I got a perky new haircut today. Now that summer is nearly here, I decided that it was time to indulge my desire to go short. I’ve wanted to do this for months, but I always stop just short of it. This time, though, I made up my mind ahead of time, brought a picture with me, and got exactly what I wanted.
It’s not like my hair doesn’t grow super fast anyway. If I didn’t like it, I could probably just wear a hat for two months.
I do like it, though. So, yay!
See a little peek of my shirt there? That’s one of two more Sorbetto‘s. Yep, I’ve found my sewing mojo at last. (Sadly, when I find my sewing mojo, I simultaneously lose my dining room table and (often) parts of the floor. Not a pretty sight in there at the moment.)
Rather than peck away at you all week with “look at this shirt” and “look at this other shirt” and, of course, “look at yet one more shirt” kind of posts, I’m saving it all for one bigger post next week. I figure I still have a few more Sorbetto’s and a Simplicity 3835 in me before I retire the machine for a while. I may even whip up another a-line skirt, like those I was once famous-ish for. I don’t find myself wearing skirts much anymore, though. I prefer not having to sit in a ladylike manner if I can help it. Ha!
So, it’s Thursday, and it’s been a productive week. Aside from the sewing, I’ve also been working on a few shop orders for crochet hooks and loom picks, and I’ve been slowly chipping away at my new crochet blanket in the evenings. I think I could safely call the blanket 1/5th of the way done. I’m trying not to rush it or to put any pressure on myself to finish it quickly – that’s a surefire way to be miserable working on it. I know I haven’t shown you that blanket yet, but if you look up at the flowers on my blog header and imagine them surrounded with a creamy white background, you’ll get the idea.
Well, it’s been nice chit-chatting on this Thursday afternoon, but my short haircut and I need to run. We have some hooks and picks to sand and buff this afternoon, if we want to get them in Friday’s mail. Have a happy day!
I put some distance between me and the failed sewing from yesterday. Distance and:
- an open window in the kitchen with The Proclaimers on Pandora and half a glass of wine while I chopped vegetables for a supper salad
- strawberries and cream on angel food cake with the family around the kitchen table before bed
- a good night’s sleep.
And this morning, I woke up ready to try again. I decided I really did want to get that Sorbetto right after all, and so I pulled out my patterns, my tracing paper, and some instructions, and went to town on that FBA. I had made a size 14 before, but this time I cut out a 10, made a 1.5-ish-inch adjustment, tapered the waist back in about an inch, and added 2 inches of length.
I did a test run on this vintage sheet, eliminating the pleat in the front, and I must say, it’s pretty perfect.
This bodes very well for the four cotton lawn prints I ordered on the internet last week.
If I’m being completely honest here, I do have a couple of issues with the way I look in this shirt, but I suspect they are more of a body-image problem than anything else. After all, this shirt really does fit this body pretty well. The next tops I make will use a less stiff fabric, which will probably make me love them more. That’s the plan, anyway.
I appreciate all of your comments on my whiny post yesterday! The moral of the story, of course, is one that I never seem to learn: take the time to tweak the pattern up front (aka do the darn FBA aready) and it will save you a lot of frustration (and wasted fabric) in the long run.
So, anyway, Mission: Expose Shoulders, accomplished! This pattern is definitely going to be my go-to pattern for sleevelessness. Yay!
It was not a successful sewing day for me on Sunday. But, hey, before we get to that, let me show you something that I sewed a few weeks ago that is not a miserable disaster! I’ve been meaning to post about these, but I kept forgetting to photograph them while I had some daylight.
Ok, so these are the newest Built By Wendy Simplicity 3835 shirts in my closet. They join about a million others, but I keep making this pattern because I know I will be happy with the results.
These are both cotton lawns in gingham. I couldn’t decide between red or navy, and then I couldn’t decide between tiny checks or big, so I just finally got two: one in each color, in two different sizes. This was pretty inexpensive fabric, so why not?
