It Took Over My Entire Life

In my last post, I revealed plans to move to primarily an online presence around mid-year, after the spring shows are done, and I talked about cutting back the product line I keep on hand. Neither of those were easy decisions to make. I have come to really enjoy getting out and meeting people at the shows, talking to them about my soaps, and being able to offer a wide product line. However, as my hope to make this a viable business started to wane, I began to resent certain aspects of running it. Between resentment and disappointment, the joy began to seep out of the entire process, and that’s where the depression started.

I am no stranger to depression; I’ve dealt with it off and on for a good portion of my life. And really, I think everyone deals with depression at some point in their lives, some of us becoming clinically depressed, and some of us dealing with just plain old depression. But regardless of how it’s classified, I almost always realize that I’m depressed when I lose interest in doing things. The one that usually gets my attention is when I have the desire to sew or quilt, but not the ability. I realized last week that I had a problem when I thought about making a quilt but then decided it was too much work to clean up the studio. It’s not really that bad to begin with; there are some things on the cutting table that I need to put away but it’s not like I’m walking hip deep in crap or anything. I thought at first that maybe I was tired, but it happened again. And again. And then yesterday, before I made the decisions about the business, I thought that sewing would be a great way to take my mind off of my troubles, but I realized that the business has sort of sucked the joy out of sewing, too. As I sat here thinking about it, I realized that what I really need to do is create boundaries with my business. Even a smaller scale operation will get out of hand if I let it – and I think that’s where my primary issue is in the first place. I try to do more than I can, and that stresses me out, which then begins to wear on me, and after a while I find myself where I am now – depressed and irritated and wishing I’d never started a business in the first place.

Chris and I were talking about this yesterday, and we agreed that it’s out of hand. To give you an idea of what I’m talking about, my work space when I started this business was my office. My desk was in there, and I cut and stored the soap there, too. When I started with the embroidery business, I needed a place to store the blank products, so I installed three large plastic shelves (think garage storage) in our bedroom. Somewhere around September, I realized that there wasn’t really enough space in the office for everything, so I started to store some of my soap in the hallway between my studio and the garage, which leads to my studio. By the end of the year, I’d moved my “office” space to the studio, and started to turn the former office in to a storage room. But that wasn’t enough space, either, so now a good chunk of stuff is in my studio, and under the bar in our dining area, not to mention the wagon I have that holds my big pails of oil. Every time I turn around, I’m out of space, and the business has taken over half of the downstairs area, and moving up the stairs in to our bedroom. There is not a place anywhere in this house that I can get away from it, because everywhere I go, every place I look, there’s some bit of my business.

And because I require the use of a stove and sink (and sometimes the oven), my kitchen is always in use, either by my business, or to prepare meals. I don’t do both at the same time – one is done before the other begins – but it creates a LOT of dishes to be done, and sometimes I feel like I am NEVER done with cleaning the kitchen. There have been days when I have done dishes six times and still couldn’t keep up completely.

I want – I NEED – to claw back space that shouldn’t be used for business, and to create areas of my home where it’s just not acceptable to store business related items. I was so gung ho for a while there, I lost sight of the need to maintain a work-free zone for myself and my family. It’s going to take time to get to the point where I’ve “de-businessed” areas, because I’m not going to just throw that stuff away or donate it. But my current goal is to not add to the mess by buying more things I need to store. I will be doing some embroidery work on some t-shirts in the hopes that I can sell some of them at upcoming shows, in my Etsy shop and on my website, so keep your eyes open for them.

 

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This Studio!

Most of the time, I love my studio. It is my happy place, my escape, my wonderful corner of the world. Well, it used to be all those things. These days, it’s more like a dumping grounds for anything business related. And I have to tell you that I’m more than a little sick of it. I lost my design wall to bookcases for storage of soap related items. We dump everything in there when we come back from shows because a) we cannot get into the garage right now; b) it’s right at the front door; and c) where the heck else are we going to put it?! At least some of this will be alleviated if we can ever get the garage door fixed (it broke in like, I don’t know … March?), but until then …  I’ve added a couple more bookcases to hold stuff for business, one of which is still in my studio, but hey, a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do. And until I’m making enough from the business to move to a store front, this is my life.

But I’m doing my level best to get it cleaned up this week, because I have this overwhelming desire to SEW. I want to finish the Star Wars quilt, and I want to make myself some clothes, and it would be nice to get started on some holiday items. I feel like I’m drowning in work and school right now, and I NEED the release sewing provides, but right now, this is what I’m dealing with at my sewing cabinet …

I'm embarrassed to even share this, but here it is, in all its glory.

