Friday, January 27, 2012

Make Life Beautiful

This month our focus has been on New Life - New Beginnings and I was very fortunate to interview Nin from The Wardrobe & Sailor Spy. Armed with some fresh  chocolate chip cookies straight out of my oven and a gift of fabric, I eagerly went to find out more about this talented seamstress.

Nin was effected by the earthquakes in a huge way - She had only just moved into her new workshop in the city centre prior to one of New Zealand's biggest disasters. The building was destroyed and everything she needed to run her business was stuck inside, including her sewing machines, patterns & fabrics -  just stop and ponder on that for a minute!

Over a cuppa we had a great conversation about starting over and we looked at the key factors to making any business a success, and one which you can apply day to day.

So how do you pick yourself up after a huge traumatic and emotional event such as the Earthquakes?
You take care of your family first. Nin's first thoughts were for her husband and daughter, as well as her grandmother and other family members that ended up staying with her after the February earthquake.  After making sure they were safe and had been sent to various locations outside of Canterbury, it gave her the mental space to think.

Her husband was heavily involved in the evacuation center so the phone was ringing non-stop day and night.  Nin became quite angry that the "Earthquake" had taken away everything she had worked really hard to achieve. So she did the next best thing in the situation She asked for help.

Nin's studio is now @home and is incorporated into every available spare space.  She is the organisation queen and she has made her home look fabulous! The spare kitchen cupboards are now neatly packed with fabrics, the packaging materials are under the bed and the living room holds her cutting table and sewing machine. It was a treat to be able to photograph all of who she is in one creative space!

Venturing out on your own
Working for a company or individual and crafting on the side whilst necessary for many does not fulfill everyone's creative void and can leave you feeling very unhappy.  These are Nin's top tips to address some of the fundamentals of running your own business:

Start with the end in mind - have a vision about what your business is going to look like, because when times get tough this might be the only thing you can hold onto

Be realistic - If you can't commit at least 15 hours a week to your business, it is in most cases not worth it. You also need to devote time to enable it to grow

Ask for help - Find a laywer, accountant or extra help to do things that get in the way of your creativity - it is money well spent

Find a business coach - Nin used Carol Neilson and her advice was invaluable. Even investing an hour or two with someone like this can make a massive impact on your business and how you run it.

How do you balance life as a wifemother entrepreneur?

Something we would all would love to know! Nin whipped out this fabulous diary (I was so taken by it, that I have now purchased my very own copy!). It is a daily planner which splits your day into Work/Businness, Family/Community and Personal commitments. 

So get organised! Have a simple system that works for you and stick with it!

Nin has a new years resolution: "To plan the next day at the end of the current day, then write down all the things you did achieve that day, including playing with the kids, making dinner. Be realistic, as woman as we are often too hard on ourselves, even if you don't have a huge stack of completed wallets, you still have achieved much during the day"

How do you get your name out there?

A friend of Nin's just returned from Europe and visited a number of markets while on her travels and has since remarked that New Zealand Craft Markets have an incredible standard that is hard to match!

So make some products, give them away, give them to family & friends then go to markets!

You have to have the vision and self belief to stand behind your products in public.

Get presence online. Open a shop on Felt - but don't leave it there, market yourself through social media such as Facebook, Blogging, etc!

What about pricing? There are many strategies for pricing, (Take a look at The Small Business Book for some great ideas)

Nin also likes to use a basic formula, which is: 
Cost of Materials (including packaging, labels etc)
Cost of Time (time to make, package, promote & post)
Cost of Overheads (power costs, phone bills, roughly 10% of the above two costs)
Multiply by 2 to get your Sales price - Try it at a market and you may be surprised!

So if your year is not already overflowing with New Years resolutions , take some of what Nin has shared to heart, get organised, get crafting and hold onto that vision even through the tough times!

We would love to hear your feedback on our first interview, leave a comment below or email us.

 If you would like to feature in one of our monthly interviews, email me at

Nin's work can be found here:
The Wardrobe
Sailor Spy

              Nin's favorite current prints from Sew Pretty?

Friday, January 13, 2012

New Beginings

There is something great about January, everyone seems to be sorting; cleaning and making room for new projects and ideas. The sun is out, it's holiday's and somehow you seem to have extra time to do things that you have been meaning to get to, or know you won't once February kicks in!

Two dear friends of ours had a gorgeous baby boy just after Christmas so it was perfect timing to make something special for him. I did at first go searching in the shops for little wee outfits but to be honest I was greatly disappointed and secondly shocked that one teeny weeny item of clothing cost's minimum of $15 (and that was at an outlet store!) which will last all of a couple of weeks.

So into the most inspiring room in our house, the Sew Pretty room, I was really drawn towards the warm orange, brown and greens and Mod Todd seemed to be the perfect match. I needed to make something quick and simple yet luxurious as it was a special gift so I opted for a quick baby's quilt using the full set of pre selected colours & designs in the set and matched it with oh so soft white minky fabric.


  • Set of matching fabrics (6 Fat quarters works well for this size)
  • 4 pieces of minky fabric
  • Matching thread

Step 1
Out of 6 Fat Quarters cut out 36 6"x 6" squares (15cm x 15cm) You will have quite a bit left over perfect for matching items!

Step 2
Lay them out in any way you like, I prefer the ocd approach ;)

If you want to try keep the order of your quilt fold over matching sets of squares to sew together

Step 3
Sew the two squares together and iron open your seam. (This may seem like a waste of time but it makes a big difference to your finished result keeping everything neat) I keep the ironing board next to me while I am sewing so it is quicker.

Step 4
Place those squares back into your patchwork picture and continue to sew the squares together until you are left with 6 completed strips.

Step 5
Now sew these 6 stripes together, once again pressing open the seams as you go.

Step 6
I decided to use 4 minky squares which I sewed together to form a square. This is the cheapest option instead of purchasing an entire metre. (Remember this is replacing a wadding & backing fabric so take this into consideration when looking at the cost) If you have not used minky before it is much easier to use with a walking foot (which pulls the fabric at the top and bottom at the same time instead of just the bottom feed dogs working) but you could give it a go without it.

Step 7
Place your completed top patchwork over the minky leaving equal large gaps to allow for stretch. Then pin it together. Sew the first top side then unpin and readjust to allow for movement,  continue this until you are on the last side and then leave a gap for turning. Cut off any excess minky before turning it out.

Step 8
And there you have it one gorgeous baby blanket soft & thick and cuddly! Sew around the edges and in between the joins on a few corners to secure it. You can also tie your quilt using crochet cotton. (gotta find a better video than that, but it does quickly show you how to do it!)

Bundle it up and it is ready to go! Now I better get this posted ASAP!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Woodland - Cinderberry Stitches

So this blog post is happening while I make the dinner, that is how eager I am to share this new fabric line with you!

And how cute are these wee mushrooms? Natalie Lymer seems to ooze out all these fabulous cute ideas and they are found all over her blog Cinderberry Stitches

This fabric range is printed by Lecien, Japan, so once again of the highest quality and oozing with fun vibrant colours.

The prints are a really good size too, lots of detail and small enough for buttons and smaller craft projects, so if you have been waiting for that Japanese style fabric for your crafting then look no further.

Available in our shop here

Check out these great images from Natalies blog

Purchase Woodland here: