Monday, August 13, 2018

and we have a winner...

Hey, guys, thanks for partying with me like it's 2008 by leaving comments on my 10th blogiversary old school giveaway! I read each and every comment and really enjoyed getting a glimpse into your past and present thoughts and lives. One overarching theme appeared as I read through: change.

Ten years has brought change to all of our lives. Some change was welcomed with joy: new career paths, new marriages, new sweet babies, new homes, new locales. Some changes you shared were heartbreakers of loss, adversity, sickness and sorrow. I just wanted to hug some of you! Another word occurred to me as I read your stories: hindsight. So many of you looked back on difficult or painful times and could now see clearly how those things were necessary or even made beautiful with the passing time.

What's clear to me, as I gain more gray hair by the minute, is that all change in our lives challenges us to grow. Looking back over the ten year span I think we can all of us see how change has made us stronger, and the new strength is an inseparable part of who we are. Thanks for helping me to reflect more deeply on the time that has passed and how to redeem whatever time my Creator may grant me in the future. I pray God blesses you all, and that the next ten years bring you peace and joy!


Comments on the anniversary post are officially closed and the randomly generated winner is:

kkbroc, aka Kristie!

Her comment:
Ten years ago I found your Molly Monkey free pattern to make for my daughter's 6th birthday. I now have 6 children and can give you an amen as I too have been homeschooling all these years. I love your ornaments and would love to win this!!!

Congratulations, Kristie! Six children are such a blessing! *High fives* to a fellow homeschooler and extra props for your large student body. I hope you enjoy the sewing patterns that you choose! Thanks for providing your email address. Look for me in your inbox!

Thank you to everyone who helped me make this 10th birthday a proper occasion! (Did you miss the Etsy sale? No worries, my Black Friday/Cyber Monday sale will still be happening in November!)

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

mmmcrafts is 10 years old! let's celebrate!


The comments on this post are closed! Thanks for participating in the giveaway! The winner is posted here.

In 2008 I haphazardly started a craft blog and a pattern business (like you do, you know) and now whammo -- it's suddenly 10 years later. I kept reminding myself last year that this landmark was coming, and then I got too busy and tabled thinking about it for later. Later later. My actual blog birthday slipped by me five months ago on March 29th (here's a throwback to my very first blog post for ya), and then my Etsy shop was born later that year in November, so my Etsyversary is still to come in a couple months. I'll think of this commemorative post as splitting the difference.

2007: Me and my girlies a few months before blogging ever occurred to me. Ah, my brown hair.

2008: Early blog post demonstrating how not to photograph your kids.

2018: Same photographic problem. No more brown hair. This picture was taken on our recent trip to see my BFF, Robyn. If you've been around for a while, you'll know my friendship with her is also a long-running theme of this blog.

My two girls were six and four years old when I started all this, and I was just getting into homeschooling. Even though I had plenty on my plate (can I get an amen, homeschoolers?), I found that crafting, blogging and pattern designing gave me a much-needed adult creative outlet. I had to carve out time to do it though, mostly stolen moments during the day and lots of late nights. My kids will tell you it was more like this.

I came up with my mmmcrafts logo and header in 2008 and it really hasn't changed a whole lot. In the beginning there was one less coffee cup. Somehow I've lost the original 2 coffee cup version, but this is close:


I did update my logo font in 2013 to what you see now. You could say all that sameness is boring or lazy. You could also say I'm Consistently Building My Brand. Haha. I like that. "Building my brand" sounds completely purposeful.

*In voice of Edna Mode* I do vary the colors and throw in the occasional holiday peppermint or cinnamon stick, darling, because I like to push design boundaries. Why the coffee cups, you ask? Because I like coffee.


Besides yammering on about sewing, felt crafting, paper crafting and my procrastination problems achievements, I use it as a travel journal, confessional, resource list and catalogue of handmade gifts. If you like to make handmade gifts, you know it is hard to remember what you've made and for whom and in what color. As I've said many times, I think I'm my own most loyal reader. I'm constantly referring to my own posts.

Even though initially a creative diary mostly for my own reference, this blog has grown into a handy resource center for my tutorials and patterns. Even though I don't post very often, rest assured that mmmcrafts.blogspot.com is here to stay.

Happy tenth birthday to my Etsy shop too. I'm considered an old-timer there, you know. The Etsy marketplace was pretty robust when I joined in 2008 and now it's completely crazy how many Etsy shops there are. I miss the mom n' pop feel of the old Etsy community, but I love how the go-getters at Etsy constantly innovate to serve the massive marketplace and keep the experience as manageable as possible for me.

2008: My first pattern for sale, Katy Kitty, and...

