Monday, December 5, 2011

Who wants love?

My newest mobile, Showered with Love, is in the shop today and I couldn't be more excited about it.  I have had the idea of making a mobile to shower my little ones with love for a long time now and to see it finally take shape is so rewarding.  We had a lot of fun this weekend doing a photo shoot for the new mobile and I wanted to share a few of the pictures that didn't make it into the listing with you...

I hope he will look this excited once Baby Jives #2 is actually there.
Munching on cranberries and contemplating love.
Here is my quality control expert in action.  It passed inspection.

He did feel very loved there under his special cloud.
 Well that is my behind the scenes peek at the photo shoot for the newest mobile.  It's in my shop now so you can get one for your sweetheart and shower them with love every day. 


Saturday, December 3, 2011

Inspired by Love

The laughter of a child is something that can fill a heart to the brim with love.  Joy bubbles up and escapes from a wonderful little being.  In our daily life there are so many moments where we are showered with love.  With all this in mind, I have been working on a new mobile design and it is finally ready for the shop. 

Here are a few glimpses from my studio of things taking shape.  Collecting jars of love, which can sometimes be a little rough around the edges.    Then finally assembling them into a mobile that can rain down love everyday.

Now the newest mobile is almost ready for your life.  A way to celebrate love in your home.  It's getting ready for the big reveal...

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

How to make a $7 baby cardigan into a lasting heirloom

Things have been so busy with Baby Jives Co that I have barely had time to consider getting ready for this little one dancing in my belly.  But this weekend I think the nesting bug finally hit me because I just kept having visions of a sweet little cardigan embellished with wool felt flowers and bits of crochet lace.  So I knew I needed to set aside a little time for a fun project.  Oh yeah, did I mention that I also found out that I am having a girl?  Finally I get to think about flowers and embroidery and lace!

So I set out this morning in search of  a plain cardigan to embellish and found a sweet little turquoise one which was just begging to be transformed.  After an hour of work here is what I ended up with:

I loved the results so much that I knew I just had to type up a tutorial for all those semi-crafty ladies out there.  So what follows is a pretty easy project on how to make a $7 cardigan into a $70 heirloom (which is what I am sure you would end up paying at a fancy baby boutique for something similar made by anonymous hands elsewhere in the world).  So what are you waiting for, let's do this!

What you'll need:
plain color baby cardigan (I found a great one at H&M)
2 colors or more of merino wool felt (I prefer this for a durable and washable material)
cotton or silk embroidery thread
crocheted doily which can be cut up (aka won't unravel)
embroidery needle
sewing scissors
disappearing ink pen

Now you are ready to roll...First sketch flowers with five rounded petals onto wool felt with disappearing ink.  I made mine about the size of a nickel for the flower center and a quarter for the back flower piece.  You will want to make about 7-8 flower pairs depending on the size of your cardigan.  I used 2 different colors of merino wool felt but you can choose as many colors as you want.  Once you have sketched your flowers cut them out with sewing scissors; you can also cut a few leaf shapes too. 

I also chose to incorporate some crocheted lace that I had from a doily.  I cut 2 pieces off and then positioned them on the cardigan with the other felt pieces in a rough arrangement of how I wanted to sew them.  I then took a picture of the arrangement so I could move the pieces to the side but refer to the picture in case things got mixed up (which they did).

Now we are ready to sew.  Thread an embroidery needle, knot the end, and then start with the top flower by the collar.  Stack the 2 felt pieces and then stitch through them with three stitches to make a star shape in the center.  Then using a stem stitch  make your way to the spot for the next flower. 

The next piece to secure was the crocheted medallion.  To secure the crochet stitch around the edge and then place the felt piece in the center and secure it with another star shaped stitch.

Continue along the neck of the cardigan using a stem stitch between flowers to create a loose vine pattern and securing the flowers with a star shaped stitch.  For the few leaves that I included I used a split stitch.  Then when you reach the bottom side of the cardigan secure the thread with a french knot on the inside of the sweater.  Now repeat the process from the top on the other side of the cardigan.

Once finished you will have created an heirloom cardigan which would have cost a heck of a lot more than $7 in a boutique.  So now you can spend that money on some decor for the nursery instead, since that won't be outgrown in 3 months. 

A final note on care, I plan on washing this by hand in cold water and laying it flat to dry.  This will extend the life of the cardigan so I can pack it away once the little lady outgrows it to save it for future generations, mine or hers.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Bunting Gift Tags

I hate to throw away any of my beautiful fabrics.  Many of my details in my mobiles are from fabric offcuts that occur while cutting out the main pattern, but even employing that I still have scraps that are too small to reuse but too pretty to throw out.  Seriously I save the tiniest scraps, I have drawers full of fabric.

