Bringing back the holiday chic strikes again :)

Okay, I could not wait for next week to post this gem!!!!  I JUST came across it and am so wanting to take the time to make some really fun ones!  An added idea to this tutorial: you could use the crayola washable markers instead of the fabric pens, and have a color your own doll that is reusable.

If you start now you could have a couple fun ones for the stockings by the holidays… or you can make up a couple and give them to the little ones who are waiting for the thanksgiving dinner to get done.  Dolls and Daydreams has some fun boy patterns as well, so it’s not just for the little princesses out there.

Happy coloring!

http://dollsanddaydreams.blogspot.com/2012/06/crayola-fabric-markers-make-your-own.html

Bringing Handmade back into chic!

Ba hum bug.  It was August 30 when I saw the first Christmas decorations being stocked in the stores!  Labor day bar-b-ques had not even been lit, let alone their labors been digested.  The consumerism in the winter holiday season has just become ridiculous and unfortunately taking the magic out of the season.  I LOVE fall.  I LOVE harvest, pumpkins, apple cider, chilly evenings, the passing of mosquitoes, frost, costumes, CANDY, and enjoying family.  This is all being drowned out by that which is around us.

I understand there are a couple things that need to be done really early for the winter holiday season.  I mean you can’t take pictures for holiday cards on December 5th and have them sent out in time… hello!  I am not crazy. Also unless you are INSANE you probably can’t quilt an entire blanket in a couple days either.  There are things that take time… but buying ornaments, trees, or tinsel in August? Really?

Okay, so now off my soap box.  I know there are many of you out there who are in agreement.   But as I was walking through a local big-box store today, I was inspired:  my goal for this upcoming holiday season; is Once a week (atleast) I will share an awesome Homemade project that would help make some wonderful and thoughtful gifts.

The economy is slowly starting to turn around (it is really!!! look at the non-syndicated numbers!), ever so slowly, AND you have a choice where your hard earned money goes!  All I ask is that you be conscious of where your money is truly going ~ whether you buy local, support small business, or standard industry.  Just be informed.

The first homemade project that I am passing on, this is truly a fun one and you have plenty of time to make different versions.  How many of you have a loved one with an American Girl Doll?  Here is a FREE tutorial on how to make her some clothes!!!  http://www.libertyjanepatterns.com/2011/04/free-american-girl-doll-dress-pattern.html

Happy projects, and even merrier gifting!

MUAH

Ursula

Ursula’s Customer Appreciation Giveaway

That’s right, it is time for my customer appreciation giveaway.  Ursula’s Handmade Treasures has turned into more than just a hobby.  My wonderful customers inspire and challenge me, adding more to our little business than they will ever truly know.  Not only does the revenue generated from my “little” business help expand all the wonderful fabrics, supplies, and patterns we get to offer, it also helps our little family in today’s tough economy.  Sometimes, the sale we made the night before pays for groceries the next day.

So as a thank you, and to encourage all my wonderful customers to show off their little ones, I am arranging this giveaway:  the winner will receive 1 (one) complete outfit of their choice made for their child, choosing from the fabrics we have in stock, delivered in-time for the upcoming holiday season.  This giveaway is open to ALL my customers, domestic or international.

Who is eligible and how to enter:

Who is eligible:  any customer who has purchased an item made by Ursula’s Handmade Treasures, either through Facebook, email, Etsy, BigCartel, or SugaBugs LLC.

How to Enter:

1.  On facebook fan page simply post a picture of your little one wearing (or cuddling) the item purchased from Ursula’s Handmade Treasures.

* Professional photographs are welcome, but must contain the watermark of the photographer.

* Professional photographers are welcome to join in, as long as the model is your relation!

2.  Once it is posted on the fan page wall, I will assign a number to your post.   You have the entire month of October to enter!  You may enter more than one photo, but they must contain different products purchased… ie: one of your little one cuddling their mermaid doll, and another photo of them running around in their petti-pants.

