16 December 2007

Etsy In The News

In the magazine section of today's New York Times is an article about Etsy and the DIY craft resurgence. Titled Handmade 2.0, it is an excellent look into the beginnings of Etsy, and some of the ideals behind it.

As someone who sells on Etsy, I love seeing this kind of publicity for the site. It isn't just a cheery article about how great Etsy is; it also mentions some of the issues that the site, and the sellers, must deal with.

While I haven't sold much through Etsy, I have found it to be a wonderful place to list. I made a classic rookie mistake when I began listing - I expected buyers to just find me. Stupid, I know. However, I am learning and looking at ways to drive traffic to my Etsy shop myself - anyone that finds me through Etsy is a bonus sale!

Please read the article here. If you like it, please email the story to a friend through the NY Times web site, to help get the article listed in the Times Top 10 emailed articles. These appear in a box to the right side of each page, and I cannot tell you how often I look through there to see what is popular. A great way to support Etsy and all indie crafters working for themselves!

Under the Lights

I was finally able to see the production of Madeline's Christmas at the Germantown Community Theatre that I helped make costumes for. I had not seen the script, but read the book, so I was familiar with the story. However, I didn't realize that the blue gowns I made would be worn by the cast for over half of the production! It was rather exciting to see them on stage - I think they looked good, although I could point out the flaws with every one of them! Hazard of the trade--------

I hope some pictures will be posted online so that I can link to them, since I sadly I did not take any pictures while making them.

Quite a thrill to see my work up on stage!

13 December 2007

Hey - I Could Do That #2

And not only could I do it, I would have loved to have done it!! Done what? Last night's challenge on Project Runway. The designers were given a model, who were (in the shows terminology) "everyday women". They weren't tall, thin and barely in their 20s. But there was another twist - all of the women had lost of significant amount of weight!!! Good for them!! They were also wearing what was their favorite garment before their weight loss, and the design challenge was to use that outfit to make them a new one, that fit their personality and new body.

OH MY!!! I would so love to have done that challenge. First, I lost about 70 pounds a few years ago, so I know what is involved in getting it off, keeping it off, and also, how you have to readjust to the new body you see in the mirror. Second, I love to remake clothes. Not only does it keep perfectly good fabrics out of the landfills, it allows me (and anyone I remake things for) to keep their favorite garments around, just in a different form. Plus, it saves money! The only way I could keep myself clothed as I lost weight was to alter and remake as many things as possible. Some things that were in very good shape I didn't bother - I donated them to Goodwill for someone else to enjoy. But many of my clothes are the remade variety.

It was interesting to watch the various designers react to having non-traditional sized models (although get real - this is the majority of people out in the real world!!!) and also to having to use fabrics that were not of their choosing. Some succeeded brilliantly - I was very impressed with some of the outfits - while others never seemed to overcome the limitations they felt they had.

Whatever the designers may have felt about this challenge, I loved seeing what I do presented in a positive light. You CAN remade clothes and reuse fabrics, and still turning out stunning designs that can be work by everyday women!

Now, if I could just get someone to hire me to redesign their wardrobe---------

06 December 2007

Hey - I Could Do That!!

Tuesday evening I took my son to buy the DVD for the third Pirates of the Caribbeanmovie. We are big fans of this movie series, and now own all three DVDs, and as with most DVDs I watch, I always look through the special features to see what bits of knowledge I can pick up.

There is a special feature on Penny Rose, the costume designer, and the coat for Captain Teague (played by Keith Richards). She starts out showing the first version created - it was blue and reused the embroidery from church altarcloths!! However, the director didn't like the color, so they had to find something else.

The red one seen in the movie is made from curtains that were found in a Paris flea market! Oh, how I love that!! I cannot even begin to imagine what the costume budget was for this movie, yet she finds the fabric she needs in a flea market.

There were a couple of other fun details - they needed three versions of the coat - one for Richards, one for the photo double and one for the stunt man. Somehow they found enough fabric for all three. They also had to dye the fabric to get the right color, since the original red was too orange.

This is what I want to do - this is how I want to design costumes and wardrobes. Reuse as much as possible, to keep perfectly good fabrics from being thrown away and necessitating the creation of new ones. I know it won't work all the time (it may not even work MOST of the time), but having it as a starting place will hopefully keep me looking in the right direction.

03 December 2007

Buy Handmade

There is an online pledge available stating that you will buy handmade items this holiday season. Now I think this is a great idea - not only do I make things that I would LOVE for someone to purchase as a gift, but it also helps to personalize the gift. However, I have not signed the pledge. Why? Because for the majority of people I want to give gifts to, there is nothing I can think of to get that they would want that can be handmade. And let me quickly add - no one on my list really NEEDS anything. Everyone is able to purchase anything that they need (and mostly likely the majority of wants as well!) so that is not even an issue. When considering items to give each person, I try to take into account what they enjoy, what they could really use, and what they would appreciate having. And for many of them, handmade items don't seem to fit in.

My mom, however, is always happy to receive handmade items, especially if handmade by me! For Mother's Day this year, I sent her a variety of things that I made for her, and she commissioned me to make a shawl for her this summer. I even had some ideas on what to make for her for Christmas - but while visiting over Thanksgiving, I found that she really needs a meat thermometer and a thermometer for her oven since her thermostat seems to be way off. She can easily afford to go to the store and purchase them herself, but I thought these would be the perfect things I could get for her.

My dad also appreciates handmade gifts, and I made an afghan for him a few years ago -something to throw over his legs if he wants to take a nap in his recliner. But he doesn't need anything, and really has very few wants. My great idea was to take a picture of my son and two nephews at Thanksgiving, print it, frame it, and give it to him for Christmas. What a great idea, right? Except, I never got the picture taken!! Trying to get the three guys together without one of my parents noticing and commenting on it was hard enough (and yes, I could have just told them what I was up to and quit asking questions!), and I kept forgetting! Last year I did get my parents a one year membership with Green Dimes and I may renew that for them. Not handmade, but something that would be of value to them (my parents could have wallpapered their house several times with the amount of catalogues they received!)

But in thinking about the pledge, I'm going back over my list, seriously researching ideas, and trying, really trying to come up with handmade items for more people on my list. My nephews will most likely get gift cards of some sort (which is what they ask for!), but my sister, and several friends, may find themselves recipients of awesome handmade items. I'm not sure if anyone I'm giving to this season reads this blog, but in case they do, I'm not saying anything else until after the holidays!

