Keeping Those Resolutions

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happynewyear

Happy Sunday and a very happy new year to you all! Last year definitely had it’s ups and downs but I do hope that your own ups outnumbered the downs. I, like a good majority of people, tend to make some kind of new year resolution that I totally intend to keep and then end up getting sidetracked/give up on/push until next year for any number of reasons. The biggest roadblock to keeping mine usually stems from one of my greatest aspirations and biggest adversaries: organization. I love the idea of organization but execution always seems to fall short of my expectations. Like I am just going to magically become this domestic organization goddess that knows exactly what I am doing with my life because I finally got all of my yarn out of the plastic bins overtaking the office and into cube baskets on shelves.

Uh huh, sure. I've heard that one before.

Uh huh, sure. I’ve heard that one before.

Let’s be honest here, one of the big reasons I am obsessed with Pinterest is because it gives me all of these innovative ideas for de-cluttering my home by going to the dollar store/covering this cardboard box in washi tape/building new storage out of toilet paper tubes but I can count on one hand the number of these solutions I’ve actually attempted. Organization is also my foe in other parts of my life…I adore planners. Back when I was a wee student and discovered the themed student planners, part of my prep for the year was always picking out just the right one. I very much enjoyed filling out assignments, important dates, and social events. I also love the idea of journals, as my untouched but pretty journal collection can attest to but I never seem to be able to keep up with it. Add into that my accomplishments as a list maker and you have my ultimate organization conundrum. Is there something that exists that can help me keep better track of everything while still letting me following my meandering route and also act as a creative outlet? Turns out there is.

bulletjournalven

Enter, the bullet journal. One of my very good friends (who may be picking up some blogging duties here – yay!) introduced me to this concept at the end of last year and I had yet to investigate it thoroughly. WARNING: a search may suck hours of your life away if you are not prepared for the black hole that is “bullet journal ideas”, not that I know from experience or anything. So what is a bullet journal, exactly? Well, this world being what it is, of course someone actually gave the concept a title and bought the domain name so you can go to the official Bullet Journal Website for a description or this article from Buzzfeed gives a pretty good background but I think I truly got interested because of this article on The Lazy Genius Collective. Not only do they keep it real, they are wonderfully witty as they go about describing what the basic pieces *usually* consist of.

This is cute and all but I have waaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too many books on both of those lists to ever set it up this way.

This is cute and all but I have waaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too many books on both of those lists to ever set it up this way.

The important point that I’ve gotten from the articles is that this is not something you should feel pressured to keep precisely organized. All of the pieces are your pieces and they should be done in a way most effective to YOU. It is part planner, part to-do list, part diary, and part whatever else you need. It definitely does not need to be the most beautiful thing you have ever produced and I would caution you to not be intimidated by all of the cute doodles or calligraphy level entries you may find in an initial search. One of the biggest parts of making this useful, however, is the index page. This is your guide to your bullet journal that will tell you where to find all of those different thoughts, lists, and dates. Along with “signifiers” which are like your own secret code of symbols for giving quick look assignments to tasks or notes, this truly seems like something that I would not only keep up with but may also enjoy. If anything I have described above resonates with you at all, I do highly recommend checking out this lovely madness I am about to plunge headlong into. On that note, we have MAGfest coming up this week and I have to make my packing list! Have a fantastic week, all!

Stay crafty!

~Laura

 


Redesigning my Studio

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You may or may not remember the Spring Clean your Studio Blog Hop Cheryl Sleboda hosted in April.  I participated on my Quiltoni blog and turned by studio from this:

before-2

before-bookcase

To this:

after-bookcase

after-1

after-3

I was pretty happy with it, but it still felt cramped and like I didn’t have any room to move around.  While I was in Houston for Quilt Market I met the amazing people at at Arrow Sewing Cabinets.  I fell in love instantly with their style of furniture and wanted them.  They helped me measure and pick out what I and needed.

I decided to get their Olivia in Blue as well as some of the other great cabinets they sell.

blue-olivia-green-elna-600sq-456x456

I picked everything up last week.  I just need to paint the walls, rearrange, and I will have a new studio!  If you would like to follow my progress, make sure you keep an eye on my Quiltoni blog on Wednesdays.

-Toni

 


DIY Plastic Bag Dispenser

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There are a few universal truths no matter how you were raised, and one of those seems to be the hoarding of plastic bags. I do, my parents did it, and all of my friends/family seem to do it. I suppose it’s like some form of recycling but much like old game secrets before the internet, it’s just one of those things that everyone decided to do one day. The only troublesome thing about this impulse is how to store them. I’ve crocheted my own holder and used plastic ones before as well, but I’m really loving this new DIY on how to make your own dispenser for storing those shopping bags.

