keynotes · members · Resources · State of Craft

Event Recap – State of Craft

Our first, virtual State of Craft of the year hosted an engaging discussion with our guest speakers leading the conversation.

Panelists, Toni Lipsey of TL Yarn Crafts and Tricia Brancolini-Foley of Handmade Arcade shared their thoughts during the hour long program.

We covered the Etsy Strike and shared the opinion that while the online platform can still be a great place to launch your business, business owners placing their products in the care of an organization which provides competition and resellers. Tricia mentioned feedback from craft show customers who still view the e-commerce space as a secure space to buy online, compared to an individuals own website that might be unsecured.

We talked a great deal about makers who were forced to pivot events and experiences due to the early part of the pandemic, from craft fairs to releasing a new book.

As conversations continued we briefly covered the topic of sustainability, something the fiber community is having a wrecking with at the moment.

Lastly, we announced our return in 2023 with keynote Toni Lipsey!

Members can watch the entire recorded conversation and receive additional perks and promotions.

Program support made possible by:

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Save the Date for Midwest Craft Con 2023!

Midwest Craft Con is back and we have so many exciting announcements to share! 

Who’s speaking at the CON?
Our keynote for 2023 will be: Toni Lipsey of TL Yarn Crafts.


Toni Lipsey, the designer and instructor behind TL Yarn Crafts, strives to inspire others’ creativity through online tutorials and modern, approachable crochet patterns. Toni learned to crochet from her mother as a teenager and has been exploring the possibilities of yarn ever since. Her current design obsessions are oversized shawls and modern home decor. When she’s not crocheting, you can find Toni cuddled with her 2 kittens and husband in her Ohio home, binge-watching the latest true-crime thriller on Netflix. Follow her daily crochet journey on Instagram and pick up her book, The Tunisian Crochet Handbook, and patterns on  Stay tuned for our full length keynote interview.

When is Midwest Craft Con returning?
Never Craft Alone at Midwest Craft Con which will be held March 31 – April 2, 2023 in Columbus, Ohio!

In addition to the 3 day conference, we are adding Craftin’ Outlaws, our annual marketplace on Sunday, April 2 to close the event. 

All experiences will be hosted at the Columbus Museum of Art. Attendees will gain access to the Museum and discounted room rate but it’s not required to stay at our contracted hotel. 

Ticket Breakdown:

  • $299.00 – Member tickets open 9/15/2022
  • $349.00 – Early Bird tickets open 10/1/2022
  • $450.00 – General admission tickets opens 11/01/2022
  • $175.00 – $200.00 Day passes open 1/15/2023

If you haven’t been to our conference, prepare yourself for an endless weekend filled with pom poms and googly eyes, while you build your creative business. Get ready for our keynote(s) to fill you with inspiration, meet your creative heroes you admire online, and prepare to see colleagues you only see across the aisle at craft fairs.  Make new friends who help provide the extra drive you need to keep your business growing, long after the conference has ended. 

Read more about joining us and lodging

Stay tuned for speaker & workshop sign ups, scholarship forms, roommate options, and interviews with our keynote(s) and so much more!

conference · keynotes · News · Resources · State of Craft

State of Craft Panel

So much has changed since we meet in March at Midwest Craft Con. Craft shows and festivals have announced cancellations or postponements. Brick and mortar shops have closed their doors. E-commerce sites are seeing a decrease in online sales with custom orders from events or businesses being cancelled.

While sewists and production shops from around the nation have frantically making masks for personal use and to aid in fight of Covid-19.

As we all grasp with loss of income, distance learning with our young children and the cancellation of our creative world as we once knew it, we wanted to connect with our keynote speakers Sara Trail of Social Justice Sewing Academy and Twinkie Chan, to hear how this has impacted their missions and lives. Mostly, we want to remind our creative community that we are all feeling this loss together. This will be an ongoing monthly feature that we bring to our alumni and the creative community.

Join us on Thursday, April 9 at 8pm EST for a touchbase with our 2020 keynotes. Tickets are limited with a portion of proceeds going back to our keynotes, with a discount for alumni of Midwest Craft Con. Secure your ticket today.

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Craft Con in the Time of COVID-19

“It’s better to have loved conned and lost quarantined…”

All photos courtesy of Chris Rutan Photography

As I think back to our glorious time at Midwest Craft Con 2020, I feel really lucky to be part of such an incredibly community. It was such a timely reminder before such an isolating time full of uncertainty.


We learned. We shared. We brainstormed. We crawled, crafted, karaoked. We grew as professionals, creatives, human beings. We bonded as sisters.

Thanks to our craft supply sponsor, Darice, for inspiring our instructors and offering casual crafts between sessions. We’re so happy to work so closely with an Ohio-based supply company who prides itself on supporting independant artists!

