Friday 30 November 2007

365 / 105 - brooches brooches brooches

... and then more brooches!

Last night I carried on working on the little batches I began the day before, and although I've only finished one complete badge I have lots nearly finished (just needing their pinbacks & stitching together) and lining them all up makes me feel very satisfied:
In other news, I've managed a full month of my project to give something away every day in the run-up to Christmas. None of it has actually been given away yet - it's all in boxes in the spare room waiting to go to charity shops, a charity book sale, and friends & family - but the big pile I have accumulated is incredible (terrible photos, sorry!!)
Some days I have got rid of more than one thing as I had a mini-clearout that day or added, say, two t-shirts to the pile that day, but every single day since the end of October I have found something in my house which I do not need & which can now go to a better home. It's really great planning things to give away instead of just buying stuff as one normally does at this time of year, and I do love to declutter.

The second month will definitely be harder than the first, but as someone who hoards endlessly "just in case" I might want something in the future I think it will be a very useful experience! I would definitely recommend a month of it - perhaps give away 24 things every December as an alternative way of celebrating Advent? I am rather tempted to add this to my Christmas traditions!

Thinking of de-cluttering, way back in April I put most of the contents of my wardrobe away to test if I ever actually wore it... and now here we are about to start December and I still have two and a bit suitcases of clothing under my bed! Some things have gone back into my wardrobe (and are now worn all the time), some have been given away as the months have passed and several are in a kind of limbo state where I'm giving them a trial run in my wardrobe before deciding whether or not to get rid.

I've also been trying not to buy new clothes, but I have rather failed at this - especially yesterday when I bought 4 totally crazy things from a charity shop on my way to the Post Office! This is the pile of new stuff I've aquired since April:
Two £2 skirts (one worn, one not yet), one orange cardigan from a free stuff party (now a wardrobe staple, FREE), one fancy Zara dress from a charity shop worn to many garden parties in the summer (£5), one crazy 70s velvet skirt bought yesterday for work (where it is COLD; £7), one slightly mental green knitted jacket that I might be giving straight back to charity in the next few weeks! (£5), 1 toasty warm orange jumper (£1.50), 1 summer wrap dress from my mother-in-law's wardrobe (FREE), 1 mustard yellow cord skirt bought yesterday (what do I wear mustard yellow with, exactly?; £4) and the only thing I've bought new: an excellent scarygoround t-shirt (£9.50).

I guess that's not too bad for almost 8 months, is it? We will turn a blind eye to all the bags and jewellery I've bought from Etsy in that time and say Hurrah! :)

Thursday 29 November 2007

365 / 104 - Making a big Felt-y Mess

Last night I did lots of sewing... unfortunately this made rather a lot of mess as I don't have a dedicated workspace but instead work wherever in the house I happen to be, and last night this was on the sofa. Our coffee tables now look like this, and it spreads across the sofa and the floor and another side-table as well...
Lots of tidying up to be done today before I can get on with anything else!

Rather a productive evening though - I worked on a batch of sakura pins (with the new beads), some moths, some poppies, some holly, some lions and some new mini mistletoe baubles:
I've really got to go and do some tidying in a minute, but I just wanted to mention the awesome little mention I my work got here this week: so flattering I practically blushed when I read it!

365 / 103 - secret schemes!

Not a proper blog post today (Wednesday) sorry and no photo yet because yesterday (Tuesday) I was working on sketches for secret schemes and they are not ready for showing off just yet. All will be revealed soon, I promise! :)

Tuesday 27 November 2007

365 / 102 - Disguises Galore!

Last night I turned my attention to disguise-making: two felt beards (one black, one brown) and a pair of felt glasses...
The glasses in particular are a bit mental (you know, cos felt beards are perfectly normal bits of kit) but they were lots of fun to make. The elastic on the glasses is just enough to keep them falling off your head when you wear them :)

Ooh and I almost forgot - look at the awesome post I got today:
More brooch backs than I have ever seen! Hurrah! They should keep me going for a while...

Monday 26 November 2007

365 / 101 - Dinner Party Crafting

So last night we had people over for dinner, and whenever we do that it somehow turns into a proper dinner party cos the boyf goes to the supermarket to buy one course and comes back with starters and chocolates and cheese... I had some sewing that I needed to get done, so I stitched away during pre-dinner nibbles and again during post-dinner chocolates and coffee (tea for me, obviously).

Here in terrible light (so overcast today) is last night's workspace, complete with yummy chocs...

