Facebook Like Button

Follow Me on Pinterest

twitter like button

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Tidying Up - Part 2

Clothes Donated
A few weeks back I told you all that I was starting the Great Purge of 2015 (please read that in the big booming announcer voice that I imagine in my head...dramatic pauses and all). You can read all about the start of things in this blog post here.

So it's update time...
We wound up donating 11 bags of clothes and shoes to the school! 11 bags of stuff just sitting in our house that we didn't wear, didn't fit or we didn't truly love. I suspect we could have filled a few more. What's exciting is that my husband got in on the plan too and finally went through some old tubs of things that he has been meaning to sort through I've been nagging him about for awhile.

A few of our 11 bags


Secondly,
My daughter has been able to keep her two spaces organized for 2 weeks. This is seriously more than amazing. I should take a picture of the rest of her room so that you have a basis of comparison, but I'd be too embarrassed for you to see it. Small victories here, people. 

Here is her closet after two weeks...


And her cubbies after two weeks...
We need to work on the new folding, but the fact that things are sorted according to type of clothing and you can still see what everything is is nothing short of incredible.


My son's was the last room I tackled and I folded his shirts like I had done mine, according to the KonMari method. We're only 2-3 days into the process for him, so no pats on the back for me here.
We'll see. If he can manage to keep this in order, it is proof that this woman is a genius and you should all run out and buy her book now. 


What I have learned these 2 weeks:
-I didn't love a lot of my wardrobe. I know that I mostly buy clothes as functional, body-covering pieces of fabric. That is a sad statement. I struggled mostly with getting rid of tired, sad-looking long sleeved t-shirts because I am always always always cold. But having a closet and drawers full of tired, sad-looking clothing makes for a tired and sad-looking person. So I gave myself permission to let go of those things (most of them were just tossed!) and to buy some new warm something or others when the time came next year. 

-I hold on to a lot of things because I think I might need them someday. But I get dressed everyday. So why do I want or need a closet full of things I might use someday and have to work around them everyday to get to the clothes I actually KNOW I do need. Silly...frustrating...time wasting...done. Those things went too.

-My kids actually like being able to find the clothes they love and to wear them. Genius! Instead of making them hold on to stuff I like and they don't (counter-productive) we kept the items they love to wear and donated the things they don't. And because of that, they were ok with the one or two items - a collared shirt for my son and a dress for my daughter - that they weren't crazy about but knew were necessary every once in a while to wear. 

The fabric cabinet is looking so much better too!!!! (one of the fabric cabinets. There are several. But now they are all filled with the fabric I truly love!)



The larger bins up top hold folded squares for the inner cash envelopes. The smaller bins are solid kona scraps for letters on cosmetic cases, and state silhouettes. The shelves below hold larger pieces of fabric, all arranged by color and ready to be used on all your orders!

And I have three rather large piles of fabric to send on to other homes. I'll be working on destash listings this week. There are bits of flannel, and corduroy and quilting cottons, and even some home decor stuff. I'll get them all sorted and arranged, and if you'd like to claim any - they will be available for a song! Well, mostly for shipping, but you get the idea.


Goals going forward:
1. Buy clothes that I actually, really truly love. Items that look good on me, fit properly, are made well and will last. They can still be practical and timeless so that they don't look ridiculous once a trend has passed, but well made items hold up better. They may be more expensive, but I'm going for quality over quantity from here on out. 

2. Learn how to make my favorite shirt. In The Purge, I came across a shirt that I absolutely love. And I've loved it to death. It has pulls and stains and it's just time to let go. And I'm sad. But guess what? I know how to sew!!! So, I am going to take apart my old shirt and learn how to duplicate it. And yes, I'll take you along for the ride, so more on that later.

3. Continue to look my clothes over honestly, and get rid of the things that don't spark joy. Life is too short. Let them go and give joy to someone else. There were lots of good things that we gave away. The hole-y, stained things we just tossed out, of course. But there were 11 bags of good pieces and they can now go on to spark joy for someone else. And that makes me happy too!

