Tag Archives: steam press

Distractions

{NB:  No actual disasters occur in this post.}

(and there are no pretty  or even ugly photos.  Sorry!)

I am struggling to get to my sewing.  Between a sick boy over the last three days, a trip to the Emergency Department for investigation of a suspected arm fracture for the middle chick today (which thankfully was not broken), and rude distractions like housework, cooking and sleeping, I am just not getting that clear time to sit and sew that I want and need!  I have 6 bags cut out, interfaced, and partly assembled……. but not finished!

Sigh.  In the meantime, as a distraction for the middle chick from the pain etc, we spent time designing her new school bag……which now needs to be made.  If it works as we imagined it then I will have a whole new design – a messenger bag that can also be a backpack.  I will keep you informed about its progress as I try to work out where to fit it in the list of priorities that sits on my desk!

What I had hoped to write about tonight is my exciting new purchase – therefore I will, even though I have no pretty photos to show, or even good results to report!

Yesterday I became the proud owner of a Brother Scan’n’Cut machine.  I stumbled across this when looking for ideas on how to streamline my applique process.  (I love making my applique bike and word cushions but they take so long to draw, cut out and then sew on, that I can’t justify the time it takes versus the price I feel comfortable charging for them.)  This machine allows you to scan in your image (or use one of the 800 odd programed patterns including quilt pieces) and then cut it out of paper, card or fabric!  Ah-ha!  If this machine can remove the drawing and cutting part of my applique process and I then just have to sew, then I can make them again and be charging prices that cover the cost of labour, and are still affordable!  (Of course my mind has already run away with itself imagining the possibilities that the machine opens itself up to!)

Last night I decided that I was too worn out to try and use it, and instead I set aside time today while the children were at school to play with it.  And then had the trip to hospital in the allocated time.  Late this afternoon I decided to tackle it.  I was hot, tired and cranky.  Foolish, foolish girl!

After setting it all up (very straightforward) and reading the instruction booklet (sort of) my first error was made when using the provided iron on applique sheet (the first step) – and putting it on upside down, and forgetting to use my pressing cloth, so that instead of fusing to my fabric it fused to my steam press.  @#$%^&**!!!!  (I have now removed the majority of it I think……..  but it took quite a while!)

My next error was not checking my scanned image to check that the lines that were to be cut were the ones I wanted.  Sure I eyeballed it to check that there were no lines missing……. but I didn’t enlarge the image as recommended, and therefore missed the fact that I had hit the wrong button and the machine now thought that I wanted a cut line on either side of the drawn line…..so I was cutting the outline of the lines instead of cutting the lines (if you know what I mean.)

This resulted in very tiny slices of fabric around the body of the applique that were so thin that they broke as I was removing the fabric from the mat, and left the body of the applique too thin to sew (and parts of it also broke due to their being too thing).  Then I made my next error – pulling the fabric off the tacky sheet that holds it in place for cutting.  If I had followed the instructions and used the provided tools to lift it I would not have made such a mess of the mat, and would not have left so much fabric fluff and iron on gunk behind.  (None of the errors were the fault of the manufacturers.)

At that point I went and lay on my bed and listed my errors to my middle chick who was lying in there enjoying the cool and quiet while she rested her arm.  Her response was to ask what was for dinner. Hmmmmmm……  wrong audience obviously.

I then spent half an hour helping the eldest chick to search for things she needed for her martial arts class.  I emptied baskets, moved piles of ‘stuff’, and generally messed up a lot of what I had been tidying and sorting.  When I couldn’t find it all I was ready to confess to her instructor that we need to perfect the process of moving the chicks between the nest and their father’s house and that it wasn’t her fault that the things were missing as we had mucked up the part where she would be responsible for her own stuff, when her step-mother rang just in the nick of time to say that she had found the missing items and could drop them at class.  Phew!  No public and humiliating explanations of our disorganised life required!

After a day of no actual disasters, and lots of good outcomes (I missed mentioning a trip to the fabric shop that had a 50% off sale that saw me stock up on bright stripes, spots and solids for lining my bags) I am calling it quits and will start again tomorrow, fresh, calm and cool.    And I will sew at least one bag to completion.  And I will cut out an applique with my new ‘helper’ (sounds so much more professional than ‘toy’) and show you a photo, so that I can prove to myself that I can do it!  And I will design the construction of the middle chick’s new school bag.  And I will remember that doing complex things when hot and tired is not the way to succeed!

I hope that your day was also full of no actual disasters and lots of good outcomes and that you get to have a fresh start tomorrow too!

