Threads of the Pattern

Archive for the ‘Crafting’ Category

Colorful

Posted on: October 3, 2013

Suffice it to say, real life is a bitch. A lot has happened over the last few months that has kept me from writing for this blog, and feeling creative in general.

I’m hoping to get back in the groove of things, and to do so I thought I’d try some writing prompts. Turns out they’re not so easy to come by, but I did find quite a few photography prompts and I was able to think of some things to say about a few of them, so I’m going to adapt them to suit my needs. I may use a few, or just one. We’ll see.

So the prompts I’ve pulled for today’s post are: something colorful, stash, homemade. These fit perfectly with a project that I’ve been considering for a while now.

I’ve been looking around for skirts to wear at my new job (selling medical equipment to emergency medical personnel), and I’m finding the selection in stores to be quite lacking, so I’ve decided to make my own.

Being the nerdy gal that I am, I of course turn to my hobbies for inspiration. I tend toward more vintage and historical fashions, and I frequently think about ways I can bring my favorite bits of those styles into my modern wardrobe. Of course, then there are the fashions in my favorite books, though they’re usually at least somewhat based on real styles. The Wheel of Time is no different, though there happens to be a LOT of talk about clothing in the series and who wears what and why. There are a lot of wonderful specifics.

In the spirit of the series, I’ve crafted a pattern for a skirt in a style that I’m going to call Aes Sedai Modern.

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I went through my fabric stash, and found a nice brown wool(ish) fabric that looks like it has enough for a skirt. This seemed like a sign, seeing as I’d definitely be a Brown Sister if I had the choice. You know, and if it were a real thing.

The skirt is planned to be a pencil style, with a ruffle at the bottom, and I decided to add pleats with colored inserts, each one a color of an Ajah. Fat Quarters from Joann’s were on sale, so I had a bit of a look through at them. I decided to play it loosey goosey on the patterns, but sticking to things like spheres, vines, flowers or just thread like squiggles. Very low stress.

All told I’m happy with my choices, and I can’t wait to see it come together!

Tomorrow’s prompts: light/change/in my cup/bubbles/cozy/car/lunchtime. No real idea yet which of those I’ll choose or what I’ll write about, but that’s the point, right? 😉

How do you break through your blocks?

Are there any styles from books, shows, history, or anything else that you’d love to wear if you had the chance?

 

~Rosie

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In the way that most preteens do, my daughter decided to wait until the very last moment to inform me that she had to have something for science on Monday that:
1. Had to fit into a brown paper bag bag the size of a lunchbox, and
2. Could be experimented upon.

The rules and regulations for said experimentation were dodged around and avoided, and then I learned it was because no matter what her teacher had suggested, she had decided she only wanted to experiment on those grow your own dinosaur tablet thingies. You know…the things that look like medicine and you put them into water and watch them burst out, roaring mightily! (or at least, they did in my imagination…)
So one trip to the Dollar Store later, we had dinosaur tablets and nothing to do with them. We decided she could try and see how they developed in water, salt water and….hey! How about slime?!

Oh. My. God. Do you have any idea how many recipes on the Internet are for Nickelodeon type slime?? Do you know how many of them involve Borax, Clear glue, liquid latex or anything else not easily found under your kitchen sink on a Sunday afternoon? Finally, when I was in the middle of reaching for the wine bottle in desperation, we came across one that stated it was borax free and perfectly safe! And so…a blogpost was born.

Ask.com‘s version of Borax free, Nickelodeon Slime.
(btw…when I think of slime…I thought of THIS. This,however, is not what my daughter wanted. We will definitely be making that though, on a very in the near future time frame. Cause that stuff is rad.)
Anyway, The ingredients are:
2 cups water
4 cup cornstarch
Food coloring of choice.

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The first thing I learned about making slime was this: my daughter can -not- scoop cornstarch! She had white powder substance -everywhere!- But that was ok…what experiments are neat and orderly?

Cornstarch, cornstarch everywhere!

Cornstarch, cornstarch everywhere!

We warmed the water on the stovetop, slowly adding in  cups of cornstarch. I stirred, she poured, and we both waited. I’m not sure what exactly we thought was going to happen, but we were a little dissapointed when all that we could see was white water.

I thought it was an excellent idea to use the strainer to prevent lumpy slime.

I thought it was an excellent idea to use the strainer to prevent lumpy slime.

So, we deviated from the plan. We added in a cup of flour, because surely 4 cups of cornstach was a lot?
We turned down the heat on the stove because that’s what the instructions said to do. It didn’t make sense to me, since every time I’ve used cornstarch in gravy you’re supposed to wait til it boils but…who am I to judge? I’m certainly not the expert in slime development!

Then we stirred. And stirred. And it just stayed…..blah. Milky. Weak!
So we added another cup of flour. And another cup of cornstarch. And we stirred.

