Friday, March 18, 2011

And the winner is...

The winner of the $40 gift certificate is Donnelle of Sew Me Mine.  Congratulations! 

And just a reminder, the coupon code "CALIFORNIABOUND" is good through Saturday night at 10 pm MST.  After that I will be in "vacation mode" until further notice.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Giveaway New Way to Enter and New Shop Items

I just added a new way to enter my 100+ Followers giveaway -- like me on Facebook! Just go over to the link on the sidebar and click "like"  Okay, the "Like Box" isn't working for some reason... you can click here to visit my Facebook page and click "like" there.  (Then be sure to go to the giveaway post and leave a comment telling me that you did it.)

Plus, there are now more items to choose from if you win the giveaway!

I've added new fabrics to my Textiles, Naturally! shop... (I've added more than what is pictured here)

Wool Suiting
100% Silk Dupioni
Home Decor Fabric
and new jewelry and hair accessories in my Cat on a Limb Accessoriz shop... (I've added more than what is pictured here)

Go ahead and take a look around then come back and enter the giveaway if you haven't already!  (You have until Thursday night)

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Out on a Limb No. 1 -- Brand New Linky Party!

Since a certain linky company who shall remain nameless went from a free service to paid I've noticed some blogs have stopped having linky parties.  [I've also noticed a lot of blogs I follow suddenly dropped off the face of the earth and have not posted since autumn... Makes me worry about them, I hope they're okay!]  I decided now might be a good time to start a new linky party.

BUT, there's a catch.  Since my "brand name" is Cat on a Limb you can only link up projects or creations where you went "out on a limb" in some way.  Either a technique you've never tried before, or a tried and true technique applied to a new object, or something 100% new to you.  I'd love to see how you all stretch your creativity (please keep it family friendly).

Please grab the button and put it anywhere on your blog (your post, sidebar or party page).

Out on a Limb Tuesdays with Cat on a Limb


I will leave the linky open until Saturday night, then I will do a feature post on Monday.

Monday, March 14, 2011

My 100+ Followers Giveaway and Some Big News

First you get the big news.

We're moving!  Soon.  I get to move back home to the San Francisco Bay Area in California!  I am so excited (and a little stressed) mostly because it will bring us back close to family (both of our mothers, my dad, brothers and sisters, nieces and nephews, aunts and uncles).  Family makes all the difference when raising small children!  Plus I get to be back in the state I love and which I will forever call my home.  I am a California girl through and through!

We will be moving on March 23rd.  Yes, 9 days from now.  Yikes!  And to make matters even more complicated, we will not be able to finalize jobs and living arrangements until after we get out there.  So, most of my sewing/crafting supplies (along with most of our other belongings) will probably be in storage for a while.  What will I do??  [But I will be doing the toddler shrug tutorial before we move]

So, before everything gets packed away into storage for who knows how long, I will be doing a giveaway in honor of bypassing 100 followers.  I am so excited and honored that so many wonderfully creative people have chosen to follow my blog (and not to mention the subscribers in readers as well!).  I want to say "thank you" and so I'm offering a giveaway for a...

$40 gift certificate to any/all of my Etsy shops

(you can mix and match products from my shops)

And if you don't want to wait for the giveaway to end I will be offering a 15% discount to everyone.  Just enter code CALIFORNIABOUND at checkout.  I will be putting my shops on "vacation mode" on Saturday night, then will reopen once we get settled. 

To enter (leave a comment for each one you do): 

1.  Become a follower/subscriber of my blog (or if you are already let me know)
2.  Like me on Facebook (see the sidebar)
3.  Post on Facebook about the giveaway and link here
4.  Tweet about the giveaway on Twitter with link here
5.  Post on your blog about the giveaway and link back

This giveaway will remain open until Thursday night, March 17th at 11:59 pm MST.  The winner will be announced Friday morning. 

Good luck!

