Tuesday, September 29, 2009

This, that, and the other

Nothing much new and exciting to report, just plugging along! My baby leg warmers have been selling like crazy, so I've been spending a lot of time on those (and trying to find more orange and black striped knee socks, I can't keep them in stock). The hairband pattern is just about ready; I want to get a half a dozen or so made up and into the shop by the end of the week, along with the PDF pattern. Only thing left is to work out the sizing on the child size version.

And I now have the little people rolls available for purchase. These would be a great stocking stuffer for a preschooler!

Click here to see one of the sets now available. Custom sets are no problem, and delivery is free if you live in the Milton area, just send me an email (purplelizarddesign@gmail.com) and let me know what you want! I'm going to put together some non-rainbow versions too, starting, of course, with pink, pink, and yet more pink.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Tool for Etsy Sellers: Fee calculator spreadsheet

Oct 2 note: I have updated the file! Version 2.0 now available.

One thing a lot of Etsy sellers lose track of is just how much of their item price is paid out in fees, both to Etsy and to Paypal. Currently it costs 20 cents to list an item, then Etsy takes 3.5% of the price when the item sells. If your buyer pays with paypal (which the vast majority do), then Paypal takes a 30 cent fee and 2.9% of the selling price.

If you don't track this information, I can pretty much guarentee you you are underestimating the amount that Etsy and Paypal are taking from your sales.

Now, there's a lovely fee calculator here. The problem, however, is you can't save the information, and I like to be able to pull up that info for all my items and have it at my fingertips. I did a bit of searching, but couldn't find an existing spreadsheet that did what I wanted, so I created this one. Feel free to download it and use it yourself. Tweak it however you want! Get the file here.

The first page is the calculator, with some sample data.

The coloured columns are locked and can't be edited. Enter the name of your item, your selling price, and, if you know them, your materials/overhead costs and the number of minutes it takes you to make the item (must be entered in minutes). The rest of the columns will update automatically so you can see how much you will lose in fees, your net profit taking into account materials costs, and your estimated hourly earnings.

If you want to alter the spreadsheet, the password to unlock it is 'etsy'. I have it locked so that people who aren't familiar with Excel won't accidentally muck up the formulas.

Should Etsy or Paypal change their fees, go to the second page of the spreadsheet. You can update the number there, and the first page will automatically adjust.

If you try it out, please let me know what you think! And especially let me know if you find any errors! Note I have it saved in whatever version of Excel it is that I have here (2003? I'm not even sure). Let me know if it doesn't work for you and I'll see about uploading some different versions.

Get the file here.

Edit: I just realized that while I know Etsy doesn't take a percentage of the shipping cost, I'm not sure about paypal. I assumed when I wrote this spreadsheet that you are charging actual shipping and that paypal doesn't take a cut of the shipping fee. Therefore I left shipping off the spreadsheet entirely. I will adjust the spreadsheet soon if this is incorrect.

Edit (Oct. 2): Paypal does in fact take a percentage of your shipping fees, so I have updated the file to include columns for shipping charged, actual postage, and shipping materials costs, and all the formulas have been adjusted to reflect that change. Let me know if you find any errors!

It's babywearing week!

It's International Babywearing Week, and while I find the term babywearing itself a bit, well, babywearying (hahahahahaha - OK, I totally stole that from someone else), I can't think of a better name, so what the heck, yay babywearing!

Me with the baby in a sling:

And yes, I made that sling, back when kid #1 was a baby. It's been very useful, especially at this age (almost a year), because it makes hip carrying so much easier.

Both of my kids have actually really liked the stroller, so I haven't worn them as much as I might have, but boy I do love my carriers. And when we made the INSANE decision to take the family to Disney when #2 was only 5 weeks old, the carriers were invaluable. I don't think I could have done that trip without the mei tai and the wrap. #2 pretty much just nursed and slept in the carriers for 10 days. And I got quite a good workout lugging her around everywhere!

How cute is this?

That would be me, being worn by my mom! Yay for babywearing.

