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Tuesday’s Tip: Threading bobbins

Today’s tip is probably another “Duh!” for more experienced sewers. I’m just starting to use my sewing machine on a regular basis, though, so bear with me.

There is little that’s more annoying to me than running out of bobbin thread mid-seam. In my case, it tends to happen after dealing with a few other problems. Then finally I get a good rhythm going and the bobbin thread runs out.

My solution for this is to wind at least two full bobbins of the thread I’m using on a project. That way if it runs out, at least I won’t have to completely shift gears to wind the bobbin again.

I know, simple, huh?

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Craft fair tips

In case you haven’t heard by now, on April 25 I will be doing my first craft fair. Pardon me while I take a moment to panic because that’s only about two weeks away.

Okay I’m done. 🙂

Anyway, over the past few weeks I have gotten some great tips from craft fair veterans, so I thought I’d share them here for all you other newbies.

1. June, creator of isewcute (I Sew Cute) suggests to bring a buddy. It will be a long and exciting day, and you will need a potty break and maybe just a few minutes away from your booth. Many shows have “booth sitters” available, so that may be an option if you can’t find someone to help. Personally I think it’s better if you know the person watching your booth and, more importantly, they know enough about your products to answer questions while you’re out.
You can visit isewcute on Etsy here:

2. Bring plenty of change. This is the one I worry about forgetting, because it’s so basic. In most cases, your patrons will be paying in cash. You don’t want to lose a sale because you can’t break a $20.

3. If there’s some part of your craft that you can easily work on at the show, then you might consider doing it as a kind of impromptu demonstration. Just be sure you don’t get so engrossed in your work that you seem unapproachable.

4. Don’t just sit behind a table or spend all your time reading, chatting with one person or otherwise completely engages in something other than your patrons. It can make you seem unfriendly or deter customers from asking questions. While we’re on the topic of questions…

5. Expect some questions about your product, prices, etc. that seem strange, absurd or just plain rude. Not everyone gets them, but I’ve heard complaints from vendors about patrons asking them to teach them how to make a product, complaining about the prices, or, claiming that there was something wrong with their products. It’s best to try to take everything in good humor. There’s no sense in letting one or two such comments spoil your day, and it may be that the person asking didn’t realize their comments would be seen as offensive.

6. Don’t take checks. This one is a little controversial, as many do without a problem, especially if they can’t accept credit cards. I would say if you do decide to take checks, to be sure you do your research, ask for ID and get as much info as you can, such as license number, DOB, phone number, etc. I would also set strict guidelines such as no out of town checks and possibly a limit on the amount.

My mom has also suggested that, if possible, rather than deposit the check directly into your account, take the check to the issuing bank to have it cashed. This prevents charges from your bank if the check bounces. I’m not sure if all banks allow this, however.

7. Make sure everything has price tags or clear pricing signs. I know that I personally won’t ask for a price unless I am just DYING to have a particular item.

8. This one comes from Kristi, aka GreyWillowStudios on Etsy: “I like to make a little first aid kit to take along – tums, tylenol/advil, tissues, bandaids, etc. Breath mints and hand sanitizer or baby wipes are good too.” Kristi also suggests having small, easy to eat snacks.

9. Sandi offered this tip for tracking inventory: “Putting a sticker on each package that can be removed – will keep up with your inventory – just put it on a piece of paper, as you go along – that way you don’t have to look over a list as you are waiting on customers.” You can visit Sandi’s website here:

10. Kay, creator of The Rustic Cottage gave this great tip to help keep you prepared for everything: “One thing I do is make a list of all the things I’m going to take in “show bag”. Extra price labels, scissors, pens, sales slip, business cards, tape – anything you think you might need to use in your display at the last minute or to fix something. I keep these in a little zippered bag which goes in my big tote. I restock after every show.” Check out The Rustic Cottage here:

On a different note, TODAY IS MY MOM’S BIRTHDAY! So, Happy Birthday Mom, and to those of you reading this, please harass me and make sure I don’t forget to call her.

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Tuesday’s Tip: Routines make your life easier

Okay, I know some of you read that title and are thinking, well duh! Then there’s probably a few who do just fine with a different schedule every day.

For those of you who are like me, you’re thinking YES, but how do I get started? The one thing that has helped me get on track is following Flylady’s plan for setting up workable routines. I’ve found that even if I just do a simple morning and before bed routine a la Flylady I can get more accomplished than I do working all day at it without the routines.

I must admit that I have fallen out of the habits of late, but I am slowly working my way back. The difference in just a weeks time is amazing.

If you’re like me and need a little push to add simple routines to your life, then you really should take a few minutes to visit All the information you need to get started is right there on the website, so there’s no excuse to wait.

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More Craft Fair Tips?

I got some great tips last week for my first craft fair. I also got some responses from other craft fair newbies who were looking for tips themselves. So, to benefit everyone, next weeks Thursday posting will be a compilation of the best tips I receive.

If you have any you’d like to share, please comment here with them, or email them to me at csloan AT subearthancottage DOT com. Be sure to include the name or username you’d like the tip to be credited to. You may also give me a link to your blog, website or shop to include with the tip.


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Tuesday’s Tip: Whiten soap naturally

Today’s tip comes from my own observations. In other words, it works for me, but please don’t hunt me down if it doesn’t work for you. 🙂

If you want your hot process soap to look whiter, use Sunflower oil as one of your base ingredients. It whitens the final bar without using titanium dioxide.

Sunflower oil also has a tendency to volcano, so I limit the amount used to 25% or less.

Here’s my Red Tea Lychee soap, my latest creation where I used this technique to whiten:
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Tuesday’s Tip: Cutting Fabric

Today we have the first in a series of tips. I’m sure this isn’t news to many, but since I haven’t been sewing very long, I’m still learning all the shortcuts. In other words, please don’t laugh at me.

If you have lots of straight cuts to make in a large piece of fabric, measure where you need the cuts to be and iron a crease to cut along. I’ve found this to be very useful when cutting fabric to wrap my soap. I can iron stacks of fabric into neat little rectangles, sit down with my shears and cut along all the creases. This goes so much faster and helps me to cut straighter lines than using a straight edge and chalk to mark my lines.

Be sure to check back next Tuesday for a new tip.