Wednesday, July 30, 2014

In The Making: The Teacher Foldover Handbag

Purchased from the same estate sale where I purchased my vintage Brother sewing machine, this "teacher" tote was a real gem to find! Only $3 on sale the very last day of the sale, I don't know how it wasn't scooped up sooner. I knew exactly what I wanted to do with it as soon as I saw it: a large foldover handbag. The arrow up makes it even more special. Indicating that the wearer of the bag is indeed a teacher, the arrow is exposed when the flap is in the upright position.

Pairing the tote with other recycled materials, I used grey leather that was given to me by my mother, and the leather is scraps she got from an upholstery company when I was just a girl, using the leather for Girl Scout projects when she was our troop leader. I must have been 4 or 5 when I joined the girl scouts, so this leather has been with me for many many moves and years. I salvaged the straps to use for the interior pocket, along with fabric that looks like the game Twister. The strap is made from upholstery fabric that was also donated to me about a month ago from a local upholstery shop. 

So any teacher friends you have, please share this bag with them. It's for sale in my Etsy shop for only $65 here. Hope you are all having a wonderful week. I'm currently updating new listings in my shop. Check it out for new handbags and more!
Outfit details: 
Shirt, handmade by me
Shoes: thrifted, vintage

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Vacation in Navarre, Florida

Three full days on the water. Swimming, boating, volleyball, exploring, and fun with friends. Oh wow. It was phenomenal. I'm still tired and recovering from one of the best vacations this year. 

Matt and I drove over to Navarre, Florida, Thursday morning. It's located between Pensacola and Destin, and we stayed at a condo on the inter-coastal waterway. The gulf of Florida in this area is on a small island across from us. We were on the land right on the other side of that island. Being on this inter-coastal waterway is a tad safer than the oceanfront properties that aren't insurable to the property owners, because of the dangers the oceans pose. It's crazy to imagine the island being potentially leveled every hurricane season. 

With his best friends from high school joining us, we had so much fun. I can't believe it took being together for almost four years to meet Matt's best friends! It was great to put voices to faces I'd seen and heard all kinds of crazy stories about. Some were local, and others driving five hours from Alabama. Meeting in the middle, so to speak, it was the perfect distance away from Jacksonville to feel like a vacation, yet still in sunny Florida.

On our first day, just three of us there in the afternoon, we launched the boat and went down to Pensacola Beach, stopping to eat at a seafood restaurant. A quick ride back 'home' and I freshened up to prepare for my first podcast, Montreal Sauce, where I was the featured guest. As the podcast was being recorded, me in front of a laptop in the dining room, two more guests arrived. There was just enough time after that to stay up late chatting and enjoying ourselves. 

On day two, we woke early to get out on the boat, and ride down to a little private beach on the island of Pensacola Beach, searching for stingrays, fish, and other wildlife. GoPro video coming soon! We went swimming and fooled around some more. Lunch was delicious food at Pensacola beach, again, at a place with the most marvelous view, perched up on top of the hill overlooking the bay. Gotta love a restaurant where it's okay to just wear a bathing suit top. Late night grilling and card games capped off our Friday. 

The next day, Saturday, little toddlers joined us for a trip to Destin, where we took over our own little private island in the middle of the waterway. Swimming and a super bumpy storm filled ride home got me scared for the first time in a very long time, but we made it home safely, and with just enough time to swim in the pool, and explore an abandoned boat off our dock. Dinner and cards again, then bedtime. Three days just flew by!

The disconnect from technology is a must for a vacation like this. The days just blurred together with good conversation, fun, swimming, more swimming, and beautiful views that I hope will be burnt in my memory. It was a relief to just shut off my brain and enjoy the scenery.

Now back to reality and work. Hope you are all enjoying your week! New listings in the shop coming today and tomorrow.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Weekend Getaway

Matt and I are spending a much needed extended weekend in Pensacola, Florida. We arrived yesterday, early afternoon, after a quick five hour trip west across interstate highway 10, Matt and I met up with his best buds from high school. Our evening was spent on the water, traveling from Navarre to Pensacola Beach for dinner. The pontoon boat offered a beautiful view and it felt so wonderful to get out on the water.
Check out my Instagram this weekend for beach and water pictures. While I vowed I wouldn't spend the weekend using too much technology, but I can't resist photos of the beautiful waterfront out the window of the condo where we are staying. Now time to go fishing.. Hope you all enjoy your weekend!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Our Trip To Ginnie Springs

Sunday last, Matt and I packed our bags for a quick 24 hour trip to Ginnie Springs, in High Springs, Florida, about an hour and a half from our doorstep. Our friends, Hillary and Jason, picked us up bright and early, we loaded up their SUV, and hit the road. By noon, we were filling up our rafts, setting up camp, and getting ready to jump in the water. 
The best part about our unconventional jobs (Hillary and Jason also work the same Saturday market that I do, they own Fresh Jax), is that arriving on a Sunday, everyone else is packing up and heading home. By lunch time, the party is winding down for the other park guests, and we're just starting our vacation. Around 5pm, it beginning to clear out, and by dinner, it's desolate and we're swimming for a second time, the park is close to empty. Oh, and did I mention, we are camping right on the river
Aside from camping and the amazing river, Ginnie Springs is a natural spring, with canyons beneath the surface, if you're reading this and haven't watched the video at the beginning of this post, scroll back up and watch it. It's amazing how we're just floating along, and then a scuba diver pops up from the underwater canyons below. 
After sunset, when the river cleared out, and the last swimmers went back to camp, which I'm pretty sure was less than 20 people in the entire park besides us, we could really see the clear water, and just how terrifying the holes in the ground were. Terrifying and breathtaking at the same time. It's crazy to see the hole below the surface of the water, and know that people opt to swim down there with tanks of oxygen. Maybe someday I'll be brave enough to dive down into the underwater caverns. But until then, I'll stay near the surface, where I can breathe on my own, and dive down with a snorkel and face mask. We camped out, enjoyed veggie burgers, brats for dinner cooked over the fire, and then woke up to another beautiful day. 
Although our trip was short, and we soon had to pack up to head back to civilization, Matt still had his morning work, and we laughed as he walked around aimlessly to try to find a signal with his laptop's mobile Wifi. I made friends with a chubby squirrel that mistook my camera's focus sound for food. He was silly. And it was by far my favorite camping trip. I can't wait to go back.

ALSO! For more info on Ginnie Springs, visit their website, and for more video from our trip, check out the video Matt shot for work, HERE.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

VIDEO: Shelby's 1st Birthday Celebration

From our birthday bash at Riverside Arts Market last weekend. We had so much fun, and thank you to everyone that came out just to see us! We're so happy and thankful for our support from all of our customers and fans. We were happy to give back to you all with a little giveaway and raffle of three sewing machines, jewelry from Cribbledy Goodness, a purse by Sally Ann, and some wallets from Curiously Clever. It was so wonderful to give back and eat cake.

Watch the video above! Thanks to Matt for producing the video, Liberty Bakery for the delicious cake, and music by one of our favorite indie bands, Ponderosa. And extra special thanks to my BFF, Sarah, the talent behind Cribbledy Goodness (older readers may recognize her from our numerous craft shows we've done together) for sticking by me all day, holding down the fort. 