I was restocking a few things, party rings and moustache pins and tree stumps, and also beading a few more poppies - most appropriate as during dinner it turns out my little poppy pin was on the Etsy front page! I missed it due to a ban on Etsy during the evening (sewing is allowed but checking Etsy is impolite to guests apparently) but the lovely Miss Bunny sent me a screenshot to enjoy at my leisure:

UPDATE: My poppy design is now available as a sewing pattern! Visit my shop to see all my printable PDF patterns

Sunday 25 November 2007

365 / 100 - Christmas treats

Yesterday was day 100! Hurrah!

Last night's task was to finish my new Christmas-themed items so I could take photos of them this morning while there was still light to do so - I got up rather late today so there was only just enough!
I made one of the holly pieces into a brooch and the other into an ornament, and I finished both of the mistletoe decorations. The first one was made with just one piece of felt sewn on the back but it wasn't quite sturdy enough so the second has an extra layer in the middle. The slightly thinner one will get sold at a slightly lower price and I may adapt the design a little if I make some more but I am very pleased with how the applique turned out. It's one of those pieces where it's loads of work and it seems alright and then you add the finishing touches (in this case the white berries) and it all comes together. It has been suggested that I market the mistletoe with a line like "with normal mistletoe you just get a kiss, with this mistletoe you get felt", haha.

Here's a better shot of the holly brooch, and one of the mistletoe so you can see the scale of it
Today I was supposed to be cleaning the house a little and then settling down to do some sewing in the afternoon before we have guests for dinner but it's the middle of the afternoon already and I've done nothing yet! Ah well. The housework may have to wait for another day...

Saturday 24 November 2007

365 / 99 - fresh from the felt laboratory

Last night I had the house to myself for the entire evening so I covered the coffee table in supplies, got some dvds out of the cupboard and bought a nice bar of chocolate and spent several hours working on new felt projects. I know that I need to work on batches and building up my stocks and things like that, but the temptation to try new things is just too great to resist and whenever I'm working on something new it doesn't feel like work at all but purely pleasurable "me" time (I rather dislike that expression but it is so very apt).
I worked on cherry blossom pins, made a little lion brooch, started work on a slightly nutty felt beard (the natural complement to my moustaches but I'm not sure how it's going to turn out!), and appliqued some holly (perhaps to be brooches and perhaps ornaments) and a ridiculously intricate but quite pleasing (to me, at least) branch of felt mistletoe that will have a ribbon loop for hanging in doorways etc.

The lion design is adapted from a cushion I made about a decade ago (nice to know my style has evolved so much, haha) for a school project - his nose is not quite right but he's still quite cute:
Oh, and these are the beads I've settled on for the new cherry blossom pins:
You may notice that yesterday was day 99 of my Crafting 365 project, making today day 100. I am so pleased to have reached 100 (with only 3 or 4 missed days inbetween), it feels like such a huge number and the thought that all those days involved some crafty goodness is a very satisfying one. Miles and miles better than the feeling that originally inspired the 365 challenge, when I looked back over my summer and realised how little I'd made and how much time I had spent being busy and stressed and devoting my days to housework or filing or other dull things. Even on the days when I squeeze in a teeny tiny bit of craftiness I feel better for it - actually, those busy days are probably the ones on which I most need to accomplish something simple-but-satisfying, to relax and take time out from everything!

Sewing etc is relaxing, an escape from chores etc, but it's also increasingly becoming "work", too and it has been so exciting turning something I love into a business. My productivity has been HUGE, I've made just so many things this year and my ideas have just been tumbling out. The more I make the more I want to make and that's a lovely feeling. The crafting 365 group and other connections I've made through this daily blogging has proved a huge source of inspiration. It has been wonderful seeing so many people's works progress, their working methods and how they fit their creativity into their everyday lives. It is often a battle, but it's one worth fighting for sure!

Thinking about all this, I was utterly delighted to find a my blog being discussed in just these sorts of terms... lovely to read about someone discovering felt as a grown-up and genuinely creative medium, and I am in love with the little felt garlands that first inspired the re-discovery. A great little tutorial and the finished project is just gorgeous and the garlands fit so well with my current obsession with strings of felt circles. I have been turning over in my mind ways to adapt my abstract mobiles to be garlands for trees, or necklaces or other accessories (schemes you will hopefully see the fruits of in the spring!) and it's causing me to see felty circles wherever I look. Fitting in perfectly with this, my current "I want this so bad but I can't buy it" item is a circley scarf made from wool felt (wool makes me itch like the devil but also I have resolved to buy no more scarves as I have about a million already). Here are two awesome ones on Etsy (the blue one is sold but the seller has more in other colours) from two different seller but both recycled wool sweaters. Awesome huh?
PS my moustache cards showed up in a great selection of moustache-themed items here this week.

