Tag Archives: design

Finding time

I have been reflecting over the last week on what it is that I am doing with my time!  When I worked full time I seemed to have more time to sew, to blog, etc. Now that I am self-employed I seem to be running in circles all the time.  I am not sitting idle, and am not spending hours surfing the internet, yet I seem to not get to the things that I want to do.  This was frustrating me for quite a while, until I realised that the things that I have added in to my days are the very reasons that I am no longer working full time.

Over the last few years I have had to shift my priorities.  I have had to change my parenting style. I have re-invented our day to day life.  (Not just once!).  The reason that I have less time available to sew, or blog, or return phone calls, or pay bills (oops!) is because I am more present in my children’s lives.  I am still not engaged at the level that I could be, and am certainly not a saint (heaven forbid) but I have come to realise that by spending more time putting the children first our life is better.  Now when my boy is starting to get angry and lash out I can normally pin point the cause within a few minutes.  I can usually remember the strategies that will help him to calm down without escalation.  (Usually.  Definitely not always.)   When my artist-in-residence is collapsing in a ball of spiky frustration I can see where it has come from and help her to unravel and calm down.  (Sometimes).  And when my eldest chick is having completely out of character episodes of appalling behaviour I have no idea.  Until I empty her rubbish bin and realise that she has been sneaking her little brother’s snacks – full of gluten – and her body is attacking itself.

Much easier to be kind to myself when I think about what we have dealt with each day and how we have resolved it!

I have had a couple of great moments this week that I wanted to share.  I was fortunate enough to be invited to see Mary Poppins, the musical, being produced by the Free Rain Theatre Company at the Canberra Theatre.  (One of the amazing up-sides of the Human Brochure experience has been invitations to so many wonderful events!)  I took the artist-in-residence and we absolutely loved it!  It was, to quote Mary herself, ‘practically perfect, in every way’. We even had a chance to have our photos taken with some of the cast afterwards!

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The artist-in-residence having a night at the theatre.

The artist-in-residence having a night at the theatre.

This weekend just past was also very special.  The Handmade Markets were on, in a new location here in Canberra.  I am still not at the point where I am ready to return to having my own stall, but I love my role in the background of the markets, which allows me to interact with all the market designers on an individual level.  The exposure to so many talented people is a true delight.  Even better, I was able to take the children with me and when we stopped to talk to different stallholders the children had the chance to interact with them too.  They got to taste beautifully handcrafted chocolate (thanks Cicada chocolate!), to receive hugs and rainbow roses from GG’s flowers (special hug thanks to Gayana), and the artist-in-residence was able to talk to different artists about their work and her own art.  Mick from Leafy Sea Dragon presented her with one of his cards depicting one of his own artworks as an encouragement to another artist.  She was thrilled!

The eldest chick and her two friends ran their own business throughout the markets, providing stall holder support.  They were exhausted but very happy and very proud at the end of the weekend.  This band of 12-year-old young women are learning about money management, customer service, hard work, planning, and innovation at a young age and I could not be prouder of them!!

I also managed to sneak myself a treat on Friday night.  I had an hour to fill between finishing helping with the market set up, and when I was to collect the children from their father’s house.  I thought about ringing friends etc but decided to take myself into town for a meal on my own.  We have an area here called ‘The Hamlet’ which is where the gourmet food vans park, and various funky shops are tucked away.  I went to the Mr Papa van – Peruvian Street Food.  Oh my goodness.

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The burger made with slow cooked pork belly, sweet potato, and a very tasty sauce and salsa combo is heavenly!   I then followed it up with a little trip to the Frugii Dessert Laboratory where the ice-cream alchemist creates beautiful ice-creams, and desserts!  (The owners are also delightful people!)

017b44bb4b29c63f9f742e0e02f00cabd99df22e73I had the choux pastry with hazelnut cream, and blood orange syrup.  And even better – I had time to sit and enjoy and just have time to myself.  Talk about bliss!

