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Monday, April 29, 2013

As I mentioned yesterday, I'm taking a week off from Giveaways because there are actually two great Give Aways ending this week!

Give Away on Farmhouse Garden!

Abby from Farmhouse Garden is giving away a pattern of the winners choice.  Check out the cute jersey lounge bra she made! I love the rosette!  I have been following her blog for a long time and love seeing her creations!  Click HERE to access the Give Away.

I love seeing your creations!

Marie also has a Give Away open this week! When I first started my blog, I think she was the first person I followed.  I am so happy to be helping host give aways on both of these blogs! So, there are lots of ways to get your hands on one of my new patterns this week for FREE!  You can check out Marie's Give Away HERE.

Give Away on A Stitching Odyssey

There's been lots of exciting activity on the web lately.  Anna is finishing up her French Knicker's Sew Along.  Today she posted about adding lace to the leg openings, and will soon be adding an embroidered monogram to the side.  I love that idea!

I've also been following Tilly's blog posts about the Great British Sewing Bee.  Have you bee watching and following along? I haven't had a chance to watch it yet, but I plan to find it online and am excited to see Tilly on TV!

Into the trees...

Sunday, April 28, 2013

So, this has been a wonderful weekend. The weather was warm, it was sunny, it was glorious. 

Flowers, finally flowers!

Yesterday morning, I got my hair done.  Getting my hair done is something I now do.  I thought I hated getting my hair done, but for the first time in my life I have a stylist who just does what she wants with the little direction I give her, and also for the first time in my life, I can actually afford to get my hair done.  It is really nice.  My hair is very long, all the way to my waist, and very, very full so my hair appointment basically took all morning... But it was nice and relaxing.

Afterwards, Dan and I had lunch downtown then went to a seminar on Art & Copyright Law.  This may not sound like the most exciting way to spend a Saturday afternoon, but it was so informative, and we got to pick the brains of a couple lawyers.  I left feeling more empowered, as someone who creates.  Artists/authors/designers/creators need to stick up for their work! In a world where copying flourishes, creativity gets snuffed out... I don't want to live in that world.  While I don't feel like I left the seminar as an expert in copyright law, I do feel much more assured in my rights as a creator.  I think that with the advent of the internet, general knowledge of your intellectual property rights as an artist is so incredibly important. I think the seminar actually deserves it's own post....

Oliver, a true Outdoorsman

At the end of the day we picked up Oliver at the house and strolled along the boardwalk and enjoyed the sights and sounds of the lake.  I really love living here, we have so many beautiful places to see.

The Sun & The Trees
Today, Dan and I went on a 90 minute hike.  We ventured off the trails and followed a small stream.  We hopped along rocks, and balanced over fallen trees.  We came to one river-crossing that consisted of just one fallen pine.  I crossed carefully, then urged Oliver over.  He worked up some courage and balanced his way along! I was so proud, and he looked so proud of himself  it brought a tear to my eye.  Ugh... I just love this dog so much.

Everything is drenched after a late spring thaw.

This afternoon, we went to my nephew's (actually my cousins son, but my cousin is like a sister, and her boys call me "Auntie Sarah") 5th Birthday Party.  We didn't stay too long, but watched the kids ride bikes, dressed up like Ninja Turtles, and be generally adorable.  We ended our evening at my parents house, with roast beef dinner.  In between all of that, I fit in a little sewing here and there.  A day just wouldn't be complete without the whir of the sewing machine...

A river runs through it...
I hope everyone else has had a nice weekend as well.  I also wanted to mention that I am taking a one week hiatus from the 5 weeks of Give Aways, but there are some other things happening this week that I will let you know about on Monday.


Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Monday went by really fast... I walked down to the Post Office first thing yesterday morning, and brought Oliver along with me.  Normally, it takes me about 10 minutes to get down there.  Yesterday, it took 20.  Oliver sniffed everything.  And then of course, we had to stop and sit on a bench for a while because he was tired... so it ended up being quite the adventure.

When I came back, I got to work sewing that dress for the wedding.  I scored some aubergine coloured jersey for $1.80 on the weekend, and it turned out awesome! I can't wait to show you some pictures.  In fact, I want to make a second dress, I like it so much.

I finished it up around lunch time, ate some soup, then sat in my studio for an hour staring at my sewing machine.  After an hour had passed I realized I hadn't given myself a day off in about 3 weeks, so I closed my lap top, shut off my machines, turned off the lights, and headed out for a walk.  I did a little shopping, them came home and napped until Dan came home.  It was nice to have an improptu day off.  I am still not feeling very well, so it was really very needed.

