Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Indispensable Underdress

  There are TONS of costumes that need an extra layer to make it 'just right', like The Lord of the Rings costumes, some Narnia costumes, and plenty of other medieval and fantasy ensembles.
  Really, the underdress is indispensable, and there are many different variations this simple garment. Here is the one that I did:


It's full-length and has no closures! 


 The elastic neckline makes it a pull-on cinch, and makes for a pretty neckline under a bodice or surcoat.



I hand-set the eyelets. Yes I did.  


This underdress is not for sale. Period. Because I love it. But.... if you want your own, then just shoot me an email and we'll discuss size and choice of fabrics! 

Monday, January 30, 2012

Coming soon to Etsy!

  Coming soon to my shop!






...interested? Keep coming back to my shop over the next week or so to see them listed!

Eowyn Inspired Dress

  You know how in the spring of 2011 they released the extended versions of The Lord of the Rings in theaters? And you know how I'm a LOTR fan...? Well, I went to all three showings... dressed up. The first week, I already had my recreation of Arwen's Chase dress (I will post pictures of this one soon!) on hand, so I went in that. The second week, I threw together a Hobbit costume out of ready-made costume pieces, and then... I had nothing for the third week! So, I whipped together an Eowyn inspired dress in the total of three days.

...I will never do that again, but here's the result:



As you can see, it's not screen-accurate... but passable. I was going for the White Wool look

It was made of a strange polyester knit, actually. It was all I had on hand... but it actually draped nicely, so I wasn't that angry with it. 


On the side, it does look very elvish... more elvish than an Eowyn dress, actually. 


You can see the drape of the sleeves in this picture... I actually drafted them myself (shocked amazement) with the help of a picture. 


I did embroider it, too! I couldn't help it... I love the details, even if I only have three hours to do it in! You can also see the bodice shaping here. 

The skirts were delightfully full as well! Very swooshy and fun! 


This dress already sold on Etsy, but should you want one, please contact me and we'll talk size and fabric! 


(...better fabric than what I used, don't worry!)


Thursday, January 26, 2012

Molly Gibson Inspired Tea Dress

   It's not really a Molly Gibson dress, it's just inspired by one of her white dresses. I made it to attend a summer tea party several years ago, and now it's happily in the hands of a fellow Austenite. Without further gab... the dress! 


 Before your jaw drops, I did NOT do the embroidery. It was a pre-done piece of embroidery. I still have some, if you want a dress!


 We had fun doing this photo shoot!


Here's the back of the dress (slightly). You can also see the little train in the back. 


 And now here's me in the dress, playing Mrs. Darcy on the piano. Appropriate? Yes!


Oh come now, even Lizzie must have had her sassy moments... like this... 

This dress has already been sold on Etsy, but if you should like one of your own, you have but to drop me a line and I'll be most willing to craft one in your size and choice of fabrics!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Steampunk!

  My first and only Steampunk ensemble... so far! I had so much fun making this, but am not ready to part with it... just yet. I have to wear it to at least one cool event AND THEN Etsy shall be graced with it.


 My Steampunk alias is Dr. Jane Von Snyden, an Anglo-Saxon Antiquarian.
(Might it be cool to say that I really am an Anglo-Saxon?)


I did NOT make the blouse, cravat and skirt. Everything else (down to the cool monocle) was crafted by moi.


I have many medals proudly pinned on my jacket. (Which has detachable tails, by the by!) 


 Hand warmers? Edgy vest? Key earrings?  Coolness!


Look closely at the back of the vest! 


Ta ta for now! 

This Steampunk ensemble is not for sale (yet), but I can make you one in your size and choice of colors! Just contact me and we can discuss it in detail.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

I want to make this.



... and that is all. 

Not really. 

  Actually, I just wanted to say that I have a terrible relationship with Victorian Trading Co. I had long coveted this gorgeous Alcott Blouse oh so long ago in their catalogs...  it was $50. That's a lot of money for a 14-year old to spend on a piece of clothing. And then... they discontinued it.

