Monday, October 17, 2011

Etsy Time Again

I'm back on etsy posting things not available on my web site, like these beading sets. Each set comes with full strands of glass and shell beads with a pretty centerpiece. The possibilities for jewelry sets and crafty holiday gifts are endless. 


Friday, October 14, 2011

One Crazy Craft Show of Doom

I love doing craft shows. Love it. But this season was a tough one. So much so that at the end of it all I was questioning how many shows I want to do next year. I might finally be getting too old for this. I won't get into the ins and outs of it all... but one show in particular haunts me still.

There is a music festival not far from here, in the beautiful forested mountains. For years folks have been telling me I should take my clothing booth there. My booth would fit right in, it's a fun time, etc. The only thing that stopped me was the heat. Like most mermaids, I don't do well in heat. But this year I tried to do many of the shows I had been avoiding for whatever reason. So I went for it.

The venue was a beautiful wooded park. I got there late in the afternoon so the heat wouldn't kill me during setup. There was a tiny slope I had to climb to haul my stuff from my van, but otherwise not too bad. I created a lovely double booth and I was happy. I did notice many other clothing booths, but that's not unusual at a hippie dippy fair like this.

The first day of the show started out great. Fun neighbors, beautiful day... I got up early, made coffee and finished setting up my goods.

By 11am the heat came and I was quickly immobilized by it. I brought my entire hot show arsenal... two battery powered fans, a smaller squirt fan, a hand fan and plenty of ice for my insulated water bottle. But, by early afternoon I couldn't move at all without feeling faint and nauseous.

I had called my hubby to bring me some lights, after learning the show goes late and everyone gets free electricity. It was so hot and business so slow, I figured the real party would happen after dark. I'd better be ready. 

When I started complaining of nausea, my sweetie jumped into action. He grabbed two of my cotton bandanas and dipped them in the ice water in the cooler. He put one on my head, the other around my neck, dripping ice water all over me. They would dry quickly and he would repeat. I just couldn't move without total exhaustion. It was bad. So bad, that when my man started caring for me, clearly concerned, I lost it. It was like when you fall as a child and you're fine until your mom grabs you and starts cooing over you... I just started crying. I was so miserable.

And business was slow. Very slow. Still, I figured once darkness hit, people would do more shopping and my body temp would go back to normal. All would be well.

Not so. Even after nightfall, I just couldn't cool off. And business didn't pick up. We estimated maybe 500 people attended the show... maybe a few more. But not thousands. Nothing close to numbers that would support the booth fee. At all. And weirdly enough, I felt like my clothing was a little too mundane for the crowd, who clearly favored elf hats and fairy skirts.

The music was great though. Really great. If I hadn't been suffering so much, I would have enjoyed it more. By 10pm I was ready to close up and go to bed. All the other booths stayed open. Still feeling crappy with a pounding headache, I retired to my van right behind the stage. I laid there with the door open, pretending the thumping bass didn't hurt my head, and trying to meditate myself into a more comfortable state. The music went until midnight, there were still kids running around at that time.

Eventually it quieted down enough for sleep.

Promptly at 6am, I was awakened by the sound of bongo drums. A dawn drum circle. Of course. My immediate response was "you've got to be effing kidding me." I had a few hours more I could have slept... but no. Then I had a revelation, "If I get up now, I can pack my booth and be gone before anyone gets out of bed." I lay there letting that thought sink in. I can't remember a time when I left a show early. Ever. I always tough it out to make the most I can, however bad things are. 

But the thought of suffering through another hot day and not making money just killed me. Why put myself through that? So I got up and started packing. I felt so relieved and empowered.

But then, while hauling stuff to my van, I slipped on the little slope and fell, twisting my ankle and scraping my leg. I said outloud "I'm going, just let me go!" haha. I did have a weird feeling like the place itself didn't like me. Maybe one of the other clothing people put an elf curse on me. Who knows, but the pain didn't end there.

A few days later I came down with poison oak. 3 weeks of torture.

A couple weeks after my poison oak cleared up, I opened a box of dresses from that show... and there was a giant bug in it that had actually eaten through a bunch of them. Someone called it a potato bug, it was at least 2" long. It was disgusting and dead and I had dresses with giant chew holes in them. 

I couldn't believe it. For weeks this show followed me home and mocked me.

I may never return to that county again.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Project Requests

So I'm going to be adding more projects to the site soon, and wondering if there's anything you'd like to see here. Crochet patterns and techniques, beading projects, fabric printing and silk painting are on my list so far. Any ideas you would like to see in these areas? Please let me know! I want to make this fall a fun new project time at The Palace.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Where am I??

