Finishing the Rag Rug: What I have learned

I first began working on the rag rug just shy of a year ago. (You can read all about the humble beginnings here) I had never woven anything before, on a loom or otherwise, but I wanted a way to use some material I had laying around and wanted to try out the technique. I always get excited to try something I’ve never done before, I always jump into these big projects head on and learn as I go… I’m actually kind of surprised I even managed to make a small practice swatch! That being said, I ran into several points of frustration that resulted in long periods of walking away from the rug to work on other things, which is why it took me so long to finish. This is how I learn though, through experimentation.

Trial and Error Learning

Experimenting with dye:

I knew I wanted to make my rug black and red. I also knew I didn’t want to have to go out and buy a lot of new fabric either (as that would be expensive as well as defeating the purpose of utilizing old material), so I thought it would be wise to dye some old white bed sheets to the colors I wanted. That should be easy, right? Oh boy was I ever wrong! Not only did I spend hours cutting and dying fabric (note: dye first, _then_ cut!), but I made a mess and all I had to show for it in the end was some pink and grey fabric. For all the other dye noobs out there: Rit is no good if you want strong colors. Do some research before jumping head first, which is what I should have done.

Types of fabric:

While most of my material came from old bedsheets (cotton is awesome), I wanted to use what I had handy as well. This meant cutting some strips from old pants as well as an old satin sheet set I’d had for some years that was worn from cat claws. Satin frays like a mother and, while it certainly made use of the material, using it was a giant pain. The fabric from my old pants was thicker than the other material, and while that’s not really a problem in itself, I should have cut them into thinner strips, as the difference in thickness contributed to the my other major problem…

GAUGE!

Notice that pink/ grey piece in the center, I wanted to make sure my dying efforts weren’t for naught, and it serves as a reminder of my journey in making this rug.

 

Just as with knitting or crochet, gauge is important. Gauge, for those readers who may be unfamiliar with the term, is the tension and tightness or looseness of a knit, weave, etc. When you are following a pattern and knitting asweater, you want your gauge to match that listed in the pattern or the sweater will be too big or too small. The problem with this rug is that the gauge is not uniform. The gauge is super tight at the top and very loose toward the middle. So, how do I fix it? I do not want to unravel all my hard work and re-do it. I can either tighten up the lower rows or I can add some material to the upper rows or some combination to even it out. However, no matter how I go about it, there is no getting around that this is going to be another time consuming process. It’s quite aggravating when I really want to be done with it and get some use out of it, not to mention, I’d like to move on to other projects.

 

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Purse Repair and Updates

After a wonderful 2 weeks in North Carolina, I had to return home and return to work. I had hoped to have some pictures of Neil’s baby nephew wearing the shirt I made for him, but sadly, when Neil and I left to drive out to visit his brother, we both forgot to bring the box of baby clothes. We did, however, leave them in NC with his Dad to give to the baby later next month. So, pictures are still to come, they just have a longer wait than I originally anticipated.

While I was on vacation, I took advantage of the time to read Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion by Elizabeth L. Cline. If you’ve been following my Facebook page (click on the “like” button in the Facebook widget to the

overdressed_bookright of the blog), you’ve already seen my praises for this book and that I feel everyone needs to read it. What happens in the textile industry and how clothes are consumed does not stay in the textile industry. It has direct ties to the economy, unemployment and the struggle for a living wage/ fair labor practices, the environment, and how arable land is used just to name a few.
If you’re like me, you can’t really afford to buy “new” clothes anyhow, even the fast fashion from the mall or Target. I buy almost all of my clothes second hand, or I make my own. But when you DO buy new clothes, you should understand the power your dollars really do have. No matter where you get your clothes, it could be worth the time to learn how to alter and/or repair them yourself to make them last and fit better, or find a local seamstress or tailor to do the work for you (and help support your local economy while you’re at it).

It is in the spirit of repairing and keeping what I already have and getting it’s full use that I am fixing one of my purses. This backpack purse was actually my very first purse. My father got it for me when I was in 6th grade. I never really used it until I started riding my bike more than driving my car – the little black backpack purse was both cute and effective for carrying while on a bike. However, the lining inside my little purse ripped and I’d been having issues with my keys and other things falling through into the no man’s land between lining and purse. Not really having any lining on hand and knowing cotton is sturdier anyway, I chose to re-purpose an old pillow sham.

The old lining, after taking a seam ripper to my purse. I used the original lining as a pattern for the new.

New lining.

The inside of my gutted purse.

