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February 2012

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Feb. 3rd, 2012

Hot, small and Sanford and Son

My bad for not posting any blog updates. I'll give you the long and short of it.

Just as I was making serious headway on the U.S. Map quilt summer hit. It became so hot that there was just no working on a giant quilt made of sweaters. Picture me at the sewing machine with who KNOWS how many pounds of wool sweaters in my lap with little-to-no AC. Yeah, not a pretty picture, is it?

So, that project was shelved until we could find a cooler, and because of BBD AND http://www.etsy.com/shop/DragonfishAntiquity, bigger location. 

So, here we are - the move just took place, we're still in boxes, but the space is larger, it's cooler and thanks to our lovely realtor, the view is a million times better. 

Previous view:


And current view:




So, be prepared - I have plans for a broader line of bedding along with a line of other home decor and holiday goodies. 

May. 22nd, 2011

U.S. Map quilt update

Some of the seams have been sewn since this photo, but this gives you a good idea of what it's looking like. Still have corners and some edging to complete to get it to its full size. Then the embroidery creativity comes into play. Still not sure what I'm going to do on it. First, it was JUST indicating the capitals of each state, but I'm now considering some additional work around the map to make it pop. Keep coming back for updates. (Running ideas for the next one in my head already!).

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"Like" my facebook page for more current updates. https://www.facebook.com/bunnybeardesigns

May. 1st, 2011

The map part is complete.

The scissors are to show scale.

Scissors to show scale.

Now, on to the border.

Apr. 27th, 2011

The west and part of the midwest is together

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Apr. 23rd, 2011

Updates on the U.S. Map felted sweater quilt project

The progress of this project, because its process will take several weeks and possibly months (depending on availability to work on it), will be updated in a number of entries.

The first step was to find a map that could be enlarged big enough to cover the diagonal points of the top of a queen-sized bed. I didn't want it to be just vertical or horizontal, I thought it would make it more interesting to go on a diagonal. I measured the top of our bed (since it is queen-sized) and dug around on the web (google large image search rocks!) and found one with the states marked, which I'm ultimately glad I did because when it got down to cutting the tiny ones I could google the particular state to double check the size and outlines. I took the map on a thumb drive to a local quick print to print it out in the size necessary.

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Since I've been collecting sweaters for the better part of 6 months now I have a pretty decent collection, my goal was to bring in color and a variety of patterns/designs to each state. This process has been a bit different from the first felted sweater quilt I've completed because this time, I'm using a pattern and cutting each piece based on my memory of what color and design is under each solid piece of paper next to it.

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I'm sure once I start sewing there may be a few color changes that will need to take place. The other things I knew for sure were first, I knew that the size I chose of the map wouldn't end being the completed size - with 1/4" sewing around each piece it would be substantially smaller, which I was prepared for when I measured out the map. I didn't want it to go OVER the edges of the bed, I wanted it to sit on top of the bed with a good amount of border around it before the border fell of the edges of the bed. Second, I knew I'd have to be forgiving with the edges of all the states more than the map provided. I.e., there is a part of Virginia, which is actually attached to the lowest point of Maryland that is far too small to incorporate into the finished map, or the inlet areas of the great lakes -- also too small to sew (in thick felt, anyway), and so on. And thirdly, while I did take great care to choose pieces with no seams across them, there is a chance once I get started on sewing these parts together that I may have to cut apart to follow a curve. This is something still yet to be seen.


So, now I've finished cutting and am about to start removing the patterns. More updates as they come.

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Later in the day:

Removed the patterns and am super happy with the way it turned out.

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Apr. 19th, 2011

Chenille sweater deconstruction

Not super happy with the photos, mainly because I was shooting at night. I prefer to shoot during the day using natural sunlight -- the last two photos of the balled up yarn were the only ones taken in this manner. The rest were shot with a flash.

This sweater was an extra large cowlneck sweater made with light worsted weight chenille. I did not measure the yarn however, there's enough here to make an extra large sweater, a number of scarves, a sofa throw or whatever you see fit. Chenille is super soft and is worthy of something someone will be touching a lot!

Selling this batch on etsy for $30.

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This is all that was left after all the yarn was collected.
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If you're interested, here's the link to the etsy post http://www.etsy.com/listing/72512691/upcycled-chenille-yarn-salvaged-from-an

The new project is underway

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Apr. 14th, 2011

We're having a sale over at BunnyBear Designs.

Use coupon code LJ10OFF for 10% off. "Like" our facebook page and learn about the newest items before everyone else and receive facebook only discounts.

Why take only 10% off? Go over to facebook now to learn about the big 25% off sale running now through Tuesday April 19, 2011.

