christmas placemats

Hi Everyone! Happy Christmas in July! Today’s the last stop on the Sew Lux Fabric Christmas in July blog hop, and I’m so excited to share my tutorial for super cute, fun and fast Flying Geese Christmas Placemats.

I was lucky enough to receive Kate Spain’s newest Christmas collection, Solstice. Chrissy at Sew Lux pulled together two bundles, one with light fabrics, and one with brights, so of course knowing me so well, Chrissy sent along the brights.  I was all over the place in thinking about what type of project to make, but in the end, inspiration struck and I’m excited to share these fun Christmas placemats with you! Let’s get started with the tutorial!

Flying Geese Christmas Placemats Tutorial

kate spain solstice fabric bundle

Supplies

Tutorial and supplies provided yields 4 christmas placemats.

8 FQs – Bundle Shown is the Kate Spain Solstice Holiday Brights at Sew Lux Fabric

1/2 yd of Solstice Snow on Snow Print (Fun fact about me – I’m a sucker for a white snowflake on cream print. I *may* be hoarding yardage from all of Kate Spain’s Christmas lines…just maybe)

4 pieces of batting approximately 16″ x 19.5″

8, 2.25″ x WOF strips of binding

Scraps of brown fabric for tree trunks

Cutting Instructions

Divide your bundle into two sets of 4 FQs. One set of 4 FQs will be the backings of your placemat, the other 4 will become the main fabrics in the fronts.  Once you have done that, follow cutting instructions as follows:

From 4 backing FQs:
Cut 4 pieces 16″ x 19.5″

From the half yard of white snowflakes on snow (geese sky and trunk background pieces):
Cut 32, 2.5″ x 2.5″ squares
Cut 24, 3.5″ x 3.5″ squares
Cut 8, 2″ x 2.5″

From the remaining 4 FQs:
Cut 12, 2.5″ x 4.5″ (small geese)
Cut 16, 3.5″ x 6.5″ (large geese and background)
Cut 4, 1.5″ x 4.5″
Cut 4, 7.5″ x 14.5″
Cut 4, 6.5″ x 4.5″

From brown fabric/scraps:
Cut 4, 2.5″ x 2.5″ (large trunks)
Cut 4, 1.5″ x 2.5″ (small trunks)

Sewing the Placemats

christmas placemats

Gather 12, 3.5″ x 6.5″ pieces and 12, 2.5″ x 4.5″ pieces along with 24, 3.5″ squares and 24, 2.5″ squares. Mark the wrong side of the fabric to sew your flying geese blocks. I didn’t include the full instructions to sew flying geese blocks for this tutorial, but you can see my method here.  You’ll have 12 finished large geese units and 12 finished small geese units.

 

flying geese christmas tree placemat tutorial

Once your geese units are complete, you will sew them together in sets – 3 large and 3 small per placemat to create your trees.

 

christmas tree placemat tutorial

Next, you’ll sew together the trunks of the trees. For the large tree trunks, sew together 2 white 2.5″ x 2.5″ squares along with 1, 2.5″ x 2.5″ brown piece. For the small tree trunks, sew together 2 white 2″ x 2.5″ with 1, 1.5″ x 2.5″ brown piece as shown above.

 

flying geese christmas tree block

Now you’ll sew on the background fabric to create the tree strips. Sew one 3.5″ x 6.5″ piece to the top of each large tree, and sew one 6.5″ x 4.5″ piece to the top of each small tree.

 

Flying Geese Christmas Tree Placemat Tutorial

 

christmas placemats

Once those are complete, layout the top of each placemat as shown by using one 1.5″ x 14.5″ strip and one 7.5″ x 14.5″ piece for each placemat and sew all strips together.

 

Christmas Placemats Sewing Tutorial

Once the tops of all 4 placemats are sewn together, press well and flat. Baste the top of each placemat with batting and backing fabrics. Quilt as desired. I used straight line quilting because it was simple and easy using Aurifil thread in white. For binding, you’ll need 2, 2.25″ x WOF strips. I used Kona Red solid that I had in my stash.

 

christmas placemats sewing tutorial

So that’s it – you’re all finished! That was quick and easy, right? I can’t wait to see your versions!

 

Christmas In July

Complete A Holiday Project & Enter To Win

Get a head start on your holiday sewing! Make one of the 9 tutorials from the Sew Lux Fabric Christmas in July Blog hop and link up on the Sew Lux Blog here by August 4 for your chance to win amazing projects! Here’s the list of fabulous bloggers with awesome projects for you to get sewing!

