Copywriting Tip: Take Advantage of Every Opportunity to Tell Your Story

On my first visit to P.F. Chang’s late last year, I discovered the brand was telling their story in the tiniest of places: the fortunes slipped into the iconic cookies. The food was delicious, the service was great, and, as a copywriter, I was delighted to see the brand taking advantage of every opportunity to tell their story.

Along with the check, the server delivered the requisite fortune cookies. Inside were short strips of paper printed with the expected fortunes on one side, and factoids about the food prepared and served at P.F. Chang’s on the other side.

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P.F. Chang’s fortunes. One side has the fortune; the other side has a factoid about the food served at the restaurant.

Now, I know that this little piece of paper probably usually gets swept up with the cookie wrappers and other dining debris left on the table by guests, but for a split second, P.F. Chang’s took advantage of this opportunity to tell their story to their customer.

For reference, here’s another fortune from a different cookie received at a different restaurant.

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A fortune from a different cookie and restaurant. (I can’t remember where.)

The back has lucky numbers and a website to visit if this particular fortune has you wanting another.

No one would notice or care if P.F. Chang’s also had lucky numbers on the back of their fortunes. Instead of doing that, though, they use the fortune-reading moment to reassure their customers that, yes, what you just ate was fresh and carefully prepared. At least, that is what a fact about the food implies. Interestingly, this moment comes after the meal. Reading the tidbit doesn’t feel salesy. I had already asked for the check and pulled out my credit card. There’s no upselling at this point during the dining experience. Of course, there is a risk with the end-of-meal timing for this particular case. If the food is not satisfactory, the customer could easily see these fortune cookie factoids as a marketing sleight of hand—all talk and no action. P.F. Chang’s has to be on their game. Overall, using this tiny area to add to the P.F. Chang’s story is smart.

The tip: Don’t overlook small opportunities to tell your brand’s story. Are you using every space and every moment in your interaction with your customers? Get creative and take advantage of small pieces and short moments with copy that is appropriate to the medium and timing. A short piece of copy can make a significant impression.

Want more copywriting tips? Check them out here.

February’s Quilting Goal: Finish My Ohio Star Quilt

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My Ohio Star Quilt in progress.

I’m participating in the February’s One Monthly Goal Link-Up by Elm Street Quilts. I discovered Elm Street Quilts by way of Abby Glassenberg’s Community Episode of her podcast, While She Naps. Doing One Monthly Goal sounds like a fun way to keep my eye on the prize (completed projects!). So, I’m starting with my Ohio Star Quilt.

Last month, I wrote an update about the progress on my Ohio Star Quilt. I’m happy to report that since then, I have FINISHED QUILTING it! Woohoo! I even purchased the fabric for the binding! All I need is a solid afternoon to prepare the binding, trim the quilt, and sew on the binding. Then, I need a few quiet evenings to hand stitch the binding to the back.

This feels attainable, especially if I put it on the hottest front burner I have. Ha! And, honestly, I’m antsy to finish this quilt. I started it in January of last year and I’m ready to move on.

Stay tuned!

Easy-Peasy Upcycled Valentine’s Day Sweater

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My new Valentine’s Day sweater made from thrifted/upcycled sweaters!

It recently dawned on me that if I can have a festive Christmas sweater, why can’t I have an equally festive Valentine’s Day sweater? I love my Lands’ End red and white Fair Isle Christmas sweater and have been wearing it since I purchased it in college. (I’m fully aware that it’s corny. I love what I love and can’t help it!) Because I’ve been dabbling in making my own clothes and repurposing/upcycling clothes, I set out to create my own design with thrifted sweaters.

My quest started at the thrift store and my stash of material. First, I found a sweater at the thrift store. I specifically was looking for sweater in a neutral color, made from natural fibers. I scored a dark gray, 100% cotton sweater—perfect! Then, I hit my stash for material for a heart appliqué. For my daughter’s first birthday, I made her stuffed chicken toys from a pinkish-orange, cable-knit thrifted sweater. I knew I had scraps leftover, and dug them out.

I traced a heart onto a sheet of computer paper. (I could have gotten fancy with tissue paper, but the shape was so simple, a plain sheet of paper worked fine.) I trimmed around the heart leaving a little bit of paper around the edges. I did this because I wanted to make the cut of the heart from the sweater scrap itself.

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I used paper from my printer to trace a heart shape, trimmed it, and pinned it to the sweater scrap to cut out the appliqué.

I was careful to line the pattern on the sweater scrap so that the cable knit pattern was somewhat symmetrical. After the pattern was pinned on, I carefully cut the heart out.

