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New Year, New Beginning

If you saw this previous blog post you’ll know that I recently undertook my first venture into wholesale.  There were a lot of things I learned during the processes and a few surprises too.  The most significant of which was the realisation that I have effectively been selling masks in my Etsy store at wholesale prices for the last year.

I was surprised to find that Seed were going to sell my masks for $29.95 each. While I don’t think it’s unreasonable for them to do this, it was a bit of a wake up call for me.  I couldn’t help wondering why they were happy to charge that much when I felt like I couldn’t.  If customers were happy to pay this price in Seed, surely they would be just as happy to pay the same amount, knowing that they were supporting a small handmade business rather than a large corporation?

Raising prices is actually something I have been considering for a while now, mainly because I would love to take the next step and begin to approach local toy shops to see whether they would like to stock my masks.  I haven't done this yet because I can’t afford to lower my wholesale price, and I can’t ask retailers to sell my masks at a higher price while undercutting them in my own Etsy store.


All of this has left me feeling very conflicted.  I need to raise my prices but I feel really bad about it, I feel like I’m cheating people by doing so.  I’m worried that I’ll be out-priced by cheap versions of the same thing on Etsy, I’m wondering how I convince people that what I’m making is of better quality and that it’s worth what I’m asking for it.  I feel rather like I’m saying that my time is worth more - that I’m worth more - than what I’m currently asking - and for me that’s an uncomfortable place to be.  But at the same time I also want to make a success of my business and I can’t do that if I’m cheating myself.

While all of this has been difficult to work through, I am glad in a way to have had my hand forced.  I am happy to have finally made a decision that I have been putting off for months and months.  It feels like a gamble, and I’m afraid that it won’t work, I’m afraid that customers will say ‘No, I’m not paying that - it’s not worth that much’, not only because I don’t want to fail, but because it would leave me feeling foolish for having had the audacity to believe that I - and my products - were worth more.  

So having babbled on and on for quite long enough now, here’s what I’ve decided to do:


I am going to review the prices of all of my felt dress up masks.  They will be priced between AUD$19 and $24 depending on how detailed they are and how much work goes into them.  The new prices will come into effect as of January 2nd. So, consider this fair warning - if you were thinking of buying, get in quick before the price rise!

As an added bonus, I will be running a sale between Boxing day and New Year where you can get an extra 20% off with the code SWEET - this discount code will work for patterns too!  Please note that all orders placed during the sale will ship on January 2nd as we're going to spend New Year canoeing down a river, camping, reconnecting with nature and generally getting very grubby!

Finally I’d like to thank each and every one of you for all your support this year - whether it’s as a customer, a reader or a friend.  I couldn’t do it without you and want to wish you a very happy, healthy and joyful New Year.

It's Giveaway Day!

Sew mama Sew giveaway day
Sew Mama Sew giveaway day
sew mama sew giveaway day

Rooooaaar!  I'm so excited!  It's Sew Mama Sew's annual Giveaway day!  I love Giveaway day and This time I have 2 prizes up for grabs.  Winners can take their pick from any of my PDF felt mask sewing patterns.  They are perfect stocking fillers and make a wonderfully quick and easy last minute handmade birthday prezzie (I should know - pretty much all of the kids in my daughter's class got these for their birthdays this year...!)

Enter using the Rafflecopter below.  Entries close at midnight Sunday American Eastern time. Winners will be notified via email.  

Follow @willow_and_stitch on Instagram HERE:

Great! Good luck!  

If you don't win, want to peruse all my sewing patterns or simply can't wait then you can head over to my Etsy shop to take a look.

Now head back to Sew Mama Sew to enter more wonderful competitions!

