Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Coppery Felt and Fimo

Do you remember the coppery bronzey felt piece I posted about last month? I cut that up recently and started to make a glasses case and small coin/card purse out of it. I have so many cut out or part made up items at the moment, I think I'll be working on them all year :)  I did actually finish the glasses case though. This is one side of it:

And this is the other side:

I used some gorgeous hand dyed cotton perle 5 from Rainbow Girl on etsy. The variegated colours work perfectly. I also managed to do quite a lot on the purse. I managed to sew it all together already.

I still need to choose the right button, which always takes forever, and sew the buttonhole. I'm glad I got the gorgeous ribbon on the top of the front flap.

I've also been working on a Fimo/polymer clay tutorial the last few weeks. Taking photos has been harder than ever, it's been really dark, stormy and rainy, which is nice, but not good for taking photos. We did get a few really bright sunny days, so I worked on the opposite side of the house to the sun and managed to get a lot done, or so I thought. When I downloaded the photos, what looked good when I set up a shot, didn't look good once hands were in the photo! I thought Monday would be perfect for working outside, it was bright but cloudy, but also really windy, so back indoors. I did get quite a few good photos all in all, including this one, which captures perfectly my attempt to get rid of the huge dent I caused when I released the camera from the tripod without holding it first!

And here's a sneaky peek at one of the other pieces I worked on:

I'm nowhere near finishing it yet, but when I have, I'll put it for sale on etsy, it won't be expensive, but I want to put as much in it as possible, so if anyone has any ideas, suggestions or requests, if it's something I know about, I'll do my best to include it :)

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Help Finding a Craft Market Please? And Denim Notebooks

I'd like to give selling at a craft market a go and would like to find one that it is cheap to book a stall for the day and easy to get to from Manchester City centre. I don't have a car, but I do have a granny trolley  :)  so I'm quite willing to lug that around by train or tram. I heard about the Holme Street Arts centre in Hebden Bridge, £5 for two 6 foot tables sounds perfect, but they haven't replied to any emails :(

If anybody knows of anywhere, I'd be really grateful to find out about them, thanks :)

This week, I made a couple of notebook covers from denim offcuts.  I wanted to make one with a really 'worn' and 'used' look to it, so I chose pieces from where pockets had been taken off, and piecs from the seams and hems. Once I'd torn strips the size I wanted, I removed the extra threads and then sewed them onto a base piece of denim. Then I added a delrin clip so I could close it.

For the second one, I wanted a slightly less 'scruffy' look, but didn't want it too neat, so I used strips torn from where a pocket was taken off, so I'd still get some darker patches.

I also added a delrin clip to close this one too.

I did like the look of it, but it looked a little bit too 'neat' still, so I put it in with a load of laundry then hung it in the sun to dry:

I think this looks much better now that the frayed edges are softer.

I'd like to apologise in advance for not commenting on flickr photos. The new changes are really not good for me. I have dodgy vision and the new 'design' is a violent visual onslaught for me, it gives me a headache to try to use it and causes my vision problems to get worse. So I probably won't use it much until they change it back or I'll go to ipernity with everyone else.

Friday, 17 May 2013

Mixed Media Book Cover and Camera Case

As much as I really liked the mixed media piece that I made last week as it was, I did want to make something out of it. I made sure the piece of fabric I worked on was big enough for a book cover, but the finshed piece was too thick for that. I turned it over, folded it, measured it, looked at it, thought about it, then decided I could make a book cover out of it if I cut it and used different felt for the inside flaps. So, more measuring, hunting for felt and sewing of felt to fabric. This is what the inside looked like before I'd quite finished the bottom edge:

And, this is what it looked like once all the edges were finished:

I'm not sure whether I prefer it with the red part on the front:

Or whether I like the blue better:

I had quite a good sized piece left over, and I actually really like the green part the best, so I thought I'd use it for a gadget/camera/phone case. This is one side:

And this is the other:

I really enjoyed making the mixed media piece and the cover and case, and I don't feel so odd for saving all the tiniest bits of felt scraps 'just in case' now :)

