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1  FIBER ARTS / Spinning: Discussion and Questions / Treadle Sewing/Spinning Machine on: March 10, 2009 03:33:58 PM
So, i was offered a treadle sewing machine, with a spinning attachment, for CAD 350 through craigslist. More that I was willing to pay, so I'm passing, but I'm curious if anyone has seen one of these functioning in real life. I've seen them before in a documentary about Cowichan sweaters, but none of the local spinners I know have actually seen the treadle base with spinning attachment. Anyone? I've tried googling it, but when I put "treadle" and "spinning" into the same search field, I seem to end up with a lot of survivalist websites....
2  CLOTHING / Clothing: Completed Projects: General / Underbust corsets in indian fabrics -- pciture heavy! on: August 20, 2008 12:30:50 AM
So, I spent most of July madly sewing these to get them done in time to vend at this huge pagany/mythical musical festival called FaerieWorlds that was held the first weekend in August at this winery in oregon. A bunch of friends and I pitched in the cost for a booth -- $650 was too much for me!! Sadly, only two went bye-bye, but I still wanted to share some of my hard work! These are all of the small sizes that fit on my sister's teensy weensy dress form -- the eight or so that are bigger than waist 30" need real people to wear them!

These are all (but one) made out of Indian suits -- so I don't know if this should maybe go in the resconstructed board, but these are more complex of a reconstruction than a cut up t-shirt....

This is one of my favorites, purple silk. Everyone who tried it on looked beautiful in it, including the 13 year old:)

The beading and embroidery is wonderful -- I love the tiny spring-like beads that are used in Indian beading! This underbust started out as the main piece of a suit,  and the point at the top of the underbust would point down to the woman's feet on the suit. I have enough fabric for another one in the fabric with a busk in the centre, made out of the sleeves of the suit that also had intricate embroidery and beading.

This is also one of my faves -- mauve silk, this one started out as a sari.

So the fabric in the centre around the busk is the main part of the sari, and the embroidery is the decorative end of the sari (called the "pallu"). So I didn't do the beading and embroidery myself! People keep asking me. I start with the awesome fabric, and make them into awesome underbusts.

This shows the detail of the embroidery and beading. This corset took me SEVENTEEN HOURS to complete, and that was largely because of having to smash out and pick out all of the beads from the seam allowances, fray checking and tying the threads off. So that's an extra 3-5 hours more than normal, just hammering and tying!  But I'm so pleased with how it turned out -- the fabric was just so beautiful. I have one half completed that I'm hoping will fit me when it's done (I made some mistakes, so it's shrunk by several inches on each side... ) Plus I've got enough fabric from the sari (it's 6-6.5 yards long) to make a skirt, too! But this one is definitely not my size (I'm a 16-18).

One of the first ones I made, back in May. I was just going to make this out of the suit and use green laces to bring out the green, and then my sister brought me this awesome silk that she got for a steal.

Close-up of the contrast dupioni silk boning channels, and the fantastic embroidery. The embroidery only goes around the front four panels, four are less intricate embroidery, and the back panel with the lacing is embroided like these.

Simple black all around, with wonderful beading/embroidery in the centre.

Detail of the embroidery/beading. I fell in love with this. There was actually more  decorative border than there was fabric to make the rest of the underbusts with, so I'm trying to decide what to do with about 20 more inches of this decoration....

I fell in love with this fabric, as wild as it is. It's actually flocked -- not velvet, actual flocking, with sparkles set into the flocking. I'm really glad that I went to th e effort to match up the fabric pattern at the busk.

This shows the sparkles a little bit, but still not as much as in real life. It's so awesome! I wish I had more of this left -- there definitely isn't enough for another one. Maybe a cute bag?

This was made out of another suit -- I managed to squeeze this XS AND an XL out of the front and back. The bias tape is made out of the pants that came with the set -- an indian suit will usually include the main bodice part that usually falls to the knees, REALLY baggy pants, and an often sheer piece that wraps around the neck. So the stripes are from the pants. I like how it's kind of zany:)

The side view. The back is made out of the back of the suit, that is just the embroidery, without the sequins.

