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Saturday, 23 September 2017

Winter in the City Glasses Cases

Sunglasses Case featuring Winter in the City fabric by eSheep Designs
A nifty sunglasses case!
Earlier this year, I featured a bunch of projects made by fellow Pride & Prejudice fan, Jane Vivash, using my P&P Spoonflower fabric. One of them was an eyeglass case.

When we finally connected again in July, she gave up the information as to where the pattern comes from... and better yet, it's a freebie! It's a tutorial posted on a blog called Thread Riding Hood (isn't that clever?), run by Sherri Sylvester, who is also a resident of the Great White North.

With link to tutorial saved, I put the project on the back burner because I really didn't need one of these. (I don't normally store my sunglasses in a case, preferring to hang them in some way for easier access.) And until I had the perfect scrap of fabric to commit to it, it wasn't a priority.

Sunglasses Case featuring Winter in the City fabric by eSheep Designs
Finally found a good use for my Winter in the City fabric!

In early August — during an unprecedented flurry of creative activity on my part — I wound up with a couple of 3.75" wide strips of fabric left over from the throw pillows that I showed you last week.

I had a lightbulb flash about how this remnant could be pieced together for use on the exterior of this case, which I confirmed with some quick measurements upon printing out the pattern templates.

It turned out to be a handy workaround for making the case out of any fabric with a directional print. The way the three strips are pieced ensures that the print remains right side up on the finished item.

Winter in the City fabric by eSheep Designs
Front and back views of my fabric piecing...

If you look at the picture above left, the first strip is upside down, the second strip is right side up and the third strip is upside down. (And given the shape of the pattern template, there's only one way that it will fit on that piece.)

The project calls for a piece of plastic canvas to provide the structure for the bottom part of the case. As is usually the case with supplies that are beyond the norm, I didn't have any and wasn't about to go out and look for some. I "made do" with an alternative that turned out to be highly effective if you find yourself in similar straits: Peltex. It's firm and holds its shape. (Haven't tried this myself, but I'm thinking that those super thin flexible cutting boards/chopping mats sold in dollar stores would also be a good substitute for the plastic canvas if you can't find any.)

Sunny Glasses Case materials
My two pieces of fabric (outer one interfaced with fleece) and piece of Peltex...

Cut, fused and ready to go... finally!

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I didn't take any photos of the process, but it was a fairly easy sew. It took me two hours to get done, but it was a Sunday afternoon, I wasn't moving fast and — as may have been shared in the past — I'm very slow at the cutting part.

Here's a view of the interior. The lining was a piece of Walmart kitchen tea towel that was left over from the pocket linings of my Make it Yours proof of concept bag. The horizontal stripes contrast well against the vertical imagery of the City fabric.

Sunglasses Case featuring Winter in the City fabric by eSheep Designs
My tea towel lining...

The case has four options for finishing it off, from a basic hook and loop tape closure to a version that straps onto a vehicle visor. I opted for a magnetic snap, the installation of which needs to be done at the beginning.

Sunglasses Case featuring Winter in the City fabric by eSheep Designs
A magnetic snap was my closure of preference...

The pattern provides markings for locating a magnetic snap, so no fear about that. (I should say right here that the tutorial was top notch in how it covered the steps, along with photos of each. I would quibble a bit with the overall format of the instructions, but it's a minor quibble and it certainly won't prevent you from being successful if you read carefully.)

Here's a back view of the case — with the cover open — to show how the fabric piecing turned out.

Sunglasses Case featuring Winter in the City fabric by eSheep Designs
Back of case with cover open...

And here is the view of the back with the cover closed.

Sunglasses Case featuring Winter in the City fabric by eSheep Designs
Back of case with cover closed...

Let me say that this is a good introduction to making a 3D item that confident beginners should be able to manage.

Speaking of the 3D part, reading the instructions thoroughly is essential the first time out, as the final steps may not be as obvious as you think. (That's another reason why it took me a couple of hours; I kept having to walk up and down the stairs going from computer to sewing machine to get some clarification.)

But once you've made one, you won't need the instructions.

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When I showed Mom this project, she said she liked it and asked me to make one for her, so I gave that one to her. The other strip of fabric then became this second glasses case.

Sunglasses Case featuring Winter in the City fabric by eSheep Designs
The fabric was pieced together in an identical way for this one...

This one only took about a half hour to make!

