Friday 27 January 2017

A Star is Born - My Youtube adventure & how it happened

Back in October last year I took a very large leap into the unknown world of Youtube.

I had already done a fair amount of TV work with the great team at Craft Daily TV and I was comfortable in front of the camera by now. I really enjoy sharing my knowledge, sewing is something I am SO passionate about and this way I could reach a much wider audience than through just my classes - and it was fun!

However, Youtube was a whole different kettle of fish. No cameraman, no director, not even a make up artist! But it was a great idea that was too good not to try and give my best shot. Luckily for me the brains behind the operation really knows his stuff and guided me through the learning of this new medium with encouragement and support. Andy Robertson is the husband of one of my very closest sewing besties. He is the Producer of Family Gamer TV and a freelance journalist. He had the skills necessary to get this project off the ground! His idea was to marry together my sewing skills and knowledge with my presenting experience along with his broadcasting and family gaming expertise. We would start with a simple project, a baby outfit made to emulate the toys that accompany the fun new Disney show PJ Masks. I knew it was going to have at least some interest on Youtube when my kids treated me like a rock star for having access to this!

So armed with an assortment of low-tech filming equipment, a semi-decent iPhone, a sewing machine and some hot of the press, yet to be released cult children toys (seriously these things are more desirable to children than pancakes and ice cream for breakfast in a fort built from duvets!) I prepared to launch my new career in Youtube stardom! The plan was a simple, fun and engaging video for kids and their parents. This wasn't going to be an expert instructional technical video for sewers wanting to advance their skills. It was going to be exciting, aspirational and would interest anyone, not just those who were already adept at sewing.

I soon found that rather than feeling lost without the support of a cameraman, director and runner (although there were drawbacks which I will cover) I felt more relaxed and comfortable. Once I found my groove the 'takes' flowed well, I only had my internal 'script' to worry about, if I deviated I didn't need to check this was ok with anyone. I found the process more natural and if I did make any mistakes, there was no need to worry - I could do as many takes as I liked, it was only my time I was using. Learning to be both presenter and cameraperson was the only steep learning curve, and the only time I wished for an extra pair of hands. I quickly found I have a deeply ingrained inclination to hold my work very close to me when sewing, I like to see what I am doing! So it was with some effort I learnt to hold the work more at arms length, eventually I was getting shots where I had the work centred nicely (and not out of shot like early takes!) in focus and without my head in the way, perfect.

The shots where I required additional angles such as close ups to show detail meant sometimes filming the same process several times. I have covered this before and it was no problem, I am used to having many samples for filming to cover all the different shots required, after all you don't want to be unpicking something so you can re-sew it for a second shot and you certainly can't un-cut some fabric! The problem came in that I was used to having a cameraman, he would set up the next shot while I set up the next sample to take the footage of the same action from an alternative angle. Filming myself, I obviously had to cover both of these jobs and there was some degree of back and forth from overhead to close up which did use up a lot of setting up time. No major issue, just something to factor in when planning the production of any future videos.

Once I had shot all of the required 'scenes' I handed the reels of footage over to Andy for the second stage in the process - editing. I am immensely grateful to Andy for the absolute wizardry he worked on my footage and me. He turned my rough takes into fun, lively and professional content. I count myself very lucky that I am able to stick to what I know best and covering the sewing and presenting side, after all it is just like teaching a class but with no-one in the room, and leave the technical production of the video to Andy. I am really grateful to him for the opportunity to have a go at this exciting new way to present what I love doing, of course I am also massively grateful to Jo for marrying him because without that there wouldn't be any of this!

We launched the video in October, just in time for Halloween which was perfect as the video was a baby costume - what could be cuter at Halloween than your baby brother or sister dressed up as your favourite show character?! I had no expectations, I felt that I had spent a few days working on this and it wasn't the end of the world if there was not a receptive audience for it, but that a few days was a worthwhile investment just incase it might possibly be popular. We watched the number of views slowly but steadily grow. My kids would check in daily after school to see how it was doing, in their eyes their favourite 'Youtubers' are stars and my youngest even lists this in her aspirational careers for the future! In their eyes I had already 'made it' which is as much as I could ask for and I was so happy to see the pride on their faces as they watched the video. And then, it surpassed all my hopes, the numbers gained momentum and the views kept rising. To date there have been over half a million views. HALF A MILLION!

I am very proud and amazed. I am very grateful to all those half a million people for watching and validating the time I had spent working on the project. I am excited to say that there is now a second video out right now!

I would love to know what you think of the new release and you can check out more exciting videos over at the Family Gamer TV Channel, its not just for kids!

Tuesday 10 January 2017

Happy New Year! Happy New Tilda Collection! Introducing Bumblebee

I hope everyone had a lovely Christmas and I wish you all a Happy New Year for 2017, may it be full of crafting and creativity, fun and delight in whatever you do.

I am really excited to start the new year with a bang and introduce the newest Tilda collection, Bumblebee.

Tilda's world revealed the new collection at the very start of the year and it is available for pre-order now and will be in shops from Mid January - "The Bumblebee collection is soft, sweet and full of flowers and beloved bees and bumblebees. A happy colour palette reminds us of light and delightful spring days"

I just adore the tiny bees and I know this is a collection that is going to be so fun to work with! I have a couple of new releases coming out with in this collection that I can't wait to share with you, I will be back soon with them!