Tuesday, April 4, 2017

What's New in the Shop!

To follow up on my recent Instagram post, there are some changes coming to the shop! As you may already know, I currently offer handmade quilted items on Etsy and occasionally via in-person craft shows. I have recently been doing some research and will be implementing the additional option of offering items for sale on my Stitches & Snippets Facebook page as well as here on the blog (under the "Shop" tab) via Shopify. I hope that this will make the listings more directly accessible, especially to those who do not already have an Etsy account. Shopify offers secure transactions directly from Facebook or a personal blog/website, and does not require a user account.

At this time I plan to keep the Etsy shop open, and would appreciate feedback as to the pros and cons of either shopping experience. From my point of view I see benefits to both. Shopify allows for a more convenient and individualized selling experience, while Etsy is a great community of makers, offering support as well as directing traffic to the shop via browsing and search options. As new listings are advertised (primarily via Instagram and Facebook) I will include direct links as there may be different listings in each shop to avoid any confusion in terms of inventory.

I am excited to see the impact that these changes will make on the shop this year, and I plan to start offering more content in the way of blog posts, as well as item listings. Stay tuned! :-)


Tuesday, March 14, 2017

New Sewing Machine Review: The Juki 2010q!!

This Christmas my husband surprised me big-time. I've had my eye on one of these Juki sewing machines for quite a while, and was even tempted to buy one this Fall when Amazon was running a sale. I talked myself mostly out of it though, and then they went out of stock and were restocked at the original price. Unbeknownst to me, my husband ordered me one, had it shipped to his workplace where the giant box sat in his office for a while, snuck it home, wrapped it, and still kept it a secret until were were done opening presents and I discovered that the spa gift certificate that he had given me was completely fake. Once I read the fine-print it told me of my final gift; this machine. AHH!!


Initial unboxing, feat. Abby the Schoodle!

In the craft nook 😊

Sooo, anyways I've been sewing on the machine for a couple of months now and I thought I would give my personal review. Here goes...



Pros
Cons
Throat space
Trouble with the needle cutter at first (update: most likely user error as this has been much improved as of late!)
Stitch Quality

Thread cutter

Extension table

Durable

Inexpensive bobbins

Speed





And there you have it. Clearly I was able to find many more pros than cons, and honestly I could go on and on about the good things. One aspect that should be mentioned, however, is that it is pretty pricey- probably not a first sewing machine. However, the construction does seem to be superior to most others I've seen and I hope it will be a lifelong investment! I am still loving this machine and I can absolutely tell a difference in the stitch quality, even at the higher speeds (I actually just recently moved the speed controller from the middle-of-the-road position to the rabbit!)

If you're looking to move on to a higher level machine, I would definitely recommend this one to any quilter or sewist!

Friday, January 27, 2017

My Planning Adventures

Ever since I can remember I have been fascinated with office supplies; notebooks, markers, pens, pencils, planners! Whether I needed them or not, I could never have enough. Recently I became aware of some of the more intense planners out there. There are Instagram accounts, YouTube videos, it's endless. Two of the main ones you hear about are the Erin Condren LifePlanner and the Happy Planner. After some research I landed on the Happy Planner and so far I'm really, well... happy with it!

There are several interchangeable cover options, but I loved this floral design!

I've never had a planner with a vertical layout before, but I really like it because I am a big fan of lists (I get that from my mom!). This layout is really idea for list-makers, whereas a horizontal layout may be better if you like to write things out in sentences or have very large handwriting. It's also handy that the pages are removable. I don't take them in and out too much because it will eventually wear on the paper, but it is helpful to be able to remove a page and work on it on a completely flat surface without the binding discs getting in the way sometimes. Another perk to that is the option to insert extra pages like folders or lists. There is a punch to make your own inserts that interests me, but it's around $20 and at this point I'm not looking to invest more money into the planner at this point. If I continue to use it I might consider it in the future. I know Hobby Lobby has it and they always have the 40% off coupon so maybe someday!

Here's an example of a blank weekly layout with the vertical layout.
I had also never experienced the multitude of planner stickers there are out there. The Happy Planner/Me and My Big Ideas specifically has some great ones, as well as several Etsy sites. One thing that really got me though, was the cost. I purchased my Happy Planner for around $15 with a 50% off coupon at Michael's and bought some divider folders and a list pad to go with it. That's all fine and good, and a one-time cost, but a lot of these people on YouTube are buying weekly sticker sets for $15 a week! Don't get me wrong, they are cute and these Etsy makers deserve that kind of money for their art. However, planning is for organization and it's fun and therapeutic for me, but I'm not about to spend $60 a month just to keep my planner cute! I then discovered a variety of free sticker printables online that come with Silhouette files to perfectly cut them out. GAME. CHANGER. I've got stickers all over the place! Some are more for decoration and others are more functional, but one thing they all have in common is they motivate me to get. stuff. done.

The sticker set I chose for February.

Functional stickers: workout reminders and blank flags.

Example of using stickers and washi tape to decorate and use my planner.
I especially like the ones that come with check boxes because I just get so much satisfaction from checking off those little boxes when I complete a task. So, if you're interested in getting organized and motivated, I recommend the Happy Planner. And, if you're on a budget, here are some free printables I recommend to get your started:

This Sharpie Pen is my favorite for writing in my Happy Planner.
Lovely Planner
BeaYOUtiful Planning
My Planner Envy





 Happy Planning ;)

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Photo Shoot: The Park at Harlinsdale Farm

It can be difficult to find a good place to photograph quilts. It needs to be pretty, with good lighting and a style that goes with the quilts. If you're alone it's helpful to have something to hang or drape the quilt on, since there's no one to hold it up. It's also nice if it isn't too far away. And guess what! I found that place!! It is called The Park at Harlinsdale Farms, and it's right here in Franklin. I was afraid it would be awkward hauling my quilts around and "posing" them, but then I saw two different groups of people taking senior pictures there, so that made me feel less out of place.

This first quilt is the one that initially inspired the photo shoot. It is a scrappy quilt that I made for myself and I LOVE it. Usually I like scrappy quilts better in person than in pictures because all of the different fabric patterns can get a little crazy. This quilt, however, is the exact opposite. Don't get me wrong, I really like it in person, but I think I like it even more in pictures.  Like this one...


The fence is perfect to display the quilts in all their glory, and I really like the effect of the old buildings behind them. The wind blowing the corner of the quilt to show a peek of the back was also a nice (unplanned) touch!

Here's a few more snaps. The sky was so blue!


















I was also able to finally get some good pictures of a few baby quilts I made quite some time ago. I love making baby quilts because you get that satisfaction of having finished an entire quilt, but they are so much more manageable. For that reason, I have accumulated a few.




{This one is cozy with a flannel backing and I like that it isn't super "girly".}







{I really like how the colors pop on this one. Also scrappy postage stamp quilts are one of my favorites. It was my love for this quilt that made me want to make the bigger one.}





{You can never really go wrong with traditional patchwork.}





{The fabrics featured on the front of this quilt are really cute, but the backing really steals the show. I just love the big animal scene!}















And finally, a non-quilt item. Though purses are obviously much smaller than quilts, I think they are even more difficult to photograph well. They really look best hanging but I never have anything at home to hang them on that wouldn't have a weird background behind it. I've tried laying them out flat, but I've never really been satisfied with the results. I do love this fence though. I like that its white but also rustic-y.





{Being outside in the open like this really makes for beautiful lighting too.}




{A little peek inside!}










And that is all. 

I've already been twice to photograph the items shown here and I'm thinking this is going to become my usual spot. I love that it's not only beautiful but it's also very "Franklin". It's kind of an iconic location around here where they hold a variety of festivals and activities. Franklin really seems to embrace the arts & crafts world and I want to embrace that!

Thanks for stopping by. All of the items shown here (except for the first large quilt) are for sale.  Some of these items are already listed in my Etsy Shop and the rest will be soon. For questions, or to request an item that has not yet been listed, please feel free to email me at stitchesnsnippets@gmail.com. Thanks!
Rachel

Friday, October 7, 2016

Personal Life Update: We Moved!

So in the time I've been away from the blog and the Etsy Shop has been closed, we have made some big changes.  We moved to Tennessee! This was a big decision for us because it meant moving away from the wonderful friends we made in Muscatine, our friends from Keokuk, and living farther away from most of our family than we ever have before. Plus we both really like Iowa and kind of figured we would always live there. But, I do have to say that we really like Tennessee so far! We live in Franklin, which is part of the Nashville area. And apparently it is the "Number one small town in Tennessee".
While I won't argue the number one part, I can't say I would really call it a small town. I'm pretty sure the population of Franklin was 70,612 as of 2014, and that doesn't even count the Cool Springs/Brentwood area! I will say, even if the population isn't all that small they do a really good job of hanging on to that small-town feel. The scenery is beautiful and there might be more trees in this city than in the more rural areas we are accustomed to. It's like the best of both worlds; it looks like a small town but has just about every store you could ever want (except Ikea)! Dangerous, I know! It is convenient though.



Another thing we are enjoying is the dog park! There are actually quite a few in our area and Abby is absolutely loving it! It's nice to have a place to let her run off some energy when we come home from work.
 I wanted to get an artsy, through-the-tire pic, but Abby wasn't having it! In her defense it was really hot that day.




Good thing they have doggie drinking fountains!




















For some reason we didn't do a lot of decorating at our last apartment. I honestly don't know why, because I really do enjoy decorating, but I was determined not to repeat that here! We were hanging things on the walls before we were even completely unpacked!



  Of course we had to set up the craft space. It actually traveled and reassembled very well. (Shout out to my husband on that one!) It fits well in the little dining room nook, and is a good use of space because we were able to use the other side of the L-shaped shelves to hold kitchen stuff since there is less counter and cabinet space here.




I've always wanted to do a "gallery wall" and I finally have one! I really like how it turned out, with a variety of different shapes and textures. I also really like our new couch. It's exactly what I envisioned when we started looking for one. Also check out the pillow and table runner from my bestie! (Check out her blog here.)
Right before we moved my mother-in-law planned one of those painting parties and my husband and I made those paintings above the tv. I was really impressed with how easy they made it and pleasantly surprised to have painted something I actually want to hang up in my home! (And yes, I'm obviously watching Friends for like the third time.


Can't forget the quilt ladder!












And there you have it. All moved in. (Well, mostly. Notice there are no pics of the bedrooms :-/) We like it so far. We are blessed to both have good jobs. It was actually my husband's new job that brought us here. He works for Dave Ramsey (Ramsey Solutions)- how cool is that?! It's funny when I think back to several months ago, when he was on a big Dave Ramsey podcast kick, and I would walk into the office like, "If I come in here and hear Dave Ramsey's voice on your computer one more time....!". Annnnd here we are. Honestly though, what an amazing career opportunity for him and just an great opportunity in general to be a part of a group of professionals that is so faith-based and positive.
Shortly after we moved here, I was able to start my new job as a psychiatric nurse working with teenagers. It's an adjustment to go back to the hospital after a year of working in a clinic/office setting, but I think it's a good one and I'm already learning a lot. Though much is different, there are still enough similarities to my previous experience working with adults in mental health that it's not like completely starting over. Twelve hour shifts are long, but the 3-4 days off in a row are great for sewing! Hopefully they will also be good for keeping up with the blog. ;)

Thanks for stopping by and an extra thanks to those of you who have kept us in your prayers through all of these recent transitions.

Be blessed,
Rachel 

Friday, May 27, 2016

Product Review: Babyville Boutique Snap Pliers

My most recent crafty purchase were the Babyville Boutique Snap Pliers, and I am so pleased with them so far I thought I would share with you guys. These pliers apply plastic snaps in sizes 16, 20, and 24. Babyville Boutique has a variety of cute snaps in these sizes, but the word on the Internet is that these pliers also work great with KAM snaps. 

I purchased my pliers at Joann Fabric and Crafts and, thanks to their fantastic coupons, I got a great deal. They are also available on Amazon for about $15.00.

What you get: pliers, screw driver, awl, and the components needed to apply sizes 16, 20, and 24 plastic snaps. 

 

Pros:
-Affordable: These pliers go for arould $15.00 on Amazon and $19.99 at Joann's. With a 60% off coupon I got mine for around $8.00!!
-Quality: While these pliers are light (another plus!), they definitely don't feel cheap.
-Easy to use: The pliers came with helpful directions, but in general are pretty straight forward to use. They are also easy to squeeze.
-Adjustable: One set of pliers can do 3 different sizes of snaps.

Cons: I have to say, I really don't have any complaints. I have used these pliers on three projects so far with no difficulty. I've had my eye on them for a while, and while they are definitely worth the deal I got on them, I would recommend them at regular price also. Since I just purchased them this week, I can't really speak to durability, so look for updates on that to come.

