Wednesday, 18 July 2018

Making things

I've been working on some more things for my shop. I've been a bit short of cash so I haven't been able to buy more snaps and wicking fabric to finish them all yet. I also need bamboo for a bunch of fitted nappies I've cut out. I've discovered that I have no clue how to run a business. I'm not sure how to budget. So far I've used all the money I've made to buy new fabrics or supplies. I haven't quite figured out how I'm supposed to make a profit yet. Surely there will be a point where you've built up enough supplies that you can actually keep some of the money you make? I'd like to have some spare cash so that my kids can go swimming and stuff during the summer.

I have tons of scraps of PUL and hate throwing things away, so I thought I'd trim the scraps down into squares and sew them together to make some covers. I don't recommend doing this because it takes forever! I'm not too sure how well they'll work either because every seam is a potential leak point. I thought I'd sit a wet cloth inside the cover for a while and see how the seams hold up. Hopefully they do because I ended up sewing together enough patches to make five more of these covers.


I need to sew this one closed and topstitch it. All the seams where the squares meet together mean that it doesn't turn very smoothly so I cut some from the Rocket Bottoms cover pattern that I can bind with fold over elastic. I don't really love working with fold over elastic though. I don't hate it, I just feel like it doesn't give such a professional finish compared to turning and topstitching or overlocking. I made a stupid mistake of cutting the smaller scraps into even tinier squares to sew a newborn sized cover. That took forever. I don't have a picture of that yet. I'd like to get some mesh sort of fabric to line the covers with, just to hide the fact that all the seams look a bit ugly on the inside. This one I've made uses athletic wicking fabric though.


It was 32.4 degrees C in my workshop recently. Way too hot for working. I've also been getting swarmed with midges in the late evenings. They're really vicious this year. The bites seem to itch for ages. These are some flowers from my garden. I have no idea what they are, even though I planted them! They're at least 2 metres tall. Bees love them and they smell nice too.


These are some of the nappies I've been embroidering. I still haven't bought any more white PUL yet! I do think most designs look better on white.


These look a bit blurry. There's a skull on orange, for Halloween, a fairy on pale pink, dinosaurs on green, a bird and teacup on pale yellow, the wolf again on purple. I don't think he turned out very well this time. Maybe I should have done him in a darker colour so he'd stand out more. There's also a steampunk airship on brown, which you can't see very well.


The dount design was a free download. It kind of annoys me how it's lower case on the top but upper case on the bottom though. I love the cactus and hedgehog design! For the unicorns I only had a tiny bit of purple left, so I decided I'd stitch together two different colours of PUL at the crotch. The front will be pink and the back will be purple with the unicorn embroidery. I've had the bunny design for ages but this is the first time stitching it out. I did another fairy on purple, which I think looks better than the one on pink.


Okay, there's nothing baby related about this design at all. It's from a French cafe design set. I really like the look of delicate designs. It's for the baby's grown ups to look at and admire. There are plenty of people out there embroidering cute baby designs, so it's nice to do something a bit different.


I love this cactus design! My daughter told me that cacti designs are really in right now. It was the middle of the night when I finished stitching this design.


Here's the bunny design again. It's very summery. I really should get it finished before summer is over!

I can't really complete any of these nappies until I have some inner fabric and some more snaps. I'm dreading putting snaps on 11 nappies, oh and there's the five scrappy covers. Fun...

My kids will have the whole of August off. We do school where we work for three months and have one month off. So we're usually off for the whole of April, August and December. I'm pretty sure it works out to be about the same amount of holidays as schools here have. This August I thought I'd spend it making things for my shop. I had a goal in mind to make 50 items. I'm not sure if that's too ambitious or not. Finishing off the things I've started would put a pretty big dent in that total though. I also have some cloth pads cut out that I should sew up too. I'm looking forward to the challenge!

Saturday, 7 July 2018

Stocking (soon!)

I have so many photos to upload and edit. I really hate that part!

This is a week's work. It doesn't seem like very much for a week though. I embroidered on Sunday, cut pieces out on Monday, put snaps on on Tuesday, sewed things together on Wednesday, sewed casings and put some elastic in on Thursday, put more elastics in, topstitched and put the last snaps on on Friday. Today (Saturday) I prewashed them all and took photos.


I need to get faster at making things, or more efficient.

I actually considered closing my shop this week because I have no support here. I had wanted to do something like this when my kids were small, but I knew I wouldn't have the time to do it. You'd think now, when your oldest is almost 18 you'd have the time. But no. You'd think that maybe you could go and work in your workshop and leave one of your older kids to take care of dinner so you'd be able to get a decent chunk of work done. You'd also like to hope that your partner would support you and not continually make negative comments. After all, you're trying to earn money to help support your family. That's the worst part to be honest. I just don't know if this is worth it? I do want to keep my shop open though. It's something I've always wanted to do and I only just started, so I'm staying open for now. It does really suck not to have the support of my family though.

