Free! Cadet Cap Pattern

I’m guest posting over at the Britex Fabric blog with a pattern and instructions for a child’s cadet style cap! Use this link to head over and check it out.…

Reusable Sandwich Bags

Get ready for a delightful summer picnic in the park with these reusable sandwich bags! Made from oilcloth, these bags are easy and fun to whip up in a variety…

All-In-One Picnic Blanket Tote

With summer just around the corner I’m getting ready to enjoy to family picnics and being outside again (finally!). I wanted to make a picnic blanket that was waterproof on one side…

All-In-One Picnic Blanket Tote

With summer just around the corner I’m getting ready to enjoy to family picnics and being outside again (finally!). I wanted to make a picnic blanket that was waterproof on one side and easy to store so I came up with this design. This would also be great for the beach and keeping the sand out of your blanket! It features a shower curtain or vinyl table cloth on the bottom, a blanket on the top, an attached pocket that the whole blanket folds up into and an easy to carry shoulder strap.
 
 
 
Materials:
  • 1 heavy duty vinyl shower curtain with magnets, patterned or clear–mine was 71″ x 70″ (if you get the type with suction cups on the sides they’ll show up in the final blanket). I also tried this with a vinyl table cloth which looked really cute but was not as durable.
  • 1 twin XL blanket, washed and dried–the one I used was 92″ x 63″ 
  • 45″ shoulder strap (or whatever length feels comfortable for you)
  • sewing machine and lots and lots of pins
 
1. Cut off the bottom of the blanket so it is now 73″ x 63″. You’ll now have a scrap piece that’s 19″ x 63″. If you’re not using a twin XL blanket you’re going to start with a basic rectangle of 71″ x 60″. Add 2″ to each side that will you cut with a raw edge and 1″ to each side that you cut with a finished edge because the finished edges you only fold over once in step 3 and the raw edges you fold twice.
 
2. Trim off the top of the shower curtain and the bottom with the magnets so it’s 60″ tall (and still the original 71″ wide). I took photos but with this being so large a project I decided that drawn diagrams would be more helpful!
 
 
3. Make the pillow piece: Cut a piece 18″ wide x 16″ tall from the scrap blanket fabric to use for the pillow. One of the 16″ sides should be the finished blanket edge (which will be the top of the pillow opening). Hem the 3 raw edges of the pillow by folding the edges over twice, 1/2″ each fold. The pillow piece should now be 16″ wide x 15″ tall. Then fold under the ends of the strap to prevent fraying and sew the strap onto the sides of the fabric.
 
 
4. Position the pillow in one of the corners of the blanket that has finished edges. Place it 1″ away from the edges and sew around the sides and bottom.
 
 5. Now you have a blanket with a pillow pocket that is 73″ x 63″ and a shower curtain that is 71″ x 60″. Center the shower curtain 1″ away from the finished top and sides of the blanket and there will be an extra 1″ along the raw edge. Fold the extra 1″ inch of blanket over the shower curtain and pin down. At the raw edge, fold over twice and pin down.
 
6. Sew around the entire blanket using a larger stitch to avoid putting too many holes into the vinyl.
 
7. Fold your blanket up into the pocket and you’re ready to impress everyone at the park! To fold the blanket, lay it flat with the vinyl side up then fold it in half lengthwise, then in half again. Turn the pocket inside out so the strips you just folded are now inside the pocket. Fold the strip above the pocket in half, then in half again, then stuff it in the pocket. Now your blanket is easy to store and carry and even doubles as a pillow!
 
