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Saturday, March 11, 2017

St. Patrick's Day Cricut Made Cup for Teacher with free Printable



I decided to whip up a little early teacher appreciation gift this year.  My daughter has been sick constantly and her teacher has just been wonderful helping get her caught up.  I found these little drink cups at the Dollar Tree and added some rainbow sixlets and rolos.  It's much cuter in person.  Getting a good photo of a shiny cup just isn't my bag.
free st. patricks day printable and cricut project mug svg
Add caption

 Step 1: Prepare the mug's surface by cleaning off all the oils from everyone who's touched it with rubbing alcohol.  Also bought this stuff at the dollar store.

Step 2: Cut out the design.  I used a design I created and put the teacher's initial in the center.  I use easyweed vinyl and follow the setting instructions that come with it.  It's pressure medium, blade depth 3, speed max for my machine.  

Step 3: Weed your design.  I always use a pin.  It's so easy to get into the little spaces.  Also, I have loads of them and they are cheap.  
Now you can see that the design is totally weeded.  It looks great.  

Step 4: You need to transfer the design.  Yes there is a very expensive product you can use to transfer the design.  Or, you can get clear shelf paper at the dollar store.  I've also heard press and seal wrap works.  Haven't tried it though.
Step 5:
 Peel the clear paper from the backing and place it on the front of the design.  Use an old gift card to rub the transfer paper down onto the design.
Step 6: Peel the design off of the backing.  Now it's stuck to the clear transfer sheet.  


Step 7: Place the design on the cup.  Once you have it where you want it, rub it down with the brandishing tool...i.e. old gift card.
Step 8: Carefully peel off the transfer sheet.  I put it back onto the paper backing and use it again a couple of times.  Waste not want not.  
Finally, I filled it with candy and put this cute little card on it.  I forgot curling ribbon so I used an old gold chenille stem.  



  You can download the free St. Patrick's Day printable here.
free pot of gold st. patrick's day printable label

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Friday, March 10, 2017

Hitting the Wall: How to Unblock Your Creative Self

I originally planned this post to be about inspiration, but when it came down to writing it I just didn't feel it.  I wasn't feeling creative or inspired.  

I'd hit the wall so to speak.

People hit walls for lots of reasons.  Sometimes I'm tired.  Sometimes I've just pushed myself too hard.  Sometimes I'm just coming to the end of a highly creative cycle.  As a naturally creative person, I usually only work on things when I 'feel it'.  However, when your business also involves creativity, that doesn't always cut it.  Sometimes you've got deadlines or goals you are trying to reach and you just have to find a way to push through.

Here are some of the techniques I use to unblock my creative flow.  

Pinterest

My go to inspiration place is Pinterest.  If I'm having a hard time coming up with ideas, the first thing I do it jump over to my happy place and start looking.  

Sometimes I start a new board and get busy filling it with new ideas.  Other times I pull up boards I've already made and take a walk back through past inspiration.  If you want a look into my pinning, you can follow me.  https://www.pinterest.com/smckamille/  I'm on pinterest almost every day looking for some inspiration.  

Unplug
If pinning doesn't get my creative juices flowing, I know it's time to get away.  I'm not talking about a vacation.  I'm just talking about getting out of the studio and decompressing.  One hour outside can really get your mind cleared out and ready to start fresh.  Even in the depths of Michigan winter I get out walking several times a week.  

Go Off Subject
Sometimes, it's not even about not feeling creative.  It's about being burned out on doing the same old thing.  I'm always looking for new craft ideas.  I recently spent a whole weekend and I'm not even going to get into how much money starting a bullet journal.  I'm in love with this new mashup of planning, journaling, and art.  Just taking a couple of days to unleash another creative side to myself go my chi unblocked.  I actually made 2 new outfits this weekend because getting organized with my bullet journal freed up the part of my brain that's endlessly trying to remember what I need to do.  I just bit the bullet, wrote out my whole calendar, and now my mind is free to focus on creative things and not obsess about missing appointments.  

Another great thing about going off subject is that sometimes you need to have a breather.  I've never been one to focus solely on one creative pursuit.  Look back through my random posts and you will see.  One of my favorite projects was this Daddy Daughter Dance Corsage.  I'm not a florist, but I had a blast looking up tutorials, getting the supplies, and making this adorable corsage.    

So there you have it.  Those are my three go to techniques for getting creative.  

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Thursday, March 9, 2017

Organize Your Sewing Stash Round-up

I don't know about you, but I can always use a little more organization in my crafting.  Things tend to get pretty messy pretty quickly when I'm working on a project.  My favorite organization hacks are here

Scraps:

Check out this fun and easy way to organize scraps.  

