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1  Shearling Cushions in Crafty Housewares: Completed Projects: General by Lothruin on: December 27, 2018 09:47:15 AM
It was hand-made-using-stash Christmas this year for me. Fortunately for my family, I'm not bad at what I do, and my basement holds many wonders. Although, in the case of these cushions, it was my mother's basement that held most of the ingredients. And I did have to buy the stuffing.

My mom had a couple of tops of really thick, dense shearling sheepkins and a vintage Faribo blanket my dad had accidentally washed. So I combined that with some leather from an old coat, some interfacing, and a LOT of hand-stitching, to make a pair of cushions for the big wooden chairs in my sister's new house.

The coat leather was thin garment-weight leather, so I cut it into strips, sewed the ends together, punched it and ironed on some heavy interfacing, then also punched the shearling and sewed them together using waxed cord and a simple back stitch. The strips were cut extra long and then I just sewed until I'd put a stitch in every hole around the hide, and then cut off the excess from the strip and sewed them together. The back was then sewn on, leaving the flat bottom part open for stuffing. The strips are 1 1/4" wide, so I used 1" foam, plus thick cushion-cover batting, and with the very squishy, dense shearling, it makes a really cozy cushion, even though it's fairly thin.

And since everyone that has seen them has asked, they are not shaped like clouds. That's just the natural shape of the tops of the hides, trimmed down somewhat.
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2  Rigid Heddle Infinity Scarf in Weaving: Completed Projects by Lothruin on: December 27, 2018 09:31:18 AM
So, I made my mother this scarf for Christmas:

It is my second weaving on a rigid heddle loom. The loom is an Erica 25" craft loom from the 70s. It is NOT the most basic loom I've ever seen, but it's pretty basic for a rigid heddle loom. Before, I'd used another craft loom from the 70s that basically amounted to four bars and a heddle, and the weaving was really unpleasant, but I finished a scarf and liked it enough to want to make something else for my mother. Then it broke while I was warping it, so I borrowed the Erica from a friend who has never used it. It was MUCH easier to use.

I know the scarf is VERY inexpertly woven. I don't have a good way of warping the loom (like a place to clamp the loom or a warp peg that doesn't move.... so yeah...) and of course my edges are ugly, because that's what happens with new weavers, or so I'm told. But I deliberately used rustic silk yarns because it makes it luxurious while also helping to mask or at least incorporate somewhat the problems in the weaving itself. Both yarns are knitting yarns. The warp is Shire Silk and the weft is a silk/wool blend from Noro. I warped all the yarn I had, and could have made something longer if it weren't as wide, but I think the proportions are OK.
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3  Quilt Block Pattern Recommendations in Quilting: Discussion and Questions by Lothruin on: July 22, 2018 09:49:12 AM
Hi everyone! So, I'm very much not new to sewing, and I'm confident that my skills will translate, and I've done some basic quilt-like things, like pinwheel potholders and such, but I've really never made a quilt. To be honest, I'm not sure I will be able to make the WHOLE quilt. But I bought some fabric yesterday, and well, I need block recommendations for a new quilter.

See, periodically I take advantage of good sales at Fabric Mart, and a while back they had precut "kits" that came with fabric and a pattern. This one is 1 3/4yd of the dark batik and 5/8yd of the lighter one, plus the pattern, for $3.

The pattern itself is quite interesting, and retailed for $19, but I like it in the drapey linen much better than the more structured batik. But the batik was beautiful colors, and all in all, it seemed like a no-brainer. Then I watched a bunch of videos featuring Edyta Sitar... Dangerous! So, I went to the fabric store yesterday with a 30% off total purchase of Keepsake Calicos fabrics (reg and sale priced) and the two batiks, and this happened:

Actually, all of them are Keepsake Calicos, the Keepsake Calicos were also on sale 40% off, AND the yellow tonal is the only one I got off the non-clearance rack. Everything else came from the dotted clearance rack at Joanns and were 50% off. As a result of how I bargain shop, I know these are somewhat disparate patterns. And I know that there isn't a really balanced mix of dark/light or large/small... I probably need to pick a solid or solid-like background fabric. The gray-background floral might be a binding or backing fabric... I bought the most of it. Plus, although the overall pattern on that one is fairly large-scale, used in small pieces for a quilt, it would work as a medium-sized print. But the thing is, I really just thought they all looked beautiful together somehow, even though they were all so all over the place as far as print-theme and etc. I know there are formulas out there for how to balance types and colors of print, and I'm dead sure I broke all the rules, but it's just pretty, is all. (Plus, I then stopped at the Goodwill before heading home, and found a new-in-package cotton blend full-sized quilt batting for $4. So I took that as a sign.)

