Handmade phone case giveaway winner & cookbooks organisation

Congratulations to Hanta Ralay, you have won a handmade case for your Iphone 5. I have sent you an email requesting your address so will post your prize once I have your address. I don’t have a malagasy fabric, so will make it with another fabric that has a malagasy style to it.

There was only one participant so I will keep the remaining 2 cases for another giveaway in the future.

On the home front, I have been itching to do some organising. I have lots of books and they are all over the place. I started with my cookbooks, I like to browse them on the sofa so it made sense to have them all near the sofa. I have a Leksvik coffee table from Ikea which is perfect for the job. It was originally in a plain dark wood colour so I painted it pearly purple. My partner added some castor so that the table is easy to move around when needed.

ikea leksvik coffe tableThese are close ups of the books if you are curious:

cookbooks 1They are loosely organised by genre.

cookbooks 2I left one slot for snacks.

cookbooks 3I also have my vitamins and herbal supplemetns in the red box, and below that are my diaries, notebooks and gardening catalogues.

cookbooks 4Next, I want to tackle my gardening books but I don’t know where to put them yet!

Win a custom made russian doll case for your phone

Hi everyone! I took some time off blogging as the recent months have been quite hectic for me. I spent most of december in France, to attend my sister’s funeral and to spend some time with my family. I didn’t close my shops while I was away, so then spend most of january catching up on december’s orders. Thank you so much to those of you who have been very patient with your orders.

Today, I have 3 custom made russian doll cases to give away, one per winner. You can use it as a phone case or a purse or a business cards holder/case. I made the one in the picture to fit a Samsung phone. The one you will win, will be custom made for your phone, so you need to let me know the name/model of your phone. If you don’t like the russian doll fabric, you can ask me to make it in a different/surprise fabric.

handmadewithjoy phone caseTo win one of those cases, please visit my etsy shop and let me know (in a comment here) what you think I should make and sell that is not already in my shop. Don’t forget to put in the comment the name/model of your phone in case you win, and wether you want your case made with the russian doll fabric in the picture or a different/surprise fabric. The giveaway is open to anyone worldwide, the 1st person to leave a comment will automatically win, and I will draw 2 winners among all the other participants on March 11th (the giveaway is open till March 10th 2015 12pm GMT time).

If you’d rather buy one for you or for someone else as a gift, you can find it in my shop here: www.etsy.com/listing/224412544/russian-doll-case-custom-made-for-your

Good luck!

Small business talk: bigcartel shop review

If you regularly read my blog, you know that I opened a bigcartel shop in January 2014. Bigcartel has 4 pricing plans depending on how many items you want to have in your shop.

bicartel pricing plansI was on the Diamond plan which allows you to have up to 100 items for sale in your shop and costs $19.99 per month, payable by paypal. This monthly payment is the only fee you pay as they don’t charge any final value sale’s fee.

I was very excited when I opened this shop, as I liked the shop design (you have a choice of different templates to chose from in order to customise your shop), but best of all I thought that I would save money as I would only have to pay a monthly fee and not pay an final value sale’s fee. It seemed like a great idea at the time.

10 months down the line, I have decided today to downgrade my shop to the Gold pricing plan which is completely FREE but only allows you to have up to 5 items in your shop. I could have completely closed down the shop but why not keep it with its 5 items in it, it is free after all.

I have come to the conclusion that bigcartel does not work for me. I don’t do much marketing or advertising for my shop, so the only traffic that I get is via my blog, a bit from google and a bit from the bigcartel directory. You can see this in my shop dashboard below (screenshot taken before I downgraded):

Their dashboard is really great as you can clearly see what items get the most click on, what customers are searching to buy, and how do they find youbigcartel shop dashboard.

In 10 months, I only got 3 sales from the shop for a total of about £60 (or $96). Yes, you read that right, it is pathetic, given that I have paid about $200 in shop fee. I often redirected new customers and repeat buyers to the bigcartel shop (with a promise of a free delivery or a discount code) but no they still went ahead and bought either via my etsy shop or directly from me. So that is why I have given up on bigcartel.

These are the 5 remaining items in my bigcartel shop. They were the most viewed items in the shop.

handamadewithjoy shop bigcartel

This is just my experience with bigcartel. I know some sellers who get lots of sale from their bigcartel shop, so I am not discouraging anyone to give it a try. Do you have a bigcartel shop? If yes, what is your experience with it?

Sewing a russian doll fabric minky baby blanket

I’ve just finished sewing a baby blanket for a customer using a minky fabric for the back and I thought I would share tips on how to sew this fabric. For this blanket, I used a japanese Kokka fabric with russian doll for the front, and a cream raised dot minky fleece fabric for the back.

First, minky is a lovely fabric to touch, it is so soft and velvety, and feels lovely on the skin. You can find plain minky and raised dot minky. It is a popular choice of fabric for customers who wants a baby blanket so I offer a selection of it. But for us seamstresses, it is a tricky fabric to sew. These are the tips that work for me each time I have to use this fabric:

russian doll blanket 11. Minky is polyester so it will not shrink, therefore it is not necessary to pre-wash it before sewing it. If you use another natural fabric with it (cotton, linen, etc) then you must pre-wash that fabric as natural fabrics tend to shrink the 1st time you wash it.

