Business Time

Over a week since last post! Well I suppose that’s what happens when you stop staying in the house every day and start offering lots of people your time!

I think it has been one of the busiest weeks since I stopped working last November. Do not misapprehend – I am very excited about the new opportunities heading my way – but it does mean I need to plan my time really carefully in order to keep up with everything I have begun (and maybe consider drinking a bit less wine).

Between sessions at Bishop’s House and meeting my business mentor (eee!) I have been finalising my business plan so I can get to selling some of my handmade things. In the early stages some market research was necessary, which I like to call ‘window shopping’. Looking at online sellers and crafts-people more close to home, I was able to gauge the market and figure out where my products might fit in. There are lots of interesting independent art and craft retailers in Sheffield, links to a few will be at the bottom of this post if you are curious! Perhaps I’ll write on this in more detail soon. I didn’t have my camera with me first time round as I thought it might be a bit presumptuous, so no photos as yet.

My current and most arduous task, is putting together a few key designs to sell, while figuring out the cost and profit margins. Doing all of these at once is a bit of a battle and I’m not sure I would have chosen to do it this way, but because of the programme I am on I need to be ready to start trading within the next few weeks. Full details of this could be a whole post!

On to the actual making. I had an idea for a foundation pieced panel which could be repeated for a modern, angular look. Coincidentally, the colour and fabric choices were inspired by  pair of 1950s curtains I spotted on display at Weston Park Museum.

Simplified design. No printer = good old tracing paper

Simplified design. No printer = good old tracing paper

First block on the left. Less than perfect...

First block attempt on the left. Less than perfect…

Drawing the design was the easy part. Then came the process of making the three patchwork blocks, which involved drawing, sewing, re-drawing and re-sewing. I had to make them simpler and quicker to produce in greater numbers, as my initial design was far too complicated. My final method involves skipping the paper foundation and using fabric instead. This adds weight to the blocks and means cutting fewer fabric pieces. Does any one else remember this process from GCSE textiles? 

Much neater on the third attempt

Much neater on the third attempt

Finished test piece

Finished test piece

I think a common problem for makers of all kinds is just this – trying to reconcile the cost of your own time, the materials and trying to make a profit. It’s not something I have had to do much before and I will admit to it driving me a little bit crazy.

However, in the end I turned out a little sample product that illustrates the progress I made with the panel. I need to make a few more to get all of the details absolutely perfect, but the design is a good likeness of the thing in my head. A measure of success!

There are a few more designs in the pipeline, which it will be a pleasure to share in due course.  As ever, any tips, tricks or sage advice would be much appreciated! If I have omitted details you are curious about, just ask.

Links to lovely crafty places in Sheffield:

Moonko: http://moonko.co.uk/

A beautifully curated shop space with an incredible selection of stuff hand-made in the UK. Highlights include some very sexy haberdashery items and some textile based jewelry. Swoon!

Birds Yard: http://www.birdsyardsheffield.co.uk/

A large space on Chapel walk crammed with a huge range of inspiring clothing, accessories, prints, homeware, cosmetics (I could go on), very exciting for a thorough moocher like myself

Nichols Building: https://www.facebook.com/NicholsBuilding

Two floors of vintage loveliness, including fashion, vintage homeware, pimped out furniture, hand dyed fibres AND a nice cafe.

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