Friday, January 25, 2013

Online Craftsy Class Reviews--A Handful of Minis

Well, if you haven't already heard about or checked out Craftsy, you are really missing out....really.  I've been enjoying their courses now for several months and have been learning things left and right.  Now, I'm sure you're thinking, "I just don't have the money to spend on classes right now" or "my work schedule just won't allow me to attend classes," but I'm here to tell you that if those are your excuses, you'll need to go shopping for some new ones.

First of all, these are online classes.  Yes, that's right, you take these classes on your computer--whenever you want (and if you have a laptop, where you want).  So, got a half hour before the kids come home from school, up at 2 AM wide awake, or just feeling the need to sit around in your pjs Saturday morning?  You can take your class (add headphones if you need to block out the kid's Saturday morning cartoons).  I really love the online format that Craftsy offers because I don't have huge blocks of time for packing up my stuff and driving off to classes, and I live in a small town and have to commute into a larger city to find any classes anyway.  I also have a schedule that sometimes opens up regular free time, but then won't for a month or so...and sometimes I just get busy with projects.  Having classes that wait for me is a blessing!  No more stress about trying to complete class projects before the class is done or the online time slot expires.  I can buy a class and "attend" five months later!  Which brings me to my next point...

...the cost of classes these days.  Have you checked out local city classes?  Wow!  I've seen classes range from $45 to over $200, and we're not talking college course hear, we're talking once a week for a month max.  Ouch!  Other online classes are only for a set length of time and then bye-bye instructor and videos.  My pocket book doesn't quite mesh with my desire for increased hands-on knowledge.  Craftsy was my solution (plus, even though I adore books, sometimes seeing something done is better).  Their most expensive class is $49.99 (with a money back guarantee).  Not bad for a never-ending, always available, classroom with top notch teachers (Kenneth King, Sandra Betzina, and Angela Wolf to name a few) and professional quality video.  Still, I admit, that's a little outside (okay, way outside) my budget despite the great offering.  But, Craftsy often puts their classes on sale for $30 and less (lots of times you'll find them for $9.99 and $14.99 around holidays)!  So, just keep an eye on their facebook page or sign up for the mailing list and you'll find the classes you want coming up on sale sooner or later.  I think I only bought one class at full price (a birthday gift from my sister), the rest have been $25 and down.  Now that's do-able!

So, as if that weren't enough, Craftsy has started offering mini classes--for FREE!  Yeah, I'm in love.  I sign up for all the free ones.  Now that is in anyone's budget.  You're probably wondering if I'm commissioned by Craftsy, I mean what with this infomercial and all...nope, I just am really excited to share the opportunity with you because I love learning and always get sooo frustrated when things are always so expensive (even books through Amazon can be pricey).  I get tired of not having the money for something, or finally having some spending money, but no time or would have to travel to another state or something. But, just so you know what you're getting yourself into, I thought I'd give a few quick reviews on some of the sewing mini classes I've recently finished up (I'll review the paid ones later).

First, let me say, some web browsers or computers might be a tad slow in the whole video buffering process and cause pausing.  I had this happen with Internet Explorer.  Try switching to Google Chrome, that  solved it for me.  I also found that getting the lesson started and then pausing for 30 seconds let the buffer get ahead in downloading so that it didn't have to pause to retrieve more info.  It's really not a big deal, and the high quality video is so worth it.

Bag-making Basics:  Reversible Tote and Zipper Pouch

This mini is information packed!  And so useful too.  I'm pretty sure next year's Christmas will somehow involve totes or bags for everyone.  Taught by Kirstin Link (from Sew Mama Sew), you will learn to make a basic zipped pouch (think make-up bag, snack bag, sewing project bag) and a reversible tote (think grocery bag, library book bag, going to church and keeping the kids entertained bag).  Each step was clearly explained and demonstrated--which was nice, because sometimes people skip steps and you're left scratching your head.  Kirstin is so calm and pleasant that pretty soon you're convinced that you too could make these bags--and you actually can because it is explained so well that it can easily be accomplished by even a new sewist.  I liked that the fabric requirements were based on fat quarters, but you could easily cut pieces from larger fabric amounts, so you can have fun with those designer fabrics or even use up those fat quarters in the bundles that didn't make the cut for you last quilt.  And, even though it is free, and so the teachers are not required to monitor and answer questions, Kirstin does a pretty fair job of responding.  Also, others in the class often chime in with good suggestions and helpful advice.  I also thought the zipper instructions were better than many of the patterns out there.