Winter Wonderland – Lee of May Chappell

Be Jolly – Chrissy of Sew Lux

Folk Art Holiday – Sarah of Stitching & Bacon + Megan of Quilt Story

25th & Pine – Tessa of The Sewing Chick + Tracey of traceyjay quilts

Solstice – (Me!) Christen of Love by Hand + Stephanie of Quarter Incher

So, what are you waiting for? Get sewing! 

Christmas In July

Hi Friends! Yes, its that time again – time for Christmas in July! Its my favorite time of year when all of the new holiday fabrics arrive in fabric shops and I can start drooling over all of the awesomeness and dream of the many items I will make! Christmas is my absolute favorite holiday in which to sew items for myself and family members (and you all know about my Etsy adventures with Christmas Stockings and Tree Skirts every year too!).

This year I SWEAR that I am going to get a jump start on my holiday gift sewing, so of course I said yes when Chrissy from Sew Lux asked if I wanted to join in the festivities for Christmas in July again this year. Our hope is that you’ll join all of us to get inspiration to start and finish a few gifts well in advance of the holidays! And, I’m really excited to be sewing with Kate Spain Solstice, the holiday brights fabric bundle.

Kate Spain Solstice Fabric Bundle

Chrissy clearly knows me very well, as most of you know my love of all things bright! I’m really excited about the Kate Spain Solstice fabric, as I’ve long been a fan of her holiday fabrics and this line just screams Christmas to me! I am currently torn between two possible projects, so my project will be a secret for now until I get a more solid plan together. A quick hint is that both are Holiday decor projects that you’ll love bringing out year after year!

Christmas In July Sew Lux Fabric Bundles

But, if the brights of the Kate Spain fabric line aren’t your thing, there are so many awesome bundles to choose from! And this week you can save 10% on all featured Christmas in July Bundles at Sew Lux Fabric with coupon code NICELIST.  Offer ends 7/13/14.

So are you ready to see who else is joining in this awesome Holiday party in July and learn more about awesome prizes?!

Christmas In July with Sew Lux Tutorial Series Schedule

July 7th – Series Announcement & Bundle Sale at Sew Lux Fabric

July 14th – Solstice Wreath Mini Tutorial  - Chrissy of Sew Lux

July 21st – Sewing with Winter Wonderland – Lee of May Chappell

July 22nd – Sewing with Be Jolly – Chrissy of Sew Lux

July 23rd – Sewing the Folk Art Holiday – Sarah of Stitching & Bacon + Megan of Quilt Story

July 24th – Sewing with 25th & Pine – Tessa of The Sewing Chick + Tracey of traceyjay quilts

July 25th – Sewing with Solstice – Christen of Love by Hand + Stephanie of Quarter Incher

July 21-August 4th – Linky open to link up your projects

August 5th – Winner Announced

 

Get A Jump Start on Your Holiday Gifts and Start Sewing!

To encourage you all to also get a start on your holiday sewing, of course there are prizes!  All you have to do is make a project using one of the tutorials from the series and link it up by August 4th!  You can use a bundle or fabric from your stash – it only has to use one of our 9 tutorials from this series!

Prizes

There will be two winners chosen at random and announced on August 5th. International friends are welcome to participate – your prize will be included with your shipment upon redeeming your gift certificate.

Ok, so who else is as excited for Christmas in July as I am? Cue the Michael Buble Christmas music, because its never too early for Christmas music!!

amy butler weekender sew along 2014

 

Whew! Is it just me, or is time in overdrive?! The days are flying by for me and I am running fast just trying to keep up – let alone catch up! But, enough about me and my inability to keep track of the days – let’s get on to the important stuff…Weekender Sew Along Winners! I’m so excited about the bags that were linked up (and no, I still have not finished my bag…#fail). They look amazing and I’m so happy that we were able to inspire all of you to tackle this bag!

Before I announce the winners – let’s recap our wonderful sponsors and the prizes!!

Prizes for the Link Up

weekender sew along prize sponsors

Grand Prize Pack

$50 Gift Certificate to Sew Lux Fabric
FQ Bundle of Savannah Fabric from Dear Stella
Mini Quilt Patterns from Thimble Blossoms by Camille Roskelley

First Prize Pack

$25 Gift Certificate to Sew Lux Fabric
FQ Bundle of Haven from Monaluna 
T-shirt of Your Choosing from Patchwork Threads

Ok…drumroll please…

The Grand Prize winner is… Robyn from Robbyn’s Nest with this amazing pieced Weekender! I must say, I just LOVED watching her progress on Instagram. This bag is seriously a stunner! (photo via Robyn’s blog)

RobbynsNest_FinishedWeekender

 

And the First Prize winner is…Kathy from Kathy and Kids with her awesome bag! I just LOVE the fabric and contrasting piping! (photo via Kathy’s blog)

weekender_8

 

And, just for posterity, here are the screen grabs from random.org to select the random winners!

