Sunday, 30 May 2010

Whooopee, sold at outlet!!!

Been really busy all day preparing for tomorrow's stall at Leyland Dog Show. All done now, stock packed, car cleaned, price list sorted. Also been working on my first proper crazy patchwork backpack, not convinced at the moment if it actually is crazy patchwork or a mess, still taking all the embellishing with me tomorrow to sit and work on, might just attract some attention at least.

My Backpacks went off to the organic farm shop Thursday/Friday last week (I dont know as my sales rep takes them)I just got a phone call to say the one in the photo has sold - how good is that? My sales rep, otherwise known as my friend Maureen, is more excited than me, and now has me making up some stock for the local pet shop, then dragging me along to the local pet groomers to try there too. I also have stock to make up for the Lavender Farm "Phytobotanica".

Lets hope tomorrow's post is full of sales news.

~Bags of Swank by SimJaTa~

Friday, 28 May 2010

Great Day, and still learning

Here are my very first attempts at quilted cushions, ok they are way from perfect yet but I was quite pleased at my first attempt. After looking for advice, books, magazines, google tutorials, I eventually mentioned to my Mum about my new interest. She suggested I phoned her friend in Cardiff up, what a revolation, this wonderful lady has taught me so much, once I get around to my next attempt hopefully you will see a vast improvement. Mum's friend Marge has also sent me all her bits she used for her excellent quilts, sadly Marge has lost the majority of her eyesight and can no longer participate in her beloved quilting, she sent me her photo's of what she created too.

My best bits of news though are my bags went off to the organic farm shop yesterday, and next I have to make some stock for a local pet shop - how great is that? then whilst enjoying my day, I heard back from the Lavender Farm and they are also willing to take some stock too, so the week after I will be creating for there. Currently I am working on some more Lavender sachets for Monday's stall at a dog show in Leyland - I will be closing my Folksy shop for the day and taking along all my handmade handbags.

I also purchased the most fantastic book which has everything in it I have always wanted to do, why oh why do I need sleep? just not enough hours in the day to do everything I would like, and I just spent 2 hours sorting through my fabrics in the craft room, its still a mess but at least I have some sort of order in there now.

Hope everyone has a fantastic weekend, not sure I will be around till after Monday, got two days solid to get stock made up just breaking for the dog walks.

~Bags of Swank by SimJaTa ~

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Quilting Anyone?

After my visit to the quilt show I was totally inspired, I just 'had' to have a go, so here is my very first attempt at a cushion, not finished yet of course, but I am hoping it will magically turn into a cushion cover over night?

After hours of looking at Amazon and on the net for books, I have one magazine on its way, and visiting the library this morning returning with 5 books I have so far flicked through, must sit down and read properly.

Anyone in the know will see there is puckering which I tried to hide with buttons, and some of the stitches caught too, I think mistake number one is the batting is too thick, mistake number 2 was trying metalic thread which clogged up all my machine and took an age to sort out. Meanwhile I started on cover 2, which is hand quilted, I do find this easier but will be next week before I get that one done no doubt. I really need to get to grips with machine quilting somehow...... I do have the walking foot on, but think I need help and a lot more practice.

On a good note, the backpacks are off to the organic farm shop tomorrow, hoping they will sell over the bank holiday weekend, and my friend and I are doing a stall at a dog show on Monday, so everything crossed for that, will probably take the hand quilting with me so I can get something done during the quieter times.

Anyone willing to help with the quilting and give me some pointers would be most welcome, or guide me to a good 'Idiots guide to machine quilting'.

Sunday, 23 May 2010

Prototype bum bag

Another hot one today, making the old work conditions a tad tricky. I have been working on the requested bum bag today, not finished yet as my brain appears to have gone to sleep and I cannot get my head around the webbing bit so that needs sorting and the velcro ordered hasnt turned up yet. So, I have cut out the next one complete with Border Collie picture and see if my brain and my eyes improve later if not will be tomorrow.

Adventures here today, we took the dogs out to the beach for a cooling and quick walk, and got stuck in the sand. Photographs of this entire ordeal will be seen on my forum at Woof Beginnings later, when our dear friends who came to bail us out (once they finished laughing) arrived complete with camera to add to the humiliation, you would think after living by the coast for 44 years I would know all about sand by now. The walk was not as quick as intended after the adventure, but the dogs still had their walk and a quick dip to cool off.

Sorry to you sun worshippers, but I am NOT a fan of this weather, my house again is like a furnace and my craft room unbareable.

Saturday, 22 May 2010

Silly Sheep and Border Collie

Well, this one has taken some time. Anyone who is a member of the Craft Forum will know my lovley new sewing machine had a hissy fit this week and destroyed 7 needles on the trot, after a bit of dismantling and a visit to the Singer Shop this morning hopefully all is now well again, but certainly been a fraught couple of days.

This morning I discovered a great blog this lady deals with rescue rare breed sheep, how fascinating is that? There is even a raffle to raise funds for them.

