From memory the email read: “This is your year to shine”…..I think the author was 100% correct, what an amazing year this has been!
Yesterday words were eluding me but now I hope they just tumble out….and if they don’t please excuse me for using my (snail mail/email) end of Year Newsletter as a starting point…….
“Hi” okay I (Janette) admit it I was ‘slack’ last year and did not write an end of Year Newsletter. I just didn’t have it in me. First time since 1988 that I have not written one. “Why?” you may ask. Well the main reason is that I had been so busy writing other ‘words’ that I simply didn’t wish to write any more! I’ll explain a bit better now……
You see mid last year (seeing as my eldest daughter had set up an account for me) I decided I may as well get around to learning how to use Facebook. Rather than learn it from a personal social media point of view I wanted to see how I could use if for my long term interest in designing soft toys. I didn’t ‘add’ many of you [real world friends] as Friends for that reason….at first I found it all very isolating & I felt more disconnected than connected (few people to interact with) then one day Groups came on the scene! So I searched for Sewing groups. Specifically I was looking for a group related to Soft Toy making. I asked in a big PDF group if anyone knew of one and the owner of a group responded saying that she had started one for ‘softie designers’…. That was just the beginning of an amazing journey for me. With the help of other designers in the Group I started my own Facebook Page (13 November 2013) using a separate Facebook account (1 also in my name where I began to collect Online Sewing friends) all of this was done without my kids knowing. I wanted to do it myself without the useful suggestions of ‘you should do it this way Mum’… so I could create my own (even if somewhat ‘dated’ in their eyes) style – something that was what “I” was comfortable with.
In another group I met the founder & she spurred me into action to attempt my very 1st Sewing Pattern PDF. I finished my first draft (for ‘her’ use – modified pattern) just before Christmas 2013 & I was so exhausted I did not want to write another word! That’s ‘why’ no newsletter.
This year 2014 has been a full year too! Soooo….keep reading to see ‘how’ a ‘bunch‘ of hopes and dreams ‘ripened‘ to maturity and produced the ‘fruit‘ of joyful achievement and small scale success!
At the end of March I listed my Hobby Horse Sewing Pattern PDF on Etsy.com (still without the kids knowing).
A bit later on [May] when I made the 1st Birthday Gift Horse for my youngest (of 3) Granddaughters the secret could be kept no longer!
I confessed my ‘secret’ activities in several Facebook groups which resulted in many people showing their encouragement (‘help make her kids proud of their Mom’) by visiting my Facebook page & clicking “Like” to boost the number of followers on my page from less than 50 to over 100. BTW thanks to those who still follow & support me with encouraging feedback! It was a huge secret that I had kept from my kids….Not only did I have a PDF Pattern & Facebook Page I had a Blog!
In September another Birthday Gift Horse was sewn this time for my eldest Granddaughter. I had hoped to have time to write a PDF Tutorial explaining how the Neckband & Bridle were constructed but I simply did not have time this year!
Maybe that had something to do with the fact that I had been working on designs for Cut n Sew Fabric that I had printed by Spoonflower.com I worked on 3 designs (one of which is still yet to be ‘revealed’). I was very happy with the way they printed out. The Faux Suede is lovely and sure to be my favourite medium.
November was by far the most hectic month. As a member of another FB Group I participated in an “Aspiring Designer” Challenge the aim of which was to help new designers get the exposure that would help them get to the stage where they can promote themselves in the big PDF groups on Facebook.
FYI: According to the big PDF Group rules a person must have 2 PDF patterns available on Etsy & 10 positive Reviews (as left by satisfied customers).
So never being known to do things the easy way instead of just creating one PDF I did 3 individual Fish toys (3 PDFs) & a set of 3 (1 more PDF) bringing my total number of PDFs available online via Craftsy, Etsy & DIY Crush to five!!
Finger Pocket Fish 1 “This Little Fishy” Sewing Pattern PDF Etsy = $5
Finger Pocket Fish 2 “That Little Fishy” Sewing Pattern PDF Etsy = $5
Finger Pocket Fish 3 “Another Little Fishy” Sewing Pattern PDF Etsy = $5
Finger Pocket Fish “Net All Three” Sewing Pattern PDF Etsy = $12
The first half of November was consumed by ‘all things sewing related.’ Part of the challenge was to have others ‘test’ the PDF pattern, give feedback & help improve it – then the ‘Testers’ would promote on [my] the designers behalf in the big PDF groups. I had a steep learning curve that involved creating my own group, learning how to create & use Google Forms, set up a Rafflecopter for a pattern giveaway, copy & paste html (that gobbledygook text that makes up Blog posts) for use on a mentors Blog and generally making sure that I had everything up to date & ready as far as my own Blog Post, images for Pinterest & my own Facebook Page were concerned. Phew!
Also during November I used the Bay Hobby Horse Cut n Sew Fabric design that was printed by Spoonflower for my middle Granddaughter’s Birthday Gift Horse.
Thankfully the fabric arrived in time for me to get it sewn during the ‘testing’ stage of the “Aspiring Designer” Challenge! November 14th was my allocated AD Challenge day and everything proceeded amazingly smoothly. I was even able to participate more than anticipated due to the fact I was awake at 3 am & unable to sleep!
Plus just to make sure every spare minute of the 13th & 14th of November was used to the ‘max’ I also listed the Bay & Chestnut Cut n Sew Hobby Horse Fabric designs as ‘available’ to the public on Spoonflower.com So much was happening at once & it was so much fun and thankfully I didn’t have one single “melt down” during the whole thing. I have finally found my niche – my ‘happy place’. 🙂 *
All Wrapped up:
I used so much of my allocated Internet quota during the first half of November (FYI we have 4000 MB Off Peak shared between 3 people) that I was restricted to only checking messages & emails for the rest of the month. I had to wait until December to actually be able to talk about what an amazing time I had had in November!
During December I sewed another Hobby Horse for a friend of my eldest daughter (as a birth/nursery gift). It is still a little bit of a secret so I can’t reveal her face only mention her name as being “Angel”.
In my ‘spare time’ I also worked on some more Cut n Sew designs for Hobby Horses. As yet I have not uploaded/printed them so that I can ‘test run’ the fabric (as required by Spoonflower) but I hope to do this some time in January.
FYI: From each yard of Faux Suede fabric it is possible to make 2 horses with different facial markings (e.g. Star, Snip, Blaze etc). Also the fabric can be used ‘as is’ with the eyes & nostrils printed on or the optional extra pieces can be used to create recessed/indented nostrils and eye sockets (Safety Eyes are needed for this option). The new designs I have created are Palomino (1 plain & 1 with Dapples), Buckskin (1 plain & 1 with Dapples), Grey (both with Dapples) and Black (both plain). Remember each yard of fabric has a choice of 10 different Head Gussets so there are plenty of options to choose from.
Banana Skins discarded:
This Year has been amazing…the ‘best’ one I can remember in a very, very long time! Finally I am sure about what I would like to do and achieve. Finally after not knowing the way ahead I could see a very bright future…in my mind’s eye I could ‘see’ the PDFs that I would create & sell online and the fabric that I could design. There have been days have felt so happy I was sure I would burst at the ‘seams’ or split my ‘banana skin’ (whichever is more applicable!)
But as with everything there is always something a little unpleasant to ‘deal’ with it is the ‘rubbish/trash’ that needs to be discarded or put to good use by way of recycling or composting.
I’d like to say I have the ‘rubbish/trash’ all ‘sorted’ & ready to be discarded but I don’t. I have some concerns about Next Year. Sometimes it is hard to be positive so I hope my confession of ‘concern’ is respected and accepted rather than criticised as being a return to my previous often ‘doom & gloom’ existence. There are real issues here to deal with!
Of most concern is the effect that the EU VAT is going to have not only on me but other Indie designers and PDF creators. What will become of the ‘bright future’ we could all see if Online Websites such as Etsy, Craftsy and others don’t help us to cope with the changes caused by the EU Value Added Tax? I have come too far to give up now! There must be a way to turn potentially useless ‘rubbish/trash’ into valuable ‘compost’ to fuel further creative endeavours!
To end on a positive note:
Thanks a ‘Bunch’ to everyone who has made this Year 2014 my absolute favourite year thus far. I am blessed to have made some amazing online friends and achieved/experienced/learned things I never thought I ever would. Even if all my hopes and dreams get crushed next year I will always be able to look back on 2104 as being ‘my’ year to ‘shine’!! 😀 *