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Blog: October Review

The business is constantly evolving and tweaking at the moment. It’s strange as I always assumed I would have an idea and that would be it. However I’m learning very quickly that one task or piece can lead to another that is quite different yet still relevant to what you love doing. As I have made several pieces this month, I thought that doing a general monthly blog would be better suited. This will probably be the format for future blogs as it gives me a good quantity to talk about while still being manageable to fit in to my often hectic life.

Sensory Cushions

‘Mermaid’ Sequinned fabric with envelope closing. Removable weighted pad insert to support sensory based therapies.

As someone with autism myself, it was such a pleasure to be able to make these cushions for a family to support their children’s additional needs. Each one was made with a different front and back (we all know that kids want their ‘own’ item!) and had a weighted removable pouch inside. The weighting is very therapeutic for many with additional needs and can reduce anxiety and manage behaviour(s). I can tell you now that sequinned fabric is a nightmare to work with being that its so slippery! My machine went through the sequins with no problem, however the fabric often slumped or wrinkled without me noticing and its A LOT harder to undo than create a seam using this stuff! Another problem was maintaining my focus when working with the weighting and the sequins as they really appealed to me and relaxed me to the point where I just wanted to sleep! All being said and done though, they were really appreciated by the client and will be an exciting Christmas Day treat for some lucky boys.

 

 

 

 

Hair Bows

Large bow size in hair for reference

I’m one of those people that loves to use every scrap of fabric. Throwing stuff away is definitely not in my nature – I’ve even been known to make products that reuse fabric (such as some pillowcases that I picked up that were unused but perfect for my Switch Case which I’ll show off shortly). Seeing as we live on a planet where it seems easier to throw away than recycle, I try to use everything to the max including reusing packaging. So I came up with the idea of using leftover character fabric to make bows. They have a simple ‘crocodile’ type slide on the back and require only a small amount of fabric. The bows have to be hand finished as its too small for the machine which takes a little more time, but its something I can do in bulk at the end of another project to use up any leftovers. It makes for a great pocket money item as well for those who want something fun but can’t afford a big spend – especially for the kids as stocking fillers.

 

 

 

 

Switch Console Case

The Switch case has a fleece lined pocket for the console plus space for 3 carts, a cable/headphones and a boxed game.

One of my favourite makes ever, the Switch case was actually born out of necessity. I had a hospital appointment recently which involved waiting around for an hour to trial a new drug and see if it was suitable. The Switch was the perfect distraction but I had to wrap it in a hand towel as I had no case! I therefore decided to create my own case from the pattern to the finished product. It involved making a paper mock up initially as I wanted to be sure that the net I produced would go together and that the measurements would be correct. I do lack confidence when measuring and I’ve found that this is the best way to manage without wasting expensive fabric with wrong cuts! Inevitably there was a lot of swearing, shouting and frustration. Sewing things together doesn’t always mean doing them in the order you expect. I sewed the lining and then realised that my pocket needed to have been stitched to the top fabric first…very simple but impacts on the finish of the product at the end. I certainly learnt a lot by making my own pattern – especially about the need to learn how to effectively box corners which I can now do moving forward. I live streamed the make which I LOVE doing and then popped it over on my YouTube if you would like to take a look. It has been received very well and I’ve had a commission on the back of it which is great.

 

 

 

 

 

Personal/Development 

I lost a good two weeks this month to my back problems yet again. I’ve been assessed by a physio and am looking to get treatment. It does however really have an impact on my mood (if I can’t make things I’m sad) and naturally the business as well. Then my son was really poorly with this horrid virus going around and that was, as you might expect, all consuming. My parents are moving house (today in fact!) owing to their health so that has been very much an ongoing factor in life at the moment. All of this added up has also made my anxiety pretty rubbish but I’m finding that making really is the best therapy for this. I hit 300 followers and surpassed it on Twitter this month and the #MakersHour hashtag run by @GuildofMakers (Run by @DrLucyRogers) is really helping me build up like minded contacts which is always good for a lift but also inspiration for new makes. I’ve had some particularly great interaction this month with Rachel (@KonichiwaKitty) and Tash (@CaffinatedCraft) who make pieces that really motivate and inspire me. I’m undertaking some coaching with the lovely Tim Nicholls (@Guessonomics) who is a good friend and mentor. I’m finding it really great to bounce ideas off a fellow maker and generally have a giggle and socialise (be it via Skype owing to the distance) – its good, as Tim discussed on Twitter this month, to find an effective way of making your work and your life one and the same in a positive and healthy way. I’ve got something really exciting in development as a result which I’m hoping will take off and underpin the Sew 8-Bit brand. It really is so exciting when an idea starts to form that you can really see working out. I’ve also started uploading ‘Live Makes’ to YouTube and ordered my very first set of Sew 8-Bit tags for sewing it to makes which felt very pro! Let’s see what November brings.

