Pledge Handmade

"I pledge to buy handmade this holiday season, and request that others do the same for me."

That's the handmade pledge from www.buyhandmade.org. I took it yesterday, and as of today, more than 8000 people have taken it as well. The three reasons the site gives for buying hand made are: it makes for better gift giving, it's better for people, and it's better for the environment. For the complete list, click here.

I plan on making most everything I give away as gifts this year. I'm thinking of doing plastic bag holders for the kitchen this year. Natalie bought quite a few presents at the Handmade Detroit Holiday Market. My stepmom has been making gift baskets of handmade bath salts, bath bombs, and chocolate-covered spoons along with crocheting everyone mittens, scarves, or slippers! Making things may be more time consuming, but making things with your friends on craft night is far more rewarding than getting packed into the mall spending tons of money.


Always the Forest Around the World

I check the stats on our website all the time. My husband Billy does too. We think it's the coolest thing ever, but we're just kind of silly like that. One of the neatest stats is the world map that shows the people who visit our website. The US, Canada, Sweden, Germany, Thailand, and more! The one visit from Kuwait is Billy.

All those visitors got me thinking. We get quite a few hits on our website, but not so many buys. Why? I think it's because of the very nature of what we sell. People want to see it in person, to touch it, try it on. Buying things over the internet is tricky because you're never sure that the picture is a totally accurate representation of the product. I strive to take pictures that accurately represent the product, but people won't always know that. I think sizing is another issue too. I definitely need to make some more sizes. Improvement is a very good thing.


New Studio for Always the Forest

This is our new location, right in downtown Romeo. It's the perfect place because it's not too far from the city and not too far from the beautiful countryside either. Great area for garage sales as well. There's an active venue for shows on one side of us and a tavern/club on the other side but somehow our apartment stays pretty quiet through all of that.

The apartment has a lot of character. It's painted olive green and mustard yellow, but not in a tacky way. It has a stamped tin ceiling in the dining room, and stairs to get to the bathroom, just like an old steam room. We also have our own laundry room! And tons and tons of storage for our craft/sewing supplies. You can get the complete tour here at my livejournal. It's going to get so productive around here!


Handmade Detroit Holiday Market

We're going to be at this year's Handmade Detroit Holiday Market! The Handmade Detroit Holiday Market is a two-day, juried DIY fair featuring 30+ vendors on Nov. 16 and 17th at Detroit’s Magic Stick.

This year’s fair features a VIP shopping night on Friday, Nov. 16, with music by Scarlet Oaks and SSM. This special night of shopping and entertainment is $5 to enter. Get first dibs on the best handmade items, arrive early to pick a special goodie pack and stay late to hear some great local music. 18 and up after 10 p.m. Seniors over 60 and kids 14 and under are free.

Saturday, Nov. 17, features a “traditional” DIY fair from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. All ages! Free to browse, though a one dollar suggested donation is gladly accepted to help Handmade Detroit continue to produce DIY events in and for our city.

It's going to be a really great show, so come check us out support the growing DIY community!


On the Road

Yesterday, I began my journey from California to Michigan. My mom, Billy's dad, and step-mom are helping us move. We loaded up the u-haul with all twelve or so of my fabric bins, sewing table and the rest of our house stuff. My bins of fabric weigh 25-30 pounds each! Me and Billy are so lucky to have such super family. My mom and I are driving my car back, and Billy's dad and step-mom are driving the little u-haul truck. My mom has never seen the Grand Canyon, so we're stopping there, along with the Petrified Forest and hopefully the strange gas station with the attacking chickens! Then Billy is flying back to Michigan one more time before he leaves. Living in the middle of the desert was a great experience, but I'm glad to be going back to the homeland. Billy found me a great apartment above a store downtown, and it's going to be a great studio for Always the Forest. I'll be in one place for at least a year, so that means I can crank out a ton of stuff for Always the Forest.

Goals for now: make stuff for and super-turbo promote Always the Forest, find a bunch of piano students and start teaching lessons.


Clean Your Machine!

Whether you sew every day or every once in a while, cleaning your sewing machine on a regular basis is a must. Most minor problems can actually be fixed by cleaning! I use my machine almost every day, so I clean it once a week. That might seem like a lot, but if you saw all the lint and thread I pull out of it every week you would understand. If you don't use your machine a lot, just clean it our after each use, then it will be ready for next time.

First, remove all spools and bobbins. Oh, unplug it as well, to prevent those finger-sewing accidents! Then wipe the outside of your machine from top to bottom. Open all the parts that you can and brush the lint out of them with the little brush that probably came with your machine. Tweezers are also handy for pulling out those rogue threads. Some people use a can of compressed air to remove the lint, but it's not necessary. If you have an older machine, you need to oil all of the moving parts. While you've got your machine all opened up, look for loose screws. I have one trouble screw that will unscrew itself every so often and it would be quite terrible if it fell out!

If your machine is really gunked up, you may want to tie a few knots in a piece of string, dip it in rubbing alcohol and pull it between the tension discs to clean them. I use this technique on my serger, and it works very well.

Change your needle! Yes, it makes a huge difference! Dull needles lead to skipped stitches, puckered seams, and mad frustration.

Once you get in the habit of cleaning you sewing machine on a regular basis, your sewing will go much more smoothly.


Fabric Swatch Portraits

I was browsing through my craft folder today and I came upon this nifty project I had saved from www.thepurlbee.com earlier this year. I think it's such a neat idea! You take some of those lovely swatches of fabric you have laying around and stretch them through embroidery hoops of all sizes. It makes the perfect decoration for a sewing/craft room, but I could definitely see it working in a living room or bedroom. Now I just have to scour garage sales for everyone's unwanted embroidery hoops!

In design/sewing news, Billy will be going to maintenance school for about a week in a few days, so I will be sewing up a storm while he's gone. I've been working on perfecting my new patterns and they're almost done. I think I'm going to have to clean up my sewing room before I begin, it's really messy. And by messy, I mean fabric everywhere! I find that when I have a neat and clean sewing room, the ideas come so much easier.


Our very first online sale!

Last night around midnight, me and Billy finished watching a movie. For some reason, I felt compelled to check my email. I grabbed my macbook and quickly checked for new mail. There, in my inbox, was our very first online order! I was so excited. It was for two Always the Forest Aeronaut tees and one Weekend Bag (pictured). I told Billy right away, and he was super happy. For the past couple of months he would always bug me: "Hey, did you sell anything yet? Did you? Did you?" and finally I did! Then I called up Natalie, who was three hours of time distance away, but I had to tell her the good news even if it was 3am in Michigan. She was also excited, and not asleep, for she is a night owl! Billy said we better send it out right away, because whenever he orders anything online and gets it the next day, his head just about explodes with glee. So I made up a fancy invoice and emailed it to Natalie, and she went to the post office the very next day and sent the goods! So hopefully if all goes right with the postal service, the package should arrive tomorrow. And thus begins our good streak of excellent customer service, hooray!

Now I'm off to finish sewing some more fall/winter stuff.


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