And now a story - rather sad, but it taught me a lot. Eleven years ago, my son had just turned one and Christmas was fast approaching. I was still married, and as usual, we had very little extra money for Christmas. At the time, we were giving to everyone in both families, so I sat down and came up with things I could make that I thought would fit in with each person's interests. My dad has a sweet tooth, so he got some homemade candy; the women got a variety of bath products that I put together myself, etc. I may not have been fancy, but I had really tried to match the gift with the recipients likes. More importantly, I gave of my time, since I didn't have the money - and my time was VERY valuable to me because it meant less time with my son (I was working full-time and he had been in daycare since he was 3 months old).

Needless to say, the gifts were not a hit at all! I don't really remember my family having much to say (and since they are my family, I probably cut them some slack and ignored them), but my in-laws were obviously not impressed. I think they felt if they had gone into debt to get me something, I should do the same for them! I was disheartened, but reminded myself I gave up time with my son to try to give them something they would use and enjoy - if I missed the mark, then I missed. Now that I'm divorced, I no longer worry about what that group thinks of me or my gifts - and this also plays in to my struggle with finding handmade gifts for my family. But at some point, I set a budget, come up with a list of things I think everyone would like, purchase them and wish them the best. I hope it is a good match, but if not - the world will not end! Maybe I'm getting old, but I don't care what I get for Christmas, or if I get anything for Christmas. My expectations have dropped as the years have passed - and so has my stress! I try to make sure my son enjoys the entire season - and not just the gifts he gets under the tree. And since he is with me for New Year's this year, I want to spend some time on New Year's Eve talking to him about what he wants out of 2008 - goals, things to work towards, positive changes in our lives, that sort of stuff. Hopefully this is a tradition that will carry us through his teenage years and into adulthood.

I hope everyone has a blessed, stressless, happy holiday season!

22 November 2007

Save the World Sundays

It's that time of year - thoughts turn to the Christmas holiday season, and with it, gift buying. It is sometimes hard to pick the right gift, and sometimes easy. Sometimes we start early, and sometimes it is a last minute dash to the store to make sure that everyone has something special under the tree.

This year, may I suggest shopping a bit differently. In addition to thinking about what everyone would like to receive, please consider buying something handmade by a small business and also consider purchasing from the Etsy Trashion Street Team shops for things handmade AND upcycled! What's upcycled? It is taking something destined for the trash and giving it a new life!

In order to make it even better for shoppers, Etsy Trashion Street Team members are having a special sale - Save the World Sundays!! For the next two Sundays, November 25th and December 2nd, team members are offering different sales. Redux Designs if offering 20% off all purchases on these two Sundays - save some money while helping save the world! What could be better?

Well, maybe this - by shopping on Etsy, you can sit at home, avoid the crowds and messy parking lots, and enjoy the experience of browsing for gifts! Be comfortable while working through your Christmas gift list!

One warning - just like in retail stores, the good stuff goes quick! If you see something you like, it might not be there when you go back to look later, so don't delay!

Happy Holidays!

18 November 2007

It's Back........

Project Runway began Season Four last Wednesday!!! YES!!!!! I don't watch many of the reality TV shows, but I've been a fan of Project Runway since it began (well, I think I finally found it about the 3rd episode of Season One).

I've even thought about auditioning for it, but have finally realized that I do NOT work well under the conditions that are imposed on the designers. I have a strong belief in what I do, in my vision, and I like to think I am open to constructive criticism. However, I am not a competitive person, and I don't like to be attacked for what I believe in.

And while this season's designers said to be the most talented group yet, I am cautious in my enthusiasm of the show. I really liked the idea that someone unknown, and truly struggling to get their design business off the ground would have a chance at being seen. This season, it appears that the designers already have successful businesses and are using the show to be MORE successful, not to get a start.

I guess what it boils down to is - I wouldn't have a chance of being selected if I auditioned. So perhaps it is more sour grapes from me than anything else.

Still, I eagerly look forward to what this season will show. I LOVE the scenes that show the designers actually working as designers - selecting fabric, trying to figure out how to drape, or sew something together. And, when things go wrong, how they sort it out and try to make it work. Stuff I also deal with in my design business. In fact, I wish MORE of this was shown!

For those unfamiliar with the show, it will be on Bravo on Wednesday evenings. Check local listings for time as it varies depending on time zone, and episodes are repeated frequently. And if you are new to the show, the previous seasons are not out on DVD.

Carry on!!

14 November 2007

'Tis the Season!

Yes, the holidays are upon us! For those in the US, Thanksgiving is next Thursday! Already?!? Well, there are five Thursdays this November, and since Thanksgiving falls on the fourth Thursday, it is coming early this year.

In that light, I've begun listing a few Christmas items in the Redux Designs Etsy shop. I don't have many items specifically for Christmas, but what I have, I'm putting up this week and next.

Today, I listed this bracelet:

Years ago, my mom found a necklace at a garage sale, and for some reason, gave it to me. It was made up of gold, red, and green beads, along with various Christmas charms. It was, to be honest, not my style at all! However, there was plenty of raw material waiting to be re-created into some wonderful things.

I first made a bracelet for myself (hey, I need to test out the design and my skills!), then I've taken some more of the beads and charms and made a couple of other bracelets. The one above, is the first one I've listed on Etsy. The beads are green and gold colored; the charms are gold colored and everything, except the jump rings and lobster claw clasp are reused from the necklace.

I listed this bracelet and another one last year, but they got very few views. Maybe they got lost in the Etsy shuffle. Here's hoping this year will be better. I also have a few holiday things I've crocheted, so I'll add them soon. Please keep checking back for updates.

Happy Holidays!

05 November 2007

Today's Tip

Sometimes, it is the little things that can make all the difference.

For example - this is what I have stored my thread in for years:

It kept them all in one place, but there was one problem - I couldn't see what color the thread was without picking up the spool. I sorted them by color, so all the white and beige were groups together, etc., but still, I often had to pick up the thread and hold it up to the light to see if it was what I needed. Long story short, this system was not working for me.

I realized what I wanted was a container I could lay the thread in, on its side, so I could quickly see what color it was. I didn't really have anything that would fit into the drawer I keep the thread in, but being broke, I wasn't prepared to buy something. So I waited........

