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Saturday, 22 April 2017

Taking Pride in Some Delightful P&P Projects

Jane Vivash tote bag made with eSheep Designs' P&P fabric
Lovely quilted tote bag made with my P&P fabric...
As a designer, the high moments come when someone actually makes something with a creation of yours.

Whether it's a set of instructions by way of a sewing tutorial or pattern, or a physical item like fabric, the fact of having created that tutorial, pattern or fabric really doesn't compare to the moment when you actually see what someone has made using it.

So it goes with my modestly successful Pride & Prejudice themed fabrics on Spoonflower.

This weekend is the second anniversary of my first sale of this fabric, so I thought to mark the date by sharing projects made by some talented crafters.

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Back in January, Jane Vivash — in her words, living the life of the idle retired — messaged me via Spoonflower to show me some of her creations. She claims to love all things P&P and purchased my fabric to make a bag or two. One of them is the tote bag that you see at the top of this post. I love the quilting that she added.

Here are a few more of Jane's projects. This little clutch features the fabric as an accent on the flap.

Jane Vivash projects made with eSheep Designs' P&P fabric
image courtesy of Jane Vivash... 

Here is a second clutch, again using the fabric as an accent for the flap.

Jane Vivash projects made with eSheep Designs' P&P fabric
image courtesy of Jane Vivash...

Last but not least, isn't this the cutest eyeglass case ever?? (Jane, if you're reading this, what patterns — if any — did you use for your projects?)

Jane Vivash projects made with eSheep Designs' P&P fabric
image courtesy of Jane Vivash...

I'm also quite impressed with the coordinating fabrics for these projects. (Not to mention the heart-shaped hardware like the twist lock and magnetic snap!)

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Which brings me to another crafter and her P&P project: Pam's grocery bag.

Pride & Prejudice Shopping Bag crafted by Pam (Threading My Way)
Pam's shopping bag made with P&P fabric...

Once again, I was most impressed with the coordinating fabric that Pam chose for her project. I wonder if most of us have some striking black and white fabric in our stashes?

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While I'm at it, let's not forget about my first thrill seeing this fabric come to life: Wendy's fabulous prize-winning hat design. If you missed it the first time around, here's a reminder of how awesome it was!

Hat by Wendy Dudley; Pride & Prejudice fabric by eSheep Designs
Rear view of Wendy's prize-winning P&P themed hat...

Pride & Prejudice projects by eSheep Designs
Four of my P&P projects...
And of course, I've dabbled in my own P&P themed projects over the past couple of years... from a scarf, to a small purse, to a teeny tiny coin purse, to a kimono coverup and finally to a couple of throw pillows. (You can filter out all of those past posts by clicking here.)

I wear my scarf regularly and see the pillows on my sofa everyday. The kimono will be worn again once the warmer weather sets in. (If we ever get warmer... we're having a rather dismal April: there's snow in the forecast tonight.)

The two purses, admittedly, mostly hang from a hook in my sewing room. But at least they're not still pieces of fabric!

Speaking of fabric, you should check out Spoonflower's innovative new way of selling yardage. It's called Fill-A-Yard and it allows you to select two or more designs to form a yard of fabric in various layouts. For example, you can now make an infinity scarf out of two different fabric designs without buying two yards... how cool is that?

Saturday, 15 April 2017

Free Pattern/Tutorial: Quilted CD Coaster Mug Rug [Version 1]

Upcycled Quilted CD Coaster by eSheep Designs
A fun upcycling project!
A while back, I showed you the ear warmer headband that I made out of an old sweatshirt that was bound for the trash bin. The remains of that sweatshirt have now been turned into something even more functional: quilted coasters made out of discarded CDs!

I was once again prepping for tax season when I came across several tax program CDs from previous years. I actually checked our city's recycling guide to see if they were garbage items or recyclables and it turns out that (where I live anyway), old CDs are supposed to be thrown away in the trash. That wasn't the answer that I was expecting, so I did a quick search for what one could make out of old CDs.

The first projects that jumped out were well beyond my patience level: people were using broken up pieces of CDs to do mosaics.

Then I came across a project for making a coaster out of a CD. It seemed ideal, since having completed some living room home décor, I had to try — of course — some kitchen home décor.

This project, however, entailed hand sewing a length of bias binding around the edge. I deplore sewing by hand and the addition of bias binding seemed unnecessary (and out of context in an upcycling/reuse project), so once again, I came up with my own method, which I will share today.

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The other tutorial resorted to hand sewing because the coaster was sized exactly the same as a CD... making it impossible to sew by machine without sewing through the CD. The binding was to cover up raw edges.

My version is sized just a little larger than a CD, so that you can still topstitch around it with a sewing machine once it's turned right side out (with no raw edges to cover up).