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I used a ruler (and a lot of fussing) to place the heart on the gray sweater.

Placement is always tricky—I wanted to have the heart in a good place vertically and centered horizontally. I tried the sweater on, placed the heart where I thought it looked good, and marked the sweater so I could see where I had placed the heart after taking off the sweater. I folded the sweater in half (shoulder to shoulder) so I could find the horizontal center and placed a pin to mark it. Really, I just fussed with the heart until I was happy.

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A blanket stitch is pretty simple (once I remembered how to do it) and creates a crafty style.

A little bit of washable glue stick and several pins later, I was ready to stitch! I used a blanket stitch with white embroidery floss I had on hand to secure the heart to the sweater. (Side note: it’s not until I actually have needle to fabric that I can remember how to do a blanket stitch. I have such a hard time visualizing it in my head. I think this is why I can’t parallel park. Haha!)

 

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Detail of the completed heart.

Voilà! I now have a cheery Valentine’s sweater to wear in the weeks leading up to the big day! I love it! One of my favorite things about it is the contrast of the smooth, plain knit of the gray sweater and the textured, cable knit of the appliquéd heart.

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Oh, say! This is a nice sweater. I just may wear it all winter long!

Full disclosure: I haven’t washed it yet. Eeep! So, I don’t know how it will fare. But! If the heart starts to come off, I have confidence that I can fix it or redecorate the sweater altogether.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some Valentine’s Day cheer to spread!

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My new Valentine’s Day sweater made from thrifted/upcycled sweaters!

T-Bud Co. Quilts Ohio: Sashing & Quilting

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My Ohio Star Quilt right now: a work in progress.

My Ohio Star Quilt is a priority this year. Because last week I mentioned how I want to get this quilt done soon, I figured I would show you the progress I’ve made on it.

January 8, 2018 marked my 10th anniversary of living and working in the Greater Cincinnati area—Ohio. In celebration, I made an Ohio Star block for each month of 2018 that told a facet of my Ohio experience. At the end of the year, I had 12 distinctly different blocks that were tied together with my Ohio story.

Black for the sashing was an easy choice. The blocks vary in greatly in color, even with the few repeated fabrics. I contemplated lighter neutral colors, like white or yellow (I don’t have that color in any of the blocks!). But, I think black makes the blocks pop.

I went back and forth on machine and hand quilting. At first, I was going to machine quilt around each block “in the ditch” and then hand quilt around each star. I decided to do it all by hand. First because I didn’t want to try to wrangle my quilt into my machine, but also because this quilt means a lot to me and it deserves the time and care that hand quilting requires.

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Stiching in the ditch on the Charley Harper-themed April Ohio Star quilt block.

I’m using black thread to stitch in the ditch around each block. I am doing big stitch quilting in white pearl cotton thread around each star. Some of my blocks break the traditional Ohio Star color pattern, so outlining the star so it shines through my unconventional fabric choices feels like a requirement. There are about 2 ½ blocks left to quilt and now I’m thinking that I need to quilt around the center square of each block. It doesn’t feel like there’s enough quilting on each block. This isn’t so much an aesthetic choice as a functional decision–I want the quilt top, batting, and backing to be securely sandwiched together.

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Big-stitch quilting on July’s lush green Ohio Star quilt block.

A note about my quilting: this is my first time hand quilting. I’m sure my technique is unrefined, but I’m doing what works for me. I’ve been using a running stitch (catching 2-3 stitches with my needle at a time) and a straight stitch (one stitch at a time), depending on the placement and thickness of the material I’m stitching through (seams can be tough to push a needle through!). I tried using a hoop, but it didn’t feel comfortable. Instead, I make a “puppet” with the material so that I can grasp and steady the area I’m stitching. I’m pretty sure I’m doing it wrong, but I do know that I’m getting it done and I’m confident that I’m learning as I go and getting better with each stitch!

In the sashing, I plan on doing some outlines of the state of Ohio. I want this quilt to be “knock-you-over-the-head” about Ohio. That is, I want anyone looking at it to immediately understand that the quilt is about Ohio—whether they then recognize the Ohio Star block or not. The outline of the state should do the trick! Haha!

For now, I figure I will do the binding in a solid gray fabric. It should provide a nice contrast with the black border, but not distract from the blocks. Alas, I have not procured binding fabric and you know how it goes in the store: they may not have what is in my head and so I’ll  have to pick the next best fabric.

 

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My Ohio Star Quilt that celebrates living and working in the Greater Cincinnati area for 10 years.

