‘Bad Weather’ Days

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Happy Wednesday! Across many parts of the United States, we are being hit by bad weather towards the end of our winter. Trees had begun blooming, grass growing, and in rolls the storm. Suddenly you are stuck at home, with or without power, wondering what to do with your day off…

As long as I am warm and there is power, I try not to worry too much. Relaxing on my favorite chair with a book or movie and drinking some coffee or cocoa is a great day for me. Some people like to keep busy, though. This may be the perfect time to bring out some crafts or games you’ve been waiting to try.

  • If you like to crochet, this fun PDF pattern of an Octopus Scarf looks great!
  • If you like knitting, maybe some fingerless gloves!
  • If it look like there might be power issues, a candlemaking project might be a good one. Check here for a recipe!
  • Some people love to cook, especially a one pot stew or recipe. I’ve found some great ones on Epicurious, or you might open up one of your cookbooks- I have several from family members.

Whether it’s a project or a lazy day, stay warm and safe this week!

 


DIY Vinyl Art for Bags & Purses

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I’m not a big purse person, never have been, and I don’t care to have decorated ones as a result. The idea of customizing one though? Sign me up!

This idea comes from the folks at StudioDIY, and is all about making a custom donut image for your round purse, but if they’re not your thing, I don’t see why you can’t apply these methods there to any purse/bag you like! You’ll want to visit the DIY page to make sure you understand the process to tweak it to your needs, but here’s the quick run down of supplies required for this project.

It involves lots of spray adhesive to get everything together, so you’ll want to make sure you’re in a well ventilated space or outdoors so fumes don’t become over powering. I’m not sure if this would work on fabric, but I think it would since it’s mostly the adhesive keeping things in place. So if you’ll excuse me, I have a blank to tote to customize.


DIY Picnic Blanket

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While you wouldn’t know it in some parts, Spring is almost upon us and I for one can’t wait to say goodbye to cold winter weather. In celebration of that, I thought I’d share this project for making your own Picnic blanket so it can be enjoyed as early as possible. 😀 For this project you will need:

  • 1 vinyl or waterproof tablecloth
  • 1 cotton tablecloth of matching size (48×60 is a common one)
  • 3 yards of twill ribbon (cut in half.
  • thread to match your tablecloth
  • Sewing Machine
  • Sewing Pins

You’ll want a nice flat area you can lay booth table cloths out on so you can pin the edges together. While doing this, take the two ribbon strips and fold them in half. Then, place them 1/3 and 2/3 of the way on the short end between the two cloths with the middle folded section on the inside. Make sure to pin them in place as you’ll be using these to tie the blanket closed.

 

With your blanket pinned, simply sew around the edges to bring everything together. When sewing over the ribbon section, be sure to back-stitch/reverse over them to make them more secure. You’ll be pulling on this point when you tie it closed so you want it to be reinforced. Once it’s all sewn up you’re done! Roll it up and place it in your car to be ready for your first spring picnic. 😀


Making Your Own Luck

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Happy Sunday, all!

This coming week includes a very special day of the year for me – St. Patrick’s Day! I have a rather large affinity for my Irish heritage, always having been obsessed with stories and images of the island, it’s music, and the knot work that is often incorporated into Irish art. One of the most prevalent symbols of the particular day, though, has been the shamrock. This humble little plant, found in grassy knolls across the world is a symbol of pride and tradition to those of Irish origin and descent. It’s considered lucky to find a four-leafed clover but the three-leafed shamrock (origin of the word in Irish Gaelic simply means “little clover”) is also a source of luck, inspiration, and spirit, especially on St. Patrick’s Day. It’s usually a bit too cold yet here in the Midwest to find a field of clover so we’ve been forced to make symbols of our own. I’ve found some great ideas all over the web for “greening up” the place!

First up is for those with a rather large stash of washi tape:

If this inspires you to start a washi tape stash, I am so sorry.

Or how about something for that big tin of buttons (or maybe raid grandma’s?):

Everyone still plays the cookies or buttons in the tin game, right?

Do you perhaps have some Scrabble tiles from other projects? Then this may be the project for you:

Or maybe just a game of Scrabble that happens to be missing some pieces?

I’m a rather large fan of this burlap and felt wreath, especially for the little rainbow that’s included:

Those super cute shamrocks could be used for other things as well.

Lastly, to adorn yourself in a bit of greenery, there is always a bit of crochet to be had:

Cute and easy with a little safety pin on the back!

I wish you luck and light this week and all the rest of the year. We’ll see you next week wherein I’ll start digging up some spring inspired projects!

Stay crafty!

~Laura


Let’s learn about Needles – Types of Needles

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Last week I talked about the anatomy of the needle.  Today we are going to look at the different types of needles and what you use them for.  All of this information is courtesy of Schmetz and the Schmetz website.

SCHMETZ COLOR CODE CHART

Did you know that SCHMETZ is color coding their home sewing needles (needle system 130/705 H)? Most, but not all, household needles now have two bands of color. The top color band indicates needle type and the lower color band indicates needle size. Due to special features, SCHMETZ Universal, Hemstitch, Double Eye, and Quick Threading needles only have one color band to identify needle size.

SCHMETZ_Color_Code_ChartLG

 

needle_eye_comparison-Revised-011614

Denim/Jeans Needle — Color Code: Blue Feature: Modified medium ball point and reinforced blade. Fabric Use: Denim and similar fabrics. Advanced point design is a SCHMETZ exclusive. For penetrating extra thick woven fabrics, denims, or quilts with minimum needle deflection, reduced risk of needle breakage and skipped stitches.

Embroidery Needle — Color Code: Red Feature: Light ball point, wide eye and groove. Fabric Use: Use with rayon, polyester and other specialty embroidery threads. The special scarf, widened groove and enlarged eye protect fragile threads and guard against excess friction allowing trouble-free embroidery and decorative stitching

Jersey / Ball Point Needle — Color Code: Orange Feature: Medium ball point. Fabric Use: Knits and some stretch fabrics. Made especially for sewing on knits. The medium ball point does not damage or break knit fibers.

Leather Needle — Color Code: Brown Feature: Cutting point. Fabric Use: Leather, artificial leather, heavy non-woven synthetics. Do not use on knit or woven fabrics.

Metallic Needle — Color Code: Pink Feature: Elongated eye. Fabric Use: Metallic and other specialty threads. A “must have” for sewing with sensitive metallic threads. The elongated eye prevents shredding and breaking of metallic threads.

Microtex/Sharp Needle — Color Code: Purple Feature: Very slim acute point. Fabric Use: Micro fibers, polyester, silk, foils, artificial leather, coated materials. Very thin acute point creates beautiful topstitching and perfectly straight stitches for quilt piecing when precision is paramount.

Quilting Needle — Color Code: Green Feature: Special taper to the slightly rounded point. Fabric Use: Made especially for piecing and machine quilting. The special tapered design allows easier fabric penetration and helps eliminate skipped stitches.

Stretch Needle — Color Code: Yellow Feature: Medium ball point, special eye and scarf. Fabric Use: Elastic materials and highly elastic knitwear. The medium ball point, specially designed eye and scarf prevent skipped stitches.

Topstitch Needle — Color Code: Lt. Green Feature: Extra long eye. Fabric Use: Topstitch, heavy, multiple or poor quality threads. Achieve perfectly straight stitch lines and even stitches when using a straight stitch plate.

Universal Needle — Color Code: None Feature: Slightly rounded point. Fabric Use: Numerous – woven and knits. A great general purpose needle.

So what do those needle sizes mean and how do you pick the right one?  I will tell you next week!

Would you like to save and carry any of this information about needles?  Schmetz has their own app!  It has all of the information we have shared here plus more.  Download it from the Apple App Store or Google Play.

-Toni


Barn Quilts

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At the London Friendship Quilt Guild yesterday Gardiner’s Gate spoke to us about the history of Barn Quilts and how they make them.  I am sad to say I had never heard of a Barn Quilt until last night so I want to share their history with you.

Craftsy gives us a great explanation.

A BARN QUILT IS A LARGE PIECE OF WOOD THAT IS PAINTED TO LOOK LIKE A QUILT BLOCK.

Even though the name implies that an entire quilt is painted onto the wood, it generally is only a single quilt block. The size of the squares vary, but usually, they measure 8 feet. After they are painted, these blocks are hung on the exterior of a barn, house, garage or other building.

The majority of barn quilts are comprised of simple geometric shapes, like squares, rectangles and triangles. This makes them easier to create. They usually are painted in solid colors, though every now and then, you’ll come across one that has been painted to look like printed fabric. The simplicity in shape and the vibrancy of solid colors make these blocks easily seen from afar. If they are too complicated, the details can be lost.

THE EARLIEST VERSIONS OF BARN QUILTS HAVE BEEN AROUND FOR HUNDREDS OF YEARS.

Just as fabric quilts have their own unique history, so do barn quilts. While barns were not painted back in the day, they were decorated with different types of folk art. This included quilt blocks once paint was readily available and affordable. People chose certain blocks to reflect particular meanings.

In the early 2000s, barn quilts start showing up again, and these are the ones we are used to seeing today. This is also when the first quilt trail began, originating in Ohio.

A quilt trail consists of many barn quilts that are mapped together and visited. Those following along the trail receive a map with all of the locations marked, and viewers drive through the countryside to see all of the blocks. Today there are quilt trails all over the United States and Canada. A wide variety of people have created them, including quilt guilds, schools, churches, and 4-H clubs.

Want to find a quilt trail?

Barn Quilt Info has a map of all of the quilt trails in the United States.  Ontario Barn Quilt trails have a map of all of the quilt trails in Canada.

Want to make a Barn Quilt of your own?

Wikihow

An Oregon Cottage

The Quilt Ladies

If you make a barn quilt of your own, share it with us!  Now to convince my family to help me make one for our home.

-Toni


Being a Woman in Business

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Hello Thursday Crafthackers!

Image courtesy of Fat in the City.

Seeing as how yesterday was International Women’s Day, I thought I might write today a little bit about being a woman in the crafting small business scene.  Where there are both men and women who read this blog, I would like to address some of the things that I’ve experienced as a woman running a making business in an arena that is difficult and not always as welcoming as we might like. To be clear, this is not an article that is going to vilify men, as… well. That’s not fair, now is it? It does, however, address some of the differences and some of the experiences that I’ve had and how I’ve handled them.

Image courtesy of History.com

First, you need to be proud of who you are and what you are doing. Whether you’re crafting something for personal enjoyment, or for your own small (or large) business venture, you need to know inside that this is who you are and what you love. Many people criticize what they think to be risky, or something that they don’t understand, and this can come from many directions and often comes from good intentions. It can come from potential customers, acquaintances, friends or family.  I have experienced this a number of times, and have been in the position where my brother has done work as an independent contractor without receiving the kind of negative feedback I’ve received from concerned parties on multiple occasions. This made me wonder how much of it was related to me being a woman and being seen as vulnerable, lacking in business acumen, forethought or if it was just the type of entrepreneurship that was being perused – something in the legal field verses something that is hand made.

I figured it was probably a combination of things, and that most of these comments were being given (or withheld) were done so without thought of what was actually being said. It’s times like this, where you can see similar situations being handled differently that it is the most important to be sure of who you are and what you’re trying to achieve. All business ventures where you are doing something on your own are risky, and you might get more feedback from unexpected sources than you’re anticipating. Remember to fall back on the people who do support you and help to build you up rather than tear you down. Nothing great was achieved by sitting on the sidelines. This is your journey, and the choices you make should be yours, not someone else’s.

 

I have experienced so much support within the small makers business community that it is so heartening, and I’m very lucky for it. Though, as I’m sure many of you have experienced, there are times when you might have a potential client or someone who is perusing your wares, asking you questions about what you do. I have never had a problem with these questions as I ask the same of other businesses. What does start to get irritating is when your expertise is being scrutinized by someone who does not have the experience to back up their scrutiny. I have encountered this multiple times in multiple different arenas, whether it be in regards to what I’m making – which is a specialty skill – or aspects of the business that as a business owner you need to be familiar with such as the standards and laws governing employment and taxes.

This can be especially frustrating when the person who is questioning you is doing so only to find fault in your education, experience or knowledge. Let’s be honest, none of us is 100% knowledgeable about every subject, but you cannot assume that if someone is making adorable plushies, or fabulous jewelry that they are not also a sharp businessperson who knows the finer points of the things involved in running their business. I have experienced this a number of times, and when the intention is to take you down a peg or two, it becomes very evident as you’re listening that this is the end goal. Not to fear, though. Come back to what I wrote way back up at the beginning. Know yourself and your product. It can be frustrating when it feels like someone is interrogating you, but lashing out is giving them what they are looking for, and will really only make you feel worse.  Just be aware of who is around you and how much time they’re taking up. You are well within the scope of politeness to hand them a business card and let them know you’re happy to answer any other questions they have but need to talk with some of the other customers that are waiting.

Happy International Women’s Day. I hope that for all you ladies doing your thing, this lets you know


DIY Simple Paper Cup Gift Box

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Gift wrapping can be hard. Like, really hard. Have something weirdly shaped or super small? You’ll be better off just using a gift bag most of the time. While I don’t have the perfect solution to large weird shapes this time, I have a pretty simple and cheap DIY for making one out of a paper cup.

Made by the folks at fabartdiy, this simple image guide shows how to turn any 10oz or large paper cup into a cute and simple gift box. The supplies you will need are:

  • Scissors
  • Paper Cup 10oz or larger
  • Sticker for sealing
  • Stickers/markers for decorations (optional)

You start by cutting the top rim off the cup (typically this is white). Then make 8 equal length vertical cuts around the top. Once that’s done simply fold the tabs in, making sure to go clockwise around as you do with each tab overlapping on the right side. Push them all down and seal with a sticker. Done! ^_^  Use them for wrapping gifts to even for making little grab bags for your shows  if you have small items like stickers or charms.


The Solar System on your Finger(s)

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Inna Monastyrna of Etsy shop jamincjewelry has created a pretty cool set for all you space enthusiasts out there.

They have the full 9 planets as a stackable ring set that you can wear all on one finger or dispersed about your hand. Made from sterling silver and a combination of glass and stone beads, this set is pretty beautiful. The Jupiter one is especially on point with it’s coloring, but I also love that Pluto got love and was included in the set. Forever in my heart you will always be a planet.

It’s sold out right now, but you should definitely check out their shop for some more excellent jewelry. 😀


A Bit of Spring Cleaning

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Happy Sunday, all!

The up and down weather has continued here but the warm temps have definitely outweighed the cold ones! As it stays brighter longer and the breeze is full of the smell of growing things, my mind inevitably turns to…cleaning! Purging! Out with the old! Seriously, I’ve been putting some real effort into using/recycling/pitching many of those things that have been cluttering up my space. What I’ve found should be no surprise as I am a self confessed fabric and yarn hoarder but I’ve also found a lot of scraps. I *know* I’ll use them but the question is when? Right now, I say! Easter/May Day/Mother’s Day and other celebrations are afoot and what better way to bust some scraps than to make things, especially useful things like this earbud pouch:

This looks like the perfect way to keep them untangled and easy to find.

You could definitely experiment with different pattern and zipper combinations. Along with that pouch, I am always fighting with my various device charging cords so you could also use scraps to make a cord keeper:

Keeping those cords organized in a stylish way!

Now we don’t have to JUST make useful things, there are plenty of pretty projects to use up those fabulous colorful or fancy scraps like this bracelet:

Which could include more than one fabric type for more texture.

Or these bobby pins:

Imagine what I could do with all of my character fabric!

Or even these fabric flowers:

They will last a lot longer than their regular counterparts and you could put some potpourri in the planter so that they still smell lovely.

Now doesn’t that feel good? Even if I didn’t offer something you may want to try, I assure you that there are dozens of other scrap project lists out there. We’d love to see some of yours, too! I’m off to sort through another mountain of stash fabric in the meantime.

Stay crafty!

~Laura