So in order to save myself from a mountain of towering scraps which engulf me one day I decided I needed to do something with all these bits.  So I came up with these easy to make bunting gifts tags which I now use as a quick way to dress up my gifts.

Now here's how you can make use of your tiny scraps too...

First cut your scraps into the shape of little bunting flags - about 1/2 inch high.  Then cut a piece of 4 x 6 inch colored card stock in half to make 2 3x4 inch cards.   Take a few of your flag pieces and arrange them across the top of the card. 

Now you are ready to sew them in place. I used a contrasting thread dark enough to show up on the card stock and a #2 stitch on my machine to sew the bunting flags in place (your machine may be slightly different, you want to use a stitch with a little bit of space otherwise the card may tear).

Then trim the extra thread off the edges and use a micro or regular hole punch to create a hole for the ribbon to go through.  Now you are ready to wrap up your gifts with your pretty new cards.  How easy was that!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Working on something new...Baby Jives #2!

I have been working on something brand new and now I can finally share it with you - I'm pregnant with Baby Jives #2 due in the beginning of March 2012!

Owl Hats by Sweet Love Creates, $34 found via 20BestTwenty
It's been a fun summer filled with vacations, exhaustion, and  morning sickness ... well actually mine was more like anytime but morning sickness as I usually woke up feeling fine.  But now my energy is back and the creativity is flowing so I am looking forward to an intense burst of production leading up to this birth.  My last pregnancy with my son was when I got the idea for starting Baby Jives Co. and now with this one I'm already bursting at the seams with new ideas for Baby Jives Co.  So I am running up to my studio to get sewing...right after I eat this entire box of muffins.  I can't help it, the baby makes me do it!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Come Sail Away!

Last time I gave a little sneak peek of my newest mobile design which was getting ready to launch.  Now I am happy to announce after a week of intense studio time I have created a new fleet to release this week!  Presenting the newest mobile in the baby Jives line....let's sail away!

This mobile was inspired by my son and his obsession for the past year with boats.  One way I love to spend time with my son is to settle in and read a good book with him, we have lots of them laying around the house (sometimes piled under his cars and trucks).  This particular mobile was actually inspired by one of his favorite books called simply Toy Boat by Randall de Séve and Loren Long.  It is the whimsical tale of a boy and his boat who are inseparable until one day when the boat blows off to have his own adventure.  This book is gorgeously illustrated and while reading it I have started to imagine creating my own fleet of boats for my little boy to have his own adventures with.  So a few months ago I jotted down this sketch...

And then this past month I finally got to have an uninterrupted day in the studio to make my dreams come into reality.  Here are a few photographs of the voyage so you can see how my little boat came into being...

The finished boat is one that drums up memories of childhood and the simple act of making something magical out of a few bits of cloth and sticks.  I wanted to create a toy boat for my little boy that could be something he could take adventures in - sailing away to new lands under the moon and stars like so many of my favorite children's books.   Now my little adventurer finally has his toy boat, well actually he has a fleet of small toy boats which will be hanging in his new big boy room.  Together I know they will create many wonderful stories and adventures as they sail off into his imagination.

Do you think your little dreamer would like to sail off on a new adventure?  Then visit my shop at Baby Jives and you can get them their very own boat to voyage with and then...

Come with me
And you'll be
In a world of
Pure imagination
Take a look
And you'll see
Into your imagination

We'll begin
With a spin
Traveling in
The world of my creation
What we'll see
Will defy

- Willy Wonka

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Something New is Going to Launch

 Did you know that Baby Jives is turning 1 at the end of this month?  How time flies, I feel like it was just yesterday that I was stitching up my first mobiles and taking my first awfully lit photographs (seriously they were pretty terrible, please don't look at them).  Now it's a year later and to celebrate I have some surprises to announce, starting with the launch of a new mobile in the shop.  Here is a little sneak peek to tide you over until next week when the new mobile sails in.  Ok somebody stop my puns, I am turning into my father-in-law....

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

It's Raining Babies, or what to give for a shower

I have been attending an unusually high amount of baby showers these past few months.  It seems like all of my friends are having kids again - or for the first time.  So I thought it might be fun to share a few of my favorite baby shower gifts and tips with you today.

I know when I had my little guy a few years ago that I registered for all sorts of things that after he was born ended up gathering dust like the diaper wipe warmer, really?  My tip is for baby gear get the essentials - bottles as always needed, bibs are great, diaper pad covers will be used in abundance! You can also throw in a little something extra to make your gift of bottles a little more special, like Le Bibble which helps clean up the milk that doesn't quite hit it's target.

