I made myself a little something…

I have been doing a lot of sewing for my Reshelly line lately and haven’t made something for myself. For Christmas I got an awesome camera and specialty 50 mm lens. I wanted a bag that had a place for multiple lenses and all of my camera items. I remember seeing a camera bag pattern online and thought of treating myself to a sewn project. It is called the Camille by Swoon Sewing Patterns. I also wanted to learn a new bag construction technique.











There was a lot to cut out. I should have taken a photo of what everything looked like with the interfacing as well. I won’t be creating this bag to sell. It has way too many parts and took a lot of time. I am very happy that I made it for myself though. I looked up the price that is recommended for one of these bags sewn and that is $150. I understand this now after seeing how long it took and the materials used. I treated myself!
















I love my new camera by the way!!!!! I love this shot using my 50 mm lens! (what a difference this makes!) Tomorrow I am going to take a bunch of shots for new items for my online Etsy shop!

The pattern is great and the Facebook community around Swoon patterns is amazing. I used a really great tutorial online by Ali Cat & Co. It really helped to have a visual along with the pattern.

I used some fabric that I got at Bolt Fabrics here in Cornish, Maine! The textile is designed by Kim Andersson. I had three different color variations of the same pattern with a sold blue textured fabric. I special ordered some white buckles and metal hardware from Strapworks. I also treated myself to some fancy new scissors! These are usually used for embroidery but help when trying to this out bulk around seams with interfacing.

As I was creating the bag I kept adding things…:) I added a bunch of pockets for things and created a little holder for my cord.






















I turned the lining inside out at one point and noticed that it could be used to make a diaper bag (the bottom would just need a piece added). I seem to know so many people having babies these days!















I had a little bit of trouble lining up the bag together to stitch it together. I had used different interfacings than were recommended and it changed things a bit. I adjusted and am satisfied with how it came out though. Here is a shot of one of the pockets that came with the original design.


















I also created a little container to hold my lens cap. This has already been so useful! It stays on my camera strap so that it is ready all of the time.


















I originally was going to create a holder for my tripod but it fits really well into this area of the bag.






I am so happy that I decided to create this bag. It did take a long time, but I learned a lot about using interfacing and sewing with corners. It was a little difficult, but I love how it looks! I actually bought another pattern before I even finished this one!


donnabag1I am going to create one for myself to get an idea on how to construct it and then create some variations to sell. If I make it for myself first then I will learn how to do it and then draw out some new ideas. I miss drawing and am planning on creating my own printed patterns through Spoonflower. I am looking forward to creating some new designs!

Have you ever created something that was really difficult but worth spending the time?



7 Craft Fair Tips

Recently, I had a booth set up at the Maine College of Art Holiday Sale. This two day event started with a First Friday Art Opening. This meant that a lot of people went through! I wanted to share with others what I have learned.

#1- Take photos!

Make sure to take great photos of your booth! I had a friend take a shot of my booth to post instantly to Facebook/Instagram. I got a bunch of likes/comments and it did send people my way! I wish that I took the time to take a great shot of just the booth, but it slipped my mind till it was too late. This photo is a little fuzzy but it did the job.

#2- Have a friend sign up on your email list right away.

I usually will have a little notebook for signing up to my email list at shows. At the start of the event, my friend Corin (who is the original inspiration for my large floral earrings) signed up. This was great because it instantly showed interest in my work. My little notebook ended up filling up with emails! I also had a little container of chocolate kisses right next to it. I have really been enjoying creating my newsletter. I even had a reader show up and share that she spends her days on the computer doing “work” related things and my newsletter gives her a lot of joy. That was awesome to hear!

#3-Get a card reader!

I had two readers ready for this event. I used my Etsy card reader for these transactions because it shows up as sales on my account. One day half of my sales were because I had a credit card reader. People were also able to buy higher priced items because not everyone likes to carry around a lot of cash.

#4- Have items for both men and women.

I had a bunch of people tell me that they wished that I had something that they could give to a male. I lost sales because of this. I am thinking about creating some male bracelets and possibly wallets as well.

#5- Think about the best use of space with your booth.

