3.02.2009

About the New Layout (plus some crochet)

Okay! I’m finally sitting down to write an update post. I’ve been holding off on posting here until I was done with the new layout. I’m going to have to break this into several posts so I don’t go crazy. First, here’s the story behind the new blog look.

I’m redoing my portfolio, and one of the items on my to-do list is creating custom layouts for my blogs under my new name: Lopapalooza Studios. For my sewing and crafting blog, I am now using the name Lopapalooza Creative Fingers. The old name, “Diary of a Sewing Novice,” doesn’t really apply anymore. Not only am I no longer a novice (hooray!), but I’m focusing on more than just sewing.

For the layout, I wanted something that incorporates both sewing and crafts with muted colors and a bit of classic charm. And of course, I couldn’t resist including my lop logo! The site should be viewable on most browsers and versions, although it will look best on newer browsers. The text is also resizable.

I used brushes and patterns from Obsidian Dawn.

I am still very much into crochet, with the occasional bit of practice knitting. Crochet has become a major focus for me, and the best place to follow my recent progress is my Ravelry page. I encourage anyone who is interested in knitting and/or crochet, even if you don’t feel like you’re very good yet and even if you don’t have any completed projects, to sign up. The number of resources on there are just amazing, including the pattern search and all the groups. At the time of this writing, you need to sign up for an invitation, and it’ll take a few days to get it, but it’s worth it.

For those who aren’t on Ravelry, here are links to my latest completed projects. I’ll go more in-depth on these in following posts:

More to come soon!

2.27.2009

A New Layout!

As you may have noticed, I created a new layout for the blog. I still have some issues to work out, so if any of the posts look funny, just be patient…

Stay tuned for more!

12.11.2008

Yet another big update post

Wow, has it been over six months since I posted? I really have to get better about this. It’s not that I haven’t been working on sewing and other crafts — I totally have. At least I have that to say for myself.

Anyway, I recently upgraded my Flickr account to pro, so I’m going to try something new: storing my project images on Flickr and linking to them there. Obviously I won’t be storing all of my images on Flickr — just the main project ones. Hopefully I won’t have too many technical difficulties.

So what have I done since the last time I posted?

Well, I finished my bunny shirt — the shorter version of the dress (Simplicity 3867) from my last post.

Bunny shirt front
Bunny shirt side

The chest looks kind of collapsed on the dress form, but that’s because I didn’t provide the form with the proper…support before I put the dress on it. It looks better on the real thing (me).

Then in September, I was crazy enough to sew up a Renfest costume in one week. I used Simplicity 9966 and sewed just the shirt and the over- and underskirts. I’m glad I was smart enough to use a bodice I already owned — I just barely finished the three pieces on time.

Full costume (sort of)
Skirts
Neckline detail
Sleeve cuff detail
Skirt trim detail
Skirt clasp detail
Skirt serging/hem detail
Shirt seam detail

I’m proud of how it turned out, especially since the blouse was made out of such challenging material. I used voile, which was so wispy I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to sew it. Also, I had to adapt the sleeve pattern since the fabric wasn’t wide enough to accommodate it — the fabric was 36″ wide instead of the 45″ the pattern required. Since the fabric was so sheer, I used French seams throughout. I also finished the inside of both the skirts, just for that professional touch. I probably would have been finished in half the time if I hadn’t put so much effort into serging and whatnot. My only issue with the final costume was the skirt waist — I didn’t make the elastic tight enough. I guess that’s the problem with having a dress form with a bigger waist than my own.

At the end of July/beginning of August, I went to a 3-day fashion design course, which was awesome! I learned a lot about the design process, and I have some ideas for a future custom wardrobe.

Then there’s my new hobby — crochet. I posted some pictures of my beginning amigurumi. Since then, I’ve made quite a few projects. If you’re a member of Ravelry, you can see my project page here. Otherwise, here are some pictures of my most recent projects:

Amigurumi cornucopia
Short ‘n’ Sweet bolero
Camouflage wristwarmers
One-skein scarf

There are a few more projects I haven’t yet photographed. I’m really getting into this whole crochet thing. I added a bunch of crochet books to my Amazon wishlist. Knitting books, too! That’s just what I need — a new hobby.

