A Few Words on Handmade and Pricing

January 19, 2020 10:16 by ehouston

One of the biggest issues facing Makers out there is how to price your items.  I am constantly tweaking my formulas and trying to rework the numbers to get to a price I think a buyer will consider and never seems to matter.  I have sold the same type of items for $30.00 and $130.00.  It all seems to depend on the place I am selling and the type of customer that is looking through my stuff.  In the past I have been that person that walks through the craft fair thinking to myself, "I can make that" and thinking I can do so for so much less.  If there is one bit of knowledge that I can pass along to those that frequent handmade fairs and boutiques it's that YOU CAN'T!  In most instances the Maker is selling their wares for pennies and only keep going because they have a love of, and internal need to keep creating.  For some of us it's the only way to stay sane and unfortunately even if we spend hours perfecting our passion and creating a piece of art or useful item to sell we will never see it go for a price that comes any where near covering the cost of time and energy (and materials!) that go in to it.

  Vintage Upholstery Embroidered Bird Adjustable Crossbody Bag image 1

I am putting this out there because I wish I could find that magical place to put my items up for sale that is frequented by people who understand what it takes to create.  I wish I knew where all those lovely souls go to shop and understand that, "I could make that for myself, but why invest in all the materials, labor and trial and error it takes to get it right when a perfectly created piece is right here for the buying?  And, I will pay that higher price because the Maker has invested so much time and energy and love into this one item.  AND, I GET TO HAVE IT/USE IT/WEAR IT right away!".  I'm looking for those people and no matter how many articles I read about how to price my wares that question is never answered.  


In fact, I find myself hearing over and over again about how easy that is to make and how the store owner is trying to rob people blind.  I saw that sentiment in a comment on a post by a local store recently.  The person making the comment was so insensitive to make the remark in the first place, but to not even know what the item was made from and then take the time to say something negative and demeaning about something that took time to curate and then create.  The shop owner was very gracious to explain the materials and pricing, but I still left that post with a sick feeling of "this is how so many people feel and they have the loudest voice in this industry".  


My hope is that people continue to consider shopping local rather than Big Box and really think about where things come from.  I wish people would take some time and really think through how the world is effected by their purchases and how they can change a mindset about what it costs to keep stuff out of the landfill and in circulation.  Buy handmade, upcycled, recycled and made from scratch items from materials that already exist.  Back off the thinking that says all my furniture needs to be new and from Ikea, Target, Haverty's, Greenfront, (insert chain store here).  Remember our mindset of only wanting cheaper and cheaper prices sent manufacturers out of this country.  Cheaper means lost jobs, and more than anything crummy craftsmanship.  It means items that don't stand the test of time and don't make it as hand-me-downs or the family heirloom.


If we could all just change our mindset about how we buy and remember what it takes to actually come up with a product or idea, pull together materials, create a pattern through trial and error and then make that item, then things could really take a turn for the better.  Craftspeople and Makers could stop pulling down their prices in hopes of a sale.  We could stop losing money just so we don't die in an avalanche of our unsold items.  Makers, how many times have you off-loaded things for nearly nothing just because you had to get them out of your space?  We have all been there and the sad thing is, that in doing so, we just hurt our own cause.  If we could all come together and price our creations right, we could all find ourselves "quitting our day job" and really making a living from what we love to do.

And, frankly, I think the world would be a better place for it.



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Making and Crafts : Monogram Door Decor and Greeting

March 14, 2013 08:53 by ehouston

Spring seems to have finally arrived here in Richmond, VA and it was time to move on from our Valentine’s Day Heart wreath to something a little less holiday inspired.  Since Easter moves between the months of March and April I thought it would be nice to have something generic to welcome the season. 

With the popularity of monograms, I have noticed a lot of photos out there of large letters being used in various decorations throughout the home and I had been toying with the idea of adding a large “H” some where in our home.  Then I ran across the Jo-ann’s Fabric and Crafts Create With 8 contest and decided the time had come.

The contest requires you to choose 8 items from a list of 20 to create some kind of craft.  I thought what a fun little challenge and way to come up with something new for our front door.  I used the following items from the list:


1. Styrofoam

2. Acrylic Paint

3. Yarn

4. Scrapbook Embellishments/Stickers

5. Wooden Shape Cut-outs

6. Floral Stems

7. Wooden Beads

8. Ribbon

I cut the Styrofoam block into the shape of an “H”, being sure to cut it a little smaller so that the bulk of the wrapped yarn would not make it look clunky.  Note: do this outside.  It’s a mess that keeps on giving if you know what I mean.