!!!
  I'm going to repeat that, so you get the full effect: they discontinued it. What's a girl supposed to do? Well... years later, I'm going to try and make one for my own! I've racked my usual haunts to try and find this garment (even USED, I so love it), and coming up with nothing, I decided that it's time for me to take the gnome by the pointy hat and make it myself. 
  The fun part? The research. Oyez, ladies. Some people may think that the most terrifying part of recreating something is the research, but it's soooo much fun for me. I'll be sure and share every part of the process with everyone!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Guest Post: Ten Helpful Hints for the New Etsy Shop Owner!

  Wow, I asked Christine of Anna's Trunk last week to write a short exhortation for new Etsy shop owners, but little did I think that I would get such a stellar post! It's incredible, packed with hints and tips that I'm going to be employing in my own shop! Okay, take 'er away, Christine!



Ten Helpful Hints for the New Etsy Shop Owner! 
 ...by a fellow shop owner who’s been there and then some!

Congratulations on your new etsy shop! Starting your own business on etsy can be rewarding, exciting and just downright fun...if you keep a few things in mind as you build your shop presence. I started my little etsy shop in November 2008. As a stay at home mom, I was looking for a way to utilize my  sewing skills and generate a little extra income to help my family’s bottom line. As I looked at my two year old son happily playing on the living room floor, I wanted to try and work at home so I could be with him and  also be available for our older daughter (don’t let anyone tell you teenage girls don’t need their moms!). I did some research on what I wanted to create and how to go about marketing what I would create and then  found etsy. Ahhh, it seemed so easy...just put your stuff out there and boom! I would be in business.!  Well, like perhaps many of you, I found out that there’s a little more to it than that. Being successful on etsy is very achievable (no matter what anyone says or predicts), you just have to  know a few things going in. After almost four years and one thousand sales, I’d like to share with you some things that I’ve found helpful while building my business.



1.  Be Excited! Starting your own etsy shop IS exciting! Be passionate about what you create and others will be too. Revel in the first time you get “hearted,” or when you make your very first sale. Many etsians will tell you (myself included) that they still get a twinge of excitement every time they make a sale. Your enthusiasm for your products and your business will carry you through the times when things aren’t necessarily so enthralling.

2.  Surf the Learning Curve: Starting your own etsy shop is relatively simple, but there are a lot of things to set up: your banner, your avatar, your listings, your policies, etc. etc. and quite frankly it can be a little overwhelming. So...take it a little at a time. Set small goals and work toward completing each piece that will become the online framework of your store. One day, write your policies...the next, set up your Paypal account. When you start to feel a little daunted, walk away and come back to it. It’s YOUR shop, so you can set it up on YOUR timeline! It took me a few weeks to get everything I needed for my shop. I had no idea how to make a shop banner and I had no budget to purchase a pre-made one so I had to figure it out. If I can do it, you can too.  I ended up changing my little homemade banner but that is the beauty of etsy-you can change your shop around anytime you want to! In my opinion, it is better to get things set up and functional so you can open than to wait for everything to be perfect.



3.  Take the BEST Pictures You Can: Your photos are what will largely entice buyers to actually click that little “add to cart” button. Will they be perfect? Probably not at first...photographing for etsy is an acquired skill. Once you start doing it, you’ll be amazed at how you’ll improve and zero in on photographing the most important elements of your products. You don’t need a $2000.00 camera, you don’t need a professional backdrop, you don’t need Steven Spielberg to come in and supervise your photo sessions(of course, if anyone offers you any of those things, personally, I’d take them up on it, especially the latter!). I started photographing my pillows with a very basic Kodak digital point and shoot...I used things in my own home as backgrounds and  went from there. You do the best you can with what you’ve got!  As time went on, I looked at photos on etsy in other shops (primarily of other etsians’ products that I fell in love with) and tried to learn from them. Gradually, my photos got better...and so did my sales. Your photos are the potential buyers’ window to your product. Giving them bright, clear beautiful photos will make your shop look professional...and you’ll give them the confidence to buy!