Bag Dispenser

Presented by Buzzfeed of all people, all you need to make this dispenser is a stash of plastic bags and an empty cleaning wipe container. They decorated theirs with paint swatch sample cards, but it’s not needed. The secret is all in how you roll the bags so that as you pull one out, the next is ready to come up right afterwards. The video here lays it all out very nicely and simply so that in just a few minutes your hoarded stash of bags can be nice and contained as well. 🙂


Con Survival Part 3: Stuffing the Con Bag

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Hello Sunday readers!

I hope you are ready for the fun part of organizing your con bag – stuffing it! Let’s get realistic here…remember the questions you asked yourself last week? It honestly boils down to one very important question: how much are you willing to carry around for what may be a 12-14 hour day?

For any given convention, I will generally have the following items in my bag:

  1. Zipper pouch containing writing utensils, a small pad of paper, lip balm, individually wrapped bandages, feminine hygiene items, and gum
  2. Secondary wristlet/zipper pouch containing various money/credit cards and business cards
  3. Small umbrella
  4. Dice bag full of dice
  5. Charging cords
  6. Battery pack/power bank
  7. Handheld gaming system
  8. Small bottle of water
  9. Hand sanitizer
  10. Small container of over the counter meds (including vitamin supplements)
  11. Packets of nuts, dried fruits, fruit pouches, and protein bars

So what kind of zipper pouch are we talking here? You could go with old reliable and snag a good pencil pouch at the dollar store. But if you’d like something a little more personalized, how about crafting something really quick? I enjoyed this tutorial from Melly Sews because it is spelled out in writing in addition to the video! These little projects are great to get over a fear of sewing in zippers!

The best part is picking the fabric!

The best part is picking the fabric!

Ok, so let’s say that you don’t have a working sewing machine or maybe you don’t have time to sew something while still getting your awesome cosplay done on time. That’s where some of the lovely vendors we’ve seen before here on Craft Hackers come in. I love the Voulala bags from Top Notch by Design:

Perfect for all of your storage needs, complete with tentacles!

Perfect for all of your storage needs, complete with tentacles!

They have that neat little strap that can either go on your wrist, through a belt loop, through a D-ring on a bigger bag, or anywhere you need, really! She has quite the selection of smaller bags for the same sort of purpose as well. If nothing there suits your style or you’d just like something smaller, dice bags are not just for holding dice, if you know what I mean. Seriously! A good drawstring pouch can double as a wallet or wristlet. It just so happens that our fearless leader, Toni, is a purveyor of fine drawstring bags:

And they come in so many patterns, you can have a different one for every occasion!

And they come in so many patterns, you can have a different one for every occasion!

Ok, so besides more pouch-like organizers in your bag, what else can help keep everything from either ending up on the bottom of your bag or tangling horribly? I would highly recommend using Velcro straps or twist ties to keep all of your cords organized. For little things like your over the counter meds or pins and such for cosplay repair, the one a day pill boxes are also great for keeping things visible but not all mixed up. The packets of food tend to be placed into one big plastic bag, also for easy access and less of a likelihood of spills or crumbs. I have found some pretty cool hand sanitizer accessories that clip onto the outside of my pack for easy access. I will say that the most important part of packing your con bag is making sure you are comfortable with the bag itself. More pockets may mean more stash spots but that may also lead to overstuffing it which also leads to back and shoulder pain. You definitely don’t want to have 3 more days left of a convention and be in massive pain because you overpacked. Next week, appropriately enough, I will be at Wizard World Chicago so I think we will wrap up our Con Survival series with a quick primer on convention etiquette. See you then!

~Laura

 


Finding the Balance Part 1

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Good morning, Thursday Crafthackers!

I’m going to bring you something a little different, and you’ll be seeing a little more of these types of posts coming over the next number of months. Many of us want our job to be something we love, and those of us that are crafty often think it is a brilliant idea to turn our hobby into a business. It can be a great idea! But, I find that when it comes to business, especially making a business out of a hobby or something that you love, finding that balance between work and life, between complete immersion and sanity is a very difficult thing.

 

This may not be quite a DIY, but a lot of people don’t realize how important it is to take care of yourself when you’re looking at running your own business. As soon as you become serious, it can be so easy to lose yourself in the thing that you’re doing. It’s easy to put in the hours because you love it, easy to put all your energy into it because it’s your baby. Is that the right thing to do, though?

I will share some of the things that I’ve learned, and also the things that I had to come to terms with, as I post these articles. I found that working from home on my own business was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. When I went to an appointment with my doctor, she commented on how nice it must be to work from home, how stress free and how you can eat healthy and clean the house whenever I have time. I looked at her and knew that she could never understand the struggle of finding the work life balance as an at home entrepreneur.

