To be a bit cliché, this shoemaker is a professional Web Developer and her child is this blog, but it was past time to launch what I have of a new design. All the content is still here, everything else is a work in progress (kind of like most of my sewing projects)!
Yesterday, I received notice from Amazon that, effective immediately, my Amazon Associates account was closed. This means that the various links to products on Amazon in my posts are no longer affiliate links (and I’ll be combing through my content to remove them in the next week or so). Here is their email:
We are writing from the Amazon Associates Program to notify you that your Associates account will be closed and your Amazon Services LLCAssociates Program Operating Agreement will be terminated effective January 6, 2015. This is a direct result of Vermont’s state tax collection legislation (32 V.S.A. § 9701(9)(I)). As a result, we will no longer pay any advertising fees for customers referred to an Amazon Site after January 5, nor will we accept new applications for the Associates Program from Vermont residents.
Please be assured that all qualifying advertising fees earned prior to January 6, 2015, will be processed and paid in full in accordance with your regular advertising fee schedule. Based on your account closure date of January 6, 2015, any final payments will be paid by March 31, 2015.
Amazon strongly supports federal legislation creating a simplified framework to uniformly resolve interstate sales tax issues. We are working with states, retailers, and bipartisan supporters in Congress to get legislation passed that would allow us to reopen our Associates program in Vermont.
We thank you for being part of the Amazon Associates Program, and hope to be able to re-open our program to Vermont residents in the future.
The Amazon Associates Team
On this humble little blog, with a spattering of links, I’ve earned a grand total of $36.68 since September 2010—hardly worth the time it takes to generate the affiliate links for the few posts I add them to. But, it was a nice bit of surprise fun money once a year or so that I could use to subsidize a book or sewing notion.
For other online marketers and content publishers—possibly even other sewing/crafting bloggers—the impact is thousands of dollars. It’s not restricted to Vermont: Arkansas, Colorado, Maine, Missouri, and Rhode Island are also barred from using the program now.
In my case, the impact is minor, but it brings up the question of how other companies will handle this legislation change. I have a few Google AdSense ads on here to help pay for hosting (~$100/year), and affiliate links for American Duchess ($13.88 in total). I’ve considered adding ones for a few product subscription services I personally use and am willing to recommend.
Some of you may not be such small potatoes when it comes to generating so-called passive income with your blog. Some of you may be considering adding affiliate links thinking it could amount to big bucks. But with this legislation in VT and other states, the landscape of internet marketing is changing, which is sure to have ripples throughout the blogging community. It certainly highlights the fact that blogging is not a guaranteed money maker, and your income is entirely at the mercy of the programs you affiliate with.
I’ve always supported bloggers using affiliate links because I am well aware of the costs of maintaining a blog, particularly if you have your own domain. I hope we can weather the storm.
Were you directly affected by this policy change? I’d love to hear what your perspective is on both it, and the idea of affiliate links in general.
I may be somewhat addicted to perusing the various DIY pins on Pinterest. Over time, I’ve found that there’s quite a mix of ones that are completely misleading/lies, ones from people who have way more skill than I do, and ones that are actually reasonably possible.
So, in between chugging away on piecing a quilt that I can’t show you yet, I decided to try out a couple of the projects I’ve pinned over the past few months.
The Win: Lemon Sea Salt Bath Scrub
I’m cursed with dry skin, and this 5 month winter has not been kind. After spending $16 on a jar of sugar scrub from a mall store that lasted all of three weeks (because I tried really hard to make it last), I decided I needed a cheaper option.
I didn’t follow any one pin (there are so many), but broke them down to the essentials and combined coarse sea salt and kosher salt (for two different levels of exfoliating), enough sunflower oil to make it feel like it was the right consistency, and a few drops of lemon essential oil to make it smell good. I liked it more than the store-bought, and now have a drive to play around with all types of scents and oils to perfect it. Best of all—I managed to make the same amount as the store bought for around $8 in startup materials, and if I purchase more salt ($3), I can still make at least one more batch with what I have leftover of the other materials. That’s much closer to what I prefer to spend on bath stuff.
The Epic Fail: Cake Pop/Ball Things
The first part of making cake pops is easy. The cake came out fine. Mixing it into the icing went well. It’s just the ball/pop formation, melting the white chocolate, and dipping them that was a disaster.
It really didn’t go well. They were tasty, at least. I still have some un-dipped ones frozen to give it another shot after buying more white chocolate chips. Maybe those will go better, but perhaps I should just stick to fabric and non-edible crafts.
Do you attempt Pinterest DIY projects? What’s your favorite?
I’ve been using 2.5″ strips a bit lately—commonly called Jelly Roll strips. But, my recent purchases haven’t been fabrics by Moda, so I’ve quickly learned that not all rolls are equal. Here’s a breakdown of commonly available rolls and the number of strips included.
What is a Jelly Roll?
