015:: Matryoshka Ornaments

The days have been flying by here in Chateau de Worldly Delights!  I've been extremely occupied making tons of pre-ordered Matryoshka doll ornaments. You may not think it, but these little cuties take a long while to create. But I'm really happy to be stitching away. It's quite relaxing for me, and while doing so, I get to listen to podcasts and radio shows.

I can't believe I only just discovered Ask Me Another, a puzzle game show on NPR. I'm kind've glad that I did, though, because now I have tons of episodes to listen to while I'm sewing!

I also can't believe that it's already October. Just a couple more months before Christmas! After I get done with this huge order of ornaments, I'll be sure to stock up some for the shop, but if you want to snag yourself some without waiting for them to be listed, let me know

014:: Real-life inspiration is Real, Yo.

available here
This kissing deer necklace is one of , if not my number 1, favorite piece I've ever made for the shop. The idea for the necklace spurred from a slightly embarrassing point in my relationship with my then-boyfriend, now husband, (prepare to gag) when we named each of our kisses. I had once rubbed the tip of my nose against his and declared it our "deer nuzzling kiss." It stuck, and now, here it is made tangible.

I've switched to using a different kind of felt, which I purchase from other etsy sellers, (If you're curious, email me, and I can give you a list of some sellers) and I have to admit: I can't go back to regular eco-felt. I now use a blend of eco-felt and actual wool, and the end material is much sturdier and easier to sew with. I really recommend it. 

013:: Cutting costs on packaging

A huge goal of mine for the shop is to provide affordable and  quality items. A huge way in which I've managed to keep my costs down is by scrimping on how I package my wares. I've bought many an item from small businesses wrapped in layers and layers of exquisite fabric, tissue papers, or ribbon. Lots of sellers use pretty bags, wrapping paper, and professionally-done stickers too. And I am definitely not against that. It's lovely to open a package and find a beautiful present waiting for you to savor it.

Being the perfectionist that I am, I make sure that the way I package my goods is also appealing. I love the idea of wrapping them up so the buyer can open it like they would a gift. I do, however, also want to make sure that the buyer knows they're purchasing handmade items, and how I package reflects that homemade style.

I've recently run out of tags that I use to label my pins and bows. Initially, I used a bunch of construction paper I had lying around because it was there, and it was free. I invested in a small stamp kit with my shop name on it, and made around 200 tags using that. Because I hand-cut and hand-stamped each label, they all looked slightly different from each other. And I really liked the message that sent out.

In the above picture, you see the current tags I'm using. I recently scored (for free) rolls and rolls of medium-weight navy paper. The paper itself is textured with stripes on one side, which gives it a bit more dimension. I immediately thought to use gold for my shop name, and I found a neglected bottle of gold craft paint, looking lonely in my paint bin.

A couple of hours later while watching You've Got Mail, I had 250+ labels scallop-cut and stamped, and I didn't even need to leave my house for supplies.

012:: New this week! a treat for superhero-lovers

whale clip/pin

Pretty Skulls Bow

X-men keychain

Superhero keychains
**Though I haven't had much time to craft this week, I managed to sneak in making and listing these goodies. Clicky click on the captions to be redirected :)**

Why does it seem like there isn't enough time in the day to accomplish everything I want to do? So many ideas, so little time! I'm glad I finally got some time to make some superhero keychains, though! I have to admit, I love making up new names and alter egos for each of my superheroes! It's half the fun of making up a new design.The blue-haired gal is Adelie, who, I imagine, is some sort of academic-- perhaps a graduate student who has a weakness for cold chocolate milk. She's a fashionable crime-fighting lady!

While we're on the superhero strand, I finally got my butt in gear and made some spare X-men keychains to sell. I made a couple for my own use, but thought I should share it with the world as well. Making those are a bugger since I have to cut the inside part of the circle instead of placing the red "negative space" over the black, which just doesn't look right to me. I'm getting better at making them, however. 

011::Matryoshkas on Parade

Matryoshka keychains

I learned how to sew when I was in fifth grade. Nothing intricate, just handsewing plush animals cut from pre-made patterns (I chose a whale) and an apron made from coarse cloth (I botched mine fabulously by sewing all sides of the pocket shut).

To save myself from pricking my fingers to numbness while for my apron-sewing assignment, I begged my mother to teach me how to use her antique sewing machine (all metal, non-electric, the good stuff). She spent most of her patience helping me sew straight hems, but I was too stubborn to stay put and practice. So in the end, I relented to hand sewing all the assignments.

And the hand sewing continued for years after that home economics class. In high school, I decided that I wanted to start making my own clothing. I tried my mom's new sewing machine that time, but I was still too stubborn to sit down patiently and practice sewing in a straight line. So, of course, I went back to hand sewing and pricking my fingers.

Only recently have I actually sat myself down and taught myself how to sew with a machine properly. And only recently have I actually decided to start learning proper hand stitching techniques. And I'm addicted! I can't believe I was so stubborn to learn this when I was younger! I can't stop stitching, stitching, stitching!!!

010:: Pictures paint a thousand words

original photo

after editing
Last post, I talked a bit about how I've been recently editing my photos before listing. In the 10 months that I've been on Etsy, I've learned a lot about how to make my wares look prettier. I used to just take a photo of them against any flat surface I could find. First, I took photos of them on top of my work desk:

I thought at the time that photographed like this, my wares looked fine, but since my desk was really tiny, I couldn't take photos of my scarves or other larger items. Then I thought that having my products against cuter backgrounds would work better. So I started photographing them against different fabrics with adorable backgrounds:

The problem with this is that the backgrounds kept on competing with my items for the viewer's attention. There was simply too much going on in each picture, and I needed to only showcase my items.

I like photographing during the daytime when there is a lot of natural light available, since it's the best. The first picture with the sleeping deer is what I usually end up with using my not-so-fancy point and shoot camera. I tweak it a bit using GIMP, and it usually takes me less than two minutes to fix them up so they look like how they actually do in real life.

My editing is very simple, but I feel that it works better now with my aesthetic and with my shop. I start with the image and brighten it up until the background is a true white. Depending on how much light there was to begin with, I may have to play with the contrast and such. Then, I add my little blurb in the bottom, and voila-- a perfect picture.