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.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

I need your opinion - giveaway!

I've recently been working on a new design for the iPad which is soon to be released in Australia. Basically it's just a simple pocket, made from hessian, with an original design screenprinted onto the front.

I've currently got 2 variations on the design. As per the green one, there's a band of colour at the top of the sleeve (it doesn't have to be the same colour as the design on the front, but that's just what I ended up with this time). With this design, the iPad sits down in the sleeve a bit further, and the edge is somewhat protected by the coloured strip around the top.

With the other variation (like the yellow one on the left), There is no strip of colour at the top, and the edge of the iPad sits flush with the opening.

The red one is essentially the same as the yellow one, but just in a different colour.

So, what I'd like is your opinion:

1. Which variation do you like better?
2. Do you think I should have both variations in my shop, or just stick to uniformity?

3. Are there any particular colours you'd like to see on them?

4. What do you think would be a fair price for these sleeves?

5. Are there any other comments you'd like to add?

Comment below for your chance to win one of these cute little zip purses! The winner will be determined by a random number generator on Wednesday May 19th, so get your entry in before then!

** don't forget to leave some form of contact details so I can get in touch with you if you win!

19/5/2010: Entries have now been closed and the winner drawn. Congratulations to Technobimbo! The winner was determined by random number generator at Thanks to everyone for participating.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Vote for me in this week's Etsy voter

This is a quick post just to mention that my laptop sleeve is one of the items in this week's graduation-themed Etsy voter.

I'd be ever so grateful if you think my sleeve is worthy, if you could give it a nod in the form of a vote. That would be wonderful and if you do, I'm sure karma will be kind to you.

I have another blog post coming soon about what I've been up to lately - stay tuned!