Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Snooze Out For Summer

So last night I watched "Smooth Talk," the movie based on the Joyce Carol Oates short story "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been." I'm showing it in class today. I'm gonna have to say the book was better, but there are some stunning acting moments (both stunningly good and stunningly bad) and family moments in the movie that are not in the story (and that the story does not miss). I'm hoping that we will have some vibrant discussion about it, if only for a few minutes.

This morning, after I'd carefully selected the "snooze" option on my phone's alarm clock more than a couple times, I fell back to sleep and had a dream that I was waking up in class. Like, with the whole class assembled. There I was, sound asleep, and nobody in the class bothered to give me a little nudge. I looked at the clock and it was already 1:05. I hurried over and tried to figure out how to work the DVD player of my dream.

This is all to say I did not get up early today.

But, yesterday was a good bagging day: I deleted a bunch of pictures on the lappy so new pictures will fit, I finished 3 zippies (I think?) and stitched the zippers (which involves lining up the outer fabric, the lining fabric, and the zipper, sewing, ironing, and top-stitching both sides--still working on a more concise verb for that process) for another 3. I have to say, when I ordered "lime" zippers, I was not expecting them to glow in the dark--as you can see, they don't photograph like construction vests--but they are working out in a cool and unexpected way.

I counted yesterday and I'm up to 30 zippies, including the 10 or 12 new ones from the last week or so. This is great: I have only 20 more to make to meet my goal for the July show. Maybe I have learned my lesson: staying up until midnight and then tossing around for another hour is not a good way to be sun-shiney at 6. Before The Pie was born, I would get up by 5 or 5:30 every day and hit the sewing machine. I'm not sure what it's going to take to get back to that kind of diligence! Maybe an air-horn...

Monday, April 12, 2010

Where in the World have I Gone? know, vicariously, through the stuff I've made?

I have wanted to buy a map of the world and pin the cities where my bag creations (I nearly said "bag children" right then, and that is just not right) reside. It was a thrill when I got my first international order--Seat is definitely better traveled than I am!

So, here's my list of states and countries so far (and thank you for this little indulgence):

London, England
New Jersey
West Virginia
Lisboa, Portugal
Haifa, Israel
North Dakota
North Carolina
Vancouver, BC, Canada
Washington, DC
New Mexico
New York
Texas be continued!

In other news: 4 new pouches finished and photographed. Very cute birds on perches fabric, and one random, wonderful surprise combination.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

A New Leaf in Seat of My Pants?

That sounds terribly uncomfortable, doesn't it?

So for the 3rd summer this year I am doing the Folger Home Summer Market show in Avon Lake. I have been planning projects and buying up supplies--fob hardware, zippers, purse frames, the most adorable birdie fabric (among several others). I decided that some sort of reporting on my SOMP productivity might help me rise before my children and get something accomplished. I'm hoping this will be a couple-times-a-week thing, at least while classes are still happening (just 3 weeks to go, and I will have survived my first year of teaching college!).

Among other things, I'm hoping to make 30 new zippies, 10 medium totes, a handful of frame purses, some thumb drive keychain thingees (a better name is in the works), about 100 fobs (these are super-easy and a big hit at shows!), and some calendar covers. And of course, the second I get that list in writing last week, I get the urge to figure out how to make zippered accordion wallets... I'll keep you posted on that front.

This week so far I have completed 4 zippies--Amy Butler Wallflower and Full Moon Dots in cherry (love these!), and I cut fabric and sewed zippers for 4 others. I'm hoping to get those other 4 finished today, maybe, and posted in the shop this week.

There. A goal, a report.

This is not just about me running a successful small home business. It's about me getting out of bed and getting something accomplished before my CEOs wake up, feeling like I've done something that fulfills the creative part of my soul before the mothering part of it takes over for the day.

Don't get me wrong though--if I did not have kids, I would not even know how to make bags. I didn't even figure out how to make a bag until our son was 6 months old. Our kids have freed up my creativity in ways I did not see coming (grad school, bag business), and I am really thankful for that. So now to do something on a regular basis about it...

Thursday, March 4, 2010

It's been a while, hasn't it.

The short story: Shortly after I finished up being an MFA student at Ashland University, they hired me to teach a little composition. I feel extremely fortunate to have a job in my field (sort of--we do discuss poetry sometimes), though my working part-time has been a huge transition for our family (and also for my sewing schedule... and blogging schedule... and life schedule, evidently).

Why am I popping in now? Because the other day I got a convo from a fellow Etsian, Sarah, who is organizing an auction for her friend Katie, and I want to get the word out. Says Sarah:

Katie was diagnosed with lymphoma a little over a year ago. She's not letting this thing kick her and she's doing everything she can to fight back with a strength and determination that is just inspiring. Unwilling to let it change her life, Katie still travels, sees friends, works, and lives the most normal life possible under the circumstances. Rather than let it get her down, she'll take a chemo treatment and then head off to a weekend with friends if she wants to. In October we went to a party together and despite the fact that she'd taken chemo that afternoon and was in incredible pain, she was the one pulling me out onto the dance
floor. She's just not going to let cancer stop her. It's really amazing to watch. Katie's husband is a musician, and Katie is a freelance artist. Medical bills are piling up and the cost of medicine alone is overwhelming. We don't want them to have to choose between medicine and food.

So, we're stepping in to help. The basic concept of our event is to hold a huge silent auction to benefit Katie. 100% of the proceeds will go directly to her medical bills. The auction will take place online, a few weeks from now. Right now we are trying to gather donations of items for the auction itself.

And here is the zippy I made for the auction. (Note the sunny day in the background. Spring is coming!)

