career, craft, creativity, fiber arts, jewelry, self care, work

Despite it: what do I *want* to do?

Hmm. You know, the question of what I really want to do has come up over the last few days. Not what would be profitable to do — but how I want to spend my time.

I think my life is becoming more clearly divided between work, professional development, and leisure…where I didn’t really have anything to compare “leisure” to, before. I wonder what it would have been like if I worked for years before going into University.

Most likely, to be honest, I probably wouldn’t have made it through (unless I went through Community College first to maintain my study skills), but aside from that, it would have helped me to have had some work experience. That way, I could actually tell what kind of work I was interested in (and where I could be hired), in Undergrad, and aim my major and studies accordingly.

Still — I would not have likely ended up with as much education as I have now, because I would have had practical experience of life outside academia. I also might have been able to take a more direct route to a career. But that’s me looking back at my 18-year-old self from about two decades into the future. I suppose it’s easy to have regrets (or “regrets”), and to see where things could have gone differently.

So many of those early decisions powerfully affect what comes later, at least if one allows them to. For instance, I shunted myself out of a career in the Hard Sciences early, by opting not to take University-level Math. This placed me squarely in the Social Sciences and Humanities, which happened to be where my then-current interests lay. However, those interests were influenced by never before having had the opportunity to learn these things, and also by an early experience of unexplained dysfunctional social dynamics.

In any case, not everything I do (at least, now) has to be marketable, or something I plan to or can make money on: writing is an example. Yes, I had an undergraduate major in Creative Writing, but that decision affected two years in my early twenties. Ironically, I didn’t know much about myself, then. It shouldn’t define the rest of my life.

I think that up until now, most — if not all — of my time was primarily focused on academic pursuits and work. Right now, I’m not in college anymore (for the first time in years), and I have the hope of a higher-paying career, which won’t require me to have a second (or possibly third) job.

Earlier, I was reading and realized how much easier it was to take in information than to put out information. If I do this Librarianship thing for real, reading is much more important than writing. Like, way more. Writing does help, but unless I work in an Academic Library, publishing probably isn’t a huge pressure. If I did work in an Academic Library, it’s unlikely that I’d be asked to write fiction.

Out of this, I realize that it…likely is okay for me to do what I want to, with my free time (apart from work, reading, and Professional Development). That includes crafts, and it doesn’t have to include Illustration, regardless of whether or not I got a degree in Art.

All of this has been wonderfully enriching, but it doesn’t mean I have to hold to the same pattern for the rest of my life. I know that I appreciate the arts; I also know that I appreciate well-crafted writing. I found community in Art; from both of these pursuits I’ve learned how important it is to me to have creative output. It’s basically really hard for me to live without making things. Without records, the days run together, and I lose track of what has happened — which is a major underlying reason for my own blogging.

The thing is, my career path as it stands now is not exactly a creative one. I don’t, however, have to make all my waking hours about my job and my career — right now I still have space for free time. Assuming success with my job and career, there isn’t any need for what I do during that free time, to be profitable.

So, I finally was able to begin practicing tatting, the other night. For those who haven’t been following this blog, tatting is a form of lacemaking. And…I do think I’ve earned enough time to be able to do something that’s just about me, and not about money.

The beadwork I had been doing, had been migrating from being a pleasurable pastime, to being a microbusiness…and I’m not thinking that my designs come quickly enough for that work to be decently profitable. Of course, I can still teach the designs to others…

For that matter, I might become capable of teaching other creative pastimes, without the need for those pastimes to be commercially profitable.

As for writing, and the whole graphic novel thing…I shouldn’t force it. It’s been a very long time since I’ve written any fiction (actually, I believe Christmas was the last attempt); right now, I’m angled more towards nonfiction. Essays. Blogging. I also haven’t been drawing. While it’s attractive to restart the latter, drawing an entire graphic novel is very different than just doing one-off sketches. A graphic novel requires drawing much more — including things one doesn’t want to draw, or possibly see — than making images in general.

