Thursday, December 16, 2010

Gift Certificates

Well, if you're anything like me and leave your Christmas shopping right till the last minute and then realise that you haven't got nearly enough time to order something online and have it delivered by the 25th, a gift certificate might just save the day.

I've now added a range of gift certificates to the shop, which should help out.

You'll get a nice pdf gift certificate emailed to you, that you can either print out or forward to the recipient (handy if you live in another state or country!)

See my shop for more details!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

House & Garden!

If you were to go and buy House and Garden magazine today and turn to page 49.......... might find something a little familiar in the top right-hand corner....

YAY!!! How cool! One of my laptop sleeves made it onto the glossy pages of House & Garden - it's so exciting!!

They contacted me a while ago and asked for some photos for the January issue, but I didn't even realise it had been released until a friend called on Saturday because she'd stumbled on it as she was flicking through her H&G mag.

I can't stop looking at it!!

Thursday, November 25, 2010


Friends of ours have recently had a baby and my man decided that because the father is a Kiwi, he'd buy the new bub a Wallabies teddy, just for a bit of a dig. My man thought it would be nice to personalise it, and thought it would be nice to have the surname and year of birth embroidered on the back of the jersey. So off he went to a place that does custom embroidery thinking he'd get the jersey nicely embroidered.

What came back was the jersey with a dirty big emboidered patch sewn onto it, covering up half the back of the jersey.

Guess how much this simple little patch with no graphics cost my man?


What an absolute scam! My man no longer wants to talk about it, because he knows he got absolutely jibbed.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Operation: Secret birthday present

I recently became quite good friends with a guy, "T" (a friend of a friend of mine), who has come over to Melbourne from the UK to do a year of his engineering course abroad.

When T found out about the laptop cases I've been making, and that I have some screen-printing capabilities, he got quite excited. T's girlfriend back home had her birthday coming up and had recently bought herself a new 13" Macbook.

T asked me if I could help him make a really special personalised birthday present for her. Awwww! How could I refuse a request like that? So of course I said I would help, and we started on the collaboration.

T was to come up with the design to screenprint, as well as decide on the materials and colours. I just helped out with a few design and sewing logistics. He decided on pale blue cotton duck-cloth for the front, and hessian for the back. We also decided that the laptop would be held in place with a flap, secured by elastic.

So T came round one night after soccer, cut out the stencil and we printed the fabric pieces. I have to admit I was pretty impressed with how the design printed on the blue duck-cloth came out.

I took over the process from there, working out which interfacing to use to achieve the desired stiffness, and how to go about putting it all together.

I ended up using Vilene S520 on the blue side and 2 layers of Vilene S320 on the hessian side, with a layer of medium-thickness wadding on both sides as well. I was generally pretty happy with the level of rigidity I got with using the S520, but it did cause a few problems with trying to get it nice and flat after it getting all crushed up in the 'turn it inside out and back again' process when the lining was sewn in.

It did take a hell of a lot of ironing to get it relatively flat again, so I'm not sure if the S520 would be a good choice for future use, or whether I just need to try different combos of interfacing in a different order to get it right.

Anyway, all in all, I think the special birthday present went down with the recipient rather well. I thought it was quite touching how thoughtful the gift was and how much effort had been put into it. It was quite nice to have been a part of it, really!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

A somewhat wordy post about the happenings of ambette (part 1)

Holy moly it's been a while since I've blogged! Not because I haven't been doing anything, more because I've been pretty busy.

There are lots of things to fill you in on, but I think I'll start with the most recent first:

The Finders Keepers markets:
Well, what a great day! They were without doubt the best art & design market I've been to in Melbourne - I loved them! The only problem I had was just the feeling of being so overwhelmed by such awesomey awesomeness, that I couldn't decide what to buy and as such, ended up going home with hardly anything.

My plan was that I would collect the cards of the designers that I might like to buy from and go home to browse their online shops at my own leisure. I had assumed that everyone was like me and had some form of online shop that they surely sold their wares from. Not so. When I got home I excitedly laid out all the cards and made a list of everyone's websites in anticipation of the online shopping bonanza that would surely follow.

To my disappointment, when I further explored the websites, most of the designers at the market either did not sell online (only listing their bricks and mortar stockists), or did not have the full range of their goods that I had seen at the market. Oh the humanity!! Needless to say, I spent a good half hour kicking myself that I hadn't checked first that the designers did in fact have everything available online.