We were inspired by our speakers and instructors. Sara Trail, whose message of justice for all (and quilting for all!) resonated profoundly, despite being the youngest speaker we’ve ever had. Jennifer Perkins got us comfortable being out of our confort zone with her mixed media painting class. Elaine Grogan Luttrull got us over our fear of taxes with tips and tools. Plus many, many more.

As we move forward, before we even think about future programming (although we did announce that we will be hosting some kind of one-day event in the summer of 2021!), we want to make sure that our community is ok and want to help everyone stay connected.

We’ve hosted some virtual karaoke parties and happy hours in our private Facebook group, but we’d like to set up a more structured schedule of programming as we move forward.

Starting in April, we’re planning the following:

First Thursday: Craft Crawl: go Live in our Facebook during the day and share your craft projects, a book you’re reading. Share what you are working on or how you are passing the day.

Second Thursday: State of Craft Panel Discussion via ZOOM. We will record it and share if you can’t attend. Different topics each month with some panelists. We will record this if you can’t view during the specific time.

Third Thursday: Karaoke DAY – Dance, sing, lip sync for your life.

Fourth Thursday: Office/Happy Hour – Share a skill or offer advice.

Save the dates and we’ll get more details out soon! The best way to stay in touch is to sign up for our Newsletter.


Until next time, stay healthy and stay crafty. There are good things to come!

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Twinkie Chan

You may know Twinkie Chan as a crochet designer, author, blogger, YouTuber, and Creativebug instructor known for her colorful, food-themed accessories like cupcake scarves, hamburger mitts, and slushee cup purses.

She also happens to be one of our 2020 keynote speakers joining us at the 4th installment of Midwest Craft Con! We found a minute to chat over the phone to discuss her unexpected start and her proudest moment in craft.

What was it like when you first launched Twinkie Chan? 

It all started kind of slowly and accidentally. I launched a website which had only 12 Paypal buttons on it. I’m not a web person so I didn’t know how to update it and Etsy wasn’t yet a thing that everybody was doing. A lot of DIY fashion people were using eBay which was really easy to set up and you could watch everyone bid on things. I was list something for $0.99 and for some reason a bidding frenzy would mean that somebody would buy a cupcake scarf for like $300! I never would have priced my work at that high of a price but it all created a word-of-mouth for my business. There was also a negative response from people, who would get upset, as if I was creating false accounts and raising the prices on my own but that’s not what I was doing.

eBay was really its own unique experience but then I started to sell on Etsy, and I liked the idea of more than one person being offered the chance to buy my items and giving customers more options. At first I had a woman in France who bought multiple items– She was buying everything!

Craft shows for me just didn’t work with crocheted products but it served as great marketing and I viewed the expense as advertising.

Most recently you’ve segmented your business into a download format where people can buy patterns from you. When did you identify that pattern design would be an additional revenue stream for you?

In the beginning I never thought I would share the patterns because I thought it was a secret, but in no way is that true. I thought that if I released the pattern that people would go to make that item and sell it in their own shop and I would be creating an army of competition against myself. 

I would release some patterns on Etsy, but I never really put a lot of time into it like I could’ve. I have a YouTube channel, classes at Creativebug, and advertising revenue from the blogging, but there wasn’t really a turning point for me sewing patterns when people started demanding it.


I initially launched Twinkie Chan it in the fall of 2005. I was doing it full time from 2009-2017, and now I work as a social media manager and digital marketing for a small clothing and gift company.

I’m an English major and worked in publishing as a literary agent for a while. I learned how to turn art into a commodity, which sounds sad, but we are here to make a living. Thinking of it from that mentality helped me with my Twinkie Chan brand. I picked up the skills as my own brand grew and while marketing is not a passion of mine— my love is designing— but when you’re promoting your own work you really need to learn how to market yourself. You really have to be a one women show.

Did the literary job help you in launching your books?

It definitely helped. With the whole process. You don’t just write a book and pitch it. You write a proposal, and pitch that before you start writing the actual book. So I was very familiar with what goes into a proposal and what makes it appealing. For my second book, I wrote my own pitch letter and had a friend who helped pitch the book. I created my own list of editors to seek out.

Then there’s the process for after you write the book. I think a lot of first time authors think the publisher is going to help handle a lot of it— but it’s really on you.

Publishers don’t have the money, the resources or the manpower to market the book, so you really have to find a way to self market after it’s been published yourself. 

My job was really just to help creatives make money through their art, but my book deal really didn’t come from any of those connections at all. My goal in the beginning for my crochet work was to mass-produce the finished designs and have a licensing agent for that. For various reasons it was difficult to break into licensing agreements for my scarves. My first licensing deal was for the books, which was organized by my licensing agent who handles it and not through any of my own contacts.

What is the one either product or experience that you’re the most proud of?

