Sunday, April 26, 2009

It's What's Underneath That Counts

Hmm... Snappy title, not sure how to follow that up!

So, I've been making undies. I was originally inspired by this post on Threadbanger. But that post is all about making massively ruched knickers with non-stretch material, and I prefer a sleeker line. Luckily, I had some cute printed knit in my stash, so I grabbed a pair of knickers I already really liked and copied a pattern off those. A bit rough, but I'm super pleased with the results.

I used to be a massive undie-buying addict, but I stopped because the fashions changed and the stuff in the shops no longer appealed to me so much. Now I think I'm going to be hooked on making them. Can anyone say t-shirt recycling? Ooooooooh.....

Also, I've been working away at Dad's jumper. The back's done and I've started on the front:

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Altair Ego

How do you get by without your trusty hoody? Answer is, you don't. Unfortunately, all my trusty hoodies are elsewhere, and I've been having to borrow some grody old one of Dear Younger Sibling's. But, I found a stack of polar fleece scraps in my room - left overs from making Valentine's Day dressing gowns for myself and Dear Significant Other a few years ago. So, I decided to patch something together. I stitched the scrappy bits together into larger pieces of fabric, then just traced the shape roughly off a nice hoody of DYS's. Whizz it all together on the machine and, hey presto! Snuggliness.

The credit for the idea for the long hood must go to DYS. I like it, it feels sort of neo-medieval. I've never played Assassin's Creed, but when I put it on I felt just faintly reminiscent of the promo art for it. I realise this doesn't come across in the photos. But trust me, from the effect from inside the hood is epic.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Aeria Gloris, Aeria Gloris

I love me some anime, yes indeed I do. In particular, I love me some Ghost in the Shell - both the movies and the 'Stand Alone Complex' serieses (is that even a word? I guess it is now!). Man, how awesome is the Major? She has purple hair and red eyes! And does philosophy! Srsly. I'd turn for her... Bateau is also one of my favourite anime characters ever, because (as my dear younger sibling so elegantly put it) 'he's like a great, big teddy bear made of biceps'. You can't doubt his tough-guy credentials, but there's more to him than just 'And now I will break stuff'.

So, with my recently rediscovered embroidery skills enthusiasm, I have set about making myself a wearable tribute to AWSUM. I copied the outlines from a pic from teh intertubes. It was considerably harder than I expected to do that. If you want my advice, avoid emboidering hands and guns, and especially avoid embroidering hands holding guns. Euch.

Here is Kusanagi on the lower front:

And Bateau's got my back:

I'm not sure if I'm completely happy with the eyes there... but I felt like they were sort of important for conveying his outline.

Friday, April 17, 2009

The Conservation of Matter as Applied to T-shirts

I had these four long-sleeved t-shirts:

I got them ages ago, but I never wore them much because they weren't a good length for me. So I decided to recylce them into more awesome tops. Logically, if one top on its own wasn't long enough, two could be slashed and re-stitched together to make one top of a good length.

I didn't really plan it out much, I just lay one top on top of the other, then cut them and swapped the halves and stitched them back together until I liked it. Here's a pic of the blue and green t-shirts at the half-and-half mark:

Along the way, I realised that out of two tops I could get one good long top and a little shruggy top as well. So by beginning with four tops, I ended up with four tops still.

Here are pictures of three of them (pics by my dear younger sibling, Obie):

Top #1

The left overs from Top #1, aka Top #2.

Top #3.
The neckline came out a bit eccentric on this one, because the black top was a slightly different style to all the others. But I kinda like the asymmetrical neckline.
Top #4 is just the left over sleeves from this, so figure out for yourself how it looks :)

I've got some embroidery plans for Top #3, so I'll get back to you when that's done.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

What I Have Been Up To This Week

First, how cute are these guys?

They're a pair of glass Hinamatsuri dolls I picked up at ABC Craft in Osaka. They're 2cm tall. They weren't the smallest though. That honour went these next ones, at less than 1cm:

You can't really see here, but I've glued them onto earring backs. (My immediate response to anything colourful and smaller than a golf ball is "Wow, that'd make an awesome earring!".)

