Tag Archive for f+w media

Thomas Knauer Q&A: Fabric Design and Modern Quilting

Today, we are excited to have Thomas Knauer, a great creative mind, fabric designer and writer! If you follow Thomas’s blog, you know that he openly shares insight into the industry, the sacrifices involved in running a creative business and the importance of creating art. Read on to hear more about how he balances his creative endeavors with family time, his upcoming book and more!

Thomas, thanks for visiting Craft Buds to share more about your work as a writer, fabrics designer and creator! Can you tell us a little bit about your background and how your work shifted to the textiles industry?

Until about five years ago I had spent my entire life in academia; I got graduate degrees from Ohio University and the Cranbrook Academy of Art, and taught art and design at Drake University and the State University of New York. In 2008, I developed a rare neuromuscular disorder and had to leave both academia and the traditional work world.

Once we got my illness managed, I decided to make a dress for my then almost 2-year-old daughter. At about that age everything for kids starts to have corporate tie-ins and I though I could certainly figure out a dress for her. So, I made one, and then another, and another and another and another. She loved them, and I loved that she loved them, so I was hooked.

From there I decided to give fabric design a try and just dove in. There was so much I didn’t have a clue about, especially the industry itself, but by then it was about 20 years since I started my career as an artist, and all of those years did a lot to really help me jump-start things here.

Market quilt by Thomas Knauer in “Thesaurus” fabric

What would people be most surprised to know about being a fabric designer?

There are probably so many things that would surprise people, to be honest. The most likely is how much fabric designers make: generally 1-2% of the retail cost of the finished fabric. Certainly fabric design opens up some doors—it certainly has for me—but it also involves a remarkable amount of work to do really well.

Like any business there are always trade-offs, and in the end I am glad to be doing it. Certainly, there are a lot of personal rewards; I truly love figuring out how to tell a story or approach a conceptual problem through fabric design. At the same time there are only so many hours in the day. If you want to make a living doing this, you are going to need to do a whole lot of different things, and expect to devote and insane amount of time to doing it. Heck, I wouldn’t be able to do this if my wife weren’t a professor.

Actually, my advice to anyone trying to break into this world would be to do it part time for years while still working a straight job, or have a partner who can supply that steady income; it is a long, long road.

Doppelgänger quilt by Thomas Knauer and quilted by Lisa Sipes

I’m excited to hear more about your book with F+W Media, due out next spring. Can you tell us a little more about the book conception and writing process and what that looked like for you?

In my head, this book is something of a sampler, not a set of blocks to make a sampler quilt, but a sampling of quilts that illustrate a methodology, a conceptual approach to modern quilting. The quilts don’t all look modern, so I’m not really talking about modern in strictly aesthetic terms; each of the quilts in this book is a response to a specifically modern (or even post-modern problem). Each quilt starts out with a problem, a concern, and issue and I figure out how to translate a response into a quilt. In all but one case, the quilts are practical, usable quilts; the book is about integrating our values, our concerns, and our worldviews into the things we make and our lives, wrapping ourselves up in objects that speak to others and ourselves. One of my QuiltCon quilts—In Defense of Handmade—was made for the book. I wish I could go into greater detail, but that’s going to have to wait until we get closer to the release date.

As far as writing this book, it was a total dream. I waited until I found a publisher who I though was a really good fit, and F+W has been fantastic; they have really supported the project all the way through and allowed me to make the decisions that I felt I needed to make. I was lucky enough to have Lisa Sipes quilt all of the quilts for the book, which has been incredible, and have had the support of some fabulous piecers to help me get all of the tops done in time (you’ll hear about them in the book).

The actual writing really was the best part for me; I am a writer by nature as anyone who visits my blog can attest to. I actually wrote almost the entirety of the book in two four-days bursts. For one of them I took off to Philadelphia to see my neurologist and then locked myself in a hotel until I had finished the first half of the book. I can’t actually remember where I went the second time, but I wrote the second half in much the same way. The really great thing about this book is that F+W gave me a word count that could never really ever fit in the book length we had planned on, and I have to believe they knew that. It meant that they just wanted me go ahead and write, which is what I love to do.

Of course there was a lot of editing and revising; there always is. That added about two more weeks to the writing. The thing about a quilt book is that the making takes up almost all of the time, at least for me; luckily that is kinda awesome too. But the writing, that is definitely a bit like heroin for me; I am addicted and already looking forward to starting the second, third, and fourth books.

Blast quilt by Rachael Gander in Thomas Knauer’s “Asbury” fabric

How do you find a balance between your creative work and your personal/family time? Do you have any tips for creative entrepreneurs in this arena?

Honestly, sometimes better than others. That is just the nature of things here in the fabric/quilt world. Things happen in spurts and you just have to put in the time when you have to put in the time. For a while at the start I think I did a pretty mediocre job of balancing things, but now I am starting to say no to more things. I’m in a process of cutting down to the core of things that truly matter to me in terms of what I do in this industry, especially now that we have a new baby, and K is getting to work on her second book.

