craft business

It never hurts to ask…

Last fall, I mentioned that I needed to be more like my students and be absolutely fearless in asking for what I really want. 

Like many creative biz owners, I work a full-time job in addition to my creative business pursuits. That day job directly impacts the side hustle. (I’m a teacher at an inner city school.) The past school year was beyond challenging. Stress was definitely a contributing factor to the Bell’s Palsy I suffered in mid-May.  Thankfully, now two months later, I am almost completely healed.

I asked for what I really wanted (repeatedly). A lot of coworkers lobbied on my behalf and several others sent up prayers.

W-E-L-L the unthinkable actually happened! I get to be a full-time librarian (not function as a special areas teacher) for the upcoming school year!  THRILLED is putting it mildly.

The only downside is that my long-time parapro was reassigned to a new position (an excellent opportunity for her to grow) and I’ll be sharing a parapro with another department.  My new library helper is the same wonderful lady who helped with sewing club the past 4 years. She’s never worked in a library, but she hadn’t operated a sewing machine before clubs either!  She can definitely learn!

Happiness in the day job is bound to translate into more time available for the side hustle. I picked up lots of vintage Singer Featherweight and Elna accessories during my thrift shop/flea market jaunts over the summer. Items will be available as of 8/1.

Stay tuned.

craft business

Caught up in the moment

At the Featherweight Retreat, I got to see ALL kinds of Featherweight machines, accessories, gadgets, doo-dads, modifications – you name it. It was also a wonderful educational experience for me.  I learned what the avid collectors truly prize: the freearm Singer 222K, “Penguin” walking foot and Swiss-made Singer zig zag attachment.  The Penguin foot is considered the holy grail by many FW collectors due to rarity, but don’t discount the cuteness factor either.

Last week, I received a text message from one of the retreat attendees asking if I was interested in a Penguin walking foot. Of course I replied, “Yes!”.  The price was reasonable, considering what some had recently sold for.  Honestly, had she been set up to accept an electronic payment, I’d probably be holding said Penguin foot in my hot little hands right now.  I was definitely caught up in the moment. Being forced to press “pause” to figure out the payment logistics made me stop and listen to my inner voice that was shouting, “Not now.”

I love vintage machines and actually sew on mine. From a practical standpoint, a 222K would make more sense for me than a Penguin foot or zigzag attachment. The reality is that Penguin foot costs more than both of my Featherweights combined. I just couldn’t justify spending that kind of money on a presser foot – no matter how collectible it might be. Put a few more dollars with it and I could have a 222K – which would be very cool, and practical, for the way I sew.

That’s not to say that I haven’t bought some new accessories for my beloved Featherweights.  I safely tuck away original cases and any accessories that I don’t use on a regular basis. Thanks to a lucky score at an antique mall, both FWs now sport a complete set of original feet and accessories.  Juliette got a new roomier reproduction carry case while Crystal received a foot pedal adapter.  Rather than dispose of Juliette’s old reproduction case, I decided to try my hand at refinishing it.  It’s been stripped, sanded and is now in the process of being painted a vintage teal color. The case will be lined with fabric and new chrome hardware attached that looks very similar to the original green/white case.  Stripping off the old vinyl/fabric covering was a nasty process and something in the fabric, glue or wood caused a major itchy rash to break out on my arms. Fortunately, I’m on the mend and looking less “reactive” with each passing day.  I’ll post a picture of Crystal’s one-of-a-kind case when it’s finished.  Psst: Cost of case rehab materials/hardware was about $22….but when you factor in the time…it would probably been have more cost effective to buy two new cases! 🙂

craft business

Copyright and Teaching Sewing Classes

Simply stated:
Whether you teach using a single pattern, magazine article or from a book, each student should have his/her own legitimate copy.  It is generally NOT okay to buy one copy of a pattern, magazine or book and then make copies to distribute to your students.

But patterns and books cost so much!!! Believe me, cost is a HUGE factor in deciding which projects to do with my kids.