I still have to do the actual sewing yet, but wanted to share the start with you all the same. Stay tuned to see how it turns out!

Old Tshirt Becomes New Halter Top

For all of my Facebook followers, here is the promised “How-to” for the halter top I made the other day. If you haven’t been following the official Facebook page (there is a convenient little box to the right of this post), then this is completely new for you.

Before I get too far into this, I have to give credit to BrittneyNGrey over at Youtube for the inspiration on this one. I followed her basic construction, but I made some of my own modifications.

Start with a T-shirt larger than your size

I started with an XL tshirt. (I typically wear a size S or M. If you’re in an XL or higher, you may want to use 2 shirts for this) This particular shirt was one I had raided from Neil’s dresser (with his permission) one afternoon while I was helping him fold and put away clothes. I noticed that he had 2 of the same t-shirt and asked if I could have the spare.

Altering the Shirt

I followed the above video for the beginning. I cut off the collar and sleeves, cut the back up the middle and across in the same fashion. (I did not stretch out the fabric, though)

It is at this point that I diverged from Brittney’s pattern. Rather than using the shoulders as the tie around, I decided to make my own, less bulky tie around:

Fold the shirt in half..

Use a marking utensil to draw an even cut line that will separate the shoulders from the rest of the top.

Use a strip from the pieces you have cut away to create a tunnel for some string or ribbon to go through. This will be your tie around.

I created my back laces and tie string (please refer to video at the top of this post) using stretched out strands from another tshirt for color contrast. I had some leftover tshirt yarn from the knitting workshop I did last year, so I just used a couple of pieces of that.

Adjustments

I like my clothes to fit me just right, so, I flipped the halter inside out and tried it on, ready to mark any places that needed further work.

As you can see, there is some unsightly bulging going on.

But if I just use those natural protrusions to make darts, I’ll have a more form fitting top.

I just stood in front of the mirror with needle and thread, stay stitching the darts in place while I still had it on.

The Final Product

From the back

And the front view! Feel free to accessorize with your own arm candy 😉

 

 


Baby Spoiling

Ask anyone that knows me, I am not a baby person. As a general rule, I think they mostly just look like alien trolls and they give me the heebie jeebies. It’s not that I hate babies (contrary to the “Baby Hater” nickname my lovely co-workers bestowed upon me), they just don’t really impress me very much and their frailness worries me. What if someone hands me their baby and I accidentally break  it? No thank you. Now, having said all this, I have to admit, that every once in long, long while, I encounter a miniature, not-yet-fully-developed human being that manages to catch my attention in some manner. When I was in high school, that mini-person was a (then) 3 year old named Sami. There was just something about her, an orneriness that shot out of her eyes and an attitude – not your typical whiny, screaming brat attitude, but a kind of sassy and edgy spunk – that became her. She was just that awesome. Of course, I haven’t seen this kid since I left for college years ago. No other rugrat had really managed to win me over before or since… until my boyfriend’s baby nephew came along.

The funny thing is, I haven’t even met this kid yet. Neil’s brother lives in another state, so I’ve only seen pictures on Facebook. Yet, he’s somehow managed to make an impact on me… and I am now set on trying to spoil him as much as possible. Last year for Christmas, I crocheted a panda for him and mailed it down. (I adapted the basic bear pattern from a crocheted Care Bear book.)

So, when Neil and I made plans to come down to visit, I knew I wanted to get the kid some manner of cute baby shirt. Not knowing what size he wears and not wanting to ask (because I wanted it to be a surprise), I had my mom help me figure out what sizes to buy. (Note: Explain to your parents WHY you are looking at baby clothes BEFORE you just start looking through baby clothes.)

After figuring out the best size to start with (it’s better to err on the side of too big, since babies grow), I had to figure out *what* I wanted to write. I had so many ideas and trying to narrow it down was really hard. I’d seen some cute shirts that say “My Aunt is Hot”, and had thought about doing that, but decided against it, and ultimately “My Uncle’s Girlfriend is Hot” is just too much to try to fit onto a baby shirt. So, after talking to co-workers and friends, I decided on “If you think I’m cute… you should see my Uncle!”

I used Marvy DecoFabric fabric paint markers for this project. I used some scraps from the rag rug to test on. I think the markers worked really well and I’ll certainly use them again on future projects. Make sure you use an iron or run your items through the dryer to heat set.

The shirt has been Neil approved and now I’m just waiting until we get to see his brother and the baby to give it to them. I will try to get some adorable baby wearing shirt photos later on.