3.  November 1st I will use Random.org to select a winner.  That’s it!

Have fun and enjoy showing off all that cuteness!  Please email me with any questions.

art appreciation

This last May, my dear husband presented me with the most unique, incredibly beautiful, and mystifying birthday present.  A girl will never complain when she is presented a stone that is 449.4 carats, a deep green, and sparkles like crazy.   But there was only one problem, it’s not an easy stone to wear… Unless you get to wear a coronet all the time.  I mean seriously, can you imagine this around your neck, let alone your finger?

So after much ooh-ing and awing, this little beauty shunted it’s way around my studio work table and eventually started to collect dust on the bookshelf- top shelf to be exact.  I kept looking for fun settings, a bracelet, a pendant, or possibly a staff topper, to no avail.  So for a couple of months, unfortunately- it became forgotten.

Recently I was searching around Etsy.com for some supplies,  ironically  probably for something benign- like bais tape or some such, and I came across this fun little artists shop that specializes in Fimo Clay sculptures: Clay by Kim.  As I was scrolling through her pictures,  intrigued to delve deeper into her shop further, I came across mermaids, fairies, and DRAGONS.  SQUEEEEEEEEE! I was in heaven.  After searching through all her sales listings I started snooping into her sold items.   I came across this fun OOAK listing for a dragon wrapped around a stone. HA-HA!

I did not hesitate- I dropped her a note.

Not to bore you with the details, all I can say is that after 15 messages back and forth… all in an incredibly timely manner… I am the proud mama of my very own little dragon “Lucia Bella”.

I know there are lots of artists out there that specialize in Fimo, each one has their strengths and talents.  But if you are looking for the fanciful, with incredible attention to detail, and amazing personalization I highly recommend talking with Kim.  Even if it’s not listed in her shop, she will happily make it happen for you…

Can you make that for Me?

Hello dear readers, no I have not forgotten to grace the web with my unusual and highly intriguing thoughts recently.  Frankly I just have not had the time.  No complaints from this end, needless to say a busy Ursula is a happy Ursula!  Recently my little family was lucky to win a fun mini-photo shoot from the amazing  Amanda Star Photography.  She had held a fathers day photo contest for her Momtography group, and after much deliberation I decided to enter one of my favorite shots from a family vacation.  I was super stoked to be the grand-prize winner, after all you should have seen the amazing photos that other Momtographers had entered!   For the photo shoot I decided to finally make a little something for me to wear.  Remember, I am trying to rebuild my wardrobe… and this was the perfect time to add something a little fancy.

Fancy, but fun.  Simple enough to wear out to an early dinner or nice enough to go to a holiday party.  I love the silhouette of the 1950’s, it shows off the woman’s body with out being vulgar yet has a fun flirty aspect to it.  These dresses also give you an excuse to pull out the petti-coats, thigh highs, and of course your pearls! I found this amazing fabric, black background with HUGE blue and gold butterflies.  It is so hard to find large prints, I just had to scoop it up.

Now that I had the perfect fabric I drafted up a sweet pattern, then I attached a full circle (and a half) skirt, and topped it off with a thin silk belt… of a contrasting color of course.   I knew that I wanted this dress to be a little more modest than most people are used to seeing me in, so the neckline is higher creating more visual interest.  As you can see this dress does not disappoint!  Yet it is so easy to wear.

And oh-so fun to twirl in.  You know there truly is nothing like a full circle skirt to bring out the little girl in you!  My daughter also loves to play with the puffiness of the skirt.  Super silly and creates fond memories.

Now, after posting some of these pictures on my fan-tabulous facebook page, I have had a few inquiries as to whether or not I will make outfits for my adult fans.  The answer to this is yes, with a bunch of caveats.  First and foremost:  I will only make them for those who are available to do fittings.

If us women have not figured it out by now, here is a shocking revelation:  no two women are built exactly alike.

Now if you want a nice dress, that fits… go to JC Penny’s or TJ Maxx and try a whole bunch on.  You will eventually find one you like, that fits relatively well, and probably your favorite color.   You can even have it altered, for a minimal fee.

If you want a dress that fits YOU, custom is definitely the way to go.  How many of you have one breast larger than the other?  Scoliosis?  One leg longer than the other?  Your booty is wider than your hips?    I can tell you, I have many of these issues… and more.

