Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Elle's Coloring Calendar

Elle joined in on the handmade fun this Christmas by making gifts for the grandparents and aunts/uncles. Even though we're past Christmas, it's an easy fun January project for little ones!

I designed a calendar cover and printed one out on white card stock for each calendar we wanted to make. Elle colored pictures (she was in a turtle drawing mood at the time) on the back side of the covers, upside down, which became the picture for the month of January. I used a Microsoft Word calendar template that is one horizontal page per month and typed in federal holidays and family dates like birthdays and anniversaries. I printed out calendar pages for each month, put the colored cover on top and took them into Kinkos. They added a glossy black back cover, a clear plastic front cover, hole punched them (so you can hang it on the wall), and spiral bound them for $5 each. As Elle spends time with those family members, she'll color a new picture each month to add to the calendar so that they'll be able to see her progress over the course of the year.

Host/Hostess Gift

We had 3 Christmas parties to go to this year. It's especially nice to be invited to share such a momentous occasion with friends, so I like to make a handmade hostess gift to bring with us... something just a little more special than a bottle of wine... you know, something that requires a bit more thought. This year Martha did the thinking though... Martha Stewart that is. She made bloody mary mix on her show one day a few weeks ago. It looked delicious and I thought it'd be a nice Christmas morning follow up to the Christmas Eve parties we went to. I'd love to take credit for it, but this is Martha's picture of it. I did find those exact bottles at TJ Maxx, made Martha's recipe, and printed the labels from Martha's template, so the finished product did look just like that.
I wrapped the bottle in a Christmas tea towel, stuck a pin in the bottom to secure it around the base of the bottle, and tied the tag around the neck of the bottle with a ribbon. We picked up a small bottle (not the airline size, but not full size) of Gray Goose vodka on the way to the party to give with it and had a thoughtful yummy hostess gift for under $20!

Handmade Christmas Show and Tell

I made quite a few Christmas gifts this year, but I also let other handmade crafters/artists do some of the work. I found some great gifts for friends and family, so it's show and tell time!

I drew my sister-in-law's name for Christmas, so she received this pair of silver hoop earrings from my very talented booth neighbor at a recent craft show, Modern Bird.
My SIL introduced me to these little treats, wood wick candles. They sound like mini fireplaces crackling away when you burn them! Smokey Mountain Scents made her this coffee scented one.
My Doug drew my little brother's name for Christmas. Marcus is into Geocaching, so my Doug hunted down this great little site, the Atwell Family, that designs and is involved in the production of custom geocoins. We picked out a few of their designs, and although I'm not exactly sure what you're supposed to do with them, they're pretty cool looking and I think my brother will get a kick out of them.
I won this super cute "smappy" on Whosies and Whatnots blog giveaway. I never win anything and I couldn't believe my luck to win an adorable doll with a sling and baby none the less! It was a perfect stocking stuffer for Elle, and she absolutely loves her!
Also on Elle's list of handmade gifts received was a pink spotted flying cow from the Flying Zoo. She saw the Flying Zoo mobiles at the Handmade Holiday Bazaar and completely flipped out! She was so excited playing with them all, so Monika made her a special pink and white cow and we hung it up over her bed so she woke up to it Christmas morning. I took some video of her reaction, if I ever figure out how to move video from my camera to my laptop I'll post it. Elle affectionately named the cow Louie.
And I treated myself to some handmade goodness in the way of a skinny scarf from Picasso's Moon who had a booth next to me at Atomic Holiday Bazaar. I'm only a little bit bummed that it hasn't been cold enough to wear it yet here in sunny Florida.
I hope you had a wonderful season of giving and that handmade gifts will be on your getting and giving lists throughout the year!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Featured Etsy Seller: Spotted Cow Soaps

Handmade soaps not only leave your skin feeling fresh and pampered, they look lovely in your soap dish... much prettier than those pea green bars!
Handmade soaps make really wonderful gifts! I received a set of "sushi" soaps packaged in a take out container for Christmas 2 years ago and absolutely loved those! But my favorite use for handmade soaps is as party favors. I had some soaps cut in the shape of cupcakes made for favors for Elle's first birthday (since all the little ones were 12 months or younger, it was more for the adults), we had clear birthday cake scented soaps with black music notes floating in the center made for the adult favors for her 2nd birthday (I had separate favors for the kiddies), and we used bath fizzy's as favors at a Welcome to the World baby shower I helped plan.

