Sunday, September 14, 2014

A Fabulous Fall Craftastic Monday Link Party


Happy Craftastic Monday Everyone!  The weather around here is definitely feeling like Fall. It dropped from high seventies to mid-fifties a few days ago.  This new chill in the air has gotten me sewing up some cozy new wearables for the cooler days that are sticking around.  I've also been thinking about some new things I'd like to try out here at Sew Can Do that might bring back some of the old school blog fun before the days of Pinterest, social media and the crazy quest for perfection that's become the norm everywhere.  I'll be sharing one of my ideas - and the results of a new pattern I tried - later this week, so stay tuned!

And in giveaway news, it's time to announce the winner of the Groovy Lab in a Box Giveaway:
Tiffany D.

Congratulations Tiffany and I hope you have fun with this kit!  And big thank you to Groovy Lab in a Box for providing this fantastic prize.
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Get some FREE advertising for your blog/crafty shop!

After linking your latest project posts below, head over to the Sew Can Do Facebook page to join in the Craftastic Monday Mixer.  It's a way to let even more people see your site or its FB page and find some new sites you might love at the same time.


How It Works:
Instead of a specific post, share your blog, crafty shop or Facebook page link on the Sew Can Do FB page.  More exposure for your crafty site every week!  Click HERE to go link up now!
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Now let's see some Craftastic picks..

About Family Crafts transformed a thrifted dresser into a charming dress-up armoire:


These mini piñatas from Woods of Bell Trees were super cute and fun:


A Time For Seasons shared these fun Fall coasters:


And Pink Recipe Box showed this tasty rosé sangria recipe:


If you're one of this week's features, be sure to grab my Featured On button over on my Buttons Page to share the good news.  

I also feature these projects on Sew Can Do's Craftastic Picks Pinterest board 
AND share each of them on Twitter too for even MORE exposure!

Follow me there to see more great projects (and see if yours is one of them)!   
  
Follow Me on Pinterest



Ready to link up your crafty creations?


 
Party rules are simple:
  • As long as it's crafty, and made by you, it's Craftastic (no links to giveaways, shops, link parties or other people's work).  Add the link to your specific post (not the main page of your blog).
  • Grab my party button & put it on your post or blog somewhere.  The code can be found HERE.
  • Check out some of the other fabulous links and share some crafty comment love.  We all love getting comments!!



   

    An InLinkz Link-up
   

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Our More Fun, Less To Craft, My Little Pony Party

My daughter recently turned 5 and asked if we could do a My Little Pony theme for her birthday.  To say she's obsessed with My Little Pony is an understatement, so it wasn't a big surprise.  And I'll be honest, I was relieved it was something I could easily find party gear for around our house and at most party supply stores.  For the past 4 years I went into crazy mommy crafter mode for each birthday.  I'd come up with themes that required elaborate DIY'd decorations, fanciful favors, making the cake myself and sewn-by-me matching birthday attire (you can click on any of them to see the level of insanity detail I went to):

  
  

Sure the planning was fun and it felt great to say I'd made it all, but it also meant I had to make it all.  And that was exhausting.  Truthfully, kids don't notice - or care - that you spent hours handcrafting an entire party.  Most of the adults attending don't either.  Have some general party decor, a cake & some activities and they're happy.  Usually it's just other crafters who really notice all the small, labor intensive details, so who are you really killing yourself for in DIY-ing a party?  Complete strangers? That's CRAZY.  

So I vowed this year would be fun to put together & not require weeks of preparation. As I mentioned in last week's confessional post, in an effort to be less stressed and more fun, I've been scaling back my crafting & blogging efforts.  Trying to keep things more real life and enjoyable and less of the popular "look at how magazine perfect what I'm doing looks, despite killing myself while pretending it's effortless" blog style. Let's get real - who's got spare time to maintain that faux perfection ?  I know I certainly don't!


