Tag Archives: Craft

To Market, to Market. Part 3 – 10 things to remember to take with you

I started this post a couple of weeks ago, when I was preparing to attend my first market (after a long break) but decided to wait until the market was over before completing it, so that I could share my experiences along with a check list.  What I have put together is a general list of things to take with you,  that you can use as a guide for your own market preparation.   And hopefully you will learn from my mistakes!

I can report that I really enjoyed the market.  I sold enough to make it financially worthwhile, got to test out my displays, my packing and my products, and I was able to talk to customers.  I even sold one of the tea cosies that my mum knitted (as well as a few of my own!)  Overall it was a great start on my journey back to markets.   I made a few mistakes but recovered from them, and learnt a lot at the same time.

  1. Shelter

Is your market indoors or outdoors?    If it is outdoors are you going to have shelter provided or will you need your own.  In my case I have a 3m x 3m portable gazebo that I can erect for outside markets, so that is on my checklist.   If you are attending an indoor market it pays to check whether you are allowed to set up gazebos inside as many markets will not allow it.

If you are outside remember to have something to secure your gazebo or marquee in case of strong winds.  (Yes – something I forgot to take with me).   You can buy weights for the legs or make them yourself – just remember them and remember to put them in place because it would be quite disastrous to have your shelter fly across the market ground if the wind picks up!

It also pays to think about whether you need walls for your structure.   I had two walls with me, but as I ended up on a corner site I only used one, as a backdrop.

My set up at an outdoor market with the back wall up.

2. Display furniture

How are you displaying your products? I will be taking a table, some shelves, a screen and some boxes that provide different heights for displays.   Doing a run through at home is always good so that you know how things will look on the day.  Make a list of all your props so that you can check them off in your packing.   Then be prepared for changes.   My stall was moved to a corner position on the night, so it would have been useful to have a second table – something I will definitely be taking next time.    I am also thinking about floor covering – it makes a difference!

The shelves worked well to display the tea cosies but I wasn’t happy with the rest of my display – tweaking is required!

3.  Cloths and props

A table cloth that reaches the ground is an important part of a good market set up. Apart from making your table look good it also gives you an excellent storage spot that is out of sight. I find it handy for hiding the storage boxes that my products are carried in so they are at hand for packing up at the end of the market.

If you are using props for your display these need to be on your list. Most of my props are teapots for displaying my tea cosies so I need to remember these otherwise there will be some floppy crocheted piles on my shelves!

It is a bonus when your props double as storage

4. Lighting

Lighting is important whether you are at an indoor or outdoor event.  Events indoors can sometimes be gloomy so having some lighting to brighten your display is a great way of attracting customers.   Outdoor events that go into the evening will definitely benefit from lighting, and even daytime outdoor events can be gloomy so some lighting to brighten your space will help.

The range of possibilities for lighting is wide.  If you don’t have access to power during your market then the range of solar lighting is large and affordable these days.  I have some rice-paper-style globes from Ikea that are solar powered that cost about $15 and add light in a nice way.  Another option is battery powered lights – rechargable or not.   I have a rechargable flourescent light that gives great lighting (from the auto section at a hardware shop) and fairy lights from Big W that run on two AA batteries.  All of these provide flexible lighting solutions……if you remember to pack them.  Ahem.   If the bright light is still plugged into it’s charger on the bench at home it isn’t much use when night falls…..

If you do remember to take your lights, make sure you know how you are going to attach them to your display and pack cable ties, bluetack, hooks etc, depending on your needs.

5. Signage

I have a banner with a stand lets people know who I am and what I am selling.  One of the best responses I had to my banner was from a man who said ‘I know that name, ‘a little bird made me’.   Let me think – your mother is Elizabeth, and you are Theresa and you live out in Bywong.’   It turns out he is the local courier who delivers my parcels – that my mother always signs for.

6. Bags and packaging

When people buy your products it pays to be able to package them so that they will travel home from the market safely.   Paper bags with handles suit most items, but have a think about the size of your products and make sure you have bags that suit those items best.  I have carry bags that will accommodate cups and saucers, and tea cosies but a pair of earring would be lost in them, so I will have smaller bags for those small items.    If you have a fragile product it is good to be able to wrap it in tissue paper or bubble wrap to cushion it on it’s trip home.   Having your packaging branded is good to do before hand too – in my case I use a stamp with my logo to mark the bags as being from my business.

