craft business

Professional Development Day = Reality Check

Today, I got to attend the state educational technology conference. I really enjoyed meeting up with some of the library colleagues whom I almost never get to see and compare notes on lessons, books and what’s working/not working in our libraries.  As much as the “research” shows fixed schedule media centers are definitely not best practice, more and more Cobb elementary specialists are being placed into the specials rotation. It was rather disheartening to learn today that one of my colleagues was placed in the rotation at her school this year.  When my colleague reached out to our district supervisor for help, she shared that she was informed that it was “her [my colleague’s] own fault that she got put in the rotation.”  Ouch!  (I’m sure there’s a lot more to the story on both sides.)  That said, I feel her pain. It’s the same supervisor who responded to my sewing/maker club by commenting “how quaint.”  Now, you see sewing machines as a regular part of STEAM activities and maker spaces. 

At the end of the day, I realized that while my situation isn’t ideal, I certainly don’t have it as bad as some other folks.  Think I will focus on being a little more grateful for the current job instead of bitching about it all the time.

Grateful for:
1. A job that pays decently well.
2. A job I enjoy most days.
3. A certain level of autonomy with what and how I teach.
4. The opportunity to be creative during the day (maker space).
5. Colleagues I really enjoy working with.
6. Admin that encourages professional development and skill building.
7. Opportunity to give back/make a difference (even if the munchkins don’t appreciate it.)

craft business

Outsmarting my Janome 8900 QCP

Gotta love computerized sewing machines.  Actually, I really do LOVE this machine. 🙂

I have the regular model 8900 – not the SE version.  It meant that some of the specialty needle plates would not work in my machine – like the 3 hole straight stitch plate. In an earlier post, I showed how hubs had drilled the right needle hole and I switched out the little doodad on the back with the one for the all purpose needle plate.  Wonders of wonders, the little plastic doodad underneath is what tells the computer what kind of needle plate you have.  I purchased a 100% authentic 3 hole straight stitch plate and the sewing machine wouldn’t recognize the needle plate. Gave me some error message about not being compatible.  Yeah, right.  Out came the screwdriver and I changed the little doodad on the back.  Bought a little HP Professional Foot online for $6.99.  Don’t understand why I need the HP Professional Plate with a left needle position when my 3 hole needle plate works just fine. I image it will work fine with the 2 hole straight stitch plate that came with your machine, too!

What really interests me, though, is the HP2 walking 1/4″ foot. The regular single Accuflex foot is a pain for piecing because you can’t start right at the fabric edge due to the “grabbing mechanism” behind the foot.  I wonder if the HP2 foot has that same set up, or if the foot was redesigned to incorporate the grabbing mechanism is such a way that you could use it from the edge without having to “help” the fabric move forward until the “grabber” can pull the fabric.  If so, I have a feeling it will work on the 8900 with my modified 3 hole straight stitch foot – just fine!

Anyone have this foot and can post side by side pics with the Accuflex single VD foot for comparison?

 

craft business

You charge how much for that?

Otherwise known as why I stopped making quilts for hire (except for special people).

I run a business – even if it’s on a part-time basis and not my primary source of income – it’s still a business. My goal is to make a profit.

As much as I enjoy turning treasured t-shirts into keepsakes for folks, I can’t do that for $75.00 ($300-$400 maybe but not $75) – but there are companies out there that can.  Will the workmanship be the same? Oh, hell no. However, the individual will be getting something that he/she feels will meet their need at a price they are willing to pay.   That’s what matters.

Switching my business model to primarily teaching and tech-editing has been very good for me. It’s something that I can easily do in tandem with the day job. If I’ve been on my feet all day teaching library classes, I can still edit a pattern on my computer that evening with my feet propped up.  It’s also fun to work with designers and help them bring new designs to market. I’ve learned new skills, as well. I’ve actually published one pattern of my own and have another in the works. Besides, I earn more teaching and tech editing than I do making t-shirt quilts.  It took me a long time to accept this.

Goals for 2019 include increasing the number of tech editing clients to a certain level. If you are in need of tech-editing services, or know someone who is – please drop me a line. I am currently accepting projects for January 2019.

 

 

craft business

Asking for what you REALLY want

Why are we, as adults, so afraid to ask for what we want?  My 2nd – 5th grade students have absolutely NO problem in this area.  They are absolutely fearless in asking for anything and it doesn’t phase most of them in the least if I say, “No.”  They just carry on.

