Friday, March 27, 2015

Teacher Appreciation Week

Teacher Appreciation Week is coming up... it is May 4-8 this year, with Teacher Appreciation Day on May 5.

I don't recall ever having a day... or an entire week.... to formally appreciate my teachers growing up. But trust me - I DID appreciate them, and I still do.  The teachers nowadays do not get paid nearly enough to put up with the helicopter parents, the nanny-state, the (non-teacher-background) legislators getting involved in their business, and countless other issues that they face every single day.

So they deserve a day... a week... and anything else that can be sent their direction!

Where does The Sapphire Key fit into all this? We've got some great teacher gifts for you to send with your little-one!  We've got goodies for every price range.  Here are a few of our selections for this year:

1.  Apron
You know the teachers in the lower grades are dealing with some grubby hands... how about an apron to protect their clothes from those grub-monsters?  (*We also have men's aprons!)

Retro-Style Full Apron, $37.50

Ever notice the cute jewelry your teacher wears? How do you think she totes it around during the summer?  Most likely a baggie... Save her. Give her something nicer - for HER - not for her classroom.

Jewelry Satchel, Small $12.50 / Medium $17.50

We also call these dream pillows.  Herbs are nestled inside to help facilitate sweet dreams while sleeping.  And trust me - your teacher could use some sweet dreams!

Aromatherapy Pillow, $10.00

Our eye pillows are filled with organic flax seed and French lavender. The weight provides light pressure on the eyes, which helps relieve headaches and stress when coupled with the lavender scent.

Eye Pillow, $12.50

Our sweet owls are filled with soft fiberfill, and just a hint of lavender to smell nice.  The perfect gift for the classroom... wise old owl, cute as a button, smelling nice and getting rid of the "kid funk" . . . . perfect!

Owl Stuffie, Small $10.00 / Large $15.00

We are always adding new patterns to our product lines, so keep checking back.  And if you need a special order - for color, pattern, whatever - just message us, we'll be happy to work with you to get the perfect gift!

Visit our shop on Etsy, The Sapphire Key!


Friday, January 23, 2015

Sewing Room - Before

About three years ago I converted one of our guest rooms into my sewing room.  I wanted something orange and pink.  I set it up the best way I could and have been using it as such ever since.

But lately, in whatever spare time I find in front of the TV, I've been watching HGTV... which is dangerous.  Very very dangerous.

Now I want a "new and improved" sewing room. Shhh.... don't tell my husband, he's not aware of it yet!  (Well, the cat will be out of the bag if he reads this!)

I'm not really sure what I want to do, but there has got to be a more efficient and aesthetically pleasing solution.

At any rate, here is my room as it is today (today: metaphorically speaking... it's actually rather cluttered with half-finished aprons, fabric to be put away, boxes from shipments.... but you get the gist... and do not mind the picture quality - these were taken with my iPhone):

View looking in
The room really is not that orange, I think it is my stellar lighting and photography skills. The papasan chair is crazy cozy and will oftentimes have the butt of my daughter or my husband in it! The footstool cube also serves as storage - but if memory serves me correctly it has a doll, a blanket, and a set of headphones in it currently as it has been commandeered by my kid.  The window pane was salvaged from an old house.  I glued cork to it and use it to pin notes, pictures, a calendar... whatever.

Sewing Corner...
I love my orange chair - it rolls, it spins, it's cushy!
I've got three main machines:  a Janome for the bulk of my sewing; a Brother serger; and a Brother embroidery (which doubles as a button-hole maker and bobbin winder).  This set-up is actually ideal... I do not want to change this area much.  With my rolly-swivelly chair I can swing around and get to all three machines with ease. ( well as to the ipod when a wholly inappropriate song comes on and the kid is in the room...)  See that clear case under the double sewing table?  That is an artist case which is the perfect size for rick-rack and binding tape. Highly recommend one.  As for thread storage on the wall, I keep the bobbin on the bottom of the peg and the thread on top of that.  That way each color stays together.  I also have the thread color number facing up so I can see quickly what the numbers are in case any need to be replaced on my (almost) daily trip to Joann's.  My main scissors hang there as well.

