Saturday, 28 April 2012

Super-Amazing Organisational Tool - The answer to pattern and project management?!

OK, I'll start this off with a disclaimer: I'm excited and therefore this post is likely to contain many exclamation marks.

Remember my Excel spreadsheet of fabric and pattern management? 

Yeah, it isn't exactly sexy, is it?  Well, it's definitely flawed.  I have kept up the system, but its main failings are:
  • I can only view it from my phone if I convert it to PDF, which I therefore have to do each time I update it ... and I'm not saying that I buy a lot of vintage patterns, but it gets updated a lot.
  • It's a spreadsheet.  Spreadsheets are, well, boring.  (Sorry to anyone who finds spreadsheets thrilling ... though you might need specialist help!)
  • The pictures are quite small and there's only really room for one.
  • The inclusion of pictures at all makes for quite a big file.
  • Did I mention that it's a spreadsheet?
The first one is perhaps the most annoying, and so I've been looking for a good organisational system, programme or app that I can use equally well on my laptop and my phone.  My criteria weren't exactly demanding:
  • Combining and organising text and images with notes on patterns.
  • Being able to sort patterns according to how much fabric they require.
  • Aesthetically pleasing.
  • Being able to group patterns, pictures of fabric and inspiration images by project.
At least, I didn't think it was too demanding, but everything I've tried just wasn't quite right.  I thought of Pinterest, but that seems more focused on the image side of things ... plus I can see myself getting addicted to it and I need to save my time for actually doing things!

But then my stepmother posted this article about Springpad.  The article explains it better than I can, but, in short, Springpad does all those things ... and more!  You create 'notebooks' for each project, which you can use to organise and collect images, notes, to do lists, calendar reminders, alarms, products (with links to places to buy them), videos, bookmarks, recipes, music and more. 

I've only had a quick play around, but already I'm hooked.  I've started knitting my first jumper/sweater (eek!) and I've collected video tutorials for certain sections, pictures of the finished top, as well as a link to the pattern's Ravelry page.  Instead of bookmarking these things and having to search through folders, I've got all that information in one place.  It's simple, but perfect.

And you can share your notebooks or keep them private.  For instance, say you've got a group project - you can all work on it and receive alerts when someone else updates it.

Or if you've got a grocery list, you can share that with your partner or housemate, you can both update it and when one of you goes to the shop, you've got access to it there on your smartphone.  Or, even more bonkers, you can put recipes in your notebooks and Springpad will create a shopping list for you!

I'm still experimenting at the moment with the best way to arrange it all, but I can see myself having notebooks for each of my projects with mood board images, pattern details and pictures, as well as pictures of the fabric and links to tutorials for features I want to try out (like bound buttonholes).  I'll also be looking at how to record all my patterns, but the great thing is that I can tag them with the yardage, so they can be sorted by amount of fabric required.

Is it sad that I'm super excited about this?  Yeah, I thought so.

Friday, 20 April 2012

Patchwork & Quilting Supplies

I picked up some sewing goodies online last week:

Normally I wouldn't post about such an uninspiring combination, but I need to say two things about these products:

  • Basting pins (that's bent safety pins to you and me) are amazing.  I only used them on the little bit of quilting for my sister's Kindle cover, but they made pinning so much easier.  Really.  Love them.  Totally necessary.
  • Those needles.  They are sharp little buggers!  Much to my shame, this is the first time I've ever bought decent hand-sewing needles, and I can see that they're a different beast entirely to the cheap-o ones I usually use.  I just lightly dinked my finger on the point while sewing and it bloody hurt.  They're so thin and sharp, they sew like a dream.
That is the end of this public sewing announcement.

Thursday, 19 April 2012

New Sewing Space Preview

It's nearly there, just a bit of drilling needed, which I clearly need to nag my gentleman into doing for me, but here's a little preview of my new sewing area:

I know it's probably really sad, but I was really excited when I found that my sewing machine fit perfectly next to my Ikea Moppe drawers.  Simple things please simple minds, eh?

