beadwork, color, craft, creativity, fabric, jewelry, organization, sewing

Update and quilty love

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been getting myself organized. That is, I’ve been heavily trying to implement organization; not to say that I’ve been succeeding at it.

It’s kind of crazy, in the colloquial sense (though there really isn’t a formal definition for the term, that I know of). Right now I have four journals in progress, not including this blog, separated by topic. I have a journal on Creative Process, one for working notes, a Bullet Journal to (attempt to) keep myself on task, and a regular journal. In addition to the sketchbook for random scrawling, and the sleep records. Eventually I may want to combine some of these…but do you know how tedious it is to copy over information from one place to another? (Let alone, drawings…)

I’ve been working on my jewelry, which has been going well; and working on face coverings. Most recently, I’ve begun to work on experimental models in…well, both…to see if what I’ve envisioned, I can bring to fruition. Because I’m investing so much in this from myself, it’s kind of scary when I succeed. But…success does happen, and I’ve got to figure out what I’m going to do if I’m really successful…

I should actually want to be successful, right? :) It’s just that success…for me, requires risk: curiosity and authenticity. Authenticity requires putting myself out there, and putting myself out there means…well. When I was younger, I learned that by throwing up a false screen of myself, I could deflect attack to that false identity and remain safe despite others’ hostility. Even if it was in my face. Being authentic requires both commitment and courage…and I guess I’ve just relatively recently gotten out of the realm of being a front-line service worker, meaning that I’ve learned to uphold a false identity to deflect attack for a very long time.

The problem with that, is forgetting who you actually are, which I had to deal with from the beginning of Middle School through the middle of Undergrad. And I didn’t really recover from it until getting my Master’s and losing my job. So in a way, if I’m going into business for myself, or if I’m working in a gig economy, I actually do have more latitude for authenticity. There are actual possible rewards for authenticity…which is not the case when you’re trying to avoid being yelled at because someone else happened to dislike something in your facial expression.

The issue is finding people who will respect and accept who I am…and just leaving the naysayers (the people who say I should keep my head down and not cause trouble because I’m lucky to be included at all) in my dust.

Yeah, conformity is a big…very big part of why I’m not salaried right now. (Along with the obvious.) I am somewhat aware that the way I’ve been talking about this could lead people to think I have horrible thoughts. I don’t. I just have different thoughts. The current climate has just made it so that it has become very…I think we all are very aware that the current climate is unsettled and not benign. I have a hard time believing that most any person of color feels safe, at the moment. Of course, if I didn’t watch the news or read newsfeed articles, it might be different.

I just happen to be someone who thinks what no one is saying. Then I wonder why they aren’t saying it. And, I mean, I was almost a Sociology major: I have an idea of why no one is saying it. That doesn’t make me feel any better. But there is the saying that Evil Never Dies…while far too many good people, do.

What gives me hope is knowing that I’m not really alone. I also realize that I have power I’m not utilizing at the moment…except for places like here, and in the businesses that I support. Also with the people I help, and who help me. Maybe I should focus on this. Someone a while back told me to, “seek kindness, because it’s out there.” I don’t remember exactly who it was…but I have been reading recently about the idea that we control the content of our own thought.

I don’t know how much I believe that. Both as a person who struggles with anxiety, and who has experienced depression and detachment from reality; and as a person who has been targeted for God-knows-what reason (which probably relates to race and gender, therefore assumed sexual orientation; if a Black trans* woman who had dealt with trauma had originated the idea that we, “control the content of our own thought,” I might be more inclined to believe her).

That is, the experience that goes into the formation of an academic opinion, matters. It is all that matters. (Yeah, I’m questioning if that’s hyperbole, or not. I’m unsure.)

And academia — Higher Education — I’ve found, is severely skewed in its viewpoint toward majority-White culture. Which I wouldn’t have fully realized if I had dropped out like I wanted to after the ice-bath culture shock of my first semester. It took me years to come back.

Anyhow.

There are a number of reasons for my recent absence from weblogging. I think a lot of it — besides the immediate risk — has to do with getting more serious about doing my beadwork for a return. When it was just me and this blog was all about what was going on in life and my reflections, and my (occasional?) opinions and my projects (that weren’t going anywhere, relatively), it was much easier.

