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.

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…

I Weave You, I Weave You Not

I’ve been trying to decide what to put on the table loom next.

Olive Handspun Shawl
The handspun is the yarn from the frogged Handspun Wrap Vest. I’ve bought some fine, strong wool from a weaving supplies store to use as warp. But I have no ideas for a weave structure beyond simple tabby.

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Hunky Hank Shawl
The colourful yarn will be the warp and the black Bendigo Luxury the weft. I want to try an undulating twill.

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Metallic Border Shawls
I want to weave finer yarns, and when I matched up these metallic threads with Bendigo Classic cones I started to get excited about the possibilities. I’m thinking of a twill forming diamonds, which will show up most strongly in a stripe of the metallic yarn at either end of a shawl.

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Cotton Baby Blankets
I still have a lot of Bendigo Cotton 8ply in my stash, and I’d like to weave more baby blankets out of it. I’m wondering if I could do a long warp and weave two or three in one go.

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Cotton Tea Towels
A few years ago I decided to make tea towels like what I’d seen in Handwoven and ordered some yarn. When I realised how many ends I’d have to wind and thread with the fine yarn, I lost courage. But I’m determined to do this one day.

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But the decision must wait until I finish the Handweavers and Spinner Guild Mystery Box Challenge, as that’s due soon. Here’s a glimpse of some of the weaving I’m doing for that:

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Yes, that’s the copper wire. Fiddly. As. Anything.

Bloggyversary

March the 9th 2006. That’s the day I started this blog. That’s eight years ago. Eight years!

The blog has gone through a few incarnations. First it was called “Knitting & Chocolate” and was only about knitting, with a few other crafts tossed in now and then. Then on November 5th 2009 I changed it to “Creative Fidget” and started blogging about all my creative projects.

That was also when I changed to WordPress. I looked back through my posts recently, gathering information as I added old weaving projects to Ravelry, and boy did I have a lot of grief using Blogger. WordPress isn’t perfect, but it is such an improvement.

I’ve had the same WordPress theme since then. I did try changing it once, but it resulted in a blank white page and I had to restore the old version from the backup. I tried again a few weeks ago and it worked (obviously). A different website host that supports the most recent version of WordPress probably helped.

Though I looked at a pile of other themes, I settled on the one that failed to load last time because I still like it. It’s simple and clean. The only big change is I can put an image up as a header.

And the blog content? No plans to change. Lots of craft, art, DIY, Recycling, home and wardrobe improvement, holidays, and occasional baking and gardening posts.

Knitwear Refashions, Part 1

A month ago I decided to tackle the refashioning pile. I’ve posted about some of the sewing refashions I finished, but I actually tackled some of the knitwear first. One of the projects is taking a long time, since I can only knit a few rows now and then, so I’m abandoning my plan to do one knitwear refashion post so I can show you what I’ve done so far:

Sunrise Circle Jacket
Before:

After:

Because the garment has raglan style sleeves, and I wanted to use the same sort of hem on the arms as on the rest of the garment, I could only frog back to a short sleeve rather than sleeveless. I’ve added extra large decorative hook and eyes that have been in my sewing notions stash for twenty or so years. I like the change but I will have to see if I wear it now before I decided if I’m happy with it.

Cowly Vest
Before:

After:

It’s a little hard to see the change, but trust me, the vest sit better. After removing the triangles joining the shoulders I put the garment on the dress model, with the underarm about where it needed to be, and discovered a very simple solution: fold the front and back over each other and stitch into place. Very pleased with this one.

Olive Wrap Vest

On closer examination I decided a woven shawl would be nicer, so I frogged it.

I also frogged this:
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I’d outgrown it a while ago and made three attempts to add width to the front that all looked crap. I decided I didn’t want to send it to the op shop. I like the yarn, and I’m thinking of taking out the rocket needles to make another chunky scarf.

I wound up with quite a bit of frogged yarn:

All which I washed and hung to dry and straighten, wound into balls and added to to the stash.

There’s something appealing about frogged yarn, especially when it has gone slightly felty. It’s more rustic, and more honest. Some washing and wear and you see its true self, and hopefully what you knit with it won’t change any further.

The Big Blue

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Yarn: Vintage Hues (discontinued, I believe) and Dale Garn as warp and for the black stripes
Weave structure: doubleweave
EPI: 5
Comments: This is the biggest thing I’ve woven. Using doubleweave allowed me to make it twice the width of the loom – 160cm – and it’s about the same length. Unlike with previous blankets made with this yarn, I decided I wouldn’t bother to try and match the graduation of the yarn from one ball to the next, instead putting stripes of the warp yarn between them. This did mean I had to reject any ball that had a knot and sudden colour change, or the stripes wouldn’t have been an equal width.
Conclusion: I love it! It’s soft and cuddly and I can wrap myself up in it!

I also wove a scarf with the yarn as a sampler:

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The project has been on my to-do list for a few years, and now that it’s done my stash has reduced considerably. Not quite down to my comfortable baseline of 10 kilos, though.

Dreaming in Photoshop

I want to do more embroidery, and this brings up a very common crafty dilemma: what to make. We don’t have space to hang a pile of new artworks, pendants are fun and quick but I don’t need hundreds of them, and I’m not itching to attack the bed linen. What I’d like to do is embellish some clothing. These examples on my Pinterest board are along the lines of what interests me.

So one afternoon (with gloomy light thanks to bushfire smoke) I went through my wardrobe and pulled out garments that might look nice with, or be improve by, some embellishment. Then I opened the photos in Photoshop and played with the paintbrush tool to get a general idea for colours and position of designs.

This hemp vest and top, for example. I’m thinking a multi-coloured, flowery design or whitework:

Or this dress I made from a men’s shirt. I could add some feminine scrolly bits, or replicate the striped button band across the pockets, armholes and collar:

Perhaps this retro style dress needs some ladybirds on the collar and skirt, or tattoo style roses:

Speaking of roses, this jacket could do with a lift:

I’ve had these two ripply polyester tops from Motto for a while and I’m a bit bored with them. Nothing overly heavy would work with the fabric, but I like the idea of little french knots covering parts of them:

I love white shirts, but plain ones feel like part of a uniform to me. I’ve also been dying to cover a shirt yoke in colour. This one has mother-of-pearl buttons, so that put a sea shell theme in mind, too:

And this sleeveless top made from a men’s shirt begs for a subtle design:

Lastly, I have a black shirt dress that could do with a lift:

Now I’m eyeing my shoes, wondering if I could do something like this, or this or even this.