Crafty Organization

I mentioned last week that I had been able to do a bit of reorganizing in the craft/sewing room, so I thought I’d give you a peek.

My dear husband very generously gave me a Cricut machine some years ago. It took up a good deal of space on my work table, so a couple of years ago I told about painting an inexpensive TV cabinet on wheels that would fit under the table and keeping the Cricut there. The only problem was that when I did start to make cards, I didn’t want to take the time to pull the Cricut out and plug it in and set it up. Plus all my cartridges were in a file box, which was ok, but not the best solution.

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Former location of Cricut cabinet

Cartridges in file box

Cartridges in file box

Finally somehow a light bulb went off over my head, and I pulled the cabinet out and placed it against an empty space on the wall. I put the cartridges on one shelf and the other things on the bottom shelf.

Newly organized cabinet in new location

Newly organized cabinet in new location

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Now the Cricut itself plus the cartridges are more accessible, so hopefully I’ll use them more. I feel guilty for having all this stuff and not using it. I’ve started making cards this year since even the basic ones at Wal-Mart have gotten up to$5 and $6 and since I do have stuff to make cards.

I feel like I need to say, too, that a lot of what is in this room has been bought with gift cards given by my family on various occasions and often on sale or with coupons. Plus this is the accumulation of 35+ years.

Also, I had my Cuttlebug embossing folders in a file box, but they didn’t need all that space.

Cuttlebug folders in file box

Cuttlebug folders in file box

I had this cute little plastic box I’d found at Target but hadn’t found a use for it yet, and they fit perfectly. Now they are much easier to flip through.

New Cuttlebug box

New Cuttlebug box

As you can see in one of the above pictures, the Cuttlebug, box of folders, and laminator all occupy the bottom shelf of the TV cabinet.

By the way, does anyone know what happened to Cuttlebugs? I don’t see them in craft shops any more. I guess they probably got replaced by some new machine that I don’t know about. But I love the Cuttlebug. I used it on this card for my son and daughter-in-law:

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I still like the idea of a storage cabinet under the table. though. They still have these cabinets at Wal-Mart, but only in black, and I am not fond of the idea of painting black cabinets white again. I’ve looked at kitchen carts (usually too tall) and other ideas, but everything else is either too expensive or doesn’t fit the space. So I’ll have to think about that a while.

Also, I didn’t think to take a “before” picture, but I did some work in the closet as well. I had a corner cabinet in there that was tipping forward because the stuff I had one it was too big and heavy. Jesse helped me put some pieces of cardboard under the front corner so it wouldn’t tip forward, and I traded all the smaller things that were in the middle bookshelf onto the corner shelf and put the big photo albums and such that I’d had on the corner shelf onto the middle bookshelf (one of those, “Duh, why didn’t I think of that before?” moments). Then I just had a bunch of stuff piled into the right corner. It just recently occurred to me that I could get another corner shelf for the right side (another “Duh!” moment!) I couldn’t find one like I already had on the left, but I found this one on Amazon and was able to get it free with accumulated cash-back points from the credit card. So picture the before photo with a mess in both corners, and now (I ended up having to take two “after” pictures because I couldn’t get both sides in the frame):

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Left closet corner

The pink plastic drawers on the left are two stacked on top of each other. I wasn’t sure if that would work or if they’d topple every time I opened a drawer, but they have worked wonderfully. I did think about them for that under-the-table space, but I was wanting more open shelves there. But they might work – still thinking. 🙂

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Right closet corner

I’m delighted that those corner shelves have really made the best use of that space.

Also, for good measure, I thought I’d show you this:

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All of those boxes on the left-hand shelves hold photos that, hopefully some day before I die, will make it into some of the albums I’ve accumulated through the years. That was before photos went digital.

So — getting things spiffed up in there is inspiring me to spend more time in there – if only I could!!! But getting it more organized will make it easier to do things in there when I do have time.

I am linking up with Tori‘s To-Do Tuesday.

todotuesdy

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A new gadget!

One evening while my husband perused some of the “deal of the day” sites he follows while I was making dinner, he asked me if I wanted a new sewing machine.

