Friday, December 18, 2020

Dumpster Ornament

My friend Jen called on her friends to get their craft on and contribute to her 2020 themed tree. I decided to paper mache a dumpster fire. I’m a lifelong perfectionist, but this was a good lesson in letting go and not worrying about perfect. It’s okay that it’s lumpy and crooked—real dumpsters are too! 

I started with thin cardboard and decided on a size and shape. Then I started gluing 

The first layers of paper mache were torn pieces of newspaper, then I switched to cut strips because it mimicked corrugated metal. I wasn’t precise for once 

I added skewer strips to define the top edge 

A straw + pipe cleaner for the lid closure. Initially I was going to make this move, but decided it wasn’t necessary. 

Paint emphasized all the lumps and crookedness. Oh well. Let it go 

And no, Barb, you don’t need to spend $6 on dollhouse-sized castor wheels. Beads are fine! It’s an ornament, it’s handmade, it’s fun to make something again. 

Oops painted before I realized I forgot to add the side pieces. Also added signs and dirtied it up with wood filler.

For the lid I used woven cardboard and attached it via a pipecleaner wire strung through a ball point pen ink tube. So the lid opens and closes 

I hadn’t paper mached in decades. I’m pretty pleased with how it turned out. I had planned to stitch the fabric flames together like a pilllow, but my friend Michelle suggested gluing it to cardboard, and I think that was a better option. It has a cartoon effect 

I wanted to fill the interior with colored styrofoam—notoriously wasteful and thrown out versus recycled, which seemed apropos, but I couldn’t remember where I put it, so I just added red paper. Everything was sealed with a coat of Mod Podge, and a chain added for hanging 

Saturday, October 03, 2020

Laura Dress

This is my first time sewing a Rebecca Page pattern. I made the fabric by piecing together upholstery samples that were destined for the trash. I always have to make things waaaay more difficult, but I wanted to use up/upcycle some of my upholstery samples. I used to work at an interior design showroom, and they’d throw out their discontinued samples. I couldn’t stand the waste, so I took several home.

I found two fabrics with different styles but colors that blended well. Both the rust colored birds and and scallop are the same high end manufacturer. When I worked for the showroom a couple of years ago, the bird print was $156 per yard, and the scallop was $122 per yard. Both are 100% cotton. It’s not heavyweight like many upholstery fabrics, but it’s not as light as standard cotton either. The bird print faded quite a bit when I washed and dried it, but upholstery has all sorts of nasty chemicals on it to resist stains (some carcinogenic), so it had to be washed. I don’t wash samples when I make things like throw blankets, but a garment is different. 

The challenge with using samples is that some are small pieces, some have holes from where they were hung for display, and some have grommets in them to prevent designers from borrowing samples and making pillows or something and not paying for the yardage. So that means the only way my fabric is wide enough or long enough to accommodate cutting out my pattern pieces is I have to collage pieces together.

The bird print wasn’t long enough to accommodate the full pattern piece, so I decided to add a band of the scallop to the bottom of both front and back (matching those was challenging on a high-low hem), as well as to the front shoulder. I also cut my pattern apart to add 5” in length (4” after seam added), and I cut off the two band pieces and the two shoulder pieces. In other words, I cut the two main pieces into five pieces (see what I mean by making it more difficult, lol?) I also graded the pattern between a XXL top and XL bottom. I was just winging it and hoping it turned out. I know zero about alternating or adjusting patterns. 

The front piece laid out nicely with a design centered. The remaining sample of bird fabric was too narrow for the back pieces, so I had to bring in a third fabric to supplement.

I found a sample linen blend that matched the color well. One option was to have cut out one half back side in the linen (like a colorblock), or another option was to have added strips going down my sides. Instead I chose to add strips to the center back, almost like a mock zipper. The linen blend is a heavier weight than the two cottons. I did not use French seams in this project (Rebecca Page patterns recommend French seams) because it was an added level of difficulty that was too much when so much piecing was involved. 

I only had two small samples of the scallop, so I knew to cut the bands first, and the front shoulder if I had enough. I had to cut the shoulders cross grain, keeping in mind pattern direction had to match. I didn’t have enough scallop for the back shoulder, so I used the linen. Funny, when I started I thought the scallop was the star fabric, but turns out the linen makes this dress special. Go figure.


I accidentally cut into one back shoulder piece, so I repaired and covered with an appliqué 

I had to piece the strips (both the scallop and the linen) to make them long enough, so I hid the seams with appliqués (I thankfully had fabric left) 

Off center front seam: 

Yeah, there’s a lot going on, but I’m pleased with the result, and basically I made something out of trash. That’s pretty cool. I’m 5’2” and adding 4” put the length right above my knee. The shoulder and neck area is too big, so next time I’ll size down and do a bust adjustment instead. 

