If you sew a lot of vinyl like we do, you’re probably used to beating your head against your machine from frustration. From breaking needles, to the fabric sticking to the base plate, to your machine stopping mid-stitch because the vinyl is too thick to sew through, we’re going to give you three tips that will make sewing with vinyl a little easier!
1. Use Jeans/Denim sewing needles.
We learned this over time and as stated above through a lot of broken needles! We were always told that leather needles were the best for vinyl. This is not true at all. Leather needles are thick, sturdy and sharp because they have to essentially penetrate through skin! Vinyl is plastic so thicker needles end up breaking after a while. Denim needles are thinner and sharper, making it much easier to pierce the vinyl’s plastic surface. This is a life saver! No more buying oodles of leather needles!
2. Pick smoother vinyls.
This is key to making your life easier when sewing with vinyl. One of the main problems of sewing with vinyl is when it sticks to the base plate of the machine. The fabric itself is sticky, so it shouldn’t come as a shock that it has trouble moving through a sewing machine.
In the past, pretty much all vinyl was sticky and not even a Teflon presser foot would make much difference, but nowadays they make vinyl with a much smoother surface. If you’re like us, you like the textured vinyl (we make a lot of bags and shiny doesn’t work for us!). But textured vinyl, especially the matte kind, tends to run sticky. A quick test: rub your hand over the fabric. If you feel any stick, steer clear. If it feels slippery, you’ve found your match! Trust us, smooth vinyl is where its at!
If you like to sew designs onto your vinyl projects you know that pinning isn’t an exact science. Often times, vinyl will slip and become crooked when pinned.
Gluing is the key!
And after years of searching, we finally found a glue that basically cements the fabric together making it smooth sailing when sewing!
Gem-Tac. This is the god of all glues! And we’ve tried them all! If you don’t want your designs to pop off in the middle of sewing because the glue isn’t strong enough then Gem-Tac will become your best friend.
We love it so much, we’ve left a link to it below!
Hope these tips helped!! And happy sewing!
One thing we know as writers: sprinting is a must!
For those of you that don’t know what a ‘sprint’ is: it’s when you designate a specific amount of time for focused writing.
Sprints can be any amount of time you want really. We know writers that live by the ten-minute sprint, which can be quite fun actually. It’s amazing at how much you can get done when you completely focus for even just five minutes!
We usually do one-hour sprints. It gives us enough time to get some good work done and at the same time doesn’t feel like a daunting number.
So, how do you make it a part of your daily routine? Here’s three ways that we use to keep us sprinting and finishing our novels!
1. Put it in your calendar.
Sound too obvious? Sometimes the most obvious answers are the right ones.
You’d be amazed at how simply writing: 'Writing Sprint' in your daily calendar will keep you on track. You can even add an alarm if you know the time you’ll be able to sprint. If you’re like us, your schedule is all over the place so setting up an exact time every day doesn’t always work. But as long as you squeeze in your sprint every day, writing it down in the calendar is just a way to keep you focused and on track.
2. Phone a Friend.
We use this one A LOT! With each other! If you know you should be writing, but can’t find the motivation: call a fellow writer. Or you can even call someone you know will push you. We’re lucky because we’re both writers so when one of us needs some encouragement the other can help steer us to victory.
Most of the time we text. It doesn’t have to be complicated, just a simple: “You up for a sprint?”
The reply is usually: “Hell, yeah!”
And we’re off!
Writing buddies are the best way to stay motivated and definitely the best way to sprint!
3. No excuses.
This may not sound like an actual task, but it’s probably the most important thing you can do. Let’s face it everyone makes excuses. Everyone procrastinates. This is just a fact of life. But if you can make an exception when it comes to writing sprints, trust us, your life will change. Make excuses for everything else in life, lol, but DON’T make excuses for not writing.
If you’re like us, writing is life. But sometimes we get distracted and before we know it, days have gone by when we haven’t written anything. The important thing is to not punish yourself! It doesn’t do you any good and can actually keep you unproductive and paralyzed.
But…. Everyone can always spare an hour, no matter how busy. And if you really really can’t spare an hour, then sprint for a half-hour or like we said before a good, solid ten minutes. You’ll feel so much better, not just about the writing, but that you didn’t talk yourself out of it!
We hope these help!
by Becca C. Smith
Anxiety. Everyone has it to a certain degree, some more than others. I’ve struggled with it my entire life. From panic attacks to digestive issues, anxiety is something I deal with on a daily basis.
Over the years I’ve discovered some tricks that help me manage my stress. It took a long time to figure out and I still have what I call “surges” everyday (fight or flight: that feeling that you can’t breathe), but I now know how to stop them in their tracks. Or at least slow them down long enough for me to calm myself.
The first three steps are for stopping a panic attack.
1. Five Count Breathing.
This is an easy way to break out of the terror of feeling like you can’t breathe. When I’m having an attack, I literally feel like I’m dying. It’s as if I’m not getting enough oxygen and I’m going to pass out and die right there. Logically, I know this isn’t true, but in the moment, my brain doesn’t listen to my head :-)
Five count breathing is when you breathe in for five seconds, hold it for five, release the breath for five, then hold it for another five. Repeat this as long as it takes until you can breathe normally again. Trust me, I’ve had to do the five count technique for a full half hour sometimes. So, don’t stress if it doesn’t work right away.
2. Heating pad.
This technique is my best friend. I try to stay away from electric heating pads, only because I don’t want to leave the heat on for more than a half hour. Whenever I feel even the slightest feeling that I’m about to have a panic attack, I heat up my neck warmer and place it on my chest. I use the neck warmer because it slowly loses its heat in about a half hour, which is the perfect length of time for me.
This feeds into the fight or flight. You’re essentially using the “flight” part of the equation. I usually use both the five count breathing and walking techniques together. You don’t have to go outside for a walk, pacing around your house works just fine as well. It helps jolt you out of your head. You can even try another breathing technique where you say a word in your head every time you breathe in and out, such as, when you breathe in you say the word, “heal” and when you breathe out you say the word, “calm.” This helps me quiet down the rowdy party going on in my brain and/or the thoughts of utter doom :-)
For long term stress and anxiety relief, I do the following:
4. Drink lots of tea.
This has become a must for me. It has not only helped my anxiety, but my digestion as well. You’ll find that most teas used for digestion issues are also used to calm your body as well.
I use Fennel seed tea, chamomile and Yogi’s Honey Lavender Stress Relief. Rotating between these teas every day has changed my life!
I started taking Magnesium because I have mitral valve prolapse and the metals help keep my heart beating properly. But, Magnesium has also been proven to help anxiety as well. I take a slow-release supplement to protect my stomach, but I also eat a diet high in Magnesium as well. Having a smoothie with bananas, spinach, yogurt and blueberries is not only tasty, but will help your stress levels.
Here’s some information on the benefits of Magnesium:
I know a lot of people don’t like this option, but it really does work. You don’t have to go to a gym or do anything strenuous. You simply have to walk. Walk for a half hour, or an hour, or more if you like. I use the elliptical every day for 45 minutes, basically, the time it takes to watch one of my favorite television shows. Cardio is the best for anxiety and walking or running can really help.
These are just some tips that I use to manage my anxiety. Everyone is different of course, but I hope it helps!