Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Bryan's Christmas Pants 2020

I spent a lot of time at fabric stores purchasing mask fabric this year.  Every time I had to actually go in to JoAnn's I noticed this Nightmare Before Christmas fuzzy fleece fabric.  I'm not usually a fan of this thick polyester stuff but I just kept thinking about what I could make for Bryan out of this fabric. I eventually realized that his comfy Storm Trooper pants were a little worse for wear and he could probably use another pair of fleece pants for around the house...this is the perfect project for that fabric! 

I picked up this pajama pant pattern from Seams Fabric called the Eastwood Pajamas by Thread Theory.  They have 3 options varying in difficulty for these pants, of course, I did the most complicated pattern knowing that I would learn something about garment making along the way. Bryan is really tall and pants are a hard fit for him, especially in a tall and skinny fit. While making these I added 3 inches to the length of the leg in this pattern so they wouldn't be waders like his other ones.

I usually think I know more than I do when I start making a piece of clothing. I read through the directions a number of times, looked for some videos online, tried to visually prep myself.

All the parts of the fly were really confusing to me.  I know that I need to follow the pattern line by line and that it'll eventually make {more} sense than if I was to try to do it without a pattern. I cut all the pieces I needed but I still wanted a better visual.  Thankfully Thread Theory has a blog and posts their pattern details. This particular post was SO helpful in making these pants:

Now since I was using much heavier fabric than the pattern calls for I had already decided not to create a button-fly, just one where the fly would open/be useful.  It still didn't make sense with all of the pieces but I pushed forward. I turns out I could do one less layer of fabric since I didn't need to hide a button in the fly, which is good because the fabric thickness was building up fast. 

(The really important thing on the above step was to stitch the rectangle panel only to the right edge of the inside hem, not through all the layers because that would close up the fly)

Pinning fly for top-stitching 


I was not going to put in the extra work into making the tie out of the same fabric. After looking at grosgrain ribbon options and other ideas I ultimately decided using the current fabric would be the best thing. I cut a 2-inch wide strip and folded it in on itself, pinned it and zigzag stitched it.

Button-hole stithced around the tie-holes

I still need to finish the bottom hem of the pants but I think they're a hit.

Saturday, December 26, 2020

Winding Warp #2 for "Is There a Thing to Which Brings Us Less Joy Yet We Devote More Time"

I figure I'll try to video most of this weaving process in time lapse, just for fun.  Here's another 2+ hours of warp winding. I remember to stop and do some stretchs this time. I do not remember to count at the end of winding the grey so there's some backing up and re-winding on to the ball of thread. 

 The colors for this second warp are grey with pops of citrus colors. There's more information on the first warp winding post for this weaving HERE

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Winding Warp #1 for "Is There a Thing to Which Brings Us Less Joy Yet We Devote More Time"


This piece is probably 2 or more years in to the thought/design process. These start by floating around in my head and in sketchbooks before I finally getting around to drafting the design, printing/taping it and choosing colors to then starting to wind the warp.  2020 seems to be a good time for the culmination of this piece as we have become more dependant than ever on keeping in touch through Zoom, social media and having a general dependance on the internet; yet it also becomes the thing that can mess with our psyche the most.

As far as color I wanted to go dark on this piece, I even thought about black on black but I'm not up for driving myself crazy while weaving in 2021. I decided on a black warp and a grey warp. I also have to admit to myself that there are some little, occasional, bursts on positive things that happen over social media so I picked a few colors to put into each warp.  Just one strand every 10 or so ends. 

The above time lapse video is 2 hours into 3 minutes.  I'm winding the first warp and the strands of color that will go into this warp. You can also tell when I'm counting warp threads that I'm watching TV (Blacklist, so good).  Even with a warping wheel winding the warp is a tedious process. 

I made a small sample wrap to get a color idea before I started winding this warp.  I rarely do this, but I'm not used to working in black and grey with little other color.  The sample shows the color coming in every 7th warp but I decided I want them more spaced-out so it's about double the amount of black between the strands.

