A few essentials for the newly sewing inclined

Earlier this year I made my first quilt, it was for a friend who was expecting a baby. Since precision is critical in sewing projects, there were a few new tools I needed to make the quilt. Before I actually bought the rotary cutter that was needed I was having this inner struggle. I’ve fallen down the crafty slippery slope more than once, and I did not want to buy something that would rarely be used.

I am happy to report that the rotary cutter, mat, and ruler I purchased for that particular project are used several times a week these days. At the time, I would have appreciated a list of the top items regularly used for sewing so I could figure out exactly what I would need without going overboard and buying every accessory and gadget in sight.

To help the newbie seamstress wondering what tools you will need to get by, I’ve compiled a list of my sewing essentials.

wpid-wp-1409865238881.png

Sewing Machine

First, and most obviously. If you aren’t ready to make the investment in a new sewing machine try out a project or two using a friend’s to see if it’s something you’d like to continue with. I’ve even heard that people have snagged a good machine at thrift stores.

 

wpid-img_20140904_162015_946.jpg

Scissors

Get a small and large pair. Make sure you specifically get fabric scissors, and never use them on paper (it will dull the blade). The large scissors will cut fabric and the small ones are good for cutting those tiny threads. Cute scissor case made my your mother: optional.

 

wpid-wp-1409865244547.jpeg

Bobbins

You will be surprised how quickly these fill up with different colored thread once you have made a few projects, so go ahead and get a big set of empty ones. My tip: For a color you will use a lot, fill up 3-4 bobbins of that color at a time, this will make things go faster when you are at the machine.

 

wpid-wp-1409865255736.jpeg

Bonus Essential: Rotary cutter with mat and ruler

I’m listing this one as essential because I use the rotary cutter almost as often as the sewing machine itself. You can tell I’m in full working mode when the sewing machine, ironing board, and cutting mat are all sitting out.

The rotary cutter and mat are essential if you want to quilt, need perfectly measured pieces, or need a clean cut. BUT there are still plenty of projects like curtains, aprons, and some bags that will be fine with just cuts from scissors. Try a few simple projects before you buy the rotary cutter, but if it’s a hobby you would like to further pursue, these tools are definitely worth it.

 

Whether sewing, knitting, or anything else crafty, what is the one tool you can’t do without?

Advertisements

Making the most of the weekend

Last weekend I traveled as far south as you can go in the states.

That’s right, I made it out to Key West.

David and I finally took advantage of the fact that we live within driving distance of the Keys and spent a fairly spontaneous weekend on the very edge of Florida.

wpid-wp-1409706223474.jpeg

We didn’t actually stay over night on Key West, there was a cute Bed and Breakfast (that I would highly recommend) on Big Pine Key, about 45 minutes from our final destination. The B&B included bikes to get around the island, a small spot on the beach with lounge chairs and a hammock, and use of a glass bottom kayak. Not  bad at all!

wpid-img_20140831_115209_396.jpg

We spent all of last Saturday on Key West itself.

There are certainly an abundance of attractions and sights on Key West, but the cost can add up quickly so we prioritized a visit to:

The Hemmingway House (and the 6 toed cats that live there)

wpid-wp-1409706341032.jpeg

 

wpid-wp-1409706663088.jpeg

 

and Truman’s Little White House. (No pictures allowed).

Aside from indulging in some delicious conch fritters and sampling Key Lime pie we stick to some of the free things to do.

wpid-wp-1409706314241.jpeg

Like a visit to the Key West Cemetery complete with this gem:

wpid-wp-1409706291666.jpeg

We also stopped by mile marker 0 on US 1 and the official southern-most point of the states.

On Sunday we took advantage of the glass bottom kayak and paddled around Big Pine Key, and I had a Snow White moment with one of the adorable Key Deer.

wpid-wp-1409706266469.jpeg

All in all the weekend was an absolutely lovely break from normal routine. We are already planning a camping trip down that way when the weather gets cooler.

