Friday, September 8, 2017

Big Ideas

I found this nifty book (at Walgreens, of all places):

From C. R. Gibson; measures 7 1/4 x 10 1/4.
I don't see it on their website, may be a Walgreens thing only.

It's a journal of sorts, where you can note down your ideas, keep them organized. I had been looking for something like this for ages, something like a calendar, but undated, not quite a journal... basically this thing is exactly what I wanted. It's a place to put all my projects, and give myself a sort of deadline (where possible) for completion.

It seems to be helping? I've only noted 7 Ideas so far, but it's motivated me to seriously work on 3 of them. Maybe having them on paper instead of just in my head makes them more real. These are things that are not appropriate for a "to-do" list, things I can't accomplish in even a single weekend -- long-term projects that will take time to complete.

One of the things I wanted to work on was a ton of unframed art I'd picked up from conventions and other places. And the longer it stays out of a frame, the better the chance it will get damaged. I didn't even know much I really had until I gathered it all in one place! (It was a ton.) But once I had it gathered up, I could measure everything and make a list of frame/mat sizes I needed, and hit Goodwill. Lucky for me, Michael's was having a BOGO sale on frames, too, and I was able to get some bigger and odd sizes from them and nearly finish that project in a single week. There's a few more things left to go, but I managed to get so much framed and hung on the walls, and this was part of the catalyst that did it.

Some of the projects need to be done before other things can be done. I really need to make risers for my action figures (so the ones in the middle and back are visible), before I unbox any more, and before I can drill holes to add the "fence" in the center shelves. Making those probably won't take a lot of time, but it is an expense (lumber), plus the PITA of pulling out the table saw to cut everything to the right size. And I have to measure the shelves to make sure I know what size I need to make them. (Which I should go do, since I'm thinking about it...)

I'm trying to be realistic about my timelines for completion on all of the things I've written down. I have a lot of interruptions and I can't just dedicate huge blocks of time to things, because my life (and my brain) won't let me. But the next time I'm itching for something to do because I'm stuck somewhere else, I can grab this book and pick something that needs to be done. It's nice because it means that my jumping bean thoughts can easily pick up the threads of another project if I need to set another one down. It's not the most efficient way to get something done, but the only one enforcing the deadlines is me. (And having them written down with a time frame helps me stick to those, too.)

What I really need is Calvin's Duplicator box, so I can work on several things at once, but you know how that turned out for him...

Friday, May 5, 2017

Stealth Sailor Moon Formal

I have been wanting to make a galaxy-inspired Sailor Moon dress for ages. This isn't a dress, but it's close.

I foolishly did not take before/during/after photos of this project because I was in a bit of a rush to get it completed before ACEN. (And frankly because today has been chaotic.)

I started with a long formal skirt and sleeveless blouse, both black polyester, that I found at a thrift store. I think both pieces together cost $10. I bought Krylon spray paint (gloss) in Rich Plum, Ocean Blue and Hot Pink, and already had part of a can of Rust-Oleum French Lilac (satin).The pink and blue are both Short Cuts (little cans, 3oz.) and I have some left over. The purple wasn't available in a little can (at the Joann's where I bought it) so it's a full-size can.

I am fortunate enough to have a dressmaker's mannequin, and I covered it with plastic bags so as not to get paint on it.The skirt has a lining, and I didn't want to get paint on the lining, so I cut the bottom off a bag and pinned the plastic tube inside the skirt to keep paint from getting on the second layer of fabric. Because this is a long skirt, I had to pin it to the shoulders of the mannequin to keep it off the floor and make it easier to work on.

I used sticker paper, and printed out the Sailor Moon planetary symbols (nine of them, times two, one set for each garment), and cut them out with the intention of using the stickers as masks to keep black areas in the paint. They did not stick well to the polyester, so I ended up pinning them to the fabric after all. The skirt was made up of 8 gores, so each section but one has a single symbol in it. I doubled up Uranus and Neptune. They are not all perfectly aligned, they are not all in a line/horizontal, but they are roughly centered in each gore. (This was my personal design choice.)

I was concerned that the purple wouldn't show up well on the black, so I laid down some of the pale lavender first, over each of the symbols, and randomly over the bottom 2/3 of the skirt. I was working outside in the garage with the door open, and the breeze kept my paint from being precise; I don't consider that a bad thing. Then the purple, then the blue (which was much brighter than I expected on the black), then the pink which toned down the blue, then I went in with a little more purple in some places where the blue was still too bright. I tried to keep the paint can strokes moving in crescents, no straight lines at all, and interlocking them (like 2 Cs hooked together). I stopped often, and stood back to look at it -- remember, you can add more paint, but you can't take it off once it's on!