I haven’t found a good balance yet between being open online and holding back what I might want to hold back if my primary business were online. Right now…I really don’t even know how much of an option I have to conceal anything, which might work in my favor. If you have nothing to lose, at least you know where you stand. I’ve been there before.

But yeah, that was high school and college. And yeah, there was a lot of suffering there. But I made it, I’m alive, and I’m here. And it was worth surviving. You get better at this “Life” thing, the longer you’re in it. Even if you are melancholy in your reflections for much of the rest of it.

Anyhow. Organization.

The past four days have felt longer than usual. Until very recently, I was holding myself to an earlier bedtime and earlier wake time. That kind of continued off the rails last night. I did get to bed before 2 AM, but barely. Then I woke at 7 AM and stayed up for a couple of hours before crashing again and waking in the early afternoon.

So both today and yesterday, I’ve been working on an old version of a face covering which was found originally on the CDC website. I’m pretty sure it’s no longer there — I tried a while back to find it. It was one of the basic pleated ones that you saw a bunch of people making to distribute at churches…though I’m not sure if my method of dividing the fabric (fold in half, press, fold edges to center line, press) is new or not. I would think, “not.”

What really drove me to do this is that I’ve got some flat aluminum wire which I can use over the nose bridge if I sew down a bias tape channel at the top. I hadn’t tried it…so yesterday was full of experimenting with a mask face I had made and then abandoned months ago.

Along with the aluminum wire, I also needed a steel file to round off and de-burr the edges of the segments I cut off of the coil. That…worked surprisingly well. I didn’t quite realize just how soft aluminum is!

Right now, then, I’ve got two models that I know how to make. I’m actually using an old 400-thread-count bedsheet to make the inner linings…I’m hoping to use three layers, total, with the outer one being an attractive fabric, and the inner two being sheets. I tried fashioning one of these tonight with a Kona cotton lining and realized fairly quickly that I should probably take out the Kona cotton, as the thing is a bit more difficult to breathe through with three layers, than I’d like. The point isn’t to suffocate the wearer; it’s to catch water droplets on their breath.

The other change I can see trying immediately (in the next iteration) is to use a Grunge fabric instead of a Kona cotton for the ties. I’m hoping this will take down bulk in the seams.

I was kind of disturbed that I had forgotten so much about how to make these things…

As for the jewelry: I have worked out a new updated pattern for a set of earrings I made for myself a very long time ago. 2015, to be exact. So long ago that I had to change what went where, because the newer version is made with newer beads, which don’t have the exact same form as the beads from 2015. In specific, I was using two-hole Lentil beads from the time at which two-hole beads were a new thing. They have a wider thread spacing (and are wider overall) than the newer two-hole lentils I obtained.

Yeah. Almost caused an issue, until I found that 5mm rounds could be used instead of a 3x5mm rondelle plus two 2mm (possibly 1.5mm, I’m not sure) faux pearls. Unfortunately…5mm is an “off” size and not widely available. I do have a supplier, but they are based in Czechia, and stuff takes a long time to get from there to here.

It will make more sense if and when I show photos.

But yeah…there are a lot of wonderful colors in fabrics and in beads, that I’ve been immersed in for the past week. I believe that color work is the main thing that drew me to beadwork and held me close. I took a Color Dynamics class a very long time ago — almost when I was fresh out of Undergrad — and was kind of shocked when I found that it was pretty much in the vein of painting.

Painting hasn’t really been my thing, though I have painted, and do like to paint. Subject matter is what gets to me: because the subject is the color and color interactions, color mixing, texture, etc., not the depiction. There’s also the fact that a lot of paints are toxic, which feels negative to me. I’ve gone over that point many times on this blog by now, however.

On that point: I keep getting fabric from Bay Quilts, which is struggling. They’re really great and really sweet. Their prices are very reasonable, and they have a good selection of fabric online (AbbeyShane is to credit for this: this is apparently a two-person operation with her mother, Sally), though it is by no means their entire selection. Before the shutdown I visited them in person, but because of COVID, they have had to move the bulk of their sales online.

I just washed a new load of their material tonight, after having let it rest and quarantine for about two weeks (I’m paranoid, what can I say: everything is quarantining unless it’s in a wrapper I can throw out, and even then). These fabrics really, really do make me want to quilt — not just make masks. There’s just something warm and inviting about a lot of quilting fabric.

