Book Review + Giveaway: Marking the Date

I haven’t mentioned on the blog yet, but I’m currently expecting our second child in May! We’ve been trying to explain the countdown to our son but he doesn’t completely understand the passing of days and time quite yet. So when I heard about this Marking the Date calendar book I thought it would be perfect for him!

 

Every day we put a new sticker on the calendar. The book is great because my son gets to carry it around and open it up each day as he waits for baby and it’s his own special project. He’s 2 1/2 so the passing of time is still a bit hazy for him but this book gives him a physical activity to mark each day. It helps him understand that it’s something we do once each day until the baby arrives so he now has a better idea of how long he has to wait.

 

There are over 500 stickers included for just normal days and for special days like birthdays, trips, and holidays. The book includes 12 months of the year so you could use it for major events like a baby’s arrival or a deployed family member coming home, or you could countdown to birthdays, trips, people visiting or whatever’s happening in your life! There’s even enough stickers for your kid to put some on his shirt, which my son especially enjoyed.

 

Giveaway!

At the Before I Forget website, you can purchase this calendar book or put together a personalized 1 page calendar with all the birthdays and anniversaries of your family for that year. And on this post, you have the opportunity to win one of the books pictured above!

To enter: One entry per person. Just leave a comment below! We’d love to hear what you would use the book for. Open to US and Canada through Friday, February 24 and the winner will be announced on this post on Saturday.

Congratulations to Kristy, comment #3 chosen by random.org! Kristy runs a fabulous blog called Hopeful Threads, check it out!

Book Review: Stash Happy Felt

Stash Happy Felt book cover

Stash Happy Felt by Amanda Carestio (Lark Crafts) is a treasury of cute, functional projects all made with felt and thread. Picking up on the sewing trend of working with high-quality wool felt and even upcycled felted sweaters, this book features the work of multiple contributors.  From the leaf-accented French press cozy on the cover to the other 29 projects inside, the handmade goods range from home decor to gifts, organizers and wearables.

Stash Happy Felt, carnation decorations

With full-color photographs of each project and helpful illustrations, this book reads like a magazine and has projects suitable for beginners, like the “Carnation Decorations,” “Scrap Story Bookmark” and “Scrap Coasters.” For these and many projects in the book, only a basic hand-sewing kit is required!

Others, like the “Whale Pincushion” and “Trees Please Sewing Machine Cozy,” require the use of a sewing machine. The book’s three-dimensional sewing projects and clever bags like the “Retro Clutch” will keep intermediate sewists challenged.

Stash Happy Felt, whale pincushion

Extra touches like the felt-embellished sewing pins and sweet embroidery and applique make the projects in this book uniquely adorable. Author and Lark Crafts editor Amanda Carestio contributes some fresh and functional projects to the book, joined by Lark Crafts authors Cathy Gaubert, Aimee Ray and Cynthia Shaffer among others.

Stash Happy Felt, trees please sewing machine cover

Most projects in the book, like the “Felt-Framed Portraits” below, have coordinating templates that can be photocopied from a handy appendix at the back of the book. This is one of my favorite features of Lark Crafts books, because there are no pattern pieces to keep straight, and the templates are always accessible with a photocopier. For patterns that do not need to be enlarged, you can also trace with a pencil and paper before transferring the patterns to felt.

Stash Happy Felt, framed portraits

There are at least five projects in this book that I would love to make, and the techniques for making felt flowers, hand-stitching and applique can easily be applied to your own creations beyond what is featured in the book. In fact, there are many projects in here that are perfect for those who are just getting started with sewing. If felt is just not your thing, you could even make some adjustments to the patterns and use fabric and interfacing to recreate some of the accessories and organizers. Visit the Lark Crafts blog or see them on Facebook for the latest releases.

Looking for the Aurifil Thread Giveaway?

Charm Swap Update + Aurifil Giveaway

Polka Dot Charms, Received!

The fabric for the polka dot charm swap has all been mailed! If you participated in the swap, keep an eye out for these beautiful charms to arrive in the mail!

We owe a huge thanks to Peg and Becca at Sew Fresh Fabrics for cutting and sorting this rainbow of charms. As always, feel free to post photos of your charms or projects you make with them in the Craft Buds Flickr group.

Aurifil Thread

Giveaway!

Have you ever used Aurifil thread? It’s known for being strong and silky, and a dream to sew with. We have an assorted Aurifil thread pack to give away to five lucky winners!

To enter this giveaway, you must use the Rafflecopter form below. (App may not work with smartphones, so try a regular browser if you are having problems.) Giveaways open worldwide through Friday at midnight. Good luck!

Winners have been notified, and are listed below!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

How to Sell Craft Patterns

How to Sell Patterns
This week, I met one of my 2012 crafting goals and released my first PDF sewing pattern. Because many of you are interested in writing and selling your sewing, quilting, knitting, crochet, or other craft patterns, I thought I’d share my experiences and some tips I learned along the way!

Write

The first step to making a pattern for sale is to create a unique product. Do your research and make sure that your idea is not already out there in the creative marketplace.

