Friday, May 27, 2011

Oh boy! Shirts!

I know how it is when you're a mom of a boy and it seems like all the cutest kids clothes are made for girls. When Sage was little it seemed our only options were sports, trucks, and dinosaurs, so when I started kokoleo some of my first items were boy clothes with funkier things like monsters, skulls, and stars. Then I started making sundresses and girlier things and they became my best sellers so pretty soon the boy section on my kokoleo rack dwindled. At the last couple craft shows I've done I've seen that look of disappointment and frustration in the eyes of moms of boys when they look around and say, "All the cutest stuff is for girls! No one ever has boy stuff!" I remember feeling like that and I realized I need to bring back the boy clothes to kokoleo, so I started by uploading these to my Etsy shop:


Skully and Starry Armsies, genuine mechanic patches, and a Department of Corrections embellished shirt (which may or may not be legal to wear, I don't know). Plus I made a few other Sesame Street embellished toddler tops and appliqued tree shirts that could cute on either gender. Heck, skulls and stars and patches and monsters are cute on girls too. McKenna loves wearing her brother's hand-me-downs.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

From one patch to another

I have something I want to admit. I've been seeing another blog. Please don't be upset with me. A patchwork world will always be my #1 spot to blabber my thoughts. It's just, the opportunity arose to be a part of a new local journalism endeavor and I jumped at it. I'm blogging for the Renton Patch. It's part of the Patch Network of hyper-local on-line journalism run by Arianna Huffington. So you could say I'm kinda sorta writing for the Huffington Post. (Ha, I wish). My posts don't deal with late-breaking hard-hitting news though, just notions of local interest that pop into my head. I've only written a few posts so far and already I've been recognized twice around town. I'm famous! Okay, not really, but it has helped me feel like less of a newbie and more connected to my new found town.

Sometimes, if I think my Patch posts would be of interest to my patchwork world readers, I'll repost them here. Here's my latest, entitled "Musings on happy delusions..."


When I first moved to Renton I was excited to see a downtown that wasn't dying. This is happening to so many smaller cities and towns these days – the businesses migrate to the suburban strip malls and once-active main streets and city centers become ghost towns. When I saw the Piazza, the Farmer's Market, several restaurants, antique and jewelry shops, clothing stores, galleries, and options for coffee on 3rd Street, I was relieved. But finding happy delusions is what really got me excited. I told my husband, “That means artists live here!” Any town can have a Wal-Mart or a Hallmark store, but a shop that showcases one-of-a-kind handcrafted items by local folk is a sign that a town values its artists.

I have to admit, I'm biased. As someone who makes a modest living off making one-of a kind kids clothes and home d├ęcor, I was excited to possibly have a venue for my items (Google “kokoleo” and you will find them). When you're an independent artist or craftsperson it's not like you can simply walk into any Wal-Mart or Hallmark store and show them your work in hopes that they might like to sell it. The idea of doing so is laughable; that's just not how things are done these days. Besides, handmade one-of-a-kinds would look out of place next to their mass produced factory-made (in China, most likely) items anyway. This is why independently owned businesses are so vital a town's unique identity and sense of community. Sure, the prices aren't comparable to what you would find at the Dollar Store, but thankfully, neither is the quality.

The first time I visited happy delusions, I knew I wanted to one day see kokoleo in the shop. When I spoke to the owner Mary Clymer, I casually mentioned that I made things and gave her my card. She looked at it and immediately said, “Kokoleo? I know kokoleo!” It turns out she had seen my booth at one of the first indie craft shows I did in Los Angeles years ago. At the time she was living in the city as well and working at Handmade Galleries in Sherman Oaks, a shop which later served as the model for happy delusions. Small world, indeed. I took this is a sign that Renton was going to be a good place for me. In fact, my first purchase was a screen printed I Heart Renton t-shirt.

Fast forward six months and I hear my neighbor say, “I saw kokoleo in the window at happy delusions!” This made my heart swell for so many reasons. First, because my stuff is in the window in the coolest store on the most popular street in downtown Renton, and second, because after years of living in a neighborhood where people kept to themselves and didn't so much as wave hello, I now have friends, not just causal neighbor acquaintances, but real friends who know a kokoleo when they see it and are happy to point it out to their friends and family. How often when you're shopping do you come across something and think, “I know who made that!” At happy delusions, you just might.


