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Blog: 6 Months Later

I really have been neglecting both the blog and the website. The thing is, I am enjoying the live interaction of social media so much that I sort of forget that its here! In the blink of an eye, I am 6 months in to the Sew 8-Bit journey and so much has happened that I thought it would be a good time to take stock and get things down on paper (well…digital paper) for prosperity, learning, sharing and just to remind myself of the journey I have been on. As with my other blogs I will probably sub-divide in to themed paragraphs in order to keep it clear. There will be projects that I go in to detail over in separate blogs too. I’d love to know which ones you would like to know more about.

Traffic

I’m using the term traffic to refer to any ‘presence’ that I have online with the business and generally via word of mouth or events. Bascially speaking, the people who hear about the business and then any custom that is generated from that. As I mentioned above, the website has sort of been a bit of an afterthought these last few months. I think it doesn’t have the interactivity of the social media routes which makes it harder to remember to use. Actually it is getting a few hits a day…not many but then pushing content would generate more hits. Vicious cycle. Its an important method of sharing a ‘portfolio‘ of work and getting in to meatier projects. In future, I’d love some tutorials on here for basic sewing projects and to tie that in with YouTube and Patreon. However, as with all things, I am very limited on time until my son starts school in September (eeek!) so I think that is going to be the long game. In the immediate future though, assigning time to maintaining the site once a week is key. Social media ticks over anyway as its part of my daily habit over a coffee or three. I’ve also found people spotting my makes (such as my phone case) when out and about and its been lovely to gain interest about what I do. I have begun to carry a couple of business cards on my person as a result!

Cross Stitching

The cross stitching was initially the biggest part of what I did but it has now become more of a background. I think the labour costs for something like that can be off-putting so it is something people are more likely to save for and then purchase larger pieces. I have, however, sold some cards via my Etsy store in the run up to Christmas and worked with a client to produce a big Count Duckula piece as a gift for his mother but also in remembrance of his uncle. It looked really effective once completed and the initials embroidered on there really made it personal. Moving forward, I think I will stick to making small stock cross stitched pieces but nothing big/framed unless it is ordered.

 

 

 

 Drawing

Drawing is really not something I had intended for S8B. I shared a couple of drawings with friends and from there shared some publicly and then my mum got hold of one and it went from there. People seem to love having drawings of their pets! I completed a few before Christmas and they went off to become gifts – I’ve had feedback from one of them which was very positive. Some of my drawings of birds of prey will be made in to greetings cards to sell cheaply as a low cost item to go on the Etsy shop or take to craft fairs as they are a great way of making sales when people are maybe not as interested in the characters on fabrics or cross stitched designs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sewing

I feel like I am growing with every little bit I stitch both in learning and confidence. I am getting more experimental as well, creating my own pattern for a Nintendo Switch case in one case and using new techniques such as pleats, darts, french seams and pocket making. I have also started considering how my sewing could help people. A while ago I noticed a plea on Twitter by a mum who needed a protective belt for her son who was tube fed. Working together, we talked through everything that the belt needed and I went away and created a bespoke item. Sensory cushions and ‘taggies’ (fabric with things to ‘fiddle’ with) have been a starting point for me as a woman with autism (and experience in education) but I am really interested in this area and am looking at ways of creating more ‘solutions based’ projects in the future. The people at Pimoroni have been particularly helpful in this respect as they have sent me some of their sew-able electronics to try on a cushion for a young lad with autism who loves light patterns, so I’d like to thank them for that. I’ll keep you updated with the progress on that one!

The other big sewing news is the new machine! Hooray I finally have a new machine and not the old tank. I will definitely miss the old girl and was so grateful for the loan while I got started but having a machine I can lift is, in itself, amazing! I chose a Brother Innov-is 55FE in the end. I had set my sights on something a bit fancier but after discussing it with a number of people, I came to the conclusion that there is no point in running before I can walk. That being said, the new machine is amazing and is so quiet compared to the Bernina; which was a 50 year old metal tank but will outlast the human race. The machine is digital too so it has little things that help me make my sewing processes quicker and simpler.

 

Craft Fairs and Networking

Using the fantastic ‘Goodbye 2017, Hello 2018’ booklet that came from Selina¬† and Vicki at Project Love, I really drilled down in to the 2018 I wanted to have. One of the things on the list was to network with other makers. Part of this is coming from Guild of Makers which has helped me make some lovely connections. Aside from the online networking, I really want to try and get out in to the real world this year to connect with other makers and try to sell some things along the way. Easier said than done – I am quite the introvert! I did, however, find a craft fair in March that is in my local village hall. I don’t think it will earn me very much but the set up fee was very low and I think it will just help me get over the first anxieties and dip my toe in the water with talking to people about what I do.

2018 is definitely going to be a big year in terms of the development of what I can do and what I want to do. Watch this space!

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Project: Abe from the Oddworld Series

Andrew is a good friend of mine and was practically chomping at the bit to get an order in. I have worked with him for over a year now in my other role at Orange Bison. In the end I decided that 7 days wouldn’t be a disaster and let him make the order early (I’m so nice lol!). It also gave me a chance to test things like live streaming and stage by stage commentary on Twitter. Andrew was up for this so we struck a bargain.

Andrew had a favourite character in mind – Abe. Abe is a character from a species called the Mudokon’s. He is seen by his race as a Messiah figure who will lead them out of slavery and to a happier life free from oppression. He is a big, green/purple, lumbering character who tends to be clumsy yet endearing. Recently, the franchise was re-booted for the PS4.

Andrew wanted a fairly large piece but had a budget which was helpful for me to work with. This dictated the level of detail I could work in, the size and the frame type. He took advantage of the launch discount which was great! Abe was sewn on white Aida and had approximately 25 different colours – DMC floss was chosen for this project with two strands sewn throughout. I used an 8 inch hoop to support the work to ensure the tension would be even throughout. I didn’t want the Aida puckering around the silhouette of Abe and ruining the effect.

There were quite a few challenges with this piece. Many of the colours looked similar on the software I had used to build the pattern (to my eyes). I therefore need to ensure that I am using coded patterns with a key as opposed to colour patterns. The colours were very scattered and so it look a lot of time to build the image up as there were very few solid blocks of colour. This also meant that my original estimate for the time the work would take was much less than the actual time taken. I think this is a positive learning curve though and showed me that it would be quite valuable to track the hours that I do put in to a piece so that I am not just estimating all the time. I will then be able to give a more accurate measure of my speed across different sized pieces of work.

I have to say I really enjoyed the ability to live stream myself creating on Twitch. Not only was it great that Andrew could watch the development of his piece, but I also spoke to other sewers too and we had a great chat. Definitely something that will become a regular feature for Sew 8-bit!

The piece was framed in a deep frame to preserve the stitching (on big pieces, glass against the embroidery can make everything look a bit mushed) and selected a black painted 20cm square wooden frame. I’d love to know what you think of the images in the gallery – taken at each stage completed. Drop me a comment!

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