The Making of a Pattern

I’ve been kind of alone in this whole pattern making process. I mean, I’ve bought other people’s patterns before (shout out to Teresa Wentzler, whose design work is now sadly closed, but forums are still accessible), and I’ve seen how they look. And I have the professional version of PatternMaker, now, sadly, unsupported. But I had what I’d call a steep learning curve. I’ve never actually known anyone personally that used it. And I certainly didn’t feel comfortable asking professional designers questions about how they published their patterns. So I figured it out on my own.

In the beginning, I did it all manually. I mean I quickly saw how to export the pattern and the info sheet to JPGs, but I did everything manually after that. I had to export both a pattern picture with the lines and center markings, AND a solid color image with no graph or marking to show what the finished product would look like. I went into my image editor and manually cut the pattern picture into quarters so that I could show them enlarged in my pattern book. I figured out a way to add grey borders to the inside edges of patterns to show overlap. I figured out how to watermark the solid color image. I opened a new document, and pulled each piece into that doc, along with all the requisite formatting and tinkering. Then I exported that document into a PDF. That was before I even started on the work for creating a listing on Etsy. I had to make a list of steps so that I wouldn’t miss any steps…because I did a few times. The list had 17 steps.

But then, a revelation! I discovered the Professional’s version had a feature called “layout”. That made a lot of things a lot easier. But it also lead to learning more features needed for what layout required. I learned how to mark “Layout regions”, dividing up the pattern into sections that I could then insert into the layout, so that the pattern was displayed enlarged in sections. This, by itself, has saved me literally HOURS. I learned where to fill in information so that it could easily be inserted into the layout, without having to retype it each time. I learned how to save layouts, so that I didn’t have to recreate them each time. Again, HOURS saved.

So now it seems simple. Finish design. Fill in info for pattern name, notes, and fabric type. Set fabric size. Turn off grid, turn on solid design, export to graphic. Mark layout regions. Go into Layout mode, select pre-made layout with 4 enlarged quarters + 1 detail + cover page + info page. Insert graphic on cover page. Check the 4 quarters are correct. Select the detail enlargement. Check the info page. Print to RTF. Pull up graphic in image editor, and add watermark. Pull up RTF and export to PDF. Start the Etsy list process. Easy-peasy. Especially after the 17 step manual method.

But I still didn’t know anyone to talk to, to compare methods with. And then I discovered that fellow Seamonkey, Joel (hi Joel!), also had set up an Etsy shop to sell his patterns. Well, it took a while to work my nerve up to talk to him about it. But I finally did. Come to find out he’s using PatternMaker too. Not the same version, but still! And he had an excellent recommendation for CutePDFWriter, which is software that allows printing directly to PDF, which saves me another step. So he had some recommendations for me; I had some recommendations for him. I hope he enjoyed the exchange as much as I did.

Now I just have learn how to DRAW!

Sometimes Free Ain't Free

Ah, what a difference a day or two makes.

I have an Etsy shop. I sell digital cross-stitch patterns of geeky/nerdy/internet/sci-fic things that interest me. They’re weird, and sometimes profane, and I have a lot of fun with them. I’m not trying to live off the store, just make some pocket change, and maybe brighten someone’s day with my, admittedly, weird and snarky sense of humor. So I’ve never really cared about the fees that get charged. I figured anything I get is more than I’ve got now, and it’s not like I have to put any additional time into a pattern once it’s published (usually – sorry for the few errors that have been caught!). So I felt like it was free money!

But it’s tax season. I recently asked our accountant about the status of the store, and she vomited a bunch of taxese at me, and asked that I bring in some totals. Ya know, gross receipts, fees, that sort of thing.

So I sat down and started pulling information together. Gross receipts were easy. Etsy likes you to know that figure. Then there were Etsy’s fees. Things got a little harder. You get a bill each month. I downloaded the bill for each month and started looking at it. It got easier when I figured out how to cross-reference sales, to show sales fees. Then I figured out that the remainder was listing and relisting fees.

But then there were Card Processing Fees? Those were a little more hidden. Seems that if customers pay directly with a credit card, there’s a fee for that…and it’s more than Etsy’s fees.

So there were extra fees with credit cards that I hadn’t been thinking of. What about Paypal? Etsy doesn’t show any fees when customers pay with Paypal. But….in digging through Paypal, whaddayouknow? Paypal fees too.

Well, I finally puzzled through all of it. Come to find out, my net sales are HALF of gross sales.

So I’m feeling a little ambivalent now. I mean, it’s still pretty much free money. I’ve already done the work, and the patterns can continue to sell without additional work. But now that I know I only get half of that money makes me feel…I don’t know…ambivalent. <Sigh>

My Etsy Store – A Money Pooping Cow

So I talked about my Etsy store, and I wanted to let you know what’s been happening with that in the last year.

I had tried selling various things, hand-dyed fabric, tutus, but none of it sold. Looked like the shop was going to waste away.

I kept thinking about the idea of revenue streams, and “work once and get paid multiple times.” I looked around at all the stuff I like doing. I knew I didn’t want to deal with having to ship things…that’s too much like work.

And it finally came to me.

Several years ago, I’d bought HobbyWare’s Pattern Maker, a program which allows you to design your own cross-stitch patterns. And being me, never wading in cautiously when I can jump in up to my eyebrows, I went whole hog and bought the professional edition. I’d used it to create a graduation pattern for my brother. I tried to create some pattern of Georgia O’Keefe’s flower paintings. I’d updated it until the company stopped supporting it. Somehow, through all the various hard-drive failures and new computers, I’m managed to keep it around.

I started making little patterns, mostly Firefly quotes at first, but I branched out to anything that tickled my geeky, nerdy, sci-fic sense of humor. I figured out how to make those patterns into PDFs that are easily uploaded, and set them out in the Etsy shop.

Turns out, a lot of people have the same geeky, nerdy, sci-fic sense of humor.

I love it. I spend several hours coming up with and creating a pattern. List it. And if other people find it interesting and amusing, it sells. Over and over again. And as long as it sells a few copies, I’ll keep relisting it.

I remember hearing Jonathan Coulton describe his music career. He didn’t go through traditional recording studios. He released his music on the internet, directly to consumers. He described it as turning the internet into his own personal “money pooping cow.” That’s how I think of my Etsy Store.

I've got an Etsy store! (Originally published 1/31/2012)

Hi. My name is Crickett, and I have an addiction. I know the first step to recovery is admitting I have a problem. My (newest) addiction is fabric dyeing.

Rainbow gradations!

It started with a kit. A kit, I confess, which I have had for probably 2 years, and simply never found the energy to do. So I simply decided that it was time to do it…and then three weeks later, I did! And Oh My Sweet FSM!!!! I fell in love! Just swirling the dyes around in the tubs made me grin and cackle out loud!

Then I had to have MORE! MORE, I tell you!! So I placed an order for more fabric and my favorite primary color dyes and stuff. And this weekend, I tried tray dyeing. Not every piece turned out as well as I hoped, but they were still amazing!

Now of course, I want to do even more! But this new habit is a little expensive – Oiy! In order to pay for my new habit, it seems I will have to sell some of my new pretties.

Hence my new Etsy store! See that pretty new gadget over on the right? That shows the items I currently have available. I’ll be listing more when I can get good photos.

I only hope that others like the colors as much as I do. I really enjoyed making these, and I hope to make more!