Crafty Kitchen: Oreo Spiders

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Fabric Pumpkins Tutorial

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Free Pattern Features: Halloween Pillows

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Jack-o’-Lantern Shirt Stencils

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Top 12 Resources for Running a Crafty Business

We are excited to have this guest post from Anna Luna of Urban Stitches! You might remember the Q&A we did with Anna back in April about running a craft retail store, online store and teaching classes.

Lucky for us, Anna is here to share with us her 12 favorite online resources for running a handmade business! Take it away, Anna!

Hi there, I’m Anna, the owner of Urban Stitches and today I’m excited to be here to offer you the top ten resources I use on a daily basis for my crafty business.

Tip: I actually run my online shop (and now brick and mortar shop too) in the evenings and on weekends after working a full time job. I find it difficult to remember (or find the time) to go and check 10 different blogs everyday that could have incredible and useful posts. My solution for this is to sign up for the e-mail feed of a blog I enjoy and find useful. That way each time they post to the blog, it comes to my e-mail inbox (which I check several times a day) and I can file it away in a folder for a specific type of tip. Maybe they sent a tip about photographing your product or easy and inexpensive advertising ideas. It’s fast and easy to create topic related folders in your inbox and file the posts away, even if you don’t get to read them right at that moment.

My 6 favorite crafty business blogs and sites

Etsy: This is one of the largest online selling communities and not only do they make it easy to sell your handmade items or supplies, they have great forums set up to help answer your questions.

Everything Etsy: Started by Kim and Tim, a cute couple with a knack for making the slightly overwhelming world of online selling (for small crafty businesses) much more easy to handle. With daily posts to feature Etsy sellers and an amazing list of their own tutorials and resources, this is a great resource to follow. I also love that this couple is so sweet when I e-mail them with a question, I know they have super busy lives, but they usually reply right away. They also offer an amazing deal on adveritising, $30 for 3 months as long as you are linking to an Etsy store. (Other pricing options available) Totally worth signing up for their e-mail feed, then all this great info comes to your e-mail inbox every day!

Meylah is an alternative to Etsy (or another place to show your stuff), their platform integrates a blog with your shop which is a unique feature. While they are growing as an online marketplace for handmade, they also write an amazing blog and have an incredible library of their posts all categorized for your viewing pleasure. This could be one of the best go-to resources out there.

Crafting an MBA is another great resource all in one place especially geared toward crafty businesses (obviously). Megan (the author) has several free eBooks for download and her posts are always helpful and inspiring.

IttyBiz (DISCLAIMER: This chick’s humor is a bit off color, if that offends you, then just skip this link! BUT she knows a lot and she’s successful, so if it doesn’t offend you, take a look) and IndieBizChicks (BONUS You get two for one here in case you didn’t want to visit the first one) Their description of their blog is “For women who’d rather work for themselves, than work for the man.” Isn’t that great? This is another great resource for social media tips and ideas, plus they offer advertising options and some online small biz classes.

Now let me pause here for a moment. I could continue to throw out a list of just crafty business blogs, but I want to offer a few more that I refer to that are related to other facets of owning a business, especially an online business.

Top 12 Crafty Business Resources

My 4 favorite resources for running any kind of business

Copy Blogger is a fantastic resource about, well, how to write great, persuasive copy about your business or product. They post almost every day (another one I’m signed up for e-mails from) and they give wonderful tips about writing. This is usually one of the hardest things people face when they start trying to figure out how to market their stuff. “How do I write about it?” and “How do I write about it so that people will BUY it?” Even if you only skim their posts and file them away, I think you’ll find something will sink in and be useful. They also have a 20 lesson auto-send mini course called Internet Marketing for Smart People which is SUPER helpful as a reference guide about marketing. The best part is, all of this amazing information is FREE!

The Psychotactics blog will give you some insight into, as they put it “Why customers buy (and why they don’t)” Which will help you figure out how to get more people to buy from you! And really, we have to admit that as much as we LOVE to make items every day, if you’re trying to make any sort of return on that work you put into it, you’ll need to sell your goods.

