Monday, November 23, 2009

Craft show tips

During November, I've been a vendor at 3 different craft shows, all of them very different. Although there are more shows in December, I have other commitments and felt that it would have been impossible to do any more. But, to help out other Toronto crafters, I contributed a post on craft show tips on the Toronto Etsy Street Team blog. Good luck to my fellow crafters for the remainder of the 2009 Christmas craft show season!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Craft show this Saturday

My last craft show of the season is the Movies & Makers Art & Craft Show, this Saturday, 10-4 at the Fox Theatre in Toronto. The show is full of talented Toronto crafters. I love the Fox Theatre and am excited to see how the venu will be used for a craft show. Come drop by if you're in the neighbourhood!

Friday, November 13, 2009

My new favourite fabric store

Someone recently told me about the Toronto fabric e-tailer Tonic Living; after placing and quickly receiving my first order, they are now my favourite source for fabric. All of their prints are fantastic, and reasonably priced. They offer swatches, which are the perfect size for the little pouches and purses I make. Take a look - I've already used most of this fabric!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Next craft show

Thanks to all of you who came to see me at the CBC Charity Craft Sale, it was a great day! My next show is this Saturday, 10-4 in Newmarket at the Newmarket Community Centre. The craft show is part of a winter theatre festival and there will be lots of entertainment for the kids.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

CBC craft sale tomorrow!

The CBC Charity Craft Sale is tomorrow! I'm very excited - lots of new items to debut.

Today after work I am dropping off another wholesale order at The Rage - my coin purses are selling very well there. I am hoping to get a bunch made ready for the Christmas shopping season, which is right around the corner, it seems!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

First fall craft show

My first craft show of the fall season is the CBC Charity Craft Sale, on Thursday, November 5, 9-5. Proceeds from the table rentals go to the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation. Details here. I'll be debuting lots of new items!

Friday, October 9, 2009

New bag for me

I needed a new bag, and rather than buying one I thought this would be a good opportunity to try making one myself; in particular I wanted to learn how to make an inside zippered pocket and insert a magnetic snap closure. Along the way I made a few execution errors (probably because I wasn't following a pattern), which made the dimensions a bit smaller than I had originally planned, but overall I'm very happy with it and am already using it. I had wanted an adjustable strap but didn't have enough of the navy fabric - I'll know better for next time. The outside is a navy lightweight canvas, and the inside is a Japanese mushroom and hedgehog print.

Monday, October 5, 2009

New Christmas cards

Here's another new item I've been working on, a result of trying out typing onto fabric:

I personally don't like traditional Christmas cards, so I think these will be a good option for people who want something a bit different, or who don't celebrate Christmas but want to send out a holiday card. These too will make their debut at the CBC craft sale Nov. 5.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

New item

For the last couple of weeks I have been busy sewing, trying to build up my inventory for the fall craft shows. In line with my theme of trying new things, I made these business card/credit card holders; I'm very pleased with how they turned out. They will make their debut at the CBC craft sale Nov. 5.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

New stuff

In preparation of the fall craft shows, I'm trying to branch out and make new things, rather than repeating the same item. I've decided to focus on small pouches and accessories - as much as I love them, purses and totes don't seem to be my thing (bag construction is something beyond my skills). This week I made a few flex frame pouches:

I had two different set of instructions to go by, but in the end came up with my own pattern. I'm happy with how these two turned out. More to come! They will have their debut at the CBC craft sale November 5.

I also decided to make a table banner for my new Etsy store, Zippster, since I will be selling a combination of items from my two stores. To reflect what I actually do - sewing - I made a sewn banner with fabric remnants, many of them hand dyed or painted by me:

Etsy sales have been slow over the summer but have just started picking up again. Lots to keep me busy!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Typewriting on fabric

Typewriting on fabric is something I've always wanted to try, and my crafty task this week was to see if it works: it does! I'm going to experiment with different fabrics but it seems to take better on more lightweight fabrics. I hope to make use of this technique to make tags, or to make patches to sew onto my pouches.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Etsy Anniversary

September marks my two-year anniversary on Etsy! Has the store been a huge success? No, but I am very grateful for the sales I have made; it is such a wonderful feeling when I get a sale notification. Sales overall on Etsy have been slow during the summer, so I'm hoping things will pick up over the next few months. I'm doing everything I can to promote my shop but people just haven't been spending.