Sheet for a closet door.  I'm classy like that.
Another view of my sewing area.  The shelf in front holds my serger thread, a couple of baskets with lavender, flax seed, and silk brocade fabric (for eye pillow making).  The three-drawer containers hold buttons that I use for aprons, my tags, vecro, elastic, and something else that I cannot recall off of the top of my head!  The tall cabinet has a lot of my apron fabric (I like to use a heavier weight). It is wrapped on corrugated plastic sheets (much like in a fabric store).  I also have a basket of zippers in there.   

Cutting Table; Shipment Center
The rolling cart next to the tall cabinet has various stabilizers, ironing items, and extra shopping bags for craft shows.  The closet has a wire shelf with mostly shipping supplies (envelopes, scale, etc.).  I also store my finished aprons in the closet, as well as tables and display items for craft shows.  The cutting table is just a bathroom cabinet with a small 4' piece of countertop on it.  In the drawers I keep tissue paper and other shipping items.  I've got a key hook strip above the cutting table with clearly marked scissors... one for paper, one for material, one for threads - that way if the non-sewers in the house look for scissors, they know which ones to grab (although their use is highly frowned upon!).   

Fabric to the right... fabric in front...
fabric fabric everywhere!
The shelf right in front has chevron, college/nfl team prints, flannel, and duck cloth.

Storage and Inventory
This is where I keep a lot of my inventory (in the larger containers).  I also keep fabric scraps in the bottom center pink bins, and then a lot of my material on the right.  The photo boxes contain patterns, receipts, camera stuff, machine manuals and accessories.

So that's the space for now.  Oh - an area I forgot to photograph is behind the door - I keep my ironing board and iron back there.

I don't really know what I want, but it's not what I currently have.  So this "before" may remain a before for quite some time...


Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Preview of New Apron Designs

I've been working pretty hard at making some new aprons... not only in the style, but in the patterns/designs used.  Here's a sneak-peek at some of the new patterns we will be listing soon:

Some of the new aprons are full aprons, some have twirl skirts, some are tiered, and some are hostess... a little something for everyone!  

Don't forget - we are more than happy to do special orders... just message us!

~ Sam

Monday, January 5, 2015

My Struggle is Real

Yes, I have a problem.  A material problem.
Cathy sent this to me:

She knows me well.

~ Sam

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Holiday Host/Hostess Gifts

So you are going to a holiday bash.  Are you really going to show up without a host/hostess gift?  (That's a facetious question by the way.)

Take some wine.  Just not naked wine.  Dress that business up in one of our holiday wine bags.  We've got lots to choose from.  Sure, you could just hand over the bottle, sans outfit, but you might as well leave it in the paper bag with the receipt for as tacky as that is.  

Our wine bags are a much better choice.

Penguin Wine Bag

The bags are handmade and totally reusable.  So it's like you are giving two gifts in one. Wine, and a cool bag that they can reuse.  

Just don't give the wine bag by itself... if you do it just looks like a weird sock. 

Oh, what's that?  Your host/hostess doesn't drink?  That's cool.  Take them an aromatherapy pillow.  When they lay their noggins down to have vision of sugar plums dancing in their heads, the herbs in these pillows help them relax more and have more vivid sugar-plum dreams.  

Aromatherapy Dream Pillow - Lime Green Lattice

The pillows are too "new-age-y" you say?  Okay, we've STILL got you covered!  Get your hostess an apron (we even sell the oh-so-appropriate HOSTESS apron - how ya think it got it's name??!!).  
Table Talk Hostess Apron

We've even got aprons for the host!  Pair these hot little numbers up with a cookbook and you have just become their favorite guest on the invite list!

