May 31, 2011

Current Project-Maternity Shirt Revamp

Not sure if you recall but I wandered off to the thrift store a few weeks back and got some really cheap maternity clothes there. I was super excited. That was, until I put on my lovely heathery purple shirt to find out that it was like wearing a sack. A very over sized, shapeless sack that made me look frumpy and like I had no differentiation between my chest and my belly bump. That simply would not do.So, in between working (or not working) on other projects I have been modifying this shirt to my liking.

There really was nothing special about the shirt. It was a wide boat like neckline with gathered cap sleeves and a keyhole on the back. I really think it was the color that made me get it. It was purple. I love purple. It follows me home in every way, shape and form. But this purple shirt was wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong.

What I envisioned was something with a nice trim, some details on the front, and some sort of empire waist. So I went to work.

The first step was to cut the neckline into a slight v and cut off the sleeves. Next, I made a bias binding of this lovely floral print that I never had enough fabric for a full shirt with. Then I made 3 rows of gathering stitches at the center of  front right under the bust to give myself a waist.

When I was sewing the binding onto the neckline I found another 'fun' thing about this shirt. This shirt was really stretchy, and liked to snag at any attempt at using a seam ripper. Lovely. The solution has been to stitch the other side of the binding closed by hand. After I did that to the neckline I took a break and worked on that gathered center section.

 Here you can see the hand stitching of the bias I had to do. Stupid knit.

I cut two rectangles of fabric in that same floral and sewed them together near the edge (probably could have just used interfacing on one). Then I pressed the rectangle under 1/4 inch on each side and tacked it onto the gathered section. Finally, I sewed the rectangle down. It gives it a nice center detail and I think it ties in nicely with the trim.

After I am done with sewing the binding around the armholes I will have to make my final decision as to how to decorate it.

I am not sure if I want a cluster of flowers going from the shoulder, flowers on the center section, rows of ruffles, or some ruffles down the shoulder. Either way, it will be a vast improvement.

I'm happy with how it's turning out but I really wish I didn't need fixed in the first place. Oh well, that's what you get for spending $1.50 on a top. Can't win all the time.

Ten Dollar Tuesdays #4

Today's 'holiday' on that I've picked for this week's Ten Dollar Tuesday is Bicycle Race Day! So, all items that are featured here are goodies I've found on etsy for under ten dollars and have a bicycle theme. Enjoy!

I enjoy the over sized picture and the vintage feel to this. 

$5.00 by twopolkadots

These earrings are made out of old bicycle chains. I really like the industrial feel of these. 

I love the colors in these and the all over pattern of these tile coasters

$10.00 by craftyluna

May 27, 2011

Me thinks I need a Ball Winder

I started yet another new project from some plarn I had left over from my Upcycled Bangle Bracelet tutorial. This time I am making the bottom of a tote bag out of this colorful and thick plastic. But, not even two rows into making the bottom the whole darn thing turns into a twisted mess. I think it's time to get a ball winder.

When I was working with regular plastic bags I didn't come across this problem. I would just wrap it around my hand and tie it, much like people do to loose appliace cords. However, since this was a massive shopping bag with handles, it produced much more plarn than I am used to. My normal method of containing the beast failed. Now I am stuck with a stringy, knotted mess of loop upon loop of plarn. *sigh*

So, here I am looking on amazon for a ball winder to join my party of craft supplies. It would come in handy for many things. Coiling, crochet, weaving, stuff and things. But do I really need one? It looks nice, but that's $30 to make pretty little balls. The crafter in me is poking me in the brain going "Can I make that? What would it take to make that.... Is it possible"

Looking more and more into it and remembering my days in the textiles studio at school I am inclined to think that is above my crafting skills. I mean, not only does it go around but it also varies the height it places the yarn on the spinning mechanism to create a nice evenly distributed ball.

What do you think? Can I make that? Do I need that?

May 26, 2011

Words of Wisdom-Sewing

Lately me and my sewing machine have been having some problems. I've debating going to counseling for it, but I'm not sure if I'm ready to spend $5 at the Viking Center inside Joann's when I'm pretty certain I know the problem.

