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11  MORE ART, LESS CRAFT / More Art, Less Craft: Completed Works / Beginning calligraphy practice on: February 14, 2013 08:04:39 PM
I'm brand new at calligraphy, but I'm pretty pleased with how a couple of my works turned out for the first shot. These are done with a traditional western-style calligraphy pen and gouache.

This quote is from The Phantom Tollbooth (when they're in The Doldrums). I love that book so much that I think I will read it again; it still must be magical even as an adult. I really like how "alternate" and "Thursdays" turned out. However, my eyes cannot stop noticing the stark difference in spacing between the letters of "Laughing" and all the other words. Sad

Gothic alphabets are the easiest to start with to get used to the pen and the basics of calligraphy. I liked this one, because it added just a bit of flair to the "traditional" look with the diamonds. The "B" is my favorite.

This was my first practice with flourishing. I love it, and I hope to come up with more creative types on my own. This quote is from the song Man of Devotion by Fool's Garden.

This was actually my first Gothic alphabet on the second try. The number set is actually my own, because the alphabet didn't already have one. I absolutely hate the 9 and 4, but I really love the 6! People have told me that the 7 should be slanted.

I didn't use any kind of ruler lines except for with the first one, so I do know there is some fluctuation in the spacing/sizing as well as upper and lower edges. This was just for practice, so I didn't find it necessary.

Anyway, I'm really enjoying this. I like to crank my music up and just do whatever I want with the pen. I find it quite soothing!
12  HOME SWEET HOME / Crafty Housewares: Completed Projects: General / Decorative Pillow #1 on: December 31, 2012 06:57:53 PM
Original post December 31st:

First of all...

Invisible zippers: 2
Becca: 0

Why, oh why, invisible zippers, do you cause me such anguish? Seriously, does anyone know how to do these? I can get the meat of them very nice-looking, but the zipper pull end and especially the zipper stop end give me such a pain. I end up having to hand-stitch a few inches of it, and it always looks at least a bit wonky. Tips anyone?

This project is the Zip-O-Riffic pillow out of the book S. E. W. by Diana Rupp. I was so glad for her well-written, inspiring tutorial. This book also has an incredible amount of information in it about materials and basic sewing in general (I'm new!) that is helpful and informative.

At any rate, I'm still proud of how this turned out. I have been shopping for more decorative pillows for quite awhile, but I refuse to pay $30+ for a friggin' pillow. Why not make it myself??

Oh, and the red band is actually the same thickness as the brown one, but it looks wider in the middle because of its stretch (didn't expect that). It's sort of a mini-corduroy material that looks suede-ish.

So when I get the courage and energy to do the other pillow, that'll get done...

Without further ado...

Back shot showing the niceness of most of the zipper in back:

Close-up of the zipper stop wonkiness that I hope nobody will notice:

Action shot (the color coordination looks better in person, I promise):

Thanks for looking!

Update January 2nd:

I finished pillow number two, and I'm happy with how my new additions look in the living room. I also figured out how to insert a lovely-looking invisible zipper...I'm thinking of doing a tutorial on it. Look how nicely this one turned out:

13  CLOTHING / Clothing: Completed Projects: General / Teal shantung dress...*finally* done on: December 07, 2012 05:48:43 PM
I've been working on this dress for ages. It's one of those projects (I know most of you can relate) that I started, got frustrated with, and put down for a few months. It's my third commercial pattern (Butterick 6582). Honestly, I'm kind of upset with how it turned out. There's no ease in the hip area at all (my fault for not measuring and cutting more carefully), the neckline is way too high and strange-looking, and the bows sit much farther back than I would like. Still, I'm proud of it. The invisible zipper took a serious amount of time (primarily to make the bottom edge not look screwed up). I regret not sticking with the pattern's directions of sewing it such that there is a line of thread on either side of the zipper (showing) (does that make sense to anyone?). There's also a teeny, tiny hole near the seam at one point, and I pray it doesn't open further. I tried putting some iron-in interfacing behind it, but it didn't stay on. And I hope and pray the seams don't bust at the hip when I sit down after a few times of wearing it. I think I'll be okay if I slim down by running a couple extra miles the day before! I had to do some doctoring to the darts, which were a huge pain. I had obviously chalked them on unevenly, so they're actually much longer than they're supposed to be (lengthened some to match). It was for the better, though, because it tightened the bust area (there was way too much room for me initially). At least two of the darts look super wonky, but you can't really tell when I'm wearing it (I think). The bows took forever because of issues with the pattern and redoing them completely (done by the pattern, they're massive). Thanks for looking, and thanks to those who helped me in these forums when I got stumped!

