welcome To The One Thimble Blog
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!
A few weeks ago we introduced One Thimble’s Agony Aunt – Seam Ripper. On the weekend she got in touch and let me know she had a question she wanted to answer on the blog.
So over to you Ripper …
I HATE hemming!! It’s the thing I like least about sewing. Do you have any tips for how to make it easier and faster instead of pressing and pressing??
I have a few tips, but I’m sorry to tell you, all involve some element of pressing. To me, pressing a garment well at each step is responsible for the difference between homemade and handmade.
My personal favourite method is to use my narrow hem foot/rolled hem foot on my sewing machine and press well after. This takes some getting used to but once you’ve got the idea about how to start and how to hold your fabric to feed it through you will never look back! There is a fabtastic video on the OT blog (link) to get you started.
My second favourite method is to overlock the edge and use the overlocking as a guide for pressing because the overlocking is 1/4″ evenly you’ll get a lovey, even hem. You’ll find that the edge stitch of the overlocking will help the fabric turn up as you press.
My third favourite would be my clover hot hemmer – it’s marked with grid lines to help you press the fabric evenly and of course you can iron over it!
If you’re making a special occasion garment you’re going to want to use a deeper hem and hemstitch. A narrow hem lacks “weight” and can sometimes flip up while being worn and the stitching on a hemstitched hem will barely show on the right side of the garment. You don’t have to hemstitch by hand though you can do it on your machine. Check out this blog post (link) to get you started.
I hope this helps and I promise you, the little extra time it takes to press will be so worth the compliments you’ll get for your finished garment.
If you’ve got a sewing question that you’d like to see answered in One Thimble Issue 9 please email firstname.lastname@example.org
If your question is published you’ll receive a complimentary copy of the issue of One Thimble your question appears in.
Here’s a quick “how to” for sewing Blind Hems. You often see this hem on pants or fancy dresses. It’s a terrific little technique for sewing a hem so that your stitches are almost invisible on the right side of the garment.
Finish the raw edge of the hem.
Turn the hem up the required amount and iron.
Turn your outfit right side up, then flip the hem allowance to the top, so that only the finished edge
of the hem sticks out beyond the garment.
Turn the whole thing over.
Stitch with a blind hem stitch. The straight stitches are sewn on the finished hem and the little zigzag
stitches catches the garment.
Fold the hem down and iron. There will be small stitches on the right side of the fabric, but if you
match your cotton it will be almost invisible.
I absolutely LOVE my “job”. It’s so wonderful to be able to meet amazing indie designers and I feel so grateful that they let me include their work in One Thimble so you can meet them too! I think its pretty cool that we’re forming connections all over the world between contributors and readers alike. Networking, seeing people collaborating with others, it makes me feel giddy with excitement!
Stephanie from Swoodson Says came up with a pretty cool idea and organised a pattern swap between One Thimble Issue 8 contributors, so people could get an early start on their Christmas gift crafting! This blog post is a round-up of what they sewed! Hopefully it’ll give YOU some inspiration for what you might like to make to gift this year.
Amy from Momma Quail Patterns sewed a little collector backpack for her son and is going to make them to hold her nieces and nephews Christmas gifts.
Alicia from Felt with Love Designs sewed up a Little Collector Backpack for her daughter. You can check out her short-cuts for the straps too!
I sewed a Coco Flower Crown over on my Ainslee Fox Boutique Patterns Blog for my niece.
Rebecca from Hugs are Fun sewed the Coco Flower Crown flowers for her wreath.
Lauren from Molly and Mama sewed a Hexie Wall art for her daughter’s bedroom here.
Stephanie from Swoodson Says sewed a Jackalope Tee for her son and is going to make a matching one for his buddy. You really need to check out the cute size tags she made and find out more about the Inkodye project she used for the front panel
Michelle from The Toffee Tree sewed a Fat Red Bird Fedora for her son’s friends birthday. I especially liked her interfacing tip for the “midnight sewist”.
Rachael from Sew Today, Clean Tomorrow sewed the Desert Fox Softie. I really loved her explanation why her fox is the same colours as the pattern rather than the bright colours she’d initially intended … I’m sure you’ll be able to relate!
I’d love to hear what you’d like to sew from Issue 8 to give as gifts this year! Let me know by commenting below or in the One Thimble Sewing Enthusiasts Group on Facebook!