Trials of Self Employment

Sorry it’s been so long since my last post. As it turns out, starting and running your own business, even a small one, requires a lot of time, energy, and dedication, which has kept me beyond busy the past six months. Who knew, right?!

All joking aside, since my new work involves making plush toys, 80% of my time has been spent crocheting new dolls and fulfilling custom orders. The other 20% has been doing busy-work, like creating inventory lists, invoice trackers, expense spreadsheets, and trying to get set up on various sites like Etsy to be able to sell to more people. Which, for someone with little to no business/management experience, has been a challenge for sure. Even my sales skills could use a refresher, though after my first craft show, those skills did start to come back to me.

For those who are curious, my new little business is called Nerdvana Crafts, which can be found on Facebook here. Right now, I only have the Facebook page up and running, but with that page, future updates will be added.  Part of the reason for this is that I’ve been kept busy with custom orders for six months so I don’t have much inventory as of yet and thus didn’t have the necessary funds or products to be able to open up an Etsy shop. But now, my custom orders have taken a lull so I can focus on new inventory in order to set up shop.

If you’re interested in something, my repertoire consists of Disney princesses, Marvel superheroes, the cast of Frozen, Star Wars, and some Zelda characters, primarily Link in his different tunics and his fairy companions. I can also do custom people as well, as long as I’m given specific parameters: hair color/length, clothing styles and colors, and desired character size, to name a few. Feel free to email me at nerdvana.crafts.ls@gmail.com for a quote! I use cotton acrylic yarn, polyester fiberfill, and plastic safety eyes.

For more examples, please click here.

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Sewing Project #2 Part 3

Whoa, two and a half weeks and no posts? My apologies! It’s been a hectic couple weeks.

Anyway, my second sewing project, the Pokemon trainer cosplay has been finished!

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I’m happy to report that everything went well, with only one minor accident with the serger where I cut into the sleeve. It wasn’t too big a cut and was easily fixed and could be covered with a Pokemon patch. I’ll be sending it out tomorrow to its intended recipient and hopefully it fits. She already loves it, as I’ve sent her photos of the progress.

In addition, I’ve been working on crocheting more amigurumi, mostly little fairies inspired by Navi from Legend of Zelda. So far, I have 6 done in my “inventory” and yesterday I sold two to my brother for two of his friends. They’re super fun to make and don’t take a whole lot of time. Plus, I’m also hoping to work on other characters, like Link, Mario and Luigi, various Final Fantasy characters, and others. I have a list written down of all kinds of characters I could make. I’m hoping to turn it into a business, since our current workload doesn’t seem to be slowing down any and I’m worn out.

Anyway, this sewing project has given me more confidence in being able to sew on my own, especially with stretchy knits, which are probably what I’m going to be working with most. I also have about 10 patterns for cosplay I need to cut out, ranging from Vincent Valentine to Mal and Zoe from Firefly, and Princess Zelda. I’m excited to do all of them, once I have the money to buy the fabric. But having completed my first cosplay (for someone else), my mood has improved and my stress levels have gone down a little bit, and that’s the important part. ❤

Sewing Project #2: Part 2

Since my last post regarding this sewing project, I have obtained the rest of the fabric needed for the outfit, plus an additional yard and a half of a different, stretchy, pleather-y textured fabric for myself for a cosplay of my own, and I now have everything (I think!) to begin the actual sewing process.

I have a meeting on Saturday with a friend of my mother’s who is a seamstress and knows how to work with stretchy fabrics and will help teach me how to work with them. The only real qualm I have about this meeting is that I’ll be going by myself to her house to work. Normally this wouldn’t be a big deal, as I’ve been to her house twice, I know who she is, and I’ve made friends with her cat.