Sunglasses Case featuring Winter in the City fabric by eSheep Designs
Other views... and to confirm, using the Peltex is sufficient to allow the case to stand up as seen here.

Here's the link to Sherri's Sunny Glasses Case tutorial. Definitely recommended as a scrap buster! What's more, it's one of those rare things you can sew up for a guy.

By the way, "winter in the city" literally happened this past week... and since fall didn't officially arrive until yesterday, it was technically still summer at the time!

Yes, this happens in September, but not often...

But in light of all the other weather calamities happening elsewhere, I wasn't about to complain about a bit of snow that melted away by the afternoon. (That said, I had just returned from twelve days in warmer temperatures, so it was a bit of a jolt!) We're on schedule to be back to normal for next week, thankfully.

Saturday, 16 September 2017

A Tale of Three Fabric Orders

Canadiana Maple Leaf on White fabric by eSheep Designs
My original Maple Leaf on White design...
Back in the latter part of June, I received a message from someone via Spoonflower asking if I could possibly make a version of my Canadiana fabric in a different colourway.

Specifically, she was looking for burgundy and navy leaves for the design shown here (Maple Leaf on White).

Of course, I said yes.

My first instruction was for her to check out one of the two Spoonflower colour guides (here and here) and tell me exactly what shades of navy and burgundy she was looking for. She ended up choosing the following:

Spoonflower colour chart
Spoonflower's colour chart...

Oddly enough, when I went ahead and ran a quick sample, it occurred to me that it was sort of an "Americanized" version ... it's a darkish red, white and blue.

Customized Canadiana Maple Leaf on White fabric by eSheep Designs
Customized Maple Leaf on White in a burgundy and navy colourway...

It kinda works, don't you think?

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When I originally received the request, I thought it would be a simple thing of, well, make the change, order the fabric, have the person pay me via Paypal and have Spoonflower send the fabric directly to her.

I'm glad that within a few hours, I realized that that would not be the best option. A few weeks later, I was really glad that I didn't go that route.


In late May, my market friend saw samples of my Canadiana fabric and wanted to purchase some to make infinity scarves to sell for Canada Day. It would be cutting it close, but based on previous timelines with Spoonflower, I figured the order would arrive the week prior to July 1.

As I did with her fabric labels last year, I placed the order for her and had it shipped to her address. And then we waited, and waited, and waited. The tracking for the order indicated that it had arrived in Canada on June 14, but beyond that, there was no further information.

Canada Day came and went... lovely as it was.

By the time I contacted Spoonflower on July 4, I had actually received an order of mine that had been placed in mid-June.

Make no mistake, Spoonflower was extremely accommodating in their response to the situation. I received a reply that same morning asking me to verify the recipient's mailing address (it was correct) and was then informed that the order — since the original was most likely lost at this point — would be reprinted and reshipped ASAP via FedEx Priority. My friend ended up receiving her replacement order on July 10.

Again, major kudos to Spoonflower for going above and beyond so quickly. (It wasn't an insignificant order, coming in at just under a hundred dollars.) But here's the thing.

Using FedEx to ship across the border incurs taxes and fees that Canada Post doesn't usually impose. So yes, the new order came quickly, but it came with a $16 brokerage fee. Since it was technically my order and since my friend had nothing to do with the original shipment getting lost, I decided to pay it out of my own pocket.

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And there was the lesson learned. Had my friend created her own Spoonflower account and placed her own order, I would not have been caught in the middle of that whole situation. (And yes, that's exactly how it's going to happen in future.)

So getting back to my first story, when this potential customer told me that she wanted six yards of the customized Maple Leaf on White fabric, I had two thoughts. One: I wouldn't be comfortable taking ownership of such a big order; and two: I wouldn't be comfortable making a purchase of such a large amount of fabric without first seeing a swatch.

Therefore, my proposal was slightly amended. I provided four variations of the fabric with the burgundy/navy combination (since she did not indicate what leaves she wanted in what colour). If she wanted to go forward with the order, she would have to pay me $10 up front to cover the cost of a sample swatch. She would then choose one of the designs; I would upload it to Spoonflower to allow her to make a sizing decision, and then I would order a swatch to be sent directly to her.

eSheep Designs custom fabric order contract
Terms and conditions of my custom fabric services...

I included a one time change that could be performed at no charge after seeing the swatch. (She eventually asked for a re-sizing of the pattern.) But beyond that point, whatever yardage she wanted to purchase, she would do it directly from my Spoonflower shop (which was what happened).

