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Blog: Catch up and Fill in

You may have noticed, if you follow me on social media or Twitch. that there is a glaring gap in my presence from late February until last week. I’d love to say that I went on an exotic holiday. Maybe I won the lottery? Definitely not.

It started with a pain in the crook of my elbow. I had done a load of hand sewing the previous day and assumed I had irritated some sort of tendon or muscle. Within 12 hours there was a raised hot welt about the size of a £2 coin which then was about the size of my fist 24 hours later. My mum in law is a nurse and she thought it was cellulitis so up I went to the out of hours doctor and got antibiotics. It got better. Then worse. Much worse. Then I developed clots in the veins. Those spread from my wrist to my shoulder. 2 more courses of antibiotics and steroids followed and we thought we were winning until I suddenly couldn’t breathe. One ambulance ride and a lot of tests later, it was discovered that the clots were now in both of my lungs (pulmonary embolism). Which is pretty firmly in the ‘can be life threatening’ category. What complicated matters is that my pre-existing conditions meant it took practically a UN summit to decide on what medication was safe to take. 2 months later, I can honestly say I am beginning to feel better. I am still phenomenally tired and want to nap every 4 hours (good luck with that when you have a cat and a child!) and still have residual pain in the chest plus some arm swelling. The NHS, although pushed to their absolute limits and therefore slow, were fantastic and I hate to think what would have happened if we didn’t have that wonderful service access when it is needed.

So that scrubbed the last week in February, the whole of March and half of April. I had projects on hold which I knew needed finishing and that was quite stressful. Luckily the clients concerned were really understanding. It isn’t easy being self employed and then falling ill, particularly with something that has you bed bound for a number of weeks AND when it involves the very limbs you use to create with! There isn’t sick pay or someone else who can pick up the slack for you. You do feel an enormous sense of panic when you cannot complete something you have started in a timely fashion.

March was also spent in chocolate abstinence. When I told people I was giving up chocolate to raise money for the British Heart Foundation during their DECHOX event, I was met by a spectrum of response from concern, to laughter, to admiration, to ridicule! My name is Hannah and I am a chocoholic. Badly. I love everything chocolatey and this was a huge test (especially when running concurrent to illness and therefore moping). But I raised over £500 for BHF and some lovely folk sent me some delicious treats to celebrate the end of the challenge. Apparently I will be receiving a medal in due course which is very exciting. My mum and my great uncle both have pacemakers due to heart problems and the BHF were a really helpful resource when I was coming to terms with my mums condition.

In other news, I welcomed a new nephew in March – baby Harry! As per my other nephew, I made some bunting with his name on to match his bedroom. I will post some pictures up when I can finally find a space to lay it all out properly. I’m not the best at photographing my creations! I did a quick scrap buster solution to donate to a little boy with sensory needs at my old school. Quite tricky to make when you have sensory needs yourself and just want to play with the fabrics! I also made some ears and a tail for the lovely Octav1us Kitten, star of YouTube and many other projects to come. I’m going to blog about that separately as the process was quite a new one for me, but there are some photos here to show you the outcome. I also finished a stack of promotional cushions for the team at The Code Show, who have a brilliant travelling computing museum. What a time to be alive when the machines you played on as a child are now in a museum haha!

I have plans in the pipeline. My wonderful cosplay for my appearance at PLAY London in August will now not be happening. There’s no way I can complete it properly and take on clients and be a mum and sleep. I will still make it eventually but for now, time and finances preclude starting that one. I have a couple of patterns to make some summer dresses for myself. I purchased these in the whole 5 days of hot weather we had recently – like any true Brit! I have a secret project in the works which you are going to love, but requires a financial outlay so I am just weighing up my options on that front. We also have a new member of the family joining us in two weeks time, Merlin the kitten. Very excited! One last point, if you nip over to Twitter, I am running a gift voucher competition to celebrate reaching 500 followers. Be in it to win it!

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Pre-Launch Update 5: All the Things No-one Told You

It’s been bedlam this week. Not only am I trying to organise the arts and crafts for a big church community event this weekend, I’m also trying to finish my costume for said event and cope with a vicious series of migraines. All (apart from the migraines) are super fun things to be doing, but the first time I have done them so its been a learning process. That being said, I’m so close to launch now I can almost taste it (or that might just be fear lol!). 