Oh, by the way, I'll be starting a linky party on Tuesday.  Be sure to come by and link up!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Tips for Small Home Business Taxes


Aka "Don't do what I did" (mostly)

With so many women starting their own home businesses these days, it's a good idea (and best, legally speaking) to include the business in our income taxes.  It can seem daunting, overwhelming and rather confusing at first, but if you keep things organized and maintain monthly it will be a whole lot easier. 

Yesterday I spent nearly the entire day working on taxes.  This was after another full day or two of organizing, going over Paypal reports, receipts, categorizing and marking (followed by procrastinating for about a month), then more organizing, double-checking and adding.  It would have been SO much easier had I just kept everything organized from the start of the year and tallied things up after each month.  What did I do instead?  I just tossed everything into a file box and waited until the end of the year to sort through everything.  BAD idea!  It was hard on me and hard on my kids -- me trying to focus, organize and think for long periods of time with antsy, cabin-fevered toddlers running around [literally] bouncing off the walls.

I'm sure many of you are more organized than I was with these things, but I hope this advice will be able to help someone.  If not, at least it will help me from now on!


So, without further ado, here are my tips to lessen stress with business taxes...

1.   Have a separate bank account and/or credit card for your business.  Keep business transactions out of your personal accounts.  It will make it so much easier when trying to keep track of everything... and that way you won't have 4 different accounts to look through (for the entire year) picking each business transaction out of 35 million personal transactions.  Just saying.

2.  Save every single receiptEspecially when you use cash and the transaction won't show up on any other account statement.  But even if it will show up on a statement be sure to keep the receipt so you know if it was actually a business or personal transaction (or if you slipped in a candy bar when you were purchasing shipping supplies... and if you did you can recalculate the actual business expense, with tax, without the candy bar). 

3.  Keep track of the price of inventory and materials for products.  You will need this for two reasons: one - inventory, two - "cost of goods sold".  It's much better than sitting there wondering "how much did I pay for this again?"

4.  Keep business materials and craft supplies separate from personal.  If you take something for personal use, write it down along with how much it cost.  You can probably let a little glue here and there slide, but if you bought some packages of beads for your shop and want to use one to make a necklace for yourself, write it down. 

5.  Take a look at the tax form 1040 Schedule C: Profit or Loss from a Business.  What are they going to want to know?  What categories do you need to put things in?  Decide where to put things ahead of time so you don't end up spending 20 minutes each year trying to figure out where to put postage costs.

6.  Set up a file box with a folder for each month of the year, or each category from the tax form (I use one for each month since I have the monthly summaries from Paypal to print out).  Drop in your receipts as they come. 

7.  Complete a summary and totals every month.  Go through all your receipts and the summaries for Paypal or whichever merchant account you may have.  Categorize all your expenses (into those categories from the tax form) and sales, returns and interest/dividends.  Total everything for each month.  That way you will be able to just go through and add the totals for a category from each month and get the grand total for the year in just a few minutes. 

8.  Don't forget business use of your home.  If you have a home office, work space, studio, or a corner of a room where you work on your business, measure the square footage.  Using form 8829: Expenses for Business Use of Your Home you figure the percentage of the total area of the home and you can write off that percentage of your taxes, mortgage interest/rent, utilities, insurance, repairs, etc. 

9.  When you're getting down and dirty with numbers, have a supply of calculators.  One for each of your children plus one for yourself.  That way you won't have to ask your 2 year-old to give the calculator back every 2 minutes.

And finally...

10.  Go to the IRS website to find and file your taxes with a free e-file company.  Most people can e-file and it saves a lot of time and effort.  You do have to have all the information, forms and totals, but the company does all the calculations and determining if you qualify for something.  Plus if you're going to get a refund it will arrive a lot sooner!  I will get my [fat] refund deposited into my savings account in one to two weeks.  This is the one time of year I'm happy I'm poor with two kids!  (When I'm rich I will be more than happy to pay higher taxes... but until then, yay for tax season!)