Once I have 3-4 solid hours I'll get the next warp wound. 

Sunday, December 6, 2020

Design Process: Putting Together My Cartoon


This is my very first time lapse video! So bear with me as it's not the most flattering view, but it's about an hour of work sped up 30x showing how I put together the cartoon for my next weaving. 

I started by designing this in Photoshop.  Once I have the file layers merged and resized to the width of my warp I'm ready to print.  I could take the file over to Staples and have them print it out on one big sheet, but I've found that cutting and taping the cartoon together helps me get to know what's going on with the image that I'll be looking at under my warp. I can also make any alterations to the design at home on the spot. 

So I guess here's a sneak peek of the design for my next piece.  I have not finished the large Leaf Me Alone piece yet, I needed a break from it, along with a change of color. 

Thursday, December 3, 2020

Angle Color Block Bangle and Earrings

I was quarantined at home last week after spiking a fever and having to get the COVID-19 nose-swab. While I waited to get my results back to get back to work (they were negative) I had some time to flush out this bangle pattern.  I had pulled the brown and white beads aside months ago but I kept having mask orders come in so the beads and the idea were set aside. Between naps and watching all of the Star Wars movies in a row I got this bangle and earring set completed.

It's not perfect, the one end doesn’t quite line up like it should but I wore it one day and never noticed so it's not a huge bother.  This design translated to earrings easily and I am really happy with the set. 

I had decided I didn't want the earrings to be too ridiculously long. So I created the first pair without the brown bottom block.  My curiosity got the best of me and I decided to make a long version too. It turns out that I like the longer version so much that I'm keeping it in my at-home stock so I can wear them whenever I want.  The long earrings ended up being 3.25 inches from tip of earwire to the bottom of the earring. One of the reasons I'm really into long earrings right now is that they still stick out when you're wearing a mask all day. You could still see these despite my mask, beanie and pigtails at work yesterday. 

The bangle and shorter (2.75 inches) set of earrings went over to the Lansing Art Gallery today. You can shop online with the Lansing Art Gallery now and also make an appointment on their website to shop in-person. Make a shopping appointment HEREGallery online shop is HERE. I also dropped of the 70's-inspired rainbow bangle and 2 of the earrings set today. 

Me wearing the extra-long ones, getting ready for work yesterday,

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Dolman Sweater

This sweater began with an award from a Michigan League of Handweavers Fiber Art Exhibit during the last Conference. My award was a gift certificate from Threadbender Yarn Shop. I decided to peruse the selection they had at the vendor's market.  I kept eyeing this yellow and fuchsia yarn, I had no idea what I wanted to make with it, and usually it just ends up in my stash as some sort of accent yarn to use for tapestry or Theo Moorman inlay.  Rather than adding this yarn to my stash I obsessed over it. I looked through hundreds of Ravelry patterns and against better judgement I decided I couldn't find a pattern I liked so I'd make one up as I went along. I had the idea in mind and I have just enough knitting knowledge to be dangerous. 

I knit samples for the first time ever, just to check gauge and make sure my yarn blending was going to be about what I imagined in my head. I had decided to knit a dolman style sweater; I kept being attracted to this style at Talbots and figured the slow increase would be simple enough to make up as I knit.  I had been knitting a lot of socks at AA meetings and I thought it was time to make something larger for myself. As this piece grew I realized I needed more yarn, I picked some up at Woven Art to blend in, but as I got to the yellow top I started to panic.  Thankfully I found some left in a yarn shop that posted on Amazon.  I could have made this a little bit longer now that I'm looking at the finished piece but I was too nervous that I'd run out of the yarn again and I wanted the sleeves/cuffs to be a solid yellow. 

