Booked Solid

I seem to have completely forgotten to blog about a rather big project Paul and I finished a while ago – the Japan photo album:

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Back in January I decided getting through the backlog of albums was a challenge for this year. This album was the one on which we worked out how we were going to make them. I’d been thinking of Japanese stab stitch binding, but in the end the price of getting pages printed was higher than having an album made and eliminates the time and work in binding them.

It took us weeks and quite a bit of frustration to get this album done, and I have a few busy months ahead, so we’ve not started tacking another album yet. But hopefully we’ll get stuck into choosing and tweaking photos for the Europe one soon.

The Voodoo That You Do

A while ago I needed a dress for a party with an early 20th century theme, and I picked up a costume from a recycled clothing store that has, unfortunately, closed now. Last weekend I had a New Orleans-voodoo-jazz themed party to go to, so I dug out the dress. The skirt of it was of a rather shabby looking gold satin, and if I’d had the time I’d have replaced it or added an overskirt of some kind.

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(I didn’t get a ‘before’ photo, so here’s a shot of the original skirt material.)

I cut off the skirt, which I used as a pattern to cut some lace I got from Lincraft. Then I had to sew lace to slippery satin to stretch velour. Hmm. To simplify that, I used the overlocking stitch on my new machine to attach lace to satin. Then I sewed the two to the velour, stretching as I went.

The result was better than I expected:

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And paired up with a cloche, fake fur shrug, long black gloves, pearls and fishnets, I had the look right without it being too costumey.

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I also managed clever updo trick with my hair that I found on Pinterest. Unfortunately, I didn’t remember to get Paul to take a photo, so you’ll have to trust me that it was good.

Sarongs

I haven’t worn a sarong in years. Used to be I’d wear them all the time in summer, so I have a quite a few. Recently I did a quick wardrobe cull and decided it was time to do something new with them.

Four are ‘pareo’ bought in Raratonga during a holiday in my early 20s. Sentimentality reigns here. Good memories.

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I’ve put the mermaid one into my beach bag to continue using as a sarong. The fabric of all these is quite see-through, so if I made skirts they’d would have to be lined and a shirt would have to go over a top. But since they’re about the same weight as the cotton shawls I’ve got, I’m going to wear them as as shawls instead.

This sarong I bought for a trip to the Whitsunday Islands, though I don’t recall where. I bought two in different colour combinations, one to be a gift for my ex’s mother and one to keep, and let her choose which she preferred.

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The fabric is a little thicker, so this might work as a shirt. Or a lined skirt. I’m more in favour of bright, complicated fabrics for skirts than shirts, though.

I don’t remember where I picked up the dolphin sarong, but while I’m not into pink or dolphins it’s a really generous length which is good for warding off the sun at the beach.

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It’s going in the beach bag to be used as a sarong, too.

One of these dark blue ones came from an op shop, but I’m not sure about the other. I bought them intending to make a caftan dress.

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They’re not so well matched as I hoped, however, so I’m thinking separates. A tunic top, perhaps. Maybe a skirt.

Jenome Well

I have a new sewing machine! Except it’s eight years old.

You see, the day before craft day, after I’d brought down all my sewing bits and pieces to the lounge ready for the next day, I decided to do a few of the quicker refashions. I got out my old sewing machine:

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But when I went to sew a zigzag I discovered it was stuck on a fancy stitch. I had already lost the use of the buttonhole stitches when I had it serviced a few years ago, and this was a problem with the same lever. If the service man couldn’t fix that, I suspected he wouldn’t be able to deal with this either. I bought my faithful of Jenome My Style in the early 90s but it was familiar and while it worked I’d seen no reason to get a new machine. Now I figured it was time to replace it.

When I told my Mum, Dad remembered that she’d bought a new machine back in 2005 but didn’t like it and went back to using her old one. Dad, being a bit of a hoarder, stowed it away. He suggested I see if I liked it. So Paul and I popped over and picked it up:

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When I got home I tackled the first refashion. And I love it! It has a needle threader and every time you finish sewing it puts the needle in the upright position. The most common stitches are one button press away.

It, too, is a Jenome. Most of my friends have Jenomes. Good little machines.

Crafty Day Refashioning

Last Sunday I hosted another Craft Day. Lots of my crafty friends came over to sew, crochet, spin, knit, papercraft, chat and eat cake.