I also made two different sleeve lengths. I wanted one that was longer so I could wear it with my Milady vest, and another that was shorter and would be good for the summer with shorts and beachy pants and such. I am pleased with both of these. So, yay!
Now on to my not-so-happy sewing…
I wanted some sleeveless Summer tops. I like to have my shoulders out when I’m in the sun, so I can avoid weird mid-arm tan (oh, ok, burn) lines, and I’m thinking ahead to our annual end-of-May beach trip. Sooooo excited for that!
I saw that Beki has been making some sleeveless tops using the free Sorbetto pattern from Colette. You may have noticed a bunch of Sorbetto images in my Flickr favorites this weekend. I was doing my research. My research suggested that I might want to consider a full bust adjustment. My first mistake? ignoring my research.
My Sorbetto looks terrible on me. I actually didn’t bother finishing it – the sleeves are still unhemmed. It’s far too wide, and far too short. And the stitching around the neckline? Oh, just awful. If I want to try this pattern again, I probably need to cut out a size much smaller, do a FBA, and add a few inches to the length. I’m not sure it’s worth it, though. I can’t decide if I have the potential to love this pattern on me or not.
Hot on the heels of that failure, I dug through my patterns and looked for one I remembered tracing from a dress I liked. A long time ago, I had made modifications to it to improve it, but I guess I wasn’t quite finished with my editing, because I ended up with another awful, awful finished object.
First? Too wide. Again. Second? I had wanted to take advantage of the built-in hem on the vintage sheet I was using, but apparently I lined the patterns up poorly, and the back hangs over an inch lower than the front. This was really really long anyway, so I can easily cut the bottom off and re-hem it, but I doubt it’s worth it. Even if I can make it more narrow in the waist, the neckline annoys me.
Here’s the thing: every time I try to make a sleeveless shirt, I end up with something too wide, too short, and with a collar that doesn’t lay flat. Is this because I’m busty? Or is it because I’m lazy? Or maybe a little bit of both? It seriously doesn’t matter what pattern I use. Always too wide, too short.
I think one of the reasons I love the Built By Wendy design so much is that elastic in the neckline is super forgiving, and the pattern itself is super easy. I am considering forgetting about the other patterns, and spending some time modifying the BBW pattern to be sleeveless. I am not sure it can be done in an attractive way, but I’m about ready to admit defeat on all of the other patterns I’m trying.
It’s funny – in just about every craft I do, I enjoy fiddling and making changes, but sewing? Not so much. I want it to be perfect right out of the gate, and I hate having to make multiple versions in order to get it right.
I don’t suppose you can suggest a super easy (read: foolproof, and in plain english) pattern that would require minimal fussing to fit “the girls” properly, but not look like a tent in the process? In the meantime, I’ll just be hacking at my BBW pattern and seeing what I can come up with…
Hiya! Happy Friday. Here are some goodies I’ve collected from the Internet this week.
The mosaic below represents other people’s pictures that spoke to me this week. Be sure to click on the titles below the mosaic, if you want to know more about the image or the photographer behind it.
You may notice a lot of shirts here. I’m doing “research” – I feel some Summer blouse sewing coming on!
I spend an hour or so every morning, Monday through Thursday, sharing my favorite crafty links on Sulia. And then I repeat them here on Fridays.
- Check out these cool legwarmers made from a repurposed sweater. from Mountain Girl Clothing via Etsy
- Make your own yarn bowl on the cheap, with items you have around the house. from Pocket Pause
- Attic24′s cozy new crochet neckwarmer involves an intriguing stitch pattern.
- If you’ve ever had a project slip off the needles, you’ll like this tip from WEBS
- Here’s a very simple jewelry project: a neon polymer clay ring from Henry Happened
- There’s a lot to admire about this faux knit necklace from Maria Belkomor.
