welcome To The One Thimble Blog
Roll up! Roll up! Here’s a Sneak Peek Inside Issue 9 … our Vintage Circus Issue!
Have you ever wanted to sew something but been a bit scared to give it a shot? … It’s thinking about how unachievable the final result seems that makes you want to not even start. At least that’s how I always felt about quilting. Luckily I had Rachael from Sew Today, clean tomorrow to break it down to baby steps and walk me through it in our #oasisquiltsewalong.
You can check out the first blog post where I was talking about making the Oasis Quilt HERE.
I only just realised that I completely forgot to do the Reveal blog post I had planned – so here it is … the journey of my first quilt!
I really loved the colours Rachael chose for her sample Oasis Quilt for Issue 8 so I knew I wanted to make mine in similar colours. My fabric stash is set up for sewing clothing so plain fabrics were few and far between. I found these tone on tone fabrics (by Tula Pink and Jennifer Paganelli) that I had been hoarding and brought the plain white fabric for the background. For the backing I used a swirly fabric by Rashida Coleman.
I am so slack when it comes to pre-washing. Generally I only pre-wash knit fabrics and fabrics for clothing I’m making for myself. I might test wash scraps but that’s it. BUT this was my quilt – I had absolutely no idea what I was doing so I decided to follow all the instructions to the letter!
It was a bit of a thrill to get started and realise that yes I was finally making my first quilt!!!
Along the way I got a bit distracted … I thought about making dolly bunting with my off cuts and had a little unpicking to do! The main problem with unpicking and quilts as I see it is that because the seams are so much longer a “little unpicking” on a quilt is a big job! I did contemplate leaving my mistakes, but I knew if I did that’d be all I would see when I looked at my finished quilt!
Rachael’s instructions were so good. I love it when you’re sewing something and thinking – nup no idea why I’m doing this … still no idea … bam – it makes sense and comes together beautifully!
Cutting my quilt top was a bit like cutting loopy – I did not want to screw it up!
Although the #oasisquiltsewalong officially ended with the completion of the quilt top, Rachael has a brilliant beginners quilting sew along that talked me through the final steps. You can find it HERE.
Handstitching the binding was an unexpected pleasure.
So here it is … my completed quilt!
It’s wonky, far from perfect, but boy oh boy am I proud of it! It’s in my sewing space and every time I catch sight of it I get a little thrill! And it’s even perfect for sleepy visitors to snuggle under and it has been known to migrate to the loungeroom for movie night.
It is everything I hoped my “someday quilt” would be.
I really LOVED making this quilt and I’d really love to have a go at another one sometime.
Kt’s teacher is expecting a baby early next year so maybe I should make her a quilt for her end of year gift. I think without another deadline my next quilting adventure may be too far away!
If you’ve sewn an Oasis Quilt I’d absolutely love to see. If you’d like to have a go at this or see pictures of some other people’s quilts be sure to search #oasisquiltsewalong on facebook or instagram.
Till next time.
Do you ever look at finished garments and think, “How the heck did you get that topstitching so straight”?
… If you don’t ever think that, then you probably already own one of these feet!
I’m lucky enough to have two sewing machines.
Bernie (Bernina activa 230 PE) on the left and Jan (Janome DC2050) my new back up machine on the right. I got Jan at the start of the year when Bernie was in for a service. Issue 6 was about to come out and the thought of being without a sewing machine that close to a release was giving me palpitations!
This blog post will cover the feet I use for topstitching on these two machines.
I’m a bit of a sewing machine foot addict! When I first started sewing I brought a heap of extra feet for my sewing machine.
Some I never use – sorry Ruffler, but others like my rolled hem foot and edge stitch foot I use almost every time I sew.
My #5 foot for my Bernina is my #1 favourite sewing machine foot ever!!!! I LOVE this foot!
I’ve been calling this foot my “Edge Stitch Foot”, but when I was researching this blog post I discovered that its actually called a “Blindstitch foot”.
The funniest thing about that is, I’ve never thought to use it when sewing a blindstitch hem – I’ll have to give it a go!
***EDIT – Brooke from Bug and Miss has both the #5 (Blindstitch Foot) and #10 (Actual Edge Stitch Foot) – she very helpfully sent me through a picture of the two and now I definitely need a #10 foot for my birthday – it looks even better than #5 for edge stitching …
I sort of assumed everyone knew about this foot until I posted the picture above on social media and had a heap of people ask me what foot it was and how to use it!
It is seriously the easiest thing in the world to use this foot for topstitching.
- Butt the blade that runs down the centre of the foot up against the edge of the fabric.
- Move the needle position to the left or the right depending on where you’d like your topstitching to be.
- Sew your line of stitching while keeping the fabric butted up against that blade.
The first extra foot I got to go with my Janome was the “Edge Guide Foot”.
It’s really easy to use too!
- Use the little screw on the right of the foot to move the position of the plastic guide.
- Butt the plastic guide up against your fabric.
- Sew your line of stitching while keeping the fabric butted up against that blade.
If you have a Bernina or a Janome sewing machine and don’t own one of these feet, then I highly recommend that you buy one. They’ll make topstitching so much easier!
Have you got a different machine? Do you have a different edgestitching foot you use? I’d love to hear your thoughts on using special feet to help you sew straight!