Once I was satisfied with it, I got my stiff stencil brush (you can use an old toothbrush) and white acrylic paint, and spattered on "stars" using my thumb on the bristles. A little paint on the tips will make little stars, a lot of paint will make larger spatter and streaks -- practice on paper if you're not sure how it's going to look. Again, once it's on, it doesn't come off! Go slow, step back often, and stop when you're satisfied with the look.

You can kinda see the plastic bag
between the skirt and the liner.

I didn't remove the masks until the paint was dry, and saw that the masks were far from perfect. Still awesome, though!

I moved the skirt to a hanger and put the blouse on the mannequin and repeated the whole thing. I also had to cover a brooch on the blouse (with painter's tape) because I didn't want to get any paint on it.

The blouse was a different weight of polyester than the skirt, and it took the paint a little differently. The colors aren't quite as bright, but I didn't want to use too much paint and make the fabric really stiff. This is paint, not dye, it's definitely making the fabric stiffer. That's something to consider when you try this.

Painter's tape covering the brooch.

The hardest part about this was getting the symbols pinned on. Without those, it would have gone even faster. As it was, this was a morning's work to complete. I could wear this tonight, if I had an event to wear it to. The paint dries very quickly.

Both of the pieces I painted are Dry Clean Only. I don't know how well this technique would hold up to washing, I don't know how well it would hold up to dry cleaning... When I have to answer that question I'll update here.

I'm really pleased with how it turned out. I love the cloudy look of the nebulae, all the stars, and how the Sailor Moon symbols are there, but are kinda stealthy about it. And I love that it was easy to do, and took me less than a day to complete. Quick projects always make you feel like you got something done, right?

Both pieces, with the masks removed, ready for a night out.

I hope my process is relatively clear. I wish I'd taken more photos. (It really has been a day...) I'd like to do another skirt, a shorter one (long skirts aren't practical for everyday), and if I do, I'll amend this with more photos.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Overwhelmed by Projects

There are days that I think it might be cool to have Calvin's Duplicator. Then I remember how well that turned out, and rethink things. But I do worry that the only way I'll ever get all my stuff done is through duplicates, or clones, and if you've ever picked up a comic book in your life, you know that clones are bad news. (And are a very tired trope used for lagging sales, and the buying public is largely sick of them. But I digress...)

I managed to get a lot of my projects organized in a previous fit of decluttering. But since I can't stop my brain from thinking of new things to do, I acquire the stuff to make more. (So no more of that for a while, because it's really out of hand.)

I was advised to make a calendar, a planner, and use that to schedule time to work on things and then hold myself accountable for that time. If Life happens on Wednesday and I can't work on X, then I have to reschedule that hour of time (or two, whatever) somewhere else, until the thing is completed. Thus working my way through the huge number of accumulated materials and ideas, so that I can start all over again... but hopefully with a healthier system in place for dealing with them.

I tried looking on Amazon (after looking at Office Depot) for an undated planner, and didn't find anything suitable. Everything was not quite right, and there were so many choices for "not quite right"! I was as overwhelmed by the options for organizing my projects as I was by the projects themselves!

My husband suggested using an app (duh, why didn't I think of that?) and Trello was one of the first things that came up as a top-rated organizational tool, and it was one I already had downloaded. Unfortunately, I don't find it to be that intuitive. Maybe it's me? Which is why I had forgotten I'd downloaded it in the first place, and never really used it. On the other hand, having something I could snap pics with, and save those pics to the app easily (as opposed to printing out photos and fixing them to a paper organizer) seems so much smarter, and less likely to get shuffled into a pile and lost. So I either need to better acquaint myself with Trello, or find something I like better. Soon.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Fempunk Jacket

I found a tote bag in artist Stephanie Buscema's etsy shop nearly 3 years ago, and contacted her about whether or not she thought it could be used as a patch on a jacket. She didn't know why not so I got it, and started looking for the right jacket to put it on. Naturally, when you're in thrift shops looking for something specific, you look forever to find it...

About a year later, I did find a jacket I liked, faux leather sleeves and an asymmetrical moto-style zip front, but the body was a woven material that looked like it would be easy to sew. The tote and the jacket sat in the basement while I collected ideas in my head and on Pinterest, with no particular urgency to get it completed.

Then the 2016 election cycle occurred.

The misogyny that had been festering in this country boiled over, and Cheeto Nero is president (at least until he's impeached) and then there's a whole line of misogynists waiting to take his place when he is.

I made 32 hats in a single day for the Women's March on Washington, and sent them off with gratitude for local women who were attending the march. I was unable to go to that, or any of the sister marches because of commitments I couldn't hand off to someone else. But even with my crowd-terror, I wanted to be there, so badly.

I had my inspiration for my jacket.