 
 
And here’s how the folding technique looks in real life:
 
 
 
Additional notes: 
  • When the blanket is open you can hide the strap inside the pocket. The pocket can also double as storage and makes a great spot to stash napkins, disposable plates, and other items that blow away at a picnic.
  • If you’re not going to be outside on wet ground this would be even easier without the waterproof layer.
  • An all fleece version of this would be fun for kids for road trips, a fun and functional pillow to have on the couch, or great for sports fans. It would double as either a seat cushion or a blanket!
  • The fluffier the blanket the harder it is to stuff it into the pocket so thinner or single layer blankets work best.
  • The blanket would be easier to fold if you stitched along the fold lines. I was hesitant to try this with the vinyl backing because all the holes would make it less durable. But it could be a good addition to a non-waterpoof version.
  • Rather than folding the blanket edge over the vinyl side you can also use bias tape. Or you can remove the binding from your blanket then stitch it back on once the vinyl is pinned down. It looks nice but it’s a lot of extra work and maybe not worth it, trust me.

Fresh Picks for Wednesday, 4.27.11

It’s time for this week’s Fresh Picks! If you’d like to be considered for a future spotlight here at Craft Buds, we invite you to submit your project here.

Monogram Keychains @ Little Lovelies

Alpha Bits: You’ll love this simple and cute tutorial for handmade monogram keychains at Little Lovelies!

Ruby Star Rising clock

Time will Tell: Freshen up a boring wall clock with Ruby Star Rising or another fun Japanese import fabric. Check out this great tutorial at Quilt.Cook.Keep!

Craft Show Tips @ The Carters

Craft Show Tips: Thinking about branching out and selling your crafts at a craft show? Check out these helpful tips from The Carters blog.

Custom Scissor gifts @ Crap I've Made

A Cut Above: Who knew that there was such a thing as dimensional Mod Podge? See it in action over at Crap I’ve Made, where Char posts this cute teacher appreciation craft.


Giveaways Roundup

Visit the Craft Buds Giveaway Roundup, with 34 current giveaways to enter! It’s updated each week, and you are always welcome to link up your craft supplies or handmade giveaways.

Crafty Kitchen: Homemade Holiday Marshmallows + Giveaway Winner

I’ve mentioned before that besides crafting I also enjoy baking. I’ve always wondered about making homemade marshmallows but was never brave enough to try it until yesterday. Now I have a delicious batch of flavored marshmallows with a chocolate drizzle on top and they weren’t even that hard to make! One of the things I like most is that you can flavor the recipe based on personal preference or the holiday, like orange color and flavoring for Easter or red color and peppermint flavor for Christmas. I found this recipe on Allrecipes.com and while the recipe itself was good, the instructions were a bit brief. Here’s both the recipe and step by step photo instructions.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
  • 1 1/4 cups water, divided
  • 4 tablespoons unflavored gelatin (kosher gelatin is available too)
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 teaspoon flavored extract (you can use vanilla but then these seem very similar to store-bought marshmallows and not worth the effort!)
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar for dusting
  • 1. In a medium or large saucepan mix together the white sugar, corn syrup, and 3/4 cup water. You’ll be adding more ingredients later so don’t use a smaller saucepan. Set the burner to medium-high heat. While that’s heating up, place a metal bowl on top of the saucepan (or use a double burner if you have one) and in it combine the other 3/4 cup water and 4 tablespoons gelatin (left photo below). In a minute or two, the gelatin will look like the right photo below, kind of wrinkly.

    2. While your sugar and gelatin mixtures are heating, start beating the 2 egg whites until the form soft peaks. I test for a soft peak by raising the beater and seeing if a peak forms, flops over a bit at the top and stays like that without disappearing.

    3. When the gelatin mixture has liquified, remove it from the top of the sugar mixture which by now should be boiling. Keep the gelatin mixture near the burner to keep it warm and in liquid form. Measure the temperature of the sugar mixture with a candy thermometer until it reaches 250 to 265 degrees F (121 to 129 degrees C).

    4. Once you’ve reached the desired temperature, remove the sugar from the heat and slowly pour the gelatin mixture into the boiling sugar (left photo below). It’s going to expand quickly so be ready to stir it back down for a few seconds! Once the two are mixed, pour a slow steady stream into the egg whites while the beater(s) are on (right photo below).