4.   Where is Everybody?:  Your listings have all been written, you’ve got all your photos, you’ve set up the “bones” of your shop and your shop is finally live, but all you hear are the crickets...where are all the shoppers, you wonder?  A few more days go by and nothing...for many, this is where the doubt starts to creep in...”did I make a mistake?,” “what if NO ONE ever visits my shop or buys anything?,”  and “is there something wrong with my shop?” The answers to these questions are : 
1) No , you did not make a mistake. Starting any business involves some risk and a waiting period until customers are aware that you are even IN business, 
2) I guarantee you that SOMEONE will visit your shop and 
3) No, there’s nothing wrong with your shop. 
This is not to say that tweaking your shop to improve it may increase the chance that more customers will visit. Keep in mind that while your shop is “your baby” so to speak and you’ve put your heart and soul into creating it and the products in it, it is one of many, many, many other etsy shops and it just takes time for people to find you and fall in love with your products as much as you.



5.  Patience Is A Virtue...And Then Some!: This would be the biggest piece of advice I would offer to new etsians! It would be fantastic if we all started our shops and within ten minutes of “going live,” we started watching the sales pour in. While a few very lucky etsians can say that this has happened to them, the reality is that it usually doesn’t happen quite like that. It takes time (and in some cases a really , really long time) to develop a presence on etsy and for potential customers to even find you let alone buy from you. So you should be prepared to do a lot of waiting. And when you think you should be done waiting, buckle up and plan on waiting some more.  It took me about three and a half weeks to get my first sale and I think it would have actually taken longer had I not opened six weeks before Christmas. During those three weeks of waiting, I can tell you that I pretty much drove myself and everyone who knows me bonkers. I didn’t understand what I was doing wrong. Well, the fact was absolutely nothing! It took my husband (in an act of desperation to stop the madness) to sit me down and explain a few things about how the retail world works (he’s been in retail management for over 20 years, so I decided to listen to him).  He explained that there have to be a lot of “no’s” before you can find those coveted “yes” people who want to purchase one of your products...and he stressed the fact that there would be a LOT of “no’s!” He also explained that it’s not personal and that the people who would fall in love with my shop just hadn’t found me yet. And then he gave me the best  advice I’ve ever heard “Christine, it’s not a sprint...it’s a marathon.”  When you change the perspective  in terms of the “long haul,” then you can hopefully relax a little bit.  I think you have to think in terms of “Ok, I’m new here and maybe people aren’t flocking into my shop quite yet, but I’m going to picture myself in a year  or three years, etc.”  When I opened my shop, I had two products (yes, just two) and I would look at shops that had thousands of sales and hundreds of admirers and dream about the day when maybe I’d be just a little further down the line than where I was.  When I hit 100 sales, I looked back quite fondly on how far I’d come and how much I’d learned and how much I still had to learn. So picture yourself successful and then be patient enough to let it unfold in it’s own good time.

6. An Apple A Day...: There are going to be lots of time for you to reflect on your shop and how it’s doing. During times when things are slow, try and do something EVERY day to improve your shop. Change your banner, improve your photos, spell check, whatever. This will help keep you focused on being postiive and moving forward instead of giving into the doubts that inevitably creep in during the slow times. “Why should I bother doing all that when I don’t even have any customers?” you may ask. Excellent question! You want to make your shop the best it can be at all times and trust me, when you are busy with orders, the last thing you want to have to worry about is whether or not your shipping or payment policies are up to date! You want to create the infrastructure that will support your business during busier times, no matter when that is!



