Thursday, January 29, 2009

Day at the Museum

Last Saturday we took an impromptu road trip to the Indianapolis Children's Museum. I say impromptu because we had planned to go to Chicago but due to some unforeseen circumstances we were not able to go, so since we were all psyched up to go somewhere we decided to visit the #1 rated children's museum in the nation. It did NOT disappoint!

We saw gorgeous Chinese dragons...

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... and HUGE dinosaurs!

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Some of these had real fossilized bones, so that was exciting!

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Then we saw miniature villages...

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And played in tiny doll houses...

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Even had lunch with the three bears...

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We tried to stand as tall as the polar bear...

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And pretended to be "under the sea"...

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We saw incredible glass sculptures by Chihuly...

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And marveled at the beauty of the glowing, colorful organic shapes above us...

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All in all it was an amazing trip. And hey, did you notice that Sydney wore her Frida dress and matching head scarf? Yes, we finally gave it a test drive and it passed the Sydney test with flying colors! PHEW!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Chatty Patty

Jon always says I have the gift of gab, but I think today I've definitely outdone myself! So, if you're not sick of me yet, you can hear me, see me and read me at the following places:

Hear Me: Lori Vanmaanen of Sew Forth Now did a Podcast interview with me last Friday. If you have 41 minutes to spare (and who doesn't?) check this out... I chat about everything from growing up in a third-world country, to how I got into fabric design, to the CPSIA, to working with chopsticks (seriously!) And if you make it till the end of the interview, you'll even get a virtual sneak peek of my new fabric collection, Mezzanine. Nope, no pictures yet, but I do describe it in detail so if you have a good imagination you may be able to conjure up some images. It'll be fun to see how close you get, eh?

See Me: My dear friend, Daria, of Boutique Café, just posted a fun videocast of her visit with me at Fall Quilt Market. This interview is different from the live videocast I posted a while back. This one actually takes place on location at my booth, so you can get a feel of the space and the sewn items I presented. Please disregard the fact that I was chewing gum through the whole interview (how rude!) and that my name tag was hanging off one string until it finally popped off (eeek!)


Read Me: And finally, the nice folks at Quilt Home emailed me today to tell me that they just received the entire Andalucia line in their store and that they are featuring me on their most recent member newsletter. Oh, and to top it all off, they are offering a 20% discount on Andalucia purchases using the coupon code below... but hurry this offer ends on January 31st!


And since I'm in a chatty mood, I wanted to thank you all for the pattern love. So thrilled you all like Lil' Chef and Frida. Thanks so much for the suggestions on what sort of accessory to offer with Frida. An overwhelming majority voted for a head scarf (kerchief) so I got to work on a fun tutorial for it and it turned out super cute. Plus, I decided at the last minute to add a 3rd version to the pattern, so now it'll have Version A, B & C plus the kerchief! Fun, fun, fun! My next post will have some fun pictures of our day trip to Indianapolis in which Sydney wore her Frida dress and matching kerchief... it was a sure hit!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Testing, testing 1-2-3

Seems to be the million-dollar-word right now: testing. We're already feeling the impact of the CPSIA... companies all over the nation are beginning to test their products for lead and other harmful substances. Retailers already refuse to accept products from their vendors without testing certification. February 10th is just around the corner...

I was pleased to find out today that Michael Miller Fabrics just sent an email to all their customers stating that their 100% Cotton Sheeting and Flannel that Michael Miller Fabrics manufactures meets the hazardous material requirements of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act. (Click here to see test results.) Well, that's good to know! Now we just need to put all our strengths together to make sure they amend the law to accept "component testing."

In addition to this, I was browsing on Twitter this afternoon, when Anna from Sweet Dreams Designs twittered that she recently had Andalucia tested via XRF gun by The Smart Mama and it passed with flying colors! PHEW! Well, of course it did, but it's always reassuring to get that sort of info confirmed by 2 separate sources!

I've been doing a bit of "testing" of my own, but not on fabrics. I've been working day and night on my new line of boutique sewing patterns and I'm just giddy with excitement about it. Let's just say that I've had to become BFFs with Adobe Illustrator CS4... from drafting the pattern itself to making the small mechanical drawings that accompany the instructions, this is a job best suited for a vector program and Illustrator is IT for me.