I signed up for this one mainly for the reversible tote.  In our area, the major nearby city has a plastic bag ban going into effect soon, and I'm sure other places will follow suit, so I'm in need of grocery bags and those weird plastic woven types in the stores just don't hold up well--I always end up with busted straps.  Plus, I like to walk to the store often and bag that can fold up easily, and look good, would be nice.  I'd never used a cloth bag until I got a free cloth bag from the Green Bag Lady in a giveaway and I've really enjoyed having it, so I know I would use more if I had them.  I think I'll make a waxed canvas bag for the rainy season (its Oregon, I need waterproof sometimes) and some basic cotton ones for sunny days.  My goal is to not need any more of those plastic bags that seem to multiply in the dark and overwhelm the little spot we store them in.  I'll probably lengthen the straps given in the class so that I can wear the bag over my shoulder when walking rather than hand-carry.

Bag-making Basics:  Drawstring Bag & Bucket Bag

Another mini with Kirstin Link that you'll find extremely useful and use again and again.  This class has the same great video quality and instruction style as the previous bag class, so you won't be disappointed in that regard.  Each step is covered and supplies can be found easily.  I really like the idea that you can customize these bags so easily with changes in fabric, trim, pockets, and size.  You'll learn to make a padded, cylindar shaped tote or bucket bag (fill it with your latest knitting project or let a child have it to carry toys in) and a lined drawstring bag, so useful for holding all sorts of things like gear, gift bags, laundry sacks, etc.  All of you yarn people out there will love the little bucket bag to tote your projects around in.  It's just the right size and with the padded sides it doesn't flop over. 

I've already used the drawstring bag information to make pillowcases for my brother, so you can see that the information easily translates to other projects.  I'll probably make myself a laundry bag next or maybe some camping gear sacks with the drawstring bag info.  I think the bucket bag, made larger, would also make a great fabric scrap bag.

Sewing Machine Feet from A to Z

This is a really short class, even for a mini.  I watched it this morning while waiting for it to get light enough to put the hummingbird feeder back out.  The information is also extremely basic, with just the most common sewing feet introduced.  There are no projects and the machine feet are briefly explained and demonstrated.  Still, the instructor comes off as friendly and approachable and the video even has still shots of the feet so you can really see them.  And, if its been awhile since you've used some of those extra feet or you're wondering what to do with some of the ones that came with your machine, its a good place to start.  I would also recommend it for someone new to sewing who might be wondering what foot to add to their arsenal next.  The feet introduced were zipper, invisible zipper, gathering, rolled hem, blind hem, buttonhole, braiding/couching, quarter inch, roller, and darning/free-motion.  So, even though it is a shorty, go watch it and refresh your memory or pick up some tips.  Maybe they'll make another class with more feet--or even better, one that shows how to use attachments for vintage Singers!

There's also a Sewing Machine 911 class that gives some basic machine care, but I haven't watched that one yet...I got distracted when they added the free pizza making class with Chef Reinhart!   

Well, that's a whole lot of typing, but I hope you'll try out some of these classes, they do offer great information, are beginner friendly, and the idea that a company has gone out of its way to provide a quality free item is really something that should be supported.  There are free classes in other topics too---food, cake decorating, jewelry, knitting, etc. 

Next mini quilting class reviews.  And maybe a review on the pizza---I mean pizza class.
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1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the soon as we get some high speed internet (we still have dial up!) I'll definitely check this out....hmmm...wonder if they have drawing classes?:)


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