Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Pattern review: Brynnberlee Emily Dress

Another one of my previous creations rather than something I sewed this week.

Nawwhhh it makes everything easier that my models are best friends!

Brynnberlee Emily Dress
Remember I reviewed the Brooke Dress a couple of weeks ago. This is another sweet little dress and has loads of potential for personalisation. 

Again the pattern is sized from 18 months to 5 years. Unlike the Brooke dress, this one is a longer A-line style and actually has loads of potential for longer wear with the ties at the shoulder being generous to lengthen further. 

Miss S in the Breeze Poppies version
The construction of this dress is far simpler than the Brooke dress. Not to suggest that is isn’t as special but with just the little detail of the ruffle through the middle rather than ironing all those pleats, I did find it a nice and quick dress to make. I think I might try a denim or cord version this weekend. Just need to take care sewing the little loops for the ties as it would be quite thick (four layers to sew through, so double denim and double cotton!). It could always be hand stitched down if your machine can’t manage the layers.

Another great pattern that could be worn year round and certainly has wonderful opportunity for embellishment if you wanted to add pockets or applique to a denim version for example. 
Amy Butler fabrics really look great in the dress

Will I make this again? - absolutely. I made lots of these for my last summer collection and they are just lovely. 

Will I make this to sell for Lil Pip? – I already do!

Pattern: Brynnberlee Emily Dress isn’t available in the Brynnerberlee Etsy Shop but I did find it in a couple of other online stores with a quick search.

Fabric: Rosemary Lavin, Breeze Poppies in Purple, Amy Butler Lotus collection – Wall Flower in Cherry, Full Moon Dot in Cherry and Morning Glory in Linen 

Difficulty (1-10 scale with 1 being easy and 10 hard): 4 as clothing isn’t a huge challenge for me. Few skills required for the ruffle feature and the ties.

Time: I usually make a few different sizes at a time so do all my cutting, then sew it all together. It would probably take just 1 hour in total.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Words of wisdom

“Do what you love to do and give it your very best. Whether it’s business or baseball, or the theater, or any field. If you don’t love what you’re doing and you can’t give it your best, get out of it. Life is too short. You’ll be an old man before you know it.” – Al Lopez

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Follow your passion and find your niche

Second in the marketing series is finding your passion. Last week I wrote about pricing your products.

Starting your own business and making money or even a living is going to take some time (blood, sweat and most likely tears!). That’s why you see everywhere, people telling you to follow your passion. Do what you love, after all you are going to be doing it a while, spending a lot of time and money investing in making it a success, so you want to make sure it is something you really enjoy doing.

It might be worth making a mood board (Pinterest is amazing for this!). Keep adding things that inspire you and check back regularly to make sure you are on track.

So once you have found your passion, you now need to find the people who want what you make! Sometimes it is easier to find your niche, something that is unique to you or a new take on something (I honestly believe nothing is new in the hand crafted world!) and market to a smaller group of people who really want it rather than try to be all things to all people. 

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Collaborate for a Cause

I'm so excited to again join the Collaborate for a Cause in 2013. Each year handmade businesses across Australia join together to create a 'collaboration'. This is then auctioned on Facebook to support a charity of their choosing. 

The Lil Pip, Little Magnolia Button and Sakurako collaboration for Cancer Council Victoria

The inaugural event in 2011 – which included 200+ businesses – raised $18,000. Last year this was doubled to a massive $40,000 shared amongst 105 charities. This year, organiser Jen Kennedy from Ainslee Fox Handmade believes the donation tally could reach $50,000.

Putting her baby princess to sleep
For my collaboration this year, I joined forces with Bridie from Little Magnolia Button and Leigh from Sakurako to create a collection inspired by the new Disney princess - Sofia the First.

