FF: A dollar short, a week late

I finished the bedside pockets project last week but ended up with really crummy photos (our bedroom has horrible lighting on the best of days and is pretty much avoided unless we are going to bed or changing).

And more binding and binding, ugh.  Did I tell you I had to go buy binding for this twice?  In the end I was able to return two packages but still…

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Originally I bought I a package of 1/2″ single fold bias tape (4 yards) because I wanted skinny binding.  Then I realized that my guesstimate was wildly off and had to go buy another package.  Then once the pockets were together I realized how thick the multiple layers of fabric because and was worried my skinny binding just wasn’t going to cover it so I went and bought 2 packages of 1/2″ double fold bias tape (which is turns out comes in shorter lengths and might not have been enough).  But in the end I decided to try and make the 1/2″ single fold tape work – and it did, with barely any leftover (18″ at most). I also managed to use the machine the entire time (I was not looking forward to that much hand stitching).  Yay for being able to return things.

Ta da.

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There are only two issues: 1) do not look closely at my edges, my binding did not cover my basting stitches (which I didn’t pull out because there are areas where my binding is so close to the edges I worry about stitch integrity) and 2) we aren’t really using the pockets. I mean I did store my reading book in it for the week, but that just meant I ignored the reading book all week. I’m not sure if I should blame the book or the pocket on that.

March 11, 2011. Tags: , , , . Organization, Sewing. 4 comments.

WIPW (ish) Making the Pattern

Step 1: Figure out what the finished size should be:

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Step 2.5: Cut out Fabric (see cut list)

Step 3: Interface, Interface

Step 4: Bind the edges

Step 5: Almost there… putting it together

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March 3, 2011. Tags: , , , . Organization, Sewing. Leave a comment.

Recycling center

For the past 9 years I've lived in places where I do not have curbside recycling pick-up.  Luckily I've always had access to a recycling center of some sort.  However many recycling centers/containers are designed for those with curbside pickup.  For a long time we've made do with multiple paper bags to hold all the recyclables.  It got messy and cluttered.  When we used a single trash can we had to sort into bags before walking it to the recycle center.


Long story short I have settled on this solution:  wire shelf on casters from Bed, Bath & Beyond (not quite the right size but at 1/3 the cost of perfect-size shelf it was close-enough), and hanging bags from s-hooks.  I just had to sew the bags – I planned on using canvas but then I was walking through Ikea and saw the big blue bags and remembered how people (like Africankelli) were re-fashioning them into other bags.  So I bought one big blue bag hoping it would be enough for two smaller bags.  I grabbed my seam ripper and ripped out the bottom and side seam as well as the handles.  I cut the side piece in half, then determined how big my bottom of each bag could be and cut two bottoms from the original bag bottom.  I cut the long straps in half for two sets handles plus cut the short straps up to attach d-rings for hanging.


These two bags hold so much more than the one bin that fit on that shelf plus I'm not worried about rogue liquids weakening paper bags.  The handles are also much more comfortable than when I carried a very full paper bag. Success for less than $30.  The added bonus is that it holds the washcloths and hand towels I keep at the door to wipe muddy, wet Dog paws (and legs and belly and back and tail) and the top functions as a landing strip for mail and keys and such when we walk in the door.

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May 22, 2008. Tags: , , . Thoughts. 4 comments.

Knitting Needle Organization

Warning this post is long on detail and how-to as well as photos.  If you aren't sewing inclined you might want to skip reading down to the very bottom where I talk about sewing alternatives (or skip it altogether if you are knitting inclined either).

A couple months ago, I got frustrated with the state of my needle drawer.  I was looking for a needle I swore I had but could not find it.  So I pulled out Stitch n Bitch and looked at their instructions for an organizer.  At one time I thought I was all about the needle roll, but then I realized I don't want to carry all my needles with me all the time.  Plus I prefer circular needles and the less kinks in them the better (of course my bryspuns don't have kinks in the first place).  Anyway, I didn't like the idea of attaching the needle organizer to a clothes hanger but did like the hanging aspect.  I also thought the directions were fiddly, so I didn't follow them, just used the finished size as a guideline for my work.

What I did
I cut two pieces of fabric twice the width needed (plus seam allowances), two pieces of peltex craft interfacing the length & width of my finished product.  I seamed each fabric rectangle once along the long edge for a tube, turned it right-side and centered the seam.  Then I pulled the peltex into each flattened tube.  If your fabric is heavier than the lightweight eyelet I used you might not need interfacing (or be able to use a lighter fusible interfacing).

I put both pieces together interior-sides together (so the seams were on the inside) and did a small seam on the top & bottom (short edges).  Then I flipped it inside out (so the exterior sides faced each other) and seamed the top and bottom again to enclose the raw edges.  I flipped it right-side out again and marked my seams for each circular needle size slot and stitched those, then spent a long time hiding the thread ends.  Finally I used a couple thumb tacks to hang it on the wall and inserted my needles.  Officially this still needs the needle sizes to be labeled.  I am looking for the right buttons to do that (or maybe I'll break down and make them, or get lazy and find a fabric marker).

Circulars Organizer step 1Circulars Organizer photo #2Circulars Organizer photo #3Circulars Organizer photo #4Circulars Organizer photo #5

I also made a DPN roll.  I know I said I don't like the idea of needle rolls, but I realized that this could be stored with my yarn stash.  The goal is to condense the knitting supplies into this one box.  I think that is just so the sewing supplies can take-over, but that is another story. Plus I also had these two fabulous fat quarters that I was itching to use.

