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More sewing shenanigans (but still no waistcoat)

More sewing shenanigans (but still no waistcoat)

If you’ve been following my waistcoat sewing adventures, you’ll know I was fairly optimistic I’d have a finished (or, more advanced) garment to show you by now.

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Here she stands, in a corner, mocking me…

The thing is… I’ve hit a snag. After finding out the shoulder area needed more work, and realising the pattern I’d bought was more or less useless, I got discouraged. The major mental roadblock was finding out I’ll probably need to remove all the tailor interlining I’d hand sewn in order to fix the shoulder problem; also knowing my pattern-making skills are still in their infancy and therefore can’t be trusted, isn’t helping.

Of course, I’m nothing if not a great procrastinator, and therefore do have something new to show you.

In my free time (ok, when I’m stressed) I managed to follow a commercial pattern and make a new rabbit, as well as her garments.

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She’s got a lovely dress as well as some cute boots, plus a very proper-looking jacket!
The jacket was the most complicated make (I also found a couple of tiny instruction mistakes) but the most fun. She looks cozy, doesn’t she?

I had some leftover material and decided to create a smaller version of the bunny. I’m still undecided on gender. This is important as it will define the wardrobe. What do you think, boy rabbit or girl rabbit?

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Made from scraps of felt. I’ll probably change those weird eyes!

I had my bunny family sitting on a shelf in my studio. They looked alright there, but… incomplete.

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My studio library isn’t fibre-centric at all…

Suddenly I remembered I had a pattern for an armchair, part of the rabbit collection. It looked both complicated enough to be entertaining and simple enough to be finished in a short amount of time. I had to make two.

Well… the pattern had a couple of mistakes (this is starting to become a thing with me, isn’t it?) so I did have to take some time away from it after realising I’d cut the fabric too short in some places. After some consideration, a solution presented itself and I managed to finish one armchair.

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I did it in patchwork fashion for a trendy look. I’d never done this type of fabric assembly before, so if there’s anyone reading who understands how it works, feel free to point out any mistakes I might have made.

All in all, I think it came out quite decent, and my rabbit looks comfy and elegant sitting on it.

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Now… there’s a tiny bit of felting to be had in this story. See the chair’s rounded arms? The pattern tells me to use some wool batting, roll it up and hand sew in place. I had a better idea: I receive a weekly food box that has an insulating padding made of recycled bottles, and I thought, “this would be a great way to reuse it!” Will it felt, though? I brought out my needles, had a go, and success!

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Needle felted plastic, who would’ve guessed?

This will be going in the other armchair that I haven’t finished yet. Wish me luck, I hope this second one comes out looking similar, or I’ll have to create a story in my head as to why one rabbit is more deserving of comfort than the other…

So… maybe next post I’ll have a waistcoat? Don’t hold your breath, but fingers crossed.

What have you been up to lately? Any miniature furniture sewing? Tell me all in the comments section.

 

Do I have a finished vest? (Spoiler: I don’t)

Do I have a finished vest? (Spoiler: I don’t)

Hello! I hope everyone is doing well, or at least managing not to randomly yell at walls.

If you remember, the last time I wrote I was working on a Victorian-style waistcoat mockup, and I was determined to have the real thing ready soon. Famous last words!

Once lockdown happened, my energy levels plummeted, lots of food was eaten with no exercise (in which my waistline might have increased ever so slightly, making the waistcoat a bit more er, snug) and my creative mojo went out the window.

So… this is where I am now:

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After two mockups, I thought I was ready for the real deal. However… see the puckering on the armpit area? It’s driving me mental and I don’t know how to sort it. I’ve tried pinning and tucking but so far, nothing has helped. Argh. Suggestions?

The good bit is, I definitely did practice my tailoring techniques. Using horse hair canvas and a special type of tailor stitch, I partially lined the inside of the waistcoat to make it sturdier. This also helps with shaping – see how the lapel is bending in the right direction? That’s the horse hair canvas and the stitching doing its magic. Behold, my tailoring efforts below.

 

Another issue I’m having is the fabric itself: since the wool is on the thick side, each bit I add (such as the inner lapel) adds bulk, for which the pattern doesn’t account. That, plus my recent indulgence in delicious comestibles, and I’m in trouble… Next Winter should be interesting.

