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R.Kay Design: July 2011

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Inspiration - Where Does It Come From

Everyday, everywhere, your day is filled with visual input. As you drive down the street to go to work, walk your dog through the neighborhood, surf the internet, watch TV, or have a vivid dream at night, there are millions of things you see everyday. Some of these items are so routine, you don't even notice them. Others are so horrific, you don't want to notice them. Some are so beautiful you can't forget them. And still others are so unique you want them to part of your life.

Inspiration comes from anywhere you let it. Shapes, colors, patterns, feelings, all give inspiration if you let it in. When creating handmade items, inspiration is not copying another item, inspiration is seeing another item and transferring the lines or feeling of that item to what you're making. For example, I wrote in a past post about how, in church one Sunday, I noticed all the young girls had ruffles on their clothing. That inspired me to use a ruffle on the purse pattern I was going to make. I didn't copy a single item, but I incorporated a feature of the items I saw into my project, in my own way.

Likewise a feeling can be inspirational. A visit to a quaint town while on vacation might inspire you to add a touch of whimsy to the next item you make, where before, nothing you made was whimsical. Love and pain often inspires songwriters and it could inspire you as well. What do you think of when you think about being head over heels in love, the image created in your head may have a line, color, or words that could be used in your next project.

At the end of the day, we have so much to inspire us but we must open our eyes and be mindful of our surroundings and feelings.Take notice each and every day and let the beauty of simple things enter your heart.  Your creations will naturally take on the beauty of what inspires you and you'll never run out of new ideas.

P.S. A dress I saw on TV the other night has become the inspiration for my next purse pattern! I sketched it out this morning, I didn't want to forget my thoughts. Whenever an inspiration sparks an idea for a future creation, be sure to write it down or sketch it out right away as ideas can be fleeting. Keep a notebook with you at all times, stop make notes, sketches, etc. when it happens as you don't want to forget what it was that gave you your inspiration.

Are there certain things that inspire your creations? Are there places you go, things you do, items you look for to give you inspirational input? Comment below and let's discuss!

Until later ~


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Sunday, July 24, 2011

Sneak Peek of Next Project - Loud Flowers - Making My Own Molly Purse

Yesterday I had a whole slew of JoAnn's coupons and my daughter just happened to call and see if I wanted to go there. What a great coincidence for me!

We were there over two hours. At first I wasn't going to buy anything (yeah, right), I was just going to help her find fabric for a summer dress. But as I was sifting through all the gorgeous fabric, I broke down.

So, one more test sample for my Molly design will be born. This time I'm going to add a gusset to the sides so it is even bigger. I don't think I'll add that as an option for the pattern, but who knows, maybe.

The loud flower print will be my main body fabric, the black will be the top band and strap. The black and gold calico will be the lining. I don't know if you can see it in the pic, maybe if you click to enlarge, but I got a metal zipper to use on the inside zip pocket. The other day a friend of mine had just spent a lot of money on a new leather Coach purse and was showing it to me. Of course, the first place I looked was how the lining and zip pocket were inserted. It's nice to know it's exactly like I make my zip pockets, whew! Only difference is that the zipper was metal. Yes, it was so luxurious, and zipped so nicely. So, I'm going to use metal this time around and see how it goes.

I'll post the finished product when it's done but I'm not going to start it right away. I promised myself I'd finish the Molly pattern instructions/tutorial first.

Until later ~


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Friday, July 22, 2011

Under Valuing Your Handmade Item Is Not Only Bad For You But The Entire Handmade Market

My last post was about pricing handmade goods and how to be careful not to overprice or under price as either direction always has a bad outcome.

Having said my peace, I want to talk a little about how I've noticed that a lot of goods in the handmade marketplace are under priced. I make purses and purse patterns and when I puruse the handmade marketplaces on the internet, inevitably I find many, way too many, beautiful handmade purses that took hours and hours to make priced at $20.  Now you can't tell me that after purchasing fabric, notions and interfacing that the person selling that item at $20 is making any money. In fact, they are probably losing money, believe me, I know the price of the materials needed to make a purse.

