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Posts Tagged ‘crafting’

Sewing machines and I have a long-standing feud.  I try to sew stuff, they break down almost immediately.  Usually it can be solved by the more knowledgeable owner but on at least one occasion I actually rendered the machine unusable.  Friends in the know have suggested that part of the issue is that pretty much all the machines I’ve used have been thrifted 70s and 80s ones.  While older machines, with their greater proportion of long-lasting metal parts, can be fantastic for a knowledgeable seamstress who has a good relationship with her local repair shop, they’re not great for a novice who has no information to troubleshoot with. 

Recently, though, I found out that my cousin owns a new-ish machine, one that had been in storage and that she was willing to lend me on condition that I learn the mysteries of its working and then share the knowledge.  And having taken a class at The Makehouse – a local organization that not only offers crafting workshops but also space and machines that folks can pay an hourly drop-in rate to use – I was high on craft fumes and totally primed to SEW ALL THE THINGS.

So check this out: I sewed a thing!

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I started with the lined dice bag tutorial from Tally’s Treasury.  Since I specifically wanted a second sock-project-sized bag, I grabbed an already-wound cake of yarn and looked through my cupboards to find a round bowl about the right size.  I traced the bowl to make the bases, then measured its circumference to know how long to make the sides.

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I added a special touch inspired by the project bag I bought from Emma of Emma Knits (formerly the dyer behind Everything Old – side note, you should totally check out her awesome new podcast, which focuses on fibrecrafts but touches on sewing and fashion as well).  One of my favourite things about that bag is its interior pockets – for spare stitch markers, my cellphone, notes on the stitch pattern I’m working, etc.  So I cut a piece of the material I used for the outside, as long as the sides and about 1/3 the height, hemmed it on one side, and sewed it to the inside piece with several vertical seams (I did pin one specifically so it would fit my phone, the rest I placed randomly) before putting the lining together. 

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And the whole time, I didn’t destroy the machine, not even once!  I feel so buoyed by this success I am just itching to get started on the many half-finished or barely-started sewing projects I came across while deciding what fabric to use for this one.  Hope they all turn out this well!

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You might have noticed the shiny new button up in the right-hand corner there, the one that says Desert Bus Crafter, and you might be wondering what that’s about.  Well, Desert Bus for Hope is a charity gaming marathon, where a team of awesome people formed around the folks from Loading Ready Run play the world’s most boring videogame (Desert Bus, a real-time cross-country coach-driving experience) for as long as the money (ultimately donated to Child’s Play) keeps rolling in.  As the drivers try to stay awake during their 24-hour shifts at the wheel, everybody else participates in live chat, wacky challenges, auctions, and giveaways – with perhaps a few celebrity cameos and call-ins as well!  If you’re a geek and/or you like to support charity and/or you like to see people engage in ridiculousness for a good cause, you have to check them out, starting tomorrow (as I write this, the countdown is at 20 hours and change) and continuing for at least 94 hours…more as new donations come in!

Some of the auctions and giveaways are sponsored corporately.  There’s some amazing-looking stuff from Wizards of the Coast if you like Magic: The Gathering or D&D.  There are video game sets, including some that have been signed by Big Names or are phenomenally hard to find.  But in my opinion the coolest stuff that comes out of Desert Bus is the craft-along!  For months now, crafters around the world have been working on geeky videogame- and fandom-related projects large and small.  Some will be auctioned off, others will be given away.  A crochet Dalek!  A skirt with tetris blocks on it!  A gorgeous glass plate with the Minecraft Creeper on it (best snack server ever)!  TWO THREE COOKING MAMA APRONS OMG!  IT’S OKAY, MAMA WILL HELP YOU SUPPORT CHARITY!

And, well, there’s this:

That right there is the slightly more finessed sibling of the Angel-Banishing Sigil I made for my sister’s birthday.  I bought pre-made felt for the button itself, then needle-felted the sigil on with yarn again.  This one has a proper pin back and everything, not just a safety pin sewn on with silk yarn!  And it was photographed by someone with a modicum of skill!

I’m really happy to be even such a small part of this epic charity event.  I know I’ll be tuning in to support the Desert Bus folks, and I hope you will too!

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I was just looking at it on their site thinking about the grey backing (I wanted black but it was out of stock) and I had this awful facepalm moment where I realised I could have done both layers in the same red as the front.  Oh well, live and learn…

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Voting is over, the winners have been announced (no, I was not among them, not even close), and I’m finally at liberty to post what I’ve been crafting this month, that’s been taking all my energy!  I’m really proud of all the things I made, even though they obviously didn’t please the crowd as much as they pleased me (I was tied for about 34th place out of 37 or 38 different scores, with I think 54 entrants who completed all three challenges…yeah…congrats to everyone who made top 25 anyway!).  I foresee them making plenty of further appearances in my doll photography.

The Wicked Sweet Triathlon had three events.  The first, Risqué Business, was to make an outfit for a doll out of nothing but 2 pairs of women’s underwear.  I think this was the challenge in which my (lack of) photography skills hurt me the most – there were some entries where the garments looked less interestingly designed (okay, I’m biased) and less well-executed (and that’s a little more objective position) than mine that still got quite a few more votes, presumably in part because the photos were better.  I have improved a lot, even compared to looking back at my photography from Japan (2008-9), but under pressure I still have trouble.  But then that’s part of why I started this blog, to learn and grow.