Spotted Cow Soaps is the shop for all things soap related. This Vermont crafter not only creates 100% pure and natural soaps, she has tons of products to choose from! Spend a minute browsing her shop and you'll find some limited edition soaps (the peppermint one sounds so refreshing... that's got to be my top pick!), sugar scrubs that look good enough to eat, bath fizzies, body lotions, and even some soaps with a loofah submerged in the bar. Add this shop to your Etsy favorites for the next time you need a special handmade gift for the person in your life that deserves some pampering!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Did you know...

that a law will go into effect on February 10, 2009 that will force Elle Belle and nearly all other handmade crafters of children and baby items to go out of business?

My understanding of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 is that it requires that all products (toys, strollers, clothing, diapers, slings… ALL products) intended for children under the age of 12 be tested for lead and other harmful contaminates. Once the product is found to be free of or within the minimum allowable level of contaminates, a certificate will be issued for all future runs of that particular product, and must be included with the product at the point of sale. Every material used in the product must be individually tested and every variance in color must be tested as well. For example, an Elle Belle embroidered sling would require testing on the fabric, the thread used to sew the sling, each color of thread used in the embroidered design, the rings, and the label I sew into the seem. If the manufacturers of the materials are required to supply a certificate for their item (like the rings from Sling Rings that I use in the construction of my slings) their certificate would not be sufficient for my use in certifying Elle Belle slings… every manufacturer must obtain their own testing and certificate for the completed product. The testing is to be conducted by a 3rd party and is expensive. I’ve seen estimates from other sling makers who have determined that the cost to test and certify just one sling would be between $300 and $2,500. If the law goes into effect, on Feb 10th, every non certified children’s product will be considered hazardous material and can not be sold. Anyone found selling uncertified items will be subject to excessive fines (I’ve heard as much as 100,000) and even potentially jail time.

Sooooo, what will we do? In the hopes that the law will be revised, to take into consideration the small business before it goes into affect, you can reach out to your representatives to shed some light on the issue. If you don’t already know, here are the links to find out who they are: and Senator:

What follows is the open letter Etsy has written regarding this issue. I revised it just a bit to fit the perspective of it coming from me. You can just copy and paste it if you don’t feel like writing your own.

This is an opportunity to see what a grassroots movement can do, and to be an active participant in our government.

Dear Congressman,
I am among over 200,000 artists, crafters and vintage collectors that sell their items on Many of us make toys and other items for children. Made with love, care, the human touch and—often—all-natural materials, these items bring the consumer marketplace back to a personal level where customers can chat with toy makers and even create custom items for specific needs. Etsy members are part of a larger movement that seeks to creatively provide people across the globe with alternatives to mass-produced goods. Many of us will be forced to close our businesses on Feb. 10th because of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008. What follows is an open letter written by Etsy in hopes that something can be done to ensure that small businesses and micro enterprises are being taken into account with this legislation.
Many Etsy sellers are work-at-home-moms and dads. Among them are crafters with the skill and heart to preserve traditions of toy-making or to innovate their own methods of making children's items with a DIY (Do-It-Yourself) hands-on philosophy. You can meet an Etsy toy maker and seller by watching this five minute video portrait (all of our videos are published under open Creative Commons, so please feel free to repost). Amber Dusick, aka and Los Angeles-based toy-maker/work-at-home-mama, is an artist who would be impacted by this proposed legislation if it is enacted. Amber uses sustainably harvested woods, non-toxic paints and beeswax along with her wood-burning tool to create simple, natural wooden toys. Her imagery is reminiscent of a child's crayon drawing come to life in wood.
Amber, like other Etsy toy makers and sellers, is fearful that as a sole proprietor she will not be able to afford the stricter regulations of the Act; the cost of testing and certification is likely beyond her means. She told Etsy, “I'd be more than happy to have each of my toys tested, if it wasn't so cost prohibitive. It is the COST involved in testing that will shut us down, it isn't that anyone refuses to have their work tested."
The Small Business Administration defines "small business" as under 500 employees. Most of our Etsy members are either sole proprietors or maybe a family or studio of friends working together. Many craftspeople on Etsy have told us that they could be put out of business if forced to comply with the proposed legislation. This is the painful irony bound up in the CPSIA.
Our members would like to better understand how the CPSIA took into account these smaller businesses operating with fewer resources for testing and compliance. We believe Etsy artisans are pro-testing and pro-safety; the problem is the prohibitive certification costs relative to their small businesses' incomes. Our community is concerned that this legislature disregards small businesses in its attempts to regulate large corporate entities.
The U.S. House and Senate passed the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (the CPSIA), and on August 14, 2008, President Bush signed the Act into law. Further information on the Act is available at the CPSC website at and helpful FAQs are located

Monday, December 15, 2008

Happy Mini Monday!

