Saturday, October 29, 2016

Halloween Sweets and Crafts

For the last weekend before Halloween I'm making the most of my final chance to feature some awesome Halloween projects.

First of all some Halloween Sweets.

And Some Halloween crafts.

I hope you enjoyed this week's features and that you have a fabulous weekend!

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

It's not about the money!

A few days ago, I had an email from a reader of my blog asking if I would mind if my patterns and tutorials were used to make things to sell on Etsy or in other market places. My reply was that I don't mind at all.

I don't claim that any of my tutorials are original ideas or exclusive in any way. 

There are hundreds and thousands of sewing tutorials available all over the place - for many of the same things. I've simply written tutorials for things I've wanted to make - in my own style. I am a teacher and I love teaching - writing and sharing sewing tutorials is just that - a form of teaching. 
To know I've helped people understand how to make something and encourage and enable others to make things too is something I find very rewarding.
I love when I get emails and messages from people who have used my tutorials to make things and proudly show me pictures of the resulting finished item.

Selling Hand Made

As far as making things to sell goes, I give kudos to anyone who can manage to create and hand make things and sell them. I have tried - not very successfully to make and sell my own hand made items.

I started out with a market stall trying to sell 'Bubba Rugs' which I'd made. These rugs were baby rugs with pictures and designs on them made with lots of different textured fabrics. 
Admittedly I only did one market stall with these and only sold two rugs - they were to two ladies who thought their dogs might like them!
I did sell some more of these rugs through word of mouth, but mostly I gave them as gifts to friends.

A few years later I tried again, with a market stall selling things I'd handmade with a friend . Our stall was called Jembellish (this is where my blog name came from!). I really enjoyed our monthly market stalls as we always had a lovely day chatting and catching up together. We only ever really sold enough to cover our costs and after a couple of years stopped our stall.

I've had an online Madeit store for a while now and have sold a few items from it.

 But 'selling' and promoting things for sale isn't something I enjoy or am good at. I find pricing my items difficult. Since I upcycle and largely 'use what I've got' in terms of supplies, my materials cost next to nothing and so it is just my designs and my time I'm charging for. How do I put a price on that?
The things I have for sale in my Madeit shop are priced inclusive of postage. Postage in Australia is very expensive, and I don't want people to purchase something from my shop only to find that it costs more to post the item to them than the item itself cost. This again reduces the profit for me significantly.
In short - I don't feel it's worthwhile me making things to sell as I don't believe people will pay a high enough price to make it profitable.

Anything that I make, you can probably buy a cheaper version of the same thing in the shops for just a few dollars. Made overseas from cheap plastic, bright and colourful and does the job.  
How do you persuade people to pay significantly more for a handmade version?  Those who hand-make things themselves understand the time and effort involved and so the value of the finished product - but then those people are also the ones who can make things for themselves rather than buy them!

There are people who successfully hand make things and sell them for a decent profit and make a living. Hats off to them. I truly admire these people but that is not the direction I have gone in, nor want to go in.

I'm much happier trying to inspire and encourage people to make things for themselves or use things they already have instead of continuing to buy cheap manufactured things from abroad and perpetuate these industries.

It's not about the money

 I don't want to be always looking for the cheapest version of things, the cheapest way to do things, or what will make me the most money. I don't want my focus to be on money, and it isn't.

I've recently made a few teddy bears from old school and sports uniforms. I made one as a school trophy and another as a sporting team mascot. 
The others I made for my daughters and a friend as a gift.  
The teddy bears were so well received and appreciated and I have had requests for more to be made - and people telling me I should make them to sell.  However, when I point out the hours it takes for me to make each bear, and if I even just made minimum wage for my time and nothing else to cover materials, the cost of the bear would be more than people would be willing to pay.

I'm happy to make things for people as gifts, or to help out, but making things to sell isn't what I want to do or feel comfortable doing.

So what does that say about me when I'll happily sit for a few hours and make a teddy bear to give to someone at no cost to them, but I won't spend that same time making a teddy bear to sell?  I like that people appreciate the things that I make - and money doesn't come into it as a factor. There's no need to listen to anyone saying things are overpriced. I'm sure they would for a $100+ teddy bear that's made out of an old uniform!
I like that the things I make have a value that isn't counted in money.

But I do need money
Although I don't sew and blog for the financial reward - the fact does remain that I do need to make money. We need to pay the bills, buy food, support our kids and be able to afford to do the things we want to do in life.  I would dearly love to be able to do this by means of my blog and doing what I love doing and feel passionate about.  I feel like I'm achieving something worthwhile with this blog. I'm teaching people to sew and create, inspiring others to upcycle and 'use what you've got' - saving money and the environment in doing so.

