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11  NEEDLEWORK / Needlework: Completed Projects / Houdini x-stitch -- Tada! on: April 08, 2009 02:20:41 PM
I kinda doubt Houdini ever announced "tada!" at the completion of an illusion. But I like to. Sometimes randomly. Smiley

Here's my little tribute both to Houdini and to Teller, of Penn & Teller, for whom I made this piece.

Starting with a recognizable but relatively simple portrait of Houdini, I decided to go with six shades of grey plus white, which brought me to 7 colors. I wasn't even sure if I was going to be able to find six discrete greys, but that seemed to me to be enough differentiation without going totally overboard.

Harry Before and After

I spent a good hour or more combing through embroidery floss bins, hunting for six cool/neutral greys that looked like they belonged together. Then grabbed a roll of the finest resolution cross-stitch fabric I could find, which turned out to be 28-count.

For a frame, I had an idea that I might be able to use one side of a pair of handcuffs. Without actually having the cuffs on hand, I took some guesses about average wrist size ranges, did the math and decided on a 2.5" across portrait. Little.

Houdini Close-Up

When I was about half way finished, I was at TJ Maxx doing random shopping, and in their home dcor department stumbled across The. Perfect. Frame. I was so excited, I snatched it up without even registering how much it cost. Of course, this was TJ Maxx, so it turned out to be about $3. The little red frame was not only the perfect size, but look! Rope/knot detail!

Houdini Frame Detail

So that's it, the finished project. What I thought would take me about 2 weeks wound up taking closer to 6. When I think about how much time I put into it, I keep coming up with 80 hours, which just sounds impossible. A couple of friends who have seen it in person have said they'd have a hard time giving it up, and suggested maybe I should just keep it. It's a tempting thought, but I couldn't do that. As is always the case when I make things for people, I can't keep it because it was never mine to begin with.

However, I do still have this big ol'roll of 28-ct fabric... Maybe Poe next.


As usual, there is a slightly more blahblahblah version of this project on my blog.

Thanks for looking!
12  CLOTHING / Clothing for Curvaceous Craftsters: Completed Projects / Flamin' Vinyl Reverse Applique (Vogue 8313) on: January 05, 2009 08:00:45 PM
Hey crafster peeps. Long time no post.

I'm here to tell you about my New Year's Eve dress. This project represented a whole passel of challenges and techniques I'd never used before. But why make something if I can't make it just how I want?

The pattern started life as Vogue 8313, View A, size 20. I'm about a 16 in RTW and I thought the 20 may actually be too small. Not so. I made a test dress first which fit so nicely, I omitted the zipper and kept it as a wearable dress. Once the dress was assembled in stretch vinyl, I actually took about two inches out of the waist!

This was my first project with stretch vinyl and my first reverse applique. I'm so glad I bought that stippling foot, even if I'd forgotten I had it (after I just haaaaad to buy it a few months ago).

Vinyl is tricky because you can't pin it together -- every hole shows. And oh you're in trouble if you stitch something together wrong and have to tear it apart -- which is pretty much guaranteed to happen at least once in every project I make. Not this time!

After being unable to find any in metro Detroit, I bought the vinyl online at Spandex House. It was very inexpensive and they shipped very quickly. Word to the wise: the vinyl is soft and will probably fall apart pretty soon, and worse, it smelled very strongly of petroleum when it arrived. A wash and airing out diminished the smell, but I'm convinced it's always going to be odiferous. I made it for a nightclub party, though, so I wasn't too concerned.

I taped the back/red layer under the top/black layer and taped the traced flames border (which I'd done on plain craft tissue) on top of that. Then tried to stay more or less within the lines while tracing with the freehand/stippling foot. That was kinda fun! After careful cutting to smooth out any necessary edges, the hard part was done.

The dress itself is very simple and went together quickly and easily. Because I was using a very sheer fabric for the upper, I did not use the facings as the pattern suggested, instead trimming the seam allowance off and finishing the neck edges with a matching bias tape. Turns out I think I prefer how that looked over, say, a narrow hem.