Seth Godin, practically the father of Internet and permission marketing, offers almost daily insight about business and marketing topics. I’ve read a couple of his books and he makes the point that once you’ve gotten a customer’s permission to market to them, especially through e-mail lists that they opt in to, you have made it through a major part of the battle to get their attention in this busy world. This is a guy who was in charge of marketing for Yahoo for awhile, so he knows a little about this topic.

Outright is an amazing accounting website. It integrates with your PayPal account and lets you run reports that PayPal makes super difficult to do (such as searching for sales within your state to track sales tax). It’s very useful for those of us who would rather do other things (i.e. clean the toilets, or maybe sew something) instead of keep track of the books.

And finally, 2 of my favorite business coaches:

There are a couple of business and life coaches who I follow through their blogs and e-mail newsletters. First is Michelle Ward (her company is called the When I Grow Up Coach, great name!) she focuses on helping you make the transition from a stable, safe career that you may not love so much, to a creative, less stable, but you love it like nothing else, kind of career. While most career coaches charge for their services, Michelle offers a lot of great tidbits through her newsletter.

Next, Alyson B. Stanfield from Art Biz Coach who has some amazing online classes about how to market your art (she especially focuses on artists but I find there is a ton of useful information that is helpful to non-artists as well). I recently completed the Blast Off! online course and just reading her daily posts was super inspiring for my business focus.

Well, there you have it folks. Those are actually 12 of the resources I use for information and inspiration with my small business. If you know of any that I left off, please feel free to share them in the comments. I’m sure there are many more that I am not aware of!

I hope you’ll come by and visit me on my Urban Stitches blog and maybe stop by and say “hi” on my Facebook page.

Fabric Wrap Belt

Summer is great for cool cotton dresses and flowy shirts, but sometimes they need a little extra color or a more defined waistline. Enter the wrap belt, inspired by an Anthropologie design! This fabric band wraps around your waist to give you definition and a pop of color. You can vary the fabrics in color or pattern, or even try a patchwork version.

This is a fairly easy project, especially if you use a decorative ribbon for the narrow center strap. For the way I made it with the fabric strap, here’s a list of the materials you’ll need:

  • The wide strap is going to be 9.5″ wide and the length is the measurement of your waist plus 6″. Measure wherever you plan on wearing the belt—under the chest, around your natural waist, or lower at the hips.
  • The narrow strap is 2.5″ wide and the length is the measurement of your waist plus 6″ multiplied by 3. For example, your waist is 34″ +6″=40″, then 40″x3=120″. You may have to cut several strips of fabric and sew them together for this length. From my fabric, I had to cut three strips 40.5″ long each, and then I sewed them all together.
  • Additional notes: I used upholstery weight fabric. For thinner fabrics you may want to use stabilizer in the wide band to help it keep its shape. Also, if you have problems with the wide part of the belt shifting, you can hand stitch one or two snaps to hold it in place.

Making the Belt:

First, if you had to cut several pieces of fabric for the narrow strap, stitch them all together. Next you’ll iron under the edge of the fabric 1/4″ on all four sides. Then fold the fabric in half lengthwise and iron again.

Stitch around all four sides of the strap (including the side that’s just a fold) to give it a more finished look.

The narrow center strap is now complete! Now on to the wide strap. Fold the fabric in half lengthwise with right sides together and iron. Stitch around the sides and top, and leave a 6″ opening in the center.

Snip the corners and turn right side out through the opening you left. Fold in the open edges and iron flat. Next, sew around all four edges.

Wide strap is complete! Now you just need to line up the narrow strap in the center of the wide band. Line up the narrow strap so there is a 6″ opening on the left as shown in the photo below. Both narrow straps hanging off the wide band should be the same length. You can offset them by a couple inches if you want the ends to be at sightly different heights once it’s tied (see the right image, 2 photos down). Once you have the narrow strap and wide band lined up, sew them together where you see the yellow rectangle in the photo below.

