Quick Quilting Tips: Pinning Alternatives

Welcome to readers of Amy Smart’s Fabulously Fast Quilts blog hop! I’m happy to visit today to share my favorite quick quilting tip, along with the other bloggers on the tour.…

Summer Skirts with Simplicity 2606

  Over a year ago, a friend proposed a trade. Jayne would take photos of our family and newborn son and I’d make her a couple skirts. Over a year…

Sew Easy Burp Cloth Tutorial

The other evening, I was trying to pull double duty. I held the baby on one hip while tossing some vegetables in the skillet. My husband walked in the kitchen…

Quick Quilting Tips: Pinning Alternatives

Welcome to readers of Amy Smart’s Fabulously Fast Quilts blog hop! I’m happy to visit today to share my favorite quick quilting tip, along with the other bloggers on the tour.…

The Colette Sewing Handbook Q&A + Giveaway

Sarai Mitnick Headshot

Today I’m excited to share this inspiring interview with a woman who left her corporate job to carve out a niche for herself in the creative marketplace.  Please welcome Sarai Mitnick to Craft Buds!

Sarai runs a successful sewing pattern business working out of her beautiful studio in Portland. Just take a gander at the lovely sewing studio photos she shared below! She also blogs at The Coletterie and recently authored The Colette Sewing Handbook (F+W Media).

Sarai Mitnick Studio - Fabric Scraps
Sarai, can you tell me a bit about your transition from a corporate job to owning your own creative business?

The biggest challenge was uncertainty. I had a pretty great job in the corporate tech world, and it can feel like you’re a little crazy for wanting to leave a stable, prestigious, well-paying career for something that’s basically a huge question mark.

But when it came right down to it, I knew I wasn’t happy. I felt bored and tired, and a worst of all, like I was wasting my time and creative abilities. It’s not a good feeling to be stuck in a pointless meeting and realizing that your life is passing by. I liked my job in theory, but in practice working for a big company was really not what I was suited to.

I’m pretty careful about money, so I spent some time saving up so I could fund the business myself. That really helped. But there were other things I would miss, like proper health insurance and tons of other perks. My employer gave us free meals, for goodness sake! But we made a go of it and I must say, it was the best decision I’ve ever made. I love being in charge, I love the creative flexibility, and I love the people I get to work with. It’s hard work, but the freedom is such an amazing gift. I am very grateful that it’s worked out.

Sarai Mitnick Sewing Studio
What’s your process for writing a new pattern?

We start with some basic ideas about an overall look, combined with requirements about what kinds of patterns we need in the overall collection. I factor in things like skill level, separates vs. dresses, and season.

Once we have several sketches and ideas, Caitlin and I discuss them and narrow it down to the few we’ll finally release. We then draft the pattern digitally, and make up many samples and muslins. The number really depends on the type of garments, with pants taking the most test runs. I think Caitlin sewed over 10 muslins to get the fit exactly right for our new pants pattern! I’d say that more typically, there are 3 or 4 muslins. Often times, little design changes have to be made as well as fitting changes, since things do look different when made up much of the time.

At this point, there is the grading and instructions to do, which is another very long process, and finally the photo shoot. It’s fun, but it takes a long, long time.

Sarai Mitnick - studio sofa
I’m excited about your new book, The Colette Sewing Handbook. So, how did it come to be?

I had a vague idea that I wanted to write a sewing book when the publisher approached me. My original concept was quite different and more specific, but my wonderful editor encouraged me to think a little more broadly and write more of a teaching manual of sorts.

My concept was to build on the sewing fundamentals that are so often overlooked. I think experienced sewists will tell you that things like understanding fabric and getting a nice fit are the keys to making the sorts of garments you daydream about. But no one seems to emphasize this when we’re starting out! So many of us just learn as we go, which is fantastic, but sometimes it takes us a long time to realize that we should pay attention to things like fabric quality. I know it was this way for me.

So my book focuses on five things: planning your sewing, using patterns, understanding fabric, getting a good fit, and finishing techniques. I suppose I wished that someone had come along years ago and said, “hey, slow down, enjoy the process more, and pay attention to this stuff and you’ll make some really cool things.”

I did enjoy the book writing process, because I truly love BIG projects. I’m a planner. And I like figuring out the best ways to communicate ideas, be it an anecdote or a tutorial. So writing a book was a lot of fun for me. It was a ton of work though. Like a lot of things worth doing, it wasn’t easy, but it was still an amazing experience that I wouldn’t trade.

Sarai Mitnick Sewing Desk
Do you have any tips for someone who is looking to launch a creative business?

Don’t be afraid to do something different! There are a lot of mediocre products out there that try to appeal to the masses. Instead, look for the niche of people that you can really do amazing things for.

My other advice is just to be kind. If you are generous, helpful, and thoughtful towards others, it’ll make you a happier person and it will come back to you in spades. I guess it sounds like a cliche, but the more you think about how you can help other people, the more help will come your way when you need it.

Sarai Mitnick Studio Thread
What’s next for you, Sarai?

Some time off! We’ve got new patterns in the works for the Spring, of course, but I’m planning to make next year a little easier. I do have some ideas up my sleeve for some crafty stuff that’s not purely sewing pattern related, but it’s just an idea at this stage. In the meantime, I’m taking a little trip to Argentina and slowing down to think!

Sarai Mitnick Bookshelf

This is the first stop on Sarai’s blog tour for this book. Check out the full list of participants, so you can follow along!

Nov. 1: The ColetterieIntro and giveaway
Nov 2: Craft Buds – Interview and giveaway
Nov. 3: Gertie’s New Blog for Better Sewing – Lace insertion tutorial for the Licorice dress
Nov. 4: Sewaholic – Book excerpt
Nov. 7: COLOURlovers – Sarai’s favorite prints and patterns
Nov. 8: Flossie Teacakes – Interview with Sarai and book review
Nov. 8: A Fashionable Stitch – Book excerpt and review
Nov. 9: Pink Chalk Studio – Book review
Nov. 10: Craft Gossip – Interview with Sarai and giveaway
Nov. 11: Bolt Fabric – Book review
Nov. 14: True Up – Fabric Fives with Sarai
Nov. 15: Frolic! – On styling the book’s photos
Nov. 16: Whipstitch – Book review
Nov. 16: Honeykennedy – Styling ideas
Nov. 17: A Dress a Day – Interview with Sarai
Nov. 18: Not Martha – Book review
(break for Thanksgiving week)
Nov. 28: Casey’s Elegant Musings – Project Planning, book excerpt and Casey’s thoughts
Nov. 29: MADE – Giveaway
Nov. 30: Sew Weekly – Book review
Nov. 30: Oh! Fransson - Elizabeth’s version of the Taffy pattern
Dec. 1: Sew Mama Sew – Guest post from Sarai on grainlines

Free Webinar: Sarai is also hosting a free webinar on November 10, and she’ll teach you how fabric is made, how to speak the language of textiles, how to choose appropriate fabrics for your sewing projects, and more. Register today, because seating is limited. There’s also a book discount for all webinar attendees.

Giveaway!

Giveaway now closed. Congrats Margie! F+W Media is generously giving one reader the chance to win a copy of The Colette Sewing Handbook by Sarai Mitnick! To enter to win, leave a comment on this post telling us one thing you’ve learned from this interview. (U.S. entries only.)

We’ll announce one winner on Wednesday, November 9.

The Colette Sewing Handbook


Epic Letterpress, It Kits + Giveaway!

Lifestyle Craft’s Epic is an extremely versatile crafting tool. It functions as a die cutter, embosser and a letterpress. For whatever purpose you use the Epic, there’s a wide variety of shapes and styles for holidays, occasion or every day use. Right now in the Lifestyle shop there are over 500 different items to use with the Epic!

Some of my favorite dies are the ones that fold up into boxes and treat bags like these Halloween cracker boxes featured on the Lifestyle Crafts L Blog.

Lifestyle Crafts has just released their new “It Kits”, including a Clip It Kit, Tag It Kit and an Edge It Kit. I was sent the Edge It Kit that includes 7 border dies perfect for making cards. Here’s the complete set of dies that are 6″ across and a variety of widths.

 

Using the Epic

The Epic is very easy to use. From bottom to top, just stack up the cutting board, the die, your paper, and the cutting mat. Then use the handle to run that through the Epic and your paper is die cut!

