Nest Fabric by Tula Pink

Monday, November 3, 2008

The strenuous activity of removing my camera from its single-clasped case seems to be a task that requires Herculean efforts, in my case anyway. It is a hurdle I find great difficulty in overcoming. What else can be the reason why I am SO extremely lame at updating my blog and my website, both of which I have neglected for 1.5 months. Sigh. But I managed to get my rear in gear today and finally take a photo of something I've recently made.

Here's a photo of a set of wristlets I made with a collection of fabrics called "Nest" by Tula Pink. I love the fun colors and how all the fabrics have a subtle reference to birds. Look closely, and you'll see eggs, bird feet, feathery plumes, and entire birds. The fabric just happens to perfectly match my little wrought iron stand.

Some of these are going to a store in San Anselmo called Various & Sundries. And some I'm saving for my next sales event at Cline Cellars later this month.


Napa Show -

Monday, September 15, 2008

Last weekend, I had a booth at the Napa Art & Wine Faire. It was a VERY successful show for me. My wonderfully kind husband helped me the whole day--it's so nice to have his support! He's the best!

The Cork Collection was the talk of the show. Being that it was in Napa, with the wine tie-in, it certainly makes sense. People were extremely complimentary, and I got some follow-ups from retailers who are interested in carrying Sheekoo items in their stores. So exciting!

The number one question about the cork is, "how well does it hold up?" I explain that it is very durable, maybe just a notch under leather. Next time, I'm going to bring some cork fabric scraps so people can touch it, crumple it, maybe even pour some water or wine onto it.

My new cork fabric arrives later this week. I can't wait to make something out of it--it's going to be gorgeous!


New Home Page Pic - Cork Bags

Monday, September 1, 2008

Finally, I am updating my website! I try to add new items at the beginning of every month. Although I enjoy making the bags, it's more of an effort for me to photograph and list them.

It also doesn't help when I take a ton of photos, only to find out that the memory card in my camera is NOT remembering any of them. Which is what happened today. I thought my memory card had gone senile, so I ran out to Radio Shack to get a new one. Come to find out, the memory card wasn't the problem after all. However, after a modicum of frustration, I got everything up and running again.

So...(drum roll) here's The Cork Collection.

I have sold these at my last couple of events, and they were quite the attraction. Cork fabric is still a pretty new concept, so everyone likes to come and see, touch, and even smell them. I would say that men are even more interested than the women, so I will definitely be adding some men's items to the line. In fact, my husband has been using his cork wallet for the past few weeks.

I ordered two gorgeous and super high quality cork fabrics last week, and they should arrive in mid-September--so watch for those new items! I am expecting them to fly off my shelves, and I don't say that flippantly! It's just that the cork is THAT beautiful!


WHO does Sarah Palin remind me of???

Friday, August 29, 2008

That was the question running through my mind all day today. Finally, this evening, I came up with the answer! Anybody agree with me??

It's the fairy godmother from Shrek (maybe Shrek II?)!!


I Hate Naked Ladies

Friday, August 8, 2008

Around my neck of the woods at this time of year, a profusion of pale pink flowers start to bloom. They come up along roadsides, around trees, near fences, as well as in peoples' yards. These flowers grow on brown stalks and have no leaves to adorn them. I suppose that the astonishing lack of leaves or any hint of green on them is what gave them the name, Naked Ladies, although they are also called belladonna lilies.

For some reason, I HATE this flower. I really don't hate that many things--but these flowers, flourishing and reproducing themselves every year in larger quantities, just give me such an annoyed reaction. Now, if they were on green stalks and had some sort of leaf, I think I would like them very much. But those brown spindly stems make them seem like an abomination. Or if they grew in a green field where their stems were hidden, even that would be acceptable. But I live in a region where the summers are extremely dry (no rain has fallen here for months). These naked ladies seem to flourish in dry plots where not much else is growing--so they stand out, showing their nakedness all alone.

I wonder if part of my distaste for this flower is because of the time of year when it blooms. They signal the approaching end of summer and the time when we rev up to back-to-school mode. No more lollygagging in the heat of long summer days, no more illusions of whiling away on a lawn chair, slightly bored, but in a way that is relaxing and renewing.

Okay, so I never really lollygag or while away any day or take much time to sit in lawn chairs--and I'm pretty much never bored. But the POSSIBILITY of those things seems to end when those infernal naked ladies start popping up everywhere.

