How to Photograph Craft Projects + Awesome Giveaway!

photograph-craft-projectsFor the majority of us, our smart phones are our go-to tool.  Not only are they phones, but most now can surf the web, pay your bills, store your music, and even act as a high-quality camera.  Gone are the days of poor photo quality…today’s cell phones have the ability to take amazing photos and upload them directly to your social media site of choice.

If you’re a craft designer like me, you may also use your cell phone to take photos of your work to upload onto Pinterest, Etsy, Artfire, or your own online store…and believe it or not, there are now tools to help you take professional-looking photos with just your smart phone…but we’ll get to that soon…

First, let’s talk about some basic photography tips that you can use when it comes to taking photos of your craft projects.  Most of us don’t have the luxury of having professional photography equipment lying around the house…so we have to make the most of what we have available to us…in Quick Photo Tips: Do What You Can with What You’ve Got, you can learn how to use the tools you have available to you to create amazing photos of your work.  Learn how to set up a photo studio and where the best places in your house are to take your photos.

Once you’ve set up your studio, read Lights, Camera, Action: How to Light Your Photos and Displays for helpful suggestions on how to shed just the right amount of light on your project.  We also suggest reading How to Photograph Craft Projects: Photography Guide for Selling Your Arts and Crafts Online for a great step-by-step guide for making your projects stand out above the rest.

Finally, it’s time to edit!  We suggest using PicMonkey to edit your photos, as you can easily edit one sigular photo or arrange several photos into an amazing collage!  Not familiar with PicMonkey?  Check out our series on how to use this free photo-editing software!

 

Once you’ve taken and printed off your photos, try crafting up one of these awesome DIY frames to help showcase your work!  Display them in your office, on the wall, or in the living room and have fun showcasing those who mean the most to you:

 

Bonus!  We want to help you create the best photos you can…so we’re giving away 1 Lightcase to 5 lucky winners!  The Lightcase is a pop-up photo studio that allows you to take professional-looking photos with your smart phone.  Great for photographing anything from small craft projects to new, exciting recipes, the Lightcase is a must-have for hobbyists of all kinds!  You have until May 19th to enterclick here to enter today!

Don’t Make these Mistakes! 6 Must-See Quilting Tips

Easy Peasy Chevron Quilt PatternHey quilters!

Or maybe you aren’t quilters. You may, in fact, be brand new to quilting. A more accurate salutation may be,

Hey, new quilters!

or

Hey, people who have never quilted before!

If you have never quilted before, then you are in the perfect place to begin. Everybody has to start somewhere, which is why we have here at FaveQuilts a beautiful collection of  6 YouTube Quilting Videos for Beginners. You won’t believe the tips and tricks that can save you some serious quilter’s heartbreak. For example, have you ever used a rotary cutter before? You will literally never want to use scissors again, and here’s a video tutorial that will show you just how easy and fabulous rotary cutting is:

If you want to learn how to quilt efficiently (and who doesn’t?) you must check out this video for How to Chain Piece for Faster Quilting. Most quilters use chain piecing for quickly stitching fabrics together for a quilt top. Save time and energy when you follow the tips outlined in this video.

Additionally, when you check out this collection, you will learn the dramatic difference between ironing and pressing. Don’t make a rookie mistake like ironing your quilt blocks! Find out why when you see this quilting video:

For more basic quilting tips for beginners, be sure to check out our additional video tutorials in 6 YouTube Quilting Videos for Beginners. From basic skills to more specific techniques, these quilting tips will take you from novice to expert in no time at all.

BONUS: Get inspired to start quilting today with some of the most popular free quilt patterns for beginners! These totally basic designs look gorgeous, and they’re so easy to make! Work your way up to our expert patterns when you first start with an easy quilt pattern for beginners.

Four Hour Lasagna Quilt

 

What is your quilting skill level?

 

 

Sewing Dresses & Apparel Tips from Suzannah: National Sewing Month 2013

It’s Day Seven of National Sewing Month! Too see the daily blog posts, projects of the day, and more National Sewing Month details, click here.

National Sewing Month 2013

Today we welcome guest blogger, Suzannah from Adventures in Dressmaking who is sharing tips on her specialty: dressmaking/apparel sewing!

For a couple years now I’ve had a feature on my blog called”Sewing Circle.” It started when a reader sent me a question about how to choose patterns to go with a few fabrics she’d collected. It’s sometimes hard to imagine how you can make a sewing pattern on your own, so we had fun talking about styles she was interested and how she could make them out of her fabrics. I posted about it on my blog and the series was born. Since then I’ve gotten a lot of questions from readers about how to copy a dress they’ve seen in a magazine or even a store window, and a lot of general questions from sewing beginners.

