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It’s All Going On!

How is it already December!? We’ve been really busy with Christmas Markets in various places around the city. We had our first stint at the cathedral market a few weeks ago and will be there again as of Monday (yes, we’re working on layouts and packing boxes in preparation today). It’s been great to see some of our regulars and meet new people as well. We also loved the Christmas Light Switch On; it was mad but it was great to provide crafts for all of the many, many people who came along.

While Mattie and Lisa have been wrapped up warm at the market, the rest of us have been working on our webpage; making it look all sparkling and new. We now have more of our lovely things available with free delivery for orders over £25. You must go and check out the pictures of our fabrics (complete with swirly fabric picture don’t you know) which just look beautiful.

Our lives have been filled with packing parcels, heaving boxes in the rain and the phrase “err… where is that button/bead/random craft item” while manically searching through the chaos of our office. But we have LOVED it!

So the question is, where now? While doing aaallll of these things we’ve also been searching for a new place to call our Bunyip home and we may well have found it… As we speak Mattie’s husband is working on the electrics (isn’t it great to know an electrician) in our potential new shop. As soon as pen goes to paper, we’ll let you know. Fingers crossed!

 

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News from Bunyip Basecamp

This autumn is a very exciting time for us here at Bunyip Craft. We witnessed a bit of a miracle when we managed to fit our whole Fore Street shop (and then some) into a miniature office. But it is an office that is surrounded by golden leaves and the breathing space we need to write our next chapter.

The main star of this next chapter is you. We want to make everything that you loved in our store still be available to you. It’s both exhilarating and scary. We’ve spent 16 years running a bricks-and-mortar shop while dabbling in online sales on the side. Now we are flipping this around, putting everything from Aida to Zips into our web shop, learning a million new things about running an online business along the way. We’re having discussions about post office runs, competitive prices, and the most effective marketing.

At the same time, we are still strong supporters of buying locally. Bunyip Craft will pop up in Exeter all throughout the festive season. We’ll also organise an easy pick-up option for our local customers to save on postage costs: shop online, and we will bring your treasures to our market stalls for you to collect.

Come and see us at the following markets:

Thursday, 1st November, 6.30pm – 9pm
Exeter Festive Shopping Event
Exeter Castle
The event is hosted by Devon Wooden Spoon and supports local children’s charities.
Advance tickets are £6 each or 2 for £10, and include complimentary prosecco (Tickets are available from Hyde & Seek)

Saturday, 1st December, 11am – 5 pm
Etsy Made Local Exeter Christmas Market 2018
Exeter Phoenix

15th – 23rd November, 10th – 16th December
Exeter Cathedral Christmas Market
Cathedral Green

We’re very much looking forward to seeing you all again!

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August Sewing Challenge… Kind of

Lets start by saying how good I’ve been at keeping up to date with my sewing challenge… Sadly last month wasn’t quite as much of a success. The theme was ‘outerwear’ and I decided on a 50s swing coat so it was never going to be made in a month anyway but I’ve made steps towards it so I thought I’d give an update.

I had a genuine meltdown trying to decide on my fabric; I knew this was going to be a special make, potentially a forever coat. I got some samples and spent a whole day moaning to anyone who would listen about my dilemma (sorry Annett!).  In the end I decided on this beautiful teal merino wool with this bright cotton lawn fabric

So where am I now? I traced the pattern onto Swedish Tracing Paper (after actually ironing my original pattern pieces) and have cut out all of my pieces which was terrifying. My next step is to book a lesson with the very talented Jamie Kemp so that I can get sewing (you didn’t think I would do this one all on my own did you?!).

So my plan is to make this one alongside my other challenges and I have actually made a start on September’s. I wanted to make more use of my overlocker which I only ever use for seams. I plan to do some research and also have a go at rolled hems which I’ll update you with as I go but I also wanted to make a garment almost entirely on the overlocker. It’s great for sewing jersey as the stitch allows some stretch still. So I decided on the TATB Joni dress (again) with this beautiful teal fabric. Although it was quite scary cutting off my seam allowance as I sewed, it was so quick and easy. I also found it was a lot quicker to sew in the clear elastic on the shoulders and waist.

So now I just need to find time to make a coat while we move our lovely shop to a new space and as the new school year has started. Easy…

 

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Bunyip Craft: the next adventure

Bunyip Craft will close it’s current bricks and mortar shop door for the last time on Sunday 23rd September.

It’s also the day of the fabulous Fore Street Flea so we want to have a really lovely day of celebration for the whole street. The response to our closure announcement has been overwhelming, and lovely, but always tinged with sadness for our customers and ourselves. It’s been tough. I’m not going to deny that writing this is hard.

The hunt for new premises has been thorough, nothing has magically appeared, as I think maybe I’d hoped. We’ve looked everywhere, but nothing has been available that is the right size, location and price for us. When you have to sign a long lease, the shop space has to be right for that commitment to be made.

Having said all that, there is brightness on the horizon. I’m working on a project that if it comes to fruition will be incredibly exciting for the whole creative community in Exeter. It’s had a great response from the people I’m working with already and we just have to all cross our fingers that it comes together. You will be the first to know if and when it happens…

In the meantime, Bunyip will be going into an office space. I might have a bit of a break, after 16 years in retail, I think I deserve it!

We will be working hard to make our wonderful website www.bunyipcraft.com the best it can be, along with updating our Etsy shop, MadebyBunyip. New photos, descriptions and products coming soon!

We’re looking forward to having some time to reinvent our creativity, I can’t wait to get making again and to have the time and space to design, create and experiment. Something I’ve really struggled to do while running a shop on a shoestring staff level. We’ve had lots of lovely offers of space for our workshops, from other shops, cafes and pubs, so we’ll be working on a new selection of workshops soon.  Our craft nights in the pub are a definite goer, with a wonderful independent pub keen to host, water and feed us, we can’t wait to get working on them. We’re going to be at the Cathedral Christmas Market from 15-23 November and 10-16 December, come and find us in front of the Cathedral. We’ve been accepted for the Etsy Made Local Exeter fair on Saturday 1st December at the Phoenix too. So we’re not going to disappear, far from it, I’m really hoping that all the ideas I haven’t been able to work on can grow and become the seeds of a new beginning for us. Retail is changing massively, so maybe this is just the beginning of the new face of retail, rather than an ending.

We have lots of amazing bargains in the MEGA SALE that’s started already, pop in for super deals and low prices on lots of stock. We really appreciate every purchase, online and in the shop while you can, each sale means we can carry on running Bunyip for a bit longer and carry on bringing you all your favourite crafty goodies!

Sign up for our newsletter on the home page, and like us on Facebook/Twitter/Instagram to stay in touch with our progress, we’ll be very keen to tell you all about it.

Thank you for all your support, encouragement and kindness over the past 16 years; Bunyip is a fundamental part of who I am and it’s the customers who have made it the friendly, inclusive and happy business that it is.

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July Sewing Challenge – Trousers

My challenge for July was to make trousers; I made trousers at the beginning of the year but there were a few issues that I wanted to perfect. Controversially for a sewing project which I knew I would be writing about on a blog… I didn’t take very many pictures..  But here it goes anyway!

I decided to use this Simplicity pattern which is unusual for me as I very rarely use any of the more commercial pattern companies. I had also heard that Simplicity patterns aren’t actually very simple at all… I loved the floaty style though so decided to give it a go.

I wanted to be sure that I had a good fit so made a toile before I started. Last time I did this, I didn’t add the zip and just pinned where I thought it would close; this just wasn’t accurate enough! I didn’t need to make the whole length of the trousers as the bottoms aren’t fitted so I now have a nice pair of calico shorts…

I used a light fabric for optimum ‘swoosh’ factor. Even though there is swoosh, this fabric was not fun to work with; it was really slippery when I was cutting and sewing it! But also the needle kept catching and showing the white base of the fabric weave; apparently it’s because the pattern is dyed on after manufacture. After hopping on to the Sewing in the UK Facebook page, people suggested that I use a ballpoint or finer needle; I’ll definitely try that next time I work with a similar fabric. Luckily these parts aren’t obvious on the finishing trousers.

