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1  OCCASIONS AND HOLIDAYS / Mother's Day / unusual mothers day gift question.... on: April 28, 2014 03:51:59 PM
I hope this is the right place to posts this since I don't have an actual project and I'm looking for advice.

To start with, my mum passes away several years ago from a rare brain cancer.   My dad has moved forward with his life after being depressed after the love of his life died.  He knew he needed to find a companion and has dated several ladies.  Well he has found the one, but they are not going to get married but just live together.  My dad is 74 and acts like he is 40, and physically he can do more than most 40 year olds.  But the point is, he is happy, but we absolutely adore the lady he has chosen.  They are both very active for their age.

I want to do something really nice for her for mothers day from our family.  But she isn't my mother, not even my step mother since they don't plan to marry, but she is living there now.  She is a mum herself and has grandkids, and she treats us as her family and my kids as her grandkids.  I absolutely adore her and she is beyond wonderful!!!! 

I see a whole new side to my dad that I never saw before because in some ways she held him back by the way she was raised and her beliefs.   When my mom was dying and her last weeks I stayed with them and helped care for my mom until her last breath, so my dad and I talked a LOT and I learned a lot about my dad that he never shared before.

But now that he has another special lady in his life I want her to know how special she is to us as well.   I am not in the least upset about him seeing someone and even though it hasn't been years and years I look at it from the side that the heart expands, he doesn't love my mom any less but he has a new lady to love now as well.  Just like when he went from one grandchild to two and then to six between my brother and I.  You don't love one grandchild less, your heart just grows more to love more.  The same applies to this.  I know my mom would want my dad to be happy, and being alone was not making him happy, and was depressing for him. 

 

What are some ideas to do for her.  I want her to know how special she is to our family.....

I am crafty and sew among other crafts.  I'm a soap maker but she has sensitive skin so it's not like a can make a dozen scents to keep things fun.... I have given her several unscented products already.

Any ideas.....
2  CLOTHING / Costumes: Completed Projects / Re: Elsa's Frozen Dress on: March 26, 2014 01:56:08 PM
WOW you did an amazing job!!!!  That looks super cute and your daughter looks very beautiful in it.  I bet she feels like a princess when she wears it.

Is she still wearing the dress for dress up play?


I didn't see the movie when it came out, but just saw it recently when it came out on DVD, and while I don't get into a lot of kids movies, but this one I fell in love with.  The characters, songs and scenes. 

I bet your daughters party was a hit with everyone that attended.


PS as far as turning pictures you can try paint.net it's a free download and I have been using it for more years than I care to admit.  At least 8 years perhaps longer....  I replace my laptop over 2-3 years and I've had to download it several times when I got a new laptop.  They advertise if you paid a penny for it you paid too much because they offer it free.  Totally worth it!!!   But I love the program as you can do a lot of things with photos on it.   Another program I can't live without is....  http://www.ribbet.com/app/?edit_photo#/home/welcome  you can get the upgrades for the premium features free right now as well.   This isn't a download and it's just a program that you use online.   If anyone used picnik and was devastated when they closed the site it's just like picnik but under the name ribbet instead.... So depending on what I am doing with my pictures I use both programs quite often. 
3  BATH AND BEAUTY / Bath and Beauty: Discussion and Questions / Re: Homemade Eyeliner Question on: March 15, 2014 09:40:36 AM
I'm a big fan of eyeliner myself.  Even if I don't put any other makeup on when running on a quick errand I will however at least put eyeliner on......   So I commend you for attempting to make eyeliner yourself.  It would seem that it would be a lot more difficult to make than other types of makeup while keeping it as natural as possible.  I'm talking about mineral type makeup as a foundation or eye shadow.

Not to reveal your secrets, but what are you putting it in to get a usable product.  Of course I haven't looked into to see if there are molds for eyeliner like there are for lipsticks.  Or are you using it more like a liquid eyeliner?  They do sell mascara bottles so I guess they may make molds for eyeliner or liquid eyeliner. 