P.S.  If that sounded like a pep talk to myself, reminding me that nothing bad actually happened, and motivating me to have a different sort of day tomorrow, you may be onto something…..feel free to share in my positive spin attempts, and to recast your own day into one where no ACTUAL disasters occurred. 

 

A new toy!

I was so excited to see my favourite postman arrive this morning to deliver my indulgent purchase of a few weeks ago – a Singer ESP2 steam press!  I am hoping to cut my interface applying time dramatically by using it, so will keep you informed how that goes.  I haven’t used it yet as I need an adapter on the plug but am enjoying just admiring the shininess of it!

(I bought it on Ebay and saved a lot of money but had to wait a bit longer than anticipated for it to arrive and now have to wait another day before I can get the correct adaptor!  I am learning lessons in patience!)

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I also popped out to our local Spotlight to buy up in the sale that started today.  I found this gorgeous black and white cotton duck – the possibilities are divine!

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As all the interfacing was 30% off, and as I only had the eldest chick with me, I spent some time examining it more closely than my usual ‘rush in and rush out’.  As a result I have two new types to experiment with – a very stiff woven sew in interfacing, and some buckram – fusible and relatively stiff too.

Isn’t it funny how life works.  I was investigating different interfacings a few days ago as I want to do some bulk ordering to save money, and save running out of the one that I prefer (which can only be bought by driving into the next state on a round trip that takes a minimum of 1 hour.)  During my searching I came across the term buckram, learnt that it was a woven stiffener and didn’t think much more.  Then today I saw it and recognised the name and thought I would experiment a bit.  I have now done some research and understand a lot more about it!

Buckram appears to have been one of the first stabilizers invented (and Wikipedia tells me that the word “bokeram’ was used in the Middle Ages).  It is a cloth woven of cotton, and often soaked in starch to provide stiffness, that can be used for making hats (when wet, moulded over a hat form and allowed to dry), and is the stiff woven cover used on hardback books.  Modern applications also include providing the stiffness at the top of pleated drapes/curtains, and inside the front of baseball caps!  Once I knew all of this I realised that I had always been aware of it – just didn’t know what it was called!  So there you go – I learnt something new!  Now to work out the best project to maximize it’s potential!

In other news I discovered today that Apple offer a trade-in on dead iPods.  I took the boy’s iPod Touch in to see if it could be salvaged after he somehow bent the port for the charger so it couldn’t be charged (I really don’t know how), and after some valiant efforts by the staff at the “Genius bar” (boy do I need to get a job there so my official title can be ‘Genius’) we all agreed that it was beyond saving.  The Genius that was serving us then explained their recycling program and the discount for replacing like for like – which really took the sting out of a dead expensive gadget!  I didn’t know about that before, so thought it was worth sharing.

No board game updates tonight, as the boy and the middle chick are not home (sleep-overs etc.) but I can report that the eldest chick won 5 out of 6 of the songs that she challenged me on while playing “Just Dance” on the Wii – and that I was able to reclaim some dignity by winning the dancing to “YMCA” – all that muscle memory from my misspent youth kicked in!

Perhaps some sewing might actually occur!  Any suggestions on how best to experiment with the stiff interfacing and the buckram are very welcome!!

 

 

 

Catching Up – and my lessons

Between moving the website, writing my business plan, re-installing my website, and various other necessary evils like sleep I feel that I haven’t had a chance to sit and write a proper post for weeks!  (That would be my overly dramatic side showing through again.)  So many little things have happened that I would normally share with you that I thought it was time for a catching up post!

First of all I hope that you all had a peaceful holiday period.  I certainly did!  The chicks were off visiting their grandparents with their father and I had this quiet, clean (except for my mess) house where I didn’t have to be responsible for anything or anyone except the animals and myself.  It was just what I needed after the turmoil of the weeks/months/year before Christmas and just what my health needed.  I didn’t do any sewing until about the 4th of January!  Then I made this bag which was a custom order left over from last year.  I love the colours that she chose!  I also made myself a new cushion cover, given that all my sewing recently has been for other people.  I love this fabric!

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I did however set up a new sewing room.  I have commandeered the spare room that had been occupied by the eldest chick earlier in the year, and then by the au pair, and then my mother when she came to our rescue.  Although it would be nice to give the chicks a room of their own each, I have decided that I need to start putting myself first a little more (one of my recent learnings) and that most of us survived sharing a room with our siblings until we left home, so the two chicks who are sharing a room will be just fine!  I have a little tweaking to go with the set up, but so far am really enjoying the space.  It also has the best light in the house – especially in winter when it becomes a sun trap.