My outfit was made from a couple of pairs of drapey hipster undies (hipster cut, not hipster type person) with light, nearly see-through material that I thought would drape really well on Suzuha.  Turns out even very light material gets a bit stiff on 1/6 scale bodies…but I think you can still get the flowy sort of style I was trying for.  The outfit was inspired by Mori Girl fashion, although the colours are very bright for a Mori outfit, which should strictly speaking be made up of neutrals, faded pastels, and low-saturation darker tones.  But I was working with what I had…unfortunately, Mori Girl Panties are not the sort of thing one can pick up on the cheap at Zellers, heh.

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Originally, I was going to crochet a sun hat to go with this outfit, but it wasn’t working and it wasn’t working and I was running out of time…but crocheting flowers worked just dandy, hence the sakura-inspired headdress.

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Every part of the outfit features some sort of braid.  This was sadly the best picture I had of the trousers…see what I mean by my photography being a major handicap?

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The dress is designed to be worn with her wings, although I didn’t end up bringing them out for the photoshoot.  I am very into this kind of “racerback” style of dress right now – I have been wearing the one I own all summer!  Braided fabric is really interesting.  For this outfit I also learned how to do a four-strand braid, which was pretty interesting.

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Then came part 2: Shadowcasters!  The challenge was to make a doll-scale light source and photograph it both in action generally and then with your doll casting a shadow using your light source’s light.  I wanted to make one of those shadow lamps that kids have, with aquariums and stuff on them…somehow a carousel seemed like the right thing for Rada.  I basically built a lantern out of vellum paper and cardstock to go around a dollar store emergency puck light, decorated it with some glitter glue, and dropped it on top of a couple of tea tins posing as a bedside table.  On the whole, I think it turned out awesome…but that’s just when I look at the photos, and not when I think about how much time I spent fighting with the damn lid, which is completely unsecured and loved to pop off just as I was about to snap a picture.  ARGH.

I had a tonne of fun setting up this photo shoot!  I got to bring out all of Rada’s toys (and there are getting to be a lot of them…!) and I set up the corner shelf which formerly supported our Christmas tree to look a little like a child’s bedroom.  I imagined that Rada was home sick with the ‘flu, and Vasya had bought Yukata!Bunny to make her feel better.  Rada, feeling a little less tired today, is introducing Yukata!Bunny to her other toys, but she’s still got the chills, which is why she’s wrapped up in a snuggly blanket (knit from SophiaRowan’s handspun that I won back in the days of the ResinCast podcast).

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Later (and for the shadowcasting shot), she’s staying up past bedtime drawing by the light of her merry-go-round.

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In these photos, you might also notice how upright Rada is able to get and stay…just want to give a shout out to the lovely Linzabeth, who recently sueded and wired my bratty baby (that’s her in the “wiring the legs” photo!  I feel famous!).  Rada now stands like a fucking rock and can hold some awesome poses…the only thing I didn’t anticipate is that since she’s been wired she’s a lot harder to dress, since I can’t bonelessly fold her arms in on themselves as I used to.  Who knew?  So happy with Linzabeth’s services, though, and she’s so sweet that she even fixed the chip in Rada’s eye makeup and fixed/improved my terrible blushing job (not that anyone but me will ever see it, regardless).

The third and final event of the triathlon was my favourite, both in terms of my own entry and in terms of what everyone came up with.  The challenge of The Doppelgänger was to create a “double” of your doll and photograph them together.  Any material.  Any craft.  If you are a member of DoA I highly recommend wandering over to the Anniversary subforum to have a look at the entries; they are amazing.

I actually set out to make an amigurumi doppelganger.  I was going to needle-felt ball joints along the lines of the plushies Tally makes, but I didn’t have time to consult her on how her joints work and as I started stuffing the limbs I realised that I’d been using too big a crochet hook for the yarn meaning that the fabric was gappy and showed the stuffing.  I’m also just not very good at stuffing things evenly, and what with the needle-felted balls and then the unevenly applied stuffing everything looked horribly lumpy and misshapen.  So I said “the heck with this!” tossed it in the bottom of my craft basket, and started on a totally new tack: needle felting the whole thing!  I made the joints with jewelry findings as I was finding that thread was just too flexible and let the limbs fall out of their joints a little.

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I need you to know that I broke all two of my felting needles right at the end of the project, at a time when there was absolutely no way I could get to the store and pick up more before the deadline to submit photos.  You can imagine me sitting there with the 1.25cm broken-off point of one needle trying my hardest to get the doppelgänger’s hair attached to his head with pretty mediocre results…in the end, I got out to take photos and his hair started flying away and I had to stick it on with the sticky-tack I’d brought out to help Posy stand up!  But hair notwithstanding, I’m super proud of how he turned out.  My concept was that he’s a skinwalker type creature, hence the red-white outside that’s meant to be reminiscent of raw meat or anatomical drawings of musculature.  Here’s the photo I submitted for the contest, with text.  He actually does stand on his own if you get him balanced just right, but there was a tiny breeze the day I was taking pictures so I had to improvise with the landscape.

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And if you want to see a larger version you can click through on the original photo here.

So that’s what I’ve been up to all August.  I had a lot of fun, but it’s been great to get back to my regular knitting projects as well.  My test knit of Ur-Bun is hopping along, and I’m hoping to be able to release the pattern sometime this month or next.  Also, isn’t it time for a Rhodion update?  My water lilies are now 8 repeats long (out of a total of 26 repeats of the main pattern, 13 for each side, and then the border).  Nearly a quarter of the way through!  And I’ve amazingly managed to complete two of those repeats THIS WEEKEND!

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Doesn’t look like that much, does it? 8 repeats? This little crumpled thing?

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But it’s going to be unbelievable when it’s done!

Phew.  Well that was an update and a half!  No more secret projects for a while; they’re too challenging to catch up on!

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