This type of pricing will kill the handmade marketplace for three reasons:
  1. When an artist spends a lot of time to make an item and under values the time spent making the item, they may sell a lot of items but will soon find that they do not have enough time to fill the need. They end up losing business due to long delivery times. Eventually, they will go out of business because of their long delivery time reputation, go out of business because they are losing money, or grow sick from over work.
  2. Those who price appropriately find it hard to compete with the low prices and go out of business.
  3. Lasty, and not to be overlooked, I suspect that some of the low priced items are not handmade by individuals but produced in factories in far-away lands, this will cause skepticism in the authenticity of the handmade marketplace. Business will be lost by all.
Bottom line, learning to price for the market and letting the marketplace help with your pricing is not only good for your business but good for everyone. When it's right, sales will be made and the entire handmade market will thrive.

How do you think under pricing affects the handmade marketplace as a whole?

Until later ~


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Thursday, July 21, 2011

Pricing In the Handmade Marketplace

I just read a blog over at ScoutieGirl titled 3 Reasons to Pay More for Your Stuff and I came away with mixed feelings. Don't get me wrong, I love quality, I love handmade items, I make handmade items, and I sell handmade items, but the reasons she gives to justify paying more for the stuff we buy (and charging more for the stuff we sell) is great in theory but is it practical?

Tara gives three reason to justify paying more:

  1. To support an individual.
  2. To support an economy.
  3. To support yourself.

I've always had an entreprenural mind. Ever since I was a kid I wanted to own my own business and in my lifetime I've owned a couple successful businesses. To me, letting the market dictate pricing is the lifeblood of a free economy, so paying more 'just because' is not logical to me. The reasons Tara sited for paying more left me feeling like she wanted everyone to pay more 'just because'.

Quality is quality and quality demands a higher price. If those who sell handmade items offer quality and/or uniqueness, those items will demand a higher price in the market. But everything that's for sell will only garner what the marketplace says it's worth. People do not pay more for items 'just because'.

Individuals who sell handmade items can't get caught up in the 'holier than thou' mentality of thinking that 'just because' something is handmade it's of better quality and thus the market should pay more. Those that do and then don't offer the quality or uniqueness that demands the price will quickly fail.

That being said, there is a small segment of the market that thinks on a higher level and feels they must make their purchases count for 'the greater good'. These people will pay higher prices just to support an individual, an economy, or to make themselves feel good, but that segment is small. Most purchases, although emotional, are still made with knowledge of what an item is worth and if similar items of similar quality are offered, the lower price usually wins.

When pricing your items for the handmade market, think about what you would pay in the retail market for a similar item of similar quality. If your item could easily be sold in a department store, then price like a department store. If it is unique enough to sell in a specialty store, boutique, or art gallery, then price it accordingly. If it has the quality you see in a bargain store, then price like a bargain store. Do not undervalue your item and the time it took to make it, but do not overvalue it either, in both cases the outcome is not good.

Until later ~


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Monday, July 18, 2011

Blog Mission Statement - Distilled

Yesterday I shared my story and talked a little about what I want to do with this blog. It was a long story and I hope some of you took the time to read it. Now I need to distill the information and formulate a blog mission statement for Nikki Rae's. This isn't an easy task, how do you take so much information and restate it in just 2 or 3 sentences?

Well, here's what I came up with.


Nikki Rae's new blog mission statement:

Nikki Rae's is a blog that I write for those who love to sew purses, handbags, and similar items and then sell them on Etsy. Nikki Rae's readers will enjoy all kinds of information about sewing purses and handbags as well as info that I learn as I build my own Etsy business. The community that forms will enjoy sewing tutorials, sneak peeks of new patterns, give-aways, reviews and discussions of other designer's patterns, sew-alongs, and general sewing room talk. I'll give insights into what inspires me, troubles me, challenges me, and fills me with joy while sharing my goals, sewing tips, business tips, people I admire, and stories about doing what it takes to make a fulltime living creating the things I love. I want all my readers to share the joy I feel in knowing that others find pleasure in sewing the designs I create.

