Friday, July 13, 2012

Free Printables to Brighten Your Sewing Space

I am a big fan of having an inspiration wall.  Some people settle for a board (true - - sometimes a board is all you have space for!), I have a WALL:

Inspiration Wall
This is my former wall actually . . . the new one in the new room is pretty similar at the moment, but not photographed yet . . .
I like to add and change the pictures as the mood strikes, and my little clip rails (Fiskevik from Ikea) make it easy to do so.  Just for fun I thought I'd share some of my favorite free printables I've discovered around the web that are just perfect to cheer up your crafty corner.  :)

Just ran across this one recently and I love it . . . may your bobbin always be full!

I like to mix form and function, and I'm thinking it might be nice to hang up this reference as part of an inspiration wall:


As a person who managed to set on fire basically every experiment in Chemistry class in high school (my poor lab partner!), I find this Periodic Table of Sewing Elements way more my speed:


Pick your favorite, or pin up all 3!


Sew on your favorite buttons and put them on display with these cute button cards:


Love this one from Compulsive Craftiness:


This one cracks me up . . . comes in 5 different colors or just plain white!


This little vintage drawing is so sweet:


I like this one too . . . simple and classic:


And finally . . . not like you need to be reminded . . . but Sew It Pretty!  :)



Would love it if you would leave me a link to your favorites in the comments!

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Saturday, July 7, 2012

She Loves Her Lunchbox!

Working off my summer project to-do list has been a bit of a challenge . . . it's not like my time has been overflowing lately.  I love Kiwi, but she doesn't sleep 24 hours a day to allow for breezy summertime sewing sessions at my leisure.  ;)

Over the course of several mini-sessions over a period of about a week, I was able to finish this lunch bag for Little Miss.  Had I been uninterrupted it would have whipped up much more quickly than that.

Pink Owl Lunchbox

Little Miss decided from the get-go that she wanted her new lunchbox to coordinate with her backpack.  Luckily, I had enough fabric left over from the backpack project to squeeze out a lunchbox.  You may also recognize the laminated cotton I used for the inside . . . I had just the right little chunk left over from her dance bag to complete the lunch bag.
Pink Owl Lunch Box Inside

This pattern (Love Your Lunchbox by Gingercake) is really straightforward and sews up easily.  I was excited to use up some stash fabrics . . . the only thing I didn't have on hand was some Insul-Brite (made sure to nab a little extra while I was in the fabric store though so that I had it at the ready for when Kee-ku decides he needs a bag too.  I mean, do you have more than one child?  They always want what the other one has . . . constantly.)
Pink Owl Lunchbox Side View

I am really happy with how this project turned out.  Little Miss was THRILLED when I finished and has been using it constantly to hold random stuff around the house ever since I handed it over.  Of course . . . I had to break it to her shortly after I finished it that she wasn't going to be able to use it for school and that I would have to make her another one.

Confused?

Well . . . I bought this dandy little container at TJMaxx the other day for about $3 or $4.  It is like a mini bento-esque box so I don't have to use plastic baggies every day for her lunch.  And no sandwiches get smooshed.  ;)



I also picked up these cool reusable bottles on clearance at Meijer so I can send her with a bottle of water (and thus can avoid buying bottled water all year long):



And therein lies the rub.

Yeah, it won't all fit.  I can fit the box in (perfectly actually), but there is no room for the drink.  Or a piece of fruit.  Or anything else at all really. 

It's my own fault . . . I should have checked the dimensions and made sizing adjustments from the beginning, but I just did not.  So her lovely new bag will stay in circulation around the house as I look to acquire another piece of laminated cotton for the inside of a new bag.  And figure out what to use for the new outer.  (I don't have enough left of either fabric to make the same bag again.)
Coordinating Backpack and Lunchbox
1. She LOVES it!, 2. Pink Owl Lunchbox

As for the bags not matching anymore, it will be fine.  For one, I'm pretty sure we can't use her backpack for school again anyway.  It's toddler sized which is great in a lot of ways (sized to fit her little self), but not quite big enough to hold a regular sized piece of paper without folding it up . . . so much stuff got sent home with her from preschool that didn't fit into her bag properly.  I can only imagine the problem will get worse in kindergarten.  :P

She keeps asking me when I'm going to make her a new backpack, but I think I'm probably just going to end up buying her a new one this year.  That project took a really long time and a bunch of little notions and stuff that I don't have on hand and don't feel like buying right now.  So unless I find a really easy backpack pattern that I actually like (no drawstring tops, please), I'm just going to buy her one.

But I'm still going to make her a lunch box.  Again.

