September 29, 2007

Shiny.

The Joanns' run was a success (probably too much so.) I did find more of the peacoat fabric, and got about half a yard over what I needed just to be safe. I also got some more interfacing, and a whole lot of jewelry stuff. My justification is that the majority of what I got is findings, like ear hooks and crimp beads and such, and I'll use that stuff regardless of if this Etsy thing works out or not. The rest of what I got are some beads. I've been wanting to make a neutralish-brown necklace for fall-winter (I have this awesome shell and natural bead one which I love, but it's probably too summery), so I got some stone and ceramic beads for that (and some seed beads to fill in if necessary).

I also got this awesome kit from the Jewelry Workshop-- normally I don't care for kits because I like to make my own designs, but I just couldn't pass up the medieval look of it, plus I liked that it came with all the necessary tools (minus wire cutters), so I can reuse the clamp and get my own wire if I'd like to do this technique again. So I spent last night making that, and here's the results:

Though it made my fingers sore, the technique itself was really simple, the instructions were clear, and the results looked great! I did make one change to the design, in adding this pendant, which I also bought last night. The tiny little bead dangle they had looked rather silly with such a chunky necklace, IMO.

And here's a closeup of the design:

I must say, Joanns' stock of beading supplies has improved drastically in the last few years. I was seriously tempted to get their European 4-in-1 chainmaille necklace kit too, because I've been wanting a chainmaille necklace for ages and both attempts so far have failed (one worked and looked good, but started turning my neck green after a few wearings. The other was silver jump rings and therefore didn't turn my neck green, but the size didn't work and it kept falling apart.) Unfortunately, it was gold and silver, and I want just silver.

Speaking of beading, here's the earrings I made on Thursday night. (I'm also experimenting with potential photography setups for the Etsy shop, so bear with me!)

I do really like the use of the candleholder to display them. I just need to work on lighting. And figuring out how to get my camera to focus on what I want it to. :P I know with the macro setting, it's going to have a really shallow depth-of-field, but I'm hoping I can at least get the earring in the forefront completely clear!

I've also managed to get the back of the peacoat entirely ripped out, and the fabric for the new front laundered. And I started on a very simple recon, which is taking a plain brown v-neck and adding trim to the front. (I'm also planning on shortening the sleeves to 3/4 and trimming those, since it's a bit too short for my arms anyway, but that'll wait.) I've gotten almost 1/2 of the neck trim sewn on. The other half is pinned, along with a little wedge I'm having to insert at the very bottom of the V because it just didn't work with the angle to have them meet in the middle, but I don't think I'm going to get that done this weekend. Gotta go to a football game with the singles group in a few (wheeeee.) and then Ren Faire tomorrow (huzzah!!)

September 28, 2007

Decisions, decisions

Regarding the peacoat: I've decided to just go to Joanns' after work today and see if they have any more of the embroidered suedecloth. If they do, I'm just going to cut it out again, because at this point it's easier to do that than to try to undo two rows of topstitching (I discovered I originally topstitched it too close, and just added a second row rather than potentially rip out the embroidery). That, and with the clips down to the seam near the pockets, I'm honestly not sure I can take smaller seams on those front pieces. If they don't... I'll just jump off that bridge if I get to it.

Regarding Etsy: I think I'm going to run with it this time. I've been putting a lot of thought into it, and I think, now that I'm starting to have a lot of people tell me I should sell my stuff (it's been happening quite a bit over the last few months), maybe now it's time. I'm trying not to get my expectations up too much-- I know that a lot of newbie sellers sell very little, if anything, for months. But I'm hoping I can at least get a few things out there. My plan right now is to focus on stash-busting, using the leftover beads and fabrics from other projects that would otherwise just sit here piling up. So I won't have to put out a lot in the way of expenses at first, and that way if it doesn't work out, I won't have lost much. I'm certainly not wanting this to replace my other job, since I love doing the musician thing (though I'll admit I wouldn't mind quitting the office!)--all I'm really hoping for financially is that I make enough that I can put some in my savings (i.e. towards being able to afford to buy a little place of my own, so I'm not still relying on my parents for a roof once I hit 30) and donate some-- I've been wanting to do that, but don't really have the extra cash to spare. And, of course, getting some fabric out of here!