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Blog: The Monday after the launch before

Well I wasn’t sure what I expected on launch day but nearly 250 hits on the website in 24 hours certainly slightly exceeded whatever I had in my head. First and foremost I want to thank everyone for an amazing first week. Although not much has been sold as such, I’ve gained around 100 more followers and am starting to build the brand up. All of my branded packaging came through this week as well as my gift vouchers too. They look so professional and I am simply thrilled with what Bison were able to do for me. 

I have really enjoyed broadcasting my crafting on Twitch and beginning to connect with fellow crafter’s using that medium. It’s also a nice way to keep a record of what I am doing without bombarding social media with photographs. This was particularity the case with the Abe piece that got a lot of attention through this joint medium. I also did a quick make of a children’s bow tie as well – very much liking the quick make concept so this might become another good live feature. When the summer holidays are over, I will definitely be able to commit to more in the way of a definitive schedule. 

Knowing where and how to sell pieces is the bain of every makers existence from what I can gather. From pricing makes to selling websites, it can be very difficult to find where the right place is to sell without getting stung on fees or tripping over regulations. I’m leaning towards Etsy as it is THE place for handmade items but getting noticed in a busy marketplace is quite a challenge. Definitely one to keep working on and researching. 

I got some new machine sewing patterns this week in a sale which I hope to have a practice of and add to my repertoire. Some are simpler than others so it will be a case of when and where I have the time available to actually sit and devote the time and concentration space to do this properly. It also helped me recall my hatred of pattern cutting (why is it so cumbersome?!). I need to win the lottery so I can build a big extension with a huge luxurious cutting table instead of using my floor I think!

This week I am very busy but hope to do some quick and small pieces to add to the collection that is available from stock. My thinking is that this will be the best way to open an Etsy store and then if any commissions arise, I can slot those in very easily. Once again, thanks for all the support and for keeping up with the blog. I’m excited for everything ahead, but I often wish there were more hours in the day to get it all done. If you have any tips for staying organised, I’d love to hear them in the comments. 

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Project: Zelda ‘Link’ Cushion

Hi there. It is such a hot day here that having an old and hot sewing machine really hasn’t worked to my advantage but I successfully sorted a project out that I’ve been waiting to do for ages. Now that we have moved things about at home and I have more room to get my machine out whenever I want to, it is so much easier to snatch opportunities as they arise.

 

 

My current machine – Bernina Minimatic 870. It’s old and temperamental but we have an understanding!

I ordered a remnant from eBay quite some time ago now that was just screaming to be used. It was a ‘fat quarter’ size but didn’t have very straight cuts so it needed thought as to how best to use the fabric. I decided that as I had some poly-cotton oddments in black and this Zelda fabric, a cushion cover would be a safe bet. I had a spare cushion pad that measured 40 x 40cm which was ideal for the fabric pieces that I had. Plus, I’m ever the one for using every scrap of fabric possible and hate to throw anything away. This size left me a nice simple strip of fabric over from the Zelda fat quarter which I aim to turn in to something new soon (I have a plan but I need a pattern).

 

Peekaboo! The motif is vibrant without being garish.

This project took about 2.5-3 hours as I wasn’t using a pattern (although I had made this type of cover before). The two pieces of 40 x 40cm were the first to be joined (with a standard allowance added when cutting) using a simple black cotton and a running stitch down the bottom of the cover and 1/3 of the way up each side. I then attached the overlap flap to the top of the cover and joined it to the remaining open sides. All visible seams were made neat before the joining process so that where the overlap was looked tidy and crisp.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Not a particularly challenging project but I think the pattern looks well centred. The range of colours in the print are going to compliment lots of different existing decors and the design is really pretty without being too feminine.

I realised as I turned the item out that the bottom flap overlapped the top rather than the traditional vice versa. I considered unpicking but actually it looks perfectly fine and there is no sag or puckering as a result. I haven’t added a Velcro fastening because as someone who has animals, a child and cushions with Velcro on…it collects hair, cheerios and fuzzy felts. The cover fits the cushion I have well, however there is a little wiggle room to account for any variation in the chosen filling (Feather cushions tend to make a much plumper cushion for example).

 

Looks gorgeous on my office chair!

 

I will be selling these in the shop either as stock or to order and will be available with or without the cushion filling (useful for those wishing to recycle existing cushion fillings or keep costs down a little). I’d love to hear what you think and what sort of cushion you would order for your own home!