Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Create: Fa-la-la-la-la Fa-leece Hats for the Holidays

'Tis the season to break out hats and mittens and to start thinking about stocking stuffers and Christmas gifts!  This tutorial should help you cross a few of the nice people off your list.  Follow these easy directions below:

1.  Cut a rectangle of polar fleece approximately 1/2" bigger than head measurement by 16"-18" tall, depending on how long you like your fringe.  Don't worry, if it's too long you can always trim it later.

2.  Cut one 1" by 10" strip, set aside.

3.  Fold your fleece rectangle in half width-wise and stitch 1/2" seam allowance all the way from the top to the bottom of the hat lengthwise.  Don't forget to backstitch at the beginning and end of your seam.

4.  Turn the bottom edge up 2.5".  Pin in place, and stitch the edge down. I prefer to zig zag this as it allows for a bit of stretching where as a straight stitch may break when its pulled over the head.

5.  Bunch the top about 3-4" from the top of the hat.  Lay your 1" by 10" strip of fleece under the hat.  

6.  Tie the strip in a knot--double knot this.  

7.  Cut the top into fringes 1" wide.  Trim the strip to same length as the fringes.  Voila, your hat is finished.  Push the "easy" button. 

Repeat and share the hat love!

- Ahmelie

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Create: Brownies in a Jar

Brownies or cookies in a jar? Do I see a big question mark on your face? Yes, this is absolutely do-able, and fun as well! Adorable jars with decorative instructions are sure to be a huge hit. The secret behind it: mixing the dry brownie (or cookie) ingredients together and layering them alternately so their structures, colors and textures show beautifully in a glass jar, close the lid, add baking instructions and you have a truly lovely gift. You can get your child involved in measuring and packing each ingredient layer into the jar and choosing decorative fabric. Your kids will love putting these brownies in a jar together and giving them out as gifts! They make great thank you gifts for your kids’ teachers.

As a special treat for you, we are adding various different colored labels and tags for you to choose from so you can make these for many different occasions. Or go for a colorful mix-and-match of the different tags and labels. You can find the label and tag PDFs on our MHC Download page where they are available for free download.

Note: the pictures you see here show a pint size jar whereas the recipe is for a quart size jar. The pint size jar holds ca. a half recipe.

What you’ll need:
1 quart size mason jar, wide mouth
Fabric cut into 7 ¼ inch squares
Ribbon or twine, 18 inches

To fill each jar, you will need:
1¼ cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups white sugar
⅔ cup cocoa powder
¼ cup white chocolate chips
¼ cup butterscotch chips

1. Mix together the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar in a large bowl.

2. Take 1½ cups of this mixture and put it in the bottom of the mason jar. Be sure to firmly pack down this layer before adding the next layer.

3. Layer the white chocolate chips and then the butterscotch chips. Get most of the chips on the outside, touching the glass. Don’t worry about the middle because you won’t see that when the jars are finished.

4. Now, add the cocoa powder to the remaining flour-sugar mixture that is in your bowl. This is your final layer.

5. If you have space at the top of your jar, add more chocolate chips.

6. Screw the lid on your jar, cover with fabric and tie the fabric around the lid with ribbon or twine. Finally, attach tag or add label with the baking instructions so whoever receives these brownies in a jar, knows what to do with the mixture. To download or print the free Brownie Mix in Jar Labels and Tags, go to our MHC Download page.

Helpful tips:

  • Make sure you pack all the layers down really tight otherwise you may not fit all the ingredients. Press it down firmly with a utensil that has a wide flat bottom or use your fingers.
  • You can mix up the recipe: use your favorite nuts or use colored candies (such as M&Ms) instead of the chocolate and butterscotch chips. Remember that the more contrast you have with regards to the ingredients’ color and texture, the more each layer will stand out.
  • If you have space at the top of your jar, you can fill it with chopped nuts, such as pecans or walnuts or add extra chocolate chips!
  • Make sure your ingredients are not reaching their expiration date any time soon and these jars can be kept for up to 6 months. If you have nuts in the jars, then they need to be used within 3 months.
  • White sugar and flour seeps down into the other layers so it is best to keep these at the bottom and put candies and nuts above.
  • You can adapt this concept and use your favorite cookie or brownie recipe, just remember to include detailed instructions so the recipient knows how to put this special treat together.
  • If you pack the cocoa mixture into your jar in the bottom or the middle, be sure to carefully wipe out the inside of the jar above it with a dry paper towel so that the rest of the layers will show through the glass.
  • You can also give away the mixture along with a couple of squares of the baked product.

- Tali

Friday, November 18, 2011

Friday Finds: Warm & Woolly Hats

Winter never looked so cool in these sweet hats for children! My mother always said, "Don't forget your hat".  "Ah, Mom," I would whine. Well, we have come a long way baby, with these adorable hats for kids! What child would not want to wear these super cute finds? I wish I was a kid again so I could wear them myself. These unique designs are full of eco friendly fabrics and even fun pattern pdf's for the crafy mom. So, encourage your children, and keep them warm and woolly this season, with these cool hats for kids. 

