Letterpress Baby Announcement

I’ve posted about the Epic Six in the past when I’ve used it for die cutting, but you can also use it to letterpress! We’ve got a baby due soon so I decided to get a head start on baby announcements. I used the Epic to create these “it’s a boy” cards using their petite printing plates, part of the letterpress collection.

I used white ink on the navy background and navy ink on the white background. This was my first test of using the Epic to letterpress. I’m happy to report that it was a fairly easy process and it didn’t take me long to get set up and create a whole stack of cards!

The only problem I had was sometimes ink would get on the sides of the words and it would show up in the final pressing. You can see a little extra in next to “boy” on the top card and next to “it’s” on the bottom one. I used an x-acto blade to trim down the sides of the word plates and was more careful about inking and then things went smoothly. You can learn more about the entire letterpressing process here on the Lifestyle Crafts blog.

I put together a template so after the baby is born I can fill it in with a baby photo and his name, weight, length and the date. Then I’ll have it printed as a photo and glue it to the back of each of my letterpress cards.

 

If you want to purchase anything from Lifestyle Crafts, don’t forget to use our coupon code CRAFTBUDS for an extra 20% off! Today is the last day to take advantage of free shipping for orders over $25.

Book Review: Everyday Handmade + Giveaway!

Today, we are happy to have a guest post from Elizabeth at Inspire Me Grey. She is here to review a new sewing book and show off her projects, plus we also have a giveaway courtesy of the book’s publisher, Martingale & Co. (Enter with your comment at the end of this post.) Take it away, Elizabeth!

Everyday Handmade: 22 Practical Projects for the Modern Sewist by Cassie Barden and Adrienne Smitke (Martingale) is a promising addition to any modern sewist’s craft library. Whether you’re looking for a small, simple project to give you a break from that quilt you’ve been slaving over or you’re in the mood to create something featuring some favorite fabrics from your stash, Everyday Handmade is likely to please.

Everyday Handmade book contents

Beginner-level projects include a simple tote bag decorated with fabric-covered buttons, pieced coasters and potholders, and a sewing set that includes a pincushion and needle book.

Everyday Handmade book - Collector's Item Tote Bag
The instructions and illustrations are clear enough, though, that even projects that seem more intimidating, like the full-fledged messenger bag with pockets and a laptop compartment, are easy to follow.

In contrast to many sewing craft books that focus on one material (felt, scraps of quilting cottons, upcycled fabrics), authors Barden and Smitke challenge sewists to explore working with a variety of materials. Projects make the most of selvages, wool felt, linen, canvas, interfacing, fusible fleece, and zippers.

Everyday Handmade book - e-Reader cover

 

My Projects

When I was studying the 22 projects in Everyday Handmade and trying to decide which one to make, the Literary Genius e-Reader Cover caught my attention. I received a Kindle as a birthday gift only a week after I won this book at a quilting retreat, so the timing was perfect.

Before I started, I noticed that the finished size (5 1/2” by 8 1/2″) was going to be bigger than my Kindle and therefore wouldn’t provide the intended protection. The authors note in the project instructions that they have included measurements for two e-readers, but unfortunately both were bigger than mine, so I decided to reduce the cutting measurements and make a practice cover first to check the sizing.

Fast forward through recalculations and two practice covers and I was finally ready to proceed with my final fabric choices. I used interfacing on all my quilting cottons to give them a bit more heft, and at the last minute I decided to also supplement the outer layer of the cover with fusible fleece to better protect my Kindle.

I’m happy with how the final product turned out. Although there are slight changes I would make if I were to make this again, it holds my Kindle snugly and provides sufficient protection.

One other project that I tried from Everyday Handmade is the Petunia Hedgehog Pincushion. Petunia is part of a three-piece sewing set, along with a stump-shaped needle book and notions pouch. To satisfy a Woodlands theme for an ornament challenge that’s happening on my blog, I turned Petunia into a soft ornament by simple eliminating the base and sewing both sides of the body together all the way around.

April ornament: Hedgehog

Templates are included for the tree stump parts as well as all Petunia’s parts, and I found it very easy to trace them using freezer paper and then transfer and cut the shapes out of craft felt. At the back of the book Barden and Smitke include simple instructions for techniques used in the projects, including the French knots and blanket stitch on Petunia. Even when you know how to execute simple embroidery like this, if your memory is anything like mine you know it’s helpful to have a refresher on hand.

I’m pleased with the range of projects in Everyday Handmade, and I like the look and feel of Barden’s and Smitke’s designs. Whether you’re making a little something for yourself or sewing up a personalized gift for a friend, you’ll find something to try in this book.


Giveaway!