We love you all and hope you follow along with our company for many years to come. We're here because of you. Without you, supporting small businesses like ours, none of this is possible. While it was the boutique's first birthday, our company actually turns five this year, officially, but we've been constantly evolving and changing over the years. We started just on Etsy, and shows here and there. Then changed a bit from what we made, handbags, accessories, lingerie, back to handbags, clothing, and more. Shelby has really helped us brand ourselves as a little one woman operation, with me behind the wheel, and a support system of people behind me helping steer along, finding our niche and our perfect little corner of the handmade market. I think we're finally there. And it feels great. So thank you. Thank you thank you thank you. Again. Haha. We're ever so grateful.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Calendar Hobo Handbag & Handmade Gifts

My favorite thing. Gift giving. There's no feeling like watching someone open a gift with so much thought behind it. Even when I was a small child, I'd wait to open my gifts until everyone opened what I'd gotten them. To me, it's more rewarding than receiving a gift. Plus, it's even better when it's a homemade gift. When that gift giving time comes around, I've always done my best to make it special. Whether it's a handmade gift made by myself or a local artist, purchased on Etsy, or even a thoughtful repurposed find, it's always so much more thoughtful to make it count. Well, yesterday was my sister's birthday, and I've been planning this one for a while.

I bought this calendar tea towel, above and below, on Etsy from Dead Old Lady (seriously, best Etsy shop name ever, right?) a few months ago, with the intent of making this purse for Rachael. The secret's out, she was born in 1986. She's getting old! (Totally dating myself since I'm older than her)… Any who…  Since she's a full-time college student on the GI Bill, she's on a tight fixed income, and she doesn't buy herself much these days. What better gift for a sister that loves handbags, than making one for her!
Before sitting down at my machine, I gathered the materials to make the purse: a vintage yellow zipper, purchased at a local antique store, a piece of vinyl from a garment bag I bought during my last trip to Michigan, and a pillowcase Rachael gave me, upholstery scraps donated from a friend, and of course, the tea towel. Time to sew!
Now here's the kicker, the interior pocket. Inspired by my mom, who when I was a kid, was the queen of embroidery using just a plain ol' sewing machine. She'd monogram towels, our little handmade purses and totes, free hand sew (with a machine) our name on everything, it was awesome. She'd also make the most intricate wall hangings using scrap fabric, stitching everything from buildings to little people, much of it was designed using just her machine and appliqué. I wonder if I could get my hands on some photos of her work to show you all (making a mental note now!). There's one in particular I want so bad, of a woman getting out of the bath tub. Just her backside is showing, one leg out of the tub. Each bathroom tile was a separate piece of fabric, with respect to a 3 dimensional view, and stitched down with zig zag, the small details simply stitched free hand. I thought of her when I was making this pocket and decided to improvise and try something I'd never done.

I stitched "HBD RMK!", Happy Birthday, Rachael Mae Keiser!" A nice little message she'll see every time she puts something in the pocket and looks in her bag, a permanent gift tag so to speak. While admittedly, I should have used interfacing to prevent the little bit of gathering on the pocket (I'm not perfect after all), it was a great little added feature. And she loved it. 

This little bit of stitching is simple if your machine is older, simply release the presser foot tension. It's a button at the top of the machine, in line with the main shaft and needle. It releases the pressure from the presser foot while still holding the fabric in place. It's great for darning and free hand embroidery. Old machine are so much better than the new ones, because the new ones don't have this feature. First, I used a fabric pen to write out the letters, then stitched it with my machine and make the pocket, and attached it to one side of the lining. Bam! Simple as that. It's all in the little details, huh?
Whatcha think? Rachael loved it. And it's perfectly sized for books and notepads, so hopefully it will make her classes a little more enjoyable, and give her a little added pep in her step when she walks through campus. I'd like to think some little college girl will stop her someday soon and say, "Oh my! Where did you get that fabulous handbag?!" To which she responds, "My sister designed it for me." :)
Happy birthday, Rachael! Matt and I took her to dinner last night, where she opened it over a cocktail and appetizer, while waiting for her New York Strip, me waiting for my seared tofu and finger potatoes. It was a great evening. 

So next time you're pondering what to do for a loved one, expand your possibilities and go for something handmade, make something, or do something out of the ordinary. It will be so much more special! I promise.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Shelby's First Birthday

Last weekend, on Saturday, we celebrated Shelby's 1st birthday at our weekly market, Riverside Arts Market. So I'd gotten the question the last few days… "Well, you've had Shelby longer than a year, how is it her birthday?" And I'll tell you. We celebrated the year we've been operating as a mobile boutique, not including all that time we spent getting her ready. She'd be approaching two if that were the case. But she wasn't truly "Sally Ann's Shelby" until she was finished, and that's what we're counting.

And how was the party you ask? It was amazing! We had a blast, and the day just flew right by us. Enjoy some highlights. My best friend, Sarah, was in town from Augusta, Georgia to help me make sure everything went smoothly. While things still were crazy, she was there to help me stay sane while her husband and Matt were off wandering around the market. Good times, for sure!

We shared a cake with our customers and supporters in the shape of the camper from Liberty Bakery,  the camper was a vanilla pound cake, and the bottom heart a super yummy carrot cake. We also raffled off three sewing machines, jewelry from Cribbledy Goodness, wallets from Curiously Clever, a handbag from our Cut Here Collection, and more of our own work. It was grand. Truly. 
Our favorite 8-year-old, Ella, and her first real sewing machine that she won in the raffle. She was so happy and I'm so excited to hear what she makes out of it. One of the best things about the day was being able to give back to those that support me locally. Even though sewing machines have almost nothing to do directly with the things I make, other than I use them, I want to be a catalyst for inspiring other to have their hand at sewing. Inspire sewing. Inspire recycling, creativity, and so much more. The smile on Ella's face and talking to her about sewing makes all the handwork worth it!
Thank you to everyone that came out and had some delicious cake (surprise, it was vegan!) and purchased some handmade goods. Even the new faces we met that entered the raffle, it was so very refreshing that almost all the winners were names I didn't recognize. New customers and people learning about our little business just makes me so happy. We're currently editing the video to share with you all, and fingers crossed, I'm doing my best to get it up by the end of the week.

After that, and when things get back to normal, new things coming. Big shop update. I'm super pumped to also share with you a new collection of handbags made from two things: a vintage SAKS Fifth Avenue Blazer and a vintage carry on faux leather bag. It's going to be perfection!

Monday, July 7, 2014

Quick Fix: Serging A Crew Neck T-shirt

How many shirts do you have that you just love but never wear because the high crew neck? Perosnally, I can't stand 'em. I'll buy the shirt because I'm at a concert, show, involved in an event, such as the One Spark tee above, and I buy it, wear it once, and then it's lost in the pits of my dresser, with all the other band tees I can't seem to shed because of sentimentality. Well, here's a solution: FIX IT!
For those of you that sew out there, I'm sure you've cut up a t-shirt or two, but your standard sewing machine just doesn't cut it for many things you want to do. This is where an overlock machine becomes the best purchase ever for changing your wardrobe. Rip through a side seam like that *snaps fingers*, and bam, better fit. The serger uses 2-4 cones of thread instead of just one cones of thread and a bobbin like your standard machine. It will give you a headache if you don't read the manual, but it's worth it. And I'm the girl that literally never ever reads manuals. Like ever! But this time, it's worth it and I've actually read 90% of my serger's manual. 
Simply cut off the neck of the t-shirt, and cut off the sleeves. A wider neck or more narrow shoulders can be achieved by cutting a wider neck or cutting more towards the center line from when removing the sleeves (look closely at the top right corner of the above pic at how I cut off a few inches past the shoulder). But this is all up to you, and can be fun to play around with the fit you desire. As soon as you cut off the neckline right around the original neckline, you'll see a huge difference in the fit, as the tension from holding that shape is gone.
Next, serge the edges. I took the shirt up a few inches, and serged the arm holes. I didn't change the side seams one bit, since it was already a great fit and nice and snug. 
Seriously, go buy yourself a serger and go nuts. It's worth every penny. You'll save so many clothes from the Goodwill pile! I guarantee it.