I'm busily chipping away at the 58 beanbags I need to get out the door by this Saturday (that's 116 embroidered squares!) and had a nice little Monday surprise... I'm the mini Monday feature on the Etsy Bloggers Street Team blog today :) Check me out at

Friday, December 12, 2008

Tampa Bay Area Peeps...

come out to the most rockin' craft show in Florida, the Atomic Holiday Bazaar! Make a left when you come in the doors and Elle Belle is the last booth in the corner along the front wall. Stop by to say hello and check those little ones off your Christmas list!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Feeling Toasty!

I really love this idea for a cutesy thoughtful gift! My Doug says it's a little kooky... but I think that's because he is a native Floridian and didn't grow up in IL (a.k.a. the frozen tundra) like I did. He has never been awoken in the middle of the night by the pain of toes so cold they've turned white and threaten to fall off like little chunks of ice. He's never, in his sleep, wrestled with mounds of blankets to get sweaty wool socks off his feet. If he had, maybe he would appreciate the warm... but not too warm... comfort of a hot water bottle at the foot of his bed.

I will admit though that there are a couple hang ups with grandma's hot water bottle. For one, that big lump of pink rubber is just sort of creepy looking for some reason, and secondly rubber is not exactly cuddly. Problem solved!

I made this cover for a hot water bottle with scraps I had in my studio. The outside is Minky (if you're not familiar with Minky you MUST ask your crafty friend who has a baby. She'll know all about the softest/can't put it down/cuddliest fabric ever!), it's lined with satin, and I embroidered that adorable bundled up toast design from Urban Threads on it.

Maybe I'll let my Doug try it out when the temperatures finally get below 50 around here... maybe!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Wishing you a very merry 2009!

It's Christmas card time! I love getting Christmas cards in the mail! It's so nice to see a hand written piece of mail in the box now and again (not just that hand writing look font those tricky marketers use to get you to open their junk mail!) and it feels good to make the cut among your friends... after all, they did have to add yours to the total number of cards purchased, hunt down a pen and your address, and spend 42 cents on you. I used to take the time to write a Christmas letter every year, but now that I have this blog, a personal website, and a FaceBook page, I think a letter would be Doug, Stacey, & Elle overload. So lil sprout greetings made this photo card for us this year (and did it really quickly... in case your Christmas cards are still at the bottom of your to-do list):

To all my bloggy friends, you would make my cut... I'd totally spend 42 cents on you if I had your address! Thank you for reading my ramblings so that I'm not just out here talking to myself. I hope you'll have a fabulous holiday and an even better 2009!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

First EVER Elle Belle Blog Give Away!


I used a random number generator thingie and it picked the comment # that matched with Brooke's comment. Congratulations Brooke, you won the Elle Belle Original Tag Blanket!

Thank you all for stopping by to leave a comment. I know there were a ton of blogs to visit and I appreciate that you took that extra effort to check out my shop! I hope you'll be back when you need something for the little ones in your life and that you'll visit my blog every now and then.

Welcome Sew Mama Sew visitors (and my usuals of course too)! I'm hoping to make it a bit easier to add some handmade goodness to your holiday, so I'm participating in the Give Away Day and giving away this Minky satin crinkle corner tag blanket. All you have to do is check out my Etsy shop and leave a comment here on my blog about your favorite Elle Belle item. I'll pick a winner at midnight tonight and post it here. Good Luck!
• Hidden crinkle material gives one corner a curious crunchy sound & feel • Built with unbeatably super soft genuine Minky and satin, they are oh so snuggly • 12 distinct ribbons compliment the fabric and add a variety of texture and color • At approximately 14x14 inches square (not including the ribbon), they’re just the right size for the diaper bag and convenient for car seat playtime

Elle Belle tag blankets are designed to sooth little ones while engaging them in tactile, auditory, and visual, exploration. They are the perfect cozy alternative to the larger crib sized comforts they know and love. Will they be jealous of your super cute handmade gift at the next shower? ©

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Elle's Hideout

I figure I'm pretty safe in assuming Elle won't be reading my blog (Elle is my 3 year old daughter in case you haven't been following along). So I'm going to post about her Christmas gift, which is a project that's been on my "some day I'd really like to make one of those" list for ages now. Don't you love the feeling of checking something off your list that's been there for too long?! I do!! Here you have it, Elle's Hideout:

I went with a light weight dark denim for the big pannels. JoAnn's was having thier black Friday and Saturday sales, so I had to wait in line forever, but it was 50% off + another 20%, which adds up when you have to buy 4 1/2 yards! The support rod pockets are a cutesy polka dot fabric. I embroidered "Elle's Hideout" in light pink across the top of the door and there are two little velcro closures to keep the door closed. It's pretty large, there's about a 4' x 4' square of space inside... plenty of room for a couple stowe aways.

