Thursday, 29 January 2015

New sewing machine

As I mentioned before, I got a new sewing machine for Christmas. It's the Janome 525S and I LOVE it. My old, 15 year old Brother machine rattled and snarled and snorted every time I used it. It had straight stitch and zig zag stitch and that was all. I really did not enjoy using it and as a result hardly ever did.


The Janome is much heavier than my old machine. Solidly built, it does not feel at all cheap. It's totally stable while I work with it on my sewing table. It's a medium range machine so I've made the step up from what was a basic machine - and boy, does it make a difference.

The straight stitches are smooth, tight and without a blip. The zig zags can go from wide to nice and tight. Stitch length and width can be varied simply. I can now do free motion embroidery which is something I have wanted to do for ages.  I also have a few decorative stitches so I can jazz up my projects if I feel like it. It's obviously not a top of the range machine in that it doesn't give me loads of fancy stitches . But then sewing is one of the many crafts I'm involved in so I was looking for a machine that did a little of everything in a simple and straightforward way.I do believe I found it with the Janome.

This was my first project - a note pad cover made from felt with a bondaweb design touched up with hand embroidery, free motion embroidery, silk and beads.


I recently signed up for a Craftsy Class called Stupendous Stitching: Adventures in Surface Design and managed to work through the videos with the help of the sewing machine too. It was a really nice process. My first sample is shown below made using batik fabric, rat tail cord, machine stitching and hand embroidery. It was my first attempt but I definitely want to do more of it. 




So all-in-all the Janome meets my expectations. Here's hoping I will get plenty more time to play with it over the coming months.

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Ganutell flowers

Gina B Silkworks has some lovely new products that I have been playing with. Ganutell flowers are made up of wire formed into leaf and petal shapes and wrapped with thread. It's great fun. I forgot to take photos of my first samples which included a rather fetching box decorated in violets. But I took quick shots of my last set - just before I got them packaged up and posted out.

First is a picture frame picked up quite cheaply. A few ganutell flowers just makes it a little different. You could even cover the whole frame with flowers.


This snowdrop pendant is my favourite - mainly because I love snowdrops.


There is also a little poppy brooch.


The strange thing is that my Mum remembers that Gran had a brooch made from ganutell flowers many years ago. It's funny how these crafts come back into popularity many years down the road.

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Mona Lisa gets a revamp

My Mona Lisa beads are some of the most popular beads I have made during my seven years selling beads. Every now and then, however, I update the design. Tastes change, themes move on and sometimes I just feel like something a bit different. The new style beads now have a Renaissance Florentine background. I'm rather pleased with the end result. I hope others will like them too.



Thursday, 8 January 2015

Spot the deliberate mistake

I hope everyone had a good festive season. I managed to get a couple of days off and spent it with family having a nice time.

One of my Christmas gifts this year was a new sewing machine. I'll be writing more about it soon but it has enabled me to start a sewing kit I bought a few years ago. It consisted of fabric and hardware for a coin purse with birds on it. Really cute! Just one problem. Can you see what it is?


Yup, the birds are the wrong way up. It turns out that there is a labeling problem with the pattern. What should have been the top of the purse was labelled as the bottom. As it was my first attempt at a purse I didn't realize until I had stitched it all together. Never mind. It was good practice and I'm all for a bit of originality.

Friday, 5 December 2014

The possible demise of my digi-tutorials

Unfortunately, due to new EU rules about VAT (a form of sales tax) on digital downloads that come into force on 1st January 2015, I may have to stop selling my digital downloads

The EU, in all its wisdom, has decided to change in which country VAT is applied to a digital download. Instead of being in the country of sale as it is now, it will be the country of purchase. That means I have to add VAT to every European digital sale I make from the 1st January. As each EU country has a different VAT rate, the rates vary from 15% to 27%. The appropriate amount has to be added to each EU sale. We also have to keep details of every sale for 10 years and keep records to prove that we have or have not sold to an EU country.


As you can probably tell, this is going to be a major chore for a tiny, one woman business.

What's more, whereas in the UK we have the protection of an £81,000 threshold before we have to register for VAT, the new rules mean that anyone selling even 1 penny's worth of digital download is liable to pay VAT in the country of sale. We have to register for VAT on an HMRC (Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs) website (or, alternatively, every one of the 28 EU states) and send in four VAT returns every year. It applies to crafters, artists, musicians, authors, app writers, broadcasters, suppliers of telecommunications and electronic services, big businesses, small businesses. It also applies to anyone in the world who is selling digi-downloads - not just EU sellers. If you sell digi then you're caught.