I promised with my first book that I would have my book signing at my local yarn shop, and I didn’t know that my parents were going to show up. It wasn’t as much as they were there, but it was kind of the first time that they understood that this is what I was doing and saw tangible representation of my work. It was actually a thing I was just super proud of! It makes you feel good when your parents understand what you’re about and I don’t think they understood until that point. 

What do you enjoy about conferences?

I’m a fairly introverted person, so any idea of attending or speaking is very intimidating, but I think it’s like summer camp: you’re really stressed out inside with anxiety, but once you start to meet the other people that are there and you all have a common love or common skill, you start to make really good friends. I never assume that it’s going to happen but it always does, especially if you keep in touch with social media. Meeting people that you’ve only really met on social media and making personal connections with people that love doing things that you love doing is so worth it.

What has your creative adventure been like?

Unexpected and unplanned, with an emphasis on creativity!

I never thought of myself as a business person. I started my crochet website and designed because I loved it. I had all these ideas and I wanted to share them. I ended up doing it full time for a small period and went through a licensing adventure in the apparel industry. I’ve published books and had a lot of things happen that I never could have imagined! It definitely wasn’t smooth or easy and there have been a lot of downs that have gone up with the up. You learn things and that it’s okay to fail.

Don’t forget to RSVP for Midwest Craft Con and get ready for grab your early bird ticket on September 1st!

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Crafting change with Sara Trail

Sara Trail is an author, sewing teacher, pattern and fabric designer. A graduate of the Harvard University Graduate School of Education, she founded the Social Justice Sewing Academy (SJSA) to be a platform where youth create art that engages and educates communities.

She’s a wealth of compassion and social betterment using quilting as a platform of personal expression. I had a chance to discuss her own journey and how her dedication carries into helping others.

You were taught to sew by your mother and a teacher at a young age. You were also informed that your grandmother was a slave, who made quilts herself. In what way did that early skill set and knowledge impact your work?

It kept me really rooted into the background of quilt making. My parents are really big readers and growing up we had a big history background on everything. Quilts were possibly used to translate messages back in the Civil War days. For instance if you had this quilt on display, outside the front door, it meant that this house was a safe house or don’t go to the house next door. In general I was taught the history of sewing and how embedded it was to the African American culture. That sewing could be more than just a hobby but that sewing was a black skill and that black people have been sewing for centuries really gave me more respect for the art form behind sewing. I really don’t think that sewing was my all. They put me into beading and horse back riding and anything I wanted to explore. My parents had such an appreciation for the arts in general. It wasn’t until I got older that I really developed and took sewing more seriously.

Have you gone back and sewn with your mom since since you’ve embraced sewing and quilting so fully?

I haven’t with my mom but I did with my great aunt, my grandma’s sister, Aunt Lynn. She hand quilted one of the quilts I made, a king size quilt. She put it on her frame and hand quilted it all. It’s now hanging in my parents house. It took her about five months to hand quilt the whole thing while it took me about two months. But she really did: detail, detail quilting.

I think that’s the best part about sewing. You can have as many or as little hands on as possible.

Can you share what it’s been like running a non-profit?

It took about six months of You-Tube research. Understanding how to get an EIN, a tax id, how to make a budgets, how to apply for grants, it was really just a lot of research.

I initially started the non-profit because I realized I needed to be able to accept donations and write grants. If I wanted to reach out to JOANN’s, for donating fabric, I needed it be a nonprofit for companies to sustain us. Then I realized that non-profits have a thousand more things to do than that. It’s really been a learning process. For instance with our summer programs. The population we work with, pretty much a marginalized youth from under resourced communities, not just youth of color, but just in general, there’s always hidden cost that comes up. Some kids will be a part of the program and will have no transportation to get them there or often they come without breakfast. So we weren’t budgeting for things like breakfast, we were budgeting for lunch, so let’s be more prepared to deal with kids not eating before the program starts at 9am. So meals, transportation to the workshop and home, we need to find a way to secure bus passes so kids can get back and forth because whatever adults they have in their life aren’t able to support them.

What’s the best way that makers, sewers and those attending Midwest Craft Con can help support an effort like Social Justice Sewing Academy?

If you can hand sew, sign up to embroider a block. Sometimes our workshops will be all day and we’ll get a 120 kids who will each make a block. So we need a 120 people to help embroider each kids art squares. So embroiderers are a great way and step to get involved. Cash or check donations are also needed to help cover mailing. People are willing to help with donations of fabric but it’s a 3 – 4 dollar charge, per square,  to cover the expense of even allowing people to embroider.

If you are part of a quilt guild you can host a fundraiser for old sewing machines or old fabric scissors. In our long term programming every kid is given a sewing machine and fabric scissors and typically a cutting mat.