As a librarian at the day job, it’s my responsibility to explain copyright and fair use to my staff. I’m certainly not an intellectual property attorney; however, I do my best to model ethical copyright behavior in both the day job and when teaching sewing classes.  Here are some tips to help keep things copyright compliant while keeping costs down:

  1. If you absolutely love the pattern, teach from it and have your students buy the pattern for that class!  See if you can get the pattern at a discount.
  2. Fabric and craft companies (plus designers) post numerous free projects online.  Use those!  Work with the shop to kit the projects. If necessary, have students print out their own copies of the free pattern and bring to class.
  3. For books, students can often borrow from a library or find them much cheaper at a used bookstore/online vendor.
  4. Buy basic commercial patterns (pajama bottoms, skirt, aprons, etc.) that you’ll actually use in classes when they are on sale for $1-2 each at the big box retailer. I buy 4-5 copies of a single pattern at a time.  Each kid takes home the pattern they used in class and the cost is built into the class fee. This is a convenience for my students and helps keep things copyright compliant.
  5. Design your own patterns! Inspired by something you saw but can’t find a pattern that you can use?  Pinterest and YouTube are your friends.  I’ll bet you can come up with something!  Keep projects simple and let the kids add their own creative flourishes.  Pillowcases, tote bags, zippered pouches, drawstring bags, tablet covers, mug cozies and potholders can only be made so many ways.

When planning projects for classes, I survey my students to see what they’d like to make. If it’s a garment, see #4.  If not, I meet with the shop owner to see if there are any patterns currently in stock that they’d like me to use.  If not, I’ll go to option #2 & then #5. Honestly, I usually develop my own patterns and instruction sheets for the Kid’s Club projects.  Most project patterns are written for adults – not children.  Occasionally, the quilt shop calls because a customer wants to buy my project instruction sheets. I’ve since spiffed up the format and now sell them when asked.

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The Featherweight Shop/Lori Holt Retreat

This past week, I spent time in McCall, Idaho learning how to maintain my Featherweight and took a 3 day class on Farmgirl Vintage 2 led by Lori Holt.

I had a blast!  JK Quilts and the Featherweight Shop put on a first class experience for all who attended. The retreat swag was unbelievable! Fat quarter bundles, precut projects, FW tools and accessories, Lori Holt themed goodies, tumblers, bags, patterns, books…the box I shipped home weighed 20 pounds.

I literally unplugged for an entire week. This city girl only picked up her iPad to take pictures and record notes with her iPencil during Carmon Henry’s Featherweight Maintenance Workshop.  Now, I will see if I can figure out why Crystal (my white Featherweight) won’t pick up the bobbin thread.

Attendees also got to be among the first to learn about new products from the Featherweight Shop that will be coming to the marketplace soon.  We were able to try out one new product. My name is on the list to try when another new product comes available.

Not surprisingly, most attendees were from the West Coast. A handful of us came from the Midwest, Southeast and Northeast. Many couldn’t believe that I flew all that way when I have other options available locally.  (I tended to agree with that observation on Saturday when it took me 15 hours and 3 plane changes to get home because bad weather in ATL caused Southwest to cancel my flight from Denver.)  I missed Carmon Henry’s workshop when they came to Georgia 3-4 years ago.  Missouri Star has retreats with Carmon Henry scheduled for August 2019, but school’s already back in session.  (Good call on my part because I’ll be using my personal days to attend an Aurifil event and other quilty retreats during the school year!).

As I mentioned earlier, I had SEW much fun on this retreat.  I laughed, stitched and unplugged for an entire week.  I got to connect with people outside of work and school. We were all so very different, yet we managed to have sewing and a love of Featherweights that brought us all together.  I was very sad to leave Karen, Terry, Sharon and a host of others on Friday morning.  I hadn’t experienced that level of camaraderie since I went back to Tampa last summer. Now that all of my major professional development for the day job is behind me, I can concentrate on reconnecting with my quilty, crafty, bookish and outdoorsy peeps in the area.  Ticket has already been purchased for the Atlanta Quilt Study Group meeting in late September – it also falls during Fall Break!  No need to take time off from work!  Woo-hoo!

