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, 29 September 2013

Mumpreneur UK Awards Ceremony

Afternoon all :-)

Thank you SO much for all your support last week when I blogged to say that I'd been selected as a finalist for the Best International Trader at the Mumpreneur UK Awards this year!

I was really really really pleased to have got as far as the finals and to add to that excitement I got some lovely press coverage about it too which I blogged about midweek (although of course, being a woman, I hate the picture they used - but Patrick was happy!!)

So the awards ceremony was held yesterday in Birmingham, in the Holiday Inn, which was a lovely hotel inside, despite looking a bit less than salubrious from the outside!

Me by the entrance stand

Brian came with me as moral support (and to stop me from getting lost as I notoriously have no sense of direction!) and although he was a little dubious about the usefulness of the day (not being a small business owner and not someone who's into networking at all) but he quickly decided it had definitely been worth us coming, even if I didn't win.

We sat at a table with some lovely people... Jolyne from Rowdy Roddy Vintage & her husband Richard who'd come down from Glasgow yesterday morning (and I thought we had an early start!) and who's shop was up for the "Best Green Company" award. Fiona Hatton from The PR Garden and Sara Kennaugh from Counting Sheep

We had some amazingly inspirational speakers during the morning - Hazel Cushion from Accent Press, Ben Blackman from Very Nice Things and Anna Kennedy from Anna Kennedy Online

One thing that stood out from all of them, was not only did they not feel that they were anything special, but that they all genuinely felt that all the delegates there were seriously impressive people, managing to run businesses and families at the same time. It's one thing to hear that from your own friends and family, but to hear someone you don't know saying it and meaning it, really made me feel empowered, strong and determined.... I really feel like I've achieved something impressive and I might actually start taking some notice when people tell me now!!

There was a lovely lunch and the bar was open - hurrah! And then we had two more very interesting speakers after lunch.... and then the moment we'd all been waiting for.... the awards.......

Sadly I didn't win my category, but after all the talking up the speakers had done during the day, all the wonderful and inspiring people I'd met (and having an order placed for 30 of my Halloween masks!) I really truly didn't feel downheartened by not winning. I can honestly say I went home with a smile on my face!

I'm sorry this hasn't been a very visual post - I got too carried away tweeting people yesterday and listening that I forgot to take many photos!

So instead I'll leave you with a picture and link to my very first PDF Pattern for sale in my Etsy Shop - I was terrified of releasing this into the shop, being my first, so I'll be over the moon if I get some sales in the next couple of weeks - given the timing couldn't be better!

PDF Pattern for Felt Witch Halloween Mask

I'm off to link up with Handmade Monday and hopefully I'll get to comment on a few more this week! Enjoy!

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Press Coverage

For those of you following the blog, you'll know that I found out (at a bit of a late stage) that I have been selected as a finalist for the Mumpreneur UK awards - Best International Trader - see post here

Well I (for once) got my act together quickly and sent out a press release to all the local news outlets and one of them called me and managed to organise a journalist & a photographer to come out and see me on Monday.

Yesterday the article was published in The Citizen, a Gloucestershire based newspaper!

I hope that's clear enough to read!

As you can see Patrick managed to get in on the act and swaggered into nursery yesterday and told them all about how "he" was in the paper... no mention of me at all!!

I'll be back on Sunday with results of the awards - I'm not expecting to win (there are some seriously good companies that I'm up against) but I'll let you know :-)

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Mumpreneur Awards - making the finalist group!

Well, I have so much to share this week I don't really know where to start!!

This is my 3rd blog post this week (almost unheard of!) as I shared two Piratey tutorials for a Pirate Eye Patch and a Pirate Sword in honour of International Talk Like a Pirate Day on Thursday (September 19th)

pirate eye patch tutorial - diy felt pirate eye patch
pirate sword tutorial - diy felt pirate sword

Then I found out on Tuesday that I had been selected for the finals of the Mumpreneur UK Awards!

I was in total shock!

I entered back in January and then promptly forgot all about it and when the finalists were announced on the Mumpreneur Facebook page I had a nosey, wasn't on the list for either Best Product or Best International Seller (the two categories that I'd entered) and slunk off to lick my wounds in private.

