July 30, 2010

2011 Sewing Calendar,

Last year, I was lucky enough to be included in the 2010 Sewing Calendar by Accord Publishing.  A feat which has been repeated again this year too, and earlier this week, my copies arrived.

As with last years calendar, this one has also been put together by Megan Smith, which is a huge task to undertake, as you can see in the picture above, it includes over 100 projects.  There are 5 projects from me, Valentine's Day love letter, Wristwatch pincushion, and the Christmas Robin are already available in the blog sidebar,

but the Chicken Softie and coordinating Chick Finger Puppet are new.

The projects are organised throughout the calendar to correspond to yearly events, such as Easter and Christmas, and the display box everything comes in is designed to fold back on itself so it can sit on a tabletop and be easily accessed.  Even though many of the included projects are available online, this calendar is a hugely valuable resource.  There is no need to print anything out as everything, including templates (thus avoiding any problems in getting the scale correct), needed for each project is included within each project page.

The 2011 Sewing Calendar is already available to buy now in both the USA and UK.

July 22, 2010

How much...??!

In addition to selling handmade craft items through online market places like Etsy, I often, as I imagine most blogging crafters also do, get a lot of speculative email enquiries.  The difference I find with being approached in this way, is that when a potential customer is browsing through an online shop, they can already see the prices there next to the item.  But when someone makes a direct enquiry, they genuinely have very little idea how much a commissioned item is potentially going to cost, and they are, in my experience, usually a little shocked.  Even though the asking price may well not be particularly high.  Herein lies my personal pricing dilemma, one which I suspect other crafters may well recognise.

I find myself cringing, when replying back with a price.  Then I ask myself, why is it making me cringe so much?  There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to pricing craft items, and most crafters will already know this basic formula for working costings out,

materials + labour + overheads = minimum sale price

what about this next formula?

materials + labour + overheads + % profit = minimum sale price

I quite often feel like 'profit' can be a bit of a dirty word.

Looking at this another way, this time in terms of a comparison to drawing a salary.  A small softie, eg a cotton reel pincushion, lets say I charge £12 ($18.34).  It takes just less than 2 hours to make from start to finish, so divide £12 by 2, and that's £6 ($9.17) an hour.  In the UK, from October, the minimum wage will be £5.93 ($9.06) an hour.  Am I, despite being Degree educated and having 12 years worth of industry experience, really only worth 7p (11¢) more?

But can I realistically charge more than £12?  In all honesty in the current global financial climate, no I don't think I could.  The end product is after all, despite being handmade, just a pincushion.  Which leads me to ask, do I automatically devalue it myself by making it into something practical?  If the same item was marketed as an art object instead eg, vintage cotton reel soft sculpture, how much impact, if any, would this subtle re-branding have on its commercial value?

The answer lies partly in breaking down the business model behind each product any crafter makes.  Looking at the figures I've quoted above, a cotton reel pincushion would not be classed as a commercially viable product.  They take too long to make (or I probably need to speed up) when compared to the income generated.  I make them because I like to make them and they look cute.

I am certain I can't be alone in feeling like this, and hope this post will open up a bit of a discussion about pricing as I would dearly love to hear your experiences...

July 20, 2010


 Had to flip the card in the photo so you could read it!

Thank you for all the birthday wishes, I've had a fab weekend.  My birthday on Friday was kicked off with my Mum arriving to look after Lucy & Luke whilst we went off to Cambridge for 2 days & 1 night.  Then me & Mum spent the day here on Sunday.  We had a morning in the spa followed by a massage, facial and a pedicure.  For the first time ever, I have painted toenails.  Chocolate brown toenails!

There are no photo's as all the good stuff has either been eaten or just purely indulged!

July 15, 2010

Pins & needles,

I've been (finally, after what has been a rather longer gap than intended!) putting together a few items to put up on Etsy,

 and first off the press are some cotton reel pincushion,

 which will be making an appearance soon when I have more time (and better light) to photograph them better.

 Until then, I believe I need to pack an overnight bag.  Tonight I go to bed as a 39 year old, clinging on to her 30's.  

Tomorrow, I wake up 40.


July 9, 2010

Wildlife update,

The Beaver, is a primarily nocturnal, semi aquatic rodent with two main species, the North American Beaver and the European Beaver.  They are best known for their natural trait of building dams on rivers and streams.  Their population has been dwindling worldwide, and in Europe, they have been hunted almost to extinction.  However, in recent years the Beaver has began to be re-introduced throughout Europe, including Scotland and a select number of areas within the english countryside.

To protect the Beaver, and their still fragile community, new breeds have been established which are harder to spot.  If you see one, you have been extremely lucky indeed.

July 5, 2010

On my desk today,

I'm working on a new pattern for a Beaver, which, as always begins with a bit of sketching, and seeking out reference material.  Look at that, in this online era in which we live, a book!  Still the best place to start in my opinion.

It doesn't matter what I do, my softie designs always come out looking a little comical.  I guess it's just my style.  There are many other softie designers whose style I admire, Tamar (of course!) and Lauri to name two.  I find their work to have an edge I fear mine lacks, but that is something I've long since come to terms with.  Design style is something that constantly develops.  The designs I do now, are very different to how I was working when I began blogging three years ago, and no doubt in another three years, it will have evolved again.  There is an opportunity on the horizon to push myself to be a bit more experimental, I've been accepted to show at Plush You 2010 in Seattle.  Eeeek! what shall I make?, suggestions needed, animal, object, ...monster?!

July 2, 2010

Kids, grrrrrrrrrrr!

One of the perils of being a Mum of school aged children is having to (usually, at very short notice) come up with various costumes for events on at school.  This week's is Superhero Day.  Lucy's class have had lots of fun this term doing projects involving Superheros, and today the whole year group (plus teachers) have gone in costumes.  Now, as always in our house, the children decide what they want to go as, and I try and come up with the goods, although I have to admit defeat on a couple of occasions when we've just gone out and bought something instead.  The biggest problem I have is with them constantly changing their minds.

Last week, Lucy was going as Wonder Girl.  She drew a design,

we went out shopping for a red t-shirt and green skirt, she decided Wonder Girl needed a logo, so I stitched a 'W' onto the top, and also made some green wrist bands too.  

There we go, sorted.  Until...,

this week, we met Cheetah Girl.  I would normally stand my ground on this and say no, already having made one costume, but she won me over after drawing a whole cartoon strip for the new character.

So, this was me last night,

Luckily, we already had a yellow t-shirt, which is now covered in Cheetah spots, oh and also a logo, because all Superheros need a logo, right?!

So, here she is, Cheetah Girl (although she is wearing Wonder Girls wristbands as a compromise).  The next costume I make is for me.  Supermum.

ps, it's July.  Countdown to turning 40 begins here!