Last week, I was cleaning out my kitchen cupboard, and found I had a tin in there with a few tea bags in it. Cute tin, isn't it??

The tea bags were put in another container, and the tin? It found a new life as the holder of my spools of thread! The larger spools go in the tin; the smaller ones in the lid:

Lovely aren't they?

So how is my new system working? Well - I've been so busy sewing the dresses for Madeline's Christmas, that I haven't done anything else! I am sure once that project is complete, I'll be much happier with my new thread storage system.

So, today's tip is: if something isn't working right, if it is taking time rather than saving time, figure out what the problem is. What can be done to correct it? Are there materials around me that I can reuse instead of buying? Take care of the little things so you have more time for the big stuff!

01 November 2007

Plastic Bags

I never thought I would say this - but I could use more plastic bags!

Over the summer I have tried to remember to take my canvas bags with me to the grocery store in order to avoid using any more plastic bags. Since I already had a huge stash at home, I also began crocheting a tote made from plastic bag "yarn". (I hoping to get a tutorial up soon, but you can also search for "plastic bag yarn" and find several on the internet). I wanted to make it strong, to take to the store instead of/in addition to my canvas bags. (Yes, I'm hoping that someone will comment on it and I can both talk about the dangers of plastic bags AND talk about Redux Designs) So I began a bag made from Target bags - you know, white with the red design and lettering. And I'm almost through - and I've run out of bags! I haven't shopped at Target much for financial reasons, but I am facing a dilemma - how do I finish my tote? And, I had planned to make one for my mom as part of her Christmas gift (since I know she will use it) - will I be able to find enough bags?

Here is how my bag looks now - almost finished!

I do have a stash of bags from other stores, but the Target bags are sturdier so I've used them. My other source is my part-time retail job. We often get customers returning items in our plastic bags, so I hope to reuse them for "yarn". These bags are very thick and sturdy, so they will be great for crocheting with, but since I only work one or two days a month, I don't collect them very fast.

My stash of plastic bags:

Yes, I could ask my friends so save theirs for me, but I'm already looked at oddly most of the time - I'm not sure I want to venture further into that territory (maybe I just need some new friends who "get" me).

What a thing to complain about! I've been quite good at remembering my canvas bag, so I'm bringing home much fewer bags from the store and adding less to the waste stream. I guess I need to realize that my future is NOT in making things from plastic bags, but rather reusing things that I can easily gather together.

But first, I have to get enough bags to finish my tote!!

31 October 2007

Craft Emergency Relief Fund

I saw this posted on the About.com Jewelry Making page. It is the Craft Emergency Relief Fund, and it is set up to provide crafters with aid in emergencies. If anyone reading this site is a crafter in California - or knows one there - who suffered loss in the recent fires, please take a look at this site and see if you qualify. There are various types of aid, and various requirements, so please read the web site carefully. Of course, this isn't just limited to fire victims in California, so if anyone else dropping by is in need of financial assistance, please take a look.

What I'm looking at is the section on Emergency Preparedness, which helps crafters and artists take steps to avoid some emergency situations. I'm especially looking at their section on health insurance, since that is one of the two reasons I am not quitting the-job-that-pays-the-bills. (You can probably guess what the other is!)

If anyone has ever used CERF before, please post a comment and let me know what it was like.

23 October 2007

In An Old House In Paris........

lived Madeline!! I have another volunteer wardrobing job, this time for Madeline's Christmas! Very different from the Importance of Being Ernest. There are two separate casts - one for daytime shows, and one for night. So------we have up to 24 versions of each dress to make for the girls to wear. Hopefully there will be some overlap, but final casting has not been done, so we don't know. There are three costume changes for the girls, so three times 24 equals - a lot of clothes to be made!!! Throw in a few things for the adults and I am going to be very busy over the next month.

And sadly, the-job-that-pays-the-bills has kept me busy the last two days, so I haven't had a chance to do much more than look at the pattern. I suppose my first task should be give my sewing machine a good cleaning, since it is going to be used a lot the next few weeks.

I think I need to get to work.........

18 October 2007

How to Wear a Long Scarf

Long scarves can be very versatile, providing you with a multiple options for the price of one item. Change up various outfits and expand your wardrobe!

How long should the scarf be? That depends on what you want to do with it! If you put it around your neck, and it is about knee length on both sides, as is the purple scarf available in my Etsy shop, then here are some options:

Double wrap around neck - perfect for keeping your neck warm on cold days. Even though this scarf isn’t especially heavy or warm, by wrapping double, you create an extra layer that will keep you warm on colder days. If the scarf is still long, you can tie or knot the scarf as well.

Drape around neck..........

or throw one end over opposite shoulder - since this isn’t a heavy scarf of very warm material, one of these styles means you can wear it in warmer weather, as an accent to your outfit, without making yourself too hot! Pin in place if desired to keep from falling off, or for more decoration.

Draped around neck it can be knotted low, for decoration, or high, for more warmth.

Folded - another warmer way to wear the scarf is to fold it in half. Place it around neck, with folded end on one side and fringed ends on other. Place fringed ends through the space created at the fold. Adjust to where you want it.

Belt - yes the scarf can also be warm as a belt over your tops or even your coat! Add a bright splash of color on dark grey days! Wear it high, or low, depending on which style suits your figure!

There are some ideas to get you started! Try it with your own scarves and see what you can come up with. If you come up with more of your own, please comment here, or post on your blog and leave the link in the comments. If you need a scarf, the purple one shown here can be purchased from my Etsy shop.

Edit on 21 June 2008: This entry gets more hits than any other, often from searches on how to wear long scarves. If you find this post helpful, or if you have other ideas on wearing long scarves, please leave a comment!

14 October 2007

Wardrobe Remix

I finally joined the Wardrobe Remix group on Flickr earlier this year - and so far I've posted a grand total of three pictures! I think this is an awesome group, and I often look through the most recent photos to get overall inspiration to mix things up in how I wear them. I believe I'm trying some things I wouldn't otherwise, so why am I not posting more photos? The photos I've posted have gotten 60-70 views each (more than all my Redux Design photos combined!) What can I change to be more active??

First, I have a hard time getting a good head-to-toe photo of my outfit each day. The three I've gotten took me nearly 30 minutes to get one I liked - although I know that if I worked on it more consistently, I would get quicker.

