What Makers Want: Gifts for Creatives

Looking to buy a gift for the creative in your life?

We decided to highlight the keynotes of Midwest Craft Con past, not to mention those of Midwest Craft Con future in 2020. Explore their shops and products to find something for the creative on your list.  Of course, the most helpful thing you could give a maker for the holidays is a ticket to Midwest Craft Con.



One of our first keynotes at Midwest Craft Con artist, and illustrator Lisa Congdon brings her expertise to this guide to the process of artistic self-discovery.



Gemma Correll taught us that periods and pugs make the world go round and she offers a limitless supply of products that keep us entertained and inspired.



Our 2018 Keynote, Jen Hewitt, fills the pages of this book with textile examples and simple sewing projects for creatives.


For those who love food and crochet, explore the online shop of Twinkie Chan. Download a pattern, some brightly colored yarn and start making. Also explore books and premade goods. We can’t wait to meet Twinkie Chan at the next Midwest Craft Con.



Kathy Cano-Murillo, aka Crafty Chica, sprinkled in all her positivity in 2018 with how she built her creative business from the ground up, with the assist of glitter and hard work. She offers a wide assortment of books and products.



In 2017 we meet Abby Glassenberg, a sewer, podcaster and who was in the infancy of Craft Industry Alliance. This online membership group hosts live meetups, articles and provides countless discounts and advice for and from other creatives.



Yao Cheng continues to share her skills, as she did in 2018, through online session on Creativebug. Sign up and follow along as she teaches a series of beginning watercolor courses.


We are all looking forward to hear more about Social Justice Sewing Academy and the journey that craft has taken Sara on through her work with this non-profit. You can give the gift of a donation and attend Sara’s keynote address in 2020.



Back in 2017, Chris Glass taught us to slow down and observe our surroundings. To take the time to walk around, to reevaluate what and how we wanted our life to transform. His side business Wire & Twine offers apparel that speaks to Midwest roots.

Anything else on your wish list this year? Share your favorite gifts for makers in the comments!


Show a Crafter You Care With Our Holiday Gift Guide

It’s December, so the time is ticking down to buy the crafter in your life the perfect gift. We asked the Conners in our Facebook group what they’re wishing for this year to create this crafty gift guide. (Note: The Amazon links below include our affiliate info, so we earn a few percent back on anything you buy.)

And we must put in a plug for our own swag: We are offering $5 our Never Craft Alone tees and totes from the 2018 Midwest Craft Con! This super cute swag features the design by Gemma Correll and was printed in Columbus, Ohio, by Alison Rose. You can get them in our shop here!

What do crafters want to get as gifts this year? Here’s what’s on crafters’ wish lists:

Great scissors

No matter what kind of crafts a person gets down with, really good scissors always make a great gift. Sublime Stitching has a beautiful selection of thread scissors, ranging from $15 to $110. For all-purpose cutting needs, Kai scissors are top-rated on Amazon, ranging from $15 to $80. If you want to go big, Tula Pink’s hardware system is seven pieces of German-made sewing cutlery for $172.99.

ikea skadis pegboard system

A pegboard system

Lots of our Conners want to get more organized in the new year. We suggest checking out the infinitely customizable Skadis pegboard system from IKEA. A single 30″x22″ pegboard is just $9.99, and you can add as many additional boards and accessories as you want.

A paper calendar

There’s been a real planner renaissance recently. Getting off your phone and writing down tasks by hand can really help you focus and get a handle on what you’ve got to do. Our crafters love the annual planner-style Get to Work Book ($55) and the hanging Habit Calendar from Free Period Press ($18).

habit calendar, free period press

Craft appliances

Big-ticket items like crafting appliances make amazing gifts. Our crafters especially want the Silhouette Cameo 3 ($299), which can cordlessly cut a variety of materials. The Cricut Easypress ($149) has a 9″x9″ adjustable-temperature heating plate to make iron-ons easy. And the DYMO LabelWriter ($129) can change your shipping workflow forever. These items could be business expenses — treat yourself before the end of the year to a tax writeoff!

Gift cards

Of course, if you aren’t 100% sure what the crafty person in your life has on their wish list, you can’t go wrong with a gift card to your local craft supply store or indie craft shop!

Is there anything else you’ve got on your gift list this year? Let us know in the comments!


