Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Coming Soon: Fabric Gift Wraps for WEDDINGS!

I've been wanting to offer fabric gift wraps for weddings and bridal showers for quite some time now, but the challenge was in finding the appropriate fabric. Weddings are one of those occasions where people tend to put a little more effort into having a nicely wrapped gift than say, birthdays or Christmas. To be honest, I'm not entirely certain what the reason behind this phenomenon is since the bride and groom tend to be a little distracted by the whole getting married thing ~ maybe it's because nobody wants to be "that guy" who has a gift wrapped in old newspaper being displayed throughout the entire reception among all the nice, aesthetically pleasing, store-wrapped gifts. 

Whatever the reason, it seemed like if I could find the right fabric, these could be a big hit and maybe even turn people on to my fabric gift wraps for other occasions, too. The problem was that my normal go-to fabric thus far has been fun cotton prints. Wedding-appropriate cotton prints are remarkably difficult to find, and even if I could find them, they would probably be white, and white cotton is pretty much completely see-through - obviously not ideal for gift wrapping. I'd have to do a lining, which would mean extra fabric and extra work, considerably raising the price relative to my other wraps.

And then... I had an idea...


It's perfect. It comes in beautiful shiny white and silver brocades, pretty patterns that are so nice for weddings. AND, best of all, it's nice and thick, so even if it's the whitest white, it still won't be see-through. Bingo!

I was passing by a fabric store while I was out and about this weekend, and popped in to see if they had what I was looking for, and I found these two.

One is a shiny white satin brocade with a medallion pattern. The other is a lighter satin in gorgeous pale lavender with floral vines. Here's a closer look. Aren't they just lovely? 

Saturday, May 23, 2009

And the Winner Is...

Congratulations to Salad for Breakfast, the soon to be proud (I hope!) owner of a free fabric gift wrap. Yay! Woohoo! Way to go! (Is that enough excitement?) 

I used the random name picker fruit machine found here to choose the winner. I thought about writing down all the names and putting them in a hat or some such thing, but I figured somebody *must* have written a program for it - and sure enough I found one. Speaking of random name pickers, Elfster is a fantastic site for administering Secret Santas. Yes, I know it's May, and I realize that anyone who reads this will probably forget about it by the time it would be useful but I just thought of it and wanted to share. We used it for my family's swap last year, and it was the first time in as long as I can remember that the Secret Santa was actually *secret.* I also used it to organize a long-distance swap between my college friends who are now scattered around the country. Check it out! It's fun :)

Now that I've gotten completely sidetracked... back to the contest. Salad for Breakfast will be receiving a medium fabric gift wrap and ribbon, in this lovely floral print that she selected:

Many thanks to everyone who entered and helped me decide what color background to use for the mice - PINK it is! with orange a close second. Now to change the photos in my shop...

For those who didn't win, I'm sorry :( ... BUT you can sign up to follow my blog, so you can be the first to know the next time I have a giveaway!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

DIY Light Box & Gift Wrap Giveaway!!

If you're not interested in my homemade light box and you're just here for the give-away, scroll down until you see the three pics of fuzzy mice - you'll find the details there. For the rest of you, here it is...

I found the instructions for this here (many other useful articles on this site as well) and I thought it could be really helpful for getting better pics for my etsy shop. Pretty much everyone will tell you that natural light is the best for photographing items, and while that is mostly true, natural light is just not a reality for some of us. So the light box is a pretty good alternative. I looked at some of the collapsible light tents for sale, and they are soo expensive! Especially for something that strongly resembles the kitty tent I bought at walmart for less than $10 - except it's white.  Thank heavens for DIY!

The box I used was a rectangular Fresh Direct box - it was the deepest one from my latest grocery delivery (dimensions are 18w x 14h x 10.5d). The tutorial recommended as square a box as possible, but I don't think mine suffers any from being non-square - though more height and depth would allow me more space to photograph larger items. 

I had never heard of bristol board before, but I went to an art supply store and bought some sheets of standard poster board - not sure if it's the same thing, but it worked just fine. I bought three sheets of white (only used two) and four different colors for backgrounds - pink, orange, purple and brown. The only muslin fabric I have is off-white, so I just used plain white printer paper on the sides and an old white T-shirt for the top. 

