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1  JEWELRY AND TRINKETS / Trinkets and Jewelry: Completed Projects: General / mini-flogger earrings (tutorial) on: August 09, 2013 03:12:08 AM

I made these for my partner in Adults Only Swap Round 8, and was rather pleased with how they came out.  They weren't hard to make, but it did take some figuring, and I thought maybe I'd share the details in case somebody else wanted to make a pair.

For each earring, you will need:

  • 3 two-foot lengths of six-strand cotton embroidery floss in Color A
  • 3 two-foot lengths of six-strand cotton embroidery floss in Color B
  • a French hook

Thread all 6 pieces of floss through the loop on the hook. 


Attach the hook to something handy.  (I used the end of a little plastic basket in which I keep beads and findings and the like.)  Separate the floss, Color A to the right, and Color B to the left.  Smooth the strands.


Gather all of the strands together, keeping the two colors side-by-side.  Tie them in a snug overhand knot that catches the loop of the hook.  (Having the colors separated will make the knot neatly half-and-half.)

Separate the floss into four equal groups, two of each color.  (There will be three lengths of floss in each group.)


Plait the four groups of floss into a standard four-part round braid for about an inch, using a spiraling color pattern.  Gather the floss back together and tie another snug overhand knot.

Split two of the dangling lengths of Color A floss in half, producing four groups of three strands each.  Plait them into a four-part round braid for about two inches.  Tie them with a tight overhand knot.  Trim the loose ends to a quarter inch or so.  (There will be a fair amount of discard floss, but you need extra length to hold on to while you're doing the braiding; it's not really wasted.)


Repeat with the rest of the floss, two matching lengths at a time.  Try to make the braids identical in length.

When you've braided all the floss, straighten the braids and trim the "tassels" to make the finished falls all the same length.  (This will make any variation in the placement of the knots less obvious.)

Gently roll the thicker braid between your fingers if it needs straightening.

The finished earrings are roughly three inches from the top knot to the end of the falls.  (That made them almost 4 inches from the hook to the end, with the hooks I had.) 

I used the same basic technique to make a smaller pair for myself--about 2 inches from the top of the knot to the end of the falls.  I used four lengths of floss instead of six, braided the handle for only half an inch, and separated the lengths into two-strand groups to braid the falls, which I made an inch long. 


How much they look like floggers depends on how bunched up the falls are, whether the earrings are curled, etc.. . .as well as, I expect, who's looking at them and whether they expect to see floggers in their day-to-day lives.  I think they're inobtrusive enough to wear just about anywhere, but look enough like their inspiration to be fun to wear to a munch or party (or just to tip your honey off to the mood you're in tonight).
2  PURSES, BAGS, WALLETS / Purses, Bags, Wallets: Completed Projects: Reconstructed / tote from pants and a T-shirt on: June 28, 2013 04:04:24 AM

I made this tote for a SwapBot swap in which I participated.  The remit was to make or embellish a reusable tote.  The recipient likes pink, so I chose to start with a worn pink T-shirt with a really pretty scene printed on it that'd been waiting to be repurposed.  I cut the image out, stabilized the edges with strips from the leg of a pair of pants, and then flat lined it with a larger piece from the same source.


I turned sections from another pair of pants into a back panel for the bag.  I used a narrow strip from the T-shirt to create piping where I pieced them together, and replaced the button on the pocket one section contained with a brighter one.  Then I flat-lined it as I had the front panel. 

The waistband from the first pair of pants became the sides and strap, and another piece from the second pair the bottom of the bag.


I'll probably try the "picture frame" approach to giving T-shirt prints structure again.  It eliminated the sagging from which Jersey usually suffers quite effectively.  With its two sturdy layers, the bag has a nice weight and I think it'll hold up well to use.
3  TOYS, DOLLS AND PLAYTHINGS / Toys, Dolls and Playthings: Completed Projects / SCA toddler dolls on: December 28, 2012 03:12:24 AM

I used to organize a gift exchange for the kids in our local S.C.A. group every December.  I always tried to have a couple of "just in case" gifts set back, so if a kid didn't show up the one (s)he was supposed to give to wouldn't be disappointed.  The last year I did that, I made these dolls. 

