Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Don't Get Your Bindings in a Twist!

Have y'all heard the latest on Facebook about the Easy Binding Winder?
It's a quilter and sewist's must-have gizmo being developed by a two-person team of a quilt designer/online shop owner and entrepreneur/inventor.

The Easy Binding Winder is a tool designed to help the quilter or sewer keep their miles of quilt binding, bias tape, piping, etc., under control. In a nutshell, as you iron your strips of  fabric in half, you thread it onto the EBW and use the handcrank to wind it up. (Just like we used to do with car windows before they became electric!) Then, after your lo-o-o-ng strip (as much as 40 feet for a king size quilt!) is totally wound up on the reel, you can take it over to your sewing machine and sew it onto your quilt (for instance) while it stays perfectly in control, slowly unwinding without twisting, tangling, knotting, or getting caught under your feet or sewing chair. Bonus: your miles o' binding are now kitty and puppy proof!

I was asked to put the prototype through its paces recently so I gave it a whirl.

This is the 3D-printed prototype of the future Easy Binding Winder. I had no idea what a 3D-printer was or that it could produce something that was, well...you know...3D!
There's one part missing from the photo - the little clamp to attach it to your ironing board. Since I was just testing this on my cutting table, I didn't need it. But the clamp keeps the Easy Binding Winder steady while you're ironing with one hand and winding with the other.

So here's the deal. This is how my binding looks as I get ready to press it. This was actually for a wallhanging, so it's only about 12' long. 

I conscripted Gillian and Laura to help me - they were the hand models, and I was the photographer. This is how they looked when I explained what they were going to have to do: press/manage binding the old fashioned way. The outlook was bleak and drab. 
They so didn't want to make binding.

And can you blame them? As they pressed the binding strip in half it piled up in a wad, then started to cascade over the edge of the cutting table and ended up a tangled mass on the floor. 

I mercifully let them stop before they'd gone too far, but already you can see that the binding is starting to tangle. Imagine the pile that 40' of binding would make!

Easy Binding Winder to the rescue!
If you're right-handed, you'll place the EBW to your left on the ironing board and attach it with the clamp, not shown here, cuz I didn't need it! Press just the first couple of inches of your fabric in half, and feed it under the rod at the bottom, and slide it under the clip on the actual spool.

Once threaded, you can lay your iron down on the fabric close to the EBW, and begin to turn the handle which pulls the binding under the iron and winds it up neatly onto the spool. With the right hand, you can direct the fabric as it goes under the iron. Or you can do it the regular way, pressing a bit, then winding a bit. Think of that song from The Music Man: Press a little, wind a little, press a little, wind a little; press, press, press, wind it up, wind it up a little. 
LOL. I crack myself up. For real.

Sorry - back to business - pressing, winding...

All 12' feet of the binding is wound neatly on the spool at this point and can now be removed from the Easy Binding Winder. 

You can either set the smoothly wound spool of binding aside to keep with your project until you're ready to attach it, or you can take the whole thing over to your sewing machine and set it to the side and begin attaching the binding to your quilt. It will unwind smoothly as you sew it on. No tangles, no twists, no wadded balls of binding in your lap, on the floor, under your chair, or being dragged through a maze of table and chair legs by your 4-legged friends!
And when you're through, you'll have a whole new outlook just like these two:

Check out the video demo on their 

And be sure to Like them on Facebook so you don't miss out on any of the action!
Super Secret News Flash!
My sources have told me that they're also developing an adapter for the yarn-o-philes out there - perfect for winding your skeins of yarn into beautiful, perfect orbs! 
Ssshhhhh - keep it on the down-low!

Monday, December 1, 2014

December Desktop Calendar

With all five of our children grown and, for the most part, out of the nest, I'm not really feeling the need to go all out with the decorating this year. I used to go a little crazy with the greenery, candles, Father Christmases, vignettes and creche's. (I have my grandmother's old figures that set in a wooden manger made by Kevin Manning, a highschool friend, a Precious Moments one, complete with kings, camels, and stable walls, an Amish one with quilts but without faces, a miniature one, a handpainted wooden one that fits like a puzzle into the stable, 2 different Hallmark ones...you get the idea.) I should pull them out so you can see. But that would take effort, so you know that's not going to happen any time soon.

Anyway, just like I used to go overboard with the decorating, Andy and I used to pile presents under the tree for the kids til they wouldn't fit under the tree, or even inside an 8' circle around the tree! Then, one year, embarrassed and dismayed by the Gift Gluttony that our kids began to exhibit, we came up with a solution to limit the gifts without making the kids pout and feel neglected.

We decided that since Jesus only received three gifts (remember the 3 wise men?), the kids shouldn't receive more than Him. We explained it to the kids, and they seemed ok with that.
The real trick was how to make the present-opening last longer than 30 seconds per!

So, we made the kids work for their gifts. Don't freak.
After they all went to bed on Christmas Eve, Andy and I (ok, not so much Andy) stayed up late writing rhyming clues. One for each set of gifts. We'd put them in envelopes numbered 1, 2, and 3 and placed them on the tree. Christmas morning, the kids were allowed to get up however early they wanted, but they could only open whatever little gifts were in their stockings. At 7, they were allowed to wake us up. (Of course, wanting to make their Christmas morning all beautiful and magical for them, I'd get up at 5, light a fire in the fireplace, and put on soft Christmas music. Then I'd go back to bed.)

Andy and I would come out at the appointed hour and I'd make a pot of coffee while the kids would begin to hand out the decent amount of presents under the tree - from and to each other, from relatives and friends, and to Andy & me. When all had been dispatched, the kids would begin on the clues. There were three rules: they all had to sit on the couch while someone read the clue; they all had to agree on the solution before they could run to see if they were right, and if they were wrong, they couldn't look anywhere else. They had to come back to the couch and re-read it and try to solve it again.

At this point, I'll say that at 2am on Christmas Eve, the clues seemed extremely clever and poetic, and I was so proud of my ability to cloak an obvious hiding place inside an obtuse reference. Come the harsh light of day, however, more often than not, it became an incomprehensible and unsolvable riddle. Probably due in part to the mugs of homemade egg nog heavily laced with rum consumed whilst composing.

The really cool part of this exercise was that I could sit back and have another cup of coffee or egg nog (shhhhh....with rum!) without all the hectic wrapping paper and ribbon explosions as in the past. And the kids really enjoyed the hunt. It extended present-opening from 5 minutes to about 2 hours! Bonus: since each of the kids were only allowed three presents, Andy and I became much more selective in our present shopping, which, lo and behold, saved us a ton of money! Win/win!

Feel free to use this idea (if you didn't already shop your brains out on Black Friday)!

Finally, here's your calendar - Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!

Click to expand the image to full size, right-click and choose Set as Wallpaper or Background.
To really make the calendar "pop" right-click on your background and choose black. Your family and co-workers will be jealous of your awesome wallpaper! Be sure to tell them where you found it!