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Saturday, 4 July 2020

One Last Bluprint Transaction

Final Bluprint Fabric Order
My last fabric order from Craftsy/Bluprint...
What a sad outcome for everyone, regardless of how clearly we saw this coming.

We all loved Craftsy.

On the other hand, many of us disliked what transformed into Bluprint.

But the fact of the matter is that the sewing/quilting community has lost a huge resource with the abrupt shutdown of this company. (While the latest is that "certain assets" of Bluprint — most notably the courses that had been promised to be available forever to purchasers — will be taken over by a firm called TN Marketing, it's unlikely that the whole of what Craftsy/Bluprint was, will be retained.)

In my case, it immediately occurred to me how much I had relied on it for my supply of fabric. Apart from buying my own designs through Spoonflower — and one early purchase via Etsy — all of my online fabric purchases have come from Craftsy/Bluprint.

On May 18, Bluprint affiliates received an email for the first time in many weeks, announcing that their ecommerce site was re-opening after a COVID-19 shutdown. (Speaking of being an affiliate, the company that runs Bluprint's affiliate program — Shareasale — only pays out when a threshold amount of $50 is reached. By an extreme stroke of luck, I just passed that magical mark on May 31 and was therefore paid in full by the end of June.)


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I took a look around and noticed that the home page had been revamped slightly, with a link to a pattern marketplace. I had a brief thought that they were on the road to re-opening that functionality to us independent designers, but what I saw there were patterns created by internal Bluprint personnel.

That aside, they were offering an enticing discount of 60% on supplies, so I purchased this Lily and Loom Red Sky collection of twenty half yard cuts for $47.26 CDN (shipping & taxes not included), marked down from $118.14.

Lily & Loom Red Sky fabrics
Image courtesy of Bluprint...

Who would have figured that mere days later, news of their imminent closure would leak?

After the end was confirmed, Bluprint announced that the last day to fulfill orders from their just recently re-opened ecommerce site would be May 31. Apparently they received a flurry of sales activity that resulted in the site closing early, leaving people caught in mid-transaction and for many weeks afterwards, being very upset that their money had been taken, but receiving no shipping confirmations. One person reported having an order go missing after being shipped and then not being able to reach anyone at customer service.

In short, it's been pretty much an unmitigated gong show.

I'm so glad that I placed my order on May 18. It shipped four days later and I received it on June 3... two years and four months after my last order.

I'm also sad that this ended up being my final order from Craftsy/Bluprint. As someone who has little experience shopping in traditional fabric stores, this destination was a stress-free place for me to browse. From all indications, they carried quality products with decent prices. While I now have sufficient fabric to last me at least another couple of years, I'll eventually have to find a new online source.


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The first thing that I'm going to be making with my new fabric collection is my second pandemic challenge project: a quilted "work in progress" project bag with a clear vinyl front and a zippered top.

It'll be based on this idea from the Fat Quarter Shop:

Fat Quarter Shop WIP Project Bag
image courtesy of Fat Quarter Shop...

It qualifies as a pandemic challenge project because it's not something I would ordinarily make. After all, a WIP can simply be tossed into a large zip lock bag. I'm usually hesitant to use a substantial amount of fabric to make something that has negligible value.

On the other hand, it seemed a fitting way to mark the end of my Craftsy/Bluprint "relationship". Every time I use the bag to store a new creation, it'll be a reminder of how this company — at least when it was just Craftsy — helped me through a truly significant part of my sewing journey.

Lily & Loom bias binding by eSheep Designs
Bias binding made...

The bag will have bound sides, so I've already taken care of my first task: making some continuous bias binding using the "take a square of fabric and sew two lines" method. I chose to make it out of this brick print because once cut on the bias, the pattern runs on the diagonal and creates a different look.

The other fabrics that I'll be using are these two:

Lily & Loom fabric
Lily & Loom selections for my project bag...

The Fat Quarter Shop project can be found as a video tutorial online if you're interested (just search for fat quarter shop wip project bag). I actually first saw it featured on Sew4Home last summer.

I'll show you my version — smaller, constructed differently, and less costly to make — in a couple of weeks.

'Til next...


Saturday, 27 June 2020

A Tale of Two Pin Cushions

diy HandyMum Lin TV Tortoise Pincushion crafted by eSheep Designs
A nifty two piece tortoise pin cushion...
You can never really have too many pin cushions, can you?

After all, if you're a sewer, you're always working with pins and you need a place to stick 'em.

To date, I've featured three "pin keeping" ideas (here, here and here) on this blog. The recycled face cream jar is the one that I use most often, while the mannequin mainly functions as a decorative item at the end of my ironing station.

Always on the lookout for things out of the ordinary, I recently came upon this pin cushion idea on YouTube. It's a tortoise with a "removable" shell.

The channel is called diy HandyMum Lin TV, and this particular tutorial was uploaded August 6, 2018, so not new. She provides three templates for the project, but after sewing up the body of the tortoise and comparing it to the one she holds in her video, I'm pretty sure the pattern needs to be scaled up. I printed mine out at actual size; it (each piece, that is) may need to be printed at 150% to approximate the size shown in the video.

Speaking of the pattern, the templates are drawn without a seam allowance. The bulk of my time on this project was spent creating another set of templates with seam allowance and then cutting the required fabric.

All pieces accounted for...

If you're going to make this, I recommend tracing the "no seam allowance" template onto the fabric; it's easier to sew along a line around the small curvy areas than trying to maintain a seam allowance.


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So the tortoise that I ended up with is small. On the other hand, it is a pin cushion, so it still works.

diy HandyMum Lin TV Tortoise Pincushion crafted by eSheep Designs
It's really no bigger than my magnetic pin jar...

But while the original in the tutorial received finishing treatments like a snap fastener for the shell and buttons for eyes, the one I have is too small to bother with such details. (I suppose I could have added some eyes in the form of french knots.)

My little guy is made out of the remnants from my tropical leaf rug. Between this and my pandemic puzzle ball, not much of the fabric remains unused.

diy HandyMum Lin TV Tortoise Pincushion crafted by eSheep Designs
Unique design with removable shell...

It is quite a cleverly designed little critter, and as you might guess, it would work well as a child's soft toy too (as long as you don't sew buttons onto it).

diy HandyMum Lin TV Tortoise Pincushion crafted by eSheep Designs
Closeup of shell...

My original intention was to add a magnet to the top of the tortoise's body and to the bottom of the shell in lieu of the snap fastener.

diy HandyMum Lin TV Tortoise Pincushion crafted by eSheep Designs
Feels like I'm feeding a tiny turtle on the back of my hand...

When I realized how small my version was going to be, I decided not to fasten the shell at all. Once it's being used as a pin cushion, it's not going anywhere.


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Did you notice the title of this post?

diy HandyMum Lin TV Tortoise Pincushion crafted by eSheep Designs
Maybe the tortoise's home will be on my sewing machine?

Several days before I came across this tortoise, I opened up a new container of Olay Regenerist. It came with a lid that I found unnecessary to keep for daily use, but before tossing it into the recycle bin, I wondered if it could be repurposed.

Minutes later, I had this simple pin cushion.

Olay Regenerist lid pin cushion by eSheep Designs
Simple and fast pin cushion!

All it took was some digging through my fabric scraps. Much easier than the tortoise, but arguably not as cute.

'Til next...




Saturday, 20 June 2020

My Second Quilt Block — Kindred Kitchen

FQS Snapshots Kindred Kitchen Quilt Block crafted by eSheep Designs
A peek at my Kindred Kitchen quilt block...
Having made my first quilt block ever and having enjoyed it to a certain extent— though not to the extent of actually wanting to make the whole quilt — I decided to make another block, slap it on the back and have a reversible mini quilt.

Even though I don't typically use an apron — and therefore would never think of sewing one for myself — this quilt block spoke to me.

One of the things that I've been doing more of during our current transition to a different normal is baking and cooking new things; i.e., spending time in the kitchen. It's a bit odd, since I can't say that I really enjoy the process of cooking/baking, but it's hard to argue with finding enjoyment in the results

Therefore, what better theme for a pandemic mini quilt — for me — than one that focuses on sewing time and kitchen time? (By the way, does that sound weird for a 21st century woman to say?)

Here is what the block looks like, completed to spec.

FQS Snapshots Kindred Kitchen Quilt Block crafted by eSheep Designs
Completed Kindred Kitchen quilt block...

I used the same fabrics as I did for the Sew On & Sew On block, only this time, I didn't have to cover up my spirographing fabric. It worked out kinda well for the apron ruffles.

This was harder to do than the sewing machine block, due to the corner piecing that screams "look at me!" when not perfectly lined up. For a first effort, I'm okay with the result, warts and all.


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I added a couple of things to the apron: some trim in the form of the ribbon around the edge of the pocket, which hides the end of a spoon that's meant to be sticking out of said pocket.

FQS Snapshots Kindred Kitchen Quilt Block crafted by eSheep Designs
Added some ribbon trim and a mixing spoon...

Because I added a couple of strips above and below my sewing machine block, I had to add the same to the sides of this block to make them fit together, back to back.

FQS Snapshots Quilt Blocks crafted by eSheep Designs
Both completed blocks side by side...

I didn't do a lot of quilting on this block, just this bit above the bodice of the apron...

FQS Snapshots Kindred Kitchen Quilt Block crafted by eSheep Designs
Close up of the quilting and hand stitching above the bodice of the apron...

... and some free motion squiggles all over the apron itself.

FQS Snapshots Kindred Kitchen Quilt Block crafted by eSheep Designs
Close up of the "free motion" quilting on the main body of the apron...

My white background fabric is textured already, so doesn't really need anything done to it. I did add a line of zigzag stitching on both sides, though, and also hand quilted around the perimeter where the eye chart fabric meets the plain white background.

FQS Snapshots Kindred Kitchen Quilt Block crafted by eSheep Designs
Grey zig-zag stitching added along both sides...

Before clipping the ribbon around the edge, I squared up the two blocks and then zigzag stitched the edges together to reduce the bulk.

FQS Snapshots Kindred Kitchen Quilt Block crafted by eSheep Designs
Wrapped with ribbon as binding...

Then I hand basted the ribbon around the edge. Ribbon is not like regular binding and behaves better if you baste it before sewing. (For other examples of using ribbon as binding, check out my past posts here.)

FQS Snapshots Sew On & Sew On Quilt Block crafted by eSheep Designs
Binding temporarily basted on...

I've been a lot more relaxed about hand sewing these days. No reason to rush anything and I can take it with me outside to sit in the sunshine. Even something as unpleasant as ripping out stitches is so much more enjoyable when it can be done outside in nice weather.


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My sewing machine was running on a needle that badly needed to be replaced, so I changed to a new one just before sewing the ribbon binding. Made a world of difference. (Do you sometimes delay too long in changing out a needle? Guilty here.)

FQS Snapshots Kindred Kitchen Quilt Block crafted by eSheep Designs
It's done! (Notice the little flower pin that I put on the waistband?)

I don't know yet if I will put this quilt under glass like I did with my first mini quilt. After binding, this finished out at 13.75" x 16"; not a typical size for which you can find a ready made frame.

For the fact that it's meant to be displayed on both sides, I'll probably just put some clips on it and hang it as is.

FQS Snapshots Sew On & Sew On Quilt Block crafted by eSheep Designs
Also done!

This turned out to be a highly satisfying project, one that I'm sure to remember in the coming years as to why I chose it. Quite representative of what I was looking for as a way to mark the pandemic. If you've never quilted before, it's an ideal way to stick your toe in the water and create something meaningful and tangible without going whole hog.

image courtesy of Fat Quarter Shop Jolly Jabberblog...

The other blocks are a cake, a tea kettle, a dog, a sundae, a hot air balloon, a bike, a cat, a car carrying a surfboard, a sailboat, and a picnic basket with wine glass. Instructions run from two pages (the sailboat) to seven pages (the kettle and the bike), to give you a rough idea of difficulty.




They have been described as intermediate level blocks, but all of them also have short videos via YouTube, so I wouldn't let that stop you if you've never done this before. If you take your time cutting, labeling and reading, the sewing part isn't that hard.

image courtesy of Fat Quarter Shop Jolly Jabber blog...

Oh, one final observation. If you wondered about the name of this quilt, the back features a camera block ("snapshots", right?) that I have also saved to my future projects folder.

'Til next...




Saturday, 13 June 2020

A More Puzzling Pandemic Puzzle Ball

Rubik's Cube Version of Pandemic Puzzle Ball by eSheep Designs
Solving this may keep you occupied for a while...
When I made my second pandemic puzzle ball out of my tropical leaf rug fabric remnants, I mulled over the idea of making it a true puzzle by having a specific fabric appear on all three sides of each intersection. Sort of like a Rubik's Cube version.

Sometimes, however, your brain just isn't prepared to do the amount of work required by a task — or, the amount of fabric scraps you're working with aren't sufficient to fulfill the goal — so you put it off until the next time.

A couple of weeks later, I was armed and ready with my supply of Remix Metallic, of which I still had four selections.

First, I had to figure out a way to allocate the four fabrics so that none of them repeated on any given plane. My first instinct was to use different coloured pins to keep track, but then tossed that idea when it occurred to me that I might have to take apart the puzzle and didn't want to get stabbed.

Rubik's Cube Version of Pandemic Puzzle Ball by eSheep Designs
Planning for a ball in which each intersection shows the same fabric...

In the end, white electrical tape came to my rescue and I didn't really have to disassemble it either.

Then I transferred all of the data into an Excel worksheet.


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The information that follows will guide you in making a more challenging puzzle ball. I've specified the fabrics required for the top and bottom of each of the three rings that you'll end up making. (Recall that four completed wedge "pillows" are joined together to make a ring.)

Rubik's Cube Version of Pandemic Puzzle Ball by eSheep Designs
This is one side of the first ring...
starting at the lower left corner and going counter-clockwise, the fabric order is 3, 4, 2, 1

For example, the photo above shows the completed first ring, where the wedges are joined together with fabrics showing as 3, 4, 2 and 1.

This order can be found in the worksheet below, on the row marked "First Ring Bottom Layer". (If you're a numbers kind of person, take a closer look and you'll see that each ring actually has the same ordering on the top and the bottom; the sequence is just offset by two.)

My Excel fabric planning worksheet...

For this puzzle ball, you'll need to cut one and a half circles — recall that my original template was provided as a circle — of each of four different fabrics, yielding six wedge shaped pieces each.

Rubik's Cube Version of Pandemic Puzzle Ball by eSheep Designs
Fabric requirements...

Then you'll need a fifth coordinating fabric for the twelve petal shaped pieces, which are the outside edges of the rings. Refer back to my original post here for the full instructions and template download.

A PDF version of this project can be purchased from my Makerist Shop...

but for readers who pay attention, it's also available at no charge by clicking right here.

Rubik's Cube Version of Pandemic Puzzle Ball by eSheep Designs
Coloured pins help keep track of what "ring" each piece will ultimately be on...

To keep track of which pieces belong to which ring, use different colour pins and keep them attached all the way through. In my case, I used purple pins to track the pieces for the first ring, orange pins for the second ring and yellow pins for the third.

Note that each fabric appears only once on each side of the three completed rings. As you sort out and pin your fabric pieces, check this before you start sewing.

Rubik's Cube Version of Pandemic Puzzle Ball by eSheep Designs
The perfect storage solution...

Remember my triple zip box pouch? It was the perfect portable container for me to keep my pieces separated as I sewed, stuffed, and then hand sewed them up — sometimes out in the back yard. Beyond using colour coded pins, you may want to have some way of keeping your fabric pieces and completed wedges separated as you go.
 
Rubik's Cube Version of Pandemic Puzzle Ball by eSheep Designs
Three rings connected and ready to link...

So after you have the three rings completed, what then? How do you solve it, you ask?


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Maybe you want to try on your own first, before reading any further?

Take two rings and insert one into the other to form an "X" shape...

Rubik's Cube Version of Pandemic Puzzle Ball by eSheep Designs
This is the "X" shape you want to form...

... while making sure that each pair of adjacent wedges matches.

Rubik's Cube Version of Pandemic Puzzle Ball by eSheep Designs
Adjacent wedges must match...

Then position the correct matching wedge from the remaining ring and wrap it around the "X".

Rubik's Cube Version of Pandemic Puzzle Ball by eSheep Designs
This actually turned out to be the wrong blue wedge...

I said "correct" because at this point, there are two possibilities for a match, but only one yields the desired result where all of the triangular intersections have the same fabric.

Rubik's Cube Version of Pandemic Puzzle Ball by eSheep Designs
Solved!

If you're afraid that it'll be difficult, let me reassure you that it's not.

I'll admit that the first time I tried to put it together, I thought, am I going to be able to get photos of this thing in its "solved" state? But it turns out that figuring out how to make this — and then actually making it — takes more effort than actually solving it. And once you do it a couple of times, it's easy.

Take it from a person who could only consistently match up one side of a Rubik's cube. ;-)

Good luck and have fun!

'Til next...