Monthly Archives: March 2011

Finding Inspiration for Your Handmade Business

Hi, I’m June, and I blog at June Bug’s World. When I signed up to do a guest post on “Inspiration” for Craft Buds, it didn’t occur to me that I would have trouble writing the post because of a lack of inspiration. That’s irony for you. But being stumped really helped me to see the biggest issue I face when it comes to finding ideas. There are just so many cool ideas out there it’s hard to distill down to that one project you just have to try.

pinterest

We’ve heard about Pinterest, Etsy treasuries, bookmarking your favorites, “liking” craft pages on Facebook… but have you ever counted up all the sources you’ve marked? It can get overwhelming. There’s not enough time in the day to look at all the creative talent out on the web.

So this is how I (try to) keep it simple. I bookmark pages, “like” things on Etsy, but first and foremost… I use my brain. If I see an image or hear a song or have an idea I will trust that if it is brilliant, it will stay in my brain. If it doesn’t, then it wasn’t a strong enough idea to work out as a real project for me. If it doggs me, keeps me up at night, pops into my head whenever I sit down at the computer, then I know it’s important enough for me to turn into a design.

Etsy treasury

Then I pull the picture into my design folder. Or sketch it out. Or let it fill all my thoughts until it solidifies into a real project. A project that I can pick fabrics for and start cutting. Most of the time I’ve thought about it enough that it comes together just as I hoped. Sometimes it doesn’t, but always it’s something I really enjoy doing and can feel really proud of.

For example, with my Swooping Solids Pillow, I saw this picture on one of my regular blogs (elsie marley):


And I just COULD NOT get it out of my head. I kept going back to that post, over and over, until I decided it would be my next project. It fit all of my prime design criteria: curves and color. The fact that it was all laid out in “blocks” helped too. So I went and picked out some fabrics and started cutting away. I didn’t sketch anything – I kept it all in my head – and I made some modifications along the way. In the end? A design of my own, inspired by art:


And while this project was a little too time consuming for me to use it in my Etsy shop, the basic idea stuck and turned into some very marketable items:


And I think that’s the best way for inspiration to flow – from an image I found all the way into a signature item that I can use to grow my store inventory.

Things that help?

  • Pick your favorite 5-7 craft blogs, and visit them regularly. More than that is too much. Less and it’s feeling like not enough sources.
  • Enter contests. Visit those linkups and browse around. Comment on other people’s posts that you love. But remember that “it’s gotta stick” is what matters.
  • And I try really hard to only work on 1-2 projects at a time. Because for me, completion is what counts.

Blogs I like to visit for inspiration:
Noodlehead
Grosgrain
Stitched in Color
Elsie Marley
The Long Thread
I am Momma Hear Me Roar
Pink Penguin

Contests and Linkys I love
Bloggers Pillow Party
Quilt Story Fabric Tuesday
Sew Modern Monday

What is your favorite way to find inspiration for your handmade business or personal craft?

Fresh Picks for Friday, 3.25.11

Here are this week’s inspirations! If you’d like us to consider your project for Fresh Picks, fill out the submission form here.

Life of the Party: Check out this vintage superhero birthday party at Kara’s Party Ideas, courtesy of Maureen & Adria at Anders Ruff!

Perpetual Calendar

Day by Day: A bright and funky perpetual calendar tutorial at Sandy’s Space!

Fleece Flower Petal Pillows
In Full Bloom: Cute and inexpensive home decor! Fleece flower petal pillows tutorial at Come Together Kids
 

Blitz ‘Em: Timothy Adam at Handmadeology is offering a free 5-day e-course called Social Media Blitz, aimed at crafters who sell their handmade items online. Check it out!

Giveaways Roundup
If you haven’t stopped by, make sure you check out the Craft Buds Giveaway Roundup, with 15 current giveaways to enter! It’s updated each week, and you are always welcome to link up your craft supplies or handmade giveaways.

Upcycle: Hoodie into Cowl Neck Pullover


We have a lot of hooded sweatshirts at this house and I’ve always wondered if I could convert them into something else. There’s a boy’s shirt contest going on over at I Am Momma Hear Me Roar so I decided to give it a shot. Here’s a great way to transform those hooded sweatshirts into a cowl neck pullover!

