Friday, February 25, 2011

This week...

This week has been kind of a slump for me, creativity wise.  The only thing I've created this week was this baby goat I made for my mom on Monday.  I've posted the little girl on Etsy as well, for custom versions.  You can see the listing here.

My mom, who has her own blog, has a small farm in Southeast Missouri where she raises nubian goats, rabbits, gardens, and knits among other things.  Due to the variety of things they do on the farm, its called Patchwork Acres.  She also makes and sells goat milk soaps at local farmers markets and craft shows.   So I decided to take the name of the farm and their main export so to speak, to make her a cute little companion for the long days at markets!  I liked it so much I've decided to sell them.  I'm also thinking about putting together a tutorial/pattern to make them yourself.  If you are interested, leave me a comment!  I may be looking for people to preview the tutorial and give me feed back before I publish it.

Besides the goat, I've started another tote thats similar to my pirate tote.  This one will have butterflies however.

This week has felt really slow for me.  Maybe I'm not sleeping enough.  I haven't really felt inspired to create anything beyond the goaty.  Usually I get at least one really good idea that sustains me until I create it and I get super excited about it.  I really hope that this weekend offers me plenty of rest and relaxation and hopefully some renewed inspiration.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

2011 Arizona Renaissance Faire

I love Renaissance Faires, probably because I also love history and am a bit of a nerd.  Okay, a huge nerd.  I found the faire last year, while looking for things my then boyfriend and I could do over a long weekend in February.  I looked over the web site and thought it would be fun to go.  So we did, and it was fun, even though we didn't buy or do that much.   This year we decided to step it up a notch and not only go to the faire, but also get tickets to the pleasure feast.

This whole weekend has been fantastic and its only a little over half done.  I had friday off from school (teacher in service that I wasn't required to attend) but I didn't get much done during the day, between a 5.1 earthquake and napping.  I did make a simple cover for my sewing machine, but thats about it.  When my hubbs got done with the in service, we went with some friends for an early dinner at Ninja Sushi.  The place isn't too bad for a sushi restaurant in the desert, 300 miles from any water.

When we got back from lunch, I decided I wanted a different bag for the Ren Faire so I got out the left over plaid and some drill to whip up a smallish across the body shoulder bag.  I had to make it quickly, so I didn't add any frills, no pockets, no special design elements.  The most time consuming part was the the rounded sides/bottom.

I actually really like the basic design, especially for something I made on the fly. 

Skipping on to the next day, we woke up to the first rain Yuma has had since about mid December.  It figures, the one day we decide to do something outdoors it has to rain.  Fortunately, we knew it was going to happen and were ready for it, umbrellas in hand.  It rained for about the first hour of the drive to Phoenix and the scenery was gorgeous!
The scenery from the car.  You don't see these kinds of clouds over the desert very often!

Once we got the Faire, we had time to kill before the pleasure feast, so we wandered around until we found the glass blowers shop.  I'm really glad we found it when we did, because it was raining hard by the time we finished the feast.  The guy who runs that shop did a demonstration for us!  It was really neat.  While he was working he went into some of the science of glass and the different colors as well as the history of glass.  I really enjoyed that, and you could tell he was very well spoken and very educated about his craft.
This is a vase!  After this, they added a handle and put it in a cooling chest, to ya know, cool.
After the demonstration was finished, we were off to the pleasure feast.  Sadly, the camera didn't like the lighting in the hall, and none of the pictures we took turned out.  It was a lot of fun though.  We raised a renaissance ruckus through the whole show.  The feast master's character was a very bawdy Scotsman, which was contrasted with the "Lord of Leftovers" character of a proper Englishman.  The two characters where at odds in the show till the end.  There was a visit from the king, singing, juggling, belly dancing, and a very good pipes and drums band for the entertainment.

The rain started shortly after the feast ended, and we spent the rest of the Faire walking around with umbrellas and feeling a bit sorry for the vendors and actors/employees who were out and about, not able to use them.  My husband absolutely loved walking around in the rain.  We saw quite a few interesting characters, like this fairy, and the group of Kings men, warming themselves by the fire.