To start out with, what a seamstress does for a custom design, is called a “body block”.  All your measurements are taken (some you probably never thought of) and a 2-D flat reproduction of your body is made. From this your outfits are designed, following the curves that best fit you.  When a seam lies flat and in the right spot, no one can tell your right breast is smaller then the left.  If the panels are constructed correctly no one will see that your left butt cheek is 1/2″ higher than the right… It is a play with seams.  Nothing distracts from the eye, so a vision of perfection is achieved.

Would you like your waist to seem smaller?  Place the waist line seams above your true waist (which is above your belly button)!  Would you like to look longer?  Drop your waist line seam to your hips… but keep the true-waist loose.  Etc.  All of these can be achieved within the silhouette you are looking for.

The best part about a body block, if your weight is maintained within reason, you can have multiple outfits made just for you!  No question as to the fit or design.  When you pull it out of the closet it will be like a second skin, comfortable, elegant, and most importantly you!

Every woman deserves to have at least one item in her wardrobe that makes her happy, is fun to wear, and makes her feel absolutely stunning.

So to end this little infomercial on custom made outfits, yes I am happy to make custom outfits. From a simple shirt to a full blown evening dress… I do have a rule against “wedding dresses” (sorry! but spend your money on the honeymoon instead).  But the client has to be personally available to do fittings.  If you are elsewhere in the world, I might know a great seamstress to refer you to… so you won’t miss out.

Happy sewing!  And I am always happy to share resources on how to make your own body-blocks… you just really need a second pair of hands to do the fine tuning.

MUAH!

Just a little silliness!

It’s August, the middle of August in Florida to be exact. It’s hot, muggy, oppressive, and very un-inspiring.  This last week has really been a humdrum of motivation!    I realized this week marks the 5th year at my current job, a true landmark since I have never lived in one place for that long, let alone stayed at one job.  So I guess a mini-celebration is in store… yay!   Hey, I finally get bumped up to 3 weeks paid vacation.  I already have Gulf Wars and Pensic marked off, with formal vacation requests put in.  Something to look forward to in the up coming year.

On another note, as I was trying to stay cool, this evening I spent some time on the couch applying Gel-Nail polish.  They have recently come out with some fun colors, and I picked up a beautiful Lapiz blue… and of course a sparkly over coat.  Now, to many women out there, the act of putting polish on your nails is a common everyday whop-d-do.  But 3 years ago I did not have any nails… well okay, I had nail stubs.  Since I can remember I chewed the heck out of my nails, all the way down, to the quick and sometimes beyond.  My child hood is littered with memories of my Mother bribing me to stop.  I could get a radio if I did not chew my nails for a month… I’d stop, for a month, get the radio and then promptly start biting them off!  Or She’d take me to the movies if I let my nails grow out past the tip of my finger. Alas, we never went to the movies.

As some of you know, when you area habitual nail biter… your nails are thin.  When they do grow they peel, break, or tear super easy.  No amount of “nail hardener” works, it’s a gimmick and a joke.

Nor does the “taste bad” nail polish stuff.  It comes off just as easily as the nail does, and it does not taste that bad :).

Nail biting is a habit, plain and simple. There is just as much psychological issues mixed up with nail biting as there is the physical.  Its an expression of anxiety, a nervous twitch so to speak.  I can tell you, no one looks at their nails and says “Hmmm I think I will chew these off now”.  HA.  Most of the time I never even realized when I was doing it. I’d catch myself in the car, reading a book, in class, at work when waiting…  Even today my Husband will tell me to take  my hand out of my mouth (I asked him to do it, don’t worry) when we are driving.

So if it is a habit what made me decide to stop?  My brothers wedding.  I went over for my older-middle brother’s wedding and opted not to go with the girls to the salon, I had no nails. I was ashamed. Because of that shame I did not get to spend that time with my nieces or my new sister in law. Simple as that.

I decided to try and stop.

Remember I said it’s a nervous habit and you don’t realize you are doing it.  Its kind of hard to stop something if you don’t realize until it is to late that you are doing it.