...2018: my latest patterns for sale, the Twelve Days Ornament Series.

Inspired by the new millenium wave of indie rag doll design and my daughter's request for a red girl kitty for her birthday, my Etsy shop opened with a grand total of one digital pattern for sale (Katy Kitty, shown above). Katy was a variation on my popular free pattern, Molly Monkey. I sold 18 Katy Kitty patterns before the end of the year, for which I was completely astonished and gratified. I immediately spent any profits and then some) on craft supplies and fabric. 


Ten years later my Etsy shop has 40 patterns and over 19,000 sales. I'm still astounded by its success. I do so really love to design and write patterns and I'm hugely gratified that you guys actually enjoy using them! (At some point a few years ago I also opened a Craftsy pattern store to put another option out there. It functions exclusively with Paypal payments.)

We are still homeschooling, and now my used-to-be-tiny girls are 14 and 16. High school is hard, y'all. Our program is rigorous, and creative time is much harder to find now. I blog rarely and am a sporadic Instagrammer at best. Patterns have to happen in the chinks between.

GIVEAWAY ALERT.
Let's celebrate, old school! Do you remember the once ubiquitous blog giveaways? They've fallen out of fashion. But. Let's do it up 2008 style! *Viva la Vida blares suddenly in background* No one likes to log in and comment on blog posts these days, so I'm thinking if you are somehow still reading this, your odds will be pretty good! Here's the prize:


Any-thang you want from my Etsy shop, up to $75. Which incidentally covers the cost of the complete Twelve Days Bundle, so if you've been waiting for a sale it doesn't get much better than free. Already got the complete series? No worries. Pick any combination of patterns you like, as long as it doesn't go over $75.

HOW TO ENTER:
Leave one comment on this post with what you were doing ten years ago, and include an email address so I can contact you if you win. That's it.
I'll be choosing the winner randomly on AUGUST 12th.

ANNIVERSARY SALE ALERT.
Not into giveaways? Use the code MMMHAPPY10TH and get 20% off your purchase in my Etsy shop only from now through AUGUST 12th.

Thanks for helping me celebrate, you guys!

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Hey, Larissa, what do you mean by "4 strands of floss"?


(Happy summer to all my friends in the northern hemisphere and a cozy winter to all my friends in the southern hemisphere! I'm busy, busy, busy with all kinds of graphic design, home improvement and craft projects for summer so I haven't checked in much on social media or the blog. Hello! *waves*)

If you are working on any of my hand embroidered projects, like the Twelve Days ornament series, you'll notice that I specify how many strands of floss to use on each step. If you are new to embroidery, you may be wondering what that means.
Wonder no more!

DMC embroidery floss is made up of six cotton threads that are twisted together to form one strand of floss. On my patterns you will find the number of strands specified, for instance:
4 strands of contrasting floss + whip stitch
That means you'll separate and remove 2 strands of thread and use the remaining 4 strands of floss to do the whip stitches. (Contrasting just means a floss color that is not the same color as the felt and that will show up well.) It's important to follow those steps if you want your stitching to have the same look as my samples because I obsess over tailor the number of strands used to best highlight my designs.

You'll find I use 4 strands the most, but I also specify 2, 3, and 6 strands at times. I don't recall ever specifying 5, but it's a possibility! It's a good idea to set aside the strands you peel away because you might get a chance to use them later in the project.


Q: So what's the best method to separate them? 
A: You'll find if you just grab 2 strands and try to peel them away the floss sometimes gets snarled or twisted. Who has time or patience for that? Not me.

Start with about 18-20 inches of floss. (Avoid cutting strands much longer because this process just gets too tricky.) First I'll tell you about the DMC recommended method. And then I'll tell you mine.

DMC approved method: Pinch the floss between your fingers near the end and slowly pull out one strand at a time, until it's all separated, then reunite however many strands to thread your needle. This has the advantage of removing any twisting and will keep your embroidery smoother and less snarly. Here's an excellent visual tutorial for that method:
https://www.needlenthread.com/2013/08/embroidery-tip-how-to-separate-floss.html

Larissa's quicker method: My non-DMC approved method is to hold one end of the floss in my teeth and at the other end grab two threads with one hand and four with the other. I peel them apart that way to keep the floss from twisting on itself. Then I run my pinched fingernails down the strands a few times to untwist them. Voila. There still might be an occasional twist in the floss, but I usually don't sweat that.


