Category Archives: Artistic Pursuits

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!

 


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!


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.


Tissue Paper Dilemma

As the title says, I have a dilemma! I love using tissue paper in my collage because it layers beautifully, both with beeswax and with glue. In the last year, I’ve been both buying interesting looking tissue paper, as well as rescuing what would otherwise go in the garbage after parties. I now limit myself to colors and patterns I don’t already have (or have very little of) but either way, it’s become an organizational problem. Originally, I had it in one of the plastic drawers in one of those Rubbermaid drawer towers. However, it quickly got so full I couldn’t even open and close it properly. Then about 4 months ago, I found an old accordion file from school, and decided that was the solution. I organized it by color, and it’s been great for finding just what I need. BUT even so, I have several similar shades in each little divided section, and then in my sections for patterns, it’s getting downright crowded! And– this is the part that is the most troubling– it’s a huge effort to wrestle it closed, and even closed, it’s so fat it barely fits in my desk drawer.

Take a gander at my current set up:

This is what it looks like “closed”– if you can call it that. Notice how it’s bulging, and that poor elastic strap is going to snap. Either I need a much stronger strap (like the belt around the Monster Book of Monsters in Harry Potter, perhaps?) or else I need a different solution.

This is what it looks like when open. I am not holding it at all. It quite literally pops open to that wide.

So, I’m asking you, lovely readers. What should I do? Here are my needs:

  • organization by color
  • space efficient (preferably able to fit in said drawer as I have NO floor space left, very little desk space, and would need to do some serious rearranging to get shelf space)
  • Easy to get in and out
  • Friendly to wrinkled and torn paper (the set-ups with the dowels are lovely, but intended for brand new, full size sheets)

Postdated: Fish Garland

Another April craft, also for a swap-bot swap. For this, the instructions were to make a garland 2 feet or longer with decorated paper fish. Mine did not turn out as I first envisioned at all (in part due to the size of my fish, in part because my partner liked pink, which is unfamiliar territory for me) but I still like it. What I envisioned was using my sewing machine to do the outlines, but after I did the drawings, I realized there was NO way I could pull off that level of detail– at least not in the time I had left to complete the project. Instead, I used a micron pen to sketch and crosshatch the details. I apologize for the quality of the photos– I took them at night before packaging the garland to send.