Sometimes I’ve had a little trouble with my paper shifting as I’ve run it through so I’ve just used a post-it note to help hold it in place.

After running the sandwich of cutting board, die, paper, and cutting mat through the Epic, just peel your paper carefully away from the die. You can see that there’s white spongy areas in the die that press out any closed areas so you don’t have to spend any time pulling out all those little pieces. The little pieces just stick to the cutting mat (right side of the photo below) and are easily brushed off.

My Project

With the It Kit, I decided to make a paper wreath. I cut forty 4 1/4″ squares and used the border dies to cut one side of each square. Below is a sample of the six dies I used. After all my squares had a border, I folded them into cones and used a hot glue gun to secure the cone.

Next I hot glued an outer ring of cones to a cardboard circle. The circle has an 8″ diameter and a 3″ hole in the center. Then I glued on an inner ring of cones and smashed down the point of each cone so it stood up more.

Once all the cones were glued on, I glued an orange ribbon around the center of the wreath and it was ready to hang!

Discount

You can find more great information on the L Blog including demos and tutorials and see a variety of completed projects. And if you’re in the market to buy any Lifestyle Crafts products, check out our button on the sidebar for a code for 20% off your order!

Giveaway

Lifestyle has generously given us an Epic Combo Kit (a $170 value) to give away to one of our lucky readers! The combo kit comes with everything you need to get started die cutting and embossing.

To enter: This giveaway is now closed.

  1. Just leave us a comment telling us what you would use the Epic for.
  2. For a bonus entry, leave one comment letting us know if you’re a follower of Craft Buds through Google Friend Connect, RSS feed or e-mail.

Contest is open to US residents only through Tuesday, November 8 at midnight EST. The winner will be chosen by Random.org and announced the next day.

Bonus Giveaway! Lifestyle Crafts is currently hosting a giveaway on their site for an incredible Canon 60D camera and aqua Jo Totes bag. Just create an account to enter through midnight on Monday, November 7.

Last Minute Halloween Costume Inspiration

If you waited until today to start working on Halloween costumes, you’re in luck! There are some great resources out there with inspiration and instruction for easy costumes.

Disney Family Fun has a huge list of costumes and accessories with easy to follow instructions for many of the ideas.

Martha Stewart has over 50 Halloween Costumes and instructions (some are more time intensive than others).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Doggie Stylish has a list of ideas for your dog.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And for more ideas, a search on Google image search or Pinterest brings up tutorials for individual costumes on many craft and sewing blogs.

 

Have a safe and happy Halloween!

Handmade Wholesale: Comparing the Daily Deal Sites

When sales are slow and production is steady, some handmade artists consider marketing their goods to wholesale clients or taking a chance on a “Daily Deal” site.

Online wholesale companies or daily deal sites all work differently, but they have one thing in common: a large subscription base in which they can promote your products to new and interested buyers. Here’s a little roundup of these companies, so you can compare the facts and see if one might work for your handmade business.

 

Fair Ivy

Fair Ivy Collage Fair Ivy may be interested in buying your handmade products for inclusion in its surprise gift boxes.

Here’s how it works. If you have something you’d like to offer for wholesale, you can e-mail newproducts@fairivy.com. If they are interested in one of your products, you’ll be given some more information on how the process works. Fair Ivy will pay 40% of the normal retail price for your product (so they’ll buy a $10 item for $4), buying anywhere from 40 to 100 of your product (with the average being 60 items). They will also reimburse you for shipping charges, and then mail out your handmade goods as a part of their surprise gift subscriptions.

A benefit to working with Fair Ivy is that you do not have to mail out many individual orders. You will, however, need to package each item as if you would send it to a dear friend, gift-wrapped with information about your handmade shop and the process you used to make the item. Once your items are wrapped and Fair Ivy has agreed on the number they will purchase, you can expect immediate reimbursement via PayPal.

During the month your craft is featured in a Fair Ivy surprise package, you are forbidden from blogging about it or sharing the news on social media sites. However, after the month is finished, you are free to reveal the surprise and your shop will also be featured on the Fair Ivy website. Visit Fair Ivy on Facebook.

