Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Photos part 3

"My Hand" requested by MaryAnn.
Over Christmas I found a great deal on a tripod and I had my first chance to use it while taking some photos of an Etsy custom order this weekend. Using a tripod is fantastic and allowed me to use both hands to stage the photo while still looking at the view screen to check composition and balance. This is a photo outtake. I kind of got caught up in making little hand puppets. I used to entertain my little sister for hours with 'hand people' and making her stuffed animals come to life. So excuse my wintered hands and let's play!

If you are wondering why in the world I am taking pictures of my hand, you can read more at my original post here and photo part 1 and photo part 2.

This is the custom business card holder I was photographing at the time. It's headed over to this super cool Houston photographer Three Heart Photography . Check her blog out to see what she has to say about Etsy (and me!).

And Ann-Margret is hosting a blog give-a-way. Head on over and check it out.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

The Cost of Handmade

(Please take one moment to think of a dollar amount you would pay for the pencil case pictured above. Ok, you may now continue reading!)

I have had this blog title in my head for months. Handmade is really catching on. I can't remember people valuing handmade more than now. I think the whole Local movement has helped tremendously and I have to say I have browsed the Local Etsy feature more than once to see what people are creating in my neck of the woods.

I have a question for you. If you are currently creating handmade items, what was the reason you started? My reason is simple. I am cheap and I like the challenge of learning new skills. But I really dislike to label myself and my handmade items as cheap. Maybe I should use the term "frugal" or"thrifty".

Take this pencil case for example. The linen had a previous life as a garment. The cotton print was free to me. The zipper, well, I found this one locally for $.10. Not much in the way of material investment right? But how long did it take me to make? How much is my time worth? And if I had to recreate this and had to buy new linen and cotton can I charge a different price per handmade pouch? Should I figure all my material expenses at new material costs?

I timed how long this took me from start to finish. I started this pouch at 12:45 pm on a Saturday afternoon. I cut all the fabric. I pieced the front and back exterior panels. All seams were top-stitched. I even changed the color of the thread once to add a bit of contrast stitching on the linen. I took the extra time to add fabric bits to the ends of the zipper so the pouch had near 90 degree corners. There are a few lost minutes in there when I tried to find my little crochet needle that I use to turn corners, but when it was all said and done the clock on the wall said 1:35pm. Ladies and gentlemen that is 50 minutes. ((pause)) Is that too long? Is it fast?

I was reviewing the time investment with my husband and I expressed frustration is how slow I was. If sewing pouches was my full time job, how could I ever make a living? (Not that I am looking to make sewing a full time job or anything. I just wanted to clarify that.) He responded that making a zipper pouch in under an hour should be a very satisfied crafty project. Hmmm. Maybe so.

Fast or slow, I just used 50 minutes of my life to sew this little pencil case. How much is that worth to you? Should I figure out my hourly wage for my salary job since I have B.S. degree? I proposed this question to the hubby and he said I couldn't use my degree salary as a basis to determine the value of my time since I didn't use my degree education to make this purse. Hurumph! Does anyone have any comments on this statement? I sure did, but I eventually decided to use minimum wage for purposes of this Handmade Experiement. (Even though the local gas station is hiring at over $10/hr.)

Minimum wage for PA as of July 2009 is proposed to be $7.25/hr. 50 min equates to $6.01.

The cost of the raw thrifted materials is a very modest $.45. My time is apparently worth $6.01 at minimum wage. Total cost is $6.46.

Now consider if I had to pay "new" prices for the materials.
Comprable zippers cost $1.69 at JoAnns.
Cotton fabric (designer) is usually around $8.95 (includes shipping).
Linen costs vary greatly but a 40% coupon at JoAnns will get your 100% linen for around $10/yd.

You'll have to excuse me for not showing my work, but if I have used new materials my cost would be around $2.74. (Keep in mind that I did not interface this case since the linen was already interfaced from the garment construction and the cotton was a deco weight fabric.)

And then the business books say to add on markup, which is your profit. I've seen books that say you should raise your prices 50-100% per item. But it all depends on how much profit you need.