Second, hooking up my camera to my computer, uploading the photo, editing and posting it was taking more time than I had. However, now that I have a laptop with Wi-Fi connection, it is much easier to do. I can lay in bed at night and do this!! I think this excuse is about gone for good.I am wondering, however, if it would be valuable for me to take my photo each day to keep a record for myself of what I wore. I'd probably be surprised at some aspects of it - maybe it is more varied than I realize, or maybe I really am in a rut. Maybe my go-to outfit for heat and humidity isn't that flattering, and I can find something to wear in those conditions that will keep me cool AND be more flattering. Maybe there isn't any hope! And maybe next summer I can start a discussion on how to be fashionable while still adapting to hot weather (and since I am trying to keep my air conditioning usage to a minimum, I stay hot a lot of the time). I honestly don't believe I'll be able to take a photo each day, but I want to try getting MORE days in.

Also, I want to be able to direct any possible personal styling clients to my photos, to show them I can put together outfits that are flattering - a bit of a portfolio to start with. And if someone happens to wander around my photos and sees something they want to purchase on Etsy, I will NOT complain!!

12 October 2007

A Wild and Crazy Week---

well, more busy than wild and crazy, but the result is I haven't done much of anything on all the projects I have lying around. After spending Sunday afternoon sorting through everything, seeing what's been done, what needs to be done, what materials I have on hand to work with, I haven't gotten much more done. I did get some photographs, and have edited most of them, so I'm almost ready to list some non-jewelry items on Etsy. But I need a few more pictures and the time to get it listed. Hopefully this weekend I can get everything together so I can list them next week.

There is good news - I sold another item on Etsy------and it was to someone in Memphis!! That is really fun to sell locally, plus I delivered it to her and got to meet one of my customers. Really nice! Funny thing is, the item had expired, so I quickly renewed it earlier in the week - just to keep things active. Well, it sold! I guess it does work to keep listing things, even if they aren't selling. The irony is I had always loved this particular item, and kept debating whether to remove it and wear it myself. It has been listed for quite a while, and I was about to decide that I'm the only person who likes my work! Well, someone else does as well, so that's great confidence booster for me. I keep telling myself it is all about finding the right market - so I'll keep working at it!

04 October 2007


On the sewing front: this past weekend I finally made alterations to three shirts I have that are now back in active rotation in my closet! All three were too big around, so I took them in at the side seams, and made them more fitted. I'm really happy with the results, and wore one of them on Monday.

I also realized that what would probably help me greatly is to make a cardboard template to lay on other shirts I want to alter to begin the pinning with. Currently I do not have a dress form, so I have to put stuff on, pin it, take it off, baste it, try it on again, make adjustments, etc, etc, etc! A template would at least let me pin it then try it on and adjust the fit before basting it. I've got the cardboard, so if it is helpful, I'll post a tutorial.

Also on the sewing front, I've been helping with the costumes for the Germantown (TN) Community Theatre production of "The Importance of Being Earnest"! Nothing was built for this production, but there were plenty alterations to be done. Primarily I've shortened jacket sleeves, sewn in buttons for suspenders, and some other alterations. It has been a blast!! They've got several more productions planned for this season, and it seems I'm going to be needed for all of them. That is very exciting because it is great experience to learn and put on my resume - and some of the shows will likely need to have costumes built!

On the Redux Etsy front: I've listed some crocheted scarves in my shop. It may still be rather warm in Memphis, but I know cooler/cold weather is coming - and some places may be getting a hint of it already. Check out Redux Designs and see if something strikes your fancy. Also, if you like a scarf (or anything else!) but would prefer a different color, send an email to me at reduxdesigns@yahoo.com and tell me what you want and how quickly you need it. I'm sure we can work out an agreement!

26 September 2007

Redux - More Shoes

My favorite place to buy shoes is Payless, primarily because they fit my feet (wide width) and my budget. I have no problem buying shoes at a thrift store, but finding shoes to fit my feet there is hard.

Anyway, I bought this pair of platform sandals this spring. I wore them a couple of times and loved them. Then, while walking into the office one day, I noticed that the left shoe was rubbing my foot. On closer look, I discovered this:

See how the brown plastic ring has broken off - I have no idea when this happened, but it made them very painful to wear.


When I limped into my apartment that evening, I took them off and realized that either I find the missing piece and try gluing it back on, or I'd have to remake them somehow. I could not wear them again that way.

And so they sat for most of the summer. I was so upset that they weren't wearable, and since I had worn them several times AND thrown away the receipt, I didn't think I could take them back. I probably should have tried, but I didn't.

Last week, a similar pair of shoes finally bit the dust. They were no longer wearable, and I needed this pair available. So this past weekend, I decided to do something, anything to get them back in my closet.

After carefully examining them, I realized that the plastic ring was really just decoration - it was not needed to hold the pieces together. So taking out my trusty hammer and a scrap piece of wood, I removed the offending plastic ring. I will add that I tried using a pair of pliers to snap the ring first, but it would not break. I wouldn't even chip off. I have no idea why the ring broke in the first place, but I needed the hammer and several hard whacks to break them off.

And now, the shoes look like this:

And note that not all clothing remakes make use of sewing supplies. My tool of choice here was a hammer!

And here is a detail of the left shoe:

There is a hole through there that I can put something else - I've thought about wrapping a piece of ribbon and gluing it in place. Right now I'm not sure what I'm going to do, if anything. While I give it some more thought, however, I do have these shoes available to wear for the next few weeks (when it will hopefully cool off enough to put away open toed shoes for awhile.

What else am I up to? I have a few new items to list on Etsy over the next few days, and I'm hoping to begin remaking clothes to list there as well. I love making the jewelry, but it is not selling. There are so many people on Etsy selling such wonderful jewelry, I can't compete. Hopefully, with the clothing, I can get more people looking at my shop. I may even put together outfits of clothes and accessories and sale for a reduced price. We'll see.

I'm also in the middle of helping with the costumes for the Germantown Community Theatre's production of The Importance of Being Ernest. The show opens the first weekend in October, so this week and next are rather busy getting everything together. I've only done some alterations, but it has been fun - and I'm becoming quite a pro at shortening sleeves! GCT does productions all year, so they should be able to keep me rather busy, which is exciting and wonderful experience to put on my resume.

29 August 2007

Today's Tip - Sewing Pattern Storage

The more I create and make things, the more I find a way of doing something that makes it easier. So, to hopefully make life easier for everyone else, here is a tip for today.

