Invisible zippers, double top-stitching, and pleated ruffles

As mentioned, I spent the last 2 weeks almost non-stop sewing every minute I was home (with the exception of the weekend Koby came. Koby trumps sewing).  The final count on the projects is as follows.

  • four long full skirts in pretty fall colors
  • one jean skirt (for Michelle)
  • one greyed lavender twirly skirt
  • one incredibly awesome petticoat to wear with long skirts
  • a mp3 pocket I can wear like a necklace– I’ll photograph and post on that later.

The four skirts (the four on the outside in the above picture) are from a 6 gored pattern I drafted myself years ago. They are floor length and wide enough that I can do anything I want with no restriction of movement. And they are fun and flowy! Last fall, I saw cotton solids in colors I had been looking for for ages now. A deep Jasper orange, cranberry red, plum purple, and a soft jade green– I’m so pleased with them!

The learning curve on these (and the rest for that matter) was the use of invisible zippers, a first for me. The verdict is that, with an invisible zipper foot, they are easy, but odds are, I will have to use the seam ripper at least once per zipper because I WILL turn something or another the wrong way. Even with that annoyance, I much prefer them to normal zippers.

The shorter skirt in greyed lavender was part of that bunch of fabric, but I purchased the last of it, and there wasn’t enough for a long skirt. Instead, I based the pattern on a skirt I have. Apparently, I didn’t measure correctly, because it was too tight across the hips, but I managed to just drop the waistline and take it in a bit on top. It worked out, though the repairs look less neat on the inside. I’ll have to fix that pattern for next time.

The jean skirt I was quite intimidated by– my college roommate asked me to make it, and we’d purchased denim years ago and I never got around to sewing the skirts (they would have been in the 6 gored pattern). She wanted pockets and bought a commercial pattern. The double top-stitching worried me because I was dubious about how parallel I could make my stitching (I tend to sew a bit haphazardly). However, most of it went beautifully. Oddly enough, the back seam did not ask for double top-stitching, but it seemed weird without. Making that work with the zipper was hard though. Up close, I’m not 100% satisfied, but I’d hope no one is looking that closely at her backside! Now, I need to wash it (the fabric left my hands tinted blue) and then pray it fits when I see her next. (No photo for now– it didn’t turn out by itself, and it’s not my size. Hopefully Michelle will model it for me!)

The last (and awesomest!) skirt is the petticoat. Initially, I was just intending to do a long skirt like the other four in muslin. In the past, I had a cheap “peasant skirt” in white that I wore beneath my long skirts as I detest the texture and fit of slips. However, the zipper broke, and now, the fabric around the zipper is completely shredded from the safety pin I was using as a closure. I needed a replacement. Sometimes I layer different colors, but sometimes, I just need something neutral! Thus, I purchased unbleached muslin for a long skirt.

However, I am also working on repairing my Kirtle– the dress a 15th century working class woman in England would wear (yep, I am part of a Renaissance guild!)– and as the hem was shredded and I’ve seen documentation of a ruffled hem, I used left over fabric to even out and lengthen the hem, with knife pleats every inch or two. That inspired me to alter my petticoat plans to include a ruffle. Only this time, I went all out! Full on knife pleats every quarter inch. Given that the dress is already wide, pinning those took a looooong time (two movies later, I was nearly done.) Just for curiosity’s sake, I did some math. Just under 350 pleats (and thus, the same number of pins. I nearly ran out.) They are tacked down along about 10 feet. The bottom hem is… 13 yards. Yes, yards. That would be 39 feet.

The ruffle was extremely tedious to sew, but the end result was worth it. It looks amazing with my long skirts, adding some volume and billowing around my feet as I walk. Small children watch me in stores, and a 3-year-old told me she liked my dress– made my day!

Pictures of the skirts in action! Please excuse the fact that I am neither a model nor a photographer, and most definitely not both at once.

The plum-colored skirt, petticoat, and (if you look closely) the mp3 pocket thingy!

The Jasper orange skirt– I’m not sure how I like the complete outfit though. I may need to find some shirts to match better.

The cranberry red with a sweater I found at the thrift store. Please ignore the fact that I look like a dork. The others were even worse, haha.

The Jade green skirt with a shrug I found along with the above sweater. On a whim, I paired them and I think I now have a favorite outfit for warmer days!

The lavender with the skirt it was patterned from layered underneath– layering skirts is fun! There are pretty lacy bits on the camisole and cover, but you can’t see them in this view. And my socks are from sockdreams.com– awesome website! If anyone feels the need to throw away money, buy me pretty socks!

 


As much resolve as a Banana…

I think I can safely say I’ve broken most if not every single one of my New Years resolutions. Weekly blog posts? Clearly not. Frequent art? So far, no. No new books? Um, about that…. And only art supplies to finish projects. Well… I DID get the thread. But then there were the markers… and… such. Exercise? What’s that?