I also crocheted up a couple of cactus amigurumi for John, but of course I forgot to take pictures of them before I sent them to work with John. Whoops!

I’m currently working on a complete site overhaul, including a redesign of this blog. This may take me some time, but stay tuned!

5.30.2008

Massively huge update

Thanks to my friend Mary, the most productive sew-er and crafter I know, I’ve had a renewed interest in, well, sewing and crafting. During the last several months, I’ve started and finished a number of projects. While I’d like to say I’ve recovered from my procrastinating ways, the truth is that I still have roughly a million unfinished projects around my sewing room. Oh well!

Here’s an overview of what I’ve been working on — complete with pictures!

First, there’s my most recent project, which has been on my to-do list for over four years: a custom dress form! I don’t recall if I mentioned this in a previous post, but the last attempt at a custom dress form didn’t go so well. It involves taping me tightly with duct tape, and as I learned the hard way, I pass out when my entire torso is wrapped up. It makes me all claustrophobic and stuff. I paid for an online class after this fiasco — this was almost exactly four years ago. This particular taping system leaves the tummy and chest untaped until the end. I guess I didn’t have any real reason for putting off making a dress form for so long, but I recently discovered that I couldn’t go without one any longer. So I enlisted the help of John and Mary to tape me. Last weekend was the scheduled taping date.

This time, the taping went much better. Until the end. As soon as the tape started going up my neck, I suddenly got that familiar clammy, hyperventilating feeling. Luckily, the form was pretty much done by then, but it definitely was not my finest moment there at the end. I’ll just skip over the details.

The good news is that I now have an almost-completed form. I just need to double-check the stuffing, tape up the back, make a cardboard bottom, and make a cover.

The bad news is that the form isn’t as exact as it could be. It’s about an inch larger than my actual circumference measurements at the waist and hips. And…well, let’s just lay that taping during severe PMS and directly following a large meal is not advised when you want an accurate dress form in the stomach area. The belly protrudes out about two inches further than my actual measurements. As John pointed out, at least I’ll be able to eat large meals and breathe easily in whatever clothes I make.

Here are the pictures of the form so far:

Front view
Back view
Side view

I can take some comfort in knowing that that’s as pregnant as my body will ever look. :P

Next we have some items that I finished in April, but didn’t have a spiffy dress form to put them on. The first is the last of three tiered skirts that I bought material for over a year ago. This one was a particularly tricky polyester material that did not want to stay on grain. Luckily, the fabric design, color, and nature of the skirt pattern helped cover up my off-grain cutting. I painstakingly hand-hemmed the skirt to prevent the problems I had with the other two.

Flowered skirt

I bought some material at CraftyPlanet and sewed up Simplicity 3867. I made a test garment from muslin first, and to my great surprise, the pattern fit without any alterations. Which is good, because I didn’t have the dress form when I made it. The dress includes pleats at the front shoulder and the skirt. The bodice is lined, and although the pattern instructions have the raw edge of the zipper tape exposed (sewn on top of the lining), I changed the instructions to cover the raw edge of the zipper with the lining. I also finished the inside edges with my serger. I used an invisible zipper instead of a regular zipper (and changed the pattern instructions accordingly) and did a hand hem. I’m finding that I get much better results when hemming by hand, even though it takes a lot longer.

Front view
Back view
Bodice
Back closed with invisible zipper
Lining stitched to zipper
Hand hem and finished inside

The pattern also includes an option for a shirt version, which I’m currently working on. Here is a close-up of the material (it has bunnies!) and lining:

Bunny shirt bodice

Sewing isn’t the only thing I’ve been up to. I bought some earring kits at The Bead Monkey. I put them together last month. One goes with the mauve tiered skirt I sewed a year ago and the other goes with my summer dress.

