Tag Archives | Erin Bassett

Vendor Spotlight: 1,000 Clever Sewing Shortcuts & Tips

Reported by Erin Bassett
In the age of social media, where you only consume 140 character chunks of information at a time, this book is like “following” all the people you wish you wer
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e following on Twitter and that they only tweet useful information and not what they eat for lunch. The nuggets of tried-and-true tips were compiled by Deepika Prakash, founder of, and come from sewers with all different skill sets. Tips range from how to de-gunk your iron to how to create no side seam pants. There are some funny “warnings” shared from doing things the hard way and plenty of “now-why-didn’t-I-think-of-that” tips.
The book is smartly organized into sections that make sense and there is a very handy index for looking things up quickly. The chapter titles are:
  • Sewing Gear
  • Set Up Your Sewing Room
  • Design & Pattern Prep
  • Fabric, Thread, & Notions
  • Layout, Cutting, & Marking
  • Fitting
  • Sewing
  • Finishing
  • Embellishments
There are also five Master Class sections from master teachers: Sarah Veblen on sewing knits, Susan Khalje on sewing fine lace, Kenneth D. King on sewing lamé fabrics, Shannon Gifford on how to create a rolled hem with a serger, and Anna Mazur on elegant bead embroidery.
I noticed that quite a few tips in the book could really save you some money too… like how to make your own dress form, or how to upcycle everyday things that you would never think of using for sewing.
There is also a wealth of information on sewing different types of fabrics, zippers, scrap storage, pattern prep and reinforcement, hems, and seams. Below are a couple of the pages to whet your appetite!
I do recommend that when you get your copy of this book that you pick up a new packet of sticky notes to flag tips as you read.
  • Packed full of tips for all levels of sewing
  • Organized in chapters that make sense
  • Book royalties from this book will be donated to breast cancer research in honor of the many members of who battle breast cancer…including Shannon Gifford (one of the master teachers who contributed to the book) who lost her battle earlier this year.
  • The print text is small. I was able to read it just fine, however it may be an issue for some.
  • There were a few typos. Not enough to really annoy me, but they did catch my attention.
  • Due to the contribution of’s online members some of the tips include acronyms that new sewer many not know.
My grandmother is a tremendous resource for me, but this book is like having her and all her sewing friends right here with me. It’s going to be such a help over the years. Where do you go for help sewing?
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Vendor Spotlight: Little Windows Photo Cube