Storing sewing pattern:

For years I've tried to find the best way to store my sewing patterns, especially after they've been used - have you ever tried to put one back into its envelope??

My latest solution, which I love, is to put the pattern pieces and instructions into a plastic bag with a zipper top. Yes, it is plastic which has a host of environmental issues attached to it, but it is easy to see through and there is even the handy section on the bag for labeling. Here I write the pattern company name and the pattern number. I store these in boxes in numeric order.

So how do I find a particular type of pattern? I store the pattern envelopes in clear sleeves that I keep in a binder. Yes, more plastic, but it protects the paper and will let me flip through the notebook to find what I need. A quick look at the back can give me more information about the pattern to let me know if it might work.

One day, when I get some spare time (Yeah, right!), I want to photograph all the pattern envelopes and store them on a USB drive, so I can have visual access to all the patterns I have without having to carry them around with me.

Hope this helps someone else get a bit more organized!

25 July 2007

Etsy Trashion

A few weeks ago, I stumbled across the Etsy Trashion Street Team - a group which promotes reusing/recycling/upcycling things into something new - much what Redux Designs is all about! So I joined!

This Friday, the Trashion Street Team is having a trunk show at the Etsy Labs in Brooklyn! How cool is that?!? The only thing that would make it cooler is if I could be there! Since I can't, however, I'm going in on the Trunk Show Chat throught the Etsy Workshop - the next best thing to being there!

And guess what - Etsy Trashion is receiving some publicity this week! Check out

Vintage Indie

Thanks for the publicity - and I hope everyone else can be at the Trunk Show on Friday - either in person or online!

24 June 2007


My son is with his dad for a couple of weeks, and I've taken a few days off from my job. As much as I would have loved to have gone away somewhere, I decided to stay in Memphis and work on various projects for Redux Designs. I've gotten quite a bit done - and have a lot more to do - but the main accomplishment for today is organizing my buttons and beads. Since I frequently use buttons when making my jewelry, I've sorted them by color and size. Even if I need them for a sewing project, they should be easier to find than dumping a container out and sorting through them. Turned out to be the perfect activity while watching TV.

I paid a visit to the Bargain Barn last week. I went to find a sweater or sweaters to make into purses. However, it turned out to be a good day for finding clothes for me! Another project today was to remove the jeweled buttons from a jacket I bought, and replace them with black ones I already had. The jeweled buttons just seemed to be too much for the jacket - but don't worry, they will be put to good use in some jewelry!!

Here is a picture of the jacket before:

Here is a detail of the original buttons:

Here's how it looks with the new buttons:

I think it is much better!! The only issue I encountered was that the jacket had three buttons (and therefore, 3 buttonholes) and I only had two buttons that would fit. After trying it on, I decided that 1) I probably wouldn't even button it that often, and the top button would be hidden under the lapel, 2) if I did button it, I didn't want it buttoned up as high as the top button anyway, and 3) since the buttonhole is more or less hidden in the tweed, I put on the two buttons!! If I decide that it needs a third button, I'll buy three matching buttons (or better, re-use 3 buttons from something else!).

Tasks for tomorrow - clean the apartment, work more on costume for Oliver! and get things ready for Etsy!!

So---how was your weekend???

04 June 2007

Etsy Update

I had one main goal for Memorial Day weekend - get things made and photographed for Etsy listings. And I am happy to say that I achieved that goal. I have several things made, photographed, and descriptions are written. I am trying to list something new every day or two, and I have a couple of things up for relisting this week, so that should help as well.

No sales from all this productivity-----yet!! Only time will tell.

To take a look, visit Redux Designs.

And an update on the shoes from the previous post:

I wore the remade black sandals/slides a couple of times this weekend - and they worked well!! It is nice to have them wearable and back in circulation in my wardrobe!!

23 May 2007

Redux - Shoes

My feet are hard to fit. I've worn a wide width since my son was born (and a few even before then), so finding my size in a wide width that I can afford can be a challenge. I've noticed, however, a problem with a couple of pair of shoes I have. They have a back strap that attaches to the side of the shoe. Not to the front part, like a slingback, but to the sole. And this back strap keeps sliding off my heel. It seems that since I've lost weight, my heel isn't as wide as the standard for a wide width.

I like these shoes and want to wear them - heck, I've paid for them so I want to get to use them. Then I realized - why not remove the back strap and wear them as slides?!? Since the strap was falling off anyway, they tended to be "slides" by defaults.

A couple of days ago I got out a pair of utility scissors, and a minute later, I had re-made the shoes to make them more wearable!

So - how do they look???

15 May 2007

I'm not the only one....

.....who uses buttons and reclaimed items for redesigns!! Check out Enthral's blog and Etsy store for some cool redesigns! I especially love this necklace and these earrings.

Not only does it do me good to know I'm not the only one recreating, but I love to see what someone else comes up with that I hadn't thought of.

And speaking of Etsy----don't forget to check out my shop! I've been relisting things as they have expired, and I've got a few new things to list in between. I'm assisting on the wardrobe for another short movie this weekend, then I hope to have some time to create new things. In amongst the gifts I sent my mom for her birthday/mother's day were several things I had made myself - and one of my business cards! Hopefully she'll pass the information along to her friends and generate some interest.

When making your next purchases, please consider buying from the artists at Etsy. Everything is handmade, and I can report that everything I have purchased there has been of high quality. I may not have a lot of extra money to spend, so when I do, I love being able to help someone else develop their business.

One last item - I'm hoping over the next few weeks to post more how-to posts. I've got a lot of ideas - I just have to remember to take pictures as I go!!

13 May 2007

Duvet Cover to Pillow Cases

OK, so not everything I remake is to be worn - by a person anyway. This remake is for my bed!

The backstory - in 1998, I bought a duvet cover for about $25 (on sale, of course!). It has served me well through the years, but a few years ago, I noticed it was faded and beginning to get some tears. The tears I patched as best I could, but it really needed to be replaced. However, I had trouble finding anything less than $50, and most of them I didn't like. So---I kept looking.

In March, while hitting the thrift stores to look for wardrobe for a movie I was helping with, I found one! In excellent condition, it was the right size, and - best of all - the place sold by the pound. So, my new-to-me duvet cover was under $5! YES!!!

The old cover, however, wasn't completely trashed. There was a lot of good fabric still in it, and I couldn't bring myself to throw it away. But what to do with it? It so happened that I also had a set of pillowcases that were getting threadbare and torn. So - make new pillowcases from the old cover!