I remember as a young tween I had bought (or rather my mum bought it for me) a craft kit on making your own eyeliner and eye shadow.  Anyone remember the 80's and that popular bright blue and sea green eye makeup?  I don't remember much but I know I melted the ingredients and they got shoved into a wooden tube of sorts.  How they got packed in there I don't remember, but I used a pencil sharpener to get the point for a usable product.  I loved it, but I know now that the colors were way off for me.......



Back on topic.....

But I think if you would look at the ingredient list of a commercial made product, your answers are there.    While using "natural" ingredients are great, but you are very limited to their properties of what they can and can not do.   That's why I think "chemicals" and I use that term loosely do have their place in our life.   

Just because something is natural doesn't mean it's a better product.  There are many natural things that I wouldn't use.  So while "chemicals" are man made, they do have their place and I do use a number of them in the products that I make. 

So perhaps it's those man made ingredients in the eyeliner that prevent the product from smudging so much.     
4  BATH AND BEAUTY / Bath and Beauty: Discussion and Questions / Re: Canadian Glacial clay instead of Bentonite Clay in shaving soap on: March 15, 2014 09:21:00 AM
To answer your question, yes it should be just fine to use.   Not all soapmakers use bentonite clay in shaving soaps.  Some don't use clay at all.  
5  BATH AND BEAUTY / Bath and Beauty: Discussion and Questions / Re: how well does lard based soap clean? on: March 07, 2014 07:47:47 AM
Will it clean yes....it's soap by definition and soap cleans.  Will it have much lather or other properties we look for in a bath soap, meh... not so much.


My cleaning soap is actually 100% coconut oil, lye and water and that's it.  I also dropped the superfat to zero because I want it to clean and not have those leftover oils that the superfat offers.  Especially true if it's used on clothing stains.   Coconut oil is one of the cleansing oils which is why I chose it.   I made 100% lard soap some time ago and I wasn't very happy with the results.   Personally I don't get what all the fuss is about about soaps made with a high percent or 100% lard.  Yes my 100% coconut oil soap is harsh on the skin but I use gloves when I use it.  But it's good stuff...... 


IMHO if your going to make a bath soap you need to use castor oil and coconut oil.   Plus other great oils to balance the whole thing out.  IMHO also most soapers don't use enough castor oil.  Castor oil is great because it adds lather but instead of being drying like coconut oil it's moisturizing.  So it's all about balance in the whole recipe.

I recently made a soap with (experiment with a purpose as a recreations to a vintage product) 
70% Tallow,
15% Coconut Oil
15% Castor Oil
and I'm not overly happy with it.   Granted it's less than a week old, but the lather is disappointing, very disappointing.  I did superfat it at 10% as well, so that does leave more oils leftover that can play havoc with the lather.  But I also don't normally use that much tallow as one of the base oils.   

Yes it's possible to make a cheap soap, but cheap and good I don't think are often said in the same sentence. IMHO Of course you could also give 100 soapers the same bar of soap to try and you will get quite a few opinions as it depends on their their personal opinion on what "good" is.  Some are happy with plain jane while others won't be.  I also think those that are new to soaping would think "anything" is wonderful because they haven't experimented to know the difference between what the different variations can offer in the finished product.

Me, I like the lather I get from coconut oil, palm kernel oil and/or castor oil.  If you use too much coconut oil or palm kernel oil the soap will be drying to the skin even if the lather is lovely.  So it's all about balance.  But also about using other oils to make a great finished product.

If you wanted to keep it simple and cheap perhaps something like this.....

Lard 40%
Olive Oil% 23%
Castor Oil 15%
Coconut Oil 22%

Benchmarks
Hardness 38
Cleansing 15
Conditioning 57
Bubbly Lather 29
Creamy Lather 36

You can buy some of those oils in smaller bulk or by the pound on some sites such as...
http://www.soaperschoice.com/cgi-soaperschoice/Web_store/web_store.cgi?query_price_low_range=0&cart_id=
http://www.wholesalesuppliesplus.com/Default.aspx
or
http://www.brambleberry.com/Default.aspx


I do want to point out a recent blog post made by AM from BB about olive oils.  Apparently not all are created equal and cheaper brands and smaller bottles are poorer quality.  There are some pictures that speak a thousand words!!!!  So I may also suggest buying your OO from one of the above (or other) reputable suppliers.   
http://www.soapqueen.com/bath-and-body-tutorials/tips-and-tricks/olive-oils-created-equally/

So if your going to take the time and spend money on ingredients, use quality ingredients so you don't have some ugly looking soap in a short time because of using cheap ingredients.  You get what you pay for sometimes with "cheap".

