beading it old school!

I recently went through my entire stash of jewelry–partially to untangle the huge mess of necklaces in preparation for actually getting some organization going with those, partially to see if I could find the missing half of the pair of lapis lazuli earrings that I bought while I was in Chile. (I have a habit of buying jewelry as souvenirs. Yes, I did find the missing earring, thankfully.) While I was at it, I pulled out all of the jewelry that I really didn’t care if I kept or that had broken, separating it out into what I’m going to fix and what I’m going to cannibalize for parts. Most of the latter were things I made back in high school, so I thought it would be fun to do a little retrospective on some of my personal vintage crafts.

I used to do a lot more stuff with seed beads, though I prefer the chunkier ones now. But the black and white broken daisy chain necklace has a pretty funny story behind it. In my high school, there was this rule that you had to stay until the very end of the period for finals, no matter how early you finished. So knowing that my civics final was going to be ridiculously easy and I’d have lots of free time, I came prepared with this necklace that I was working on. (Figured I could still talk to friends and do that, as opposed to reading a book.) Apparently some of my classmates were fascinated by that…there was this one boy (the one that pretty much every girl in my class had a crush on at one time or other, because he was one of the better-looking and friendlier guys in the class) who asked me to show him how to do it, and then proceeded to make one of the daisies himself! Much to my amusement.

The black and red cat necklace was intended to be worn at Homecoming during my junior year, but didn’t work at all with the mandarin neckline of my Chinese-style dress. So I just wore the matching earrings instead.
And then these were some of the earrings I wore a lot, along with my go-to brown necklace back then. It’s hard to see, but the third earring from the left was a recycle job–one of my friends came to school one day and handed me a whole bag of jewelry that she didn’t want anymore, saying she knew I’d be able to come up with something crafty to do with it. I’d probably still wear that one if I had the other earring, actually, but that one got lost. Same with the black and silver ones next to it, but the larger black beads were plastic and the finish is chipping off from use now.

So I guess compared to my more recent jewelry, it’s easy to see how I’ve improved!

I forgot to mention…

I kind of spontaneously decided to sign up for another Pattern Review class. This one is all about dealing with knit fabrics, which really excites me because while I’ve gotten pretty decent at finishing wovens and making them look good, knits are something that’s still a bit tricky for me, even though it’s gotten a LOT better since getting the serger! Especially in things like hemming them, reconstructing them in situations where sometimes there’s different knit fabrics involved (and sometimes even some wovens), things like that. So I’m looking forward to learning about things like when to use the regular machine vs. the serger, what sort of needles I should be using, etc. Plus the class starts in February and ends in early March, which means the same timeframe as when I’m not working at the garden center again yet, and therefore I can probably stay on top of the classwork a lot easier than I could for the skirt muslin class! So I think I’m going to hold off on any knit-sewing projects until after this class. But that’s ok, because I’ve still got bibs to sew (cut out as of last night), a quilt to quilt, and a bunch of curtains to make.

Speaking of knits, I had a really odd dream last night–I dreamed that on Project Runway, the judges were making them include knitting samples along with their finished garments and judging them based on how well they did their knitting, and Michael Kors was saying something about they should be able to knit their own fabric or they weren’t really worth much as a designer, and he also commented about the girl that got cut that she could take some time to sit down and knit 2-3 times a week. And it was making me wonder if I should attempt to take up knitting again! Subconsciously, of course….now that I’m awake, I know I have enough crafty hobbies!

Recent happenings…

1. The big news: As of today, the quilt/bedspread top is done! I know these pics probably aren’t the best due to lack of natural light and such, and I still need to press the seams and trim the excess off the top and bottom borders, but I couldn’t wait.

2. As of Sunday, the future baby bibs are all screenprinted, though still awaiting heat-setting and other necessary things to turn them into actual bibs. Like, you know, cutting and sewing. In the process, I learned several things…
-Yes, Mod Podge/nylon screens can successfully be used a second time after washing. (Whew!)
-If you’re going to use them for more than one print in a sitting, it’s probably a good idea to check the side that will be touching the fabric for accidental ink blots before making that second print. (Oops.)
-It’s also a good idea to keep a small paintbrush handy to fill in any screening gaps.
-Screenprint ink works decently with rubber stamps, too. (I had the idea to try that for the lettered ones, since I did NOT want to make screenprints for all those little letter spaces!) However, it doesn’t coat very solidly, so that paintbrush will be needed again.

3. Once again, I’m rethinking my position on trying to make some handicrafts to sell. With different motives this time–ever since this earthquake happened in Haiti, I’ve been thinking it might be nice if I could do something like that on a nonprofit sort of basis. Like donate the profits to people who really need it. My church has gotten pretty involved in the last couple of weeks with an organization called Double Harvest that’s down there, due to some family connections. They’re hoping it’ll be a long-term involvement, since the earthquake is going to cause long-term issues in Haiti. And they’re also hoping to get involved in building some overseas orphanages in places that really need it, stuff like that. I think I’d feel more excited about the prospect of making something to sell if it was for helping with things like that–I can’t necessarily help with construction of buildings or give medical aid or anything like that, but it’s a way to donate my time and resources. (Plus I figure since the most likely thing I’d be able to do something with is jewelry, I could reap the benefit of using up the leftovers of my old projects and therefore do some much-needed stash reduction!) Definitely something to think about…

Thank you, Burda…

…for renewing my faith in your magazine. Good thing, since I took the chance to renew it!

