How to start a new hobby (without going broke)

Did you know I’m obsessed with hobbies? Sewing aside, I’ve also participated endurance events, earned an advanced SCBUA certification and spent countless hours fiddling with my beloved DSLR camera.

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I’ll try almost anything – trampoline workout classes, indoor skydiving, surfing lessons or those trendy “let’s all paint an elaborate picture together while we drink wine” classes.

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Why I love hardware stores (and you should too)

Let me start off by saying that, in my opinion, craft stores trump all other stores. The amount of potential in a craft store is overwhelming. I can look at the most minuscule little item and think of a zillion and one ways to turn it into something fun… which is why I go in for one item, and leave three hours later with a cartful.

But that’s to be expected, right? I write a sewing blog, I’m pretty open about my love for crayons and I had to pick my roommate up off the floor when she first saw my colossal sticker collection. Of course I love craft stores.

But I don’t exactly fall into the typical “hardware store” demographic.

Tim Al Home Improvement

I don’t wear a tool belt. Or plaid.

I’m not sure when my opinion about hardware stores changed. I remember being dragged to the hardware store throughout my childhood and thinking it was the worst shopping trip ever. My brother and I found solace in the doorbell section… lots of buttons to push, both literally and figuratively.

The other day, I went to the hardware store for a mop (they have the best section of cleaning supplies!) and I was reminded how much I’ve grown to love hardware stores. They’re just intensified versions of craft stores. The difference is that the floor is a lot dirtier, the merchandise is pretty heavy and the tools and chemicals in there might kill you if used improperly (whereas the hot glue gun at the craft store? Just a minor burn, people).

But really, the differences aren’t important. The bottom line is that both stores are exploding with potential. A bunch of people might buy the exact same item and use it in a different way, for a different reason or with different results.

See what I mean?

Pattern Weights from bolts and washers

Toni at Sugar Tart Crafts uses washers and bolts wrapped in ribbon as pattern weights! Brilliant.

Paint chip gift box and bow

Crafters go cuckoo for paint chips… check out this amazing paint chip gift box and bow from Style with a Smile TV.

PVC Pipe Playhouse

Of course, every great playhouse starts with PVC pipes… including this playhouse from PVCplans.com.

Whenever I walk into  a hardware store, I wish I had the ability to build something amazing.  Remember Amy Wynn Pastor on Trading Spaces, circa early-2000’s? She was an awesome example of girl-power, and always executed the most brilliant ideas.

Amy Wynn Pastor

Amy Wynn Pastor

So if I woke up with magical carpentry skills, what would be the first thing I’d want to build?

I think I’d like to start with this treehouse. What do you think? 🙂

New Treehouses of the World by Pete Nelson

Coming soon to my backyard: from the book New Treehouses of the World by Pete Nelson.

Creative Visions and a Placemat Purse

A few weeks ago, I found some clearance placemats at Cost Plus World Market and had a vision – I could easily turn a few placemats into a purse. I still consider myself pretty inexperienced when it comes to sewing, so the fact that I felt so confident about my vision also made me feel a little wary, as if I were missing some glaring error in my plans.

But there was no way I could pass up the opportunity since the placemats were marked down to less than $2.00 each – and I had a rewards coupon on top of that – so I brought home two place mats and a matching napkin to see what I could do.

Placemat purse - the before picture

The “before” picture!

I worked slowly and did a lot of thinking before I made any permanent decisions along the way, but lo and behold, I made a placemat purse lined with the napkin!

World Market placemat purse

The “after” picture… success!

World Market placemat purse lined with a napkin

… lined with a matching napkin.

Place mat purse with an optional bow

…with an optional bow.

I still have a little bit of fabric leftover and I think I can make a zipper pouch with it. I also bought a few more placemats and napkins so I can make another purse, document the experience with photos and write a tutorial soon.

Cheers to creative visions!

The Quilt Cottage & other tales from up North!

With some of the world’s most popular tourist destinations at our fingertips, have you wondered where we Central Florida “Disney” people go on vacation? Well, here’s the answer – in my case, at least:

Wisconsin postcard

Mooooooooooooooove over, Mickey Mouse!

My family started taking annual summer trips to Minocqua, Wisconsin long before I was even born – my dad’s family started going when he was a kid. We spend more than a week residing in lakeside cabins with a large group of our closest friends.

Ideal Minocqua days are spent water skiing, boating, kayaking, jet skiing and swimming in the lake; Evenings grilling, playing board games and passing out from exhausting, activity-filled days.

Dad water skiing

My dad is really, really good at water skiing!

Of course, there’s always at least one dreary day in Northern Wisconsin – it’s not the Sunshine State, after all! This year, my mom and I visited The Quilt Cottage, a warm and welcoming Northwoods-y fabric shop.

The Quilt Cottage

The Quilt Cottage on Highway 51 in Minocqua, Wisconsin

The store was homey and friendly, and definitely had an overall woodsy feeling. Most of the fabrics were very muted without many bright or bold colors. I spent a lot of time checking out the small selection of bag and purse patterns. I liked more than a few of them, but I refrained from getting any knowing how many patterns I have sitting at home! Even though I didn’t purchase anything, it was interesting to see how regional differences can affect the overall tone of a fabric store.

Now that I’m back from vacation, I do have a rather large scale sewing project in the works, but as usual – it’s top secret and I can’t write about it until it’s finished! Of couse, my “to sew” list is pages long, so hopefully I’ll have a new project to write about soon.

Although not completely responsible for my month-long blogging absence, my vacation preparation and recovery time have definitely taken a toll on my sewing adventures this past month. What have you all been up to?

Scary Stretch Knits & “Something Wearable” Suspense!

Yesterday I bought most of the supplies that I’ll need for my upcoming sewing class at JoAnn’s – Sewing 301: Misses Dress. It was hard to decide on a color, but I finally decided on a fuchsia stretch knit. I’ve only had one experience with stretch knit in the past, and it was INCREDIBLY disastrous – so it will be interesting to see how this turns out with the help of a professional. Right now, I avoid stretch knits like the plague, so I’m a little scared, but I know I’ll be incredibly excited and proud if the end result is even a partial success. Crossing my fingers!

JoAnn Sewing 301 Supplies

Fabric, interfacing, invisible zipper and supply list! Still need to pick up thread and the actual pattern for class.

On a side note, I noticed that the classes in July and August will be making a different dress than the one I’ll be making in my June class. The dress that is being offered in July and August is not my style at all. I’m so grateful I took the plunge and signed up a few weeks back!

JoAnn Sewing 301 Dress

July/August dress

What’s next? Pre-wash my fabric, purchase the rest of my supplies and then just wait. The “Countdown to Something Wearable” continues!

I hope everyone is having a magical weekend. I know I am!

ZIPPITY-Doo-Dah!

Zippers

At some point in my sewing-blog adventures, I came across the ZipIt Etsy shop and had two realizations:

  1. Multi-colored zippers are really, really appealing when arranged in beautiful rainbow-like formations.
  2. This ZipIt Etsy shop has some magical zipper prices.

After my jewelry roll success, I decided it was time to splurge and purchase an array of zippers to keep at my fingertips. That way I won’t have to run to the store every single time I need a zipper, which will likely save me money in the long run. This is a familiar scenario: I need one zipper. I come home hours later with about three hundred unnecessary sewing accessories… and one zipper.

I normally pay around $1.99/zipper at the fabric store. But for $31.00 total, which included shipping costs, I ordered 100 zippers in a variety of colors and sizes, which made each zipper only 31 cents each. AND… I ordered these beauties on May 9 and received them on May 11. Wow. WOW!

First project on the list? A zipper pouch to hold all of these zippers!


One-Yard Wonders

Really excited about this book I picked up at a Borders going-out-of-business sale this weekend…

One-Yard Wonders book

One Yard Wonders: 101 Sewing Projects; Look how much you can make with just one yard of fabric! by Rebecca Yaker and Patricia Hoskins, complete with a packet of patterns inside!

Now, I don’t think I can adequately review this book until I actually try some of the projects, but I am already excited about a whole bunch of them! I’ll be sure to note which future projects are “One-Yard Wonders” so y’all can follow along as I attempt to make every single thing in the book. Okay, maybe not every single project, but the thought sure is tempting…

I hope everyone had a magical weekend!

As Seen on TV: Style Snaps (Stink)

I’ve been seeing a commercial lately for a product called Style Snaps. The first time it came on, I was immediately drawn to it, wondering what kind of sewing-related product would be exciting enough for an “As-Seen-on-TV!” style commercial. Within seconds I was less than sold. Watch for yourself:

I just don’t get why these Style Snap things are supposed to be so amazing. The “finished product” – or faux hemmed pants – LOOK like a faux hem. They don’t look nice at all. It LOOKS like the pants are folded under, which is exactly what I’m trying to avoid when I hem my pants.

One more thing – what is up with the borderline-provocative visual right around 0:59-0:60? “Sexy and tight for a look that’s DEFINITELY right!” Ugh, I’m sorry, I thought I was watching a commercial about HEMS.

Of course, I had to look up the reviews for these things, and they are terrible! Not only are oodles of reviewers complaining about being scammed as far as the shipping and handling costs go, but the product isn’t even working well as advertised. The snaps have a sticky backing that either don’t stick to the fabric at all, or leave sticky adhesive behind when they do.

Beware Style Snaps! (But if you MUST try them even after reading this post, get them from eBay or Amazon and steer clear of the “official” site, BuyStyleSnaps.com – that is where most reviewers are getting scammed with misleading shipping costs)

Could you see yourself trying Style Snaps?

The Friday Five: 5 essential tools for new sewers

1) First and foremost, the seam ripper. To err is human, to rip seams is… the story of my life. I have a love/hate relationship with the seam ripper. Much like calling an ex-boyfriend for help moving heavy furniture, using the seam ripper is sometimes unavoidable but leaves you with a sense of pouty, annoyed defeat. Plus, it’s sort of creepy looking.

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2)  An iron! I didn’t even own an iron before I started sewing. And middle-school-sewer Lindsay was usually too lazy to press seams which is probably why my sewing projects never looked very nice back then. I realized that when I’m told to press the seams, I should actually press the seams. So I bought an iron. Now my seams are happy!

3) A good vacuum. Tons of little thread clippings and fabric shavings tend to float around the entire house when there’s a big sewing project in the works. Right now I am not practicing what I preach – my vacuum is lousy and my carpet is full of clippings from past projects. I dream of getting one of those robot vacuums at some point in my life:

4) Tester fabric – like muslin, or fabric leftover from other projects. Don’t use the good stuff the first time around! You’ll end up teary-eyed when you have a pile of seam-ripped scraps that once was a beautiful, freshly folded square of carefully-chosen fabric. Make mistakes on the boring fabric first!

5) Rotary cutter and mat. I received mine as a gift from my mom when I bought my sewing machine. At first I thought it was a luxury item. It’s not… it’s a must-have. I shall never cut a clean, straight line on fabric without a rotary cutter again!

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Happy Friday!