Come What May

So, welcome to 2014. New year, new chances to lie to myself about blogging more regularly and finishing unfinished projects. This will not be a polished entry, this may even get personal. Maybe. Right now I’m just typing words as they escape my brain between shoving unhealthy snacks in my face.

I’ve got my laptop next to me, with my camera, my sewing machine is out, and I have bits of fabric on the table. What follows is an insight into my creative and thought processes, raw, unedited – chaotic and probably going nowhere. But why am I still typing crap? Here – look at some pictures.

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This is some sexy lingerie I bought several years ago. I only wore them once. They don’t even fit me anymore. I’m going to chop them up. Why not?

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Chop CHOP! Choppy Chop! Lace is pretty.

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Oh, remember these? Yeah, I’m still not sure what to do with them, but, they’re sitting in a pile on the table.

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This looks kind of neat.

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CRAP! I need pink thread! The stores are closed! All I have is embroidery and hand quilting thread! Grrr…

Do I want to just sew it with a contrasting thread color? Or use embroidery thread? I don’t want to wait until morning. I’m pushing through, making do, not putting it off. Embroidery thread it is. Such is life. It doesn’t have to be perfect. It doesn’t have to be perfect. It doesn’t have to be perfect. It can be messy, it can be chaotic, and it will be ok. It will. I promise. Screw the fairy tales and the picture perfect notions of what should be. The harder you push it, the less idyllic/idealistic it will be. Ideallic. Is that a word? Screw it. It is now. #Ideallic. Go trend that crap.

Idyllic -1:  pleasing or picturesque in natural simplicity; 2:  of, relating to, or being an idyll

Idealistic – 1: of or relating to the philosophical doctrine of the reality of ideas; 2: of high moral or intellectual value; elevated in nature or style; “an exalted ideal”; “argue in terms of high-flown ideals”- Oliver Franks; “a noble and lofty concept”; “a grand purpose”

Yeah, neither of those quite do it for me quite the way it feels in my mind standing by themselves. Oh, so, here’s a thing I’ve been working on off and on that I don’t think I’ve posted about:

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I got the pattern from Urban Threads. It’s going to take me eons. Ok. I’m getting kind of sleepy. I think I’m going to post this and come back to this in the morning. Maybe I’ll get a stock of posts done to schedule over the next few weeks. Maybe I can be more regular. Maybe I can convince myself that I don’t actually NEED to have a point or well-formed idea. Maybe I can stop avoiding the blog and the facebook page when I haven’t finished any of my many unfinished projects. Maybe.

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What I Get For Thinking

From this point forward, no more promises… I promise.

So, I’m still not quite ready to show you all the completed jacket. After I finished installing the back panel and tacked on the new cuffs, I noticed something…

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… The outer edge of the cuffs, and on the wrist along the bottom of the cuff, are more spots that are fraying too badly for me to just ignore. The entire reason I am doing this creative upcycle is prolong the life of this jacket for my friend. If I don’t do anything with these worn spots, they will eventually get worse. Well, even without those spots, the jacket will still eventually wear down, but I’m aiming for later rather than sooner.

As a result of this problem, I’ve been experimenting with different ideas on how to reinforce these weak zones without just throwing more patches on them. So, I had one crazy idea that I spent way too much time on only to fizzle out on me. I thought that perhaps I could use a decoratively cut strip of contrasting denim to cover those areas – providing the needed reinforcement while at the same time looking interesting.

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If you notice, while the band fits well at the cuff, it’s too short on the other side as the arm of the jacket begins to expand out. If I secure this band onto the jacket, it will cause bulging and puckering. So, now I need to come up with another idea. In the meantime here are some photos of the jacket showing the completed back panel replacement.