If it makes you happy
It can’t be that bad
If it makes you happy
Then why the hell are you so sad
– extract from Sheryl Crow song “If it makes you happy”
Working from home doing what I love has been my big dream for … well close to forever, but at times loneliness has threatened to turn something that makes me so happy on its head. In case this is something you’ve struggled with too, I thought I’d share the tips that work for me.
1. Make time to see your existing friends.
It can be difficult to prioritise downtime when you work from home, but it’s important to maintain healthy relationships outside of your business. If your existing friends have no interest in your business even better!
Catching up with them will give you a reality check and help you remember that your business is not the be all and end all!
2. Network locally.
Find a local crafting or business group and go along to their meetings. Discussing your business with others in “real life” is very different to only networking online for your business. If you can’t find a group like this consider reaching out to local people you know “online” and starting one with them.
3. Network online.
This is good for you and your business. You can help each other promote your businesses and can serve as “back up plans” for each others businesses if you’re forced to take time off unexpectedly.
4. Have set working hours as much as possible.
Don’t work all the time. It is a temptation to do, “just one more thing” at all hours of the day and night when you work from home, but this can damage your relationships within your immediate family. If you were working for someone else you’d never stand for them keeping you at the office and away from your loved ones all day and all night, so don’t do that to yourself.
5. Take your work out of the house.
Go to a cafe or park to plan or answer emails. Changing your environment can help you feel revived, can spark new ideas and fuel your creativity.
6. Have background noise while working.
Listening to a podcast or playing music can make you feel you’re not alone all the time.
7. Be a good friend.
Remember to check in with others in similar situations. Being there for someone else and understanding that you’re not alone in feeling this way can help you feel less isolated.
8. Collaborate with others on a side project.
Take part in a showcase or charity auction where you have the opportunity to work with others towards a
“greater good”. It’s a fabulous way to reach out to people you wouldn’t otherwise have an opportunity to get to know.
9. Skype or phone someone you’ve met online.
Its a totally different experience to communicate directly rather than just via keyboard with someone you’ve met online. It can help you get to know them even better.
If you’ve got other tips or thoughts on dealing with loneliness when you work from home I’d love to hear!
*** PARTS OF THIS BLOG POST FIRST APPEARED AS AN ARTICLE IN ONE THIMBLE ISSUE 7 ***
Confession: I’ve been a vocal believer that the way to that handmade nirvana, of endless sales and stress free production is niche marketing. After all it worked for me with Ainslee Fox Handmade! But this weekend I changed my mind . . .
When I first started sewing to sell, I made it all, I was even asked to make tab curtains at one stage! Sales were pretty slow and I was trying hard to figure out what people wanted to buy, so every week I made something new.
Then something amazing happened … I made a particular dress and it sold right away. So I made another, and another, and the same thing kept happening. Before too long I was just making the one style. I got really quick and good at it and demand remained high. It was easy for customers to know what they were going to get from me, and I knew who they were, which made marketing easier.
Since then whenever anyone has asked me what the key to my success was, that’s what I’ve told them. Niche market. Make one thing and make it better than anyone else.
So when Mr Fox (my husband) first started talking about starting his handmade business I’ve got to admit I was a bit of a bossy boots. I told him he couldn’t make bowls and pens and memo holders and key holders – he had to choose one and he had to make it unique. And he had to be the best at it, or there was no point! … What a dragon!!!
On the weekend we went to a local market and Mr Fox took me to see his mate’s stall. His mate sells pens, toys, wine holders, bowls, artwork, absolutely everything timber … and he’s doing a roaring trade! It was like everything I’d believed about selling handmade was wrong and then it hit me – there’s a big difference between selling at markets and selling online.
At a market your audience is anyone who’s going to that market. They’re not necessarily looking for something specific. And there’s a lot less competition than there is online. Online your competition is anyone, anywhere, world wide with an online shop. Customers don’t browse the web looking for anything, well sometimes they do, but generally they search for something specific. To stand out in that sea of competition niche marketing certainly makes things easier.
But unlike what I had believed, before the weekend it’s definitely not the only way!
Turns out its down to your own “secret sauce”. Your business is unique and what works for you mightn’t be the same as what works for anyone else. And to be honest – that sucks!
I want Mr Fox to succeed, I want you to succeed too.
The more successful and happy and innovative people there are, the better the world will be!
I don’t want you to have to struggle and stuff up and think about giving up. And I know you want there to be a simple answer out there too. A course or an ebook or an expert who’ll be able to give you the answers.
But there’s really not one size fits all answer.
It’s not time to give up though – there’s things that you can do to help you find your secret sauce.
1. Ask questions. Find mentors. Mentor others. Share what works for you and learn from what works for them.
2. Read broadly. Take courses or hire experts, if you like that sort of thing, but don’t expect them to have the whole answer.
3. Experiment. Try stuff out. If it doesn’t work, well at least you know more than you did before you tried!
4. And if someone, like me, tells you that the way to guaranteed success is niche marketing or storytelling or selling on etsy or at markets or glitter business cards or whatever, remember to take it with a grain of salt.
You have the answer to your businesses secret sauce – trust in yourself and don’t give that power away!