No, I replied. My little faithful, uncomplicated Kenmore had served me well for 30+ years now, and I figured I’d just keep using it until it gave out. Besides, those newfangled computerized ones would probably require a significant learning curve to become comfortable with, whereas I knew my Kenmore so well I could operate it almost without thinking.

But he began to read some of the features of the one on sale, and the more he read, the more attractive it sounded. And, I began to reason, when my machine does give out, there might not be a deal like this readily available. So I said, “Sure, if you want to get it for me.” 🙂 So he did.

It arrived last Saturday, and thankfully he was here to help me get it out of the box and figure out some of the diagrams to get started with it.

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This photograph with the light on isn’t as good, but you can see the screen display:

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Some of the basics like threading it and the bobbin were a little hard to figure out: some of the specialty stitches were easy, and I had fun playing with those a bit.

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It will take a while to feel “at home” with it, but that should come with use. It’s supposed to have an automatic needle threader which I haven’t figure out yet but which should come in really handy: I keep a little magnifying glass in the desk drawer for help with threading now. One feature I really like is that there is a little push button on the side that opens a little drawer for all the extra presser feet, bobbins, etc., thus freeing up crowded drawer space.

And, as an added bonus, the sewing machine cover I made for my old sewing machine last year came out a bit too big for it, but – you guessed it, it fits this one nicely. It’s a bit snug, but it still covers it.

As I moved my old sewing machine and began gathering all its attachments, I felt like I should give it a hug for all its good work through the years and pat it and tell it what a good job it has done. But when I feel sentimental about appliances, this video comes to mind:

So even though I am a little intimidated at figuring out things with the new machine, I am looking forward to it as well, and I am thankful for my husband’s love and generosity.

Valentine’s Cards

I have an embarrassingly large supply of materials  to make cards. Most have been picked up on sales or with coupons. I have used some over the years to make personal cards or for projects for our ladies’ group and missionaries, but I have quite a lot on hand still. Often by the time I think of making a card for an event. I don’t have enough time. But this year I determined it make Valentine’s Day cards for the family, and I thought I’d show them to you. I perused my Cards and Papercrafts and Valentine’s Ideas Pinterest boards for inspiration and used a few there as springboards but came up with a few others on my own.

This was Jim’s:

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The key is a little 3-d sticker and the only thing I bought especially for these cards: everything else I had on hand. He’s enjoyed joking that keys to my heart can be bought at Hobby Lobby. 🙂

This was Jeremy’s:

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The inside said “…To wish you a Happy Valentine’s Day.” I think the brown hearts look like chocolate, and they’re a great way to get hearts on a man’s card so it’s more masculine looking than the pink ones I gravitate to. 🙂 I usually make heart-shaped chocolate cupcakes decorated with sprinkles or icing for Valentine’s Day, and I thought these were reminiscent of those or of chocolate candies. Most of the hearts of various sizes on the cards were made with punches.

This was Jason’s:

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The inside says “That’s our love for you,” meaning it’s so great it can’t be measured. I just realized last night or some time this morning that I didn’t have a heart on his. Sorry about that, Jason! Here’s one for you: 🙂

This was Mittu’s:

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The inside says “On Valentine’s Day and every day!” The little envelope was made with help from a template I found by searching online for “small envelope templates.” I have a neat punch that rounds off corners and used that for the words here. By the way, the words were all printed out on the computer with the Bradley Hand ITC font except for the letters for “LOVE” here, and those were from a page of punch-out letters. My own handwriting, I’m sorry to say, would not make for a pretty card. The words on the other cards I cut out with a scissors with a torn-paper-looking edge. That one is a little more forgiving than, say, a scalloped edge. I have a hard time cutting in a straight line, so this particular scissors helps. I have a mini paper cutter for longer straight lines.

This was Timothy’s:

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The inside says, “To our favorite snuggle buddy.” It was inspired by this pin, but when I tried to click through to the site to see if the card maker had instructions or a pattern, I couldn’t find the original site, nor could I find it by searching Google using the terms I thought I had originally found it with. So I had to wing it (pun intended. 🙂 ). Then I realized this card was going to be from both my husband and I, so I needed more than just one adult with the baby bird.

This one was Jesse’s:

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I think the inside just said “Happy Valentine’s Day!”