By doing what I do personally I know I'm making a small difference in the world and by sharing and spreading the word via my blog, hopefully that small difference will be magnified and spread further and wider in turn making a bigger and bigger difference.

I have spent a few years now, building up my blog, the free sewing tutorials and upcycling inspiration. I've put countless hours into this with no real (as yet) financial reward.  I know I can't put this much time and effort into my blog indefinitely without making some money. But I don't want to make money from sponsored posts - selling things for big companies and promoting products, when my whole ethos is to 'use what you've got' rather than just buying things! 
I shall have to rely on other means to make money.

What I am selling

Although I am not focusing on selling my physical creations, I have created two e-books which I hope will inspire people and create change in the world.  Although all my sewing tutorials here on my blog are available for free, I have put a small price on my e-books to try and cover the costs of running my blog and to see if it is possible for me to sell a concept and idea rather than just 'things'.  

 My first e-book is a complete set of sewing tutorials for making a set of Eco-Friendly shopping bags, that all fit inside a stylish, upcycled handbag, so that you will never forget your reusable shopping bags again, and never need to use a plastic bag again.

The cost of this e-book is just the cost of a cup of coffee 
AU$3.99 and in addition to that, $1 from every book sold is donated to WWF to further help preserve this amazing planet we live on. I priced this book low and affordable in the hope that lots of people will buy it and make the bags - again helping to make a bigger difference in the world!
I have been asked if I would make a set of these bags for someone and they would pay me for it. However, when I pointed out the time it would take me to make the set and the cost of my time - even at just minimum wage levels - people aren't willing to buy at that price. Which is why I encourage people to make things for themselves - at a cost of nothing other than their time.
The tutorials I make are as detailed, clear and simple as I can possibly make them, and I truly believe that anyone with basic sewing skills, a machine and a little patience can make these bags themselves.
To read more about this e-book, and 'share a cup of coffee with me"  go here!

My second e-book is one I have been requested several times over the years to create, and finally did. It's a book to teach your kids to sew.  

But I wanted it to be different and to teach and encourage more than just the 'sewing' itself, so this e-book shows how to 
"Teach your kids to sew with a pair of jeans". It details how to upcycle jeans, use the fabric and various 'parts' of the jeans to sew and create. Teaching the value of 'using what you've got' and that you can create things you need and want from the resources we have available on hand. The answer is not always to just spend money and buy things.

This book is priced a little higher than the first at AU$9.99, but I still believe it provides great value for money and is more than just a collection of sewing tutorials.
To learn more about this book or even purchase a copy - go here!

Making millions?

Nope - not yet anyway!  I sell a couple of books a month, and I have Google ads on my blog. Some months I do better than others, but mostly I do little more than cover costs.  I've chosen to stick with a Blogger blog - which is a free blogging platform, but I still pay for a couple of services - inlinkz - so I can host my weekly linky party, and e-junkie, which allows me to sell my e-books on my blog.

I do have a dream that one day, I'll find that one post - or the right person will stumble across my blog and send it viral, causing a clicking frenzy on my e-books for sale, and the small amount of advertising I do have on my blog.

I firmly believe it is possible for me to make a living from my blog, which encourages people to 'do things themselves' and 'not spend money'!
I have put hours of my time and effort into building this blog - creating content, and trying to inspire, encourage and motivate.  But I know I'm really trying to 'Create my way to Success'  in an unconventional way.
I will get there one day, somehow!

This is me!

So returning to the original question that sparked my musings about what I do - YES, please do use my tutorials and patterns to make things to sell. And if you manage to do this and make a living or even a little extra money from it, do let me know and I'll be the first to cheer you on and support you!

Teaching is what I'm trained to do. I teach casually - both English as a foreign language, and now also learn to swim classes.
I find teaching rewarding in the sense that I can help people learn how to do things for themselves and how to continue learning beyond my teaching.

This blog is another use of my teaching skills and I love it.
Hopefully, that magic viral post will happen soon and I can continue to spend my time motivating, inspiring, teaching sewing and the principals of 'use what you've got' !

How about you?

What do you do? and why do you do it? I'd love to hear your stories and thoughts too.

I shall be linking this post to many of the fabulous linky parties whose pretty buttons and direct links can be found on my linky party page.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Crochet Dishcloths and a new page

I've been doing a little crochet practice lately - just straight lines, and made a couple of dishcloths.