As far as tips, oi… So much of that depends on your financial circumstances. If you can afford to take things slowly then do it, but not everyone has that luxury; when it is sink or swim, you gotta do what you gotta do. My biggest advice for being a creative entrepreneur is to have a safety net, to have it be part time until the very last minute, and to have several back-up plans. Passion is a prerequisite, but it just isn’t enough. I don’t mean to be all negative, but I think it is important to hear. If you really want to succeed, don’t jump in too early; that is the best way to keep enjoying what you do and to have the space you need to prepare for a successful entry into doing this full-time.

What’s next for you?

That is always a hard question because I rarely know for sure. We are going to be living in England next year (K has a fellowship at Cambridge) and I hope to spend much of my work time writing another book. And of course I hope there will be a lot more fabric. I have just started a partnership with Janome and am diving in headfirst into machine embroidery, which I have wanted to do for a while. More than just cure stuff, machine embroidery can do some things that would be otherwise impossible, and that is what I want to do, some utterly insane designs that no hand could really do, or at least not in less that a couple of years…

I’m thinking I am going to start moving back toward the gallery a bit more after a long hiatus. While I am still in love with practical and usable quilts (and won’t stop making those), I am finding that I have a backlog of textile and stitchery ideas that are truly best suited for the galleries I used to haunt.

Beyond that, who knows? I have a feeling this is going to be a year of change…

Thanks for the thoughtful interview, Thomas! You can stay in touch by following his blog.

What did you find most interesting from this post? If you have questions or comments for Thomas, feel free to leave them here!

Book Review: Modern Designs for Classic Quilts

Today, we are excited to have a guest post from Elizabeth, with a review of the book Modern Designs for Classic Quilts. Take it away Elizabeth!

Happy Thanksgiving Craft Buds friends! I’m Elizabeth from Inspire Me Grey, and on this day of traditions and celebrations, it seems like the perfect time for a little review of the new quilting book Modern Designs for Classic Quilts by Kelly Biscopink and Andrea Johnson. With this book, Kelly and Andie celebrate traditional quilt designs by giving them new twists in modern fabrics, layouts and creative designs.

Full disclosure: This in no way affects my feelings about the book, but Kelly is a friend of mine – like, a real-life friend and not just a blogland friend. We go way back – to birth, really. Her parents are my godparents, and Kelly and I overlapped a couple of years at the same university. It was fantastic to discover that we have quilting in common, and I’m thrilled to review her (and Andie’s) book for Craft Buds.

So back to the review. I really like the “hook” of this book. Some quilting books are just patterns and projects with no common thread to really hold them together. What makes this one special is the connection of classic designs done in new ways. Kelly and Andie take things like flying geese, coins, hexagons and Dresden plates and do some really cool things with them. They also provide a great primer on basic techniques, including this split-screen of how they each handle matching straight seams differently. (No pretending that everyone does it all one way here! Yes, you have options!)

My personal favorites (and recent additions to my “must make” list) include this spotty kaleidoscope pattern and Andie’s Midtown Girl:

I took the book with me on vacation last week and my mom picked these Dresden plates as her faves:

Full disclosure: Elizabeth is a real-life friend of mine, and she is not kidding about this book. I’ve also take a look, and this has to be one of my favorite quilting books of the year. Love the quilts, fabric, patterns, illustrations . . . It’s a must have!

Hop over to Elizabeth’s blog to see a quilt-in-progress from the book.

Blog Tour!

Monday, 11/5 Andie & Kelly, AndieJohnsonSews & Stitchy Quilt Stuff
Tuesday, 11/6 Lindsay of CraftBuds
Wednesday, 11/7 Jill of Darling Jill Quilts
Thursday, 11/8 Faith of Fresh Lemons
Friday, 11/9 Tracy of Generation Q
Saturday, 11/10 Angela of Quilting is my Therapy
Sunday, 11/11 Shannon of Stitch Craft Create
Monday, 11/12 Laurie of Scarlet Fig
Tuesday, 11/13 Kaysie of KZJo’s Studio
Wednesday, 11/14 Jessica of A Little Gray
Thursday, 11/15 Mary of The Tulip Patch
Friday, 11/16 Deborah of Whipstitch
Saturday, 11/17 Lindsay of The Cottage Mama
Sunday, 11/18 Jenny of Sew Kind of Wonderful
Monday, 11/19 Carla of LollyQuiltz
Tuesday, 11/20 Thomas of Thomas Knauer Sews
Wednesday, 11/21 Brenda of Pink Castle Fabrics
Thursday, 11/22 Lindsay & Liz Rea of CraftBuds & Inspire Me Grey
Friday, 11/23 Sarah of The Last Piece
Saturday, 11/24 Andie & Kelly, AndieJohnsonSews & Stitchy Quilt Stuff
Cara of Cara Quilts

Modern Designs for Classic Quilts + Giveaway!

