Sunday, July 8, 2012

Blocking Mats

Blocking mats are important, but don't have to break the bank.  Just a few materials and you're ready to go.

You'll need:
Floor exercise mats:  You can get these at WalMart (or Target, Academy, etc.)
Checkered cotton:  I could only find 1" squares, but 1/2" would be better for smaller projects and lace.
Spray Adhesive:  Got mine at Hobby Lobby, but I'll bet other craft stores carry similar products.
Lint Roller:  These are priceless.  Mine is enormous and I use it constantly.
Scissors:  I used ones I wasn't afraid of getting messy, just in case.

If you haven't prewashed and ironed your fabric, stop and go do that.  Trust me.  Always prewash, unless you are using a fabric that is dryclean only.  You aren't for this, we're using cotton.  On purpose. I'm sure this adhesive would melt some of the synthetics and, as this will be something you want to stick pins in, you probably don't want to use anything expensive.

Once you have washed and ironed your fabric, measure your mats.  Mine were textured on one side so I used the back of the mats.  Rather than get out the ruler/measuring tape, I just threw the fabric over the top, pinned it at the corner and cut.  I did cut the selvedges off first and I followed the line of my squares.  I cut out all four pieces at once then lay the other three over the back of a chair so they wouldn't be in the way.  I didn't have enough fabric (hindsight!) to cover all four squares so I improvised and cut some skinny pieces to fill out the last one.

After the cutting comes the adhesive and the reason for lint rollers.  When you want something, say a fabric on a plastic mat, to lie flat, it is best to make sure there isn't anything on the mats.  Roll each one just before you are going to apply the adhesive, but after shaking the can.  This will minimize the dust on the mat and maximize the amount of the mat that adheres to the fabric.  Follow the adhesive's instructions, and one recommendation: put down newspaper before you spray.  I don't have a good place outside, so I sprayed on my ironing board in the living room with the windows open so the smell couldn't get me, but the adhesive got my ironing board.  And the scissors- they're both still tacky . . .

My adhesive said to wait two minutes before applying fabric.  While you are waiting, here's another tip: roll the fabric.  I lay the first one flat and rolled the rest and can really tell the difference.  The rolled mats are straighter and have less bubbles.  They were also much less trouble to put on the mats.  Line up your corners and press as you go- I used my hands, but using a flat edge ruler would work as well.  Once you have the fabric on, set the mat aside and let it cure for about a day, just to be safe.

I recommend something less precarious.
Prep for this takes about twice the time of actually making the mats, but once you are finished you can reuse them over and over.  Mine take up very little space in my craft closet and I can easily fit them around other things.  The size is great for sitting on top of a dryer too.

Here's the one I had to "improvise" on:

Not too noticeable. . .


I hope you enjoy your new blocking mats!
Thanks again to Ms. Nancy Aldredge for teaching me this great trick.  If you are ever in town, please make sure to visit her store, The Hook and Needle.

Etsy Shop is Live!

Well, I just opened my etsy store.  I'm terribly nervous, but otherwise pretty excited.  I have learned several things though:

1)  My camera hates me.  Particularly if I lose it for several days weeks.  It delighted itself by taking 300 really poor pictures, despite my cursing gentle encouragement.

2)  1:00 AM is NOT a good time for taking photos, particularly when your camera is on the warpath.

3)  Writing descriptions is hard and boring, but much easier than taking photographs.

4)  The cat does not approve of crickets under the coffee table and delights in chasing them into my lap.

After all the researching, disasters and balking, I'm finally finished!  I'd like to thank the following people for their support:

Lynnette, who keeps telling me my stuff is worthy of being sold.
The man, who crawled around my floor to find one clear crystal bead, the darling.
The cat, who at least got me off the couch to chase a cricket.
Mythbusters and Netflix, who provided amusing background chatter during the disasters.

And now I'm off to sort pictures for some crazy post about Blocking mats . . .

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Unexpected Absence

Life is full of rain barrels.  Sometimes they stay full and leave us alone.  Other times they leak and we spend a little time finding the leak and plugging it.  And yet other times the darn thing bursts and sweeps us away in a cascade of crazy.

I will post about the mats tomorrow (found my camera), I promise.  I meant to post them before but I developed a rather annoying case of bronchitis.  Coughing up a lung (or two) in June is fairly unpleasant, having to do it and work more so.  Other things happened, but I think being sick was probably the most notable.  It did make my personal trainer stop tormenting me, but now that I no longer resemble velcro I'll have to go back to the gym.  Lucky me?

Other new and exciting news: I'm going to start an Etsy shop!  I've been debating it for some time as it means a loss of time to accounting (my arch nemesis) and research but the long term benefits I think will make it worthwhile.  Any pearls of wisdom from you ladies who have shops?  I welcome your thoughts and stories- how do you handle all the legalities and the (inevitable) idiots?

The shop will concentrate on my jewelry more than the other projects but I don't want to define it so definitively at this stage.  Shame on me for not taking more pictures of the jewelry, but these are a few of the first pieces going up:

 Rose Gold with Swarovski glass pearls and opal bicone beads.  My apologies for the horrible pictures- these were taken with my phone to show a friend on my bead mat (brown felt, keeps silly beads from rolling and costs pennies).  There will be better ones this afternoon, once the sun comes around!

I would love advice, opinions and comments and I appreciate your time and thoughts.  Have a great weekend!