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In other news, I have about a week before I am set to share a table with another friend, Julia, at C4A’s Race Street Bash in Urbana, Illinois. This means the jacket is going on the back burner while I finish making things for that event. Given that the temperature has been in the 80’s this past week, I don’t think Melissa will be needing her jacket back just yet. Besides, as I’ve been experimenting on it, I’ve decided there are a couple more things I want to do, for the sake of aesthetics. 🙂

Fringe Distractions and The Wonder of Fusible Web

Was my last posting really 3 weeks ago? Where did the time go?? I suppose I can blame a recent obsession with Fringe for part of my distraction. I discovered it was on Netflix and have been systematically working my way through the series (I’m currently into the first 2 episodes of season 3 for anyone who cares). Though I did just spend a week out of town visiting family, so, that played a role too. (I managed to get my grandmother hooked and now Walter (played by John Noble) has become her heart throb. It’s too cute.) For anyone unfamiliar with the show, here is the promo for it:

Whatever the reasons for my absence, I hath returned! And I have updates on the progress of the jacket I started working on last time.  The very first thing I did was to take out that upper back panel and the two cuffs, as they suffered the most damage. I ironed them out and used them as patterns to create new pieces. Because the front sections of the vest were too small by themselves to cover the entire back panel, I needed to combine them to create a big enough piece. So, I played around with them a bit – laying them out in different ways, trying to imagine how cut out pieces would look, how I would need to arrange them to both utilize as much of the decorative material as I could while trying to maintain some kind of visually pleasing aesthetic once the sections were to be joined with the denim.

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Now, while I am entirely replacing the more damaged pieces, there are other areas of the jacket that are worn down as well. The folded edge of the collar has a lot of wear on it. However, as the collar sits directly above the back piece that’s already been replaced, I can’t very well replace the entire collar without compromising the visual harmony of the jacket. But I couldn’t very well leave it to wear down further, otherwise I would be doing all this repair work only to have my friend’s beloved jacket wear out again in a short time. So, as an answer to both of these problems. I patched them from the wrong side with the help of some fusible web.

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This is actually the same thing I did when I realized the buttonholes from the vest were part of the back piece I’d cut out and installed. As I was predominately concerned with layout and fabric conservation, I managed to overlook them! However, a few pieces of scrap and some fusible web and the buttonholes were no longer an issue.

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Next time, I will show you all the finished project!

Running from Frustration

I have yet to determine whether this works to my benefit or to my downfall, but, I am forever juggling multiple projects at the same time. More often than not, I start a new project because I’ve gotten fed up with a previous one. I’m trying to be better about going back and completing already started projects… I currently have 4 projects I am in the middle of: The Rag Rug, a jacket I started around this time last year, a latch hook kit, and an afghan I started in September. The only thing anywhere close to completion is the afghan.

Complications with The Rag Rug

  As of right now, I have completed 49 out of 176 rows of the rug. I’m not nearly as far along as I originally hoped to be by now. (Granted, I’d be at least 5 rows further along if I never had to undo and redo rows because I didn’t pay attention to the pattern.) There are multiple factors for this. The project isn’t portable at all, so I only work on it when I am home. When I *am* home (when I’m not at work, out of town visiting family, at an art show, or spending time with my boyfriend), my attention is also being taken by trying to clean my apartment or watch a movie, which is hard to do while I work on the rug as my back is to the TV. It’s also while I am at home that I work on writing these blogs, check email, Facebook, etc. As the weather gets nicer I find myself getting cabin fever quicker, always wanting to go for a walk and enjoy the sunshine. Of course, allowing myself these pleasures cuts down on my productivity. However, there is one other reason I’ve been avoiding the rug lately: I’ve noticed that the lower rows of the rug are bulging out. I don’t know if this is a tension issue, or due to using scrap material of varying thicknesses, or what. I don’t know if this is something that can be easily smoothed out once the rug is taken off the pole. Because of this, I’ve been somewhat putting off rug production – I’m worried I’ll do all the work, think it’s done, but then have to go back in and fix it somehow.

The Mandarin Jacket

I started working on the Mandarin Jacket shortly after I finished the Nowhere Man jacket early last year. I replaced the entire front panels (by hand!) so that I could create and utilize frog button closures. I then used brocade to make the bottom band and the collar. The collar was hard for me as I had no pattern to work from and was using scrap fabric to try different variations. Because an iron will melt brocade without a press cloth (and a press cloth obstructs my view of the fabric), I had to create the creases with tiny hand stitches near the edges. After all that, I learned a valuable lesson when trying on and trying to close the jacket: brocade has no stretch. Suddenly, a jacket that fit me fine before no longer wants to close. I was so wrapped up in the concept that I failed to consider the properties of the fabrics I was working with. I haven’t touched it since, but I still have it, waiting for the day when I will come back to it.