Right now…there are still a lot of things I want to work on. The two things I have wanted to work on today — other than logging this — have been practicing the tatting, and working on the blouse project I left off of. There is also the embroidery issue, which I’ve been dealing with for years…I’ve just been wondering what I could make for myself that includes such. (That I would wear, I mean…)

It is true I do have a lot of beads. I also have a number of designs to try out…but I shouldn’t push myself to work on them, too hard. They’ll be here. And right now, I’ve invested more than I would get back from sales. Maybe I’m making it too hard for myself to get back to working on my beadwork, by giving myself too many options, going through too much to set myself up in hopes of success. I’m not just forging ahead without a thought to the future, which, ironically, is likely a much more productive stance in the short-term.

I’m also planning on seeing through these last two courses. Maybe after those are over, I can deal with producing jewelry to sell (though I highly doubt that, if I got a full-time job, or even a part-time job in a higher position that required training and study, I would have enough time or energy to deal with it, either). I suspect that…given time and a lack of pressure, I will likely go back to it.

Right now, though…I want to try and deal with the fiber work, and the sewing. I don’t know why. But I suspect that cross-medium capability in micromacramé, lacework, embroidery, and beadweaving together, could lead to something really nice. I’ve seen examples of the beautiful things that can be made with beaded lace…which is obviously very distant from me, right now. But it’s enough to help spur me on. The thing is, I’m not sure how much time I would have to explore these things, if I were producing work for money.

I think that’s the real issue. Time, and allowing myself the latitude to explore.

garments, sewing

Starting work on blouse.

Today I put in a bit more work on a for-real version of the Folkwear Nepali Blouse, with the new pattern. Yesterday I was basically scoping out the requirements of the pattern and seeing how much material I actually have. I also overlocked the edges of my fabric and put it through the wash. Today consisted of cutting out the pattern pieces, or more properly: adjusting the paper pattern pieces, laying them out, pinning them down, transferring the markings, and cutting them out.

I added 4″ of length in the middle of the pattern, as my toile (muslin mockup) was so short as to be uncomfortable (my gridded cutting mat was of use, here). I am uncertain as to whether to extend the side slits above the added length, as the slits in the toile start right at my waist. I also would like to insert a panel (maybe a triangular or trapezoidal one) so that when the side slits do open, it shows the underlying fabric instead of an undershirt or my skin. I am not entirely certain how to do this yet, or if it would be more worth my time to construct an undershirt or sleeveless shell.

The issue with using a shell is that the front of the blouse is constructed so as to curve around the breasts; a shell will likely take away that bit of detail. Amazingly enough, the detail itself doesn’t make me uncomfortable; it may be because of the fabrics I’ve been using.

I’m used to stretch fabrics requiring underlayers because of all the “landscape detail” they show, by clinging. A crisp cotton or muslin doesn’t seem to have that problem — at least so, at this point. However…a clingy and low-cut tank top with a long hem, of the type I already have, would clear up the problem — and not require a huge inverted box pleat. The lack of modesty around the breasts wouldn’t then be an issue, because those areas would be covered by the blouse itself.

Right now I still have to mark and cut out the underarm gussets, the two back panels (though these are already pinned), and the ties.

I’ve been using white Saral paper as transfer paper, instead of the Dritz stuff from the fabric store. It works much better, at least so far. I’ve also been using a white marking pencil designed for quilting, though it’s super-soft! To mark the dots, notches, and squares on the pattern, I’ve been using a leather tooling stylus — something like an awl with a ball at the point. I just press on top of the pattern with the Saral paper underneath it. It does have a tendency to tear up the pattern, though.

It seems like the pattern paper now is more delicate than I’m used to. I’m using washi tape to piece together the extension panels, and even though it’s light and repositionable, it has still torn this paper, just like tissue paper.

The other thing I can mention is that I keep forgetting to place my cutting mat underneath the areas I’m marking. I’m not using a marking wheel with really deep teeth (of the type that I accidentally marked the table with before), but it’s still something to watch out for.

I also meant to mention last time, if I haven’t, that using a sewing machine in no way takes away from the pleasure of sewing for me. I was mildly surprised. It makes things go much more quickly and efficiently, though I am sure I will want to review my hand-stitching techniques (I may need slipstitch and basting in the near future, in addition to a way to hand-finish seams).

craft, garments, sewing

Getting back to projects :)

I thought this post would go best on Hidden Jewels, as it’s a craft post. What I was doing last night is a continuation of the Nepali Blouse project (Folkwear #111) which I seem to have last posted about in 2010. I finished the toile (muslin mockup) for this project last night, along with working on the toile of the Japanese Field Clothing (I’m using the monpe/mompei section) pattern (Folkwear #112), to the point that I can see how it’s supposed to fit.

