Friday, August 14, 2009

Kinder, gentler...and faster!

After designing and making purse patterns and all those purses for about eight years, I finally hit on something that made life just a titch easier: fabric pattern pieces. Now, this is probably a yawner to some of you (especially if you don't sew :)), but it fairly well changed me into a kinder, gentler pattern cutter-outer. All I did was to find some material that I had gobs of and no immediate use for (natural denim from an attempt at slipcovering - eesh) and cut out all the pieces of one of my patterns. If I needed to "Cut 2" from a particular piece, I did so in the denim. I labeled them just in case I had amnesia someday and voila! Now I can lay out my pattern, no pins required, and ...
easily cut the pieces of fabric out. The fabric pattern sort of grips the other fabric so it stays in place while I'm cutting.
The other advantage is that the fabric pattern pieces might last longer than their paper sisters. This works great for purse patterns or a pattern you tend to use many times over. And, of course, you don't need denim for your pattern pieces. Just find the oldest scrap in your stash that isn't slippery, and that's probably a good candidate.
Now to find some trick for making me a kinder, gentler wife :)...!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Some wool, some water, and a whole lotta shakin' goin' on!

Although there's been a bit of a gap since my last blog post, I think I'm back in the blog saddle again :). Happily, one of the things that has been keeping me away is a felting project. It all started with a blank slate, or in this case, a blank rubber mat... (click any photo to enlarge)
and some inspiration - a photo out of National Geographic Magazine.The photo is of a jellyfish relative called a blue button. So I'm naming this, Jelly-belly button :). I am mostly enamored with it's tentacles, but the overall design is pretty neat, too. I also was inspired by the technique Linda Brooks Hirschman used on her "Floating Poppies" in Carol Huber Cypher's book "how we felt".

So, on my blank slate, I started adding wisps of colorful merino fiber. It's like laying out cotton candy, but not that sticky...or tasty.
This is just the first layer. The second goes in the perpindicular direction.

After laying out the basic design, I took it down to our kitchen and soaked it carefully with water, laid some bubble wrap on top, and started shakin' it, well, rubbing it with my fingers back and forth. About mid-way through, I added some yarn highlights to the design. I kept adding hot, soapy water and enlisted the help of a hand-sander with a washboard attachment to help me with the agitation. I think I was getting more shakin' than the fiber! The water, soap and agitation all help the fibers to interlock. A long time later (did I emphasize long? :)), it was felt! I rinsed and squeezed the water out and inverted Jelly-belly over a bowl to shape it while it was drying. It doesn't look so great at this point....
But then, the part I love the best - flipping it over to reveal how it looks once dry. Yea! It's so fun to see the colors come out and see how the added yarns worked.

There's more to come on this. But I'm excited so far. Stay tuned....