The first pattern, Lil' Chef, was finished this past weekend and it is off to the "testers" this week with specific instructions to "not be shy about telling me if it stinks!" I want to make sure these are perfect in every way and if I need to re-draft it from scratch, I will. Here's a sneak peek of the front cover of the pattern instruction booklet (check out my little ham!):

lil-chef-cover

I've also been hard at work on my second boutique pattern. This is a dress/tunic top that is loosely inspired by a Mexican housedress, but updated with some girlie details. I call it Frida. The pattern has been drafted and graded. The instructions have been written, but before I send this one off to my testers, I need to do my own testing (plus it helps me get rid of some of this old fabric stash that's been hanging 'round my studio for months... er... years!)

The little one, with the lemon fabric, was actually my 2nd test. The 1st one was so bad that I took it apart immediately and reused the fabric. eeek! This 2nd test was much better but the fit was not perfect yet. I'm lucky to have a live-in 3T/4T model and a 6/7 model to "test" these on. ;) I went on to make the one on the left with the gorgeous Madame Butterfly fabrics and I'm pleased to announce the fit was perfect and the target audience (a.k.a. Sophie) was thrilled with the result!

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Frida also comes in dress length with two adorable patch pockets. I made this version in Sydney's size (3T/4T) to see how it fit and it was perfect again! Third time's a charm, right?! ;)

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Check out the pocket detail... it has elastic at the top.

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Both, the tunic top and the dress versions of Frida, have ties on the side. Frida is loose fitting so it can be worn over a tee during the Winter (as Sophie did today) or by itself during the warm months. I think it would also be cute made up in muslin cloth and used as an art smock over regular clothes.

frida-prototypes4

I'm thinking of adding an accessory to this pattern... maybe a headscarf. Any ideas?

Now that I know Frida works, I just have to print out some copies, send it to my testers and make some prototypes out of Andalucia....hmmmm... or maybe even out of Mezzanine. What? What's Mezzanine, you say? Well, that's the name of my next fabric collection, due out at Spring Quilt Market (May 2009.) Shhhhh... that's all I can say about that! (don't even try to get any more out of me... you know I'm weak!)

OK, so speaking of testing, I think life was really trying to test my patience (or sanity) tonight! First, I lost my favorite serving plate as it slid off the counter -- with the dinner on top of it -- and broke into a million pieces on the kitchen floor. Then, as I was kissing the girls goodnight, I heard a super loud POW! coming from the first floor. I tip-toed down the stairs, afraid of what I might find. Well, what I discovered was that an almost full bottle of liquid detergent had fallen off the top of my washing machine and busted completely! There was a 1/2" deep film of blueness on the laundry room floor and splatter marks that went 5 feet up the wall and covered the washer, dryer and hamper. Yes, lovely!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Back in the saddle...

Thank you all soooo much for your sweet comments on my last post regarding my malfunctioning online shopping hand. It pains me to hear that so many of you are experiencing or have experienced this in the past... it surely is crippling! Well, I haven't seen the doc yet, but I'm beginning to think that it may not have been CTS after all because after some much needed rest and a long break from the computer (darn Twitter!) it is feeling much better. Maybe my mom was right...

Anyhoo, today marks the end of the 1st week of the Andalucia eBay launch, which means that a lot of the auctions will be ending soon! Hurry up and check these out before they're gone. A few of my favorite ladies have recently listed some amazing outfits and I wanted to share these with you. Not only am I in total awe of the cool stuff they made with my fabric (still pinching myself!) but I am also a sucker for great photography and adorable models, so I just cannot stop staring at these...

smallsomething has 3 gorgeous Andalucia auctions up right now! Here's 1 of them:

gigglez-n-grinz combined Andalucia with Elsie in this adorable dress! LOVE IT!

Adorable appliqued jeans and jumper by liltumblebugs

Check out silly*jilly's amazing sets (there's 2 of them that you can mix & match!)

I adore all the details & trims used in Cree's newest creation:
You have to see this listing by mamigirlboutique. A fantastic 3-pc. set!

Adorable peasant top & apron skirt by my friend Amie of princess*picasso:
How cool is this jacket & stripwork skirt from simplee*weea!?

mmmmm... are these great or what? I'm just so thrilled to see how everyone was able to get inspired in such different ways by Andalucia. There's still 1 more week left on the launch and more items are listed daily so please keep checking! Support handmade!!!

***THIS JUST IN!***
Above All Fabric is celebrating their 1 year anniversary in a BIG way! They are having an awesome GIVEAWAY on their blog, including some Andalucia! Check out their blog to enter. (Above all Fabric carries the entire selection of Andalucia Fabrics and ribbons.)
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Friday, January 16, 2009

Heat therapy or retail therapy?