While plain soap is fine and dandy you may prefer scented soaps.  For more inexpensive scents you may want to look at
http://www.naturesgardencandles.com/candlemaking-soap-supplies/category.cgi
although their shipping can seem high for smaller orders.  But if you want some other inexpensive scents check out wholesale supplies plus (link above) some of their scents are cheaper while others are more expensive.  Check out the reviews some do great in CP others don't and yes some discolor because of vanilla or other notes.

Above all get a good digital scale and weigh everything out in grams rather than ounces.   There are 28 grams to the 1 ounce so you can see why it's more accurate.   Use a lye calculator always to figure your recipe, and write out your recipe with a column for how much to add and how much you actually weighed out.   Write that last part in by hand as you add it.  That way you make sure you add everything and nothing is forgotten and you end up with lye heavy soap. 

HAVE FUN!!!!
 

6  PURSES, BAGS, WALLETS / Purses, Bags, Wallets: Discussion and Questions / Re: Reusable Grocery or Shopping Bags/Totes OPINIONS WANTED on: March 07, 2014 07:11:17 AM
Well I did get one made.... I took a wild stab a the size, as I didn't want it to be too big, nor to small.  But I am really happy with it.  I cut squares for the outer and lining and cut out a square corner out of the bottom corners to make a square and flat bottom.  I used a bit of "extra" fabric that I had in my stash leftover from another project.  So I didn't have enough for the handles but that's fine, it still looks nice.   I'll get a photo of it shortly.

Rather than deal with leaving the bottom seam open at the bottom and dealing with turning it inside out and flattening that seam out at the top I opted to just sew the outer fabric and the lining together at the top they way they should be in place, leaving the raw edges exposed.  But covering those raw edges up with a strip of bias tape (that I made) before sewing on the straps.   I also used heavy pellon in the straps to give them some shape and strength, although I didn't add anything to the bag part other than the fabric.  It does fold up nice if you tuck in the the sides before folding.  I haven't decided if I will add a button or just hold them closed with a rubber band before opening them at the store.

But so far I have just made the one, so I do need to make several more, plus a few that are dedicated to be used with just meat when I go to the butcher.  That way they can be laundered more often and reduce cross contamination.   But it's a start and I'm very pleased with the results.   They will wash up nice and will also be pretty to use.   So many of those .99 cent ones sold in stores aren't exactly washable and I want to launder them often as needed.  But pretty, darn it I want them to be pretty.   I know I could use sheets or recycle fabric to make my shopping bags, but I want MY bags to use cool nifty fabric....  each different and unique.
7  PURSES, BAGS, WALLETS / Purses, Bags, Wallets: Discussion and Questions / Re: What do you look for in a purse/bag? on: March 07, 2014 06:56:39 AM
I have made several bags (different shapes and sizes) before but I haven't made a "purse".... yet..... it is on my to-do list....  But I really want to, but I don't want a pattern as I plan on drafting it myself.

But for me it's pockets and as dumb as that sounds, that scares me a bit as I know they have to be put in place before the bag is sewn together.... I want pockets all around on the inside to organize the bag, but also on the outside as well.   I like my cell phone (bigger smart phone) to go on the outside so I can hear it when it goes off but easy to grab, but I also am a fountain pen freak and carry at least 6-8 with me in my purse so having pens slots that work for bigger pens than cheaper skinny BIC type pens.

I also want to put a ring on the outside to be able to clip my truck keys to.  That is a must for me so they are handy to find.  I clip my key ring to a small Carabiner (3" maybe) that I clip to the outside of my purse.  But rather than the strap ring I want a dedicated ring sewn to the side of the purse to hook that onto.   If I don't put them in the same place every time I loose them....

