Sunday, 5 August 2012

Fisrt time round the market block

After 3 frantic weeks at Global Headquarters, Ree and I sat back and gazed upon our creation, all be it pack in boxes and garment bags. At 7 o'clock last Friday night, there was nothing more we could do.  The garments were pressed, the threads were snipped, display had been finalised and we were ready to make Gus & Kitty's first public appearance.

Needless to say, sleep was sparatic on Friday night as I dreamt of what might be, good and bad. I knew there was nothing more that we could do but being me, I was sure I could tweak one more thing, check the market box for the sixteenth million time or just sit and keep vigil over our precious stock like a mother hen.


Saturday morning arrived, dark and cold.  Nervously, I got myself ready. Messages from fellow first time stall holders arrived, venting our early morning nerves and pumping each other full of encouragement. I was hoping against hope the my weet bix would stay in my stomach. There was no time for a calming cup of tea. Adrenalin kicked as I drove to collect, Ree, my partner in crime.  8 o'clock on a Saturday morning in the middle of winter, is a lonely time of the day, not many people about.  As I drove past familiar houses I could imagine kids watching cartoons in pj's, party goes arriving home to the calling comfort of their warm beds and the early morning cups of tea and coffee being had over newspapers. Part of me longer to be one of them but the other part of me was far too excited and anxious to greet the public and let G&K loose on the world.

Hugs and squeals of nerves and excitement filled the venue as we all began to roll up, being greeted by the ever comforting face of our seasoned market leader, Dee.  Trestles were set up, chairs tucked underneath and our positions revealed. We were comforted to find familiar faces of Make Craft Your Business Alumni, around us. To our left was Miss Lizzie and her beautiful Made By Timapno Homewears, directly opposite, Kate of Emalaide and her amazing softies and crocheted blankies and hats, as well as dress. Slowly but surely our stalls came to life.  We desperately wanted to oooh and ahhh over each others creations but there was no time. As we hung bunting and poured hair clips into dished, the Helper of all Helpers, the awesome Samantha arrived, full of energy and good ideas.

Before we knew it, it was show time!  Ree and I huddled together with Sam as we awaited the first customers.  Ree nervously pointed out the people coming through the door and let out one of her trade mark squeaks.  I felt like a swan, calm on the outside and paddling for dear life on the inside.  Once the first few customer floated by and smiled, some stopping for a look, I felt much better.  All those years or retail and customer service training came flooding back and I was in a familiar head space.  People commented on fabric choices, how pretty things looked and then there was the first sale.  We quietly congratulated ourselves and got back to it.

Throughout the day, family and friends came to wish us luck and even make a purchase.  Having familiar faces in the crowd was so comforting.  I was especially happy to see two familiar faces in particular, my two boys.  My poor husband has been hearing about this market and stock for months and has nodded and smiled and commented like a champion.  And the real life Gus, I'm sure has wondered where his Mum has been at times.  But seeing him with his "Gummy" in our little shop, making a rock start appearance, made my day.

Before we knew it, it was 2 o'clock and time to pack up. It was sad to dismantle our little shop but it was designed that way.  A debriefing late lunch was well deserved and essential.  We were all of the same opinions and feelings, with a few extra insights from our fellow diners.

All in all it was a great day.  Much was learnt and gained from our first time around the block.  As teachers we were well organised, as visual creatures our stall looked just as we had planned and although we didn't sell out (a long shot I know) we sold more than we expected and gained a few customer orders as well.  The public (those whom we didn't know and those whom we did) liked a product with a few of the customers coming back more than once to look.  Even if they didn't buy something it was very interesting to observe what it was that they were looking at, touching and asking about.  Even a few customers gave some suggestions about products and add ons that we could investigate.

None of this could have even been possible without lots of help, especially on the day.  Sam is an absolute super star.  Her retail knowledge, customer service and merchandising skills were priceless, not to mention her calming and reassuring presence.  We also need to thank our master builders, my brother Mick and my Dad, our babysitters Nannie Frances, my sisters in law, Erin and Sarah and brother in law Brighty, the ever patient and supportive Husband, Andrew, and our friends who are an endless source of encouragement and support.