Martingale & Co. is giving one lucky Craft Buds reader the chance to win a $30 gift certificate to their shop, good for books, e-books or patterns. Enter to win by:

  1. Leave a comment on this post. You can tell us if you use an e-reader or if you prefer paper books. (one entry)
  2. Subscribe to Martingale’s Stitch This! newsletter (for free patterns, sale offers, tips and tricks) and leave a second comment telling us you did! (one entry)

This giveaway is open worldwide and we’ll choose one lucky winner via Random.org on Wednesday, May 2, 2012.

Out of 158 comments, the winner is #6 Jeanne, who said:

“I do have a Kindle and I love it for casual reading but it isn’t color so I like my quilt and craft books in pulp. I do love that Kindle cover and the tote with all the covered buttons.  If I win, I know what will be first to make! Thanks for the chance.”

 

14 Cheap Ways to Organize Your Craft Space

Sure, it would be nice to buy new storage cabinets to house your craft supplies. But for many of us, there’s not room in the house (or in the budget!) for expensive craft storage solutions.

But with a few inexpensive items from around the house, you can give your craft space a spring cleaning! We love these craft storage ideas that use everyday, easy-to-find items like shower caddies and Altoid tins.

Clothespins and Embroidery Floss: A cute way to store floss from Mrs. Jones. At just $2 in cost, we love this way inexpensive and adorable solution for keeping your supplies organized.

Leethal Yarn Storage Cans

Upcycled Cans Yarn Storage: Who doesn’t love having craft supplies right at their fingertips? This cubby storage system for yarn is constructed of recycled Trader Joe’s cans. Get the tutorial for the wall-mounted craft storage at Leethal.

Fabric Folding Tutorial: Visit Turning*Turning to learn how to fold your fabric like a pro. You don’t need any cardboard sheets or extras–just a ruler to make neat and orderly folds.

Shower Caddy Craft Supplies Storage: Your shower caddy hasn’t gotten this much action since college. Get more clever craft storage tips at Better Homes & Gardens.

Hanging Fabric Solution: Store your fabric in a hanging file cabinet at Sew Many Ways. It’s pressed and ready to go, and way more fun than balancing your checkbook.

Spice Rack Paint Holder: A spice rack turned painting station makes a splash at Bird’s Party Blog. You might even get the kids to help you with this project.

Scrapbooking Turnstile: A lampshade with the cover removed becomes a perfect vertical storage solution for Susan’s scrapbooking stickers! Check out her project at Creatively Savvy.

Cheese Grater Earring Holder: How cute is this idea at Duitang? Paint it in your favorite color and store jewelry supplies or wearables in a pinch!

 

More Craft Storage Ideas

Craft room organization and storage ideas at Craft Passion

Altoid storage tins from Matthew Moss

An entire blog dedicated to craft organization at Crafty Storage

Store clear rubber stamps in baseball card sleeves at Scrapinxoxo

Fabric scrap basket tutorial at The Sometimes Crafter

Toilet paper roll scissors Holder at Rustic Crafts

 

Reader Tips

Do you have any favorite organization tips? How do you tame the mess of your creative space? We’d love to hear your tips (or links to your favorite storage ideas) in the comments!

 

How to Host a Sew-Along

Today, I’m excited to have Lindsey and Sukie here to chat about their Zakka Style Sew Along, which is happening right now and runs through September! It’s a leisurely sew along, with one project each week, and you can join in at any time.

I really wanted to know how they decided on this sew along, and asked them to share some tips with fellow bloggers interested in doing something similar.

Zakka Style Sew Along banner

Can you tell me a little bit about the Zakka Style Sew Along and how it got started?

Lindsey: Rashida visited the Atlanta Modern Quilt Guild in February of this year to talk about Washi and her book, Zakka Style (C&T Publishing). We meet at a quilt shop and I hadn’t seen a copy of the book until that day. After hearing her speak and getting a chance to quickly look through the book, I knew I had to have it. I bought an extra to give away since Rashida was autographing copies that day. The response when I gave away the copy on my blog was amazing. So many people either had the book already or had it on their wishlist. I knew that I wasn’t the only one who thought it was awesome. One of my readers Duff suggested a sew along. I had already planned to sew through the book and share each project on my blog, but the thought of doing it together with others sounded fantastic. A few weeks later Amy emailed me and said, hey, I think you need to make this sew along bigger! There wasn’t a blog/book tour for Zakka Style when it was first released so we decided to do a different version of a book tour with bloggers actually showing a finished project from the book and then the participants and I would sew along from project 1 through 24.

