buying toys, I mean tools

I have a bit of a problem when I teach in venues other than my own house. Other places have other tools and when I use them, I want them.

The latest is from the San Francisco trip- that rotary cutter in the pic-

8:13:tools I know, it looks like a regular rotary cutter. I have a drawer full. But, it is different because it is pressure sensitive- which translates to- there is not a blade cover that you retract but the blade slips down when you press it to the fabric. My problem/frustration with rotary cutters has been that when I am cutting up against a ruler, which is pretty much how I always use them, the retracted blade cover rubs up against the ruler and moves it. Gah! I am sure other people have figured out how to work this out but I never have. This cutter works perfectly for me! It seemed like a miracle when I tried out Sonya‘s at the Tiny World class.

I bought the Omnigrid 45mm Rotary Cutter Omnigrid 45mm Rotary Cutter
but it looks like  Dritz 45mm Rotary Cutter is one too.

That wasn’t all though. Someone brought an embroidery book to class. It is pretty, clearly illustrated, fun to look at, (out of print :-( so sad), and I decided I need my own copy to bring to classes.

Stitch Sampler: The Ultimate Visual Dictionary to Over 200 Classic Stitches

After teaching at Gather Here back in January, I bought myself the Gingher 8-Inch Featherweight Dressmaker Shears which I absolutely love, and a white (actually sort of translucent) self-healing cutting mat. Working on a colored surface was affecting my color perceptions- not a good thing. Anyway, I think I am seeing a dangerous pattern here!

Tomorrow I am off to Art Camp- see you after the weekend!

Sewing Machine Accessory Bible

Now, another book I have just finished.

The Sewing Machine Accessory Bible: Get the Most Out of Your Machine—From Using Basic Feet to Mastering Specialty Feet

I was shopping for books on Amazon and this book came up in one of those creepy we know what you really want suggestions. Um, yep. I did want that. When I bought my trusty Bernina 930 used, just a few short months after I started this blog, it came with lots of feet, many of which I have never even tried to figure out how to use. (I posted about it here.) Really, it is probably time, right?!

Considering the number of feet that are made for various purposes, I was pleasantly surprised that I was able to match up most of mine with the ones in the book- even though most look completely different. Figuring out what feet I have meant pulling out my manual and also a separate book that is specifically about the accessories.

6:16:feet1There are some that I am still confused about though. In none of my resources are there explanations along the lines of- yes they look alike but they are different in this little way. Below are 3 feet. Two on the right are the same, Blind Stitch foot. The other is Edge stitching. ??? That one on the left has little indentations on the edge but I have no idea what they are for.

update- here is a whole blog post on Badskirt about the edge stitcher! Thanks Ryan!

6:16:feet2And, amazingly, after 9+ years, I finally put in the double needle and tried it out. First I tried it with a regular foot and then with one of the pintuck feet. I never actually knew they went together- that was worth reading the book right there!

Here are my pintucks- a mid-weight wool, a quilt cotton, a light weight cotton.

6:16:feet5And this is how many books I had open on my table to figure it out!

6:16:feet 4I can imagine I might use pintucks on something. I always thought that they were very hard to do but it turns out the right tools make it easy.

I was able to get this book out of my library which works really well for me- the due date gives me a deadline to get the book read. This book was worth getting simply because it gave me the kick I needed to pull those dusty parts out of the drawer and figure out how they work. And embarrassingly enough, I discovered I already had a foot that I bought on Ebay a few months ago and another one that I’d been planning to buy. Yikes! Clearly I needed to go through all my stuff again.

a new pincushion for ME!

I made myself a new pincushion. I have to admit that I felt silly making it nice, just for me- to make a house, instead of just a blob or something on top. Reminder to self- do it nicely and right, for myself. Okay then.

The base is something I got from my parents’ house. I believe it is the bottom part of a hair receiver. There was clearly suppose to be a top lid of some sort and it was missing. I’ve had this in my studio for a number of years, knowing I would eventually get around to making it into a pincushion. Doesn’t it look like a little farm house with veggies growing in the garden?!

I like to put my needles in the top element and yes, I sort my pins by color. I am obsessive that way. I’m very opinionated about my pins too- I like colorful, thin, long (1 3/8″) glass-headed pins. Like these but in colors. Here is the new pincushion with the old one. That link goes to the original post when I made that one- in August 2004! It has gotten worn out and a bit floppy on it’s base.

Here is another photo with my hand for scale. It is pretty big and I realized the other photos didn’t convey that.

 

some presents to myself

I’ve spent some money on things I couldn’t resist. I will list them in the order I bought them.