The thing about leaving a project unfinished for almost a decade is that your body shape can change during that time. In my case, I changed from a Medium to a Large (I think?) in the Nepali Blouse. I learned not to cut a pattern along the line which currently fits, now; I cut out the pattern to Medium size in 2010, so now that I need the Large size…I’ve cut off and thrown out what I needed, as waste. Of course, now I need it, as over the last 9 years (about a quarter of my life so far), I’ve put on a bit of weight (which is to be expected).

Instead of eyeballing the differences in sizes for that pattern, because it’s so complex, I decided to just get another copy. So far, it looks like the same pattern, but I’m just referring to the copyright date here: I have not matched up the components. I’m not really looking forward to cutting out all the pattern pieces again, so if I could match up pieces I’ve already cut and confirm them as the same, it would be great.

Right now, I could be working on this project. But just like last night I felt best working on something with my hands instead of writing, right now I feel the need to keep records.

It’s amazing how easy it was to switch out my computer for the sewing machine. I mean, seriously: I can just clear off a section of the craft table and sew on it. It’s kind of awesome.

The other pattern — the monpe — I had to scale up, though it was relatively simple to do so, looking at the differences in measurement between each size. The current version of Folkwear #112 isn’t the same as the one I have, though. However, as the pieces are mostly rectangles, and the changes in sizing are only along one side of a pattern piece, I feel okay with doing the calculations on my own.

The hard part about that pattern was telling the front from the back of the fabric (and the inside of the pant from the outside), which shouldn’t be too much of an issue with the fabric I have (a one-sided print).


beading, beadwork, fiber arts, glass beads, jewelry design, macrame, seed beads, tatting

Adventures in neckpiece design

I was kick-started back into beading recently by someone asking me to make them a blue necklace of a certain length.  :)  This got me thinking on design — my tentative instinct is to go with Oglala (Butterfly) Stitch, a basic form of which I can see between the two versions I’ve seen in books.  Butterfly Stitch is just basically working one or more ruffles off of a center chain.  I’ll have to add at least 3/4″-1″ in length to account for the girth of the thing, but I’m still working on pattern ideas (particularly color placement).

I do have a more interesting project (to me, right now, anyway) where I’m basically using two needles to make a netted collar — I’m not sure if it is even possible to make it with one needle.  Because I’m not working off of a pattern, other than a concept drawing of my own (which didn’t work out the way I’d planned), I’m thinking this is the way I’d design something to sell.  (And then make over and over and over?  ;P)  I mean, I didn’t even start out knowing that the piece would be netted, as versus using chevron stitch, for example.  It just kind of evolved that way.

In fact, I didn’t have much at all in the way of expectations when I started this project.  To me, it was play and a chance to get back into my seed beads.  What’s come of it is a pink/peach/red-violet netted thing with tiny daggers I got somewhere between two and five years ago (a specialty buy — they’re made of a mix of peach and cream glass) and never used.  I also ended up with peanut beads in the “base” row (if you can call it that — it’s woven widthwise, not lengthwise) for texture.  Amazingly, they all tend to orient in one direction.  Plus, the curve caused by the shortness of the “base” row is about right for a collar.  I think I’ve finally got the color scheme down now, unless I want to switch out cranberry for baby pink in the “base” row.

The reason for using the peach beads?  I thought it was a color I’d never use.  And then I started to use them, and realized that what I was making looked a lot like lace.  (See recent blog entries on wanting to make lace.)  At almost the same time I recognized one of my practice pieces from an online pattern (“Picot Delight”) to look like tatted lace (I think this is the time when I’d checked out nearly all of my library’s tatting books, so I had plenty of photos to get an idea of how these things typically looked).

And I mean, originally I started out with a lot of colors which just vaguely and probably coincidentally worked together — the focal point used to be a row of ruby AB teardrop beads (“ruby”-colored glass, not actual ruby).  Then I went through a number of reds, only to come out on the other side with a relatively desaturated red/violet as the focus (4mm Czech “fuchsia” fire-polished rounds), as versus ruby.

Well, let me say that they’re desaturated for this season’s color profile.  In others they would simply be a bit muted — but we have a lot of super-saturated and neon tones out this year.

