Crafty Kitchen: Turkey Cookies

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Fabric Corner Bookmarks

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Fabric Pumpkins Tutorial

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Thanksgiving Place Setting Printables

Is everyone getting ready for food and family? I know we are around here! To help dress up our Thanksgiving place settings I designed a few printables. There’s the menu:…

Broken Herringbone Quilt

My younger sister and her husband are expecting their first baby next month and it’s a girl! For their baby shower, I made them a quilt with matching pillow and…

Designing Patterns for a Craft Book: Kay Whitt

Kay Whitt I’m pleased to introduce Kay Whitt, author of Sew Serendipity: Fresh and Pretty Designs to Make and Wear (F+W Media).

Kay’s new book Sew Serendipity Bags is all about sewing purses and totes! For the last decade, she’s also designed and sold her sewing patterns through an online shop. She’s carved out a niche for herself in the design world by being true to her style. I love these Q&As because there is so much to learn from each other’s experiences.

Kay, I see that your first design at Serendipity Studio was released in 2001. How did you get started designing patterns?

I have sewn all of my life. My mom taught me to sew when I was a young girl and I have had needle in hand ever since then. We always manipulated commercial patterns to suit our needs as I was growing up, so I understood how pieces came together as a whole. It wasn’t long until I was dabbling on my own to create patterns, so I did this sort of thing informally throughout my youth.

I have a degree in education and spent the first nine years of my professional career as an elementary school teacher. While teaching school, I continued to create and sew, sometimes selling my creations to coworkers during the holidays. That was my springboard for jumping into pattern design when I was looking for a change in profession.

Sew Serendipity Bags

I talked with shop owners and showed them my work, asking if the type of sewing I did would make for a good pattern. With their support and enthusiasm, I started the company in the spring of 2001.

I also resigned from teaching that year to focus solely on the pattern business and creating designs. I began with appliqué driven design work and evolved into formal clothing drafting of pattern pieces in 2005 with the aid of some drafting software. I am living proof that you don’t have to have a degree in art or design to make the magic happen!

Sew Serendipity Bags Sew Serendipity Bags

Can you tell us what we can expect to see in your book Sew Serendipity Bags?

Sew Serendipity Bags is just that . . . a book with 12 unique bag designs! I have included variations with some of the bags, so you are really getting 20 bags if you account for size and handle changes.

The book is split into three project sections: simple, intermediate, and challenging, so there is something for the beginner bag maker to a very experienced one. I also included my favorite techniques for bag making in a photographed section.

Just like in the first book, I have hand illustrated all of the construction steps in the instructions. The styled photography of the finished bags is just beautiful and I am so excited to share this new book with everyone!

Sew Serendipity Bags

How do you come up with inspiration for new patterns? Once you have an idea in mind, what are the steps involved in releasing a new pattern for your shop?

I am inspired by a lot of things. Sometimes it is a piece of fabric, sometimes an article of clothing seen on TV, the Internet, or in a magazine. I let my brain work on it for a while and eventually a design is born. This happens a lot at night when I would rather be sleeping, but my brain is ready for work! I usually start with a rough sketch, then begin drafting those pieces into my software so that I can work through a prototype in fabric until the design is how I want it. As with anything, some designs go easily and some require more work. I love working that part out until it matches the vision that I originally had for the design.

Sew Serendipity Betty June dress

Speaking of the “business side” of your creative business, what do you find to be the greatest challenge? And, what’s the best part of running your own business?

The greatest challenge is to try and stay on top of everything at once! I still pretty much do it all myself, so between processing orders, thinking about new designs and working through those, talking with customers, visiting shops, and oh yeah….writing books, I stay pretty busy! The very best part of running my own business is that it is so flexible. I can move my schedule to suit my personal needs. I also love that the business’ direction is charted by my personal drive and instinct for design.

What is your number one tip for running a creative business?

The number one tip I have is to develop a unique style and do it well. It becomes a sort of signature for your work. People know my designs without having to look at the information on the pattern! It is always best not to try and “be” anyone else. Stay true to your own style and trust your instincts.

Giveaway!

Thanks Kay! We are excited to offer a copy of Kay’s new book, Sew Serendipity Bags, to one lucky winner! To enter, just leave a comment on this post about bags, totes or purses. What do you like? Winner will be announced Friday, Oct. 7. This giveaway is now closed.

Craft Book Month Winners!

Chosen by Random.org, the winners of the Craft Book Month linky party are:

B Yazoo

Bubble Pants, submitted by B Yazoo

Doodle Stitching book + Japanese fabric from Craft Buds

3: Libby Jones

Autographed CosmoGIRL Cool Room book + Kona Charm Pack from Craft Buds

24: B.Yazoo

Cloth Paper Scissors book (from Interweave), Paper + Craft book and Fiskars decorative-edged scissors from Craft Buds

11: amorette

Girl’s World book by Jennifer Paganelli, courtesy of Sis Boom.


