To sharpen or not?

I’m talking about the blade of my rotary cutter. (THIS is the post I meant to publish, so you’re getting 2 in one day :))

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They’re expensive! A pack of 5 runs about $50 plus taxes or more, depending upon the retailer. Fortunately, I learned I can print an online coupon for 40% off one, regular priced item at my local Michael’s craft supply store. Right now though, I can’t even afford that.

Being environmentally-friendly and trying very hard not to throw non-biodegradable items (or anything really) in the garbage, I hang on to all my old, dull blades. There has to be a way to sharpen them. Right? People sharpen scissors, kitchen knives and skates. Why not these as well?

And this morning I was finally compelled to Google it 🙂 My current blade is driving me nuts, it’s approaching the likeness of a butter knife. I prefer efficiency when I’m working and when I have to roll my blade back and forth AND back and forth to make a cut. . . . that simply isn’t time well spent. Nor is it enjoyable.

I typed in ‘how to sharpen a rotary blade’ and tried the very first trick (link at bottom of page) I clicked upon. It involves tin foil, something I don’t buy or use anymore (for environmental and health reasons), but actually have because I’ve been saving it for years in the hopes of being able to recycle it one day 🙂

This is my ‘inside’ bag. There’s 10 times more in my shed!

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I located 3 flat, folded pieces and used the 2 smaller ones to begin with. I can honestly say I was underwhelmed with the result.

SO, I employed the larger, much more layered piece. It has so many layers I couldn’t cut through them all.

 

Now, when I go to a particular website, and find a recipe or instructions on how to do something (like sharpen a rotary blade!), I always scroll through the comments. In many cases, I can’t read them all but I can glean the general idea of the success or failure. In this instance, most people said ‘great idea, I’m going to try it’ or ‘it DOES work, on scissors too’.

The author of the article claims it works as well. And I’ve no doubt it probably does. For them.

My verdict is this:

I really can’t say for sure if it’s a useful trick. I don’t notice a massive difference in the cutting ability of my blade or even a decent difference. Maybe it’s slightly better. Maybe it’s a placebo effect and there’s no improvement at all, lol. Perhaps it’s because I mainly cut denim. I don’t know. This was not the OMG, so amazing moment I was hoping for.

I was relieved to find one commenter who said ‘tried the trick, it does not work’. Someone else said it didn’t work for them either. At least I’m not alone. It didn’t hurt to give it a go though and it certainly didn’t make my blade duller. Now I’ll just do some more Googling and see what else is recommended. I have enough blades to experiment with.

http://pennyshands.blogspot.ca/2011/03/how-to-sharpen-your-rotary-cutter-blade.html

 

Creativity. Use it!

I’ve learned a lot about being frugal in the past year. Being financially strapped will do that for you. And I actually highly recommend it! Many of us never consider how many squares of toilet paper we use. Or how much further inexpensive rice or pasta can make a meal go. Toothpaste, shampoo, laundry soap. When we run out, we run out and buy more!

But what happens when you don’t have the money for “necessities”? You get creative. And frugal 🙂 You begin to understand a tiny blob IS enough. You ration your food (and hey, some people can handle that!). You start to realize we have so many luxuries we take for granted.

Yesterday, with the record breaking warm temperatures we’ve been experiencing, I was outside often. It’s time for massive yard work. And I’m easily annoyed when I have to remove my shoes and put them back on repeatedly.

I thought to myself, “I need some slip on shoes. But they’re all probably made in China!”. And I refuse to buy anything from there. I have plenty of reasons why; their appalling environmental pollution, their ivory trade, how they contaminated the honey industry, their animal testing. I could go on and on. I’ll restrain myself however 🙂

I’m also on a huge anti-buying spree in general. If I can reuse something for a new purpose, I do. I recycle. I refuse. I reduce. In other words, I try. This planet matters. There was a time, when I was young and foolish, that it didn’t. I have much to make up for!

So back to the shoes. I needed some slip ons. And I remembered I have old runners in my shed. Old runners that are too small! Yep. You’re a kindred soul if you figured out what I did. I cut the heels out of them! And now I have slip on shoes, lol. (One so far anyway). I don’t care if they’re pretty or not. I didn’t have to buy them AND I’ll get tons of use from them. Annoyance is gone.

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THAT is what I like to call ‘using your noggin’. Or mine, in this case. It’s like the broken crock pot that’ll become a planter in the garden soon. Or the weathered fence board I’m turning into a ‘No touch, no talk, no eye contact’ sign. Or the vintage door knobs from the house I grew up in becoming a coat rack.