I thought I’d summarize a few of my favorite sewing techniques and tips based on some top Sewing Circle questions I’ve received.

How to Cut Out the Right Pattern Size

Using patterns can be confusing, but before you even cut them out, you have to choose the right size — which can be even trickier! I can lend some insight into how to choose the right size and cut out the right fit.

  • Sewing patterns use standard body measurements developed by the US Department of Standards during WWII. These are fairly outdated now, so many of us feel may need to cut out a size 3-5 sizes bigger than our current ready-to-wear dress size!
  • But, most people don’t have the exact bust, waist, and hip measurements of any particular size. When cutting out a dress or top, the bust measurement is probably most important. Use the size that matches your bust measurement, and taper at the waist (angle in or out when cutting after measuring) to fit. On a dress with a gathered skirt, for example, the hip measurement doesn’t matter at all, and even for the A-line skirts, it’s not as important as waist and bust, so you may be able to ignore that number and cut out the right size for your bust and waist. For pants or skirts, use the pattern that matches your hip measurement and make the waist fit. Or, if the numbers are pretty close, I usually use the average size. If your bust is an 8, your waist a 12, and your hips a 10, for example, use the size 10 pattern as a base.
  • Unfortunately, modern sewing patterns are not designed to fit as snugly as some of us might like for tailored garments. You may find you cut out what is supposed to be the right size in something, only to be swimming in it once you put it together. There are a couple possible reasons for this: 1) most sewing patterns are not high fashion and are not often made for trendy juniors’ sizes and snug fits. 2) most patterns are intended for a 5/8” seam allowance, and if you use a 1/2″ or smaller, it actually makes a big difference in fit.
  • Also note: patterns will usually tell you the “finished garment” measurements as well as the bust, waist, etc. to use when picking out your size. If your bust is 36″, the dress’s bust may be 38″ or 39″ to allow for movement and wearing ease. If you see these measurements and want something snugger, check the finished garment measurements for the smaller size down — maybe you should cut out that one.
  • If you want to test out a pattern, make a “muslin” out of whatever cheap fabric you can find — an old sheet, a thrift store find, or a fabric that you got on sale would be great! This way you can test out the pattern without spending too much time or expensive fabric. You don’t have to finish the edges of the muslin or add fastenings or anything.

You can custom-make patterns for your size, by measuring the pattern pieces as you cut.

  • The first thing you should do when cutting out a new pattern (when you don’t know how tightly or loosely it will fit) is measure the pieces and how large it will be when you sew them together. To do this, you need to lay them out taking into account the seam allowances (if you use 5/8″, overlap them 1 1/4″ at each seam) and measure across the bust and waist.
  • Try on the garment before you assemble to fashion fabric to the lining–it’s way easier to take in seams before you have two layers and a join at the top edge, for example. Pin the bodice closed where the zipper will be and look in the mirror. Use pins and a fabric marker if you like to pinch in where it’s too big or mark where it’s too small.
  • If all that fails and the garment is still too big, take it in some at the sides as well as the back—you don’t want your side seams to be so far off your sides. It’ll look kind of funky if anyone sees, and it may pull weirdly at the waist since the bodice is curved for the smallest part. You don’t have to take the bodice all the way apart, just 3-4″ or so on each side at the top, then go in and take it in.

It may sound like a lot, but once you get started with a muslin or simple pattern to start with, you’ll get more comfortable tailoring clothes for your shape and style!

Good Fabrics for Beginning Sewers

Some fabrics are better than others if you’re just getting comfortable with making your own clothes.

First, almost all clothing patterns will tell you on the back what the recommended fabrics are, although they’re not always helpful. Always read the back of the pattern if you’re concerned, and look at those types of fabrics while you’re in the fabric store.

The biggest differences in fabric are in weight — you can’t make a heavy coat out of a sheer chiffon. So think about fabrics in terms of the garment you’d make out of them, and stick to that. Some fabrics, like “shirtings,” are great for blouses and tops, but not great for pants or shorts. A nice linen with an embroidered pattern is good for a skirt or maybe a dress, but too heavy for a shirt. And, of course, a knit fabric is best for patterns that are meant for knits (they will tell you on the pattern). And alternatively, don’t make a pattern that’s meant for a woven fabric out of a stretchy one. It won’t work.

Generally, the fabrics that are best for apparel are in the front of the fabric store. They are often seasonal colors or named for the types of things they’re best for (“suitings,” “bottomweights,”…). You can take the recommendations of the store displays!

Quilting fabrics, often near the back of the store, come in super cute prints but are not meant for clothing. They can work for clothing, with a lining or appropriate finishing, but they are best for quilts or shower curtains or little home dec projects. I know, some of the prints are sooooo cute, but it is hard to make them durable and wearable. I don’t use them for clothing myself, although some people I know do.

