Wednesday, October 22, 2014

September/October 2014 Giveaway

Hello,

I was going to wait for a blue clear sky to take photos for my giveaway but looks like the monsoon season is here to stay.

Once again, I am going to pick 2 winners. And what's up for grabs this round?


First, a House brooch and a pack of 4 Frixion pens.
 
I made the House brooch a short while ago. It's made of felt, fabric, some batting and it's a house of love. I added a bit of simple embroidery. The Frixion pens are the exact same ones I use when I sew or do embroidery. These are very fine - 05 to be exact. When I use these pens to mark on my fabric, I'm very careful and I don't scribble all over the right side of the fabric. The fact is, it is possible to get ghost lines after you iron on the markings. When I use these pens to draw for embroidery, I make sure I sew over the markings. And because these pens make very fine lines, I have no problem doing that.

Next, an elephant brooch and one yard of FABRIC!
I gave up trying to take a decent photo of the fabric. It's a very pretty fabric.

I made the elephant brooch last month(?) and it is back stitch embroidery on linen.

Both winners will also get a PDF of my latest bag pattern.
https://www.etsy.com/listing/204278646/janes-little-boxy-bag-pdf-easy-sewing?ref=shop_home_active_2

How to enter?

♥ Leave a comment on this blog post. Tell me which package you prefer. Frixion pens or fabric. If you feel like it, you could tell me a joke. So, the first winner picked will get her choice and the second winner picked gets the other prize.

♥ One entry per person, duplicates will be deleted.

♥ Please leave your email address if your profile is not tied to your contact info. If you use Anonymous to leave a comment, you must include your email address.

♥ Open to anyone, anywhere who loves houses, elephants, pens or fabric. And yes, even if you've won before, you are welcome to enter. Don't be shy.

♥ Ends 3rd November 2014, Singapore time.

Two winners will be picked by random.org and the winners must respond to my email notification of the win within 48hours or I will pick another winner.

In case you don't know, I'm also at
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Monday, October 20, 2014

News roundup

It's been a while since I shared some news of Singapore. I know a few of you who used to live in Singapore would like that.

A Pizza Hut customer saw red when she found the words "Pink Fat Lady" on her takeaway order receipt. She complained and Pizza Hut apologised.

 Singapore Dove (the soap) immediately seized the opportunity to use "Pink Fat Lady" in a facebook "campaign".



Early this month, a food court was ordered closed after photos of cockroaches were circulated. (here) The tenant was 1983 and I was reminded of my own bad experience with a food outlet run by 1983.


I realise now I should have complained when I was served mouldy bread by 1983 sometime in 2012. (see here) What happened was I told the cashier I was given mouldy bread and you know what she did? Took the bread from me and threw it into the rubbish bin. Not a word of apology. I was so stunned I did nothing but glare at her. After a while the cashier said she will ask the crew to make another sandwich for me but I rejected it as I couldn't eat their bread anymore. After that, the cashier simply acted like I was invisible. I should have asked for a refund! Sometimes I'm so meek. I remember when I found a beetle in a loaf of Gardenia bread many, many years ago. After hubs complained, they sent someone to my home with a brand new loaf of bread, not exactly the same one I had bought but something more expensive. (yes, I still eat Gardenia bread but have boycotted 1983)

The Singapore Sports Hub, opened this year and built at a cost of $1.33billion apparently has been unable to grow grass properly on the lawn of the National Stadium. The pitch is patchy and sandy. It's embarrassing! Well, one thing though. At least we know now they use real grass. Methinks it's the soil and not the grass. Maybe they need some REAL fertilizer to aid the growth. Like bullshit. Hahahahahaha (okay, the bullshit part I stole from hubs)


Lastly, this came out in September. Have you seen this Singapore Ikea advertisement spoofing Apple? It's really funny. I laughed until I cried. Watch here.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

What's the weather like in your October?

Friends,

This whole week I spent most of my time sleeping because I caught a mysterious bug. All achy, head achy, mi-grainy. Today is the first day I didn't take any day nap. The 11 hour sleep I had might have something to do with it!

October is not cooperating with me. It's been humid, hazy, cloudy, thunder storming or just raining. I need good sunlight to take photos for my next pattern. When is the sun coming out?

Oh, a few weeks ago, my girl turned 15. Here she's 5.


Here she's 15.

During the photoshoot for her birthday, I discovered my Nikon camera only had a 2-second delay. I had to run from the end of the table to behind my girl to get myself in the shot. All the photos had me blurry, huffing and puffing except for this one. I think I stepped on my son's foot.

While digging in my archives for my girl's photos, I discovered these rare pics of my mother taken in 2004 at my brother's pink apartment. She never ever plays with us when we were kids. But in these pics, she was showing her grand kids that she, too, could do the hoola hoop.

Hope you're having a good weekend.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Three tests and guess what I'm sending by post?

Hello!

Remember in September (here) when my hearing went all awry. Well it's about 95% back to normal again except for a ghost of shrillness now and then which I can totally live with. It got me thinking. This is a warning bell. My body is breaking down. I'm getting old. I have to be more proactive in taking care of my health.

I have been procrastinating and never got round to going for three tests which I am long overdue for this year. Somehow there will always be something more important for me to do and the three dreaded tests kept getting kicked to the back of the queue. The hearing thingy... that was the kick in the butt I needed.

The first test.
Well, well, well. What have we here? Want to know what's in the envelope? If you answer yes, you'll be very sorry.

I shall tell you anyway. Heard of the test called FIT? Me neither. My mother has from time to time mentioned to me about her going to collect a kit at the clinic, going to the toilet and getting my brother to post an envelope for her. Somehow I never managed to put all the information together to comprehend what she was saying. Now I do.

FIT stands for Faecal Immunochemical Test. Need I say more? Yes, you send your poop in the envelope to the test center. Well, at first, that's what I thought. Like how gross. But you don't exactly send a lot. The kit has a little stick and you jab at your thingys and then you put the stick in a tube containing chemical and shake it all up.

I shan't tell you how hard it was to collect the sample. (It was very hard. How do I catch it? The reflex required... the gross factor...) You have to send two samples over a period of one week.

The Second Test.
This test, called the pap smear I've done before several times. It's nerve wrecking. Firstly, you need to be alfresco. Secondly, I only trust one man with my privates. He is the man who delivered my two babies. Unfortunately, he has also become popular with stars, celebrities and daughters of millionaires. So he has become expensive. Today I went for this test at the Cancer Society and it was free. My doctor is a female and amazingly she managed to make me laugh. So it was not too bad. Okay, maybe just a little bad. While I was there, she did a clinical breast exam as well. She said she did not detect any abnormal stuff. Is it wrong that the breast exam felt rather nice!

The Third Test.
I haven't gone for the third test but I will. It is the mammogram. This month happened to be Breast Cancer Awareness month in Singapore so it is extremely hard to get an appointment for a mammogram. I will keep calling the hotline though.

I have done this test before a long time ago. It was traumatizing. My chest is flat as a runway so the technicians have a hard time squeezing my thingys in the right position. I am so not looking forward to being squeezed.

I'm keeping my fingers crossed all my results will come back "perfectly normal". Have you done these three tests before?

Monday, October 6, 2014

How I sell digital downloads of my bag patterns on my blog

Hi folks,

In my last post here, I blogged about my latest bag pattern and I wondered if any of you noticed that I gave the option of buying my digital pattern on my blog? Well, several of you bought the pattern so I know some of you noticed. Thank you, by the way.



I thought I'll share with you how I sell my digital patterns on my blog. When I was starting out with my bag patterns "business", apart from producing the instructions/patterns, the one thing that I struggled with was how to put a "Buy" button on my blog, collect payment and have the digital pattern AUTOMATICALLY sent to the buyer.

The first option I looked into was paypal since I use paypal as a main mode of payment/collection. There is a way to sell digital goods using paypal but it looked so hard. I mean, everything was so technical and words like IPN mean nothing to me. So I said, "no thanks."

I came across ejunkie in 2009 and I even got an account and everything but I was too busy with my craft markets and never pursued it. I vaguely knew it provided shopping carts services for digital as well as physical goods. In layman terms, it does the hard stuff for you.

Around 2012, I had sufficient number of digital patterns for sale and felt it was time to look at ejunkie again. I started a free trial subscription and began seriously looking at the website. To be honest, I dislike the website a lot. It's really hard to look at. The font, colours, layout, ugh. But I'm not marrying ejunkie so I stuck it out. The navigation (user interface) is a little old fashioned. But you know what? You get used to it. Once you figure it out, it's really quite simple. All you have to do is enter the details, upload the digital file and your file goes to the ejunkie server. To enable selling of your digital pattern on your blog, just go to ejunkie and copy the html code for the specific pattern. Next paste it on your blog html editor. When you view the codes on your blog, they appear as a button. And that's it. You can start selling. All you need is to get readers to your blog. All the troublesome stuff like checkout page and collecting payment are done by ejunkie. Well, technically, ejunkie doesn't collect payment. But it integrates with your payment processor. Like for me, I use paypal. Ejunkie gets paypal to collect the payment and put it in my account.

You also have the option of creating a nice shop banner but the checkout page is very, very basic. No frills. If you want to have an idea of what I'm talking about, go to this post and click on the "Add to Cart" and you can see for yourself. Don't worry. If you don't complete the transaction, you won't be charged for it. I also have some examples on projectsbyjane.com. Check them out. Don't be scared!

Well, to continue my story. During my free ejunkie trial,  I put the "Add to cart" button on one of my patterns in an old blog post and shockingly I made a sale. I checked my paypal and yes, the money arrived safely. That blew my brains out. I quickly put "Add to cart" buttons in all the posts which were promoting my bag patterns. Ejunkie has stats to allow you to view the downloads. I noticed that the early customers don't always download the patterns right away. So I felt I needed to write up a FAQ and you can see my version here. Much, much better. Now my customers know exactly what to expect and I no longer worried about the downloads. In fact I don't even look at the stats anymore.

I wished I had used ejunkie right away in 2009. I consider it a wasted opportunity. If wishes...

Let's talk about pricing. Nothing's for free, right? Currently I am on a 10 products, 50mb limit plan for $5 per month. This is the most basic plan. I get a discount for using paypal so it's under $4. All I need to do is sell one pattern a month and it will cover the cost of my ejunkie plan. That's not hard to achieve.

The next plan on the list is 20 products, 100mb limit for $10 per month. With my last pattern, I have hit the 10 products limit. I think $10 per month is still affordable. But if I were to upgrade to the 20 products plan, it would mean that I had better work really fast and come up with another 10 new patterns. Otherwise it won't be economical. Ejunkie gets really expensive once you go beyond 120 products. The price plan after 120 products is 250 products for $40 per month. I doubt if I will ever, in my lifetime hit 120 products. But if I do, I will definitely look for cheaper alternatives.

Next, customer support. I only needed to contact customer support in the beginning. I made the mistake of creating a subscription plan during my free trial and that action removed the free trial. The thing about ejunkie's subscription is any time you change the plan, whatever discounts, etc associated with the previous plan get dropped. The customer support was fantastic and very reassuring. I got back my free trial and a even follow-up to see if everything's fine. I was very impressed. I don't know if other people get the same great support but that really sealed the deal for me.

Some of you may question why there's a need to sell my patterns on my blog when there are marketplaces like Etsy, Craftsy and Patternspot which support instant digital downloads for sewing patterns. One big reason is these marketplaces are loaded with competition. To be able to make one sale out of the thousands of patterns is an achievement. Second reason? These marketplaces with the exception of Craftsy take a big chunk out of your earnings on top of the amount you have to pay your payment processor. Selling on my blog is much cheaper as I only need to pay paypal's monstrous fees and what I pay ejunkie is peanuts compared to what Etsy and patternspot gobbles up.

I hope this post is helpful to those of you who are looking to sell your digital products. I only mentioned services and marketplaces I have used. There are definitely lots more out there I haven't explored. Please feel free to leave a comment of other marketplaces which support instant digital downloads or any suggestions.

p.s. this post is loaded with ejunkie affiliate links.
E-junkie Shopping Cart and Digital Delivery

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Jane's Little Boxy Bag Pattern

Hi guys,

My new bag pattern is finally here and up for sale at my Etsy shop. This year I was a little slack and never got around to finishing any bag pattern until now. The heart was willing and so was the head. But many obstacles, mainly my real life got in the way. Finally I got into the groove and managed to finish it.

This little boxy bag pattern was supposed to be my 4th bag pattern but it kept getting pushed to the back of the queue. So it became my 10th bag pattern in my growing bag empire. I first started making this bag in 2009. I made a few for sale at craft markets and although I always managed to sell them I stopped making them for sale when I got really fed up with people coming up to squeeze the boxiness. It annoyed the hell out of me. In 2012 and 2013, I started making them for sale again at my Vivocity craft market. Enough time had passed and my tolerance of people squeezing my boxy bags has increased. The idea of making the writing the bag pattern took root and well, it's now 2014.

https://www.etsy.com/listing/204278646/janes-little-boxy-bag-pdf-pattern?ref=shop_home_active_5
https://www.etsy.com/listing/204278646/janes-little-boxy-bag-pdf-pattern?ref=shop_home_active_5

As the name suggests, this is not a big bag but a little boxy bag. Due to the design, making it big is not ideal. I have come up with an ideal size - it is not too small with enough room for a large wallet, keys, make-up and plenty more.

https://www.etsy.com/listing/204278646/janes-little-boxy-bag-pdf-pattern?ref=shop_home_active_5

https://www.etsy.com/listing/204278646/janes-little-boxy-bag-pdf-pattern?ref=shop_home_active_5


If you like to play with colour, you can use different fabric choices for the handle and zipper gusset. I personally just like to have the handles in a colour that pops.

Rough dimensions of finished bag:
Across bottom is around 8.75"
Depth and height is around 4.5"

Suzee's version

A few people I would like to thank for making this pattern:
Suzee of Applehead Threads for being my faithful tester
♥ Jon for the loan of his camera lens and tripod
Mandy for giving me the fabric with the footwear print which I used in the tutorial
♥ the customers who came to my Vivocity market in the past and gave me feedback on this bag

This new bag pattern is sold at my Etsy shop here. If you guys have an Etsy account, do me a big favour and go favourite it. It really makes a difference, I promise you. And thank you so much.

By the way, if you prefer to buy this pattern directly from me here on my blog (it's an instant download digital PDF), click on "Add to cart" button below but please read my F.A.Q. before you do so.

USD $8
Add to Cart

Oh, I let my dolls have a go at my little boxy bag.

Neve is so small the bag has more than enough room for her.

Melly fits lying down but her legs need to be in a sitting position.

See the look on Neve's face? It's her bag now.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Keepers

I buy a ton of crap. A ton. My home is crammed with stuff. It's horrifying. I'm not the only contributor. Hubs and my two kids as well. But mainly hubs and I. Each time I declutter, I end up getting new stuff. The worse thing? I can't say NO to other people's stuff as well. Do I need a sandwich maker? Not really but I ended up being gifted one. Used it once.

Sometimes I get lucky and buy something I really need.


Like this mechanical pencil. I have mechanical pencils. But they all suck. The mechanical parts usually break down. Sometimes right away. This one is from Muji. It has a nice weight which I like and the grooves are great for grip. It's also 0.3mm. I just hope the mechanical parts stay good for a long time. It says MADE IN JAPAN. I wonder if it is really made in Japan.


I have plenty of needle keepers, some were made by me. But I never really love any of them. Somehow I always felt something was missing. Guess what's missing? This Clover Needle holder has exactly what I was looking for.


MAGNETS! Now it's hard to lose my needles. I love it.


Do you have regular tape measure? The ones which you have to hand wind? I hate, hate those. So much time wasted just winding it over and over again. This tape measure has a button for you to press and the winding is done super fast. I love it. I have 2. It says MADE IN GERMANY. I wonder if it is made in Germany.


This cute container (see pencil for sizing) is a very good example of the kind of crap I would buy. It's around $2 so how to resist? The thing is I have no idea what I could use it for. Still I bought it.

Turned out the container is good for my little doll, Neve. Neve is not very posable being a non-jointed doll. It is made of rubber or vinyl.

This is going to be Neve's new home from now on. Neve, by the way, is also an example of stuff I should stop buying. Like enough already, right? But ain't she cute? She is made in Korea.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Good news and bad news and good news

What shall I tell you first? Let's start with the good news. My new bag pattern is almost ready to be published. I put so much work into it that I am so glad to stop looking at it and move on. I'm just waiting for my tester to be done with it. No pressure, Suzee! I'm also happy to tell you I have started work on my next bag pattern and if I'm lucky and hardworking, it should be out end 2014.


Some not so good news. For me. You all know how I only have one good ear? And my greatest fear is to go completely deaf? Well, last Sunday, I kinda had a big scare. It happened suddenly in the late afternoon and I couldn't hear so good anymore. Just like that. My hearing didn't disappear completely but I couldn't hear like normal. The sounds you hear in your daily life like people talking, footsteps, running water - these all sounded very soft and faraway. On the other hand, sounds which are sharp became amplified. You can imagine how distressed I was. I went insane. I cried for hours.

"Fortunately", I was able to go to sleep and when I woke up on Monday, I found that most of my hearing had returned. Miracle! Some sounds still sounded weird. The sound of running water and water going down the pipe still didn't sound right. Footsteps still sounded faint. On Tuesday, I woke up and found my hearing was even better and crispier. I finally could hear running water and footsteps. Today is Wednesday and the minute I woke up, I walked around my home listening. And guess what? I could hear the sound coming from our lights. I never even noticed the sound before. What a relief! So it looks like, slowly my hearing is returning to almost normal.

One strange thing I discovered is as the lost sounds come back to me, I have to relearn them. I don't mean to say I have to relearn every sound. What I knew I knew. When unfamiliar sounds came, my brain immediately asks WHAT'S THAT? And it's also not like in the movies where my face is all serene and as I discover each sound, my face lights up in delight and wonder. Not like that at all. It's more like, WHAT THE HELL IS THAT NOISE? Then I look around until I figure it out. Once I know what it is, I don't feel so panicky. On Monday, the first time my hearing came back, I walked on the pavement and heard this thundering sound. I freaked out immediately. The sound came from a truck. The sound of the trains running by also sounded just as frightening. Once I start associating sounds with the source, I am less agitated. On Monday and Tuesday I went out and about to hear as many sounds as possible. Luckily hubs was with me and could help me identify the source of most sounds. Sounds from electronics seem the most alien to me and also the most annoying. Oh, we went to see a movie, Lucy which if you take away the tiny little plot is just about people shooting people. I discovered movies are LOUD. Super, super loud. It took me 15 minutes to get used to the loudness. How do people with two good ears cope?

I am still having problems with shrill sounds. The first time I heard birds singing, I was so angry as the singing literally hurt my ear. Today I heard a lot of birds singing and it was tolerable. Hubs' voice is also capable of upsetting me with the 'ssss'. The shrillness seems to be subsiding over time but it's never completely gone. I have a feeling this one may never return to normal.

I was really worried that my ear may be damaged and went overboard and saw a private doctor who is a hearing loss specialist. After what happened to my right ear decades ago, I didn't want to be at the mercy of clueless public doctors. So I chose this doctor with 25 years of experience. He's not cheap. It costs $150 to $350 just to see his face. If you add the cost of the tests, your heart will feel a lot of pain. I haven't told hubs the total cost of the bill (I hid it in a secret place) and I don't plan to. Hopefully he won't faint and have a heart attack when the credit card statement arrives.

The good news is the hearing test shows my hearing in my "good ear" is within acceptable human range. The deaf ear is still dead. The doctor also said that even with my dead deaf ear, he can do a cochlear implant and revive my hearing. All I need is around $50/$60k (less if done at a public hospital). Oh well, it's a nice thought. But I think I'll save my money for other medical emergencies. However, it is rather reassuring to know that in the event the most feared and dreaded thing happen (complete deafness), I have an implant option. I decided to read up on cochlear implants and there is a government subsidy if both ears are deaf. Woohoo! Hubs asked me if I have any desire to restore my deaf ear. This is the first time a doctor has given me any hope of restoring my deafness. Previously, the doctors have told me that there was nothing they could do and to adapt to living with single hearing. And I have done that. It's been 28 years of getting cursed at for not always responding to people talking to me. I think I can continue this way for the rest of my life.

The doctor discovered I have a sinus infection. But this infection may or may not be related to my good ear shitting up. Anyway, I'm on antibiotics so time will tell. You know what? I'm blaming the damn haze from Indonesia. It is back and once more the government officials from both countries will fart around and nothing changes. The burning of forests continue year after freaking year.

Rant over.

The shrillness thing may be due to cells in my ear being disturbed or damaged. I'm not going to feel too sad about it if I have to live with it. I am really grateful my hearing is back to almost normal and if my ear hurts from hearing the shrill sounds, so be it. Well, to be honest I was really sad about it for a while but I can still hear and that's the most important thing for me.

The "upside" for my family is I can no longer scold them or raise my voice as high-pitched voices create a feedback in my ear - very jarring. Just yesterday I came out of the bathroom and caught hubs eating in our bedroom. He tried to flee but I already saw the plate of food. Despite catching up with him, all I could do was MOUTH all the scolding at him. It was completely useless of course and he just went along and pretended like he could hear the scolding, faking remorse. I also can't squeal with delight or laugh like a hyena. I realise I do these a lot and I really miss it. Maybe time will heal the "shrillness problem". Either that or I could get used to the jarring feedback in my ear and have a new normal.

Anyway, in a few days or so when my new pattern is out, I hope you guys will come back and buy it. I need the cash! All I need is 7,500 people to buy and I'll have the cash for an implant. No? Too much to ask? Alright, alright. I just need 75 of you to buy and I'll have the cash to pay the good doctor. I promise it's a really cute bag pattern.

Lastly, anyone with a blog and able to sew bags keen on reviewing my new bag pattern? You should have at least 50 readers to your name. Leave your contact in the comments or email me directly (projectsbyjane@gmail.com). Yep, you get the pattern for free in exchange for a blog post (written by you and published on your blog) on my new pattern. You understand you'll need to make the bag, take a few pics and link to my etsy shop and my blog. There is no time expiration on this offer. Please feel free to enquire.

See you soon.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

How to stitch a tatted motif to felt

One of my readers, Christel Goh wanted to know how I stitch my tatted motifs to felt. This post shall address that mystery.

First, notice how tatted motifs have little loops which are called picots. I use these to sew my stitches.

From under side of felt, insert needle and come out just inside the top of the picot loop. Insert needle into felt, just outside the same picot loop. Pull thread taut and you will see the little stitch you have made will hold the picot in place securely.

I usually anchor all the outer picots first making sure the motif stays flat. Next I anchor all the picots in the center.

Sometimes you may not have enough picots to anchor the motif securely. Another good place to make a stitch is where the two chains meet (semi-circles).

Lastly, the most important "trick" is to choose a thread colour that will be blend in nicely. I also double knot (sometimes triple knot) my thread in the beginning and end.

This is another tatted brooch I made this week. It's a little larger than my usual ones as I used yarn lace which is thicker. It is 2.75" in diameter compared to my regular 2". So many picots! I had no trouble anchoring this motif down.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Winners of July/August 2014 Giveawy

Hello,

I've drawn the 2 winners for my July/August 2014 Giveaway.


Only 24 entries. What happened guys?

Without further ado......

The first winning comment is.....


Nueyer Dua gets flower-flower. Her wish is granted.



And Linda gets tatted lace! She was the last entry. I hope she likes the lace brooch. Sorry Linda, I know you prefer the flower-flower.

Thanks to everyone for participating.
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