7.  Admin Box.

This is the box that holds all the things that you will need for each market, so that you don’t have to find and pack them everytime.  The admin box is where you put:

     (a)  Business cards or fliers

People like to take a card so that they can look you up when they next want a product like yours, so having a pile of cards or fliers is an easy way to ensure return custom.   They also provide a great discussion point with customers who are asking whether you sell on line etc.

     (b) Float

You need to be ready to give change to the first customer who comes along!   And it helps if you remember the KEY to your cash box and don’t leave it sitting on the bench at home, 20 kms away.   Ahem.   Luckily my parents willingly drove home, found the key and returned it to me.  After all of that I didn’t have to make change for any customer – they all had the right money or used my card facilities!

    (c) Credit card facility

Again – if you have the facility for people to pay by card they are more likely to purchase from you.  Make sure you have any connecting hardware, that you have tested it and that you know how to operate it.   If your eftpos facility gives paper receipts carry a spare roll.

   (d) Notebook and pen

For taking orders, fo writing reminders to yourself about what has worked and what hasn’t, for writing out notes for customers, or taking down phone numbers, this is important to have.

    (e) Repair kit

Accidents happen, both to your products and to your display.   Having a small kit with sticky tape and duct tape, a screwdriver, scissors, pins, and whatever else you might need for your set up is sensible.

    (f) Chargers

Because there is nothing worse than running out of battery on your phone, your eftpos facility, your lights etc.   Having the right charger cords and plugs, plus a power bank if there is no power provided, takes a lot of stress out of managing your stall.

8. Price tags

The best way to ensure sales is to have the prices for your products clearly marked.  If people have to interrupt you serving another customer to ask how much something is they will often walk away instead of asking. If you can’t put a price on each item, make sure that you have clear and easily visible signs that announce the prices.   Ikea picture frames are handy for making your signs look professional without breaking the bank.

9. Drink bottle and a snack

Keeping hydrated helps you to maintain your energy levels while you serve customers. A low mess snack to help keep your energy levels up is important. High protein snacks like nuts are a good option here.

10. Product!

No point going to a market if you have nothing to sell!    Make a list of your products and then tick them off as you pack them, so that nothing is missed out and left behind,   Then check that you have packed all your boxes in the car so that you haven’t left one behind either (not my mistake but a very common one for other people I know!)

Having a box for each product category helps keep track of what you are packing

 

If you have other ideas that you think should be added to the list do let me know!

Being business like

A few weeks ago a recent acquaintance asked me if my ‘making ‘ was a business or a hobby. I have been pondering this ever since. A couple of years ago the answer was straightforward- business. I had a plan, I made enough profit that I had to pay tax and there was regular money making activity going on.

Then I had a break for over a year. Little income, no regular activity and no plan. Until 3 months ago when something clicked and I started making again. At first it was just making for making’s sake but it has grown again and while I don’t yet have a fully laid out business plan I do have some vague mental ideas about where I am going! Some of it is instinctual from my earlier time in business and some of it is aspirational because I continue to daydream that my life will magically change to create space for me to have time to be successful. A lot of it is held back by my pessimism/reality checks that my plans are so often undone by family life and my resultant mental health. So I ask myself, like a mantra, ‘hobby or business , hobby or business?’

Where does the line cross from one to another? For me I think it comes with making decisions about ‘making’ in a profitable, repeatable way. My crazy crocheted tea cosies where I create a whole new pattern for each piece? Hobby. I don’t recover the cost of time spent in making each piece if I apply a business model. But do I love making them? Yes!!!! Reusable tea bags? Business. Now that testing has finished I have a repeatable process for making, marketing and selling them.

All the things in between? Some land on the side of hobby, some cross the line to business. What to do with all of that? At this stage my approach is that it is all business. The unique, one of a kind, time intensive creations are attention getters that have a marketing function. The repeatable patterns that can be made in batches cover the costs of making the one off pieces. It all works together to fund materials, marketing and growth.

