Welcome to my little corner of the blogosphere to share the ups and downs of starting a craft business, with plenty of tips, mishaps and the odd glass of wine!

Friday, 14 December 2012

12 Days of Christmas... Gift Guides

The wonderful team that I am part of on Etsy have some tireless leaders who have been working very hard to provide 12 gift guides for the 12 Days of Christmas and each day focuses on a different topic.

I've been meaning to blog about the wonderful collections that Erika (one of the aforementioned tireless leaders) has been putting together, but first I thought I'd share some of the wonderful jewellery that Erika makes & sells in her lovely shop and the profits for which she very generously gives to charity:

Beaded Leather Wrap Bracelet, Handmade Black Leather & Blue Chalcedony Cuff, Double Wrap Leather Bracelet, Small
Beaded Leather Wrap Bracelet
Sky Blue Necklace, OOAK Artisan Handcrafted Lampwork Glass & Sterling Silver Necklace, Blue Violet, Handmade Beaded Jewelry
Sky Blue Necklace, Handcrafted Lampwork Beads & Sterling Silver
Felt Ball Earrings, Sterling Silver & Merino Wool, Handmade Felt Earrings, Pink Purple Spirals
Felt Ball Earrings, Sterling Silver & Merino Wool
All the above are on my wishlist should anyone be after ideas for presents for moi ;-)

The Gift Guides that Erika has been producing are collections of items all handmade by the very talented makers within the team and you will be spoiled for choice no matter who you are buying for!

The 12 Days of Christmas Gift Guides can be found on the official Craft Britannia blog and (so far) they include 

Sorry for the lack of pictures from the Team CB blog, but my blog knows it's Friday and wants me to stop working now!

Have a great weekend all 

PS. Although technically not so much about my handmade makes, this is going to be my post for the last Handmade Monday of the year as I haven't quite got the time to squeeze another post in on time!

So for anyone who doesn't pay us a visit till the next Handmade Monday - I hope you have a wonderful Christmas & New Year!

Monday, 3 December 2012

Felty Christmas Tree Ornaments Tutorial

I thought it was about time I did another tutorial and as I'm completely in the festive mood, I thought I'd share a Christmassy one with you... how to make a Christmas tree ornament for your Christmas Tree!

You will need:

2 squares of dark green felt
1 small square of dark brown felt
2 small squares of white felt
I piece of ribbon
Assorted sequins
Dark green embroidery thread (2 strands)
White embroidery thread (2 strands)
Gold/silver/white embroidery thread (1 strand)
Small amount of toy stuffing (you could use cotton wool if you don't have any toy stuffing)
Templates (see end of the tutorial)
I Forgot to add the ribbon to the picture of the supplies
So here it is on its own

Step 1:

Print out the templates, there are two tree sizes, you can start with either - just make sure you use the corresponding tree trunk piece & the snow piece.

Pin the tree template to the two pieces of dark green felt and cut out. Pin the corresponding trunk template to the dark brown template and cut out. Pin the snow template to the pieces of white felt and cut out.

Tree template pinned to both pieces of green felt
Trunk template

Snow for top of tree
Step 2:

Sew white felt onto one of the green tree pieces, don't sew too close to the edge, so you have space to sew the green pieces together (see photo at Step 3) repeat for the other piece. These will now become the outer pieces of your tree ornament.

Next using the single strand of embroidery thread (in whichever colour you have chosen) sew on your sequins to both outer pieces of the tree.

Step 3:

Once you've got all your sequins sewn onto both pieces of tree, it's time to sew the tree pieces together. Take your trunk piece and fold in half, and insert the raw ends in between the two tree pieces and using a blanket stitch, sew round the outside until you get to the top.

In order to blanket stitch close the tree at the top, where the white snow has been sewn on, fold back the white felt as you go round the top, like this:

This is why you don't want to sew the white piece of felt too close to the edge.

Then take your piece of ribbon and fold in two, then place it inside your trees. (Sorry - I forgot to take a photo of this bit!)

