… is not to start large December post series until I already have all the posts in the queue. Whew.
Things heated up in the shop in December, a lot. I had some great plans to not knock myself out restocking, but Etsy now allows non-premium accounts to set “allow restock requests” and, well, if people are asking for things I felt obligated to fulfill them. Even though it’s not the same as “pre-order” and only about half of restocks actually got bought by the person who requested them.
Post-Christmas didn’t slow down much, so obviously there’s a lot of “I got a Christmas bonus/an Etsy gift card” or just “I didn’t get what I wanted so I’ll just buy it myself” going on. The last Silver Apricot dragon went, with a camera dangle (that did not stay around its neck for shipping, no matter how much that amused me). Those are from a Designs By Little Bee design I’ve been meaning to use, but I used lightweight vinyl and some captured confetti in lieu of the applique.
The Greater Sea Dragon went on the last day of the year, which definitely improved the annual total and also made me feel a little better about the art-doll dragons, which hadn’t been moving for quite awhile. That order came in via advertisement, on what would have been the last day of my advertising experiment. I guess it was a success.
For 2020, my plan was to taper off the plushie-making (channeling that into selling the designs for other folks to make) and just stick with the bigger-ticket dragons – I’ve been a little concerned about whether those were really viable, but I think the real problem is just getting them in front of an audience. We’ll see.
Blog-wise, I still plan to get out the promised supplements to the interchangeable-flap bags even if not in the form of an Advent calendar. A mini-backpack is next, because I want one for myself.
I decided to go ahead and list all four of the finished art-doll dragons, and put them on sale for “Smaugust.” (Hey, don’t look at me, I don’t invent these things.) It’s almost two months since any have sold, and I’m afraid the fancier ones are just too pricey. This is a shame because they’re really underpriced based on the amount of labor (and RSI damage) that goes into them, but maybe the market just isn’t there.
Of course, now isn’t the time to decide that… Spoonflower just had a sale on fat quarters and I sprang for a pair of extremely festive crowntail dragons, which are nearly as ornate as the greater sea dragon. So I’ll finish the purple one I’m working on and consider taking out some Etsy ads, and if that doesn’t work I’ll reluctantly move on to something different.
I’ve had a pile of receipts accumulating on my desk, and I don’t really have the excuse of needing to restock anything urgently. It was time to get everything entered into my spreadsheets and GnuCash.
GnuCash is not great for inventory control, so I do some stuff in a pretty basic spreadsheet. It’s a little bit duplicated, and someday I’ll write a little utility to keep everything synchronized, but so far neither my sales nor purchases are too overwhelming.
The business is going pretty well, though I have to admit I didn’t really expect to be mostly a beanie dragon factory, and especially not an almost-exclusively-Pernese dragon factory. I find myself wondering what other fandoms are underserved.
I passed a milestone on Etsy, and my husband asked how that compared to my costs, and I blithely said “oh, I haven’t checked that lately…” So now I have, and the answer is: sales minus costs plus currently-listed items all balances out. Which is not a particularly GAAP way of measuring things, but I think it’s a good sign.
It’s about time to give the business its own bank account and credit card and so forth, which will help in keeping things separate… and in keeping me from getting too carried away with new dragon colors.
I took a break from sewing and set up a new server at https://shop.silverseams.com/. It’s mostly so I can post my fabric stash without cluttering the Etsy shop, but until I get the fabrics out and take some measurements and pictures, it’s just occupied with a couple of things that have expired unsold from Etsy, a snap tab, and a temporary listing for the new plush dragon. (Those will get moved to Etsy when I finish the other colors, but if they sell out of the local shop that’s fine.)
As promised, I tried out a hybrid between the beanie dragons and the art dolls. It’s pretty hard to optimize these for mass production; the beanies I can at least group heads to minimize thread change overhead. I can fit two wing pieces at the same time for this one but that’s it. I’ll try assembly-lining them and see how efficient I can get.
After battling with a longhorn version (like the Stargazer) and getting the minky bound up in one horn such that I can neither turn nor un-turn it (the perils of stretchy fabric), I decided to do a Pernese “headknobs” version.
