Monthly Archives: September 2013

Buying Craft Supplies Online

Part of being a crafter is buying craft supplies, and there are a few ways to go about it. From a very young age, I enjoyed strolling the aisles of craft stores alongside my mom. There’s still something great about walking through a huge selection of physical craft products, like fabric, thread, yarn, and paper. Shopping for craft supplies in person is great for the ability to touch and compare each item. As a bonus, Jo-Ann and Michael’s always have great coupons, while Hobby Lobby is famous for having half of the store on sale at any given time.

Sometimes, I like to comparison shop online before I go out to the stores. And other times, I’ll get a much better production selection and price if I do all of my shopping via the Internet!

For instance, when I started buying a large quantity of cover button kids for making fabric earrings, I bought that majority of my supplies from an individual seller via an online auction site. I bought button cover kits at Sears online (who knew that Sears would have the exact size I needed, and for the best price?!). And most of the fabric consisted of donated scraps I received from friends who also have sewing blogs. Tip: When doing your own comparison shopping, try using Google Shopping or even an international craft supplier like Quicksales to compare the costs of craft supplies in your area.

I found the best deal on adhesive glue for the earrings when I shopped at my local Jo-Ann’s store with a 40% off coupon. And although I did lots of shopping online for printing companies, I found the best deal on business cards for my earring display at my local university’s printing center.

My decision to buy craft supplies online versus in a retail store also has to do with relationships. For instance, one of the pros of buying in a retail store is to be able to support your local quilt shop and to build relationships. Craft stores in your community offer a great resource to crafters in their classes as well as having items available on an as-needed basis. There are also pros to buying online, such as the ease of comparing products on multiple sites, competitive pricing and the wide array of craft supplies available.

How about you? Do you most often buy your craft supplies in retail stores on online?

Craft Book Author Shirley McLauchlan Q&A + Giveaway!

Have you been enjoying Craft Book Month 2013?

We couldn’t help but feature an expert Q&A from Shirley McLauchlan, author of the new book Girls Get Stitching (FunStitch Studios / C&T). Read more about what this author has to say about writing a craft book.

Shirley, welcome to Craft Buds! Can you tell me a little bit about how your got started in the craft industry?

I studied Textiles at The Glasgow School of Art, then went on to study fashion and textiles at St Martin’s London. I then worked in a commercial textile design studio for several years before setting up own studio with two partners. We ran a commercially successful design studio. During my time, I traveled and helped to manage the studio, which was successful for over 10 years.

After closing the studio, I returned to Scotland to be near my family. I became a mother and helped look after my lovely mum who sadly was suffering from Parkinson’s disease. At this point, I would say my need to design had to be a balanced with family life.  I love cooking and being at home. So the change from painting to stitching became quite an easy process. I was very keen to work around my daughter Kitty and husband Rory. I had to also make sure I had time to spend with my sick mum who was right to the end of her life planning a new project. She was the inspiration to “make something.” My mum was always sewing/baking.

I have inherited this passion. I genuinely love stitching and making something that will last. It is a response to the commercial background that I came from. I now love creating something that will last forever, to be passed from generation to generation. The actual starting point was when a very dear friend was getting married. She was passionately Scottish. I wanted to make her something special, so I stitched a wedding blanket for her, which was full of places they went and all their favorite things.

How did you become interested in writing a book and what made you decide to work with C&T  and FunStitch Studio?

I was looking for another way of working, and a friend of mine said I should write/design a book! I contacted Susan Berry and we then worked together to produce this first book. I was keen to design a book that was visual and inspiring. I wanted to encourage the reader to “have a go” and not be put off with too much technique.

What was your process for writing the book and making all the projects?

The design process was first thinking of some projects that girls would like to make. I had lots of discussions with my daughter Kits. Then, it meant getting the artwork ready. My lovely husband was hugely supportive and was able to help with the actual drawings. I had lots of encouragement from Susan Berry, as this was the first time I had worked in this medium.

Time-wise, I started the initial work in August 2012. The sample pieces were to be complete by that December. The illustrations  were the most difficult, and they were to be completed by February 2013. But again, I had great support from my family and Susan. I was very keen to keep it simple and to allow the reader to interpret their way instead of exactly copying what I have done.

Is there anything about writing a sewing book that you’ve discovered which might surprise the average person?

The most surprising thing about this process was… I did it!  I have never been formally trained in embroidery I am self taught. My back ground is printed textiles.

Shirley, what’s next for you?

Whats next? My new website is up, and I am also very keen to write another book. I am just about to start another semester at Edinburgh College of Art tutoring textile students from first year to Masters Level. I am currently working on three private commissions, which all need to be finished ASAP! Then I really must launch my Christmas campaign, which will involve hand-stitched, personalized stockings.


Would you like to win a copy of Shirley’s sewing book? Leave a comment telling us one thing you’ve learned from our Q&A with Shirley, and we’ll choose one random winner a week from the date of this post. Good luck! Giveaway open to U.S. only.

Pre-Cut Patchwork Party Author Q&A + Giveaway!

Today, we’re excited to welcome craft book author Elaine Schmidt to chat more about the process of writing her recent book Pre-Cut Patchwork Party: Projects to Sew and Craft with Fabric Strips, Squares, and Fat Quarters.

Don’t forget to leave a comment after the post for your chance to win a copy of the book!


Elaine, welcome to Craft Book Month! What’s your favorite pre-cut to sew with, and why?

I love them all and find them handy in so many ways, but I really like the 2 1/2″ width-of-fabric strips that many manufacturer’s sell as “jelly rolls” or “designer rolls”. They can be easily cut into squares or rectangles for piecing. They are perfect for quilt-as-you-go projects where you sew the strips directly to the batting and backing. (Quick way to make a placemat!) And I love using them for straight grain quilt bindings. Because all the fabric prints coordinate, yet every strip is different, you can make a quilt binding that has an eclectic mix and match look.

Can you tell me a little bit about the process of writing a sewing book?

Once you have an idea for a book, you need to approach a publisher with a proposal. Submission guidelines are on their websites so make sure to follow them in presenting your ideas. If your book proposal is accepted, a contract will be drafted for you and the publisher to sign. This contract will list everything you are required to do and a timeline of deadlines along the way.

Make sure you understand everything and discuss with the publishers any concerns or questions you may have. Also, allow enough time to work on the book! Whenever I start a book, I always think I have plenty of time to get it all done in the time allotted. But, I have found that it always takes me longer to work out designs, get all the instructions written, source supplies, and do photography if that is included than I thought it would at the beginning of the process. Depending on the book, I like to allow at least 6 months to finish everything.

When writing a book for Creative Publishing, I am given three deadlines to meet. The first is for the “dummy material”, which includes the working contents list, a manuscript for one chapter of each section of the book, step-out samples or photographs to accompany the manuscript and an art log of images for what has been written to this point. The second deadline is for one-third of the manuscript with samples or photos and an art log. And the third deadline is for the final manuscript, complete with all samples and art work and the final art log.

That’s so interesting, Elaine! How did writing this book compare or differ to writing your last book, The Complete Photo Guide to Ribbon Crafts?

Pre-Cut Patchwork Party is a project-based sewing book. Each project is an original design focusing on using pre-cut fabrics. Detailed instructions were written for each project. Step-out samples of each construction step had to be made so they could be photographed to accompany the instructions.

The Complete Photo Guide to Ribbon Crafts includes a few projects, but mostly it is focused on various ribbon techniques with suggestions on how the techniques can be incorporated into a project. It was part of a series of “Complete Guides” and gives an overview of working with ribbons like making various styles of bows, creating ribbon flowers and trims, making hair accessories, sewing with ribbons, paper crafting with ribbon, etc. So those were the main differences.

You seem to stay busy with many different aspects of the crafting business other than just writing books. How does your work with designing products, writing for magazines and TV appearances complement your role as a craft book author?

It all works together because everything I do involves things I love to do: sew, create with fabric and thread, and work with embellishments–the “fun stuff”, like ribbons, buttons and beads. I have great working relationships with many fabric, ribbon and embellishment manufacturers and work with them to create projects that showcase their products in the best light. Cross-marketing is very important for both the manufacturers and the retailers who carry their products. I am careful when working with any companies who are competing for the same business, and I align myself up with those manufacturers who offer beautiful, quality products.

What is one thing that would surprise most people about being a professional crafter?

I don’t think it is a surprise to anyone that you will have to work hard to be successful. And, you do not do this type of work because you want to make lots of money. You do it because you love the techniques, the products and the joy of sharing with others the excitement of making something truly unique and personal. There is no greater joy than making something with your own two hands, especially in this high tech world. Crafting and sewing are a form of self expression and bring balance to our busy lives.

I have been lucky that every job I have held has led me to the next and has been an important influence on my work today. One of my first jobs was in a retail buying office. From that, I understand what buyers consider when making decisions about the products they will carry in their stores. I have also worked as an employee for manufacturers who make products for the sewing/crafting market. From that, I understand the importance of filling the needs of the consumer with new and inspiring products, as well as the challenges faced in bringing those products to market. I have also done a great deal of marketing, education and promotion work to both retail buyers and the end consumer. All that experience and those points of view help me to understand the full picture. But, most importantly, I am the consumer. My vocation is my avocation.

