beadwork, craft, creativity, design, fashion design

Switching modes…is difficult.

As is making even not-so-difficult decisions about whether to accept an interview (for a temporary position) offered by HR. The HR that let me go, after 10 years of service. That HR.

Then there is my Vocational program assuming that I’ll either be in college or working…when right now I’m re-evaluating my life and what I want to do with it (a.k.a. finding reasons to stay alive — which is important)…which doesn’t quite involve them.

And then there is University, which I’m only in to get an inroad into a job I may actually be able to tolerate long-term, where we’ve entered the end phase of tons of group work and have stopped communicating. I want to ask when we will get started…

Then there is my personal life, which is beginning to turn over into creative work: particularly, sewing and beadwork. I’ve gotten enough together that I could make a good return beading…though I wonder, at this point, if I would be willing to sell patterns as well as (or instead of) finished objects.

The major issue with either is that many beadwork patterns are easy to deconstruct, if you know what you’re doing…and I’d venture to say that all can be replicated, with the right skill set. But I have bought some self-published books that are as good as, or better than, books coming from the major publishers…which would be Kalmbach, Interweave, and Lark Crafts, for beadwork.

There are some decent books from other publishers, too, but as we move from craft domain to domain — the publishers change. The people who publish books on silversmithing might not be into bead knitting, for example. So far as I can see, those are totally different market segments, with different motivations, different investments, and different levels of familiarity with different technologies. But both of them can make a bracelet.

Beadwork (often) entails a love of color, while hot metalwork entails a love of form and fire (and is relatively starved of color work, in my experience — with the exception of enameling, and working with brass and copper [which also technically fall under “silversmithing”, as non-ferrous metalworking which is not goldsmithing]).

I would only expect the love of color and texture to be magnified in bead knitting, which is kind of a hybrid between straight-out beadwork and the tactile and meditative pleasures of knitting…but I haven’t yet tried it. I do have a set of Size 1 knitting needles now, though. I also know a couple of places where I can get (heavyweight) spooled silk beading thread.

The thing is, to do this, you have to have interest and skill in knitting, which is an area I touch on tangentially, not fully. Lacemaking is another area I’m touching on, specifically with tatting — because I could see its application in craft jewelry.

A while back, I taught myself shuttle tatting, though that’s harder to do in a jewelry context than needle tatting. I started working with the latter just recently to see what I could do, without having to wind a shuttle to the middle of the work. Right now, I know I can make button loops with C-Lon Standard (TEX 210) and the heavyweight C-Lon TEX 400. This is with Sizes #5 and #3 tatting needles, respectively.

The resulting buttonholes are large, round, and relatively stiff…not that much of an improvement over making my own toggles out of glass seed beads (which I’m always afraid will crush or chip [after having heard the squeal of Mother-of-Pearl against glass]), but definitely more finished-appearing than a braided loop.

Using anything finer than TEX 210 and 400 basically requires using a shuttle…the needles I’ve been using (Handy Hands) just aren’t the right diameter. In shuttle tatting, you’re wrapping the thread around another loop of thread; in needle tatting, you’re wrapping it around the needle, which may not be the same diameter as the thread. With something like C-Lon, which doesn’t have a lot of stretch, that means it’s hard, with finer diameters, to slide the knots off of the needle and onto the thread itself.

It makes sense now, intuitively, as to why the heavier diameters would be easier to use: you get a lot more wiggle room in relation to the size of the cord. The cord is also harder to flex to create the double knots, which gives extra space next to the needle.

C-Lon Micro (TEX 70), for example…doesn’t work well with any of the needles I have, as it catches at the eye of the most appropriate-sized tatting needle. It will, however, work with a shuttle. C-Lon Fine (TEX 135) also doesn’t work with any of my needles. Either the needle is too wide (causing a “scrunchie effect” once completed), or I can’t fit the thread through the needle’s eye.

I have also tried working with Milliner’s needles, prior to having broken down and bought the Tatting needles: it works, but I question if they’re long enough. (Milliner’s needles are also much sharper, so you have to be careful not to scratch or stab yourself when forming the hitches.)

