Tuesday, January 31, 2012

PLUME DE NIKOLA Feature and Giveaway

Do you have a little girl who loves to dress up? Does she love puffy, swirly, sparkly pettiskirts? Then you'll want to check out the shops I have the privilege of featuring today!

I met Nikola last year at a homeschool conference, and really enjoyed getting to talk with her. She is a very sweet and talented young lady who is using those talents to create adorable costume dresses and fun little pettiskirts for little girls. I have seen her work, and it is beautiful! I love sewing too, but designing patterns like she does is way beyond me! :)

And now let me introduce two very special shops to you. Plume de Nikola and Nonpareils Designs.

How and when did you become interested in your craft?
I have loved sewing since I was about 10 years old.  I started with dolls' clothes, then costumes for my sisters and I, clothing for our family, and then moved into my current line of internationally-inspired dresses for little girls.

What inspired you to open your shop?
When I first opened my Etsy shop, it was with my rubber stamps in mind.  We had had them made from artwork I did when I was younger, but did not have a good enough camera to get the photos up on Etsy.  By the time we did, I also had some dresses to sell, so we put everything up at once.  We had shopped on Etsy for unique items and we knew it would be a great spot to sell my designs.

Where did your shop name come from?
When I first opened the Etsy shop, we used my rubber stamp name, PLUME DE NIKOLA.  This refers to drawing, and means, "Nikola's Quill Pen."  My trademark stamp is a peacock feather.

NONPAREILS, the name of my clothing line, comes from French, and means "one of a kind, unique, without parallel."  Since it also is used in English for sprinkle-covered chocolates, and children love colorful sprinkles, it fit with both aspects of my designs --- uniqueness and fun!

What inspires you to create your work?
The initial inspiration comes from my love of International Folk Dance and costumes. My favorite spot in the fabric store is the embroidered trim section.  I love the intricate designs found in ethnic clothing. The Duquesne University Tamburitzans' folkwear is incredible and I have spent much time examining and duplicating these works of art.  Our family also owns many books of costumes from around the world, which I love to browse through...it is so inspiring!  I thought that  little girls' clothes based on international designs would be so cute.  When one of my little sisters spotted a pettiskirt in a catalog, she fell in love with it!  Since all little girls love to twirl, and since we do a lot of folk dancing in our home, I decided to sew one for her birthday.  It was a hit!  I got excited about making other pettiskirts to sell, and proceeded to add embellishments, such as fancy stitching or trim.

Where/How did you learn your craft?
I have never taken sewing classes, but my mother did give me the fundamentals and was always there to answer any questions.  The designer of the Tamburitzans' costumes has also been helpful in giving me many tips via email.

Is there something that you do differently than other people in your craft?

I design and make my own patterns after studying the international costumes, so the clothing is truly "one of a kind!"  I also try to set apart the pettiskirts with highlights of trim.

Describe your creative process.  What inspires you?
I browse through books of collectors' dolls from around the world and purchase many of these dolls, study the traditional folkwear of many countries, view movies of international folk dance (Tamburitzans and others), and visit the trim section of the fabric store. I also ask one of my little sisters what kinds of things she thinks would be fun to wear. Trim also provides the inspiration for new accents on the pettiskirts and cotton skirts that I create.

What is the most exciting thing that has happened since you've started?
In the fall of 2010 we attended a Tamburitza Extravaganza in St. Louis where one of the workshops featured a vast array of ancient folkwear from Croatia, Bulgaria, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, and Macedonia. The thrill of walking into the room whose perimeters displayed beautiful, intricate costumes, some hundreds of years old is unforgetable!

Do you take custom orders? If so, how do they work?
I do, but since each creation is unique, I cannot always duplicate the original.  People I have met have asked me to do this, and it works best if they are local.

Besides crafting, what else do you do?  What are your other interests?
Is there life beyond crafting? Seriously, I love music, and play piano, clarinet, and violin.  Reading, writing, history, and fine arts represent some of my other interests.  I also love hiking, visiting new places, playing games with my family, and trying new recipes.

