Friday, 23 December 2011

Sewing up some ideas

I get ideas in my head all the time for things I want to make.  Sometimes it's just not practical at the time to make these items so I keep the images/ideas tucked away somewhere safe for when I have the time/reason to make them. 

Some of the ideas I've had recently were for beautiful appliqued notebook or more relevant - diary covers.  Here are a few I've made lately....

A close up of the pretty flowers -

The love-heart cover also features a little bit of free hand embroidery, the word 'love'.  This was my first time doing this and it turned out pretty good!

I'll certainly be playing around with some more of this in the new year :)

And here's another notebook, this time featuring a sweet owl applique -

I love the way these have turned out.  They're all A5 size and are now all sold, but I offered each customer the choice of a diary or a notebook.  The covers are removable and therefore will last for a very long time!  I've also made another little one - A6 this time, but it's for a Christmas gift so will be yet another thing I'll have to wait til after Christmas to show you! 

Speaking of Christmas gifts - each year I promise myself I'll get my wrapping done nice and early and NOT end up doing the majority on Christmas eve.....well, guess what I'll be doing tomorrow?!!!  Oops!

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

My tutorial's been featured...

Just a quickie blog post to share something exciting...

But firstly, I'd like to say a massive 'thank you' to all of you who provided so much support following my last post.  I've had so many great (and valid) comments on the blog post, over on Twitter and even via text message! It seems we have all been thinking/feeling the same, but no-one said it out loud...until now! 

But, now on to something very exciting (for me anyway!).... Remember a while ago I told you I'd done some Christmas tutorials? Well, now the Christmas gift sack tutorial has been featured on The Guardian website!!!  Click here to take you straight to the tutorial.  Doesn't it look great?!

If you manage to make one of these pretty drawstring bags (perhaps for storing Xmas decorations...?) I'd love to see it.  You could send me a pic via the 'Contact Me' button at the top right of my blog :)

Sunday, 18 December 2011

A bit of a rant about 'craft fairs'!

My final craft fair (of 2011) has been and gone, and I'm afraid to say it was somewhat of an anti-climax to the end of my first year of selling. The location, the time of year and the fact it was the most expensive craft fair I've done meant that I hoped it would be a big hit. However, sales were pretty low for most stall holders I spoke to and footfall within the venue was poor as well.  The organisers had put a lot of time and effort into advertising the event with radio ads, posters, distributing leaflets, even handing them out in the street on the day. 

My stall at 'the event of the year'!
One crafter has already pointed out that it is almost as though members of the public need to be reminded how special it is to buy handmade.  Not mass produced, not cheaply made in a factory thousands of miles away, but lovingly designed and made by talented crafts-people who invest a lot of time into their creations - often earning less then minimum wage themselves.  It is sad, but it seems that people just aren't prepared to pay for someone to make a special one off item, instead they are drawn to the high street where they will give a gift that thousands of other people will also receive. 

I've gotten thoroughly bored of the high street this Christmas - the shops are full of the same stuff they are full of every Christmas.  Rarely do I see something and think 'oh, that's different, I haven't seen that before...'.  With each craft fair I've been to I always see something with that added WOW factor! 

Whilst we may not be able to compete with the high street's prices, us designers/makers/sellers can certainly show the high street a thing or two about originality. There is also something to be said for being able to actually talk to the person who made your item, and this can be to the customer's advantage - us designer/makers *love* being asked to make something with someones specific likes/tastes in mind!

I have a theory that perhaps the term 'craft fair' puts a certain image in peoples heads.  Not an image of pretty stalls selling modern, bright, beautiful products, but one of the complete opposite.  Cold, drafty church halls, stalls selling home-made jam and with rubbish tombola's.  (Don't get me wrong - I LOVE home-made jam!)  Today's craft fairs are full of the most modern crafting I've seen, the most beautiful and often designer fabrics are being used, new arty/crafty techniques, handmade jewellery made from a lump of silver, and fancy and beautiful looking cupcakes that would make your eyes light up!  There has also been a lot of criticism over a recent 'crafts' tv show that somehow failed to showcase the 'Best of British' as it actually promised.  (I won't go into it, the least said the better, but the images it portrayed of the British craft scene were hardly enough to change the public's mind about handmade.)  Eek, there, I've said it.....

It seems very apparent from reading other blogs and speaking to people via Twitter that the 'buy handmade' message is certainly getting out there - BUT it seems that only those who do actually 'hand make' realise just how important it is to support other crafts people.  The problem lies with getting the message across to everyone else that it is worth supporting handmade.  Yes, products may be more expensive, but that's because people in the UK are trying to make a living, it's not someone in a sweatshop hundreds of miles away. 

