Packaging 2012…

Perfect timing for us in the UK, that directly after the hose pipe ban kicks in, all it does is rain.  Oddly this actually makes me happy, I find it much easier to buckle down and work when it rains and I rather like the sound on the roof (the studio is directly under the eaves).  On a slightly less happy note our underfloor electic heating has broken in this room,  so it’s a bit nippy in here and I find myself working in fingerless gloves and wrapped in a scarf.  Not ideal.

And so, I have a new toy, which sadly I hate.

I have been happily making do for some time now with my trusty little corner cutters bought forever ago, they have served me well, cornering all my business cards etc, in fact pretty much anything not pinned down gets cornered around here (even the tooth fairy sends messages on little cornered cards), but they are hard work and not really up to the job of slicing through the many mounds of thick card I need them to.

So I upgraded to a ‘Corner Buddy’ made by LeMORE and in all honesty I hate it.  It’s a bit cheap and nasty, only it wasn’t cheap, it cost £60.  It does have interchangeable blades (4mm, 6mm, 10mm) that are replaceable and that was a main attraction for me, I need 6mm for my business cards and 10mm for brooch mounts and ideally something I can buy new blades for when these get blunt.

Now, I do need to give full credit to the on-line shop I bought them from (Joyce on-line), the 6mm blade that came with the ‘buddy’ has a kink and they didn’t hesitate to offer to replace it, they were also friendly and helpful on the phone and had I of called them before buying my corner cutter, I know they would have helped me choose one more appropriate to my needs (ie, slightly more expensive but better.  I would have paid more for the next grade up machine).

Anyway, it does do it’s job, so all is not lost, it doesn’t feel a quality piece of machinery but you get what you pay for and in terms of a heavier duty table top cutter it’s probably perfectly fine.  I try to tell myself this, anyway, then I will feel less disappointed.

I have been meaning to do a post on packaging for ages, the ones I’ve done in the past have been quite popular so I thought it’s time for an update.

I am quite particular about how things are packaged, partly for the customer’s experience but also for mine when it comes to storing and ease of getting orders ready and posted.

For instance, I used to pack the ‘Little Birds’ in PIP boxes (so the ribbon tails don’t get crushed), they were mounted, ready on A5 cards, then packed with tissue (apple green, as always) and a MOO mini card with beads attached to hold the tissue (using a green dot sticker, as above) and a thank you card.

This was a bit time consuming and the birds were quite difficult to store, so now I still mount them on the same cards but I have figured out a way to be able to also put them in cellophane bags, so they can be stacked for storage and stay nice and dust free, and I don’t have to worrying about the tails being crushed.  Perfect.

The cards I use for this are A5 size and printed by Overnight Prints.  I use the same cards, cut down for mounting flower brooches on.  I did consider, when placing my last order, getting some in A6 versions so I didn’t have to cut them, but I like the square look, and it was cheaper, in the long run, to bulk order A5 and halve them instead.

On this point, I have given up on paper cutters at the moment, I find they get blunt very quickly and in all fairness, most are not intended for cutting card, so I stick with my trusty Swann Morton surgical scalpel, a wooden cutting board from the kitchen (I’ve never bought a self healing matt) and 10A size blades (I have been using my scalpel handle since I was a design student, it has, and still is, serving me well).

I use a Woodcare Craft Collection hole punch, as it allows me to get holes quite far into the card….it’s not ideal and I could do with something a bit heavier weight, it needs to be able to punch at least 5cm in so any ideas are most welcome.

I swapped last year from using mini MOO’s on packages and additional ‘thank you’ cards to using a single business card on ribbon.  I also buy these from Overnight Prints, they are great quality, they do take a while to arrive and are maybe not the cheapest but I will always return here.

I found threading the wooden beads on the old MOO mini cards etc took up a lot of time and it seemed silly to have a separate details/thank you card plus a repeat attached to the packaging.  I’m pretty sure in a lot of cases these end up straight in the bin anyway.  As above, on my original business card order, I only had one side printed and used a stamp for the other.  I was trying to cut corners, I figured it gave me an option of small blank cards if I wanted to write a note and it was cheaper. Wrong move, I am officially crap at stamping and so I’ve just recently placed a new order with both sides printed.

I still use MOO a lot.  I like to add mini MOO cards to larger items, I figure these are often given as gifts so it’s nice to have my details there as well as on the actual parcel packaging.  I try these days to get the tags on directly after finishing a batch of animals and before storing them,  anything to speed up the packing and sending out process is good, and I often attach care details if it’s appropriate.

I am also using the large MOO business card stickers on the backs of some of my cellophane packages, such as brooches and little birds.  These products go directly into jiffy bags to be sent out so there is no added tissue or tag etc.  In an effort to get even more tidy, I may get some sticker versions of my business cards printed, that way everything would be uniform, saying that I love that you can have a number of images for the same price at MOO.