Why do you do what you do?
God has given me many talents and I feel that He wants me to use them to benefit my family.  It is also satisfying to share my designs with others.

How do you make time to craft?
I have graduated from homeschool highschool and my parents have encouraged me to pursue this endeavor which I so love.

What advice would you give someone new to online selling?
I am just learning myself, but I think being very productive and getting up lots of items with photos is a good tactic. Make sure your work is of high quality and guarantee your buyer's satisfaction.  Maintain good communication with your buyer and be sure to send his or her purchase out as quickly as possible.

Anything else you'd like to share with our readers?
I love the fact that I can work on my dresses and still participate in the life of our large family.  While they do science, history, and vocabulary, for instance, I can be in the same room with them and participate in the learning and the discussions. I can stop to look at a sibling's artwork, help my little sister get dressed, start a meal, or practice hymns on the piano. The variety of company, music playing, and fun happenings would not be accessible to me if I were cooped up somewhere in an office, far from home!

Aren't those International outfits just adorable! What little girl wouldn't love to dress up in one of those. They'd make such special birthday gifts for some little princess and so would those cute fluffy pettiskirts!  :) Next time you need a special gift for a special little girl, don't forget to stop by Plume de Nikola and see what beautiful, one-of-a-kind treasure she has for you!

Not only is Nikola a talented seamstress and designer, her original drawings also make beautiful stamps that are perfect for creating all kinds of paper crafts! Check out her whole line of stamps here.

Speaking of pettiskirts and rubber stamps, I have not one but two giveaways for you! Nikola has generously offered to give away two of her creations.

Giveaway #1 is for an adorable 12-18 month red pettiskirt.
Giveaway #2 is for a beautifully drawn horse stamp.

Enter to win one or both of the prizes by completing the entries on the Rafflecopter forms below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, January 30, 2012

FREE Shipping at Tropical Traditions TODAY ONLY

Tropical Traditions is offering FREE Shipping on all orders today only. Just use the coupon code 123001 at checkout to take advantage of this offer.

And be sure to check out the special sales they have going on right now. Pairing any of these with the free shipping would make a great deal!

Special Price! 8-oz. - Moisturizing Lotion - Peppermint

Coconut Oil Soap - Tea Tree Oil - 2 bars - Buy 1 Get 1 FREE!

Coconut Oil Soap - Lavender - 2 bars - Buy 1 Get 1 FREE!

And the Winner is...

We have a winner for the $20 A. Victoria gift code! Out of the 240 entries, Rafflecopter randomly chose comment #47. Congratulations to Kaycee!

Thank you to everyone who entered the giveaway. Stay tuned for another shop feature and giveaway in the next day or two!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

$15 off $15 Purchase at Overnight Prints

Yay! I checked my e-mail this morning and found that Overnight Prints is having a special promotion today and tomorrow January 28-29. Get $15 off any purchase with a subtotal of $15 or more! Use the code 15FOR15 at checkout.

This is a great way purchase business cards, magnets, address labels, and much more! I love using these promotions to buy my business cards. I buy just enough at a time to make them free or nearly free and then all I have to pay is shipping!

Note: This post contains my referral link. Thanks for supporting Joyful Service!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

A Seamstress' Version of Quilting

Although I love sewing and can be found in my sewing room many hours of nearly every day, I haven't done much quilting. My mom and sister have worked together piecing many wall quilts, and my sister loves hand quilting them, but not me. I much prefer sewing clothes to making quilts!

I do, however, enjoy making my little girls' patchwork skirts, and putting different fabrics together to make cute little outfits. I've even made several ladies patchwork skirts. In fact I just finished such a skirt for a return Etsy customer!

I started out with a pretty pile of pink and brown print fabrics (my customer's colors of choice). More than 30 different fabrics to be exact!

And after much hand cutting, coordinating my pieces into piles for each strip, piecing, and then laying out the strips in such a way that the colors blended well and that no two pieces of the same fabric were next to each other, I finished up with this result.

A pretty, custom made, one-of-a-kind women's long a-line patchwork skirt in pink and brown! 

