Monday, October 31, 2011

Adding a little excitement!

Last night in a conversation with my mum
 ( after a wonderful family day, when we all climbed a nearby mountain )
I had a 'light-bulb' moment.
I realised I need to inject some 'excitement' into what I'm doing.

I'm enjoying the sewing and blogging that I'm doing but is it exciting? Is it something that ignites a passion in me and creates a momentum that allows my projects to grow and develop to their full potential?

What do I mean by excitement?

Well the examples from other areas of my life and my past that come to mind for me are these three things.

1. When watching an AFL match (Aussie rules football) - and I'm sure this relates to any sport.  When one team starts to score goals - they often get 'on a roll' so to speak - their confidence builds and it seems to bring out the best in all the players.  The more they score - the better the team starts to play - as the excitement builds in the stadium I think the fans contribute to this feeling that drives on the team that is winning to play even better.

2. When I was younger, I used to do gymnastics.   I remember one particular evening at our club - it was the end of our session, but one girl just managed to master a move that she'd been practicing for a while.  The parents had all arrived to collect their children - and the atmosphere became excited as everyone congratulated her.  As this was happening - a few of us other girls - tried our moves another time - and several of us had breakthroughs there and then in suddenly being able to do moves we'd struggled with for sometime!  I remember the feeling of excitment from that evening - and I do believe it contributed to driving everyone to believe in themselves and do their best.

3.  One of my favourite books is Michael Crichton's "Travels".  It's a collection of short tales of experiences he had in his life and what he learned from them.
One of these tells of him attending a 'spoon bending party'.  He describes around a hundred people all in one room - bending spoons, and forks - with an excited party atmosphere.  No tricks - just everyone having fun! Sounds crazy?  Maybe - but an interesting idea of what can be achieved with focussed inattention and energy!

So how does any of this relate to my blog and sewing?
Well I do enjoy what I'm doing - but currently I'm not feeling the passion.  I need to get that back.  Think more about the whys and have a bit more fun with things.  The upcycling side of things - is something that I do get passionate about, so it's good I'm getting back into more of that!

As I mentioned in my November goals post - I've planned my posts for the next couple of months already - so now it's time to inject something else into them! 

I love making activities fun for my girls - turning chores and homework into a kind of game!  Time I did it for myself!  If I can grab that passion and excitment - imagine what I can achieve!!!
There - I've put it out there - so I have to do this now - Best get my thinking cap on as to how to add some excitement.......

Do you manage to add excitement to your daily life?

Are you passionate about what you do? And do you think that those who are - manage to achieve more than those who aren't?

Whimsy Couture - last weeks most voted Round Tuit link

Last week's most voted link came from the wonderful

The link was for a free pattern to
She does have really beautiful patterns available on her site - many, like this one very generously provided for free

Then in her shop she has even more fabulous patterns you can buy, take a look at these:

Now if you haven't visited today's Round Tuit post - then please do - because I'm hosting a giveaway of 2 of Whimsy Couture's patterns!

So come and link up your projects - and enter this giveaway too!

I'm sure you could find some great patterns to use to either make up some Christmas gifts - or perhaps give the pattern as a gift!

Click here to go to this weeks' Round Tuit party and giveaway!

A Round Tuit (73)

Tuits are very hard to come by, especially the round ones. For years people have been saying, "I'll do it as soon as I get a round tuit". Well now you can have one of your very own, and all those jobs that have needed doing will finally get done!

Here's my favourites from last week's party:
First of all, this chevron rag quilt from Ricochet and Away:

I love that she's found a great boyish quilt to make - and that little bit different!
Rikka has a fabulous blog - it's one of my favourites and she makes the most amazing bags!
Do go take a look:

There's heaps more crafts, recipes and ideas at this lovely blog - so do take a look:

Finally, these cute Bongo Bangles from Felt by Rae:
She's also raising money for the MND society by selling these! Great cause!
For more lovely ideas - visit her blog at:

Also - come back later today to see the full post feature of the blog with the most voted link from last week's party!

For those featured, feel free to grab a 'featured on' button from my buttons page.


Now it's your turn:

Link up your own projects - old or new - no rules - just share your creativity and inspiration!

I'd love if you grabbed the button - then you can have your very own Round Tuit!

And of course we all love visitors and comments so do visit some of the other links!

By linking up here you're giving me permission to use photos from your post in features here on my blog.
I will feature my favourites on facebook during the week, and also on this post next week.

PLUS, the most voted link wins a full post feature/promotion next week, so remember to come back on Wednesday to vote for your link - and get your friends to vote too!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

November goals

On one of the Anthony Robbins CDs I have he says that

 "Most people vastly over-estimate what they can achieve in a year -
but vastly under-estimate what they can achieve in a decade."