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Friday, July 6, 2012

Freshening Up the Ironing Board

Did you ever notice that when you buy something shiny and new it illuminates how worn out your other stuff is?  That happened to me as soon as I put my new iron on my old ironing board:

The New Iron with The Old Nasty Board

YUCK.

That  cover was looking beyond dingy and gross.  It started out white under there.  I can't believe I'm even showing you this.  What a disgrace.

Even when I bought it, It was nothing particularly special . . . I think I got it at Target or Meijer a few years ago.  It served its purpose.  But it was past time for a new one.

Sewing a new cover for the ironing board is not a particularly exciting or fun project, but the result is pretty sweet.  Originally I was going to make something similar to this, but since I have been happily forcing myself to dig into my stash and as much as possible NOT buy any more fabric for awhile, I couldn't pull it off.  I didn't have enough large pieces in my Pop Garden stash to bring it together.  Then I found this tutorial on Sew4Home and used the design as my inspiration:
Pop Daisy Ironing Board


I didn't have much, but I was able to piece together a long strip out of my remaining piece of Pop Daisy (I even did the glue trick on one of the pieces to match it up) and used it as my focus fabric.  I had quite a large piece of Swirly Buds in Yellow and was able to use that for the sides.  From there I took a cue from this tutorial from U-Handbag which utilizes the cording from the previous ironing board on the new one so you don't have to monkey with that whole part again.

Did I mention I'm trying to not buy more sewing stuff than is absolutely necessary right now?  I feel like I'm on a craft burn.  And it feels good.
Ironing Corner

So there she is.  She might seem a bit fussy for an ironing board cover that will start looking crummy sooner or later . . . looking at it I can hardly believe I used my precious Heather Bailey for such a project, but honestly it makes me happy.  To iron.

And that, my friends, is a lovely thing.  :)

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On a side note: I'm linking this post up with Kelly's My Precious QAL (which does not have to be quilt-y as such, but does need to be a project which uses up some fabric from the "too precious to ever cut into" pile).

QAL


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Wednesday, July 4, 2012

The Death of My Iron, and Who I Chose to Replace Her

In addition to the unexpected blocking of my website (still don't know what happened there - waiting for Google to come visit it again and take their warning off my site which could take many weeks . . . really wish there was some kind of customer service number I could call to work through this whole thing . . .), my beloved Oliso iron kicked the bucket recently.  My iron was something that I took f o r e v e r to blog about because I wanted to make sure it really was awesome before I came out with an endorsement.  It is, after all, a bit of an investment.


Oliso TG1600 1800 Watts Smart Iron Pro


I splurged on it after I did a very big project for my mother-in-law back in 2010.  It felt extravagant at the time to be sure (even though I got it on sale), but I try to get stuff that will be with me for the long haul as I am able (hence my little collection of Ginghers).  I was hoping this would be one of those workhorse things to add to my arsenal of sewing tools.

As it turns out, it was.  And then it wasn't.  It pooped out just shy of 2 years after I bought it.

Of course I was mid-project when it happened.  OF COURSE.  And my excitement to replace it was non-existent.  Up until it died, it was THE BEST.  Seriously, I loved that iron as much as a person can love . . . well . . . an iron.  But I needed a new one.  As any sewer knows, there is no sewing without ironing.  Sometimes it seems like 70% of sewing is, in fact, ironing.

So I was on the hunt immediately.  Having had what I assumed was the Holy Grail of irons, I didn't anticipate needing a new one for a very long time.  And I didn't hold onto my old one (not even sure what brand it was . . . I had purchased it in college sometime before I was a sewer and only used it occasionally so the fact that it was a cheap piece of crap didn't really bother me all that much) . . . what was the point now that I had an OLISO?!

Anyway, you can see how this put me in a bind.  I don't even own a travel iron so there was no way to finish my project.  While I usually take an obnoxiously long time to research all conceivable options before making any purchases over $20, I just didn't have that same luxury of time.  My maternity leave was going to be up soon, and I anticipated that the little time I had been actually able to carve out for myself in a week to sew was going to drop to around zero-ish as I readjusted back to work.  A decision needed to be made.  And fast.

