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. ūüôā

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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 Рlaying 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!

Productive Procrastination

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It’s the middle of the afternoon on a beautiful Sunday. I have 2 loads of clean laundry that needs to be folded and put away, my kitchen is a mess from all of the dirty dishes that have not only filled the sink, but have also piled up on the counter and stove, and one of my couches is still covered in various balls of yarn, purses and other odds and ends. I *should* be taking the time to clean this place. And I will, eventually, sometime before I go to sleep tonight. But for right now I am putting it off.

There is a lot to be said for procrastination and it isn’t necessarily all bad. Sometimes, when we put off doing one thing, we’re still being productive, we’re just not doing what we feel we are *supposed* to be doing. Walter Chen wrote a fantastic post over at 99U on this very idea. You should read it. It’s marvelous. Basically, what it boils down to is that, when you feel the urge to procrastinate, do it – but do it in such a way that you are still accomplishing something. If you’re not keen on doing your homework right now, what else needs to be done? Do that. I did a hell of a lot of that in college. For quite awhile when I was in school, my apartment was actually clean almost all the time. Why? Because I would put off finishing a term paper in favor of doing the dishes. I made a pair of denim bell bottoms, entirely hand stitched, in a matter of 3 days (less than that if you subtract sleep, work and classes) because I was putting off something else.

Of course, you still need to eventually get around to doing whatever it is you need to do. My boyfriend, who always has 5 million tasks that he has to juggle, frequently uses something called pomodoro. Basically, you work for about 25 minutes, then you break for 5 minutes, work another 25, etc.. and every 4th break is a longer one, about 15-20 minutes. I think this is great if you can get it to work for you. It apparently works for him. I haven’t been able to get it to work for me. I just don’t work that way. I generally start off at something slow, but then I get into a zone and I’m entirely focused on nothing else but what I am doing. While I was in college, this was often how I did my papers. I would agonizingly struggle with an introduction, but after that, things would flow, and I’d crank out 4-8 pages in a single night, and not even realize it was 4 AM and I’d stayed awake all night. It’s how I still do some of my artwork (although now that I work full time at a physically demanding job, I have to force myself to get some sleep, or pull most of my all-nighters when I’m off the following day). I want to note here that getting into a zone does not necessarily mean the day before a deadline. That will get you into trouble.

So, what am I doing instead of washing dishes and folding laundry? Aside from writing this post, which is in itself productive, I have been watching episodes of Fringe on Netflix while taking my seam-ripper to a vest and a jacket a friend has asked me to repair for her. Take a look at this jacket:

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As you can see, this isn’t exactly a simple repair. The back of the neck is damaged badly enough, and so close to the seam, that it has to be replaced. The cuffs too are pretty bad off. If one were interested, the other edges could be made raw and the cuff could be left as they were, and just re-fashion it to be intentionally fringed. But, I’m not going to be doing that GEhere. Instead, I will be replacing those cuffs and that back panel with sections from this vest, which my friend also gave me to use. I really like the colors and patterns in this vest and I think, if I do it right, it can look quite nice with the well-worn jacket. Now. To fold that laundry…

 

Presto Change-o! Pants become a Purse! Part 1

Some months back, a relative of mine gave me a bag of clothes she no longer wanted. I took most of what she gave me to OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAthe second-hand store where I work during the day, but in this bundle of clothing were a cute pair of pants that I just couldn’t let go of. Sadly, they’re a junior’s size 5 and don’t come up over my grown woman hips.
So, I sat on them for awhile, trying to figure out what I wanted to do with them. Yesterday evening I finally decided to make a purse with them.

 Very Basic How-To

¬†The first and most basic step is to cut off the legs. You want to cut them off pretty much at the crotch. Observe the dotted “cut here” line I drew in.

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I’ve seen a lot of these purses made in such a way that after the legs are severed, the bottom edge of the now super-micro-mini-skirt is stitched together. This is fine, but it doesn’t allow for much actual storage space. So I made mine with a bottom plate. Simply cut out an extra rectangle of fabric and stitch it on the bottom edge of the skirt…¬†OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Of course, you may have to play with it a little get the proper sizing. Making the initial rectangle longer than it needs to be, like I did, is better than cutting out something too short. You could also just do the measuring and math, which is probably quicker, but I’m lazy.