Baby set |a little bird made me

A custom order set for a baby overseas

After all this inspiration my plan was to sew, design, and create all week.  Hmmmm…… the best laid plans!  Between routine medical appointments, school meetings, housework, and general family commitments, I have managed only a very small amount of sewing.

Ipad case and accessories |a little bird made me

An ipad case, coin purse and key fob for a birthday girl in Melbourne.

The good news though is that I have created some new pattern templates, which is speeding up my process a lot.  (Instead of measuring and cutting each piece I am now using a template to cut each piece – such a simple thing but one I just hadn’t done!!)  I also finally made a key ring fob – something on my ‘to do’ list for a long time.  I like it!  Maybe I should make some more…..    where is that ‘to-do’ list again?

Our farm |a little bird made me

Wandering on the farm is a delightful pastime

Dam | a little bird made me

The dam is the source of much entertainment – and home to some venomous snakes!

Farm life |a little bird made me

I love the skies out here!

I did spend time with my boy down at our dam finding rocks, sticks and long grasses to try and create ‘survival tools’ like spears and knives.  We haven’t been particularly successful yet but we have had a lot of fun trying!

And I indulged in some fabric shopping – with no particular project in mind!  It is just so lush!  The new range from Skinny la Minx, via Hawthorne Threads.  Drool.

01336619eb5f8a927b88032198547f2c2f9f3620e1Now to decide what to do with it!  Choices, choices, choices!

I hope that you have been able to find time for yourself in your week too.

 

 

Autumn

We are settling in well here on the farm.  We have grown our chicken flock by 4 with the addition of some Araucuna hens – and they lay green eggs!  Green, white and brown eggs

The Dr Seuss references abound as you can imagine!  One of the hens has been named Sam-I-Am, while another is Yertle the Turtle.  Then we divert into random chicken names like Fiona and Big Bertha.  Dad continues to work on perfecting their coop and run and we all love just watching them as they scurry around negotiating their larger group.  The ‘pecking order’ is alive and well!

With time has also come room to start sewing again.  What a joy!  I am taking it slowly, and focussing on building up stocks in the Shop Handmade, and filling some gaps in their stock, so have expanded my range of baby goods a bit, and am not back to bag making just yet.

New products for my range - Reversible baby blankets - flannel one side and cotton the other!

New products for my range – Reversible baby blankets – flannel one side and cotton the other!

A quilted baby blanket from organic cotton and cotton flannel - this one was hard to put in the shop!

A quilted baby blanket from organic cotton and cotton flannel – this one was hard to put in the shop!

 

Baby change mats with laminated cotton outers, bamboo padding and cotton lining have also joined the product list.

Baby change mats with laminated cotton outers, bamboo padding and cotton lining have also joined the product list.

I am also working on some concepts of  re-branding.  The break away from blogging and sewing has given me time to reflect on where I want to take this little adventure I call my business, so stand by for a bit more movement over the next few months!  Now that I have a studio set up it is easier to think about moving forward again.

My sewing studio.  Still need to work on the curtains and carpet and paint - well the decor generally - but the space is awesome!!

My sewing studio. Still need to work on the curtains and carpet and paint – well the decor generally – but the space is awesome!!

I have been focussing on my own health a bit more over the last couple of months.  For the first time in my living memory I have lost weight, and kept it off, and passed that magic weight point that has alluded me for over 20 years.  You know that point where you diet, get down to a certain weight, but just can’t get below that, even though you have plenty of excess ‘body’ that could go?  I actually beat it!  Even better, I am feeling healthy and energised.  I did it using a product system that my sister is selling – I was extremely sceptical at first but have been converted.  Now to get the exercise happening a bit more regularly (my never-ending battle!)

What else have I been up to?  A quick trip to Queensland to celebrate a friend’s 50th birthday.  It was a great weekend full of colour, laughs, great music and shared stories.  The interesting thing is that these are people I met a couple of years ago, by chance, at a Bluesfest.  We just clicked, and have become fast friends ever since.  The people I met at their house and the party were all just like them – warm, generous of spirit and amusing.  One of the guests said that ‘your vibe attracts your tribe’ and this is so true when I think of this family!