- Check out this fabulous millefiori polymer clay robin cane by Tooaquarius
- Bandanas are so much more classy when they’re made from Liberty Tana Lawn. from The Purl Bee
- This lovely beginner-level tank top pattern is downloadable and free from Colette Patterns (hint: this is the one I was researching on Flickr)
Stuff with T-Shirts
- Upcycle old t-shirts into cozy pillows from LoLoVie.
- Here’s another nifty idea for repurposing those t-shirts you’re not wearing. from Crafts ‘n Coffee
- I seem to be on a t-shirt kick this week. Here’s a project from Six Sisters’ Stuff for shirts you’ll want to wear.
- This couple from Alaska turned an old pickup truck into a nostalgic little red wagon! via KTUU.com (and Uncle Bob)
- This is a cool side table makeover from Keeping it Simple
- Listen up, crafty business peeps: Tara Swiger reminds you how to be awesome in the way that only you can.
- I love this take on Project 365 by James Bernal. via Photojojo
- Check out this impressive Star Trek Borg costume shared by Geek Crafts
And there you have it. It’ll be the weekend in a matter of hours. Got anything fun planned? I’d like to drag my sewing machine out of storage and try my hand at some shirt-making. (Which reminds me, I sewed two new shirts last month and still haven’t shown them to you! That’s very unlike me. Gotta get my camera out and get cracking on that…)
Even if you have not signed up for all of the popular social media channels out there, chances are your readers have. Today we will focus on giving your readers the chance to spread the word across social media on your behalf. Or, as it’s referred to in blogger-speak: sharing.
Have you ever noticed when you are reading someone else’s blog, that there are often a series of colorful buttons at the end of the posts? These are sharing buttons. They each correspond to a different popular social network, and they are there to encourage you to tell your friends about what you just read.
[As an aside, notice I said up there, "when you are reading someone else's blog." I think it's crucially important to be a blog reader, if you want to be a good blog writer. Spending time visiting successful blogs helps you to define what it is you want to accomplish in your own space. Maybe you love the graphic design of their site, or the particular way they arrange their images and their words in each post. Maybe you like that they post on a predictable schedule or that they have special theme days. Or maybe it's their laid-back, spontaneous style that is so appealing. Make a note of what grabs you, and one-by-one, see if you can make those things work for you in your own way.]
So, how do you add share buttons to your blog?
A quick note about sharing on social networks
It’s worth mentioning, you do not need to belong to any of these social networks in order to include the buttons on your blog. If you don’t tweet, and Facebook leaves you cold, that’s fine. The buttons are meant for your readers to use. As long as you include buttons for their favorite social sites, you can be as much of an online hermit as you like.
Be prepared, however, to come out of that cave at some point. In the near future, we’ll be talking about how you can take a more active role in promoting your blog content on the social sites. For now, though, while you’re getting comfortable with all of this, it’s fine to let your readers do the work.
If you are on Blogger
Remember my Blogger test blog? Here it is before today’s changes (you can click on all of the screen captures in this post to see them up close):
Blogger has a built-in set of share buttons, and if you’ll notice, in my current layout, they were enabled by default.
If you are not picky about which social networks you want to include, your work is easy. Visit your dashboard and click Layout on the left side menu. Look at your blog layout, and on the big box that represents a blog post, click Edit. Scroll through the options and make sure Show Share Buttons has a check-mark in the box. Save your options and you’re done!
If you are on Blogger, but want more control
Blogger’s built-in set of share buttons is easy and all, but they’re fairly limited to the big three: Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. While it’s certainly a good idea to include these three, those of us writing to a crafty audience might also want to include other sites that cater to visually-minded people. (Pinterest, anyone?)
If you want to go beyond the basics, you need to use a service that has a lot of options – options that they are constantly updating and changing to reflect the popular social networking trends. I have used ShareThis for some time, and I am happy with them, so that’s what I’ll show you.
First, visit sharethis.com via this link (it brings you directly to the Share Button settings page). Select “Blogger” as your platflorm and click Next.
