Posts Tagged 'sewing'

For want of a horse…

Featherweight in front, Singer 404 slant needle in back.

More like, for want of a [specialized part], I’m putting off servicing the [*&$#@%!!*] sewing machine. We have a second machine that I could get parts for, and I’m going to oil it today. The latest things I need to procure (shopping remains a pain in the neck) …. a small amount of kerosene to clean the gears, and some carnauba wax to polish the outside of the machine. The old manual didn’t talk about these things: it’s almost like the machine is possessed with Loki’s trickster spirit. I sincerely hope not.

This smaller machine is an inherited Featherweight. I added new parts that were missing, so I haven’t had a chance to get it running yet. Fingers crossed it isn’t temperamental. I’ll be working off and on to get it up and running, but only when the kitten is sleeping.

Stitching up the stash

This was going to be a dress.
The universe laughs*.

…. for unexpected reasons. Making masks so I can go out to the grocery store once a week while hopefully keeping other people safe. I’m reading sobering guesstimates about the likely death toll in my state, and my only response is worry about the world in general. So I guess I’m right on schedule, and working around to grief. Maundy Thursday communion over the internet was something new (although the wine was a LOT better). [Insert Dad joke about “Monday, Thursday… what happened to Tuesday and Wednesday?”] Real talk though: it’s worth it. Too many of my friends work in healthcare to risk making their jobs worse.

I’ve been doing virtual traveling: German or UK travel programs are my current favorites. Also a LOT of Time Team archaeology shows from the BBC. I know it’s a privilege that I can stay inside and rot my brains with tv, while our poor bus drivers, grocery clerks, and medical personnel and hospital cleaners have to keep on going out into the unknown for us.

Stitching up the stash uses some of the pretty expensive quilt cottons that never quite made it into a quilt. Once I’m done with a few more of these face coverings, I’m hoping to make the blouse that’s been on the back burner forever. But I may not be that motivated.

So, what’s been on your needles, on your Kindle queue, keeping you occupied indoors, etc.?

* A benefit to wearing a mask outside I hadn’t anticipated – fewer allergy related symptoms. Take that, Bradford pears!

Indoor pursuits

Encinitas Beach, California, painting (postcard sized).

It’s just cold and dark outdoors, without the benefits of snow. Blah. In the evenings, I’ve been indulging in playing with inktense blocks, experimenting with blending colors, making one band of colors blur into another. I’ve also been painting watercolors, using photos from last year’s vacation (thinking about warmer days).

There’s been knitting (Kate Atherley’s Thursday Afternoon Shawl, which is lengthening without getting wider… alarming!) and prepping a new project (balling yarn).

When the kitten is asleep, I’ve been hemming up a skirt (it’s an old 80s skirt, made of lovely material, but very … wide at the hem… so it’s slow). I have added pin pricked fingers to the kitten’s inevitably play marks. Unlike knitting, hand hemming is something I can pause to use the cat dancer toy as a distraction. I’m not sure how to handle the sewing machine around an active kitten (the other cats want the machine to kindly die, and leave me alone), so big sewing projects and printmaking are on pause.

Getting stitchy with it

pjs-fish.jpgI’m sewing up a pair of comfy pjs, using fish-patterned fabric. Unfortunately no serger or attachment for my old Singer to allow me to do an overlock stitch or zigzag*, so I’ve been doing some of the finishing stitches by hand, based on a couture book. But legs are very, very long, as is the outside hem, so I’ve been making up new words for this Fresh Prince classic while I stitch**, and “getting stitchy with it”. It’s taking a while, but better to handstitch on this than work on my knit lace shawl while my gauge is off.

Pattern: Kwik Sew K3602. The fabric is new to me: a stretchy knit cotton. So I’m trying my best to get a hang of it, mostly because I fell in love with the fish.

*Yes, I know I can buy attachments that can go on my model 404 Slant Needle, but part of me wishes I knew where I’d stored the original that came with my machine. I found the buttonhole attachment, and I’m thrilled.

**All apologies to the writer of the original tune. Bet they never thought something as uncool as this could happen, and now I’m imagining a retirement community where this and other music (LL Cool J, Salt ‘n’ Peppa, Spice Girls, Backstreet Boys, Coolio, Madonna and Aerosmith) is piped into the dining halls. Hopefully there will either be a quiet room, or you can upgrade to classical, choral, or jazz on days when you’re not feeling up to 80s and 90s pop. [For those of you who do dystopian fiction, I think that’s a writing assignment in and of itself. What will we grimly to cling to with nostalgia as the world changes, and who else will be impacted by this choice?]


The power of needleworkers – December 1

On December 1st, 1955, Rosa Parks was arrested for Civil Disobedience when she refused to give her seat to a white passenger in segregated Montgomery, Alabama. She was employed as a seamstress/tailor’s assistant, and along with her husband, she was active in the NAACP. After the boycott that ensued, Ms. Parks lost her place of employment.

When Ms. Parks was asked to give up her seat on the bus, she was actually sewing a dress for herself. The Smithsonian Institute has the dress in its collection (link here). How many of us would have given way to an order to move or else the police would be called? I like to think some of her resolve came not just from training in peaceful protest, but also the knowledge of how many times her needlework had been interrupted before. She was quoted as saying “The only tired I was, was tired of giving in.”