It didn't take me long to break my promise of featuring items from the Andalucia eBay launch every day. But see, I have an excuse. I'm suffering from what I can only describe as carpal tunnel syndrome... or at least that's what I think it might be. I haven't actually been to the doctor (and I'll explain why in a bit) but I have this shooting pain that starts in the area between my thumb and index finger and shoots all the way up my arm almost to my elbow. It aches badly even as I type this but I just felt like I needed to do something productive after spending an entire day slouching on the couch with my hand slathered in IcyHot, wrapped in gauze and stuffed under a heating pad (I don't even know if these are the correct things to do but they seem to help!)

I haven't used a computer mouse in months. Since I got my new Wacom Tablet I've used the stylus exclusively and I used to brag to others that this was more ergonomically friendly than a mouse because you hold it just like you would a pencil or pen. Well, I've had this pain now for 3 whole days and it's only getting worse. I even switched back to a mouse, after Jon's insistence, but it's not feeling any better. Mom thinks it's my body telling me I work too hard... whateva!

To add insult to injury, the frigid temperatures in this frozen tundra we live in aren't helping my physical (or mental) condition at all! My kids have been out of school for 3 days now and it's driving us all batty. We haven't left the house since Tuesday and I've been living in my PJs this whole time. You know, sometimes a girl just needs to put on a pretty outfit and some make-up to feel ... well... girly.

Today (3rd day in the bunker, a.k.a. home) the kids were fighting and screaming so I had the brilliant idea (NOT!) to go outside and make snow angels & stuff. It took us 20 minutes to get into our snow gear! We layered up big time. I made sure my bad hand was nicely wrapped up. Well, as soon as we walked out the back door our noses turned beet red. We didn't even last 3 minutes before Sydney started crying because she was too cold. We ran back inside and soaked our hands in lukewarm water. I checked the temps and it was 0° with a windchill factor of -14°. All you Minnesotans are probably thinking Wimps!, but this Florida mama and her Florida baby chicks think these are inhuman conditions to live in. brrrrrr...

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So, if you're experiencing sub-zero temps like we are, the best cure in my book is some good ol' retail therapy of the online variety (well, unless your shopping fingers are malfunctioning at the moment like mine).

Check out these cool items for women & the home I found while browsing the Andalucia launch on eBay:

Easter baskets (or cute purse or home decor) by *ladesigns*

Ribbon Key Fobs (many styles to choose from) by girlygirl*bowtique:

Custom Camera Bag by priddy*creations:

Original painting by sweetimaginations:

Mommy & Me aprons by one*boy*one*girl*boutique:

Decoupage Mommy Jeans by surfermomkelly:

Sewing Machine Cover by nanabobana!:

Incognito wallet by grahamcrafters:

Oh, and yes, I did list a couple of pillows (didn't wanna miss out on all the fun):

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WOW, that was painful! OK, now I really gotta go rest my hand. If any of you know of any home remedies for carpal tunnel syndrome, please share with me. I'm going back under the heat for now...

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Rest your eyes on this...

Today's been an emotional rollercoaster for me. Been chatting with several businesses who have had to shut their doors due to the CPSIA... mostly because their buyers won't accept their products without proper certification and this certification costs more than the products themselves do. Sad, sad times.

Which is why I want to give the ladies over on eBay as much exposure as I can these days. I am crossing fingers, toes, and eyes that this ill-conceived law gets repealed before Feb. 10th, but if for some reason it doesn't, this might be your last chance to get yourself some adorable handmade goodies for your child. (not trying to be dramatic here, just realistic)

Check out my features of the day: (more to come, I promise!)





I hope to showcase different designs each day, if time permits. Tomorrow, I'll share some designs for women & for the home!

If you haven't already done so, please hop on over to Change.org and vote to repeal the CPSIA. Your vote can make a difference!
SAVE HANDMADE!
Another excuse to buy fabric...

...as if you needed one, right? The nice folks at Fabric.com emailed me yesterday to thank me for linking to their online store and were sweet enough to offer me a $5 coupon code to post on my blog for my readers to use... that's YOU! The coupon is valid for a one-time purchase per user and does not expire until the end of year.

Here ya go:

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Here's a few guidelines to remember when using the coupon:
  • To receive the discount, you MUST type the Code into the Coupon or Promotional Code box of the Order Form. Discount can not be applied if not entered at time order is placed.
  • There is a limit of one coupon per order.
  • Coupons can not be applied to retroactively to previously placed orders.
Hey, you may even want to use it to get yourself some Andalucia! They do carry 12 prints from the collection! ;) Click here to view their Andalucia selection and ... HAPPY SHOPPING!

