Howdy sewing peeps! (And non-sewing peeps if there’s any of you out there reading this blog just for the gifs and lols🤘🏻)
Regular readers among you will (probably) know that towards the end of last year, I got a Cricut Explore Air 2 and an EasyPress to play with.
Before they came into my life, the thought of buying a cutting machine hadn’t actually crossed my mind – I assumed they were for papercrafts and cardmaking. I mean, other than decals for T-shirts and the like, what else could you possibly want to cut out other than paper?
But, y’know, in the interest of trying new things I thought I’d give them a chance.
The very first project I used the Cricut for was some sewing machine decals (yup, I started out easy peasy 😂) which are still going strong on the machine body, but it was a badddddd idea to put the ‘Wanderstitch’ text on the extension table. More than once (in fact, annoyingly frequently) I’ve got the tip of a pin caught on the edge of the vinyl as it’s being fed through the machine, which leads to the fabric being pivoted in a weird (and not at all desirable) direction 😳
You can see in the picture above that the vinyl is defo thick enough for a pin to catch on (something I did NOT think about at the time, obvs 🤦🏻♀️) and it’s peeling a little… not sure whether that’s where it’s been savaged by a pin, though. So yeah, not so much of a good idea to stick stuff there, kids.
You live and learn, I guess 🤷🏻♀️
After that, I went on to decorate a Linden sweatshirt (which gets worn ALL THE TIME 🙌🏻) and a toiletries bag successfully, and I have got a handful more items of clothing that will hit the blog soon that have also had the vinyl treatment. But aside from having a hundred t-shirts and sweatshirts with slogans, I was curious as to exactly how much use the equipment would get after the initial buzz wore off.
Well, it’s not faring too badly if I’m honest – it’s actually been used for several non-clothing things over the past few months 🙌🏻
Wanna take a look? Ah, go on then.
Drama Llama Ding Dong
My work-issued notebook was exceedingly dull. Plain black. No bright colours or patterns. Eugh. I’d seen a cutting design on Etsy that I really loved, but didn’t really want to use it for clothing – I bookmarked it anyway, because you never know when an idea might spark 💥
This notebook was my spark, so I went digging around to see what types of vinyl I had which hadn’t been used yet.
For the llama, I used a pink ‘shimmer’ vinyl – which is a bit thicker than ‘regular’ vinyl. As the name implies, it’s got a bit of a shimmer to it (really?!). I loaded up the design, and congratulated myself when I remembered to change my machine settings to take account of the thicker vinyl. I learned before the hard way that if you don’t do this, then the knife doesn’t apply enough pressure to cut through the whole way and you end up with an unsalvageable shambles. I weeded the cut design with no problems (that is, removed all the bits I didn’t want – very similar to actual gardening-weeding 🌿), went to lay my transfer tape on the top of the design to lift it from the backing sheet so I could apply it to the notebook (this is basically sticky back plastic, which you use to keep the whole design together rather than transferring it piece-by-painful-piece), and the tape wouldn’t lift it off the sheet it was on. Erm, what now? It literally wouldn’t stick to the shimmer vinyl AT ALL – every single time I peeled back the plastic the llama dug his heels in and wouldn’t budge from the backing sheet. I tried a new bit of tape, just in case the one I was using was a bit old and not so sticky any more, but nope.
Then I did what I always do – googled it, and apparently, the shimmer vinyl – along with some of the other heavier types of vinyl – needs the ‘extra strong’ transfer tape. Okayyyy, I thought – so where do I get that from exactly? Turns out you – very helpfully – get a sheet of this heavy-duty stuff inside the rolls of vinyl that require it. Sure enough, when I went digging in the cardboard tube, I found it 🙌🏻 It still required a little persuasion for the smaller bits to stick to the vinyl, but it worked well enough and the llama now adorns my notebook 🦙
Some gold llama spit – in holographic sparkle vinyl – completes the bling 💫
(the notebook, although now much better looking, doesn’t actually get used now that I’ve figured out how to use Sticky Notes on my MacBook 😂 Oh well.)
I’ve started drawing my own mandalas on my iPad, using the Amaziograph app. I was always pretty shocking at ‘proper’ art at school, but this is kind of therapeutic, in the same way people play MahJong or do sudoku.