Still milky water!

Still milky water!

I think it was about at this time that my daughter looked at me and said, ” Are you sure you didn’t just make this up?”
It was also at this point that I said to myself, ” The Internet lies!!!”
All in all, it wasn’t too bad. It came to a consistency very much like gravy, so we decided it into two bowls and added food coloring.

No, it wasn't Christmas time slime...just the food coloring we had the most!

No, it wasn’t Christmas time slime…just the food coloring we had the most!

My eldest daughter, by the way, despises the color pink, and of course insisted that I have no idea what I’m talking about and used an entire container of red food coloring proving to us both that I was right and no amount of red food coloring is going to make white goo red. Instead it just becomes more vibrantly pink!

red plus red plus red still equals pink.

red plus red plus red still equals pink.

She was not amused.
But I was!
A few hours later we took the slime out of the fridge and stirred. It seems the longer its cold, the firmer it gets. Nice to know!

Just...ew.

Just…ew.

Oh, and the science project? Success, though we inadvertently also learned that it goes bad after a week, fridge or no.
And when it goes bad, it smells like moldy death.

Sig

Hello, Readers! It has been quite some time since we’ve touched base with you! Things over here have been crazy and busy and we are so SO sorry to have neglected you! And so, as an apology, please enjoy reading about the mess I got myself into over the summer!

At the beginning of summer I made a post about all of the crafts I was super excited to try during the summer. With it being January and all and the kids back in school I can successfully report that we have tried none of them. Yes…you read that correctly, none of my Top Ten Crafts were done this summer! Looking back, I think perhaps that list was a bit overzealous, considering the amount of other stuff we had going on this year. Visits and pool time and babysitting, oh my! We did however, get some things started.
First, in preparation for our summertime Grammy visit, I saw something I thought might be neat (probably on Pinterest) and immediately decided that was a fantastic craft to accomplish while my niece was here. I bought wooden letters for each of the kids first initials and some paint. I figured they could each decorate their letter in their own style, with a variety of decorations to do so with. Well….then I actually took stock of my dwindling craft box. I planned to stop at the craft store(s) before they got here…and then I didn’t. So I planned to go to the craft store while they were here, and let the kids pick out what they wanted to decorate with. Well…that didn’t happen either. Before I knew it, it was the last week my niece and mother and law would be here and was still hadn’t done our craft!
On top of that, my niece had called me before they left, challenging me to help her create a jewelry holder, like those fancy metal dress forms. Challenge accepted, little girlie. We brainstormed, came up with a fantastic idea for a tree shaped hanger (more on that in a minute) and I told her I’d pick up molding clay.

Which…I didn’t…because well, it involved a trip to the craft store.
So there we were, craftless and sad. After a trip to the zoo, I had my husband stop at the craft store and I grabbed some shinies for the letters and the required clay for the jewelry box. I really wanted this big brick of clay from Mexico, but the entire package was written in Spanish and I only know the swear words so…I went with something a little smaller but whose directions were plainly in English. Then a day (or maye two) later we started on the letters. The paint jobs were varied, the painters all chose something totally their own, and I got to stand back, take pictures and not get painted on. Then we agreed that the letters should really have a day to dry, in case we needed a second coat.

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(as an aside, I really wish I would have bought some kind of sealer or primer or both, because the paint dried way lighter than it showed wet and it was matte…lame!)
Then my niece came down with a cold. And we went out. And we went to urgent care (for the cold). And then we went out again. And sooner or later ( or, you know, two days before they were leaving) we realized we had to start the jewelry holder! So we put aside the letters to be completed during Thanksgiving break and took out all the goodies for the jewelry container.

This was so rad! I really wish we had started it earlier and also that I had made one for myself because it was way too much fun!
First we took a wire hanger and cut it into various lengths. Then we took a pair of pliers and twisted them together, Ina vague tree shaped form.

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Once we had the limbs going in the direction she wanted and tied them together with tape, we had a pause, because what on earth were we going to use to hold it up?

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Enter my husband, who has a crazy love for molding things with liquid plastic and very little opportunities. He said, “Hey, why don’t I just mold the base?” And so, he was in charge of that.
Except not really, because of course I didn’t like his tentative plan for using a bowl and had to stick my nose into it.

His job, not…you know, the mold…because who wants a mold of their nose?
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Eventually there was a fine metal tree imbedded in an equally fine plastic bowl…and it was 11 o’clock at night. So we had my niece put it away for the night…and in an incredible crafting fail, ran out of time to finish. I ended up sending the molding clay home with her, with instructions for her to send me pictures when she finished it.

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I am a horrible aunt, and Martha Stewart would be ashamed!