Today I will work on cutting out orders, which always takes me much longer than it should because I get distracted in the process.  However, I am getting more and more caught up, and more and more efficient... but still easily distractable!  

I am really looking forward to the wedding that is coming up.  I have even booked a hair appointment that morning and am getting my highlights touched up this weekend.  It is really fun to get dressed up... I don't get the opportunity very often.

In closing, I wanted to share this photo that I love, of Emily from, modeling a new blue floral & lace set that I have just listed on etsy.

CLOSED 5 Weeks of Give Aways! Week 2: The Grace Panties

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Congratulations to Anna Maria, you are the winner of the first week of giveaways! Thank you to all of you who entered! My inbox was bombarded with messages the moment the giveaway was posted, it was just great!

The second give away is for my low-rise hipster style panties.  These are great because you can use a combination of woven and stretch fabrics, which means you can use cute printed cotton for the front and back portion, with jersey, stretch mesh, stretch lace, or other stretch fabrics on the sides.

The rules are the same as before.  You can enter the give away, or purchase the pattern on Etsy or Craftsy.

The giveaway starts right now, and will close on Sunday, April 28 at  9am.

Here's how to enter:
  1.  Leave 1 comment with your email address, and let me know what fabric you would use to sew your Bambi Bra in.
  2. For a BONUS entry, 'like' Ohhh Lulu on Facebook and leave a 2nd comment letting me know you have done so.
  3. For a BONUS BONUS entry, pin your favourite item from my shop to Pinterest , and leave me a 3rd comment letting me know you've done so.
  4. For a triple BONUS entry, tweet about the giveaway, and leave me a 4th comment letting me know you have done so.  Use the hashtag #ohhhlulu

Good luck! :)

The week that was...

Last week was not a great week.  Dan came down with a cold the week before, which I had picked up by Sunday night. A week  later, and I am still congested... but feeling a million times better.  This is my 3rd cold of the year and it is leaving me feeling generally run down and tired...

I have woken up to snow on the ground the last two days.  That is terribly depressing.  I think this time last year, we were out doing yard work.

So, being sick has left me a little behind.  While I stupidly did not take any time 'off', I was sewing at a much slower, more sniffley rate.  I did finish up about 5 orders yesterday evening, and will finish up that emerald green set I had mentioned the other day.

I am really itching to sew some new items for Summer, as well as a few things for myself.  We are attending a wedding in May, and I would like to sew myself one of those infinity dresses.  I used to have one of the infinity dresses from American Apparel, and I loved it, I wore it all the time.  This time I would like to make  a long version, with a lace cardigan to wear overtop. I like the infinity dress because it is stretchy, comfortable, and I will wear it over and over.  I love wearing long dresses.  They are so much more comfortable than wearing pants, for me.

Speaking of pants, I had the most frustrating pants-shopping experience yesterday.  My mom and I took an impromptu trip to the nearest mall, which is about 30 mins away.  We were both in need of jeans... I looked all over, and finally ended up at H&M. I was in search of dark, skinny jeans, with a regular rise waist.  I tried on 3 pairs at H&M, a 28", 29" and 30".  The 30/32 was too tight in the hips/thighs.  The 28/30 came no where close to doing up.  The 29/30 fit pretty good, gaped at the waist in the back.  How the heck is that even possible? Especially when I walked into the mall wearing a pair of 29/30's that were falling off me (of a different brand)!? I am so sick of pants. All of the jeans I own are either falling off and need to be belted, or so tight/low waisted that when I sit my butt completely pops out of them. I don't consider myself to have an especially strange body.  I am pretty curvy for a girl of my stature, but nothing extreme... From now on, it's leggings or dresses for this girl.  While the idea of making myself some jeans is appealing, finding the time to do so seems unlikely...

Afternoon break

Monday, April 15, 2013

We are finally having some nice weather.  Although there is still some snow in the forecast, I am happy to look out my window and see sunshine and buds on the trees.  It still doesn't really feel like winter has left us though. It's still chilly outside, and Dan and I are both sick with a nasty cold.  Dan has been home sick since Friday and hopefully will be back to work tomorrow.  Me? I'm working through it, but taking breaks now and then to sit and rest...

Spring is a nice time of year.  "Newness" is in the air! I am working on so much wedding lingerie right now, it's one of my favourite things to design.  I'm embarrassed to admit that I totally forgot to do anything about wedding lingerie for my own wedding (pathetic, huh?), so I feel like I get to live vicariously through the brides I get to work with :)

One thing I am not enjoying about Spring is income tax deadline... This year is particularly confusing for me because my business has taken off so much.  In Design School we didn't really touch on business basics very much... I am lucky that through my various jobs, I have picked up on how to use Quickbooks.  So, I finally invested in the program for myself and have been busily entering receipts and importing information.  Nerdy as it is, I actually kind of like that kind of work.  It's nice to have a break from the sewing machine...