So I went down to the crappy chain nail-salon, and had acrylic nails placed.  I admit it, they were poorly done and incredibly bulky, but hey you can’t chew those suckers… trust me I tried.  For me it was simple as that. I could not chew them, they were to hard.  I was able to paint them daily with different colors.  I was in 7th heaven!!! I finally, after 30 years, was able to paint my nails.  Such a simple pleasure, and one I finally could take part it.  I was like a kid in the candy store at Sally’s beauty supply.  I got really good at doing french manicures, and I don’t stick with the traditional!

One thing I have realized, I am obsessed with my nails.  If they are not perfectly smooth, if they have a chip, or a catch, or are uneven, all I want to do is chew them till they are perfect.   They have to be smooth.  No matter what.  It is a left over aspect of having no nails… after all pure skin is smooth, does not chip, and does not catch fabric!

It is now 3 years later, with the help of pregnancy hormones my nails regained strength and I no longer need acrylic nails.  I admit it, I have fallen off the band wagon many times, I have caused myself pain (ironically it never hurt to chew my nails before!).   But I love to paint my nails. I hope to pass this on to my daughter, one of these day’s she may sit still enough to do her nails too.

I still can’t bring myself to go up to the local nail salon and have a manicure done, I have done it once or twice in the past and I just could not justify the cost.  So when they came out with the Gel-nails at home, I was ecstatic and jumped on that band wagon.  Granted because of my obsessive nature over my nails I end up redoing them every week (instead of the 2 recommended on the package), it sure beats having stubs as nail tips!  I have also actually gone for a couple months with no polish, and no (okay minimal) nail biting incidences.

Habits are hard to break, especially when there are psychological or chemical dependence on them.    Biting my nails was not a life threatening habit, nor did it harm anyone but me.  But I am incredibly proud that I have been working to overcome it.

Besides, taking product or example pictures are so much nicer when my hand does not look like an Ogre’s. LOL.

Now that evening has set in, and it has cooled down in our muggy part of the world.  Off to take my perfectly manicured hands and turn on the sewing machine.  Maybe some fun pictures will come of it?  We’ll see.

Maybe a new approach is needed?

Before the birth of my daughter I had never really had a desire to have professional photographs taken, sure I took part in the set up photographs on Cruises or at theme parks, but honestly I never thought of having nice photos done.  Then the motherly hormones set in and I wanted to document EVERYTHING including the pregnancy, luckily a coworker who was 4 months ahead of me in our pregnancies introduced me to a local family photographer.  Having never had a professional sitting before, and only minimal information about pricing based off of “glam shots” (remember those??? 80’s style hair and makeup, LOL), we went to a consultation regarding a wonderful “watch-me-grow” photography program.  For one fee the entire year’s worth of photo sessions was included, all the major milestones were covered, we just had to purchase the prints we liked.  I was totally stoked.  This was something we could afford and would not regret.  

So we began our sessions with a fun maternity shoot, an insane amount of  pictures were taken, including a plethora of different poses and outfits.  We had so much fun, and it was wonderful to just focus on our budding new family.   Our photographer was a joy to work with.  The anticipation of viewing the photographs was eating away at my attention span.  Luckily we did not have to wait long, it took 2 hours to go through all the pictures.  Ohhh-ah, I had never looked so good.  This made me feel so beautiful, and even more in love with my little family.  We picked out the ones we could not live without and put in the order, knowing that we wanted to save the biggest print purchases for our daughter’s newborn pictures.

I wish you could experience how amazing our new born photography session was, our daughter was not the most cooperative newborn.  She was more awake than not… so each of the “sleeping” poses were actually frames caught between screams.  But our photographer was incredible working with her.  Even the memory of that time makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.  I made outfits for her to wear, the photographer had a closet full of props to try out, and after a 4 hour session (YES 4 hours) we all left exhausted yet full of anticipation.

Then came the viewing.   Then unfortunately the reality sets in.

We live in a 57′ long 12′ wide trailer.  Each wall has atleast 1-3’x4′ window on it.  Our hallway is lined with closet storage.