Another thing I’ve done so far is to topstitch the lapel by hand, so the fabric doesn’t pucker when the waistcoat is buttoned up. I think you can tell the slight difference between the topstitched right half and the left, yet to be worked on:

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And that’s pretty much me done for the moment. For those who might complain that I’m not showing any felting, look! I’ve needle felted a couple of little balls to see if they look good with a bead, for knitting stitch markers. What do you think? I’m not in love so far.

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Finally… I need a distraction from all my recent mask making, so I’ve decided to work on a miniature felt jacket for a lady rabbit I sewed a while ago. Naturally, Quality Control Kitty was there to make sure I didn’t make any mistakes.

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Hopefully in my next post I’ll have a finished waistcoat and a mini jacket to show you…

Oh, and one last thing: I’ve been having trouble commenting on everyone else’s posts, which makes me very sad. Tech is annoying. Please know I’ve been reading them. I really, really hope the tech issue doesn’t impede my being able to reply to your comments, fingers crossed!

Have your lovely selves a great day 🙂

Cabin fever and mock-ups

Cabin fever and mock-ups

Hello. Let me start by hoping you and your loved ones are all of sound health.

In light of recent events, last week my husband and I decided to self-isolate. Not too hard a task for two humans whose favourite activity is staying in their respective studios and create, but once it became a Rule I Must Follow in my brain, I knew I needed a project to stay busy and not rebel.

Before I tell you what that project is, allow me to share a new acquisition – I got a serger!

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Meet Bert. Bert came to me pre-loved on eBay, from a lady that didn’t have much time to craft anymore. Judging by the state of his insides (lint everywhere!), you could tell he was indeed much loved.
I haven’t played around with Bert yet but I’m sure he’ll make a great companion to Marge, my sewing machine.

Now, to the project.
I’ve been down a historical costuming rabbit hole for the past few weeks (because, reasons) and decided to make myself a late Victorian waistcoat. This all may have gotten worse after I bought a magnificent pair of trousers with a very 1910s style, and felt my ensemble wouldn’t be complete without a vest, and later a jacket.

Who knew the internet had sewing websites just for this type of historical thing?

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You’ll see on top right corner that the pattern I bought allows me to choose from 4 different styles. I went for the one shown in yellow. Don’t make me confess how many tailoring videos I’ve since watched on YouTube to learn how to create a proper lapel…

Fearing things might start going slightly dystopian, before I self-isolated I managed to run to one of my local fabric shops and buy the appropriate materials for this.

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I got this beautiful 100% wool tweed for the exterior and a beautiful silky paisley for the lining. The latter is polyester, something I’m not very keen on, so I vowed to find something made of natural fabric for next time.
Both materials have been pre-washed but not yet pressed.

Now, before I get to play with the pretty stuff, I need a mock-up. If you’re unfamiliar with the concept, this is when you test the shape and size of your pattern by first sewing with inexpensive fabric – this is often called a muslin.

Mock-ups save you the heartbreak of finding out the pattern doesn’t fit you somewhere after you’ve cut into the expensive fabric. They are also a great opportunity for you to get to know the construction steps of your project, and train the techniques first. My waistcoat pattern reportedly comes from an original 1890s pattern so you can be sure I’m testing it first!

Good thing I did, too…

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My mannequin isn’t completely true to my size but I can already tell there are some adjustments I’ll need to make to the bust line, plus there are a couple of instructions I’m not sure I’ll be following to a T (I am a rebel, after all).
I also managed to find out the pattern has some mistakes, such as telling me to use 4 pieces of something they only tell me to cut 2 of.

The keen-eyed among you might notice I’ve pinned the pieces together on the outside. This is so I can make easy adjustments and transfer them to my final pattern once sewn.

Unfortunately this is where my experiment is at the moment, so I don’t have any more to share with you. However, if you’re intrigued by this piece of clothing – have I mentioned this will have some real historic-style boning for structure? – I’ll happily share my progress in my next post.

Until then, stay safe and I hope you have plenty to keep you pleasantly occupied.

Pandagirl’s 4th Quarter Challenge

Pandagirl’s 4th Quarter Challenge

I decided to take a little different direction with the Suprematist Challenge.  Ruth had used offcuts for her background.  I decided to use scraps for my shapes.

Zed had mentioned texture which is always my preference in creating most anything. So, I dumped out one of my bags of samples and scraps and started to cut shapes.

Sorry for the pic on my kitchen table, but I couldn’t help but start to organize them and wanted to save my tentative design.

