Posts filed under ‘Crafty’
Swaps – when they go well – are wonderful. But I must admit, I haven’t swapped in ages as awhile back I went through some horrible swaps. Too often, people never send their half of the swap or (to be frank) you don’t get something of equivalent “value” as what you send. Don’t even ask me about the time I swaped a huge set of Lantern Moon knitting needles and got a bunch of ugly poorly dyed (it was almost a blessing those ugly colors bled when the yarn got wet) cheap yarn in return.
That said – when a swap goes well…you have made a new friend and have received something that makes you smile when you open it and everytime you look/use it thereafter. And that’s just the type of swap I just had!
My swap package from Donna was huge and full of delights.
First and foremost…the coasters! Each one is a unique beauty. I’d say I was excited to use them, but as soon as my 7-month-old daughter saw them – they became mostly hers. I put them on the table and 5 minutes later she’s waving them in the air. The green one is a particular favorite (the picture above shows the front of it.)
But then Donna also sent a gorgeous handmade bib. I have to show you both sides since each one is a beauty. Considering how messy mealtime is getting with Quinn, I shudder at submitting this bib to that kind of torture.
Thanks Donna! I’m positively tickled with what you sent. And really, the best part is I’ve “met” someone I truly like and consider a new friend.
For a little bit of fun I participated in the Kindred Crafters Coaster Swap. I figured it would get me sewing again and coasters make for a relatively quick project that I can do after the baby goes to bed and before I do (which is not too much later than the baby!) I had to wait to post about it until my swap partner got her package from me.
I was paired with Kindred Crafter’s very own Donna. She said she was into orange. I hope she meant it because here are the coasters I made for her.
I wasn’t sure how many I was supposed to send so I made 2 sets of 4 that would be complimentary to each other. Lots of luscious Joel Dewberry Aviary fabrics with natural linen. And, of course, lots of orange orange orange.
Best of all…it sounds like they were a hit with Donna!
Thank you everyone for entering for the giveaway. I hope everyone enjoyed the event as much as I did. I read through EVERY comment and I have some new blogs to read thanks to you!
Sadly, we could only have three giveaway winners. (And I didn’t win any of the giveaways I entered so, trust me, everyone who didn’t win has my utmost sympathy!) For this giveaway, the Random Number Generator has chosen…
Winner #1 (Carrot Cake/Gold Seeds): hap
Winning would make me so very happy. I feel like I’m always the bridesmaid, never the bride when it comes to these things.
I’m new to this blogosphere, so you probably read all the ones I do, but I do like madebyrae.blogspot.com
Winner #2 (Fluttering Butterflies/Yellow Gnomes): VickiT
What wonderful prizes you are so generously giving away. Thank you for the opportunity to win them. Love those fabrics.
Winner #3 (Betsy’s Closet/Blue Gnomes): Tanya
Holy Gnomes! What a great give a way and so very generous, thanks for the chance to win, I am seriously crossing fingers and toes. You probably already know about Amber’s blog, it is one of my favorites and she is a really nice person too which makes it all good.
I’ll email winners directly to get mailing addresses. Please check your spam filters to make sure you get the email. Thanks so much again everyone! I can’t wait for the next giveaway day.
::Updated 6/2 8:30 PM PST – Comments Closed…no more entries::
Apologies in advance for the horrible photos. This is what happens when you forget to take the pictures until 10 o’clock at night. But, hopefully, once you see what is IN the photos you won’t care about the quality of the photo.
I have 3 duos to send out. You have until JUNE 2, 2009 (8pm PST) to enter. The rules are simple…just leave a comment (anything’ll do) on this post by the deadline for 1 entry. You get bonus points (ie an extra entry) if you leave me a link to one of your favorite sewing, fiber art, or paper crafting blogs. (I’m trying to build my blog reading list.) Please please please make sure to leave me a way to contact you if you win. Winners will be drawn via the random number generator…and yes, I’ll go ahead and ship internationally.