Sukie: As Lindsey mentioned above, I read about her idea of the sew along on her blog and thought of making it bigger. Bigger meaning, “Let’s showcase different bloggers and how they would make the project.” It’s a slight twist on a book blog hop, the ones where they give you sneak peeks of the book. This way, folks get to see the finished projects while working on theirs at their own pace.

Book Review: Zakka Style, cover

That sounds fantastic! Have you participated in any sew alongs in the past? What are some things you like about being in a sew along?

Lindsey: This is actually my first sew along, and I can’t believe I haven’t done it before. I really like the camaraderie of sewing with other people. Everyone is really encouraging and it’s a good chance to interact and learn new tips and tricks or get advice on fabric choices, etc. Plus you have a kind of accountability. Not that you would be in trouble if you didn’t keep up, but you’re more motivated knowing that you have others to share the process with.

Sukie: I’ve participate in a couple sew alongs. I love seeing everyone’s style come out of their project or even seeing a different way of doing something, especially something that I wouldn’t have thought of. The community feel of being in a sew along is the best. If you have issues or run into problems, just ask the group. That’s one thing I’ve grown to love about the sewing community – we’re all really supportive of each other and there’s no wrong way of doing something.

Zakka Style book, sweet sugar cookie sack

You have some great prizes for your sew along! Can you tell us a little bit about how to approach a company about sponsoring a blogging event?

Lindsey: Amy handled the sponsorship for this event, but my experience in previous sponsorships is to reach out to those shops/businesses that you’re loyal to. Most of the shops I’ve dealt with really love to support the sewing and quilting community but they don’t know about opportunities unless you ask. Tell the business how the event can benefit them, you kind of need to sell yourself! It can be intimidating, but with anything, the worst they can say is no.

Zakka Style book, quilt block magnets

So, there’s a new project each week of the Zakka Style Sew Along, with different bloggers featured each Monday. Do you have any tips for deciding on the timing or format for an online sew along?

Lindsey: For this sew along, timing felt a bit challenging. I knew I wanted to sew through the entire book, so with 24 projects the event would be a long one. I wanted participants to have enough time to get the projects done, but not so much time that you began to lose interest. I also needed to coordinate 24 different bloggers to make sure we were all on the same page. Weekly seemed like the best fit and so once the start date was chosen, we just went from there. I had to decide early on not to stress about other events that might come along or whether anyone would signup. There truly is room for everyone, so don’t allow yourself to be discouraged. As long as you’re hosting a sew along that you’re passionate about, it doesn’t matter if it’s just you and one other person! Doing something you love is the important part!

Sukie: An important aspect of a sew along is first seeing the finished product. You want to show readers, “Hey, it’s worth it to do this, and here’s what you’ll get after all your hard work.” I agree with what Lindsey. We looked at each project and they all seem fairly simple and decided that a week’s timeframe wasn’t asking too much. So if reader sees on Monday how the project looks when it’s done, then they’ll have the whole week to motivate them to finish. But also, if you can’t finish in the week time frame, don’t worry! Finish at your own pace. We have prizes at the end of each week but we also have a big prize pack at the end of each 6 weeks that we’re doing a random prize drawing for. The most important thing about planning a sew along is not to rush it or make it too long. You’ll lose readers because they can’t follow along or they’re anxious to move on the next step.

Zakka Style book, happy garland message board

I’m sure it’s a challenge to stay organized through a big project like this, and I bet teaming up helps! Any advice for how you stay organized as a blogger, or how to balance creative projects with the other parts of life?

Lindsey: My best advice is to plan in advance. A well organized event takes time to coordinate so you need to give yourself time to work out all of the details. I try to write and schedule blog posts in advance so that I can stay ahead. That way if life happens, I’m not stressing out. Teaming up absolutely helps, too! Along with sharing the work load, you have someone to be your cheerleader on bad days and to bounce ideas off of. We also created a Flickr group for the contributing bloggers as a place to discuss plans and to ask/answer questions easily. This was really helpful in helping us all stay connected.

Sukie: Once you have your sew along idea, start planning! Give yourself plenty of time to organize. The more help you ask for – especially from friends that you trust – the easier it is on you. Make sure to keep a list and tick items off as they’re handled, or when issues come up, write them down. I would say one of the most important things to remember is: Don’t kill yourself with stress over a sew along.

Thanks for the tips, ladies! Week one’s project was a cute zig-zag tote, and here are some of the entries from participants:

Zakka Style Zig Zag Totes

1. Zakka style tote, 2. Zakka sew-along Zig-Zag-Tote 1, 3. ZigzagZakkaTote10, 4. Zakka tote – outside 2, 5. Zig Zag Tote – Zakka Style, 6. zigzag tote, 7. Zakka Style Zigzag Tote, 8. zigzag tote bag, 9. Zakka Style Zig Zag with Streptocarpus

As you can see below, there’s still plenty of time to grab a copy of the book and join in! Also, Lindsey is hosting link parties for each project on her blog, so follow along to see the latest projects, sew along and enter to win fantastic prizes.

