And the winner is…

Anne of Andamento.  Congrats Anne, there will be a Plum Fairy and some Christmas Birds winging their way to you Monday.

Thank you everyone who left a comment, I enjoyed doing a giveaway and think this will become a regular item on my blog.  As you can see we did this the old fashioned way with the help of my glamorous assistant, Felix and my old bowler hat.  Sorry for the awful photos but this was, as you can appreciate, a ‘live’ situation and as you may be able to see in the background we are in the middle of the pre Christmas toy culling session which is a little stressful as it largely involves me putting things in a box and the boys taking them out again.  Has to be done though, so best get back on with it.

Thanks again for your lovely comments!

Playing Catch-up…

It’s all go around here, I am ‘confined’ to the kitchen/living area again, this time because we have the decorators working in the hallway.  I am very excited as I am normally the painter and decorator but I really don’t have time, it’s odd paying someone else to do it, feels a bit like money down the drain but it’s so very exciting to peek in and see the transformation and there is no way with Mr C still at home full time that I could have done it.

The shop has also been busy, I seem to be packing and posting throughout the day.  In fact I had a run on fairies which I wasn’t expecting so there has been a lot of this

frantic last minute making, and I ran out of cashmere bears so have had to run up a batch of those

I am slightly alarmed that I will run out of the lovely cashmere/wool blend fabric as I only bought 6 meters and it was an ebay find so is all gone now.  I love it so much, I’m not sure what I will replace it with.  I have been doing a bit of ebay fabric buying recently, in fact this lovely Liberty Tana Lawn arrived this morning

The pattern is ‘Wiltshire’ and I have bought it for next winter (thinking ahead!).  My winter coat has the same fabric as lining and I have had a project in mind for some time, one I had planned for this year but haven’t had time for.

I’ve also packed up some stock for the School Christmas Bazaar,

they were asking for ‘homemade’ items to sell so this is my contribution.

There has been time for a little cooking, the squash I grew makes a great decoration but I wanted to make sure some gets eaten whilst still in it’s prime.  I made a squash pizza from the book Apples for Jam by Tessa Kiros, one of my favourite cook books which has the best photos.

I am done now.  No more making for the shop, if I run out, I run out but I have blinds to make for my sister and still a bag to make for my Mother and I want some time to tidy and decorate the house (tidy being the big one right now) so I have decided to sew for the shop this week and then stop.  Yeah, right!  Like that’s gonna happen.

Finally, as always, I have found just a little bit of time for some online shopping (other than fabric) and I treated myself to

some Christmas origami cranes on the Folksy shop Little Crane to hang in the kitchen window and some book name stickers bought from the wonderfully talented (come on, we all know her) Emily Martin over at the black apple.

Right, need to get on, things to do, places to go and all that.  Oh, there’s still time to enter my Christmas giveaway if you haven’t left a comment, go on, it’s free!

(PS sorry for the dodgy photos but the light has been very bad as of late)

Christmas give away…

Yep, I am feeling festive and my Online Shop is about to turn 1 (this is in fact my second shop, the first was created in Google but was a bit hard work so I moved to MrSite last December), so what better way to celebrate than with a festive Christmas give away.  So, I have one Plum Fairy and one set of Purple and Gold Birds up for grabs (she looks rather dull but I promise Plum Fairy is a rather jaunty shade of purple not dingy brown).

All you have to do is leave a comment on this post, any comment, doesn’t have to be long, just say ‘hi there’ if that’s all you wish and comments must be left by Friday 27th November.  I’ll post anywhere, but abroad will be by regular Airmail so it may take a while.

That’s it.  Ahhhh, my first ever give away, almost brings a tear to the eye…

Folksy Upcycle Competition – Foxy Twins…

I have finally finished my entry for the Folksy Christmas Upcycle Competition which is being run to raise money for the Sue Ryder Care Charity, with all the entries being put into an auction to run from 7th – 13th December.  I had hoped to make something different to my ‘usual’ work, such as re-blocking and decorating an old felt hat or making some new/old clothes (I don’t get to use my millinery or pattern cutting skills very often), I even considered making a corset based on a period pattern.  Could have, would have…but didn’t.

My final decision was largely influenced the materials I found in our local village charity shops plus I have foxes on the brain at the moment as they keep wandering around our garden.  So, here we have the Foxy Twins, Florian and Florence.

They started life as a polyester fleece shirt, a rather lovely floral cotton lawn shirt and a blue cord skirt all from the ‘Heart of Kent Hospice’ charity shop, bought especially for the occasion (£5 + £3.50 + £3.50).

To this I added some floral fabric bought last year from the ‘Mind’ charity shop  (£3.50…I think most things are priced £3.50!), polyester stuffing from an old cushion, which meets safety regulations I should add and some wool on the tail from my scrap box.

Florence has a cute dress with straps and blue shirring running along the top and a cape with collar made from the cord skirt, lined with the floral fabric and old Laura Ashley ribbons stitched together for ties.

