Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Murderous Birds

I love a good murder mystery, and sometimes even the not so good ones. I read them and  I watch them to relax and try and solve the puzzle. What would motivate somebody to kill?

Somehow while sewing all the itty bitty lovebirds, this image came to me. Instead of leaving it inside my head where it belonged, I drew it all out. For fun.

 It started with the murder of one of the lovebirds.

The police (as portrayed by some glossy caped starlings) arrived to investigate, and honed in on a budgie as their chief suspect because of his questionable involvement with the grieving widow.
Inspector Finch was sure the widow did it. Though there were clues ...

Meanwhile the canary (sang like a canary) pointed out the real culprit, the murderous crow. It's always the crow.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Crafting for Therapy

This has been an odd-ful time. Adrian has been working a lot at night or out of town, so I'm full-time, no-break mom. Z has been very fussy and slightly sick. I have been cranky. It has not been all Skittles and unicorns at Chateau Us. Clearly what we needed was more crafting. Actually, I just decided to throw myself into some new projects to get out of my own grumpiness.

One of the moms taught a lesson in crochet this weekend. I'm so excited about learning and have visions of amazing Amigurumi animals everywhere ...

... once I get past the terrible mess phase. Being left handed doesn't help, though it doesn't hurt either. It just explains the hook placement. Working with yarn is entirely new to me, which is challenging and good. But I keep wanting to make terrible happy hooking jokes now.
I am also fully impressed that our teacher thinks we can make this little guy from our one lesson. It's that sort of optimism that I need.

I finally made this skirt from Crafterhours, which I have wanted to make for Z for-ev-er. I wanted to make it because it is all about having big wonderful pockets. I used to lament my lack of pockets when I wore the sort of clothes that don't (office clothes). It is my hope she stuffs her pockets full of stuff. I imagine that hope wears off once the creepy junk starts going in there.

I set the goal of doing some real live drawing from my real live model without thinking that she doesn't sit still for more than 15 seconds at a time. So it turned into some gesture drawing until she fell asleep.

And to round out the crafting for therapy, I made brownies! Because, if not chocolate, something (anything?) sweet will always soothe the savage beast.

And now back to my usual grind:

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Itty Bitty Lovebirds

I have never been all that into Valentine's Day. However, this year it is everywhere I look, and that could be because I tend to look at craft sites most of the time. So in all this looking it struck me that the thing to do was to join in. Actually, what struck me was that here I was sewing itty bitty birds all the time and there are birds that are perfect for this - lovebirds. Awww!

Lovebirds are a sort of social and affectionate parrot (thank you Wikipedia) and there are a number of varieties. They are monogamous and they are often seen cuddling which gave them their name. They are also a key element in the movie "The Birds" so it a natural evolution of my itty bitty birds.

I started making the rosy-faced lovebird as seen above, using green felt for the bodies. I tried painting their faces, which wasn't so good. 

I tried felt applique, which was better. And from behind their faces made a little heart.

Then I tried embroidering the red bit, and that seemed best to me. But when I showed them to people, nobody could tell what sort of birds they were - it wasn't clear. Since I don't expect people to go off researching lovebirds simply because I'm interested in them, I went ahead and made some in a more seasonal color.

The thing about lovebirds is that you sort of want to make them in pairs. So I cut out a set.

I drew a vague half heart shape in pencil and then satin stitched it in red. I whip stitched on the wings.

Whip stitch the back seam...

... and the belly. Now, this is pretty much the same process as the itty bitty birds, so I was a bit slack in documenting it. In fact, I used different birds. I admit it. I'm still making them.

Stuff the bird, sew up the belly and paint eyes. I've tried to get the shut eyed look of the cuddling birds above on several of them, but I'm still working on getting it just right.

This part is sort of humorous to me, and that shows my humor. I sew their beaks together in a kissing position.

I added some jump rings and memory wire I had to give them a little space of their own. I'm not sure what to do with them now, as our home becomes increasingly full of 1.75" long birds, but they make me happy and I will wear them out on a chain or something. And sure, I'll "sell" some on Etsy. Does anybody buy there???

Of course, by the time I finished the red birds they were the new favorites.
 This is the template for both the lovebirds and the itty bitty birds.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Snap Wrap Kimono Style Dress Part 2

After a brief regrouping from constructing the dress, I started drawing. I thought flowers would be nice, and then cherry blossoms. I got stuck on cherry blossoms pretty quickly.

I've never used fabric paint before, but it was on sale and I am a complete sucker for a sale. Also the images of cherry blossoms I liked the most were painted ones, so it worked. Now, cherry blossoms are one of the more forgiving things anybody can draw. They are easy to recreate - simplicity and beauty, what more could I ask for?

