Back to My Future

You may remember my telling you about an adventure I had with Ivy, when we both started displaying our work for sale at the Scottish Design Exchange.  Well, after a successful initial 4 weeks, as part of the WHALE-Pod stand, it was time to retreat to think about plans ahead.

Being at SDE had been such a ‘buzz’ and working with Ivy was great fun!  I learned a lot about displaying products, labelling, managing stock, pricing, using tools to sell and up-sell, featuring products and makers, and so much more that the list would go on and on.

Everyone at SDE was so supportive and encouraging that worries and fears I had at the start of the adventure soon settled, and I found myself quite hopeful and actually enjoying myself.  I was inspired greatly by Ivy and the other artists and designers who have their works for sale there.

When this all started, both myself and Ivy had worries:”what if no one likes my stuff?”  This, of course, leads on to “what if I don’t sell anything?”  then worse still “WHAT IF I FAIL?”   But,  as in all the great fairy tales, people DID like our stuff, people DID buy some of our things and actually when you look at the whole experience (including selling products and all the learning) we DID SUCCEED!

Four weeks flew by and the worries turned into …well, whatever the opposite of worry is. This was greatly helped along by endless cups of tea and slices of cake.(both of which I highly recommend – maybe I should be blogging about cake???) Oh dear, I am so easily distracted … where was I?

Oh yes, weeks were flying by – and soon it was time for me to leave the safety of SDE and take stock of everything, whilst trying to figure out my next bold step.  I retreated to the safety of my little craft room and considered the experience and also thought about how I could move forward with at least one of the many ideas I have floating about in my head.

” How can I make something REAL from all this?”

Over the next 2-3 weeks the ‘many ideas’ started to take shape and became actual considerations.  I was keeping myself very busy, but all the while the strangest thing was happening . . .  Things were occurring.  People kept on distracting me from my pondering and plan-making.

I was considering teaching sewing, which I thought would help fill in quiet spells, whilst I waited for the opportunities to sell things that I made. I had been developing ideas for tutorials and workshops I could try out.  As I made my plans, I dealt with those ‘distracting issues’ as they arose and  settled back into my hectic days of considerations, formulations and all the other ‘-ations’.

I had been wondering about how to start with the teaching ideas and working out how well doing this would sit alongside developing and making products to sell. How would I find people who want to learn?  How can I continue to sell products?  How can I find out if anyone is even interested in what I am doing???????

WAIT A MINUTE . . . I’ve been getting calls and messages!  All those little distractions . . . (I can tell you just raced ahead of me).  YES!!! the distractions were people who were calling to make purchases, or messages from people who had been to SDE and found I was no longer there!!!

Eureka . . people ARE interested!!

Had I stepped away from SDE too soon?  I was so busy looking for a future for myself that I had failed to recognise that perhaps that very future had already started to ‘come to life’.  All of this was coming from the little seed planted at the stand Ivy and I had with WHALE-pod at the Scottish Design Exchange.

Could I really dare to be brave and ask if I could return?  Would there really be a chance for me to turn all the negative things that have happened over the years into a positive?

First, I have to sort my finances out .. a few calls and I had appointments!  I know that is the easy part, but at least I had taken a few more steps.  Next . . . Ivy.  I had to call Ivy and see what she thought.  Would she consider us collaborating again at SDE?  Her delight on the phone when I called to ask was the biggest relief.  A really joyful moment . . . I was not alone.  We had almost got ‘the Team’ back together.  Finally, the moment was here.

My courage simply deserted me.  How do I ask SDE if I can return?  What if they had simply been polite and had, in fact, been glad I left?  WHAT IF THEY DON’T WANT ME TO COME BACK?

There was one last distraction.  A lovely lady who had been to SDE to buy a thread catcher.  She contacted me via Facebook.  – luckily I had recently joined the rest of the known-world as a Facebooker (is that even a word?)

Well, this was ‘the sign’.  Sometimes I need ‘a sign’.  Something or someone that gives me that little push, just at the right moment.  “Dare to be brave” I told myself.  I opened up the email that had been sitting in the ‘drafts folder’ for 2 days.  Before I could stop myself, I had clicked SEND!  Of course, they would need time to think about it  and well, it was Saturday and I didn’t really expect a reply until the beginning of the week.

OMG there it was,  that funny little noise my phone makes when there is an email.  Less than 2 hours and they had replied.  One deep breath later and I was peeping worriedly at the email . . .  it said lots of lovely things, there were even smiley faces, but best of all it ended with “Looking forward to having you back”.  If it is possible to burst with happiness, then that is exactly what I did.  It’s time for me to be brave and go back . . .

Back to MY Future!

I am going to allow myself one final worry .. well it’s more of a question really.  Will I need a DeLorean?


The Cutting Room Floor

At the end of every project I am left with offcuts of fabric, threads and other assorted bits and pieces.  I have often wondered what to do with all the scraps I have been collecting.  Of course the larger pieces are perfect for patchwork and appliqué, but what about the really small pieces and thin offcuts that are too small to sew together?  And let’s not forget all the little strands of thread that are cut away during and after sewing . . .

Having no idea what I could do with them other than perhaps use them as stuffing for something, I continued to horde these tiny scraps. Then . . . I saw a group of ladies on YouTube putting all their scraps to good use.

