I’ve been crafting in different guises for a few years now and I can remember when I was in my late teens and early twenties I would get a lot of giggles when I divulged that I enjoyed curling up and knitting or getting stuck in to a big sewing project. For me, the ability to craft was something I was born with. I was always drawing, painting, colouring and creating as a child and was encouraged to do so. I was always looking to learn how to make things in different ways. I won prizes and, being very socially awkward, would hide them away.
So what is the state of play like with crafting in a world that seems to be painfully digital? Even as I am typing this blog, I am getting texts on my phone, my Twitter notifications are pinging and I am receiving email. For me, crafting was and is about escapism. When I make something, I feel at peace. I relax which is a rarity. My family know if I have been making something because I am a much easier person to live with. I am animated when I talk about my creations. When I started Sew8Bit, I definitely wanted to intertwine my love of gaming, crafting and technology in one exciting bolt of modern crafting cloth. I really feel like I am starting to achieve that aim through the use of modern technology to showcase traditional techniques.
This week, I became a Twitch Affiliate. For the uninitiated, Twitch is a website where you can watch people do ‘stuff’. There are 3 main sections which are gaming (self explanatory), IRL (cooking, chat shows etc) and then there is Twitch Creative. You will find people doing any manner of creative endeavours such as game design, digital artwork, composing music, drawing, writing and crafting. Sew8Bit really lent itself to this medium because of the fact that it combines gaming with viewing. It would naturally lead gamers in to viewing because of the shared interest in games and game characters. The Affiliate Scheme, introduced in 2017, allows content creators to earn revenue for their streams (live content) by attracting subscribers and ‘bits’ – a unit akin to a Twitch ‘currency’ of support. To qualify, a commitment must be demonstrated by achieving certain benchmarks in your content creation. By transferring my 2 making days in to ‘Live Makes’, not only did I show my skills to a live audience, but I also was able to network with other makers, creators and potential customers.
Viewers often asked questions about the materials or equipment I was using and the techniques. It was interesting to find out that some people used to sew when they were younger but adult responsibility got in the way as they grew older. It reignited a crafting spark in them. Some began putting the stream on during the day while they worked from home or went about making their own creations. One viewer said it felt like an ‘art club’ and enjoyed speaking with other people whether they were like minded crafters themselves or just enjoyed the laid back atmosphere. Within the 30 day window required for Affiliate consideration, I had nearly 60 followers and streams that attracted viewers and chatters from 4 continents. Some are gamers who stream in the evenings (I have given up trying to do creative streams in the evenings as they tend to be just myself!) and some are craft streamers themselves. Some don’t stream at all as they prefer to watch. You can then follow each other and get ideas for developing and improving your own content or get inspiration for new projects. I’ve discovered stained glass makers, graffiti artists and woodworkers. I’ve also re-discovered Bob Ross…if you don’t know who he is I heartily recommend you go and enjoy some “happy little trees” with him. Through the means of a webcam, I can make my process accessible to those who are curious or want to learn. Maybe they are seeking their own project inspiration or just like the background nonsense I talk while they are doing their own thing at home or in the office.
21st Century technologies are making the process of creating much more accessible to those who wish to learn. I have helped a few people with sewing glitches of their own this week – and I only know the answer because I have created something similar myself or have watched it being solved elsewhere. TV shows like ‘The Great British Sewing Bee’ were crucial to my developing some of the skills I have today because I watched other people demonstrate them first. And in discussing these solutions with people during the streams or on social media in general, it helps me generate new ideas for the direction of Sew8Bit (and some really exciting ones are coming soon!). I am part way through a diploma which is ticking the boxes in terms of understanding the right terms and distinguishing between types of fabric, but distance learning with something like art and craft does have its limits. I’m a visual, active learner and need to experiment, watch, do, and feel in order to understand. The diploma is doing the job of giving things the right names, but nothing (for me) beats watching, or better DOING what I want to learn to make. Is live streaming my work going to pay the mortgage? No…or very very unlikely anyway. Sewing isn’t one of the ‘big hitters’ in terms of creative live streaming. That is the preserve of digital artistry really (Photoshop, illustration, design, digital drawing). I have seen a couple of Cosplayers doing some tutorials but they are more aimed at things like armour and make up rather than sewing.