WeekenderWinners

 

Ok you lucky ladies, email me at christen.barber (at) gmail.com with your address so we can send along your goodies! Thanks again to everyone who sewed along and finished their bags – they look great and I’m insanely jealous of all of them!

amy butler weekender sew along 2014

Whew! How did it get to be the end of May already? Oh, right, I know – I GOT ENGAGED!!! So, I hope you’ll cut me a little bit of slack with this sew along for the weekender bag, as life definitely got in the way in a BIG way and I have spent ZERO time in the sewing room and have had even less time to blog. So, please forgive me and my tardiness in finishing and providing you all with tips along the way! In other news, my sew-to-do list is a MILE long and I’m holding up not just one but TWO medallion along groups I’m in. I’m getting more stressed even as I type this!!

So, with that said, our schedule is definitely off, but we’ve updated the link up for those of you who have worked super hard to finish your bags! I just love seeing them all! I personally hoped to finish this weekend, but its my Fiance’s birthday tomorrow, so who am I kidding, I won’t be spending very much time sewing at all.

Before we get to the link-up, let’s recap the PRIZES!!!

Prizes for the Link Up

weekender sew along prize sponsors

Grand Prize Pack

$50 Gift Certificate to Sew Lux Fabric
FQ Bundle of Savannah Fabric from Dear Stella
Mini Quilt Patterns from Thimble Blossoms by Camille Roskelley

First Prize Pack

$25 Gift Certificate to Sew Lux Fabric
FQ Bundle of Haven from Monaluna 
T-shirt of Your Choosing from Patchwork Threads

Are you ready to link up and show us those bags already?!

Link up starting today, May 30 through Friday, June 6 by 11 PM EST. We’ll choose two random winners via random number generator for the prize packs above! Can’t wait to see all of your finished bags! (And, send a little bit of extra time and fast sewing my way, so maybe I can finish by next week too!

 

 Loading InLinkz ...

amy butler weekender sew along 2014

Yay! Its Wednesday again and its time to get started with our Weekender Bags! Today, we’re going to go over cutting the pieces of our bag. Chrissy, Nicole and I decided to change up the schedule a bit, so today’s post is going to go over cutting here with me as written in the pattern, and Saturday I’ll post on making piping, handles and assembling the main outer panels. If you are doing the piecing method with Chrissy or Nicole, they will be going over piecing panels/pockets and quilting them today with assembly of the two main outer bag panels, piping and handles on Saturday.

Weekender Bag Sew Along Schedule

Wed. April 30 – Planning Your Fabrics & Materials
Wed. May 7 – Cutting & Interfacing
Sat. May 10 – Sewing the Outer Panels
Wed. May 14 – Sewing the Outer Bag Together
Wed. May 21 – Finishing the Bag & Link Up
Wed. May 28 – Winners Announced

We think it breaks things up better for everyone into smaller chunks anyway, so let’s jump right in!

Last week we gathered all of our supplies so we’re all ready to get to cutting. Since I’m following the pattern as written, I think I’ve got it a bit easier than my co-hosts Chrissy and Nicole during this step. Chrissy is piecing her pockets (which is turning out AMAZING – you can check her progress out on Instagram) and Nicole has been making up a bunch of hexies for her large pocket panels. So be sure to check out their blogs if you are going that route.

For those of us using the pattern and 2 fabrics, our hardest part is going to be interfacing! But, this week, we just have a bit of that to break up the tedium.

Weekender Pattern Pieces

First, cut out and assemble your pattern pieces. I’m sure at this point, you are wondering – well, how hard can this bag really be, it only has 3 pattern pieces?! Am I right? Well, keep thinking those positive thoughts, as I promise this bag is a piece of cake if you take your time, so that’s what we’re going to do.

Next, we’re going to start by cutting out the pattern pieces. I always start with my outer bag fabrics first, but you’ll see that my photos are with my lining fabric, as the stripes were starting to play with my eyes on the photos! LOL! So, while I’ll be using lining fabric to illustrate, the process is the same for both for the main pattern pieces.

cutting the weekender pattern pieces

Rather than follow the instructions in the pattern (as I think that actually wastes fabric, I fold over the side edge vs. the selvage edge. For this bag in particular, since I am using a directional striped fabric, I had to do this anyway. So, if your bag fabric is directional, think about placement to ensure all of your pieces are going in the right direction.  Since this home decor weight fabric is 54″ long, I can get both main panel pieces and large pocket pieces along the folded edge with room to spare. Be sure to only fold over enough to cover the main bag pattern piece width wise since you will need the fabric width for cutting out the top panels of the bag.

