Tag Archives: custom orders

Pottering along

I have been tagged in a blog-along thingy to write about why I write.  This is not the post that will address that.  However thinking about the blog, my business and how it all fits together has been bubbling away in my mind.  When I started the blog I worried that I posted too often and bombarded my followers.  Now I feel that I have abandoned my blog, and my readers.  I have been reflecting on why this has happened and realised that writing here at some point shifted from something that I loved to do, that was like therapy, to something that I had to do but couldn’t seem to find time for.

I have decided that I want to rediscover some of the joy I had from blogging, so will try to post little bits and pieces more regularly.  I think I have also been trying to balance not writing about all the hard stuff in my life, and when things are really hard it means that I don’t write at all.    This, then, is a quick snapshot of what is happening in my life at the moment, with little bits of the hard stuff included.

After years of juggling a high pressured career, and being an organised single parent, and having a neat and tidy home, cared for garden, and an organised house, now that I am home full time I seem to run late for everything, never catch up on folding and sorting the laundry, have truly dirty floors, and forget important dates on a regular basis.  I don’t seem to have time to blog, to sew, to bake, to hang out with my friends, and yet I am allegedly a ‘lady of leisure’!  Now part of it is getting sucked into the vortex of the internet and losing time that way.  But there is more to it than that.  I suspect it is going to take me a while to adjust to this whole concept of creating my own structure, rather than responding to the structure of an office job.

I am setting myself small targets this week.  First of all to clear the back order of custom orders that I have.  Then to spend a day working through the house from front to back and returning it to order and cleanliness.  (I almost added five more things to the list, but if I can do these two I will be very happy!)

A custom order that has been waiting for a while to be made!

A custom order that has been waiting for a while to be made!

I am also back to wondering about the ‘scope’ for my business.  After deciding that I would focus on bags and accessories I find myself making bibs, doing a custom order for bunting, making up heat packs stencilled for another custom order, cushion covers for yet another, whipping up a pillowcase for another, and generally drifting back to making anything that comes along.  This might be contributing to my feeling of being overwhelmed!  I can’t make everything that exists under the sun, no matter how much I want to!  What I can do is choose my scope, and stick to it, and make those things really well.  (Gee – did that sound like a pep talk to you? )

Custom ordered appliqued bunting.  (I love the colours she chose!)

Custom ordered appliqued bunting. (I love the colours she chose!)

Bags and accessories and bibs.  That is a broad category.  It is enough.  This might be my new mantra!

On the topic of bags I can share that I designed and made a laptop bag for my eldest chick earlier in the week.  She has her own laptop now, in preparation for starting high school next year, and in moving between her father’s house and mine it has looked a big too naked and vulnerable being carried in her arms!  I decided that she needed something that reflected a bit of her personality, but could also grow with her.  This is the end result!

The front of the laptop bag showing the detail on the flap, and the red leather base.

The front of the laptop bag showing the detail on the flap, and the red leather base.

Under the flap you see the lining, and another handy pocket!

Under the flap you see the lining, and another handy pocket!

The back of the bag has another pocket, plus a bit of personalisation.

The back of the bag has another pocket, plus a bit of personalisation.

I have had some great feedback on the bag and am thinking that adding this style to my bag range is worth a try.

I can also update you about further developments for the artist in residence.  After her successful appearance at the exhibition, and being approached to sell her painting, this week she had one of her drawings appear in our local newspaper to launch a survey of the Gang-Gang – a native bird that is the faunal emblem for Canberra.  Needless to say she is thrilled and I couldn’t be prouder.  I am going to have to start recording a portfolio for her!

Gang-gang

Gang-gang

My beautiful boy is still struggling with school, and with coping that anything that changes the direction that he thinks he is following, but we have managed to have one fantastic day this week, and a couple of good recoveries from incidents.  The good moments, or days, make the not-so-good ones easier to cope with.  He is now living with me 100%, after some changes in his father’s life meant that it was best to change our care arrangements.  I shared on Facebook that I was fortunate to have him living with me, then added that I am not trying to be a hero, or downplay how difficult it is to parent him, but if I don’t see myself as fortunate I will probably break.

So here we are.  Pottering along with life, trying to work out how to survive financially, caring for my children, and having a creative brain that is in constant overdrive with new ideas of things to make.  I am pretty lucky really!

I hope that you are having a good week.

Joy in the little things

This week I have been spontaneously stopping at different moments throughout the day and just enjoying being happy.  Not because of big momentous things, but just through the joy of little things.  I have had a visit to the post office each day this week, with a little pile of parcels wrapped in brown paper to send off to customers.  I get such a thrill from wrapping them and carrying them into the counter.  Getting to do it every day is so cool. It makes me happy!

I also got to hand deliver three other sales.  Which meant having lovely chats with the people I am selling to.  Joy!   It is such a privilege to make things for other people that they want and love.

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A lap top sleeve for  an English student – she chose such appropriate fabric!

I have started and finished three custom orders in the last two days.  With no hiccups!  Again – happy!  I have cooked a lovely (she says modestly) meal for a friend, spoken on the phone with another, and had lunch with yet another.  All moments that give joy.  I have sat and watched the rain soaking my garden, and while I am sure that my joy cannot begin to match the joy of local farmers who have needed this so much, it has still given me joy.

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The grey wet day through my window when I stopped to refill my bobbin!

I think that knowing that I have time to plan for my future and my family’s future is giving me the time to appreciate the little things again.  And it feels good!  It also gives me time to come up with all sorts of ideas – which, upon closer inspection, turn out to be a mix of brilliance and complete rubbish!

On the handmade front I am, and will keep being, busy.  I have further custom orders to complete, stock to make for the Handmade Shop, stock that I want to make for my Etsy shop, a business plan or two to write, some research to do, and some articles to write.  All of that means that I am expecting a fair few more of the little moments of joy!

One of the projects that I want to put some time into is preparing some online resources that share some of the lessons that I have learnt over the last couple of years about building a creative business, becoming a stall holder, planning, selling online, and taking the steps to translate a hobby into a business.  If there is something in particular that you would like to know, please let me know – either in the comments, or by email (Theresa@alittlebirdmademe.com) so that I can be sure to include some answers for you in the materials that I prepare – or get one of my many friends with expertise to help me answer your question!!

For now – back to little moments of joy.  I have just one chick in the nest tonight, so she gets extra cuddles and stories for bedtime and that is where I am headed.

What moments of joy have you been able to find this week?  I would love to hear about them – big or small!

The Friday flop

Ah, the weekend.  There is something quite special about a Friday night.  All the pressure of having to be on top of housework, homework, school lunches, laundry, etc, for the next day is removed and all the rules are relaxed.  In my house the kids refer to Friday night as “Pizza Night”.  I make them homemade pizza – one gluten-free with ham and cheese, one gluten-free with ham, olives and cheese and one gluten with ham olives and cheese.  (Yes – adventurous gourmands my children are not).  They pick a movie and are allowed to eat in front of the TV, with their pizza, while I sip a glass of wine, check messages on-line, talk to friends on the phone, and let them run a bit loose.  We all just let go a bit, and breathe out a bit and generally flop.  I love it!

Of course every now and then I think of the Friday nights of a decade ago, or two decades ago, where the image of this sort of Friday night would have been depressing, and think that I am glad that I did my partying when I was younger, because now I don’t think that this is depressing at all.

The look back at the week takes place as part of the Friday night ritual.  This Friday marks the end of my second week back at work, and my first week of my new routine of starting early, and leaving early to pick up the kids.  By Wednesday I was feeling exhausted and that this approach wasn’t working, as my son was having some of his old issues again, and I was back at the school having meetings again.  But fast forward just two days and we seem to all be settling into the new routine much better, and I am able to have perspective on giving us all time to adjust before I panic and come up with a new strategy!  I am hoping that as we settle, I will be able to find a bit of a routine for my own time – that small window after everyone is in bed – so that I can blog regularly, sew regularly and have time for keeping in contact with my family and friends without feeling like I am dropping the ball somewhere.

I suspect that part of the reason that I feel so good tonight is that I have had wonderful news from my mother that some test results we have been waiting on for over a week have returned and that we don’t have bad news from them.  Many prayers have been answered and we are so grateful.  All of this has meant that her visit to us has been postponed, but we are making our way through this transition to school and work on our own quite well, so I have told her to not rush over here, and to take some time at home until we see how things are going.  A huge weight has lifted off my shoulders (although probably not as big as the one she was carrying quietly!)

So all of this means that I had a slow sewing week to start with, but that my momentum has picked up as the week has gone on.  I photographed the pillowcases and listed them on Etsy, then the next day posted them on Facebook, and they sold straight away – to the same lovely friend who bought the first set.  It is such lovely encouragement to have that kind of feedback, it spurred me on to do a bit more.  I de-constructed and then re-constructed a bag I was making for a woman I work with.  It just wasn’t sitting right and I wasn’t happy with it, even though I had ‘finished’ it and photographed it two weeks ago.  But with a clear mind I was able to see where I needed to change it, so I did, then took it to her yesterday.  I am much happier with the end product now and she is happy with the bag, so I feel good about that too.

I then received three orders in the space of half an hour or so, through my Facebook page – two library bags and a hand bag.  I feel so privileged to be able to make things for people who I know, and I have had the fun of suggesting colours, designs and fabrics through the internet – learning all the time!  Two women I work with have requested bags with specific Spoonflower fabrics, so that order went in last night.  A good friend also reminded me that she wanted three of my iPod pillowcases…..and all of a sudden I need to prioritise projects!  I am so excited at the chance to keep making great things.  Although our weekend looks a bit busy I can see packets of time for sewing, so let’s hope that the outcome is better than last weekend.  I did start one library bag last night, but as I picked it up tonight I realised that my decision to stop sewing last night due to the hour was a good one – I had sewed the front and back panels together with the front panel on upside down!  So the unpicking will occur before anything else happens.  Luckily the applique went on the right way.

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My other piece of creativity last night was another batch of salted caramel fudge……. I wanted to make something to take to a morning tea with my team today….. and any excuse will do!  The kids were thrilled that I had slipped a little piece in their lunches today alongside the healthy options, and everyone at work enjoyed it.  Now to remember to make the bit that has not yet been cut last more than a day….

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This weekend is the Royal Canberra Agricultural Show – which the children had planned to enter the cooking competition.  Unfortunately their busy mother forgot the put the entry in on time…..  but we have decided that attending and scoping out the competition for next year is a good excuse to attend this year anyway.  I have made it clear that we are not going on rides and they were all very focussed on seeing the animals and exhibitions, until tonight when they discovered the list of show bags available……. and have spent the evening examining the very long list to identify what they want to buy.  I haven’t yet determined how much money I am going to give them to use to budget for their visit, but it will be interesting to see how it all goes.

Then on Sunday I have a concert to attend – Neil Finn and Paul Kelly – two of my favourite Australian and New Zealand musicians.  I am very excited about it.  It starts the warm up to get me excited about my Easter trip to Byron Bay for Bluesfest.  Expect to be bored with the details of that over the next few weeks…..because the headliners are big – Paul Simon, Robert Plant (you know – the Robert Plant from Led Zeppelin), Ben Harper, Chris Isaac, the Steve Miller Band (even just saying the name makes me think of space cowboys), Counting Crows, Santana…….  oh look – I have already started getting excited!  I just have to get my head around the logistics of where the children will be, what camping gear I will be packing, doing the drive on my own, etc…..

The Friday flop is kicking in – the house is a bit messy, no sewing has been done, the kids are asleep and I am about to head to bed to read for a while.  I hope that your week has been good and that you have great weekend plans to be excited about.