I also think that for me, thinking of what I am doing as a business helps to add a piece of self esteem back into a life where I previously self-identified as successful through my career achievements – a business is something that is about me, something that other people admire, something I can succeed at. (Because let’s face it, any judgement on my success as a parent and carer won’t really be known until they are grown and leading happy healthy lives!!)

The next hurdle is a mental one. I have products that are ready to wholesale so I can, in theory, start marketing them to retailers to stock. Gulp. But I haven’t. It remains on my ‘to do’ list. Why? Because the last few years have been so much like a roller coaster ride I have an ingrained fear that I won’t be able to keep any commitments that I make. Which begs the next question – why am I worried about letting others down? Do they really have high expectations of me or am I just setting my own bar too high and then self sabotaging so that I don’t reach it? Hmmmm…. self-analysis via writing this post indicates that I am, as usual, my own worst enemy!!

To shift myself fully into that business mindset it is probably time to write the plan down, instead of having vague aspirational thoughts and wandering around making stuff. Time to be a grown up, do the analysis and make a clear decision on business vs hobby. Wish me luck!

(In the background I have been playing with fabric combinations to make fabric insulated tea cosies- getting back to my happy place combining colours and patterns!! I have also been perfecting the cactus teacosy pattern!)

If you also ponder the line between hobby and business I would love to hear your thoughts !

Making stuff – again

Thank you to all who reached out to share and support when I was having a tough time last week.  The great news is that things have continued to improve since then, so much so that I had one morning this week when all three children were at school!   Of course I had left my crochet bag at home, so wasn’t quite sure what to do with myself for a while!

I have managed to get into the sewing room, and my other favourite making place, my armchair, and produce a few new things this week.   After a special request I made another pineapple tea cosy – tweaking the pattern as I went, and am very happy with the results.

Then I decided to play with the idea of a cactus tea cosy and love this result!

Some time in the sewing room meant some dome style tea cosies and a wrap around cosy!  My fabric stash is being re-discovered and I am loving it!!

A few more tiny cacti have grown in tiny teacups and I made some trivets with recycled t-shirt yarn.   You might say that it has been a productive week!!

In the midst of all of this Spring has sprung (finally) so that might explain the additional energy I have had – all that vitamin D soaking in!    My ‘to-do’ list is long at the moment – cleaning the house, finally painting a couple of rooms, getting some more sewing done, listing things in my shop……  so let’s hope that the sun stays out for a few more days!

I hope that you have had a creative and inspiring week.

Free Crochet One Cup Teapot Tea Cosy Pattern

Well, I have done it – completed my order for a set of tea cosies for the beautiful cafe Le Bon Melange.   In the process I think I have perfected my pattern for making the tea cosies, so decided it was time to share it here. This is the first time that I have published a crochet pattern, so please be gentle with me – and let me know if you find any errors!!   If you do make a cosy from this pattern I would love to see the end result!

The two sizes of tea cosy plus a coffee press cosy too!

 

This pattern is for a flat topped one cup tea pot, but I have fitted it to a more rounded one cup pot and it worked just as well. To adjust it to a larger two cup pot the instructions for the top remain the same, it is just the number of rows for the body that change.  Once you have the basic body you can then decorate it with whatever you like!  Flowers, hearts, frogs – the sky is the limit!

The red pot is the one cup pot and the aqua is the two cup pot. How well do those colours match the wool?!

 

Pattern

I used a 4mm crochet hook and 8 ply wool to make this pattern.If you use thicker wool the pattern will still work – it will just end up slightly bigger.

Key

ch chain

ss slipstich

dc double crochet

To start chain 4 and joined with ss

Row 1 Ch 3 then 11 dc into the ring, ss to join to top of the first chain 3 (creating 12 stiches in round)

Row 2 Ch 3, 2 dc in each stitch of round 1, with last single dc in base of initial chain 3 stitch, ss to join

Row 3 Ch 3, *1 dc in next stitch, 2 dc in next stitch* repeat 11 more times, with last dc in base of first ch 3, ss to join

Row 4 Ch 1, ss in next stitch, ss in next stitch, 3 ch and skip stitch, then 1 dc in next stitch, 2 dc in next stitch, *1 dc in next stitch, 1 dc in next stitch, 2 dc in next stitch* repeated 10 times and finish with single dc in last two stitches of round.   (This is the top of the cosy)

Row 5 Ch 3, turn and 1 dc in each of next 21 stitches (22 in total)

Row 6  – 8 repeat round 5 then finish.