Your belt is now complete! Now to actually wear it, you’ll first wrap the wide band around your waist. The flap (left side in the photo above) goes underneath and the other side (right side in the photo above) goes on top of that. Then wrap the two long, narrow bands all the way around your waist in opposite directions. Bring them around to the front and tie in a knot. You can either leave the bands hanging down as they are below or tuck them under the other straps as I did in the very top photo of this post. You can click on the photo below for a larger view.

Here’s a photo of the back of the belt, and another of the front withe me looking goofy in front of the camera (and a little nervous because you can see my toddler sneaking up behind me with a baseball bat).

Enjoy! And if you make one of these Anthropologie-inspired belts, feel free to share the link with us in the comments or add to our Flickr group.

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Free Pattern Features: Summer Dresses + Winner

Do you end up doing more sewing for other people than yourself? Take some time this summer to whip up one of these cute dresses just for you! (Sewing Hope winner annoucement and link to more giveaways at the end of the article.)

Suburbs Mama keeps coming up with great dress patterns and refashions! Her latest is this cute Shabby Apple knock-off!

Shabby Apple Dress by Suburbs Mama

 

Want lots of options in one dress? Try this infinity dress by Sew Like My Mom! You can vary the look depending on how you wrap the top. You could even use different colors for the top and bottom sections.

Infinity Dress by Sew Like My Mom

 

This tank top dress from Talk 2 the Trees looks fast and comfortable for those really hot days! And its a great way to use up an old shirt or tank top that’s too short. 

Tank Dress by Talk 2 the Trees

 

And lastly, for any expectant readers, this grecian maternity maxi dress from DIY Maternity looks cool, comfortable, and cute. Exactly what a pregnant woman wants!

Grecian Maternity Dress from DIY Maternity

 

In other news, the winner of our Sewing Hope giveaway, chosen by random.org, was comment #70 by Heather Nash! Congratulations Heather! If you want to try your luck at other giveaways make sure to check our Giveaways Roundup  every week for handmade giveaways from around the web.

CHA News & Fresh Picks for 7.13.11

CHA: Craft and Hobby Association Guess what? Mary and I are heading to Chicago next week for the Craft and Hobby Association’s (CHA) summer trade show! This is the first time either of us will attend, and we’re excited to learn about lots of new craft products and developments.

I’m particularly happy to stop by all the booths for my favorite products and see what’s coming soon, like this die-cut machine that cuts without a mat. Or how to use this electronic fabric cutter for applique.

We’ll try out new products and snap photos along the way, so look for a special Fresh Picks: CHA Edition next week! In the meantime, here are this week’s Fresh Picks: little gifts you can whip up in no time!

French Press Cozy

French Press: You’ve seen coffee cup cozies. But have you considered a French Press warmer? We love this patchwork version from Malka Dubrawsky at A Stitch in Dye!

Mini Photo Album Tutorial

Memory Maker: This week at Sol de Eira, Liliana shows us how to make something crafty to store memories. And no, they’re not just paper “W”s.

Resin Craft Molds

Resin Nation: Have you ever worked with resin? Carmi gives a great tutorial (part 1 and part 2) showing you how to get started working with resin molds and tiny objects from around the house. The results are stunning!

Needle Case Tutorial

Sharp and Silver: Store your needles in this handmade needle book made with just a few fabric scraps! Crafty Mummy shows you how in her quick and easy tutorial.

Featured Giveaways

Win Handmade Bag Win this Bag: Enter here by this Friday for a chance to win this gorgeous handmade bag from A Winding Road.

Bust My Stash: Accuquilt is hosting a fun giveaway challenge. Upload a photo of your fabric stash for a chance to win a GO! 12″ Mix & Match Started Set ($581 value). Enter here!

Thanks for checking out this week’s Fresh Picks!
Weekly Giveaways Linky
| Submit Your Project

 

Sewing Hope: Missional Crafts by Jessica K.

Some people craft for their business, and others just create for fun. Jessica Kenenske has paired both her love for crafts and running a business with a mission: to help raise money for those in need. Read on for a great and inspiring story! (There’s also a giveaway at the end of this post.)

1) Tell me a little bit about your handmade shop and how/when you got started?