After making a huge quilt last year, I decided to stay a little more within my comfort zone by sewing a dress. The dress is more of a party dress rather than a costume and my little princess absolutely loves it. Thank goodness she is a little older and understands that this isn't for her and that another lucky little girl will soon be the owner. Well with promises that I will be making her another one soon. 

Double layered, full skirt aka twirly dress!

I used the Amanda's Dress by Lily Bird Studio without the belt. I added the white flower trim in the bodice and bottom of the top full circle skirt and added another full circle under skirt adding an extra 2 inches to the length so it creates the double layered look. And clearly Miss Owlet loves to spin in this dress!

Five cover buttons complete the
look at the back of the dress

Bridie created a look alike princess doll with two removable skirts. The pattern is the Cinderella Princess by Dolls and Daydreams. She is created with beautiful cotton, wool felt and hand embroidery.

Leigh drafted her own doll carrier pattern to perfectly fit the princess doll and included a tiny little pillow and dolly quilt. Miss Owlet loved playing and tucking her dolly into 'bed'.

Happy princesses!

Our chosen charity this year was the Cancer Council of Victoria. I lost my grandmother to cancer and it is one charity that I always like to support. It seems everyone has been touched by cancer in some way. Hopefully the small amount of money we will raise will go towards further research or compassionate support to people living with cancer, their family and friends.
You can find our submission here. Bidding starts at 8 pm Friday 26 July and ends 8 pm Sunday 28 July.
Wish us luck!

I'm linking up with:

Better Off Thread

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Words of wisdom

"A business has to be involving, it has to be fun, and it has to exercise your creative instincts."  Richard Branson

Thursday, July 18, 2013

How to price your handmade products

I originally wrote a series of guest posts for The Sewing Sisterhood last year on marketing (my 'day job'). I thought I would share them with you again here. 

Probably the most common question I get is, ‘What should I charge for this?’

This is a really interesting question and has so many factors to influence the answer. Here are some points to consider:

What is the cost of your materials? Ok an obvious one to consider. What is the cost of your fabric, buttons, threads, glue, hair clips, toy fill, embroidery thread and all the items that go into making up your product. What about your electricity, machine wear and tear and those type of overheads? Website costs, packaging, petrol to get to the post office. It all adds up. Have you ever sat down and really figured out the true cost of your product/s?

What is the cost of your time? I think if all home crafters factored in the true cost of their time, they wouldn’t sell a thing! I guess what I mean by this question, is don’t just cover your costs and add $1 on top. Some go by the rule of double the cost of your materials, some triple. Just make sure that what you add on top of the cost of your materials makes it worth your while.

What are the prices of comparable products? As a general rule, I don’t think you should just charge the same as everyone else does. Not everyone creates in the same way or style. You may use more expensive vintage fabrics and so need to charge a little more to make money. However, doing some research and having a look at what others are charging, might give you an idea of what range you should price your product.

What value do you place on your own work? I think we are the biggest self doubters. We don’t think our products are amazing and often wonder if others would even buy them. Having recently done my first markets, it truly is a thrill when people admire your creations and ask ‘wow, did you really make this?’ (said with a note of awe in their voice). If you price your products cheaply, how does this reflect your brand? Cheap prices to me are cheap quality products. Plus if you price your products cheaply, you simply cannot sustain this and expect to make money. Right?

What do you want to charge? If you spend hours creating a custom designed quilt then you should charge accordingly. What you charge will reflect on your brand. Don’t be afraid to charge what you want. Ok you might loose some people who want a bargain, but in the long run, you will gain customers who appreciate your work.

I hope this helps you to determine what you should be charging for your products. If anyone else has some ideas or points to consider, please comment below. I would love to hear from you!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Wordless Wednesday

A little of my crafty endeavours over the last few weeks while home looking after my two owlets for school holidays.

