IKEA Expedit or Kallax?

Last week, there was much discussion about IKEA’s plans to discontinue the very popular Expedit shelving units.
Expedit storage unit
These stacks of cubes provide safe storage for many a fabric stash, so there was great panic when word came they were going away.

Initially, only line drawings were available, but on Friday, IKEA provided an image of the Kallax unit.
Kallax storage unit

The interior dimensions of the Kallax units are the same as Expedit’s.

Gizmodo reported that this design change likely has more to do with IKEA’s pledge to be a more sustainable company than it does aesthetic design. IKEA is #3, behind only Home Depot and Lowe’s, in wood consumption. If IKEA sells millions of these units every year, this slight reduction in the outer edges really could make a difference.

I think it will be okay.


(images provided for distribution by IKEA)

Decorating the Sewing Space with IKEA

I have some more IKEA organizing to show you, but first, how about some fun decoration for your space?
These buttons are sure to add some cheery spring fun:
IKEA sewing buttons display

I saw button fabric in the fabric department some time ago, but the scale was so large I was at a loss for what to do with it. Here is a fun idea – put it under the chair mat!
IKEA sewing buttons display

No chair mat? How about this button rug? Fun, right?
IKEA sewing buttons rug

Do you have any of these in your sewing space?


IKEA Shopping for the Sewing Space

It’s no secret that I love IKEA. I’ve often found items in the kitchen and office areas that work really well in my sewing space.

What a fun surprise to see a display at IKEA actually aimed at seamstresses and crafters!

IKEA sewing display
The table the machine is on is a Linnmon table. I have several of these in my sewing space and love them. They are a perfect depth so there is not a bunch of wasted space behind them, but there is still enough room to maneuver fabrics when sewing. Plus, they are nice an stable so I don’t worry about my serger trying to walk off while I’m using it!

This RIBBA picture ledge is great for storing a cutting mat, and there’s enough space to put your quilting rulers with it.

IKEA sewing display

And here it is again being used for thread storage, just below the KUPOL storage bins. I love how the storage bins all have labels on them. The organizing geek in me loves labels!
IKEA sewing display

The bins hanging on the BYGEL rail look like RATIONELL recycling bins, but I’m not sure how they are hanging on there. Looks like another IKEA trip is in order for further research!

These PLUGGIS bins are being used for pattern storage. They would also work for sorting scraps by color if you are saving small scraps for quilting or other patchwork.
IKEA sewing display

8 of these VÄGGIS corkboards make a nice area for planning designs.
IKEA corkboard

Stay tuned for more tomorrow!


Organizing Sewing Supplies – A Trip to the Hardware Store

Hardware and farm/general supply stores have some great organizing containers. Often the products will look just like the ones available in more specialized shops but with a less specialized price.

For example, you can buy this 26 drawer cabinet at a major craft store for $34.99. I was so surprised by the price that I even double checked the item codes on the price label to make sure it was the correct item for the tag!
storage cabinet from craft store

Head to the hardware store and you can buy any one of these for $14.99 to $16.99, depending on which style you choose. So you can decide if you want all big drawers, all little drawers or some combination of them.
storage cabinet from craft store

You might get a 50% off coupon for the craft store, which would make the first one $17.49. But guess what? The $14.99-16.99 ones go on sale for $3 off pretty regularly and you have more choices! So, go to the hardware store for storage supplies and save your 50% off coupon for fabric!

These are great for storing snaps, buttons, extra packs of needles, machine feet, extra rotary cutter blades, and more! Here’s the one I have full of snap parts.
storage cabinet from craft store.

Happy Organizing!

Organizing Sewing Supplies with Scrapbooking Storage

Organizing things makes me really happy. I remember watching HGTV years ago and seeing someone whose job title was Professional Organizer. I thought that was about the coolest thing ever. Seriously, getting paid to go nuts in the Container Store and then sorting someone else’s stuff to take it from messy to beautiful? What could be better?

The scrapbooking section of the craft store is a great place for organizing supplies for your sewing space. It makes sense – scrapbookers have lots of little bits and bobbles to keep track of.
photo storage box

This is a photo storage box. The box holds 16 individual boxes that are designed to hold 4×6″ photos. It has a handle so it’s easy to transport, and it closes securely.
Here’s a picture of it open, it’s a little easier to see the slots that the smaller boxes sit in.
photo storage box

My plan for these was to store my size tags and decorative tags in them. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that I had extra spots once I had put the tags in.

Here’s a close up of one of the small boxes open so you can get a better idea of the depth. The are about an inch deep. I used some of the boxes for magnetic snaps, key fob parts, boxer elastic, webbing…
photo storage box inside

These would also be great for buttons and snaps.

Organizing seems to be a love it or loathe it kind of thing. Where do you fall?


Organizing the Kids

Every January, I think this will be the year we all get organized. Retailers hop on the bandwagon, touting storage accessories and planners.

Several years ago, I put a big white board on the kitchen wall. It usually has a grocery list running down one side of it and my husband has been using it lately to plan meals. Sometimes there are parts of a calculus problem that I was explaining to my high schooler, other times there are math problems of the second or fourth grade variety.

Last fall, I started writing weekend to-do lists on it for the kids. If I put up a list, the younger kids would bang right through it and get everything done without my having to nag them. They would get up on Saturday morning, see what they had to do, and get it done.

What if we could do that every day? If everyone knows what’s expected and the list is right there so I don’t forget, it should be easier, right? And if they do their jobs, then I will have more time to do what I want to do – like sew! :)

Yesterday I updated the board. Ta-da!
Kitchen job board

The meal plan goes along the top, then there is a row for each of the kids’ jobs and activities for each day. Now they can see what’s expected, I don’t have to listen to arguing about whose turn it is to set the table, and scheduled activities are visible for everyone.

My husband and I use google calendar, which is great because the kids’ sports activities all have ical feeds that automatically update when times and locations change, but that didn’t help the kids to know what was going on. This should help with that, too.

Want to make your own? It’s easy!

My whiteboard is actually a 4×8′ sheet of shower board from Home Depot. It’s lightweight and much less expensive than a “real” whiteboard. Dry erase markers wipe right off. And, you can cut it to whatever size will fit in your space. Ours is 4×6′. The lines are 1/2″ electrical tape. The tape is sold in multi-color packs of 20′ per color, so if you want all the lines to be the same color, you will need to buy multiple packages. I’m just going to work on trying not to be too bothered by having 3 different colors on there.

Here’s a close-up of one of the squares.
one day
Activities are purple, responsibilities are green. The kids can erase them as they are completed. We are off to a good start – everyone emptied their lunchboxes and put the ice packs in the freezer after school yesterday.

Happy Organizing!

Ottobre Sewing Pattern Organization – take 2

I’ve warned you about my love of organizing things, right?
pattern binders
I haven’t been sewing much since I went to quilt class, but I did a bit of organizing.

At some point, we were discussing organizing magazines and Bobolots (her forum name) said these were great for magazines. I checked them out and they are great! More on that in a moment. Check these out!

When they first arrive, six of them are stuck together:
pattern binders 1

So you pull them apart:
pattern binders 2

pattern binders 3

Then you take out the middle piece – this is where the magazine pages will slide through.
pattern binders 4

And then you need to poke out the little holes for the binder rings to go through. You can stack a couple of these together and push them out.
pattern binders 5

I put mine over a couple of my pattern weights because it’s easy to push through the holes that way and the little plastic pieces don’t go flying all over.
pattern binders 6

For the children’s issues, I use two binder holders because it just seemed like it needed the extra strength. I’m not sure it was necessary, but I had enough, so I just went with it. :)
pattern binders 7

You can just slide them over one corner a bit…
pattern binders 8

And then all the way to the middle of the magazine:
pattern binders 9

Hopefully you slid it through with the holes on the outside:
pattern binders 10

And then the holes just go in the binder rings!
pattern binders 11

Stick them all in binders and you’re set. So pretty….
pattern binders 12

I highly recommend the seller named rvbookseller listed in the “new from” link, especially if you want to get a whole bunch. That seller also offers them in a pack that contains 120 of them for a very reasonable price. When you buy them individually, the shipping is killer. The seller shipped quickly and answered my questions with lightning speed as well. The link is a Sewing Mamas affiliate link, but I’d recommend the seller even without it. :)

You didn’t notice that my Ottobre changed to three different issues along the way, did you? No, you’re too nice to mention it, thank you! ;)

Happy Organizing!

