Let's try this again!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

If you follow me on Instagram you will have already heard the news: I'm trying out that having a baby thing again.  I am currently just entering 14 weeks of pregnancy, and onto my second trimester, and am due October 15.  After having a miscarriage in September, pregnancy has taken on a whole new level of scary (and excitement!).  That being said, everything this time around feels incredibly different, but there is always that nagging thought in the back of your head, 'what if it happens this time too.'  However, after hearing that wonderful little heartbeat several times, and seeing him or her wriggle and squirm and hiccup on the ultrasound on three different occasions, I'm feeling pretty safe and sound.

My first pregnancy was a bit of a surprise.  As some of you may remember, I was pretty on the fence about having kids, and didn't have that drive that a lot of future mom's and dad's seem to have.  I feel pretty fulfilled in my life, with my business and my marriage and my animals.  Dan always knew kids were something he wanted, which  always worried me because it didn't seem that cut and dry to me.  I bring this up, because I know there were a lot of you who commented that you had the same feelings.  Even after I lost my first baby, I felt like if it never happened again, I would be ok.  People are so much more complex than our drive to procreate.  However, I can say that as someone who never imagined herself as a mother, growing a little person feels pretty amazing (once you get over the initial fear and occasional queasiness)! A lot of my initial fears and apprehensions about pregnancy, birth, and taking care of the baby went away once I got pregnant.  I blame it on the hormones, but this has definitely been my experience.  Everything feels like it will just be ok somehow.  My husband, on the other hand, is a little more nervous.

The last few months have been weird (but exciting!). It's weird doing pregnancy twice in such a short period of time, telling family and friends that you are once again pregnant. It's weird to have a "do-over." I felt very detached in the beginning but over the last few weeks I've been able to "enjoy" pregnancy.  So far, everything seems to be going just right (and I have the belly to show for it too).

Yesterday, I decided I'd let myself finally indulge a bit, and sewed some baby clothes.  I bought the patterns from Brindille & Twig on Etsy. They were so fast and  easy to sew, I think I have a new addiction.  I am anxiously awaiting Mid-May to find out the sex of the baby so I can sew a few more things.  Babies are a great reason to get your craft on!

I wanted to share this news with you because I had so many people reach out to me after I had written about my miscarriage.  It felt so reassuring to hear your stories, and now I am glad to continue on with mine! 

All Over the Place!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Spring has officially arrived, though you'd never know it if you stepped outside.  Yesterday, we went for a walk in the woods. The trails were pretty hard packed, but every once and a while you'd hit a soft spot and sink up to your knees in the snow.  The constant falling down just made it all the more fun... Regardless of the snow on the ground, it was actually a really nice day and I was grateful to be able to get outside and feel the sun on my face!

"My feet are cold" :(

I know you've heard this one before, but I am actually ahead on my orders by about 2 weeks.  This is the first time in, oh... 2 years that this has happened? My new collection is selling very fast, which is making me think I might be designing a mini-summer collection, but in the mean time I've started working on some swimsuits.  I've just drafted this one-piece which I will offer Made to Order and in PDF Pattern format. I'm also going to do mix and match two piece ensemble's. I had talked about doing a sew along. I might be over-stretching myself a bit by doing a formal sew along, but I am absolutely going to be posting tutorials on how to convert my lingerie patterns to swimwear.

I've also been working on "Pattern Hack's", including one on how to convert the Jane Bikini Cut Panties pattern into Ruffle Bloomers.  It's supper easy... I just need to get my act in gear and get the tutorials posted. I'm going to also post tutorials on how to add strapping, how to add padding to my bralette patterns, and how to add scalloped lace to the Grace & Lola Patterns. 

I was super excited to have my Spring/Summer Collection featured on the Lingerie Addict last month.  I have to give a shout out to Cora for supporting indie designers like myself.  If you love lingerie, The Lingerie Addict is a must-read.

Ohhh Lulu S/S2014 on the Lingerie Addict!
It's been a pretty busy month for me.  My Bambi Bra was featured in the latest issue of Sew News Magazine.  I was thrilled to see this feature!

