Welcome to my little corner of the blogosphere to share the ups and downs of starting a craft business, with plenty of tips, mishaps and the odd glass of wine!

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Bargains Galore - Things You Can Find In A Charity Shop

Do you like Charity Shops?

My Outlaws (as I affectionately refer to my lovely gorgeous In-Laws!) have been staying with us and they do like a mooch around a charity shop and as their designated driver I like to be obliging.

Well, luckily for them the towns near us are choc-full of charity shops, so off we headed, each day for a little explore.

I went with them not really expecting to find anything I really wanted, but was poking around in some baskets hidden away in one, when I came across loads, and I really do me LOADS of skeins of embroidery thread and little reels of coloured cottons.




The skeins were marked up as being 50p each and I had over 20 so I was expecting them to charge me at least £10 which was still a bargain as they were all brand new.... but they ummed and ahhed over someone buying so many and tried to charge me £3!!! For all that!?! I was gobsmacked and said £5 at least (I know, the normal practice when haggling is to try and get the seller to come down in price, not go up!) so we settled there in the end - I came out feeling like I'd got a great bargain (which of course I had, as anyone know regularly buys large amounts of thread will know) and they felt they'd been over paid, which I guess probably doesn't happen very often... so we were all happy.

Oh and my Outlaws bought (over the 2 weeks):

- 1 handbag
- 4 ladies tops
- 1 walking stick
- 1 glass dish
- 2 girls' dresses
- 1 ladies' coat
and 3 childrens' books!

Think we all did quite well!

Sunday, 12 April 2015

Behind the Scenes: Making Mini Campervan Mobiles

Do you ever try and set yourself targets to beat whilst doing something boring? I do... such as,

'Last time I had to draw around and cut out 24 small 1/3 of a triangle funny shapes it took me 35 minutes....' (for the Celtic Knotwork Penny Rug Pattern)

These funny little bits made up the trinity knots on my new Celtic Knotwork Pattern
'So next time I'm going to try and do it in 30 minutes'


Well, that's the kind of bet I have with myself when I'm doing something repetitive, so this morning, when I had to cut out and sew up 12 mini Campervan bodies, I wanted to see how long it would take me to sew up 5 (the number I use for the baby mobiles I make:


So I paused to quickly take an action shot (to make the post more interesting!)


And off I went.

13 miniutes, to sew up 5 mini campervan carcasses.

6 pauses in the 13 minutes:

1 to take a pic
1 to refill the bobbin
4 to umpire in rows between the children... despite there being 3 other adults in the house it seems it's still my job to stop whatever I'm doing and run in to prevent WW3 taking place in the playroom over who's turn it is with the remote control/barbie and her horse/the loom band gizmo/etc!!!

So, now that's my target to beat for next time!

And finally... a gratuitous shot of my messy desk, my gorgeous Benedict Cumberbatch calendar and the drama I had to pause on BBC iPlayer as otherwise I'd have done no sewing at all!!!


Saturday, 11 April 2015

Great Crafts for Children's Birthday Parties

You may remember I posted a while ago about a birthday party I was asked to host for a group of 9 year olds at our local craft shop. The first party I did was a bit hit and miss because I'd not thought through how much help the girls might need and how awkward it would be without patterns for them to follow, so this time I was prepared.

I made a sample of the what they were going to make:


The bags I pre-cut with the folds marked and I had a selection of buttons, hair bands (for the closure loop), cord for the straps and hama beads so they could make hang tags.

Again this was a 9 year old's party and with the exception of one of the girls, they all had a fairly good idea of sewing so although they needed help with threading their needles and knotting the thread, they were all off and raring to go.

They all chose to start with creating their hang tags and then moved onto making the bags and here are their results:


The girls had great fun making their bags, they all wore them home (although two escaped before I could take photos!) and the Mum's seemed really pleased with what they had made.

I think in hindsight 2 hours would have been better than an hour and a half and I could have staggered them so they didn't all get to the same stage at the same time, but it was a really fun afternoon and I will be actively promoting them now as I feel like I was quite happy in my comfort zone (much more so than last time!)

If you were thinking of holding a party at home for children aged 7 - early teens creating something like this would be perfect - but be prepared for a big mess to clear up and the kids needing a lot of help!!

Sunday, 29 March 2015

Easter Wreath Giveaway

I've been wanting to hold a giveaway for Easter for a couple of weeks, but I've been so crazy busy that it's only just happened!

So here's the VW Campervan Easter Mini Wreath that is up for grabs this week:


It's only open to UK residents due to the timescales (i.e. if I post it on April 1st it won't get to you by Easter weekend if you live abroad - I'm sorry but I promise the next giveaway will be worldwide)

So all you have to do is head over to the Grace's Favours Facebook Page and like & comment on the picture to enter.

If you don't have a Facebook account, feel free to leave a message on this Blog post and I'll add you into the draw at the end.

Good luck & I'll be back to announce the winner after 12noon on Wednesday 1st April.