I still have some work to do on the PVC supports. The pattern I have says to "wipe away the ink on the PVC tubing with acetone" The only acetone I know of is in nail polish remover, so I gave that a go with no luck. Even if I could get the ink off though, the rubber caps on the ends are off white, so the white tubes with off white caps would bug me anyway, so I'm working on another solution. My Doug suggested that we use plastic paint to paint the PVC, I may go that route, but I was also thinking colored tape, like what they use on hoola hoops, may be a little easier than paint??? Or I could make little fabric sleeves for them, but that seems like more work than necessary. What do you think?

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Colorful Treasury

Check out this great treasury MonogrammingbyTammy snagged (she's got a great sale going on right now). She included my count and spell beanbags. Love how colorful everything is!
Click on the treasury to check it out in person, the more people who click on items from it and leave comments the higher up it's ranked.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Featured Etsy Seller: Storybeader

An admittedly frustrated writer has found inspiration in the beaded pieces she makes. A love for writing and penchant for colorful jewelry is evident in the Etsy shop, Storybeader. Deb, the Storybeader, feels inspired to write by each piece she makes and includes a haiku written specifically for your piece with your purchase.

This sun catcher is my favorite! My Mom always hung a crystal in the dining room window. The mini rainbows that danced around the room during warm sunny mornings were a sweet way to greet the day!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Sneak Peek - Tooth Fairy Pillows

Introducing, Elle Belle's newest addition, the cute, the cuddly, the keeper of toothy treasures, the bearer of fairy bounty...
The Tooth Fairy Pillow! How cute are these little guys?!
The braces are stitched with metallic thread
The pocket on the back serves tripple duty - tooth storage, Fairy pay out, and panties for a little tooth butt... doesn't it look like panties???... okay maybe it's just me.
Stop by the Elle Belle shop next Monday to get a Tooth Fairy pillow for your favorite toothless little person!

Friday, November 21, 2008

An easy to make, stylish, useful, inexpensive gift!

What more could you ask for?!

This is a busy time of the year for Elle Belle, and I needed a spot to keep my to-do lists visible, calendar pages posted, reference thread charts, post flyers from shows I'm scheduled to sell at, and maybe even glean a bit of inspiration from. So I decided cork boards would do the trick. I put together a little tutorial of sorts below, make some for yourself to stay organized during this festive time of year, or for a friend who could use a little handmade goodness.

Here's what you need: Cork (I picked up a package of 4 12x12 cork tiles at a big box store for about $8), scissors, spray adhesive, a stapler (if you have a mini one that uses smaller staples so they don't poke out the other side of the cork tile that might save your fingers in the long run), some ribbon, the little adhesive thingies that come with the cork tiles to mount it to the wall, and fabric (I used some scraps I had left over from the Birdie bag I made).

Step 1 - Cover the cork: Cut your fabric about an inch and a half bigger than your cork tiles (mine was smaller because I working with scraps). Lightly coat one side of the tile with spray adhesive and lay your fabric over the tile. Smooth the fabric out with your hand to remove any wrinkles. Flip the tile over and staple the excess fabric around the back.

Step 2 - Embellish: I laid the three covered tiles on the floor in the order that I wanted to hang them and laid pieces of coordinating ribbon on them in a pattern that I thought made a nice over all design and would also be functional for holding notes and such. Staple the ribbon onto the back of the tile.

Step 3 - Finish: If I were giving these as a gift I would cut a piece of card stock about half and inch smaller than the tiles and glue it onto the back to cover all the staples and rough edges. Apply the adhesive squares that come with the tiles (I only needed one in each corner and one in the center). Get out your level and stick away! Or, tie them up with some string and add a handmade tag!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Mini Felt Stockings

I have the cutest little white feather Christmas tree that I display on my table at holiday craft shows. I've been using it just to decorate my space, but it draws so much attention I wanted to figure out a way to use it for product display.

So I made a few little felt stockings to hang on the tree that are the perfect size for the chubby crayons. They were really fun and super quick to make!

I found a this template for a mini stocking on Martha Stewart's website, printed it, cut it out, pinned it to some felt, and cut around it. Then I pinned some ribbons on, pinned two pieces of the felt together, straight stitched around it in a contrasting color and waalaa! I think they would be really cute if you used pinking shears to cut the "seam allowance" after you stitched them together, but I can't find my pinking shears anywhere...

Now my only concern is that I'm going to have to keep saying "the stockings aren't for sale, just the crayons" :)

Friday, November 14, 2008

Holiday Happenings

Tis the season for lots of holiday craft shows and new products for the Mommies and little ones on your Christmas list!

