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Safety Razors are for Girls, Too!

Saturday, November 15, 2014
This isn't my normal kind of post but I have to tell everyone what they're missing out on!  Plus, I'm constantly reminded of how things in our grandparents days were made better and to last.  Shaving is no exception!

I lost my cartridge razor so I went online to search
 "deals on razors" and came across a sale on for a double-edged safety razor.  I read about them a few years before and debated whether to get my husband one for a gift but this time I looked into if girls were using them.  I became excited after reading about them, especially how cheap the blades were!  I did hours and hours of research, reading reviews, looking at different companies, looking at YouTube videos, etc. and knew I was going to get one for ME!  There are videos of women on YouTube showing how they shave their legs with a safety razor and that gave me confidence.  After all, shaving isn't just for men!

I'll let you do your own research on double-edged safety razors/wet-shaving (or whatever you want to call it), but I found a good article on that pretty much sums up everything you need to know.  Here's just a little bit of that article:

"{...proper shaving has become a lost art. Shaving is one of those glorious male [female] traditions that used to be passed down from father [mother] to son [daughter], but somewhere along the line, when shaving became more about cheap, disposable razors than a nice, precision-made metal tool in your hand, it became a brainless routine to rush through in the morning without even thinking about it. A dull disposable razor dragged across a layer of foam or gel on your cheeks [legs and/or armpits] is a step backward from the past, not an improvement. Now that men [women] of all ages are paying more attention to their appearance, it’s no wonder that the hottest trend right now in male [female] grooming is a return to the traditional wet shave – and millions of men [women] have been shocked to discover that the “old fashioned” method of shaving they thought went out with the Hula Hoop is actually the best quality shave you can get.

CAUTION: if you’ve been shaving with a disposable razor or one of the modern multi-blade cartridge systems like the Mach3, be aware that switching to a single-blade DE (double-edge) will require that you un-learn all the bad habits that modern razors are designed to let sleepy, lazy guys get away with. Mainly, that means slower, more careful strokes, and guiding the razor’s head over your skin WITHOUT PRESSING DOWN.}"

I first looked for shaving kits on Amazon and eBay.  I wasn't impressed with what you got for the price.  I didn't want a brush/razor stand where the finish would peel off, or a teeny-tiny chrome soap bowl, or a fancy-pants $50+ razor or a cheap badger brush.  For a razor, brush, bowl & stand the cheapest set was around $70 and that didn't include any soap or blades.  The sets that looked appealing to me (which still didn't include soaps/blades) were $150+.  I decided I was going to buy everything separate to make sure I was getting what I wanted, that it had good reviews and was a good price.

I wanted to share with you what I ended up buying and give you a few different options incase you're like me and want quality without spending too much.

What I ended up getting:

 There are SO many razors out there!  New vs. old, short vs. long handle, 3-piece vs. butterfly, $5 vs. $99+ and the list goes on!  I spent most of my time trying to find the perfect razor for me but I really had NO clue what I wanted or what features I'd prefer.

I ended up going with a vintage 1965 Gillette "starburst" razor off eBay (top left) and a new Utopia brand from Amazon (bottom right).

I got the vintage Gillette because I saw a lot of them and they seemed popular amongst the ladies, they look feminine and you can get them for under $15... I paid $20 including shipping and mine looks practically new.

I got the Utopia because it was $14.99 shipped, it was gold which I LOVED and it has awesome reviews!  People loved how heavy-weight it is and well made.  The only complaint was that the blade doesn't sit perfectly parallel to the top of the razor unless you pay a lot of attention when putting it in before you tighten (not a deal-breaker for me).

 Bottom view.  The Utopia is almost 2 times heavier than the Gillette which is kind of nice because you can let the razor do the work for you.

The vintage Gillette is a butterfly open-type and is really easy to load/unload a blade by simply turning the 'knot' at the end of the handle.  The new Utopia is a 3-piece and slightly more awkward to change the blade, especially because of the blade alignment issue.. but it really does take just 30 seconds longer to change the blade (about every 1-2 weeks).

There's so many types of brushes you can buy!  Badger, boar, synthetic... then there's what size and quality!  I read most everywhere that Badger hair is the best.  I ordered mine from aceshaving on eBay and got a small brush with mixed badger hair for $6.99 and a stand for $1.99 and a larger silvertip badger brush with a 25mm knot for $29 - plus about $10 shipping for all from China.  The silvertip is nicer than the mixed badger hair and I like the larger size for my legs.  I can't imagine someone using the cheaper-mixed badger hair on their face.. it's so coarse!