It was a rather simple remake. I laid the old pillowcases on the duvet cover, and used them as a pattern, cutting extra to make them a bit larger and to allow for seams. I stitched up the sides, zig-zagged the opening, then turned it up and sewed a hem. Actually, I sewed a double seam to added "decoration". I've been using them for several weeks now, and I am very pleased with the results.

Here a photo of the completed pillowcases in use. The color isn't quite right, but I think you get the idea.

And here is a detail of the hem. Sorry about the blurry photo, but I think you can get the idea!

Two more things - 1) there is still a lot of the fabric left, and I'm not sure what to do with it yet, but I'm hanging on to it for now. Surely inspiration will strike! and 2) the old pillowcases were not thrown away. Oh no, I found a use for that fabric as well. Taking my pinking shears, I cut them into squares to use to remove my eye makeup and nail polish. The fabric was really getting worn, so it won't matter if it tears up or not, but so far they seem to be holding up well.

So - before throwing something away, take the time to think of any alternate uses for the item - or the materials that make the item. I spent under $5 to buy the new-to-me duvet cover, and in the process got new pillowcases and new make-up remover pads.

Not bad!

28 March 2007


Filming has begun!! Last Friday and Sunday a few of the scenes were filmed. I sort of knew this anyway, but there is a lot of hurry up and wait on a film set! No problem - at least I'm getting to do something with it.

Most of what I did was run around and help with whatever needed to be done - which I'm fine with. I did get to add some dark dirt stains to the "prom guy" outfit at the last minute - hello potting soil and water! The director was happy with his look, so I'm glad I could add something of value. I didn't have to do much in the way of wardrobe on Sunday, but I was there and willing to help - and it is fun to watch the process. I did realize that I need to take something to the set to work on while I'm sitting around - something that is easy to drop and pick up again. So, I think I'm going to take some crochet with me this weekend. The shoot is going to be MUCH longer, with more people involved, but if there is time to sit around, I can get something made - and hopefully someone will ask about buying it! (Yes, there is an ulterior motive besides just having something to do).

For this weekend, I am more or less in charge of getting the zombie horde in costume and ready! I'm excited to have the responsibility given to me, and hope everything works our. Since I have to make sure they are all dressed and ready to go, I may not have much time for crocheting - which is fine with me! The crocheting is simply to fill time if there is nothing else to do - otherwise, keep me busy!

I'm off again to thrift stores to find the last few pieces we need. I've added a few pieces of my jewelry for finishing touches, and I need to think and see if there is anything else I might be able to take to add to the overall look of the zombies.

Stills were taken last weekend, and will be again, so if any are posted, I'll put up a link here.

17 March 2007

Lack of posts

I have a good explanation for the lack of posts over the last few weeks - although it really isn't an excuse. Anyway, I've been helping with the wardrobe for a short film being filmed the last two weekends in March! Yes, a real job helping with a film wardrobe even if it is volunteer! Hello, resume!

I've spent the last three weeks trying to find various pieces needed for the wardrobe. Not much luck until I finally was able to find some things this week. Then I spent about seven hours today distressing/ripping/zombifying the clothes for the short film. Really, it has been a lot of fun, a great learning experience, and something to add to my resume. Filming is the next two weekends, so we'll see what happens.

For the next week, my main objective is to find a few missing pieces fore the scenes to be filmed next weekend. The following weekend, however, is when the filming of the zombies takes place, and the costumes for all the extras has to be ready. Should be long, tiring, and hopefully a lot of fun!

Once it is edited and posted somewhere, I'll update with a link.

23 February 2007

What She Said....

and how I wish I had been able to get the words out first! Tricia Royal of Bits and Bobbins has an excellent post regarding how she differentiates style and fashion. I have been trying to get a post up on the same subject for several months, but I couldn't get the words to come out right. No need now - I'll just send everyone over to her blog to see what she said.

If you disagree with what she says, or have a different take on the style vs. fashion topic, please leave a comment on her blog or here.

15 February 2007

How Not To: Felt

Here's the first of probably many entries in the series of "How Not To" do something. Hopefully, someone can learn from my mistakes and avoid some of the "fun" I've had.

So, how not to felt. Felting is when you wash a wool garment and the fibers meld together. It can produce a really cool look for knitted or crocheted items. I had thought about trying it for awhile, and had read some articles on it. It seemed simple enough.

When I decided to remake my Aran-style wool pullover into a bag (see previous post), I thought about how it would look felted. Unfortunately, I thought about this AFTER I had cut the sweater in to. My "brilliant" plan was to try felting the sleeves to see if I liked the look of the wool. If I did, then I'd do the part I was using for the purse.

Let me remind you that this sweater was machine made, not hand knitted. Which means that it is made up of many small pieces of yarn, not one continuous one as in hand knitting. So I throw the piece in the washer with some towels and go do other stuff. Return when load has finished to find-----a mess!!!! Bits of yarn were all through the washer, and what didn't come apart, was wadded up. No, I didn't take a picture. Fortunately, the trash can was nearby, and it was chucked in there.

If I had any sense (which is doubtful, sometimes), I could have tried sewing around the cut edge to better hold it together. Or, put it in a pillowcase, again to help keep it together. But no, I just threw it in.

Oh well. Lesson learned.

Here's some web sites to check out to learn how you should felt a wool sweater. Obviously, I need to read them CAREFULLY!!


If anyone has any other sites or instructions for felting wool sweaters, please pass them along. I need all the help I can get. I also need to find another wool sweater to try it on (and in Memphis, wool if not easily found!)

11 February 2007

Look What I Made!!

First - I did NOT knit this. My knitting skills are very basic (knit, purl) and there is no way I'm ready to attempt an Aran style pattern. No, this purse was remade from a sweater I had. The inspiration came from a bag I saw at work. I have a part-time retail job at Talbots, and last fall they had a purse that looked to be knitted. It was a bobble pattern, and my first thought was "I'll make one!" since I can't afford to buy one (even with a generous employee discount) and I prefer to make my own things. However, I quickly realized that 1) I hadn't learned the stitch yet and 2) I knit WAY too slow!! I've crocheted for a long time, so I am much quicker, but I liked the knitted look. So, I had to think of another option.