Nothing like a tropical back yard party to set a great scene!

Nothing like a tropical back yard party to set a great scene!

With more headspace, and time to start designing again comes a return to fabric buying, researching, and coming up with ideas.  Look out – the grey matter is ticking away coming up with all sorts of ideas here!  I am even contemplating making something for myself.  I know!  Wonders will never cease!  But in the meantime here is an awesome free printable for pop-up hot air balloons that I found on the wonderful site Design is Yay, by the delightful Wita.  (That is my favourite sort of researching – finding cool things to share!!)

Our weather is just starting to turn cool, so I am even contemplating crochet again.  That change of seasons is always enough to kick me into gear!  I have been happily pinning ideas on Pinterest (so addictive but such a good way to capture ideas for later!)

I hope that your week is going well and that you have awesome plans for your weekend!

Creative endeavours

My determination to return to blogging more regularly was severely dented when my site was hacked recently.  Luckily I had friends to turn to for immediate short term help, and was then able to employ a company to finish the clean up.  I hadn’t realised though how it had affected my blogging until I looked at where I was up to in sharing photos of my projects.  As a result be prepared for lots of photos!

There have been some turbulent times here in the nest, which hasn’t helped with my focus.  The chicks’ father has had some changes in his life that have impacted on our tenuous ability to communicate about the children, so much of my energy has been consumed in trying to wade through that murky mess.  The good thing to come of this is that I needed to be creating for therapy, so have made a few things I am quite proud of!

The first step was making up some freezer paper stencilled bags, and some heat packs, to stock in Shop Handmade.

Next was taking the wallet prototype and factoring in all the advice I was provided through my Facebook questions.  As a result I have a design that I am quite happy with!  These are made with ‘fused leather’, which is real leather bonded onto a rayon backing – it makes it lovely to work with and has a gorgeous soft feel to it.  I have been using a bag that I made from it for a few months now and it is showing no signs of wear, so I think these wallets should have a good life in them!

Three wallets ready to go

I also managed to make seven superhero capes as an order for a friend who needed them for an office team exercise.  The delight with which they were received and donned (I love an excuse to use that word) was beautiful.  They even had their CEO put one on and she insisted on wearing it back to her office on another floor!  I commented on Facebook that it is amazing what a piece of fabric and some imagination can do to lift your day!

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My other creative challenge has been to take part in an Instagram photo-a-day challenge coordinated by the very lovely Jess van Den from Create and Thrive.  The title is ‘a month in the life’ and it is designed to showcase our lives, processes and inspirations as creative people.  I am really enjoying participating, and finding new creative people to learn from and enjoy.  If you are an Instagram user I encourage you to do a search under #ctmonthinthelife and see some of the beautiful images being shared!

For now here are my first 15 out of a possible 16.  (Number 6 was ‘action’ so I made a video that appears after the photos!)

 

This is me in ‘action’ folding the internal pockets of a wallet I was making.

In other creative adventures I have been making padded iPad covers (check out out the details on the ‘willow print fabric’!)

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My final photograph is a bragging mother moment.  The artist-in-residence (my 9 year old daughter) had a painting that she did at school selected to be included in an exhibition designed to highlight art in public schools.  She had painted a dingo, and her painting is seen behind the speaker opening the exhibition (and immediately above the head of the artist herself!) in the picture below.  That was very exciting, but even more exciting is the fact that her school has been approached with a request from someone who wants to buy the painting!  I will now negotiate with the potential purchaser and then the artist-in-residence will decide whether she wants to sell or not.  If that wasn’t exciting enough, another piece of her art, a drawing of two gang-gangs (native birds that are the emblem for our area) has been chosen to launch an art competition, and will appear in the newspaper next week.  To say that she is proud and excited is an understatement!