I’ve been selling my handmade stuff for probably about 6 years now. I started out creating and selling handmade dolls, softies, pillows & etc., using all vintage materials. I did that for a while and even had a couple segments on HGTV that aired about a year ago.

In 2008, I had my first (long awaited) child and then 22 months later I got pregnant with my second, so I was a little pre-occupied for a few years there! When I finally started getting back into crafting again I wasn’t that interested in making dolls anymore and found myself designing and making handbags….over an over again. I never get tired of them because, well, because I’m a girl and the possibilities are endless with bags!

It allows me the creative outlet to do something I love and to raise money for a mission that is close to my heart.

2) What is the overall purpose or vision behind your shop?

One of my best friends spent 5 years as a missionary in Haiti. Being able to see the people and their needs through her eyes has really given me a heart for that country. During her time in Haiti she met Roberteau Desilhomme who grew up in a village in the Mountains of Haiti called Fond Baptiste. Roberteau and his wife Carolyn have taken first aid and cultural development and amazingly were given an unfinished building to be used as a medical clinic. They are now in need of supplies to make the building usable. They have a doctor, and a few nurses willing to give of their time. Together they will help to care for physical and spiritual needs of those who come through the clinic.

My friend will be visiting Haiti again this summer, along with some others from my church who went last summer constructing a roof for the clinic, and will bring any funds raised to be sure they are used to help with this clinic. I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know Roberteau this year, his passion for his ministry is very inspiring and I wish to do whatever I can to help.

I have found that I am WAY more productive and inspired to keep creating product to sell when I know it can help someone in need. It feels much more purposeful.

Kids from Haiti

3) Do you have any advice for someone who is looking to raise money for a charitable organization through their craft or handmade store?

I have participated in fundraising events like auctions and live music shows. It is a lot of work and sometimes it’s like pulling teeth to get people to donate items and/or their time but it’s definitely worth it. Fundraising events are a great way to raise money if you’re willing to do the work.

The only advice I have at this point (I’m pretty new at this) for someone interested in crafting for a cause is, please just do it. There are so many people in need in this world. What we spend a week for coffee could save someone’s life, so even if you sold one thing, that could change someone’s world. It seems like a selfless act, but really, it will totally bless you too.

Thanks Jessica, for sharing your story!

Etsy store

Be sure to check out Jessica’s website, blog, and Etsy shop, where 100% of the proceeds go to help the clinic in Fond Baptiste, Haiti.

Giveaway!

Craft Buds is so impressed with Jessica’s mission and quality handcrafted bags that we are giving away this adorable bag from her shop to one lucky reader!

Handmade Bag

To enter:

1. Visit A Winding Road on Etsy. Leave a comment telling us your favorite bag! (1 entry)

2. For a bonus entry, follow Jessica’s blog and leave another comment. (1 entry)

3. If you make a purchase from Jessica’s shop, come back here and leave 2 comments! (2 bonus entries, and a huge warm/fuzzy feeling)

That’s 4 possible entries! This giveaway closes on Friday, July 15 at 11:59pm (EST). Giveaway open worldwide; one winner will be chosen via Random.org.

Reversible Sewing Machine Cover

You sewing machine does so much for you. Why not give it a little present?

I made a reversible sewing machine cover in some of my favorite fabrics, including Japanese Echino (the bicycles print) and Momo’s Wonderland (the scissors print), plus some Kona solids. The front incorporates improvisation piecing, and the back is a bold plus-sign design. This is an intermediate to advanced sewing project which incorporates techniques such as machine quilting and working with fusible fleece and bias tape.

Want to make a little jacket for your sewing machine?

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Supplies:

  • Fabric Scraps
  • Fusible Fleece (1 yard, or 30 inches if you’re buying from the bolt). You can also use regular quilt batting, but you’ll need more pins to hold it in place.
  • Rotary Cutter, mat and ruler
  • 1 package of Extra-Wide Bias Tape (3 yards) or make your own bias tape
  • Matching Thread
  • Sewing Machine
  • Iron
  • Sewing pins

Choose coordinating fabrics. You’ll want a couple pieces that are a quarter-yard or a little larger, and some scraps to liven up the design.

