Saturday, May 10, 2014

The Skinny On Ordering (aka Ordering Woes)

I am often asked why an item may take a while to be ordered and mailed.

In our industry, more than 99% of the vendors we deal with are small companies. While we purchase Zweigart fabric and DMC and other threads, we don't deal directly with them, but purchase through distributors here in the US. To put it into context, my local bakery (Crust here in Fenton) has more employees than most of the companies we purchase directly from.

Most are 1-2 people companies with a handful (Wichelt, Kreinik, Week's Dye Works, Norden Crafts, Fleur de Paris) having maybe 6 to 10 employees. While many cross-stitch designers also sell through one of the distributors that's not true of most thread and fabric dyers. So when you place an order for say, fabric from 4 different companies, threads from 6 more, a mug, a frame or a couple of charts, chances are we have to order from 2-10 vendors.

Where orders with most vendors took 1-2 weeks, that has now changed to more like 2-4 weeks and that's from the time we place the order. Our industry still has not recovered to pre-2008 levels and that means all of us tightened our belts. We are not able to carry as much stock as we once did nor can our vendors or distributors. So a hand-dyer of threads or fibers might no longer keep a deep inventory in stock but have to dye as needed, which means it can take longer to get orders than it once did. Plus, they all have lives outside of our industry and jury duty, an illness, a family emergency or even an unexpected school holiday can throw a spanner in the works (designers do not have 'staff' to fill in for them as they work out of their homes).

Some vendors we may only order from a few times a year; with many others once or twice a month. And, the only distributors we order from "nearly" every week are Hoffman, Norden, Wichelt and Yarn Tree. But they frequently have to backorder items to us or tell us to reorder until their shipments are filled (they have minimum order requirements to meet too from the manufacturers) and arrive back in their warehouses.

Speaking of minimum ordering amounts ... some of our companies have set dollar minimums we have to meet. until we have enough orders to meet their minimums, we cannot place our orders. And, with the companies that do dying of fabric and threads, they have to have enough yardage orders to dye a certain color before they can make that dye bath up. When they do have that minimum requirement met, those dye orders are then placed in queue to be dyed behind their existing orders.

My hope in explaining this is that you'll have a better understanding of why your orders don't magically appear and why it may take longer than you think it should. If you have a deadline for a project, let us know when you place an order and we can tell you if we think we can meet it. If not, we'll see if we can help you find an alternate, or see if another shop might have what you need. We are small industry and you would be surprised how many times we all reach out to our fellow shop owners to find things we don't have in our stock!

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Another FUN Finishing On-Line Class!

Those of you who took the last Online Finishing Class with Jen Funk Webber will be excited to hear about another Finishing Class coming up May 5th!
It's a class on Hemstitching.

Do you have completed embroideries tucked away in a drawer, waiting to be finished into something that can be displayed? Would you rather not pay hundreds of dollars to have them framed? Are you running out of wall space to display your embroidery? Would you like to finish a piece that can stand alone (think: table runner, placemat, window treatment) or be added to a tote or jacket? Well, we've got just the thing, and you've found it!

ALL the details can be found here:

Best of all, you get a SPECIAL CODE so that you can get 10% off: LOVEMYINDIESHOP You type this code into the coupon code box at checkout ... type it as ALL caps. Four words, ALL smooshed together ... and you'll get the discount.

Sign up now, so that on May 5th, you'll learn the fun and flexibility of hemming fabric edges to create useful and decorative stitched pieces. These pieces can then stand alone (placemats), be creatively framed (float mounted), be stitched or snapped to a tote or jacket or pillow or folder or, or, or...! There's no end to what you can create when your needlework isn't confined in a frame.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Nashville Needlework Market In My Future!

It's nearly time once again to make the trek to Nashville Tennessee for the  TNNA Needlework Market! 
I wish it were possible to convey even a portion of the magic and electricity you feel at a trade show!  You know what it's like to walk into a needlework store .. well, this is the same thing .. but we shops get to walk into the paradise of a designers 'store'!  This Market is held in an Embassy Suites hotel .. that's where the floor/rooms are on the outside walls surrounding an atrium in the middle.  So if you stand on the first floor in the middle of that atrium and look up, you'll see all the balconies bedecked with banners of the designers and companies that are attending to show us shops all of their newest designs and wares!
When you get off the elevator onto each show floor, you'll find all of the outside walls and windows with pictures, product and other decorations to entice you into that room.

Each designer/company sets up 'shop' in the first part of their suite, so when you walk through the door, you see displays and stitched models and all kinds of other stitching eye candy!  They turn their 'bedroom' into their 'warehouse' .. that's where they keep all the product so  that when we make our purchases, they (or their helpers) disappear into that back area, package up our goodies, take our money and send us cheerfully upon our way ... into the next room.

The pictures above are all from past Needlework Markets, but you get the idea!
You may know by now that I always try to put up a Nashville Sneak Peeks Page, and it's up and live now!  But .. I'm also putting a good amount of the 'new' up on my catalog What's New pages.  Either way you get to see a 'glimpse' of only SOME of the things we'll be seeing and/or buying and/or bringing back to the shop.  I'd love to be able to buy it all in unlimited quantities, but that's a bit impossible.  So .. what YOU need to do is this:  check out both web sites ... mark down what you'd like me to bring back for you .. and then email me, the shop, at and let us know.  Pretty cool knowing you'll have a Personal Shopper just for you at a Needlework Market, huh?!  If you don't let me know what to buy, I may not bring that one item you MUST have back with me, or .. I might bring it back, but not enough!   Help Me Help You!

Friday is our 'class day', learning new techniques or information.  Friday evening, for two incredibly short hours, is when we get to begin shopping .. with those designers who decided to open up early.  The actual Market begins at 9am on Saturday and ends at 6pm, then again on Sunday from 9am till 4pm.  Exhausting but Invigorating but Exhausting!  When it's all over, Monday morning Debbie and I will be furiously trying to cram each box and every bag into my VUE-hicle, and begin the trek back to Michigan and my shop.  Then we spend two days of doing nothing but filling your orders, putting the items up on my web catalog (those we didn't have time to do in the evenings at Market or on the way home), and trying to make room in the shop for all the wonderful NEW we brought back with us!!  Crazy Fun!!

Saturday, January 25, 2014

D-I-Y Framing Class Winner

Winner, winner, chicken dinner!

Alas, our first winner has not been in touch, and we do not have contact information for her, so back we went to the hat with all the numbers.

The random number generator has spoken, and the winner is...


Steve Wells


Congratulations! Steve, I'll be in touch.

Everyone Wins!

We know that learning to frame your embroidery is important and rewarding. It can save you heaps of money (for your next stitchy projects!), and it's oh-so satisfying to complete a needlework project on your own from start to finish. We want to help, so we've got a special deal for you.

Sign up for the class and use the code STITCHINMOOSE for 10% off!

Sign up now!

Psst! The coupon code also works with the already discounted Finish It In '14 package that includes the following four classes:

  • D-I-Y Framing
  • Soft-Edge Finishing: Hemstitching
  • Piecing (Wall hangings, table runners, etc. Quilting without the actual quilting!)
  • Pillowpalooza
This offer is good through 2/3/2014. Happy Finishing in '14!


Saturday, January 18, 2014

The Making of a D-I-Y-er

I blame my parents, my father in particular. As a kid, when I wanted something, his stock answer was, "Make it."

How I despised that answer! Maybe I didn't think I could make it; maybe I didn't want to take the time to make it. Whatever it was, I didn't want to make it even if I could. I wanted it new, from the store, now.

But guess what: That "make it" answer stuck. I heard it so often it grew into me. It was reinforced by my parents' crafty natures. My mother made our clothes. My father could whip up a Halloween costume like nobody's business. Our dining room table became Craft Central while we made holiday ornaments for neighbors and friends.

It can surprise no one that I became an extreme D-I-Y-er. When something needs to be done, my first thought is, "How do I do it?"

Move three tons of dirt and gravel with a shovel and 5-gallon buckets? Okay.

Build a house? Of course.

Wire it for electricity? Sure. Let me read this book first.

Grow food for a year? Uh-huh.

Frame this cross stitch piece? No problem.

In the Beginning

After designing and stitching Termination Dust and The Great Outdoors, I asked my mother to help me frame them. She'd just taken a framing class—she had artwork of her own to frame—which gave her access to a framing studio with tools and supplies. We spent a long time choosing colors, cutting mats and glass, cutting and assembling the frames. It was great fun and a great learning experience. I love the results, warts and all.

When I began selling cross stitch patterns, I continued to finish my needlework myself...most of the time. I have taken a few pieces to professional framers. It's all good! Over time, I developed my favorite techniques (I prefer lacing my embroidery to the mounting board), but I also love to experiment and learn new things. I think my priorities are

  1. Do it myself
  2. Do it differently; i.e., in some interesting or unique way

When Problems Arise: Get Creative

Let's be honest, things don't always go smoothly in D-I-Y.

I once stitched a birth sampler with the fabric turned the wrong direction. The long side of the fabric should have been horizontal, and I had it vertical. I was well into the stitching before I discovered my mistake. (Yeah—du-uh!) You know the choices: I could stop stitching and start over, or I could deal with it. I chose the latter.