Then I realized I’d better find a background. So, I used a piece of felt I made for a class with Fiona Duthie to layout designs. I pinned the pieces after I moved them around a bit.

Since most of the pieces had already been felted, I had to sew them to the background.  For most all I used a very, very fine black rayon thread.  For the lighter green pieces, I changed to a light green thread.  But I don’t think I had to.  It was felted on black prefelt ad probably wouldn’t have shown much anyway.

The pieces varied a lot in texture and materials used from nuno, throwsters waste, ribbon, silk hankies, locks, and some decorate fabrics.

It was also interesting that the pieces not only had lots of textures, but dimension.  Some of the shapes got a little distorted with the sewing.

The back was a negative of the front which looked like a puzzle to me.

Here are a couple of closeups:

Sorry my photo skills aren’t the best.

Depending on which way you turn the picture, you get a different feel.  This is the one I like the best.

Have you finished your challenge piece yet?  If I have time I may try using prefelt.

A Few New Things

A Few New Things

We made felt flowers for brooches at the Well Being Centre last week. These are the three layers of one of mine:

I thought I’d found the perfect button when I tried it out:

But just before I sewed it on, I spotted an orange shisha mirror and sewed that on! I haven’t got a photo yet though. I was sorting some felt offcuts a few weeks ago, and thought I’d save some to use for greetings cards because turned sideways they looked like landscapes. I thought it’d be nice to make some new ones too, and was only reminded by someone on the forum (I’ve forgotten who, sorry!) and before I forgot again, I went and made some. I made them quite soft and thin since they’re for cards:

I thought they’d be nice for beginners workshops too. I put a few offcuts to one side while I was sorting, and made a new camera bag. I’ve been using my ‘prototype’ for at least 18 months to see how well it wore.  I suppose it’s two-sided/reversible, but I put the zip so that really this is the front:

I still like the back though, and can flip it if I feel like a change:

While the machine was out, I made a little coin pouch from an offcut:

How two small things can create such a mess though, is a mystery!

Little Steps

Little Steps

Between recuperating and traveling, I haven’t done much heavy felting lately.

I have been doing  some small projects to try to stay in touch with fibers.

The one felt project I did do was to make some felted rocks for my son Matt in Florida.  Last time he visited us, he was intrigued by the felted rocks I keep in the guest bathroom in a crystal dish that was my mother in laws.  Since I had made his wife, Lia, a clutch purse, I thought I would do something for him.

20151130_133447 20151201_155954I used different wools, silk throwsters waste, silk roving and yarns to embellish them.

I didn’t find the right dish before I brought them down there, but will look on our next trip.

While I was doing a little felting, I decided to try felting some soaps.  I had never done it before and had bought several bars of Yardley soaps. (Purple and Blue on top.)

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One was English lavender and the other aloe.  Both were very fragrant to the point I had to put them in another room to dry. Too perfumy for my taste.

I have a small pillow I use to sit on at my vanity.  I had some matching old sheets and decided to make two covers for them. Yes, I could have felted a cover, but I wasn’t ready.  Besides I feel guilty about my Pfaff sewing machine sitting idle. So, I cut out two cases, stitched them and added a design just for fun.

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What projects have you been working on since the New Year started?

 

A Peek at the Knitting and Stitching Show in London 2015

A Peek at the Knitting and Stitching Show in London 2015

Our guest artist/author/photographer today is Leonor Calaca from Felt Buddies.

If you’re in Europe and a fibre aficionado, you’ve probably heard of the Knitting & Stitching Show. It happens in a few different locations and dates in the UK, and is probably the largest fabric/fibre event in Europe when hosted in Alexandra Palace here in London.

As it happens, the Alexandra Palace (or Ally Pally as it’s also known) is only 45 minutes away, on foot, from my place; as it happens as well, I’ve been volunteering for the past two years as a member of the London Guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers, to work a few hours a day at a booth that serves as a hub for all such UK guilds. Not because I’m such a wonderful and helpful person, mind you, but because this means I get a free pass to come and go anytime during those 5 days (and, at £16 for entry only, I think it’s well worth my time).

Last year I got all mesmerised by the fibres and materials I saw, and almost went bankrupt. This year I decided to be good,  more sensible and buy only the things I absolutely needed, which worked to an extent. I also decided to focus more on my energy on the really good exhibitions, and that’s what I’m going to write about.

