Tag Archives: sewing

I Bought a Beard Trimmer, and It Wasn’t for my Husband!

Living within one’s means is a tough thing to do; whether it is the inability to work, or the inability to find adequate work, many people struggle to keep their bills paid and their fridges full. This causes stress. For me, the best thing for stress is to take up a hobby. Something that you love to do that takes enough brainpower to distract you, but not so much that you get frustrated. Preferably you will enjoy a cheaper hobby like coloring or writing, but if your hobby is expensive like mine, you may need to get creative in order to enjoy your hobby without creating any additional stress.

Most people I know love to quilt. What most people don’t know is that quilting can be quite expensive. Even if you decide that all your quilts will be made from scraps and you buy a second hand machine; you will be appalled at the prices of scissors, thread, needles, mats, rulers, rotatory cutters, blades and even patterns. So in order to quilt on a budget you need to learn to cut corners. Where is the first place you should go to learn about how to save money on this hobby? Other quilters of course

Quilting boards and blogs on the internet have been a great places for me to find ways to save money. I now know which shops offer free or discount shipping and that Harbor Freight has blades that fit my rotatory cutter for a fraction of the price. My most recent discovery was my most exciting to date, and it’s one that can benefit other quilters like me with a disability.

The quilting world loves its gadgets; there are machines that cut for you, natural light lamps, and hundreds of rulers that guarantee accurate cuts, all of which come with a hefty price tag. My most recent find in the sewing gadget world seemed like a dream come true. An automatic seam ripper? Sure, it seems ridiculous, until you find yourself hours into taking apart forty blocks with one corner sewn in backwards. But the price stopped me in my tracks. This $20 dollar gadget looked a lot like a beard trimmer to me.

Sure enough, I found that the modal number for the gadget toting itself as an automatic seam ripper was really just this beard trimmer wearing a clever sticker and a heftier prices tag. I know what you’re thinking, “you did not buy a beard trimmer to quilt with!” But I did, and you know what? It works! Will I use it every day? No. Will it save me from the pain and wasted time when I make a really big mistake? Yep!

Making your favorite hobby affordable may take some investigation. It may also take doing things that seem a little crazy sometimes. But in the end you will be glad you took the time to find a more affordable option, that way you can enjoy your hobby without feeling guilty.

What’s the weirdest gadget you have ever bought to save time?

Ironing Will Never be Fun, but it Doesn’t Have to be a Struggle

ironingLike so many other children, I wanted nothing more than to grow up so I could do what I wanted when I wanted. It took about five minutes of living alone to realize that I had been foolish. Being a grown up does mean you can mostly do what you want when you want, but it also means that there is no one else around to do what needs to be done. Household chores become solely your responsibility, and they aren’t any more enjoyable as an adult.

Ironing is one chore that I avoided successfully for 28 years. If something was wrinkled, I wore something else. If I had no other options, I would sometimes throw it in the dryer hoping for the best. But most of the time, I would just put it on anyway and hope that by the time I got to where I was going the wrinkles would fall out on their own.

I was perfectly happy with this arrangement. However, when I started quilting I discovered that ironing, and more specifically pressing, was going to be necessary. My mother gave me an iron and for a while I borrowed an ironing board; but I knew that eventually I would need my own.

I also knew I would have to find something that would fit my needs. I probably had a more few requirements than the average person buying an ironing board. I wanted to be able to use it standing or sitting, I wanted to be able to put it away independently, and I wanted it to be big enough to work with my larger quilts. This over the door ironing board turned out to be just the right fit. When open, it is a good height for sitting or standing, folds up against the wall for easy storage and is 14 inches wide by 42 inches long.

I have been using this board for a few years now and it works well. The ironing board can bare a lot of weight, which is especially good since I tend to lean on things while I work; so for added stability I put a wedge under my door to minimize shifting. I will caution that because this board only attaches to the top of the door it will slide an inch or two if leaned into, This slight shifting has not caused me to fall or loose my balance, and if not an issue at all when I am sitting because I don’t lean into the board.

I still hate ironing and pressing. In fact, it is my least favorite part of quilting. I have by no means gotten any better at ironing my clothing either, but this board makes this dreaded chore a little bit less of a burden.

Rediscovering A Blast From My Past

Because I acquired my disability shortly after birth, I have spent my life using adaptive equipment and assistive technology. Some of these items I still use today, like my crutches and my bath chair. Other items, like my leg braces and adaptive writing utensils, I no longer use at all. Every once in a while though, one of those long ago items will become useful again and I then wonder why I ever stopped using it in the first place.

Recently, I have been struggling with things that slip; like my feet on the kitchen floor, the cutting board on the counter, my ruler on my cutting matt, my butt on the chair in my sewing room. All of these things are frustrating at the very least, and have the potential to be very dangerous. I’ve tried to come up with various solutions that didn’t involve spending a small fortune on non-slip rugs and rubber coated kitchen supplies. I have put blue tape on my ruler and my cutting board. I even considered the possibility of rubber cementing the bottoms of my most used kitchen supplies to see if that would help. Then I had a flashback to my first grade classroom, where my teacher, Ms. Hart used to put prices of blue rubber sheeting under my paper so it wouldn’t slip when I wrote.

All it took was one quick post to a CP forum I am part of to discover an item called dycem; big plus side is that it is available online. Dycem is great; it is tacky on both sides and will stick to nearly everything. It can be cut to any size so I can use it on the floor under my feet, on my chair under my butt, under my cutting mat and ever under my ruler when I am cutting fabric. I can even use it under fabric when I need to trace a template. But that’s not all, dycem is not only good at preventing all manners of slippage, is also great for adding grip to items. It can be used to open jars and bottles, or strips can be added to handles, pens or even a toothbrush to supply a better grip.

Dycem has a million possible uses. And it is not just for people with disabilities. Dycem can be useful to anyone who is sick of having their stuff slide around; I can even see it being a great tool for mothers with young children. Dycem is also reusable and washable, so one small roll can last quite a long time and be used for several different applications. If you find you are regularly putting Dycem under certain items regularly, it can be permanently adhered to any surface with a little superglue. I think I might glue some to the back of a clipboard so that I can finally carry papers around the office without them sliding off my lap. What do/would you use dycem for?

A Gift of UNlimited Quilting

I have been known to use almost anything at my disposal in order to complete a task on my own. The words stubborn and determined are often used to describe me.  I like my independence and I will do almost anything to keep it; including carrying objects in my mouth, using my crutches to reach for things or using anything from a stool to a trashcan as a walker when mine is out of reach.

This drive for independence is strongest when I am working on my quilts. Quilting is another passion that I discovered just recently.  Three years ago, I never would have believed that I could sew a single seam let alone make an entire quilt from start to finish on my own; but my Mother-in-Law did believe. It is because of her gift of a sewing machine that I discovered a whole new way  I could create beautiful works of art I could share with my family and friends.

In the three years I have been sewing, I have made about 30 quilts, and most of them have been given away to family and friends. I love to give quilts to people. Giving someone a unique gift they will have forever gives me a sense of happiness.

For all the joy it brings me, quilting isn’t something that comes easy. I have had to come up with my own way of doing things in order to make quilting work for me. One of these is learning how to cut fabric on the floor. I didn’t have a a table that was big enough for me to cut on in my sewing room, so I had to cut the pieces for every quilt on the floor. When I had a quilt with a lot of pieces I often got fatigue in my arms and hips, so I started using a laundry basket for support.

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This Christmas, my Mother-In-Law once again surprised me with a generous gift. A quilting table! She knew I would need something really sturdy, because I need to lean on the table for support; and she also knows from being a quilter herself that I might want to move the table around.  She bought me a sturdy table with locking wheels so I can move it where I need to and still lean on it for support.

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I have had the table for a few days now, and already, I don’t know how I ever lived without it. Though it is a sewing table I think it could be used for a number other crafts or applications. I could see it being used by others in a laundry room for folding clothes or any room where you might need an easily moveable and sturdy surface at which to work.

It took my husband almost 4 hour hours to put together, but the effort was totally worth it. I can now make my quilts completely unlimited by pain or fatigue. I am also finding unexpected uses for my new table every day,

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