Sunday, June 18, 2017

Atomic Shirt for a Man

I finally found something nice to make for my sweetie that he can use. This shirt is two layers of pure cotton jersey, stenciled with acrylic paint, and hand stitched with polyester thread. He requested an atomic symbol, like the one for the Springfield Isotopes baseball team on The Simpsons.
To make the shirt pattern, I cut up his old favorite t-shirt, traced it onto pattern paper, and added seam allowances. Then I made a rough draft t-shirt to test the pattern and used it to make a few small adjustments to the pattern. Then I cut this garment, which I consider a final copy. It should be a perfect fit. After trying to use other people's patterns and drafting my own, I have to say that starting with well loved garment is an excellent way to draft a perfect pattern that fits, and if you are willing to cut it up, you get to the right pattern easily without too many alterations.
Here is the rough draft shirt I made first to test the pattern before spending a lot of time on fancy embroidery.
The fabric had a flaw that I didn't catch until the shirt was sewn together.  So I added a star on the back to cover it up. 
Here is my sweetie's favorite cotton t-shirt (left), all worn out and sad. In blue on the right, you can see my new version. I changed the number because I cut a stencil and I didn't want to deal with the holes in the 8. Fortunately, he didn't care.
I learned the techniques for construction and embellishment from the books by Natalie Chanin. Her work is such an inspiration.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Victory Pod and Solstice Earrings

If you've been reading my blog for any amount of time, you already know that I like earrings.  Here are my two newest pairs.  First, these are Victory Pods to go with my new shirt.

Second are a pair of Solstice Earrings in an analogous color scheme that goes from purple to blue, aqua, green and gold. That's more than half the rainbow. These colors make me happy.

Thanks for looking.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Upcycled Freeform Cashmere and Wool Sweaters

I made a few sweaters last Winter and Spring, but somehow I forgot to blog about them, and now it's June. This post is totally seasonally inappropriate, unless you live in Australia. So, as you read this, pretend that you're Australian. I promise, it'll be worth it.

Sweater No. 13 Dusty Rose
This was a custom order for a friend who does a lot of needle crafts.  I wanted to make it especially detailed for her because I knew she would appreciate the effort.  So I covered the front of the hood with folded roses made from cashmere sweaters. 
Here's a close up of the roses before I added the buttons. To make the roses, I used classic "folded ribbon rose" techniques but with strips of sweaters instead of regular ribbon.

Sweater No. 14 Periwinkle
This was my first adventure in free-form sweater sewing. It's is all cashmere, mostly hand dyed.
I like the way the black seams make it look like stained glass.  It's available here:

Sweater No. 15 Black Berry
This was my second adventure into free-form sweater sewing.
I found that I could use the leftover scraps to make the hood.  I really love the way the lines and colors on this piece worked out.
This Black Berry Sweater is mostly cashmere, mostly hand dyed, and it's available here:

Here's a close up of the bobble at the end of the hood.

Sweater No. 16 Kelp Queen
I made this piece for myself... because... LIME GREEN!!!!
I had to dye almost all of the sweaters to get enough lime green.  Here's a photo of the hood before it was a hood.
When I first showed this photo, my friends said it looks like a landscape painting, like one by Wayne Thiebaud or this:

Sweater No. 17 Hot Pink, etc.
This was a custom piece for a good friend of mine, pure cashmere. She likes hot pink.  A lot. It's more purple than blue, as the photo suggests
Here's what the hood looked like before it was a hood.
Okay, that was way too much of a blacklog of projects.  I need to start blogging more.  Note to self.  Anyway, as always, thanks for looking.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Felt Bowl Beaded with Wool Felt Sweater Scraps

I finished this felt bowl using the method I described in my last post.
It's mostly wool with a little cashmere, measuring about 9.5" across and 0.75" thick. I'm not sure what I think of it. It's soft and squishy but a little wonky. The pattern of circles comes from an arrangement of dimples on a golf ball.

