Sale time

The last few days have been flat out busy while we have tried to prepare for my Mum’s departure back to New Zealand today.  She was with us for eight weeks in the end, and wrapped us all up in her love and helped us get through some of the roughest patches we have had in a while.  I am trying hard not to think about her not being here, but have noticed that there is no one offering to make me a cup of tea, reminding me to drink more water, bringing in the washing, planning the evening meal, or giving my chicks their own little piece of attention in the midst of a busy house.  Oh boy will we miss her.

But in the quiet space following her departure I have managed to load photos of some of my latest creations onto my Etsy shop, and have decided, in celebration of my successful market, and because it is Christmas, that it is time to have a sale.  So if you enter the code XMASSALE in the coupon section at the checkout at any time until 21 December, you will received a 20% discount on your order.  There are some smaller pieces that are just right for stuffing stockings too!  My little Christmas thank you to everyone for supporting me this year.

I have had a break from sewing today while I cared for my sick middle chick who has tonsillitis, and ran various errands.  One of the errands was to collect the finished memory quilt from the very talented Raylee at Sunflower Quilting.  This was the quilt that I was asked to make using a sarong and a light cotton island shirt that my housecleaner and her husband wore for their beach wedding in Fiji.  I am thrilled that I can present it to her before Christmas!  I hope that you can get a feel for the finished product from these photos – my designated quilt holders (the chicks) had left for the day before I remembered to take the photos!

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I will start sewing again tonight to finish some custom ordered superhero capes in time for Santa to pick them up for their recipients.  Then I will be cleaning up the disgrace that my sewing space has become and then……wait for it…….moving all my sewing things into the spare room and claiming it as my own!  Although the two oldest chicks were desperate to go back to having rooms of their own, they now have rooms of their own at their father’s house, so I decided that it was time to be selfish and have a room for myself.  I will keep a single bed in there so we have room for visitors, but the rest of the room will be my domain!  (And it just happens to have the best aspect, and therefore light, in the house!)  All that room for fabric storage!  Danger, danger, danger!  All that clutter removed from my bedroom!  Peace and tranquility shall return!  (hopefully.)

Part of the craziness of the last few days was my attempts to finish all the presents that I wanted to make for Mum to take with her to New Zealand to deliver to the rest of my family, who are gathering for Christmas there.  I can’t show you any photos yet (and of course forgot to photograph a couple of things) but am happy to say that I was able to tick everything off my list (once I simplified the list of course!)

So now all I need to do is remember where I have hidden the little bits and pieces I have gathered for the chicks, wait for the postie each day (she is currently doing two deliveries a day, bless her!) and stumble through the days until the 25th when the chicks leave to visit their father’s family in Victoria and I have a quiet house for a couple of weeks.

I hope that your Christmas preparation has not been two busy and that you are faring well amidst the seasonal chaos.

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The weekend continued well with a different crowd at the markets on Sunday. I loved meeting customers, fellow stall holders and people who were just browsing. I came home with a smile on my face!

Now to finish the custom orders, the family presents and Christmas preparation before I hit the New Year running! Oh – and to list some new things in the shop and have a pre-Christmas sale!

The Market!

After months of wondering whether I was doing the right thing having a stall at the Christmas markets, whether I would have enough stock, whether my stock would sell, what to wear on my feet, what to wear on my body, how to carry money, and every other worry you can imagine, plus a few extras, I have successfully finished day 1 of the two day markets – and survived!

Having my super-assistant Mum in residence has been such a blessing. In the last week she has sanded, painted, hammered, sewn, and then still made cups of tea and sandwiches for me each day! With her help my shelves were finished, the screen that I bought from the recycling centre at the tip was completely renovated, a perfectly fitted tablecloth for the trestle table was made, labels were sewn onto my packaging calico bags, price and care instruction tags were attached to each item, necklaces were packaged, plastic crates were washed, bags were cut out for me to sew, and……lots of other things were achieved! (Oh my – as I write the list of things that she contributed to help me out I am overcome with emotion. I have a very, very, special mother.)