Although they were both just to practise straight lines, I did them slightly differently, The yellow one I crocheted in just one of the top loops, but the red one I put my hook under both top loops for each stitch.  The result was a slightly different look and one softer yellow cloth and a rougher red one!

I was really happy with the yellow one. I just chained as many as looked wide enough for a dishcloth, then carried on adding rows until it was about square.

The red one however, I started to crochet one night after a couple of glasses of wine, and this happened!

I think my chain at the start was tighter than my subsequent rows!

Then when I continued it the next day, I managed to drop a couple of stitches here and there - so I have a kind of step at one corner and a couple of wiggly bits in other places!

Still - it's more like a square then my first attempt at a dishcloth last year - the smaller one on the right!

I'm really happy with my woolly dishcloths. They are just the right size and abrasive enough to clean my non-stick pans without scratching!

I might make another couple of these in different colours, since dishcloths do get used daily and I could do with a few spare!

A new page

Since I'm learning to crochet at the moment - I thought I'd create a crochet page for this blog to keep all my crochet posts and creations together and easy to find. I often want to look back and find which tutorial I used for something, or what it was that I learned from a project....and have subsequently forgotten!

So all my crochet learning and projects can now be found on my crochet page here.

If you are a crocheter - please do let me know if you have any recommended tutorials to try out or things to make as I continue my learning. I'm having fun learning this new skill and am willing to give anything a go!

I shall be linking this post to many of the fabulous linky parties whose pretty buttons and direct links can be found on my linky party page.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Who needs a fancy treadmill?

Many years ago I read a story in a glossy women's magazine about a lady who wanted to get fit and lose weight. She asked her husband if he would buy her a treadmill so that she could run at home while their baby slept. He didn't believe she would actually use it so he bought her the cheapest second hand treadmill he could find - a non motorised one!
The magazine article showed the lady's before and after pictures showing how she had transformed her body through hard-work on her cheap and basic treadmill.  
Once she had achieved this and proved to her husband that she did indeed use the treadmill a lot, she asked if he would buy her a new fancy treadmill. He replied to this that no, he wouldn't as clearly you didn't need an expensive fancy treadmill to get results - a cheap one does the job just as well!

This story has stuck with me as an example of using what you've got - rather than needing to spend lots of money on the latest and greatest!

Just buy a....

Most people buy things when they find they need something. The answer is generally to 'spend money' instead of using what you've already got.  

You don't have to have a 'gadget' to do everything for you.  So many things are unnecessary and overkill.  My kitchen is one that has definitely been cluttered and filled up over the years with all the latest 'gadgets' and 'tools' that friends and family and myself have bought - things that 'make your life a little easier' !  

But do we really need them?  No!

I remember as a student at university, we were good at using what we had - thanks to our poor finances - 
for example making pizza and not having a rolling pin to roll out the dough - so we used a wine bottle!  It worked perfectly!

If it's broken...throw it out and buy a new one!

Things get replaced when they are no longer 'perfect' or 'new' when actually they are still good to use.
Mugs are a great example of this. On my parents' last visit to us, they asked if they could buy us a new set of mugs as they'd noticed a lot of ours had chips in them.  
I had to stop them being so 'helpful' as I'm quite happy with our mug selection - chips and all.  A chip doesn't make a mug unusable!

Made to 'break'

These days things are often not made to last - how many times have you bought something that broke just after the 1 year warranty was up?   Things are not created to be fixed and repaired, they are made to be thrown away and replaced.  Some of this is because technology is progressing faster and faster and people don't want to repair an old model of something, they are happy to just replace it with the newer fancier model!

The frustrating thing I find, is that even if you try to fix or repair things, unless you can do it yourself, it costs more to repair something that it does to buy a new one! 
I found this recently with my waterproof watch, the cost of replacing the battery and a tiny broken seal, wasn't worth it as it would have cost more than the watch did in the first place! Crazy!!

Even more crazy is something like a computer printer. At times I've looked at the prices on offer for the basic printer we use, and it would be cheaper to buy a whole new printer that comes with ink than to buy a new ink cartridge for the old one!  

Use What You've Got

To use what you've got is a skill that kids need to learn. It requires creativity, problem solving and practical skills that can be useful in so many aspects of life. It is also better for the environment and our often our own personal finances too.

For years now I've been the one that people come to when they need something.  I've used a band aid to temporarily fix the strapping on a hockey stick so a kid could play, held costumes together at the last minute for a school play with safety pins. I keep things with me in my handbag or car that may be useful, but also am aware of what is around me that can be put to use too.  Our girls now also do this - with things like safety pins kept in their school bag for emergencies!