I'm around. I come here from time to time and sigh over how long it's been since I posted... then wonder what to post. I guess I'm having some kind of identity crisis regarding this blog. I mean, I like to post the random stuff I'm doing, with my dye work and the craft shows. But it looks like the only folks who actually come here to read it are looking for free crochet patterns. So then I think I should post a few new patterns... but I don't really have time when the craft shows are happening.

And that's when I go back to facebook and talk about what I'm doing. I'll work on it. I do enjoy my little blog... but who wants to talk to an empty room? Of course, if you're really interested in my little clothing business and Mermaid adventures, you can go to the FB link right over there >>>> and read new stuff all the time. Maybe what I should do is connect these two, and start posting on the blog which will automatically post to fb. Hm. I'll ponder that.

Well, I'm here now so... I guess an update is in order.

Things are a little weird right now. I have had 5 shows in a row with rain. 4 with significant amounts of it. The last was just ironic I think. A joke on me. I was feeling a little stressed after so many washed out shows... for which I've been preparing like crazy, with all my resources (physical and financial). The show called for warm sun all weekend and I was excited for a good show. Then I saw the venue... a repurposed elementary school, now a childrens and arts center. Very cool. But to set up my booth, I had a choice of hauling my stuff either across a giant field OR up a flight of stairs. That's like 10 heavy tubs and 6 steal racks, and all I had was my dinky little dolly to help. At the end of the (not awesome sales-wise) show, as I was contemplating the backbreaking work ahead... it started to rain. I couldn't believe it.

If we can recall a few years back, almost exactly 3 years, when a certain van broke down at the shows over and over... and finally culminated into an emergency hospital visit. Then we can see how this pattern of rain might freak a girl out a bit. In fact, my hubby just asked me the other night, "If it rains at the next one, does that mean you will have a heart attack??"

Not an entirely crazy question. I was kind of wondering that myself.

Anyway... all I can do is what I know how to do. Work and make stuff and keep hauling it around to sell it.

It's laugh or cry, and you can't cry all day long.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Free Crochet Patterns & Craft Tutorials List

I thought it would be handy to have a list of all my free crochet patterns and craft tutorials in one place. So here you go! 

These projects and patterns are the original designs of Bohemian Mermaid and are in all ways FREE. Go ahead and make them for sale, print and share, do whatever you like. Just please give credit to Bohemian Mermaid and link back to this blog.


~Crochet Patterns~  
~Craft Tutorials~  
RockStar Can Tiara (in progress)
~Wedding Geekout~

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Making the Daphne Book - Part 2

Well, I am long winded as usual, so I'm continuing from Part 1 where I talked about tools and materials I used for the Daphne Book. Now I'll get into the process I used for developing the quiet book pages. 

1. Design - I looked around the net a lot to get ideas, which also inspired more of my own ideas. Then I sat and sketched out my favorites. I thought about using different fasteners, counting, spelling, certain designs I knew I wanted to include like a robot and mermaid, etc. Very rough sketches, just to get the ideas down. I came up with 20 or so. Then I chose my favorites and decided I'd make 10 pages.  

2. Refine - When I had a design I knew for sure I wanted, I would start a new page in my sketchbook and draw it out in the correct size. My pages are 9"x9" finished. I drew a 9" square and penciled my design, making changes until it was just right including all the details. I kept everything at least 1/2" away from the edges. I also considered how much detail I could add without killing myself... keeping shapes simple and as large as possible. I added little notes about colors or construction when needed, like "folded yarn for grass" or "hand stitch peas". (This is a good time to think about how your page will best be constructed - whether one thing has to be added before another, or a special technique is needed - and note it. Sometimes you will just have to wing it when you get there. That's the fun part!)

3. Print - Next I print out a copy of the design to use as a pattern. For this reason, it's good to get a darker line on your final sketch above. If you decide your drawing needs to be bigger or changed somehow, scan it into your compy and do what you must before printing. I suggest printing 2 copies, in case you have overlapping pieces to cut or make a mistake. 

4. Cut and Cut - The pieces can now be cut out of paper and traced onto the fabric. I used a ballpoint pen. Cut 1 fabric + 1 fusible web for attaching directly to background, or 2 fabric + 2 fusible web for removable parts (front/back). Extra layers or details to be added will also need 1 fabric + 1 fusible web (like the frosting for the cupcakes).

5. Prepare Background - Cut out your background fabric to the finished page size plus the seam allowances. My pages were 9" square with 1/2" seams (x 2 sides, so 1" total) = 10" square. Press.