Thursday, January 19, 2012

FREE Shipping at Lilla Rose Blog Party

Have you been thinking about trying out a Lilla Rose Flexi Clip? Or maybe you'd like to stock up on a couple more. Lilla Rose is offering FREE SHIPPING on any party order through the month of January!

I don't know about you, but I love free shipping. I also love my Flexi Clips! :) If you'd like to take advantage of this special (and not too common) free shipping offer, just click over to Cummins Life and join her blog party! It's very simple to do, and we'd love to have you join in the fun!

Would you like to host your own Lilla Rose blog party for your friends and/or blog readers and earn 1/2 price or free items? E-mail me at simplyfeminineflexis at gmail dot com, and I'd love to work with you!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Corduroy, Corduroy, Corduroy!

For the last several weeks, my clothes, my floor, my sewing machine, and my ironing board have been covered with tiny pieces of corduroy fuzz. I've been working hard to get some new corduroy items made to list in my shops while it's still winter!

I now have five skirts and one jumper sewn, photographed, and ready to sell! Hopefully I can get them listed in the next day or two! (Anyone need a 1/2 priced girls purple corduroy peasant skirt? More about that later.)

Saturday, January 14, 2012

A. Victoria Shop Feature and Giveaway

Can you believe it's already nearly the middle of January? January 2012! Christmas has come and gone with all of it's special activities, gatherings, and joys. Now we are settling back into normal life again. We're also settling into winter here in Missouri. We got our first snow a couple days ago and the temperature has been in the teens!

With the cold winter weather come sweaters, scarves, gloves, hats, and mittens. You don't have to settle for just any old hat or sweater though! A handmade knitted item is so much more special (and lots prettier too). I want to introduce you to a very special shop where you can find beautiful, soft and expertly crafted hand knitted items to choose from!

Ashley, the master knitter behind A. Victoria, is a personal friend of mine, and I can personally vouch for the superb quality of her work! And now let me open the door into this gorgeous shop full of soft yarn, knitting needles, and lots of talent and love.

Ashley says:
I have been knitting for 13 years this fall. My Parents home schooled me and my siblings. My Mama wanted me to learn the basics in the craft area and natural way of things (sewing, knitting, quilting, embroidery, canning, herbs, gardening, farming, homeopathic options and so on). She found a lady in our area that taught me knitting (the one thing that my Mama did not know how to do.) As it ended up I loved knitting and picked it up really fast. The first year I knitted every one in my family and close extended family hats.

We moved not too long after I learned the basics, so I taught myself some more of the stitches and how to read a pattern. A few years later my parents were finally able to find me another teacher and I went through a book with my teacher that taught a new pattern stitch each week. I loved learning the new patterns and getting to see how you can put things together to create something totally new.

My favorite thing to make are cables. During this time, my teacher thought I should take a knitting certification/knitting instructors certification class via mail. It was challenging and such a great experience. I made certain things that the certification organization asked for and in the end, I had to design something, write it out and send it to them. I designed a sweater, to my teachers amazement. Since then I have taught classes on and off, designed a hand full of patterns and started knitting items for people. I started the Etsy store, because people saw my items on family and wanted to know if I could make that item for them.

My husband loves colors and helps me pick out color combinations and come up with more ideas. My daughters, sisters, cousins, nieces and nephews are great models to try out patterns and allow me to work on pattern ideas. My Mama helps me with the lining of the purses. Little by little I have been adding more items to Etsy and coming up with more ideas. I love sitting down with natural yarns (merino, alpaca, silk, bamboo, cotton, and wool) they feel amazing. When I sit down with a skien of yarn and an idea, I love to see if the end product looks the way I visualized. I love seeing what others have designed and come up with, it sparks creativity and gives me more ideas. Knitting is classy and full of life and history. My girls (2 and 4), husband and I love to have movie night and the girls are used to the fact that I always have something on the couch with me, that I am working on. They love to sit on my lap and watch me knit, it makes it a slower process, but I love allowing them to do that with me. Whenever I am in a car I bring knitting with me and in the past (before children), I would read a book and knit. My sister thought I was crazy to read and knit. My favorite thing to do is get a good book on audio and listen to it, while working on a project. My daughters love to spend time with me, so we do a lot of fun projects with yarn, whether we knit, glue yarn to paper or they help me pick out yarns for a certain project. They are a great help.