cutting the top panels

Next, cut out the top main panels of the bag. For the outer bag, it was a tight fit for me but it worked perfectly. The lining was no problem, as I folded the fabric selvage to selvage once again.

weekender strap cutting

While the fabric is folded selvage to selvage on the lining, I cut out the pieces for the handles. Again, I’m going to make mine a bit differently than the pattern suggests. So I cut 2 pieces 4″ x WOF (54″ in my case). The handle will finish at 1″ wide and I think will be a great length. Then, I also cut my strips for my piping (again since the fabric was already selvage to selvage). Disclaimer: I do not make bias binding for my piping. I haven’t had any trouble with it yet, and let’s be honest: ain’t nobody got time for that! So, straight cut binding it is for me selvage to selvage. Personal preferences here people, and I’m here to tell you it works fine. Is it 100% perfect and foolproof, no. But, the results are perfect-enough for me!

Next, I cut out the side pocket pieces. I’m doing something a little bit different, and I’m using my lining fabric for the side pocket panel piece. I made the decision for two reasons. First, with directional striped fabric, I wasn’t really digging the horizontal side pocket and the vertical main top panel piece look on the side. Second, I really wanted to add another bit of pop of the coral to make the bag more “me” (navy and white stripes are a very tame choice for me, so of course, I needed to personalize a bit!).

Once the bag pieces are cut, its time to cut out the woven interfacing, Pellon SF101 and the Pellon Peltex as outlined in the pattern. I make quite a few changes to the interfacing cutting here, so I’m going to outline the list of pieces I use in my bag. Now, this is a personal preference of mine, as I like a very sturdy bag and lining.

From the SF101, I require at least 1-2 additional yards than the pattern requires for the following additions:

- 2 main pieces for the bag lining
- 2 additional side pocket pieces for both the outer and lining of the pocket pieces
- 4 additional top panel pieces for the lining panels

weekender cutting the pelted

When cutting the Peltex, I follow the instructions on the pattern exactly – I know, shocker, but no changes there. Be sure to follow the instructions to get 1/2″ in from all sides of the main pocket and main panel pieces to ensure it doesn’t get into the seam allowances when sewing.

weekender pieces cut

Once you’ve cut all of your bag pieces, SF101 and Peltex – you’re all cut out! Yay! I like to group my fabrics by outer bag, lining and interfacing, as that is how I stay organized the best.

Interfacing the Outer Bag Panels and Main Pockets

Before we can call today’s work done though, we are going to go ahead and work ahead in the pattern a bit and interface the main bag panels and large pocket pieces. This was probably the trickiest part of the pattern for me when I first made the bag.

interfacing layers

Place your outer bag fabric right side down on your ironing board with the Peltex centered within the pattern piece, and place one piece of SF101 on top, with fusible side down. So, you are essentially using the SF101 to hold the Peltex in place. However, if you are like me, and you got the fusible Peltex, then simply just fuse the Peltex to the main panel piece starting from the center out to ensure its smooth without any creases.  Then, turn over, and iron on the SF101.

interfaced panels

Complete the above for both main outer bag panels and large pocket pieces. So, you’re panels should be nice and sturdy and ready for the next step on Saturday!

 

Prizes for the Link Up

We’re sew excited about all of the finished Weekender Bags that will be finished at the end of the month! And, we’re even more excited about the giveaways we have planned for two lucky winners! Starting on Wednesday, May 21 the link up will be open to share your finished weekender bag until Midnight on Tuesday, May 27. On Wednesday, May 28, we’ll announce the winners from a random drawing to win the Grand Prize or First Prize! Thanks so much to our sponsors – we’ve got some great stuff!

weekender sew along prize sponsors

Grand Prize Pack

$50 Gift Certificate to Sew Lux Fabric
FQ Bundle of Savannah Fabric from Dear Stella
Mini Quilt Patterns from Thimble Blossoms by Camille Roskelley

First Prize Pack

$25 Gift Certificate to Sew Lux Fabric
FQ Bundle of Haven from Monaluna 
T-shirt of Your Choosing from Patchwork Threads

Man, I wish I could win! I’ll see you back here on Saturday with tales of piping and outside panel piece sewing. Until then, happy cutting! And, don’t forget to email me if you have any questions or run into any issues.

amy butler weekender sew along 2014

Its Wednesday, so that can only mean one thing – its the start of the Weekender Sew Along! Yay! I’m so excited and so happy that so many of you are excited to get on board too! I promise you can do it – and Chrissy, Nicole and I will be here for support along the way!