The Latch Hook Kit

I picked up the latch hook kit from the I.D.E.A. Store a couple months ago. I knew it had a hole in the mesh when I got it. I’ve just been trying to work around the hole in the meantime. I know I have extra mesh around my apartment somewhere…  Until I find it, this will wind up in the unfinished pile.

The Afghan

I started the afghan when my mother came up from Florida to visit. I knew I wouldn’t be able to work on the rug, so I began this endeavor so I would have a decent travel project. The pattern I’m following is called “Blue Star” from the book Blue Ribbon Afghans. This is probably closer to being finished than any other project right now, simply because it is portable – I take it to work and to my boyfriend’s all the time – and because it doesn’t take much brain power for me to follow a pattern (unless I stumble upon any errata).

Insomniatic Thoughts about Suits…

I should really be asleep right now…

I’m in the middle of trying to put together a series of related posts at the moment, which as per usual, has me doing research between work, sewing, and my addiction to Facebook and Youtube. I’m hoping the first will be ready to post by the end of the month (I’m being realistic here, I’ve a lot to juggle).

Until then though, thoughts about suit jackets:

He’s got a good point. Why don’t they make suit jackets with the arms attached the same way as other jackets and shirts? Maybe someday I’ll make one and see how it works out.. add it to my list.    I first saw this video almost a year ago.. I’m a huge fan of Lloyd and subscribe to his Youtube channel (and maybe I’ve somewhat of I fangirl crush on him too >.> ).  Anyhow, I was reminded of it Sunday night at a Gaelic Storm concert when Patrick Murphy had to take his cool velvety suit-type jacket off because it hindered his accordion playing. Yes, Patrick Murphy started shedding clothing and my mind went to Lloyd, there must be something wrong with my wiring. ha!

Nowhere but Where you Want to Go…

Life has a funny way of unraveling itself. Despite all our efforts, all our planning, the road we set off embarking on will change as time goes by. Life will set obstacles in our way, and if we are to stay on course, we must surmount them. Yet, sometimes we’re forced to take a detour. Often, we become frustrated, and we try bustle through and get back onto our well planned pathway. Every once in awhile, if we actually look around us as we travel down these side roads life’s detours force us to take, we might discover something worthwhile: an out of the way diner, a cozy independent bookstore, an old theater, or maybe just a pretty house with a for sale sign in the yard.
Or sometimes we simply decide we want to go somewhere else and cut across a parking lot or a farmer’s field to get to another road.

I feel like society at large expects us to plot a course and stay true and unwavering to that course. The implications being that if we stay the course we will be happy and stable and successful. The general model that we’re supposed to base our lives on is: Get your HS diploma (or GED), go to college (or trade school), get a job, get married, buy a house, start a family. It also feels as if getting off that course suggests failure at life. But what happens when you’re traveling down the expressway and traffic jams up and forces you into a painfully slow single lane? Or what about when your ending destination suddenly disappears like Atlantis into oblivion?  This is what a lot of people who have lost their jobs have had to deal with. This is what myself and my peers have had to face (or will have to face) coming out of school. It seems like college is becoming more and more of a necessity with fewer and fewer guarantees of anything beyond student loan debt.

What do you do when you find yourself in the middle of nowhere? Where do you go? Do you keep moving in some direction, or do you pause for a moment and take in your surroundings? Do you follow the well trodden path? The path less traveled? Or do you create your own path, hacking your way through the brush if necessary? It seems to me that we often feel pressured or rushed to keep moving and to “get back on track” as quickly as possible. As if to be off track is to be in this very undesired position. I find it somewhat amusing that it’s ok to be “outside the box”, so long as you are “on track” and even better if you are “on the fast track”.  (this is my odd/corny sense of humor at work here)

When I started this project, I had no real idea where it was going, and over time, as I built upon it, its true nature revealed itself to me. It really took on a life and a meaning all its own. The Nowhere Man, with its kind of off-kilter compass and frayed edges that shirk convention, reminds us that even when we we’re out in the middle of nowhere, we have the freedom and the power to go where we want to. We don’t even have to know where we are going when we start off, the path will reveal itself in due time if we keep our senses open to it.

Having come to the end of the road (but certainly not the end of the journey), the Nowhere Man is now officially for sale on my Etsy.  I’m excited to see what other roads I will be led down as I continue to work this blog and continue to create…