Meet Salena Baca Crochet Artist, Teacher, and Entrepreneur

Every month I'm bringing you an Artist I think you'd love--because I love them! 

This week let me introduce my lovely friend Salena Baca. She is an extraordinary person, crochet artist, encourageR, and business woman. Grab a cuppa and relax in a warm blanket while we chat.

Salena's Facebook page has 30,000+ followers with tons of activity.  She's also here on Craftsy and here on Ravelry.

 Where did you grow up and do you think this had an impact on you as a Maker?

I was born and raised on the Big Island of Hawaii, which absolutely influenced me to become a maker! My particular craft (obsession?) is crochet, which I learned in kindergarten along with a slew of other crafty skills, like: gardening, painting, sculpting, singing, dancing, and baking. My education in Hawaii followed the Waldorf style of teaching, so every element of our lessons was paired with some type of creative expression; we sketched and wrote our own textbooks, we make beeswax sculptures while listening to Grimms Fairy Tales (yes, even the amazingly gory ones, like Bluebear), and math was taught with stories of gnomes and elves. My environment taught academia with art, as if they were one in the same; we were born and raised to be makers!

click here for free patterns

You also sew, why did you decide to focus on crochet art?
Do you feel a bigger pull towards working with yarn?

The first hobby I learned was crochet, and it was also the first hobby I became extraordinarily proficient in. I understood yarn, and the fabric I could create with crochet. Crochet was a natural fit for me, and I just learned it quicker and with greater ease, than any of my other hobbies.

Do you make daily? What is your favorite thing in the world to make?  What is your LEAST favorite? LOL! (My slipper request?! HA!)

Now that crochet is my “day job”, and not just my hobby, I don’t crochet every single day. But, I do work in crochet education and theory EVERY SINGLE DAY. My favorite things to make are wearable accessories (hats, cowels, scarves, shawls), because there is a satisfaction in making something quickly that I can wear and enjoy! I don’t enjoy making the same thing more than once, and if I do make something more than one time it’s either a pair or I REALLY LOVED IT!

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Salena also made me a ton of crochet headbands, as I'm wearing here at Undley Pumpkin Patch. Photo courtesy of Danielle MC Photography. My BFF Natasha is concentrating like a boss in this photo.

I vividly remember your slippers! And, I vividly remember that it was the pattern that was a bit, well, off and very hard to decipher. It’s patterns like those slippers that led me to pattern writing, and crochet education!

Free the masses with education, and spread peace and love through creative competence (or, well, some version of that)!

Salena, this sounds revolutionary and you know I dig that. :)

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Here I'm wearing my Baca Hat--at Stonehenge. I don't mess around you guys.

We met in England, and I remember the exact moment --can you believe that? Do you find the market different now that you're living in the US again? How has it affected your business or personal outlook?
You enchanted me, and I have always adored you! You really are one of my favorite people to know, and just knowing you brings me so much joy! Truly.

I stalked you for a long time before we met in person, so my judgement may be a bit off about our first meeting… It was at one of the base Bazaar's though, right? You were (are) my favorite person to stalk!

Oh, England. I really felt home there; I loved the people, the culture, the cities, the food, the tea! There was not one thing I did not absolutely love about England, and living in there did allow me to build my crochet business into something that, I felt, defined me. Living in America again now has changed my business mindset; for the better, really. I’m no longer in England on what seemed to be a long, lovely holiday; In America, I’m back in reality, and this is a job.

I love this job, and this work, but there is a real difference.

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Do you sell ready made items or do you take requests? Do you find this invigorating or draining? (I will edit this one to read better and be less harsh.)

Not anymore! While that was a really successful business model for me for a long time, it’s not one that was kind to my schedule and my body; I just can’t crochet things for other people all day every day! While it was very invigorating at first, it did become draining. The silver lining though was that I quickly learned how to maximize my time, efforts, and income; teach others to make what they want!

I know you have a couple books out and have been featured in magazines- can you list them here for us please?
I’ve been published over 70 times since 2009, writing articles and submitting patterns for various books and magazines. In addition to being published, I also started a few crochet publications and published a few of my own books! Here are some of my favorites, and most noteworthy:
  • 014-2017: Happily Hooked Magazine, Content Coordinator / Director of Relations
  • 2014-2016: The Pattern Pack, Founder / Editor
  • Book, 2015; Crochet for Christmas
  • Book, 2017; My Crocheted Closet

  • Do you prefer specific yarns or tools? Brands?

I love commercial yarns that are accessible! Some of my favorite brands are Red Heart, Knit Picks, Lion Brand, and Valley Yarns. As far as tools, my favorite brand of crochet hook is Susan Bates, and I really love to have my handles covered with poly-clay designs from hand makers I find on Etsy!

What is the simplest project a newbie can get started on and make successfully in your opinion? How many skeins would this take?
I love to each people how to crochet, and there are WAY too many things to consider as a beginner before you dive into your first crochet project. I’m working with Craftsy right now to build a crochet class, and it should be available in March / April 2017! In it, you’ll learn more about tools, yarns, foundation stitches, stitch anatomy, counting stitches and rows, and you’ll see what it takes to make flat and round projects.

Where do you see Baca Creations in three years?

Gone are the days of “Baca Creations”! I changed my business model when I moved back to American in 2012 and I now focus on crochet education and resources to help crocheters help themselves! I write crochet patterns under my brand Salena Baca Crochet, and I’m also the founder and lead educator at the American Crochet Association. I have a lifetime goal of assuring that crocheters have resources that make each generation better adapted, and better skilled, than the last.