They sandwich all their scraps between unwanted or plain fabric on the bottom (a chance to use up fabric that has been hanging about in your stash for a long time and is unlikely to be used for a project) and organza on the top.  As soon as you have the fabric set up as you want it, it is time to play around with all the lovely embroidery stitches that are on your sewing machine .. yes all those stitches that you have probably never used – well now is your chance.  Using lots of different coloured threads (again here is a chance to use up threads that are not the most popular colours) start to sew random lines of embroidery across your ‘sandwich’ until you have firmly secured all areas of the ‘sandwich’ together.

There is some very beautiful organza available and using metallic threads as well as cotton threads gives some lovely shimmery effects when creating this fabric.

This was my first attempt and as you can see I even managed to use up the wool scraps my mum has been collecting.  I am looking forward to playing around with this technique to see what results I can get.  And I will be back with more pictures and a step-by-step guide for anyone interested in trying this out.

My next step will be to feature some of these newly created fabric pieces in the things I am making – maybe as a feature pocket on a bag, as a fabric book cover or even by patching them together to make larger items like bags and cushions etc.  I think once I am better at creating fabrics in this way there will be endless ways to incorporate it into my projects.

Best of all, it means that there really is NO wastage in my sewing room and I can even use up other peoples offcuts that they may have been about to send out with the rubbish. Plus it is fun to learn new things and be creative, so its a WIN-WIN!!




‘Taking the plunge’ at the Scottish Design Exchange

7th March 2016 this date seemed so far off when we first discussed it back in November. But, time flew.   Time Flies

Suddenly, it was time for Ivy and I to set out on a great adventure to have our products for sale through the Scottish Design Exchange at Ocean Terminal in Edinburgh.

Wait,  I skipped ahead a little . . . way, way, way back in October 2015 I met Ivy at  Whale Arts in Edinburgh when we both joined the WHALE-Pod (a business incubator for new-start creative and arts enterprises). After a few initial meetings and discussions with David Henderson from WHALE-Pod, Sarah Howard from Community Enterprise and Lynzi Leroy from the Scottish Design Exchange, we were offered an opportunity (funded by WHALE-Pod) to stock our products at the Scottish Design Exchange.  We were thrilled at the prospect of joining such superb designers and artists in this amazing retail space.  The ethos behind SDE is exactly what Ivy and I were looking for, so we ‘held hands and took the plunge’.  Our first day was both exciting and nerve-racking.  Supported by David and our families we ventured forth and put together a stand displaying our collective work.

Ivy-ElDesigns is behind ‘All-Things-Bags’ which are crafted and homemade in Scotland.   Ivy uses African fabrics of the most vibrant colours, unique patterns and diverse textures.  For Ivy, making bags has proved a delight.

Ivy says “I do hope that you all will feel the same about these Scottish made Afrocentric bags, making your near and dear happy with my creations. A percentage of my profits will be going towards women who have suffered and are suffering domestic abuse and violence”. 

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Oh, and I was there too . . .

Inspired by a love of sewing and working with beautiful fabrics, Busy Bee Handicrafts is a new start-up idea to create a range of textile gifts tailored towards your hobbies or things you love to do.  Enjoy giving a gift to someone special or treat yourself.

Julia says “When people become isolated and lonely, often remembering something you love to do can be a first step to regaining contact with other people, and I certainly have found this to be true”.

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The staff at SDE were so nice to us.  They were so enthusiastic to have us there and  we had great support and advice especially from Jodie, Sean and Judy who were there every step of the way.

Our trial period of 4 weeks has gone by so quickly. There have been a lot of things to learn and we have picked up some great tips. Next week, as the dust settles we can talk over the whole experience and work out ‘what comes next’ for this intrepid duo (watch this space).




Start A Post . . .

The three little words which I suspect  strike fear into many of us . . start a post!

start a blog

Well, here goes.  Firstly this is not my first dip into the world of blogging.  Back in May 2013 I started a blog for my local sewing group – admittedly I didn’t follow the correct format but instead ended up with one long feed of smaller paragraphs all inter-spaced with photographs, but it kind of worked and I think it looks good.  But, it isn’t easy to maintain and is highly problematic when anyone else wants to leave comments or add posts.

This time however, I would like to do things properly.  I think it would be nice to have each of my blog entries in an archive so that only the latest offering is on show and everything else is filed away in an orderly fashion, which you can easily dip into when something catches your eye. Plus I would love to have feedback and comments from people reading anything I have posted (by the way, that is not a hint).

Ok, being a bit of a butterfly brain, I have been distracted by red squiggly lines appearing under the words blogging and blog.  Seriously??  (Sigh)  I am a little puzzled that there is a need to add such words to the dictionary of a BLOG SITE!

But don’t worry, I may become distracted from time to time but I nearly always get my focus back.  Now, I have let you know how I want my blog to take shape so this is possibly a good time to let you know what I want to include in my posts.  Firstly, I will warn you there is a cat – Oliver – who will from, time to time, squirm about on the keyboard demanding my attention.  Although he may be mentioned occasionally let’s just get it out of the way and pop a few little pictures in so you can see my problem:

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Now we have that out of the way I really want this blog to tell you about:

  • What I will be making – I love sewing  and making things
  • How to make things – by way of short tutorials
  • Tips and shortcuts that I discover
  • How I am trying to turn my love of sewing into a business
  • How I am learning to use social media to find customers and get myself  ‘out there’

I know suddenly this blog is sounding like more of a commercial tool, and in some ways it will be.  But essentially, I am writing all this stuff because it’s a good way for me to journal what I am doing and just maybe other people will find it interesting or informative.

I am sure that the blog will evolve and become more than I have in mind right now but that is good.  Baby steps and going with the flow will be just fine with me.