 

Heartsy

Heartsy Screenshot

The easiest way to describe Heartsy is Groupon for Etsy. Basically, handmade sellers (most have Etsy stores, but some use other mediums), offer a “deal of the day” for Heartsy members, which is at least 50% off normal retail prices. They benefit from having a large amount of traffic to their shop and many orders in just a few days. The orders are shipped directly to the buyers, and never transfer through Heartsy headquarters. Heartsy makes its money by charging buyers a small $1 to $3 transaction fee and selling VIP memberships at $7.99 per month.

To be a featured seller on Heartsy, the first step is to register and set up a free account. Once registered, the seller submits their work to be voted on by fellow registered users. Voting remains open for 3 days, and the stats are compiled to see if the artist’s work would likely translate into sales. Heartsy staff reviews the submission (can take several weeks) and will get in touch with the potential seller to further discuss the deal.

If the seller is accepted, Heartsy will work with them to finalize the best pricing strategy for their deal. For instance, the seller might offer a $19 voucher to their shop, but sell this for $9 to Heartsy members. There is an extra incentive for Heartsy VIP members, which means the seller will offer then am additional $10 of shop credit if they purchase the deal.

One Etsy seller had this to say about selling on Heartsy: “I would recommend it one time in your business career. But be overly prepared for the biggest storm! I thought I was pretty prepared, but find myself still catching up after 3 weeks. So it’s definitely a lot of work, but worth it for the increased exposure!” Visit Heartsy on Facebook.

 

Very Jane

Very Jane on Facebook

To apply to be a featured seller on Very Jane, you should e-mail featureme@veryjane.com.

Sellers are featured for 24 to 48 hours, and Very Jane collects orders for the seller. After the sales period is complete, the seller obtains a spreadsheet of everyone they sold to and their addresses. They can then make their product, and ship it straight to the customers. An advantage of Very Jane is that the wholesale products do not have to be made, and they can be made-to-order.

Very Jane takes a 25% to 30% commission (a higher fee on items priced less than $5, to cover credit card fees) for featuring its sellers. This does not include the shipping fee, which all goes to the seller. To ensure that the product and packaging is up-to-par, Very Jane requests that sellers send a sample product after the seller is booked but before they run their deal. Sellers can be featured multiple times on Very Jane. Communication with Very Jane is prompt and clear. Visit Very Jane on Facebook.

 

GroopDealz

Groopdealz product

GroopDealz is a Daily Deal site that features crafters in exchange for a 30% commission on the purchase price of the product (not including shipping, which the crafter keeps). Half of the commission is awarded within 7 days of all orders being placed through GroopDealz. The other half is reserved until the featured crafter fulfills all the orders and marks them as shipped through the GroopDealz website.

One perk is that GroopDealz will cover all the PayPal and credit card fees, so the featured crafter doesn’t have to worry about anything but shipping products. In order to be featured on GroopDealz, the crafter must fill out a submission form and send non-returnable product sample to GroopDealz to ensure quality. On the downside, many Etsy artists who’ve tried to get featured on GroopDealz have noted that it can be difficult to hear back from their staff.  Visit GroopDealz on Facebook.

 

Pick Your Plum

Pick Your Plum

Pick Your Plum is a different kind of daily deals site, in that it offers craft supplies at a discounted rate. Think white t-shirts, ribbons and jewelry findings. But, some of the deals border on handmade goods, like personalized wooden signs, so this may be more of a direction in the future.

Deals go up daily Monday through Friday at 7am (MST), and quantities are limited. Their daily newsletter is the best way to keep up with the offerings, and perhaps more information for handmade sellers will be available in the future. Visit Pick Your Plum on Facebook.

 

Crafty Steals / Stitch Steals


Crafty Steals is a website that offers discounts of up to 90% off retail prices. They major in paper crafting supplies, and interested wholesalers can contact them at stephanie@craftysteals.com for more information on having a product featured. Visit Crafty Steals on Facebook.

Stitch Steals is the fabric version of Crafty Steals, selling bundles of quilting fabric for up to 90% off. The deals are typically closer to 50% off retail prices, and past deals have featured layer cakes, fat quarter bundles, buttons and quilting notions.  Interested fabric wholesalers can write stephanie@craftysteals.com for more information on having a product featured. Visit Stitch Steals on Facebook.