I just ordered some poly mailers. They're supposed to be eco friendly ones. I was thinking I might wait until they arrive before I stock these nappies in my shop. I was going to order some bamboo fabric to finish off the fitted nappies I started making, but the shop I bought the last stuff from is out of stock. The other shop I've bought stuff from only had half a metre left, which is pretty much useless. It's probably sold out now too. I'll have to see if I can find another supplier. Maybe there's a world wide bamboo fleece shortage!

Monday, 2 July 2018

Wow!

I was talking to my mum earlier last week, she's just started making and selling baby hats, so we were talking about how business was going. My shop hadn't had a sale since the beginning of June. I think my mum has sold two of her baby hats. I said that I didn't expect to sell anything at the weekend as the weather was supposed to be nice (yes, we've actually been having summer here in Scotland!). I thought everyone would be outside enjoying the weather. I think I jinxed myself, in a nice way! On Friday two of my favourite nappies sold, then during the weekend I had two sales of the cloth pads I uploaded. I sold ten items altogether and now there's almost nothing left in my shop!

I haven't been doing much shop related stuff lately, but actually selling stuff gave me a boost. I spent yesterday embroidering some nappies. I embroidered an owl which could have been amazing, but just didn't work out. For some reason the bobbin thread kept showing, especially on very intricate parts of the design. I don't know why it does that. I've embroidered on the exact same fabric with the exact same settings and not had that problem. Apparently slowing the speed down can help, so maybe I'll try the owl again. I embroidered the wolf design again because he was pretty popular before. He's on pale blue this time. I also embroidered robots, dogs and a grumpy cat. I finished the cat at 1am this morning. I'm looking forward to seeing them sewn up.


One of them has a heart! I thought that was cute.


This is on pale blue but it looks as if it's white here. I really need to get some more white PUL.


These dogs are on a pale yellow, which isn't as bright as it looks here.


So cute! I think he or she still needs some of the threads cut. This one is my second try because I completely messed up the first time.

I also have a bunch of stuff to upload to the shop. Some more cloth pads and a fitted nappy. If the blazing sun ever disappears I'll be able to get the photos taken. I need some more fabric to finish off my other fitted nappies. Now I actually have some cash to buy fabric!

I decided that it might be a good idea to stock my shop once a month. I can spend a week or two making things during the month and then I'll upload them at the beginning of the month. I'll try to get some stuff uploaded by the end of the week to count as July's stocking. Better get to it...

Monday, 25 June 2018

Hybrid fitted nappies

I haven't been working on much shop related stuff this last week. It's a bit blah really. Etsy is making some changes to their site, and their fees, and it seems to have been a very quiet week. I don't know if it's Etsy or if it's just me. Views in my shop have dropped. Like practically all week, they were next to nothing. Since I opened my shop people have been complaining on the Etsy forums about how their views and visits have dropped. People are saying their shops are much quieter than they usually are and they're making less sales. Maybe Etsy isn't the right place to sell on?

I sold some sewing magazines and patterns I had (not on Etsy) and I was going to use the money to buy more fabric to make stuff for my shop, but now I'm not sure. I have no idea what I should work on. I was planning to get some more PUL for embroidered nappies, but I haven't actually sold any of the ones I've made so far, so maybe it's not a good idea. But then again, I'm thinking, hmm, if I make more designs then I'm more likely to sell one. People keep favouriting them, so they must like them. Maybe the price is too high? But my pricing isn't much different to similar items.

Etsy tells you what people searched for to find your shop and a few people have been searching for all in one nappies, so do I make them?

You're probably supposed to have a business plan when you start up a business. I kind of had one. Make cute stuff. Sell said cute stuff. I think something more specific would be better because I really don't know what I'm doing and what I should be focusing on. I haven't done any advertising yet either. I'll think about doing that this week. If Etsy isn't sending you any customers then maybe you need to find your own.

I finished making some fitted nappies. Well, actually only one, because I'm out of bamboo fleece to finish the others. Three of these are hybrids with a Windpro layer and one is just and ordinary fitted.







I can't seem to get it to look photogenic. They definitely look nicer in real life. They're made from the Rocket Bottoms one size fitted pattern and the soaker is from the Rocket Bottoms one size fits most pattern. It's what they call a snake style soaker that you normally fold to fit, but this one has snaps to hold it in place. There's a small booster that snaps in underneath as well. It looks like a lot of snaps, but I think they help keep it all in place.

I'm going to upload this one to my shop soon. For some reason I have this weird paranoia about listing things. I'm a terrible business person! Obviously you have to list things to sell them. I really should work on a business plan too. I think I'll have to buy some more bamboo fleece to finish the nappies I've started. They just need the mini boosters made. I forgot to sew labels onto the soakers I made for them, so I'll have to try and sew them on to the boosters somehow.

Wednesday, 13 June 2018

One hundred!

According to Blogger, this is my one hundredth post! Things are looking up since the last time I posted. The problem of the leaky nappies has been solved. They just need slimmer fitting inserts. I'm really glad! I think maybe I jumped to worst case scenario, especially since other people I asked about it were suggesting maybe the suedecloth was repelling or the PUL had de-lamination issues and pretty much every single thing in my shop was made from the same fabric!

I'm think I'll have to make some inserts for the remaining Rocket Bottoms nappies so that no one else has the same problem. Inserts really aren't difficult to make, but the fabric to make them seems more expensive than gold! I just bought a metre, thinking it would be enough for several but it shrunk, dramatically! It's just under 80cm now, so it's shrunk by 20%.

I also ended up talking with a certain unsupportive person in my life, who claimed that they never said anything unsupportive to me. They said, I want you to succeed and do well, and then ruined it by adding a 'but'. But they did say they'd give me some money towards my business. I've actually already put in close to £200 now myself, mostly on boring stuff like threads, needles, bobbins, elastic and a couple of patterns. I do understand that you can't just keep throwing money at something though. There has to be a certain point where you need to quit if you're not making any money. I understand what my unsupportive person is trying to say, but I only just started out. Maybe we could have this conversation in six months time? I haven't advertised or done any kind of marketing yet.

I think I can make money on pocket nappies but only if I don't sell inserts with them. They only consist of two pieces of fabric, so now that I know they work okay I should maybe focus on them. I'm not sure hybrid nappies are going to be profitable at all. They are cute though! Here's the latest one I made (it's not really finished and needs the threads cut etc.)


The outer knit and inner velour came from my fabric stash, but if I'd had to buy new fabrics this would have cost £12.55 to make! That's not including the threads and elastics. I've always liked to sew things because I could make them cheaper than buying them, and yes, £12.55 is cheaper than it would cost to buy one. Hybrid fitted nappies cost around £24 on Etsy and most of them are US based, so you've got a minimum of £10 postage, making it £34 (you'd also probably be hit with customs when it came into the the country). So yeah, big saving on that, but I don't think I could justify making  nappies for my own babies that cost nearly £13. Maybe I'm just cheap?! I have one more that I just need to make the soaker for. I'm not sure if I should make more. I suppose I'll just have to wait and see if they sell. It's difficult to decide on a price that people would be willing to pay, but will also allow you to make money.

Things seem more positive this week though. E has been offered a place at college, doing some kind of theatre design course. They teach you to sew and you make costumes for the end of year show that the drama students put on. It's a pretty low level NC type course (I don't know if they're still called that!) but it'll allow her to get into an HNC/HND course later. She's mainly interested in special effects makeup though. That and animation. S is also considering going to college, doing a course that starts in January. You don't need any qualifications to get on it. It's a kind of stepping stone to work and apprenticeships. I was worried about how he'd do in exams. I imagine he'd have been diagnosed with dyslexia if he'd been in school. I was wondering if we'd have to jump through hoops and pay a lot of money for some kind of diagnosis so he could get some extra help/support to sit exams. If he gets on this course he'll be able to skip exams. It's very outdoors based too, which would suit him, with animal care, horse care, horticulture, countryside management and that sort of stuff. It really doesn't seem like that long ago that those two were still in nappies and I was cutting patterns out of old newspapers and making hideous creations out of old towels. Someone once told me that with children, the days are long but the years are short. That seems so true!

Tuesday, 5 June 2018

More new stock

Things have been very busy here lately. E passed her driving test! We bought a new car (well, an old car, but new to us) and M started a job doing nightshift. The boys have all had man flu. I have done some sewing though. Mainly just finishing off the things I've started. I've had to remove all the Rocket Bottoms nappies from my shop because a customer who bought some contacted me to say that they were all leaking. Eek! I need to figure out what's wrong with them. It could be the design, or it could be the fabrics. Or maybe it's something I did wrong. I must have sewn around 200 nappies in my time, so I'd like to think I wouldn't have made some kind of stupid mistake. I'm sending one to someone else to check out and see if it leaks for her. I'm remaking the customer's order using the Opulent Monsters pattern, which is wider through the crotch so should work better with the inserts she has. Hopefully I'll be able to salvage the Rocket Bottoms nappies I've made.

So yeah, that's not an ideal start. The worst thing about this is that certain people in my life have been unsupportive about me starting up a business so now they can say I told you so. The lack of support and the fact so many things are going wrong has made me want to quit.