I need to be more like my kids.

The school district’s HR department will soon be sending out forms asking what we intend to do employment-wise for the 2019-20 school year.  I will checking the TRANSFER box. If I weren’t so close to meeting my years of service goal for retirement purposes, I’d be checking the RESIGNATION box.  (Sad to say, many teachers I know feel the same way.) So, at the last librarian meet-up, I put my name out there as a candidate for any anticipated middle school vacancies.  Hormones I can handle. I also find that I actually prefer teaching 5th-8th grade students in my sewing classes. They are much more independent and have the stamina to stick with the project at hand.

I will be asking for a change in work assignment for the upcoming school year.  I’ve finally realized that things are not going to change at my current school. My supervisors choose not to utilize my talents, respond to requests in a timely fashion or appreciate my efforts. It’s like I’m invisible. I’m damned good at what I do as a librarian, library teacher, media specialist, learning commons coordinator – whatever you want to call it. I still enjoy matching my readers with great books and teaching them how to research the $%^& out of a topic. Until this changes, my sewing business will always be a side hustle. Nothing wrong with that.

craft business

A last minute class…

Imagine my surprise when I looked at my phone to see a text from the quilt shop asking about October Kid’s Club. There wasn’t supposed to be a Kid’s Club at the quilt shop in October because both classrooms were needed for a major event scheduled for that same weekend.  Seems the event was rescheduled and they had a free Saturday.  Could I think of a project AND get the sample to them in a couple of days?

Well, yes. The class was sew much fun!

kitty pillow class

craft business

Crafty STEM, Part Deux

Since we have to share the library space with another club, I decided to limit fall semester club projects to weekly make & takes. Near the end of the session, we’ll pull out the sewing machines for a very basic project that can be completed in a single session.  Our spring rotation will be strictly sewing with the goal to have each student create a 16-1/2″ block for the East Cobb Quilt Guild Show.

My mission is two-fold:  (1) to divest myself of my rather oversized craft supply inventory at school and (2) make things easier for my club co-sponsor and me.  I plan to move on to other things next year, so several machines will also be “re-homed” at the end of May.

What kinds of projects to we make in clubs?

Pom-poms, Perler beads, Slime 3 ways, papercrafts (bookmarks/origami), photography (digital & instant), Felt stuffies and mail art postcards (machine project).

My total investment for this round of clubs was less than $50, including snacks.

These types of projects lend themselves very well into a library makerspace or crafternoon type of activity for elementary and middle school students.  Normally, I have all girls in my club. This time, it’s about half girls and half boys.  The girls want to make kitty ear headbands. The boys didn’t look too pleased with that idea. Hopefully, the duct tape wallet kit I found will be an acceptable substitute.

craft business

Stress and creativity

Class samples to make…

Quilts to complete….

Personal sewing projects still not finished…

Guilt for being so far behind, but not one bit of inspiration to step into the studio.

Does this sound familiar?

It’s called stress. Mine is directly attributable to the day job. Today, I got to be 3 people – librarian, teacher and parapro because they pulled my parapro to act as the receptionist. (Never mind there are four ladies in the front office.)  As an introvert, I need 10-15 minutes of quiet time after the morning class block to chill and put my game face back on for the next round of classes.  I literally did not get that until I walked out the door at 3:45 p.m.

I’m all for pitching in and helping out in an emergency. But it is getting to the point of ridiculous. The fantasy flex library schedule has collided way too many times with fixed library schedule reality since school began. The admin team is also under the assumption that we still have 3 people working in the Media Center. News Flash! There are only two of us because we lost the allotment for our part-time person. Remember?

You make a big deal to tell me I matter, then treat me like I don’t. 

So, before I say or do something I might regret (like writing a check for $1,000 to get out of my employment contract), I have elected to utilize one of my sick days tomorrow for some extreme self-care.

Oh, and one more thing. That little girl who came in with shadows under her eyes and was sent to the library because she was late for testing? She was starving. The cafeteria couldn’t get her breakfast because they were busy getting lunches for 200+ kids going on a field trip. I took the time to fix her peanut butter toast in the midst of all the craziness because I could hear her tummy rumbling.  I know I matter to my students, but do I really matter to administration?

Tomorrow is a SEW day.