I thought for sure that I'd have to flip this piece inside out and stitch the side seams up for a better fit, but as it turns out it's the perfect comfy, slouchy weight that I wanted.  I knitted this sweater using 2 strands of Manos Del Uruguay lace weight yarn on a size 4 needle. I'm guessing it took me just over a year to finish, I kept putting it down to think it over, wait for yarn, or I just wasn't into knitting in the evenings. With this quarantine all I have wanted to do is knit and hand stitch.  There's something really soothing about knitting, it's good for the soul while the world spins outside.  Which I need because I spiked a fever yesterday, freaked out, had to call in to work and go get tested. So now I wait. I am hoping it's just a seasonal cold because from what I've read the symptoms of COVID are similar. Let's hope that's all it is. I'm very thankful that I love hunkering down and being home with Bryan and the kitties. 

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Off the loom: Leaf Me Alone (Full Sized) Update

I posted to my social media on Tuesday that I was becoming entranced with the beauty of simple plain weaving with hand-dyed threads as I wove off the last couple feet of the Leaf Me Alone (full size) warp.  Usually plain weave seems boring to me at this point but I think I was jsut happy to be back to my weaving since mask-making has taken over my year.  Even though I had no intention of getting on to the finishing portion of this piece, I still chose to cut it off the loom. Cutting a weaving off the loom to get a good full look at the final product tends to be a big deal.  Tuesday I cut it off, fixed a threading error from the warp so it won't happen if I decide to use it to tie the next warp to it and I threw it over the front beam, walked out the studio and closed the door.  I opened up the draft of the next design I'm working on and spent the remainder of the day working on that between chores. 

It wasn't until the evening that I really realized I hadn't taken a good look at the weaving I had just cut off and left. I had no clue why I was so lack-luster about getting to see the double weave and why I had started dreaming of things to make with the plain weave portion instead of staying focused on Leaf Me Alone.  It's this:  I've already woven this piece, smaller versions, but the same colors, same words.  I'm so bored with the colors! I think I need to leave this one lie for a bit before I can get back to it.  It will have a leaf panel with beaded and stitched pieces, so I'm working on that too, but here I am, completely over a piece before it's even done.  

In the meantime, I'm really really excited about this next piece, I finally have an idea of colors which I may be needing to dye for it (yay!).  It's going to be a similar look or feel to my other work but it's more for the times so I have to get it done before certain things, such as logos, become obsolete. The title of it came to me on an episode of Live From Here with Chris Thile, it's called "Is There A Thing To Which Brings Us Less Joy" More about that to come later. 

Until then, I'm finalizing the next design and the cats are stacking up around here. :)

Lois and Clark, 2 of our 3 kitties

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Zoom Workshop with David Owen Hastings

I'm so grateful and fortunate that as a member of the Ann Arbor Fiberarts Guild the board has worked hard to move meetings to Zoom so we can meet virtually.  They have also teamed up with the Needlework and Textile Guild of Michigan to share meetings, speakers and workshops.  This month NTGM had David Owen Hastings as their speaker.  After seeing some of his pieces I made sure to take work off for his lecture.  I really appreciate seeing someone's creative process and hearing them speak before I take a workshop with them.  I actually try not to take workshops very often because I can easily get distracted from my own artwork goals. I decided I needed something to look forward to on the day one of his workshops was being offered.  I happened to have that day off and it was dreary and raining so I couldn't work on my garage roof.  I have also been asked if I am willing to teach workshops on Zoom and I wanted to see how a workshop which is usually "hands on" would work in this manner.

After Mary R. posted her paper collage pieces on the Ann Arbor Guild's Facebook Member Page I talked myself right into this workshop that they were having again the following week.  I've done some sewing with paper in the past and I've never gotten too hooked on paper projects so I figured this would be safe to play for a few hours and put it down.  The above piece is the first one I created.  I love that I didn't have to go get anything extra for this workshop, we used stuff I already had at home and David's materials prep list had alternates for things if you didn't have them on hand.  Like I used post-its to frame up the strips on the base paper but I'm probably going to pick up some painters tape at work for ease of this particular process.  The above piece was my first one and I might have gotten hooked immediately.  Next I just wanted to see what the paper strips looked like I ruled notepaper; I didn't like it as much as seen below.