Reversible Grill Apron

We've also got owls, jewelry satchels, and lavender eye pillows!  If you are looking for something personalized or in a particular pattern, message us and we will do what we can to help!

Happy Holidays!


Friday, November 14, 2014

Support *TRUE* Small Business

The shopping season is now upon us (well, according to my down-the-street neighbor who has already put out Christmas decorations).  When you are out-and-about doing your thing, think about supporting small business.

Many small business owners run their shops out of their homes and sell their goodies at shopping parties, craft fairs, or online through venues like Etsy.  We do all three.  While re-evaluating inventory and preparing for shows, we like to scope out the competition.  We have noticed something quite prevalent and disturbing.


What is a "blank"?  A "blank" is something that a shop can embroider or print on, and then sell it as their own.  Now don't get me wrong - I've got no problem with blanks as long as you know you are buying a blank.  In fact I love to purchase items made on blanks because I can get them personalized exactly how I want them.

But here's the problem.... some of these shops are selling their "blank" items at a much higher cost than truly handmade items.

Take our wine bags for instance.  I make these in my home.  They have two layers of fabric - the outside print, and then the inside lining.  I gusset the bottom so they stand.  I string the ties through and add bells or whatever to them.  These are truly handmade.  (Well, except for the actually making the fabric, thread, and ties... but you get what I mean.) The Sapphire Key sells these for anywhere between $6 and $10.

Our aprons are the most time-consuming item.  As with all of our items (except the owls - Cathy makes those in her house!), these are made in my home.  I create the patterns, I pick the fabric and trim, cut it out, make the ruffle, pockets, put it all together, add buttons, whatever.  These sell between $29-$37.50.

Now I've seen other shops selling wine bags and aprons for MORE than what we charge. Let me tell you about these items.  They are "blanks" that were bought quite cheaply (just check out the workmanship for yourself), and then a screenprint image or an embroidery pattern is added by the shop.  Better yet, just do a quick internet search for "apron blank" and see if anything looks familiar to you....

Understand that using blanks is perfectly acceptable.  As I stated, I love buying items made on blanks because they can be personalized exactly how I want them. Also, some items - like glasses, rubber keychains, tshirts, etc. - are a little more difficult to be made by hand.  

My point is:  Just know what you are buying.  The "small business" might not be that small after all.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Rest / Relax / Rejuvenate with an Eye Pillow

"What the heck is an eye pillow?" you ask.... well, it's a pillow.  For your eyes.

It looks like this:

The scent of lavender helps to relieve headaches and stress (raise your hand if you are immune... yeah, thought so!) as well as serving to be a natural anti-depressant (I think everyone could use that once in awhile!). Just lay it over your eyes to block out light and provide a gentle weight on your face.  I sleep with my eye pillow every single night.  And for the times when I have a bad headache, I'll put it in the freezer, get it nice and cold, then lay it over my eyes.  Not only does it do wonders for tension headaches, it also helps to relieve allergy-induced headaches.  Another use: Eye pillows can be placed in the microwave for a warm muscle relaxer!  

Our eye pillows are made of satin, silk, or silk brocade (depending on what we have in stock), and are filled with organic flax seed and lavender buds.
Want one of your own?  You can order HERE.  Don't see the color you want?  Message me and I'll find it for you, or keep checking back... these sell very quickly so the inventory changes constantly!

Here are some of the reviews we've received on our eye pillows:

"This orange eye pillow is well made and smells terrific. It's just the right weight to apply a slight pressure on my eyes."   – Julie

"Love it... I use this for yoga. It is the perfect weight. Smells great and the fabric is soft and beautiful. Would totally order more from this shop."  
– Cheryl

"Very comfortable and smelled delightful!"   - Jill

"I bought that one before and I loved it! Took it everywhere with me until I left it behind at a hotel :) Amazing product!  I will be ordering eye pillows from you forever!"   - Claudia

And eye pillows are not just for girls... my husband also has one that he cannot sleep without either!  

~ Sam