How it Works: Before you start, you will want to make sure that the pliers are set up for the size snap you are using. They come preset for size 20 and since I purchased that size snaps, I didn't have to change mine. The pliers come with directions detailing how to switch out the parts for the other sizes.
1. Determine where you want your plastic snap.
2. Use the awl to carefully poke a hole right where you want the snap.
3. Place the smooth "cap" portion of the snap on the visible or "right" side of your project with the post going through the hole you just poked.
4. Take the other side of the snap and place it over the post, on the other side of the fabric. {For one snap set there are 4 separate pieces. They should come in three separate bags, one for all of the "cap and post" pieces and then two others for the parts that actually snap together. I would recommend keeping them separated this was so that you can be sure that each side of your snap set is using the opposite/matching snap parts. (Some people call them "male" and "female".)}
5. Place the "cap" side of the snap in the black tray. The rubber stopper part will fit over the portion of the post that sticks out. Squeeze tightly together to set the snap.
6. Repeat for the other side of the snap set, making sure that the parts that snap together end up facing each other. Usually this means that one smooth "cap" part will be visible on the very front of the project and the other will be on the very back.

It's that simple!!


Project Ideas!

My first plastic snap project was this bib. How cute are those foxes?!?! The snaps applied so easily and hold well. I also have it on good authority (from my crafty friend and mother of two, soon to be three!) that snaps are much better than scratchy Velcro for baby bibs. Now I just want to put snaps on everything! Soon after making this bib I made a second bib and then added a snap feature to a diaper bag prototype that I'm working on (more info coming soon!).



I hope you found this review helpful. Let me know if you have any questions or suggestions for other products to review!



Saturday, May 21, 2016

I've Got a Notion!- My Favorite Sewing/Quilting Notions

I've been sewing consistently for a couple of years now and, while I'm far from a pro, I have mostly figured out what I like in terms of basic supplies. So here, in no particular order, are 10 of my favorite sewing/quilting notions and tools.

Amazon.com
1. Olfa Rotary Cutter: It's comfortable, easy to change the blades, and colorfull- what more could you ask for??

 2. 8"x14" Ruler: I use this for the majority of my general cutting.

3. 3"x18" Ruler: This one is ideal for binding and cutting larger pieces of fabric.

4. Large cutting mat: Mine is a Fiskars 18"x24". It's held up well and has a good surface area for cutting larger pieces of fabric.

5.   CLOVER WONDER CLIPS: If you have not tried these you are absolutely missing out. They make almost every project like 5 times easier!
Amazon.com




6. Tailor Quilt Basting Spray: I never used to use basting spray because of the expense (pins you buy one time and basting spray just keeps running out). Once I tried it though, I understood. It's so much faster and easier that I've determined its worth it. And if you don't go overboard you can get several projects out of one can.
 






7. Oliso TG1050 1600 Watts Smart Iron: Arguably you *can* iron with any halfway decent iron, but once you've tried this one there's no going back! I had my eye on this for a while, but my husband and I are pretty frugal and I couldn't justify randomly dropping that kind of money on an iron pretty much just based on the fact that so many YouTube quilters I watch use it. That being said, my husband surprised me with mine for Christmas this year and it was pretty exciting! He did get a little talking-to from one of the guys on his bowling team who was pretty concerned about the effect him giving me an iron for Christmas would have on our relationship, but he stood his ground and explained that this is not "just any iron". I could probably do an entire post on this alone but I'll stick to the basics. This iron is awesome because:
  • It irons and steams better than any other iron I've ever used. (I felt like I should put this first since this is its actual job.)
  • It moves when you touch it! And because of that...
  • You don't have to set it up on its end!
So far its been pretty fantastic. Don't get me wrong, I know you don't *need* this iron but it certainly doesn't disappoint!
 
8. Mary Ellen's Best Press: I don't use this on every project but it really comes in handing for stubborn wrinkles and small or very precise piecing. It really helps prevent warping and stretching and I've never had any trouble with it staining fabric or harming my iron. It's not too expensive either, and a little goes a long way in my opinion.

9. Clover Seam Ripper: I wish I could say I never use this, but that would be a boldface lie. It really makes a difference to have a larger seam wripper like this one, compared to the teeny cheap ones you can buy or that may come with a machine. It's frustrating enough to have to rip out seams in the first place so at least do your hands a favor and make it a little less awful by investing in a nice seam ripper.   

10. Machingers Gloves: These gloves are very helpful for free motion quilting and quilting large or heavy projects. They really help you grip the fabric with your finger tips so you aren't tempted to pinch or tug the fabric too much. They also seem to lessen the tension in your neck and shoulders as you try to move your project through the sewing machine. 

So there you have it- my top 10 notions. What helpful tools would you add??