Let’s start with an embroidery. How lovely and detailed is that?

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Art wasn’t just in 2D, the sculptures were very interesting as well.

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A glass and wool sculpture by Helen Pailing. She aims to use remnants from the glass and wool industry and incorporate them in a way that makes them not only art, but something you can keep instead of take to a landfill.

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The Wishing Tree by Eileen McNulty. Just look at those little details.

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I don’t know the author of this one, but here is ‘Palace,’ made with cocoon stripping paper and silk organza. The theme of this booth was vessels.

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Elena Thomson embroidered a sieve. Would you have thought of that? I think this would be wonderful to confuse old ladies.

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‘Stumpwork’ by Alana Chenevix-Trench.

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And a lovely sheep by Margarita O’Byrne.

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Then I went to Studio Art Quilt’s Associates (SAQA) booth that just blew my mind. I had no idea these detailed works of art could be made in that technique. The theme was Food For Thought and this is ‘Mushroom Frittata’ by Jean Sredi.

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‘Pepitas’ by Vicky Bahnhoff.

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‘Yum! Pineapple Upside Down Cake’ by Diane Powers-Harris. Yes, this is still a quilt.

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‘Il Mercato’ by Jeannie Moore

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‘Elegant Edibles’ by Jennifer Day.

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Who doesn’t love dolls?

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This one was my favourite: what a grumpy face.

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These two sculptures surprised me, as they’re made from a traditional paper folding technique native to the Philippines.

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And I saved the best for last: a fishmongers called Kate’s Plaice! Everything you see here is either knitted or sewn, and the details just make it extraordinary.

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The artist herself.

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Did you go to the K&S? What caught your eye? And am I going mad for taking more time to look at art instead of yummy yarn?

Thank you Leonor for taking us on this great fibre adventure!

Not quite what I’d imagined

Not quite what I’d imagined

I mentioned the other day that I’ve been working on Ann’s Abstract Challenge. I had a folder full of ideas and photos that I’d worked on, but couldn’t quite see how they’d translate into felt or maybe fabric. After looking at the photos with me, my girlfriend suggested looking at something more simple and bold, like maybe a cup. So I started looking at different photos, found some with simpler shapes and lines, bolder features. One that I really liked was a simple photo of a shell. It was almost colourless so I gave it a blue tint.

I then played around with it until I was happy with an abstract design.

This seemed like a perfect picture to try with my idea of layering organza. So I worked out how many layers I’d need and what shapes those layers would need to be. I wanted a black background, so I thought it’d be a good idea to have a base layer of white felt the same shape as the first organza layer.

I then made the shapes into outlines, so I could print them out and trace the shapes onto the pieces of organza for cutting out.

I chose the colours of organza I liked and layered them together to see if they would work.

I then traced all the outlines onto the organza pieces and cut them out. It was then that I started to realise this wouldn’t be quite as simple as I’d first thought. Some of the organza was very thin and distorted while I traced, so I had to re-do a couple of pieces.

Layering the shapes together wasn’t easy either, they just wanted to slide about, so I started with sewing the first couple of layers together. That seemed to go alright. It wasn’t looking as tidy as I’d hoped-the organza was fraying, but the abstract design had outlines around the sections/layers, so I hoped these would hide the edges. When I started to add the 3rd and 4th layers, my sewing machine (hand cranked ancient Singer 🙂 ) started to make weird noises. When I looked at the back of the piece, it was a mess, all the thread from the spool had looped up underneath. I don’t know if there was a tension problem, but I decided to abandon it as a failure.

I left it on my work table and tried to think of other ways I could interpret the design with the supplies I’ve got, but all I could think of was using 5 shades of blue cotton fabric, which I don’t have. Looking at it in daylight this morning, it didn’t look quite as bad as it did yesterday, so I decided to put a bit of effort into finishing it. I had to patch up the second layer, as it had frayed so much it wasn’t attached at the edges. I also had to recut the top layer as when I was sewing it on by hand, the thread caught on it and tore it. It didn’t really turn out how I’d expected and hoped it would, (maybe some fabric stiffener and a bigger scale would help?) but it wasn’t the complete disaster I thought it was yesterday 🙂

How would you have interpreted the abstract shell picture differently? Would you have used different fabrics, or maybe wet felted or needlefelted the design? If you’d like to use the design, please feel free to do so. I’d love to see what you come up with.

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