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?

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

A Few New Things

A few new things to share, in no particular order:
Amy my photographer friend who is consigning a bunch of bags for me has written a lovely blog post about my shop (and my tendency to get lost while driving to a new place). In addition to having a beautiful studio, Amy has a sweet blog--check it out!

* Last night [dance of joy] I learned that my poem "Animal" will appear in Chopper Poetry Journal 4. (Incidentally this link is where I first learned about Chopper--I appreciated their somewhat sassy editorial note--and I think it is an important resource for every writer to know about.) I am so pumped! My publication history: in the 11th grade I won an Ohio Young Poets contest and was published in their very nice (and very legitimate) anthology. In college, one of my poems that I unfortunately titled "(untitled)" was published in the College of Wooster's student publication The Goliard. And now this! I am so pumped. Even my mom (who does not especially like poetry) wants a copy when it's out. :) Though I haven't double checked this fact yet, I think that "Animal" did not make the cut in the final draft of my thesis book. Isn't that funny?

* I have a new and very fun design that I think I will call the Pod. It was a commissioned design, and the first one was so cute that my friend who commissioned it wants another one! It's a little tiny thing, about a 3.5 inch square that has a magnetic snap flap and a hook on the back that you could hook onto a belt loop or any bag hardware. I am hugely inspired to make a bunch of them for the Open House.

* I also have a new design for a mommy-and-me passport cover, inspired by another friend of mine who makes frequent international trips with her family. With an extra pocket in the back, it comfortably holds 2 passports. I am pleased with how it turned out. I used a loop / tab closure, which I think is perfect for the design.

* I purchased an ad at I am told that they get 20,000 individual visitors a day, which is amazing. So far it has increased traffic to my shop, but no new sales. That is OK--it is less than 1 day old. is this fabulous tool for Etsians to quickly see how their wares are faring--you can see shop hearts, item hearts, and new hearts all very easily.

Thursday, May 7, 2009


Today one of my cute little zippies was featured in a treasury:

Thank you, Scrapscribe!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

This Cracks Me Up

Yes, a cat next to a gigantic Cats bag is funny, but the description is what is truly hilarious if you ask me:

"You loved the play now own the tote bag! Black vinyl measuring 19" X 14" and ready to go on your daily prowl.

"Linda not included."

Thank you for that perfect bubble of joy this evening, Pawedthrough. And Linda.


Monday, May 4, 2009

Less Abstract, Zippers, and a Treasury!

Did you ever notice that when big stuff happens, sometimes the only way you can talk about it is in giant, sweeping abstractions? That would explain my last post.

I applied for a job that I would have enjoyed, and the other day I learned that I did not get that position. It was so disappointing, mostly because I had been mentally preparing for the job for about three months.

But life does go on. Let me tell you about that.

My zippers came in the mail today! Woohoo! I love my zipper lady. She has opened up a new shop just for zippers, and it is called ZipIt. If you need zippers, Jennie is your lady. So during naptime, I made the first 3 of 100 planned zippy pouches. They turned out pretty nice. I am so happy with how the zipper pull charms look on them. I was starting to think I'd never use all the beads I bought!

Today I discovered Twitter, and I tweeted some new zippy pouches--I was totally amazed at how quickly the views came in! More quickly than without twitter, that is for sure. My twitter address is "SeatOfMyPants" was taken already!

This weekend I bought a really insightful guide to improving your Etsy site. TheBuzz offers lots and lots of helpful tips--which I will not reveal here, since TheBuzz has a whole collection for sale at her shop. I am glad to have read through it, and hopefully by following some of the tips from TheBuzz, I will be able to get my Etsy shop to be more busy.

And one more tidbit:
Today I snagged a Treasury!

Thursday, April 30, 2009

I made this little beaut this morning. I am pretty happy with how it turned out, though next time I have a pattern this big, I will pay more attention to pattern placement.

A philosophical moment from Seat Of My Pants:
Sometimes things work out in ways we don't understand. Other times thing work out in ways we thought would be a cinch, and we are surprised at how non-cinchy they actually are. At those times, we have to remember--I have to remember--that no matter, I am being watched over and cared for. Maybe it's hard to remember that, but it's true.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009


This afternoon I sold this super cute mermaid zippy pouch--it couldn't have had more than 4 views! That is some kind of record!

Naptime today allowed me to make two pouches like this one, and two fabulous Kaffe Fasset card wallets. I'm pleased with how they turned out.

I have finished the written part of my thesis. The revisions went well and easy last night. Printing--now that is a different story all together.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


On Friday, I will be submitting my thesis book, Bloomington Avenue.

What a tremendous sentence that is! Do you know what this means? This means that I am DONE!

Well, not quite. I am very nearly done though. This evening I am doing some final revisions (I feel like "final revisions" have included revisions that were far from final!) and preparing a draft to send off to a contest. In particular, there's this one poem about a tree that used to be across the street. One day a couple of summers ago, it started changing into its fall foliage in the middle of July--obviously it had died, or had been slowly dying over a long, long time. It was pretty remarkable to see a tree change that quickly in the middle of summer. Anyway, the poem has felt about half done since I wrote it and did initial revising back at the beginning of my MFA program experience. And last night, as I was contemplating a panel of instructors reading through my book, I realized that the poem was still very far from being done, and that if I turned in that draft, I would regret it. So I wrote some more! I think I took it a little bit too far--I have, evidently, this tendency to wax a little sentimental, particularly about the demise of things in the natural world--so I will be cleaning up a little excess from that poem tonight.

Then there's the task of page numbering. I somehow made it to the end of grad school without knowing how to properly format the page numbers in a paper where the first page needs no number, the table of contents need roman numerals, and the arabic numerals don't begin until page 4 or 5. I hate to resort to this, but I am not too proud to make a document that contains strictly page numbers and print them onto the already-printed draft.

I have high hopes for Bloomington Avenue. I think it is pretty solid as a book. I went with sections, which is something that I didn't think I would do! I had a working order of poems for quite a while, and as a strict academic exercise, I decided to shuffle them in to sections. What emerged were three sections that give the book some structure for its somewhat whimsical--and sometimes very short--poems.

So--off to revise. And then maybe sew.

Monday, April 27, 2009

So Close!

Check me out!

Evidently, on April 9, I was not featured on the front page of Etsy. But I was close!

Three cheers for What a lovely and useful tool for those Etsians who are a tad obsessive.

I love it when this happens!

This morning I was attempting to make a bi-fold card wallet. I made cut the fabric about 3/4 of an inch too narrow, though, which made it too narrow to hold a card. So I stitched up the sides and voila, glasses case. I prefer "spectacle case" though. I think it is more musical.

The design is not quite perfect--it was an accident after all--but this is a nice start.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Giraffe Bag

This is the messenger bag I made for my friend Lisa. It's made of a brown corduroy and (obviously!) a giraffe skin print. It's about 11 inches wide, 3 inches deep, and 12 inches tall. There are 2 big pockets inside.

I love that it is sunny enough outside to take these kinds of pictures again.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Fix It or Leave It?

I wonder if this would work: unsew the bottom stitches and the bottom pocket stitches, turn the thing inside out, unsew the sides halfway up, turn it right side out again, move the bottom pocket, turn it back inside out, sew the sides back up, turn it right side out again, and sew up the bottom once again.

Yes, that is how I would fix a checkbook cover whose bottom pocket is too high. Now, to test how long it takes to make such a repair. I would guess almost as long as it took to make the thing in the first place.

Darn Half Inch

It's really more like a quarter inch, but that little space has made the difference, I discovered today, between a sweet checkbook cover and one that doesn't close right. How annoying. I don't know how many times I am going to have to learn a lesson like this, but listen up in case you are like me: if you get the feeling that you should give it a good, thorough measuring before your proceed, you are probably correct. Stop what you are doing, go find 2 checkbooks, and make sure the thing closes all the way BEFORE you make 9 or 10 of them.

This has been my public service announcement for the day.