Friday, October 02, 2020

Flower Power Caftan

Whoa, it’s been six years since I last posted?! Time zooms. Now that we’re six months into this pandemic, I’ve been embracing home projects, cooking, and I finally dusted off my sewing machine. And that has me missing blogging, sharing, writing, and getting inspired by others. I’m trying to not get swept up in the drama of doomsday Facebook posts, or the negativity of accusatory and shaming posts, or the endless political rants. It’s too much. Right now I want to try new recipes, and make my home more inviting, and get back to crafting.

I’m in two Facebook caftan groups, and have met people for caftan walks and photo opps at events. I don’t know where this vintage sheet came from that was in my stash, but I decided to turn it into a caftan using a current pattern, Simplicity 8505.

Of course I always tend to make projects more difficult, but I had my heart set on using the border along the outside edge. I had to cut crossgrain and piece to make this happen, and I didn’t have enough border to go around the back, but overall I think it works. 

I laid the pattern out so the flowers matched up on each side. I wanted them to be reversed, but I messed up somehow on one side and they match. Kinda bummed about that, but no one else will probably notice. 

In areas where I had additional seams from piecing, I covered these up with appliqués. 

Center front:


Sunday, June 22, 2014

Palm Tree Apron

I finally managed to get my hands on this vintage apron pattern from 1949.
I like to purchase originals, versus reproductions, so it's usually a waiting game on eBay or etsy, but eventually I always find what I'm looking for.

I can see this embroidery on the hem of a dress, or in quilt squares.
So pretty!

(please don't ask me for copies of my patterns. I get bombarded with requests, and it's overwhelming. It's almost impossible to scan pattern pieces, and there are copyrights on most patterns too. Sorry.)

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Art in Embroidery

I found this embroidery-on-linen piece on eBay several years ago, but it has just been sitting in storage.
I'd like to possibly have it cleaned, then mounted under glass.
It was listed as a "geometric tapestry", and the seller thought it might be Peruvian.
I just fell in love with it (it's the most money I've ever spent on an eBay auction, around $133).
The size is roughly 29" by 31".

There's one repair on it
The underside of the same repair

There is also an area that looks like it's not tacked down or is about to fray, and the border is missing on part of the piece.

I don't know what the symbolism of the shapes mean, but I'd like to find out.
I'm also curious about the age of this piece.

Does anyone know if textiles like this should be cleaned or left as is?
How does one find someone who can mount this safely, without damaging the piece?
I consider this a work of art, and I'd like to display it and care for it.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Magical Wool Quilt

I just spent one week in Indiana.
I went for the National Road Yard Sale.

Well, and to visit my friend Michelle.  But that's another blog post.

Right now I just wanted to show my favorite purchase of the visit (actually found at a thrift store, though I found lots of fun stuff at the yard sale too).

This is a patchwork quilt of wool squares, held together with a crochet stitch.
It's signed and dated 1981.
I love it.

It makes me somewhat sick to my stomach that someone just got rid of this handmade quilt with absolutely no flaws.
No holes, no stains, no snags.
And I bought it for five measly dollars.
Think of all that work, unappreciated. Sigh....
But I'll certainly treasure it, so welcome home magical quilt. Welcome home.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Repurposed Silver Tray

I discovered this amazing store in Carlsbad (north county coastal area of San Diego) that is everything I could ever imagine selling if I had my own store.
It's called The Wish List (yes, even the name is perfect).

There is retro stuff, handmade stuff like collaged gift tags and these amazing paper roses (that make a perfect gift) made from sheets of music.
And (my favorite) repurposed stuff.
It was here that I saw my first item painted with chalkboard paint--old silver trays made into quotation boards as a cool decorative element.
These trays are beautiful, but no one really uses them for tea service anymore, especially if there's surface wear.
So what a great way to give an object new life.

I decided to make one.
My first attempt was a learning experience.
I managed to find a large and heavy tray at a thrift store.
I found the paint at Michael's.

I discovered (the hard way) that it's best to paint several thin coats with a foam brush.
So since my first attempt was a bust, I set out to find another heavy silver tray.
Note I also discovered a foam sanding pad might rescue my first gloppy attempts.

I found another tray at a thrift store (why is it so hard to find something when you're actually looking for it?!).
This one was nice and heavy; a Rogers brand.
I polished the silver plate,then decided to use black chalkboard paint.
Because there was discoloration up into the border, I had to paint all the way up to the decorative edge.

Thin coats repeated, dried. Repeated until there was a good coverage--more difficult than I expected.
 I love how the design is still visible beneath the paint

This has now been repurposed into a menu board for my friend Jen to display at her parties.
I bought gold and silver chalk pens to go along with it.
She really liked it!
I'm looking forward to seeing it on display at this year's July 4th party.

How Jen used this at this year's party: