Craft Book Authors: Project Linus

Welcome to our first Experts Q&A of Craft Book Month, where we attempt to unravel the mysteries of craft books from the people who make them happen. From authors to editors and others involved in the publishing process, it takes many hands to get a craft book from initial idea to the printed page.

Craft Book Month

Today we are excited to share a Q&A with Mary Balagna. She and Carol Babbitt are the forces behind the charity quilting effort Project Linus. Carol (left) and Mary (right) are the authors of a new book from Lark Crafts!

When you decided to start Project Linus, did you ever imagine the idea would grow this big?

Mary: The idea for Project Linus came about on Christmas Eve in 1995.  Although Carol and I were not the founders of Project Linus, we have been actively involved since 1998 beginning our tenure as chapter coordinators.  In mid-2000, the original Board of Directors was unable to keep up with the day to day operations of a nonprofit organization and decided to close Project Linus.

Chapter coordinators and volunteers across the country were devastated by the news.  It was at that time that Carol came to the rescue, became the National President and invited me to join with her as National Vice-president.  As we reorganized Project Linus, we hoped that we would find support from those who were coordinating chapters at the time. We were thrilled to have over 150 chapters join with us and Project Linus was reborn. Over the past 12 years, we have increased the number of chapters to nearly 400 with chapters in every state. So far over 4.25 million blankets have been donated to children in crisis.

Those numbers are astounding . . . Congratulations! Can you tell me how the book with Lark Crafts came about? Did you approach the publisher, or did they approach you?

Writing a book about Project Linus has been a dream Carol and I have had for many years. In February of 2010 we were contacted by a book agent from the Howard Morhaim Literary Agency asking us if we ever considered writing a book about Project Linus.  Of course our answer was YES – we would LOVE to!  We were thrilled to be presented with this exciting opportunity. Through our own words and personal experiences, the letters from children and their parents as well as the beautiful quilt patterns we designed and collected over the years, we were ready to share our passion and love for Project Linus!  Over the next few months we wrote a proposal which was taken to various publishers by our book agent. One year later, we accepted an offer from Lark Crafts to publish our book Quilt It With Love: The Project Linus Story.

Photo: Quilt it With Love on Facebook

From your end, what was the process of writing “Quilt it With Love”?

Once we signed our contract with Lark Crafts, we continued to collect and organize our thoughts, personal stories, patterns, tips, quilting instructions and thank you notes from recipients. We learned how to draw pattern illustrations and instructions on Microsoft Word (not an easy task for us), clarify our pattern directions and basic instructions even when we thought they were already clear, survived the rewrites and finally experienced a welcome sigh of relief when we finished the book in April of 2012.

Deadlines came quickly and although we always met our deadlines (in fact we were usually early), the days before were VERY long and quite stressful. We never felt like the wait was long – in fact it was just the opposite. We were writing the book and meeting deadlines while continuing our full time work with Project Linus, orchestrating our National Conference, running our local chapter along with taking care of our family obligations and there just never seemed to be enough hours in the day. But, we did it!


Do you have advice for someone who has an idea for making the world a better place through craft? How do you get from a small spark of an idea to an organized effort?

Carol and I both love to quilt and make other types of blankets. We knew that the hug of a quilt would bring comfort and security to those children experiencing a crisis. When you combine a craft that you love and then use that skill and expertise to touch the lives of others you create a magical combination that blossoms and grows.  On a personal note, my son and two of my grandchildren experienced a life changing health crisis (which my daughter and I describe in the book). This time of trial presented me with two perspectives when it came to Project Linus – that of a volunteer and that of a recipient parent. The personal experiences I have had, have taken my passion to a new level and my dedication to and love of Project Linus continues to grow stronger as a result.

The “spark” or “idea” comes when we recognize a need that we have the ability to fill.  The organized effort begins to evolve when “spark” ignites and others begin to share our passion.  When I could no longer fill the need on my own, I recruited helpers. More helpers = more blankets = more children served. We’re so very happy to be able to fill such a need in the life of a child, yet sad that the need exists.

If anyone is interested in contacting us to do a presentation on Project Linus and a book signing for Quilt It With Love: The Project Linus Story, we would love to discuss it with them!