I have to admit, I’ve been feeling rather ambivalent towards the last couple of issues– I could generally find one or two things I liked, but overall I was pretty uninspired. But I got my new issue today and found a lot that I liked!

1. Loving this A-line skirt–a good basic silhouette that could go with so much, and it has pockets. That just makes me so happy. And in evaluating my wardrobe, I’ve been thinking I need a basic black A-line skirt, so this could be just the thing.
2. Speaking of basics, I could see myself getting some use out of this blouse as well.
3. I love raglan-sleeve tops, so I think this one will definitely get made! It looks like I could whip it up in no time with my serger.
4. For the first time, I’m actually considering trying a pair of their pants.
5. Isn’t this jacket just so cute? Loving the wide obi-like belt, and seriously wondering if I have anything in my stash that would do it justice.

The site’s not showing pictures for everything, but there was also an adorable 50s-style cropped jacket that I wish so much wasn’t a petite pattern, a suede jacket that I really liked the silhouette of, and another knit top (this one with some bustline gathering) that I think could be a great layering piece…but not in a stripey knit like they did both samples in! So considering that the January issue had only two things I’d even really consider making (ok, with the exception that if I was in the market for a new backpacking fleece, which I’m not, I’d consider this one), I’d say this was a good improvement. Here’s hoping next month keeps up the trend (we’ll see, since it’s the wedding dress issue….)

branching out

As part of my self-imposed (or self-inflicted, if you prefer) wardrobe project, I’m making more of a conscious effort to put complete outfits together with thoughtfully-chosen accessories. (Wow, I sound so Tim Gunn there.) Since the majority of my accessories have been in a big tangled mess for the last several months, my first major attempt at this has been assembling an outfit for the wedding I’m attending this weekend. It’s the first wedding I’ve been to since just after college where I wasn’t either working as a musician or helping out as a bridesmaid, and the whole winter thing has made it a bit of a challenge. All in all, I’ve ended up with a completely new outfit for this, which I’m hoping to get a good picture of this weekend so I can post it up here at some point. But along with the dress came the realization last week or so that I didn’t really have any good jewelry on hand that would go with it… oh darn, I’d have to make something. Fortunately, I was able to go with stuff that I basically had on-hand.

With the binding at the neckline the way it was, I didn’t think my usual go-to necklace length (a choker) would work so well, so I decided to go trendy and make one of those longer necklaces that’s in style at the moment. I had these textured metal rings that I picked up recently (on clearance!), and basically just put them together in a pattern, attaching them with those key ring-esque jump rings so it would stay together well. And then decided last night that just one big long loop of it was boring, so I added the additional piece close to the neck so it looks more like a choker anyway. Oh well–at least I’m somewhat branching out from my usual style choices! (And mode of crafting– I’ve been wanting to try some more work with wire and metals and such instead of just stringing beads all the time!) And then I made the matching earrings, and only have two rings left over. Which is actually pretty good for me.
And here’s a close-up of the texture.

I’ve been thinking lately too about how to get these jewelry pieces in some kind of organization so I can actually start wearing them all again, and I may have an idea, so I’ve been killing some of my pre-teaching time today with untangling my necklaces in my box and taking a bit of an inventory so I can figure out how to make this work (and what pieces I need to fix while I’m at it–the tangle box has caused several casualties). While I was at it, I did a quickie upgrade– I had this ball chain that I used to wear in my punkier moods as a teen, and this pendant I got off of Etsy awhile back that didn’t really have a home. I think they make a cute couple.

I think it’s working!!

The results of my screenprinting test. They’re a little more pixellated-looking than I’d prefer (particularly the tree), though I don’t think I can do anything about that because it’s just the nature of the nylon. And obviously I need to fill in a couple of tiny holes. But the ink went on fine, if not a little puffier than I anticipated (it looks like it dried flat), the screens rinsed off fine, and though they smell a bit like wet Mod Podge again, they seem like they’ll be ok for another useage. I love when my crafty experiments work out! So the baby gifts are a go!

(And no, these samples will not go to waste…I used scraps of leftover fabric from my in-progress bed quilt, and so I think some nice little fabric coasters will be just the thing for this room.)

Crafty progress!

I actually did get a couple of scrapbook pages done over the last couple of days–ones that I’d had pretty much ready to assemble since last February. I think that’s the best way to go for me– just have all the writing and such ready to go, and then I can just sit down and throw them together quickly. Anyway, here they are.

Both of these are catching up from 2008– this first one is some nature-ish pictures from a park when I was hanging out with a friend. I had fun using the extra piece of the printed paper as embellishments.

And then this second was from a family trip to the beach, which was a little more time-consuming to get ready, mainly due to the little wood-printed paper frames that I made and the little crab sticker (barely visible in the corner.) The swirls were kind of a last-minute addition because it just needed something.

