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Friday, 31 August 2012

Folksy Friday: Music

It's amazing what you can do with an old piece of sheet music...

Each of these items has been handmade and is for sale on Folksy. Click on the pictures to find out more.

Music envelopes
Vintage music mini bunting
Grace and Favour Home
Music covered diary
say it
Music dogs birthday cards
Sugden and Daughters
Wood warbler gocco print
Feathered paper lamp shade
Naturally Heartfelt
Letters wedding display
Roseberry Boutique
Sheet music notebook
say it
Happy notes birthday card
Nikel cards
Paper beads
Gillian McMurray

Monday, 27 August 2012

10 tips for craft blog topics

So, you've got a blog, but what on earth do you write about?!

I've had several comments on my blog from others wanting to start their own little craft blog but being too unsure of what to talk about. It's all very well making it look pretty (have you seen our tutorials?) but you will need some content. Well, I never seem to be stuck for ideas so I thought I'd share a few.

Here are my top ten ideas for what to write about on a craft blog:

1. Write about things you've made. Tell people a little bit about the items, where your inspiration came from, how you got started making them etc. Include a few pics of finished items. And don't forget to tell people where they can buy them.

2. Blog about things you like. Find things other people have made, or things that give you inspiration, and share photos of them.

3. Join in with Folksy Fridays and Etsy Treasuries. Choose a theme (e.g. yellow or elephants) and take a look on Folksy / Etsy to find items that you like fitting that theme. If you let people know that you've featured one of their items they often come and take a look - it's a great way to gather new readers who've not seen your blog before. Ello Design regularly does a Folksy Friday post, and sometimes features Etsy Treasuries too.

4. Come up with another original way to showcase handmade talent. Find a way to feature some of the sellers you admire. I do folksy five posts to share my favourite folksy shops. Inspiral Silver has a series of posts called Two for Tuesday. Bread and Jam do a monthly Focus on Folksy. Get your thinking caps on!

5. Share what you've been learning. Maybe you've tried a new craft - tell people how it went, share some tips for if they want to give it a go too. Or perhaps you've learnt something about running a little craft shop - show people how to set up a facebook business page, give some tips for using twitter, write about the nightmare you had with your tax return and help others avoid getting into the same muddle.

8. If you're good at making something, write a tutorial. Or link to others' tutorials that you have found helpful.  It's great to include lots of pictures showing each step of the process, as well as the finished product. Span's Studio has some great tutorials, and shows how they don't need to be long and complicated, just enough to give people ideas.

7. Blog about your favourite supplies shops. Where are your top places to go to for buying the best buttons / ribbon / paper / beads / ink etc.

8. Add something a little bit different. What did you do at the weekend? What's your favourite recipe? Blog about little bits of your life as well as your craft. Helen Limbrick is great at this.

9. Tell your readers about your favourite blogs / websites. If you've been reading something interesting let others know about it. You could do this as and when you find things you like, or collect them up and do a post with a monthly round up of what you've been reading. Handmade by Emily does a regular 'link love' feature, sharing some of her finds.

10. Talk about events you've got coming up. If you're off to a craft fair let your blog followers know when and where it is as there may be someone local who wants to pop in and meet you. Or perhaps you're going to launch a new range of products, or have a special offer or a sale. Tell your readers what you've got coming up; let them be the first to know about any exciting events you have on the horizon.

I hope that gives you some ideas. If you've just started a blog, leave a comment to let me know and I'll pop over for a nosy.

One of the best ways of gaining further ideas for what to write about is to read other people's blogs and see what they write about. I've linked this post in to Handmade Monday, and there is a fab collection of craft blogs up there for you to browse.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Folksy Five #7

Many thanks to everyone who has nominated Folksy shops for the next folksy five post. I've had a great time browsing new shops I've not seen before. I'm very excited that for folksy five #8  I get to show you some of the nominated best folksy shops.

But that's two weeks time, so back to today. I've got five wonderful shops to show you today, some of which I've been a fan of for quite a while.

Your name: Kate

Shop name: Buttercup Boutique

Describe the items you make in 3 words: Unique textile accessories

How long have you been selling on Folksy: Almost 3 years

What materials or resources do you use most of: I mainly use felt and add details with pretty floral print fabrics. Liberty designs are a big favourite that I can never resist!