Mary, thanks so much for joining us today! We are excited to check out your new book and hear what’s next for you.

Project Linus on Facebook | Quilt It With Love on Facebook

 

Giveaway!

Fat Quarter Shop $100

Don’t forget to enter the $100 + more Fat Quarter Shop Kickoff Giveaway! (Ends 9/5)

 

Also, if you are hopping with us this week, check out the craft book projects below. On Friday, we’ll post our blog hop “week in review” and tell you how you can win an amazing fabric bundle from FreeSpirit just for hopping along!

Sunday 9/2: Hopeful ThreadsThe Jolly Jabber
Monday 9/3: Stitchery Dickory DockMe Sew Crazy

Craft Book Month: Prizes and Sponsors

Craft Book Month at Craft Buds

Did you hear the Craft Book Month Announcement? We’re celebrating craft books all month in September, and want to invite you to be a part! Check out the blog all month for Q&As with craft book authors and publishers, and enter your craft book project for a chance to win awesome prizes from our Craft Book Month sponsors! Here’s a brief run-down of Craft Book Month and what you need to know.

 

Craft to Win

Link up your craft book project at Craft Buds from Sept 23-30 from your blog or Flickr account (contest guidelines here), and enter to win prizes. Winners will be announced on Monday, October, 1!

4 winners! $25 Gift Certificate from Fat Quarter Shop

3 winners! Dual Duty XP Thread Set and Anniversary Tin from Coats & Clark

1 Winner! Anna Maria Pearl Cotton gift box, Anna Maria Embroidery Floss gift box and Anna Maria patterns courtesy of FreeSpirit

1 Winner! 6×12 Frosted Ruler, 45mm Ergonomic Rotary Cutter and a 12×18 Double-Sided Self-Healing Rotary Mat from OLFA

1 Winner!
Prize Pack from Pellon featuring:
1 pkg 70 Peltex® Sew-in
-1 pkg 805R Wonder-Under®
-1 pkg Cheesecloth (36″ x 3 yards)
-1 pkg Perfect Loft™ Cluster Fiber (16 oz.)
-1 pkg Fusible Fleece
-1 pkg Craft-Fuse®
1 Winner! Fat quarter bundle of Sweetwater’s new collection “Noteworthy” from Moda, United Notions

1 Winner! Fat quarter bundle of V&Co.’s new collection “Simply Color”  courtesy of Moda, United Notions

Simply Color fat quarter bundle Moda V&Co

1 winner! Complete collection of 10 sewing patterns from Amanda Murphy Design

1 winner! Scrap Basket Sensations book and fabric Wee Folks jelly roll courtesy of Fabric Seeds

1 Winner! Pieces of Hope fabric bundle from Riley Blake Designs

1 winner! Three patterns of your choice from SUCH Designs

1 winner! $25 Shop credit from Zipit

1  Winner! 100 Moo Mini Cards to advertise your handmade business

1 Winner! Three Modern Quilt Relish patterns of your choice

1 winner! Little Stitches book from Stash Books
1 Winner! Anna Maria’s Needleworks Notebook from Wiley Craft

1 winner! Pair of Generation T books from Workman Publishing

1 winner! Skip the Borders from Martingale & Co.
1 winner! Sew Merry and Bright from Martingale & Co.

1 Winner! Heart Felt Holidays and Stash Happy Applique books from Lark Crafts

1 Winner! Grow Your Handmade Business book from Storey
1 Winner! “Yarn Bombing” book from Arsenal Pulp Press

yarn bombing book

 

FreeSpirit Fridays!

Each Friday of the blog hop (9/7, 9/14, 9/21), follow Craft Buds and comment to win a prize pack of FreeSpirit Designer Solids (1 fat quarter bundle, 1 design roll and 2 charm packs) courtesy of FreeSpirit! There will be a new winner each week!

 

Book Giveaways + More!

Follow Craft Buds in September and comment to win a complete set of patterns from Angela Yosten Designs, craft books from your favorite publishers and some more surprises along the way!

 

Thank you to our Craft Book Month sponsors!





 

And all month long, you can win craft books from:

 

 

Kickoff Giveaway

Fat Quarter Shop $100

Don’t forget to enter the $100 + more Fat Quarter Shop Kickoff Giveaway! (Ends 9/5)

Craft Book Month 2012 + Giveaway!