Self care for creatives

On the last day of the Con this year, we had a panel discussion called Self Care for Crafters, and I don’t know about y’all, but it was possibly my favorite session of the weekend. Kathy Cano Murillo, Jesi Rodgers, Lesley Ware and Gemma Correll got onstage to discuss taking care of yourself while you’re trying to run a creative business. These are some notes from that session!

Self-care is a buzzword right now, but it’s nothing to roll your eyes at. When your creative business is YOU, you have to take care of yourself. That means getting enough sleep, water, food and movement in your day. It also means being kind to yourself when something goes wrong.

When you’re running a craft business, especially when you’re trying to get up to full speed, you can end up “on the struggle bus,” as Kathy put it. “I should be sprinkling glitter right now!” But learning how to ask for help and taking the day off every Sunday, no matter what, helped her reclaim her time.

jesi rodgers, kathy cano murillo

Let up the pressure on yourself to finish everything right now, Kathy said. Many of these folks also said cutting back on custom orders helped them tame the crazy. It’s OK to say no! In fact, you should say no sometimes. Trust your intuition.

Make an appointment with yourself once a week to check in and breathe. Someone wants to see you during that time? Sorry, you have an appointment! Create routines for yourself that you honor even in times of stress, like regular bedtimes, creating a to-do list first thing in the morning or taking a walk each day.

Spending time on anything other than your business can make you feel guilty sometimes. It took a while for her to realize that we all “need to enjoy life a little more, and it’s OK to do that,” Gemma said.

Self-care gets easier if you plan and make space for it. Like making one day of your week totally off-limits for work, or keeping a regular appointment with a friend or setting aside a night for a favorite non-monetized craft. Eat breakfast every day — no excuses!

Take the time to make doctors’ appointments you’ve been putting off. Get everything you hate to do out of the way, and you’ll stop dreading it — it’s like magic. Reward yourself with a sticker, just like elementary school. Kathy uses Alexa as her personal assistant; for those moments when she wakes up thinking of something she has to do, she just tells Alexa to add it to her to-do list and goes back to sleep.

gemma correll, lesley ware

Lesley uses fashion as therapy: When she was feeling down, she wore seven days of sparkles, even if she wasn’t leaving the house. Jesi’s biggest tip is turn off notifications on your phone. Let those little distractions waltz on out of your life.

Self-care can also be about treating yourself — Kathy has a housekeeper who comes every two weeks to keep things in order and she subscribes to the Hello Fresh meal delivery service to have healthy food on hand. Lesley books a massage once a month (and I emphatically co-sign this idea).

To get out of your head, calm your nerves and refocus your energy, our panelists recommend the Tranquility du Jour podcast, the Headspace app, the Calm app, The Artist’s Way and Yoga with Adriene. You can find more ideas for self-care amid craft show season here.


What Makers Want: Gifts for Crafters

Looking to buy a gift for the crafter in your life? We made this wish list for people who love makers and want to give them something special this holiday season. (That special person could be yourself! We aren’t judging. #treatyoself) Our picks are divided up into categories of gifts: helpful things, charitable things, tasty things and fun things. Of course, the most helpful thing you could give a maker for Christmas is a ticket to Midwest Craft Con, just sayin’. Read on for our whole gift guide for crafters!

Megan’s picks

Something helpful: The DYMO shipping label maker is a major time-saver for any small-business owner. If you’re buying this for the seller in your life, be a dear and also order some extra ink and label rolls.

dymo shipping label maker

Something tasty: Give me all the Brezel Pretzels. These Bavarian treats are all I want to eat.

brezel pretzels

Something charitable: Midwest Craft Con is high on my list of groups to support, but clearly I’m biased! Other charities I support include Women Have Options.

Something fun: Monthly gift subscriptions are an easy way to keep giving surprises. Cloth and Paper has created a service full of stationary, pens and  planners.

cloth and paper, diy subscription kits

Brit’s picks

Something helpful: The habit calendar from Free Period Press to support all your unrealistic New Year’s resolutions. Add some organization to your overachieving!

free period press habit calendar

Something tasty: Prongles. In case you didn’t hear, Cards Against Humanity has pivoted from a game company to a snack company. Once you pop, that’s great!

Something charitable: A donation to Stewart’s Caring Place, a center in Akron that supports cancer patients in treatment.