Today, we are continuing the fun of Craft Book Month with a Q&A from two authors of a modern quilting book that you are going to love! Kelly Biscopink and Andrea Johnson are co-authors of the new release Modern Designs for Classic Quilts: 12 Traditionally Inspired Patterns Made New (F+W Media). We are thrilled to help them kick of the blog tour of their book, which begins today.

Ladies, congratulations on the release of your new quilting book! How did you both meet, and can you tell me a little bit about your blogging and how that played a role?

Andie: I work at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital in the Bone Marrow Transplant unit. Kelly works at the College of Charleston’s Sottile Theatre. The two of us met through the Cincinnati Modern Quilt Guild and became fast friends. It was just one of those instant connections!

We both have the same love of traditional quilts but are really excited about the modern scene that’s been booming over the last few years. We do have blogs (AndieJohnsonSews and Stitchy Quilt Stuff) and enjoy them as both a creative outlet and a way to expand our sewing circle of friends. Our blogs have given us a voice in the sewing community, and we love being connected to sewists and quilters all over the world.


Can you tell me a little bit about how you got this book idea off the ground?

We were at a sew-in event one Saturday and started talking about why we love quilting, and realized we both had very traditional quilting backgrounds but love the modern aesthetic. The idea for our book was born out of that conversation. A few weeks later over coffee, the book outline was nailed down and we started putting together a proposal. After a lot of back and forth and some crazy twists of fate, it was acquired through F+W Media.

Were there any surprises along the way when it came to the work that goes into writing a book?

Shockingly, the surprises were few. We worked so well with each other, and our editors and our publishing company staff were great at guiding us through each step.

Andie: As far as the projects go – creating pieces that I thought would be scrutinized by quilters who bought the book introduced a tiny sliver of self-doubt. I’m used to creating what I want when I want to please me, so when going through this, I put a lot of pressure on myself, which kinda sucked some of the joy out of the process. But overall, it was a pretty amazing experience.

Kelly: Coming from an editorial background, it was fascinating being on the “other side” of the writing process. I had no idea how personal this book would be, how much I would agonize over it. I also can’t even tell you how surprisingly emotional it was to see the book for the first time!

Do you have any advice for someone looking to write a craft book? What lessons have you learned along the way?

Concept is everything. We happened to have an idea that was timely and on trend with what’s going on in the quilting community. We both have experience in writing patterns and we’re been quilting and sewing for years, so we felt confident that we could execute the design, patterns and writing of the book. Also, it really helped that we knew people in the industry.  If you have a great concept with lots of project ideas and can provide examples of your work, submit to a publisher! You never know what can happen.

Blog Tour!

Monday, 11/5    Andie & Kelly, AndieJohnsonSews & Stitchy Quilt Stuff
Tuesday, 11/6    Lindsay of CraftBuds
Wednesday, 11/7    Jill of Darling Jill Quilts
Thursday, 11/8    Faith of Fresh Lemons
Friday, 11/9    Tracy of Generation Q
Saturday, 11/10    Angela of Quilting is my Therapy
Sunday, 11/11   Shannon of Stitch Craft Create
Monday, 11/12   Laurie of Scarlet Fig
Tuesday, 11/13   Kaysie of KZJo’s Studio
Wednesday, 11/14   Jessica of A Little Gray
Thursday, 11/15   Mary of The Tulip Patch
Friday, 11/16    Deborah of Whipstitch
Saturday, 11/17   Lindsay of  The Cottage Mama
Sunday, 11/18    Jenny of Sew Kind of Wonderful
Monday, 11/19   Carla of LollyQuiltz
Tuesday, 11/20   Thomas of Thomas Knauer Sews
Wednesday, 11/21   Brenda of Pink Castle Fabrics
Thursday, 11/22   Lindsay & Liz Rea of CraftBuds Inspire Me Grey
Friday, 11/23   Sarah of The Last Piece
Saturday, 11/24    Andie & Kelly, AndieJohnsonSews & Stitchy Quilt Stuff
Cara of Cara Quilts

We’ll be back later this month with a book review and a sneak peek at Elizabeth‘s project from the book. If you haven’t taken a look at this book yet, it is gorgeous and the ideal project book for your next sew along!

Giveaway!

F+W Media is generously giving away a copy of Modern Designs for Classic Quilts to one lucky Craft Buds reader! Leave a comment below for your chance to win. For your comment, you can tell us your favorite “traditional” quilt block or pattern. Also, let us know if you might be interested in a sew along for the book. Sounds fun, right?! ;)

We’ll choose one random winner next Monday, November 12, 2012.

Congrats to our winner, #205 Sherri Noel!

Book Review: Desire to Inspire

Part inspiring stories, part creative workbook for your soul, the book Desire to Inspire is a new release from F+W Media.

Subtitled Using Creative Passion to Transform the World, the book’s mission is to help artist’s realize that their creativity is for a purpose. But the reader must first realize how to harness the creativity inside of them, which they can tap into by following along with the many exercises in this book, meant to get at the root of one’s creative soul.

