Store Front Meet Up: Secrets Learned

Store Front Meet Up at Blue Bird Sews

Did I get your attention with that title? I hope so! I love a good secret. But when it comes to selling on line there really are no secrets - all the info you need to know is out there waiting to be read, gleaned and discovered. But still having a successful shop seems so elusive. So to break through that barrier here are the secrets I've learned this month.

Last month I wrote about the books I've been reading and the stewing I was doing about selling handmade online. Well that stewing lead to some action with results. Let me tell you what I did and what is working for me so far. I like lists so let's do it that way!

  • Retake photos. When you go onto Etsy's front page what do you notice about the photos? White, sharp & style. I tried to emulate that in my photos - but I've still got work to do. Photo checklist? Okay!
    • First photo, a grabber - white back ground for sure
    • Another white background shot the close up
    • Another white background shot - convey scale
    • Full front - for quilts not possible with white background so move to fence
    • Full back - on the fence
    • If you feel you don't need all 5 spots then add a custom listing button, I did!
  • Re-write listings - 
    • Use Key Words! So important to write listings to sellers & search engines. A great resource for finding words that work is the Google Keyword Tool. Use it often and see what hits.
    • Copy/paste function makes the nitty gritty a bit easier - and your shop more cohesive.
    • Call to action, don't be afraid to tell your buyers to put it in the basket!
  • Get Branded - I am once again bartering with a friend for marketing collateral. She's gonna be taking Blue Bird Sews (and canvas, and crayons) to the next level. Now you might not have a super awesome branding friend but Etsy has your back on that tip can buy a branding packing with avatar and header for a reasonable price. 
my feeble attempt at a banner!
Another thing to think about is holiday sales! Come on people, October is around the corner let's be real it's coming and it's coming fast. Start now to get your shop and your mind set ready. I stumbled across an amazing Etsy seller, Alissa Jacobs - she does super cute clutches and other sewn items. Here's a link to her holiday checklist for sellers - I really like the idea of taking a photo of your packaging.

So that's what Septembers check list looked like for me. And I know it's working because my page views are up from a month ago. No sales yet, but I am more optimistic than I was 2 months ago! Well see where October takes me!

Now is the part where you get free media space and a leg up on your Google searches! Did you know every link to your shop on a relevant website ups your Google ranking? Take advantage and link to your Etsy or where ever else you sell handmade crafts and services. This link up will be for 14 days, so everyone can join in - tell your friends - tweet, Facebook or email about it!


Baby Quilt Tutorial: Stretching Wonky Stars

Hello There! I have a tutorial for you today! Take one charm pack add in some solid scraps sew it up a bit wonky and ta-da - a little baby quilt! I am not the best at using pre-cuts, they tend to just hang around the studio until bam - light bulb! And that's just what happened with this little charmer.
Fabric: Summersville for Moda
Pre-cuts are a good way to buy a complete fabric line. I bought a charm pack because I knew I loved the Summersville fabric line by Moda that came out this summer (2012). The line drawings and little houses mixed with modern prints in bold primary colors needed to join the stash. The charm pack of 42 - 5" squares in all the prints and colors seemed like a good way to bring home the quilty goodness. And it was, especially once I paired it up with a bunch of solid scraps I had in complimentary colors!

But I knew I wanted something a little different than the normal patchwork quilt (typical me, can't do anything normal). So I cut a bunch of small solid squares to make a little sumpthin-sumpthin special. Once I had the blocks done I messed around with the layout and another bam - light bulb moment. Stretching wonky stars fell into place and I just knew I had to share it with you...cause I love sharing!

So how about it? A stretching wonky stars baby quilt tutorial - let's go!

Materials Needed:
1 Charm Pack - or 42 5" squares
84 squares of solid scraps (1.75" - 3" squares)
Boarder: 2 scrappy strips 3"x26.5" & 2 strips 3"x36" or 4 3" strips from 44" wide fabric
Binding: 150" 2.5" wide strips
Backing: 36"x40" solid or pieced fabric
Sewing machine, thread, rotary cutter, mat....usually quilting suspects

First step is to cut out a bunch of squares in different sizes. The different sizes is what gives this stretching star pattern it's wonky bit. Cut out 84 squares in colors that match the fabric you're using. I went with green, blue, red, grey, orange - in primary shades and colors one or two shades lighter or darker.

Once the squares have been cut it is time to sew them into the corners of the charm squares. Match up corners and pin in place; like so. 

Next mark a line with a disappearing marker or a hera marker from corner to corner of the small solid squares and sew across like shown below. A little tip for this part: make sure to sew straight across from corner to corner. Super important to getting a straight block in the end. If the corner is a little off - no problem, just unpick and do over!

Once sewn from corner to corner trim the outside triangle leaving a 1/4" seam allowance.

Next press open the seams..there you have it one block done....41 more to go!

Okay so I didn't get photos of this part; but it's easy to piece together and I'll tell you how. 

Once all the blocks have been sewn with two triangles in the corner it is time to make some wonky stars. Line up the blocks 6 rows by 7 columns with the triangles pointing in the same direction (see photo below - check out how the triangles are all pointing in the same direction). Lay out the rows and sew together, pressing seams open. Then sew the 6 rows together to make the quilt top 6 blocks wide by 7 blocks tall.

Next step is to add the boarder. I just used more scraps that I had on hand sewing them together until it was the right length for each side. I ended up with 2 strips 3"x26.5" & 2 strips 3"x36". You could also use just one color and cut out 4 - 3" strips from 44" wide fabric.

Ah, ha! Now you should have a completed little baby blanket (32"x36"). I just love the solid fabrics and the wonky star tips and the bright colors and the scrappyness of the whole thing. I do lurv it ;)I backed this quilt with a solid piece of vintage blue linen, the binding is the same. I quilted it with funky mod-pods a`la Elizabeth Hartman quilting class. Super fun and easy to do on this little quilt.