Visit Elle Belle in person at the following events in the Tampabay area:
Nov. 22 - Mommy and Me Charity Fund Raiser: Serrano's Maternity and Infant Apparel 401 S. Parsons Ave. Suite F, Brandon
Nov. 30 - Holizaar: Studio @ 620, St. Pete
Dec. 5 - Holiday Shuffle: St. Pete Shuffle Board Courts 7pm-10pm
Dec. 14 - Atomic Holiday Bazaar: Sarasota Municipal Auditorium
Jan. 10 - New Year New Baby Maternity Open House: Look Who's Kickin' Ultrasounds, South Tampa

I debuted some new products at the Handmade Holiday Bazaar and will be taking pictures this weekend so that I can list them the beginning of next week. A custom banner, the newest addition to the tattoo inspired line of slings, and a super cute new embroidered tooth fairy pillow all coming just in time for Christmas!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Handmade Holiday Bazaar Wrap Up

So I’ve been a vendor in many many many craft shows since the inception of Elle Belle. The vast majority of the shows are put on by big organizations or promoters, and not by people who are crafters/artists or have ever been a vendor themselves. So, I decided to try my hand at organizing and promoting a vendor centric show. I partnered with a vendor I met at a “mass manufactured” show last year and pitched the idea of hosting a new brand of craft show to the owner of a local fabric shop, Fiberologie. She was excited about the idea and we made the arrangements to transform Fiberologie’s parking lot into the Handmade Holiday Bazaar. It was a labor of love that came together last Sunday. Among the various vendor centric approaches we took, was a survey we distributed to each vendor the morning of the show and asked them to provide their feedback (anonymously) by the end of the day. I found quite a bit of it interesting, not only with regard to the Handmade Holiday Bazaar, but also just about craft shows in general. Even if you weren’t a vendor or didn’t go to HHB, I hope you’ll take a minute to peruse the feedback and weigh in on the poll on the right margin. So here you have it - the good, the … well not too, but for the sake of this little pun… the bad, and the crafty:

The survey consisted of 16 questions in “strongly agree, agree, disagree, strongly disagree” format, 5 essay style questions, and a place for general comments (we were super happy that all the vendors except 2 worked that hard to give us their review!).

  • The million dollar question – Are you happy with your sales during the event? 68% of the respondents strongly agreed or agreed. Interesting fact: of the vendors in the “disagree” or “strongly disagree” category, 25% wrote a note in the margin to the affect of “not in the control of the promoters”.
  • The questions pertaining to the promotion of the event were: I am happy with the number of customers in attendance, the customers in attendance were in my target market, the event was sufficiently promoted/advertised. 78% strongly agreed or agreed. Note: the bazaar was promoted on multiple web sites, in print in 4 major local publications (TBT, St. Pete Times, Creative Loafing, and Skirt!), a month long ad ran in Skirt!, 600 full color glossy flyers were distributed throughout the community, and two road signs were displayed the day of the show.
  • Here’s that vendor centric stuff I was talking about: I am happy with the diversity and type of vendors in attendance, I liked the arrangements made for lunch, the packet of vendor information I received in the mail was useful, the demos/make-n-takes enhanced the show, I am glad there was live music, the vendor features on the blog gained exposure for my shop and/or the show, the goodie bags were a worthwhile addition to the show. 98% strongly agreed or agreed.
  • How did all that planning come together? The questions were: The event was well organized, I think the booth/table fee was reasonable, I liked the location of the event. 97% strongly agreed or agreed Note: table fees were $40, booth fees $60
  • And now for some constructive criticism, the question was: What could’ve been done differently to better ensure your success as a vendor at the show? Here are a few of the responses: Larger signs on the street corners and at the park. Bigger locale. Hold the event closer to Christmas time. These responses prompted the poll I added to the right margin of my blog. I’d like to know, as a vendor - What you think is the best way to allocate your marketing/advertising funds?
  • What did the vendors like the most about Handmade Holiday Bazaar?: It was very well organized. Location. Great mix of crafts. I liked the fun, trendy vibe. It was not your typical traditional craft show. Diverse crowd that was willing to spend. Wonderful selection of vendors. Stacey & Julie Rock!
  • For all of you who are planning or would like to plan a show of your own, here’s what these vendors say would help them decide to do your show: Cost, location, dates, past history, advertising/exposure, diversity of vendors, size, the toss of a coin.

It was a really fun day, there were a ton of wonderful handmade items for sale (I made the comment a couple of times that it was like walking through my Etsy favorites page), and I met some of the nicest most talented crafter/artists. That’s definitely a success in my book!

Monday, November 10, 2008

My first bag!