With the last two, I was running out of both time and ideas, so they are somewhat similar. This was Great-Grandma’s (or Mom, to my husband and me):

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Sorry about the shadow on this one. The inside says, “Your example has taught us how to love….May we show you as much love as you have shown us.”

This was for Jesse’s girlfriend, Meaghan:

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All of the borders were from packages of stick-on strips – very handy! And Hobby Lobby has them on sale 1/2 price pretty frequently in the scrapbooking section.

And on the back of each card was this stamp with either Mom, Grandma, or Barbara written in accordingly:

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They were a lot of fun to make, though they did take quite a bit of time. Actually once I decided what to do for each one and chose the decorative papers, it didn’t take long to put them together: the decision-making was the hardest part.

I’m hoping this will jump-start me into making more cards rather than buying them this year. It will probably depend on how much time I have before each occasion and whether I remember to start on then in time. But I think they add a nice touch.

Occasionally I’ve thought about starting an Etsy shop to sell things like this. But I’d also like to do more writing and various other things, so I am not sure of which way the Lord would have me use my time yet. So for now I’ll just do them as I have time for the family and think about the possibility of expanding on them later.

 

Finished Project: Sewing Machine Cover

Whew! I don’t think I have ever been away from the blog this long before. My oldest son, Jeremy, was here all last week and my husband was off as well. Jason and Mittu and Timothy came over a number of times as well as Mittu’s mother, who was also in town visiting for a few days. Jesse’s girlfriend also came over a couple of times to meet the rest of the family. Between visiting, a few outings, keeping up with groceries and cooking, and then after everyone left recuperating, catching up on laundry, running errands, and more grocery shopping – well, you can see why I haven’t been around much lately. 🙂 It was a wonderful time, though – I’ll probably say more about it on my weekly Friday’s Fave Five.

My sewing/craft room doubles as a guest room. Jeremy would be staying there this visit, and though the room has been a continual work in progress ever since we lived here, I pretty much have it about like I want it with just a couple more touches to finish. One project I’ve been wanting to get to for some months was to make a new cover for my sewing machine. My old one was red (which I don’t care for or use in my decorating any more), Holly Hobbie (which I got over a long time ago), and looked like something had been spilled on it. It was about 30 years old, so I felt a new one was overdue.

Old Sewing Machine Cover

Old Sewing Machine Cover

I’ve been looking up ideas online for some time and gathered them into a Pinterest board for Sewing Machine Covers. Deciding what to do is the hardest, usually longest part of any project for me. This one was my main inspiration, but I didn’t want to do it exactly like that (and I couldn’t get to the original post about it – all I had was the photo).

I finally came up with a plan and got it in my head that I wanted to get it done before Jeremy came – not that he would notice or care about it, but you know how someone coming over is the impetus to get some things done. I didn’t get it completely finished before he got here, but it was far enough along that I could toss it over the sewing machine. I just finished it, or as much as I am going to do with it for now, this morning.

I knew I wanted a sewing machine on front, and this mug rug gave me the idea to add some sewing accessories. I was going to try to just wing it drawing the shapes I wanted, and then decided that the couple of dollars for that pattern as well as this one for the sewing machine would be money well spent. I enlarged the sewing machine pattern by 150% on my printer, but the other pieces are the same size as the pattern except that I cut the pincushion down a bit.

I had never appliqued before, except for one vague memory of an attempt at trying to use the satin stitch on my machine and having thread pile up in a lump at the beginning. So I don’t know why I decided to try to do that on a project like this that needed so much of it, and on a deadline. Glutton for punishment, I guess. 🙂 I did use Wonder Under to fuse the pieces on, but needed to cover the outside edges in stitching so they wouldn’t ravel. Much of the satin stitch actually came out looking like a zigzag stitch. You do have to help guide/push the fabric through while sewing, and it’s hard to get a feel for how much to do that without the stitches spacing too far apart. That really bugged me until one of the patterns I was looking at this morning said a zigzag stitch could be used – so I can just pretend I meant it to be that way. 🙂 It wasn’t until the last item I stitched that it began to look more like a satin/applique stitch.

