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Saturday, 23 July 2016

Winning at AllFreeSewing

(Code has already been claimed...)
A couple of years ago, I threw a "party" here and no one showed up for it.

What happened was that I ran a giveaway/contest without considering that most people want giveaways and contests to be simple to enter. I asked too much, promised too little, and nobody bothered.

But I survived. Not only that, the same week this debacle happened, an editor at AllFreeSewing contacted me, offering the opportunity to put up a designer profile on their site.

It was therefore ironic that several weeks ago, AllFreeSewing threw a party and only one person showed up. Or two, if you count me. It was a Father's Day contest that ran during the week of June 10 to 17, featuring a project each from five different bloggers and inviting comments to select a favourite.

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On June 13, the following comment appeared. (And just for the record, I don't know who "djh..." is.)

From what I could gather, none of the other bloggers mentioned the contest at all (and at least two of them had access to social media platforms other than their blog). I thought, wow — would that I could be so blasé about having my work selected to be featured in a contest. Is it not a big deal? Am I revealing a certain lack of sophistication in having been impressed enough to blog about it? AllFreeSewing has literally hundreds of projects to choose from... wouldn't being chosen qualify as even a "small deal"??

In any case, that one comment turned out to be the only one registered at the end of the contest. About a week later, I contacted AllFreeSewing's editor and asked if the terms of the contest were going to be honoured given the unusual circumstances and she confirmed that they would be, saying therefore that I had won a $50 Amazon gift card. (I would imagine then that "djh..." won a rotary blade sharpener.)

I guess it pays to show up... or show an interest!

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By the way, did you know that an Amazon.com gift card cannot be used on Amazon.ca? (And vice versa. Yes, it's rather perverse.)

Even though Canadians are free to shop on Amazon.com, the two main issues are that 1) some sellers will not ship across the border (so you might see something simply amazing and then be totally disappointed to read that "this seller does not ship to..."), and 2) any deal that says "qualifies for free shipping" does not apply. Not only that, the resulting shipping charge can often be so outrageous as to be higher than the item itself.

With that in mind, I really had to think about how to spend this $50 wisely. For example, over the past few years, some interesting gadgets have caught my eye. Ultimately, however, I tend to look at most of them with the same interest as I do with kitchen tools. (How many kitchen tools do you never use, even though they were purchased for the very reason of saving you work in some manner??) Therefore, I immediately tossed aside the idea of buying small, pricey gadgets that may ultimately serve little purpose.

Sewing/crafting tools that may or may not be useful... (images courtesy of Craftsy)

Thinking generally about what would make my sewing life easier, it didn't take long to come up an answer: a new — larger — cutting mat. Definitely. My original cutting mat and rotary cutter purchase nearly two years ago represented the bare minimum of what I needed.

Take a look at what the the surface of this self-healing mat now looks like...

My small self-healing cutting mat is not doing much healing anymore...!

In truth, the 6" x 18" cutting mat has been an ever increasing source of frustration; it's really hard to use it for anything other than fabric scraps (or very carefully folded yardage). Moreover, it's hard to adhere to the rule of "don't cut in the same place all the time" when you only have a narrow strip to work with in the first place!

Alvin cutting mat
My newest reward is a larger cutting mat!

So you might guess that I was almost giddy when I found this 24" x 36" Alvin cutting mat for a mighty good price: $37.94 USD, shipping included. (I checked... a Fiskars product is cheaper but doesn't ship up here. I can get similarly priced items from Amazon.ca but then I wouldn't be able to use the gift card.) It arrived from California — packed flat — within ten days.

Alvin cutting mat
Using my cutting mat for the first time... what luxury! (Next week you'll see what I was working on!)

My (relatively minor) issue now is that the mat's too big to stay on my table permanently without moving the sewing machine off to one side. But I actually don't sew enough to be cutting swaths of fabric all the time, so it's not a problem to keep it hung up until needed. Speaking of, the first time that I used it, it was as though I had moved into a bigger house... I could cut virtually anywhere!

All in all, I'm very happy with my choice of a "prize" (and still have twelve bucks left over for something else). Thanks again, AllFreeSewing!

Any suggestions on what I might purchase with the remainder? How would you spend $50 on Amazon?


  1. I visit AllFreeSewing a lot, but not enough I guess to have even heard about that contest. Congratulations Rochelle on winning. I bought a similar looking cutting mat on Amazon that is from US Art Supply (ironically made in Taiwan and they carry all sizes of cutting mats) and it's the best mat I have had. As for what else to buy, it depends on what you really need. Other sewing tool or notions? Clothing? I am sure you'll find something. I personally just bought a bolt of Pellon Wonder Under for just over $22 and it's 35 yards. I had been watching this stuff go up and up in price from $28-$39 in 2 days. So I figured what goes up must come down. When it went lower than the $28 price that a blogger had mentioned (by the time I read her blog it went up $5), I jumped on it and bought it. It was 41% less than the highest price and even that price is way cheaper than JoAnn fabrics with a discount coupon. Since I do applique a lot, I will be using a lot of fusible web. Weird how Amazon's prices on certain things creep up and down in price.

    Oh and if I have to jump through too many hoops for a giveaway to enter it, I won't bother. I saw one once that had you comment, sign up to follow them, go to another site and follow them, then follow on FB, Instagram, and so on. Geesh how much do people really want to win something? I suppose if it was a new sewing machine and all the furniture to go with it, but for a spool of thread or a fat quarter of fabric, I don't think so.

  2. I'm so happy for you, Rochelle! Winning a gift card from Amazon (or almost anywhere) is a great prize since you can choose what you want. I've been thinking about ordering a few Clover items from Amazon. One of them I heard about on a video tutorial is a needle threader. My aging eyes find it harder every day to match up the thread with that teeny hole in a needle. There's also a ton of rulers and templates to choose from. Have fun with your new mat..looks like a great choice!

  3. As with so many competitions, the one on AllFreeSewing, from memory, was only open to US residents. There are so many competitions around now, I think it's actually made people less likely to enter - has for me anyway. Add to that the fact that so many are only open to US residents, I can rarely be bothered to click through, read the wonderful item that I might win, only to read the fine print excluding me.

    Had one of my projects been selected as yours was, I would have thought it a big deal and would have blogged about it.

  4. Congratulations on your win Rochelle! I think Pam's right with too many contests and so many of them only open to US residents. The last giveaway I hosted had no entrants either so I gave up on them too! At least it shows that if you're eligible in a competition it's worth giving it a go!!


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