I’m embarrassed to even share this, but here it is, in all its glory.

That’s probably the worst of it, but I also have this cedar chest that my parents gave me when I graduated high school that’s sitting right in front of my cutting table, waiting to go upstairs. However, I can’t take it up there just yet because there’s an old tv stand where the chest is going to go. But I can’t clean that up because … oh, let’s not even get into how bad my master bedroom is right now. Let’s just say that it’s a good thing I’m not planning to move any time soon, because I assure you … it would not be happening this year!

Anyway, in between making soap, cleaning and trying to keep up with this insane tax course I’m taking at school, I’m making a list of things I want to make myself for the Fall. So far, this is what I have on the list …

B5300 McCall's 6084 B6070

Also, this new McCall’s pattern looks super easy and fast to make …

McCall's 7432

McCall’s 7432

I would maybe be interested in something from Simplicity, but how would I know, considering how horrible their new website is?! Someone should tell them to fix it (oh wait, I HAVE).

I’m also interested in some skirts – I hear the hemlines are going to be longer this Fall – and some pants. I haven’t worn dresses or skirts in many years, but lately I’ve been wearing some skorts I purchased and I LOVE them. I love how cool they are, and how comfortable they are. And since it rarely gets that cold here in the Houston area, I figure I can get decent wear out of a couple of dresses and skirts pretty much all year long.

So, that is my goal – clean up the studio so I can maybe try to recapture some of my sanity. It works like that, right? Right?? Oh, please tell me I’m right! 😉

Trying to carve out time for me

When I worked outside the home, I thought I was busy. It seemed that I could never find enough time to do the things I wanted to do, and that I was always torn away from my favorite past times to do other things – work, mostly. I have come to realize, however, that I wasn’t nearly as busy as I thought I was, and I was, in fact, quite lazy. But to be honest, I’m still a little lazy, even though I’m busier now than I ever have been.

Or am I lazy at all?

I’ve always believed that if I wasn’t being productive, I was being lazy. Sat on the couch all day and watched tv? Lazy. Laid in bed and read a book for three hours? Lazy. Stared into space thinking about lint and aliens and dog fur? DEFINITELY being lazy.

I’ve realized over the last few weeks that it’s not laziness at all; I need that time to recharge my batteries, restart the creative juices, and push forward. OK, maybe it’s just laziness sometimes, but for the most part, I do those things when I have hit that brick wall we hear about so often, when my brain is over loaded and I just can’t deal with things anymore. I have also realized that I didn’t have these problems when my kids were young, because I actively sought out time for myself, and I don’t really do that anymore. You know, when the kids were young, I always thought I’d have more time when they were grown to do the things I want to do, and while that may be true, I’ve become worse at managing my time.

Over the last several months, in fact, I estimate that probably 80-90% of my waking hours are spent either making, thinking or planning something for my business. Another 5-10% of my time has been spent talking to Chris about his business, and the other 10-15% (depending on the day) is spent doing school work for my CPA program. I cannot recall the last time I sat down at the sewing machine just to sew for fun. Sure, I spent some time last month working on the Star Wars quilt, but that was when I was considering selling it at one of my shows. But the more I considered selling handmade fabric art items, the less I wanted to make them. So last week, I made a decision that my fabric art items will not be something I make for shows to sell. I may, from time to time, offer a piece that I’ve made but have no specific plans for, once it’s completed, but for the most part, I am choosing to keep my sewing & quilting activities out of the business. I make probably 10 batches of soap a week; I think that’s sufficient for the time I spend on making things for the business.

I have also decided that I need to set some business hours, because frankly, this “All work, all the time” thing isn’t making me too happy. My mom and Chris have been telling me for months I need to do this, and they’re right. Of course, now Chris has a fledgling business and he’s struggling with this as well. LOL At any rate, my new business hours are from 8 am until 5 pm – just like a regular office job. However, I will not be reachable before 9:30 am, so that I can spend some uninterrupted time on taking care of the books, advertising and other administrative duties. Whether or not I’m reachable until 5 pm will depend on the day, but if you need anything at all, please feel to contact me on Facebook or by email and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can. Obviously, with the nature of the products I make, I’m not always able to stop and chat when someone pings me, but I always respond as soon as I can.

Jill

WIP Wednesday

My first WIP post for 2016 gives me the chance to report that I’ve been getting on with the sewing this week – a good start to my new year, I think. I am about to start my 11th block for the Wishes BOM from 2014, so I wanted to take a look at all the finished blocks together.