I may never understand my hatred for these flowers, but at the same time, they don't stay in bloom for very long. They'll be shriveled up and lose their petals before I know it. And even though I hate them, that thought makes me a little melancholy.


While These Moments Are Still Called "Today"

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Wow! Where does the time go? I can't believe it's already August. I've already taken my girls shopping for back-to-school clothes. The countdown has begun.

I am usually an ultra-productive person. I like to fill every minute of my day with tasks--work, sewing, housework, cooking, shopping, gardening, exercise....I never have enough minutes in the day to do all the things I'd like to do. Even when I watch TV, I have to multi-task. I save some of my handsewing to do while watching, or I have a knitting project at the ready.

Today, I spent the morning taking photos of my bags so I could post them on my website--something that I haven't done for MONTHS! It's not one of my favorite things to do. Here's one of my new bags:

Then, because I had asked the girls to clean out their bookshelves, they brought me STACKS of books that they had outgrown. We took photos of those and listed them on eBay. So, I ended up spending the better part of the day at the computer.

After that, I just wanted to VEG and do nothing. So I did! I watched some mindless TV withOUT working on ANY projects! My husband and I went for a walk after dinner (it was a gorgeous day), and we talked about what we want to do when we retire someday (we're only in our 40s, so we still have, like, 30 years to go--we like to plan ahead).

Ahhhh, it really felt so good to NOT accomplish much this afternoon and evening. I got some necessary things done this morning, so I didn't have to feel like a total slug. But I realize that I need to allow myself downtime more often. Life is too precious, and time passes WAY too quickly.

Here's a recent photo of my daughters. They are both taller than me now, although since I'm only 5' tall, it wasn't that difficult for them to bypass me. Still, my babies are almost all grown up--BUT there's still time to be savored and relished with them. They still like being read to at night, hanging out at home during the day, eating dinner all together, making popcorn and watching our favorite shows on TV. Life is good, and it was nice to stop and smell the roses, "while these moments are still called today" (Emily Saliers of the Indigo Girls, "History of Us").


Back Up Your Hard Drive!!!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

I own a Dell laptop, a hand-me-down from my very generous sister, who gave it to me about 4-5 years ago. Though it was in great condition when she gave it to me, other than being a couple years old, it now has a lot of little quirks to it. For one, the Ctrl button doesn't work, which means all the nifty shortcuts, like Ctrl-C to paste or Ctrl-alt-delete to get to the task manager, all don't work.

Also, no accessories can be plugged into it when it's turning on--or it doesn't ever make it to the Windows screen. So I have to pull out the printer cable and the mouse cord, and any other USB cables. After it's turned all the way on, then I can plug everything back in. Yes, it's a pain in the butt.

But I have loved this computer and hope to be able to squeeze a few more years out of it. HOWEVER, a couple weeks ago, it started to act a bit funnier than usual. It gave me a dreaded blue screen, saying bladdadee blah blah. I didn't really pay very much attention to it.

Dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb. A few days later, I found it in a horrible state. It was making a LOUD buzzing noise, and the screen had an ugly message, saying that my hard drive had failed. My hard drive, and all the information I had stored on it, was gone.

Because I am a super cheapomatic person, I wasn't about to take my computer to a fix-it shop and pay hundreds of dollars to fix it. I got on eBay, found this replacement hard drive, with 2x the memory of my old one, and with Windows pre-installed on it--for $40. Plus $10 shipping and handling (the S&H people charge on eBay is highway robbery).

It came from across the US in just 2 days (I guess USPS isn't always slow), and I popped my old hard drive out, and installed the new one in under 3 minutes. I did have to reload all my drivers and software--but now my computer works 10x better than before. It is so quiet and fast, and I love having Windows XP (I only had Windows 2000 before).

For any of you reading this, though, I hope you will learn from my mistakes--and back up your files!!! Thankfully, I didn't lose too much information (I store most of my files on an external hard drive)--but I did lose all my emails and email contacts, and all my bookmarks, which had tons of research for shows and events. An easy way to back up your files is through a service called You sign up with them, and for different fees (they also offer a free service, I think), it will automatically back up your computer every night, or however often you decide.

A few days before my computer died, I had met a wonderful woman in Florida who sent me all kinds of information on sewing machines. But I lost all the information she sent me with my hard drive failure. She was telling me about Bernina and Pfaff sewing machines on CraigsList and had found my blog by accident. If you are reading this post, please email me because I don't remember your email address, and it was one of the things I was saddest to lose!