My point is, throwing things away, into the never-stops-growing landfill, isn’t always necessary. Even if YOU won’t repurpose “garbage”, someone else will. Say NO to the landfill and ask friends or family if they want what you don’t. Or donate it. Place a free ad online, giving away FREE stuff. Heck, put it at the end of your driveway with a FREE sign on it. Someone will take it.

Now, I’m off to cut my other shoe. Have a fabulous weekend everyone!

Thread! Again.

I wrote a post recently on thread, how one of my local sewing supply stores (Fabricland) offers lower prices, if you’re a member, and my way of circumventing the need for a membership.

I very rarely buy material. Most of my creations are from salvaged items; mainly old jeans. I’m big into the 4 R’s! Reduce, reuse and recycle being the most commonly known. There’s variation on the 4th R; rethink, recover, rescue, repurpose. I even saw ‘rot’ once, which is composting and can be considered as recycling. Personally, I love revive! Yes, it means reuse but sounds so much better 🙂 It’s good to try and follow all of these.

Before I go permanently off topic though (the health of this planet is extremely important to me), let’s get back to material. I very rarely buy it. . . blah, blah, blah. And the printed fabrics I use were given to me. I don’t anticipate requiring more for years. A paid membership wasn’t feasible when thread was usually the solitary item on my shopping list.

I hate going into Fabricland to be bombarded with the constant onslaught of sale signs applying to members only.

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Although I’ve never seen thread for that great of a deal to consider buying a membership (renewable once a year), the dramatic sale signs annoyed me. It’s discrimination for not being a member. And that doesn’t sit well with me.

My sister says, “You have a Costco membership”. True. I did (it expired). But, I couldn’t get into the store without one. I can go into Fabricland either way . I just can’t reap the benefits unless I have a membership. So it is different, in my opinion. It’s a blatant ‘NO sale price for you! You need a membership! Na, na, na na, na!’.

If I didn’t have a Costco card, I simply wouldn’t shop there (like I don’t now, lol) and I wouldn’t be witness to all the great deals I wasn’t able to take advantage of. It wouldn’t bother me.

Presently, I go into Fabricland and I see ‘40% off regular prices’ and I think, “Yay!” and then I also see the ‘members only’ and that just irks me. FORCED membership.

I suppose I should’ve clarified I’ve never seen thread for that great of a deal because I’m hardly ever in there. And I don’t follow the flyers. However, my recent purchase led me back less than a week later. I had 7 days for refunds or exchanges and I’d decided the $5.89 – 500 m spool of thread wasn’t vital to my sewing needs. I’d swap it for 2 of the incredible $4 – 1500 m spools. Three to seven times the amount of thread for a fraction of the cost should’ve been a foregone conclusion, especially when penny pinching! $35.34 vs. $8?

I was clearly not doing the math prior to purchasing. I know, I know, I didn’t buy 6 – $5.89 spools but I’d need to in order to end up with 3000 m. And I would’ve. Eventually.

Well, guess what? Those amazing $4 spools are on sale for $1.50!! For members only of course! They fit fabulously on my old Singer sewing machine with a small touch of ingenuity.

020Plastic wrap (clean, saved and now used for something!) crammed in the spool and voila! No transferring thread to smaller spools as I’d originally planned.

So I have another decision to make. Thread is a staple for anyone who sews. It won’t go bad. 12 spools at $1.50 each would recover the $30 membership fee.

Yes, it’s a massive amount and it’s the equivalent of paying $4 each.

But then I’d be completely set for future savings. All else (on top of those 12 spools) selling for a fantastic price, or even just a good one, would be true savings. Surely I’ll be in Fabricland enough over a year’s time to make a membership worth it??

I’ll require needles for my sewing machine soon. I do buy Ultra Lite Heat & Bond on occasion. Perhaps I’d be persuaded to browse through the ‘fat quarter’ section as they do rather intrigue me. And I’ll forever use denim thread.

What would you do? Swallow your distaste of forced memberships and buy one? Or pass on it, purposely forget everything else, and keep in mind $4 is still phenomenal compared to the smaller, more expensive spools? I also spotted 5000 m spools of thread for $8!! I haven’t even begun to calculate the savings on those! I once never would’ve contemplated buying thread in bulk and now I’m hooked! It’s fab-U-lous! 🙂

The savings alone (ranging from $17-$25 for each $4) on that thread more than makes up for higher, non-membership costs elsewhere . . . . . . doesn’t it? Or are we so programmed that we can’t feel like we saved cold, hard cash unless we see an actual, bona fide SALE price on our receipts?