Next up - Books.
For this I am truly scared. We have more books than clothes. How do you get rid of BOOKS!!!! There are craft books and kids books, and teaching books, and course books from college - because everyone needs a copy of The Functional-Notional Approach, right? And magazines, and books I was supposed to read and haven't, and and and.....

But books is next on the list, and I've even cheated a little. There are 4 boxes of kid's picture books slated for giveaway already. We might be having the mother-lode yard sale here soon people!

I'm giving myself two weeks to go through all the books. And I'm telling you about that, so that I'll follow through. So, look for an update on that on Monday, May 18. Eeek!

Have you joined The Great (ate ate ate) Purge (urge urge urge) of 2015 (if-teen if-teen if-teen)? I'd love to hear about it!

:) allison







Sunday, April 19, 2015

Tidying Up

Welcome to the Great Purge of 2015

On a recent trip to Barnes and Noble, I came across this book: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, by Marie Kondo. While my kids spent a few minutes in the kids' section of the store, I started flipping through the pages and was kind of hooked.

I'm not going to lie. I'm a bit of a...mess. I don't intend to be. I don't like to be. I know that a straightened up home and work space is more conducive to a restful family life and productive career. But let's be honest - life is a moving target. And there are more days where we use our house as a place for clothing changes than anything else. We have two kids in elementary school with after school activities, a dog, and two full-time businesses that we run out of our home. Every working hour we spend working, and then the rest of the time is filled with meal prep, homework, sports and church events. Weekends come and we like to play, and often my husband is out of town on business. I look at our life, and then I read a book like this and I realize that the laundry list of excuses for our untidy home are just that, excuses. And unless I take some initiative to change that, I will be writing you in another few years and the story will be the same. You know how I know? Because I was talking about this very same thing in 2012 in this post.

So, back to Marie Kondo. She's kind of a genius. And don't let the soothing cover and quaint idea of "tidying up" fool you. In fact, given the chance I'd re-name the book Get Rid Of All the Stuff You Don't Absolutely Love to Make Room For the Stuff You Do. That might be a bit more accurate. And a bit scary. But possibly more liberating, I think.


I will admit, I was extremely skeptical. I have straightened up my house before. Organized. Purged. I have done the same to the sewing room. And every time, my work and home spaces have returned to their default stage of mess and clutter. I have tried. And I have failed. But Marie has claimed that her clients haven't. What was I doing wrong?

And then I remembered the little drawers upstairs in the sewing tower.


This is where I keep the linings for my cash envelopes. The top drawer has pre-cut pieces of interfacing and muslin for zipped pouches, and the lower drawer has larger pieces of muslin for the open envelopes. 

I "organized" this drawer months ago. Months. And it looks the same as the day I did it. No reverting back to clutter. It was so long ago, that I wasn't even on this quest yet, hadn't read this book yet and don't have a before picture. I just decided I needed a spot for some of my shop's most used supplies, cleared away everything that wasn't these three pieces, put them in and carried on. After every set of cash envelopes I make, I return these pieces to their assigned spot. They are there when I need them. If the drawer is empty, it means more pieces need to be cut. It's efficient, and professional and pleasing and stress-reducing. All of the things I hope to feel when working and living in my home. 

Can we call this my lightbulb moment, people?

Then along came Jen.

I have been working through this little book as well. It is the workbook companion to 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker. (sidebar: both books are about minimizing and have really long titles...tee hee) I had read her book by the same title a few years ago and loved it! Jen's writing style is very simlar to my inner monologue, only WAY more funny. And she challenges herself, and therefore the reader, to consider 7 aspects of life where we as Americans definitely tend to be more gluttonous. This workbook version helps you take it one step forward, encouraging you to find ways to give up the more more more approach to life in these 7 different areas. We have a lot of stuff. Too much stuff. And a lot of that stuff is stuff I don't need, want, use or love, and most can certainly better serve someone who does.


