Sunday, 31 July 2011

Focus on.....

Focus on.... Jo Bailey Designs

Jo Bailey Designs, run by Joanne Bailey, offers a bespoke clothing service. She can make formal wear, bridal wear, evening dresses and even corsets. What’s more she also makes jewellery so can make the clothes and accessories for your special occasion.

She also teaches sewing either as 1 or 2 days courses on a specific subject, or a series of 1 to 1 sessions in the evening. Subjects offered include make a skirt or sleeveless top, make a dress or pair of trousers and even make your own wedding dress. To find out more about her sewing classes please click here.

For more information about any of the services offered by Jo Bailey Designs please visit:

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Focus on...

Focus On... Dragonfly Fabrics

Newly launched online fabric store Dragonfly Fabrics specialise in designer dressmaking fabrics but also sell craft fabrics too. Designers on site include Valori Wells, Anna Maria Horner, Tilda and Hilco. They stock several different types of fabrics including cotton, flannel, corduroy, jersey, bio linens and cotton voiles.

Having worked within the London Fashion design industry for over 15 years Dragonfly’s owner Dorte recognised the need for quality dressmaking fabric to be made easily available online so she set up Dragonfly Fabrics.

You can also find patterns on the site including the Ottobre design magazine full of great kids patterns, and a range of ribbons including the gorgeous Tilda ribbons as pictured here.

To visit Dragonfly fabrics please go to:

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Benefits of running a home based business

Whilst sitting in my pj's watching Desperate Housewives whilst I did my work the other day got me thinking about both the upsides and downsides of being self employed, and working from home.  So I decided to make a little list, to help those of you who might be considering the idea.  Please do tell me of any i've missed, or what you like/dislike most about running a home based business.

  • You can choose your own working hours (although this can be affected by outside factors such as kids) but I love the fact that I can stop and start when I want.  If I want to pop to the gym or shops I can, or if I just want to stop and watch a film/read a book I can. 
  • No work wardrobe - I don't know about the rest of you who work from home but after i've done the school run I change info comfy 'slob out' clothes before starting work and it's so much nicer than having to worry about having a work wardrobe: Are your work clothes smart enough? Did I wear that shirt last week?  Can I get my favourite work trousers through the wash & dryer before I leave for work? etc.  On the same note you don't have to worry about hair and make up either.
  • Flexibility - It fits pretty well around kids, in the school holidays I can be here in the house with my son. If he has an inset day or sick day I don't have to worry about getting time off work or sorting childcare at short notice. I can take lunch when I want, have breaks when I want and as many as I want.
  • No commuting! No waiting at bus stops stressing about why the bus hasn't arrived yet again, no walking 20-30 mins through the rain to get to work, no being stuck in rush hour traffic jams.  Simply roll out of bed, go downstairs and you are at work :-)
  • Work environment - You have total control over your work environment, if you want to watch tv or listen to music whilst you work you can.  If it's too hot or cold you can change the heating/open a window without having to consult anyone else. 
  • No sick pay.  Plus generally no matter how rough you are feeling you still have to keep working as there is noone else to cover for you :-(  Same with holiday pay too, plus even if you do manage to arrange a few days away you come back to all the work as there's no one to cover whilst you are gone. 
  • Distractions.  I don't know about anyone else but if I see a job around the house that needs doing I feel obliged to do it so end up spending an hour of my day doing housework when I should be working.  Equally if I know i'm halfway through a good book, or have a good program/film recorded it's very tempting just to stop working and read/watch instead.  Also in the holidays/after school you have the kids distracting you too.  You need to have good self control to make sure you actually get your work done. 
  •  Lonliness.  It can get quite lonely when you have noone to chat to, I do sometimes miss the office gossip and having someone next to you to talk things through with.  Facebook, Twitter & e-mail do help a bit but it's not quite the same.  Plus you don't get the out of hours social life, work outings, team lunches etc. 
  • It's hard to stop - When you work from home it's very easy to work almost constantly.  Your work is always there right in front of you, it's pretty much impossible to just stick to 'work hours' and I generally find myself working evenings and weekends as well as during the day. 
  • Pressure -  When it's just you all the pressure of earning money, getting things done on time etc is down to you.  You can't delegate, you don't have colleagues to help pick up the slack plus you no longer have the cretainty of a fixed wage anymore.  Of course that does work both ways, some months you could earn more than you ever expected, and other you may earn less than if you were working else where.  If you need to earn a set amount in order to live then it's quite a pressure having to make sure you get that much every month.
However, despsite the downsides I have to say I much prefer running a home based business to working in an office for someone else.  I've got so much more freedom both creatively and in regards to the hours I work, breaks etc and it's so nice to choose your own work routine and not have someone else tell you how you have to do things.  I think if I had to go back to an office job now it would be a big shock to the system!