I know I gained these skills thanks largely to my upbringing. Mum and Dad were always making things from wood, fabric or whatever we had on hand.

A couple of years ago, my Dad was visiting us here in Australia and went out for a bike ride. He got a puncture and rather than replace the inner tube he decided to try something he'd read about. At the time he was passing a field of grass that had just been cut. He stopped and used the cut grass to stuff his tyre full and then rode home with it like that!  He said it wasn't great but did work - definitely a possible bike fix if you get a puncture and don't have a spare inner tube with you!

More than one use for stockings!

Something else that has stuck with me from years ago is this TV advert, where a lady uses a stocking to replace a broken fan belt in her car! No mobile phones back in those days to call for help - you had to be resourceful and able to help yourself!! Take a look.

Old Fence and Walls Repurposed

Around our house, there are so many things I've made, using what we had on hand.  When we moved into the house, we removed part of the main fence around the property, which gave me lots of wood to make things with!  We also knocked a couple of walls out inside the house, providing a few concrete blocks which we then used to make garden beds with! And we also had drainpipe left by the builders when they added our patio roof - this was perfect for a drinks cooler holder!

In my sewing, as you may know if you follow my blog - I also use what I've got - sewing with whatever I have on hand.  The majority of the fabric in my stash is from charity shops or given to me by friends who have been clearing out. I use old clothes, especially jeans for fabric, and also things like old pool toys and car windscreen shades.

Christmas Shouldn't Cost the Earth

Last year I started a page on my blog to share ideas for Christmas crafting that doesn't cost the Earth - both in terms of money, and eco-friendly things that are upcycled, repurposed and generally made using resources we already have rather than buying new.

There are ideas for decorations, cards, bags, advent calendars, gifts.... anything you can think of for Christmas.

This year I'm continuing to add to these ideas and also together with some other bloggers will be hosting

12 Days of Christmas DIY Challenges

where we will be 'challenging" and encouraging people to use what they've got to create things for Christmas! It all starts on November 2nd - so watch this space! I do hope lots of people will join in and share their own creative ideas for using what you've got!

How about you?

Do you 'use what you've got'?  Do you make full use of the resources you have available to you? Or do you prefer to just buy what you need?  I'd love to hear your stories too!

Saturday, October 15, 2016

More Halloween Crafts and Foods

Only a couple of weeks to go until Halloween, and the ideas for Halloween crafts and foods are filling up the Round Tuit party just now. So here's some more spooky features!

First of all Halloween Foods.

And Halloween Crafts.

I hope you enjoyed this week's features and that you have a great weekend!

Thursday, October 13, 2016

My Pincushion Swap

This year I joined in with my first ever 'swap'. I've seen them mentioned here and there but never really looked into them.  Then this Pincushion Swap with The Scrappy Girls Club popped up and I was inspired to join in!

I've only ever made a couple of pincushions but have been pinning lots on my Pincushions Pinterest Board as there are so many cute ones out there!

I was matched up with a lovely lady called Jenny right here in Australia.  We had filled out a form detailing what colours and fabrics we liked and had been matched up by the Scrappy Girls Club. 

I browsed through lots of Pincushion patterns, eventually settling on this one for a Mini Pouf Pincushion.
Mine didn't turn out quite the same as the picture from the original tutorial.

And when I tested it out with some pins - I felt bad that poor Humpty Dumpty was spiked so much!!

So had to move the pins a little!

I packaged the mini poof pincushion up with a few extra goodies.

A set of fabric coasters I made using scraps of 'Great Barrier Reef' Fabric I was given by a friend.

A small but cute Zip-itself coin purse, which I learned how to make last year.

And then a couple of upcycled denim goodies - because that's just 'me'!
An elephant keychain..

And a boxy denim zipped pouch.

In return, I received the most wonderful package from Jenny.

With not one but TWO gorgeous pincushions!

A beautiful Selvedge Zippered Pouch,

AND some beautiful fabric too!

And all the little details - buttons, zips and tags were just lovely!

I think it's such a lovely idea to connect with other crafters and exchange handmade gifts. It was so exciting to receive my package and I hope my swap partner likes hers too. Hopefully it has arrived now!

I'll definitely be joining in another swap - maybe next year's Pincushion swap - but want to practice making Pincushions before then, so I can come up with a fabulous one to send next time!

Have you ever joined in a swap? What did you swap? And what extra goodies did you send or receive? I would love to hear other swap stories!