One of My Favorite Sewing Tools

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Certain members of my immediate family (actually, all members of my immediate family) scoffed at me when I recently purchased this wear-on-top-of-your-head flashlight. Sure, it makes me look rather goofy when I wear it, but it is one of the best pieces of equipment I have bought for my purse making business. At the bargain basement price of 99 cents on eBay (plus $10 shipping), it was well worth every cent.

I don't wear this contraption ALL the time, but it's great for when I'm hand sewing at night or working on black fabric. Even with good overhead lighting, sometimes it's still hard to see what I'm doing. This tool came in super handy while I sewed in the lining of the Amy Butler bag with cranes from my previous post. That bag is DEEP, and it's hard to direct light in there. (The lining needs to be handsewn around the zipper.)

Plus, my husband and daughters will all be jealous when we go camping this summer. They will have to lug their flashlights around in hand, while my arms can swing freely and unencumbered. Who will have the last laugh then?


Custom Order for Overnight Tote

This is a custom order for an overnight tote that I made from Amy Butler's pattern. Being that it's the second time I made it, I added some improvements that take it from "good" to "great."

As the pattern calls for, it has 4 outer pockets, all topped with rigid welting for terrific structure. I increased the length of the handles slightly for easier over-the-shoulder wearing.

I added inner pockets, these shown (great for undies and socks, in my opinion), and also an inner zipped pocket.

And the best improvement of all--a vinyl bottom with purse feet, to help keep the bag clean on dirty airport floors.

I like this bag so much, I think I'm going to have to make another one for myself!


Obsessed with Vinyl

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

I'm obsessed with vinyl! Why? Don't ask me, I don't know. Well, okay, I guess I do know why. It's because vinyl's properties are so low maintenance. Like felt, it doesn't fray (sometimes it does, but just a tiny bit, and I use scissors to cut off any offending threads). This means that it can be cut and punched in all sorts of configurations, and it doesn't have to be hemmed or stitched down. It's also got a lot of shape and stability to it, so it doesn't require interfacing.

Here are some coin purses I made with the amazing stuff.

I'm so glad I didn't get rid of all my scrapbooking hand punches because with a little coaxing, they work great (not super great) on the vinyl. I have a Zip'E Mate die cut machine, too, which I think is the ticket--but I don't have many dies to go with it. Gotta save up those Michael's coupons when I get 'em!

I've signed up for a bunch of events to sell my bags at (that's bad grammar, those dang dangling prepositions). I don't know if selling at events is really my bag, though. Especially those 2-day events, which are mentally, physically, and socially exhausting. If only I had an extrovert button I could push on myself, and voila, I'd be so excited to be out there, face to face with thousands of people. I'm in a quandary about whether to try to pursue more wholesale accounts, or sell them myself at the shows. No answers forthcoming today.


Craigs List Crazy

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Anyone who knows me well knows that I have a bit of an obsession with Craigs List. I just like to look. I like to look at jobs (even though I'm not looking for one for myself), I like to look at gigs (even though I'm too busy to do any of them), I like to see what people are giving away for free (even though I don't have room for any more stuff).

Well, I got it into my head that I need an industrial sewing machine. My bag business is going really well, and I work the heck out of my expensive Bernina. I love my Bernina, but it has its limits. It would be great to have an industrial machine that will easily go through 4-8 layers of heavy fabric, especially when it comes to topstitching on straps and things like that.

So, yesterday on Craigs List, I found a pristine-looking Juki industrial machine for only $250. An alterations shop was going out of business, about 45 minutes from my house. Even at this price, I wavered on whether to take the plunge (I'm extremely cheap). I decided that it would definitely be worth it, and I drove all the way there. Gas is so expensive, so even though it was close to 90 degrees, I didn't even turn on the AC in my car! Alas, I got to the alterations shop, only to be told that she had already sold the machine a couple hours before!!!!!

Ugh, I was SO disappointed. SO SO SO disappointed. And of course now I will never find another machine in such good condition for so little money. I snoozed, I loozed.

But I cheered myself up by making a couple vinyl bags. I love working with vinyl, and even though I might love it even MORE on an industrial sewing machine, I was happy with the way these turned out. I broke out some of my old scrapbooking paraphernalia--a circle punch, my EK Success circle scissors, and even my eyelets and eyelet setter.


I Heart Audiobooks

Sunday, June 1, 2008

This is something I've been meaning to blog for a while, so I thought I'd just do it, instead of procrastinating it any further.

One thing that has been such a joy to me is listening to audiobooks while I sew. For one thing, I LOVE to multi-task. And sitting and sewing in the garage for hours can get a bit lonely at times. But listening to audiobooks allows my mind to stretched, entertained, and engaged, while my fingers guide the fabric and my foot presses the sewing machine pedal.

Lately, I purchased a good pair of wireless headphones. They recharge automatically when I'm not using them, which is awesome, so I don't have to keep recharging AAA batteries. Headphones are crucial when sewing, because it's hard to hear over the racket made by the sewing machine. Wireless is great, since I'm constantly moving from the sewing machine to the iron to the cutting table. Sure, these are all inches from each other in my tiny little sewing area--but still, it's nice to not be impeded or obstructed by wires.

I used to pay a lot of money for audiobooks. I had a membership on, and I also bought a lot of used audiobook CDs from eBay. BUT NOW...(drum roll) can download audiobooks from the library website for FREE!!! Can I tell you how happy this makes me? Yes, it makes me super happy. It's cheap, and it's just about inexhaustible because more and more books are being recorded all the time.

My last listen was The Sex Lives of Cannibals, which I recommend highly. It's funny, it's true, and it's educational. I had never heard of Kiribati before, and the author's description of life on this tiny island is hilarious, and also sad at the same time. What a crazy world we live in.

I am giving my listens a star rating system, in case anyone wants to know what all the asterisks are after the titles. I like being able to keep track of the ones I've listened to here on my blog. Even my blog likes to multi-task!


Arts & Crafts Fair Successful!

I just finished selling at a 2-day event on Sonoma Plaza. Although I'm exhausted, the show was successful, and I realize how far I've come in the past year. I remember how scared I was at my first event, wondering whether ANYBODY would be interested in my bags, much less buy any from me. I imagined myself standing there, alone, while everyone passed by my table. I worried that I would feel stupid and embarrassed.

Now, after 4 events under my belt, at least I'm past the fear. My bags are always well-received. Though not everyone buys, the ones that stop to browse are very complimentary, saying that my workmanship is terrific, they love my fabric choices and styles. They say my prices are good (an area I'm still working to get a better grip upon), and that I have a wide range of price points for all types of shoppers.

Even though the economy is crappy and the gas prices get higher by the second, I feel like my little Sheekoo biz is doing quite well. If only I could make more items! I always have way more ideas than the time to bring them to fruition.

I had a lot of friends come out to keep me company--which is SUCH a big help. Thanks to Lisa, Teresa, Karen, and all the Knuths!! And my husband and daughters also came and helped me. And thanks to Theresa Rhodes for all her talking me up to all her mommy friends!


Almost 1 Year

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Hard to believe it has been about a year since I started Sheekoo. I remember starting to work on the 300 fashion show bags about this time last year. I was so worried and skeptical then. I'm STILL worried and skeptical--but a little less so, I guess.

I am so fortunate to have been able to make a slow transition from my day job to my making it on my own business. My husband has been awesomely supportive, saying that we are okay financially for me to bring in less money for a while. And it has worked out great with my bosses, Rob and Bonnie, since they have been slowly transitioning and phasing out their business, allowing me to work fewer and fewer hours. I was working every day until the beginning of this year. Then, in about February, I cut back to 3 days a week. Starting this week, I will further cut back to 2 days a week--and probably over the summer, I will only work on an as-needed basis. Hopefully, I will only be needed a few hours a month.

This has provided me with a steady (although diminishing) income, since I'm putting everything I make with Sheekoo back into the business. Right now, my checking account is extremely paltry because I have paid for booths at a couple of upcoming shows. I have also made some big investments in bag hardware (big to me, although it's only about $200-300). I have another idea that might catapult my business--but it also requires a fairly large outlay of money for the supplies. But I think it's definitely worth pursuing.

I have a show at The Sonoma Plaza this weekend, both Saturday and Sunday. So I spent all of Memorial Day Weekend sewing, sewing, sewing. But I enjoy it. And I consider myself so extremely fortunate to be doing something I enjoy. Last night, after 3 days of sewing with only stops for making dinner and a bit of yardwork, I did feel sort of tired of sewing--but then, I have the luxury of stopping. Today, I am ready to get back to the sewing machine.