BUT.... I got an email on Tuesday saying they'd been having some problems getting in touch with some of the finalists and here were the details of what they needed from me as I was a finalist in the Best International Seller category!


Out of approx. 1500 entries, each category is whittled down to 8-10 finalists and I was one of them! I'm over the moon :-)

Quickly put everything they needed together and emailed it all over, whilst also writing a press release for the local media, to see if it wasn't too late to get some publicity and I got a phone call yesterday saying one of the local papers will be sending a reporter & photographer out to me on Monday (tomorrow!) and the piece will be in the paper on Wednesday!

Yay.... but... wait..... "What about the tip you call a workshop?" my helpful husband asked, last night, while we were away celebrating our anniversary!

So today, I have lugged, shoved, tidied, junked, retrieved from the bin, found homes for and put up on walls all the stuff that had been covering the floor of my workshop! I still have a big pile of paper to sort though, but it does now resemble a room that someone works in, not just a fabric dumping ground gone wrong!

Need to make a curtain to hide everything under the workbench!

Sign stolen from the Home & Gift Exhibition

Finally got some of my work displaid!
So my lovelies, that's me for now... off to make some dinosaur cushions, put more things up on the walls and try and hide this big wodge of paperwork!!

Enjoy Handmade Monday!

Thursday, 19 September 2013

How to Make a Felt DIY Pirate Sword Tutorial

Arrrrrrr, me hearties! It be International Talk Like a Pirate Day!

Yesterday I shared a Felt Pirate Eye Patch Tutorial which was admirably modeled by my own little Pirate last night:

pirate eye patch tutorial

And was then borne off to school by my bigger Pirate this morning:

So today I'm going to share with you my tutorial for making a Felt Pirate Sword. This is quite timely as my smallest Pirate was bought one (a very flimsy one!) last weekend and promptly broke it, so he needed a replacement!

You will need:

- Cardboard - A4 size (either two pieces of thinner cardboard stuck together or a piece of thick cardboard that won't flop about when waved about)
- Grey Felt (9" x 8")
- Black Felt (11" x 6")
- A Biro
- Strong Scissors (for cutting the cardboard)
- Grey & Black embroidery thread
- A piece of ribbon and matching embroidery thread
- Glue
- Template (which can be found at the end of the tutorial)

First cut out the template and draw round it onto the cardboard & cut out. (if you are using thin cardboard, cut two pieces and stick them together)

Then draw around the cardboard onto the grey felt with your biro and cut out leaving a 1/4" extra around the edge

Flip the cardboard sword over and repeat so you have two mirror images on the grey felt for the blade part of the sword

Then repeat on the black felt for the handles. If you have tailors chalk you can use that to draw round to see the lines more easily, but I found I could just about see the biro lines if I held the felt up to the window:

Then using a bit of glue to keep the grey felt in place, with the grey embroidery thread (2 strands) blanket stitch neatly all the way round the grey felt to make the blade

Next using glue to keep the black pieces in place, with the black embroidery thread (2 strands) blanket stitch all the way round the black felt to make the handle.

Lastly sew or tie a piece of ribbon around the join between the black & grey felt

And now you're ready for a swashbuckling adventure!

pirate sword, felt sword, diy sword, make your own sword, how to make a sword, felt toy

Please feel free to make this felt sword as many times as you like for personal use, but please do not sell either the finished items, or the tutorial and if you blog or want to share any of the pictures from the tutorial, please link back to this post.

I'd love to see any Piratey pictures that you take if you've created either the eye patch or the sword using my tutorials, so please feel free to send them to simmi@gracesfavours.co.uk


Wednesday, 18 September 2013

How to Make a Felt DIY Pirate Eye Patch Tutorial

In honour of tomorrow being my favourite celebration day, International Talk Like a Pirate Day I thought I'd share a tutorial with you today, ready for your little Pirates to wear tomorrow (or any time if your kids are like mine!)