Since I'm having some problems with my machine, I thought I would share some of the tips and tricks I know about sewing. Perhaps you can avoid some of the problems I have experienced or learned along the way.

Sewing Words of Wisdom

1. Take care of your sewing machine

Don't do what I did and toss it in a closet in its box every time you put it away. Moving it around often can really affect your tension. If you have to store it away from little fingers take it in to get adjusted every once in awhile, at least every year. Otherwise you will end up with very irregular stitches despite your attempts at new thread, bobbins, needles, and countless amounts of praying to the sewing gods.

2. Use Good Quality Thread

Your 2 for a $1 Walmart thread will not make your homemade items look as nice as something you can get in the store. A nice quality thread will have less slubs or joining sections on the spool and should make your machine run better. Cheap thread will often break, come off in pieces, create a horrible amount of lint in your bobbin case area (that you should brush out occasionally), and will not be as smooth of a thread because it is made of shorter fibers.

If you want to make something really nice go out of your way and get the matching Guttermann or Silky thread. The difference is drastic.

3. Fabric Scissors are for FABRIC

If you want to have nice scissors, you need to treat them well. Use your fabric scissors for fabric alone. Paper or other items will damage, nick and dull your blades. If you plan on doing a decent amount of pattern making as well, invest in some nice scissors for your kraft paper. If you maintain your items and treat they well, they will last you a very long time.

4. Make sure you  have the right bobbin for your machine
    (This is actually the problem I am facing right now)

Many machines come with a few bobbins when you  purchase your machine. If they don't or you've lost them, you may have to buy new. When you buy new make sure you buy the right bobbin for your machine. Look up the size in the manual or search online for the correct size. Once you get to the craft store, don't go for the cheap stuff.

I bought some Dritz bobbins which said they were the correct size for my machine and they are wrong!! The Dritz bobbins are actually a fraction smaller in diameter than what should be in my machine. Because the size is not quite right it will constantly bounce around the bobbin case and often un-thread itself from the guides producing some wicked sounds of being possessed and creating a terribly wicked rats nest.

5. Iron your Sewing

This may sound lame but a properly ironed piece of sewing can make a drastic impact. All you really need to do some nice ironing is three things: an ironing board, ham and iron. With these you can make a big difference.

If you just spent 3 hours sewing it, take the 20 minutes to really finish your piece off with a nice pressing.
Bust open those seams to make it lay nice and flat, press that hem down so it doesn't curl and pucker, clip and press the curves, and turn out and press those nice collar points you made! Turn that item from "I can tell that's homemade" into  "WOW! That is homemade?!".

May 25, 2011

New Merchandise for the Shop!!

I am working on getting some new merchandise in my shop this weekend. Hopefully the weather holds out and I can get nice photos as well. Sometimes having curious young kids really limits when and where I can take photos of my items. I love them but "hands off" does not register with those young grabby hands.

I just added two new purses to the shop the other day. If you have not seen them, go check them out! They are super fun pin-up inspired bags in bright fun colors for spring and summer.

The items I am currently working on are some star shaped pins and some hair clips. I got snap and alligator clips to put my plarn flowers and stars onto. The only trouble I am running into is with those alligator clips. They don't have a hole for sewing the pieces onto. I may have to line them with ribbon just to get something tactile to sew onto. Luckily I came across this great webpage in my search. Hip Clip Girls Boutique Hair Bows

They have great instructions on just about every kind of bow my mother-in-law shoves into my daughter's hair!! I am super excited at this find and will be trying their instructions on how to line the alligator clips this week.

I just hope I have the right ribbon for it because I was just at the craft store last night to pick up some interfacing for a skirt I've been sewing late at night. I really don't want to go back into the store. I know I will misbehave and end up with more than I really need to take home.

Anyways, here are some quick shots of the new stuff coming. 

