Monday, 26 September 2011

A Milestone

I reached a milestone this week. I started this little business back in Easter this year, and placed an order for 2000 sew in Lootybag labels which I half expected would last me years.  They arrived in bags of 500.
I finished my first bag of labels this week. The 500th item I made was a blue camouflage drawstring party bag, perhaps not particularly significant as it is one of my normal range, and not a bespoke creation, but it was important to me. So I took some photos of its creation

Sewing in the drawstring.

Sewing in the precious 500th Lootybag label.

A whizz across the corners to make the flat base which makes the bags stand up and easy to fill.

Trim off the loose ends and tidy up the corners.

And voila, one very special blue camouflage drawstring party bag waiting to thrill the recipient, all from my ancient old Singer sewing machine.

Having finished that I sewed a few more to keep it company then had a wee celebration that evening.  One of those days when running your own new business is the best thing in the world.
It was then made a fabulous week when we found we had been nominated for the Good Web Guide Website of the Year award.  It would be lovely for our 2 fabulous web designers Kirsty Burgoine of and Nicola Brown of in-theshed if we could be shortlisted.  They were a delight to work with and if you think they did as good a job as we do please follow the link and vote for Lootybag.

Hello to all my friends at Handmade Monday.  Follow the link if you are interested in all things handmade and utterly gorgeous.

Monday, 19 September 2011

A week of inspiring women.

I started this week attending a networking meeting for ladies running businesses in Shropshire.  I was blown away by a roomful of women with so much zest for life, passion for what they do and so many ideas.  What was particularly heartening was a session where any girl with a business problem explained it to the room, who then openly and wholeheartedly offered advice, help, contacts etc. A "community" in the real sense.

In the middle of the week we finally got the cast of my seven year old daughters ankle, fracture now healed. She was so desperate to get out of the hospital, put a whole pair of shoes on and get straight back to school.  She was so excited that, even though she has a limp as her leg muscles are all wasted away, she does not have a huge plastic boot to drag around and might just have half a chance in a game of tig.  No taking it easy or feeling sorry for herself for her.

My final inspiring woman was a young lady I met at a community day at Ercol School and Technology College in Telford on Saturday.  A couple of 13 year old girls were studying my stall and the party bags I make very closely.  When I got chatting one was very shy and almost shot away in surprise when I said hello.  Her bolder friend then explained that she was doing textile design as a subject, which she loved and was trying to work out how I had made the base of my bags, as she wanted to copy it in the bags she was making from recycled clothing for her GCSE course.  I showed her how each style of bag was made and she was soon bubbling with enthusiasm and questions and obviously has a real love for fabrics and making things.  What really impressed me was her thirst for knowledge and learning, at a time when it would seem most people have written off our youngsters as rioting, looting hooligans.  My husband teased me that I was telling all my secrets to potential competition and I do hope so.  Perhaps a fashion designer of the future. I chatted later to her Mum who is justifiably very proud of her daughter and so kindly came over to thank me for my time.  I made very few sales on the day but meeting this young lady made it all worth while.

Monday, 12 September 2011

More bunting

Hello to all at Handmade Monday
The kids are back at school, my daughter still sporting her plastic cast on her broken ankle and milking it for all the attention and sympathy she can possible get.
It seems so very odd and quiet at home, but less of a challenge to get on with some work. Amazing how quickly you get used to bedlam!

I had a lady talk to me recently about a bespoke order for pirate bunting.  As I have some pretty menacing skull and cross bone fabric for party bags I set to making bunting with it.  I am really pleased with the results.  I have loaded it to my website here for you to have a look.  I think it would be great for pirate parties, boys bedrooms or dens and as a Halloween decoration too. Certainly the young boys in my family are all keen for me to make them some.

Also done some work on pre-filled party bags and gift sets, as we are being asked more and more to supply these.  Our dinosaur set is proving very popular.  Having some difficulty sourcing the range of party bag toys I want that are eco-friendly and ethically produced but do not cost a fortune.  If you have any ideas they would be very welcome.  AND one of my current suppliers has decided to stop making wooden animal castanets - one of my biggest sellers.  I can see a week glued to the internet trawling through wholesalers, not really my idea of a good time - prefer to be glued to the sewing machine.

Talking of sewing machines I produce all my stuff on a 22 year old basic Singer I got as a 21st birthday pressie.  It is a trusty machine that I have used just about every day I have had it without trouble.  I have dragged it around the world and it has resided with me in 38 different houses across the globe, including 4 years on a ship sailing the high seas.  It started playing up a bit this week and I thought perhaps it was beginning to age.  Then I realised I had not done any maintenance for a very long time.  I removed the bottom cover and the amount of fluff stuffed in around the spool carrier was unbelievable.  Half an hour with a pair of tweezers, and a good oiling later and it is as good as new.  My engineer hubby has now put regular maintenance checks on the calendar to remind me to give it the TLC it deserves. Looking forward to the next 22 years together. Wonder what we will make?

Monday, 5 September 2011

Our seaside "trip" and a busy week of party bag making

Well our weekend by the sea did not go quite as planned, and it was not just the awful weather spoiling the party.  On the first evening at our campsite we headed to the kids club mini disco.  Lots of fun was being had until our daughter tripped over whilst whirling around.  Several doctors, A&E departments and X rays later she is now sporting a huge plastic "moon boot" cast on her leg and a lime green walking frame.  Still, at least it saves us from having to join the queues in Clarks for new school shoes. Hopefully it will be quiet and they will have restocked by the time we can go for a fitting.
I wrote a couple of weeks ago about a wedding favour bespoke order I had received which excited me as I thought it was so original and witty. I can now share the details.   Camouflage drawstring bags are always popular with boys, either as party bags or in larger sizes as shoe bags or PE bags, however I was intrigued when a lady contacted me to ask if I could make quite tiny camouflage drawstring bags.  I of course said yes and discovered she was planning her wedding.  She, her hubby-to-be and many of their friends are keen on fishing, involving lots of camo clothing and kit.  She commissioned me to make little camouflage favour bags to be filled with foil covered chocolate fish!  I imagine they will cause much amusement and I am assured they will be useful afterwards for storing line weights and other little bits vital for fishermen (is it obvious I know nothing about fishing? I have to admit I do not think I have ever picked up a fishing rod.)
My daughter keeps popping into the spare room where I work and was very unimpressed with all the camouflage fabric - "boring boy stuff" apparently. She much prefers when I have pretty projects on the go. No sooner had I finished this order when another large order for party bags popped up from my website, so she was soon much happier playing with offcuts of pretty, girly fabrics.
At the recent Minsterley Show I discussed PE bags with many parents of children about to start school or nursery.  This resulted on me taking some bespoke orders for smaller drawstring backpacks, as the standard size I make is a little too big for under fives.  I have now added this smaller size to our rucksack/backpack category on the website.  They are robustly made from machine washable cotton print with waterproof lining so perfect for the rigours of everyday life.  The photo shows the red cars print small backpack which has been popular with boys and I will soon add some girly prints to the range too.

To celebrate the forthcoming peace and quiet as the kids go back to school we are offering a free gft with your first order placed throughout Sept and Oct.  If you are particularly organised many of our eco-friendly party bag fillers are perfect as stocking fillers too.