Let that be a lesson to all you artists and designers out there - I'm sure I'm not the only one who did this, so you're losing sales by not having a full online shop, and also for not making it clear to potential customers that your lovely goodies are only available on the day of the market.

Anyway, I did manage to buy a couple of things. I got these fab earrings from Madz has Runaway

I loved her range of jewellery, and found it quite difficult to choose.

I also got these extremely cool earrings from Made by White. They are so retro-awesome! Ironically, the only people I bought from actually do have a decent online presence.

Georgie Love:
I have some rather exciting news, which is now a few weeks old, but it's new to you guys! A selection of my laptop sleeves, iPad sleeves and iPhone cases are now available through Melbourne-based Georgie Love. If you're not familiar with the site, it's run by Sally Morrigan, and sells a pretty decent-sized selection of handmade items by Australian independent designers. Pretty handy with Christmas coming up!

On a related note, since I was asked to stock some of my items on Georgie Love, Sally and I have been communicating solely via email. On the weekend I thought it might be nice to go introduce myself to Sally at the Georgie Love stall at the Finders Keepers markets, and meet her in person. I introduced myself as Liz, and was preparing to explain further that I was the maker of all the 'Ambette' items on her site. She initially appeared to know who I was, so I didn't clarify. About halfway through the conversation I started to wonder if she really did know who I was, but by this stage I felt a bit awkward about asking if she knew who I was, so I said goodbye and ran off after she gave me a lollipop and told me about a sale they were having.

Anyway, I emailed Sally today and explained that the weirdo on the weekend who spoke to her as if she knew her was in fact me. Turns out she did think I was a customer, who expected her to remember me from my order history. Haha! I felt a bit silly, but I've learnt my lesson - even if someone seems to know who 'Liz' is, in future I'll leave no room for confusion!

Playing with my banner on Illustrator:
The other day I was looking at my banner and for some reason decided I was a bit bored with the green. I had a play with a few new colour-schemes (they're a bit easier to see if you click on them and view at full-size).

I definitely don't like the bottom one as it's too hard to read, but I don't mind the first couple. I think they look quite summery, and I was thinking of occasionally changing the colour scheme of my banner just to keep things interesting, but I'm not sure if I should stick to the current scheme for the sake of consistency and branding. What do you think?

Right, I've got more stuff to talk about, but this blog post is already getting pretty wordy, so I might leave the other stuff for the next post (I promise the next one won't be 3 months away!).

Saturday, July 17, 2010

We have a winner!

Sorry about the delay, folks - I got completely caught up in weekend activities and forgot to draw the giveaway. Oops!

I'm sure you've all been on the edges of your seats all weekends waiting for the announcement, so without further ado, the winner of the felt iPod case (determined by random number generator) is......

- Congratulations!! I'll be contacting you shortly for your postal address and choice of case.

Thank you so much to all the entries - they all certainly gave me lots of encouragement and motivation to keep going. I really appreciate every one of your comments!

Monday, July 12, 2010

I got an award!

I got a lovely and unexpected surprise to have been passed the Versatile Blogger Award from fellow Melbournian, Kristina from Inaluxe! What an honour to have this award bestowed upon me by someone whose work I admire so much. Thanks Kristina - I'm a big fan!

By the way,for those of you are unfamiliar with Inaluxe, here are a few of my favourite examples of her work:

I just love the colour palettes she uses - they're vibrant but calm and soothing at the same time. I also love the clean look of her prints - they're neat, but quirky at the same time. Be sure to check out the Inaluxe shop on Etsy for more goodies!

Now, onto the award!

The Versatile Blogger Award's rules are - you must say 7 things about yourself and pass the award on to some of your favorite blogs and let them know.

So, here goes:

Hmm, gosh this is hard!

1. I learnt to drive a tractor before I learnt to drive a car.

2. I'm fussy about which magnets get to go on the fridge. My fridge is a work of art - no ugly magnets please!

3. I have played field hockey for about 20 years and have never missed a season.

4. I am strangely drawn to the colour red. This was a crazy obsession when I was about 5 years old. I had red

5. I cannot wait until I can quit my science job! I spend every day dreaming of expanding my
shop and running my own creative business.

6. My favourite drink at the moment is pear-infused vodka with dry ginger ale. I highly recommend it.

7. I used to hate my ears when I was younger, so much so that I once attempted to superglue them back. I don't recommend this. I have since grown into my ears, thankfully.