Isn't she adorable?

They do look pretty miserable...
We also did a decent bit of shopping.  We got a red sycamore hand turned walking stick, a painted shield with a lion rampent, matching stoneware goblets, a blue dragon painting signed by the artist (Ruth Thompson, a very nice lady and very talented fantasy artist, you can see her work here) and I picked up a very nice red tapestry bodice.  Its not quite the corset I was after, but I really liked the design and material.  Now I just need to make the rest of the outfit!

Besides pursuing the various wares, my husband tried his hand at axe throwing.  He actually won!  The goal was to get one of the axe points in the heart on the board.  He did it with his last axe, and was the first winner of the day.
One of the nice things about the rain is that it allowed us to actually get to talk to a lot of the venders.  We spent about half an hour talking to some of the folks from sabersmiths, who were very nice.  Their work is very high quality.  We almost bought a dagger, and would have if they had the colors we were looking for in a decorative piece.  

All and all, it was a great experience, despite the rain.  You always meet some awesome people at these events, and this one was no different.  And, of course, before we left we had the best part of the Ren Faire: Getting my traditional roasted turkey leg!  

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


     The last several days have been arrgh in a couple of ways.  I've been pretty sick since Saturday morning.  I got a nice viral throat thing thats finally gone away and given me my voice back.  Let me tell you, it is hard to keep a room full of high school freshmen under control when you can't talk!  I'm finally feeling better today, thank goodness.  
     There was a bright spot during my sickness... Valentines Day!  My hubby got me the best present ever.  A new sewing cabinet!!  Its great because it folds out and has a shelf for my serger.  I was so excited when it got here that I put it together all by myself in about 4.5 hours, all while being sick.
     My other arrrrgh is much more exciting, however.  I finally got back on the creative train to make something new and had a brilliant idea.   I was sitting at my new sewing table and was messing around with some red plaid canvas with the vague idea to make a lunch bag, when the idea came to me.  I was going to make a reversible pirate tote bag, with the red flannel pirate material I still had.  
     So I got it out, along with some unbleached cotton drill and started to create.  I also decided to try some hand applique to pretty up the drill with a skull and cross bones.   That was both awesome and a pain in the butt.  It took about 3 hours to do (I guess I'm kind of slow...) but it turned out great!
The "outside"
The "inside"
    The bag is reversible, so when the skull and cross bones is on the outside, the pocket is on the inside, and vis versa.

    As soon as I can take some better pictures, I'll be posting it on Etsy. Even though I'm really fond of the bird purse, I'm pretty sure this is my favorite item so far!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Sleepytime Ideas

This post will be posted in two parts.

Part One:  Conception of an Idea

I love when random ideas come to me in the night.  Or, in the case of this particular idea, when I randomly wake up at 5 am with a mega sore throat.  As I was trying to go back to sleep, I thought to myself, "What if I make a bag that looks like a school girl skirt?"  At this time, 7:53 am, I'm still trying to figure how in the world I came up with that.  It sounded really odd at the time, almost as odd as the dream I was having before waking up (it involved basket ball players and corsets...).  Now that I think about it though, the whole 'school girl' thing is pretty popular, and I just bought some 2 and bit yards of plaid last weekend.  I'm pretty sure this is the project to start it out.  Lucky for me, Hubbs is out all morning so I have the next 5 hours all to myself, the machines and the fabric.  Whoohoo!

Part Two:  The Manifestation of the Idea
Well... the idea didn't manifest the way I had originally intended.  In fact, what I made with the fabric was not a bag, nor did it have pleats.  When I got the fabric out, I took a closer look at it, and found that it was not the kind I thought it was.  It had more stretch than I could work with for a bag.

So, I made the best of it and crafted myself a dress!  Without a pattern, I might add.  Which means I need to do a few adjustments, but I think I'm going to wear it to the Ren Faire next weekend.  Its certainly not period, but it is plaid!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The weekend and more things made!