I wanted them to be suitable for the widest possible age range, so I made them to "toddler doll" standards--small enough for a small child to comfortably carry, with no easily-detached parts that constituted a choking or strangulation hazard.  To make them appropriate for use at S.C.A. events, I avoided obviously modern materials and visible machine stitches.  The only rag doll from a pre-modern setting of which I could find a photo dated to between the 1st and 5th century C.E., and the only simple doll clothes to somewhere between the 7th and 9th.  I wanted to make playthings better suited to the (much later) theme of the event, so I kept in mind the characteristics of those pieces and the art and clothing of the later period, and made something new that I thought was reasonably plausible.

The outer fabrics are all linen.  The stuffing is mostly raw wool roving, though I rolled up some linen scraps to strengthen the necks and keep them from flopping.  Linen is much harder to dye than wool or silk, so it's unlikely that medieval doll makers would have the kinds of rich, saturated colors in linen that I used.  But the dolls were made from scraps left over from our garb, and I could never afford enough tropical-weight wool in pretty colors to clothe my family effectively, so I compromised by using period colors and period fibers and just accepting that the two probably weren't available together before the advent of acid dyes.  All the embroidery was done with wool or silk, and the construction stitches with flaxen thread.  (It's not linen 'til it's woven into fabric.)

The faces are very closely based on some I saw drawn in 13th- or 14th-century manuscripts.  (I don't now remember which ones.)  I knew that if a medieval woman were going to embroider a face, she would very likely use a similar style, as the stitchers of faces I saw in, for instance, 14th-century Opus Angelicanum pieces did so.  I thought about giving him wavy Opus-Anglicanum hair, but I was running out of time so he's bald. 

Both dolls are wearing pretty standard four-gore tunics, though his gores only go to his waist and her side gores go all the way up to her armpits.  I didn't bother with underarm gores, since their arms don't really raise anyway (no joints).  His has a strip of long-armed cross-stitches near the bottom of each sleeve and is closely whip-stitched around the neck in the same color.  He wears it belted with a braid of embroidery thread.  Hers has applied bands of contrasting linen (selvedge leftovers) at neck, cuffs, and hem.  She wears it loose.

She has a wimple and veil of white linen (the former integrated with her head for simplicity's sake, the latter attached with a couple of stitches at the sides of her neck).  Her skin (like his) is unbleached linen, so the wimple is visible as such.



The colors are truer in the main photo, above. I had trouble getting a close-up that didn't wash out the distinction between bleached and unbleached linen; it's less subtle in person.

He has a a simplified hood with a line of decorative back-stitching along the hem.  He's "wearing" hosen made by the simple expedient of using blue linen to make his legs.



You can see how I used buttonhole stitching to secure the edges of my fabric everywhere I hand sewed.  That linen frayed.
4  NEEDLEWORK / Needlework: Completed Projects / fox in red linen on: December 25, 2012 02:37:03 PM

I made this a few months ago for a SwapBot swap.  I knew I wanted to do something that would leave most of the ground bare, since the design had to be four inches on a side and solidly working that much space would've taken too long.  But I also wanted the piece to look finished, not like a page from a coloring book waiting for crayons.  When I discovered the prospective recipient likes foxes, the red garment linen leftovers in my stash seemed to be the perfect solution. 

With a red that. . .RED. . .I figured stylizing the rest of the colors made sense, so the buff and beige of a fox' muzzle and tail turned to bright white, and the dark brown and sable of the socks to flat black.  With that palette, a vaguely "cartoon-y" drawing seemed like the obvious choice.  I found a good one to use as a jumping-off point on a clip-art site.

I decided that if the white and black sections were too densely covered the bare ground in between might look ignored rather than intentional, so I used blackwork fill patterns to more lightly "paint" the colors in.  There's more irregularity than you'd see on evenweave, even in most regimented of the represented patterns, but I felt that only added to the impression of rippling fur.  I really embraced that on the chest and muzzle, where I didn't even try to work in rows.

I think it turned out pretty well.  I do think if I had it to do over again I'd use a topaz or amber for the eyes, rather than the bright secondary yellow.  They contrast very sharply with the red, and draw more attention than I'd really intended.  The embroidery is worked with six-strand cotton floss.  I believe I used three strands for the outline and two for the fill patterns.
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