As much as we wanted to buy the largest possible prints of our beautiful daughter in the most amazingly taken photographs, there was just no where to put them.   And this was just her newborn session… what about 3mo, 6mo, 9 mo, let alone 1-year?  Where would we put everything?  Even the refrigerator has pictures on it.   To this day I think back to all the photos taken, and how many we just could not fathom purchasing… and I miss those prints. 

Now that you have made it this far into my post you are probably asking: what the heck is this supposed to be leading to?

Lately in my facebook newsfeeds I have been inundated with posts, by multitudes of photographers that I follow, shouting the merits of purchasing the largest print for viewing.  Trying to prove that a large photograph over the couch is much more eye-catching than the smaller one.    I totally agree with this, but at every photo viewing I have been to in my short career of professional photography, the more prints we purchased the better.    Even purchasing just the modest 5×7″,  the honest truth is there is just not enough room.  I don’t have it, my parents don’t have it… heck my boss who lives alone in a 2 story mansion does not have the room for multiple large prints!

I am just putting a couple suggestions out there, maybe it will worm it’s way into someones business plan, but something needs to change.  Every person I talk to (and trust me I talk to a lot of people… it’s my part of my job to chit-chat) states the same grievances.  They all know that a professional photographer makes the majority of their money off the prints that are purchased. This is a universal understanding.  But this is also an old school of practice.  We are all in a technological age, and things need to keep up.    Most people have pictures streaming onto their TV, as a slide show of sorts.  Or they have an electronic picture frame, cascading through the families most loved pictures.  Ironically 90% of the professional photographers will not release a digital print.   This is such a HUGE market that is being missed out on.

In drumming up business for local photographers I now professionally work with, I get asked quite often if a CD of images is given to the client.  This has now become the demand.   It should also become the standard.

Now as a photographer you may ask: well how do I get paid.  INCREASE YOUR SITTING FEE, get rid of the marketing/print sales. Give a disk (or flash drive, pretty please!) with a set amount of images (10, 20, etc) with free use.  If they want more photos, charge for another disk.   Guess what? This gets rid of the headache of marketing, ordering, distributing of prints.  YOU WILL GET PAID whether the pictures ever leave that disk or not.  I will pay $250 for a sitting fee  if I get a disk with 25 photos on it, no questions asked.   But if my sitting fee is $50 I will not pay for $200 in prints.  So now the photographer has lost that $200 in sales. **

I am not alone in this.

Another suggestion, this has addled my brain with its simplicity.  Going back to my daughters watch-me-grow program, I absolutely loved it and I am sad at how many pictures are lost to me now.  I wish, with all my heart that we had an option to have the photos placed in a professionally made scrap book.   There was an option for a story board book, I admit that.  But what I am suggesting is a full year in book form, from maternity to 1 year.  All the prints together, so nothing was lost and we did not have to choose what would fit on our walls.  I know now, after working with some professional grade printing labs, that they have people on staff willing to put the books together for you.  I would have paid through the nose for that option.  Heck we would still be going for photo’s through out her second year… just to have another one made.  The coffee table book of family photos.

I know there are more options out there, but honestly these are the two that keep coming up.  I love that professional photographers choose to use their talent to help us document our families lives, and I am incredibly happy to have embraced their presence into our lives.   So instead of deleting those professional photography pages that post the irritating “buy the big print” pictures… I just hide that one post and hope that one day they will come around to a different way of promoting.

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**Worried about posting in the internet? Include a file on the disk (or flash  drive) with web-photos, with your logo and resized.  Make sure to stress that these photos are to be used for sharing on the internet not only for your protection but also your clients.  Stress pedophiles, magazines, or foreign agents “stealing” family photos for indecent use… that usually gets peoples attention.   Besides now you have FREE! advertisement.

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Interested in finding/contacting the local photographers that I love working with?

For the amazing “watch-me-grow” program, contact Christine at Dovephotos.com.  Yes, most of the fun photo’s in this post are from that program!  I highly recommend it.

For fun family sessions (more photo’s to come, so check back), mini-sessions, themed photo shoots, commercial photography, ect. Contact Amanda at Amandastarphotography.com.

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