Ok, so let’s get started. I’m going to be making the bag as written in the pattern using Home Decor weight fabric and the peltex interfacing. I have a couple of modifications to share with you that can help make the process a bit easier and let you know that if you do things a certain (and most likely EASIER way) it will still turn out OK in the end! If you are interested in a pieced patchwork style bag, head on over to Chrissy at Sew Lux today as she’s given the run down of her supplies as she makes her bag. Nicole at Modern Handcraft is going to be doing hexies on her bag, so check out her supplies list too.

Choosing Fabrics

I don’t know about you, but I ALWAYS start with my fabric when making a bag. This is a REALLY tough process for me because I personally LOVE ALL OF THE FABRIC! Personally, I have found that Hawthorne Threads has the best selection of designer home decor weight fabrics and they usually ship same day! And, in the past when I’ve been on a deadline, I’ve just sent an email to Lindsay to ensure my order ships the same day and I have always received a quick and courteous response. So, if you are joining me with this version of the bag, I’d start there for lots of great inspiration.

weekender sew along supplies
After days of debate, I finally settled on this amazing thin navy and white stripe and solid coral from the Bekko fabric line by designer Trenna Travis for Michael Miller. I’m totally hooked on navy and coral right now, and it seems like the perfect combination for a summer bag and my dreams of making it to the beach more than once! Of course, you’ll need to go ahead and order the pattern. Sew Lux has more patterns arriving on Friday to ship, and its on sale for $11 through the end of the day today! So go ahead and order so you can get to sewing!

 

Supplies & Materials Needed

weekender bag supplies
- 1 5/8 yds home decor weight fabric for bag exterior – I’ll be using the thin navy stripe
- 2 yds home decor weight fabric for bag lining, piping and straps – I’ll be using the solid coral
- 4 yds* Pellon SF101 woven fusible interfacing.
*Note – The pattern calls for 3 but I’ve run out on both bags, so I bought 4 yds this time to be safe. And, I think I’m going to be adding extra to the zipper pieces on the exterior for extra weight.
- 2 yds of Peltex #70 by Pellon – I buy the fusible for extra stability
- 5 yards of 6/32″ cotton cording
- 24″ metal zipper*
*Note – When I was making my first bag, I found a tip to use a shorter zipper than the one called for and its worked well for me on both bags. Plus, 24″ comes in great coordinating colors and readily available at my local Joanns.

Beyond the materials and supplies that the pattern calls for, you’ll also want to be sure that you have the following on hand.

- Appropriate sewing machine feet including your walking foot, zipper foot and piping foot if your machine has one. I personally don’t have one for my machine, and I was able to successfully make my own piping multiple times – it really does come together very easily.
- Clover wonder clips – seriously, buy them already. I promise you absolutely NEED them for this bag. My first Weekender I tried to make do with pins and it was a nightmare – all of my pins bent. My second bag, I had my clips and it was a MUCH better experience.
- Marking Pen
- Seam Ripper – become one with your seam ripper for this bag, as you will become best friends and it will all be ok! Promise!
- Jeans Needles – make sure you have at least 3 just in case
- Coordinating Thread

My Planned Modifications

Here’s a quick list of modifications I’ll be making. These don’t change how the pattern is written or followed if you choose not to make the same changes I’m planning. However, I did want to give you a heads up for your planning.

- Lengthen the bag straps
- 24″ metal zipper
- Adding an additional layer of SF101
- Alternate way to insert the lining because ain’t nobody got time for hand stitching!

A Few Words of Advice & Encouragement Before We Get Started

And finally, once you get your pattern, take the time to read it completely from start to finish so you can start to get familiar before you jump right in – as this bag isn’t really a bag you just decide to make on a whim with a simple “Hey, I think I’ll make a weekender today!” In fact, take the time to be thoughtful with your planning and take your time with each of the steps. This bag is totally doable – I promise and taking your time is only going to ensure you have a bag you not only love at the end but are damn proud of!

And finally, I’m here to help. So, just email me with your questions – we’ll get through this together (just picture me smiling and giving LOTS of encouragement from afar)! Oh, and don’t forget to share your progress with us on Instagram with the hashtag #WSA2014 – can’t wait to see all of the bags start to come together and the fabrics everyone chooses!

oh happy day fabric picnic quilt
Hi Friends! I’m so excited to share my latest tutorial – a picnic quilt in the gorgeous Oh Happy Day! fabric from Dear Stella. As soon as I saw a sneak peek of the fabric on Instagram, I just KNEW I had to make something – anything! – with this fabric. It has ALL of the things I love in a fabric – big, bold florals, large-scale prints and an amazingly awesome multi-colored stripe! Is it not just oh-so-swoonworthy?!

oh happy day picnic quilt

And seriously, is it just me, or is striped binding perhaps the best.thing.since.sliced.bread?! I just LOVE it! So, head on over to the Dear Stella blog for the full tutorial to make your own! But wait, before you go, there’s more!