The instructions in the tutorial were great - really detailed and easy to follow. Cutting the box took me a while, probably because I was using scissors most of the time. I switched to a knife when I was cutting the top off the box and it was soo much easier - I wish I had used it from the beginning. Two sheets of white posterboard was more than enough to cover the inside of the box and make a background.

All in all, I paid a little over $8 to make this light box - including 5 different backgrounds.
- Box: Free
- Tape, scissors, printer paper, old T-shirt: Free 
- Poster board: $0.85 per sheet (white) and $1 per sheet (colored) + tax
- Glue stick: $1 + tax

Here is a sample picture of one of my most difficult to photograph items - a fuzzy catnip mouse. I think it came out a lot better than the pics I currently have up, and the colors are very true. 

And now for the giveaway details!
All you have to do to enter is post a comment here letting me know which of the above backgrounds looks best with my fuzzy catnip mice (orange, white, or pink). One person will be chosen at random to win *** a free small, medium, or wine bottle sized fabric gift wrap!***

To check out the wraps I have for sale, click here for the fabric wrap section of my etsy shop. Let me know if you have a preference for size, color, and print, and I'll try to accomodate you. For those too lazy to check them out on my shop (seriously, you should! there's lots of info there! - and I'm too lazy to re-type it all here :p ), here's a sample pic. 

Make sure you leave me your email, or else I won't be able to notify you if you win!! Don't worry, I promise I won't spam you.  :)

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Loofahs Galore

After several attempts, I have finally created the perfect loofah - at least, I think so. It's been a bit of a crafting adventure with trials and errors, but I am quite pleased with the end result. The first attempt (first pic below) was inspired by my math geek bf who introduced me to the concept of the hyperbolic plane. I still don't really get the exciting math behind it (something about lines? I dunno), but I thought gee, that sure looks like a loofah. So here's the first one, which was done in worsted weight 100% cotton yarn, single crocheted in spirals with lots of increases. It came out looking fun (albeit a tad small), but when  I tried to use it in the shower, it acted much more like a washcloth than a loofah - by which I mean it ate my soap. 

Enter Loofah number two. This time, I scouted out the interwebs for a thinner yarn, looking for sport or fingering weight, and preferably a cotton blend rather than 100% - perhaps some nylon or acrylic content to make it less absorbent and quicker drying. AnnieKints, a fellow etsy seller, had exactly what I was looking for. In her destash, she had one 50g ball of Bernat Cool Crochet, a sport weight, 70% cotton 30% nylon blend. Bingo. 

So I crocheted up my second loofah with the new yarn, this time using a larger hook, double crochet, and more increases. And the conclusion is... it works. The yarn is perfect. It takes only a little more soap than one of the cheap-o nylon mesh loofahs you can buy at the drugstore. It doesn't get as sudsy as those, but it's plenty sudsy enough and sooo soft. I've been using it for the past few weeks and I love it - functionally. Aesthetically, it still left a little to be desired. I did it in spirals and just kind of ended when it seemed big enough, which gives it this weird lopsided look. It's good enough for me, but not good enough to sell. 

So I started loofah the third, using the same cotton/nylon yarn, also using double crochet and the same size hook. It was coming out great, much rounder and loofah-y-looking than number two... and then... I ran out of yarn. Sigh. Fifty grams does not go nearly as far as I would like it to, and these loofahs use up a surprisingly large amount of yarn.

Sadly, there was no more of this yarn to be found on etsy, but I did find an ebay seller who had a bunch of skeins in stock. But it was a new auction with 5 days left. Boo. I prefer "buy it now" listings - yay for instant gratification - especially when I need it to finish a project I've already begun. 

I won two of the four auctions, for a total of 10 skeins of this stuff - 4 in the cream color I was using and 6 more in 4 different colors, which just arrived today. Here's the whole lot, pictured with my mostly complete loofah number three. 

With 10 skeins of this, and each skein making approximately two loofahs, I am soon to have loofahs out the wazoo (or is it up the wazoo? I dunno). The purple's pretty dark so I definitely want to test it myself to see if it runs before putting one in my shop. Also, I am intending to make the pattern available on here for free once I get it finalized. But first, I have to finish loofah the third, which is part of a shamefully late birthday present for my cousin (along with some whipped clean body wash from another etsy seller - GudonyaToo. I haven't tried any of their products yet, but it smells yummy)