Since a lot of the areas of both "Tidying" and "7" overlap, and because of the tiny but significant success of "the drawer" I have decided to go forth and conquer the rest of our house and my workspace. Eek!

Coincidentally, our kids' school is doing a clothing donation on May 1. I have a time-line, I have a desire and I have a category to tackle.

So, here we go, here is the plan:
Go through our clothes (and my fabric) and get rid of everything that I am not going to use.

- Things that don't fit
- Things that are stained/ruined/ripped (WHY do I still have this stuff?! But I do)
- Things that I am never going to wear, let's be honest
- Things that were given to me that I feel obligated to hold on to
- Same goes for my kids' stuff
- Same goes for my fabric stash.


Here are some pictures to keep me motivated.
A closet organizer "before" I started. You guys....there's yarn in there. With my clothes. And stuff piled on top, because there wasn't room in there and no more hangers available.




The same closet organizer today. With two empty bins because the shirts that were crammed in there are either gone, or I had enough room in my drawers to fold them in there. And you can see empty hangers ready for things that need to be hung.



My sock drawer before...
I know...
There aren't words.


My sock drawer after. I have a lot. I'm not going to apologize for the things I love. And I love my sock collection. So.... (Marie has a lot of helpful hints about folding. And an interesting dialogue with her possessions, I must say. Different - but interesting.)


T-shirts. I have a lot of them too. And yes, most are in support of NY area teams, if you need to look away. Go Rangers!



Today we worked on my daughter's room. Oh how I wish wish wish I had taken a before picture. Let's just say there was another bar below this one and you couldn't see the floor. Now, she can actually find an outfit and get it out without a crowbar.



And her cubbies. I don't know that an 8 year old will be as careful with the piles, but the fact that each square has clearance at the top makes me happy for today.



Fabric. One of the bookshelves-full. Folded carefully and organized. 


And a purge pile. Coming to a destash listing soon. 



I know I am actually working in the head space of "things I'm not going to use." And I need to move more into the idea of "things I don't love." I'm aware. I'm working on it. But this is a start. And I give myself until May 1 to truly purge all the things that I don't love, don't "spark joy" and aren't useful in the clothing/fabric department of my life. I am going to teach and help my kids to do the same, and I'm going to encourage my husband to jump in too. I'm hoping that the end result provides us with organized closets and fabric supplies,  a large stack of usable clothes and fabrics to people who may need/want/love them and the encouragement we need to tackle the next item on the list.

If anyone out there is reading either or both of these books and would like to chime in, I'd love to hear from you! I think it's encouraging to hear about what others are doing and the success they are having.

:) allison


Sunday, April 12, 2015

Product Review - Overnight Travel Bag

Carry-on/Overnight Travel Bag

I don't normally review my own products. It's a little tacky, I suppose, to get on here and boast about the merits of something I made myself. However, I also don't normally make things for myself. Seeing as how my shop is mostly custom cash envelope systems these days with the occasional special order, I tend to make and ship most of what I produce. 

But I had a vacation coming up and a desire to make a large, functional carry-on bag that zipped shut and had tons of pockets for all my little bits and pieces. Combine that with a trip to Stitch N Sew, a mecca for all things fabric, and here's what happened...an upholstery-weight, fully interfaced and lined bag that is cram full with pockets of all shapes and sizes and has a vinyl bottom to protect against stains and scuffing. I was smitten!



It became a part of a larger collection of DLD items that we brought with us on the trip. (Clockwise from left: my son's backpack, the travel bag, an oilcloth bag, cosmetic case, travel cord wrap and dog breed clutch)


Here is a peek of her on the inside, the night before our flight. The oilcloth bag and my wallet (also DLD) sit nestled in open interior pockets while the wristlet bag and cord wrap lay comfortably upon a bed of magazines, a sweatshirt, my iPad and other this and that.


This vinyl bottom made it! The bag was a full 8" deep, and the vinyl creeped up all 4 sides, about 2.5" high. This made for a very sturdy bottom that kept its shape regardless of how full the bag was and kept all the yuck from the plane floor off the fabric of my bag. The vinyl also provides water resistance and wipes clean with a damp cloth if needed.