Apr. 7th, 2011

First felted sweater quilt and shams are complete - now, on to the next!

~Whew~

After a long, arduous process, my first set of felted sweater bedding is complete. I'm thrilled with how it all turned out and am super excited with the idea I have for the next set.

As you all saw in previous posts, the process of washing each sweater several times in hot water (which you DIDN'T see, but I'm tellin' you now), the cutting to my pattern size and then the pinning and sewing took a LOT longer than I actually expected.

Of course, the longest time taken was the whip stitching of the back to create a reversible piece. This is definitely something I'm proud of and am looking forward to taking it to the next level.

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To purchase or to see more info on the queen-sized quilt: http://www.etsy.com/listing/71679855/felted-patchwork-sweater-quilt-queen

On the shams: http://www.etsy.com/listing/71681966/felted-patchwork-sweater-pillow-shams

Or the sweater pillow: http://www.etsy.com/listing/71684152/felted-aryan-sweater-pillow-oversized

Mar. 10th, 2011

Marketing yourself and your etsy teams

The key to marketing is not just to get that next sale, although that IS important, but to acquire fans. A fan is someone who spreads the word about your products by being happy to wear/use your items. They tell their friends about you and “vouch” for your products. A fan is someone who is loyal to your products – they’ll purchase from you before they purchase from someone else. A fan is by far your best marketing tool.

cheerleader

So how do you acquire fans?

People fail to remember that all points of contact are a potential customer. Let me say this again, ALL POINTS OF CONTACT are a potential customer….your ex employer, your aunt Bessie, your daughter’s Girl Scout leader…these are all people who could possibly buy from you or become a fan. It amazes me how many people I see, who communicate online, in person or by mail that don’t include their contact information. I.e. website, blog page, or an easy way for someone to see their work.

Here are a couple of examples: Treasuries – when one of my items gets included in a treasury, I not only respond by thanking that person, but I also mention another item that is similar (maybe another color or different size) and I ALWAYS let them know I’ve posted the treasury link on my facebook page and include my link http://www.facebook.com/bunnybeardesigns, both via private message (if I get one from the creator) and via thread post in the treasury. Seems like a little thing, but you’d be surprised how many people click on my fb page from a treasury.

Or how about this? Many etsy teams have partnering yahoo groups for streamlined communication – EVERY time I communicate on these groups, I include a link to my etsy page, a link to my facebook page and a link to my blog. Not everyone clicks on them, but I can tell you from experience that I DO click on them. In fact, I’m more apt to purchase from someone I’m communicating with outside of etsy or on etsy then someone I’m not. Give each person you touch (via email, chat, blog, etc.) the opportunity to see your work. You’re not only doing yourself the favor, but you could be creating the opportunity to acquire another fan. If you have a yahoo or outlook email – it’s easy to create a personalized signature which can include all your info (so you don’t have to type it each time). One more place to include your facebook link is in each of your item postings AND on your profile info. The key is to stay consistent and continue to put the same message out there over and over.

Another great way is by purchasing business cards. Many folks don’t think they’re worth the money, but believe me – for every 10 cards you pass out at least one person checks out your work. If you spend $30 bucks on 500 business cards that’s 50 times you’ve actually reached a potential customer. Which equates to about 6 cents per new potential customer….a pretty inexpensive form of marketing. Also, when shipping out a sold item, NEVER forget to include at least two business cards in the package.

This leads me to the design of a business card – cutesy is cute, but don’t forget to include the important stuff - etsy page, a link to your facebook page, your name and phone number and most importantly – photos of your work. If you’re at a craft fair and a visitor picks up your card along with 50 other vendors, how will they remember who you are? They won’t. Include a photo or multiple photos to help them.

Promoting your etsy team

Using facebook in tandem wit etsy team treasuries and blogs can get a lot of attention. First, try to create a treasury a week for each team. Seems like a lot, so don't try to be in too many teams at once. Choose your teams wisely and focus on the few each week. Once you create a treasury it's always courteous to send a message to each of your selected artists to let them know they've been chosen. Not everyone checks their activity threads consistently. In the message include the link to the treasury, a note about why you chose their item and also include a link back to your facebook page and your blog. Once you've done this, post the treasury on your facebook page and your blog and link back to all locations.

Another way is to search your team for artists you like and link to their facebook pages so you can see their latest works, what their up to and let them know YOU'RE one of their fans. If they like your work, they'll link back to you and you've created another connection. I've actually made some good online friends doing this.

If you keep emails of your previous sales, be sure to send them a link to your latest treasury and remind them they have a coupon code specifically for previous purchasers in your store.