At this stage of the game I’m hitting the “all the things no-one told you” wall. No-one told me there would be a delicate balance of running a business and running a home and if you got it wrong you would find yourself with no clean bedding, several (in my case) truly spectacular meltdowns and mad rushes to the shops for food, birthday presents and toilet paper. Seeing as I have difficulties in organisation and time management anyway, my husband and I have been working through some strategies to work on this including a system of colour coded post-it notes, to-do lists that pop up on my computer screen, a pin board and by streamlining all of my accounting/invoicing systems. I’m a really visual person so the more colourful things dotted around, the better really.

 

 

Something else no-one ever told me – how to price your time. I can price materials with no problem at all, but time is something completely different. Are people going to pay me minimum wage for hand sewing? Am I over/under selling myself? From my conversations with fellow makers via the Guild of Makers #makershour on a Wednesday night on Twitter, I have found this is a huge hurdle for so many people wanting to start out as well as jargon in setting up and finding your own little niche in the market. I know a good friend and fellow maker Tim Nicholls is hoping to prepare some guidance about the subject of pricing hand made items in the next month or so. I’ll point you in the direction of it when its published. If you are a new maker either as a business or hobby, I’d really encourage you to get involved with Guild of Makers to meet like minded creators and just share the ups and downs of making. You get some really good ideas and inspiration to boot.

 

 

There’s been some great firsts this week. I hit 150 followers on Twitter, send my first bespoke piece estimate, officially registered for my self-employed status and started conversations with a few people about the work they are dreaming of ordering. Fingers crossed. Not long now.  Oh and yes these photos are entirely random – just some nice photos showing a bit of my life outside of the sewing machine for your entertainment really as I don’t have much to show sewing wise today!

 

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Pre-Launch Post 2: Big Steps


Well the logo designs are coming in thick and fast now from my husband. We have a panel with 12 designs to go through that we are taking to show some like minded people this weekend for their opinions. It’s been quite difficult making the branding come together when 8-bit and sewing aren’t usually two things you would put in the same situation.

I’ve found a fantastic accounting software called Wave (https://www.waveapps.com/) which is a very simple to use, free software that is useful for start-ups such as myself. The only thing you get charged for are the payment processing fees (which you would via PayPal in any case) so I’ve been busy adding my services to that and beginning to learn how to generate estimates and invoices.

I’ve also written some terms and conditions for my services. This is really important when a lot of my work will be commissioned. Definitely makes me and any potential client feel more secure if they know exactly where they stand.

I need to produce an inventory of all of my stuff so that I can track when I need to buy more of particular thread colours or fabrics. It will also help me keep a track of the equipment I own so that I don’t go out and purchase something I already have.

Aside from this its pretty much all the legal bits – registering with HMRC, sorting the banking side, checking if I need to pay NI contributions and also updating any agencies that I am going to be self-employed. That’s a really important one to consider so that you don’t miss out on any entitlements but you also don’t receive any sanctions (especially if you claim anything that is means tested – I don’t but I like to cover my back!)

I’m also working hard trying to bring the website together and go back to find photos of anything I’ve made in the past. Some photos are MUCH better quality than others so I’m hoping they will do me a turn until I produce newer things that can be photographed properly.

Thanks for reading!

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Pre-Launch Post 1: Welcome

Welcome to Sew 8 Bit! I don’t launch until August so I want to use the time in the run up to keep you up to date with how the business is coming along.

This is my first business and I’m very nervous but excited. I’ve bought domains and secured social media spaces so far which is a big first step in the journey of the brand. Self employment is ideal for me as I have a young family and autism. Working in this way will allow me to feel useful, earn money and contribute to society a bit without causing myself undue worry, stress or anxiety. The dot com domain will be patched over the WordPress branded domain a little closer to launch to keep my costs down a bit just in case things get delayed.

This week, I’ve been researching the complex world of the self employed person including HMRC, Tax, Self Assessment, Branding etc etc etc. Little bit freaked out about doing my accounts and taxes but I’m sure I will learn very quickly. Building the brand is pretty much being taken care of by my husband using his background in graphic design.

I’m self taught in sewing for the most part. I’ve embarked on a distance learning sewing diploma which has both theory and practical modules. Mercifully have passed the first 3 I’ve submitted so I know I’m not totally useless 😀

A little more about me? Well I taught primary school children for 10 years before leaving to have my son and reconsider my options (it wasn’t doing my health much good). After being loaned a sewing machine for a project I was quickly hooked. Iv’e been a cross stitcher (as in sewing crosses not being a grumpy sewer…usually lol!) since a child so I had that string to my bow and it all came together from there. I also occasionally dabble in other crafts such as Hama Beads, drawing and knitting.

I’m looking forward to the venture and in keeping you updated about the progress towards the launch. Until next time!