Reported by Erin Bassett
Need a personalized, one-of-a-kind gift for someone this holiday season? -Here’s an idea…how about you make them a custom photo cube out of Little Windows‘ resin kit and a Rubik’s game cube! Both the kit and game cube are available on their site.
I got to try it out and I will admit, it was a bit tedious at first, and it did need time to dry (12+ hours), but the finished product is pretty fun! Here’s my photo cube:
Little Windows has FREE square shape photo cropping software to make four of the same photos on each side of the cube. However, I wanted each side of the cube to be one complete photo so the first thing I had to do was create my template. I first measured my cube…it was 2 3/16” square. Since I wanted my square to be perfect, I opened up my photo editing software and made a 2 3/16” square and printed it out on paper and then cut it out with an craft knife…however I could have used a ruler and just drawn it onto the paper if I desired.
I then choose my photos and resized them so that I could trim each one to fit on each side of the cube. I made sure I could fit two photos on a 4” x 6” piece of Little Windows water-resistant ink-jet photo paper and then printed them out.
Next, I then lined up each of the photos in my template and cropped them down to size.
Then I needed to divide each of the large square photos into the four little squares that make up each side of the cube. I measured the individual little square, which was 1 1/16” square, and then marked the back of my photo accordingly. I made sure to trim my photo so that the gap that’s between each of the squares is accounted for by cutting about 1/6” off in between each of the little squares. I then snipped the corners of each little square to give it a more finished look.
Woo–hoo, the hard part was over! Now, on to the fun part! I pulled out my Little Windows Doming Tray and placed it on a mat to protect my table. I then placed all the little squares face up on top of the points of the tray leaving a little bit of space between each photo.
Next I made up a small batch (15ml) of the Little Windows resin, as per the instructions, and slowly poured a bit of it in the center of each little square. Immediately I could see it spreading over the surface of each square, however on the few that it didn’t spread far enough I just added a bit more and it did the job. I ended up making a second small batch of resin to cover all my little squares which was more then enough.
Now, on one of my little squares I got some air bubbles.
I’m not quite sure why that one got some and the others didn’t, but the instructions said that if that happened to cover it with a tray to protect it from getting dust on it, wait 10 minutes, and then check to see if they popped on their own. Mine did not, so I proceeded with the rest of the instructions that stated I could now try to use my stir stick to help get them to the surface of the resin. That seemed to do the job.
Now that the air bubbles were out, it was time for the big wait. I covered my doming tray with an inverted serving tray and left a note for no one to touch it. (My husband said that made him want to touch it even more than if I didn’t leave a sign on it.) I then let it cure overnight. The instructions say to let it go for at least 12 hours, but I let it go for longer since I wasn’t about to wake up at 2am to craft!
And here’s a photo of how they look when they’re done. They are nice and hard and as you can see, there’s no air bubbles.
A couple of the little squares did have an extra drip of resin hanging off the side. I assume that came from my messy pouring and dripping of the resin. I just used my scissors to snip it off.
Now all I had to do was glue them to the cube. I used the Zap-A-Gap glue from Little Windows and just used a tiny drop on the back of each little square. I allowed it to dry for a few hours before I handled it again.
Here’s a photo of my doming tray just in case you’re wondering what it looked like after I was done. As I said before, I was pretty messy with the resin so I got it all over the tray. I suppose I could use some sort of tool to try and pop it off of there, but I don’t think the hardened resin will affect future projects since it’s all the way at the bottom of the tray.
  • The resin does not have a strong scent and is non-toxic.
  • Create customized professional looking gifts for people.
  • You can create more of a dome on your squares if you have leftover resin by pouring more on top of pieces that have already begun to harden (after 10 mins or so).
  • There are multiple videos on the Little Windows YouTube and tutorials on their site.
  • Resin contains chemicals, therefore it is not safe for children to use. (There’s an MSDS sheet available here if you want to know specifics.)
  • Cutting out multiple precise photos can be tedious.

    Order one of these great kits or Little Windows custom designs for yourself or as a great holiday gift!  Craft Critique readers can enjoy FREE SHIPPING by entering the discount code CCFREE at checkout.  Offer expires December 14th.

    EDITOR’S NOTE: If anyone is having problems entering or redeeming the free shipping discount, please email the folks at Little Windows and they will happily refund the cost. Just email them directly to correct, Thanks!

    The great folks over at Little Windows are offering our readers a chance to win one of their Necklace Kits (MSRP value of $48).  To win, just answer this question in the comments section at the bottom of this article on our website.

    So what do you think? Look like something you want to check out? Leave us a comment and let us know!

    One Comment per Person, contest will remain open until Friday, December 10th at 6pm CST.

    Click on the link at the top of the page to visit Craft Critique for comments, giveaways and more!