Mauve chandelier earring
Blue-green waterfall earring

Last but not least, I was inspired by a recent post on the CraftStylish blog and decided to try my hand at Amigurumi. I picked up this book and learned some basic crochet stitches. Having never crocheted before, I’m very, very bad at it, but I still completed a couple of small pieces from the book. I’ll post them here for amusement value.

Egg — my very first attempt at this
Chick in an eggshell — this one is a little better

Whew! That’s quite a lot of stuff. I also finished the bunny decoration for Mary, but stupidly forgot to take pictures of it. Derp!

More updates to come! For real!

1.19.2008

Lots of sewing!

I’ve been a busy sewer lately! I made another laptop sleeve, this one for John’s mom. I made it out of a canvasy home dec fabric instead of corduroy this time. Hopefully it will hold up as well as mine has.

I also finished the bunny that I was making for my friend Mary — I posted pictures of the work in progress on here a while back. Now I’m sewing the mitten that velcros onto the bunny.

I bought myself this totally awesome book. When I’m finished with my pending projects, I’m going to make some of these as gifts. I love weird stuffed animals!

And last but not least, the beaded ornament pictures I promised. Once again, excuse the terrible flash — these were taken with my point and shoot camera:

Beaded Ornament
Beaded Ornament (close-up)

Oh, and I got a new Rowenta Advancer iron! It’s about a million times better than my old one!

12.15.2007

Laptop Case

Whew! I may be the laziest blogger ever, but I have been sewing. I only have one completed project to share, but it’s one that I’ve used a lot. When I went to Photoshop World at the beginning of September, I needed a laptop sleeve. I decided that instead of spending $35+ on one at the Mac store, I’d look for a pattern and make my own. So I did! I had enough JoAnn’s gift cards that I didn’t even have to pay for the fabric!

I used Simplicity 3889, view B. The outside is burgundy corduroy with a lop-shaped corduroy applique. The inside is olive green polar fleece. There is also polyester batting, craft foam, and muslin on the inside.

Here is a collage of different views:

I hand sewed the inside binding, which took a long time but looks a lot better than if I tried to sew it on the machine (because of the thickness of the edge).

For the record, the lop applique fabric already had the embroidery on it. That’s the first question most people have — did I do the embroidery myself? Obviously, no.

The laptop sleeve has been through a lot of abuse, spending many hours inside my backpack, and it has held up amazingly well. Plus, it fits my Macbook perfectly!

Now I just need to keep working on my sloper patterns…

3.24.2007

Endless Pattern Drafting

I can’t figure this one out, unless it had to do with extreme fabric distortion. But when I sewed up Version 2.0 of my bodice sloper, the armholes didn’t fit at all. This is the pattern I traced directly from the altered sloper that I was wearing, so you would think, if there was anything logical about this whole sewing thing, that sewing another one from that pattern would fit. I was wearing a thicker bra when I tried the second sloper on, but I don’t think that would really explain it.

It doesn’t matter because I opened the armholes way up (and let out the side seams at the chest level, which will hopefully accommodate the thicker bra) and traced a new version.

I drafted some sleeves from the original Version 2.0 sloper measurements, and had some really weird discrepancies. With the new measurements from the armholes that actually FIT, the sleeve measurements worked out almost perfectly. So I have high hopes that the sleeves might have a chance in hell of fitting when I sew them.

So it doesn’t make much sense for me to post my original bodice sloper images that I promised. I’ll have to take pictures of the new versions.

I sewed up the skirt sloper with minimal issues, thank god. Someday soon I hope to be able to design and sew things (and alter existing patterns!) that actually fit.

I did finish the mauve satin skirt. Like I said in the last post, the fabric was much harder to work with. Overall, the skirt is fine, but the hem — how to put this politely? — sucks. Next time I work with this type of fabric I’m either going to hand-sew and/or roll a narrower hem and/or use some kind of basting tape. When I’m feeling less lazy, I’ll set up the tripod so that I can get a picture of me wearing the skirt. I don’t have a dressform, and for some reason throwing the skirt over the back of a chair doesn’t make for fine photography.

