Crow’s Foot, Drunkard’s Path & Shoofly Blocks

This month I was excited to finish both February and March’s blocks for the Moccasin BOM hosted by AnneMarie of Gen X Quilters. You can check out my January blocks in a previous post: Lady of the White House

Moccasin BOM February & March

March’s blocks were the two shoofly and the crow’s foot. The crow’s foot is certainly my favorite of the bunch. I used the two different greens inside cause I like how they’re the same tone as the green solid on the outside.

Imperfect curves are better than an unfinished block

February’s block was curves; a drunkard’s path to be exact…and it didn’t go so well, which is why I procrastinated quilt a bit on them. My last of the curves came out better than the first and I unpicked a few but then after cussing and throwing a few pieces of fabric across the room I took the “imperfect curves are better than an unfinished block” approach. Maybe I’ll revisit it later in the year.

Quilt Along.net

In other news there’s some exciting updates coming in the next week over at my project QuiltAlong.netsubscribe to the newsletter over there to keep updated!

Moccasin BOM by Gen X Quilters

Linking up with…

Sew Cute Tuesday Fresh Poppy Design

How To Write a Craft Tutorial Blog Post

How to Write a Craft Tutorial Blog Post Last week I listened to a stellar episode of one of my fave podcasts, Smart Passive Income about systematizing and productive workflows. Systematizing is all about breaking down the process into bite-sized, actionable steps. This system can be used to keep a project on track or as a checklist to make sure all the key steps are taken.  For example, a pattern or tutorial is essentially systematizing the making of an item.

The next day someone in one of my Facebook Groups was griping about tutorial posts; they’re the bread and butter of craft blogging but they’re really time intensive. So I decided to break down my process for putting together tutorials or patterns when I’m blogging and creating to help understand where my time is going and what I can streamline.

Steps to Create a Sewing or Craft Tutorial Post

  1. Write instructions
    I create an outline of how I want to put the item together then come back and add exact measurements and step by step instructions
  2. Create a photo shot list
    I’ll print out the instructions from step 1 and highlight where I need a picture with notes about what kind of shot I want (if I already have one in mind). This shot list helps me make sure I don’t miss important photos.
  3. Pull fabric and buy materials, take notes and a picture of it
    The notes have proven really important to look back on so I know my fabric requirements are correct.  I won’t want the end reader to buy more fabric than they need but I don’t want an angry commenter that needed to go back to the store either.
  4. Make item & take photos
    This is probably the longest step. I’ll follow my own instructions from step 1 and my shot list from step 2 while taking notes on both about adjustments, any changes in measurement or photos I want to add/change out etc.
  5. Take finish photos
    Possibly my favorite part: when the item is finished and I get to take pretty pictures!!!
  6. Import photos into Lightroom
    Plug in the SD card and sip on some coffee/wine depending on time of day
  7. Flag picks according to marks on what photos are requires
    Flagging is something specific to Lightroom but it’s really just the process of narrowing down the keepers from the junkers, who is worthy of being in this tutorial post?
  8. Edit flagged photos
    I don’t ever post photos straight out of camera, I adjust white balance, brighten up photos, do some color correction and make them look as consistent as possible ALWAYS. I usually just use Lightroom and only rarely open the images in Photoshop.
  9. Export edited photos
    Lightroom will export photos at my desired size with my logo watermark and then sometimes I export photos without a watermark to use for Instagram and Facebook.
  10. Pinterest Pinnable Image (*optional)
    This is still a new part of my process but I’ve started creating Pinterest bait images and including them at the top and bottom of my post to look more pinnable.  I only do this for posts that I think are a good fit to be re-pinned and it’s not important to me that all my blogs be pin worthy
  11. Create necessary illustrations (*optional)
    Sometimes if I miss a photo or think something can be communicated better with an illustration I’ll make one here – this is a more common step when I’m creating a PDF pattern.
  12. Drop post in WordPress with photos
    I try to write all my copy for the tutorial before I get into WordPress but there’s always some finessing to be done when you get the images in there
  13. Proofread and edit
    I read my important posts out loud to help catch any typos, grammatical errors and inaccuracies.  It may not be perfect but I’m going to put in extra effort to make it the best I can.
  14. Catchy title
    Usually I’ve come up with this along the process but I also make sure I have the right keywords in the URL
  15. Categories & Tags
    Check the right boxes so it’s easier to find on my site for new visitors
  16. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
    I have an SEO plugin and I make sure all my fields are filled in for it
  17. Proofread
    Yup, one more proofread of the post in the preview mode in WordPress for any last-minute clean up
  18. Featured image
    Usually this is the pinnable image mentioned above but a featured image is important for my theme making this an essential step even if I don’t have a special featured pin image
  19. Schedule the post
    I can’t remember the last time I clicked Publish; I always write my posts hours if not days before they publish so I can keep my blog updating at a consistent cadence.
  20. Schedule post on Facebook
    I set this to post a bit later in the day than the post goes live. This is an important automation step for me because Facebook is blocked at work.
  21. Schedule post on Instagram
    Similar to Facebook I will schedule out Instagram posts sometimes up to a week in advance using Latergram.

Oh that’s all? *rolls eyes* Now that I’ve itemized my steps I know why these posts take me SOOOO long to write.

But I love the art of making things and the joy of sharing it with other people. So I ask you these 2 questions:

  • If you write tutorials or patterns how does this differ from your process?
  • Is one part of the process harder for you and have you ever thought about ways to make it easier?

Linking up with…

New Blogger Series

Business Cards for Quilt Blogging

Earlier this week I decided to sign up for classes at the Original Sewing Expo as it’s coming to Worcester MA next month, about 20 minute drive from home. I have never taken any quilting or sewing classes in real life so instead of picking classes that are brand new skills to learn I decide to take advanced beginner type classes to learn new techniques and tips for my piecing, machine quilting and binding.

One thing I learned from past encounters with crafty strangers (guild meeting, conference, chat in the aisle of my LQS) is that I want to connect with these new acquaintances online after we meet. The best way to do that is to take an idea out from my college marketing and networking classes: I ordered business cards.

Image courtesy of Vistaprint

I know I’m going to feel like a total doof handing them out but there’s the URLs to my quilt blog and QuiltAlong.net right on it and these are projects I am proud to share with other people. There’s no good reason to not hand out a little 3.5″ x 2″ paper invitation to my little space on the Internet to other like-minded crafters. Plus it’s absurd for me to expect them to remember my URLs after a conversation, isn’t it?

I don’t have a picture but I also opted for the 2 sided cards and I have the logo for both projects on the back (marketing tip: brand recognition!) I ordered mine on VistaPrint and it roughly comes out to 16¢ per card so I will be deliberate about who I hand them out to but not so frugal that they sit in my sewing room never to see the light of day!

Do you have business cards?

Do you have business cards to hand out for your quilt blog? Even if it’s not a business (per-say) do you think you would benefit by connecting with people at your LQS, retreats, conferences, classes and guild meetings?

Bird Watching, Blog Hopping

Recently I moved from the city to a much more rural area. It wasn’t the glorious city life of TV shows but it’s very different here: not having a grocery store, gas station or highway closer than a 10 minute walk.

That being said I really love having a back yard now and even though it’s full of melting snow it’s lovely to sit and watch the birds. The boyfriend knows lots about birds and it’s been fascinating watching and learning about them.

Here’s pictures I’ve taken of the ones we’ve spotted back there!

Birds in my Backyard

That’s what made the bird tree blog hop seem so timely for me! When I saw the panel of birds in Tracy Lizotte‘s collection for Elizabeth’s Studio I knew these were panels I could work with.

Tree Bird Fabric by Tracy Lizotte

But what to make? Well, after some brainstorming I ended up deciding to make (*drum roll please*) blocks!

Crafting Trial and Error - Tree Bird Blocks

Totally random, I know, but I wanted to make something new and challenge myself with a different set of skills than I usually use. Not to mention a little inspired by the 6 weeks of softies posts over at Sew Mama Sew and the perfect size of these panels for this project.

This is not the first time I’ve made a fabric block but I got to do my favorite thing while making these blocks: I failed.

Tree bird Pillow Block

My take on failure:

Failure is one of the most important parts of the creative process; it happens when you take risks. And if you learn something from it then it’s not a failure; it’s a learning experience!

So this failure block, how was it a failure? It didn’t hold it’s shape very well so even though I used interfacing the stuffing (standard polyfill) wasn’t the right material to use. This fluffy squarish pillow wasn’t my vision; I really wanted crisp edges on this block. So after the sample block I did some Googling and found this amazing tutorial on using foam to create fabric blocks at hello, wonderful.

Tree Bird Block Fail

Bingo; that’s what I was looking for. Crisp edges curtsey of craft foam, and measuring. Blame it on not researching enough or chalk it up to trial an error. Doesn’t matter cause the process got me to my goal!

Tree Bird Block

I just love how they came out.  I’m going to definitely develop this idea a bit further and post a tutorial once I work out all the kinks.  I was hoping to have it for this hop but I lost a bit of material in the experimental phase (see also trash can). Follow me on Bloglovin to keep an eye out for that tutorial!

Tree Bird Soft  Fabric Block

Gosh I just love how those cute gold finches look on the tree house almost as much as I like how they look on the bird feeder outside my sewing room window. I’m told they’ll be much brighter come spring (right around the time we have to take the feeders down cause of bears!)

Goldfinch in my Backyard

Don’t forget to visit all the other bird tree blog hoppers today & thanks to Lana & Samm for organizing this hop!

Linking up with…

Sew Cute Tuesday

Value of Moda Precuts #TBT

I’m not usually one for throwback Thursdays but while I was settling into the new sewing room I had a great idea for a lovely photo I wanted to take. Then I realized that posting it up would be a great way to talk about the value of pre-cuts again.

Precut Value - If you've ever wondered what the value of the precut bundles are, here's the math!