So how much would you pay for the zipper pouch above? I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic. Do you have any advise to share when it comes to pricing your handmade items?

Friday, January 16, 2009

Photos part 2

"Something I Am Not Proud Of" requested by sulu-design
When Susan requested this I thought to myself I can get pretty honest with myself. This photo represents the string of Christmas lights that are still strung up across my living room floor after I took them down a week ago. I need to wind them up neatly. What am I waiting for? I don't know. But I do this in other areas of my life by letting little insignificant things become monsters in the room. I need to work on being more prompt with tasks in my personal life.

"Corner Of My Home/ Reading Spot" requested by Sherry
Oh, check out the sweater pillows I made last month. They've already been washed and dried and they survived. I have a little cube foot stool I can place in front of this chair and cuddle into the leather seat for a bright reading spot. In truth, I can never read in one place too long. Two chapters in I am sprawled across the floor. By chapter five I made my way over to the couch and then I'll finish the book in bed.

In case you are wondering what these photos are all about I asked for some suggestions in this post.

Thursday, January 15, 2009


"Turquoise and Red" request by Very Mary
Vintage mug racks found this past summer.

"A Funny Shaped Cloud" request by Amber
Picture taken just before sunset today. I was still on the road and had to take a phone call. I pulled over at a rural gas station and looked up. I am glad I took my camera with me today. What do you think it is?

"Food" requested by Kim
I saw that conversation hearts were available and I had to take a treat when we (Jeff) watched football at a friends house last weekend. So some cupcakes magically appeared. By the way, have you checked out the blog Bake It Pretty? Amanda has moved her super cute baking items from Etsy to her own online shop . She has chocolate button molds. I kid you not! Makes me want to make more cupcakes.

Thanks for all the requests! I'll get more photos up later.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Kick in the butt

Every once in a while you need a little help getting motivated. Why don't you guys/gals help me with my next post? I'm taking photo requests. What would you like me to take a photo of? (Keep it PG kids.) :)

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Kate, Here's your bag!

(Muslin mock up bag)

Over my vacation break, my sister came down for a visit and ended up designing her very first custom bag. She took some inspiration from Etsy, among a few other places, and I made this muslin mock up for her to check out the size and scale before she had to leave. She rooted through my button collection and found two burnt orange buttons as color inspiration.

(Finished bag. Button-loop closure. Contrasting orange stitching. 1.5 inched boxed corners for extra interior space.)

My sister really liked how the orange buttons popped on the cream colored background, so I chose a muslin canvas (still muslin, still cheap, still has the little flecks in the weave) and a deep orange cotton twill fabric for the interior (which was on super clearance for $1/yard!).

Inside the bag has a zipper pocket lined with the muslin canvas so it's easy to find what your looking for. There is also a slip pocket and a key fob.

I was really pleased that my first initial measurements satisfied my sisters requirements, so it was quick to sew together once everything was cut out.

I made one cutting error and had some scraps so I made a coordinating pleated zipper pouch to go in the purse. It's large enough to hold her camera or other small items.

Though I think next time I will get her to sew it. What do you think Kate? :)

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Give-a-way Winner(s)

Happy NEW YEAR everyone!

The pot of chili con carne is stewing away in my new enameled cast iron pot (Christmas gift!) getting ready for the Rose Bowl later this afternoon. The dishes are washed. Laundry is dried and ready to be put away. But before I forget let's pick a winner of the calendar. Oh wait. Why not pick winners! I probably have enough ink left to print out 2 more. So without further adieu-

True Random Number Service

List Randomizer

There were 15 items in your list. Here they are in random order:

  1. 17
  2. 13
  3. 8
# 17 is Amanda Jean
#13 is Pam
# 8 is Ashley Ann

So ladies, if you would please send me your mailing address at leeannhuberATgmailDOTcom.

Thank you everyone who stopped by to enter! I made a list of blogging topics a few days ago and I had a few more give-a-ways on there. So stop back often. :)