Then I began the process of wrapping the “H” form with the yarn.  I got lucky with this part of the process.  First, the yarn was on sale- score!  It also had a base of green with light to dark purple running through it, along with a bluish gray in an ombre effect.  The green is nearly identical to the green of the foam, so I did not have to paint the base or double up on the yarn wrapping to get good coverage. 

If interested in how I wrapped the letter read on, otherwise skip on down.  Starting with the left long side I went from top to bottom the long way.  Then went back and ran the yarn sideways from top to bottom, going all the way across to the other long side when I got to the middle section.  After completing the left long side I wrapped the right long side from top to bottom the long way. The middle section was next and I wrapped top to bottom and left to right.  Last, I wrapped the right long section, going side to side and from top to bottom, skipping the area that connected to the middle section.  That meant I was left with a weird area that did not match up to the rest of the yarn pattern, but it was in the area that would be covered with the flower arrangement.  I secured the corners at the back with pins and then used Aleene’s Tacky Craft glue to permanently hold the yarn ends and any other areas that were trying to come undone.  I also ran a thick line of craft glue all the way down and along each section on the back side to prevent the yarn from coming apart.

After painting the wooden beads pale blue and white I used hot glue to add them around the back border of the “H” form.  Once the glue was dry I went back and blobbed paint into and over any open bead holes to give them a more solid sphere look.

Then I just arranged the floral stems, a purple thistle type flower and a willow branch, and secured them with a huge glob of hot glue.  To make it look like the flowers are attached with the blue burlap ribbon I cut a section and crisscrossed it over the area where I blobbed the glue.  It helped to cover up the mess.  Then I cut another section to create a tied bow and glued that in place. 


For the “ello” part of the “Hello” greeting I painted a flower wood shape pale blue and a large circle wood shape white, gluing the circle on top of the flower when the paint was dry.  Then I hand painted the “ello” message.  Once it was all dry I used hot glue to fasten the whole thing to the ribbon. For a little more springtime inspiration I added some embossed metal butterfly scrapbook stickers that I touched up with some white paint.  The paint was just to give them more dimension from farther away.  The last thing was to add the bit of leftover burlap ribbon for a hanger and I cinched some pale brown satin ribbon into a bow with streamers at the hanging point to add a little more color.


IMG_4459If you feel so inclined, I would love to get your vote over at the contest site.  Just click on the link below to go to my entry.  You can vote every day until the end of the month.

Thanks in advance if you have a chance to help me out!

So, have you all created any fun spring time decorations?  Do you go all out for Easter every year, or do you keep a more general theme?

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Making And Crafts–Alphabet Artwork

October 4, 2012 22:38 by ehouston

For a long time now I have admired those alphabet prints that are EVERYWHERE.  You know the ones with the “I”, “O” and “U” in a different color, and the “O” replaced with a heart to reveal a not so hidden message.  As the decorating progressed in my son’s new room and the nursery I decided I wanted one for each space.  This was one of those projects I knew I could handle on my own and that a cheap Target frame with a matt would turn into a pricey looking piece of artwork. 

So, I started with a basic design:


This was originally intended for my son’s room, so I used a dark gray for the letters and a simple deep red for the personal message.  Later I realized that I should have used his favorite color, Orange, instead.  Later STILL I realized I wanted to use this one in the nursery.  However, once I got further along with the nursery decorating I thought it might be neat to use a font with a floral or garden theme to tie in with all the floral prints in our little girl’s room.  Plus, I wanted to try switching the main alphabet color to that of the rainbow, while using black for the hidden “I Heart U” message.  And, then I found this font…


It’s called 101 In My Yard and I LOVE it!!!  I think this piece turned out really cute and will definitely grow with our sweet little girl.

After finding such a whimsical font for the nursery art it seemed fitting to do something equally fun for my son’s room.  That is when I switched up the original artwork to what you see below.ABC-OrangeAndGray

I just used Word and the Sybil Green font, replacing the “O” by Inserting a Heart Shape and coloring all of it to match his new space.  At first I was concerned about messing up his ability to learn his ABC’s by using this crazy font, but later I realized he knows his alphabet pretty well already and should be just fine. 

