In 2018 I joined in march Meet the Maker hosted by Joanne Hawker on my Crafts by Katie page. I wanted to join in again but thought I would share it here about my online fabric shop this year. So much thought and planning went into each day that it seemed a shame that it gets lost in social media when it is all over so I have logged it all on this blog. In February when I was planning, I enjoyed reading what I wrote last year and comparing how far I have come is really interesting. I look forward to looking back on 2019 and see how I compare next year.
Day 1 - Favourite to Make - My favourite thing to make are my keepsake quilts over on my other page Crafts by Katie. I started making them over two years ago and I am currently working on my 100th one. I love it for so many reasons. Quilting is a big love of mine and this allows me to do my hobby for a living. I love that clothes are put to a good use where they can be appreciated for years and years rather than staying in a box or going to landfill. Kids clothes come in so many amazing patterns and designs that they always look completely different from each other and tell a story.
Day 2 - How You Started - I have always been "crafty" and I started making little things for craft fairs in 2012. When I became pregnant in 2015 I focused on my favourite things to make which were my printed baby clothes and keepsake quilts. I planned on making clothes to match the bodysuits I printed and then I got so busy with quilts I didn't have the time. I had already placed my first wholesale fabric order so I had a lot of fabric that I no longer had time to transform myself. Alas, The Fabric Squirrel was born. Now I have best of both worlds. I sell beautiful fabrics that I can play with and create tutorials from but I can also keep creating my keepsake quilts.
Day 3 - Flatlay - since I am tuned into @createcrafttv and just got a little mention, thank you @littlemissdressco I though I’d share a picture of the two tutorials that will be coming out next week. I’ll be stocking these gorgeous Miffy Fabrics too so keep your eyes peeled!
Day 4 -Tools and Materials - Material is my middle name (well sort of) so I have been looking forward to March Meet the Maker day 4. What you may have gathered already is that I sell 100% cotton fabric. It has so many uses from home makes to dress making and quilts, I just love it. I am also a carrier of Tula Pink hardware and loads of ribbons and pretty trims. I only buy materials that I love and would be inspired to use myself. I only ever use Tula Pink hardware for all the sewing I do and all of your fabric is cut using my rotary cutter.
Day 5 - Close Up - I always try and get a few close up photos of my fabric because they often have so much pretty detailing that you can't appreciate without holding it in your hands. I try and take pictures and write descriptions that make it as close as possible to buying it in a shop. This is one of my favourite fabrics at the moment and the houses are around 0.5-2cm wide 🏡
Day 6 - Full or Part Time - This is my full time job alongside looking after my little dude. He will start nursery for more hours next month which will be strange and sad but also very exciting for all the plans I will finally have time to do! I currently have Monday and Wednesday morning while he is at nursery and most of the other work gets done in the evening when he is in bed. It is especially hard since he stopped napping in the day and I often work till 10 each night but it's totally worth it. This fabric is from my explore the oceans range and is part of the prize in the competition in have running. If you love it, make sure you have entered on my original post and check out the lunch box I made for George to take to nursery 🐋🐬🐟
Day 7 - Less glam side - I don't think what I do is particularly glamorous at the best of times. It's hard to be creative and be tidy so I am often on my own surrounded in half done projects. This morning was spent crawling around on the floor getting pictures done followed by stories in our den (under the dining table).
Day 8 - Product range - I mainly sell 100% cottons and my collection grew again today with the arrival of Mary Poppins! More pictures will follow over the weekend but they are all listed on the website already, they are from Camelot and are printed on premium cotton. I also carry Tula Pink hardware and a great range of ribbon and trims. I absolutely loved putting together Advent Boxes last year so I will be creating something similar in the future.
Day 9 - Story behind name - We moved house around the same time The Fabric Squirrel was born so I decided to wait until we moved to see if inspiration for a name came to me in the new house. We are really lucky to have a great garden with regular squirrel visitors and the number on our door has a squirrel on it. Like many of you, I squirrel away my fabrics for when they are needed so The Fabric Squirrel was born. The bottom of our garden was abandoned for years so is known as the secret garden. We found this painted stone last week while we were gardening, isn't it beautiful?
Day 10 - You - I am Katie Done, I have a nearly three year old and married Dan last year on our 12th anniversary. I am 30 this year and have been working for myself since 2017. Before that I have done many jobs including working for the Alzheimer's Society, helping make our communities more Dementia friendly which is something I am still passionate about. I have also worked in training and coaching in a call centre and numerous roles in hotels and restaurants over the years. Fabric is my life and my brain doesn't switch off from it but occasionally I like to venture out of the house and spend time working on our secret garden. This is my Great British Sewing Bee week 3 challenge, a maxi dress. The fabric was picked up while we were on honeymoon last year in Barcelona and this was a great excuse to transform it into something I can wear.