If I hadn’t tried this, I’d still be thinking of the possibility, but not the reality, of using tatting to form buttonholes for clasps. I still can do it, but the possibility is now limited, in my mind. Either use TEX 210 and 400 with tatting needles, or try TEX 135 or 70 with a shuttle…and keep in mind that you may get a stiff and very round buttonhole.

The other route is to find a set of tatting needles which will work with finer threads, meaning that the eyes have to be especially fine. Given how firm all forms of C-Lon cord I’ve used are, I’m not betting that I’ll be able to fit something like that through (or over) those needles. Tatting (to make lace) is generally done with softer threads — which beads may damage.

On the other hand, I’ve just finished a necklace which has been years in the making. Using the C-Lon Micro for it seems to have been a very good choice: it feels tough, and was thick enough to hold knots at the terminations. As I’ve been using clamshell bead tips to finish the work, I was glad when the knots were large enough not to slip through the holes.

Finding out possibilities and what they actually look and feel like in action, is extremely important. At least so, from a design + construction perspective. Thinking up dreams of, “what could be,” is something I did for years; it doesn’t necessarily get anything done. It takes experimentation to figure out what works and what doesn’t. Maybe I should say, it takes the risk of failure, to find out what works, and what doesn’t.

The forgiving thing about beadwork is that if your design doesn’t work out, you can clip your piece apart and try again.

It feels difficult to get myself out of Academic Mode and into Creative Mode. It’s even harder to let go of Creative Mode, once I’m in it, and slide back into Academic Mode: I want to stay where I am. I get involved with my projects. This happens even knowing I have to get back into Academics at some time, which tends to fill me with dread and anxiety. It’s hard to get out of Academic Mode in the first place, because I have a level of guilt for not spending my time studying.

I’m thinking that’s not a good way to enjoy living. Especially if what you’re studying, in order to earn a livable salary, doesn’t fit your core drives (or relieve your core banes: like uncleanliness, and random social interaction with strangers). It’s just something you do so you aren’t homeless or dependent. It’s not like you actually want to do it, or in a perfect world, would choose to do it. At least not after you’ve encountered the reality of the job and environment.

And it’s like, how many more years, how much more of my resources, am I going to commit to this? For the sake of a salary?

There are other things I can do, if cash is my only motivator. I may not be able to afford to live in the San Francisco Bay Area while I’m doing it…but to be honest, most of the world can’t afford to live in the San Francisco Bay Area. We’re dealing with an inflated economy and gentrification, with high-wage earners moving in from outside, displacing the people who made the place what it was: the people who made this a nice place to live. What I can see is that someday — when technology shifts again, or when the climate shifts more completely — this area risks becoming another ghost region.

Early morning, on November 2nd — I began writing a post after having had a conversation with relatives. Its details should likely go into another, separate post, but I realized that through my clothing and jewelry, I could develop my own identity expression. I could also help others define theirs, or at least give them more options.

I’ve had a consistent problem with being able to present myself as I wish, with ready-to-wear clothing. The problem is that the clothes which fit my body usually also code me as a woman, socially — which is not something I’m set on. I began thinking on how to alter that. It’s not like it isn’t possible. It just requires creative thought, and the ability to realize those thoughts in reality.

That is, it’s possible to create clothes cut for and which will fit female bodies, without also making them to code as, “feminine.” It’s not like there isn’t a market for this: or there wouldn’t be so many people who are assumed to be, “women”, wearing men’s clothes. The problem is, after one reaches a certain point in their maturity, men’s clothes don’t quite fit correctly. At least, that’s been my experience. The body type I had in my early 20’s is not the body type I have in my late 30’s.

The point is that there is cultural space and coding made for cisgender men and cisgender women which signify their gender to people on sight. If you’re a gender minority, however: that isn’t necessarily the case. Not only are there no words to describe who you are, but there are no special signifiers that positively match your identity. And if there were, I’m not sure it would be safe…but, progress is being made.