Anyhow, I basically now have a few swatches — those that haven’t been recycled — which show different points in the design process.  I haven’t been sure how to record the different stages in the design process — through notes?  Photographs?  Drawings? Memory?  I have cut apart and reused the beads in at least 3 samples.  I’ve needed to — I have finite amounts of these beads, a lot of which I can’t depend on finding replacements for, should I run out.  Plus, it takes a lot of pressure off of me when I’m experimenting, to know that if I don’t like it I can just cut it apart, and the only loss will be a short length of thread (and some time — but it’s not time wasted if I learned something).

It’s very clear that my initial concept design isn’t identical to the piece as it will be made.  I could probably go on experimenting with color combinations forever, but the way it looked in the second-to-last trial appears good enough to make.

Speaking of thread, though…I got the idea last night of attaching the clasp with fiber instead of with a beaded loop.  Usually, there’s a loop at the end to catch a toggle or button, and it most often is covered in seed beads to protect a number of different lines of thread.

I was thinking about how to do this better.  I’ve never really liked putting clasps on things, because they take a while to figure out, not to mention that most toggles are beaded beads made of peyote or herringbone stitch.  (Yes! I did find a herringbone beaded-bead pattern, not that I can remember it now, though.)  This is almost always a headache for me, because I don’t like weaving in ends — or odd-count peyote.  And if I use something like one of the very common, very fine, super-strong polythylene threads — it’s known for not holding knots well.  So I have felt obligated to weave in over and over to hold the bead together through friction on the line.

I hate this.

Not only have I broken seed beads within larger beaded beads doing this (causing the entire beaded bead to be a wash), but also a beaded bead’s weave can be distorted depending on the path one takes with one’s needle while one is weaving in.  This is why I recently have taken to collecting buttons with which to finish off necklaces and bracelets.  The plastic ones are probably the ones to get — they’re inexpensive and they aren’t going to scratch the beadwork.  Not to say that I haven’t collected some nice shell and metal buttons.  But sometimes you don’t want metal; and shell can abrade glass.  Or glass can abrade shell.  I know something’s going on; I can hear it scraping.  ;)

But!  Guess what I realized last night?

I can use my skills with knotting to slide a C-Lon cord through a larger bead hole or set of bead holes, then use macrame to secure the ends of the cord.  This way, the beadwoven piece can stand on its own.  There will be two loops of macrame holding on the button and the buttonhole, but if they stretch or break, just cut them off and make new loops; don’t worry about remaking the entire bracelet or necklace.

I actually got the idea from having used wire connections through seed bead holes to finish the ends of ropes before.  If you can put thread through it, you might be able to put cord or wire through it.  The hole just has to be big enough and the bead wall strong and smooth enough to take the pressure.  Also, the thread connecting that bead to the rest of the beads has to be strong enough, so it will probably need reinforcing.

I haven’t tried it yet, but it seems very promising.  Just don’t do it poorly and make the rest of us look bad!  ;D  *laughs*  (Oh my, I’m not going to go there, am I?  [I’m being cynical.  If you knew me and my posture on elitism, you’d know why.])

I did get a digital camera a while ago, so I might be eventually able to post a tutorial on here or something.  I figure the more of us who do it and do it well, maybe the better buttons will be made.  :D  And that would be totally awesome!

fiber arts, garments, needlework, sewing, tatting

Crochet lace?

Today I realized that if I wanted to add lace accents to clothing, I can make the lace using a crochet technique.  It’s been a fairly long time since I did any crochet, but I find it much easier than knitting.  If I wanted to try my hand at it, I do have some laceweight yarn, which I think is alpaca.  I also have fine cotton crochet thread, which would likely be what I’d use if I put lace cuffs on a shirt, for example.

I found one book specializing in crochet lace patterns today, but it focused on bedspreads and tablecloths, which is not really what I want to make.  New Tatting focuses on doilies, which again, is not really what I want to make.  There’s always the option of going back to Ravelry, if they’re still up, and actually that may be a very good option.

I have in mind a shawl pattern with a lot of openwork between denser areas of stitching.  It would probably take me a while, though, given that the yarns are so tiny and the hooks are so tiny.  But! I know I can crochet, and I can read crochet diagrams; whereas tatting is almost totally foreign to me right now.  And I have all the stuff I need to crochet, including some backup manuals.  ;)

Sounds good?  :)  I’ll add it to my “things I can do” list.

embroidery, fiber arts, garments, needlework, tatting

Beginnings of playing with _Embroidered & Embellished_; plus, tatting?!