Things I learned from this:
1. I am totally not Martha Stewart.
1A. My niece is ok with this.
2. My crafting eyes are bigger than my crafting stomach.
3. I need to learn the difference between acrylic, tempra, water color, oil and water based paints. It would take the guesswork out of life but leave me less likely to make up cuss words when painting anything.

Sig

This fabric, a deep red silk, is going to become a lovely formal 13th century Mongolian noblewoman’s robe. (del, as they’re called natively)

I’m basing my choice off this image and (many) others like it:

 

Red seems to be the most common color for the formal overrobes the women wore, and as you can see above, they were big on embroidery, but not always. I have not yet decided if I will embroider mine or not. I think that will depend on how the winter goes, project-wise.

 I’m basing the cutting on a couple of different pieces.

©Gold, Silk, White and Blue Porcelain; p58-59

 and this diagram for cutting a Han Chinese Banbi: http://torguqin.files.wordpress.com/2010/01/shangyigencutting.png

I’m using the linked image as a sort of pattern. Obviously, the actual Mongolian piece has cuffs attached, which I will be adding. I was largely looking for direction in shaping the sleeves.  the rest of the del (the body) I’ve done before, and is pretty much the same no matter who was wearing it, so it should be pretty straight forward.

When I am finished, there will also be a pair of slippers and that fantastic hat with the feather sticking up out of the top!

 

~Rosie

 

So last Friday, I didn’t post because I was up at Ayshia’s, baking with my nieces. The eldest of that set just had a birthday, and this time she thought it would be fun to make things together.

 Their mother isn’t really a baker, so this was kind of a novel experience for them. As in, they’ve never taken a pan out of the oven on their own before kind of novel. Don’t worry, this was quickly remedied with supervision.

 I really didn’t do anything. In the morning I instructed Kyra (the second eldest) in following the package directions for some Betty Crocker Molasses cookies that I’d gotten on clearance for 75¢.

 

 

She had a blast.

Can you tell these kids get their picture taken a lot?

Molasses cookies were delicious, and even bought me a haircut. Aunt Jo is the bomb, y’all. That’s all I’m saying.

 

 

After dinner, I supervised Alyx while she made a batch of modified boxed fudge marble cupcakes. They didn’t rise as much as I’d like, but she was thrilled. Also, all two dozen were gone in about 15 minutes.

Honestly, I think they were in it for the experience. They made things! And they did all the work! And Auntie Rosie is super awesome! (I inferred that last part.)

 

 

Ayshia and I thought this picture was super-hilarious. We may have been drinking.

Sometimes, I forget that the kids don’t care as much about the big fancy cakes I try to make for them as much as they care for our company. This was actually a far less stressful and fun-filled birthday than the last few have been.

 Way to teach Auntie a lesson, girls.

~Rosie

Have we mentioned that my niece just recently turned one? With an awesome cake?

For her birthday, along with her fantabulous dress, I decided she needed decorations. Man, if I was this craftily motivated when my own kids were babies, we would have had some awesome parties! But I wasn’t…so for Bug’s birthday, we bought a pop-up, and I decided to decorate everything with ladybugs.

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To Make:

Red and Black Construction Paper

Black Pipe Cleaners

Scissors

Glue

Two Circular items to trace in different sizes (I used a Tupperware lid and a quarter)

First I used the Tupperware lid to trace a bunch of ladybug bodies (black) and wings (red). You could use just about anything, depending upon the size of ladybugs you want. I chose a lid about 12 inches in diameter, because I was planning to stick the ladybugs up all around the yard, popup and pool. (That’s so not what happened, but I’ll get to that in a minute)

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After cutting enough black circles to make any sober person want to drink, I then traced a cutout on the red construction paper that I thought mimicked ladybug wings. I know, I know…bad directions! But really, it was 10 o’clock at night, we were watching a movie and I was just *cough* winging it…

We gathered up all the red paper and used the first as a guide to make them all match, more or less. Then as I glued the red shapes onto the black, my sister used the quarter to trace about a thousand small circles onto the leftover black construction paper. And then I made her cut them out…cause…I’m a crafting dictator sometimes!

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While she was cutting teeny tiny circles, I took the pipe cleaners, folded them in half and taped them to the back of the black circles. Then I curled the ends very cunningly with my fingers.

We glued the smaller circles all willy-nilly on the red and ta-da! Ladybugs for Bug’s Birthday.

Remember earlier? About my awesome plan to ladybug the entire property? Yeah…I didn’t account for the horrific wind tunnel that surrounds my house. Ladybugs were flying everywhere that day!  Unfortunately, we had to be content with lady bugging the inside of the popup…and it ended up being pretty awesome!

Of course, she was only turning one, so she was pretty content with trying to eat the ladybug antennae as we were trying to put them up, but I’ll take that as a win! After the party, we took them all down and I carefully preserved them for a future project. I have no idea what said project might be…but they were just too rad to throw away.

