Monday, September 28, 2009

Craft Room Design and Repurposing

(crossposted at BlogHer)

It's a lazy Saturday afternoon; while I sit satisfying my college football habit,I'm re-evaluating what type of crafting I'm really going to be doing in the next year. With that re-evaluation will probably come a change in my crafting room design. It's been well over a year since I actively spent time in there; it's square footage that is not serving it's purpose. So I'm taking some time and figuring out what I want to have happen there.

What ISN'T happening: much sewing or any quilting. I have a vision problem that makes it hard for me to change focal lengths. If I stare at something close: reading, computer, crafting, etc.- I am unable to see clearly at normal distances for at least an hour. It's made easier by bright daylight but I've yet to find an arrangement of artificial light that can substitute. Given that I do a lot of work on my computer-I have to choose NOT to spend a lot time at other activities that demand close-focus work. My sewing and quilting has disappeared over the past few years, I'm comfortable now at saying that because of this vision challenge (which cannot be corrected by lenses or surgery), I have to move on.

My craft room, however, is still set up for sewing. I have a large tabletop surface that I used for cutting and separate desk area set up with my Pfaff and machine supplies. Now I'm NOT getting rid of the machine; but, I think I can:
  • pack up the sewing machine and take it out when I want to use it,
  • clear all my quilting rulers off the "cutting table",
  • stop thinking of it as a cutting table,
  • donate a lot of fabric and other quilting supplies to a crafting charity.
  • Sell the books I won't be using anymore on Amazon.
  • Think about the threads and other sewing supplies I've acquired. Which do I need to keep?
More importantly, what can I envision DOING in this room? I am still making some jewelry, doing some felting, knitting. I still want to learn more about screen printing. So while I may need to repurpose some of my storage, I think I'll have more space to use differently.

Now to imagine how to use that space.

The Artful Crafter was asked for tips on designing a craft room and she gives some great tips. Having an easy clean floor really is important, and thankfully I have already replaced the carpeting with porcelain tile.

Back in 2007, Fuzzy Noodle remodeled her craft room. I'm with her on falling in love with IKEA furniture.

Don't have a whole room to dedicate to crafting? Making This Home highlighted an efficient crafting space carved out of a closet.

Really want to get some idea about organizing a craft room? Check out all the Craft Room Photos posted on Flickr. This way you can note the things you like and the things you don't to make your room your own.

I also blog at: Weight for Deb and BlogHer on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

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Thursday, September 17, 2009

National Sewing Month: ReMake

crossposted at BlogHer

The themes of National Sewing Month are to ReUse, ReMake and ReStyle. This week, I will be looking at ideas and inspiration for ReMaking items.

EVEnl shared a great ReDo of a Tshirt shrug at Cut Out + Keep. With just some simple cutting, sewing a casing and adding some ribbon, we get the basic shape. Take a look, though, through the project gallery. By adding lace, yo-yo florets, diffrent ribbon styles -or even simply changing where the shrug is tied- different looks are created. LOVE.

JoAnne's Fabrics offers a free pattern for a felted laptop sleeve (pdf). While the directions call for using store-bought felt, I want to make one of these from a felted sweater. Diane Gilliland wrote a good basic tutorial on Felting Sweaters for CraftStylish. And if laptop sleeves aren't your bag (ooo bad pun), ThreadBangers has a nice round up of felted sweater projects including Leethal's own wool boots tutorial on craftster.

Nik at {appliance} came up with a great project: using 2 large scarves, she designed a wonderfully wearable scarf dress. You might not have enough time to create your own and enter the project sponsored by Sewing Republic and Burda Style (my challenge would be finding the scarves) but then maybe you do.

Kristen at Thimbly Things has been remaking clothing into skirts. First she made her Happy Friday Skirt from a dress, then she turned J. Crew pants into a skirt, too.

Got Neckties?'s Family crafts offers this great little project to turn an unused necktie into a small purse or cellphone case. (hat tip to Sweater Surgery for the link.)

Cassandra at Dandelion Bones seems to be taking the theme of ReMaking very seriously. She's reworked the same tank dress two times. Or is that three?? After completing the project once -and wearing the dress one day-she determined that it needed some reworking. So she cut off the skirt, improvised a new design and started sewing. Then:
There came that point where I was sewing along, perfectly proud that I was constructing without a pattern to guide me, and I stopped to flip the skirt right side out. One side was wonky. I had somehow pleated the length that should not have had any gathers. For a moment I was ready to quit, and I actually turned my machine off, unplugged it, and threw the "skirt" aside. I pouted for a minute, but I just couldn't bear the thought of that fabric going to waste, and I picked it up to look again. The solution was simple. It did involve a bit of seam ripping (which I just do not like at all,) but it didn't take long, and I revved the machine back up and finished.
The final project is so cute, that I'm sure she's glad she took the time to make it just what she wanted.