This afternoon I braved the tremendous heat and visited my first Quilt Fair with my Mum, what nobody ever warned me about was the sales section with lots of lovely fabrics and many other things I neeeeeeeeeeeeeed! So both Mum and I are now totally skint, but I have some great new fabrics and would just love to learn quilting if I ever get the time, I do dabble with bits here and there, but to be able to create such wonderful works of art as these clever ladies do would be fabulous. I also got a stack of magazines to work through.

I have just listed the Owl Backpack I showed in my last post, in the Folksy shop it is very nice so hoping it finds a new home were it can be appreciated. Today's border collie design is featuring Nell, and some silly sheep, the back is suit wool and the lining duvet cover that was.

Hope you are all coping with the heat, afraid I am not a fan of it at all, its sweltering in this house making everything a HUGE effort to get on with, and as for sleep? forget it.............the dogs are as miserable as sin and all trying to fight for position under the fan.

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Luxury Owl Backpack

Wow, this one took me some time! Last week I was lucky enough to lay my hands on this wonderful Burgandy sheen fabric at the charity shop, then luckier still to discover it matched this owl fabric. The downside once I started to work with it was its ability to fray something terrible, so the side seams are stitched three times and overlocked, and I used a matching cushion cover fabric for the base for a studier effect. The lining again, found in charity shop is a strong cotton sateen in peach, this looks lovely but thankfully was a dream to work with.

The effects of this wonderful fabric, along with the mink coloured cord have the result of a luxury appearance.

So, today's decision is do I put this in the Folksy shop? or do I wait and see if the lovely Lavender people get back to me about my wares in their shop, send it to the organic farm shop, or keep it for the show I am doing at bank holiday?

I have also received today a lovley new pattern for a nice tote design, a rucksack and the bum bag I was asked for - though following pattern's is not really my forte so that will be a challenge, the bum bag looks good in the picture LOL, had to hastily then order some velcro for that one, but have all the notions in for everything else already. If the bum bag works well, I should really knock up a good stock for the dog show I am going too, though as its a week on Monday not a whole lot of time available for that, could always drop some more sleep hours zzz, zzz, zzz.

Next move return to craft room and decide what to start on next? aside from dog walking meant to be doing a good few hours work today, so must crack on. May well be another sheep bag, as my advert will be in Spirit of Border Collie in June, so should really give the readers something of their interest at least to look at.

Monday, 17 May 2010


Have you all seen this yet? Introducing a super new website in which you can not only advertise your website and or shop, but also make a small donation to charity and help the organisations listed, or even make a suggestion.

Lets face it we are all always on the look out for a new place to promote our crafts and here is a fantastic way of doing it.

The site was set up by Mick at who makes the most fantastic original jewellery. A lot of time and effort has gone into this new site to help not only the needy charities listed but also the many struggling talented crafters out there in need of an extra place to showcase their fabulous items, why not grab the opportunity to have the edge on the others?

Go take a look for yourselves and see what you think...

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Meet the Dolphins

Introducing the Dolphins.... Here is the last of the backpacks for the organic farm shop, hopefully off on their travels this week. Such a super fabric, but sadly now all gone, I couldnt bare to waste the few remaining pieces so I created some more Lavender Sachets and added them to my Folksy shop.

I have mentioned in my listing the local Lavender Farm, which I am lucky enough to be visiting tomorrow with my friend Sian - just one more sleep left I have been looking forward to this all week.

My next blog (hopefully) will be all about the new website I have registered with You may have noticed the new logo at the side, why not take a look for yourselves first?

~Bags of Swank by SimJaTa ~

Saturday, 15 May 2010

Sheepdog Duffle Bag/Rucksack

These Sheepdog Duffle Bags by Bags of Swank at SimJaTa, are not on sale in my shop but will be enjoying a journey to the local organic farm shop hopefully next week with some other stock.

This one features a fabulous photograph of my friends sheepdog Nell, in the van with a lamb. Hopefully another bag to show how a photograph can be added to a bag of your choice.

I am currently working on a Dolphin bag as requested for the shop (or at least I would be if I had actually done any work today) and have another sheep one finished which I havent got around to photographing as yet.

So many bags to do, so little time................

Doggie Party Treats

Just for amusement here are some of the dog party treats I made for Sian's birthday party at dog club last week. Yes, we really are that sad.

As I have been very naughty today and not done a 'thing' regarding work I thought I better do a bit here on my blog. So two posts today, this one about how sad I really am and the next about products.

The dog treats are oat cakes, and liver cakes topped with mash potato and little bones, the dogs were all very happy dogs and look forward to Sian's birthday next year LOL.

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Custom Kelpie/Sheep Duffle Bag

Here is the custom duffle bag I made for my friend Sian's birthday yesterday, luckily she was thrilled and lucky for me I gave it to her at dog club so everyone got to have a look, I even got to give out a business card. My friends who gave me the chance to sell at a farm shop got to see it too, and they seemed to approve, though are making me get a move on with the stock for the shop now LOL.