Even though this (repeated) mistake is irritating, I discovered a solution to my 1/4 inch dilemma, and the covers I made this morning turned out very nicely. I will need to do something about the ones in my Etsy shop. I'll probably deactivate them and see what can be done. "See what can be done," that sounds so dire. It isn't dire, just annoying. And I have become a better seamstress because of this error, so it's not a complete wash.

Today I'm ordering the invitations to the Open House. Yay! They are SO stinking cute. I'll put them up here when they arrive. Purple, but that's OK.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Successful Naptime

I am so happy about our new schedule. Baby naps at 10, and by 10:30 the boy and I are up to the attic. Today he was getting bored of, and so I am going to have to sneak up and find him some new pages to play with. (Don't worry, he has no idea how to navigate the internet, and I am right there in the same room with him.) Today he was more curious about my fleece-covered pliers (key fob making, of course), my rotary cutter (sharp, don't touch!), the bobbins, and some knitting needles! In the midst of all of that, I made three more checkbook covers. I am really pleased about them, but they do demand an answer to a question: do people even use checks anymore?

I sure don't. Between plastic and the internet, I have very little use for them. I do still carry around a checkbook though, because I haven't abandoned them completely. I write checks for the offering at church, and I write checks to register for things like craft shows. Perhaps there are still some people out there who would like to toss that unsightly vinyl cover that came free from the bank with the checks--no disdain meant toward free things, mostly toward unsightly vinyl things!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

I have been inspired. Inspired and busy!

I mentioned that I figured out how to make a cutey patootie checkbook cover yesterday. I made four of them! They are so super easy... I have been contemplating writing a tutorial and selling a DIY kit of pre-cut, pre-ironed-with-interfacing fabrics. Maybe some day when my Etsy shop is full and busy... although maybe that would help it to be full and busy, or busier. Hmmmm.

This evening I made a lovely shopping tote out of a vintage green tablecloth that my friend Joanne gave to me when she was clearing out her fabric stash last summer. The bag turned out really cool. I made a applique negative space A out of this adorable orange and yellow apple fabric.

Open House Progress

One of the aspects of my open house this year that I am most excited about is our raffle. Each of my fellow artists and I will be offering a really stupendous raffle prize, and today I finished mine!

(On a side note, I am able to sew during the daylight hours because our son is now able to be in the attic with me--maybe I've mentioned this already, but it is BIG news for me!)

I have made a medium tote, a checkbook cover (first ever!), a beautiful double-interfaced zippy pouch, and a card wallet. (I will be getting a new snap attacher soon. A certain 3-year old got ahold of it one day when I had it downstairs, and the little yellow washer is gone, gone, gone. This is somewhat timely, as I was already considering changing the type of snap I use... we shall see.)

So it was a productive afternoon. I also made a bunch of cute wash cloths for my friend Katie's baby. They turned out super cute. I used 8 inch flannel and terry cloth squares.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Cloth Diapers for Earth Day

I thought that since I gave this big long speech about how I love cloth diapers about a month before our daughter was born that perhaps I should update on how it is going in real life.

I will not lie: disposable diapers are easier. But let me tell you this. Cloth diaps are about a thousand times less disgusting. How can this be, you ask. Be forewarned--this answer is not for the faint of heart.

Imagine a bag full of disposable diapers. Imagine that you are a normal human and the bag is pretty full. Imagine that it is garbage day. If you have not ever emptied the diaper pail of a heaving bag of disposables, you cannot imagine the stench you are in for. It is just inhumane. And why wouldn't it be? There's probably a couple dozen diaps in there after all.

Cloth diapers are different for a couple of reasons. We use these flushable liners that allow us to flush the solid stuff away--ingenious if you ask me. So all that ends up in the pail is wetness. And you can buy as many diapers as you want, but with the 24 that we have, there is no week-long build up, because after a day and a half, not only is the pail pretty full, we are nearly out of clean diapers! Yes, it is stinky, but it's nothing in comparison. And I said that they are less easy than disposables, but not by much.

Oh--and there's also the blowout situation. I can't tell you how many times a disposable dipaer let me down with our son. Is there any worse laundry-related endeavor than scrubbing out the poo-poos? My answer will always be NO WAY! We have had zero poopy blowouts with cloth diapers, and the wet leaks have been minimal.