 

Favorites on Etsy

Here is a little collection of a few of my favorite things I’ve found on Etsy lately.

From Bindhi and Brutus

Tiny Gold Farfelle Pasta Pendant Necklace on Delicate 14-16" Gold Filled Chain - Gift for Her, Valentine, Just Because

How could you not smile at this pasta necklace?

They also have a beautiful collection of scarves. This pink one caught my eye.

From Marolsha:

Bakers Necklace. Measuring Spoon, Silver Miniature Baking Tray Muffin Necklace. Gifts for Chef. Little Baker. Cupcake Lover. Mother Day Gift

Apparently I’m really into food necklaces right now. This baking one is too perfect.

And finally, from 716Designs:

20% Off SALE Lord of The Rings Inspired Hobbit Diet Typography Poster, Lord of the Rings Wall Art, Modern Home Decor, Wall Art

This word art outlining a hobbit’s meal plan would be an ideal kitchen decoration.

 

Beyond Retail Therapy, the Purpose Behind a Purchase

I’m not a huge spender. Most of the books I read are from the library, I’ll usually pick a redbox movie night over a trip out to the theatre, and I’m making an effort to keep a pared down wardrobe.

That being said, sometimes it is fun to splurge on something new, and often something that we are really pleased with has value beyond the item itself.

Example A:

My Running Shoes

DSC05161

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not a big runner, but during the cooler months in FL I do like to hit the pavement for 20-30 minutes a few times a week. In addition to keeping my back safe with proper shoes, these have also been a motivation for exercise.

I spent money on nice shoes, so I feel like I have to use them. Also, something about putting them on gets me in workout mode and makes me feel like a legitimate runner. Sure, I spent a little more on these that I would on the average pair of shoes, but they have kept me running and make me feel good when I do so.

Example B:

Bolts of Fabric

DSC05158

Have you every purchased an entire bolt of fabric? Let me tell you, it’s pretty exciting.

In the past I have not needed too much fabric at a time, but with starting up Bobbin and Co. there were a few things I could buy in larger quantities.

The first time I left the fabric store with the whole bolt I walked out with an extra bounce in my step. The bolt of fabric meant that I really did know how to sew, and I was in fact going to open an Etsy shop. After that initial investment I definitely wasn’t going to turn back.

Sometime a piece of fabric is more than just a piece of fabric. Have you gotten anything new recently that meant a little more than what was on the surface?

Keeping all the stuff in check: Organization

Often we (I) get in this trap of thinking, if only I had one more room in my home, one more day to a weekend, one more hour in day, then all my problems would be solved. The unfortunate reality is that once we have that one more thing, we’re left wanting something else.

Would it be great if I had a whole room where I could keep my sewing machine up and  have a Pinterest worthy organizational display? Yeah, sure I would love that, but the fact is that isn’t my current reality, and the more I think about it, the more I realize that I don’t need all that space.

Want to see a picture of my Etsy shop?

 

Here it is:

DSC05167

No, not every single thing I need fits in here, but most of the day to day tools and materials I use are easily stowed here, right in this chest in the living room.

Insiders view:

DSC05172

Nope, the sewing machine is not out all the time, but all I have to do is walk it about 7 steps over to my desk to get to work.

My secret weapon for some of this organization is the dollar store. Selections often vary, but usually I can find storage containers for exactly what I need.

DSC05177

When I get new fabrics I like to first wash them, and then press and cut them to size. My cut fabrics then hang out in these containers so when I’m ready to sew, I can get started quickly.

My favorite organizational feat so far has been this basket:

DSC05175

I keep whatever current project I’m working on in here. As you can see, I’m making more of the cute bike wristlets, so I’ve got all the pins, scissors, and cut materials in there. When I’m ready to get to work I only need to pull out the sewing machine, this basket and I’m all set.

