Saturday, May 30, 2009

Starting a craft business? Read this,,,

Looks like a useful book for crafty people wanting to start a creative business. One of my favourite blogs, the Simple Dollar, did a review of Craft INC. His summary in short? A good book if you have a passion for some hobby and wish to make money doing it.

Yet another strangely relevant topic on a blog about personal finance - advice always arrives at the right moment for me (and that's why this is a regular read for me).

Friday, May 29, 2009

Embroidery is cool

I wrote about embloggering a while back, and it seems embroidery is firmly on it's way to becoming cool (I also read an article recently about how the kids are onto cross stitch - there was a funny example of a kid who stitched "whatever" ha ha ha). nerdgirljuile is doing some twitter embroidery, and for those of you who know photoshop and aren't interested in a needle and thread, download yourself some embroidery fonts.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Attention to detail

I love buying stuff from Etsy - there is often something extra thrown in and the sellers generally have spent some time on the small details, which makes it perfect for present buying (especially when your friends are posting distance away).

These are the things I have appreciated
- something small and free (stuff from the shop, magnet)
- business card (to keep in touch)
- Etsy receipt (just printed out from the site)
- nice packaging (recyclable envelope, paper tissue, handmade jewelry bags)
- personal note

I must admit that I didn't spend much time on making the parcel but I almost always sent something small along.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Strapped for ca$h?

Isn't this belt fabulous, it looks almost bling - do you know what it's made out of? Well soda can tops - you know the things that you inveriably pull off. Collect 112 of them and you can have a 35"/88cm long belt. Get the tutorial here on CraftBits. What a creative project from 24/7ARTSY. I want one!!!

Saturday, May 23, 2009


I can't wait to get to Cape Town. It seems there are a few like-minded people around - like scrapskisskiss who makes boys clothing from scraps. Doesn't sound that appealing, but it's not the kind of scraps you use for rags - it's something for us eco friendly folk. Anyway, what got me interested was her mention of the Waldorf market. - definitely going to check that one out.
ps: She has an etsy shop, but it seems rather empty (perhaps the market went well?)Link

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Your shop is so popular

If your shop is so popular you can't keep track of all the treasuries, gift guides, then these two sites are for you:
craftopolis - find out if you are in any treasuries or gift guides
featsy - find out if your product has been featured

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Bibs for bigger people

For someone who is very interested in origami I have to sheepishly admit that I don't know many napkin folds. I am not the cook in the house (perhaps that was my excuse) but my new year's resolution is to make a nice table for the delicious food that graces it.
So this year I have learnt one fold - the rose (click here to see how). It's wonderfully easy - especially if you remember the fortune teller (salt cellar) fold from your youth.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


After losing a button on baby C's jersey I thought - why are there never spares of the buttons that actually fall off? I religiously store all the spares, but I can't remember an occasion I got to use one.

The ouma who looks after baby C gave me some large wooden buttons from her box. It made think of my mom's button box (which probably contains buttons from her mom, and perhaps more). As a kid the jumble of colours, shapes and textures kept me busy while my mom sewed (and before I was old enough to get involved). The ouma told me she cuts off the buttons before she throws out any clothes, which is a simple yet brilliant idea - most button collections are short on collections of the same.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Origami inspires

Now I have no sewing machine, I am thinking of other ways to keep my hands busy (besides typing). Since origami is an old passion (I blogged about that before), I have been thinking of that a lot lately and just need to get inspired. So,
Browsing through the origami listings in Etsy, I came across so many different ways people were inspired. From fabric to silver, outrageously expensive to how is that profitable, and mostly very personal. Here goes

Friday, May 15, 2009

International First Love Day

Today is the first International First Love Day created by Bridget McNulty in celebration of her book launch in the USA. I blogged about her the other day.

This is a photo of me and maybe not my first love but the best. We are in a tulip field near Leiden, the Netherlands circa 2005.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

New stuff

AfricanCotton has listed a lovely set of 8 shweshwe skirt panels in brown, so if you have been waiting to make my strapless dress/skirt, here we go...Link


While I figure out what to blog about next, here is another blog I wrote when we got Mittens. I couldn't decide on a name, so I started the blog so friends and family could vote. Enjoy.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Optimise your Etsy shop

I have subscribed for the Etsy Success newsletter and today I read an interesting article by stellaloella about optimising your Etsy shop for searching. If the acronym SEO means nothing to you, the article tells you how to help people find your site when they search in Google (or another search engine such as Yahoo) and how to control the summary text they see in the search results.

The highlights
  • choose your shop title wisely - this is part of the heading when your shop appears in a search result
  • the first 1-2 sentences in your shop announcement is the search result summary, so it's best to start off with a description of what you sell (use lots of important keywords)
  • your shop sections are now also important keywords used to help direct people to your shop (and of course item tags).

Monday, May 11, 2009

Minty mittens

This is Mittens (also known as Minty), our cat who will be soon going on an international, inter-continental flight. She gets to fly direct, us humans must fly via London (for some reason Europeans go to Cape Town in the winter - I still haven't figured out that one. June, July and August are the worst months to go so south....) because direct was miles more expensive for us.

ps: the blue in the background is of an old shwe shwe quilt from africancotton. It is made from Nelson Mandela skirt panels.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Another blog about t-shirts

Llike everyone who shops 2nd hand, I have a large collection of misfit clothes bought for the fabric or colours. This means I am always on the lookout for re-use inspiration. Here is a tutorial for shabby t-shirt to chic from LindaEve, who blogs on the Eco Etsy Street Team. (Yay a new eco blog to follow).

