Numbers are not my strong point

I’ve never liked numbers. Words make me happy. My dislike of numbers was so strong, that when a word problem came up on a test, I would relish in the fact that there were words and a story to solve. More recently I was running payroll and commissions, and we were catching some errors. Well “some” errors were enough to make me go to my safe zone and write a haiku or two. Words are my happy space.

Now, when it comes to my crafts, I find myself presented with numbers more often than words. Since I like my crafts, I don’t mind the numbers. But, when I get numbers wrong in a project, I just want to pick up a piece of fabric and stitch some words.

How bad am I with numbers, well, my current project I’m trying to make 12 quilted pillow cases 12″ x 12″. Easy enough. But, since they are quilted I have to create a row of 6 – 2.5″ squares and then make 4 of those rows for each pillow. Now, I found the cutest fabric pattern that came as an 18 piece 1/2 yd bundle. Great! I wouldn’t have to worry about matching patterns. Bad, I would have to cut all the sqaures since I didn’t have the charm pack cheat. So, courtesy of Pinterest, I found a different cheat so I wouldn’t have to cut each individual square and then sew together each individual square. And another cheat, I bought a quilting ruler that was 2.5″ wide, so no thought required.

I sat at my computer, did my math, and was like “yeah!” I was even going to have extra squares, perfect! Then, today, while sitting at my work area and arranging the rows for the pillows, I realize I’m 2 rows of 6 squares short. TWO ROWS! 12 squares! Are you kidding me?!?!?!? So, I take a breath, take a swig of my Upslope Pale Ale and redo my math. Well, lo and behold, my math was wrong. I didn’t consider the number of rows needed, just the number of squares. Boo. Hiss. {now for those of you who do enjoy numbers, or at least understand them, you will have figured out that there was a major flaw in my original math regardless of row versus square count}

Really? So, the plan was to make 12. I only needed 11 so one could be scarified/messed up/given away. But, in the end there are 10. It is undecided if that additional one will be made or not. I do enjoy the assembly line process of making multiples. Maybe there will be a charm pack calling my name and that will be used to create the 11th and final pillow.

Next up is learning how to press a seam correctly. I always end up with a “speed bump” between fabrics. Could it really be that hard to get the seam “seamless”?


Focus is key

While I may be working on only two projects at a time, they are multidimensional and take a bit of time.

As a way to focus my projects, and not create huge messes around the house, I try to limit myself to just two projects at a time. Currently, I am working on Father’s Day gifts and gifts for my brother’s 5 kids. The Father’s day gifts are all the same – so those are easy for construction. That, and I picked a simple project, so there isn’t as much stress. The cards are a bit basic as well. A little more variety comes with the project for the 5 kids. There are two young girls, one young boy, and two tween girls. So each set of girls is getting a similar project and the boy is getting something completely different. They actually are quite easy.

The ease of projects for Father’s day and Brother’s kids could be because Mother’s Day and Cinco de Mayo gifts I did not take the simple path.

For Mother’s day I made Bow Totes. My inspiration for the tote came from two different websites I found on Pinterest – Easy DIY Bow Tote Tutorial and The Twenty Minute Tote.

Mother’s Day Totes

These were not very easy. They were my first attempt at tote bags. I had to make at least 15. I loose focus on anything more than 12. In the end, I made 18. The part that was the most fun of this project was picking the fabric for the bows. So many pretty patterns.

I knew this project was going to be a big one, so I started in January. I was finished by March. There were various stages I would complete at random times, so I didn’t slave away. Anything more than a 3 hour block I lose concentration.

So, while working on these, I also came up with the bright idea for mini Pinatas for Cinco de Mayo. My family and friends do not celebrate this holiday, but I wanted a reason to make Mini Pinatas – so this year there was a quasi-celebration. The inspiration for these came from Video | How to make a Piñata: Cute Mini rainbow Piñatas for fiestas! and We R Memory Keepers | Mini Pinatas.

These Pinatas I did not take the easy way out. I decided I wanted to make my own shapes. So I had to research and design a heart, circle, and rectangle that was supposed to be a Lego brick. The Lego bricks did not happen. The Donkey (but for reals, it looks like a sheep dog) came premade from We R Memory Keepers and the Triangle came from a pattern that was linked in the video.

To make the fringe tissue I once again decided I wanted to do it myself. I could have bought it pre-fringed and with adhesive, but apparently I’m a glutton for punishment. So bought a fringer and added my own double sided adhesive. It was a bit tedious.

I was surprised by my ability to actually complete both projects in time to send them out! I am usually a procrastinator, so it was a great accomplishment to finish them.

In addition to my projects, I enjoy the packaging. Pretty much all my projects get sent out as family and friends are not all in Colorado. But even my Colorado friends get packages in the mail.

IMG_1927 (1)
Outside Packaging – Address would be under name for mailing.
When the box is opened

As you can see, my projects are multidimensional and I do my best to consider how the gifts will be received as much as how pretty the gift is.

The fathers will be getting a bit of the short stick compared to the mother’s gifts, but I will say their cards are more fun! I’m already thinking about next year’s gifts and am working on an idea that will work for both holidays.

A top 10 list…

Alternative titles to this post:

  • Things they assume you know when giving directions
  • Common sense isn’t so common
  • I get it, I can sell off of your patterns, so you don’t want to make it easy
  • You put a time limit on your project so I feel incompetent when it takes me MUCH longer

It’s been about a year since I’ve been crafting. For me crafting is done through paper, sewing and needlework. When following instructions and/or a pattern, needlework is the easiest. For paper and sew projects there is a lot of implied knowledge that takes place.

