12.21.2010

Santa and Gilly Gift Yr. 2

As I mentioned in the last post, the Yule-mas tradition we started when our daughter was born, was to give a handmade gift to her from Santa and Gilly Claus. But because she's old enough to start to understand getting new things and opening presents, I couldn't resist getting her a few other gifts from us. After I'd collected some cool finds and wrapped them up, I was left stumped as for what to give her from Gilly and Santa. I wanted something functional, and that she could actually use.


The Mission::  


Pretty : D


This year, after much thought, "Santa and Gilly" decided to make Flora a simple black dress and white pinafore with embroidery inspired by a swatch of vintage Norwegian wool from my great, great gran. The trick is that I had "Santa and Gilly" had never drafted a pattern before. But I have had enough of buying and trying to tailor patterns and have wanted to cross into drafting. Making a simple dress for Flora seemed like a nice, easy way to start breaking into it.


The Measuring::  

Because I didn't figure that Flora would hold still to be measured, I decided to measure a dress that was of a similar design to what I wanted to create and work the pattern around that. It was tricky trying to measure arm holes with a tape and I spent probably three hours measuring, re-checking, learning how pieces went together, and transferring them to papers.




After I managed the basic dress, I used what I'd learned from measuring the physical garment and tested my learning by drafting a simple pinafore with a ruffle cap (I hope?) to go over it from drawing alone.




I'm not sure if the pattern would make sense to anyone else... but I tried my best. I really hope it makes sense to me later.


The Construction::  




I got to it the next day on muslin.




A few mistakes were made. (Okay, a lot.) In this case, I forgot that I cut pattern papers that had to have extra centimeters added on to account for a gather. My first piece was a really severe bell shape. The second cut was a little more realistic. I can see that I probably should have found larger paper or measured and cut a muslin pattern that would be actual size, instead of a partial shape with notes to add here or there.

But I figure that it's, at the very least, good I could recognise that it was wrong before I sewed it together. YAY ME.




Flora came to chill with me while I was making the sleeve...


..And got fitted.




Then I noticed she needed  a haircut with those scissors right there.



Done! I think she's getting used to my frequent bang trims at random times.


Finishing::  


After the initial cutting, the sewing went alright. No real hiccups.



This design has a single thickness for the skirt (which is black cotton twill, rather than wool like the original to try to keep her cooler in our hot weather.) and the yolk is finished on the inside like so.



Because of the way it's put together, I'll need to turn under, iron, then hand sew the inner liner to the skirt after folding it under and pressing it, but I couldn't think of another way get the neck done right. Maybe that's why you see those kind of crappy half-ring things with serged edges inside cheap dresses. It's a lot more work to have a fully lined bodice or yolk like this.



Okay, so it's not the most flattering picture. Obviously the dress won't have a missing sleeve in the end, but I didn't see the point of laboring unnecessarily over the muslin mock up. Still, all the edges lined up. The sleeves are a little long and I like that there's enough, but not too much gather. I want the dress to be a little simple and country looking. The sleeves and dress body will need to be shortened, then a gather added to the arm.


The neck fits her just as she is, but I figured if I dropped it down a centimeter I could still have enough room to embroider, and she would get more wear out of it. The torso is large enough for her to grow into it, so the neck should have some give as well, I think.


Embroidery 1/2::  



Next up is the embroidery. I figured that would be the relaxing finish to the tasking challenge of learning to make a pattern. I was pretty much wrong on that... But more later. My hands need a break






I'll be breaking my Tuesday post rotation because I have a few posts I might want to put in before the holiday. But here's the question of the week:: Do you have any last minute gifts you're still making? Did you put them off, get the idea late in the game, or have you been working on it all this time?


If anyone wants a pattern for an 18-24 mo. toddler dress with a yolk, I'll give the measurements. Just leave a comment with a request for the numbers and I'll give it post haste ... if you trust my abilities, that is. : 3

12.09.2010

This week, Friday is really a Tuesday. Didn't you get the memo?

So I have a sort of haphazard blog today. It's really  more about what I was doing that 'kept me' from doing a normal blog post. First of all:::

FRIGGITY YAY!

Yes, that's me mixing a video. Woo! Tell you the truth, I've been kind of anxious about the idea of posting on YouTube again. The idea that stuff I make could just be out there for god knows how long is creepy. And sometimes I find them linked in other websites or see screenshots from the videos on Google. It gives me the wiggins. I get that I have created stuff and it's on the internet, but something about seeing them in places I didn't expect to makes the fact that I've put something into the public seem more real and, actually, kinda scary to me.