I finally broke through the wall and started playing around with muslin and threads, today.  What I found, which was surprising, is that my own handwork differs from the handwork I’ve seen in my main text, for now — Embroidered & Embellished, by Christen Brown.

I picked up this book, as it was advertised to me before the date of its publication, and I’d been waiting on seeing it before I bought it.  It’s a very pretty/inspiring book, and I ended up checking it out of the library and reading it all the way through.  I found out that it seems to be geared towards beginning embroiderers, given the (limited) spectrum of “traditional” stitches which it features, which seem based on linework.  There are also some stitches for more advanced needleworkers, which fall under the chapter on “raised & textured embroidery” — though I wouldn’t have known about the difficulty level, except for reading in other embroidery texts.

Despite the linework bit, which really reminded me of drawing with fineliners as versus markers (ribbonwork?) or painting — I went out and bought a copy of this book today, because it does say (out of the great plethora of options) what needles to use with what thread or floss, and things are easy enough to understand, and limited enough, that it’s relatively non-intimidating.  It also seems that the later stitches often build upon simpler stitches learned early-on.  So while this isn’t a thorough reference by any means, it is a good teaching tool and introduction to embroidery, as it shows different results given with the same basic skill set, based on using differing materials.

I’m really glad I finally got up the nerve to try and practice.  I don’t know what it is, but starting is always the hardest part, for me.  I think there is a fear there that I’ll try it but not like it, or that I’ll try it and fail.  What happened today is that I tried it, and I liked some of my errors more than I liked what I was supposed to be making!

For example, there is something called a lazy daisy flower — while trying to do this, I accidentally started making a lazy daisy maple leaf.  I actually like the maple leaf better than the flower!  It all has to do with variations in proportion and spacing.  Color doesn’t hurt, either — I’ve been intentionally avoiding pink, and so came out with a bunch of red maple leaves.  (And one flower, after thinking to myself that I really should try to make one.)  ;)  Note:  when using a French Knot as the center of a flower, make the knot first and then stitch the petals.  The needle has been punching holes all through the center of the flower, and so your knot may pull all the way through the (now-weakened) fabric, otherwise.  So unless you want an eyelet with a knot hanging off the back, don’t do that!

There are a few other things to mention.  One:  how one holds the thread on the right side of the work while stitching, really does matter.  I’ve had more luck with making a stitch and then looping the floss over the needle, rather than stitching with my floss leading in some general direction, however.  Two:  it’s difficult to make a finishing knot when working with a small embroidery hoop.  I think mine is about 4-5″ across, and that’s not enough when you want to finish a thread (requiring one to make a French Knot and pull the [thick] needle straight through taut fabric) and the needle is facing a wall.

The third bit is related to #2; and that is, when stitching an outline using a backstitch, it really does matter whether the floss falls above or below the needle.  Randomly, one gets an offset, broken pattern, though this can also be done intentionally; always holding the thread above the needle, however, gives an overlapping pattern.

The last thing I wanted to mention:  proportions.  I genuinely like my own proportions better than the ones shown in this book.  I am not sure how much of this has to do with having practiced writing kanji, but my staggered blanket stitch (called the “short-long-short blanket stitch” in the book) really looks like I was writing yama, yama, yama over and over again.  (The Japanese character [or kanji] for “mountain” reads, yama; it shows three peaks next to each other, not unlike the staggered blanket stitch.)

That’s as far as I’ve gotten, for now.  I did, however, find a book on tatting, which is a method of lacemaking.  I’ve gotten the idea in my head to make garments with 3/4 sleeves, and lace edging the sleeve openings.  However, I’ve really got to find a good, simple book on tatting which will teach me the fundamentals.  I’d never been exposed to it before, and so while a lot of what I saw, looked basically like a lark’s head sinnet which was looped around and upon itself — I had never even seen a tatting shuttle before, and I don’t know how to use one.

