(mostly) swappy things

Admittedly, I haven’t been crafting much this week, since I’ve been out a lot of evenings and the holidays and all that. But I have been working on stuff for the photography swap– got two projects done as of tonight and started on a third.

I did get some fun crafty things for Christmas, like a yard of Egyptian-printed fabric in my stocking, and an AC Moore gift card from the cousin who got my name in the swap this year. I also got some beads in my stocking, and used them to make this on Monday (since my grandparents that I see on Christmas live close by and we never go there till the afternoon, and my immediate family opens gifts on Christmas Eve, crafting on Christmas has become a bit of a tradition for me…)

Leave it to Mom…

…to use craftiness to cheer me up. I came home from work on Tuesday very frustrated about how one of my jobs in particular is going. Well, when I got there she was making a whole bunch of soap, trying to use up the melt-n-pour stuff, and pulled me into helping. It actually did the trick, and it was fun making tie-dyed looking soap. Then she came up with the idea to try swirling the colors like I was doing in the shea butter soap in the clear glycerine soap, and the results were rather interesting–swirls of color just suspended in these 3-D layers.

I also started sewing for the swap last night (finally.) Can’t talk about it yet since I have no idea who from craftster might possibly be reading this thing, but it’s turning out well so far, I think.

I was excited to learn that Wardrobe Refashion is going to have a new pledge period starting in about a month. I’ve been wanting to do it since I stumbled across this blog. And I think it’ll be good for me–between the stack of things I have to reconstruct and my growing conviction that I seriously need to use up some of my stash/finish the projects I’ve already bought things for before I buy any more fabric, this might be just the kick in the butt I need to accomplish some of these things.

Ornaments and a bag

As part of my quest to get excited about Christmas this year, I made some ornaments– four of them last Monday night and three of them yesterday:

They’re polymer clay. The designs came from a book of Celtic cross designs that one of my friends gave me awhile back, either for a birthday or Christmas (I can’t remember.) I am giving a few of them away to friends as small gifts(mostly the duplicate color ones, though I’m giving the red one away too), but I’m going to keep three of them, I think.
Also, to give credit where it’s due, the technique I used came from here. Though since I was working on a surface covered with wax paper, I found that carefully lifting and peeling worked to get the clay up very nicely without having to contaminate a spatula.

This is my other recent project, which is for the aforementioned friend (she doesn’t have a link to this blog yet, so I feel pretty safe in posting it.) She’s obsessed with swing dancing, and this fabric has reminded me of her for several months now. It’s just a basic tote bag, lined with the same fabric as is on the base and with a magnetic clasp. I’m hoping she likes it.

I finally am getting started on my photography swap stuff. Went to Joanns’ today to get the last of the supplies, including new supplies for one project because the original plan isn’t going to work.

Have a crafty jolly Christmas…

We finally put the tree up today– due to the family cat being a bit on the schizophrenic side (ok, maybe more than a bit), we’ve been putting it up later and unable to use many of the ornaments we used to because she’s a tree-climber. But we did come across some old ornaments that I needed to add to my personal stash. So in many ways, this post is a tribute to my mom, from whom I picked up most of my craftiness because she was doing stuff with me like teaching me to sew as soon as I was old enough to get how the machine worked.

When I was young, Mom started the tradition of making ornaments each year, and setting one of the resulting ornaments aside for me and one for my brother, so that someday when we both move out we’ll have some ornaments to get started with for our own trees. These were some of the results:

(I think you can tell I’m a child of the 80s based on materials alone, but they’re cute.)

And, of course, as I got older, I began to help her with the ornaments, the earliest ones being these painted ceramic ones.

Of course I jumped all over the Tweety one, because hey, music.

And I also helped with these seashell ones and the elf.

But she still made these ones for us. (I need to fix that bottom one…)

I’m at the point now where I can start making some of my own. Both of these were from a couple years ago– the beaded snowflakes were from a kit (clear on cream background, brilliant of me), and the cat is made from polymer clay, much of which was painted, and a firm belief that Christmas ornaments feature too many trumpets and not enough flutes.