Hand quilting for a little pouch
Starting a hand embroidery 'I love sewing'

Pattern testing for Ric Rac (more on this next week)
Sorting and folding fabric *sigh*

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Words of wisdom

"People are definitely a company’s greatest asset. It doesn’t make any difference whether the product is cars or cosmetics. A company is only as good as the people it keeps." Mary Kay Ash

Monday, July 8, 2013

Sew Delicious Winter Sewing Day

After last week's blogging masterclass, I had the pleasure of joining Ros from Sew Delicious again for her winter sewing day at GJ's Discount Fabrics

I haven't done anything like this before and had no idea what to take. So I went through all my unfinished projects (UFOs) and took them with a couple of patterns I'm testing. I was a little ambitious with 15 or so little zip lock bags as I only finished Ninja (featured yesterday) and started a little piecing for a patchwork version of the Noodlehead Open Wide Zippered Pouch.

The venue was perfectly suited to a large sewing group - huge wooden tables, power points, ironing boards and irons all ready to go. Oh and did I mention that it was right above a fabric store. I did *need* thread for my project and of course I didn't *need* a couple of fat quarters from the $2 bargain table. I would really love to go back there again with more time (I know odd since I was there all day!) and money.

I only took a couple of photos to share - in between sewing, chatting and eating yummy cake.

Our host Ros from Sew Delicious
(sorry about the bright flash!)
The quilt block that Ros worked on

Suz from Sew Pony worked on this amazing
vintage quilt for one of her beautiful girls.

For this photo she wasn't wearing her
attractive pink washing up gloves

Abby from Things for Boys didn't get much done
other than carrying a sleeping Ted around for 4 hours
- and chatting with all of us! He is so adorable (and so is she!).

Thanks so much for the opportunity Ros. I loved it and hope next time I have more to show for it!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Pattern Test: Ninja Henchman by Little Sew and Sews

I will defeat the evil overlord
Launching today and on special for just 24 hours ($8.50 usually $10.00), I was lucky enough to get this Ninja Henchman pattern by Little Sew & Sews just a few days earlier to try it out.

I can scale any garden stakes!

As Master 6 already has a ninja toy and is getting a bit 'old' for soft toys, I thought I would make one of these for my nephew. He is kinda into the adolescent turtles with names of famous artists if you know what I mean, so I went with a green theme!

Checking the sewers for alien invaders
This is a great pattern, well written and easy for a beginner or loads of potential for an experienced sewer. I love how you can learn new tips and tricks from every indie pattern designer and this is no exception. 

Part of a set - you could also make the super hero (in both boy and girl versions) or buy coordinating clothing and bags from Hero Nation (the side of Bel that celebrates all things boys!).
Wish Sensei Rat was here

I have a few more of LS&S patterns that I will share with you in the coming weeks. I just can't wait to see what this talented designer comes up with next!

I will live to fight another day

Disclaimer: I was given this pattern for free but all opinions expressed are my own.




Words of wisdom

"The new source of power is not money in the hands of a few, but information in the hands of many." John Naisbitt

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Voices of 2013 Masterclass

On Saturday, I had the pleasure of being in a room filled with inspiring women (and a couple of wonderfully confident men!) for the Melbourne Kidspot, Voices of 2013 Masterclass. I'm not one of the nominated blogs but feel totally inspired and motivated to work towards this in the future. 

How amazing are these chairs!
And the goodie bags - yipee!
First, we heard from keynote speaker Aleisha McCormack - comedian, writer and television presenter. That just seems to be too short a summary of what this incredible woman does and achieves. So funny! She spoke a lot about our brand and challenged us to write one page about ourselves and then distill it down to just two words. I can't imagine describing my 'brand' in just two words but I will give it a go. How would you describe me? 

Aleisha also spoke a lot about networking which is something I've been doing a lot of lately and I've already seen wonderful rewards - personally in terms of friendships formed and professionally in terms of opportunities for Lil Pip that I wouldn't have had if I didn't put myself out there. More on that in the coming months! 

How effective do these look?
After a short break (and more yummy food!), we heard from the first panel of speakers on 'How to refine your voice' lead by Herald Sun blogger Wendy Tuohy and including Karen Andrews of Miscellaneous Mum, Kate Forster, writer, author and blogger and Lou Pardi, Creative Director at Agency Marou. So many valuable tips and lots of discussion about voice. When asked about their tips and tricks for finding your authentic voice, they answered with:

Lou: "Write like you're talking to your best friend"
Karen: "Learning to self edit is a very valuable tool"
Karen: "Taking the time to craft a post is a good thing"
Kate: "Be yourself don't be anyone else"
Kate: "Read your blog posts aloud as you will see your double ups"
Kate: "Write every day. Write a thousand words. If you want it, write your thousand words!"

Another brief break and into our final panel discussion for the day - 'How to set yourself us for success' led by Nicole Avery from Planning with Kids and including Pip Lincolne, Meet Me at Mikes, Kate Ulman, Foxs Lane and Dave Jenyns from Melbourne SEO Services

Nicole opened with asking us to think about what success means to you. For some success could be securing a book deal, for others it might be measured in terms of followers or perhaps earning money from blogging. 

I 'may' have started the day with a blueberry
brioche from Chez Dre... just saying...
Kate spoke a lot about her journey, one that was not any overnight success but took two years until she had success with followers and a new book coming out this August. Dave spoke a lot about SEO which is something I deal with in my day job too. All very interesting points about how to ensure that your posts come up in google searches. He spoke a little about Google + which is something I need to research more! Finally, Pip spoke about her success and how she generated traffic in the early days - not going to share too much here as you might just see examples in the coming weeks! 

Thank you Ros from Sew Delicious for being my blog buddy for the day. It was great to go with another sewing blogger (those fashion and fitness bloggers are intimidating!). 

And I need to share a photo of the goodie bag - a bloggers equivalent of an Oscars goodie bag. Yay! I'll get one in good light rather than all these excited iPhone photos!


PS I may have squealed a little when Pip used my chair photo when she blogged on the Kidspot website.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Pattern review: Brynnberlee Brooke Dress

Another one of my previous creations rather than something I sewed this week. 

Two pretty princesses aka best friends!

Brynnberlee Brooke Dress

I discovered Brynnberlee (Facebook and Etsy) patterns a couple of years ago and they are just darling. I love the simplicity of the pattern as it comes together yet the little extra details on each dress make them look just that little bit special! Does that even make sense? Basically – an easy construction with great instructions but extra features which give it the wow factor!

Miss S (right) is wearing a size 4 and Miss A (left) is
wearing a size 3. Both where three in this photo.
The pattern is sized from 18 months to 5 years. This particular dress is quite short but on purpose. More a short school girl or vintage tunic. If you wanted something longer you could easily add a couple of inches to the skirt length without an issue.

There is a fair bit of ironing and careful sewing to make sure your pleats look perfect. I learnt a lesson to pin my pleats a little further down after basting when you add to the bodice – just to make sure they don’t move at all.

I love that this dress looks great as a summer pinny but add a long sleeve top and tights and it is perfect for winter too. Not all dresses lend themselves to being a winter dress. Some just look too summery, right?

I adore this red Bonnie and Camille fabric!
Will I make this again? - absolutely. I made lots of these for my last summer collection and they are just lovely. 

Will I make this to sell for Lil Pip? – I already do!

Pattern: Brynnberlee Brooke Dress available in Brynnerberlee Etsy Shop

Show us your jewels!!

Difficulty (1-10 scale with 1 being easy and 10 hard): 5 as I don’t find making clothing hard but there are a few steps to ensure that it all sits nicely with the pleats, flutter sleeves and buttonholes.

Time: I usually make a few different sizes at a time so do all my cutting, then sew it all together. It would probably take about 1 – 1.5 hours in total.
I can't remember the name of this fabric
and it is bothering me. Anyone remember?

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