And here are some more random earrings I made from stuff I found at ABC Craft:
Aren't they pretty? I'm not usually into floral motifs, but the colours are great. Ohhhhh, I love that shop so much, it's a treasure trove. I can't wait to go back.

OK, so this week I didn't get as much sewing done as I meant to, since Dad was doing some sewing of his own. I prefer to monopolise the table completely, so I left him to it :D

Instead of sewing, I got stuck into the jumper. The back's nearly done. Here's where it's at now:

It's great 'cos it's so easy I can just go into a knitting trance, but it doesn't get boring with all those colours!

Once Dad was done with the sewing machine, I got stuck into a jumper revamp I've been thinking about for a while. You see, I found this nice quality, grey woollen jumper while sorting out one of the piles of stuff that inhabit our house. We're not sure wear it came from, it might have been Grandpa's. So, since piles of ashes don't have much call for jumpers, I 'acquired' it. I'm not really into large expanses of grey, though, so I needed to jazz it up a bit. Luckily, I'd been itching to apply some neat applique patterns I found on the Craft Magazine blog a while back.

I traced the shapes onto some iron-on interfacing (iron-on interfacing is my new favourite thing!), then ironed the interfacing onto the wrong side of the material I wanted to use. Then, I did a zig-zag stitch over the line on the interfacing (with a medium stitch length and a low stitch width, so it was like satin stitch). I trimmed the fabric back around the outside of the zig-zagged line, and then it was just like sewing Girl Guide badges onto my jumper! I went back and added the thread detail in with some random yarn I had around.

Jumper + Applique = Match Made in Heaven:

(Hmmm... I think it might be time for a hair cut.)

Saturday, April 11, 2009

The Winners Circle

Way-hey! It's Chocolate Day, yummo...

Look out, I'm making stuff!

(Table? What table? Heh heh.)

I put the power of my sugar-high to good use today, and got stuck into jazzing up a skirt I've had for a while but never wear. It was a good skirt, and an excellent colour of red, but it just lacked a certain something... I decided the 'certain something' was a smattering of bold circles drawn from my scrap stash. (Hooray stash-busting again!) So, now it's like I have a new skirt, for free! (Double Hooray!)

Also, I've started knitting a jumper for my Dad. Dad's a big fan of Time Team, and also of brightly coloured clothes, so he's very taken with the stripy jumper that Mick often wears on the show. The jumper I'm making is not an exact replica, but follows in the spirit of the original.

Once this is done, we'll never lose Dad in the fog again.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Just Dandy.

I love blowing seeds off dandelions, even though I know they're a weed and doing this just spreads the seeds around the garden. But, I like the bright splashes of yellow they create in the lawn. I think I like the seed heads even more though - they are so ethereal, and always a bit nostalgic for me. They remind me of being little and playing in the backyard.

I was looking at a dandelion seed head a while ago, and I thought it's make a really good embroidery. I haven't done any embroidery in ages - I used to do a lot of counted cross-stitch when I was a kid. Anyway, counting, schmounting. I just did a sketch, and marked it out roughly with chalk on a jumper and went for it. Oh, actually, I tacked a piece of cotton to the inside of the area to be decorated, to reinforce the stitches and stop them from getting stretched and distorted in the embroidery hoop. That seems to have worked pretty well.


Here are a couple of detail shots:

(Ooops, I guess the chalk hasn't quite worn off...)

Thursday, April 9, 2009

How To Avoid Painful, Expensive Tattoo Removal Surgery!

So, my job (when I'm working) doesn't like visible tattoos. I'm off work for a little while though, and to keep myself amused I got tattoos on the inside of my wrists. At first glance, this may seem something of a miscalculation. Actually, though, I put some serious thought into the interesting ways I've seen other people redefine/stretch/smash through the professional dress standards, and I decided I could certainly get away with some natty wrist cuffs in my work wardrobe. Thus keeping my secret unprofessionalism secret, AND marginally brightening my working day with some nifty accessories.