 

One of the most important things in finding this balance is knowing yourself. Really knowing yourself. Are you a great solo worker, or do you like to work in a team? Even if you’re great at working on your own, do you like to have people around? I learned the hard way, myself, that I need people around me on a regular basis. I like people, I like to be social, I like to have the movement of others around me, even if I’m doing a solo project. I had to make a difficult decision, when I learned that I wasn’t as happy as I thought I would be, working from home to create my dream.

I needed to be productive and interacting with the public. So I got a part time job working in a retail environment. It took a little while to understand that I wasn’t giving up on my dream by taking this other job. It sure did take some time away from my business, and that’s a hard thing to get used to. After working for a couple of months I realized I made the right decision. I was happier, I was making friends, and I found that my at home work time was more productive and energy filled. I think it’s super important to take an extremely close look at how you work best, and find a compromise that works for you. I think it’s important to note that your mental well being will translate to the well being of your business, and you need to make sure that you’re taking care of all parts of yourself.

 

Do you have the discipline to make a schedule, to make deadlines and stick to them? Working from home can make it easy to shrug a job off and to procrastinate. To, say, leave your work for an hour and then come back to it. To do a chore or just take a couple hours for yourself. The beauty of working from home is that you can do these things, but sometimes it can be easy to forget – you’re working, and while doing the odd chore to give yourself a break isn’t a bad thing, it can be a slippery slope to pushing back the work you need to do because… well… let’s be honest. It’s work.

 

So how do you balance yourself at home? There’s no simple answer, and truth be told, it is no easy task.  One of the best ways I’ve found is to set a schedule for yourself, including breaks and lunches, to keep yourself on the right track. Outside of your scheduled hours is when you can do some of the household upkeep or taking time for yourself. Unless you know when you are working and what your expectations are of yourself, then how can you perform in the way that you would like? Just like a job outside the home, you need to know what is expected to be able to do it. Working without direction is one of the hardest things to do, and there’s no reason for it.

To flip the coin to the other side… how do you know when you’re working too much? Or when you’re throwing yourself so hard at the business that other things that were once extremely important to you, just don’t seem to matter so much? The flip side of setting your own hours can mean that you don’t have a limit – that you just keep working until you can’t work anymore. If I’m going to be honest with you, readers, I have struggled with both these problems, and both of them result in me feeling the scales of my priorities being tipped too far in one direction or another.

When you throw your everything into your work, it can be easy to lose sight of family, relationships and friendships. It can become easy to say that you just don’t have time for these things, or that your work matters more. My question to you becomes this: Would you say that if someone else were writing your paycheques?  That being said, running your business is a full time job that often requires overtime. But it shouldn’t consume you. Schedule your time off, make time for the family and friends to help you to relax.

I hope that you found some of my revelations helpful to your own well beings, and if you were thinking of going into your crafting business more full time, that you will know to look at these things in your life and try to figure out how to manage yourself to make your life about living, rather than just living to work. I have several other insights which I’ve learned through my years running my own business, and I still continue to learn things constantly. I have to say though, I wish I had someone who had sat me down and had a conversation with me about how emotionally and mentally hard being a business owner can be. That being said, if you can manage yourself well enough, it is one of the most rewarding experiences that you can have.

 

Happy crafting!

~Megan

 


DIY Necklace Hanger

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Hey Thursday readers!

 

I come bearing a swift tutorial for you that looks hugely impressive for less effort than you might think.  If you’re like me and have  lots of different necklaces, even if they’re organized in a jewelry box, they get tangled. No more, I say, no more. This wee tutorial will help you to make a hanger that is super cool and super easy, brought to you by the Visibly Moved tutorial here.

You just need piece of wood as a base, and for this you should be creative. The blogger used driftwood, which looks super cool, but you can paint, stain, carve, or cover with a decorative paper/fabric any piece of wood that you can find. Whatever your creative spark inspires you with.  Driftwood is easy, however, and a super cool display piece.

If you like, you can order driftwood here.

You will also need to find some knobs. They could be all the same, they could be all different. You can get brand new ones at your local hardware store, or if you like antiquing, you may be able to find a store that has a mismatched collection. Choose 4 or 5 that you think would look good on your decor.

Next, measure where you would like your knobs to be on your anchor wood, and drill holes for the knobs to be fit inside. If you’d like you can use glue to secure them inside without too much messing with tools, since they’re not going to be holding jackets or other things to pull them down.

Lastly, you will need to decide how to put this on your wall. You can just screw through the wood to the wall or you can buy some picture hanging hardware to put on the back. It’s your choice. And voila! A beautiful necklace holder that one doesn’t have to be ashamed of.

 

Happy crafting!

~Megan


Displaying and storing your fabric

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I posted my spring clean for #springcleanyourstudio on Wednesday.  The biggest question I received was “how do you display your fabric like that?”