Sarai Mitnick, author of The Colette Sewing Handbook, shared about her pattern-making process.

“We start with some basic ideas about an overall look, combined with requirements about what kinds of patterns we need in the overall collection. Once we have several sketches and ideas, Caitlin and I discuss them and narrow it down to the few we’ll finally release.”

Once you’ve determined that your knitted goatee or infant messenger bag, for example, is a unique design, it’s time to create your prototype. Photograph each step along the way and take notes, so you can go back and write a complete pattern later. You might want to include your photographs of each step, so make sure you take high-quality photos in good lighting. Alternately, you might turn your photographs into digital sketches using a simple graphics program.

When you are finished with your prototype, take some time to consider your process. How many skeins of yarn or rows of beads did you use for each step? Is there an easier way to complete certain steps? Take some time to consider you overall project as well as the final product before sitting down to write you pattern.

Gather all of your notes, and write down your step-by-step process for making the product. Refer to photographs you snapped earlier, and pay special attention to measurements. Don’t forget to include your list of supplies and any techniques you use that others might not find obvious, such as ironing your fabric between steps.

Design

Whether you are creating a digital pattern (PDF download) or a printed pattern, you’ll want to format the text and photos using page layout software, or a desktop publishing program. Some examples are Microsoft Publisher, Adobe InDesign, or Quark. These programs are specially designed to create attractive and easy-to-read publications. Technically, you can make PDFs in Microsoft Word, but you’ll be severely limited as far as layout and working with graphics.

You may also wish to design a cover image for your digital or printed pattern. Make sure to include the name of your pattern, the size of the finished product, and a hiqh-quality photo of your finished item. Save both your cover image and pattern file as a PDF (Portable Document Format), that’s ready to go to your pattern testers. Save your cover image as a JPG file as well, so you can use it in online listings later.

Refine

“Pattern Testers? Why do I need a pattern tester?”

Because you will be sorry if you skip this step. Pattern testing is simply the process of refining a pattern before its release. If you have crafting friends, offer to send them a copy of your pattern in exchange for their advice. Ask your pattern testers to make the quilt top or crocheted teacup following your step-by-step instructions. They should jot down notes when they have questions, or suggest different wording to help clarify your process. Getting this outside opinion from one or more people will be invaluable, even if you have made the item several times on your own!

Incorporate your testers’ suggestions into the pattern file, and save again as a PDF. Print off a copy, and give it several more looks before the release date. Tip: You may need to lighten or darken photos so they look good on screen and when printed.

Price

“What should I charge?”

Patterns come in a whole range of prices, and some are even released for free. For example, digital sewing patterns typically range from $4 to $10, and printed sewing patterns may be a few dollars higher. When considering what to price your pattern, look around at comparable patterns and make sure you’re within that general range. You may have spent 40 hours or longer creating your crocheted wallet pattern, but the buyer is likely going to find many free patterns online and you don’t want them to pass on yours based on the price. Also, think about future patterns you’d like to release and how you might price those. Don’t sell yourself short, but do remember that the buyer will still have to spend money for supplies!

Anna Veach of Urban Stitches sells patterns by other designers in her modern fabric shop. “With digital patterns, I personally think you should price it under what a printed pattern would cost by a couple dollars,” she recommends.

Sell

If you have your own craft blog, that’s a good place to start selling your pattern. You can host a free storefront via Big Cartel or Meylah and link to it from your own blog or Facebook page. Both services offer free and paid versions, depending on how many patterns you decide to sell from your shop. Meylah is unique in that it offers buyers a free digital download of your product, so you don’t have to worry about sending them a PDF after they check out.

Two other popular craft marketplaces are Etsy and Artfire.

  • Etsy charges sellers 20 cents per listing, plus a 3.5% transaction fee, which comes out to 48 cents on an $8 pattern.
  • Artfire is a monthly fee of $12.95, so this would be the better choice if you plan to sell 27 or more patterns per month (at $8 a pattern).
  • These fees do not include PayPal merchant fees, which could be another 53 cents on an $8 sale (2.9% transaction + 30 cents).

In summary, if you sell a pattern for $8 on Etsy and use PayPal to process the funds, plan to receive $6.99. Although they take fees for selling patterns, Etsy and Artfire offer the advantage of built-in traffic and potential customers via their online marketplaces.

  • Pattern Spot is a site where designers can sell their digital sewing patterns, and the designer earns roughly half of the sales.
  • You Can Make This is another site that spans all types of crafting tutorials that may be submitted and sold through the site via a profit-sharing model (author keeps some, website keeps some).
  • Craftsy is an online community that just unveiled a pattern marketplace for all kinds of crafts, including paper crafts and jewelry. They do not charge fees to sell your patterns.

A number of online shops might be willing to sell your digital or printed pattern for a fee of around 50%. You benefit from the exposure to their customers who may find your pattern while browsing for fabric or other craft supplies. The shop owner typically sends the pattern to the customer for you, and sends you a commission on your pattern sales each month.

Printed patterns may be marketed to retail shops, and a new service called Patterns Gone Digital markets pattern cards or covers in local craft shops, which buyers can redeem online with a special code to download the actual pattern.