While on vacation, I thought I'd mostly use my dog silhouette clutch, but there were some days when the larger bag was required! You can see my clutch tucked in there, as well as the oilcloth pouch, 3 sack lunches and 2 juice bottles. And there was room to spare to store sweatshirts for the three of us as the day warmed up.


So what would I change?
There were a few things I would do differently going forward. The most significant change would be to the straps. I used strips of fabric on the front panel to secure the center pocket and then a separate strap for the handles. I think I would change this to one continuous strap. Without the joint at the front/top seam, there isn't as much stress on the strap and more of the weight of the bag is more evenly distributed. Think I would also use a grommet there for extra strength. It would dress it up as well, with a little hardware. 

Secondly, I would make a removable shoulder strap. These grab handles were great when the bag was sitting on the floor or tucked under the chair in front of me or stacked on top of my rolling luggage. They were admittedly a little cumbersome when trying to carry the bag when it was super full - on the trip home we had some souvenirs! So I think a shoulder strap that had the option to detach is a smart and useful move.

Lastly, I'd leave off the exterior side pockets (the solid green you see on the side above the vinyl) they weren't very usable. The bag would benefit more from another center pocket like the one seen on the front panel here, just on the other side. This pocket was perfect for tucking my phone and wallet when I needed to pull them out a bunch in the airport, and before I stored them more securely inside. 


The response to this bag was so overwhelming, I was really blown away! I truly intended to just share it as a "hey...look what I'm making for myself" kind of thing, but the feedback I got was so positive I may just start offering them in the shop as a custom order option.  Thank you so much for your support!

:) allison

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Kid Wallet

The Story of the Kid Wallet
A few month back, my son designed a wallet for himself. You can see his little drawing in the picture below, along with his completed wallet. 


Recently, he has been looking for some ways to earn extra money. I decided to create a job for him in the shop so that he could work for the money while at the same time learn a little bit about what I do and what it means to run an Etsy shop. 

First we did a little redesign on the wallet, improving some areas he wanted to see changed.

Next he helped select some fabrics to put together, starting with boy wallets because, in his words, there just aren't enough things in my shop for boys. He's right. Smart kid.

Then I had him take some pictures for me for Instagram.


The kid loves computers. And probably knows more than I do about using them already. So I put him in charge of adding a picture at the end of our listings that explained the wallet and the donation he'd be making with the sale of each one. $5 from each wallet goes toward helping with flood relief in Malawi.


He helped me add the listings to our Etsy shop, and diligently checked the site several times the first day to see if he had any views or customer questions or sales. Very professional. Very business-like.


After the first day, he did indeed have his first sale! And so I showed him how to print the invoice, write a personal note to his customer, package the wallet and mail it off.

This weekend, we planned out a few girl wallets and posted those as well.

And he was excited to put his $5 in the offering box for Malawi at church today.




:) allison

Monday, February 9, 2015

Travel Cord Wrap Winner

And the winner is....
Yeah, the Grammy's were last night. But I'm much more excited to tell you that the winner of the Travel Cord Wrap giveaway is Christina F. Congrats to Christina, and one more thank you to Stephanie for the great idea!

Stay tuned!
Last week, I put together a few ready to ship versions of the Cord Wrap. I will be making a few more and putting up the listings later this week. The ready to ship ones will be $36.00. If you'd like to customize the listing, and have input on the fabrics and colors used, the cost will be $41.00.

Here are a few pictures of ready to ship ones that will be available in the shop later this week.




Thank you to everyone who participated in the giveaway! I hope you all have a great week!

:) allison

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Travel Cord Wrap Giveaway

Giveaway time!
Hi everyone, I'd like to introduce you to the newest DLD item: The Travel Cord Wrap. It was an idea submitted by Stephanie C. during our 5th Annual Customer Design Contest last month, and received an overwhelming 74 votes! This past week, I've been working with Stephanie on the details that she was hoping for and the fabrics that she liked. Here is the final product. There is one there for Stephanie....and one for one of you! Read on to see how to enter!