This pattern has a zip at the centre back of the trousers so I couldn’t use the same method I’ve used before for attaching the two legs together (putting one leg inside the other). So there was a bit of a headache while I tried to make sense of the diagrams and confusing language in the pattern. It seemed to work in the end though and there aren’t any holes in the crotch region so that’s a win.

I must admit that I did have to wing it a bit with this pattern and I did go off piste and just did what I thought would work. I’m a very visual/kinesthetic learner so bare-minimum diagrams just don’t work for me! I have enough sewing knowledge that it was fine and the finished trousers look like real trousers.

One reason that it’s taken me this long to finish is because I got to a point of almost finishing in July, then thought that the style didn’t suit me. I’m still not 100% sure but the tie belt makes a big difference. So now that I’m at a point where I’m not embarrassed to share it with all of you, here it is!

My August challenge (that I’m starting 13 days in) is going to be a 50s walking coat… Wish me luck!

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June Challenge – Slippery Fabrics

I can’t actually believe that I’ve stuck with this challenge for a whole 6 months! I honestly thought I’d do January then get bored… but I’ve surprised myself and have managed to persevere. So last month was working with slippery fabrics and as Devon is going through an insane heatwave, I decided to work with velvet. Yes, velvet in 30 degree heat! So I won’t be wearing this dress any time soon but I couldn’t resist the beautiful fabric and it definitely fitted with the challenge as it was indeed slippery.

I found out quite quickly that velvet looks different depending on which way up you cut it. One way is light and the other creates a rich, darker colour. Of course the first piece I cut out was the light version which I didn’t like as much so there was much swearing, re-cutting and really trying to squeeze the pieces out of the fabric that I had left. Now this is fairly standard for a sewing project but cutting velvet is an actual living nightmare and I wasn’t best pleased with having to do it more than I had to. As you would expect, it slips and slides all over the place. There were lots of sharp pins and a rotary cutter involved and it was still tricky.

After a good couple of hours I had all of my pieces cut out and couldn’t resist fitting them on my mannequin to see how it draped; I just love how it looks on the skirt pieces. And this is how it stood for the majority of June… standing there, looking pretty but very much not in a ‘finished dress’ way. It’s not that I didn’t have the time; I made several other non-sewing challenge items. It’s that I thought that if cutting the fabric was as bad as it was, what on earth would the sewing be like?

In the end, I needn’t have worried as I finished it all in a couple of hours and didn’t come by very many issues at all. I think this was down to a couple of reasons: lots of pins and a walking foot. The only time I had a problem was right at the end when I was rushing the waist and didn’t bother to use as many pins as I had before so of course both sides slid away from each other.

I didn’t actually try to sew this velvet without a walking foot but I imagine the outcome would have been messy and inaccurate. The foot works by providing an extra set of feed dogs for the top of the fabric being sewn so keeps everything where it should be. It meant that my sewing was stress free and my fabric wasn’t chewed up or destroyed.

I’ve learnt that slippery fabric (or at least velvet) isn’t too horrendous if you have the correct tools to make it work. I’m pleased with the dress and, even though I can’t wear it any time soon, I will be well kitted out for any Christmas parties that might happen!

So here is my Christmas dress… in June!

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Bunyip Craft, an update: week 1

It’s been a week since I sat down to share the news that Bunyip Craft was on the move. It’s been an incredible rollercoaster of a week, with tears and smiles, cake and support from all over the world and lovely, lovely comments and suggestions. I’ve had a piece on Devon Live and been on Radio Exe. I feel held together by the care, compassion and belief of so many people; friends, customers, family and people I’ve never met. Sometimes all your hard work is repaid in kindness.

The strong possibility that we’re not going to find a retail space to move into is slowly dawning, I was hoping something would instantly jump out of the bag, but it hasn’t happened so far. Please keep spreading the word for us.