I stuck to my determination to get some of the refashioning done I lined up at the beginning of the year, plus a few new pieces I’d added to the list. In fact, I started the day before, on this:

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This red shirt is a refashion of a man’s shirt from a few years back. I’d worn it, but I found it a bit masculine and uniformish. The solution, I hoped, was a more feminine sleeve. So I cut off the cuff and made it snugger:

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Then shortened the sleeve and gathered the fabric when attaching the smaller cuff:

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A bit girlier? Yes. Girly enough? We’ll see. I like to add some embroidery, too.

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Then there was this top I found at an op shop for a few dollars. It just needed taking in under the arms and at the darts:

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On Crafty Day my first refashion was this dress:

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Which was too small, so I turned it into a skirt, doing the hand sewing that night while watching tv:

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The next refash was this jacket:

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Putting it on the dress form, I pinched in a big long dart from within the pocket on the front, over the shoulder, down the back to the hem, then sewed it with the ‘wrong’ sides together. I also took it in at the sides and arms, right sides together this time.

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It’s still a bulky jacket, but more fitted and less boxy than before.

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My confidence was high, so I tackled a refashion I’ve lost courage with several times before – this dress:

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I measured a point just above the hips and got cutting. But by then my crafty friends were heading home, so I didn’t get any sewing done. I finished it off over the next few days, doing a little bit of pinning and a little bit of sewing each time until I had this top:

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And a skirt, which can be worn with the waistband scrunched up:

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Folded over:

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Or wide and flat:

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But these weren’t the only refashions crossed off the list. I also had planned two men’s shirt conversions, but Paul has lost enough weight on the Fast Diet that he fits into them again.

Portrait Progress: Rachael & Jason

Last year I painted two portraits. I remember thinking that I might get one done per month, apart from the month I went overseas and December. Well, that proved a little optimistic. Still, I would like to get more than two done a year.

This year I’m aiming to have two going at the same time and get four done in a year. So I’m staying at art classes for the full day, not just the morning. I rarely managed to get any writing done on the afternoon of a painting day last year, so I may as well keep painting. But in case I get sick of working on one portrait all day, I have another on hand to switch to.

At our New Year party I asked around and found a willing victim: Rachael. I told her to think about where she’d like to be in her portrait. A few days later I tweeted about having a bath full of balloons leftover from the party, and she tweeted back that this would be an awesome setting. So we had a photo shoot:

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After considering a close up of her face surrounded by balloons, or a painting that showed she was in a bath full of balloons, I went for the latter. The smaller the head is the harder it is to get detail in, so I chose a large canvas. After sketching in the details in red I decided to paint the sides and bath silver then, like in Cat’s portrait, leave some of this underpainting showing. Here’s an early shot:

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The next week I worked on balloons:

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Having done two portraits of women and starting another, I wanted a male subject for the second one. Jason, a horror writer friend, was up for it. He chose the Polly Cocktail Lounge in Fitzroy, with its furnishing in rich colours and boudoir-like atmosphere.

I chose a smaller canvas than I did for Rachael’s portrait and underpainted with gold and green (the green is looking rather blue here):

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Then I got stuck into the clothing. I so love painting clothing:

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It would be great if I had these finished by the middle of the year. Which means I should start thinking about arranging photos shoots for two new subjects for the second half. I have one willing male subject from NSW that I have to arrange a photo shoot with, and a female one who put her hand up last time I asked around, so I’ll have to see if I can make those happen.

Frog Cabin

The log cabin scarf is done and I’m really happy with it. As I said in a previous post, the fabric drapes very well for something woven with bulky yarn.

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Weaving thick and thin is interesting and I’d like to try it with other patterns. I wasn’t excited by the colour combo of blue and white, worried they were too contrasty, but they combined much better than I expected.

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I finished it on Sunday, and also cut a new warp for the table loom:

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At the Guild weaving group meeting on Saturday there was a talk about long warps. Inspired by that, I decided to try weaving two double weave baby blankets with one warp, using the three leftover shades of Bendy Cotton 8ply in my stash then black weft on the first blanket and white for the second. They should look quite different to each other.

Mystery Box Challenge – The Autumn Fairy

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I’ve been working on the Mystery Box Challenge project since I picked up the box in mid-January. As soon as I opened the box and inspected the contents…

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… they seemed to suggest to me a kind of rustic fairy doll – or rather, a figurine, since this wouldn’t survive being played with – with feathers for wings and red hair.