Come join me in my journey to creating a business that supports me into my retirement and learn a little, laugh a little, and maybe even cry a little along the way. I'd love to have you along for the ride while I share my experiences.


So? What do you think? How can I improve it? What do you like about? What do you hate about it? Let me know!


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Sunday, July 17, 2011

Nikki Rae's - Blog Mission and a Little About Reba

Today I was trying to figure out how I'm going to keep this blog alive as I'm finding it hard to find time and inspiration to write. As I was surfing around on Twitter and some blogs, I came across an ad for a book for artists and crafters on how to stay inspired to write for your blog by Tara Gentile. I decided it would be in my best interest to buy it.

I haven't made it through the entire book but what I've read so far is very good, so I decided to start following her advise. She writes that I should develop a mission for my blog and in order to write that mission, I need to answer a few questions.

Well, I answered those questions and I ended up writing a story, my story. I still need to distill it down to just a sentence or two, but I thought you might want to read the story. So, I'm going to tell you a little about myself, what fuels my passion for sewing and designing, what inspires me, and what I hope my customers will gain by reading my blog and buying the handmade items I make and design.

I started sewing when I was 12 years old. I had always been not only creative but also industrious. I was raised by my grandparents and when I was about nine I learned that you could check books out at the library. I used to get my grandma to take me to the library so I could check out how-to craft books. I did all kinds of crafts on our kitchen table. I'd read how to do it in the book, and then do whatever my chosen project was that week. Depending on the week you might find me making a paper mache statue or changing the color of a shirt by dying it in the sink.

My grandma's sewing machine sat just on the other side of the wall where I sat at the kitchen table doing all this. I asked her many times if I could use her sewing machine and the answer was always no. It was a Sears sewing machine and was in a cabinet where it dropped down and the leaf folded over the top of the cabinet. She kept her wooden box of silver place settings on top of it. I often climbed on top of it so I could jump off. No wonder she wouldn't let me use it.

Then when I was 12 she finally let me use it after I came home from Kress with a pattern and fabric to make a peasant blouse. A friend who's mother was teaching her how to sew took me to the store and showed me what to buy and how to buy it. It was a Simplicity Super Easy Peasant Blouse with raglan sleeves that had elastic around the neck and sleeves.

My grandmother didn't teach me how to sew, either she had no interest or she didn't know enough to teach me, but I had plenty of experience in teaching myself how to do things. Sewing quickly became my favorite pastime and I made a lot of my own clothes when I was in junior high.

Once I hit high school I found a lot of other things I wanted to do rather than sew, so the sewing machine sat still. After graduation I got married, then kids, and work, and you time to sew except the occasional Halloween costume. Before I knew it, 30 years had past!

Recently I decided to buy a new sewing machine and start sewing again. I couldn't be happier that I did. Clothing doesn't interest me much, too many alterations for sizing and getting it to fit properly, so I decided to make home decor items. We just moved into an older home and renovated the entire house. Our home needed things like curtains.

After making a few home dec items I got bored. So I tried my hand at making some IPad covers for my daughters. I was hooked. They were easy and quick to make and I could make changes to the patterns to make all kinds of variation. Soon I made Kindle covers and then I moved on to purses and handbags. I absolutely LOVE making these things. I can create new designs, make them quickly, other people love them, and I don't have to worry whether or not they fit!

I recently decided to create my own design and make a pattern for a handbag. I'm currently working on turning it into a written/picture tutorial to sell on Etsy. The process is amazing. I love creating the design, sewing the prototypes, and using my computer skills (I worked as a graphic designer for about 10 years) to make the pattern and write-up the tutorial. Doing this type of work to earn a living would be an absolute dream, so I spend most of my spare time working on make bags and creating patterns. But my spare time is limited because I work a full-time job in middle management for an oilfield services company.

You might wonder where I find my inspiration. Well, I'm really not sure where it comes from. I suppose it comes from different places. For instance, the inspiration for the purse pattern I'm working on right now came one Sunday at church. I noticed that a lot of the teens were wearing ruffles. They had ruffles on their skirts, ruffles on their blouses, ruffles on their purses, and ruffles in their hair. I knew at that moment I wanted to design a purse with a ruffle.