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Focus on.....

Focus on....Made By Jill

Made By Jill is run by Jill Greenwood who is an experienced dressmaker offering dressmaking and alterations. Covering Loughborough and the surround areas Jill can offer a full bridal service, including wedding dresses, bridesmaid’s dresses, gentlemen’s waistcoats and cravats. She can also make prom dresses and special occasion wear.

She also has an embroidery machine so can embroider designs onto your clothes, logos onto work wear etc.
What’s more Jill is happy to pass on her sewing expertise and offers sewing tuition on a one to one basis (or you can bring a friend) so you can learn how to make or alter your own clothing.

To find out more please visit their newly revamped website:

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Fabric Giveaway

Fabric Giveaway with Mrs Sew 'n' Sew

We have teamed up with Northampton haberdashery Mrs Sew 'n' Sew for our new competition.  They have provided 3 great fabric bundles as prizes, the top winner gets a gorgeous bundle of Tilda fabrics, and the 2 runners up get to choose a bundle from the bundles shown here.

For full details of how to enter please click here, plus please remember to answer the question or your entry will not count!

Saturday, 9 July 2011

Focus on..... and giveaway!

Focus on...Fabric With Love

Fabric With Love stock a range of gorgeous contemporary quilting fabrics from designers such as Moda, Michael Miller, Free Spirit, P & B Textiles and Anna Maria Horner amongst others.

They sell their fabrics by the metre and in jelly rolls, layer cakes, bundles and charm packs. You will also find a range of accessories such as cutting mats, needles, wadding and threads so you can buy everything you need from the one site.

They have some gorgeous all in one quilt kits, containing everything you need to make the quilt, for under £25! I love this cute puppy kit pictured which costs £18.95 and can be found on their site here.

What's more we are running a giveaway with Fabric With Love where you can win one of these quilt kits for yourself.  For details of how to enter please click here.

With free delivery on all orders over £20 what are you waiting for? Visit now!

Saturday, 2 July 2011

Books, blinds & relaxation

Image from
Hi everyone,  sorry it's been a while.  I do intend to update this blog every weekend but somehow there's just never enough hours in the week! I haven't done any of my 'Focus On...' posts for ages to introduce you to some of the great businesses on the site but will try and write a few up over the next week.  I've been trying to go for a better balance of personal posts v business posts on here so you'll be reading more of my ramblings from now on.

 I've been thinking lately about time (and where it all goes!).  I've been trying to get a better work/life balance after working myself into the ground the first half of this year an making myself ill.  However, I seem to be incapable of doing nothing (please sometime teach me how to!).  I have cut back the time I spend working and have been going to the gym, and to a Welsh class instead...but technically that's probably still not helping as i'm still busy and seem to never have any time just like before.

On the plus side I have finally found the time to start sewing again.  Practical rather than pretty things at the moment, I made 3 blackout blinds for the bedroom (which i've been meaning to do for months!) and now I can actaully sleep until 8am instead of 5, makes such a diference!  I've now got another 3 to make for another room now...

Also in anticipation of one day having some free time I've bought myself a Kindle!  I've wanted one for so long and have finally saved up enough to get one, I also treated myself to this wonderful Kindle case from Baggie Aggie.  I know I should have made one myself, but it wouldn't have looked half as good as the one she made!  So now I just have to work out how to get a few free hours in the week so I can read...

So I have a few questions for you all:

How do you make time to relax?

What do you do to relax?

Finally, any good book recommendations?  Some fairly easy going, i'm getting quite into chick lit lately as that's farily easy to read and not too taxing.
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