Fresh Picks for Wednesday, 8.10.11 + Slice Winner!

First things first. The winner of the Slice Fabrique is #41 Stephanie, who commented: “I am a craft buds follower.” Congratulations Stephanie! I’ve e-mailed you.

If you’re reading this and you didn’t win this time, I’d highly recommend subscribing to the Slice Fabrique blog so you can hear about future contests. (We’ve also had some great giveaways linked up this week, including fabric, craft books, handmade items and more.)

This week’s Fresh Picks include some goodies from the garden, a way to give back, and some 10-minute crafts:

Crayon Monogram Art

DIY Nursery Art: Put broken crayons to good use with this cute and simple idea for decorating a child’s room! Lisa shares the monogram artwork how-to at The Pursuit of Happiness.

Chalkboard Business Cards

Upcycled Plant Markers: If you have some old business cards sitting around, cover up the outdated text with chalkboard spray paint and create these garden markers! Brilliant tip from Kim at Yellow Songbird.

Win this Fabric

Around the World: Help someone learn to sew around the world. You could even win some sweet fabric! Read more details at Handmade by Alissa.

Zucchini Brownies

More Veggies, Please! Have some extra zucchini growing in your garden? Turn it into something unexpected. Natalie shares her recipe for zucchini brownies at A Turtle’s Life for Me.

Giant Pinwheel Tutorial

Round and Round: It’s easy to make this giant pinwheel for an end-of-summer party! Or, why not switch out bridal bouquets for these whimsical paper flowers? Get the tutorial at Sunla Designs.

Thanks for checking out this week’s Fresh Picks!
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Free Pattern Features: Softies + Winner

These cute little softies (plush animals) are fun for kids and adults alike! There are lots of patterns available for purchase on Etsy but here’s a few you can try out for free.

First up is this adorable little hedgehog from LollyChops. I’ve always thought a hedgehog would be a cute pet but this version would be a lot easier to care for.

Hedgehog from LollyChops

Hedgehog from LollyChops

 

Molly Monkey is from mmmcrafts and you can customize her colors and clothes for any kid!

Molly Monkey from mmmcrafts

Molly Monkey from mmmcrafts

 

Chez Beeper Bebe created this Mooshy Belly Bunny from recycled T-shirts. Just like the name says, it looks squishy and delightful.

Mooshy Belly Bunny from Chez Beeper Bebe

Mooshy Belly Bunny from Chez Beeper Bebe

 

And lastly, we already featured Pippa the Fox and Rascal the Raccoon from Ruffles and Stuff awhile back in our Fresh Picks. They’re just so cute here they are again in case you missed them the first time around!

Pippa and Rascal from Ruffles and Stuff

Pippa and Rascal from Ruffles and Stuff

Winner!

The winner of Margot Potter’s book, New Dimensions in Bead and Wire Jewelry: Unexpected Combinations, Unique Designs, chosen by random.org is Shaiha! If you’re Shaiha, I’ve sent you an e-mail with more information. Don’t forget to enter our current giveaway for the Slice Fabrique!

Fresh Picks for Thursday, 8.4.11

Sometimes, life doesn’t go as planned. Like yesterday, when our server went down for about 8 hours. Though the Craft Buds site was inaccessible, we’re back up now and planning to change servers to make sure we can continue to give you the best Craft Buds ever!

Please bear with us over the next day or so if you get an error message when logging into the site. We’re aware that there may be a slight delay in switching servers, and we’ll do our best to continue everything as planned, including our . . .

Giveaways! You can still enter the Margot Potter book giveaway (through Friday night) and the Slice Fabrique giveaway (through Tuesday night). We may adjust those end dates if we experience more delays with our site, so please bookmark these links and check back if you get an error message.

Here are this week’s Fresh Picks!

Fruit Mini Cards

Fruit Salad: Learn how to make these fruity mini cards at Little Lovelies! Allison explains paper piecing with stamps and colorful paper to make little gift tags that really pop.

Fabric Pom Pom tutorial

Shake Your Pom Poms: It’s a bright twist on the traditional pom-pom trim. Learn how to make your own fabric pom poms from this colorful tutorial at Maureen Cracknell Handmade.

Baby Girl Sandals from Leather

Leather Be: Can you believe these baby girl sandals are handmade from faux leather? Get the tutorial at Make it and Love it.

