Craft & Design

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Complete Embellishing: Techniques and Projects by Kayte Terry
Buy the Book ($16.47)
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Kayte Terry’s Complete Embellishing is one of my very favorite craft books at the moment. It’s full of super helpful step-by-step tutorials covering everything you need to get going with embellishment techniques like appliqué, fabric stamping, embroidery and glass etching. Once you’ve got those basics down, you’ll be ready to tackle the projects, which range from housewares (like the cute woodland-inspired cocktail glasses) to accessories (ribbon-bedecked shoes, anyone?) and some truly gorgeous wardrobe-enhancers like the cozy, felted Victoriana cardigan. It’s all wrapped up in a handy spiral-bound, beautifully-photographed package that’s the perfect blend of useful content and yummy eye candy.
Guess what? We’re giving away a copy of Complete Embellishing to one lucky CRAFT reader! Just leave a comment to this post and tell us why you need this book. (Please make sure your email address is in your profile so we can contact you if you win.) All comments will be closed by 12pm PST on Tuesday, September 16. The lucky winners will be announced on Wednesday evening on the CRAFT blog. Good luck!
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Reading Kayte’s book made me curious about her background and her views on being an independent businessperson an increasingly challenging marketplace. Read on to find out what doing it yourself really entails.
CRAFT: Do you run your indie business full time, or do you have a “day job” to help keep you afloat? BONUS: If the latter is the case, how do you balance your time/make time for crafting?
I do run my own indie business full-time but not in the traditional “making and selling” way. All of the work I do is in the craft/design world but I work as a writer, stylist and crafter for magazines most of the time. I find that diversifying my business makes it easier to stay afloat and make money. If I don’t make any money at a craft fair, I know there is always a writing or styling job around the corner!
CRAFT: How did you make the transition from working for “The Man” to working for yourself? Did you (do you) ever find yourself doubting your decision, or was the transition a smooth one?
I had been working as a Visual Manager for Anthropologie for several years when I decided to go off and work for myself. I set a goal for how much money I needed to save before I quit and when I hit that goal, I typed up my resignation letter. Luckily, they were really supportive of my decision and still hire me as a freelancer so I didn’t have too many doubts. Also, I found a really great freelance job (working for Adorn magazine) pretty quickly after I left Anthro, so that helped too!
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CRAFT: How do you structure your days when you’re the boss (do you stick to a set schedule, etc.?), and do you have any tips on time/task management?
It’s hard to predict my week to week schedule is going to be like so I have to constantly find balance and plan out my weeks as they come. Some weeks, I work at home writing and crafting and other weeks I am on photo shoots.
I make big lists every week with all of my deadlines and other things I want to accomplish; I love crossing things off! Also, I have started to learn more about my natural work habits: even though I like staying up late I find that I get the most work done early in the morning so now I am trying to get myself out of bed earlier.
Right now, I am still having a hard time making time for me but luckily, I really like my work so I think that most of what I do is fun!
CRAFT: How would you compare the challenges of working for yourself with working for “The Man”?
I probably work more hours than when I worked full-time and I generally work every day, including weekends. Also, I bring my laptop with me on all my vacations and always check my emails. On the other hand, it’s my work and my career only that I am advancing so I feel less resentful about working overtime.
I also think you start to see how all the work you do will effect your career in the longterm. With my book for example, I am doing a lot of extra publicity work and, while I am not getting a paycheck for my efforts, it is going to help me in the future.
CRAFT: How important has the internet been in relation to the growth of your business? Also, would you say the bulk of your business comes from your own website, or from wholesale accounts and/or craft show sales?
I don’t sell that much online so I see the internet in terms of publicity and getting my name known by other crafters and designers. The internet has been extremely important for the growth of my business. A lot of work I have gotten over the years has been from my blog or from people seeing my work on other blogs. It’s been a lot easier for me to get publicity and press on the internet and I have seen great results. A mention on Design*Sponge or Apartment Therapy for instance can really drive your business even if it doesn’t result in many sales. More and more people start to know your name and your business and sales will follow eventually.
I do think it’s really important to sell at craft fairs though. Even though so many people buy their crafts online now, I still think that nothing can replace the experience of buying from a crafter face-to-face.
CRAFT: Is there anything you wish you’d done differently when starting your business, knowing what you know now? BONUS: Any resources for upstart craft businesses that you’d care to recommend?
I think the only thing I wish I had done differently was to be more confident in my abilities. I think that I used to resist sending my portfolio to a magazine or emailing a “big” blogging name because I was afraid of being rejected. I still don’t like being passed over for a job of course but I try to remember that it’s not personal and usually has nothing to do with my skills.
On a more practical note, I have learned how to be more organized with my money and paperwork. I now have a filing cabinet with folders for receipts, contracts, etc and save all my important documents on a hard drive. I don’t really think there is one good way to be organized so people really need to find their own style.
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CRAFT: Any tips on how to keep your business fresh and thriving/growing? How do you stay inspired?
I think that my business has really grown organically as I found what I was good at. I really quickly found that I wasn’t going to be able to survive just selling my own crafts so I started writing about crafts and making things for magazines. I think the best advice being successful is to learn what you are good at and love to do and stick with that.
I also try to check in with myself pretty often and make sure I am working as efficiently and happily as I should. It sounds really silly but sometimes, in the stress of working for myself, I forget that I have an awesome job and that I chose to do this!
I stay inspired by reading a lot, going to museums, going for long walks. I get most of my ideas when I take walks so I take a lot of them and I always carry a sketch pad just in case!
Recently I noticed that I was reading so many craft blogs that I wasn’t getting anything done so even though I find them really inspiring I try to strike a balance between outside influence and inspiration from within.
CRAFT: Becoming an author– did it come as naturally to you as it seems? Would you do it again?
Yes! I think it was exactly what I was looking for. The mix of writing and making and being able to show my personal aesthetic in book form really worked for me. Of course, it was insanely stressful for me but I learned a lot and the second time around is so much easier! Oh and yes, I am writing another book and I am so excited about it! It’s a book about appliqué and it is being published by Chronicle, out next fall!
CRAFT: What’s your favorite project in your new book and why?
It’s so hard to pick one but I really like the Prize Ribbon Skirt, mostly because the skirt came out completely different than I had originally planned it and I love it so much more now! I actually ended up making two versions of the skirt. I hated the first one I made so I scrapped it and came up with the one that you see in the book and I am so glad I trusted my instincts!