Then I remembered the Aran style sweater I bought in England. Made from 100% wool, it was too hot for most winter days in Memphis, and I always felt fat and bulky wearing it. I had sat in my dresser drawer for years, and the moths had found a couple of places. I decided turning it into a purse I would actually use would be a much better use of the materials.

Step one - I cut the sweater below the sleeves, leaving me with the piece at left. The side seams were untouched, so I didn't have to worry about them. Because of the raw edge, and since it was machine knit (i.e. it was knit with a lot of pieces of yarn, not one continuous piece), I stitched a large, tight zig-zag seam around the raw edge. Then, I sewed the that opening shut. I now have my bag!

I don't have a serger, so I had to use the zig-zag stitch rather than serging the edge closed. Oh well----so far it seems to be holding.

Next step is to make the lining. Because the bag is made from knitted material, it will S-T-E-T-C-H!! I took some fabric I had, cut a piece to put inside the bag, and stitched up the sides and bottom.

Next was time to make the pockets for the lining, because I need all the help I can get organizing my stuff! I measured about what I though would be a large enough piece of fabric, and added a bit for overlapping the interfacing. I decided the pockets should be interfaced for added support, since that was where my electronic stuff was going. I cut a piece of interfacing, placed it on the wrong side of the pocket fabric, overlapped the fabric edge and stitched around all, mitering the corners.

Now it was time to sew the pocket onto the lining. Placing the wrong side of the pocket against the right side of the lining, I sewed around both sides and the bottom. Next, I measured how much room I needed for my various electronic pieces, and sewed a dividing line down to make two pockets. At left is how my phone and PDA fit into the pockets (although the pockets are deeper and the items aren't hanging out the top.

Next step is to sew the lining to the purse. Putting wrong sides together, I carefully pinned it so the top of the lining was at the bottom of the band (which was going to be the casing for my handle). I then sewed around the entire purse to attach the lining.

On to the handles. My original intent was to purchase round, wooden handles, but when I was ready for the handles, there wasn't extra money in the budget. I wasn't sure whether to wait until I could buy some (by which time it might be too warm in Memphis to carry a wool bag!), or try to sort something else out. While looking through a needlework book, I found a crochet pattern for making a round cord. After trying various size hooks to get the size and look I wanted, I crocheted the handles out of black (to hide the dirt!) yarn.

Now, I made a bit of a goof. Since I guess my mind was thinking about the round handles I had intended to use, I sewed the cord together BEFORE making the casing out of the bottom band of the sweater. Which meant, I had to wrap the casing around the handle, then hand stitch it closed. Of course, if I had used wooden handles, I would have had to do it this way, but with the crochet cord, I could have sewn the casing, then threaded the cord through, then sewn the cord together. Oh well, it all worked out.

Here's another view of the finished product as worn by me! I have used it off and on since I finished it and the only thing I want to add is a velcro closure at the top to help hold it together. Otherwise, it has been a very practical purse!

Next time I go thrifting, I'm on the lookout for other pullover sweaters I can cut apart and make into purses to sell. Stayed tuned to see what I can come up with.

Oh, and in my next blog post, I'll tell you about the biggest goof I made in the entire project!!

06 February 2007


I have become such a joiner! Seriously, I normally keep to myself, but after realizing how much I got done - and how much I enjoy a challenge - participating in the Etsy Upcycle and the Ugly Betty contests, I've decided to add a couple of other challenges to my "to do" list.

First up is Warm Up America. I discovered this through Vicki Howell's blog (and if you don't read her blog, you should!) I wish I had found it earlier, and organized some knitting friends to participate, but better late than never. I love this project because the squares are relatively quick to knit (quicker gratification), I can use up yarn I've had lying around, I get to try some different patterns without committing to a large project, and I get to give something back (since I have more time than money). Check out the website for details about size, yarn, and where to send completed squares.

I am also tying in my Warm Up America work with Project Spectrum 2.0. For each two month period, you are to use three colors (one, two, or all 3!) to see what you can create. And it can be knitting, sewing, photography, even baking! To begin with, I'm knitting my squares in blue and white (OK, it's actually cream, but close enough!).

I am also creating earrings out of buttons from my stash, using only blue and white. I played around with a couple of designs last night, and I may add some silver (close enough to gray!) beads to enhance it - and I can no doubt use other colors I have for more pair later. Once I get the design completed, I'll post pictures. What's interesting is I pulled out my blue buttons over the weekend and looked at what I had. I realized I had more of the small 4 hole buttons than anything else. I just sort of kept that in mind, and yesterday, inspiration struck.

I have three sewing projects I need to finish, and they all fit the color theme! Finally, motivation to get this done! First is a denim skirt I'm shortening and fitting better. This one shouldn't take long, and if I can finish it quickly, it will look great with my brown boots. This is first on my list.

I also have a navy silk top I'm remaking. I bought the top about 14-15 years ago, but it is now too big, and the style isn't flattering. I've removed the sleeves and will probably make it a sleeveless top to wear this summer. The original back had a three button closure, so I may use that piece for the front. I'm still trying to work out the neckline - probably sweetheart or V. I have read up on how to work with this type of silk (georgette), so once I finalize the look, I'll be ready to go.

And last, is the jacket I thrifted last fall. The background is silvery/grey with blue flowers. I've already removed the shoulder pads and it looks better. I'm trying to decide whether to remake it, or wear it alone as a top. I haven't really focused on this one yet, but need to look through some inspiration clippings and get some ideas.

Next, I'm thinking of trying to start a knitting group. I know 3-4 people who knit/crochet, and I think it would be fun to get together once a month to sit, knit, and talk. I need to contact a few people and see what we can come up with.

Finally, I may have a chance to work on the wardrobe for a short film being shot here. Of course, no pay, but the experience would be priceless. I even had Jonathan sign up to be an extra, so hopefully this is something we can do together. I'll post more once I know more.

Now, I need to knit a few rows tonight-------------------

Red Heart Pin

Red Heart Pin
Originally uploaded by reduxdesigns.
Here's my latest Etsy listing - a red heart pin, hand crocheted just in time for Valentine's Day. I've listed two - the 3rd I sent to my mom because I know she'll wear it!!

These are really quick and easy to make. I tried about 5 patterns to get just the look and size I wanted.

You can check it out here.

31 January 2007

Silver Chains with Black Button Earrings

OK, so I've joined the Flickr revolution - and this is the first photo I've uploaded. So I'm trying out the feature of blogging directly from Flickr to see if it works.