I’d hope that in 40-50 years, there will be vocabulary and a safe place for people who are gender-nonbinary or third-gender, or otherwise currently not provided with correctly-coded tools with which to present. I would also hope that the erasure of gender minorities in the English language and cultural sphere, finds a way to cease in a respectful manner.

The night before last, I realized that I could and should get back to work on the “blouse” I’ve been trying to make for 10 years. I got about halfway through construction (having cut and marked the pieces previously), though I still have some alterations to make. This is Folkwear #111, “Nepali Blouse,” which I’m altering to have a much longer hem, and side inserts. I appreciated the toile, but it was much too short and revealing, for me.

The pattern itself is for something worn as an undergarment in Nepal, which makes sense if you live there, and it’s cold! Instead of the traditional fabric choices, though, I’m going for a dark cotton batik. After this is done, I can work on some outer layers.

And no, I don’t know the gender status of those who would be wearing this, normally. The pattern and styling is just something I like.

At this time, though, I find myself required to get back to my graded work…which I don’t want to do. Of course. Writing this, is kind of edging me back into thinking in words…which I need.

Wow, though. I mean, wow.

I am wondering when the last time was that I was so reticent about getting back into schoolwork…

Business, career, craft, libraries, money

Deciding against Summer Session for now

It’s safe to say that I didn’t accomplish everything today that I set out to do, last night. As I begin this, it’s shortly after 10 PM on April 24…I was mostly asleep, until 5 PM. (I was able to get up for breakfast, but then burning eyes and an overall sense of lethargy had me take a three-hour nap, lest I get sick.)

I also exercised a little, and I met my weight-loss goal for the last two weeks (even though I don’t know how that could happen…but I’m not complaining), so that was positive.

For what time I’ve been up, I’ve been working on more masks — trying to see how many coordinated ones, I can squeeze out of what I have. I wasn’t pushing myself to work quickly. I still have a week before the interim Shelter-In-Place order might be up…and even then, I would say it’s likely we would be staying at home as much as possible.

We know that two to four masks are going out to help others…I’ve picked six out to choose from (which don’t contain the dense batik that may be difficult to repair, or the one with felt interlining which M requested).

I have materials for five lined up, right now; plus an additional two which I need to cut ties for. A call to dinner interrupted those.

I’m getting more into the process of matching things up before I cut them, and getting to know how many masks I can make out of one Fat Quarter. Essentially, one pre-shrunk Fat Quarter (roughly <18″x22″) allows the cutting of one front panel (slightly larger than 9″x6″), one back panel (same), and one set of four ties (2″x 18″ each). It could also render two sets of four ties; or, five panels. I haven’t yet tried fitting three panels next to four ties, because, well, I’m working with fabrics that already have chunks taken out of their corners (or uneven sides).

Though I don’t regret cutting up what I have (it’s important that the cheap batiks get used) — I do regret having bought some colors that don’t really coordinate well. ;) Particularly, pine green. Yeah. What am I going to do about that. And a magenta batik which I’m also not sure what to do with, other than pair it with yellow or gold.

I also have an overpopulation of blues, a number of which are also hard to coordinate because their color is so pure. It’s the same problem I’ve had with virtually all of my drawing supplies, and the reason why painting ended up being so attractive to me.

It’s probably also why I have so many batiks.

Today was the first day I could have signed up for Summer classes…but I’ve decided not to go that route. I don’t know if I’ll regret it, but I’m not too hot on getting back into a Library Science class and being judged on how well I meet the requirements. (A “B” average [3.0 GPA] has to be maintained with my University, or one is blocked out of further training: even with post-grad classes.)

It’s also about $1400 for the one class I would have taken…compressed over Summer Session. To be honest, I have mixed feelings about Cataloging. I don’t know if I’m going to stick with it, and really, I don’t want to blow $1400 on something I find out I don’t want to do. It’s given every semester. I have other options to take before that deep dive, to test the waters.