    5. Beat until semi-stiff peaks form. This will take at least a few minutes if not longer. When it’s done it will slowly drip off the beater and form peaks in the bowl. It will be about the consistency of marshmallow cream.

    6. Next you can stir in a teaspoon of your choice of extract plus a couple drops of food coloring. I gently swirled in the color with a spatula so my final marshmallows have both the color and white showing. Then pour the mixture into a 9×9 or 9×13 pan that has been greased and covered in powdered sugar. I used spray oil and a 9×9 pan that the mixture nearly filled completely. For not so thick marshmallows, use the 9×13 pan. For even thinner marsmallows so you can use cookie cutters to cut them out, use a jelly roll pan/cookie sheet.

    7. Let the marshmallows cool and stabilize for 4-6 hours then cover the top with powdered sugar and turn out of the pan onto wax paper.

    8. Use kitchen shears or a knife to cut the block into individual marshmallows. Dip your scissors or knife into powdered sugar if it starts to stick. If you made a thinner sheet of marshmallow for cookie cutters, use lots of powdered sugar on both the cookie cutters and the marshmallow block. As you cut the marshmallows, roll them in powdered sugar.

    9. Melt 1 1/4 cups of semi-sweet chocolate chips over low heat on the stove or in the microwave. Line up all your marshmallows close together on wax paper and drizzle with chocolate. Then move them apart before the chocolate cools. Once the chocolate is cool they’re ready to store in an air-tight container!

     

    *Thanks to everyone who entered the beanbag contest! The winner was Sarah G., comment #28 chosen by Random.org! If you’re Sarah G., you should have an e-mail from me :).*

    Proven Successful: Tools and Tips for Blogging

    Today, we’re excited to have a fabulous guest blogger, Martha of Sunday Afternoon Housewife.  She’s not only a pro in marketing her handmade business (she makes these fantastic scrabble tile necklaces), but she’s recently release a free e-course with helpful tips for craft bloggers. Take it away Martha!

    Sunday Afternoon Housewife

    Starting and maintaining a blog is a lot of work. Success in the blogging world doesn’t come over night, and it can be frustrating trying to build up your readership. Sometimes you will feel like you are writing to no one at all. The bad news is that having a successful blog does take time, research and hard work. The good news is that with the right tools, you can create a blog which will be more successful. The following tools and tips have all proven very successful for me, and I know you will enjoy them, too! I encourage you to check them out so that you can improve your blog and see your readership grow.

    Favorite blogging tools

    One of the most important tools I use for blogging isn’t an online tool at all. It’s a notebook! I always keep a notebook or two handy for jotting down topic ideas whenever and where ever they strike. I got tired of having a great idea and then forgetting it before I had a chance to sit down in front of the computer and type it out. Ideas can come at the oddest times for me, so it has become very important to keep a few notebooks lying around the house and one in my purse so I can jot them down right away. After I jot them down, I’ll regularly gather up the notes in my notebooks and put them in a simple text document and keep them handy on the desktop of my computer. This way, when I am sitting down to type, the ideas are readily available.

    Now, the most important tool besides a notebook is going to be your blog itself. I highly encourage you to pick a platform which you are most comfortable with. It seems to me the most popular blogging platforms for crafters are either WordPress or Blogger. I have used both, but 3 years ago settled on WordPress. I found it to be more functional and practical as my blog grew.

