Monthly Archives: October 2011

We Are Local: Who Are We?


A few days ago, a photographer friend of mine came up with a great idea. After wedding season was over, she was struggling to make ends meet. She is a mother, a wife and a great artist who runs her own business. With all the news about Wall Street, taxes, the Whatever% and this poor economy, she made the plea to her friends, family and community to make the effort to skip the big-box stores this holiday season and shop local. Through her blog: We Are Bellingham, she is taking the time out of her day to promote local crafters and their skill. Whether they have a small shop, work out of their home, do craft shows or run an Etsy shop or website, she wants to help them.

What better way to spread Christmas cheer? Think of it this way: when you go to a department store and buy a cute dress for your daughter/granddaughter/friend, who is benefiting from your purchase the most? I’d say it’s the girl getting the dress and the store’s bottom line. When you buy from an individual crafter, not only is that little girl STILL getting a cute (and probably one-of-a-kind) dress, but the person who made that dress can now afford to pay rent, send their kid to gymnastics, pay for that family vacation, or just support their crafting addiction.

I’m not saying that every small local crafter is desperately in need of money to make ends meet, but many are. I’m also not saying that the people who work in big-box retail don’t deserve your business, but you don’t have to buy EVERYTHING from them just because it’s a one-stop-shop. What I am saying is this: think before you shop. Stop someone walking down the street to ask them where they got their beautiful crocheted scarf, the cute flower in their daughter’s hair, that purse that you’ve never seen anything like before. Go to a local arts & crafts show. Spend 15 minutes an evening checking out Etsy (you can even look for shops in YOUR area code).

This is taken straight from Jen’s blog, and I couldn’t say it better:

“I am starting this blog because we need this.
We need to support each other.
We need to shop local.

We need to tell the rest of the 99% what they are missing out on when they go to the mall instead of visiting our local shops, browsing our websites, checking out our etsy stores and noticing our little houses and apartments filled with hand made AWESOME.

I am Jen Owen.
I am your neighbor.
I am a mother of three and wife.
I am a friend and an advocate for our Veterans and Deployed Soldiers.
I walk to raise money for Cancer research.
I dress up like zombie slayers and run around old mental hospitals with my family and laugh with them – just for fun and memory sake.

I am a professional photographer and I love my job.”


You probably already know that Becca and I have our own shops, and we may not be local to you, but the internet is local to everyone.  Over the next few weeks, the two of us will be introducing you to some of our favorite creators.  Not just what they do or make, but who they are.  I feel that if you know who you’re buying from, and can feel a personal connection, it just makes what you’re buying all the more special, whether you’re going to give it as a gift or keep it for yourself.

If you have a small business, offer services that you want people to know about… create art, music, jewelry, armor…anything…please email us at


Easy Minky Blanket Tutorial


This week was a first for me.  In gearing up for my first craft show, I decided to finally work with Minky (also known as Minkee).  I’ll admit, I’ve been afraid of the stuff for quite some time after working with some other super-soft materials that are similar and having disastrous results.  After making a few based off of a pattern I pulled out of my head to make baby blankets a few years ago, I quickly realized that IT’S NOT HARD!  Here, for you, is a pretty simple tutorial on how to make a great baby blanket using Minky:

To start out this project you will need:

– 1 yard Minky fabric, (cut in half, this will make 2 baby blankets, approx 30×36) you will be using 1 of the 2 halves

– 1 yard coordinating cotton fabric

– lots of pins

– an iron and a sewing machine

I prewash all of my fabrics before starting any project.  Minky will not shrink, but when you feel how soft it is, you can only imagine how many people have had their hands all over it in the store.  I was nervous about fuzz buildup when I washed and dried, but there were absolutely no issues.

Step 1)  Lay your Minky fabric out, soft side up, on a carpeted area and smooth it flat.  The carpet is really important because Minky is very slippery, and any slight movement on a smooth surface can leave you with mismatched edges or puckering.  Make sure that none of the edges are curled under.  (If you have pets, I highly recommend vacuuming the section of floor you will be working on immediately prior to beginning).

*On a side note, if you plan on making these in large quantities, I recommend buying a cheap rug that you can roll out onto a table.  Sitting on the floor on your knees, leaning over and pinning can take a toll on you!

