Monday, August 11, 2014

Staying Sharp: 5 Ways to Sharpen Your Sewing Tools


1. I'm willing to bet most of you have this first item and don't even know its true potential! Did you know ever notice that silly little strawberry hanging off your tomato pin cushion? It isn't there just for looks (LOL), Mr. Strawberry is filled with something called "emery sand". I'm sure you have a few emery boards around the house or at the bottom of your purse to file your fingernails. Emery is also used to sharpen pins and needles and keep them free of burrs that will snag your fabric.


2. I'm going to be honest, my tomato pin cushion is hidden in the back of a drawer. Call me judgmental, but tomatoes are for my sandwich, not my sewing room. With a quick search of Pinterest you can find some amazingly cute ideas for diy pin cushions. Check out my pin cushion Pinterest board for a start. Most cushions call for Fiber Fill, which is great, but for a sharper solution...fill your custom cushions with emery to sharpen your pins and needles. You can purchase it by the pound and vwalla, you've got a cute and sharp solution.


3. Earlier this year, I was getting very frustrated while using my scissors, every snip I'd take, there was a thread that would be missed. I noticed a notch in my scissors, someone had used them for something other than fabric and took a chunk out of the metal. I'm SUUURE it wasn't me, I never get lazy and forget to grab my paper scissors. *clears throat*. I was ready to toss them and get a new pair, but quality scissors are expensive. That's when I found this Scissors Sharpening Stone. My scissors are restored and this can be used with knives and other scissors for years to come. A very small investment, with a huge return!



4. One of the most important tools in your sewing room is your rotary cutter. You'll find yourself working way harder than necessary if you have a dull blade, and replacement blades can be pricey!! If you are like me, I have more than one size rotary cutter too. Instead of replacements, check out this handy Power Rotary Blade Sharpener. It is for use with 28m, 45mm, and 60mm blades! This is a great investment that will save you a lot down the line.



5. Keep your marking tools sharp. For accuracy reasons, your marking pencils need to have fine tips. Clover has an adorable solution, the Clover Pencil Sharpener made just for sewing. It will out-perform your dollar store plastic sharpener and additionally it's a decorative piece to beautify your space. It has an antique design that sharpens pencils to a suitable length for sewing and quilting.



P.S. I would suggest watching YouTube tutorials on these products before using them, technique is everything.

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Sunday, July 27, 2014

Dick & Jane Baby Quilt


I was so excited to do this Dick & Jane Baby Quilt (Michael Miller's Dick & Jane fabric). Believe it or not, this was a stash quilt! The only thing I had to purchase was the batting. I have made a number of projects with this fabric over the years. Now that my kids are getting older, I'm finding fewer uses. It's pretty much used up now, and I had a ton of fun doing it!

A few of my previous Dick & Jane projects are a book caddy for my son's bed and a stuffed monkey doll that was kind of a fail. She's in the first picture, she's coming unstuffed!

A book caddy for the top bunk.

This being my third quilt, I thought I'd share a few tips I've learned a long the way. All the instructional videos I've been watching on Craftsy & YouTube have made a HUGE difference in the quality of this quilt compared to the last therefore making it that much more fun to sew.



A few tips & tutorials

Spray "starch" has changed my life! Having fabric blocks stiffer makes life much easier.

The back of the quilt.

The technique of pressing your seam allowances opposite ways when joining blocks is a neat trick! Again, I can't stress enough how helpful this FREE Craftsy tutorial was. A good tutorial on the other school of thought, pressing open your seams, can be found here. She has a lot of other great tips too.


My binding was 100% better due to this amazing binding tutorial by Missouri Star Quilt Co.! While you're at it, subscribe, this lady is pretty great. I enjoy her wisdom paired with her quick pace. Along with technique, I'll share a product that makes this job sooo much easier. I'm a fan of Clover products, but their Wonder Clips are one of my all time favorites.

I love wonder clips!
This binding is hand stitched, much improved from my last quilt!

The back.

I just got a new Janome sewing machine, so there will be lots of new projects soon while I test her out. Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Herringbone Baby Quilt

It's taken me a long time to take this step.... my first quilt!



Ok, confession...
This was NOT my first quilt. Below is photo evidence circa 1996, a school project. *wince*. Yes I made the matching dress too. Everyone needs apparel to match their quilt.



MOVING ON.

I. Learned. A. Lot.

You'll get much more valuable tips from other blogs and sites, I won't pretend to be an expert after 1... ok, 2 quilts. I will tell you though, I learned I didn't understand triangles, bias cutting, and fabric stretch. If you're a newbie, my suggestion is to look this up before endeavoring on your first triangle quilt. Also, learn the triangle trick (at least I think it's a trick).



I thought I was choosing a pattern that would be easy, but it turned out that the fabrics I chose led to... a lot of math.  Don't try to create your own pattern if you're a newbie, too much unnecessary stress!

Precision is important. This is not my strong suit, so it's great practice for me to take things a bit slower.

Get organized! Label your stacks & label your quilt axes.


I used the pattern system G1-G-4 (gray fabrics) and B1-B4 (blue fabrics), letters for my vertical axis, and numbers for my horizontal axis. Do what is comfortable for you. My first two columns created the pattern that repeated throughout to make 5 sets of 2 columns=10 columns across. My columns were 12 squares high. If math is your thing, that's 120 of those suckers.

It's so easy to nit-pick, but I won't, it was a learning experience!

AFTER the fact, I watched this gem: Craftsy has a free quilting basics class online. AMAZING! In a way I may have learned more watching after I made all my mistakes, because it was easier to apply the knowledge, but I do suggest watching it BEFORE. ;)

If there is major interest (comments please), I can put up the 8 color version of this pattern that I created, otherwise you can just adapt this one like I did.

My Materials:
1/4 yard of each of the 8 fabrics (this was cutting it close *pun intended*).
1 1/4 yards for backing fabric
Batting (baby quilt size in a bag)
1/2 yard for binding
2 spools of thread
I got all my supplies at Jo-Ann Fabrics with 5 coupons. Score.

I cut 4.5" squares, once they are sewn into triangle pieced squares, they are 4" square (including seam allowance). My quilt's final size is 36" w x 43" h. Now to wrap it in tissue paper and give it away *sniffle sniffle*.



I stitched in the ditch with the walking foot. I'm excited to try something different next time. Did I say next time?



Thursday, March 27, 2014

Autism Awareness Facebook Cover (2014)

In the spirit of April being Autism Awareness month and the CDC's release of the new autism rates today (3/27/14), I've created another Facebook cover to help spread awareness. Feel free to save, use and share on Facebook. Click the image below, then right click to save. Please don't edit the image without my permission.


Saturday, February 15, 2014

Tea Party Cake

Tea anyone? When my daughter asked for a tea party theme for her 4th birthday, I immediately thought of a lovely table with tablecloth for a cake, set with sweets and tea. Luckily with this kind of detail, I can do them ahead of time out of fondant because it lasts, but I switched it up this time. Since I've been dabbling in clay lately, I decided to do the tea set and food in clay so she could play with them after the cake is gobbled up. The tablecloth on down is fondant and edible goodness, here's how it turned out.

This cake was labor intensive, at least the clay bits, but it was worth it, it will last and boy is this food tiny! Here's how it went...


"SOPHIA" was cut out using the Ateco Alphabet Letter Set.





To give you an idea of scale... (and I have tiny hands)



Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Mini Clay Garden Figurines Part II

If you missed it, click here for Part I

Succulent Garden Gifts
See my tutorial here to create the garden.
The glass vases came from the Dollar Store and the adorable chalkboard buckets came from my house....they were left there and hidden in a cabinet by the previous owner. So thanks to her! Please comment below if you know where to find these!


My first attempt at a cupcake. There is room for improvement!


The puggy is my favorite. Who doesn't love the face of a pug?? His friend is a Cardigan Welsh Corgi. No surprise, this gift is going to someone with both types of dogs... and if you're reading this, you know who you are... forget you ever saw it! It's a surprise!

This stop sign is perfect for bus drivers or crossing guards! Here is a free stop sign printable card from another bus driver gift of mine.


Teacher Gifts
The following gardens in the red buckets with chalk boards are teachers gifts. The apples and crayon and I used may have given that away! I have a whole slew of other teacher gift ideas too.


This is my favorite. Love the tiny apple!





 I'm so excited to further explore clay! Expect to see more soon!


Mini Clay Garden Figurines Part I

Today's post very much falls under the category of "other crafty things." I've never touched clay a day in my life until this project. I have been increasingly enjoying working with fondant on my cakes and was curious to see how this measured up. Clay is AWESOME! Sorry to my Pinterest followers, I've been bombarding them with clay pins! My first application with clay are these mini clay garden figurines. For Christmas I'm giving a slew of people succulent gardens, and I wanted to make them personalized, so I ventured into clay. It is simple enough that I can show you how I did it! I'm a novice, so by all means, take my advice with a grain of salt!

Tools and Supplies  
Sculpey Polymer Clay
Polyform Sculpey Glaze
Acrylic Paints
Greening Pins
Paint Brushes
Oven or Toaster Oven
Fine Sand Paper
Pottery Tools & I also used Duff Fondant Tools, similar to Wilton's (optional but highly recommended)
Smooth Foam (optional)
Paint Tray (optional)
Wire (optional)
Wire Cutters (optional)
Needle-nose pliers (optional)




I was surprised how EASY it was (for me) to work with clay compared to gum paste and fondant. Clay is so forgiving, and I love that you can sand it to get a better finish. So here's how it went... sculpt, bake, sand, paint, glaze, admire. It really is simple, and the baking instructions are on the clay box, whichever brand you choose. Here is how it turned out and a few tips...


To fit the Greening Pins in some of my smaller clay figurines, I had to use a needle-nose pliers to bend the top. The jag at the top of the greening pins are great for keeping the wire in the clay.


For the circles on these adorable mushrooms and ladybug (see below), I disassembled a pen and pressed it into the clay. It created a great little detail and the ring around it made it very easy to paint.


 I accordion folded a piece paper to keep my figurines from rolling around or possibly getting a flat edge during baking.


This pug picture is before the glaze. That's my Pugalier (Pug/Cavalier Spaniel Mix), Jack.


To get the realistic look of an apple, take your red acrylic paint and split it into three. To one pile add white and to another add a bit of brown. By alternating these three colors, give your apple some highlights and shadows as well as mimic the look of a real apple. Use the brush strokes to your advantage.




See them glazed and in action...well in planters, Mini Clay Garden Figurines Part II.