Pop Up Bins

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So waaaaay back in March Toni dragged me with her to a quilt store in Chicago (as she is want to do) and to my surprise I actually found an item there that wasn’t quilted that interested me. Tote bins in various sizes that could be collapsed for stage and transport; aka pop up bins.

Designed by Jo (the Fat Quarter Gypsy), these lovely bins immediately struck me as something practical I could use around the house and at conventions to hold my yarn and supplies while I was working on projects when not at my work desk. Well, half a year later I finally got to make mine! How did they turn out? Pretty good if I may say so myself. 😉


I made 2 different sizes, the large and medium, and did each of the suggested finishing techniques as well for the top. If you look hard at the large bin on the left you’ll see I even added pockets to hold my tools in when it’s in use. So, being a casual/novice when it comes to sewing what did I think of it? The pattern is simple enough to do if you understand how to use a machine, but the pattern it’s self assumes you know several sewing terms and image short hand. Thankfully we live in an era where information is only a few screen taps or key strokes away, but I’d still recommend talking to someone with more experience with sewing and patterns first to have them explain the process before you jump right in with this as your first pattern.

On the finished product its self, I do feel it’s a sturdy design, with the required wire being very thick and heavy duty enough to support not just the frame but a bit of a beating from being toted about as well. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if the wire outlived the fabric really. Since I just finished them on Sunday I can’t speak yet to how well my additions and durability during construction turned out, but the ties have been holding it down nicely on the large one since Sunday night, and I know they’ll be incredibly helpful when I’m working with balls of yarn to keep them from rolling all around the room.




If you’re looking for a simple project and have someone who can help explain the pattern instructions if you’ve never sewn before, then this one might not be too bad. The first one took me about 3 hours to make as I sussed everything out and prepared the fabric for both, but the second one only took me about 30mins of just sewing once I knew what I needed to do. The fabric required is also very minimal with only a bit more than a yard needed for the medium size one (which measures ~8″ tall). So overall I’d recommend these if you like using bins to hold your stuff and as a fairly simple sewing project if you’re not into making clothes.

If you go to The Fat Quarter Gypsy site they have a full range of sizes from mini to extra large that you can make, and if a seller isn’t near your area you can purchase the pattern and wire ring directly from the designer herself here instead. 🙂

Ways to Sell your goods – Part 1

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One of the biggest questions I have been asked by Craft Hacker members is, “Where do I sell on line?”  Over the summer I created a comprehensive list of places to sell hand made goods on line and want to share it with you.  The month of March will feature my reviews.  They will be ordered from lowest score to the highest scoring Marketplaces.  The places I will be reviewing include:

Today: Etsy, Ebay, Amazon

March 12: Zibbet, Aftcra, Square

March 19: Shopify, Big Commerce, ArtFire

March 26: Storenvy, Big Cartel

If you would like to research your own sites, Artsy Shark has over 250 places to sell your crafts.  

Scoring: All scores are subjective. You may not agree with my personal ratings.  Rating is based on a 1-10 scale, 10 being the best.

C = Cost, S = Space, Cu = Customization, Cs = Customer Service M = Marketing Ability

Amazon 5.6 Overall C – 3,  S – 5,  Cu – 2,  Cs – 9, M – 9

A site that offers a marketplace to sell any type of goods through a fixed price model.
*Note, this is for small sellers on their main site.  The Crafters site they have started has not been around long enough to get a good impression on it.


  • Increased possibility of sales and generate some traffic for you.  Amazon draws 85 million unique visitors monthly.
  • Streamlined simple checkout for customers
  • Easy to list products
  • Chargeback protection so buyers are more willing to buy (you would pay the chargeback, not amazon so could possibly be a con)


  • Lack of branding opportunities.  You can not create your own “store” within the site
  • You must adhere to Amazon’s performance level policies which relate to refunds, shipping times, and feedback.  If you fail to meet these standards your account can be suspended


Ebay 6 Overall C – 7,  S – 6,  Cu – 2,  Cs – 7, M – 8
A website with auctions and marketplaces to sell any type of goods.


  • Increased possibility of sales and generate some traffic for you
  • Streamlined simple checkout for customers


  • People go to Ebay looking for bargains.  If you don’t have the lowest price, they will buy from a competitor
  • Favors buyers over sellers


  • First 20 listings per month no listing fee, after 20 $0.30 per listing, when an item sells 10% of the selling price

Etsy 6.4 Overall C – 8,  S – 6,  Cu – 2,  Cs – 8, M – 8
An online marketplace that used to be dedicated to hand-made.  It is set up in a shop format and allows for searching for your products from the main page.