Stephanie chose a subtle one-sided quilted gray upholstery fabric for the outside and a fun modern flower print called Aretha in Citron by Michael Miller that I picked up from Fresh squeezed Fabrics. You can see a sliver of it here on the cover detail. 


The roll is secured with a magnetic snap that you can see here. 



The midsection will house 4 USB-type cords (and a tape measure in a pinch.) These are from an iPhone, and a few Nooks. There is a Velcro tab in between each cord and a pearl snap on the end. 


The very end section of the roll is a zip compartment which you could use to house other smaller cords, splitters, the plugs that detach from the USB cords - whatever you need it for. 



Opened up all the way, the Travel Cord Wrap measures 6 1/2" tall and 25" wide.
Wrapped up, it is 6.75" wide.
At the stress points (the zipper, the magnetic snap, the Velcro tabs) it is reinforced with fusible interfacing. 



Like What You See?
Then enter to win!
Stephanie gets one for free for having the winning design! Hers is on the left. 
One lucky customer will win the one on the right!
All you need to do is enter in the Rafflecopter giveaway below. There are several ways to enter...pick the ones that work for you...the more avenues you choose, the more chances you'll have of winning! 


Rules:
1. The contest runs from Monday, February 2 - midnight of Monday, February 9. 
2. You may enter one way or all of the ways listed.
3. At the close of the entry time frame, I will use Rafflecopter to randomly select a winner.
4. The winner's winning entry will be verified. For instance, you actually need to retweet to be given credit for retweeting, etc. ;)
5. The winner will be announced on Monday, February 9th via email and on the DLD page on Facebook. 
6. Contest open to all DLD fans, however, if the winner is outside of the US, winner must pay shipping.

Ways to enter:
Choose the entry that works for you. You can enter one way or all the ways. You will need to travel to some or all of DLD's social media links and spread the love. Then you'll need to return here and document the ways you entered in the Rafflecopter entry form below. 

1. Follow the blog via email: Find the "Follow via email" box here on the blog - in the right margin. It looks like this:

Enter an email where you would like to receive info from DLD, and hit submit. You will get a confirmation email - it might wind up in your spam folder. Confirm your submission and you're set. Only confirmed emails are valid. If you are already a confirmed follower, you're set too! You will also be added to my monthly newsletter which will give you first looks and exclusive coupons from time to time. :)

2. Publicaly share on Facebook. 
Head over to the DLD Facebook page. Pinned to the top spot on the newsfeed is the official giveaway photo, and is what you'll also be looking for on the other platforms. Click on the share button. You'll notice you're about to share with your friends. Click on that little "friends" button and change it over to public - just for this post. Then I can see that you shared! 


3. Repin on Pinterest. 
Look for the giveaway photo on my Pinterest account. Repin.

4. Retweet on Twitter:
Look for the giveaway photo on the the DLD Twitter feed. Retweet.

5. Tag a friend on the Instagram photo. 
Find the giveaway photo on the DLD Instagram account. Tag a friend you think might be interested

Please remember the entry isn't official until it's in the Rafflecopter entry form below. Please ask if you have questions - I really want everyone who wants to participate to be able to. :)

While the contest is running, I will be making a batch of first generation ready to ship Travel Cord Wraps for the Etsy shop. They will be listed next Monday. Good luck everyone and thank you again to Stephanie!

:) allison





Sunday, January 25, 2015

Valentine Tutorial

Congratulations!
To Stephanie C. whose Travel Cord Wrap idea won the 5th Annual Customer Design Contest. I will be working with Stephanie the next few weeks, developing a prototype and picking some fun fabrics and then it will be available in the shop for purchase! Stephanie will receive one for free AND one other fan will receive a free one so stay tuned for details!