Return to round 5 and attach wool three stitches from the first half of round five and then repeat round 5 – 8 in order to create the second half of the cosy.  Do not finish off at the end of row 8 but continue on.

Row 9 ch 3 dc in each stitch until reaching the end of the row then ch 3 and dc in each stitch of other half of cosy.  This creates the join under the spout.

Row 10 – 11, ch 3 dc in each stitch of row, including the joining 3 ch from row 9.

Row 12 3 ch, ss to other side of cosy, then 3 ch, turn and dc in second chain from ss, dc in each stitch until reach the beginning of the row.  This joins the cosy under the handle.

Row 13 – optional – ch 1, skip first stitch then ss in each stitch of row 12 and finish with ss into fist ch.

To make this pattern fit a larger 2 cup pot the pattern is the same until row 8 when you should stitch another row before creating the join under the spout in row 10 rather than row 9.  Then add in rows so that the final row with the join under the handle is row 15.    You can adapt the basic pattern to fit larger pots by adjusting the size of the top and then the length of the body.

I did add a crown to one of the small cosies – I just couldn’t help myself! Here the pattern is shown on a different shaped one cup pot – it is fairly versatile.

The hearts on these cosies were made using the pattern found on Salt of the Spirit blog and the tiny crown was made using the pattern found on Kim Lapsley’s blog.

If you would like to see some ideas of crochet appliques or flowers then check out my pinterest board – I have collected a lot!

 

Let me know how you go making your own cosy!

A lot can happen in a week!

Since I last wrote all sorts of things have happened here in the nest, both with my business but also on the farm. Let’s get the colourful exciting pictures out of the way first! I have been busy playing with both fabric and wool, and trying out new things.    I made my first large batch of tea bags and listed them on my Etsy shop (the link is at the top of the page).

 

I also played with bright colours and bobble stitches to make a tea cosy for a custom order and then, because I like it so much, made another for the Etsy shop!

  

I also played with some new applique ideas and made cup cosies. This one uses a pattern by Flo and Dot on Ravelry called Flo’s campervan keyring and bunting for the applique.

On Monday I received a commission to make a series of tea cosies for a cafe!   I will reveal all when they are complete, but I have had fun developing a repeatable pattern which I will publish once I have ironed out all the bugs!    This is a picture during an early stage of development!

I have spent quite a bit of time at appointments and in waiting rooms this week so having my portable crochet habit with me has been useful. At the hairdressers on Wednesday I finished this water lily that I had been making using a pattern from Make my day creative.

On Thursday and again today I made lots of little hearts,

and kept perfecting that pattern!

On the home front much more has been happening.   Last Saturday we met and decided to trial (before formally adopting) a new dog.  It is exactly one year since our beautiful boy Milo contracted pancreatitis, and then died three months later.    My boy has been patiently waiting for another dog of his own but I was keen to make sure it was the right dog, and that we were ready. Shadow seems to fit the bill.  He is a Belgian Shepherd who was rescued after living rough in the bush on the outskirts of Canberra. Searches have not been able to locate his owners, so a rescue group set out to find him a new home.   He has the most beautiful nature and is completely dedicated to my son.  The downside is that he is not fully toilet trained at the moment, but that is possibly due to stress, as he is improving daily. With a week to go in the trial I think it will be hard to say goodbye to him and expect that he will become a permanent part of the family!

   

Saturday brought us other excitement with the discovery by the artist in residence of an injured kangaroo down near our chook run.  We cared for him during the day until the Wildcare rescuers could come and take him for treatment. A photo sent through last night shows him doing well, so we are all very happy that Roger (as the kids named him) is doing well!  His friends seem a bit suspicious of us though and seem to be keeping an eye on us all!

  

The other thing I can show you in photos is my new haircut.  It has been a while since I had it done  – a combination of finances, time and more time seemed to keep delaying me, which meant that by the time I got to the hairdresser she had a lot of hair to work with!   I love the end result!   I had to take a selfie to share the new look with you!

So there you have it – a week in review!  Now to get the fire going because it is cold today, and then to keep working on that pattern!   A cup of tea might be in order first though!

I hope that you have had a great week wherever you are!

 

The return of Friday Finds – a list of 7 free patterns for crocheted baskets

With my renewed enthusiasm for creating it is probably time to start sharing some of the useful things I find on the internet with you all too.   This week it is free patterns for crocheted baskets. I love working with thick repurposed t-shirt yarn – it works up so quickly so you get almost instant satisfaction for your efforts.  I have to admit that so far my attempts at making my own yarn haven’t been great, but I will keep persevering, and in the meantime have found some great commercially produced yarn to practise with.   I made these two baskets (without a pattern) to hold all the wool that was accumulating around my lounge room!  I also have crocheted baskets that hang in the mudroom to hold hats and gloves, in bedrooms to hold assorted things on desks, and have a small basket made of left over pieces of yarn that I use to collect eggs in each morning!   These baskets are really versatile!


I also have crocheted baskets that hang in the mudroom to hold hats and gloves, in bedrooms to hold assorted things on desks, and have a small basket made of left over pieces of yarn that I use to collect eggs in each morning!   These baskets are really versatile!

 

Here are links to a great range of patterns I found in my searching on the internet for inspiration:

Ombre Basket by Crochet in Colour

82-62-63-64-baskets by Fil Katia on Ravelry

How to make crochet fabric bakets and make your own fabric yarn

Tutorial for beginners crochet make a fabric basket by the Red Thread

Chunky Crochet Basket Pattern from Crochet in Colour

Final product image

Crochet a gorgeous set of rainbow nesting baskets

Mega Bulky Crochet Baskets

Mega Bulky Crochet Baskets by All Free Crochet

crochet basket pattern by poppyandbliss.com

Crochet Basket by Poppy and Bliss

I hope that you find something in the list to inspire you to make your own basket!

New beginnings – sort of

A few weeks ago I found myself lying in bed thinking about this website and wondering whether I should just delete it and accept that I wasn’t going to be in business anymore.  It was a hard conversation to have with myself, but I couldn’t see anyway to move forward.   Fast forward to this week and I have just reopened my Etsy shop (you can get there by clicking the link at the top of the page) for the first time in over two and a half years.    Wow!

What happened to change things?  I had a couple of lightbulb moments.    I just couldn’t get excited about making any of the things I used to make, wasn’t inspired to design anything from those lines, and had pretty much abandoned my studio as the household dumping room for anything that didn’t have a home.   Then we had a two week school holiday break for the children where we made no plans – no trips, no big outings, and no commitments.  After a few days of mooching around while the kids did their own thing in their own parts of the house I decided that it was time to tackle the sewing room.  Which took about 6 hours less than I thought it would, and was not stressful.   The light was beginning to shine through the gloom that had been sitting over my creative self.

Then I decided that I needed a tea cosy for my glass teapot to keep it warm when friends dropped in and we drank multiple cups of tea in one sitting.   I did a bit of looking around on line and ended up making my own pattern and whipping this up one evening.

That was the first light bulb moment!   I found myself wanting to create!   I kept making tea cosies, even though I didn’t have a person in mind to give them to.   Then I found myself looking at all things tea related online and had my second light bulb moment. By starting to make again, but not sticking to just one method of making (sewing) and not just one type of product (accessories) I could delve into making but instead focus on a common theme.  Tea!   From there I started down the road of making resusable tea bags.   I drink a lot of tea and always put any tea bags in the compost or the worm farm.  Recently we emptied the worm farm and dug over the compost and all the tea bags appeared amongst the lovely dirt – not at all broken down.  I have since discovered that tea bags are manufactured using plastic!  While I often use an infuser I have found that the hinged ones break, and the cup ones aren’t always the right shape for the cup I want to use. The sewing machine came out, the fabric scrap bin was opened and the experimenting began.