A Jelly Roll (which is a term specifically for Moda rolls, but is commonly used to describe all strip pre-cuts) is a pre-cut fabric assortment of strips measuring 2.5″×Width of Fabric (~40–44″). They typically contain at least one strip from every print and colorway in a fabric collection, and sometimes contain duplicate prints to reach a specific strip count.
How many strips are in a Jelly Roll?
The number of strips in a roll varies by manufacturer, and sometimes even within a manufacturer’s offerings.
Manufacturer and Name
† count is dependent on number of prints in collection
* Riley Blake Designs has a few Rolie Polies made of blenders that come with as few as 11 strips, and at least one solids Rolie Polie with 45. Free Spirit sometimes has 36 strips in their Designer Rolls for larger collections (and possibly other numbers). Kauffman has Solid Roll Ups that often come with 40 or 41 strips and batik sets with as few as 28.
Connecting Threads Sample Strips
Joann Fabrics Fabric Palette/Central Jellie
Moda Junior Jelly Roll
Riley Blake Designs Rolie Polie
Robert Kauffman Roll Up
Free Spirit/Westminster Designer Roll
Hoffman Fabrics Bali Pop
Moda Jelly Roll
Northcott Stone Strips
Timeless Treasures Tonga Treat
Strip count in a roll sometimes varies, even in the ones I didn’t mark with an asterisk, so always check the description of what you buy online or look for a number in store (or count, if you have to).
There’s also the rare occasion that a strip is cut incorrectly and not caught by quality control (I have had this happen multiple times with Moda charm packs, less often with rolls), so when picking patterns to make with your precuts or planning out your own, try to build in a small margin of unused strips. And, make sure to count your strips before starting the project!
Where To Buy
You can find these all in various online fabric shops and it seems like more and more local shops also carry them. Depending on what fabric brands a shop carries, you may not be able to find every type in a single location.
Prices also vary. You’re typically going to pay slightly more per equivalent yard (40 strips is just over 2.75 yards), and while the price generally relates to number of strips, that’s not always true. And, of course, manufacturers charge different amounts per yard (and have differing qualities of fabric), so the different roll prices will reflect that.
Watch out for store-made rolls!
Not that they are inherently bad, but be on the look out for store-made rolls as opposed to official releases by the fabric companies. These rolls may have a different amount of strips, fewer prints or more duplicates, be cut in half the width of fabric instead of full, have strips larger or smaller than 2.5″ tall, or any number of other variations (yes, I’ve purchased one with all of those attributes).
Official rolls typically have printed tags and are bound by ribbon printed with the manufacturer’s name or come shrink wrapped.
Know what you’re buying, ask questions if things aren’t clear, and be happy sewing!
If you think I’ve missed any strip collections, please let me know in the comments.
Sometime around now (give or take a month) is the nebulous second anniversary of when I started quilting and sewing again in earnest. I think I have a ton more to learn, although I know I’ve learned a great deal in the intervening months.
While finishing up another stuffed animal last night, I was really amazed at the difference a little experience with hand-sewing binding and closing up stuffies can do for hiding the stuffing hole seam. Compare the first one I made a little more than two years ago, when I really only knew how to whip stitch (poorly, at that)…
… to this latest one (which I’ll post about after it’s delivered to the recipient’s father once he’s back at work):
I think the stitch is called the ladder stitch, if you want to look it up. My actual stitch is some sort of hack I figured out when starting to bind quilts and not wanting the thread to show, so it’s probably not precisely the ladder stitch.
But, sometimes the lessons are a little harder. When I set out to start quilting by making a baby quilt for my oldest friend’s son, I knew absolutely nothing about quilting. Sure, I’d been sewing on and off for about fifteen years, which is why some of my choices probably didn’t faze me at all, but it’s really not very smart quilt production. It has faux-Minky, flannel, silk, eyelet, linen-textured cotton and cheap quilter’s cotton all thrown together.
It’s also incredibly well loved—to an extent that I only hope the rest of my quilts can ever match, possibly all together. As a result, I got a message from my friend showing that the silk is starting to completely wear away.
I think the only solution is to applique a better-lasting fabric over the top of those pieces, correct? (Short of completely deconstructing the quilt and re-piecing, which is not an option.) I would love any advice you have about fixing damage like this.
Two years into my journey, I still don’t think that you can’t use non-quilting cotton in quilts, but there are disadvantages, and I feel pretty safe in saying don’t use silk in a baby quilt.
What have you learned over the years? Have you encountered bad choices that you’ve had to compensate for down the road?
First off, a little fan-girl squee: one of my quilts appeared on a blog run by a famous quilt historian/author/designer. Whee! That said, I was surprised to see my quilt appear on the blog, only finding out out because I subscribe to it.
Some are quick to blame Pinterest and other plug-ins and bookmarklets that make it simple to cross-post content from one part of the Web to another for muddying the waters of IP and making us bloggers turn into rude content thieves.
But, stealing content without attribution or request started long before those technologies and services came about, and I’m certain they weren’t in use in this situation.
