Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Kathryn Bag and end of June grow my blog challenge!

Allow me to introduce...

The Kathryn Bag

So named because the bow is exactly like one I remember in my mum's hair
 (my mum's name is Kathryn)
in a lovely black and white photo of her as a child!

The bag has pockets inside, - a nice secret zipped pocket and a couple of simple slip-in ones too:

And also looks good in other colours !

Wouldn't you agree??



I'm quite proud of my design - and have even produced a pattern and tutorial for The Kathryn Bag too!

I am giving this away as a free thank you gift to all my email newsletter subscribers!
I've spent all month trying to figure out how to set up an email newsletter and sign up form - and finally succeeded! Yippee!!
If you would like to sign up and receive your free copy of the pattern - see the top of my sidebar !

----------------------------------------------------------
Aside from that fabulous bag !  Today marks the end of my challenge to grow my blog this month!
Although I'm not stopping this growth, this has been a month to kickstart the process and has really shown me what is possible in a short space of time!

So - at the beginning of June I set my goals:

The measurable ones were:

"To grow my blog, I need to increase traffic. So for something measurable, I'm going to aim to boost my number of followers from my current number of almost 600, to 800. And my monthly pageviews from around 14000, to 20000. And since this is about making it profitable, I should attach a monetary value to it - this is tricky, and probably the scariest part as I'm not sure right now how I'm going to do this - but I have to have a goal, so I'm going to say I want to make $100 this month, from some action I have taken this month! Phew! I've said it - put it out there, now I have something to work towards!"

So how did I do?

Well as of this morning I have 792 followers.  I still have today to reach the magic 800- so if you aren't already a follower, you could alway join me and help me reach that goal!   I'm amazed to have got so close! Nearly 200 new followers in a month is amazing!  Thank you everyone!!

Monthly pageviews, I'm already over 20,000 for June - and still have a day to go!  Again - amazing! That's over 6000 more views than last month!

Now as far as my monetary goal of $100, sadly I didn't reach that.   I can say though, that in past months on Google Adsense I've made around $5, if I'm lucky.  This month that value has tripled!!!  I'm pretty happy with that as a start - and will focus on the fact that if I can keep my blog growing at the same rate as it has this month - then soon I will have an income from my blog!!  I've set up advertising space -and revised down my affiliate links to a quality minimum.

At the beginning of the month - I checked my Google Page Rank and it was 1 out of a possible 10.
I noticed a couple of days ago, that my blog is now ranked 3!!  Not a bad jump up!

So overall - I think I've done well, and my blog has certainlty grown lots during June!

-----------------------------------------
I learnt a lot this month about blogging and how to turn it into something profitable!
This is just the beginning and I will continue to learn about and grow my blog to reach my goal of it providing me with an income so it can be my job, not just my hobby!

Some things I learned:

 That there is always more to learn!  Which means there is always a new or different way to grow my blog!

Have you been learning with me this month?  Have you noticed an effect on your blog visitors? or stats?

I hope you will continue to visit my blog and share in my continued growth.

I have lots more ideas brewing for new tutorials, and next Wednesday have a global launch of my Creating to Success interviews!

---------------------------------------

Finally - I need to have another measurable goal for July!

So to push me to continue my blog's speedy growth, I'm aiming to reach 1000 followers, and 30,000 monthly pageviews by the end of July!

And I'll try again for $100 profit!

Wish me luck!
For more wonderfully creative spaces , go here!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

How to make a fabric lunch wrap in 5 easy steps and just 15 mins!



You can make a fabric lunch wrap like this in 5 easy steps and just 15 mins! 
Simple!


Perfect for sandwiches, and also doubles as a mini picnic mat:



This size fabric wrap is perfect for a single 'round' of sandwiches, a bun or a slice of quiche.  You can simply make a bigger or smaller square for different sized snacks or lunches.

How to make your own:

Step 1.
Cut 2 squares of fabric 26.5cm square.
1 for outer fabric
1 ripstop nylon for inner fabric
 (this fabric can be wiped easily after use as it is waterproof)
1 piece sew in velcro 8cm long.