DSC05173

There are a few other spots in the apartment where I keep items that are not used on a daily basis. See that green bin towards the left on the shelf? That’s where all the scrap fabric goes. I’ve also got a bolt of interfacing and a bit left of a bolt of tan fabric, those are tall and thin to store on a closet shelf, and I don’t buy too much fabric ahead of time, so that’s not a big concern for storage.

Bonus feature:

I’m guessing that most Etsy shop owners have more than one DIY interest, so aside from the shop there a few other things to keep track of.

DSC05169

I have a few paper crafting/stamping supplies, and they easily fit on the bottom of my book shelf. It’s starting to get a little crowded, but for now it works.

DSC05174

And finally, one of my first handmade fascinations was knitting. As any knitter who has made more than two projects knows, it’s pretty easy to accumulate excess yarn. The solution here was to buy a basket. Initially, I had lots of yarn tucked away in plastic bags and I hardly touched it. New rule: I was allowed to get a basket and whatever could fit in the basket could stay. Obviously not everyone has to follow my plan, but this helped keep potential excess in check. Extra yarn was donated.

My favorite way to limit excess is to have a set amount of space for stuff and then decide whatever doesn’t fit in that specific box or on a certain shelf is something I don’t need.

How do you stay organized? Any good tips on deciding what to keep or purge when all the stuff starts getting out of hand?

In the Works

I’m diligently working on new items to add to Bobbin and Co. and here are a few things I’ve been thinking:

Over the weekend I tried out a new design for a make-up/ travel bag for women. I’m thinking something like this…

IMG_20140816_152104

The design came out really well. The bag will come with me for a test run while I’m traveling this week to see how it holds up in use. It would still be several weeks before this item would potentially be available, I’d have to order and prep fabrics, and sew up some bags. Now is your chance, any fabric colors or designs you would like to see this bag in?

Next on the list is Christmas stockings, I found this fabric a couple weeks ago:

cx3637_multi_3

The design immediately brings to mind the scene in the Charlie Brown Christmas special where Charlie Brown finds his tree among all the other flashy Christmas trees. Since the Charlie Brown Christmas special is one of my favorites to watch during the holidays, anything that brings it to mind gets an A+ in my book.

And finally, I’m thinking about a men’s travel case. A classy and simple leather toiletry/shaving/whatever-you-call-it case would be ideal.

_8132813

I’ve never worked with leather, so that’s still a ways down the road. Maybe I’ll start with some sort of canvas material? Suggestions welcome.

What else would you like to see in the shop? I’d love to hear your ideas.

A Dog, a Game, and YA Lit

Today I’m linking up with Modern Mrs. Darcy for her monthly Twitterature. If you are looking for some new book recommendations check out her post and click on other links, there is always a great assortment of books reviewed.

Here is what I’ve been reading over the last month-ish:

 

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon

This was the book club pick for the month. The style was creative with lots of diagrams included, and the first person narrative from an autistic boy was intriguing, but this book really wasn’t my favorite. Maybe it’s the sad undertones, or maybe the style just wasn’t for me. Well done, but not my taste.

 

Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

For E&P I listened to the audio (which was great by the way). This was one of those books that made me want to drive, just so I could listen to it. The story definitely kept my attention, my only complaint is that I didn’t completely love the ending.

 

A Feast of Ice and Fire: The Official Companion Cookbook (for A Game of Thrones) by Chelsea Monroe-Cassel and Sariann Lehrer

In the last few months the Game of Thrones bandwagon has swept me up. Of coarse, when I heard there was an associated cookbook, I had to grab it from the library. Each recipe quotes the passage of the book the meal was inspired from, and includes excerpts from real medieval recipes. The authors (who also write a Game of Thrones food blog) translated those recipes to something we can make with tools and ingredients commonly found today. My recommendation: try the Sweetcorn Fritters (pg.123)  and Modern Cheese-and-Onion Pie (pg. 145).

My reading time has been a little sparse lately with lots of summer travel and finally getting my Etsy shop open, what should I look to read next?