Sunday, 30 August 2009

August Giveaway - part two!

Just squeezing into the end of August, it's time for my second giveaway this month.

As I've started listing lots of yummy new eco flowers over in my Etsy shop I thought it would be nice to give one away...

You can choose from EITHER a purple flower brooch with a blue plastic button (4 1/2 inches / 12cms across) ....
... OR a blue flower hair comb with a shell button (4 inches / 10 cm across)...
Want to be in with a chance to win?

Leave a comment on this post saying which is your favourite, the brooch or the comb, before midnight BST (British Summer Time) on Tuesday 1st September
and I'll pick a winner at random on Wednesday (2nd Sept).

I'm happy to ship internationally, so anyone can enter. Please make sure you leave a name or pseudonym (no anonymous comments please!) and be sure to come back on Wednesday to see if you got picked :)

Thursday, 27 August 2009

Ticking things off my To Do List

Today was all about those little jobs you put off for ages, pottering about doing this and that and feeling supremely efficient at the end of it.

Update my stock charts: tick!
Make up packs of buttons: tick!
Change the toner cartridge in our printer: tick!
Check my stock levels ready for ordering supplies next month: tick!
Tidy my packaging supplies: tick!
File this month's order sheets: tick!
Photograph my stash of finished eco flowers: tick!

Ah, what a nice feeling.

I'm especially pleased to have got all those flowers photographed - it turned into quite a mammoth photo session, with 320 pictures snapped. I'll be gradually getting the photos edited and the flowers listed over the next few weeks, so look out for lots of new floral yumminess in my Etsy shop.

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

How To: Pompom Headband

Today I was overcome by a sudden urge to make a pompom headband... and I had so much fun I thought you might like to make one too! (pompoms are very trendy, apparently)


 

Making pompoms is dead easy - there's a great tutorial HERE that explains it all very clearly if you need a refresher.

 

I used a lovely chunky yarn made up of a mix of colours for a soft, mottled look to my pompom, and used a roll of sellotape as the template for my card circles (making my pompom quite large). You can of course use any colour yarn you like, and make your pompoms as large or small as you fancy (a selection of different sizes/colours would look pretty fab together).

Make sure not to trim the strands used for tying the pompom together - you'll need these to help you attach
the pompom to the headband later.

  

Using six long strands of matching yarn and plaiting with two strands at a time, make a thick plait long enough to tie around your head easily. Knot the plait tightly at each end and trim any excess yarn.


Using the two strands hanging from your pompom, tie it onto the headband and try it on in front of a mirror so you can work out where you'd like the pompom to sit. When you've decided, use the pompom strands and a darning needle to sew the pompom securely in place, knotting any loose ends and trimming them neatly.

 

 

Et voila, a fun pompom headband!

Sew your pompom onto a smaller plaited band to make an awesome ponytail bobble:

 

Or maybe wear your pompom as a necklace?


 

Please feel free to borrow photos if you want to blog about this project, but remember to credit me and link back to the original source, and do not reproduce my entire tutorial on your site. Thanks!

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Brainstorming

I had to take an unplanned break from blogging this week, as our internet connection has been playing up! It seems to be back to normal now (touch wood), so my crafty witterings can recommence...

... starting with a peek at some colourful works in progress:I had an impromptu "brainstorming" session one evening this week, trying out a few ideas for crafty projects and covering the coffee table with felt, buttons, and hastily scribbled patterns in the process. Then at the end of the evening, everything got tidied away on an upturned tin lid to come back to another day (hopefully soon!).

Thursday, 20 August 2009

New - Christmas Felt Packs!

Yes, I know it's still August, but for all us crafty types Christmas comes early as there's so much lovely making to do.

For ultimate Christmas crafting convenience, you can now buy lots of yummy Christmassy felt in one handy bundle of 9x9 inch squares:Perfect for making snowmen, holly, Santas, reindeer, gingerbread men, Christmas puddings, Christmas trees, and all sorts of festive goodness!

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Giant Rainbows

Our coffee table is currently a riot of colour:I'm having a nice relaxing afternoon watching some films, drinking tea and putting together lots of packs of felt. I'm making packs of mini squares but also a few giant rainbows (60 9x9 inch squares) which are back in stock on my website. Lots of colourful fun!

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Supplies in the Spare Room

Today I have been packing up lots of parcels, and fetching lots of packaging supplies from my "spares" stash in the spare bedroom... Like most rooms in our house, the spare room is gradually being filled with felt and other crafty supplies. It's looking a lot tidier in there since we got some new shelves - just the right depth for storing lots of felt - but it looks a lot less neat out of shot!

Monday, 17 August 2009

Back to Business

After several weeks of keeping my shops closed or 'on vacation' thanks to the 'flu ... shipping will resume this week!

It is always such a pain having to close up shop unexpectedly, so it's lovely to have my shops up and running again and to be making a start on packaging up my backlog of orders.