7. Work It!: It’s not enough to set up shop and hang and “open” sign and sit and wait for customers. In this economic climate, you’ve got to go get your customers! I would strongly encourage you to use any and everything at your disposal to get the word out about your shop. If you have a budget for paid advertising, great-make the most of it! More often than not, however, most of us have a zero budget for paid advertising. But that’s ok-there are plenty of ways to get the word out: 

Family and friends 
Business Cards 
Facebook 
Twitter  
Your own website if you have one 
Your blog 
The etsy forums ( a GREAT resource for learning and promoting!!!) 
My Space
Other Social Media 

The more people who become aware of your shop and what you have to offer will lead to greater traffic in your shop and inevitably lead to more sales.  Promoting takes diligence and determination but if you are willing to stick with it, you will see the benefits as you dance around your living room basking in the delight of your first sales!

8.  Paging Dr. Killjoy!:  From the forums to our living rooms, there are always plenty of people who have an opinion about being self-employed and/or etsy itself. And, unfortunately, not all the advice is positive.  If you read the forums long enough, you’ll see plenty of “doomsday threads” predicting that no one will be successful on etsy  because of this, that or the other thing. Nonsense! The only thing determining your success on etsy is YOU! I’m not going to say “don’t listen” because listening and being open minded is essential in business. But you take it with a grain of salt and you determine whether or not the information you are receiving is going to continue as a positive influence in your shop. If yes, great! Constructive criticism can be invaluable. If not, dismiss it and move on.



9. It’s Not Personal...Really: Inevitably, you’ll find people who *gasp!* don’t like your store or your products or even you! Or you’ll get the dreaded “neutral” or “negative” feedback (this happens for a LOT of reasons). And the first few times you’ll want to cry...I know I did! But then you have to remove as much of the emotion as possible and put it behind you. Don’t let a bad experience or two make you think about throwing in the towel. It’s a numbers game...in the course of all the people who go in and out of your shop, you’re bound to have a few less than warm, fuzzy experiences.  As Jimmy Buffett sings, “breathe in, breathe out, move on...

10. Enjoy!!: In the midst of building your business, don’t forget one very important thing...enjoy yourself! Because in the final analysis, that’s why you took this roller coster ride in the first place!

I hope that these little tidbits have helped you gain some perspective on being a new etsy shop owner. Just think, it won’t be long until you’ve got some time and hopefully lots of sales under your belt and YOU’LL be the one offering advice to all those newbies out there! Thank you so much for allowing me to share a few of my experience with you-I wish you the best of luck with your shop and all the success in the world!

All The Best!
Christine Lally
Owner of anna’s trunk 
annastrunk at gmail dot com 

Thanks so much, Christine! What a GREAT post! I'm sure that we all can benefit from these 'tidbits', as you call them. The pillow images are from Christine's shop, ladies; do be sure to take a look! 

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Elven White Lady

  Here's another of my 'Elven Inspired' costumes! Though it does make me wonder... how many of these dresses did I make? Even I'm taking a second glance...


Ahhh. The White Lady.




It was crafted from a strange polyester blend. I forget exactly what the content was... but it was beautiful.


*sigh* Who doesn't love a classic elven sleeve? I can never resist them... The flow and drape of these particular ones can be clearly seen in this picture. 

Oh, and I also created a set of capes to go along with this dress: 


The top layer was a lovely sheer, with a velvety yoke and hem. Note the tassels, ladies! 


The second cloak was hooded and very full, and could be worn (for a different effect) without the first layer. 

'tis full! Quite full! 

This costume ensemble has already been sold on Etsy, but should you desire a White Lady costume of your own, please contact me and we'll discuss the size and fabrics!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Pearl and Lace Earrings: A Tutorial

 Yesterday, I darkly hinted at my very first tutorial, and so here it is! I proudly present my 'Pearl and Lace Earring' tutorial!

*cue applause* 


  Thank you, thank you! You can stop clapping now. Alright-o, let's begin! 