Not to mention I feel like a lot of my older videos are kind of crazy or crappy or just downright suck... it's kind of... eh. So not only am I aware that people actually see what I've done- people I don't even know- but they're seeing stuff I've done that sucks. XD

But... enough sounding all weird and emo. I put on my big girl panties and made another video. I'm just going to try to forge ahead and make things I'm proud of. *nod nod* As we speak, you can find my first of two new videos uploaded on YouTube! Yay, success!



We have an annual ornament making party at my house that I arranged last year (So it's actually only our second annual happening of it. It's kind of a tradition in infancy.) I made this totally sweet unicorn ornament.


Awwwr....


With FIRE coming out his bum.


By the way, did I say it was a unicorn? Cause I meant uni-COOL.

Yeah, it was inspired by Robot Unicorn Attack, the super magnificent Adult Swim game. I was trying to make it for my brother, but every time I make ornaments at the party, I end up spending all my time making them for other people and never getting around to ones for me. Take last year's zombie ornament that went to my brother-in-law::


Or the Batman ornament for my nephew::


So this year, the unicorn will be mine.


It's really chilly in Washington. I took Madame to the park, which we like doing back home, but now we load up on the cold weather gear. It's really cool being in colder weather for Yule-Mas this year. 




If anyone hasn't checked out the new YouTube video, it's for something I think is a really fun project: Bottle Brooches. I was trying to think of some projects people could do as last minute gift ideas that were budget friendly and could appeal to different levels of crafting experience. I hope I can do more than one video in that kind of category, but I have yet to see how that will go.



Go see the making of this on YouTube!  n..n


Have you done all your holiday shopping? Do you boycott shopping and have traditions besides gift-giving? Everybody who celebrates at this time of year does so differently. How do you? In my house, we say Santa and Gilly Claus (short for Gillian, which is what we named Santa's wife) run a workshop together and make handmade gifts. Thusly, Santa and Gilly always give just one hand-made gift. Not that we might not buy some other gifts, but we like the idea of keeping the focus on thinking of others and doing for them, rather than just spending for the sake of spending.

11.30.2010

Yulchristmahanakwanzakuh In A Box

Even though I'm not religious about Christmas, I was raised with the traditions and can't really picture a winter season without them. In my house, I guess you'd say we celebrate a combination of Christmas and Yule. (Yule-Mas, I'll just call it.) So this year I was counting on a big, classic Yule-Mas with the whole family. However, Husbie is a sailor and will be in and out of port so we planned to delay the celebrations. That was fine and good but everywhere I look in Blogland, I keep reading about advent calendars and it was making me regret that December 1st was coming around and there wouldn't be -anything- seasonal in my house.



December in Hawaii. How's your weather?

I'm not sure the history of advent calendars, but I love the idea of them and figured it would be an easy way to have something a little holiday-ish to tide me over until January. But here it is the day before and advent calendars aren't really a make-in-an-hour kind of project. So, being a little naughty, I decided to spoil us with a Playmobil advent calendar which are surprisingly affordable and pretty cute. (I admit a deep love for the oddly specific Playmobil designs, but have never owned any before now.)


It's going to be a store-bought (rather than handmade) Yule-Mas this December. XD



First thing I did is run, last minute, to the craft store. We don't have nearly as many craft stores where I live as I'm used to having, and the one that's nearby was incredibly picked over. Still, I managed to get the last mini tree and Flora hauled it from 'the fields' into the front door.


My haul was pretty simple. The plan was just to make a small layout for the advent calendar to add a little cheer. In my house, we were always real tree people, but in Hawaii, all of the real trees are shipped in in shipping containers across the ocean and it seems kind of wasteful to me so I've become (temporarily) a fake tree person so I can use it year after year. The secret is in lighting a pine candle. >.>


So it's not homemade... but I'm secretly stoked about the cheesy-rific awesomeness of that crazy fluffy garland! I also picked up some mini ornaments, some bead garland, and some little wood figures to make an angel with. I figured I should at least have -something- handmade. It's going to be cheeser all the way.




Cute holiday advent calendar from Playmobil! Have you ever had one of those or seen them before? It's 24 cubbies with a playmobil figurine in each. It comes with a matching landscape so you can build a themed setting over the course of the month. So excited about it. I also got some LED lights. I've never had any, so I'm stoked to check them out.
 
Dorky Retro-ish Fantastic Mr. Archangel::
(Or take it seriously and make something adorable.)
 
