Saturday, April 25, 2009

Craft Show: The Aftermath

Well, I'm home and MAN am I tired! Sorry I missed the last few days, I didn't have anything to share other than "HOLY COW it's in X days and I must sew sew sew sew!". Not very helpful!

My friend Barb and I went to the school last night to set up (this was a band boosters fundraiser), and from the beginning I was quite impressed. They had student and parent volunteers there to help us not only unload, but over the course of the hour or so that we were there, we were asked no less than 4 times if there was anything they could help us with. We got about 99% set up last night, making notes as to things we needed to remember to do/bring for today.

We got there this morning about an hour before opening. I had managed to get a few more shirts embroidered last night, as well as finished up another outfit to take. I've had lots of requests for pictures of my setup, and any hints and tips I can pass on. The picture at the top of this post is my setup from the front view while standing in the aisle. I am really happy with how it turned out, I completely could NOT have made it look as nice as it did without Barb though..she was awesome with ideas on how to make things look better and "more shoppable". The second picture is facing the clothing setup-I have some outfits simply hung on the closet doors (and the idea was for them to look a bit "shabby"-did I succeed???) and then my husband cut large dowels to create hanging rods for other items. Next time I will definitely create a bit more order to the way things are hung-ordering by size and type of item, today they were all just kind of smushed in wherever.

This third picture is the table that has key fobs, badge reels, rice bags, etc. on it. The table was full without being overcrowded, and we basically kept like items together. After this picture was taken we did move things around a little bit, bringing one of the key fob displays to the front and moving the wallets to the back to create a bit more visual interest.

Now, my immediate hints and tips:

  • It's very important to create areas of visual interest-using different heights for displays, lots of color (makes shoppers go "ooohh, what's this?!?!"), but still keeping some sort of order to your items.
  • Having small low dollar items will pull shoppers in to your booth, and in some instances will result in higher dollar sales (example: one lady started looking at the badge reels and fobs up front, and left having placed a custom order for a dress).
  • Be approachable and friendly without being overbearing. Don't stand right at the front of your booth, it makes it hard for people to see your items, and in some instances you may come off as a "gatekeeper" or intimidating-NOT what you want your customers to feel!
  • Know your own products, and if you have a helper educate them on your products as well. Barb was with me all day, and while I didn't do a great job of educating her about things like my rice bags and why they are awesome she listened to me talking and picked up on it quickly-MAJOR help!
  • Lastly, having someone with you is great! I know it's not always possible to have an "assistant" but it really is helpful. Not only could I go to the restroom or go browsing knowing my booth was in capable hands, but when it was busy and I was talking to one person and someone else walked up, she was able to welcome them and help answer questions and talk up my products so I wasn't left feeling like I had to ignore one person over the other, etc.
  • Make good signs! Mine were NOT spectacular by any means (and I forgot to bring my banner with me..oops), they did the job but didn't really fit well with the feel of my booth. Lesson learned.
That's what I have off the top of my head (and I'm majorly sleep deprived and wiped out so hopefully they make sense!). This show was amazingly well run-not only did they provide the aforementioned help in loading/unloading-but they also had parent volunteers who would come relieve you at your booth if you were alone for a potty break, etc. They delivered lunch to your booth, I even saw one volunteer who was helping a vendor with her baby since the vendor was there alone. There was a great turnout, I'm hoping they send out an email to the vendors with the attendance numbers, but my guess there were somewhere around 700-1,000 people in attendance. My sales were better than I thought, and I made some very good contacts with people that will hopefully pan out into large orders in the coming weeks. I'm VERY pleased with the show, and can't wait to get to my next one!

What are your tips for running a successful craft show booth? Any ideas on how I can improve my setup or comments on anything I've left out? Talk to me!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Can't post..massive sewing

It's crunch time ya'll. Setup starts at 6:30 this evening, so I'm in a mad dash rush to get as much done as possible today. Displays are done, signs are done (shoot, except one..must get on that), business cards are packed, items are tagged. Still to do-finish carding up badge reels, embroider 8 t-shirts with the awesome music sayings I found, finish up some more ruffle shorts and matching applique tees, and pack up the van! I'm so nervous but so excited! If you need me, I'll be here, buried amongst all that fabric and thread!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Craft Show Countdown Day 3 & 4

Ok I missed yesterday..because I was panicking. Not a recommended way to prepare for a show, but that's what I was doing. This morning I moved my sewing machine and serger upstairs so I can work even when the kiddos are awake, hopefully that will boost my completed items count. Just a peek at what I'm working on...

I made decent progress today, but do you ever get the feeling that it's never enough? It's been a long, rough day..not so great news from hubby's job, hyped up kiddos, and my serger blade needs replacing NOW. Which of course is Murphy's Law right?

Now, I'm going to go back to panicking! How has your day been?

