Birdsong Bows: March 2011

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Entries for the After the Rain hair bow design challenge

**CONGRATULATIONS to MELINA, who won our first hair bow design challenge!!**

Thank you to all who entered our first hair bow design contest! The theme for this contest is "After the Rain."
We have 7 entries. Please vote for one! The poll is in the right-hand sidebar near the top of the blog. You have until next Tuesday, 4/5 to vote. The winner will receive a package of ribbons and notions from me plus a free tutorial of her choice. Good luck to all entrants! I love all of the ways everyone came up with a bow to go with the theme.

From Rebecca, below:

From Melina, below:

From Leslie S., below:

From Lesley P., below:

From Kimberley, below:

From Heather, below:

From Laura, below:

Friday, March 25, 2011

A birthday present from me!

Wow, what a fun birthday you all gave me! It was a lot of fun doing this little giveaway on my birthday -- I truly enjoyed "playing" the question game with you all on Facebook!

I asked 7 questions throughout the course of the day, resulting in 8 women who were entered into the drawing for some free ribbons and notions from me.

The winner is Renee Cromer Bryant, who won the 5th question of the day!

Renee, congratulations! You can e-mail me your address to deanna [at] and I'll send your package early next week.

I hope everyone enjoyed playing along, and thanks so much for participating!!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Addicted to Blueberries

Since I'm a work-from-home Mom, it seems like I wouldn't be as tethered to a device as I am my Blackberry. It's not like I've got the company vice president messaging me to get out that important report anymore, or I expect some big emergencies with my kids that require my attention. After all, I'm usually home, near the phone, ready to roll out the door at a moment's notice. And as a hair bow designer and pattern/instruction/tutorial writer, I can't say that I expect big business emergencies that can't wait 10 minutes until I can get to my computer.

But, my design and sewing "studio" is in the finished portion of my basement. I use "studio" loosely, because it shares space with 1. a child-sized kitchen; 2. a bookshelf full of toys and books that have been semi-forgotten; 3. a treadmill; 4. an exercise bike, and 5. a TV from early 1994 that died in December and we haven't replaced yet, though would like to.
My laptop is usually in the dining room, because I don't have a table to set it on in my studio. Hoping to change that soon, but that's life in a work-from-home household with kids. So I used to run up and down the stairs to check my computer, to find out if I had sales that needed attention. It took away from my work, and became a major pain. So I got the Blackberry to be alerted with a little "ring" every time I get an e-mail. No more using the stairs for exercise (that's what the treadmill and bike are for, after all)!
But it's become my constant companion. My youngest daughter calls it my "Blueberry," and I've not corrected her because that sounds so dang cute! If I leave the room and it rings, she yells, "Mom, there's something on your Blueberry!" I feel lost if I've placed it somewhere and can't find it. And yes, it even has its place on the nightstand, I'm somewhat embarrassed to admit.
Today I had to have an MRI to find out what's causing my leg pain/numbness that started two weeks ago. As I prepared to leave for the test, it dawned on me that I would be without my trusty friend for more than 30 minutes! Tucked away in the locker at the medical center, the Blueberry would certainly be missed!
I ultimately didn't think about it during the test (which was loud and didn't give me the opportunity to think about much), but I did pull it out of my purse immediately upon opening the locker.
Sigh. I've never thought of myself as a gadget gal, but I guess I've succumbed. The Blueberry is here to stay. At least until my agreement expires, and I can get an Apple. I'm sure the latest iPhone can become a trusty friend someday, too.

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Monday, March 21, 2011

Hair bow design challenge - After the Rain

Happy Spring! This is my favorite season, and I thought it would be a fun time to launch Birdsong's first Design Challenge!

The theme for this first challenge is "After the Rain." You may make a boutique bow or bow set, a headband, a bowband, a funky loopy bow -- basically, anything out of ribbon -- following this theme. What comes after the rain? Sun? Flowers? New life? Blue skies? Use your imagination!

E-mail your best photograph of your finished product (either on a model or not) to me at deanna [at] by 3 a.m. Pacific time (midnight Eastern) on Tuesday, March 29 (so, basically before you go to bed next Monday night). Please keep your photos around 600 pixels wide, so that they're neither too big nor too small. No more than one entry/photo per contestant, please. I'll post the photos and a poll, and anyone can vote for the winner! If you're on Flickr, feel free to post a photo to the Birdsong Flickr Photo Group as well, for all to see!

The prize: A selection of new ribbons and notions, valued around $15, plus a free tutorial of your choice from Birdsong Bows and Patterns.