This isn’t my usual style on this site as I tend to do things in a ‘casual journal blog’ type of format, but this was something I wanted to raise as a point for discussion. My husband uses Twitch Gaming to learn about bosses in World of Warcraft and get hints and tips about how to tackle them. I use Twitch Creative to talk about my creative process and share how to make things with others. I watch other makers on Twitch Creative for inspiration and tips. Have you used live streaming as a way to share or learn? I’d love to hear your views.
I’m really proud of this creation which is an admission that I’m not always prepared to make. The idea came about when I saw some acrylic resin purse clasps on Ebay back in September. They were made in China at a very low cost so I took the risk and ordered one to see what they were like. Then I forgot about it. Fast forward 3 months, this suddenly turned up on my doorstep (yes it took that long) and I was extremely impressed with the quality of it. It has the feel of something 3D printed but it very smooth with a beautiful soft finish. The frame is sturdy and would withstand repeated use which is obviously important.
Fast forward again and its January. I have a craft fair in the first week of March, so I decide that more of these frames would be perfect to make some cute purses for the fair. I wouldn’t have time to import from China but that’s ok…surely someone in the UK would make something similar. Ok, ok….someone in Europe? Disaster. I can’t actually source these anywhere BUT China. There were some shiny, not so attractive plastic alternatives but at over £6 per frame, would be way outside the parameters of being able to charge anything sensible to the customer to make the money back let alone with any cover for the fabric and labour.
I took to Twitter and many people recommended 3D printing a frame using a similar design. Not my forte and I don’t own a 3D printer. Then a lovely friend offered to have a go using his 3D printer. He didn’t have a template so he designed one himself. He drew up the designs based on photographs of the one I had already and then reproduced a rough copy. Oh my goodness, the man is a genius. Apart from being a slightly different material and obviously a rough finish, it is identical. He is definitely one to follow on Twitter if you are interested in that sort of thing because he managed to unpick my rambling explanations and even let me take photos of it against a ruler so I didn’t have to panic about the measuring side of things. Thanks Brian!
The make itself uses the orange, white and grey BB-8 Star Wars fabric. Only a minimal amount is required so its a really good make for using up odd ends of fat quarters. I chose a grey fabric for the lining. I hadn’t stitched a lining before, so this element didn’t quite go to plan. Instead of seaming the lining separately, I somehow got it in to my head that the lining would simply attach to the outer fabric with a normal seam, forgetting that this would be on show by the time it was turned out. As with so many makes, as I am self taught, its really a case of making something and learning by ‘doing’ (kinesthetic learning).
At the end of the make, the definitive finishing touch was the BB-8 Lego Star Wars key ring that attached to the little loop on the original frame. It really bought the design on the fabric together with all of the other elements and gave it a real edge – almost like a phone charm (that takes me back a few years and more!). It got me thinking about superhero fabrics matched with corresponding key rings or charms to add an extra ‘something’ to the makes. I think I am going to ask Brian to make a couple in each colour (obviously I’ll pay for his time and resources!) – we need to find a suitable method of screwing the frames together first of all! Long term, importing the frames is altogether cheaper and more efficient – especially if I buy in bulk. However this really saves the day when it comes to finding out if it is indeed something that would be ‘saleable’ by taking them to a real sales situation. Lesson learnt – plan ahead…and then some!
I thought I would write a little blog with some gift ideas for the forthcoming festive season. I’m very (VERY) aware it is only September but for a one man band, this is when we have to start pedalling our wares in order to meet (hopefully) high demand in the run up to Christmas. That and my sons birthday is the week before Christmas. It gets very frantic. With that in mind, if you intend to order something for a loved one and it isn’t a stock item, please don’t delay! Ordering details at the end of this article. I may end up having to close my order books if things look tight so please think ahead. If you aren’t sure if you will want to order something or even what to get, in at number 10 we have…..