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

My 2nd Etsy Birthday

Today's my 2nd Etsy birthday! It is hard to believe, a little, that almost every day for the last 2 years I've checked in at to see what's going on in the handmade circle there. I've met a handful of former Etsians, and I've networked my way into a couple pretty cool show venues. That's exciting! But the most happy part of this day is pondering the sheer knowledge I've gleaned since I began bagging about 3 years ago: selecting fabrics, mitered corners, finished seams, awesome straps, really straight zippers, new fabulous and functional designs. Whee!

A friend of mine yesterday told me that he wasn't sure how kids impact a person's writing career, since they almost always need you to do something like peel an orange, and that kind of constant tending to interrupts the writing process. True enough. At the same time, had we not had our son, there's no way I would have even considered going to grad school to get my MFA: I was a teacher, and I had to teach. Which meant I was not really writing with any seriousness, and also that I was not reading Poets & Writers and wouldn't have stumbled upon Ashland University's MFA ad. Additionally, had I not decided to stay at home with the kiddos for so long, I would not have had the actual time, even after bedtime, to pursue crafting in any serious way. So really, in a way I don't entirely get, our kids have given me 2 of the biggest creative opportunities of my life.

So to celebrate, today I'm offering free shipping on any order from my Etsy shop.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

How Far By the Seat Of My Pants!

I'm about to update my shop profile, and I thought it would be appropriate to comment on my first Etsy profile.

I grew up in Cleveland, Ohio. After college, I found myself living in Wooster, Ohio, where my college sweetheart and I were married in 2003. I taught English and writing in area schools for 3.5 years before our sweet curly-haired son was born. When he was a year old, I returned to teach one more class in the high school setting.

I love being at home with my little guy now. I can't imagine it being any other way, and I know we are fortunate to be able to raise him this way.

* His hair has turned out to be more wavy than curly--I'm sure that won't drive him crazy when he gets older. And he has a sister, who is 9.5 months old. They get along swimmingly! Recently I've taken on a couple at-home jobs: freelance writing for and serving on a volunteer basis as an associate editor of The Artful Dodge.

Since I don't give homework anymore, I have some time to fill (you know, naptime, bedtime...), and I fill it with and grad school courses. In 2 years, I plan to graduate with my MFA in creative writing. Who knows where SeatOfMyPants will be then?

* Ha! I think the big guy must have stopped napping altogether about 5 minutes after I wrote that! He hangs out with me in the workshop while the babe naps, though, which works out well most of the time.

And the end of those 2 years is upon us! My thesis is Bloomington Avenue, a book of poems, and as I've mentioned here before, my reading and defense is July 31. I am SO glad to have been a part of the MFA program--I thought I knew a lot about poetry when I started, and I have learned so much more. I hope to get on board at a college to teach some creative writing.

As far as where SeatOfMyPants is now--if my estimation is worth anything, I have made over 200 bags of various sizes in the last 2 years. Here's another area where I have gained mountains of knowledge! It's amazing what a vintage resale shop sewing machine can do once you get to know its intricacies.

My hobbies besides mommying and sewing include reading, writing, swimming feebly, hanging out with my husband, taking and enjoying photos, and playing the piano. I also love home improvement projects and paint your own pottery places.

* ::sigh:: I haven't been to a paint your own pottery place in ages... sadly... in place of swimming I now have bike riding, and in place of playing the piano, I have being climbed on when I attempt to play the piano. Reading and writing remain solidly.

My favorite food is one I can't buy in Wooster: pierogis! Yes, pierogis, the things I miss most about Cleveland, besides my buds from high school and public transportation.

* Oh fine, you CAN buy them here after all, but frozen does not begin to compare. Can you even CALL those pierogis? We had some mind-bendingly beautiful pierogi in Chicago this spring. They began to compare.

I always dreamed of having my own business--I never thought it would start out as easily as sending an email to all my friends and posting pictures on I'm so glad to have found Etsy. I hope you enjoy my shop!

* I've given this a lot of thought. This spring I applied for and was not offered a high school teaching job. I had prayed all along that if it wasn't the job for me--that if I was to be doing something else (like making bags for people), the job wouldn't even be offered. When it wasn't, I prayed again, something like, "OK, God, I hear you--but if this is going to work, I'm going to need some customers." And you know what? They have been steady since then. Since I started saving for the big guy's preschool costs no more than a month ago, I have saved over $500--that is 6 months of tuition--profits only!--and it's only June.

And I HAVE always wanted to have my own business! In the 1st grade, I tried to sell tent-making instructions. Throughout elementary school, I opened my own beauty salon (complete with a gigantic sign on our front porch that announced "SALOON" to the neighborhood), my greeting card business--J & J Cards, run with my buddy from day care--oh, and my bracelet making business (I even typed up order forms--on a TYPEWRITER--and brought a box to my 8th grade classroom)--and a handful of others, too. So it's fitting that I'm where I am now.

Starting out was easy. Anybody can open an Etsy shop. Now I know that it takes awesome pictures, a good network--real-life and online--of friends and fans, CONSTANT sewing--and for me, a tremendously supportive family and a prayer--literally!--to make it work.

So here's SeatOfMyPants--


--and now!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

A Fun Feature!

I've been posting about 3 items a day in my shop for the last few weeks. Fellow Etsians, this is a fabulous way to be contacted by wonderful bloggers who want to feature your wares!

Several days ago Laura contacted me and wanted to know if I would like to participate in her blog's giveaway (do I?? Of course!). So I made a cute little zippy for her and in return--check this out!

The GiveAway Tree

Pretty sweet, huh?