By the way, the ten dollar fee did not represent any real profit for me. Paypal's fee and the cost of the swatch (including shipping) came to $6.67; coming up with the four designs — and ultimately providing a "clean" version of the one that she wanted — cost me much more than $3.33 worth of my time in regular consulting terms.

In crafting terms, however, it was perfectly acceptable, as it represented another milestone reached on my "becoming a designer" journey. A custom fabric order? Would never have occurred to me in any way, shape or form!

Anyway, it was a thrill....

My third fabric order was for one of my very first designs. When the Spoonflower fat quarters BOGO sale came around in July, I outdid myself and purchased eight FQs. Two of the selections were my Winter in the City (Day) and the Winter in the City (Night) fabrics in lightweight cotton twill. (After seeing how some throw cushions made out of the fabric looked on Roostery, I decided to replace the rest of my flat cushions with new ones.)

Throw pillows in Winter in the City fabric designed by eSheep Designs
Winter in the City (Day) and Winter in the City (Night) throw pillows...

I followed the method that I used for my P&P pillows.

Combined with my designer discount, these fat quarters were $5.85 each with the BOGO sale. Not bad, huh? Not only that, the strips of fabric that were left over were put to use in another cool project that you'll see soon.

But going back again to the custom fabric order, for those of you who "make and sell" things on request, do you take a deposit from customers prior to starting work?

Saturday, 9 September 2017

What's Up With "Grandma"?

What is the appeal behind "grandma" sewing projects??
In late July, I sent this message to AllFreeSewing, after suffering through many, many months of latent curiosity... LOL!

"Just wondering about something. I've been a subscriber to the Sewing it Up newsletter for some time now and am curious as to why there are so many mentions of "grandma" in those newsletters. Is it something on trend that I'm not aware of that people are attracted to "grandma" styles and projects?? I can't imagine young sewers clicking on them when I (in my 50s) don't tend to click on them. So I'm just curious if someone is specifically doing this as some sort of marketing strategy."

I'm not sure what I expected in return — perhaps some revelation that would educate me? — but I did get a response to my inquiry.

Reply from AllFreeSewing
AllFreeSewing's reply to my query...

Did it satisfy my curiosity? Sadly, no, unless I get invited to that next quarterly innovation meeting.

So I'm asking all of you for elucidation. Are you drawn to sewing projects and patterns (or anything else, for that matter) that are headlined with the term "grandma"? If so, are you personally a grandmother? And if not, might you still be a grandmother?

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From all that I can gather in today's world, actual grandmothers — who can be as young as in their early 40s, by gosh and by golly — are not exactly fans of being called "grandma".

By choice, I had no children, therefore I will never be a grandmother. As the years have flown by, in my own body and mind, I — almost — feel no different from when I was a teenager. Having children undoubtedly transforms a person in some way, so if you've had kids, you likely have memories of a "pre" and "post" life in terms of being a parent. Therefore, how you feel about a word like "grandma" may be very, very different from how I feel.

Or maybe not.

When used as a descriptor in some way, I'm personally turned off by the word "grandma". For AllFreeSewing projects that are described as such — and here is a list from a newsletter where four projects out of twenty include the term — I never click on them.


Actually, that's a bit of a lie, since for the purposes of this post, I did click on these four just to see what they were. None of them were specifically referenced as being for grandma or inspired by grandma by the people who provided the original links.

Isn't that interesting?

By the way, here is the project that was linked to #9...

Photo courtesy of Melanie Lalonde from thelittleststudio.com...

I've checked out the whole blog post that the tutorial is featured on and nowhere does the word "grandma" appear. The project itself is actually quite cool and trendy, but I wouldn't have known about it had I not been doing research for this post.

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So back to the original conundrum... does anyone have any evidence that today's sewers are fascinated by projects that are grandma oriented?

Image courtesy of CottonandCurls.com...
the designer did not mention "grandma" in her listing of this project

I'm truly curious as to why AllFreeSewing does this when it can easily describe projects that allude to a previous generation by using a decade descriptor; i.e., the 1940s, the 1950s, the 1960s. And yes, it does do that on occasion; the oddity is that I see the term "grandma" show up on virtually every newsletter! (Another seemingly favourite term of theirs is "little old lady"!)

AllFreeSewing Newsletter
This list came from a recent newsletter titled 25 Retirement Patterns...
I'm actually quite appalled by #4!