Reindeer Mask Tutorial - Free Pattern Piece

Reindeer Mask Tutorial

Can you believe we’re halfway through November, moreover, that it’s only 5 weeks until the Silly Season starts?!  I can’t, but that’s mostly because I live in topsy turvy land these days.  I’ve been in Australia for 12 years now but I still can’t get used to Christmas and Spring occurring at the same time.  I really need those environmental clues of the Northern Hemisphere, the autumn leaves falling, the nights drawing in, the chill in the air, to get me into the christmas spirit.  I pine for snow and log fires, sledding and hot chocolate, mittens and hot water bottles.

That’s not to say that I don’t enjoy a hot christmas.  It’s a lovely holiday here, full of light and the joys of early summer.  Little girls in white dresses, cherries and stone fruit, seafood and cocktails, bright sunshine and cool breezes.  We throw open all the doors and lounge around in the garden, enjoying balmy evenings under twinkling fairy lights.

Nonetheless, I do find that it requires more of a conscious effort on my part to make December feel festive, and because I am determined that my children should find it as magical as I remember the holidays from my childhood being I tend to overcompensate by going all out with the decorations, music, christmas craft activities, and, of course, handmade gifts.

One of my favourite Christmassy things to make are these little Reindeer masks. I’m heading to Swagger Child Design Market this Sunday so I have been busy stocking up on them, and today I’m offering you a free pattern piece so that you can make them too.  The cute little fawn in my Woodland Creatures Sewing Pattern can be transformed into a festive Reindeer with the addition of these antlers.  Download the pattern extension piece here and scroll down for the tutorial.  If you don’t have a copy of the Woodland Creatures PDF and would like one then you can purchase it here.

Tutorial:

1. Download the bonus pattern pieces and print out.  Make sure that you set your print settings to 100% or select ‘no scaling’.  Measure the 1” square on the page to check that it has printed correctly.

2. Cut out the pattern pieces and pin them to a double layer of felt.  Cut around each piece and then sew the two layers together, sewing 5mm (¼”) from the edge.

Reindeer Mask

TIP:  For a neater finish and an easier time sewing, draw around your pattern pieces while they are pinned to the felt.  You will need a white marker or chalk pen to do this on the dark brown felt.  DO NOT cut the felt out.

Instead sew 5mm (1/4”) inside your drawn line and then cut along the white line once you have sewn the two layers together.

Doing it this way stops the felt from shifting as you sew which can be a particular problem when sewing around curves.

Reindeer Mask Tutorial

3. Sew your fawn mask following instructions on the PDF pattern.  When you come to sew the 2 layers of the face together, sandwich each antler between the 2 face layers, positioning each approximately 1cm (½”) from the ear, and letting the base of the antler extend at least 1.5cm / ¾” into the mask.  Pin in place before sewing around the face.

Reindeer Mask

As you can see I use the same technique for sewing all of my masks i.e. I sew before cutting wherever possible - It's quicker and gives a much nicer finish!

Well, that's it.  You're done!

Happy Holidays.

Reindeer Mask

Lessons learned from mass production and selling wholesale!

Owls Masks for Seed by Willow and Stitch

Yet again I find myself wanting to start a blog post by saying ‘It’s been rather quiet around here recently’ and while that might be true of my little blog - it most certainly isn’t true of my life in general; It has been BONKERS around here recently!

Masks for Seed photoshoot by Willow and Stitch
Tails for Seed photoshoot by Willow and Stitch

September seems to have passed in a blur of felty activity.  It all started innocently enough - with an enquiry from stylist Tamara Maynes asking whether I could design and make a few masks, tails and ears for a photo shoot she was doing for Seed Kids in a few days time.  I love a challenge, particularly when it involves creating some new designs so I was happy to do it.  I was expecting that the campaign might help my business by advertising my masks on a large scale and being associated with a big brand - what I wasn’t expecting was to get a call from Seed a week later, asking whether I could make 500 masks for them to stock in stores to complement the campaign!  

So. Many. Birds.

So. Many. Birds.

