Decluttering tip – have a short term goal

Thank you for all your comments about my decluttering challenge – it’s nice to know I’m not alone !

I found decluttering fun at first, but it got harder, and something that helped me keep going was having a goal which would make a difference to my everyday life.

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I’ve recently started making fabric covered mirrors and badges.  I love making these, thriftily using up all my scraps of fabric.

But the downside is, more equipment, and more boxes of fabric.  Plus when we use the dining room (where I work) for entertaining, I have to haul everything upstairs.  And if those friends are staying with us and I can’t use the guest room as a store, everything has to go under our bed.

So I decided to clear a cupboard beside my work table so I could put my things away.

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I’d already decluttered these cupboards, so I went through everything again, and found a few more bits and pieces to go. Then it was about moving things around, using up space I’d already freed in the kitchen and living room cupboards.

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I now just have to take three things upstairs – my sewing machine and cutting board, and a big wooden tray where I keep my thread, scissors and fastenings.  Everything else goes in the cupboard, even my serger.

IMG_3408This has made such a difference to my working life.  I feel much calmer and can think more clearly when I’m not surrounded by things I’m not currently using, but it’s great to be able to access everything easily.

I’m also very motivated not to ‘lose’ my cupboard by buying more clutter!

Make + Review – Stitch at Home by Mandy Shaw

This is the second in my Make + Review series.

Stitch at Home by Mandy Shaw has such a pretty collection of designs, and a wide range of projects – a garden kneeler, dog bed, Christmas decorations, even a teepee for the garden.

There are masses of applique designs in the book and you could make them as they are, or use the ideas for other projects. The patchwork quilt has twelve applique picture blocks which could all be used individually on smaller items or cards.

I used part of Mandy’s sewing machine cover design to make a birthday card for Sue, my favourite fabric buying enabler.

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The little scissor charm is from Etsy here.

Next, a bandanna for Hetty.  A very simple pattern, but so nicely designed.  It’s double sided, and slides onto her collar – which I much prefer to tying something round her neck.

Dottie Doodle Hetty

I made this version larger than the pattern size as her Christmas bandanna got a little lost in all that fur.  She doesn’t seem to notice it at all.

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And this is my first entry in the Crazy Dog Lady Sewing challenge  #crazydogladysewing.

The next project on my list to try (when I have time!)  is this sampler.  I love embroidery samplers, and this design is so pretty.

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So, it’s a great book!  Masses of ideas to try, and so it’s one to turn to again and again.

Who am I? Writing a maker profile

I used to work in marketing.  If someone asked what I did, I could say “I’m a marketing consultant, I’m head of marketing at ….”  I might even have expanded it to add “I’m particularly interested in training young professionals in marketing skills”.

Easy!

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But what do I say now?  I have several jobs, but my main focus is sewing notebook covers and selling them.  As Elise Cripe says, “I make stuff like it’s my job”.  And I would totally use that line if she didn’t already!

So I was delighted when one of the speakers at my local creative business group meeting this week was Helen Bottrill on “Writing an Artist’s Statement”.  An artist’s statement, or maker profile, is useful for all kinds of things – applying for fairs, press and advertising, meeting people, websites.  As Helen said, having a clear description of what you do is a great confidence booster.

Helen’s advice was to start by writing down everything that you make, are inspired by, where you live, the materials you use – get it all out.  Write as much as you can, over several days.

Then reduce it – she suggested to 100 words (or shorter), plus an additional 150 to expand.  Write in the first person.

Aim to make your description unique.  What makes you stand out?  Look critically at what you have written – could it be about anyone?  Cut what you have written to make it say exactly what it needs to say.

So, here’s my first attempt.

I make removable covers for notebooks, in bright and quirky fabrics.  My notebooks are designed to be used, not left on a shelf.  When a book is used up, you can take it out of the cover and insert a new one.  

I live and work in the Devonshire countryside.

Hmm, needs a bit more work I think, but a vast improvement on what I had before!

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Helen Bottrill  is running a series of informal get togethers for women in creative business in the South West of England.  More information here.  Come!  It’s brilliant!

For  more advice, including examples, on writing a maker profile, click Handmade Lives.

Inspiration Board – One Little Word, February

The creative prompt for One Little Word this month was to create an inspiration board.  My initial reaction was “ooh, fun!”, but I found it quite difficult.