Author Christine Mason Miller and 19 additional contributors (among them are artists, authors, personal coaches, a documentary film maker, a yoga teacher, and the founder or a creative scholarship program) pepper the book with their personal stories. Instead of being broken up by contributor, the book  contains ten chapters that range from foundational topics to more in-depth looks at the purpose of creative beings.

Each chapter contains exercises to help the reader identify with her own talents, dreams and challenges. In chapter two, readers are asked to list personal values as they relate to friends and family, money, health, physical surroundings, career, etc. After narrowing down the list to her core values, the reader is then asked some probing questions like, “What values am I most likely to sell out on?” and “In what areas of my life to I feel I am living in greatest alignment with my values?”

And that’s just one of the many exercises in the book. Deeper into the chapters, creative individuals are encouraged to seek a mentor, develop a mission statement and ultimately turn their own art into a tool that can change the world for good.


Chapter 8, “Finding the Way Through” is a favorite of mine because it talks the reader through dealing with the trials that can come with pursuing a creative career. The women featured in this book have heard “no,” faced illness and personal distress and more while pursuing their dreams. The book is incredibly “real” and relateable in this way.

All in all, this book is a like a hug from a friend. But even better is the friend that challenges you to become more, because they know the potential you have as a creative person. “Far too often, we don’t give ourselves enough credit. We’re stronger, wiser and more beautiful than we realize,” says contributor and artist Christine Castro Hughes.

The softcover book reads like a magazine or an artist’s journal, and it has enough elements of order and creative chaos to engage both right- and left-brained individuals.

Conclusion: Desire to Inspire conveys that creativity is a gift that is meant to be used for a greater purpose. If you could change the world using your creative talents, what would you do?

Review: The Colette Sewing Handbook + Winners

Colette Sewing Handbook Cover

After interviewing Sarai Mitnick of Colette Patterns fame, I was so excited to get the chance to review her new book. The Colette Sewing Handbook (F+W Media) is both a project book and teaching tool for sewists, meaning it does include 5 sewing patterns that the reader can make and feel proud of. However, the basis of this book is actually on explaining the techniques needed to sew clothing with a great look and fit. This includes how to choose fabrics, read and alter patterns, how to care for garments and so forth. Quick, someone give this book to Project Runway winner Anya!

Colette Sewing Handbook excerpt

As a self-taught sewist that mostly works with quilting cottons, I was excited to read about how I should actually be sewing things. For instance, did you know that pressing a garment is different than ironing? I didn’t! I was also intrigued by the concept of ripping fabric from the bolt instead of cutting, which is actually the preferred method to get a “trued up” (even) edge. I also learned the many ways to transfer a pattern from the original to the fabric, using markers and chalk pens (and why each one is useful).

Colette Sewing Techniques

The book also reviews some techniques I use regularly, like gathering, hand-stitching and inserting facings into a garment. Still, no matter how many times you’ve installed a zipper, you might find yourself referring to this book’s helpful step-by-step photos as a reminder.

Colette Sewing Handbook Fabric Types

Did I mention that the whole book is just really pretty? I’m going to bookmark the pages on fabric selection, because I know this will come in handy time and time again. Sarai details the qualities of fabric (What fibers is it made from? Woven or knit? How does it drape or reflect light?) and explains which fabrics are better for which project. Brilliant!

Colette Sewing Handbook Fabric Drape

Overall, Sarai encourages sewists not to rush into their projects, but to take time selecting fabric that is right for the garment, pre-washing and ironing the fabric, prepping and altering the pattern and making a muslin (inexpensive trial run) of the garment. All of this comes before cutting into your pretty fabric. This technique helps you to get a great fitting dress that you’ll actually want to wear, which saves money and time in the long run. And once you’ve altered the pattern to fit your body, you might want to make the “Truffle Dress” in six different colors. I do.

Colette Sewing Handbook Truffle Dress

Techniques aside, one thing I took away from this book is the desire to think thoughtfully about my wardrobe.  Sarai’s patterns have a cute, vintage-infused style that can be personalized with fabric choice and thoughtful details (like including or omitting a bow or fancy hem, which she gives the reader full permission to do). She encourages sewists to find their personal style and use clothing as self-expression. If you have a fabulous fitting garment in a fabric that complements your skin tone, you’re going to feel great in your clothing.

Colette Meringue Skirt

For my first project from the book, I’ve decided to conquer the “Meringue Skirt.” So far, I have gone through Sarai’s tips and selected my fabric: a textured, matte, wool-based gabardine. (Can you tell that my sewing vocabulary has increased tenfold since reading this book?) I’ve also cut the pattern pieces and adjusted for length (since I’m shorter than the model). Next, I’ll be ready to make my muslin and check the fit before starting on the skirt. Although I am pretty thrifty and don’t like to “waste” fabric, I liked Sarai’s explanation of making a wearable muslin. This means I might use a fabric that I’m not in love with, but it echoes my actual fabric choice, so I could still potentially wear the skirt if it fits.