One theory I have is that because patterns can be patented, but the final project cannot, the pattern makers leave out pieces to make you work for that final project. They aren’t just going to give you a final product to sell with minimal effort; they want you to work for it. And maybe, just maybe, they can sell that same, original project, at a cheaper price, because their labor hours are shorter.

The other theory is that pattern makers, instruction creators, aren’t that malicious and they just expect you to have a certain amount of information filed away so they don’t have to explain every little detail.

Well, whichever conspiracy you identify with, here are my thoughts on “things you should know, but probably don’t know, and won’t know until you figure it out yourself”

  1. Pinning fabric is a wasted step
    1. Alternatives include:
      1. Stapling (my preferred method)
      2. Taping (if you have good tape)
      3. Paying attention and holding the fabric together (you are already sitting at the machine, why not give yourself something else to do)
  2. Seam allowances are only relevant in clothing
  3. The pattern is just a suggestion. Kinda like driving directions from Siri. It’s a suggestion that you turn left, but if you turn right, she’ll eventually get you to where you are going. But not without a couple of u-turns and turns in the wrong direction.
  4. Why trace a pattern when you can staple and cut directly on the fabric.
  5. For hands on stuffed animals, you must use the hand wheel
    1. And then any other intricate turns you must also use the hand wheel
    2. Do the new machines still have a hand wheel?
  6. The amount of time on the instructions does not include the amount of time your machine decides it doesn’t want to work, nor the amount of time it takes you to cut, nor the amount of time it takes you to go shopping for the pieces required, nor the amount of a time a non-professional takes to complete the project.
    1. Anyone else have issues with thread tension from the top thread? I swear every 3rd of 5th start I get wonky.
  7. You will very rarely receive a thank you for a hand-made gift. Ensure that your internal satisfaction will get you to the next project.
  8. 12 of any item are too many.
    1. At least all at once.
  9. You may not want to get rid of your scraps, but just get rid of them – they are too small to reuse anyways. You aren’t going to make that quilt.
  10. Putting your purchased items in your purse instead of a company plastic bag, means you have less evidence that you bought more crafting stuff.

They say to limit lists to 10. Minus the extra thoughts, I met that limit 🙂

This means that I have the opportunity to create ANOTHER list. How exciting is that?!? Considering that it took me about a year to compose this list, no worries to the reader, I won’t have another list too soon.

While I may have a list, or two, or three, of “complaints”; don’t you worry; I’ll still be creating. I’ll continue to do things my way instead of the way I’m told to, and I’ll tell you all about it!

I just don’t understand

As I continue to try new projects, and follow the instructors directions; I always balk at the idea of embroidering after creation. What is the enhanced benefit of this process? !? I generally will not follow those directions. I will embroider on the piece prior to creation. This allows me to work with a smaller area, and a one dimensional area. As I create the pattern to be embroidered I take into account the seam allowance and final position, and stitch conservatively to ensure that my presentation is visibly appealing.

But why, o’ why, am I constantly instructed to embroider as a last step? While I can see the benefit of not touching the embroidery piece through the rest of construction, it is a big jumbled mess (when working on a quilt per se) to get the job done.

Anyone’s input into this practice would be much appreciated! Until I’m convinced to the contrary, I will continue to create my embroidery pieces prior to finalized construction.

So much time on Research and Design

As I’m working on a new card idea, I’m realizing that Research & Design (R&D) takes A LOT of time. Frankly, I’m not happy with where my card bunting is going, but I’ve invested so much time that I’m just moving forward with it. I know that as time goes on I’ll create some better models than this first one. I also know that this first model isn’t horrible. It just doesn’t give me the warm fuzzies that I’m looking for.

I also worked on some R&D for my mother’s day gifts. That didn’t take too long, but figuring out the bow took a good number of tries.

The R&D portion of a project does make me happy. I feel like a scientist with my trial and errors. Sometimes I have to get myself out of the “box” and consider new ways. And I do always get feedback, and then actually take the feedback. Taking the feedback is hard, but I put my ego aside and realize that the other ideas could work, and it was what I was asking for.

So, R&D is a huge consideration as I continue to try new things and work on what works for me. I look forward to channeling the mad scientist within and creating some outstanding pieces!

Dirty Dozen

In an effort to begin mass production of my craftiness – I thought 12 would be a good number to work with. Well, I just finished the first card collection for 2016, and 12 was too many. I did finish them – but it took over 2.5 hours I would say. Yesterday, I sat down for 1.5 hours and hashed out a good amount, and then today I only timed part of it, and that was about 35 minutes. So, in my way of doing math, I’d say it took over 2.5 hours easy to create the 12 individual cards.

Now that I type it, I guess it really isn’t that long, but doing the math, it runs about 12.5 minutes a card. Okay, that’s not bad either. less than 15 for a handcrafted, cute I might add, card – that’s doable.

Some of my next 2016 collection I’m trying for the first time, so I might try 6 to start since it felt very tedious to do 12 of a card I have done multiple times before.

Okay, so maybe I was overdramatic and just not use to working 🙂 I’ll continue to stay on track and make between 60 and 84 cards for this season.

Apparently straight lines are a thing

Making a purse today I realized that I do need to work on sewing straight lines. That and I need to figure out the tension on my top thread as each time I start it gets jacked up.

Back to straight lines. So, I was making straps. Every inch or so there was a shift as I tried to keep a straight line. My efforts were useless. And then, I realized that I was going have to double stitch. So, not just one straight line, but a total of 16 of them, they didn’t work out very well.

The bag turned out decent, would need some adjustments in the future. But for sure, I have to continue practicing making a straight line. That and understanding the tension on my starting stitch.