Saturday, November 26, 2011

Thanksgiving Day Weekend

Now that Thanksgiving is over, what do you do with all of that turkey?

Lots of people resort to making turkey sandwiches. With plain old mayo, it can be pretty boring, so I decided to try my hand at homemade cranberry mustard this year:

*leftover cranberry sauce
* Dijon mustard

If you're using cranberry sauce from a can, warm it up a bit first on the stove or in the microwave so that it's no so gelatinous. It mixes best when it's warm.

You will want to have about 3 times as much cranberry sauce as mustard. I mixed mine to taste, and I can tell you that if you start out with equal parts of each, the mustard is way too overpowering.  My final result ended up being quite cranberry colored.

From there, spread onto sandwiches and enjoy.

While you're enjoying your sandwiches, I suppose you can try doing some online holiday shopping. If you've been eyeing anything in my shop, I'm offering free shipping and 10% off everything at the moment.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Fashion History Resource

If you're interested in fashion history, there is a blog on tumblr that may be of interest to you called Old Rags.

The blog updates almost constantly with photos of extant clothing from various time periods. Each entry has at least one photo of an antique or vintage garment, the year it was made, the country, and the maker, if applicable. It's a great visual history of western fashion and has some great eye candy, like this embroidered, green velvet 1888 Russian Court Dress by Worth:

The house of Worth has pretty much disappeared as a fashion design house. (It was replaced by more modern high fashion houses like Channel.) However, it created some exquisite gowns during the Victorian and Edwardian era. I noticed a book devoted Worth gowns that had appeared in issues of Harper's Bazaar while I was at Costume College; I very nearly got it and may still do so in the future. The embroidery on them is usually enough to that my husband has to grab a mop to take care of the drool when I see them.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Computer Up and Running

New computer is up and running. MasterWorks and most of my other programs have been installed and are working properly. There's one program that I'm waiting for an updated disk on (my old version wasn't Windows7 compatable), but I should have it by the end of the week.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

The best time of year to buy sewing stuff

When is the best time of year to buy sewing supplies? 

Quite possibly right now, during September/October.

Lots of people will consider buying fabric for a Halloween costume even if they've never touched a sewing machine before in their life. They'll wander into a fabric store, check on the prices and weigh whether it's cheaper to make a costume or to buy on off the rack. If they think they can make it within their budget, they'll try it and maybe continue sewing in the future. But if it would clearly be less expensive to buy a costume off the rack, they'll march right out of the fabric store never to return.

The fabric stores are well aware of this, so they do everything they can to get people into their stores leading up to Halloween. I watch the sales fliers all year long & I've been amazed at some of the recent deals, sales, and coupons.

For example, the monthly sales fliers usually have one or two coupons good for 40% off a single (non-sale) item. Sometimes it has a coupon for 50% off a single item. It's rare to get coupons for X% off your total purchase. In the past year, I have gotten one coupon for 15% off total purchase coupon (Labor Day weekend) as well as one or two coupons for 10% off total purchase (one was for Memorial Day). I may have also gotten a 5% off everything for a particular random weekend, but I'm not sure. Either way, you don't see them often.

However, in the past two months I've been sent not one, but TWO coupons for 20% off my total purchase. One was in honor of National Sewing Month (September); the other was for Columbus Day Weekend. This is 20% off everything, including things that are already marked on sale. This is a great deal, and if I weren't already stocked up to the gills with fabric, I'd definitely be checking out the local fabric store right now.

Moral of the story: if you're planning to make your Halloween costume, make sure you're on the mailing list for your local fabric store starting in August so you can get the September and October fliers.

When is the best time of year to buy sewing books?

Now isn't a bad time for that either.

I've known for some time that fall is a good time of year to buy fabric and supplies. However, I hadn't given much thought to sewing books until yesterday when I received an gift card to celebrate my birthday. The first thing I did was check my wish list. Unsurprisingly, there are quite a few sewing books on it; I was pleasantly surprised to see that they were all on sale.

Lots of sewing books seem to go on sale
leading up to Halloween during Sept. and Oct. 
Frankly, I shouldn't have been surprised all all. It make sense for sewing books on sale for the same reasons that fabric is on sale this month. Lots of people are willing to tackle special sewing projects during October in preparation for Halloween.  Presumably, they might also be more interested in getting a book for tips on how to sew, so why not entice them with a sale?