Anyway – here it is:

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I was going to put a ruffle at the bottom out of the same fabric that I used for the sewing machine applique – but I didn’t leave myself enough room. That is one of my favorite fabrics – it’s from a maternity dress I made during my first pregnancy. 🙂 You can’t really find those shades of pink and blue together on fabric much these days.

I used a fabric that was already quilted for the base because I didn’t want to have to deal with quilting the background fabric (sorry Wendy — maybe next time. 🙂 Wendy is an expert at free-motion quilting on the machine and has been encouraging me to try it).

This was the last item I appliqued where it was just starting to look like I knew what I was doing.

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No, I’m not going to show you a close-up of the zig-zaggy ones! 🙂 Though you can see a bit of it to the right of the pin cushion there.

It might’ve helped to use a slightly wider stitch to be more sure of catching the fabric edge, but some of the pieces were so small I didn’t want the outline stitching to take up too much of it. There were a couple of places I strayed off the path a bit, especially with some of the pinks that were lighter and harder to see. At some point it occurred to me that I could use a washable fabric marking pen to outline where I needed to stitch on those hard-to-see places.

I’ve thought about adding some stitching like that in this piece to kind of tie everything together. I may also come back at some point and embroider some pins in the pin cushion. I was originally going to do another design on the back so I could change it around as desired – but I got to a point where I just felt like I needed to get it done. It’s usable now, and I can think about the other touches and add them later if I decide I want to.

It’s not perfect – but I like it, and it is much better than what I had.

Here’s my little sewing corner:

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No, my desk isn’t usually that clean, and yes, I did clear it off just for the picture. 🙂

It was nice to get behind the sewing machine again and especially nice to get a project done that has been on my mind for ages.

Help! Questions about scrapbooking and photo albums

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One of my side projects I hope to at least make a dent in this year is to get shoe boxes full of photos (from pre-digital days) into photo albums and to redo my old photo albums which are those old sticky kinds that are supposed to be bad for your pictures. Whenever I make any efforts in this direction, questions come up about the best ways to do it, so I thought I’d share those questions with you all and get some advice.

  1. Do you arrange your photo albums chronologically or by event or some combination? Do you do separate albums for vacations or other topics?
  2. When you make a baby album for a child, how for do you go in it? Do you just cover the first year or so? I struggle with what photos to put there and what to put in the regular family album.
  3.  What do you do with photos like the ones of animals in the zoo from 20 years ago that no one is that interested in any more or the extra photos of an event that you’re not sure whether to throw away? Do you end up still keeping some photos in a box?
  4. When you use a scrapbook, do you mat every single picture?
  5. Do you use those little corner holders, or do you use glue and page protectors? Don’t the corner holders poke into photos on the opposite page?
  6. What kind of glue do you use?
  7. When you do digital scrapbooking, do you print it out or does it stay digital? How do other people see it?
  8. What are your favorite tools?

I think that’s all for now.

For the record, I’ve made one photo album for each child up to maybe 1 1/2 to 2 years of age and then chronological albums (not one per year, but each one covers maybe 3-4 years). I’ve thought of making a “Friends and Family” album of those school and professional photos people have sent over the years. I’ve only made a couple of scrapbooks: one for Jason’s high school graduation of highlights of his life and one for Jesse’s graduation just of school and class pictures through the years. My scrapbooks are more about the pictures than the decorations – so far I haven’t gotten too decorative, both because of the time factor (both were made under a deadline) and also because I prefer to emphasize the photos rather than the layouts. But now that I’m doing this on my own timetable, I might try to be more creative with them.

I appreciate your feedback!

Sewing/Craft Room Cabinet

For some months now I’ve been searching for some way to keep my laminator and Cricut close by and ready to use, but off my work table so I have more space there. The room is small, so I didn’t have much wall space or closet space to put another storage unit (and I didn’t want to keep them in the closet anyway.) I wanted something on wheels, and because the laminator gets so hot, I wanted to avoid plastic storage.

I’ve been looking at various storage units and ideas and not seeing anything that would really work, and then one day this caught my eye in W-Mart:

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I had taken measurements of my work table and saw that this would fit underneath it! And it was the right width and already on wheels — perfect!

Except it was black. I appreciate black furniture in other people’s houses, but it’s just not my preference, and it just wouldn’t “go” in this room.

