Thursday, October 27, 2011

A Tripping Date

The world of quilters have a common passion for quilting and all that encompasses the craft, to produce their quilt. A store related to sewing will capture their imagination and stir excitement. A fabric, notions or quilt store is wonderful eye candy. Would you consider adding visits to such shops while travelling?

Travelling to another region within our homeland or abroad overseas, opens the door to explore new markets. Along with exploring the regular tourist destinations is the opportunity to inspire learning new quilting methods, patterns and designs or integration.

A couple of methods to locate these shops will require planning ahead of time. As we know, travelling starts with the destination. Including this information gathered ahead of time will make travel that much smoother and stress free. A few methods to locate shops:

 - Search engine, to bring up general highlights
 - Advanced search, use keywords for specific information
 - Yellowpages online
 - Online Directories, will list participating shop sites
 - Quilt Event Calendar plus your destination search
 - Quilters Directory book from local book store

Once you have your  shop list(s) compiled -take a few more steps. Visit the US Customs websites to learn what is allowed vs prohibited items to bring back home and the duties that will be required. Plan to find out early if the retailer can ship the item home for you as they may be more adept and knowledgeable with shipping brokers and customs. Ensure you gather all tracking forms and documentation. Exchange contact information for yourself and the retailer in the event there is damage or loss.

Planning ahead is always good advice to follow. One last stop before beginning your trip is to visit your FedEx, UPS sites. Explore the international costs of shipping home from your upcoming destination
point. As has been mentioned before about shipping -include your insurance costs.

The costs of international shipping may be high so consideration to budget must be followed. We must ask ourselves would I pay this price at home? is the over all cost worth it? Using a shipping service vs risk of lost
luggage is another factor to consider when packing purchased gifts in your suitcase.

Foresight and pre-preparation planning is important. Other sources of information may be found with;

 - Embassy newsletters
 - Tourist brochures
 - Flight/Cruise booking agent

A safe journey and enjoyable shopping will only be part of a trip but to have potential risks overseen will only make the experience so much better!

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Article(C)2011 GG9909, all rights reserved.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Quilt Fashion Sense

The rules of fashion is individual as each person in choosing their clothing style. History tells us that clothing has been been used to send the message of our place in society and express our identity without verbal communication necessary. Fashion trends are known to change when the style has saturated the market and ceases to be distinctive.

The world of sewing includes the fashion world therefore only natural that a touch of our quilting skills get added. This may be the simple addition of applying a applique, quilt blocks or embellisments with embroidery. Not everybody wants to follow the crowd of fashion trends so adding or creating our own finishing technique can help set us apart. Look at how the many music bands and singers will have their own fashion styles going on.

Quilt blocks can be added as decorative edging, insert, or a whole garment. Colors will coordinate, complement or add contrast and change the overall appearance. We can have clothes that are fun and playful, romantic, daring, conservative and whatever mood happens to inspire the creation. It's a process that's open to the imagination of the owner. Even people with no sewing skills will seek out somebody who can make the addition to their garment -same as the fashion designer assigns such tasks to the seamstress.

Applique designs are added atop as a layer to the garment and can be simple or complicated depending upon the effort one wants to apply. Appliques can be sewn by hand or machine and embellished with embroidery, fabric paint or beads for a extra decorative effect. Decorative embellishments such as the afore mentioned can again, be simple or complicated depending upon the effort one is willing to put into producing the finished product.

One project involving my joy of Crazy quilting -I up-cycle some skirts for myself,friends and family is with adding a crazy quilted ruffle to A-line skirts. This changes the length and I enjoy wearing semi -long skirts.  We know that crazy quilting can have a haphazard look therefore one will get a 'distinctive' appearance with the various shapes and colors. The addition of embroidery and other embellishments allows the 'artist' in me to get creative. I prefer not to add a lot of embellishments since I don't want the weight of the ruffle to have my skirt hanging wrong when wearing it!

Ruffles on a skirt come in different shapes and are easy to add. We can take any skirt with a ruffle pattern and convert it into a unique piece to call our own. Other gals admired my skirt and requested skirts of their own and each one is different and I don't have to worry about a 'duplicate' skirt to compete with my own. I use a very light fabric for the foundation to lay my crazy quilt fabrics and line the back before attaching it to the body of the skirt. Lining the back will hide my sewing and embroidery threads.

The profession of the clothing designer is competitive and associated with creativity and glamour. Who doesn't want to create their own 'haute couture' fashion statement that may lead to inspiring a trend? So go ahead, take a look around and see how you can set yourself apart with your own project and step out with your own personal fashion statement.

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Saturday, October 8, 2011

Strategies to Sell Handmade Crafts


Artists of all ages and diverse skills in creating handcrafted gifts can be found online in great numbers. Do you stop to look at the number of results, located under the search bar, after you typed in your query? Monitoring this number helps writers online with tailoring their articles with keywords for a better and competitive search engine results page (SERP). After all, who doesn't want to land on the first page of a search?

The next time you blog, use the search bar to find the result numbers for that search term (your title). Other methods include using a keyword search tool. The point is to keep an eye on the numbers for the keywords. We don't want to compete for a search query that has 3.5 million other sites using the same ones.