Do you have any tips for helping others grow their own creative business?

The best way to grow your business is to find you passion, which is what you are good at and what makes your heart sing. Then develop yourself as a brand and work on several streams of income, like writing books and tutorials, selling products and completed projects online, licensing your designs to manufacturers, selling at local and national art shows and fairs, etc. You’ll have to wear a lot of hats, but it can be very rewarding . . . and you’ll be doing what you love to do every day.


Creative Publishing International is generously offering a copy of Elaine’s book Pre-Cut Patchwork Party to one reader! To enter the giveaway, simply leave a comment on this post telling us one thing you learned about craft book publishing from our interview with Elaine. Good luck!

(Giveaway open to U.S. readers only. We’ll choose a winner one week from the date of this post.)

Craft Book Author Sian Keegan Q&A + Giveaway!

Have you ever sewn a stuffed animal? Today, we’re chatting with craft book author and stuffies expert Sian Keegan, author of the lovely new book How to Make Stuffed Animals (Quarry Books).

Sian, welcome to Craft Buds! In your book, you mention that you’ve learned a great deal of your technique through other craft books. What does it mean to you to be able to write this book and share your passion with others?

It makes me so happy to see photos of animals made from my patterns! After spending years creating custom stuffed animals, it feels great to share what I’ve learned with others.

In a lot of ways the time I spent making my 3D Pet Portraits was like my stuffed animal-making boot camp. I had to improvise techniques and patterns on the fly to create different shapes and textures for each unique pup that came through my inbox.

For visual people like myself I think a book is the best way to learn a new craft technique. In-person demonstrations are often difficult for me–a whole group of people watching one set of hands, having to digest information in one sitting through mostly verbal instruction. I like having something I can always refer back to and do problem-solving on my own.

Photo: Sian Keegan

2) Can you give me a snapshot of the process of writing this book?
I wrote the book in the summer of 2011. I started sometime in July and turned in all of the text, illustrations, and photos (by Jen Korff) by October 1st. We continued editing the text while Caitlin Keegan worked on the design. It was finished by the end of that year!
Photo: Jen Korff
What do you love about sewing and making stuffed animals?

I love seeing oddly shaped pieces of fabric come together the make a 3D form. My favorite part is stuffing the animal and adding all the details that make it come to life in the end. I kept the patterns in the book really simple with as few pieces as possible, both to make it easy for beginners and to limit the time cutting fabric and sitting at the sewing machine to get to the truly fun part.
Photo: Jen Korff
If you were teaching a friend how to make stuffed animals, what basic supplies would you recommend she add to her sewing kit right away?

Definitely invest in a super sharp pair of fabric scissors and never cut paper with them! I also suggest getting a few crochet hooks. I use the hook part to pull the animals right-side out after I finish sewing them, and the rounded bottom to push small bits of stuffing into the legs and head.

For fabrics, my advice is to grab materials that speak to you right when you see them, even if you don’t have a specific project in mind. It’s convenient to buy materials for a project in one stop at the craft store, but collecting fabrics and notions over time from different places makes for a more interesting and personal finished project.
Photo: Sian Keegan
Sian, what’s next for you?

I’ve been working on patterns for more cuddly, doll-like stuffed animals (above). I’ve posted a few patterns in my shop and I hope to share more in another book at some point! I’ve also been experimenting with non-animal soft sculptures like plants, houses, and other forms, as well as quirkier items like my Birthday Shrimp (below). My background is in textile/surface design so I’m always designing 2D patterns as well!
Photo: Sian Keegan


Would you like to win a copy of Sian’s new book, How to Make Stuffed Animals?

Leave a comment on this post telling us one thing you’ve learned from our interview with Sian, and you could win!


(Giveaway open to U.S. readers only. We’ll choose a winner one week from the date of this post.)

Craft Book Author Nicole Smith Q&A + Giveaway!

Today, we’re excited to have craft book author Nicole Smith join us to chat about her new book, Skirt-a-Day Sewing (Storey Publishing). Nicole also has a wide array of experiences in the craft and publishing industries under her belt including her current position at Etsy, and her previous work at magazines like Seventeen, Teen People, Threads and Stitch.


Nicole, congrats on your latest book, Skirt-a-Day Sewing. How did you develop your interest in clothing design and construction?