Good luck, and most of all, have fun. I can't wait to see what all of you fantastic bow designers will create by next week!

Photos by A Hope and A Wish Photography and Peekaboo Photos

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Japan relief sale - Single hair bow instructions

In 1999 I visited the beautiful country of Japan, touring many of the large cities but spending about a week in the city of Shiojiri, which is the sister city to my hometown here in Indiana. The country's beauty is breathtaking, and the people of Japan are kind and generous. I left with memories I will cherish forever.
To help those in northern Japan, I'm offering a Japan Relief sale today. All tutorials in my "Single Hair Bow PDFs category" are 10% off until midnight Pacific time, and all proceeds from those sales will be donated to the American Red Cross. The Red Cross will be channeling money to the Japanese relief effort.
Thank you so much for allowing me to give to this important effort, and continue to keep Japan (and New Zealand, and Haiti) in your thoughts and prayers.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Spring has sprung and I can't run

Aren't these just the prettiest running shoes ever? I bought them on March 4 because my feet were bothering me in my old pair, and I was training for a half-marathon. I wore them outside on March 6 in a glorious, 7-mile run. I had never run that far before, and was tickled to death.
But I developed a deep cough by the next day, and chose not to run. On March 8, one cough wrenched my back, pinched my sciatic nerve, and I knew my running training for the May half-marathon was over.
The pinched nerve sent shooting pain down my right leg. I couldn't walk. I could barely breathe. My 10-year-old had to help me put my pants on. I spent a day nearly immobile, and while I can walk now, I still have a slight limp, and the back of my leg and part of my foot are numb. My calf muscle is weak. I can bike (my quadriceps are not affected), but I can't walk fast or run.
To say I'm disappointed is an understatement! Sure, there will be other half-marathons to run, and I have no doubt that I will heal in time. But, for goodness sakes, I ran in January! In the snow! With spikes on my shoes so I wouldn't fall on the ice! All of this so that I could run strong and free in the spring, the glorious spring, with its milder temperatures and the songs of birds singing overhead. Darn it.
But, I guess I can still enjoy spring. Yesterday was the first day where it was nice enough for my younger daughter to push her baby dolls outside in a stroller. We saw the first spring flowers in our yard. Life is good. I will run again -- soon. I hope the Luck of the Irish is with me, and with you.


Monday, March 14, 2011

Free Hair Bow Instructions: How to make a bottlecap charm

Curious about a quick, easy way to add bottle cap charms to your bows, or want to make a cute charm necklace? This is a no-mess, no-fuss method of creating caps, and my favorite method!

* 1-inch circles for bottlecap images (click here for places to purchase)
* Flattened bottlecaps, without holes and jump rings for bows, and with holes/jump rings for jewelry (click here for places to purchase)
* Epoxy resin dots (click here for places to purchase)
* Scissors or a 1-inch hole punch (not shown)
* Gem-Tac or another permanent glue

Carefully cut out your image, shown below using scissors, or use a 1-inch hole punch.

Apply a thin layer of your glue with a Q-tip (or your finger, but that gets too messy for me!)

Carefully place your image into the bottlecap, making sure that it's aligned with the hole on top of the cap (if you're making a necklace).

Place a quarter on top of the image and let it dry overnight (below).

Once the glue is dry, peel the epoxy resin dot off its backing, and carefully place it on the image. (You can also perform this step first, by adding it to the image before gluing the image to the cap.) Press firmly to eliminate any air bubbles.

That's all there is to it! To add the bottlecap to your bow, you can apply hot glue or Gem-Tac to the back of the cap and place it where you want. I have used hot glue with success (it's quicker since you don't have to wait for the glue to dry).
Enjoy your creation!