I actually use something very similar in my studio.  I bought 12 $ store plastic shoe boxes and I have all my scraps organized by color.  Actually, it works so well that I have been using up most of my scraps, especially when I applique or make doll clothes.  There is no excuse when you have it organized.  

Bobbins


Okay this one I haven't done, but I will be.  I just love this.  Right now I have all my bobbins dumped in a kitchen drawer organizer and there is thread everywhere.  I am so doing this.  I'm always digging around trying to find a bobbin in the color I want.  I probably have 10 bobbins wound in black because I don't always want to look.

Feet

I also love this.  Right now I have my feet in the same place as my bobbins.  PS I saw these at Dollar Tree.  I know where I'm going tonight!

Buttons


I love the idea of organizing your buttons in a spice rack.  I'm going to be on the look out for one of these.  

Thread


I also love this idea.  If I only had somewhere to put it.  I'm currently using baskets for my thread.  

Floss

This is a nifty tutorial I put together about floss keepers made from $ store clothes pins.  I actually made a few sets of these and gave some as gifts.  They really keep your floss perfectly organized and untangled. 

Fabric

Last but not least, how can you organize your fabric?  I used to keep it in bins.  What a pain.  I still keep fleece in bins because it is obnoxiously bulky.  For everything else, I fold it onto tiny white boards called comic book backer boards.  These things are sturdy little boards that are archival quality...so they won't fade fabric.  It's about $5.00 for a hundred.  I have them in 2 sizes.  I have the size they come in and then I cut about 50 in half to make tiny boards for pieces of fabric that are too big for the scrap bin and too small for the regular mini bolts.  I took me about 4 days to get my massive stash rolled onto these things but it was worth it.  I can see all my fabric.  It makes completing projects so easy.  Most people seem to organize by color.  That works well if you sew mostly with cotton.  Since I work with all types of fabric, I've got my stash organized by fabric type, not color.  So, if I need a knit I know were to look.  Same with denim, special occasion, etc.  


sewing room organization tips and tricks hacks



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Wednesday, March 8, 2017

My First Wordless Wednesday Post!

I think I'm pretty lucky.
humming bird and sea horse costumes

#cricutmade t-shirt I love Michigan
woodland princess sewing pattern
steampunk pirate and airship captain cosplays sewing



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Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Remaking my Diaper Cover Sewing Pattern

Since this month's theme is getting organized and setting goals, I'll share another one of my goals.  I want to remake/update most of my patterns.  For some that will only mean making new cover art samples.  But, for some of my older patterns I plan on fully remaking tutorials and pattern pieces.  I decided to start off with my baby patterns because I have a couple of babies and toddlers I can be sewing for right now.  It's part of my larger plan to "unify branding across all platforms".

So back when I first started, I had a very random name for my patterns.  After a while I realized that people thought it - was information technology.   When I first started making patterns there wasn't as much competition and the industry wasn't as sophisticated.  Here's my original cover.
 Then, about 4/5 years ago I decided to remake the cover with a more eclectic fabric mix.  I went with the white background.  It's actually really a pretty diaper cover.  But, there is nothing on the cover that brands it as mine.  I'm going to move my old pattern to my $.99 pattern category over in my craftsy shop.  It's still a great pattern and tutorial.  To purchase the Ruffled Diaper Cover Sewing Pattern click here.    
ruffle diaper cover sewing pattern
Also, my previous pattern was hand-drafted.  I actually don't mind hand drafted patterns.  I takes me back to the original way patterns were made and I often make things from ancient magazine articles where they gave you a sketch and some measurements.  
ruffle diaper cover sewing pattern
 But, I have gotten much more sophisticated in my pattern drafting and I really enjoy computer drafting my patterns now, especially for scalability.  Here is a sneak peak of the new computer drafted pattern.
diaper cover sewing pattern
Hopefully, I'll get the remade pattern in the shop this week.  I plan on adding my new logo to all my cover art and photos.  
sewing pattern logo

I'm also planning on eliminating the ruffle in the newest version.  I want to have something a bit more versatile for my favorite new thing, the cricut.  So, I'm making a plain pattern with the possibility of embroidering on the tush or using iron on vinyl from the cricut.    

If you want to check out a couple of other versions of the diaper cover, click here.  

I'll post the final product on the blog once it's complete.  Wish me luck.

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Monday, March 6, 2017

Sewing and Craft Blogging Goals for 2017

I've really been reflecting over the past few months on personal and business goals.  As I'm starting to creep up on 40, I'm really feeling some internal pressure to buckle down and get more serious about my pattern business and blogging.  I've had this blog for a while and I'm sorry to admit that I've really been under-utilizing it's potential.  So I've spent the past couple of weeks researching what makes a great blog, what a decent amount of traffic is, and basically what it is that really successful bloggers are doing.  

