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Make Baby Stuff Newsletter, Issue #011-- Holiday Baby Crafts
December 01, 2008

This monthly newsletter is brought to you from the Make Baby Stuff website. Each issue brings you up to date with new crafty happenings, contests, instructions, reader questions, more tips and our featured crafty artist of the month! It is your kick in the pants to get crafty!

Handmade Baby Gifts for the Holidays!

Did you take the Handmade Pledge this year for the holidays? I did! I'm really, really busy crafting away for all the little ones on my list, so busy that I haven't been doing tutorials this past month. I figured it might be useful to compile my own personal favorite baby crafts list for holiday gifts that I'm using this year!

First, it goes without saying that I'll be making several items from our own Homemade Toys Section, but with so many other inspiring ideas around the web, I have to share a few more from my bookmarks that are wonderful:

blank board book

More exciting tutorials coming soon by reader requests, I can't tell what they is a surprise!

Happy Holiday Crafting!

Meet the Crafty Mama

thosegreathousewomen Who: Jaime of Those Greathouse Women is one of those creative women who has done just about everything creative and is pretty darn successful at each thing too. She is an award winning photographer and designed several lines of greeting cards that were sold nationally. She has also done commissioned mural work. Oh yeah, and silversmithing! Her current crafty medium though is creating I Spy Bags that are getting so much media attention we were lucky to get to interview her.

Jaime lives in Michigan but is originally from southern Indiana (and says she is still a Hoosier at heart) and she has three kids and another one on the way...

watermelonWhat lead up to starting Those Greathouse Women? 
Ha! The kiddos were driving me bonkers and I needed a creative outlet :)

What is the story behind your business name?
My last name is Greathouse (I kept my maiden name when I got married and also gave it to my children).  So my mother is a Greathouse, I'm a Greathouse, and my daughter is a Greathouse (and my grandmother is an honorary Greathouse) - together we are Those Greathouse Women.

How has your line evolved from the beginning?
In the beginning, I made a basic rectangle with an eye shaped window.  I sewed it on an old White sewing machine I bought at a garage sale for $10, and it couldn't even get through one bag without messing up.  I worked at my kitchen table, cursing the machine, little bits of fleece flying everywhere and getting into the food.  I used to buy little 1/4 yards of fabric to try new patterns, and painstakingly tied a knot at every loose thread.  Now, I have my own studio (still in the house), where the fleece can fly free.  My White has been retired as the backup machine and replaced with a younger sexier Viking machine that ties knots for me and doesn't make me curse (often).

robotI try my best to make things that not every housewife with a fancy sewing machine can make - like my cupcake, robot, shark, flying saucer, and rocket ship shaped bags.  In a perfect world, I would design new bags all the time, and leave the sewing to someone else.  In my less than perfect world, I still stay up nights and do everything myself (with some occasional help from the other Greathouse women).  Now I buy fabric sometimes by the bolt, and in an effort to become more "green", I pay more for polypropylene pellets that are BPA/DEHP free as well as use EcoSpun fabric (made from recycled plastic bottles) whenever I can.

How to you measure success and have you reached it?

rocketIn the spirit of "be careful what you wish for" I have more business than I can handle!  In fact, my success (or happiness) could be described as climbing a hill, and now I'm teetering on the cliff.  I wanted something that would keep my creative juices flowing and give me something to do besides take care of kids.  I achieved that early on, then came the financial success, and now I'm having a hard time figuring out if I'm really happy with all this "success" or not!  I'd rather just design new things and not have to make a hundred of them.  On the other hand, the money sure is nice... and my greed (especially just before Christmas) keeps me sewing :)   My business has paid for a fancy sewing machine, a new printer, a regular babysitter, and my daughter's Waldorf education, so I guess all in all it is worth it.

What is your favorite part of your creative process from idea to sale?

Ooh, definitely the design process.  I could design new bags all day (and in fact sometimes I do).  It is hard to actually settle on a design and leave the others for another day...

When do you find the time to create?

I have a sitter who comes every morning to give me a few hours to work on my business.  Then when my husband gets home from work, he graciously takes care of the kids and puts them to bed while I get some more work done.

How do you balance business and family?
Well, the sitter helps!  And since my studio is in the house, the kids know right where to find me.  Having the time away from the kids makes my time with the kids more enjoyable.  I would be a monster if I never got away...

chicksAny other creative pursuits you enjoy?

There are many!  Right now, the biggest is probably my work with the handwork group at my daughter's Waldorf school.  I started an Etsy shop for them (TheGnomeHome), and we meet every Monday to do needle felting, handwork, knitting, and the most important thing of all - socializing.  On the other end of the spectrum, I love to dabble in jewelry making - not stringing beads - but actual silversmithing with hard core tools, fire, and chemicals.  My biggest problem is deciding what I actually want to do!

candyAny future business plans?  
Well, right now my plans are to just keep truckin' as they say.  I can't really  handle more than I have right now, so the next phase will have to be a big one.  I'm not sure I love I Spy Bags enough to take it to the next level of production (outsourcing), so for now I'll just stick it out through the holidays... who knows what I'll be doing a year from now!

If you were one of your I Spy bags, which one would it be and what would people find inside?
Not to sound boring, but I think I'd be just a plain ole' super sized bag.  Simple and unassuming on the outside, and filled with all kinds of surprises on the inside.  Not too glitzy or fancy, but enthralling, entertaining, surprising, and sometimes humorous. And of course, there would be lots of babies inside.

Thanks Jamie! Visit her Etsy shop at Those Greathouse Women or her website and buy handmade!

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As our site and community grows, I hope that you drop me a line and tell me what crafty baby stuff you are up to! Did you make something that was inspired by something on our site? Pretty please play "show and tell" with the rest of us! Often, having an audience for your crafting is just a kick in the pants that you need to get working.

Feel free to send in tips or questions too! We love mail!

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