Craft Daze

My lovely arty crafty buddy, Karen, hosted a Craft Day a few weekends ago. I’ve never been so disorganised over a Craft Day. To begin with, I’d lost all memory of it. It was only because I went out with some of the crafters a few weeks before that I heard about it (again). When I looked up my emails I found the one inviting me there, but it was dated around the time I had that awful cold, so I suspect I didn’t register it. That shows how sick I was. Me forget a Craft Day? Never!

But then I wasn’t sure what to take. I don’t want to start new projects when I’m going to be moving house soon. I decided to get the baby blankets off the loom so I could attach satin blanket binding and to take the knitters loom so I could finish the leno scarf.

I work on either. I’d also thrown in two projects for the move: make folio bags (large flat bags with handles that hold several folios of bundles of craft paper at once) and pouches for the previous year’s harvest of lavender.

For the folio bags I needed sturdy material. I was going to buy denim, but at the last moment we ducked into an op shop thinking we could recycle an old bed quilt or something. They just happened to have rolls of fabric, including heavy curtain fabric – which seemed perfect for the job.

Except it wasn’t. The plasticy fabric slipped everywhere and the holes made by the needles started to look suspiciously like perforations for tearing. I gave up on that project and concentrated on the lavender bags. For those I cut up an old pair of cheesecloth pants and just sewed ravioli-like squares, stuffing them with the lavender then finishing with zig-zag stitch.

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And that’s all I got through. But I did get a crafty fix and it was a fun afternoon – especially as I got to chat with a friend I hadn’t seen in a while.

Lookin’ Fly Clutch

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All kinds of odd things end up in my stash of art and craft materials. A while back I got playing with a scrap of plastic fly screen. The folds that had been pressed into the mesh while in storage suggested a simple clutch bag shape, and reminded me of the cross-stitch iPhone cover I stitched last year. A bit of a trim and sewing in some side panels with waxed linen thread was all it took to make the clutch. Then I had to come up with a cross-stitch design.

So I measured the proportions of the grid and created a graph in Illustrator, which I exported to Photoshop. Then I modified a cross stitch pattern to a shape and colour I liked and put it on a layer behind the grid so I could colour the spaces in the fly screen graph with the fill tool.

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Then it was just a matter of cross-stitching the design onto the bag. I used sewing cotton to mark out every fifth row and column of rectangles so I could keep oriented to the pattern. Stranded cotton turned out to be unsuited to the job, as the individual strands would eventually separate and misalign, so I turned to the flower threads I’d bought at the mini tapestry weaving and on ebay. There were a few gaps in the colour range, so I had to order in some more thread, but I was able to get started while I waited for them to arrive.

It was a good tv craft project, taking me about a month of half-hour to hour stitching sessions. I’m very happy with the result.

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.

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.

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…

Turn an Umbrella into a Shower Cap

Broken umbrellas. It’s nearly always the frame that goes first, and for those of us with recycling tendencies the fabric is just begging to be used for something else. People have used them to make clothing, the most obvious being a skirt. I’m not all that keen on wearing shiny plastic, and though making a raincoat sounds like a natural transition it wouldn’t be very breathable, though this dog coat is adorable. Others have made bags out of them, which is a great idea but I don’t need more bags. This person makes beanbags out of them which is pretty cool, though I’m long past being able to sit in beanbags.

No, I decided make something I’ve been finding it harder and harder to find: a shower cap large enough to fit my head. Honestly, I swear the ones you buy in stores have been getting smaller and smaller, and the longer my hair gets the harder it is to fit them over my head and the little bun I tie my hair into.

For a while now I’ve had fabric from a plain black umbrella waiting for me to get around to making a shower cap out of, but recently I discovered that the umbrella I bought at the British Library, which changes colour when wet, was broken.

I’m going to pause here for a short gripe. This umbrella was expensive. It came, as they often do, in a little cover. The label’s care instructions specify you must keep it in the cover, but the fabric is thicker than the usual umbrella fabric, due to the special paint that changes colour, and getting it to squish back down enough to get the sleeve on is a real struggle. It was my efforts to do so that broke the frame.

Since I’d only got to use this umbrella a few times, I was determined to make something out of it. And I love the idea of having a shower cap that changes colour, too.

But this method could be used for most umbrella fabric.

So, this is what I did:

The umbrella was a medium to large size so there was plenty of fabric. I wanted to make use of the patterned part. After removing it from the frame and taking off the tie that holds the umbrella closed, I unpicked two opposite seams so I wound up with two halves:

I took one half, turned it inside out and sewed it together up the side:

I copied the seaming method, which involved folding it over before sewing. I’m guessing this make it extra strong and waterproof.

Above the top of the pattern, I sewed in halfway to the centre on both sides:

Then I refolded it in half with those two seams were pressed against each other and sewed in again from the outside to halfway, where the first seams met:

Then I trimmed off the excess fabric at the point:

Right side out, the top now looks like this:

Next I folded the outside edge of the fabric wrong sides together and sewed a channel for the elastic, leaving a gap to thread it through:

Partway around I reattached the tie, with the velcro bits removed, to use as a loop to hang the shower cap up by:

I measured some elastic by wrapping it around my head then shortening it a little so it gripped well. Then I fed it into the channel:

Tied it in a knot. You may want to sew the ends together so it sits flat. But the join will sit in the channel, not against your head, so it won’t be uncomfortable.