I know this is technically my sewing blog, but I’d also like to post pictures of other craft projects as well. I finished a beaded ornament that I’ve been working on for YEARS. No, it wasn’t so complicated that it took me years to finish. To make a long story short, I messed something up and I really didn’t feel like redoing it, so I procrastinated like crazy. The sad part is, it was a gift for my mom. A gift that was a few years late. I’m so proud.

Stay tuned for pictures, hopefully before the end of the year.

2.03.2007

Catching up…

I need to find those bodice pattern and skirt prototype images I promised. They’re somewhere on my other computer, and I’m way too comfortable to get up and search for them right now.

But I do have some new images of a tiered skirt I made somewhat recently. This pattern was drafted from some instructions in an issue of Threads magazine. Although it was supposed to be one of those “make it in two hours!!!” patterns, it took me much, much longer than two hours to make the first one. And so far I put at least two hours into the second one as well. I admit, I like finishing things off nice and neat, and I’m sure it would have saved me some time not to serge the seams and finish the waist and hem, but I like making the finished details. It still would’ve taken me over two hours, even without those finishing touches.

The skirt pattern consists of four rectangles, each based on the widest measurement below the waist. For me this is right at my thighs — I’m kind of oddly shaped. There’s lots of gathering involved for each tier of the skirt — the biggest challenge was getting the gathers distributed evenly.

So without further ado, the pictures!

Me in the fish skirt.

The material I used on this one was a cotton batik. It wasn’t particularly difficult to work with, but I did have to draft a special version of the pattern because of the material. The width was 45″ rather than 60″, and I wanted the fish to be oriented horizontally. Since this would not allow for the bottom tier to be cut out in two pieces (one for the front, one for the back), I had to divide it up. I didn’t want the seam to be right in the front, so I divided the front and back into thirds and added the necessary seams. Plus, I had to add special notches in the third tier in order to line up the fourth tier properly.

Although, like I mentioned before, the instructions called for unfinished seams (and waist, and hem), I finished all inner seams with the serger. I also finished the hem and waist with no raw edges. The only issue I ran into by doing this was that I didn’t allow for a wide enough waist casing and ended up using a narrower elastic. This doesn’t stay up as well as the wider elastic would.

Here are some details on the inside of the skirt:

Hem
Inner construction
Waist

I have material for two more of these skirts, and I’ve started on the second one. For this one, I drafted a new fourth tier, since the material is 60″ and I can cut the tier in two pieces.

The second skirt material is this beautiful mauve washable satin. I’ve never worked with any sort of satin before, so I can’t say how similar this is to “regular” satin. But it’s very tricky to work with. For one thing, it seems to snag easily — there are spots that look almost like runs. I think these must have gotten scratched by the pins or something. Another tricky feature is that the fabric is much more flexible than the cotton batik — it distorts much more easily. I also noticed, when sewing a test scrap, that when I put any stress on the seam that it will nearly pull apart on its own. I’m not sure how to deal with this type of thing — I haven’t worked with unstable (or somewhat unstable) fabric before. The good news is that there won’t be any stress on these seams — it’s a loose fitting skirt.

I did have to work with my serger to come up with a decent setting for this fabric. Because of its instability, it likes to get scalloped edges. I raised the differential feed setting, which seems to help (except at the end of the seam), and I also had to loosen the needle tension to avoid puckers.

I haven’t gotten much further than cutting out the pieces on this one, but I have a picture of the fabric. My little camera won’t take a picture that will do this fabric justice, but this will give you somewhat of an idea:

Mauve skirt material

I don’t know how well this fabric will hold up, since just pinning and cutting seemed to cause problems, but it’s so pretty I hope it won’t get destroyed after two wearings.

Anyway, I’ll see if I can find those other images I meant to post…

8.09.2006

Sewing room cleaning and bunny hanger

I really have no excuse for not updating in the last eight months. It hasn’t been for lack of projects. In fact, I received a pattern drafting book for Christmas and I’ve been (slowly at times) teaching myself how to draft my own patterns. I’ve also completed a skirt pattern and prototype for my Rikku costume.

