Monday, December 21, 2015

Super reusable fabric gift wrap bags

Just wanted to post up about a Christmas tradition in my house... fabric gift bags! Yup, a few years ago my eco-friendly brother-in-law started introducing some alternatives to gift wrap at our family christmasses... baskets, gift boxes, and yes, fabric. My sister and brother-in-law aren't sewers so they'd get a yard of fabric on super clearance discount after Christmas the year before, pinking sheer the edges so they would fray, and call it good. That's awesome, but when I got the yard of fabric I went a step further and made it into several different-sized gift bags, so here's what my package pile looks like now:

These are really simple and easy to sew up. I very casually only sorta measure a package when I have to make one, but since they're used for years, at this point I'm not making a ton. I sew the side seam and follow up with zigzag stitch. Then I sew the bottom. Then I pin and hem the top. People aren't looking too clearly at the stitching or hems so I either pin or iron but never both - it takes five minutes to make one of these things.

Then I either tie the top closed (bag-style) or I fold the top inside the package like a pillowcase:

Finish with a ribbon and you're done!

This is a great "thread user" project, use up the end of a spool that you don't need around, since long zigzag stitching uses lots of thread and as I said, these are cheap and casual and nobody pays attention to whether your thread matches. They'll get re-used for years, unlike paper gift bags. They can hold a ton of weight, get thrown in the back of a car and they don't get mashed up.

Dark fabric with busy patterns works best because it's gift wrap, you can sometimes see through white!

In my family we set a price limit every year and every person gets gifts from everybody so the pile of wrapping paper used to be bags and bags of throw away paper, but between my sister introducing random yards of fabric and me making them into bags we keep and send around, we're barely trashing or recycling anything these days! Less mess and less time spent on wrapping, we are definitely going the right direction!

Saturday, December 12, 2015

2016 color trends

It's December again and since Etsy success requires that we keep looking ahead, let's just pretend it's 2016! I don't post many treasuries but I made this one of 2016 color trends and wanted to save it here for posterity's sake. To find the items I used a combination of casual browsing like always, but leaned heavily on the color app on my widgets page that lets me type in any hex code and find Etsy items that match.

The treasury:

'2016 Colors' by spacefem

Treasury of trending colors for 2016 - bright, happy, ready for a new year!

Ladies Underwear- Pink Linge...

GIGANTIC Shabby Chic Vintage...

Blue Pottery Vase, 10 1/4 in...

Handmade Laptop Bag ,Yellow ...

Neon Green, Suede Fringe Tas...

5 clothespins turquoise dis...

hanging lamp/wooden lamps/pe...

Superfine merino felting woo...

Handmade carmine felt Cachep...

Glass Cabochons Ornate Flora...

Hand-made in Ethiopia: The L...

Horse Throw Blanket Horse Bl...

Vintage brown wide slashed l...

My house at night. - Print o...

Lalique France Noel 1992 Gre...

Dahlia Flower Pillow Cover -...
Powered By Handmadeology

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Make a blank paper book out of one sheet of paper

My teacher mom was here this weekend and since my five year old is so artistic/prolific, Mom showed us how to make an 8 page book out of a single sheet of paper. If you've got budding young illustrators in your house too this will be a fun project!

Mom says this works better with an 11x17 sheet, but we had 8.5x11 so that's what's in these photos. It's okay to use a scrap paper that's been printed on one side, your blank side will be the only one showing.

Start by folding your paper in half down the middle.

Then fold again lengthwise

Then fold in half again so now it's in eighths

Now unfold until you're back to the one fold in half:

Cut from the center fold to the 1/4 fold, right in the middle:

Unfold only the top layer, along your fold line:

Now fold width-wise back to 1/4:

Fold in half again so you're back down to the 1/8 size:

Start your book! It should stay together very nicely.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Coloring pages for pi day

Last year around March 14th, I was getting ready to celebrate Pi Day with my daughter, like every good nerdy family. As a creative kid, one of her favorite things to do is COLOR, so I told her we'd print out some pi day color pages for her and her friends. I went internet searching but woe was me... I didn't find anything I loved!

So I made my own.

And now they're available on open clipart:

Hope you enjoy!

