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1  REUSING/RECYCLING/RECRAFTING / What the heck can I do with THIS? / Chair Too Busted? Field-Dress That Sucker! on: September 14, 2009 12:56:34 AM
It's rubbish day where we live, and we are having to curb four chairs to broken to fix, let alone sit in. I took the vinyl off one, which inspired me to "skin" a leather covered reclier before it was put out. I knew it had some leather on it, what I didn't know was that it was all leather.
Even the interior facings were leather.
I got about 2.5 yards of really good material off this chair. I had to spend time taking out staples and bolts and cutting threads, but it was absolutely worth the effort. I have been wanting so much to make a nice leather satchel and now I have the stuff for it! (And will display the results here on Craftster, of course.)

(I also got half a 13-gallon garbage bag's worth of clean polyfill! Pillows ahoy!)

What I'm saying is, if you have to huck a chair, see if you can reclaim the fabric. If you see a chair with a nice covering, but the chair is beyond fixing, take the fabric! It's actually pretty fun seeing how much you can get (especially if you like taking apart things), and it's satisfying to see that it's not wasted.

Anyone else had a great finds in reclaiming materials from furniture?
2  PURSES, BAGS, WALLETS / Purses, Bags, Wallets: Completed Projects: General / Evangelion Insulated Bento Bag! on: September 06, 2009 04:09:37 AM
My daughter and I got into bento in a really big way when she returned to public school in January '09. She tried the school lunch about one time and declared that she'd make and carry lunches from home so she a) could save us money (awwww!) and b) have actual food to eat. (I saw the "food" with my own eyes, and she made a good call. There's nothing pretty about a school cafeteria duplicating fast food that was already gross!)
We had some bento bags, but they were very small and uninsulated. My daughter needed a bag that was a) insulated b) a decent size c) cool, which meant it had to feature some of her art. She chose a piece of Evangelion fanart she painted called "Thinking."
(My daughter's a ridiculously talented plush maker, and she's about to start a Craftster account to share her work.)

I almost made the lunch bag with the fold-down top, but then I found this pattern for a lunch bag with a drawstring top from Oh Fransson!

The Oh Fransson! pattern calls for a quilted interior and vinylized exterior (puzzling choices). I used iron-on vinyl on the lining fabric, and used ThermoWeb HeatnBond Lite to laminate InsulBrite (an insulating batting made by needlepunching mylar with polyester batting) to the exterior fabric.
I didn't have any trouble getting a universal-sized (15) needle through the Insul Brite or the vinyl.
OF! laminated vinyl to the handle fabric, which gives the handles body. Since I didn't do that, I stiffened the handles with heavyweight fusible interfacing.

On to the pictures!

The great thing about the InsulBrite, besides its insulating properties, is that it makes the bag stand up on its own and the corners are very crisp! Since I'm a fiend for sharp corners, I'm delighted.
The drawstrings are recycled from a pair of her brother's shoes. (Yes, I put new laces in before I took these!)

This is my daughter's favorite work from her deviantART gallery. She's really gotten into Neon Genesis Evangelion (I remember when it first came out, haha!), and chose this piece she painted of Eva 2. I printed it on to inkjet t-shirt transfer paper, ironed it on to cotton twill, then stuck it to the bag using HeatnBond Lite. (Something I LOVE about HeatnBond Lite is that it's a low-temp adhesive and NO STEAM REQUIRED!)
Pieces attached with HnB Lite aren't completely fixed without stitching, so I did zig-zagged the hell out of it.
For fun, I did it with glow-in-the-dark thread.  
NOTE: I added the patch BEFORE I sewed a single seam.

A closeup of the stitching on the patch. When the thread is "charged" and the patch seen in a dark room, the outlines of the art look like a teeny constellation. :3

Here's the interior! In Evangelion, the Evas fights aliens called "Angels." I picked a fabric that had ghosts that resembled the Angels. From this angle, they look like they're swirling madly in there, like they might take lunch to another dimension.
OF! calls for hand-sewing the lining to the bag, but this gal's not interested in getting a sewing needle through vinyl. I sewed the lining to the exterior by pinning (pinning pinning) them together and following the topstitching lines.

Last, a maker's tag. Tags are a little thing that really make a huge difference! Everyone should use them!
(That's my name "Lea Ada Franco", and "Her Work" on the back. I used the "K" in work as the "K" in 2K9, 2009.)

Hope you dig it!  
I learned a lot from making this bag, since I'd never used InsulBrite HeatnBond Lite or iron-on vinyl before. If you have any questions about the materials, please ask!

3  PURSES, BAGS, WALLETS / Purses, Bags, Wallets: Discussion and Questions / Iron-On Vinyl is-a Makin' Me Crazy! on: September 03, 2009 11:17:25 PM
After many many swatch tests with good cotton fabric, "medium" heat (my iron's medium is on the high side) "low" heat (which is more medium), I still not seeing the awesomely smooth results I have seen online.

My best results HAVE been on pretty low heat. But what I'm seeing is, instead of vinyl laminated crisply to the fabric, is a lot of bubbles. The smoothest finish so far has been with low LOW heat, but it's still not a result that looks like a matte-shiny finish over a fabric.

So, is it me or the pictures? Does iron on vinyl just kind of bubble? Are the pictures hiding what I see as flaws in my samples? Is this just how it looks?

If anyone's gotten that super-nice finish as if they had sprayed on the vinyl, will you share what settings/pressure/ironing surface you used?

4  POTTERY, CERAMICS, POLYMER CLAY / Polymer Clay: Completed Projects / Polymer Clay Book Cover Illustration on: November 11, 2007 05:03:30 PM
Long time no post, Craftsters! (Mine is the Sticky in Purses for adding a slash pocket to a hobo bag.)

I haven't been crafty enough to post for a while. I lost everything in a house fire a little over a year ago. Funny how that takes over everything. I did learn a lot about building and patience from the experience, though!

On to the Craftiness!
I made this cover illustration as a donation to a project called "Can I Sit With You?" a collection of stories about tough school situations written by grown-ups for kids. The collection benefits the Special Education PTA of Redwood City, CA. It was stormed up by two wonderful women named Shan and Jen.

My notes on clay and building the set follow.

The cover itself:

Detail on the shoes of Nehal, the cafe au lait kid on the left, and they are all clay!:

Detail of Nehal's face, not quite finished:

Nehal's hair is wool roving, twisted and attached with hot glue. The face is painted with acrylics. The blush is red Prismacolor pencil scribbled on lightly, then burnished with my fingers.
Just before the final shoot, I added a little 'Ooomph" to Nehal's hair with a wash of red acrylic dabbed on with my fingers.

Detail of Perry:

You ever wanted to know just what fiber evidence the FBI would find on you? Work with light colored polymer clay. You will find colors of fiber not even in your room. There is absolutely no way to avoid fibers. That's what sanding is for. I love the porcelain smoothness of Perry's head.

There is an annotated version of the cover pic at my Flickr page that explain how many of the things in the picture were made.

A word about materials:
I used mainly Kato Polyclay, because it is, IMNSHO, the best PC out there. The colors barely change in curing, it's got some snap, but blends well and holds detail. I smoothed using acetone and alcohol, but a waterless hand cleaner like Gojo works MUCH better, and it's CHEAP. (Less than $2.00 for a tub that will last years!)
The armatures are wire wrapped with fusible fleece. (After baking and before dessing.) The head and hands were covered with Apoxie sculpt. While Apoxie isn't as light as foil, there's no chance of getting a trapped air bubble that will later crack clay, and Apoxie is ROCK HARD when it cures.
Except for the chains, leaves on the tree and the mini ornaments, everything in the illustration is made from materials I had on hand, both stash and recycled.

Feel free to ask questions, and thanks for looking!

5  PURSES, BAGS, WALLETS / Purses, Bags, Wallets: Completed Projects: General / TUTORIAL: Add a Slash Pocket to Your Bag on: October 08, 2004 11:56:47 PM

This got a little lost in Sushimifune's roomy bag tute thread, so I've deleted the message and am re-posting so no one misses it.

WARNING: large images. Please be patient. Hope they are not too scribbly to follow.

Here's what this looks like at Step 6:

The white lines show how the stitching goes, the arrows indicate where to pivot.
After I made the pockets square (as seen), I changed my mind and made them with rounded corners. I highly recommend rounded corners in any pocket--less places for lint, change, and other kipple to hide.

And here's the finished pocket:
6  MISCELLANEOUS TOPICS / Stitch And BOTCH / Sewing Machine Dive: Has YOUR Machine(s) Tried to Kill Itself? on: October 07, 2004 05:53:59 AM
The other night, I tried to scoot the table that holds my sewing machine, and I ended up popping the legs out of the underside of the table. My sewing machine (a Simplicity Denim Star), swan dived to the floor, my iron going in perfect tandem.
The storage/sewing bed piece of the machine flew off, the cover separating from the bottom, and zipper feet, bobbins, and spools of thread sprayed everywhere.
I picked up the mess, put the table and the sewing machine back together (the cover of the storage didn't break!), and tested my machine.

It still works. I feel so lucky. No more scooting a loaded table for me!

So what machines of yours have had mishaps and survived (or not)?
7  PURSES, BAGS, WALLETS / Purses, Bags, Wallets: Completed Projects: General / Purple Cord Messenger Bag: Needle-Slayer! on: September 25, 2004 10:06:18 PM
I finally finished my messenger bag! I started in early August. I wanted one that would hold at least a binder, a pad of layout paper, and a box of supplies, plus various pens, a wallet, keys, and a CD player or Palm.

And was STYLISH. My computer bag holds all, but it's logo-fugly.

Materials were all "free": the purple corduroy was from an outgrown pair of my daughter's pants, the lining from a 99c pair of pants from Goodwill bought ages ago and never worn, the patches made from my own art and iron on inkjet paper.
The finished size is about 11" x 13", with a 3" gusset. It has a zippered inside pocket (made using sewpixie's great tute), a large flat pocket, and four smaller ones for pens.

It was top-stitched to a fare-thee-well for shaping. I call this bag "Needle-Slayer", because it broke six needles, five during top-stitching after the lining was inserted (my rusty experience with multiple heavy layers is to blame).
It closes with magnetic snaps. I'm going to add a loop and buttom for the center, as it gaps a bit. More of an asthetic issue than a structural one, and it gives me a reason to take a bash at Chinese knot tying.

I basted the zipper and interior patch using Aleene's No-Sew water-soluble glue. Works GREAT.


Interior, loaded up:

Interior, with stuff out, to show off the pockets:

Interior, zipper pocket. Ain't it pretty? I top-stitched it to the lining for extra strength:

Strap detail. I didn't have enough cord to make the width, so I added lining fabric to the sides for contrast, and used a decorative topstitch. It's sturdy and the width is comfy:

Exterior patch of my character Nan1^1, who will appear in my book "Manga Secrets" next year. I loved this piece of art so much I made an iron-on transfer of it, and put it on heavy cotton, pinked the edges, and used a "cross stitch" decorative stitch for a lacy effect:

What do you do when you put a magnetic snap in the wrong spot and you have a hole? You add a patch and pretend like you meant it that way all long. This patch is of my hairless ratties Darwin and Wasabi, made and applied the same way as the Nan patch:
8  MISCELLANEOUS TOPICS / Discussion and Questions / Reincarnating old clothes on: August 25, 2004 12:13:52 AM
Who else does this?

I've found it's not unlike dressing a game animal: you want to pull every last useful bit out of an outgrown pair of pants, or tablecloth, or older project.

The last pair of pants I "dressed" were some of my daughter's outgrown pants, corduroy in a nice purple. Out of these pants I cut:

The outside and strap for a gusseted messenger bag
The outside for a Jordy Bag
The waistband I cut off, then picked off the belt loops and pants fabric so it will be the jordy bag strap
The back pockets I cut off right next to the edges, so they can be topstitched down and be pockets again, and I left about 1/2" fabric at the top so it could be folded under for a tidy top edge
I rescued the zipper, which was still good and can be reused for an inside pocket

I also dressed some nice cotton print pants that I'd gotten at a thrift that no one was going to wear and got enough fabric to line both bags I cuts from the cords, plus a load of scraps to use when learning new techniques with sewing accessories like narrow hemming foot, a buttonholer, a ruffler, etc.

So, what have you gotten out of old clothes?
Do you buy them to cut them up?
Any awesome finds? (My personal best is the linen dress and jacket for $1.)

9  MISCELLANEOUS TOPICS / Discussion and Questions / DIY Tape Dress Form--Everything New is Old Again on: August 24, 2004 11:13:24 PM
I found an AWESOME resource on line for people who want to learn fine sewing:


Which is a reproduction online, FOR FREE, of a 1920's sewing course--an excellent one!

And what should be in this course from almost 80 years ago but this!

A custom-fited dress form made on the body using gummed tape over a knitted shirt!
"This new way of fitting the figure, makes it easy for everyone in the family to have a perfectly-proportioned form of their own. There can be one form for grandmother, another for mother, and still another for the young miss who seems to require so many new clothes for school."
"Even if you do not use your "fit-to-the-figure" form, however, you should know how to make it. For, after all, aren't you planning to be a skillful, accomplished home clothes-makerand as a skillful clothes-maker isn't it necessary for you to know all there is to know about sewing?"

Wow. Cool
10  SEWING IN GENERAL / Sewing in General: Discussion and Questions / Being Cheeky @ the WalMart Fabric Counter on: August 14, 2004 12:51:34 AM
I guess the fabric cutting counter at WalMart closes at midnight, because a lot of bell-ringing produced no cutter, and I really did want the blue-twill. Just a yard, c'mon!

Several team members had seen me and someone else standing at the counter and ignored us. Another woman waiting gave up. But I waited a bit longer. I looked around. No one there.

I've seen how the yardage is measured before: barcode reader with a numeric keypad that sends the yardage and final price to a barcode and description printer. Very nifty, really. The reason why I avoid Hancock Fabrics: besides being messy, no barcode readers. If Wallace Whirled can keep up, why not the Handy Cocks?

It's so not my fault they just leave the scanner out. Somewhere, maybe, on some store cam, and maybe someday on a video program about cheeky customers I will be: the super honest Wally shopper who wasn't going to come back the next day for one yard.

I scanned the barcode on the bolt.
"Enter yardage".
I enter it.
"Enter price/yard."
"2. 0. 0."
"Total $2.00."
"8/13/04 Is this the correct date? Y/N?"
I replaced the scanner and the receipt printed out. DOINK! The beauty of machines designed to require minimal training.

I rolled out my yard, making double sure it was balls-on between the two metal ditches at the ends of the yardmarker, and cut my fabric. Their scissors REALLY needed sharpening. I folded my yard, I rolled up the bolt, and I got the hell out of there.

It was a PITA getting through self-check, but the clerk was cool. I panicked when it didn't scan correctly, maybe I was so busted! But no, it just doesn't like fabric barcodes.

So, that's what watching what people do gets you: self-cut yardage at WM after midnight. Use this knowledge wisely.
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