That’s where I am. Do I buy a membership so I have undeniable, in-my-face savings? Or do the math each time I purchase bulk thread to remind myself I REALLY am still saving plenty of money? I fear I’ve been brainwashed because I’m leaning toward a membership. I need that tangible, here’s my Club card, give me the lower price shopping experience.

And isn’t that ridiculous?

 

Save money on thread!

I love saving money (especially when I don’t have an abundance of it) and what I discovered yesterday is too good not to share. If you sew, pay attention! If you don’t already do this, you just might want to begin 🙂

Anyone who’s read my blog knows that I make denim quilts. A lot of my stitching is “behind the scenes”, meaning you’ll never see it. When I attach 2 pieces of denim together, I use whatever thread I have on hand, no matter the color. For top stitching, which you do see, I generally use a specific denim thread.

Since I was running low, I stopped at Fabricland on my way home from work yesterday. It’s close to where I live, so it’s convenient but I really don’t like shopping there. The store is often ablaze with cardboard, neon signs such as “Buy 1, get 1 (or even 2) FREE” or “Take 40% off the regular price!”. Sounds good? It is. Until you also see the “Members only” written in the corner.

And that irks me. I HATE feeling like I’m being forced into paying for a yearly membership just to get the odd sale price on thread. I very, very rarely buy material. I use old jeans for the most part. But NOW I’ve gotten around the whole membership issue and I’ve hugely reduced some of my thread expense. I had a brilliant, light bulb moment!

Here are the types of thread I usually purchase.

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The first is a 500 m spool, $5.89 regular price. That kind of hurts considering how quickly I go through it. The second and third spools are designed for use with denim and I like them because the stitching “disappears” if the denim is just the right shade. Their prices are $3.89 for 200 m and $2.00 for 114 m. Ouch and ouch as well, unless I snag them during a great sale. I have. Only once. I wish I’d loaded up!

And then there’s this next spool of thread.

012It’s for a specific type of sewing machine, a serger. I don’t have a serger so these extra large, uneven shaped spools had remained off my radar. But while I was looking at threads and bemoaning the prices, I saw these big spools and I began to think. It’s thread. Right? I could use it. Couldn’t I? OH YES.

Oh yes, I can!

Last night, I grabbed several empty spools (it does help to keep everything, lol) and as I watched Netflix, I transferred thread from the big spool to the smaller ones. My savings are phenomenal. If you have the stubborn determination I do, you can save money as well.

The serger thread, at 1500 metres, was only $4.00! Four dollars. Four smackers. Four bucks. Even without doing the math for you, you can easily see I saved plenty of money. And I’ll save more in the future because this is what I’ll do for all my hidden stitching and even some of my top stitching. I’m actually thankful for this financially strapped phase I’ve been experiencing. It’s making me look at money spending in all new ways.

I have 4 partial spools, I’ve learned I can put MORE thread on them, so I will from now on. I’m so happy. I am easy to please though!

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I think most of us can be frugal, we just don’t think about it unless we absolutely have no choice.

Okay, I have to show the math anyway. It’s so amazing!

  • 3 – 500 m spools x $5.89 = $17.67
  • 1 – 1500 m spool x $4.00; savings of $13.67, yay me!

If I use basic blue thread over denim thread (in some cases), I can save there as well.

  • 7½ – 200 m spools x $3.89 = $29.18
  • 1 – 1500 m spool x $4.00; savings of $25.18!!

If that’s not incentive to ditch the denim thread, I don’t know what is. I believe I just convinced myself. I’d need 13, THIRTEEN, of the smallest spools to equal 1500 m.

  • 13 – 114 m spools x $2.00 = $26.00
  • 1 – 1500 m spool x $4.00; savings of $22.00, another wowzer!

Sew there you have it! Switch to spooling your own thread and save money! Big money, not mere pennies, although those do add up too. My $5.89 brand new spool of thread is going back to Fabricland tomorrow. The only downside to using serger thread is it’s not available in the wide array of colors normal spools are. However, I’ll be pretty satisfied with blue, black and white.

*** Vitally important update: (ha ha) Because I have the kind of mind that likes to figure out how to do something without necessarily spending more money, I put my thinking cap on after publishing this post earlier today. Transferring the thread from big spool to small spool was what I thought was a good plan (Plan A) until I had more time to ponder the situation.

Plan B is so much better! I had old plastic wrap that had been used as packaging (I do save everything!) and crammed a piece of it into the center of the spool and voila! Now it sits nice and tight on my machine, no wiggling, no budging, perfect 🙂 And it was 100% free.

I have proof.

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And now I need to sew something!