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?

How to Make Bias Tape

During our bias tape giveaway we had lots of requests from people asking about how to make bias tape. Bias tape is wonderful for adding to the edges of clothing, blankets, potholders, whatever you can think of! It gives your piece a nice finished look. It was great to hear what people would like to see on Craft Buds so as requested, here’s a tutorial! The process is not difficult (a little tricky at the seams) but it does tend to be time consuming so be ready to spend some quality time with your iron.

Here’s a few tools that make the job much easier: cutting mat, ruler, rotary cutter, bias tape tool. You can still make the tape without any of these (except the ruler) but they will all make the job easier. You will also need an iron.

1. Trim the edges of your fabric so it is square.

2. Use the lines on your cutting mat to set your ruler at a 45 degree angle. If you don’t have a cutting mat, measure out an equal distance both directions from the corner and make your first cut.

3. After making that first cut, measure out your desired width. You can either mark the measurements (left image below) or use a second ruler to help you figure out where to place the first ruler (right image below).

To figure out your width to cut, first decide the width you want your final bias tape to be. For single fold bias tape, cut the fabric strips to twice the final width minus 1/8″. For double fold bias tape, cut the fabric strips to four times the final width desired minus 1/8″. The 1/8″ allows for a bit of a gap between the folds toward the center in step 6*. Here’s a list of double fold bias tape measurements:

  • 1/2″ bias tape cut 1 7/8″ strips
  • 3/8″ bias tape cut 1 3/8″ strips
  • 1/4″ bias tape cut 7/8″ strip

* Edited to add: The 1/8″ gap is optional, you can leave that out and it’ll still turn out fine! If using a full measurement for double fold tape (2″ for 1/2″ tape, 1 1/2″ for 3/8″ tape, 1″ for 1/4″ tape) in step 6 you’ll fold the fabric all the way to the center crease so the edges will be lined up rather than with a gap between.

4. Sew all your strips together. To do this, overlap with right sides together with 1/4″ sticking out to either side. Stitch across where the arrows show below.

5. Trim the corners off and when you open the strip up, it will look like the right photo below.

 6. Heat up your iron. If you don’t have a bias tape tool you’ll first fold your strip of fabric in half and use the iron to crease. Open it back up and fold one side toward the center. Crease with the iron and then do the other side. There should be about a 1/8″ gap between the two sides.

If you do have the bias tape tool just feed your fabric through the tip and then drag it along the strip of fabric with the iron right behind.

7. With either method in step 6, you now have single fold bias tape. If you want it to be double fold (and you probably do), fold it in half and iron.

Additional notes:

  • If you will be using your bias tape on a project that is just straight lines, you don’t need to worry about cutting the fabric at a 45 degree angle. The angle gives the fabric a stretchiness that allows it to go around curves easier. For straight lines, just cut the fabric in straight strips rather than at an angle.
  • The creases on your homemade bias tape won’t be as good as the ones in storebought.
  • I purchased my bias tape tool on but I’ve also seen them at Hobby Lobby. The one in the photos is the Clover Bias Tape Maker, 3/4″. When purchasing a bias tape tool, remember that you’ll have to fold the bias tape in half for double fold tape so a 3/4″ tool actually makes 3/8″ double fold bias tape.
  • Simplicity makes a Bias Tape Maker Machine that does the folding and ironing for you. MADE has a review and instructions on how to use it.
  • For other sewing tutorials, check out Sew Mama Sew’s list.  My favorite is the magic tube turning trick! 

Giveaway! Bean Bags and a Guest Post at 504 Main

*Comments are now closed. The winner was Sarah G., comment #28 chosen by!

Remember Mary’s Numbered Bean Bags Tutorial? Today, it’s being featured over at 504 Main, a wonderful crafty blog run by Holly!

We were so excited, that we decided to give away a bean bags kit to one lucky reader! Simply fill with beans and stitch up the edges. It’s a fun way for little ones to learn their numbers in style.

To enter:

  1. Follow Craft Buds (Google Friend Connect, RSS or e-mail), and leave a comment on this post. (One entry)
  2. For an extra chance, head over to 504 Main (link opens in a new window) and comment on the bean bags tutorial over there. Then come back here and leave a comment telling us you did! (One entry)

One lucky winner will be announced on Friday, April 22, 2011. (U.S. and Canada only.)

Giveaways Roundup

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

Tiered Plate Stand

This was my week 2 entry for One Month to Win It contest. Thanks to all those that voted! The contest started with 12 contestants and each week 3 are voted off. I just found out that I not only made it to week 3, but I was the winner for week 2 with this entry!

Besides sewing and crafting I also really enjoy baking (yes, I did make the cupcakes above). So I decided to make myself a spring/Easter inspired tiered dessert tray using Mod Podge, which was the required item for the contest this week. This ended up being a lot more work than I was expecting so I came up with an easy method option for those without access to a workshop. The great thing about making one of these is that you can customize it for a special event or match it to your decor. And if you don’t bake you can always use it for displaying decorative items!

Easy way: Buy melamine plates and short (around 6″) table legs or candlesticks. Paint the table legs or candlesticks if necessary. Use epoxy to glue it all together. Our local Target has a nice selection of everyday and seasonal melamine plates and bowls that can be individually purchased. I think this would be fun with a bowl as the top piece that you could fill with M & Ms, nuts or candies.