Step 2)  Lay your cotton fabric on top of your Minky, Right Side Down, while trying to line up at least one of the edges.  If you want to have scrap pieces you can reuse for other things, try to line it up so that the majority of your selvedge is on one side.  If you don’t care to save your scraps, just aim to have all the Minky covered by your top fabric.

Step 3)  Start pinning.  Do not be shy with the pins.  The more you use, the easier time you will have sewing.  Try to keep your pins about 1″ to 1 1/2″ in from the edge of the Minky, and approximately 1″ between pins.  The first few pins you put in, you will probably catch on the carpet, but after awhile you will learn by feel to keep your pin out of the rug.

On the sides where your cotton fabric hangs over,  it is pretty easy to feel where the Minky is underneath.  When your top fabric is light, like the one I used, it is also possible to see the darker Minky underneath.  Use your fingers to guide you along the edge.

Some people recommend starting with one pin on each corner and one in the middle of each side and adding pins evenly out from your center point.  I have done 8 blankets now and have had no issues with starting in one spot and working my way around in a loop.  I started doing it that way because it was easier on my back and knees…

Step 4)  Once you are pinned all the way around, flip the fabric over and trim your excess.  If you can’t be even, I’ve found it is better to have a little of your cotton overhanging the edge than the Minky.

Step 5) Now you are ready to sew!  For this part, it does not matter what color your thread is, it will not show on your finished product at all.  Put the blanket into your machine with the Minky side on the bottom and your cotton on the top.

I used about a 5/8″ Seam Allowance (SA) with my machine set at medium speed.  Too fast or too slow and your Minky will try to stretch one way or the other, which will lead to unwanted tucks.  You want to start sewing about halfway along any side you choose.  Do not start at a corner.

Step 6)  As you are sewing, leave the pins in if you can.  That is why I suggested such a big space from the edge in your initial pinning.  If you run into an area where your pins are too close to the edge to leave in, pull out only the ones you need to in order to sew past that point.

Once you finish one side (of the 4 around the blanket) and stop your machine to turn your blanket to do the next side, that is when I go back along the side just sewn and check to ensure that both sides of the fabric were stitched and I pull my pins from that finished side.

*Line you probably can’t read in photo says ‘Make sure stitch went through both fabrics’

Stop sewing once you are about 6″ from your starting point, leaving an opening.  If you make this opening too small, you will stretch your fabrics when turning the blanket right side out, which will lead to having to tuck your fabrics.  Lock your stitch.

Step 7)  Trim the 4 corners, being careful not to cut through your stitches.  If there are any areas of excessive overhanging fabric, trim those too.

Now, you can turn your blanket right side out!  Once it is facing the right way, stick your arm inside and push out the corners, running your fingers along the inside seam all the way around.

Step 8)  Starting with one of the short sides, grab your corners and lay them on your ironing board.  Iron 2 corners and along the edges that are currently on your board.  Before you move the blanket to iron the other side, PIN AGAIN.  You will stay about the same space in from the edge, but your pins do not need to be nearly as closely spaced this time.

Try to keep the iron off the bulk of the blanket and only on the edges.  If you are using Minky that has raised bumps, like I have, the iron will smooth them out.

Not to worry though, a quick run through the washer and dryer and your blanket will be back to normal.

Step 9)  When you get to the open edge of your blanket, fold the fabric in, to make it in line with the rest of the seam, and pin this section very close to the edge.

Now take the blanket back to your machine and sew this 6″ opening closed, with your Minky on the bottom and cotton on the top, just like last time.  Stay very close to the edge.  If you are going to affix a tag or label to your blanket, this is the perfect spot and opportunity.  Make sure your top thread is now coordinating with your top fabric.  The bobbin thread will pretty much get lost in the Minky, so it is not super-important to match it.

Step 10)  Finally, you can go back to your original SA and do a topstitch around the entire blanket.

I like the look of a simple stitch, but you can get creative here if you want to, using one of the many options on machines today.  Again, I leave the pins in as I sew around the entire blanket.  When you go all the way around, meet back up where you started and lock your stitch.  Pull your pins out and you have a finished blanket!

Step 11)  Sit back, have a glass of wine and enjoy your work!

Stay tuned for an additional tutorial with variations on this blanket. We’ll add rounded corners, do a border or add some applique!

Feel free to ask any questions you might have.  I’m not an expert, but I’ve done this enough that I can probably help you out of a jam if you get into one or if you want to make little changes but don’t know how.  -Kelly