Start out with a sweatshirt that fits your child (or you!) comfortably with a little extra room because you’ll be loosing just a little bit of the width. Make sure the hood fits comfortably over their head. My son normally wears 24 month sized clothes but I used a 2T for this project. *If you are using a different style shirt check out the tips at the bottom of the post.

First you’ll cut out the zipper. It’s easiest to do this from the inside of the sweatshirt and to cut as close to the zipper as you can.




Next cut off the hood and cut off the seam that connected the hood to the rest of the shirt. You may need to use a seam ripper to remove and bits still stuck to the sides.




Your cut up shirt will now look like this:



At this stage you’ll want to remove any embellishments like the basketball patch on my sweatshirt above. Next lay the hood flat. If it is unlined like most hoodies you’ll cut it twice the final desired so you can fold it in half. Add an additional 1/4″ to that measurement for your seam allowance. I cut a strip 4 3/4″ for my son’s 2T size shirt.


 

Now you’re ready to start sewing! Fold the sweatshirt inside out and pin the seam together. I cut the pockets so they would be 1/2″ away from the edge of the shirt. Next, sew along the edge with a 3/8″ seam allowance. Start at the bottom so if the shirt shifts at all, at least that part will match up correctly!




Lay the sweatshirt out and press the seams open. Pin the seams down and sew 1/4″ on each side of the seam. When you do this, fold the edges down over the sides of the pockets so when you stitch it up you’ll close the pockets that you cut open when you removed the zipper.




Turn the sweatshirt right side out and pin the center of the neck strip (the piece cut from the hood) to the center of the neck on the back of the shirt. The right side of the hood should be facing out with the seam at the bottom.




Continue to pin around the curve of the neck.




Turn the shirt over and pin down the neck strip leaving a gap slightly larger than the folded width of the neck piece. My neck strip folded in half minus the seam allowance is 2 1/4″ so the gap I left is 2 1/2″. Sew the neck strip down all the way around the shirt. Do not stitch down the 1/4″ at the edge where the Xs are marked below.


Next cut out the V of material between the neck strip. Cut along the edge of the neck strip on both sides and cut across where your stitches stop (1/4″ before the edge of the neck strip). Click on the image below (or any image in the post) for a larger view. The smaller image is the same as the larger one so you can see how mine looked.




Fold the neck strip over so it resembles a dress shirt collar. Pin down the edges.




Sew the neck down all the way around as close to the edge as you can. Also, sew the front edge of the neck shut.




For the final step, turn the shirt inside out and line up the two edges of the collar with the opening. Pin it in place and stitch shut.




Turn right side out and the shirt is complete! You could easily add some extra character with piping around the neck or with contrast stitching.




*Tips for other shirt styles: If you’re starting out with a lined hood you won’t have to fold the neck strip in half like the example above. Below, using a 2T shirt, I cut the neck strip 2 3/4″ for a final neck of 2 1/2″ with 1/4″ seam allowance.




With this style of pockets I was able to do just a single seam down the center and that closed the pockets back up. Because the graphic was misshapen after the cutting and sewing I just cut a patch from the extra hood material to cover it up. That also covered up the top of the pockets that became slightly mismatched after sewing! 




Easy Drawstring Tote

I made this tote to match the number bean bags from this post. They’re just so cute together I can’t resist posting a photo here of the whole set!

I wanted to do a separate post for the tote since it’s such a versatile thing to make and it was really fast to whip up. Plus it’s easy enough you could even make them to use as gift bags! You can find printable instruction sheets for the beanbags and tote for free (with a free Craftsy account) here.

 

To make your own, first cut two rectangles, one for the front and one for the back. You’ll be folding this in half later so take that into account when you decide on a size. For the bean bag tote I used a 23″ x 13″ rectangle. Put right sides together and stitch all the way around but leave a 3″ opening.

 

Turn right side out. Next, use an iron to crease the edges of the opening so that the raw edges are inside. Then fold the top over 1 1/4″ and iron that down. Put a drawstring inside the opening then pin down the edge. Stitch along the edge with a 1/8″ seam allowance.