(looking to buy a carrier? I highly recommend Steph at Babywear Boutique. My gorgeous Ellaroo wrap came from Steph's store, although I can't seem to find any decent pictures of me actually using it. One of the perils of always being the one behind the camera!)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

SO busy

Or should that be 'sew' busy? Ew. No. Best not to go there.

Not a lot of posting, since mostly I've been making stock for the store, and 57 posts in a row of yet more baby leg warmers and doll carriers would be boring. I had set myself a goal of getting at least 50 items listed by the end of the month, and I'd be there already except people keep BUYING stuff. Gee, everyone should have my problems!

Anyway, here's a picture of a set I just listed. More of these to come, I think. If I can find more time to sew. I have a list a mile long of stuff to make, and not enough time to make it in.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Sneak Peek: Little Wooden People Rolls

This is something I've been working on for a while. Sometimes I get an idea and I just can't stop thinking about it until I sit down and work it out. This was one of those ideas that just wouldn't leave me alone until I started pulling out fabric and making prototypes!

Another angle. Looks a lot like a crayon or marker roll, but it's a tad bulky to be one of those. The closure on this was bugging me for weeks - I knew it needed to be something a preschooler could easily handle, so I wanted to avoid anything that needed to be tied, but an elastic around the whole thing just didn't look very good. Finally, I struck on this - elastic hooked around a painted wooden button.

But what's inside?

It's a family of little wooden people! Why would anyone want such a thing? Well, what I have in mind is that you tuck this roll into your purse, and then when you get stuck somewhere with an antsy 4 year old, you've got instant entertainment. Restaurants, doctor's offices, anywhere you find yourself waiting and thinking damn, I should have brought a toy for the kids. It's open ended, and if you kid loves imaginative play, it's got endless possibilities!

These are the people. I have a variety and will be able to do customized sets. This is dad, mom, girl, boy, and two babies. I haven't completely decided what to do with the actual people yet. I'll offer some sets undecorated, so you or your child can decorate them as you like, or I can simply finish them with an all natural wax I've found. I think I'll also have some sets stained in rainbow colours. That's the part of the whole project I still have to figure out.

Exterior shot. I wish I had more of this rainbow fabric, it's so perfect for this, but unfortunately it's something I bought years and years ago, so most of these will be different. Each one will be unique.

So that's a sneak peak at something I'm working on! I hope to get some of these up in the store in a week or two, once I have all the details (and, of course, pricing) worked out.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Tutorial: Baby Leg Warmers

Ever since I first saw babylegs I've thought they were adorable, and wished I'd had some when the first kid was a baby. Now that I know how to make them, I'm, as usual, a little obsessed. A tutorial is probably unnecessary, given there's already good ones out there, but I had my camera handy when I was sewing last night so why not?

Start with knee socks. Ladies socks for your standard size. For newborn babies, with their adorable little chicken legs, you can use girl's knee socks. A great place to find funky knee socks are those mall stores targetted to tweens and teens, although you will feel REALLY dorky and out of place when you go in.

Cut each sock as shown. Easiest with a rotary cutter and ruler, but if you don't have those you could just use scissors. You basically cut off the foot, then cut the toe and heel off of the foot so you are left a cylinder.

Fold the cylinder wrong sides together to form a cuff.

Insert the sock leg into the cylinder, lining up the raw edges as best you can. Since the fabric will roll a bit this can be tricky, so just get it as close as possible.

Two pairs, cut, folded, and ready to go.
Using a long straight stitch, stitch the layers together. I lay the cylinder down on the sewing machine, then pull the top three layers of the pile out of the way and start sewing. I don't bother to pin these, I haven't found it helps that much, but you may wish to put a few pins in. Sew all the way around and secure the seam by backstitching a couple of times.

NOTE: try not to stretch the fabric at all while you do this step.

At this point I always check to make sure all the layers got caught, sometimes something shifts and there's a gap you need to go back and fix. This one worked well, though.

Showing the seam. Not the straightest stitching I've ever done!

Now I like to trim everything to about a quarter inch or so from the seam, just to neaten things up.

Using a wide, tight zigzag stitch I sew all the way around, to bind the edges so they don't unravel. Set your stitch so that the needle falls off the edge of the fabric on the right side.

