90. the one with the very important business of pricing

when i first started making & selling my work, years ago now, i found pricing a fucking nightmare.
on all the helpful websites, there was the formulas of: this plus that, plus a decent hourly wage. and then you times by something and then double it. complicated mathsmaths.

there were the lovely friend-colleagues & customers who understood that i didn’t learn free motion embroidery off of a youtube video one day – that i’d actually been sewing since Ago, plus i’d suffered through an entire degree at Embroidery University.
they thought i should charge more. <3

but there were also the Angry People who insisted that by not obeying the law of mathsmaths formula, by under-charging, i was doing an evil disservice to everyone who’s trying to earn a proper living from making. i was reducing its worth. *tut*
they thought i should charge more.

<tbf, they’re probably doing something a lot more commercially viable than me.
because show me the person who will pay £324623mathsmaths x2 for a handmade embroidered bookmark, and i will show you an emperor with no clothes who probably doesn’t read paperbacks anyway>

it was all SO CONFUSING and i tried all manner of combinations of advices.
but, finally, after all these years, i have it figured out! …or do i?
AND IT’S SO SIMPLE! …or izzit?

this month i’ve been scribbling & fiddling, updating some old designs; like these fancy zombie ladies with their fresh florals for spring 2018.

floral zombie applique

^ as ever, when it came to actually cutting out all the teeny tiny bits, i realised i was being mental. it took a good 5 hours just to get all the microscopic parts snipped & in place ready for stitching.

then each little lady took an hour to embroider, with all the stop/start of the intricates. roughly one bobbin per beauty. that is a lot of stitching-metres.
floral zombie free motion embroidery

but it didn’t matter because IN THE ZONE,
being ON FIRE

<… that night, 3am: shoulders & neck ACTUALLY *on fire* from Too Much hours of best sewing angle contortion-ry… morphs into migraine…. delirious kicky-feet fever dreams…
what was i thinking oh i hope i still have time to make bunnies for easter maybe i’m having a stroke god i’d kill for a cup of tea right now why am i visualising the floor plans for a house i looked at on right move yesterday maybe i should start charging for materials what if i AM having a stroke what was the name of that guy who was in that film we watched  … 
lose sunday & monday lying on the couch with a migraine hangover and very closed eyes. >

tuesday: right. back to work!
bookmarks. and wtfpricing.
so far, each one has taken… rounding down… approx. 3 hours. “SO FAR.”
and what even *is* minimum wage these days? mine should be less because pyjamas and netflix. but also, mustn’t forget commission, listing & selling fees…
what if i price them at £15? that’s like £5 per hour. ish.
that seems like a fair price for a special bookmark?

it doesn’t take long to make up the finished item, so i’ll just disappear that half hour(ish) from my mathsmaths formula.

free motion embroidery bookmarks handmade

^ as ever, when it came to actually pinning, backing, cutting, measuring, sewing, trimming, turning, pressing, topstitching, pressing again, i realised i was being a mathsmaths-stupidstupid. Y, it only takes an hour to make up a couple… but i was not making “a couple”.

another 2 bobbins and a day later…
handmade embroidered bookmarks

18x beautiful and/or very spesh freehand embroidered bird / sheep / zombie textile bookmarks all ready to be photo-ed & listed for sale. once i’ve decided about prices.

birds zombie sheep bookmark.jpg

i still don’t have a fucking clue what i’m doing.

***edit: bookmarks are available here fiona t.


85. the one with the mummies

mummies “the journey”
**as always, this is not a “how to” or a tutorial so please do NOT share on m**$*%effing pinterest. thankyouplease :) fiona t mummies mar14

for a while there,  i had to take myself off into internet-seclusion due to ongoing personal kerfuffles.
i find that just sitting in front of the telly, “not working”, is usually the best time for coming up with new ideas. and with no orders or other projects going on at the moment, i was able to keep playing and tinkering with these until they were just as my brain had described them to me.

i’d doodled some veeeery rough ideas back at the beginning of the year… for valentine’s day, mother’s day and easter… never knowing if i’d find time to develop them further
initial idea mummiesterrible drawings

(i’ve sneaky-pixelled out the easter things ^ just in case i get to them, and the valentines day pandas – which i was super happy with – are long gone. i never even blogged about them because there are only about 3 hours in the day at the moment)
red valentines panda
romantical valentine’s pandas

the next stage when i’m making something new, is endless fails.
if i was sensible, i would just draw the detail onto fabric with biro while i work on shape & construction (thus saving all of the cutting, sticking & embroiderering hours).
but i’m 1. not sensible, and
2. unable to visualise things exactly until they are right there in my eyes & in my hands

mummies product development
lumpy long legged fail mummies

after that stage, it’s back to the drawing board.
many, many times.