Then continue to sew round the tree until you get to the bottom corner:

This is where you poke in your toy stuffing or cotton wool, so that the ornament is lightly padded.

Then you sew up the opening and tie a knot in your thread... and Hey Presto!

If you follow this link to THE TEMPLATES, you will find both templates, at full size, although of course you could enlarge them if you wanted to.

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial - it is for personal use only, so please feel free to make as many of these as you like for friends and family, but please don't produce trees to sell or reproduce any/all of this tutorial without crediting it back to me. Thanks :-)

I am linking up to the Handmade Monday over at Wendy's fabulous blog, sorry for missing last week, but I was struggling with getting my stock up and ready for the Handmade Makers Market in Oxford! The event took place yesterday... so watch this space for pics of my stall and the low-down on how it went.

Monday, 19 November 2012

Christmas Wreath Giveaway Prize

Do you remember, many moons ago, (nearly a whole month ago - when I wasn't entirely grey!) I held a giveaway, to celebrate my 1st year anniversary?

Well I have finally finished the prize! The prize was for a wreath, based on whatever theme the recipient wanted... Claire, the lovely lady who won the giveaway, said she would like a 'wintery scene' on her wreath, so this is what I came up with:

I am totally in love with it and will be making another one, which will be taking pride of place in my living room for the festive season!

I have listed it, as a made to order item in my shop and can be ordered for posting within the UK up to December 18th.

Final posting dates are up in my shop announcement and there is also a special sale happening this coming weekend... it's something that is very popular in The States, and because Etsy is an American site, they are heavily promoting all who take part. It's call the 'Black Friday & Cyber Monday' sale. Black Friday being the day after Thanksgiving and when traditionally a lot of Americans start thinking about Christmas in earnest, having got Thanksgiving out of the way.

The sale runs from 9am (GMT) on Friday 23rd November until 9am (GMT) Tuesday 27th November 2012 and using the code CYBER2012 you can get 10% off all purchases in my shop.

I'm off now to check out all the lovely Handmade Monday posts

Simmi xx

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Shall I Tell You A Secret?

A really BIG secret?

Are you sure you're ready????



Can you tell that I'm pleased and rather excited?!

I've got a million and one things to do before I go at the end of December but I just want to dance about and sing!

I was planning to leave in the Summer as that'll be when Seren's gearing up to go to school and it'll be all change, so it seemed like a good time, but I've been getting more and wound up and stressed about not having enough time for every aspect of my life, so we've managed to work the finances out so that the kids can carry on at their nursery (with slightly reduced hours) and I will have 3 days a week to dedicate to the business come the New Year.

I am really looking forward to it as I get very frustrated to have so many ideas and not enough hours in the day to achieve even half of it!

Sorry for the lack of pictures and lots of waffle!

Monday, 12 November 2012

Handmade Makers Market

Yikes! I've just realised that I've got just over 2 weeks till the Handmade Makers Market in Oxford and I'm in a little bit of a panic about having enough stock!

I haven't done a craft fair or a market since the summer one, but to get the stall looking as full as this:

I had to spend every spare minute of my 2 week holiday in Ireland, with the out-laws (nah, my lovely in-laws!) designing and sewing.... HOWEVER.... for the next 2 and a half weeks I'm working, looking after my kids and going away for a child-free weekend to London! The words 'Oh Bugger' are currently reverberating round my head!

I think I'm going to have to start geeing myself up with lots of coffee and because sewing seems better done in the mornings.... lots of early alarm calls!

Photo: www.etsy.com/shop/HopePhotoArt
Belatedly off to join the Handmade Monday link up and visit all the other lovely blogs (when I should be making!)

Monday, 5 November 2012

Handmade Monday

I've decided to take the plunge and join something I've been reading about for a while - Handmade Monday which takes place, yes you guessed right, every Monday on the fantastic Handmade Harbour blog.