My daughter 4 year old and my niece 6 years old are learning to knit this year and it has been fun seeing the craft passing on to the next generation. I am teaching in a public library right now. I also have some of my items in a local coffee shop.

The items that I knit are from others patterns or from things I have seen in the world around us. When I use a pattern already written I change something to make it slightly different (a thumb hole, a different cable, a different combination of stitches and so on). I want my items to have character and a personality of its own. I want it to make me feel cozy and warm. When someone wears that item, I want them to be able to feel cozy, warm, and comfy. As if they are sitting by a fire with a cup of coffee, not outside in the cold. My items will last and hold up, as long as they are cared for. I want my items to be a part of the new owners life, something that is connected to memories for them. I know that when I knit the items I have a feeling of love, warmth, and I hope that it passes on to the new owner. I want each item to have detail and uniqueness. The natural fibers last a lot longer then synthetics, so the items that I make out of natural fibers will last for a long time and continue to feel great.

5 things that I could never do with out in my craft:
Nice textiles, vibrant colors, cozy environment, my daughters for inspiration and encouragement, coffee. ;-)

Advice for someone that just started knitting:
Find a good teacher and make sure you have the basics down before you start playing with pattern, otherwise it is easy to get frustrated when you do not understand something.

Custom Orders:
I do take custom order, just contact me with what item and the color you want it. I will let you know what it will cost and we can go from there.

What else do I do?
I am a Mother of two little girls and I am beginning to homeschool them. We stay busy working on projects and activities with them, I also teach knitting 2 times a month, I help in our community with different groups and I am very involved in our church.

Aren't those items gorgeous?! I can do okay on basic knitting, but these things are WAY out of my depth! :) If you're looking for a new cozy sweater, hat, gloves or scarf for your self or a loved one, A. Victoria is the place to look!

You can also find Ashley in her Etsy shop, on Twitter & Facebook, or blogging about all of her wonderful new items on her blog. Go take a look around and then come back here for the giveaway!

I have a very wonderful giveaway to offer you today! Ashley is generously offering one of my readers a $20 gift code to her Artfire shop! Just follow the instructions on the Rafflecopter form below to enter the giveaway!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, January 13, 2012

And the Winner is...

We have a winner for the Blog Design on a Dime e-book giveaway! Entry #87 out of 97 entries was randomly chosen as the winner. Congratulations to Nw Homesteader!

Thanks so much to everyone who entered. Even if you didn't win, you can still purchase the book for yourself for just $4.99 and start learning how to design your own banners, buttons, and blogs today! :)


Monday, January 9, 2012

FREE Shipping at Tropical Traditions TODAY ONLY

Yay! Tropical Traditions is doing another FREE SHIPPING day!  Through midnight tonight (January 9th), you can get free ground shipping on almost any order* using the coupon code 101109.

 Have you tried their Organic Raw Honey? This honey is different from any other honey I've ever had. Normally when I have a peanut butter sandwich, I much prefer jelly over honey on it. Not when I have Tropical Traditions honey though! It's so smooth and creamy - almost the consistency of honey butter.

Everyone in my family agrees that this honey is just delicious! Spread on hot biscuits or cornbread or on a peanut butter sandwich, Tropical Traditions raw honey turns them all into a special treat!

Special Price! - Organic Raw Honey - 17.6 oz. glass jar

And guess what? The honey is on sale right now. You can buy it for half price through Thursday! Order today and get an even sweeter deal with free shipping. :)

*The exclusions to this coupon are refrigerated or frozen items and Healthy Buyers Club discount items.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Sneak Previews for the New Year

It's been a long time since I've posted any sneak preview pictures. Last month I was so busy fulfilling custom orders that I didn't have time to work on getting new items made for my shops. Plus my photographer was super busy too!

I just got pictures a few days ago, and just had to share a few with you.

Now I just have to find time to list all of my new items!