After Bookcase

There are many ways you can choose to store your fabric:

  • Plastic storage totes or drawers
  • Collapsible Bins on storage shelving
  • Folded neatly on shelves
  • Boarded onto shelves

You need to take a few things into consideration when storing your fabric:

  • Will it be in direct sunlight?
  • Do I need to easily see what I have?
  • Do I organize by color, pattern, project, fabric line, or other method?

My space is in the basement out of direct sunlight and I need to quickly see every fabric I have.  So this led me to boarding it.  There are a few methods to boarding it including do it yourself with comic boards, cardboard, etc.  You can also purchase specially designed boards meant to wrap your fabric like Fabric Organizers or Polar Notions.  I have tried all of these methods for boarding my fabric and like the Polar Notions the best.

The problems I had with all other methods was the sliding of fabric down from the board or the board itself folding under the weight of the fabric.  Polar Notions has solved both of those problems.  The boards are strong and sturdy, holding the weight of all of my fabric.  They also have metal clips that when you fold the end of the bolt in and clip it, solves the problem of slippage.  It also allows the bolts to be put into and removed from the bookcase with greater ease without all of the loose fabric getting in the way.

How do I organize my fabric on the shelves?  I separate the high quality from the low quality fabric and then color code it.  It is easy for me to find and grab exactly what I need when I need it.  How do you organize your fabrics?  Share with us!

-Toni


Artist Feature: Dog Might Games, now with 50% more IRL adventure!

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We live a world where plastic rules, where products are not expected to last for more than 6 months, and where there is very little option, minus the use of a sharpie, to make something our own.  This is why we’re here, though!  We craft because we want to express ourselves and because we want quality, we want the items in our lives to truly mean something.

This is exactly where Dog Might Games stands.  You may remember a feature I wrote for them a while back (seen here) where I reviewed their work and artistry, and talked about their unique perspective.  Recently this lumberjack/canine company set up a Kickstarter for their most recent creation: The Dragon Sheath.

   

These pieces are meant to house your various tabletop RPG items, keeping them secure and neat, which is much like the box itself!

The obvious: These are really well made.  This is like the blackbox of a dice plane; the magnets holding it closed are incredibly strong but have been placed in a way that makes for easy angle opening.

I actually took my dragon sheath to a tabletop game store here in Manhattan and showed it to the employee to ask him what he thought.  I could tell he was ready to be underwhelmed, but as he held it, opened it, and looked it over, he let out a very surprised “This is actually really nice.. REALLY nice.  I’ve never seen anything like it.  This store had a so many items I could barely walk through it, and yet they did not have anything like this.


The wood is beautiful and sturdy and the spaces cut out within are perfectly sized for your dice, coins, figures, whatever you want because you get to choose!  You also get to choose the wood and the design on both sides.  It’s almost as if these guys actually want to give you what you want by giving you custom-made pieces…wait…

I think even Michael Bay himself would have a hard time wanting to blow this thing up.  He’d do it, but he’d shed a tear.

I love the variety that is offered with this new piece: from designs to wood choice, to customized interior chambers, it is all here.  Whether you’re a seasoned D&D’er, or just looking to break into IRL RPG, these dice sheaths are a beautiful and functional addition to your tabletop munitions.

WebsiteKickstarter

– Shalyn


Paper Towel Tricks

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Household Hacker has become a pretty well known youtuber for informatively amusing videos that everyday crafty people can watch for ideas on new uses for seemingly mundane objects. I got a kick out of their new one all about paper towels and even some new ideas for how I can improve my own paper towel usage. Especially making my own cleaning wipes. 😀

~Nicole


Yarn Stash Part 2

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So yesterday I went on about keeping track of your stash on your phone since that’s my preferred method, but what if you don’t have a smart phone? Well, if you have an internet connection, then there are still options out there for you. 🙂

While their mobile app may not work for ios devices, their website still offers a great way to keep a digital catalog of all your yarn. It lets you sort by color, weight, fiber, amount, and most importantly to me; shows which yarns you’ve used up and are out of! Ravelry is a great community for yarn workers as well so you can also store the pattern you are using or even mark your yarn as up for sale/trade if it’s something you won’t use but can no longer return. Every time a user enters a new yarn it gets added to their database for everyone to reference so it’s really quite an extensive collection. The only downside to all this being…what if you cannot access it?

 

Whether you just want a physical back up or prefer to keep record in a physical way, Look at what I made has you covered with her great yarn binder DIY. Simply head on over to the posting here where she has created a beautiful template for free use that allows you to attach a bit of your yarn to the page (she laminated hers, but you don’t have to if you use thick paper) so that you can easily see, compare, and feel what yarns you have along with the record of their color/brand/dye lot. There are even open sections for you to add a bit of the label on to the page itself!

Never wonder what those washing instructions were again! XD As long as your goal is to organize and take control of your yarn mess stash then there’s really no wrong way to go about it. Hopefully these tools will help those who have been feeling a bit overwhelmed by the prospect though. 🙂

~Nicole