Step 2.

Pin one piece of the velcro to a corner of each square diagonally - like this:

Stitch around all four edges of the velcro to secure.


Step 3.

Place the squares right sides together with the velcro at opposite corners.

Then pin and stitch around all 4 sides with a 3/8" seam, leaving a gap open of around 8cm on one side.



Step 4.

Snip the corners off close to the stitching:


Turn the squares right side out through the gap you left in the stitching, and press flat.



Step 5.

Topstitch close to the edge around all 4 sides:


And your fabric sandwich wrap is finished!



You can make all sorts of colours and sizes:




To make the perfect picnic:




Then when the food is gone, just gently wipe the inside of the wraps with a damp cloth, or if they need more of a clean, just throw them in the washing machine!

Simple!

For the downloadable PDF version of this tutorial, click here.


I hope you liked this tutorial - if you have any questions feel free to ask.  Have fun making your own fabric sandwich wraps!

Click here for more simple sewing tutorials of 5 steps in 15 mins.

And for over 100 more free sewing tutorials for all levels of sewing ability, head over to My Free Sewing Tutorials Page.





Sunday, June 26, 2011

Keywords on your blog


I started reading the blogging books I got from the library - and found an interesting section in one of them about using keywords on your blog.  By using the right keywords, in the right way, you can help to drive more traffic to your site.  So I figured this was a good thing to look at.

The book I found this information in was Blogging all-in-one for Dummies - lots of interesting info about all aspects of blogging!

Anyway, back to keywords..

First thing I needed to do, was to find out what keywords people were searching for which brought them to my blog!   So I looked at both the 'stats'  tab at the top of blogger, and also Google analytics.  I found that most of my searches come from people looking for specific items - like my most popular tutorial - bed pockets, and also my insulated lunch bags tutorial.  I also get a fair amount of people who have googled clothes upcycling, and them some who are looking for something like 'way to success'

So what does that tell me?  Well, what I already knew really, that people are coming to my site - largely for my tutorials, and my clothes upcycling projects and links!  Ok, so that wasn't much of a discovery!

So what can keywords do for me?

Well since people are looking for tutorials, I can make sure the wording I use in my tutorial posts clearly reflects what they are for. 
The book suggests that you focus on one keyword phrase per post, and try to use that keyword phrase at the beginning and end of the post in particular, but also through the post in different grammatical forms - for example in the plural, or different verb tenses.

So for example, if it's a post on clothes upcycling, I could use:

upcycle those clothes
clothing upcycle
I upcycled this.....
100 great clothes upcycling projects
How to upcycle a...

I guess this helps as people Google things in different ways.

Again for example, if I Google:

Clothes upcycling                          -    then my blog comes up 3rd on the search results
Upcycling clothes                          -    then my blog comes up 6th on the search results
Clothes upcycling projects            -   then my blog comes up 3rd on the search results
100+ clothes upcycling projects    -   then my blog comes up 1st on the search results
Clothes recycling                           -   nothing!
Recycling clothes                           -   nothing!


It is also recommended to use the keyword phrases in subheadings, bolded text, and  close to links.


I've also had a look at Google Adwords tool  where you can enter words and phrases, and see how often they and similar words and combinations are searched on Google.

That shows me that recycling is searched FAR more than upcycling.

then also I found this strange:
the word                 upcycle           had 60,500 global monthly searches,  
 but the word          up cycle          had 246,000!!!

Did the space make all the difference? 
I looked in our big Collins English Dictionary (from 2003)  and upcycle isn't there at all! 
So I tried Wikipedia!  According to that:

Upcycling is the process of converting waste materials or useless products into new materials or products of better quality or a higher environmental value.

Recycling is processing used materials (waste) into new products to prevent waste of potentially useful materials, reduce the consumption of fresh raw materials, reduce energy usage, reduce air pollution (from incineration) and water pollution (from landfilling) by reducing the need for "conventional" waste disposal, and lower greenhouse gas emissions as compared to virgin production.

So what is the difference?

I found this on wikianswers:

"upcycling is when you use something in the form it already is to make something else. recycling you change the form of the item before making something else out of it."

Mmm, clear as mud! And really - I think you could use the two interchangeably but mean the same! 
So does that mean I should call my clothes upcycling  - clothes recycling instead, to get more traffic from google searches?  What's in a word hey!!?? Who would have thought!

Agan on Google AdWords search:

recycle clothes     33,000 global monthly searches
upcycle clothes       3,600  global monthly searches

clothes recycle     33,100
clothes upcycle    - nothing found!!

So judging from all that - I should start calling what I do recycling not upcycling!  I wonder if it will really make a difference?  Only one way to find out I guess......

Another thing that the book tells you is to avoid over using the keywords! (so this post will have stuffed that up completely!! Ha Ha!)

 
One final thing I found interesting was that you can look up what are the top 20 searches people are making now!  Great to know if you blog about something in that top 20:


I just had a look - but sadly there is  nothing there I could even vaguely post about on my blog!  I'll keep looking though - maybe one day there will be a trend for something I could sew ??/ or at least blog about without it being totally irrelevant to my blog!

Phew!  Well that's a lot of information about 'words' and my head is spinning slightly!!!  How about yours?

Have you ever considered keywords when writing your blog posts?  How much difference do you think it makes?


Saturday, June 25, 2011

Blogging books

I'm really enjoying this month's challenge to grow my blog - but do see it as much more than just a one month thing.  I have been taking action every day this month - and watching the results of that action is inspiring me and keeping me believing this blog will be part of my own business with an income before too long!

As with anything I do, I feel it's important to constantly be learning.  So I've been to the local libary and got a little light(?) reading:


The more I learn about blogging- the more I'm enjoying it.  I'm espeically enjoying being able to pass that knowledge onto others too!

I hope that there are some of my readers out there who are not just following my challenge and journey to grow my blog and make it profitable, but they are also growing their own blogs too!

Even once my June challenge month is over - I am going to continue to push my blog and keep on growing it. 
My blog is focussed on sewing, and creating, and I am settling into a good routine of posts during the week based on that.  But I will continue to keep my weekend posts about the blog itself, its growth and sharing things I am learning!
I hope people will continue to read these posts, and continue to share their own experiences and tidbits of knowledge - as you have so generously been doing this month! 

Ok - I'd best get stuck into those books!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Sponsorship and Guest posts

I'm now nearing the end of my month's challenge to grow my blog.  I've been working hard, putting in the hours and seeing the results which is great!

I've also been hard at work in our garden, where a lot of growing has been going on too!
We now have lettuce ready to pick and eat...yum...


Here on my blog this week, I added sponsorship buttons to the top right of my sidebar, and an advertise page too.  Hopefully I'll get some businesses who would like to advertise here. 

It feels good to be putting my blog out there a bit more and giving things a go!

Hopefully it will start to grow - just like the newly planted seeds in my veggie beds!


I'm also going to start featuring guest bloggers who inspire me, every Friday. They are going to share some crafty tutorials with us all! I'm so looking forward to being able to spotlight some of my favourite bloggers!!

I'm also looking forward to seeing if some of the flowers on this plant grow into juicy eggplants!


I've got lots of new things in place now on my blog - and plenty of avenues I'm exploring to grow and expand.

But I'm always on the lookout for something new and unexpected......like this chilli plant that popped up in our secret garden!  What a bonus - as we love spicy food! 


I'm very happy with my blogging progress this month - and still another week to go!

I'm confident it will keep growing - just like this granadilla (giant passionfruit) which is now the size of my hand, but will grow to about twice that size before we pick and eat it!!


What have you been growing or building up lately?



Thursday, June 23, 2011

Another clothes upcycle in My Creative Space

It is now winter here in Australia - and although winter here is nothing compared to winter in many places - like where I grew up in the North of England, you do get used to the climate where you live, and for me now - when I get up in the morning and it's 10C  that feels pretty cold to me.

Anyway, I don't like being cold - never have, and have found that lately, I've been drinking more hot cups of tea, which always seem to need a chocolate biscuit or piece of cake with them, and sitting around more being generally less active.

For me, less active, means less motivated in general, and so less productive. Not good when I have goals and aims and things to do!!
So I decided I needed to take action! 

My solution? To brave these ever so cold mornings and get up and onto our exercise bike! Get my metabolism going and ready for the day ahead!

I like to listen to something while I cycle (music or Anthony Robbins) but since I'm getting up before everyone else, I have to listen on my MP3 player with earphones.

So I decided to make myself a little holder for it - I've seen lots of people runnning and walking with them - they look fairly simple!

So I took one of my daughter's old t-shirts (that no longer fits):

Cut a nice wide strip off..

I just used one side of the strip - the pretty front side.

Right sides together stitched it, and finished the edges off..
Then pulled it on my arm, folded in half to make a pocket and there you have....


A groovy - roxy - MP3 player holder for exercising!


A grand price of $0 !! What a bargain!

And I have to say morning cycles have returned my motivation and I'm feeling less 'cold' now!

What helps you get motivated?  Does the cold slow you down too? 
(I was definitely some kind of reptile in my last life! I need to be warm!!)

For more wonderful creativity, head on over to Our Creative Spaces


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Laptop bag tutorial







I was inspired to make this by one of the links on my Round Tuit party last week. Artsy Fartsy Mama made a beautiful laptop cover.

I started out with the intention of making one the same as her tutorial is wonderfully simple, but our old laptop has these little catches on the inside, which would have been covered over and then wouldn't have shut properly!  Sigh! Nothing is every simple and straightforward is it!
Love the palm tree in the reflection here!!!

Anyway.... I decided to make a bag instead.
Our daughter has our old laptop - but it's set up right in front of my sewing machine..which as you can imagine is not ideal for me - and I have to keep moving it!

So now that it has it's own bag - moving it will be much easier!

So here's my tutorial if you'd like to try one for your laptop !

--------------------------------------------------
The laptop I made this for measures 36 cm x 27 cm x 4 cm.
All laptops are not made equal so you would need to measure yours to see if you need to enlarge or reduce my measurements.

This bag holds the laptop itself, power cord, mouse and cord and mouse mat!

Materials you will need:
2 Pieces strong outer material( I used curtain fabric) 44 cm x 42 cm
2 Pieces soft inner material (I used fleece) 44 cm x 42 cm
1 Pocket piece 30 cm x 23 cm
1 Pocket piece 22 cm x 22 cm
2 Straps 34 cm x 10 cm
Stitch in velcro - 2 pieces for pockets 8 cm each
1 piece for main bag 33 cm

First take your two pocket pieces - and double turn and stitch the outer edge to neaten, and stitch on one side of the velcro centrally placed:


Next lay one of your outer pieces of fabric over the laptop to help you place your pockets:


Pin in place, turning the raw edges under.


Concertina the corners just a little like this so that the pocket is not totally flat:

Pin the other side of the velcro to the main bag piece, then stitch the velcro and the pocket firmly into place.


Repeat for the other pocket:


For the straps - fold them in half, then open out and fold the outer edges in towards the centre fold, and stitch along both long edges:  Pressing the fabric along the folds will make this easier:

Now you're ready to assemble the bag:


Pin the outer pieces of fabric, right sides together and stitch around 3 sides - leaving what will be the top of the bag open.
Repeat this for the inner pieces of fabric.

Clip the corners, then turn the outer fabric right sides out - and slip the inner 'bag' inside it like this:


Pin the handles in place on both sides of the open bag top, then stitch securely:


Turn the outer and inner fabrics in on themselves to hide both raw edges. Make the turning around 3cm to allow for plenty of secure stitching!  Pin the inner and outer fabrics together:

Stitch two rows all around the top of the bag - then pin and stitch the velcro in place on the inside opening of the bag:

Now your bag is finished and ready to put your laptop and accessories in:





For the downloadable PDF version of this tutorial, click here.


And for over 100 more free sewing tutorials for all levels of sewing ability , check out my Free Sewing Tutorials Page.



Happy Sewing!