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

How to: Easy No Sew St Patrick's Day Shamrock Garlands

Now you may remember that we rather like St Patrick's Day in our house, for a couple of reasons... firstly our son is called Patrick and secondly because my husband, Brian is Irish, so we usually go to town with dressing up and a bit of decorating the house:



So this year I thought I'd show you how to make a very easy, no sew St Patrick's Day Shamrock Garland:



You will need:
Felt in different shades of Green – You can use as many or few as you like, I used these 5 shades:
Dark Green, Emerald Green, Mint Green, Light Green and Jade Green
Shamrock templates
Black biro
Pins
Scissors
Small lengths of ribbon

Needle and matching green thread

Instructions:

Cut out the templates. Then double up the felt, so you are working with 2 layers at a time. Pin the templates to the 2 layers of felt and draw around the templates with the black biro


Remove the templates and then cut out your shamrock shapes. I did two of each sized template in each colour.

Once you’ve done this for all 3 templates you should have 30 shamrocks cut out


If like mine your felt is a bit wrinkled you can iron it flat. Place the felt on the ironing board and cover with a piece of muslin or a thin tea towel and then iron (you can use quite a hot setting this way, but if you don’t use the muslin/tea towel you will have the felt stuck to your iron!)
Use your scissors to snip a thin horizontal cut into one of the shamrocks – Make sure you don’t make the cut too wide or the stalk of the next shamrock will fall out


Then thread another shamrock stem through the hole and repeat at the top of the second shamrock. Mix and match the colours and the sizes throughout your garlands.

Once you have a string of shamrocks as long as you’d like (mine were 10 shamrocks per string, so I made 3 separate strings) sew one of the pieces of ribbon in a loop to the back of the top shamrock


Then hang and admire!




I hope you've enjoyed this tutorial - if you make any St Patrick's Day Garlands I'd love to see some pictures!

Happy Paddy's Day!

Thursday, 5 March 2015

Softies as curtain tie backs

Hello... I'm back :-) Did you miss me? What do you mean you hadn't noticed?!?! Harrumph! (If you've been following me on Facebook you'll know I've been without Internet access for a while!)

Anyway.... A customer has asked me to create some curtain tie backs for his little one's bedroom and the first set I've created are these blue donkeys (which may or may not pass a glancing resemblance to a well known miserable donkey...!):




I think these might be one of my favourite creations of all time!!

I'm gearing up to go for Take Two on the little pink piggy friend now... he's proving much harder to get the right look!

I'm going to link this up to the 6 Weeks of LOVE for Softies Series over at Sew Mama Sew The hastag for finding all the spectacual softies on social media (i.e. Facebook, Flickr and Instagram) is #6weeksofsofties

You can see the other entries on the Sew Mama Sew website here

You can enter up to 3 different softies over the 6 weeks and there are some wonderful prizes to be had (although the main prize is only up for grabs in the US and Canada, but the others are worldwide)

Friday, 6 February 2015

Crafting for the Six Nations

It's that time of year again... Six Nations time, which in our house is very contentious - the husband is Irish, I'm English and the kids were born in Wales!

So I've made a few different things 6 Nations related over the years:

Shamrocks for the Irish fans

Daffodils for the Welsh 

English Roses for the best team ;-)

And finally a leek!

The leek was part of my felt food exploration earlier in the week (all of which turned out faaaar too large!) A friend saw it and asked if she could buy it to wave during the Wales games!! Her husband was very bemused when he picked it up earlier... All he'd been told was there was something to collect... He wasn't expecting a leek!

Need to try and create a thistle next for the Scots :-D

Monday, 2 February 2015

How to find a truly personalised gift

We have a friend who's 40th Birthday is coming up and I asked my husband yesterday what we should get him for his birthday, to which my husband replied "What do you get the man who has everything?"

A very good point. We quite often have presents to get for people who have a high disposable income (lucky things!) and who buy the things they want as they see them... makes for a difficult pursuit looking for the ideal present.

Well I've had some customers who have tackled that by having something truly personalised created for their loved ones:

This Supreme Dalek Figure was made for one lovely customer's 40th Birthday as he's a real Dr Who fan!

The Supreme Dalek Toy my version was based on.

Another customer wanted a large Subaru Impreza Car Cushion to give to her son as he was having to sell his beloved pride & joy due to an expanding family!

Felt Subaru Impreza Car Cushion (Complete with personalised number plates)

Having seen the Personalised London Bus that I sell a great number of, asked if I could make a New York City Bus, with personalised plates:

New York City Bus, based on the photos sent by the customer

A completely lovely, but puppy-crazy friend and wonderful customer asked me to replicate her two Chinese Crested Powder Puff dogs in cushion form:

Holly & Noodle - the gorgeous puppies who got their own cushions... they were supposed to be for their owner, but they both claimed their cushion and refused to be parted!!
Finally, the first real custom item I was asked to create, was this enhanced VW Beetle, known as a Baja Bug and used for off-roading, requested by a customer in Germany for her brother, who had once owned this car:


Hope you enjoyed that little round up and feel free to contact me if there is something wild and wacky that you'd like to see immortalised in felt!