There wasn't enough fabric to frame the piece "properly." This isn't a unique problem—be honest, have you ever skimped on the amount of fabric you left around the border of your needlework? The fix for this is to sew a fabric (muslin is a good choice) border around the edge to provide enough fabric to work with, so that was my plan. In the end, I skipped the plain muslin and chose a quilting calico that could double as the mat. I added ribbon on the seam just for fun.

D-I-Y Framing Online Class

I've always enjoyed finishing as much as stitching, whether it's framing, edge stitching, quilting, pillow making, or something else. The more I stitch, the more I want to explore different finishes and uses for needlework.

I asked fellow stitchers what they need most help with, and the answer was, overwhelmingly, finishing. Well all right then; let's do some finishing!

The first Finish It In '14 class is D-I-Y Framing, and it begins on February 3, 2014. We will learn the following:

  • How to clean, block, and press embroidery
  • How to mount embroidery to a backing
  • How to choose and/or make a mat—or not
  • How to choose and/or make a frame
  • Whether to use glass or not
  • How to finish the back side and add hardware

Four written lessons will be delivered weekly, giving you plenty of time to read and execute them. You can download the pdfs so you have them for future use. You'll be able to ask questions and share photos in a private Yahoo! group, so you can get help with your particular projects. We'll discuss creative mat and frame options and get tips from pros.

Did I mention we'll have some fun, too? Of course we will!

Win a Free Front-Row Seat in the Class!

Want to win a spot in the class? We're giving one away!

Leave a comment with your most pressing question about finishing embroidery.

The random number generator will pick a winner on January 25th.

A Word of Caution

Lest you think my father's repeated suggestion to "make it" was a brilliant idea that you're tempted to adopt, I think you should be warned. In general, I'm grateful for the self-sufficiency my father instilled in me with his annoying answer, but in the deep recesses of my adult being, there's still a little girl who feels deprived. She says, "Just wait, Dad, until you need surgery for something. Surely there's a how-to book or tutorial online for that. Give me a sec, and I'll be right with you."

Proceed with caution.


Don't forget to leave a comment with your most pressing needlework finishing question for a chance to win a free spot in the D-I-Y Framing class!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

To Market To Market and back again!

After that Artic Vortex Winter Blast we had, it was an absolute JOY to leave my shop for 6 days to attend the TNNA (The National Needlearts Association) Winter Trade Show in sunny warm San Diego California!
A full day of meetings, an afternoon of business and technique classes, an evening of fun shopping at The Sample It (where we were able to purchase "some" of the new items that would be shown during the Trade Show), eats and drinks at the Needlepoint Showcase (where I WON a drawing and received a crisp $100 bill!!), and then off for some off-site fun with friends.  Saturday, Sunday and Monday I shopped the trade show convention floor, viewed the New Product Showcase, watched a needlearts Sand Castle being built right before our eyes (over two days!), and met with old and new friends within the industry .. shop owners and designers!


It was an exhausting time, but profitable .. in seeing what color trends were, seeing display ideas, seeing design ideas, finding new goodies to bring back to the shop, networking with other shops and talking with everyone from this fantastic industry that were there!  I know shop owners who says they cannot afford to go to Market ... I say that I cannot afford NOT to attend Market! It's where you learn, it's where you are inspired, it's where you find ways to advance your business, it's where you are exposed to ALL of the Needlearts, seeing how they inter-relate, discovering the excitement of and the people who love them!
It just a few weeks I leave again .. to attend another Needlework Market, this time in Nashville.  A

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Ornament Finishing Techniques

I am SO not an expert finisher.  I didn't do well in Home Economics with sewing and I do not own a sewing machine (instrument of terror!), so I've had to learn how to do simple finishing myself.
This link will give you a great tutorial for finishing your Christmas ornaments (or scissor fobs or whatever) for a nice look!  You simply stitch a simple back stitch around your design and on a matching piece of cross stitch fabric (nice place to put another quick holiday motif or your initials and date or a monogram for the person you're giving it to!).   In fact, they even add beads for a really decorative finish!

You might try to incorporate a Four-Sided Stitch in place of that simple backstitch on both pieces of fabric for a more decorative finish!  You simply fold the excess fabric at the outer edge of your four-sided stitch on each fabric piece .. pinch those two edges together .. and lace the stitches!  Like this (scroll down about halfway the page, just under the different stitch illustrations):
Here's an example of one of Fern Ridge Collection's designs finished that way with a corded hanger added.

And for adding a corded trim .. with my favorite tool the Spinster Cording Drill, you might try this finishing technique (scroll down a bit to see the trim addition):
On the above ornament .. the cording was inserted through the ornament and then the lacing stitch on the Four-Sided Stitch was completed.
The same 'stitching technique' for adhering the cord to the ornament would work for adding the cool hand-dyed  Chenille and Rick Rack trims that our R&R and FromThe Cauldron companies offer!!