Here is what it looked like after I got started.
This is the pile of strips I used.  That's 246 strips of wool and cashmere felt, plus a few extras, all cut from old sweaters.
Thanks for looking.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Bead Weaving with Wool Felt Sweater Scraps

Did you know that we can apply bead weaving techniques to wool felt?  This weekend I figured out how, and I have to admit, I'm pretty darn excited about it. Here is my first project.  It's a trivet, you know, a hot pad for protecting table tops from hot pots.  It measures 9 inches from top to bottom, and it's 5/8 inches thick.
Here you can see the trivet close up. Let me just say, this technique would make an amazing carpet. This is the texture I want my feet to touch first thing every morning when I get out of bed. Super soft and springy.
Do you want to see how I did it? Here are my materials and tools.  I started with scraps of felted wool sweaters. I used my rotary cutter, ruler and cutting mat to cut a bunch of little strips that are 5/8 inches wide and about 3 inches long.  I made the green strips a little shorter than the yellow strips because the green wool is thicker and I wanted the rolls to finish as the same size, 5/8 inches in diameter. I used polyester "jean stitch" thread and a really thick, long needle to sew the rolls together.  I rolled each strip as I attached it. I stitched this together just as I would bead weave with peyote stitch. Sew right though the side of the jelly roll, through the center and out the other side.
The green scraps were left over from a sweater I made for myself this winter.  I think of it as "The Kelp Queen Sweater." I feel like a sea monster when I wear it, in a good way. It's mostly cashmere and super warm and cozy.
I also made this berry colored sweater recently.  It's in my Etsy shop if you want it.  Again, it's mostly cashmere.  I hand dyed the fabrics before I cut them up and stitched them together. Soft, cozy, warm and berry delicious!
 After finishing this sweater, I had some really nice cashmere scraps that I couldn't part with.  They were too small to make arm warmers, but too nice to throw away. So you can imagine my delight when I found that I could bead weave with them. Here is my set up of tools and materials.  I cut these strips a bit wider than the last set, 3/4 inches.  The strips are long enough to make the rolls 3/4 inches wide.  You'll notice I also added some pliers to my set of tools.  Those are useful for pulling the needle through the many layers of wool.  This technique is a bit hard on the fingers, and the pliers give you super powers, well, practically.
For my second trial of beading with felt rolls, I wanted to make a beaded ball.  With these wonderful strips of cashmere and wool, I beaded an icosahedron. It's the size of a tennis ball. It's very much like a tennis ball, in fact. My local tennis playing friend says it has a similar weight, too, but lighter. Similar squish, but a skosh squishier. It would be a good juggling ball, soft and light but not too light.  I stuffed the small space on the inside full of scraps I made with my scraps. That keeps it nice and solid. You can see how I layered dark and light purple together before making he jelly rolls.  Also, I used my scissors to trim the outside surface to make it smooth, well, smoother than it was. 
In making these two pieces, I found the beaded felt rolls really like to make a flat plane, like the trivet. The amount of curvature in the icosahedron is really pushing how much it the surface wants to curve smoothly before you start to see the sides of the rolls.  Accordingly, this technique will work better for objects with less curvature.  A big felt bowl would be nice, suitable project, I think. The felt should handle that level of curvature nicely.
Anyway, I still have a large garbage bag full of old felted sweaters destined to become new wearable pieces. In that process, I'll make lots more felt scraps. And with those scraps, I might just have to bead weave them into other things like bowls, balls, and boxes. So hopefully there is more bead weaving with felt in my future. Stay tuned. And, as always, thanks for looking. Happy Mother's Day.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Cotton Jersey Tunic in Blue and Gold

I finished this top last night. It's made with cotton jersey fabric, stenciled with artists' acrylics and entirely hand stitched with polyester thread--super soft and comfortable. The more pieces I make like this, the more I'm getting addicted to these sewing techniques of Alabama Chanin. The styling and stencils are my own design.
Meet Bunny!  This is one of the back panels.
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Here you can see The Twins.  I got a little carried away making silly cartoon stencils. The colors on this photo were enhanced.  The gold doesn't actually contrast that much with the blue. While it looks nice in the photo, and it helps you see the slight metallic sheen of the paints I used, I actually prefer the more subtle coloring of the original.  After all, it's clothing, not art to hang on a wall.
Image may contain: food 
Thanks for looking!