Across from my booth was Cat Bates. His booth was well set up. First thing that I noticed was that people stood well around it. Cat’s sister helped with the event. This meant that two interactions were able to happen at once. While one group was looking and talking another one could come up. From afar, this made the booth look really inviting and drew people in to see what others were looking at. What I noticed that with my own set up only one group of people could look at a time.

The boxes that the items were shown in was similar to what could be found in a shop. This is great for someone who is looking for wholesale buyers as well. Cat had his name printed on a sign in front and on bags. I thought that the bags sitting right on the table shows that he is professional with his branding and business.


#6 Think about creating a set up that is easy to travel with.

Dropping things off at a craft fair can be stressful. There are a lot of people coming and going at the same time. One of the vendors, Forthouse Studios created a really amazing traveling set up. Joe Rosshirt is the designer behind this work. This is what it looks like set up:
















This is what it looks like when it is ready to go.

I thought that this was a great use of design and function. They designed this specifically for ease of use and to also be able to use it as part of the display. Such a great idea!

#7 Have items that are fitting to the season

Lots of my patterns were more fitting for the summer. I sold some of the winter themed fabrics and people asked me if I had more with these. I think that I would have sold more bags if I had used more winter themed fabric.

I ended up going home and reorganizing all of my studio. It had become ciaos. This is what I did to change it up. I organized my fabrics into different containers. I also created a shipping station that is always set up and moved my cutting boards around my table. It is so much nicer having a space that is easier to use.



















Do you have any tips for setting up at a craft fair?

Skills Your Grandma Had That You Can Use Today.

I am excited to introduce a guest post to my blog today! This is a great list of items that are perfect for a Homesteader. I personally do most of these things (save for own livestock and hunt). Many of these things I learned from my own Mother and Grandmother.


Please welcome Shane Newman. When Shane isn’t hunting, hiking, or fishing, he blogs about all things outdoors at Outdoorsman Time. “I have a normal day job, but my passion is to be outside. I long for a simpler life that goes back to our roots – to something closer to what our grandparents experienced. So, being self sufficient in the home and on the homestead is very important to me, and well, I just like the experience.”


With age comes wisdom, but many of us tend to forget that when it comes to our own grandparents. But the truth is that there are a lot of still very useful skills that were commonplace among previous generations that have become a rarity in modern society. Fortunately, there is a growing interest in homesteading and self-sufficiency. Here’s some skills we could all still stand to have under our belts:

Grow a Garden

Everyone should know how to grow at least some basic fruits and vegetables, and the more you can grow on your own the more money you keep in your pocket. You’ll also have the comfort of knowing exactly what’s in your food and where it comes from. Go for organic, non-GMO seeds whenever possible.


Make and Use Compost

Nothing keeps your soil fresh quite like good ol’ fashioned compost. Everything from old newspapers to food scraps can be used to make the rich organic waste that is compost. Once you have enough, use it in your garden!

Understand and Use Medicinal Herbs

Modern science has given us some wonderful medications, but many people tend to take it a bit too far these days. Rather than just masking your symptoms with drugstore pills and prescription after prescription drug, boost your health and find relief with medicinal herbs. Many health stores have some great books on the subject.

Sew Clothing

Perhaps you already know the basics of sewing, but if you’re like many of us, you have very little experience in actually making clothes. The benefits of this skill are numerous, but the top two are definitely the fact that your clothes will be unique and you’ll save a lot of money. Start out with mending already existing clothing, and then go from there.

Tend to Animals and Livestock

Keeping your own animals like chickens, goats, cows, etc. will provide you with multiple forms of food and could also even be used as a form of income (selling eggs, milk, and/or the offspring of your animals, for example). It might be a good idea to start small and with only a couple of animals before moving on to bigger operations though.


Hunt Wild Game

Hunting is one of the oldest human skills that is still very useful today. It’ll take some practice regardless of which weapon you choose, but successful hunting will save you money on food and give you natural exercise. Crossbows are a traditional and efficient weapon as their ammo supply is reusable. Just be sure to follow local hunting laws.