There is one last person to thank, Ree.  Many people cannot imagine working with their mothers. Others have told us of the jealously when they see how well we get along and work together.  I'm not sure that I could have started a business with another person.  I am lucky that we know each other well enough to know how the other works, when the other needs time out or when they need that extra gentle push. 

So there you have it.  Our first time around the block.  May there be many more.

Lots of Love
Kate xx

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

The Calm Before The Storm

Well folks, we are at "T" minus 3 sleeps and counting to G&K's first market outing.

The last 7 days have been super productive, at times super stressful and above and beyond both of these, very rewarding, especially when we stood back earlier this afternoon and gazed upon our creation.

This time last week, I could hear Ree cursing leggins and weggins (which she doesn't want to see another pair of for a long, long time) and the sound of pen on paper crossing jobs off and adding others to the never ending lists.  We were thankful for the gadgets that make sewing sooo much easier and "Makita" our faithful boom box borrowed from my brother, Michael.

Speaking of my brother, a big thank you to he and my Dad for making display units and structures that will no doubt survive the Armageddon along with the cockroaches.  Between them they too have some seriously cool gadgets, ie Milwaukee the all singing, all dancing drop saw.

This week, Maree has taught me the boring joys of painting with high gloss enamel paint.  All those years of late night painting came flooding back to her.  If we thought we could use a found item and it wasn't white, it soon was. 

Now the bunting is painted, the table cloth ironed, the items placed and the pricing is everywhere. So all thats left are of all those horrid little jobs that no-one really likes doing but are necessary. Extra stamped cards, threads snipped off, garments pressed and the tetris-like job of packing it all in the back of one car.

And just in case you haven't already seen, heard or read the flyer, here it is one more time.  10-2, 99 Leinster Grove Thornbury.  All handmade, local and way to fab for words.  See you there.

See you on the other side of the storm.
Kate xx

P.S. Here is a sneaky peeky at some of Saturday's wares. Kxx

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Our First Market: The Prolouge

The time has come fans of Gus & Kitty to go public.  On Saturday 28th July we will be at the Made'n'Thornbury Market.  Come on down and say hi and support Gus & Kitty and a whole host of fantastic other local women artisans.

Happy Stitching

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Good bye old friend... Hello new friends

There comes a time in every sewers life when we must bid a fond farewell to our trusted and loyal machines. You share good times and bad, they have been the savior on many occasions and the bane of existence on others. But you are never mad at them for long. We give them names, stroke them and tell them how much we love them and secretly (or loudly) curse them when they misbehave.


I learnt to sew on my Mum's Janome affectionately dubbed, Jenny Janome, not dissimilar to the picture above. For years she hummed along, making all of mine and my brothers clothes, fancy frocks for Mum to wear to weddings and that and a few capsule wardrobes for my grandmother to take on her adventures around the county. She saw me through my secondary school textiles projects and even a tutu or six at uni. In her old age, tension was an issue, stretch wasn't possible and even reverse became too difficult. Sadly, Jenny was replaced by a newer and fancier (computerised) model.


The new machine can do everything. I think if we were desperate, it would sort and fold the washing for us. Automatic threading, bobbins that wind with a flick of a switch, feed dogs that actually feed!!! The fabric was flying, we could hardly contain our excitement. The following Christmas another Janome arrived. Maree and I are were like dueling banjos, except on machines.


While at uni, I finally bought the long coverted overlocker. No more French seams, double turns and don't even get me started on the joys of stretch. Who knew the world could be this way. Joining seams and finishing at the same time! I would hug the overlocker, sing to it, sing along with its gentle hum. I never looked back. Until the other day...


