March 26, 2013

Interview with SF Etsy Member: Trish of poppypeach

Several weeks ago, our SF Etsy team leader asked us if any of us were interested in interviewing fellow team members for an "interview swap" post.  I love being an active participant in our SF Etsy group, and jumped at the chance to meet another member and learn more about her and her creations.  It's funny how a random introduction surfaces many things in common - our birthdays are one day apart, we both started sewing at a young age, and we both love cooking (vegetarian meals, of course!)

Meet Trish Peach of poppypeach
Q: What prompted you to open an Etsy shop?
I was knitting some cute little scarves and I wanted an outlet for my creativity so I found etsy. It is the best online place to find interesting crafted items by independent designers. Etsy is an incredible place to showcase your work and get yourself out there especially for one of a kind items.

Q: How did you get your start sewing and crafting?
I have been sewing since I was young and could master a needle and thread, I was making doll clothes back then. When I went to high school I started sewing on a machine and making my own clothes. In Australia (my home) I used to make and sell clothes and accessories at a craft market in Melbourne. When we moved to San Francisco, I wanted to learn how to knit and took a course at Artfibers in San Francisco and that is where my love of knitting began. Now I have many UFOs (unfinished objects) around my house and a craft room full of sewing supplies to enjoy!

poppypeach pillows on Etsy
Throw pillows with felt applique on Etsy
popppeach totes on Etsy
Tote made with upcycled fabric from FabMo
Q: I can see from your current items on Etsy that you’re really inspired by the sea and the environment.  What else inspires you?
Books are a constant inspiration for me as I just love going to the library and looking at books for new ideas and inspirations. Another inspiration would have to be fabric - I volunteer with FabMo, a non profit in Mountain View that collects designer interior design fabric to be repurposed. So I go to FabMo and find all this amazing fabric that really needs another life so in searching through the piles of fabric to find the ideal piece is wonderful inspiration in itself.

Q: I love your blog – probably because I love to cook, too, and can’t wait to try a lot of the recipes you’ve tried!  When did you start your blog?  What are the topics you blog about? What do you hope your readers take away after reading your blog? 
Thanks Usha - I love to cook and it is fun to have a cooking project on the go! I started the poppypeach blog in 2010 to coincide with my etsy store. My blog posts initially were when I had an outstanding photograph that I wanted to write about. I also like to blog about the adventures my family that I have around the place. Recently I have added recipe posts with my Sri Lankan cookbook project. Eventually I would like to add easy craft tutorials - I have one in the works though I need pics to get it going! I hope readers are inspired to check out places we have visited and also even try a recipe or two if they like cooking vegetarian meals.

Q: What do you find to be your biggest challenge to be as a small business/Etsy shop owner?

poppypeach scarves on Etsy
Sneaky Snake Scarf on Etsy
My biggest challenge is time - I have kids at school all day but I still do volunteering at school and in the community which does take away time to focus on my crafts and etsy shop. I try and at least have one full day a week where I can focus and get things done! Trying to balance the time in my day can be a challenge as my priority is having a nourishing dinner on the table at the end of the day.

Q: Can we find poppypeach items anywhere other than Etsy?
I did a boutique through FabMo last year called the Textile Arts Boutique in Menlo Park. Hopefully that will happen again this year as it is a fun show to do and I will do it again so you can see poppypeach there. Apart from that I do local trunk shows in the Mountain View area with local entrepreneurs.  
Upcycled accessories by poppypeach You can find poppypeach in several places on the web & social media:

October 25, 2012

Projects, Projects, Projects

Wow, it's hard to believe that the end of October is upon us.  While many of you might be still scrambling to plan your Halloween costume, I've been starting to think about the holiday season.  Not only is it one of my favorite times of year (I love making gifts!  And all the shiny festive things! And don't get me started on holiday tunes!), but this will be my first year at a craft show!  I will be one of the several SF Etsy members at our group table at Bazaar Bizarre on Dec. 1-2.  More details will be posted on my Facebook page.  Can you tell that I'm excited?

I've also been keeping busy with a few new projects:
    - Adding more hats and coasters to my Etsy shop.  I even have a promotion running right now - free shipping on all orange fleece hats in honor of my home team making it to the World Series. (Go Giants!)  Enter the code: WorldSeries2012 at checkout.

    Orange and black fleece hat
    Go Giants!
    Orange and charcoal grey fleece hat
    Halloween hat
    Mehndi (henna) inspired paisley design
    UshaDesigns postage
    Speaking of Etsy, I can now accept credit cards and Etsy gift cards in addition to PayPal in my shop.

    Mehndi (henna) inspired paisley design
    Embroidery on notecards

    - Launched a new shop on Zazzle.  I'm currently selling notecards and postage stamps with an UshaDesigns embroidery pattern.  Inspired by henna (mehndi) designs, I've started experimenting with freehand embroidery and am having a great time letting my creativity flow.