10 – The Gift Voucher
My gift vouchers are gorgeous if I do say so myself. They have shiny foil block bits and everything. They also have a variety of uses that you may not have thought of. Yes, they do first and foremost make a great gift – especially for the gamer who has everything or loves everything. But they also could be used as a secret Santa gift for the awkward office colleague. What about on your own list to give to Grandma Mildred who otherwise would buy you doilies again? What about as a savings scheme…if you want something you can’t afford right away but don’t want to risk frittering the money on an impulse purchase, buy a voucher once a month or a couple of times a year. I keep a record of all the voucher sales so even if you lose your voucher, I can look it up.
9 – The Christmas Card with a Twist
The last time I sent a Christmas card was so long ago because I used to write them, pop the stamps on and forget to post them. However this card is a card and gift all in one. You can write inside it just like a regular card…it even has an envelope. But when teamed with a funky picture frame as an accompanying gift (sourced by you or by me) you also have an individual and unusual gift. The card also doesn’t have to be Christmas themed so it can be displayed all year round.
8 – Framed Pieces
Framed pieces look so good on the wall and can be absolutely customised to your hearts content and to suit your budget. They can also be personalised with text or dates for that extra special touch. You can go as wild as you like (well…depending on your budget obviously) to include anything from glitter thread and Swarovski crystals to multi aperture framed character studies. These pieces tend to take a while to get finished to the standard I am happy with so ordering early is imperative.
7 – Cushion Covers
I don’t know about you but I think cushions are so boring. Well….except the cushions I make because they are gaming cushions and guaranteed to get noticed. They are slip covers so can easily replace your existing covers or I can source the filling pad for you. Always washable too – none of this dry cleaning nonsense, plus they are guaranteed not to contain any cheesy inspirational phrases or itchy motifs. Cushions should be made to be squishy and snuggle-able so lets keep it that way.
6 – The Pouch
Sounds wrong but it’s sooooo versatile. From glasses to phones and Joy Con to scissors, a pouch can be made from any fabric and be left open or have a variety of closures fitted on request including magnetic clasps, Velcro, drawstring etc. These are the very simple version of the more luxury line of portable console protectors, but nonetheless very handy. A great little stocking filler.
5 – The Cross Stitched Phone Case
My phone case is like a walking advert for my business. Everyone immediately wants to talk about it, feel the stitches and ask questions. They are made of a silicone-like material with some very small holes that can be sewn through. They make several versions for different phone brands and sizes so I will be able to try and get a fit for your device. These would be really cool as a gift for someone getting a brand new phone as a present. Anything that survives my handbag and pockets is a good indicator of longevity so I can tell you from experience that these are made to last.
4 – Gamer Scarf
I’m running an awful risk here because I am having to publish this before I have finished an example. However the gamer scarf is, in my opinion, essential winter wear that keeps your head AND neck warm. It could be designed with different franchises in mind and adapted for your needs (I suffer with cold extremities so pockets will be needed on mine I think!). You get the gist from the illustration on the pattern but it really can be made to your liking. They are made from fleece materials so they are warm with the no-itch pain of woollen scarves.
3 – Bows and Bow Ties
For all genders – the bow has become a staple of the wardrobe either as a hair accessory or as a piece of formal attire. My bows are different in that they can be themed around favourite game characters. If you are thinking of a bow for a bow tie, hair clip, Alice band or even as a pin brooch to complement a bag or outfit, I am able to make one that would be reflective of your love of gaming. A great gift or stocking filler.
