Posts tagged with: crafts

Decoupage Swag & More!

Conference season is coming! On top of the swag, bookmarks and business cards I like to bring, I take notes on a decoupaged clip board/notebook holder. It is fun to make and shows my covers (although now I have to update it since I’ve just had a few more books come out – yay!).



I’ve received complements and questions about my note pad, and thought I’d share how you can make one of your own to carry around at conference. You can also decoupage other things to use as swag.

Here are some simple steps for Decoupage:

1. Choose a canvas. It can be anything from a book cover to a light switch plate to a jar. If it’s your first project, you might want to stick with something flat.

2. Choose your Mod Podge. There are shiny or mat finishes.

3. Find the background. What is the underlying theme you hope to depict? Maps or music or dragonflies or even just polka dots might speak to your theme. You can use scrap book paper, napkins, tissue paper, etc. Don’t glue it down yet.

4. Find pictures or letters. You might want to check out decoupage projects on line to see what you like. Some people prefer to totally fill up their canvases. Others like to leave a lot of background showing. If cutting out letters (you can use stickers), go for dark or standout colors. Pictures can be found on line or in magazines. Also check out calendars, wrapping paper, non-valuable comic books. Really anything flat and thin can work, even fabric.

5. Arrange items on the canvas first to see if you like how it looks.

6. Glue down the background with Mod Podge. I use a wide brush to coat the canvas and lay the paper down, starting in the middle and working outward. Wrinkles can occur. Some people don’t mind wrinkles (me). For others, wrinkles can drive them crazy. Pros use a roller to try to get out all the bubbles and wrinkles.

7. Mod Podge over the background. Don’t leave puddles. Keep the coat even. Remember it dries clear.

8. Now glue on your pictures and letters. You don’t have to wait for the background to dry. Mod Podge over them.

9. Add stickers, little items or final touches. Decoupage over everything once more in an even coat. Actually you can do as many coats as you want depending on how much exposure the project will get (ie. Shoes, you’d want many coats and probably an acrylic sealer).

10. Allow to dry completely (a week probably) before stacking with other materials.

Decoupage can be an easy, cheap and fun project, which you can personalize with your book covers or brand images.

Do you decoupage? What have you created?

What you see….what they see….

mosiac chairOnce upon a time in a galaxy far, far away I was a kindergarten room mom.



And as the room mother, when the annual silent auction came around, I was in charge of gathering up donations. Oh, and making a class art project to sell at the auction. Yeah, making an art object with the children in the class. Making an art object with children in the class that was something mosaic. MOSIAC!

Feel free to feel horrified.

I was.

So as I pondered what in God’s creation I could actually do for the class mosaic project, my glance happened upon an iron chair beside the pool that had come with my house (the owner had left it). It had lovely form and if I spray painted it and ripped the ruined cowhide upholstery from the seat, I could paint it and made a new seat…a new mosaic seat. It was brilliant. Truly brilliant. So I took myself off to the local craft store, bought outdoor spray paint in a lovely ivory and a mosaic kit. After lots of cursing and breaking of stones and glass, I hauled it all down to the kiddo’s classroom and the class “helped” me glue on the stones and glass. The kids loved placing the little bright bits of color. It was a true class effort. Sorta. After the making of the mosaic was complete, I sprayed the chair, set the grout and VIOLA! Precious mosaic class art piece for the auction. And, y’all, it was so pretty. I seriously wanted it for myself, but as instructed, I hauled the now heavy chair down to the auction and proudly placed it in the spot for our class.

Two nights later, dressed in my best business casual, swilling from a goblet of wine, I prepared myself for the comments that would come my way. “Oh, my gosh, I LOVE the chair! How did you do it?” or maybe “You have the best auction item. It’s going to fetch a small fortune!” I mean how could it miss? It was adorable and the kids had made it and it was creative and out of the box and….

…no one bid on it.


My precious was a clunker.

I was slightly crushed and somewhat insulted. How could no one bid on my cute chair? Well, here’s the point of this whole post (I know you were wondering) – the chair had to fit a certain person. Not everyone goes to an auction looking for a garden chair for their sunroom, right? A cute handprint painting with little silver beads glued on can go on a desk or a wall.  A wind chime made with mosaic tile can clink outside on any porch (and grandmothers LOVE wind chimes). But a chair? Has to have a spot. And match. Not an easy sale. In my creative lala land, I thought I had something different and thus I assumed it would be well-received. And I was wrong.

And, so we can draw the same parallel with our writing. We often complain that editors and publishing houses (and readers) want something different but not too different. How many times have we heard this? A dozen? Ten dozen? I’m pretty sure all my rejections letters arriving in SASEs (remember those?) said something pretty much like that. And every editor on every panel I ever attended wanted something fresh, not overdone, original….but then said it was too hard to market, they didn’t know how to shelve it, and could I add a secret baby? The book of your heart may stay the book of your heart (fresh and original though it is) if you can’t market it. Which means you have to know the market, you have to know what’s selling, you have to know your buyer, er, reader, and you have to think like a business woman and not a creative genius stuck in lala land wrapped up in the false knowledge your precious is going to sell, sell, sell and break the record for best auction item in the history of class auction items.

