Blog2018-10-08T18:53:01+00:00
22October, 2018

Designing stuffed toys with muslin mockups

Sewing & Design, Spoonflower & Fabric Design|0 Comments

The Spoonflower design challenge this week was a cut-and-sew project that fit on a fat quarter. I love designing these kind of things. Some of my very first Spoonflower designs were sets of stuffed toys (Goldilocks and the 3 Bears, Red Riding Hood) where you could make all of the little characters as dolls or finger puppets and then they had their house which was a bag to store them all in. All of the pieces fit on a fat quarter and you just cut them out and sewed them together. The way this design challenge was set up you could make a cut-and-sew anything. Many people made stuffed animal toys, but you could do things bags, headbands or bibs as long as they fit on that 21×18 inch rectangle.

I struggled with this one a little bit. I was going to re-do a sheep stuffed toy pattern that I had in my Etsy shop years and years ago. I thought it would be easy to convert since I had already pattern tested it. But I just wasn’t excited about it and it’s a little fiddly to sew together.

Then I thought about a conversation I had with my friend Megan, who owns a local yarn and fabric store called Knit & Bolt. For a class I was teaching, I interviewed Megan about trends she saw in fabrics – what sells, what doesn’t sell, what do people come in looking for. One of the things that came up was cut-and-sew panels like these. They are popular at her shop, but one of the things she noticed about them is that although they seem like a really great beginner project for new stitchers, often the actual sewing parts are really difficult. She had an […]

16October, 2018

Book Review: The NEW Spoonflower Quick Sew Project Book

Book Reports, Sewing & Design, Spoonflower & Fabric Design|0 Comments

Just last week, Spoonflower released their second book, The Spoonflower Quick Sew Project Book. You might know that I worked on the first book, The Spoonflower Handbook and we get a little shout out in the intro for this new book.

The author for the Quick Sew book is my friend Anda Corrie. I have known Anda for a long time, although we only met in person in 2016. Anda worked at Etsy for many years and I asked her to be a juror for a grant program that I administrated when I still worked in the arts admin world. She also was a contributor to the first Spoonflower book. She has a project (pg 85) and she did the illustrations for the book. I love the aesthetic of her fabric designs: colorful, whimsical, and simple, but in a way that has so much character.

I wanted to tell you about this new book and a little about what I think is great about it. (This isn’t a sponsored post or anything like that. Everything I say here is my own thoughts and impressions.)

The book in a nutshell

It’s a sewing book. Where the Spoonflower Handbook focused on teaching you ways to create your own design, the main focus of this book is sewing. It has a great variety of projects that use different amounts of fabric from swatch to several yards. Although there are several projects that show you how to design something that is personalized, that isn’t the main goal. In some ways, I feel like this one is the prequel to the other. The Quick Sew book teaches you how to sew some great basic things with designs you get in the Marketplace, the […]

5October, 2018

Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics (or putting your stats in context)

An Artist's Life|7 Comments

Yes, I know that the title of this blog post is not going to get me any Google ranking or search engine traffic. I went to that webinar.

But people search for things like tutorials on “can I dye a towel with food coloring?” and “reviews of babylock sewing machines”. (The answers are “no” and “Mine was a lemon” if you got here from Google. Welcome.) So I am not sure that search engine optimization is what this post really needs.

I was looking at stats and search terms the other day. Everything gives you stats now, whether you want them or not. How many people like your post? How many people visit your page? How many people engage with your photo? I am not sure what I was looking for really, but I noticed that everything is down right now compared to last year. Etsy shop sales are down 22%. My blog viewership is down 25%. I posted a picture on instagram and Facebook yesterday of a piece of mine that I am really proud of and only 42 people have so far reacted to it. (About 4% of my audience at those two venues) The thing I shared about someone else’s machine knitted star map has more than double that. My newsletter subscribers have remained pretty steady, but it’s still only about 49% of subscribers that even open the email I send. I didn’t even send one out in August. That makes a real dent in your stats. Sigh.

And then I was reading a post in a forum about marketing and market testing to your Facebook followers. It’s a craft business group I belong to and often it has great questions and advice from members. Someone asked a question about using Facebook groups and the only people who chimed in […]

4October, 2018

Faking It.

