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Saturday, 17 October 2020

What's Your Sign?

Takes me back to the 60s and 70s...
As we reach the heights — or the depths, depending on how you see it — of the silly season south of the border, it seems the right time for a frivolous diversion.

Every now and then, it's fun to explore what one "should" like or prefer, based on some arbitrary point of fact like a birthdate, which is what zodiac signs are all about.

A couple of years ago, I posted about something similar regarding colours, patterns and personality.

Colour and style preferences play large roles in what we choose for sewing and crafting projects, as well as the materials used. I am constantly surprised by how much I like or dislike something (a bag, a pouch, etc.) based on what fabrics were chosen for it.

I think back to the project that consumed much of the month of August here: the crossbody sling bag. Had the original bag — hanging in that market in faraway Honolulu — been made out of a less attractive (to me) material, I would never have noticed it from "across the way". I would then never have purchased it, never would have found it almost perfect for my current shopping needs, and would never have designed my own version of it.

Even more strange, that would mean that maybe one or two of you might not now be making your own version of that bag!

Back to the subject of zodiac signs, though, I've never paid attention to my horoscope on any sort of regular basis. On rare occasions, if I've perused the entire newspaper and I'm still craving something more to occupy my time, I'll go to the puzzle pages or the classifieds, encounter the horoscopes there and give them a read.

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Admittedly, most of the time, they aren't even entertaining.

Even so, I had higher hopes when I came across these zodiac-based amusements. They weren't entire time wasters. Maybe you'll feel the same. ;-)

Quilt Pattern Preference

This first link is from Seams and Scissors, AllFreeSewing's blog. It gives you the usual basic info about your sign and then suggests three quilt patterns that are right for your traits.

image courtesy of Seams and Scissors...

The links go to FaveQuilts, which is a site with free quilting patterns, so if quilting is your thing, so much the better.

This one gave me a bit of a pause. I actually liked two of the ones that were suggested for my sign, but my favourite was the one shown for Sagittarius.

Love of Sewing Ranked by Zodiac Sign

Well, you're reading this because you're already interested in sewing, but here's the lowdown on which zodiac signs are the most into sewing.

I'll spoil it for you: number one is Virgo.

Find Your Perfect Palette

Do you have trouble putting together the right colours when you choose fabrics for a project? Maybe you need to find out what your zodiac sign recommends for you. This little bit of entertainment also tells you what colours to avoid.

image courtesy of nowletsgetgoing.com...

The recommendations for my sign were half right and half wrong... about par for the course. (By the way, I'll be returning to this topic of selecting a perfect palette in a couple of weeks.)

Your Fave Colour as Determined by Your Zodiac Sign

This one's simple. It's a "here is your favourite colour as determined by your zodiac sign" prediction, courtesy of a site called SweetyHigh. (Look for another link at the end that goes into what your favourite colour says about your personality.)

To be honest, I actually have a hard time deciding what my favourite colour really is, but the one assigned to my zodiac is not one that is among my usual faves.

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These next two zodiac themed diversions have to do with home decor.

Your Zodiac Inspired Design Style

Does your sign influence your choice in how you decorate your home or how you wish you could decorate your home? Check it out here.

Here's an example of an eye-catching suggestion for Aries. (I would never do this, but it's eye-catching.)

image courtesy of TonTectonix/Shutterstock

I did not find the one recommended for my sign to be anywhere near my preference at all, while the one for Scorpio was totally up my alley.

Your Statement Piece

From The Spruce, this one tells you what statement piece your zodiac sign would splurge on, if it could.

image courtesy of The Spruce...

Seriously, they all leave me cold, but most notably not to my taste was the one that was recommended for my sign.

On the upside, once you get to the bottom of that page, there are a bunch of links to other like minded articles about how your zodiac influences your tastes. Check them out to see how wrong they might also be. ;-)

Perhaps my problem with these latter two is my dubious interest in home decor, period.

Your 2020 Lucky Colour

Finally, during this horribly unlucky year, here is what astrologist Jim Ventura thinks are each zodiac sign's lucky colours for 2020... whatever that means.