Month 10 completed

Month 10 completed

I like to take photos of my works in progress often, because a lot of times, I can spot things in a photo that I don’t see in person. This works really well for color selection in particular, but also block lay out and how things are coming together. Also, a photo is an invaluable tool when I’ve got the lay out set and then have to take the quilt off the wall to sew it together. Usually I do this one row at a time, but even then it can get really confusing if I don’t have something to use as a guide. I use both my camera on my phone (down & dirty shots) and my Canon 60D (when I’m a little more serious about better photos). Those lay out photos have saved me a lot of time and frustration over the years!

Anyway, I’ve not yet got these blocks in any particular order, because I don’t plan to follow the lay out of the original pattern. I was a part of the Facebook group for this BOM and I began to notice how many people were using the same fabrics as the original pattern, and how just about all of them followed the same lay out. I guess I’m a rebel, because following the sample to the letter just doesn’t really appeal to me. I prefer to choose my own fabrics and determine my own lay out, unless the lay out is integral to the design of the quilt, which is clearly not the case with a sampler such as this one.

Now I’m starting to think about the sashing between the blocks, and I don’t think I’m going to use white as originally planned. I think I might use grey or maybe even black. Right now, grey is the front runner but I’m holding off on a decision until all the blocks are finished.

So, what’s on your worktable on this first Wednesday of 2016?

New Year Incoming!

I have realized that I am not so good at the finishing thing when it comes to sewing. I am very good at the starting thing, but not so hot at the finishing thing. This is evidenced by all the projects I have “in progress” that should have been finished long ago, but are still languishing in one state or another in my studio. From clothing to quilts to home decor, I am an equal opportunity procrastinator. I don’t know if this is the result of too many ideas, not enough time, or maybe adult onset ADHD, or just too much going on in general, but this year has been one of my all time lows in completions. And it makes me very sad.

Not only that, but I really have not spent enough time sewing in general. I moved my studio downstairs this year in the hopes it would make me more productive, and it did for a while. And really, I have spent more time in the studio this year than I have in recent years but still not nearly enough, and not focused at all, as evidenced by my lack of finished projects. I would like to pretend that I don’t know what’s causing the issue, but I do, and it’s nothing more than a mental block. A mental block I need to get past and stop letting it interfere with my creative process. My kids are grown now, which I always thought would mean more time to pursue sewing and other hobbies, but instead it’s resulted in less time in the studio. I really need to get my head back in the game … err, studio. And I need to quit messing around about it and just do it.

I really don’t like to make new year’s resolutions; I think they lead to bad feelings and they put a lot of pressure on you when you probably really don’t need it. But since I know there are areas of improvement I need to make, I am going to set some goals for myself, on a monthly basis. Actually … I think I’m going to make the goals on a weekly basis, at least to start out. For my purposes, the week will start on Fridays (convenient because tomorrow is Friday and it’s also the first day of the year; see what I did there? 😉  ).

So … goals for the week commencing January 1, 2016 …

  • Treadmill at least 20 minutes, four days
  • Sewing at least 30 minutes, four days
  • Catch up on laundry
  • Remove & put away Christmas decorations
  • Re-arrange bedroom to better fit treadmill

I won’t say, “Now, how hard can that be?” because we all know how hard it can be to commit to something like this. Or to commit to anything, really (except my husband; that wasn’t difficult at all). I’ll report back in a week and let you know how it’s gone, and then I’ll set new goals for that week. I’ve even set a reminder on my calendar to come back and do the update, so I don’t forget.

Wish me luck. 😀

November Recap

Once again, I have let an entire month pass without posting; I guess I really suck at blogging lately. I’ve had good intentions but I’ve heard that they pave the road to hell. So, without further ado, let me tell you a bit about what’s going on in my life.

First off, I found out recently that my position at my company is being eliminated and, I suspect, outsourced. No one has told me that specifically, but it’s the way things are going in my company lately, so I’m not that surprised. A little angry, yes, but not surprised. But I probably won’t be leaving till sometime in the first quarter of 2016, so I’m not really looking for another job just yet. I have applied for a couple of things internally, and I hear there are some jobs that will be available soon that I might apply for, but right now, I’m sort of in a holding pattern. Between the waiting to find out if I have a job, then finding out that I don’t in fact have one, it’s the primary reason I haven’t posted in the last month.

Secondly, I’ve been working on this jacket, which is nearly complete.

