Tuesday, May 3, 2011

little snapshots

The weight of time has been on my heart lately. I feel challenged by making the most of the 24 hours I have every day. Life is really precious and mine was saved at a high cost, and I want to celebrate it. I've been taking all the little moments in. We've been having Beatles dance parties while I wash the dishes. We've been learning new words while driving in the car. We've been taking the time to snuggle and be still even if there's a lot of work to do. Sometimes I even let myself nap when she naps so I can feel refreshed and ready to go when she's up again. I feel like this journey is beautiful and I'm really inspired by it.

These are just little snapshots from the past couple of weeks. :) I've been super busy because a new idea hit me and I just had to act on it. I'm a crazy woman hoping to finish a dozen skirts and 20 dresses (at the very least!) for my next show May 22nd. I'll be at the Handmade Mart in Silver Spring, Maryland. It's my first out of state show. I'm a little nervous about leaving Emma for the day but I'm looking forward to the road trip with my hubby. We plan on blasting 90s music, holding hands, and enjoying not having to pull over for diaper changes or breaking our arms trying to calm fussy little girls with animal crackers. :)

Monday, April 18, 2011

My Little Business

The Cupcakery @ Spring Bada Bing 2011

I had my first big show of the spring season on Sunday. Somehow we all worked together in this house to pull it off. There were countless late nights of last minute stitching, buttonholes, applique-ing and merchandising all while trying to keep up around the house and maintain the happiness of a 16 month old. We have a system, and it's very chaotic, but I feel blessed to have a patient husband who deals with skipped meals, more diapers than usual and cleaning out my bug and packing all my stuff in there (thanks, hubby!)

The Cupcakery @ Spring Bada Bing 2011

This was my third time vending at this particular show. I went as a shopper for the first time in 2008 and I fell in love. I was absolutely inspired by it all. I had just quit my job the week before and I knew it's what I wanted to do. My husband encouraged me to stay at home for a bit and work on what I wanted to do. For the longest time I felt like it was so silly. When people asked what my husband did for a living he could say proudly "I'm a nuclear engineer" and when people asked me what I did for a living... I really didn't know what to say. My husband would always say "she's an artist!" but I didn't feel like one. It took me a long time to find the confidence to make the ideas I had in my head and put them up for sale.

(want to see my very first craft show table?)
The Cupcakery

So a few years later, I'm really proud when people step up to my table and ask how my little girl is doing because they've seen her on my Flickr account, or they tell me they got one of my famous Christmas ornaments as a gift, or that they've seen my Etsy shop and loveee it! I would give something away to everyone who said that if I could. That's how happy it makes me. I love that I have a brand now, and my shop is recognizable even when I don't have a sign that says "The Cupcakery" on the front of my table. That makes me feel like I've done something right!

The Cupcakery @ Spring Bada Bing 2011

A customer came up to me and said she had always wondered why I named my business The Cupcakery. This is a fun little story I can't wait to share with Emma one day. When Thomas and I got married, we lived in the smallest little apartment right across from the engineering building on VCU's campus. It was under 400 square feet. It was brand new when we moved in, and while most people called it their dorm room, we called it our home. It was so very tiny though... we only had room for a loveseat that sat probably 3 feet away from the TV, and for our first Christmas together we had to take down our table for two (literally all you could fit at that table) to make room for a tree. We disassembled the table and slid it under our bed and put our tree up and... oh crap. Ornaments. We didn't have any! and we were poor. We didn't really feel poor because we just got married and were so in love and who cares if you're poor?! So I went to work. I made cupcake felt ornaments with hot glue and pom poms and hung them on our tree. My husband said "those are really neat! I haven't ever seen any like that before! You should try to sell some!" and so on November 17th 2007 I started an Etsy shop and named it The Cupcakery so I could sell my felt Christmas ornaments. and the rest is history. :)

The Cupcakery @ Spring Bada Bing 2011

It was much easier to craft before having a baby, but I think I've actually gotten more accomplished since Emma was born. I feel like she's made this all important. I want to surround her with all of the beauty and creativity I can find. I want her to develop a stronger confidence than I ever had. I want her to see that great things can be accomplished with patience, love, ideas and your two hands. When people ask me what I do for a living, I get to say mommy, but I also get to say "I have a little boutique and sell things that I make" and I'm really proud to say it. My family has worked really hard for me, and it wouldn't be fair to them if I didn't take pride and joy in what I do.

The Cupcakery @ Spring Bada Bing 2011

It was a great show. It was the best spring show I've had to date. I had great customers, great feedback on my new stuff, got to see crafty friends that I haven't seen since December, and walked away with some incredible inspiration. I'm hoping that will carry over until next month, because I have my first out of state show in Maryland and I have some restocking to do before then!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

My little girl was sick all day on Friday. Threw up everything. It was her first stomach bug. I think I earned my mom badge for sure. My husband and I worked together flawlessly as a team to wash laundry, stock up on pedialyte, and sneak some small bites of applesauce in Emma. Saturday everything seemed back to normal. I woke up on Sunday at 4 in the morning throwing up every 10 minutes. (thanks for sharing, Emma!) I was sick all day, and it took me all of Monday to recover. I could hardly open my eyes I was so worn out. Tuesday was my birthday and we tried to have a little fun, but Emma woke up with a fever and it got worse throughout the day. At midnight last night her entire body turned cherry red. I was so scared. I couldn't even sleep. I put my laptop in her room and thanks to season one of The Fresh Beat Band she was mildly entertained and I eventually passed out. She slept for most of today and it seems like we may be coming out of this funk. I would trade my birthday cake for snuggles with my little girl anytime, but maybe next year she can be well. We're planning a cookout next Saturday and I'm looking forward to eating some good food with my family, indulging in as many cupcakes as my heart desires and hiding easter eggs for my pretty girl. For right now... I'm trying to keep this house together. I spent hours last night washing all of the bedsheets, blankets, lysoling everything in sight, wiping all of her toys with antibacterial wipes... if you can name it, it's been cleaned. Gives a totally new definition to spring cleaning. Thanks virus, but you can find a new home. You are not welcome here.