Hard way (also known as the way I did it):
Materials list: one 8 oz. jar outdoor Mod Podge, three ceramic plates, two 6″ table legs, one can of white enamel spray paint, one piece of 1/4″ all thread, one 1/4″  bolt that fits the all thread, one 1/4″ T nut (it’s the lower left item in the photo), a rubber washer, enough fabric to cover your plates, six self- stick 1/4″ rubber feet (or three 1/2″ if you can find them), 1 bottle white puffy paint
Other supplies: pliers (depending on your table legs), drill, 5/16″ ceramic bit, wood saw (optional to trim down table legs), hacksaw

The photo below shows my plates (I started with two of each just in case any broke during drilling but none did) and the rubber washer, all thread, T nut, and bolt.

1. Remove any hardware from the table leg with pliers. 2. I cut the 2″ ball off the top of one of my two 6″ table legs with a wood saw. Then I drilled all the way through my 6″ and 4″ pieces, and drilled 3/4″ into the bottom of the 2″ ball. 3. Drill a 5/16″ hole through the center of each plate (the photo shows only partway drilled through). Make sure to wear eye protection and a breathing mask to protect you from ceramic bits and dust. 4. Hammer the T nut into the bottom of the ball.

Next, clean any dust and dirt off the plates and table legs and spraypaint them all white. Do several light coats of paint.

Then, working on one plate at a time, paint a thin layer of Mod Podge onto the bottoms of the plates. That will help hold the fabric in place as you brush more Mod Podge on top of the fabric to permanently hold it down. I found it easiest to 1. Brush Mod Podge on the fabric around the bottom of the plate 2. Mod Podge the sides 3. Add any pleats if necessary to keep the fabric from wrinkling 4. Trim off any excess fabric.

When the bottoms of the plates have dried, flip them over and do the same process on top. For the top two plates 1. Brush the plate with Mod Podge first then place the fabric on top 2. Brush Mod Podge on top of the bottom of the plate 3. Work your way up the sides 4. Trim any excess fabric. 

For the bottom plate 1. Brush the bottom of the plate with Mod Podge 2. Position strips of fabric touching but not overlapping 3. Brush on a heavy coat of Mod Podge so you don’t disturb the edges of the fabric and cause them to fray 4. Use an x-acto to trim excess fabric.

Adding the border to all 3 plates was done the same way just with different widths of fabric. 1. Use a brush to put a line of Mod Podge around the edge of the plate. 2. Attach the fabric. You can choose to fold under the edges or leave the raw edges. I tried both and both ways worked. 3. Mod Podge around the edge of the plate in sections, adding pleats as you go to allow the fabric to lay flat. 4. Cover the edges of the border and inside the pleats with several coats of Mod Podge, allowing it to dry between layers.

Once all your Mod Podge has dried 1. Use white Puffy Paint to add a circle of little white dots just inside the fabric border of each plate and let that dry. 2. Cut the inside of rubber washer so it fits around the T nut. 3. Use an x-acto knife to cut an X over the hole you drilled in the top and bottom layers of the fabric on each plate then put the all thread through the bottom plate and screw the bolt onto the bottom side of the plate Then (not pictured) affix the rubber feet to the bottom of the plate. If necessary, stack up two rubber feet to raise the plate high enough that the bolt isn’t touching the table top. 4. Stack everything up to the top plate then mark the all thread 1/2″ above the top of that plate. Remove it and use a hacksaw to cut it. Then stack everything back up again and screw the ball you prepared in step 2 of this segment on top. Once the ball is tightened everything should be very sturdy.

Now stand back and admire your work!

Fresh Picks for Friday, 4.15.11 and Giveaway Winners!

Sunburst Pillow from Noodlehead

Here Comes the Sun: Anna from Noodlehead guest blogs at Versus to show off this stunning Sunburst Pillow with a tutorial.

Needle and Spatula

Time for Tea: Kate spruced up plain sugar cookies with springy pastels at Needle and Spatula.

Gen X Quilters

Baby Blues: AnneMarie at Gen X Quilters quilts with an unexpected fabric.


The 10 winners of the bias tape giveaway are:

37: Tracy (April 9, 2011 at 9:11 am)

29: Christi (April 8, 2011 at 8:13 pm)

90: June B (April 14, 2011 at 9:12 am)

32: Savannah (April 8, 2011 at 10:06 pm)

17: robin (April 8, 2011 at 3:00 pm)

18: DianeH (April 8, 2011 at 3:11 pm)

43: Michelle T (April 9, 2011 at 7:38 pm)

62: Kathy h (April 11, 2011 at 9:33 am)

11: Mary Ann Miller (April 8, 2011 at 2:21 pm)

82: Sarah (April 13, 2011 at 9:59 am)

Congrats to the winners, who have been notified by e-mail. If you didn’t win, but would like to learn how to make your own bias tape, stay tuned for a tutorial next week!

Giveaways Roundup
Check out the Craft Buds Giveaway Roundup this week, with 25 current giveaways to enter! It’s updated each week, and you are always welcome to link up your craft supplies or handmade giveaways.
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