Oh Happy Day! Fabric FQ Bundle Giveaway

oh happy day fabric

The wonderfully generous and amazing folks at Dear Stella have offered to giveaway a FQ bundle of the entire Oh Happy Day! fabric collection to one lucky reader! Three cheers for free fabric!! Yay! So, just leave a comment with your favorite print from the line. I’ll choose a winner on Sunday via random number generator. Good luck!

amy butler weekender sew along 2014

OMG guys I’m so excited to announce a new sew along today – the Weekender Sew Along of 2014! So get your big girl sewing scissors out and get ready to tackle the sewists right of passage as we’re going to be making Amy Butler’s Weekender Bag just in time for summer pool days, beach days and weekend getaways.

 

love by hand weekender sew along

You are indeed seeing double! Weekender in Joel Dewberry’s Notting Hill Home Dec Sateen fabrics. On left for my dear friend Xandi and mine on the right!

This will be my THIRD Weekender Bag, so you can imagine that I’ve learned a thing or two with the other two I’ve made. Personally, I think this bag and pattern gets a bad rep – I LOVED making the bag and absolutely LOVED the finished product. So, I wanted to make the pattern accessible to those of you who have yet to try it to let you know that you CAN do it – plus, I’ll be here to help and answer questions along the way!

And, I have two fabulous ladies joining me in the fun to bring you a super fun 4 weeks of sewing one very rewarding bag! Nicole from Modern Handcraft will be making a quilt-as-you-go style bag with patchwork hexies and Chrissy from Sew Lux Fabric will be making another amazing patchwork version – be sure to check her first weekender finish out. All I have to say is mini swoon, and man is it swoon worthy! I’ll be following the pattern as written (ok with a few adjustments) with some AMAZINGLY awesome summer-inspired home decor fabrics.

Weekender Sew Along Schedule

We’ll start next week with fabric selections and planning for the different versions and finish in time to bring your brand new Weekender with you to the pool, beach or just your backyard by Memorial Day!

Wed. April 30 – Planning Your Fabrics & Materials
Wed. May 7 – Cutting, Interfacing, Making the Panels
Wed. May 14 – Sewing the Outer Bag Together
Wed. May 21 – Finishing the Bag & Link Up
Wed. May 28 – Winners Announced 

Sponsors and Prizes

SewLux-NewLogo-150button

And, of course there will be prizes to award you for all of your hard work! We’ll have a link up at the end for finished bags and randomly select a few winners. I’m so excited that Sew Lux Fabric will be the presenting sponsor and providing a couple of gift certificates you won’t want to miss out on!

amy butler weekender pattern

And, the Weekender bag pattern is in stock right now and available for 15% off through April 30 – no coupon code needed and it will arrive in time to join in the sew along! So go ahead and get your pattern here!

We’ll also have other great prizes from Dear Stella, Monaluna and Patchwork Threads plus a few more! We’ll have more details on prizes and how to win in next week’s post.

So, are you in or what?!

As you can see, we’ve thought of everything! There is something for everyone with lots of options for your Weekender. Because this bag is far too involved (noticed I didn’t say difficult!!!) to make something you don’t absolutely LOVE!  Don’t forget to sew along with us on Instagram using the hashtag #WSA2014! You can find me @lovebyhand and Nicole @Modernhandcraft and Chrissy @SewLux. We hope you’ll join us! Can’t wait to see all of your bags start to pop up!!

sew biz love by hand

Welcome to the first installment of “Sew Biz!” I’m super excited about a new content direction I plan bringing to Love By Hand on a weekly basis to share business and marketing advice for those of you with a sewing related business – bloggers, pattern and fabric designers, makers, fabric shop owners – everyone really! After my class on blogging and social media at Sew South this year, I had such a great and overwhelming response to share more. So, I’m sharing! For those of you who are new or maybe don’t know much about me – I’m a digital marketing professional in my day-job and have been in marketing, public relations and advertising for the past 10 years. So, I thought combining my day job and my passion for online marketing along with my love of sewing and fabric would be a perfect match. And, if I help someone in the process – even better. Thanks for stopping by, and I hope you enjoy this week’s post on why blogging is here to stay!


importance of blogging: you can't pin an instagram photo

The Importance of Blogging: You Can’t Pin an Instagram Photo

If you are like me and spend lots of time on social media (ok, I realize that not many of you will be exactly like me since my day job pays me to be online all day long, but you know, if you are around and keeping up with general goings on), then you’ve probably seen a few posts in which sewing bloggers are asking the question “Is anyone out there reading blogs anymore?”