Really genuinely lovely people have offered to share space with us, with so many different concepts that my business brain has been spinning. I’ve been offered workshop space, party space, a couple of bespoke jewellery range possibilities, those DIY craft pub nights are most definitely going to happen, I’m not the first person to think of the shared makers space and have some of the bigger influences of the arts community on my side.

I’ve been out and about: looking at trading estate office spaces, community spaces, searching about in Topsham, out of the way city shops, city centre offices and more. I have a list of the possible spaces, with pros and cons on each, none are exactly right, though some are very close. I’ve come to a few more realisations; I need to be in cycling distance of my kids school, the main change for us as a family, is that my husband is going to be working full time, so I need to be able to do school pick up and don’t want to get in the car everyday. If we do take on office space, while we wait for a retail opportunity to come our way, then it’s going to be much easier if it’s on the University side of town. I need to be able to store all my stock, paperwork and shopfit, so the office space can’t be tiny. I want to carry on doing parties and workshops, whether out of the office space or from some of the other spaces I’ve been offered, I’d like to be able to do ‘open days’ from any space we take so that customers can still come and see us and the stock before they buy.

I’m petrified of not having the day to day footfall and spend of customers. I really want to hold on to my wonderful staff, and will need to pay for any space we take on, so will need to carry on taking a decent sum each week. Can I do that from only my online sales?, will anyone want to take my crafty kits and jewellery wholesale? Can I have some time off before I start the next adventure, to get my head together and allow some creative freedom? It’s beginning to look like I need the cheapest yet biggest office space I can afford, which isn’t much to ask…

Meanwhile, Bunyip is still running as brilliantly as ever, the Sale has started on lots of end of lines so come in and grab them while stocks last, I will keep on adding more as time goes on. I’ll keep you updated on any further developments in the land of Bunyip Craft.

Enjoy the sunshine, we are!

 

 

 

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What happens next?

I like to think I am an endlessly positive person, especially where Bunyip is concerned, but this is a tough one to write and has been a tough decision. I’ve come out of the other side of the shame and failure, and am trying really hard to see change as good.

Bunyip Craft is on the move once again. The costs in our big, beautiful shop have become too onerous, despite cutting every cost to the bone, lowering staffing hours and working in the shop as much as I can. Business Rates have gone up twice since I’ve been here, and in the last re-evaluation the percentage discount the shop used to get for being landscape shaped rather than portrait shaped was taken away too, so my rates are almost entirely made up of retail zone A, ouch! Being over the VAT threshold doesn’t help either, with VAT at 20% many businesses struggle at this point of their growth.

My lease is up on 1st October and I just couldn’t afford to re-sign it. This is not because we’re not a successful business, we have a good take through the till, and online, but the costs are too high to be able to make the maths work and customer spend is going down. Our footfall is steady, as is our number of sales, but sales are getting smaller as customers feel the pinch and worry about their own incomes, Brexit and the world economy.

So, the upshot is, we are looking for a new premises, something more affordable, smaller certainly, but nothing right has presented itself yet. We would love to have a place with an office and workshop space, so that we can carry on with our parties and teaching, as well as the shop. We don’t mind where it is really, we hope we have the customer loyalty and brand recognition to take being off the main drag. If you know of anywhere, please get in touch, all offers considered!

This might be a chance to change the way I run the business, I’ve been running Bunyip for over 15 years now, and with 2 kids and a husband who can work more hours if I give him the time, life has changed a lot in that time.  I have loads of ideas I’d like to work on, I’d like to wholesale my jewellery making and sewing kits, along with making jewellery for other shops, I’d like to do more shows and craft fairs, I’d like to have time to spend on my website, Etsy shop and blog, I want to run DIY craft pub nights, I want to host Pop ups all over the place, I want to teach more, I want to have the flexibility to be able to run with an idea or offer that comes my way. I can’t do any of this at the moment because I have to be on the shop floor to sell a 40p metre of elastic or 6 buttons. I’m grateful for every person who’s bought that 40p metre, don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t have survived without you, but this might be time that I get to put my entrepreneurial and creative hats back on.