“Y’know,” N’ton began, frowning slightly as he folded his arms across his damp-spattered tunic, “Ruth isn’t really white.” Jaxom stared incredulously at his dragon. “He’s not?” “No. See how his hide has shadows of brown and gold, and ripples of blue or green on the near flank.”
Anne McCaffrey, The White Dragon
I tried out a couple of variegated metallic threads for the wing stitching. I should do that on some beanies too.
I’m not adding any new listings, but I’m adding a half-dozen new colors for a total of fifteen. Or seventeen, if you count the original “bronze” and blues, which I could always make again (though that bronze is pretty close to the new brown, and is in less-fluffy and now discontinued JoAnn minky).
Now that Etsy allows specific pictures to be matched with variations, I’m going to put the four new hatchling colors in with the mint-green ones (the white dragon gets to keep his own listing), and there’s a new “mocha” brown and new “mallard” green in the 6″ listings.
Aside from finishing up the rest of these batches, that pretty much catches me up for awhile on beanie dragons, and the art dragons sell more slowly so those *should* be caught up for a little while. I’m going to make a few hybrid dragons and see if I can’t streamline the process of making minky standing dragons enough to make them profitable. I’m thinking something like this test dragon I made, but with wings like the beanies.
I had heard that the greenhead flies were bad this year, but I didn’t really grasp just how bad until I drove out to the birdwatching point on Brigantine Island and thought I must have disturbed a honeybee hive. The car was swarmed when I pulled into the parking area… and then I realized they weren’t bees, they were greenheads. And that was with a brisk onshore breeze that should have blown the bulk of them further inland (Brig is a barrier island, so the marshes were downwind of us).
I was looking for the right thread to finish a few dragons, alternate greens and bronzes, when I realized one of the ones I’d picked up had my childhood initials on it. Hmm, what would I have made that was… oh.
In junior high home ec, we made two projects. Despite having taken a bunch of Stretch’n’Sew classes with my mother and regularly sewing in polyester knits (it was the 70’s, okay?) the teacher required us to all sew in non-stretch fabrics, so I made a skirt that I had outgrown by the time it was finished.
The second project we had more freedom on, and I sewed a pillow. Couldn’t just be round or square, oh no. Then as now, I had to make something *slightly* beyond my abilities, so I decided to sew a doughnut-shaped pillow. Out of avocado-green shag faux fur (it was the 70’s, okay?).
I learned two things out of that: one, you can’t machine-sew the inside of a doughnut if you expect to be able to turn it (at least, not without some weird tricks I didn’t know then). Two, there is not enough stretch in shag faux fur to sew it as a simple flat shape. Stuffing it will pull the outer seam in (fine) and the inner seam “out” (not fine), so the taut seam in the middle made for a less-comfortable pillow than I had imagined.
In other news, I’ve been working on more colors of hatchlings, ordered more gold minky and yet another green (not avocado; it is not the 70’s) to try out.
If you’ve seen the sidebar on the site you’ll have already seen the Etsy listing for the gold/floral dragon get replaced by the Etsy listing for the gold/sparkle dragon. This one is similar, but has the next iteration of the “longhorn” dragon head, glass-bead eyes, and a fabric specifically picked to go with the velvet instead of something pulled somewhat randomly from my stash.
I’ve also been restocking the beanie dragons on occasion, as I fine-tune the pattern and streamline the process.
I had said I wasn’t going to do any more of the 3-inch dragons, but then someone wanted one for an art swap and, well, you can fit six heads on a 4×4 hoop. I had complained that turning them was too much of a battle but I broke down and bought another set of turning tubes 📦 and they’re actually not bad, and I can gang six bodies in the 5×7 hoop and three wing sets, which almost makes them worth my time. I might run the other colors that way because they’re just ridiculously tiny.
Today I plan to wrap up and list the next art-doll dragon: a sea dragon. I think this is one I can finally pull off the 8mm cabochon eyes in (the smallest GlassEyesOnline makes).
I’m not sure how I feel about replacing just the hind legs with flippers, but it’s still Mermay right?