Living in the land of thecold, ice and snow that makes it handy to be able to find my keys to use the auto start on the key ring while I am still inside so it's warmed up before I get there.  (also easier on the motor for cold starts)  Not just me, but often the kids will start the truck before we need to leave so they can do that without digging through my purse to find the keys.   

I agree if it's too big you just have junk in it but I do want it big enough to hold a larger notebook as I make notes a lot to myself but also for my kindle fire HD so I can take it with and have it when waiting for doctors appointments and such. 

My other must have is the handles.   I have looked at some of those that are handmade on ebay and etsy and I did buy two but the handles were so short to be functional for me.   So many have a short drop which is fine if your shaped like Barbie and live in California, which I am not and I don't......  I like to be able to put my purse over my shoulder and carry it that way, but I do carry a few extra pounds and live up north where you need to wear a warm winter coat which adds more bulk.  So my dream purse would have at least a 15" drop rather than the 9-10" usually seen.   

But I have made some cosmetic bags that I used the really stiff pellon (not sure what it's called but that is what the lighter stuff is called) that is used for things like the brim of a baseball cap.   But I used two layers of it, one ironed onto each side of the outer fabric and the lining fabric.  So it gave the bag enough stiffness that I think would be perfect for a purse to help hold it's shape.   Don't forget to sew it into the handles as well so they hold their shape.   I made a school bag for my daughter and didn't and the bag looks great but the handles look wimpy especially after being laundered.   The two purses that I bought just had a layer of batting (perhaps polar fleece) between the outer layer and lining.  It was a huge disappointment as the bag didn't hold it's shape at all.   They were also a bit smaller than I envisioned being a nice size for a purse, yes the seller gave measurements looking at a tape measure is one thing and looking at the real thing another.   Not sure if they gave the cut length - height of the fabric but it sure didn't feel that big but I didn't measure after I got it either.   But they weren't a total waste as my daughter uses them and they come in handy when we go on car trips to put her stuff into that she may want for the trip. 

fabric used is another deal breaker.  I think holiday purses would be fun to make and use, but I also see quite a number of them being sold using two prints that compete with each other and actually make it unattractive to look at rather than appealing.   Perhaps it's just me......  The bones are good as they have a great concept/pattern but they have a poor choice in fabrics IMHO.  That and very short straps because I think they are using a 45" length of fabric and using one strip to make two handles rather than waste a bit of fabric to make them longer.  I want to put my purse over my shoulder rather than just hold the handles.  Then using different print/solid for the handle looks odd to me as well.   

I do look at ebay and etsy quite often for ideas.....   Pinterest is also good for ideas as well.....
8  OCCASIONS AND HOLIDAYS / Baby Showers And Gifts For New Babies / Burp Cloths on: February 19, 2014 11:46:45 AM
Burp Cloths are essential to any new mother.  So they make wonderful gifts or personal use.  My kids are long past that stage with my youngest being 10.  But I do need a gift every once in awhile.

This is how I make mine..... 

Fabric choices..... this is critical IMHO....  When an urp happens something absorbent is needed NOW!   Personally while cottons are cute and come in so many more cute prints, I don't use them for burp cloths or bibs.  While they are absorbent they just aren't absorbent enough for either IMHO because they don't hold much for liquids.    Instead for the  front I use good ol' flannel.   

The backing leaves a lot of choices, when my kids were little I use two layers of flannel and well I personally wasn't happy with them.  I wanted more absorbency.   So I don't do that anymore.  For some recent gifts I use cotton terry (the stuff bath towels are made out of but found on the bolt, but towels would also work) and they were beautiful.  But there are also some new great fabrics on the market that are still very absorbent but thinner, such as bamboo terry or bamboo fleece (not to be confused with polar fleece)   While polar fleece is plush and cushy it's just not absorbent, in fact polar fleece is actually water resistant and repels liquids. 