Lastly, I woke up this morning to find that my Tropical Floral Knickers were featured in the Etsy Women's Browse section.  So awesome! I love the pastel mix they've curated.

So, I've kind of been all over the place this last month.  This week is finally a quiet one and I hope to check a few things off my to-do list!


Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Thanks, everyone, for the awesome response to my last blog post and the new item's I've launched! 

I finally got everything from my new collection up on Etsy, and things are selling pretty fast!  So, if there is something you've had your eye on, I wouldn't wait too long to get it as it might sell out.  Some of these fabrics are pretty limited. I thought I'd show a few pieces below that mix and match well.  I love mixing and matching prints and textures... 

Yesterday, I also finished putting up a few Sample Sale items.  I'm really trying to clear out old pieces that I was hanging onto for too long. 

Today, I'm going to finally make my way back into the studio.  The first thing I will do is CLEAN.  I worked my butt off last week trying to finish up orders so I could focus on admin-type things for a few days, and left my workspace a disaster. After, I'm going to get a head on a few orders (that feels so good to say!), and (here's the exciting bit), order swimsuit supplies.  I want to offer a few ready-made swimsuits this summer (and maybe do a sew along using some of my patterns...? yay or nay?).

Mix and Match Bras

Eventide Blue Satin Bra

Mix and Match Hipster Panties

Midnight Blue Velvet

NEW Nautical Three Pack

Nebula Lace-Back Panties

Bon Voyage High Waist Knickers

Eventide Blue Satin Hipsters

Thinking Summer...

Friday, March 14, 2014

Yesterday it felt like -31° C, but I'm day dreaming about much warmer weather...

I always find this time of year hard, but this winter has been particularly difficult.  We can't see past the snow banks to pull out of our driveway, temperatures seem to hover around -20° C, the side walks are so icy and lumpy and hard to walk on, the roads have deep grooves in the packed down snow that make it hard to drive... it feels like it's been snowing since December 1st! At first, the excessive snow was a bit of a novelty, even for this seasoned Canadian, but now it's just depressing... 

I am really itching to get back out into my garden.  In the meantime, I've been making frequent trips to the florist up the road to buy fresh flowers for in my house.  The smell alone is just so uplifting! 

I've also been using these flowers as props for the photos of my new items! I am really excited about these pieces.  I've gone back to basics with this collection.  The first thing I need to mention is that this collection is huge.  I get tired of sewing the same things and using the same fabrics, so I've got a huge variety for myself to work with.  Secondly, I wanted to be able to mix and match a lot of these pieces.  Third, I did a lot of thinking about what Ohhh Lulu meant to me when I started it back in 2010.  I remember clearly, sitting in Dan's cramped, wood-panelled living room, and telling him how I pictured Ohhh Lulu.  The thing that I wanted Ohhh Lulu to capture is how beautiful you can feel when you are wearing the simplest garments that show off your natural shape.  I don't know about you, but there are days when I roll out of bed and my hair is a glorious mess, and the sun hits me at just the right angle, and I'm just wearing a simple tank top and panties, and I feel like the most beautiful person in the world! That is what I want to capture, that relaxed and natural state of beauty. Something I struggle with in my personal life as well as in my "designer" life is doing what I want to do as opposed to what I think other people want me to do. I kind of feel like I veered off course a bit... not that I am not happy with what I've done, but I feel like these pieces are really "me." I made a point of just makings things I like and that I want to wear (and that I am frequently wearing!).

One thing I do whenever I design a new collection is think of a loose theme... often a place or an era and how that makes me feel. Capturing a mood or a feeling through my lingerie is something that is important to me, and I hope comes through in my designs! I've been thinking a lot about morning and the sky, and how that is my favourite time of day.  One of my favourite memories is from my honeymoon.  We camped for a week, and got up bright and early each morning.  We would walk down to the lake and sit on the dock, listening to loons and watching the sun rise.  Then, we would do the same in the evening and watch the sun go down.  If you haven't stopped to watch a sunrise and sunset, you need to do it ASAP because it is one of the most amazing feelings in the world.