I don’t really understand it. I mean…seriously. It’s like I don’t understand so much why I love little glass beads. Or why fabric or beads would be more attractive than paint, so much…

As much as I would like to keep this quilting store as my own treasured little secret…the shutdowns with COVID have really impacted them. We are 10 months into various shutdowns and restrictions, here. I can’t buy up as much of their fabric as I want to in order to keep them in business, so the next best thing is raising the signal about their existence. If they stay in business, it benefits me because I’ll continue to be able to buy from them. If I make stuff from their fabric, it benefits them because I’ll contribute to a viable income stream for them.

(No, they are not compensating me. They don’t even know I’m writing this up.)

If you are so moved, please go check out their online store. It’s pretty cool. :)

Oh, and: all the opinions expressed in this post are mine alone, and do not reflect on Bay Quilts. :) Thanks, all.

career, color, craft, design, fabric, sewing

Needing to work my own way.

I did get some work done, today. It’s worth noting that I didn’t get anything done before I decided that it was OK to trust my perfectionist urges and pre-wash/pre-shrink my fabric. This was largely due to puzzling over it…for days…and then reading instructions that M had printed out for a different pattern: to wash and dry the fabric as hot as was feasible, at least 2-3 times before cutting it.

Everything has been washed and dried on medium-high or high twice, depending on how I felt things would bleed or dry (there is, for instance, a lot less of the orange and yellow fabrics, meaning I knew they would dry quickly).

Previously…M and D had said it was OK to cut the fabric without pre-washing, but to cut the pieces a little larger to account for shrinkage. I’ve been cutting everything out to 9.5″x6.5″, to allow a 1/4″ seam allowance on all sides and give me a nice even 9″x6″ panel to work with when it comes to the proportions of the mask proper. It also helped that my quilting ruler has markings specifically at 9.5″x6.5″ (I think the entire ruler is 6.5″x19″).

So…there were a few problems with cutting things out without pre-shrinking, first. The first thing is that I’d have to either eyeball the size (which meant I couldn’t trust the seam allowance to be an accurate 1/4″ away from the stitching line when sewing), or spend extra time determining the size of the mask face when cutting (likely using the guides on my cutting mat).

The second thing is that I didn’t know how the fabric was going to shrink, as I imagined the warp and weft would not shrink evenly. That meant that my masks may unpredictably distort once they were finally washed.

The third thing is that if you’re not quilting the mask layers together, they tend to separate in the wash and require ironing to straighten them out again. With two panels of different sizes, those things may never lay flat.

What I did today was undo the pinning and finger-pleating in the two mask faces that were in-progress. These were the two I was working on when I burned my thumb with steam from the iron, about four days ago (this was bad enough to hurt when ice was put on it). The burn was enough to keep me away for a while (physically, I was better the next day, without even a blister; mentally, not so much), but I looked around that area today and saw that there was work in progress. It was enough to get me to work on this, again.

In any case…the finger-pleats were waiting for the iron (all I had to do was plug it in and press), but I realized that I could experiment on them — especially as one of them would never be used by anyone but me (I messed up the integrity of the mask by trimming the seam allowances too close, and had to hand-stitch the turning hole closed [my normal stitching line, 1/8″ in, would have missed the raw edges]).

What I did was run two lines of stitching down the masks from top to bottom, approximately 1/3 of the way in, on either side. I’m not sure if this ruins their feasibility as doing anything to stop COVID-19, but I’m hoping that with washing, the needle punctures will close up and the mask will be functional, and easier to care for than the first model. I’ll be able to see, once it’s completed and washed. My point was to keep those two pieces of fabric from separating.

Anyhow…I have a lot of fabric, right now. The oranges, pinks, and violets have all been laundered and dried (twice), and ironed to get the kinks out of them. I still have to deal with the blues and greens, though they finished drying earlier tonight. They’re folded and awaiting ironing, in the morning. Hopefully, that “morning” will not be 2 AM. ;)

I’ve also learned…not to buy fabric in 1/2 yard lengths, unless I’m just sampling. I know it’s twice as big as a Fat Quarter, but it still makes me feel like those colors are…precious. I guess it isn’t like I didn’t feel the Fat Quarters were precious, in the first place. But those were just the beginning. I’m also using Kona cottons, which come in a gorgeous array of colors which I’m unsure I’ll be able to match via computer screen.

I actually was talking with D about this, earlier: computer and smartphone screens (RGB color) really aren’t the best thing with which to try and represent a color. Especially not, when there are subtle gradations and variations between colors. I don’t think printouts would even work (CMYK color space doesn’t represent the full diversity of colors our eyes can optimally sense — nor does RGB); when doing mail-order, it’s like you try your best to pick a color which you think is right, and then when it comes, you’re pleasantly surprised. Hopefully.

I really don’t even know if the colors I received were the ones I ordered — I didn’t check that carefully. So right now…if I want more of these, I have to go by my receipts and see what I bought when, in which quantity; play the fabric lottery and make my best guess combined with the receipts, or wait until I can see and match the fabric from scraps, in-person. I really don’t recall how to calibrate my monitor so it’s as close to true-color as possible. I know it can be done; I just can’t remember how (if I ever knew).

Intro to Graphic Design was a great class. That’s where I learned the stuff about color spaces, or color gamuts; though that was reinforced with other computer art classes. In turn…this is a big reason why I don’t necessarily want to go digital, with my art. There are just so many restrictions, on the computer.

Anyhow! Today…was a bit fruitful, at least. But I need to keep track of how long I spend doing this stuff! I feel like I’ve been doing it since at least 2:30, until dinnertime (maybe 8:30?).

Hah, man. So right now, I’m focused on this…I’ve got two weeks before I may be able to work again, which will require face coverings. I’m not too hot on it. I don’t feel like the system is taking the danger of workers getting sick, seriously enough. We see multitudes of people all day, not all of them are courteous, not all of them are healthy, and some are hostile. Hostile + sick is a bad combination, because then you can get weaponized sickness.

But…yeah, I’ll deal with that, later.

Luckily, I’m still in with my employment program, and they will be able to tell why I’m incompatible with this job — especially, now (germ phobia [in a dirty environment], elderly parents [whom I still depend on], paranoia [high stress], tactless [vulnerable to being picked on], not a “people person” [people aren’t the center of my universe, and I don’t love them unconditionally]). They may be able to help me find one more suited…which means I should really also devote time to redeveloping my ePortfolio site.

It shouldn’t take a lot of brainpower…though I only have until June 1 to get this done via the Classic Editor (11 days). It’s significantly more difficult to link inline to PDFs in the Block Editor, though I’ve found a workaround.

I didn’t even mention the cords for macramé. I got some pretty cords. Which is another reason why I know the color display on my monitor is off. But…well, I do have the option of buying the other colors…I just won’t know what they are until I see them…

craft, fabric, sewing

Sewing problems 01: fabric grain

Last night, I found something very interesting: the consequences of cutting and sewing strips across the lengthwise fabric grain, instead of with the lengthwise grain. I now have to scrap eight face-mask ties (or use tear-away stabilizer; even then, I’ve basically ruined one tie because holes are all punched in it) because they weren’t aligned correctly with the grain when I cut them. Because of that, the ties stretch and don’t sew correctly, getting pushed into the hole below the sewing needle, by the needle, itself.

M helped me troubleshoot last night, and this is what we discovered. I had thought I was sewing over a selvage (the edge of the weave) or something, and that this was why I was initially having such difficulty with the needle going through the fabric (the motor was stalling)…but I was also having difficulties with the feed and the flow of thread. The answer turned out to be the orientation of the grain of the fabric (which I didn’t know to watch out for, when I cut the pieces).

I did learn something from this.

It’s extremely similar to what happened with the good batik I tried to sew, causing me to wonder whether the problem was actually the fabric itself, or because I might have cut the ties cross-grain (across the bolt), instead of along the length of material. The symptoms are a noise the sewing machine makes (“pok pok pok” every time the needle drops), a tie that stretches and curves along its length, possible loops of thread above the sewing line, and the fabric puckering next to the needle (under the presser foot) every time the needle drops.

The trouble goes away (quiet, smooth sewing) when sewing other fabrics in other orientations, so we know it’s not the bobbin. (I earlier had to troubleshoot a bobbin: it was wound too loosely because I didn’t feed the thread in correctly, which resulted in weird noises and giant loops of thread on the back of the fabric. Reminisces of childhood. Solution: get another bobbin, use the poorly-wound one as a spool, and re-wind the new bobbin at the correct tension.)