1. Baby Lion Pixie Hood by Crafting Adventures
2. The Ile Parisienne by Toque Beauties (stormlove15)
3. Anthropologie Inspired Headband by askcher
4. Green Royal Crown by World of Whimm
5. Crochet Sock Monkey Hat by Sugar and Spice Crochet
6. Monte Moose Beanie by BumbleFuzz Kids
7. Crochet Triceratops Hat Pattern by Micah Makes
8. Apple Hat by Your Mom Designs
9. Fleece Owl Hat by Little Sprout Baby

- Tanja
  Inspiring Design Studio

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Top 7 Tips For Shopping Online

For a long time I've thought I should write up a list of tips/common mistakes that I see online shoppers make. Since it seems like all the commercials and news reports are Christmas shopping happy already  (sheesh it's barely November) I thought this would be a good time for that. From my years operating a pretty busy Etsy shop I've seen same issues over and over. I know I wouldn't have thought about some of these things when I was just a shopper so I hope that these are helpful to some of you.
  1. READ THE WHOLE LISTING I know that some descriptions are long. You can skim them, but make your eyes look at all the words. A good listing will give you an idea about sizing, shipping times and more. When shopping online reading the words and looking at all the pictures is the same as picking up the product and looking at the details or trying something on. One time I bought a notebook and didn't read the whole listing so I didn't realize until it arrived that it was much smaller than I was envisioning but when I go back to the listing sure enough it had measurements. As a seller I get customers emailing me all the time wondering about shipping time frames when my listings all have that information in them.
  2. VERIFY THE TIME FRAME, SIZING AND OTHER DETAILS BEFORE ORDERING hopefully all these details will be included in the listing. If not check the policies or announcements section of the store (etsy has both of these, most other online retailers have something similar). If you don't see these details message the seller BEFORE you place your order. I've got my shipping info in each listing and in my policies but a few times a week I've get messages asking if an item has shipped (often 1-2 weeks earlier than the scheduled ship date). I also get panicked messages about upcoming events customers need the item for, I try my best to accommodate them when I can, which a lot of times means me rearranging my schedule. But if I had been asked before the order was place I could probably have done it faster and with less stress for both of us. But what usually happens is a week or more passes and the person needs it in the next few days so if they're lucky I have to drop everything and they usually have to pay express shipping or if I'm too swamped I have to say sorry. Even if you're not shopping for an event or your event is quite a bit out, if the time frame isn't clear ask. Try to think of questions you have BEFORE you order and if you don't find the answer ask.
  3. USE REAL CONTACT INFORMATION I know a lot of people use a junk email address that they never check for online transactions but as a seller I want to beg you not to do this. For most of my orders people have to tell me what size they want. They forget all the time. I have to email multiple people each week to ask what size they want. Some never respond I'm assuming because they don't check their messages. On etsy there is a conversation/message system. If you use etsy you should have your convos forwarded to an email address you use or make a point to check your convos. When there's info missing I send a convo, if I don't here back I send an email. And a week later if I don't hear I do it again, if I remember. This Halloween I had three customers who ordered costumes that didn't include sizes and never responded to my messages so they didn't get costumes and I had to cancel their orders. One emailed me 2 days before Halloween asking where the costume was. I had already canceled the order since I couldn't even start making it because I didn't know what size to make it. One time I ordered a kitchen gadget that I wanted really bad and fast. They ended up emailing me to tell me it was out of stock and they were canceling my order (totally lame right?) but if I used a junk email I'd have been stuck waiting and wondering for a long time.
  4. INCLUDE NECESSARY INFORMATION related to the tip above, if you get to pick certain details (like size, color, etc.) make sure you include it. On etsy there's the spot to do that is in the notes section when you check out. And for goodness sake please make sure your address is correct and if on etsy that your etsy and paypal addresses are the same. If you forget some info or notice that an incorrect address is there message the seller right away with the correct information and if they don't respond follow up in case they have missed the message or in case the message go put in their spam folder.
  5.  CHOOSE FROM THE OPTIONS AVAILABLE so this may sound like a weird one but I get a lot of orders for sizes I don't carry. Either too big or ambiguous. In bottoms I sell 6-12 months and 12-24 months so when people write 12 months I'm not sure which they want and I have to email and hope they'll reply. I imagine with other option based orders similar problems can arise. Look at the options and wordings included in the listing and pick one of them. If you actually want an option not obviously describe (for example a different color or different size) ask before ordering.
  6. INCLUDE ANY RELEVANT DATE  I recommend including the date you need the item by (if there is a date) even if it's after the time line stated. Emergencies pop up and especially with the smaller shops like on etsy, the shop owners usually do everything so if something comes up they don't have someone to cover 'her shift'. If you've included that you need it by a certain time you'll probably be given priority. I know plenty of people who feel comfortable using online shopping last minute but I personally don't advise it, things happen, people are human, and the post office makes mistakes. Unless you're willing to pay a whopping 18$ for express shipping plan ahead.
  7. ASK QUESTIONS Finally feel free to send a message if you have a question. But before you do that please please please read all the info. Read the listing description fully, the policies, the shop announcements, if you have a confirmation email read that and anything else you can find. Most sellers are happy to help but if they've done a good job with the listings and other literature your question may already be answered there. I spend hours (yes hours) every day responding to messages. It'll save both of you time. But there are plenty of times when you just need to ask so whether you just a little anxious and need a personal confirmation, you have questions about possible customizations, are hoping to make a certain deadline or anything else ask away.
Well I hope that helps and if you have any of your own helpful tips I'd love you to share them in the comments section. Happy shopping.

- Marissa
  Rae Gun

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Winter 2011 Issue out now!

October has come to a close, and with it, some of us have already seen our first snowfall – a reminder that Winter soon will be here.  Before we know it, we will be bundling up in scarves and hats, cozying up by the fire at night, and enjoying all of the special celebrations that this season brings.

Here at MHC, we are excited to kick off the season as we present our Winter 2011 issue! Enjoy fun tutorials for Christmas crafts, tips for expanding your child's winter wardrobe, a Holiday Gift Guide with handmade gifts for every budget, inspiring interviews, delicious recipes, and much, much more.  So grab a mug of hot cocoa, then simply click on the cover below to get a taste of the wonders of Winter!

Your feedback and ideas are always welcome...send us an email, chat with us on facebook, or just post a comment right here!

Wishing you a warm and joyful Winter,

The Staff at Modern Handmade Child
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