    When you pick your blog platform and start to set up or update your blog, you have the option to add widgets to your blog to improve the look and functionality. Both WordPress.com and Blogger have widgets that help you organize your blog into categories or archives, and you can also add Etsy widgets (see an example here), and basic html/ text or image widgets. If you decided to build your own site from the ground up using the WordPress.org software, you also have the option to add plug-ins that do all sorts of fancy things from managing advertisements to showing rotating text quotes. If you want to start off without having to build your own site, but later may want to create your own later as you grow, then I highly suggest using WordPress.com. Later when you build your own website, if you use WordPress.org you can easily transfer over all past posts. I don’t know of another platform that offers this option as easily as WordPress.

    woodland tiles
    Another really important thing to be including in your blog is pictures. A well placed picture will catch the reader’s eye and also break up large chunks of text. There are two tools which I use for editing photos before I post them to my blog. Paint.net is free and similar to Photoshop and is great for creating text ads and editing photos. You have to download Paint.net on to your computer to use it. It is very helpful for many tasks. That being said, my favorite photo editing software right now is Picnik. It is a free, cloud based program with seemingly unlimited photo editing capabilities. You’ll find that you love it so much, you’ll probably want to upgrade to a premium account. I promise it is worth every penny.

    Other tools which will benefit your blog and help it grow include an RSS feed reader (so other can subscribe to your blog), and social media share buttons. Most blogs offer widgets or add-ons for these tools, so just look for what options your platform has available. Add This is probably one of the best share tools you can use because it also tracks for you how people share the information on from website.

    Free e-course for craft bloggers

    Now, if you are just starting out on your blogging adventure, or if you blog needs a boost to get moving again, then I encourage you to sign up for my free blogging e-course created just for crafters! My course is chock full of tips for crafters who blog or want to blog, but need a little kick in the pants. The tips are sent directly to your inbox each day. The tips will help you on your quest to improve your blog.

    Each day for 5 days you will get a blogging prompt. These prompts will help give you something to write about, to help add variety to your blog, and give you that boost you’ve been needing to get your blog up and running with more regularity.

    Click here to sign up today! (It’s free!)

    If you’ve already signed up for the e-course and have enjoyed what you have learned, then you should also check out my new ebook, The Blogging Adventure. It’s chock full of 25+ more prompts, daily tips and blog writing tricks. It’s written specifically for crafters, so I know you will find each topic inspiring and you will be motivated to write!

    Martha Latta

    Bio: My name is Martha Latta and my business is Sunday Afternoon Housewife. I am a self-taught handmade artist who creates Scrabble tile pendants, glass tile pendants and silk screened tees. I also make lots of randomness. I travel all over the country to different craft fairs and have learned a lot from my trips and the experiences of attending many fairs. On my blog I regularly write about crafting, running a craft business, and taking a craft business on road. I also create digital tools for crafters including spreadsheets, ebooks, and free ecourses. I write on my own blog (almost) daily. I am also a writer for Handmadeology. Additionally, I’m the Regional Craftologist for Indianapolis, Indiana on Unanimous Craft. I’m also a monthly contributor on Handmade Success! As if I’m not busy enough, I’m also the founder of the Handmade Promenade, an Indianapolis-based handmade market, and The Uncommon Craft Society of Indianapolis, a meet-up community of local crafters. You can read more about me and my adventures on my own blog or shop my shop at www.sundayafternoonhousewife.com.

    Fresh Picks for Wednesday, 4.20.11

    Lots of great inspiration this week in blogland! Here’s an extra-full week of Fresh Picks to get you through the rest of the week.

    Cookie Paper Bag
    C is For… Cookie!
    Transform a paper bag into this cute treat sack, with inspiration from The L Blog.

    Easter Basket Alternative

    Some Bunny Loves You: Did you see this smart Easter basket alternative at The Crafting Chicks?

    Felt Weather Board

    Cloudy with a Chance: Darling Felt Weather Board Tutorial from While She Naps.

    Castle Playhouse

    The Fairest of Them All: An amazing castle playhouse by Kalleen is posted on At Second Street! You won’t believe it.

    Wedding Invites @ A Beautiful Mess

    Happy Mail: Elsie’s vinyl records wedding invitations deserve a shout-out this week. Visit her blog, A Beautiful Mess.

    Hanging Bags Tutorial

    Cute Convenience: Liliana shares this cute hanging baskets tutorial at Sol Da Eira (in English and Portuguese).