The Colette Sewing Handbook is an invaluable tool for the sewist that wants to learn more about making garments. Although I probably won’t make all of these patterns for myself, I am definitely excited to sew two of the five, and I could see myself making more than one of each.

Winners

Out of 261 comments, the winner of The Colette Sewing Handbook is #101, Margie! We’ve sent you an e-mail with more info. If you didn’t win, why don’t you join my by signing up for the free webinar Thursday all about choosing fabrics? Participants will also get a discount on the book.

Free Webinar
Out of 636 comments, the lucky winner of the Epic Letterpress Combo Kit chosen by random.org was #90, Jessie Prince! Congratulations and Mary has sent you an e-mail with more information.

For everyone else make sure you check out the Lifestyle Crafts blog where they’re doing some amazing giveaways! This week you can enter to win a dream craft workspace worth $800 just by following their blog. For additional entries you can tweet or blog about the giveaway (and don’t forget to mention that Craft Buds sent you!).

The Colette Sewing Handbook Q&A + Giveaway

Sarai Mitnick Headshot

Today I’m excited to share this inspiring interview with a woman who left her corporate job to carve out a niche for herself in the creative marketplace.  Please welcome Sarai Mitnick to Craft Buds!

Sarai runs a successful sewing pattern business working out of her beautiful studio in Portland. Just take a gander at the lovely sewing studio photos she shared below! She also blogs at The Coletterie and recently authored The Colette Sewing Handbook (F+W Media).

Sarai Mitnick Studio - Fabric Scraps
Sarai, can you tell me a bit about your transition from a corporate job to owning your own creative business?

The biggest challenge was uncertainty. I had a pretty great job in the corporate tech world, and it can feel like you’re a little crazy for wanting to leave a stable, prestigious, well-paying career for something that’s basically a huge question mark.

But when it came right down to it, I knew I wasn’t happy. I felt bored and tired, and a worst of all, like I was wasting my time and creative abilities. It’s not a good feeling to be stuck in a pointless meeting and realizing that your life is passing by. I liked my job in theory, but in practice working for a big company was really not what I was suited to.

I’m pretty careful about money, so I spent some time saving up so I could fund the business myself. That really helped. But there were other things I would miss, like proper health insurance and tons of other perks. My employer gave us free meals, for goodness sake! But we made a go of it and I must say, it was the best decision I’ve ever made. I love being in charge, I love the creative flexibility, and I love the people I get to work with. It’s hard work, but the freedom is such an amazing gift. I am very grateful that it’s worked out.

Sarai Mitnick Sewing Studio
What’s your process for writing a new pattern?

We start with some basic ideas about an overall look, combined with requirements about what kinds of patterns we need in the overall collection. I factor in things like skill level, separates vs. dresses, and season.

Once we have several sketches and ideas, Caitlin and I discuss them and narrow it down to the few we’ll finally release. We then draft the pattern digitally, and make up many samples and muslins. The number really depends on the type of garments, with pants taking the most test runs. I think Caitlin sewed over 10 muslins to get the fit exactly right for our new pants pattern! I’d say that more typically, there are 3 or 4 muslins. Often times, little design changes have to be made as well as fitting changes, since things do look different when made up much of the time.

At this point, there is the grading and instructions to do, which is another very long process, and finally the photo shoot. It’s fun, but it takes a long, long time.

Sarai Mitnick - studio sofa
I’m excited about your new book, The Colette Sewing Handbook. So, how did it come to be?

I had a vague idea that I wanted to write a sewing book when the publisher approached me. My original concept was quite different and more specific, but my wonderful editor encouraged me to think a little more broadly and write more of a teaching manual of sorts.

My concept was to build on the sewing fundamentals that are so often overlooked. I think experienced sewists will tell you that things like understanding fabric and getting a nice fit are the keys to making the sorts of garments you daydream about. But no one seems to emphasize this when we’re starting out! So many of us just learn as we go, which is fantastic, but sometimes it takes us a long time to realize that we should pay attention to things like fabric quality. I know it was this way for me.

So my book focuses on five things: planning your sewing, using patterns, understanding fabric, getting a good fit, and finishing techniques. I suppose I wished that someone had come along years ago and said, “hey, slow down, enjoy the process more, and pay attention to this stuff and you’ll make some really cool things.”

I did enjoy the book writing process, because I truly love BIG projects. I’m a planner. And I like figuring out the best ways to communicate ideas, be it an anecdote or a tutorial. So writing a book was a lot of fun for me. It was a ton of work though. Like a lot of things worth doing, it wasn’t easy, but it was still an amazing experience that I wouldn’t trade.

Sarai Mitnick Sewing Desk
Do you have any tips for someone who is looking to launch a creative business?

Don’t be afraid to do something different! There are a lot of mediocre products out there that try to appeal to the masses. Instead, look for the niche of people that you can really do amazing things for.