What are your 3 favourite items from your shop:

Your name: Jenny Greenslade and Liz Maggs (twin sisters from Bristol)

Shop name: Little Red Robin

Describe the items you make in 3 words: Rustic, quirky, metal 

How long have you been selling on Folksy: One year and a half

What's your top tip for someone selling on Folksy: Have good shop name and branding image i.e banner matches colours in packaging you have and business cards and we always put in red heart confetti or silver stars in our organza bags for extra special touch for a gift that people will remember and have original unique items not easily available elsewhere.

What are your 3 favourite items from your shop:

Your name: Kate

Shop name: Kate Bowles

Describe the items you make in 3 words: hand-bound books

How long have you been selling on Folksy: A little over 2 years

What materials or resources do you use most of: I'm a bit of a scavenger so I use pretty much anything I can my hands on: recycled papers and fabrics, waxed linen thread, a bone folder, a beautiful cast iron book press .... oh ... and I have a bit of thing for vintage haberdashery ephemera.

What are your 3 favourite items from your shop:

Your name: Anna

Shop name: Anna King Jewellery

Describe the items you make in 3 words: A jewellery rainbow 

How long have you been selling on Folksy: Around 18 months

What’s your top tip for someone selling on Folksy: Over the last few months, I have really worked on my titles and descriptions. The majority of my customers are new to Folksy. I like to think that they find me through search engines. Having descriptive titles and putting the important information at the beginning of your descriptions can really help with visibility in searches.

What are your 3 favourite items from your shop:

Your name: Milly

Shop name: Milliemishmash

Describe the items you make in 3 words: Colourful fun textiles 

How long have you been selling on Folksy: Since the end of 2010

What materials or resources do you use most of: Lightweight, colourful, patterned cottons, particularly I work with Amy Butler and Joel Dewberry fabrics as both designers generously allow people to make stuff with their fabric and sell it on.

What are your 3 favourite items from your shop:

And their favourite items from the say it shop are:

Munich sheet music notebook chosen by Little Red Robin
Naxos map birthday card chosen by Anna King Jewellery
Ottawa personalised
notebook chosen by
Skiddaw button magnets
chosen by Buttercup Boutique
Prague wedding card
chosen by Kate Bowles

Friday, 17 August 2012

Folksy Friday - The Owl and the Pussycat

When I was little, one of my favourite rhymes was the owl and the pussycat. My Dad used to recite it to me before I went to bed. I still love nonsense rhymes and the owl and pussycat remains one of the best, closely followed by several other Edward Lear poems. So continuing on the theme of my favourite things, this week I looked on Folksy to find some fabulous handmade gifts inspired by the owl and the pussycat.

Caroline Rose Art
CecilyMae Handmade
The Yellow House
With Hugs and Kisses

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

A few more blogger tutorials

Last week I wrote a post about how to set up a blog, and I promised that I would add a few more tutorials this week to help you jazz up your new blog a bit.

So here are some things that you might like to do. Clicking on the links will take you to the posts I've written about each topic.

Add pages to your blog - like tabs along the top

Add 'you might also like' suggested posts to the end of each post

Add a slideshow of items from your shop

See how many people have viewed your blog

Let me know how you get on. And feel free to ask if you've got any questions.

Next week I'll be sharing some suggestions for things you could blog about.

Monday, 13 August 2012

Making a covered footstool

Something a little bit different from me today. This weekend I finally finished covering a footstool, a project that I started nearly a year ago...!

When we bought our sofa and chairs my husband really wanted a footstool to go with them, but we have a small living room and the ones that went with the suite we had chosen were pretty large (and expensive). A kind friend from church had given him an old footstool that was just perfect, but very old fashioned. So I rashly promised him that if we bought some of the fabric to match the chairs I would cover the footstool for him. Well the old green embroidered footstool has sat in our living room for the last year, with a pile of neatly folded fabric, waiting for me to work some magic.

I have a GCSE in textiles but my project was a teddy bear in a pair of dungarees, so it wasn't much preparation for covering a footstool. However, at least I had a sewing machine and knew how to work it! And after several hours of unpicking stitching that had gone wrong, desperately trying to sew in a circle and hand stitching the bottom on, I'm very proud to say that I managed it.