So how do you MAKE a fan?

Well besides providing a quality product… There are several ways. Always package your item nicely. I use recycled packaging and I let my buyer know in advance that it’s important to me to recycle – so they expect it. I also line my box with colored tissue – an inexpensive way to give an old box new life. Wrap the item with a bow or something gifty. Maybe include a hang tag if it’s something that requires it, or if it’s jewelry create jewelry cards. But most of all include something extra. I always include a piece or two of candy for one or two items purchased. If the buyer purchases several items I include an extra item free of charge. And most of all include something to create a second purchase…i.e. a coupon code or discount just for them. You want them to come back so give them a reason. And don’t forget, on etsy, to give them positive feedback. When shipping, I ALWAYS get a tracking number from the USPS (or whichever shipping service you may use) and send I them a nice email letting them know their package has been sent, giving them their tracking number and encouraging them to “like” my facebook page for even deeper discounts and info on new products. A thank you card is always a nice touch too.

If you don’t have a facebook page for your products – get one! I’ve made several sales from this alone. Many have been custom projects not even registered as a sale on etsy.

I should probably mention twitter here, but honestly I’m much more of an organized person and twitter is just so random and fast that it’s hard for me to personally track anything there. Facebook is so much easier to track. However, I realized the importance of twitter for most so here’s what I have to say about this: Twitter if it’s important to you – it definitely won’t hurt.

Another thing that is a MUST….ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS provide great customer service. If someone isn’t happy with something, allow them to return it, send them something else or whatever needs to be done. An angry customer will spread information 5 times faster than a happy one. Which means you have to work 5 times as hard to make your customers happy AND keep your fans.

Other ways to market yourself and your teams

The more items you have in your etsy store, the more items people have to search for. And the more times peoples’ eyes will see your items. Upload a new item or renew an old item – this keeps your store fresh and your items at the front of the list of new posted items. Be sure to change the photo in a renewed item to give it a fresh look.

Be sure to use all 14 tags – be creative but make sure to associate the words specifically to your items.

Online networking is very important but, don’t let this overwhelm your valuable creative time because it easily can. Google crafting chat sites and promote yourself by chatting. Search facebook for keywords related to your products and your teams and post interesting items on those pages. Even purchasing a facebook ad is a super inexpensive way to acquire facebook likes (which will lead to sales) – it’s great because you just tell them how much money you want to spend and they put your ad in front of the specific groups of people who you choose to see it. If you don’t have a blog, create one and post on it at least weekly (I’ve been slacking at this lately). Be sure to post your etsy and facebook links on your blog. It’s important to keep connecting all forms of communication back to each other -- stay consistent and keep doing it. It will eventually come back to you in fans.

Craft fairs are also another way to not only sell your products but to get the word out about your products. Choose your fairs wisely however, I recently had a bad experience with one who seemed to be doing everything correctly only to find out they didn’t advertise to get the public there. I don’t read the newspaper or watch the news so I was unaware of the lack of advertising – learn from my mistake – ASK. Find out how they plan on marketing if it’s an unknown event. A great fair will not only get you sales but also get you in front of potential fans.

Consider doing other things from your blog, or your facebook page like contests or giveaways. Or even donate products or classes to good causes - they always promote the donating company or person and you’ll be doing something good to help at the same time.

Just remember – the keys to marketing yourself and your teams are to stay consistent, never miss an opportunity to promote yourself, create great product and always give great customer service.


Good luck and happy marketing!
http://www.facebook.com/bunnybeardesigns

Feb. 23rd, 2011

Moving along

Update on the sweater quilt project.

Here's the layout, which got moved around and around for the better part of an afternoon.

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And here's the sewed together piece (taken with my phone, so not a great image, but you get the idea). Not complete, however. The seams on the backside will be getting a yarn embroidery treatment to allow the quilt to be double sided.

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That's it for now!

Feb. 9th, 2011

New projects

I've started a couple of new projects.

In fact, the materials I'm using are exciting me so much that I see a new line of products on the horizon. I'm working with pre-made sweaters purchased from thrift stores.

Here's the first project:

This is the "before".
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I washed them all in super hot water a few times to felt then started the arduous process of deconstruction.

This is the first step of break down.
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And here is the second step.
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This second step is still in process - so when I get started on the third and fourth step I'll post updated photos.

And here's the second project. In my search for 100% wool sweaters I, on occasion, come across a beautiful yarn (most likely NOT wool) - a sweater that can be completely torn down, in order to recycle the yarn into something else.

Here's what I found recently.

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And the end product of the breakdown.


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The newly knitted project will be posted in the near future.

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