Here's what you need... and you can truly recycle/upcycle your way through this entire project by using old kitchen linens in place of the fleece and quilting cotton.

Upcycled Quilted CD Coaster tutorial by eSheep Designs
An old CD, some circles of old fleece and a couple of circles of scrap fabric is all you need to make this!

The above shows a discarded CD and two circles of fleece cut to the same size, and then two circles of fabric and two circles of fleece, all cut 3/4" (2cm) bigger than the CD.

Upcycled Quilted CD Coaster tutorial by eSheep Designs
Step 1: Pin all materials together...

I'm not going to get too wordy on this tutorial, as pictures will show the process clearly. The first step, as shown above, is to pin all the pieces together, with the larger circles right side out.

Sew all the way around each pinned assembly with a 1/8" (3mm) seam allowance.

Upcycled Quilted CD Coaster tutorial by eSheep Designs
Steps 2 & 3: Sew a seam around each section and do some free motion quilting!

Then do some free motion quilting inside the circle.

Upcycled Quilted CD Coaster tutorial by eSheep Designs
Closeup of my free motion quilting effort...

By the way, you must congratulate me as this is my absolute first time ever doing free motion quilting!

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Next, put both completed circles of fabric right sides together and pin or clip. Leave a big enough section open so that you can slide in the CD later.

Upcycled Quilted CD Coaster tutorial by eSheep Designs
Step 4: Pin both pieces together and sew...

Sew around the secured section with a 1/4" (6mm) seam allowance and then notch the curves.

Upcycled Quilted CD Coaster tutorial by eSheep Designs
Step 5: Notch the curved edge...

Turn right side and out press well.

Upcycled Quilted CD Coaster tutorial by eSheep Designs
Step 6: Turn right side out and press...

Put the CD inside and then use clips to help you fold the remainder of the seam around the open edge.

Upcycled Quilted CD Coaster tutorial by eSheep Designs
Step 7: Insert CD and use clips to secure the open edge...

Make sure that the CD is centered inside in the middle and carefully sew all the way around the perimeter with just under a 1/8" (3mm) seam allowance. (Sounds hard to manage, but it may be unexpectedly easy to do. I find that sewing a curve with a small seam allowance is easier than sewing one with a large seam allowance. )

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And there you have it... a project that's quick to put together and has that upcycling caché!

Upcycled Quilted CD Coaster by eSheep Designs
Step 8: Sew all the way around the perimeter with as small a seam allowance as you can manage...

These are definitely useful to have. We bought a dining table with a tempered glass top a couple of years ago. Because of that, I've been using placemats a lot more than I used to, but now these coasters or mug rugs have a permanent spot on the table.

Upcycled Quilted CD Coaster by eSheep Designs
My three Upcycled Quilted CD Coaster/Mug Rugs!

By the way, did you notice that the title of this post indicates a "version 1"? That's because right after I made these, I thought that a set would be a nice gift for Mom for Mother's Day this year. But then a slightly different thought came to mind, which will lead to a version 2 that I'll unveil in May. At that time, I'll put both versions out in a single PDF.

In the meantime, do you have any ideas for used CDs that are easy to execute? (I absolutely refuse to break them up for mosaics!)

Saturday, 8 April 2017

No Refunds on Digital Products - Does it Need to be Said?

MyTie Makeover Mini Bag by eSheep Designs
I don't want it because it has too many pages??
This past January, I received an email from a customer with an unusual request. She stated that she had facilitated a purchase of my MyTie Makeover Mini Bag pattern for a family member, but when the individual in question opened the PDF, she discovered that it was "more than 50 pages to print [and] she said she did not want to keep the pattern. She is an experienced sewer, but was confused and overwhelmed by the pattern, plus doesn't really have the funds to print that many pages. Can she get a refund?"

What would your response be?

My first gut instinct was to defend my position, which is that there are NO refunds on digital products!

However, I aim to be fair minded at all times and to see all sides of a situation, so I stopped to consider what my best response would be... preferably without exclamation marks and capital letters. ;-)

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While clearly of the belief that there are no refunds on digital products, did my Craftsy sales page actually indicate that? No. Which leads me to the title of this post: is it common knowledge that no refunds are given on digital products? Hard to say. I thought so, but maybe it's something that needs to be spelled out clearly. Perhaps if you are swimming in similar waters, you might want to make it explicit.

So while I pondered the wording of my official reply, I put it on my "to do" list to add the following to each of my paid patterns:

Due to the nature of digital products, all PDF pattern sales are final.

Next, I considered the issue of the size of the PDF.

I'll freely admit that complaints about PDF size/length/bulk always make me groan out loud... really loud. Because I come from a background where most of us learned to avoid printing out stuff. It constantly amazes me that people feel the need to go with the paper format when it's totally unnecessary. (If you're someone who likes to print everything on a regular basis, can you please shed some light on the matter for me?)