I think I saw it quoted somewhere recently (can't remember where), but I have to agree that it's not necessarily my products that are 'wrong', but just that the people who visit the fairs I've done just aren't 'my' customers.  My quest for 2012 will certainly be to find new outlets for my products, designs and ideas and to expand on plenty of new ideas I have swilling around in my brain.  The Internet has certainly been my friend when it has come to sales these past few months, Twitter and my blog have been great advertising tools.  It is certainly very disheartening when I look at my sales figures from craft fairs only for them to drastically drop when I subtract the huge amount I have had to pay out for tables at such events.  If I hadn't had such great sales other than the few craft fairs that have been a bit disappointing, I'd certainly be looking closer to home and thinking that my products just aren't what the public want, but I get great feedback from customers, and I'm lucky enough to get repeat orders, so that does bring about a degree of confidence in what I make being 'good enough'.

So, all-in-all, a post that was originally going to be about cute t-shirts I've made lately, took an entirely different twist and ended up with me getting quite a bit off my chest!  I certainly feel a bit better now, but what do you think?   Is it as simple as thinking that we need to re-define 'craft fairs' or does it all come down to the turn in the economy?  And if you've never been to a craft fair, I'm just wondering what image the term actually brings to mind?

P.S - normal services will be resumed this week with blog posts including pretty images of the things I've made recently :)

Friday, 16 December 2011

*Another* button heavy post!

Well, tomorrow is my last craft fair of the season.  I'm really looking forward to being at such an event so close to Christmas, hopefully the atmosphere will be great, full of shoppers looking for some last minute gifts and stocking fillers.  The craft fair is in St Andrews, Fife which is a busy little town at the best of times so I'm hoping to have an empty table by 4pm tomorrow :)  (A girl can dream!)

I've spent the past week frantically finishing off orders (and accepting no more!) so that I could ensure they were all posted off in good time (I'd *hate* for anyone not to get their gifts in time!).  By Tuesday evening I was able to r-e-l-a-x, I'd finished!! 

I spent a little bit of time later in the week replenishing some stock for the craft fair - mostly smaller stocking filler items.  Funnily enough....they all feature one of my favourite items - buttons!

First up were some more shabby chic key rings -

Ooooh, lovely shiny buttons :)

And more..... - hairslides this time -

Loads of these little cute ones, these have been flying off my stall! 

I also used some self-cover buttons to make these pretty fabric ones -

And last, but certainly not least.....I found some giant self-cover buttons and *had* to have them!  I'd been planning to make some brooches for ages, and when I saw these buttons I knew they'd be perfect...

Aren't they cute?!

Well, by this time tomorrow night I'll certainly be sitting with my feet up.  My working year will be over!  (And what a year it's been!)  I still have a couple of Christmas presents of my own to make, but I have a few days next week to work on those.  Hopefully, I'll also have a little more time to spend on some blog posts showing you what else I've been making lately, there just haven't been enough hours in the day to design, create, sew AND blog! 

Monday, 12 December 2011

Scraps for buttons

I seem to have had a serious shortage of time for blogging lately, we've had a household full of illness, and I've also been up to my eyes with fabulous orders!  What a great feeling knowing that so many people will be opening 'Sew Ray Me' Christmas presents on 25th December!!

It won't be long until I can share with you a little more of what I've been making - today's projects included some bright children's patchwork and also some very pretty Cath Kidston inspired patchwork!  Both of these pieces will be used for very different end products :)

But now on to some photos I can share with you....

A few weeks ago I inadvertently arranged a little swap via Twitter.  I posted a photo of my (overflowing) scrap basket .....

....and asked if anybody wanted some!

I had some responses, and 3 lovely ladies offered me something in return....buttons! :)

I ironed and sorted my scraps...

Realised just how far my gingham obsession went -

Do I really have *that* much gingham in my fabric stash??!

I divided my scraps up and posted them to their recipients....and then waited oh-so-patiently by the letterbox to see what Mr Postie would bring me.....

My eyes just lit up when I received these 3 lovely parcels -

First to arrive was this MASSIVE package from Nikki.  Just look at all those lovely wooden buttons at the top!  Fabulous :)

Next up I received some lovely handmade fabric covered buttons from Emma

These will make great button closures on some fabric notebooks I've been making lately! 

And last but certainly not least, this is what I received from Julie -

Julie sent me this rainbow of buttons (doesn't the green one at the bottom look like a really juicy sweety?!) all wrapped up in a pretty piece of fabric. 

I am sooo  pleased with my little swap!  The recipients of my scraps have also put them to good use - Emma covered some more buttons - you can see some of them here in her Etsy shop and Nikki covered some buttons and then made them into fabulous rings to sell at craft fairs! 

Thanks for taking part ladies, it was lots of fun :)

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Advent Goodies

I'm taking part in the Advent Swap organised by Lynda from Hookin' with Laa Laa and thought I'd better get round to showing you some of the goodies I've received so far! 

It's been great fun having one of open every day!

Here are the gifts I have opened so far -

We have - Christmas cupcake cases, the softest socks EVER!, a cross-stitch bookmark, 3 jingle bells, some 'Merry Christmas' ribbon and the piece of fabric that it's all sitting on.  The photo doesn't do it any justice - it's actually all glittery and sparkly and is a really beautiful wintery scene. 

I can't show you what I sent to my partner, Sarah, just yet as I took a group photo of everything together so it will have to go on the list of things I've to show you after Christmas.