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Mixed Media Piece with Felt, Fibre and Fabric

Late last year, I did a post talking about sorting out my felt scraps (actually, I think it was mostly moaning about bureaucracy) and putting them in 'categories' depending on size. I recently went through them again looking for pieces big enough to make bookmarks, and started to wonder what to do with the really small pieces. They are the piles at the bottom of this photo. Some of the pieces on the left are about 2 inches long and a quarter of an inch wide–really small. I wondered how it'd look if I just pushed them close together on top of a piece of fabric and sewed them into place. So, I tried. I kept to similar colours and added some pieces of fabric because I liked how the nuno felt pieces looked. I also added some art yarns for a bit more texture. This is it when I'd finished two thirds of it:

This is a a bit closer:

I originally planned to do the bottom part in lighter blues, but I had some gorgeous green shades, and thought this would look better.

Looking at it from a different angle:

The texture is really nice:

And of course, a Supermacro close up :)

Thursday, 9 May 2013


I've done a little bit more work on a couple of the purses I started. I'd already sewn up one of the slubbed white ones, and now I've added the button and button-hole. I thought doing large-ish blanket stitch around the button hole would suit the colours and style of this purse.

I used some slubbed wool I bought quite a few years ago to make the felt for this. I added some extra threads and bits of silk to the felt. I can't find a photo of it, but this piece is very similar, and this is a close up of the texture.

I used a cream vintage button, and kept the natural uneven edges again for the back pocket.

The other purse I worked on was one made from a piece of felt and squares of silk paper. It was one of my favourite pieces, the silk squares are so shiny. I'm still undecided about the button, I'm thinking of using this vintage one:

This is the back:

And the inside, I like these purses with two pockets because you get to see more felt than on the zipper ones:

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Disability and Self Employment UK Part 2

Because these posts are very long and it isn’t very easy to read the small columns, I have combined both posts and the Business Plan into a PDF to make it easier to read and easier to enlarge the text.
Download to your computer if you wish.

Keeping Accounts and Filing Taxes

I’m not going to pretend I’m an expert at this or that I found it easy, in fact I found it incredibly difficult and very confusing at first. I had no idea how or when I had to fill in tax returns or how and when the DWP would check my accounts. I was worried about exceeding the £99.50 per week some weeks if I had no expenses, and whether I’d be allowed to ‘pay myself back wages’ if I didn’t earn enough until months down the line. And probably a hundred other things.
I finally got a couple of really helpful advisers from the Benefits Agency and HMRC who patiently explained things (I just got the phone bill, they weren’t cheap calls!). I was basically confusing the information I needed for filing taxes and the information I needed for DWP. 

You don’t have to keep two sets of accounts unless it is easier for you, there are a couple of small differences, but mostly it is just keeping records of all transactions between April and April for HMRC and for 1 year from your start date for DWP.

Basically, the way HMRC work out your taxes is: Turnover (total of all sales) minus Expenses equals Profit. 

Everyone has a personal allowance (£8,105 at the moment). Profit minus personal allowance equals taxable amount. 

Wages are not a business expense and have to come out of what’s left after tax. Because you can only earn up to £99.50 per week on Permitted Work, it’s very unlikely you’ll earn enough to get taxed. (As mentioned in my previous post, this is for ESA claimants, and could be different if you get different benefits and have other sources of income). 

52 weeks of permitted work at a maximum of £99.50 per week after taxes equals £5,174 which is well below the personal allowance for tax.

For Permitted Work: Turnover (total of all sales) minus Expenses equals Profit. The Profit must be less than £5,174 or work out at less than £99.50 when divided by 52.

When I phoned up the benefits agency to see if they’d made a decision about me doing Permitted Work, I was told that I would be assessed after 6 months to see if I still fit the criteria (i.e. working less than 16 hours per week and earning up to £99.50 per week after tax.)

It can be hard to get your head around at first because the tax year is from April to April, and the accounts for your year of Permitted Work will most likely be different, but if you keep track of your accounts and keep them simple, it makes it easier.

Keeping Accounts

You need to keep track of every sale and business expense for your accounts. Keep all receipts/bills.