So, here are some pics!

After stitching, removing the flames paper pattern:

The upper layer cut out, with US quarter for scale:


The finished dress:

ETA: Happy to answer if anyone has questions. There's a much more blah-blah version of this project on my blog, the URL for which is below.

ETA: Hey! Best of 2009! Thanks, Craftsters!

13  CLOTHING / Clothing for Curvaceous Craftsters: Completed Projects / What, ANOTHER skulls-n-roses dress? on: June 17, 2008 11:17:44 AM
Coincidence, I swear.

I wanted to make a dress for a rodeo I was going to... I don't know why rodeos make me want to sew things. Because I don't wear bluejeans maybe. I was looking for something slightly different, though, but comfortable, and suitable for the "novelty" quilting cottons I like so much. I took a chance and started off with Simplicity 3745, which is probably already making people on this particular board cringe. The empire waist? Even quasi?? I liked the details, though, and thought the small pleats and whatnot may work. So I went for it anyway. And it gave me an excuse to use this combination of fabrics.

I haven't decided yet how it looks on me. It's comfortable to wear, but it's a little short in the bodice (vertically) -- it's the bust thing again. But it's a nice length and those big, kimono-esque sleeves are nice. As usual, I don't have a picture of myself in the dress, and I actually need to get someone's opinion on whether I look like a big egg in it or not before I'm willing to subject the public to it... But the pattern itself went together pretty easily. And for someone who does like this particular style/cut, I'd say it's a good one.

ETA: I made the dress in size 22 and I wear a 16 in RTW. It's always important to check your measurements, even in looser garments! I knew there was a good chance it would be smallish in the bust, but powered on anyway as I tend to do. If I make it again, I will figure out a way to lengthen the bodice for more chest room.
14  CLOTHING / Clothing for Curvaceous Craftsters: Completed Projects / Caution! Wild Animals! on: February 10, 2008 05:14:47 PM
I've got a couple of modified commercial patterns to post tonight.

Some time ago, I bought this pattern, Butterick 4188. As much as I like it, I apparently have a genetic inability to leave well enough alone, so I decided to modify the front. I scanned the tissue pieces and voodooed the front panels in Adobe Illustrator to remove the overlap and allow the insertion of -- you guessed it -- a zipper. I found a very nice dark teal woven (which the cutter at Joann suggested be my "signature" color because apparently it goes well with my coloring) and, uh, some King Kong flannel in the children's department.

Oh who am I kidding? It all started with the King Kong flannel.

I wear a 16-18 in RTW and I made this in size 22. I should not be surprised every time something fits me, but I still am. It's such a crapshoot sometimes. But after it was finished -- and fit -- I had to satisfy the next question: What exactly does one wear with a teal King Kong detailed shirt? Why, a teal King Kong detailed skirt, naturally.

I started with Simplicity 5914, a simple gored skirt. To pull it together, I decided to insert Kong-patterned piping. Of course, I've never made piping, but part of the pleasure of sewing, to me, is building the skillset. Turns out, piping is pretty easy. In fact, I see a lot more piping in my future.

I wore the outfit to the annual Dirty Show with a pair of tights which were a slightly lighter shade of teal and black ankle boots with bows. (I almost wore dark red patent leather heels for the contrast, but was talked out of it at the last minute.) This time I think the testimony to the success of the outfit is the fact that very few people mentioned it. I makes me a little paranoid when people immediately ask me "oh did you make that?" Why, does it look like some hack stitcher sewed it?? This time around the couple of comments I did get were about how cute the Kong detail fabric was. Naturally, today's pictures are after I've worn it, so it looks a little wonky on the dummy because of the creases and whatnot, and the skirt isn't quite as stiff as it may appear, and that zipper is a nice lavender, blahblah excusescakes.  Grin
15  CLOTHING / Clothing: Completed Projects: Reconstructed / "Mephistuffoles" presides over Beanie Hell on: January 07, 2008 08:52:19 AM
If you have extreme Beanie Baby sensitivities or tend to over-anthropomorphize the inanimate, you may want to look away. However, if you're only mildly sick in the head, you may find this as funny as I did.  Wink

I almost never dress up for Halloween because if I were to do a costume the way I want to do it, I would be way overdressed for any occasion I might be invited to. Then I'd either feel like an idiot or like a superior jackass. Either way.

This year, though, I decided to work the pun-as-costume angle, and also managed to work in something I've been wanting to do for years.

I admit, I had done the top a while ago. I was in a second hand store one day and came across this really hilarious devil Valentine plushie, complete with fuzzy red hair and a nice big red flaming heart on his chest. I walked around with that thing for minutes thinking, "What on earth would I do with a stuffed devil?" But I couldn't put it down. So I devised a plan.

He became bisected vertically and hand-stitched to a store-bought black top, with a little bit of padding for his body and keeping his arms and legs free. His giant feet flop around when I move, and grabbing his hands is rather irresistible, if in dangerous territory. ("Watch it, buddy.")

For this year's costume, I decided to take the concept one step further -- well, actually, about 10 steps, as that is how many teeny beanies gave their lives for the project.

Let me tell you, those things are sewn together like crazy. To represent the tortured beanie souls, I picked each one apart, bear-rug style, removed the guts, and hand-stitched them all over a store-bought black skirt. I used red embroidery floss and intentionally made the stitches rather ragged, in an Ed Gein inspired way. And you know, it took me twice as long to sew sloppily as it would have to sew evenly. Damned OCD.

Below that whole mess I wore flame-printed tights and some nice Cenobite buckled boots and became... Mephistuffoles and the pits of Beanie Hell.

No, no one really got it.  Embarrassed Suckers.

16  POTTERY, CERAMICS, POLYMER CLAY / Polymer Clay: Discussion and Questions / Poly clay pond decorations -- safe? on: October 04, 2007 07:14:58 AM
I've seen some discussion about whether baking in the presence of critters is safe, but this is something else.

My friend would like to do some sculptures to place IN a pond with fish. Does anyone know if this is safe with cured poly clay?

17  CLOTHING / Clothing for Curvaceous Craftsters: Completed Projects / The Slinky Blue Japanese Dress (Simp 3775) on: September 02, 2007 01:15:58 PM
I have become a dress convert. I made this one yesterday, Simplicity 3775, View D, size 20. I'm about a size 16 in RTW, which makes the measurements for size 20 realistically a bit small, but since the whole thing was going to be made out of a slinky Japanese swimsuit-style fabric, I knew I could get away with it (and 20 was the biggest size, the jerks). And let me tell you, I LOVE this dress!

The problem I have had with dresses, especially the clingy type, is the... lumpiness through the midsection. You know, if you're wearing tights and a bra, stuff gets squished around (if you aren't wearing a one-piece, which I rarely do). The GENIUS of this dress is the gathered midsection.

There was a problem that the pattern envelope did not give yardage for 45" fabric, and that's all I had. Luckily, I had a ton of it, so ultimately there was enough. The widest pattern piece is the skirt (which is two pieces cut on the fold) and it just barely fit on the folded 45". I don't know how much yardage I ultimately used, but if anyone really needs to know, I'll figure it out. I had had this fabric in the stash for years, so I'm thrilled I could finally make something out of it. I knew last night would be one of my last opportunities to wear something like this before the weather turns, so I made it yesterday -- start to finish in about 4.5 hours.

I tried like crazy to get a decent picture of me IN the dress, but the best I could do was this blurry shot:

This view dips pretty low in the front, but I'm learning to love my cleavage (and finally got some good bras!), so I don't mind. If I make the dress again (and I hope to), I will lengthen the bodice to accommodate the extra boobage, but this fabric is stretchy enough to bring the seam down to a reasonable location. Just remember to take out all that basting!
18  JEWELRY AND TRINKETS / Trinkets and Jewelry: Completed Projects: General / The Red and Bluebird of Happy Accidentness on: August 29, 2007 08:09:05 PM
I've been fiddling with shrink plastic a little bit, and the other day I did this big red flying swallow that I wanted to be quite focal. I was watching it shrink away in the toaster oven and YEEK! it started curling up and getting sticky and not letting go or flattening out! And then I realized, WAIT! I like it! So I pulled it out and let it cool in its twisty configuration.

First the twisty tail detail:

Then the finished necklace, modeled by the tree next to my deck:

I tried to take an action shot so you could get an idea of the scale, but it was IMPOSSIBLE to photograph on me. It's a fairly fine silver chain, so it's not huge, but it definitely has presence. I like it a lot. I really like how the standard hole-punch punched hole shrinktizes. Also the reds match better in reality. This thing was a beast to photograph, really!
19  PAPER CRAFTS, SCRAPBOOKING & ATCs (ARTIST TRADING CARDS) / Paper Crafts: Discussion and Questions / Score! Xyron 850 refills but no machine. Tips to use without? on: August 24, 2007 02:33:28 PM
At my trusty local Value Village today, I found two (sealed in boxes) Xyron 850 refill cartridges with magnet on one side and laminate on the other for $3 each. Of course, I don't have the machine, which are apparently about $150. So I was wondering if anyone has any suggestions for using the refills without the machines, as I am about to try that and don't want to reinvent the wheel if someone else has already gone through this. Anyone?

20  HOME SWEET HOME / Interior Decorating: Completed Projects / 108 Painted Coasters Later... on: July 09, 2007 08:30:53 PM
I spent last weekend finally giving my so-called "dining" room completely over to my crafticularity. I never eat in there anyway, and it's the best place for crafting because opposite the wall is a big sliding glass door for lots of light and fresh air.

I had always wanted a corkwall, but I don't much care for cork itself. I asked in another section here whether anyone thought I could stain cork rather than painting it, but I decided to paint it anyway, using my favorite color palette, "Whatever is in the drawer."

It's always difficult to capture pastelly colors, but it's a fair representation: Red, orange, lavender, dark teal and mystery mint green (courtesy of the mistint table at Lowe's). A couple of pattern tissues are already pinned up with my Badtz Maru pins.

Those are 4" x 4" cork coasters with radiused corners from -- where else? -- Ikea. They are a little thin for this application, but usable. I adhered them to the wall using a lighter duty version of Liquid Nails. Directly below the cork wall are two magnetic knife bars, holding my skeezers and pinchyclamps. Above the cork are three red desk/wall lamps, which are plugged into a central power strip, hidden above the drop ceiling (and into which I wired a switch so I can turn all three lights on at once without crawling under the table). Those lights are so cool because the little grilles over the lamp openings (which you cannot see because the lamps are on in the pic) are actually spiderwebs, complete with little spiders.

Here's an overview of the room at midnight on Sunday under incandescent lighting:

Through the Ominous Darkened Doorway is my living room. On the short wall you can see the new cork wall and the fold-out table which supports Nigel, my sewing machine. My rolling cutting table now has room to park against the wall, allowing me to walk from the kitchen to the living room without having to turn sideways any time there is a project in the works (i.e. 90% of the time). The giant Dali has always been there as it was a housewarming present from a friend. Sadly, the print you cannot see in this view is Fuseli's "The Nightmare" which is mounted above the black frame supporting the fold-down table. I love that painting and it actually resides at the Detroit Institute of Art (where I live).

Directly below the big Dali is the new floating shelf for additional WIP-parkage. It's a pretty "beech" effect laminate which really called out for some lettering:

A little bit of Sade always brightens a room.  Grin

Nothing groundbreaking going on in there, but I really wanted to share it with you guys because I know this is the place where people would understand why I would spend an entire weekend shopping, painting, moving furniture by myself and GLUING 108 COASTERS TO MY WALL.
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