And I should also mention, after all this you need to congratulate yourself on being a savvy business woman and give yourself a big reward... say, a week long vacation?  Tee hee, I wish!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Toddler Maxi Dress and Shrug - Part 2 of 4 - Sewing the Dress

So, you've created the pattern for the Maxi Dress , now it's time to cut out the pieces and sew it together!

Before you cut anything be sure to pre-wash your fabric using the same method you will use to wash the dress.  That way if it shrinks a lot you won't end up with a dress that's too small.  (Not that I've had that happen to me or anything... ...) Then press it nice and smooth. Lay it out, folded in half and cut your pattern pieces. If you have an obvious directional fabric (like there's an up and a down to the design), make sure all your pattern pieces are laid out in the same direction and in the correct way to make the design appear upright.


We'll start by sewing the bodice. With right sides together sew the back pieces on to either side of the front pieces. You will end up with two sets (either two of the main fabric, or one of the main fabric and one of lining fabric if you chose to use it).


Press the seams flat. (One of the best pieces of advice I have (other than pre-washing) is pressing each seam. It makes it all go together easier and look much nicer.


Do a quick test fit on your child and mark the placement for the shoulder straps. You could also do this for the back, but I'm leaving mine out so I can easily lengthen them later.


Cut your shoulder straps (cut them to length if you know it, otherwise cut them longer than you will need them). It's just a 2" wide strip of fabric. Press in half.


Open it and press each raw edge to the center.


Then fold over and press again.


Stitch close to the edge.


You can also stitch the other side to give it an even look.


Pin the straps at the places marked.


With right sides together place the second bodice piece on top and pin together.


Stitch the sides and top edges together, leaving 1/2" unsewn at the back bottom edges.


Clip corners and curves.


Turn and press.


Press under 1/2" on the bottom edge of the inside layer of the bodice (this would be the lining fabric if you used it).


There's the bodice! Now for the skirt... Get the bottom tier pieces, right sides together, and sew the side seams together so it's one big circle.


Press the seams flat. Along the bottom edge press under 1/2", then 1/2" again.


Stitch to create a finished hem.


With right sides together sew the back top tier pieces to either side of the front top tier. Press.


On both of the sides of the back top tier that were not sewn together, press 1/2" over, then press 1/2" over again to hide the raw edge.


Unfold once, place right sides together and sew along the fold line, leaving 1/3 to 1/2 unsewn.


Refold, press, and sew the folded edges down around the open portion of the seam.


Run a gathering stitch along the top edge of each tier of the skirt. (A long length straight stitch, usually the longest your machine can sew, leaving long tails you can pull). For the top tier start the stitch after the finished edge and end before the finished edge on the other side.


For the bottom tier I ran two separate gathering stitches, one for the front and one for the back.


Pin the bottom tier on to the bottom edge of top tier, with right sides together. Pin side seams together and match the centers of the pieces.


Work from one end to the center, then the other end to the center. Pull the top thread to bunch up the fabric.


While holding the thread taught (be fairly gentle here so you don't break the thread!), pull the fabric towards the center.


Repeat until the gathered section is the same length as the flat section underneath. Even out the gathers and pin in place.


Repeat until the whole bottom tier is gathered and pinned. Sew in place, making sure to keep the gathers straight and even. Turn and press.


Proceed in the same way for the top tier onto the bodice. Match the finished edge in the back of the bodice to the finished edge in the back of the skirt.


Gather as before and sew in place, keeping the inside bodice layer free of the seam. When sewn, turn, press, and place inside bodice layer over the seam. Pin in place.


Slip stitch the layer in place.


Add your desired closures.


If you haven't already, do a test fit to determine the length of shoulder straps needed. Pin and sew in place by hand, catching only the inside layer of the bodice so the stitching does not show on the back. (I left mine extra long so I could extend them as needed.)


Embellish as desired and you have the finished dress!





Be sure to come back for the shrug tutorial!

I'll be linking up to all the fabulous parties on my "Blog Link Parties" tab including Sew Woodsy
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