Saturday, June 20, 2015

Another Embroidered Necklace from Red Gate Stitchery

Small projects are my friends.  I just completed another necklace from Red Gate Stitchery.  I may prefer this one to the other one; I haven't decided yet.

It's in "my" colors. :) Happy, bold, festive colors.

This is what it looks like worn:

Nothing much to say here.  No broken needles this time, but I had already figured out to reduce the thread count, so to speak.  I started out crossing over one way (following the pattern) and then switched automatically to my normal way of doing it after a few stitches.  Of course I didn't notice 'til the end.  As it's for me, I left it as is.  Can't be bothered!

Have a good weekend everybody! :)

Friday, June 12, 2015

A Quilt? In progress...

The idea of putting in the zipper for my shirt is daunting me.  But I have caught a sewing bug.  So I decided just to sew straight lines.  The best way to do this seemed to make a quilt!  I have lots of fabric scraps - time to use those suckers up!!

So, I have started what will be my first quilt.  I made a pillow once, like 20 years ago, but I don't think that counts.

I didn't want something complicated.  No triangles.  So I chose the Blissful Quilt by Pat Bravo.  It's all rectangles - perfect!

As I am sewing with my scraps, the color scheme is completely different to her suggestions.  Here's what I decided upon:

I'm having fun even during the cutting process, so that's a good sign!

I would've preferred to use the flowery fabric for one of the bigger rectangles, but I just didn't have enough fabric.  So I am forced to use it on a smaller piece, which I feel like is too bad 'cuz the beauty of the print is lost a bit on such a small piece.  Oh well.

Here are my first two rows assembled:

That's lots of brown, but I'm pleased so far! ;)  many many rows to go!

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Fabric Obsession

I am surfing a high of fabric inspiration right now.  I'm loving all the American Southwest (and/or Mexican) designs that are available right now.  I'm sure in two years (two seasons??) the trend will be over, but the colors and motifs speak to my heart, as someone who grew up in Arizona.  I just want to BUY ALL OF THEM!!  But that's not really an option.

So, instead, please feast your eyes and enjoy looking (but not touching) with me:

Many of the above are from April Rhodes' collections, either Wanderer or Bound.  I actually purchased the Mesa Lawn (bone white with little blue diamonds) which is manufactured by Cotton + Steel and designed by Alexia Abegg.  And from the collage below I purchased the striped print (you can see it in my work-in-progress from my previous post), which is from the Geometric Bliss collection by Art Gallery, designed by Jeni Baker.

So, two down, many many to go, ha! 

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Yikes, already!

So, obviously I decided not to join in Me-Made-May this year!  I tried to transform it into a Me-Making-May, to focus on giving myself time to create instead of focusing on using what I have made (of which very little is left).  Only toward the end of the month have I been successful.  Wait, that's not true, I have been regularly knitting.  But only this weekend have I managed to get out the sewing machine.

Wait, again that's not true!  But on my first attempt at the beginning of the month I did a big oopsie and that set me back and demoralised me a bit.  Because, you see, I cut out my fabric upside down!  On a directional print!  Yesss...*that* mistake.  And then I spent several weeks trying to figure out how to work with it and fix it.  In the end I decided to change fabrics and projects because nothing I was coming up with to 'save the project' was inspiring me.

So, here's my sewing project in process: guess which pattern??

I am absolutely in love with my chosen fabrics.  I have some doubts about the finished project though.  I think there are some fitting issues.  This is my first project off the bench for probably a year, so I would just like it to be wearable.  I previously had fitting issues with another top I tried to make from this company, so it may just be that the drafting is not going to work for me without lots of tweaking.  And I don't have the energy to do that when, frankly, Simplicity and New Look and Burda patterns fit me pretty darn well with minimal tweaking.  I may just have to swear off tops from this company, but I hope this one turns out okay!!

And my knitting efforts have been going toward the Elemental Boatneck by Hannah Fettig.  I really hope this one turns out, as the finished model in the magazine looks gorgeous and feels very 'me.'  I am quite enjoying the stitch so far.  I have made some mistakes, but they don't really show, another plus in my book!!

See?  I am dutifully working on it... I'm using Cascade Yarns Ultra Pima (cotton) and boy does the stuff ever pill like crazy!!  I regularly have to cut off these little balls that accumulate and gunk up my working yarn.  So, we'll see how it wears after it's finished...

Have a good week everyone!

Saturday, April 18, 2015

A Visit to Fontainebleau

A non-crafting post!!

I finally made it to Fontainebleau after several abortive attempts!  And it was a gorgeous, sunny day to boot. :)

I'm not wearing anything me-made and there's really no crafting angle whatsoever.  I could've taken photos of some of Napoloeon's clothing (the château houses a Napoleon museum, because among things, he abdicated here before going to Elba), but I have a real aversion to taking photos of objects behind glass.  So the only arts and craft angle is to enjoy the beautiful carvings and paintings, etc.

Here's one outside courtyard (my favorite because it was lush and had secret paths...which, regrettably I didn't take any photos of!):

A close-up on the statute...this château was previously used as a hunting lodge.  Try to picture it...

I particularly wanted to visit this castle because of its link to François I, who spent a lot of time here.  Or more specifically, because of its link to his sister - Marguerite de Navarre, author of L'Heptaméron, one of my favorite books.  Some of the stories in the book describe noblemen trying to seduce women in the gardens and I can easily imagine the scene in a garden such as above. 

I've mentioned Marguerite de Navarre before, but if she's unfamiliar to you, I strongly suggest at least checking out the wikipedia page.