Now comes the part where I pass the award on to some of my favourite blogs. Unfortunately I can't give one to Inaluxe since they've already been awarded it, so here are my awardees:

Nicole Mallalieu: You SEW Girl! - The first blog I ever read, and my sewing/bag making idol/one-stop-supply-shop.

Cabin + cub - I really enjoy her blog, plus all Valerie's goodies, I want! She's also lovely and leaves lovely comments on my blog regularly!

Pocket Carnival - I adore Penny's cuter-than-cute illustrations, and I love hearing about her design processes and progress. An inspiration!

Summersville - I'm in awe of Lucie Summers' textile design prowess, and her blog is a very enjoyable read, too.

Girl Startup - We're both on a similar path, so I can really relate to her blog posts on the ins and outs of starting up an online shop selling bags. She designs some of her own fabric which she uses for making her bags. Well worth checking out.

Cicada Daydream - Michelle of Cloud 9 fabrics has a great blog which I always enjoy reading. It should be pretty obvious by now that I have a soft spot for textile designers. I live my life vicariously through them.

The Crafty DIY Bride - Even though I'm not planning a wedding (or even close to being engaged!), Mel - a fellow scientist in the same building as me - writes a beautiful blog, full of inspirational eye-candy and helpful crafty DIY tips.

Thanks again Kristina+Inaluxe - you made my day!

Blogaversairy giveaway take 2 - K.I.S.S

Keep it simple, stupid.

I fear I may have made the process of entering the blogaversairy giveaway a little too involved. The fact that there was a grand total of zero entries suggests one of two things:

1. The entry process was too complicated
2. Nobody wants one of my iPhone cases, not even if it's for free.

I'm sincerely hoping it's the former of the two - otherwise I'm going to be stuck with a bunch of iPhone cases that I can't even give away let alone sell.

So I'm going to make it a little bit easier for you to enter this time.

I've been feeling a bit lazy and unmotivated lately when it's come to the creative business. Perhaps it's the short sunlight hours and grey winter Melbourne skies, but I've found myself coming home from work and not leaving the couch.

To enter the giveaway this time, simply leave a comment that gives me some motivation or encouragement.

So, what will you win?

Your choice of one of these new iPhone cases. They're made from lovely rich German felt, and closed by a pair of sturdy snaps.

Don't have an iPhone?

Everyone knows somebody who has one! They'd make a lovely gift for your tech-savvy friend or relative. Alternatively they'll fit an iPod touch, or they can be used as a little pouch for whatever will fit in...

Leave your entry in the comments section. Don't forget to leave an email address so I can contact you if you win!

The winner will be announced on Friday July 16th

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Blogaversairy week giveaway

Today is my first blogaversairy - yes, a whole year has passed since that fateful day when I wrote my first post.

A year ago, I was learning to sew, had no idea about blogging (not that I'm much better at it now), knew pretty much nothing about product photography, wasn't even close to having a shop of my own and my first sale was not to be for another 6 months.

I've learnt a lot in the last 12 months. Not just about how to do things, but also about myself - what I enjoy and what I don't enjoy, as well as realising just how much I can do when I put my mind to something.

Looking back on it all, I'm feeling pretty good, so what better time than now for a giveaway!

I'm going to do a few giveaways in the next few weeks, but I'm feeling like making things interesting. For the first of the giveaways I want to hand a bit of creative control over to you guys.

Suggest the next giveaway theme:

To win this week's prize
, I want some crazy/creative giveaway themes. The most creative suggestion will win the prize, but will also be the way I run the next giveaway.

Just to give you a couple of examples of what I mean, your entry could be to suggest that the way to enter the next giveaway would be by doing something like:

* Suggesting an alternative name for my shop

* Coming up with a creative way to get my shop name noticed

Get it?

The above two above examples aren't particularly creative, but I'd like to see some really original suggestions. The crazier the better!

- Bonus points if it involves people sending in photos of some sort.
- Bonus points if it incorporates getting my shop/blog name 'out there' somehow.

So, what will you win?

Your choice of one of these new iPhone cases. They're made from lovely rich German felt, and closed by a pair of sturdy snaps.

Don't have an iPhone?

Everyone knows somebody who has one! They'd make a lovely gift for your tech-savvy friend or relative. Alternatively they'll fit an iPod touch, or they can be used as a little pouch for whatever will fit in...

So, leave your entries in the comments section below (don't forget to leave a way for me to contact you if you win). Enter as many times as you like. I'll decide which one is my favourite entry on Sunday July 11th.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

I've been interviewed!

Lara from Harvest Textiles has done a student profile on me! Click here for the interview.

