How Did I Live Without …

Ever get a new sewing notion or tool, and think “how did I ever live without this?!?”   That was exactly my thought after getting this:
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My first rotary cutter and cutting mat!
Cutting out has always been my least favorite part of sewing.  I dread it.  And it used to take me forever.  But not any more!  (Well, I still don’t like it, but I think I hate it a little less.)  I am surprised at how much faster it is to use the rotary cutter.  I was scared of it at first, and thought maybe it wouldn’t work well for garments.  But I’ve found that if I am patient and careful it works great.
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I opted to get a large mat (actually it’s three large pieces that get clipped together) and a size 45 mm cutter (I read that this was the best size for garments). I’m happy with both choices, except the mat smelled really bad when I first got it. I soaked it in the bathtub with some dish soap and then left it in the garage to air out before I could handle keeping it in my sewing room.  The other bonus, the rotary cutter is much kinder to my wrist than shears!  Yay for great sewing tools!!

As a bonus, here’s my first rotary cut project – a muslin of Gertie’s pencil skirt!  (This pattern is awesome, btw.  Finished pics hopefully soon!)
Gertie Skirt Muslin

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Magnets are a Stitchers Best Friend

I love the little things that make life easier. Like magnets! They are the perfect sewing helper.

Check out this handy magnetic strip that my husband got at the hardware store. It’s meant for holding screwdrivers and such, but I think it makes the perfect scissor station. (True confession: he bought this for his workshop in the garage, but I stole repurposed it when he didn’t hang it up right away!)
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Now my scissors are always with reach, and not hiding under my fabric or patterns or whatever.

Also I Recently got a magnetic pin cushion. (Or should that be holder? There’s nothing cushion-y about it.) It was love at the first use. I think these should be renamed ‘flick-and-stick,’ or something. Seriously, I pretty much toss my pins at the direction of the holder and they stick right to it. And when I hear that dreaded ping that lets me know I’ve dropped a pin on the floor, I just wave the holder around until magnet snaps it back up. I fell in love so hard with the first one, I bought a second one to keep next to my machine at all times.
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Oh, and speaking of the hardware store, I also got this toolbox to use as my sewing box. It’s not the prettiest thing, but it was less than $5. And it’s a lot sturdier than the much pricier sewing baskets I’ve seen at craft stores. Also, my tape measurer fits perfectly in that little oval compartment on the top!
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I might have to get some stickers or something to bling it up a bit though.

What tools have you come across that make your sewing better/easier/more organized?

Risers!

My awesome husband made me the best gift this weekend.
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They are risers for my sewing table.  I use a folding table, which works great when I’m seated in my chair.  But when I use it for cutting, I always get a back ache from leaning over.  These little beauties are the answer.
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Now I can easily raise my table up to the correct height for when I’m cutting out.  Pretty nifty.
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He’s just recently taken to woodworking, and I’m thrilled to be the beneficiary of his newly acquired skills! So I’m thinking a little trade for services might be in order.  I picked up this pattern over the weekend:
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I’ve never sewn men’s clothes before.  I’m hoping the fitting will be easier, but I’m probably kidding myself!

Tutorial: Ironing Board Cover

When I first got my sewing machine, I set it up on my dining room table.  And every time I needed to press a seam, I had to get up and go in my bedroom, where I kept my ironing board.  As you can imagine, this got old – real quick. (No wonder I thought sewing was a hassle when I first started.)

Later I set up a designated sewing area in my house, and I got smart and put the ironing board right next to my machine.  It was a revolutionary move.  But it also meant that the ironing board sits out all the time.  And if it’s ugly — which mine was — it’s kind of a downer.  So when I repainted my sewing room, I knew I had to do something about my ironing board cover.  I mean look at this thing.  Yuck.

Ironing Board Cover Tut

If your ironing board looks sad like mine, it’s easy to make a new one.  Below are the steps I followed.

What makes this tutorial slightly different from some of the others out there, is that the only materials required for my method is 2 yards of 100% cotton fabric, some thread, and a little patience.            **Depending on the state of your current ironing board cover, this method may not work for you.  In that case, I suggest checking out this tutorial.

(1)  Before ripping the old cover off and chucking it, check out it’s guts.  On mine, there was some decent looking bias tape, and a string that looked okay.  (I know a lot of people don’t like covers that tie on.  If you’re in that camp, you may want to swap the string out for some elastic.)

Ironing Board Cover Tut

(2) Remove the old cover.  (My cover and pad were separate pieces.  My pad was in good condition, so I didn’t need to replace it.)

Ironing Board Cover Tut

(3) Next, unpick the bias tape.  This is the part where patience comes in – especially if you’re a super-slow picker, like me.  Note:  As I unpicked this, I did not separate the string from the bias tape.  I let it stay folded inside.  This will save you a step later.

Ironing Board Cover Tut

(4) After the bias tape is off, iron the old cover to get rid of all those puckers. (Since I had obviously removed my ironing board cover, I just draped the new fabric over the board for ironing this.)

Ironing Board Cover Tut

(5) Fold the cover in half and press.

Ironing Board Cover Tut

(6) Use the old cover as your pattern piece.  Align the center fold of the old cover along the fold of your new fabric.  Trace.  And cut.

Ironing Board Cover Tut

(7) Pin the old bias tape to your new cover.  Fold the bias tape over the raw edge of the fabric with the string trapped inside.  If you do it this way, you won’t have to go back and thread the string through later.

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(8) Sew.  Be careful not to sew over the string.  Also be sure to leave a small space open at the skinny end of the cover, for the strings to escape so that you can tie them.

Ironing Board Cover Tut

(9) Place the new cover on your board, and tighten the string.  I turned my ironing board over so that I could get good leverage on the strings.

Ironing Board Cover Tut

(10)  Enjoy!  You now have a new ironing board cover, and have barely used any new materials!

New Ironing Board Cover

A note about fabric:  I recommend getting 2 yards of 45″ fabric.  Quilting cotton works great.  1 yard could technically work, but you would end up with a seam somewhere along your ironing board.  And inevitably you would get marks on your fabric or clothes from ironing over the seam.   Whatever you use, make sure it’s 100% cotton so it can handle the heat of your iron.