Some new pins

May 24, 2011

Ten Dollar Tuesdays #3

I picked the oddest 'holiday' off to make this Ten Dollar Tuesday and I really like the outcome. They told me it was Asparagus Day. Now, I'm just not sure if that's really true but I took it as a challenge.

So I present you with my Asparagus filled Ten Dollar Tuesday!!

I saw this ring and thought it was so interesting. The texture is lovely and using that asparagus color is actually quite refreshing and neutral. I bet it could go with various pieces.

This is terribly cute and clever. Who knew you could make such wonderful things out of felt. These look so realistic I am stunned!!
$4.00 by umecrafts

This is really stunning and lovely. I did not know asparagus could be lovely. I thought it was just for eating!
$6.00 from Daintyhob

May 23, 2011

DIY Spool Knitter Tutorial

As mentioned in the previous post, I had the glory of working with power tools this weekend!!! The result? My very own handmade spool knitter and this little tutorial.

DIY Spool Knitter

Supplies Needed:

Pencil or Sharpie
Finishing nails (or other nail with small head)
Scrap of wood ( at least 1/2 inch thick)
Sandpaper or rasp
Drill or Drill press
Miter Saw ( you can use others but I found this worked best for me)
Large Drill bit to cut a circle
Personal Safety Items: Glasses, Dust mask and Earplugs or muffs. 


First, take your scrap of wood and mark a circle a little bit larger than the size you wish your tube of knitting to be. Draw a rough square around the circle.

Second, use your drill or drill press to cut out your circle. My circles were rather small so I was able to use a Forster bit to cut them. (If you want larger circles use a jigsaw after first drilling a hole in the circle to insert your saw blade.) I recommend cutting the holes first and then trimming them, otherwise you will run into an issue figuring out how to clamp down your small wood block when drilling.

Next take your piece of wood to the saw and cut a square around your circle, leaving at least 1/4 inch or more between the opening edge and the edge of the square.

Once you have done that take your sandpaper or rasp and smooth off any rough edges to your wood piece.

Then take out your sharpie and mark the position of your nails around the perimeter of the circle. I like to mark two pairs on opposite sides to make it more even.

Finally, take your hammer and finishing nails and pound them in according to your markings.Pound them down enough that it is easy to use your spool knitter. This is where having enough space around  your circle is vital. If you don't have enough space to hammer in your nails you could split and damage your wood.

There! Now you should have a completed spool knitter. This little spool knitter will make a lovely tube of knitting just like any spool knitter that you can buy in the craft store. And better yet!! You can make these to any size you wish. All you need to start using your new spool knitter is a small crochet hook.

Like this tutorial? Check out other some of my others HERE !

Weekend Warrior? Somewhat....

My weekends are pretty occupied with being a mother and wife so when I actually get something done that is just for me, I get stupid thrilled. This weekend I did manage to finish a few projects with a little help from my father-in-law and his power tools. But we'll get to that in a separate post....

These are the other things I accomplished:

I finally finished up another coiled basket. I would have been able to do both of them, but I'm silly. I cannot find the yarn I used as the core for the second so I'm debating what to do with a half finished basket. I think this is a result of using scrap yarn for starting projects. Perhaps there is a lesson to be learned there....

Anyways, here is my newest addition to my coiling collection.

This basket is made completely out of wool. The core yarn, the wrapping yarn, and the adornment are all 100% wool. I actually debated fulling it afterwards but didn't want to lose some of the texture. 

I used two different yarns in red and purple at the same time to wrap the basket. 

When I was done I felt like it was missing something so I created a crochet concoction (read as, I just made it up on the fly) of joined circles. I then sewed it on to cascade down the side of the basket. I think it turned out pretty. 

Here is another of my more recent finished projects that I just had the time to photograph.

This basket is made out of a cotton clothesline core and wrapped with raffia and cotton warp thread. I switched yarns every row creating the striped pattern. 

I am not entirely happy with the way it finished and how it looks jagged but I guess that's a result of using a very thick yarn for the core. A smaller yarn seems easier and less noticeable to taper off.