These earrings are going up at Etsy tonight. I've already put up a similar pair - gold with brown buttons. I created this design while trying to come up with something to enter in the Etsy Upcycle contest (BTW, the winner should be announced tomorrow, so look for that!). While playing around with my jewelry stuff, I created this design - and loved it so much that the first pair are mine! These are a second pair; there was only enough of the gold chain to make the one pair with the brown buttons. However, if I come across any more broken chain at a garage sale, I'll make more with different colors of buttons.

25 January 2007


I got a call last week from Opera Memphis. Since I helped them one day last fall get costumes ready for Porgy and Bess, I've looked forward to working with them again. This time they needed someone to help as a dresser - something I haven't done and would love to gain experience in. And since Jonathan is at his dad's this weekend, I would be available!

Except, they needed someone Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday evenings, and Sunday afternoon. I initially told her I could work Saturday and perhaps even Sunday, but the weeknights were out. As a single mom needing to make sure homework gets done, dinner gets cooked and eaten, and the kid is in bed at a reasonable hour, I couldn't make that commitment. What they need is someone who can work all the rehearsals and shows so things run smoothly. I understand that - it makes perfect sense, yet I'm beginning to wonder if there is anything I can do as a volunteer that will meet their needs AND fit my schedule.

The woman I spoke with was going to email me the schedule and I was to let her know when I could work. I thought long and hard about it, and considered taking Jonathan (and his video games or DVD's) with me so I could help out more. However, she never emailed me, so I'm going to have to let this one go.

The one bright spot in this is that I am going to work at Talbots. I had not initially been put on the schedule, but someone needed Saturday night off, so I am able to take it. The money will certainly be helpful, and I'm going to take any free time I have to put together some outfits for different occasions/ages from items in the store. If someone asks "what goes with this", then I'll have some answers.

I also need to call some other performing organizations to see if they need costuming volunteers. I don't want to overextend myself, but since my availability limits what I can do, perhaps there is some other group out there that could use me. I feel terribly bad when I have to say "no", but I am a volunteer, and I always try to offer alternatives that will fit my schedule. I truly do want to help, to gain experience and build up my resume - I just need to find the right organization for that.


By nature, I am not a very competitive person; I am much more of a "let's work together to get this done" type. However, I am finding that I need to challenge myself more, so I've decided to start entering some design competitions in an effort to push myself. I am not entering to win; rather I am entering to challenge myself to create something that meets the criteria of the competition while remaining true to my design aesthetic (or, to help me FIND my design aesthetic!).

First, the Etsy Upcycle Challenge. Posted in the middle of December, this competition was to take items normally trashed or recycled and use them to create something. Initially, this sounded perfect for me and my desire to reuse/remake clothes and accessories. Yet, after carefully reading the criteria and subsequent questions/answers on the Etsy Board, I wasn't so sure. I make take a dress, cut it apart, and use the fabric to make something else, but the dress wasn't going to the trash to begin with. If I had found no use for it, I would have donated it to a thrift store - and is that considered recycling??

I really struggled with what to create for this challenge. I tried making some earrings with soda can pull tabs, but could not come up with anything that I liked. I have saved the caps from beer bottles, and have ideas on turning them into jewelry, but I don't have the equipment I need to make it happen. I finally settled on these three (the maximum number allowed) designs:

First, I entered a piece I had already listed at Etsy. I carefully checked the rules and read the questions on the Board, and could not find it mentioned anywhere that the items could not already be listed. It is my Flower Button Bracelet.

Next, I spent on Saturday playing around with some of my button collection and leftover chains and findings. What resulted was a design for earrings that I really liked. To me, this is where I have already "won" this challenge. I came up with a design that I really love, and made myself a pair of earrings that I wear often. Even if no one else likes it, it is "me" and I reused things I already had! I ended up with enough materials to make one pair with goldtone chain and brown buttons, and two pair of silvetone chain with black buttons (of course, one of the silver/black pair is mine!)

Finally, I created something I've made for myself before, and found to be very useful - and this one is actually something that might get thrown away. ( Of course, I wouldn't throw them away - I'd take them to the dry cleaners for them to reuse, but many people DO throw them away.) Wire hangers with yarn crocheted around them! The yarn not only provides some padding to the hangers, but it gives the clothes something to grip onto preventing it from sliding off. If these don't sell it is no biggie, since I can use them in my closet. In fact, once I begin selling clothing, I may include one of these with each item purchased as a way of helping to protect the clothes while keeping the hangers out of the trash.

The winners are supposed to be announced on February 1st (although I haven't checked the Etsy Blog to see if that has changed). I'm not expecting to get anything - I like the idea that it made me think about what to create.

The second competition is for the television show Ugly Betty on ABC. I had only watched the show once, but I liked it, and the buzz has been very positive - even before the wins at the Golden Globes. I first learned about the contest on one of my favorite blogs, Blogging Project Runway. And does this contest seem like one of the challenges from that show!! The challenge is to design a dress to be worn to a formal event using only office supplies. The website for the contest lists some of the supplies allowed, and says "just to name a few". Well, I took off with the idea and have come up with a design and begun constructing it to make sure it would work.

What I missed was the link to the "full list of acceptable design materials", which I finally saw Monday. Guess what - one of my major materials is NOT on the list!!! That's what I get for not carefully reading over EVERYTHING. Anyway, back to the drawing board! I've spent the last two nights reworking my design, and will spend the next few days working on the design. It has to be submitted by 11:59pm (23:59) Sunday night. Right now my biggest challenge is to see if my scanner will scan my designs in so I can submit them.

Again, I know I won't win. It's not about that - it's about seeing what I can create for this challenge. And since I came up with one design that doesn't meet the criteria, I also have another idea to play with in the future! I will also get to practice scanning in things and writing up a summary about my vision for this project.

One other project I plan to participate in is Project Spectrum 2.0. For each two month period, you have three colors to create something(s) from. You can use one, two, or all 3 colors. Of course, I won't work exclusively in those colors, but I like the idea of being challenged to come up with SOMETHING for each color group. Sounds like a good way to use up yarn, buttons, and leftover bits of fabric. With the Ugly Betty contest - not to mention everything else I'm trying to complete - I haven't even thought about this. Next week I start pulling out everything I have in blue, white, and gray to see what I have to start with. I can't wait to see what I find!