It’s possible the effects aren’t so magnified when sewing garments, but these are ties, which are 3/4″ wide, at the most. (I’ve been eyeballing a width of about 6-7mm when I’ve turned in the edges…so they’re 1″ wide minus about 6mm to 7mm [a bit over 1/4″].)

If I’m correct, the grain of the fabric runs lengthwise down the bolt. Cutting across the grain is cutting across the shorter side of the fabric: the side which is scissored off of the bolt. Because I was using Fat Quarters especially, sometimes it’s difficult to tell where the selvage is…though I’ll be watching for it, now. At least one side should have a different edge, and that will be the selvage, and parallel to the lengthwise grain.

I should also be able to tell what grain to cut along by testing the fabric for stretch. M showed me the difference in stretchiness between the crosswise and lengthwise grain…lengthwise, the fabric doesn’t stretch. Widthwise (that is, crosswise: across the bolt), it does. Along the bias (at a 45° angle to both grains), stretch is maximum. When making ties, I want to cut and sew in the direction in which the fabric doesn’t stretch.

That might solve all of this. I’m not sure.

Knowing this, however, means that when I’m cutting ties out of the fabric I just obtained — which are not Fat Quarters, they’re 0.5 yard to 1.5 yard segments — I’ll likely need to cut the ties along the selvage, that is, along the length of the bolt. That should prevent these problems, but it also means that I may not be able to make 45″ long ties out of one length of fabric. That’s okay, so long as I don’t waste it…

I had been questioning, as well, whether the fabric folds more easily in one direction, than the other. I guess there’s no better way to answer that directly, than just trying it…

color, craft, fabric, fiber arts, sewing

Fabrics!!!

Remember how I mentioned that thing about having too many choices? I was partially referring to this:

A bunch of quilting cottons divided by color, into blue-greens, pinks, and purples.

And this:

Orange quilting cottons on the right, and a couple of cottons I don't like, on the left...

I obtained these after decimating my Fat Quarter stash for COVID-19 face masks. Of course, these will also be going (first) to COVID-19 face masks.

I’m still not certain whether to launder these before I begin cutting and sewing. It is tempting to wash everything, though that also means pressing everything. I don’t mind it, but it’s a lot of work, and this is a lot of fabric! The textures of the fabrics also change, and there may be differential shrinkage.

I’m almost scared to start, because I know that if I cut and construct one mask out of these, it may not last through the wash…though I have been encouraged to try making at least one mask and laundering it, to see what will happen. If it comes out poorly, then I wash everything else before cutting. If it comes out fine, then I don’t have to worry. I’m planning to tack on an extra 0.5″ to 0.75″, to account for shrinkage (the mask face should be approximately 6″x9″)…the thing is, the shrinkage via warp (length) versus via weft (width)…may not be the same. And it probably won’t be the same among all the fabrics.

I have extra yardage in the pink materials, so my first trial should come out of those…I had been planning to use the two fabrics on the left in the second photo, just because I like them least (with apologies to the designers). However, I have less of each blue and green Kona cotton (first photo, top left, plain fabrics), in exchange for more shades of those colors.

Six sets of mask cottons, ready to sew.

Ahh, decisions…

(I probably should be saying, “Ahh, inexperience…”)

I have nearly run out of the Fat Quarters I used for my initial masks. I basically slaughtered my initial stash, because I needed to. They were willing sacrifices of quilting cotton.

The cuts on the left are what I have had matched up, though I only have a few of these left to sew, and I’ve rearranged some of the pairings. Because they are all from 1/4-yard cuts, I wasn’t able to make two long ties as versus four short ones.

However…that could be rectified in what I’m about to get into.

I haven’t sewn in about two days. I think I’m still getting over the shock of the new fabrics. If I’m correct, all in all I’ve made about 16 masks, so far. What I don’t use on masks is going into quilts; I already have an interesting idea laid out, though I can’t right now find the image file of the quilt block I designed. It’s basically based on paper-folding…I can’t find the relevant post right now, though.

I really need to start an “origami” tag…and/or a “quilting” tag…

Oh hey, look. ;)

craft, design, fabric, garments, sewing

There’s always more to do, isn’t there?

Always. More. I was just looking through the (sparse) image logs I have on my current machine. I also have about 30 gigs of images archived on a memory stick. Most of it is from the community-college Art program. I’ll likely want to note which classes I was taking, when; that information is not in the same place.