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I also spent a few days focussed on working on my business plan.  You know – the one I started back in July and then kept meaning to work on?  I am still not finished, but I do now have a clear vision of what I want to achieve with my making and selling, and how I need to think about overheads and pricing.  The Right Brain business course that I did encourages you to make collages to capture things like your competition, perfect customer, brand values, etc.  I enjoyed that much more than I thought I would!  It also helped when I was writing an application for a Handmade Market – I just had to turn my pictures into words!  Another good lesson learnt!

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Part of the planning process is looking at your money.   Hmmmm…..at worst depressing and at best thought provoking.  That process prompted me to also look at setting up accounting software etc….. but after a day or so of trying to do that I realised that I am not ready for any of that.  My buying, making and selling can be accommodated in a simple excel spreadsheet.  When I become a mega-industrial mogul with warehouse sites etc maybe I will need to use the software products I was exploring but until then keeping it simple is just perfect!  Phew – one less thing to worry about, and another lesson to add to my list.

One of the ideas that I have been playing with for a long time and that I am putting into action soon, involves developing some graphics that are precise (like pattern pieces for example).  So I downloaded a trial copy of Adobe Illustrator and did some tutorials to see what I could do.  Many, many hours/days later I finally came to the realisation that I am not a graphic designer and that I need to outsource that to someone who is!  The upside of all of those hours?  I now understand what is needed to give really good instructions to the graphic designer!  Yep – another useful lesson!

In the midst of all of this I realised that I wanted to move the site to be self hosted.  In hindsight I could have taken a different approach to that and made it easier on myself, but after learning all sorts of new jargon and processes it seems to be up and running!

I also did a bit of assessing my stock.  I took an inventory of my fabric (boy was that hard – trying not to get distracted by pieces I had forgotten I had!), and of my bits and bobs – zips, slide buckles, etc.  A bit of time on Ebay saw most of that addressed, so the parcel man has been a regular at the front door and will be for another week or so!

All of that really did take up a lot of time and headspace!  I was a hermit for most of the holiday period, with the exception of a lovely dinner with friends on Boxing Day, and visits from Ms C, one of my dear friends who also helps me to brainstorm and problem solve.  I was feeling great and thinking that perhaps I didn’t need to be on leave for long while recovering from all the events of last year.  I got a bit cocky, forgot that I have limitations on what I can and can’t do, and organised a bit of socialising.  I caught up with the MIML, and a couple of really good friends, and that turned into eating three meals out in one day.  Mmmm…fun but very, very foolish.  A good reminder that I can’t run around like I used to, and need to pace myself and do only one thing at a time.  Really.  Timely really, as the chicks are returning this week and I need to be able to look after them properly, on my own.  So my mantra is two edged.  Keep it simple.  One thing at a time.  Wish me luck!

All of this means that my sewing, despite my very best of intentions, has been slow.  However the small bits that I have done have also helped me to look at my processes, assess them and think of ways to refine them.  Two more purchases have resulted.  (And probably the last for a while given that there is a lot of spending going on and not a lot of making/selling!).  The first is a photographic light cube tent – a white polyester box that pops up and is used to take product shots with even light etc.  After having my professional shots done I realised that my own photography is very inconsistent, so this is the first step towards addressing that, and reducing the time spent trying to get it right!  (I just keep learning don’t I?)

The second investment?  A steam press.  One of those gadgets that irons your clothes/fabric etc between two surfaces.  I am hoping that it will dramatically cut the time I spend attaching fusible interfacing and fleece!

Oh – and a third purchase as a result of a request by a friend to make up a particular product for her (that I will share if it works) is a cast iron press for attaching plastic snaps to fabric.  The potential for replacing hook and loop was enough to make me think that it is a good long term investment!

Now that the bank balance is so drastically reduced it is probably time for me to simply knuckle down and get back to the stuff that I actually love – sewing!

Oh – I had another lesson during this time.  It is VERY difficult to give chickens oral medicine.  The ridiculous antics that I got up to in trying to achieve this were worthy of a comedy sketch, but completely hopeless at actually treating my poor chooks who have been infested with lice.  However today the vet set me up with syringes with needles to inject them and that took seconds to administer, required no antics, ridiculous or otherwise, and will hopefully see them healthy and well again very soon.

I also had to break it to the boy that his favourite climbing tree is a little less than it was following a big storm.  Think we will be off to the garden waste place with a trailer this weekend!

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You might have seen that I have started a newsletter subscription thingy.  My plan is a monthly newsletter with links, tips, some giveaways, etc.  I am gathering together all my ideas for the first one, so do sign up so that you can enjoy the things I am finding for you!

Now it is time to go and sew.  I hope that your week is going well and that any lessons you are learning are positive, affirming ones!