Florian has smart trousers made from the cord skirt in a sailor style, with shell buttons taken from the shirt (the popper fastening came from a stash belonging to my Gran so must be rather old).  He also wears a top made from the lovely (honestly, I didn’t really want to cut it up) blue floral shirt with bias binding trim.

There was a lot of morphing along the way, the original foxes were front facing and I had planned a skirt for Florence with a shirring top, but I am happy with the result.  It was a fun project and it is after all for charity!

Where did they go…?

When I came to pack up the Bunny Lavender Bags photographed the last post (thank’s Kirsten!) I was surprised their storage box looked like this

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where did they all go?  Well I guess that’s a daft question, I’ve sold them all except the last lonely three left, of which I plan to keep one as a sample.

When I originally made them, my husband was not keen, he really didn’t like them so much so that I gave them a low price and then they went in the sale with a really, really low price.  They then turned out to be one of my best sellers which just proves my husband knows nothing about these things and I should trust my instinct.

A little trip down iPhoto memory lane reminds me I had a nightmare marking out the patterns

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and that the originals were to have button tails and were to come in four colour ways

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but my finished Bunnies were most definitely cute enough

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so much so that I will miss them and plan to make more after a Bunny break, probably next year now and most definitely in time for Easter (yes, yes I am always thinking ahead for the shop, sorry), but for now there are two green ones left on Folksy ready to hop away and when they’re gone, they’re gone!…well ’till next year anyway.

That packaging post I’ve been promising for a while…

DSC_0248When I first decided to sell on-line, I realised I needed good postage safe packaging so after hours pricing up different packing combinations, I placed a large (for me) order with Rajapack.  This consisted of brown cardboard boxes, tissue paper (apple green – I decided early on to choose a main colour and stick to it), small green kraft gift bags (one of my best buys), a large roll of brown paper, Jiffy bags and some green circle stickers for sealing packages.

I made plenty of mistakes such as cutting patterns for new designs according to whim and not thinking about posting them (so having to go and buy yet more packaging) and going a bit overboard with boxes not realising then that my main sellers would be lavender bags that would be better sent in Jiffys.  As a result, I now have 4 sizes of cardboard box (2 of which I hardly ever use), 4 sizes of Jiffy, 1 size of bio-degradable ‘plastic’ bag all of which have to be stored somewhere.  My husband loves all my shop stuff 😉  Having learnt some lessons,  I now design with existing packaging in mind and I also try to pack so I don’t have to go to the post office as this involves driving around our village for 20 mins trying to find a parking space, so ideally I stamp small items at home.

Everyone reading this will know (I have failed to buy anything homemade which hasn’t been packaged beautifully) the packing is a key part to selling homemade goods, I frequently buy mass produced things that are also well packaged but it’s nice to have a personal touch with the little details.  I’ve written about this before here and here, in fact I see I am slightly repeating myself so sorry if you pop back to read these posts, however I am a MOO fan, in the mini cards and business cards, if you pop back to the links above you can read all about my corner cutting tools used to add the finishing touch to my (then) new MOO business cards.

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I am also a bit addicted to our printer, again you can read more here, but I do like to print postage labels and cards, that is until I have to replace the ink and remember how much it can cost!

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In fact this is a great opportunity to show you a lovely package that arrived this morning from Kirsty at Kirsty Elson Designs.

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How nice it that?  and the contents are great, I especially love the Reindeer card.

I recently had a packaging problem in that I didn’t have a way to send my new Christmas Birds, I was worried their beaks would get bent if they were packed in a Jiffy and they are too small to pack in a box (the minimum postage for which is £1.62) so I decided to order some postcards to fix them to from Overnight Prints. I highly recommend these guys, the order was produced in Germany and I had progress emails throughout the whole process.  I should point out though, they are not overnight unless you want to pay extra and the other rub is there is a set postage of £10. I ordered 100 x A5 (I see they now have an option for reduced number and quality in A5 size) along with 2 lots of A6 postcards (sets of 100 on sale for £9.18 each).

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The arrived just before we went to Yorkshire and I’m impressed by the quality.  I paid for the very basics so no extra gloss, one-sided and I opted for cutting the corners myself, although next time I will pay the extra £2/100 for this.

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I kept to a simple design for the mounting cards, on the basis that I will probably be using them next year so I took a photo of ribbon with a vintage bauble and one of my sewing tags.  I then attached the birds with removable glue dots on the beads and placed the lot in a cello bag.  Perfect, job done and they take up a fraction of the storage space they did.

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The A6 cards are for a special ‘treat’ for some of my regular customers and those who placed lage orders in the past year.

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I made up 2 new colour birds which are attached to the cards with punched holes and gold ribbon, they will hopefully be sent out next week as a little Christmas card and gift.

Lastly (this is a long post, hope some of you are still with me!), I thought I would copy out my individual pricing list which I keep so I have an idea how much my packaging is costing per order.  In most cases I have included a percentage of the delivery costs in the price as well and obviously some pricing may have changed, but here it is:

Rajapack

Good for large orders and has a next day delivery (in a LARGE lorry) but you have to place an order on-line and they call you back to take payment, also delivery is £8.95 so you need to factor that in.  The prices below include VAT and may well have changed since I bought mine.