What I’ve been advised to do is to copy all of my image storage onto my hard drive, then deal with it from there. It sounds like a good plan, especially as I’ve learned that, “save it and forget it,” is overly optimistic. (Backups can fail, that is.)

Today, I’ve mostly been dealing with face masks. I have 21 cuts of pre-shrunk, ironed batik for the outer portions (which I may have overdone); right now I’m picking out which Kona cottons to use on the backs, and what fabric to use for the ties. I have a lot of light-to-midweight quilting cotton which should be great for ties…but I don’t know how many I’ll get out of one Fat Quarter. All it takes to figure it out, though, is measurement and a little math.

Anyhow, there is not going to be a shortage of masks, here. I can see why people say they get burned-out on them; they can get really repetitive, at least unless I refine the design on each iteration. The latter keeps things interesting, but I can also see just wanting to get through them, as they’re needed almost immediately. The ones we need to send out, we can send out; I have a plan to replace them (plus), now. I just don’t want to send the ones I know are fragile…I can fix them, I don’t know if others can.

Not to mention that there is the stress of what to do when I run out of fabric, or thread. It may not have been the smartest thing to do, but that’s why I cut up the entirety of the batik Fat Quarters. It stops me from guessing, and lets me know what I do have. (The batiks are supposed to be good for filtering, so there are some on the outside of almost all of my masks.)

I also have more batik; it’s just more closely woven, more expensive, and in larger quantities. In other words: it’s nicer. :) But the higher quality does make it harder to sew, as it’s more resistant to the sewing machine (I’ve had the motor jam on me multiple times while trying to sew through too many layers of either the [tightly woven] good batik, or the [midweight] Kona cotton).

I also have quite a bit of soft, fine muslin, though that would likely go to ties, if it went to anything. I am not sure how effective it would be as a mask, even doubled. The reason to use it for ties is to avoid bumps of fabric at the corners of the masks (I have a sizable length of this which would allow one long tie instead of two short ones), though if I just moved in the corners of the ties a bit, I could probably take down a lot of that bulk.

Right now I do, actually, want to get back to work on the Nepali Blouse. It’s something I can do anytime, but I haven’t even wound the first bobbin, yet. We actually have more bobbins than I thought; I stalled because I thought there was only one empty one. Apparently, there are a bunch more empty bobbins, which just aren’t with the rest.

Right now I’m using Coats & Clark Dual Duty thread, which seems good enough (this is what I grew up with). The blouse, I got Gutermann thread for (it was a nice color match); but how old is it? I’m not sure — but if I look at my archives, it’s probably really old. I also don’t know how the fabric it’s made of, will sew…particularly, I’m not sure if I’ll have to use a different needle (or if I damaged the one that’s in there). I’m not quite advanced enough to know that, yet. M can help.

But tomorrow, I can wind the Gutermann bobbin, sew some scraps of the blouse material, and see how it comes out and if the needle needs changing. I’ve also just checked: I’ll need to make ties that are 2″ wide…unless I need to wrangle that a bit, in order to fit a multiple of 2 or 4 onto the Fat Quarter. Math, right?

The Internet (not my ruler, I haven’t checked) says the Fat Quarter should be 18″x22″. The 22″ is likely the length that I have lined up with the long side of the ruler (it has shrunk), which means the 18″ length is what I’m fitting 8 strips into, 2″ wide each: giving me 2″ of wiggle room and full ties for two masks.

That is what I’m talking about. Math.

I stopped work on this earlier tonight because I needed to think about what I was doing. It’s apparent, now, that I’ll end up using a lot more fabric for ties than I had predicted: however, it’s all (or, almost all) washed, dried, and ironed, now.

And I don’t have to make all 21 masks. :) However, I do have little cuts into the edges of some of these Fat Quarters. I’ll go and check on them now; I can easily swap out these lightweight things for uncut Fat Quarters, if I need to.

Just. Who knew that sewing would be such a useful skill (these days, at least)?

craft, fabric, libraries, sewing

Sewing? Who the…wha…abt…sorry, I’m tired.

