Friday, June 28, 2013

Downton Way Down Under

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="450"] image courtesy of kirstatron[/caption]

It's always a treat to find my work in other people's's one of my newer customers all the way down in New Zealand stitching my Downton Abbey Alphabet Sampler!  Squee!!  I she used metallic thread for the key and needle...just darling!

Also - I  just received another batch of  gorgeous Bohin stork scissors.  They are the last pair you'll ever need and such a fancy treat to see when you peek into your notions box.

--Lisa LeBlanc

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Thursday, June 27, 2013

Seeing Spots...

I've been on a serious silk-screening kick!  Fresh off the press are three new towels...adorable tone on tone polka dots, silk-screened with a sharp fleur de lis motif!

I picked this style to transition into Fall...but realized it has a great black and gold look for everyone's favorite football team down here - the New Orleans Saints!  Double Win!

I'm a sucker for robin's egg blue and a chocolate brown.  I hand mixed the brown to achieve just the right me it's even more rich and lovely in person.

I saved this one last!  A sweet pale green.  I've had a lot of difficulty with previous brands of white paint for water-based silk screening but heard good things about Versatex opaque white.  Water based paints never seem to be truly opaque but this comes close...very close!

I am so pleased with all three results!  If you'd like any or each picture for the  listing in my Etsy shop.  More items on the way scarves and I'm itching to screen some fabric to work into new pillows and totes.

--Lisa LeBlanc

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Friday, June 21, 2013

Friday Featured Fabric

This week for my Friday Featured Fabric, I wanted to highlight several vintage and out of print pre-cut packs I've listed in my Etsy shop the last couple of weeks.  Some really unique and unusual fabrics are available from fat eighths to over-sized fat quarters; the best part is they are all shipping FREE in the continental US!  Take advantage of this as I'm not sure when I will pull this offer...or pull the fabrics should I decide the perfect project for any one of them (you've been warned!)

A particular favorite...3 variations in scale of purple roses!

a fat eighth pack with a nice selection of out of print high end quilt cottons and vintage

a fun and funky floral fat pack

an out of print rarity - quilt weight cotton Asian inspired Brunschwig & Fils over-sized fat quarter

--Lisa LeBlanc

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Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Silk-screened Successes...

Feet up, lights low...I'm trying to relax and come down from today while Chico attempts to drag a dirty pair of sweats (someone must of left on the floor - not me) on to her favorite chair.  She's not even a foot tall, so it's taking her a while...but she's determined to join it under the pillow (where she thinks I don't know about her stash of missing socks and the occasional unmentionable *sigh*).

Today was great for a Tuesday, in the summer, of a small - fairly insignificant town.  My efforts busting booty on Monday to push out a lot of silk-screened items paid off today.  This adorable Cajun crawfish towel (2.0 of the this design) - quickly sold out online and in the store.  A new batch is drying as we speak.  It's funny how I'll spend hours sewing, cross stitching or crocheting...but out of everything I make people are just drawn to my silk-screened work.  Not that it's that much easier in comparison but I think we finally have a good system down between sources of screens, inks, and blanks.  For a time though - I was failing pretty regularly.  When I would announce it was the night I would silk-screen, C would gasp "oh no!" and wait for me to explode in a fit of tears.  It was that much of a nightmare!

To prove that I like to keep challenging myself - or as C considers "making it hard on myself" - I've also been dabbling into a few accessory items.  I love scarves - however, they must be lightweight because it's just shy of 100 degrees here AND let's face it, in Southeast Louisiana it will not be considerably cooler come winter.  I found the perfect jersey knit - a polyester, not cotton, giving these scarves a lovely drape.  I wanted a big chunky large that I actually had to paper cut the design to screen it.  They are lovely but quite a challenge...that loosey goosey fabric wants to move without being properly tacked and then there is a massive amount of ink being to push though the screen.  It took every bit of my being to keep the ink on the correct place in the scarf - we succeeded but found ourselves, the table, and the dog - day glo neon.  (Sort of like Tobias - "I blue myself" but with neon).  More colors are coming, we just need to build up our endurance and decide what color we want to be.

Still available from my Manic Make-it Monday are these new polka dot towels.  I'm using a new vendor for blanks, so I got just a few colorways of the design.  So far - I love it.  It's a nice neutral gold, but near New Orleans it so reads "Saints" football.  So, we hope, a double win for the we're not huge fans of glitzy (overpriced) licensed sports it's nice to have a handmade option to blend.

Bedtime is more towels to iron in the AM, a trip to the post office, and meeting with vendors...and possible a taco salad.