Redecorating a Room

Before and After: If you’ve ever attempted to redecorate a room from start to finish, you’ll appreciate this family room re-do at I Am Momma Hear Me Roar! It has lots of cute decorating ideas, like this jar filled with whimsy.

Adoption auction fundraiser Adoption Auction jewelry

For a Cause: Go shopping for a cause at the Gotta Have Faith Fundraiser Auction, to support adoption. Online bidding for handmade items starts Thursday at noon and ends Monday! Thanks to Kristy at Hopeful Threads for sharing.

Giveaway! Win a Slice Fabrique Fabric Cutter

Slice Fabrique

*** This giveaway is now closed. Make sure to check out all the current handmade giveaways around the web in our Giveaway Roundup! ***

Making Memories is generously giving away a new Slice Fabrique starter kit to one lucky Craft Buds reader!

This prize package includes the Applique Basics design card, PLUS the new Secret Garden design card! It’s a $200 prize value, and you can read our review of the Slice Fabrique here, including a project made with the Secret Garden cartridge.

Slice Fabrique photos

To enter:

* Giveaway now closed.

1. Subscribe to the Slice Fabrique blog via RSS. Or, you may Like Slice Fabrique on Facebook. Leave one comment. (one entry)

2. Follow the Craft Buds blog via Google Friend Connect, RSS, or e-mail subscription and leave a second comment. (one entry)

3. Tweet, Facebook or blog about this giveaway and leave a third comment. You can copy this tweet! (one entry)

I want to #win a Slice Fabrique starter kit + extras! Check out the #giveaway @CraftBuds. http://tinyurl.com/42hdv5t

That’s 3 possible entries! You must comment on this post to win.

Review: Slice Fabrique Fabric Cutter

Several weeks ago, I was in touch with Making Memories about their product, the Slice Fabrique fabric cutter. I’d been following the Slice Fabrique blog and noticed that not many people were commenting, even for a giveaway! I’d heard a lot about this product, but maybe it’s because I also dabble in paper crafts, for which Making Memories is known. (Before the Fabrique, Making Memories created a Slice cutter for paper crafting.)

Slice Fabrique
Several days later, there was a box on my doorstep from Making Memories with a Slice Fabrique and two design cards, which I agreed to review. The Slice is a lightweight, cordless fabric cutter that’s about 5 inches tall, wide, and deep. It charges in the wall, and then is good for about 90 minutes of cordless cutting, according to the manual.

The Slice Fabrique starter kit comes with three replacement blades, a tiny bottle of adhesive and foam brush, three small sheets of interfacing, and a 6-inch tempered glass cutting mat. It also includes the Applique Basics design card (an SD card), which includes trees, leaves, flowers, basic shapes, and letters.

Slice Fabrique

I was also mailed the new Secret Garden Cartridge, which includes several motifs by Sandi Henderson like detailed flowers, birds on branches, and strawberries on the vine. Unlike the Accuquilt GO! Baby, which cuts basic shapes in mass quantities, the Fabrique is intended for cutting detailed fabric shapes one at a time, which is useful for applique.

Using the Fabrique:

To cut fabric with this device, you first need to iron on the included interfacing to the back of the fabric.

Iron fabric to interfacing
Next, apply adhesive (looks like white glue) to the cutting mat with a foam brush. Note: Slice also sells cans of repositionable spray adhesive, which worked much better for me than the tube of glue. I liked how the spray coated evenly and allowed me to adhere the fabric several times without having to reapply. It’s recommended to take your cutting mat outside to apply the spray adhesive.

Slice Adhesive

After the adhesive dries for a minute or two, the interfacing side of the fabric is ready to apply to the cutting mat’s sticky side. Select the design you want to cut on the Fabrique’s digital interface. Hold the Fabrique over top of the fabric and cutting mat, and gently hold in place while the cutter works. You can see the blade at work through the clear plastic base.

I cut out several flowers, leaves, and an adorable little car from the Applique Basics design card. I was also able to use the same 5-inch square of fabric to cut out multiple shapes, like a flower and four leaves.