My other advice is just to be kind. If you are generous, helpful, and thoughtful towards others, it’ll make you a happier person and it will come back to you in spades. I guess it sounds like a cliche, but the more you think about how you can help other people, the more help will come your way when you need it.

Sarai Mitnick Studio Thread
What’s next for you, Sarai?

Some time off! We’ve got new patterns in the works for the Spring, of course, but I’m planning to make next year a little easier. I do have some ideas up my sleeve for some crafty stuff that’s not purely sewing pattern related, but it’s just an idea at this stage. In the meantime, I’m taking a little trip to Argentina and slowing down to think!

Sarai Mitnick Bookshelf

This is the first stop on Sarai’s blog tour for this book. Check out the full list of participants, so you can follow along!

Nov. 1: The ColetterieIntro and giveaway
Nov 2: Craft Buds – Interview and giveaway
Nov. 3: Gertie’s New Blog for Better Sewing – Lace insertion tutorial for the Licorice dress
Nov. 4: Sewaholic – Book excerpt
Nov. 7: COLOURlovers – Sarai’s favorite prints and patterns
Nov. 8: Flossie Teacakes – Interview with Sarai and book review
Nov. 8: A Fashionable Stitch – Book excerpt and review
Nov. 9: Pink Chalk Studio – Book review
Nov. 10: Craft Gossip – Interview with Sarai and giveaway
Nov. 11: Bolt Fabric – Book review
Nov. 14: True Up – Fabric Fives with Sarai
Nov. 15: Frolic! – On styling the book’s photos
Nov. 16: Whipstitch – Book review
Nov. 16: Honeykennedy – Styling ideas
Nov. 17: A Dress a Day – Interview with Sarai
Nov. 18: Not Martha – Book review
(break for Thanksgiving week)
Nov. 28: Casey’s Elegant Musings – Project Planning, book excerpt and Casey’s thoughts
Nov. 29: MADE – Giveaway
Nov. 30: Sew Weekly – Book review
Nov. 30: Oh! Fransson - Elizabeth’s version of the Taffy pattern
Dec. 1: Sew Mama Sew – Guest post from Sarai on grainlines

Free Webinar: Sarai is also hosting a free webinar on November 10, and she’ll teach you how fabric is made, how to speak the language of textiles, how to choose appropriate fabrics for your sewing projects, and more. Register today, because seating is limited. There’s also a book discount for all webinar attendees.

Giveaway!

Giveaway now closed. Congrats Margie! F+W Media is generously giving one reader the chance to win a copy of The Colette Sewing Handbook by Sarai Mitnick! To enter to win, leave a comment on this post telling us one thing you’ve learned from this interview. (U.S. entries only.)

We’ll announce one winner on Wednesday, November 9.

The Colette Sewing Handbook


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.

Book Review: Mixed and Stitched + Giveaway

Jen Osborn’s new book Mixed and Stitched (North Light Books) shows off mixed-media techniques that combine cloth, paper, stitching and printing.

Mixed and Stitched book

Her technique is not polished or precise, but that’s the appeal. The book starts off with “Forget-the-Rule Techniques,” which shows off a process Jen calls stove-top alchemy (dyeing fabrics in the kitchen). She also delves into drawing on fabric graffiti-style and the proper tools for sewing together unusual items, like fabric and cardstock, chipboard, photographs, ticket stubs and more.

Mixed and Stitched bird pillow

In addition to techniques, the book includes 16 projects to get your imagination flowing, including the Feather Your Nest Pillow, made with hand-dyed fabric and designer prints.

Mixed and Stitched Apron

The Art Apron is the stunner of the book, with the main panels salvaged from pants and skirts. The apron gets dressed up with pretty patchwork, pockets and decorative stitching. She also smartly uses the already hemmed edges of pants to create the new bottom “hem” of the apron. Isn’t it gorgeous?

Each project has step-by-step photos to show the tutorial, so the book reads very much like a sewing blog, which is a plus in my book.

Mixed and Stitched bag

The Out-and-About Purse is a stand-out with its stitched fabric leaf and vintage button embellishment. The photography in this book is bright and crisp, and the projects have the appropriate air of whimsy for a mixed-media project book.

The book comes with pattern shapes you can photocopy, but the projects are made mostly from measurements and many do not require any pattern pieces. Jen includes some quirky, almost gothic embroidery designs (i.e. skull minus the cross-bones) in the back as well, which she suggests readers can copy to hand-dyed fabric with transfer paper and then stitch. Some of the designs are cutesy and not as edgy, like the “be a songbird” and “silly bear” designs.

My Project

After digging into Jen’s mind, I decided to try some mixed media art of my own. I enjoy making cards, so I though this would be a good way to break into a mixed media style like Jen’s projects.

Mixed Media cards

For these bird note cards, I roughly cut a rectangle of linen fabric to the size of the card front, and machine stitched to the cardstock. The sentiments were borrowed from the sayings in Jen’s book, and I printed them on regular paper using my computer and printer. The bird images are stickers. Some fabric, buttons and decorative stitching finished off the cards!