So, inspired by DIY projects I’ve seen on Pinterest and elsewhere online, I decided to spray paint it white. I knew it would take several coats, but otherwise it should be simple: just point and shoot, right?

Wrong.

I did know to paint the pieces before putting them together. At first I was holding the can too far away, so most of the paint went into the air rather than on the cabinet. (I was thinking, “Wow, there is more aerosol than paint in this thing! Then I realized the problem.) But when I got close enough for the paint to stick, then I had problems with drips, sputters, puddles, and uneven coverage. When I tried to dab off some of the drips, it took a whole chunk of paint out, down to the wood. I was SO frustrated. My husband came home at that point and took pity on me and helped me. I had been holding the button on the paint can down continuously while spraying back and forth, but he took short quick individual strokes back and forth. He sanded off some of the problems areas, and multiple coats of paint evened out everything else. I also learned the cheap 96 cent spray paint is not the best. Krylon worked the best for us.

We let the pieces cure for about a week, and then Jim assembled the cabinet for me last weekend. I had also wanted to put some decorative scrapbook paper on the back wall of the cabinet, to look something like this or this or this or this. But I just used two-sided tape because I wasn’t sure if I’d leave it and wanted it to be easy to get off or change.

So, here is the finished product:

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(Kindly ignore the other junk stuff on and around the work table – I’m still working on the rest of the room. 🙂 )

I love it. I like that it’s near at hand and I can roll it out when desired and put whichever machine I’m using on top, but I can keep it all tucked here out of the way otherwise.

I may decide I want to keep the Cricut out on the table after all, but if I do, I have plenty of other things I could store here.

The pink floral paper at the back really doesn’t show up except when I use the flash on the camera: otherwise it just looks dark back there. So in a sense that was kind of a waste, but mentally I’m glad to know it’s there.

I’m just tickled that this worked so well. This room is really starting to come together and be more functional.

I’m linking this project up with:

WYWWAnd

This post will be also linked to Women Living Well.

Friday’s Fave Five

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Welcome to Friday’s Fave Five, hosted by Susanne at Living to Tell the Story, in which we can share five of our favorite things from the last week,  wonderful exercise in looking for and appreciating the good things God blesses us with. Click on the button to learn more, then go to Susanne’s to read others’ faves and link up your own.

It’s been kind of an up and down week. I had thought about doing an “up and down” or family update post yesterday, but time got away from me. But here are some of the “ups”:

1. Jim’s birthday was last Wednesday, but he had to be out of town that day, so we celebrated Saturday.

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2. Wednesday night Coffeshop Apologetics. A man in our church has been doing a series called Coffehouse or Coffeshop Apologetics on Wednesday nights basically talking about ways to talk to atheists, agnostics, moral relativists, etc. Evidently God has given him a real ministry in that regard that we hadn’t even known about, but what he’s had to share had been very interesting.

3. These stands were on sale half price at Hobby Lobby:

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Aren’t they cute? They are smaller than normal, only about 8″ or so across, but I have an 6″ cake pan that will make the perfect small dessert for it!

4. Finally getting this project done. It was originally supposed to be a fall wreath, but I got stuck trying to make burlap roses — I never could get the hang of it. Then I was going to do a winter wreath in neutrals. But as we’re getting closer to spring I decided to throw some pink in there, and I think it’ll work, even though felt is more wintery in my mind.

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I made the pink felt roses using this tutorial but bought the other ones, gluing a button in the middle of a couple of them.

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It had been a long time since I had fired up the ol’ hot glue gun, but I enjoyed it!

5. Getting some things hung up around the house that had been sitting in the sewing room for months in some cases. Indecision is my biggest road block! But I finally decided to just go with what I had been thinking about, and I think it pretty much works. I guess I could have taken pictures of those…but no time just now as I’m off to a meeting at Jim’s mom’s place soon.

In family news, Jim did get the pathology report back from his kidney surgery, and the mass was indeed cancerous, which is pretty much what we expected, but there’s no sign of it in the lymph nodes or lymphatic system, so that is very good. He has a follow-up appointment with an oncologist next week just to see if we need to do any other scans to make sure there is nothing else lurking around somewhere. He’s continuing to do well, though still a little tender in places.

Happy Friday to you!