Done:

And yes, it fits:

I even tested it for you:

Look! The colours change:

Coolest shower cap ever.

Squirrel Scorpion Book

This is another of the projects I finished during the first heatwave.

Yonks ago, when I was on my bookbinding thing, I made a cover out of stiffened fabric but never got around to binding in some pages as I thought it was a bit boring. In the meantime I cut a design off a favourite tshirt thinking I’d applique it to something. The two were destined to meet. That just left the binding.

I grabbed some yellow embroidery thread and got stitching. The gingham lining made marking up the holes easy:

The pages had been torn out of an old cartridge paper sketch pad.

I wish the diamond and spine stitching had lined up better, but the binding does need to be centred for stability. Otherwise I’m pretty happy with it.

It’ll probably become a brainstorming notebook, once my current one is full.

Heatwave Refashioning

During the first heatwave I tackled a few of the clothing refashions:

I turned the brown lacy top inside out, put it on the dress model and marked the new necklines:

Pinned and sewed:

Much better:

The blue t-shirt was so badly made that not only did the stripes not line up, they were at quite an angle. I wound up cutting the seams off and using the remaining two pieces as fabric. A sleeveless t-shirt laid over this was my pattern, and I used the hems at the bottom and arms for the new sleeve edges and neckline:

(I didn’t notice the stain until after I’d made it. Fortunately it came out in the wash.)

The wrap top fabric is quite thin now, so this is going to be its final incarnation, as a caftan top:

All I had to do was move the straps onto the inside of the back, make two buttonholes in matching positions on the front:

Then sew the back and front together with two lines of stitching between the arms and body.

No more gaping armholes.

Mystery Box Challenge

While at the Guild I succumbed to the lure of the Mystery Box. Well, it has been a while since I participated in a crafty challenge not of my own devising. There were only three boxes left, all labelled ‘W’ for weaver:

And inside…

Quite a collection of odds and ends:

The playing card made me laugh – it was right at the bottom. The rules state that you must use at least 50% of the contents. Any knitted or crocheted items must be handspun, which is a pity as my first ideas involved weaving, knitting and crocheting the provided commercial yarn. You see, the first thing that popped into my head was a figurine:

These are early sketches. I’d like to be able to use all of the materials. The glitz and handful of short threads are the only things I can’t see a particular use for, so I suspect they are going to become stuffing.

In other news, I put something on the table loom last week:

My second huck lace project, using hemp yarn. It’ll either be a scarf or a table runner, depending on how much it softens up in the wash.

2013

Last year was one of flood and drought, when it came to creating and craft. Mostly that was because I also had intensive periods of work and travel that left little time for crafting, then relaxed stretches where I could dedicate weekends and evenings to creativity.

January:
The year started with Bagapalooza, a big bag review and refashion project.

I also made a whole lot of plans to sort out my photo collection… and that’s as far as that went.

February:
The AKL got a bit of action, as I wove up a few things out of oddments of yarn:

And snuck in a little forbidden knitting with rocket needles and velvet fabric cut into a long strip:

And whipped up some jewellery:

March:
Time to dust off the Bond Sweater Machine:

After picking up a free old Bond machine I made The Mega Bond:

April:
More Bonding:

Until I had to clear the table for some sewing:

May:
I made map coasters:

And tried out a few more methods in the inkle book:

And tried some embroidery:

And started the Fast Diet.

June:
The beginning of a new obsession, perhaps:

I made an envelope clutch for a themed party:

July:
I dabbled in cross-stitch:

But for most of July I was in the crafty doldrums.

August:
Got my act together. Started tackling the problem of the back of the house falling off. Solution: better engineered verandah. Bonus shade panels and new balustrade. (Completed in November.)
I finished a portrait:

And decided to tackle six to-do list categories over six weekends, and some projects I could do while watching tv.
I started with jewellery:

Moved on to tackle accessories and clothing refasions:

Plus dyeing:

September:
Some simple quilting:

I made a bag out of a painting and another out of an upholstery sample:

I tried solar dyeing, and made gifts to take overseas:

I finished weaving a scarf and wove another, and did more inkling:

It was also the month for learning I had a small heart condition, osteopenia and confirmation I’ve reached menopause. Or peri-menopause. Whatever. But I’d lost 4kg on the Fast Diet, so I was feeling pretty healthy.

October:
I spent most of October overseas.

November:
Craft Day on the first weekend back kick-started my crafty brain.
I made a necklace:

Badges:

And framed some cats I’d stitched over the winter:

I got the cards done early:

Though we only used a few, as we didn’t find the time for the write & mail part.

December:
I ended the year stitching:

I also went camping and painted ‘in plein air’:

I made a cover for the day bed:

And made a door mat for Dad:

And I finally finished weaving the paua shell ruanna after a year and a half on the loom:

I stitched a heart, and a pair of eyes:

Then we went to Japan!

All in all a good creative year. The craft category challenge proved very effective, so I might do that again in future. Half of the garments I made on the Bond I’ve decided need frogging or adjustment, however, and it wasn’t a great year for weaving. But I seem to have found a replacement for knitting with embroidery. I’m not as obsessed, though. Yet.