The MyTie pattern is my lengthiest pattern at 59 pages. In some ways, it couldn't be avoided, being that it covered three different ways of making the bag. However — and unfortunately — my Craftsy listing did not make mention of this humongous length. (Absolutely a mistake on my part, since most of my other patterns did make mention of total page length.)

Again, as I pondered my response, I went in and added PDF length information to all of my paid patterns.

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In an unusual move, I shared the email with my other half. He was of the opinion that "oh for heaven's sake, it's a six dollar pattern" and "how can you ask for a refund based on being unable to pay for the cost of printing it out"? To be totally honest, those same words — more or less — had passed through my mind also.

In even more of an unusual move, my other half actually spoke about the situation to one of his buddies. This friend was also of the opinion that the complaint was not worthy of a refund and said that I was being nice for even considering it further.

The thing is, this is the new world of online commerce. Who knows what might motivate an individual to make life worse for you if you don't take the high road (to follow the advice of the former FLOTUS)? I'm such small potatoes, but I still wouldn't want a customer bad-mouthing me for being rigid.

Given that I didn't have my own safeguards and explicit notices in place, I wanted to be at least a little bit conciliatory.

That said, I wasn't about to refund the whole thing without a valid reason. I've had buyer's remorse about a pattern myself, but that situation was totally different. Even then, however, I knew that there was no point in asking for a refund.

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So what was my ultimate response? After stating my belief that it's common for digital products to be non-refundable due to their nature, I covered the remainder of the bases with the following:

Let me first say that PDFs such as these are not meant to be printed in their entirety. Particularly if your [---] is an experienced sewer, she should not need to print every page describing every detail. After reading through the instructions, all she truly needs to print are the pattern templates at the back of the document (a total of 3 pages if she wants to make each of the three designs).

Has she truly read through the pattern or was it just a case of "oh, it's too many pages for me to look at"? Or is the problem that she does not have a device on which to read it?

If you feel strongly about needing some sort of restitution, I would be prepared to offer a credit of $2.50 USD towards your (the purchaser's) PayPal account as a goodwill gesture. Let me know ASAP if that's what you require and if so, please allow up to ten business days for the transaction to appear.

Hubby and I went out for a walk around the neighbourhood after I sent the response. We talked further about it and wondered if I would have a reply by the time we came back.

I didn't... and still haven't.

What is your opinion on the matter?

Saturday, 1 April 2017

Free PDF Tutorial: Designer Paper Flowers

Canada Day Designer Flowers by eSheep Designs
My second crafting salute to Canada 150...
I struggled a bit with the topic of today's post.

Why? Because this is a paper crafting project and up to now, I've managed to stick to a self-prescribed rule not to veer into any non-sewing crafts on this blog.

Is that silly? (As in, who cares?)

Well, I decided that — in this particular instance, anyway — it was silly. Because it's been my intention to feature some crafting projects to celebrate Canada 150 and I fell in love with the idea of these giant flowers as being one of them. (My first project on this theme was the Maple Leaf neck warmer.)

Canada Day is now only three months out as of today, so if you're looking to do some decorating for the occasion, here's an idea that's sure to draw attention. (And if the weather cooperates, my flowers are going to hang from a tree in our front yard on July 1.)

Canada Day Designer Flowers by eSheep Designs
Place two flowers back to back for an impressive display...

This particular application is not meant to leave out anyone from any other country, because — as you'll soon see — you can apply whatever theme you want to this project. In fact, from sports parties to weddings, these flowers can fit the bill. (Which apparently savvy Craftsy members understand, because none of the first ten people who downloaded this PDF were from Canada.)

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The complete instructions are in the free PDF, and for once I'm not going to replicate the whole thing here. (It's not like it's complicated; whatever I gloss over can essentially be guessed at.)

Here is what you'll need to make one 15.5" (approximately 40cm) flower:
  • 5 sheets of scrapbooking paper in assorted red and white solids and/or patterns for flower petals
  • 1 sheet of standard letter size white paper for the middle of the flower
  • 1 sheet of green solid or patterned scrapbooking paper for leaves
  • Glue gun (a low temp one will work fine) and glue sticks
  • Scrap paper to make templates for tracing the petals
  • Stapler & scissors, pencil and eraser
I used both card stock and patterned scrapbooking paper for my flowers. (The solids are card stock.) Card stock is obviously heavier, but it's also coloured on both sides, whereas the patterned sheets are white on the reverse.

Canada Day Designer Flowers by eSheep Designs
A giant flower made out of scrapbooking paper...