The other very important thing to consider are the accessory fabrics that you’ll need to use: linings and interfacings. A very lightweight but crisp cotton is lovely for a lining, but poly/nylon linings are cheap and easy to find. I use lightweight fusible interfacing on pieces of the garment that need reinforcing. Don’t skip the lining and interfacing! As for my personal preference, I like natural fibers better than nylon, polyester, acrylic, fleece, etc. any day. I do use artificial fibers for many linings, and for some silk tops. But I love a good cotton dress!

How to Combine Patterns to Make Your Own Styles

Now that you’ve got the basics of cutting out your pattern and choosing the fabric, get creative! Some of my favorite dresses feature two different fabrics, one for the bodice and one for the skirt.

The basic idea is, combine two patterns of the same 1) size and 2) fit/shape. So, if your waist is 28″, you could combine the bodice for ANY dress that hits at the natural waistline and has a finished waist measurement of 28″ with ANY skirt pattern that also has a waist of 28″! Or, as I do, you don’t have to use a pattern for the skirt if you pleat or gather it into the waist. Or add a waistband — making sure you make the bodice above it shorter to accommodate it.  The tricky part comes when you use a skirt or bodice that has a scooped front, and you may need to adjust the skirt or bodice to match the skirt or bodice you’re pairing it with.

And, of course, you want to combine patterns of the same fit/shape. What I mean by that is: you can’t combine an empire waist bodice with a skirt that’s meant to hit at the natural waist, obviously (you’d get a weird baby-doll, and unless that’s the look you’re going for, it’s not going to work!). You can’t combine the bodice for a loose, flowy, knit dress with a pencil skirt dress pattern. So look at the finished garment measurements on the pattern package to guide you (if it has anything for the waist or wherever you’re combining) and just use common sense, and you’ll be fine. Here I combined a spaghetti strap fitted bodice with a pencil skirt (and added my own ruffle!) and got…

Sometimes with sleeves or even the waist, there’s a difference of 1/2″ or so, and you can normally stretch or pleat a little to make it fit (as long as you match your center front, back, and sides) or, try on the lining or unfinished bodice and see which pattern you want to cater to — if the armhole is too tight but the sleeve fits fine, cut the armhole a little deeper in the armpit, for example. If the waist is too big on the dress but fine on the skirt, take in the side seam on the dress a little.

These are some of my fave tips on making your own clothes and dresses! Check out my blog, Adventures in Dressmaking, for more of my fave ideas and projects for clothes, home, crafts, food, and more!

 

Have you ever started to make a dress for someone else and then decided to keep it for yourself?

 

 

Sewing Nightmares: Try Some Tips to Conquer Your Sewing Fears

Sewing NightmareAllFreeSewing asked you on Facebook what your biggest sewing nightmares were, and the answers were horrifying. What was really astounding was that most of you had actually realized your sewing nightmares. Reports of electricity outages, ill-fitted wedding attire, and even fingers caught in the sewing machine made us cringe. We thought we’d offer up some tips to prepare you for future nightmares. Hopefully you’ll never have to use them, but just in case…

 

 

 

Sewing with Children

Sewing With Children

This tip from one of our designers most likely resonates with a lot of you. Whether you were the victim of your sewing machine or have feared it for most of your life, here’s a tip. Prevent any damage inflicted by the dreadful sewing machine onto your children.

Threading Your Machine

Terrible Threading

Who among us doesn’t loathe threading? If you like it then you should volunteer your services to other sewists out there. Try out this sewing tip to tackle those threads. This is a great tip for beginner sewers.

Loss of Electricity

You’re not going to like this answer; but when you loose electricity and you’ve got a deadline to meet, it’s time to hit the fabric old-school style. Grab a thimble because hand sewing is your best bet for sewing success. Luckily, we have some much loved hand sewing advice for you.

Hanging Fabric Baskets or PocketsInaccessibility to Sewing Supplies

Some of our sewers are at this very moment unable to access their sewing supplies. This could be because of a move or because of no room. We feel for you. Put these organizational tips to use when you do get that fabric out of your storage unit. Hang in there!

Barbie Ball GownMaking Doll’s Clothes

Grandmas out there, the only true way you won’t have to do this tedious sewing project is by hiding your sewing abilities from your grandchildren. However, if you are stuck in a bind and need to make the apple of your eye some itsy-bitsy clothing, we have some doll’s clothes on our site.

Adding a Zipper to a Project

We were surprised to see that some of you feared adding a zipper to a project. Admittedly, a lot of us used to fear that too, but thanks to some crafty advice that fear is conquered. Check out these tutorials that tackle the toothy zipper once and for all.

Stepping on Needles

Ouch. Nothing hurts more than the startling rediscovery of a long lost needle…in your foot. Try out this sewing tip for preventing needle injuries and keep you and your family happy.