An Artist's Life, Gallery Exhibitions, Out & About, Spoonflower & Fabric Design|4 Comments

I was invited to show three pieces in an exhibition called Fiber Art in the Digital Age at the WI Museum of Quilts and Fiber Arts. The theme of the show is fiber art that incorporates innovations of the “digital age”. I created three pieces that include digitally printed fabrics and laser cut wood and acrylic. This is the first in a series of posts talking about those pieces.

Faking It
Sometimes a comment about your work sticks with you for years. One of the first digitally printed fabric garments I made was a dress that I wore to an art gallery opening. Two visitors came up to me and struck up a conversation about the dress, asking if the fabric was made using batik. When I explained with excitement that it was actually digitally printed photographs of ice, they looked at me and said “Digitally printed? That’s cheating!”

I have discovered that the relationship between fiber art and computers is often misunderstood. There is an assumption that if you use a computer, that it does all of the work; you just press a key and Photoshop magically creates art. Because I used a computer to create part of my piece these commenters, and several others throughout the years, decided that it wasn’t real art.

So, I decided to make Faking It a celebration of “fake” art made by computers. I started by creating imitation mosaics from recycled magazine paper with images of computers and technology: an iPhone, charging cables and even a vintage floppy disk signed with my initials. I surrounded the mosaic tiles with a border of ransom note style words that all are synonyms for fake: false, swindle, hoax, hokum, spoof, flim flam, bogus and so on. The background is made from tiny strips of paint chips in colors titled […]

20September, 2018

I wanna be in the room where it happens.

Everything Else|Comments Off on I wanna be in the room where it happens.

We saw it. It took signing up for a waiting list, winning a spot in a lottery, clicking through at just the right time and a whole lot of luck, but we scored tickets and saw Hamilton on Tuesday night.

I’ve been trying to stay away from knowing too much about the show because I wanted to experience it for the first time right there. I must be one of the only people on the planet who does not have the music memorized. I don’t even own the cast album. And I was a theater major and president of my high school Drama Club, so this was hard for me. But I know how amazing it is to see something live, with a room full of people who are excited to be there. I wanted that experience.

Hamilton is breathtaking. And I mean that in many ways. The first act literally never takes a breath. There are no scene changes to wait for, no transitions, no scenes full of dialog where you can sit back and relax. There is music and choreography and visual tableaus to take in from the very second the show starts until you feel like you can exhale at intermission. I have never seen a show that grabs you like this and doesn’t let you go. I will argue that Wicked has the very greatest act one closer ever, but Hamilton leaves you with a similar kind of rush.

Thinking about it, I am a little surprised that Hamilton is as popular as it is, honestly. It is an odd show. Maybe that’s what does it. It is more like an opera than a musical. There are about five minutes of the whole show that are spoken dialogue. Everything else is in song. And fast, complex, unhummable songs with […]

7September, 2018

Video Tutorial: Combining photos to print at Spoonflower

Spoonflower & Fabric Design, Tutorials, Videos|4 Comments

I’ve had several students ask me this week: “How can I combine a bunch of different things together and print them all on a yard of fabric at Spoonflower? Do I use Fill-A-Yard?”

I wanted to help by walking you through how to combine photos or art from a group of friends into one fat quarter or yard of fabric, so you can print many things all at once. This is a very fast and informal overview about how you do it in Photoshop (starring some barking dogs in the background). I am a big fan of “Done is Better than Perfect” and I wanted to get this posted and not worry about it being polished. So think of it like a live video chat where I am just talking you through the process. (It’s about 25 minutes long, so you know that going in. You can pause and come back if you need to.) Click the arrows icon (next to the Vimeo logo) to see it bigger so you can read the menus on my screen.

You will see:

  • creating a canvas that is exactly the size of a fat quarter or yard
  • adding photos or art to the canvas using “place embedded”
  • using save as and uploading to Spoonflower
  • uploading a revision
  • when you need to rotate your canvas so it prints correctly and the easy way to do that
  • how to resize a photo you have placed and what to do if it looks blurry or pixellated

Here’s a link to the tea towel I used as an example if you would like to see it up close.

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Hi, I’m Becka.

Talking about fabric design, Spoonflower, teaching, and the life and business of being an artist.

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