Monday, 29 October 2012

A Small Learning Curve!

Well, my first foray into the world of craft fairs is over.  I enjoyed the day spent talking all things crafty and business with my fellow stall-holders.  We had a steady trickle of visitors in the morning but it was very quiet after lunch.  Although the day was bright and sunny, temperatures had dropped dramatically and the wind was very cold so there weren't many passers-by to draw in.

When I made my first sale, I wanted to jump up and down with glee but, being with experienced crafters, I kept my cool and tried to act like I was used to it  :-)

 This is my stall, which I was quite happy with, but I learned a few lessons from the others.  First, I need at least 3 times more stock. Second, I need to get platforms and/or hanging equipment to display my goods to better effect. Thirdly, I need to get some printed information such as business cards.  If you think I have enough stock take a look below!!

 This is Elsie Rag Bag's stall and what a stall should look like.  She's only been doing craft fairs for a year but has had a soft furnishing business for much longer. And, as she said to me, she only has to top up between fairs, but I still need to build my core stock.

This is Holly Pop Cakes' tempting stall with her halloween themed cakes.  Holly's business is different from us in that it's more about taking orders and promotion than selling on the day. 

Also at the fair was my friend Bev, signing and selling copies of her book.  She's been doing really well and sold a few copies here as well as at her local book launch event last Wednesday (where I got my signed copy).  You might remember me blogging about how I did the first proof-read of it for her.  I'm also going to a business workshop soon that she's hosting, to get help with that side of selling my crafts.

When I was a girl I remember being enchanted by a story in a book where a girl set up a toy hospital where she fixed broken dolls, teddies and the like.  I can almost see the illustrations now; simple black outlines of the girl in a room with little beds where toys lay with bandages on an arm or a patch on an eye.  I wanted to be that girl.  I was reminded of this when DS's girlfriend brought me her favourite childhood soft toy that her father had found in his attic.  It was a bit worse for wear with it's head almost hanging off.  She asked me to fix it for her, and here it is, post-surgery.  As good as new! It's funny how things work out!

Progress since last time:

Finished another cushion for the craft fair at the last minute (the blue and white one above)
Sold 5 items at the fair
Started knitting another scarf because 2 people at the fair wanted the same one.
Pink cot-sized quilt started but didn't get finished in time.
Knitted lamp-shade - on  hold until other items done.

Bye for now
Teresa x

Monday, 22 October 2012

A Productive Week!

 A productive week!! This is the first time I've been able to say that for quite some time.  After adding buttons to my 4 pincushions from last week I turned my attention to zipped bags, and more precisely to the actual zips.  Unwanted, second-hand or recycled zips are more difficult to come by than fabrics so, with limited choice, the idea has to start with the zip, adding matching/complimentary fabrics comes next.

 Bag No 1's starting point was a black zip.  I used this fabric to make myself a little purse a few weeks ago but have remembered in the meantime that it came to me in a lovely parcel of scraps from Ali of Very Berry Handmade after she won a book I gave away.  It's lined in a very small orange polka-dot which you can just see on the tab poking out to the left.

No 2 and 3 as you can see are pencil-case style. I've only made one in this style before, when I hand sewed the lining in, but I've done some research since and have now got the hang of making these all-in-one. Starting points for these: the blue and cream zips.  The blue flower fabric is from a furnishing sample book, the apple fabric is one I bought before I 'saw the light' (it's nice though isn't it - snigger).

No 4 starting point is a jade-y green zip.  The outer fabric is from an unwanted skirt and, as it's not furnishing weight like the rest, I interfaced it first.

The lining and tab are from a cut-up charity shop blouse.  By the way - there's no standard size to any of these bags.  It all depends on length of zip or size of fabric scraps (or both!).

Finally: No 5 is my favourite. A pink zip to start (not usually at the top of my colour choice list), off-cut of furnishing fabric (can't remember where from) and.....
.... a pretty, pink, flowery lining from a scrap bought from eBay.  I have enough of both fabrics left to make another of these, just need to find another matching zip and I can make one for myself!!

All of these bags were made using the same basic method, using hints and tips from various books and tutorials on the web.  I would, however, like to single out 'Annie get your glue gun' for this tutorial where she demonstrates a new-to-me way of attaching the fabrics to the zip that is straightforward, quick and neat.