April in Carneros - Windy but Successful!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

So, I guess I can't even count to 3 or 4, because I've lost count of how many events I've done now. I think April in Carneros was my 3rd. Woo hoo! Can you imagine my excitement when I get to counting fingers on a second hand?! The weather was EXTREMELY cold and windy. It felt more like January than April. But I sold a lot of bags, met some wonderful fellow vendors, drank some absolutely delicious wine, and had fabulous helpers (my older daughter the first day, my younger daughter the second day).

The event was all day Saturday and all day Sunday. On Saturday, I sold a lot of purses, so I went home that evening and whipped out 4 more purses, so I'd have a good selection for the next day. I was extremely tired and bleary-eyed--being in the wind had chapped my skin and lips, and I felt like I had spent the entire day at the ocean or something. Of course, I wasn't at the ocean, but I was at the event for 7+ hours, setting up, selling, tearing down, driving back home...but when I got home, I pushed myself to make those bags. Of course, the next day, people only bought my accessories--wristlets, coin purses, etc., and I only sold 2 purses, neither of which were the ones I had forced myself to make the night before. Ain't that just the way??? Murphy--I kinda hate you.


New Home Page Photo

Saturday, April 12, 2008

"Loujy"--that's what my mother would call me when I was irresponsible as a kid. It was her pronunciation of "lousy". Well, I see that I am definitely a loujy blogger. I'm so inconsistent!

But I did manage to stop sewing long enough to take some photos of my new bags--the PoongSung Purse. I love these bags--the gathering gives them that slouchy, hip look, but they're also big enough to hold a lot of stuff. I have to handsew the handles, which makes the process a bit more cumbersome--but I love to handsew, and I think the result is definitely worth it.

This weekend, I'll be selling my bags at the Carneros in April event at Cline Cellars in Sonoma. I'll be there both Saturday and Sunday. I'm having each of my daughters help me one of the days. I'll pay them for their time, of course. And it will give me some company during the long days, as well as allow for bathroom breaks and the like.

I am also working on some large overnight and garment bags. I made one out of Amy Butler's pattern, but I wasn't so happy with the result. It LOOKS pretty, but the functionality and the stability of the lining are questionable. I'll be developing my own version soon.

I also bought some ADORABLE metal purse frames for small coin purses. Look for pics of those soon, too. I'm so excited about them. They are so cute!


Taking the Next Step

Saturday, February 16, 2008

I'm slowly making the transition from day job to Sheekoo. It has been a struggle to continue working at my day job, and still finding time to sew and work on Sheekoo. With the weather getting warmer and farmers' markets and fairs coming around the corner, I hoped to be able to get more time to sew and sell my bags. This past week, I asked my boss if I could go to 3 days a week, and he said yes. Woo hoo! I think the smaller paychecks will be a little daunting--but hopefully, it will push me to get my butt in gear on Sheekoo.

Some recent developments for me and Sheekoo: I have 3 local stores carrying my line, plus a store in Germany! I was asked to participate in another winery event in April. Only a few unique vendors are asked to participate, so I feel very honored. And now, with cutting back on my day job, I hope to take Sheekoo to the next level, whatever that may be.

In the meantime, here's a few new items I just listed on the site this morning.


Style Questionnaire

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Wow, I haven't blogged since November?!? You blink, and 2 months go by. Ever feel that way?

I came across these interview questions on, so I thought I'd answer them for myself. As sort of a snapshot of my thoughts right now. I didn't answer the first 3 questions because I couldn't come up with any answers. That's why the interview starts with letter D.

1 assembling electronic radio parts
2 selling men's shoes at Nordstrom
3 bookkeeper/office manger/production assistant
4 small business owner

1 Music & Lyrics (Hugh Grant and Drew Barrymore)
2 Sense & Sensibility
3 Lost (this isn't a movie, but I have the first 3 seasons on DVD)
4 Meet Me in St. Louis

1 Seoul, Korea
2 Washington, DC
3 Rockville, MD
4 Northern California

1 Lost
2 Survivor
3 American Idol
4 America's Next Top Model

1 Los Angeles, CA
2 Baxter, TN
3 Germantown, WI
4 New Orleans, LA

I) FOUR WEBSITES I VISIT DAILY (Or at least Weekly):

1 Thai summer rolls
2 be-beem bap (spicy Korean rice & vegetable dish)
3 lasagne
4 green beans

1 on the beach in Maui
2 shopping in Japan
3 exploring Australia
4 sewing in my garage


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