    Fabric Covered Buttons

    Round ‘n Round: Kitty shows off a quick and easy fabric-covered button tutorial at A Law Student’s Journey. You won’t believe how easy these are to whip up!


    Giveaways Roundup If you haven’t stopped by, stop what you are doing and check out the Craft Buds Giveaway Roundup, with 38 current giveaways to enter! It’s updated each week, and you are always welcome to link up your craft supplies or handmade giveaways.

    Promote Your Craft Blog: Linky Parties

    So, you make really cute, adorable things. Your Facebook friends all seem to agree, that your crafts are, hands down, the best. But how do you get the word out about your handmade goods and find new blog readers and followers?

    One great way to promote your crafts blog is to participate in linky parties. Also called linkups or blog hops, linky parties are regular gatherings of like-minded crafters who are invited to post their projects via a linkup application such as InLinkz or Linky Tools.

    Linky parties happen all the time, all over the place, but you just need to know where to go to find them and when! If you need a little jump-start, hop over to the Craft Buds Linky Parties Page to see where we like to party each week.

    How it Works

    Some linky parties allow you to post a photo, but others are text links only. (This is generally a cheaper option for the blogger hosting the party, with annual linkup services costing around $20.) I’ve personally found that linking up with text linky parties is a great way to get a lot of hits. People are often so curious about your project that they’ll click on every link and visit every blog!

    Weekly linky parties happen every week on a specific day of the week. If a Linky Party is for Mondays, for example, you typically have from Monday morning until midnight to add your project, and then the submissions list will close.

    There are also a few monthly linky parties, such as Fresh Sewing Day (on the first of the month at Lily’s Quilts). A linky party may also be used as a giveaway tool (like at Lily’s Quilts), where each link counts as a contest entry.

    Linky Party Etiquette

    The purpose of posting your project to a linky party is to 1) get more visitors to your site and 2) find new and inspiring blogs to visit. An added bonus is creating links back to your site, which will increase your SEO (search engine optimization), making it easier for people to find you online.

    With all these benefits, linky parties are sometimes used incorrectly. It’s important to read the guidelines set out by the blogger hosting a linky party, because if you don’t play nice, the party isn’t nearly as much fun!

    Linky Party screenshot

    Screenshot: Handmade Tuesdays Linky Party at Ladybug Blessings

    Etiquette for linky parties usually includes:

    1) Link to a recent project post, and not a link to the front page of your blog, your Etsy store or a giveaway, unless specifically stated by the host. The Girl Creative hosts two linky parties: Just Something I Whipped Up (Sunday) is for project posts, and Creative Girls Blog Hop (Friday) is general links to craft blog. Here at Craft Buds, we host a weekly linky party specifically for giveaways at our Giveaway Roundup.

    2) Visit one or more links uploaded by someone else and leave a nice comment.

    3) Link back to the host’s blog via a button or text link. This is a common courtesy, and it is usually appreciated if you link back in the same blog post that you are linking up, or in your blog’s sidebar. If you participate in very many linky parties, you may wish to create a separate page for all of your linky party buttons.

    4) Follow the blog hosting a linky party via RSS or Google Friend Connect. This is not always required, but subscribing is a good reminder to link up week after week. Also, this will keep you in the know in case your project was featured as a favorite that week!

    More Tips

    If you are really a go-getter, why not leave a nice comment for the blogger hosting the party each week? It’s a bit of work to set up and manage a regular linky party, so make sure your host knows that their efforts are appreciated, and that you are not just looking for some free promo.

    Try to build relationships with the other bloggers linking up by leaving kind comments and taking an interest in their crafts. These friendships will take you much farther than a few extra page views each week! You can check your blog stats to see how many people visit your blog from each linky party that week. Then you can tailor the linky parties you visit to that information.

    So friends, who hosts the best linky parties on the Web? Do you party, and if so, where?

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