Sure, it’s a valid question, as there has been a recent shift online to social media platforms like Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook because well, its easier. It doesn’t take as much time to find projects I love on Pinterest as it does when going through my feed on Bloglovin. Am I right? And for bloggers, it’s a heck of a lot easier to post a photo on instagram than to write a full blog post, take photos, format and edit said photos, etc. etc. etc.

However, to all you sewing bloggers out there, as much as I would LOVE to tell you that its OK to give up your blogs and move 100% to social media, I just can’t do it. Sure, the landscape has changed over the past couple of years and you might not be getting as many comments as you used to and the market is definitely more crowded, but without a blog, your online brand will slowly disappear. Here are 3 marketing-driven reasons why blogging is important to your online brand.

1. The Power Of Search

Bloggers are at the core content creators aka content marketers, right? All of the tutorials, product reviews, and projects completed are all “content.” And, when put on a blog, are available to be searched via search engines. If you are going to invest time in blogging, you must take the time to optimize each post for relevant search terms. I have an entire 3-part series planned on SEO for blogging that will totally change the way you blog for the better to gain more traffic.

2. Building Your Business Over Time

As any great blogger will tell you, it takes time and effort to build a following and increase site traffic. Part of building your blog is to hopefully get paid for those efforts in some way either through blog sponsors who are interested in selling their products to your site visitors or through selling patterns, books, finished products or fabrics you create. Your blog or website is where you can create in-depth content that visitors can get to know you better and learn to trust you. And while most blog followers are not checking in to read every post as soon as you hit publish, many are seeing your updates on various social media platforms and remembering the last experience they had with you and choosing to return or not based on that experience.

3. Social Media Is Always Changing, Blogging Stays Constant

I’m sure many bloggers have noticed the huge changes Facebook has made recently in which they have publically declared that pages will only be able to reach on average 1% of their followers organically ie. without paying to reach them. Social media marketing changes day-to-day, and what you are doing today to gain blog visits or followers might not work tomorrow. So, its best to think more long-term about the type of content you are sharing to attract readers to your blog.

blogging and social media ecosphere

Given how quickly social media changes, its best to think about your online marketing like the above graphic – your blog is at the center creating the content that can be shared across the various social media platforms that make sense to reach your potential audience of buyers or readers.

And here’s why blogging is still important in its simplest form – you can’t Pin an Instagram photo. Social media platforms are meant to engage with followers and readers to create a community around similar interests, etc. and ultimately, drive site traffic to your blog. Instagram doesn’t allow live links within posts, nor does it allow users to pin the content on Pinterest for inspiration or use at a later date. However, your blog can do all of those things when used properly with social media platforms, as social media platforms are meant to drive traffic back to your blog where the important content lives.

I hope you found this post informative and helpful. Let me know in the comments any other topics or questions you have around blogging or social media, and I’ll be sure to answer or write a future post!

Hi Friends! Whew! Its taken me over a week week to catch up since I got back Sew South in beautiful Charlotte, North Carolina! (And that long to catch up on my sleep too!!) But, it was, in one word – AMAZING!

There is always SO much to say about my time spent at Sew South, so I thought I would share the Top 10 reasons to love Sew South, now that I’m back from my second trip. Because, well, you might want to go next year. Which is ok, as long as I get my ticket first!

sew south photo booth

#1: Time Spent With Friends

Seriously, the.best.part.hands.down. I had the best time with my dear friend and roomie Tessa! Seriously, it was like we were at the most fun sleepover ever the entire weekend. Not one night did we go to sleep before 2 AM! And, it was so great to see so many friends from last year and spend time catching up while sharing our love of sewing. Its priceless really.

sew south secret sisters

#2: Secret Sister Swap

This year, I was SPOILED ROTTEN by Nicole – her gifts to me were so thoughtful and just so ME, my heart was warmed so many times over the weekend.

secret sister swap gifts

And, I think its even MORE fun to make things and give to your secret sister. This year, Cindy was my secret sister, and let’s just say that one of the funniest moments of the weekend was on the second morning I was less than awake while packaging up her morning gifts, and actually SIGNED my name to the card. So much for a “secret” right?! And the funniest part is – I had NO IDEA that I signed my name. So about an hour later, when she asked me if I was her secret sister, I LIED to her and of course said “No! What would make you think that?!” To which she quickly replied, “Well, you signed your name to the card!” Note to self – do not try to do something secret before 9 AM! Oh well, I hope I made up for giving up the secret with the rest of my gifts over the weekend!