To celebrate, I am offering free shipping on orders over $10. I'm hoping to clear out some stock to make room for new items.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Sewing project: summer top

This top was made with a wrap I bought at a props and wardrobe sale. I liked how the ends were already finished (less work for me!). I used pattern pieces to make the neckline but but then winged it for the front and back. Nice and breezy!

Friday, July 31, 2009

Buy my stuff at The Rage!

I am super excited to announce that some of my sewn wares are now available for sale at The Rage in Toronto's Kensington Market. The store features local designers and artists. Here's a selection of the new zippered pouches and coin purses I made for the store:

The store will also be carrying some of my greeting cards and pinback buttons. This is my first experience selling wholesale to a retail outlet, so this is a big deal to me. Thanks to Sarah for providing me with this amazing opportunity!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Sewing project: summer top

Finished! I've always wanted to make something from one of those Japanese craft books (which are all in Japanese). I've found a few web sites which provide translations of some of the sewing terms, but from what I've heard, if you have some basic sewing skills you can pretty much just follow the diagrams. I finally invested in a roll of tissue paper for pattern drafting (the books come with the patterns but they all overlap, so you need to draft the individual pieces). This top was very easy to make, except that I found the neckline too big, so I had to gather it a bit.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Sewing project: MP3 player holder

Slight detour from my list of things to make. I don't know why I didn't make this sooner, as I certainly need it. The material was hand-decorated in a fabric design class I took last year. Using a bleach pen, I drew the design directly onto the fabric and let the bleach do its work (you then rinse in cold water with PH neutralizer, which stops the bleach). Then I used a fabric pen to fill in the design. Quite easy and fun to do! For the holder, I basically just took 1 piece of fabric and made a little pouch. Closes with velcro.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Second Etsy store

For a while now I've been considering opening a second Etsy store to separate my Blythe and non-Blythe items. This second store, Zippster, will contain sewn goods such as zippered pouches and snap-frame coin purses, pinback buttons and magnets, and greeting cards. Karen's Creations will now focus exclusively on clothes and accessories for Blythe. Over the next several weeks I'll be adding lots of new stock to the new store. I'm really happy with my banner, which has made me realize that I need to improve the banner for Karen's Creations. Another online store (I'm now at three - ack!) means I now really need to stay organized!

Monday, June 29, 2009


I'm very excited to announce that I have been accepted as a member in the Etsy team Blythe Handmade Collective - a group of handmade artisans, crafters, and artists inspired by Blythe and have taken the pledge to buy and sell handmade. The group's mission is to spread the love for Blythe, support fellow Blythe shops, help guide shops to success within Etsy, and to award Better Blythe Business awards to shops that show exceptional Etsian business philosophy and actions. Go Blythe!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Etsy treasury

It's such a nice feeling when a fellow Etsian includes an item of mine in their treasury. One of my Blythe greeting cards was chosen for this one:

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Another completed sewing project

The first project on my sewing list is now complete: a pipe pouch for my beau. In total I think this took me under an hour:

There's a pouch for the pipe, and a pouch for the tobacco. It folds up and can be tied closed. The silkscreen print was made in the printmaking class I took - I finally made something with the fabric I silkscreened!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Finished dress

Ta da! Here is a pic of the finished dress I made to wear to a wedding reception. Accented with a piece of vintage costume jewellery. I was going for a 50s style with the collar ... not sure if I pulled it off, but the dress was super comfy and I know I'll wear it again.

My next sewing projects include:
1. pipe pouch for my beau - DONE!
2. gardening apron for moi - DONE!
3. new tote bag for moi
4. summer tunic for moi - DONE!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Craft show = failure?

Ok, so it wasn't a complete failure, but it was disappointingly unsuccessful. The show was at a large community centre and featured over 50 vendors, so I assumed it would be well attended. It wasn't. I did not make enough to cover my table fee, which fortunately was very reasonable. However, I received lots of nice compliments on my work, and met some great sellers. I'm taking a break over the summer, but will apply for the pre-Christmas shows.

