Monday, 16 April 2012

The dreaded T word - Tax!

It's that time of year again, start of the new financial year.  Time to balance your accounts and submit your tax return online.  For many of us who are managing our own accounts it's a time we dread and put off as long as possible.  I decided this year I was going to go for the opposite approach and learn as much as I can about tax in the few days before the end of the financial year, keep on top of my accounts and then submit my tax return on the 5th of April to get it over and done with so I didn't have to worry about it.

Well unfortunetly the tax office foiled my good intentions by taking the self assessment system offline for the first week of the financial year! Don't quite understand why they would do that given that they've had between Jan-April to do any necessary system upgrades.

But anyway in my advance preparations I learnt a few things that I wanted to share, firstly I found a pretty useful book called Small Business Tax Planning which I have reviewed here.   As with any book on this subject it would be hard going to read from start to finish, however it's very useful to dip in and out of if you have any questions.

Secondly, I discovered that the HMRC have started running online seminars on a range of subjects for the self employed which are great.  They have pre-recorded webinars which you can watch at any time online or they have live webinars which you can sign up to running several times a week.  Personally I found the live one very useful because after they have a 30 min Q & A session where you can get all your tax questions answered.

I learnt a few useful things during the seminar, including the fact that Class 2 NI contributions don't count as a business expense and therefore shouldn't come out of your business.  Instead they are a personal expense so you should be paying them from your personal funds, or from drawings taken from the business.

If you don't make it to one of the webinars they have some useful fact sheets and advice online, and you can call their helpline 0845 915 4515 Monday - Saturday to ask for help.

The main thing is to remember is that it's easier to keep on top of it rather than put it off and delay the inevitable.  If you get your tax return done now you don't have to worry about it for the next year and can feel smug when you see others having that last minute panic in January! :-)  Good luck with it everyone.

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Fabric Finds 5

There are lots of great new summery fabrics in the shops as well as some great offers on sewing patterns.

Fabric Rehab

Fabric Rehab have got some beautiful brightly coloured summer prints in stock including the pictured retro style pear print.  They also have the new Aneela Hoey collection - Walk in the Woods for sale by length as well as in a charm pack.


Backstitch also have the new Walk in the Woods collection (pictured is Little Red Blue Bell).  They also have a sale running on all their Oliver & S patterns to make space for the new collection which is due shortly.

Calico Laine

If you are planning on making a summer dress or skirt take a look at the floral summer fabrics in stock at Calico Laine.  The prices start from under £5 a metre, the fabric pictured is Firenze summer print in red.

The Eclectic Maker

The Eclectic Maker have lots of colourful new stock in, including Deb Strain Tend The Earth collection, Laura Gunn Garden Wall (pictured), Parson Gray Curious Nature and the Benedictus collection from V & A.

Hulu Crafts

Hulu Crafts have some pretty new fabric packs in stock including the pictured Farmhouse Retreat collection from Makower, as well as Savannah Purple by Bluehill Fabric and Moda Papillion by 3 Sisters.

The Fabric Loft

Have got a few new fabrics in stock including the retro 50's inspired Homespun Chic collection, the fabric pictured is called Sewing Pattern in Pink.  They also have a colourful new charm pack from Moda called Sassy.

Fabric with love have some great new Moda precuts in stock including the Oh La La Jelly Roll and Good Fortune layer cake the latest fabrics from Kate Spain.  They also have some colourful Fabric Freedom jelly rolls, including the pictured Feathers in Bloom.

Monday, 2 April 2012

Quilt in progress

You may remember that at the start of the year I posted about my sewing resolutions for 2012 here which included actually finishing a quilt this year.  I've started quite a few, I love picking the fabrics, planning the design and doing the first couple of blocks and then life gets in the way, the quilt gets packed up and somehow I never get back to it.

So this year I told myself I will only work on the quilt until it is finished and not get side tracked by anything else.  I ordered some beautiful fabrics from Quilt Me Happy (Blueberry Crumb Cake by Moda), I went for the charm packs to save on cutting (I'm lazy like that!).   In January I started sewing the squares into strips of 4, ready to piece into blocks of 12.  Then the foot pedal on my sewing machine broke!

So I didn't sew at all in February, I contacted the machine manufacturers to try and get advice on fixing the pedal and waited for a response.  After getting no reply from them one of my customers Sewing Machine World kindly offered to take a look at it.  I posted it off to them and a week later it was back in fully working order :-)

So I've been sewing a bit over the last few weeks and I've now almost finished piecing the blocks.  I've laid some of them out in the photo below so you can see how it's looking. This isn't the final layout, I've got 4 more blocks to make up then will decide how to put it all together.  But it's getting there, I'm pleased with how it's looking so far and it looks like hopefully I will actually finish a quilt at last!
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