Monday, May 16, 2011

EtsyRain Spring Show + Space Needles

It's been over a week since the EtsyRain Spring Handmade Show at the Intiman Theater but I couldn't let the event pass without posting a little recap. I was busy in my booth for most of it, but I did manage to snap a few pics. Here's the entrance:

and my booth, outside in the corner:


Here I am in my booth with a furry frogmonster peeking out from behind me:


It was great to finally do a well-known Seattle show and get to know some of the local indie crafters. I doubled the money I spent to participate and sent some kokoleos out into the city. I did some great trades - a kokoleo kid dress for a Public Market screen printed tee by tomato-tomato and a plush bunny for a squirrel pillow from Alise's Pieces, plus I bought some delicious gourmet lollipops from This Charming Candy (but don't tell my kids because I ate them all.) Also, the owners of a couple shops in Seattle gave me their cards, so that's encouraging. Still, I felt kind of like the new girl in school, not really knowing the cool crowd and missing my craft friends from L.A. I just need to get out and do more shows and attend more EtsyRain events.

The forecast called for rain but thankfully it turned out to be a beautiful day, if only a tad chilly. I had a view of the courtyard fountain:


and looking out from the entrance I could see the Space Needle:


Speaking of Space Needles, I designed a new Space Needle applique and have been having fun attaching it to things. In addition to the sundress I showed a few posts earlier, I also made some totes:





and pillows:

(I sold this one at the show)

(This one sold at Happy Delusions, but I made another just like it.)



and whatever you would call this:


A skinny pillow? A plush? Whatever it is I probably won't be making any more. It was pretty darn difficult. More pillows and totes and sundresses are in the works though since people seemed to really like them at the show. What can I say? I've got a thing for needles.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

(terrible)Tutorial Tuesday: Tin Can Mushroom Pincushion

This is what I made my mom for Mother's Day.

Oops, I just ruined the surprise. Oh well. I think she'll like it even more knowing it once starred on my blog in cyberspace. I meant to write a nice tutorial to share with you, but it was one of those projects that didn't turn out quite the way I thought it would.

For example, when you sew together shapes like these:


They make a shape like this:


Which is not mushroomy at all. I considered turning it into a strawberry or maybe a gnome's hat, but instead, I reworked it into a dome shape. (This is where the tutorial started to fall apart and my photographing became sporadic.)

Next, I went upstairs and got a pickle jar top out of the recycling bin and emptied out a tomato paste can, washed and dried it, and filled it with dried pinto beans (for weight). I then sewed a muslin tube with a flat circle bottom and inserted the can.


Later, Erik questioned why there was a Tupperware container with tomato paste in it in the refrigerator, to which I sheepishly admitted, "Because I needed the can for a craft project."

Next, I stuffed the mushroom top:


then inserted the pickle jar top and stitched it shut.

Then I placed the mushroom cap on top of the tall ribbed can and it looked like a penis so I gave up on it for a while. (Though now that I think of it, there may be a market for penis-shaped pincushions, but not for Mother's Day.) Today, I decided to try to make it less phallic and more whimsical. I ironed some HeatnBond to green fabric, cut it out in the shape of grass,

and ironed it on the the can. It worked, but I wouldn't recommend doing it this way. I warned you this tutorial would be convoluted.

Next, I squirted hot glue on the stalk and attached the cap:

but it wasn't really secure and I didn't want to use more hot glue so I sewed it together around the edge. Stitches are better than hot glue anyway.

Then I pulled a wooden ladybug off an Ikea clothespin and glued it on to the side.


And finally got it kind of how I envisioned it.

I entered this mushroom in a pin cushion blog hop on the Arrow Sewing Cabinets' blog. You may have hopped over here from the Posh Girl Friday blog... next stop on the blog hop is Dustpan Diary. Check out all the cool pin cushions people are making!

Monday, May 02, 2011

Made by Monday - a slew of sundresses

My sundress stock has dwindled recently (yay sales!) so I thought it was time to stitch up a new slew of them. Here's what I made this week:


Awww, Bambi. I'm getting near the end of this sheet and I'm going to miss it when it's all gone.

But guess who's back! Raggedy Anne!


I made a series of these a few years ago but ran out of the material. I'm saving as much as I can by having contrasting backs.


They're so vibrant and bold. I love it.


Speaking of sheets I love, here's one:


I had these sheets (well, not these in particular, but ones exactly like them) when I was little. They sure do make for a beautiful spring sundress.

I'm working on a series of Space Needle stuff (I'll save them for another post) and came up with this:


Before I got hung up on bedsheet sundresses I used to do lots of applique. I think I need to get back into it.

And finally, something a little different... SpongeBob!


It's rare that I work with a material that's not vintage, but McKenna convinced me that it would be all the rage with her crowd. It was originally a pillowcase and the other side had Patrick Star on it, so there's a Patrick dress in the works too. I added some vintage buttons and trim to make it a true kokoleo. It turned out nearly as obnoxious as his voice.

The Etsy Rain Spring Handmade Craft Show is in 5 days! Back to the sweatshop.

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