Thanks to the 'flu I've gained a new assistant (temporarily, at least). My long suffering boyfriend has kindly offered to take my parcels to the Post Office for me. He will do the walking and the queuing and the posting so I can stick to the packaging and then put my feet up with a cuppa instead of collapsing in a post-related heap. What a star.

Sunday, 16 August 2009

And the lucky number is...

... seventeen!So the inspiration pack will be going to missleslieanne who wrote: "the first thing I can really remember making, was a paperweight for my dad - it was effectively a big rock, splattered with paint & glitter! bless him though, he treated it like a masterpiece & it's been with him in every office he's had since, even now!!"

Thanks so much for sharing your crafty stories, everyone! It was an absolute pleasure reading them all. And remember, I'm playing catch up this month so there'll be a second giveaway coming soon.

Saturday, 15 August 2009

Ooh, the Big Knit is back

The Big Knit campaign run by Innocent Drinks is happening again this year, hurrah!

People knit tiny hats for Innocent Smoothie bottles, and for each promotional bottle sold money is donated to keep older people warm during the winter. It's a great cause, and a fun way to use up some leftover yarn or to learn how to knit if you've never tried it before (as a terrible knitter, I can assure you that they're very easy to make!).

I attended a very fun Big Knit 'Knitting Marathon' last year and a few years ago had a knitting marathon of my own, knitting all of these little fellas:I was stuck in bed ill with some horrible winter bug, and knitting all those little hats kept me very entertained. I had so much fun knitting all the stripes and my mum (who is much better at this sort of thing than me) kindly made all the matching pompoms:I doubt I'll manage to make as many hats as that this year, but you never know...

Instructions for knitting your own tiny hats can be found HERE.

Friday, 14 August 2009

A Confession

Sometimes I am a terrible, lazy, disorganised crafter and make perfectly nice things and put them in a pile to photograph them ready to list in my shop... and just don't get round to it!

For example, this time last year I made two prototype crowns. Here they are, in progress last September:
I finished them, I put them aside to photograph later and wrote on my to do list "finalise crown design" .... and a year later, they've still not been photographed and I'm only just working on the finished designs. So, so embarrasing.

I'm quite excited about digging them out again though - hopefully it won't take me another year to actually get them in my shops this time!

Thursday, 13 August 2009

Experiments with Combs

Thanks so much to everyone who has entered my giveaway so far - I'm loving hearing about all your early crafting stories!

Sewing lots of eco flower hair combs this week made me want to experiment a bit more with the plastic combs in my stash...

Would some of my other designs look nice as a hair comb? Hmm... First to be tested, a bright poinsettia* and a soft pink cherry blossom:*spot the crafter who has finally made a proper start on her Christmas sewing!

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

August Giveaway - part one!

Thanks to the horrible flu, I didn't run a giveaway in July... so I've decided to double the fun this month to make up for it and will be running TWO giveaways this month!

First up, I'm giving away one of my new "inspiration packs" - contents will vary but each bag is bursting with buttons and ribbon and other crafty treats to help inspire lots of new projects.Because the inspiration packs make great starter kits for kids (supervised, of course!) and inspired by yesterday's peek at one of my early sewing projects, to enter this week's giveaway just leave a comment telling me about one of your first crafty projects. This could be something you made as a kid, or maybe an early project when you were discovering a new craft as an adult. Successes, disasters, proud memories, I'd love to hear them all!

Leave your comment before midnight BST (British Summer Time) on Saturday 15th August on this post and I'll pick a winner at random on Sunday (16th August).

I'm happy to ship internationally, so anyone can enter. Please make sure you leave a name or pseudonym (no anonymous comments please!) and be sure to come back on Sunday to see if you got picked :)

EDIT: this giveaway is now closed! Thanks!

Monday, 10 August 2009

Crafty Beginnings

I visited my parents this weekend and took the opportunity to take a quick snap of one of the earliest things I can remember sewing - a little appliqu├ęd felt apple:
I think we all made one in class at primary school, given a square of green felt, two pre-cut shapes, a needle and thread and lots of supervision! A perfect early project :)

Sunday, 9 August 2009

Button Flowers

I'm doing lots of nice simple sewing projects at the moment, to keep myself entertained while I sit and rest and try to properly recover from my bout of flu.

One of the projects I've been working on is choosing vintage buttons for lots of new eco flowers...
These flowers have been my lazy late-night project for weeks, sitting in front of a film and cutting out petals or sewing them together, and as you can see I've gradually built up quite a collection! It's lovely finally choosing buttons for them.

Like my other eco flowers, these are all made from the Kunin ecospun felt I bought earlier this year, which is made from recycled plastic bottles. The next task will be to turn the large flowers into brooches and the smaller ones into pretty hair combs.

Thursday, 6 August 2009

Selling Online: Product

When I first set up shop on Etsy I had no idea really what I was going to sell. I liked making stuff and I looked at all these fantastic artists and crafters and how easy it was to set up shop and I thought "oooh, I could do that." I chose my username almost on a whim, set up my shop and filled it with a few hastily photographed crafty bits and pieces. I did make some sales, but it took me about 9 months of tinkering with my Etsy shop and trying out making lots of different things to sell before I began to find my own style and to have real confidence in my products and my shop's identity.