Brown Standard Postal Boxes (bought in 50’s)

A6 215 x 155 x 50  –  35p each

A5 310 x 220 x 50  – 50p each

Lrg Flat 430 x 310 x 50  – 80p each

Lrg 430 x 300 x 120  – £1-65

Rajabul Mailers (their Jiffy)

White 300 x 450 (50 /pack) – 44p each

I also buy tissue, green small kraft bags (8p each) and rolls of brown paper from them.

Smart Packaging Store

I bought Jiffys (Jiffylite) from here simply because I needed them in a hurry and they offer free next day delivery.

Lrg Letter 220 x 320  – 26p each (min 50)

Lrg Letter 170 x 245  – 15p each (min 100)

Simply Envelopes

They allow you to order small quantities and delivery is £4.50 for next day (optional).  I had struggled to find a supplier of mailbags in small quantities, more importantly they had a good price on large Biodegradable Poly Bags.

Clear Cello Bags 230 x 167 (A5)  – 7p each (exc VAT)  – no min order

Jiffylite 115 x 195 (A6)  – 19p each (exc VAT) – no min order

Biodegradable Poly Bags – 595 x 430 (exc VAT) 36p each – no min order

Overnight Prints

Love em!  Price below include VAT and allow £3 postage towards each 100 cards on the basis 3 orders covers the £10 set delivery

A6 postcard, one-sided, no extras – 13p each

A5 postcard, one-sided, no extras – 30p each

Moo

Moo Mini – £11.99 (box of 100)

Moo Business – £12.99 (box of 50)

Plus Delivery

Hope some of that helps, I am sure there may be better options, these are just some options that I have used in the past.

A Mixed Bag…

It’s all gone a bit Pete Tong.  Just in case you were hoping to see a lovely patchwork bag or something as the title suggest, sorry, but there are some highlights so do keep reading (and I’ll apologise now for the dodgy photos but the light is very bad here today).

The Good

It all started last night, I received a late night order, from a Gentleman no less! (not many of those order from my website) and he chose very well….unless it’s a girl using her other half’s PayPal address which has happened in the past…either way, I said good bye to my last SALE cat, which was ordered along with an Orange Winter Berry Cushion, they look good together don’t you think?  I added a little Egg Cosy as an extra.

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The Bad

Now, I am going to have to divert here for a little introduction to

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Smelly, my cat.  Her real name is Smilla after ‘Miss Smilla’s Feeling for Snow‘, one of my favourite books but she has always been called Smelly.  I will give you a full cat history another time, the thing is, Smelly has only had part house access since we moved here 3 years ago as she daily brings dead animals in.  I am OK, with this, she is a cat after all, but when Charlie was younger and mostly crawling it wasn’t very nice so at night she has been restricted to the utility room in a cosy bed by the boiler and she isn’t allowed in bedrooms.  As we have no door in our new (old) extension she has been lounging about on the beds at night and last night she PEED on my bed!  She has a history of doing this and it’s partly how she became known as Smelly.  I was not best pleased but luckily the cat wee hadn’t gone all the way through to the mattress, only the duvet and sheets.

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The Really Bad

This morning, after getting some of the bedding into the wash, I packed up my order and was about to pop off to the post office when F’s school rang.  My should-know-better 4 1/2 yr old had shoved a bead up his nose, buried Pirate treasure apparently, so I had to pick him up and take him to A&E, along with Charlie on the doctor’s orders.  After a 2 hr wait (with me trying to get F to blow his nose really hard and yes, I did try tweezers) he had the lovely pink bead removed.  He wont be doing that again in a hurry.

Getting Better Again

I came home to find I had another order, this time for a Betsy Wool Bunny

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if you are wondering what the little bird attached to a card is all about, I have a big packaging post on it’s way that will explain all.

The Best Bit

Whilst out, the postman came by with a number of parcels.  This could have been bad, except we have great postmen who often sign for my packages leave them in a safe place.  So I came home with hungry, tired children and chips to cheer them up, to

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find my 2010 Calenders as ordered from Snapfish.  This has become a staple Christmas present for my immediate family, all my Father’s photos are on slides, which I am slowly scanning so each year I put together a Calender with a mix of old and new photos, I always wait for the half price sale and then get them ordered.

The Very Best Bit

Having saved the best bit until last (I waited over an hour to open this parcel as I knew what was inside and wanted to be relaxed with a coffee to hand, so as to really enjoy the experience) here is an order I placed with Nicky, of NickyNackyNoo.

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Nicky makes lovely things, plenty of which are for boys, an area I fail dismally to cover.  I have bought some of her great traffic jam bunting in the past and thought it would be nice for the boys to have hot water bottles so I ordered these covers.  Nicky added some fab tweed, for which I have a perfect project in mind and a bonus bag of flower fridge magnets, made using photos taken in her garden – how great is that!

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So it’ all looking up, best go and get the next load of laundry in and maybe fix our bedroom door so I can close it in future.