As for today, I am busy cutting out my orders for the week.  I am particularly excited about an emerald green satin set I am working on.  I'll post pictures later in the week...

CLOSED 5 Weeks of Give Aways! Week 1: The Bambi Bra Pattern

Here it is, the first of 5 give aways! I am starting with pattern 1301, the Bambi Soft Bra, which seems to be the most popular of the patterns. 

The giveaway starts right now, and will close on Sunday, April 21 at  9am.

Here's how to enter:
  1.  Leave 1 comment with your email address, and let me know what fabric you would use to sew your Bambi Bra in.
  2. For a BONUS entry, 'like' Ohhh Lulu on Facebook and leave a 2nd comment letting me know you have done so.
  3. For a BONUS BONUS entry, pin your favourite item from my shop to Pinterest , and leave me a 3rd comment letting me know you've done so.
  4. For a triple BONUS entry, tweet about the giveaway, and leave me a 4th comment letting me know you have done so.  Use the hashtag #ohhhlulu
So there you have it! Up to 4 ways to enter. Best wishes everyone, and happy sewing!

Five New Patterns!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

My eyes are about ready to fall out of my head, I have been working on these for days.  But! I am very proud of how these patterns have turned out.  I have learned a lot since the days of "The Betty" Pattern!  I am happy to introduce to you 5 lovely new sew at home patterns!

The first pattern is the Bambi Soft Bra.  I designed this bra to be sewn in woven fabrics, so you can use pretty cotton prints.  It can also be sewn in knits, but you will likely want to size down.  While I recommend this pattern for B-C cups, when you sew your test garment, you will find that you can easily adjust the size by altering the curves of the cup.
Bambi Soft Bra
The Grace Panties are low cut, boy leg style panties which are to be sewn in a combination of woven and stretch / knit fabrics.  

The Grace Panties

The Sophia Pattern is my most 'advanced' pattern.  I am looking forward to seeing your interpretations of this pattern. It fits like a bikini cut panty, but with contrast ruching over the hips.

Sophia Panties

The Lola Panties are a great every-day panties.  They have a center back seam, and fit like a Brazilian   These are to be sewn in stretch knits only. I several of these in ribbed knit, jersey, and the ones below in jersey and lace.

Lola Panties

Lastly, I have also included a simple, princess seam bralette - the Jasmine Bralette.  You can line this, or leave it unlined and just overlock your seams.  This is a really versatile pattern.

Jasmine Bralette
The super-duper cool thing about these patterns is that they are all available for instant download via Etsy & Craftsy... so if you are impatient like me, there is no waiting.

So... To kick things off I'm going to hold a give away a week for the next 5 weeks.  I'll post the first giveaway on Monday.  Stay tuned!

New Patterns Soon

Friday, April 12, 2013

The first thing I do when I wake up in the morning, is give my dog a little snuggle, then turn on my phone, check my email and my twitter feed to see what's happening in the world.  Today, Friday, April 12, 2013, is a snow day across most of the area.  Yep, a snow day in April.  Well, I never....! We received a sprinkling of snow, just enough to cover all the freshly exposed grass, but we also received a healthy dose of freezing rain and everything is just covered in ice.  Unfortunately, I only work upstairs  so I can't very well justify a snow day myself...  I can, however, cry and whine about how upset I am about this weather.  I am so ready for summer and so very sick of the snow...

Anyway, in less whiny news, last weekend I worked very hard on some new patterns. I have greatly improved my own digitizing skills and I am so very excited to release these sometime next week (I hope).  Through releasing my first two patterns I learned ALOT. So, now I have a few things in the works...  The bra which you can see below, a pair of hipster style panties that can be made out of woven fabrics, a pair of brazilian/bikini combination panties to be made in jersey... and a few other things... I have had a lot of requests for the long-line style bra I have been doing.  I may release that in a single size that you can then grade yourself.  The tricky thing about releasing bra patterns is that there are so many size grades... It ends up being a ton of work.

I also have just re-ordered some more of this blue flannel floral.  I have received so many emails about this set, so I am bringing it back for a limited time.  I just listed 6 on Etsy, so get your orders in!
Pre-Order Now!!!

SO, YOU WANT TO START A BUSINESS...? Take lots and lots of photos...

