Saturday, October 15, 2016

A bit of fabric painting

Let's start with a salute to the incredible colors of fall in the Northeast. We are in peak color right now. Early in the morning the surrounding "earth" is just golden with the morning glow and the changing colors of fall. It is spectacular.

Maybe that's why I was inspired to paint this weekend. I didn't do much painting because this is only a small project, but I enjoyed it nonetheless.

Several months back I found this unique fabric at Joanns. It was in with the "faux leathers". It is made from 100% rayon for the top fabric and definitely has a leather look to it.  Who knew rayon could look like leather?  In reality it is a quilted leather look, even better. I knew when I bought it I wanted to paint it and I knew I wanted it to be some sort of bag. You can see here where I traced out the outline of a flap for an NCW wallet. Another gift? Maybe mine? Not sure but it will be fun to make.
I started by building my paint palette. I took the lid from an old candy can and covered it with low tack tape. Masking tape would be fine as well. Why? Well, it gives the paints a bit of texture to be rubbed off on. ( There's something grammatically wrong about that last sentence.) I am going to use Shiva Paint Sticks.

Shiva paint sticks are oil paints in stick form. They are unique in that they have a skin that forms, preventing them from drying up into little blobs of pigment. You remove the skin with a vegetable peeler. This exposes the moist paint which you then rub on the textured tape on your palette. They have a rather lovely glow and allow the base to show through the paint. They are usually put down with stencil brushes and that is what I did. They can be blended in the palette like any other oil paint. Downside? They take a long time to fully dry. A heavy application can take a week to dry. Once dry you heat set them to make the paints permanent and they are permanent.

 Once I was done with the Shiva paint sticks I moved on to Lumiere fabric paints. I needed the finesse of a thinner brush and thinner paint and the both are made permanent by heat seting so they are both used on this project.

I took the tape out of the lid and used it for the palette for the Lumiere dyes. The white you see in the lid is textile medium.

Here's the completed flap. It will dry for a week before being heat set with an iron. It has that Jorge Guttierez  look which pleases me. I love his work and he has really been inspiring me lately. We will see how the final project looks.

ETA: Here is a link from Dharma Trading with more info on the paint sticks.

Right now I am waiting for the frames to insert into the Boy Bags which are complete otherwise. The diaper bag is off to its recipient and I thank all of you for the lovely comments. I will leave you with a few pics around the yard of our lovely Fall colors:

It is really a gorgeous time of year.........

. Most of the furniture has been put away till next year but I am still holding on to my underdeck porch, my favorite place for a quiet moment.............Bunny

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

The Stella Weekender

Here it is: the Stella Weekender from Swoon Sewing Patterns. I waited a bit to get some lovely fall background for the main pic. I  think it will make a nice gift for my nephew's wife and new baby girl. It was not hard at all and it's size and softness made it quite manageable under the presser foot.

This is my first Swoon pattern and it is a PDF. The Stella Weekender is available from Swoon Sewing Patterns. It has regular handles on top and a removable long strap for some more convenience. There are two different sized cargo pockets on the front and a large zipper pocket as well. The outside of the bag has slip pockets on the back side. The inside is lined and there are slip pockets inside, too, but you can do an optional zip pocket inside if you like. I didn't.  Piping is not mentioned in the pattern itself but many of the versions shown on the site and on the Swoon FB page are piped. You know I love piping and this was a great opportunity. The PDF comes with clear pattern layouts.At no place does it tell you to fold the main panel to make the pattern for the Open Pocket which did flummox me for a while. I eventually figured it out and it was really no big deal.

One thing I like about PDF bag patterns is that there may be many pieces but they almost all are small and fit on one page or even several to a page. Other pieces are cut from measurements and that is fine with me. Rotary cutters and mats make that easy. This bag has 37, yes, 37 pattern pieces to be cut out and 31 pieces of interfacing as well. The biggest chore with the pattern, as with most bags, is all the cutting and fusing. Once that is done the project flies. Another thing I like about the PDF directions is the size of the pages and the white space on each page. I've made copious notes in that space as I've gone along and that will be really helpful for the next time.

The exterior fabric and lining are quilting cottons from Joanns. The exterior fabric was one of their "premium" quilting cottons and the lining was off the shelf. For the piping I used a poly/cotton blend called Symphony.

All of the lining is fused with SF101 from Pellon, a fusible cotton woven. The exterior gets fusible fleece and some SF101 as well. The gusset has a piece of Peltex fused in at the very end before adding the lining. Peltex is that really hard fusible often used for bag bottoms. In the end this is a soft bag. I've worked out a personal preference  for a different interfacing configuration that I use for most of my bags. That method adds more structure. But this bag is really meant to be rather soft and I think it looks fine that way. I also always like to try the construction the way the pattern specifies before I do my own thing with it.

There is black hardware on this bags to go with the fabric and black zips. I used black D rings and swivel hooks that I got on Amazon. It's not easy finding the black in the size I needed from the bag purveyors but Amazon had it no problem.

I followed the pattern sentence by sentence and checked off  each sentence with a pencil as I completed it's task. You do have to pay close attention but nothing is difficult and the directions are definitely clear. It is critical to read through all of the instructions before starting.

Things I'd change next time: In the straps I would use Decor Bond on one side and fusible fleece on the other. I think it will fill in the pieces better and still give stiffness. I also think it would eliminate some of the wrinkling, not much, that happens normally on the concave side of the strap. I also really like to triple zigzag my bag zippers instead of topstitching. I find that attractive and sturdy, just my signature thing.

When piping I got a little overly enthusiastic and piped all around the cargo pockets. DON'T DO THAT. It totally messes up the measuring and placement and took me a lot of unnecessary fiddling to get right. Just don't do it, trust me.

Make sure you move the inner pocket of the big exterior zipper pocket out of the way before sewing down those cargo pockets!  I didn't and  my seam ripper got a workout!

If I made this bag again, I would do the flaps and gusset out of a black faux leather. The bags I've seen on the site, after mine was cut out, that had contrasting flaps and gussets  out of a contrasting solid really looked polished.

I also would make my piping smaller. I am used to tiny piping for heirloom garments and I think a thinner piping would make a sharper, crisper look. But, again, that is sort of my signature thing.I just like tiny piping.  I don't know what size cord I used here but it was home dec cord, may 3/32.

In conclusion:

I recommend this pattern but just not as a first attempt. I suggest contrasting flaps, gussets and straps for a sharp look. Be prepared for some serious cutting and fusing, the norm for bag making. The actual construction, especially if you don't pipe, should move right along. This could be really nice in a heavier tapestry or home  dec fabric.


My boy bags are complete except for the addition of the frames. I bought the wrong size, my fault.  You can see that reality hitting as I tried to put the too big frame in the casing. The right size is on order and as soon as the frames are in I'll show you those. Not sure what my next project will be. I am toying with the idea of a fur backpack. Love what I have seen of those.......Bunny

Sunday, October 9, 2016

I have UN - KONDO'd!

At 66 years of age, I know who I have been in the past and I know who I will become and who I am now. With all the wisdom that six decades can impart, I have UN-KONDO'd!

In the spring, after reading Marie' Kondo's best seller, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, I had religion. I couldn't wait for the promised serenity that would arrive from throwing out half of what I owned, the peace of knowing each day where to put everything, and the joy of seeing all my possessions in perfect, harmonious order. I started with our bedroom and my possessions, as Kondo advises. Jeans were rolled, not folded as she describes, in nice little stand up rows in my dresser drawers. Undies were folded and stacked perfectly in organizers that perfectly matched their folded sizes. Everything I could wear was touched, questioned about its joy provoking abilities, and tossed, donated or kept. Most of my goodies were donated.

Here I am six months later and I have had it. As our seasons change and as I get ready each day for work with a wardrobe choice, it was clear this was not working for me.Here is why and I will first tell why not and then what I thought did work.

Kondo has no idea what it is like to leave in FOUR highly contrasting seasons. We have the current Fall with its need for lighter, windbreaking and rain resistant jackets, shorter boots, and lighter weight scarves. Then there is winter, oh, winter! Does she know those fall boots don't work here in winter? Does she know I and my friends get the 50ยบ below zero boots for winter and wear them every day? Does she know we need lovely weather boots for winter party dress and therefore various colors and styles?  All these boots need a spacious home and are not summertime wear. Does she know when visiting up here it is polite to bring a pair of slippers in your bag to change into so as not to drag snow, salt and slush into the homes of friends? We need slipper storage! We are also serious layer people up here. Every sweater or blouse worn in winter has some sort of underneath thing going on, like a tee or turtle. And if we are going to be outside  there are thermal undies under that. Let's see. We wear special socks, special gloves and mittens and layers even under our jeans and work pants. In her perfectly aligned closet there is none of this. Oh, she has you consolidate all seasons into one closet, Spectacular fail there! Not to forget Spring, there are muck boots for outside till the mud season subsides, and those lighter jackets but in Spring-y colors to help us escape the depression of one long cold winter. Summer? I am convinced Marie lives in eternal summer, the better to make her organization work!  Think sandals, sneakers, tanks, shorts, ad nauseum needing to be in with all those boots and slippers. They have to get in that closet with their friends too!

Space.  Does Kondo know how much space all this stuff takes? Uhh, big NO! Houses up here have basements and lots of closets for a reason. There is one closet for one season and another closet for another. She does not have a clue about the seasonal traditions of transitioning and moving said wardrobes from the far away closet  to the bedroom closet.  I moved all this stuff today and my soul knows that I am now ready for winter. Summer, 2016 is over and done.  I know my fifty below boots are found and still wearable. I know my pretty, strappy, metallic sandals will be their for summer evening socialization with friends in 2017. Marie may have joy in tidying, but she has never known the joy of marking the seasons as they pass with the movement of a wardrobe.

Her must have order of putting clothes in the closet.  This totally did not work for me and was the BIGGEST reason I had to un-Kondo. I set up my closet exactly as she describes, all those long things  on one end graduating to the shortest things I own on the other. WTF? Really, think about it. Is that even logical? For the past few weeks I have been so distraught about reaching into the deep dark end of the closet to find the deep, dark pants I own, pushing everything out of the way and hopefully coming up with the pants I want. THIS DID NOT WORK. My closet is, just my side, 8 feet wide. so decent enough. Doing it her way put the pants hangers behind the wall on one side or the folding doors on the other. It just sucked getting my clothes out in the morning.

What did I keep about Kondo-ing? There is some good about it and much was just a spot off of what I was already doing. I  love that she is so organized but one can be more organized with more stuff, too. Dear Readers of this blog for some time: you all know I am an organization freak and can't function creatively till all my tiles are lined up in perfect rows. It frees my mind to just be creative when they are. It works for me and I get that it doesn't work for others and that is OK. So I do appreciate some of her organizational ideas and they will stay. Here are a couple:

Clothing  stacked in rows and folded her way. I have been doing this for sometime with one difference. I roll. My dresser drawers have rolled up jeans in them so that when I open the drawer I can see them all and pick what I want. One drawer has colors. The other has denim blues. Why roll? It cuts down the wrinkling and eliminates the infamous "knee fold". I really like looking in my drawers at this display. It works. Her book also made me re-organize my closet so my undies and bras, socks, bags, hats and shoes are all right there in my face, stacked in little totes, folded neatly and ready to be chosen. I open the doors in the morning, reach up to the shelf where I can clearly see my underpinnings, grab each one I need, then my external garment choices, some jewelry and head to the shower. There is no looking elsewhere for anything for work and it makes my start of the day easy.  I have even, as a result of the initial Kondo-izing, a hanging organizer for all my jewelry, I just reach for my baubles. I can pull everything together facing my closet and not taking one single step left or right.

I am glad I read her book. It was definitely a motivater. But her methods,  for the most part,  didn't work for me and I am glad I didn't go the whole house route of Kondo-izing now.

Today was spent re-doing the closet and all my clothing. It now works FOR ME.  I loved how this marked the change of seasons and that I was now ready for whatever winter threw my way. That's what it really is about, what works for you and Marie's method may not be it. I look in my closet now and feel peace. My pants for work are directly in front of me as I open the doors. The tops are right next to them. Things I rarely wear but still need, like a gorgeous black suit for funeral occasions and some "party" outfits, are in the back recesses waiting for their necessary moment, not stored  in graduating size mode. Each category of clothing is organized by color. Be still my heart, that so makes me happy!  My wardrobe storage now works much better for me, functions wonderfully, IS organized and makes me feel good when I look at it. Now I can go downstairs and start sewing.

What are your experiences with Kondo-izing? Tell me I'm not alone..............Bunny