Oh well. Even at the time, I knew it was excessively hopeful. However, they will remain as challenges to myself. I might point out that I HAVE been doing well on one of those resolutions– the reading. Between what I was already reading, a few new books (oops…) and librivox (free audio books in the public domain!) I have read nearly 20 books since the start of the year. The majority have been either children’s books or classic literature (many have been both.)

All that reading is not why I haven’t been on the blog though. I’m nervous to post this so publicly, but I think it needs to be said. I struggle with depression, and currently, lack insurance with which to address it. Most days, I just muddle through, but sometimes it hits harder– when that happens, I can barely do the necessities of the day, either sleeping excessively or unable to sleep and thus exhausted. Inspiration and energy for art are long gone. As you can imagine, conversations are less than pleasant– and thus, so would be anything I posted here. Most of the time, these episodes are a few days, maybe a week. This time, it was a good two weeks of incapacitation, and over a month of just not quite being myself. It’s not that I’m a naturally peppy high-energy person, or that I expect to be, but there’s a difference between my normal quiet reserve and the way I was– it was like I’d been drained of all mental, physical, emotional, and creative energy.

I say this, not to elicit your sympathy, but because I feel my flakiness deserves an explanation. Also because, maybe in the future I can just say so when I’m unable to post happy cheery creative things. Maybe there will be less apprehension in admitting I’m just not up to it sometimes. It feels weak. But then, it feeds itself, because I see all these talented artists, many overcoming their own personal challenges and still posting several times a week with great projects. Maybe I can commit to being present weekly, even if just to say “I’m here, I’m trying to stay afloat, please be patient.” Maybe from that will grow more.


For A Sweet Young Lady

A beeswax collage done for the 18th birthday of an acquaintance. I’m more than pleased with the result.


A New Year in Technicolor

The majority of this page was actually completed on the first of December– the first day I was allowed to do art for a very long time. (I had been mired in Renaissance faire preparations, the faires themselves, NaNoWriMo brainstorming, and finally, a very unsuccessful NaNoWrimo.) I was supposed to spend time with friends, so I brought my journal and a small box of scraps. I managed to use to eye-jarring red page I’ve been rather less than enamored with, and I enjoyed myself, even if I didn’t really have a theme in mind. (And then… the rest of December hit full force, rife with cleaning and dog sitting and car complications).

I decided the bright colors, though not typically me, were a good fit for my hopes in this upcoming year. I may take a sharpie to it and add a title and a year, and I most certainly plan to attempt a better photo *grumble grumble* but otherwise, I think I’m satisfied.

Challenge: Somewhere in this page is the strangest bit of something I’ve ever included in my artwork. See if you can spot it, and why it’s so odd.

 


Frilly Flowers

I made these flowers ages ago as can be seen by the sunshine in the photos. Since I was woefully absent, I never posted them. Also, I have yet to sew the majority together. I saw this project on another blog (link to come– be patient while I dig through my favorites in the next few days).

I made the first one into a pin.

I actually made a whole bunch (I just need to do the beading and attach them to shirt pins, hair clips, hair pins, etc.)

Look how tiny this one is!


The Prodigal Blogger

The word “prodigal” is easily misused. We’ve so often heard the parable of “The Prodigal Son” that we have come to think it means returning after a long and possibly ill-planned absence when in fact, it has nothing to do with absence. It is about lavish and wasteful spending. (True story. Read the definition, and reread the parable. You’ll come to see it in a new light if you’ve never understood the meaning previously. Not that the actual text uses the word prodigal, but we attach it so often, it’s almost become canon. Anyhow…)

I figure I’m going to twist words just a little more in applying it to myself. Yes, I am in fact returning, so in that sense, I am using the common non-definition. But also, I am currently overflowing with hopefulness. It’s a good way to start the new year, no? Very shortly, I’m going to be quite prodigal in my resolutions– a tradition I’ve always considered rather silly, but one that just feels right in my current mood. But first, a bit of back-story.

The last few weeks have been a bit rough– not necessarily dismal, but just stressful. On one hand, there’s the typical holiday crunch. On the other, I was pet sitting and thus driving between work, home, and the other house every 4 to 5 hours, living in two places at once. On top of that, I was experiencing more car trouble, borrowing my boyfriend’s car (which thankfully he’d left here while out-of-town), and then finally giving up entirely and purchasing a new car– so then there was the stress of car switching, as well as finances. And the end of the week culminated with plans changing umpteen times and not enough sleep. I was truly ready to skip celebrating and fall asleep early on New Years, which is saying something because I’m NEVER asleep before midnight. However, I’d promised to go to a friend’s party, so off I went.