So, really, I am just wondering if there are certain block patterns that would lend themselves better to me being careless with my pattern mixing. And possibly advice on maybe a final fabric or two to add in to balance it out?
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4  Just Another Star Wars Scarf in Knitting: Completed Projects by Lothruin on: July 17, 2018 08:44:47 AM
So, my sister married a man with half-grown twin sons. For their first Christmas with us, I wanted to give them something hand-made, but the wedding was in September, and I barely had time to make ANY hand-made gifts that year, going straight from wedding crafting to frantic Christmas crafting. But I DO have one of the Innovations knock-off circular knitting machines, which make super cozy scarves. The boys share everything, but aren't big fans of matching stuff, AND they are nerdbabies after my own heart, so I decided to make them a pair of Star Wars scarves, one Alliance and one Imperial, and they switch around as the mood strikes them.

Each scarf is just a little shorter than the boys are tall, so they should be wearable for many years. For the length and fringe they use about 1 1/3 skeins of (I THINK?) Vanna's Choice, just because it was on sale when I needed it, and then scraps of the contrast color, which was done in duplicate stitch after the main body was knitted. The Innovations machine isn't awesome (but I did get it NIB for $10 at a thrift store, so it works exactly as well as I paid for), and I don't have a great setup to be able to properly weight the knitting, but as long as one is careful, and maybe slower but steady, it's pretty easy to grab mistakes as they happen, and knitting a 5ft long scarf takes very little time.

I made up the charts for the symbols based on the gauge I got, which is a different aspect ratio than most handknitting, and with a couple of exceptions I think they turned out great. I don't really like white duplicate stitch on black; it just doesn't look as well as a dark on light. And I would adjust a stitch or two on the Alliance symbol; the outside curve just where the arms start is a little wonky.

15823079_10154968795602164_4365307807818707418_n by Melissa Rotert, on Flickr
15823646_10154973273217164_9060075620887514462_n by Melissa Rotert, on Flickr

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5  Descent into madness: Small Mice in Amigurumi: Completed Projects by Lothruin on: July 05, 2018 07:50:18 AM
A couple of years ago I helped a LYS owner to get ride of some old stock of knitting machines and coned yarn, and consequently I have quite a few cones of basically baby/sport weight yarn. I got bored and was playing with some of it, and found this little pattern:


And then this happened:

I gave him to my kid, who named him Squabbles and pinned him to the shoulder of her brownie sprite costume for Ren Faire. (She has since been promoted to a full fairy, and Squabbles has retired to her fairy house.)

But that all got me thinking, and then this happened:

And then, this:

At which point, I was honestly starting to wonder how my life had taken this turn and where I would wind up.

And then I learned.

It is a thormouse.

The fairy mice are all made with base colors from the knitting machine yarn, and wee wings and skirts from scraps and bits of leftover sock and baby yarns. Thormouse is made from a collection of KnitPicks Palette I bought a while back in a grab bag at Goodwill, that sort of obviously was leftovers from someone else making a plushie of some kind. Except the silver bits that hold on his cape, which are just some random metallic crochet thread of which I also had scraps.
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6  Iris Flower Skirt in Costumes: Completed Projects by Lothruin on: May 01, 2018 07:57:25 AM
My kid is a part of the fae cast at an area Ren Faire this year, and the costume is based around a Granny's Cloak moth and a purple/yellow bearded iris. The entire costume isn't yet finished (faire is a WHOLE FIVE DAYS AWAY...) but the skirt part is basically done, and I am really pleased with how it came out. The rest of the costume is a pair of yellow leggings cut off to just below the knee like a pair of breeches, a mid-purple jerkin/vest and a yellow blouse, wings made of custom-printed chiffon from Spoonflower, and a headpiece with custom-dyed ostrich feathers to look like moth feelers, and I will probably post it when finished.

Here it is from behind. The petals sit one over each hip and one like a bustle.

The front is open so as not to obstruct movement too much. Sitting will require a little getting used to, but shouldn't be too bad.

And here's a little bit about how I got there:
I started with plain white polyester satin because that's what was on sale. I got some RIT DyeMore Synthetic, in yellow and purple, and used a Crock Pot dye bath. (I then also set the color with an iron after thorough rinsing and light wash, but this piece isn't meant to be washed, really, so I also wasn't terribly worried about the dye being colorfast during laundering.

First dye bath was a dip-dye in the purple. (I also dyed a piece of fabric for the waistband and a jerkin/vest.)

Then, a dip-dye in yellow.

Next, I painted each petal with acrylic paint, allowed to dry for 24 hours, and set the paint with an iron. I did not use fabric medium. I wanted to add the bit of stiffness.

I created structures for the upper part of the petals out of Worbla and punched holes in them, sewed a piece of marabou down the center vein of each petal, then stitched the petal to the Worbla using buttons as anchors to prevent stress points.

Then I sewed the petals onto a waistband, again using the buttons as anchors, and the whole thing is further supported by a belt.

All in all, I think it looks quite strikingly realistic.
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7  Leggings Set from Self-Designed Fabric in Clothing for Kids: Completed Projects by Lothruin on: March 15, 2018 09:19:59 AM
When I found out my niece was pregnant, I got a wild hair to design some fabric especially for the baby. We worked at a haunted house together some years back, and my niece's character was an alien, so the fabric turned out to be alien/space-themed. I designed a main fabric and then several colorways of a companion fabric (only one of which I ended up liking at all), and had a swatch collection printed from Spoonflower on the organic cotton knit. I also included a swatch of larger-sized individual motifs to use as patches. Once I was happy with the fabric, I had some fat-quarters printed on the same knit, and I'm working through making a number of pairs of leggings and some little matching T-shirts.

The T-shirts are all from Target's spring 2018 stuff, because the colors were nice.
I used the ToddAh baby legging pattern and tutorial here, in size 18mo, with a few changes: http://toddah.net/little-leggings-tutorial-with-free-pattern/

I used fat-quarters, because they had a sale, and there is VERY little left over after cutting. Plus, they'll turn out to be more of a capri-length, which is good for spring, but also was as long as I could make them.

Changes include: I am pretty much limited to working with a zigzag for stretch fabrics; no overlock, and no fancy stretch-stitches or double-needles. I don't prefer the zigzag for visible stitches, but I don't really have the fabric to spare... it's complicated. But in any case, I decided to do self-fabric or contrasting fabric leg bands, using fabric from the swatch sample, instead of using a zigzagged hem. This also helped me get back some of the length I lost due to the fat-quarters. I did use a zigzag on the waistband, but for the most part that bit doesn't get seen. Also on the waistband, because it made me want to break something, I didn't follow the instructions of folding over and ironing 1/4" and then again the width of the elastic, sewing down and making a casing. Instead, I marked 1/4" on my elastic, sewed it to itself, then sewed 1/4" of the fabric onto the elastic, and folded the elastic over until the edge was hidden, then sewed that down. It worked BEAUTIFULLY. A little ironing did away with the small bit of puckering I got.

And here is the first pair of leggings:

As you can probably tell, and it drives me batty, but I have been assured that normal people will not notice, the swatch fabric was slightly different colors from the fat quarter. Grrrr.

And here you can see the direction I'm going with the "suite":

There will be one pair of the companion fabric leggings and two pair of the alien fabric leggings, only with white fabric cuffs, using blank bits from the swatch collection. I really wanted to do one pair with stretchy lace, but the gal at Joann's looked at me like I was a sex-worker, and that she had a very low opinion of sex-workers, when I asked if they carried any lingerie lace... (They don't have any stretch lace in my entire store?!) I really didn't feel like ordering and waiting for any more bits before this stuff got made. My grandniece is just into the size, and will have a lot of good spring weather coming up for which these will be perfect. So no more putting it off. I have gotten confirmation that they fit perfectly with some room to grow, and I will probably get the other two pair and T-shirt done this afternoon!

ETA: the second and third pair!

And, because the scrap pile from my cotton jersey sheet to dolman sleeved blouse was sitting there looking at me as I was cutting the others, I made a bonus little pair of shorts while I was at it.
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8  Re: Cotton Jersey Sheet Into Top in Clothing: Completed Projects: Reconstructed by Lothruin on: February 27, 2018 08:13:19 PM
Thanks everyone! I finished it last night and wore it today and got lots of complements! I'm in love. It's so comfy!

As requested, here is the picture of it laid flat:

Sorry, the whole thing doesn't fit on my tabletop, but you get a sense of the basic shape. I made my waist deliberately long, as I said above. It could be as much as 6 inches shorter and still sit below my waist. But as Always said, the length does hide many faults. Cheesy
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9  Cotton Jersey Sheet Into Top in Clothing: Completed Projects: Reconstructed by Lothruin on: February 27, 2018 06:54:01 AM
So, a while back I found some twin-sized 100% cotton jersey sheets at my local thrift store, new in package. They were $4, which is actually more than I usually spend on clothes when thrifting (I'm a sale master), but the pattern was a very pretty sort of cottage chic floral print in nice colors, both sheets added up to a nice bit of fabric, and I can always use extra pillowcases, so it was worth it. (I later learned they are from Wayfair.)

I have also never worked with jersey (or really any knit, so far as sewing is concerned) and I am making a little suite of T-shirts and leggings for my grand-niece out of a custom fabric pattern I designed on Spoonflower. That isn't inexpensive, and I don't have a serger, so I really wanted to get some experience working with knits to avoid ruffled seams and such.

Then this happened:


I totally winged the pattern (get it? winged... because it's a batwing...  ... ) and I probably did everything in the wrong order, but I'm really happy with how it turned out. The only thing I really needed a measurement for was, since I wanted something long that would sort of bunch up at the waist, the bottom is measured around my upper hips with some negative ease, and then just some generous waist length. I don't have anything fancy like a tailor's curve or anything, so the shape of the sleeve is the curve of a 6qt oval crock pot lid, and the length of the sleeves was determined by how much fabric I had. (One twin fitted sheet with the elastic and corners removed, folded in half, and then however wide I could make the pieces out of what was left, basically.) I managed to avoid any real puckering, and the fabric pattern works great for the style of shirt. The neckline isn't perfect; were I to do it over (which I still could, I suppose) I would make the neck a little wider, and I'd make the actual piece of neckline fabric shorter than I did, so it laid a little flatter, but for my first try at most of the things here, I think it looks great. Fits great, too, and now my sister wants me to make her one. Since I happen to have the flat sheet, yet, that's entirely possible. Cheesy
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10  Thor: Dark World Vest in Costumes: Completed Projects by Lothruin on: February 23, 2018 01:04:26 PM
I was asked  to help a guy who looks SO MUCH like Thor make a slightly-extra Thor cosplay based on the Dark World armor, which has a little bit of knot-work look to the design. The guy had a store-bought Thor costume, and other handcrafters made him an actual (very heavy) steel Mjolnir, dragon-scale chain mail for his arms, and hard-leather bracers. I made his vest and cape.

I have never made any cosplay armor pieces before, so I spent a LONG time just THINKING about this stupid thing, and letting anxiety prevent me from starting it. But eventually, I got it done.

And this is what I started with:

First I drafted out a simplified set of shapes for the armor pieces, in layers in Photoshop so I could then enlarge it and print each piece individually at the appropriate size. (For reference, I actually still have this file in PSD format, if anyone were ever interested in my "pattern". It doesn't include everything. There are some hangy-downy bits and a back panel just with belt fastenings. But the basic shapes are there, and it could be made to just about any size.) Then I cut them out of my materials, which were:

Once a month my local Goodwill stores do every item of clothing in the store for $1 each, and that includes leather goods, and on this day, I just basically grabbed everything made of leather in the store. It was $16. It included two leather dusters, both of which had some damage that would prevent them from really being used as coats. I took them apart and of course it was all garment-weight leather, and too thin for this purpose, but a lot of it was not the butter-soft type of leather, but a tougher hide, even though it was still thin. I used that, and folded over, glued down, and stitched most of the edges, and in some cases I also added a second layer of leather, but since most of the pieces were going to overlap other pieces anyway, and there would be multiple layers of leather there, each individual piece was treated differently.

I also bought and took apart an old brass umbrella stand and used that for the brass bits on the front of the vest, and then put the whole thing together with brass rivets from Tandy Leather. I wish I still had a picture of the cape from behind. It's 2 yards of ultrasuede manipulated to drape a certain way, and it turned out great. The sort of pauldron look was accomplished using the BIG foam shoulder pads from the more 80's of the two leather dusters.

And yeah. So there's that. It might be one of my best costumes yet.
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