December 1 is also World AIDS day. In San Francisco, in November of 1985, the idea of the AIDS quilt was born, to give names to the people who might have died in obscurity and to give us an idea of the impact of the disease. Today, the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt is still growing, with panels made by 100,000 friends and family members. By June 2012, exhibits showing the quilt raised $4,000,000 to fund direct services to people living with AIDS. Gay rights activist Cleve Jones had a powerful idea that keeps growing. Over 94,000 names are on the quilt now. There are 40 International Affiliates outside of the US of the NAMES Project.

For crafters who are Whovians

What does this remind you of?









Do you think, if I bought some from the local fabric store, I would be able to make it into a bubble skirt to look a bit like one of these bug-eyed creatures? And could I work up the nerve to wear it to a Halloween party? (My crafting moves with glacial slowness, so thinking about this in August isn’t that strange.)

Art in the stitch

Diana Savona "Formal Argument" 2011

Diana Savona “Formal Argument” 2011

Lovely piece of artwork from Diane Savona. Salvaged mannequin, salvaged tuxedo

and tuxedo shirt, hours of patchwork, trapunto, and heavens knows what other efforts were made to create this wonderful piece of art (that says “it’s still craft not ART”). Go to the artist’s website, to learn more and see more scissors embedded with stitches within cloth. This piece was done in 2011, and photographed in Philadelphia at an art show in 2012. Lovely, and a wee bit daunting.

Thoughts on needlework

I’m stalled on knitting right now. I think it’s because there have been a lovely couple of days where the sun has shown, the weather has warmed up, and all the flowers are blooming.

I have acquired a Butterick pattern for gloves. I was hoping that maybe I could make a pair of gloves that fit, in colors I like. I’m left with a few questions, though:

  • I’ve never seen stretch charmeuse (which I thought was just silk, but apparently it can have spandex in it?)
  • Wonder if I can use a wool fabric with some stretch to it? Hrm?
  • Lace fingerless mitts are right out, unless I’m practicing with the sizing in the pattern (see below).
  • How does one identify if you’re cutting the right size?
  • Yes, I’ve gone to Butterick’s Website, and they don’t tell how to measure for gloves.
  • They also have shoe patterns, and their measurement guide doesn’t mention feet either.
  • Bother. But I do like that I can size the length of fingers and thumbs up or down.

I have scrap fabric for this. I will probably get tracing paper so I don’t ruin the pattern while practicing. So, anyone else have a project that daunts them?

Stitching Up Christmas

We continue the annals of When The Delusional Craft with some thoughts on projects that you can stitch up and use as little extras or stocking stuffers:

  1. With felt, a template of a stocking, and a sewing machine, you can make a small stocking ornament — ingredients include: red or green felt, white felt, thread, scissors, template, chalk to mark outline, and any decorations you want to put on the stocking. Go glam, and add paillets to the trim. Try sewing ribbon to the white top of the stocking, or substitute lace for the white felt edging. Add a hanging loop, and fill with candy or tiny gifts for a friend’s pet.
  2. Personalize potpourri by stitching up little bags and filling them with your favorite potpourri blend. Or, try this no-sew idea: get tulle bags (sold in craft stores in the wedding section), swap out the white ribbon for a more seasonal one, and fill with potpourri and silk flowers.
  3. Relieve stress by playing with cross-stitch. Note: A small decoration for the tree is less of a commitment than a big pattern. I have been guilty of picking out large patterns that are beautiful but take too darn long to stitch up. I think I have one cross-stitch Christmas stocking that may never be finished due to loss of floss. A neat idea from the folks at the Deerfield museum is to choose a small element from a larger sampler pattern in your collection, and stitch that up for a decoration (choose Aida cloth, floss, and pattern; once it’s stitched up you can back it with a round of cardboard and contrasting fabric, then hang by a loop of thread or ribbon).
  4. If you’re quick at sewing on your machine, a small child might like a special apron for baking with Grandma or a smock for painting.
  5. There are cute and clever needlepoint ideas for use with plastic canvas. Small ornaments can be used for decoration of wrapped gifts. Note: I’m not suggesting a whole train made from plastic canvas work, partly because I remember similar things getting dusty in the past and partly because it might take too much time. Every stitcher has to decide on their own projects.
  6. If you’re a quilter and you want to make a quilt for someone but you’re short on time, consider making a mini-quilt that can be made into a pillow.
  7. Small felted ornament kits might be a way to learn a new type of needlework without investing too much time. If you’re uncertain about getting something done in 2 weeks, then promise yourself it’s for your tree.

*Note: all links to kits, projects, supplies are to online stores as general examples. I have no idea what shipping might do to timelines.

I had hoped to get a picture of some of the cross stitch I’ve done in the past to put up here, but the weather isn’t great for photography (and I “can’t find” the cross-stitch stocking, even if it would make a cute photo). If anyone has any quick ideas for small gifts that can be sewn up quick, feel free to leave a comment.

Tomorrow’s topic: Hall O’Shame, a seasonal visitor to these parts, for when good crafting ideas go bad.