Now choose your button style. This comes down to personal preference. Do you like the simplicity of square buttons? Or do you like to see the numbers? Those numbers refer to how many people have shared your post on the particular network, so if you are a statistics junkie, you might like to use one of the last two options.
For our purposes today, I went with the simple square buttons.
Click on your choice, and then click Next.
Now is your chance to tell ShareThis which social networks you want to highlight.
Here’s the cool thing about ShareThis: it has about a million (slight exaggeration) social networks available, many of which are probably new to you. You will have to select your own favorites to display, but even the networks that you do not choose will still be available to your readers, if they want to use them. That’s important, because unless you have your finger on the pulse of your readers’ preferences, you will never really know where they like to hang out online when they’re not visiting you.
When you choose the share buttons to display on your blog, you will be making an educated guess about what is most popular with your readers.
Those readers who don’t see their favorite networks listed can click on the green button. That’s the ShareThis button, and behind it lives a widget that includes all of the other networks you haven’t listed. Your readers are bound to find what they are looking for there.
That said, it’s still a good idea to try and anticipate what share buttons your readers will want. A Twitter button will be more attention-getting to a Twitter user than a ShareThis button will. The green button is a great backup, but try not to rely on it for everything. Include at least four other options to catch your readers’ eyes.
Scroll down, and you will see a place to change around your button configuration. You can hover over items in the Selected Services box to remove them from your button list (click on the X that appears). You can drag services around within the Selected Services box in order to re-arrange the order of your buttons. You can drag new services from the Sharing Buttons box into the Selected Services box. (You can play with the items in the Other Social Plugins box, if you want to, but I’m not going to talk about them at this point.)
For my test blog, I removed the LinkedIn button, because generally speaking, my posts are not the usual LinkedIn kind of fodder. (Still, if someone wants to share one of my posts there, they can get to LinkedIn through the ShareThis button, remember?)
I like Google+ and want to encourage my readers to use it, too, so I dragged over the Google+ button.
I could have added others, but this seemed fine for now. And in the future, there would be nothing stopping me from repeating this process to add or remove social networks as I got to know my audience better.
Click Finish to begin installing the buttons into your blog.
ShareThis will encourage you to create an account. This is a good option if you like numbers, and want to really delve into the (anonymously-saved) sharing behavior of your readers.
If you don’t care about statistics, feel free not to bother creating an account. Click No Thanks in the top right corner.
You have one more choice to make, and it refers to the behavior of the green ShareThis button: multi-post or direct post. Here’s the difference:
If you use multi-post, then when your reader clicks the green button, she can enter the little description she wants to share with her friends, and then choose to send it to as many social networks as she likes, all at one time. All of this is done with an overlay on top of your blog, so she never actually leaves your site when she shares your post.
If you use direct-post, then when your reader clicks the green button, she chooses a single social network to post to, and then leaves your blog to go directly to that social site to share your post.
Generally-speaking, it’s a good idea to keep your readers on your site as long as possible, so I would choose multi-post. It really just comes down to personal preference here, though, so feel free to choose whichever option you like.
Press Go. (This generates a pop-up screen, so if you have pop-ups disabled, you will need to allow this particular one through. That’s usually controlled somewhere near the top of your browser, where you’ll see a warning that a pop-up was blocked.)
ShareThis communicates with Blogger on your behalf to let it know you want to include ShareThis buttons on your blog posts. Now Blogger has to ask you, “is this ok?”
Click Add Widget to finish the job.
This is what my Blogger test blog looks like with ShareThis added. Cool, no? I think that these ShareThis buttons, besides being more versatile than the built-in option, are just more aesthetically-pleasing than the default.
If you are on WordPress.com
WordPress.com users, you have it easier. Here is my WP test blog before today’s changes:
Like Blogger, WP has built-in sharing buttons. Unlike Blogger, WP actually lets you switch up the options and the included networks. Also? This is pretty much your only choice if you want the share buttons to appear within each post, so you’re kind of stuck with it. Good thing it’s actually pretty useful.
