Craft Ideas, How to Instructions, Projects, and Patterns

Gadget Corner


This section is designed to introduce you to some gadgets and handy tools which will make your crafting experience easier and more enjoyable.  You may be familiar with some of these tools and others may be new to you.  In any case, I hope they add to your crafting enjoyment.  Also, I have described some of the usual and unusual uses for some of these products.



sizzix machineSizzix (Die Cut) Machine

 This very handy machine cuts shapes from a variety of materials.  I have used it on paper, cardstock, craft foam and felt.  Once you buy the machine, you purchase the die cuts separately.  They come in a large variety including numbers, letters, holiday and every day shapes.  It's a must have for serious scrap bookers.  An optional converter is available which allows you to emboss with the Sizzix machine.  Sizzix machines and die cuts are available at a variety of craft and fabric stores.

hole punchesHole Punches 

Here is a very simple tool which has many uses.  You may not realize that the typical round hole punch comes in a variety of sizes.  I use the 3/16" hole punch to punch holes in felt when preparing items for young sewers to make such as our Learn to Sew Star.  Round punches can also be used to punch holes out of craft foam - which can then be used in a variety of craft projects such as our Snowman.  Additionally, hole punches now come in a variety of shapes.

cutting matRotary cutterRotary Cutter and Mat

This is a great, quick way to make straight cuts that are actuallystraight.  The cutting mat comes with measurements.  You lay your fabric (or whatever you are cutting) down on the mat and lay a straight edge on top of it being sure to line it up with your desired measurement and run your rotary cutter along the straight edge for the perfect straight cut.  Pinking blades are also available for rotary cutters.

Hot glue gunHot Glue Gun   Hot glue gun

Hot glue guns are a way to get a quick hold eliminating the need to clamp items while traditional glue dries.  Glue guns come in two general sizes, the standard size glue gun and mini glue guns.  Glue sticks come in various sizes, lengths and types.  Standard glue sticks are 7/16" around x 4" long however, I prefer the 10" long sticks as the gun doesn't need to be refilled as often.  Mini glue guns use sticks that are 5/16" around x 4" long. Also, some guns use oval sticks but I recommend a gun that uses round ones as they are more common and offer more variety in glue types.  You will need to know the difference between high temp, low temp and multi temp.   Low temp is good for gluing delicate items that shouldn't be exposed to high heat.  High temp is used for everything else.  If a glue stick is low temp it can only be used on low setting and high temp sticks only work at high temp setting.  I prefer the multi temp sticks as they can be used on either setting.  When purchasing a glue gun be aware that not all guns are dual temp (meaning having both high and low settings).  They now make special glue sticks for certain purposes such as fabric, jewelry and wood in addition to colored glue sticks.  To sum it up, I personally recommend the standard size dual temp glue gun that takes round sticks - however, this is just my opinion.

Xyron machinexyron cartridgeXyron Machine  Xyron Machine

The machine we use is the Model 900, which I like because it can be used on a full size sheet of paper.  They do sell smaller, less expensive models.  Our Xyron machine has various cartridges which pop out easily so you can choose what you need your machine to do.  We have three different cartridges.  One cartridge laminates, one turns your picture (or what have you) into a magnet which is laminated on the front and the third creates stickers.  All you do is put the appropriate cartridge into the machine, insert your picture, drawingetc. into the machine and crank the handle - no heat or electricity required.  When your item comes out, there is a handy removable cutter built into the machine.  When making our Easter Pot, I put asheet of craft foam through the machine to make it a sticker then used my Sizzix machine to cut out the desired shapes needed for the project.

Decorative Edge scissorsDecorative Edge Scissors 

Decorative edge scissors are a must for any scrap booker or paper crafter.  The scissors can be purchased separately or in a set.  When you cut with these scissors, instead of a straight edge, you get a fancy design.  They are available in many different designs.

caft knife - craft toolsCraft Knife
 A craft knife comes in very handy when you have cork, cardboard or foam core board to cut.  Remember, craft knives should not be used by children due the the sharp blade.

Gadget Corner is intended to give you a general overview and introduction to some useful crafting tools. You should see the manufacturers instructions on the proper use of these products.


stitch ripper

Stitch Ripper 

This is another must have for any one who sews.  You guessed it - this one takes out (rips) unwanted stitches from fabrics.


Chop Stick or Pencil - This one sounds funny but is invaluable when sewing.  After you sew a project and turn it right side out, use the point of the pencil or chopstick to poke the corners and make them nice and sharp.

A sewing gauge is a helpful tool when sewing hems

Sewing Gauge

 One of the simplest tools I own but also one of the most often used.  The sewing gauge is a 6" ruler with 1/8" markings and an adjustable slide.  You set the slide to the measurement you need and now your hems etc. will all measure evenly.

pinking shears

Pinking Shears

Pinking shears are fabric scissors with a zigzag blade. When used to cut fabric, they help prevent the material from fraying.

Pasta machine - clay making tools
Pasta Machine - Clay Machine
 When working with clay, this machine will prove invaluable as it is used to condition the clay and roll it out into a smooth sheet .  Most machines have several different settings to achieve your desired thickness.