I also managed to finish sewing the beads onto that aqua circle scarf, take photographs of some new purses to list on etsy and do some woodworking that you'll see in the next post.

I am a craft warrior!

May 19, 2011

Almost Done!

I've been slowly working on my unfinished projects list and have made some progress. The plarn clutch is done, two baskets have gotten bigger since last week and I am nearly done with my scarf.

This scarf was made using Moda? aqua yarn. It's a soft ribbon style yarn in the most vibrant, gorgeous aqua color. Two weeks ago I tucked in all the loose tails and this week I've begun to sew on various glass beads to make it feel really special and finished.

 This scarf was partly inspired by fabric yo-yos and the fact that I only had one skein. I had to get creative  so I crocheted several rounds of various sizes and sewed them together.

These are some of the Czech glass beads I've been sewing on with a beading needle, which is awful to thread. 

I'm just randomly sewing them down the length of the scarf for some extra sparkle. I am more than halfway done!

Hopefully I can cross this off my list all together this week!

May 18, 2011

Back to Hooking!

CROCHET!! It's crochet, you dirty people.

I decided last night that it's been far too long since I've listed any new pieces on my Etsy shop. So I decided to get off my duff and work on some new products like I previously said. I posted a few small crochet pieces a few posts ago that look like contenders for barrettes but I'm still uncertain.

The problem resides in what to make for the shop. I am still in my confines of trying not to buy any new supplies but I would really like to try out doing some hair clips and barrettes to help round my shop out. So far it's mostly pins (which I know not everyone uses) and a few bags. While I love making the bags I feel like this is already a saturated market and with the amount of time and work involved, I'm not sure if it's worth it. Yes, I like making them, but I don't want them to sit around waiting for homes in my box of merchandise. I know I don't have a need for 10 different plarn bags and only so many people love getting homemade gifts every freaking Christmas or holiday. I don't want to be the lady who you smile and thank while you secretly plot to put the gift in your next bag to Goodwill. 

I think overall I just need to focus. There are so many crafts and things I enjoy doing well but what should I put in my Etsy shop? I don't want it to feel much like myself; a colorful explosion of miscellaneous interesting crafts all mixed together until it resembles vomit. While interesting, the image is not appealing.

If you have a moment, give my shop, ArtsofEska a look and tell me what you like and what you would like to see more of. I'd love more input.

May 17, 2011

Plarn Clutch Purse

I finished another project. Cheers for me!!

Well, this was actually a side project. Originally, I had crocheted a rectangle of plarn for one side of a tote bag I was working on. Well, I didn't count right (silly me) and by the time I realized it, I was too far along to force myself to unravel it all. Instead, I created this clutch bag from that side panel piece.

I was inspired by some more mod clutch bags with the cut out handles. I personally prefer handles on my bags because I feel like I need something to hold on to. Otherwise I will drop it or forget it. This clutch  features my (recent favorite) wave stitch in my traditional colors of blue, white and brown plastic bags.
Overall View

 Side View

 Detail of the rectangular handles

 The full lining of white muslin was hand stitched to the inside,  making it invisible on the outside. 

I am not completely happy with how it turned out so I will call this a 'sample'. I feel like I need to reinforce the cut out handles, perhaps with felt to make them sturdier. Also, I will modify how I finish the edge of the outside crochet piece next time. 

What do you think?

Ten Dollar Tuesdays #2

Continuing on with my Ten Dollar Tuesday on Etsy theme, I bring you this week's finds.  This time I thought I would incorporate a 'holiday' in with it as I found today to be the Merry-Go-Round's Birthday on Holidays for Everyday.

So, I present you with my Merry-Go-Round Ten Dollar Tuesday
I really love the colors and hazy dream qualities of this print. I think it would be beautiful in my daughter's room. It's feminine but not pink and lace all over.  