No, I didn’t plan that analogy — but seriously, I don’t have to shell out that much right now. I just haven’t been overly impressed with my experience of Grad School. Not kidding. I don’t know if I even would have gone, if I hadn’t had financial backing and institutional and family support.

I also likely wouldn’t be looking at Cataloging Librarianship except for the fact that I did enjoy my Metadata class, and people repeatedly and over years, have told me that I would be good for the position(s). However: choosing to do something because it’s something that’s not what I know I don’t want to do, but at the same time, I don’t know what it is: that’s not a positive reason to go into it. I understand that; I’m not sure if the Librarians I know, have understood it (or have thought that deeply about it). It just seems like Cataloging, to them, is the land to which non-People-Persons flee.

In the interim, I’m going to be doing more training. I know a place where I can learn MS Excel online — which I’ll likely be able to use for many things. (Previously, I’ve received training at an Adult School, but I think it was four intensive sessions.)

I’ve finished that one Linked Data book (Linked Data for the Perplexed Librarian), which means I can begin reading Essential Classification and get back to Online Searching (which is, basically, the other end of Classification). Probably, I can also get back into my Reader’s Advisory study, if I get bored (and if I can tolerate the authors’ attitudes, which is not a given, and which is the biggest reason I stopped reading them).

Seriously, I don’t know if Public Librarianship is for me. There’s just…an ideological component which I recognize and am not all the way comfortable with. Probably because I’m uncomfortable with ideologies in general. I mean, yes, it’s great — philosophically speaking — that there’s a place where everyone can go and be treated with respect…do I want to be the person burdened with the task of tolerating everyone as long as they don’t break others’ written policies, however? To respect people who don’t respect me? Who don’t respect people like me? It’s one thing to set policy, another to be the person who has to carry it out.

There are a number of privileges you don’t get to have when you’re a Public Librarian; limitations on who and what you do and don’t accept — or attitudes that make your job more or less difficult to tolerate. Is the job important enough to me, for that?

But that gets back to emotional labor. Something I really don’t want to have to undertake, although in service jobs…well. What choice does a person have? (What are jobs which do not require emotional labor [at least, that aren’t either menial or math-based]?)

I would say, though — I would have more of a choice if I were not a, “Public Servant.” (Which term, many members of the public seem to misunderstand as a kind of hierarchical status.) If I were working for a private firm, that’s different, though maybe not so much as I’d think.

The difference is that I can refuse to serve a person (for any reason Management will allow, given that they also have their own Business cultures — which I know about, having taken Business and Management classes [yes, I know what a Strategic Plan is]) when working for a private company. Working for local government is more convoluted because of our funding being dependent upon local opinion, plus the footholds of government and politics (and that aforementioned ideology).

So…the remaining openings I’m looking at…there are three:

  1. Academic Librarianship
  2. Special Librarianship
  3. Digital Librarianship

…and I probably need to get on looking at non-Library jobs, as well. I think I’ve grown past the point at which I didn’t want to ever accept money from people. It was because all my needs were met, and I didn’t need the money. But faced with the prospect of having to take care of myself…yeah, I’d need the money. Computers don’t come via goodwill. Neither do art supplies. Or housing.

Well, I suppose that if I’m almost 40 and I finally understand what it means to be able to earn the money to buy things I need and want…well, it’s slow-coming, but I guess we all eventually get there…or, we’re taken care of all of our lives. At least, that’s how it’s been, for me: and I can see that I don’t want to have to be taken care of, forever. Because, for one thing, that leaves me in a very bad place if my caretakers are no longer able to help me.

No, I don’t want to end this entry on a downer.

I should continue with my studies, even if they take me somewhere different than I think I’m going. Mostly, for me, right now that’s reading — though I think it is possible for me to take internships through Open University.

I haven’t done any Japanese practice in several days…is it that important? I’ve just reached a point where the program I’m working with has become nonsensical (in terms of examples). I’ve had to look up words because the program can’t see me to know that I’m not understanding what it’s getting at. After I looked the words up, still, I don’t know what it’s specifically getting at…and there is no Teacher’s Manual that I have seen.