The ultimate plan? This quilt will be added to my collection to be used by my family. My kiddos have seen me working on it and they know which blocks are “theirs.” I’m curious to see if they’ll have any interest in putting it on their beds. I’ve never made them a quilt. They use quilts made by their grandma and great grandma. We’ll see how receptive they are to mom-made quilts! Heehee!

I’ve shown you progress on my quilt, now show me yours! Are you making progress on the projects you set out to make this year?

My 2019 Quilting & Sewing To Make List

It’s the new year and naturally there are a lot of resolutions, goals, and project lists being shared. Usually, I wouldn’t write down a “to make” list, but I feel like it’s a great way to stay focused and get some UFOs (unfinished objects) completed.

Here’s what I want to make and finish in 2019:

Start:

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AnneMarie Chany’s Conversation Sampler Quilt pattern with the fabrics I plan to use.

AnneMarie Chany‘s Conversation Sampler Quilt: This row of the month quilt caught my eye on social media and I knew I had to make it. It’s a sampler, so I’m hoping to expand my quilting skills. I plan on making the heart white with a variety of pink fabric for a scrappy look, and using the navy-purplish fabric for the background.

I bought the printed pattern so I could have all the directions at once (instead of month-by-month in digital form) and perhaps work ahead if I find myself with time on my hands. Haha! Like that will happen!

 

Finish Piecing:

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My still in-progress Down the Rabbit Hole Quilt. Please ignore those sandals. Haha!

Sarah Fielke’s Down the Rabbit Hole Quilt: I love this quilt, but I’m in the middle of needle-turn appliqueing the second to last borders. It’s taking some time. But, I’m determined to get this quilt top done in 2019! (I’m going to cut myself some slack and put off basting, quilting, and binding it until 2020. Heehee!)

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My in-progress Rudolph Quilt. Confession: My husband and I are obsessed with the Bumble.

Rudolph Panel Christmas Quilt: After Thanksgiving, everyone started posting pictures of their Christmas quilts. I wanted in on the action! I have had a Ruldolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer panel in my stash for a few years. It makes a fabric book, but I was gifted the exact same (finished) book a couple of years ago. It didn’t make sense to stitch up a second book, so I decided to cut out the pages as blocks and add some borders. I need to attach a few more borders and then I can baste, quilt, and bind this one. (Which, I think is also a reasonable goal for this year.)

 

Quilt and Bind:

Ohio Star Quilt: This was my year-long project for 2018. I loved making each of these blocks and they’re now all stitched together and I’m in the middle of hand quilting it. I want to get the quilting and binding done soon, like in the first 6 months of the year—I’m all about setting attainable goals. Ha! I’m putting this one on a front burner.

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Dazzling Pineapple Patch Quilt: top is done, but I need to follow through with basting, quilting, and binding.

Dazzling Pineapple Patch Quilt: I contemplated doing some big stitch hand quilting on this one, but the pineapple block has about a million pieces to it, which means there are a lot of seams, which are HARD to slip a needle through. So, I will machine quilt this one. I’m excited to get this quilt finished—the colors make me happy.

 

Apparel:

Grainline Studio’s Farrow Dress: I made Grainline Studio’s Scout Tee last year and I not only enjoyed making it, but I love the way it fits. I want to expand my apparel making skills, and what better way than with another Grainline Studio pattern for a garment that I desperately need? See, in the past few years, I’ve gained a bit of weight and my body has changed shaped (thanks, kiddos!). That’s all to say, the LBD that was my “baptism, graduation, wedding, and funeral dress” no longer fits very well. And, I feel like everyone should have one garment in their closet at all times for these occasions. I’m looking to make the Farrow Dress as the replacement.

 

Miscellaneous:

Fix My M&M’s Quilt: I’ve heard that quilts are heirloom pieces that last forever and can be passed down. Are people sleeping under these quilts? Maybe I’m just hard on my bedding, but my quilts wear down. I have a M&M’s-themed quilt my mom made me for my high school graduation. I slept under it regularly until I received other quilts to rotate into usage. Well, after about 16 years of sleeping with it, my M&M’s quilt is showing wear at the top—the binding is falling off and the fabric has worn through to the batting. I have a plan for fixing it (there’s still a lot of use left in this quilt!) and this is the year I WILL mend it and put it back into rotation.

Projects as They Catch My Fancy: Let’s face it: I’m going to find other projects to start and maybe finish. Perhaps I’ll make more apparel. Maybe I’ll pick up one of the 2 quilt patterns I bought last year (but didn’t start). I’m keeping an open mind!

I’ve shown you my to make list, now show me yours! What are you going to make this year?