Now my "Keep it Fun, Not Crazy" party strategy:

Since ours was just an extended family party, emailing invitations was cheap, easy to send and didn't require my horrible handwriting to be on display (seriously - even when I try to write neatly it looks atrocious and illegible).  I did a quick online search for some My Little Pony images with a transparent background and used those + a free Equestria font download to make this digital invite with PicMonkey in about an hour and for free:   



Decorating-wise, I let the party store do most of the work - there were tons of MLP-themed and matching solid colored paper products.  I didn't spend hours picking stuff out either - just grabbed it all in one go.  I've seen a lot of custom My Little Pony parties online, but kind of scratch my head at why you'd spend hours of time hand-adding pony cutouts or stickers to paper products or pay $$$ for custom printables when there's tons of cute MLP stuff already available for just a couple of bucks at every party place.  Add in a yard of MLP-themed cotton I'd found at Jo-Ann Stores (but hadn't used yet), and we were fine for table decor:



Our big splurge was ordering a couple of themed standees from an online party place.  I was just going to get one, but the husband convinced me to get both Princess Celestia (her fave) and the Canterlot Castle.  I did have a coupon code to keep it reasonable and since the kids play ponies around here on a daily basis, it's not like they'd only get the one-time use.  My daughter actually gasped in awe when she saw them outside.  Since the party, we've flattened the stands on the back so they fit against the wall in her room for double decorating duty.  She loves having them next to her bed.  Tacking the $7 pin-the-cutie-mark game poster to some cardboard on an easel added extra big scale pony flair with minimal price/effort too:



My little miss picked out her ensemble from her already accumulated pony-themed attire. Even her footwear was pony-tastic (the My Little Pony socks were found in the $1 bin at Michael's, shoes we found at Journey's Kidz months ago for under $25):



I'd made her some pony bows last year, so those topped off her all-My Little Pony appearance without me having to put anything new together:



I'd always made her special occasion cakes/cupcakes, so I figured I'd treat us both to the ease and loveliness of a local bakery cake this time around.  It made turning 5 a little more special:  


Cake by Sorella's Bakery, MI

I covered a cardboard box in pink wrapping paper about 15 minutes before the party to make a quick stand for the cake.  This also meant cutting the cake was less messy since I could just toss the paper out after and added the bonus of not getting frosting all over our pony fabric.  I told the bakery we wanted two layers, a rainbow and some flowers & clouds and they came up with this beautiful design.  It was a delicious as it looked too:



I will take credit for the idea of using some of her mini figure collection as pony props on the cake. The bakery sprayed them with a bit of shimmer to make them look more magical and also added some surprise hard sugar butterflies to the sides:



Normally I'd be freaking out about trying to perfectly decorate a cake hours before the party, so it was nice to be able to just unveil it and enjoy how great it tasted.  


I saw this unicorn sprinkle holder on Amazon and thought it would be fun as a decoration and for the kids & cousins to shake on a little extra pony magic to their cake slices.  I justified to myself that getting it would help lure them to act as helpers more often and, by extension, get me to bake more....the jury's still out on if that'll actually happen, but rainbow unicorn looks cute on my baking stuff shelf:


Activity-wise we did a little pin-the-cutie mark on Pinkie Pie (ready to use from the store). Even the adults participated, but for the sake of staying on speaking terms with my relatives I'm not including those pics:


We also did "Guess how many mini figures?".  I have to say I was a little shocked at how many I counted in here...and that we still had more left even when it was full:



I think the MLP piñata was one of the things I liked best.  We found that in the My Little Pony section of the party store with all the other themed paper products.  I was also very relieved it had pull strings at the bottom instead of the usual bat-the-heck out of it until it breaks way to open it. Assault & battery of one of her favorite ponies would have been more traumatizing than entertaining. 


My husband came up with the clever idea of stringing it through some plastic pipe we had in the garage.  He was able to bob it around a bit for the older kids so it was more of a challenge:


The main "crafty bit" I did for the party was to make some pony soaps for the goody bags using the silicone molds from my DIY Soap Painting post.  Melt & pour soap is ideal because it only takes a few minutes to make - I just had to do a few small batches since I only had 2 pony molds.  I didn't do the detail painting this time, but I did represent the colors of the Mane Six ponies Twilight Sparkle, Rainbow Dash, Fluttershy, Pinkie Pie, Apple Jack and Rarity:



The other goodies were easy mints, tattoos and unicorn horn suckers.  Again, bought with the other stuff in my single visit to the party supply store:




And since she's a mega Celestia fan, we got her the new Rainbow Shimmer™ Princess Celestia snowglobe pony as her main gift.  I'd seen this on a My Little Pony fan site from the big NY toy fair earlier this year and thought it was so cool.  There was no estimate on when it would be available in stores, so I was thrilled to find a prototype for sale on eBay.  I'm usually pretty skeptical about that sort of thing being legit, but I just went for it.  It was definitely worth it - even husband & I were wowed by its sparkle + water-filled interior and it was pretty neat to have something before it was even in stores.  We also got the Princess Luna version but I couldn't wrestle both away from her pony pile for quick photo.  