Supplies:
  • Wooden figures
  • Felt or cloth
  • Acrylic paint
  • Foil
  • Gold toned wire or metallic gold wired-edge ribbon
  • Decorative ribbon
  • Tacky glue
  • Opt: Dremel or power drill and bits

 
I've seen little figures like this all over the internet with cute, painted faces. They're really sweet, simple little dolls that I've seen made into everything from dollhouse toys to wedding toppers. They're usually very quirky-cute with delicate features. Their short, squat bodies lend well to the cartoony acrylic colors and make sort of Kawaii-Style cute finished products.
 
That's not what I'm doing with this angel. So be prepared.
 
Step One:: Drill/Cone
 
 
Mark the center of your doll with a pen and then drill a hole with a rotary tool, like a Dremel, or a power drill. If you don't have one or you want to do this project with kids, you could glue a piece of cardstock around the figure that extends the body in a little cone or cylindrical shape.
 

What you're looking for is a well in the bottom deep enough or a cone glued onto it so when you pop your archangel onto the tree it will, you know, stay there.

Step Two:: Paint



So, we pretty much love foxes. The advent calendar comes with foxes (yay!) and our favorite recent movie was The Fantastic Mr. Fox (It juuuuust migh be under the Yule-Mas tree this year... just saying...) and my husband and I played a game with a fox character in it so I've decided to dork out by making my angel an archangel fox for that little bit of WTFery needed to make this setting pop and make up for some of the store-boughtness effect it has going on.

I observed the little wooden doll aesthetic and decided that to get that cute, simple wooden doll look that's so popular, one should keep the features plain. Mouths should either be skipped or be just a line. Keep eyes low and wide spread. Blushy cheeks are sweet too. It's best to avoid painting too much detail. I think Mr. Archangel has kind of a nice face at this point. If I would just leave him well enough alone, he could be kind of adorable. But I won't leave him alone. He has to get odder.

Step Three:: Wings


By far my favorite part! My mom had these crazy little cherub ornaments from the early 50s that were a little kitschy and cool. They had totally fabu-silly foil wings on them and I had to do it on my angel.
 
Ideally, you'd want to use spray glue and layer heavy-duty tin foil until you got a thicker sheet, but I was in a hurry to surprise my honey before he got home from work so decided to freehand cut from a single sheet. It will display well enough.
 
Regardless of how many layers you choose to do if you make yourself some retro angel foil wings, to add some decoration, use a soft pencil in a slightly squishy surface like a sheet of foam, or maybe even a notepad and you'll get cool, decorative indentations. I detailed some sort of stylized feather patterns.
 
Step Four:: Decorate
 
 
I felt a mixture of humor and embarrassment at what I'd created. I opted for my cheap craft felt rather than my good wool felt. It even has some wild sparkle stuff plastered to it. I gave him a rocking tinfoil sword, and... yeah. If I'd made this with any intent other than irony, I'd expect to be turned into Regretsy for what happened here. It's a little bit cute in the face,  little bit retro in the tinfoil accessories, a little bit tacky garage sale cast off in the felt.
 
My husband loved it.
 
But don't get me wrong, I think this method could be used to produce a really cutesy angel. I'd just try to stick to high quality cloth, or maybe just paint entirely. Smaller wings and keeping the body short will make a more petite and sweet finished project. But, then again, if you have fun with it and it makes you laugh, maybe that's all that matters.
 
 
After putting up the lights and setting up the advent calendar's scenery stand, I really wanted to open up day one. ;...; Curses having to wait for tomorrow! It's all cheerful now, even if it's only on a few square feet out of the whole house.

I added some candles there because, at home, we would light a candle as a "snow candle" to wish for it to start snowing...


...Considering the back yard looks like this, I figured I'd need to light three snow candles to even get the temperature to drop a little.


Happy Winter Holidays/Yulchristmahanakwanzakuh/Athiest Non-Celebration/Shopping Season!

11.24.2010

Working at my new work table!

For anyone new to visiting my blog, welcome! I would love to have you. I update my blog with projects more often than I do my videos these days, so if you'd like to peek at little art projects, please click "Follow" or add me to your RSS reader feeds. : )

New readers, here are some of my favorite past posts:: 

Favorite homemade gift project
Favorite accomplishment (big tiered cake!) 
First ever doll customization

I currently update my blog once a week, every Tuesday, but I hope to increase the frequency in the long term. Please stop by again!


