Category: product review

Cricut Easy Press Gadgets Explained for the Non-Crafter

Cricut Easy Press Gadgets Explained for the Non-Crafter

The latest generation of the Cricut Easy Press is on the market, here’s everything you need to know even if you are a Non-Crafter!

Easy Press Gadgets Explained|Chambrayblues|Chambrayblues.com
The Easy Press 2, second generation of heat presses.

Easy Press Gadgets Explained

They are here! The new generation of Cricut heat presses, Cricut Easy Press 2, are now available! I am pleased to be able to share these with you! I love my Easy Press, but I love the Easy Press 2 even more. What’s the difference? Here’s the low down, explained for even the Non-Crafters out there! There’s also a few new projects in this post, stay tuned for the how to! This post is sponsored by Cricut. I was compensated to write this post in someway. Any opinions given are completely my own. For a complete list of disclosure rules, please see the disclosures page.

Cricut Easy Press Gadgets Explained|Chambrayblues|Chambrayblues.com
The Easy Press and Easy Press 2 look similar but they have different features.

 

Cricut Heat Presses, Compared

Other than the color, these two heat presses look pretty similar. The original heat press is blue, the new heat press is red. These are both 9″ x 9″ in size. The main difference in the design here is the temperature settings. The original heat press heats to 320 degrees in just a few minutes. However, the Easy Press 2 heats up 25 percent faster, and can reach temperatures of 400 degrees. The Easy Press 2 rivals the commercial heat presses that can heat between 375-400 degrees. Commercial presses are large, expensive and certainly not very efficient. The Cricut Easy Press 2 can do the job so much easier!That’s impressive! I love this medium Easy Press size for making small to medium size t-shirts, tote bags, tea towels, etc.

 

Cricut Easy Press Gadgets Explained|Chambrayblues|chambrayblues.com
Yoga Life T-Shirt with Easy Press

I used the original Easy Press for my original t-shirt collections, such as my #Yoga Life t-shirt collection. You can read that tutorial here. The original Easy Press heats up very quickly, and I found that I didn’t need to waste energy by turning it on too soon. This is great since my studio space is small and this little press heats up my entire room if it’s on too long. Another feature that I love, it automatically turns off after a period of inactivity. This has been a real life saver for me, since I tend to get side tracked by other things and forget to turn it off at times. Does anyone else do that?? Such a great feature!

Cricut Easy Press Gadgets Explained|Chambrayblues|chambrayblues.com
You can use an iron for heat transfer vinyl, but I don’t recommend it.

My first t-shirt with heat transfer vinyl, or HTV vinyl was made using a regular iron. It was a disaster! I learned very quickly that a household iron does not work the same way! My iron takes forever to heat up, and is so small it only covers a very small part of the Heat Transfer Vinyl (or HTV) t-shirt design. I had to press, and press and repress to get the vinyl to adhere. It was frustrating!

Cricut Easy Press Gadgets Explained|Chambrayblues|Chambrayblues.com
The bottom of the heat press and household iron are very different.

When you compare the bottom of the Easy Press or Easy Press 2 and the bottom of a household iron, you can see the difference. An iron is designed to produce streams of steam with holes and indentations. It is also pointed at the tip for fine pressing. The Easy Press is perfectly square, flat, and has more surface area to come in contact with the vinyl. Therefore the Easy Press produces a better result with less effort. Another interesting fact, a household iron only reaches a maximum of 190 degrees Fahrenheit. The Easy Press 2 heats up to 400 degrees, that’s a HUGE difference in temperature! It’s no wonder that first t-shirt peeled apart in short time, my iron just wasn’t hot enough to make the vinyl stick.

I use the 9″ x 9″ size for small to medium size t-shirts.

My latest Toddler size shirt was made with the Cricut Easy Press 2. Faster and hotter, I whipped this shirt together in record time! You can get the free #Team Dark Meat graphic design from my Cricut page here!

Right Size for the Job

It is not necessary to own more than one Heat Press. However, I will say it makes things so much easier! The new Easy Press 2 devices include an extra large 16″ x 10″ size which is great for XLL t-shirts, tote bags, pillows, and banners. I used the large Easy Press for this XXL T-shirt. I always size my t-shirt graphics accordingly to the larger size shirts, since that is mostly what my family wears. With a smaller Heat Press, I would have to press this design in at least two places, but the extra large heat press does it all in one pressing. I also used this large size for my recent Christmas Snowflake Pillow project here.

Like this Thanksgiving holiday t-shirt? You can download the design file here!

The MIni Easy Press 2 is my favorite!