The trick, I discovered, was to pin the fabric around the footstool so that it was tight and I knew exactly where to sew. I sewed the two ends of the long rectangle together first to go round the side, then put this on the footstool inside out and laid a large circle of fabric over the top, upside down, so that I had the back of the fabric showing. Once again I pinned the fabric together whilst it was on the footstool so I knew it would be a perfect fit (then spent half an hour trying to get the footstool out the middle... it may have been a little too tightly pinned!). I sewed round the top in a (sort of) circle, trimmed the seams and turned it out the right way. I popped the cover on the footstool, turned it upside down, laid another circle of fabric over the top and tucked the edges in all the way round. Then I spent a fun few hours hand stitching the bottom on. I finished last night whilst watching the Olympic closing ceremony. 

Whoop! I think it looks really good. It's not perfect, but it's good enough for us. I don't think upholstery is really for me though... 

I'm linking this post up with handmade monday again. Do pop over and take a look at what others have been making this week. Hello to fellow handmade monday-ers who have come over to see what I've made :-)

And if you're looking for the tutorials about how to set up a blog, they're here. And more coming this week as promised! 

Friday, 10 August 2012

How to set up a blog

My husband often comments "you spend an awful lot of time on your blog, are you sure it's worthwhile?". The answer every time is "yes, definitely". Whilst my main aim is not to be a blogger but to make things and get people to buy them, writing a blog is very much part of that. In the last month my blog sent the most referral traffic to my folksy shop; more than facebook or craftjuice or any other form of advertising I do.

It takes a while to build up visitors and to get the hang of writing and maintaining a blog. But it's a worthwhile investment. I'm still learning lots each week and gradually improving. I'm no expert at blogging, and I'm definitely not a technical expert, but, as with everything I'm learning, I like to share it as I go along so that others who are one step behind me can benefit.

I've heard a lot from people who see the value in blogging and are keen to start but just don't know what to write about. They have their little blog set up and two weeks in they're totally stumped as to what they're meant to be writing. I don't seem to struggle for ideas, so I've got a blog post already written to hopefully inspire you to start blogging, sharing lots of different things that you could write about on a craft blog. However, I'm going to wait a couple of weeks until I share this because I have discovered a more fundamental problem - actually setting up the blog in the first place. I saw a cry for help on the Folksy forums  from sew amy who makes the most gorgeous vintage notebooks, and I've decided to turn my post about blogging into a mini series

So today I'm going to start with the basics of setting up a blog and the things that are essential to getting it going. Then next week I'll post a few extra tips, and the week after that you can finally see my ideas for what to write about (sorry, you'll just have to be patient, but make sure you check back!).

Here we go. I promise to make it as basic as possible. Feel free to ask questions in the comments.

1. Take a deep breath. This won't necessarily be easy, but it will probably be easier than you think. Get yourself a mug of tea and some chocolate for encouragement.

2. Go to This is only one of many sites you can use to create a free blog, but it's the one I've always used so it's the only one I can help you with! If you have a google account, sign in. If not, sign up.

3. Click on 'new blog' and you should get something that looks like this:

Enter a title for your blog. If you want to use it to drive visitors to your shop I suggest the title is something that connects with your shop. Next, enter a web address. This is what people will type into their browser to reach your blog. It will be Choose wisely! The little tick besides the box shows you whether the address is available or not. You can't have the same address as someone else, it needs to be unique. If your first choice isn't available, try again. 

Then you need to pick a template. You can change this later so don't worry too much, just pick one. I'd probably go for 'simple'. Press create blog. You now have a blog! 

4. It should take you to your dashboard automatically. Here's mine. 

For the purposes of writing this post I'm setting up a new blog, so I'm following each step along with you. My new blog is called 'say it on a blog'. Click on your blog title to enter your blog. It takes you to the overview page. This will be a really handy page once you get going because you can see at a glance how many posts you've written, the number of people who have viewed your blog, and if you've got any comments.

Take a look at the menu on the left hand side.

This lets you do everything you need to do. New post creates a new post for you. Overview is the page you're on at the moment. Posts gives a list of all the posts you've written. Skip a few (and don't panic!)... layout, template and settings help you set up and design your blog. Lets start by writing a new post.

