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1  SEWING IN GENERAL / Sewing Machines: Discussion and Questions / Sewing machine maintenance on: May 18, 2010 11:32:47 PM
I'm fairly new to sewing, and was wondering if someone of you expert seamstresses could give some tips and hints on sewing machine maintenance.  I just, for the first time ever, cleaned out my machine and oiled it, and since I don;t have a manual, did a whole lot of guessing and hoping.

So....how often should a it be oiled?  Cleaned?  What kind of tools would be good to have on hand for cleaning?  What kinds of oil work? What kinds of things extend machine life?  What shortens machine life? Or... do you have any other bit of machine advice you might have picked up along the way?

I  I know that all machines are slightly different, but surely there must be some ideas or care techniques that are shared by all machines.

Any kind of information would be greatly appreciated!
2  HOME SWEET HOME / Interior Decorating: Completed Projects / Rasturbated dog poster (and my grinning kid!) on: May 17, 2010 12:39:32 PM
We were in need of some high impact wall art for the kiddos' rooms, and decided to rasturbate random images found online.  Not much more to say than that really, but the response was overwhelmingly positive-- score another one for crafty parents!

3  MISCELLANEOUS TOPICS / Completed Projects / "Manly" tentacle heating pad/ice pack/bed warmer (with small text tutorial!) on: May 14, 2010 07:52:02 AM
I'm not sure if this post belongs in this category-- if not, please feel free to move it. Smiley

Hubs has the tendency to get migraines, and finds that a heating pad wrapped around his neck really helps alleviate the pain.  We used to have one of those rice bags a long time ago, but it was 1) not shaped quite right, and 2) really ugly.

They are really easy to make-- definitely a project suited for a beginner with the sewing machine.  Also well suited for people like me, who tend to hold on to those little odd shaped bits of fabric because "I might be able to make something with them someday".

I made this with a scrap of grey floral cotton, fabric paint, Sharpie, and used lentils as the filling, because they are a lot less pokey than rice is. I know that fabric paint and permanent marker probably arent supposed to be used in the microwave, but it's been fine so far-- no smoke, fire, or heinous hot-chemical stink.  I figure it's an "at your own risk" kind of thing. Smiley

Materials needed:

Fabric (scraps are fine! Yay for stashbusting!)
Sewing machine
Lentils/rice/beans/feed corn

Embellishments (embroidery, fabric paint and permanent marker seem to be fine for heat or cold, you could add things like buttons or glitter or sequins if it was strictly used for cold)
Essential oils or dried scented plants (lavender or sage are popular)


1) Figure out how big you want the heating pad, and what shape you want it.  Long thin ones are good for around the neck, a triangular one is good for the lower belly, and chubby rectangles are good for knees, for example.  I even tried to make a small star shaped one for hand and thumb injuries, but it needs a little more planning than I gave it... oops.

2) Cut two pieces of fabric a little bigger than the dimensions you figured out.  You need to leave a little room for seam allowance, and also for the filling of the bag.

3) Embellish the fabric if you'd like, and allow to dry thoroughly (if you used paint). Be careful on this though and make sure that what you use will be okay for the person with the injury-- I really doubt glitter would be a good thing to put on a fresh incision, you know?  Up to you.

4) If you're planning on using scent-- I didn't on this one, but have done before on others-- put your lentils/beans/rice/dried corn into a bowl, and mix with a few drops of essential oil or with the dried plants.  Set aside.
5) Sew the cut pieces, wrong sides together, with a zigzag stitch.  You'll want to leave one small side open for filling.

6)Flip the little bag right side out, and sew the sides you've already stitched on the right side this time.  I used a straight stitch, but I'm sure a decorative stitch would work nicely too.  The point is to simply add strength (you do NOT want one of these to break on you-- dried foodstuffs get EVERYWHERE) and to make the edges look pretty.

7) Take those lentils/beans/rice you set aside and fill the bag with them.  You'll want the bag to be about 2/3- 3/4 full to allow for it to shape to the body.  Using a paper bag or a funnel to guide them into the bag makes things much, much easier.

Cool Pin just about where the lentils/rice/beans/feed corn ends (to keep them from falling into the line where you're sewing-- really messes things up), flip the ends closed, and stich closed. I used a double row of straight stitching on this one, but again, up to you.

9) Done! Hooray for you, and the lucky recipient of this practical-yet-awesome gift! Throw it in the freezer as an ice pack, or pop it into the microwave for about 90 seconds for a heat pack. Obviously, this will not last forever, but if you treat it right (ie, DONT GET IT WET), it should last a few years.

Other uses:
These also work really well in cold climates-- heat them up in the microwave, throw them at the foot of the bed, go take off your makeup and brush your teeth, and by the time you're done, the foot of your bed is nice and toasty warm.

For animal rescue folks, little bags like these (unembellished, of course) are great for rescued kittens or pups that are still too young to be on their own or elderly arthritic critters.  Don't heat them up past "warm"-- we don't want to burn the poor little guys!-- but they seem to like to snuggle up to these warm little bags to sleep.

Anyways, thanks for looking, and comments/questions/friendly criticism is welcome!
4  HOME SWEET HOME / Crafty Housewares: Discussion and Questions / Hmm, how to recreate this anthropologie chair-hammock thing..? on: May 05, 2010 09:43:29 AM
I am wholly and completely in love with the knotted melati chair from anthropologie, but of course, don't have the $498+ $150 s/h that it would cost. 