Day 11 - Reducing waste - reducing waste and plastic is something I am really passionate about. If you subscribe to the mailing list you will be familiar with my Less Waste Make tutorials. I am always reducing waste in as many things as I can in my home life and in my business. I always buy loose fruit and veg wherever possible, use soap instead of hand wash and shampoo bars. Our latest swap at home was getting our milk delivered! I send as much as possible in my plastic free packaging from Lil Packaging. When plastic can't be avoided or recycled I squish it into an eco brick and will one day build something with it in the garden. All my scrap fabrics go to George's nursery or a local school and I save a of of packaging I receive and give it to my neighbours who have their own business selling vintage tools.
Day 12 - Hands at work - this is me in my room cutting all the Mary Poppins orders over the weekend. I really love unfolding and admiring the fabric before I send it to you. I always use my rotary cutter and ruler so it is accurate 🙂
Day 13 - Photography - When we first looked around our house, before we had even put an offer on, I knew this bedroom floor needed to be my new backdrop. I absolutely love our bedroom and when we first moved in I would sit up in bed before going to sleep just to admire it. It is where I take all my fabric photos but I take my blog photos in my craft room either on my cutting mat or white desk. Until last week I took all my photos on my iPhone but I am now on team Google and got my Pixel 3 mainly for the camera. So far so good, I am really pleased with how my photos are turning out.
Day 14 - How I learnt - I have always loved all things crafty but it was my Grandma Jo that first introduced me to a sewing machine. As a young teenager I remember her taking me to a little fabric shop near Bradford and helping me pick out some purple fabric. She then helped me make my first patchwork cushion. It was from then on that I had a love of sewing and taught myself most other things with the help of Pinterest. It was a few years after that we lost her to cancer. I was given this pattern kit of hers so I decided to frame it and keep it pride of place in my craft room. She would be so proud to see what I do now and would be very excited to see my treasure trove of fabric. This is the fireplace in my craft room where I keep all my fabric paints from The Arty Crafty Place and my Tula Pink Hardware. I obviously don't use the fire because of all the fabric but it's one of my favourite parts of my room ❤️
Day 15 - Motivation/Goals - My motivation has always been my little boy. Working for myself means I have been lucky enough to see him every day and watch him grow and learn. When I told people I wasn't going to go back to work after maternity leave and I was going to make quilts and sell fabric, I got some funny looks. Who is buying fabric and sewing nowadays? Well as I am one of those people I knew that the makers community is massive. It wasn't that I wasn't supported because my husband and family have always been really supportive but I still needed to prove to them and myself that I could make it work. As far as goals go I am hoping I can write more blogs for other fabric designers and add a few more designers to my shop in the next year or so. I am already really excited to be stocking some Lewis & Irene fabrics later in the year.
This is George in the greatest showman jacket I made for our trip to the circus and as my week two Great British sewing Bee challenge. We also tried out the new matching game I made this morning and it went down well.
Day 16 - Work space - My work space is rarely tidy but when it is, it looks fab. My fabric is always stored away nicely but cutting up baby clothes for my keepsakes is always messy and I often have boxes of clothes that I am working on piled up. The care labels that have been cut off seem to get everywhere! This is my fabric corner and sometimes I just come in here just to admire it and make me smile. As you can see I am rapidly running out of room which is why I am running a sale at the moment 😉
Day 17 - What I'm working on - I always have loads of projects and tutorials on the go and I'm writing about three at the moment but this quilt top is one of my favourites. It's from the zoometric panel I have. I love how it has turned out but I can't decide how to quilt it yet.
Day 18 - Mistake or lesson - I use my seam ripper most days. We can't learn without a few mistakes. Sometimes I like to embrace my mistakes and leave them as they are. This is one of #365blockadaychallenge I hadn't noticed the mistake until a friend pointed it out but I am going to leave it as it is. Mistakes help tell a story and show your progress.
Day 19 - Dream collaboration - basically working with any fabric to show what it can be transformed into is a dream collaboration. I have some gorgeous collections due in from @figofabrics and @northcottfabric this year and I would love to do some work with them. I was really proud to have made these place mats for the @craftcottoncoand @hobbycrafthq last year. I definitely need to get organised and do a little local collaboration with some local crafty ladies too @jimjamdesigns @abisattic @lauramadeit @olliepopsdesigns @wolfandwildfloweruk @nellynoodles06 @oh.so.grey @teddybobbins @ethelandgeorge
Day 20 - Design process - I'd love to say that I plan and sketch and measure as part of my design process. But I don't. I basically just think up ideas during the day or when I'm trying to sleep or I am inspired by the fabric. I then just make it straight up from my head. I often have to write down and work out a few calculations but often I base the size of things that makes the most of the material I'm working with. I made this gorgeous bag for the post runs using a panel that I have in stock. I have included a zip inside but I used a zip I had removed from another item so I worked around the size of the zip. The free tutorial is available on the blog.
