Wednesday, 28 September 2011

change of scenery!

Good morning lovely bloggers. I am SO sorry for not blogging for ages, so many changes and I am the worlds most lazy blogger.
I will try to update you a little with the world of Sue, not that its exciting, but here goes!
Well.... where do I start?
The Seamstress has moved house and changed a little! Where we were situated on the business park was in a ‘prime location’ and although we had an introductory offer on the rent, it was going to be mighty expensive when the offer expired. So, I went back to the landlord and asked them which of the couple of still vacant units was the least expensive. They had this one (Number 31) which had been empty for some time as it has no parking space directly outside. Basically you have to walk up a path from the car park, but honestly its only about 25 paces! The rent was easily affordable even on the quiet weeks, and this unit has a large window where I have plonked my machines, and now I benefit from having loads of natural light. As I am at the end of the path, I hope to be able to string lights outside into the trees for the Christmas period!
The other change is the demand for my ‘old range’ of textiles. I am repeatedly asked for quilts and cushions, cosies and corsages, so I am slowly introducing some to the shop, as it had gone from totally vintage to being mostly bridal.  So I guess The Seamstress has its very own ‘Vintage at The Seamstress’ range, and I suppose I am a bit of a ‘one-stop anything sewn’ shop!
The other advantage of being on this site is that since I arrived here I have introduced some friends within the local wedding industry to the site too, and they in turn have helped fill the site with like minded small business owners. One of my very good friends runs her wedding cake business from a few doors down and pops up to me every day with samples...not good for the waistline that’s for sure!
I had the pleasure of going over for afternoon tea with Karen of Tilly Rose last week. She is very lovely and has a fabulous barn where she works and holds sewing/crafting workshops. If you are in the Peterborough area,  it is well worth a visit. I am going over for her Secret Tea Party next week, so if you are too, see you there!
Well, I better do some work... I managed to obtain a small fridge yesterday and am hoping to pop to the local co-op and stock up on some ice cream for the next few days as its going to be a scorcher. I for one, will have my chair outside and quilt in the sunshine.
Take care and bye for

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

getting a little tougher...maybe!

Good evening lovely people
I am told I am too ‘soft’! I am sensitive, by my own admission and I do tend to worry about what other people think of me as a person. I would like to think I will treat others in the way I would like to be treated, too. I think it’s great to help people, and where ever possible, if I can, I would try to.
Recently, to my detriment, I think I have ‘given too much away’! My partner Chris has politely pointed out that I tell all, too readily, and sometimes it leaves me a little open and enables others to use my information to my own disadvantage!
It seems, in business, it is good to play your cards close to your chest and this is a lesson I must learn. You see we had a visitor to the shop and we chatted at great length but after several hours of me being accommodating and friendly, and despite me desperately trying to ‘get on’ I realised the information gleaned and my approachable nature left me wishing I had just simply been pleasant, but business like and more efficient with my time. I should not give away my business ideas, hopes and dreams.
I find it hard to be unwelcoming as naturally I am a chatty, bubbly person, and certainly with customers, I find myself making them tea and hearing many a tale whilst discussing their requirements, and I believe this is part of the service.
In the past, because of my good nature, I have lost out in business for fear of creating a situation or confrontation. Instead of standing my ground, I have simply walked away, knowing I was right.
 But now the stakes are higher. My premises are more expensive and professional. My status in the business has improved and I am being recognised and rewarded. So I must toughen up. It’s not about being ruthless and feisty, but strong and confident, but still providing excellent service, with a smile. But I shall be watching out for that ever so friendly caller with an ulterior motive ;-)
sleep well lovely people
love Sue  x

Monday, 25 July 2011

Just a little update!

Good evening folks,
Sorry its been a while, again, I am such a naughty blogger! I really must try to improve  the situation!
Its been a very busy month, we opened the new shop/studio on 1st June and its been very well received. The Seamstress is going from strength to strength and I am so optimistic about the future; I get up every day with renewed vigour and cant wait to get to work, and its a lovely feeling.

I had worked from home on and off for years, but seeing the demand for couture dressmaking increase I simply couldn’t expect clients to shimmy past my dining room table for a fitting. The Seamstress is a light, modern unit, and I have changed the shop around so many times since we opened I am sure my partner Chris feels dizzy!