So I turned to Pinterest first (yes . . . even before Google!) to see if someone brilliant had pinned an iron and labeled it "BEST IRON EVER AND IT'S NOT A MILLION DOLLARS".  Unfortunately, no one had.  And truthfully, I was gonna need to read at least some reviews on irons before purchasing.  Google turned up some interesting discussions on several quilting boards, I perused some blog posts here and there, checked out reviews on Amazon, Target, Bed Bath and Beyond, Walmart . . . and within 24 hours I figured out what I was going to get to try to replace my dead iron:

Black & Decker® Digital Advantage™ Iron


With one of the bazillion BB&B coupons I have on myself at any given time, I purchased the Black and Decker Digital Advantage 2030 iron.  She ain't pretty (I'll miss my golden girl), but she seemed to have most of the stuff going for her that I was looking for.  Sadly, a few of my favorite things about the Oliso are lost on the B&D, but what are you going to do?  As I've been using the Digital Advantage for about a week now, I've been thinking about doing a little Pro &Con list between the two.  In case anyone out there is in a quandary with their iron options, I'm thinking this is the kind of post I would have loved to have found.  Sound good?

Here's what I loved about the Oliso:
  1. The UpDown feature.  Seriously . . . I really and truly loved that I never had to turn the iron on its side.
  2. It heated up fast.
  3. The position of the buttons for steam and spray.  I'm right handed, and I use lots of steam, and the placement of that button worked great for me.
  4. LONG auto shutoff.  As in, it will stay on for a long time before it decides to go to sleep on you.  As a regular ironer of clothing and stuff, this may not matter to most people, but to sewers (and probably quilters the most) having an iron that stays on when you turn it on is a wonderful thing.  Those auto shutoff things are a nice safety feature (who hasn't worried that they left an iron on when they left the house at least once?), but it is seriously a pain in the butt to keep turning an iron back on and waiting for it to heat up when you are in the middle of piecing something together.   To "wake it up" after it's shut off all you need to do is touch the handle.  EASY.
  5. The sole plate never needed cleaning.  Like, ever.   I even bought some iron cleaner sheets from the fabric store when I got the Oliso brand new so that I would be sure to care for it properly, but I never even used one.  Somehow it never needed it even though I ironed a ton and used plenty of fusibles.
  6. No water spitting.  Well . . . except towards the end of its life there.  :P
  7. Pretty color.  :)  This was not my number one criteria, but it was a nice little bonus.
Here's what I DIDN'T love about the Oliso:
  1. Ridic expensive.  Seriously . . . extravagant.  The price fluctuates depending on where you're looking and what time of year it is.  I think I paid about $135 at the time I purchased it . . . with a coupon or by virtue of a sale (don't remember anymore).  Currently it's over $150 on Amazon and hanging around $200 at Joann.  None of those prices seem reasonable to me for an iron that's not going to last for a L O N G time.  If I had $200 to spend on sewing stuff, I'd rather get a mound of gorgeous fabric.
  2. Would have liked it to hold a bit more water (not that it doesn't hold much, but I use a lot of steam so more is better).  :)
  3. That it died before I had owned it for 2 years.  Long enough to not have warranty coverage, but not long enough to make me feel good about how much money I spent on it.
Here's what I'm digging about my new B&D Digital Advantage: 
  1. The price was right.  With my coupon it was right around $30.
  2.  Digital display makes choosing the right setting for your fabric completely brainless.
  3. Gives you a little ding when it's done heating up.  Which it does pretty darn fast. 
  4. Concentrated steam bursts.  You can set it up to constantly steam or just to steam when you choose to hit the button.  Dandy.
  5. Not that I do this often (ok, I never have because I have never had a steamer), but the B&D does have the option of vertical steaming in case I ever get the inclination to steam my curtains or something.
  6. Larger water reservoir.  Both of these irons came with little cups with a pour spout to assist in filling the iron without spilling.  The Oliso's capacity was 2 cupfuls.  The B&D can hold 3.
  7. No water spitting.  Not yet anyway.
Here's what I'm less excited about with the B&D:
  1. It's been a week and the sole plate already looks like it needs to be cleaned.  It's still gliding well and stuff, but it just doesn't look clean to me.
  2. No UpDown feature.  To be fair, no iron but the Oliso does this, so it really is nobigdeal . . . I just REALLY LIKE that feature.
  3. Shorter auto shutoff function.  I think it's about 10 minutes, but to me while I'm sewing it feels like it's even more frequent than that.  The Oliso totally spoiled me on this point.
  4. The steam and spray buttons are switched from how they are on the Oliso . . . I'm getting used to it, but it is a little weird to iron with my hand on the button furthest to the right so I can steam stuff.
  5. Not pretty or special to look at.  I mean, who cares, but it would be nice.
All in all, I'm feeling pretty good about my purchase.  Of course, it's only been a week so I can't attest to its longevity.  I did work out the math, however, and calculate that with how much I paid for the Oliso it would be about the equivalent of renting the iron every month for about $5 or $6 a month for the last 23 months.  If the B&D only lasts 5 or 6 months, I'll be no worse off in that respect.

Or course . . . I'm hoping it will last much longer than that.  Stay tuned.

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