The funny thing is that is party was just as fun as the ones I slaved over and probably cost about the same. Everyone had a great time and the birthday girl loved her party & all her pony presents.  It felt so good to give her a great party AND be able to enjoy it myself for a change!





Sunday, September 7, 2014

A September Craftastic Monday Link Party & Thanks to My Readers


Happy Craftastic Monday Everyone!  I wanted to start off with a very heartfelt thanks to fantasticly positive response to my last post, Why I'm Quitting The Craft Blog Rat Race:


It was heartwarming to see so many comments and how they echoed similar feelings & goals.  I'm truly grateful and proud to have readers like you. Knowing you're just as eager to take craft blogging into a more fun, less stressful direction is a wonderful feeling and makes me excited for this new chapter of Sew Can Do:) 

And a quick reminder that today's the last day to enter my Groovy Lab in a Box Giveaway.   This crafty kid's activity set is a fun & interesting way to get kids interested in STEM and getting back to school - my 3 kiddies highly recommend it!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Grab FREE advertising for your blog/crafty shop!

After linking your latest project posts below, head over to the Sew Can Do Facebook page to join in the Craftastic Monday Mixer.  It's a way to let even more people see your site or its FB page and find some new sites you might love at the same time.


How It Works:
Instead of a specific post, share your blog, crafty shop or Facebook page link on the Sew Can Do FB page.  More exposure for your crafty site every week!  Click HERE to go link up now!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Now let's see some Craftastic picks..

Little Monkeys Crochet shared this cute sock monkey hat pattern she created:


I love the look of these half circle pockets on the FREE Retro Reproduction dress pattern from I Sew, You Sew:


Appetizer for a Crafty Mind shared her own spin on a cute, rainbow unicorn crochet hat:


Beneath The Rowan Tree showed the right (and wrong) ways to make some yummy & colorful rock candy -  a great how-to for first timers!


And Sadie Seasongoods wowed me with two fantastic tutorials - how to make a baluster into a bedside lamp:




If you're one of this week's features, be sure to grab my Featured On button over on my Buttons Page to share the good news.  

I also feature these projects on Sew Can Do's Craftastic Picks Pinterest board 
AND share each of them on Twitter too for even MORE exposure!

Follow me there to see more great projects (and see if yours is one of them)!   
  
Follow Me on Pinterest



Ready to link up your crafty creations?


 
Party rules are simple:
  • As long as it's crafty, and made by you, it's Craftastic (no links to giveaways, shops, link parties or other people's work).  Add the link to your specific post (not the main page of your blog).
  • Grab my party button & put it on your post or blog somewhere.  The code can be found HERE.
  • Check out some of the other fabulous links and share some crafty comment love.  We all love getting comments!!



   

    An InLinkz Link-up
   

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Why I'm Quitting The Craft Blog Rat Race




With Sew Can Do's anniversary coming up this month, I've been thinking about all that's happened with this blog in that time.  Being sick a lot this summer and having a lot of real life things taking up my usual "blog work" time has given me a new perspective on crafting and what I want for Sew Can Do.  I've realized it's time for me to change what I do here, so it makes sense to explain this new direction and why I hope you'll join me.

6 years ago I was just learning to sew my very first pair of pajama pants.  I had no aspirations other than to take one project at a time and see if it actually turned out. There were maybe a hundred craft-related blogs out there and they were a lot like mine. Mainly on-line journals of people learning new skills, showing things they made and sharing ideas & tips you couldn't find in a book or class.  We were looking for others who enjoyed the same creative kinds of things & shared our enthusiasm.  It felt like a community where you could comment on someone's post or ask a question and discover a kindred spirit miles away.  No one had custom styled graphics.  Photos weren't expertly taken and real, lived-in looking homes, kid's toys & other clutter were usually in the background.  I felt really connected to people who read my blog and the people writing the blogs I enjoyed.



Then blogs got bigger.  Making fun crafts wasn't enough.  Having a lot of followers became a measure of how great a blog was and everyone wanted to get noticed.  Expertly styled sites and 100% magazine perfect looking projects in every photo became really important. Social media exploded and every crafty blog needed to have a presence on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest & all the rest.  Professional craft bloggers became a thing and sponsored posts & affiliates started making up a good portion of content everywhere. And not just for other small crafter shops, but big brands - many having nothing to do with crafts.  Popular blogs started doling out advice on "How to make your blog/photos/page views better" and "Why you need a media kit".  This was coupled with constant talk about key conferences & shows to promote your brand and the need to network with craft corporations. Thousands more crafty blogs popped left & right with thoughts that they too could be like the big success blogs and quit their day jobs, get book or sponsorship deals and being paid to craft it up.  The pressure to change, improve and constantly be trying to do more became immense.  



