My Tarte-y, Heart-y Birthday & Remnant Project

My less-than satisfactory blog photos of the past few months are partly the result of the Canon EOS20D having bitten the dust. DH took the 20D to the local camera shop to get it fixed. After the repair shop mailed it off to Canon, they sent it back with regrets: they don’t make the parts for these any more and so it can’t be fixed. Our only option is to take it to a dealer in a big city, like Orlando, and maybe an old-timer in the back room of a camera shop can fix it. They couldn’t even tell us what was wrong with it. The 20D was made from 2005 to 2006. It is now 2013 and no one can repair it? Aaargh.

So DH got me for a birthday present—as consolation for the functional obsolescence I feel from being older AND having a defunct camera, 2 new cameras to play with. One is a Canon Rebel which can use the same lens as the 20D. The other is the pocket-size Nikon Coolpix.

I snuck the Coolpix out of my purse to photograph our very romantic birthday dinner in the flickering oil-lamp light at Embers.

blackened filet mignon and colossal crab appetizer

blackened filet mignon and collossol crab appetizer

bronzed cobia with lobster mashed potatoes and grilled asparagus with Bearnaise sauce

bronzed cobia with lobster mashed potatoes and grilled asparagus with Bearnaise sauce

DH's braised short ribs with fire-roasted beefsteak tomatoes and caramelized onion blue cheese, and sauteed spinach

DH’s braised short ribs with fire-roasted beefsteak tomatoes and caramelized onion blue cheese, and sauteed spinach

this is the remains of our dessert, apple tarte tatin

this is the remains of our dessert, apple tarte tatin

The tiny Coolpix fits perfectly in a purse pocket, but I wanted it to have a bit more protection from bumps, so I made a little felted case for it, out of remnants.

felted wool remnants from a couple of old sweaters

felted wool remnants from a couple of old sweaters

I heart my new camera

I heart my new camera

Coolpix fits in case very snugly

Coolpix fits in case very snugly

The cost for this case was $0 because I had these scraps kicking around. I used hand-quilting thread to hand-sew the felted wool pieces together. I try to pick up old wool sweaters when I see them at yard sales and thrift shops. If they are not already felted from some laundry mishap, you can prepare woolens for felting (or “fulling” as it is more correctly called) by washing them in the machine in warm or hot water and making sure they agitate quite a bit. Drying in the dryer also accelerates the process, making stretchy knitted fabric turn into tight, shrunken, thick woolen material.

On the way home from the restaurant, we stopped at the grocery store to pick up an item we couldn’t do without. The plan was for me to run in and get it, while DH circled the parking lot and came around to pick me up. I made the purchase, went out the door and saw what appeared to be our car pulling up with a strange woman at the wheel. Then I realized that wasn’t our car after all, ours was parked out front but DH wasn’t in it. So I went out and climbed in. DH had gone in to use the restroom, and when he came out he saw what he thought was some strange hoodlum breaking into our car! Maybe I shouldn’t have gotten such a shorty-short haircut! I tell you, it’s heck to get old!

back view of my short haircut

back view of my short haircut

A little sewing, a little knitting, a little whatsit

I was inspired for this week’s postaweek project to combine knitting with sewing after I was notified that I won this Burda FiberPlay contest . I have already gotten the Laura Zukaite knitting books in the mail, and they are thrilling! I can’t wait to read them more thoroughly and choose a design to work on. The instructions look to be logical, and thank goodness they are all rated as to level of difficulty.  Zukaite explores and explains the process of designing and experimenting with fibers. Excellent food for thought, and more depth than the average knitting book, more focus on high  fashion rather than DIYing. I love all the background info, history, and thought processes of people who feel compelled to work with threads.

This week’s project idea is not new, it’s similar to what I did with the Go Gators! felted wool purse. It is also a purse, but I knitted the purse and strap my very own self!
I started with a couple of skeins of Sensations Angel Hair 22% wool, 50% acrylic, 28% nylon yarn that I got on sale; I wanted to just knit something without a pattern and see where it led me. I tried doing about 5 rows of stockinette and then a row of purl. Somewhere the pattern got boogered up so technically it needed to be shipped to the Island of Misfit Toys, but I persisted.
I found a remnant for the lining, a white-silver lamee piece dated 2005.

Silver lamee remnant

And, never doubting, I found a zipper in my extensive stash that was a good fit, and with plastic teeth.

9" sturdy zipper

I sewed the zipper onto the lining, then seamed the edges, and sewed lining to knit at the edges of the zipper tapes. I had to finish the ends of the zipper with hand-quilting thread, as the machine balked at the angle of the plastic zipper teeth.

Sewing lining with attached zipper to purse opening

Did I mention that the cats love this purse? They can’t get enough of it. Normally I try to keep them out of the sewing room, but they seek out the woolly bully–usually whatever I’m knitting–and ecstatically try to knead it and sniff into digestion its animal essence.