Basic shapes with the Fabrique

From the Secret Garden design card, I was drawn to the antique keys motif. Overall, I found that the largest size of keys (size 5), cut the best, while the smaller shapes were harder to cut without the fabric ripping. I was able to easily peel the fabric shapes off with my fingers, although their is a spatula accessory which would probably come in hand when cutting paper.

Cutting keys

After I’d cut out the many, many flowers you see above and six keys without any issues, I noticed that the edges of the cuts were not as smooth, so I decided to replace the blade.

Troubleshooting:

The biggest problem I found with this cutter is the room for user error. I found the directions for adjusting the blade depth very difficult to follow. At times, the blade wouldn’t cut through the fabric, and at other times the blade was digging so deep that it began to rip up the fabric from the adhesive. Making Memories has responded to this issue of having to manually adjust the blade by introducing the Slice Elite, an upgraded die cutter that has automatic blade adjustment. Owners of the older machines can trade-in their Slice for the new Slice Elite for a cheaper price than retail. Note: The Slice Fabrique and the Slice Elite can both cut fabric, as long as it is ironed to the fusible interfacing.

Customer Service: When Slice sent me the Fabrique, it was not working properly. I wasted all of my test strips of fabric along with all of my original interfacing and tube of adhesive trying to cut out circles, which all looked like lemons. Like the lemons, my mood was also sour. At this point, I contacted Making Memories customer service, and told them what was happening with my fabric. It turns out that the blade housing was off kilter and it wasn’t something I was doing wrong. Within a couple days, I received my new Fabrique, which worked perfectly on the first try! Making Memories was also very kind to send me some extra blades and interfacing to replace the ones I had wasted on the defunct machine.

Slice Fabrique cuts keys
At times when my cuts were not coming out, I leafed through the troubleshooting guide, and found that I had at least five possible explanations for why it wasn’t working: adjust the blade, change the blade, “home” the cutter, apply more adhesive, try different fabric, etc. Thankfully, once I received the second Fabrique, I wasn’t having these problems any more!

Slice Fabrique and repositionable adhesive

Pros:

  • Portable and lightweight fabric cutter
  • Simple to use right out of the box
  • No need to replace your cutting mat after lots of use
  • Cutting mat can go in the dishwasher
  • Clear plastic window means you can watch as it cuts
  • Able to cut detailed designs, including small windows that you couldn’t easily cut with scissors
  • Cuts fabric and paper
  • Great customer service

Cons:

  • Easy to waste fabric
  • Cuts only one shape at a time
  • Fabric can tear when cutting tiny, detailed shapes (like a keyhole)
  • Slice-brand interfacing and spray adhesive may be hard to find in craft stores
  • Room for user error and instruction manual not good for troubleshooting

Overall, I found this machine to be cute, portable and effective. Being a paper crafter, I’m excited to be able to use it to cut both fabric and paper. I would definitely use this machine to cut out shapes that are hard to cut with scissors, like stars, flowers, or these antique keys. But for basic shapes like a circle, I probably wouldn’t go to the trouble to apply the spray adhesive, apply interfacing, and cut the fabric.

The Fabrique starter kit does have everything you need to get started, but you’ll only be able to cut out about 6 shapes before you are headed to the store for more interfacing or extra adhesive. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll be able to position the Fabrique wherever you want on the fabric in order to maximize your available cutting space. The digital interface shows you exactly where in the chosen design the blade is going to start.

Antique keys pillow

I used the Slice Fabrique and Secret Garden design card to make this antique keys throw pillow, from one fat quarter of home decor fabric and three charm squares.

If you’d like to try out the Slice Fabrique for your own applique project, you’re in luck! Making Memories is giving away one of these fabric cutters as well as the new Secret Garden design card. Enter the giveaway!

 

Note: We do not sell the Slice or any accessories and we are not affiliated with the company. If you need customer service or support, please contact the Slice Crafts company.

Convertible Dress/Skirt

This dress/skirt is made with rows of ruching for lots of elastic-ey stretch, and a hidden drawstring so you can easily adjust the fit depending on how you plan on wearing it. The drawstring also ensures that if a toddler pulls on your dress/skirt, it won’t fall down! This was my first experience with ruching but now that I’ve got it figured out it’s a great way to make skirts! I’m already planning other clothing ideas using this technique.

