Monthly Archives: August 2012

Sandbag Weights

It’s great to have a network of friends who have the same hobbies as yourself.  I have certainly benefitted from folks who decided to upgrade or sell spare equipment because they outgrew it and I am growing into.  For sewing, I think I could be “little AJ” because in addition to her spare sewing machine I also inherited her old dress form.  (Wow, miles better than stuffing a dress with body pillows, despite the post-30 readjustment of body image, sadly, my bosom will never be pillowy.  Sniff.)
AJ did give me a bit of a warning though, “Watch out, that thing is INCREDIBLY tippy”.  Her kitties were constantly tipping the thing over with their antics and should I ever have a heavier dress on mine, I’ll have the same problem.  Once I took a look around the house, it did also seem like I was stocking my house with nothing but unsteady tripods – camera tripod, photography light stand, background stands.  Tipping over a dress is one thing, but expensive electronic equipment?  Nu-uh.

I ordered this set of sandbag weights from Amazon (sand not included) – studio photographers use these to weight down various bits of equipment to prevent tippage.  Each one has two side bags so it can drape over tripod legs and distribute the weight more evenly.  The color is a little bit unfortunate, however, the material is extremely tough.  I filled each side with about 5 lbs of fish tank gravel I picked up at my local Petco.





I especially like how each side has a double zipper – so it’s very secure against the sand leaking out.  I imagine that other things that will work equally well if you weren’t inclined to buy this particular set of weights.  Those arm/wrist/leg eights for working out would probably do well, though you’d have to get a few of them to provide enough stabilization.  Or anyone out there put dumb bells on the legs of their dress form?  Hey, even a bag of rocks would probably work!

Ten pounds of gravel makes me feel much more kitty safe – and fairly “I-bumped-that-thing-with-my-hip’ safe too!  So, I’ll be sure to have my weights out any time I’m using my equipment for proper safety.   Look at the kitty already coming to check it out!  HAHAHA…kitty safe now!

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Posted by on August 27, 2012 in Shopping, Tools & Accessories



Fabric Organizers, Part II

The three of us are totally enablers for each other. We will often link things to each other during the day and end up putting in an order x3 by that night 🙂 One thing we’re all eagerly waiting for are these completely adorable iPhone headphone jack dust protectors: THEY’RE KITTIES!? HOW CAN YOU SAY NO TO THESE?? 🙂

A-hem…getting back on track…

Today’s post is just a quick continuation of AJ’s post last time about fabric organizers. She had originally discovered them and linked them to D and I – of course, we thought they were the most genius thing ever, and each of us picked up no less than 20 each. And by that, I mean more than 20. Perhaps a lot more.

AJ’s the master of large rubbermaid bins. Me? I’m kind of an IKEA girl! As if the Billy bookcase mod didn’t give that away…

IKEA’s Expedit System is my favorite thing in the world. Their 2×4 shelf is the most versatile, in my opinion – it’s not the easiest thing to assemble, but I will mention that I have been able to do it by myself 🙂

As open shelves are, of course, a magnet for cat hair (and general dust, I won’t blame it all on the cats here!), I also supplement my shelving system with the lidded Kassett Boxes. Think of them as those boxes that reams of paper come in from Staples, except prettier. They are incredibly easy to assemble, and they are basically just made of cardboard – you unfold them and screw a few tabs into place, and you’re done! They’re cleverly reinforced at the points of most potential damage, so they end up being both light AND sturdy.

Obviously, an organizational re-haul has yet to be performed on the LOWER half of the shelf 🙂 But that’s an entirely different blog…

The top row are the Kassett boxes; the bottom row are clear plastic drawers that are sized to fit the Expedit exactly, but I don’t remember their name at the moment. Sorry! They are usually sold right next to the Expedit shelves at IKEA. 🙂

Before, my boxes looked like this:

Total free-for-all and a shot in the dark to find anything 😛 And, of course, I would always end up taking forever because I would tear through the box, throw everything around, and then spend time neatly folding everything back – just to tear it apart the next time.

After the Fabric Organizers were put to good use, my boxes looked like this!

Bolts of cloth! I approximate sizes by their fatness 🙂

Patterns Stash!

Each of the four boxes has a purpose – two hold my larger/longer bolts of fabric; one holds the smaller bolts; one holds patterns. I still keep my scraps (i.e. anything 1 sq. ft or smaller, used for arts and crafts) in small rubbermaid bins in the closet, it’s just not worth the effort of organizing those to this level.

This current system isn’t really scalable at all, I know; but that actually works for me – it makes me extremely honest about using up the fabric I have, before I buy any more. So I force myself to only own as much material as fits into my shelf. The method works! 😀

For now….

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Posted by on August 26, 2012 in Tips & Tricks, Tools & Accessories


Fabric Organizers

Many years ago, I moved from storing fabric on shelves to storing them in bins. The move was somewhat necessitated by my fabric stash getting too big for my shelves, but it also helps that storing fabric in bins means that significantly less cat hair gets on the fabrics.

Well… usually there is less cat hair on my binned fabrics…

One problem I had with storing fabrics in bins though was that there never seemed to be an efficient way to find anything. Trying to find a specific fabric usually involved completely emptying at least 2 bins because I couldn’t remember where I had stored it. Or maybe I had to empty 3-4 bins just to see if I had a fabric that would work for whatever project I had in mind.

The real solution would have been to buy less fabric but that never really worked out for me…

Instead I found an organizational solution to my dilemma:  Fabric Organizers!

Fabric Organizers are rectangle boards for winding fabric on to. It’s so simple a concept yet it never occurred to me to organize my fabric this way! You can achieve the same effect by cutting pieces of foamcore or cardboard, but I was in a time crunch to get my fabric organized and moved into the garage, so being able to purchase the Fabric Organizers ended up being a total life-saver.