mummies redraw
super technical final drawing

next i build a “rough copy” that i’m happy with…
first mummyfirst mummy 

*whispering* at this stage i sometimes like to confer with my art-friends.
“is this rubbish? i think it’s funny and good but what if it’s rubbish? is it a crap idea? …and should i go with multi coloured bandages or keep it traditional?”
it’s good to have a small, trusted group that – for just 18p! – will give you honest feedback & suggestions before you unleash potential insanity onto the internet :)

next, i spent a fun day ruining my best pyjamas in the pursuit of the perfect hand dyed corpse colourdyed mummies50 shades of grey-blue (or, 8. 8 shades of grey-blue)

and then just 4837457989 hours later, presto! 4 dress rehearsal mummies embroidered, sewed, stuffed ‘n wrapped!
fiona t mummies mar14_2

kerfuffle circumstances allowing, i’ll be starting work on a small batch of these this afternoon so that they’re ready in time. of course, mummies are for life – not just for mother’s day.
**edit: there are still a couple available here

84. oh, hello 2014. here so soon!? giveaway (NOW CLOSED)

overall, 2013 was really rather good :)

fiona t sold 2013 01

every time my glass got half empty, something would occur to fill it back up. and that “something” wasn’t always rainwater from the leaky downpipe or overflowing gutters.

fiona t sold 2013 02

usually it was a new project, a mountain of fabric, a sale, a comment, a message or email, some lovely feedback, (even surprise cards & gifts!) that all reminded me how fortunate i am to be doing what i do, and that without my awesome customers it wouldn’t be possible.

fiona t sold 2013 03

ok, well, no. i’d still be doing this without you :p
but all this stuff ^ would be hidden under the bed in the spare room and i’d just be some crazy lady who watches supernatural in her pyjamas all day whilst tinkering with a sewing machine.

so thankYOU for that moment – at Husband’s work do for eg – where people politely ask, “and what do you do, fiona?”  and i can hold my head up high and smile and say “embroidered zombies.”

one of my favourite projects at the end of the year, was this set of 3 embroidered sketchbooks, commissioned by kerry for her friends – they’re all frequent visitors on my facebook page so it involved lots of sneaky and managing to keep my big mouth SHUT.
panda booby kitty

to say thankyou for sticking with fiona t., for your support and for buying stuff, (also, like a little bribe to make you stay) here is a

the prize is that i’ll make the winner something nice. whatever they want**
(**DISCLAIMER: to keep it within the realms of reasonable & possible, it will be something very much like that ^ )

to enter: what was your highlight of 2013?
mine was our family holiday with mostly-recovered anakin dog, and getting sunburnt (!) in the north sea (!!) in late september (!!!)

the winner will probably be chosen at random by anakin.
competition closes on saturday the 11th of january at 12 noon.
i’ll post the winners name here, and be in touch shortly afterwards so we can discuss your prize.

thanks again, and good luck!

***edit: CONGRATULATIONS KAREN ADAMSON, i’ll be in touch soon to discuss your reward :)

82. the one with the elves

in 5 days time i’m hanging up my sewing hands for the year, packing up mah precious stuffs, and putting on my hardhat. it’s time to tend to my tumble down house & get on with the building works.

but before i start moaning blogging about DIY hardships again, i thought i’d post about my last sewing project of 2013 – festive christmas elves :)

(***this is not any kind of “how to” – please do not copy and PLEASE do not pin any of my photos onto effing pinterest. thanking you.)

when i was a kid… at christmas, we had these slightly cool / slightly creepy christmas elf decorations of mom’s that came out every year. (i think they were from germany from when she was a kid… mom? and pictures?)
anyway, my half-remembered mind-picture of them was my sort-of inspiration for these…

christmas elves

i knew before i started them, that they’d be my last project of the year, so it was a conscious decision to build them really, reeeeeally slowly and add all the teeny tiny details that make them so fun (for me to make).
instead of worrying that at 23746368576587 hours they weren’t really economically viable.

product development.
(although, tbf, i was also finishing off other projects during this time) = supernatural, season 5
design development
(it’s hard to believe how much polyester fluff fits inside such a tiny creature!)