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Once you have the foundations of your business established - what you will sell, your shop policies, and a basic template for your product descriptions, it's time to get to the fun stuff.  I never thought I liked photography.  I figured it was as easy as seeing something you like and taking a picture of it.  Turns out, it's not that easy.  The camera doesn't always see things the way your eye sees them in that moment.  

When selling items on Etsy, or any other online venue, your photos are probably one of the most important tools you can use to help sell your items and create a brand image.  When I first started selling on Etsy I felt really overwhelmed by the amount of sellers who appeared to have professional photography.  I didn't have any photographer friends handy at the time, and just a $99 point and shoot camera. While I feel like my photos have greatly improved over the years, I still feel like my photos were crisp, clean, and clearly displayed what I was selling.

I think the most important tip I can pass along is to take lots and lots of photos.  Get a sheet of white bristol board, some whethered wood, some black velvet, something to create a nice clean back drop, place it in front of a bright window and take million pictures of your item on it.  If you are like me and have no clue about how to take a good picture, you will quickly see what works and what doesn't just by doing it.  You do not need a $600 camera with a dozen fancy lenses to take nice photos.  Just time, patience, a good backdrop, and bright natural light.  Also take time to prepare your items before hand.  Snip any loose threads and give the garment a really good press.

Something I have often done in my photos is add props.  Props help to create mood and add interest to the photos.  I know when I am browsing through Etsy, the items I often stop on and favorite feature props.  One of my favorite sellers, Kathleen from Trowel and Paintbrush, often uses natural props in her photos.  I like how she does it, the photos still appear simple and uncluttered, but the props help highlight the artwork.

Styling your photos can be a lot of fun.  Remember to keep it original - you want to create a look that is distinctively you!

'Small Sparrow Feather' by Trowel and Paintbrush

For many items, a scale reference is nice to have.  If you are selling greeting cards, show it held in someone's hand, so you can see how big it is.  If you are selling earrings, show them on an ear so you can see how long they dangle.  For clothing it gets a little trickier because photoshoots can cost you big bucks, but you can also enlist some friends as models, put on some good music, and just have fun, or include a shot of the garment on a dressform.

White Tulip Watercolour Painting by Trowel and Paintbrush
Taking a lot of photos is really important, but also trying new things with your photos is important too.  With my last collection I have tried a new approach with my photography. I use simpler backgrounds, geometric shapes to highlight my items, and with the collaboration of photographers and models, have more modeled shots to display the fit of my garments. As you grow and change as a designer, your photography and styling should reflect that.

Flora Bra & Panties set photographed by Caitlin Morey, modeled by Amelia

My incredible dog!

Monday, April 8, 2013

We had a really fun weekend.  When I wasn't working, I was just having a blast.  We went to my parents house for dinner on Saturday, along a bunch of family.  I am so lucky to have cousins that are around the same age as me.  They are like sisters to me.  We played pool and drank beer until 10 (well, I drank water, I don't drink), which is late for us old folk.

Yesterday was the first Pug Club meeting of the year, and it was also the birthday bash for a litter  that one of the pugs had.  It was held at a local obedience / agility training school.  

Slow and Steady!

Oliver is a funny guy. He is pretty used to other dogs, but he just freezes up at these pug club meetings.  He was literally trying to crawl into Dan's jacket (while Dan was wearing it) to hide from the other dogs.  I don't know what it is, but Oliver is really afraid of other pugs. Anyway, I felt bad because he was obviously having  a terrible time, trying to hide in my hair and Dan's coat, so I decided I'd try to distract him with treats and tricks.

Piece of Cake!

At first I got him to jump over one of the jumps.  That was too easy, so we decided we would try to get him to do the balance beam.  That was a little trickier, and a little scarier, but after he made it the first time he was just the happiest little dog in the world! He looked so proud. 

After we mastered the beam, we tried the tubes.  Those were a little trickier, but he soon caught onto that, and after about half an hour of training he looked like an old master! We even got  him to go up and down a ramp that was taller than me! He was just awesome.  And, although Dan says he's not a dog guy, he's a natural dog whisperer.

In the beginning I was a little embarrassed because Oliver was acting like he had never seen another dog before.  I felt like that parent whose kid sits by himself in the corner eating glue while the others all play with their action figures.  But, in the end I was just beaming! I am so proud of my dog.  So, he's a little socially stunted, but damn he is smart! 

So, You want to start a business...? Practice your creative writing skills.

Friday, April 5, 2013

When you are selling something online, your customer can't pick up and touch the garment.  You need to be able to accurately describe the garments in a way that is inciting.

When I first started selling on Etsy, I browsed around to see what other sellers were saying about their products, and I made a bullet list of things that seemed important to include:
  • What kind of fabric is it made of? What is the print and colour?
  • What trims are used?
  • What kind of fit does it have? High waist, low cut, boy leg, etc...?
  • What ways can it be worn? Sleepwear, lingerie, in the pool...?
  • What kind of special features does it have? Organic lining, hand stitching?
  • How is the product mailed and how long will it take? Is it ready made or made to order?
  • What size is it, or what sizes can it be made in?
Once you have the basics that you need to cover, put it into your own words. This should be obvious, but do not copy and paste another sellers writing to use for your own.  I hear about this happening and have actually had this happen to me recently. It is really hurtful to have your hard work appropriated like that.  Even if you feel your writing isn't your strong point, the more you do it in your own words, the better you will become.

Something I am really horrible at is proofreading, but it's really very important.  Last month, I had Abbey go through my listings and proof read a bunch of my descriptions.  I was mortified to find that I had sentences with such horrible typo's in them that they hardly made any sense!  If you are a terrible proof reader like me, enlist a friend, boyfriend, husband, wife, grandma, brother, sister, neighbour, just someone, to read over your listings.

I've been pretty happy with my product descriptions, but I always want to make them better.  Lately, I've been trying to add suggestions about how the garments can be worn - like a really cute bra could be worn under a sheer chiffon top as a statement piece, or paired with shorts on the beach for sunbathing... There is always room for improvement.

Creating a product description template will make your life simpler and easier. A template style description will create consistency through all of your listings and ensure that you don't forget to add important information, like sizing, shipping methods, and processing times.  This way, each time you create a new listing, all you have to do is edit your product description section.  I have created a basic template for my listings that has a the Description first, the Sizing information, Processing time, Shipping time, and then a note about custom orders and combined shipping.  Although most of this information is already in your shop policies, I know as a buyer, I'm not always likely to click on the shop policies page.  I like to have all of the information in front of me.

Describing your items can be challenging.  I mean, really, once you've described a pair of panties the 100th time, it starts to feel pretty redundant.  Challenge your self and try to think of new ways to phrase things, and have a friend proof read to make sure your hard work is displayed sans typos!

Working is more fun when you do it with a friend...

Thursday, April 4, 2013

I'm an introvert, through and through.  I'm not the kind of girl who has ever had a whole lot of friends, but I've been very lucky to have just a few close ones throughout my life... and Abbey is one of the closest. I met Abbey several years ago, can't remember the year exactly, but it was shortly after college and she and I ended up working together in a textile design studio.  We worked together for a few months before we really  even started talking. One day we wound up on the same bus headed to work, so I sat beside her and tried to small talk.  I had been absent the day before, so she asked where I had been.  I was embarrassed to report that we had an unfortunate and emotionally exhausting "porch fire" at the house I had been renting, as a result of an errantly thrown and non-extinguisher joint (not mine!) that landed in a planter full of peat moss during a birthday party, only to smoulder throughout the day and burst into flames late Sunday night... I took the Monday off due to emotional exhaustion (and probably a lagging hangover). Oh, early 20's I miss you! Anyway... something about the joint-sparked birthday porch fire story just clicked, we cracked up laughing and have been friends ever since.  (My landlord didn't find it as funny...)

Me and my Abbey!
Anyway! Abbey came up on Tuesday morning and just left this afternoon.  We got so much done, though I have to admit I feel like Abbey was more productive than I was, I've been feeling very scattered this week...

 Most of Tuesday, Abbey went through my horrendous box of receipts from the last year and organized them into folders and entered them into a super-awesome expense tracking spreadsheet that will now allow me to have my income tax done.  She organized and labelled pattern pieces, she organized my completed orders  & shipping receipts into binders. We packed up orders, prepared some new label, and worked on an inventory catalog with hotlinks for easier ordering of supplies.

Last night we rolled all of my elastic onto cardboard spools while watching episodes of Destination Truth on Netflix. Dan even pitched in and rolled 50 meters of candy-pink elastic for us!  In the process I found things I didn't even know I had... like a ton of snow white fold over elastic.  That's something I can never have enough of.

 I am really liking having my sewing room set up in the spare bedroom.  It has made a big difference in my frame of mind.  It's nice to feel like I "go to work" and "leave" at the end of the day... even though it's just upstairs.  Abbey labelled my binders for me, everything is starting to look so professional, and I'm starting to feel like I'm really running a business.

A rare photo of Ohhh Lulu herself!

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