I wasnt around yesterday, the mail server crashed so I had no access to my PC at all for the entire day, I think I had severe withdrawal. Was kept very busy though as said friend Sian had allocated me the task of making a stack of luxury dog treats for club last night, if I get brave enough I might post a picture for you to laugh at, still the dogs seemed to approve.

Today I really MUST get on with duffle bag 2 for the shop, 2 more to go and I can toddle off and see what they think, and more importantly if they sell - now I have been asked for 'bum bags' eeeeeeeeeeek, not a clue how to make them.

Sunday, 9 May 2010

SimJaTa Rucksacks have arrived

At last the first of the rucksacks are ready. Hubby and his hammer conquered some eyelets (donated from a kind bod on local town forum), and a day spent threading and creating today.
I have introduced one onto the Folksy shop, and may list another tomorrow, though the main stock I am busy on are to go off to the organic farm who have kindly agreed to be an outlet for me. I have lots of desings in my head, my hands are just not fast enough, or is that my eyes? as after some small ribbon sewing today they are shot for the night so I cant get anymore done today.
I have also been sorting out some photo's to improve the shop and started on that, the good old 'Purple Frog Handbag' now looks improved, and going to have a go at the 'Happy Green Frog Handbag' in a mo.

Tomorrow I have to get some fabric printed for some designs, and print out some leaflets as my super forum pal 'Fluffy Squirrel' is going to dish out some leaflets for me at her next show and to her local dog owners world.

Did I mention the new sewing machine? that arrived yesterday, and I'm sure once I get to grips with it will save me some time, and enable me to show off some great stitch work. However, just now its taking me longer whilst we get used to each other.

I hope you all like my new rucksacks, I will probably show off a few on here before I get around to stock for the Folksy shop. Tomorrow I have one to do as a gift, and now I have the toggle locks my own custom rucksack (seen on here) is much improved so will be having an outing to dog training this week, and then perhaps a few trips on the dog walk, filled with trusty business cards.

Off in search of some eyelets and coloured rope, oh and perhaps some more photo adjusting in the Folksy shop.

~Bags of Swank by SimJaTa~

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Me, him and the dog

Here is the portrait we had done at Diana Celine Photography on Saturday, in aid of our local pet rescue centre 'Freshfields'. For those who havent been reading since the beginning, Alfie came to us in November at 18 months old and was a rather 'difficult' dog having had no socialisation and spending most of his days in the garage. After a little op (if you get my drift) some training and a few activities he is a whole lot easier to live with now, living with us and our other two rescue dogs Tess and Jaja.

Not much done on the craft today, had a jiggle with the Folksy shop changed my profile and a couple of item titles, decided all my photo's need re doing so have asked himself to tackle that one soon. Other than that, I designed a crazy patchwork back for a rucksack ready to embroider with the new sewing machine at weekend, and got onto the eyelet man as of course they STILL havent arrived. Oh, and I have sorted out my advert for Border Collie magazine and my mini write up on me. Once that has been sent out hopefully I will feature in the June/July issue.

Wednesday/Thursday are not good craft days for me as lots of other commitments on those days, along with dog training and agility in the evenings, hoping for a lot more creations and work done over the weekend.

~Bags of Swank by SimJaTa~

Saturday, 1 May 2010

Custom Rucksack

Well here it is (minus the eyelets, which apparently can take up to 10 days second class post from Essex!!!)My first drawstring rucksack ready for tomorrow's show at Greyhound Gap. Next job is to order some lockable toggles to help the drawstring bit, and maybe add a secure fasten, not sure yet, but hopefully the design will be enough for tomorrow. The extra tag on the side is for an eyelet to add a hook for keys, or poo/treat bags.

Had a smashing day, Alfie went to have his picture taken and we have a lovely picture of us with him and a CD on order with all the rest of them taken they were so good, also permission to use them at Woof Beginnings for merchandise as long as we mention the photographers name. When I get around to it in the week I will scan it to show you.

After that I visited the 'singer sewing machine shop' were Mum has ordered me a fantastic new sewing machine, I pick it up next Saturday and I cant wait - no more hassles of stuck thread and tangles, and all mod cons, 30 super stitches and a zipper foot, oh and a quilting foot - am I excited or what?

In brief the meeting with Business Links local 'grant' section was a disaster, no additional business advice given, nothing I didnt already know anyway - and no grant, unless I am classed as disabled or referred from DWP, and it seems my postcode is an 'affluent' area, which is hysterical, ok at the other side of were I live we do have premium league footballers, but certainly not this end. So, the fact I went armed with products, business plan etc was a total waste of time, infact the whole thing was a waste of time - I was advised to try selling at a car boot sale? my opinion on that one is not printable.

In the next few weeks I have some local places to visit who have shown an interest in selling my wares, so much to do so little time LOL.