I made a couple of knitted cuffs from this simplistic yet deceptively cool pattern. I didn't have any variegated yarn, so I did stripes with two colours of yarn. The cuff shown below has stripes four rows wide. I made a second one with a random pattern of stripes of one, two and three rows width. (I have a hard time making two things that match - it gets a bit boring.)

I've sewn some fabric cuffs, too. They're awesome stash-busters. Here's the quick and dirty way to make one:

1) Measure around your wrist, and figure out how deep you want the cuff to be. Be sure to allow for whatever amount of overlap you need to close the cuff (this will depend on how you decide to close it). Make a paper template of this rectangle, and used the template to cut out a piece of iron-on interfacing.

2) Take the fabric you're using, fold it in half with the right sides facing each other, and iron the interfacing on one of the wrong sides.

3) Straight stitch around the interfacing, so that the double thickness is sewn together. Don't forget to leave one of the short ends open for turning!

4) Cut out the excess fabric away from the wrist cuff - leave a seam allowance! The seam allowance should be fairly small for the sewn edges, but biggish for the open end, as you will fold it in and stitch it closed.

5) Turn the cuff right-side-out, and press. Fold the seam allowance at the open end into the inside of the cuff, and press.

6) Top stitch all the way around the cuff, including the open end (so that it is no longer open).

7) Add closure of your choice.

I fiddled around with various sorts of closure on mine. I tried out a kind of corset effect on the first one, by threading the ends together with black hat elastic.

I like how it looks, but the small amount of elastic doesn't stretch very much. It's hard to get on and off over my hand. So, for the second one (the pair to the above one) I went with hooks and eyes.

It is (predictably) also somewhat difficult to put on.

So, in the end I finally broke down and took the not-stylish-but-easy way out - Velcro! I made black cuffs so they will go with everything that the others won't go with. For interest, I added a dash of leftover old lace to one. (Its pair is just plain black - I told you, I can't make two things the same!)

Heh, I'm looking forward to busting these out at my unsuspecting workplace. Little do they know...

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Noro: What's All the Kureyon About?

(lol. Knitting geek joke. 'Carry-on', get it? Oh, never mind...)

Noro. It's Japanese for 'super expensive designer yarn in colours you'll never wear'. The masses swoon and drool over it on Ravelry, so I was primed to be excited when I first encountered it in my LYS in Osaka. It is very pretty stuff, sitting in its alluringly rainbow hanks on the shelves. "Buy me," it purrs, "buy me. You know you want to." (Yes, it purrs in English.) But I gotta say, once I picked it up and inspected it more closely, and considered what I would use it for, it became considerably less sexy.

Basically, I have two issues with Noro yarns:

Noro Problem #1 is the colour scheme. They look damn pretty on the shelf, but up close a lot of the Noro shades do not float my boat. Although I am a fan of fitting as many different colours as possible into any given space, the Noro variegations nearly always contain several colours I like, and one or two that I hate, or wouldn't go with my wardrobe. And given how much the yarn costs, it's gotta be something I could wear with a few different items.

Noro Problem #2 is texture. A lot of it really doesn't feel nice. It's no good having a top that's all purdy-like but feels like a dish scrubber when you put it on. It's gotta feel good on your skin, that's a no-brainer.

So, doesn't look nice, doesn't feel nice. Just has a snazzy, designer name, and I know everyone else wants some. Hmmm...

I spent a long time staring at the Noro, and in the end, I did find some I liked. It's a yarn called Opera Tamu. It's not in the Ravelry database, so I guess it's not one of the more popular Noro yarns. It's an interesting blend: 55% wool, 20% silk, 19% lambswool and 6% nylon - not the softest yarn around, but wearable. It's pretty chunky - I worked it at about 12st to 10cm. As for the palette, it has enough purple, blue and green in it to make up for the odd dash of shit brown and pink (bleh).

So, below is the top that my Noro has become. It is roughly this top.

I didn't think I would bother going back for more Noro, but I recently found a great pattern on Ravelry for a spiral blanket called Ten Stitch Twist. It's designed with Noro yarn in mind, and displays the colours beautifully. I think it might tempt me back since blanket doesn't need to go with my wardrobe!