The Tsumami Kanzashi Business::
Breaking from the House Correction series for the holidays, I've decided to prioritize recording some more videos. You wouldn't believe how many e-mails I still get about my Tsumami Kanzashi video that was pulled down a long while back. Maya Kanzashi threw a copyright fit because I included two example photos of their products in my video. Even though I credited and linked to them, they still apparently would rather I not show their products. They were obviously not of the "oh well, free advertisement" crowd, but I guess that's their right. Subsequently, The Happy Peoples of the Intranets have proceded to send me friendly and encouraging letters to PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE make a new Kanzashi video.

My most recent e-mail was from a sweet gal named Tamekia who wanted to know how to do the petal fold. I told her I would make her a quick video to demonstrate the method. As I say in the video, I *will* make a complete, more detailed Kanzashi video soon. I'll record the footage before the holidays and take it with me on vacation and edit it once I get access to my video computer, so I hope to have it done by early to mid-December. Just in time for winter celebration gift-giving!



So, Tamekia, here is your visual response to how to make petal folds. I'll be able to include details about the twisty arrangement and your other examples in e-mail format.








The other business::
In my last post, I was busy prepping and creating a decent studio space to work in. I worked in it for the first time on a small bracelet resizing project!



In my spare time designing art jewelry, I recently decided to take up representing a commercial line as a distributor so I could provide both traditionally approachable pieces to compliment my art line of nature-inspired wire art. This cute little bracelet has lampwork, floral themed beads and some sweet crystals, but my customer wanted it a little larger than the manufacturing company created it.


In my new, clean, organized, SNAZZY studio space, I sat down with a bead tray and got to work. Believe it or not, I've never actually re-strung a bracelet before.



I thought that locating complimentary beads for the bracelet would be the hardest part, but actually I was able to find some easily. It was even easy to find matching divider beads. What was tricky was getting two strands of elastic cording through all of the beads! Needless to say, not exactly giddy and ground breaking fun...



But in the end, I think you'd probably never know this bracelet was sized up!



Because the bracelet fix was pretty simple and I was itching to keep testing out my new workspace, I decided to throw together a little headband for my daughter before we went to the shops. Normally, it's such a small project that I wouldn't have shown it, except given all the kanzashi business above, I think it's appropriate.


Eeek! Do you love it like I do? Très cute, isn't it? I found the original tsumami flower I made in my tutorial video in a little tin and decided to twist it onto a toddler headband along with one of my super coveted bira bira flutters that I'm super stingy with. I also used a scrap ribbon and a Hello Kitty hair tie I had sitting around for a cute, 60 second headband fix.


My studio pet, Cinnamoroll, wears it for you.


Thank you for stopping by- and hold tight. : ) I'll get your full Tsumami Kanzashi video for you soon. Thanks for being patient! Everyone feel welcome to leave me a hello comment if you like and let me know what kinds of arts you've been up to (or wanting to try!) the last few months!

11.23.2010

Eek! Notice. That's not "Eek... notice!" It's like... an Eek-notice. ... Never mind.

Last week I was a naughty biscuit. My husband's ship pulled back in port and all thoughts of a blog flew out the window. I was telling myself I should at least sit down and leave a note about it and then I promptly forgot! : D I also forgot what day it was today because I've had an acute case of Life Happening, so I do hope to sit down and record some video for a blog tomorrow and get it posted.

Thanks for understanding!

<3, M

11.09.2010

House Correction Series #2:: Studio Storage

After the not-so-tough challenge of just rearranging an area, I decided to bump myself up a half step to build some modular storage. I know, "That's not so tough," you're saying. And true, it's not. But I made a lot. Like... a lot. Seven storage pieces in total, plus I had to do a lot of cleaning and rearranging to even get to the point where I had somewhere to put them. So was it hard? Yeah, it kinda took me off an on all week between general life and a baby.

But still, SO worth it.


Studio Storage::

Difficulty: Moderate
Time: Fairly time consuming
Cost: 140$


The Mission::
 
Sad, right? What is it? It's useless. Functionless. Just a table-less storage cell for yard sale fodder boxes and a half-way filled out art supply storage shelf. It's even got a gate on it.
 
I had started this area a while back but I never finished because the workbench that this room needs to be finished and functional had been covered with books during a really wild rearrangement plan that obviously wasn't going to pan out and got abandoned. So that was the plan. Get a workspace going in here by bringing in an actual work surface and adding storage.
 
 
The Problem::
 
Getting the work bench into the new studio space meant getting the books off the bench top. But the closet shelving that used to be the book shelf has been completely junked up with a random collection of remaining books, fabric storage, and art supplies from when I thought that might be the new studio storage space, but then changed my mind. Now do you get why it's called House Correction... and it's a series? Because I'm apparently just that disorganized.
 