 

After a lot of research I decided that using GOTS certified organic cotton was the safest option, and that using a tighter weave rather than the traditional loose weave muslin would ensure that the bags lasted longer.   Then I drank lots of tea (oh the hardship) using various shapes and sizes of the tea bags, decided on the best combination and sat down and began making them.  Making them involves cutting, sewing, threading, sewing, turning, ironing each little bag, so they aren’t particularly cheap to make, but I believe that they are a good investment in reducing the amount of plastic we are pouring into the earth.

This morning I got up bright and early and photographed, staged, took more photos, wrote descriptions, edited, wrote different words and finally, after a very long time, pushed the ‘publish’ button to list items for sale in my shop again.   It felt good!     I have a lot of ideas but have learnt a lot over the years about what works for me, what success looks like for me, and what causes me to become overwhelmed and freeze.   This means that I am not putting pressure on myself, and will make and list items when I can.  I am a bit proud of these first listings though!  Check out my tea cosy collection!

Yes that is eggs and bacon

And even better, yes that is avocado on toast!

I have also used this new found creative surge as an excuse to hit the charity shops in search of teapots to use for sizing the cosies and tea cups to use in making ‘things’, like a pincushion.

And then because I like having a new pincushion for my pins I made another one for my needles, using a pattern from the Lion Brand website.

So there you have it.  My creative urge is back and I am back in business, but with a new twist. Let’s see how it goes!    There has been a lot happening apart from the creative explosion, but I will save that for another time as there is a pile of crochet calling my name, and some Netflix series to binge watch.

 

An end of year wrap up

I have been very quiet here over the last few months, although still using Instagram and Facebook.  I think social media goes in cycles – sometimes it is about the story, sometimes it is about the image and sometimes it is about the conversation.   It seems timely, then, when the year is about to roll over, to capture a bit of the last 12 months in story, image and conversation!  (All this without sending anyone to sleep. Hmmm….can I rise to the challenge?!)

This year was a big year for my little family with our move to a new nest and rural life.  At this point (days away from the 12 month mark) I can honestly say that I do not regret the move at all.  There are days when yet another drive into town makes my heart sink, but for the most part even the commute (20 minutes to most places I need to get to) is extremely civilised!  We now have 12 hens, 5 sheep, 2 dogs and 4 goldfish.

We bottle fed Poh Poh from when she was about 6 hours old and all fell in love with her.

We bottle fed Poh Poh from when she was about 6 hours old and all fell in love with her.

We welcomed Milo into the household to join Dottie the crazy terrier. He gets a lot of cuddles.

We welcomed Milo into the household to join Dottie the crazy terrier. He gets a lot of cuddles.

We leased one of our paddocks to the neighbours so we also get to enjoy their horses.  The gardens are beautiful and my parents do a lot of work to maintain them (I say guiltily!)  We named the property as a birthday gift for my Dad (who is a Deacon) and the same friend who made the sign also made a custom ordered signpost for the garden as a gift for both of them.

The sign for our property made of jarrah from Western Australia by the very talented Michael from Wood and Wax Studios.

The sign for our property made of jarrah from Western Australia by the very talented Michael from Wood and Wax Studios.

The garden signpost with a few of the places my parents have lived marked on it!

The garden signpost with a few of the places my parents have lived marked on it!

Also on the family front we had a wonderful family gathering in September to celebrate my parents’ 70th birthdays – with two of my siblings, and 6 of their siblings, plus partners, along with lovely friends, joining us for about 4 days.  We have now established that the house can accomodate 9 extra people, and cope with two camper vans. It was a huge highlight for all of us.

In October we went camping after a (much too long) haitus.  It was perfect!

My favourite spot to camp. With this view from the kitchen, there is little to complain about!

My favourite spot to camp. With this view from the kitchen, there is little to complain about!

Big changes in the house included replacing the very, very, very busy carpet with something a little more neutral, and starting the mammoth task of painting.  With the newly opened Ikea store in town light fittings are next on the list!!

Before and after with the carpet replacement!

Before and after with the carpet replacement!