Zakka Style Sew Along

Cookie Dough Frosted Brownies with Lifestyle Crafts Big Top Shapes

Lifestyle Crafts’ latest die release is a Big Top circus theme. These shapes and letters would make great party decorations for a kid’s birthday or are perfect for scrapbooking! I decided to put my animal and pennant shapes to use decorating cupcakes and making name cards for a kid’s birthday.

You can find the recipe for my Cookie Dough Frosted Brownies below. These shapes work in any brand die-cutter and you can save an extra 20% by using the code CRAFTBUDS when you check out!

Cookie Dough Frosted Brownies

Brownies

Prepare a box of Betty Crocker Milk Chocolate Traditional Brownie Mix 13×9 Family Size as directed except for add an extra egg so it’s a more cake-like consistency. Pour the batter into 12 muffin tins (or I did foil cups on a baking sheet), filling them 3/4 full. Bake at 350 degrees for 22 to 27 minutes.

Cookie Dough Frosting

  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 1 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 cup chocolate chips

Cream together the butter and sugar. Next mix in the vanilla and salt, then the flour until well blended. Gradually add milk until you get to a normal frosting consistency. I used 1/2 cup but you may need a little more or less. Lastly, mix in the chocolate chips. There are no raw eggs so this is totally safe to eat!

After the brownies have cooled, frost them with the Cookie Dough Frosting and you’re ready to serve!

Revolution Sale

If you’ve been wanting a die-cutting machine you’re in luck! Lifestyle Crafts is currently offering their best-selling die-cutting machine, the Revolution, for $59.99 while supplies last. The regular price is $89.99 and if you use our 20% coupon code, CRAFTBUDS, you’ll only pay $47.99! It’s similar to the Epic in that it die cuts and embosses. It has a 4″ magnetic platform so when you put your metal dies on the platform, they hold tight and don’t slide off. The 4″ platform is slightly smaller than the Epic, so it only works with dies and embossing folders that are 4″ or smaller and is too small for the letterpress. It is easy-to-use and compact.

Felt Flowers Button Snake

Button Snake Stack

This is a quick tutorial for a “button snake” toy to help kits with their buttoning skills. In case the word “snake” sets fear in the heart of your child or yourself, try calling it a button caterpillar!

For supplies, you’ll need felt scraps in a variety of colors, two buttons (1-inch and 1.5-inch across), about 18 inches of grosgrain or thick ribbon, scissors, a needle and thread. I used a die cutter to cut the felt flower shapes and some nail polish to secure the buttons and thread. I also created this project entirely with supplies from my stash, so it can be very inexpensive.

Button Snake Supplies

First, cut out several squares of felt in a rainbow of colors. I used 16 colors, but you can adapt this pattern to use whatever you have on hand. Use scissors and a circular template (like a drinking glass) to trace and cut circles out of felt. Instead of cutting circles, I used my Accuquilt GO! Baby and the Rose of Sharon die to cut out the largest size of felt flowers, which are about 3-inches in diameter.

Felt Flowers

Use your scissors to cut a slit in the middle of each felt shape, large enough for the smaller button to go through easily (but not the larger button). I cut my slits about one inch wide.

Button Hole

Next, hand sew the smaller button onto the top side of your ribbon end, repeating on the other end with the larger button. Secure button several times with your needle and thread, so the buttons don’t pop off with frequent use.

Hand-sew buttons to ribbon

I used a bit of nail polish (you can use clear if you’ve got it) to paint the thread to the back of each button as an extra measure of security. Make sure to keep a close eye on your kids when using this toy, so they don’t put anything harmful in their mouths.

Nail Polish

Note: If you are worried about buttons being unsafe for your children, you can leave off the buttons entirely and just sew a circle of felt perpendicular the bottom of the ribbon (example here) to use as a stopper for all of the other felt shapes.

Button Snake

Once the buttons are secure, use the smaller button to guide each flower onto the ribbon. The larger button will act as your stopper. Young kids can be engaged for hours with this simple toy, as they practice putting on and taking off the felt flowers.

Button Snake Finished

It’s also small enough to stash with you in your toddler’s “busy bag” to take in the car, the waiting room or anywhere they need to be entertained!

Dahlia and the Ribbon SnakeDahlia and the Button Snake (Thanks Suzy!)

If you make this or any of our tutorials, we’d love to see them! Just comment with the link or add the photos to the Craft Buds Flickr group.

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