    Vendor Spotlight & Giveaway – Martha Stewart Scoring Board

    Reported by Erin Bassett

    Ok, I’ll admit it. I like to eyeball things instead of measuring them, and I’ve probably only used the scoring blade on my trimmer a handful of times (there I said it! -I guess I’m not very precise…or maybe I’m just impatient). So when the opportunity arose to actually use the Martha Stewart Scoring Board I was intrigued and wondered if I would find it to be a seriously missing necessity to my craft tool stash!
    photo credit EK Success
    Included with the scoring board is a bone folder and an envelope guide (with score instructions imprinted on it). The neat thing is that there are actually storage places for both these items in the scoring board, so you don’t lose them!
    Inside the compartment for the bone folder there is a handy-dandy sticker that tells you where to score to create cards and boxes. There are also stickers included in Spanish and French, so you can replace the English, if you so desire. One draw-back, however, was that the door for the bone folder compartment was almost impossible for me to open. I ended up having to pry it open! I opened and closed it repeatedly, and it did loosen up some…nonetheless it is never as easy to open as I would hope for.
    I happened to find the storage spot for the envelope guide by accident when I was examining the underside of the score board. The envelope guide just slides right in the bottom of the board.
    To balance out my apparent lack of precision when crafting, I have a propensity to read instructions thoroughly…so that’s what I did first. I read the packaging and the enclosed insert, and when it said to practice first, I did…on the insert. Success! I also learned something new in the instructions…when scoring, the score line should be the outside of the fold and the “bump” is the inside of the fold. The few times I’ve actually taken the time to score paper before folding it I’ve always done the reverse. Now I know!
    Another tip: when using the bone folder to make your score lines is to always hold it at a 45 degree angle. When I held it at a 90 degree angle, using the “point” of it, I got off track.
    For my first projects I thought I’d do something simple like an A2 envelope. I took a nice thick piece of Imaginisce double-sided paper and cut it to 8 ½” x 8 ½”. I placed the envelope guide onto the upper left corner of the score board and then lined up my paper so it was flat against the guide. I scored it at the 3” mark and then rotated the paper 90 degrees. I then scored it at 3 5/8” and turned it another 90 degrees. I repeated those two steps over again until I had four score lines that created a rectangle in the middle of my paper.

    I then cut out the small triangles in between the score lines and folded all the flaps inward and adhered them in place.

    The next thing I made was a box. I started by looking at the box size options on the compartment door, and opted for a 4” square box. I started with two 12” square piece of paper for the box. I easily scored my paper and cut it where the directions said to. I then folded and glued it together.

    I decided that my box was a bit plain, so I dressed it up with a strip of 2” wide paper that I scored and accordion-folded every quarter inch. I joined the two ends together and glued it to a recycled scrap paper to give it some stability. I topped off that with a lace ribbon I gathered to form a flower and another accordion folded strip of paper; this one was only ½” wide. I topped off that layer with a small brad that I covered with felt.
    I had so much fun making all those scores for the box topper that I just had to do one more; they were so fast to make! I took two 1 ½” wide stripes of paper and scored them every ½”. I then folded and joined them together to create circle. I adhered it to a strip of paper and ribbon that I had wrapped around a faux candle.To top everything off I added a chipboard embellishment piece to the center of my accordion circle.
    Finally, I made an A2 gate-fold card. It’s one of the styles of card that has measurements and instructions inside the bone folder compartment. I cut my paper to 8 ½” x 5 ½”, and then scored it at the 2 1/8 ” mark and the 6 3/8” mark, per the instructions. I folded my paper on the score lines and then sprayed the front of my card with “Marshmallow” Glimmer Mist to give it a frosty look. I then created a band to encircle the “waist” of my card.
    I found that when creating projects that have numerous folds in them like my gift box topper or the embellishment on my faux candle, having a scoring board is priceless! It’s the quickest most accurate way to make that many score marks. It’s also really nice to use the score board to create things that don’t have that many score lines (like envelopes and boxes) because you get a really accurate line, and it’s really convenient to have the sizes and score measurements right in front of you without having to calculate them yourself or Google them.
    To see the Martha Stewart Score Board in action, check out our video of it from CHA.
    • Comes with a bone folder and an envelope guide with measurements to jump-start your project.
    • On-board storage space for both the bone folder and envelope guide.
    • Score marks at 1/8” intervals.
    • Accommodates paper up to 12 ½” square.
    • Light-weight for travel.
    • The door for the bone folder is hard to open.
    • Measures approximately 14” x 13” x ¾” so storage space maybe an issue for some.
    The kind folks at EK Success Brands will be giving one lucky winner their very own Martha Stewart Scoring Board. To enter, just leave a comment on one of the Vendor Spotlight: Martha Stewart Scoring Board. Answer any one of these questions in the Comments Section right below this article on our website.

    So what tools do you use to score paper? What sorts of projects would you make with this tool?

    One comment per person, per article, please. You have until Sunday, November 21st 6pm CST to enter.


    Click on the link at the top of the page to visit Craft Critique for comments, giveaways and more!