With our first market date drawing ever closer, Maree and I have been stitching away. Last week, however, it was not the gentle hum of sewing machines or the always comforting "schwook" of metal cutting through fabric. No no, the air was filled with frustration and the gritting of teeth. Ree had spent an hour or more wrestling with the overlocker. For some reason the green thread was not cooperating, unthreading itself, snapping and Lord only knows what else. After my own unsuccessful attempts to wrangle the beast I cried, "that's it!!! I've had it with this bloody overlocker! Ree we are buying a new one!"


On a Tuesday afternoon, not so long ago, we welcomed the newest member of our machine family home. We were like children on Christmas morning, squealing and clapping. Unlike children on Christmas morning, however, we read the instructions. Our old machine was second hand and didn't have instructions. The only information we had were my scratchy memories from Swinburne and even that was limited to industrial machines. Reading the instructions was like entering Aladdin's cave. How to correct tension, roll and narrow hemming, decorative finishes. Our heads were spinning.


"What did Jesse Knowlan say? Press as you go ladies!" I have this sewing mantra permanently burnt on my memory. Jesse Knowlan (I think that was her name) was Maree's sewing teacher at school. And it has served me well! But in order to press as one goes, one requires an iron that gives off considerable heat and steam. And so, a new iron was purchased. I asked the salesman if it was a stealth bomber as well, but he assured me it wasn't. It's slick and shiny and boy does it give off steam and heat. Fingers + steam = OUCHY!


Every sewer, professional or amateur, has a machine or gadget that you love. I myself have another machine whom I cannot part with. He is an ancient Myer Victor that was given to me. He has cams that create the different seams, my personal face is the sailing boats. His tension is shot and and it's been a long time since I've used him, but I still cannot part with him. One of my new faves is the bias binding maker. No longer do I struggle along making it by hand. A few quick cuts and a seam or two here and there and it's thought the machine and presto! Bias binding galore.


I dedicate this post to all those sewing machines, overlockers, irons and other beloved sewing gadgets that have gone to a better place. We will always remember the good times. We miss you.


Kate xx


Monday, 18 June 2012

Global Headquarters

Ask Maree and I where we do our sewing and have done since before the dawn of time, and the answer is always the kitchen table. We have tried to set up in other areas but there was always a snag in the plan, babies need rooms to sleep in, family members return from overseas and need to reclaim their bedroom. Both more than valid reasons but it leaves us back at the kitchen table. In a two bedroom town house and a busy family home, kitchen tables just aren't the answer.

We searched for a solution and there was really only one answer, Maree's lounge room. There were just a few things that needed relocating, couch, washing, kids toys etc.

And so the transformation began.

And slowly but surely, global headquarters began to take shape.

Then we moved in. More like I moved my sewing equipment and fabric and...

Then finally it was done. We even have an office area.

There was no excuses left. The sewing really needed to begin in earnest. As the newly appointed art work reminded us, "Just get on with it!"

Kate xx

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Some more letterbox love.

A very small parcel from the USA created some big smiles. Love love love our labels. Now to attach them to products.
Kate xx

Saturday, 2 June 2012

Success is Mine!!!

There is nothing like a bit of perseistance.  I have spent the last hour or there abouts trying to come to terms with technology and at last, I have wone the battle.  I am well know for my lack of technology skills but they are now increasing.

A big thanks to Dee from Babay Galah, for your help this arvo.  I think it's all connected know.

To Infinity and Beyond.

Kate XX

I wonder what happens if...

... press this button

Friday, 1 June 2012

techno distress

Above and beyond anything else, this blog post is to test a few new things I'm trying to do with other Social Media. I apologies in advance. 

In the words of Lizzie AKA MadeByTimapno- hope you're having a crafter-noon.
Kate XX

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Letterbox Love

I am yet to meet someone who doesn't love getting a parcel in the mail. As a child, there was always a parcel in the letterbox, one for my brother and one for myself, wrapped in brown paper, tied with string and the unmistakable handwriting of my grandmother. I knew from then on my hands would have a very toasty winter tucked away in their hand knitted woolen mittens. Even as an adult I still love the parcels from my Gram that contain a woollen goodie.  