Once you get a little sewing under your belt, I think everyone becomes more interested in how their clothing is put together. My mother taught me the sewing basics and then I expanded my skills at college in the design program. When I go shopping, I’m the one who is turning garments inside out in the changing room to discover all of their little construction secrets. And when I was working in the fashion closets at various magazines, I was doing the same thing at photo shoots. I love discovering new ways on how to manipulate fabric and develop a pattern.

You’ve had quite an impressive career working for magazines such as Threads and Stitch. How has your editorial experience helped you on the other side of the process, as a craft book author?

As a magazine editor, I really learned to craft information for the reader in a clear and concise way. However, thinking about an article is quite different from approaching a book. In an article, you are really homing in on a specific topic and diving in as deep as you can for the reader to understand that particular process. When approaching the book, however, I had to think about the process of constructing skirts in a very broad sense. I wanted to create a reference for any reader at any skill level to be able to make a skirt from scratch. Therefore, I needed to cover everything from the beginning to the end.

When you think about writing your latest book, is there anything of the process that you think might surprise the average person?

Developing a book takes a long time (as in a couple years), and Skirt-a-Day Sewing was no exception. The photo shoots were done a year before the book was in the stores, and the skirt styles were all settled about a year before that. Many seasons and trends came and went during development. I had to approach the designs in the book to be as evergreen as possible, as I was unsure of what the trends would be when the book was finished and out in the world. As I was sewing many of the skirts, I became disappointed at times thinking that I should have included this or that style because they were prevalent in stores at the time. However, then I realized that with the book, the skills were there to create virtually any skirt silhouette you could imagine, so my disappointment was short-lived and replaced with excitement.

What’s the best advice you’ve been given (or that you could offer others) for pursuing a creative career?

Don’t ever sell yourself short. Set your goals as high as you want and strive for them as best you can. Try to surround yourself (both professionally and personally) with positive people that will help support your efforts and really push your creative limits as much as possible. After working in magazines in NYC for a long while, I really came to realize how toxic a negative environment can be. It seeps into parts of your life you aren’t prepared for, and before you know it, you feel creatively stifled and you find yourself settling. Don’t do that. Your craft is so much greater than that and the rest of the creative community wants to see you shine your brightest.

Nicole, what’s next for you?

At Etsy, I look forward to helping designers and artisans across the globe expand their reach on a daily basis. As a member of their merchandising and marketing team, I love helping Etsy sellers find their selling voice and develop their shops into success stories.

Creatively, I have more book proposals in the works that will hopefully expand on the ideas started with Skirt-A-Day Sewing. I also have been trying for a while to get a collection of patterns to sell on Etsy, that I hope to get moving soon. I’m also expanding my teaching in the NYC area with more class topics and workshops that I’m really excited about. I adore sharing my love of sewing and construction, and seeing my students create new things pushes me to think outside the box and be a better sewer every week.

Skirt-a-Day Sewing Blog Hop:


Do you want to win a copy of Skirt-A-Day Sewing? Leave a comment on this post telling us something you learned from our interview with Nicole, and we’ll pick one random winner a week from today’s post! (Open in U.S. only.)

Update: Congrats to commenter #21, Samina!

Last-Minute Halloween Costumes for Kids

Last year, Mary had so much fun showing off her last-minute Halloween costume ideas, that I wanted to get in on the fun. When I was growing up, I didn’t go trick or treating that often. But, my mom always pulled together some creative costume ideas for my brother and I. One year I came to school dressed as a tourist (nobody knew the meaning of the word), and another year I was a television set. My older brother’s costume takes the cake however; he dressed up like a picnic table, complete with a red-and-white checked tablecloth, plastic table settings and a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken from which his head peeked through the table.

Looking for some last-minute Halloween costume ideas of your own? How about these?

I don’t know why, but there’s something charming about a baby dressed up like a lobster for Halloween. If you can get over the creepy factor, we love this DIY Lobster costume from Martha Stewart, which comes sized for little ones. If you’re not confident in your sewing skills, there’s another version available from MrCostumes, which will work in a pinch (get it?).

Here’s a Halloween costume for kids that a complete no brainer to put together. Dress-up an orange outfit with text and buy an ordinary funnel (for the hat), and you’ve got a snazzy Crayola Crayon costume for little kids. Inspire Me Crafts has done all the hard work for you, and offers free printables for the T-shirt logo and crayon box treat bag.