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For the plus-sign design, cut your pieces as follows:

Fabric A (off-white): 10 (3.5″ x 3.5″), 8 (6.5″ x 3.5″), 4 (9.5″ x 3.5″)
Fabric B (bicycles print): 2 (9.5″ x 3.5″), 4 (3.5″ x 3.5″)
Fabric C (scissors print): 2 (9.5″ x 3.5″), 4 (3.5″ x 3.5″)
Fabric D (purple): 1 (9.5″ x 3.5″), 2 (3.5″ x 3.5″)

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Arrange your pieces with the purple plus-sign in the middle, and the other plus-signs to each corner. Fill in the blank spots with solid white.

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Start sewing together each long row on your machine. Once the rows are joined, pin together and sew each row side by side, starting at the center (purple plus-sign). Trim your edges.

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Your finished block should look like this.

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You’ve finished one side! Now on to the other side, which uses a technique of improvisational piecing.

Start piecing a few blocks together, and machine stitch right sides together along one edge. Use your rotary cutter to trim off rough edges, and add another piece. It’s okay to make diagonal cuts, which increases the wonkiness of the design. (Here, I pieced the scissors and purple prints, then added the white to one edge before trimming.

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Next, I added a large green block. Then I added white along an entire side and trimmed.

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Keep adding pieces until your block is the same size (or a little larger) than the plus-sign piece.

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To make the design more interesting, you can slice right through some of the blocks you’ve sewn together. Add in a strip of another color (I chose purple), stitch along both sides, and trim edges.

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Eventually, you’ll end up with something like this:

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Test it out on your sewing machine and see how it fits. (When you quilt the layers together, it will naturally “shrink” just a bit, so start out with a piece that’s a few inches longer than the machine.)

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Here are both pieces after I trimmed the edges to make them the same size.

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Next, you’ll want to cut a piece of fusible fleece to the size of one patchwork rectangle. Follow the manufacturer’s directions to iron on the fleece to the back (wrong) side of the plus-sign piece, making sure no stray threads are sandwiched between the layers (these may be visible through the white on the finished product if you leave them in). Repeat with the improv pieces side.

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Once you’ve iron the fleece to both patchwork pieces (wrong sides), stack the two pieces with fleece sides together, like this. Trim sides to match.

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Pin together the two sides and begin to machine quilt long, straight lines down the seams of the plus-sign side.

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This is what the quilted cover looks like now. Next, you’ll add bias tape to finish the edges. Make sure you buy the extra wide, double fold type.

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Begin to pin the bias tape to edges of cover, sandwiching all raw edges inside bias tape.

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I rounded the corners of my cover by using a drinking glass and my rotary cutter. Machine stitch the binding around the edges. I used my fingers to hold the bias tape taut, and didn’t rely solely on the pins to hold it in place. This is especially true around the corners, where you’ll want to stitch slowly.

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When you get to the end, fold under one edge of the bias tape, and hold tightly to sew a smooth finished edge. Turn the project and sew a perpendicular stitch to fasten down the flap all the way to the edge.

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Next, you’ll want to make the ties. With the remaining bias tape (several inches), open and cut in half length-wise, then cut both in half width-wise. You should now have four pieces of the same length.

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Sew a wide zig-sag stitch on these single-folded ties to keep them from unraveling.

Place the cover on your sewing machine, and mark the strap placement with pins. Fold under the edge and sew ties in place with a forward and backward stitch.

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You’re done! Here’s the plus-sign design facing out.

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Here’s the back of the improv pieced side. I like how the detail in white looks like a mod sewing machine.

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Here’s the front of the improv pieced side. This is my favorite overall look, and yours can be totally personalized and unique if you follow my basic steps of improv piecing detailed above.

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Side view:
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The great thing about this sewing machine cover is that you can change the look with your mood. Simply slip off the cover and fold it inside-out!

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If you use this tutorial, please share a link to your project in the comments or add to our Flickr group. We’d love to see it!

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