Before I spent money on a brush I wanted to know if it was REALLY necessary or if it was just part of the tradition.  Turns out the brush exfoliates your skin and removes dry skin so you get a closer shave, pulls your hair up so it's not laying down and creates a nice lather.

There are countless options for soaps & gels!  I ended up getting a well-known brand, Proraso, that had good reviews and was under $10 shipped on Amazon.  I also got the Arko shaving soap stick for under $3 shipped on Amazon.  Then there's you're typical shaving gel you can buy anywhere.  The Proraso has the best lather of all of these.  I first lather it in the container it comes in with my brush then do the bowl-lather method which gets it a lot fluffier and it will go further.  The Arko stick you can rub right onto your wet skin then use the brush to go over it a bunch of times to create your lather.  The gel can be applied right to the center of your wet brush and you can use your hand to do the hand-lather technique, however, I couldn't get much of a lather with the gel.  People say the Proraso and Arko will last easily  up to 6 months even with frequent use (we shall see)!

I got Proraso pre-shave because it was well-known and also had good reviews.  It cost about $11 on Amazon.  A pre-shave is recommended because it adds an extra layer of protection between the blade and your skin and helps the razor glide more easily.  I'm actually not too impressed with this pre-shave and will make my own when I run out (easy recipes online).

I read that people said different blades are better for different hair/skin types.  People with coarse hair will like a different blade than someone who has fine hair.  Someone who has sensitive skin will prefer something different than someone with tough skin.  The blades are machined with different angles of sharpness and made with different metals.  I got a sample pack to find my blade of choice before I order a pack of 100 blades.  This sample pack of 30 blades was on Amazon for around $15 but you can buy 100 of the same blade for around $13!

Putting it together:

Here's a few "kits" you could put together, depending on how much you want to spend.  I believe all these products are just as good (if not better) as the kits you'd spend $70-$150 on.  You might have to wait up to 2 weeks for everything to be shipped (like the brushes from China). 

Utopia safety razor (comes with 10 blades) $15
Total =$35 with shipping

With $35 you can test out wet shaving and see if you like it!  If you want to go even cheaper you could just buy the razor and use regular shaving creme from the can (but you won't get as good of results).

Gillette "starburst" razor $20 (about)
Large badger brush $35
Proraso soap $10
Proraso pre-shave $11
Bowl (thrift store find) $1
Total =$77 with shipping

 With $77 (+cost of blades of choice) you can have everything you need to have a very nice shave with very nice products.  A brush/razor stand is something you could add later if you feel it's necessary for another $20.

What is my opinion of this style of shaving you might ask?

It takes a bit longer to shave and there's a few more products to juggle, BUT my legs don't have red spots around every hair follicle anymore (something I've been annoyed with as long as I can remember and thought it was normal!) AND it will be cheaper in the long run! more spending $1-$2 per cartridge blade (DE blades go for about 10 to 20 cents each)!

I totally recommend wet shaving... even for busy moms like me!

Pegboard Tool Storage Cabinet Project

Tuesday, November 11, 2014
I had tools scattered around the house and it was driving me crazy!  I looked online for peg storage systems and came upon this downloadable building plan for a tool cabinet system (shop-in-a-box) on Amazon.
I love that it has 4 doors which have pegboards on both side so you can really maximize it's usefulness.  My all-time favorite feature of this cabinet are the shelves in the back and the bins for small things.

I compared lumber at Home Depot, Lowe's and our local lumber yard, Fingerlie and I decided to get most of my wood at Fingerlie because it was much better quality.  Harbor Freight had the best price for the peg hooks (you'll need more than you think)!

I cut all the pieces in my woodshop class (I was rushing and it still took 4 hours)...
...then I brought it home and made a HUGE mess of my living room!

(sample page from instructions)

 It took me about 5 hours to get everything assembled, sanded and hinges attached!

 I didn't want to drill into the cement wall to attach the mounting board, so I screwed a wide board down from the rafters in the ceiling against the wall to attach it there.

 The worst part was figuring out where to put all my crazy tools!  One thing I should note is that the inside doors feel a bit awkward to get behind because they don't open as much as you'd expect.

The small shelves are adjustable and the little bins fit perfectly inside.  The hardboard I used wasn't quite the specified 1/4" so I doubled it up.  I did 5 bins and there's enough room for 2 more!

