Welcome to my Crafty Blog!

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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an internet fast for lent

I’ve started a lot of projects lately, only to work my way to halfway done and hate what I’m making.

It’s not like that never happens. I’ve had plenty of projects that weren’t meant to be finished for one reason or another, and while those are frustrating, they’re part of the creative process. But this is different. Multiple projects in a row, all starting out as “brilliant”, whirlwind ideas that quickly crash and burn as soon as I’ve begun to make progress.

After becoming increasingly more frustrated with each project failure, I came to a realization. Lately, none of my ideas are my own.

Sometimes knowingly, but often not, I’ve been starting a project with direct inspiration from another blog or, of course, Pinterest. It’s not like I try to directly make what I’ve seen elsewhere, but the blended “Pinterest-aesthetic” is suddenly tied into my brain and it’s all I can see.

the standard pinterest kitchen

the standard pinterest kitchen (sorry, no source)

At this point, I’ve spent so much time looking at the Pinterest-popular all-white kitchens with open shelving (i hate open shelving!), well-organized laundry rooms, and crisp, white-walled rooms with Danish teak furniture, that I’m convinced that’s my aesthetic. Is it? I can’t even remember.

Pinterest is a poison for many reasons. Its possibilities for infinite wishlists for every sphere of your life terrify me – boards of perfect hair, perfect weddings, perfect bodies, perfect houses, perfect quotes. Not to mention the fact that so many pins contain total lies, false information, and basically amateurs teaching other amateurs how to do things the wrong way. But all those are irrelevant at this stage, because this is my last straw: Pinterest can’t take my imagination away from me.

fruit at the pike place market, seattle

real-life inspiration: pike place market, seattle

It’s tough, but I know the definite cure to this problem. It’s time for me to turn off the ever-flowing stream of other people’s ideas: Pinterest, Facebook, and your beautiful blogs. I’m using Lent as an opportunity for an information fast, an internet fast. Six weeks of going back to my own brain for new ideas, and I’m hoping there’s still some good stuff lurking inside.

Lent is all about fasting, about sacrifice, and about re-alignment. It’s the perfect season to step away from all that noise and focus on the real world.

Can you relate to my internet overload? Would you care to join me?

thrifted: giant bags o’ vintage bias tape

pile of colorful vintage bias tape

My creativity has been having a dormant winter. The evenings are too dark for making, so I have unloved piles of fabric all over the house, waiting for me to stop hibernating and start sewing.

When I’m in this mood, I love thrift stores even more than usual. Somehow, they wake me up from my dark, wintery stupor and remind me of all the glorious creative pursuits that await me when the days become longer.

colorful vintage bias tape with pretty labels

Last weekend, Katie and I found a new thrift store and got some high-dollar finds: she left with a Le Creuset fondue pot and a Lauren faux fur vest, and I snagged a 200€ ski jacket for $5. But my favorite part about giant thrift stores like that one are the grab bags that dangle from every shelf. Bags of scarcely-related items grouped together for a buck or two… they might contain treasures and they often contain crafting supplies.

colorful vintage lace trim

Three of the grab bags were filled with packages of bias tapes and trims, and at $2 per bag it was a no-brainer. At least, it should have been… I was trying to be “good” and almost left them at the store because I didn’t “need” them. Can you imagine?

colorful vintage ric rac

They’re all bright colors, and a wonderful variety.

colorful vintage lace trim

bin of colorful vintage bias tape

Now I have a giant box of cheer, just waiting for me to start my spring sewing.

bin of colorful vintage bias tape

When I got home and tore through the bags (always an exciting moment because, even with those perfectly clear bags, you never know if there will be a surprise) I counted the goodies… 74 packages. I’d say that’s a good deal for $6 – even cheaper than the original 10¢ price tag on a few of the oldest ones!

And yes, that bin was empty before the thrifting trip.

bin of colorful vintage bias tape

I hope sharing my grab-bag rainbow helps with your winter gray. Do you have trouble creating when it’s cold and dark?

sponsored: modcloth make the cut contest

This Modcloth contest gives you the chance to design your own fabric… and have it printed on one of their dresses! How exciting would that be?

I’ve been trying to avoid sponsored posts but this one caught my eye because it sounds like a really fun opportunity. I’ve always loved the idea of designing fabric, and designing fabric for a product sounds almost better than designing fabric for a fabric store. This sounds like the Threadless of the print-fabric world and I’m very excited to see where it goes.

Details

The ModCloth Make The Cut program is a recurring design contest that invites the ModCloth Community to design garments, graphics, or fabric prints. Its main purpose is to further their mission of democratizing fashion by producing clothing designed by community members. YOU can become a designer at ModCloth!

How does the contest work?

Entrants will design a new print for a private label dress silhouette that is already being produced! Contestants have until Friday, February 14 to submit designs. After the submission period, the ModCloth Creative Team will narrow down the submissions to 20, which will be sent to the guest judge, Amanda Needham, Costume Designer for Portlandia. After Amanda has chosen the 10 finalists, they will be posted on the Be The Buyer page for voting. There will be a week for the Community to vote, then ModCloth will contact the winner and update the contest announcement with the big news!

