Quick Tip: Blade Sharpener

My favorite tool in my sewing room is my rotary cutter (though my seam ripper might get more use, haha).  However I have a beef with my 45 mm rotary cutter, the blade always seems dull and skips little sections of fabric.  So, eventually I bought new pack of blades but dulled both of them rather quickly as well.

During one of my late night sew-a-thons, I got frustrated with the dull blade.  I had, what I thought at the time, was a stroke of genius.  I decided to try to sharpen my rotary blade using our kitchen knife sharpener.


It worked okay for that evening, but was dull again the next time I wanted to use it.

After much frustration with the dull blades, I finally broke down and bought this tool.  I got it at Joann’s when they were on sale, which is about every other week.  The two sides of the handle screw together with the blade in between and then you twist it around both sides of the sharpener, a rough side then a smooth side.  It works great so far.  I’ve used my rotary cutter several times since sharpening it with this tool.


I feel like I must mention that my first attempt at sharpening my rotary blade with my kitchen knife sharpener was a little dangerous.  Just pinching the edge of the blade while running through the sharpening groove provided very little stability and my fingers could easily slip.  But I also have to be careful using the blade sharpening tool that I bought.  Getting the blade between the two handles and then screwing them together is a little precarious.  Then once it’s attached, there is still a quarter of an inch of blade sticking out, just ready to slice a finger.  So, be careful!

Happy sewing!

By |July 28th, 2014|Quick tips|0 Comments

Cork Board For The Playroom

My kids create massive quantities of art work, a lot of which I feel compelled to keep.  I put quite a bit in my cubicle at work.  I have a name for my cubicle, kinda cheesy, but I call it the COMA, like the MOMA but Cubicle Of Modern Art, because children’s art work definitely has a modern vibe to it.

I also wanted some place to display some of their artwork at home, so I decided to make a cork board for our play room.  When I was at Michaels one day, I noticed they had rolls of cork so I bought oneand also a poster size frame.  I chose a white frame because the toy bins I bought for the room are also white.

Post er frame  & cork roll

The cork roll is a little longer than the poster frame, so it will need to be cut down.  I used an X-Acto knife.


Then I simply glued the cork to the inside of the back of the picture frame and discarded the clear plastic sheet that would have protected a poster.


I decided the best place to hang the cork board would be above my girls’ art table.  Here’s the finished product.


I would recommend using thumb tacks instead of push pins.  The cork isn’t as thick as the length of the pin and the thumb tacks have a slightly shorter pin.



Happy crafting!


My 2nd Crib Quilt

My best friend already had two boys when she told me she was pregnant with a girl.  I was so happy for her to get to add some pink to her life!  She decided to let her youngest son and baby girl to share a bedroom to start off.  Remembering what the bedroom looked like, I decided that the baby would need a quilt to make her side of the room more girly.  But, the quilt also needed to coordinate with the current colors of the room, so I specifically chose some fabrics that contained blues and greens.

Most of my sewing projects start with some fabric that I “must have” and then I figure out what to do with it later.  In this case, I made a special shopping trip for the project, but I did come away with some prints that I love from the Cloud 9 fabrics line called House and Garden for Joann Fabrics.  I also used a cute owl print and a blue floral.  The only fabric that I sort of regret is the pink and orange chevron.  I like it on it’s own and in the store the colors matched well with the owl print but its a stark contrast to the rest of the fabrics.

I’m not sure what I was thinking when I started cutting the fabric, except that I was super excited about the project.  Usually I OVER plan things, but that day I made a sketch and one template for the angled strips, but didn’t really calculate any measurements at all.MaelynQuilt1

So, without much planning, I just started sewing away the diagonal strips, which were probably 3 inches wide.  And since I didn’t measure anything, I ran out of fabric.  As you can see in the picture of the sketch, I erased the middle section of the quilt and added a band of the Tweety Tweet Blue print across the  middle.  So, I cut the panels of diagonal strips in half and turned the them inward so the middles touched.