Jacket

All that’s left is the binding, which I had hoped to get done on vacation last week; sadly, I ended up with a pretty horrible chest cold and felt bad all week, so I didn’t get a chance to focus on this at all. I have been playing with doing some embroidery on black Kona cotton for the binding but at this point I really just want to get this finished, so I might skip that for this iteration. I plan to make at least one more fleece jacket in the next few weeks, so maybe I can do the embroidery on that one.

Next, I’ve been working on some Christmas gifts. A couple I can’t share at this point, because … well, I don’t want the recipients to see them yet!  But I can share this adorable Minions quilt I’m working on for my 18 month old grandson.

IMG_1076

Sorry for the bad lighting; it was late and it isn’t finished yet. LOL

I’ve been working on my crochet skills, if they can be called that. LOL I made this scarf, which is just double crochets that I made a width and length that I liked.

Crocheted Scarf Folded

Crochet Scarf

Yes, I know it looks sort of goofy with the fleece jacket, but hey … dare to be original, right? 😉

So, in a nut shell, that’s what I’ve been doing the last month. And I promise to at least try to do better in the future on posting more often …

Catching Up

I haven’t posted in a while because I’ve been working on several things over the last few weeks, and time just got away from me. But it’s been a busy month, even though I don’t have a lot of “progress” to share. In no particular order, here’s what I’ve been up to lately …

  1. Craftsy.com had a promotion for the month of October where you could sign up for a set price and have access to all their classes. Of course, I had to sign up and I’ve been watching classes on cooking, sewing, machine embroidery, baking, and other great subjects. I heard about this on PatternReview.com, and I understood that it was a test environment to see if a subscription service would be viable. I also heard that the people who were invited got an email with one of three price points – $9.99, $14.99 and $19.99. I signed up for the $9.99 price point, but I would have no problem paying $14.99 a month for unlimited access to Craftsy courses. At the $19.99 price, I’d have to give it some thought, but overall, that’s still a great value. With the subscription, you don’t retain access to the courses you take after your subscription lapses, but overall, I think it’s a great way to explore new skills.
  2. I really am getting desperate for some new clothes. Last month, I went through my closet and made a list of the basics that I really need – some blouses (not pull over tops, but real blouses with buttons), a lightweight jacket, a pair of slacks or two, and a few other things. I started pulling together fabrics and patterns to make these items, and the first one is underway – a fleece jacket made from Simplicity 2208, view A. I’ve never worked with fleece, or plaid, and I’ve never made a jacket, but I’ve been told this particular pattern is fairly easy, so I’m hoping to have it done before the cooler weather hits Houston next week (according to Eric Berger at the Houston Chronicle). I finished tracing off the pattern last night and I’m hoping to start laying it out on the fabric tonight.
  3. I’ve been doing some research on sewing cabinets for my Viking Opal 690Q. I know a lot of people really like the Ikea tables for their sewing machines, but I am not one of those people. In fact, I really have an intense dislike for it. My Opal doesn’t get used nearly as often as I want to use it because to me, it’s just an awkward set up. I guess I’m just too used to the Horn of America cabinet I have for the Brother DreamCreator VM5100. Right now, I really like the Kangaroo K8605. I would totally go back to Horn, but they seem to have moved primarily to electric motors for their cabinets instead of hydraulic lift, and the prices have skyrocketed as a result. I don’t NEED an electric motor and it’s just unnecessary cost.
  4. I’ve been doing a little free motion quilting (FMQ) practice, trying to decide between the Brother and the Viking. I think both do a really good job with the FMQ, but the Brother has a much better set up, and the throat is wider, so it makes sense to use it over the Viking. I really want to spend more time doing this, because I would like to finish the Cat in the Hat quilt that’s just sitting here. You may remember, if you’ve been reading for a while, that I started to do FMQ on this quilt back when I still had the Janome. Yes, the Janome that’s been gone for more than a year now … /blush

So, you can see that I’ve not been sitting around eating spoonfuls of whipped cream or peanut butter, watching tv and neglecting the sewing room. There HAS been activity, but nothing that I deemed exciting enough to share. I’m just not one of those people who turns out a new garment every night, or who makes massive leaps in quilting on a daily basis. I am trying to make an effort to get into the studio every day for at least half an hour, and I’ve been surprised by how much actually gets done when you spend thirty minutes in there every day.

Hopefully, I’ll have some photos to share on the jacket construction by the weekend. And I’ve thought about a series that documents my progress by spending at least thirty minutes in the studio each day. Maybe I’ll start that this weekend … hmmm. Watch this space for the beginning of that series!