5. Click on new post. This is where you write your posts. It's a bit like using word. Along the top are all the buttons for formatting your writing, e.g. making it bold or changing the size of the font. If you can use word you can write a blog post. But for now, just fill the text box with a few paragraphs of gobbledygook and make up a title. (Don't worry, we'll delete it later). Then click publish. This is just so you can see what a post will look like on your new blog. Yes, you have a blog!

It takes you to a list of your posts, and you'll see that you have one post. If you hover over this post you can click on edit, view or delete. (See, I told you there would be a way of getting rid of the gobbledygook later!). You can click on view if you want, but there's not much to see at this stage. Click edit if you'd like to change the gobbledygook. 

6. On the left hand menu, click on template. This now gives you a larger selection of templates than you had at the start. If you see one you like better, click on it and select 'apply to blog'. I've gone for the simple template on the furthest right, the white one. Scroll back to the top and click on 'customise' under the preview of what's live on your blog. 

Now it shows you what your blog looks like. This is why it was helpful to add a post, so you get an idea of how they will look. Note how you have the title of your blog at the top, then your post underneath with a date and header. This is what mine looks like:

Top left of your page there should be another menu, different to the usual one. This is because you are in template mode. If at any time you want to get back to the normal menu, just click the 'back to blogger' button on the top right. The first item on the template menu allows you to change the template of your blog. Go ahead and change it again if you want. 

7. The second item on the template menu lets you change the background. If you click the drop down box next to background image it pulls up a vast number of backgrounds for you to choose from.

Click on a thumbnail and you get to see a preview of it on your new blog. Find one you like and click 'apply'. You can come back and change it at any time. You can even upload your own image. Click on 'apply to blog' in the top right hand corner.

8. Click on the fourth item in the template menu, 'layout'. This lets you choose how many columns you want on your blog. You could just have one big column for your posts, or some columns either side for you to add other things. Take a look at a few of your favourite blogs and see what they've got. It's your choice. Click on the thumbnail of the layout you want, then click 'apply to blog' in the top right hand corner. You can also choose a footer layout for the very bottom of your blog.

9. Click on the third item in the template menu 'adjust widths'. This allows you to change the width of your blog and the side bars. Have a play. It's a bit difficult without much content, so it might be something you want to come back to later.

10. Click on the last item on the template menu 'advanced'. We're not going to do anything very advanced, just change a few fonts and colours.

Lets start with page text. This is the text your post is written in. Change the font and colours to find something you like, but try to keep it nice and clear and readable. 

Backgrounds lets you change the colours of different parts of your page. Try them out to see which areas they colour. If you want to make a change to the new colours click 'apply to blog', if it's all gone hideous simply click on 'clear advanced changes to background' and it will put you back to where you were. 

We won't go through everything in this menu, just the main things. But if you're looking at your blog thinking "I wish that was a different colour" this is the place to come back to. Select blog title to change the font and colour of your title; post title to change the font of your post title. I'd suggest keeping it simple and using only one or two fonts and colours. 

Once you're happy, click 'apply to blog', then 'back to blogger'. 

11. Back to the normal left hand menu, click on 'settings' right at the bottom. Most of the settings will be fine, just a few things to check. Make sure you click 'save settings' in the top right corner after each change you make. 
  • On the first screen by privacy, make sure it says 'Listed on Blogger. Visible to search engines' - this means that your blog is public and people can find it. 
  • On the second screen take a look at the options under comments - choose who you want to be able to leave a comment, and if you want to moderate the comments before they appear on your blog.
  • On the fourth screen, language and formatting, change the timezone (otherwise it will look like you're posting in the middle of the night!). 

You now have a customised blog. Your layout, your styles, your colours. Click on view blog at the top and take a look. Then give yourself a pat on the back. 

There is so much you can do to change the way your blog looks and functions. But lets take it slowly. I think the top 3 things to get sorted next are:

When you're ready click on one of these things and follow the tutorial. Then come back here and try another. 

The final thing you need to do is write your first post. Go to your list of posts, delete your gobbledygook post (see point 5 above), then click on new post. Off you go. Write whatever you want. How about starting with a hello and welcome to your brand new blog? 

Want to know what all the buttons at the top do? Click here to find out

That's it, you're done. This is all I consider to be essential. I hope you found it helpful. Got stuck somewhere? No problem, leave a comment below and I'll try to help you out if I can. Next week I'll show you how to add some more features. [EDIT, extra tutorials now available]
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