Funny Card Getting off the Merry Go Round
This card is just too funny. How can it be so pretty but be a break up card at the same time? I love that juxtaposition. In fact, all her cards are so tongue in cheek. I think I have a new love.
$2.99 by Jailbird

I like the simplicity of this design and I'm a sucker for silver. 
$10.00 by bunnyboutique

May 13, 2011

Books are Amazing

With my latest obsession being sewing I have noticed an empty space in my fabric library. I've got some great books, but I want more. So here I am going to share with you some books that have made it with me for over 10 years from fashion design school to working mom. Afterwards I will give you my wish list of books. Perhaps I'll send my husband to this link when my birthday comes around this year.

My Library
Patternmaking for Fashion Design- probably not a 'sewing' book but it's great for understanding patterns, how to make your own and how to adjust ready made clothing/commercial patterns.
Fabric Glossary and Fabric Reference - these MUST go hand in hand. It is a wonderful tactile book on the many different types of fabrics.
More Fabric Savvy - this is a great cheat sheet of fabrics and their applications. The fabric glossary is a great reference and Fabric Savvy is the way to apply that info.
(others I can't recall right now because my sick brain hurts)

My Wishlist
Shadowfolds- A book on folding techniques for fabric
The Art of Manipulating Fabric -this book was a reference for a woman who designed for St. John's Bay who came to visit us in school. If she finds it great, it must be true.
Complete Guide to Sewing - I keep hearing this is the move complete guide to sewing but only with the older editions. Many reviews say that the newer additions are more abridged and incomplete in comparison.

List of Current Projects

I am creating this list as a record to myself. I don't do this often because I feel overwhelmed and scared when I have the list sitting there, looming on paper, staring at me with it's multitude of items. But, I thought this might help me this time as some of these projects do have deadlines. Most of them time they do not. The deadline for those is usually "when do I want it done".

The List of Unfinished Craft Projects

Lolita 3-tiered skirt
Red coiled basket
Purple coiled basket
Aqua circle scarf
Aqua fun fur scarf (no relation)
Earth-toned woolly scarf
Plarn clutch purse lining
Second clutch purse
Star pins
Flower clips
and probably a few I can't remember right now.

(crossing off as I go)

May 11, 2011

Projects, projects

I've been trying to work on old unfinished projects but keep stopping. I'm starting to wonder if they have remained unfinished because I really don't like them that much. Or perhaps I get so involved with them that the enthusiasm and vigor burns out quickly and before the item gets finished.

Nonetheless, I am working on completing a few new (old) things to add to my pile.

Here are some little stars and flowers made out of plarn. I'm trying to figure out a way to make the star points not curl.

This is a coiled basket out of wool yarn.

Here you can see the detail of the last few rows I'm working on. 

I probably never mentioned it but I really enjoy coiling. All you need is a few supplies and you can have a brand new item. My favorite part of it has to be how you can start and stop often, unlike some other activities. And did I mention it's easily transported? No need to lug around a big tote bag, sewing machine or loom. Which I think is very important when you have children who don't stay asleep or want to crawl all over you at random times.

Also, today I have been blessed with a sunny, bright cheerful day with little wind. I might actually get to take some photos of a few purses that need listed on etsy. Last time I took photos the weather was not nice and they came out terrible. 

May 10, 2011

Making Fabric Last

I've got the sewing bug lately (in case you haven't noticed) and much like other crafters I have a supply hoarding problem. If a crafter claims that they don't have a hoarding problem, it's called denial.

Lately I've been wanting to make maternity dresses and tops for myself but have limitations. My limitation is to not buy more fabric and use what I have. This would seem easy since I have yards upon yards. However, I have found that I usually only have a half yard or less of a single fabric. Couple that with a bulging belly, and it is not enough to make a nice shirt. 

So I decided to start an inspiration pile- ways to incorporate two or more fabrics without looking like Raggedy Ann or donning one of those horrid color block panel numbers famous in the 80s.



From BCBG MaxAzria

 Oasis Color Block Dress

Milly's Imara Dress


From BCBGMaxAzria

 From Charlotte Russe

From Charlotte Russe

From The Gap


From BCBGMazAzria

From a Pea in the Pod

 From Simply Vera, Vera Wang

Hopefully this pile will give me more inspiration and some fabulous maternity clothes.