Liberty, birds and a whole lot of sewing…

Hello lovely folk of the aesthetically beautiful tastes! It’s been AGES – sorry about that. I’ve been a bit overcommitted of late. And I’m going to try for a short post today (! yeah… good luck with that, delusional self) and just show you this:

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Liberty scraps and natural linen zippered pouch, measures 6” x 4”. Actually it’s a linen cotton mix, but it’s darned near perfect, nice fine weave and a good weight.

I freemotion embroidered the branch and raw edge appliqued on the hummingbird with black thread, and actually really like the result, yay! It’s supposed to be a hummingbird, at least I copied the silhouette from a photo of a hummingbird, so let’s go with that even if my needle-drawing isn’t going to satisfy any twitchers on here… I’m hoping it will hold with just one stitching line – it’s so delicate that 2 lines would overpower the image I thought. I used steam-a-seam II to secure the applique first which is as much as I think I can do – so much stronger than wonder-under.

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A pretty polka dot lining – I got this from my local fabric shop and adore it! It’s a sage green, not as khaki as it looks on my computer… and at half the price of designer cotton, I love it even more. I always include a layer of batting for strength and structure too.

I made it for a craft fair – I know I say I never do them except for the annual village fair, but made an exception this year because it is in aid of a tiny rural village school where my son went to nursery when he was too freaked out to settle in our own bigger village nursery. I have talked before about what they meant to us as a family https://cuckooblue.co.uk/post/91088996087/quilts-of-gratitude , and have committed to continuing to support them. So it’s been sewing chaos in the last 2 weeks (yes, I started late…).

Oh go on then, I’ve already failed at keeping this short!

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Some toiletry bags – large and small. The large are big enough to hold all my daily cosmetics, creams, deoderant, nail varnish, hair bands, eyelash curlers (I used to use them every day before becoming a mother… now they mostly sit there in a pretty washbag!) etc, the small are travel sized, or perfect for children.

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Pencilcase style bag organisers for lippy/ keys/ whatever – or just as pencilcases! This designs are more kid pencilcases, hold on I’ll see if I can find a more grown up picture:

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Very grown up! There are matching zip purses too amongst this lot:

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….er, actually there are not. But there will be. Probably.

And whilst we are doing a wee bit of the free-motion embroidery:

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The ubiquitous caravan and bunting cushion. Yes I know everyone in the world with a sewing machine who wants to try this technique starts with this scene – but hey, why not? It’s fun, cute and nice simple shapes. I made 3 in a different colours and a VW campervan too. I mostly used scraps except for that polka dot fabric again – see the pink too? Isn’t it lovely? Scrap busting is satisfying but man it takes TIME. Finding the right size, matching colours, ironing the wrinkles out because you have stored them badly… I really need to find a way of using scraps more efficiently because I’m bad at it. And you can imagine I make a lot of scrap…!

Well, I had no business writing to you, as I still have so much to do and so little time before Saturday and the Market! Still it’s nice to share some sewing goodness with like-minded folk. Hope your creative muse is inspiring you too – pre christmas sewing/ crafting/ browsing/ buying? Enjoy whatever you’re doing.

’till the next time, Poppy xx

A week of sewing like a madwoman? I feel a craft fair coming on..

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Of all the things I’d planned to blog about – and there is now a queue – this was not one of them. 6 days ago I agreed to do a craft fair – which is in 5 days time – eeeeeeek! I think I must be a little insane.

It’s the same craft fair that I did a year ago, in our village, usually for a charity, and is part of a stately home open day, where there’s a bouncy castle, facepainting etc. I did it last year at 3 weeks’ notice and thought I was a mentalist then, but apparently that was me being organised, positively relaxed even… The day before it, I launched this blog, and since then I’ve had a nice gentle stream of sales and interest from the village which has been very lovely. So maybe that’s why it felt right to do it again.

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So this is the very popular zippered purse, this one in Sidewalks by Riley Blake. It’s pocket sized but bigger than last year to more comfortably fit cards as well as cash. Interfaced with batting for durability and that soft feel, and of course always a pretty lining, because we deserve eye candy inside our purses even if there’s not as many notes in there as we’d like!

Pretty and floral designs:

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(Clockwise from top left – Enchant for Riley blake, Flutter for Riley Blake, sweet shoppe Michelle D’Amour for Bernatex, Songbird in white, from Vintage Summer Collection by Little Yellow Bicycle for Blend, Sweet Shoppe, Marmalade by Bonnie and Camille for Moda)

Liberty coin purses:

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Brights and retro:

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(Clockwise from top left – Flutter by The Quilted Fish for Riley Blake, Blue birds on lampost by Kate and Birdie from Bluebird Park for Moda, Sidewalks by October Afternoon, Flutter)

Fun or for kids:

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(Clockwise from top left: oh darn, cannot remember the name/designer/anything about the owl fabric! Sorry! Going Coastal by Emily Herrick, Out at Sea by Sarah Jane fo Michael Miller Fabrics, Ele train shroom by Dan Stiles for Birch fabrics (organic), Bluebird park by Kate and Birdie)

And the most popular thing I seem to make, the large toiletry bag /washbag

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Lined with white canvas, interfaced for stability with softness, I love these! And they have improved the look of my dressing table no end, they are deceptively big and take all my bits and pieces including my hairbrush. That one was in Flutter red for Riley Blake…

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That was Ele Train Shroom by Dan Stiles for Birch and is Organic cotton – somehow manages to be grown up as well as cute.

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Not that I made them to be sets, but they could be – the flat pouch is a makeup pouch or handbag organiser for keys/ phone/ purse/ lippy whatever. Or a pencilcase, especially when made in a kid fabric.

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The above is Sidewalks by October Afternoon for Riley Blake – this is my new current favourite fabric 🙂

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Jungle Elephants (makower)

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Peak Hour Ad White by Kellie Wulfsohn for Riley Blake – so cool! Especially with a bright fabric lining (from Space collection by Makower I think)

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Out at Sea by Sarah Jane – I’m a bit obsessed with those mermaids! Remind me of the Heather Ross Mendocino Swim Sisters which I never got any of but now is so rare it sells for a small fortune on etsy – I actually gasped, even though that’s something you only think happens in novels. This is not a bad second though. I got some of this with my little niece in mind, but haven’t yet managed to make her something yet – a swim bag maybe…?

Not everything is newly made this week, I have a few lavender pillows which still smell divine, and one or two kindle cases – soft yet waterproof and padded to prevent scratches or mishaps with burst waterbottles in your bag or by the pool. This one is in Songbird in white by Little Yellow bicycle for Blend fabrics.

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And finally… some Scrabble tile pendants! These are fun, sweet and funky – an image on a wooden scrabble tile topped with an epoxy resin seal, a nickel and lead free bail on the back and sold with a silver plated (nickel/lead free) chain (or alone). I’ll have about 50 on the day. They seem to sell well at fairs, so fingers crossed, and though this is a small selection, they are mostly different from each other. 

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The best thing about doing these this year has been “meeting” (virtual, she being in the US and me being in Scotland) a lovely lovely Etsy seller called Leslie at the Graphicalmuse, whose talented work you see on pendant numbers 2 and 4 above. I love Etsy and love these amazing and lovely creative folk we get to “meet” through the blogging and crafting world. This whole craft fair is worth it for having made a new friend 🙂

So I’m finished sewing now; I don’t want to get too tired before the fair because I found the event fun but tiring last time, and I’m going to follow all my advice I gave myself after doing it last year, but get organised well in advice.

https://cuckooblue.co.uk/post/48960849472/craft-fair-and-other-stories

I wondered why I could blitz through all these makes, when it normally takes a while to do one washbag  – the answer is factory line preparation. I spent 2 days literally collecting all the fabrics I wanted to use, then cutting everything – fabrics, interfacing, gathering all supplies everything. Then sewed it all up. I broke 6 needles. And I sewed like a maniac until I was SO BORED of sewing, which has never happened before that I can remember. And my room looked like this: image

So I’m glad to be getting it back, and am excited about some more quilting, because I got new quilting toys that I can’t wait to try out! I’ll tell you next time. By the way, anything I don’t sell will hopefully finally get put onto this blog and/ or a facebook page for sale, though probably UK only unless I get a lot of pressure!

Meanwhile, enjoy doing whatever you’re doing, and see you very soon.

Till the next time, Poppy xx

Craft Fair and other stories

oh my, am i going to have to get better at blogging regularly! It has been 20 days since my last confession, I mean blog post. And the sewing machine’s been firing, there have been babies to make for, and commissions from the craft fair have already started 🙂 Too busy sewing to talk apparently… now there’s a first 😉

So the Craft Fair was so much fun! It was in the gardens of beautiful Winton House; I borrowed tables from one of my neighbours and a gazebo from another, inclement weather being a notable feature of Scottish villages… And hijacked my 3 year old’s blackboard too, for which I had to bribe him with chocolate stars. They learn fast these days.

here goes first picture:

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That’s me and my friend Ana, who was helping me all day… we are well wrapped as though it didn’t rain (just) it was FREEZING! we both had 2 pairs socks, legwarmers, a gazillion jumpers and thick downy coats – we both look like the Stay-Puft Marshmallow man… but that’s the first tip – dress for the weather, as you are just standing around all day! Though not glamourous admittedly…

And that carefully written blackboard was turned into a “monster going through a bush” pretty fast on reentering the house!

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That’s a bit of a closer view. Although I didn’t have any bunting for sale, it was nice to have my own banner, and I think helped draw folk in. I can’t believe I’ve done so many little bunting names for children and my sis-in-law’s business, and this is the first time I made some for myself! I know bunting is everywhere now, but it is so pretty.

Sales-wise I was thrilled. I priced my items pretty low, not enough to make a living wage from time-wise, but enough to cover costs and a bit more to add to the “feeding fabric addiction” pot. The dull and very cold weather reduced numbers, but there was still a reasonable turnout – helped by the activities for children – bouncy castle, dancing displays, face painting by the amazing Shirley of Pink Tiger Face Painting – I don’t think Ana’s daughter ever wanted to wash her face again! It could have gone either way, noone interested in the craft stalls, but actually I think the “day out” feel helped draw in the crowd, despite the weather! In itself I don’t think a craft fair outside, in April, in Scotland would be enough to pull you from your sofa…

Everything sold quite well, I sold about half of what I had. As expected people did tend to go for smaller items especially ones which would be good as a gift (like the washbags) or purses, so I had had fun making those, rather than my main love which is quilts.

Actually, the quilts got a lot of interest, which I was surprised at. Although I do suspect people thought they would cost more than I was selling them for, again because I wasn’t charging living wage for my time, I just needed some pocket money for fabric. I’m sure the low pricing strategy helped with number of sales, although is it better to sell 3 things for £4 each or 2 things for £6 each? I think that’s a decision each stall holder has to make!

So for anyone contemplating a craft fair… in Scotland… outside… in April… what are you crazy?? Anyway here’s what I learned about surviving the day:

1. Be organised! this blog post really helped me work out what I needed:

http://handmadejane.blogspot.co.uk/2011/02/craft-fair-tips.html

2. Dress for the weather!

3. Bring tea/ coffee in flasks and a packed lunch and snacks. I had a constant stream of customers and never made it away from the stall. I had to grab bites of sandwich in between customers! We took tea over to the face painter who kept going all day. Although I think the organisers intended to bring refreshments over, it never happened, everyone was just too busy.

4. I made a simple list of all my items, just using a “Word” table, and Ana and I ticked them off as we sold them. This kept us straight even though 2 of us were serving customers at the same time. I did have a receipt book as suggested by craftyjane, but didn’t need it.

