My English Paper Piecing Project

Earlier, I mentioned that I wanted to learn English Paper Piecing and that I would be using this blog as a way to assure that I don’t leave it as a work in progress.  Well, guess what?  I spent a lot of time yesterday in Joann’s Fabrics (a crafter’s toy store!) to purchase the necessary materials.


I was totally amazed at the number of supplies needed for a project such as this.  True not all are needed right away, but I wanted to get them all in advance.  What did I get?

Additional fabric – I had the basics, but needed some for lining, additional fabric for the piecing, the binding and back of the pillow

Pins – straight and curved safety pins (I never even knew these existed)

Basting spray – to prevent needing to baste the entire cover


Needles – a set of in betweens so I can determine which ones will work best for me

Button – needed to close the pillow once the form is in it

Pillow form

Still to purchase or create

I still need to get one additional item, which Joann’s didn’t carry: the templates to use. I can make my own, but since I am just learning, and am not totally comfortable cutting out 60 templates, I am going to purchase them.  Once I get them and use them for this project, I will do a review in the Products section!  I promise!

Next Steps


Sample travel sewing kit.

1. Order templates for hexagon shape I am using

2. Wash all fabric purchased

3. Cut out the squares and assure I have enough paper clips

4. Create my travel kit, since I will be taking this project on the road with me

Follow along

Please continue to follow along with me as I document each step of this process.  I will be taking pictures of my progress and hope to have this completed as quickly as possible.  I will have a lot of downtime in about 2 weeks as my daughter is competing in a pageant and there is a lot of time when I will have nothing else to do. Thus, I will be working on this pillow!  Keep an eye out for these pictures over the next several weeks!




This entry was posted on August 13, 2014. 2 Comments

Crafter, Craftsman or Artisan – How Visiting a Renaissance Fair Changed My Way of Thinking

Yesterday, I spent the day at the New York Renaissance Fair in Tuxedo, NY with my children.  One of the things I love most about going to an event like this, are all of the different shops and crafts exhibited.  This event got me thinking about how many skills are no longer around or are being phased out in our society looking for instant gratification.  It also got me thinking about the difference between the tags: Crafter, Craftsman and Artisan.

All of us who craft as a hobby consider ourselves crafters.  We may give our items out as gifts for those we love, sell to friends, family, local craft fairs and even possibly through online venues such as Etsy (which will be discussed at a later date).  However, are those who sell at larger venues and specialty fairs crafters, or are they craftsmen and artisans? While they might have started out as simple hobbyists, they have definitely grown into something larger.  Also, what about those who grow from simple craft fairs to selling in store?  How do they consider themselves?

I was curious as to dictionary definitions of Craftsman and Artisan.  Utilizing the app on my phone, here is what I came up with:

Craftsman: N. – a person who practices  or is highly skilled in a craft; artisann  -an artistartist painting old photo

Artisan: N. – a person skilled in an applied art; a craftsperson

   – a person or company that makes a high quality or distinctive product in small quantities, usually by hand or using traditional methods

adj. – pertaining to an artisan or the product of an artisan

Most of the items sold at venues such as the Renaissance Fair, and other larger events, are created by highly skilled craftsmen.  This was brought home to me while watching one such person creating a leather book cover that would be bound into a journal.  His work was impressive, and you could see the detail in everything he did.  He was, of course, using tools that were used in the time frame, and you could see the love he had for what he was doing.

Through a discussion we had, I discovered that he is also a talented jewelry designer, and he showed me some of his work.  This gentleman informed me that several years ago, he used to make handmade glass beads.  Now anyone who has seen this done, knows how difficult and expensive it can be to produce.  He stopped making the beads when a number of shoppers at fairs told him they could get the same thing cheaper at Michaels.  Now, I have nothing against stores like Michaels, and I do shop there regularly, however, there is a huge difference between the mass produced glass beads  and the quality and detail in those that are hand made.

This is also a large difference between crafters and artisans.  Those who aspire for more, require a higher quality product to begin working with in the first place.  My conversation with him and other vendors opened my mind to creating an interview series with hobbyists, crafters, successful sellers, craftsmen and artisans to learn more about their area of expertise.  Those who work in areas that are no longer part of the norm, especially in areas that are moving towards extinction will be my central theme.  However, I will be interviewing creative people in a variety of industries and posting them here to show how the creative process begins, and how it grows.  Those who have successfully moved from simple crafting to successful businesses will show how it is possible to take a hobby to a life time of enjoyment.

Now the question to ask yourself is how do you consider yourself?  Are you specially trained or are you mainly self taught? How much training have you had in the area you work in?  Me, I am simply a crafter who strives for more.  I also know that I will probably never hit the level that the most skilled artisans are.  They are definitely high above most of us average people.  What about you?  Do you have any area that you are interesting in learning about, even if you never reach the level of an artisan?  I would love to hear from you.  Please comment below and I will try to locate someone with that skill set who would be willing to have me interview them about their craft.

Stay tuned for more!!



Works in Progress

Hi there!  This is Alison again.  I have been going through my projects and realized that over the past year or so, I have purchased a number of items for projects that I have either started or never started.  Some are mostly complete, but not yet finished, and some have not even been started.  Are you the same way?  Do you buy something saying, “Oh, I can’t wait to get started, but first let me do this.”?  I know I do.

How many works in progress do you tend to have at one time?  Are they all within the same area of crafting, or are they a variety?  Personally, I currently have a bead crochet necklace and a crochet scarf to complete. work in progress I also really want to learn English Paper Piecing, which if you don’t know, is a form of quilting that is easily done by hand.  The main reason I want to learn this is because unfortunately I lost my sewing machine in Superstorm Sandy, and due to currently living in a small one bedroom apartment, don’t really have the space to set one up.  So, my next big project is to teach myself to quilt using English Paper Piecing. I have a book with step by step instructions, and it seems very easy to understand.

Keep an eye here on the blog.  I am setting up a challenge for myself to assure I complete this project and will be blogging my way through it!  You will all be able to hold me accountable for starting and completing this work in progress and not letting it fall to the wayside, like so many other started works.

Can’t wait to get started and walk you all through my progress!

Please comment and let us all know about your works in progress, when they were started, and why you have not completed them yet.  I am sure there are a myriad of reasons, and there is nothing to be ashamed of!

What is a craft?

Depending on who you ask, you will get a variety of answers to the question.  However, for me, a craft is a creative outlet you do that provides enjoyment.  This can be just about anything.

There are crafters who work with fiber, such as yarn for knitting,  crocheting,  weaving, and those who work with beads, such as for making jewelry or mosaic pictures. Some work with fabric for quilting, sewing, and others who prefer taking photographs.  There is no “right” way to be a crafter.

Some people craft exclusively for the fun of it, while others make a living by selling their creations. Some have had extensive training in their art, while others are self taught. Is one better than another? Definitely not! It doesn’t matter how you learn, what matters is the enjoyment you get out of it.

What do you think? Are you specially trained or are you self taught with your craft? Which craft provides the most enjoyment for you?  And, if there were something new you would like to learn about, what would it be?