Go to your dashboard, hover over Settings, and click on Sharing.
Look at Enabled Services. By default, Press This, Twitter, and Facebook are enabled. You can verify this by looking at the Live Preview. The Live Preview shows what the buttons will look like when they display on your blog posts.
I prefer different sharing options, so I dragged Press This into the gray discard box to the right. Then, I dragged Email, Google+ and Pinterest out of Available Services and into Enabled Services, and re-arranged them into my preferred order.
Scroll down a bit, and you can see even more options:
These are all personal preferences, again, but I chose to show only the icons, to open links in a new window (remember what I mentioned earlier about keeping people on your blog as long as possible? by opening a new window for their sharing link, they will still have your blog window open when they are finished sharing), and to show sharing buttons everywhere other than media.
I also enabled WordPress Likes, because, hey, it couldn’t hurt!
Feel free to experiment and play around with the settings until you get a look and function that you find pleasing. You really can’t break anything on this page, so play to your hearts’ content!
This is what my test WordPress.com blog looks like now, with sharing buttons enabled.
If you are on WordPress.org
As usual, I’m not going to go into a whole lot of detail here, but I will tell you about two options you have that are nearly identical to the ones we discussed for Blogger and WordPress.com.
Yes, you can use ShareThis, too. It’s just a bit more complicated than the Blogger version. You start at the same place, but then you choose WordPress as your platform. ShareThis will tell you that you will need to install the ShareThis plugin on your site, and that you have two options for this: automatic and manual.
Do yourself a favor and go with automatic. Scroll down the page you are on, and you’ll see step-by-step directions for installing and setting up ShareThis on your site.
If you already installed Jetpack after our discussion about email notifications, then this will be super easy for you. Jetpack is a plugin that brings some of the special features of WordPress.com together for use by WordPress.org blogs. One of these features is social sharing.
Visit the Jetpack section of your dashboard and click on the Sharing box. The setup should be very similar to what I described for WordPress.com.
By the way, don’t confuse Sharing with Publicize. Publicize is for automatic sharing of your blog posts on the social networks that you belong to. Sharing, on the other hand, is for your readers to use when they feel moved to do so, and that is the one we are focusing on today.
What I do
You should know this about me: I am extremely picky about the aesthetics of my blog, and I never do anything the easy way.
Since I know my way around PHP, CSS, and HTML fairly well, I was able to create my own custom sharing box. (And if that sentence just gave you a headache, you may want to skip to the next section and forget about the rest of what I have to say about this.)
Essentially, my “share the love” section is powered by ShareThis, but I have added some of my own tweaks. The ShareThis, email, Twitter, Google+ and Facebook buttons are actually part of the ShareThis widget generated by the plugin. Flattr, Pinterest, and the print button are all things that I added myself.
Actually, I made my own Pinterest button last year sometime, when I was dissatisfied with the behavior of the Pinterest button provided by ShareThis. It’s probably time for me to have another look, and see if I can retire my custom version in favor of the current ShareThis version. I always prefer to use one single service over a variety of different services (i.e. ShareThis vs. ShareThis + separate Pinterest) whenever I can. It keeps the aesthetics cohesive, and I think it makes the blog’s engine work less hard, too.
Share The Love, like most other areas of my blog, is under constant threat of being tweaked by me. I am always looking to improve the way things look, function, and load around here, so don’t be surprised if this screen shot is soon out of date!
Adding share buttons is an essential step to spreading the news about your blog. When you have something good to say, your readers will want to share it. By taking these steps today, you’ve given them valuable tools and potentially increased your blog’s reach tremendously.
Now go pour yourself a glass of wine and wait for your adoring fans to spread your blog posts across the land*
(*Sorry, it’s actually not that simple. Sometimes people don’t want to share. Nonetheless, it’s important that you give them the option, and for having done that, I still think you deserve that glass of wine. Bottoms up!)