Mixed and Stitched book and cards

Overall, I think the projects in this book are awesome, and I’m looking forward to making an apron in the style of the Art Apron. What do you think of mixed media in your crafting?

Don’t forget to leave a comment on Monday’s post for your chance to win a copy of this book! We’ll draw a winner on Friday.

Does Your Craft Book Proposal Stand Out?

I’m happy to welcome Tonia Davenport to Craft Book Month! Tonia is the acquisitions editor at North Light Books (a division on F+W Media focusing on craft book titles). She is also a mixed-media artist and a jewelry designer.

Tonia is here to tell us some more about how to write a craft book, including putting that proposal together and selling your idea to the right publisher for your work.

Tonia Davenport

Tonia, how did you get into your career in craft book publishing?

I get asked this question a lot. Prior to working as an editor, I had been a professional picture framer for ten years (with a Bachelor’s degree in Visual Communications [a.k.a., commercial art/graphic design]). I absolutely loved framing because it exercised both halves of my brain as well as let me work with my hands. But after ten years I felt I had pretty much mastered the art and I was ready to grow in a new direction.

I had adored building something to house art and after having seen an employment ad for a craft book editor’s position at North Light, a light bulb went off when I considered the possibility of building something to house craft instruction. I had been a craft book junkie for years and was very excited at the prospect of “building books” which I hadn’t really thought of before. While I had no formal education in English, nor any job experience in editing, I did have a passion for books, making things and writing. In fact, my mom tried to encourage me to take that path in collage, but I chose the art route.

I am a firm believer in the power of intention setting. I got the job—my dream job, really—and it’s been a rewarding, fun and fascinating journey ever since. (I’ve had the job for eight years now.) Believe in what you know you can do.

Take Along Knitting book
How does a book goes from a mere concept to a reality?

It takes a special kind of concept for a book to work well—a concept composed of three key elements.

First, the content must be extensive enough to fill at least 128 pages. Many times people have really great ideas for using a small handful of techniques on a whole lotta projects and the projects all look GREAT. But the process used to make them is the same. So there just isn’t enough to say to keep the book compelling without being repetitive. As my coworkers love to say, these are ideas that would make great magazine articles. It takes not a few great ideas, but many great ideas to fill a book.

Second, the concept must appeal to one of our core audiences. On the F+W Media Craft Team, we have several categories that we publish in, including sewing and quilting, knitting and crochet, jewelry, papercrafts, scrapbooking and, of course, my personal favorite, mixed-media art. Within each of these categories, we have unique audiences with different needs and likes. What works as a papercrafting book for one publisher, may not work for another. As editors, we get to know intimately what our audiences have come to expect from us in terms of project styles and technique levels.

Stitched Whimsy

Third, the bottom line is, your art or work must be attractive and of good quality. I realize this can be subjective, so I will say it has to be attractive to the acquisitions editor. Again, we know our readers and we are seasoned at being able to tell if they would be inspired and excited about a project or not.

So, with those three components in mind, a proposal is developed from a concept and submitted to an acquisitions editor. It is reviewed and if it’s deemed worthy of pitching the concept to the board that approves publication, it’s fine-tuned, presented and  approved.

It takes roughly one year from the time the book is proposed until it hits the bookshelf. The “reality” of the forming of a book involves many people: the author, the acquisitions editor, the production editor, the designer, photographers, stylists, production managers, marketing experts and sales people. Each of these people touch the book as it goes from a concept into a published work.

Twisted Stitches book

What are the basic components of a good book proposal?

  • A short one-to-two sentence summary of what your book is about or aims to do.
  • An outline. Organize what you would like to see go into a book by using an old-fashioned outline. Divide what you want to present into sections (which could go by technique or theme) and include details such as what projects might look like and what techniques will be used for each.
  • Good sample projects! Think of a portfolio. You don’t want the acquisitions editor to have to use her imagination to see that the prototype you whipped up in an afternoon can actually look much better if you were to spend some real time on it. Show your best work. Your BEST. Great first impressions are incredibly valuable.
  • Contact info and platform. Include your full name as you would want it to appear on a book, address, phone number, e-mail and blog/website URL. Also let the acquisitions editor know how you plan to promote the book. Will you sell the book at workshops you teach at? Will you mention various things from the book to your Facebook friends? An impressive platform will set you apart from someone else with a similar proposal.
  • We also offer submission guidelines on our company’s website. Providing the answers to these questions along with your proposal is very helpful. (It also helps you know what we are looking for.)

New Dimensions in Bead and Wire Jewelry

How do you see the craft book industry changing with the technology available today? (E-books, e-patterns, blogs, etc.)

