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!

Sunday, 24 November 2013

One Pitfall of Running a Small Business - Scam Artists

This blog post isn't a happy one really, although thankfully in neither experience did I lose any money, but I wanted to share a couple of potential scams that have been tried on me in the last couple of months.

The first was a lady who contacted me from a shop abroad, wanting to buy a large quantity of my products for her shop.

I was suspicious from the start because she only chose items that appear on my gallery page:

Which I thought was a bit odd as there's so many different things in my shop, but the one thing that wasn't listed at the time was the 'Specs' case.

However initially I couldn't see where the scam was, so I cautiously went along with it, got very quietly excited and started panicking about how I was going to fulfill this mammoth order!

The scam appeared when the buyer announced that her shipping company, who already had some of her goods from another small business, needed paying by me because of a problem at their end accepting her credit card using their machine and she did not use PayPal, so wanted me to pay the shipping company £300 which she would reimburse me.

It's such a ridiculously small amount in some way, but obviously to a small company that is a large amount of money.

This situation in itself did not upset me overly as I knew it sounded too good to be true really and I was just glad to be able to move on.

However the second one really has upset me.

A lady called, ostensibly from a children's charity, asking if I'd like to place an ad in their magazine, which is published quarterly. As it was a local (or so I thought) charity, I said yes and the fee was £100 plus VAT, which again, although quite a large amount for my business, was something that I felt comfortable doing given that it was advertising and it was helping a local children's charity.

When it came down to it though, it turns out that this is not a real charity and although they would have sent me a copy of the first quarter's 'magazine' - it is not actually published and distributed anywhere else!

I found a number of forums where people had experienced this whole scenario from start to finish, dating back to Feb 2010, all for the same alleged charity.

Again, I was lucky in that I found out before I'd parted with any money, but I am absolutely disgusted. I am quite a trusting person by nature and I know sometimes I need to be more cynical, but a children's charity?!

I really don't want to have to be the sort of person who goes into every situation doubting the truth and validity of people who approach me, but at the same time, not only could it be potentially very costly, but also such a waste of my time, giving thoughts & putting groundwork into these situations.

Anyway. This is the first post of this type I've done, but I thought it was worthwhile as there are bound to be other people who have already or will be approached by these despicable individuals and it's not something I'd really given any thought to in terms of being a business owner.

I'm going to cheer myself up now with some Terry's Chocolate Orange and a Cuppa, whilst reading everyone else's Handmade Monday posts. Hopefully more cheery news from me in the next post!

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Crafty Christmas Tutorial Link Up - Free Christmas Tutorials & DIYs

Remember how I said that my Gingerbread Man Felt Gift Tag Tutorial was part of a link up?

Well I've got the details of all the other fantastic tutorials that make up the link up!

The Lovely Laura (BugsandFishes) has put together 30 amazing looking tutorials for you guys to have some crafty fun with over the festive period this year!

Mosaic A

Mosaic B
The links to the individual tutorials can be found on Laura's blog or you can follow the links here, but you'll need to refer back to the 2 mosaic pics above.

(Links for mosaic A)

Christmas Trinket Hoop Mobile – Carina’s Craft Blog

Felt Polar Bear Ornament – La Creature and You

Christmas Hoop – Claire Payne

DIY Christmas Ribbon – Adventures & Tea Parties

Embroidered Mistletoe Ornament – Bugs and Fishes

Scented Salt Dough Ornaments – Retro Delicious

Polymer Clay Christmas Tree – Little Creatures

Felt Christmas Tree Toy – Pinwheels and Stories

(Links for mosaic B)

Let it Snow Embroidery Pattern – A Little Happy Place

Holiday Ribbon Pillow – Mrs. Saint Nick

Felt Gingerbread Man Gift Tag – Grace’s Favours (ME!!)

Edible Christmas Ornaments – Hydrangea Girl

Cross Stitch Christmas Trees – Made by Mrs M

Applique Love Christmas Card – Halcyon Threads

Christmas Mini Mitts – The Crimson Rabbit

Felt Reindeer Ornament – Pickle-Lily

Christmas Carousel – Aura Verde Crafts

Phewey.... that is a LOT of crafty goodness! 

I hope you get to visit some of these fab sites and would love to see any gift tags that you make using my tutorial!

Happy Crafting!

Monday, 18 November 2013

DIY Tutorial - How to Make Christmas Felt Gift Tags

Today I'm taking part in a Christmas Tutorial Link Up, hosted by the lovely Laura of the fab Bugs & Fishes blog.

Perfect timing as I was just about to create a new tutorial for you guys after the wonderful response I had to the Pirate Sword Tutorial and the Pirate Eye Patch Tutorial from September.

I decided to make a tutorial with plenty of scope for imagination and alterations, so I've gone for reusable felt gift tags for your Christmas presents. The one I'm sharing the step-by-step photos for could also be a Christmas Tree decoration and would look very tasty nestled amongst the greenery and twinkling lights!

To make 1 Gingerbread Man Felt Gift Tag

You will need:

- 2 pieces of pale brown felt 10cm x 15cm (4" x 6")
- 1 piece of white felt approx. 9cm x 5cm (3.5" x 2")
- 1 piece of ribbon 30cm long (12")
- 3 buttons or sequins
- 2 strand thickness of each of the following embroidery threads: Black, Pale Brown & Green
- Small length of white thread (for sewing on white felt name piece)
- Water Soluble Vanishing Fabric Marker Pen
- Gingerbread Man Cookie Cutter
- Needle, scissors, pins


Step 1: Draw round your gingerbread cookie cutter onto one of the pieces of pale brown felt using the water soluble pen. Pin both pieces of pale brown felt together and cut out two gingerbread men

Step 2: Take the top gingerbread man and draw a smile and two eyes using the vanishing pen and embroider using your black embroidery thread. For the smile using a simple back stitch and for the eyes a double french knot for each eye should make them in proportion with the head. (For instructions on how to do a French Knot - click here)

Then embroider the front of this gingerbread man piece with the three buttons or sequins:

Step 3:

Cut your piece of white felt so that it will fit comfortably onto the back piece of your gingerbread man:

Then, using your water soluble pen, write out the name you want to embroider onto the white felt:

Then using your green thread, sew over the writing working from left to right, don't worry if the purple writing is still visible underneath the thread, it will fade and completely disappear within a few hours.