That does not mean you won’t find your reader….after all, my cute little chair found a home with the school secretary. She was the only bidder and got a steal of a deal for $30. But she loved that chair. Told me several times over the years how cute it looked in her sunroom next to her houseplants. But I learned my lesson. I had to know my market if I wanted to have my art project go for $350.00 (what the other class made with their cheap wall hanger….seriously!). It doesn’t matter how cool your project is. If there isn’t a market, you’ll be left to wonder why someone didn’t recognize your genius.

Hey, you really do learn all you need to know in kindergarten!

By the way, I have a new precious out. Just released yesterday. It’s my first single title with a new publisher and I’m hoping like mad it’s not a mosaic chair of a book, but rather a pretty little sparkly gem that will look good on everyone’s bookshelf. Here’s the link so you can check it out on Amazon. You’re feeling pretty sorry for me and my chair right now. Hey, I know how to soften a buyer up. LOL.


Crafts for Authors: Making a Tote Bag

This is the first in a series of blogs I hope to write about crafts for authors.  This is not to be confused with writing craft, that’s an entirely different subject.  So take your hands off the keyboard — this blog is about sewing a tote bag.

Image 1 - finished toteAuthor’s note:  the tote I’ve used as an example in this blog is the one I’m giving away as part of my Merry Christmas Giveaway, which you can enter hereA winner will be announced on December 23, 2015.

This project requires a sewing machine and some basic sewing skills.  Once you have a working pattern, you can make a lined tote bag in about an hour.  If you’re planning to make a bunch of them — for example, as table giveaways at a luncheon or signing event — you can cut several bags and put them together like an assembly line and the sewing time goes way down.

What you’ll need:

  1.  About half a yard of cotton fabric in two different, but complimentary colors. 
  2. Heavy-duty fusible interfacing
  3. Some newsprint or other wide paper, a ruler, and a square to make your pattern.
  4. A sewing machine, thread, scissors, etc.

Step One — Making your pattern

  1. Using newsprint or wide paper, lay out a rectangle with the dimensions of your tote.  The tote in the project I used for this blog was 17 inches wide and 13 inches tall.  Once you’ve laid out a rectangle in the finished dimensions, add 5/8 or 1/2 inch all the way around for your seam allowances.
  2. Cut two 2 inch by 2 inch squares from the bottom corners of your rectangle.  When you’re finished, you should have a paper pattern that looks like this.Image 2 - paper pattern
  3. Take a moment to mark the position for the straps on the top of the pattern.  The straps should be attached about 2 or 3 inches from the center line of the pattern if you folded it in half.
  4. Cut a second rectangle that’s 4 inches wide and 14 inches long.  This is the pattern for your strap, and when cutting out strap pieces you will place this pattern on a fold, so the final dimension of the strap piece will be 4 inches wide and 26 inches long.image 3 - strap pattern


Step Two — Cutting out the tote

  1. Using the paper pattern for the tote bag, cut 2 pieces for the outside of the tote, 2 pieces for the tote’s lining, and two pieces in the fusible interfacing.
  2. Transfer the markings for the position of the tote straps onto your main fabric. 
  3. Using the pattern for the strap and remembering to place one end on folded fabric, cut two straps in your main fabric, and two straps in the fusible interfacing.

Step 3 — Making the Tote

  1. Following the manufacturer’s directions, fuse the interfacing to the wrong side of the tote bag pieces (not the lining), and to the wrong side of straps.   image 4 - interfacing
  2. Pin the tote’s pieces right sides together and sew the side seams and the bottom seams together.  Press the seams open.image 5 - side and bottom seams
  3. Pin the tote’s lining right sides together and sew the bottom and one side.  On the second side, leave a gap of several inches that is not sewn together.  You will use this gap to turn the tote bag in step 10.  This is important, you must leave a gap in this seam.  Press the seams open.  Here’s a photo of the lining with the seams pressed open, and the gap that’s needed for turning the tote in step 10.image 6 - hole in side seam lining
  4. The next step is making the bottom corners of the tote.  Pinch together the cut corner so that the seams on the bottom and side match up in the center.  Pin, and sew.  Do this for the bottom of the tote and the lining.image 7 - corner seam
  5. Making the straps:  Fold up 5/8 inch on both edges of the strap pieces and press.  Then fold the strap pieces in half lengthwise and press again.  Pin, and sew a narrow 1/4 inch seam along the open edge, then top stitch the folded side.image 8 - press seam allowance straps image 9 strap detail
  6. Pin the finished straps to the tote, one strap on each side.  The ends of the straps should be even with the top of the bag, and the loop of the strap should hang down, as shown. image 10 - pin the straps
  7. Make sure the tote is outside out, and the lining is inside out.  Then place the tote inside the lining and match up side seams.  The right sides of both the lining and the tote should be together, and the straps should be hanging down into the fabric from the un-sewn top edge.image 11 -- joining lining and bag
  8. Sew the bags together along the top edge.
  9. Turn the bag right side out.  This is where you’ll need to use the gap in the lining that you created in step 4.  If you forgot to leave one you’ll have to rip the seam. 
  10. Top stitch around the top of the tote, near the edge.image 12 topstitching top
  11. Pull out the lining and stitch the gap in the lining created in step 4, close to the folded edge of the seam allowance.image 13 - stitch gap in lining

Voila, you now have a tote bag worthy of filling with books for deserving readers. 

image 14 - finished tote bag

Questions? Please feel free to post a comment.  Also, I’m looking for other authors who make things for readers.  I’d like to make this craft blog a regular feature here at the Ruby Slippered Sisterhood.  So if you have any ideas, this is the time to share them.

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