 
My bookshelves look like this. And, sadly, this is one of the neater shelves because the worst ones were a little too embarrassing to share. Who even uses VHS tapes anymore? Sorry, "Zenon: Girl of the 21st Century", if I want to watch you again, I'm pretty sure you'll be on YouTube. I think these will be yard saled...
 
 
 
The Process::

 Luckily, it's an easy enough fix. It just required lots of patience making a big pile on my floor, separating out the storage categories, thinning what was no longer desired, and replacing it in order.



The fabric is now more neatly folded and stored on a cart in the studio storage. That made room for...
 


The books. I went with the rainbow arrangement method, instead of the topic-based arrangement. Although it makes for some odd combos (Mrs. Beeton next to Mudras, Harry Potter, and Douglas Adams?)


The overall effect is incredibly satisfying to look at! I have this thing about rainbow. Even my underwear drawer gets the rainbow order treatment. Rainbow must be everywhere.



With my workbench cleared in the other room, I was able to break it down and move it into the kitchen/storage area. I use my old massage table, topped with a scrap of plywood that I was gifted from a friend, for my workbench and gave it a refresh with a new covering. A really useful work area with adjustable height, essentially for free! After that, I got started setting up my storage cubes and sorting out materials.
 
 
 
 
 Pictured: Two of the new cubes, painstakingly screwed together over the course of two days with many idly bored thoughts and cold cups of coffee.
 
 
The storage cubes I picked out had been things I'd eyed longingly at the local craft store for over a year. Cute, project specific, crisp looking, and way overpriced. Hawaii is already a cuss of a lot more expensive in general, but little storage bits like this seem unfairly priced to me in general. At nearly forty dollars per modular unit, I knew they were things I'd drool over, but never buy- Until they went on mega sale. I gladly paid only 20$ per unit for these storage boxes. Overall, it was a bit of an investment when you consider that I started loading my cart with them like I was on Supermarket Sweep, but when you know what you want, you know what you want.



There's so much space now...


So much... space. I don't even know what to do with it all!
 
 
 The towers even have a bajillion (no, really. I counted.) little twist top containers to hold all my bits and bobs like abandoned rhinestone bracelets for whatever use rears its head,


to the obligatory little gears and watch bits every studio should be stocked with.
 
 

Completion::
 
 
The new table top is so much more pleasant to work at. Nice and tidy, plenty of room for materials and teacups teaboats. Storage cubes fit under the work bench, filing storage is on the right wall, general art storage on the left... though I'll withhold any pictures there until I have it all filled and properly organized.



Are you someone who literally relaxes at the sight of order? I am. I've been working on the haphazardly cleared corner of a cluttered workbench for the past few months. Seeing this comparatively vast and ordered space just makes me want to sit down and make something totally sweet and not get up for hours. I love order. Love it. The day I shut the door on the final closet I have to organize, I'll probably sit down and cry with joy.



Final Thoughts::

I'm so happy. I think I'll love it even more when everything is neatly stored away in the cubbies and shelves and I remove all the boxes of yard sale merchandise. (Maybe suck it up and actually HAVE the yard sale... I need to finance the fence I want to put up somehow...) I have a few more things I'd like to do, like finish a painting for the wall in there that I started, maybe get a little blue rug, and I'd love to get some room color in there. Especially with lace! However, overall, I couldn't be more pleased. It's been a real joy seeing things finally start to unfold. Even Nico is getting in on the spirit of tidying, decluttering, and establishing storage. It's been hard work so far, but probably been my most personally satisfying project in a long time.
 
 
Do you have any rooms in your house that need a storage overhaul? Have any storage or organizing tips?
 
 
 

BONUS::

Did you notice how this...


Kind of looks like this? ::


When I was assembling the storage units, I noticed how very kitchen-like they looked. I'm a maniac for play kitchens. I think because, when I was a very young girl, I had ridiculous asthma and was hospitalized for a long while. The hospital had a rocking play kitchen and it was my favorite part of the day when I got wheeled down to the play room and could play with it. I've pretty much been looking forward to using my kid as an excuse to load up on toy kitchen goods before I even got pregnant. The time is nearing... oh yes... I see adorable Haba mushrooms and strawberries jangling in those hanging containers and a modified side cube as a sink/washing machine... I think I needs a jig saw for Christmas. I'm going to hack the crap out of these storage units. (Now you see why I bought seven? Some for me, some to share!)