Ok – onto the goods! I decided that since I’ve been on the difficult hunt for some tough to find Flea Market Fancy and Heather Ross fabric, it was only fair to share some of the wonderful finds I have in my stash. I was lucky enough to recently grab some of the Gnomes in both yellow and blue (stalking eBay pays off if you’re persistent) and it seems like good karma to pass it along.
And just when you thought it couldn’t get any better…finally we have a copy of Betsy’s Closet by Acorn Quilt and Gift Company and a fat eighth of the blue gnomes pattern from Lightening Bugs and Other Mysteries by Heather Ross.
Ok y’all…comment away and good luck!
In a search to find the perfect fabric marker I stumbled across the Sewline pencil. Using a ceramic-based lead, the pencil is designed to give you a thin clean line while still being erasable/removable.
Available in a rainbow of colors (white, pink, yellow, green, brown), the pencil comes with a packet of six lead refills and has one eraser in its top. I got the white, pink, and green pencils to make sure I had a lead that would show on whatever fabric I was marking.
I like the form factor of the pencil. It’s nothing special when compared to a mechanical pencil (comfortable to hold with a nice diameter barrel) but it’s vastly different from other fabric marking tools I have. And I don’t think you can tell from the photos…but the pencil has a slightly triangular shape to the barrel. Would you like to see my informal test of how the lines compare with other markers?
As you can see, the Sewline (far right) makes the finest line. The tailor’s chalk (center) is the most difficult to control and left a small amount of chalk dust. The chalk pencil (far left), while easier to control than the tailor’s chalk, left a large amount of dust and it dulls quickly requiring frequent sharpening. There may be an argument that the Sewline is best as a pattern/design tracing tool while tailor’s chalk is best for marking clothing for tailoring since the Sewline definitely needs a firm surface underneath the fabric to work while the tailor’s chalk leaves a heavy mark by just rubbing against the fabric. But since I make quilts and toys and I have no clue how to resize clothing, the Sewline would seem to be the tool for me.
The Sewline pencil drew fairly smoothly and I adore that fine fine line. I’m just starting to explore applique and I can see how this fine line will be perfect for tracing out the more intricate shapes. And of course – you don’t have to stop to sharpen it. In my quick tests, the lead did not break, but if this is like other mechanical pencils…the thin leads are probably prone to snapping if you extend them too far or apply too much pressure. I did encounter some minor drag on the fabric when I drew and had to hold the fabric down with my hand to keep the fabric from stretch while I marked. But I have a feeling that was largely due to the amount of pressure I was using.
I’m glad that I got multiple colors because, as you’ll see below, each color shows up with varying success on different colored fabrics. Sewline is coming out with a 3-chambered pencil (just like those pens we had in grade school) that holds 3 different leads at once.
I think I’ll be using the pink pencil the most frequently as it seems the most versatile.
Finally – the all important eraser test. Here’s where my praise of the Sewline pencil stumbles a little.
I made a single horizontal line of each color on the 4 swatches. The vertical line in the center divides the eraser test from the water test. Obviously, this isn’t a perfect/professional test…but I have a 6-month-old so I do what I can with the time I have. I’m sure you understand.
The “E” indicates the eraser side (the right side) of the test and I used water on the left-hand side. I used 4 colors of Kona Cotton as the fabric. Overall, it seemed like a toss-up between the erasing or using water to remove the marks. If you click on the photo and view it larger, the detail shows better. None of the marks came off completely through erasing and the eraser tending to leave behind annoying little curlings of the used eraser (just like a regular eraser – so who am I to complain?) And the water seemed to be just as effective as the eraser to remove the mark. To be fair, I did use a fair amount of pressure to make the lines…so maybe if you draw more gently more of the mark will come off. Also – I didn’t wash the swatches in soapy water…so perhaps more of the markings would come off that way?
My final verdict – I’m somewhere between liking the Sewline pencil and loving it. The downside of the marks leaving traces behind after erasing is a dark mark against it. But the benefits of the smooth, fine, clean line with the ease of use of a comfy mechanical pencil outweighs the erasing issue to me. They’re perfect for drawing applique shapes and tracing toy pattern pieces – which is what I mostly needed a marking tool for, so they’re perfect for me.
And yes, I did get the Sewline fabric glue pen too. I’m using it to do some strip piecing and will write up a quick review soon.
Craftzine has a great preview of Lotta Jansdotter’s new book, Simple Sewing for Baby. I love Lotta’s work and I’m looking forward to getting a copy of the book myself. But this picture in the preview had me chuckling.
Does anyone else see what’s wrong with this picture?
C’mon all you swaddling moms out there…you know what I’m talking about. It’s that adorable little hand sneaking out of the top of the swaddle! Of course, the wrap looks gorgeous and snuggly. But anyone who’s swaddled knows that a good swaddle is one in which the baby stays wrapped up tight – with no escaping bits. Sure, that’s not the point of the photo. But seeing as how we we struggled to find the right swaddle for our escape-artist daughter, I found that sneaky little hand amusing.
I have been intrigued by the concept of Stitch Simple since I first heard about it a couple of months ago. It seems like such a stroke of brilliance to offer pre-washed, pressed, and cut fabric for quilting. Personally, the washing and pressing parts of fabric prep are my least favorite part of the quilting process so this shop seems like the perfect solution. Stitch Simple offers a variety of sizes of prepared squares and rectangles as well as fat quarters and fabric by the inch. Stitch Simple’s owner, Jen, also has two convenient customizable kits you can choose from. I chose to get the 40×50 CYO (Choose Your Own) kit.
To order your kit you use this clever little tool that allows you to preview what your quilt will look like with your selected fabrics. You select from Stitch Simple’s fabric swatches (see more about this below) and the quilt preview to the right shows you exactly what you’re going to end up with. I loved how easy it was to use and how it took the guess work out of the selection. I have to admit, I went through dozens of variations of the kit until I finally locked down my choice.
I ordered my kit on Thursday and it arrived the following Monday. I have to say I was surprised (pleasantly, of course) at how quickly it came! I had fun opening my package and thought I’d share the experience with you.
The next layer contains the heart of the matter…the instructions and the precuts. You also receive a cute cardboard ruler. The instructions include the info you need if you want to use the pattern again with your own fabric or more precuts. And yes, Stitch Simple sells refills for the kits.
I was pleasantly surprised at how detailed the instructions are. The guide is in full color and basically take you step-by-step through the assembly. This kit would be great for a first time quilter. As a neat little bonus. Stitch Simple provides a color print out of your quilt preview too!
But c’mon, let’s get to the good stuff! Nestled in the recycled paper packing material are your neatly wrapped bundles of precuts. Somehow it feels like candy to me! Each fabric is sandwiched in cardboard, wrapped in plastic, and is clearly labeled.
Another bonus of the kit are the two “extras” you get: Practice pieces and an “emergency kit” for repairs in the future. Both inclusions are incredibly thoughtful and shows that Stitch Simple knows crafters and is all about sending you a package that will create an heirloom.
Stitch Simple is a young company that has a bright future. There are definitely areas that they can grow in – especially around fabric selections. I can only imagine the challenge of managing an inventory of fabric that you’re washing, pressing, AND cutting. But for now the fabric selection is a little sparse. Thankfully, Jen has a good eye and although small, there is a nice selection (big enough that I had a tough choice to make between some Amy Butler and the David Walker) of high quality prints. And I hope in the future Jen will offer additional patterns/kits beyond the two she currently sells.
For the order-by-piece precuts, Stitch Simple also offers some suggestions on how you can piece them together for a variety of blocks. I can see how I would order loose pieces or another kit in the future. I think the kit would make an especially nice gift for a new quilter (or an old one for that matter.) The price, considering the labor of fabric prep, the quality of the fabric and cutting, and all the extras is, in my opinion, more than fair. And if you sign up for the mailing list, Stitch Simple offers occasional coupons too. Finally, after interacting via email with Jen a bit, I can tell you that the customer service is top notch. And after my rants on fabric cutting you know I’m serious about my customer service.
If you’ve never heard of Stitch Simple, I hope I’ve introduced you to a new shop. If you’ve heard of it and wondered what it’s all about, I hope my unboxing helped you learn more. I, for one, can’t wait until I get my sewing machine fixed so that I can start quilting!
(And for the record…I wasn’t given a freebie, paid, or in any way compensated for this post.)
I wrote a little manifesto about fabric stores cutting yardage. But to be fair, as a customer there are rules we need to adhere to also.
I’ve worked plenty of retail in my life, and let me tell you – it’s TOUGH. I’ve had some terrible customer service at stores before. But then again, I’ve experienced and witnessed some truly indecent treatment of employees. So to play fair, here’s my Code of Conduct for us shoppers as we build our fabric stash.
(and note – the manifesto and code of conduct for yarn shops is slightly different.)
- Be friendly. If you can’t be friendly, be kind. If you can’t be kind, be respectful. If you can’t be respectful, be polite. These are human beings that work at the store. Just like me. Just like you.
- Be patient. I know it stinks when someone is getting 14 single yard cuts in line in front of you…but that stuff happens. Huffing and puffing in line doesn’t make anyone work any faster.
- Recognize limits. Keeping stock is costly. Buying merchandise is an artform and every store has its own style and priorities. If the shop you’re at doesn’t have what you want, don’t throw a fit.
- Be creative. I can’t tell you how many times I hear people upset because every exact fabric in the store sample is no longer in stock. Things sell out…especially when a pretty sample is displayed. And it’s not like the store owner is going to take down a great sample just because a few of the prints sold out. For goodness sake, you’re crafting! Get innovative. And heck, chances are the employees would be happy to help you find a nice alternative if you just ask.
- Don’t hog the help. It’s one thing if you’re the only customer in the store…but on a busy day, be cognizant of your fellow shopper’s and the employee’s mandate to try to help everyone. Sure, it’s nice to have a second opinion as you select 20 prints for your heritage project. But it’s awkward for the employee when you drag them from corner-to-corner with you while you shop.
- Have clean hands! The best thing about shopping in a store is feeling up the fabric. The tactile reward of strolling through a shop and touching all the pretties is wonderful. So please don’t mess it up for those who come after you by leaving your Slurpee remnants behind. And if your store has a no food/no drink policy, please respect it.
- Finally, don’t steal. Sure, this one is obvious, right? But I’ve seen stores go out of business because they simply couldn’t handle the “shrinkage.” Shoplifters do very real damage to the store owner and our crafting community at large.
And for those of us who shop a lot online too…
- Pay promptly! It’s a hassle to track stock and sales and shipping. Don’t order until you’re ready to pay.
- Communicate. I find the vast majority of store owners are very friendly and more than happy to describe a product, put together a bundle, or make custom cuts if you just ask. And make sure you ask your questions before you buy. It’s a lot easier to ask ahead of time than figure out how to return later.
- If you have a problem with your order, try to talk/email the owner first. Mistakes happen to the best of us. Leaving negative feedback without trying to find a resolution directly with the seller probably won’t solve anything and you can leave a good seller who made an oops with an unfair blemish on their record.
- Research your seller. If the seller doesn’t have any feedback, buy at your own risk. If the seller has negative feedback, take that into account. And remember…if it’s too good to be true…it’s too good to be true.
Phew! All this laying down of the rules makes me sound like a harridan. Really, I’m not that much of a hard-ass. And to think, all of this started because I got a half-yard cut that was only 16″ wide.
Any store owners out there? I’m interested to see if I hit the mark at all with this list. I can remember what it used to be like as a worker…but that was years ago in a different industry. I’d love to hear your thoughts on how we can make your life easier (thereby giving you more time to stock fabulous fabric!)
…or how to spend less (theoretically so that you can buy more.)
I’m a notorious stasher. It’s pretty well known amongst my friends that I collect certain things with an uncompromising passion (ie obsession.). Stamps, yarn, paper, and fabric… I have tons of it all. I know I’ll get around to using it eventually. In the meantime, it helps insulate my house which reduces energy costs, right? *nudge*
Since I’m not made of money, I’ve had to become a pretty savvy shopper to keep me in excessive supply. I almost never pay retail for anything and when I do, it’s only after I’ve done a lot of research to make sure I can’t find it cheaper elsewhere.
Thanks to online shopping, we’ve got stores from across the country (and around the globe) available to us. I’m a big fan of shopping locally and supporting your town’s craft stores. You can find great deals in the sale sections and with coupons and you should take advantage of those when you can. But barring local deals, the internet is a shopper heaven…and hell considering the sheer amount of info out there. But it’s often worth the effort.
For example, Heather Ross recently announced that she will not be releasing new designs in the near future and existing lines will not be reprinted. Suddenly her fabrics (which were already in high demand) are instant collectibles. But what does that really mean? It means some sellers are raising their prices from sale/retail to collectible/rare prices. But that doesn’t mean you have to pay that.
The Fabric Shopper, which is an absolute favorite site of mine, is running a little piece on finding some of Heather’s fabrics. (What’s that, you didn’t know about The Fabric Shopper?! Quick…subscribe to their feed asap! It’s awesome.)
West Hill Article Lightening Bugs and Other Mysteries Article
They’ve done a great job of finding the fabric for you on Etsy and other major online sellers. But as I started cruising those links (and I won’t list any specific stores here to protect the “innocent”) I realized that there was some definite supply-and-demand pricing going on. A yard for one pattern was listed for $35! Fat quarters are being listed for $13 and $15. I, personally, am not willing to pay that much…especially when 15 minutes of my time will suss out everything I want for more reasonable prices. And I had to find more reasonable prices since Ross is one of my favorite designers and I have to get my hot little fingers on some of that fabric before it’s gone gone gone!
Here’s where Google comes in. Through my day job, I have a solid knowledge of search engine practices. And here’s the thing…sometimes you have to go deeper than page 3 of the search results. Corporations pay companies like mine a lot of money to help them figure out how to optimize their website so that it appears on the first page of search results on Google. And there’s a business reason why. Studies show, clicks are maxmized from that first page and that most people don’t dig into the results more deeply than the 3rd page.
But for bargain hunters, there’s treasure to be found beyond page 3. Small retailers don’t have the website build/taxonomy know-how or website traffic to get their pages on those first results pages. But they have the product, and they have it at good prices. Sure, their site may not be flashy or pretty…but who cares?
I spent 15 minutes searching through Google results for “‘Heather Ross’ fabric” and I went through the results up to the 20th (!) page of results. But what did that yield? I found Heather Ross prints I didn’t find on Etsy or ebay. I found prints listed in the sale section of stores for 1/2 off retail (and that’s for yardage going for premium prices on Etsy sellers and on Ebay.) Sure, it took some digging on the various websites…but when an Etsy seller lists a fat quarter for $13 and I find a yard of it for $8.95 it’s worth it to me.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge Etsy and eBay fan…especially Etsy. I find great bargains there all of the time. But the Heather Ross example is a great instance where Etsy/eBay are not going to yield your best deals or even your best selection.
You may be asking “What’s your point?!” by now. My point is – I hate spending more than I need to and in today’s economic times, I wanted to share my experience with you so that you can save a little money but still fuel your craft habit too. The Heather Ross example is just a single example. Dig deeper in search results and you’ll find a plethora of buried bargains for anything you want to buy.
And to save you some time…here are the prime links I found for Heather Ross’ Lightening Bugs and Other Mysteries and West Hill collections. You can often find pieces of her other lines at these stores too…but I focused on the two previously mentioned lines. Happy shopping!
On Board Fabrics 1
On Board Fabrics 2
Sew Mama Sew
Crafters Vision (search for Heather Ross)
(update 4/6/09 – After a couple of reports from you, I’ve removed Around the Block from this list as it appears they are out of business but still taking orders. Grrr. Thanks for keeping me informed everyone!)
Shop Crafty Planet
This is probably more than any of you want to know…but I’m in a rambling kind of mood.
A few people have asked where to find 2-ply crepe paper. To be honest, that’s partly why I wrote up the rose tutorial. I’m hoping more people pick up crafting with crepe paper so that crepe is easier to get a hold of.
As mentioned before, 2-ply paper is really hard to find. Martha Stewart Crafts sold pre-packed 2-ply crepe for a short while in season-themed color packs at Michael’s craft store. But it appears to have been discontinued. (Darn it!) Kim’s Crane store sells some double-sided crepe but has (at last check) a pretty limited color range. I’ve heard FlaxArt sells 2-ply crepe too. I don’t think they have an online store, so you’d have to call for an order.
It’s pretty easy to make your own 2-ply crepe and you can have a lot of fun mixing and matching front and back colors. So I suggest you just go for that. See the “notes” of my crepe paper rose tutorial for quick instructions.
Crepe paper is sold in “folds” and can be most easily found at your local party supply store. It is essentially wrinkled tissue paper. And of course it’s the wrinkles that enable you to shape the paper and have the shaping hold. The beauty of this craft is that it’s inexpensive. You can find crepe folds for $1.00-$1.50 usually.
Dennison and Canson are two of the oldest brands you can find. A lot of vintage paper you’ll find are one of those two brands. In fact, Dennison is the manufacturer that created most of the instructions on crepe flowers (and crepe costumes!) all the way back to the 20′s. Dennison seems to have morphed into Dennefold today. Any paper under those three brands should work fine.
I hate to be negative, but I would say beware the Cindus brand of paper. I’m not sure why it is, but there paper is uncomfortably stiff and less crinkly than others. I’ve found Cindus does not make good paper flowers.
Of course the internet should be a good source. But do your own Googling and you’ll quickly find that it’s not that easy! Crepe paper just doesn’t seem like a hot commodity. I found THIS STORE that has a TON of colors and at a good price. I have NOT ordered from them yet so I can’t vouch for the product. But it’s the most promising online resource for crepe that I’ve found.
If you want to learn how to make a ton of crepe flowers and you don’t want to spend a lot of time crawling the web then you should pick up THIS BOOK. It’s a reprint of some of the original Dennison instructions. The photos stink and it’s just from a reprinter, but it’s better than nothing.
Your next best shot is finding some of the original Dennison books on eBay or in your local used book store. I have a neat little collection of those and that’s where I’m pulling my info from for my tutorials. The BEST books are the Crepe Paper Flower Making 3 book series from the Dennison-craft Home Course set. It was copyrighted in 1926 and I’m lucky enough to have all three books. There are instructions for dozens of flowers from the Azaelea to the Zinnia and a ton of flowers in between.
Dennison went on to publish a number of little books/pamphlets for flower making, but they have a varying number of patterns in them. Moreover, some of the pamphlets don’t even have the templates in them. So if you by on eBay make sure you really know what you’re getting. Make sure the listing info tells you the condition of the book and whether or not the template sheets are included and intact.
And every once in awhile Martha Stewart does a little article on crepe flowers. The best one was in the Spring 2001 Wedding special. It was a multi-page layout with great photos and she gave templates for a number of different flowers.
Phew! I hope this info is helpful to some of you. I’ve spent a lot of time (and $$$) over the past years figuring out some of this stuff so, if nothing else, I hope I saved you some time.