The Mini Heat Press is Mighty

I saved this one for last, the mini size Easy Press 2 is 6″ x 7″. So adorable! It’s the perfect size for making baby onesies, baby bibs and make up bags. This Easy Press 2 has all the great features of the other Easy Press 2’s, just in a compact size. So handy! This little baby Onesie came together in a jiffy using this mini press! Get the Thanksgiving Dinner Onesie design download here!

Each Easy Press size has a coordinating Easy Press mat.

 

Each size Easy Press has a coordinating size mat. I like organizing the mats by size so I can easily grab the one that I need for my project. The different sizes are so handy, I use them all the time! Cricut also has a handy guide for selecting which temperature setting to use for your type of vinyl, you can find that guide here.

I hope that answers all of your questions regarding the Cricut Easy Press projects. Let’s get crafty! Don’t forget to share your shirts on social media with my hashtag #Chambraybluesshirt for a chance to be featured on my Instagram page! Thanks to Cricut for sponsoring this post!

Easy Press Explained|Chambrayblues|chambrayblues.com
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This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Cricut. The opinions and text are all mine.

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Riley Blake Throw Quilt with Cricut Maker -Part 2

Riley Blake Throw Quilt with Cricut Maker -Part 2

The Riley Blake Spinning Wheels Throw Quilt is well on its way, here are my tips for cutting quilt squares with the Cricut Maker.

 

Riley Blake Throw Quilt with Cricut Maker|Chambray Blues Blog|www.chambrayblues.com
Cutting quilt squares is easy with the Cricut Maker.

Cutting out all the pieces of a quilt is often the most laborious part of the quilting process. Using the Cricut Maker, the cutting goes so much faster! It saves hours of bending over a low table, grasping that old rotary cutting blade! This post is sponsored by Cricut and Riley Blake Designs. I was compensated in some way for writing this post. Any opinions given are completely my own.

Riley Blake Quilting Kit|Chambray Blues Blog|www.chambrayblues.com

If you missed the first installment of this short series, be sure to check out part one here. 

Cutting Process:

Prepare the fabric by pressing all of the pieces in the Dailey Days Throw Quilt Kit. I used my Easy Press, but you can iron them instead. Set aside the yellow floral, pink polka dot and blue daisy prints for the boarder (We will cut those later). Cut the remaining fabrics into 12” pieces WOF (the width of the fabric), as directed by the Cricut pdf directions for this project.

Using a 12 x 24” cutting mat, press the white fabric right side down to the mat. Let any extra fabric hang off the edge of the mat. This is important to get the best utilization from the fabric. Do not cut off the extra fabric! Be sure you have installed the Rotary Cutting Blade in your Cricut for cutting fabric before you begin.

Place the mat into the Cricut and cut. While the machine is cutting, prepare the next mat. It is helpful to use two mats at once. While one mat is being cut, you can prepare the second mat. Remove the pieces as they are cut from the mat and sort them into piles of like fabrics. You will need to scrape off excess threads that stick to the mat in between cuts for the best adhesion. After 5-6 cuts, I clean the mat with a bit of dish soap and water. Rub off the damp threads, then pat the mat dry with a lint free towel. The mat should be as sticky as ever and ready to use again.

Riley Blake Throw Quilt with Cricut Maker|Chambray Blues Blog|www.chambrayblues.com

It is good to count how many triangles you need of each fabric for your design. I found that the Cricut is so efficient at cutting I had some extra pieces that I won’t need for the quilt. The final counts for this Spinning Wheels pattern are:

144 white triangles

20 grey

28 pink

20 dark blue

24 bright green multi color floral

24 bright green floral

15 light blue stripe

15 light blue floral

We will be making 35 blocks total for this quilt.

Here are the supplies needed for this project:

Get your pieces cut then we are ready to sew! I hope you enjoyed this post and hopefully learned a few handy tips! Be on the lookout for part 3 of this series where I will cover Quilt Assembly and wrap up this fun project.

If you like this post, try these other ideas:

Super Simplicity Bow Tie with Cricut Maker

How to Make a Recycled Denim Purse with Cricut and Simplicity

What You Should Know About the Cricut Maker

DIY Patriotic Holiday Family T-Shirts

Sew a Pocket Square in 3 Easy Steps

Riley Blake Throw Quilt with Cricut- Part 3

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Riley Blake Quilt with Cricut Part 2|Chambrayblues blog|chambrayblues.com

 

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Cricut. The opinions and text are all mine.


 

 

 

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Sewing Rainwear, What You Need to Know for Success

Sewing Rainwear, What You Need to Know for Success

In this week’s podcast, we talk about sewing rainwear and what you need to know to get the job done.

Sewing Rainwear, What You Need to Know for Success|Chambray Blues blog|www.chambrayblues.com

The Ins and Outs of Sewing Rainwear

I decided it would be fun to try something completely different from my usual sewing projects. With the rainy season here, I decided on sewing a raincoat.

There are several different types of fabric you can use for rain wear, either waterproof or water resistant. They are not the same thing. Waterproof fabrics do not allow any water penetration, verses water resistant fabrics that just repel some of the water.

To achieve truly waterproof fabric requires two or three layers within the fabric. The material, and an inner layer or layers are bonded together, usually by a high tech process called Ultrasonic welding.

Ultrasonic welding is achieved by multiple panel edges are carefully aligned together, pressed, then fused together with high levels of ultrasonic sound waves.  The energy from these sound waves is transformed into heat, which permanently bonds the two panels together (usually containing a thermoplastic material), making the two or more panels into one solid panel, with no holes whatsoever.  This type of machine is expensive, the technicians that run them are also more expensive than an average garment worker, and the material cost is reflected in this technology. This is where science and technology have changed so much in the sewing world. The result is a completely waterproof fabric that is also breathable due to the inner layers.

I couldn’t wait to try this out! Who ever thought that sewing was boring??? Fabrics that use this type of technology are 2 or 3 ply Ultra-Tex, SWB-Tex, Hyro-Shield Ripstop, and Storm Fit.

For water resistant fabrics, fabrics are woven together very tightly, water molecules are small and can filter through the fibers because it doesn’t have a backing. Light rainfall cannot pass through these tiny pores since rain drops aren’t always that big, but high water pressure from a constant downpour or submersion will cause water to find its way through the fibers.

Fabrics that are water resistant are coated Taslan, Microsuede Polyester, coated Taffeta, ripstop, Silkara, Weather Max-65 and Ten Mile Cloth.

For my project I purchased two different fabrics, the water resistant 2 ply Ultra-Tex and a soft silky water resistant Silkara for a second project.

Supplies and Resources:

Fabric sources for rainwear fabric and supplies such as grippers, waterproofing tape and buttons can be purchased at: Seattle Fabrics, Fabrics.com, LA Finchfabrics.com, Moodfabrics.com.

    1. a gabardine or twill fabric and add waterproofing after the garment is sewn instead. Can’t use fusible interfacing, it doesn’t stick to Gorex or fabrics that have a rubberized backing.
    2. Alterations to fit, lengthen the pattern. Easy to fit a dolman sleeve.
    3. Simple is easier, don’t add the fine details if you are not comfortable with them.
    4. Cutting and sewing a lining. Slippery stuff! So hard to cut! Use pattern weights and very sharp pins and scissors.
    5. Buttons vs. Grippers: Gripper snaps are easier to install but can cause tears in the fabric unless it’s interfaced. Use a good quality denim gripper for best results.Rainwear sewing techniques, waterproof fabrics are a little different animal. Can’t rip out stitches because the needle leaves holes. Can’t pin either for the same reason. Can use

    Waterproof Fabric Tips

    1. Waterproof fabrics require special care when cutting. You can’t use pins because they put holes in the fabric. Also, fabrics such as Gortex has the heavy backing which is very thick and pins won’t poke through it. You will need to use pattern weights, and lots of them when laying out the pattern to cut.
    2. Fusible interfacing doesn’t work with this type of fabric. I tried ironing some on at low heat (so the fabric doesn’t melt), and though it seemed like it was working the glue did not hold in the long run. Use a sew in interfacing instead for this project.
    3. A walking foot is essential for sewing this “sticky” fabric. One side of the fabric is slick, the other sticks like glue to everything. It gets stuck under the presser foot and doesn’t move as you are sewing. If you don’t have a walking foot, you could try using a piece of freezer paper under the presser foot to help it slide under the presser foot.
    4. A sharp needle is a must. I used a size 14 all purpose needle for this project.
    5. Good quality thread makes a huge difference, Gutterman thread was recommended by the fabric supplier and that’s what I used. Fabric was purchased from Seattle Fabrics.com.
    6. Making buttonholes was challenging. The pattern had buttons and snaps as options, I decided on buttons because they were easy to find. I think snaps would have worked better because the button holer kept sticking to the fabric as I mentioned above and was very cumbersome to use. I made several mistakes with my buttonholes, and I just have to live with how they turned out.
    7. You can’t rip out stitches with this type of fabric because it leaves holes. You only get one chance to do it right, and for the same reasons Gortex is just difficult to work with.