***OH AND THIS JUST IN!***

Lanie Jane Fabrics is having a 20% SALE on all Andalucia fabrics. Click here to shop their site (they carry the entire collection!) and click here to check out a fun contest on their blog.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Today's THE DAY!

Last week I mentioned that a group of über-talented designers were coming together to showcase pieces made from Andalucia fabric and/or ribbons on eBay. I've been chatting with these women for a few weeks now (all 121 of them! WHOA!) and I simply cannot believe the day is finally here. It feels like old times for me, as this is the industry I came from and how I got my feet wet in the textiles world.

So, without much further ado, I present to you:

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Search "Boutique Andalucia" on eBay to find these fabulous pieces by some of the most talented designers I've ever come across. You will find everything from children's boutique clothing, to jewelry for mom & daughter, purses, camera accessories (bags, straps, lens cozies), Easter baskets, hairbows, headbands, aprons, wall decor... and even dog collars!

I will be featuring items here hopefully on a daily basis, although if I skip a day here & there, please don't shoot me... I'm a busy gal! ;)

Finally I'd like to thank the leaders and moderators of this eBay group, who worked tirelessly to make this launch a reality. Thanks so much, Erin, Karen, Kristen, Jen and Jamie! You girls ROCK!

Below's a little taste of what you'll see in the next few days...

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Awesome, eh?

The launch will go on for 2 whole weeks so keep checking for more Andalucia goodies listed each day!
CPSIA and how it will affect YOU, the consumer

If you read my blog chances are you also read other craft-related blogs out there and are probably sick of seeing the acronym CPSIA all over the web. I hope you don't turn away when you see the title of this post because you think this is some sort of industry-related stuff that does not pertain to you, the consumer, the buyer. Just give me a couple of minutes to explain how this law will also affect you, if it indeed goes into effect on February 10th, 2009.

If you think the internet is saturated with CPSIA rants that is because February 10th is right around the corner and people are finally starting to realize that it's too close for comfort.

Here are a few questions I'd like to ask you:
  • Have you purchased handmade, or "boutique," clothes or accessories for your kids in the past?
  • Have you ever gone into your local family-owned toy shop in search of unique toys for your children? Something perhaps you can't find at Walmart or Toys R Us?
  • Have you ever received a handmade quilt, baby blanket or pillow for your child?
  • Have you ever purchased anything for your child at a local arts & craft fair? or at your school? or at your church?
  • Have you ever commissioned a special piece of furniture (crib, rocking chair, high chair, doll house) from a local artisan?
  • Have you purchased anything on Etsy, and I mean anything (jewelry, shoes, toys, clothes, hairbows, bibs, burp cloths, blankets, booties, books) for your kids in the past?
If you answered yes to any of the above questions, then this law will affect you too. (But even if you prefer to buy from large toy & clothing manufacturers, this law will still affect you... read on.) As a little background, the CPSIA stands for Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, and it was written after high levels of lead were found in toys and other children products manufactured in China. I'm sure most of you remember that mess a few months ago! Well, we are all in favor of protecting our children from dangerous substances, that is not the issue here. The issue is that the way this law is written the only items on the shelves that will be available for children will be coming from these large manufacturers that created the problem in the first place, because they are the only ones who will be able to afford the very costly third-party testing for lead and phthalates as mandated by this law.

And just to clarify, we are not asking for this law to be obliterated. We all care about the safety of our children. We are just asking for it to be amended to protect innocent small businesses across America which mostly started as a result of wanting to give parents and children a safer alternative to mass-produced toys & clothes.

What does this mean for our economy? If this law goes into effect, hundreds of thousands of indie designers, seamstresses & crafters will have to cease producing their adorable handmade goods because they won't be able to afford the cost of testing and certification (and if you're wondering just how costly these tests are, check out this comprehensive article written by Happy Panda. She has done extensive research on this matter!). It also means that hundreds of thousands of children's boutiques, indie bookstores and privately-owned toy stores across the nation will have to close their doors because their vendors will be gone and they won't be able to afford testing of their own. No wonder they are calling February 10th, 2009 "National Bankruptcy Day"!