I knew a few people, and of course, I was my usual wallflower self — which I really do enjoy, I might add. I feel I make a rather pretty wallflower. Or… something. But watching our small crowd dancing like fools and enjoying themselves, chatting with new and old friends when they were too tired to dance, helping with cooking, listening to the babble and chatter– it was an aura of infectious exuberance. By the end of the night, I’d even been dragged into dancing a little, albeit after things had calmed some.

We spent the first day of the year in such a comfortable fellowship, enjoying a late breakfast and chatting with slug-a-beds ensconced in blankets, and walking to the park where we all sprawled in a circle in the grass laughing and listening to children laugh. At the end we even hopped a low fence and picked our way from rock to rock in a verdant gully of watercress and mud (in which I nearly lost my shoe when I chose a particularly deceiving bit of ground which swallowed my foot and ankle.) We laughed and explored and I was glorious with my girly ballet flats mud plastered and sprouting crushed bits of green.

In our last hour before leaving, we contemplated the approaching year. At first, I didn’t think much of it, but there really is a lot to come. I think it is a year of changes. For one thing, I have just purchased a car. That’s a major financial decision, which is going to change many things. But with that added stress, I will also have added security and even a few luxuries. Also, Koby is graduating in April, and his choices and career paths will affect mine. It’s possible I could move out and get a full-time job. And maybe, now that he’s so close to graduation, there is more to hope for. Maybe. It could be a big year.

And thus, with so much exuberance (I couldn’t help but be caught up in it) and so many hopes, I feel I can afford to be a bit prodigal in my resolutions. Even if in the back of my head, I’m hearing Lumiere suggesting “Promises you don’t intend to keep,” I am shushing that voice. At this moment, I have every intention of fulfilling them. The rational part of my brain can occupy itself with finances while I take a moment to scrawl a few bold promises.

  1. One blog post a week (Wednesdays perhaps?) even if some of them are about past artistic activities I never managed to chronicle. I intend to make use of the scheduled publishing feature and time travel a bit.
  2. More regular art– whether mixed media, jewelry, sewing, or writing. I need something to post about, don’t I? The challenge is this is I hope to settle on a weekly quota of time or else finished pieces. The specifics still require thought.
  3. Related to that is that I want to limit my spending on art materials by only using materials I already have. I have a few exceptions– refilling or replenishing something exhaustible (glue?), procuring small item needed for a particular project (thread?), and indulging in the 7 Gypsies’ Binderie Punch I’ve been waiting to come back into stock so I can finish a certain project. But in general, no new supplies! I have enough projects waiting to be finished, or worse, started.
  4. A corollary of the above– watch my spending in general. I have more financial responsibilities to think of, and I should have been saving more all along anyhow. Less eating out, less art supplies, more use of the library.
  5. Exercise on the treadmill or Wii fit at least 2 hours a week. It might be a trick of the eye, but I’m feeling a bit curvier in the wrong places. Someday those wrong places need to go in a fancy white dress. I’d rather they look photo-worthy when that time comes.
  6. Maintain better contact with people. This means gathering addresses, writing letters, making phone calls, smoke signals and what-have-you.
  7. Keep a written journal. While I am not going to hold myself to daily writings, I’m hoping I can train myself to write in one most days. It would likely jumpstart my creativity, and if nothing else, provide fodder for art journal pages.
  8. Read more books from my ever-growing list of to-read and to-read-again. A few include the rest of the Wheel of Time series, a whole slew of other fantasy, Jane Eyre, Northanger Abbey, Little Women, Anne of Green Gables, Lord of the Rings, and a host of old favorites I’m itching to reread.
  9. Find a third job for now (Starbucks maybe?) and look into a full-time job.

Overly ambitious much? Just a smidge. But as I said, I was feeling prodigal.


Naked Poetry Book

Yet another swap on swap-bot, but this time within a group. It was recommended I’d encounter far fewer flakers within the group swaps, so I’m trying it out. I was afraid I was going to be moving soon, so I avoided swaps, but this one I couldn’t resist! The idea was to put at least four poems in a booklet, decorate the cover, and send it through the mail with no envelope– thus the “naked” part. As usual, I went overboard.

I decided to make the booklet by hand (trying coptic binding for the first time) and using the techniques from Samantha Kira’s Wish Journal workshop to make the pages. THEN I decided to glue the poems in line by line. AND fill the booklet. The last 24 hours before mailing had a whole lot more stress than sleep, as you might imagine. The cover was a bit dull, but I feel the inside makes up for it. It’s far from perfect — crooked lines and loose binding, glue smudges and fonts I forgot to change after copying and pasting into a document for printing– but I really love the poetry I chose, including  poems by Pablo Neruda, Nikki Giovanni, Mark Jarman, Eve Merriam, and others. Click the thumbnails if you’d like to read them.


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