Make sure you have a look around on Lara's blog - not only does she run some really excellent classes on screenprinting and toy-making, but she also sells a range of truly gorgeous hand-screenprinted clothing for children under the label Little Harvest. If I had kids, they'd be decked out in Lara's stuff.

Thanks again Lara for the interview. I hope to see you again at another screenprinting class in the not-too-distant future!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Yay! New products!

I have one brand spankin' new iPhone case in the shop! I'm quite excited at the prospect of putting some new things in the shop. I've got 4 colours of felt and about 10 different coloured snaps, so it looks like I've got a lot of different options for colour combos. I may be asking for some opinions in the not too distant future.... Anyway, here is the first of them:

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

New iPhone pockets coming soon

The felt has arrived, the snaps have arrived, and my new labels have arrived. I've roughly worked out colour combos, so all that's left to do is hit the sewing machine!

Oh and also, I just downloaded an app for blogging from my iPhone, so this the first test. Hope it works ok!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

*Edit: The app seems to work pretty well. The only thing it doesn't really allow you to do is format very well. I don't seem to be able to change the font apart from the size, and can't change text colour or change to bold/italics/underlined. Also can't change the alignment, so had to edit all these things from my computer. Seems like it might be handy for at least writing drafts on the run, and especially good for when you want to use photos from your iphone, but can't be bothered uploading them to your computer.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Doodling in front of the tv

Tonight I was kind of doodling while I was watching tv and just trying out a couple of things I've just learnt about Illustrator. Anyway, it wasn't intentional, but it ended up morphing into another pattern:

I suppose at least when I don't feel like sewing, it's good to still be able to do something a bit productive at the same time as watching tv*.

Anyway, I don't think I'll be able to give up my day job just yet - my patterns need plenty of work - but I'm enjoying doing something a bit different. I think for my next pattern I want to come up with something that will fit in with what I've got in the shop at the moment so I'll be able to get it printed at Spoonflower and actually use it on something tangible. Ooh, that would be neat to make something with my own fabric!

* Don't ask me what was on the tv..... I don't remember!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

A question for surface designers

Ok, so I was making a repeat pattern in Illustrator today and got to the end to check that the repeat was seamless, when to my annoyance I noticed a faint white line vertically and horizontally (where the edges of the repeat were) when I used my swatch as a fill. Naturally I thought I'd mis-aligned something so I went back and checked everything. Everything was lined up correctly, and the square I used to crop the edges was exactly the same size as the artboard, and I centered it properly using the align tool.

It left me scratching my head a bit....

So I used the swatch as a fill again, and zoomed in a few times and zoomed out. I noticed that the lines were only showing up when I zoomed out to a certain size, but never when when I was viewing at 100%. I thought I'd check even further, and converted it to .jpg. I don't seem to be able to see any of the lines in .jpg form so now I'm wondering why they're showing up?

I even re-booted my computer, thinking it was maybe a temporary problem with the program, but it kept happening after the re-boot.

Can anyone shed some light on this?

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Playing with pattern

Well, today was a day spent at home sick in bed, but it was not a day entirely wasted. Since I didn't feel like sitting at the sewing machine, I thought I'd get back to playing on Illustrator and really nut out how to do a repeating pattern properly. Well, I'm happy to say, I've finally figured it out! I can now do a straight repeating pattern, a half-brick and half-drop pattern and I can do them quickly! Yay!

I haven't attempted other variations yet, but now I know how to do it, I've got lots of ideas.

I call this one 'Yellow Chicks'.
The chicks are quite a bit bigger in their actual size, but this is a little bit shrunken.

So, obviously it's a pretty simple pattern, but I just wanted to get the technique down-pat before I start playing around with more complicated patterns.

I'm really happy I eventually got round to nutting this out! Yay!

Friday, May 21, 2010

New iPhone case

I was thinking of adding a range of iPhone cases to the shop, and thought I'd have a go at making one up this afternoon. I wanted a really simple, quick design, so I made it up out of a piece of felt I had lying around, and secured the flap with some press-studs that I bought ages ago, but have never used.

I'm pretty happy with it as a prototype. It's quick and easy to make so might be a nice addition to my shop as I've been needing something in the lower price range that also fits in with my recent tendency for making cases for Apple products.

Anyway, I haven't re-invented the wheel, but here it is:

I think the only thing that really needs to be done to improve it, is probably using slightly thicker felt. This one was made with felt that's approximately 1.5mm thick. I think I probably need to go with 2mm felt just for the little bit of extra reinforcement. I'm a tiny bit worried that after multiple openings and closings, that the press-studs might eventually rip out from all the force placed on the felt.

Anyway, I think I might order in a little sample of thicker felt and see if it works, then I might bang a few out and put them up in the shop to see how they go. It's quite exciting to work with felt - it's so nice not to have to worry about linings and raw edges. It's really the lazy person's ultimate material!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

and the winner is....


Congratulations! I'll be contacting you shortly for your preference of fabric and postal address. Thank you to everyone who responded. You've all been very helpful, and I'm taking all your suggestions on board.

The result was generated by a random number generator at (see screen cap above). Sorry about the smallness of the screen cap - I couldn't seem to make it any bigger. Anyway if you can't see it, the random number generated was '1'.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

The end of all things....


I think I've just about made the decision (for the moment) to put a halt on custom orders. While they have made up around 1/4 of my sales so far, I've decided they suck up way more time than they're worth.

I've had quite a few enquiries about custom orders lately. Often when I tell people I charge an extra $10 for a custom order, people seem to balk at it and change their minds because they find it too expensive. But really $10 is extremely cheap and I should charge a lot more for a custom order. I tell people the extra $10 is for extra materials and labour, but after you've subtracted the cost of additional materials from that, you're really only getting about $6 for labour. These are all the extra things I have to do for that extra $6, just to put it into perspective:

1. Extra correspondence. I usually have to send about 2 or 3 emails (sometimes more) to the buyer. Often it takes some email ping-pong to work out exactly what they're asking for - specific colours, plus often I won't be given the specific dimensions of their laptop eg. I might be given the width and depth measurements, but not the thickness, and I have to send another email to get that information.

2. Drafting a new pattern. I have to take the measurements of their laptop and re-size everything. It's not just a matter of tacking on a few extra cm, or taking a few extra off. I have to scale each part of the laptop sleeve by a percentage, so that's a bunch of extra calculations. For example, I have to work out how big to make the coloured canvas section, how big to make the flap, where to position the elastic loops and buttons so that everything is the same proportion as the original laptop sleeve.

Once all these calculations are done, I then have to mark all the pattern pieces out on paper and cut the pattern out.

3. Stress. I tell people to allow a week for me to make it for them. I fit this in around full-time work, plus a few sporting commitments, and when I have a custom order deadline, it feels like homework. Sometimes I come home and I just want to have a glass of wine and watch tv. When I have a custom order, that takes priority. I'd much rather make products when I feel like it and have them ready to ship when I get the order, rather than rushing around trying to get something finished in time. Also on the subject of stress, usually I don't have something the same size as the customer's laptop, so it stresses me out that I can't check the fit before I send it off to them. So far everything has been fine, but I still get worried that I mis-calculated something and it won't fit.

4. Extra photos. Even though the custom order looks pretty much like the original design I'm basing it on, I still take photos of the actual product for the customer to look at. I'm generally not as stringent with the quality of these photos, but they still take time. With the items I stock in my shop, I have stock photos of all my items so I don't have to take new photos every time I re-list something that's sold.

5. Setting up a new listing. Granted it doesn't take as much time as writing a listing for a new product, but it still takes time to load all the photos and copy the listing from the original.

6. Packaging and posting. Often the custom laptop sleeves are an odd size. I have a bunch of mailing envelopes I use to post the 13" sleeves so when I sell one of those I just grab one from the pile, package it up and off it goes. When I've got a custom sleeve which is bigger than what I usually send, it means a separate trip to the post office to try to find something big enough to post it in. This leads onto the final point....

7. Underestimated postage costs. My 13" sleeves are on that knife's edge, weight-wise. They're really close to 250g, which is the upper limit if you want to send something internationally for $9.30AUD. Often I'll forget that the custom sleeve is bigger and therefore heavier and it'll tip the total weight over 250g, which adds another $6 onto the postage. Usually the postage has already been paid for and I'll have to absorb the extra cost. There goes the extra measly $6 I made for making a custom order in the first place.

So, after weighing all this up, I've decided that all the time I spend doing the above things would be much better spent sewing up stock for my shop, or developing new products or coming up with new designs to screenprint. My shop is not going to develop and expand if I keep spending what little time I have to do all this extra work on custom orders that don't really pay off.

Ahhhh that's a weight off my mind!

Don't forget to enter the giveaway which ends on Wednesday! The winner will be drawn by random number generator. Enter by leaving your opinion in the comments section for your chance to win a little zippered purse.