And finally, check out all the blogs that MaryAnne at Thrift Craft Mama highlighted in Favorite Sewing Blogs post.

I also blog at: Weight for Deb and BlogHer on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Craft Tutorials: Simple, Scrappy, and Quirky

Crafty Tutorials. Whenever I ask individuals what they want in a post, the loudest answer is always: MORE TUTORIALS. I spent some time scouring through some of the tutorials I've filed away and think this assortment of old and new items are perfect to share this week. Most are simple items, many use scraps and small bits of this or that. Cleaning your workroom? These might inspire you to use some of what you have. Need a quick pick-me-up craft that doesn't take much time? You'll find that here too. There is even something for after your project is finished.

Read through and tell me which are your favorites?

I remember making Paper Mache Bowls in school. With all the cuts in funding, I'm not sure that this type project is being taught anymore, but Jamie Ervin wrote a thorough tutorial at Crafting A Green World. These can decorated with paints, with words/images from magazines, with scrap fabric,wallpaper or wrapping paper. Anything to coordinate them to a decor or holiday.

Browsing through Zakka Life, I found this old -but still charming- project for making a Japanese Crest Felt Coaster.

Erin at Patchwork Underground found a great way to turn several scraps into a sexy leather halter top. Concerned because she's using animal skin? While Erin eats vegan, she explains:

Anyway, it’s for these reasons that I never buy new leather. I usually get it second hand. Politics aside, it is a superior material in a lot of ways and I figure it’s better not to waste it once its already been created. (Yes – people do see me wearing it and no - they don’t know that it’s recycled and, yes, this theoretically does encourage other people in their consumption of meat/leather products. No comment. Don’t really know what to do about it.)

My one request: Please, if you’re going to use this pattern, DON’T use brand new leather that you bought anonymously from the store. Find it, recycle it, hunt it and tan it yourself -whatever. Just be connected to and ok with where it came from. Or, heck, use the fake stuff. =)

Is it a wrap? A skirt? A cowl? This pattern can be worn several different ways-which makes it not only gorgeous, but one of those very versatile pieces. Uma Joy knit Myriad and shares the pattern with us. How many ways can you imagine wearing it?

At Leethal Quick Knits, Leethal is offering monthly quick knit kits to make quick and small objects. What can you make with her small quantities of yarn? While she will include a pattern suggestion, one of the obvious items to make are some of these little knit bracelets. I bet even I could knit a couple of these up in an evening (knits-slower-than-molasses-in-winter should be knitting name!) Then spend another evening adding pretty details with contrasting yarns. I see a quick car project here!

While we're on knitting, Lee Meredith created this funky thing - a fingerless glove-scarf-fingerless glove combo that is adorable and just quirky enough to appeal to those among us who are "hard-to-please"/individualistic in our fashion choices. Or just plain practical (I lost 2 pairs of fingerless gloves last year - but I bet if they were attached to a scarf I wouldn't!). Knitty liked it enough to publish it! Do you think Entwined is charming or just too strange for words?

VenusZine has directions for a Key Hole Necklace. As Justina Blakeney explains:
If you're anything like me, your jewelry box consists of single earrings, broken necklaces, and beads from bracelets past. With a new season in full swing, it’s time to resurrect those stray pieces into a sexy necklace that'll cost you a just a couple of dollars and about 20 minutes to make.

At I Love To Create, Allee Marderosian created custom lunchbags- using fabric dyes, paints, and gems. These are sturdy enough for a child to take to school, and pretty enough to grace a work desk.

If you make any of these fun crafty projects, you just may wish to share them on your own blog. To help you out with this, Alexa at Swell Designer wrote 3 Crafty Photography Tips. My favorite tip:
If you are taking your photo in poor lighting, you are setting yourself for a bad photo from the get go. Go next to a window with light streaming in or set up the photo next to a lamp (or two). Even though it's not "professional" studio lighting, it creates a much warmer glow. Now, here's the kicker...DON'T USE THE FLASH. People are soooooo addicted to flash and in certain circumstances it is neccessary, but if you have sufficient lighting, then most times you can get a good photo just from the light you are using and it's much crisper and more vibrant an image.
Hat Tip to Crafty Pod's Diane Gilliland for pointing some of these finds out to me.

I also blog at: Weight for Deb and BlogHer on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Welcome Back Macrame!

I've followed a number of the crafty trends during my life: crocheting granny squares into afghans and vests in the early 70s; needle pointing medevil scenes of unicorns and princess later that same decade. Moving to cross stitch when the monotony of filling backgrounds on needle point wore old. Quilting when cross-stitch lost it's challenge. Knitting when quilting finally stopped developing new things to try.

Crafting, like fashion, ebbs and flows. One obsession gives way to another. Since really there are no new crafts -merely new ways to look at them- it's not surprising that eventually every old craft is new again. With quilting slowing down, knitting apparently holding it's own as the current juggernaut of the crafting world, I was wondering what crafts will emerge soon from the past to become the shining star of the future.