So Far…

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Now I just need to add the straps and a lining and Presto! However, I think I want to get a little fancy and do some embroidery on it first..¬† Any ideas or suggestions? I’d like to here them! Seriously, give the comment box some love!

Be Kind, Please Rewind: VHS Tape as Yarn

I’m not entirely sure why I decided to try my hand at working with VHS tape. Perhaps I just wanted something different to try, perhaps it is because VHS tapes are hard to recycle where I work and I wanted to help find a way to make use of them (I work for a second hand retailer, we try to recycle almost everything that doesn’t sell/ can’t be sold, but last I checked, we didn’t have a place to send VHS tapes). In any case, I’ve been playing around with using old VHS tape as yarn, on and off,¬† for the last couple of weeks.

WARNINGS

While writing this article, I came across a Flickr discussion on the topic citing health dangers adherent in magnetic tape (VHS and cassette tape). Read the full discussion complete with further links here: Warning- Crafting with old cassette/ video tape. Basically, the tape contains cobalt, chromium and iron, which can break down or come off as dust from the tape. The iron may not be so much of a problem, as humans naturally have iron in their bodies (though too much iron can be bad), but cobalt and chromium are certainly toxic and can cause cancer. I am not telling anyone not to use these tapes, and I, myself, have not had any issues with it yet, but I want to bring the health concerns to attention so you can make up your own minds.

Trial and Error

While I don’t really have any finished projects right now, there are certainly some things I have learned in the process of trying to work with this material that I want to share.
The first idea I had was to use it to make a “Letters From Mr. Right” letter holder/wallet/clutch from Melissa Horozewski’s Austentatious Crochet.¬†This required that I pull on the tape to stretch it and make it thinner and more pliable. It is harder to get the tape stretched out uniformly if you are impatient and are trying to get a lot of it in a short time. I ended up getting blisters/ friction burn on the sides of my index fingers. I recommend using leather or garden gloves, this will not only help prevent the blisters I got, but it will also help prevent getting any dust on your skin if your tape happens to flake off on you. I also learned that if you pull too hard the tape will snap apart. If you look, it’s kind of hard to see the texture of the cluster stitch used. It just looks like a blob to me.

Because I got tired of pulling on the tape so much, I decided I’d also try using a bigger hook and crocheting with the straight tape, no stretching. Because there is no prep work needed, it works up a lot quicker. I don’t have much done with it yet, and it’s entirely possible I’m just going to scrap the exercise because I’m just not fond of it. This experimental piece is just a single crochet around a chain, in the round.

Other VHS Artwork

Now, while I’ve determined that I’m not entirely fond of working with the VHS tape, there are other people out there that do work with it and have done things with it that I like:

Diane Gilleland used it to make flowers to accent a straw purse. She also used the casings to make bookends. – Craftstylish.com

Cindy from My Recycled Bags made a cute little sling purse – MyRecycledBags.com

Adrian Kershaw manages to turn VHS tape into absolutely gorgeous fine art – Crochet Concupiscence

Zilvinas Kempinas created this awesome tunnel installation – Lost At E Minor

Erika Iris Simmons created several portraits from VHS and cassette tape – VHS Art Representations

Making Use of Everything – Recycling, Repurposing, Everyday

I’ve been spending most of my morning cleaning my apartment. I’ve been folding laundry, doing dishes, sorting the recyclables, etc. (I do my recycling with Green Purpose here in town.)

 

As a good practice I always clean out containers before I throw them in their bins, but today, one of the items I’m cleaning out is a tube of toothpaste. I cut it apart to be able to clear out all the remaining toothpaste residue.

However, it’s a little hard to get that bit in the opening. I don’t have any pipe cleaners and see no sense in buying any (especially since I’m kind of broke right now), so I made use of some scrap fabric.

The other day I cut the edgings off of some fitted sheets I want to use for quilting/ clothing and wasn’t sure what to do with them. This is one use ūüôā¬†¬† I’m also considering saving the flat portion of the toothpaste tube to make something with, perhaps a wallet or a purse, much like these capri sun purses.