Welcome to the NEW Sew Mama Sew! ~ Enter Our Scavenger Hunt to Win a Prize!

on June 17 | in Contests & Giveaways, Small Business Ideas | by | with 24 Comments

Note: This contest is now closed. Our winner is mrsquiltingb! Thanks for participating.

We did it! The new Sew Mama Sew is live! Just a little over two months ago I announced that I was closing the shop to focus my attention on the blog. Shutting down a business is much more difficult than I ever imagined– physically, mentally, and emotionally. Lots and lots of late nights, quite a few tears and many trips to the post office as well as the Goodwill. Thank you so much to everyone who helped clear out our inventory and encouraged us through that process. Beth and I will always be thankful for your support!

Shortly before I made the public announcement to close the shop, I had started working with Alyssa Lichner of Pile O’ Fabric on the new Block of the Month series. She and I were exchanging emails about her post one day and she said, “By the way, have you ever thought about redesigning your site? That’s what I do for a living.” The timing was perfect. I had just told my employees about my decision, but hadn’t even begun to look for designers. I knew Alyssa had just completed the amazing Modern Quilt Guild website in record time for a launch to coincide with Quiltcon. To me, it is the perfect site for the MQG– clean, fresh and intuitive. I was impressed by her other work as well as all the ideas she had for our site– including functionality and tools I didn’t even know existed!

And so the process began. My wonderful friend, Monica of Happy Zombie, has been making our buttons for a couple of years. She squeezes us in between her fabulous blogging, pattern writing, and fabric designing. I asked her to do our logo and of course she knocked it out of the park, setting the tone for the rest of the site.  I couldn’t love the logo more! She also made the fantastic “Sewing Tutorials” graphic. The logo was designed with seasonal changes in mind, as was the header graphic, so you’ll probably see us freshen things up visually more often, without changing the overall structure of the site. As a non-designer, it is really really hard for me to even imagine what I want when it comes to fonts, colors, and styles, but I know it when I see it. Monica has so much patience about this when we work together, and I am so grateful for that. (Thank you, Monica! ♥♥)

As I’ve mentioned, Alyssa had tons of ideas for making the most of all our existing content (over 2500 posts!), which was one of our goals. There are SO MANY WordPress plugins that we didn’t even know where to start. Alyssa gave us several options for functionality she thought we might like, without overwhelming us with choices. If you take a look around, you’ll see there are now several ways to view content, including the Browse option and the Tutorials page. Everything has been categorized and tagged so you can find what you’re looking for easily and intuitively

When we first got started, I knew I wanted to get rid of the forum, but wanted more interactivity built into the blog itself. Alyssa set us up with a great little community that we’re calling The Sewing Room. You can sign in, form groups, load photos, ask questions, etc. I’m sure we’ll use it for participation with some of our sew-alongs and contests. In the meantime, feel free to jump in and share! We are starting out with basic functionality right now, but if you think of something you wish you could do in The Sewing Room but you can’t, let us know! We’d really like to adapt it to meet the needs of the community.

Even though we officially closed our fabric shop, you might have noticed that we’re still selling books! Supporting the publishing industry, including promoting sewing books and authors, is such an integral part of what we do on the blog that we really wanted to stay involved in getting awesome books into the hands of customers. There are very few independent online craft book retailers, and we think we curate pretty well, so we’re really pleased to have that portion of the business still available. Alyssa transferred everything to a new cart that works with WordPress, which  is much cleaner and better-integrated.

I could go on and on, but let me sum it up.

6 Tips If You’re Thinking About Redesigning Your Blog

  1. If possible, find someone who understands your industry. To me this was the #1 benefit of working with Alyssa.
  2. Start Pinning logos, labels, stationary and websites to some design boards on Pinterest now. It doesn’t matter if you won’t be ready for a year. Looking around for a bunch of things that inspire you days before you need them is too much pressure.
  3. Work with someone who is familiar with your blog platform already. Like “knows-it-like-the-back-of-their-hand”  kind of familiar, so they can help you imagine the full potential of your site.
  4. Be prepared to limit you desires to time and budget, but think about Phase 2.
  5. Hire someone who can deal with databases, knows code, understands redirects and backups and uses the word “configure” a lot. ;-) Alyssa actually works with her husband, Jacob, who owns Tenable Designs and Development. They were a fabulous team and I always felt really confident that any technical problems that came up would be taken care of . (With 7 years of content, I know it wasn’t easy!)
  6. Work with people who are kind and patient.

