Thursday, July 28, 2011

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Fonts, Photos, Patterns, and Resources with GUEST: How About Orange

Wow. Just one day into the contest and I'm already blown away by your images! I know it's going to be hard to choose since there are a bunch I love. Thankfully I have my husband to help me with the picking (I've been sharing your headers and he's impressed too).

If you're still scheming over what to design for the contest, let's aid you with helpful resources. And for that, let's go to one of my favorite online design bloggers....Jessica from How About Orange.
I've been admiring her site for years; it was one of the first I followed. And if I'm ever looking for design inspiration, info on cool new fonts, or I feel like taking a "design personality" test, I know How About Orange will have it. She never disappoints!
Jessica is a designer at heart (and by trade) but she also sews, crafts, photographs, and shares a wide variety of projects on her site. And it's not limited just to orange. Jessica loves color--and paint chips lately. She whips up the coolest projects with paint swatches and office supplies.
But the real kicker is her latest fabric line: Outside Oslo. Yep, she's also a textile designer. Don't you love her? (You can purchase Outside Oslo here and read about all her textiles and ribbons here). Her fabrics have been featured in books, magazines, and all over blogland. I'm sure you recognize those happy designs. The gray/blue tote below, made by Jessica's mom, just wants to jump into my arms. I'm certain.
Seriously, Jessica is brilliant at what she does.
And she's going to share some of her genius with us today.
So take it away Jessica!....
Greetings, everyone! And congratulations to Dana on MADE's three-year anniversary. Many bloggers never make it to a three-month anniversary, so it's an impressive accomplishment.

If you're tempted to join the fun and enter Dana's header design contest, I've compiled some resources that might help you. It can be daunting to know where to begin, right? You might be thinking, "I don't have any nice pictures. I don't have any cool fonts. Unless Dana wants me to make her a header out of duct tape and mail it to her in a box, this is out of my league."
Not so.
The internet is a wonderland of free resources if you know where to look.
You might consider using a stock photo in your header. Any of Dana's images are fair game, or you can browse for free stock photos at, a public image archive of high resolution photos. Stock.xchng is another source for freebies.
If you'd prefer textural background images instead of photos of objects, take a look at Lost and Taken, a gallery of textures free for personal and commercial use.
A repeating pattern can be fun, too. At both Pattern Cooler and Japonizer, you can select a pattern, recolor it, resize it, and download a file that will tile seamlessly. BgPatterns is similar but adds a texture to the background, and Tartan Maker is all about... you guessed it: plaid.
You'll need text in your header, and several sites offer high-quality fonts you can download for free. (Thank you, type designers!) Among the best are The Lost Type Co-op, The League of Moveable Type, and Font Squirrel. also offers some of their typefaces for free; find them by filtering by price and entering "0" in the search field. For help installing fonts, click here and look for "How do I install a font?"

And now you're off and running. Happy designing!
Thank you Jessica!
As always, you're a wealth of resources.

After sharing 3 years of blog headers with you yesterday, I thought, let's talk a bit about graphic design and then....let's have a contest!!

First off, I'm not a graphic designer. My dad is. Not me. But I like dabbling in that world and trying to pretend like I know what I'm doing.

Would it surprise you to know that all my "design" stuff is done in Microsoft Word? Yes, WORD. Maybe that doesn't surprise you since my headers are fairly simple and straightforward (and now you know why). One day I'll learn Adobe Illustrator like my sister. But for now, I'm making it work.

And you know, that's really what this blog is all about....Tim Gunn's famous words: "Make it Work."

Over the years you guys have sent emails saying how much sewing has inspired you to think creatively, it's helped you think outside of the box, or until you started sewing, you didn't realize how much artist was really in you! Those kind of emails make me smile. Because yes, the more we explore our creative sides the more we realize, I can do that! Can't find the right shirt in the store? Make it! Need a cool coffee table? Find a discarded one and spruce it up. Need a new button for your blog? Make your own! You. Can. Do it.

You don't have to be a graphic designer to create a spiffy blog. Most of what I've done to my site, I learned by reading online tutorials about html, how to tweak it, and how to add things to make the blog just what I want. Of course as soon as I'm "done", I'm ready to change it up it up again, because I get bored. So it's a forever work in progress. But that's also part of the fun.

Okay, cut to the chase?
I'd like YOU to design my Header!

Don't think you have that "design" sense in you? Don't worry. You just might! And over the next week, I have some professional design and photography experts lined up to share tips with you! I'll also be sharing my own tips and images of my favorite blog headers from other sites.
So we won't leave you without inspiration.

Okay let's talk about what you'll WIN, and then I'll lay out the rules...

Once the entries are closed, I'll share roundup posts showcasing my favorite headers from your entries.
Then I'll narrow it down to my top three.
And finally, I'll announce the Winner.
The two Runner-up Winners will get:
* $25 gift card to Joann

The Winner will get:
* their Header on the MADE blog for 2 weeks!
* a button on the sidebar that says "designed by____"
* a button for their own blog that says "I designed on MADE"...or something similar
* a huge pat on the back for making something really cool!

* fresh, clean looks; not too cluttered
* pretty colors but also "white space"
* cool fonts
* photos...or no photos (am I confusing you?)

