What’s your resolution for the New Year? How about making a resolution to finish up all of your sewing/quilting works in progress? It’ll set you up for an organized new year and it’ll take away any sort of anxiety you feel about unfinished projects piling up.

To begin tackling your WIPs, you must first gather all of them and get them in the same place. Make a list of what you all have, and try to figure out why you didn’t complete them in the first place. Maybe every time you look at the project, you realize you hate it. Maybe it’s no longer your style. Maybe you have blocks from a block of the month that you just can’t get yourself to finish sewing together. Perhaps you don’t feel like you have the skills to complete the project in the fashion you think it deserves. Or, maybe you just ran out of time and didn’t quite finish it and you also didn’t take the time to go back to it. Categorize the projects into four piles:

  1. Toss it
  2. Finish it
  3. Donate it
  4. Pay someone to finish it

Now that you’ve categorized your projects and gotten rid of the ones that you have no plans of finishing, it’s time to make a plan of attack. Organize the projects you intend to finish. Put each one in its own bag or box with all of the supplies needed to complete it. If it helps motivate you, press all of the fabric to make it look fresh. Decide the order in which you’ll complete the projects and impose deadlines on each of them. Start with the project that excites you most. It’ll help bring back your motivation. Stack your project right next to the sewing machine, ready to go. It’ll constantly be in your face that way, begging you to finish it. Then, all you have to do is sit down and start. Get it done.

If you’re still really struggling to complete a project, consider journaling about it to hopefully get to the heart of the issue and find out what’s holding you back. You might be struggling to gather the mental energy to finish. Free up your artistic energy by finishing up old projects so you can be creative for new projects.

Are you finishing up last-minute holiday gifts? Or trying to finish up your cold weather projects? We’ve got the ideas for quick projects that make great holiday gifts and perfect cozy projects that will keep you warm all winter.  

Wool Felt Ball Coasters

Did anyone on your list just buy a home or move into a new apartment? These cute wool felt ball coasters are easily made with just three supplies. For a more festive gift, choose holiday colors for the felt balls.

Blankets

Blankets make great gifts, and would you believe that you can make some great knit ones in less than an hour? With the right yarn, you definitely can! The super chunky yarn makes for an extra cozy blanket. When you follow this arm knit blanket tutorial, you’ll have a blanket for yourself or a loved one in no time.

https://thediymommy.com/how-to-make-an-arm-knit-blanket-in-less-than-an-hour-video/

Rugs

Rugs are great all year round, not just during the colder months. This pom pom rug is perfect if you have a lot of scrap yarn. It’s fairly easy to complete, as well, and you can have fun choosing different colors. It’s sure to feel much cozier on your feet than the cold hardwood floors in the winter.

Slippers

Slippers are perfect for the frigid temperatures. What’s even better is that you can make them using old sweaters! A few supplies and just a couple steps, and you’ll have cozy slippers for you or a friend.

http://drawingsunderthetable.blogspot.com/2013/10/upcycled-sweater-slipper-boots.html

Coffee Sleeves

You and your loved ones can use these all year round! Choose your favorite furry friend and grab some felt to make this quick project.

Hats

Hats make such a great gift for everyone on your list. You can even recycle an old sweater you no longer use and make it into a hat or two!

http://www.wellnesting.com/blog1/2015/2/2/how-to-make-a-hat-from-an-old-sweater

Choosing a gift for your loved ones—whether it is for a birthday or a holiday—can be a difficult task, especially for the person who owns everything. How do you find the perfect gift that won’t be tossed under the bed or worse, re-gifted next year? That’s where handmade gifts come in; they’re invaluable. There really is nothing like a beautiful handmade gift from a loved one—no matter the season. Sure, the latest technology acts as an exciting gift, but nothing matches the meaning that comes from a handmade gift. You guarantee that your gift is not only unique, but incredibly meaningful.

 

Unique

Each gift you make is one-of-a-kind. There is nothing out there that looks exactly like your gift. That makes your present all the more special.

 

Personal and Customized

Handmade gifts are perfect for the picky person in your life. If you can’t find the perfect gift for them, you can make it for them, and what could be better? Maybe you’re looking for a certain color or cut of clothing and you can’t find it, or your special someone is particular about the scents and lotions they use. You can take their needs and wants into account and customize a beautiful gift for them. You won’t have to worry about a gift being slightly the wrong color, size, or mix of fragrances, because you will have customized the gift yourself.

 

Made with Love

Can you say that television you found on Black Friday was made with love? Maybe not, but that quilt your Aunt Helen made you for your birthday last year has love hand-stitched into every inch of fabric. Handmade gifts take so much more time and effort than store-bought gifts. You really show people they mean something to you when you spend hours crafting something specially for them. Plus, you’ll have a great time making the gifts!

 

Save Money

While it’s true that handmade gifts can be pricey and end up costing more than a store-bought equivalent (we’re talking to you, woolen sweaters!), sometimes you can save money by giving handmade gifts. For instance, consider how much money you spend on store-bought candles of bath products. The handmade equivalent, especially when made in bulk, is much more affordable. Quilters can stock up on materials when they’re on sale. You might be buying fabric in bulk in February for quilts you plan on making for Christmas several months down the road.

 

Do you need some time away from home and work to get to work on your holiday gifts? Schedule some time to visit Woodland Ridge Retreat!

 

Now that we’ve covered the basic parts and pieces of sewing machine needles and that the variation in needles is determined by the shape and size of the parts, let’s look at some actual examples of the different types of sewing machine needles:

 

Universal Needles have a slightly rounded point and come in various sizes. These needles are the safest choice for many general projects and fabrics.

Topstitch Needles have a larger eye which makes them perfect for topstitching with heavier threads. Due to its larger eye, topstitch needles are easier to thread and the thread is less likely to fray.

 

Embroidery Needles have a special scarf, a slightly rounded point, and a slightly larger eye which makes them ideal for metallic and specialty threads. The thread used for embroidery is thinner and more fragile so the larger eye and special scarf prevent that thread from breaking or fraying.

 

Denim Needles have an extra sharp point so as to penetrate finely woven fabrics without impacting the needle.

 

Quilting Needles have tapered point and light ballpoint to glide through layers and batting easily.

 

Stretch Needles have a unique design to help eliminate skipped stitches due to fabric flex. The eye of the Stretch Needle is shorter and narrower and the scarf is deeper.

 

Twin Needles, as you can imagine, have two separate needles mounted to one shank. These are used for decorative sewing. The larger the number the wider the space between each needle. There are also Twin Stretch Needles that have two stretch needles mounted to one scarf.

 

Leather Needles have a wedge-shaped point to penetrate the thicker material of leather and faux leather.

 

The Microtex (sharp) needle is perfect for working with batiks and hand-dyed fabrics because of its thin accurate point. It’s designed to be used with microfibers, polyester, silk, foils, artificial leather, and coated materials. It’s ideal for piecing and general sewing.

 

It’s also important to remember that dull needles will negatively impact your project so use new needles every time! Sewing machine needles can bend and become dull quickly so it’s a good idea to switch needles after around 7 hours of continuous sewing.

 

If you or your sewing machine need a weekend away, contact us for retreat times!

 

Whether you’re just learning to sew, are a seasoned pro, or find yourself somewhere in between the two, one thing is certain; the wrong needle can quickly derail even the simplest project. While all sewing machine needles have the same basic parts, needle shape and size vary depending on what you need. Sewing machine needles are all made up of these basic parts:

  • Shank
    • This is the part of the needle that fits into the sewing machine. The front side is rounded while the back is flat. The flat side goes toward the back of the machine.
  • Shaft
    • This part tapers down from the shank. The needle size is determined by shaft diameter.
  • Groove
    • This is the indentation that runs in the front of the needle to the eye. The thread is seated securely in this groove when the needle penetrates the fabric. You can feel the groove by passing your fingernail over the front of the needle.
  • Scarf
    • The scarf is the indentation on the back of the needle above the eye. The scarf allows the bobbin thread to pass closely to the needle eye catching the needle thread to create a stitch.
  • Eye
    • The eye of the needle is where the thread passes from front to back. The eyes vary depending on the needle.
  • Point
    • The point is the sharp portion of the needle that penetrates the fabric. The points differ depending the type of fabric.