Scavenger Hunt

We want you to have a look around and become familiar with the site. Just for fun, we’ve put together a little scavenger hunt quiz with 10 questions. All the answers can be found right here in the blog. By completing the quiz with a passing score, you’ll be entered to win this gorgeous set of Amy Butler stationary from Chronicle Books. It includes writing sheets and envelopes, a journal, and a set of sticky notes & to-dos.

Amy Butler Stationary

 

Take the quiz now. (Link will open in a new tab so you can switch back and forth.) The winner will be announced the week of 6/24.

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24 Responses to Welcome to the NEW Sew Mama Sew! ~ Enter Our Scavenger Hunt to Win a Prize!

  1. Janet Frank says:

    Love the ease of navigation on the on the site….well done!

  2. Kathyh says:

    Love the new site. Very easy to navigate and the scavenger hunt was a great way to see how much better SewMamaSew is.

  3. Abigail says:

    Can i have more than 1 entry ?

  4. Melissa Vink says:

    Awesome way to explore site! Thanks for the chance :-)

  5. It’s amazing, Kristin! I love, love, love it. I bet you’re glad it’s finally done!

  6. Dhonna says:

    I’m looking forward to sewing with you!

  7. anna says:

    I’m just so excited about all this!!!!! love the new site and the new direction and so happy that you’re still selling books. What a wonderful resource – all of it!!!!
    :)

  8. Jayne says:

    I was shocked when I first saw the new site! But in a good way! I made my way around it very easily! What a great idea to get people familiar with the new layout. The scavenger hunt was a blast, but I’m kicking myself because I missed one question that I knew the answer too! How could I miss that question when that is where I lived!! Hate when that happens! Keep up the great work….love it all!

  9. Debbie says:

    the new site is nice…but the scavenger hunt was really difficult to navigate and find the answers. I went to the last page of the blog archives and there wasn’t a year on the post…so who was I to figure out the date…. but it was a great idea!

  10. happy zombie says:

    😘 ♥ ♥ ♥ I love you, Kristin!

  11. Lorrie says:

    That was fun! And it got me exploring your site. Great job. I look forward to more wonderful Sew Mama Sew inspiration.

  12. Lindsey says:

    I’ve always wished there was a site like ravelry for sewing patterns. Where you could see patterns from big designers like McCalls and independent designers like Made by Rae’s Washi dress all in one place. Maybe you could work this into your new and improved forum.

  13. I’ve finished the quiz! I really did learn about a couple aspects of the your site I didn’t know before. :)

  14. Love the new site! It’s so intuitive and everything is so easy to navigate! Congrats!

  15. VickiT says:

    Love the new look! Great job Alyssa. It’s super easy to navigate too.

  16. Wendi Gratz says:

    The new site looks TERRIFIC!

  17. Heather L says:

    Love the scavenger hunt! Great idea to get to know the new site (which is lovely!)

  18. Tammy says:

    Your new site is very user-friendly. I like it a lot! And I found all the answers on the quiz and I hope you pick me. :)

  19. Jill says:

    Love the new site — so glad you are up and running full steam ahead!

  20. Love the new site. So fresh!

  21. Southern Gal says:

    What a great way to get familiar with the blog! I missed a couple, but I passed! Thanks for the chance. Love the new look. You all did a fabulous job.

  22. Suzanne says:

    I am enjoying the new layout very much. I have always felt like the resources of SMS were bountiful but the site was not so easily navigated. Now I feel like things are laid out much better and the aesthetic is clean and bright. I hope The Sewing Room will be something similar to what Ravelry is for fiber lovers. All the best to you and good luck!

  23. kaholly says:

    Your new site looks great. Congratulations! And good luck with it.

  24. Paula says:

    Love the new look and functionality of the site. Everything is so easy to find and so well organised. Great job.

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