--Lisa LeBlanc

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Monday, June 17, 2013

Be Our Guest... was quite a weekend (today is my fake-Sunday as I am in retail and have Monday's off thankfully- which also makes Tuesday the new Monday).  We spent much of our time off this weekend babysitting our three year old nephew and dog sitting two 70 to 90 pound dogs.  Everyone had a wedding to attend - tho, we did not - and we became the drop off point.  Miraculously, after 1 toddler, 6 dogs, and 3 cats - the house is still intact!  In fact, the biggest baby of them all was the 90lbs sheep dog - who unfortunately cried through most of the night - and when I say cry -  I actually mean blood curdling barks followed by high pitched whines.  *sigh*

I've been on a sewing kick for a couple weeks now and started making these super cute crayon wallets.  We always need something for that age range between 3 to 5 in the shop and this seems like such a positive thing for children to respond to (rather than games or movies on a phone).  I'm debating on whether or not to put them in my Etsy's a bit of a divergence for me from what is there now.  But largely, I'm fielding SO many convos daily on my existing items (some are so odd I feel I need to post a greatest hits soon) - I feel like it would turn into "I like that but I want it different."  

Fortunately they do sell themselves in the store as my nephew helped himself to one.  Gosh, I hope he doesn't grow up to become a shoplifter.  He grabbed my money cat too - I attempted to explain what it is and that it's not working.  He told me it was "cute" and meowed at it for 15 minutes.  (let's hope that was the attention it needed!)

So, Monday arrived and with the house guests gone and C at work, I realized I was finally alone...deliciously alone!  Not all Mondays for me are created equally but this one panned out to be just the right balance of productive and relaxing.  I started early in the garden with a few minor projects.  I didn't last long because its getting near 100 degrees before lunch.  Despite the heat, everything was very much alive!  The birds were fighting over the feeder I put up; even a lot of activity over at the hummingbird feeder.  To my surprise, I found a turtle just finishing laying eggs in the glad I know where they are because she was very good at covering her tracks.

After all the garden fun (I even saw a snake).  I cooled off for a bit and watched the rest of Bomb Girls (bummer its already been cancelled - I always preferred Meg Tilly over Jennifer) and made grilled cheese.  It really feels like summer with a grilled cheese sandwich - most of my summers growing up, I was on my own during the day and had to fend for myself.  I quickly learned I had a knack for the art of the grilled cheese sandwich.  Today's was just perfection with sharp cheddar and Virginia ham.  Ahhh, after I regained my strength, I silk-screened a couple new towel designs - I'll share those in the next day or so; they are SO cute!

--Lisa LeBlanc

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Friday, June 14, 2013

Friday Featured Fabric is it already Friday?!  I had a ton of posts to write this week...most I think were based on how hot it is here.  It was 97 degrees midday yesterday (and 95 at 4pm!)  Anyway, here we are - and its time for another cool selection for the Friday Featured Fabric!


This week was a RUFF choice!  Seriously, is this not darling!  A new acquisition - upholstery weight Scottie Dog fabric!  Sold by the yard, a perfect choice for pet bedding, carriers or totes!  Grab it here.

--Lisa LeBlanc

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Saturday, June 8, 2013

To Market, To Market...

Yesterday we went to the annual Mississippi Market in Jackson, MS.  We love's a relatively close drive and the vendors are typically experienced with professional looking products and the show is easily managed in a few hours...and they fed us YAY!  It's always a nice helping of soul food...fried okra, yes, please?!  Anywho, more than any other year that we've attended, the show was a bit repetitious with embroidered baby things, funny and/or inspirational t-shirts, jewelry, soap and candles.  *rolls eyes* We really had to search for something unique or an item we didn't already stock in the shop. Luckily, I found a few items to add to our accessories, craft items and yes, Christmas!  

Also, we acquired a new bath line, Musee, strictly bath bombs - we are super excited to have found them due to the fact that this is a product category we carried for years successfully until our source unfortunately stopped producing. Honestly, we had just placed the order; I called my mother who had volunteered for shop-watch and she said someone had just called inquiring if we still carried bath bombs.  Yes, yahoo...we do!  I'll load these up in the next week or so to the main website in anticipation of their arrival.

Coming soon to0 is this tremendously fun chevron burlap.  I ordered it in January right when they began marketing it and it never showed up...*fingers crossed* this makes it and in the colors I picked!

And here's my first Christmas purchase.  I'm reallllly into this whole woodland folk winter scene thing.  I hope everyone else will be too.  Next month we will pass thru Atlanta to firm up our holiday purchases and of course more new lines to stock up the shop!

--Lisa LeBlanc

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Friday, June 7, 2013

Friday Featured Fabric

I'm on the road today (looking for more fabrics to add to the shop!), but I wanted to stop in and post for the Friday Featured Fabric!

Look how sweet this vintage print is!  I'm a sucker for small print florals and this one has a neat alternating geo dot pattern too.  I'm offering it by the yard (unfortunately there is only one available!) and in a trio pack of fat eighths (free shipping is still available on this item).