I measured each piece of fabric before I wound it onto a board and added a note. It helps to be able to see right away if a piece is big enough for whatever project I am working on.

So now my fabric bins are stored in the garage and the fabric organizers make it really easy for me to find what I need.

I would note that this system is definitely not the most efficient use of space in a bin, but the ease of use more than makes up for it.

Even if you don’t end up using Fabric Organizers, I would recommend some sort of “fabric on cards” organizational system if you have a huge stash of fabric. It makes finding and moving around fabric so much easier!

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Posted by on August 20, 2012 in Tips & Tricks


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Fun with scraps: a frog costume for kitty!

Out of the three of us, I probably have the cat that’s most tolerant of us humans. Monty’s already made a couple rounds on the Cheezburger network and because of his amazing patience with me:






When it comes to crafting, one of the things I love doing most is making things from free fabric, such as scrap/remnants, samples, or even just stuff left over from other projects. As they say, the best things in life are FREE!

The unfortunate thing is that most scraps and sample remnants aren’t big enough to be used as anything person-sized.  But if you have a very tolerant cat, you can make adorable kitty costumes!

So for today’s project, I gathered up some green-colored short-pile plush fabric from some of my old stuffed animals, plus leftover olive green/slate colored fabric from one of my cocktail dress projects. I also had some leftover black felt and white felt scraps that I used to make a DIY dishwasher “dirty/clean” flippable sign a long time ago.





Hmmmm…black, white, and green..time to make a froggie hat for Monty!!!

First I made a mock-up from some pink taffeta, left over from my victorian dress project. I’ve never made a hood before, much less a hood for a cat, so it took a few tries. The best fabric to try mocking something out is probably cotton (i.e. muslin) or at least something a little softer, but again, I love using leftovers!


Once I got the pattern ironed out, I cut the shapes out of the plush fabric. There are two darts in the hood for a snug fit around cat faces, and two open V-shapes you sew together to create the 3D hood. I cut out the same set of shapes out of the olive/slate fabric for the lining.


To make the eye holes, I cut out 4 circles with tabs on the bottom. The tabs are so I can sew them to the hood. I used a hot glue gun to glue two circles back to back and give it some reinforcement. I cut smaller circles out of black felt for the eyeballs and glued those in too.

Sew all darts and lines together, then pin together (wrong sides facing each other) and sew. Be sure to leave enough space near the back of the hood so that you can turn the whole thing inside out!


Somehow I even convinced Elton to wear it for a little bit.  Ok ok, it did involve a little bit of bribery with treats.

I feel like I must put a disclaimer here – when your cat has had enough of your shenanigans, he’s had enough. Please don’t force your cat to wear a costume if he’s truly against it, especially if it frightens him!

For those who want to attempt this pattern, I’ve included it as a PDF download 🙂 Happy sewing!

Froggie Hat for Kitty (1.2MB PDF)

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Posted by on August 13, 2012 in DIY, Tips & Tricks, Tutorials


D.I.Y. Litter Mat

Ah, the eternal struggle to find a good kitty litter mat! I’ve tried a lot of different litter mats over the years, and I think I may have finally found one that works for us.

We used to have one of the Petmate litter mats and actually, I would highly recommend it… if your cat doesn’t like to barf on it. It does a great job of keeping the litter down, and pretty much everything else that ends up on it too… including previously mentioned kitty barf. Ewww.

I really do appreciate that Yoyo thinks the place to make a mess is by the kitty litter box, but it meant that the Petmate litter mat got really gross and there was no easy way for me to clean it.

A couple weeks ago, I was surfing around, looking for DIY ideas to post here and I came across a blog post about a DIY kitty litter mat using garage tiles from a company called Swisstrax. The tiles are open profile so things fall through to the ground underneath and then the floor can be hosed down. Or in the case of kitty messes, the tiles can be lifted up and rinsed off, and the kitty litter can be vacuumed up.

It sounded perfect for what I needed, so I did some looking at their many options, and decided to go with the Swisstrax Ribtrax tile. I purchased their sample mat for $35 + shipping (which ended up being about $15 for me in California).

The sample mat includes 6 tiles of your color choice and border/corner pieces which we decided not to use.

Yoyo supervising the assembly process.

We then tried to put the mat into the shower stall where our litter box is (and yes, our cats have their own bathroom) and found that the mat was about 2 inches too wide.

So it was off to Home Depot where we purchased a cheapo hacksaw for $10.

We used a sharpie to draw a line for where the cut needed to go and went at it with the hacksaw. The tiles are made of a softer plastic so it didn’t take too long to saw through. I’m glad that we only had to do 3 tiles though! I then used some really coarse sandpaper to clean up the edges.

Sawed and sanded off edge.

And then the mat went into the bathroom.

It looks quite nice actually!

And the kitties approved.

Yoyo and Bobo checking out the new mat.

As a side note: In case you haven’t noticed, we use a giant tupperware bin for a litter box. We used to have one of those litter boxes with the lid on top, but Yoyo is a total “dig to china” kind of cat. Having a lid on the box meant that when he started kicking up litter, it would slam into the sides/roof and land on top of him and he would track it all out of the box.

We got the idea to use the tupperware bin from a cat behavioralist and it’s worked great for us. Plastic bins are cheap and come in many sizes and do just as good a job as the boxes you get at the petstore, so if you’re looking for a cheap alternative, check out your local Target or Walmart.

So we’re on week 2 of using the Ribtrax mat and it seems like it’s doing an even better job of keeping down the kitty litter than the old mat. I’ve already had to lift out one tile to rinse off and it was very easy to do.  I’m really happy with it so far!


Posted by on August 8, 2012 in DIY, Informational


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