Friday, December 5, 2008

Getting Ready for the Boutique - Part 1

I've been working madly for over six weeks to prepare for a local Christmas Boutique that will be held at Wheeler Farm, one of the places I work at part-time. Back in the day, say 10-12 years ago, I used to do boutiques when I was a Creative Memories consultant. My crazy quilting days started in Y2K, but as crazy quilting is very labor-intensive, it is hard to focus on it for boutique items. If you charge for the actual time you spend creating a piece, you price yourself right out of the market. So, I tend to focus on small projects that include sewing and other skills. My business cards indicate that I will do custom commissions, and I will have some CQ pieces on display or on me (my CQ vest shown here).

This boutique was free to get into - they'll be having 10 shows next year and wanted to get a good variety of crafters and artists and develop a mailing list. So, I thought this was a good time to dip my toes into the waters, so to speak, and see if anything I do is marketable. I can always do Etsy, but thought I couldn't lose to try this first. It will be helpful to see what items sell or not, how my prices compare to the local market (Etsy prices would necessarily be different), and what's "in" and over-done or under-represented here.

So, following is a sample of some of the things I'll be hauling off to my table (not a booth!) tomorrow, December 6. Oh, and that's another thing. This venue will cram in 60 vendors and does not aim to compete with the Expo center shows (where booth fees run in the hundreds). I am allotted one 8' table, so creating height and visual interest will be a challenge while maintaining a cohesive but not-too-cluttered look. And I need to stand out somehow. I've been "practicing" setting up with various tablecloths, display bins and baskets, and.......... you get the idea.

First, the aprons. Featuring aprons is NOT a way to stand out. Maybe it was three years ago, but it is bordering now on "overdone". Having said that, however, I realize that everyone has their own style and target group. I had hoped to make a lot of "sexy" half aprons in organdy and hankies, but ran out of time. But that's an idea I may develop for the January 24 boutique, which will be a Valentine's Day theme. So, these aprons are from vintage patterns (4 of them) or my own basic design (bib, skirt, shoulder straps, ties).

These aprons above combine vintage fabric (new old stock 36" cotton kitchen fabric) with modern fabrics for accents. The left one is an old pattern, enhanced with hot pink batik and white rickrack. The right one is my own basic design, a pink, red and olive fruit print accented with a red polka-dotted modern cotton and red rickrack. That IS red, not orange - the colors didn't photograph that well.

Next are two aprons. I call them the "I Love Lucy" aprons, because the heart bibs remind me of the heart in the opening credits of The Lucy Show. These are made from a vintage pattern I have from the 1940's (have had it for years and made myself one years ago). I change it around now and then - enlarging the bib heart and/or deleting the lower edge scallops for a more rounded skirt. These fabrics are so cool; one is yellow and blue teacups and saucers on white. The other is a retro cherry print in yellow (I also have a smaller-scale companion print in yellow and the companion print in pinks). I've sold several of these over the last couple years.

As you can see, my photography skills need to be improved! These should be posed to show off the styling better. In this photo, too much of the waist ties and back straps show and obscure the fact that the heart bib is connected to the skirt along just a few inches of the bottom of the heart in front like this: ---V---

The next apron was made from scratch. I had a piece of cotton that had this cherry teapot print (sage green and brick red on cream) on it with a triple border print around it. I kept the first border of cherries with the teapot, lined it, and used it as a bib. The second border (the checkered portion) was used as a hem accent on the skirt I made from a sage green checked homespun. The final border, more of the cherries, went into making the shoulder straps. It was rather fussy, but actually looks much cuter in person than the picture shows.

And last but not least is the "chicken apron". I LOVE LOVE LOVE this bright, cheery, French-country-kitchen-inspired print in red and orange. I used a vintage pattern with this new fabric, and I think if it doesn't sell I'll keep it for myself!!
This last picture (for this post) shows a hodgepodge of things - a couple of crocheted scarves, some clothespins wound with vintage lace, a couple small pillows (is there something more romantic or imaginative to call them other than "small pillows"??). The black fleur-de-lis wide trim (edged in metallic lace and put on black velvet) was a piece that dear Willa donated to a traveling box of goodies on a Yahoo Crazy Quilt list about 6-7 years ago. It traveled between about 20 women, and we'd all take out what we wanted and put in other goodies to replace it. I took out some of this yummy stuff and made two small pillows. The other one is the same trim on a gold background, but it's having some technical difficulties on one seam, so I don't have time to re-do the seam before this boutique.

The round pink thing is a small purchased bandbox covered in pink wallpaper around the sides and topped with the a garden of vintage button-centered yo-yo's. To the very right is a small silk ribbon embroidered picture framed in a vintage-looking frame. The back yellow and pink cushion is just bits of home dec fabrics and trimmed with ribbon.

I'll post more later, as time allows. Thanks for looking!


Allison Ann Aller said...

I will be shocked if all those adorable aprons do not sell.
Cathy, they are awesome!!!

Anonymous said...

I can't help but think that you will have a wonderful display that will attract the eyes of buyers! I don't even like aprons much, and I'd be tempted by a couple of those! I'll be looking forward to hearing how the turn-out was and how you did, what you saw at the other vendors, etc. I hope it was really well advertised around the driving-distance area.

Debbie said...

Your aprons are really pretty, did you take those to the show?