But my favourite thing is how bright it is!  I have natural daylight!  If you remember my previous sewing cupboard, then I hope you'll appreciate how radical a change that is.

My space is in a corner of the open plan living area, behind one of our sofas.  This is a huge room, which was one of the main draws of this apartment, so I'm really lucky to have a generous corner of this bright, airy space.

I'm quite happy that I've managed to arrange all my sewing and writing things quite logically, with (one of my favourite sayings) a place for everything and everything in its place.  (People will be sick of me saying this very soon!)

The organisational bit is done, but the prettification is still in the pipeline.  I need to hit the DIY shop and get spray paint for some containers and I've got my eyes open for some pretty turquoise and warm pink wrapping paper to cover some storage boxes.

More pictures when there's more progress!

Monday, 16 April 2012

Finished: Kindle Home

I'm a very bad big sister - my lack of sewing has extended to my little sister's birthday present, which was *grumblegrumblegrumble* months ago.  But over the Easter holidays, I was very productive and made her this sugary-sweet little Kindle pouch from pattern drafting to completion in under 4 hours:

Doesn't it make your teeth ache?

I had a chance to use my darning foot and try out free machine quilting for the first time.

It's kinda addictive!  So my hearts don't look perfect and the whole thing looks a little 'home-made', but I love this fabric (strawberries!!) and I enjoyed making it ...

Plus, I made up the pattern and construction as I went (eek!) when I decided I didn't like the pattern I had found online.  It's quilting cotton with needlepunch cotton batting, lined with some corduroy, which I interfaced with the fusible stuff, just to help the structure along.

Testing for size with my Kindle.  I had to wrestle it out - it felt too at home to leave!
I was so pleased to be able to use this ribbon - I bought it aaaaages ago from Crafty Ribbons (don't go there if you don't want to be tempted to buy ridiculous amounts of ribbon!) and have been waiting for a special project.  Little sis is definitely special enough.  I just hope she likes it - I'm writing this post on Friday night (I'm such a party animal!) and giving it to her tomorrow!!

Saturday, 14 April 2012

A Finished Object (gasp!): Patch! Cushion

I know, I've actually finished making something ... anyone would think the planets had aligned and the end was nigh!  (Well, hopefully that's not the case, but if it does happen, I take full responsibility.  Soz.)

In fact, I have finished two objects, but I don't want to overwhelm you and risk your health, so I'll give you a couple of days to recover before I post the next one (plus the other one is a gift, which I haven't yet given).

And so, I give you finished object the first:

It's the cushion cover from the kit in Cath Kidston's 'Patch!'.  Much as I bellyached about the paper piecing, I do like the overall effect ... I might even try it again.

I found being able to hand sew while curled up on the sofa (or even round a friend's house) very relaxing and enjoyable.  And, I have to admit, I'm quite proud of my tiny appliqué stitches:

The boring bit at the back.  Now I need a cushion pad that's the right size - if I can find one, it's a bit of a weird size!

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Pretty Things 4: Pixelated Florals

I love flowers.  I love a lot of floral designs, but sometimes they can just be a little bit ... old fashioned.  And I don't mean 'vintage', I mean 'grannified', AKA the Dark Side of retro.

But some genius came up with the idea of pixelated floral designs and suddenly any floral could be current and, dare I say it, slightly subversive?

I got this super-cute pixelated floral fold-up tote bag from Paperchase the other day.

I've also been thinking about the baby quilt I'm making, which is lots of squares...

And then it wasn't much of a jump to realise that I could make a pixelated floral quilt.  I am so excited about this idea!  I'm thinking a nice big 'lap quilt' to use on the sofa (it can get quite cold in our new apartment) with one large rose, some leaves and maybe a couple of buds...

I haven't even made a quilt following someone else's pattern and I'm already coming up with ideas for my own... oh dear, this is clearly addictive!