There is a place I know of which I can go to in order to look at laces, and they probably have a library there.  And it’s probably much greater than the one book I found on the shelf, today.  ;)  I didn’t pick that one up; it’s called New Tatting.  It focused mostly on doilies, which is not really my end goal.  My end goal would be something more like making trims for garments.  But again, you know, maybe it’s just meant as a course for learning the basics.  I’ll just have to research it more.

beading, beadwork, embroidery, fiber arts, glass beads, macrame, seed beads, sewing

Surveying the field…or a part of it.

When I started the Business certificate program, I had the idea of going into business as someone who made jewelry out of seed beads and fiber.  Then I transitioned into “maybe it would be better to do silversmithing,” and after this last bead show, I’ve found that I really do like working with glass, for its versatility and economy.  There’s also the unnecessary drama in and around metals, for me.

So I’m coming back around to “seed beads and fiber,” whether that is knotted, woven, braided, or embroidered.  I just don’t think I realized until Easter (when I was knotting) that a lot of the beaded projects I’ve seen in — well, to be honest, particularly the one knotting book I have which teaches Cavandoli — the designs are actually primarily fiber projects, with beads to accentuate them.  They aren’t primarily beadwork; they’re primarily fiber art, with beads.

For beadwork itself, there’s nothing better (to me, and at this point, anyway) than beadweaving.  I’ve read that techniques in and of themselves cannot be copyrighted, only specific designs can be.  I really hope that’s true.  The most significant difference to me between beaded macrame and beadwoven work is the role of the fiber.  In beadweaving, the fiber itself is generally supposed to be unobtrusive and fall back or nigh-disappear while the beads take center stage; while in macrame, the fibers which the beads are threaded onto are design elements of their own.

Then there is beaded embroidery/bead embroidery, which I really hope to try soon.  I don’t think I’ve ever done it before.  This is a bit more specialized than embroidering on fabric with beads as a design element for a garment (which is what comes to my mind when I write “beaded embroidery”).  This is using beads, thread, and nonwoven fabric to mount stones and create jewelry (which is what comes to my mind when I think of “bead embroidery”).

I’ve also thought of branching out into just plain embroidery, given that the wonderful color mixes of threads are there, tempting me just like a wall of multicolored seed beads does.  If I do this well — and/or if I can get past my gender-related block to sew, this could turn out some really nice stuff.

By the gender thing, I mean in particular that it hasn’t always been the easiest thing for me to deal with being female, and many of the clothing patterns I’ve seen have been strongly gendered in a way that…shows me that I’m not in the designer’s target market.  There are some cooler things, like Folkwear patterns (I still haven’t finished that Nepali blouse mockup), but what I really would like to do would be to alter patterns to suit my own tastes (and body).  I’m just not that good yet.

It would be great for me, if I could disassociate prepackaged, commercialized and marketed femininity — not my version of femininity, but someone else’s — from what I create on the sewing machine.  Unfortunately, though, that kind of mindset gets a lot of external bolstering.  But this doesn’t have to be the way it is.  As, what about men who want to sew for themselves, for starters?  Where are the patterns for them, and/or when we do find those patterns, why is it assumed that a woman will make it for him?

Why does sewing have to be a gendered activity?

Or maybe I just haven’t spent enough time browsing pattern catalogs to find designers fully targeting myself, yet.  Wherever they are, they certainly aren’t easy to find.  Maybe I’d have better luck in a big city sewing store.

Anyhow, I’ll get off the soapbox, now.

But yes.  Little embroidered purses would be an excellent trial, given that I can assemble something coherent out of the multitude of embroidery stitches I’ve found!  I collect cool little purses, so I bet this is why I think it’s a great idea.  ;)

So I’ve said this much about beads and fiber.  I haven’t included kumihimo (Japanese loom braiding) or Chinese or Korean knotting, here, because they’re really on the periphery of my focus, at the moment.  Maybe not forever, but for now, at least.  I mean, I still can’t tie a Garakji, and I did try for a while (it helped to use a tapestry needle).  These things are just a lot harder without a teacher there to help.  I’m seriously lucky I finally figured out the Dorae knot…which took two books together, and hours (and hours) of troubleshooting.

…and, I just realized, I totally forgot about knitting and crochet.  Knitting is probably definitely out, except for spool knitting; crochet, not totally.  There are methods for adding beads to textile works like shawls, and there is bead crochet which, while somewhat predictable, does look nice.  The difficulties come with finishing the ends of the work, in jewelry-making processes.  I don’t like to be overly dependent on commercial findings or adhesives; and that applies to trying to finish kumihimo as well as crochet.