When he is in therapy later we can talk about this in more depth, I guess.

The frames are both from Target and included white matts cut to an 8” X 10” sized opening, so just remember to adjust your margins if you decide to make one.  Two pieces of custom artwork for the price of a little time, two pieces of cardstock and a bit of printer ink, and $33.98 in frames ($16.99/each).  Not bad, I would say!

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Making And Crafts : Valentine’s Day Card 2012

February 8, 2012 08:23 by ehouston

This year, as in years past, we decided to make our own Valentine’s Day cards.  The difference this time around is that we are giving them to classmates rather than family.  An exciting step for one Little Dictator!  I strongly considered the cute character versions that you can pick up at the grocery store and even spied some with fun tattoos.  I did make the conscious decision to avoid candy as a card favor since I knew the kids would be sugar logged after their preschool V-day party.  I’m also the mom in charge of bringing the drinks and opted to present both milk and juice for the kiddos.  My two and a half year old has already informed me he will be choosing juice.  I guess I cannot expect any less when I don’t offer up the sugary treat on a more regular basis.  Don’t get me wrong, we do drink juice in this house, but his gets watered down quite a bit.  So, like most kids, whenever given the option he makes the less desirable choice (at least in mom’s eyes).  I am figuring that most, if not all, of the milk will come back my way…but, hey, at least I’m giving the choice! (Yep, I’m that mom!)

Okay, back to the subject at hand.  I wanted to share what our card plans are and a couple of downloadable cutie, patootie, versions I came across online.  First up, wild animal cards!

I suddenly received a Disney’s Family Fun magazine in the mail a couple of weeks ago and this was one of the featured Valentine’s Day card ideas.  It was too cool not to attempt, so we are going for it.  To get the full instructions pick up the magazine, which has a ton of other great ideas, or go to:

I love the idea that the kids get a little something and it’s not going straight to their thighs rot their teeth.  ;o)  Next up, in the same type of idea category is from Simply Modern Mom.  I LOVE this one! 

So, sweet and simple, of course!  Go to her blog for a free printable too.

Over at Our Humble A{bowe}d, Amanda has created some neat printables and ideas for giving both sweets and non-sweet treats.

With the Little Guy’s love of robots and stickers, I would have definitely jumped on this idea had I come across it first.  But….maybe next year!?!

Hope you all are having a good time decorating and thinking up fun things to do for your loved ones this month!

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Making and Crafts : Valentine Heart Wreath Revamp

February 1, 2012 07:45 by ehouston

Last year I wrote about adding a little holiday décor to our front door in the form of a heart shaped, yarn wrapped wreath


And, although I liked how it turned out I was disappointed at how much it faded into the dark color of our front door.  While our house does sit back from the road, with trees across the front, I did hope to be able to glimpse the wreath on the door when pulling in or even driving by.  Unfortunately, it was very difficult to see until you got right up to the front porch.  Dark red on dark black door = disappearing décor.


So, I got the idea to add a sort of lace doily effect to the back of the wreath giving it a white outline.  The hope was to make it pop against the dark door.  After considering many options (foam core board, stiffened fabric, actual paper doilies, etc.) I discovered stiffened felt at Joann’s craft store last week.  I had completely forgotten about this stuff and was super excited to see that I might have an easy option to work with for my idea. 


The only downside was that the largest piece I saw was only 12” X 18” , which meant I would need to put two pieces together in order to cover the back of the wreath with overhang.  At that point I was not really sure this was going to come together the way I envisioned, but the low cost and ready-to-go materials made for a project just my speed these days. 

Easy, I’m all about it. 

Oh, that might not have come across the way it was meant….but trust me, this prude meant it in the lazy way!

The next step was to tape the stiffened felt together using clear packing tape so it would not show through to the front.


I knew this was not going to be a permanent solution to keeping the pieces together, but it did work to hold them in place while making the design and attaching it to the wreath.