Friday 23 November 2007

365 / 98 - more tea, more poppies and a hunt for some beads

Yesterday I was rather sleepy, so I stuck to doing nice simple things like sewing finished brooches together and doing more work on the pile of poppy pins...
... you may notice that I also started a little leaf-less cherry blossom pin. I've run out of the beads I used for the cherry blossom pins (all now sold) so I've been hunting through my stash to find a suitable alternative. I tried the bright pink seed beads pictured but they are too small (this pin will be finished listed at some point as a "test" item, priced like an ooops like that slightly wonky tea addict pin in the foreground). Today I will be trying out some white pearlescant beads that are the right size. I think I might make a few just with the flower (like the one in the photo) as well as a few with leaves as I quite like the cute flower all on its own like that.

As well as doing some sleepy sewing, I have been taking LOTS of photos for other people... My employer has got me taking product photos (this is what happens when your boss knows you take your own product photos!) and my boyfriend has got me photographing yet more of his books...

UPDATE: My poppy design is now available as a sewing pattern! Visit my shop to see all my printable PDF patterns

Thursday 22 November 2007

365 / 97 - tea, poppies, plants and post

Happy Thanksgiving! :)

Last night my sewing task was to finish some poppy pins and to make an assortment of tea-themed badges... I got lots of tea embroidery done, and did some poppy stitching but didn't have time to finish anything. Ah well.
Here's a shot of my workspace last night, too. Working on the sofa again...
Most of my creative energies (and, you know, my actual energy!) was expended earlier in the day by doing lots of mucking about with plants. My mother laughed at me for using the word "gardening" in relation to my motley collection of much-neglected potted plants but whatever word you want to use I have been doing that :)

My main task yesterday was setting up some new pots outside my flat - some with winter pansies, some with cyclamen and one with a hebe that I bought ages ago and never potted it up (I am frankly astonished that it still lives!). It's all a bit mucky out there still (we need some rain really) but this is what my outside space looks like now:
I have also been attending to many a neglected pot plant inside my house - so many of them have needed repotting for just months and many others needed cutting back etc... I am working my way round them all rather slowly (there are rather a lot of them!) repotting, tidying and taking a few cuttings. This is what my kitchen windowsill now looks like - three little Christmas Cactus plants (grown from cuttings) coming into bloom (one is out of shot), a repotted cyclamen and a whole assortment of cuttings that I'd cut anyway so I'm seeing if they'll root just for the heck of it:(the cuttings are all in tiny little jars that once held dried herbs etc, the greenery and the light glinting off the clear glass looks really lovely).

This is the momma Christmas Cactus, flowering its heart out at the moment next to some baby spider plants and (just at the edge of shot) a rather sorry-looking peace lily!

In other news, the gift guides are back up on Etsy and only one of my items seems to have disappeared post-maintenance & that was where two of my recycled card sets were on the same page of the same section. Also yesterday was a day for lovely post - my brooches arrived from paperiaarre, causing me to gasp at how beautiful they are in real life. I was very pleased to spot one of her brooches in the gift guides, too! This photo really doesn't do them justice but I did want to show the lovely packaging...
Gorgeous printed thankyou note and freebie gift tags, too. Very stylish stuff indeed.

Gosh and I almost forgot - I sold my 400th item on Etsy yesterday! It was part of my 250th order too, so I will be sending out an extra-special bundle of freebies to my lovely buyer :)

UPDATE: My poppy design is now available as a sewing pattern! Visit my shop to see all my printable PDF patterns

Wednesday 21 November 2007

365 / day 96 - penguins and poppies

Last night I got totally distracted by Etsy's new gift guides and the reaction to them on the forums, but I did manage to tear myself away from the computer for long enough to do a little bit of sewing! Here's one of my mobiles in the baby girl gift guide... though whether it will still be there when the guides return after "maintenence" is anyone's guess! The guides need a little work for sure, but they will be such a great tool for buyers who get lost amongst so many items, like a fun little sampler or snapshot of assorted Etsy treats. There seems to be a lot of discussion about "fairness" and having spotted several of my own items in various lists (some items in more than one list, or some lists with more than one item) I think my reactions to some of the "not fair!" comments have been a little more emotional than they might ordinarily have been. I will shut up about this now I think :)

Anyway... here's my sewing heap for the evening:
I finished a penguin pin, did some work on a few poppies and cut out a load of pieces to make more poppies, moustache pins & disguises, and an assortment of penguins. I also did lots of tidying up of my work-area (well, the area in which all my stuff is stashed away - I work all over the house!) and have been writing lists of things I need to restock. I really ought to be much more organised about all this stuff than I actually am, and several evenings dedicated sewing is called for. It is much more fun to make new things but little batches have their own relaxing charms and it makes my life sooo much easier knowing I have several of something in stock.