Friday, March 31, 2017

Mini Crown Earrings Blue Jeans

It's been a long time since I made some jewelry just for the sake of making some jewelry. Lately, I've been focusing my attention on designing novel works for the purpose of writing tutorials, and that takes a lot of time to finish each project. But, last night, I made some jewelry using one of my older patterns, and gee, it was nice to finish a piece in one sitting. These are Mini Crown Earrings, in the colors of blue jeans.

Find this pair here:
Learn to make your own:

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Cellini Marquis Pendant

An old friend commissioned me to make a pendant incorporating an old tooth that one of her friends gave her. She had a pretty clear vision of what she wanted, and here's what I came up with. The design of the frame is almost identical to the Cellini Marquis, but I added a few extra rounds to make it bigger.

Boy, you blow up a photo of beadwork, and the mistakes really jump out at you. Fortunately, the missing beads on the bail were fixable. Ahh. All done.

You can find the tutorial for the Cellini Marquis pendant in my Etsy shop.  Thanks for looking.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

New Tutorial - Cellini Marquis Pendant

Here is my latest design in my series on Cellini spirals made with peyote stitch and seed beads in different sizes.  With this new tutorial, you can learn to bead weave this Cellini Marquis Pendant.
The beadwork is stitched with just 3 sizes of regular Japanese seed beads. So if you are a bead weaver, you probably already have everything you need. Using just a pinch of each color, this a great way to use up seed beads leftover from other beading projects. No fancy shapes required!
Making the pendant is a suitable project for advanced beginning to intermediate bead weavers who like seed beads. The pendant measure 6 cm high, 7 cm wide, 12 mm thick.
The tutorial is 16 pages, with over 70 full color illustrations and photographs. The tutorial gives highly detailed instructions for every step in the pendant.

Thanks for looking.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Free Pattern Beaded Pussy Hat

Sorry I've been MIA, but... politics.
With all of the craziness that has occurred over the last few months in the US, I have been inspired by politics in a way that I never have been before. The day after the 2017 inauguration, I watched as more than 3 million people protested across the globe for women's rights. In the photos, I saw huge crowds marching for the Women's March on Washington. I saw thousands, maybe tens of thousands of pink pussy hats, all made by hand to honor and draw attention to this event. Being an artist myself, I wanted pay homage to this symbol of women's rights. As a result, I drew this pattern for beaded pussy hats.
The pattern is free for you to use and share as you'd like. Please make lots of beaded pussy hats, give them to your friends. Use them as a reminder to stay involved, and always stand up for women's rights.
These beaded charms are quite little.  As patterned, they are suitable as zipper pulls, earrings, pendants, and bracelet charms. I'd recommend scaling the beads to 11, 8 and 6 to make it bigger for a key ring.
On the photo below, the one on the right has stripes. The two on the bottom and left use three colors of beads. Switch colors after each row. If you use a cycle of 2 colors, you get stripes, whereas if you use a cycle of 3 colors, then no two beads of the same color touch each other. There is another 3-cycle in the photo above (far right). You can compare the effect of the relative contrast in color values. Mix dark and light values (previous photo) or mix values of low contrast (photo below).
If you would like to make an origami version of the pussy hat, here is a free tutorial by Beth Johnson. The paper hats here were folded and photographed by Ron Taylor. Notice the bottle cap for scale. Ron folded each of these from 3/4 of a sheet of 3.4 inch memo paper.
Thank you for standing up for women's right. Women's rights are human rights.
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