2. Minky is a very slippery fabric so you must pin and pin your fabric layers (minky plus the other fabric you use), I pin everywhere like I am making a quilt.

3. To get a straight sewing line, I use a soft sellotape as a marking line on the back of the cotton fabric and sew along that line. Make sure you use a tape that easily comes off, I once used a super strenght doubled side tape and it was a nightmare to take the sticky bits off the fabric.

russian doll baby blanket4. I also pin on both side of the stitching line to make sure that the fabrics do not shift while I do the sewing.

5. Use a quilting needle and a walking foot on your machine. I also increase my stitch lenght, so use a 3.5 stich lenght instead of the standard 2.5.

6. One last tip: if you use a raised dot minky as a backing, then iron your cotton fabric really well before you start stitching as once your item is finished, it is not a good idea to iron your blanket (if you do then the raised dot will flatten out).

kokka russian doll fabric baby blanketYou can buy this blanket as a custom made item in my shop.

24% discount in the shop and featured sewing room

Just a quick note to let you know that there is a currently a 24% DISCOUNT in my main SHOP. The discount code to enter at checkout is   24FOR24DISC  There is no minimum order (shipping is free in UK and $5 for the rest of the world), and the discount is valid only for 24 hours today.

And I forgot to tell you that my sewing room has been featured on American Quilter (magazine/online site) in their Dream Studio giveaway. One of their editors saw pictures of my sewing room on flickr and asked me if they could use one of my photos. Of course I said yes, I was very flattered as my sewing room picture is next to some really pretty ones (links below).

my sewing room in american quilterStudio photos: (top to bottom) (1) Emma Jean Jansen, www.emmajeanjansen.com.au; (2) Caroline Hulse, sewcaroline.com; (3) Brook Wilhelmsen, beingbrook.com; (4) Laurraine Yuyama, patchworkpottery.com; (5) Camille Roskelley of Thimble Blossoms; (6) Lotta Jansdotter Studio by Jenny Hallengren; (7) Dawn Hansen, olabelhe.com; (8) Lova Rajaonarimanana, handmadewithjoy.etsy.com; (9) Jacquelyn Gering of Tallgrass Prairie Studio; and (10) Anna Maria Horner, annamariahorner.com.

You may have also noticed that I  finally finished the In the Press page on the blog. I still need to tweak this blog but it is getting there slowly.

PS: for those of you who sent me private emails, sorry I am late with my reply, I will get back to you all so please be patient with me

 

 

Magazine interview

BIENVENUE A TOUS LES NOUVEAUX LECTEURS FRANCAIS.

I have been lucky again, as I was recently interviewed by a french magazine, called Coudre c’est facile (it means Sewing is easy). My feature is 2 whole pages in the May/June 2014 edition of Coudre c’est facile magazine (page 40 and 41). I have been asked about how to get a feature in magazines so I will share how it happened to me (for all my press features up to today: book and magazines).

coudre c'est facile magazineI don’t contact journalists, they do contact me. They usually find me via one of my shops: via my etsy shop for the feauture in Quick & Crafty magazine, via my folksy shop for the book Handmade Gifts, and via my dawanda shop for Coudre c’est facile magazine. So for those of you who are making and selling handmade items, my advice is to sell via etsy/folksy/dawanda as that is where journalists go and look for items or sellers/bloggers to feature in their magazines. It is really worth having those shops. Even if I don’t sell much via them (most of my sales are direct sales – meaning most buyers buy from me directly rather than via those shops), I will always keep those shops.

french press featureYou don’t get paid for magazine features like this. But it is a good exposure for you as a blogger or for your shop/brand. In terms of revenue, I don’t get much sales from them as these magazines are for people who already sew (so I am assuming, that if they like something I make they would rather sew it themselves instead of buying it from me). But still, it is wonderful to be in a magazine and I am very grateful for the opportunity.

lova in french magazineFor this feature, the journalist sent me a serie of questions to be answered by email and also requested pictures. She then wrote the feature about me, so the text is by her and the photos are by me. I am really happy with what she wrote as she managed to beautifully  convey what I wrote in my answers. The magazine is french so it is sold in all french speaking countries (including Canada) but you can also find it in the international section of your magazine/bookshops such as Borders etc if you don’t live in a french speaking country.

handmade with joy in the pressThis feature prompted me to revamp my blog, it is not finished yet but I’ve made a good start. It’s a bit time consuming as I do it all by myself but it is not complicated (wordpress makes it easy for anyone to update or change the look of their blogs). I much prefer it to the old design. What do you think? Do you like it? I still need to add some pages at the top menu (press features, blog links, etc) and I need to update the about me page and the FAQ page. I also want to add a special page for french readers.

I know I said that I will do a giveaway when this magazine is out, I haven’t forgotten about it so will organise that for my next post.