It may no longer be the “it” movie for kids, but Up was certainly one of my favorites. We adore this baby dressed as Carl Fredricksen, the grumpy old man from the film who get carried away by balloons. With a DIY walker made from PVC pipe and tennis balls, this Halloween costume is easy and cheap to pull off. Check out My Modern Met for more info. (Photo: Stephanie Read)

Craft Book Month: The Littlest Thistle + CraftFoxes

We’ve reached the final day of the Craft Book Month 2013 blog hop! I almost can’t believe it . . . but the fun doesn’t stop here! We’ll be back this week and next with some fun author and craft book editor Q&As, as well as some giveaways. And, of course, we would love to see what you’ve been making, so hop over and link up your craft book projects by September 30th for your chance to win prizes! And now for more projects:



Katy over at The Littlest Thistle has a super-cute project she made, inspired by the book Quilting Modern by Jacquie Gering and Katie Pedersen (Interweave). If you haven’t checked out this book, it’s chock full of inspiration for improvisational quilting projects and freestyle designs that will help you bust your stash.


Hop over to Katy’s blog to read more!


If you’re hungry, hop on over to CraftFoxes for a round-up of fall dessert recipes from crafty cookbooks! Our favorite are these Apple Pie S’mores, made with apple butter, cinnamon chips and marshmallow . . . Mmmm!


Get the recipe at CraftFoxes!


Want to join us and sew along for Craft Book Month 2013?

Also, check out the Craft Book Month Prizes!

Enter to win fabric, thread + more in the Coats and Clark giveaway!

Craft Book Month: sewVery + Craftside

It’s hard to believe, but there are only two more days of the Craft Book Month 2013 blog hop! Have you been inspired by our talented contributors? We’d still love to see what YOU’VE been making . . . you have until the end of the month to link up your craft book projects!

Every so often, my actual life and blogging life collide. When my husband and I moved across the country last winter, I was so glad to know that Veronica at sewVery was in town, and she’s been absolutely invaluable in helping me to settle into this new place! Today on her blog, Veronica is showing off an adorable baby doll carrier using a pattern from the Oliver + S book Little Things to Sew. (STC Craft). If you have a child who collects baby dolls, this is a really unique gift idea! Her blog also offers a wealth of information on sewing pattern reviews, tutorials and more.


Head on over to Veronica’s blog to see this baby doll carrier in action!


Stefanie at the Craftside blog made a recycled sweater and doily sunglasses case, inspired by the new book Zakka Handmades by Amy Morinaka (Creative Publishing International). This book is filled with lots of cute little gifts to sew and for family, friends or for yourself! I love the idea of sewing with upcycled materials, and so does Stefanie. She’s actually written a book on repurposing sweaters herself!

Craftside is also offering a giveaway for a copy of the book, which you can enter to win here!


Want to join us and sew along for Craft Book Month 2013?

Also, check out the Craft Book Month Prizes!

Enter to win fabric, thread + more in the Coats and Clark giveaway!

Giveaway! Coats and Clark Thread + More

Coats and Clark wants to help you with your Craft Book Month projects, and you have 5 chances to win! One lucky Craft Buds reader will win a Coats and Clark Anniversary Tin filled with sewing goodies like fabric, zippers and thread.

1) To enter this giveaway, leave a comment telling us: When you’re in a sewing rut, what motivates you to sew?

2) For a second entry, Like Coats and Clark on Facebook and leave a second comment telling us you did!


Check out the other giveaways all week long for 5 chances to win!

Monday, 9/16: Craft Buds
Tuesday, 9/17: West Coast Crafty
Wednesday, 9/18: Olive and Ollie
Thursday, 9/19: Simple Simon and Co.
Friday, 9/20: CraftFoxes

Entries are open worldwide, and we’ll choose one lucky winner a week from the date of this post. Good luck!

Update: Congrats to commenter #325, Daphne!

Craft Book Month: Inspire Me Grey + Angela Yosten

Did you catch yesterday’s Craft Book Month 2013 posts? I was on the road yesterday attending a wedding, but was so happy to catch up on the blog hop today and see even more of your lovely, book-inspired projects!


My friend Elizabeth over at Inspire Me Grey whipped up one of the cover projects from the book Pillow Pop by Heather Bostic (Stash Books)! The angular patchwork design looks just fabulous in her fabric choice of Madrona Road with lots of black and white thrown in for contrast. I love the use of quilt binding on the pillow edges, which gives is a really polished finish.


Click over to find out how Elizabeth chose her project and to see more pics!


The lovely Angela Yosten also shared a project, this one from her new release with Stash Books called Sew Modern Baby. Inside the book, you’ll find patterns for all types of handmade baby toys and accessories, including an interactive play gym, animal rattles, building blocks and more. The vintage, scrappy nature of the feathers makes this heirloom piece all the more special.


Read more about the family heirloom that inspired Angela’s project!


Want to join us and sew along for Craft Book Month 2013?

Also, check out the Craft Book Month Prizes!

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