Day 21 - Throwback - Today's #marchmeetthemaker is throwback. Since a lot of the first fabrics I stocked are all in their new homes, I thought I'd share my very first tutorial. I made this reversible pinafore dress for a friend's little girl in her favourite colours. It is a nice easy make and I believe it still fits so is good for ages 18 to 36 months ish. It is still available on the blog page of my website. I would love to see if you give it a go
Day 22 - Proud of - I had already written today's prompt for #marchmeetthemaker and then this little dude came up to me this morning and asked if he could do some sewing. So yea I am proud of my little business and how it has grown in the last 18 months but I have done it around this little man and he makes me proud every day.
Day 23 - Top tip - if my sewing machine is playing up I have a check list of things I try: 1. Rethread 2. Change needle 3. Clean I clean my machine every few weeks but I use it most days so it isn't surprising how quickly the dust builds up. So my tip is to clean and look after your machine.
Day 24 - Reviews - I have an amazing 306 5 star reviews on Etsy which I am super proud of. I get a lot of positive comments about customer service and fast delivery. It is just little old me and I reply to messages as soon as I can. I am lucky enough to have a post office within walking distance from us so I make trips there most days to ensure you get your fabric as soon as possible. If you have ever been happy with your fabric squirrel order I'd love it if you could leave me a Google or Facebook review. With just 4 on Google and 15 on Facebook it looks a bit sad at the moment 😞 while you are there leave some reviews for other small businesses, it really does make a massive difference. I wrote about this in my wedding blog too and left reviews wherever I could for all the lovely people that helped with our wedding. It also helps your own Google score which also helps your own business win win!
Day 25 - How it's made - all the makes you see get written up and shared on my blog for free! Hopefully they give some inspiration on what you can make with the fabrics I have in. I take lots of pictures as I go for those that need a visual like me. I have been working with these today for a gift for my little boy's birthday. This @bosalfoamandfibre is my new all time favourite thing!
Day 26 - Self care - I have finally managed a good work life balance. I spent a lot of years just sewing for other people and started to lose the joy. I now make sure I make things for myself and have been spending more time in the secret garden. There is still a lot of work to be done but it's getting there and our first crops have started to appear! The bottom half of the garden was left untouched for around 5 years so you can imagine what it was like before. This is the very end of the garden and we will keep it as our wildlife area but it still needs a bit of taming. At least we can get to the apple trees now!
Day 27 - Anything goes - well today we spent the day in London as a birthday treat for this little dude. We went to the @natural_history_museum wearing his natural history museum explore the plains t-shirt and we had a fab day! We found Andy's clock from @cbeebieshq. Tomorrow is a day in Legoland 😁
Day 28 - Packaged - I have spoken a bit about how I package my items and am trying to reduce my plastic so I thought I'd put the lime light on someone else. I am making loads of switches to natural plastic free products and received a few items last week. Despite them all claiming to be eco friendly alternatives the only one that came in plastic free packaging was my shampoo and conditioner bars from @thenaturalspacosmetics. They arrived in a re-purposed box and shredded paper. I was so happy! It was also the best smelling package ever. I think we just need to change our perception of what beautiful packaging is. If I see something wrapped in cellophane I just see unnecessary single use plastic. From now on when I order online I will leave a note to use as little plastic as is possible to deliver the item safely.
Day 29 - Hardest make - please excuse the terrible photo. This was 2012 after all. I made this dress for a Christmas party using a Vogue pattern and it was the hardest thing I have ever made by far. Over 50 pieces to cut and fabric flowers all made by hand. It was fully lined and boned and took me weeks to make but i felt like a princess so was totally worth it.
Day 30 - Support - I couldn't have set up my little business without the full support of my husband. He has never doubted me and always fully supported any of the decisions I have made. I have no colleagues so it can be hard sometimes to know if I am making the right decisions or when you just need share something positive or something I am worried about. He's always there to talk to and encourage me with everything I do. He's my real life superhero ♥️
Day 31 - Products in the wild - well I made it to the end of the month! I hope you have enjoyed seeing some behind the scenes. I absolutely love seeing what you create with the fabrics you buy. These safari ears by @ear_all_about_itseemed like the perfect share for an out in the wild theme. I have run a maker of the month competition every month for the last year but march has been really quiet. Make sure you tag me in your makes or use #thefabricsquirrel to get involved and I'll be doing a double giveaway next month to make up for it. Make sure you check out the Your Gallery page of the website for inspiration.