Saturday, 27 February 2010

Nurse Tori wants you to get better

Our family has been ravaged by sickness. First me, then my daughter, then my husband, then my MIL and now my Dad has it. It is doing the rounds of us all. My daughter has a "nurses kit" that my MIL got for her at a jumble sale. The best $2 spent!

Friday, 26 February 2010

Craft Artist Tips You need to know

Do you know about this site? Quick Craft Artist Tips

It is a bit verbose, rather than a lovely photographic blog like Melbourne Epicure's, but the content is gold.

If you are a crafter who has a small business as well, then you should join up and follow this blog. Lots of tips and hints and pointers to things that you probably didn't think of.

I am booked in for the Modish Creators Market at Malvern Town Hall on the 8th May, so I read through her blog with great interest when she talked about merchandising and stall displays.

Thursday, 25 February 2010

Nerd Merit Badges

I love flipping through this web site in my spare time checking out all the gorgeous and weird design items, hoping that one day my products might be featured. Although I might have to do a bit more industrial design before then!

I came across Nerd Merit badges via NotCot ... love them! The one above, is a merit badge if you manage to get your inbox down to Zero (as if!). You can even buy a sash to go across the lid of your laptop ... although I can imagine them on a laptop bag! They are a bit different to the other merit badges I blogged about a while back!

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Skull love Patch

Same idea different colour, very Konstant Kaos. A while back I attempted a cot quilt using the skull love fabric with larger blocks. Although it looked ok, I wasn't happy, so it sat there on the hanger, taunting me.

So I gave it another crack, this time making sure I had at least 6 different patterns, not sure if the stripes work, but I wanted a contrasting fabric to the other ones. I sashed this one in black with white stars. The fabrics are whatever I could get my hands on from my stash.

Still deciding on what to back it with, but it might just be a red backing given the business of the front.

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

How do you write your blog posts?

I wear a lot of hats ...mother to Tori, wife to Andreas, teacher to many, crafter, business woman and writer ... yes writer!

At the moment I am working on manuscripts for the new version of Year 12 Information Technology Applications and Year 11 Information Technology textbooks. Three chapters in total, some of it re-working of old stuff into new stuff, some of it from scratch (such as the chapter on data visualisation and cloud computing).

When I tell people this they generally look twice as they tend not to consider that I would have a conducive personality to writing. Yes I am impulsive, a bit distant at times, I tend to get tounge tied, and yes it takes a great deal of self discipline to sit down and write (especially when you are ten steps away from a sewing machine), but I can do it ... I know I can!

Why do I write?

When you are in the writing zone, it is addictive ... my brain starts ticking, my fingers start typing and it gets me thinking, creating and linking to what is happening out there in the world.

At the moment, Inforation Technology is the only thing I write about apart from my blog and I would love the opportunity to change this and do more writing.

I enjoy doing secondary text books, as I can take what I have done and then bring it into the classroom where I can see the impact it has on the students learning. I tend to be quite creative in coming up with case study scenario's and you can generally pick out which chapters are mine by the types of images I choose.

Blog writing

As for my blog, when I am on a roll I am on a roll. For example; this blog post was conceived about 6 weeks ago when the moment grabbed me. I wrote down a few thoughts, saved it as a draft and I have been back a few times since then to add a picture or a few additional thoughts. Once finished it is either scheduled (such as this week when I *know* I am going to have a busy week) or it just sits there for the right moment.

I currently have 20 draft posts in my blog sitting there, fermenting, waiting on the right time, image and thoughts. So what do you want me to write about in this blog?

Monday, 22 February 2010

New Handbags on etsy

Finally getting around to putting some more stock into my etsy store!

Thea and Sami handbags

I absolutely love this print by Thea and Sami and I have a red version of the bag cut out waiting to be sewn up for moi! If you don't like the linings that I have chosen, there is a strong chance that I might have another one in production with a completely different lining. I tend not to make the same bag twice.

Crime Scene Handbags

So my Mum thinks that they are a bit dark ... but people seem to like the design!

These crime scene designs are also available on cushions to adorn your bed or sofa .. all 100% cotton machine washable!

Sunday, 21 February 2010

More Patchwork

It was far too hot in Melbourne yesterday and my study is not the coolest room in the house. But if I put a fan in the hall and point it into my sewing studio, then I can do some sewing work for a little while.

So I stole a few moments from the manuscript writing that I was meant to be doing and tried the pink patchwork combination again. It is meant to get to 32 degrees today, but at the moment there is a lovely cool breeze outside filtering into my study. So it is manuscript writing time again while the weather is good, the husband is sleeping and the daughter is entertained with Bear in the Big Blue House ...

I tried the pink colour scheme again, but with different blocks and a black sash around the outside to see how it would work. This method of making 9 blocks (each square is 2 1/2 inches x 2 1/2 inches, the rectangles are 2 1/2 x 6 1/2) is quicker and easier to make up, but I like the first version of random patterns in the squares. There is no real method to my patching madness, I tend to just start cutting and sewing ...

I've put aside some pink gingham for the back and again, some black and white striped bias for the sides. My big decision now is how to stipple them and I will probably use cotton or bamboo batting. The sashes might have colour specific stippling on top and perhaps white stipple for the patches inside. I am not too sure at the moment, so I will let them hang there in my sewing studio for a while until I decided.

Hoping to have these quilted and few more things in this colour scheme done for my March Northside Makers Market stall.

Saturday, 20 February 2010

Pram/Newborn Quilt

My patchwork sampler grew into something a bit bigger .. but I decided to stop at a Pram/Newborn Quilt. Here is what I have done so far. I hung it up on my window, so you can see that I still have some pressing to do on the seams before I do stippling.

Andreas and I argued about the colours of the sashing. He said it should be more black .. I wanted to keep it a girly pink. So the pink bats it was. My only annoyance is that in one corner there was pink gingham, so we have pink on pink ..

I am thinking of doing the back a black and white gingham (I love gingham) and then a black and white striped bias. What do you think?

Friday, 19 February 2010

Why is craft such a female dominated world?

I tend to indulge in a little mindless internet surfing from time to time, but this afternoon I stumbled across a collection of sites that I have not seen before. And I asked myself the question, why is craft such a female dominated world?

It is a bit strange to see sites called "Quilt Dad" and "I am just a guy who quilts" given that I am used to reading about women and mums who quilt.

Flipping through one of the daddy quilting blogs, I noticed that quilters of the male gender blog about different topics to many of the quilters of the female gender. Most of the posts are quilting related, but I am talking about the non-quilting posts. Once post sparked my interest I came across a post on Open Source Embroidery.

Being an IT person, I love it when I see cross over into craft. I am forever looking for computer quilting fabrics and thinking of how I can incorporate the geek into what I make.

Check out the two blogs I linked to. These guys are doing great stuff! Do you know any other crafty blokes blogs we should be looking at?
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Patchwork Sampler

I've been playing around with making some patchwork samplers ... can you imagine this on a nursery wall? I am still thinking about whether I should do stippling or a hand embroidered quilt border.

Of course, after I made the little sampler, I had to play around with the idea of making a matching cot quilt.

What do you think of the colours?

Oh! Totoro!

What the cats get upto when they think you are not home ...

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Market Countdown

February's Northside Makers Market snuck up on me so fast, in the last week I found myself in a bit if a tizz trying to keep my head above water ...

A while back I published a post called Top 10 hints for markets. You can be well organised on the day, but unless there are customers, your stock is not going to move one inch!!

The busier the market is, the better buzz it has. So what can you do?

Advertise far and wide

Yes, the market organisers should be responsible for some of this (some would argue most), but you need to do your part in building excitement about your business and the market. After all you want people to attend the market to look at your products not anyone elses!
  • You can email your friends and tell them. Encourage your friends to forward the email onto their friends.
  • Use Facebook, Twitter and other social networking tools to let people know what is happening ... if you don't have a Facebook Fan page then you should!
  • Build anticipation by showing parts of or hints about a new product range. For example Dear Fii does this so well with her gorgeous photography.
  • Make sure your neighbours/friends/relatives know about the market. They will get a buzz out of seeing your stuff.
Build Loyality

I have this one gorgeous customer that comes to every market and she generally brings a different friend each time to say hello.

So what can you do to build loyalty?
  • Do your blog readers get a discount if they mention your blog?
  • Have you emailed past customers and offered them an incentive for turning up?
  • Are you showcasing new products or services?
  • Ask yourself, how can I get my repeat customers to return to my market stall?
In addition to actually making things for the market stall, there are SO many other things that you can do to build excitement and your customer base. Curlypops ran a great competition a while back called SuperPops. That got everyone revved up and they wanted to see what she was making at her next stall.

Given that I felt so out of control before my next market, here is my count down list for the next Northside Makers Market in March. I work better with lists and it is easier to delegate if you know what you need to to!

4 weeks outbound
  • Send out facebook invites to friends. Let them know what you are doing!
  • Decide on whether you are going to have a new product range so that you have enough time to make and blog about it in snippets to build excitement!
  • Hand out fliers to your neighbours, get them to help. Ask them to take in pamphlets to work and put them up on the social noticeboards.
  • Do you have enough business cards and pamphlets for the next market stall? Get these organised now.
3 weeks outbound
  • Hint at the new products you will have at your market.
  • What new materials are you using?Are you showcasing or working on a new design?
  • Send out press release if you are launching a new product.
  • Has your favourite cafe got a poster of the next market you are at?
  • Make sure you go EVERYWHERE with pamphlets so that you can tell EVERYONE!
  • What forums do you frequent. Have you posted your market details on these forums?
2 weeks outbound
  • Make sure you have a big blog post about the market, and if the organisers have listed the stall holders then plug them as well. The more buzz the more customers.
  • Email out past customers (if you are able to) and let them know that you have new products or a special offer for them.
  • Advertise Blog specials for the market, 10% for regular readers with a code word! A free item with a larger item purchased.
  • Do you catch public transport? Leave a few pamphlets on the tram or train!
1 week outbound

Most of your personal advertising should be done by now. The market organisers are probably going at it hard (this comment from personal experience), but any pamphlets to friends should be done by this time so that they have time to distribute them. People generally need time to plan their weekends.
  • Make sure you have pamphlets for your NEXT market for your stall.
  • Do you have any discount coupons for customers that purchase large items?
  • Send out a reminder to your Facebook/Livejournal/Blogging friends
  • Reminders on any forums that you frequent.
  • More blog posts about your stock and the market. Tips for where to park the car? Cafe's to visit before and after? Help people make an event of it!
*phew* exhausted!

The very likelihood of me actually following a plan is remote, but I find if I write it down, there is a higher likelihood that I will pick up on about 50% of these tips and hints. Hope that you have found this list helpful!

    Tuesday, 16 February 2010

    Earn $1300 a week working from home ...

    This year I am juggling part time teaching, part time mother and part time small business. So overall "Kaos" is my middle name at the moment ...

    When people discover that you run a business from your front room they remark, "Oh it must be so good working from home", and then people have images of you traipsing around in your jimmy jams having lots of tea, watching Oprah and taking your time to lovingly cut fabric out and make things.

    The reality is far from that.

    Advantages with conventional employment is that if I am having a bad day, I can effectively do the bare minimum and the money will still end up in my bank account at the end of the month. Working from home is different, you need to be driven and disciplined and most people just don't get that.

    If I spend a day on the couch, my business suffers. If my daughter is sick, my business suffers. If the neighbours who are building an extention are jackhammering the drive way, my business suffers.

    I recently stumbled upon an article at Anthill Online which spoke about making your business appear bigger than it actually is and it took me back to a conversation I had had with some fellow crafters about why why we work from home, why we "do" craft. Often the answer is because of flexibility of hours and the fact that we are accountable only to ourselves.

    So it has been with great interest to watch some of our local crafters move from kitchen table manufacturing into getting their own studio and then expanding interstate.

    While I would love that for Konstant Kaos eventually, the key word is eventually. Perhaps wise old Margaret understands that once you are on that expansion roller coaster, it is very hard to come off. And when you do come off, it might be in a blaze of glory!

    For every article that talks about the wads of cash craft-at-home workers are making,and the changing craft marketplace, there is also an article like this one that talks about the falsehoods of hobby-cash that etsy portrays and how it's idealism pedals a false feminist fantasy of being able to have it all simply by working at home ...

    So I pose the the question, out of all of you that read my blog, why do you have a crafty business from home? Is it because of the flexible working hours? Is it because you get time to do crafty things and get paid for them? Is it because you have a child? Is it because you can traipse around in jimmy jams and watch Oprah?

    Wednesday, 10 February 2010

    Bored tonight?

    Come along and heckle me at Craft@ Borders at the Jam Factory from 6pm - 8pm

    I'll only have 1/2 a table there, but come and see how much I manage to squeeze into it!

    Hey, thanks to Beky at PivX for adding text to a blank poster that was sent to us ...

    Trip to the bookshop

    A recent trip down to Lygon Street for dinner meant a trip to the various bookstores and a look see at what new crafty books were there for me to covet.

    Altered Curiosities had some interesting projects in it. In particular a project of embedding a butterfly wing in resin.

    Secrets of Rusty Things is a similar book to the first one that I mentioned. Some steampunk inspired projects in this one. I immediately thought of Tinniegirl and some of the collages she has been working on when I flipped through this book.

    I took a picture of the last one, Dominknitrix, especially for Trudi!

    Unlike many years ago when we used to spend hours after dinner roaming the rows of books, now the experience is very different. Having to remember colouring paper and taking it in turns to occupy Tori while the other looks around at books.

    She is getting better at the bookshop experience. This time around she spotted a book that she liked and wanted to sit up like all the big people and read it.
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    Tuesday, 9 February 2010

    Crime Scene Cushions

    I had fun making these, they can now be found in my etsy shop.

    Memories of Costume Balls

    I was very excited to learn that people who organised the "Labyrinth Ball", The Guild of the Golden Owl,  will be holding another mid-winter masquerade ball in Melbourne again.

    It was the first costuming event that I had gone to since I had Tori and I could fit into nothing in my costume wardrobe. So I made my outfit, from black velveteen and the skirt was re-fashioned from another costume. Andreas pulled out his old Regency suit from the Regency Ball we had attended a few years back.


    It was the second major project I had done on my embroidery machine, the first being my daughters baptism dress. I traced the pattern piece onto the fabric, did the embroidery and then cut it out the pattern piece and sewed it to the other pieces. The pattern was a commercial historical corset pattern.

    We spent weeks making the masks from scratch and they sat in front of the "fire" in our back room drying on wire racks. Andreas wanted to go for a steampunk type look, so we made the base mask from paper mache, created the nose and then when it was finished stuck bits of square plastic on it to make it look like plates of metal. The rivits you see are blobs of dimensional paint. A hinge and eye piece completed the look. The paint work was silver spray paint and dry brushed with black.

    It was an enjoyable night with lots of other friends making the effort to dress up.

    Kerri dragged out her regency ball gown as well and Marina looked lovely in electric blue!

    Not sure if we will attend the next one, it is on a boat and I don't go too well with boats. But I am itching for another opportunity to do some costuming, some sewing just for me rather than for etsy or a market.
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    Saturday, 6 February 2010

    Northside Makers Market Wrap Up

    The weather was fabulous, the people gorgeous and the crafts to die for ... but the customers were casual and cautious. Could it have been school fees? Rates notice due in? Economic climate? Not sure, but it was great catching up with people and having some wonderful stimulating and empowering discussions with some fabulous women!

    The thing that is great about markets, is that it forces me to make stock.

    So even if I don't sell all of it, my online store benefits from the energy that goes behind preparing for the market. I love the three Thea and Sami bags that I made for the market, the fabric is to-die-for!

    The jewel in my crown was my crime scene and Wizard of Oz range and both were warmly received. The bag with the four friends facing the emerald city was sold before the market opened and I ended the day with someone buying the bag with the Ruby red slippers on it for their friend.

    Even though some older members of the community thought that the crime scene things were a bit "dark". I enjoyed making them, that is the main thing - right?

    I bought myself a gorgeous Finki Handmade necklace... can you see it, isn't it gorgeous!I also got some yummy steampunk inspired badges from Mrs Beckinsale and some felt donuts for my daughters pretend tea set from Miss Rosie (I didn't get a business card?).

    A huge thank-you to my gorgeous husband who helped me ALL DAY and my inlaws for babysitting my daughter!

    Friday, 5 February 2010

    Crime Scene Handbags

    I've been buring the midnight oil trying to finish off all that I can for Saturday's Northside Makers Market ... it's going to be a lovely 26 degrees ... so you must come down and say hello!

    I am rather pleased with the way my Crime Scene Handbags came out... they will sit alongside the Crime Scene Pillows I have done. Decaptiation, Broken Heart and Vampires will all be available for purchase .. along with dismemberment (not pictured).

    I've really been enjoying doing the hand embroidery on these handbags. I ended up using machine applique for the blood, faster and more effective.

    But I still have a few more to finish, press and then tag before Saturday morning. Does anyone know the collective noun for a group of handbags?

    Wednesday, 3 February 2010

    Northside Makers Market

    I'll be glad when the week is over. The first full teaching week back is always hard yakka. Lesson plans, parent evenings, very little sleep and lots of photocopying. But in between all of this, I have managed to steal some time to make some stock for my first market of the year, Northside Makers Market. As a Northside committee member, I haven't been much use at all .. and to my team mates I apologise and promise to make it up with cider and martini's!

    So here is a sneak peak of what I have been doing ...Firstly, my Wizard of Oz range .... Some Market Bags ....

    Each one of course has a surprise lining ... you'll just have to come to the market to see what I have done!

     Some makeup bags or small pouches and some coin purses, these ones a bit bigger than my usual ones, so they should fit a licence.

    I was very excited about using the Thea and Sami  hand screen printed fabric. They are a Queensland based business and they hand print it all themselves.

    The bag has a bit of a Mattt's bag's feel to it, but the pattern is all mine and it is 100% cotton and machine washable (actually, the Thea and Sami fabric is 55% hemp/45% organic cotton).

    And of course some new japanese fabrics have been used as well. I love this print and the colour palette.

    So come along to our first Northside Makers Market for the year and check out all the new crafters and some old and trusty ones.
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