In the meantime I was sitting at the machine producing just a few more bags, a pile of zipped pouches and coin purse key rings, and sleeping a lot! (Gee – Mum did do a lot didn’t she!!) Wait – I also drilled holes, screwed hooks in, prepared inventory, priced the goods, made discount coupons and price signs and a few other things. (Phew – I feel a lot better now!) As my last bit of sewing preparation, last night I made us an apron each – mine with a zipped compartment for cash. I made mine first – and then worked out how to do it better and made my assistant’s apron with a lot less fuss and error!!

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The chicks have been spending time with their father and his fiancé this week, and settling into the new routine of having two houses. But they were still thinking about me and my stall. The eldest chick bought these shiny Christmas ornaments to add to my decoration (and sticking with the bird theme) and the middle chick presented me with this origami ornament that she had bought at a stall at school. The boy just gave me a hug. Pretty good all round really!

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The Christmas markets hold an interesting mix of goods, stall holders and customers. A few other Etsy sellers also have stalls, so it was lovely to meet people and put faces to the names and voices to our communication! Mum and I attended last night and set up our display furniture,

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then took the boxes of goodies this morning and set up the display.

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I decided yesterday to be sensible and purchase a trolley. I love it! I haven’t taken a photo of it yet but will be showing it off within a day or so! It converts from an upright, hand-cart style, to a flat platform style so it is very versatile. I discovered this morning that I can load all my stock onto it and move it in one trip (if there is someone to help me over the bumps…….).  And the icing on the cake?  It is bright orange!  Perfect for me!

The question of course is ‘How did you go?”. The answer? Quite well. I sold a number of bags, pencils rolls, pouches, a cushion cover, and pendants. (The pendants are made up with the fabrics that I use for the bags etc, mounted under glass in a silver tray, or under resin on a scrabble tile. The Dr Who ones and children’s fabrics were the most popular.)

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But more importantly I was able to talk to people and hear what they liked, what they were looking for, and to talk to them about the different possibilities with bags, art folders, etc. I took three custom orders – two for pencil rolls and one for a bag. (We had a great time designing it on the spot with fabric from three different bags to be used in the style of a fourth bag!). I handed out cards and postcards to people, and had some wonderful conversations with people who didn’t necessarily buy anything but were interested and had great ideas. And most important of all – I had fun!

I had two official assistants – Super-Mum was with me for set up and the morning and then my wonderful friend and supporter Ms C took the afternoon shift. Mrs J also arrived to deliver coffees, admire our work and do a little shopping, and other friends and colleagues dropped by – and some even bought things! I really am blessed! We will be back there again for the day tomorrow, so it will be interesting to see what the day brings. One thing is for certain though – after dipping my toe in the water to test it out, I can confidently say that I will be applying to sell at other markets next year. (And that I will finish my business plan so that my path is clearly set out!!)

In the midst of all of this excitement I am also turning my mind to Christmas presents for my chicks and my family. Hmmm….could be time for just a little bit more sewing…….

I hope that the lead up to Christmas is treating you kindly and that you are finding joy in the simple things.

I am guest posting!!

While I am a bit absent here with my frantic stall preparation (which, I must note, is going very well, with lots of help from my assistant little bird, a.k.a. Mum) I am featured as a guest on the lovely blog belonging to Gnomeangel!  So to see my insights on the Pollyanna effect, pop over and visit Angie’s site! 

In the meantime, take care and watch out for photos of the markets on the weekend!

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It is that crazy time of the year again. Each year I vow and declare that I won’t be caught up in the flurry of December activity. This year I set myself up to fail that vow back in August when I booked a stall for the Christmas markets! So please excuse my regular updates while I deal with December and all that it entails.

(But look – another bag with Dr Who fabric!!)

I hope you are all surviving this busy month.

Catching up

I have realised that after all the hype about the boy’s birthday last week I didn’t report any of the details! It was a great success – he loved his quilt (and I promise that a photo will follow within a few days – I just need to remember to do it when he isn’t sleeping under it!) Mum ended up doing the quilting, and attaching the binding and then we both handstitched it down together. She used the girls’ very basic Singer sewing machine – no fancy feet, attachments or anything special and it all worked really well, so I have the confidence now to try one myself at some point in the future!