My current project, an extremely belated Christmas present for a friend, is a bunny wall hanger (Simplicity 4389). I already made one for another Christmas gift, which allowed me to work out most of the bugs. Here are some pictures of the work in progress:

In pieces
Stitching detail on the wrong side
Stitching detail on the wrong side 2

I took the pictures of the stitching detail (the brown line, not the yellow basting line) because I was particularly proud of it. The first one I made was pretty pitiful at this point. Unfortunately, the ears — which are basted to the head on the inside at this point — were much better on the first one. I didn’t clip the seam of the ear before I basted it, so when I turned it right side out, the ear was not totally caught in the seam. I had to re-stitch the seam on the top of the head, moving it down farther (and ruining my awesome first-time stitching job…*sigh*). I also had to do some hand-stitching to cover up the ear seam. It was a mess, but it looks fine from the outside.

The other challenge involves the ears as well. The pattern instructions call for floral wire inside the ears to make them stand up. The ends of the wire are taped together inside the ear at the bottom. Since I didn’t want to repeat the mistake of the first time where I had to sew over the wire (not good for the machine), I tucked the wire ends far enough up inside the ear that they would not be sticking into the seam. Unfortunately this (or perhaps the heaviness of the wire) doesn’t allow for as much support at the seams. When I hold the head in the center (where the plastic loop hanger goes), the sides of the head collapse, making the ears hang forward. To get around this, I’m going to sew a loop hanger to the back of the ears rather than the head. It will be more annoying to hang up, but it’s really the only way it’ll work at this point.

To be fair, the first iteration, even with its wires in the seam, may also collapse in this way — when I made it, I couldn’t find the plastic loops, so I didn’t get to test it properly.

Anyway, those problems are easy enough to fix, so I’ll just be happy that I’ve become more successful at stitching around a curving outline.

In other news, I’ve been working on cleaning up my sewing room. Not just the usual picking up, but a whole new reorganization. I don’t have a good “before” picture, but some of my earlier photos of the room show how I used to store my fabric and such. I did snap some “before” pictures this time around, but only after I’d already pulled a bunch of stuff out of my closet and reorganized the fabric.

Before:
Looking into the room
A look at the partially-organized closet and the not-at-all-organized sewing machine table
Another look into the room

After:
Organized closet
A wider look at the closet and the pattern cabinet
Looking into the room again
Ironing board and bookshelf
Pattern-drafting area
What’s behind the door
Clean sewing table
Bulletin board
Bookshelf and sexy entertainment center (with TV, DVD player, stereo, and iPod hookup)

I feel very good about this current organization. It makes me feel more creative for some reason.

I have some more pictures of the skirt prototype and my bodice pattern coming up!

12.11.2005

Ginny's new bed

I finished the dog bed! As always, the pictures are taken with my little camera and very little image correction. Forgive my laziness.

View 1
View 2
View 3

I made it using Simplicity 7014. I used a light yellow minky fabric for the main part of the bed and black polar fleece for the ears and nose. The interior cushion is made from muslin.

I’m planning to write a more detailed pattern review for (duh) Pattern Review, but I’ll give a few details here.

First of all, the bed involves sewing opposite curves together — its own interesting challenge. I’ve never really done this properly before. I staystitched and clipped the inner curves and ease-stitched the outer curves, which worked really well. The inner cushion muslin was a lot easier to sew this way than the outer minky fabric, since the muslin stretches on the bias and the minky is a one-way knit. Yay for me finally learning how to do this successfully.

The other issue was the stuffed cushion. The pattern called for 120 oz. of fiberfill, some of which went into the nose and ears, but most of which went into the cushion. I only ended up using 4 out of 6 bags, and although this didn’t fill the bed “shell” out completely, if I had stuffed it any fuller, I would not have been able to fit it through the velcro opening. As it was, I still had to reinforce some of the bottom seams of the outer part because they ripped out the first time I removed the cushion.

The rest of it went pretty well. I mean, it’s really cute!