14  CLOTHING / Clothing: Discussion and Questions / Dimpling a bow on: November 13, 2012 02:09:10 PM
Alrighty, next task for this dress I'm making (still on the bows, for anyone who saw my "sew invisibly" post). In the image below, I have shown the two bows for this dress that go on the shoulders. I bent out the outer edges of the top one to give it a dimpled effect. The bottom one is how it naturally sits, straight as an arrow. I very much prefer the top style better, but it absolutely does not stay that way for very long. Should I just do some long, taught stitches in the back to make it stay?
15  CLOTHING / Clothing: Discussion and Questions / "Sew invisibly" ? on: November 08, 2012 05:44:47 PM
I'm working on a super elegant, gorgeous dress that I will absolutely post when finished. There are adorable bows that go on the shoulders, and that's where I am now. The problem is that it's telling me to "sew invisibly" on a couple of the lines. The only way I know to do this is by hand, picking up just a few threads at a time on the side that will be seen. I would like to avoid this, because I don't have much time left to finish this. That's also just really a lot of effort. All I can find online is for stitching a blind hem, which I'm pretty sure is not what this wants me to do. For reference, I've included an image of this page of the pattern below. Any suggestions? Thanks for looking!

16  Halloween / Halloween Costumes / Daria Morgendorffer and Slenderman on: October 28, 2012 12:09:53 PM
The boyfriend and I went to a Halloween party last night (which was super fun), and now that the excitement has died down, I finally have the chance to post our costumes here! I was Daria Morgendorffer from the MTV series Daria (she's originally from Beavis & Butthead, so think back to that era if you can't remember her).

The skirt is a 7" flat band with a 10" pleated section below. I plan to move the pleated section up and use it as a normal skirt now. The original post is in the clothing section, which you can see here: http://www.craftster.org/forum/index.php?topic=415195.0

I'm actually somewhat pleased with how the jacket turned out. I didn't realize when I bought the zipper that it didn't have the part where you can unhook it at the bottom, so I had to pull it on and off my head like a regular shirt! It was pretty funny.

My boyfriend was Slenderman:

The jacket is one he found at a thrift shop, took the sleeves off of, and made super long ones. I'd been hassling him about finishing the costume for 2 months and, in his fashion of procrastinating, put it off until the day of the party. He had only finished one hand (actually pretty neat), so he just said forget it for that part. He also discovered he only had fabric for one pant leg, so he just had to sort of wrap some fabric around him for the picture. He's standing on drywall stilts, by the way.

Thanks for looking! It was quite an adventure.
17  CLOTHING / Clothing: Completed Projects: General / My first pleated skirt! Piece #1 of Daria costume done... on: October 07, 2012 10:09:40 AM
You may or may not be familiar with the once-popular MTV cartoon series Daria. I watched her when I was very tiny, and I always looked up to her. I've wanted to be Daria for Halloween for many, many years (almost put together a Jane costume in middle school). Well, I'm finally gonna make it happen this year. So this is piece #1, and I'll start working on the green jacket soon.

If you don't know her...I'm just happy to have finished this skirt, and I plan to where it for other occasions as well. I'm pretty danged proud of it, especially considering I didn't use a pattern. Just my head. This is also my first experience with darts, which really took some time. Things I don't like:

The darts are still a little bubbly.
The pleat-to-flat-band size ratio (I think I'll change that after Halloween).
The zipper bubbles out at the bottom (see first photo, right side, top edge of pleats-hard to tell). I think I can fix this when I resize it after Halloween. Right now, the pleated portion starts exactly at the end of the zipper. I'll later move the pleats up.

Thanks for looking!

18  MORE ART, LESS CRAFT / More Art, Less Craft: Completed Works / Pyrography (image heavy) on: September 11, 2012 06:48:33 PM
For the Monster Swap 4, I sent a woodburnt plaque to my partner:

She seemed very impressed by the technique and wanted to know how it was done, so this is for her! Now, I expect that seasoned pyrographers will probably chime in after this. I expect and welcome that, as I really am a newbie.

First, tools:

You'll need a phyrography pen, which you can buy for about $15. They generally come with a small assortment of tips; the second picture shows the tips included with my Walnut Hollow pen as well as a few others I bought.

You'll also want some scrap wood to practice on before touching the pen to the official project. DO NOT try to cut corners here. It really makes a difference to practice first. As you can see in the picture above, the tree was originally supposed to look quite a bit different, but I found on my practice wood that that technique just would not do. This also helps you get a feel for how long to hold the tip at any one point. This makes all the difference in the appearance of a project. I dragged the pen tip extremely slowly across the wood to get deep, exaggerated lines that gave a dramatic, bold feel. Using quick strokes can allow for a gentle and wispy appearance, which is good for hair/grass/etc. The lines will also be brown rather than black and will not be very recessed. Make sure to pick up the pen as little as possible, because it is tough to hide each spot where you placed the pen down. Make continuous lines wherever possible. Another reason to use a practice piece is to get a feel for how the temperature is going to affect your method. On some pens, you can vary the temperature, but you cannot on mine (and it seems that way for most cheaper ones). For these, the pen gets hot. Really, really, really, REALLY hot. I mean it! At any rate, the amount of time you have allowed the pen to heat will make a difference, so test first! If your line ends up too dark, you can try to gently scrape or sand off some of the darkness. This technique will not always work, though, so start out light and then go darker if you feel the project needs it.

One key to remember is NOT to use pressure. Allow the heat of the pen to do the work. Pressing down will not only often result in an undesirable appearance (it's hard to regulate the pressure, so your lines will be of uneven width and depth), but it can ruin the tip. You can see in the image above that I had bent the tip of my leaf point by the end of the project (new one on the left). At times, I forget not to press down! Remember that the tips are much more malleable when heated. This effect will eventually be seen in this style of tip anyway, but using light pressure will prolong the tips' lives.

Next: the carbon layer. From the natural carbon in wood, the tips will get covered in a layer of carbon very quickly (used but slightly cleaned one on the right). This reduces heat transfer and, if built up enough, can cause ugly, black blobs of goo to come out of the wood. For this reason, keep a clean pen tip! Keep fine sandpaper next to you while you work, and clean the tip on it when it starts to get dark. Use very, very fine sandpaper, and try to minimize the amount you scrape off. This will dull and reshape your tips more quickly than you think, but it is necessary. Make sure you use sandpaper with a paper backing, rather than the cheap stuff with styrofoam in the middle (you'll know what I mean if you see it). This is because the tip will melt straight through that extremely quickly. Also, prepare for the improved heat transfer after cleaning the tip. You will not need to hold the pen in one spot as long until the carbon builds up again.

Okay, the last thing is SAFETY. I know a lot of people craft with cats running around everywhere or other roaming pets. DO NOT let them anywhere near you at all when you do this. I've dropped my pen on the carpet a couple times, and it melted the carpet in that one little spot in literally less than a second. When it comes time to change pen tips, be patient! I usually wait a bit (maybe 10 minutes?) after turning the pen off and then cool it the rest of the way with a thick, folded paper towel drenched in cold water. Do not EVER try to do this with your hands until the pen is completely cool (test the handle first, as this part gets very hot, then test as you would a clothing iron). Don't even try it with gloves that are not meant for heat. I tried this once with leather work gloves and even got burnt (although not badly) through those in an instant. Basically, I can't tell you enough how hot these pens get. Now, you probably will eventually want to wear gloves while burning, because the pen does get hot. Definitely work in a well-ventilated area. If you can, have a small fan positioned such that it can blow the fumes away from you.

WOW that was way longer than I intended it to be. I hope this helps anyone who is trying to get into pyrography! I've had so much fun with this hobby. In fact, it's very therapeutic at times!

Enjoy and happy woodburning!
19  CLOTHING / Clothing: Discussion and Questions / Un-ruching? on: May 24, 2012 09:53:48 AM
Years ago, I bought a really cute top. But when I took it home, I realized it had ruched shoulders, which I really hate. It also had elastic around the ends of the sleeves, which bothered me even more. So I cut the elastic out and re-sewed it. But because it's knit, the re-sewn edges are sort of wavy. That combined with the ruching looks awful to me. What can I do? Should I cut the shoulder seam, cut some width from the sleeve, and re-sew the shoulder? Should I sew a discreet pleat to hide the waviness? Should I cut the sleeve off altogether? The most difficult part in all this for me is that it's knit. I'm pretty new to sewing. Please let me know if I need to explain this again- I know it's probably super confusing.
20  CLOTHING / Clothing: Completed Projects: General / Look what I made! - one shouldered top on: December 08, 2011 03:33:21 PM

My first commercial pattern ever! I am super proud of myself! It was actually supposed to be a dress, but it's waaay too short, so it's now a top. The colors in this picture are a bit off. It's a golden-yellow and maroon.
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