In Summary:

Daily Deal and wholesale websites can offer perks such as:

  • Increased exposure in a short amount of time
  • Residual traffic to your shop after the promotion
  • Reduced marking fees and often purchase transaction fees

But even with these perks, it’s essential to make sure you’ll still make a profit on your handmade goods after the numbers are crunched. With products flying off the shelves at 50% to 60% of the normal retail price, sellers need to count in all the expenses, including shipping and production costs. Also, it’s important to make sure you’ll be able to fill the orders in a given time period, so keep that in mind when accepting an offer.

Do you have experiences with any of these companies that you’d like to share? Please leave us a comment (or question); we’ love to hear what you think!

 

Winner!

Out of 402 comments, the winner of the $50 shop credit to Mountain of the Dragon is . . .

mountain of the dragon

#282 Cori! It looks like Cori is a quilter, so I bet she’s going to have a blast looking through the selection of modern designer fabrics. I just peeked at the shop, and there are even some sales going on!

Thank you all so much for the nice comments, and be sure to stop by the Giveaways Roundup which is updated weekly with contests from around the Web. Lots of chances to win fabric, craft books and handmade goodness.

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Crafty Kitchen: Oreo Spiders

I’ve had a lot of fun coming up with Halloween related goodies like our Owl S’mores and now these spiders!

These are an easy treat to make. For ingredients you’ll need: Twizzlers Pull and Peel licorice, M&Ms, Double Stuf Oreos, and chocolate candy melts or 1 cup chocolate chips + 1 Tbsp. vegetable shortening, sprinkles (optional)

First, peel apart your Twizzlers and cut the strings in half or in thirds (I wanted short legs so they’d be easier to stack on a plate, so I did thirds). Then, open up your Oreos and gently press four pieces of licorice into the white filling.

Melt your chocolate candy melts or your chocolate chips + vegetable shortening (1 cup chips and 1 Tbsp. shortening). You can find tips on melting chocolate chips for dipping here. Then use a spoon to flip and cover both sides of the Oreo top with chocolate.

Then use the spoon to remove the cookie from the chocolate, tap off any excess chocolate, and slide the chocolate covered cookie on top of your Oreo bottom with the legs. While the chocolate is wet, press two M&Ms in for eyes and if you choose to use sprinkles, sprinkle them on top. Dip a toothpick into the melted bowl of chocolate and use it to form the center of the eyes.

Depending on how much chocolate you use, you can get around 20 spiders from 1 cup chocolate chips and if you divide the licorice into thirds, you can get 6 sets of legs from each piece of pre-separated licorice. You can also offset the top Oreo a bit so it looks like your spider has a friendly white smile like the center one below.

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Patchwork Scarf Tutorial + Giveaway

Hello, and welcome to visitors of the 12 Gifts of Christmas blog hop! Twelve sewing and quilting bloggers have joined together to share handmade holiday gift tutorials to get you ready for the season of giving. I’m very honored to be one of them! And in case you’ve been following along, you probably know that there’s a fabric giveaway at the end of this post. It’s sponsored by Mountain of the Dragon, one of my favorite online shops to browse for Echino and other designer fabrics.

Today, I’m going to be sharing how to make a reversible patchwork scarf in a zig-zag or chevron design. You’ll need a charm pack (I used Hometown by Sweetwater) and 5/8 yard of Kona white fabric.  You’ll have leftovers of both. Also, you’ll want a rotary cutter and cutting mat, your sewing machine and matching thread.

To start, open your charm pack and sort by color family. For this scarf, my strongest color groups were the reds and blues, so these are the 18 charms I used for my scarf. You could easily make two of these scarves from one charm pack, in which case you’ll want to use 1 and 1/4 yard of Kona white.

DSC_0001

Next, you’ll want to chain piece your charm squares by sewing them directly onto the white fabric, right sides together. (Use a 1/4-inch seam allowance for all stitching.) The wrong side of the charm squares will face up as you stitch, and you’ll arrange them on the white one right after the other. You’ll cut these units apart later, but chain piecing these blocks is quick and uses minimal thread.

Chain Piecing the Charm Squares
Once you have stitched along one long side of all the charm squares, flip the long white piece of fabric around and stitch the other side down to the white, so that two opposite sides of each charm are sewn down to the white, and the other sides are free. (This is where you will later cut between each charm.) After this step is completed, you’ll have a long strip of charm squares facing the white fabric, right sides together.

Note: If you’d rather not chain piece, you can still complete this step by cutting out 18 five-inch white charms squares, and sewing the left and right edges of one white square to each of your colored charm squares, with the right sides touching.

Next, you’ll cut around the perimeter of each charm square backed in white, to set it free. Measure and cut each quilt-block sandwich into two 2.5-inch halves, making sure the stitched sides are to the left and right of your cut line (not top and bottom).

Cut Apart the Blocks

Open up the new charms, which are half-and-half. Bring them to your ironing board and press the seams open.

Trim and Arrange Blocks

Trim up the blocks to 4.5-inch squares with your rotary cutter. Arrange blocks in a zig zag (keeping the color groups of blue and reds together) like the photo. Pair darker with lighter values until you get an effect you like.

Next, you’ll want to cut twelve 4.5-inch squares from white fabric. Slice these blocks diagonally, from corner to corner as shown, to make triangular inserts. These will fill in the holes around your zig zags. For two of the scarf corners (top left and bottom right), you will cut one triangle in half again (from the top point to the center of the straight edge) to create even smaller triangles.

Cut triangles, piece rows

Piece the tiny corner triangle to the corner block, and then piece the side triangles to create your first row. You will join each diagonal row in the same way (see below). Take the pieces for the next row and line them up to sew. I used my cutting mat to accurately transport the blocks from the floor to my sewing machine, making sure to keep each block facing the right way.

Piece rows together
Once all of your diagonal rows are pieced together, join the rows, making sure to iron your seams open. Iron the scarf and trim off the fabric peaks along each edge.

Next, fold the scarf in half width-wise, so that the red and blue layers are touching. Stitch around the three loose sides, leaving a 2-inch gap in both the top and bottom. Use these gaps to help you turn the long scarf right-side out.

Finish Scarf

Press scarf flat and stitch 1/8-inch from the edge of the entire perimeter to close up the gaps from earlier. This will give a nice, finished edge to your scarf.

Patchwork Scarf

Voila! Flip it to either side to coordinate with your outfit. I think this lightweight scarf would make a great gift for a parent or grandparent. As a variation, you could use yardage of any fabric, instead of using a charm pack! How fun would this design be in solids, for a Charlie Brown effect?

Fabric lovers: How about a 15% off discount at Fabricworm? Use the coupon code fw12days through the end of the blog hop!

Here’s the rest of the blog hop schedule, and each stop contains a giveaway! Winners will be announced starting Wednesday, October 26. Also, if you make any of these handmade gifts, be sure to add your photos to the 12 Gifts of Christmas Flickr Group. There’s also a $250 Fabricworm grand prize giveaway over at Ellison Lane Quilts!

Friday, October 14- Jennifer/Ellison Lane Quilts
Saturday, October 15- Ayumi/Pink Penguin
Sunday, October 16- Amy/ Lots of Pink Here
Monday, October 17- Faith/Fresh Lemons Quilts
Tuesday, October 18- Penny/Sew Take a Hike
Wednesday, October 19- Kati/From the Blue Chair
Thursday, October 20- Lee/Freshly Pieced
Friday, October 21- Elizabeth/Don’t Call Me Betsy
Saturday, October 22- Melanie/Texas Freckles
Sunday, October 23- Lindsay/Craft Buds
Monday, October 24- Amanda/A Crafty Fox
Tuesday, October 25-Vanessa/Little Big Girl Studio

 

Giveaway!

Giveaway is now closed. Congrats to Cori!

Ready to win some fabric? Enter to win a $50 gift certificate to Mountain of the Dragon fabric shop by leaving one comment on this post! You can get one extra entry if you “Like” this post on Facebook and leave a second comment.

mountain of the dragon

They have some great Japanese prints and a great Echino selection! We will choose one winner via Random.org on Wednesday, October 26. Good luck!

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