Monday, September 1, 2014

Around the World Blog Tour

Hello, and welcome! And if you're a regular, welcome back! Last week I was tagged by the super-stitch-talented Maria from Mia's Creations to take part in the Around the World Blog Hop. Maria is primarily a bag maker, and she does some of the most beautiful work--her stitching is drool-worthy, and I love seeing what fabrics she uses as she lives in a land far, far away and they're very different from what I find here in my corner of the world (in Philadelphia). 

I have to answer a series of questions for you folks, and then tag a few others to take part. So I'll just get started, then.

What am I working on?

I used to be the person who'd say "I'm only working on this one project, and then I'll start another." But I've been hopping all over with my crafts and have a few things going right now. I have all the bits for three wristlets laid out and ready for stitching on my sewing table. I have about half of a quilt made (or maybe less than half--I haven't decided yet). I've got half a dishcloth on my knitting needles. And I'm also working on a crocheted sweater. When I have a list of orders from customers (i.e. stuff my friends/family have asked me to make) it's almost always bags and purses. Here's the most recent bag I completed--an overnighter for a benefit event.

And my most recent post was about this lovely copy-cat shawl I made:

I do like to keep things varied, or else I do see myself getting bored with everything. Variety is delightful when it comes to creating.

When and why did you start your blog?

OK, I will forgive you completely and without question if you laugh at this notion (because I sure do). I started sewing in 2008. In 2009 I decided I would take part in a craft fair. I thought I was just the business, and that I would sell everything in five minutes ( I had so much stuff left over I decided to open an Artfire shop to sell things. I was going to get rich overnight and quit my job and be in high demand for my creations ( So I sat back and thought about who I am and how I am and decided that while I do love to create, high volume is not a love of mine. I keep my little shop open for some bits and bobs I come across that I think might be of interest, as well as the things I have time to create (but certainly don't need a gazillion of for myself) that I think someone might be interested in. It puts gas in the car, and that's just fine with me.

As far as my blog, I started that in 2009 as well. I had read that if you have an online shop that you should have a blog, so I started one (remember the getting rich? I also thought I'd have a gazillion followers overnight. :)  But I found that I love to blog and share what I'm making as well as any other little life bits. Sometimes I'll go back and reread my blog--I chuckle at my early attempts at photography, sometimes wonder what I was thinking when I wrote something, and check my own tutorials for a reminder on how to do something or what measurements I used. I certainly do laugh when I look at what I can do now as compared to what I did then and what I thought would sell like cakes that are hot just a few short years ago. But I love looking back on the vacations and birthdays and picnics and family events, seeing how my nephews have grown and remembering just how good a certain day felt from pictures I forgot I had taken. It's a fabulous way to catalog life.

This was the first picture I posted on my blog. It was my second post, which was a tutorial for how to make a toaster cover. I had so much to learn then, hahaha. 

Why do I make what I make?

I had originally learned to sew because I wanted to make clothes, but I was dissatisfied with my early attempts (even with taking sewing lessons) and felt a little deflated. But then I made my first bag and loved it. And with each ensuing bag I loved sewing them more and more and more. The fabric choices were endless, as were the shapes and styles. And best of all--nothing had to fit! No darts, no gathers, no adjustments for high waists or low waists or buxomy buxomness. Just sweet sweet stitching. And that's where I honed my stitch skills. It's very very different from garment sewing, of which I have a renewed interest (Project Runway will do that to a person) and hope to take another shot at that sewing genre. I also love making quilts but I don't do it often. I generally fall in love with a fabric line, get the whole line, and then cobble something together. By the time I've finished I'm annoyed with the whole process, so I tend to take a while between projects (it's really just the basting that I dread). 

While I've logged a gazillion hours at my sewing machine, the first crafts I learned were knitting and crocheting. I am not a great knitter, but I do loooove me some crochet. That's what I do when I'm binge watching TV, or chilling on the porch. It truly soothes me. I learned those at the side of my grandmother one Christmas vacation, and have been steadily creating things ever since. My other grandmother is deceased, and I regretted not asking her to teach me to sew (she was an accomplished seamstress). So what this looong answer boils down to is that the reason I make any of the things I make is it feels like a connection to the past. Down through generations women have cut and stitched and clothed their families and kept them warm and made things look pretty. Not much has changed for the most part, and I like feeling that connection to the past as my knitting needles click or as I thread a needle.

How does my work differ from others?

I don't think it does, really. There are oodles of folks out there making very similar things--bags, purses, accessories, quilts, and so on. There really isn't anything new under the sun, except for that moment when we discover it for ourselves. You can find a million zip pouch tutorials out there, all mind-numbingly similar. But the difference comes in with what you do with those. I recently took part in a blog hop for a new bag design. The thing that struck me was that even though we all used the exact same pattern, our fabric choices and little modifications we made along the way made each item truly unique. So while we all may be sitting around creating essentially the same things, we're bringing pieces of ourselves to it, depending on who we're making it for, why we're making it, or what we've got available to do so. It's the 'me' (or the 'you') in it that makes the piece unique, no matter what it is.

This crocheted 'wreath' on canvas is one of my favorite things. It hangs in the bedroom and I smile every morning when I wake up and see it.

This recent paper-piecing project is a bit of a fail, but it looks so cheery hanging up (also in the bedroom). 

These baseball jersey pillows remain the most popular thing I've ever posted on my blog.

What would you like to learn next?

Garment sewing. I can make tee-shirts and pajama pants, sometimes a cute top or skirt, but I generally stick to things that don't have precise fit as one of the requirements for success. I'd like to change that. True, if you handed me fabric and a pattern I could technically make it. But whether it would fit or look good? I'm thinking that would be more on the side of not-a-chance.

I'd also love to get better at free motion quilting. I love the look of it, and the endless variety of stitch designs you can create. I seem to have issues with it when I make a feeble attempt that put me off of trying harder, but it is something I'd like to achieve (even if it's only table runners and pot holders for a little while). 

I mentioned that I have a crochet sweater in the works. But I also have pattern and yarn for a very ambitious cable knit sweater. I have stitch anxiety over it, lol. But I'm going to go for it. I am hell-bent on knitting a sweater that fits and looks good (it's always been one or the other :)


Now that I've blathered on for a while, I'd like to introduce you to my three tagg-ees. Since this is an around-the-world hop, I decided on three from around the world that I thought would play along.

Esther blogs over at Happy in Red. She's a delightful lady who crochets in yarns I drool over and travels the world, sharing her adventures afterwards. She also sews, and quite often shares pictures of yummy-looking food. Her blog is bright, yet calming, and I always love whatever project she is working on at the moment. 

Jane (from Projects by Jane) is a bag-maker who hails from Singapore. Not only does she sew, she occasionally beads and tats. My mind is blown by the tatting--I tried it and ended up with a beautifully knotted ball of thread. Jane is quite funny, and will often regale us readers with her adventures around town. I love when she describes the 'customers' she encounters at her craft markets.

Eleni is from lovely Greece. Although her blogging is infrequent, she very often provides lovely peeks of what she is up to on Facebook and Instagram. Her quilts and pillows and other items are so whimsical and well-made and pretty, I love when her posts show up in my feed.

They're due to post on Monday, September 8th, so I do hope you'll hop over there and show them some love. If you're new here I hope you'll stick around a bit and follow along. You can catch me in all the social media places as well (check the top of the sidebar for the links). Thanks for stopping by!


  1. Bethany you are so funny! I have tried selling my creations over the many years I have been sewing/quilting. etc. It's not easy to sell at all! I am curious why you chose Artfire over Etsy? I tried Zibbet and haven't sold anything. I had a lot listed at one time, but the listings all expired after 4 months, and I only re-listed one thing. Takes so much time to list each thing and then not ever get a sale. There is way too much competition out there!

    I will check out those blogger that you tagged. I know I have seen one of them before.

  2. I loved your post and it made me realize that I too thought I'd make loads of money with my creations which I don't but it's so much fun making them and what I do sell keeps me in fabric and other things I need to keep my crafting going. That's the main thing, hubby can pay for the rest LOLLL I loved your crochet wreath and paper piecing that you have in your bedroom, it must be hard to leave in the morning and something to look forward to at night.

  3. I thought I'd be able to bust out 10 or so coin purses to sell (which... no). I so know what you mean! And garment sewing... can be totally frustrating. Once you finally succeed, though, it's addicting! =)



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