2 – The Luxury Pouch
Luxury pouch sounds even more wrong. But this is a high quality item for your portable device. This one is sized for the New 2DS/3DS XL but can be adapted to fit retro portables such as the Game Boy or Game Gear or other modern portables such as the PS Vita or even the Switch. Luxury pouches can also be used to house controllers that need a little extra protection. I’m a big portable gamer so I know the needs…my luxury pouches are soft fleece lined, double seamed on the corners to prevent splits and strong thread is used. The closure can be one of your choosing such as drawstring, Velcro or toggle/button. They are excellent for preventing damage through scratching, knocks and bumps. A really ideal item if you are a commuter who games on the go or just want an additional level of protection.
1 – The Dock Sock
Yes I spelt that right…hot tipped to be high on the lists of gamers everywhere is a Nintendo Switch. Even those who already have one might want a dock sock because of the inherent risk of screen scratches when docking and un-docking the screen section to game on the go. The little stick on screen protectors are OK but I know that I will get an air bubble in mine every single time. I also know that replacing a scratched screen isn’t an option. Enter the dock sock. Its a very simple little rectangular sock that pops over the front panel of the Switch and thereby reducing the risk of scratching when the screen is moved. They offer protection while being thin enough not to interfere with the charging dock mechanisms. They can also be made with your favourite games in mind and are small enough to store easily so that you could buy a few and change them as often as you change your own socks!
There hasn’t been a blog this week for a couple of reasons but mainly because its been 30+ Celsius all week long. I didn’t fancy adding to the sweat patches by poring over a hot computer and I was too tired and flustered to sew!
That being said I have had some awesome deliveries this week. The lovely team at Jaycotts sent me these beautiful patterns which I love and can think of so many ways of working with. I may use some of my scrap box to make some mock ups with as I think buying any more new fabrics at the moment wouldn’t be advised. Its a difficult balance to have enough to show what you can do while at the same time not eating every penny of your savings. I don’t know yet what people will and wont like so I’m trying to be sensible with my outlay.
I also went hunting on Ebay for more remnants which turned up some lovely Zelda and Pokemon fabrics.
I also got a generic ‘gamer’ motif with a game boy style picture but I’m not sold on the fabric it is printed on. Going to have to think carefully about what that will suit. I must also diversify my subject matter a bit. Always far too tempting to buy ‘safe’ fabrics or patterns!
The Aztec style Zelda print will be used to up-cycle a lampshade which is looking good so far and has been quite a discussion point on Twitter this week.
I’ve also been ironing out the finer points in the admin department too. Terms and Conditions are now finalised. I’m waiting for the stationary to go to print as my husband hasn’t had a spare moment to set it all up but its not too urgent (yet!). I’ve started building a pricing structure and have considered a few more product lines as well which is good progress. One of the final steps will be formally registering as self-employed after my contract finishes on 21st July. I’ve been doing some fantastic networking with fellow creative minds via the Guild of Makers chat on a Wednesday evening on Twitter using the hashtag #makershour. I’ve had a lot of insight and support from fellow creators (business owner and hobbyist alike) and I’d really recommend that for anyone with a creative mind. Some of the talent out there is staggering and gives me a lot of ambition.
I’ve a very busy few weeks coming up including a church fun day with a Star Wars theme. The costume is nearly finished so I will show you my creation when it is done. We also have multiple weddings, birthdays and summer meet ups to come so a good work-life balance will definitely be essential. Don’t forget that you can now subscribe to the newsletter to get a monthly digest of makes, competitions, coupons and more. I also have my Patreon running now and would love any support there as an ongoing subscription or you can donate a one off gift via the Amazon Wishlist. All this will help me during my start up period where things are going to get legitimately crazy I think! I also need to plan my first live Twitch Creative stream as I can’t wait to get that off the ground. I do need a second camera for that though and some sort of contraption to dangle it from! If only there were more than 24 hours in a day!!
BREXIT IS COMING
We have no information as to how duty will work after the inevitable exit from the European Union.
This may result in an increase in costs for postage outside of the UK. Please be assured that any cost passed on to you will be kept to a minimum. However, you may wish to order ASAP if you wish to avoid any possible increases.