31 Jan 2012

What I'm wearing: A Vintage Dress

I've been rather sick with a horrid stomach bug for about a week, so cabin fever led me to do things like tidy the house, scrub my bathroom, dye my hair and paint my nails...it's amazing what boredom will lead a person to!
I've had this dress for over a year and I've never worn it, part of me loved it, but the other half thought it was a bizarre hybrid of something my mother wore in the 80's and a Star Trek(natives from a peaceful and earthy planet)dress. But I tried it on again recently and realised that the side that loved it won out and and that I would wear it soon. So this is it's first airing!
Dress: In a bag of vintage dresses that I got for free from a friend of a friend...for free!
Belt: Came free with this blue top I got in A-Wear, it's awful with the top, but nice with this dress.
Boots: A charity shop €10

Wow that's an incredibly cheap outfit!

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30 Jan 2012

How-To Button Wine Glass Charms

Can I just preface this how-to by saying I won't be using my retro app again for photographing step by step guides, after uploading them I realised that I got a pretty blurry account of the project, so apologies now for the fuzziness of the pictures....

I saw this cute how-to on button wine glass charms, and thought I would give it a go. It turns out the link isn't a how-to at all, just a finished picture telling people how easy they are to make....which they are, after a while that is.
What you will need:
Snips or a tough scissors
Flat buttons of various sizes and colours
Wine glass charm rings
Wire(I'm not sure what gauge I used, I just had some laying about the studio)

Glass charms are usually sold in set of 6, with each one having their own distinctive pattern or colour, I picked out red, yellow, blue, green, purple and pink and chose complimentary colours for the top buttons. I know this sounds really silly but I had no idea what the purpose of these charms were until last year, it's so people don't get their glasses of wine mixed up at parties, each person gets their own colour, what a smart idea!! I'm obviously not a grown up and I need to go to more dinner parties, I should have copped onto this yonks ago!

It took me about a half hour to figure out how to do the wire wrapping,(in the end I gave up on trying to go through the 4 button holes) and I broke a few buttons, but when you figure it out it's really easy after that. Cut approximately 6" of wire, weave your wire through the buttons, leaving about 1" one one side at the back.

You'll have to use your imagination here to picture that I've twisted the wire together with the pliers, make sure the end of your wrapped wire is tidy.

Push the twisted wire against the button so that it's flush against it, then loop around your longer piece so that the loop pops up about 2mm over the top of the button.

Leave about 1" of wire sticking out from the bottom of the button and cut. Again we put on our imagination caps to see that I've wrapped this piece of wire tidily with my pliers around the base of the loop, tucking in the end of the cut wire.

Then simply put your wine charm ring through the loop that you created, and repeat 5 more times to get a set of button charms you can wow all your dinner party guests with(just make sure to tell them that you learned how to make them on this fantastic blog!)

Quite simply as cute as a button!
Update: Since I scheduled this post I've added a jump ring so that the buttons sit better on the wine rings. Also I will be listing a bunch of these sets in my etsy shop when the postman arrives with my rings, I made loads of sets the other day, it was button heaven!

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27 Jan 2012

Crossed Words

Some of you may know already that I'm running a second book stall at the moment instead of my craft stall at the Milk Market. Well as a promotional tool I'm now giving out these nifty crosswords that were compilled by the very intelligent John. They will be given away free at the stall from this weekend onwards, and in a selection of old man pubs throughout the city. Or you can click on the image here to download and print it.

I love crosswords, I used to do The Irish Times Simplex one every day for years when I worked in a newsagents in Dublin. There is nothing more satisfying than sitting down for an extended cup of tea/pint and letting the world roll by while trying to drag random words out of the recesses of your brain.

If any of you finish it please let me know! The answers will be included in the next issue, this is going to be a fortnightly venture.

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26 Jan 2012

Polyvore: The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

I'm quite excited by the trailers for The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. I loved the books and I own all the original Swedish films on DVD, it looks like David Fincher has kept pretty close to the text, but to be honest I don't know if the new Lisbeth Salander can be as good as Noomi Repace(although I'm mightily impressed by the creepy lack of eyebrows).

Anyhow I made up this Polyvore board in homage to this amazing heroine.

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25 Jan 2012

How-To Paper Collage Bookmarks

Yet again I found a great tutorial on Pinterest, this how-to by SEI Lifestyle is for making magnets, which is what I intended to make, but as I started working on the I changed my mind. I made bookmarks instead since I'm now running a second hand book stall, and I thought they would be nice to have if someone was buying a gift.
 I ended up not using some of the above items, so here is my revised list of what you will need.
Kraft Card 12" x 12" sheets
Lots of scraps of fancy patterned paper, I have tonnes of this left over from cards.
PVA glue mixed half and half with water.
A brush or sponge
Brown aging ink
A corner cutter
Sewing machine
Card for a printer

I grouped my scraps of paper into coloured themes, this gives a more cohesive look especially since the papers are all in clashing patterns. I have been saving up these scraps of paper for years, I have loads of it, so I'm delighted to find a use for it.

 Cover your 12" x12" sheet of Kraft paper with you glue mix, then lay out the scraps of paper, gluing the backs of each of them too. Try to think about what colours sit well beside each other, and also add interest by ripping some of the sheets in stead of having a cut edge. Also try to remember that this large sheet will be cut into smaller strips, so try to layer up using lots of small bits(but not too many either or will never be able to sew around them all)

Allow the sheets to completely dry out.