The challenge was to use at least 50% of the contents of the box. I thought I could use everything – including the box.

I’ve been working on it nearly every week. It has involved a lot of weaving shapes by sticking pins in foam core, winding yarn between them for warp then sewing in the weft – like with the sleeve here:

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The shawl was my first try at frame weaving. Rather nifty process, actually:

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The copper wire and beads became a crown. The wire was VERY fiddly to weave. I used string heddles:

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The playing card became a book, with the entry form as pages and the silver thread as binding:

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Everything I didn’t use became stuffing, mixed with some felting fleece:

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The box became the chair:

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The tubes the yarn was wound onto were rolled up squares of paper, so I unwound an stuck them over the back of the box, covering the box handle, which I’d taped onto the back to give it rigidity.

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The upholstery was woven directly onto the chair, and the chair painted with acrylic paints:

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I managed to use up all the brown wool. The last item I made was a little mat. Boy, was I sick of weaving this way by the end!:

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The feathers became wings, attached with more copper wire. The smaller feather became a pen:

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The eyes and mouth were stitched out of some of the silk threads.

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However, the face is, well, not brilliant. The wool made for a very rustic fabric, which I think I got away with except in the case of the head. But these were the materials I had, and I was determined not to add anything obviously new – stuffing, tape and paint didn’t add significantly new objects to the figurine.

What is very obviously new is the bird cage I put her in to deter small people who might believe she is a doll to be played with:

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The cage is the only thing that doesn’t quite meet the requirements. There is a size restriction and the cage is a little bigger.

All in all… well, it was a lot of effort and I enjoyed maybe 60-70% of it. But I had to dedicate two afternoons of the weekend before last to finishing her and I was utterly sick of the project by the end. Dolls/figurines weren’t my thing before this and they still aren’t. Still, I was trying something new and I did use all the materials!

If I learned anything (apart from not getting sucked into mystery challenges) is was that frame weaving is something I might want to have a go at. Oh, and not to weave with copper wire.

Back to the Beginning

I had some big plans at the start of the year. Photo albums and refashioning lists were going to be tackled. So what happened?

1) I could only work on the albums on my computer, which is in the workroom, which is impossibly hot in summer.

Actually, we finally finished the Japan album and sent it off to an album printing company last weekend. Pics to come.

2) Refashioning Neon Safire is kicking my a**.

I knit a new waist in mistake rib, then added the yarn for the old waistband as plain knit thinking it would curl up a little. But it curls up a lot. Ignoring that, I knit the new neck band… twice because I picked up too many stitches the first time. When I put it on, I found that separating the front to make it a cardy had widened it around the middle, which was good except that the fronts now wouldn’t stay over my ‘assets’. But I ignored that, too, and started knitting new sections on the arms. Arms that are really too tight… WHAT AM I DOING THIS IS A DISASTER?!

I think it’s time to concede defeat, acknowledge that nothing is going to make it fit right, and frog the dratted thing.

3) Lack of sleep from the hot weather meant I couldn’t get my head around the more complicated sewing refashions. And it was too hot to try on stuff.

Fair enough, I suppose. But I did get some refashioning done…

4) … until I got distracted by weaving and that crazy Mystery Box Challenge.

Well, there’s a reason this blog is called Creative Fidget.

Okay, so I’m determined to get stuck into the refashioning pile again, especially as I’ve added more to it since the beginning of the year. There’s a Craft Day coming up, so I’ll be bringing out the sewing machine and dress form and tackling some refashions at that.

That is, unless I hear the siren call of the loom, or the embroidery hoop, or…

Thick & Thin

I’ve been wanting to try thick and thin weaving for a while now. It’s where you have both thick and think yarns in the warp and weft. Once before when I wove log cabin someone suggested I try it with thick and thin yarns, so I’m giving that a go.

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The blue yarn is from the frogged sleeves of the Sunrise Circle Jacket and the white is Bendigo Classic 3ply. Being a chunky yarn that’s felted a bit, weaving the blue with itself would have produced a thick, hard fabric perhaps only suitable for a rug or blanket. Except there wasn’t enough of it for that. Weaving it with a thin warp would have helped, but been a bit boring. This combination of yarn and weave structure seems to be resulting in a light enough fabric to work as a scarf.

If it does, I have a weaving option for bulky leftovers in my stash. Hmm…