6. Prepare Loose Parts - For some of my designs, there were pieces that were only partially attached to the background, like the Cupcake pockets. For those, I cut the pieces and backed them with fusible interfacing, then zigzagged the loose edges before stitching to the background. For the fancy sheer bug wings, I found out that the best thing to do was zigzag the wing outline on the fabric BEFORE cutting. Seems like a duh now, but it took a lot of swearing before I figured that out. That's on my old school machine, if you have a serger or something fancy, I'm sure you'll have an easier time of things. 

7. Fuse - Stick the fusible web to the back of the fabric to be appliqued and position it on the background fabric. Press applique to background per the instructions of the bonding product you are using. Fuse details and extra layers (like stove burners and cupcake frosting).

8. Batting - All of the removable parts include batting for added stiffness. You could also add interfacing to make it superstiff, but I found the batting to work fine. The way I added batting to loose items like the cupcakes, was to use the fusible web on one fabric piece, fuse it to a piece of batting, then trim the batting around the fabric shape (I found this to be much easier than trying to cut the batting into a firm shape before fusing). Then, fuse the other fabric piece to the batting side, sandwiching the batting between. Now, it is ready for the sewing machine.

9. Stitch - Once all your pieces are fused into place, it's time to zigzag your little heart out.  Experiment first to find your ideal machine settings. All exposed edges must be zigzagged. Remember to stitch the edges of pockets before attaching them to the background. For the finer fabrics or removable parts, I stitched around them twice. For some details, I added simple straight stitching (like the frosting lines). I went back later and added hand embroidery, buttons, yarn and fabric pen details.

*Thanks again to How to Make a Quiet Book for the cupcake page idea, super cute!*

That is the basic process for making each page. I just repeated as I went along, sewing and sketching for 4 weeks. I made each page individually so that if I ran out of time, I would have completed pages (just fewer). It also kept me from getting bored with any one part of the process.

Cover -  I'm sorry I don't have many pics, but the cover and final construction took some thought, that's for sure. I cut the cover 1" bigger than the pages (1/2" on each side) and made it one big long rectangle. Before stitching the inside and outside cover pieces together, I added ribbon handles and a tab closure to the outside piece. To the inside piece, I added an inscription plate and a pocket for paper & crayons (when she's older) or little parts that fall off. After I got all that stuff figured out and put together, I added batting and stitched, turned, top stitched all around. 

Join Pages - I had 10 page designs, sewn back to back into 5 finished pages. Again, I added batting and stitched, turned, top stitched all around. Even though this part is pretty simple, it was a challenge to keep the pages square with all the stuff on them. If I were to do it again, I might fuse the pages to the batting... I chose not to do that because I thought it would make future repairs easier to do. [update: 5+ yrs later, no repairs have been needed. Success!]

Finishing - To attach my pages to the cover, I first took two finished pages, lined them up edge to edge, and ran a wide zigzag stitch between them. Then I was able to do a straight stitch down the center of the zigzag, attaching it to the cover. I did that with 2 pairs of pages. The last page I zigzagged directly onto the cover.

Tada!! If you have lots of time and patience, I highly recommend making one of these. I had a blast, and I still can't believe I finished the whole thing! I never finish giant projects like this... but for my little Daphne, anything.

Making the Daphne Book - Part 1

Man, can I just say again how fun this quiet book was to make?! Seriously fun. I guess I don't make things just for fun much anymore... getting into the zone of all the drawing, cutting, tracing, sewing. Figuring out stuff. It was very meditative, relaxing. I worked on this project for over 50 hrs, nearly every day for a month. And every time I got going, it was hard to stop. I needed that. It really got my happy artgirl juices flowing. Plus, who can beat this first birthday present? Nobody, that's who. It's all part of my plan for awesome auntie domination.
I shared pics of The Daphne Book, and now I'd like to share a little about my process. Let's start with the materials... 

Felt or Fabric or Both? After looking at many quiet books around the net, I decided using all fabric was the way to go for me. Certainly, felt is cheaper, easier to work with and could have saved me some headaches. But I just like the look of all fabric, and I wanted to go the old fashioned way. Totally a personal choice. Now, if I had a good stash of fabric or felt or whatever, I would have gone with what I had. What I did was go to the fabric store and buy remnants in every color (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, brown, natural). I ended up with an interesting mix of satins, flat weaves, flannels and nylon. The variety is great for this project, many different textures for baby. Most were solid colored, except for the red gingham and blues. I like the way the prints broke up the solids and added a little more fun.

Fusible Web - I bought a 5-sheet package of this stuff that is sticky on one side, so it sticks to the fabric while you're positioning it for fusing. It's stuck to a paper backing to start with, so tracing and cutting is a breeze. There are so many good products out there for quilters now! I also had a roll of fusible web tape, which was handy for smaller bits.