4. A Float. I struggled a bit with this. I chose a £50 float with £30 in coins, 2x £5 and £10. We were just about OK with that. but next time I would take more £10 notes. It clearly depends on what you are selling and for how much, but almost everything we had was under £10, and lots of folk had come with a £20. I kept prices to either a whole number of pounds or ending in 50p so that it would be easier to do the maths. That was definitely a good idea, especially when there was a rush on!

5. Smile and say hi – when we did, people who were hovering suddenly came closer, smiled and started looking. But I think people were less likely to approach if we were talking amongst ourselves, I guess noone likes to feel they are intruding even if it’s a shop! I hate hard sells, so didn’t start talking whilst folk were browsing, I tried to emanate a comfortable companiable silence 😉 and waited until they were interested or started talking to me themselves. We had lots of lovely chatty people which was great!

6. Have a demonstration of things which people don’t know about. The travel chalkboards all sold, mainly because I had one out, and asked children to leave us a little picture, even if the parents didn’t buy anything. Once people saw them in action, and kids wanted to add their own art, it generated a lot of interest!

7. Try and have an interesting colourful display. The colours drew folk to our stall (or so they said!) Once there, most people bought something small. I had baskets and tried to vary the height a bit. My neighbour lent me a white wire tree from which I hung all the pendants – it did look pretty!

8. Put a price tag on everything. Everything. Once People pick something up, they might not want to engage in conversation, so it’s good if they can see the prices straightaway. It was nice to see folk looking at the tag of a purse, then picking up a couple of purses to buy and looking harder at some of the other items on display. I got luggage label tags and my 3 year old and I stamped a design on them – they looked quite nice I thought! I wrote a description and care instructions on the back or the labels.

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8. Get some cheap paper bulk carrier bags from amazon. For about £4 I got 50 paper bags – only good for lightweight items, but that’s what I was selling!

9. My “business cards” went really well, especially as it got too cold for folk to browse. I popped one into each bag too. Sadly I am not really a business, just a blog (oh yeah, with 2 posts!) and a flickr stream, so i felt a bit sheepish that so many folk were taking a card. Still, hopefully soon I’ll have a gallery and some items for sale/ commission!

10. Above all be sure why you are going and ensure you fulfill that need. I wouldn’t have done this fair if it were in Edinburgh, even though only half an hour away, the return would not have been enough for the effort. This village fair was a community event I wanted to be part of. It was great that lots of folk I knew from the village could see my hobby and not many people knew I sewed, let alone for so long! The table fee was 10% of takings, which was fine for my profit margins and good in that I didn’t lose money if nothing sold – because you just don’t know what people will be looking for on the day. Some of the other stalls had gorgeous stuff which didn’t sell. It’s luck of the draw. So you don’t go to something like this village event to make a lot of money. I was hoping for £50, and did much better than than. I told myself not to be disappointed if I didn’t get that. Ana and I had fun because we were together, it would have been a different experience alone; not only is it physically easier with two people (a consideration for me personally for various reasons) but it is definitely more fun, and you encourage each other, even when it’s freezing! I am pretty sure that if I did this again, I’d make sure I took a buddy again!

11. Prepare to be very tired afterwards, so be nice to yourself! My husband and little son were amazing and hung out exploring the gardens and playing from 10.30 till 4pm. Neill put up and took down the gazebo and unloaded and reloaded the car with everything. By evening, we were both exhausted and so we spent some of my takings on a takeaway! And it was gooooooood. And I didn’t touch my sewing machine for 4 days – a record in this house! 😉

Well it’s time for bed. And back to dreaming about my real sewing loves – bags and quilts. And anything for my little boy! Meanwhile I’ll leave you with some pics of a U-Handbag pattern I tried recently for my neighbours daughter:

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will share pattern details next time. Till then night night xx

Poppy

p.s. you can contact me via poppy@cuckooblue.co.uk especially if you were at the craft fair!

or visit my flickr stream at http://www.flickr.com/photos/cuckoo-blue/