To be fair, this little bit of frivolity came out in early February, before this side of the world was hit by the reality of a novel coronavirus that will render nothing lucky in 2020.

But we do still need diversions from that reality, so I hope these have been somewhat delightful for you!

'Til next...

Saturday, 10 October 2020

Hand Quilted Storage Pod

lalalove couture storage pod crafted by eSheep Designs
My new storage pod...

Did you hear that Craftsy is back up and running? Or, perhaps I should clarify: did you hear that an online crafting video service using the old Craftsy moniker is up and running?

There are still various wrinkles to be ironed out — like some people's former credentials weren't recognized at all (like mine) while others (like my mom's) worked — and it has no plans to be all that Craftsy used to be, but at some level, many people are relieved that they will have continued access to their old "keep forever" classes. I didn't read the TOS, but I'm sure it's vaguely amusing and totally one-sided.

Without a valid account, you can still access articles — i.e., former blog posts — which also includes some of (original) Craftsy's old "mini" classes. Unfortunately, there are still many, many "Free Pattern Fridays" posts which used to round up some of the best indie patterns available in the marketplace that no longer exists. :-(

Using Mom's login, I took a look around to see what else I could find. Surprisingly, her account showed a premium subscription having been purchased August 31 and lasting until mid-October. Since there wasn't a price or credit card attached to the transaction, I didn't fret or inquire about it. I later found out via Facebook that everyone who had ever purchased a class received a free trial.

First thing that I noticed was the lack of any new content. With everything being same old, same old, it occurred to me that YouTube has truly become my "go to" resource for new crafting ideas and learning. The shift has been gradual over the past few years, but it's undeniable.

lalalove couture storage pod crafted by eSheep Designs
Darts give this pod its shape...

Ensuring continued access to the classes that so many people purchased years ago is one thing, but I see no viable path forward for (new) Craftsy, unless it revives the marketplace and community that it used to support. (And all indications are that it has no intention or incentive to do so.)

So that was my long — and almost unrelated — preamble to today's topic, which is the hand quilted storage pod that you see pictured here.

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It's a project I found on YouTube this summer, from a vlogger in France by the name of lalalove couture. The video was uploaded this past April 3 and can be found by searching for bubble basket/storage pod. She provides the full pattern templates and the video itself is very easy to understand.

The pattern includes a hanging/handling loop at the top, but I didn't see the need for one.

lalalove couture storage pod crafted by eSheep Designs
View of interior...

I've long wanted to make something like this, with an angled top edge and overall rounded shape. There is a pattern out there for a similar pod, but realistically, my desire to make one did not equate to the price being asked for it.

Fabrics here are a Robert Kaufman selection that I used for my last fabric origami basket project and my own Ode to the Canadian Penny in lightweight cotton twill, a fat quarter left over after making my shinto stool cushions.

After cutting the fabric for this, we ventured off to our home away from home for several days, so I took the pieces on the road with me to do some hand quilting.

lalalove couture storage pod crafted by eSheep Designs
Closeup of my hand quilting...

With what's happened this year, I've had an increased appreciation for taking things slowly. I'm still not a fan of hand sewing — not at all — but doing this kind of hand stitching is somewhat zen inducing. It's very similar to doodling or colouring. (The project doesn't call for it, but one could also machine quilt the exterior body piece.)

lalalove couture storage pod crafted by eSheep Designs
View of the back of the pod (prior to riveting)...

The paid pattern version of this pod features a bound top edge, which I would actually do if I were to make this again. Some of the seams are quite thick (the exterior fabric being interfaced with fusible fleece) and top stitching through the layers can be dicey. In my case, as I came to within an inch of finishing, my top thread snapped.

lalalove couture storage pod crafted by eSheep Designs
Side view (prior to riveting)...

To ensure that there wouldn't be any hair tearing when it came time to sew the round base (which has to be done once for the lining and once for the exterior), I hand basted the pieces together. Highly recommended.

lalalove couture storage pod crafted by eSheep Designs
View of the round bottom...

I'm quite positive that had I just pinned and sewn, there would have been puckers.

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While I didn't care to add the loop/handle piece to the back edge, I did want to give the pod my own touch. So out came my rivet set once again. Not only do the rivets add visual appeal, they keep the lining in place to a certain extent.

This is a good sized container, measuring 6.75" wide at the base and about 7" high at the back and 3.25" high at the front. (Bigger than the version made from the afore-mentioned pattern for sale, by the way, which some have indicated as being smaller than they'd hoped.)

I see it being quite versatile. From tabletop centerpiece — mine is currently on my dining table holding some pears — to plant pot cover to storage for all types of crafty supplies or toys, this pod has a lot of potential.

lalalove couture storage pod crafted by eSheep Designs
Quite a roomy pod...

Those of you who are beginners often appreciate an assessment of how difficult a project might be. There are eight darts (done twice) that have to be sewn correctly for the pod to achieve its desired symmetrical shape. You'll wind up with a lopsided version if you aren't careful. That said, the vlogger's take on it is almost foolproof and easily followed, even if you've never sewn darts before.

I would say the next trickiest part of the project would be attaching the base to the body. If you follow my suggestion to hand baste first, you'll definitely increase your chances of success.

Oh, and a final tip about topstitching around the top rim (if you don't opt for binding)... before you do so, attach clips generously around the edge and leave it overnight. Then press it with steam. The edge will hopefully be a lot more compressed that way, allowing for easier sewing.

'Til next...

Saturday, 3 October 2020

Specialty Hand Sewing Needles

Specialty hand sewing needles
Did you know that there's a right needle for every job?
When was the last time you bought hand sewing needles?

Or when was the last time you paid any attention to the hand sewing needles that you already have?

Until I bought these repair needles recently, I hadn't purchased hand sewing needles since... I don't know when.

And I paid for that negligence. When I made a version of my portable pocket pouch out of ribbon, the layers were so thick along the bottom that I broke my needle while sewing it up by hand.

More recently, hubby — he who convinced me to sew him a winch cover several years ago — has given me sport sandals and a heavy duty storage bag to repair.

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The sandals were hard enough. The fastener that breaks apart is made out of plastic and to sew a replacement (which we retain from older sandals) back on, you have to drive that needle through the faux leather and back up one of the existing holes in the plastic fastener.

I have to find my way around the red dashed line to do this repair...

I've done this same repair three times; broke a needle once. (He's been buying this same style of sandal over and over and like many things, the quality has suffered over the years. The fasteners on the early ones weren't so brittle or maybe they weren't so plastic.)

Specialty hand sewing needles
These are the needles that I've had since "forever"...

It didn't help that all I had to choose from were these needles. These are technically embroiderers, darners and assorted (multi-purpose) needles.

Specialty hand sewing needles
The "darners"...

Since I wasn't doing much embroidery and darning (of socks?), I usually reached for my assorted pack.

But it was the repair of this storage bag that took the cake — my middle finger ended up being severely calloused and sore for about two weeks — as I had to sew along a curve through plastic "piping". (Yes, I had a thimble, but there were times when I just couldn't do what I needed to do without taking it off.)

The yellow line shows where I had to sew...

That experience led me to pick up the package that you see at the top of this post. And wouldn't you know it, it only cost me $1.50.

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It includes these funky needles.

Specialty hand sewing needles
For the trouble that they save, every sewing kit should have a set of these needles...

The curved ones are labelled mattress needles, but are useful for any type of repair where you cannot access the interior or underside easily.

Specialty hand sewing needles
Unobstructed view of needle tips...

The storage bag repair would have gone a lot more smoothly had I had one of these. If nothing else, most of them seem stronger than what I was using. (Yes, I broke another needle doing that repair.)

Specialty hand sewing needles
Some easy threading sharps for regular sewing...

The package included some self threading sharps as a bonus. As you can see, they have a regular eye for threading in a conventional fashion as well as a "calyx" eye on top that you can just pull against to thread.

Specialty hand sewing needles
All threading should be this easy...

It sounds great in theory, but I could not for the life of me "self thread" these needles without breaking the thread. Perhaps inferior quality had something to do with that difficulty, but since these were not the object of my purchase (and are still otherwise usable), I'm not bothered by it.

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The main features that differentiate one needle from the next are length, eye size and type of point. It bears mentioning that different substrates require needles with different points in order to maintain the integrity of the material. For example, we use ballpoint needles when sewing with knits so as not to cut or tear them.

As seen in this description from a PDF resource courtesy of jjneedles.com, I likely would have benefited from having a needle point that could penetrate the tough plastic edge of that storage bag.

image courtesy of jjneedles.com...

Did you know that in rather perverse fashion, the number assigned as the "size" of a hand needle is inverse to its actual dimensions? The length and girth of a hand sewing needle decreases as the size increases; i.e., a size 1 needle is bigger and longer than a size 12.

For an excellent summary of hand needle types and uses, check out the Hand Sewing Needle Guide put out by the Sewing and Craft Alliance. (It's widely available from different sources online.)

Have you performed any unusual sewing repair jobs? Lemme know in a comment.

'Til next...

Saturday, 26 September 2020

More Fabric Origami

Fabric Origami Tray crafted by eSheep Designs
Easy fabric origami tray...
Have I said that I have a thing for fabric origami?

Yes, many times, as it turns out.

This latest one is a deceptively simple creation, despite first impressions.

It's a box (or tray), and unlike a different paper version that I have sitting on my desk, there are no loose corners that might lift up in the interior of this one. After finishing it with some sewing or riveting, it will not fall apart.

Fabric Origami Tray crafted by eSheep Designs
Those are just creases; nothing about this design is going to flip up or come apart...

Only upon close inspection will anyone realize that this is made from one piece, and likely only you will know that you folded it.

This was a recent YouTube project from sewingtimes (search for DIY Super Easy Candy Basket), uploaded September 7. I added my own finishing touches to it. Whereas she hand-stitched the final folds along the top edge to secure them, I used rivets.

Fabric Origami Tray crafted by eSheep Designs
I added twelve rivets...

The bronze toned rivets are a good match with my fabrics (the floral is a Robert Kaufman; the grey microdot is from my Boundless DECOdent bundle, last used on one of my pandemic puzzle balls) and saved me from having to hand sew some pretty thick layers.

Fabric Origami Tray crafted by eSheep Designs
Try and try again until the folds are just right...

This box starts off as a square consisting of two layers, turned and topstitched. One of the fabrics was interfaced with scraps of Decor Bond.

Fabric Origami Tray crafted by eSheep Designs
Fold beside a hot iron for best results...

The key to successful origami of any sort to start with an accurate cut — i.e., if your starting square isn't square, it won't make the grade — and then fold as symmetrically as possible. I folded and refolded three times until I was satisfied. Fortunately, when you do origami with fabric, you can just press out the mistakes!

Fabric Origami Tray crafted by eSheep Designs
The folds get rather thick with fabric; clips are a must...

Aside from a hot iron with steam, you'll need to have clips to hold some of the thicker folds in place as you go.

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Before I riveted the top edge, I sewed (by machine) along each of the four folds as shown here.

Another modification...

At first, my plan was just to add a rivet in the middle; I didn't know if the punch tool could go through the five layers at the corners.

Fabric Origami Tray crafted by eSheep Designs
Upside down view...

Yes, it was brave of me to find out!

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The finished size of this box/tray is about 6" square x 2.75" deep (I used 1/4" seam allowances instead of 3/8"). Obviously, if you start with larger/smaller squares of fabric, you'll get a larger/smaller finished product.

Fabric Origami Tray crafted by eSheep Designs
It's a nice looking design that can be made big or small...

As with all origami projects that originate in the paper world, try the technique out on paper first to familiarize yourself with the folding process. (Cheap wrapping paper is a good option since it has a discernible front and back side.)

Fabric Origami Tray crafted by eSheep Designs
Make a set in different sizes for gift giving...

The YouTube video provides measurements for two sizes, but you can start with any size square if you work out the details with/on paper first.

Fabric Origami Tray crafted by eSheep Designs
This started out as a couple of 12.75" fabric squares (one side interfaced)...

Do you know of any other square origami that can easily translate into fabric? I've seen a couple that I might try sometime.

'Til next...