Working Hard

Lucy-Jo-Ann

Lucy & Jo Ann

I have been sewing a LOT lately, of course with the help of my friends Lucy and Jo Ann!

(Love the art style of this photo…check out my “how to” in Monday’s post!)

This post is part of a Wednesday blog hop. Please click the “Blog Paws” button in the sidebar to follow all the other wonderful pet blogs. Happy Blogging!

 

Pet Toons

Lucy-Toon-Art-2

ToonIt!

Did you ever want to turn your pet into a cartoon?  Software available today makes it easy and fun.  Check out the photo above which was lightly edited in Photoshop, and then had a ToonIt! filter by Digital Anarchy applied.  Instant cartoon kitty!  The ToonIt filter has numerous choices available and can be finely controlled.  It’s especially nice since once installed it’s directly available within the Photoshop software.

There are also now cartoon apps available for smart phones and the iPad.

 Gracie-Tooned-Final

ToonCam

Here’s a photo of Gracie after her recent bath, “tooned” on the iPad with the ToonCamFree app.

 

GracieToonCamera-2

ToonCamera

And here is another sample from ToonCamera.  This iPad app is especially nice in that it gives you numerous filter choices.  And within each filter choice, you can increase/decrease the amount of “tooning” applied.  There are also numerous options for saving and sharing.  I did pull this photo into Photoshop to add the speech balloon/text; these are not available in ToonCamera.  Here is a website with information for adding speech balloons and text to Photoshop.

And if you are really industrious, here are instructions for “free-hand” creation of cartoon effects in Photoshop.  Have patience, though, because although these instructions work beautifully, it will take 1-2 hours to complete just one photo using this method.  I don’t know about you, but the quick options available now definitely make cartooning a lot easier!

Do you use any software that you really like for creating cartoons?

Sewing the Seeds

Final-Fabric-Sass-2
Beautiful Fabrics

Have you ever flirted with the idea of turning your sewing hobby into a profitable business?   If so you aren’t alone.  According to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), small enterprises account for 52% of all U.S. workers!  However before you take the entrepreneurial plunge, you might want to consider:

The Value of Time

Creating items for yourself or family/friends on your own schedule is fun, but what about receiving orders from customers that need to be filled on a strict schedule?  Running a business is great in that you can take breaks to run an errand, or you can choose to work late in the evening as opposed to working early in the morning.  Unlike your typical 8-5 desk job, you have a great deal of flexibility, but with that you also have a lot of responsibility.  You will find that time is no longer your own in a different kind of way.  It’s true that when you own a business you actually work more hours than if you work 40 hours a week for someone else.  So be careful what you wish for, and be sure to discuss this time commitment with others in your household.

Financial Commitment

Do you have the initial funds that will be necessary for you to start your business?  If not are you able to borrow the money?  Try to make a list of the costs that will be necessary, and develop a financial plan.  Some costs will be up front, while others can be spread over a period of time.  If you need more expensive items like equipment, find out if these items can be purchased and paid for over a set period with no interest charges, to save on the initial start-up costs of your business.  All businesses take time to grow, so don’t plan on turning a profit too soon.

Getting Creative

So you have decided you have the time/money and still want to start a sewing business.  Do you know what type of business you want?  There are so many choices.  Do you want a retail store or would you like to sell online?  Do you want to sell sewing supplies or actually create items for sell?  Are you great at altering clothing?  Maybe you love making patterns and would consider selling those to others?   Would you like to write books for people that sew?  Or maybe you would like to teach sewing classes.  The point here is to think through all the possibilities and choose one that best meets your own time, financial, and creative needs.  Find a niche and fill it!

Business Savvy

Once you have decided on the type of sewing business you would like to have, start thinking of a good business name.  Do searches, by going to a website for domain name registrations, to see if the name you like has already been chosen by someone.  You definitely want a unique name.  Even if you won’t be selling online you will eventually need an online presence, so choose your name wisely. You should also search the US Patent and Trademark office to see if the name you have chosen is trademarked.  You might also check to see if your chosen business name is being used in social media – on a Facebook Page (this is different than a personal Facebook site), on Twitter, on Pinterest, and on any other social media you might use.  Once you find an available name you like go ahead and register it as a domain name now (about $10).