    Waver Jacket Pattern Review

    I have not sewn with many pdf patterns, as I usually just stick with one of the name brands. This pdf was overall well designed, but I spotted a couple of things that could have made this project turn out so much better.

    1. The Center front wasn’t cut on the straight grain: This may seem like a small detail, but this one change could have made this coat so much better. Grain line placement makes a huge difference in how the finished coat hangs. As you can see from my photos, the coat appears to have too much fullness at center front, and hides the buttons when hanging. This is because the marked grain line was at an angle to the center front, generally a no-no in the design world. Particularly with center front button plackets, the front grain must be cut on the straight grain for the best result. I knew I should have changed it when I cut it, but for some reason I didn’t. Live and learn from my mistake!
    2. Pocket placement could be better: The pockets are way to close to the center front. I did alter the pattern and added extra fullness at the side seam. The pockets should have been moved at least 2″ closer to the side seam.
    3. Lining hem could be longer: Most quality coats have what is called a jump hem. That is, a hem that has 1/2″ or more extra length in the lining so that when you move your arms and shoulders the extra length keeps the hem hanging straight and doesn’t pull up as you move. This coat was not designed this way and I discovered too late that the hem pulls up in an unattractive manor when moving about. If I make it again, I will add extra 1″ of length to the lining. For now, I stitched the hem of the lining independently from the jacket, allowing the extra movement that is needed.

    Overall this was a challenging project. The fabric I chose was not easy to work with, but I am still pleased with it. My purpose in making this jacket was to have something to wear for walking outside and working in the yard on wet days. The jacket serves it’s purpose even though it isn’t as perfect as I would like. The color alone makes me happy every time I put it on.

    See the full sewing tutorial here.

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Sweet Mom and Me Apron Pattern Review

Sweet Mom and Me Apron Pattern Review

Every little girl wants matching Mom and me outfits. Some of us wait a long time to get them! This easy apron is a great project for a beginner sewer, make one for you and your child in a single day!

Mom and Me Aprons

I love aprons. I have at least 6 of them that I use all the time for cooking, crafting, or cleaning. Some of them have pockets, some don’t. A few of my aprons are for specific holidays or making Sunday dinner. I don’t have many that are prints, and I was smitten with these lovely fabrics from Cross Cut Sewing Company the minute I saw them.

This pattern is very easy, requires only a yard of each fabric and is reverse-able. I love the contrasting bit of fabric at the hem that gives you a hint of what’s on the other side. The pattern, fabric and trims come as a complete kit and are customize-able for children or adults. It’s easy to make a mother child combo, or you can make two adult size aprons as I did. You can choose your fabrics too, and I loved this combination of floral and chambray. Chambray is my favorite thing you know…..

Sweet Mom and Me Apron Pattern Review|ChambrayBluesblog|chambrayblues.com

The Cross Cut Sewing Company pattern directions were easy to follow. I didn’t change any of the construction, but I did add top stitching 1/4″ from the edge of the apron around the perimeter. Also, I applied Fray-Check to seal the raw edges of the twill tape after cutting. The twill tape is used for the neck band and waist ties. You could also melt the edges with a cigarette lighter to seal them, but this method will slightly discolor the edges where the Fray-Check is completely clear.

I also added a stitch in the ditch seam at the hem where the contrasting fabric band begins. To do this, just top stitch over the seam line, it will appear on both sides. This stitching helps keep the layered fabrics together and keeps things from shifting during washing.

 

The great thing about the pattern is the reverse-able nature of it. The apron is fast to cut out by layering the two fabric pieces before you cut with a rotary cutter. Just be sure the edges and folds match so you don’t end up with one piece that’s larger than the other.

The pattern kit came with D-rings for the neck band which were easy to stitch in place on the twill tape.

Sweet Mom and Me Apron Pattern Review|Chambraybluesblog|chambrayblues.com

Mom was more concerned about eating her breakfast before it got cold and putting her lipstick on before the photos. But, she likes her new apron. I caught her with it on while she was doing dishes this morning! Finally, we have a Mom and Me outfit. I always wanted one as a kid! You are never too old for this sort of thing, Mom is 87 and still going strong!

Thanks to Cross Cut Sewing Company for sponsoring this post!

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Sweet Mom and Me Apron Pattern Review|Chambraybluesblog|chambrayblues.com

 

Try some of these other great ideas:

3 Step Easy T-Shirt Pattern Hack

How to Read a Sewing Pattern Envelope

5 Step Easy Headband

How to Restyle a Boring Denim Jacket

What You Should Know About the Cricut Maker

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Why Self Care Makes for Better Sewing

Why Self Care Makes for Better Sewing

We have all been there: feeling, sore, tired, overwhelmed and unfocused. These things can disrupt your mindset and decrease your sewing productivity. Here’s why you should make self care a priority for better sewing.