100 thoughts on “Kayte Terry Q+A and Book Giveaway

  1. I need this book!!! I am just starting out on my crafting business journey and I need all the help I can get. I am trying to find my niche, giving my pieces their own unique stamp and any kind of information is valuble to me. Plus I have a lot of plain things that need to be jazzed up in a big way.

  2. I need this book because I have been learning to embroider for about 6 months now, and I have so far only been able to commit to embroidering on scrap pieces of cloth rather than real clothing because I just don’t have the confidence to figure out what to embroider on where, and things like that. This book would be helpful to see what kinds of things work and to use to inspiration.
    Thanks!

  3. I want and need this book because life’s too short to take things as they come. Everything needs extra pizzazz!

  4. Wow, I could totally use this book! I’ve just learned how to sew stuff together and would love to know more to add that extra touch to my projects <3

  5. I need this book because I have a bunch of plain clothes and stuff lying around that need to be more interesting. I’m always interested in new techniques, and would love to see what this book can teach me!

  6. I’m always very hesitant with recons – I would love this book to help walk me through some of the easier stuff :)

  7. I would love to win a copy of this book because I am a poor college student who can’t afford to buy anything new so I’m scrambling to come up with crafty ideas to make all my old stuff new again. This seems like it would be just my style and a perfect source of inspiration!

  8. I need this book because every day, every single day, I wake up with the desire to make something out of nothing. Brush to a paint, word to a page, stitch to a fabric. Because the world is nothing if it is not possibility. This book, to me, contains page after page of possibilities, make something exciting, something new, something you didn’t have before. Own it, give it away, sell it, leave it on the bus, but above all…make it.

  9. Hi Kayte,
    I would love this book!
    It speaks to where I am in my creative designing.
    I have been up-cycleing vintage clothes, embellishing & altering clothes for style and a “new up-dated look”….
    And i am always looking for new ways to decorate my home on a budget and for further inspiration such as yours!
    Best Regards, Colleen

  10. I need this book because for some reason, I can only purchase the most plain, basic of items. BUT, I dream of having a unique, lush, fun house and wardrobe. I feel that this book would really help me to achieve that!

  11. As everyone said above this post, it’d be awesome to receive this book to spruce up and add a signature to the ordinary cuts of clothes and furniture that I own…
    But I also know with this type of book, I’d be helping out the environment by reusing, reducing and recycling. It blows my mind how much stuff we collect our entire lives and ends up in the landfills. So I truly believe that a book like this would help me appreciate the things that I already own and make things “new” again… because making things on your own puts a value on it that’s quite priceless.

  12. My house, my clothes, everything around needs to be pimp-up!
    and fast especially before the coming winter… It is already gray here in holland.
    And I must have such a victoriana cardigan!

  13. I need this book because my daughter and I love to decorate and embellish things together and this looks amazing for new ideas and inspiration. Looks like a lot of fun!

  14. I need this book because that cardigan is one of the most gorgeous things I’ve ever seen! Plus everything I own is a solid color and my daughter says I looks too much like a Mom. Go figure. . .
    Great interview!

  15. I recently discovered the joy of sewing and am currently obssessed with embellishing the stuff I sew. However, I am in dire need of a book on embellishment that is chic, crafty and filled with lovely ideas (my local library only stocks the dusty 1980’s ideas). I would be so delighted if I can get my hands on Kayte Terry’s book! =D
    Cheers =)

  16. I need this book because crafting is my life and I love finding new books to inspire me. Also, there has been a bit of a hole in my life ever since they stopped publishing Adorn, do to lack of embellishment inspiration!

  17. I don’t really expect to get this – it’s something everyone commenting wants (and rightly so!) However – I would love to have a copy of this book because I am always looking for new techniques to try in my art/home/day-to-day life and new visual stimuli for inspiration.
    I love reading about art and craft and what people on the cutting edge are doing, and I would love this book.

  18. i fell in love with this book the first time i saw it previewed on a blog. i really really need this book to help me freshen up my wardrobe on a budget!
    ps. thanks for posting the interview- just loved it.
    (freehandsketching at gmail dot com)

  19. I need this book because I am always looking for new ways to spice up my craft and sewing projects! =) Thanks!

  20. the book looks great, but what really touched me was the interview with the author. it was such an inspiration in this dull monday… keep up the good work!

  21. I have been reading about this book all over the blogosphere and I have been convinced over and over how much it’s for me. I love to embroider and would really enjoy learning other ways to embellish my clothes, my home, everything!

  22. This book looks so great! I really need ideas to spice up my otherwise dull and normal looking wardrobe… Why is everything I buy black or gray? Hmmmm…

  23. Wow! What a book! I start making my Christmas presents realllllly early, and this is exactly what I need for my best girlfriends! We all love Anthropologie (where Kayte Terry worked) but can’t afford their cute, detail-oriented styles. A book like this would boost my meager skills and ensure thrifty and chic threads for all my stylish ladies!

  24. I have tried to make clothes from a pattern and most of the time they just don’t work, don’t fit, look wonky. So I tend go hunting for treausres and buying clothes at thrift stores because I can make sure they fit.
    This book would expand my mind to the altering possibilities of many Plain Janes I might otherwise pass up.
    It is so fun get off the grid and off the rack, hand sewing rules!

  25. I need it because i have to improve my english, my skills and my adorns and with the book I’ll do it at the same time ;)

  26. I need this book because I am STUPID about embellishments and need serious help in this particular crafting arena. I need this book because when I embellish something it looks like a project done by kindergarteners on high fructose corn syrup. I need this book so people will stop asking me, “Oh, did your kid make that? How, um ::cough:: … talented.” I need this book because my crafty mother-in-law “secretly” re-gifts my gift projects and makes me feel like a talentless boob. I need this book because I have fun embellishing things whether I’m good at it or not. Help me be good at it ;)

  27. WOW – I’ve signed up and logged in 5 times but still not able to comment. Did I miss something? Either way – I am completely psyched to learn about this book. It is exactly the type of stuff I am getting into but didn’t really know what to call it. How neat! I hope what I make turns out looking as nice as these do.

  28. Thanks for the great interview! I need this book because I love sewing clothes, and would like to be able to add more personalized touches to them. Plus I have a fantasy of someday quitting my job and going into the craft business…anything that could put me a little further along that journey (or at least fuel my fantasy!) would be great!

  29. 1. I am book deprived.
    2. I would love to have inspiration on the go, as I go around doing Mommy things!!
    3. This book looks like a GOOD READ!

  30. i really need this book. my wardrobe is in a desperate state and needs to be spiced up and cutiefied, and i could really use some inspiration and good how-tos to make it happen.

  31. I really need this embellishment book because I am a third-year veterinary student living off loans. I try to fit in creative things as much as I can, and would really appreciate the direction and inspiration. Not to mention how awesome it would be to decorate my wardrobe with some of the many species I’m learning to treat! Thanks for the opportunity. Katie Weiss, weisskat@gmail.com

  32. This book has been on my wish list for a while now. I so need this book – crafting is the only thing that keeps me sane. I work in a thankless jog that I loathe with people that I don’t care for, and all day long I daydream about what I can make when I get home. Please don’t crush my dried up spirit by denying me my only real pleasure in life!
    (OK, maybe it’s not THAT bad, but still!). This book looks awesome!

  33. This book looks wonderful. I just set up my craft space and have a pile of garments that are crying out for creative, clever refashionings. This book will get me started on that mega project. Plus it will do my spirit good.
    Anna

  34. This book looks great! I think it would give me lots of great ideas on new refashioning projects. All the designs on her cover look so sweetly hand-crafted and immaculately well-finished too!

  35. i would love this book because i am trying to only wear clothes i made, but until i have enough of those, i am embellishing or putting some kind of handwork on my old store-bought pieces! some new ideas and inspiration would be put to good use…

  36. Hi great article it’s my birthday today i’m 43 and im starting a new HNC course in knitted textiles at Bradford university at the end of this month and i would love to be inspired by this great book.

  37. I need this because I just moved, and I’m trying to spruce everything up. To start, I have these plain curtains that need some decorating! After that, I have a pile of old clothing that needs to be spruced up so I actually wear it.

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Jenny Ryan

Jenny Ryan is an artist, crafter, and maker of things. She lives in Los Angeles with a pack of various animals (including her husband) and writes about her adventures in creating at Exit Through the Thrift Shop.

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