Polso Pouch Pattern by Studio Kat Designs

Polso Pouch Pattern by Studio Kat Designs

It might be worth trying more than one of these services to see which generates the most business for your patterns!

Summary

If you are meticulous and love the challenge of teaching someone your craft, pattern writing might be the business for you. It also helps to be friendly and personable with your customers, provide prompt delivery for digital and printed orders, and to be willing to market yourself a little bit.

Do you have any tips or questions about making your own patterns? Please share them in the comments!

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Winner: The winner of the Modern Fabric Studio giveaway is lucky #126, Nancy’s Couture!

Child’s Cape Pattern & Tutorial

My son has endured countless trips to JoAnn fabrics and has never been too excited, until our most recent trip. We walked by this fabric and he yelled, “THOMAS THE TRAIN!”. He held the bolt of fabric the whole time we were in the store, then carried his cut fabric around the house telling me he needed to wear it. So I thought now would be the perfect time to make him a cape so he could wear his special fabric whenever he wanted. I made this pattern to fit his neck size and height but it’s a fairly simple pattern that could be modified for a different size superhero.

To get started you’ll need:

  • Cape pattern (free download here). See note at bottom of post for more info on the pattern. This pattern is made so the cape ends just above the ankle for a 3T size (36″ tall), so size up or down accordingly for the child you’re making the cape for.
  • 2 pieces of fabric cut from cape pattern for the cape front and back. Each piece of fabric will need to be a minimum of 30″ wide x 35″ tall but you may want to give yourself an extra few inches in case your fabric isn’t perfectly square. I used the Thomas the Train cotton fabric on one side and a navy swimsuit type of fabric on the other side. It’s stretchy so it’s a little more tricky to work with but it resists wrinkles and drapes nicely.
  • Magnets or velcro for the neck closure. I used a set of “magnetic sew on snaps” from JoAnns that worked perfectly. My son can easily take the cape off and on and it washes well without having to worry about the velcro wearing out.

To make the cape:

  1. Line up the two pieces of cape fabric with right sides together. Sew around the cape EXCEPT for along the bottom with a 1/4″ seam allowance.
  2. Turn cape right side out and press.
  3. Topstitch around the cape EXCEPT for along the bottom with a 1/4″ seam allowance.
  4. Line up magnets in the neck and make sure the magnetic poles are lined up so the magnets stick and don’t repel each other. The magnets should be inside the of the cape, the photo above just shows the placement.
  5. Sew a seam across the neck pieces right below the magnet to hold it in place. The magnets may want to stick to your sewing machine. If this is the case put a piece of cardboard or thick cloth under the magnet (just make sure you don’t accidentally catch it in the needle!).
  6. Fold the bottom 1 1/2″ of the cape to the inside. If you have trouble folding in the fabric, try cutting off an inch of each corner before folding.
  7. Sew 2 seams across the bottom of the cape, one 3/4″ and one slightly above that.

Notes on the pattern: You’ll print out 7 total pages. The first 4 pages are the right side of the cape and the last 3 pages are the left side. Just line up the stars and tape the pages together. And if you look closely at the photo below, yes, the little guy is sporting his first black eye. I think it goes along with the cape pretty well.

 

Book Winner

Congrats to #138, Julie, winner of the Sew What! Bags book. She said, “I would LOVE to win this book!  I love bags and have gotten my granddaughters and daughters addicted to them too.  It would be so fun to make some new bags for all of us!”

If you didn’t win, check out Storey Publishing on Facebook for a chance to win great prizes every Friday in February.

Online Sewing Class

Giveaway! Modern Fabric Studio

Modern Fabric Studio

Modern Fabric Studio is giving one lucky Craft Buds reader a $25 credit to go shopping for fabric! That goes a long way, considering shop owner Amanda Norton has a WINTER SALE going on right now, with 20% to 35% all fabric collections.

If you spend $50…you receive 1 FREE YARD of Your Choice!
If you spend $100…you receive 2 FREE YARDS of Your Choice! 

Hurry now…before the sale ends!!

Will you pick . . .

Valori Wells Karavan from $3.33 per half-yard

Valori Wells Karavan from $6.18/yard

LouLouThi Flannel from $6.82/yard

LouLouThi Flannel from $6.82/yard

Free Spirit Solids from $4.56/yard

Free Spirit Solids from $4.56/yard

 

PLUS, you can save 10% on your order with the coupon code CRAFTBUDS.

Giveaway!

Amanda is offering one Craft Buds reader $25 shop credit to spend on anything in the shop. And with her Sale Fabrics (designer cotton prints starting at $5 per yard and designer voile starting at just $8 per yard) that’s a you can score big . . .

Giveaway now closed.

To enter:

  1. Browse Modern Fabric Studio and leave a comment telling us what you’d like to buy with your shop credit.
  2. “Like” Modern Fabric Studio on Facebook and leave a comment.

That’s 2 chances to win! This giveaway is open worldwide, and we’ll choose one lucky winner on Friday, Feb. 10.

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