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While this post just skims the surface of what is happening in the nest, I hope that you have enjoyed the pictures!  I will be posting again soon as part of a series on ‘why I write’ that I have been nominated for, so stay tuned!

Following through

After posting my list of gadget tutorials on Friday I was a bit inspired, and finally made a cover for my iPad!  I have owned it for about 6 months, without any cover on it, so this was very overdue.

And then because the pattern that I designed worked well, I made a few more!

These ones have all been delivered to the Shop Handmade where I stock my products, but I plan to make more this week that will then be stocked in my Etsy shop.  I made some to fit the iPad Air, and some to fit the iPad mini, so my next task is making some to fit the other iPads.  I love technology but why do they have to change the size slightly every time they release a new model?  Then again – it does give designers a chance to make new products each time, so perhaps I shouldn’t complain!

It felt good to be back sewing again.  Before I could get back to work I had to clean up the room.  It had become a dumping ground for anything extra in the lead up to our trip, so required some cleaning out, and tidying up.  I should have taken some before shots so that you can appreciate how amazing the after shots are!

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In the process I decided that it was time to be a little ruthless with my scrap boxes.  I suspect it was the result of my childhood training but I find it hard to throw away scraps of fabric – they can always be used in some sort of project, and so many of my scraps are from just delicious prints.  However 4 boxes of scraps was getting a bit ridiculous, particularly when I have so many larger pieces of fabric these days.  I was feeing resolute but guilty, and posted on Facebook about my decision.  And voilà – problem solved.  A friend who makes beads will take my scraps and make fabric beads from them!  Much better than throwing them away!

Cleaning up my room also meant that I had room to put away all the new fabric I bought in Hawaii, plus some more that arrived from Spoonflower too.  And that meant I could finally sit and catch up on custom orders.  The first was a library bag for a young woman in Grade 4.  She enjoyed picking her own fabrics and I am thrilled with the way her combination turned out.

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Over the weekend I also made up a custom order for a nappy (diaper) bag.  I am very happy with the way it turned out.  The fabric was chosen by the customer from Spoonflower, so is different from what I might have chosen myself, but it came together really well and completely suited her style.  I have a couple more custom orders to complete, and then can get back to designing.

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It is definitely time for some new bags – all that gorgeous fabric is sitting there tempting me!  I also need to update my Etsy shop – I have a couple of boxes of bags at home that are not listed there yet!  Time to get organised!

I hope that your week has started well, and that you have found time to do things that you enjoy!

 

 

The first day of the rest of my life

Today marks a ginormous step in my life.  Three weeks short of 22 years as a public servant, from today I am, by choice, self-employed.  (Well I did hint at changes that were coming!)

The last couple of years have been particularly challenging at work and at home.  One challenge on its own would have been fine, but being challenged on both fronts left little room for respite – which is how I came to be in the state I was at the end of last year.  With amazing support from my employer I have been able to take leave for the first half of this year, to rest, recover, and think about how I want to live my life.  Having green fields in front of me has been an uplifting experience – I have sorted through so many different possibilities in my mind (sea-change, tree-change, runaway-from-it-all-change) and am very happy that I have settled on the right path for the chicks and I.  I am going to spend my time focussed on my family, on building my creative business, on supporting other creative people to reach their potential, and on living life in a meaningful way.

And that, my friends, is why I died my hair blue!  That outward expression of claiming my life as my own was a small step towards looking at how I want to live, who I want to be, and how I want to grow.  The sense of freedom is immense!  My biggest fear is I will get into a habit of slacking off and playing instead of working – but I suspect that my bank account will motivate me to get over any tendencies in that area!

The first step is getting past this weekend successfully.  It is the second Handmade Market for the year, and I am working very hard to prepare new stock so that I can have some wonderful selections on offer.  The new sewing machine has been in overdrive!  It arrived last week, and after a bit of learning, tinkering, adjusting, etc I am getting the hang of it!  I will write more next week to give you all the details and do it justice, but for now – some shots of the arrival and set up!