UPDATE: My poppy design is now available as a sewing pattern! Visit my shop to see all my printable PDF patterns

Tuesday 20 November 2007

365 / 95 - finishing touches and parcels

My craftiness last night was devoted to finishing off a few bits and pieces in order to have them ready for relisting or shipping today. A few moustaches that needed their elastic adding, things like that, and a butterfly brooch that was half-finished and just needed its sequins adding...
(I do rather love airmail stickers!)

In other news, my moth brooch was on the Etsy front page yesterday (hurrah!) in a most stylish list and a couple of my pins got a lovely mention here.

Monday 19 November 2007

365 / 94 - Spring Cleaning and Scissors

The "spring" cleaning continues... but I'm feeling a lot better about it. For one thing, I'm actually making some progress - parts of my house are both clean and tidy! Getting rid of a lot of the clutter and properly organising things is making me feel better already (so many of our possessions were still in their "that'll do" places from when we first moved in) and I'm pleased with the pile of stuff we now have to give away.

Most importantly though, I did some crafting last night, hurrah! Not the largest or most exciting of crafty tasks, but one I have been meaning to do for ages - cutting up old envelopes to make, er, new envelopes:
Some of the new envelopes will have our address on the inside so I'll keep those for my personal letters etc. but the plain brown ones will be matched up with my new map cards (I do so love the look of the brown paper with the vintage maps) and the blue patterned ones I'll use for sending out zine orders. I've been using my spare map & giftwrap envelopes for sending out zines recently and the difference it makes is just huge. Even the normally stern cashier at the post office was entranced!

In Etsy news, my tea and cake obsession was blogged on I Like, my ornaments got a mention on Funky Finds and my moustache pins were on the Etsy front page early this morning - too early for me but you can see the treasury here. I was also delighted to find sweet mentions of this very blog here, here and also here - so, so nice to read other people's reactions to my witterings :)

In other news, it's lovely and sunny here this morning - even if I had anything crafty to show off yesterday I'd barely have been able to take a photo of it the day was so dark and gloomy and filled with rain. I'm hoping to get some gardening done this afternoon if the weather holds... does gardening count as craftiness, I wonder?

Sunday 18 November 2007

Thrown off the wagon by a messy house

It is sad but true. Yesterday I did not a single crafty thing because I was cleaning my house. I hate days like that, hate them hate them. They make me feel like a domestic drudge instead of a person and after all that work my house still isn't bloody clean! In fact in some places it looks worse as boxes of things have been emptied but not yet re-packed and cupboard-contents are strewn across the floor. I have been throwing lots of things away, washing lots of things, rearranging lots of things... but making NOTHING. Bah. I did have an excellent day for my other project though - clearing out cupboards gave me a lovely big pile of things to give away.

In other news... I was buying Etsy gifts for other people in the evening when I found just the most beautiful Etsy shop, called paperiaarre. It's based in Finland and sells gorgeous handbound books and also some of the most awesome brooches I've seen in ages. Made from old book pages they are beautiful in a soft, quiet and elegant-but-still-slightly-nerdish way - classy but still casual. A lot of the time I am a total scruff-pot, unbrushed hair and old jumpers and 100% jewellery-free... but when I scrub up neat I love to wear brooches and I just could not resist this one:
I bought another which is supposedly a gift for someone but I can picture it finding its way into my jewellery box and onto my cardigans, hehe.

Saturday 17 November 2007

365 / 93 - The Ignoring of Plans

So yesterday I said "I am planning on making little penguin pins , finishing that little pile of tree stumps and also working on lots of oak leaves" and then yesterday evening I did none of these things! I didn't even start any of them! I faffed about most of the evening, tidying up a little, listening to the radio and leaving my dinner in the oven while I was busy nattering on Etsy (oops). I did get a little bit of sewing done though, clearly influenced by all the cake I have eaten this week (I am having a very sweet toothed phase at the moment) - cake slice brooches:
One is Victoria sponge and the other is coffee cake I think (or perhaps chocolate? any thoughts?). I'm quite pleased with them, but now I want to bake a sponge cake!