 

Why Selfcare makes sewing better|Chambraybluesblog|Chambrayblues.com
Taking care of yourself will make you a better sewer!

I sometimes think that as sewers, we are destined to take care of everyone else but ourselves. We spend long hours hunched over a sewing machine or cutting table, laboring away on the things we make out of love for everyone else. So often we end up with sore backs, wrists, dry cut hands and cut bleeding fingers from our efforts. Forgetting to take care of yourself actually disrupts and slows down your sewing production. Here’s how you can remedy your physical issues that keep you from being more productive in your sewing.

 

Why Selfcare makes sewing better|Chambraybluesblog|Chambrayblues.com

Take Time for Self Care

This post is sponsored by Love and Leche. I was compensated in some way for writing this post. Any opinions given are completely my own. See the disclosures page for more information.

Why Selfcare makes sewing better|Chambraybluesblog|Chambrayblues.com

Top Self Care Issues

  1. Cure dry chapped hands. Here in Wisconsin, our long cold winters attribute to dry skin and cracked hands. With all the cutting and sewing I do, I find that my hands are just a mess. Nothing seems to keep my hands from feeling chapped and sore. Sewing just makes the problem worse. Love and Leche sent me their natural lotion bar to try and it’s been a game changer. This bar is incredibly moisturizing, and it doesn’t leave a greasy residue on your hands. I love that it comes in this adorable bag, and has a mini-lotion tin for my handbag. This eco-friendly gift bag is made by Work + Shelter in New Delhi, India. Your purchase of this product (the gift bag) goes to help impoverished women giving them more control and dignity in their lives. It’s a win, win.
  2. Be sure your sewing table is at the correct height. Working on a table that is too low, or too high for long hours will cause back and shoulder pain. Your hands and wrists should be perpendicular to your machine while sewing to relieve stress in your neck, back and shoulders. If your table is not the correct height you are at risk for injury. Look for a lower table or adjust your machine height by setting it into the table top. A handy man can cut a hole in your table to set your machine down in it without too much trouble.
  3. Take frequent breaks while sewing. This may seam obvious, but it’s easy to get so involved in your project that you spend hours and hours without moving or changing position. You should get up and walk around at least every 20-30 minutes to relieve stress and relax your muscles.
  4. Cut out your project on a waist high surface. Many women who sew have lower back pain from leaning over their cutting surface. You will be amazed how much better you feel by raising your table up when you cut. Try using an inexpensive 8 foot plastic dining table raised up on concrete blocks for cutting. You can even put two tables together for a wider cutting surface. Look for inexpensive plastic risers to add to your own table at Walmart or Ikea for this purpose.
  5. Pace Yourself. It’s easy to over commit to your sewing projects. I have 5 cut projects waiting to be sewn as I write this post. As much as I love to sew, no one can sew 24 hours a day. Set a realistic deadline or goal for your sewing. I have a project scheduled on my calendar for each month. If I get it done before the month is over, I start another one. If not, then I have some time to squeeze it in during the next month. Sewing is ment to be an enjoyable hobby, it’s not enjoyable if you are stressed out trying to finish a project and make mistakes because of it. I limit my sewing to 2-3 hours per day. If I try to work longer hours, I end up making unnecessary mistakes in my work. Pace is important!
  6. Treat yourself to a massage. I am a firm believer in massage. Get one once a week or once a month to stay loose and limber for sewing. Massage releases toxins that build up in your muscles over time. The most effective massages are at least 60 minutes long, it takes that long to truly relax and enjoy the massage. It may cost a few dollars, but you will be more productive in your sewing if you feel good. This is particularly helpful if you sew for a living, or have a big stressful project your are working on such as a bridal gown or large quilt. You won’t regret it, I promise.
  7. Drink plenty of water. Headaches are the first sign of dehydration. Be sure to keep a bottle of water next to you as you work on your projects. It’s easy to forget that you need to keep hydrated as you work. Definitely will help you concentrate longer and get more done.

Why Selfcare makes sewing better|Chambraybluesblog|Chambrayblues.com

 

Thanks to Love and Leche for sponsoring this post! If you would like to try their products, they are offering a free mini-lotion for your first purchase as a special offer to my readers. Enter the code Chambrayblues at checkout. Offer is good until May 15, 2018.

You can also register to win a free lotion gift bag here.

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Why Selfcare makes sewing better|Chambraybluesblog|Chambrayblues.com

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