Tuesday, August 20, 2019

5 things I've learned after 3,650 dates

It's hard to believe that these DIY fabric calendar kits have been a part of SeptemberHouse for ten years but it's true! The first calendar panels were for 2010 and wow, have they come a long way.

DIY Fabric Calendar kits for embroidery


2020 DIY Fabric Calendar kits for embroidery

Without a doubt, this is a design project that I look forward to every year. It's also one, however, that has not been without it's challenges. There have been years when I could not keep these on the shop shelves, they sold so fast. But there were also years that I gave away leftovers after the new year passed because I could not sell my inventory. I'm so glad I didn't give up after one of those slow years because I have learned so much. Today, I thought I would share just a few of the lessons about these calendar kits over the years. (warning: my photo taking and editing skills have thankfully improved over the years too so please excuse the poor quality of my older photos)

Oh yeah, I'm also sharing three secrets about these kits at the end of this post!

DIY Fabric Calendar kits for embroidery

1. Check and RE-CHECK the calendar dates before you send a file to the printer. Have I purchased multiple yards of fabric only to find out that it all had to be tossed because May 22 is actually on a Wednesday and I put it on a Thursday? Um....maybe. Just kidding - YES - I have definitely done that - and more than once. Those mistakes hurt and thankfully, it's been several years since I've done that.  

DIY Fabric Calendar kits for embroidery

2. May is not too early and January is not too late. This is one that took a few years to sink in. In my mind customers would only be interested in a project like this between September and November because of course that's when you would be working on a project for the new year, right? 

DIY Fabric Calendar kits for embroidery

Wrong. Everyone is different and everyone has a lot on their plate. It's better to make these more widely available and let customers decide when they want to add this to their "to-stitch" list. 

DIY Fabric Calendar kits for embroidery

3. Stitchers wanna stitch. As these kits evolved I realized I need to try harder to make it as easy as possible to get started on this project right out of the mailbox. Offering pre-printed designs and including skeins of floss in each kit was something I could do to eliminate a few steps in the process for customers, and it really caught on. 

DIY Fabric Calendar kits for embroidery

Once in awhile I still get a request for a panel that only has the dates like those early designs from 2010 - 2013 (and I can do that too - let me know if you are interested) But for the most part, customers seem to love getting a jump start on their calendar.

DIY Fabric Calendar kits for embroidery

4. Step outside your color comfort zone. Did you know that choosing colors for these kits is just about the hardest part for me? I tend to settle into a blue and green rut and have a hard time pulling myself out. When it comes time to choose colors I do a lot of online research about what the trending colors for the year are. That way, even if I am not a fan of pink or purple - if they are trending, they are in. 

DIY Fabric Calendar kits for embroidery

I like picking one of my "out-of-my-zone" colors for my example calendar too - it forces me to make bold new color combination choices - you know, the ones that are usually scary. But you know, I am never disappointed - and am often quite thrilled - with what the color wheel tells me to do. Geez, I love that tool! 

 DIY Fabric Calendar kits for embroidery

5. And finally, it never ever ever gets old seeing customers' finished calendars. I LOVE it. People share everything online these days so it might not seem like a big deal to post a photo of a finished embroidery project but let me tell you, that little post has truly made someone's day. That someone is me. 

DIY Fabric Calendar kits for embroidery

It can be very isolating running an independent online business out of a tiny corner of your home. Seeing those photos makes me feel connected to customers and drives me to create new and better things for them. So thank you to everyone and anyone who has shared their project online!

Okay, I promised three secrets so here goes:

1. These calendars are the most difficult product in my shop to photograph. The long tall shape, the vast amount of white space, the struggle to get them crisp and wrinkle-free before a photoshoot - good grief, its amazing get enough shots to create a product listing. 

2. I love calendars of all types, shapes, sizes, materials. I don't know why, I just do. These were a natural fit for me and this is probably one of the main reasons I keep these going year after year.

3. I have actually only completed a few of my calendars. Maybe 4 out of 10 have been completely finished. The rest get far enough to be photographed and maybe get a bit more love after that shoot. Maybe. Not long after that it's time to get ready for the holiday season and, sadly, it often gets abandoned. I hope you don't think less of me as an embroiderist after learning that!

A huge Thank You to everyone who has tried out this project over the years. I am so happy to have been a part of your year!



4 comments:

Karen G. said...

I wish the calendars would come pre hemmed or with edges that do not need hamming.

Nikki said...

Keep up the good work, I have been ordering these for quite a few years and love the different designs each year, I have just started embroidering next years one, have kept all the old ones to see together sometime and make a quilt!! Thanks for your lovely designs

Corinne said...

Thanks Karen, I totally agree. (finishing the edges of these is my least favorite part) Pre-finished edges is something I would love to offer. I haven't figured out the best way to go about it yet but I am working on it.

Corinne said...

Thanks Nikki! Your quilt idea is just plain AWESOME. I'm officially begging you to share photos of it when the time comes :)