 

 

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When your body gives you a reality check

Last Sunday, I spent three hours in the emergency room due to a droop on the the left side of my face. I’d gone to the local urgent care, who took my blood pressure, examined my face and told me I needed to get to the ER. A possible stroke was her biggest concern. After blood tests, two exams and a head MRI, the diagnosis – Bell’s Palsy.

Basically, the cranial nerve that moves the muscles on the left side of my face is inflamed. The left side of my face literally froze from my forehead to the bottom of my lip. It feels as if I’ve had dental work done and my mouth is still numb. Thankfully, I can now blink and close my left eye. I can eat as long as I use a fork and drink with a straw. Still pain from the ear to my nose. Cheek and jaw muscles remain tight – even with massive steroids for the past week. Not being able to smile is hard.

The prognosis from the ER and my primary care doctors was quite positive for a full recovery. I have a follow-up appointment later this week with the neurologist just to make sure everything is okay.  I’m also curious as to the cause of this episode. Was it just a combination of random factors or was the major culprit – stress?  My white blood cell count was super high with no indication of an infection.  The nurse informed me that it was also an indicator of extremely high stress levels. I was strongly encouraged to spend the summer relaxing and doing massive amounts of self-care. I was also advised to learn ways to better manage my stress.

So, in keeping with the doctor’s orders, I am taking the entire month of June and most of July off. My plans include nothing more strenuous than relaxing near a body of water with sand between my toes, a good book in my hands and a glass of wine by my side. Oh – and maybe a small project to stitch on Crystal or Juliette (my beloved Singer Featherweights) when the weather outside gets a bit too toasty.

 

 

 

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Featherweight Info & Parts – Sources

This is more a compilation for my use, but feel free to borrow:

Singer-Featherweight  (f/n/a April 1930’s – successor to Graham Forsdyke)
Nova Montgomery
Desk Dave
Featherweight Doctor
Glenn Williams (Temple Terrace, FL)

Helpful hints:
*Original Bobbin Case is a MUST.
*Best replacement belt:  Bernina Black V-Belt part# 305.201.13
*Stick to original bobbins or reproduction bobbins from sources listed above. Bobbins from big box craft stores have mixed results.
*Screwdrivers with magnetic tips work best.
*LED bulbs are much cooler.
*If you don’t like/want to preserve original Bake-Lite foot controller – get the clamshell version with the rubber molded plug (about $40). WORTH EVERY PENNY.
*If you experience tensions issues, try a thread stand.

 

 

 

craft business

Put on your game face

Teachers have to be really good at hiding their emotions. I tell my students that we sometimes have to put on our game face and deal with adversity. It’s a part of growing up.  Is it easy? Oh heck no – especially when you secretly wish you could act like some of the second graders throwing a fit because they didn’t get their way.

As I mentioned in previous posts, I decided I needed to be more like my students and ask for what I want. So, I put myself on the transfer list and started applying for openings.  I had a really, really good interview with my “home” middle school (the one my neighborhood kids attend). This was the kind of interview where you really connect with the principal and you know they “get” it.  In the past, this level of connection has usually meant that I got the job. Not so this time.  I received the “position filled” email shortly before I left today to go to another interview with a neighboring school district.

That was hard. 

I had to put on my game face and go try to convince someone I didn’t know why they should hire me as their media specialist.  I had a great conversation with two very nice people. I seemed to answer their questions in ways they liked. Hopefully, I’ll be asked back for a second interview. I really would like to see where the library is located on campus. It’s driving me crazy that I didn’t get to see it today!  I was, however, very impressed with the cleanliness of the facility and the sense of order on campus.  Markedly different from my current school.

I also have an interview with another elementary school later this week. One of my former coworkers told them they needed to hire me!  🙂  The only sticky wicket is due to staff reassignments, my path will cross with an assistant principal from my former school. She’s a proponent of the fixed library schedule that I’m trying to get away from.

Four years ago, it was either transfer to another school or leave education. I absolutely, positively was not returning to that school for another year. Things are very different this time around. I actually like my current school and coworkers, but I’m stagnating in the day job. Not a good place for me to be. I want to pursue learning commons certification and work toward state recognition for an exemplary library media center before I hang up my school librarian hat.  Retirement is still a few years off, but this is something I’d like to do before I do retire.