That’s a question I’ve been struggling with since I saw the post—especially since the only method of contact I could find for the author was to comment on the post—they didn’t have an email address posted or a contact page.
So, ideal world time: we, as responsible bloggers, should endeavor to always give proper attribution and get proper permission to use other’s content. And, we should provide a way for others to easily contact us so that they can do the same.
It’s the second part that’s really bothersome in this situation. My only recourse is to comment on the post—a public forum. I’m not angry that content was stolen, I just want to request—privately—that they give proper attribution.
So, what should you do in this situation?
Since the photo in question actually belongs to someone else, (it was taken by the newspaper, not me) I contacted the photographer so that they can handle it in the way that they see fit. I can’t speak for them, but I can (and should) alert them. I did leave a comment thanking the author for the mention, and gently correcting the spelling of my name.
I kept getting hung up on “this person is famous, and it’s just little old me!”. Objectively, they should be even more aware of these types of issues—to cover their own famous bums and to set an example of how they want their own IP to be treated. So, while I am completely honored to have my quilt appear, ultimately, I deserve the same respect of IP and attribution that I would give them. In other words, feeling honored doesn’t mean you shouldn’t request your due rights.
I’ve come up with a stock message in case this happens in the future, that I hope is polite but firm about adding a notice that the photo is mine. It mentions that my policy is, as clearly stated on my blog, that they’re welcome to use my images so long as I’m credited. Hopefully, it only ever needs be sent in private, but perhaps if it must be put in a comment, it will encourage others to take another step toward that ideal world of asking, attributing, and inviting contact. I say stock, because while I’ll likely modify it in each situation, it removes the temptation of fan-girl spinelessness—I have the message, I will send it in every instance.
If you haven’t already, make sure you have information about your own copyright stance somewhere on your blog, be it a separate page or in your sidebar. If it is on its own page, make sure a link appears on all pages of your blog. While you’re at it, make sure that you provide a way to contact you. Yes, we all worry about spam (and yes, there are readers who think they should give unsolicited advice about your life), but people do need to contact you on occasion, and that should outweigh your other worries. Plus, there’s a delete button in your email client.
Think about your own stock message so that a response can be automatic without you having to stew over it.
And in the end, really? It seems like a published author should know better than to take images from various places on the Web without attribution of some kind…
What would you do in this situation? Is it something you’ve dealt with before? I admit, sometimes I’m not perfect about proper attribution, but I try to make it clear where all content and images come from.
My current (almost finished, you can see it soon, promise!) project has a lot of rows of quilting that all need to be slightly wider than needle-at-center to edge-of-foot. Since I’m always looking for ways to save time, I’ve found a couple of tips to help speed up the process of sewing lines back and forth that are further apart than 3⁄8″. This should work for most higher-end Viking machines, but take a look at your own (if it’s a different brand) to see if similar options exist!
In pictures, the quilting looks like this:
Where the gaps between stitching lines are around .5″ (I also have an even wider set elsewhere).
One piece of advice I see in or on just about every quilting blog, forum, magazine, book—you name it—is that if you care at all about your quilting (which you obviously should), you absolutely have to buy “quilt shop quality” (QSQ) fabric. If any rule can be broken in quilting, I think this one can once you have some experience under your (piecing) foot.
It’s difficult to explain to a new quilter what good quality fabric feels like—drape, good weave, and hand are hard concepts to describe with words. So blanket rules may save some heartache, but that limits the rest of us—rule breakers, experimenters, or just people with a solid grasp of the craft—to a fraction of the fabric that is out there.
Reasons why not to buy big-box fabric
There are valid reasons why not to buy big-box fabric.
Shh, don’t tell Carl, but I’m admitting it: I could do much of my quilting and crafting on a cheaper machine. But, my fancy Husqvarna Viking Ruby can make certain things much simpler—if I know how to use them. So, here is the first in what I hope will be an ongoing series about using advanced features of the machine. For those of you who own other machines, I hope this inspires you to figure out how to do it on your own machine.
So, here is how to miter corners when satin stitching around an applique using a Ruby. These instructions will also be very similar for how to do it on a Diamond or Diamond DeLuxe, but the screens might be slightly different.
I’ve mentioned before that when I do digital mockups of my quilts or play with designs before quilting, I do so in Adobe Illustrator. I have nothing against EQ or any other quilt software, it’s just that I don’t actually have that software; I do have Illustrator (albeit an older version from when I was in college).
I’ve been using Illustrator for just shy of a decade, so it is absolutely shameful that I didn’t know how to draw a quarter-circle until a few months ago. So, for anyone else in that boat (I know some of you use Illustrator too), I posted a quick tutorial on it over at my Web dev blog on rachaelarnold.com. (Once upon a time I had a grand ideas of having a few different blogs. I even updated them all. These days, I pretty much stick to this one here, but on rare occasions I update the one on Web development, too.)