Here's the François I gallery:

It's like la Galerie des Glaces at Versailles, except no mirrors, ha!

And here's François I's symbol (the salamander):

Some more pictures from the gallery:

Check out this amazing door with a Gorgon's head:

 Here's a close-up:

And some more views:

Finally, outside for gelato and sun and French gardens:

I love that shirt I'm wearing (and the boots!) and I wear it every week.  This one is RTW, but I definitely need to make another one with some chambray or something. 

Hope it's nice and sunny where you are this weekend!  :)

Saturday, April 4, 2015

F.O.: Embroidered Necklace

This post started out as a standard follow-up to my last one, to show you the finished necklace, and then my brain hijacked it and decided it wanted to go elsewhere.

Just before deciding to get myself into gear and take pictures of the necklace, I was listening to a new-to-me podcast, the History of the Roman Papacy, and the episode on Paul of Tarsus (i.e. St. Paul) got me thinking about how individuals can accomplish amazing things ... things that would seem pretty crazy were one to announce the goal at the offset.  For example, "I'm going to define and establish a new, universal religion and spread it across the globe."  Sounds crazy, right?!

And then this led me to thinking about the power of invention and self-invention, which led me back to something lurking in the back (or front) of my mind since this article was published in the New York Times.  I know the author and certain parts of the essay had me wrinkling my forehead.

And then I remembered that it's her story about part of her life and one of the wonderful things about writing is that we the writers get to choose how to interpret and represent things, what is important, and what isn't.  And that maybe the narrative needs us to push things in a certain direction to help us get our point across.  So, when I remembered that I was much more able to just enjoy her piece and be genuinely happy for her for being published in the effing NY Times.

Now I'll show you the first fruits of all of this reflection: self-portraits...which didn't start out as such.

Originally I was just trying to take a picture of the damn necklace and I was going to crop my head out of the frame because I don't have my "face" on today and I'm feelin' tired after two nights of alcohol drinking.  But I was delighted with the results.  I love the light and the angles and I love that it's just me on a Saturday afternoon, no glamour.


I like the light in this one especially...


 And this is what happens when I start cracking myself up when I realize I'm taking self-portraits:

Tilted Head

Oh, and finally, a close-up of the finished object:

All in all I'm happy with the final result. And I felt like - whew, finally! - I finished something arts and craftsy!  Now I can go play a video game, ha!

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Work in Progress + A Kit Review: Red Gate Stitchery

I instantly feel in love when I saw these kits from Red Gate Stitchery: embroidery for necklaces, bracelets, key fobs and more.  I bought two complete necklace kits, plus an additional pendant blank (no embroidery floss). 

Frustrated with my lack of completion in my other projects, I turned to this, hoping to enjoy the process and to finish up relatively quickly.  Well, as with everything, there were (are) complications.

I think I am going to love it when it's finished, but there have been setbacks.  The kits come with everything you need to complete the project, including a John James brand embroidery needle.  Actually, the first kit came with two needles.  And I've already broken both.  So I'm wondering if I'm using too many strands of floss.  The kit comes with several strands of both pink and blue floss, more than enough to complete the necklace.  In the instructions, it is written to "separate out one strand of the floss that came with your kit."  So, does this mean separate out one tiny individual strand and embroidery with that??  I find that unlikely, especially given the photo of the result on the website.  Or does it mean use one whole strand of floss (with the six tiny individual strands that floss is normally composed of)? 

So, here's a photo of the kit, sans original needle:

And here's a link to the finished product as shown at the Etsy store.  It seems clear to me that this was made using one complete floss thread...not separating out one from the six.  Well, when I tried all six together, I broke the needle on the third stitch.  So I decided to use only four out of the six strands.  And I broke the needle halfway through the project.  On certain stitches you have to go twice through the same hole, and with the diameter of the hole and the thickness of the floss, apparently the needle isn't strong enough. 

So that's a small gripe because the supplies aren't sturdy enough, and I certainly can't complete the project if I follow the directions to the letter. 

I ended up starting the project over from the beginning (with my needle), and with a different starting-off place, because I wasn't loving the outcome in any case.  The directions indicate to use the side that has darker holes (laser burn marks) as the back and not the front, but I actually preferred the look of the burn marks contrasting with the embroidery floss.  I followed the directions as indicated at first and found that I really liked the back much better.  And I couldn't simply switch sides because there was the little tail end tucked in at the beginning of the work, so I undid it all and began again.  Lesson learned.  Follow my aesthetic and not the package directions.

Anyhow, here it is in progress.  So far so good with my embroidery needle.  I'll tell you if it breaks, but I really hope not!

Another comment about these kits...the price does seem a little high.  I paid $28.00 (USD) for one kit.  I could definitely have bought a cute necklace for half the price.  But of course, for me the main pleasure is making it myself and then wearing it afterward.  Still, is it just me or does that seem a little high?  Am I just too used to low pricing because of sweat shop labor and economies of scale?  Honest opinions, please.

The chain was an unexpected bonus and I'm happy to have it, but I hope it's of superior quality than the needles, otherwise it'll be turning my neck green!  I'm envisaging making these as gifts, so I'll be testing on myself first. ;)  That's the only reason of course, ha!

And here's the other kit I bought:

I haven't made any comments to the shop owner on Etsy, but I think that would be a good idea.  Maybe it's just me, but maybe it's a recurring problem with the needles.  They'll never know if no one tells them though...

Anyhow, back to stitching!