I'd been re-making pins using old pins (AKA buttons, pinbacks) that I'd collected from high school and working in the bookstore years ago. I found this awesome blog post with a great tutorial that walks you through revamping those old buttons, so I already had a start on that, and I had a gift certificate that I'd spent on studs and spikes (for winning a contest for my female action figures), I just had to make a few of the iron-on patches, and get everything sewn on, and studded.

This is not a work-in-progress post. This is a 99% complete post (I have a few more pins to make and a wrecking ball to finish). That said, I can tell you how I did what...

Large center patch ("The Vixens!") is Stephanie Buscema's deconstructed tote bag.
Pins are text of the 1st and 4th Amendments and a reminder that you don't have
to give police your phone to search without a warrant.


Top: English WWII propaganda poster, Photoshopped with new wording by me.
Iron-on inkjet paper, on muslin, fused to another piece of muslin.
Center: Embroidery on floral cotton. Fused with interfacing.

Center: American WWII propaganda poster, Photoshopped with new wording by me.
Done the same way as the one above.
Bottom: Painted floral cotton. Used letter stickers as a mask for the words. Fused with interfacing.

Top: Soviet WWII propaganda poster, Photoshopped with new wording by me.
Done the same way as the two above.
Bottom: Center: Embroidery on floral cotton. Fused with interfacing.

Side view. Spikes on the sleeve are 1/2" long. The shoulders have a
combination of pink flat cone studs and red acrylic rhinestones.
The collar also has rhinestones.


Inspired by Kelly Sue DeConnick and Valentine De Landro's Bitch Planet, the "nc" is
#non-compliant, embroidery on floral cotton, fused with interfacing.
Hard to see because of some glare, but the left button is Kris Anka's "angry" Dazzler with the words
"current mood" (clipped from old books), the right one are the heroines from 9 to 5, with the words
"are you a woman or a wouse?"

Nellie Bly; and the Human Rights Campaign equals sign, with my added text;
paint on cotton, fused with interfacing.

More buttons, from Angela Davis, to the Notorious RBG, to Malala Yousafzai.

The placket opens to reveal a surprise...

I'm really not a huge fan of pink, but I think in this application, as with
the Pussyhat Campaign, it's a little subversive, plus it goes with
Buscema's patch. The contrast with the black is awesome.
That line is from "One Girl Revolution," by Saving Jane.

With the collar folded back, and the jacket worn open,
"REVOLUTION" is still visible.

Intersectional Rosies, Glow Shark, Vagenda of Manocide,
Gloria Steinem and Julia Child... along with "delicate flower" (Datura)
I still have several pins to complete (and another ink cartridge to buy) and there's empty space for them, so the placement here is probably not final. I also have a wrecking ball that I am making from a small plastic xmas ornament that will read SMASH THE PATRIARCHY! and hang from one shoulder when finished.

The pins I've made are a combination of Photoshop wizardry and fancy paper from my stash, plus a cache of old stripped books I've had for years (back when I used to work at the bookstore).

Also in the works, a similar sort of thing but nerdier. As I started making pins, and sorting the ones I already had, I realized that I had two very different "themes" in front of me that weren't cohesive. This jacket is unapologetically angry. Because I am angry. But I also recognize that it's not healthy to be angry every waking moment (or this year will kill me), so I need to have a little fun, and make another "punk" jacket or vest on the lighter side, for the geek stuff. So now I have to find another jacket... hopefully it won't take a year+ to do so...

Vive la résistance!

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Trying (AGAIN!) to Get Organized

It's impossible to work on projects when you can't find anything. When all the components are somewhere in this mess but you can't find them anywhere. When you know you have that thing but damned if you can figure out where it's gotten to. Lately I've really been missing sewing, and it's hard since my patterns were really disorganized and my fabric stash was a mess. The last few days I've been working on getting that better organized. Hancock Fabrics had pattern boxes on clearance (interestingly, they more or less match the hat boxes I bought from them on clearance a couple years ago), so I bought a bunch of them to organize my pattern library. It's not huge by any definition, but I left myself room to expand as my ability increases. So now I can lay hands on patterns quickly and easily, and ok, fine, but that still meant my fabric stash was a horrid mess. I didn't even know what all I had, since some of it was given to me by Mom, and some of it I'd had for ages.

I decided the most sensible thing was to sort out the things I knew I had projects for first. This fabric is to be made with this pattern (with a slip of paper with the pattern number and intended view), etc. etc... I have a bin-full of skirts and hats and a bag (with a matching hat). I'm not even sure how many; I didn't count, and honestly, I'm a little afraid to. The bag on top is material for a skirt for my daughter. Not in the bin are bags with fabric to make a skirt for a friend of mine, and two more for me. I have to remeasure her, and myself, since we've both lost weight, and I want to make sure they fit properly!