Shipping and Handling plus Insurance

I am sure we are all familiar with shipping and handling fee's that arise. Selling handmade crafts online requires paying attention to the cost of shipping our products which is usually done by weight. Ensuring against theft or damage requires adding insurance which will change the over all price of our products. Enquire at your local Post office, UPS and FedEx offices or online and get a copy of their prices. Work on calculating your numbers to ensure you can integrate a reasonable and fair price to earn a profit yet also cover this expenditure.

Direct Selling Methods

Art Shows, Fairs, Exhibitions, Flea markets, Craft Bazaars - offers you the opportunity for direct contact with customers. Costs will vary and have rental fee's for booth, table, commission, registration fees as well as indirect costs of travel, hotel, and gas. Bring lower priced craft gifts for extra sales. Hold a Draw at such 'n such time for attention to your booth (yes, worked for me!) Success can and is, found in using this method of selling handcrafted products. Ensure you have a budget in place to start this route.

Street Vendor - a few cities offer Vendor permits and locations for Vendors to sell to the public. You will need your own display supplies and props, patience and friendly presence. These permits can be found usually at your Town hall.

Home Party - advertise to the public, send invitations with a +1,2, and host a Gift party at your home (or others) to display and sell your products. Dress and act professional as this is a business affair for you. Include a contest or draw and use extra gifts for surprise prizes. Bring along smaller gifts with lower price to entice further sales. Always include your business card for prospective future contact.

Consignment - offer to let a store display and sell your product. This will require a contract with terms to protect you and the store and recommend visiting a lawyer for assistance. The store will display your product and upon purchase by a customer, monies owing to you are given and the store, get their own commission. General practice is the store will add an additional percentage on top of your asking price but practices may vary.

Payment Options - offering payment options is good for any business. Offer to rent, rent-to-own or layaway. Use a contract to ensure terms for all parties are included and recommend legal advice from a qualified lawyer. Provide this contract online for free download and snail mailed (regular postal service) to you.

Indirect Selling Methods

Blog - a Web log maintained by a writer usually to share and bring attention to their handcrafted products. It's important to learn about search engine result page (SERP), search engine optimization (SEO), generating traffic, social networking, linking and available web tools, like Google Analytics (FREE) to monitor your traffic. Learning these skills will help get your blog and YOU, noticed.

E-commerce store - there are quite a few good ecommerce sites online that are free but may include advertising until you upgrade your account. Prices will vary so ensure you find one within your budget. These sites will allow for displays, have a shopping cart, a blog, be part of a shopping mall, allow to include forums. Explore the available sites and their options. I would recommend one that requires annual fee's rather than monthly.

Social Networking - building contacts with people in related industries but not competing with you. Quilt wallhangings may be considered by Interior designers, bath products by spa providers, jewellery with costume designers and the list goes on. Make a list and brainstorm with friends, family, co-workers and even your Yellow Pages telephone book. Once you have a list then go online and look in directories, bookmark sites, and all available social network sites to again, get noticed.

I am sure there are many other ideas and I've only scratched the surface. Promoting aka marketing strategies is part of the process in running a business even if only part time. Selling handmade crafts is a $14B industry and helps many people offset and maintain their costs of living. I hope I've provided some inspiration in developing your own craft business.

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Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Sewing Chronicles

Sewing is the use of a thread and needle to stitch two pieces together forming one piece. Sewing has been around since the Prehistoric ages. I'm sure we are quite familiar with the fashions of the Homo sapiens neandertalensis, Cro magnon, Ardipithicus ramidus, Homo habilis and other homonids listed in the standard taxonomy of human evolution. We can always visit our local museum.

The types of 'thread' used varied from fibres, sinew, veins, and plants. Fibres were gathered from different parts of a plant such as bark, stem, leaf, husk, seeds, and even grass. Sinew and veins were gathered from animals. Unfortunately, very few samples from ancient civilisations have survived since natural fibers are perishable.

Needles were made with bone, ivory, wood, and thorns. They served only utilitarian purposes only. Some were made to serve more like awls and most likely to puncture tough materials such as bark and hides. Eyes in needles would not be invented until about 17,500 BC.

Today, Threads usually consist of two or more plys of yarn and twisted tightly
together. They are spun onto spools or cones and labelled with length, type of fiber, and name of the manufacturer along with the price. Some threads are made of basic cotton while others are used to match the fabric such as silk. Dyes provide us with every color possible but that's a different topic altogether.

Needles have also evolved to serve different functions. We will have beading needles for seed beads, upholstery needles, embroidery needles, yarn needles. Each needle will have their individual manufacturing process to withstand their designated use. Stitching by hand was done for thousands of years till the invention of the sewing machine (1845, Elias Howe & Singer) which changed the whole industry.

The world of Crazy quilts, embroidery evolved from sewing. As we know, sewing is stitching and embroidery is the use of decorative stitching and adding ornamentation. Embroidery adds a sense of quality and durability that no amount of printing or painting can achieve.

Hand embroidery can be expensive because it's time and labor intensive for the artist whereas costs are lower with the machine embroiderer and service is far quicker. The overall value of which type of embroidery is preferable - will be the personal choice of the customer.

I hope you found this article informative. Please feel free to leave your comments, share your own observations, share with others, link to me and give your Vote. Send a Email if you would like to place a Order today.