These are the latest items I finished. Since I ran out of white PUL I've been embroidering on coloured PUL and I don't like the way it looks as much. I think maybe plain one colour designs, like the one I did on the navy PUL might be best.

The colours here were purple, lilac and magenta. For some reason they look more blue and red. It must be the pink background.


Same design again but in white only. I think it looks better in real life than in the photo.


A rainbow medallion for your hippy baby!


The last of the white PUL. This didn't turn out as good as I planned. The yellow needed to be darker.


I like the way this one looks. The feathers might be nice in pastels on a pale pink or lavender too. It is actually a heart shape but you can't really see that very well. I still think it looks good though. It might also be nice all in one colour, like white, on a dark background.


Here's a bunch of them. A few of them have athletic wicking fabric for inners. It's a new fabric I haven't used before and it wasn't quite as bad as I thought to work with. It was slippery but not terribly stretchy.


Since the leaky nappies, I'm not sure I want to continue making pockets. I thought maybe I'd try making fitted nappies instead. They do need a lot more materials, expensive ones too but people put covers over them, so there's not the same leak factor. I've had the Rocket Bottoms one-size fitted pattern for absolutely ages but never used it. I seem to have a bad habit of buying patterns and not using them... I think I mostly made sized nappies for my babies. One size wasn't really a big thing like it is now. Motherease was about the only one size nappy around, but even then you had to buy sized covers to go over them.

I made this nappy up to see how I liked the pattern. It has knit on the outside and velour on the inside. There's a layer of Windpro sandwiched in between, making it a hybrid fitted nappy. Apparently you can use them without a cover for a while. I'm not sure how well that would work though. Considering it's turned and topstitched there will be absorbent outer fabric on the inside, which will surely cause wicking around the seams? But I think it'll be a good nappy for night time with a cover over it. The Windpro will be like an extra water resistant barrier. It is lovely and squishy and I keep petting it and looking at it. Maybe I should say it WAS lovely and squishy...


Disaster struck. I put studs on the wing by accident where it should be sockets. That's not really a big deal, all you need to do is remove the snap and replace it with the right one. Removing snaps is pretty hard though because they're not meant to come off. M usually takes them off for me with a pair of nail clippers. Because he's been working nightshift he hasn't been around, so I thought I'd give it a go myself. As you can see I managed to nibble the stud part down a bit, but couldn't do much else. Then I saw a video on youtube. It said if you put the snap side ways in your press with the socket die in place and press down, it'll split the snap in half. They demonstrated it on a thin piece of fleece so I wondered how it would work on something thicker (spoiler alert: it doesn't). I put the nappy in my press as instructed but the whole thing slipped out. It looked as if it might have damaged the fabric slightly, which was probably a hint for me to give up, but I thought I'd give it one more go. I ended up with the die cutting a die shape into my fabric, so now there's a hole in my nappy! What am I supposed to do now?! It really sucks because the windpro was an expensive fabric. I know I only just started this, but maybe I really should give up and go back to writing? I could just sew things for my family instead, or as gifts for friends like I used to do. At least there wouldn't be so much pressure for everything to be absolutely perfect.


Monday, 21 May 2018

I love this!

Yesterday I had a terrible day with my embroidery machine. I embroidered an adorable little cat, but the fabric seemed to end up puckered. I think it was because it was a spaced out design and every time the thread jumped to a new section it pulled the fabric tight. The eyes had so many different colours layered over the top of each other that the fabric became solid and the thread kept breaking. At least the needle didn't break. Oh, I started off by embroidering it upside down and ended up unpicking around 1,000 stitches. I'll probably sew up the nappy and then give it away. After that I thought I'd try doing the 'wild' design again in more boy-ish colours. I managed to get it the right way up but I don't like the colours I picked. Sigh!

I did make this though and I love the way it turned out. I think it had around 21,000 stitches and it took about an hour and a half to stitch out. But I think it was worth it. Okay, moths aren't exactly the first thing you think about when you think baby items/nappies, but it's for baby goths.







Now I'm out of white PUL. Because the designs I have are light stitching designs (I think they're better for nappies to keep the fabric flexible) the back ground shows a lot, so I think they look best on white. I'd like to use up the fabric I have here before I buy too much new stuff, so I'll have to have a think about what other colours could work well with my designs. I think the feathers might look nice on any background and I have a couple of designs that would look good on black. I only have a small amount of black though. I haven't been able to find a UK source for black PUL yet either.

I've just spent what feels like hours photographing and then editing photos of some of the main batch of nappies I made. I'm going to upload them now. Maybe! I like making things (mostly!) but I don't like the photography and uploading part. No one'll be able to buy anything if I don't though. Maybe I should find some podcasts or audio books to listen to while I'm doing it so I can feel more productive.