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Reblog: If you want to sell on the internet you have to be on the internet

I officially approve of and recommend this blog post:

artologica: If you want to sell on the internet, you have to be on the internet

It's about internet marketing - but not the way you think. The gist is that you can't just put a photo out on the internet and assume people will come running to buy your wares. You also can't broadcast onto twitter and pinterest like a robot, reading nothing, and assume people will read what you're saying.

So get out there, people! Be the kind of internet user who you enjoy hearing from, it'll do you good!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

How TrueTwit Validation Spam drove me to start @StopTrueTwit

If you're here, you've probably run into this scenario:

1) You joined twitter (I love twitter!)
2) You clicked "follow" next to some profiles of folks who shared some interests with you.
3) Sometimes after you'd follow someone, you'd get a direct message (DM) right back telling you that the person you followed uses the TrueTwit validation service, and requesting that you visit an external website so you can prove that you're "valid".

If you clicked, you were asked to type in a word (captcha) to prove you're not a robot. And then... nothing really happens. Whether or not you type in the captcha you're still following the person. Whether or not you type in the captcha they can still decide you're cool (or not) and follow you back (or not). Bots are certainly capable of typing in captchas these days, and spammers are welcome to join the truetwit network so they can escape the captchas all together. So what's it all about?

If you got a few of these messages, you'd wonder how you could stop them from flooding your message box, and consider joining TrueTwit so it would forever know that you are not a robot. That's when you'd find out that to join TrueTwit, you must also give TrueTwit access to your twitter account, so they can send all your new followers DMs to their website asking them to "validate".

Or, if you don't want to send DMs, you can pay them $20.

Does that sound fishy? It did to me. I love twitter - my main account is @spacefem but I also run @etsytrades for people who like trading handmade items they've posted on Etsy, and I run @wichitaswe for my local Society of Women Engineers to let people know about free technology events for kids. I love meeting new people on twitter, so I'm always clicking "follow" buttons!

I also like to reserve the use of Twitter's direct message system for very important things - so I hate getting messages that tell me to go visit a website that really does nothing.

When I complained to @GoTrueTwit about this, here's the nice message I got back:


I noticed I wasn't the only one... when I searched twitter for "truetwit", nearly every tweet was about how people hated it!

Yes all those tweets are from a time period of just a few hours, because they're really easy to find. No tweets thanking truetwit for a great service - no one appreciates truetwit. They're just annoyed into it.

TrueTwit, in return, says this about their critics:

So because I don't like truetwit, I'm a slutbot? I thought I was a 34-year-old married mom from Kansas who tweets about arts and crafts. I don't think this is a service that any of us should refer to for evaluating people, especially on Twitter, a place where 160 character bios make it really easy to quickly determine who's worth following back and who isn't.

So that's why I launched @StopTrueTwit. I'm sad that TrueTwit has been able to annoy so many twitter users into signing up for their service and sending out all those DM spam messages to new followers. Some people don't even know they're doing it! To me, TrueTwit is running an extortion service: either pay us, become our spambot, or suffer annoying DMs every time you dare click "follow" on a potential new twitter friend.

They're also a spam advertising service - they constantly brag about how much traffic their site gets so they can make more money on ads. In other words, they've gotten thousands of twitter users to send out links a website where only TrueTwit gets ad revenue. Their users give them free advertising, and they make money!

If TrueTwit has lured you in, visit and see if TrueTwit is listed. Click the "revoke access" button next to them to free yourself so they can't use your account.

And please never click a link you get via DM to "validate". Real people on twitter can decide for themselves if you're a real person. When you click those links, you're not showing that you're real, you're showing support for DM spam.

My @StopTrueTwit campaign has several goals:

1) Let people know that TrueTwit is really spam, if you don't like it you are not alone.
2) Serve as a resource for people trying to get truetwit's grabby teeth out of their account, with screenshots, Q&A, and quick tips for how to disable it
3) Get the attention of Twitter and the API team to ask them to shut down the service altogether. I realize this will take a bit of a following. @support has ignored me so far. But some strength may come from numbers.

Yes, I realize there have been anti-truetwit campaigns before that were launched and then abandoned, I will not do that. I am darn persistent. I've been running for 12 years now. I still blog on livejournal - very 2003, I know, but I don't abandon stuff I care about. So trust me, and stay with me. I may not be a social media expert, so if you are you can definitely shoot an email to with tips on how we can stop truetwit.

Let's work together to free twitter from DM spammers, and make it the great place that we all love!