Le Bibble in Le Lime $12 found via 20BestTwenty

I also received a slew of baby clothes that were sized 0-3 and 3-6 months which meant my 8lb 6oz and 21 1/2 inch boy wore them exactely once before growing into size 6-9 month clothes by the end of his first month.  So now if I buy clothing for my friends I buy 6-9 month or up to make sure their little one will actually get the chance to wear it.  I absolutely adore this handmade romper by the Measure,  I mean is there anything cuter than a ruffled bottom?

Chevron Stripe Romper by The Measure $49 found via 20bestTwenty

When I show up at a shower I know the best way to get some oohs and ahhs is to buy a handmade gift for my friends.  Something that you cannot find at Babies R Us which will become an heirloom item that the family holds on to for the next child - or even passes along through the family.  Of course since I make mobiles most of my friends want a little mobile so they usually get something like my 2 lovebirds mobile or little raincloud, both of which are perfect for over the changing table or placed in a corner of the room by a rocker where you will spend lots of time!  If I don't know the sex of the baby I will usually give this, since everyone needs a little rainbow in their life:

Dreamy Rainbow Mobile by baby Jives $49 

Some other items which I love are the handmade wooden teethers rattles like this one by Smiling Tree Toys, handmade by parents using organic wood so your baby is set to rock, rattle and chew to their hearts content.

Organic Guitar Rattle by Smiling Tree Toys $26 via 20BestTwenty

Another great idea is a handmade growth chart to measure how quickly that little person will grow. I love this one by Love From Nora featuring Vintage VW buses handmade from felt and personalized with your little ones' name (if you know it).

VW Bus Growth Chart by LovefromNora $52 via Etsy

Years later we still use some of our favorite handmade items on a daily basis, like the knit blanket my friend made for my son and the wooden chair that my dad made for me is now my son's favorite place to sit and of course my son says good morning to his bird mobile every day. So what about you - what is your favorite baby shower gift to give?

Friday, June 17, 2011

A year in review or how I got to be one year older

Today is my birthday.  I am not going to tell you how old I am but let's just say I am easing into my mid-thirties. I have to admit that for some reason the thought of my birthday kind of depressed me this year.  I don't know exactly why - maybe it's the fact that I have been struggling with a bunch of teeth issues which makes me feel like, "Gawd my body is not what it used to be" or maybe it's the fact that at my age my mother had 3 kids - one of whom was almost 10 (that's me).  Whatever it was I thought that I would take this day to look back a little on the past year and see how much I have accomplished to get rid of a little bit of that "Whoa is me - I am old" feeling and replace it with some "Wow is me - I am figuring out life". 

Luckily Percy Managed... by Cupcakes and Antlers $5

So I sat down and realized that one of the most amazing things I have done in this past year is to start my own successful home based business.  Never did I think last year when I sat down around this same time to start dreaming up my business that I would have been crossing the threshold of almost 200 sales less than a year later!  When I think of how successful my little dream of making mobiles as artworks has been I am humbled.  I am so thankful to be creating a product I am inspired to make and sending it out into the world with love so that it can be enjoyed by some many other people all around the world.  I feel blessed to be able to stay home with my son and run my business from the playground and during nap times (although I am getting to the point where he is going to have to start sleeping more or I am going to need to stop sleeping at all).  I love being part of a lively community of independent makers and dreamers who inspire me constantly with their commitment to filling the world with handmade goodness, not mass produced nonsense. 

Breath & Smile by the Wheatfield $15

When I realized how lucky I am to be making a living doing what I love and raising both my family and continuing my creative endeavors, that depression started to slip away.  I also got a book about holistically transforming your teeth to start giving my body the same attention that my dreams have gotten this year.  So I look forward to seeing what other amazing things this year will bring and move into my mid-thirties with a hopeful outlook again. 

And to celebrate I am offering free shipping on all purchases at Baby Jives in the US until 6/22- just enter the coupon code "LetEmEatCake" at the checkout and celebrate with me!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Love is in the air

This summer it seems like we are planning most of our vacations around weddings.  It's the season for the roses to bloom and love to be declared among the birds and the bees.  So as we are planning out our travel I am also planning out my shopping list of some wonderful gifts I could get these lucky couples.  My husband and I were married pretty young so our wedding registry was somewhat standard, we went to Crate and Barrel and Macys and registered for way too many kitchen implements.  I mean when was the last time I actually used my mini cupcake pans and domed cake server.  Umm, never! 