This is one of the few that wasn't made out of a suit -- it was made from a Made In Indonesia dress, with the fern on the front. Rayon!

I love the fabric design on this, it reminds me of a multi-coloured purple dalmatian:)

So, construction!

I started out picking out all the seams in the suits, so that I could make the most of the fabric.  I drafted all of my own patterns for these; if you wanted to make one, you could follow the directions from Roethke's post at https://www.craftster.org/forum/index.php?topic=122286.0, or check out the 90ish page corset making thread for links to other pattern drafting sites. Mine are much more even on the top and bottom; they don't have the point at the front and bottom.  I cut out the fashion fabric pieces one-by-one, and then a lining, and 1-2 strength layers, depending on the type of fashion fabric.

After everything was cut out, I started with sewing twill tape channels to the centre of all the non-edge pattern pieces.

Next, I inserted the busks on those that have them (for those that didn't, I sewed four-five boning channels on the front panel.)

Then, I basted the edges, and sewed the next panel's three pieces onto the edge (so lining and strength layer on the bottom, and fashion fabric on top).

I folded those over, pressed with a pressing cloth, and then sewed the boning channel through all layers. I kept doing this, and on the back, I top stitched right next to the seam after I flipped over (not putting a boning channel on that last seam, but topstitching to get the fabric flat).

On the back, I folded the top fashion fabric over and pressed with pressing cloth, then did the same with the bottom lining, pressing it an itsy bitsy amount short of the fashion fabric, so that it won't show. I topstitched it with my handy dandy "edge joining foot." 

Sturdy grommets with my skookum grommet press.

Bias tape out of the matching or corresponding fabric -- I can't recommend this highly enough! Bias tape is so awesome and useful! I've started cutting out twice as much as I think I'll need, just to have neat bias designs on hand, or gorgeous fabrics.

That's pretty much it! I can take some photos of an in-progress one if it wasn't clear how I put the pieces together, and would be happy to answer any questions.
3  JEWELRY AND TRINKETS / Trinkets and Jewelry: Completed Projects: General / Pewter Cast Pendants -- Pewter Casting Tutorial on: August 19, 2008 09:28:20 PM
The preamble/inspiration: So, every spring, a group that I'm involved with (The Aquarian Tabernacle Church of Wicca) put on a festival that recreates the Eleusinian Mysteries of ancient Greece, called Spring Mysteries. I was a member of the cast that puts on the ritual theatre, performing the role of Athena and working with this archetype. Normally all of the cast members receive a token, usually made out of fimo. They're nice enough, but in the two prior years I was on cast, I always thought -- we can totally do better than this!!

So as I was researching Athena, I discovered that she's also the patron of fine metalworking. Knowing people in the SCA who do things like cast their own buttons, I thought it would be really neat to try to cast our cast token. So I did some research online, and found the basics of this, and went to town! First the photos, then below I've described how I did this!

A close-up of the pendants that really shows the detail.

Another close-up that shows three different molds, if you look closely -- the tops of the pomegranate are a bit different on each, as is the wheat shaft. Although we don't know much about the Mysteries of Eleusis, we DO know that they involved Demeter, Persephone, and her descent into the underworld, so these two symbols represent that.

To give you an idea of the quantity that I was making... There were 85 cast, staff, and crew, so I ended up making around 120-130, and rejecting quite a few to go back into the melting pot. That's not counting the ones I rejected immediately after casting them....

This shot shows a close-up of an owl pendant that I made for myself. At the festival, people come and speak with the individuals working with the archetypes of the dieties. They seek advice, counsel, and inspiration -- many people dedicate themselves to working with a diety for a year and a day. For the individuals who chose to devote themselves to working with Athena and one of her many aspects, I made tokens like this pendant -- no top, just like a coin. Something for them to take with them, to remind them of her attributes of seeing all parts of a situation, being just, fair, etc. It's modeled after the silver coins that circulated in Athens, with Her owl and the olive branch on the top corner. Unfortunately, I gave all the actual tokens away, so this is just the pendant I made for myself.