So, why do I write this blog? I write because I want the people who purchase my handmade purses and patterns to not only get a beautiful purse or a pattern to make a beautiful purse, but have the opportunity to know the person who created it. I'd like them to know a little about the process of making the item or what inspired it's design. I'd like them to know me.

I want that person to know that they make a difference in my life when they make a purchase from me. They not only help me get a little closer to my dream of making a living by creating when they buy my handmade item, but they also bring me tremendous joy to know that they liked my creation enough to make it a part of their life.


Saturday, July 16, 2011

Creating a Blog Schedule For Your Knitting Or Craft Blog

Since I've been working on my pattern during all my free time, I haven't had much time to post here on Nikki Rae's. I thought it would be a good idea to post an article or two while I'm finishing up the pattern, so I went to my favorite article directory, Lady Pens, and found an article I thought you would like.

Since most of you have blogs, I thought this article about creating a blog schedule was appropriate. It's mostly about creating it for a knitting blog but the concept could easily be adapted for a sewing blog, mommy blog, craft blog, or any blog for that matter.

Maybe I should follow this advice, I don't seem to be doing a very good job of writing regularly. The days just seem to pass so quickly and before I know it, haven't written in a while.

How do you manage your blog? Do you use a schedule? How often do you post? I'd love to hear your feedback in the comment section! And feel free to follow - I love followers!


Creating a Blog Schedule For Your Knitting Or Craft Blog

By Loretta Oliver

Whether you’ve been blogging for a long time now or you’re completely new to blogging one thing that can really help focus your efforts and make things less stressful is to create a basic blogging schedule. This way you know what you’re going to write about ahead of time, or at least have a basic idea. It also helps your readers to know what to expect and when.

A lot of bloggers create their blog schedule by days of the week, Monday Mindbenders, Tuesday Teasers, etcetera. You get the idea. We’re going to create a sample blog schedule for a knitting blog. I admit that I am not a knitter by trade, I just can’t master the whole two needles thing, so if I use an incorrect term please correct me. Let’s start our week on Monday and go from there.

Monday Machine Knitting: On this day you could write about the differences between machine knitting versus hand knitting, pros, cons, patterns, and so forth. Some great tutorial topics would be how to convert a hand knitting pattern into a machine knitting pattern and how to work in rounds on a knitting machine. There are also a lot of one day projects out there for machine knitting, like making a sweater in one day. You could review different machine knitting patterns, projects and accessories.

Tuesday Twos: Get it? Knit one, purl two? Okay, so maybe I’m not as witty as I think I am, but you get the idea. You’re looking for a daily theme that you can easily write about. This could be patterns, frustrations, whatever comes up when you’re knitting. Of course, knitting is just the example here, the same goes for any craft or really any topic at all, books, movies, cooking, collectibles, whatever your site is about.

Wednesday WIPs: If you’re wondering WIP stands for work(s) in progress. So, sticking with our knitting example this would be whatever projects you are currently working on. Share pictures, talk about mistakes you might have made while going through the pattern, share a tip about the project..

Most importantly get your readers involved, ask them what they think and ask them to share what they are working on as well. You’ll be surprised how many will blog about what they’re doing also and include a link back to your blog post talking about works in progress. It really builds that community feeling even more.

Thursday Threads: Product reviews could go on this day. Talk about that awesome luxurious new wool you just bought, or the shiny new needles. Again, if you’ve got an affiliate link throw that in there and all the better.

Friday Free Patterns: Here is another opportunity to talk about products that you’re using and the free patterns that you’ve found on the internet. The nice thing about free patterns is that they free us up to splurge a little more on the supplies. Tell your readers about the great hand dyed yarn you bought to stitch that scarf.
Even better if you create your own patterns and share them with your readers. You’ll find yourself with a following of fans in no time at all.

Saturday Scarves and Socks: I couldn’t think of an S word to go with the knitting category, so I threw in the scarves and socks, because everyone always seems to be knitting one or the other at any given moment. I personally wish that I could knit, just so I could make some of the great sock patterns I’ve seen on the internet.