 I bought some magnetic strips to stick little odds and ends to (you'll just want to make sure both sides of pegboard in the door match up enough to stick a few bolts through).

 The whole cabinet only sticks off the wall about 12-1/2" which is amazing considering all it can hold!  IMPORTANT: I overlooked the overall space I would need for this cabinet because you need to consider the space the large doors will need to open all the way which is SIXTY-INCHES!!  I originally planned to hang this cabinet at the top of our basement stairs to keep the tools super handy, however, there just wasn't enough room.

Check out the other tool system I made, here.

Pattern Review - Ainsley Baby Boot 670

Saturday, November 8, 2014
I saw this pattern on and couldn't get over how adorable these strappy boots are.  I bought the pattern right away for under $4 and got to work.

(my version - size 1)

SKILL LEVEL:  A beginner can totally make these with a little patience.

THINGS TO KNOW: I followed the seam allowance of 1/4" but the outer shell and lining pieces didn't match up very well on the very top edge when I went to sew them together in the last step... you'll probably want to make your seam allowance that attaches the buckles to the outer shell a little wider so it will be the same size as the lining.  The only thing I don't like about this pattern is how the sole is super wide.  I did the smallest size (size 1) and the front of the boot looks like a duck-bill because it's so wide... newborns have really narrow feet and I will definitely change it to be much more narrow if I make these again.

TIPS: The straps are a little tedious to make with all the ironing and top-stitching... take your time on these since they're the first thing people will see!  I would use a thicker fabric for the sole (like a suede or leather) because they feel/look flimsy.  I decided to just do the same fabric as the whole boot for my first pair because it was for a newborn and I wasn't worrying about the sole getting worn-out from being walked-in :)

WHAT I DID DIFFERENTLY:  The only thing I did differently was how I sewed the velcro onto the straps (see last picture).  I ironed them just like the instructions said to but I sewed the velcro pieces on the straps as I was sewing the top-stitching around the edges.  This not only cuts down on time and frustration of going around all 4 edges, but it looks nicer in my opinion.  Although only 2 sides are sewn, it will be more durable in the long-run because you don't have backstitching all over the place from sewing them on individually (the threads usually come undone over time from getting pulled on with the velcro).

All-in-all I'm pretty happy with these little boots.  If they were more narrow on the sole and I the sole was thicker I'd be thrilled.  I can't wait to find a baby to try them on!

Comparing Home Sewing Machine Vs. Industrial Sewing Machine

Tuesday, October 21, 2014
I thought I'd compare my industrial machine to a typical home sewing machine so you can see the difference between them (although you really have to sit in front of one to really "get it").

So here you go... my Pfaff 1472 next to my industrial Durkopp Adler.  This picture just doesn't do the size difference justice!

The motors... this alone says enough!  There's a typical Kenmore motor next to an industrial clutch motor.

Here we have the belts.  These belts drive the machine by turning the hand wheel from the motor pulley.  Pictured is a belt from a Singer 66-16 and the industrial belt.

 Here is a regular 70/10 sewing needle next to a typical industrial needle.

This picture demonstrates the clearance under the presser foot of my Pfaff 1472 (left) next to my Adler (right).  The Adler has 2 quarters extra clearance (almost 3)! ...and that's a big deal!

Bobbins... WOAH!  Singer 201-2 next to the Adler.

Thread.  Yeah... that's a big difference!

About a year ago I had NO clue about industrial sewing machines.  Whenever I came across one for sale I didn't think twice about it - it wasn't for me.  However, upon further thinking and investigation (reading forums and watching YouTube videos) I discovered that I NEEDED one... and quick!  I was pretty much obsessed about finding the perfect one to help me with sewing my heavier/thicker projects and I also craved the professional/durable touch it would give.

Hopefully this helps you see the difference - you really need the right machine for the job.  If you are using a regular home machine for thicker projects you might want to consider buying a used, industrial machine to make your life easier (and save the motor on your small machine).

Durkopp Adler Industrial Sewing Machine

My quest for the perfect industrial sewing machine ended when I found an Adler 867 on Craigslist.  It is classified as a triple compound walking foot machine meant for Upholstery.  Triple compound means it has a regular presser foot and a walking foot, PLUS the needle & feed dog move forward/backwards together while stitching - it is the best way to ensure your stitches are even and uniform for thick projects. The machine is pretty fancy too with because it is self-lubricating - you fill up a "tank" with machine oil and it is distributed to different areas of the machine using a wick system making it pretty much maintenance free (except for routine cleaning).