Paulie, wanting a rendezvous with the woolly bully

I had another remnant, a scarf which is the first thing I made when I started knitting again a few months ago. Since it is rather short for a scarf, and not pretty, I did not hesitate to felt it for use as an embellishment.

Heather green wool scarf, before felting

It was felted in the washing machine and dryer once, and then cut and sewn onto the purse.

Knit purse with felted wool decorations

I learned how to make the felted roses from Felt It, Stitch It, Fabulous, an amazingly inspiring book of projects by Kathryn Tidwell Bieber. This red rose was once part of an old wool sweater that I bought at a yard sale. The strap is knitted in seed stitch. The zipper pull fob is a rhinestone ball button from my bead and button collection, applied with thin plastic-coated wire (if you click on the pic you can barely see it sparkling in the upper left of the same-color purse body). You can also see this project at My Studio on the Burdastyle site.

By the way, I finished the top that goes with the remnant Goth skirt from last week. That wonderful Nancy Zieman pattern McCall’s M6247 includes the skirt, this top, a sleeveless shell, pants, and a jacket with a sash. Which belt do you like best?

D-ring self-fabric belt

Bullet belt

Brass brad studded black waist cincher

Original Sewing and Quilt Expo Lakeland

I was WOW! blessed to be able to go with a group on a tour bus hired by A1 Sewing. It was a great value for $45 which included admission to the Expo ($10), a cool pin, one free class at the event, and a rather large shopping bag. The bus ride down and back had us viewing several instructional dvd’s on the drop down TV screens, featuring Sue Hausman, Joyce Drexler, and other wonderful artists. I think gas for just the drive down and back would have been at least $35 and I did not have to do the driving, yay.  I met a couple of interesting, fun people, and just had a fabulous day.

At the "station" - A1 Sewing-- early in the morning, the Gator bus

FYI, the Expo is still going on at Lakeland Friday and Saturday. Go to http://www.sewingexpo.com for the all the info.

I started out snapping photos right and left, because the sights to see were truly amazing. Then one of the exhibitors told me I was being rude, taking pics without permission, and I was pointed to one of about a thousand signs proclaiming that photography of the quilts was PROHIBITED unless you buy the pattern/kit. And, duh, I had to agree that these quilts and projects are original works of art, and how easy is it to copy someone’s design and take credit for it? We have the upper echelon of designers, then producers, then distributors, then end users, then the bottom feeders like me who try to get the best for way less using coupons and remnants. But I do give credit where credit is due  with sources, patterns, instructions.

Sewing and Quilt Expo a-go-go

My faves:

1) Batiks from  Color by Hand in Ky

African (left) and Indonesian (rt) batiks

2) The African fabrics from Beba’s

African fabrics from Beba

3) The Japanese fabric from SomeArtFabric.com–I love that their business cards say, “Colleen Maria Casey, Enabler” ha, ha! “We sell fabric, wanna make something out of it?”

Kokka Japanese fabric from Some Art Fabric

4) The wool patchwork and everything else from Primitive Gatherings. This booth was my all-time favorite, because of the sumptuous colors, textures, and organization of their wares

Kit for woollen table mat with Valdani thread, Primitive Gatherings

5) The fabulous jackets made from sweatshirts, even though the mic was malfunctioning during that show.

6) Marathon Thread Guy’s stabilizers (Badge Master) and notions, glow in the dark and solar activated threads.

7) Vogue fabric booth –far from being the pinnacle of fashion, it was a huge collection of fabric remnants, notions, old how to books and junk in bins, a la yard sale (I snagged a bag of 50 non-invisible  zippers for $7).

8) The Fasturn booth had a Make/Take project of a celtic knot wrist band, but I didn’t participate. I was fascinated by their fabric tube turner tools, but not enough to pay the $64 for them. One lady said she’d pay ANYTHING for them.

There were about 8 or 10 Make and Take projects going on at all hours, at great prices.

9) Silk scarves embellished with woollen fiber roving. Another make/take that I didn’t sit in on, but found to be gorgeous. From Sew Artfully Yours, Inc. at http://www.sewingart.com.

Silk scarf and roving

Things I noted:

1) The audience was overwhelmingly the 50+ curly perm cohort in shades of gray from white with carrot red streaks to steely, with a sprinkling of those unlikely hair colors that Revlon provides, and all manner of roots prominent. The few younger women in the group really stood out in contrast. I saw 2 kids there the whole day, a ten year old boy who was darting through the crowd with a wild look in his eyes, and a little girl who looked bored.

2) All representations of fat were on display, from spare tire to Jabba the Hut on a Hover-round.  We need to all jump up from our sewing machines en masse and take a power walk, quick, before the French fries settle on our hips more.

