Japanese Bunka-Shishu Embroidery – a fun alternative to cross stitch!

For those of you not familiar with Japanese Tokyo Bunka Shishu punch embroidery, this traditional craft dates back approximately 100 years.  Bunka-Shishu has the appearance of an oil painting and has a special art status in Japan.  It’s fairly simply to get started with only a few tools needed.  Just a wood bunka frame, an N-3 Bunka Punch Needle, tacks and a kit will get you going. The thread used is a silky rayon that is worked on a soft tight polyester gabardine fabric that is printed with a numbered thread placement design (similar to the paint by number kits of your youth).  The needle used is unique to Bunka,...

Survival Tactics For the Bleak Mid-Winter

The bone-chilling cold and leaden gray skies are a soul-sapping  reality as we hunker down into February. It seems like everywhere we look, our eyes are inundated with varying shades of gray (way more than 50!). Personally, when the days are short and the terrain is drab and I am aching for a ray of sun, I have certain special rituals that help me make it through.  I know I am not alone in my dreams of sunshine and flowers- many of my friends tell me they feel the same, and to that end we take special pleasure in planning our gardens for the sunny spring.  Even a seed catalog...

Vintage Yukata Hand Dyed Kimono fabric

Are you looking for that unique print for your Asian quilt?  Vintage Yukata cottons really caught my eye when I was recently introduced to them by local expert, Patricia Belyea.  These lovely one of a kind designs are from the Showa period ranging from approx. WWII to 1989.  Bold large scale florals in bright colors contrast with traditional indigo blue and white geometric designs.  The bolts average approx. 13-14″ wide and are approx. 12 yards long, which makes a full kimono.  Yukata translates to “bathing clothes” in Japanese and the term also refers to summer cotton kimono.  These kimonos were traditionally worn to the community bath house. We are teaming up...

Taking Comfort in Handmade Crafts During Hard Times

We all gravitate towards things that give us comfort during times of stress.  Whether it be “comfort foods”, your stash of carefully gathered fabric, or a pile of soft yarn and a set of knitting needles, it’s those little pleasures that sooth our souls.  During these difficult economic times, we’re looking for a simpler way of life, a way to slow down and relax without spending a lot of money. We seek out our history in the creation of a quilt, a connection with a grandmother or aunt, and begin to create our own traditions.  Is there a special quilt that is begging to be made for each new baby...

Defining Your Artistic Quilting Style

As you set out to create a business from your craft or to better yourself as a quilter, you may decide it’s time to define an artistic style or personality for your work.  Many artists are instantly recognized and identified by their body of work. Defining your style can be much easier said then done.  Most often your style will evolve over time and grow from your interests and passions.  Sometimes it can be difficult to move beyond recreating patterns from other artists and begin to see yourself as a creative artist with unique ideas. Here are a few suggestions to begin finding your personal style: Take a standard pattern...

Find the best venue to sell your crafts

After you decided to start your craft business, the next step is to figure out where to sell it for the best profit.  Your options are broader than they once were, with unlimited venues on the internet.  However, is that the best market for a handmade item? Points to consider: Who are the clientele that may be interested in your product? Local access to customers – Do you live in a highly populated area? Is your creation a low cost craft, or high priced art piece? Does your product photograph well or is it best viewed in person? Are you comfortable in dealing with the public? Are you interested in...

Pricing your craft for the street fair market

Once you’ve chosen the product or collection of products that you plan to sell, the next step is to figure out how much it will cost you to produce it and how you should price your product.  There is often a fine line between pricing yourself out of the market and working for nothing!   As a general rule of thumb, the more unique and one of a kind your item is, the more liberty you will be able to take in pricing it.  If you are planning to sew an item that is more widely available at low cost, the less you will be able to play with the pricing....

Starting your sewing crafts business

So you have your product idea and you’re ready to get started sewing!  Here are a few thoughts on what you should have in place before you get to work. Get your state business license: This is an easy process but often a scary step for new entreprenuers.  It involves choosing your business name, your business structure and paying the fee of approx. $25.  For this you will be registered to do business in your state and receive a UBI number that you will be able to use to buy your supplies wholesale and tax free. Get your city business license:  The rules vary from city to city, so you will need to check...

Turn your sewing to profit – finding your niche

So you’re ready to start!  Now what?  An important step to talking that big leap into starting your own business, whether it is a home based crafts business or any other, is to research your market.  Questions to ask yourself when researching your niche: How do you plan to sell your product (crafts fair, store, online, etc.)? Is your idea unique?  If not, how can you differentiate your product? Who is your competition (everywhere)? Is your product an item that is already mass produced and available at low cost? How much would it cost in materials to product your product? How long would each item take to produce? Would you...

Sewing and Quilting for Profit

Wouldn’t everyone like to make money at something they truly love doing?  While my kids were growing up, I was a stay at home mom who did just that!  I wanted to be there for them and still make some money.  My kids are now 17 and 21 and I’ve moved into a more full time online career, but for those earlier years quilting was perfect!  Check out my street fair booth in Seattle . My business began with making windsocks and selling them at local bazaars and smaller venues.  I evolved into an art quilter, selling my work at local art fairs, summer street fairs and a local quilt shop. ...