Retail is an ever fluid market, and the times, they are a changing. I think the future of retail may be in shared spaces, people working together to have the presence and knowledge each business needs to survive. I would love to be part of something like that in Exeter, and be as present in the fight for supporting Independent business in Exeter as I’ve ever been.

Please get in touch if you have any ideas, spaces for rent, wholesale opportunities or just want a chat, I’d love to hear from you on mattie@bunyipcraft.com or in the shop… for a while longer!

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May Sewing Challenge – Stretchy Fabrics

Now that The Contemporary Craft Festival is over, I can finally get around to writing about my May Challenge (yes I’m aware that it’s now the middle of June!). I challenged myself to sew with stretch fabrics for this month as I’d never done it before and I actually really enjoyed it. I’ve always heard horror stories about how hard jersey is to sew with but I didn’t have any issues and would definitely recommend it to anyone who is feeling a bit nervous about it.

I decided to start by making the Joni Dress which is in the Tilly and the Buttons Stretch book. I used a relatively cheap fabric so it was quite thin and very stretchy. I realised that I’d have to do things differently to when I sew with woven fabrics when I tried to fold the fabric and got all of this puckering. No way was it going to be possible to cut accurately with scissors so I decided to use my rotary cutter and do pieces that were on the fold individually. I have no idea why I don’t always use a rotary cutter! It is so much easier; I’ll definitely be using it for all of my cutting in the future and it was perfect for this jersey.

Before I started sewing, I changed my needle to one specifically for stretch materials, changed my stitch to a zig-zag and kept my regular sewing foot; so easy so far. The first instruction was to attach clear elastic to the waist and shoulder seams which stops them from stretching out after wearing the dress a few times.

Now the real perk to sewing with stretch fabrics is that sleeves are a doddle! Everything can be stretched in to place perfectly. I inserted the sleeve ‘on the flat’ which was so easy and all I had to do was match up the notches and then sew up the sides of the sleeve and bodice. I’m pleased with the finished dress but I’ll definitely be making it in a slightly sturdier fabric next time.

This was the first month when I decided to make two items for my monthly challenge! As I was flicking through the book, I came across the Stella Hoodie and decided to give that a go as well (not that I ever do anything even remotely active…). I bought some lovely teal sweatshirt fabric and matching lining and jumped straight in. I actually managed to make most of this in one evening from cutting out to being able to wear it. The only thing left to do is the hem at the bottom as I didn’t have a twin needle suitable for stretch fabrics.

Most of the hoodie was really straight forward, the only thing that was slightly different was having to stabilise the buttonhole so that it didn’t pull out of shape. Again, the sleeves were easy peezy and even the cuffs worked well. So now all that’s left is to take up a sport …

 

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April Sewing Challenge: A Shirt

As my sewing challenge continues, I’m stepping it up each time. This time I challenged myself to a fitted shirt. I decided against a collar in the end which kind of seems like I’m cheating but there’s always next time.

I decided to use a pattern that I made a while ago with the help of my sewing teacher at the time. We took my measurements and drew up the pattern together; it’d be quite a good exercise for me to draw it up again to see if I can remember how to do it at some point. It definitely looks more complicated than it is!

I did a double check of the pattern as I made it a while ago and wanted to make sure that the sizing was correct, luckily it was still ok! I decided to use a nice plain turquoise fabric that I had bought when I was in Thailand. I have made so many patterned skirts and trousers that I needed something plain to go with them.

I decided to be over cautious with this make as the fabric was quite slippery. So that meant loads of pins and tacking stitches which turned out to be a huge help.

After the palava of my sleeves challenge, I was dreading setting them in. This was really nice and simple though; I have no idea what I did differently but at least I managed it without wanting to throw my machine out of the window.

When I started trying to pair the finished shirt up with what I already have, I found that it goes quite well with one of my me-made skirts. So here is the finished outfit; perfect for when I need to be a bit smarter!