CheesecakeForDinner

#3:  Cheesecake For Dinner

All of the dinners at Sew South are on your own, and one night, Tessa had a FABULOUS idea – Cheesecake for dinner! So, we headed over to the Cheesecake Factory with Marcia and proceeded to enjoy the most amazing Cheesecake EVER for dinner. It was perfect. And delicious. Did I mention, delicious?!

 

#4: Meeting New Friends

On the last day when everyone was taking photos, I was so overly tired and just so consumed with saying my goodbyes, I completely forgot to get photos with LOTS of my new friends. Even with so many repeat faces and friends to catch up with from last year, it was so wonderful to meet and connect with so many new friends. Hi Asha, Marcia, Lisa, Tracy, Shirley, Nancy, Nicole, Laurel!!! Let’s all sew together again soon, ok?

finished sew south projects

#5: Finishing A Few Sewing Projects

Ok, let’s all be honest for a minute – sewing retreats are not actually about sewing. I know, crazy right?! But, I did actually get a few finishes in on Saturday including my boxy pouch taught by Kelly from Kelby Sews and my Scrap Bucket Basket taught by Heather from The Sewing Loft. And, I also finished a fold over clutch too. It matched my outfit, so I had to get a photo!

 

sew south sponsor

#6: The Swag

Seriously, the sponsors for Sew South really step up to the plate and provide the most amazing swag and gifts throughout the weekend! I of course don’t have a photo of it as I have yet to unpack the SUPER LARGE BAG, but you can enter to win your own swag bag from Jennifer at Ellison Lane this week. Thank you so much to all of the sponsors including Coats and Clark, Rowan Fabrics, Free Spirit Fabrics, Joanns, Pellon, Dear Stella, Michael Miller, Oliso, Stash Books, Aurifil, Robert Kaufman, Lark Crafts, Dritz, Schmetz and Aurifil.

 

#7: Making Time For You

One of the biggest reasons I heard from friends at Sew South was that “they needed a break” – no matter if it was from work, family, kids, etc. And really, don’t we all need time for ourselves to focus on us and the things that make us happy. I spent 5 glorious days with my dear friends and only had to worry about myself. It may sound selfish, but for those 5 days, being selfish was priority #1 and it felt REALLY good. Taking time away to focus on you can be so renewing for all other aspects of life. And, I was totally surprised to come home and realize I hardly took ANY pictures and didn’t spend time checking email while I was gone. Seriously, the best!

 

blogging and social media sew south

Teaching my class on blogging and social media. Photo courtesy of Jennifer at Ellison Lane.

#8: Meaningful Connections

Whether you are in search of new friends who “get” you and your need for more fabric or you want to connect with online sewing friends in real life, Sew South has it all and more. And, if you are looking to make sewing related business contacts, they are there in abundance too. I can’t even begin to tell you of the friendships I’ve made that I know will be everlasting for many many years to come that not only get my need for more fabric but encourage it ;) Sew South has also been a great spring-board for opportunities that I know I wouldn’t have had as easily otherwise.

And, this year I was able to connect my  my day job in online marketing to my passion of sewing by teaching a class on blogging and social media. It was truly amazing and such a supportive and attentive group! And, what’s more is the sheer wealth of knowledge in attendance is astounding – from women who have written sewing books, designed fabric, written and sold patterns – if you have an idea or want to turn your sewing into a business, someone there has already done it and is happy to share their story!

 

#9: Getting Out of Your Comfort Zone

This could be applicable to so many things during Sew South! Everything from getting out of your comfort zone to meet new people and share a bit about yourself to perfect strangers (although, I will vouch for the fact that not once did anyone at Sew South that felt like a stranger!) to trying a new technique. One of our classes this year was improv sewing taught by Katie of From the Blue Chair – a new technique for me! Do check out Katie’s blog if you haven’t seen her improv work, be sure to check it out! Seriously, some truly amazing stuff!

#10: An Abundance of Inspiration

Katie’s presentation was so inspiring to me! She started with the above Ted Talk video, and something about “embracing the limitations of the box” spoke to me in a new way. And, Alison Glass was absolutely amazing and awe inspiring as she told her personal story. As was my new friend Asha, as she shared the story of her family with me late one night during open sew. Same with Tracy as she shared her goals and aspirations over dinner.

There were countless moments throughout the entire weekend that truly inspired me in a new way, and I’m pretty sure I wasn’t the only one. Last year, I was just so thankful and happy to have finally found “my people” – friends who understood me and got this thing we do called sewing. But this year, this year was even more special in so many ways. This year, I walked away with a new sense of purpose and clear thinking. Calm and relaxed but also energized and buzzing with ideas.

I’m excited and looking forward to the next Sew South and the new experiences and friendships it will bring – hope you are too!