Finally, I keep all my packaging prices written down and updated, it allows me to see exactly how much it is costing me to parcel something up, I also write down the postage (which is all about to go up in price I’m afraid 😦 ).  I would love to say I am very green with my P&P but that’s not true, I do favour cardboard boxes and tissue when possible but there is a lot of work to be done reducing my use of jiffy bags and new love of cellophane.

Below are my most recent lists, some details may be wrong and may need updating, the ‘-‘ price is the price per item, even when you can’t order them individually, it simply allows me to see how much each one costs.  These lists are really for my records but I thought they might be useful anyway 🙂 :


All excluding P&P at £10/order

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 each

Rajabul Mailers (their Jiffy)

White 300 x 450 (50/pack)             – 44p each

Tissue paper (bought in a Ream/500 sheets)

Green                                                 – 4p/sheet

Kraft bags (bought in 250 packs)

Very Small 120 x 190 x 45            – 5p each

Small 160 x 250 x 80            – 9p each

Large 240 x 390 x 75            – 16p each

Brown Paper Roll

Recycled 220m @ 90 gsm             – £30 (inc vat)

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 (min 50)             – 26p each

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

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.

Prices exclude VAT and there is no min order

Clear Cello Bags 230 x 167 (A5)                          – 7p each

130 x 210                                    5p each

Jiffylite 115 x 195 (A6)                                                  – 19p each

290 x 445 (lrg)                                                 43p each

Featherpost Bubble 180 x 165                                    27p each

Biodegradable Poly Bags – 595 x 430             –            – 36p each

Overnight Prints

Love em!  Prices below include VAT @ 20% and allow £6 postage towards each pack of cards on the basis of ordering 2 lots each time so this covers the £12 set delivery

A6 postcard, one-sided, no extras             – 25p each (on 100)

A5 postcard, one-sided, no extras             – 30p each (on 100)

DIN Long, one-sided, no extras            – 12p each (on 250)

Business cards, one-sided, no extras – 11p each (on 250)


Including delivery and vat @ 20%

Moo Mini – £28.36 (box 200)                        – 14p each

Moo Stickers – £35.08 (box 100)                        – 35p each

Defenda Boxes

Free P&P plus prices shown include VAT

PIP Boxes

For the below DL (long and thin to fit DIN packages) size, the Die Cut make up into a box, the other needs to be taped into place.

DL 217 x 108 x 20 Die Cut (bought in 100 batch)                        – 33p each

DL 217 x 108 x 20 (bought in 150 batch)                         – 20p each

C5 (fits A5) 218 x 159 x 19 (bought in 100 batch)             – 33p each

Making my life easier: Thinking Ahead

I’ve just ordered some new Liberty Tana Lawn, it’s for a project I’m going to keep for next Spring which I’m aware sounds a little bonkers as we’re not exactly out of this Spring yet, but I’ve spent a lot of time recently thinking about the way I design and make.

It was a real struggle last year to get my Autumn/Winter stock out on time, I didn’t get a lot of sewing done over the Summer holidays (and presume it will be the same this year) and I had thought that come September, when C went into pre-school 4 mornings a week I would suddenly have loads of time to work but it wasn’t really the case.  I never actually caught up and felt quite stressed from the beginning trying to get my planned stock actually made up and listed.

I’ll say now, that I do find it works for me to loosely split my work into two collections, it gives me a focus to work towards and creates a cohesive look for my shop front, it also keeps everything fresh and hopefully customers coming back as they know there will be new products as well as new colours in old favourites.

And so, in an ideal world it would be great to have most of my Winter stock made up (or at least designed and made into samples) BEFORE Autumn.  I say ideally as in reality I feel sure I’ll be rushing around next September with not a lot done.

I find it quite difficult to work out of season, I am heavily influenced by my surroundings; the weather and what’s growing in the garden etc and so this week I’ve been sorting my fabrics into seasonal piles and thinking about exactly what I want to make, where the gaps are and what I need to buy.  It really helps me to focus, I can imagine frosty mornings and Autumn leaves if I have the right fabrics and colours around me and as mentioned at the start of this post, I have things that I planned that never got made last year and were put aside for the next time around so I’d like to make a start on these.

That is the plan and with C starting ‘big school’ next September, for the first time in years I will be able to work full days in my studio.  World domination will be mine 😉

Oh, OK, maybe not but I do hope to be a little less stressed at what is for me the busiest time of the year and I can’t imagine a better way than to have some neat piles of finished work ready for listing well ahead of time.

Can you tell I used to work as a Project Manager?

It goes without saying there will always be things I work on simply because I feel like it, it would be no fun otherwise.