A Felt Pirate Eye Patch

You will need:

Black Felt
White Felt
Black Elastic
White & Black embroidery thread
A pencil or tailors pen
The pattern (which can be found at the end of the tutorial)

Step One:

Cut out 2 black eye patch pieces and 1 white skull & cross bones piece

Then using the skull & cross bones template as a guide mark on the white felt the position of the eyes and the nose and using sharp embroidery scissors cut out the eye sockets and the nose

Then using either a sharp pencil or a tailor's pen (which has disappearing ink) draw on your mouth and teeth:

Then using the black embroidery thread (2 strands) and using a back stitch, embroider on your mouth and teeth. You should now have a finished skull

Next using the white embroidery thread (again 2 strands) with a simple running stitch, sew on the skull and cross bones to the top layer of the eye patch

Once you've gone all the way round, your eye patch will look like this

Next using your black embroidery thread sew the elastic onto the back piece of the eye patch, securely going over it a number of times

Then repeat for the other end

Then pin your front eye patch piece to the back and sew round the edges, using your black embroidery thread and using a simple running stitch, but making sure you go over the elastic bits 2 or 3 times to ensure they're secure

And tie off your thread neatly at the back.

You now have an eye patch fit for a real Pirate, me hearty! Arrrrrrr!

And here is my little Pirate modelling her eye patch

I'm afraid (as is always the way!) that my printer/scanner has just decided to play up, so I've taken a photo of the template page and will get my husband to scan it in for me from work tomorrow, so it should be available as a printable sheet then! Why do printers always go wrong at just the most inconvenient moment?!

pattern instructions for make your own felt pirate eye patch

Please feel free to make as many of these eye patches as you'd like for personal use, but please do not sell the finished articles or the instructions.

I'd love to see any pictures of anything that you make using any of my tutorials, so please do feel free to email me a picture at simmi@gracesfavours.co.uk

Enjoy and Arrrrrrrrrrr!

Another felt tutorial will be available tomorrow.

Monday, 9 September 2013

How do you calm down an excitable child?

Well, as most of you know my eldest, Seren, started school last week... it was a VERY exciting week for her. And seriously exhausting for all concerned!!

First of all we had a special day out with just Mummy & Daddy on Monday (to Cheltenham for posh nosh) while Patrick was in nursery - I've not seen her so excited and happy in a long time (and she's always pretty excited and happy!)

And then on Tuesday she was up bright and early (!!) and in her new School Uniform! SO cute :-)

Then of course Patrick wanted to get in on the action:

And then madam's best friend (and future husband according to her!) arrived for the walk to school:

Gonna be showing this one at their wedding!!!

What the two weeks of funny hours whilst they "settle in" means though is that I'm all over the shop and don't know who I'm supposed to be taking & collecting when... it's left me rather disorientated!

But only this week left and then Seren'll be doing full days and I'll be back to a proper routine.

Awww I feel all teary at the thought of having a baby old enough for school! Sniff...... *deep breaths* and I'm fine :-)

PS. The answer to the blog post title is of course, you can't! Just ride it out and hope you have enough caffine & alcohol to cope with it!

Sunday, 1 September 2013

Wholesale Orders

Sorry for being a bit quiet on the blog front recently - I've been suffering with a mystery ailment (well that sounds much more exciting than the reality, which was insufficient iron in my blood!!) and haven't felt up to doing much of anything... which has made for an interesting time with the kids still on school hols and a wholesale order from a lovely lady, just up the road from me in Cheltenham, who I met at the Home & Gift exhibition in Harrogate.... you might remember the post I wrote about it here.

While we were at the exhibition her eye fell on this:

Personalised Airplane Picture

As her company centers around Aeronautical gifts, it seemed perfect!

So I've been busily creating 5 of these framed pictures - they're basically done, but still need pressing and framing:

All 5 pictures with the banner reading "Up & Away"

I love the pinks - might have to some more pink & grey things

We also settled on some of these canvas drawstring bags:

But the ones I'm making for the shop won't be personalised so I've gone for a larger plane:

So a bit of work still to do this evening - as I'm delivering the order tomorrow morning!

I've also got a mountain of other orders that have been piling into the shop in the last week, which is lovely and next weekend I'll have lots to show you, but does mean I might not get round to everyone at Handmade Monday this week - although I will try my best!

My little girl also starts school on Tuesday, so there'll be a totally gratuitous mid-week post about that (hopefully without me shedding too many tears!!)

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