The Practical Guide to Patchwork
book courtesy of Dewberry Lane.

16: Jenniffier- Orange and blue Quilt

$25 shop credit to My Little Sunshine Handmade

15: Katy @ The Littlest Thistle

2 sewing patterns of your choice from Pattern Patti

21: Kirsten @ gemini stitches

Three vintage sewing patterns; selections from Goofing Off

5: Butterfly Apron

 

iPod Pouches by Kirsten at Gemini Stitches

iPod Pouches submitted by Kirsten at Gemini Stitches

 

Congrats to our winners! Winners, please leave a comment on this post (e-mail required), and we’ll be in contact! We thank you ALL for linking up your craft book projects all month long, and for inspiring us with your creativity.

Prizes and Sponsor Love:

Doodle Stitching + Japanese fabric Autographed book + Kona charm pack

Paper Crafting Books + Scissors

Girl's World Book Sis Boom

Practical Guide to Patchwork / Giveaway from Dewberry Lane Dewberry Lane shop

My Little Sunshine Handmade BWS tips button

Pattern Patti on Etsy

Free Patterns from Books: Knitting & Crochet + Winner

Today is our last day of free patterns from books and your last day to link up your projects to win some great prizes! In the past weeks, we’ve featured patterns for the homebags, kid’s toys and softies, and jewelry.


From Knitting in the Sun (Wiley): Knit Sunhat

Windansea Hat from Wiley

 

From Knitting it Old School (Wiley): Ahoy Sailor, Sweater

Ahoy, Sailor sweater from Wiley

 

From Knit, Wrap, Repeat (Lark): Snugg Neck Warmer

 

From Teach Yourself Visually Crochet (Wiley): Magnificent Shawl

Magnificent Shawl from Wiley

 

From Interweave Press: Assorted free crochet projects

 

And the winner of Modern Mix chosen by random.org was #23, Jenelle, who said, “I think that waiting to see how the book pitch went would be the hardest part for me too. It’s amazing that just by writing your blog, you were already taking the first step towards being published. Congrats and thanks for the interview!” Congrats Jenelle and I’ve sent you an e-mail!

 

Wrapping Up: Craft Book Month

It’s hard to believe that Craft Book Month is almost over. We’ve thoroughly enjoyed sharing the craft book love with our readers, and hearing your questions and comments about the publishing industry!

Stay tuned next Monday for another author Q&A and book giveaway we’ve saved for October, just to keep the party going. And in case you missed some posts along the way, click over to see a full list of Q&As, book reviews and posts.

Giveaways

It’s true! You can still enter your project through the end of the day tomorrow, September 30 to be eligible for prizes. Open this post in your browser for the inLinkz tool again. And while you’re at it, why not check out some of our amazing submissions so far and leave someone a lovely comment? You can find the button to link up and rules here.

And now some love to a couple of our sponsors. Sis Boom has some great new dress patterns in the shop! I’ve sewn the Jamie Dress, and it’s super easy to follow these patterns, because they show you step-by-step photos.

Dewberry Lane is a great little shop featuring books, patterns and quilting notions. Although the store is currently closed for maintenance, we’d like to invite you to follow Rachel’s blog Scrapendipity Designs for updates!

Practical Guide to Patchwork / Giveaway from Dewberry Lane Dewberry Lane shop

How to Write a Craft Book Proposal

Craft Book Proposal

So, you’re thinking about writing a craft book proposal. Congratulations! If you have a unique book concept and are ready to take that next step, here are some tips we’ve gathered from the experts.

Do Your Research

Any good book proposal starts with research, and that includes craft books, children’s books, cookbooks and more. Search Amazon, your library and the bookstore for titles that are similar to your book concept. (This is assuming that you already have an idea in mind.) As you look through these books, ask yourself:

How is my book idea similar to or different than the competition? Find examples of similar books and take notes on who publishes them, how many pages, and read the reviews online.

Who would read this book? Is this targeted toward teens, their parents, a certain demographic? Is it for beginning crafters or highly-skilled artists?

How original is my idea? Is my idea too vague, with 5 or more printed books on the topic? Is my concept too narrow, with very few readers that would be interested?

Is the idea based on a trend, or is it here to stay? If based on a trend, keep in mind that books can take one to two years to publish, so the idea should still be fresh when books are being rolled off the presses.

New Releases Amazon craft books

Study Publishers

Craft book publishers vary widely in the types of books they publish and the number of titles they put out in a given year. Before approaching any publisher, it’s important to ask these questions:

What kinds of books does this publisher like? You can look at recent and upcoming releases on Amazon and take note if they seem to specialize in a certain craft (knitting, mixed media, painting, jewelry, sewing, etc.).