Do you love craft books? During the month of September, we are happy to host our 2nd Annual Craft Book Month featuring expert Q&As, a crafty contest, free patterns and lots of prizes!

Craft Book Month

This is going to be a *huge celebration* all things craft books. In fact, just look at the awesome guest bloggers who will be sharing their craft book projects in an inspirational blog hop all month long!

Blog Hop

Week One

Sunday 9/2: Hopeful Threads / The Jolly Jabber
Monday 9/3: Stitchery Dickory DockMe Sew Crazy
Tuesday 9/4: Olive & OllieSew Sweetness
Wednesday 9/5: Fabric SeedsThe Busy Bean
Thursday 9/6: CraftFoxesStitched In Color
Friday 9/7: Katie’s KornerA Prairie Sunrise

Week Two
Sunday 9/9: Sweet Diesel Designsmissknitta’s studio
Monday 9/10: Sew TaraClover and Violet
Tuesday 9/11: Sew Fantasticamylouwho
Wednesday 9/12: Projektownia JednoiglecTwo More Seconds
Thursday 9/13: Ellison Lane QuiltsDon’t Call Me Betsy
Friday 9/14: Live a Colorful LifeLRstitched

Week Three

Sunday 9/16: Fairy Face DesignsCanoe Ridge Creations
Monday 9/17: Inspire Me GreyFreshly Pieced
Tuesday 9/18: Lindsay SewsThe Cute Life
Wednesday 9/19: The Littlest ThistleSew Crafty Jess
Thursday 9/20: Urban Stitchesimagine gnats
Friday 9/21: Sew Bittersweet DesignsThe Plaid Scottie

Week Four
Link up your craft book project at Craft Buds from Sept 23-30 from your blog or Flickr account, and enter to win prizes. Winners will be announced on Monday, October, 1!

To participate in the month-long contest, just link up any project you’ve made from a pattern in a craft book. That easy! You’ll tell us a little about the book, the project, how you personalized it, etc.

Rules:

1) One entry per person.

2) Your craft book project must have been completed in 2012.

3) Create a new blog post or Flickr photo (dated September 1, 2012 or later) and link back to Craft Buds/Craft Book Month in your post or photo description.

No time to create a project? This month, just follow the Craft Buds blog and Comment to Win some new craft books and lots of giveaways! We’ll also have expert Q-and-As to show you what it takes to write a craft book, from the initial idea to the layout, photography and the actual printed product. We cannot wait to get this party started!

Prizes:

Visit Craft Buds and link up your craft book project during the window of Sept 23-30 and you’ll automatically be entered to win some fantastic prizes from our Craft Book Month sponsors! Click here for the full run-down of prizes and sponsors.

 

Kickoff Giveaway!

To help kick off the Craft Book Month contest in style, Fat Quarter Shop is helping us celebrate with a big giveaway! One winner will take home a $100 gift certificate to shop for some new fabric, craft books and notions.


Ten winners will get a new craft book to help work out that creativity! This is the perfect excuse to make that project you’ve had your eye one, but haven’t carved out the time for.

Fat Quarter Shop is giving away 1 copy each of Quilts from the House of Tula Pink by Tula Pink, Sewing ModKid Style by Patty Young, Skip the Borders by Julie Herman, Stop Go Quilt Sew by Angela Yosten and Sunday Morning Quilts by Amanda Jean Nyberg and Cheryl Arkison.

Craft Buds is giving away 1 copy each of Modern Basics by Amy Ellis, Reinvention by Maya Donenfeld, We Make Dolls! by Jenny Doh, New Dimensions in Bead and Wire Jewelry by Margot Potter and More Teach Yourself VISUALLY Jewelry Making by Chris Franchetti Michaels.

Fill out the Rafflecopter form below for your chance to win! The kickoff giveaway ends Wednesday, 9/5 at 11:59 ET, when we’ll randomly choose 11 winners. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Craft Book Month at Craft Buds

Sponsors: Amanda Murphy DesignAngela Yosten PatternsCoats & ClarkFabric SeedsFat Quarter ShopFreeSpirit FabricsMartingale & Co.Moda United NotionsOLFAPellonRiley BlakeStash BooksStoreySUCH Designs /  WileyWorkmanZipit

Pinterest Tips for Craft Bloggers

Like Flickr, Pinterest has become a creative playground for those seeking DIY inspiration, recipe ideas and images that can help inspire their personal style. If you have a personal Pinterest account, you are probably already aware of this tool and how it can help you grow your handmade business or craft blog.