I am busy with dressmaking orders and alterations, the bulk of which are currently bridal. I know this will be seasonal and am looking forward to be able to complete more bespoke dressmaking  when the bridal alterations subside a little as the season progresses.

I have spent some time researching this week, as I have had quite a few gowns into the shop which have been a little problematic to say the least. These gowns have been ordered from abroad, and the biggest issue being the bride has ordered a size she feels may fit, but they are tending to ‘come up small’. The other issue is the quality is a little ‘poor’ in places, the finish isn’t brilliant, and the colour (when the bride chooses something other than white) can be rather different from the intended shade.
It is very hard to start a business from scratch and increase your orders, especially when the competition seems too good to be to true, price wise. I have been a dressmaker and craftsperson for many years, and previously doing this for ‘additional’ income was definitely easier to competitively price than when you have to make allowance for the business premise outgoings.
A few weeks ago I offered my lifetimes’ stash of vintage materials for sale. Seeing the direction of my business change so definitely I decided I no longer had  the space or the time to make textiles and very few of the garments I now make utilise the fabrics I had been lovingly storing for years. I was fortunate enough to be able to pass the collection on to a really lovely woman called Karen, whose blog I had read from time to time. see her lovely goodies here
Karen has recently embarked upon a new project herself, taking her business from entirely web and direct sales based to a fabulous new Vintage Craft workshop where she will assist fellow crafters and newbies with beautiful projects to treasure. I wish her well! I actually wish I lived closer, as even though I only met Karen once, if felt like I had known her for years!
Well, I better go, I promise I will be back again soon and I will upload some more recent photos of the shop, complete with new rail full of ready to buy gowns and rosey fitting room!
Take care and see you soon
Love Sue

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Fathers Day

Good evening lovely people,
I am so sorry for the massive gap in blogging, I WILL fill you in - I have been mad busy with the new shop.... good news, but have hardly touched the lappage!
Enough for now, will be back tomorrow, just time to add a little verse I have just penned, sort of sums things up.

Its Fathers day today, that man we hold so dear
And i’m sending out my loving thoughts to dads no longer here
The dad who takes you fishing, or fiddling in the shed
The dad who tells you off then tucks you up in bed
The dad that watches world of sport and grumbles at your mother
The dad who hogs the remote control, there really is no other
The dad who works so hard to ensure you have the best
The dad who does overtime and is always last to rest
The dad who goes before his time and leaves a massive hole
The dad who you feel still around – he fills your heart and soul
So if your dad is still in the world, give him a big hug from me
Happy Fathers day to all the dads, I miss mine you see.

Love to you all
Sue xx

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

News of Norfolk

Good evening all,
I hope you all had a lovely weekend. After an early morning 'event' dress deliver, we packed and got ready for some 'time out'. We went to Norfolk on Friday to spend the weekend with some very good friends of Chris, and it was great.
On Friday we set off just before lunch after stopping at Mums for a quick cuppa, Chris driving at a plod pace for him, saving on the fuel!!!
Although we were staying in Fakenham, we found our way to the coast, driving through many pretty seaside villages, looking for more than a sand bank and distant view of the tide! I wanted to throw some roses into the sea, not that its symbolic, I was just being a mushy bird and wanted to do it to mark my Dads birthday. Nice thought, but most of the coast we visited in the first hour or two was adjacent to ‘The Wash’ and the tide was well and firmly ‘out’.
Our last port of call before heading inland was the very pretty ‘Cley Next The Sea’ where we headed out to a shingle beach and after climbing over the mountain of pebbles we found waves.  We ceremoniously watched our roses float away and bimbled back through the village, a mixture of cottages, tiny shops and guest houses, complete with windmill restaurant and B & B. Definitely one to put on the ‘must visit and stay sometime’ list.

After a pleasant evening with our friends, Saturday dawned bright, warm and calm. We took the steam train from Holt into the very lovely Sherringham, where we enjoyed the market, the crab and lobster festival and some time on the beach, even having a paddle in the chilly sea!