It would also be a good idea to register this name as a dba (doing business as) name with your local county and perhaps your state.  Most states should have an online website for this type of information.  You will also need to register with your state comptroller’s office if you will be filing a sales tax return.  Find an attorney or tax accountant to help you with the decision on what type of business you want to have – a sole proprietorship, LLC, corporation, etc.  All have different legal and tax implications.

Finding a Mentor (or two or three)

Find as many good mentors for your business as possible.  Bounce ideas off of friends and family.  In business areas where you are weak find someone who can assist you.  One friend that really helped me was a serious quilter, and she gave me “shortcuts” for sewing.  She also happened to have a master’s degree in business!  Read, read, read, and watch online videos.  There are so many online resources out there now to help those wanting to start their own business.  The Small Business Administration has a great website.  I sell online with Etsy, and they have a remarkable network of resources for folks starting creative businesses.  If you will be selling online, also check out other sites like Craftsy, MadeIt, and Big Cartel to see what online stores might work best for you.

The Big Learning Curve

So now that you have many of your business plans firmed up, it’s time to get busy and LEARN!  This means completion of everything you need to do prior to hanging up your “Open” sign.  If you have new equipment learn how to properly use it.  Take lessons if necessary.  If you are selling items learn about branding and pricing, and how to source materials.  If you want an online business you will have to learn how to set up an online store(s), and will need to make enough items, or purchase enough supplies, to stock a store.  You will also need to learn the ins and outs of shipping.  Learn all you can about advertising and photography.  Learn how to make use of social media to assist in advertising your business.  For some it’s a sharper learning curve than for others, but if you just make a list and tackle things one at a time it will help.  Determine what you need to learn first and start there.  Oh, and be sure to enjoy the process along the way!

Trust me the rewards of all your hard work will be worthwhile, and in ways you can’t even imagine.  There really is nothing like owning your own business.  It is still the American dream and definitely an accomplishment to be proud of!

Sew Colorful

Aurefil Poster

There’s just something about color in thread and fabric that really gets me drooling.  Those of you who sew will totally know what I am talking about!  When I saw this new line of Aurifil cotton thread that the Hawthorne Threads website started carrying this past week, I got pretty excited.

252 colors.

252 glorious colors! 

And all viewable online.  And then of course there is the chart you can purchase.

Thread Card

Oh my.  I think the Kona cotton color chart I currently have is in need of a colorful thread chart for a friend.  And if you are trying to match specific thread colors to your fabrics, this is the way to do it.  Yes it may be a little more money up front  (this thread chart sells for $29.50), but it’s the only way to go if you are going to order products online.  And it certainly beats standing in long lines at your local brick-and-mortar store, your sample fabrics in hand, to purchase your thread.

In my shop I had a need to match all of the 37 minky colors I carry to a same color Kona cotton.  To start with I ordered many swatches of minky fabrics from several different online companies.  I did this both to check the quality of the fabrics and their color. Then I purchased my Kona color chart online through Purl Soho.  Here is a photo of that chart.  Yum!

Final-Kona-Card

I then matched up my minky fabrics to the closest shade of Kona cottons, and created an Excel spreadsheet showing my color names (used in my own shop), and the product number/color listed for the corresponding fabric in several online shops.  A somewhat exhausting task but worthwhile once complete, as it saves me time when I need to place a new fabric order online.

Here is an example from that chart.

Excel Color Chart 2

I do a lot of my online ordering for both my Kona cottons and minky fabrics through Fabric.com.  So far I’ve experienced great customer service from them, and if your order is over $35 – which mine almost always is – shipping is free.  The chart above only shows nine of the 37 colors I carry.  As you can see, this chart allows me to quickly determine the correct product to purchase from each specific company.  The Kona cottons always carry the same name/number, even if purchased through someone other than Fabric.com.  In fact the highlighted rows above quickly indicate the colors that Fabric.com does not carry, and those products I purchase elsewhere.

For others who sew, or have a sewing business, I hope the process by which I select my products/colors is of some help.  I would also love to hear how you make your fabric color choices!