Inspiration: Untitled Photo by Angela d'Avignon, Clouds via Pinterest, Flowers via Pinterest, Sky at Dusk via Pinterest, Beach via Tumblr. As for the lingerie, you can find it in my shop!

I've been slowly posting new items in my Etsy Shop.  I have to say, I am personally wearing a lot of these pieces day to day.  I have a couple of new styles, with my favourite being the longline bralettes, like the one show below in midnight blue velvet.

Midnight Velvet Lingerie Set

I also am doing triangle bras (yes, the bra below is a hack of my Brigette Triangle Bra Pattern, and showing you how to do this is on my To Do List!).  I'm a fairly busty lady, and I have to say, I've been wearing nothing but the long line, triangle, and cross-over wrap bra for the last few months. I try to put on an underwire bra and I just can't make it through the day.  I get quite a few messages asking if I do underwire bras, and the answer is, "no, and I don't plan to." First of all, there are plenty of nice underwire bras out there in a variety of price points points and styles.  If you disagree, just hop over to Figleaves and try to tell me you can't find something you like!  But most of all, I really like the shape that a soft bra gives.  Most people are used to the super round, bowling ball shape that foam push-up bras give, and while that is all fine and good and has it's place, there is also a place for a comfortable bra that feels like you're wearing nothing at all.  I have to say, the natural shape and curve of the bust, waist, and hip is just so pretty... why not show it off? A soft bra provides a bit of support while still showing off your natural curves.  One thing I will say is if you have exclusively worn underwired, padded bras your whole life like I had, switching to a soft bra does feel strange (kind of like you're half naked), but for me, it's hard to go back to the bowling ball boob look.

Tropical Floral Lingerie Set
 The other thing that was really important to me when I started Ohhh Lulu was trying to represent a realistic body type.  I don't think I've always been successful at this, and the longer I run this business, I realize how hard it is to try to represent everyone.  My resources are minimal and models and photo shoots are costly. Some models and photographers will work on trade, but there is still the time and cost involved in preparing and sending samples...  When I first started Ohhh Lulu, I thought I'd use myself as a model. I'm petite, but otherwise a fairly average person (ie. I certainly don't have thigh gap). I soon found that modelling/taking photos is not as easy as one might think and that it is also extremely time consuming.  However, I think there is some merit in seeing clothes on your "Average Josephine."  I really do wish I had the resources to represent multiple body types, skin tones, aesthetics, etc, but as a DIY shop owner, it's really hard... way harder than I thought it would be! There is a lot of pressure and competition to have the right look... I was spending so much time worrying about my photos and stressing that I wasn't living up to the competition that I feel like my designs suffered. So, I said "Screw it!" and I diy'ed it.  I still plan on doing some professional photos down the road, but as I said earlier, I'm going back to basics.  I am a DIY'er.  DIY is what I do! DIY is what Ohhh Lulu is all about. All the power to the DIY'ers!

Black Satin Basics
 So, I'm pretty happy (despite this miserable weather). In the past year or so I found it really hard not to compare myself and feel a sense of competition with other businesses, and I really hated that feeling.  Of course, I want to run a successful business and be the best that I can be, but most importantly, I want it to be fun.  For a while, it wasn't so fun... it was really stressful! I was trying to run my business the way I saw others run theirs... and that's not for me. Like a lot of creative-types, I'm highly self critical.  I looked at what everyone else was doing, everyone else looks so professional and like they've got it all figured out.  I needed to remind myself that what I do is for me, not for the approval of anyone else (but in the hopes that other people will share my passion).  I am glad I was able to take a step back and concentrate on what's really important... Pretty lingerie!!!

Black Satin Basics

Hurray! It's done!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

I love people who can do things with their hands... like, build things, paint a picture, knit a sweater, fix a car... install an incredibly complicated vanity!

We finally got the bathroom put together last weekend.  It still needs a few finishing touches, but it is 100% usable and my house is a little more normal again.  Now that it's done, it feels so good! Our bathroom before was old, dingy, and poorly maintained.  It feels fresh and new now.