Over the next couple of weeks, I will be adding listings for my new pin-back buttons and magnets - I'm going to focus on sets because it's not worth selling them one at a time. My plan for the summer is to create some sort of business plan and marketing strategy with my partner for bulk and custom orders for the pins and magnets. And I do need to make more Blythe clothes - my inventory is getting low.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Silkscreening results

Sadly, my printmaking class is over. It was great fun, and a good introduction to several printmaking techniques. In particular, I really enjoyed silkscreening, and will probably take an advanced class in the future. Here are some highlights of what I made (the coffee cup prints are linoblock):

I was able to produce quite a few prints on paper and fabric; some of the paper prints I've made into cards and will have them available at the craft sale this Sunday. The fabric pieces I plan on using to make bags or pouches of some sort(when I find the time!).

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Craft show = success!

Saturday's craft show was a great success! It was busy non-stop all day. I debuted my new pins and magnents, and some new cards. My robot magnets and pins were such a I hit that I sold out.

I have another show in two weeks, so I need to get busy making more pins.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Snap-Frame coin purses

Oh how I love these little purses! But, they can be a challenge to make. Here's the tutorial I use. (This site is great for other bag and purse tutorials, take a look). I buy the frames from Sussman's Bridal Supplies on Queen Street West in Toronto (a deceiving shop name, as they carry many different sewing supplies). The trickiest part of making these purses is knowing which glue to use; I use a gel-based heavy duty multi-purpose glue, suitable for metal and fabric. I recommend sanding the inside track to help the glue adhere better. If you pinch the frame, remember to use rubber-coated pliers so you don't leave marks. Here's one of mine:

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Current sewing project - update

I'm almost finished my dress:

Just need to make a few minor adjustments, and it will be ready to wear! I found the pattern on Burda Style (it's the Mushroom Dress pattern), but made some changes. For example, I put darts at the bust and didn't put elastic around the neck.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

lithography prints

Here are some of my lithography prints produced in my night class. The one on the left is from the first edition, the one on the right from the second edition (I used dry point to make some adjustments to the plate). Overall, although I really like the effect, I'm not happy with my image. I drew it freehand, not knowing that you could transfer an image with a grease pencil (the instructor told us this after I had already done mine. D'oh!). This method is more complicated and time consuming, and chemicals are involved, so I'm not sure I would do it on my own, but it was fun to test it out, and to use a printing press!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Current sewing project

One of my most favourite stores in Toronto is The Workroom, a sewing studio and store on Queen West, near Dufferin. Every time I go in there, I end up buying stacks of fat quarters, which are a good size for making Blythe clothes. Last year I purchased a serger, with the intention of making my own clothes. Well, the time has come: at my last visit to The Workroom, I purchased this lovely fabric:

It's called Moondance, by Jenean Morrison (take a look at her design work - oh!) for Free Spirit Fabric. I'm making a dress with the fabric, which has already been cut and basted so I can adjust the fit. I'm hoping to finish it by the end of next week.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The art of self-promotion

Admittedly, I'm a rather private person and do not enjoy talking about myself, nor do I feel the need to share the minutia of my life with others, whether in person or virtually. (Who are these people who have such interesting lives? Not I!) I would rather express myself through creative means, which, when lacking confidence (not to mention time, self-esteem, momentum, support, the skills or tools to do so), can be challenging.

My little sewing hobby is starting to become more than just a hobby, and I take great pleasure in knowing that people actually like what I make. My daydreams consist of being able to sustain myself financially with a part-time librarian job, and dedicating the remaining hours of the day to creating wonderful things in my (currently non-existing) little studio. In my fantasy world, what I sell in my online shops or at craft sales would supplement my part-time income. But to get to that point would take a lot of work. To achieve such a dream, one must be prepared and able to take care of the business aspects, which can be daunting and overwhelming. There are so many tools available, many of them free, but how do you know which ones are worthwhile?