The idea of decorating the dress was to draw attention away from my sewing mishaps.

I only used 2 colors (pink and black) of fabric paint to keep it simple, and kept the pictures I liked close by for reference.

First I squirted the paint directly from the bottle in some lines - some longer lines and then a few shorter lines.

The brush lines appealed to me more than the squirted lines, so I used a paint brush to smooth them down. That's just my preference, and isn't necessary for nice cherry blossoms.

Then I put pink dots at the end of each branch. That's it. Lines and dots. Some of the dots got smushed together to make flower shapes.

And the end result? Well my model went on strike so it was not the end.

I had a chance to look at the whole thing, often trouble.  I added some darker pink acrylic, which probably won't last through washing. And then...

I cut several small circles of tulle, which I snapped up at one point to make a tutu - whenever she gets into tutus. I layered three circles and sewed them together to add to the blossoms

And ta da!

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Monday, January 16, 2012

Snap Wrap Kimono Style Dress Part 1

Months ago, I made this dress for Z. It's a kimono style dress that pulls over her head instead of wrapping around. It's a pretty good play dress. And I thought it was so clever.

Some time later I fell in love with and made a Snap Wrap Dress from Prudent Baby. It is not only a great looking dress, it's easy to get on. Little Z hates getting dressed and I appreciate anything that makes the task of clothing her easier. However, the dress is not always suitable for our weather, which is mostly foggy with a chance of heavy fog. With the optimism of not knowing what I was getting into, I decided to make a snap wrap kimono dress. And by make, I mean make up from the cobbled tutorials of others. Not realizing that this was simply a kimono dress - a pattern that's been around for probably a thousand years or so.

Below is how I made the dress borrowing from some great tutorials. If you want a simpler kimono, Habitual made this lovely one. The end result is still a kimono dress, which I made rather overly complicated. It's sort of funny when I remember thinking it was going to be the greatest dress ever.

I started with making the pattern on some paper recaptured after our last art co-op. For some reason the kids did not spill much paint all over the paper we cover the tables with and it felt wrong to just chuck it. I've seen this method of getting a basic pattern on several sites. Using a shirt (or dress) that fits, I traced it onto the paper and then added some length because it's going to be a dress. I also tried diligently to follow along when ikatbag had a series of tutorials on drafting patterns. I think some of it stuck as I bravely/foolishly attempted a 3/4 sleeve. Z likes to stick her hands into everything and her cuffs are always getting ... well ... icky.

The I traced the full front and the back of the shirt on the fold. The process for this is amazingly well spelled out on Craftiness is Not Optional here. The idea is to get two almost full front pieces to wrap around.

The fabric I chose for this is a stretchy knit which should be good for playing and is in a color I love (I like purple). It is challenging fabric as seen by the curling at either end.

I do not have a serger. Frankly I am intimidated by them. I've read a lot about sewing knits. I like knits. I got out the ball point needle and trudged forward. I also hate my sewing machine. The machine knows this, and it doesn't help our relationship. The manufacturer knows this, because I've gone to them asking for help. I bought it due to some very good reviews, only to find that it has the worst tension problems I've ever dealt with. The kind people at the Brother corporation told me to always set the tension to 5 and make sure I'm threading it right. I'm going to chuck it out a window and get a machine I like as soon as I can. Anyway, at some point in every project I throw in the towel and just hand sew the rest. I like hand sewing and find it therapeutic.

This was a good day with it.

I like sewing in the sleeves this way because I admit to a lot of trouble getting them to work. Most of the things I make for Z are sleeveless because of that. I saw this method and thought it would end my troubles. And keep a little girl's arms warm.

Sew the shoulder seams first. Pin and sew sleeve in place.

Then sew the side seam and sleeve seam in a straight shot. I lined up the seams where the sleeves meet the body at the underarm.

This is where it was to get some style in the form of bias tape. In this case stretchy knit bias tape because I'm a glutton for punishment. And I thought it would look nice.

I was wrong. The combination of stretchy material and stretchy bias tape gave me a sort of warped neckline. It is easy on the neck as it is soft, but it doesn't look wonderful.

Z also seemed a bit small for the dress (not that I made it too big) and less than thrilled with wearing it. So I decided to spend her nap reworking it by first adding a panel to help the neckline. I am sure this is bad sewing form, but it did help. And I'd already ripped out and replaced the bias tape.

And then I decided it could work if I made it snazzier. 

Now, Z will wear this dress and not care because she's two and clothes are just something mom makes her wear. The next steps are simply to make me happy with the dress.

So back to the drawing board...

And onto part 2. >>