Selecting the correct sewing machine needle for your project is just as important as selecting the right fabric and thread. A good general rule to keep in mind is that the lighter the fabric, the smaller the needle should be. Needles are sized in metric and imperial. The smaller the numbers the finer the needle. Next month, we’ll continue with this needle guide in more detail!

We all get into slumps where no matter how many adorable patterns we’ve seen or how full our Pinterest boards get with inspiration, we just can’t get motivated to start, continue, or finish a project. Summer can be exceptionally difficult when you’re trying to balance all the family time and kids being home with your sewing. First of all, if you’re reading this, you’re not alone! It happens to everyone! We’re here to help– whether you need a weekend away at Woodland Ridge for a retreat, want to take one of our classes, or just need a little help getting your sewing mojo back! Here are some tips for finding your motivation when it’s gone MIA:

Take a Break!

Sometimes you need to give yourself permission to take a little break. Maybe you thought you’d have a little more time or perhaps summer is flying by faster than your sewing machine can keep up. Either way, sometimes you can’t get around that block, so embrace it! Set a goal for when you’ll pick everything back up and just enjoy your break! You’ve definitely earned it!

Reorganize and PURGE

Sometimes when our physical space gets cluttered and chaotic it’s impossible to be creative. When you reorganize your space you can calm your mind a bit. Consider how much a change of scenery can help recharge your batteries, now do that to the space you’re in! Plus, think of all the things you’ll find that you forgot about!? It’s an added bonus!

Start Something New

Have you considered that you’re just not in the mood or headspace to do a certain project. Maybe you don’t love it as much as you did when you started. Set it down and start something new. You can always revisit it later on—or don’t! That’s ok too!

It’s no secret that the summer months can get a little crazy—between holidays, family get-togethers, summer vacation, graduation parties, and trying to spend as much time outside as possible, it can be tricky to find the time to sew. That said, studies indicate that taking time for your hobbies releases just as much stress as regular exercise. See, you have to sew; it’s good for your health! If you’re struggling to find the time to pick a project to work on this summer, don’t fret, we’re here to help. Here are 3 great summer sewing projects to get you to fall.

 

Splash-Proof Phone Case:

Chances are you’ll find yourself at the lake, pool, cabin, or splash pad more than once this summer. It’s also quite likely that you’ll be scrolling through social media, reading a book, or pinning more sewing ideas on your phone while you’re enjoying a day by the water. Electronics and water aren’t exactly a good match so making a splash-proof phone cover is the perfect summer project.

 

Blanket with Pockets:

If you’re not swimming this summer you’ll probably be at a parade or, at the very least, you’ll need a blanket to watch the fireworks on the Fourth of July. Regardless, making a blanket that’s one side dirt adverse and one side comfy is a great project. Plus, if you add pockets, you’ll have a warm and practical blanket shawl hybrid to snuggle up in. You’ll probably get a lot of use out of this project too!

 

Summer Tote Bag:

Pick summery fabrics and make a bag you can take to the beach, swim lessons, or camping. With a washable material, this project is the perfect idea for a summer of fun. Plus, you have the option of turning it into a backpack, crossbody bag, or any other design that will free up your hands!

 

Whether you decide to try one of these summer projects or you get a jump on this year’s Christmas gifts, the main thing is to remember that summer goes by in the blink of an eye. Don’t forget to enjoy yourself too!