It certainly enticed me. I was originally planning to only get as much as my gift card would cover. However the prices were better than anything I'd seen over the course of the past year, so I got an additional book.* I'm now impatiently waiting for the following:

*The Costume Technician's Handbook 3rd edition by Rosemary Ingham
*Blackwork (Essential Stitch Guide) by Becky Hogg
*Couture Sewing Techniques, Revised and Updated by Claire Shaeffer

I'll write reviews on them once I've had a chance to look them over. Each of these books is for intermediate to advanced sewing level. I already have one or two books that are focused on beginners, which I'll also try to review at some point in the future.

*If I had anyone on my holiday gift list who's interested in sewing, I might have gotten something for them too. It's not unusual for me to buy gifts months in advance and then save them until Christmas/their birthday/etc.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Technical Difficulties

I'm posting from a different computer than usual. Windows somehow managed to get corrupted on my machine. It's not something that can be fixed short of wiping the computer completely and re-installing windows.

I'll be taking the harddrive in this week to Salem Geeks to have them pull my various documents, files, and photos from the drive for $30. Assuming I can get my files, I'll be happy. If not, I have some things backed up on an external harddrive and on my camera's memory card, but I've made quite a few changes to some important documents since my last backup. I'd really rather not have to re-create them all. 

The computer was a dinosaur, however, so I'm not going to bother re-installing windows. It wasn't powerful enough to handle having two heavy-weight programs, like Quickbooks and MasterWorks, open at the same time without locking up. I've been thinking about getting a new computer to speed up my workflow anyway, so now's as good a time to do it as any. 

Once I have the new computer, I should be able to complete certain tasks more quickly because I won't have to wait on my computer to process (something I've been spending more and more time waiting on over the last 2-3 months).

In the meantime, I won't be able to create custom logos for clients until I get MasterWorks up and running. This should only affect new business clients who need an embroidery design created off of a drawing or another graphic. All of my existing embroidery designs are already on a USB drive to communicate with my BMP8 embroidery machine, so I can still fulfill orders of existing designs without a problem. For example, I can still stitch out custom orders for everything in my Artfire shop.  

I'll post once I have the new computer up and able to digitize again. 

Monday, August 15, 2011

New Thread

It seems like everyone has their own quirky item that they like to collect. For some people, it's owls. They’ll have owl artwork, owl clothing, owl stationary (return labels, anyone?), owl figurines, owl potholders, owl Christmas ornaments, etc.I’m not trying to pick on owl lovers. It could just as easily be roosters, cats, sealife, or Coca-cola. 

The point is that somehow, people seem to amass themed collections. I don’t know how it happens or starts. Like tree of heaven, I suspect it starts small and then grows on its own unless weeded out at an early stage until it takes over way more space than you ever imagined.

So. What do I collect?

Does thread count? 

I'm not sure if it's quirky, but it is unusual. And oh, have I mentioned that this is only a portion of my collection? You see, I arrange my thread by type. These are just my polyester embroidery spools. I have a still more racks devoted to rayon embroidery thread, serger cones, and general sewing thread. 

To make matters worse, I just got some more. 

I needed a bright chartreuse for a job. While I was at it, I decided to expand my selection of yellow and to restock a few colors.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Why Polkadot Orchid Embroidery?

I started my business so I could have the flexibility to spend
time with my little ones while they were still little. 
I am a fairly typical American girl. I grew up outside of a major city in suburbia.  I went to college,  got married, and had a baby. I wanted to stay home with my children, but I also wanted to contribute to the family's financial health.

Oh, the troubles of how to balance family and work. Do you work full time? Do you work part-time? Do you decide to step back from a career to be a stay at home mom? In my case, I felt very strongly that I ought to be in the home with my children while they were young. So, with my eldest son at the ripe old age of thirteen months old, I decided to take the plunge and start a business from home.

For my new embroidery business, I took everything that I learned from embroidering as a hobby. Then I did lots of research. I found suppliers, upgraded equipment, invested in myself through even more training. As it turns out, my biggest problem was one simple question: What do I call this crazy adventure of mine? 

I wanted something that related to what I was doing. I also wanted something memorable that related to me and my interests. (Something generic like PickLocation Custom Embroidery was out.) Considering that my original training was in ornamental horticultural design and business, I wanted something that combined fabric and plants.

There's one big problem with having me pick a plant-based name: I like weird, obscure plants. Things like Alchemilla, Cypripedium, Sarracenia, and Gunnera. These aren't exactly memorable names, and I wanted people to have a chance of being able to spell my business's name the first time around.

Then I remembered a little experience I had in college...

The school's botany department decided to let the horticulture department take care of their wing of the university's greenhouse. I was given the job of cataloging everything in it, including an obscene number of orchids. Many of the less well-known orchids have spots, splashes, and stripes - patterns that are also used on fabric.

Viola! Polkadot Orchid Embroidery!