Friday, 17 May 2013

How I made them - Fabric Hearts Jewellery

A week or so ago on Wychbury's facebook page I promised to share the techniques I used to create my fabric hearts jewellery in my first ever tutorial - so here it is!

NOTE : You are going to be heating metal on your stove so please PLEASE take care!

You will need :

Jewellery settings - there are loads on Etsy, remember that you will be covering a similar shape with fabric so simple shapes will work best.  The patina of your settings may change when you heat them so bear that in mind when thinking about the look of your jewellery - it may end up looking vintage whether you expected that or not! It's also advisable to avoid any settings that already contain soft soldered elements as these will most likely drop to bits when you heat them up!

Fabric - Choose a pattern that has elements in it that will nicely fit your settings.
A plastic milk carton with a flat area - this stuff is flexible, easy to cut and waterproof should your jewellery ever need a bit of a wash!
Double sided tape
A hot glue gun
Small sharp scissors
Pliers or tweezers
A gas stove

Start by cutting a flat section from your milk carton big enough to cut out templates from all of the settings you want to work with.  Place a folded cloth that you don't mind getting singed on a flat surface with your milk carton piece on top.  Holding a setting by its bale or loop with your pliers or tweezers, heat it gently in the flame of your stove - you want it hot enough to melt into your plastic but not burn it.  Drop each hot setting face down on to your plastic and press it down with your pliers so that it melts into the plastic - sounds obvious but DON'T TOUCH IT!

Once your settings have all cooled down, remove each one from the plastic and trim the resulting shapes carefully with small scissors.  I've used curved nail scissors on mine as they followed the curve of the hearts shapes really well.  You may well find that some of your shapes have melted too much and shrunk away from the setting so they no longer fit,  this means your setting was too hot - no worries though, it's a milk carton, just try again!

You will be coming back to the flame one more time but for now that's the dangerous part over!  Take each one of your plastic shapes and cover it with a piece of double sided tape.  Trim the tape to the edge of the shape and peel off the backing.    Position your shape where you want it on the wrong side of your fabric, you should be able to see through the plastic to a certain extent to make it easier to get your placement just right. 

Next, trim your fabric to shape with enough allowance to fold back around the edges of the plastic.  Using your hot glue gun, fold the edges of your fabric around your plastic shape trying to get the edge on the right side as neat as you can.  The wrong side is going to be inside your setting so can be as messy as you like!

 You'll notice that your shape may be a little concave at this point, this is due to the heat of the glue and the tightness of the fabric around it.  This is actually a good thing as when you press your 'cabochon' into your setting your fabric will be nice and smooth.  To begin with - put a nice big blob of hot glue on the wrong side of your shape right in the middle but not up to the edges, when it's re-heated the glue will spread out to fill the setting and create a nice cushioned shaped under the fabric-covered insert.  Place the shape with its big blob of glue carefully into your setting - your edges will all be sticking outside the setting at this point
Using your scissors or similar tool, ease the edges of your fabric-covered shape inside your setting.  The 'cabochon' will now be more convex but possibly a little lumpy!

To smooth the appearance of your pendant and to ensure that the glue has properly adhered, gently reheat your setting over the stove once more, taking care to expose only the metal directly to the flame and not the fabric.  You don't need it as hot this time - the glue will melt at a much lower temperature than the plastic did.

Once heated, drop your pendant fabric side down onto a flat surface and press down gently with a cloth to smooth the shape.  A glass surface is great as not only is it flat but you can have a look at the fabric side to make sure you are happy with it, I've used a tea-light holder here.

 Leave your pieces to cool for a moment, remove any excess glue with the tip of your scissors taking care
 not to scratch your setting and enjoy making up your jewellery! 

Paula x

Monday, 8 April 2013

Q : What do you Make?

A : Textile based jewellery and accessories... and pincushions - that you can wear!  

Last year I started thinking about selling my products to trade buyers and know this is the question I will have to answer - way better than that! I already work with several wonderful galleries on a sale or return basis but was becoming aware of how difficult this way of selling can be to keep on top off in terms of cash flow. Local shops, not for profit organisations, co-ops and similar are by far the best way to start out selling your handmade products, particularly if you are helping to support something worthwhile at the same time. However, as you expand, producing enough work to keep a larger number of SOR shops stocked up becomes harder and harder to do if no money changes hands in the first instance.

It is also true that many of us find the switch to wholesale difficult because it feels less 'handmade' to produce the same item in large numbers to then sell at a trade price. The almost apologetic phrase I paste over and over in my retail listings is  

PLEASE NOTE, Our products are completely handmade often using vintage materials therefore are not identical. You may not receive the exact item pictured but we make them as similar as is possible with our human hands!

So yikes - what if I need to make 25 pincushion rings for a wholesale order and no two will be completely alike, they'll send half of them back because the cushions are slightly higher on some than others, there are those few where the lace is a millimeter higher than the rest and that hand-stamped motto is just too sloppy on at least ten of them......oh wait, I said 'hand-stamped' didn't I?   I did say that - and that's what my buyer will be ordering, they know that when they arrange the items made by 50 or so UK designer-makers in their gallery that every single one is as individual as the person that made it AND the person that buys it and that's the point.

Thinking about wholesale for a varied range of small items like mine does mean I need to pare down my collections into what is repeatable and cost effective to allow for that 100% mark up and the dreaded VAT, also into what is commercial.  Yesterday I went to BCTF  - (that's British Craft Trade Fair for those not 'in the industry'!) and the question that nagged me throughout was this - How in the world am I going to put my homely, sewing boxy, vintagy pieces with their tea stained packaging into one of these here stark white boxes and make it look like something buyers might want in their gallery?  

I'm still not sure I have all the answers but there was so much diversity in the work on display (as there is in the galleries themselves) that despite being a bit overwhelmed by the size of the event and the quality of the exhibitors' work, I actually left with lots of ideas to work on and plenty of food for thought.  The organiser Margeret Bunn covered the long and short of making and selling handmade to trade buyers in a brief yet very informative talk and I was relieved to discover that I was not far off the mark at all with my own pricing and terms and that Margeret is behind her makers every step of the way -  good to know!

So I have more or less finished this website of mine,  improved  my Wholesale Catalogue, am crossing Ts and dotting Is on my terms and conditions and gearing up for BCTF 2014!

Paula x

Thursday, 4 April 2013


Welcome to my brand, spanking, shiny new site! Wychbury Designs is my very exciting solo project with a focus on custom collections, weddings and wholesale work. If you have followed me over from Wychbury's sites then you will know a bit about me already - if not please take do a look around while you're here!

On this blog I'll be talking mainly about my own work, events, new collections and news as I develop my ranges and stick my head further above the creative parapet in an attempt to make a living as a designer of handmade things! I'll also be writing about what it's like to be a maker in Yorkshire at the moment, the amazing and creative people I know and work with and what's happening around this area. You can read my previous posts on Wychbury's blog to find out how the devil I got here in the first place!

In the meantime, stay tuned with Lesley and I on all of Wychbury's social media feeds as well as on Etsy and Folksy, you'll find all the clickables in the sidebar over there >>

More musings soon!
Paula x