Sunday Wild Cards: I like to leave Sunday as a wild card day where I might or might not blog. If I do then I just go off the top of my head.

Now, you’ve got a basic outline to follow each and every week. Of course, if something doesn’t apply one week you don’t have to stick to the outline, write what’s applicable when it’s fresh.

Also, don’t be afraid to send out more than one post per day. Let’s say you’ve already written your usual Wednesday post, and then your favorite knitting shop sends out an email for a one day only sale and you want to blog about it and shout it from the rooftops. Don’t hold back on that, go for it. It’s relevant, your readers are going to love it, and if you’ve got an affiliate link for that particular shop it’s even better.

If you’re just getting started as a craft blogger or want to get started check out How to Start a Craft Blog for Fun and Profit. It’s a great guide that can give a nice boost to anyone looking to make a go of blogging professionally in the craft niche. Get started today! It’s easier than you might think.

This article was written by:
Loretta Oliver owns the cross stitch site Stitching the Night Away  and authors a popular craft blog on a subdomain of the site featuring product reviews, project ideas, and various crafty features on a daily basis.
Happy Crafting!

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Sunday, July 10, 2011

Molly All Grown Up

I finished sewing the final version of Molly and it turned out great. Adding two inches to the bottom and making the strap thinner really makes her look larger. I also added the button loop option which adds interest to the front of the purse but it's just an option, as the magnetic close will also be an option in the pattern. You can see the first version of Molly in my last post, it's cute too and I might leave it as a second version in my pattern.

I will be placing this bag for sale on Etsy tonight or tomorrow. I hope to have a lot of interest and even more interest in the pattern when it's ready.

I still have a lot of work to do on the pattern as it's not just a pattern but also a tutorial. So far I've written up the instructions for cutting it out and fusing the interfacing. I'm hoping to finish the sewing instructions this week. Then I'm going to give away a number of them in hopes of getting some feedback or a review in return. I really want to make the pattern the best it can be and I think feedback will help a lot. If you have interest in receiving this pattern for free in return for feedback or a review, please follow my blog. I will announce the give-away here. I only plan to give away a certain number and haven't yet decided how many, but the give-away will be limited, so please follow so you can be notified.

Here are a couple more pics:

Until later ~


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Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Introducing Molly! My New Purse Design

Designing a purse is harder than I thought it would be. Not so much dreaming up how it will look, but first making the pattern on paper, then sewing it multiple times until it's perfect. And that's just to start, I haven't even started writing the cutting and sewing instructions. Anyway, that explains my absence from my blog, I've been WORKING!!

To the left you will find Molly. Molly is my new creation, but not the final design. Even though it turned out really, really cute, there are still more adjustments I'm making to the pattern before I put it on the market.

First, I think I want to make it bigger and I also make the strap a little bit thinner. I also think I want to give the option to use a button loop instead of a magnetic closure. These are all adjustments where I need to go back to my pattern, make changes, and then test it by making another...which I am in the process of doing now.

Once I'm finally finished, I'm going to give the pattern to a few readers to beta test in return for a review. I want the pattern to be correct and make sure others can understand it before I put it on the market. So stay tuned...and follow here on my blog...I'll announce here when I'm ready for the give away. 

In the meantime I thought I'd show you this cute little darling. It'll be for sale on Etsy soon but if you're interested in purchasing, just let me know. It'll save me the time of listing it. I'm letting it go for somewhere near my cost $20 plus shipping.

Molly has a magnetic closure, inside zip pocket, plastic grid re-enforced bottom, and metal feet. Made of cotton, all pieces are reinforced with fused woven interfacing or fused fleece interfacing. The bottom measures 10-1/2" X 4" and stands 8" tall. The strap is 2" wide and 28" long. There's tons of room inside even though it's small on the outside.

There is one flaw, the feet are not evenly spaced...I don't know what I did...I must have spaced out when I was putting them on. But it's a great deal and who looks at the bottom of your purse? All four feet are there and they work to keep the bottom off the surface of where you sit it.

Here are a couple more pics, click on them and they will enlarge:

Until later ~


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