Friday, October 9, 2009

New Sewing Machine!

My little models, showing off the machine.

Cost: $550
Time: I've waited way too long...
Links: Janome MemoryCraft 6600P

Presenting my new sewing machine: The Janome MC 6600. Yipee! I've been wanting a sewing machine for a while... I was holding out buying a new one because I wanted to check out a sew&vac store in Rochester (NH) for their large selection of used sewing machines. I got pretty overwhelmed quickly at looking in the warehouse at their stock of used sewing machines. They all looked pretty blah thrown on the shelves, somewhat disorderly... newer looking machines sitting next to machines identical to the 1962 Slant-O-Matic I was trying to replace. There were only 3 machines that adjustable speed control... all looking more expensive than I wanted to put out for a used machine.

We went back in the store to look at the new ones and one machine did stand out. It had the features I needed: adjustable speed control, solid metal (can handle thick materials), and up-down needle control. But it also had features I loved: built-in walking-foot (I'm always struggling with the cheap Chinese walking foot I got for my Slant-O-Matic), knee lift, extra high presser foot lift, and great lighting to name a few.... at a price of $1200. Ugh... Then they said they had a used one in the back, identical to the new one, for $550. This was at the high end of my price range for a non-embroidery machine, but it did look promising. I decided to take my time, go home and research the machine.

Turns out, it is a great machine. There was even a yahoo group made for people who love the machine, with 4000+ members. *hangs head* Yes I joined - 12th yahoo group I'm in maybe? So I went back the next day and bought it. Since then I've found more things to love about the machine,I'll spare you the details, since this is pretty boring, but it did come with a large table I wasn't expecting to be included with the machine.

There are a couple of things that I don't like. First, the previous owner was a chain smoker. The sewing machine is fine, but the cover and instruction book are pretty stinky. Second, I've noticed a problem with the needle being too close to the edge of every foot. If I go over a large bump it hits the foot and either breaks the needle or makes machine start acting like it's possessed (lights flash, gears groan and won't shut off). I have a year warranty, so I think I'll take it in at some point to fix that one. For now, I hold down the foot while if I'm going over a big bump. Third, I've seen the machine skip stitches on occasion. I'm still don't know why, but it hasn't been a huge deal. Other than that... the machine is great!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Shorts and Buddy Bag

So... we have two wedding to go to this summer and both are in the south. I was having a wicked hard time finding an dressy outfit suitable for the hot south for Elijah. After lots of mis-sizes, long pants and sleeves, I settled for a shirt I found on clearance at Macy's and linen pants I found at the children's place (with matching Hat). We had a Blue tie, and matching vest (not shown) already at home.

The shorts were pants that I chopped off and hemmed. I haven't done clothes in a while. I'm still not a fan. I also changed the velcro on the tie to a snap, less scratchy, harder to pull off and it gives him a little bit more room.

The bag is Elijah's new 'buddy bag'. He loves carrying around Eve's purses, and Jon typically discourages him wearing them (after we leave the car- he doesn't mind it up to that point). It's made from the scrap from cutting the pants. I used one pant leg for the bag and one for the strap. At first I used a snap to close it, but I changed my mind. It'd still be a couple years before he'll be able to close a snap well, and he really likes using buckles right now. Plus, I wanted to look more masculine, like a message bag, and the buckle helps to convey that look.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Recycled Crayons

Time: 2.5 hours
Cost: Free

The top picture shows our best crayons. The middle picture shows the nice side of all of them, and the last shows the truth on which ones were good and which are downright ugly.

It was quite a learning experience, as you can pretty easily tell from the pictures. You can see the difference between first attempts and our last. Figuring out what to do was tricky. We wanted to use candy molds, so we needed to be able to pour the hot wax. So using the ol' oven-muffin-tin-and-paper-cups wasn't really do-able... And we just took out the recycling Monday, so we only had two tin cans to work with. We decided to double boil stove using the top and tins cans. Ugh. Those crayons never wanted to melt. And, I think we used too many.

So, it was supposed to be a fun activity for Eve and Elijah... And they did enjoying peeling, snapping and sorting the crayons... But they grew impatient waiting... and waiting... and after making the first [ugly] crayon, we let them watch TV while we experimented with our own crayons. At least Jon and I had fun :) After we turned out our own some bad ones using the stove top method, we gave up on using molds and had the kids come in and put the rest of the pieces into muffin tins and stuck it in the oven. After seeing how nicely those crayons in the oven melted, I wanted to try sticking the tin cans in the oven. Those still had a hard time melting, but liquid wax did occasionally come out. So I went and got a few of my old Crayola crayons to try just a few more. I put in less crayons in the bottom of a aluminum soda can. Much, much better. They melted fast and evenly. We were able to turn out a few good ones after that.

Conclusion: Fun for the adults, not as much fun for the kids. At least we'll know what to do if we try again. I think the best arrangement would be a lot of soda cans with each one devoted to a particular color group. Just pouring two together created some cool swirls. Oh, and FYI, if you use washable crayons the color sinks the bottom and only wax is left on the top. I guess I forgot to pull out one of the orange ones and messed up two of the muffin ones. Oh well.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Order Finished!

Yea! All 20 Diapers are now done. My goal was to have them done by Wednesday morning, but I didn't quite make it. I came close though :) I finished the pocket diapers Thursday night, but haven't done the inserts yet. It takes about 2 hours per diaper, so that was about 40 hours of work over two weeks. A 20 hour work week whilst watching two kids isn't too bad, right? Well, I'm happy. Here are the pictures of the finished products. Look nice don't they? $20 bucks says you can have one too (unless I know you, then you get a discount :)

Conclusion: Would I do such a big order again? Yes, but probably not back to back. The sewing only accounted for about 6 hours of the work. Most of the time was spend cutting and snapping, which is good, because I can cut and snap while watching the kids... So Jon only had to babysit a few nights while I worked.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Fold Over Elastic and Diaper Covers

It varied. I had to get used to working with FOE. The covers with gussets are more time consuming.
Cost: ~$1.50-$3.00 per cover
Links: MamaBird, Chloe Toes
I ordered some Fold Over Elastic from the This-End-Up co-op. I didn’t want to have a big order, since the last FOE I ordered from somewhere else was pretty bad, so I only got 5 yards of white. My mistake! I really like this stuff, it’s really soft and has a good strech. Luckily she threw in an couple yards each of seaspray, dark green and seaspray and brown bubbles. Still I used up my white instantly. I made Elijah two covers (my own pattern) and my friend a newborn cover with the mamabird pattern. Those turned out okay. I only put gussets in the NB one, and because that took some much time I didn't bother for the other two. It was definitely a learning experience for me.
There was a mistake in my CDMF order, so when I had another yard shipped out to me I ordered more white FOE (and seaspray PUL). I already used most of that white up too :) With the coordinating seaspray PUL and FOE I made a cover and two trainers. I wanted to try snaps for a diaper cover, so I used my one-size pattern, and I forget to make it smaller, so unfortunately the cover is a size large and Eli just barely fits in it (although it's still very cute). The trainers were easy enough to make, but both times I made the leg holes way to small so they don't fit well on Elijah either. I used a layer of zorb a soaker on a flannel liner for both.

I also made my favorite cover for Elijah. I made a new pattern using gussets, and a different snapping layout better suited for a cover and sized it to be medium. I was really afraid I wouldn't like it, but it turned out great! Yay, I ended up with something that fit Elijah right!

So my last project in my FOE adventures were two side-snapping covers. For the first one I drafted my own pattern from Eli's measurements and my trainer pattern. The the second one I used the free Chloe Toe's pattern. My pattern was tiny compared to her's (but I didn't find the notice to take and inch off the width until after I had cut the PUL). In the end, both patterns turned out a diaper about the same size. I should have tightened the front waist of the CT pattern more, but that was my fault. The CT diaper has a lot more room for "fluff" than mine, which I don't like, but I do like the stretch on the legs of hers much more. I still have some work on my pattern, but that will go on the back burner since I don't like side-snapping covers much anyway :-/

One thing I am bummed about is the FOE has been getting really pilly when it comes out of the dryer. Many times I find an aplix tab of another diaper stuck to the FOE, even though I folded them in. I so don't like velcro!