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I enjoyed cutting out pictures and words that appealed to me, but putting them together in a pleasing way was a different thing altogether.

I selected lots of photos of fresh and healthy food.  In the end I didn’t use these, but it did make me think about my goals.  Ali suggests you focus on one goal.  Mine is eating healthily and exercising more, but I’m not doing much about either!  My word is Clarity, so I clearly need to focus on being clear about my goals!

I decided to create a small board that would fit as a page in my album, and selected photos in the fresh clear colours that appeal to me.  Then I added words about starting fresh and being inspired.

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And a reminder to breathe at the end.

So the February prompt was a challenge for me – always good!  I wonder what March will bring?

2015 Secret Valentine Exchange

One of the many things I love about being part of the sewing blogger community are the swaps.  I’m always blown away by the talent and inventiveness out there, and what a great way to find new blogs to read.

My ‘giving’ partner for the 2015 Secret Valentine Exchange was Jeannie, and look what she sent me!

2015 Secret Valentine Exchange

A pot holder made from the most gorgeous fabrics, facial oil (smells amazing), a cute felted mushroom, and a drawing of our beloved Hetty!

We collect drawings of dogs,  so this looks perfect on the wall.

IMG_3405I love everything, but I think you can guess my favourite gift!

And this was the gift I made for my other swap partner, Lena

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Thank you to Sanae and Ute for organising, it’s been such fun.  You can see more on Instagram using #2015sve.

Sewing stash plan – this is the big one

I opened my fabric drawer this week, and I just felt so frustrated!  All this fabric, all the plans I make, and the sewing I do, but the drawer always seems jammed full.

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So.  Enough.  I put all the winter weight fabrics back in the bottom of the drawer. I’ve made a list of the rest and I’m going to work my way through it.

This first selection are cotton for summer skirts and dresses.

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I’m pleased with the way the colours go together – it’s like I have a plan!  And these are the patterns –

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I have lots of black linen (some new, some from a dress I don’t wear).  These shorts are a definite (love my navy pair) and I may try the Juniper trousers.  I also like Sato Watanabe’s wrap skirt – free download here.

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I planned to make this vintage red border print into a dress, but found the print overwhelming.  So I’m going to make another McCall’s 6751, and a summer skirt.

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I haven’t been very successful in sewing t-shirts, but I do have some jersey in the stash, so I’ll give it another try with this Burda 6910.

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And I mustn’t forget tiny niece Greta!  Not yet 2 and she has quite a fabric stash…  McCalls 5416 is a great pattern, and I also have the Norah dress and a smocked summer dress from Purl Bee.  I think smocking would work with the dotty fabric.

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Something I felt I was missing on holiday was a maxi skirt or two – cool, but protection from the mozzies in the evening.  This viscose looks perfect, and I may also have enough for yet another McCalls top (it’s my favourite).

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I also have some denim for an everyday skirt, supplies for a Cooper bag for Mr D’s birthday, another Mabel skirt (so useful) and a rather special dressing gown for little Miss Greta.

I’m going for one item made every week.  And no new fabric for a while.

And I feel much better now – thank you for listening!

A very quick skirt story – Colette Mabel

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On Christmas Day, I decided I “needed” a black pencil skirt to wear to my brother’s Boxing Day party.  So while Mr D was preparing the veg for lunch, and made a little reckless by a glass of Prosecco,  I made this!

“What are you doing” said Mr D from the kitchen.

“Making a skirt”.

“Oh, alright then”.

He’s so understanding.

I decided to omit the back vent – a combination of wanting to save time and I also like the hobbling effect of a tight skirt.  I used to wear them in the eighties, made from woven fabrics (bless my 19 year old self).  I must have looked so funny, scuttling around with tiny steps.

This scuba knit fabric, however, is so stretchy that I can walk perfectly well.

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It’s hard to see in black but the panels are a lovely shape.

This is probably my quickest make ever, and I’ve had so much wear from it.  It’s great to throw on with a jumper and boots for everyday, and it doesn’t crease.

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I made the skirt entirely on my serger, apart from the hem which I serged to neaten and then stitched with the stretch stitch on my sewing machine.

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Pattern: Colette Mabel
Fabric:  Black Scuba Jersey from Minerva here

Inspired by Karen’s story challenge post.