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

 

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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?

 

Hooray for prototypes

Prototypes (aka “guinea pigs”) are often a necessary step in the design process. Personally, I find them to be extremely beneficial. Since I’m stubborn in wanting my denim pieces to be “all mine”, I avoid Googling for help or for patterns. I ponder matters, like edging a quilt or lining a reusable shopping bag, until I think I have a good idea. And then I go from there.

Sometimes I have success from start to finish, sometimes I get stuck and stay that way for ages. But I always learn what to do, or not to do.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not delusional. I’m well aware I’m not inventing something amazingly new and unique. Quilts, shopping bags, place mats, etc., already exist. I just like knowing I didn’t follow another designer’s steps.

Late last year, I began what was supposed to be a tote bag/purse of sorts, to be worn over one shoulder and rested on the opposite hip. My current purse is like that and I prefer such a style because it feels safer when I’m in the grocery store or walking through the mall. It would be more difficult for a thief to grab!

However, the design I had didn’t work out so well. My sewing machine wasn’t strong enough to go through the multiple layers of denim, batting and cotton. Until recently, the half completed bag sat on the sidelines. But now it’s done! And it’s a reusable shopping bag instead. With short handles. And wonky stitching up each side 🙂

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Looks can be deceiving! This bag holds plenty of books, so it will do fine for groceries. I wouldn’t have chosen white lining though, for a shopping bag. It will be dirty in no time!

The value in what I learned will aid me in future projects. So even though this bag has it’s flaws, it served a great purpose as a prototype. Handles – check. Lining – check. Band around the top – check. Inside seams – do them differently next time!

I’m in need of a new purse, the zipper on mine is broken. With my constantly growing aversion to buying brand new items, I’m designing a purse in my mind. I can make one! Over the shoulder, snaps or flap? Pocket on the outside? Or inside. Plain denim? Or fabric sporting Winnie the Pooh?

SO many ideas. . . . . and only 2 hands and 24 hours in each day!

Another quilt completed

For me (a life long procrastinator), it’s odd to finish things! I’ve been trying very hard to turn over a new leaf (like every year) and complete my projects from beginning to end. Of course, I have a mountain of work to tackle. My sewing room (and my mind!) is cluttered with half accomplished items.

But if I’m ever going to make money at my craft, I need to get my act together. Passion for what I do isn’t enough. Organization and follow-through are also vital. Don’t misunderstand me, I have finished stuff in the past, it’s just more common not to. I get stuck on how to attach handles, or how to bind an edge, or I simply get bored and move on.

However, just this morning, I finished a second, experimental quilt. And when I was done, I had to stop and think, “Am I REALLY done? Or is there something I’m forgetting?”. It felt weird because I’m so accustomed to abandoning items mid-way in favor of newer, “more exciting” ideas.

This second, denim quilt began as another one for my dog, Charlotte. It quickly became too large so I changed it into a quilt for myself, with the intention of her being allowed to lay on it also. Normally she’s restricted to her own blanket(s). For those of you who have indoor dogs, you’re probably well aware of how many you can go through. I’ve always had blankets (or sheets) on my couch to keep the dogs off the actual upholstery. Certain fabrics and dog hair do NOT mix!

It’s one reason why I love denim. Dog hair can easily be shaken off of it. And it’s durable, also good for dogs.

I purposely designed this quilt to be long and narrow, for use on a couch. . . . it’s why I named my WordPress blog CouchQuilts. I don’t want my quilts to be stored away in a closet and most people have a couch. And most people lay on their couch from time to time. . . . do you see where I’m going with this? Simply put, I’d like for my quilts to be out and enjoyed.

Rather than posting pictures here, I’m going to do something insanely clever (ha ha! just kidding) and include a link to my Facebook page. It’s strictly for my denim, no other topics like I have on this blog. If you’re feeling adventurous, please go and have a look 🙂

https://www.facebook.com/delightfuldenimdesigns/timeline

If I’m not mistaken (and I very well may be!), you would go into ‘Photos’ and then ‘Albums’. Or my last post is ‘Dog Blanket Number 2’ and it will be right there at the top of my timeline? I haven’t had this FB page for long (hence the 9 likes :)) and I have plenty to learn!

 

 

I made a slipper!

I’ve never really been a fan of wearing slippers. My feet get too hot, no matter what kind. I’m generally sock-less and slipper-less, except of course when I go to town, to work or outside. And then I have no choice but to put shoes on. If I could have bare feet all the time, I would! Mud . . . . okay, I won’t go there.

A short while ago, I had the notion to make denim slippers. And like most new ideas, I get fixated on them, ditching all current projects to see if this next one will work! It’s a terrible, terrible habit and I’m probably never going to be able to shake it.

Instead, I’m learning to live with it 🙂 I am who I am.

So last night, I grabbed a piece of paper, traced my foot and got busy. I opted for doing a slipper completely from scratch, meaning I winged it as I went along. I’m very stubborn when it comes to making any of my denim items. I avoid Googling for patterns and take it all from inside my crowded head. Sometimes my ideas work, sometimes not so much.

My slipper, and I literally only made one, turned out fantastically! Far from perfect (I’ve given up the dream of achieving perfection, life is easier for it too) and I’ll do future slippers a bit differently but it was still a huge success.

I decided to make an open-toe style, so my feet, er, foot doesn’t get too warm and because it would be simpler for a first attempt. I’m digging on the fringe although it took me forEVER to do it! And I did it crookedly to boot, lol.

All in the learning process, right!? Right! And obviously I need to make an actual pair. This was my experimental slipper and now I know what to do! And not to do.

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My mom’s at the top of my list of those to make some for. She’s a dedicated slipper wearer. Personally, I don’t care if I ever have a pair! I just like making stuff from denim 🙂

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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!