This weekend was a really busy one, between getting a new dehydrator and trying it out with all the stuff I got from bountiful baskets (which, btw you should check out if its in your area as its a fantastic program), baking a chocolate cake with cream cheese icing, making my soup lunches for the week, sewing, and of course, spending time with my awesome hubbs.  I finally got to go to Joann's Saturday night.  I've been needing a few things, like some elastic and medium weight interfacing.  Its kind of big deal to get to go since I do not drive, and my husband hates going, since I spend and inordinate amount of time wandering around and going "Oooooh, I want that!" or "Isn't this pretty..." while meandering through the aisles, several times, in case I miss anything.  I don't blame him for not wanting to take me at all.

In the end, I spent more than I probably should have, and I forgot to get the elastic and interface.  I got distracted by pirate print, butterflies and the patternbooks.  I finally broke down and actually bought a book on bag making. (This one).  I've made one from it already, which I will post about later.  Since I forgot about the interfacing and elastic, I actually convinced my husband that it was necessary and he grudgingly took me back after our wonderful dinner at Outback.  This time I actually remembered what I came for, along with picking up a few extras.  The nice lady at the cut counter remembered that I just been there since we chatted for a while when I was there earlier.  She laughed at me when I said I got distracted from what I had originally come for.

As far as getting any sewing done, I only really finished one project, and that was the bag from the book I picked up Saturday.  I made it between watching the Super Bowl, fixing guacamole and baking tortilla chips.  The bag is made of the same material as my skirt and hat from the last post.

In other business news, I spoke to my grandmother and she really wants the Spring Bird purse, so I promised to make her one if she would hand out my business card to anyone who commented on it.  She agreed, and knowing my grandma, anyone who even looks at it will get one!  She also told me that the purse I made for one of my cousins as a Christmas gift is is really well liked as well.  The only thing she would change is the length of the strap.  Which is easy enough to change for that design.  I also sent some business cards to my mom, and she can hand them out to craft loving people she knows (and she knows a lot!  Check out her blog)

I think I've written too much... better get back to grading the tests I've put off for more than a week.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Day Off Sewscapades

I woke up yesterday morning at about 3 am with vague feeling of blah.  As I laid back and tried to return to sleep, the feeling of blah became less vague.  By about 3:30 I decided that I needed a day off to myself, and promptly fell back to sleep.  It was a good day to take off, since my students were on a slow part of the lesson and all had a project they could finish without my being there. (Phases of meiosis = boring)

Despite my lack of a decent amount of sleep, I was surprisingly awake when I got up with Hubbs to call in and set up a substitute.  The thought of getting to stay home by myself and sew all day must have been really therapeutic.  I had some lovely soft brown houndstooth and a blazer pattern that had been calling my name for while and I was finally going to get to sit and take a look at it.  I pulled up the pattern on my computer, and after I spent about 30 minutes messing around with it and getting it print, I got around to looking at the actual instructions.  They were a bit more complicated and less detailed than I was prepared to tackle, and I was missing a couple of the notions they called for.  I also kind of hate multiday projects.  If I can't finish something in one day, I start to lose interest.  Unfortunately, I had already printed the 28 page cutout pattern. Ugh.

(If you are interested in the jacket pattern, its a free one from burdastyle, found here.)

Since the jacket was going to be a bust for now, I decided to try making a skirt instead.  With the 28 page pattern already printed and me not wanting to print anything else, I took the patternless rout.  I got out the good old tape measure and started cutting out skirt panels.  I decided to start with a simple 3 pane straight skirt.  I cut one rectangular front panel, and two narrower panels for the back (so I would have a seam for a zipper).  I basted the sides and slipped it on to try out the fit and see what I needed to do to tighten up the top.  I added 2 darts to the back of the skirt on either side of the zipper and angled in the side seams.  Once the fit was good, I put it on the serger and overlocked the seams.  After waltzing around the apartment in the skirt for a while (I was making some barley to go with my mabo tofu for lunch), I figured I should probably add a slit to the back seam so I could walk fast without threatening to rip it.  Once the slit was added, I did a blind hem along the bottom, added a yoyo flower for decoration and it was complete!