3) While I was standing in line to pay for something, behind an elderly couple, the old man turned around to me, licked his index finger, pressed it on my arm and said “Tssss.” As I stood there gaping at him, he said, “Well, you deserved it!” Suggested interpretation:  in that crowd, I’m a super hottie? That both intrigues and horrifies me.

4) On the way home, I texted my husband to tell him we had just passed Cafe Risque, so he’d know about how long it would take for me to get home, and the iPhone automatically added the accent aigu to the e in risque. 🙂

4) I told him that my view of the sewing universe is decidedly less glamorous after that trip. I still haven’t really found my niche.

Woolly gator redo

This week’s project starts with the remnant of a felted wool sweater.

Sweater, with sleeves cut off

Years ago, my friend Fay and I used to spend Saturdays trolling the yard sale market in Marion County. This gorgeous woolly bully was one of a bonanza of sweaters that were displayed in the sweltering heat of August, going for $1 each. If I’d had $50 left I would have bought them all, because I love woolly sweaters, but I only had $3 or $4 left from my YS fund that day, sadly. Some had tags saying “Made in—” Iceland, Russia, Ireland, even some South American countries where our summer is their winter. I cut off the sleeves and made mittens from this in a previous blog post “Warm, woolly woollens for Fall,” I think.

Embroidering the felted wool

When I looked at what was left, I thought “purse.”

More specifically, “gator purse.”

I know I’ve got some collegiate gator fabric remnants in the barrel.

The first step was to make the creamy white and brown look a little bit gator, by adding some orange and blue.

Here is what will be the purse body, cut on one side because there’s no way I could have effectively made this sit flat on top of the hoop unless I opened up a seam. No worries, once the knit has been felted in the washer and dryer, you can cut it up and the knit won’t ravel. To felt wool sweaters, throw them in the washer with a very miniscule amount of detergent, wash on warm, then dry in the dryer on normal. You can throw a towel in there with the sweater to give it something to agitate against. If the resulting felted sweater is not shrunk to your liking, you can repeat the washing and drying and it will felt further.

I chose to machine embroider “GO GATORS!” on the purse in an Orange and Blue Athletic font that was included in my machine software.

I used 2 layers of cut-away stabilizer with a spray adhesive so that the sweater would stick on the top layer. I didn’t try to hoop the heavy layer of felted wool; I had visions of the hoop popping off during the stitch-out–horrors! Then I added a Solvy topper and basted the design area with the machine so it wouldn’t have a chance to shift around during the process.

Would you believe there are over 27,000 stitches in GO GATORS! and it took almost an hour to stitch out.

I was running around monitoring the stitch-out like a crazed mother hen, because things kept going wrong: the bobbin thread was bird-nesting underneath, the thread was shredding as it came out and causing “check thread” messages every 5 minutes. Finally I switched from Robison-Anton rayon to Robison-Anton polyester, got another bobbin and needle, and the machine seemed more at peace. Funny, at the Viking store here, the proprietors recommend RA rayon thread but the guy at the Janome store in Ocala only sells RA polyester and thinks everything else is no good. Later, Glenn at A-1 found that there was a little rough thing inside the thread path, and I haven’t had any problems since (knock on wood!)

With the ever-present gator fabric lining

I cut out some gator fabric for the lining and for the tabs to attach the purse handles.

The handles came from JoAnn Fabric, using a coupon of course.

I sewed the lining to the sweater fabric with a machine-overlock stitch. I started with a straight stitch, but the fabrics kept slipping. The overlock reached out and grabbed everything in a very satisfactory manner.

Felted wool takes machine stitching amazingly well.

I did hand-sew the seam at the side and bottom of the sweater, with hand-quilting thread.

Maybe I’ll put a magnet closure on at the top; depends on how paranoid I feel about getting pick-pocketed while out at a game.

Orange! Blue! Remnant Redo!

The blue ribbon and gator head fabric motif cut-out finished it off. It was hand-stitched on for a bit of whimsy.

You can also go to my studio on Burda Style and download a pdf that shows how I made this.

http://www.burdastyle.com/projects/felted-wool-gator-purse

Practice for the security check, see? No contraband in here!

Warm woolley woollens for fall

All right, who am I kidding? I live in Florida: fall is 79 degrees if you’re lucky. But we have been able to discern a little coolness in the air, so I’m excited to be doing some remnant redo’s of old wool sweaters, which seem to be plentiful at yard sales. Northerners come down here to live, and sell off all their cold-weather clothes, cheap!

 

mittens

 

These mittens were formerly the sleeves of a very warm sweater made in Iceland, which I got at a yard sale one sweltering August for $1.  I think they will go in a package to Provo, where we have some Florida-bred children transplanted, who are  in line to see what a snowy winter is really like.

Next is an Irish cableknit sweater which, when felted in the washing machine, shrank up to a very dense wool fabric.

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