When I first got into quilting I was drawn to pre-cuts cause of the ease of use. I also found I had a hard time bringing fabric together so these packaged collections made making something beautiful easier with an expert’s help. But were these sometimes expensive pre-cuts a good value? I did the math and I found out pre-cuts are more expensive than yardage but with the exception of mini-charm packs (square) most of the bundles are still a good value if you enjoy having the wider variety.

My conclusions were:

  • Yardage is the cheapest by far!
  • Layer cake, charm packs and jelly rolls are comparable in value
  • Mini charm packs are low value (I’d only buy as a novelty or for a specific mini project)
  • Fat quarter bundle is the best value for variety
  • While there is a difference – when it comes down to it there’s not an enormous value difference comparing a designer bundle to the designer yardage (considering the variety)

I went into greater detail including the math I did to come to this conclusion, you can check it out int he archives: Pricing, Value and Comparisons on Pre-Cut Bundles

It’s funny the one table of data I didn’t do for that post was per yard (which is way easier to conceptualize) so we had a better baseline to compare. Here’s that data:

Cost/Value per Cut Yard (36″x44″)

Ingredient Height Width Quantity Cost Cost per yard
(36″ x 44″)
Mini Charms 2.5 2.5 42 $4.50 $27.15
Charm Pack 5 5 42 $10.00 $15.09
Layer Cake 10 10 42 $39.00 $14.71
Jelly Roll 2.5 42 42 $39.00 $14.01
Desert Roll 5 42 20 $39.00 $14.71
Fat Quarter (individual) 18 22 1 $3.75 $15.00
Fat Eighth Bundle 9 22 40 $72.00 $14.40
Fat Quarter Bundle 18 22 40 $124.99 $12.50
Yardage 36 44 1 $10.75 $10.75
Formula for cost per cut yard (36″ x 44″) measured in inches:

Bundle Cost/(Quantity Per Pack * Height * Width) * (36 x 44)

Does knowing the different values change the way you will think about your next purchase? I know I’ll still buy pre-cuts occasionally but may start to consider quilts that use only yardage from time to time when I’m trying to save some pennies.

Linking up with…

Tips and Tutorial Tuesday

Lee Heinrich Trunk Show & Meeting Other Quilt Bloggers

This past weekend I attended Lee Heinrich’s trunk show up in Amherst NH. I really adore Lee of Freshly Pieced‘s beautiful work and I’d just recently listened to her interview with Tsoniki on the Me Being Crafty podcast so I was very excited when I heard about the show.

I had gotten an email from my MQG that she was coming to the area and speaking to the Seacoast MQG but that meeting was about an hour away. When I got a follow up email that there’d be a round 2 at the New Hampshire MQG and asked Michelle of From Bolt to Beauty and Chelsea of Patch the Giraffe if they were going. They were so sweet in encouraging me to meet up with them so I put on my extrovert pants and went and met REAL LIFE QUILT BLOGGERS. It’s an odd experience to meet Internet friends in real life but I’m so glad I went. I also got to meet Jen from Never Just Jennifer while I was there too and chatted with Lee about QuiltAlong.net (when you’re the developer and marketer you gotta talk about your projects to everyone!)

Lee Heinrich and I (fangirl moment)

I had a total fangirl moment with Lee BTW!

It was neat to hear Lee talk about her quilts, when she spoke about them there were a bunch of wonderful little details she called out about the design which is so different in person as compared to reading blogs all day!

Diamond Tread

With Diamond Tread, Lee called out her fondness for using a single only a couple rows wide but from edge to edge.  This gives it great negative space, especially when offset from the center.  I love the asymmetry and the way her graphic design background really shows in this piece.  She was also careful to note that with this much negative space you must consider how to quilt a piece a bit more than with a busier top.

Modern Mirage

With Modern Mirage she did a similar technique as above but with this one she used the lighter colors to fade out the sides. The blocks blend so nicely to the background this way!

Stardust Quilt

This quilt from the book Vintage Quilt Revival, which she co-authored, is made up of two blocks the fit just perfectly together to extend the star tips. I love the idea of two blocks that are designed to sit next to each other and extend a design so intentionally.

Dancing Squares Quilt

I had a total a-ha moment when she said this this quilt, Dancing Squares (another Vintage Quilt Revival quilt) is actually made up of only one block. What looks like negative space is actually because the block is inverted in those spots.  She is so talented when it comes to deliberate use of color and shape!

Chicopee Squares

With her quilt Chicopee Square she highlighted that staggering or offsetting a row creates a very different look than blocks in even rows, plus the half blocks on the edge make the design feel like it could go on forever.

Fire Whirl Quilt

With Fire Wheel, a quilt she made for her book Scraps, Inc.Vol.1 Lee talked about how just omitting a single color (red in this case) gave the quilt a rainbow colorful look without being too rainbow-ey.  It’s such simple solution!

It was such a great experience to meet other quilt bloggers in real life and to hear Lee talk about her work. She brought and talked about a number of her other beautiful pieces as well.  I think quilting is an art, very much like more common studio arts and hearing an artist talking about their work is always a wonderful experience. It would’ve been impossible to walk away from my Saturday uninspired!

You can pick up both of Lee’s books on Amazon (affiliate links). I know my copy of Vintage Quilt Revival should be on it’s way!