Store Water

You may have pump failure from time to time with a well, and even those with filtered water on a city system will experience occasional problems with contamination or drought. Mass quantities of water can be stored in large drum kits while smaller amounts can be stored in multi-gallon bottles or jugs. Water can be purified by boiling, distilling, using special purification tablets or even chlorination.

Ferment Beer, Wine, and Fruits

Fermenting beer and wine is a fun and fulfilling process that is also an art. Home brewing and winemaking can be done with some basic tools, and there are literally tons of resources on the subject both online and in stores. You can also ferment fruit to make delicious kombucha.

sourdough-breadBake Sourdough Bread

Sourdough is just about the most natural form of bread that can be made. Rather than adding in cultivated yeasts and unnatural starches, sourdough uses only naturally occurring yeast and a starter bacteria that gives it its tasty, tart flavor. But as if that weren’t reason enough to learn its recipe, sourdough bread also tends to keep much better than its counterparts.

Preserve Vegetables

Growing vegetables is pretty useless if you can’t preserve them properly. Adopting preservation techniques like canning, freezing and drying will allow you to be able to use vegetables during colder months when fresh food is more scarce.


Even if you do adopt all of these skills, you’ll likely still have some other needs down the line. Maybe you need to fix something and your neighbor happens to be better with tools. Instead of simply paying for things, trading skills, services and/or goods will benefit both of you and even help build your community.


So, while it’s true that we have a lot of technology today that helps make up for our lack of tactical skills, it’s also true that we can’t depend on these comforts entirely. It’s time to become more self-reliant and sufficient at taking care of ourselves. And if you really are looking to start homesteading, these skills are vital.

Getting ready for the MECA Holiday Sale!

I have been busy busy busy! In a few weeks I will have a booth set up at the MECA Holiday Sale!




















Yesterday I was working on my Pansy earrings. These are all hand cut, painted, sewn together and then varnished. It is a process, but it has been a lot of fun making these.


There are a lot of great vendors and I am going to be creating posts that are on a theme that are inspired by what will be at the event. This is fun for me because it is kind of like window shopping! :)

If you are interested in attending the event, I am going to be sending out a secret code in my newsletter for a special discount on what I will have there! Just sign up for it here and I will be sending this out the week of the event!

Thanks for stopping by!


Greenhouse as a house?

I came across this video recently and it really struck a chord with my “Amateur Homesteading” brain. Marie Granmar and Charles Sacilotto live in Stockholm and have built a greenhouse around a small summer house. This allows for them to use the solar energy from the sun to keep the home warm in the winter months (with additional wood fire) and keep a lot of plants growing. Charles is a trained engineer and he was able to come up with a really interesting sewage system as well. I love the interesting use of materials.

Would you ever live in a house like this?

Garden and Life

Last week, I had my last garden experience of the year. It was a beautiful crisp autumn day. The leaves had been falling and covering the driveway in a blanket of colors.

My goal for the day was to move my garden bed. I had built it wrong originally and needed to take it apart to put it back together. I guess this happens when you do something for the first time with scraps that aren’t really meant to do this.
I also needed to make more room for the plow to be able to push a bunch of snow towards the back of the yard.
Here is the before.
I had to break it down slowly and move loads of soil from the wheelbarrow.
I had a lot plants that were torn out from lack of proper planning. I had this many carrots that were taken out:


This looks like a bounty but actually was a failure. When I planted my seeds, I just put in as many seeds as I could. I didn’t take the time to carefully put in a few seeds in each area as directed. I thought that as the plants grew, I would have thinned them out. I didn’t. I really don’t like taking out the little seedlings. I feel a weird guilt about it. What I realized then was that if I had done it correctly from the start then I would have had an amazing bounty of carrots to eat throughout the summer! What I decided to do was use this as a life lesson:



This concept has already helped me.  Another way to look at is like this:











I am currently in the awesome process of figuring out what is the best direction for my shop. I have had some amazing conversations recently about it and can’t wait to jump in with these endeavors. Like my garden bed, I am learning that I need to do things correctly from the start with this as well.
Here is what it looks like now.
I moved a bunch of the leaves over to nestle into the garden space and help give some texture to the pure soiled areas. Not sure if this is correct, but it felt right to do for some reason. I also used the proper hardware this time when putting it back together. This will help immensely in keeping it together for another year. (I guess now I need to make some really bright tags to stand up so that the snow plow doesn’t take it on me:)
Have you ever had a gardening moment that made you look at life a little differently?