Monday, April 6, 2009

The Primeval Struggle of Woman Vs. Scarf

I went away for the weekend, so didn't get much making done. What I did do, though, was FINALLY get back the scarf I started knitting for my dear Significant Other late last year.

The scarf was designed to his specifications, i.e. "I want one like that other one you made, except with one seemingly minor difference that makes it disproportinately more difficult". The difference in this case being a stripe that runs the length of the scarf. I thought I'd be clever and knit it length-wise rather than width-wise. Silly me... Of course, events over took me. It wasn't done by the time we left Australia, so I took all the yarn with me to finish it. Unfortunately, I am completely useless at estimating yarn amounts, and was woefully short of yarn. In addition to this, it was a very boring project to knit, compared to all the lovely, shiny yarn that one can easily acquire in Osaka. So the scarf got extremely shelved, in favour of dinky legwarmers and the like.

Until this weekend. Armed with a yarn top-up from Spotlight (the original yarn was from Lincraft, but luckily one black dk wool looks much like another), I returned to the fray(ing edge) and finally put the beast to bed. Just in time for him to not need to wear it in spring. (Gah!)

Geez, it's just a scarf... I can't believe it was such a frickin' trial.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Feelin' Fruity

I love me some Japanese street fashion. In particular, I find the whole loligoth thing fascinating. While I was in Japan, I picked up a great loligoth dressmaking magazine, choc full of patterns for various intricate outfits. A lot of it was really fiddly, but there was a section on how to make various types of basic petticoat, which I found mysteriously fascinating. I'm not really a ruffles and frills kind of gal, but I enjoy a touch of the absurd when getting dressed, and I admire anything that smacks of "I'll wear what I damn well please, to hell with reality". Which brings us to today's project, in which I let my inner loligoth out to play, just a little.

This is just about the easiest thing I have ever sewn. I started with 4m of 160cm wide spotty tulle, which I seamed it into a massive tube. Then I folded the tube in half into itself, so that I had a double-thickness tube. I sewed a channel into the fold, and passed elastic through that. Once it was adjusted to fit my waist, voila! Basic petticoat.

It looked alright like that, but I decided it would look better with a bit of ruching, to work the ample amount of tulle to best effect. Not too much ruching though, 'cos I'm lazy. So I just chucked a few in around the front.

I found the best way to gather the tulle was to knot a seed bead into the end of my thread, and just tack straight up from the hem (the fabric selvedge formed the hem, so no hemming was required, hooray!). Then I just pulled until it looked right, and stitched another seed bead in to fix the thread. The seed beads stop the thread from pulling through the tulle, without making huge ugly knots necessary.

Here's the result, underneath an almost-too-tiny mini-kilt I've had for some time.

The Holst Dress

My month of making got off to a good start today, despite a two hour power cut this afternoon. I've been waiting for an opportunity to mak this dress for a while. It's from the pattern on pages 90-97 of issue 8 of Craft magazine. (Such a great magazine! I was really sad to hear that they had to merge with their sister mag, Make. Though, I am sure it will still be a fine, inspirational publication, and I am also sure I will still subscribe to it.)

The fabric I used is some some stuff I picked up in the Spotlight post-Christmas sale. Ah, Spotlight... I have a love/hate relationship with them. They're dreadful because they've forced nearly all the other craft and fabric and yarn shops out of town. But, they do have a fine range of stuff, and I'm a sucker for a great, big range of stuff.
Here's an example of some stuff I couldn't resist:

Truly epic, is it not? And certainly in need of a simple, un-fussy pattern. So, the a-line dress in Craft was perfect!

I've dubbed it the Holst Dress, after Holst's The Planets, which I'm quite fond of (especially Jupiter). The dress is a smidge shorter than I'd intended, but overall I'm really pleased with it. I'm not really a wearer of dresses, ordinarily, but I think I'll get a lot of wear out of this one. Especially since I can wear it three different ways:

Party Dress (my personal favourite)

Suspender Dress

Skirt (with the shoulder straps tucked inside.)

(Apologies for the photo quality - the photographer was keen to get back to GTA :P )