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Two very big and very heavy boxes!

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I did it! (All by myself!)

I have also been able to use my new teether bits as a result of the new machine.  I am very happy with the way they look, feel, and handle – so will be launching them at the markets this weekend!  I had a bit of a production line (manned by my staff of one – me) yesterday so have a good range of colours and patterns to showcase the new bits!

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It also sews leather and denim beautifully so I am working on executing some of the ideas that I have been carrying around for a very long time in my head!

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This bag is made from supersoft leather, with the fabric detailed flap. Sewing the leather was a dream with the new machine!

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Other exciting news in this very brief summary of an amazing week, is that the launch of the Human Brochure that I spoke about last week was extremely successful.  Since then we have attended a number of delightfully wonderful discovery events and started to get to know each other – and really I cannot imagine a nicer bunch of people to be hanging out with!  I will write more in the next week about the events so far as I want to do them justice.  At the moment I can happily report that I have a huge crush on a part of Canberra called New Acton, have had my eyes opened to so many, many, many wonderful things in my own town, and am learning on a daily basis!  If you are interested in seeing what we have been up to have a look at the Human Brochure website where you will see so many beautiful photos from my fellow humans you will want to visit here straight away!

Phew – this might be the shortest summary of the most exciting week I will ever write – but the sewing room is calling me, and the Market countdown is on….so stay tuned for more updates!  (and if you are on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, following @alittlebirdmademe is a great way to see quick snapshots of what is happening during this exciting time!!)

I hope that you have had a great week, and that you are also finding little bits in your life to give you joy and excitement.  Just remember – today is the first day of the rest of your life too.  Get out there and embrace it.

 

Getting creative

 

There is something about a long weekend that lets you breathe out and relax a bit more.  We have a three day weekend here in Canberra this weekend and just knowing that there is an extra day up our sleeves has seen the chicks and I enjoying pottering around the nest without rushing off to fit everything in.  (The fact that none of their sports had a scheduled game on today didn’t hurt!)

Between having friends over to play (the boy and his friend spent a few hours rearranging all spare pieces of wood they could find in the backyard as part of their game – and when they couldn’t find anymore they just liberated some fence palings!) and catching up on laundry, it occurred to me that I needed a gift for the children to give their afternoon visitor.  Their father’s partner has been in the country, and in town, for a few days for work, and had arranged to come and spend the afternoon with us (yes it is complicated – but she is lovely.)   She had her birthday last week, so the artist-in-residence got to work on making a card, and I decided that this was a great opportunity to work on a design that I have been mulling over in my head for a few weeks.

The end result?  A new ‘bucket bag’!

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I was keen to play with different fabrics to create different looks.  This was my first one and I like the way the colours and patterns worked together.  We presented it to our visitor this afternoon and she liked it – and promptly put it to use (always a good sign!).  So I decided to make another one and perfect the pattern a bit.  For this one the only real change I made was making the strap a bit wider.

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Hmmm…. the contrast between nighttime and daytime photos is pronounced isn’t it?  Might have to reshoot these tomorrow!

I might try the same shape with a more integrated ‘wrap around’ pocket as the next variation.  I am also toying with the idea of making a tutorial on how to make it.  (I have been spending so much time looking at other people’s tutorials recently I am thinking it is about time I gave something back!)

Tomorrow my plan is to get to the Handmade Markets that are being held in Canberra.  I have wanted to attend for a long time (they are held several times a year) and this weekend there is nothing more pressing to prevent me getting there (so far!).  I hope to walk away even more inspired to create some other designs, or combinations of colour and pattern.  They are also holding an event for “Knit in Public Day” – and I made the mistake of telling the artist-in-residence about it.  So now she wants to learn to crochet (because I can’t knit!) by tomorrow afternoon so that we can go and participate.  Hmmmm……wish me luck.

I hope that your weekend is going well.