What I did (apologies, I forgot to take photos)
This time I grabbed a bit of freezer paper and laid out all my dpns (in the packaging) and basically traced them onto the freezer paper (lining them up on a bottom straight line, and making sure they fit within the width of my fabric) to figure out how tall the finished needle roll should be.  Then I cut out an exterior fabric, an interior fabric, a pocket fabric (same size as the exterior & interior but then I folded it in half), interfacing for the pocket, interfacing for the body, an exterior flap, and an interior flap (these were about half the height and the same width as the exterior/interior pieces).

I ironed on some interfacing to the pocket piece, then folded it in half along the longer axis and ironed it*.  I ironed interfacing to the wrong side of my interior fabric and placed the pocket on the right side, lining up the bottom edges.  At this point I used a erasable fabric marker and made the lines for my pocket stitches; Go ahead and seam the very ends too, this makes the final step easier.  It took a little bit of figuring on the freezer to paper to get the distances right.  I made the pockets for the smaller needles smaller than the larger needles.  Once this was done I pulled the threads through to the wrong side and knotted them. 

Setting the main piece aside I put the two flap pieces together (right sides together as is Standard Operating Procedure) and seamed up three side, leaving one long side open for turning it right-side out.  Turn this right side out and iron it.  If you have a directional pattern for one or more of your fabrics make sure that the open edge is at the top of fabric pattern.

Now you make a fabric sandwich.  The bottom layer is the interior piece with pockets (wrong side on the table, right side visible).  On top of this lay your flap making sure its raw top edge is lined up and centered along the interior's top raw edge.  You want your exterior flap fabric to face out (be visible); if you are worried about catching the short edges when you sew the side seams you .  Finally you place your exterior piece on top of these pieces, wrong side down and making sure all the edges line up nicely.  Pin this together.  You should not see any of the right-side of the fabric just the wrong side.  Starting seaming this together.  You will first place your needle around the 3/4-of-the-way on the short side of your fabric sandwich, turn at the corner, seam one long side, turn at the corner, seam the other short side, turn at the corner, seam the other long side, turn at the corner and seam about 1/4 of the original short side.  Don't forget to back stitch at the beginning and the end.  This should leave an opening about 1/2 the width of the short side which allows you to turn your sandwich right-side out.  Don't forget to trim your corners before turning it right-side out.  You might want to use a chopstick or something to poke the corners out nicely.  You might tug gently on the flap and then iron everything.  I hand stitched the opening shut, but if you wanted to you could top-stitch around the entire thing to close it. 

Now I made a fabric strip and added velcro to it for my closure but you could use a wide ribbon (or ahead of time add buttons/snaps/velco at the appropriate spots on the exterior fabric).  I also embroidered the needle sizes on the pockets after sewing this together; I bet it would be easier to do before you sew it together, but after you mark the pocket stitching lines.  I put some notes on my flickr photos and can try to draw up some diagrams if my written instructions are confusing (and diagrams are requested).

DPN needle rollDPN needle rollDPN needle roll

Oddly enough I just found a thread on the Ravelry forums devoted to needle organization, several people have linked to some great products, and other peoples included directions for their versions of these things.  Major knitting vendors have such products, as do many etsy sellers and then some people re-purpose office supplies like binders, pencil pouches, CD binders (or binder inserts) and Kraft filing envelopes.  I know I'm not the first blogger to write up her descriptions on how to make these things either.

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January 22, 2008. Tags: , , . Thoughts. 3 comments.

I can’t stand cord clutter

I tend to be very good at keeping cord clutter at bay.  One key element to that is to make sure that cords don't twist with other cords.  Having a laptop for your desktop machine also helps :)  Typically I store all my gadget cords in this cute metal lunchbox.

However with the new office and desk set-up the lunchbox cannot be stored right above the desk on pretty shelves.  So when I get out the cell phone cord it lays around all messy (and sometimes disappears under other piles of stuff), same for the palm cord and the camera cord and… Within the last month I saw a fabulous "hide all your gadget charging tools" idea in Blueprint (or was it Martha Stewart Living or Real Simple?).  They took two fabric covered document boxes, storing the power strip and plug-ins in the bottom box and feeding the cords through the grommet and storing the chargeable (cell phone, palm, ipod, etc) in the top box (imagine the boxes on their sides, stacked on top of each other, the grommets facing the wall).  I looked around town for similar boxes but didn't see anything that caught my eye.  Then I decided that I could convert the bottom tray of my tray stack for this purpose.  Due to bulking plugins I only fit three items on my powerstrip, but they are the three I need to charge the most.

I tied the powerstrip to the back of the tray with some spare clear elastic (meant for beading) that I already owned (can you see the clear elastic strips?).

I did need a second set of hands to help with this since the weight of the powerstrip cord kept trying to pull the powerstrip out of the tray and the tray was sliding all over my desk (scratching the top).  See the little white dots, I added felt to the bottom of the tray to keep more scratches from happening.

I plugged everything in (using twist ties to keep the length of cord not needed from tangling) leaving just enough cord to peek out of the tray and stacked the other trays back on top of the first.  I used velco cord bundling straps to keep the power strips cord bundled and off the floor (this took two strips since they weren't long enough to go around the desk leg and extra 6 ft of cord length.

Now when I look under my desk I don't see any cords collecting dust bunnies on the floor, just one plugged into the outlet and going towards the desk leg.


My desk "inbox" trays now look like this when I need to charge something and I still have an extra outlet for the less used chargers (like the camera):

Now I just need to tackle this cordkeeping dilemma (sorry honey, I know you worked at keeping the cords neat, now we just need to figure out how to keep them off the floor)

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October 1, 2006. Tags: , . former Vox Blog, Organization, Problems. 2 comments.