The Crafting Guide to Mindfulness

As someone who loves being crafty, you’re probably well aware of how relaxing crafting can be – the happiness of getting out a project bag or squirrelling away to a craft room for a few hours to lose yourself in your latest project. Focusing on a craft often puts us in a state of ‘flow’, having complete concentration on what you’re working on and being fully in the moment. When you’re thinking ‘how do I want to shape this, where does this stitch go, how do I want this to look?’ you’re not thinking the bundle of other thoughts that run through your head each day; crafting is a gift to ourselves to pause and just be.

This isn’t only conventional wisdom amongst crafters – studies by the American Journal of Public Health have shown that crafting reduces stress and anxiety and boosts positivity and connectedness.

So while I’m not going to suggest you eat a raisin (it’s a mindfulness thing) or hug a ball of wool (although that does sound kinda nice), here’s some ways you can actively encourage more mindfulness and relaxation into your crafting.

Use Your Senses

How to make a bath bomb

We’re working with our hands, and a huge part of what makes crafting so wonderful is the tactile connection we can have with the materials and tools we work with. The next time you pick up a project, take a moment to really feel the texture of the fabric or materials. How does the embroidery hoop or paintbrush feel in your hand? Use all your senses to appreciate what you’re creating with. (more…)

HOW TO GET REORDERS FROM YOUR STOCKISTS

Editor’s Note: This post was shared with us by Etan and Emily from Wholesale In a Box. They offer makers a method to get into stores — and tools to make growth easier and faster. You can sign up for a free eCourse on their method for growing wholesale (without trade shows, hassle, or stress) here. -Nicole S.

Before they get their first store, most handmade business owners are focused on how many store accounts they want to get. They dream of having wholesale accounts around the country, with their products sparkling on hundreds of store shelves.

But after the first couple of stores are under their belt, many people realize that not all wholesale accounts are created equal. The store in Milwaukee that orders $800-$900 every quarter is worth so much more than the store in Tulsa that ordered $1,000 once and hasn’t placed an order since.

Sometimes stores don’t reorder because of something on their end. Some shops are struggling financially or changing business models and aren’t going to place follow-on orders with you for those reasons. But the majority of the time, a given store is placing consistent, large orders with some makers — and it is up to you whether you are one of them. (more…)

PODCAST EPISODE 69: GETTING HONEST ABOUT YOURSELF AND YOUR BUSINESS WITH LINSI BROWNSON

Today on the Dear Handmade Life podcast we’re talking to Linsi Brownson of Spark Collaborative. We talk about Linsi’s belief that everyone is born creative, how to tap into that natural creativity if you’ve lost your connection to it, what types of questions to ask yourself to see where you are, where you want to be and the steps you need to get there, what areas of your business and life you need to evaluate, the importance of starting small, exploring and experimenting when making big changes and we use Delilah as guinea pig and Linsi does some on the spot coaching with her that starts with the question, “What is your challenge right now?”.

AND…. As a Thank You for tuning into this episode of the Dear Handmade Life podcast, Linsi is offering 5 Free Laser Coaching Sessions. Laser Coaching is a 90 minute virtual session where you’ll dive right in to your latest greatest challenge, fear, idea or opportunity! To enter, apply for a session here and leave us a review on iTunes here. Good luck!

Things we mentioned during the episode: (more…)

DIY Creepy-Chic Decor

Wallpaper, guys!

It’s my new favorite medium to work with!

I know when all of us think of wallpaper, we think…well, walls.

I teamed up with Graham and Brown this week, the company behind so many fun patterns and designs of wallpaper, you’ll be drooling!  AND, they have a really fun line of some creepy-chic Halloween designs.

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So, I got crafty with wallpaper this week, and tried to think outside of the box.  I was able to use this amazing design called FairyToile (find it here) from Graham & Brown.  I could go crazy with this stuff!  How about use a strip as a fun table-runner, or piece the strips together to make a table topper for a spooky Halloween party.  Fill in a large black frame for the season or, use this durable paper as the medium for your next bunting project.  I tried my hand at covering up my current window valances by piecing the strips together and pinning it into place.  (My kids LOVE our creepy house)  and then tried this easy creepy-chic lamp project that I thought I’d share with you today.

Here’s an quick project tut for you to whip up:

Supplies:

-Drum-shaped lamp shade (mine was $2.99 at Goodwill)–and it was new, still in the plastic

-Thrifted lamp (mine was $4.99 at goodwill)

-Spray Primer and Metallic Silver Spray Paint/Painters Tape

-Wallpaper (FairyToile from Graham & Brown (here)

-ModPodge

-Electrical tape

-Coordinating Embellishments

-Hot Glue Gun & Glue

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First thing’s first…The top of this lamp was just fine…but I didn’t enjoy how it went from clear/silvery to a gross old yellow-orange color.  So, I used Blue Painter’s tape to tape-off the top layer, and I primed and spray-painted just the bottom section of the lamp.  No pics of spraying, but it turned out really nice.

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Next, I measured my lampshade and it was 8 inches tall, and I needed two strips of wallpaper to go all the way around my shade, so I cute 2 8 inch strips x the length of the wallpaper.  (Ps: My rotary cutter and mat made this magical.)

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Step 3: Generously slather on ModPodge like it’s going out of style, and then adhere it to the outside of the lampshade.  Easy.

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Step 4: I used some rubberbands to hold the wallpaper in place until the ModPodge dried completely.

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Step 5: Use electrical tape, or some other coordinating tape to cover up the seams and to insure that the edges don’t lift at all over time.

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Step 6: Embellish as desired.   I used a glue-gun to attach the Pom-Pom garland trim to the bottom of the lampshade, and a black Gimp along the top edge.

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Super easy project to spook-up your home this Halloween season.  I’m telling you, wallpaper is so much more fun to work with on a project like this than fabric would be…and the design choices are so fun!

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Janome S9 Sewing Machine Review

I am so lucky to be a part of Janome‘s artisan team.   This year, they came out with the latest Skyline model, the S9.  They contacted me and asked me to review it, so of course I said yes and they sent it over.  I knew, based on my experience with both the Skyline S5 and S7 models, that this machine would also be amazing.

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When I opened the box, I saw that this machine was a sewing and embroidery machine.  I have never had an embroidery machine and so I was excited (and a little nervous) to try it for the first time.

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But before I talk about that, I want to let you know about the machine itself.

It has all of  my favorite features from the S7:

  • large foot pedal
  • automatic threader that always works
  • clothing stitches
  • embroidery stitches
  • automatic tension that works perfectly every time
  • easy bobbin winding
  • stitch plate is SO easy to remove

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We Are Knitters: The Poplar Scarf

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I received this beautiful Poplar Scarf knit kit from We Are Knitters in the beginning of November, right when the cozy season was ramping up and Texas temperatures were starting to blessedly dip below sixty degrees. The first thing I did when I got this yarn was rub it all over my face. I mean, seriously, you can’t necessarily tell from the photos, but these yarn balls are off-the-charts squishy. I rarely work with alpaca yarn so I always forget how soft it is – and it was no less delightful sliding across my fingers. While life happened to make this project much slower for me than it needed to be (hellooo, Christmas knitting), it was a welcome, squishy, interesting reprieve from the monotony of thesis work and ribbed hat holiday gifts.

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We’ve been watching lots of Marvel TV series around here, and this was a fun pattern to work on because it required just a tiny bit of attention. The pattern for this scarf includes an interesting “snowflake” stitch that I had never done before. And if you know me as a knitter, you know I firmly believe learning new things is the only way to stay inspired – even though the process is sometimes a little intimidating. Fortunately, WAK have handy stitch tutorial videos on their website, so it was pretty easy to figure out what I was doing. (Although, I will admit that there’s a little 20-row section toward the beginning of my scarf where I wasn’t really paying attention and thus consistently did the snowflakes incorrectly, resulting in a wonky section that doesn’t increase properly. But you know what? It’s fine, because mistakes are part of the charm of handmade items – or at least that’s what I told myself when I decided to stubbornly press on without frogging.)

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DIY: LONGBOARD HANDLETTERING PROJECT

Longboarding in Berlin, DIY aaaand handlettering combined in one project? Perfect! Last year after I started doing longboarding, I came up with the idea to do a handlettering projecton a longboard and pitched this to a partner for a cooperation. They liked the idea, but decided on another project with me, so I kept it in mind for later and thought that I would do it this upcoming spring anyways.

A few weeks ago, after already having worked with them several times, I got again contacted by PILOT who wanted to work on a new campaign with me. They released their new PILOT PINTOR creative pens with which you can draw on a huge variety of different surfaces and I immediately thought that this would be the perfect chance to use them to embellish a longboard! Eeeeeeks, so so exciting! So what you are gonna expect in this blogpost is one of my VERY fave DIY projects so far: putting together a longboard all by myself and then embellishing its deck with handlettering. Hooray! Thus, longboarding in Berlin will even be more fun!


SO. MUCH. FUN! As you can see, I’m smiling from ear to ear and I am so happy to finally write this blogpost.


I will show you how to put a longboard together yourself aaaaaand I will show you what I did with the PINTOR creative markers. Here we go! (more…)

DIY Freckles Sign

I’m excited to be included in this fun series!   Please go check out Living with Punks to see all the other awesome home projects she’s gathered over there!  jackpot!  and…Holy cow, I want to find a chair like the one above and have a party with it!  I love to make things for my house!

I’m kicking myself because literally the day before I heard about this ‘home’ series, I posted my tutorial  for super easy valances for your windows….you can check that out {here}.  And of course we lots of other ‘ home’ projects, but one of my favorite things to make for my house involves applique and words…it’s kind of like the long-cut for a totally cute printable. I’ve had my eye on such a project for a while, so I thought it was the perfect time to work on it!

