beading, Business training, embroidery, macrame, planning, sewing

So maybe I will open this blog to search engines…

Apologies for the delay.

I’ve been editing Categories as I intended to do some years ago.  Really?  Did I mark that many posts as “fiber arts”?  I can’t seem to alter the size of the “fiber arts” category in the right column, and I’m thinking maybe I shouldn’t worry about it too much, given that only Tags are shown at the bottom of each of my entries.  But maybe I can alter that, as well.  It’s been a while since I’ve toyed around with WordPress.

I’m almost done with classes for now, though I am thinking of taking a class which in the past, at least, has been a prerequisite for other classes that I’m pretty clear on wanting to take.  I’m also pretty clear that I’ll likely need the structure.  What I really want to do is spend the summer being creative with beads, macrame and sewing/embroidery, but the big threat there is that I’ll just end up with my sleep schedule way out of whack.  I suppose I could also apply for — or volunteer for — a different job which would give me additional work experience.  Think outside the box, yeah?  Though naming rote confinement as “the box” would seem to be a bit rote (…I’ll try and get off of this train of thought).

Plus; I can’t really make a good living off of beads, macrame and sewing/embroidery…at least not unless I put a lot of effort into it.  Considering that three out of those four categories are newish to me, as well…it’s looking like I’m just trying to keep my mind stimulated.  But I’ve read that people with my type of mind tend to do that, which makes me a good candidate for IT work, because I won’t mind learning new things routinely for the rest of the foreseeable future.  Plus, IT actually does pay a living wage.  I’m thinking of keeping my crafts as a self-sustaining/somewhat-profitable avocation (probably as a hobbyist, not a business — there are a lot of regulations for businesses that I didn’t realize were there until this last round of research papers) while going into Web Design as a way to stay alive.

The reason I’ve kept search engines out of this blog is that…well, privacy, anyone?  It’s not like there’s much privacy online anyway, or that the world is actually trending toward being less connected, but being suddenly linked to the entire worldwide web — or anyone searching key terms, at least — is basically not having privacy.  Right now it’s like being out in the open but having a burrow well-hidden amongst the leaves.  Hiding in plain sight.  (Maybe that’s just my totem talking to me, though.)

I already know that dealing with the general public is not one of the great joys of my life.  In the past, this blog was linked to Ravelry, which is how I gained web traffic.  At this point, the material here is a bit personal to link directly to my identity.  It’s like the people I talk with online don’t know who I am, and the people who know me from real-world interaction, aren’t interested in my personal life.  And I haven’t been back to Ravelry in a very, very long time.

But I am interested in starting up some dialogue with other crafters.  My posts tend to be so long and intimidating to some, though, that they aren’t conducive to responses.  I think people get to the beginning of the third paragraph and go into absorption mode instead of conversation mode.  I know people read these things, they just don’t respond.  And pushing for responses just gets bad responses.

Anyhow, I’ve probably written long enough.  I have a couple of days to get my take-home Final done, and read the last chapter for my other class.  I hate feeling like I’m behind, but I actually do think that the vast majority of people are doing worse than I am, so maybe I shouldn’t grate on myself too much.

All right.  I think I’ll go and do something productive now, even if that is only something creative rather than career-related…

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.

garments, sewing

working again on Folkwear Nepali blouse

I’m back to working on the Folkwear blouse. I need to use a much lighter interfacing next time (this time, it was broadcloth or canvas, I’m not entirely sure of the difference between them), because of the difficulty of machine-sewing over many folded layers in the corners of the collar.

I finished the slipstitching, and got the topstitching on the collar and facing done earlier, plus removal of the temporary basting of the collar to the interfacing. Now all that has to be done before I can work again is that the table needs to be cleared off and wiped down from dinner. Then I’ll work on sewing in the gussets.

It was intimidating to restart the project after so long, but after I got into it, it was easy. I’ve also started making notes on the instructions — I basted in a couple of ties on the wrong panel, making the article of clothing cross left-over-right instead of right-over-left. Which is correct if it’s a Japanese top (where you only cross the garment right-over-left for a dead person), but I’m not so sure it’s correct for a Nepali top. I suppose I can run a search on it.

Regardless, I pulled out the thread markers which said where to attach the ties, and the ties are basted in now, so maybe I shouldn’t worry about it so much.

I also found that my 20% off coupon for my regular fabric store expires very soon, so there may be a trip there within the next several days. I’m still undecided on whether I want to get fabric shears from them…

(EDIT: I just ran a search on my pattern and it’s a Nepali blouse, not a Tibetan blouse, though the permalink probably still says it’s a Tibetan blouse. Sorry about that.)

garments, sewing

starting to sew

So I’ve been missing for a long time, eh?

Quick rundown: knitting is difficult, being able to buy supplies doesn’t mean I really want to use them the way I think I want to use them, sewing and crochet are easier than knitting. :) I now know why S didn’t get too far in learning how to knit — it’s frustrating. And oh — I need intellectual stimulation in addition to making things with my hands.

I’ve started work on a jacket…it’s a Folkwear pattern, but I don’t think I should really tell which, at this point. I suppose sewing isn’t as forgiving as knitting (mis-cut and you may have to buy more fabric), but it’s a bit more pleasurable to me, right now. Even with all the pinning and cutting and marking. I’ve done this before when I was a child, so it isn’t entirely new to me…and I think one thing all three of these crafts have in common is that beginning is one of the hardest parts.

I’m using a method of marking pattern points by leaving different-colored threads hanging out of the spots which are supposed to be marked. I feel much better about this than about using chalk or disappearing ink; I don’t have to worry about the marks remaining for all time, at least unless the thread bleeds dye into the fabric.

Right now I’m working on a muslin mock-up so that I have something to practice on and won’t feel bad about messing up nice fabric if I make a mistake or three. I’m thinking about going out and purchasing a book which will help with advanced tips (like marking pattern points with thread instead of with pins or chalk or marking pens, or why diagonal basting is usually superior to straight basting, etc). I have a book a friend loaned me, so this will hold me for now, I suppose. I should also get a pair of shears with angled handles. But I don’t need those immediately.

Maybe I should go work on this now, it will give me something to do.