For materials you’ll need:

  • 1 spool elastic thread
  • regular thread
  • knit fabric (approx. 1 yard of fabric, 36″x60″, but detailed measuring instructions are below)
  • approx. 1 1/2 to 2 yards 3/8″ twill tape (found by the bias tape), ribbon, or something similar for the drawstring (length depends on your measurements and if you’ll be using the dress as a halter or not)

To get started you’ll need to measure the widest part of your body. I’m a pear shape, so I measured around my hips. Then multiply that measurement by 1.25 and that will be the width of your fabric. For the length, I wanted the dress version to fall just below my knee and the skirt version to fall to just below my ankles. If I wear the skirt just slightly lower on my hips, the measurement to meet both requirements was 35″ (and I’m 5′ 5″). Add an extra 1″ that will be folded over at the top to create the drawstring casing. If you plan on hemming the bottom, add another 2″ to the length.

For ruching you’ll need elastic thread. I found it in the notions department of Joann Fabrics and it came in either black or white. Wind this by hand onto your bobbin and do NOT stretch the thread as you wind. Next you’ll thread the bobbin into your machine exactly the same as you would with thread. For the top thread, you’ll use just standard thread that matches (or contrasts with) your fabric. Using the longest stitch option, test out the stitching on a scrap of fabric. When I first tried this with my newer model Singer 4830C, the elastic was pulled so tightly through the bobbin assembly that my fabric just bunched up as I sewed and it was too tight to stretch properly. I have an old model singer (6212C) and when I tried it on that it worked just fine. From what I’ve read, most sewing machines will do fine but it’s a good idea to test yours out before getting too far into the project!

Start sewing 2″ down from the top of your fabric with the right side facing up. Leave several inches or more of thread and elastic hanging out at both sides of the fabric and do a little backstitching. As you sew, slightly pull your fabric so it’s nearly flat as it goes under the needle. Continue sewing rows 1/2″ apart for as far down as you like. I did 8″ of ruching. The photo below on the left shows how I gently stretched the fabric, and the right photo shows how the fabric looked without any pulling.

When finished sewing each row, tie the thread and elastic ends together. Between this and the backstitching, you should have very secure threads. After tying trim off the excess thread.

Switch your bobbin from elastic to regular thread and with right sides together, sew up the side seam. If it bothers you to only have a seam on one side, you can add a seam to the other side by sewing along the fold as close to the edge as you can.

Then using the steam setting on your iron, gently steam the elastic thread without pressing down the iron directly onto the fabric and it will scrunch up a bit more.

Now we’ll work on the drawstring. At the top of the dress, use your sewing machine and normal thread to create a 3/8″ buttonhole 1/4″ away from the edge of the fabric where you want the drawstring to come out. I put mine right in the front center so I could use it as a halter top but you could also put it off to the side if you don’t plan on using the halter option. I used pins to mark where I wanted to put the buttonhole.

Fold over the top toward the inside of the dress so the raw edge is just below the first row of stitching. Then, with the right side facing up sew all the way around 1/8″ above the first row of stitching. This is the trickiest part of this dress because you’ll need to sew very slowly and keep checking underneath the fabric to make sure that it’s being sewn down correctly.

Then thread your drawstring through the casing and out the buttonhole and you’re finished! The photo below shows the inside of the dress.

Optional: Hem the bottom of the dress/skirt.

Additional notes:

  • When deciding on the width of your fabric, the 1.25 times my widest measurement ratio worked well for me, but before deciding on your fabric width, you may want to wrap some fabric around yourself and make sure it feels comfortable for your preferences and not too loose or not too tight.
  • For the drawstring you’ll want to use something fairly flat because you’ll be tucking it inside the garment. The flat cotton twill is hidden by the ruching but a cord or something round would show through a little.
  • I was able to sew six rows of ruching with each really full bobbin. Before sewing each row make sure you have enough elastic to finish, otherwise you’ll need to rip out the row and start over.
  • If you haven’t sewn a buttonhole before, there’s a great tutorial over at the Purl Bee.
  • To avoid having to thread the drawstring through the casing, I sewed a length of embroidery floss into the casing of the dress and had the ends coming out of the buttonhole. I had to make sure not to stitch down the floss, but when the casing was done I just tied the floss to a safety pin, pinned it to the strap and pulled it right through!

And here’s how it looks using the straps as a halter top.

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