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21  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!

22  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!
23  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.
24  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.
25  PURSES, BAGS, WALLETS / Purses, Bags, Wallets: Completed Projects: General / Yaaay! First zipper project complete! on: March 20, 2011 08:48:46 AM
Those of you who read my distressed post entitled "Why I HATE sewing" can now see the successful DVD player sleeve. I went back to the store to get more supplies, and I saw this satin hounds tooth. Hounds tooth is my favorite pattern! And to go with...a flashy red zipper! It's just perfect! Whew...stress be gone!

26  PURSES, BAGS, WALLETS / Purses, Bags, Wallets: Discussion and Questions / Why I HATE sewing...[DVD Case] on: March 17, 2011 01:00:20 PM
So I don't do a whole lot of sewing. Just basic stuff like hemming. I decided yesterday to sew a case for my portable DVD player. I was all worried about this project, being the first time I've done anything with a zipper. And when I got done sewing the zipper and two sides, I was super proud! The player fit perfectly!!!...through the back. The zipper needed to be about a freakin' half inch longer. And now I don't even have enough fabric to make a separate case for it. So now I need to know what to do with this. It's really not wide enough for pencils or my clay tools or anything. Ugh. I hate this. In every sewing project I do, no matter how hard I try to get everything perfect, I do some major, stupid mistake. Sorry for the rant. I worked really hard on this!  Cry

27  FIBER ARTS / Felting: Completed Projects / Meet Jeremy! on: January 15, 2011 06:13:34 PM
Jeremy the owl! He was sent for the needlebook swap, and I think it was a success. My partner loves it!  Grin Grin Grin

The first one is the "cover." The second is the center flap without needles (cover folded back), and the last one is the center flap with needles (those colors are much truer as well). The closure for the front is a bent nail. Smiley Jeremy is meant to look evil, but I have "programmed" him to protect his official owner. The center flap is meant to look like colors shooting out of a vortex. I don't know if that's what people get out of it, but that's how I envisioned it. I had fun making this, but it wasn't easy getting it done quickly. I'm working with some personal deadlines, so there were definitely a few full days of felting!

28  FIBER ARTS / Felting: Discussion and Questions / smoothing projects on: January 02, 2011 05:28:20 PM
I was reading this forum awhile back and saw a post 10 or so back about "smoothing" projects. One bit of advice was to gently wet felt it with soap and your fingers. I tried that on one of my pieces, and it just made it ridiculously fuzzy. So then I figured I was too rough with the material, and I did it extremely gently with another piece. Still made it much fuzzier! What am I doing wrong?
29  FIBER ARTS / Felting: Discussion and Questions / white felt on: December 26, 2010 08:05:03 PM
I recently purchased some white felt, but it is more off-white than anything. Can I bleach it to make it bright white?
30  POTTERY, CERAMICS, POLYMER CLAY / Polymer Clay: Discussion and Questions / compatible chemicals on: December 17, 2010 10:14:34 AM
I decided I want to make a sort of snow globe with a polymer clay figurine inside. But I know that certain chemicals can destroy the clay, so I decided to ask about it. It was suggested to glue the figurines inside using aquarium sealant (it's just silicone), so what's the compatibility of that one? For the liquid, I read that you can use plain water, baby oil, or mineral oil (the oil makes the snow fall more slowly). So what of those?
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