Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Quadrille and the making of a tutorial

Today I finished stitching another sample of my new design, "Quadrille":

Here's a closer look at it:

I'm teaching this at Knot Just Beads this Saturday afternoon from 2-4.  If you're interested, click here for the class information and call 414-771-8360 to sign up.

While I was stitching this bracelet I thought I'd give you a peek into how I make my tutorials.

It seems that most of the design process happens in the middle of the night.  What happened with Quadrille was that I was lying in bed trying to think about different ways to use Super Duos and Rizos.  I got up and played around with materials until I came up with something I liked.  I didn't jot any notes down at this point.  Fortunately I was able to figure out what I did when it was daylight out and I stitched the first sample.

I then went to Knot Just Beads and chose colors for two bracelets.  I knew I wanted to teach it there, so I needed one bracelet for display and one for an in-class sample.  With the help of Darlene who works at KJB I chose the blues you see above and some greens.  If that seems familiar it's because I talked about it in my "The importance of supporting local bead shops" blog post.

In October I made the first full Quadrille bracelet with the green beads:

During that process I took copious notes by hand, including a few sketches and had to change my sizing calculation a few times.  When Steve came home from work that night I said, "Hey, you went to college.  You're smart.  Come help me figure these calculations out!"  We did finally get it figured out, but it took a while.

Here's the first page of my notes:

That is the first of six 4.5" x 6.5" pages of notes.  There are many scratched out areas as I worked through the calculations and finessed the design.

Now, in a perfect world, I would have done everything I'm going to show you right away, but that usually doesn't happen.  It usually happens a week before I teach the class the first time, and this time is no exception.

The next stage is taking process shots while I make the piece.  Many designers make charts of their designs instead of having photographs, but I like having full color photographs of most of the steps so people can see exactly how it should look.

The most difficult part of taking process shots is staging everything so it makes sense.  I pick the piece up to do the next stitch then spend a few minutes arranging it down on the table for pictures.  I hate when I look down and find that things have flipped on me, then I have to take out a few steps and start over.  That happened to me this afternoon.

The second most difficult part is actually taking the pictures and worrying about lighting and focus and all that stuff.  I take 3-5 pictures of each step so I hopefully will get one that I'm happy with.  I'm still having some difficulties getting good pictures from my new camera.  I need to play with it more.

The third most difficult part is making sure the mat is free of all lint, cat hair, my hair, and whatnot.  Sometimes I don't see it until I see the picture on the computer.  If I can't crop it out, I cross my fingers that no one sees it.  :)

After I've taken a bunch of pictures and get the piece done, I go through and determine which pictures I'm going to use.  I crop, resize, and rename pictures for each step.  Until the tutorial is completely done, I keep all of the pictures in a separate folder in case I accidentally mess one up or delete it.

Here's the first picture for the Quadrille instructions:

On many of the pictures I add notes and arrows.  You're going to laugh (Steve does), but I still use Paint.  I've used Paint for over 20 years (which makes me old), and I'm very comfortable with it.  I have Photoshop, but it is much quicker to do what I want to do in Paint.

Here's that same picture with the notes needed for the tutorial:

The actual tutorial writing happens in Word.  Since I've written a number of these before, I've gotten good at scribbling my notes in virtually the same language I use in the final tutorial, so that part goes fairly quickly.

At the back of each of my tutorials I include four spaces for folks to put a picture of their project and to make notes of the color names and numbers of each of the types of beads used for that project.  I also include a page for notes, and my "business card" is printed at the bottom of that page so if anyone has questions they can call or e-mail me.

That's it in a nutshell!  It is a lot of work, but I hope that my students and people who purchase my tutorials find that they're easy to follow and understand.

If you happen to be enthralled with Quadrille and live in the Milwaukee area, I would love to have you in my class on January 18th from 2-4!  Click here for the class information and call Knot Just Beads at 414-771-8360 to sign up.  The class is $20, and you will get the tutorial for the bracelet and the earrings plus my smiling face to help you along!

If you're enthralled with Quadrille but do not live in the Milwaukee area (or can't make my class on Saturday), you can purchase the PDF tutorial.  Send $9 through PayPal to traci@creative-pursuits.biz, and I'll hook you up as soon as it's done!

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