Oh, and did I mention I have one of my biggest shows of the season on Sunday? I am three days behind on my work, but I've got enough heart to make up for it. If you're in Richmond, come by and say hello!

Monday, March 21, 2011

I have been at a loss of words lately. My heart feels so cluttered with meaningless worry and anxiety. This happens from time to time. It steals the joy I find in the everyday things I used to love, and that includes creating.

It took a few days, but I'm feeling a little better now. I spent my free time today going through my vintage fabric collection. I cut some of my fabric into fat quarters so it would be a bit more manageable, and then I set some aside to share :) I'd like to trade some and I'll probably add a few in my shop. I'm parting with the prints that I've used a lot and want to swap out for some other patterns, or with prints that I got a king sized sheet of and there's just simply too much fabric for one girl.

Is that a bad problem to have? :)

Thursday, March 10, 2011

pattern pattern pattern!

I've always been a terrible student. I cannot follow instructions. There is a disconnect from the words on a page to the signals in my brain to my fingertips. It just doesn't work. I accepted it years ago and I learn in my own unique ways. :)

I feel like I'm constantly pushing myself to learn new things and to improve my seamstress skills (note: creative, but still minimal). I've always wanted to have a little frilly unique dress and skirt collection for my shop and until recently I haven't wholeheartedly pursued it. Right now I'm heavily inspired by my daughter, by spring, by vintage whimsy. I whipped up 11 skirts last week and this week I decided I'd try my hand at a few dresses. Newborn dresses, that is! I searched high and low for some cute unique handmade dresses for Emma before she was born and didn't find any (well, not any that I could afford, I bet they were worth it but I'm not spending more than $30 on a dress for a baby!) I pulled out an old newborn dress, took some measurements, and went to sketching.

pattern making

It's nothing super fancy, trust me, but I still made it! I started off by sewing patterns I purchased, and then when I got comfortable with that I started ripping apart thrifted dresses to mimic the pattern, and this is my first try at pulling out a pencil, ruler and pattern paper. My first try at constructing it failed (I sewed it all wrong, armhole nightmare... I cut it in half with my pinking shears and cried for 20 minutes!) but tonight I got it right :)

I think I'm going to sew up 5 of these cute little newborn dresses and then my next attempt... enlarging my own pattern. eep! Why am I intimidated by the littlest of things? I'm completely self taught by trial and error. I'm sure it would be easier if I could follow instructions and read and have someone teach me. sigh!

Monday, March 7, 2011

vintage bug!

I have it bad. I've always been into vintage... embarrassing story alert: we watched The Brady Bunch when we were little and unlike my sister, I mostly loved it so I could see all of the mod dresses the Brady girls were wearing. I wanted them all. I begged my mom to make me clothes like them. She finally caved and made me a couple of floral 60s inspired numbers ;) I wore them to school all the time (and got picked on unmercifully for it, sigh!) anyways, ever since I was little I've been very fond of pretty things with vintage charm.

I've been scouring the thrift shops for vintage sheets (for my latest sewing projects, and a few to keep), vintage toys (for Emma), vintage storybooks (for all of us to enjoy), vintage dishes (for the dining room china cabinet), vintage clothes (for both Emma and I!)... you get the hint. I go out thrifting a few times a week. It gives us something to do. We sing songs in the car to and fro. I get to cuddle her as we walk the aisles. She likes flipping through the hangers. We read all the kids books in one of the shops. It's a lot of fun :)

Yesterday I pulled down the vintage little people barn that I found last fall at my favorite thrift shop. I think it was $10. It was really dusty & dirty and took a lot of scrubbing to get clean, but it is as good as new now! We played with it all morning until lunchtime (no spaghetti sauce on this toy that has lived 40 years so far, please!)...

I've been meaning to photograph some of my recent finds. One of these days :) What vintage finds have you found lately?

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Pretty Little Skirts

The Froggy Skirt

The Chicky Skirt

The Panda Skirt

The Elephant Skirt

The first vintage linens I ever purchased were from a little old lady at a church yardsale up the street from my house. I was looking for clothes for Emma but I ran across her little square on the parking lot and spotted them immediately. All bundled up, 2 pillowcases and a sheet for $4. She said they were on her guest bed for years and she was happy they were going to a new home. I didn't have the heart to tell her that eventually I was going to chop them all up! If she saw that little chick skirt up there, I'm sure she'd agree that they were re-purposed appropriately ;) and my dear husband... bless his heart. He must have thought I was on crack when I started scouring thrift shops twice a week to buy old lady sheets. He totally gets my vision now and even helps me with my hunt for pretty vintage sheets :)

These little skirts are my newest little creations. I like that I could add a little touch of my trademark felt whimsy to them ;) There are two others that I need to photograph tomorrow, a puppy and a bunny... and now I'm out of pillowcases. Sad! :( As if sheets weren't hard enough to find, pillowcases are even tougher. I'm on the hunt so I can fluff my inventory for some spring markets, but for now, these 6 will have to do. :) Some are in my shop now, and some more will be added tomorrow and Saturday. I was trying to think of my next project, but it just may be sewing something pretty up for my own little pretty girl. :)