cutting & sticking.
(i spent EPISODES hours cutting out miniature eyeballs,buttons & little pink cheeks. i didn’t end up using the green buttons but i can’t bring myself to throw them away)
cutting & sticking

knitting & stitching.
once i’d made up the hat pattern, they were kind of addictive to knit – they looked so pretty in a heap :) i tend to hoard wool, so i had plenty to choose from – i think the teal ones were my favourite, a super luxurious merino / cashmere blend.
i made far more than i’d need = grimm, season 2
elf hats

i screwed up loads of these at this stage – i blame senile collie dog (lack of sleep. for me.) and the winchesters (the end of season 5 is hectic).
elf face

there’s quite the sad little pile of unfinished rejects that didn’t make the ocd-cut

elf buttons

by this point i was back in the zone. and *suddenly* part way through supernatural season 6
elf limbs

sometimes i have to do hand sewing at the window where there’s better light. i hate having my back to the tv. i had to suspend supernaturals while i did this bit.
sewing up eyeballs

this is the worst part (if they don’t turn out right)
this is the best part (if they do turn out right)
elf birth 01elf birth 02elf birth 03elf birth 04

teeny tiny backpacks for elves to carry gifts of chocolate = house, md season 1
elf satchels

finished! elves have occurred!
chocolate elves

i’d hoped to watch supernatural seasons 7 & 8 too… i wonder if i should make a few more elves before ripping out the fireplace?

81. the one with the zombie snowmen – giveaway (closed) + winner

i don’t normally make anything christmassy for my shop – this is mostly DENIAL that the year is almost over – but i fancied doing something really traditional this year…
embroidered zombie snowmen

zombie snowmen.

i’d been tinkering with a few ideas (i hope i have time to develop some of the others… by christmas 2016 maybe?) but i went with snowmen. in truth, mainly because i wanted to knit some cosy miniature hats and scarves for them :)

i don’t draw much anymore, so my sketchbooking is really basic, and i’m always thinking ahead to what i can realistically do & within a certain time frame. (i’d like to work with real carrots & weave my own fabric from unicorn fur for eg, but things need to be affordable at the end. and not be made out of rotten vegetables i suppose.)

sketchbook snowmen

as soon as i’ve sketched a vague idea, i like to just jump straight in and make the thing,
simplifying or adding detail, making notes and adjustments as it develops.

cutting & sticking

… the problem with being impatient like this starting without a proper, fully tweaked pattern, is that if it doesn’t work first time all that labour intensive applique & embroidery time is wasted. sometimes i’m lucky… sometimes not.

free machine snowman

free motion heart

this is the unpredictable part of handmade that i both love and hate – even when i think i have it “just right”, i never know what’ll apear when i turn ’em.

“you’re like a beautiful freak emerging from a calico chrysalis”
zombie turning

these are all destined for the bin. product development:fail snowmans

no blog post would be complete without a picture of the anakin dog – here she is keeping her nose out. the fruit bowl is the safest place for work that occurs outside of my sewing room.

after knitting 78346535674378563478 teeny tiny hats and scarves, each one was carefully handwashed (i do wonder what the neighbours think about my washing line) so they don’t smell of apples.

zombie hats & scarves

and then the best bit: dressing my little zombie snowmen up in their winter outfits :)

3 zombie snowmen

very limited stock available here (they’re £28 + £3 p&p for a set of 3), but for now…

*** GIVEAWAY ***
so, it would appear that i never grew out of playing dress-up with my dolls.
i also still love colouring in and cartwheels.
what childhood thing do you still love to do? or wish you could still play or do?
don’t be embarrassed, it’ll just be between us – no one else will know, honest.

the winner will probably be chosen at random by a senile border collie.
competition closes on friday, 18th october at 12 noon.
and i’ll announce the winner right here, as soon as possible after the draw.

thanks and good luck!

***EDIT friday, 18th october:

79. the one where august occurred – part 2

part 2 – my birthday week! yay! (*contains more moaning)

while the all-consuming anakin thing was ongoing, august continued to race by. suddenly it was my birthday.

ani was much better by then, but loudly unhappy about being shut downstairs alone. i’m not a good sleeper at the best of times, so by then i was achieving 3 hour bursts of zzz & hadn’t left the house in weeks. i was also severely good humour deprived.
for my birthday treat mum & dad were coming to visit – the plan being to break the monotony of my pyjama dog carer days weeks… but

SURPRISE! birthday flu!

luckily, despite my fever, i had the good sense to warn my (en route) parents of contagion danger.
or i would have, if i could’ve gotten my stupid phone to work.

stupidberry 2

stupidberry 3

*** 1. ^ i thought emailing facebook screenshots to mom’s ipad was sensible.
i had a fever, remember – not just stupidity.
2. not just stupidity. honest.