I got an IPad in August and I love it. I’ve been using it for running charge cards when I go to markets and so it feels like a legitimate business tool. About a month ago I bought a DODO case and I totally recommend it. The IPad feels protected and the case feels good in my hand. It is an artisan-made product which I have to admit makes me love it even more. Check it out if you are in the market for any tablet case- I think they’ve got them all.

I read this review on Pikaland. I thought, I have GOT to get that! I did. It is amazing! Check it out, Wrap.

My favorite-

Crystal posted some mushroom ornaments on her blog right before the SOWA Holiday Market. I rushed over to her booth before the show opened to check out what she brought. Unfortunately some other vender had gotten in there before me and the ones I wanted were taken. Crystal make me some more when she was back home again. These will not be going back to attic after Christmas. They will be hanging in my studio all year round.

I found this adorable little fellow at Gallery Hanahou. He is made by Anna Hrachovec of Mochimochi Land. I think he will be spending his time hanging out on top of one of the above mushrooms.

And lastly, this owl ornament (I think he is papier mache and approx. 4″ tall). I found him at John Derian.

When I was at John Derian, there were lots of items by Coral & Tusk. I had never seen the work before and was tempted and intrigued. Then, as I was catching up on my blogs on Monday, somebody linked to them! I loved this fox. He has a pocket with a camera!

slow motion

I feel like I am moving in slow motion. I’ve been working on a few things. Some of the poor tattooed men on the table  went down to Connecticut and back, several times, hoping to get some stuffing. But no. They are still as flat as I seem to be feeling.

I am working just as slowly through all the emails that backed up in the week of distraction. If you haven’t heard from me about something, you might want to try again. I may have lost track of your email.

I did have a birthday recently and bought myself a new toy… um, no, I mean important tool for my business.

An IPad! And I made my present a present! I tend to get a bit overwhelmed when confronted with a new electronic toy so I tip-toe around it for a while. But, hey, I know how to make a felt sleeve. We are bonding.

And, I’d love to hear about your favorite apps for crafty biz and for fun.

And lastly, thank you so much for all your kind words and condolences regarding my Dad. I added a link to his obit at the bottom of the post.

a gift guide for sewers

or maybe I should call it a gift guide for people who do assorted projects with fabrics, sort of like what I do…

These are things (mostly tools) that make me happy in my studio and I think would make great gifts.

When I was thinking about what to put on this list, it became obvious that I love my nice sharp cutting tools. My first suggestion is excellent scissors and Gingher’s are a good choice. I recently bought myself the 5″ knife-edge ones and they are my new favorites- sorry, drawer full of all the other little scissors that I have totally abandoned!  They are perfect for all the detail cutting work I do with the appliques. The big ones are good for cutting through layers of fabric and I use them to cut out the dolls. The little stork one, besides being adorable, is perfect for cutting threads in tight places, cutting out REALLY tiny things, and putting in my project bag if I am working on a carry-around project.

If the person you are shopping for already has good scissors, you might research a local place to get them sharpened. In my area (Boston), I can get mine done for approximately $7 at the local Fabric Store or Hardware Store.

My most recent tool purchase is this 18mm rotary cutter. It is perfect for cutting out shapes when I am using a template or little pattern piece- because I can hold the pattern flat and firmly in place on the cutting mat and cut around it. That means no marking on the fabric and no distortion from trying to hold the pattern in place and cut with scissors. The scissors and rotary cutter are available at most fabric stores, local and big name.

Last in the sharp cutting tool suggestions- fabric cutting, decorative edge shears. Unfortunately, my excellent Fiskar ones are no longer available, but I found this other brand. You might be able to find the Fiskars on Ebay sometimes.

On to other goodies.

Yes, a large piece of clear plastic is hard to photograph! This is a sewing machine extender table. I like this table even more then I was expecting. I thought I would use it when working on my bigger, bulkier projects but I have never taken it off since I got it! This is a special order item and fits whatever machine you have exactly. It can take a while to get if you have an older or more obscure machine. Looks like you can buy it online here for a lot less than I paid at my local sewing machine store.

If the recipient loves embroidery,  trying out new kinds of embroidery threads is tons of fun. Purl Soho has a huge selection. My new thread love of this year is Valdani pearl cotton- especially the variegated one. Next time I am in NYC, I will be restocking my supply.

Of course if they do embroidery, they might need some needles- I had fun shopping for needles at the Colonial Needle site. Seriously, how cute are these John James pebble packs-

embroidery and chenille needles

If you are looking for a last minute gift because you didn’t have any time to go shopping, a subscription to Selvedge Magazine will save the day!

