Tag Archives: sewing

customers

For me, one of the best things about selling my wares directly at markets is that you can build up a nice relationship with customers, who sometimes come back more than once and/or tell their friends about you.

I received these photos via WhatsApp from two repeat customers this morning, both of whom collected their goodies yesterday at the Country Craft Market in Somerset West.

The round patchwork cushion joins a few other patchworky things made by me on Martina’s bed, but I think it looks cute on the chair, too. The gold butterflies were a special request, on king-size pillow cases, and I need to print more – Christine says she needs duplicates for when these two are in the wash!

It’s a slow slow Sunday here: the sun is shining and there’s a nice breeze, and I was going to get some sewing and some writing done – but I woke up with a bad headache and a sore throat, so decided to embrace the chance to rest up. I went back to bed with coffee and biscuits and my book (Josephine Tey, just to mix things up a bit!) and am shortly going to pop some ingredients into the slow cooker to make this recipe from a wonderful book sent to me by Kathryn:

recipe

Hope you’re all having an excellent Sunday :)

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some you win, some you lose

Here’s a lose: a perfectly pleasant man commissioned me to make a throw for his couch, which he said was old and shabby but otherwise very comfortable, back in August. We talked about the colours in his lounge, including the curtains and the Persian carpet, and I assembled a collection of fabric for him to approve via email. Which he did. He also confirmed the size he wanted: 400 by 380cm. Not small at all!

Richard 2 I quoted him R2,580. This includes the backing fabric, top quality local and imported upholstery fabrics, and my labour. Considering it took me nearly a week to complete, this is a bargain. He accepted the price and asked me to go ahead. Here is the finished item:

Long story short – he ignores my emails and smses, and when he did once make the mistake of answering his phone, pretended to be out of the country. I tried again last week, and he informed me that he was terribly worried about his water bill, which was over R3,000, and he’d have to sort that out before anything else. At which point he put the phone down on me.

Hopefully someone else will love it and buy it, but it’s not an easy size to sell – it’s for a really really big 3-seater couch or an enormous bed. But my disappointment is great, partly because I have never been let down by a customer like this before (most of my customers are just the opposite!) and partly because I neglected to ask for a deposit before starting the job. Lesson learned :(

 

a pinny and a pie

Dexterously combining two themes in one post here: (a) a further attempt at cooking in the oven, and (b) a Scrap Happy project for Kate’s collection.

Sean's pie

Last year, staying with Sean and Melinda in Grahamstown, Sean made this fabulous spinach and feta pie for our supper one evening. It’s not vegan because the recipe calls for eggs, ricotta and feta – which means Melinda couldn’t have any – but I guess she was used to that, Sean usually going big on the carnivore side of things! Anyway, he sent me the link and it’s been lurking on my bookmarks bar ever since. Last night = girls’ night at my house = chance to make pie and graciously accept amazed compliments on having made something both edible and attractive.

karen apron

Theme #2: Karen mentioned that she could use another pinny for her work at the Service Dining Rooms.  I made this for her last week, from leftovers of fabric from cushions and bedspreads, and a bit of lace and some orange bobbles at the bottom left over from who the hell knows what.  Here she is, trying to give a realistic impression of a happily domesticated woman about to dish up the pie, but looking more like someone who’s watched The Shining too many times. Perhaps she would have been happier with an axe.

patchworky

I’m getting all patchworky. And I’m blaming Kate. My first two bedspreads were large irregular squares and rectangles and some strips. Nice, she said, but try cutting smaller squares because then you can fit in more contrasting fabrics. And what do you know, I’m hooked!

red-1

Side one and side two of a bright reddy-orangey mix, four strips of 10 squares each so far. I’ve opted for 10-inch squares because it seems like a manageable size. Not too big, not too small.  Yay for the rotary cutter and cutting mat. If the house started burning down, they are now the first two items I would grab. (Sorry, cats.)

red-2

Maggie asks if I will be quilting the bedspread. It’s a short answer – No. There will be no batting and no fancy-pants stitching designs. There will be a lightweight cotton backing and topstitching round the edge. I know my limits!

festive markets and pillow cases

Cape Town loves its markets. Apart from the weekly or monthly farmers markets and craft markets and vintage markets and trendy-food markets, approximately 40 ‘special’ Christmas/gift markets also happen every year, between October and December. These can run from three to twelve days, depending on the venue and the organisers. Everyone’s products are bar-coded, and there’s a central purchase point. The traders go in at various times and restock, and also help out with the supervision.

To get accepted for one of these special markets, you have to apply online and then attend an “approval day”, usually during May or early June. You and three million other hopefuls set up a mini-display so that the organisers can see the quality of your products and your prices. They’re interested in the prices because, apart from paying a trading fee, you also pay a commission on your sales, usually between 15% and 20%.  The more popular the product, the more money made by the market people. (Note: many of these markets are run by churches or large charity organisations – a large percentage of the money raised goes towards community upliftment.)

I have had my hats at a couple of festive markets now and, frankly, they haven’t sold as well as I anticipated. I’ve decided this is because people are mainly looking for gifts for other people at this time of year – if you aren’t sure that the intended recipient likes that particular colour or that the size is right, a different item would be a safer bet.

So, in my wisdom, three days before the recent Approval Day for six different markets, I took it upon myself to design and create an entirely new product: handprinted cotton pillow cases. In a frenzy of experimentation, I tried out different linens, colours, inks, designs and labels. I sewed, printed, ironed, washed, packed, and did it all again many times before getting it as right as it was ever going to be in that short space of time.

I could only get the rabbits and the paisley design ready initially:

Rabbit 2 MISCELLANEOUS 2221 paisley red Packaging Rabbit 1

but since then I’ve found Gareth at I Love Screenprinting in Obs, and he made me a beautiful screen with my text designs:

i heart my pillow 2

There are more coming: Sleep Tight, Dream On, Sleepyhead and – a suggestion from an ex-colleague which is too good to resist – Give Me Some Head.

And, no, I haven’t forgotten about the hats for Grahamstown. I did a stock-take today, please see the updated counter on the right !

Olive in the sun

Meet Olive, Megan and Jeremy’s little girl, and Anne’s granddaughter.

olive

At 7 months, Olive already has a natural sense of style. The duck-egg blue leggings work perfectly with a loose but crisp white smock, which she’s teamed with two accessories that clinch the “modern-baby-about-town” look , an oversized cotton collar* and a handmade patchwork sunhat**.  Trendy babies know that this winning fashion combo can take you through from morning mommy-and-me group to afternoon shopping trip, and is guaranteed to draw plenty of attention.

* model’s own

** by Jam Tarts

a quick hello

So, it’s not that I don’t love you all and have things I’m dying to share, it’s just that blogging time has become a bit of a luxury for me at this time of year – I’m either making stuff for a market, or am at a market, or am doing the admin for future markets. I have 12 market days between now and Ch&%#*@mas, plus an order for sunhats for 150 preschoolers (deadline is 3 days away).

I also now have an industrial sewing machine in my life, which I bought second-hand: you can just see it on the left in the pic below of my sewing room.

sewing room

I know, right? You’re thinking, How on earth does she manage to keep her work space so tidy and clean? What can I say – I’m naturally well-organised, it’s a gift.

I hope to be able to show you the finished sunhats next week – I’m really proud of them. Each one is fully lined and has a different combination of fabrics in various patchwork styles, plus an adjustable band round the top and a toggle so it stays on.

sunhat purple turq

xxx