Submission Dates

  • Contest is Live Now!
  • End of Submission Period: Friday 02/14/14
  • Launch voting on Be The Buyer: Monday 03/03/14
  • End voting on Be The Buyer: Monday 03/10/14
  • Winner announced on ModCloth Blog (winner will be contacted personally): Wednesday 3/12/14

Send your entry in now and good luck!

If you submit an entry, please comment here or send me an email… I’d love to see what you come up with!


This post contains affiliate links which means that if you buy something after clicking one of my links, I receive a small percentage of the sale.

favorite places: barberton, ohio’s fabric and freight mart

barberton, ohio fabric and freight mart

Tucked up in sleepy downtown Barberton, Ohio is the ultimate trash-to-treasure hotspot, the Fabric and Freight Mart. My mom’s been going to this store since the days of her youth, and I always remembered it fondly from family trips to Ohio. We’d stop by, dig through the fabric, and my mom would laugh because, more often than not, they’d still have a few bolts left of prints that she had purchased 15 years ago.

barberton, ohio fabric and freight mart

I was always intrigued by the unique, naturally vintage fabrics to be found at what we called “the Barberton store”, but it wasn’t until my last semester of school in Cleveland that I discovered the glory to behold in the unclaimed freight half of the store. Bins upon bins of, well, everything.

barberton, ohio fabric and freight mart

As you can see, it’s a complete mess. A glorious mess. They have wooden handles for any tool you can imagine. Door knobs and drawer knobs, odd nuts and bolts for any occasion. Casters, light bulbs, lamps, ropes, and chains. You can’t enter the store with a particular project in mind, but you will leave with a million brand new projects once you walk out the door with your goodie bag.

barberton, ohio fabric and freight mart - vintage knobs

The fabric side isn’t lacking in surprises, either. They have bolts of funky home-dec weights, zippers and buttons galore, and strange trims and patterned elastics.

barberton, ohio fabric and freight mart - zippers

It’s a magical place, and it’s different every time. One of my favorite treasure-hunting locations, and well-worth a quick stop if you’re ever passing through northeast Ohio. Just make sure you save some treasure for me!

vintage wall plates - kitsch floral

This is the prime treasure from my latest trip: super kitschy vintage faceplates. Made by GE in 1977, only the Barberton store would have a full stock of unopened 37-year-old faceplates waiting to be claimed! And claim them I did, at $1.25 apiece. They look absolutely fantastic on my wall.

quick craft: preserving cardboard coasters with glass

When I’m traveling, one of my favorite ways to get to know a city is by sampling local beers. I’m a big fan of brewery tours because the history of a brewery directly correlates to the history of a town or region, and it’s always interesting to learn about how companies get started.

preserving cardboard coasters with glass - yes, that's just water

Since beer is one of my preferred tools for getting to know a place, I end up with a lot of souvenir beer glasses and cardboard coasters. I always hoard the cardboard coasters with plans to stick them in a photo album, but my pictures never make it past the digital world. I just can’t get myself interested in scrapbooking, “memory keeping”, and the like.

So what better way to display my coasters… than as coasters?

Approximately 2 lifetimes ago, also known as 2006, I won a shoe decorating contest with my Starburst wrapper ballet flats. One of my crafty prizes was a glass coaster-making kit, still available at Go To Great Panes. It’s a simple kit: 8 circles of clear glass and some stained glass foil tape, which is readily available at hardware stores. The coasters are simple to make: sandwich an object between the glass circles and then run foil tape around the edge to seal. The kit suggests creating coasters using pressed flowers, but that wasn’t quite to my taste. So when I finally unearthed the kit again and had my, “if you don’t make this right now it goes in the trash” moment, I did the obvious math: coasters + coasters = coasters.

preserving cardboard coasters with glass

I used the glass circle as a template to figure out which coasters would be well-suited to the size and shape of the glass. I also chose coasters from different trips for variety.

preserving cardboard coasters with glass

I made a giant mess cutting away cardboard until my coasters were all perfectly sized. Then it was just a matter of lining everything up, applying the foil tape, and using a bone folder to smooth down the wrinkles.

preserving cardboard coasters with glass

On the back of each coaster, I wrote the location and the year.

Clockwise from top left:
Montreal 2012: Brutopia beer pub & microbrewery
Berlin 2013: Berliner Pilsner, whose logo I just love because that bear looks so happy.
Seattle 2013: The Pike Brewing Company at Pike Place Market, Seattle, WA
Cologne 2009: Gaffel K├Âlsch, whose coaster is cute on both sides. The back reminds me of a “check yes if you like me” note from grade school, although I have a feeling it wouldn’t get great results in a bar setting.

preserving cardboard coasters with glass

The kit also included tiny adhesive rubber feet to keep the foil from scratching the table. A coaster wouldn’t do much good if it protected the table from moisture but left it covered in scuffs!

This isn’t a super noteworthy project but I love that these coasters can now be used indefinitely. And they couldn’t have been easier. I’d like to make more but I’m still hunting for appropriately-sized 3.5″ glass circles… let me know if you find a good source!

If you’d like to make your own, I did find some super cheap 4-inch glass squares. And 1/2-inch foil tape is easy to find.

Enjoy, and I’d love to see what you come up with!