Reblogged from Craftzine.

Treasury about rain

The sun is shining here, but my Etsy 'umbrella' wax print fabric has been featured in a treasury about rain. Thanks magnolija

The sad news is that my sewing machine was packed yesterday, so no action for me for at least 6 weeks, I think realistically probably 9. I must admit it was a relief to get our stuff finally shipped - now I can focus on the important stuff, like getting Mittens (our cat) back home and renting out our apartment.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Fabric necklace

When I saw this fabric necklace pattern online I knew I had to make it. Very cool and so simple. I did mine a little differently, but in hindsight, I should have sewn the fabric into a tube first to avoid the problem of raw edges and the beads peeking out the fabric.

Here are two othes tutorials:
fabric ball from Cut & Keep (great when you don't have beads)
fabric scrap necklace from craftgossip (this one is great, but you need long scraps)

What you need for my necklaces
string or thin wire for the necklace
large beads (I used 9 beads about 1.5cm/0.60" radius)
fabric scrap (mine were about 40cm/15.7" x 15cm/5.9")
necklace clasp

Step 1
Attach clasp to one side of string or wire

Step 1.5 (If I did it again)
Sew fabric, right sides together, into a tube and turn right side out.

Step 2
Fold one end of fabric around the string or wire (if you did step 1.5 then you would thread the string/wire into the fabric tube), fold and sew neatly so that there are no raw edges.

Step 3
Thread first bead onto string or wire, into fabric.

Step 4
Gather fabric around the bead and tie a piece of thread around so the bead is held in place.

Step 5
Repeat steps 3 & 4 until all beads have been threaded


Thursday, May 7, 2009

Etsy success PDF book

Thanks to the Modish Biz Tips blog, here is a free Etsy PDF book "Secrets of savy Etsy Sellers" compiled by On the Dot Creations. I learnt something - when selling clothes, take photos of side and back views.

Pricing on Etsy

The art of pricing is always tough thing to get right. If you are priced too low people will think your stuff is inferior (this is the internet where people can't touch and feel) and if you are too high that is obviously an immediate turn-off.

Shipping can also be something that stops people buying, but they do understand if you are honest about how much it costs (packaging and shipping costs) and tell them why you are charging more than the shop next door (FedEx, special packaging, etc).

This is how I do it.

First work out your costs - include materials and then your time (e.g. going to the shops, listing the item, photographing) and don't forget about Etsy and Paypal fees.

Then search for similar items and see what they are selling for - remember to look and see if the shop has actually made any sales at that price.

Think about whether you would like to be on the cheap side and make more sales or rather be higher priced, better quality with fewer sales.

If you would prefer bulk sales, then offer a bulk discount and write that in your shop announcement.

Finally, I always say start high because you can always decrease your prices. Experiment - some people say .99c is a bad idea, while others say it works well for them.

Have fun!

Etsy fee calculator
Chris Parry's spreadsheet on pricing

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Market independence

Today was the market. (May 5th independence day in the Netherlands). I have been blogging a while about it and sewing things for a while, but today was finally D-day (sorry no pun intended). It's actually a rommel (junk) market, but my friend Kim (who had a stand last year) thought handmade things would sell too. She was right ... after the early morning bargain hunters had left.

Her Amy Butler stash and dash bags sold fabulously. She really has a lot of taste when it comes to mix and match (I am jealous). My bags did ok (perhaps African prints are not everyone's taste) even though they were very modestly priced (4 euros). Very few people looked at the fabric necklaces :(I assume I am ahead of fashion) and the neck scarves didn't do too well either.

The movers arrive on Friday, so we of course had a fair bit of rommel to add to the equation, which resulted in us making a decent days wage. Yay

Monday, May 4, 2009

My boxy pouch with a twist

Baby C loves this fabric + I had made a quick drawstring bag out of it for her dummies. This morning I sewed it into a boxy pouch, which I blogged about before. Today I filled it with a finished wipes packet - fun because it makes a loud crinkly noise. I reused the drawstring to make a scruffy handle for this bag which doubles up as something to chew on (especially the knot).

I made the bag with one piece of fabric and was surprised at how big it turns out (I took the sides in on this bag because it was initially too large for dummies (the full piece was about the size of an A4 piece of paper).

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Dutch Venice?

Giethoorn, the Dutch Venice, that's where we went today. A cheesy description, but somehow it really works. We all ate pancakes and travelled a touristic route in our own wooden boat along the canals in this charming Dutch city. I loved the wooden bridges and lawns onto the canals. Lots of 'gezellig' places. I enjoyed my day and even managed to get some stuff done for the market tonight (May 5th, tuesday - will blog some more tomorrow or monday).

Friday, May 1, 2009

Testing the Etsy API

[removed script due to complaints of going over my quota (from etsy)]

I found the Etsy API the other day and had some time to fiddle ... this is a stupid script that loads my favourite shops and looks at the featured items of their favs (well only a selection otherwise we'd be here all day).

Do you all have any suggestions for cool scripts I could write?