I was going to wait to make a few bags, but I might do one after this coat, just because bags are easy and this coat is frustrating. I did make 3 more pairs of earrings last night-- the last time I was considering this, I made up several little packages of beads that would make good earrings (they matched, and I didn't have enough of any of them to make a necklace or anything). I'd made a few, but that was a couple of months ago, so it was funny making a few more yesterday because I'd forgotten what was in there. I'm also using these to work on getting my wire loops to look really nice. I do really like a few of the pairs, and none of these are duplicates of ones I've made for myself, so worst case scenario, I have several new pairs of earrings.

Got a ton of stuff I need to figure out before I can post anything: how to handle shipping (especially since I'll have to buy packaging as well, and that would jack the price up), how to set the prices (I know I can't charge much for most of these earrings-- most of them are glass beads and simple styles, though I do have one that's semiprecious gemstone), I need to make a banner for the shop, I need to figure out a good setup for the pictures (i.e. not a distracting background), and while I have two tentative bag patterns (from bags I previously made, though they're in the form of rectangular measurements and not an actual pattern), I need to figure out a few more styles as well. I have some ideas, but have to see if they actually work. So much to do... I hope this is the right decision!!

September 26, 2007

Arrrrrrrrrgh!

I have a feeling this is going to turn out to be one of those projects that will make me wish I just bought clothes at the store like everyone else. In other words, the peacoat is NOT going well so far. I still have the basted-together lining on my dummy, and measured the seams very, very carefully, then proceeded to use that measurement on the outer sections. So far, I've gotten the front pieces and the back pieces sewn together, but not to each other. And I can tell just by looking at it that it's not going to fit-- the back shoulders, in particular, barely reach to the end of my shoulders, and that's before adding sleeves. So I'm going to have to rip the entire thing out and start over. The complication (of course) is that the front seams have been clipped already (though, thankfully, I refrained from trimming them just in case something like this did happen, and I haven't clipped the back seams yet.) So I can only take the seam out maybe a quarter-inch at most. I just hope that's going to be enough to do the trick. So of course now I'm all frustrated with it. Did I mention I have two rows of topstitching on both front seams and the back center seam to take out? So I think I know what I'm doing for every single tv show I watch for the rest of the week. :P

September 23, 2007

Checking in

I've been quiet this week, but it hasn't been an unproductive one. I spent all my crafty time since Sunday working on my scrapbooks. Finished four layouts, and I have 3 more that are nearly completed-- two I can probably finish within about 15 minutes because the typing is printed out and all I need to do is cut and paste. The third one I think I'm going to write on (and play with my metallic powder that I got for the road trip scrapbook--gotta test it out first, after all!) so that'll probably take a little bit longer. But maybe I can finish those this afternoon.

Saying maybe, because the plan is to cut out the outside of the peacoat.

I also need to get out to Joann's-- I have a plain brown long-sleeved shirt that I want to recon into a 3/4, partially because I'm going to be making another brown long-sleeved shirt from that bamboo fabric I got back in the spring, and partially because the sleeves really are a little bit too short (my arms seem to be a little long, and it's really hard to find long-sleeved ready-to-wear that is long enough as a result. Including coats. Thus the reason for the peacoat.) I got some trim there that I was planning on using to make it a bit more interesting (it really is just a solid brown v-neck), but since the trim isn't stretchy in the least I'm a bit concerned about how it'll affect my ability to pull it over my head. So I think I'm going to use it on the bamboo wrap instead, which means I probably need a bit more so I can trim the sleeves as well. As for the v-neck, I'm thinking maybe sewing on some small (possibly wooden) beads might be my best option.