Good question! It’s becoming more and more challenging for publishers to compete with content available on the Internet. We are simply having to rethink ways of delivering content apart from just the printed form. This can sometimes make the justification of publishing a book more of a challenge because we have to ask ourselves, “What will this paperback book offer the reader that is exclusive and cannot be easily found for free online?” At F+W Media, meeting the changing needs of enthusiasts is top priority and we are changing daily to keep up with the digital needs of our audience—constantly making improvements and rethinking how we do things. There is a lot of excitement over new possibilities.

Mixed and Stitched book giveaway

Do you have any tips for aspiring craft book authors?

Go to the bookstore! Look in the craft section (as well as on your own shelf) and see what pops out at you. Look through books and, note who the publisher is for books you like. Equally important is to see what’s already out there. Decide what you can do differently. Know not only what your competition is going to be, but who might be best suited to publish your book.

Giveaway!

North Light is generously giving away a copy of Jen Osborn’s new book Mixed and Stitched to one lucky Craft Buds reader! To enter to win, just leave a comment on this post telling us something you’ve learned from this interview or a question you have about craft book publishing. We’ll draw a winner this Friday, 9/23. This giveaway is now closed. Congratulations to comment #21, Jil!

Also this week, stay tuned for a review of Mixed and Stitched and some other fun surprises.

Winner! Out of 106 comments, the winner of the Sewing with Oilcloth giveaway is #20, Valerie, who said, “I’ve never done it, but I am interested in trying it for Christmas gifts!” Congrats Valerie!

September is Craft Book Month!

It’s back-to-school season, and September is time to hit the books. Craft books, that is! Big, beautiful craft books. Stunning photography. Crisp, glossy pages. Hard covers or soft. We just love craft books, and we know you do, too. All month long, we will celebrate modern craft books by reviewing new releases, interviewing authors and editors who make the magic happen, and crafting projects from the books we spotlight.

What’s in Store?

Weekly craft book giveaways, a month-long linky party for craft book projects (see below), and a chance for you to learn from our experts. If you’ve ever dreamed of writing a craft book, we also have some fantastic tips on how to get your book published!

The Experts

Find out what catches an editor’s eye from Allison Korleski, Acquisitions Editor for Interweave Books. It may be simpler than you think!

Stay true to your vision while working agents and publishers. See how Shelly and Karen from Patterns by Figgy’s did just that with their first book, Sewing for Boys (Wiley Publishing).

Sewing for Boys book

Learn how to pitch a book with Tonia Davenport, Acquisitions Editor for North Light Craft / F+W Media. She’s got some great tips for aspiring craft book authors.

From blog to book deal. How did she do it? Ask Jessica Levitt, author of new release Modern Mix (Stash Books / C&T).

Modern Mix book

Thinking about opening your own patterns shop, and maybe writing a book, too? Meet Kay Whitt, author of the new book Sew Serendipity Bags (North Light).

Linky Party with Giveaways!

In honor of Craft Book Month, we are hosting a linky party all month long to celebrate. From September 1st through 30th, you may link up one of your favorite craft book projects below for a chance to win some fabric, books, patterns and more. The prizes include:

One winner: Doodle Stitching book + Japanese fabric from Craft Buds
One winner:
Autographed CosmoGIRL Cool Room book + Kona Charm Pack from Craft Buds

Doodle Stitching + Japanese fabric Autographed book + Kona charm pack

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

Paper Crafting Books + Scissors

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

One winner: The Practical Guide to Patchwork book courtesy of Dewberry Lane.  (Dewberry Lane is also offering free U.S. shipping on all orders placed during September with the code FREESHIP. Check out her books and patterns.)

One winner: $25 shop credit to My Little Sunshine Handmade

My Little Sunshine Handmade BWS tips button

One winner: 2 sewing patterns of your choice from Pattern Patti
One winner:
Three vintage sewing patterns; selections from Goofing Off

Pattern Patti on Etsy

 

Ready to share your craft book project? Here’s what you need to do to participate:  (Please read carefully)

  1. Create a NEW blog post. Share one project you’ve made from a sewing or general craft book and let us know which book it came from. The project doesn’t have to be brand new, never seen before on your blog – just something you’ve whipped up in the past that you love.
  2. One entry per person. Everyone who links up to the party with the Craft Book Month button will be eligible for our sponsored giveaways!
  3. Link back to Craft Book Month in your post.  You can do this with a button, just copy and paste the HTML code into your post. 
  4. Share the direct link to your post in the linky below. Right click on your post URL to copy link address, then paste it in the linky.
  5. Visit some of the other craft book projects and be inspired! If you are on Flickr, you may also add your photos to the Craft Buds group pool; however, you must also link up the URL of your Flickr post to this linky to be eligible for prizes.
  6. Random winners from the linky party will be announced on October 1, 2011. Giveaways open worldwide. Stay tuned for additional craft book giveaways to be held each week in September (winners announced on Fridays) which will be open to both bloggers and non-bloggers.
  7.  

Subscribe to Craft Buds Subscribe to Craft Buds now so you don’t miss any Q&As, projects, or giveaways! We’ll also update this page with links to each interview, so feel free to bookmark or pin it. Pin It

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