A couple weeks ago, I tackled our bedroom.  Everything upstairs had been painted boring-beige when we moved in. Our room is fairly small, just enough space for our bed, a dresser, and hope chest... pretty standard old-house size.

I'll take better photos (when I have a chance), but here is the headboard we made out of reclaimed wood.  I put a small painting that my grandma did over the bed... the frame was perfectly chipped and peeling!  We put linen-look sheers on either side of the bed to soften it up a bit and installed a chandelier.  I am really, really, really happy with how these two rooms have turned out.  It feels good to be surrounded by beautiful things.

I think we will take a break from home-reno's for a bit.  We still have a few things I want to do, like finish the flooring on the main floor, and paint the weird wood panelling we have in the entryway and hallway... but for now, I am reno'ed out!

Glad that week is over!

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Last week was one of those weeks where nothing seems to go very easily.

The original bathroom vs. our quick-fix floor and paint job when we moved in.

Last Saturday, Dan and I started tearing apart our bathroom.  We planned to put down new flooring, beadboard panelling over where we took down the tile, new baseboard and chair rail, a new vanity, and paint.  In my head, somehow I thought we could do much of this work over a three day weekend.  I don't know how I thought we could do that, but in my head it all sounded like it would work out.  Having never demolished a bathroom before, I didn't realize how LONG that process is.  I spent an entire day using a belt sander to try to get the old linoleum off the floor.  Basically, it took two full days of working just to get everything out, and we didn't even touch the toilet or bathtub (those two fixtures are staying). Since we do only have 1 bathroom, I was in a bit of a rush to try to get it in at least working order again... that is one downside of DIY-ing and 1 bathroom living (other wise, we don't have much need for a second bathroom, but I didn't really realize how inconvenienced I would be without a sink and mirror for a week!)

What a mess!
Our bathroom obviously has hardly been touched since it was originally installed, and as a result, we found a number of "issues." There had been a leak behind the faucet of the tub, a leak under the sink... all of which had gotten repaired at sometime but never properly cleaned up, which meant Dan and I had a lot of really gross clean up to do.  I think this is one of the downsides of buying a house that had been used as a rental for 20 years or so.  Things get patched and mended, but nothing gets done right.  Tenants may not tell landlords about an issue until it's really out of hand.  Case in point, here's what we found after we pulled out the old vanity.  A nice big hole in the floor, mildew, and other unnamed horrors.

EWW! Glad to have this taken care of!

Front page of our local news paper.... from 1981!

One of the biggest problems we ran into was installing our vanity and sink which was from Ikea.  Finding a reasonably priced vanity is not easy, and we looked all over.  I wanted something a little different and because our bathroom is quite large, we needed something that was proper scale for the space.  At the same time, we didn't have much money to spend on this project so Ikea seemed like the best bet.  Something we (stupidly) didn't account for is that our plumbing comes straight out of the floor.  I'm not sure why we didn't think of this, but basically all of Ikea's vanity's have an open bottom or are floating. In hindsight, many of the vanities that we looked at at Home Depot, Home Hardware, etc, has open bottoms.   In the end, we ended up being ok.  My genius husband turned some pipes, worked a little magic, and voila! The the plumbing sits perfectly in the space behind the drawers and unless you get down on your hands and knees, you can't even see the pipes underneath.  This did make attaching the sink plumbing quite a bit more challenging, but luckily my husband is basically a genius and figured out how to make it work.  I couldn't even figure out how to assemble the Ikea pipes (plumbing is not my "thing," I have learned).

The second problem with this particular Ikea sink is that it comes with special drain plumbing, which allows it to have full sized, fully functional drawers underneath.  It's ingenious! But it also did not fit up with our pipes.  The ikea pipes themselves seem to be a slightly different size than standard.  We ended up having to go to a plumbing supply store, and they helped us find a fitting that went from 1 1/2" to whateverthehell Ikea Pipes are.  It sounds like we aren't the only ones who have had this problem.  I did some reading, and found another blogger with the same issue here.  So, if you decide to install the Hemnes Vanity with Rattviken sink, you're going to need some speciality parts. That being said, it was still the cheapest & nicest vanity/sink that we could source in our area...