NOTE: Again, try not to stretch the fabric at all while you do this. It's probably more important with this step, actually, if you stretch while you so the end result is very odd and bumpy looking.

Close up.

And it's done! Just flip the cuff out and you are good to go!

Baby leg warmers are VERY SERIOUS BUSINESS.

OK, maybe not! They are awfully cute.

They also make great arm and leg warmers for kids, too:

Give them a try, they are easy, cute, and SO practical!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Mei Tai - Pink Butterflies

Finally got L's Mei Tai done. Whew. It's very pretty, and I hope she finds it useful!

now I have to decide what to work on next. I also owe L a diaper bag, so I'll start that this weekend and hopefully have something to show her by Monday. But before then I want to get a few things done for the store. A few doll mei tais for sure (I have a big pile of fabric all ready to cut out), since they are good sellers and right now I don't have a lot of selection listed. And I think I want to finish up the hairband pattern and get a few of those listed, too.

Mostly, though, what I want is a nap.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Baby Leg Warmers

I hate putting pants on the baby because they are a pain for diaper changes. And they don't always look that comfortable for the baby. So why not some adorable baby leg warmers?

I found these socks at, of all places, the dollar store.
A rotary cutter, a sewing machine, and five minutes and you get yourself some baby leg warmers!

Is that not too cute? Now I need to keep my eye out for what I really want, which is some rainbow knee socks to transform.

Edit: I've added a couple of pairs of these to the store, in case you want a set of your very own.

Chris Bosh won't let me sew.

Wait, what?

Important facts:

My sewing room is in the basement. Our house has approximately 57 levels*, and the girl's bedrooms are up at the top. So if I'm in the basement, and they are in bed, theoretically sleeping**, I'm out of earshot. So if I'm the only adult around, I don't like to disappear into the basement where I can't hear the kids.

*may not be entirely accurate
**especially the four year old, who of late has decided that bedtime means playtime. You know when it gets quiet? And you suddenly realize it's been quiet for a REALLY long time, and your heart starts to race and you yell up the stairs, what are you doing up there? And then you get the worst possible answer to that question? NOTHING, MAMA. I'M DOING NOTHING. (pause) DON'T COME UP HERE. Well, I don't know where I was going with this, actually, but so far I've cleaned up vast amounts of water and a major baking soda incident. The upshot is, I don't want to be out of earshot of the kids, even if they are, allegedly, sleeping.

Another important fact: the NHL and NBA seasons are starting soon. That's where Chris Bosh come in. I mean, he's not LITERALLY telling me I can't sew, but because of the sports teams, my husband is working about 57 hours a day. Which means, he's not home. Which means, no locking myself in the basement for hours on end because if I do no one is listening for the kids.

So, not a lot of sewing. I have decided that starting tonight in the evenings when he's not home yet I'll bring a current project and the sewing machine up to the dining room so I can get a few things done, like L's Mei Tai, which I've only been promising her for MONTHS and all I have to do on it is topstitch the straps and yet I just haven't been able to get it done! I don't like moving up to the dining room because I have a bad habit of letting my projects completely takeover all flat surfaces, and if I'm not religious about putting everything back in the basement at the end of the day we'll wind up with a dining room full of fabric. Again.

(I do, for the record, have a baby monitor, but it doesn't really work very well, and I'm not about to go spend money on a new one right now)

Thursday, September 10, 2009

So many tomatoes. And back to work.

I go to the garden every third day, and usually this is what I get. SO MANY TOMATOES. And I could have filled that whole basket just with cherry tomatoes.

I should probably can some of this, but I don't really feel up to dealing with it. So I'm giving them away and we're eating lots of tomato based dishes. Too many tomatoes is, frankly, a pretty nice problem to have.

I started back to work yesterday. I'm teaching one class this term, and I always forget how draining lecturing can be. Three hours of telling people things is actually pretty intellectually demanding, and since I'm the type who paces and flails her arms around a lot while lecturing, it's physically tiring as well. I'm glad I'm only teaching one class this term.