Friday 16 November 2007

365 / 92 - lots of new things

Right, so last night I was supposed to be working on restocking a few things, cutting out lots of pattern pieces etc. I settled down on the sofa with my supplies around me, put a David Attenborough video on (check out this awesome bird), and started work only to get totally distracted almost immediately...

I got two oak leaf pieces cut out and finished my little embroidered wood slice pins and was about to cut out lots more pattern pieces (honest guv'nor) when I thought "ooh, I'll give that embroidered badge idea a try" and spent the rest of the evening doing just that! First up I made a little "tea addict" pin:
Then I decided to save tea drinkers time by making little badges declaring one's tea-drinking prefences to the world (mine's black no sugar) - I'll be listing these as custom/personalised items and making them to order:
Finally I made a start on some of the little embroidered picture pins I started scheming back on day 57 while I was doodling little pictures at work. I'm planning a whole series of these, lots of kitchenalia as I'm loving all things kitchen, cooking and crockery -themed at the moment. To start off though, cutlery and teacups:
Here's the whole evening's work...
I did get a few more pattern pieces cut out, as you can see - making a few more tree stump pins. The tree stump showed up on the Etsy front page this morning as part of a quite delightful "faux bois" treasury. Thanks again to memake for the pdf! I did get a rubbish screenshot of my own this time:I am rather afraid I shall get distracted again this evening and not get any of my plans attended to, but I am planning on making little penguin pins , finishing that little pile of tree stumps and also working on lots of oak leaves. I sketched lots of oak leaves while I was away as I'm planning on making a couple more slightly smaller versions of the ones in my shop at the moment. Here are the sketches. I have my favourites but I want to try a few of them out...

Thursday 15 November 2007

365 / 90 & 91 - Sweet Treats and a trip to the Dentist

I have returned! Hurrah! Time to catch up on lots of things like uploading photos to this here blog and attending to my daily "find-something-to-give-away" project (fairly hard to do when you're away from your possessions!).

The day before yesterday it rained a lot so I curled up indoors and did lots of sewing...
I finished some poppies, a tea badge and made a few new things as well. I made some little birds for a custom order, a custom fish ornament and then a brooch from the same pattern as I'm so pleased with how it turned out. I had a custom "NOT 50" badge to make and made a spare one without a fixed age ready for personalisation... I also embroidered a few little wood pins, cute little felt log-slices inspired by the embroidery I did for my tree stump.

Here's the NOT 50 badge:
The fish ornament (and its original sketch for comparison!)

Oh and here's a lovely pin tin given to me by my mother - how gorgeous is this??

Then yesterday I felt RUBBISH, just super-tired and generally poorly. I managed to do a bit of sewing in the morning and to get out of the house to go to the dentist (all clear, woohoo!). I felt worse by the afternoon and spent the whole evening in bed eating chocolate (my poor teeth...) feeling sorry for myself. I was feeling particularly grumpy cos I missed out on going to knit night and meeting the wonderful knithappens, which I had been looking forward to so very much. I did at least manage to get some simple sewing done, sewing on brooch backs and finishing off (tasks saved for knit night, sniff!).
I finished off some tea badges and some little acorns ... and in the morning I made jammie dodgers (a suggestion from a lovely customer!) and FINALLY made some more Battenburg pins which have been out of stock for just ages because I am LAZY. They are such fun things to make though, so cute and plump and yummy-looking when they are finished...

... and now I am home again. I have returned home to delicious treats - the boyfriend has clearly been up to no good in my absence as he has bought me presents including this awesome book:
I also had great post from lovely Lisa aka Seaurchin - I bought one of her necklaces (seen on Flickr and just too delicious to resist) and it happened to be her 200th item sold so I got lovely extras in my parcel!
I bought this necklace, made from the patterns in some old anaglypta wallpaper Lisa removed from her house while redecorating... and she sent me another little wallpaper necklace and also a handmade card. The pink stripey stuff in the background is a section of a secondhand scarf that was used for the packaging instead of bubblewrap. Such a great eco-friendly idea, especially if you've got say an old jumper with a hole in it that a charity shop wouldn't take. It lends her parcels such character while the jewellery itself is smartly and professionally packaged in little black boxes tied with ribbon and topped with delicious moo cards.

Lisa's shop is the one on Etsy that I show EVERYONE when I am explaining Etsy to them, no matter what their taste is. She is my example of "awesome and talented specialists making stuff like this..." and her work has received more "ooooh"s in my presence than I can possibly count. I highly recommend buying her work now before she becomes internationally renowned! :)

UPDATE: My poppy design is now available as a sewing pattern! Visit my shop to see all my printable PDF patterns