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an overjoyed sam at the statue of a giant thimble and buttons in toronto

I'm Samantha (Sam), a mechanical engineer, seamstress, crafter, & entrepreneur. Enjoy perusing photos of my sewing and craft-related adventures. I hope my blog brings inspiration and happiness to your day!

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wiwo wednesday: snowy sewing

snowy sewing room

On Saturday, Virginia finally got a real day of snow. Of course, it was a Saturday, so no “Snow Day”, but I was still very content to hide away and steal an entire day to myself. Snow light is my favorite: its diffuse brightness transforms my sewing room into a magical place.

snowy balcony view, yes i still have christmas lights

There was so much snow. It “poured” snow all day long; the sky was densely filled with flakes from 10am until after dark, and we ended up with over 7 inches. I couldn’t help but sit and stare out the window for moments at a time, transfixed by the deluge of white. Nothing beats watching the snow from a cozy perch.

finished diy outdoor patio cushion

My completed project from Saturday’s marathon was a cushion for the ottoman on my balcony, to match the patio cushions. Perfect timing, right? Doesn’t everyone think about their patio set when it’s 25F and snowing? But I’m very happy to have finally completed that project. One less piece of fabric in the closet!

sewing blue striped t-shirt - in progress

I’m making progress on my striped boatneck tee copy. I finished a second muslin from the gray fabric… it’s still running a bit small, but I think I can improvise well enough from here to start cutting into the Real Stuff, above. I hadn’t even realized I had a navy-and-white striped knit in my stash until I did a bit of fabric organizing (snow days are so productive!) and hopefully it will be perfect.

What are you working on this week? Do you get as excited as I do about snow sewing?

Marie started wiwo wednesday: What I’m Working On. I try and join her as often as I can to give you a peek into my creative process and my works-in-progress. See all my wiwo wednesday posts here.

wiwo wednesday: chasing february warmth

clouds as quilt batting

I spent a long weekend in South Carolina warming up. Warming up from DC’s frigid temps, and warming up for Katie’s upcoming wedding! It was a relaxing and bonding girls’ weekend, with food-stuffed bellies and joy-filled hearts.

katie on the gray beach

Now that I’m back in the snow, I’m trying to savor the quiet, content moments of the trip. The grays of our last beach walk, the batting-like cushion of the clouds underneath our wings, the golden sunrises and the brilliant stars. I’m working on saving it all up, an inspiration cache.

silhouette number iron-ons

Of course, what’s a bachelorette party – especially in the Pinterest era – without a bit of DIY? My Silhouette and I have been having fun lately. I’ll be doing a lot of white-and-lacy projects in the next few months, and I can’t wait.

Marie started wiwo wednesday: What I’m Working On. I try and join her as often as I can to give you a peek into my creative process and my works-in-progress. See all my wiwo wednesday posts here.

wiwo wednesday: fabric storage and productivity

I’m joining Marie for wiwo wednesday (What I’m Working On). I always love to see what my favorite crafters are up to, and in-progress shots often tell an even better story than the finished product.

fabric storage: rolls of colorful fleece in my vintage hutch

This week’s theme is productivity. It’s a never-ending battle, something I’m always Working On, but I’m continuing to streamline my space so that when I have time to make something, I get to make something.

Keeping supplies in plain sight is the best strategy for encouraging myself to sew more often. The dining hutch above holds my Roy G. Biv assortment of fleece, rolled for easy stacking (and easy on the eyes). The hutch also holds a few fabrics I’m looking to use in the near future, and all my spools of crochet thread – something I constantly reach for on little crafts. I call it My New Favorite Crafting Supply.

sewing room light: LED strip around ceiling

Another big issue was the lighting in my sewing room. There was no overhead lighting in the room, so I was operating with three task lamps: one at the table, one at my machine, and one at my Serger. It was barely enough light to sew straight, and this meant I didn’t enter that room after dark since it would be fruitless.

I finally found the perfect solution: strips of LEDs with an adhesive backing. They’re lightweight, yet super bright, and they can be easily removed when I move out. I didn’t use the adhesive backing on mine, Brad used a staple gun to attach them to the wall near the ceiling. My staples were just wide enough to clear the strip on each side and hold it snug. Don’t staple through the strip! I bought two spools, 16 ft each, so almost the entire ceiling of my tiny room is surrounded in lights. The indirect light is perfect for sewing, and obviously I get a lot more sewing done when I’m not restricted to daylight hours.

productivity: blog editorial calendar

Finally, blogging. Again, it’s all about getting myself started. Blog photos are definitely something best kept to the daylight hours, LED lights or no LED lights (although I’m hopeful they’ll help). But coordinating an idea, photos, photo edits, and an actual post becomes an ordeal when usually I only have the time or the energy for one of those.

I finally gave in and made myself an editorial calendar. The most basic calendar in the world, because grays give me room to do whatever I want. I’m sorting post-it flags by post category, and of course the mobility of post-its is their best feature: nothing is fixed, everything is fluid.

february 2015: gray printable blog editorial calendar

If you’d like to download a copy of my February and (most of) March editorial calendar, it’s here in PDF form:

Download Feb/Mar 2015 Printable Editorial Calendar (PDF)

What are you working on? Do you have any productivity tips to share with me?