Something fun: This is technically also tasty, but Nocino from Watershed Distillery in Columbus. It’s a black walnut liqueur only released once a year.

Grace’s picks

Something helpful: I’ve been writing in Field Notes notebooks for almost a decade, dang! You can even get the maker in your life a subscription so they never miss a special edition.

field notes notebook subscription

Something tasty: The No. 1 German food item I love is Haribo gummy candy. This tub of gummy frogs is the gift that keeps on giving.

haribo gummy frogs tub

Something charitable: The world is a crazy place, and sometimes I feel helpless about it. But this year I want to give to the UN Human Rights Commission, which helps people in tough spots around the world.

Something fun: A gift certificate to Spoonflower is an awesome gift idea — your maker can get fabric or gift wrap printed with their own design!

spoonflower fabric gift certificate

Anything else on your wish list this year? Share your favorite gifts for makers in the comments!

News · Resources

Self Care in the Holiday Season

For a lot of makers, this is both the most wonderful time of the year and the most stressful time of the year. Holiday craft shows + last-minute custom orders + peak online sales = EXHAUSTED. We’ve been talking about self-care in the holiday craft show season in our private Facebook group for conners, and we’ve come up with a great list of ways to treat yourself well when your business is stressing you out:

Hot beverages and a half hour to yourself

Little daily rituals that are just for you can do a lot for your sanity. Whether it’s to start off your day with a dose of caffeine or a way to wind down at night, give yourself permission to zone out for 15 or 30 minutes with a hot mug of tea or coffee.

Go offline for an evening

Shut the laptop, turn off your phone, and enjoy offline pleasures like reading a favorite book, playing a board game or writing letters to friends. The emails will still be there tomorrow.

Cuddle times with furry friends

The unconditional love of pets always cheers me up on a tough day. If you don’t have cuddly friends of your own and there’s no cat cafe in your town, consider helping out at your local animal shelter to get those cuddles in!

Give yourself permission to take shortcuts

When you’re in a stressful period, feeling like you “should” do something a certain way makes it even worse. Like rather than feeling that you “should” cook your dinners from scratch, give yourself permission to order take-out or get heat-and-eat options from the grocery store. You aren’t being graded.

Make time for movement

It can be hard to fit it in while you’re in peak production season, but exercise is a proven stress reliever. I personally have made it my business to go to yoga two evenings a week, no matter what. Going for a walk or a run, hitting the pool or just doing some deep stretches will work, too!

Book a massage for the day after your last show

This is a tried-and-true tradition for us organizers of Midwest Craft Con. I splurge on an hour-long massage every other month, and it is the best gift I give to myself all year. Add a manicure or pedicure to that, and you’ve got yourself a spa day.

Block off a day for doing absolutely nothing

Celebrate getting through the holiday craft show season by doing whatever the heck you want! No emails, no post office, no invoices. Just you.

Remember: Self-care does not have to be expensive! The most important thing is just to make time to relax and take care of yourself, all year round. You really deserve it.

PS: Because self-care is so important, our conference in February has a number of sessions dedicated to taking care of yourself and your business:

  • Tara Swiger on Developing Business Confidence
  • Thea Starr on How to Say No
  • The Wonder Jam on Getting Rid of Impostor Syndrome

Oct. 22 is National Craft Con Day!

national craft con day!

We’re a little sad that Midwest Craft Con only happens once a year. Maybe you’ve been too busy with craft shows and LIFE to see the conners you befriended back in February this summer. NO MORE EXCUSES!

Block off Saturday, Oct. 22, 2016, in your calendar — it is National Craft Con Day! We’re encouraging everyone who attended the first Midwest Craft Con to get together with their camp buddies that day. We’ve already got a few events in the works for our home cities in Ohio, but anyone is welcome to put together a get-together where they live. We encourage welcoming non-conners or potential future conners to join in the fun, which can be anything from a chill crafternoon to a raging karaoke party. You can see all the parties being organized so far and how to make an event here, and email us or message us in the Facebook group if you’re making one you want to add to the list!

And you really don’t want to miss out on Oct. 22, because we’ll be raffling off two free nights at the conference hotel for the 2017 Midwest Craft Con to one lucky participant in the craft parties! We’ll select a winner from all the craft party attendees by Nov. 1.