I think it would also help me to figure out both job tasks I would like to undertake, and places I (think I) would like to work. I really hate job-hunting because of false leads and cons…that’s what it takes, though. There are also probably a lot of people job-hunting right now, so maybe I should give it a rest…

Fabric store, though. Local fabric store, as a place to work. Or local art or craft store. It could be interesting. I already know a couple of people, as well…and I’d be willing to help out just to figure out what goes on in there, and gain experience…and that could lead to more. Businesses aren’t necessarily as regimented as the environment I’m used to…

— end, 12:35 AM, April 25, 2020

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)?

art, craft, creativity, design, embroidery, garments, graphic design, illustration, needlework

Creativity channeled into clothing?

A snapshot of a very untidy desk.
This is what it looks like when I do things.

Okay, I…I have a confession to make. Instead of continuing on with coloring my sketches (which are still beside my bed, by the way), I’ve (re)started sewing. And embroidery. After doing some research on aniline dyes for reproduction work, I’ve decided to hold off on using them until I can get good ventilation or go outside to paint (and use gloves).

In the meantime, I’ll likely be using some combination of watercolors (“like that’s better?” you ask), watercolor pencil, and colored pencil, to color my illustrations. It won’t be as friendly to the scanner, but it will put me at ease (and possibly result in more durable images).

One of the symptoms of acute exposure to anilines, through inhalation or transdermal absorption, is hypoxia — or low levels of oxygen in the blood. With COVID-19 around…I want us all to breathe as easily as we can. From the research I’ve done, it looks like most serious complications from COVID-19 (aside from secondary infection) are from too little oxygen.

I don’t know if any contemporary viewer has looked back on the very old posts in this blog, but there is a blouse (Folkwear 111, “Nepali Blouse”) I first got the idea for…in 2010? I think the relevant post about when I finished the toile (muslin trial garment) is from last year. For about nine years, it had just been sitting around and periodically sticking me with the pins that were holding in the ties.

As recently as about this time of year in 2019, I had re-purchased and re-cut the pattern, with an eye, especially, to making it cover more of my body. Originally, the side slits came up all the way to my natural waist. Like, at my ribs. As a youth I had problems with feeling constantly unnecessarily exposed in my clothing. As I was going to make this myself, I decided to lengthen the panels and insert new panels behind the side slits (as versus wearing a wrap around my waist or a wrap skirt or chupa [yet; I’d have to make the latter], as the pattern suggested). I’ll have to design the exact panel dimensions as I come to them, as I have realized that my body does flare out below the waist, significantly.

Yes, I can do this without draping, by taking a circumference around the place where the hem should fall, and adding that into what I have ready to sew, then dividing it by two, to get a minimum panel width. But one thing at a time. The hemming is actually one of the last things to be done, and I can do it by hand if I need to.

I also went up a size over the past decade, and neglected to foresee this happening when I originally trimmed away the extra pattern paper in 2010. Of course, I had intended to complete the toile in less than nine years, as well. But, better late than never. The main issue, I believe, is not wanting to “destroy” a beautiful cut of fabric (which, in turn, calls into question what I feel is “destruction”…and thaaat calls up a certain phase of my life, where I realized that making anything means transforming it from something else — that means being willing to let go of that “something else”).

I don’t really have a great image of that one readily available…I’d have to look for it in my archives. It’s in the lower left corner of the photo at the top of this post, though, as well as in the upper left corner of the final image in this post. It’s basically a really beautiful blue-green batik with white lines and dots.

The top photo…is what my (new) sewing area looked like, today. Last night I felt like stitching but not like ironing, so I started dealing again with embroidery. Showing what I did would make me a bit nervous, though it is in the bottom center of the top photo (I was playing and screwed up more than a few times), so here’s some eye candy:

DMC embroidery floss in different colors with a pair of brass scissors on them.
Sometimes too many colors are as bad as too few…on the center right is a ball of perle cotton.