is it weird to say i had a lovely birthday?

i was thoroughly spoilt by family, real life friends, internet friends … internet friends who’ve become real life friends … customers who’ve become internet friends who’ve … just so much spoiled. and all week long :)

the paradox of me, perfectly illustrated by the medium of birthday gifts.

and something from a cool little shop in belper that always has lots of odd things i covet…
metal mini

anakin approves.  (**for them’s that’s asking… metal sheep is from here sundial style )

Husband had ordered me some beautiful ceramic pieces from one of my new favourites, camila prada. but he knew they weren’t going to arrive in time, so one of his work colleagues made this to tide me over… *snorrrrrrrrrk*
crai prada

…until the good stuff arrived <333
camila prada

one of the best bits about Birthday Week, was finally leaving the house. even if i was dosed up, mildly infectious and had a box of tissues in my handbag. we went to a local pub for a lovely lunch (with fruit juice. meh) followed by – my favourite – tiramasu. i couldn’t taste ever so well, but the textures were lovely!

nipped in to buttons & bows for a fabric fix on the way home and…
(well, as of now, i have a few pieces in there. i’m pretty much done with stocking real life shops, but this is different – no faff,  just a few things made with fabrics bought from her shop, and it’s so very, very local :) )
robin sketchbook

meanwhile, dad and Husband had walked on ahead to see how anakin’d fared during her first Home Alone.
all was well! the dog that could not walk had leapt onto the couch, rooted around under the cushions, become entangled in my knitting, leapt off the couch, run around the room a bit… i wish they’d taken a photo of the devastation.
ah well, the big shredded hole in my new scarf will always remind me of Birthday 2013 :)


she does seem to like my NOT FOR DOGS knitted stuff.

72. the one with the fancy zombies – giveaway now CLOSED

after a busy couple of weeks, i took a few days “off” to work on something new i’ve been wanting to get to for ages.
since march, in fact. when my sister, little black heart, had given me a new drawing to embroider.
i’d also been hoarding some beautiful hand dyed silks that caroline rose art had given me a couple of years ago, that i’d been saving for “something special”.

it may’ve taken me years months to get started on this, but once i did, i let my obsessive nature take over and spent all weekend sewing *bliss*

zombie lady purple
(embroidered canvas available here )

it’s been lovely working with silk for a change – it’s given the zombies dresses a gorgeous sheen – and i love the subtle variations in colour of caroline’s hand dyed fabric.

zombie lady pink

( 5 x 5″ canvas SOLD here )

the colour palette of the fabrics is quite muted, so for a change i used grey cotton to embroider the detail – i think it’s given them a lovely corpse-like pallor :)

zombie lady blue purple
(similar 5″ embroidered hoop available here)

and i enjoyed having a tinker with various sizes, formats & colour combinations

fancy zombies

another happy-making thing that occurred last week, was on facebook

so to say thankyou to my loyal customers and facebook likerers, i made this fancy zombie in a hoop just for you.
well, for one of you.

zombie lady blue

*** GIVEAWAY ***
now, i’ve just been so busy lately, i’ve been neglecting my tom hardy tumblr-stalkering obsession. to be in with a chance of winning this lovely zombie lady, just tell me, who is your secret celebrity crush?
don’t be embarrassed, it’ll just be between us – no one else will know, honest.

the winner will probably be chosen at random by my canine daughter, anakin.
competition closes on sunday the 23rd of june at 12 noon.
and i’ll announce the winner right here next monday morning.

thanks and good luck!

67. the one with my routine

when Husband was off work for a couple of days, i realised how much i cannot function if i don’t stick to my normal work day routine.

i don’t work every day (though usually i do. just because i love it, plus it makes the voices in my head shut up), and sometimes i work on a weekend day (and pretend i’ll take a day off in lieu during the week).
it doesn’t bother me which days i work, but if the plan for that day is sewing then sewing is what i have to do.

i know i’m obsessive, but my day literally falls apart if i can’t do what i want follow my usual schedule.

working from home requires structure & discipline, and it’s very glamorous so i thought i’d tell you all about my day(s).

1. no matter what time i set my alarm clock, anakin will wake me up an hour earlier than that.
alarm clock

by going, “mmmmmMMMMMMmmmmmmm” whilst leering over me.
“5 more minutes, collie dog!” buys me 5 more minutes, but then it’s a more persistent
“mmMMMMMMMMMMMmmmmmmm-RAH!” and she stands over me, pawing at my face.

time to get up.

2. i boil the computer & the kettle on my way out for a ciggie, and then settle down with tea to do admin things, such as facebook and stalking.


i also try to answer messages, emails & address labels for orders that’ve come in overnight but it goes various amounts of badly depending on how sleepy i am.

3. after i’m washed ‘n dressed (i use the term ‘dressed’ very loosely – it’s a version of pyjamas but with a bra) housework is next.
yesterday i accidently left out the bra part, and *for shame* i bumped into my neighbour while i was in the front garden – she was all perfumey and dressed up proper, and i was asylum hair, sock-ed feet, fag in mouth, dumping an armful of beer bottles into the recycling bin.
i will try harder to remember about a bra in future.

4. coffee time!
this is the best bit of the day – entering my beautiful, clean, well ordered workspace and figuring out what i’m going to make that day.


at this point it’s not even lunch time so i know i have many wonderful uninterrupted sewing hours of creativity ahead of me and…

“what’s up, anakin?”

*go back downstairs*

she’s alerting me to the fact the washing machine cycle’s finished and it’s time to hang stuff out on the line. (she wouldn’t actually care, except she gets to carry the peg bag out for me which means a REWARD)

helper collie / anticipation of biscuits.

5. i finally get to start work.
sewing bums

i had some zombies that just needed sewing, turning, stuffing & stitching so i thought i’d get them finished off first. stuffing & handstitching is good on the days when i’m enjoying whatever dvd series i’m currently working through. it’s the gilmore girls at the moment.

the last 2 episodes of season 3 look like this

miniature zombies are slow going but satisf…


6. i usually work through lunch, catching up on more of my very important small business related stuff
more admin

7. and then it’s back to the gilmore girls work until Husband comes home.
yesterday, i spent all afternoon cutting out hundreds of body parts for future zombies, but i overdid it, kinda.


once i’ve told Husband about my day, i usually go back up and do a bit more work, or important computer things, but yesterday, too much tiny & too much hunched over = migraine. so i stopped work early and we watched tom hardy films until bedtime.

normally, every day is similar to that ^
but today i slept until 10 and i’ve done nothing at all – i didn’t even bother getting dressed – Husband is due in from work, so i’d better go and select a tom hardy dvd for us to watch this evening. structure & discipline.
^ *achievement*

56. the one where i sew my finger

subtitle: the one where i learn the difference between


and down

i’ve been (saying i’m) going to take a little break from sewing for ages – just to give my fingers, wrists, hands, shoulders, neck & eyes a good rest. the first 3 months of the year are usually pretty quiet selling-wise, so i’d planned on it being then.

but then january
fiona t jan 2013

and february
fiona t feb 2013

yesterday afternoon, i was LITERALLY working on the VERY LAST THING!!! when *suddenly*

fb first aid 01

fb first aid 02

luckily,fb first aid 03facebook is great in a first aid emergencyfb first aid 04

fb first aid 05


fb first aid 06

readers of a sensitive disposition should look away now

gruesome sewing injury

54. the one with some kind of giveaway – now closed (& WINNERS)

2012 was punctuated by crap for me, but so much good stuff also occurred and i sewed so very many things (to make the voices in my head shut up)


to say thankyou (like a bribe) for sticking with me, for supporting me and for buying stuff from me, i wanted to have a little giveaway when i hit 400 sales in my folksy shop, or when i hit 2000 likes on facebook.


but because i’m a bit rubbish (look, i had 7 seasons of supernatural to watch. it’s all about priorities) i’m just getting round to it now.
better late than never, eh?!!


my new year resolutions for 2013 were simple:
1. get my s*** together and sort my life out.
2. stop using the floor for fabric scraps & snipped threads. use the bin.

it’s only the 7th of january and so far i have failed in both.


what was your new year resolution, and – most importantly – have you failed yet?

the prize is that i’ll make the winner something nice. whatever they want**
(**DISCLAIMER: to keep it in the realms of reasonable, either a sketchbook or a gadget case or a purse.  and to keep it within the realms of possible, an existing design – zombies? flowers? zombie flowers? squint at the tiny images above, or have a look through my sold items on folksy for ideas)


the winner will probably be chosen at random by anakin.
competition closes on friday the 11th of january at 12 noon.
i’ll post the winners name here, and be in touch shortly afterwards so we can discuss your prize.
if entering my giveaway from outside the UK you agree to pay postage.

thanks and good luck!

***edit  friday 11-01-13
congratulations BIGFATBIFFA (i know who you are) and AMY AMES AMY – i had to pick 2 winners after a great response like that. thankyou everyone x
winner 1

i’ll be in touch later today so we can figure out your prizes!winner 2