In The Meantime...
Let's make something together!
This cute heart door hanger is the perfect size for leaving a small treat for your Valentine, give a present to your child's teacher or make as part of your Valentine holiday decor. You can make it with or without the hanger, use them as bowl fillers, sit one or more up on a shelf, lean it against some throw pillows...wherever you'd like to tuck in a little love. Below is a tutorial for making one, and a link to the paper pattern if you don't want to draw one for yourself.


Supplies:
You will need
-1 piece of fabric for the main heart piece. It should be 10" tall and 16" wide. (the cherry fabric)
-1 piece of fabric for the pocket. It should be 7" tall and 6" wide (the red and white dot)
-Fiberfill
-A disappearing fabric ink pen
-Craft wire, if you like, or pretty ribbon, or pearl cotton - anything you want to use for the hanger if you're making one. Craft wire holds the shape best obviously, but if you don't also have wire cutters, and small grommets...you might want to use something else.
-other basic sewing supplies, pins, sharp scissors, a gauge or ruler, iron and ironing board, thread, etc.


Start with the pocket piece.
Place it right-side down on the ironing board, with one of the short sides at the top.
Using a gauge or ruler, fold the top edge down 1/2" and iron as seen in the picture.


Then, open the crease you just made, and tuck the raw edge up to the ironed crease.
Hold it in place with your finger, and iron again.
Stitch your hemmed edge down, close to the lower fold. If you want to sew from the backside, so you're sure you catch the hem, that's totally fine.


Take the larger, 10X16 piece and fold it, right sides of the fabric together, so that you now have a 10" tall by 8" wide rectangle.
Keeping the fabric folded, draw a large (larger than you want it to be when it's finished) heart.
You can make a symmetrical heart...or I did an oblong one with a little quirk to it. I drew it out on card stock first and cut it out then traced around it with my disappearing ink fabric marker. Don't want to draw one yourself? The pattern piece is available as a PDF here in my Etsy shop.

Once you've traced the heart, keep the fabric folded and cut along the traced lines. You'll have two hearts.



Decide which heart half you like best as the front.
Lay it down in front of you with the right side of the fabric facing up.
Lay the pocket piece on top of it, about 1/3 of the way down, right side up.
The side edges of the pocket need to cover the side edges of the heart.
The hemmed edge of the pocket should be at the top.
See in my picture how the entire bottom 2/3 of my heart is covered?
Then pin the pocket in place.


Lay the back of the heart, right side down on top of the pocket.
Line up all your edges and pin.
You will have a pocket sandwich.
You can sew it this way, but if you feel more comfortable, you can also trim away the excess pocket pieces that stick out beyond the heart edges. Your call.


Leave a 1" - 1 1/2" opening near the top, and stitch all the way around the heart, using a 1/4" seam.
In my picture here, I left the opening on the top right side, where it's most straight, and not part of the pocket.
Clip the curves of the heart, and the bottom.
Very carefully, cut close to the "V" in the center of the heart.
On all these cuts, make sure you don't cut through any of your stitches.


Through the opening you left, pull the heart around to the right side.
Push out all your curves, and press.
Using the opening again, fill the heart with fiberfill to desired stuff-ness.


Now you can either hand-stitch or machine-stitch your opening closed.


If you are not going to hang your heart, you're done!

If you choose to hang the heart, you can use a needle and decorative thread or thin ribbon to push through the top two curves of the heart. Tie a knot in each end and you're done.

I used craft wire and small grommets.
If you choose to do the same, start a hole with a thicker hand-sewing needle.
Then use very sharp, precise scissors to make the hole large enough to accommodate the grommet shaft.
Next push the grommet from front to back through the hole.
Last, use the grommet setting tool and a hammer to set your grommet.
Cut 15" of wire. Thread through your grommet holes and turn up the ends.
(You can also use the wire without the grommets - I've done that before too.



If you feel like, you can tear off a scrap of coordinating fabric and tie it around your hanger.
It looks cute and helps cover your closing stitches.


If you decide to make one of these, I'd love to hear about it!
Let me know if you have any questions!

:) allison