These days parcels are wrapped in special post bags that don't seem to have to same feel but often contain the same excitement. Ordering things over the Internet may have taken some of the surprise I remember as a child away , but it certainly does increase the anticipation factor. Sellers will often give you an estimated day of arrival and I long for the days to go faster. More often than not the anticipation is quenched and the surprises returns when parcels arrive early. Australia Post delivers the goods again! ( I know that they are very unpredictable.)


Over the last week, my little one and I have fallen in love with our letterbox. He, because now he can pull himself up to standing using the slots and gaps for the letters, and me, because there have been so many bundles of love waiting for me.


The first bundle, I must admit, filled me with terror and made my blood run cold, a letter from the Department of Justice. Luckily Maree was close at hand to catch me should I faint. But it was all in vain! The letter was our Business Name Certificate of Registration. Needless to say, there was much jumping and squealing and shaking of hands saying, "congratulations partner!". Poor little man had no idea what was going on but was happy to join in.


The next day just as prosperous. When we first checked the letterbox there was nothing in there but upon further inspection, TA DA!!! A small box tucked in the corner. Our business cards had finally arrived. And they are just what we wanted.

And a few days later, a little business purk for two stationary addicts. Custom pens and post-it notes. They make official business "business" look good.


Hope you are all having a craft-tastic week. If your near your letterbox in the next few days, give it some love. You never know what little treasures you're going to find.

Kate xx


Wednesday, 16 May 2012

A few more things...

With the sun shining through my back door this afternoon, I sat at the machine and started to sew. Every now and then there would be a little extra pressure on the machine foot applied from a small hand in between crawling adventures around the house. The result is 10 new nappy wallets ready to be sold.

Humpy Dumpty sat on a wall, Humpty Dumpy had a great fall! Lucky he had his wipes handy.


I have also been experimenting with oil cloth on the outside for it's waterproof qualities and cotton on the inside. The bagging out is a little trickier but the end result is pretty good. I think they look good and you can still fit everything you need in one package, a few nappies, wipes, paw law cream and nappy bags. Perfect for Mummas on the go.


Red and white spots lined with grey. White with black spots lined with red.


Red and white horizontal lined with solid red. Green and white vertical lined with green and white mini polka dots.

A variation on flocked wall paper. Red and white lined with red. Black and white lined with green.


If any of these take you fancy you can email me or keep your eyes on our Madeit store. Just search Gus and Kitty. I'll put them up there in the next day or two.


Hope you all enjoyed the sunshine today.

Kate Xx


Tuesday, 15 May 2012

From little things...

A few weeks on and things are happening, even of they are a little slow. My dinning table was covered in fabric, buttons, ribbons, threads and who noes what else. But it is definitely helping the creativity flow.

The list of jobs seems to be getting longer, with one thing being crossed off and three new items being added. People who know me well, know that I love a good (detailed) list. I've even found an app that makes list making even better.

I though I would share some of the experiments. I have enjoyed every minute of experimenting and an itching to create more. There is more to come, so stayed tuned and let me know what you think.

Happy creating
Kate xx

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

The First Post!

Well... here I am in the heady world of Blogging.

A few summers ago, my mother, Maree and I talked about making some kids clothes and selling them at a market.  We got very excited and made some test garments (tested on my niece) and didn't do much more.

Fast forward two years and my life is very different.  I am a stay home mum with a love for sewing and baking, looking for a challenge.  One of the things that makes me happy is sitting at my machine, listening to the gentle hum of the engine and piecing together an item of clothing.  So why not make something more of it? Why not start a business? Why not?

After some thoughtful discussions with Maree and some serious thinking time, we decided to do.  We have thought of a name, Plum Tree, a name that has significance and fond memories for both of us.  We have decided on a few items to start making and are currently doing a course to help with a few unknowns.

Stay tuned for more...