I can hardly think of a better way to spend a Saturday morning than in sewing class! I love creating something new, having a completed one to reference in the process, and getting direction from someone else so I don't have to pour over the pattern instructions. Fiberologie is a wonderful place to take a class, surrounded by beautiful fabrics, in a homey setting, and the best lunch, a greek salad is just steps from the back door at Louis Pappas... deelish! The last time my Mom was visiting she saw Amy Butler's Birdie bag in Fiberologie and wanted me to make one for her. I'm not really into purses/bags that much (I've had the same two Coach bags for the past 4 years) so this was my first bag. It won't be my last, I'm hooked! I had so much fun makeing it and am super happy with how it turned out. So here you have it (not great pictures... my brand new camera sucks... if I'm not outside or right near the window this is as good as it gets):

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Super E!

It's an adorable little girl, it's the smartest 3 year old I know, it's SUPER E!

I made most of Elle's costume this year. Here's the run down on how each of the pieces came together.

Circle Skirt: I found this great white star print for the skirt at a really neat old school fabric shop in St. Pete, Jay's Fabric. I conserved fabric by buying just half a yard, cut it in half, and sewed it together to make a big square of fabric. To figure out the size hole to cute for the waist, I measured Elle's waist added 1 inch for seam allowance, divide it by Pi (3.14), and divide that number by 2, this is the radius of the circle to be cut. Then I folded the fabric in half length wise, and in half again width wise, used pins to hold it in place. With the 0 mark of a ruler on the center point of the folds I made little tick marks at the radius measurement several times at different angles and then connected the tick marks and cut along the line. Unpin and unfold the fabric, waalaa a circle :) Next I Sewed a little hem around the circle and fed a piece of elastic just a half inch shorter than Elle's waist measurement into the pocket, sewed the elastic together, and finish the hem. Since my fabric was a stretch knit I hung it from the waist elastic on a hanger with clips and put it in the bathroom so that it could "relax" in the steam the next time we took showers. Then I put the skirt on Elle, marked where I wanted the hem, laid the "skirt" out on my foam cutting/measuring/pattern board thingie, measured from the center of the cut out circle to the mark I made for the hem, cut a piece of sting that length, tied a piece of chalk to one end of the string and stuck the other end of it into the board at the center of the circle with a push pin and drew a chalk line all around the skirt. I cut along the chalk line then folded the skirt in half and could see any parts where I needed to trim one side or the other to make it a perfect half circle. Hemmed it up and she had an adorable little skirt, no pattern required!

Tutu: Elle has worn a tutu every year for Halloween and I thought she was gonna get away without one this year, but when I put the circle skirt on her there was just something missing... all things little girl are better with a tutu right?! Tutu's are super simple to make, but I made her one last year and learned a few things, so here's what I think is key. 1)Don't scrimp on the tulle. Even good quality tulle is pretty cheap, so buy nice soft tulle. 2) use a wide elastic, like what you would find in guys boxers. All you have to do is cut your elastic 1/2 inch shorter than the waist measurement, stitch it together. Then cut the tulle in strips as wide as you want (Elle's were 3 inches wide, but you can make them skinnier if you want, it's just a matter of preference... I don't think I'd go any wider than 3 inches though)and twice the length you want the finished tutu to be + 1 inch. Then you just tie the strips to the elastic by folding the strip in half, place it behind the elastic and pull the ends around the elastic and through the loop created by folding the tulle in half. Repeat until you've covered the elastic.

Vinyl Belt & Cuffs: Gotta love working with a material that doesn't fray! All you have to do is cut out the shape you want, stitch some Velcro to each end... instant super hero accessories!

Cape: So I've been crazy busy and decided to buy the cape from a shop on Etsy instead of making one myself. I'm glad I did because I bought a blank cape from Super Fly Kids with the intention of embroidering the Super E logo on it and didn't even get a chance to embroider it.

Creating the super E logo was a little challenging with the software I have, but I couldn't be happier with how it turned out... someday I'll get around to embroidering a bigger version of it on her cape because it'll definitely be in the circulation of most played with "toys". Elle loves running around in it and can't resist looking behind her to watch it flow in the wind!

Friday, October 31, 2008

EtsyBloggers Feature: BFBeads

This month's EtsyBloggers featured seller is Baby Friendly Beads. She is a breastfeeding Mommy who creates jewelry with the breastfed baby in mind, but you probably wouldn't have guessed this great jewelry has a purpose other than being a sweet accessory, check out all those colors:

Her reminder bracelets are designed to easily be moved from wrist to wrist through out the day as a reminder of which side to nurse on next. And the nursing necklaces give baby's curious fingers a place to land and hold their attention (ask any nursing Mommy... a distracted baby while nursing can make things a little complicated!).