Also, I've been carrying around the Gothic Rose bag for the last couple of weeks now, and so far the strap is holding up great. I did reinforce the stitching the day after NYC just to be safe, which I think was a good precaution. I also keep getting a bunch of compliments from my friends on it--now they're beginning to ask me if I've ever thought about making bags to sell. Maybe, just maybe, it's time to revisit the Etsy idea. (If I can even still remember how to get into my account.) Of course, I've got several fall clothing items to deal with first...

September 16, 2007

a quasi-success at best

Well, my quick reconstruction is done. I like the results, in theory. In practice, apparently double and triple-checking my measurements wasn't good enough.


I turned this...


...into a new checkbook cover, because the cheap plasticy one that it came with that I've been using since I got the checking account at the beginning of college was completely shredded. That, and I didn't want to throw it out, even though parts of it were ripping at the seams and the zippers were basically shot from my habit of hauling a book everywhere I go. (Bad pattern choice. But I love the fabric.)
It looked pretty good from the outside...
....and the checks fit in there fine...
...but I decided I wanted to make some card slots too, since my current purse has all those pockets to eliminate the need for a wallet, including enough card slots for the essentials, but not enough for others like my bank/insurance cards, frequent buyers, etc. As you can see, I forgot to factor topstitching into my measurements, and so the cards don't actually fit horizontally like they were intended to.
It also means I probably should have made the cover pieces wider, because the middle one sticks out funny. That, and I should have used more elastic for the loop, because I can barely get it over the button. Sure, I could fix that, but I don't really feel like undoing the entire inside of it to add a bigger piece of elastic. I'll probably just end up moving the button itself eventually, but I'm too lazy to do it right now.
The moral of the story, which my several attempts at patternmaking should have taught me already: Never, EVER trust my math skills.

September 15, 2007

It's a quilt! It's a box! It's...


...the almost, but not quite, finished lining of the peacoat. I say "almost", because all of the pieces are quilted. I finished that on Wednesday. Last night and today I've been basting the lining together and making adjustments. As you know from previous posts, I had to buy the jacket pattern in a too-large size because they only had it too large or too small. As a result, even after downsizing the pattern a full size on paper, I had to take all of the side seams in a full half-inch this afternoon. (Left the shoulder seams the same, as a note-to-self.) Tried it on over one of my bulkiest sweaters and with the inside facing I had cut from the lining fabric instead of the outer fabric, and I think that will bring it in just enough. I think, for the sake of consistency and to spare myself from my less-than-stellar math skills, I'm just going to cut out the resized pieces as is and just take the side and sleeve seams in as needed, since the shoulders are the same and I don't want to accidentally take length off the arms that I shouldn't.
And here's a glimpse of the part of the lining that will (eventually) be showing.
This will all be unbasted, of course, once I'm ready to start actually constructing the coat. That way I can sew it in the order it is in the instructions-- I've done very few lined jackets, so I don't want to take any chances on having sewed something together in a way that maybe I shouldn't have. Especially where the front facing is concerned. But for now, my dummy gets to wear a very boxy blanket.
Back to the sewing room with me-- I'm going to take the rest of the day off from this thing in favor of a (hopefully) quick refashion.
Edit, 7:42 PM: Ok, so I didn't get it done, mainly because I had to tea-dye some elastic and I'm waiting for it to dry. That, and I need to eat at some point tonight. But I should be able to finish it quickly tomorrow afternoon, so I'll post it then.

September 9, 2007

The Big 1-0-0!

That's right, this is my 100th post in this blog! So, partially to celebrate (but mostly because the timing worked out impeccably), I now bring you... my trip to NYC's Fashion District! (Warning: This is going to be an extremely image-heavy post.)