I do have a tendency to set my goals high - particuarly in the short term.  Goodness me - you should see my 'to-do' lists for a Monday - they are HUGE and always spill over into the rest of the week!

But it doesn't generally make me feel bad or disillusioned! It's just the way I do things.
 But is it right?  Shouldn't I try to set more achieveable goals if I'm always falling short?

I've done lots of thinking these past few weeks - after realising that  I'm only going to achieve half of my October goals!

For those of you interested which ones - I have finally reached the $150 mark on my Google ads and so that should mean my first cheque!! Whoo hooo!!!

Plus - I have some lovely sponsors for my blog now - so this month, the thing that I'm working on for hours each day - has finally brought me a little money! Yippee!   Now I have to work hard for my sponsors to make sure they get value for their money and want to renew!

Anyway - my page views aren't growing.  I tried posting more often, but that made no difference. Why? Well I didn't think that through properly.  Most of my traffic comes for my tutorials - so to increase by simple number of posts - it would need to be more tutorials - and they take too much time for me to be able to put out more. So that didn't work! Lesson learned!

Never one to give up - I've been plotting and planning some more.  I decided that I need even more detailed a plan for my blog than usual. Or rather detailed in a different and hopefully more productive way.

Challenges seem to work best for me in terms of keeping me motivated.  It gives me a focus for the month too.

So for November I'm joining in the ....

Plus getting started on the many Christmas crafting ideas I want to try out this year.

Then in December I'm teaming up with some lovely other bloggers for a Christmas handmade special!

I've actually already got my posts planned out day by day through the next couple of months - and I'm excited about all the projects I've got planned!

In terms of my blog growth - I'm still learning - but have found it hard to plan 'what' to learn as it's more of a discover as I go along and explore things that come up.  So for now - no specific goals for that other than to make the most of and explore every opportunity that comes up.

This weekend is very busy - but I needed to get this down - and the finer details will be sorted on Monday when I get the house to myself and have time to think clearly!

Hope you're all having a great weekend!

Happy halloween celebrating!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

A new clothes upcycling project started!

I feel like I haven't done a decent clothes upcycling project in a while - and the new fantastic ideas being added all the time to my clothes upcycling page are inspiring me! We've almost reached 160 links - so many great ideas - and I know there are more out there so keep on linking them up!

Anyway - my new project is a Christmas one!
These are the clothes I'm going to use:

But I've only just started...

I'll post what I make in a few days - watch this space!!

Hope everyone is having a wonderful creative weekend!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Halloween Treat Bag - Guest Post Tutorial from Melissa at Sew Bitter Sweet Designs

Hello! My name is Melissa and I blog at Sew BitterSweet Designs. Until the past year I have never been a Halloween person, having my daughter changed all that! I never really enjoyed dressing up or any of that, but dressing up Anne, now that is fun!

Here is a picture of the two of us, isn't she adorable! When Jill asked for guest posts, I thought since I am posting 3 days before Halloween, it would be fun to make a trick or treat bag for Anne. My mom made one for me when I was little and I used it until I was too old to go out. I took Anne to the fabric store and in the end, here is what we came up with...

We ended up with a black fabric that glows in the dark and an orange fabric that has spooky cats on it (did I mention that she isn't quite 2 yet!).

You will need:
2 fat quarters
Coordinating Thread
Cording - 1 yard is plenty - I bought a 3 yd spool
Ruler or measuring tape

(there are silver ends pictured, but I didn't use them - the cording was too thick!)

PS. I love picture tutorials! I am a visual learner :)
Using ruler or tape measure, fold 3/4" of fabric down, pin and press (do this on the short side of fabric).
On one panel - make 2 buttonholes (follow directions for your machine)
Next, pin both panels right sides together. The folded edge you will leave open. Sew with 1/4" Seam around 3 sides - trim corners.

Anne was tickled pink with her new bag!

I would love it if you stopped by and visited my blog! I have regular giveaways and do tutorials at least once a week! Have a happy and safe Halloween!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

My not very creative space!

A few years ago we bought a day bed to put on our patio outside. Living up here in the tropics, a lot of time is spent outdoors - so this piece of furniture has been very well used!
However - the covers are all getting quite ragged and very faded - after several years exposed to the elements!

So in my wisdom - and true style of upcycling - I thought I'd make use of a pile of old curtain swags a friend gave me - and whip up some new covers. Cost $0

Unfortunately satisfaction  also 0!!

YEUK!! I just don't like it! 

And honestly I think the old ratty faded version was better!

Not that any of these photos are very inspirational!
I need some colour!

Don't we all have failed projects though?
Now this one will just become a challenge - and at least I 've got some good daggy, dull and colourless 'before' shots

For something a lot more colourful and creative - head on over to Our Creative Spaces!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Creating Success around the World - Dyani from Little Deer Creations

Welcome to

Creating Success around the World
The worldwide blog hop tour, that introduces you to creative people from all corners of the globe.

Creating my way to Sucess

Every Wednesday our hosts on each continent will introduce you to someone new whose creativity is inspiring!
 We hope you enjoy taking this worldwide creative tour with us - and feel free to add your own blog or website to the link party at the end -so others can find you and you can make some new creative friends from around the world!
Today's guest is Dyani from Little Deer Creations, based in
Ipswich, Queensland - Australia


G'day everyone!  My name is Dyani and I am the proud owner of Little Deer Creations, a small Aussie business that specialises in unique handmade & eco-friendly paper products. At least that's who I am now.  This time last year, I was a stressed-out Anaesthetics Registrar, slogging my guts out doing shift work, long hours on call, studying for exams and struggling to retain my sanity in a career I just wasn't suited to at all, and desperately wanted to quit.  Eight months ago, after a lot of soul-searching, I did just that, and now I'm an unemployed self-employed artisan determined to be true to myself and live a simpler, happier, more fulfilling life.

I'm honoured to be featured in this blog, and hope you find some of my story interesting.  If you want to learn more about me and what I do, or to see more of my products, please visit my website:  or check out my blog: Little Deer in the Doghouse

What do you create?

I have dabbled in many different crafts, but papercraft is my true passion, and this is what I focus on with Little Deer Creations.

I make eco-friendly stationery items, such as writing sets, journals, notepaper cubes, greeting cards, gift cards and tags, bookmarks and other decorative items.  All my products are handmade using recycled or second-hand materials. All my cards are designed to be reusable, so they don't have to end up as landfill.

I make a lot of my own paper using traditional hand-mould techniques, from junk mail, office waste and other scraps, and I also use other papers that have been ethically and sustainably produced.

I never use new forest-milled paper, nor do I buy so-called "recycled" paper from companies that continue to destroy and pollute the environment to produce their other products.

I love rummaging in op-shops and places like Reverse Garbage for interesting bits and bobs I can use, and have even found great uses for the inside lining of our frozen vegetable packs, and other things most people would simply throw away.

 Why do you create?
This is a hard to question to answer.

I have always been creative, and ever since I was a toddler, I have been making things.  My finger-painting sessions were legendary!

I love playing with colours and textures, and I get a great sense of satisfaction out of designing and creating something from scratch.

I guess I create because it is who am.
In past years, as my studies and career took up more and more of my time and energy, I had less opportunity to satisfy that creative desire, and it was horrible. Since ditching my professional life for a creative one, I am starting to feel whole again.  It probably sounds crazy, but that's how it feels to me.

Do you sell your creations? If so, how, where, and is it profitable?

I currently sell my work at market stalls and online.  I have an online store on my own website and I also sell items on Madeit.  So far, I have only had a handful of online sales.  Most of my sales have been from my market stall.  I attend a market every Sunday, and also try to squeeze in a few other markets when I can.  I love the interaction you get with customers at a market, and, particularly with my products, I find it helps if people can see and feel your work up close.

I can hardly say it is profitable - some days I barely make enough to cover the cost of my stall, and I wonder why it is I'm doing this, but I have only been selling at markets a few months, and it seems as though things are starting to pick up, so I remain hopeful!

What mistakes have you made, or what lessons have you learned?

Too many to count!  This whole process has been a steep learning curve for me, and I still haven't reached the top of it!  For me, it's a matter of constantly trying new things to see what works and what doesn't. I have no previous training in business management, accounting, IT, marketing or advertising, yet as a sole trader, I am taking on all of those roles.  I tried to read as much as I could, talk to other sellers beforehand, to help me prepare, but it wasn't really sufficient.

Starting a business, and getting it established, especially in this field, in this economic climate, is hard work.  A lot of hard work.  There are so many little things that need to be sorted out, which I hadn't even considered when I first started on this journey, and it has taken me much longer than I expected to even come this far.

You can't rely on word-of-mouth alone, unless unlike me, you have a thousand friends who are willing to sing your praises!  You have to work on actively promoting your business, through various means.  In addition to my website, I also have a blog, and a Facebook page, and am now learning how to use Twitter.  In doing so, I am starting to increase my exposure, and become more widely known, but there is still a long way to go before I'm a household name! LOL!  I'm now looking into more formal advertising and promotion (albeit on a small scale!)