Pocket Diapers, Update, and Co-ops

So… It’s been a long time since I posted. It’s not that I haven’t been sewing, but I haven’t really had much new and exciting to post. I've made a few more pocket diapers for our family... Mostly out of desperation. Hehe. I get pretty lazy about washing cloth diapers sometimes and put off doing them until we have no diapers left. And since I had a stack of PUL pre-snapped and micro fleece cut, I would sew them while we waited for the diapers to wash. "Okay Elijah, wear undies until I finish snapping this one" :) It was motivation at least. Anyway, Now that I've made a bunch of diapers, I can say I really like my one-size pattern a lot. It fits well, looks professional and uses the sizing/adjustments/materials I want. Only 10 more diapers to reach my goal of 24, and I'm done! I've also made 4 of them to sell. Plus I've had a couple orders for mamapads and made a few for myself as well. Nothing really worth posting pictures for though (which is what really motivates me to post).

In March we went to Florida to visit my Dad and his parents, and then in April my mom flew to New Hampshire . We had a really good time for both visits. And in the meantime, our camera broke. Luckily it was still under warranty (thank you sister!), but it did take about 6 weeks to get it back. So finally I can take pictures of my kids (and projects) again! Yay! We (mainly Eve) made a scrap book to give to Grandma after she came to visit (using the pictures she took, lol ). I wish I could have posted a picture of that, but I didn't have the camera back in time :(

So, back to diapers... I got my first big order! Twenty diapers! I took some pictures of them after I cut them. The smaller pile is her order only, and the bigger pile is both her and mine combined (26 diapers!). So far I have 3 of her diapers finished and 15 of the PUL cut and snapped. So I still have a bit of work to do, but it's a start. I have to go get some more elastic, hopefully today, so I can get back to sewing these things. I hoping to have them done by Wednesday, which would be two weeks from when she ordered them. I hope I can do it :)

So we decided to try to start a business ( ). It's coming along, but I haven't really had much time to work on the website side of it lately. I have been preparing by buying stuff. I got a bunch of snaps (and I have to get more now because of this big order!), some more PUL, CuddleDry Microfleece (CDMF), and Fold-Over-Elastic. I was very happy with all of it. I'm also excited for my recent co-op orders. I'm ordering a lot of PUL from a great co-op at a low price (it'll be about 6.50 per yard for 2 mil - including fees, stm and sty). I've also got more FOE, aplix and elastic coming, plus I ordered two new things, template plastic and soapnuts. We'll see how those turn out. Unfortunately, the bamboo I ordered had some troubles, so I'll have to wait even longer for that.

Sunday, January 4, 2009


Cost: $30
Time: 11 hours and counting
Links: Dollhoues Collectibles, Real Good Toys

This is the dollhouse kit we got for Eve. We found it on craigslist, and Jon had *only* an hour drive to pick it up, so that worked out well. Unfortunately, I messed up the email communication and we weren't able to pick it up until the day before Eve's birthday. From 11:30 AM to 3 AM I pretty much worked on the kit. The basic assembly didn't take long, but the painting took a long time.

The kit was in good condition. It's called Cranberry Cove, and made by Walmer Enterprises, which doesn't exist anymore, but is owned by Real Good Toys. You can follow the link to their page, it's under the Liliput collection. Unfortunately, It doesn't have the milled MDF siding, like shown in the picture above. I'd like to put on shingles, but I think the siding would be too costly and take too much time, although, I do think it would look amazing with siding. But otherwise, all the rest of the pieces were included. Even the nails, which I didn't notice until halfway through assembling it. (Doh!)

I still have to put on the windows and doors, and the front porch is taped on in the first picture, which was taken when we presented it to Eve on her birthday. She hugged it when first she saw it, but seemed a little unsure about it. But she's asked to go down to the basement to look at it a few times after her party, and today we brought it up to play with it unfinished (but I taped some more parts in it a little later, like stairs and walls). Eve definitely enjoys it as a house, and Elijah enjoyed it as a shapesorter :) (see the pile of "sorted" dolls under the stair hole)

So I still have a lot to do on it. I need to finish painting the walls, the roof, the porch, windows and doors. I'm planing on staining the wood floors and the stairs, and *may* make the stairs look a little nicer with an overhang. Then I need to glue the windows, doors, porch, walls and raw edges with smooth wood. I'm still debating putting on the gingerbread trim. Eventually, I'll need to buy shingles, stain them and glue those on, put in molding, and maybe make a bathroom on the second floor, but before that I'll have to make furniture. So far I've only made a bed, so lots more to do there. I'll keep posting pictures as I update it!