I’ve also managed to get the alterations done on both my dress that I’m wearing for next weekend’s wedding, and C’s bridesmaid dress. So here’s my current project–I’m trying my hand at some screenprinting so I can make some fun baby gifts for a fellow Lord of the Rings-obsessed friend. I’m using the Threadbanger tutorial on how to do it inexpensively with recycled nylons and Mod Podge. So far I’m still in the screen-making stage. Believe it or not, this is the less intricate of the two designs I’m attempting to screenprint! And it looks a little funny right now since this was the in-progress pic and I went around the tree first, so by the time I got to the outer parts, that was mostly dry. Obviously it needs a second coat to fill in the rest of those holes, since trying to go over most of them while wet before was just pushing the glue out of other holes and leaving new holes. (And don’t mind the blue smudge…I was experimenting with what to use to trace the designs onto the nylon with, and obviously it’s a good thing I didn’t go with that pen!) I guess now that I’m pretty much done eating lunch, I should get back to work–the natural light is being very helpful, and I’d like to utilize as much of that as possible while I’m doing the intricate outlining! But I’m looking forward to (and a little nervous about) seeing how these will turn out.

On a random note, new Project Runway! So far, it looks like this batch of designers is going to be way more interesting than last season’s. And I did like the winning dress from this week.

I almost forgot….last project of 2009!

Since she sometimes stalks this blog, I couldn’t show what I made for my best friend for Christmas until after I gave it to her. Back around her birthday, she asked if I could make some beaded earrings for her–of course, at that point I didn’t have time because of work, and I’d already ordered her a gift off of Etsy. So I decided to do that for Christmas instead.

There’s six pairs altogether. I think my favorite ones are the second from the left– I had a couple of beads left over from the tan necklace I made for my mom a couple of Christmases ago, and she’s an avid crocheter, so I couldn’t resist the opportunity to give her crocheted earrings!

I was also pretty proud of my packaging. Earlier in December I had a mad rush to get everything possible out of my old room and into the new, because we had to get it ready for some relatives to stay in there. While I was in the process of doing that, I found my iPod box. Figured I don’t need that anymore, because the only reason I’m going to get rid of this iPod is because I’m either going to wear it out, or completely run out of room. (It gets a LOT of use, and does occasionally glitch on me. Surprisingly, I haven’t managed to fill all 80 gigs yet. But given my addiction to finding new music, I’m sure the day will come.) Anyway, I cut a piece of cardboard, covered it with scrap wrapping paper, stuck that in the box, punched some holes in it with a bigger needle, and stuck the earrings in. Makes for a nice presentation, I think!

Aside from that, I’ve been hemming a bridesmaid dress for the same friend (we have a mutual friend who’s getting married next weekend, and C’s in the wedding), and altering my own dress for it, which was a little too big at the waist. I’m also hoping to get some good time in this weekend to do some prepwork for a baby gift I need to make, and then after that, it’s back on the room decorating.

I’m also in kind of a scrapbookish mood- new year, renewed feeling that I’m WAY behind on my albums and need to do some work on them! I actually got out my supplies the other night to make some embellishments that I could just have on hand to use for pages…and discovered that in order to feel inspired to actually make page decorations, I need to have a page to make them for. So then it switched to more of an organizational thing–sorting through some paper scraps to get rid of the unusably tiny ones (ok, so “getting rid of” means “putting them in a box so I can make some paper out of them later”) and going through my stack of photos that I’ve pulled papers out for in order to figure out layouts and what I might want to do to decorate them. I think that’ll help some. So you may actually see some progress on those in the quasi-near future.

My first finished project of 2010!

For the uninitiated, this is what’s known as a TARDIS–from the updated version of Doctor Who. My friend Tracey is getting married in two weeks, and she’s a big fan of the show–it was often a common pick for her, Cassie and I during our crafty weekends. And she got her fiance hooked on it– I was hanging out with them last week for New Year’s Eve, and I heard the theme song quite a bit because he made it his ringtone! So this is part of their wedding gift. (Don’t worry, I got them something off the registry too–a kitchen timer. Figure it fits with the whole “time lord” theme. 😉

I got the idea and a basic tutorial from the craft:g33k blog. Ended up having to do mine a little differently–there weren’t any measurements, and so I made the outer pieces a bit too big by accident. (And didn’t figure it out until after all of the little door bits were reverse appliqued and the police box signs were on, so I couldn’t make them any smaller. So I ended up adding a couple of layers of some leftover quilt batting (thanks, Mom!) Which makes it a little puffier than it probably should have been, especially around the base, but at least the tissue box isn’t going to fall out! I also ended up doing some slightly different things in the construction, mostly in terms of machine sewing more things and the signs going on before the whole box was constructed. I also wrote the signs using a paint pen, and did the stitching on the windows by machine, instead of embroidering them–what can I say, I’m lazy. The hardest part was undoubtedly sewing the base on–the cardboard made it tough!

So that’s that. Now I just need to hem and alter my best friend’s bridesmaid dress, alter my own non-bridesmaid dress so it fits my waist better, make some baby gifts/3 sets of curtains/a bunch of pillows/finish my quilt, and then I can get back to crafty life as usual!