Q: What needle should I use? 
A: Most of my patterns specify a size 5 embroidery needle. If that's the only one you have, you can do the whole project with it, no problem. However, it will make your job easier if you have a variety of needle sizes and multiple size 5 embroidery needles so you don't have to unthread every time you change a color. Make sure they are nice and sharp. (Avoid tapestry needles. While they have nice, big eyes, they also have blunt tips.)
- I use a size 5 embroidery needle for 3 and 4 strands.
- I use a smaller sized sewing sharp for 2 strands (or you can use a size 8 or 9 embroidery needle).
- I use a larger size 3 embroidery needle for handling all 6 strands. The larger eye and needle shaft are helpful when threading and pulling the french knots through.
DMC also has a needle guide here.




Q: I hate stripping floss. Can I just use different sizes of DMC Pearl Cotton?
A: In theory, yes. Yes, you can. I just have no experience with that, but I don't see why not. DMC pearl cotton comes in several sizes. Send me pictures if you've used that for the ornaments!

Cheater Note:
After the embroidery's all done and you sew the ornament parts together, I specify 2 strands of matching floss for that. BUT. You can cheat. If you have a large library of sewing threads like I do and they just happen to match the felt color, then feel free to use a double strand of sewing thread for that instead. (Remember this is for sewing the parts together only -- not for embroidery.) It's way less trouble than stripping more floss. BUT. It is less likely you'll find a matching sewing thread for every felt you have because they come in fewer colors. I just use it if I have the matching thread. And, yes, I have plenty of samples that are sewn together with both floss and doubled thread. It's hard to tell unless you really look closely!

I hope this guide has been helpful! Happy stitching!

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

out with my Flickr account and in with the Share Photos page


By way of an underwhelming announcement, I've deleted my Flickr account. You might be thinking, "What's Flickr?"

Exactly. It's been many moons since I've uploaded or checked in with my photo groups. Years ago, they were a great way for us folks to show each other what we were making with mmmcrafts patterns and tutorials. It was great while it lasted, but I don't want to continue paying for a service that I no longer personally use. 

To replace the Flickr photo groups, there's a new SHARE PHOTOS page on the blog (also there's a new button for it in the nav ^up there at the top) explaining how to share and tag your photos for several popular apps. Tag me, please! I really love to see what you make!

(BTW, with the exception of the peonies and the shot of my studio, the photos you see up there are all from other talented mmmakers! You can search #mmmcrafts on Instagram to see more, as well as #twelvedaysornaments.)

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Floresita's 12 Months of Christmas - a Twelve Days Ornaments stitch-along on Feeling Stitchy


Interested in a Twelve Days Ornaments stitch-along? Lovely and talented Floresita is hosting one on Feeling Stitchy called Twelve Months of Christmas. Follow along to get inspiration and share your ornament progress too. Floresita is using alternate stitching (couching!) and adding sparkle with beads and metallic threads. Her ornaments are going to be beautiful!

New to the Twelve Days Ornament Series? This page is chock-full of tips and information to help you get started.

Friday, March 2, 2018

baby molly's floral felt banner


My dear friends Marc and Amanda adopted a beautiful newborn girl recently. I helped throw a shower for them and this banner was a present from me. A few years ago I made a paper name banner for their older son, Micah, so when they requested a name banner for new little Molly I decided to do felt for a change.


I think name banners are satisfyingly easy and fun to sew, especially if you are like me and have illustration software and can print directly to Sulky Stick n Stitch*. Skidoosh! Not only do name banners make easy handmade, personalized gifts, (#forthewin, #oohahhfactor) they also double as pretty shower decorations.

*Why/how did I used the Stick n Stitch and not freezer paper? I used it just as a quick, no tracing way to adhere the printed pattern to the felt, cut it out, and then I peeled it away. I did this in stages so as not to waste the stabilizer. I adhered the composite printed pattern to the cream. Cut. Peeled it off, adhered the same piece to the colored felt. Cut. Peeled it off. Adhered what was left to the letter felt. Cut. Peeled it off. It saved a lot of freezer paper tracing. I didn't feel bad about using it that way because it was from my stash of 'bad' stabilizer -- the batch of stabilizer that doesn't wash away. There's no other way to use it. Not to mention I was kind of in a hurry. But to be honest, I'd do it again, bad batch or no. It was a huge time saver.

Sizewise, Molly's banner is fairly large, with each flag being about 7 x 9 inches and total length about 76 inches from ribbon end to ribbon end:


Here it is where I hung it for the shower - over my couch. I also recommend waiting until the night before the shower to sew yours, just to add that extra bit of excitement and danger! (#2am #woolfeltavalanche #sleepisforquitters)


Designing it was pretty fun (I did not do that on the night before, at least). I looked around on the internet for some images and decided I liked this notched shape for the flags. Then I tested out a few fonts 'til I landed on one that had presence and was not too complicated to cut and sew. The felt colors I chose coordinate with Molly's nursery decor.