In actual time worked, it was probably a 2-3 hour project.  I took lots of breaks and dishes and other kitchen stuff in the middle, so I'm not sure of the exact time.

However, my sewscapades didn't end with the skirt... I also made a hat!  I was browsing around on burda again and found this.  I decided to give it a try as I still had lots of the brown houndstooth left.  The hat was super easy and fairly cute.  The only thing I don't like about it is the pointiness of the bottom ends of the seams.  If I make it again, I'll be sure to sew it up so that doesn't happen. 
Once I finished the skirt and the hat, I decided to try my hand at making a pair of underwear.  Not going to post a picture of the results however, cause it was kind of ugly.  I suppose 2/3 successful projects in a day is a pretty good day for a beginner sewer.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Photostory: The Wave and The Creative Process

This is a photostory rather than a tutorial, to document my creative process and reflect on it.   Think of it as a "pre tutorial".  I may, at a later date, make an actual tutorial of this pattern.
The process:
I sat down last night with the fabric and pondered what I wanted to do with it.  I've had this fabric for about five months now.  I picked it up at Joann's when I very first bought my sewing machine because I was totally enamored with it.  But I was afraid to use it right away with my mere beginner's sewing skills.   It's siren's call finally got the best of my sewing insecurities and I got it out.
The fabric!

I usually start my original projects at my desk, rather than at the sewing table.  This one was no different.

I sat down with my trusty tea cup and a packet of gummies to sketch out my general idea.  I almost never have a fully concrete idea when I sketch, or even when I'm actually working on the project.  I have ideas, but they are not realized until the project is actually finished.

Once I've sketched enough, I actually use my sketch paper to cut out my pattern pieces (if they fit, this one did).  As you can see from my pattern, I was planning darts at the bottom of the purse.  You may not be able to make it out, but I also have small marks at the top for pleating.  Along with the body of the purse, I have an idea of how long I want the strap to be and that I want a strip to go around the top.
With my idea and pattern in hand, I can move to the sewing table and start cutting things out.  

I cut out both the front and back of the bag in one go.  For now, I've left the dart cuts alone, which will turn out to be a really good idea. If I had really been thinking, I probably could have cut out the satin lining at the same time as well.

There's a step in here I didn't photograph, but I did cut out some heavy fusible interfacing and line the back of the wave fabric.

Next I got to the actually sewing.  I started by sewing the darts I had planned.  However, I didn't like how they looked, so I took them out and decided to just stick with the pleats at the top.   Thinking about it now, I may use pleats like this as a corner element in the future.  
Another not shown step: I serged the two outside pieces together.

That was as far as I could get with out cutting out my lining and serging those together as well.

I made a handle by cutting out a 2.5 inch wide, 16 inch long strip of the same satin as the lining, folding it, serging the open side, pressing it, and using the regular machine to stitch up both sides.  Here are all the pieces (minus the top "lip" which caused me some issues)

I attached the handle to the "lip" with the serger, and then sewed on the lip over the edges of the top of the bag, and voilá!  Presto!  Bago!

Aaand done.  This finished product is not the end of the creative process as even as I'm writing this, more ideas of how to tweak and improve the design are coming to me.  I will be putting this lovely little bag up on Etsy as soon as I have some better lighting (aka morning) in which to photograph it.

Any and all comments are welcome!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Etsy Posty: Wow, I've been featured in my first treasury!

Click here to see the treasury

I'm so excited, this is the first time any of my items have been featured in a treasury.  

Big thanks to Dylandogleash for the inclusion!   Click here to give her shop some love too!  Her needle felted bowls are lovely.  I know, cause I used to needle felt too.  I may pick it up again if I can get my mom to send me my needles.

In other news, I'm currently putting together a picture-story to show my creative process as I make a new purse from my own pattern.