But for this particular meeting, I think what has my anxiety levels higher than normal is that it was made spur of the moment (we actually set it up yesterday), and because I’ve been extremely stressed out from work (running at 150% for over two months straight with no break except two hours sick leave and four days planned vacation) and not really having any peace and quiet to myself since early last week. I haven’t really had, or given myself time to mellow out and relax and not do anything. I had company Sunday and Monday, and while my parents were both off yesterday, during the time they were gone, I was working. And today, my dad decided to take a sick day and as I’ve mentioned before, he likes to watch TV and I can’t work with the TV on. So I’m hiding in the basement where I’m not as comfortable as I usually am and not having any natural light like normal either.

In any case, come Saturday, I may be hauling my own sewing machine and all of my materials to this woman’s house to start working on the Pokemon trainer cosplay, depending on whether or not she has a class to teach.

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In addition, I finished my first, all-by-myself amigurumi this week! I made them as housewarming gifts for Jerad because I didn’t know what to buy him. So here they are, Toon Link and Navi!

Amigurumi Link and Navi

I’m so proud of both of these, I’m considering making more! Navi can be in different colors and Link can have different colored tunics! I’m excited to get started on them!

Sewing Project #2

After my last sewing project, I was very nervous about doing another one, but as this one is for my best friend, I wanted to try harder to get it done for her for Halloween. This time, however, I chose to go into the store to pick out some of the fabric so I wasn’t as overwhelmed as my first adventure.

This will be my first cosplay attempt. I’m making a Pokemon trainer outfit that includes a romper, half jacket, and belt, and today I bought the fabric for the jacket, jacket/romper trim, and the craft foam for the belt. The pattern is already cut out so I just have to pin the fabric and get it cut out.

The difficulty in this project lies in the type of fabric we’re using. The sweater fleece should be ok, as it’s not too stretchy, but the romper fabric and the trim is an activewear type of fabric, which means it stretches a lot. The pattern calls for stretch knit, specifically activewear, but in getting what I got, it was simply a happy accident that it was the right type and color I needed. Now, I didn’t get all of the fabric I needed. The color that my best friend wanted is considered a fall color so I went in with the intention just to see what, if any, fabric was available in the desired color. Since it was, and there was so little of it, I decided to get it and it was also on sale. I still have to get the black stretch knit for the romper and I’ll do that next week.

But my mother and I have never worked with anything stretchy before so we’re hoping to get some help from a fellow seamstress/sewing teacher, either to help teach us how to sew this fabric without it stretching too much or to commission her to sew it for us. Given the time crunch, it might be more ideal to have her sew it for us, but I personally would like to learn how to sew with stretch knit fabric because I intend to work on several cosplays in the future that may require stretchy fabric. I just need to find time.

Until then, you’ll find me cutting out patterns and watching anime. ❤

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On the plus side, I finished my massive crochet blanket, at least for the moment. I’m still deciding on doing crocodile stitches on the straight edges, but I want to see how they look on the blanket before committing to that particular design. Here’s what the finished product looks like:

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And it’s warm, cozy, and big enough to wrap myself up like a burrito, exactly how I wanted. ^_^

Facing the Future Part 2

On a different, but related subject, today while dredging through my workload, my mind wandered to a variety of other tasks I would rather be doing instead of my daily grind. Things like cutting out patterns, playing video games, trying to catch up on recorded anime while crocheting, sleeping (which I actually did before noon; I took a half hour nap because I was so drained), etc.

As it was, I managed to push through my work so that I could spend the rest of my evening watching Netflix and cutting out a pattern. But these wandering snippets got me thinking on how much I dislike my work. Lately, it really does feel like work. Whereas other things like crocheting and gaming make me feel energized and alive. Even the prospect of cutting out a sewing pattern was more appealing than working.

Which got me thinking on how much better (or worse) life would be if I could actually spend my time making things for other people. I love crocheting blankets especially, but I can also make hats and I recently began making amigurumi, but as long as I have a pattern, I could make pretty much anything, because crocheting soothes my anxiety. And I might still be learning how to sew, but I think once I became skilled enough, I could probably do some cosplay stuff for other people beside myself. I think I would enjoy creating beautiful cosplay items.

This also comes on the back of someone close to me wanting to make and sell jewelry on Etsy, and this makes me want to do something similar because I have this love of creating things. I already work on my own schedule, but it would be nice to not have to be at a laptop all day since I also have problems with my eyes. Still, there’s no guarantee of success there either, especially not right now. Crocheting blankets is great and all, but blankets take time and on top of my other work, they take that much longer.

So while it was a nice thought to get me through my day, I’m not sure it’s quite right for me at this particular moment. Still, I’ll continue to make things as a hobby to soothe my anxious mind. Until next time…<3

The Power of Creation

As a writer, creating is something that’s ingrained in me. You might say it’s my lifeblood. I absolutely relish that feeling when something in my stories finally clicks and comes together in total perfection.

But lately, I’ve been feeling stifled in the writing area and every time I feel like writing, or have some urge of thoughts that need writing down, once I get to the page, they’re gone. Or as is in most cases, I can’t fully express whatever thoughts are going on in my head and I’m left unsatisfied.

Instead, as I’m sure most writers can appreciate, in the artful pursuit of mastering procrastination, I’ve been diving headfirst into my crochet projects, which give both a visible and tangible sense of creation. Take the abominable snow monster I was working on in the last post. I can pick him up, fill him with stuffing, touch and feel him…He’s a visible, tangible source of creation. The same goes for the blanket I’m working on, which has been set aside for the moment due to the Bumble. And just this morning, I had a burst of ideas jump out at me for future crochet projects, like an amigurumi Link and cosplay Silver/Gold Gauntlets from Legend of Zelda for my friend Jerad as a housewarming gift, and a My Little Pony Princess Cadence hat for my little niece.

Now I can’t be entirely sure why I’m getting all these creative bursts for yarn-related crafts; however since I’ve been crippled with what I can only describe as writer’s block since, well, January maybe, I’m guessing that’s what it is. There are still creative juices flowing. They’re just being focused through another outlet.

Writing isn’t as tangible, even if you’re writing in a notebook or printing off pages you typed up on the computer. You can’t see or touch or smell whatever it is you’re creating (unless you’re truly gifted and/or writing in a specific location that you’re basing your writing on, like a coffee shop, etc.). For me, anyway, there’s only the visualization process, where I can only see the characters and places I create in my mind’s eye. And lately, even that’s been getting more and more difficult for me to accomplish. It’s awful. It feels like an essential part of me is missing and I don’t know how to get it back. (Which is really resonating with me because I watched Moana last night before bed and it seems like that’s what happened to the “villain” of the story.)

Even now, in just trying to finish this post, my mind has gone completely blank. I hope this is not a sign of my gift with words is gone. I still have a book to finish writing/editing! But it’s more than just sitting down and getting it written, more than simply waiting for inspiration to strike (because let’s face it, sometimes inspiration strikes as rarely as lightning). It’s about being in the right mindset, being in the right mood, and being willing to shut everyone and everything out temporarily to get something, anything done on the page. And in such a fast-paced world, finding time to slow down is a challenge in itself.

What do you do to overcome writer’s block? Or overcome a challenge you’ve met in other ways, like a crafting project, a new workout routine, or even getting your dream job? How do you find the motivation to sit down (or stand up) and get whatever you’re working on finished? Please share your thoughts and comments below! Much love!! ❤ ❤

My First Sewing Project…Ugh

Part of this blog is about describing my own personal “reinvention” and part of reinventing myself is finding new things that I enjoy and not things I enjoyed because other people around me enjoyed them. One of the things I’ve wanted to learn how to do is sew and make my own costumes, because I’m kind of a tricky size and I don’t trust clothes made by other people because I don’t know how they’ll fit once I get them. So I wanted to learn to sew my own clothes just to be able to see how they fit as I’m making them, and then I can make my own adjustments. So the other day, I mentioned in a previous post about how I was playing with my “new” sewing machine, which was a rejected item for my grandma who decided she didn’t want it after the return date had passed. My mom and I spent about 45 minutes just learning where everything was on the machine, how to thread it, etc. and just how to change the style of stitches.

My mom had come to me a few days ago with a small, easy project for me to do as my first sewing project and as a birthday gift for my best friend’s daughter. So yesterday I had quite the adventure. First off, I decided to go to the mall to spend some time before popping in on this supposed journaling “class” my mom had told me about (which actually turned out not to be a class, but rather a hands-on demonstration to showcase fancy paper and glitter gel pens). Anyway, one of my stops in the mall was the Disney store to look around, maybe buy some birthday gifts for my adopted niece…The cell service in the store is spotty, so I had to keep walking around while I was texting my best friend asking different questions about what was available in the store. I probably spent half an hour in there just walking around kind of slowly, holding a bag of dolls and waiting for responses in the spotty service. Doing this made me feel a bit like a creeper, because I don’t have a kid that I could’ve brought in with me, like all the other parents were, and I was just taking laps around the store.

Eventually I made my purchases and was on my way to the store where my mom works to check out this “class” she had told me about. When I got there I was a little disappointed to see that the journaling stuff was just on a table at the front of the store with stickers, pens, and other random things. And then, my mom told me, “Why don’t you go find some fabric for your first sewing project?” Which is a little girl’s skirt for my best friend’s daughter. Ok, not a big deal. I wandered over to the kids fabric section and started looking around for stuff this girl likes, like My Little Pony and Shopkins. After a lap, I found the perfect fabric: Shopkins with rainbows, since her favorite color is all of them. I take it back to my mom and she tells me to go find a second piece…

By this point, I’m already tired from walking around the mall. My feet and back hurt. But I nod and smile and look around. The only problem is, even for a small store, there are TONS of fabric options and all I know is what fabrics not to match with the one I chose, like no fleece or flannel, etc. I spent the next 15 to 20 minutes walking around trying to find something to match, but I didn’t like anything I found. It was either too dark or too light, or just not right for the fabric. And after my experience in the Disney store, my anxiety was already pretty high. So now I’m even more overwhelmed and scared I’m not going to find a matching fabric, and my inner monologue was on a continuous loop of, “I just want to go home. Let’s go home.”

After 20 minutes, I go back to my mom with this look of disappointment on my face, desperately trying not to show her or anyone else how panicked and desperate I feel inside. She’s talking to this lady, another customer, who then suggested I take a strip of each color of the rainbow and sew them together. I really wanted to tell this person, “You know what, lady? I’ve played with my sewing machine for all of 20 minutes just learning my stitches, and 45 minutes just trying to learn the ins and outs of it, like threading the damn thing. This is too much work for me.” Of course, I’m cranky and tired and overwhelmed and I hold my tongue. When I tell my mom I couldn’t find anything and I don’t want to do this strip idea, she suggests this type of ribbon, which I had to ask the other manager, who I actually like and like to bother because it’s funny, where to find this ribbon. I finally find the ribbon and start looking through what’s there and I find the perfect one. It’s Shopkins themed and it fits with the fabric I picked out. It’s perfect.

I take both items back to my mom, having now been in the store 45 minutes just doing laps again, and she asks if I want her to get it cut later or if I want to get it cut now and pay for it myself. And now, I’m mentally exhausted. My back really hurts and I need to go home. So I tell her I’ll put it back behind the counter for her to do later, which I do, and then I went home and spent my day in the basement gaming just to calm myself down.

She comes home later that night and says she forgot the ribbon I had picked out. -_- I was very upset about that, even though I didn’t show it. After all that work and effort I had put into finding something for this project, she forgets one of the pieces. Needless to say, this was not a good start to what could potentially be a great new hobby and experiences like this make me not want to start anything new. One of the drawbacks of being a perfectionist is I don’t like to make mistakes, even when it’s something I’ve never done before. And I need things explained to me like you would a child, and in a visual way, since I’m a visual learner. In any case, having all of this information thrown at me and being surrounded by a thousand choices was way more overwhelming than I thought it would be and I’m almost not looking forward to making this skirt.