Monday, October 27, 2008

Haunted Doll House

A couple months ago, in my Growing Up Crafty post, I talked about my parents cultivating my creative side when I was younger. Even though my 2 brothers and I are all grown up now, my parents still indulge their own creative sides every now and then. I talked to my Mom the other day and she said she had picked up a doll house for Elle but she and my Dad decided it wasn't exactly what they wanted for her after all, and they were in the Halloween spirit, so they made it into a haunted house with bits and pieces they had around the house. Check this out:
Orange tissue paper over the windows gives the house an eary glow when the lights are dim and it's back lit. Popsicle sticks painted black were used to board up the windows and words of warning on the unpainted ones are posted all around. Tissue paper ghosts haunt the porches. The front door is off it's hinges and spanish moss lets you know these little dollies abondond this house long ago.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Happy Place

For those of you wonderful Elle Belle blog readers who are also keeping up with the Handmade Holiday Bazaar blog , you rock! So I apologize that I'm reposting (is that sort of like re-gifting??). Karrie at Fiberologie is hosting Handmade Holiday Bazaar so it was just the excuse I need to write about what a little slice of heaven that shop is. So here you have it:

Some people's happy place is the beach or a quiet spot in their garden. I'd like to propose that if you quilt, sew, craft, love fanciful prints, or even just appreciate the feel of crisp cotton that you stop by Fiberologie in St. Pete... it could be your new Happy Place!

I happened on Fiberologie completely by accident while doing a google search for designer fabric. The Fiberologie website is super cute, but I wasn't prepared for the wonder of this shop. I stepped onto the quaint little front porch one morning and Karrie, the owner of Fiberologie, was having a cup of coffee. She opened the door to the 1920s house and amidst the beautiful white wood work, built in shelves, and brick fireplace was bolt after bolt of amazing fabric. Textiles from lots of top designers like Amy Butler and Heather Bailey, as well as really unique finds like some imported Japanese prints.

Not only will you find the newest designer fabrics in the industry, Karrie also supports local crafters by featuring some handmade pieces in her store as well as some of her own handiwork.

If you're not already a fabric addict, Karrie will help you along with the many classes she hosts. In addition to classes, you can stop by for a quick make-n-take project, or donate your time to a charitable cause by participating in one of Fiberologie's charity days. I recently spent a morning at Fiberologie making "pink" beanies for the Susan G Komen foundation. I couldn't think of a better way to spend a leisurely morning than sewing away, in great company, for a good cause.

I'm beyond excited that Fiberologie is our host for Handmade Holiday Bazaar! Come to the bazaar to shop the vendors and discover Fiberologie... it's yet another reason to love St. Pete!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Buc's Pumpkin

We are a crafty/artistic bunch here in the Whittington household. My Doug never took his artistic ability too seriously because he didn't like being confined to the limitations set by an art class... so his biggest claim to fame is several promotional t-shirts he drew for his Fraternity in college (which he didn't have the foresight to save... silly boy!). He doesn't stretch his artistic muscle that often but got inspired by a pumpkin carving contest we had with my Dad and brothers while on vacation last week. He was in pretty creative company, but he blew the competition away with this Bucaneer's logo pumpkin.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

What to Wear What to Wear

The banner and avatar in my Etsy shop are my Halloweeny one, so I thought this was as good a time as any to take a little poll to get a consensus on which of the Elle Belle "looks" I've had in the past is a favorite. So here are your choices, please take a second to vote for the one you like best by using the anonymous (if that matters to ya ;)) poll thingie in the right margin. Thanks!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Atomic Holiday Bazaar

Atomic Holiday Bazaar is an uber hip totally rad craft spectacular held in Sarasota 3 years running now. I had a blast last year at the show and am so excited about being a part of it again this year on December 14th. Adrienne, the AHB organizer/promoter extraordinaire, gave Elle Belle shout out on her MySpace page... in her "as only Adreienne could put it way" (I luv ya girl!) check us out:

This sling earned Elle Belle a spot in the finals of the Etsy Handmade Kid Contest! That's a huge deal, I mean there are thousands of us on Etsy so kudos to Stacey!

