Yo Momma Monday: Maiden Jane

yo momma monday

Meet Jane, 51, a quiltin’ mama of four from Cleveland, OH. She sells her quilts, pillows, totes and repurposed items in her Etsy shop and posts tutorials on her blog – Maiden Jane. I found her blog while searching for upcycled apron ideas, and I instantly fell in love with her story.

Before she was gifted one by her husband before the birth of their first one, Jane had never used a sewing machine. She did, however, love to create things and sewed by hand when she was a little girl. Although her mom never sewed “not even a button,” she supported Jane’s hobby buy purchasing her craft kits.

“So I am largely self-taught. My mother-in-law helped me in the early days and I also attended classes at the Sewing Expos that came through town.”

For Jane, most her inspiration comes from her daily life. If she has a need that she feels is not being met by the products on the market, she will try to create a solution.

Photo from Maiden Jane

Photo from Maiden Jane

“That’s how my Oversized Tote came about. My husband and I tried all different ways of carrying all our supplies to the beach – plus the kids! We decided big bags would be the answer.”

She is also inspired by stuff that other people might be considered junk.

“I am a little sad when I go to a garage sale or the thrift shop to see all the stuff that we – first, buy, then, pitch. I hope that I don’t accumulate so much in my own life that will later be sitting on shelves.”

Her customers are also a source of inspiration, as they will ask her to make certain items that may end up spawning an entire line!

Photo from Maiden Jane

Photo from Maiden Jane

As a small business owner and mom working from home, Jane does not have a set schedule. She does, however, set goals for how much time she wants to spend on certain tasks. She will take breaks for housework and when her kids come home, and she sets aside specific days for her errands.

“…This year I am trying to be working by 7:30. So that means checking email early and then getting started working on sewing. I rarely work for more than two hours straight without doing something else…

I can fritter away a lot of time on social media, so I am trying to confine that to morning,
lunch, and evening. But it’s an important part of my business. So much of my work is custom and then the product ships out right away, so that means I have to photograph it within a day or two of being done.

When Jane and her husband built an addition to their home, they added a master bedroom. The designer wanted to add a glamorous bathroom or a walk-in closet, but it was Jane’s husband who offered up the idea of a craft room/office. And Jane couldn’t be happier with the decision.

Photo from Maiden Jane

Photo from Maiden Jane

“One of the best things I have is a mobile table. It is on wheels so I can move it around the room or out of the way. The height of the table can also be changed. Side flaps on the table change the table size
to make it narrow. So the entire table can slide under the counters. We also have several mobile file
cabinets – which gives us storage and extra seating for when the kids are working in here.

Jane bought an entire Singer sewing book set at a closeout sale years ago, and she still refers to them often. She also likes Simplicity’s Simply the Best Sewing Book, The Reader’s Digest Guide to Sewing and the Vogue Sewing Reference Book. For newer books, she likes A Bag for All Reasons by Lisa Lam and In Stitches by Amy Butler.

Jane says she has made and enjoyed a few patterns by Burda, and after she made some totes from Jennifer Paganelli’s fabrics – they all sold out!

“I get a little frustrated with the traditional pattern makers. It seems they have forgotten how to write a pattern for beginners.”

Photo from Maiden Jane

Photo from Maiden Jane

Not only does Jane share her love of sewing and quilting on her blog, she also shares tips on practical living. Since she and her husband are both engineers, they thrive on order and solving problems that arise in their growing family. They are constantly changing and organizing things to adapt to their evolving lifestyle – like simply storing plastic grocery bags in an old milk jug with holes cut on the top and sides.

“Do you know, we still use that jug after 20+ years? My husband jokes that it saved our marriage! Since I am practical in nature and some of my products were borne of the idea of being practical, yet pretty, I used it as a basis for developing my brand.”

Jane gets tremendous satisfaction from working with her hands and making as much as she can. She started sewing for herself and her kids and would make gifts for people when she could. She created t-shirt blankets for her nieces and nephews as High School graduation gifts, and after encouragement from a friend, she opened an Etsy shop. Soon after that, she started a website and her business has continued to grow in the last five years.

“I almost feel selfish because I enjoy it so much…I love doing it for the creativity but I am motivated by the financial gain.”

Photo from Maiden Jane

Photo from Maiden Jane

Even though her kids and husband help out when it’s needed – doing chores, make pickups and drop-offs, help with laundry and set the table – she remains an one-woman operation. Her oldest daughter, who has modeled on her website before, is now off to College so her other daughter, Annie, has taken over modeling. She also has her own Etsy shop called Pink in Mind.

Jane’s work and has been featured in quite a few websites, such as Craft Gawker, Craft Gossip, Totally Tutorials and All Free Sewing. She says that it has been a mixture of her submitting her work to different sites, and getting sought out by different bloggers.

“I was thrilled to have a few projects featured on Craft Gawker because that forced me to improve my photography. But I’m clearly not “there” yet because I continue to get rejected! I haven’t made it into a magazine or book yet, but that might change soon!”

Jane is inspired and motivated by piano music, and since her oldest son is a jazz pianist, her house if full of music! She loves both classical jazz and New Age – like Jamie Cullum and George Winston. She will also listen to musicals and soundtracks while she sews.

Photo from Maiden Jane

Photo from Maiden Jane

Since Jane sells patterns for some of her quilts, she wanted her customers to be able to share their creations that they made with her pattern. So, she added a board on her Pinterest for all of her customer creations. If a customer puts their work on their own blog, she can also add that to her Pinterest board.

“If my customers send me a photo, I put it on my blog and then pin it. Then I have a reference board for other customers to see finished blankets.”

When I asked her what her advice was for new moms who are also starting their own businesses, she had this to say:

“First, enjoy your time with your babies. When they are young and on schedules, you can use nap time and evenings. That’s when I sewed a lot. Then again, I was only sewing for fun at that point. It was a wonderful outlet for me. I see so many amazing business women and bloggers and wonder how they do it all with young kids.

In my opinion, it gets harder when the kids get older. When my kids hit the teen years, my life turned into chaos. Suddenly, I was running kids to practices. No longer was the evening my own as the kids were staying up later. So my point is, life goes by so quickly.

Here I am, starting a business in my late forties. When I went to college for engineering, I realized that I didn’t really love it by my junior year. But I also decided that I would have many careers in my life. So I was open to whatever path my life would take. If you are starting a business at home, go for it. Dive in. You’ll learn as you go. It’s so easy to start an Etsy shop. But find what works best for your family.”

Customer Creation from Jane's pattern. Photo from Maiden Jane.

Customer Creation from Jane’s pattern. Photo from Maiden Jane.

Jane hopes to continue to grow her business and says that she always has new ideas for products if she has some time to design them, and she has also been percolating with products she could have made with a small manufacturing house or collective.

“I only have two hands and although I love to create with them – and I always will – I can’t see how to grow my business without additional help. I love collaborating with other makers and have some new bag fabrics in the works. Usually my mind is overflowing with ideas.”

If you would like to find out more about Maiden Jane, visit her here. If you or somebody you know would make a perfect feature for this series, share a link in the comments and on social media or e-mail me with the information!

Thrifty Thursdays

thrifty thursdays

Since becoming a mom, I can definitely say that my idea of a good time has tremendously changed. While I still do like going out with my friends, it’s usually to thrift store or yard sale instead of the bar. The only shows I go to anymore have the word “antique” in front of them. Don’t get me wrong – if Atmosphere comes to town, I’ll be there in a jiff. But that’s very rare. I like craft fairs and street fairs over house parties, and I want to go to the Sacramento Antique Faire for my birthday rather than 2nd Saturday.

In the last few weeks, I have been lucky enough to go on many a thrifting adventure. It all started with the estate sale/yard sale/ antique store adventure on the “Mom Day Out” I had with my friend a few weeks ago. That’s right, we had a few hours all to us, and we spent them going thrifting. That’s how we roll. Then there was the Lodi Street Faire (aka…crack for crafters) and last weekend was the Stockton Swap Meet. This was all topped off by the Galt Flea Market just a couple days ago.

Side note – taking your baby for a stroll through anything like that is amazing. They love being strolled around outside while you get your thrift on! And, the undercarriage of most strollers can double as storage for your smaller items! Someone without a stroller can push around a cart for bigger items.

I also recommend taking out a specific amount of cash and leaving your cards at home or in the car. Somewhere that is not easily accessible – by you, or anyone else for that matter. You can usually talk the sellers down a little since they generally overprice for that reason. And if you can’t, maybe it just wasn’t meant for you that day.

Luckily for me, I can only afford $20 or less per adventure, so there is no way for me to overspend. I wanted to share with you some of what I got. Now, this isn’t everything. A lot of my stuff is being used for projects, but this will give you an idea.

thrifty finds

1. Cheese graters – I think my collection is up to ten right now. You can buy vintage cheese graters like these online for anywhere from $5-15 each. Or you can buy them at a swap meet/flea market/yard sale for $1-2 each. I have only found a couple at thrift stores, but when I do, they are pretty cheap. I’m going to share a tutorial for turning them into earring holders soon.

2. Suitcase – I got this vintage suitcase and another one at the estate sale for $5 each. You can find these suitcases pretty much anywhere – you just need to be cautious that some of them can be pricy. Bring your cell phone and research each suitcase if you can to find the worth.

3. Records – This pile is from my sweep. A few were gifted, but most of them were purchased at the swap meet and street faire. You can find records everywhere. Again, some will be more expensive and others will be cheap. It all depends on the artist and the condition. I will be sharing a tutorial on how to upcycle records into all kinds of things soon. Before you begin crafting with records, check the worth. I don’t craft with any records that could mean something to someone. Always check that first. I also play my records when I’m crafting, so I have a “keep” “sale” and “project” pile.

4. Apron – Got this for $1 at the flea market. Planning on tie-dying it but I’m not sure what I’m doing with it just yet. Whatever I plan to do, I will be sharing it with you for sure.

5. Oil cans – I got these as a package with 7 records, all for $8. I really want to learn how to make vegan candles (I’m not for messing with animal or human fat) and I thought these would be perfect inspiration/motivation for doing that. I want to use these as candle holders.

6. Loteria cards – I got these at the flea market for $3. I definitely could have bartered for them, but I have been wanting them for a while and haven’t been able to find a used set. The sets sell online for anywhere from $5-20, so I did get a deal. There are so many projects I can do with these, and I also want to teach my daughter how to play with these, along with other card games. I think it’s good for her to embrace all of her heritage (Mexican/Italian/Irish/etc.)

7. Three-tiered fruit baskets – I got this set for $10. Again, probably could have bartered a little. Apparently I’m not the best at that. I’m planning on cleaning them and restoring them a little. Then, I will use them as bread and snack baskets in the pantry. Our landlord (aka my boyfriend’s dad) isn’t so hot about me hanging anything from the ceiling in the kitchen so to the pantry they go! Still looking for a three-tiered fruit basket that stands on the kitchen table. If you know of any that are handmade or vintage/thrifted, let me know!

So, everything in this suitcase (suitcase included) cost me less than $40. And they are all things that I’m going to either use on the daily, restore or use for projects. What are some of your favorite thrifty finds? Share in the comments and on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest with the hashtag #thriftyfinds. Who knows – your thrifty find could show up on my blog, with your permission of course. Stay thrifty, my friends!

Thrifty Thursdays

thrifty thursdaysOf all the media I have worked with before, burlap is not one of them. However, I find myself constantly pinning DIY burlap ideas on Pinterest, so something must be cooking in my head! I’ve found some pretty cool projects, and I wanted to share them with you.

Image belongs to Happy Together

Image belongs to Happy Together

Burlap Canvas DIY from Happy Together – Jessica Fediw is a mom of two who shares her crafting tutorials on her blog, Happy Together. One tutorial she shares is this burlap canvas that she painted on. You can also find plenty of sewing tutorials, and also a tutorial on a coffee table makeover. I can’t wait until we get our house so I can try out all of those fun tutorials that you do on furniture. I don’t think Sam’s dad would be too happy if I tried them out on his furniture, unfortunately.

Image belongs to Blue Robin Cottage

Image belongs to Blue Robin Cottage

Choose Your Love, Love Your Choice from Blue Robin Cottage – The reason I love this project so much is that it involves so many different crafts. There’s embroidery, stamping and of course…the art of attaching the muslin to the burlap and so on. Sierra is another mama who shares a lot of crafting projects on her blog, including a cloud pillow and a fox tote.

Image belongs to Maiden Jane

Image belongs to Maiden Jane

Make a Unique Coffee Bag Apron from Maiden Jane – I am so in love with this coffee bag apron! I’m really interested in making aprons…once I get that sewing thing down. She also shares a coffee bag rug tutorial and a tutorial on turning your dress into a sassy apron! Now, where do I find coffee bags? Oh, here.

Have a favorite burlap project you want to share? Or, did you make something from one of these tutorials and you want to show it off? Post in the comments and on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter with the hashtag #burlapcrafts. You can also find more of my burlap inspiration on Pinterest. If you have an idea you want to see on Thrifty Thursdays, just let me know! Stay thrifty, friends!

Thrifty Thursdays

thrifty thursdays

To say that we use a lot of hot sauce in our house would be a serious understatement. The good thing about that is that I have a serious amount of peppers in my garden right now. I can barely contain them all. In fact, I’m having a really hard time doing so. Although I know the summer heat will be looming around for a while, I need to start preparing for the cold weather, and therefore, the end of my beautiful pepper plants. So, I have found the perfect solution: homemade hot sauce! I know I shared a recipe for homemade hot sauce in my Father’s Day post, but I wanted to share a few more recipes I found. Also, I happened upon a new site for finding recipes! Don’t worry though, Pinterest and I are still very much in love.

The new site is called TasteSpotting, and although there are ads on the site, you can click on the food icon, and it will take you directly to the site. No “image links,” just the real, original recipes. At least that’s what I’ve found so far in my hunt. It also led me to a beautiful site called Honest Fare, which is where I got my first recipe.

Image belongs to Honest Fare

Image belongs to Honest Fare

Homemade Hot Sauce from Honest Fare – I’ve found myself gravitating toward really clean, natural sites that make me feel relaxed once I land upon them. She shares recipes for both green and red hot sauces, and they both look amazing and delicious. She also happens to co-own a food truck called La Empanada Food Truck, and she has her own apron line, so I take it she is pretty busy, and pretty awesome.

hotsauce_web1

Image belongs to Illustrated Bites

The Hotness from Illustrated Bites – The super unique – and awesome – thing about this blog is that Heather Diane, the creator of this blog and recipe, is also an illustrator and uses her skill to illustrate all of her recipes, like this one. As a person whose heart flutters every time I see a good design, I love this site. If you are into the design aspect as much as I am, you can check out more of her work at heatherdiane.com.

Image belongs to Allyson Kramer

Image belongs to Allyson Kramer

DIY Hotsauce from Allyson Kramer’s Gluten-Free Vegan Recipes – First of all, I would like to applaud Allyson Kramer for taking on the hard task of creating recipes that are both gluten-free and vegan. Those two weeks that I was a hardcore vegan were probably the hardest two weeks of my life. Now, I wasn’t cooking then, just eating black bean tacos every chance I got, and a whole lot of fake meat. So I was the worst vegan in town. I digress, she has a really good recipe, and even a hotness chart for the peppers. She also has a couple cookbooks and she’s an artist. Sometimes I’m lucky to clean the house AND take a shower in the same day, so I’m always flabbergasted by people who can pull of more than that.

Do you have a hot sauce recipe that you would love to share? Or did you use one of these recipes to make your own? Share in the comments and on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram with the hashtag #homemadehotsauce. Check out more of my inspiration on Pinterest and feel free to pitch any Thrifty Thursday ideas. Stay thrifty, my friends.

Thrifty Thursdays

thrifty thursdays

If I could buy my mom everything in the world, I would. She has put up with more from me in the last 30 years than people should have to put up with in a lifetime. There’s not a whole lot I could say other than she’s probably the most understanding and caring person I have ever met. Luckily for me, she is is also my mom. She listens to all my insane ideas and tries her hardest to support every one of them, no matter how dumb they sound.

This is why, if I could, I would give her a $1,000,000 dollar gift card to both Macys and Nordstroms…so she could get all the Estee Lauder and comfortable shoes her heart could desire. But, let’s face it. As a stay-at-home mom with no real sign of employment in sight, that’s probably not going to happen for a while.

I’m sure most of you are in the same boat (or you clearly would not be reading a post titled “Thrifty Thursdays” right now), here are some inexpensive Mothers Day gifts that you could make yourself, and that she will actually use. Because, as much as she said she loved that macaroni necklace I made for her, I never once saw her wear it outside the house.

DIY_Gift_Terrarium_Kit1Terranium kit, by Wit & Whistle. Found project through Creative Home

She also sells her own homemade goods on her site, and they’re pretty awesome

herbal-foot-soak-1Herbal foot soak, by My Own Labels. Found this one through Garden Therapy.

Both sites are new to me, and are equally awesome.

apron-inajar-2Apron in a jar! Another project found at Garden Therapy, by My Own Labels!

DIY-Mother's-Day-Vase_thumb[2]Mothers Days vases for the green thumbs in your life, by Ucreate

momlockettMothers Day locket, by the plunge project

8724090111_460fa0b116_bAnd if your mom lives afar, party in a box! by delightfully tacky, one of my very favorite blogs

I pinned a whole bunch of DIY Mothers Day ideas and you can find them here. I try to keep the amount of projects to five, unless I can’t help myself and need to post more. I just don’t want to bombard and overwhelm you with all these awesome projects! I also try to limit the sources to either blogs or small businesses who need our love.

If you have a Mothers Day idea you would like to share, please leave it in the comments. Thank you!