Fusible Interfacing - I had some scraps in my sewing box and that more than covered what I needed. I really only used it a few times for pockets.

Thin Batting - I went cheap on this too, going with what I had in my stash... a giant piece of polar fleece. Who knows where I got this?! It's maybe first generation polar fleece and very weird stuff. Anyway, I did like that it was not very lofty, plentiful and also free. It gave extra stiffness to removable parts and a little dimension here and there. I also lined all the pages with it. If the batting was too thick, I thought it could be hard to work with or the book too puffy.

Fasteners - Part of the idea of the book is to learn to use different fasteners, or to be able to match things together using some kind of fastener. I used velcro, snaps, zipper, buttons... all of which I had in the sewing box. I wanted to use magnets too, but had a hard time finding some that worked for me. 

Trims - I had a bunch of leftover ribbon from my wedding, and a decent pile of random yarns and trims. You really don't need much.

Thread - I bought a big bargain spool each of black and white thread. I was able to use them for most of the sewing. I used a few other colors from what I had on hand as well.

Other tools - For designing, making and tracing pattern pieces, etc... I used a sketch book, scanner/printer, pencil, ballpoint pen, ruler, paper scissors, fabric scissors, fabric pen.

Okay, on with the process... I didn't take many pics of the making, but I used the same process for all the pages. Let's see if I can turn them into a step-by-step in Part 2

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Daphne Book

Okay, today I was finally able to give my gift to my niece. The quiet book I've been working on for the past month. For her first birthday, I wanted to make her something special that she could enjoy for a while. This will be something she can use as she grows over the next few years. Each page has a learning/playing activity. I'm really happy with the way it turned out. It was so fun to do and some of the pages I just love. For now I'll post some pics, and I'll probably do another post about how I made it.

The little girl page has a dress that unbuttons and little undies inside. The dolly looks like the one I gave Lil D at her mom's baby shower, Alice Monkey Kitty. Below, the phone page for phone talking. Of course the headset comes off.

I was just thinking of things little kids like, so I made this pet the kitty page. I already had the fake fur. Oh and she can tie the bow on the kitty too. Some day. The one below is so cute! I'll find the link to where I got the idea (this How to Make a Quiet Book blog is full of great ideas and tutorials. Thank you!)... bake the cupcakes in the little oven. I added the numbers so it was also a counting activity.

Next we have the garden pages. Flowers with little bugs to play with, can be matched to the same colored flower. The wings are all 3d. The vegetable garden is probably my favorite of all the pages. The green veggies snap, the root veggies have little pockets. I crocheted the basket so she can gather all the veggies for harvest.

Little Daphne's parents do enjoy their robots and zombies. So, here you go. The robot has a zipper pocket with a little heart inside (general robot design inspired by Homemade by Jill, not shown here is a name page similar to hers as well. Great ideas!). The friendly zombie has parts that snap, for body part learning. Please note the standard tattered suit zombie uniform and the spaced out eyes.  

Certainly no craft project of this caliber would be complete without a mermaid. She doesn't do much, but the hair can be braided and there's a real pearl (from my wedding jewels) inside the shell. 

Friday, February 04, 2011


You think I should post more often than every other month? Oh. That's one way to go I guess...  

The truth is, I haven't had much to report. The usual winter hibernation activities. Like, uh, nothing. Okay, that's not entirely true. At least for the past couple weeks, I've been going to the beach (we've been lucky enough to have sun and 60deg for a while!) and sewing a top secret project for my little niece's 1st birthday. I think it's safe to tell you it's a quiet book, my brother & SIL don't read this very often. After her birthday, I might post some pics and info. It's SO much fun to do... and turning out really cute!

Back in Dec I did go through all my free crochet patterns and work up new samples of each. The idea was to take pics for a little pattern booklet. Most of those patterns were written years ago and the samples long gone. The only pics I can find are crappy, so I wanted new ones. I figured if I used good yarn, I could then give the hats as gifts... and maybe the crochet booklet too. I got half way there, made the hats and gave away a couple... but didn't take pics. It was a fun excuse to buy wool really. 

Anyway, now i have updates for all my patterns...little changes to make them even easier to understand. And a *new* free pattern for what I'm calling my Hip Hat. For mine I used this chunky wool blend yarn that is 'self shading'. It's different from just variagated or 'self striping', as the color change is very gradual. I LOVE this yarn! I will probably be selling it soon... 

I was thinking one reference page listing all the free patterns would be handy. So, I guess I'll do that. Oh, and a few people have posted pics of their Bohemian Mermaid pattern projects, so I'll link to those as well.