Projects to Try in Slow Times

Things to Try In Between Busy Seasons

When the frantic days of Christmas are behind us, it’s time to think about learning new things and creating some “point of purchase” items for the shop. Nothing beats show not tell to drum up some business with other business folks on your client list as well as customers looking for a unique gift idea.

 Embroidered Toilet Paper

The how-tos of toilet paper are simple. Spend some of your February days stitching some to put on the shelf in your shop for a great impulse purchase. I have seen rows of rolls with different dog designs as well as cute quotes.

Start with high quality toilet paper. Single ply toilet paper works well. Use a soft cutaway backing or polymesh. Organza will also provide a stable surface. Hoop the second or third square from the end with the backing—use two pieces if the design is stitch intensive. Place the toilet paper square on top of the cutaway and hoop carefully, catching the edge of the paper. Don’t over tighten the hoop.

You can hoop just one square. Use a glue stick to hold the paper to the backing. I have had good success spraying some adhesive on a scrap of backing and then using an artist’s brush to apply some to the toilet paper square. Don’t saturate the paper or it will show through and ruing the surface. Topping may help stabilize the paper if you are stitching lettering. Select designs with a lighter density and use only light tacking underlay, if any. Sew at 400 spm.

Remove the tissue from the hoop and cut the backing as close to the edge of the design as possible or leave it as large as the toilet tissue sheet. Re-roll the toilet paper. Wrap with netting and tie with a ribbon. This makes a great gag gift, housewarming gift.  Pitch the idea to your local realtor or a contractor to leave in the bathroom of the new home with the stitched home seller’s or builder’s logo proudly displayed. Their logo on the gift makes it a great marketing tool. Consider using your business labels as a sticker to hold the wrapping or punch a hole in a business card and attach it to the decorative ribbon with a string.

If you are ambitious you can decorate the first four sheets so the entire roll appears embroidered. Some embroiderers remove the first four squares for embroidery and then just wrap them around the roll when completed.

You can embroider a roll of paper towels the same way or paper napkins for a wedding or party. If there are indentations on the paper after removing from the hoop, press with a barely warm iron.  Use a pressing cloth for extra insurance against scorching.

 Embroidered Soap

 How about some embroidered soap to match those hand towels?  A design or a classy monogram  or even a corporate logo can turn a simple bar of soap into a unique gift and spice up a gift basket!

Choose a design smaller than the soap bar. Carefully shave away any brand name carved into the soap. Hoop several layers of water soluble topping. You can add a layer or two of netting for extra stability. Lettering and less solid designs can be stitched using a heavy topping without compromising the design. Slow the machine down and use a sharp 75/11 needle.

Cut out the design leaving a border the average width of a seam (3/8” to 5/8”). Wet the soap and place the sewn design on the top. Press the edge gently to help dissolve the topping and secure the design to the soap. Then mist with a spray of water to finish. Let it dry and the dissolved topping and the soap hardening over the netting should hold the design on the soap. You can dip the embroidered area in melted wax (one of those wax baths for hands works well) so that the soap can be used without the design coming loose.  Most of the soap I have given as gifts has never been opened—only used for decoration.  Package the soap in plastic wrap and fasten with your business sticker or that of the business who is giving it away. You can also wrap it in a square of netting and tie with a ribbon for a beautiful presentation.

 Embroidered Candles

 Embroidery on a candle? Why not?

Start off by choosing a design that will complement the size of the candle. Hoop water soluble topping to use as a backing—two layers work best. You can add a layer of netting (matching the color of the candle if possible) between the clear backings.

Match your needle size to your thread. Stitch your design on the hooped sandwich of backing and netting. Trim close to the design and adhere it to the candle with clear drying craft glue.

Center the design on thick candles. Place smaller designs on thin, tapering candles about 4 inches from the bottom of the candle. Placing the design low will always long burning time as you should extinguish the flame before it burns down to the embroidery.

What Now?

Add the soap and candles to a gift basket that includes towels embroidered with the same design or monogrammed with a sleek initial. This makes a wonderful thank-you gift for banks, realtors, and contractors and acts as a deductible marketing expense if it includes their business logo and car.

 Set a basket up by the cash register with a tickler to remind about gift giving —hearts for Valentine’s, bunnies and chicks for Easter and lots of flowers for Mother’s Day. Adding more dollars to the receipt will enhance the bottom line and make you glad you took some time for fun.