I got all of my paper from Michaels. They were part of the Recollections collection, from the Red and Royal White Linen to the other sheets identified here:

Scrapbooking paper from Michaels
I used Red Pindots, Red Tent Stripe and Green Faux Canvas for my flowers...

Each flower is made up of six large petals, four medium petals and six small petals. Measurements are provided in the PDF for you to sketch out your own templates, which should look like this.

Canada Day Designer Flowers by eSheep Designs
You'll need to make your own templates for the petals...

As described, you will be able to fit two large petals onto a standard 12" x 12" (30.4cm x 30.4cm) sheet of scrapbooking paper, so you'll need three sheets for those. Each group of four medium and six small petals will fit onto a single sheet. (The PDF illustrates how to lay out your templates to accomplish this.)

Canada Day Designer Flowers by eSheep Designs
Overlap the split ends of the petals in a gradual fashion so that
the inner (smaller) petals stand up more than the outer (larger) ones...

Once you have the petals cut out, make a slit in each one at its base. The two resulting ends are then overlapped and stapled together to make the petal "stand up" a bit, while the top edge is curled to mimic a real petal.

The centre of the flower is made by taking a standard sheet of letter size paper, folding it in half lengthwise, and then fringing it along the folded edge.

Canada Day Designer Flowers by eSheep Designs
Cut slits into the folded sheet about 3/4 of the way down at 1/4" or 6mm intervals...

This sheet is then unfolded, flipped right side out and wound around itself (and hot-glued) to form a frilly centre for the flower. Patterned scrapbooking paper can also be used for this (as you can see below), but regular printer paper actually yields greater volume and costs less.

Canada Day Designer Flowers by eSheep Designs
Petals all curled, stapled and ready to be turned into a flower!

Once you have all of the above, it's time to give your glue gun a workout.

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You can start with the outer-most layer of petals or the inner-most. In either case, arrange and work with the petals in pairs for best results. (If you're using a mix of patterned paper, pay attention to what order they're in, if it makes a difference.)

Canada Day Designer Flowers by eSheep Designs
Hot gluing the six small petals...

Here, I'm starting with the small petals. Hot glue them in pairs first — be consistent with how much you overlap them — and then glue the pairs together to complete the entire layer.

For the medium layer, hot glue a pair of opposing petals first and then add the other two on top.

Canada Day Designer Flowers by eSheep Designs
Hot gluing the four medium petals...

Now that you have three of the main components ready to go, you can start the assembly process by gluing them together.

Canada Day Designer Flowers by eSheep Designs
Hot glue the three pieces together...

Make the outer-most layer of the large petals in the same way as the small petals, working in pairs and then gluing the pairs together.

Canada Day Designer Flowers by eSheep Designs
Hot gluing the large petals together...

Again, be mindful of how the petals are arranged if they have different patterns on them.

Complete the flower by hot gluing the previous assembly on top of this outer-most layer of petals.

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Now it's time to add leaves. Cut the scrapbook sheet for the leaf in half. Take one of the pieces and fold it in half lengthwise, with the patterned side in. Draw a couple of curves at the ends and cut away.

Canada Day Designer Flowers by eSheep Designs
Create a leaf shape (fyi, the folded edge is on the bottom in this photo)...

Take the folded sheet and make five fan style folds on it as shown to create faux veins on the leaf.

Canada Day Designer Flowers by eSheep Designs
Make folds to simulate veins...

When you open this up, a leaf will appear!

Canada Day Designer Flowers by eSheep Designs
Tada! A leaf...

Repeat the process with the remaining half sheet to create a second leaf and then hot glue them onto the bottom of the flower.

Canada Day Designer Flowers by eSheep Designs
Attach leaf...

If you're making two flowers, you might want to attach one leaf to each, like I did here.

Canada Day Designer Flowers by eSheep Designs
An inexpensive way to create a big impression for any occasion...

And there it is. It's not sewing, but since it's been packaged up as one of my designs, I decided it was worth sharing here on the blog. (By the way, if you want a sewing project for fabric flowers that you can make for Canada Day, check out this "fabulous" post from April 2016.)

Canada Day Designer Flowers by eSheep Designs
To give you an idea of size; that's an 18" cutting mat in front...

But before signing off this week... let me say that I'm also releasing a paid version of this PDF that's not Canada Day specific.

Canada Day Designer Flowers by eSheep Designs
Close-up of a mini flower...

It includes a set of templates that can be printed out (i.e., you don't have to draw them yourself), as well as bonus templates for making the mini designer flower that you see above. Not to mention that it addresses the potential challenge of how to display your completed works.

Designer Paper Flowers by eSheep Designs
Two PDF tutorials for making designer paper flowers...

I don't intend on making a habit of posting about non-sewing projects, so enjoy these for what they are! You can grab either of these PDFs from my Craftsy shop.