 

Fold in half so you’re seeing the side that you want to be the inside. Stitch around the bottom and the open side, stopping 2″ before the top.

 

Attach the drawstring toggle.

 

Turn right side out.

 

Ready to fill with goodies!

Great Kid’s Gift: Number Bean Bags Tutorial!

My friend’s son turned two yesterday and I wanted to make him something that a little boy (or girl) could enjoy playing with. I’ve seen variations of counting bean bags on different blogs and decided to come up with my own version. This set has nine beanbags plus a matching drawstring tote bag. You can find the matching tote bag here!

To make these, you’ll want to download my instruction sheets and pattern (free with a free Craftsy account!) that includes the numbers and square for the beanbags. I didn’t use a number zero but my husband was concerned that someone might want it so it’s included in the pattern. First, print out the pattern and cut out all the paper numbers and 9 fabric squares for the beanbag fronts and 9 fabric squares for the backs. I did brown for the front and different colors and patterns for the numbers and backs.

Next, cut out nine fabric rectangles a little larger than your numbers. Iron those to a strip of fusible web. On the back, trace each number backwards then cut out each number.

 

Peel the backing off the fusible web and iron the numbers to the centers of your beanbag fronts. If you want more details on making the number appliques you can see my post on appliques here.

Then I did a loose zig zag stitch with my sewing machine around each number. The curves got tricky and so I had to turn the hand wheel for some parts and stitch very slowly. Next put right sides together of your beanbag fronts and backs and stitch them up leaving a 2″ opening at the bottom. When you are done stitching, turn them right side out.

Then we took a break while my son played with them :).

Okay, break is over and back to work! I tried to fill these with a funnel but my funnel opening was too small so I used a rolled up paper plate to fill each bag with black beans. I filled each bag until it was 3/4 full and used a pound and a half total for all nine bags.

Next I sewed the openings up using a slipstitch. A slipstitch is a (mostly) hidden seam. Do do this you’ll first fold the raw edges inside. Then knot your thread and starting at one end of the opening you’ll alternate between the inside folds of the fabric stitching about 1/16″ inch of fabric on each side then pull tightly.

Beanbags are now finished and ready to be played with!

And like I mentioned earlier, you can also make a matching drawstring tote to keep them in.

 

Fresh Picks for Thursday, 3.17.11

Here are this week’s inspirations! If you’d like us to consider your project for Fresh Picks, fill out the submission form here.

Tokyo Subway quilt

Elizabeth at Oh, Fransson! is raffling off this beautiful Tokyo Subway quilt to one lucky winner. To enter the giveaway, make a donation to the Red Cross Japan Tsunami fund by Wednesday, March 23 and let her know.

DIY "Lucky Charms" Notebook

Kirsten’s Lucky Charms notebook at The Crafting Chicks, with tutorial

A Despicable Me birthday party at Obsessively Stitching

Despicable Me games, attire and minion birthday decor at Obsessively Stitching

Quilted pan handle

Meg’s quilted pan handle at Monkey Beans

 

Giveaways Roundup

If you haven’t stopped by, make sure you check out the Craft Buds Giveaway Roundup, with 22 current giveaways to enter! It’s updated each week, and you are always welcome to link up your craft supplies or handmade giveaways.

Sherbet Pips Charm Pack Giveaway

Melissa at The Polkadot Chair is featuring Lindsay’s travel changing mat tutorial! And Mary’s going to be on One Pretty Thing!

To celebrate this and the launch of Craft Buds, we’re offering a giveaway of two Sherbet Pips charm packs. In case you haven’t heard, these new Moda precuts are flying off quilt-shop shelves like hot cakes. Melissa even featured them in her recent zig-zag skirt.

Giveaway is now closed. Congrats to the winner, #39 Marci at Marci Girl Designs!


To enter, just follow this blog and leave a comment letting us know you did! (You may be a public follower on Google Friend Connect, RSS subscriber or newsletter follower.) For a bonus entry, “like” Craft Buds on Facebook and leave a second comment.