As a way to promote my two online shops, I currently have this blog, a Flickr account to showcase my creations (one must be careful with Flickr though, in not linking to commercial sites), and Facebook fan page. I have a print business card to hand out in person and at craft shows. I also participate in online forums and groups, and am a member of several guilds or teams. All of this takes time and effort, but is necessary. Google Analytics helps in deciding where I should be investing my time and effort, but I know I need to do more. (Although, one bandwagon I have yet to jump on is Twitter, and I don't plan on using it). I know I need to 'sell' myself to other bloggers and to make better use of my own blog; what I need to do is devise a marketing plan. And time to implement it!

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Lino block prints

For the last month I've been taking an introductory printmaking course, where we learn an overview of several printing techniques. The first technique we learned was relief, using lino block.

This method is rather easy to grasp and I really enjoy the process. I'll be debuting some of these cards at my next craft show (which is quickly approaching!). Stay tuned to see my lithography prints.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


I bought a button machine! The machine is a Tecre 100, for making 1" buttons, magnets, keychains... the possibilities are endless! These are some magnets I made - I really like the robots.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Another craft show

Karen's Creations will be a vendor at the Creators' Marketplace Show & Sale, Sunday May 31, at the Thornhill Community Centre.

Details and map here.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Spring Craft Show

I am pleased to announce that I will be a vendor at the Spring Handmade Market, Saturday May 16, at the Gladstone Hotel Ballroom, 1214 Queen Street West (at Dufferin). This show features Etsy sellers from the Toronto area. It's my first show of 2009, and my first in the downtown area - I'm very excited!

For a list of vendors, visit the event's website.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

New online selling venue

So I've decided to try out Artfire, another online selling venue for handmade items that is gaining in popularity. The terms and set-up is different from Etsy. I'm using the same shop name, Karen's Creations. I've just spent the last 3 hours setting up my shop, so let's hope I get some sales!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Can't say I'm really a 'fun in the sun' type of person, but I do enjoy sitting out on a deck or patio when the weather is nice. I found these plastic chair frames at a supply store, and they are the perfect size for a chair for Blythe dolls. Let the BBQs start!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

So I decided to make some slight modifications to my three Blythe dolls. On all three, I changed their eyelashes, and on two of them I replaced some of their eye chips. Previously I had opened their heads to remove their faceplates, but figuring out how to remove the eye mechanisms and change the eye chips was not easy!

I soaked the eyeballs in warm soapy water for about 10 minutes to loosen the glue, then used the hot glue stick method to remove the chip. They came out with no problem. To remove the eyelashes, I also soaked the eyelid mechanism in warm water, and pulled them out with tweezers. To stick the new ones in I used a sewing needle to poke them into the eyelash slot. Very tedious work!

With this particular brand of eye chip, I didn't realize that I had to paint the stub of the chip in order to get a black iris.

My third doll still needs to be sand-matted, so I'll add pics of her when she's done. Here is Penny and Margot with their new eyelashes and eye chips (clothes made by me):

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

New saris

I absolutely love saris and Indian silk. The saris I make for Blythe are my best-selling item in my Etsy shop, and it was time to make new ones:

The red material I've used before, but the blue and purple combination is new. I kept it simple and only added the silver trim along both ends of the wrap, and along the bottom of the cropped top. Silk is a bit tricky to work with as it tends to tear, which I'm trying to learn how to avoid. The silk is actually sari remnants I find in sari shops in Toronto's little India neighbourhood.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Since Christmas I've been in a bit of a slump and haven't done anything crafty. But I'm starting to get restless and it's time to start making stuff again. I have lots of ideas and supplies, now I just need to do something with them. My list of things to do includes learning basic bookbinding and making a garment for myself.

Oddly, despite all the grumblings of slow sales from other Etsy sellers, mine have increased. My inventory is well stocked, so I would like to focus on making unique items that aren't available in other shops for Blythe. My saris sell very well and that's one thing I need to make more of. I'm actually thinking of opening a second shop for non-Blythe items, for which I already have purses and pouches. Last year I took a class in fabric design and was able to produce what I think are really interesting pieces, which I could use for new items.

Perhaps after viewing Handmade Nation, screening next week, I'll feel motivated and inspired.