P.S. I also have a new desktop background available in the above tab!

Free Desktop Organizer

I have been wanting to create a free download for awhile now. I have created a desktop organizer for myself and thought that this may be enjoyable for others. I will be updating the photos throughout the seasons. This particular background is of the sunflowers in my yard that I started from seed!

Here is what it looks like on my on desktop:






Just click on the photo below to take you to the larger image. Once there, just copy the photo into your desktop folder on your computer.






This is a free download. Please use it for personal use.
Thanks and enjoy!


If you are interested when there are new designs, I will be posting about them in my newsletter. To sign up for this just apply here:
Amateur Homesteader Newsletter

The Garden of Smalls

This summer I grew a garden that had some success and many fails. Lets just say it is hard for me to thin out plants that I start from seed and the plants were not able to fully develop.


I started a bunch of things from scratch.
























This is a shot from the middle of summer.



















We mostly ate tomatoes from the garden. This is one of my favorite parts of growing. We also constantly cook with the herbs. These grew great and am very happy with these plants!

By not thinning, things stay small though. I don’t know what I was thinking by doing this. Next year I will make more of an effort to make this better. I have so many carrots growing right now, but they are pretty small. The peppers in the below photo are actually supposed to be small though…:) The garlic grew pretty well because I grew them in some containers that my Father gave to me.











































I also canned some items this summer. I got this at a local market because I failed at growing my cucumbers…





















Gardening for me this year was more of a therapy. I did not give me an overwhelming amount of food, but it did act as a great way of decompressing.

Sewing Studio

Recently I reorganized my studio and it is getting even more streamlined! I love this studio space! It doesn’t have the cozy feeling of the Vintage Trailer Studio, but it is way more efficient! I have a few tables set up. Two house my sewing machine stations. I use my serger for finishing seams, my vintage Singer is set up with white thread and set for basting stitches for muslin work and my Janome is my most used. This table has a larger work zone where I can have larger projects.

Next to this I have my Lobster box/shelving unit with fabrics that I am currently working with. The top shelf has pieces that are cut and ready to be sewn into bags at a later date.


Next to this is my shelving unit that has most of my supplies, more fabric, paper cutter, scale, and products that are for sale.
I happily have my ironing board always set up! My last apartment I had to break it down after use. I love having it ready to go! It is amazing how much ironing is part of sewing. This photo also shows my painting in the background that was from my senior thesis show from when I went to the Maine College of Art. Even though I haven’t been painting as much, I like to remind myself of where I started with my creative projects. I will paint again some day, but right now sewing really has me energized!
I have a great table set up for cutting as well. To the right I have my handy dandy post-it note collection that helps me break down what I am working on, what needs to be done and directions that I should take. It is a little OCD, but it really helps to break down things into manageable items. I have to say that I LOVE to cross things off after completing them. I get way more done because of this!

Off of my studio is also a really amazing little space. I sometimes go here to sketch, read or take a nap. I call it my “Sleeping Porch.” I live in an old home and wonder if this was why it was created. Prior to air conditioning units, these rooms were great for sleeping in during the hot months.


I have it themed with items that I would have had in my trailer studio (which is currently being stored at my Mom’s house).













Part of my reorganizing was making spaces that really help my creative process. This area is where I am putting works in process. It really helps to have a permanent place for these items instead of being in a pile on the floor or table.
I also have a box that has items that need to be shipped. When you sell something on Etsy, there is a lovely Cha-ching sound that you hear on your phone. I never thought I would get such a joy in hearing this random sound. It is a reminder to me that what I am doing in this space is interesting for other people.


There is a lot of dedication in spending hours in a space with your own direction. It is a major part of me though and I feel more like myself when I am in here.
Do you have a creative space that you enjoy?