What is the publisher’s aesthetic? Is it more traditional or modern in approach? See if they publish mostly project and how-to books or topical books, such as a history of a particular craft.

Is the publisher currently accepting book proposals? If not, it should say so on their website.

Are their authors well-known? Some publishers stick to authors with a huge blog following or branded products on the market, while others seem to target up-and-comers. Although it’s not always a deal-breaker, having your own audience is becoming increasingly important in craft book publishing.

Does the publisher prefer for you to send a query before sending the whole proposal? A query letter is a one-page summary of your idea, with a quick author bio and contact information. The purpose of sending a query is to save you time (and the editor time) if they are not currently accepting book proposals like the one you’d like to write. For instance, ABC Books might have all Christmas craft books lined up through 2013, which means your idea is best suited to another publisher.

Is there a specific form or survey you need to fill out? If not, see the elements of a book proposal section, below.

Do they expect electronic or mailed proposals?

Does the publisher allow simultaneous submissions? If not, choose your top pick of publishers to work with, and let them review your proposal first before sending the info to anyone else.

Once you’ve determined that this publisher would be a possible fit for your type of book, search for their submission guidelines online. Here, the publisher will tell you very specifically how you can communicate with them. Follow these directions very carefully, as this will be your first impression!

Laptop sleeve by Martice on Etsy Flickr /Anastasia Egórova

Elements of a Book Proposal

Though publishers may vary on their requests, these are the most common elements of a craft book proposal.

Summary: Envision the book jacket text of your soon-to-be published book. What would it say? How would you sell your idea an convince someone else to buy it? An editor may love your work, but publishing a book requires a marketable idea that will sell books.

Table of Contents: A proposed outline of the book’s contents, which is subject to change but is a good indicator of the direction the book is going. This is where you would describe the proposed projects in the book and also list any introductory material or extras, such as patterns or a supplemental CD to be included.

About the Author: This is not the time to be shy. Sell yourself and include links to where you’ve been published before. How long have you been creating and what makes your work unique?

Market for Your Book: Who will buy your book? Specify an age range of the typical reader and state if your book is targeted toward busy-yet-crafty parents, school-age children or crafting bloggers. This is the time to reiterate that the information contained in your proposed book is more valuable than what can be found online for free.

Competition for Your Book: State the competition (remember the notes your took earlier?) and tell the publisher why your book concept will stand out from the competitors.

Sample Chapter or Project: If you are proposing a project-based book (with a number of themed sewing projects, for example), you should include photographs of a sample project and detailed assembly instructions. Mixed media artist Margot Potter suggests creating as many as 6 project samples. These should not be projects that you have previously published on your blog or Flickr account, but something new and unseen. Author Jessica Levitt submitted one large sample project, a quilt, as well as images of her previous work and sketches of her proposed designs for the book Modern Mix.

Length and Format: If you don’t know how many pages your book will be, look at similar books and make an educated guess. (You can find this information on Amazon.) Will your book include patterns or extras like a CD? Are full-color photographs or illustrations necessary?

Marketing Ideas: Do you have connections with any stores that may sell your book? (i.e., do you already sell patterns through a network of stores?) Do you have a blog following? Start thinking about ideas that you can implement to help the publisher market your unique book idea.

According to The Crafty Chica, her recent finished book proposal was around 30-35 pages typed and double-spaced. There are no hard-and-fast rules on the length, but remember that the goal is to provide the publisher with as much information on you and your book idea to make an informed decision.

Craft Book Shelf

Shopping Your Book Proposal

When you are satisfied with your book proposal, it’s time to send it off. While book proposals were traditionally printed off and mailed to the publisher in a hard copy, these days most publishers prefer emailed copies, along with digital photographs of sample projects.

An alternative to working directly with a book publisher is to hire an agent to represent your idea, and to “shop around” your book proposal on your behalf. The advantage to hiring an agent is that he or she will probably have some great industry contacts and might be able to save you from submitting to a publisher that is not a good fit for your idea. The downside is that an agent will take a cut of a published book’s royalties, so you’ll be splitting the commission with someone else. However, an agent may be able to negotiate a better deal for you, so working with an agent or going solo is really a matter of preference.

On the whole, the craft book industry is open to authors who work solo as well as those represented by agencies. In other genres, such as fiction writing, it may be more difficult to secure a book deal without an agent.

The acquisitions editor (responsible for “acquiring” new titles for the publisher) is the person who will review your proposal. You’ll need to allow several weeks for them to review your concept, so it’s not necessary to check in during that time frame. It’s best not to annoy the editor, and to be polite and courteous in all of your communications. This is also the time to make sure you are spelling his or her name correctly.

If a publisher is interested in your book proposal, you’ll have the option to review a contract and see if the terms are agreeable. The contract will most likely prohibit you from selling or publishing your ideas elsewhere during the length of the deal, so make sure you fully agree with the publisher’s terms and vision.