And how will those old crafts be re-interpreted?

About this time, ebogie shared some jewelry she'd made and reminded me of old times when she said: Hemp Is Back!
With the anniversary of Woodstock, and more people going green and natural, I've noticed that hemp jewelry is being worn more. In the college town where I live, I see it on many of the students.
What struck me about the pretty bracelets she'd made was NOT that they were made from hemp -very pretty, BTW- but that they were made by macrame. According to Wikipedia,
Macramé or macramé is a form of textile-making using knotting rather than weaving or knitting. Its primary knots are the square knot and forms of hitching (full hitch and double half hitches). It has been used by sailors, especially in elaborate or ornamental knotting forms to decorate anything from knife handles to bottles to parts of ships
Thank goodness this definition says nothing about the thick nylon and acrylic cords tied into owls and plant hangers in the 60s and 70s. Anyone who lived through that is probably running in panic from the word. The definition places macrame in it's wider context. With knots, one can manipulate tension and shape in strands of fiber. This change in tension lets knotted textiles undulate and flow in ways that are difficult to achieve through weaving or looping (knitting or crochet).

Futuregirl admits that she is Under the Sway of Macrame Owls. She'd seen mention to macrame projects on blogs and websites in the recent past (come to think of it, so have I), and vaguely thought she should do something. It wasn't, however, until she hit upon some vintage crafts books that these vague feelings turned into an obsession:
Well, I had ignore the bee for most of the week because I had zero time to devote to macramé owls. But then Friday night I was able search around and try to find a macramé owl pattern. I'd decided to make one with embroidery floss as an homage to friendship bracelets. I was a little surprised (and a lot crestfallen) to find out that making a mini macramé owl wasn't an original idea (this one is cute and these are amazing). But after a couple moments of "aw shucks," my initial enthusiasm came back.
Note her word: mini macrame as that seems to be the way that macrame is manifesting itself this time around. Rather than the super-thick huge decorations I recall from the past, knotting is now being done with hemp, cotton crochet thread, embroidery floss. Thin, small, delicate fibers that make for charming delicate accessories. Craft offered a pattern for an IPod Cozy, there are several online tutorials for making friendship bracelets similar to ebogie's. Micro macrame jewelry-adding the curving, softening nature of knots to beads and other harder jeweled items- appears to be a growing accessory field.

Celtic Dream Weaver is tapping into the growing macrame vibe as Something Different:
I had been thinking awhile about trying my hand in micro macrame'. I might even do some designing on my own eventually once I start to feel more comfortable in doing this work and maybe marrying it to tatting. We will see what will happen with that as time goes buy (sic)...
Autumn Wiggins, at Crafting A Green World, points out why it's important to overlook macrame's unfortunate presence several decades ago, and why we should Tune In, Turn On, and Tie Knots:
Yes, I know what you’re thinking…plant hangers and googly eyed owls…haha. Make fun all you want, but you’ll be overlooking one of the most sustainable, inexpensive, and meditative craft techniques out there.

...Imagine cutting, then arranging thirty two 12ft lengths of hemp cord in front of you. As you begin to follow the pattern of knots, it becomes familiar and rhythmic. Much like a knitting groove, only more exotic. Your arms gracefully fling from side to side as they pull the knots through, while your fingers flutter about the strings. It’s like ballet dancing and playing the cello all at once from the waist up. I prefer to sit Indian style, and on the ground if possible. In the right setting this craft can be an introspective alternative to fidgety meditation. (Hey, yoga is not an option for people who drink as much coffee as me.)
I have a feeling that knots are building as a force in Craft. I noticed that last week two designers on Project Runway used the word "macrame" in describing parts of their design. Will you be jumping on this wave?

also blog at: Weight for Deb and BlogHer on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

What HAVE I Been doing?

It's really been a couple weeks since the last time I posted? I'm surprised. It really doesn't feel that way.

I've felt a bit unfocused the last couple weeks (is it the weather? possibly -it's been hot; the alignment of the stars? Sure, why not. other stuff interfering with my concentration? Most definitely.) but I still thought I was at least managing to cut and paste my BlogHer posts here every week.

Another FAIL. Oh well.

What have I been doing? I wish I could say that I've been accomplishing a whole of stuff.

  1. I made a fun crown to wear at a friend's 60th birthday party. A couple evenings of just have fun creating!
  2. I discovered that my camera needs repair. The lens-she is breaking. Want to find a local camera shop to help me determine if it's worth fixing.
  3. I've gotten back on the sock knitting train. Don't know why I took most of the summer off. I need this one pair of socks done before the weather turns.
  4. I've been writing. Not a whole lot that I can point to at the moment- lots of draft work and guest blogging and such.
And I'm studying for a new certification. It's not hard work-but takes time to understand and internalize. God, some days my brain feels so old!

I also blog at: Weight for Deb and BlogHer on Wednesdays and Saturdays.