So although I had plans for a ton of sewing last night, none of it happened. Instead I just flaked out on the couch and did nothing. But now I'm recovered, and I have a bunch of stuff on the schedule for tonight! Finish up L's Mei Tai, make a couple of kiddie Mei Tais since a few have sold out of the shop and I should replace them, and maybe work a bit on Super Secret Christmas Toy project.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Messenger bag - Violet

This is Violet, all ready to go. Violet and Ruby were both made for a craft swap (although the winner of Violet has decided she wants one of my other bags instead, so Violet will be showing up for sale in a bit).

Here they are together, just chillin'.

Back view. I know, it's a thrill a minute around here.

Cell pocket, key loop. There's an interior pocket with space for a pen, too. I have got to figure out how to photograph the interiors of these bags in a way that doesn't make them look awful.

I've got one more bag to make, a custom job for a friend, and then I think I'm off bag making for a bit. Need a break.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Messenger Bag - Ruby

Got a couple of messenger bags finished, hooray! This is Ruby. Flap is dupioni silk, black and silver brocade, and some sort of plain black fabric. Body is a heavy black denim that was an unbelievable PAIN IN THE ASS to work with. I made the mistake of also using it for the strap, and let's just say I think I'm going to cut it off and remake it in something lighter, because once you start folding that stuff the thickness rapidly gets completely out of control.

Bad shot of interior. Cell pocket, key/toy loop, and an interior pocket that also has a spot for a pen.

Tomorrow, pictures of Violet, the other bag I just finished.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Works in progress: Hairbands

I got a new haircut, with bangs for the first time in a zillion years, and I'm loving it. Except that sometimes, I just really want the bangs OFF my forehead (plus, I'd forgotten how oily skin + bangs all day = zits. I'm 16 again, y'all!).

Solution? Hairbands! I whipped up a pattern and made a few.

OK, it was a little more complicated than that because I got totally obsessive and wanted to get the pattern just abosolutely perfect. And then a child size pattern. And then hairbands in two different widths. 15 test runs later, and I've finally got it.

When I start a project, what can I say, I go ALL OUT. On the plus side, i should be able to write up the pattern as a PDF for the store. And hey, might even whip up a few headbands for sale, too, I have a ton of scrap pieces of fabric that would be perfect, and they take maybe 10 minutes to sew, so they're fast and easy.

Wide version. Reversible. Covered elastic. Yep, got it all.

Is there any way to take a self portrait of the top of your head without looking like a total tool?

Hairbands: DEADLY SERIOUS BUSINESS, apparently.

Hey, at least my hair is off my face. And now I can inflict dorky matching headbands on my daughters, too. Hooray!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Works in progress: L's Mei Tai

Hey, it's a Mei Tai intended to carry REAL babies, not dolls!

Told you I was making progress, L! I have to attach the waist strap and finish off the body, then it'll be ready for fitting. For this one I'm leaving the ends of the straps unfinished until I have a chance to try it on L and her husband so that I can adjust the length if necessary. It's going to be VERY pretty - I love the butterfly fabric L&D chose!

Then I have to make them their diaper bag - with a toddler and newborn twins, they need a BIG bag. And maybe an IV of caffeine. I can't even imagine.


Dinner last night was a thin crust whole wheat pizza (the Kitchen Aid makes dough making SO easy), topped with diced tomatoes, basil, and sliced zucchini (from the garden!), a bit of olive oil, garlic, and four kinds of cheese (mozzarella, cheddar, feta, parmesan). So easy and SO delicious!

If I'd thought of it I'd have spread a layer of pesto on there too. Ah well. Next one!

In case you can't tell, I am greatly enjoying having access to buckets full of fresh, fantastic tasting tomatoes.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Pattern: Doll carrier/Mei Tai

Yep, been a lot of doll Mei Tais lately, which means I finally got the pattern done. Woo! I love writing patterns - figuring out the dimensions, writing the instructions. I hate the editing, though - cropping photos, looking for typos, blech. I always seem to get the patterns 90% done and then I just stall out completely. It's a relief to have this one finished.

Pretty. The pattern is for sale in the shop. Very easy to sew!