Anyhow.  The third element to this, which I thought of when I realized that I’m dealing with pierced items and things which in a modular or sequential fashion, thread through pierced items, is wire.  Wire can be used in weaving and in other textile processes like knitting, braiding, and crochet.  What is nice about it is that it holds its shape (at least, when hardened), it can be formed and forged, and because of these things, it can add visual and textural interest.

The drawback to any form of metalworking is that it requires specialized tools.  I’m lucky in that I’ve been messing around with jewelry since I was a kid, so I have a bunch of tools already.  Still, though; the setup costs can be relatively expensive.  This goes triple or quadruple when you’re intending to embark on a full-fledged metalwork run, let alone when you’re working in precious metals.

I do have some ideas as to where to pursue private classes in silversmithing, which look pretty good about now.  I’m so new to the field, though, that I can’t really tell what lies ahead, here.  I know that I don’t want to go to an ultra-expensive elite school at this time — not until I’m sure that it’s what I want to do.  And I’m not that sure.  I already made that mistake once, with the Master’s program I bailed on because I thought I wanted to be in the industry, before discovering that it wasn’t as good a match as I’d hoped.  I am not about to pretend that I can practice for a short amount of time and come out the other end of the curriculum as a silversmith or goldsmith.  It just doesn’t work that way.

I’ve found a smaller, competing school, which is about half as expensive as the professional one, and does not require the purchase of any outside tools or materials except for consumable supplies (like lubricant and solder).  One of the classes they give that I know I want to take, is filigree.  But I’m going to have to wait a while, for that one — it has a prerequisite.  At the very least, though, it’s something to keep my eye on.  And then there are the Art Center courses, which are much less expensive than the above, being not-for-profit…also something to keep my eye on!

garments, sewing

Seven Treasures rumination

I’ve had in the back of my mind an idea for the slits on the sides of the Nepali blouse. This would be to leave them open where they are, and insert a couple of panels of Seven Treasures stitch to hold them together. How to make the Seven Treasures lacing is gone over in John Marshall’s _Make Your Own Japanese Clothes_ (page 88).

The thing is that the instructions are for panels which remain the same distance apart from each other along their length.  I’m not sure it will work out for a triangular opening.

And I’m not sure I wouldn’t need to insert eyelets if I used this lacing, as it’s done in a thick material and not with sewing thread.  Inserting eyelets means I’d need something to use as an anvil…and you can see where this is going.

I suppose I could try this out on my muslin version, but really, I don’t expect it to work.

The reason to do this, by the way, would be so that I could get the Seven Treasures-patterned fabric and make the hakama-inspired skirt to match…

garments, sewing

materials gathering for altered Folkwear blouse, + hybrid skirt dreaming

I found the perfect batik for the Nepali blouse. It isn’t really feminine (at all), but then…well, if you know me, you know this can be a good thing for something I (in specific) will be wearing. As long as it’s tasteful.

What I found was a very dark blue-green cotton with white accents at $9/yd, plus matching Gutermann thread for under $2, and the sew-in snaps for the cuffs for same. It wasn’t at the place I was planning to go to — it was at a place I’d never been before, but I feel good about the purchase, and about having gone there.

Side note, I also have started reading the article “East Asian philosophy” in an older version of the Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, which outlines some of the major differences between East Asian and Western thought. It’s interesting to see how deep the fundamental philosophical differences go between Western and Eastern cultures — things that I hadn’t even thought of, such as the concept of a personal soul being the basis for the concept of individual rights and sovereignty. Not individual-in-relation-to, but stand-alone identity, as illusory as that may be. But I can clearly see myself being caught in a dialectic between East and West, and coming to understand them both more fully.

I kind of wonder what the “South Asian philosophy” article looks like, now…

Anyhow. After hitting the first store, I trekked over to the place I was originally going to and picked up some dark, soft interfacing and a pair of fabric shears. This was at 20% off, so the interfacing was almost free with the shears. (I ended up needing one yard, by the way.)

What I was told at the first store is that it’s estimated my cotton batik will shrink about 5% in the wash, as hot water is used to set the dye in manufacturing. What I was told at the second store about my interfacing was to submerge it in very hot water and let it soak for 20 minutes to preshrink it, and see if it’s going to bleed. I still need to do that. If it bleeds…I’m using white. I don’t want my collar stained.