If the response is a “no,” it’s time to move on to the next publisher on your list! Take into account any valuable feedback or critiques of your book proposal and decide if you want to revise the proposal before sending it to the next publisher. You’ll want to allow another several weeks for review.

If you’ve made it to the end of this submissions process with no successes, you may be disappointed, but there are still other avenues for you to see your work published! Consider submitting a few projects to magazines or websites to get a little more experience or publishing new tutorials to your personal blog to drive traffic your way.

Remember that a publisher reviews so many book proposals on a regular basis, that it’s not realistic to believe that you will succeed on your first try. Try, try again! Give it some time, and a slight twist on your original idea might be just the ticket to success.

More Resources:

  • We love these book publishing tips from multi-book author and mixed media artist Margot Potter.
  • Check out this Q&A with acquisitions editor Susanne Woods of Stash Books at Sew Mama Sew.
  • The CraftyPod podcast on craft book publishing discusses working with an agent (do you need one?) and talks about trends in book publishing as crafting in the blogosphere increases.
  • How to Get An Editor’s Attention. Allison Korleski (Interweave Books) discusses craft book publishing and answers reader questions.
  • Does your Craft Book Proposal Stand Out? A helpful Q&A with Tonia Davenport of North Light Books.


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Book Review: Sewing in a Straight Line

Brett Bara is the go-to sewing gal for Design Sponge. She’s also released a new book, Sewing in a Straight Line (Potter Craft), and I was recently lucky to win a copy on her blog tour.

Sewing in a Straight Line book

Because I am hooked on sewing projects for the home, I probably would not have purchased this book just based on the cover. But do not be deceived, as there are equal amounts of apparel projects and home projects to sew, like modern quilts, pillows and these cute Folding Flower Bowls (video tutorial here). And yes, you only need to use straight lines to sew a round bowl!

Sewing in a Straight Line Bowls

I think what I love most about this book is that Brett really makes you feel like you can sew anything. Any material, any project. The cover project, Sewing School Skirt, teaches lots of techniques like making button holes, pleating, and attaching a waist band. But all of the projects are geared toward teaching techniques, allowing you to start with the curtains or square pillow and increase your skills along  the way, until you feel up for the challenge. And there are more surprises, like the Heavy Metal Bag, sewn from leather (can also be made with woven fabrics).

heavy metal bag

If you like sewing fashion-forward projects and also want to sharpen your technique, this book is fantastic. I appreciate Brett’s fabric choices (many samples from Mood Fabrics in New York and some modern IKEA prints), and the projects lend themselves to maximizing your fabric. For instance, the City Girl Tote and Easy Zippered Pillow (video tutorial here) both use only 1 yard of home decor fabric. You’ll want to stock up on heavy- to medium-weight interfacing to make many of these projects, but the actual fabric requirements make the projects pretty affordable.

Sewing in a Straight Line Baby Quilt

Three quilts and a pieced duvet cover round out the collection of home projects, and there are some sweet gift ideas as well, like the Mr. Bunny and Ms. Kitty softies.

Bunny Kitty Sewing in a Straight Line

There are also a few projects in the book that are easily accomplished in an hour or less, like the 1-hour Skirt (video tutorial here) or the 60-second belt. Materials like hardware for the bags and decorative belt elastic may be difficult to find unless you live in the Fashion District, so plan to order online or go with a basic substitute from your local fabric shop.

Sewing in a Straight Line City Girl Tote

My Project

Flipping through the pages of this book gave me the confidence that I could, indeed, sew with difficult fabrics. I decided to try my first-ever silk chiffon sewing project and whipped up the “Easy Breezy Blouse” (pictured above) from Brett’s book.

Easy Breezy Blouse, Hanging

I seriously underestimated how long it would take to sew this blouse. Perhaps because the word “easy” was in the title! In theory, the project is easy. It’s sewn together with four large squares of silk chiffon, cut to your measurements, so no pattern pieces are required. This is typical throughout the book, and is a welcome reprieve from cutting out pattern pieces.

The book provides clear-as-day instructions on how to sew French seams as well as how to sew a tiny 1/8-inch hem for this blouse.  But, as I’ve learned from watching Project Runway, sewing with silk chiffon is no walk in the park. It takes practice to work with a material that “sheds” so easily along freshly cut edges and each hem must be carefully ironed and trimmed before sewing, which ups the sewing time. I didn’t use a stop-watch, but this project took me at least 6 hours to sew, from the fabric store to the final ironing and fitting.

Easy Breezy Blouse, Dressed Up

Still, I’m happy with the results, and I never would have attempted this shirt had it not been for the vote of confidence from Brett, in the pages of her new book. I highly recommend Sewing in a Straight Line, and I’ve already planned out my next 4 to 5 projects from that are must-makes.

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