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!

Monday, 25 August 2014

Pirates Ahoy! More Pirate Patterns - Pirate Treasure Map

Ahem. I know you probably all think that it's me that's the pirate addict in our house, but I promise it's not - it really is Patrick, actually and Seren... Oh go on then, and ME!

We all love Pirates and a while ago I was badgered to make Patrick a Treasure Map:

This was to go with his Pirate Sword (tutorial here) and his Pirate Eye Patch (tutorial here)

And after a slight time lapse (good intentions and all that!)....... I have finally made the Treasure Map into a PDF pattern which can be bought from my Etsy Shop here

Whilst creating this pattern I discovered that by fantastic coincidence the lovely Abby Glassenburg, who writes the gorgeous blog While She Naps was also creating a Pirate Pattern - for Roger the Pirate, a soft doll, who looks SO much fun! You can buy the pattern from Abby's website here and how cute is he?!

Picture by Abby Glassenburg - While She Naps
I think as soon as my two see this chappie, I'll be dispatched to make them both one of these too!

Monday, 18 August 2014

How to Make a Star Badge (Happy St Seren's Day!)

Hello lovelies,

We're still on our annual Irish pilgrimage (i.e. staying with my lovely out-laws) and decided that we should hold a St Seren's Day celebration while we're here as Seren, our daughter, has always felt a bit put out that her younger brother has St Patrick's Day to celebrate his name, but she didn't have a Saints Day... so we made up one for her!

The little star brooch Seren is wearing is now the official symbol of St Seren and this year has been done in the Wexford colours of Purple & Gold and was really easy to make.

I've not done a template for them, but a little pictoral 'how to'.

You will need:

Small scrap of purple felt
Slightly larger scrap of yellow felt
Brooch back or Safety Pin
2 strands of purple embroidery tread
star shape - you can either draw around a cookie cutter or make a template freehand

How To:

1. Cut out a star shape from the purple felt and sew it onto the yellow felt using 2 strands of purple embroidery thread. I used running stitch, but you could also use back stitch or whip stitch:

2. Flip the yellow felt over and using the same purple thread, sew on a brooch back or a safety pin if you don't have any brooch backs.

3. Tie off the thread on the back and then carefully cut round the purple star, leaving a 0.5mm gap around the egde. And voila! You have a star brooch:

We chose stars because Seren means star in welsh and it's the emblem we use for our Seren whenever she needs a theme, but you could do this with any shape and contrasting colours.

Happy Sewing!

Thursday, 7 August 2014

5 Essential Things to Focus on in Quiet Times.

Quiet times. We all have them.

What do you do during a lull in your business?

Getty Images Stock

Do you panic? Do you take advantage of it and spend more time with your friends & family? Or do you use the time wisely?

I do a bit of all of them if I'm honest.

Here are a few of the things I do, to ensure I'm being productive during my quiet moments:

1. Update my Etsy & Folksy listings. Adjust the tags and descriptions to make sure they describe the creative process, the advantages your product can offer the customer, fully detail the measurements, cleaning instructions, restrictions, etc that are needed for your products.

2. Get my accounts up to date. I know, I know, it's a boring job (for everyone except those funny accountant people who enjoy all that stuff!) But it's one that has to be done to keep on top of your business. I just keep a simple spreadsheet with incomings & outgoings, and a front page with tables tallying up month by month, how much I've made & how much I've paid out. It means that come tax return time I'm much more organised and don't panic quite as much!

3. Make extra stock. This is something I do in limited quantities as most of my items are made to order, so it's difficult to know how much of any items to make and in what colours, but there are certains items, like the Campervans, which I know will remain popular all year round, year after year, so I do make some of those when I have the chance to.

A tower of Campervans

4. Research. Be it researching suppliers, retailers to approach, design methods, packaging & postal methods or how to divide your marketing & advertising budget... All and any legitimate research is good for your business. I say legitimate because it's easy to get distracted from your purpose and get caught up with looking at shiny pretty beads, for example, when they have nothing to do with your business. (Yes, I am speaking from experience!) Even if you aren't in a position to buy, change suppliers, branch out into retail markets, pay for any marketing, it will be useful to have some knowledge for when you are ready to take that step.

5. Design new items. Now this is something that I would like to spend ALL my quiet times doing, but I've put it last because although it's the point I like the best, if I started off on this one, I'd never get numbers 1 - 4 achieved! I'm one of those designers who always has ideas racing round my brain and rarely have time to get even half of them down onto paper.

I find I quite often have to refer back to this list when I hit a lull as although I know what I need to do, re-reading it afresh always helps me to focus.

On that note, I'm off for a couple of weeks on holiday with the out-laws and will be doing plenty of number 5, with a little bit of number 4 thrown in for good measure!

PS. If you want other posts along the same lines try these:

The Reality of Being a Work At Home Mum

5 Mistakes Most Businesses Make Using Facebook

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