Lastly, if you want to stick to handmade for the season, you could go over to my shop and get a pattern or 2, or maybe a tiny world pin cushion. Or my friend Liz’s shop and check out her  amazing selection of pin cushions. Or check out some of the other sewing goodness on Etsy. Try searching for pin cushions,  needle books, wool felt assortment, fabric collections, hand dyed threads….  Oh, the goodness! Happy Holiday shopping everyone!

Feel free to leave you suggestions for the perfect gift in the comment section- so I can add goodies onto my own wish list!

presents to myself

First an announcement! Tomorrow, Wednesday October 13 is Crafty biz meet-up day at Diesel Cafe in Davis Sq., Somerville.  All are welcome. Contact me if you need more info or want to be informed of future meet-ups.

My personal economy  has improved a bit lately and I have treated myself to some sewing presents.  I re-subscribed to Selvedge magazine. My first copy showed up the other day. I had a subscription a few years ago and I’m happy to be getting it again. It is a beautiful magazine.

Next I bought a new pair of scissors- 5″ Ginghers

I love them. They are the perfect size for cutting out applique pieces and clipping curves. If you saw how many pairs of scissors I already own (many of them originally from my mom), you’d be wondering why in the world I needed another pair. But, even though I have so many, there is just a few that I ever use. I became much more aware of that when I was working with my intern this summer. So, it turns out that I own a lot of decorative scissors and just a few functioning ones. I am very happy with with this gift to me.

And, I got my machine serviced. We are both happier now!

No more chunk, chunk, chunk noises when I sew. The tension is looking good too. I had a list of problems when I took it in and I have forgotten what they were- that is a good sign. When I was at the shop to pick up my trusty friend, I remembered that I’ve been wanting an extender table for my machine- like this. I am waiting for it to come in so I can pick it up.

And lastly, some new needles. I know, it seems like such a small item, but really, good needles make such a difference! I ordered them from The Colonial Needle Company.

I am trying out the small size Chenille needles (#24 and 26) with crewel wool. So far (they just came today), I really like them. I have been a fan of John James needles for a while, but my local store stopped carrying them so I was happy to find another source. Good tools are such a pleasure.

prizes! and some other doings.

woohoo! I won Crystal’s giveaway and my prize arrived in the mail today!

prize

love this little detail-

prizedetail

Crystal is my good friend and fellow member of Boston Handmade. Thanks Crystal! This sweet little pair will live in my studio and keep me company while I work.

Several people asked me about the dyes I use. Firstly let me say that I am no dyeing expert. I am pretty bad at it and almost always end up with splotchy fabric… well unless that is what I want. Then I get a solid color. I know this going into the project so I try not to be too focused on a perfect result. I use Cushing dyes- an acid dye for wool.

Other stuff I’ve been doing.

It was a sad day today- after listening to Science Friday and watching the video, I knew that my tomatoes were infected with late blight. I pulled them all up today. Ah well, I got a pretty good crop and will look forward to next year.

Over the weekend, I redid the faces on two dolls- ones that many commenters said looked sad. At the time (last month), I couldn’t really see it. Now, with fresh eyes, I decided I needed to change them.

oldface2

Old Face

newface2

New Face

oldface1

Old Face

face

New Face

I’m home!

I got home yesterday, but no rest for me here! There is lots to be done here with studio organization and filling up my Etsy shop, but first things first.

Tomorrow is my birthday and that means a give-away. I will post details tomorrow instead of doing the drawing on my birthday like other years. See you back here then!

Also, there will be a few days of CHA reporting. It was all new to me, I met lots of interesting people, and wow, was it exhausting. I am simply not used to being out and about with loads of people interactions for 5 days in a row. I need more practice at getting out of my studio!

That is the hotel restaurant on the first night, before any of the work began. I went to Orlando with my sister-in-law who was showing Twisteez, an art wire that her family has been making and selling to schools for 50 years. This was her first venture into finding retail outlets for the product.

This is what things looked like when we first walked in-

soon, we were getting the booth put together-

and here is how it looked on Tuesday morning, opening day-

We kept ourselves very busy. In between talking to people, we played with the wire. Here are some of our creations-

Sandy made a dragon-

I made a dragon slayer-

together-

I made an articulated little girl-

We both made flowers-

Sandy made a horse-

And I cut out a bunch of elephant shapes and we tried different approaches to them-

Mimi-

and-

and Sandy-

As I said at the beginning, there are no retail outlets for Twisteez yet, but I am going to help my son set up an Etsy shop to sell them- soon! I will let you know when they are available, in case you are interested.