So if you are expecting a baby and have been considering cloth, absolutely go for it, friend! It feels so good to wash diapers and know that at least these won't be sitting in a landfill (or festering in the diaper pail till trash day). It feels even better not to thump that big stinky bag out to the curb!

Monday, April 20, 2009

National Poetry Month Celebration

Today I celebrated National Poetry Month by participation in a community poetry reading event at the College of Wooster. My friend and classmate Joanne helped to organize it and invited me as a community member to share a few poems from my thesis. No sweat, I thought! Since Wednesday is Earth Day, I decided to read some tree poems and some dog poems. (One would think that I would be done writing about trees and dogs 7 years after I turned in my I.S. that featured... trees and dogs... but not so!) I was so nervous. I had no idea how worked up I would be by the time I got there. It was a good warning for my thesis defense this summer, that is for sure! I was trembling a little, didn't know what to do with my arms--ak, it wasn't pretty, but now at least I know what I need to work on. Learning experiences all over the place.

Desperately Good (spoiler!)

When Desperate Housewives began several years ago, I had an unspoken boycott on the show due to the unsavoryness of the characters' collective integrities. I have to tell you, for the most part, I am glad I do not know these ladies (and really creepy gentlemen). BUT--I have never watched a serial drama that was so grippingly written. I love the dialouge and the plot. I love the development of each of the characters, and how we get little glimpses into their pasts that explain why they are the way they are. Each character sounds like herself. I hate to be critical of anything with Sally Field in it, even Boniva commercials, but everybody on Brothers and Sisters sounds exactly the same--flustered fast-talkers! Maybe that is hereditary, but I kind of don't think it's good for the show. Anyway, I love the variety of DH. I was really irritated when I saw a spoiler on the cover of a magazine at Buehler's the other day.

I like the way they addressed Edie's death. I liked the vignettes about the handyman a few episodes ago too. Maybe using that format is a cop-out, easy way to say goodbye to a character. But I don't care. I think they do it well.

Somewhat related... Edie inspired my curiosity last evening, and indeed there are urns for sale on I decided that when I die (we all die, I am not being morbid!), I would like my ashes to be scattered somewhere beautiful, and completely scattered--rinse out that container, I say, because they only thing weirder than a full urn is a mostly empty urn.

Amy's bags

Here are a few of the bags Amy has at Heritage Photography. These are all my Medium Tote size, and they have coordinating key fobs. Can I tell you how much I like key fobs? They are so fun and cute. And truthfully, my keys are so much more easier to find now.

I love these fabrics. Here I have used fabrics from Heather Ross, Heather Bailey, Marcus Brothers, Alexander Henry, and Tina Givens. They rock my socks!

Sunday, April 19, 2009


How I like to make bags!

This week I have had the distinct pleasure of dropping off a batch of bags for consignment at the studio of a lovely and talented pair of photographers in Canal Fulton, Heritage Photography. I am so excited, so excited, and so happy that Amy found my shop.

On a slightly related note, I am so directionally challenged! Before I got to Heritage, I got to some plumbing-type of place, Route 21, a Canal, and a Burger King. Getting home was colorful! When your brain works like mine does, you are surprised a lot. Even when its something like, oh, the highway signs didn't lie! Woo hoo!

Amy's email really inspired me. This week I made 6 bags for her shop, and my next batch will be made from an absolutely delicious collection of fabrics. Since our son is now a big boy, evidently, he has been joining me up in the attic. It has been joyous to sew with him during his sister's nap time.

I am also inspired about the plans for a summer open house. This year, some other lovely artists will be joining me for the event, so in addition to my bags we will have polymer clay creations, vintage-vogue jewelry, and beautiful and delicious cookies. We have been planning, and it is going to be so much fun.

In other news, I am almost done with my thesis book, Bloomington Avenue. It is a book of poems. This evening I worked on a bunch of revisions and I'm feeling pretty good about it. This summer I will defend, and the it's time to find a publisher. Tomorrow, in celebration of National Poetry Month, I will be participating in a poetry reading at The College of Wooster, and will be reading a few poems from Bloomington Ave.