This photo also shows a tiny little pentacle I cast as well.

It also shows the back of the pendants, so you can see that it's not nearly as shiny as the front, and can sometimes be a bit rough.

I chose to start off easy -- you can make two part molds for pendants,  (and three part molds for things like buttons!) but you have to be very very patient and meticulous when making it that the two sections match up. So I started with an even surface, and just poured the melted pewter into the molds.

So, to start casting pewter, you need very little!

carving tools
ventilation mask
wax (tealight candle is perfect)
old stainless steel spoons of different sizes to use jsut for this -- tbsp, tsp, smaller
oven mitts
old stainless steel pot to use just for this
stove top/camp stove

First, you need soap stone. This is what was often used back in the middle ages to cast simple items. If you've ever felt a soapstone carving, did you notice how it has a little sheen to it? Like, when you rub it, something almost comes off on your fingers? That is what allows this to be used as a mold with no release agents. I bought some chunks of it at the local art supply store, each chunk of it was only $2-4, it's sold by the lb, and that was enough for  two-three flat surfaces to carve into.  It comes looking like a rock usually -- but as it's extremely soft, all you need to cut it is a hacksaw! Cut it into slices, about one inch thick is fine, if you're not carving very deep. Do this outside, with a dusk mask, or with a ventilator inside (soapstone powder/dust contains silica, which can cause cancer if inhaled and it settles in your lungs). I did this outside just to make sure that no dust settled anywhere else to resurface later.

I used a linoleum cutter to carve into the soapstone. It definitely dulled the blades, and one blade has a little hole in it now. I've heard that people use things like dental tools and so on to carve -- I didn't see anything at the art store that would allow me to achieve the detail I wanted, and didn't want to spend the money and time to track down and purchase better tools for this test run, so went with what I had on hand. It was nice to have the five different blade options, especially the wide round and the tiny V one.

Next, carve your design! I started with carving a circle, and the top bit, and then carved the design even deeper, so that it stands out on the final cast. I found this easier than carving the background deeper so that the design sinks in, as my designs were pretty detailed. You can use a brush if needed to ensure all the dust is removed from the mold. Take the tealight, and burn it until the wax is melted, and pour into the mold. Be PATIENT while the wax sets, as if you try to remove it too soon, it will make a mess and get all over. Once it's set on the outside, turn the mold upside down, and it should fall out on it's own, releasing from the mold, once it's set. I would suggest doing this twice at least -- there will be bits of dust in the wax mold, so you may not get an accurate test until a few in.

This shot shows the main molds I used. You can see that I fit three individual molds onto the surface. The bottom isn't even on either of them -- I prefer to simply hold them in my hand as I'm casting, so I can just hold them level as I pour, and this minimizes the amount of time that the pewter in the spoon is away from the heat.

This shows the different sizes, and you can kind of see the thing at the top for stringing the twine onto to hold the necklace. I did some test runs, and the pewter hardens too fast to be really finicky with the top, so I simply made an indentation, with the outside edge carved as deep as the pendant face, and the centre not carved as deep. Once they were cast, I took a drill and did all the holes manually with that. If I'd done a two piece mold, I could have put this at the bottom, and it would have filled first and I could have saved myself that task, but  this was my first time! I just used a regular bit, the pewter sets hard enough to not scratch from daily wear, but will still drill easily.

The final mold I used for the pomegranate and wheat pendants. As you can see, there USED to be three on the one face, but I dropped it, luckily after I'd done them all. Soapstone is delicate! The disadvantage of placing the three on the same face, was that when I'd be casting them all at once, is that the mold gets hot fairly quickly.

Once you have a mold you're happy with, the next step is procure pewter. I purchased mine by the pound from a local place here in Surrey, BC called Purity Alloys. They ship from their website. There are probably places near to you -- look around, maybe check on a local SCA group and see if anyone there knows of anything. You can melt down pewter items from the thrift store-- BUT be very aware of what you're melting. Much of it may contain lead, which will be very very bad to work with indoors. If you cannot find any lead-free pewter where you live, and have to use thrift store stuff melted down, be certain to check the labels, and if there's a possibility that it might contain lead, use a camp stove and melt the pewter outside. On the plus side, your item may be a bit more durable if it does contain some lead (although I didn't have any problems with mine!).

Start with a stainless steel pot (cheap at thrift store), and put the pewter in it. It looks kind of neat as it melts -- see below

I put the pot on medium on the stove -- that's all the heat this needs! Wait 10-20 minutes for it to melt entirely. It will smell a tiny bit like burning as it melts, especially when you're melting the pewter for the first time, as there will be lots of spots where nothing is touching the pot, and thus the pan will get really hot there until it has some melted pewter to touch it!  Once molten, it looks kind of like how I imagine liquid mercury to look. I'm not sure what the term is, how water beads and doesn't just flatten out -- this occurs much more dramatically with pewter!

As it melts, some dull scummy stuff will gather on the top, this is the impurities in the metal coming out.

You can see it in this picture -- you need to take a spoon and skim it off the top, either taking it out entirely, or just push it to the side like I do. You do NOT want to take the pewter out of the pot when there's scummy stuff on it. Use the back of the spoon to just push it out of the way.

As the pewter melts, take your spoons and bend them at the base of the spoon. The best kind of spoon I found had a wooden handle, that kept it from getting too hot. Ideally, you want a spoon that holds about how much pewter is needed for your mold. There's a lot of room for variation here -- the pewter can hold itself several MM at least on top of the spoon, since the edge of the pewter holds together so well (Damnit, what's the term for that?!)

Once your pewter has melted, you're ready to cast some! Have a sturdy empty plate or hotpad or over mid standing by to put your VERY HOT finished items into.

Take your mold in your hand, in the oven mitt, and take one of the spoons. Skim the top, take some pewter into the spoon, and gently pour it into the mold, being careful not to splash! I got blisters from tiny splashes on my hands...

As you've done a few, you'll see that if you pour too much pewter into the mold, it will overflow on the edges (You can see what I mean by looking at the photo above with the three side by side - the one on the left has a bit of pewter on the top left that shouldn't really be there, that "spilled" over the edge of the mold.) The "surface tension" will usually keep the edges round, so I find that it's better to fill a little bit less than your mold (You can see how the back becomes rounded on the photo with the owl pendant, on the backs). If you've got a "thing" at the top, I find that it works best to pour the pewter at the top of the circle, so that it can fill the top first and then flow down into the mold.

Almost as soon as the pewter hits the mold, it will start cooling. You will see this effect, the pewter goes from super shiny molten to a bit duller. You will tend to see the cooling move towards the centre, and the centre will sometimes be a bit rough where it cools, depending on how many impurities are in your pewter, and if you skimmed the top before taking the pewter into the spoon to pour.

As soon as the back turns slightly duller, flip the mold upside down onto the plate/oven mitt, and it should fall right out. DON'T pick it up! It's super hot! Use a spoon to flip it over and take a look. You've cast pewter!! You'll probably want to cast some more -- I cast more than I need, and then choose which ones I want to keep. Gently put the rejects back into the pot (remember, splashing molten metal isn't good! It WILL blister!), and melt them down for future projects.

Once the soapstone gets really hot (ie, if you've cast quite a few), the pewter pieces may become cloudy and not as shiny on the good side. This means that your mold is too hot. Take a break and let it cool down before continuing.

If the front looks awesome, but the back is a bit rough, take some sandpaper and sand down the rough spots. I think I started with around 110, then 220, then finer, especially if it'll be next to your skin.

Feel free to ask any questions and I'll try to answer them! I don't claim to be an expert, just wanted to share my experience with this great do-at-home activity!
4  CANADA / British Columbia / Semi-precious stone beads, lapidary supplies, metal chains, silversmithing gems on: August 10, 2008 10:23:54 PM
Hey everyone, I was at Rockabout Gems in Richmond (Steveston) today, and they're moving, so from now until mid Sept, all of their merch is 30% off. This includes an AWESOME assortment of semi-precious stones that are already reasonably priced, a bunch of misc stones from neat places, AND lapidary supplies galore. They also have a ton of stones ready to be set into silver/gold findings, if you do silversmithing (I don't, so I'm not sure what all their selection includes, but it looks plentiful).

Just wanted to let folks know!
5  CROCHET / Crochetalongs / DORMANT: SweaterBabe Kimono Wrap sweater on: June 18, 2007 08:29:53 PM

This sweater looks just delicious. Anyone else seen it and thinking of making it? If only I'd had this pattern in hand when I was in Weaving Works in Seattle this weekend to pick out some lovely yarn....
6  QUILTING / Quilting: Discussion and Questions / Rotary Cutter Blade Sharpeners? on: January 02, 2007 11:44:11 PM
Has anyone bought and tested one of those rotary cutter blade sharpeners? I saw them at the local quilting shop in the fall, and keep wondering if they actually work and are worth the investment....
7  Archive of Past Craftster Challenge Entries / CHALLENGE 7 ENTRIES / How to keep the neck warm on those cold winter nights.... Denim Scarf! on: November 08, 2005 06:14:37 PM
Okay, so originally I was thinking that I would weave a purse, but didn't have enough time to make a loom kind of thing, so I decided to make something totally different! So I cut two pairs of jeans ($2 each from the thrift store) into 1/2 inch strips, trying to stay on the grain as much as possible, and sewed all the peices together with the sewing machine with a quick zigzag and backstitch. Then I spent several hours knitting them up! I had to purchase new needles, size 15mm, and was amused that the needles were more than the jeans....

The full shot!

A closeup of the closure, with a button I stole from my sister that just slides through the loose knit.

So the way I sewed them together, I alternated between the light and the dark, so it created an awesome design, I think:

Overall, I'm pretty pleased with how this turned out, and am contemplating how it would work with other materials.... Cutting the jeans out took a long time, I think it would have been much easier if I'd been cutting straight from fabric. This challenge has totally been awesome, I'm glad this theme was so awesome and has produced so much awesome and original stuff!!

8  MISCELLANEOUS TOPICS / Discussion and Questions / Home Depot Zine -- Anyone interested in submitting? on: October 07, 2005 09:47:25 AM
Hey! I'm hoping that this is the right place to post, as it doesn't really fit in anywhere else.....

I'm planning on making a Home Depot themed compilation zine, and am looking for submissions from people. Since craftsters seem to get a lot of supplies at HD, I was wondering if anyone here wanted to send me a submission. It an be about an experience at HD, a fantastic and unique ideal about how to use some regular things for irregular and much cooler purposes, and pretty much anything that relates to the big orange box. Contributors will get a free copy of the zine when it's finally done. Please respond to this thread or PM me if you're interested!

9  JEWELRY AND TRINKETS / Beads: Completed Projects / Amythest necklace on: October 04, 2005 01:54:21 AM
So I was at the bead shop looking for stones for the unconditional swap, and was picking through the overpriced semi-precious stones, and as soon as I picked up this particular stone, I knew that I had to have it! I'd never felt much of an attachment to amythest, even though it's my birth stone -- but the clear triangle in this peice just walloped me and drew me in:), as it's so unique.

I actually made this backstage at a show I was assistant stage managing (I didn't have any cues:)), so I didn't include a picture of the clasp at all, because I forgot the baggy of them at home, and used two earring hooks that I squished in a bit. It's heavy enough that it hasn't come off yet!

Let me know what ya think!
10  ORGANIZED CRAFT SWAPS / New Swap Theme Ideas / Stash Swap #2? on: September 24, 2005 12:43:48 AM
Hey, I've been madly coveting the fantastic items in the current stash swap gallery at
https://www.craftster.org/forum/index.php?topic=50945.0 , and I was wondering if anyone was interested in another round? I have sooo much stuff that is just hankering for a good new home.

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