Every summer since we’ve started, back in 2016, we’ve had a full time summer program. Last summer we did an art institute program for a week with kids we flew in from Baltimore. then we did a five week program with kids from Oakland and all the kids were able to keep sewing machines. We are constantly asked why do we need so many sewing machines. That’s because throughout the year we are saving up machines so at the end the 37 kids kids in the program can each get a machine that’s been donated to SJSA. We have a constant need for sewing machines, fabric donations, fabric scissors, rotary cutters so these kids can have a starter pack when the leave the program.

What’s been the response from graduates of your program? Are they still sewing?  How many have started their own businesses? How has this influenced who they are today?

Out of fifty percent of the kids in the program they continue to reach out for when they need help. They ask for mentors or someone to come to their house because their machine is stuck.We have embroiderers willing to come visit them or they go out to the kids.  I think really it’s about connecting them, just having a connection to those adult/mentors around them or a grandma figure because most of these kids really don’t have that active,involved or sewing knowledge’d adults in their life.

We’ve had kids from the first summer program who come back on Instagram showing that they’ve made another quilt, like “we’ve done this” and sharing and showing that they’ve enjoyed the process.

It’s not about making them become amazing sewers or making sure their 1/4 inch seam is perfect. It’s about giving them the tools: rotary cutters, scissors fabric, glues, appliques, embroidery thread, to express themselves with fabric.  It’s really not about technical skills but do you like it? Does it share what your feeling? Does it convey your intention?  I think that it allows to express themselves through there color choices and fabrics that might speak to them and that absolute fine.

For those involved in political change and activism, what are your personal tips for allowing yourself to step back and take some time to and allow yourself to move forward?

My biggest self care is reading! I Amazon Prime myself two books a week. So on average I allow myself to read eight to tent books a month, And I don’t just mean academic books, I mean good books. My book shelf is filled with the best self care because it’s filled with good literature. Sometimes I go by recommendations, sometimes I go by my favorite author but really: James Baldwin, Toni Morrison, Maya Angelo. I just read, and I read what I like. I have a corner of my house that has a sewing chair that rotates and it has comfy pillows. I think getting off social media, which can be overwhelming with the amount of young black guys getting killed, the amount of racist social interactions. Sometimes you want to be aware of whats happening but sometimes it’s nice to just unplug and just read.


The theme for Midwest Craft Con 2020 is Crafting your own adventure. How has SJSA allowed you to do that?

The power of personal narrative is more important than people realize. Owning your story and knowing your background, knowing where you come from regardless, whether that’s a place of privilege or disenfranchisement. People don’t understand how powerful their own story is. 

I’m never going to be on the eviction side of being kicked out or experience gentrification but allowing the youth to share their stories and their process of making a quilt while being pushed out is far more powerful than me trying to speak on behalf of everyone making their art.  Hearing from a raw 18 year old boy who didn’t want to sew initially but his mom signed him up for the program. For him to have had a chance to experience what this was all about to see his narrative and interpretation through a block quilt, its powerful in the community. I can say a lot but it’s coming from such a place a privilege and I started SJSA to be everything not like me. I started it for kids of low income, who didn’t have access.  I came from a two parent background with a degree from Harvard. I come from such privileged background and I want to share it with those who don’t have one.

Save the date for Midwest Craft Con  2020  to return February 28 – March 1 to meet Sara Trail and learn more about Social Justice Sewing Academy. 


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Save the Date for Midwest Craft Con 2020!

Midwest Craft Con is back and we have so many exciting announcements to share! Grab your ticket today. 

Who’s speaking at the CON?
Our keynotes for 2020 will be:.

  • Twinkie Chan is a crochet designer, author, blogger, YouTuber, and Creativebug instructor known for her colorful, food-themed accessories like cupcake scarves, hamburger mitts, and slushee cup purses
  • Sara Trail is an author, sewing teacher and pattern and fabric designer. A graduate of the Harvard University Graduate School of Education, she founded the Social Justice Sewing Academy (SJSA) to be a platform where youth create art that engages and educates communities. craft con 2019 (3).png

When is Midwest Craft Con returning?
Crafting your own adventure at Midwest Craft Con will start on February 28th – March 1st, 2020 in Columbus, Ohio! If you haven’t been to our conference, prepare yourself for a an endless weekend filled with pom poms and googly eyes, while you build your creative business. Get ready for our keynotes to fill you with inspiration, meet your creative heroes you admire online, and prepare to see colleagues you only see across the aisle at festivals.  Make new friends who help provide the extra drive you need to keep your business growing, long after the conference has ended.

Our theme for 2020 is Craft Your Own Adventure. We will return to the concrete cornfields (Google it!) of Dublin, Ohio. Our craft headquarters will be the Embassy Suites outside of Columbus.

Stay tuned for new team members, speaker & workshop sign ups, early bird release dates, scholarship forms, interviews with our keynotes and so much more!

RSVP Online or sign up to our newsletter to stay up to date on all the announcements!