New Blog

Have you checked out my new blog yet? Be sure to sign up for email updates!

http://www.texasquiltgirl.com

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Blog Hosting and the Modern Woman

Several months ago, WordPress.com changed the way their hosted blogs operate. The change has driven me crazy, particularly since I have a WordPress.org site that still operates the way this blog did. Essentially, they have changed the administrative tools, and I hate the “new” way these tools work. On the surface, there seems to be little, if any, change, but there are subtleties that are driving me bonkers. The idea of moving this blog to a self-hosted site both exhilarates  and terrifies me, if only because I’ve worked for several years to build the small but loyal following that I have. Still, I think it’s time to do it, even if it seems sort of half-baked and slightly scary.

I also want to create a slightly different direction with this new blog by adding some tutorials, more photos and a better schedule (OK, make that an actual schedule). I have had several people contact me asking for updates on my machines and how I like them, whether or not I’d purchase them again, and recommendations for tools for particular jobs. I’d like to include more of those things as well.

The new blog will be a continuation of this one, only more in depth, more about the things I actually do on a daily basis. And more about the things that people have written me about, and asked me. I’m looking forward to this new chapter, and I hope it’s a leap you’re willing to take with me. I am currently working on getting the new website set up, and I really hope that you will join me on my continued journey. 🙂

Jill’s Fabric Arts

If you’ve been reading here for any amount of time, you know what’s been going on in my life over the last year. But if you haven’t, to recap, in February I was laid off from a job I held for nearly six years. I wasn’t able to find another full-time permanent job, so I decided to start a business of my own. I toyed with the idea of doing bookkeeping, but then decided to make and sell soaps. I have really been enjoying doing the soaps, but it is very labor intensive and I don’t think it’s as creative as I thought it would be. I’ve invested a lot of money in the soaps, and I intend to continue doing them, but on a more manageable level (i.e., not trying out every single fragrance that every single vendor offers). I’m thinking maybe eight to fifteen soaps, depending on the time of year. But my primary reason for cutting back on soapmaking is because I’m starting a new business!

Soon, I will be launching an etsy.com store called Jill’s Fabric Arts that will feature embroidered items, such as t-shirts, polo shirts, hoodies, blankets, and towels. I’ll also be offering some specialty art items that I’ll share with you as I finish them up. Most things will be custom orders, so you can choose your focus color, sizes, and designs. I am currently in the process of setting up wholesale accounts and ordering in sample garments and items that I will be embellishing, so the store won’t be launching just yet. But I am so excited about this new business, I couldn’t wait to share the big news! I have long wanted to have a business that will allow me to be flexible and creative, and I think this is it. I am super excited (if you couldn’t tell).

I am going to have a few sample items made and ready to share with everyone this weekend, so if you’re going to be at the Bellville Market Days on Saturday, look for us there. We will have lots of great soaps, as well as some sample items that you can look at and place your order. I know it doesn’t seem possible, but the holidays are just around the corner, so this is a great time to start looking for unique Christmas & Hanukkah gifts. What could be more unique than a gift that’s been personalized?!

Keep an eye out here for more news, sample photos, and other information on Jill’s Fabric Arts. Also, follow us on Facebook! 🙂

Aaaaand we’re back

I am so sorry for that extended interlude. Time just slips away, and that’s never a good thing, is it? But let me give you a brief catch up on where I am, and perhaps you will begin to understand why I disappeared for so long.

As I mentioned in my last post, all those weeks ago, I’ve started a business making soaps, candles and beauty products, and that’s where I’ve been spending most of my time lately. My very first show was a couple of weeks ago, at a local junior high.

Booth Set up

It was a really small show, and there weren’t a lot of people there, but it was nice exposure and a chance to try out a booth design to see if it will work for other bigger shows. We found that candles and wax items will be a challenge because of the heat (duh) but we’ve found a couple of ways to get around that. We also found that if people try our soaps, they are more likely to buy. We suspected that would be the case, and we went prepared. If you can see the water cooler at the back of the booth, that’s a very primitive sink type apparatus we set up to let people wash their hands. Two out of three people buy soap after they try it, so we’ll definitely be keeping the hand washing station!

Now, I’m getting ready for the shows I’ve signed up for in June and July. I’ve got soap curing, and a few more bar soaps planned to be made this week. I’ve also come up with a liquid soap recipe made entirely by me, and I am really excited about it!

Liquid Soap

I noticed a while back that most people prefer liquid soaps to bar soaps, particularly in the shower and bath. I tried using some of the liquid soap bases that can be purchased and then scented and tinted to your liking, but the one thing I always noticed was that they thinned out considerably in that process. Also, they are still commercial soaps; they contain all the chemicals and such that most people buying handmade soap want to avoid. So I started looking for a liquid soap recipe. Most of what I found, though, wasn’t really liquid soap. It was paste, or some strange concoction that really wouldn’t be fitting for sale. But I finally ran across a book in Half Price Books that described perfectly how to make true liquid soap. I made my first batch last week, and I have to say that I am extremely happy with the final product. It’s still much thinner than I would like it to be, but it is sooooooooooooo much better than anything you can buy in the stores. I used it for the first time in the shower today and here’s what I noticed …

  1. LOTS of lather! I used it for both a shampoo and a bath gel, and in both instances, there was a LOT of lather.
  2. A little goes a long way. Like I said, it’s still pretty thin, but I dribbled a few drops of the soap on to my wet scrubby and I didn’t have to add any soap to finish my shower.
  3. It rinses off clean. It doesn’t leave a film behind because it doesn’t have anything to give it the “slip” of a commercial soap. That gliding feeling you get from your shower gel is a chemical used to make your skin feel smooth in the shower.
  4. It’s really easy to dry off after the shower. I live in a humid climate (hello, Houston!) and there are times when I get out of the shower in the warm months and it just seems impossible to get dry, but with both my bar soap and the liquid soap I’m not having that problem. I think it goes back to fewer chemicals in the formula (see #3).
  5. My hair dried faster than it usually does. Full disclosure: I have long hair, so I cannot wash my hair and not use a conditioner. I’m going to formulate my own conditioner, but I haven’t gotten that far down the list yet, so today I used a commercial conditioner with my handcrafted soap. But my hair dried much faster than it does when I use commercial shampoos. I don’t use a blow dryer most of the time, so this is air drying in a very humid environment, and it can take all day for my hair to dry sometimes.
  6. My skin feels just as smooth using the liquid soap as it does when I bathe with the bar soap.

If you’ve been hesitating to try my soaps because you aren’t crazy about bar soaps, I think you’re going to love the liquid soap. I’ll be adding it to the website this week, so keep an eye out and get your order in early!

All quiet on the western front …

Or at least the home front. I haven’t really been involved in the studio due to some personal things. I’ll be back in the studio this week, though, and I hope to be able to post some new stuff in the coming days. I’ve been more interested in getting past this week than I have been in sewing and doing artsy/craftsy things, but now I can focus on things that are more fun.

In other news, I have a new blog that will document my transition from corporate life into the next phase. I’d be so happy if you’d stop by and take a look.

Until next time …