WHAT YOU WILL REQUIRE TO MAKE THESE GORGEOUS EARRINGS:


 ~A piece of embroidered lace (a thicker lace) 
~Plastic pearls
~Jump rings, small and large size
~Ear wires
~Needle and thread 
~Pliers
~Fray Check


YON INSTRUCTIONS: 



1. Cut out desired lace shape from your panel and trim off access fabric



 2. Fray Check (BAZINGA!) the edges of the lace pieces to prevent fraying on the fabric! Or, if you don't have the aforementioned bottle of awesomeness, just use ordinary fabric glue. It doesn't dry clear, but it will do the trick!


 3. Attach earring findings with a pair of pliers: I used a large and a small jump ring so that the earring wouldn't hang funny.

 

4. (Optional) Stitch pearls on applicable portion of lace... I put mine on the edge for a glamorous look. 

And voila! Enjoy your stylish new earrings! 



(P.S. What does everyone think of my little tutorial?) 

Monday, January 16, 2012

Craft Night, Jan 14th, 2012

  As you can guess, I sew... a lot. And sometimes, I get tired of sewing and want to do something different for a change; so, on Saturday night, I indulged in some crafting! It was so much fun that I want to do it more often- a change of pace like that was nice and relaxing for me. While watching Downton Abbey (please know that there are issues with it before watching it!), I did the following crafts:


From Disney's Easiest Necklace Ever Tutorial. It really is the easiest (and cutest) necklace! I just skipped painting the lace first; it was a good color to begin with. Can't wait to pair this up with something sweet!



From Nina's Pearl and Lace Bracelet Tutorial.The only thing I did differently was to substitute the materials- yellow ribbon for mock leather and cats-eye beads for pearls.



From Nina's Pleated Bead Necklace Tutorial. Can I say enough how EASY this was? 

I did one more craft, though: 


Lace earrings! Huzzah! But, since I kind of just did this on my own, I'm going to be doing my FIRST TUTORIAL on it. Come back tomorrow for the exciting post! 


None of these crafts are going to find their way to Etsy, but should you want to custom order one, please do so by contacting moi!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Elven Blade Maiden Dress

Third in my 'Elven-Inpired Series' is a dress I made for myself for my role in the aforementioned fantasy film. Let me say that I loved this dress. It was so much fun to wear, and yes, I did fight in it. (I did pretty well, too! I took out three baddies in this dress!)


 Doncha love the flow of the skirt?


The dress itself is a lovely forest green with a golden sheen to it. 


The vest, yoke and sleeves were actually two skirts I scrapped. (You know you do it too)


(*eeeewww* She's... double jointed.) 
On the side, my friend crafted the bow, arrows and quiver for me. Bartering is cool.


I had a marvelously glorious time making and wearing this dress. 'tis a pity it's already gone and sold on Etsy... However, you can see the sheen on the back of the skirt in this picture.

AND for costumer buffs who want to get an instant-elvish look, just put a metal headband on your forehead and it looks passable. 



This dress is not for sale. However, should you desire this dress (and I know you do!), please contact me and we'll discuss size and choice of fabrics!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Fallen High Lord Costume

  Wow! The response to my last post was great, thanks everyone! Okay, since the elven costume seemed to hit over big, I'm posting the second in my elvish costume series! Today's costume is one that I created for an evil character for our fantasy film, Shadroth Icehart. The costume is quite similar to yesterday's, being a simpler and more broken-down version.


 Overall, it's just a tunic with a belt, and the actor supplied everything else.




 
...YES, he is wearing makeup. The effect works, and his eyes look sunken and... yech. Never mind. 


If you can see that well, I tore apart the lower edge to make it seem like the tunic had been worn for an untold amount of time.


I braided some yarn and hand-stitched it around the neck, making a design at the base of it. 


This last shot is in here because it's awesome. 

This costume is not for sale, but I can custom-make you one in your size and choice of fabrics!