I’ve spent long enough working on masks today, that I think I need a break. Right now I’ve got another batch of batiks and Kona cotton (though the latter is for ties; it may be too insubstantial for filtering) in the hot-water-shrinky-washer, so it’s not a great time for a shower…

I find it amazing, though, how much of sewing is pressing. I hadn’t really thought of it, before. In any case, today was largely spent picking fabrics, laundering them, pressing them, cutting shapes out of them, pressing them again, figuring out how to make pleats in a rational manner, ripping out bad work…and then, sewing. Sewing takes the least energy of all these things! (I found out that creasing the fabric in the center, then along 1/4 lines, makes it much easier to lay out the pleats…ideally, I’m working with a 2″ joint, but it was wider this time, as it was my first try.)

So, right now, I’ve got one mask. That’s one more than I started the day with, and because it is teal, it does look like a hospital mask (which I’m not fond of). But still. It actually catches the moisture from my breath, which is what I think it’s supposed to do. Plus, I now know what I’m doing (and where I might improve on the design, with the limitation that I’m working with a bunch of Fat Quarters, for the most part).

In specific, I’m thinking of overlapping the ties over the pleats at the sides of the mask…which will require longer ties, but I can fit four of them into a Fat Quarter, along with two mask panels. It would take down the bulk at each corner.

Work on the Nepali Blouse has stalled; it was more important to work on the I’m-not-gonna-give-you-Corona-mask. But there’s a lot to sewing that I realize now, I remember. Even threading the bobbin and the machine. It’s a different machine than I’ve ever worked on, though I did once take a Sewing Machine essentials class, so I remembered the direction in which to run the thread…(IIRC, I make a “p” with the thread if the bobbin is drop-down, and a “q” if it’s a side-loaded bobbin…don’t quote me on that, though).

I’ve also restarted reading, as I’ve realized that this is the one big thing I need to be doing, that I’m not doing. Reading, practically, anything. I did just start Radium Girls last night, and got through the 10th chapter…it’s fairly gory. Having…well — painted — myself…I know how cheap camel-hair brushes are, and wonder what the outcome would have been if the radium dial workshops had used brushes that actually would have kept a point…not to mention the lingering question of why specifically, “girls,” were recruited to perform the task of ingesting radioactive pigment with no protection.

Anyhow. I realize there may be a lot of questions as to how to access eBooks, so I had to run through getting access for myself. (It would help to know that, at least!) I still haven’t tried all the platforms, though, and I can’t try all the devices.

Right now…the fabrics are out of the wash, and in the hot-air-shrinky-dryer. Maybe I have it in me to go and sew again? Or maybe I should give it a rest and get some rest, to preserve my health…

Yeah…I’ve been up, for a while. Take meds, brush teeth, wash face, then read more Radium Girls and go to sleep when it gets disturbing enough… ;P

beading, fabric

From steel to gold

I finally did it.  I made the jump.

I now have my own handmade gold-filled earrings in place instead of my surgical steel Captive Ball Rings.  And they don’t feel bad, either.

Looking back on it, within the past couple of days I had tried to reach a compromise between having the thick steel rings in and having more decorative jewelry in, by making small loops of Ultrasuede, wrapping the loops around the CBRs, and hanging dangles off of the bottom parts of the Ultrasuede.  It didn’t work, and this is mostly because the Ultrasuede frays too much.  As I was whipstitching the tiny bits of it, I saw that it wasn’t going to work; the threads of the Ultrasuede were sticking out beyond the stitching.  Maybe it would work better if I cut the material on the bias or something, but really I think I’ve given up on that.  :)

There is the option of using real leather, but I do not look forward to that for a few reasons:

1) It’s not hygienic.  It can’t be easily cleaned, and this matters if you have piercings.

2) I’ve heard of people with nickel sensitivities having allergic reactions to leather.  I know I have a nickel sensitivity, and I don’t want to risk sensitizing myself to leather.

3) If that weren’t enough, it’s difficult to sew (and I don’t want to ruin my milliner’s needles by trying to punch through suede).

There are a set of pearls which I obtained last month which I am now ready to make into earrings.  They’ve just been sitting around resting on 24 gauge gold-filled wire.  Even if I do mess up an expensive head-pin or two…I can still work on them, and at least I’ll finally be able to wear them.

Do I lose street cred because I took out my heavy-gauge earrings?  ;D  (I suppose the blessing is that I didn’t stretch my piercings to the stage where it would be difficult to go back.)

I have more to say, but it’s on a different topic, so I’ll put it in a different entry.