One winner will be selected via Random.org on Friday, March 18 at 9pm.

Tutorial: Flat Iron/Curling Iron Travel Case

My flat iron is hands down the best thing that’s happened to my hair. I don’t travel without it! It seems like like straightening my hair is one of the last things I do and then I can’t pack the flat iron or I wrap it in a towel to avoid burning my clothes. Enter the flat iron travel case! This baby means I can straighten my hair then immediately pack it up for storage or for traveling.

For this project I used an upholstery weight fabric and a silver quilted ironing board fabric cover. I found the ironing board fabric at my local JoAnns. My flat iron is a CHI 1″ ceramic so that’s what I’ve based all my measurements on. The trickiest part of this project is measuring correctly.

Here are the measuring guidelines I used:
1. Length: Measure the length of your flat or curling iron not including the cord then add an extra 1/2″. The CHI is 10 1/4″ so once I add the extra 1/2″ I’m using 10 3/4″.
2. Pocket width: Measure the diameter around the widest part of your flat or curling iron and add 2″. CHI diameter at the widest point is 5″. Add 2″ and my pocket is 7″.
3. Flap width: Use half of the measurement of your pocket for the flap. That’s 3 1/2″ for me.
4. Total width: Add together the pocket plus the flap (7″ + 3 1/2″ = 10 1/2″) then subtract 1/2″ (10 1/2″ – 1/2″ = 10″).

Now you’re going to match up right sides of the flap and the pocket and stitch them together. I found that the fabric fed more smoothly with the batting side of the quilted fabric facing up.

Open it up and place it on top of your remaining piece of fabric with wrong sides together and pin. Stitch a seam down the flap 1/8″ from the seam between the two fabrics.

Now trace out and cut the corners on the flap. I used a drinking glass.
At this stage you can cut an optional plastic mesh to add to the flap to help stabilize it. When the project is all done this makes wrapping the cord around the flap easier. I used a sheet of plastic mesh (also called plastic canvas) that I found near the yarn in JoAnn’s. This is the same mesh you may remember stitching yarn through to make a tissue box cover as a kid–or at least that’s how I remember it! I cut it to fit the flap but left a 9/16″ border. I wanted to make sure that when I added my 1/2″ bias tape there was no chance I was going to hit the plastic with my needle.

Once the mesh was cut I did a loose stitch all around the piece to hold it together. Just to reduce the possibility of hitting the mesh with the sewing machine needle, I started sewing at the X and went almost all the way around, slid the mesh into the opening then finished stitching the rest of the way back to the X.

Now you’re going to add bias tape all the way around and it’ll look like you’ve made a hot pad. That means you’re almost done!

Now fold your pocket over. Stitch three seams, one just to the side off the bias tape and two seams on the bias tape. You really only need one seam, but the three seams help stabilize the area where you’ll be wrapping the cord around.

At this stage I added the strap. It may be easier for you to add it while you’re stitching on the bias tape. As is, I had to seam rip a half inch opening, inserted the strap, folded it over, then stitched it down. You can click the image below to enlarge it to see exactly what I did. You’ll also see that I stitched a decorative button and a snap onto the strap. I used a strap that was 8 1/2″ long, and tucked 3/8″ under the bias tape and folded the end with the button over 3/8″ to reinforce it. In case your flat/curling iron has a longer or shorter cord than mine, you may want to put it in the pocket and wrap the cord around the flap then measure how long your strap needs to be rather than using my measurements.

Here’s a close up of the button/snap area:

And you’re finished! Ready to travel or organize!

PS. Click on any of the photos for a larger view!

Fresh Picks for Friday, 3.11.11

Here are this week’s fresh picks! If you’d like us to feature your project, fill out the submission form here.

Grrr…. dinos!

Dino Tails at Running with Scissors

Dino Tails tutorial at Running with Scissors

A fun and funky way to freshen up wall space!

Fabric embroidery hoop wall

Fabric embroidery hoop wall at EmmmyLizzy

A place to lay your heads.

His and Hers pillows at Honeyscrap

His and Hers pillows at Honeyscrap

Til next time!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...