Sunday, 1 February 2015

Fairies and Elves

Hey lovelies,

I've been having a bit of a blogging writers block recently, mainly I think because I wanted to up my blogging game this year... so immediately my mind goes blank!!

But I did want to share these gorgeous Fairies and Elves doors that a friend of ours made for the kids.


I'm so chuffed with them and the kids adore them. Simon (the lovely friend who made them) is hoping to set up an Etsy shop, so watch this space if you like the look of them.

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Resolution #1 - Bloglovin

I've decided that 2015 is going to be the year I get my blogging act together.

To that end, I'm trying to be more pro-active with using Bloglovin.



If you click on the link below you can follow my blog through Bloglovin.

To be honest I'm not entirely sure where we go from there... but as I find out I will come back and update this post!

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Thursday, 8 January 2015

Recent Creations

Happy New Year!

I know, I'm a little late with the greeting, but I've been a little busy.

I had a flurry of orders over Christmas, which was lovely, but as I was taking a break from work, it meant when I came back to it this week, I had a full on timetable.

So I just wanted to share with you a couple of recent creations and then I'd best get back to it. Hoping to get a tutorial written up next week or the week after (Tax Return avoidance!)

George Pig Hand Puppet

Penguin Hand Puppet

Yoda Hand Puppet

Fiat 600 Hanging Ornaments
Felt Angel Christmas Tree Topper

Monday, 22 December 2014

VAT Rule Changes - VATMOSS and how it will affect Small Businesses

As some of you will already know the EU are changing the VAT (Value Added Tax) rules for Digital Products on the 1st January 2015.

This has proven to be a very complicated change, which means that instead of the VAT being dependent on where the seller is based, the VAT will now be charged at the local rate of the buyer. So if I am based in the UK and I sell to a customer in the UK, I would only charge VAT if my turnover was more than £81,000 (I wish!!) as that is the threshold for the UK. However some countries within the EU do not have a VAT threshold, so as soon as I make even 1 digital sale to someone in an EU country with no threshold (such as Spain or Sweden) I would have to pay VAT on that product.

Not only does this mean that I would be losing out on income, as some of all my EU sales would have to go to the VAT Man, but it is also unbelievably complicated in terms of filing a tax return, the amount of data that needs to be collected and stored about each sale and then there are the dispute issues, such as what if a customer lives in one EU country, but is travelling and makes a purchase whilst in another EU country?

HMRC does not have answers to these questions yet. The likes of Etsy & Craftsy do not have answers to these questions yet. It's nearly the end of December and time is running out to get answers.

SO.

I had decided that I would simply stop selling digital patterns on the 31st December 2014, which is a real shame as that was the direction I was trying to push my business towards. It would mean that I cannot grow my business in the way I want to.

However. I have just this morning discovered this from HMRC:

Examples of electronic supplies and whether or not they are ‘digital services’

ServiceE-service?Electronically supplied?Covered by the new rules
Pdf document manually e-mailed by sellerYesNoNo
Pdf document automatically e-mailed by seller’s systemYesYesYes
Pdf document automatically downloaded from siteYesYesYes
Stock photographs available for automatic downloadYesYesYes
Live webinarNoNoNo
On-line course consisting of pre-recorded videos and downloadable pdfsYesYesYes
On-line course consisting of pre-recorded videos and downloadable pdfs plus support from a live tutorYesNoNo
Individually commissioned content sent in digital form e.g. photographs, reports, medical resultsYesNoNo
Link to online content or download sent by manual e-mailYesYesYes
So this does mean that my Craftsy and Pattern Mart shops will have to close on the 31st December 2014 as they do not currently support anything other than automatic downloads.

But the good news is that you will still be able to purchase patterns from my Etsy shop as I will simply be removing the automatic download option and will email the pattern out, in PDF format after it has been purchased.

This means only a tiny bit more work for me, but luckily no increased cost for you or me! Yay!

It's not an ideal solution, but it is a workable solution for now.

If you want to read more about this subject, Rosie Slosek's Blog One Man Band Accounting is very informative and full of useful info and tips on how you can help make a difference.

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Christmas Inspiration from Pinterest

Now, we all know how much I adore whiling away hours on Pinterest, looking up cool new things to make... and usually, like most people, I pin away and never actually find the time to make things!

But this year I promised myself it would be different... so when I found some fun and easy pins, I made time to make them too....

What do you think? I don't think I failed too badly ;-)

Source - Pinterest

My version


Source - Pinterest
My version, with more candy canes and a sack full of chocolate presents!
Source - Pinterest
My version (please excuse all the kids artwork - the mirror is in their playroom!)

I had so many others that I wanted to try out, like these:

Source - Pinterest
And this one:

Source - Pinterest
But as usual at this time of year, I have totally run out of time.

I'd love to see some of the creative things you've made for Christmas, especially if they were inspired by something you've seen on Pinterest!

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Christmas VW Cuddly Campervan Giveaway... And the Winner Is.......!

Thank you to everyone who entered the Cuddly VW Christmas Camper Giveaway:



And the Winner is......


Well done Joanne :-D

I'm sorry that you couldn't all win, but I will do another giveaway in the New Year - maybe a sewing kit... watch this space!

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