Some of you were afraid of losing inspiration for your sewing projects. We can easily help you there; if you visit our site you’ll never be at a loss for projects ideas. Remember to check out our tips and tricks section on AllFreeSewing for sewing safety advice. Also see our Facebook page to find our post about Sewing Nightmares and see specific stories from your fellow sewers.

What’s the best sewing advice you’ve ever received?

DIY Storage Systems for Crafts

My craft stash is a mess.  I have a ton of supplies in random boxes throughout my apartment and I need to get a handle on gathering it all together in one place.  I’m on a hunt to find decorative storage and organization tips from all you crafters out there on how to get my crafty treasures in order.  This, my friends, is mission number one.

Mission number two is to spend as little money as possible on organizational systems.  Why spend money when I can reuse what I already have to get myself organized?  So today I bring you repurposed, upcycled, and crafty DIY storage ideas for all your craft supplies…so let’s get organizing!

 

Paper
Scrapbook paper storage solutions are easier to come by than you think!  See if you have an old accordion file somewhere in the basement.  If you do, you’ve got yourself one of the best scrapbook paper organizers out there!

Here’s a great way to keep your single scrapbook paper sheets organized.  All you need is a collapsible sweater shelf and a few of these storage bins for paper, available at Cut Rate Crafts.  Label the bins by color, paper theme, or whatever system works for you.  I can’t wait to try this idea at home!

 

Beads/Embellishments/Small Things

Chances are you have the best storage devices for beads, embellishments, and other small items in your kitchen right now.  When it comes to keeping small things organized, there’s no need to buy tons of little jars and bottles…simply browse around your kitchen for unused muffin tins, egg cartons, and ice cube trays.

Yup, these storage containers make scrapbook storage and organization a breeze…not to mention they stack up and store away easily to allow for a cleaner and clutter free workspace.

When it comes to the bigger small stuff, like scissors, tape, and glue, nothing works better than a multi-pocket shoe organizer.  Who would have thought?  These over-the-door shoe organizers are great for craft supplies.

For those who enjoy the fine art of illustration and painting canvas boards, these shoe organizers are top-notch marker and paint bottle organizers.   If you’d rather have your markers and colored pencils close at hand, this Water Bottle Supply Organizer is a great resource.  Made from recycled plastic bottles, this storage system is cost effective and easy to make.

I also love this idea for organizing my colored pencils.  I’m always on the hunt for ideas for making handmade greeting cards, so keeping my cardstock and colored pencils close at hand is a definite need.  With this storage system, I can clean out my recycling bin and satisfy my slight OCD problem to have all my colored pencils together with like colors.  This just makes me happy.  There’s no other way to put it.

 

Ribbons

Can we discuss how brilliant this is?  What a great way to keep all your ribbons organized and ready for crafting and wrapping!  DIY ribbon organization is where I plan to start when it comes time to organizing my crafts.  While this ribbon tote is a great idea, I also love this ribbon organizer!  It’s so easy to make…all you need is a shoe box and some dowels.  I definitely think I can manage that!

 

Yarn and Needles

WHY did it take me so long to find this?  What a great idea for storing yarns and knitting needles!  This project requires a collapsible crate, a basket, or some receptacle you have that you are willing to recover with fabric.

If sewing isn’t really your thing, try this Yarn Storage Box, made with Mod Podge and unfinished wooden boxes.  Not only does it provide ample storage for yarn and craft needles, but you can decorate it to match your home décor so you can store your supplies out in the open!

Now, anyone who knows me knows I LOVE my coffee!  Can’t start a day without it!  But did you know that all those coffee canisters can be put to good use once the beans are gone?  By attaching like-sized canisters together, you can create yarn storage solutions that are effective and decorative!  Even if you’re not yo-yo for yarn, you can easily upcycle aluminum cans to help you organize your other craft supplies.

 

Fabric

I absolutely am in love with these fabric storage cabinets!  I love how colorful and organized that looks!  All you would need here is some stiff cardboard to wrap your fabric scraps around.  Then simply display them in an empty bookcase or cabinet.

 

So there you have it!  A good handful of DIY projects to help you get organized for a new year of crafting!  Not in the mood to DIY?  Check out these awesome craft room organization ideas and products from Cut Rate Crafts.  Many of the systems are available for purchase through the site…so you can get to organizing your creative mind ASAP.

Now, just because you’re storing and organizing doesn’t mean you have to disregard decorating!  Your craft room can be useful and beautiful—just check out this tips on how to Decorate and Organize Your Craft Room.  Ah, if only I had a craft room…

 

We want to hear your hints, tricks, and tips when it comes to craft storage and organization!  Feel free to comment below and tell us what has worked for you!  Happy crafting!