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Things I learned:

  1. I don’t always need a rock solid plan. Funnily enough, sometimes the best looking projects come from flying by the seat of my pants!
  2. Don’t let Sissy cut out ladybug spots. Some of those spots became squares and blobs!

Sometimes things happen outside of the plan. What projects have you put together at the last minute? How did they turn out?

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You only turn one once!

For my niece’s First birthday, my sister decided to have a ladybug themed party. (And by my sister decided, I mean she wanted to do an Adventure Time theme, but we couldn’t find any decorations, so Rose and I helpfully nudged her into the choice of ladybugs.) So, I wandered through the internet, trying to find any inspiration for ladybug decorations or themes. I didn’t find any decorations that shook my creative tree, but I did decide while looking at cute black and red patterned tablecloths that I wanted to make her a dress. Now, anyone that follows me on Pinterest will know that I have been eyeing up pillowcase dresses for Bug for –ever-. Like, since she was born. After the Kosode Incident, I wasn’t sure I wanted to brave the sewing machine again but I reeeeeeeally wanted my baby girlie to have a pretty ladybug dress for her birthday.

A few creative searches on Pinterest and a few more knocks to my sewing prowess later, and I decided to make this dress, for my Bug, with many thanks to Ashley at Lil Blue Boo.

I envisioned black and red polka dots with a bright red top, maybe a little red tulle peeking out of the bottom. However, my local Hobby Lobby had a completely different vision in mind, presenting me with pink and white or black and white polka dots. If I wanted something ladybug themed, I could chose between a Kelly green background with red ladybugs or something baby pink with red cartoon lady bugs.  I ultimately chose the Kelly green, because I thought my niece had way too much pink in her wardrobe as it is.

I also bought a pretty red ribbon, thinking I could use it around the edge, or maybe in place of the straps. I’m kind of a fly by the seat of my capris kind of sewer…I just knew I liked the ribbon.

Now…I’m afraid of sewing. I think we all understand that by now. So you know I am not exaggerating in the least when I say that these directions were so frickin’ easy! They were simple to understand, even for a scardy cat like me. I measured the baby twice, plugged in her measurements in the super simple drawing and bam! I was off like lightning!

The only thing I ignored was the measurements for a pattern repeat…because I reasoned with myself that it was going on a one year old, who would be eating a piece of cake the size of her head that day…and no one would be looking at her booty. Plus…all those little wily ladybugs were going in 42 different directions, and trying to make that match made my head hurt.

All my pieces were cut quickly, and I even ironed it! (Don’t have a heart attack; I really do know how to use an iron.) All that was left was to thread the sewing machine and jump in there!

Did you read the Sewing Machine Wars? Do you remember the tip on avoiding thread barf? I sure do, which is why I had to take a picture of my properly threaded sewing machine, before I began.

This proves that even the most resistant sewer –can- learn from her mistakes!

I’m almost sad to report that it went together so nicely, I was afraid to even pause to hit skip on Pandora! I worked for 3 hours in sheer disbelief at my good fortune!

The loose gather for the skirt worked (mostly) and the top folded very nicely over it. Let me say, also, that this was a genius way to add a banded top! I wasn’t really sure what I was doing as my aunt and I read the directions and folded away, but man, it’s a beautiful thing when it’s done!

Then…it was time for the straps. I toyed with the idea of using the ribbon, but in the end I decided I wanted them to match the dress. I didn’t have bias tape (OK…I don’t even really know what bias tape is…) but I followed the directions as best as I could, with my Aunt cheering me on, telling me that turning those babies right-side out would be a piece of cake!

If cake is made with a healthy amount of cursing, a gigantic, Throw-The-Straps-Across-The-Room size fit, then yes, it was just like a piece of cake. Nevertheless, with help, I prevailed and the straps were turned the right way, ironed and sewn into place.

By the time I got to the ribbon, I was tired, sweaty and pretty disgusted with my Fabulous Ideas. So..rather than sew it on, I cheated. I used fabric glue and not a little bit of prayer that it would hold up.

It was ironed again after this picture, I swear.

On the day of Bug’s birthday party, we slipped her chubby butt into it (I measured a little –too- well, not giving her any growing room, of course) and she was the best looking one year old on the planet.

See? You can’t even see the seam!

Things I learned:

  1. Sew the damn ribbon on. Fabric glue is messy and tiresome.
  2. I need a better way to gather fabric for pleats. The method described in the tutorial was rockin’ but my Rosemary’s Baby sewing machine didn’t care for it at all.
  3. Ponder buttons or a zipper for down the back next time. While the dress was utterly fabulous, it might not fit her next month.

Mistakes and fears aside, I had a ton of fun with this project, and seeing my beautiful niece in a dress that I made was 100% worth it.

Have you tackled a project you were more than a little afraid of? How did it turn out?



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