Sewing and craft rooms

I love looking at other people’s sewing and crafting spaces. I came across a site full of home decorating ideas and thought I’d share some of the spaces with you.

So many of these spaces use IKEA furnishings, this one is no exception. The drawers near the window are from the Vika Alex line, the table top from Vika Amon and legs from Vika Artur. The same trestle leg is used for what appears to be an ironing board, with a roll of tracing paper handy from below. One of the cool things about the Artur legs is that you can adjust each side separately to put the table top at an angle if you like. I have a set of drawers from the Alex line and a couple of the Vika Amon tables in my sewing space now and they’ve held up well.

This room looks like IKEA Expedit shelves in white with the Vika table top in the center island. I love the huge safety pins on the wall in this one!

Having the laundry machines easily accessible to the sewing space is a plus here. Being able to toss fabrics in for prewashing is great, and if you use your washer for dyeing materials, the proximity is great. In my mind’s eye, there’s a sink in that laundry space as well. The other thing I love is the natural light.

Lots of counter workspace for sewing and embroidery machines with a nice island for cutting fabrics here, but I also love the window seat. I see one of my kids cozied in there with a book or just coming in to talk about their day while I’m working.

Oh, the possibilities!

More wonderful light here, a great place to work! I also love the white cabinets and the darker wood flooring and island. I’m filling that little cabinet of drawers in the corner with various sewing notions…

The shelves in this room go all the way to the ceiling, love those. And in the corner, the cabinets change into open shelving to use the available space under the countertop desk area.

Giving the sewing machine it’s own little garage is a great idea. I’d love to see it with a roll top (like the classic bread boxes) or with doors that open and recess into the cabinet, though. I see my clumsy self hitting my head on the raised cabinet door in this setup. The pull out board for cutting (or ironing?) is a wonderful extension of space.

I like the idea of a large ironing board that pulls out from a drawer, but I’m not sure about this one. What do you think?

Oh, IKEA how I love you…

There are, of course, about a zillion more. 321,889 filed under “craft room” to be exact. Here’s a link – just try not to stay there surfing all day, there’s sewing to do!

Happy daydreaming!

Quick fix for kids’ winter gear!

Here’s a quick and easy way to keep track of your child’s snowpants, because having a name on the label means nothing to a little kid just trying to get on the closest pair of black snowpants as quickly as he can to go outside. You know, the black snowpants that look like every other pair in the school?
Oh, yeah, those.

Snowpants strap covers!

These are super quick and easy if the shoulder strap can come completely off the closure. These can:

These are sewn to keep the strap attached to the closure,
and this is nice for a ton of reasons, but will add extra work for us, see bottom of post at the **.

We’ll talk about the first type first. The pair we’re working with has a strap that’s 1.25″ wide*.

Fun fabrics are great for this -
Tom and Jerry fabric

To make two strap covers you will need:
2 pieces of cotton woven (or quilter’s) fabric, each 3″ wide by 8″. You can make them longer or shorter if you like.

These are sewn with a 1/4″ seam allowance. If you want a wider seam allowance, increase the 3″ width by 2 times your additional amount. (If you want to instead sew with 1/2″ seam allowance, you’re adding 1/4″ more to each sewn side, so cut your pieces 3.5″ x 8″.)

* If your snowpants have a wider strap, simply measure the width, add the seam allowance and double the result.
(width+seam allowance)*2=width of cut fabric

Step 1

Hem the short sides. Press wrong sides together 1/4″.
Step One, press

Zigzag the hem so it goes just over the cut edge. (You can do this on the wrong side instead of the right side if you like.)
Step One, zigzag

Step 2

Zigzag opposite end.
Step Two

Step 3

Fold the piece in half the long way, right sides together. I like to press this because then I don’t need to pin it.
Step Three, fold

Step 4

Stitch together with 1/4″ seam allowance.
Step 4, stitch

How nice!
Step 4, done

Step 5

Zig zag in the seam allowance to keep it from fraying. I find if I line up my straight stitching so it’s just barely visible where the presser foot sticks up on the left, it stitches in just the right place.
Step 5, zigzag

Then you have this:
Step Five, done

Step 6

Trim threads. Turn it right side out.
Right Side Out

Slide your strap into the tube you’ve just made, that’s it!