The gifts that I ended up loving the most from our wedding were the handmade items that people selected for us from artists they knew of.  We have a handmade cutting board that I use almost every day with delight, a set of thrown ceramic nesting bowls that I use for serving up some beautiful meals, and a hand bound leather album that I have our wedding photographs in.  These are the things that years later I truly treasure.  So now whenever I get invited to a wedding I take a look at the registry to get an idea of the couples taste and color sense and then I go and get them a wonderful handmade gift instead.  I've never had any complaints and many folks tell me years after their wedding that our gift was one of their faves.  So here are a few ideas that I have for my friends getting married this summer...

AHeirloom's Vermont Plyboo Cutting Board, $40 found via 20best20
Two of my friends are getting married in Vermont this summer so I thought this would be a perfect gift to celebrate their union there.  A Heirloom also makes boards for all 50 states so they have you covered for a celebration anywhere.

Brookish's LOVE dishtowel, $11 found via 20best20

And this dishtowel could even make doing your dirty work an act of love - or at least remind you that you LOVE is always there to help you out!

Steel Ribbon's Metal Handbag Magazine Rack, $45 found via 20best20
Another couple is a fan of modern design and reads far too many magazines so I think a perfect gift for them might be this playfully elegant magazine rack by Steel Ribbon.

baby Jives' Lovebirds Mobile, $70
And last but not least one of my friends is getting a pair of kissing lovebirds from me to hang in their home.  They were actually the couple who were partly responsible for inspiring this design after a visit with them when they just couldn't stop cuddling and I jokingly called them smitten lovebirds.  So they are getting a little sculpture to hang in their home to celebrate their love.

There are lots more fabulous handmade gift ideas out there to discover at places like Etsy and 20best20 or your local crafty gallery. So don't just buy some bowls from a big box store for your friends, buy them handmade one of a kind bowls made by an independent artisan that they will treasure for years to come.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Dad deserves the best

Father's Day is fast approaching and in order to not get stuck holding out a bag of coffee bought around the corner (which is what I did last year, bad Mommy!) I am starting my shopping now.  As a maker of handmade objects I appreciate how much cooler the gift that doesn't exist in mass quantities on the shelf of your local superstore can be.  I always try to give a gift that is made by a small business when I can; I just have to plan for shipping time - although sites like Etsy do have the shop local search function which means I can search people near me and get things faster while also supporting my immediate local community.

I don't know about you but shopping for my guy can be hard.  He is not corporate so a tie doesn't appeal to him, he actually wears a t-shirt to work most days so a "dressy" t is one of my top options.   

DNA Tshirt by NonFiction Tees $18. via 20 Best Twenty

He does love his coffee too, so maybe instead of just a bag of beans from our local roaster, I will try this year to get him an awesome handmade mug this year as well. I love this little owl cup from Mie Kongo, it's like a little sculpture you get to drink out of.

Owl Cup by Mie Kongo $23.

Like many guys out there, he also likes his technology and we just got a brand new 13" MacBook so a handmade but manly sleeve might help protect it when it gets tossed into his messenger bag.  This option by Fern Fiddlehead has an understated elegance that I know would appeal to him.

13" Laptop Case by Fern Fiddlehead $24. via 20 Best Twenty
Anyway you cut it I know that this list of goods made by individual makers will have a much larger impact than anything I could order off of Amazon.   So I am making a choice and ordering soon to make sure that this year in addition to his handmade card he get a little something especially for him because Dad does work hard.  So what are you going to get your man this year?

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Art Star Craft Bazaar

So I am up early and we are packing up the car to head down to Penn's Landing Great Plaza for Art Star Craft Bazaar.  I will be pedaling my magical mobiles and a few new items like my necklaces under tent #41 for Baby Jives.  If you are in the area come by and see me - here's the info for the event.  Now off to fill this tent with magical mobiles!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Shared Studio

Like many Etsy sellers I started my business so I could work from home while raising my son.  That means many days my work time is limited to naptime and after bedtime but as my business gets busier I am finding I need to squeeze studio time and little man time into the same space.  Literally, my studio is becoming his play area and it's actually pretty fun to have Gavril in there with me.  So I thought it I would show you around the scenes in my studio and give you an inside glimpse to my business.

Where the magic happens - my Bernina Record
Gavril's driveway / my fabric shelves
piles of dragonflies and butterflies

 Ok, I guess these are more of studio vignettes because if I showed you what my real studio looked like your jaw would drop in horror - it's a mess!  Sharing a space with all my fabrics and my son is not ideal.  He really needs to get a little bit of his own space in there so I have been daydreaming about the perfect studio for both of us.  For him it would include this:

The deskhouse by Nine to Nine, found via TwentyBest20
and for me it would include this:

Alphabet Drawers by Kent and London found via TwentyBest20