I was very surprised the first time I saw it - it was HUGE!!!  My heart stuttered a little as I sat down to test it out - I had no idea what I had been missing out on!

The machine was dirty and there were cobwebs and dog hair all over but most people don't baby their machines like I do.  The guy used it to sew with waterproof thread that had a wax coating and it left a white goo everywhere.

Another thing that stood out to me was the clutch motor.  It was really noisy and very difficult to sew slowly.  I knew right away I'd be buying a servo motor.

He also mentioned that he had replaced the main belt from the machine to the motor with an automobile belt. It worked, BUT I could hear that it was rubbing on something inside which I'd also need to look into.

Getting the machine into my van and back home is a story in and of itself (I'll spare you)... let's just say it was VERY difficult and scary!

Once home I got to work.  The first step was to take the machine out so I could work on the table (notice how dirty the legs are). The head of the machine is soooo heavy you wouldn't believe!  I took the table top off and got all the metal leg pieces separated and spray painted them to look brand new.

I was sure the bottom of the legs would scratch my floor if I ever wanted to move the machine... I screwed some plywood "skies" to each leg. I also glued on a new cork pad on the pedal since I scrapped the old one off to paint (and it was nasty, of course).

I drove down to Toledo Industrial Sewing Machine shop and purchased a servo motor (and big cones of thread).  It took a while to make sure it was bolted onto the table in the correct position (and later I had to add a block of wood underneath once the machine head was on so the belt would be in exactly the right position)... all in all it was pretty easy to figure out.

I took off the nasty rubber bumper that went all around the edge of the table because it was peeling off (you can see it in the first few pictures). I like the look of the wood anyways.  I did have to fill in a lot of crevices with wood filler and sand it down. I also cleaned up the machine well with rubbing alcohol by taking all the pieces off that I could so I could get in between as many crevices as possible (it was REALLY dirty)!

Next was tackling the belt problem and solving the rubbing noise.  Upon inspection the belt was so wide that it wasn't riding down into the groove around the hand wheel far enough...

...and was rubbing on the plastic cover that went over it.

I got a new belt (left) and you can see how much narrower it is.  It fit perfectly!

I also bought some bobbins...

...and various presser feet from Kwokhing. They don't have many parts for my particular model but I got away with buying feet from other models and they fit.  I also got some binders customized and some parts for the binder arm (it didn't really end up fitting well in the end after many months of waiting but I knew it was a risk anyways). I contacted Adler to see how much a binder arm would be and they said $1,200 and that didn't even include the price of the individual binders or feed dog/presser foot!  I got all those from Kwokhing for around $200.  They have awesome prices and high quality products (though, I wasn't impressed with the LED lights I bought).

To finish everything off I found manuals and instruction books online and bound them all into one book.

Ready to work hard!

My first project was sewing these little leather baby moccasins!

Of course the real reason I bought the machine was to make these mommy purses.  It was such a joy to sew on and makes the finished product nicer and more durable with the thicker thread.

Favorite Product of the Week - Surebonder Glue Gun

Friday, October 17, 2014
If you are a crafter and haven't used the fine-tipped glue gun by SUREBONDER for detailed gluing you don't know what you're missing!

From my experience the full-sized glue guns (and even mini guns) are impossible to use for delicate projects - it usually ends up looking like a mess.  I've burned myself way too many times because of all the excess glue and was beyond excited when I came across the SUREBONDER fine-tip gun at Joann's 3 years ago - I snatched up a few for sure!

I used to have a love/hate relationship with these guns because I LOVED the fine-tip but I hated worrying about problems.  Over the years I've experienced issues with their guns having faulty designs (right out of the package).  I've kept the glue guns as back-ups and actually bought their newest design a few weeks ago which doesn't have any of the previous faults.  I contacted the company just last week about the 3 guns I've purchased which were bad over the years and they shipped me 3 new ones free of charge - no questions asked!

I love companies that stand behind their products!  So that's why this is my favorite tool of the week because now I don't have anymore worries and I feel like the company took care of the problem.

(Here's a picture of the 3 different models I've owned)
The 1st gun is about 2-1/2 years old and the metal tip always fell out when gluing, the 2nd is about 1 year old and right out of the package the metal ring around the tip fell off and the trigger would stick on the inside and you'd have to squeeze really hard and the 3rd is their newest model which I haven't had any problems with.


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