Polymer Clay Tools

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Happy Wednesday! This is Kim, with Fantastical Menagerie. I wanted to share some of the resources I use to find tools to work with my polymer clay. A lot of us start with the basic tools that can be found at most craft stores such as Michaels or Hobby Lobby. Sometimes you need a more specific tool than what can be found there. In my years of working with clay, I have found some great alternatives for sculpting tools and texture tools.

AmCreatures on Etsy has some nice hand designed tools. They are based in Canada. Their tools are mostly directed at sculpting dolls and faces for puppets, but work well for polymer clay. Some are for sculpting scales, eyes, and tiny detail work. Their prices are very reasonable for custom tools.

If you find that kneading clay fills you with dread, this next tool has great reviews, is simple to use, and does it in seconds. Its called the NeverKnead. Its an expensive investment, but works based on pressure. Instead of spending a great deal of time and pain with clay, try this!

If you need sharper straight blades for your clay, especially for cutting canes, Creative Canes Etsy shop sells tissue blades, which are medical grade and extremely sharp. Flexible enough for cutting curved shapes as well. The shop also offers different polymer clay finished cane projects.

Pottery114U sells pottery clay stamps that help with imprinting texture into your polymer clay. They are inexpensive, durable, and versatile.

When searching on your own, include searches for cake decorating, pottery, and other crafts, since tools may work for other mediums.

 


That’s the Point

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Happy Sunday, all!

Last week I took us to the wonderful world of biscornu and it got me thinking about other tools of the trade that can also be fun or beautiful. The first necessary tool that comes to mind besides the needle/thread itself is scissors! I have a wide variety of scissors that all have different duties but for a biscornu, I’d more than likely be using my embroidery scissors. For years, I had the utilitarian plastic handled ones that my mother had previously used until I found my rainbow stork pair:

They look something like this!

They were so pretty and shiny that I had to have them! The stork tends to be the most widely used and popular design but I have found quite a few more than I wouldn’t mind owning. These mermaid shaped ones were definitely the first fun ones to pop up in my search:

Perfect for doing some seaside stitching.

I was also intrigued by these butterfly shaped scissors:

Perhaps for a local park or garden-side stitching?

Or maybe add some whimsy for the stitchy cat lover in your life (could be you?):

Purrfectly cute!

I think my absolute favorite and the one that will soon be making it’s way into my kit, though, has to be these unicorn scissors:

Make all of your projects feel magical.

Since we’ve made our way through pin cushions and scissors, I thought next week we could take a look at some fun needle minders. What are those, you ask? Tune in next week to see!

Stay crafty!

~Laura


Once Around a Pincushion

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Two Sundays ago I promised a pincushion tutorial and here it is! For reference, I used this Instructables tutorial on how to construct a pincushion cuff. It had a good foundation and some great tips, which I will include but lacked a little bit in some relevant details (more on that later). Please note that this tutorial assumes you are familiar with hand and machine sewing terms and techniques (if not, stay tuned at the end for some recommended viewing). To begin, you will need the following:

PincushionTutSupplies1

  1. Fabric (I used cotton)
  2. A mug or round item approximately 3″-4″ in diameter
  3. Poly fiber filling
  4. Sew-on Velcro
  5. Embroidery floss or other cording
  6. A button
  7. Scissors and/or a rotary cutter
  8. (If using rotary cutter) Self-healing cutting mat
  9. Ruler or measuring tape
  10. Pins
  11. (not pictured) Iron and ironing board

The following are not absolutely necessary but I found it easier to use them and I will refer to the steps where I used them.

PincushionTutSupplies2

(optional) Iron-on interfacing or stabilizer (pictured above)

(optional) Pinking shears

(optional) Seam ripper

(optional) Fabric pencil

Prior to cutting out my fabric, I washed, dried, and pressed it accordingly. You will need to cut 3 circles of fabric each measuring 3″-4″ in diameter and 2 strips of fabric measuring about 9″ (I made my a little bit longer) long by 2.75″ wide. If you opt to use the interfacing, cut it slightly smaller (length and width) than one of your long strips. Cut two 2″ strips from the Velcro.

To begin, I used the mug and fabric pencil to trace out circles on my fabric. The center circle will be used as reinforcement only so it does not need to be a pretty piece. I then used my ruler, cutting mat and rotary cutter to cut out my strips.

PincushionTutMugCircles  PincushionTutFabricStrips

If you choose to use interfacing, which I recommend if you intend to use this often as it will add strength and durability to the cuff, now would be the time to iron it on to one of the wrong sides of one of the strips. Then pin the right sides of your strips together. Using the edge of your presser foot as the seam allowance, sew around all sides of the strips **EXCEPT** about a 1″ space on one of the long sides (this is very important as you will need to flip the whole cuff through this hole later). The Instructables tutorial actually gives a great tip at this point, “Tip: Sew the opening area closed first by back stitching, then lengthening your stitch and sewing about an inch, and then back stitch again where the opening ends. Then you can press the seam open in this area and remove the stitches. This will give you a nice crease to follow when stitching the opening closed.” I did utilize this technique for both the cuff and the cushion. It made hand sewing much easier later on. While you are still at the sewing machine, you may as well sew your cushion, too. Make sure when you pin it beforehand that the right sides of the fabric you want on the outside of your cushion are facing each other while the reinforcement circle is on the wrong side of the “bottom” fabric. All I can say about sewing the seam on a circle is take your time and don’t forget that 1″ opening!

PincushionTutFabricStrips2  PincushionTutSewstrips  PincushionTutSewCushion

When you’ve got your seams done, it’s time to iron! Take both pieces over to the ironing board and iron that seam space open where we left a spot for the flip. Trust me, it will help! You’ll probably notice that my edges look all nice and full of ridges. Alternately before pressing, you can using the pinking shears to trim around your seams (this will prevent fraying when you are attempting to force a bunch of fabric through that 1″ hole), which is what I did. Next is the fun part! If you followed the wide stitch technique as suggested, you need to use your seam ripper to pull out those stitches. Then (brace yourself) you need to flip both things right side out by stuffing all the fabric through that 1″ hole you in the sides. Once you have it flipped, use a chop stick, pencil, or other stick-like implement to pop out your corners. Still with me? Awesome! At this point, you need to hand sew (with a slip/ladder stitch) that little hole closed in the cuff. Before doing the same to the cushion, stuff with what appears to be far too much poly filler (you want a really poofy cushion so you don’t get poked with a pin!). After you’ve stitched both parts closed, you can opt to topstitch around the edges of your cuff which I also recommend for added strength.

PincushionTutIronSeams  PincushionTutStuffCushion  PincushionTutTopstitch

We are in the home stretch now! The next part is to sew the little ridges into your cushion by using floss or some kind of cord to divide the cushion first into quarters, then into eighths. If you can come back up through the top of the cushion after dividing that last portion, you should be able to pop the button right on the top of that end of the floss and dig into the center of the cushion to anchor it.

PincushionTutSewFloss   PincushionTutSewFloss2   PincushionTutButton

Almost there, I swear! Now you will attach the cushion to the cuff by hand sewing the bottom of the cushion into the top layer of the cuff. This does not have to be perfect as it will not be visible but ensure that you sew it down firmly. Once your cushion is not going anywhere, sew your Velcro on – one on the top side and one on the bottom side of your cuff.

PincushionTutAttachCushion   PincushionTutSewVelcro

Clip your ends, grab some pins, and pat yourself on the back! We just made a pincushion cuff!

PincushionTutComplete

It’s going to come in real handy if you’ve decided to join in on the NES block of the month quilt-along over in the forums. This thing is the perfect wrist armor for those darn pins!

PincushionTutOnWrist

Above I had mentioned some things that may or may not be lacking (pending your sewing experience level) in the original tutorial. I found a couple of great videos if you aren’t that comfortable with ladder/slip stitch (through this link) or if you’ve never had to topstitch anything (through this link).

Hope you had as much fun as I did today!

See you next Sunday and stay crafty!

~Laura