One of my friends and I went up to NYC for the afternoon (a couple hours' drive from here) and spent the majority of the afternoon browing fabric shops. I do have to admit that it was difficult to find fabric I could actually use-- the selection was heavily geared towards formalwear, and much of the remaining fabric was sadly out of my budget. But if I ever need to make a really fancy dress for a performance or a wedding dress or something, I know exactly where to go shopping now. The area between 7th/8th and 37th/38th Sts. are loaded with shops for this type of fabric. I did, however, come home with this:

It's a cotton voile, and slightly greener than the picture shows. I think I'm going to use it to make this blouse from BurdaStyle, minus the elastic at the waist and probably with 3/4 sleeves since this is a springier fabric. $14 for 2 yards, and the people running the store were quite friendly and helpful, even if the selection seemed a bit disorganized (but it was like that in all the stores, really, they were more like fabric warehouses than the vaguely more organized setup I'm used to at my only local option, the friendly neighborhood JoAnn's. So I would recommend USA Fabric, which i s on 38th between 7th and 8th.)
Then we had dinner at a place which claimed to have the best grilled chicken on earth-- not sure how accurate that is, but it was quite good, and almost as quick as fast food (and so much healthier. I even liked the broccoli served with it, and that's saying something!) Then, on to the highlight of the evening... one of the fashion shows at Mercedes-Benz (formerly Olympus) Fashion Week!
The friend I went with is studying fashion design online through the Academy of Art University (with the goal of doing costume design), so she got two free passes to their MFA show. I took a ton of pictures, of course, which aren't the best quality due to being several rows back and the fact that it took me till about halfway through the show to figure out the best spot between peoples' heads to get relatively full shots of the models, but here's a few highlights from most of the collections shown.
#1: By Andrea Vence, who designed both the textiles and the outfits, and was inspired by Japanese bamboo basketry/kites.


Didn't get any good pictures of the second collection, so on to the third, by Kathryn Scully, who did beachwear inspired by family vacations to the Jersey Shore:
The fourth was a collaboration between a fashion designer and a textile designer (James Yoest and Sharon Chia-yu Yeh, respectively). I missed several shots in this one, unfortunately, but did manage to get these two, which were fashioned from a recycled parachute:
#5: By Jiyoon Yeom, a knitwear collection inspired by nature's spirit:
I didn't bother taking pics of #6, which was a menswear collection inspired by "soccer thugs". #7 was by Yi-Ting "Maxim" Lee, and was another knitwear collection inspired by the manga JoJo's Bizarre Adventure by Hirohiko Araki. (Not big on leggings, but I really liked the knits themselves!)

#8 was by Haa Cheng Thai, and was inspired by kirigami-- the laser-cut fabrics on this one were amazing!

#9: By Kyung Min Kim, who is primarily a textile designer but came up with some simple designs to showcase her fabric. I sincerely hope she becomes big enough for her designs to be sold to the general sewing public, because I absolutely loved the graphics and would buy it in a heartbeat. The photos really don't do them justice, but here's my attempt:

#10: By MinSun Lee, a knitwear collection inspired by, of all things, Russian nesting dolls. I was curious to see how the layers would translate, since that can get bulky, but it actually worked.

After this, we stopped at Starbucks just long enough for drinks (since I'd been craving iced chai all day) and then headed home. But now I'm feeling very inspired to get back to my sewing-- probably a good thing, since lining quilting has made me very unmotivated! (It still stands at 6/12 pieces quilted, since pretty much all I've done in the way of craftiness since the last post was make one scrapbook page from that painted paper, and assemble 3 more layouts that still need text.)

One last picture: Saw this dress on the way into the show once I was in the tent, and just liked it.

