Saturday, December 19, 2009

Motifs to the Rescue!

I was so excited to get this custom order. A big drum case with some cool Celtic knotwork embroidery around the top. I figured I'd take the job and in a few weeks, I'd have a nice case and great sale.

Yes and no. I got the nice case and the great sale. I was so wrong about the 'few weeks.'

It was more like 7 or 8 weeks.

The first delay was in discovering exactly how I would make the case. I had the basic case design already, but there was the small problem of Celtic knotwork and getting the embroidery on the case. I tried several different techniques: Applique, cutwork, crewelwork embroidery...I even tried some iron on stuff that was a total disaster.

So I started over with a piece of stencil plastic, an exacto knife and the pattern the guy sent me to imitate. I made the stencil then transferred the pattern to my fabric of choice. After trying many different styles of embroidery, I settled on a chain stitch design and sent him a photo.

Much to my relief, he loved it. So I set about determining the number of motifs I would need. It turned out I needed 7 of them. It also turned out that counting transfer, outlining and infill each motif took an average of almost 5 hours to complete.

In between all this embroidery I had to deal with a small plumbing disaster that had us tearing up the floor in the living room. We also managed to get the worst snow storm I think I've ever had to drive through, I got sick with a nasty cold and I broke my car.

It's been a rough couple of months but last night I finally finished the case. I almost hurt my brain figuring this one out and frankly, I think I outdid myself:

Friday, September 18, 2009

Ruminations on the Crafting Life

I was sitting quietly the other day at work on my lunch break. I was eating my sandwich and contemplating my next batch of craft projects. There are several things that I want to try that I've never made the time to try or did any research yo yos or a crochet along on the Lion Brand website. They have a cute little motif afghan that I'd like to work with.

I like motifs because they are portable. And I can eat a sandwich while I'm making one. I can take it to work with me and whip off a couple pieces during lunch or my break times. Motifs are fast and usually pretty simple.

My maternal grandmother was a fan of the motif. She was forever making something with them. Afghans, the occasional quilt...she even made me a crocheted hippy vest when I was a kid and those sorts of things were in fashion.

They're in fashion again and I'm interested again. This time as a maker as well as a wearer.

Last weekend, I was digging through a box of craft stuff and I found a shoebox with the remains of a Cathedral Window quilted pillow and an almost completed pillow cover. It got me thinking about motifs and my Grandma. The quilted pillow bits came from her stash nearly 10 years ago when she moved from her apartment to the nursing home. She couldn't take much stuff with her and her eyes weren't much good for close work anymore.

So I found myself perusing the supply category on etsy this last week looking for quilt bits to finish up her pillow cover and maybe even design a few of my own. I found a plethora of supplies on QuiltSquares' page and these are just about perfect:

I love shopping on etsy almost more than I love selling on etsy. I like finding the things that I need to make my designs become reality there. I like supporting the handmade community. It's another thing I inherited from my Grandma...a sense of community. She was always getting together with her friends and quilting or crocheting and chattering. She made prayer shawls and afghans and quilts and vests and etc. She was prolific and intensely focused.

I really miss her a lot. But I always have a piece of her with me all the time. My love for creating things. Thanks Grandma.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

I got a SERGER!

And I'm so excited about it! Can you tell?

It's a Singer. I've been warned away from Singers in the past because they're not made by "Singer" anymore. I don't know who makes them now but I'm pretty happy to have this moderately priced machine.

Threading the serger was an experience I don't hope to repeat anytime soon. I've done some googling around and found a way to make it easier to start another spool of thread by tying the new onto the old before it runs out. Hopefully, I can notice that sort of thing before it becomes an issue.

I wish that the makers of this particular machine had considered that most people who sew have normal, human-sized hands and not little elfin or gnome hands. The spaces inside the machine that one must get to in order to thread the machine are tiny and tightly spaced. Fortunately they saw fit to include a pair of tweezers in the tool packet. I wish they had included a little bit of patience and some improved eyesight in there as well.

But I managed to get it threaded and actually running without too much more frustration. The dogs have even come back into the house and everything!

And now I've been serging everything in sight. I serged up a seam on an old coat. I serged together several oddly shaped bits of fabric to test it out on different kinds of fabric. I'm a serging fool.

Now to put it to use in my next project which involves stretch velvet panne. I've made several tops in the last few years with this stretchy wonder-fabric and they've come out ok. I'm really hoping that the serger will make it faster and easier than using one of the stretch stitches on my Husky. Some experimentation is in order, I think.

Wish me luck.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

My first blog

Spring is in the air at the home place in Stromsburg. Today I was torn between getting out in the great weather and finishing up my latest project.

So I did both. I spent the early afternoon in the yard planting a new bed of asparagus (a personal favorite at our house) and mowing the front yard. Once I got done with that, and cleaned up a bit, I came back in to get to work on the latest sewing project!

I like to make custom drum cases for hand drums. My latest creation is a sage green case with polar fleece lining. It's fun for me to make and the fleece is really nice next to your skins ;)

This sage green case is for someone who lives far away from me and I didn't have access to the actual drum for a 'fitting.' So I made a psuedo-drum out of a couple of circles of cardboard and a piece of dowling. It works well enough for me to get close to what I need.

First, I cut the dowel to length matching it to the height of the drum in question. Then, using my fancy circle-cutting jig (a pen, a straight pin, and a piece of ribbon), I made two cardboard circles matching the diameter of the top and the bottom of the drum. A couple of wood screws later, I have a reasonable facsimile of a doumbek. From there, it's a simple matter to create a pattern on an old sheet for a case.

I have to admit, the 'drum jig' seemed like a stroke of genious for this old bird. I felt pretty good about that. I feel even better about the drum case. And the asparagus too.