Monday, April 20, 2009

Craft Show Countdown Day 2

I think I'm doing my countdown wrong, I'm actually counting UP! Oops! Well either way, it's coming!!! Currently I'm waffling between being in control and flipping my lid that I'll never be prepared!

My best piece of advice for the day is this..BREATHE. I sat down and made a list of every item I would like to finish for the show (realizing all the while that much of it won't get done, it's a very ambitious list)-pattern/item, how many per size, etc. I also started a list of things that I definitely don't want to forget to take. There are the obvious things like change and inventory, but I also want to remember to take things like a tape measure.

I'm working on a custom order form to take as well. So many of my items need to be custom, or are a better fit that way, I decided that being set up to take those orders was probably a good idea. Another thing I'm trying to decide on is credit card acceptance. I think in today's world, NOT taking credit cards would essentially be like shooting myself in the foot, so I'm researching options. I will have my husband's laptop there with me, so I'll be choosing between Propay and Paypal, anyone have any suggestions for me?

And just because who likes a post without pictures? Just a little sneak peek at one of the outfits I'm working on!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Itchin 2 Be Stitchin Bloggy Giveaway!

Just a quick interruption to my mad dash of craft show preparation tonight. Tracey over at Itchin 2 Be Stitchin is having a little giveaway to help celebrate her countdown to summer break. Head on over and give it a shot!

Craft Show Countdown: Day 1

My first craft show in over a year is one week from today. I am SO nervous! Does anyone else get that way? I have a massive to do list and not nearly enough time to accomplish it. People frequently ask me how I get done everything I do. Here's a glimpse:

I have 5 children, 2 of which are still babies (22 months and 3 months old), so while they are awake I'm not able to spend really any time in my sewing room. It's in the basement, so it's a bit chilly down there, and my son doesn't like being down there at all so I reserve all sewing for when they are asleep or when my husband is home to keep an eye on them. That gives me about 2 hours during the day. My husband works second shift, so I also work from about 8:30pm (when all the kids are generally asleep) until he gets home at 11:30. Now, I also run a co-op group, so my duties for that (cutting fabric, sorting notions, compiling packages, etc.) also falls into that time, so I'm still trying to find the best balance to get everything done in a timely manner. via Flickr, booth belongs to Joyful Abode

Which brings me to craft show prep. Apart from the obvious need for product, today I'm worrying about setup. This show is indoors, in a school gym, so I don't need to worry about taking my tent or anything like that. I've not really displayed my children's clothing at previous shows, as I was just starting to dabble in that arena, so I'm trying to work out how to display them. I've been browsing craft show setups on Flickr, and I really like how in the above picture, she's used the lattice to create V's with the hanging bar at the bottom. I have some slatted closet doors here that aren't in use, so I think I'm going to build on her idea for displaying my clothing.

My husband made some cute little pegboard displays for my keyfobs before my last show, so I will definitely be using those again. I also have some baskets I'll be using to hold various things. One thing that's really important with craft shows is creating areas of visual interest to grab and hold a customer's eye. On tables, creating different heights is one way to do that. This table is a perfect example. This whole booth is absolutely stunning! Nice and bright, very eye catching, full without seeming overly cluttered. I love it!

via Flickr, booth belongs to Red Marionette
I think I'm starting to get a handle on this part, I have a layout all sketched out. Now, the dubious-to get my cutting table cleaned off by Friday morning as it is my display table as well!

Do you have any great tips for craft show prep? Pictures of your setup? Let me know!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Miss Edith and Miss Madeline have a playdate

Ok, I know I promised to post the other day, but I got sidetracked, then yesterday a great friend of mine came and borrowed my two littlest boys all day so that I could work. I got SO much prep work done for my upcoming show, but man I was tired!

Anyway, my two most recent finishes are the Miss Madeline dress by The Handmade Dress. Samantha is SO sweet, I couldn't wait to try her patterns out. To make this dress, I used a jelly roll (appx. 40 2 1/2" strips all rolled up together) of Japanese fabrics for the base. I sewed all the strips together to create yardage, then cut the pattern out. I used a matching red solid for the sleeves and waistband. The ribbon at the waist is a Farbenmix Little Red Riding Hood print that was in my stash waiting for the perfect project and I think this was it! I absolutely LOVE how this turned out.

The pattern was relatively simple to sew for someone with some sewing experience, and would be plenty easy for a beginner as well although there may be a bit of trial and error involved in a few portions. Overall though, a great quick sew (unless you're sewing together a massive amount of 2 1/2" strips!) and an adorable turnout. I have the rest of her patterns either already in my stash or on order right now, so I'll tackle those soon!!!

The second one is the Miss Edith Twirl skirt by Jona from Fabritopia. This is an awesome skirt with some serious twirlability. I used the super popular Apples & pears fabric which has been languishing in my stash for over a year (gasp! the horror!), and paired it up with a cute pink tone on tone print and pale yellow polka dot, then I used Amy Butler Happy dots for the binding. This was a GREAT pattern! Very easy to follow, the only real change I made was the ruffle on the underskirt. The length of fabric the pattern calls for to make it ends up with a barely ruffled ruffle, and I like the tightly gathered look so I added an additional strip. This one will definitely be made often as well, there are SO many things you can do with it!

On the t-shirt, I finally conquered using my new embroidery machine on a knit fabric. Most of the problem was operator error, not the machine..but I really like the apples and pear design on the chest. Both of these items are up on Hyena Cart if you're interested!

So what new things have you tried lately? Any great new patterns you've worked with? Old favorites? Clue me in!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Linkie Love in the Blogosphere

Morning everybody (all three of you)! I'll be posting some finished projects this afternoon-in which I finally conquered a challenge I've been having lately and will talk about that, but I wanted to post some good links I've found from my reader this quiet morning.

Amy Karol, of Angry Chicken fame, has a new book coming out in August called Bend The Rules with Sewing. Many of you will remember her first book, Bend-the-Rules Sewing, which is a great book with lots of neat little tips and projects. Her new book, Bend the Rules with Fabric:, takes it to the next level incorporating projects for sewers and non-sewers alike (I always feel wierd typing sewers, like someone is going to think I'm talking about the place icky toilet water goes!). It's even got screenprinting!!!! It's available for preorder on Amazon now, as well as a few other places, the link above takes you there! I can't wait to see this book!

Craft has a great tutorial for making a quilted potholder. They simply use batting for their layers, I would probably use Insulbright myself to make it more heat resistant and less likely to burn my hands. Speaking of Insulbright, for those of you who aren't familiar with it, it's a batting infused with what looks like those silver NASA blankets-it insulates either hot or cold, so it's great for potholders, tortilla warmers, lunch bags, ironing board covers, coffee cozies and hundreds of other projects! Very usefull stuff!

Also via Craft, I found a new to me blog, Dollar Store Crafts. She posted a tutorial for these super cute Dishtowel Shorts, and she's also hosting a "Make Something Cool Everyday" party in April. This one is definitely going into my feed reader!

What are some of your favorite blogs? Seen anything awesome in the blogosphere lately? I'll be back later today with some finished pretties!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Fabric Stashing..or why I need the Stash game!

I'm a member of an online cloth diaper sewing forum, called Diaper Sewing Divas, which is an awesome resource for anyone considering cloth diapers or anyone who just wants a really friendly community of "crunchy" mamas. Every few months, they will have what is called a Stash game. The premise is relatively sew from your stash, and earn points for items sewn but you lose points for buying fabric during the game.
Generally, business sewing doesn't count, only sewing done for you or your children, etc. but that works for me because it really ups my motivation level in all aspects of my sewing room! I tend to work really hard, and quite a bit more focused during the games-I know I'll never win, I don't get enough time to sew to do that, but it's just FUN!

These pictures? These are only 3 of 15 pics I took of my entire cotton wovens stash for a customer. This doesn't include knits, PUL, corduroy, muslin, flannel or my 60" wide cotton wovens. See why I need the stash game?

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter!

I hope everyone is having a nice, relaxing holiday with their family! I was burning the midnight oil last night to complete the bloomers to go with Gennah's dress. They never did get finished due to a malfunctioning sewing machine at my moms, but she looked super cute anyway! This is a quick (VERY blurry) pic I took of her modeling it the other day:

The pattern I used was a new one on You Can Make This, the Precious Dress by Carla C. I have quite a few of her patterns and I love all of the ones I've made up so far. I think the worst part of this dress was the sleeves, and that was only because they are so very small (this is the 3 month size of the dress). Start to finish I'd say it took about 3 hours, which I didn't think was bad at all for such an adorable little dress!

This was the first year my youngest son (Wyatt), was really able to get into the Easter Egg hunt. He'll be 22 months old this week, and it was SO cute! We were helping him find the eggs, and once all the eggs had been found, he wasn't done! So he spent the next hour taking eggs out of his basket, throwing them in the yard, going to find them..then starting all over again. Definitely one of those priceless kid moments!

My older three are old enough to know the drill...they were tearing around like crazy screaming and yelling every time they found an egg. Even my 9 year old who is starting to hit that "I'm too cool to be excited" stage.

The rest of today will be spent relaxing with my family, watching movies, enjoying the barbecue chicken my husband is currently grilling, and just enjoying each others company. I hope your day is as great as mine!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Welcome to Froggy Girl Designs!

Hi, I'm Mika, work-at-home mama to my 5 little punks (4 boys and 1 girl!). I create children's clothing, aprons, cloth diapers and wipes, and whatever else strikes my fancy! I'm a long time lover of crafty blogs, and thought I may have something to offer. I hope to bring positive things to this space, including some tutorials, pattern reviews, what's up and coming around the fabric world, and I'm sure I'll talk about my goofy kids too!

I'm still working on getting the blog setup, but if you'd like to check out my stuff, you can always go to!