I mean, I get the attraction to vintage... that trend has been around since forever, in varying degrees. What's in fashion now has undoubtedly been in fashion before. The whole "what's old is new again" saying applies on a regular basis. But admiring items from decades ago is different from applying the word "grandma" to describe them.

My MyTie Makeover Mini Bag being described as made from "grandpa's tie"...

No doubt, part of the personal aversion that I feel relates to being reminded that I'm getting older... and not liking that fact. I could be totally wrong about assuming that younger crafters would avoid projects labelled for "grandma".

So let me hear from you, whether you're young or old: are you intrigued by things that are described as being for "grandma"? I am so genuinely curious!

Saturday, 2 September 2017

Dress Form Mini Mannequin... and More

Dress Form Mini Mannequin crafted by eSheep Designs
My mini dress form mannequin is a pin cushion after all...
It's hilarious to come across a cool "new" project, only to find out that it's been around for six years... LOL! It really speaks to how many crafty DIY tutorials there are online and how impossible it is to get to all of them.

I was recently paging through images of pin cushions when a nifty dress form mannequin caught my eye. It's from The DIY Dish (direct link at the end of this post), a web video series put on by a couple of engaging twin sisters from 2010 to 2011. This project was released near the end of their run.

The mannequins that they made were glued on top of candlestick holders and topped off with a bauble. While they looked extremely elegant, in my opinion, that made them more of a decorative item than a functional one. To me, a pin cushion so tall would be impractical; I'd be knocking it over every time I stabbed a pin in it.

But I had a thought about turning it into a necklace holder. While not knowing exactly how I would accomplish that, in the meantime, I went ahead and made the mannequin itself.

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I retrieved the Robert Kaufman scraps from my Summit Pack and managed to make use of them by going on the diagonal.

Dress Form Mini Mannequin crafted by eSheep Designs
Just enough fabric to make this thing...

The item is not difficult to make, as long as you take the time to pin well. The pieces have curves to them, as you can see, and successfully sewing those curves involves diligent pinning beforehand. (I ended up with a couple of very small puckers that I decided to live with.)

Here is the first presentation of my finished mini mannequin.

Dress Form Mini Mannequin crafted by eSheep Designs
Front view of my mini dress form mannequin...

The "belt" is a bracelet. The bauble on top is a Christmas ball decoration.

Here is the back view. (Seeing it like this, I like that the fabric had to be used on the diagonal.)

Dress Form Mini Mannequin crafted by eSheep Designs
Back view of my mini dress form mannequin...

Soft fabric scraps was my stuffing of choice, having depleted my supply of polyfil making my Winter in the City pillows.

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After a few days of ruminating about adding wire "arms" or making a wire mesh "skirt" to transform the mannequin so that I could hang things off of it, I gave up on the idea of using it as a necklace holder. It looked too nice to hack and it occurred to me that it was actually the perfect pin cushion to stand guard at my ironing station.

I also decided that I didn't like the ball on top, so it was gone. Then I found a different bracelet that looked even more like a belt, so the previous "belt" became a necklace. My mini mannequin is now officially a pin cushion.

Dress Form Mini Mannequin crafted by eSheep Designs
Officially a pin cushion...

But coincidentally enough, I stumbled upon a solution for my necklace problem. While first trying to decide whether or not I was going to put the mannequin on top of a pedestal — when it was intended to be a necklace hanger — I substituted an upside down (plastic) wine goblet as a stand. After deciding that I wanted to keep the mannequin low to the table as a pin cushion, I flipped the wine glass back over...

wine glass necklace holder
My wine goblet necklace holder...

... and had a sudden inspiration to attach a bunch of binder clips along the rim. Turns out the binder clips are perfect for securing and hanging small necklaces. (You could also hang earrings directly off the rim.) Not only that, the top of this particular glass is just the right size to accommodate my ring holder!

In case you're curious, here is how I used the prongs of the clips to secure each necklace.

wine glass necklace holder
Both prongs are used to secure and hang the necklace...

Sometimes, an accidental win is the most satisfying. My previous hack for hanging necklaces was constantly failing me in that whenever I grabbed one, two others would often follow along. This wine glass solution will do nicely for the time being.

Plus, I now have an interesting pin cushion at my ironing station. Win-win!

If you're interested in making your own dress form mini mannequin, here is the link to the video and pattern.