I’m glad for this tradition now– when I eventually have my own tree, I think it’ll be a lot more meaningful to have ornaments with some actual meaning and memory behind them rather than the cookie-cutter storebought ones. And if I ever have kids of my own someday, I hope it’s one I can carry on with them.

On a less nostalgic note, having come to the conclusion that I need my own Christmas tradition anyway, I’m seriously considering making some ornaments for myself as well this year. I hope it’s not too ambitious on my part, as I have Nicole’s present to work on, as well as a need to get started on my swap stuff. I did get some supplies for the main project yesterday. At this point, I’m thinking perhaps I should concentrate on that more after Christmas is done though.

On a non-related note, if anyone who’s familiar with how Blogger works is reading this, can you please explain to me how to avoid getting these stupid huge gaps between things in multiple-picture posts? I’ve been trying with the formatting since I started this blog, and I just can’t seem to get it!

Adventures in serging

Last night was definitely a learning experience. Since the fabric of the skirt I was reconning was very stretchy, I had the thought that maybe serging it would be better than sewing it. My mom allowed me to borrow her old serger, which, fortunately, was already threaded in a color very close to the fabric. It took me a couple experiments with the scraps to figure out how to serge it without the fabric getting stuck. And after several unsuccessful attempts to unscrew the little blade that slices off the fabric as it sews, I discovered that yes, it is possible to move the blade out of the way. (My mom hadn’t known how to do that.)

This is how I’d intended for it to look, albiet inside-out, which is why one piece is much shorter than the other.

I was pretty proud of this, actually– no pattern, I came up with the design just draping it on the dummy, and it was all cute and slinky.

This was how it actually looked, minus the sleeves, which I didn’t bother adding. I’d underestimated how much the knit would stretch out while serging (I’d hoped that would prevent it from doing so as much), and it’s pretty well past the point where folding it under and even hand-stitching it down would help because the fold is very obvious under the fabric. I was playing around with it a bit once I got it to this point, and there’s basically nothing I can do at this point, short of ripping out multiple rows of serging on a slinky stretchy knit, to make it flattering on me. (Part of the problem is also that the front crossover part ended up too high; I’d meant for the angle to cut a bit sharper and go under the bust, not on top of it like that.) But I do still like the concept, so once I get my hands on some less-stretchy knit, I might give it another go. But maybe with a regular sewing machine this time.

(For my personal reference: Approximate shapes of the pieces, though very roughly cut since they were straight off the dummy:)

a bag and an in-progress recon

I finished the bag on Sunday, and I never want to use this pattern again. For some reason, this one ended up being totally confusing, and I could NOT figure out how to keep the seams from being exposed in the more open part. I ended up just hand-sewing some extra fabric over it to compensate.

It’s really hard to see it from the picture, but it has this criss-cross look to it at the top of the bag. I’ll probably take a better picture later, when I can have better lighting for the job.

This is what I’m currently working on– this is the skirt as it was originally, a slinky knit Goodwill find. I just don’t like the way it clings to my hips. I’m turning it into a shirt, which so far looks like this:
It looks a little odd, I’m sure, in the front. That’s because right now it’s pinned together inside out on the dummy. It’s going to be pretty much a mock wrap look. I’m trying to figure out what to do about sleeves, since I’d really prefer not to leave such a slinky knit sleeveless– the armholes will be sagging in no time. I have a piece left from the upper back of the skirt, but once I take the seam in the middle out, it’s going to be way too tight around my arms. The other option is, I’ve got one bias-cut triangle from the part of the wrap section that I’ve trimmed so far, and I’ll have another once I cut the inner part of that off. So I might be able to do a kind of flutter sleeve with it. I’m currently leaning towards the latter just for comfort.

Got another swap to do! This time, a photography one. I have some ideas so far, so hopefully things will come together quickly.

I’ve also pretty much abandoned the etsy idea for now, mainly because it looks like I’m getting another part time job that will require me to get up very, very early, and therefore cut into evening craft time. So maybe it would be better for my mental health to keep the hobby for my own personal enjoyment right now.