Then because I hate turning things inside out, and working hard to get my seams even and nice I cheat.  I sew wrong sides together and cover the raw edges with double fold bias tape.  You can buy this or make your own.  I make my own and have the bias tape maker made by simplicity.  Because I'm not going around any round edges I just cut strips with my rotary cutter, quilting ruler and cutting make.  I can make them matching in a solid or print super fast and easy. 
http://www.amazon.com/Simplicity-Creative-Group-Inc-881925/dp/B002CT3YX2

Honestly I like the plain rectangle ones.  My daughter when she was a baby had gurds so she spit up a LOT, and I wanted that extra neck protection.  While the curved ones look cool, they don't provide a lot of protection where you may need it the most.  I would rather not have spit up running down my neck and inside the collar of my top.

Last but not least.....  SIZE......
I started with buying my prints in 3/8 yard cuts.  Zigzag the raw edges before washing and fold as you would to make sure it's straight and even.   Then simply cut it in half, so your 45" long is now half that and still 3/8 yard wide.  I place my backing fabric on behind, wrong sides together and trim out as needed.  Grant your burp cloths won't be exactly the same size but close enough.   If your picky just cut them all out the same.  You can cut both layers at the same time to save time.  Pin sides together before lifting and I do a quick stitch around so they don't shift when I am sewing on the bias tape binding.   Sew on bias tape using your favorite method.  I like to sew it onto the back first (when I don't forget), and then onto the front so I make sure it looks really nice from the top.  Sometimes I may use clear thread for the top for a nicer look.

For the bias tape binding I would suggest a cotton because you don't want the extra bulk of the flannel for the binding.   You can use prints or cottons, however personally I usually use cheaper solid prints just to keep the cost down a tad since I am using the more expensive cotton terry for the backing and a nice flannel print for the front.

But either way they make nice burp cloths and after the baby is grown can be used as cleaning rags or whatever rags and will last a very long time because they are made well and very durable.    There are so many cute flannel prints these days to take advantage of. 

I've gotten a lot of compliments on these from the new mom's i have given them to.








9  OCCASIONS AND HOLIDAYS / Baby Showers And Gifts For New Babies / Re: Adorable Pacifier Clips! on: February 19, 2014 11:16:50 AM
These are super simple to make and fun.  However I prefer fabric instead of ribbon for several reasons.  First they wash better, but they are also stronger so they last longer.    I cut my fabric wider than I need, fold in a seam allowance on each side using a Sewing Gauge ruler, iron and make a seam on each side.  I do both sides so it looks nicer.   

For the clips I prefer to use the clips used for suspenders, but they also make dandy mitten clips as well.  Or clips to put on each side of the pant leg and goes under your foot so when you slide your foot inside a boot your jeans don't slide up your leg.  I have no idea what they are called, but that's what they do.   I buy mine on ebay by the 100 count.

But when sewing the clip to the fabric I fold over my raw edges and prefer to hand stitch this down for a neater look. 

then for the other end, I do this after I fold in my seam allowances and before I stitch it closed.  But I fold the raw edge up so it's tucked in when it's sewn closed.   But I also decide how I am going to finish it first before stitching it closed as well.  Depending on the pacifier used I may just leave it or I may cut 3 inches of 1/4" elastic and put the raw edges of the elastic inside before sewing shut.  Leaving enough elastic out to loop the pacifier through this elastic.  If I use elastic as the loop I stitch across the fabric several times above and below my first stitch line to really secure it so it won't come out and become a choking hazzard.  If I just stitch it closed I add a plastic snap leaving enough room for the handle of the paci.   

When considering fabrics use smaller prints or solids so the print doesn't get lost because it's not very wide.   It takes a bit longer to make rather than just cutting ribbon but in the long run I do think it's a better product.     
10  PURSES, BAGS, WALLETS / Purses, Bags, Wallets: Discussion and Questions / Re: Help in reconstructing this purse - the "hard/padded front" ? on: February 19, 2014 11:02:34 AM
Why does it have to be exactly like the one at hotopic?  Why can't it be inspired?   

Sew your bag like you want it, but on the front use applique for the black portion of the bag as seen in the photo link.  You could cut your design out any way that you wanted then or print it out sized to how you need it and trace that onto your fabric.  You could even use a regular sewing pattern for the bag if you didn't have enough experience to wing it and make your own pattern.   Just applique the design onto the front of the bag at the right time when constructing it.


Then you could make several with different designs or even colors.
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