In addition to all of that well-intentioned and organized insanity, I also went through the bins of fabric under the basement stairs, so I could get a better handle on what I had, so I knew what I could play with once I finished the projects in the bin. [insert hysterical laughter here] I decided to sort by color, and grabbed a bunch of empty milk crates (they were handy) and lined them up on the floor and started sorting things into them. I quickly realized I had way more purple than would fit into a crate, so I dumped out a large bin and put the purple fabric in that, and pink soon followed. (I was astounded at the volume of pink fabric I had, truly!) Once I got the colors sorted, I started sorting within the color by fabric type, into gallon-sized zip-top bags, e.g.: sheer fabrics, satins, lining fabrics, velveteen, velour/stretch velvet, cotton, etc. So if I want purple velveteen, I can find purple velveteen. I only managed to finish this with the purple, not yet with the pink. I ran out of good storage options for the other colors, so I'm not sure what I'm going to do next, other than watch the sale ads and see who wants to sell me exactly what I want the cheapest. I did managed to separate out a bunch of small-patterned and juvenile cotton prints to use for doll clothes, and put those in a a drawer neatly labeled "Fabric for Doll Clothes."

* * *

I can't remember writing a specific post about my sketchbook, and looking back through old posts, don't find one now... Anyway, a while back, I had the idea that if I used a sketchbook and sort of "downloaded" my brain onto those pages, I'd sleep better, because the ideas would be out of my head and on paper. It only sort of worked. Putting down an idea that's nagging me leaves room for new ones, so some nights I still don't sleep well. I've had to get out of bed to find paper, prompting my husband to suggest leaving a sketchpad by the bed.  I had to draw a hat idea on a paper napkin in the car because I couldn't find paper and I had to sketch it right now, which led to us going on a quest to find a small sketchpad I can carry on my person at all times.

Also? I hate sketching with a pen.

With my reawakened millinery passion, I thought it might make more sense if I kept a separate sketchbook with hat stuff in there. That way I could also include images that inspire me, so that when I'm not in front of my computer (it happens, occasionally), I still have those visuals. I also included a little pocket with images of all the hat patterns I have so that I can reference those easily when I'm sketching or looking for design ideas.

I have transferred the hat ideas from my "main" sketchbook to the hats sketchbook, and have started adding new ideas. I haven't added the napkin sketch; I'm pretty sure I can do a better job with pencil and a decent reference photo.

The good news is, that even if I complete all my projects in that bin (yeeeaaahhhh... that's gonna happen soon), I have plenty of fabric and ideas to keep me busy for the foreseeable future. All my husband has to do is throw some food down in the basement once in a while, and I'll be fine.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Creative Drought

It's been a wretched several months. Various issues cropped up in my life, and those things spelled stress and a general creative drought that's lead to me staring at Sherlock Hemlock with distaste and loathing.

Here we are in December. Once again, my daughter is expecting "Santa" (who she knows very well is me) to come through with all that she wants in the world. Of course she doesn't want any of the Sesame Street bands I already have cut out and ready to sew, that she asked for last year! She wants Colambo and Ovejita, characters who will require new pieces drafted, and a nickel-sized fedora made for Colambo! [That dull thumping sound is me, pounding my head on the wall.] So why is Sherlock the focus of my loathing? He is going to be my basic model as I draft the pattern pieces I need for Colambo's trenchcoat. I have to get the pieces drafted, and get him back in The Kid's room before she gets home from school and realizes I've been messing with her stuff. Good grief, I hate Christmas...

With that same breath, I want to make sepia-toned ornaments for a wall tree. Making ornaments is my favorite part of the holiday, now; small works of art that don't take a lot of time (usually). And now I don't even have time for that. Perhaps after the madness of this holiday, I can do something for next year.

I'm also dying to get back to my hatmaking. I found some more great thrifted fabric that I can't wait to start working with, and I want to sew another skirt soon, but I need to take in my others before I sew new ones. (Hats are nice, hardly ever have to worry about the size of your hatband changing.)

Monday, April 21, 2014

Faking It

Faking It is a novel by Jennifer Crusie, and one of my favorite books. Because it's hilarious, I like to read it when I'm down, but then it sort of makes me feel worse. The main character, Tilda, while in some fairly dire straits, is an artist. One of the things she did when she was young was paint second-hand furniture with outlandish colors and silly animals. She also did 6 paintings, and reading the author's description of them (and the furniture) makes me want to paint like that, too. Except I just can't, and that makes me frustrated and sad. Frustrated enough to consider taking a painting class at a local junior college. To try to learn the skills needed to paint something created in someone else's imagination. Ugh.

And then the title hits me again. Faking it. I feel like I spend a lot of time doing that. (sigh)