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Monday, March 7, 2011

Yes, I do the housework, too

I like working from home - most of the time. I think it's a dream for a lot of people, especially mothers, because we really run ourselves ragged when we try to "do it all." I tried - and while I can't say I failed, I wasn't a great mom, wife, or employee when I was trying to do it all. Some women are great at it. I was not. I was chronically sick (and there were no sick days, even for salaried employees like me), a bit disorganized, stressed, and anxious -- usually about the next phone call I'd receive from the babysitter or school.
So I made the bold (and scary, and possibly dumb) decision to quit. Bam. Right in the middle of a recession. I walked in on a Monday, sat at my desk where I'd sat many times, and wrote out my resignation notice. Just like that. Probably the only non-calculated "big" thing I've done since becoming an adult.
And so I wouldn't further disappoint my husband, I vowed to work hard for myself. I stick to a schedule, and find that while I don't feel like I'm working "full time," I probably actually do work 40 hours a week. But for most people on a regular work schedule, it's a foreign concept.
"You do what? Bows?" they ask with some disbelief. I don't live in an area where most girls wear bows. I often hear, "I didn't know girls wore those any more!" But they move on, probably feeling sorry for me, that crazy bow lady, trying to sell something no one wants to wear. :) I'm sure they assume I have waaay too much free time on my hands.
Indeed, one thing I love about working for myself is that I can take time occasionally to do something else. Like last week - I would have had the free tutorial on printing your own ribbon done a day earlier, but my daughter absolutely NEEDED me to make her a Dr. Seuss skirt for preschool the next day. She had already told her teacher all about it. I had forgotten all about it. So I abandoned my mission, put on my "mom" hat, and made a skirt. The boss didn't complain.
One thing I don't love about working from home is that I never really *leave.* All the noises in the house start to bother me after awhile, especially if I have work to do over the weekends when everyone is home. So on Saturday I decided to take my computer to the library and do some work on my Birdsong Bows and Patterns website, rather than sit at home and work. I put on actual clothes (not sweats, but actual clothes I would want to be seen in -- yeah, I also miss dressing up!!) and went out with my laptop.
At the library I chose to take a seat across from an older gentleman, probably around 80. He wanted to know if I was doing my homework. No, I told him, I was just doing "work" work. He accepted that, and went on with reading his newspapers, talking to his friend occasionally, and giving out some free legal advice (he's apparently a retired estate attorney).
When I got up to leave, he asked me where I worked, and I explained that I worked for myself. I showed him my Etsy store and website and he appeared a little baffled, but accepted it. I told him I came to the library to work, because sometimes it gets too noisy at home on weekends.
But he had something else on his mind, rather than "work" work.
"Do you get your housework done, too?" he asked.
I was taken aback, but laughed, and simply said, "Yeah, I get it done, most of the time."
After the fact, I thought of several wittier comments I could have made. I shared the story with my husband when I got home.
"You should have told him, no, my husband does all the housework," he said. "You would have really shocked him."
Shocking, indeed. There's probably a reason I didn't come up with THAT witty remark. :)


Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Free Hair Bow Instructions: How to "print" your own ribbon

Have you wanted to create your own made-to-match ribbon -- or have you seen it from other designers -- and just don't know how to do it? This quick, simple process allows you to print your own designs on ribbon!
If you've got graphic design skills, you can design your own graphics in strips to be applied to ribbon. If, like me, you're a little lacking in that category, there are several graphic artists who sell sheets of ribbon graphics in PDF format that you can print from you own inkjet printer. One of my favorites is Carol, of TicTacTogs -- her designs are amazing and she's already "reversed" the patterns for you, so you can apply them directly to the ribbon.
Supplies needed:
Inkjet transfer paper, seen below. I picked this up at my local big-box retailer, but it's also available at all craft stores. Purchase the lightweight kind for use on T-shirts. If you print on dark ribbon (which is unusual) you'll need to buy the dark-colored transfer paper. But I usually print on light-color ribbon, so I have this:

You'll also need:
A standard inkjet printer
A sheet of ribbon graphics
An iron
A flat, hard surface and possibly a thin, flat hand towel or pillowcase to protect it - nothing fluffy!
Ribbon (usually 7/8-inch ribbon)
Scissors for both paper and your ribbon (I use separate scissors for my ribbon to keep the blades sharp!)

Create a graphics page or buy a page of ribbon designs from a graphic designer. Here are the selections from TicTacTogs (wow, I just saw the sock monkey print; how deadly cute is that??)
Following the directions in the ribbon transfer package, print your sheet on an inkjet printer.

Using your paper scissors, cut the strips apart. My 10-year-old graciously modeled her hands for this tutorial.

Following the directions in the package (which involves removing water from your iron), iron your strips, print side down, onto your ribbon. Don't use an ironing board; use a flat surface and press firmly with a hot iron. You can put a thin cotton hand towel or pillowcase down to protect your surface.

Peel off the paper back, and voilå, you have your own printed ribbon! In this example, it looks like I could have pressed the image a little longer, but my daughter was getting impatient and she was the diva model, after all (grin). When you need to create longer ribbon, make sure you carefully line up your image strips so they match the pattern. Let your ribbon "set" for a day, but after that, it's washable.

Enjoy making your own printed ribbon! Use this for hair bows, key fobs, tags (you can print tags with your child's name and sew the ribbon into their clothing for school), and any other embellishment that requires ribbon!

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