As you can see…I am a color nut, so I have collected a lot of different colors of stranded embroidery floss. There are also some, particularly in the orange/pink/violet range, that aren’t in this photo, due to having been separated out for practice. I do have a photo, below:

More DMC embroidery floss on a wine-colored piece of fabric bound in an embroidery hoop.
Yeah, some of them are hiding…particularly a pinkish orange, at the bottom, there.

Last night I was working with perle cotton, as well. The difference in texture and body between the two different thread types is fairly…well, weird. The floss is much flatter and softer, while the perle defines knots well, is lustrous, and doesn’t crush. Right now I’m using a small embroidery needle for both (I forget the gauge).

I’m thinking of trying to incorporate embroidery into the final blouse design, though that will necessitate either appliqué, or working on the panels before assembling the blouse.

Right now, my major source of fine perle cotton thread isn’t safe to visit, so I’ll have to hold out until we can start moving around again, to get more colors of that. I’ve also had a pretty hard time figuring out what ground color fabric to use (right now, I have some Kona cotton solid Fat Quarters [pre-cut 1/4 yards of fabric], muslin, and a limited stash of nice fabric along with a ton of Fat Quarters for quilting practice — and I can’t even begin to say how much easier it is to cut simple shapes with a quilting ruler, cutting mat, and rotary cutter, rather than pinning all the pattern pieces down one by one and cutting them out with scissors), even though at this point I’m just experimenting. I’m seeing what I can do and can’t (–yet), and what looks nice, and when and how to mark guidelines.

I’m anticipating using that pink and violet+blue fabric in the top of the next photo (heh heh I’m re-learning Photoshop, heh heh), as inserts and accents in the Nepali blouse. I realized that since both of these fabrics are batiks, that could unify them (as versus trying to make an analogous color scheme with a different fabric). I have another batik I was going to use (turquoise and green), but it’s seriously much heavier than the main body fabric (nearly to the point of felt or light denim)…and I’m pretty sure it’s a Fat Quarter, whereas I have more of the pastel batik, because I actually bought it off a bolt.

Folded fabric and miscellany in front of partially-opened blinds.
Photoshop 2020 made adjusting this image a lot easier.

The above shows two of the nicer fabrics I’ve got lined up (with the Nepali blouse pieces cut out and marked, at the upper left — I’m trying not to move them until I’ll use them, to preserve the chalk and Saral paper marks). I’m still not really sure what to do with the pink one; it’s super light. I got it to make a hair wrap (likely it was either that, or curtains), but the thing is, it has a very clear top-to-bottom pattern orientation, and to wrap my hair I’m most likely to need either a long piece or a triangular piece.

I’m also not clear, exactly, on how large my head scarves actually are. It’s been a very long time since I’ve worn one. (Actually, I am pretty sure I can’t remember having covered my hair in the last 6 months, because of work.)

I think I may have avoided making it into a scarf because it was too narrow, or too short…though I suppose I could make a ruched waist wrap (or line something). There’s nothing that says I can’t, after all. Of course, though…chances are that it would creep up my waist while my pants fell down, and not do much.

This is why I want to sew. It’s also why I had to buy suspenders, because some designer — who was good at drafting patterns so that they fit female bodies — didn’t force the clothing company not to use stretch fabric with their dress pants with no belt loops, so now the pants stretch out when worn, and use that stretch to gradually slide down.

Like anybody wants that in their professional attire.

Though — I just did get an idea for a belt that goes under clothing and attaches with clips to the tops of pants, skirts, etc. That could be interesting to work out…

Yeah…I think that’s why I want to sew. I have an aesthetic that is unaddressed. I’d forgotten about that.

Is that the same reason I got into beadwork? Why did I get into beadwork in the first place, anyway? That was so long ago!