Step 4:

Sew the white name piece onto the back piece of your gingerbread man, using the white thread and a simple running stitch:

Step 5:

Fold the ribbon in half and sew the folded part to the inside back piece of your gingerbread man, using the pale brown embroidery thread:

Then pin the front and back pieces of the gingerbread man together and using a blanket stitch, sew all the way round your gingerbread man, until he look like this:

Well done!!

You can then tie your gift tag to a present, if you are using ribbon round the gift... or if not, you can use scotch tape or washi tape on the ribbon, which will be easily removed after the gift has been opened, so the tag can be hung on the Christmas Tree and then reused next year:

I've also made up a couple of other gift tags, all using different cookie cutters as the templates:

I hope you've enjoyed this tutorial - these are such fun little personalised touches that will make your Christmas gifts stand out. I'd love to see any that you make - I'm just putting together a post with the various Pirate Swords pics that have been sent to me by lovely readers and would be really pleased to be able to include some handmade gift tags too.

There will be another Christmas Tutorial coming your way, but through the Uniquely UK website, so keep your eyes peeled there, although I will of course link it from here.

Please feel to make as many of these as you like for personal use, but I would ask that you don't sell the finished items. Please do not reproduce any or all of the tutorial, without linking back to here.

To find the rest of the amazing tutorials that have been shared through this link up, click here.

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Remebrance Sunday - Crafting for Charity

You may remember that I mentioned a couple of weeks ago (here) that I've had a number of different poppy products in my shops specifically created for Remembrance Sunday. I do sell all the poppy goodies all year round, but any that are sold during October and up until Armistice Day are all sold on behalf of the Royal British Legion.

This year I have sold more than I ever hoped to and I'm SO grateful to everyone who's bought one and helped me raise such a wonderful amount for the Legion.

I promised that I would let you know how much money I'll be donating to the Royal British Legion and so as not to disappoint - the grand total this year, after raising £85 last year... this year, my lovely customers have helped raise a whopping £112!!!!

I am so overwhelmed by how many people have generously bought poppies from my shops - it's a tight time for everyone, but to know that we have done something really good for such a worthwhile cause has made me feel fabulous. I will be posting a cheque to the British Legion this week.

We are lucky enough to live in a village that has a wonderful Brass Band and a very active Church and community and the Memorial Hall, where the wreaths are laid each year on Remembrance Sunday is just up the road from our house, so we hear the band starting up for the service which is held almost outside our house. This is the first year we've taken our kids out to the service and they did really well, keeping the 2 minute silence and watching it all with an appropriate level of respect. I feel quite proud to be able to explain to them what today was all about and why we commemorate it.

I'm linking up to Handmade Monday for the first time in ages and I do promise to try and get round everyone this week and leave a message on all the blogs... I'm great at starting and then getting distracted by everyone's wonderful blogs!

Monday, 4 November 2013

How to Make Your Own Diwali Crafts

Happy Diwali!!

I've just spent the morning with my daughter's reception class and my son's pre-school class experiencing Diwali with 35 children - it was loud, chaotic, messy and great fun - just like all my experiences of Diwali!

I should probably explain, although I don't really look it, I am half Indian. My Dad is a Sikh and although he was born in England my Grandparents moved to London from the Punjab (which was then part of India, although now is part of Pakistan) in the 1940s during Partition.

I love all things Indian and it plays a big part in our lives, especially as we now live in Gloucestershire which is an area that doesn't have a lot of the culture locally, so we have to make sure that our children experience it at home.

So for Diwali, we have all the candles in the house lit, we decorate the patio with rangoli patterns (although yesterday was a bit too wet, so we'll have to do it tonight after school) and we eat traditional Indian sweets (a real luxury as they are so rich normally we don't have them - or none of us would be able to move for a week!)

Rangoli patterns are usually made from coloured rice flour
Diwali is the festival of light to welcome home Rama & Sita from the Forest
Gulab Jamun Sweets

So today I took into School some of these delicious Gulab Jamun sweets, bought specially at the weekend, they are sinfully rich, but so yummy - most of the children were happy to try them although not all of them liked them, but my two had second helpings (of course!)

The activities that their lovely teacher came up with included making clay pots, called Divas which hold the candles, traditionally lit to welcome Rama & Sita back from the Forest. These were made from air drying clay, which was rolled into sausage shapes and then curled round in a spiral to form the base, then another sausage shape was curled round to form the walls. Lastly some sparkly sequins and blingy hearts were added to decorate the pots.

Patrick's Diva
Seren's Diva

They coloured in colourful hands to depict the mendhi patterns drawn onto ladies hands with henna and the made rangoli patterns on the playground with coloured powder paint. The hands were made from coloured paper which the teacher had cut out and then they copied (ish!) some tradition mendhi patterns using felt pens.

The kids LOVED it! I'm so pleased to have been able to be a part of their day and really pleased to be able to share some of my heritage with a group of children who otherwise probably wouldn't have any connection to this festival.

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