So now that I've made this fun quilt and shared it with you it's going into the Etsy shop to find a new loving home. Find the listing here.

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial and it sparks your inspiration or your mojo to get making! If you have any questions just ask! Email me bluebirdsews at


ps. I'll be sharing this tutorial all week at link parties I love, come and join the share! 

Beach Inspiration

1. Heceta Head Lighthouse - HDR, 2. Beach spade, 3. Beach Children, 4. Translucent-Oregon-Beach-Agates--img2024, 5. Beach hut - t2i 550d, 6. Beach Palm Tree
all images taken from the Flickr pool
The colors of the beach are intoxicating to me. The wide spectrum of colors range from saturated sunsets to subtly worn from the wind of the sea. Each of these pictures inspires its own color palette of a quilt, a room, a life. The worn beach doors best suits my house as it is today; blues in every room, each a different hue and the natural wood coming through in brown and tan.
Our family is headed to the Oregon Coast once again to celebrate 9 years of marriage. A 3-day weekend filled with new memories of the beginnings of our journey as two became three.

Cheers to us!

Right now I am...

Listening for a little one to awaken

Planning our long beach weekend vacation next week
Oregon: Oregon Coast
photo pinterest
Eating fresh tomatoes, squash & basil from the garden

Sewing vintage quilt tops into use able history

Thinking about a house makeover
Room View:
Thankful for being in the right place at the right time for my grandma

Working on the behind the scenes of the Etsy shop

Excited about pinning inspiration to Pinterest

Wanting to finish writing and editing a pinwheel quilt pattern
pinwheel puzzle
At Peace.

What are you doing right now? Enjoying the weekend perhaps?

ps. I should add this format comes from the lovely site who gives great inspiration

Rainbow Scrappy: Journal Covers

Have you gotten the scrappy covered journal bug that Rachel from Stitched in Color is infecting sewers with? Because I sure got it! Fabric covered composition books are fast, rewarding, useful & beautiful. Who wouldn't want them in each color of the rainbow. Or how about a rainbow scrappy version?
Yes, please you say. Well alrighty then, because you asked so nicely :)

But first a little back story! When I began making these covered journal sleeves I used a few different tutorials as I describe in this post. It worked but it wasn't very slick. I had to adjust each time and I wasn't entirely happy with it - especially not enough to post a tutorial about it. But then earlier this summer Rachel had a great how to published in Stitched magazine and then just a few short weeks ago she gave us all access to the nitty gritty how to stitch up a journal cover tutorial. And with that info I asked her if I could post my own little cover how to with a link to the final steps in making it a sleeve and she graciously agreed, cause she's cool like that.

So with that let's get started! Let's talk materials. What you'll need is:

1/4 yard linen
1 scrap of text 12"x1.5"
1 rainbow scrappy panel 7"x8"
1 composition book
Sewing machine, rotary cutter, thread - the usual sewing suspects.

Begin by creating the rainbow scrappy panel. I did this in two different way, first I used a left over panel of crazy rainbow goodness when I made the rainbow scrappy potholder. The second way I made up a panel was to take my scraps and sew them into strips in color order and all wonky. I made 3 sections 8" long and varying widths wide and then stitched those together to create a 7"x8" rainbow panel. Pretty easy, huh?
(sorry about the quality of this pic, not sure what happened here!)
Next cut out the linen pieces and one strip of text fabric...because after all this is a journal cover. You can see the measurements in the picture and here they are in a nice little list form, cause I like lists:

(1) 3.25"x12" linen
(1) 3.5"x12" linen
(1)12"x16.5" linen
(2) 2.25"x7" linen
(1) 1.5"x12" text fabric

Now that the panel is made and fabric strips cut out it's time to sew it together. First sew with a 1/4" seam allowance the skinny 12" long strips together in order and then sew the 2.25"x7" strips onto the rainbow panel.
okay, so I sewed and then flipped, but you're still with me!
Next it's just two simple 1/4" seams to join the front and back pieces. Once it's all together you've got a 12"x29.5" panel ready to be sewed up into a composition cover.
Now's the time to jump over to Rachel's tutorial and finish up this bad boy! Check it out here: Stitched in Color: Covered Journal Tutorials

Thanks so much to Rachel for sharing this with us! Stitched in Color is one of the few websites I read every time it's updated. Just love it. Hope you enjoy and if you make one, or 50 post them to her flickr group too!


ps. I'll be linking up this tutorial all week long on some great blog hops. Check out the link parties I love page for places to be.

Portland Art Museum: Inspired

Yesterday at the Portland Art Museum exhibit: California Impressionism  I was inspired. I think you might be too.

Sorry I didn't get the names of the painting or the painters. Big Boy J came with us and it was a challenge to get the shots I did! But for being a two year old boy he did a great job at the museum! And when he needed a drink of water we found a Native American exhibit, which had some beautiful Seminole patchwork. Isn't that beautiful? So vibrant!

Our museum has quite a nice standing collection as well. Here are two more random ones, an amazing still life. I swear those cherries and strawberries you could pick and eat!

And lastly a lithograph it me or does this look like a quilt waiting to happen?


Summer Bounty

Oregon summer is spilling into September; my favorite time of year. The garden is producing well with these hot summer days that turn into cool nights which hint at the autumn to come. Yellow pear tomatoes, heirloom tomatoes, eight ball squash, green summer squash, beans, ground cherries, a load of basil, two little pumpkins & a cuke or two are in the basket this week.

Luckily I have a cute little boy to help me eat it all!

How does your garden grow?
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