On the sewing front I have been busy. I had a two month break when I injured myself in an altercation with my boy, but returned and have been busy ever since.  For a woman who was intent on being a bag designer I seem to make an awful lot of baby products now – but they sell well, so I am not complaining!  After putting my on-line shop on vacation mode about a year ago, thinking it would be for a month or so, it is still not open.  The upcoming holiday period is a great opportunity for me to sit down and plan what the next year is going to look like – and how I am going to run my business is a big part of that.  I have developed a pile of new products over the last few months, including gift sets, teething blankies (with really soft bamboo velour backing), bibs that can have a dummy clipped to them, fabric covered journals, and a pile of Christmas decorations!  They have mainly been sold through Shop Handmade, with a few custom orders here and there.

A boxed gift set with blanket, bib and teething ring toy - part of my new product range.

A boxed gift set with blanket, bib and teething ring toy – part of my new product range.

Teething Ring Blankets with soft bamboo velour and cotton - they feel sooo nice!

Teething Ring Blankets with soft bamboo velour and cotton – they feel sooo nice!

Fabric covered journals for keeping all your notes looking good!

Fabric covered journals for keeping all your notes looking good!

I have also completed two very special custom orders for people who wanted cushion covers made using clothing that was special to a deceased grandparent, as gifts for their family.  It is a privilege to be entrusted with cutting up these garments that hold so many memories, in order to create a lasting momento.

These cushion covers were made from two shirts that my customer has kept of her grandmothers. I was able to keep the button detail of one shirt, and to add a strip of the fabric on each back too.

These cushion covers were made from two shirts that my customer has kept of her grandmothers. I was able to keep the button detail of one shirt, and to add a strip of the fabric on each back too.

Life with my chicks has had it’s ups and downs – as it always does, but as the year draws to a close there is a feeling that we might be making headway with some of my boy’s issues.  We had to change doctors and counsellors during the year when his both left town, and although it has been a drawn out process to get everyone up to speed we seem to be there now, and to be gaining extra support to assist in supporting him.   The girls have both grown a lot this year, in size and maturity, with the eldest chick even doing household chores without complaining!  Wonders will never cease!

I will spend the next few weeks thinking about what is next for this little bird, and my business and my family, and hopefully will appear here with a little more frequency than I have been!

I hope that this year has treated you kindly, that you have been loved and supported, and that the New Year brings joy, creativity and peace to you.

 

Friday Finds: A list of DIY gifts for Father’s Day

While I am informed that ‘handmade is the new black’, the joy of handmade has not spread to the men in our lives as much as the women and children. Today’s list, however, is set to change that! I have gathered together a list of links to free patterns to make a wide variety of things that will all be well received by the men in your life. Remember – handmade doesn’t mean poor quality – it means high quality because it is imbued with the love of the person making the gift!

Father’s Day is a day to reflect on the men in our lives – our fathers, grandfathers, and the fathers of our children.  I am very lucky to have known both my grandfathers, and to still have my father.  I have memories of dancing on my Opa’s shoes in the lounge room, and of my Pop taking us for outings to the only ice-cream parlour in Auckland at the time (because as an American he missed ice-cream parlours).  My Dad is truly one of the good guys.  He provides me with love and support, humour and wisdom as he has always.  I am always grateful that I am his daughter, so Father’s Day is a special day in my life each year.

As you all know, sewing is my ‘thing’ so the first part of this list are ideas that are for sewn gifts for men.
First up – a hat! I love the styling of this pattern for a men’s flat cap from aboutgoodness.com.

Another idea is an apron for Dad.  I have used this pattern from Purl Bee and really like the way that the strap is adjustable so it can fit a multitude of sizes.  When I made an apron with this pattern for a family member I used printable fabric to print a picture of the children holding a sign with her name and made the pocket from that.

Last Christmas I made my father a sun hat using this pattern from April Cobb.  The pattern is a good basic one, and you can personalise it with your choice of fabrics.  I had to include some orange in the one for my Dad because he is from The Netherlands!

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Another idea that I am keen to make myself is this tutorial for an iPhone/iPad stand from the lovely Michelle at Factotum of the Arts.

If you are a fan of making bags like me, then a cargo duffle bag is a great personal gift that he will get a lot of use from.  Noodlehead has the free pattern for this bag on her site.

For a ‘metro’ Dad in your life, Sew4Home has a pattern for this ‘Metro Bag‘.

For a Dad who likes a nice hankie, Purl Bee has a detailed tutorial on how to create a rolled-hem Hankie.