On the back measure out 6" x 2" strips and cut up your sheet using a scissors. I then used my x-cut corner punch to round the edges. After cutting up the strips I decided I wanted to back them on something more substantial, so I cut out 7" x 3" strips on Kraft card to sew my collaged pieces onto.

Since these were going to be bookmarks i wanted add quotes/saying to them. So after a bit of Googling I came up with a few short lines. I used photoshop to lay them out in long narrow strips in a font that I liked, and then I printed them onto some glossy card.

I carefully used my sewing machine to sew around each of the paper scraps, take your time at this bit, it's fairly tricky. I sewed the coloured paper onto a larger piece of Kraft card, do all my central stitching. When this was finished I sewed around the edge onto a second piece of Kraft card. What this does is hide all the unsightly stitching from the central panel and sandwiches it between two pieces of Kraft card.

I then used some brown stamping ink to age the edges and add some more interest and texture. When this was done I varnished the bookmarks back and front and waited for them to dry.

Hey Presto! they're done. I'm pretty chuffed with how they turned out, and I'd really like to adapt this method to other projects too.

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24 Jan 2012

What I'm Wearing: Desigual

I fell in love with this coat when I first saw it, thankfully I was shopping with my mother at the time and she convinced me to splash out the €100 for it. Normally they cost well over €250, but I got a great bargain in the January sales last year in the Kildare outlet centre. It's a Desigual coat, and I'm obsessed with their clothes, I just can't afford to buy them.

Shoes: Doc Martins €110
Tights: 200 Denier Pennys €4
Long white long sleeved t-shirt part of a dress set I got in Choice for €30, very handy under top to have for layering.
Grey Dress at the Friday Flea Market in the Milk Market €6
Long sleeved cardigan in FCUK sale shop for €20
Scarf free from my sister -in -law
Coat €100 in the Desigual shop in Kildare Outlet Centre
Hat in Claires part of a 5 items for €10
Necklace from Topshop €3

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21 Jan 2012

Health and Exercise

I've gotten the New Years bug and I started using my exercise bike again. Let me just preface this post by saying that I am in no way naturally inclined towards exercise, in fact I find it more than a little torturous. I was one of those girls that tried to weasel out of every gym class, and I succeeded most times. But now as I edge ever closer to my 30's I realise that I can't continue like this and not expect it to effect my health. My father had three heart stents put in last year, even though he never smoked or drank, was lean and fit and walked about 5 miles a day most days of his working life. Thank goodness he is OK now, but it set off little alarm bells in me that I should take care of my own health while I'm young. 

For the past few weeks I've been cycling 5 miles about 3 mornings a week, I know that's nothing huge, but it's a step forward. Maybe when I build up my fitness I'll do longer cycles, or cycle one or two of the evenings after the market. Although to be honest now that I'm doing the book stall, which involves hauling about 600 books in and out of the storeroom each day, I'm pretty wrecked when I get home.

By the way I look nothing like the ladies in these pictures, I'm rather more pink and sweaty, and I certainly don't have a post salon up-do, but I do love these photos!


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20 Jan 2012

Packaging Orders

As much as possible I try to make systems for all of my work so that things run smoother. I'm not naturally inclined towards being organised so I've spent years training myself to do this to try to make running a business less stressful. When I first started selling on Etsy getting orders was both very exciting and hugely time consuming. The first few orders I got, I had to walk down town to buy packaging, then spend ages rooting out the Sellotape. Thankfully things have changed, now I have what I like to call my 'postal station', which has:
Envelopes of multiple sizes
Thank you notes (see my how-to here)
Business Flyer
Return Address labels
Wide Tape that never leaves this basket so I always know where it is.
Craft freebie magnets(see here)
Bubble wrap
Velvet gift bags
Zip lock bags

Having all these things easily to hand makes life so much easier, especially when I get a few orders in the same day. Also I've kept the colour scheme consistent with my logo, the blue is carried through from the flyer, thank you note, the sticker on the envelope with my logo, the logo on the promo magnet and even the blue in the return address labels. This is to reinforce my brand and also to give a slick professional appearance. I make sure to keep these extra touches to a minimum though so that it doesn't hike up my costs. I've bought lots of stuff on Etsy over the years and it really makes a difference, the shopping experience becomes even more special. Bonzie and Magpie and Button are two people who pop into my mind who went the extra step and really personalised their packaging. If this is a selling point in your pieces it wouldn't be a bad idea to put a photo of your wrapping/parceling in your last listing image like Balanced does.
Balanced's Beautiful Packaging

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19 Jan 2012

Handmade Button Rings

This week has all been about getting my Etsy shops back in ship shop shape again, by rights I should really do this in September each year, but i never seem to find the time. I've been trying to list a lot of my stock since I won't be selling my crafts at the Milk Market for a while. The other day I got up early and painted my nails in preparation for selling my button rings. With a little help from some wrapping paper I made my photos look bright and cheery. I edited and listed a bunch of them and I will be getting through the rest of them as the week goes on.
They are just €5 and come in 18mm and 16mm, and they are adjustable too.

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