--Lisa LeBlanc

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Thursday, June 6, 2013

Modern Chicken Scratch

I love chicken scratch!  Some call it gingham embroidery or snowflake embroidery...either way its lovely, its nostalgic, and it looks intricate though it is totally not.  I developed this pattern of a fleur de lis a while ago; recently I went back to it and beefed it up a bit by making some subtle stylistic changes.  Also, I really detailed the instructions, including a second variation on the pattern.  The booklet with included pattern is available for download from either Etsy or Craftsy and is a whopping five pages full of instructions on stitches and fabric used,  design ideas, and helpful hints.

One of the more enjoyable things I find about chicken scratch is that it is relatively quick compared to it's sister crafts of cross stitch and needlepoint.  An experienced stitcher will have this complete in a couple nights.  Its the closest you'll come to instant gratification in embroidery work!  Another pattern is on the way (it sort of nudge its way in as I was finishing up this one) and I can sort of see myself modernizing this pretty art form in a new way.  Be on the look out and I hope you enjoy this pattern!

--Lisa LeBlanc

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Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Embracing the Quiet

Summer is always slow in retail (unless maybe you sell ice cream cones on a beach).  I've been doing this for a number of years now and I still take a deep breath when I see the school buses finally pull away from the nearby Junior High for the last day of school.  It sort of becomes a ghost town through these parts at that point.  There's plenty to do inside the shop; I don't dare venture out as it is already a shade cooler than the surface of the sun (and its only early June *sigh*).

Right now I'm developing a couple new patterns, working on a possible cross stitch class for fall, and new products to introduce quite soon.  We will be planning a couple market trips lots to do.  But now...its oh so quiet.  And I know I should want a bustle of customers, but honestly its been nice to sit (yes, I actually sat for more than five minutes!)  I've been working on a couple me-time projects: the Mystery Steotch Along (its turning out to be great fun!) and I just finished my Craftsy May Block of the Month in June.  I feel a bit like I created my own summer camp (something I always wanted to do as a child but was too chicken to try) - we'll call it Camp Happynest!

Ok, so a few customers have ventured in from this ungodly heat - Awakening me from my zen like bliss just long enough to file under "sh*t people say to retailers".  One such customers was looking for just right thing and low and behold I actually found it!  Though it met the description, um no, it wasn't just right.  Ok, no problem...she settled on another item.  Have I mentioned that both items were under $5?  No, oh, because that becomes important.  She leaves...I stitch (or steotch)...and returns hours later with item in hand.  While I'm scratching my head to figure out why one would waste gas and make the effort to return a small ticket item and secondly trying to remember how to actually return an item in our point of sale, because I do it so infrequently, she asks "so, do you do well in this location?"  She chatters away before I could say a word, "because I really love your store and wouldn't want you to leave".  What do you say to that?  I mumbled something like "every sale helps, here's your refund, ma'am."  *rolling eyes*  My subtlety was lost on her, she left and I carried on trying not to grumble too much since it was just $5.

--Lisa LeBlanc

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Tuesday, June 4, 2013

The Zen of Yard-selling

You know what's crazy? Having a yard sale while you are actively shopping others the same day! That was my Saturday - which turned out to be totally worth it on both accounts. First off let me explain a little about the sale; four years ago, one of my fellow merchants came up with the idea here in Ponchatoula, based on a new emerging trend. We invited the town to join in from residents, churches, organizations, and businesses and buy a listing for their sale to be featured in a  town map we generate each year. It's turned into a phenomenal money maker for all participants, whether you are a family saving for a summer vacation or retailer looking to start the lean summer months with little extra cash. Take note if you belong to a small town...this idea is golden!

Anywho, after four years of yardsellin' I was uber-prepared. I've been collecting junque since the last sale but really buckled down the last two weeks, spending my efforts sorting, pricing and labeling everything! The night before we set up every table inside the store, laid out all merchandised categorized by type (i.e. holiday, kitchen, etc) - when we arrived at 5am at the shop, all we had to do was carry out the tables and the sale was on! And that's how you do it y'all!

Once set up and C had the sale in order, that gave me time to scoot through town to visit other listings. I chose a couple of my favorites from years past and found these amazing vintage Italian frog planters, a couple primitive type dolls (so odd I could not pass them up).

I totally blew my budget tho on a new listing...daylilies!  Right in our midst is a daylily hobbyist that has turned his front yard of his modest cottage style home into a daylily mecca!  I got five...did I need 5, no...but what the hay!

So, if you find yourself traveling to Southeast Louisiana during the balmy part of late May and early June, make sure Ponchatoula is on your list to visit!

--Lisa LeBlanc

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