Another simple to make but thoughtful gift is a coffee cup cozy.  Hawaiian Paperdoll shares a great pattern on her site.

Another idea, and one that I have been playing with myself, is making Dad a wallet.  A nice simple pattern for a wallet is found on Allisa Jacobs website.

For those of you who like to crochet here is a list for you!

The manly man hat by Green Dragonfly is a great pattern!

I also like this ripple afghan in ‘manly’ colours (whatever ‘manly’ colours are!) from Lion Brand Yarn.

If Dad likes a bit of Dr Who or Star Wars, then Moogly has a great collection of patterns for crocheting a great range of gifts with these themes.

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Or you might like to make Dad his own Death Star Cushion with this pattern from Pops de Milk.

I plan to make these Opa House Slippers for my own Dad one day……  The pattern is on Ravelry.

Of course Dad could always use a new gadget cover – and there is a great list of free patterns in this post I prepared a couple of weeks ago – DIY Gadget covers.

As usual there are many other great lists of gifts that you can make for Father’s Day.  If you are interested in seeing more lists, or other ideas, you might like to look at the Pinterest board I have created as a place to store these ideas, appropriately titled “Gifts for Men“!

The most important thing to remember though, is that if you make a gift with love, you pass your love with the gift.

Two steps forward, one step back

My small start back into sewing went quite well last week.  I made a few more iPad covers, remembered (well – was reminded) that I still ‘owed’ my kids a few promised sewn projects, and started developing some new designs.

One of the products that I want to develop is a man’s wallet.  (I also want to make a woman’s wallet/purse but with Father’s Day around the corner thought that the men’s products had to take priority!)  I played around with some ideas and then made this prototype.

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I put it up on my Facebook page and asked for feedback.  Quite a few of my lovely female followers responded, with many of them commenting that it needed a closure of some description.  There were also comments on fabric, leather, colour etc, but I am not too concerned about those as simply making items with different combinations addresses that issue.  However I was concerned about the fastening issue, so I put a post on my personal Facebook profile, asking for input from males on the question of fasteners on wallets.  The first response was ‘No fastener for me. If you need one of those you’re not a man.’  And the following 40+ responses followed that pattern, except for one friend who responded that he had a fastener, then read the other comments and made various ‘manly’ statements to reclaim his manhood.  The respondents were of varied ages, educations, locations, backgrounds etc, so I think this is a fairly definitive indication that men do not like fasteners on their wallets!   I will tinker a bit with the design and hope to make some more this week, and will be sure to label the wallets as ‘man approved’ so that the women buying them don’t think they should have a fastener!

I also put out some feelers on whether people preferred baby bibs to fasten on the back or the side.  The responses were mixed, so I have decided for my next range of bibs to do a bit of both!  This was a custom order, but I plan to make a few more, and make some square ones with teether chews.

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I then had a great Saturday afternoon and produced a Kindle cover, shoulder bag, and library bag for my chicks (finally!!)

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The shoulder bag as a work in progress

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Kindle cover

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Library bag for the boy using the fabric he chose some weeks ago.

My steps forward were going well.  But I feel like I am going backwards this week.  The boy only managed to last 40 minutes at school today.  Last week he was there most days for between one and two hours, so I had some time to get things done.  This week, although we have only just started, I am feeling much more dejected about my ability to sew, to earn a living on my own terms, and to keep everything afloat.  I have finally decided to apply for some government benefits to help out.  While part of me feels grateful that the services are there, the other part of me is falling into a deep well of self pity wondering how I went from high-flying lawyer to government benefits.  Of course I know the logical answers – parenting a child with special needs means a change of course – but it is still sucking the energy out of me.    My mission this week, then, is that, in between filling out many, many, many forms, and organising my financial records for my tax return, I will find time to make things that are fun, and will re-energise me.

One of my ideas is to make a few more stencilled bags.  I made these two over the weekend as gifts, and enjoyed it, so a few more will be fun!

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I have also been playing with ideas for handwarmers and road tested a couple  with my boy and his friend yesterday – and received positive feedback from them, so will try to make a few more – sure to get me up and going!

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Right.  Here I go, off to get re-energized and move forward again!