It’s my goal to assure each generation leaves crochet in better, more capable hands, than the previous.

Will you move next door to me please? LOLOLOL
I’ve waited so long to hear those words, YES!!!!! Seriously though, can I visit you?



Santorini Tote sewing pattern - easy to sew zipper top tote

The Santorini Tote has been updated with new sizes and lots of options including security pockets. Make handles or straps (or both)- the goal is to make the bag customized to you. I've had it tested multiple times once again, just to make sure it's easy to understand for all levels of Sewists.

The PDF pattern is here in my Etsy shop.

The printed booklet pattern is coming soon- ask your local shop to carry my patterns if they don't already. I've had a lot of positive feedback regarding beginner sewists being able to follow my patterns- and THAT is exactly my #1 goal. I want everyone to be successful. 

Susan's bag is super duper chic and classy!  Find her AHHmazing bag making skills on her IG feed @skh51

 Buzy Bette's bag is so beautiful in this fabric- she added extra pockets inside plus quilted the outside in squares around the Asian Beauties. She's another Bag Making Wizard! Find her makes on her IG feed @buzybette.

The Santorini Tote is a large zipper closure bag perfect for making your next getaway. Pattern comes with two sizes (regular) and (large). 

This digitally drawn pattern includes step by step instructions, diagrams, and photos walking you through sewing this bag.

Finished regular size bag with boxed corners is approx 18" x 13" x 5"
Finished large size bag with boxed corners is approx 20" x 14" x 5"

If you make the regular size bag, two fat quarters will make the exterior. This is all you "waste"---(but actually you can use those scraps for zipper tabs later).
 One fat quarter = one exterior side

For this bag I made it with two fat quarters of DRAGON fabric (one is eye balls). It's now my Daughter's Piano bag. I found this amazing fabric at Blue Bar Quilt shop in Middleton,WI.

Trina went WILD like the badass she is and made three Santorini Totes--outfitting them for friends who knit! Or crochet. Or make poms. They're so gorg in her patchwork style! Find her mad sewing skills here @trina_peterson.

You can sew this tote in nearly any sort of fabric- quilting cotton, vinyl, cork, upholstery fabric, canvas, duck cloth, leather... My key tip is to interface it as instructed in the pattern. Interfacing makes a WORLD of difference--not only in appearance but also in strength.

This is vinyl croc iridescent fabric. Incred right?!!

OK...there are more tester pics out there but I'm going to drip feed them for extra drama! Extra--I love that and how the teens are using it these days. Bahahahhaa. I think I might be a smidge "extra". 

If you have any questions please email me or reach out on IG. 
I'm @sewhungryhippie. 

 Be sure to comment on a photo if we don't follow each other or it might go into the abyss of lost messages! XOXO



how to sew a vinyl keep case

These fast sews are so FUN! They don't take long at all because there is no lining to mess with. 

The vinyl looks great on its own, and allows you to see your shizzle. 

Need vinyl? I've got some kits available HERE if you want to give this a try without spending a ton of money (shipping rolls of vinyl is expensive Yo!)

You'll want to use a Teflon or NON STICK sewing foot when sewing with vinyl.  If you don't have one, for a super fast fix, put scotch tape on the bottom of your sewing foot. It allows the foot to glide over the vinyl. Students in my classes do this all the time and it works!

 Let's begin.

(2) pieces vinyl at 5" tall x 9" wide
(2) zipper tabs (cotton) at 2" x 3"
(1) 8" zipper or trim to size
non stick foot

1. (Use the scrap bin for these babes.) Take the zipper tabs and fold short ends in towards the middle and press. Press again to make a sandwich-(visualize double fold binding if you're a quilter). We stick the ends of the zipper in there so no puckered corners are visible. 

2. Tuck butt end of zipper into one tab and pin or clip in place. Sew along non folded edge, catching both sides as you sew. 

3. Trim zipper to 8" length (cut off those metal bits they are mean to sewing needles) and attach the other zipper tab in the same way. 

Trim sides to be as wide as the zipper. 

4. Lay the zipper RIGHT SIDE DOWN onto the vinyl. I would say right sides together but vinyl doesn't really have a wrong side.  Clip in place.

Wonder clips can be found here or in local shops.

5. If you have a zipper foot, put it on now and sew down the zipper at 1/4" seam. If using a regular foot just move the zipper head out of your way when your sewing foot comes near it.

6. Attach the other side in the same way- to the other side of the zipper.

7. Press flat and fold seam allowance toward body of case. Finger press and then top stitch this down for a profesh look. If persnickety about stitches showing match your vinyl color and thread now. 

8. OPEN the zipper. Alllllllllllllllllllll the way.

Did you OPEN the zipper?
Just checking.

I don't want you cussing at me.

9. Lay the RIGHT sides together. Clip in place.

10. Sew around sides and bottom at 1/4" SA. The top is open because of the zipper. 

11. Trim corners and seam allowance a touch.

12. Turn right sides out. Warm it up on the radiator or use a hair dryer to make the vinyl easier to turn. It only takes 20 seconds.

13. Poke the corners out with a chop stick or some sort of tool but BE CAREFUL. This is not a time to show off your biceps. 

ADMIRE your AWESOME new case! 

I want to see it or them! If you're name is Wendy I know you'll make 4356. I super want to see that.

Tag me on IG @sewhungryhippie

or use #hhsewingpattern

I LOVE and ADORE sewing with vinyl.

 Have you seen my other patterns and tutorials using this amazing fabric? 

Try it-- you'll have fun guaranteed.
And if you don't have fun maybe you're sour. Eat some sugar.

Have fun making My Friends!