According to Cision, though Pinterest has only 7% of the users that Twitter has, it produces about the same amount of referral traffic (i.e. visits to your blog or handmade business site from Pinterest). This is huge, especially for crafters who are a key market for this visually inspiring social network!

If you’d like to learn to use Pinterest to help promote your handmade business or creative blog, here are some simple tips gathered from around the Web, as well as some general social media advice you may not have thought of.

Add a Pin It Button to your website and individual posts.

You may have added a Pin It Button to your personal Internet browser, so you can pin content while surfing the Web. The Pin It Button for websites is a little bit different than this. It’s a handy little tool that you can add to your blog’s home page as well as each post. If you use Blogger, check out this handy tutorial from BloggerSentral on how to add the Pin It Button to each of your blog posts automatically. There’s also a counter to show you how many times a reader has pinned your page. WordPress bloggers can download a plug-in to achieve the same result.

Describe your images.

This may seem self explanatory, but the search engines will not automatically see a photo of your quilt and know what it is. So instead of labeling your photo “My first one,” make a practice of using descriptive keywords for each image that you pin from your site. You might say, “Baby booties sewn with felt scraps” or “Cashmere sweater with mohair,” for instance.

Pinterest Tip: If you run an Etsy shop or other online business, it might even help to list the price for the items you pin from your shop, like “Designer fabric fat quarters, $2 each or $10 for six at [Shop Name and URL].”

Pinterest-Tips-Hashtags

Use hashtags.

If you read our Twitter Tips for Crafters, you know that hashtags (#craft, #sewing, #recipes) are keywords that can help others find your posts. In the same way, keywords with hashtags can help Pinterest users to find you. For instance, if you search for the term “cake pops” in Pinterest, you’ll come up with several boards and businesses that sell cake pops. But the easiest way to find cake pop tutorials is to search for #cakepops.

Pinterest Tip: Try a few searches for craft tutorials or handmade products, and see what you find out. If you notice a lot of search results coming up on the top of the page, see what method those crafters use in their descriptions.

Describe yourself and your crafts.

Add descriptions to your About section, and use specific keywords in your Pinterest board names. For instance, a general board like “Crafts” will not be as specific as “Paper Crafts” or “Handmade Wedding Invitations.” Target your keywords to the reader you’d like to find you, and don’t be afraid to create a larger number of more specified boards.

Make friends and interact.

As a craft blogger or handmade business owner, it’s important yet humbling to realize that the whole world does not revolve around you and your pins. There are millions of creative people who have talented content to share (much of it for free!) and if you are genuine and supportive, leaving comments on other people’s pins, people tend to respond by being support of you as well. This is true with any type of social media! If you are only in it to support yourself, it ceases to become “social.”

knit cowl free pattern

Try something new.

Once you’ve established a presence on Pinterest and found a group of other users to interact with, try one or more of these ideas to grow your reach.

– Link your Pinterest profile to a Facebook or Twitter account, for automatic sharing of your pins.

– Start a user-generated pinboard, where others can add pins to projects they’ve made from your tutorials.

– Create a video gallery and promote videos related to your niche, whether that’s jewelry making or DIY desserts.

– Host a Pinterest contest, following these tips from Command Partners.

– Track your traffic generated by Pinterest with these tips from Mashable.

– If you are running Pinterest for your company or organization, create a more personal feel by creating a pinboard for “office life” where you show the events you attend, projects you’re working on, and more. This gives a more personal feel and can help bring more of an actual face to your brand, which is especially important when it comes to handmade businesses.

Play by the rules.

It’s common Pinterest etiquette to always check the source of pins before repinning, which will help you avoid copyright infringement. For instance, if a pin links back to the direct image of an URL (an otherwise blank page), the owner of the photo is not getting credit. Also, if you pin an image from a crafty round-up, the owner of the image is also probably not getting credit. To be on the safe side, always go to the original post on which the image appears before pinning.