Mostly, I'm looking for something that I just look at and say, "ahh. I like that!"
How's that for vague?
But you guys have a sense for my style and flavor.

* The contest runs from today 7/27 to Saturday 7/30/11 at midnight.
That gives you a week and a few days to enter.
* Final Winner will be announced on Monday 8/8, with their new header on the site. It will stay up for two weeks after that time.

* Only 3 header entries per person
* the header image must include the blog title:
MADE (in any style, size, font you like)
* the image needs to be at least 1000 pixels wide.
If you have no idea what I'm talking about, make something as big as the header you currently see on my blog. The shape can be whatever you'd like....I'm open to your creativity. But I typically go with long rectangular headers.
* the image should be in jpg or png format (please no illustrator files, etc)
* You may use ANY images or photos from my blog that you like! I often use a photo in my header and since it's for the MADE blog, I thought I'd offer you the same. You may tweak the images however you like! Change the color, stretch them, scribble on them, whatever! If I don't like I won't pick it. But I'm curious what your creative minds come up with.

I've created a specific FLICKR group for the contest, called Design My Header.
* Join the group.
* Add your image to the group (each person is authorized to add 3 images)
* In the notes of your entry you must include:
- Your name
- a link to you site, blog, or an email address. I need some way of getting ahold of you!

And that's about it.
Come back tomorrow for our first guest post with tips and ideas to help you in the design process. Ready, set, go.
The contest is open now!

Monday, July 25, 2011

3 years of blogging, 3 years of headers

As we traveled last month I realized....hey, I've been blogging for exactly 3 years now! I can't believe it's been that long (and still so short?) I hope to keep it up for years ahead of us. And though I'm not super sentimental when it comes to birthdays, I thought this was a good excuse to celebrate the last 3 years with a journey through blog headers and a bit of MADE history.
I started MADE because I needed a place to catalog my sewing projects and ideas--my own online portfolio.
After Owen was born in 2007 and I got in the swing of two kids, I started sewing again and was sharing projects on our family blog. But then the project posts became more frequent than the family posts. So I thought...why not have a separate spot for the projects? Then the people who are actually interested in the sewing stuff can find it all in one place. So I jumped on Blogger and created a new site.

Then I needed a name and a header/image.

I wanted the name to be simple, not too wordy, and to describe what I was doing..which was sharing projects that were finished and completed (rather than things I hoped to make). So I thought, well, this is what I've made.
And that was that.

I created the mint green header above, which sat on the blog for probably a year. Pretty simple and still one of my favorite colors.

For that first year of blogging, it was mostly friends and family stopping by, leaving encouraging words and comments. It wasn't until I posted my first tutorial, The Shirt Dress, that I saw a big jump in traffic and realized that the blogging world is really a community, with everyone sharing ideas and linking to each other. So I continued sewing, sharing what I'd MADE, and the blog continued to grow. I eventually changed up the header, adding more color. Makes me want to eat rainbow sherbet.
For the next two years I kept sharing tutorials and ideas and trying to improve my photography, since that's probably my favorite part of the process. I love the sewing and sharing. But finding a way to make it look interesting through photos is most fulfilling to me. I also started using project images in my headers (Modern Leaf Pillows and Super Snowflakes).
Fast forward 3 years to today and the blog has become more than a hobby (and is definitely a full-time job). But because I really love doing it, I don't mind staying up till 2am placing tutorial photos in order or tweaking html code to get a widget just where I want it. I've been blessed to watch my hobby turn into a small business. And I hope it continues to go to bigger places.....with more Celebrate Series, new ideas, and larger creative aspirations.
We'll see what happens!
And what happens is largely due to YOU. So seriously, I hate to get gushy here but thank you for stopping by! You guys really, truly keep me motivated to keep "doing stuff"--as my husband puts it.
You guys make me excited to put an idea out there in the cyberspace and to see how it's received. You give me great feedback. And of course it's fun to feel like you have thousands of friends. I wish we could throw a blogging party for everyone and just hang out eating peanut m&ms and diet cokes. Maybe one day.
Okay, this post is getting long.
Just a few more headers to finish the collection.....
This is one of my favorites, for Celebrate Yellow. I had an image in my mind of those yellow beads and when I laid them worked!
I wish Lucy's spray-painted shoes would fit forever. They were so cute. But I'm glad I have a picture of it.
Winter Christmas lights:
I got bored in January and needed to switch it up again:
Our biggest Celebrate theme yet! The BOY, part 2
This is another favorite header. I guess I like spelling out the name with tangible items--a fun challenge.
We did an impromptu BOY week this summer.
This was supposed to go up on July 4th but I spaced it. So uh, please enjoy it on July 26 instead.
Stripes are always on my mind.
And I couldn't decide on these last two for the new header so I'm sharing both.
Thanks for making blogging a great community experience for me and everyone out there. I never knew I'd be emailing with moms around the world, who are in the same walks of life, sewing and raising kids, and we'd have so much in common (though we speak a different language).

Here's to more blogging years to come!

AND...I have a little surprise to share soon.
I'm holding a small contest! Something related to this post. Stay tuned!