The number one thing about successful blogs is that the people are passionate about what they do. Well, I think that I have that covered.  I clearly love making and creating.  So, beyond that what is is that a person needs to do to share that with their fellow crafters.

Successful bloggers post often and they are consistent.  It's not just that they are posting great content.  I think that comes along with being passionate about your craft.  It's being consistent.  Looking back through my blog, I found that I really work in spurts.  I'll post every day for a week and then go dark for a month.  I simply don't have time to blog every day.  So, I spent the past two days creating a blog post planner.  I plan to spend 1-2 days per week creating posts and then scheduling them to post.  To help me get organized, I've created a printable blog planner.  There are loads out there, but I wanted something specific to craft blogging.  It was a bit tough for me to make a computerized version because I love bullet journaling.  However, I decided that when it comes to something like blogging, a printed log would just be more efficient.
free printable blog post planner for sewing and craft bloggers

You can download it free here.   Free Printable PDF Blog Planner.  

I'm also making the Publisher version available here.  This way you can edit it yourself if you want to add in topics, etc.  Editable Blog Post Planner

 The first thing I've done with this planner is to look at my blog stats.  I've had 298,066 page views.  I'm averaging about 4,000 a month.  I want to set an achievable goal for myself, but something that it challenging.  I decided to shoot for tripling my traffic.  I feel like this is an achievable goal if I actually post on a regular basis.  
I'm also tracking engagement on social media with the same table. 
blog stats tracker printable worksheet for sewing and craft blogs
 Next, I analyzed my top 10 most popular posts.  Some of my posts are up to nearly 20,000 page views.  The top 10 posts really fall into 2 categories - Round-ups and tutorials.  It also looks like most of my traffic comes from Google and Pinterest.  I set up a spot on the table to brainstorm similar post ideas.  

Next I looked at what types of posts are most popular for crafting and sewing blogs and I broke them into 2 categories.  First are posts that you should make less frequently.  I'm calling them Quarterly Posts because I'd like to make 1-2 posts from each of these categories each quarter.  
blog post tracker worksheet printable
So I've put Fairs/Festivals (i.e. places I might sell my stuff or places I visit - kike the Sewing Expo).  

Next, it's wish lists.  This will be a roundup of things I'd love to get from other etsy shops, for my sewing studio, etc.  I'm going to make these posts about once every 4 months.  My ideas were to post around my birthday, Mother's Day, Christmas, and one other random time.

Next, I'm going to post about special discounts - i.e. quarterly sales or promotions I run in my etsy shop.  

Giveaways - I plan on hosting a giveaway every few months.

Finally, personal and business goals.  I want to track my progress and share with you.  

Now, onto the more frequent topics.  These are posts to make more often, but not necessarily every week.  I call them monthly posts.  It's broken down into features (1-2 a week), Work in Progress, Sneak Peaks, Inspiration, Personal Posts, Studio/Workspace posts, tutorials, freebies, advice, seeking feedback, book reviews, other crafting projects, Wordless Wednesday, Throwback Thursday, Resources, Treasuries, Recipes, Interviews, and Guest Blogger.  
monthly blog post tracker worksheet printable
You can see how the combination of all these types of posts ends up making it so that I can make a post every day and cover most of these topics more than once throughout the month.  

I also have a page for monthly themes - inspiration I want to use to drive my monthly posts.  For example - getting organized is my theme for this month.  I'm planning posts on how I organize my studio, how I budget and plan out cosplays, hacks for organizing different crafting supplies, etc.  I'll probably also feature some organization related sewing patterns and tutorials.  

I have worksheets for each of the topics to help brainstorm ideas and plot out when I will make the posts.  

Finally, I have the Blog Post Planner.  It's just a 1 page sheet where I plan out the posts.  
blog post idea worksheet printable brainstorming
 This one is probably the most important because it's reminding me of things I often forget to do when I'm writing a post.  For instance, optimizing the title so people will find it, tagging it with keywords so that is shows up in the sections of my blog I want it to, what type of post it is so that I can make sure I'm having a good variety of posts, and when I've scheduled it to post.  Then, it tracks things within the post itself.  Am I using the photos properly?  Did I proofread?  Do the links work?  Am I interlinking with other blog posts so that readers can find similar posts I've made?  Have I shared it on social media to help people find it?

IN A NUTSHELL

My goals for this year are: 
  • To post almost every day.  
  • To increase my blog traffic
  • To post a better variety of posts
  • To share each most on social media
  • To be more consistent in my posting format  


If you want to see how I organize my sewing projects, check out this post of my Sewing Project Planner.




  

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