Friday, January 30, 2015

Festive for Friday-Taking Care of Yourself with Worthy to Woo

Written by Laura Chaney, daughter


Valentine's Day is coming towards us faster than Cupid's flying arrow. I'm really not sure what happened to the month of January, but it's definitely over!

I read a pretty wide variety of blogs on a daily basis and many have already started promoting cute projects, date night ideas and sweet treats for the upcoming holiday. (Don't worry, next week we'll be sharing some ideas of our own using some of the containers from our book!) I love reading these ideas and in general they make me smile. There are so many ways to craft, sew and create that go far beyond the pipe cleaners and doily projects of my childhood.



Valentine's Day (and February in general) can be a rough time for a lot of people, including myself. Even though I live in California, the days are still dark and there have been times when I've gotten home from work and just not had the energy to craft or sew. By the time February rolls around I'm generally DONE with winter and darkness, no matter where I've been living. Having a February birthday doesn't help matters, either.

I may not have mentioned it on this blog, but I work with an Accountability Coach to help me keep calm and work towards my goals. I've had a lot going on in my life over the past year (book! blog! full time job! new relationships! all the things!) and Krissie REALLY helps me focus and make progress. Blogging, sewing and crafting would always be pushed to the back burner if I did't have her.

Krissie is offering a FREE class that focuses on the very thing that I (and I'm guessing many of you) need in the time around Valentines day in February: self-love, self-attention and self-courtship. I know that in order for my creative side to shine through I have to take care of myself first, which means throwing a little self-love my way even (or especially) when I'm overwhelmed.


I'm hoping that by spending five minutes a day on ME, I'll have more energy and confidence to be creative, take risks and extend love and kindness to those around me.

Krissie's offering Worthy to Woo is free, so there is obviously no compensation from this for Prairie Sewn Studios. She's actually completely unaware that I'm posting this, but I think it's a great way for us all to show a little self-love and reboost our creative energies.



Monday, January 26, 2015

Quilter's Tool Chest-Acrylic Rulers

Written by Laura Chaney, daughter

This post is part of our Quilter's Tool Chest where we share our favorite quilting notions, tools and gadgets.

Our first ten posts will focus our top recommended notions, tools and gadgets for new quilters. These are the perfect items to help a new quilter start building her quilty tool chest. If you're already a crafter these could be great tools to add to your arsenal to crossover and try a new craft.

This week we're continuing our Quilter's Tool Chest series with a tool that goes hand-in-hand with the rotary cutter: acrylic rulers.

These rulers are made of a sturdy acrylic plastic, usually about 3mm thick. In the U.S., they're typically marked in one-inch squares, with smaller hashmarks subdividing each square (1/16" and 1/8" are common markings). Different brands of rulers use hashmarks at different intervals, which can be important if you're trying to cut your fabric with precision.

acrylic ruler for quilting

The markings are on the back of the ruler, and often have a thin friction-based coating (similar to a teeny-tiny strip of sandpaper) that helps grip the fabric and hold the ruler in place when cutting with a rotary cutter. Some rulers also have markings to indicate 30, 45 and 60 degrees to facilitate cutting angles.

acrylic ruler for quilting

For the beginning quilter, I'd start with two rulers: 6x24 and 6x12. I find the 24" ruler super helpful to use when cutting long strips of fabric off my cut yardage. The ruler stretches all the way across the width of the fabric (when folded just like it was originally on the bolt) so it's easy to make the  cut in one smooth motion. The 12" ruler is easier to use when cutting your strip down into smaller pieces, or for measuring blocks I've sewn them to ensure my piecing is accurate.


Omnigrid is my favorite brand for acrylic rulers. You can find them at any quilting or crafting store, as well as online at Amazon. Below are links to the two sizes I recommend for starting your ruler collection, 6x12 and 6x24.



All product links are Amazon affiliate links which help support Prairie Sewn Studios. No additional compensation was provided for this post, just sharing some products we love to use to sew, craft and quilt! 

Friday, January 23, 2015

Festive for Friday-An Ikea Box and a Cat

Written by Laura Chaney, Daughter

Last Friday night we purchased some Ikea boxes to go inside of the Kallax unit that I'm using for my fabric and crafting storage. I've put two of the boxes together and filled one with scraps already. It appears Friday has found the other one and claimed it for his own.

Cat in ikea box

I almost hate that I'll have to kick him out of it, but it's all in the name of sewing studio organization!



What's made your week festive? 

Monday, January 19, 2015

Quilter's Tool Chest-Rotary Cutter

Written by Laura Chaney, daughter

We're kicking off a new series called Quilter's Tool Chest where we share our favorite quilting notions, tools and gadgets.

Our first ten posts will focus our top recommended notions, tools and gadgets for new quilters. These are the perfect items to help a new quilter start building her quilty tool chest. If you're already a crafter these could be great tools to add to your arsenal to crossover and try a new craft.

First up, a rotary cutter.

Rotary cutter
45mm Rotary Cutter

Rotary cutters are a relatively new invention to the quilting and sewing world, first introduced by Olfa in 1979. They revolutionized the way that quilters, seamstresses, tailor and crafters could cut fabric quickly, smoothly, and accurately.

We recommend a rotary cutter for a couple of different reasons.

1. It is SO much faster than scissors, especially for cutting long strips of fabric. Paired with a acrylic ruler (post coming soon!) you can quickly cut across the entire width on a bolt of fabric. Curves are no problem, either.

2. It improves your accuracy, both with long pieces of fabric and with smaller pieces. You can make cuts smoothly, leaving a cleaner edge than the jagged edge scissors tend to leave.

3. You can cut through multiple layers of time at a time, each layer with a clean smooth edge.

Rotary cutters come in lots of sizes, typically measured by its diameter in millimeters. Different sizes are better for different thing. If you're just starting out the 45mm size is a great place to start. It cuts through about four layers of fabric with ease, but is still small enough to easily go around gentle curves. The blades are replaceable, so you can just pop a new one in whenever you notice that the blade is getting a little dull or sticking to the fabric.

rotary cutter
60mm, 45mm, 28mm Rotary Cutters

One word of caution is that they are SHARP. Each brand, size and style has its own safety features that allow the blade to be safely stored while not in use. I always keep my rotary cutter with the blade stored in the locked position when I'm not actively using it. It's far to easy for an open rotary cutter to be bumped off a table by a pile of fabric (or a helper cat) and the last thing you want is that sharp blade landing on your foot! 

Here are a couple that we recommend. Both Olfa and Fiskars are solid brands within the wold of quilting notions. I own both of these rotary cutters in this 45mm size and they're both great to work with. 


Next week we'll talk about an important tool that goes hand in hand with a rotary cutter, an acrylic ruler!

All product links are Amazon affiliate links which help support Prairie Sewn Studios. No compensation was provided for this post, just sharing some products we love to use to sew, craft and quilt! 

Monday, January 12, 2015

My Rowenta Travel Steam Iron

One of my favorite tools to use when making containers is to use my little Rowenta Travel Steam Iron instead of my regular-sized iron.  Mom actually got this for me (she has one, too) a few years ago when we were taking an applique class together. Although the applique technique we learned didn't stick with me, using this travel iron definitely did!

Rowenta travel iron


There are three reasons that I love using my Rowenta Travel Steam Iron when I'm working on containers, or really any other project with small pieces.


1. I don't burn my fingers burn my fingers less. 

Rowenta travel iron

So I'm pretty sure that it is impossible to do lots of sewing, quilting and crafting where any kind of an iron is used and NEVER burn your fingers, especially when you're using steam! When making containers from Contain It! I'm working with relatively small pieces of fabric, Peltex and 1/4" fusible tape. My sensitive little fingers have to get right in there to make sure the materials are aligned properly and firmly steamed into position. By using the much smaller travel iron it's so much easier to manipulate the fabric and see where I'm working. This translates directly into being able to see where my fingers should not be. As a result I'm getting burned less and also yelling at my iron less!



2. It's designed to be portable, which means I can set up a little pressing and ironing station anywhere in my house where there is a flat surface and an electrical outlet.

Omnigrid portable pressing and cutting mat


I'm grateful that in my new house I'm able to have a dedicated, if small, studio space (pictures of the new set up to come soon!). That doesn't mean that I always want to be in that one room, however, as sometimes I want to be with other members of my household as they watch TV and relax in the evenings. Using my travel iron and my little portable pressing mat from Omnigrid I can easily set up shop on a TV tray or side table. The opposite side has a self-healing cutting mat so I can use this for portable cutting, too!


3. It is specifically designed to use regular tap water, not distilled water. 

Graphite Noritake Creamer

Since the iron is set-up to use while traveling it makes sense that it uses tap water instead of the distilled water like most regular-sized irons use. That means that I don't have to lug a jug of distilled water to wherever I've set up work for the day, but instead get to use my Noritake Graphite coffee creamer to fill the iron! I love using my creamer because it holds enough water to fill the (understandably small) water reservoir several times and the pour spout makes it much easier to get the water into the iron and not all over the table.  

All links are Amazon affiliate links. No compensation was provided for this post, just sharing some products we love to use to sew, craft and quilt!