I'vbe been mulling over in my head how to make one like it, and while the knotwork looks simple enough for me, I am a little concerned about the material the macrame is covering.  Hubby thinks it's likely wood, but I fear it might be metal.  Wood or plastic I could deal with (provided it's strong enough to hold someone up) but I really have no idea how to get started with metal work.  Thoughts/suggestions?

http://www.anthropologie.com/anthro/catalog/productdetail.jsp?subCategoryId=&id=960073&catId=HOME-SUMMERHOUSE1&pushId=HOME-SUMMERHOUSE1&popId=HOME-SUMMERHOUSE&sortProperties=&navCount=15&navAction=jump&fromCategoryPage=true&selectedProductSize=&selectedProductSize1=&color=049&colorName=BLUE MOTIF&isSubcategory=&isProduct=true&isBigImage=true&templateType=templateC

If I can't figure the knotted chair out, I think I'll "settle" for making my own version of the Tranquil Paradise hammock:

http://www.anthropologie.com/anthro/catalog/productdetail.jsp?subCategoryId=&id=960082&catId=HOME-SUMMERHOUSE1&pushId=HOME-SUMMERHOUSE1&popId=HOME-SUMMERHOUSE&sortProperties=&navCount=175&navAction=middle&fromCategoryPage=true&selectedProductSize=&selectedProductSize1=&color=089&colorName=ORANGE MOTIF&isSubcategory=&isProduct=true&isBigImage=true&templateType=templateC
5  HOME SWEET HOME / Crafty Housewares: Completed Projects: General / Birdhouse in Your Soul painted pillowcase on: May 03, 2010 02:26:42 PM
I made this for hubs, with fabric paint and an old pillowcase.  The song "Birdhouse in Your Soul" by They Might Be Giants always makes me think of him.

Originally, the lettering was done with a fine paintbrush on the pillowcase, but OOPS! I screwed up on the lyrics.  There goes an hour and a half of my life I'll never get back, over a song that I know by heart-- or at least, thought I did!  I painted over with white, looked up the lyrics, and tried again.  Huzzah! Success!

Anyways, thanks for looking, and please excuse the cat, Pablo.  There is no moving him when he's super comfy.
6  HOME SWEET HOME / Crafty Housewares: Completed Projects: Reconstructed / Junk item re-do number 2: a five light pendant lamp. on: April 13, 2010 08:06:18 AM
We moved into a new house, and in the dining room was one of those tacky, cheap, brass-esque ceiling lights.  You know the ones, I'm sure.  They seemed to breed rapidly in 1979, then thankfully died out by 1985, except for rental homes and fixer-uppers.

Ours worked fine, but was dull, rusted in spots (how "brass" rusts is beyond me) and covered in sticky goop that I refuse to try to identify.

Anyway, our darling daughter-- who has very interesting taste in color, fashion, etc-- needed a light in her room, so we decide to redo it in a way that would get a huge "WOW!!" out of her.

Primer: $2
Spray paint: $4.
Glitter glue: $2
Having a one of a kind, superawesome light in your bedroom that your dorky parents made, making them not as dorky as you thought:  Priceless.

7  HOME SWEET HOME / Crafty Housewares: Completed Projects: Reconstructed / Mosaic Table-- from WHY?!?! to WOW!! (EDITED to add closeup photos) on: November 05, 2009 07:42:14 AM
My husband bought a table on Craigslist.  It was crappy... really, really crappy.  Not even worth the $20 he spent on it.  I cannot even explain how awful this table was.

I don't have before photos, but it was one of those coffee tables where there is press-board (in this case, stained and water damaged) and spaces for some beveled glass (which someone had taken out and replaced with floor tile, of all things).  

We didn't want to throw it out, so used his skills with carpentry to make it sturdy again, did the top in a mosaic, and painted the rest of it glossy black.

It's a pretty big table- the mosaic part is 3 ft by 3 ft, and it took me about 7 hours to do.  Most of the glass in there was intended for stained glass art, but there are also pieces of a pretty blue bottle, some interesting plates we found, and some beads my grandmother gave me.  I tried to use nippers to cut the glass initially, but gave up and just put the glass in a big bucket and dropped a sledgehammer in a few times to break it.  We sealed it in polycrylic, then scattered some little hardware pieces (washers I think?  Hardware is not my forte!) and some scrapbooking medallion thingies, and covered the entire piece in glass we had cut to fit.

We have three kids, and even with the drinks spilled and the crumbs that end up on it, it has held up beautifully so far.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this!

8  CLOTHING / Clothing: Discussion and Questions / Soon to be hurt craftster-- how to mod clothes so I can dress myself?? on: July 02, 2009 06:51:39 PM
Hi everyone!

This isn't the standard sort of question, but if anyone can answer it (with sparkle and panache, no less!) it will be you.

I'm about to have shoulder surgery soon to get several bony bits taken out and several metal bits put in, which will leave me quite incompetent for at least 8 weeks.  Thankfully, surgery will be on my left shoulder and I'm right handed, but since I'm going to be in a shoulder immobilizer for that time, I'll still be one handed.

I've already made and purchased some long elastic waist skirts, because they are a lot easier to use than pants with buttons or flies (or, heaven forbid, button flies!) but I'm a bit stuck on what to do for shirts/tops. 

I'm looking for cuteness that won't take either the 1) majority of my day to put on, or 2) the majority of my bank account to acquire.

I'm open to any and all ideas!  Thanks so much in advance!
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