I also made the boy a hat from various Star Wars themed fabrics. It is reversible, so there is different fabric on the inside and he has had great joy in flipping it inside and out! I used this free pattern from April Cobb Designs and it worked really well. The pattern includes adult sizes, so I might have to work on a few more (you know – in all that spare time I have!).

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I have had a slow return to sewing this weekend. I started doing a few little bits and pieces on Saturday but was making lots of mistakes and was not feeling great. I then had an email from my ex-husband who has never had good timing, so decided on the spur of the moment that it was time to get out of the house, get some fresh air and look at beautiful things. Mum and I were out the door a few minutes later and off to the National Portrait Gallery where the 4th annual Undercurrent Design Market was being held. I knew about it as one of my fellow Etsy sellers, Kyoko from So Soap, had told me that she was having a stall there, but that was about the extent of my knowledge. It was great! Full to the brim with beautiful, innovative and colourful design – jewellery, homewares, clothing, ceramics and more.  I got to talk to a number of stall holders whose products I have stalked online. I have to give a big piece of praise to Briana from Mrs Peterson Pottery who not only has just beautiful pieces (one of which is now hanging on my Christmas tree) but was so generous with her knowledge of all things to do with market stalls. I walked away full of ideas and inspiration! (And determined to buy one of her bangles one day soon too!)

Mum really enjoyed the markets and seeing all of these beautiful designer items. She bought beautiful ceramic pieces from Tania at Kittila who uses vintage hand crocheted doilies made by her family to imprint on the porcelain – just beautiful! Mum bought a candle holder to use on her prayer table and she and Tania had a beautiful conversation as a result. It added to the experience for both of us.

I was able to talk to Kyoko who makes the most beautiful body products – she is a qualified herbalist and the smells are just lovely! I also ran into another couple of people I know and talked to a number of stall holders about all sorts of things (where to get digital prints on fabric in Australia, colours, market stalls, etc!). It was a delightful outing and I arrived home tired but full of inspiration again. The results? Little pieces of sewing – because I need some smaller things for my market stall. I am still not producing anything at my normal rate, but have accepted that I can only do what I can do, and as a result am not putting too much pressure on myself. I have been making little coin purses that can have a key-ring attached – and made sure I got some ‘boy’ ones in there, and some zip up pouches that can be pencil cases, make-up bags, charger cord organisers – anything you want really! It is a good way to build back up to constructing larger things – and they are cute!

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However the best bit of creativity that has happened this weekend was after the chicks returned from their trip to Victoria. As it is the first day of Advent and December – ta-da! The tree is up, and the Nativity is in place (before it is rearranged multiple times a day by children.) This little tree was purchased for our first Christmas after the eldest chick was born – and until this year the chicks have resisted any efforts to replace it with a larger one. Of course every year we add new ornaments – so it is getting quite full. Each ornament has a story – and the chicks have amazing memories for the stories.  The middle chick’s favourite ornament is a little wooden angel that I have owned for at least 25 years.  She searches for it every year to hand it beside the glitzy, the handmade, the artisan and the pre-school produced.

Mum and I tried to redistribute them a little bit but gave up so the decorating is well and truly as the chicks wanted it. They have agreed that we might need to think about a bigger tree next year…….

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Thank you to all who have reached out to offer words of support over the last few days. I am following all the advice of the professionals and am on the road to recovery. Lots of sleep, good food, exercise (the dog is in seventh heaven) and listening to music – with the occasional browse of a crafty website – is great medicine.

I hope that you are enjoying the beginning of the festive season. A friend of mine who has some health issues noted that this year she couldn’t do all the extra stuff (cooking, presents, parties, etc) and that Christmas had been stripped back to the most important focus – family. She and I agreed that this will be a great Christmas as a result. Keep it simple and remember what is important. Feel free to take our advice!!