Business expenses are the costs of running a business i.e. Start-Up costs, costs of goods for resale, rent for premises, website hosting, EBay or Etsy fees, utilities (phone, electric, internet) and office supplies such as envelopes, printer paper, cartridges etc.

HMRC have a guide to what you can claim:

Accounts, Book-keeping and spread-sheets can seem daunting, but for the most part they just have to be a simple way for you to keep track of your sales and expenses. You don’t have to use computer programs, you can write it all down by hand if that is easier. Lyn from rosiepink gave me a link about Cardboard box accounting, which has some good advice:

One simple way to do your accounts is to use an A4 ring binder. You can customise your records, and you can add, remove or redo pages wherever necessary, and create separate sections with dividers. 

I’ve split my accounts into Start-Up costs; Sales and Expenses.  (Actually, I had to split my Start-Up costs into two sections because I had been working towards self-employment for more than a year buying supplies, and only needed the receipts back to last April for filing taxes, but I need a record of all my start-up costs for the Permitted Work scheme.)


Keep all your receipts from your start-up costs, print out relevant invoices from PayPal and online spending/purchases and try to keep them in chronological order so they are easy to find. You can always photocopy them or print out copies to keep in your ring binder to add dates, notes or anything that makes it easier for you. Try to keep a written list and record them regularly; it’s amazing how easy it is to forget what a receipt is for if all the information isn’t on there, especially when buying second hand items or from charity shops.


Depending on what your small business is, keeping track of sales will be different for everyone. If you primarily sell online, one way is to keep a weekly records of sales and simply record the date, name of buyer, which site, what they bought, and the amount paid for each transaction (If the buyer  paid by PayPal, enter the figure after PayPal take their fee, it’s all listed in the PayPal account and easy to see)

If somebody sells your product on your behalf, like a distributor or a gallery, you might receive payments from them quarterly; customise your sheets depending on how you sell your product or service. Keep separate sheets for the different ways you make sales if it makes it easier for you. Hopefully you will have too many sales to record every individual one, but you will need to keep track of them all, so maybe do a daily or weekly tally and keep track of online and cash sales.


For keeping track of Expenses, you can record them in a similar way to Sales. I split my expenses into those paid online, and those by cash. 

Instead of recording online and cash expenses separately, you may want to keep separate records for the different types of expenses so it is easier when it comes to filing tax returns.

When you fill in your tax returns online, you can either give a simple total of expenses or you can break it down into categories, such as: Goods bought for resale; Rent, Rates, Power, Insurance; Bank costs; Phone, Fax, Stationery, office costs; travel etc.

Receipts and Invoices

You don’t have to print out a receipt or invoice for every sale or everything you pay for online as long as you have a record of it and can find it easily. If your accounts are clear and simple, this should be easy. If you use PayPal, you can download a weekly (or monthly) record of your transactions. 

Click ‘All Transactions’

Select the dates for the week or month you want to view

Under ‘More’, Select ‘PDF-All Activity’

This will download a PDF file of all transactions (sales and expenses) between the dates you chose. It will be named ‘Download’, so make sure you rename it so you can identify it.

To make it easier to keep track of receipts for cash expenses, put them together in an envelope each week or month and write the time period on the outside of the envelope. You could even keep these in the ring binder with the expenses sheets, just remember to put the holes in the envelope before you put the receipts in  :)

Filing tax returns

Tax years run from April to April. Whichever month you start your business, the tax year ends the following April. For example, if you start in May 2013, you have to file tax returns after April 2014 (all income and expenses from the date you start trading in May 2013 to April 2014). HMRC will send you a letter in April 2014. If you file by post, you have until Oct 2014 to file. If you file online, you have until Jan 2015. It’s easier to do it as soon as possible.

If you receive a letter from HMRC at any other time, asking you to complete your returns, you have 3 months from the date you received it.

This video explains it well:

You don’t have to submit any receipts, but you must keep them in case you are asked for them.

I hope this information has been helpful, Good Luck if you try Permitted Work and Self Employment  :)