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I’ve got a cute little girlie over at my house with the most awesome freckles, ever!  I’ve seen this quote floating around, and knew that Scarlet needed it in her room.  She shares a room with her older sister, and their room is super bright and colorful.

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I was also gifted a system from Pottery Barn Teen of 4 squares that you hang together to make a decorative bulletin board, magnet board, peg board, etc (Have you see those?)  I didn’t love the fabric on them, so I’ve been holding on to them to give them a makeover…I thought this was the perfect opportunity.  Here’s a pic of what I started with:

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If you don’t have these (who does?!?) This project could be totally replicated with just a square of plywood…or even placed in an empty picture frame.  This piece is 16 x 16, and all measurements (as far as the letters go) are cut according to that, but could be easily adjusted!

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To start off, prepare your piece… for me, that meant tearing it apart, which was informative to me!  The original fabric was held down with super sticky double-sided tape (good info for future reference!)

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also, the original board was layered with a piece of foam-core board (you can get that stuff at the Dollar Store!)  So, If you’re starting with just a piece of wood, layer it with some foam core, and get out your double-sided tape!  I just reused that stuff.

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The first real step is to cut a swatch of fabric that is large enough to cover the front and still have enough to go around to the back to secure it.  I cut mine about 20 x 20 just to be safe, and then I trimmed later on in the project.

Second, start cutting your letters!  Iron wonder-under or heat-n-bond onto the back of your fabric before cutting it, according to the instructions.

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I used a Cricut to cut the majority of my letters.  I used the Sans Serif Cartridge for a basic font.  Freckles, though I picked a font off of the computer, and printed out, traced it, and then cut it by hand.  The whole project could  be done like this!  No special Cricut or Silhouette tools needed.

Here are the heights for each row of lettering:

A GIRL: 3 inches

WITHOUT: 1.75 inches

freckles: The F (the largest letter) is about 3 inches high…

IS LIKE: 2 inches

A NIGHT WITHOUT: 1 inch

STARS: 3 inches

Next, use a disappearing ink marker to mark the edge of your board, so you know how much surface area you have to work with while laying out your letters.

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Remove the paper backing from the back of each letter…

 

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And then lay out your letters on top of your white fabric:

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When they are laid out how you like it, go ahead and iron all of the letters into place very carefully.  (Follow the wonder-under instructions for this as well)  After they are ironed in place, you’ll need to stitch around each letter.

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Then the easy part:  Lay your work face-down, and then put your foam-core-covered board on top of that.

Layer some double-sided tape right along the edge of your board, and, if you need to trim your white fabric, now is the time to do it!  I started by folding down the edges just a little bit to make sure my words were lined up nicely on the other side.  I made several adjustments until it was right.

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Next you just need to fold-in the corners so they have a mitered look.  It should stick temporarily to the double-sided tape, but I would use a staple gun to attach it permanently.  Hang a hook on the back, and if you’re using wood, you’re done!

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I had to re-poke through some screw holes,

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…and then replace the backing to hang it up.

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I love decorating with words, and homemade art…those are the pieces in my home that get the most compliments.

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Lemonade Stand for Am. Girl Dolls Tutorial

No one was more excited that my American Girl Lover Ivy when I mentioned the idea of creating a lemonade stand for her American Girl Doll.  It took a little shopping to find a crate that was the perfect height (found it at Michaels finally!) and then the rest was easy!

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Ivy had gotten this darling lemonade set for her birthday, and it was begging for a stand to play with.   They set it up next to their real lemonade stand and I’m pretty sure their ‘cute factor’ brought in some additional sales.  Who wouldn’t buy lemonade from an American Girl?!

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The crate is empty in the back and can easily hold the lemonade props…and is exactly the right height for 18 inch dolls.

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Create Your Own American Girl Dolls Now Available

Hey guys! Thanks for the great response to my giveaway. It’s been fun hearing from so many of you. 🙂

Just a heads up: American Girl has officially released their “Create Your Own” dolls on their website. You can choose custom face mold, skin color, eye color, hair length, style, and color, outfits, and more. You can even chose from several options to make your doll’s personality.

The dolls retail for $200 each, which is a little steep, but considering you get a doll, an outfit, accessories, and the option of glasses, hearing aides, braces, and more, plus the joy of creating your own custom doll, I understand the price.

You can start creating your own dolls HERE. Even if you don’t plan on purchasing one, it’s fun to try different hair/eye/skin combos. And if you have an account with American Girl, you can save your designs for later. 🙂

Here are some of the designs the girls and I created (all mini-me dolls):

Mine
Oldest Gal’s
Middle Gal’s

Little Gal’s

Have fun customizing, but be warned: you might just fall down a rabbit hole for a couple of hours. 😉