And what does this mean for you, the consumer? It pretty much means that if this law goes into effect, you will no longer be able to buy gorgeous handmade clothes, shoes or accessories for your children. It also means that you will not find small-run, handmade, unique toys at your local privately-owned toy store and you will probably never see children's products sold a Craft Fairs across the country again. But if you do happen to see any of these products available after February 10th, they will now bear overinflated prices because their makers will have to add on the cost of testing and certification. Be prepared to pay $800 - $1000 for a custom boutique outfit that used to only cost $100 - $200. And speaking of over-inflated prices, you will see these on mass-produced children's items from large manufacturers too as these companies will incur the high costs of testing as well.

But there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Just as I was writing this post, I came across this article (via Boutique Cafe) that states that "[CPSC Spokesperson, Patti Davis] said hand-made, one-of-a-kind items likely will be exempt, which would allow small-time crafters and seamstresses of children’s products to continue making and selling original products.” This is a promising assertion, but unfortunately is not an official ruling at this point (note the use of the word "likely"). I hope we can make it official.

So, what can you do to help? There are several ways you can make your opinion be heard:
  • Sign this petition to repeal the CPSIA
  • Vote for this idea on Change.org to be presented to President Elect Obama on inauguration day
  • If you feel so inclined, contact your Senator and Congressman/woman regarding this issue
  • Spread the word! The more people that are aware of this the better.
Thanks for staying with me through this long and grueling post. I can't stress enough how important this issue is. If I find out any updates I will post them here.

P.S. I do want to add that because this law was so poorly written, it has been interpreted differently by just about everyone out there. I was just chatting today with some business owners that I have gotten to know well over the years and everyone seems to have a different opinion as to whether this law will affect them or not, and also whether the law is retroactive. If anything comes out of all this publicity, I will hope at least it will force the law-makers to take a closer look at how the law is written and make any necessary exemptions and clarifications before it is too late.

**Getting off my soap box now**

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Feature Me, Feature You

Had a couple spare minutes to do some blog-surfing and found some sites out there featuring either me or my fabric (I'm SO thankful for the exposure!), so I thought I'd share.
  • True Up is doing a 2009 Fabric Forecast and they asked a few designers to share their plans for this year. I'm sharing my plans for Spring Quilt Market, so read here to find out what I'm up to. FunQuilts and Amy Butler are also spilling the beans... as if you cared! ;)
  • A brand new blog for fabric aficionados just started a few days ago! It's called The Fabric Shopper. Bookmark this site right away if you are one of us! Today they are featuring Andalucia and where to buy it online.
  • This quilt shop owner did an amazing display for Valentine's Day using all of the Fire & Petal Andalucia fabrics. I'm so amazed by the creativity in this display.... check it out!
So, since I'm feeling all warm & fuzzy inside (those of you who follow me on Twitter already know that my heater at home was broken all day, so feeling warm & fuzzy inside is quite a commodity around here), I feel it's my turn to pay it forward and feature some of your products.

[BTW, thanks to everyone who has added their photos to the Andalucia Flickr Group. I'm amazed every day at the talent that surrounds me!]

How cute is this custom-made ModBlooms Earth pinafore from Etsy seller ThreeYellowStarfish? She also has one in Kiwi Flora and one in ModBlooms Petal. So many choices!!!



This Kiwi Flora shoulder bag from Etsy seller BlackBags is oh, so chic... and looks roomy and comfy too! :)



Heather from thepolkadottotspot has listed a set of 3 Cloth Play Blocks. These would make an excellent baby shower or birthday gift for that sweet baby in your life!



I'm loving this skinny scarf from Megan of Brassy Apple. Get yours here!



And how about this Hostess Apron from Etsy seller SimpleThings? It's so flirty and cool!



For the photography aficionados out there I found a few lens cozies & camera strap covers on Etsy.

This one is from SillyJilly.



This one is from SheaLynn.



And this one is from PriddyCreations.


Finally, if you're a Blythe, Pullip or Dal collector, you'll go nuts over these amazingly detailed dresses!

This one is from EuroTrash... check out the details!!



This one is from DollyMolly... so cute and a bargain at that price, if you ask me!



Wish I could feature all of you, but I'll have to do it a little bit at a time (I do want to keep my day job, ya know?!) But if any of you out there are curious to see more items made with Andalucia, just click on THIS LINK to be taken to these wonderful Etsy sellers. And next week, the eBay world will be flooded with Andalucia items during the launch (Jan. 13 - 20). I'll share a link then!

Thanks again to all of you out there making beautiful things with my fabric. You have no idea how much you inspire me and motivate me to design every day!