Bonus Tip!

If your child wears the snowpants without the bib overalls, sew a ribbon loop to the inside at the waist so they can be easily hung on a hook. This keeps things tidy and helps them dry faster than when they are left in a pile.

** If your snowpants have a strap that’s sewn together to keep it from coming off the closure, you have a few options.
Option 1:
Grab your seam ripper and use it to free the strap so you can take it off the closure. When your strap cover is completed and on the snowpants, re-sew the part you seam ripped. (This will make the neatest cover and is also the quickest. Just make sure you’ll be able to sew it back together before you seam rip it! I strongly recommend only removing one strap at a time so you can see how it goes back on.)
Option 2:
Make your strap cover wide enough to go over the closure. To do this, take your measuring tape and measure all the way around the widest part of the closure. Double your seam allowance and add that to your measurement. The result is your fabric width. (This will result in a cover that may be a little slide-y.)
Option 3:
Instead of making a tube, use Velcro-like closures in a manner similar to the way we made our luggage handle covers, skipping the interfacing to avoid its added stiffness. (This will take the longest.)

Happy Sewing!

New Needles for the New Year

Needles don’t last forever. (Well, except the ones that fall off the Christmas tree. It seems we are still vacuuming up those little buggers in July!)

How long has the needle been in your sewing machine?
Did it come with the machine? Do you just keep using the same one until you run over a pin and it breaks? Or until things just keep going horribly wrong with your stitches and you start swapping out everything – needles, thread, bobbin?

Broken NeedlesImage: Broken Needles by amboo who?

Your sewing projects will look better and go more smoothly if you use a new needle after 8-12 hours of sewing or every 2-3 projects. And if you hit a pin, button, or other object while sewing, replace that needle right away, even if it looks okay. A damaged or worn out needle leads to damaged fabric and a ruined project. You’re putting a lot of time into your sewing, don’t let the needle foil your efforts.

Why don’t we change needles when we should?
Reason #1: Keeping track of how long a needle has been used is not easy!
Since I use both my sewing machine and my serger for most projects, 2-3 projects doesn’t equate to 8-12 hours use on both machines. This is my current solution:
Not pretty, but functional. The tomato is split so each column has five sections. Each time I finish a project or use the needle for about two hours, I put the needle in the next spot. The pins are marked and hold the spot for the needles currently in use. If I finish the project and need the needle for something else in the same machine, I’ll just move the pin to the next spot. The blue pins in the #5 spot for the 90/14 ball point needles are holding the space for the needles currently in my serger. When I’m done with them, I’ll retire that set of needles since this is their fifth use. When they’re done, I put them in an old prescription pill container.
old needles

The blue pins each have an “I” written on them in permanent marker because they are placeholders for the needles in my Imagine serger. The sewing machine pin has a “B” on it for Bernina. And so on…
machine needle placeholders

There are a couple things that make this setup work well, besides the ability to keep track of length of use. First, I know which needles are sharps and which are ball points. Second, I don’t have to try to read the itty bitty writing on them to see what size they are. But, it’s not pretty.

Reason #2: Needles are expensive!
My favorite place to buy needles is CTSUSA.com because their prices are great and they offer free shipping on needles. My sewing machine, a Bernina uses 15×1/HAx1 household machine needles. CTSUSA.com currently has these for $11.95 for 100 needles in some of the most common sizes. Yep, less than twelve cents a needle. The cost of needles is no longer an excuse not to change them.

But 100 needles? Where do you put them? I happened upon this cute little storage box in the craft section. It was probably intended for beads or something similar, but it’s the perfect size for needle packs. Needle packs are small, if I tossed them in a drawer, they would be all over and I’d be opening a new pack all the time. This keeps them organized.

needle storage

Do you have a great way to keep track of your needle use? I’d love to see it, especially if it looks nicer than my sharpie tomato!

Happy Sewing!

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