Many bloggers will let you know if they are “Pinterest friendly” or if they’d prefer for you not to pin images from their blog. When pinning items from an Etsy shop or online seller, do not pin an item to your board of things you’d like “To Make.” It’s better to pin a free tutorial for a related project than to tell a seller you’d rather make than purchase their handmade items.

Enjoy these Pinterest tips, and please let us know in the comments if you have any questions or tips of your own!

Giveaway! Bella and Liberty Fabrics

At Craft Buds, we believe in coming alongside crafters who want to start their own handmade business, and today I’d like to introduce you to Sara of Sew Sweetness! Yes, she made all of these amazing outfits. And she wants to write sewing patterns and teach you how to do the same with step-by-step, easy-to-follow patterns.

Sara has launched a Kickstarter campaign to help her raise the funds to start drafting sewing patterns for clothing. She also makes some of the best FREE bag and purse tutorials online. We want to support her in this new endeavor, so we’re giving away some lovely fabric in support of Sara’s new project. Sara says:

My Kickstarter goal minimum is to raise the money to buy a package of quality garment pattern drafting software, which will allow my patterns to be available in sizes XXS-XXL. I would like to produce my instructions as a PDF. All pattern pieces would be included, as well as full-color step-by-step photos and very detailed sewing instructions. The finished patterns would be available online as downloads.

I wish I could do this on my own, but I just can’t! I work at a pet store on the weekends so I can stay home with my kids during the week while my husband is at work, and I think this is a way that I can not only better myself, but help my kids learn about hard work and that it’s possible to do something that you love.

Giveaway!

To enter this giveaway, visit Sara’s Kickstarter campaign and make a donation of any amount ($1, $5, any amount!). Then come back here and leave a comment letting us know you’ve donated.

One randomly drawn winner will receive the soon-to-be-released, oh so cute Lotta Jansdotter Bella Fat Quarter Bundle! (image courtesy redpepperquilts.com)

 

One randomly drawn winner will get this gorgeous charm pack of Liberty Art Fabrics from Sara’s stash. (See more drool-worthy pics of this fabric from Sara’s Quilt Market post, here!)

Besides being one of the nicest, most generous sewists in blogland, Sara is a mom to two adorable kids and she is extremely passionate about teaching others to sew. Let’s help Sara kickstart her new handmade business! As a bonus, you can donate for one of the set amounts and can pre-order Sara’s dress patterns or get some other fun rewards once Sara meets her goal!

Sara’s Blog | Facebook | Twitter

 

So, if you’d like to enter to win one these prizes, just pop on over to Kickstarter, make a donation of any amount, and then leave us a comment to say you did! This giveaway is open worldwide and closes on Friday, August 10, 2012.

Update: Congrats to our winners, #40 Cassandra (Bella fat quarter bundle) and #7 Carlyn Jane (Liberty charms)! Thanks to all who donated, because it looks like Sara is going to beat her original fundraising goal!

QuiltCon Block Challenge

Have you followed the QuiltCon Block Challenge?

The assignment is to create a modern quilt block inspired by the colors of the QuiltCon logo. QuiltCon is the inaugural modern quilting conference of The Modern Quilt Guild, to be held in Austin, Texas this February 2013! Here are just a few of the stunning blocks in the Flickr pool.

SBAMQG QuiltCon blocks July Meeting
Flickr/capitolaquilter (SBA Modern Quilt Guild entries)

QuiltCon Block
Flickr/AQuiltingJewel

Fabric stack and quiltcon challenge
Flickr/Sewmama123

QuiltCon block
Flickr/liveacolorfullife

Elephant Crossing
Flickr/ircabbit


Flickr/ReannaLilyDesigns


Flickr/vardewoman

The 20+ winning blocks selected by Elizabeth Hartman will be included in a quilt to be raffled off to one lucky winner, and the other blocks will be made into charity quilts. Very inspiring! The deadline for entries is August 15, so there’s still time to design your QuiltCon block.

QuiltCon happens February 21-24, 2013 in Austin, Texas. Conference registration opens August 30, 2012, and modern quilters are welcome to submit quilt entries to the show between August 1 and November 30, 2012.

Is anyone going to QuiltCon? Are you making a block for the QuiltCon Block Challenge?

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