If you're happy to make a few things and see if they sell and use the money to make more things then you can carry on doing that forever (having a self-funding hobby is pretty cool). But if you're looking to build up a business and maybe eventually "quit your day job" you need to take a long hard look at the whole of your business, and that begins with your product.

It sounds a bit flippant, but essentially are you making something awesome and special that people want to buy? If a buyer finds your shop, why would they stay and shop when the whole internet and thousands of other crafty businesses are just a click away?

It can be hard as an artist or creative person to think about your works as "products", but it's well worth taking the time to think about your shop from a buyer's point of view and to start thinking about your shop as a "brand" with a distinct style of its own.

Be prepared to experiment, to try new things, to develop a new collection or offer a different option to your customers. E.g. if you're an artist you don't have to change your style or anything drastic like that but you could investigate selling your work as prints or on notecards or badges or branching out into things like making embroidery patterns from your illustrations.

Look at your competition and the market for the sort of things you sell. Is there a niche that hasn't been filled? The internet is very well suited to selling a niche product, e.g. you could specialise in fun jewellery aimed at computer geeks or knitters or book lovers via the internet, but you might have trouble finding lots of those customers at your local craft fair!

Try and make your shop as cohesive as possible. Variety is good and can help keep your shop fresh, but when a shopper clicks into your shop from search or seeing your work on a blog you want them to see more things they like and to think of you when they want to buy a certain type of item. Focus on a style (e.g. simple modern jewellery) or a product (e.g. pendants) or a customer (e.g. mums buying children's products) or an occasion (e.g. wedding jewellery and other bridal accessories).

Keep an eye on the trends, the fashionable colours and popular motifs but don't slavishly follow them or you'll be left without a saleable product when the fashion changes again. Also try to resist the urge to make something just because everyone else is - again, when the fashion changes you will lose out, and you'll just be one of many sellers jumping on a bandwagon and competing to sell the same items.

Perhaps most importantly, be honest with yourself when something isn't selling. Just because you love something doesn't mean there is a market for it. I quite often make new things that I'm super excited about, and then no-one buys them! :)

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Thoughts on Selling Online

Way back in February, I started thinking about writing a few blog posts with Etsy Tips or general advice about running an online shop. Finally - now that I've got lots of spare time while I recover from the flu - I am actually going to write them! I'll be discussing things like photos, shipping, customer service, branding, promotion, social networking, etc... starting tomorrow with thoughts on Product.

I make no claims to have any super-secret business wisdom, and I don’t plan on writing the ultimate guide to running a crafty business (as if such a thing were even possible!), but I’ve been running my little business for a couple of years now and I’m happy to share a few tips with anyone who might be interested.

If you’re thinking about setting up a shop somewhere like Etsy or Folksy, you may already have an established business that just needs an online presence or you may be starting from scratch and dipping your toes into the world of retail for the first time. I’m going to be writing these posts from the point of view of the latter reader – someone who makes stuff, and is thinking about selling it and maybe dreaming about eventually quitting their day job and becoming a full time designer/maker. Because of this, some of the topics I cover might seem a little basic but please bear with me!

Please do feel free to leave comments with your thoughts on the topics I cover, or to post links to any relevant posts on other blogs :)

Sunday, 2 August 2009

Fantastic Fabric

I've been toying with some interior decor projects recently - because there's nothing like staring at the same four walls for a couple of weeks to make you want to redecorate!

With these projects (and a few others) in mind and with the magical power of wireless internet I have been doing lots of window shopping for fabric.

There's an increasingly amazing choice of hand printed and/or independently designed fabrics available (thanks in part to the rise of Spoonflower) , and many of my favourite makers have recently branched out into selling their own fabrics.

Betz White this week launched her organic fabric line, with the drop dead gorgeous "family cottage" collection:

Leanne Graeff is now selling delicious fabric based on her linoprints, including this super-cute house design:

Showpony also now offers fabric, handprinted onto organic, fair trade cotton. The "seasons" print (pictured) is available in summer and winter versions, with leafy trees and bare ones. Lovely!

Queen of the Teatowels (in my kitchen, at least!) Skinny Laminx now offers her "Sevilla Rock" collection by the quarter, half or full metre:

Michelle of Cicada Studio (whose "earthly delights" collection is currently top of my new-sofa-cushions-fabric wishlist) recently co-launched Cloud 9 Fabrics, a sweet range of organic cottons perfect for quilters and other crafters:

Browsing for fabrics I've also been very tempted by the "doiliez" pattern from Swanky Swell...
... this "birch forest" design from Ink and Spindle (guess who has a thing for robins egg blue at the moment!) ... ... these charming scrap fabric packs from Of Paper and Thread (perfect for small crafty projects) ...... and having seen the work-in-progress over on her blog, I'm very much looking forward to the new design from the always awesome Lucie of Summersville: So much to choose from! Which is your favourite? :)

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