1, 2, 3, 4 who loves to count even more? I do. However, I can count up to ten these days so I don't need these bags but what a fun gift for that kid in your life who is learning to count and learn their colors; or maybe you can buy a set of these for that dippy friend who is always shortchanging you when it comes to splitting the bill. Or maybe you can pass these bags off as change while shopping since these beanbags are probably way more valuable than our U.S. dollar-roonie.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


My little piece of Etsy has been up and running every day for the past 22 months. Our official vacation doesn't start until this weekend, but I wouldn't have been able to fill any orders received between today and Mon. the 27th, so I put my shop on vacation. I'm having sort of a strange reaction to my shop being empty... it's spooky! I hadn't thought about it like this before, but the shop is a compilation of all our little bits of handiwork, it's full of my favorite fabrics, items that were and some still are really useful to me as a new Mom, and they're all gone. Okay I understand they'll all be back with just a click of a button, but still... it's creepy... I don't like it!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Vendor Feature: Flying Zoo

I've been writing features for the Handmade Holiday Bazaar blog on the vendors who will be at the show. I found the Flying Zoo a while back when I was just surfing Etsy and was pleasantly surprised to find that she's local. She was also a finalist in the Etsy Handmade Kids Contest, so I've been keeping my eye on her and am really glad that she has a spot in the show! Because this is one of my personal favorites I thought I'd share with you here as well... in case you're not keeping up with the HHB blog :)

I'm so excited about having the Flying Zoo at the Handmade Holiday Bazaar! I'm particularly fond of wood toys. There's something about the simple aesthetic appeal that owning a hand crafted wood toy can bring. All those flashing buzzing singing plastic toys just entertain/distract children... wood toys are engaging, they're really playing, using their imagination.

Monika started making these wonderful mobiles more than 15 years ago.

Come out to the Handmade Holiday Bazaar to pick out a meaningful toy for the little ones on your Christmas list. After all, do you think they're really going to be passing that Sponge Bob video game down to their own children some day?!

Friday, October 10, 2008

1 2 3, 4 5 6, 7 8 9, 10 11 12 Ladybugs Came to the Ladybug Picnic

It was actually more like 35, but who am I to mess with a classic?!I always have so much fun planning Elle's birthday parties and this year was no exception! I try to do as much of it handmade as possible, so here you have it, the handmade bits from Elle's Ladybug Picnic party:

BNDesigns made some super cute invites! Elle's were a little different than these, they didn't have the circles on the background and were printed on crisp white linen paper with the moss green envelopes. She also made some matching thank you notes.

Lil Bug Clothing made this halter and short set. It's very well made, I am really happy with it. She even sent a scrap of the short material with it so that I could embroider/applique the ladybug on the top.

Mom and Dad have to get in on the party fun too and it was the only excuse I needed to pick up one of The Funky Felter's rings... a ladybug of course! She was so sweet to include a little red felted ball clippie as a freebie with my order, which Elle wore in her hair.

Not sure if this is technically handmade, but we got Doug's ladybug crossbones shirt from Cafe Press. This was the first year the kiddos did a little craft. I picked up some little bug jars with magnifying tops from Oriental Trading, the kids decorated them with stickers. We did a ladybug release and they took some home in their little jars (One of the party guests took the majority of the ladybugs home for their rose garden... in case you were wondering :))

You can't really see it in this picture, but I made picnic blankets (a yard and a half each of polar fleece), sewed ribbon on the back to tie them with when they're rolled up, and embroidered a ladybug on each one. I sent those home with the parents after the party.

Our favorite local bakery, Cakes by Carolynn made yummy cupcakes with piped ladybugs and you can also check out Elle's shoes in this picture that My Wee Feet custom made and liked so much that she carries them in her shop now.

I met the girls of Cloud Nine Design at a craft show I went to long before I started planning Elle's party and knew then that I had to figure out a way to incorporate their super cute bubble wands into the next party I planned. So I bought some handmade glass ladybug beads from Beauty with the Beads and Cloud Nine Designs incorporated them into these adorable bubble wands that we gave as favors.

I don't remember which online party supply site I bought the favor boxes from. I found some wooden ladybugs at JoAnns, wrote the kids names on the back with a white paint pen, Doug drilled holes in them for me so I could tie them to the boxes.

I got some clear screw top jars from a seller on Ebay and my Dad designed the labels for them. We have a great recipe for bubbles so I made a big batch divvied it up and waalaa!

Everyone seemed to have a good time at the picnic, and Elle hasn't stopped talking about it since, so I count it a success! Thank you all you wonderful handmade crafters you who helped make this a special celebration! Until next year...

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Handmade Holiday Bazaar Flyer

Check out the awesome flyers Kitty Crossbones made for the Handmade Holiday Bazaar! As a vendor run show, we're doing some really vendor centric things, including showcasing some of the fab wares you'll find at the show in the advertising.

Top row: Modern Bird (L) Elle Belle (R) Middle: Stray Creative (L) Create It Cottage (R) Bottom: Bungle Bear Designs (L) Sew It's For You (R)

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