Thursday, May 26, 2011

New birds

These guys came to the tree outside our kitchen today in a big flock, going crazy for some berries.

Beautiful birds, aren't they? They're called Cedar Waxwings. I found them on the Indiana Audubon Society website here.

Embroidery Inspiration!

It's time to get started on embroidering the neckline of my linen dress, but I was having trouble finding just the right pattern. After doing lots of searches on Etsy and Google Images, I stumbled across Carina's Craftblog. Check this out:

Or how about this...

I love her work! It looks (to me anyway) like her stitches are fairly simple, but she uses such beautiful detailed designs in such wonderful colors that they become a work of art. Carina also has many tutorials online, several eBooks to teach beginners how to embroider, and patterns for sale.

I also found this:

Checkout Girl - doodle stitching
All she did was put some cotton on a hoop, sketch with a pencil, and started stitching. And look how beautiful! Is it really as easy as that? Well, I'm sure this takes practice, but it seems very doable. So with these websites for inspiration, I'm going to tackle drawing my own pattern for my dress neckline. Something doodly, with simple stiches, and hopefully lots of personality. We'll see how I do.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

THE DRESS - a saga

A long time ago, way back in the before time, I fell in love with this pattern from Burdastyle:
It's so billowy and summery and romantic. So breezy! So cool!

This was last summer, and I couldn't get the pattern out of my head. Then, months later on a trip to Louisville, Josh kindly allowed me to spend some time at Hancock Fabrics (which is as good as it gets within two hours of Bloomington), and I came home with some beautiful soft, soft, soft, linen in a light blue than verged on aqua. Here it is, and please excuse the poor photo. I'm not sure how to best photograph fabrics.

You'll just have to take my word for it. It's very lightweight, for linen at least, and soft as a baby blanket. Really. It feels wonderful. So with this beautiful fabric in hand and the pattern of desire in mind, I became transfixed on the idea of melding the two into one.

Now you may be thinking, "Are you delusional? That fabric is still way to heavy to handle all those pintucks (or whatever-you-call-ums)." And you are probably right. The linen is still not as lightweight as the cotton in the photo. Could it handle all those tiny tucks? With the school year underway and no time to actually sew, I literally spent the better part of a year debating and anguishing over this dilemma. Until I found this pattern:

Simplicity 8236
Kinda similar, right? Not as many tucks, and maybe more feasible in this fabric. But wait! I really wanted that scoop neck, the crocheted flowers on the collar, all the details of the original pattern. It was so perfect. Could I really settle for a substitute?


So, as foolish as this might seem for someone who has yet to sew a single truly successful garment (aside from some bloomers maybe), I decided to do a pattern mashup AND teach myself embroidery so that I can make this dress exactly how I envisioned. Maybe I'm crazy, but I'm taking this so slowly it just might work. I made a muslin over spring break:

Well let's face it. It's not spectacular. But it's also made from some cotton which (although it looks beautiful) is not suitable for actually wearing. Screw you Joann fabrics. There. I said it. But the overall fit is okay, and it will probably hang much nicer when it's in my beautiful linen and when my arms aren't in the air like an idiot. Also, this one was before I decided to do the mashup, and it doesn't have the scooped neck. While I don't have a photo for it now, I successfully managed to do the scoop neck on this pattern and have cut out and sewn up the front of the dress in the linen - hooray! It could have gone horribly, but it didn't. But now I can't move forward til I learn to embroider. Which brings us to this:

Anchors away!
and with a hunky arm to fill it out...

My first embroidery project. A pinup sailor girl from Sticher's Revolution SR10 Sailor's Delight on a shirt that probably cost about a dollar at Salvation Army. Let me just say, embroidery is probably one of the easiest crafts to pick up. You don't need a lot of supplies, it's not very expensive, and doing something like this is relatively simple. I'm not saying I'm a pro already, but I think this looks decent and means I can move forward on embroidering the neckline of my linen dress. There is a little puckering here, and I'm worried about stretching the linen with an embroidery hoop, but I will find a way to tackle that. There's plenty of resources online on how to execute different embroidery stitches. Here's one I found useful: Needle 'n Thread. I also discovered a blog which specializes in embroidered pinups, which is awesome: Sew Lovely Embroidery. They also have an Etsy shop where you can purchase their lovely patterns, which are so much better than the cutesy barfy stuff you find elsewhere. And then there's also Sublime Stitching, which has great resources, transfer patterns, and books to help you out. I purchased one used off of Amazon to get me going.

This post is getting way to long, and I need to wake Josh up and go jogging and not sit on this couch all day. But I did tell you it's a saga. To sum it up...

This dress is gonna happen, even if it takes all summer.
Embroidery is my new friend. It's relaxing, portable, easy to do while watching a show. I highly recommend giving it a shot.

The next installment - hopefully I will choose a design for embroidering my dress and have more photos to show.

Summer Productivity

Well, it's been a ridiculously long time since I last posted anything, but that's to be expected given the demands of school. I really have zero time for creativity between September and May, with the exception of spring and winter break. I'm sorry for the long absence, but not too sorry since I know only a few family and friends are following and no one is impatiently hitting the refresh button on their browser, anxiously awaiting my next post. But just in case you were....

Ta da!

This is a lampshade project I finished back in January, in the days before the semester got out of control. In fact, as I was finishing it Josh was shaking his head because we had only a few minutes to get me to class. But I'm pretty happy with the painstaking time I spent. The elephant and map images were once a single piece of paper, which I hacked into carefully chosen shapes to fit together like a mosaic on the lampshade. This took a lot of planning. I had to make a template of the lamp first, using wrapping paper.

Then I had to cut shapes from the elephant paper than would contour to one another and fit together like puzzle pieces, starting with the elephant who was the main focus.

Yeah, can you tell how complicated this got? I had to label each individual piece of mosaic on my template and on the piece of paper itself. Then I wrapped the template around the inside of the lamp as a guide, and glued the pieces (with Modge Podge again) onto the outside of the lamp.

Even with all this careful planning it didn't come out just right, and I had to trim a lot of pieces to get them to fit and ended up with wider gaps than I had intended. Overall, though, I'm quite happy with how it turned out. Now all it needs is some gold braid trim around the top and bottom. Maybe that'll get done by the end of summer.... maybe.