    Mehndi inspired freehand embroidery
    Another freehand embroidery experiment
    - Preparing to make a limited-edition number of messenger bag custom flaps on Rickshaw Bags.  I will create the flaps and the team at Rickshaw will turn them into messenger bags and iPad sleeves.  All items are made locally in San Francisco!  If you're interested in ordering a custom bag, please drop me a note on TwitterFacebookEtsy, or email me.  
    UshaDesigns custom flap on Rickshaw Bags
    I love love love my new bag! The inside is a bright sunshine yellow.
    Last month, I toured their facility as part of the SF Etsy & Rickshaw Bags design contest, where I took home 2nd place.  (A photo of that tour was posted on Instagram - search for UshaDesigns). If I haven't thanked the SF Etsy team enough, thank you thank you for awarding me the prize of making my flap into a bag.  I'm in love with it!  

    Quilting project in progress
    Quilting project in progress

    - Finishing an early-stage quilt project on behalf of my cousin who passed away last December.  Even though I'm a novice quilter, I wanted to honor my departed cousin's memory by completing the vision he had to turn wedding well-wishes into a quilt for his brother and new sister-in-law.

    - Figuring out how to add a "Pin It" button on individual blog posts.  Yes, you can pin images from my Etsy shop and from this blog! (Hint hint).  And although they're a bit sparse, I do have a few boards on Pinterest.

    Although I've been slightly neglecting my blog, rest assured that I've been keeping busy!  On deck is to create some more hats and coasters in different colors for my Etsy shop and in preparation for Bazaar Bizarre.

    Are you ready for the holidays?

    September 19, 2012

    Design Contest with Rickshaw Bags and SFEtsy

    Design detail

    Because I have a relatively new shop on Etsy, I recently connected with other San Francisco Bay Area Etsy sellers (we just passed 800 members!) through SFEtsy.  What a great and inspiring community of artists, craftspeople, and other makers - many of whom earn their living through their arts.

    Recently, SFEtsy teamed up with Rickshaw Bagworks, a San Francisco-based company, to work on some fun projects together.  The first of these is a design contest, open only to SFEtsy members, to design a flap for Rickshaw's Zero Messenger Bag.

    What better way to immerse yourself in a community than through participation?  I decided to join in, and picked the flower motif I've been using in my fleece hats as a starting point.  The only rules for the contest were to use a heavyweight fabric, no glitter, sequins, feathers, or extra dangling parts.

    I used a heavy corduroy in cream to show off the brightly colored flowers.  (The corduroy was from a bag of fabrics I got from my sister-in-law, as I mentioned in an earlier post about this tote I made for a friend, and this one on Etsy).  I freehanded the stems and leaves, and played around with the placement until it was just to my liking.

    A big thanks to Katy Atchison (an SFEtsy team lead) for mocking up my design onto the bag!
    Mock-ups by Katy Atchison

    It was so much fun to create this bag - perhaps you'll see a similar design on one of my tote bags in the near future....

    If you'd like to vote for my bag, you can do so on Facebook by liking my photo.  The contest runs through Sept. 24, 2012.  And you can pin it here!

    August 2, 2012

    Elephant Family

    Stuffed Animal Elephant Family

    If you've read some of my other posts, you'll know that I'm crazy about my little nephew - it's hard to believe he's almost 2 years old now!  I've been given strict instructions not to spoil him with "stuff," so instead, he gets a lot of my undivided attention whenever I see him.

    Well, lucky me, I recently got to welcome a new niece into the family!  Yaay - double the fun!!  But knowing that my sister-in-law was going to be re-using a lot of stuff for her new baby, I didn't want to get or make anything for her & her family that was going to be the same as what she already had at home.  

    A few months earlier, I had come across this tutorial on making a stuffed animal elephant family.  Since the baby's gender was going to be a surprise, I wanted to make something gender-neutral.  This was perfect!  I filed away the link to the tutorial and waited until it was close to baby's arrival to make it.

    daddy and mommy elephants
    Daddy & Mommy Elephants

    Big Brother Elephant
    Big Brother Elephant
    Knowing that the whole family has a fondness for blue, I wanted to pick some fabrics that were more gender-neutral in tone.  Between a quick trip to the fabric store and rummaging through my stash of scraps, I was able to put together an adorable little family of elephants.  I made a Daddy, Mommy, Big Brother, and Baby Sister elephant.
    Baby Sister Elephant
    Baby Sister Elephant
    Elephant family adventure

    Then, to have some fun, I decided to take some photos of the elephant family going on an adventure along the edge of my sofa.  

    Silly, I know.  But pretty cute, too!  And my nephew's reaction when he saw them (and then saw the "baby" ones) was priceless.

    These elephants will not be making an appearance in my Etsy store due to the "not for commercial use" note on the tutorial. However, if you have some basic sewing skills (and a ton of patience), I encourage you to make some.  The pieces that go into making these are small and can get a bit tricky.  But they make an adorable gift and are sure to be treasured for a long time!
    Elephant Family adventure

    July 13, 2012

    Quilting, The Final Frontier

    log cabin quilted iPad mat

    I've been sewing for a long, long time.  Most of my life, really.  And I've tried my hand at all types of sewing techniques: hand- and machine sewing on leather, tailoring, working with whisper-light materials for dance costumes, using industrial machines to sew taffeta to heavy-gauge wire, and plain-old clothes construction.  Most of those techniques were demonstrated or taught to me.  But the one thing I had never been shown was how to quilt.

    Now, I've certainly seen and read tons of tutorials and books on the topic, and have even made a couple of t-shirt quilts by hearing second-hand how to make them (the first one looked great until I tried washing it...then I had a lumpy disaster on my hands).  I even made a few "cathedral quilt" pillows, but I don't consider these to be a traditional quilting technique because there is no layering or topstitching of a pattern into the overall quilt.  They're still beautiful and take a lot of meticulous piecing of fabrics together.  (If I can dig up some photos, I'll post them here later).

    So when the opportunity arose to take a beginning quilting class with the promise of completing a project in the 3-hour session, I signed up.  I took the class a couple of weeks ago at a great local crafting studio in San Francisco, called Workshop. They offer tons of classes on all sorts of things, from food craft to sewing to photography.  My initial aversion to learning quilting was because I thought it was about making rustic-looking blankets out of calico prints and pastels...definitely not my style.  But over the years, and as I was exposed to more quilts and techniques through my cousin, I realized that perhaps this was a form of craft that I could enjoy.  I especially love those quilts with a well thought-out design and symmetrical pattern.  The only other thing that was holding me back was the "fussiness" involved in creating a quilt.  They take a lot of planning of colors, fabrics, and layout, as well as a ton of prep with meticulous cutting and keeping all the pieces organized (I'm not that patient...)

    This class, however, was amazing!  Not only did I realize that there are certain types of quilts that take less prep than others, but I also (finally) learned the proper way to use my rotary cutter...who knew I had been doing it incorrectly all these years.  We each made and finished one "sampler" square of a log cabin quilt pattern.  Even though this type of quilt is not as symmetrical as other types of quilts, I learned to enjoy the slight randomness to the pattern, and was shown how to incorporate more symmetry in the overall design.

    My final product was bright and bold, and functional too!  Here's a photo of my quilt square as a "placemat" for my iPad (I hate using my iPad in coffee shops because the tables are often a bit grubby...this solves my problem!)
    log cabin quilted iPad mat

    These may possibly make an appearance in my Etsy shop in the future...I'll need to do a bit of testing around durability through washings, etc.  For now, I'm just basking in the feeling of successfully venturing into a true quilting project.

    June 8, 2012

    Etsy Launch

    UshaDesigns on Etsy

    The end of this week marks a big occasion for UshaDesigns - my Etsy store is up and running!  

    While it may seem counter-intuitive to launch a shop stocked with fleece hats in June, I invite you to spend a few summer days in San Francisco.  The fog rolls in (more like blows in) each evening, making for windy afternoons and chilly evenings.  A hat can be worn year-round over here.

    More items will be added as I gain my rhythm of managing my shop, working on 2 consulting projects (my current "day job") and staying on top of life in general.  

    What items would you like to see in the UshaDesigns shop?  I can't make any promises, but suggestions are always welcome!

    May 24, 2012

    Bright Baby Blankets

    flannel baby blanket

    All of my friends have kids.  Well, about 95% of my friends do, but that's a pretty significant majority.  (For the record, I don't have kids.  But I do love being "Aunty Usha" to my friends' kids!)  Being the practical person that I am, I usually get something useful off of their baby gift registry to help welcome their little ones into the world.  When I am feeling extra ambitious & creative, and when I plan ahead a bit, I truly enjoy making gifts for them - something that is useful but also has a little reflection of my own personality.

    I started my venture into handmade baby gifts by "making" fleece blankets - one-sided, plain-colored fleece with rounded corners and a decorative embroidered border.  All I did was cut a large rectangle of plain colored fleece and stitched around the edge with a machine embroidery stitch.  My friends loved these (I think!) because they were really large - big enough to put on the floor and let baby crawl around on and, once the kids got bigger, a good size to take to sporting events.  Fleece is pretty durable and, because the edges don't fray, can handle repeated machine washings.

    A few years after making a handful of the single-sided fleece blankets, I decided to expand my repertoire and make double-sided blankets.  Some with flannel on both sides and others with flannel on one side and fleece on the other.  
    fleece and flannel baby blanket
    Fleece and flannel baby blanket

    flannel baby blanketflannel baby blanketNever having spent much time looking at flannel at fabric stores, I went crazy at the number of cute prints, and realized that I don't have to stick to traditional pastels to make something appropriate for a baby gift.  The two design elements I've stuck with are rounded corners - it makes the blanket appear "softer" - and the large size.  Most of my baby blanket are anything but "baby;" they are typically 42" wide x 60" long! 
    space monkeys baby blanketbaby robot blanket 
    The blankets shown in this post were made for my sisters-in-law. 

    My hubby's sister had a loose giraffe theme for their baby girl, and my brother's wife didn't know if they were having a boy or a girl, but both mommy & daddy are engineers, so robots and monkeys seemed appropriate!

    I have another favorite baby gift that I've made for friends, but more on those in a future post!