Ta Da!

It is nice to have a sink and mirror again! We still have quite a bit of work to do,  but I'm hoping we can finish most of it this weekend.  We are down to the trim, paint, silicone, put up some shelves, and decorate (that's where I come in).  Oh, and that floor? I laid that myself! My first time tiling with grout... I'm pretty proud of that!

So, besides the bathroom that took over my life this week, I also am obviously working. However, last week my serger started locking up... something was wrong with the feed dog.  So I took it in and thought I'd have it back by the beginning of the week... and I still don't have it back! Hopefully it will be back by next week.  That did put me several days behind though.  I was able borrow a serger from my aunt, but when I got it to my house, it had a broken needle! It is a White sewing machine, and I normally use a Pfaff.  The White is very different from my Pfaff.  You need Allen keys to remove the needles, the threading (to me) is quite complicated, the tension and stitch adjusters are different.  It took me almost 2 hours + you tube tutorials just to figure out how to use it! I felt like a total newbie! But, now that it is up and running, I'm getting back on track. Just about a day behind on orders... So, that is what I will be doing while Dan works on the bathroom this week.

Income tax time is also approaching way to quick, and in typical Sarah-Style I've left it until the last minute.  Since my serger was broken, I thought I'd work on that.  However, when I moved my Quickbooks over to my new Windows 8 computer, something happened with the date/time settings which would not allow me to import my Paypal data over as I had done in the past.  I kept getting a message that "data was NOT" imported. So I'd fiddle with the file, try again, etc.  Pretty soon I had hundreds of duplicate transactions,and entire weeks missing! I went to restore from my last back up, but when I did that, many of the transactions were still there, which totally make no sense.  I spent two and a half days trying to figure this stupid thing out.  I called paypal about the errors who said it was Quickbooks fault.  I called Quickbooks who said it was a problem with Paypal's files. I tried a third party software (who actually has amazing customer service), and was still having issues.  Finally, I proclaimed "F*%# YOU!" and gave up.  Now, I am trying to use Wave, which looks perfect for my accounting needs, but I still can't connect my Paypal Account.

So, this week is one of those weeks where I had a number of things to do, and as a result of equipment failure, I'm feeling stressed and overloaded.  On the upside, I will soon have a nice, clean, new bathroom. We have a play date with the Pug group at an agility center.  Oliver is nervous of other pugs (I chalk it up to him being self-conscious about his unusually large size), but loves the equipment.  And, it's Dan's birthday on Monday! I won't say how old, but I will say, the best think about being with someone older is you always feel young in comparison (haha!).   Hope everyone else has had a less frustrating week!

Happy 'Wear Fancy Lingerie' Day! I mean... Valentines Day!

Friday, February 14, 2014

I have turned into the worst blogger.  I used to spend so much time here, and I miss it.  I really want to get back into blogging again, but am having a hard time getting back into the flow.

Today is Valentines Day.  Dan and I are both working today, and bright and early tomorrow morning we will be starting to demolish our bathroom! I am very excited. We have already removed half a wall of old, floral harvest-gold tile and have stripped the room of all the fixtures.  We are not re-tiling, but instead are putting up beadboard panelling, and a new tile floor.  We are also installing a new vanity/sink and have no idea what we are doing.  Luckily, Dan is a pretty smart guy so I am sure he can figure it out.  For me, this is an awesome Valentines Day Gift... as good as fireworks for my birthday!

Two weekends ago I re-did our bedroom.  It turned out amazing! So I have high hopes for the bathroom, although it will be much more work.

Otherwise, I've been busy keeping up with orders and finishing up new items.  I am going to do another shop overhaul soon, and have been experimenting with new backdrops and learning a bit more about photography as I go.

I also recently has my lingerie featured on CTV Ottawa Morning, which is a tv morning show here in Canada.  Etsy Canada was on, showing wares from different Canadian Sellers.  If you're interested, you can watch the clip here.

Happy Valentines, everyone! I hope you get the chance to wear something pretty, drink a glass of wine (or rum and coke if you're like me), and buy yourself some flowers!

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