I have also come to realise how important it is to have a recognisable brand, logo, or business ethos, and I am glad that I spent some time working on this before launching into the business of selling stuff.

It gives me a solid foundation, and acts as my guide.  I can make all kinds of different products, but the ideals and core beliefs behind them will stay the same.

What, to you, is success?  Have you achieved it yet or are you on your way towards success?

I used to measure success in terms of financial security, or achievements such as passing another exam. But I have come to realise that it is much more than that.  To me, success is being able to live comfortably without compromising your values or who you really are.  It's about being truly content.

In terms of my craft, success would mean seeing Little Deer Creations grow into a more widely known, highly-respected business.  I'm a long way yet from making a living solely from my creations, but that is my dream.
It can be very challenging at times, being so passionate about the environment, and wanting to keep my business as eco-friendly and sustainable as possible.  It would be so much easier (and cheaper!) to go to the local craft store and buy an armful of patterned papers and fancy embellishments to use, or to have my business cards printed on glossy card at ridiculously cheap prices.  And it can feel so disheartening when the market stall across from me does a roaring trade selling the latest craze of cheap, unethically-produced, imported gadgets or toys that the customers all take away in oversized plastic bags.  But I am passionate about what I'm doing and determined to make a difference, even if it is a small one.

So what's next?

At the moment, I am busy stocking up for Christmas.  I have at least 2 markets each week for the rest of the year so have lots to do!  I have also just been approached about stocking some of my items in a new store opening at the end of this month, so will soon be expanding into retail outlets!  This was something I had been considering, but had not yet really pursued.  I'm a little nervous, but also excited about this next step, and hoping it will generate more sales.

I have big plans for Little Deer Creations next year, including some very different products, and other ventures but that's classified! You'll have to stay tuned for that!  I'll also have to start looking for more work in the new year (unless my business suddenly takes off!), so I'm sure I'll be busy!

WOW! I'm super impressed with Dyani - and so proud to be featuring her here! What a huge step to quit her career to focus on something she believes in and is passionate about.  Do please go and check out her blog and her gorgeous online shop.
If you're still not convinced - then how about going to check out her ELEPHANT DUNG PAPER!!! Now that's unique! and very interesting!!
Now that you've seen some of the talent Australia has to offer, why not take a trip around the World to discover other cultures and creative talents!

Here are the other hosts - Make sure you visit them all to see the inspiration and creative people
every corner of the world has to offer:
Europe - Yaga @ The Shiny Bubble
The Americas - Suzy @ Suzy's Artsy Craftsy Sitcom
Asia - Janelle @ Of Pinks and Fairy Tales

And don't forget to add your own link below!  It's all about meeting new friends worldwide!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Quilting and Patchwork

Last week I tried my hand at quilting for the first time when I made a small mug rug:

I really enjoyed making this - and it made me curious to learn a little about quilting - and patchwork. What is the difference? How did it start? And here's what I found.

According to Wikipedia,

Quilting is a sewing method done to join two or more layers of material together to make a thicker padded material
Patchwork or "pieced work" is a form of needlework that involves sewing together pieces of fabric into a larger design.

The earliest example of quilting was found more than 3000BC on a carved figure of an Egyptian Pharoah! 

Quilting and Patchwork were used through history mostly it seems for bed quilts - often made from old clothing - enabling people to re- use even worn items and very small scraps.

There was even lots of quilted armour - like a Gambeson.
Would you believe I even found a pattern/tutorial so you can quilt your own armour!  Amazing!

In later years - quilted clothing like the Doublet - became popular as mens clothing!

Personally - what interests me most about quilting and particularly patchwork is the 'recycling' aspect of it.  It seems like a fantastic way to use up scraps!
Of which I'm sure all of us who sew have LOTS! Bucketloads even!!

Or even another way of upcycling those old clothes!
Earlier this year I started trying to find ways to use up my scraps - and made this patchwork pincushion - or is it really a pet bed?

A patchwork pillow for Mickey:

And this cute patchwork fabric basket - using a tutorial from Pink Penguin:

I'd kind of forgotten about these until I made my mug rug last week - and it's revived my interest.
I'm definitely going to be trying out lots more patchwork and quilting - to try and use up my scraps and stash!

A great start is going to be a challenge I've signed up for during November
- the Solid's only Tote Challenge
One of the techniques you can use for this challenge is patchwork!
Do you want to join me in this challenge?
Do you have a large pile of scraps that would love to be transformed into a fabulous patchwork bag?
Head on over to Ricochet and Away for the details and to sign up for the challenge! It's going to be lots of fun!