I make these dress up masks in my ‘spare’ (ha!) time so I wasn’t sure whether it would be possible to make so many in such a short time frame (I had 3-4 weeks) or even whether I wanted to commit to such a large project, but my husband persuaded me that I ought to do it; ‘I’ll help’ he said (and don’t you worry, I most certainly held him to it!)  I was expecting him to regret his offer (he generally dislikes doing anything that might be classified as ‘arts and crafts’ - weird really as he’s actually very artistic) but he seemed to rather enjoy it, and he certainly has a better appreciation for the work I do now!

All the pandas

All the pandas

Panda Masks for Seed by Willow and Stitch

This really was a huge amount of work and while I have to say that I don’t really enjoy this type mass production there were definitely some interesting lessons that I learned while doing it:

Firstly, I need to accept offers of help more.  I don't know why but I usually turn down offers of help;  I suppose that I don’t want to impose on anyone or take advantage of their kindness so I try to do it all myself (and there may also be a tiny bit of stubbornness in there too!).  This time I was fully aware that I simply may not be able to do it all myself so I began to accept the offers. 

It made me feel enormously grateful to be surrounded by so many supportive and generous people. An activity that might, alone, have been tedious and stressful was turned into a pleasant way to spend an afternoon, particularly when you added in a cup of tea, a little cake and some happy chatting. (honestly - anything is bearable if you have tea and cake - don't you think?!)  There was also something surprisingly rewarding and soul nourishing about accepting the help; being able to admit that I needed it and finding that there were friends and family there ready and eager to offer it.  I suppose it's all related to our very human need for community and connection, but whatever the reason I was very touched so thank you so much to everyone who helped!

I also discovered lots of ways in which I can fine tune my making processes to find the most efficient way of doing things, for example I realised that sewing around the outline of the mask BEFORE I cut them out makes the whole process much quicker because I don’t have to deal with the double layers of felt shifting as I sew or cut.

I found here are a lot of hoops to jump through when you are selling to a large company, different people to talk to about different things, forms to fill in, barcodes to order and attach, accounts to set up, even using a courier service for the first time was a challenge!

Lastly, but probably most significantly, I realised that I have massively underpriced my products.  This is a bit of an uncomfortable thing to talk about, mostly because I feel a little like I'm standing here yelling 'I'm worth more than this!' but I did find it very interesting.  When I was contacted by the store they asked me what my wholesale price would be for a large quantity.  I had no idea!  I have obviously done some calculations to work out the cost of materials and my time for each mask and then added a bit of profit on top of that, although if I’m honest when I was setting the price originally I based it mostly on what I thought people would be willing to pay. As it turns out when I looked into it in more depth I realised I have been effectively selling masks at the wholesale price for the last year - oops!  

Exactly what, if anything, I'm going to do about this is going to require a little more thought but I'll come back and talk more about the whole thing once I've got it all straight in my head!

In the meantime here's a picture of a cute little monkey...

Goodnight!

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Macrame Plant Hanger Goodness

Modern Macrame Plant Hanger

Oh my goodness.  I LOVE this latest project.  

This has been on my 'To Do' list for months now and I kept putting it off because it just seemed like such a big project, but funnily enough, when I actually got down to doing it it was done in an afternoon!  

It was probably a bit ridiculous to choose such a large project as my introduction to Macrame but I just fell in love with the design of it and have been looking for something to break up this massive expanse of blank wall in our new extension (which has 4.5 metre high ceilings!).  The pattern was an Etsy purchase from Boho Journal Shop and it was great.  Easy enough for a complete beginner to follow and I think the end result is just beautiful!  Besides, I've never been one to do things by halves....

Modern Macrame Plant Hanger / Wall Hanging

I can totally see myself getting addicted to making variations on this theme.  I need to build up my knotting repertoire, it so far consists of square knots in various forms and that's about it. Luckily I bought about 250 metres of rope so I should have enough to experiment with!

Sorry to those who know me - you're all getting a 70's Macrame plant hanger for Christmas, if anyone objects you'd better let me know in advance! 

Modern Macrame Plant Hanger / Wall Hanging