Just to finish off, here's my porch window view in Autumn.  This plant is starting to obliterate everything - but I don't mind, it's the plant I was photographing for it's vibrant Autumn colour.  The photo doesn't do it justice.

Progress since last time:

Five zipped bags - finished/completed/finalised/done (get the message?)
Knitted lampshade - almost done (whether all will be revealed depends on the final result!)
Baby quilt - started (the answer to any question you may now be thinking is 'no, No, and definitely NO!), it's to sell
Linen/cotton, blue/white cushion - started.

Bye for now
Teresa x

Sunday, 14 October 2012

The Trial is Over!

Two local ladies held a handmade crafters fair in the local scout hall recently.  When the notice came through the door to publicise it I was pleased that crafters from my village were getting together to organise something like this.  At the same time, I was a bit envious not to be part of it.

I went along on the day to support them and bought a couple of bits.  The Christmas themed chocs above are from Holly Pop Cakes who, as the name suggests, specialises in Pop Cakes but also makes characterful dolls under the name Lula Dolls.

These lovely earrings are from Elsie Rag Bag who mainly concentrates on making household furnishings and accessories with jewellery as a side-line.

I had a nice chat with the ladies and tentatively asked if they would mind me having a stall if they held another event. They agreed straightaway and told me their next event would be towards the end of October.  I didn't expect it to be so soon and began to panic a little that I wouldn't be able to get enough items together.  I'll see how I get on but at least the opportunity is there, if I get my act together.

At home I gathered together all that I've made so far and made a note of other things I could make, if I have time.  To start with, I made a few small, quick items (the pin cushions above).  They still need to have centre buttons added before they're finished.  I hope to get a few zipped pouches made next if I can find enough suitable zips in my stash.

My music theatre group's run of Trial by Jury is now over with our fourth and last performance being last night.  All the audiences seemed to enjoy it as much as we enjoyed performing it.  It was challenging putting it on in my church because the 'stage' area so was small and we were a bit crowded together.  Son K took a few photos for me but as I was near the back, I don't feature in them much.  However, one group member's husband recorded the final performance (I haven't got around to watching the recording of Me and My Girl that we put on in April yet - I always seem to have something better to do for some reason!!). In the photo above you can just see the top of my head over the shoulder of the barrister with a book under his arm. :-)

Progress since last time:

Pin cushions above - now finished with buttons added.
Trying my hand at a knitted lampshade after my auntie gave me a few frames. 
Have picked out fabrics and zips for pouches.

Bye for now
Teresa x

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Making the Most.....!

Since I now have all week for housework etc.OH suggested that we make the most of the lovely sunny day last Saturday to take a walk.  He also had an ulterior motive in that he wanted to see how much my weak left leg could cope with, in case my friend (ex work colleague) invites me to one of her arranged walks as promised.  We parked near the canal marina, crossed a bridge and set off down the path........

.......through the trees.....
....under many bridges......
......past verdant views......
......and spooky water's-edge gardens....(click to enlarge and spothe weird horrors!!).
Lasagne and chips (one veggie, one meat)
 Just under 2 hours later we reached our planned pit-stop and braved the occasional cold wind, when the clouds obscured the sun, to eat our lunch al fresco. I was grateful during the way back to the car (via roads and a shorter distance) that we pessimistic brits had carried an umbrella, despite the fact it didn't rain, because I was able to use it to help me balance as my leg began to weaken.  We came to the conclusion that, when it comes to my friend's walk,  I should be able to manage the first half, but will have to leave them to it after lunch :-(

Made with all recycled fabric and scraps.
I've been getting on with a little stitching too and knocked up this cushion from an idea I had. It's supposed to look a little bit like a tetris type game where the different shaped pieces are either falling or breaking off.  I think it would have worked better with smaller hexes but that would have been tons more work!

One consequence of my being at home may turn out to be the putting-on of a little weight for OH and I, if we're not careful!!  After the success of the scrumptious crumble last week (which included raspberries bought from one harvest supper), this week was the turn of bread and butter pudding, after I acquired the leftover harvest loaf, from a harvest lunch that I didn't even attend  ;-)  It's not WHAT you know...........

Progress since last time:

Hexie cushion - finished
Bee Quilt - Round 4 complete (no pic yet)

Bye for now
Teresa x