More LED strip info, for the curious

For my sewing room, I used 2 spools of HitLights Warm White High Density LEDs and chained and plugged them into one 60 watt power supply. I chose the high density because I wanted it to provide light for the whole room, and I’m glad I did – they’re still not too bright (unless you look directly at them). I chained them and plugged them both into one 60W power supply, which worked fine for me, and I noticed no decrease in brightness. The manufacturer recommends using 60W per strip, meaning I should have used two power supplies, but that made no difference in my case so I just used the one.

The reviews make these sound complicated, but you really just have to plug everything together and go! If you want more details or need help, as always, ask away.

(LED links are affiliate links, but I’m telling you about these because I’m excited about them – not because I’m looking for a cut.)

floss-wrapped push pins: a tutorial

floss wrapped push pins tutorial

In chilly January, there’s nothing I like more than throwing on multiple sweatshirts and committing to a stay-in-and-craft day. My yearnings for hues beyond those to be found in the bleak January landscape lead me to appreciate the tiniest pops of color in unexpected places.

For those of you who share this urge to create something small and bright to complement the gray skies, I thought I’d share this little tutorial for floss-wrapped push pins. It’s a small craft that lends itself well to a cozy hour wrapped in a blanket. These thread spool lookalikes are perfect for a sewing room pin board, or tacking big inspirations straight to the wall!

floss wrapped push pins tutorial

For this tutorial you will need:

  • push pins: I found these darling wooden ones at Walmart, but plastic works too (there are plastic thread spools!)
  • Q-tips
  • Standard glue: Elmer’s or Elmer’s school glue, nothing fancy
  • A soda cap or a piece of scrap paper to hold your glue
  • A corkboard or a piece of corrugated cardboard to hold your pins while they dry

    floss wrapped push pins tutorial

    Start by squirting out a small dish of glue to work with. Use a Q-tip to dab a dot onto the push pin.

    floss wrapped push pins tutorial

    Cut a piece of floss: 12-14″ should suffice, but be generous since you can always trim off excess when you’re done.

    floss wrapped push pins tutorial

    Press the end of the floss onto the push pin at an angle, as shown, so it will be locked in by the wrapping layers. Press it flat with the q-tip, and feel free to add glue on top.

    floss wrapped push pins tutorial

    Apply glue to the entire center section of the push pin, then start winding your floss. Work carefully to try and line up each row without overlapping.

    For this step, I held the push pin in my hand, using the pointy end as my handle. It’s much easier to work that way than with it stuck into the corkboard. Don’t stab yourself!

    Wind all the way down the push pin, then wind all the way back up to the top.

    floss wrapped push pins tutorial

    When you’ve made it back to the top, hold the thread at a downward angle, as shown, and apply a dot of glue to the angled section of thread.

    floss wrapped push pins tutorial

    Trim the thread tail…

    floss wrapped push pins tutorial

    …then use a fresh end of a Q-tip to press the floss flat.

    floss wrapped push pins tutorial

    That’s it! Soon, you’ll have a whole army of tiny thread spools!

    floss wrapped push pins tutorial

    Tiny, bright things for holding tiny, bright things! A winning combination.

    Please share pictures if you make some mini thread spool push pins of your own!

wiwo wednesday: around the house

I’m joining Marie for wiwo wednesday (What I’m Working On). I always love to see what my favorite crafters are up to, and in-progress shots often tell an even better story than the finished product.

Winding down from the holidays, for me, means spending some time on my own and working on the just-for-fun projects that got put off in favor of gifts, cookies, or decorating. January and February aren’t my favorite months creatively since they’re so dark, but the cold does keep me inside, and inside is where the crafts are. So I’ve had a few little projects going.

wiwo: copycat t-shirt in progress

I’m working on a copy of a favorite t-shirt of mine. The stripes were printed, not woven in, so they faded quickly. But I love the silhouette of this tee, with its wide neckline and roll-up 3/4 sleeves, so I’m hoping I can recreate it at least seven times so I can wear it every day. (haha)

wiwo: copycat t-shirt in progress

This gray is looking to be a questionable color choice, but it will serve as a muslin more than anything. I’m hoping the fit will be perfect from the start, since I loved the fit of the original shirt.

wiwo: sewing blackout curtains

I’m working on new curtains for my bedroom: my first time sewing with blackout curtain fabric. Here’s a hint: teflon foot required! The wrong side of that stuff will stick to everything! It’s also very heavy, so if you’re looking to get a workout out of your sewing project, this is the stuff.

wiwo: sewing blackout curtains

I’m thrilled to see that these are a huge improvement over the white curtains I had made earlier. The white ones didn’t block any light at night, and their texture, while cute up close, had quite the “hospital” feel once they were hanging in my all-white room. The new curtains will be a welcome change.

wiwo: painted kitchen island - an HGTV surprise

And here’s more of a “What I Worked On”… my family has been swept up with HGTV marathons recently (i mean, the entire channel is an endless marathon), so I thought I’d pull an HGTV stunt and paint the kitchen island while they were out for the weekend! It used to be white, so this olive shade is a huge upgrade. It was so fun to do a little surprise: something small that made such a big difference in my parents’ kitchen. Nothing says “Merry Christmas” like surprise paint!

What are you working on this Wednesday? Feel free to send me a link in the comments!