  • Fairly easy to post new items
  • Well respected by customers
  • They generate some traffic for you and reason for traffic can be determined
  • Good Mobile app
  • Ability to put the store in vacation mode
  • Incredible Shipping Support with shipping options built in.


  • Can be cumbersome to post unique items that don’t fit into a category
  • Getting noticed is hard
  • Manufacturers can also be on Etsy
  • Saturated Market
  • Cookie Cutter store.  It is hard to stand out from other shops on the site.


  • $0.20 to list an item, when an item sells 3.5% of the selling price

These reviews are done from the perspective of an artisan and not selling manufactured products.  I hope they help you decide where to sell your crafts if you make the decision to sell on line.


Artist Feature: Dog Might Games, now with 50% more IRL adventure!

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We live a world where plastic rules, where products are not expected to last for more than 6 months, and where there is very little option, minus the use of a sharpie, to make something our own.  This is why we’re here, though!  We craft because we want to express ourselves and because we want quality, we want the items in our lives to truly mean something.

This is exactly where Dog Might Games stands.  You may remember a feature I wrote for them a while back (seen here) where I reviewed their work and artistry, and talked about their unique perspective.  Recently this lumberjack/canine company set up a Kickstarter for their most recent creation: The Dragon Sheath.


These pieces are meant to house your various tabletop RPG items, keeping them secure and neat, which is much like the box itself!

The obvious: These are really well made.  This is like the blackbox of a dice plane; the magnets holding it closed are incredibly strong but have been placed in a way that makes for easy angle opening.

I actually took my dragon sheath to a tabletop game store here in Manhattan and showed it to the employee to ask him what he thought.  I could tell he was ready to be underwhelmed, but as he held it, opened it, and looked it over, he let out a very surprised “This is actually really nice.. REALLY nice.  I’ve never seen anything like it.  This store had a so many items I could barely walk through it, and yet they did not have anything like this.

The wood is beautiful and sturdy and the spaces cut out within are perfectly sized for your dice, coins, figures, whatever you want because you get to choose!  You also get to choose the wood and the design on both sides.  It’s almost as if these guys actually want to give you what you want by giving you custom-made pieces…wait…

I think even Michael Bay himself would have a hard time wanting to blow this thing up.  He’d do it, but he’d shed a tear.

I love the variety that is offered with this new piece: from designs to wood choice, to customized interior chambers, it is all here.  Whether you’re a seasoned D&D’er, or just looking to break into IRL RPG, these dice sheaths are a beautiful and functional addition to your tabletop munitions.


– Shalyn

Pattern Review: McCalls M7217 Bodysuit

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It isn’t very often that I find a pattern that I love. I usually have to tweak them somehow. Today’s post, though, is about a pattern that I have been looking for for nearly a year.


I didn’t know I needed Yaya Han & McCall’s bodysuit pattern M7217, but after three different attempts at making a bodysuit for my Mara Jade costume, I was ready to try just about anything. Yaya Han’s pattern came out, and I purchased it, thinking what’s the worst that could happen?

This pattern is incredibly versatile and customisable. In addition to having a number of options to start with, it also has a customisable bust line by cup size, something that I wish more patterns had. Its perfect if you want or need to use more than one type or colour of fabric, like so many superhero costumes do.

The pattern itself is well written and easy to follow. The handy stretch guide on the back makes it easy to find suitable fabric and the fact that it only requires 2-way stretch material made sourcing material infinitely easier.

I think the only thing I wasn’t keen on was the zipper instructions. I didn’t like that they had the zipper put in last, as that’s not how I like to do my invisible zips, but the pattern still worked just fine when I put it together my way. Had I actually done it their way, they still had very clear and easy to follow instructions that would suit even beginner stitchers.

If you weren’t certain what you were doing with it, the McCalls Cosplay Blog has a string of entries to help you figure out the best way to deal with stretchy materials, hints on adding extra details like piping, and general tips to make the construction easier. You don’t have to read the blog to successfully put together the bodysuit, but if you have questions, they’ve covered just about everything.

Would I recommend this pattern? Absolutely. It is the best bodysuit pattern that I’ve tried, and I have tried several including making one specifically to my body measurements from scratch.

I would especially recommend this bodysuit pattern if you’re not a standard sizing or want to alter the seams. The customisation available is just fantastic. I’m a lot curvier than many and I’ve tried a number of catsuit patterns, all of which looked like I’d just wrapped myself in a tube of fabric which was just unflattering. Yaya’s pattern entirely fixed that problem with its bust size choices.

As for my project, the Mara Jade costume I made with it has been a huge success so far. Its comfortable, movable, and hugs in all the right places. I really can’t ask for anything better than that.

~ eliste