The town itself is busy and traditional, with a lot of the shops being small independent retailers, refreshingly the town wasn’t the same as every other high street. And of course I was drawn to every fabric/dress/wedding shop, as usual!  A large number of the shops had signs in their window, drumming up support for opposition to a planned supermarket development. It was obvious that any massive superstore would ruin this gorgeous place, and the town would end up like most of the other high streets in this country – closed and ‘to-let’, such a shame.
Anyway, I shall get off my soap box, for now!  Norfolk was welcoming and pretty, coupled with the great company we had, it really did go too fast and I for one, cant wait for the next time we all get together again .
On the work front we had our phone and broadband installed today, so it means I can photograph and upload from work, which will help. I am just finishing off a list of orders  and can now concentrate on filling the shop with one-off dresses and vintage style wedding gowns. I have got to get myself a curvier mannequin, as my old bird is rather skinny! I have been watching them on ebay, but they all seem to be miles away, buyer collects!
I am currently reserving  models to suitably show off the new range, and fortunately my daughter and her friends are on-hand and keen! Us girls, we will always love a good 'dressing-up' session.
Well, better go for now, need to put another wash load in before bed and I am yawning away, as usual! Bye for now, see you soon
Love Sue x

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Birthday thoughts for Dad

Today is my Dads 80th birthday. Those of you who know me are aware that Dad died just over a month ago after bravely trying to fight the effects of a massive stroke, eventually letting mother nature take him to a quieter place.
We surely would have gone out and done something special for his big day, so I am sending out much love to family and friends who would have been with his today to toast him with ‘half a lager shandy’!
The sunny chair in the corner of the conservatory is peacefully silent most days. Dad isn’t there flicking through the paper, passing the time of day, or rattling dried peas in his personal pigeon shooting stash on the coffee table. Dads catapult hangs still on the back of the chair, and happy pigeons flutter on by.
Mums been up today to lay flowers, and tended to the still blooming funeral flowers from his bright but sad day only two weeks ago. I am sure Mum said a few birthday words to Dad in a whisper.
Mum misses him terribly, she is so strong but I know she has her ‘moments’. We all miss the old bugger. Him leaping out of the chair to twitch the nets when someone drove by.  His memorable words of ‘CAFE’S CLOSED’ when we came in and Mum disappeared to the kitchen to put the kettle on, Dad knowing she’d return with a small spread!
We are away this weekend, not far from the North Norfolk coast, so I shall go to the sea and throw in a nice pink rose from the climber around my front door and I shall remember the good times and send Dad some love and birthday thoughts to where ever he is now. And maybe have a bit of pigeon pie, that’d make him laugh.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Sweets and Shops

Good evening folks,
I hope this finds you well! I thought I ought to fill you in with my goings on... in between seriously sewing like crazy!
Having spent the last 30 years dressmaking, most of it on a part time basis for additional income, and now and then dipping the toe into 'craft shop land',  two weeks ago Chris and I went to view some new premises as it was becoming impossible to work from home any longer. I have been increasing my orders weekly, and dressmaking in a small studio at the back of our house is now proving difficult. 
The final realisation that there are people out there who will buy a quality, hand made, unique British garment has pushed me into making the move into commercial premises. We trawled the internet for somewhere suitable, not necessarily a shop due to massive rents, and came back to a company called ‘Evans’ who offer light industrial, workshops and office space in Nuneaton, about 3 miles from us. Well, they pride themselves on ‘easy-in’ process and we viewed one day, had the required checks and had the key the next day – brilliant.
The studio can be used for retail but is primarily a huge amount of light, clean, new workspace. Admittedly, I would have loved a tumbling down house with sash windows and a fusty carpet, but being realistic this is ideal for where I am at. I have a small stock of clothing, but as I have been mostly making to order for some time, I do have some serious work to do to fill my rails. I will post a few pics of the new gaff!
My intention is to have a small sample selection, but to primarily 'make to order' specialising in one-off, couture Bridal Gowns. I have done my home work, and feel the market is now flooded with cheap import frocks, which seem to be porr quality, and small to say the least. So bring on the English roses, I will make your bridal dreams come true!
On a cost saving front I am making is hitting Tate and Lyle and Bassets in the pocket. You see I have felt a bit ‘off’ for a while, and after a visit or two to docs and some blood tests, the lovely but skinny doc has told me off in no uncertain terms. I am a proper trough-er , I indulge my ample self in home made cakes and a copious amount of confectionary every day. turns out I am borderline diabetic with a blood sugar running at about 10.9..ooops. I HAVE to adopt a sugar free diet, or else the insulin might be beckoning, and I don’t want that! I  am scheduled for some more tests, so I hope to have reduced the numbers by then. I have been sugar free for a week almost and it so hard! So I will say goodnight for now, I am off to bed soon, to dream of sherbert dibdab.