It seemed wasteful to use wool felt for the cream colored background that's only seen at the edges, so I bought sheets of acrylic craft felt from the store for that, and then the rest of the banner (including the letters) is wool felt. Bad decision in hindsight. After struggling mightily with the cheap cream stuff I remembered why I despise acrylic felt. It's too lightweight. It bunched, stretched, frayed, stuck too much to the stabilizer, didn't stick enough to the glue, walked away under the machine foot and was a general pain to work with. Next time I make one of these I'll try the stiffened felt for the backgrounds or just give up and use wool.


I did not initially plan to have the charcoal outline around the letters. I added that later because it needed a little oomph, and also to tie in the black centers of the anemone flowers. OK, the flowers!


If you look around on Pinterest you will realize there are one million felt flower tutorials out there. I tried a few of them for a rose, anemone and whatever that loopy poof thing is supposed to be. Chrysanthemum? After figuring out the best sizes by trial and error, I customized some templates for myself on the computer. I found the key to nice looking flower petals and leaves is not to leave them as flat pieces. You have to add curve by snipping and overlapping the ends. Hot glue was used to put the flowers together. I have a love/hate relationship with hot glue. Love the immediacy. Hate the inevitable burns caused by my apparent lack of common sense (the basic disconnect of brain cautioning hey, that's hot, you probably shouldn't pinch it with your fing-- as fingers make contact with sticky lava. Again.)

Now that I have all the kinks worked out, templates made, and know what I'm doing, bring on the baby showers and birthday parties! I'd love to try the letters or flags in a pretty print fabric also, and maybe another font.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

new notions kit for Twelve Days offered at Benzie Design

Photo courtesy of Benzie Designs

Hey, guys! You may have noticed I've been flying under the radar since the release of the last Twelve Days ornament. I've been busy catching up on the mountain of tasks that have been sorely neglected over the past few months during the design and release of the last three patterns. And besides that, I actually designed and sewed something that was not a Christmas ornament! And I used my sewing machine. It was like, hello, old friend!

Anyway, I'll blog that later, but wanted to pop in and let you know about the notions kit you see above that is being offered at Benzie Design. It is tailor made for my Twelve Days Ornament Series and includes many of the materials (besides felt) that are required to make the ornaments, all in one place: Tacky Glue®, interfacing, Sulky stabilizer, pipe cleaners, wood beads, embroidery needles, and more! Check it out. BTW, if you find the kit is sold out, you can still shop the individual items on their website.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

curated Benzie felt color guide for Lord a-Leaping ornaments


All three of my Lords a-Leaping you see above were made with the Benzie felt bundle #6, shown below. It's the same felt color bundle as you use for Goose a-Laying. I've provided this felt and floss color guide so you can make samples that look like mine. Of course, there are even more color combos possible with this bundle, but I just made three.

Photo courtesy of Benzie Design

You can purchase just the Benzie bundle #6 felt as shown above, or you can opt to include matching flosses, shown below. Matching flosses are needed when you are sewing the parts of the ornaments together, but just note you will still need to purchase contrasting floss colors for the embroidery.


So without further ado, here are the samples with their felt and floss keys:

His Periwinkle Lordship:


Felt:
Periwinkle: heart front, sleeves and coat
Blue: heart inset, boots
Copper: vest
Coral: heart back (not shown), body and legs
Fuchsia: hat
Icicle: cravat and lace cuffs

Decorative Embroidery:
HEART:
DMC 3753
DMC 918
DMC 718
DMC 892
LORD:
DMC 3753
DMC 918
DMC 718
DMC 892
DMC 796
DMC 809


His Fuchsia Lordship:


Felt:
Fuchsia: heart inset, sleeves and coat
Cotton Candy: heart front, body, and legs
Coral: vest and heart back (not shown)
Copper: boots
Aqua: hat
Icicle: cravat and lace cuffs

Decorative Embroidery:
HEART:
DMC White
DMC 3846
DMC 3844 (dashed line)
DMC 892
DMC 605
LORD:
DMC White
DMC 3846
DMC 605
DMC 918
DMC 718


His Cyan Lordship:


Felt:
Cyan: heart inset, sleeves and coat
Aqua: heart front, body, and legs
Orange: vest
Copper: boots
Coral: hat
Icicle: heart back (not shown), cravat and lace cuffs

Decorative Embroidery:
HEART:
DMC White
DMC  918
DMC 604
DMC 947
DMC 892 (dashed line)
LORD:
DMC White
DMC 3844
DMC 604
DMC 947
DMC 918
DMC 3341 (dashed line)