My first attempt to freehand the scallop around the heart wreath was with a disappearing fabric marker (greatest invention around!), but the bumpy nature of the felt and the felt tip of the marker were not a match.  So, I resorted to using blue tailor’s chalk instead.  Because I did all of this freehand, things were not perfect and I made most of my cuts inside the lines to eliminated some wonkiness and the blue chalk.  After cutting out the basic heart shape with the scalloped edge I used an oval hole punch to add the cut-outs within each bump of the scallop.  Using fabric fusion, I glued the heart wreath directly to the white felt backing.  Since the wreath is a little uneven due to the wrapped yarn, I also used some fabric piles to help weigh it down a little for a better hold.  After a night of drying I used a couple of T-pins shoved through the felt and into the back of the heart for an added safety measure in keeping the felt “doily” in place.

Wholla!  Revamped Valentine’s Day wreath that can be seen from farther away than the bottom step!


Kitschy, but fun for another year.  What type of holiday décor are you guys using to spruce your pads this year?

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Making And Crafts : Covered Button Jewelry

January 26, 2012 09:33 by ehouston

This isn’t anything new.  In fact, there are tutorials plastered all over the internet and lots of people selling covered button jewelry on Etsy.  But, this is what I have been playing around with lately and I wanted to share.  Not only have I made some fun stuff for myself, but I think I may join the legions and post some pieces for sale in my handmade Etsy shop, Kitsch Designs.  I know, I know, boring….well, I have my reasons.  For a long time now I have been trying to figure out the best way to use up all those itty-bitty little scraps of vintage fabric that just seem to precious to throw away.  So far they have just been collecting dust in a box.  I figure with barkcloth being so scarce any more I can’t get rid of even the smallest piece, right? 




(This last one is an old quilter’s fabric with a printed log cabin design.)

Plus, there have to be others out there that love the idea of textile jewelry, but don’t see patterns that speak to them.  I’m hoping some more Mid-Century Modern lovers will be happy to see these simple jewelry pieces in fabrics that work right into their retro way of life!

Happy Shopping folks!

Kitsch Krafts

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Oh Choo Choo Tree, Oh Choo Choo Tree….

December 5, 2011 06:58 by ehouston

It was decided pretty early on that the Little Guy’s Christmas tree would have a train theme.  There is not a day that goes by that when asked what he did all day, he does not answer, “played trains!”  I was sure we would find some kind of cute garland with trains to wrap around a tabletop tree, place it in his room and call it a day.  I love decorating for the holidays, but when it gets even just a little too involved I am “over it” pretty quickly.  But after searching through several local craft and home dec shops we were surprised to come up empty-handed. 

Then one fateful afternoon we found these at Hobby Lobby:


8 piece bags of little wooden train silhouette cut-outs for about $2.00 each.  Each bag contained two sets of an engine, passenger car, tanker car and caboose.  Coupled with two different sizes of wooden beads I figured we were in the garland business.


The process to a kiddie style winter wonderland started with drilling tiny holes in the ends of each train and adding two coats of primer.  Next, I let the Little Guy have at it with the acrylic paints.  He picked the colors, started the job and then I finished them up to make them even.  I also spray painted the small wooden beads white and the larger beads deep red.  BTW- That’s right, he does have green paint smeared across his face and into his nearly white hair.  It took two days of washing and combing before he no longer looked like a little punk rocker.


After several base coats and some details added with a black paint pen we started the layout for stringing our garland.  Again, the little engineer picked which colors went on each train and then we divided the small and large beads between each line of trains.  Then using skinny creamy white ribbon we started stringing the lines together beginning with the train sections.


I did have to go back and recut the holes I had drilled using a small hole punch because the paint had closed them up.  Then I simply tied knots in the end of the ribbons until they were too large to pass through the holes and I strung the trains car to car with a few beads in between.  My son loved adding the beads with a little help from mom. 


Total concentration.  Tongue pushed into bottom lip, drool about to form.  Nothing could stop his nimble fingers from pressing those beads into place, nothing…well maybe playing with some toy trains…but!  that was the only thing!

After linking up the trains we hooked them to each other in one long garland with the rest of the beads strung in between.


I thought they looped around his tiny tree pretty well.


He loves pointing out the one odd ball engine, which he insisted we paint dark purple.


And, of course the number 1 engine, “Thomas”, has a special spot at the top.

Have you guys put together any special trees for your little ones?  Do you put up any other decorations with your kids or with your kids in mind?

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