On a personal level, there were a lot of positives from the extra work & effort.  I learned some new skills like basic graphic design & photography.  A lot of things I'd never dreamed of, like having a business selling my own creations & patterns, getting published and going from newbie crafter to being an actual freelance designer, came out of all the growth and change. And the new ways to keep up with things online helped me discover many tremendously talented people.  All of which has been amazing and appreciated. 


But with all the great things comes a price.  Suddenly deadlines, outside expectations & full marketing campaigns are part of every project instead of just making something because you feel like it.  Taking the time to come up with something, make it and write about it isn't enough - it's got to have beautifully staged vignette photos, copyright info, precise instructions and shared on 5 kinds of social media for any hope of it to getting more than a quick glance click or maybe be pinned so it can be forgotten 2 seconds later.  More things to do means more time doing work and less time being creative or being a real person with a family.  Staring at a computer screen for hours every day is part of the blogging "job", but when you work out the hourly rate for any paid work, you'd make twice as much bagging groceries.   It brought back the feelings I had when I used to have papers to write in school & my last 9 to 5 office job.  It sucked the fun right out. Crafting became work and I'd dread when it was time to work on a project instead of being excited.  

And the volume of craft stuff thrown at us online everywhere has left me what I call Craftatonic:



This happens whenever I take more than 5 minutes to look at my feeds or get on Pinterest. That feeling of never being able to keep up, have enough time or that every idea is already out there.  Oh Pinterest, I love your concept, yet hate you for taking over the internet.

So, I've decided to quit the craft blog rat race and not let the the numbers game of page views, social media fans or clicks per post affect what I want to work on...or not work on. I'm going to start doing things a bit different than the rest:


Make Crafting Itself More Fun.  Life's about the journey, not the finish right? Is anyone really going to put "Had the most repins" or "Was a big craft blogger" on their tombstone? Should we even care?  Let's make the process of crafting the most fun part - creating and feeling creative should be why we do it not for page views.  For me this may mean I show less of certain types of projects or more of others - depending how the mood strikes.  Right now I'm thinking about getting back into soapmaking, doing more whimsical sewing and trying out some new stuff all together.  I'm not 100% sure - I'm going to see where things take me. New tutorials may take longer in coming, but it'll be because they're more interesting and made with more enjoyment.  



Thinking Small Time and Old School.  I miss the conversational feel and thought sharing back when commenting really was the social media for blogs. I'd like to share more and ask you to share back.  Things like crafting tips & ideas, challenges faced, what stuff we're liking (or not), what we'd like to try next, etc.  That individual connection is worth so much more and more inspiring than 1,000 anonymous, forgotten in 10 seconds, pins!



Keepin' It Real.  I'm going to keep my photo taking & content writing time to a minimum with a more "yes there's a messy house in the background" kinda feel because real people don't have 8hrs a day to work on stuff to be perfect.  And you're not going to hear how AMAZING something is because I got paid to make a project with it or write a post about it. The products or places you see here are things I genuinely like, buy and support.  And they'll be related to crafting and/or homeschooling (who wants to read the 1,000th "this cutting machine is awesome" paid review posted in one day or about store bought pudding cups or mouthwash on a craft blog!?!). And I'm going to tell you when something was a pain in the butt to make or took a huge amount of time.    
 
Staying Craftastic.  No worries about the Craftastic Monday Link Party & Craftastic Facebook Mixer changing or disappearing.  They'll still be going strong:)

Sure one day I'd still love to have my own fabric designs manufactured, or finally publish a book of my whimsical hat patterns (the finished book proposal has been on my desktop for a year), I just don't need to do it all right NOW. I don't want to miss enjoying today's small creative joys for lofty goals for tomorrow.  I want to make stuff that brings a smile to my face, not a sigh that it's 2am and I'm still on the freaking computer writing a blog post or rush to finish something by a campaign launch date or a company's insane deadline.  I want to get a good night's sleep. Have time to play with the kids a bit before they're 18.  Some time to do laundry & clean more...(well maybe not much more cleaning). 

I hope you'll join me in quitting the craft race, enjoying being creative more and putting fun into the Sew Can Do adventure together:)



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