This post is to join in on the 91st Handmade Monday and it was after reading the gorgeous blog post from a fellow Etsian, Natalie from Free Spirit Designs which also featured my Poppy Appeal Brooch that I decided to join in.

Poppy Broch - all proceeds of sales during October & November are going to the Royal British Legion.
But today I wanted to share my newest VW Campervan, which has been designed for a wedding! The lovely customer who's bought it is the sister of the Groom and she was able to sneakily find out what colour Campervan the couple have hired to be their wedding car and so I've been commissioned to match their cuddly camper to it! Such a lovely idea.... what do you think?

Wedding car to hire from Beetles About

My Campervan complete with ribbons

It would seem a lot of people are choosing to incorporate Campervans into their wedding plans, so I'm hoping this will become an integral part of the VW range.... watch this space for more news!

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

London Calling

Sorry for not writing any posts for a week or so, but we've had a busy couple of weeks, ending with my out-laws (hubby's parents who I adore - thankfully ;-p) coming to stay for just over a week.

This month's most popular item has easily been the Poppy Brooch

Which is brilliant as everyone who's bought one has helped to raise money for The Royal British Legion for Remembrance Sunday.

And tonight I am off to London! (can you tell I'm excited and that I don't get out enough?!) as tomorrow I am attending a work shop about Social Media, run by a lovely lady, Sarah Duncan of Sleeping Lions. I'm really looking forward to the workshop and will be practicing all I learn using the Blog, the Grace's Favours Facebook Page, the Pinterest Boards and Twitter account - so keep your eyes peeled :-)

Thursday, 18 October 2012

And the winner is.......

Drum roll please..... Comment number 7:
Claire from Aisling Designs, who said: "Already like you on FB. And will go off now and tweet and share on FB. Lovely giveaway, and I wish you every success this coming year."

Congratulations Claire :-) I will be in touch about what sort of design you would like.

Thank you so much to everyone who entered and especially those who shared away like crazy!! And as I'm in a fab mood I'm going to extend the 20% off everything in my shop until the end of the weekend!

Happy Birthday to Me.....!

Morning campers (have various old Hi-de-hi lines going through my head today for some reason!)

So, today is my 1 year anniversary of selling on Etsy! I've had an incredible year and it has been getting better and better!

Here are some pics of the last year in the Grace's Favours household:

1st item made & sold - thankfully my photography's improved a bit since then!

The 1st campervan - now our most popular item!
1st attempt at a fascinator

A handmade birthday present

Kids modelling their crowns for the Jubilee

Learning to make fascinators properly!

New bear is MINE!

The latest campervan

I am part of some wonderful teams on Etsy, which has meant I've met some wonderful people along the way, all of whom are really supportive and friendly, which is invaluable when you're working on your own.

There is one person I couldn't have done any of this without and that's my lovely husband Brian, who not only provides all technical and graphics advice & support, but who also has taken on a much greater role in looking after the house and children - thank you Gorgeous!!

To celebrate Grace's Favours being 1 year old not only am I giving away a gorgeous Christmas Wreath but I'm also offering 20% off any item in the shop today only... so any early Christmas shopping you wanted to get started on will save you money too!

Thursday, 11 October 2012

1 Year Etsy Anniversary Giveaway!!!

It's been in my mind recently to hold a giveaway as a thank you to all my lovely customers and Blog, Facebook & Twitter followers and what better time than now, for the celebration of my Etsy Shop being 1 year old!

So the giveaway is running from today, for 1 week and I'll do the magic with the random number generator on Thursday 18th October (the date of my anniversary!)

Here's what you can win:

There are 4 ways in which you can enter and each will count as a separate entry, giving you more chances to win:

Required Entry:
Become a follower of this blog & leave a comment on this post saying you've done so (1 entry) 

Optional Extra Entries:
1. 'Like' our Facebook page and post a comment here to say you've done it (1 entry)
2. Share the competition picture on your personal Facebook page & leave a comment here to say you've done it (1 entry)
3. Tweet about the giveaway & leave us a comment here (1 entry)
4. Post a snippet on your blog about our giveaway and leave us a comment here with the link (1 entry)

The giveaway will close at midnight on Thursday October 18th 2012 (GMT) and the giveaway is open to all countries.
Please make sure I can contact you via your comment - leave an email address with your comment if it's not available through your profile. If I can't get in touch with you by the 22nd October 2012 I'll re-do the draw.

