Wednesday, January 22, 2014

At my sewing machine today.

Today I considered sitting down to write another pattern. Instead, I thought a little research was in order. I'm not terribly new to writing patterns (I've had patterns published since 2008) but I haven't ever put so much of my energy into writing them before, and I want to make sure that I'm doing it well. When it comes to sewing, I myself don't use patterns much--I dream something up and make it. Sometimes I want to make things for myself or gifts for others and I might use someone else's pattern, but even if I do, I use the pattern pieces, but don't tend to look at the directions much. I prefer to figure it out intuitively. So today I pulled out a couple of craft books from my personal library and looked through to find a pattern from each one that I'd like to try out over the next few weeks. I hope that by doing this I'll learn how other people make things, and then how they communicate it in their directions--and ultimately improve my own pattern writing skills. So today instead of being at my computer I sat down at my sewing machine to give someone else's pattern a try.

xo CBB

Saturday, January 18, 2014

A day for embroidery.

Today I started working on this...another sample of my embroidery pattern, Sly as a Fox, Wise as an Owl.

 It's been rather fun picking out floss colors from my rather large (and also rather tangled) stash. Perhaps sometime I'll organize it onto cute cards like these:

I also got around to putting this free pattern up on Craftsy- you might recognize it if you read my former blog.

And that sums up my embroidery day.
xo CBB

Friday, January 17, 2014

A Book

Hmm, this pattern felt a little like writing a book--perhaps it's the 22 pattern pieces, or maybe all those diagrams for each step--either way, I'm keeping up with releasing a new pattern each day!

This time I made a pattern for my quiet book--a definite Nifty Kidstuff customer favorite and perhaps one of the more time intensive things I've chosen to produce. Also one of the most fun! Especially if you like applique and figuring out just the right bit of fabric for this and that (I do). Now you too can make this book using my new pattern!

xo CBB

Thursday, January 16, 2014

A New Pattern in Store

The pattern of the day today is....

Goldilocks & the Three Bears finger puppets! I can't tell you how many finger puppets I have stitched in the past couple years but my guess is over 1000. They are a fun and quick sewing project (perfect if you like a little instant gratification from your sewing). Again, you can find it in my craftsy store or in my own shop.

Happy crafting!
xo CBB

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

How-to: Improvisational Patchwork

In the fall I moved into a new (bigger apartment) which meant I got to have a bigger bed which then meant I needed to make a quilt. I started this project back in November and come back to it every so often. Right now I have just over half of the 56 squares pieced together. Today I'm going to share my method for making this quilt. If you feel intimidated by precise measurements and exact cutting---then this technique is for you! It's really quite fun to make it up as you go along AND there isn't much math involved.


 To start cut out a bunch of strips from the fabrics of your choice. I chose some neutrals, some accent colors, some solids, some prints, and cut them in varying widths from 1"-3" wide. I used my rotary cutter to do this but you can certainly use scissors (it just might take a little longer). Then I cut squares and rectangles anywhere from 3" to 6" in size that make up the centers of my blocks. Nothing has to be exact or perfectly square, which makes it a lot less tedious than most quilts.

 Now it's time to start sewing! I set up my machine to stitch 1/4" away from the edge of my presser foot and thread it with a neutral colored thread. Then I take my center block (right side facing up) and place one of my strips (right side of fabric down) and align the two strips at the corner. Then I stitch down the edge of my center square.

After stitching, I use my scissors to trim the strip to be the same length as the center.

 Then I press the seams open using my iron.

 You end up with a little something like this!

 Now it's time to repeat the process on the opposite side of the square. Again, lining up the center and the strip and stitching 1/4" away from the edge.

Trim and press and you've now got something that looks like this!

 Now you're on to the third side of your center piece. Again, stitching the strip down the edge(be mindful that your pressed open seams get stitched that way as you go). Then trim and press once more!

Just one more side to go! Repeat the same process of stitching, trimming, and pressing.

For the fourth side I used a slightly wider strip of the same fabric. You can mix up the widths of your fabric on each side or keep them all the same.

Ta-da! You now have a square with a border around it! Continue these steps to add more borders until you have a block that is your desired size. For my quilt I am making all of my blocks 12.5". I find it helpful to make them a little bigger and then trim down to the size I want. As you are making it is helpful to have a ruler handy so you know when it's getting close to your finished size. In total for my queen size quilt I will make 56 blocks (so that I will have 8 rows of 7 blocks). You can make your blocks any size you might want, however, and adjust this technique for any size quilt.

 It is also fun to mix up the fabrics a bit as I go to create more interest. Sometimes I use prints and solids of the same color in the same border. then sometimes I use four different fabrics in a border. It is fun to experiment as you go along--never quite knowing when you start a square how it will look in the end!

Happy improvisational stitching!

xo CBB

p.s. you can also find this tutorial over in my Craftsy shop as a free PDF printable download here

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Writing Patterns

When I relaunched my website last week, one little section wasn't quite finished: patterns. I've decided that I quite like the idea of writing patterns to sell instead of trying to be a one person sweatshop and crank out a million and one handmade toys. So instead I'm shifting my focus to spreading a little knowledge and craftiness by offering patterns through my shop. Right now there are three of them: two for sewing and one for embroidery. I'm making them available both in my big cartel shop and on Craftsy. They are for personal use only but I am thinking that in the future I will offer a cottage industry license to small time crafters who wish to sell what they make from my patterns. Exciting stuff.
I have the rather ambitious goal of adding one new pattern a day to my shop this week--hopefully I can make that happen! What would you like to see a pattern for?
xo CBB

p.s. if you're ever interested in pattern testing email me at caitlinbetsybell(at)gmail(dot)com--I'll give you a free copy to test out!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

A Fresh Start

caitlin betsy bell blog
Full Disclosure: I've blogged before. In fact, you can see my former escapades in the blog-o-sphere here. So, why might you ask, am I making a fresh start here instead? Mainly because things have changed. I have a NEW site, a NEW branding, and a NEW plan of action for my creative business. Also, I sort of fell off the horse in regular blogging oh about a year ago---and sometimes it is just better to start over than to try and pick up where you left off when it seems as though anything and everything has happened in the year since. I feel like I'm ready to move forward with my business after taking time to step back, reflect, and work another job full time while I decided what the next step entailed. And it just so happens that right now is just the time for me to take the plunge and get back into my routine of maker--creator--blogger--designer--advertiser--accountant--shipping dept--and all the many other hats you wear as a business owner. I look forward to what this New Year will bring!

xo CBB
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