MaelynQuilt2This is a picture from when I was working on the placement.  To mask any imperfections in way the diagonals met up, I decided to add strips between the panels.  Although, I don’t actually think that the seams were off by much.  At first I had yellow strips of fabric between the diagonally pieced panels, but then I decided that was too busy.  So I ripped them out and changed it to white.  Now I wish I had used the Tweety Tweet print.

My other fail with this quilt was the quilting itself.  As I did with my first quilt, I just stitched in the ditch.  At this point, I still hadn’t read anything about how to sew a quilt.  I didn’t know about using a 1/4 inch seam or even how to straight line quilt.  I have told my friend that I want to get the quilt back and straight stitch the along the seams, but she lives about 2 hours away and then her baby girl would actually have to give up the quilt for a night.  Maybe it will happen one day.

However, a major plus for the quilt is that I used a yellow dotted minky for the backing.  Children LOVE it because it’s so soft; that’s the same reason I love it actually.  And its really durable too.  Based on experience with another crib quilt I made, the minky isn’t too hard to get through the sewing machine when quilting even though its thick.  I just sew slowly and use a walking foot.


Overall, for my second attempt at sewing a quilt, considering I didn’t really know how to quilt yet, I like how it turned out.  It’s definitely more complicated than my first one.  And, the baby loves it, so that’s what really matters!

Happy quilting!

By |July 14th, 2014|Quilting|1 Comment

Why Didn’t I Do This Earlier???

Since I had my first child 4 years ago, I have been brainstorming and taking actions to start my own business, or buy a small business.  When my oldest was about 4 months old, my husband and I put an offer on a laundromat that was for sale.  That deal fell through due to poor booking keeping by the seller.  But I didn’t give up there.  I haven’t tried to buy another laundromat; good ones are hard to find (although actually there is one for sale right now that I would like to at least visit with a broker).

After my second child was born I opened an Etsy shop called The Jewel Farm where I sold jewelry making supplies.  I had recently taken up jewelry making as a hobby and was able to find a wholesaler for the supplies.  I bought semi-precious stones, silver and gold plated findings from overseas then split them into smaller quantities for sale.  Unfortunately, the jewelry supply shops on Etsy are dominated by sellers from China and they have much better prices and larger selections than I could offer when I was just starting out.

And ultimately, jewelry making is not a real passion for me.  I didn’t want to learn everything about it, soldering metals, setting stones, etc.  I just liked making simple beaded necklaces.  Sewing is my passion.  And the longer I do it the more I love about it and the more I want to learn about it; the fabrics, pattern making, and I even enjoy quilting now.  I have tried so many crafts over the years.  I have had supplies ranging from dyed lambs wool for needle felting to canvases and oil paint.  I never did much with any of them, but all the while I always had at least one sewing project going on.  Even in college, when I didn’t have a sewing machine, I would sew skirts for myself by hand!

All in all, the Etsy shop was a good experience and I’m glad for all I learned during the past 3 years of managing that shop.  I must give credit to my sister, of Smarty Pants Paper Co., who helped me get started and showed me the ropes.

She showed me how to set up my Etsy shop and use the correct policies and shipping profiles.  She also gave me a photography cheat sheet to help me take the best possible picture of the merchandise and then edit them in Photoshop.  I have a nice camera, tripod, and a light box, but I still struggle with the settings on my camera.  I had to take a few Lynda.com lessons to get better using Photoshop, but even though my Etsy shop is closed, I am so glad to have that skill set (limited as it may be) because I edit pictures all the time now, even just pictures of my kids that I post to Facebook!  Speaking of, she also helped me set up the Facebook page for my Etsy shop and recommended I start a blog.  All excellent lessons that I will be able to use in my future endeavors.

My favorite thing that my sis did for me was make a logo for the shop.  It could not be more perfect!  I still love it and wish there were some use for it today, but it’s pretty specific to The Jewel Farm:


And this is what the banner looked like for the Etsy shop.


I still have a lot of supplies left, which means that financially The Jewel Farm was a failure, but overall I count it as a success because I learned so much from it and the experience really prepared me for my next steps as a small business owner.  Plus, I can make myself a lot of cool jewelry if I every get some free time.  Ironically, my jewelry collection could use some serious updating!

Until next time…

Happy Sewing & Crafting!