It's big, it's scary, it's a mess. Anyone on Twitter can follow the scared and angry tweets of loads of tiny businesses who have been caught up in this by using the hashtags #VATMOSS or #VATMESS. I am part of a group on Facebook that has been pushing for changes to these new laws to protect tiny businesses. We are writing to members of Parliament, members of the European Parliament, the media, supporters of small business and anyone else we think may be able to help. Whether it will help is another matter.

I have already seen posts by many crafters who sell tutorials and digital collage sheets saying they will have to close up shop or stop selling to the EU altogether because of this. At the least it means price rises. Budding starts ups wont even get off the ground. It is too complex for many cottage industries and tiny businesses to cope with and I do not think the EU has thought this through at all.



In my case what it comes down to is what Etsy chooses to do about the new legislation. They are supposed to collect the VAT instead of leaving it to the seller. Sadly they have not made an announcement about what they are going to do yet. If Etsy does not step up then I will have to stop selling the downloads. Digital downloads were meant to be a new arm to my business. Instead it has become a nightmare.

So this post is really a plea. If you fancy one of my digital tutorials then I suggest you grab it now. I do not want to put pressure on my customers and followers at all. I always appreciate every sale I make. I just want you to know that if you fancied trying out some of my techniques then it is possible that they won't be there for long. 


You can find the tutorials in my Etsy store.

Monday, 1 December 2014

Beaded snowflakes

In my moments of internet surfing I came across this really nice tutorial for making beaded snowflakes. With the festive season just around the corner - and hopefully lots of snow - I thought I'd make one or two. Great for sticking on greetings cards, adding to packaging or hanging from the Christmas tree.


Thursday, 20 November 2014

Tudor inspiration

I was watching the craft channel the other week when I saw a sparkly, pretty thing. It was a jewellery kit by Kleshna. As I have mentioned before, I don't wear much jewellery but this appealed to me. It reminded me of all things Tudor, like something Queen Elizabeth I would have worn. Having purchased a kit and made my first necklace I wanted to try other colour combinations. My first was gold and green then I made pendants in wine and cream and purples.


I made the gold and green one into a proper pendant with a silk cord and tassel.

 

I am sure there will be more of these. They're simple to do and the components are readily available. That's always good when you've learned a new skill and want to recreate it. The real problem is coming up with things to use them for.

Friday, 7 November 2014

Another new tutorial

Yes, another new tutorial on Etsy. This time it is for chunky paper beads. The beads are made from scraps of watercolour paper, are really simple to make and unusual to use in jewellery making or other crafts.



I am really enjoying writing these tutorials. I never saw myself as a teacher but I have so many little ideas for making simple things, particularly out of paper. It is really lovely to know that people want to find out about the projects.

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

New samples

These are just the cutest sewing project I have come across. Everyone knows I like a spot of history but it's mainly ancient history. These, however, are reproductions of Victorian pincushions. They are new kits from Gina-B Silkwork and would make stunning Christmas decorations for the tree. Card templates, fabric, beads and pins to name a few of the items you will find in the kits. They make up really quickly too which was a surprise. I had to wrestle my Mum to get them back after I showed her. I should just get her a kit and she could make her own.





Friday, 24 October 2014

Embroidery - again

I signed up for another embroidery course. Two actually - this time courses that are a bit more straight forward. Craftsy were having a sale, you see, and I just HAD to take advantage of it. Design It, Stitch It: Hand Embroidery is the first course. I signed up for the Mastered course a few months back and while it is very good (high quality with great lessons and helpful people) it is a little less about the stitches than I was hoping for. So far Design It, Stitch It: Hand Embroidery is hitting the spot. It is giving me the tools I was looking for - the stitches, from basic to advanced, and the inspiration to keep going with needle and thread. Once I have finished it I will go back to Mastered and finish what I was doing there. 


I have actually been so inspired that I can't stop myself from embroidering. I started practising stitches just for fun on scrap bits of fabric. It turns out that these scraps are called doodle cloths which I think is a great name. It really is just like doodling - shutting your mind off and randomly drawing with thread on fabric.


Stupendous Stitching: Adventures in Surface Design is the second course I signed up for. It is all sewing machine related and encourages you to try out all the decorative stitches you have on your sewing machine. Unfortunately I have a sewing machine that only does straight stitch, zigzag and buttonholes. You can't even change the stitch width or length. And I hate it! It grunts and snorts and rumbles and rattles - even after I have put in a new needle. It has to go. So, come Christmas, I am hoping to get a sparkly new machine, one that does a few decorative stitches. That is when the course comes in to play. Definitely something to look forward to.

And one final piece of embroidery is my stumpwork butterfly. I started it about a year ago and only just got around to finishing it. I'm not totally happy with the stitch work but as it was my first butterfly I'm sure it will get better over time.