Edit, 5:47 PM: Ok, make that 7/12 on the lining. I would have gotten more done this afternoon, but I spent a little time reenforcing the strap on the Gothic Rose bag, since it looked like the stitching at the corners was already beginning to pull a little and I do not want to mess this one up by the end of the cooler season (I really like this bag). That, and went to JoAnn's with my mom (she needed some stuff, and as it turned out, I never actually used the gift card that one of my friends gave me for my birthday about 6 months ago. Spent more than what was on it, of course, but I now have a nice piece of dark denim for once I figure out a working jeans pattern, some army green twill that I want to make the Ellen pants from Burdastyle with, and a navy blue/tan/royal blue stripe to make a blouse from. I may make Burdastyle's Emily with it, but I think I'm going to look through my stash first and see if I have a blouse pattern that I've already tried and liked first.

September 2, 2007

Scary scrapbook math

Took a break from the quilting yesterday-- N and I were having another crafty day, and this time I brought scrapbook stuff and worked on that while she painted. I worked on a bit more when I got home, so all in all I ended up with 3 pages done and about 6 others in various stages of completion. Here's what I got done:

(It's hard to tell on the black/white/red one, but the red blotches are little feet with dashed lines drawn over the page to resemble dance steps.
This one was my absolute favorite page that I've done in a long time. The paper on the left side was the inspiration-- I liked the design too much to cover it up with a bunch of photos. So I used my xacto knife to cut out bits of it to layer over the photo on that page, and then cut parts out of a second piece to add the grass (which, though you can't tell, is the same part of the paper as the left side), the branches, the moon and the lanterns. And the title words too, which are filled in with a piece of the sky from the left side. It took forever, but the results were so worth it.
I was also experimenting with trying to get a distressed-pattern paper look for my road trip album-- partially so I can control the color scheme (it's too hard to find papers in the color scheme I want that match each other-- believe me, I've tried!) but mostly because it's a lot easier on my wallet to just buy some of those 25-packs of cardstock from createforless.com. (Plus then I don't have to try and figure out how many pages I'm going to end up with, seeing as how I still have a ton of photos to upload for printing. And I just noticed that everything I tried to upload today didn't upload- GRAR!) Anyway, this is acrylic paint on black paper (both brushed and brayered on) and then sanded for blending. I was hoping more of the black would show-- might have to try a higher grit sandpaper.
Anyway, the scary scrapbook math. I figured out that I have about 7 scrapbooks to make. I haven't completed a single scrapbook (except for one for a Flordia vacation) since I finished college, though the ones from my grad school days are close to completion. So that's 4 scrapbooks in various stages of getting done (because the one from this past year and the year before that have many missing pages.) I still need to finish the Chile album from January, and I have to assemble the road trip album in its entirety (including actually getting the photos printed, which I'm hoping I can finish the touch-up edits tomorrow so I can place that order.) Actually, I have 8 to work on, really, because since I tend to start the new ones in the summer (habit from my high school days on--I'd run out of room by the end of the school year, so I'd do the summer and following school year), the pages from stuff over this past summer (which, due to the road trip getting its own album, I think comes out to about 4) will likely need to go into a new album.
Because of this, I've come to the conclusion that I need to get better about working this into my craft time instead of all sewing almost all the time, because it's just going to fall further behind. So I'm going to attempt to get into the habit of making one layout a week. Some weeks it'll probably be more, because I'll get on a scrapbook binge on occasion and just make a ton of pages in a day (like yesterday). And the actual math might be a bit off for awhile, because once I get my cardstock for the road trip, I'll probably assemble it in pieces-- like paint all the cardstock in one period, try to figure out what photos go where in another so I know how many pages I'll need, copy and mark the routes on a road map in one, etc. But I'm hoping this method will make it come together relatively quickly, or at least as quickly as an album involving hundreds of photos and all the random memorabilia like the maps can.
I do hope I can find a way to balance this-- I definitely have seasonal sewing projects that need to get done, like my coat that I'm currently working on. But I figure one layout a week is a pretty reasonable goal, because I can probably just sit down on a Sunday afternoon and do one, or something like that. I guess I'll have to really wait and see how my work schedule turns out.