Good Luck!!

There will also be a special 20% off sale from 18th October for one week, all you need to do is use the code BIRTHDAY2012 when you checkout at the shop

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Poppies for Remembrance Day

So last year I was thinking about making some poppy brooches to put into my Etsy shop around the time of Remebrance Day (11th of November for those from other countries where it's not a particular day of remembrance) but I ran out of time. So this year I have been really organised and have made not only some poppy brooches, but also poppy hairslides.


As these are in part for Remembrance Day (they can be worn at any time, so I will keep them in the shop all year round) I wanted to make sure some money went to charity, so during the months of October & November I am donating all the profit from the sale of any poppy item to the Royal British Legion.

All profit means I will take out the time & materials cost and donate the remainder to charity. So I will not be profiting from the sale of these items during these two months.

I'll be wearing my poppy with pride (as always) but this year, it will also be a handmade poppy.

Monday, 1 October 2012

Our 1st Product Review

Ohhhhhh I've had an exciting weekend (I know - it only takes the smallest of things!)

We had a BNR in one of my Etsy teams...  a BNR is a treasury which when you buy from one of the shops featured means one of your items replaces the item from the shop you just bought from. So in order to get featured, you have to buy something from one of the other shops feaured. Everybody wins because we all get more sales and more exposure. I bought in twice and was bought out again really quickly, which is very flattering.

So not only did I have a couple of sales from that, but I have also had my first ever product review!!

Here is the link to the article

I am over the moon as the recipient of the Campervan was really thrilled with it!

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

More Photo Editing

Okay, so now I feel a bit daft... but since my last post I've discovered that there is a MUCH easier way to get your photos looking better... without so many stages and ending up with a better looking photo... it's called Fotofuze

It automatically imports your Etsy listings:

And then in one simple move you can take a picture from this:

to this... IN ONE STEP!!

It does turn some of the pictures a bit doolally though:

A little bit more attention required on that one me thinks!

Monday, 17 September 2012

5 basic rules for taking product photos... and more!

Last month I took part in a shop critique on Etsy and the one point that all participants agreed on was that some of my photos need improving.

This wasn't a big shock to me as I know that my photos aren't the best out there... although not as bad as some ;-)

Here are the basics rules:

1. Don't use your flash - EVER!
2. Take photos on a cloudy day (as opposed to a bright sunny day) and take them outside if possible.
3. Take photos of your products on a plain (preferably white) backgroud
4. Use the 'manual focus' button on your camera to get good close-ups
5. Don't take photos with the lights on - use natural daylight

And lastly....
Don't use your flash! (Important enough to mentioned twice!)

However, even when following these pieces of advice, there are still some tweeks that you can do on the computer to help enhance the photo (this isn't cheating - it's just making the most of your photo)

I'm very new to this digital editing of photos, so I had a play around and I'm happier with the results (although I think I still have a way to go and a proper white backgroud would definitley have helped)

First of all I played about with the exposure of the image, taking a photo from this:
to this:

And then I change the contrast, so it looked like this:

At this point it looked a little washed out and I was wondering if I shouldn't have changed the contrast, but it did make the next stage look better, when I started changing the colour saturation:

And then finally the temperature gets a little tweek:

This image above was actually shot on a pale greeny/blue window sill inside on an overcast day, but the editing has still helped the end result.

As a lot of my orders are custom made pieces there won't be an overnight change to all my shop photos, but over time, now that I know I need to spend a bit more time working on them, hopefully they will continue to improve!

PS. I made these edits using the Google+ editing tool on Chrome - have a look at some other photos that I've edited on my Google+ page

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