By the way, I started back in on this because of seeing the projects of some knitters on my feed. That made me think it was a good idea to knit, if one could reach said levels of skill…and then I actually visited Ravelry and realized that I’m nowhere near that level of skill. Anybody who has tried to knit and has gotten past the beginning stitch modifications (K2tog, SSK, YO), likely knows what I’m talking about! There are beautiful projects that can be made, but first getting a handle on the basics is necessary. I’m not sure I’d be able to tolerate not knowing what I’m doing, long enough to make it to the place I want to be.

Then I wandered over to the fabric stash and started mechanically going through things. Just sorting through fabrics. Then looking at the pattern pieces for this project, which I’d already cut out. Then looking at how much marking and cutting was left to be done. To the credit of my former self, I had set things up already so that it was easy to mark and cut the few things I needed to. Whether the batik pattern lines up correctly, has yet to be seen, but I’m not going to worry about that now.

I also have at least one project that can go with it, which I’ve already started. Then I decided that I wanted to try again. Because I want to add those to my repertoire. And I had set up the desk (see first image) as a sewing station.

I guess that’s a pretty hard-core example of karma in action…

I’ve already made this, once. The difficult part is actually in pattern design alteration — or in thinking about design alteration without actually doing it. But if there’s skill and experience gained for trying, is there anything of matter lost in exchange? (Besides money and time, which are both valuable. But I want the skill. Ready-to-wear clothing vexes me, all too often…)

Ah! The last thing! I’m pretty sure I’m going to keep my Photoshop subscription (it’s so much easier for me to use than what I was using [no, they didn’t pay me to say that, but you can see I actually got some images up here, this time]) — as for the rest of Creative Cloud (CC), I’m not sure I need it — especially not if I’m not doing comics. The reason to keep it would be to train on it, in case I have to take up a role in writing or producing copy, blogs, videos, brochures, graphic design, etc.

If I want to go into a production job, I may as well commit to CC and stop paying the stupid high extra fee every month for being noncommittal. If that’s not the case, I can stick with Photoshop and not pay extra for the rest of CC. I haven’t figured it out yet, and I’ll probably give it another month and see where my illustrations go. If I stick with them, that’s a reason to keep it. If I start taking tons of photos and playing with Graphic Design, that’s another reason. (I actually found a Macro setting on my digital camera, today; I don’t remember ever seeing that, before.)

Then there is the issue of classes. I need to investigate further, but right now…I am thinking of going for a Cataloging or Metadata position. That will likely put me into an Academic Library or an Archive…I’m thinking, actually, of taking an internship either before or right after my probation is up (it increases employability and helps build experience). I should be able to complete all my classes by the end of Spring 2021, as I’ve found a place which gives information on two topics I’d need, in one class series, more focused, and for less money than I’d pay at the University.

I’ve also been advised that knowledge of a second language is in demand, so I’m encouraged to continue with that (I narrowly avoided having to pay for this out of pocket)…and there’s a verifiable crossover between Tech and Cataloging these days, so I may not have wasted my training by aiming for Digital Services.

The other thing: online tools for Cataloging. I’ll wait to subscribe to these, if I ever have to go that route (rather than having my employer provide access). As I may have said, they run about $850 together for a year, and I may not even need one of them (if I take a job in Academia). I also won’t need them if I take a turn towards a creative or production job.

And I need to rebuild my ePortfolio. I took it down because I wasn’t ready to run a website. I have all the copy, but I can make it better.

I should really, seriously, take a look at all the services I’m subscribed to, as well…

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.

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

I haven’t forgotten about you, blouse.

So I’ve gotten a little derailed as far as what I’ve been working on. This is relatively normal for me, though. It’s one of the reasons I keep a blog — to remind myself of what I was doing, and try and gently nudge along focus on a project. :)

I still need to finish slipstitching the collar to the body of the Folkwear blouse, though that shouldn’t be too hard — I’ve got about 6″ or less left, and then I can start with machine topstitching. I think the part I’m dreading is setting in the sleeves, but I’ve got to remember that it’s only muslin, and it’s only for practice this time.

I have more to add, but it’s long, so I’ll put it in a separate post.