Maybe I should use white, anyway. Now that I’ve got the fabric at home, I can see if a white interfacing will show through too much.

Other than that…I have the idea to make a hakama-like skirt. Just not exactly hakama. I’ve been finding multiple fabrics that would look nice as an insert into a plainer garment, but which would be too loud on their own. One of these I saw at the store where I got my batik…it was sort of a version on Seven Treasures, I believe. Indigo and light blue. Made into its own garment, I wouldn’t wear it; but as an accent on another piece, it would be perfect.

What I have in mind is basically an A-line skirt which is open in the center front for maybe 6-8″, with a wide inverted box pleat at the center back. What I want to do is to insert a generous amount of accent material in mirrored knife pleats between the two front panels of the A-line, with the rest of this skirt being a solid color or a very subdued print. This will allow me to have a tailored skirt in which I’ll still retain mobility — at least if I don’t go crazy chaining the pleats to each other.

What I can see being an issue right now is that this seems to recommend pattern drafting and a higher level of skill, and I’m way too new to sewing to be able to do that and not be frustrated. I can, however, buy a cheap pattern for a long A-line skirt and alter it. The hard part will be the shaping at the hips and waist (I’m curvier than I used to be, and I don’t have a block/sloper), and the zipper or buttons I’ll need to fasten the thing.

I suppose I can start thinking on it now, knowing that it’s something to work up to. There’s no time limit on this, I suppose.

garments, sewing

heading up to buying fabric, and altering pattern

I should be going out tomorrow to try and find a suitable cloth for the Nepali blouse. What I want to do is lengthen both front panels and the two back panels, along with the slits on the sides (which hit above my pant line at the current time).

I should need about three yards of material for this, assuming that I lengthen the front and back pieces a maximum of eight inches, which means I’ll need 16″ more material. Normally I’d be using 2.5 yards of material w/o allowing for strategic placement of the pattern on the fabric. Half a yard is 18″. This last time I believe I got 2.75 yards of muslin and it was more than enough for the basic garment.

The major thing is that I don’t want to be showing skin, and the slits at the sides will show my skin (or more likely, undershirt), and the hem is so high that if I lift my arms above my head, I’m pretty sure my belly will show (which makes me uncomfortable normally, regardless of whether my belly is large or not).

One of the reasons I’ve liked sewing is that you get to customize your clothes, so for someone like me who says that just because I’m female doesn’t mean I want to show my body to the world (honestly I don’t know why clothes designers seem to think that female = sex object, even if unwilling), it’s good to know that I can modify what I’m wearing.

So basically I want to make this tunic-length. Slit on the sides but not to the point that people can see my skin. Long enough so that if I reach over my head, no one’s going to be looking at my navel.

As for fabric choice — I’m thinking something between violet, blue, and blue-green, though a brown will also work. I want it mid-ranged to dark in tone. This pattern is a good choice for showing off the print of something like a subdued batik. It should drape well, not wrinkle easily, and not be translucent (as the fabric overlaps itself and the interfacing is opaque and also unbleached, it is easy to see in the muslin version that the muslin is translucent).

I’ll also need maybe .75 yards of interfacing. I want to use a lightweight silk (probably not white), as I’ve noticed the nonwoven stuff tends to roll up on itself after a while of washing. (Granted, though, this was in a ready-made shirt.) This would be encased inside the collar, so it probably won’t get very worn. I’m thinking of cutting the interfacing on the bias, though, after seeing what a stiff collar looks like. I should probably still get at least .75 yards, but I need to check pattern requirements.

I also need to topstitch closer to the edge of the collar, next time.

It will probably be easier next time to use…well, I suppose I can use that white silk basting thread to mark points on the fabric, if I’m using a darker fabric. It’s a bigger pain than using chalk, but I know the silk won’t melt into the fabric, never to wash out, unlike the chalk.

Right now I’m thinking rayon, or a wrinkle-resistant cotton.

M told me that we have another pattern here which is like what I’m thinking of, with the tunic idea — but it’s a bit too untailored for me. The pattern I’m working with has been fine to the point of realizing it was uncomfortably short, and I can easily remedy that. I’ll just have to lengthen the waist and the portion below the waist, and make sure those lengths match before cutting my material.

And I need to get some sleep.