Saturday November 17 • 10 am – 4 pm
Grain Belt Building in NE Minneapolis
I have lost count of how many times I have done the Craft’za show (or its sibling, Craftstravaganza). For years, I was a volunteer demonstrator in the sun and the snow. And I have participated as a vendor three other times, I think. The organizers are great people and I always enjoy the show.
This year I have a couple of brand new items making their debut. I have neckties for the very first time. I have hesitated to make them before because they are really fiddly to sew. It’s just hard for me to make them in a way that they are actually affordable. But then I found a company called Knotty Tie, that is based in CO. Their mission, from their website: “Knotty Tie was built from scratch to create employment opportunities for resettling refugees based upon their existing skills. By creating opportunities for arriving refugees to work in their trade, and in a supportive work environment with flexible schedules, fair wages and generous benefits, we’re removing barriers for them and their families to become economically self-sufficient and culturally assimilated.” That’s a mission that I can totally get behind. I worked with Knotty Tie to digitally print my surface designs and then had the ties sewn by their organization. I do all the rest of the sewing for my items, but I like being able to support this company with these neckties. That’s something I try to do as much as I can with my business; to support other small artist-run businesses. I buy all of the zippers, ribbons, cotton tape and other notions I use in my work from other Etsy sellers and small businesses. (I bet that’s something you didn’t know.)
…Our phone had been ringing like a broken alarm clock, with reports of tricks and treats happening all over the neighborhood. We were in for a long night…”
I’ve been designing a bunch of tea towels for my Spoonflower shop lately. The September design challenges were all about tea towels and I did a couple of tea towel calendars too. Those kinds of designs aren’t really made to repeat. Instead you are designing a panel that is set up to be exactly the size of a fat quarter of fabric. For linen-cotton canvas, which is my preferred fabric for those, that means I am designing a rectangle that is 27×18 inches.
I had sold several of the designs to people shopping on Spoonflower, but a couple of those shoppers chose a different fabric than the linen-cotton canvas, which might not seem like a problem, except that different fabrics have different widths and so the size of the fat quarter is different. If you choose basic cotton for example, a fat quarter is only 21 x 18 inches. Which means that you are going to lose 6 inches of my design. The top photo here is showing you what a fat quarter of basic cotton looks like; the bottom shows linen-cotton canvas. If you order this design in basic cotton, a third of the calendar will be missing.
If you haven’t used Spoonflower a lot, you might not realize that what you see is exactly what you get – if that design is cut off in the preview, then that’s what your fabric is going to look like. It’s an easy mistake to make. I caught it when I saw these orders come through and contacted Spoonflower to get in touch with those customers, since I was pretty sure they didn’t actually want to have only 2/3 of the design and everything got fixed up. What I didn’t know is that I actually […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]