local friends saying "oh, you're going from worse to worse" and "what?!? from Hawaii to Germany to Lubbock to Kansas? what did you guys do wrong?", we are excited. We had a great time in West Texas. Who wouldn't? Oil derricks, jack rabbits, tumbleweeds and West Texas dirt blowing in the wind. We went to a rodeo, the South Plains fair, drove to San Antonio more than once and took a road trip down to Galveston. Oh and how can I forget the tamales?!? I will surely miss the tamales. And now we look forward to Kansas. Hmmm...flat. farms. tornadoes. AUNTIE EM! AUNTIE EM! I kid, I kid. We are excited about a new city, a new house, professional sports teams, being within driving distance of St. Louis and the direct flight out of Kansas City to Nashville and Atlanta, because let's face it, with 2 kids under the age of 6, non stop flights make air travel 98% better and a helluva lot more likely.

And now for the breakdown. I know not everyone sees every post on Facebook and some customers don't even have a clue that I am moving and will be temporarily closed for a couple of week. I want to post the schedule for your reference. Feel free to pass along the info.

MAY 10-12 - movers come and pack up everything we own. I'll have to act fast to make sure they don't load up the suitcases full of clothes we need for our hotel living for the following week.

MAY 13th - we clear our house and have one last night in Lubbock.

MAY 14th - on the road to Oklahoma City, Oklahoma for the night.

MAY 15th - on the road to Leavenworth, Kansas to get the keys to our new house

MAY 16-23rd - sit in empty house and wait for movers to arrive.

Sometime after May 23rd I will reopen from my fabulous new sewing room in the fabulous city of Leavenworth, Kansas. And I hope to see you then. :)

Friday, May 6, 2011

It's Gonna be a Throwdown! (Shoppers Gonna Shop)

A little over a month ago I was introduced to NiceGirlNotes on Facebook. Roo is the mastermind and comedian behind NiceGirlNotes. Through the Etsy Homefront Team (military spouses), I heard there was a Cute Stuff Sale going on at Roo's page so I went over to check it out. Cute Stuff Sale? A sale put on by Roo with multiple Etsy shops, all items $20 or less (shipping included) and then? A coupon to use at ALL the shops that were part of the sale, just in case you missed out on an item or two that you were after. The pace - FAST. The item - AMAZING. You have to get there quick, stake out a spot overnight (okay, okay, just start stalking the page 5 minutes before it's go time), copy your email address or choice phrase so all you have to do is CTRL+V to do a quick heart racing paste and cross your fingers that you are the chosen one. Seriously, it's bananas over there! (Don't believe me? Check out the aftermath for yourself ) SO SO SO....WHO, you ask, will be participating in the next Cute Stuff Sale? Well, I dunno about the other shops but I AM!! Mark your calenders for May 15th and stalk NiceGirlNotes on Facebook and even better, follow her blog because she is a fantastic writer, hilarious, a baller and she's crafty! (Check out those tutes on making a dollhouse out of old drawers and quiet time activity bins - genius.) Now, wanna see my cute stuff?

DSC0390414113_414731916053_85829111053_5211891_3243464_nDSC03586DSC02508DSC03674 P1010860P1010137 I still have to decide what items I want to put in the sale. I have a few ideas including some baby accessories! Hope to see you there!