I drew the design on the app, converted it to a cut file using Inkscape (free software available on t’internet 🤓) and imported it into the Cricut Design Space to cut. It was alarmingly easy.
This is the ‘holographic vinyl’ from their Miami three-pack (pink and yellow are the other colours you get – the yellow is what I used for my ‘Wanderstitch’ logo that’s catchin’ all the pins on my machine bed).
Pretty, huh? It’s removable vinyl – the packet says it can be removed without residue – but despite this, it’s not peeling off from my iPad case (yet). I’m genuinely surprised that none of the tiny little dots along the outside have come off – this design has been on the case for a few months now, and apart from a few little bubbles here and there (which probably come from my shoddy application) it’s well and truly stuck.
Kitty Cat Carry Case
A totally boring (but necessary) job – I put the kitty’s name and our phone number on his cat crate when he had to go into the vets for dental surgery over Christmas. This is #CraftingInRealLife for sure.
No photo because it really is THAT dull – I even used a sheet of beige vinyl, which is the worst colour in the world and wouldn’t ever get used for anything else 😂
Another slightly boring-but-necessary one – we cut out some lettering for the signs that we have on our market stall. Super simple, super quick, but they do the job!
Coasters for Dayz
I went to town on these coasters 💪🏻 I made one set for a friend, and another set for us.
Cricut offer two different sets of coaster blanks – square and round, and they have different backings on them too. The square ones have cork on the back, and are slightly thinner than the round ones – the round ones are 100% ceramic, with no backing. I’ll talk more about the implications of that in a bit 🤓
For these square ones, I first used an Infusible Ink blank to get some colour on them. What the heck is an Infusible Ink blank I hear you ask?! Yep, valid question.
Infusible Ink is… like a transfer. You lay the paper down onto a compatible surface (fabric, ceramic coaster, tote bag etc) and heat it up – something science-y happens when the ink is exposed to hot enough temperatures which turns it into dye and subsequently dyes the thing you’ve put it on.
(It’s actually sublimation printing, which uses the science of sublimation, which you can read more about here if you want to know the nerdy deets 🤓)
As with any Cricut product, be sure to look up the correct temperature and heat time for whatever medium you’re using – the Cricut Heat Guide will steer you well. The Infusible Ink blanks look like faintly printed paper when you first take them out of the packet – but once heated up and transferred, you get much more vibrant colours.
While the coasters cooled down (they can get pretty hot during the dyeing process!) I cut out a fancy square design using textured permanent vinyl on the Explore Air 2 to stick on top of the newly-colourful coaster blanks.
Job done! 💪🏻
The round ceramic coasters were a little bit of a different process – to start with, you need to heat these to a properly hot temperature, and for a Really. Long. Time. Like four minutes or something per coaster 😨 You also have to put butcher paper (included in the box with the Infusible Ink blanks) over the top of the coaster before you put the heat press down – which I was totes nervous about because I was convinced I was gonna start a fire 🔥 Well, I didn’t start a fire, but that paper DID burn a bit and it stank the living room out like I’d just lit a hundred matches and blew them out. The windows were very swiftly opened before the smoke alarm was set off.
I had a mini heart attack after lifting up the EasyPress from the first coaster – the coaster, AND the paper, were stuck to the press 😨 Having to finger-peel them off an extremely hot surface brought the husbeast out in danger-sweats, but I’m pleased to report that no fingers were harmed 😂
Once all the coasters were dyed, I set about decorating them. For these, I wanted to use a small mandala that I’d designed on the Amaziograph app – again, I cut them out of textured permanent vinyl.
And there’s my set of four coasters! I really like the way they look 👀 They’re pretty. Very pretty 💜
There are some buts. Some big buts (😂).
Number one: there’s no base to the coaster – no cork, no rubber, no nothing. Just the rough side of raw white ceramic. It’s literally a circular ceramic disc. It feels a bit cheap without a base, to be honest, and it slides around on my wooden table because there’s no grip on the bottom. Not ideal.
Number two: these coasters don’t actually fit my mugs. Disclaimer – I have BIG mugs. Like, Starbucks sized mugs (literally, because they came from Starbucks). The base of the mug is bigger than the coaster. It’s fine if you have ‘cups’ rather than mugs, or just smaller mugs (or even fancy teacups) but I like a big mug of coffee in the morning and this coaster just isn’t up to supporting it.
There’s gonna be a Round Two, though. I bought some (considerably cheaper) ceramic coaster blanks from eBay which are bigger and have a cork base you can stick to the bottom, so I’ll give those a try and see if they are any better. Cricut sell a range of Infusible Ink ‘blanks’ like tote bags, t-shirts and the like, but you can actually use anything that’s marketed as a ‘sublimation blank’ with their transfer papers. Just FYI ✌🏻
So there we go. The Cricut is still very much in action, albeit less frequently. It’s definitely a useful tool, for sure.
In other news, I’ve passed one of my Data Protection exams (yay!) which is just as well because a resit fee was like $400… I put a lot of work into revision so I’m glad it paid off. You may now call me a Certified Information Privacy Professional/Europe (or CIPP/E, because let’s face it that lot is a MOUTHFUL).
It was strangely… enjoyable to be back at the textbooks after so many years. (I say ‘so many’ but it’s actually only like five or six). I feel like my brain has woken up – it was content with the daily routine I had, and it wasn’t challenged. Now I’m feeding it with new stuff and it’s like WOAH! 😱 Which is just as well because I’ve got another exam to take – Certified Information Privacy Manager. Couple these qualifications with my accountancy one and I don’t think I could be nerdier if I tried 😂
But yeah, the brain is ALIVE. Anyone else feel like that’s a thing, or is it just me?! I guess the same would apply to sewing as well – if you make the same things over and over, and then throw in a total random challenge, do you get renewed vigour? 🤔
We’re also getting our arses in gear (literally) and getting out on our bikes at the weekend – as well as commuting during the week – to train for Ride London in August, a 100-mile cycle ride from London out into the Surrey countryside. For charity, because we always try and raise some money in the process of doing these mad sporting events 🤷🏻♀️ All the fundraising we’ve done previously has been marathons ran for animal charities so we’re mixing it up a little bit this time with not only cycling but the charities we’ve chosen too – I’m riding for Shelter (the homelessness charity) and the husbeast is riding for Versus Arthritis, because he actually has arthritis in his fingers at the grand old age of 35 👨🏻🦳 Two very worthy charities, for sure, but choosing them and declaring our mission also means that we’re 100% committed and can’t duck out of the event if it transpires that we’re actually not fit enough to ride 100 miles 😨😂
In my head, it’s going to be beautiful on race day, and the stunning views of the British countryside from Box Hill will make me forget that I’m on the brink of collapsing. In reality, it might be hacking it down with rain and it will be five hours (or more) of misery – August is the British ‘summer’ after all, and anything can happen 😳🤷🏻♀️
So, if you happen to have a spare pound, dollar or euro kicking around, or you’d like to buy me (or the husbeast 💁🏻♂️) a virtual coffee ☕️ you’re obviously totes welcome to head over to our fundraising pages and support the cause – my page raising money for Shelter can be found here (including bonus picture of me in my watermelon cycling outfit 🍉), or you can help the husbeast and Versus Arthritis tackle the disease here.
Knitting-wise, my Sorrel sweater is in full swing, with an as-yet-undecided-if-it’s-gonna-be-itchy mohair giving off some serious fluff. I’m about three inches in and it’s already looking 😍 I’m planning my first stranded colourwork hat – with matching mitts – which will be started this weekend if Amazon can actually manage to deliver me a 2.25mm circular needle that isn’t broken 🤦🏻♀️
I’ve also cut the pieces for my ‘adult blanket’ from my Make Nine, just as the weather seems to be getting warmer of course 😂
Now that my exam is over and done with, I’m hoping that I’ll get a bit more time to sew – and, in quite unusual circumstances for me, I actually have a couple of summer patterns that I want to sew this year! And they’re not dresses, either (thankfully) – I’ve got a Made By Rae double bill happening with the Gemma Tank and Luna Pants, both of which I am buzzing for 🙌🏻 (I am hoping, SO BADLY, that the Luna’s don’t look like pyjamas on me) 🤞🏻
Are you already planning your summer makes too? Or do you just sew whatever you like, at whatever time of year it takes your fancy?
(which is totes cool, btw)
Happy Sunday guys!✌🏻
On the blog next week – the Handsome Husbeast returns, modelling a shawl I so lovingly knitted for him 🤎 Subscribe below to have the post drop straight into your inbox 🙌🏻