For my third little piece I went back to the brown paper bag square as a base, it's just a nice subtle background with a hint of texture. This workshop gave me a little nudge out of my 2020 studio-box of mask making and some weaving.  I've also been knitting in the evenings instead of beading, but that's not in the studio.

I have to admit I struggled with the second half of the class.  The process of cutting and turning and flipping pieces of paper until they looked satisfactory felt more like I was trying to make a puzzle work that wasn't meant to be a puzzle.  I solved part of my issue with a purple sheer vellum and called it good.  I'm fairly pleased with how the below piece turned out, mostly because I like the color pallet.

I recall as I was spinning and moving these pieces of paper around to make a thing, anything, that I could quit and be happy with the first portion and go back to playing with the strips which were easy for me.  Instead I pressed on because workshops are about a little bit of fun challenge and learning new techniques. As with many of my pieces, I thought "well I'm not doing that again" but as I let the process of flipping pieces of text around in paper, the thought occured to me that I could do this with a single text in my own work.  I do a lot of layering words and fonts in my weavings, I love to give viewers hints of words, jumble them so that people start to see what they relate to in word pieces rather than wondering what I'm getting at.  This process that David taught us is definitely going to transfer into my work at some point.  Something I didn't really feel like doing at the time ends up being a big "ah ha!" days, weeks later.

I also have to point out my big sewing take-away from David.  He uses a 1-inch strip of fabric to start and end the thread as he sews pieces on his machine.  Holy moly, I can't believe I've never heard of this before.  With all of my mask sewing (and now paper) this is going to be a thread and tension saver.  I love getting those random tips and tricks that will change the way you do something (machine sew) for ease and comfort.  That is a good reminder of why I need to take more workshops, the best way to learn is from each other.  

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Diane's Gunmetal Mask, Dressy Masks

Diane's Gunmetal Mask, photo credit Bryan Johnson

Mask making continues for me this year and this request was really fun to work on.  Diane has a wedding to go to in October and requested a dressy mask to go with the outfit she's wearing.  I sent her a few fabric and bead samples, she picked one, and then I ran with it. 

Diane's Gunmetal Mask, detail, photo credit Bryan Johnson

I initially had thought about keeping the design super simple and just beading the edging of the mask.  I've been wearing a mask for 40+ hours a week since March and realized that having glinting shiny beads right in front of the eyes was not going to be comfortable, plus the glasses she wears.  So I started sketching some other designs.  Diane's outfit has some uneven or angled hem lines so I decided to use that idea, still keeping the beadwork simple. 

Diane's Gunmetal Mask, photo credit Bryan Johnson

I am in love with how this mask turned out!  If I have someplace dressy to go, I'll be making myself one also.  We're really not going anywhere until all this calms down though, so I don't see me needing one for a while.  This may be a little much for working at Home Depot. Ha.

Diane's Gunmetal Mask, detail, photo credit Bryan Johnson

I had a difficult time narrowing down the photos that Bryan took so you get a few different angles.  Yes, I'm wearing a wig, it's so much easier than doing my hair and I wanted to add a fun twist on these photos anyway.  I got it together in the nick of time for the Ann Arbor Fiberarts Guild's online COVID Mask Exhibit too. 

Diane's Gunmetal Mask, detail, photo credit Bryan Johnson

This mask has a partner, Diane's husband requested a "vineyard theme" mask and I took to Spoonflower to find designs.  Even though I don't drink anymore I couldn't resist this print and her husband liked this best too: 

Paul's Satin Vineyard Mask

I purchased the vineyard fabric in satin and the fabric is just delicious. You can find this design and others in Bags29's shop on Spoonflower.  Check out the link HERE.

Paul's Satin Vineyard Mask and Diane's Gunmetal Mask

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Halloween and Side Sewing Projects

Mask making has got me thinking about all sorts of sewing and stitching. I have a collection of clothing that I have wanted to practice darning on and just haven't gotten to.  In the evenings when I'm braindead and poking around on Pinterest I created a board for darning and visible mending. I decided to go with something I couldn't really mess up, black on black with black embroidery floss.  Not exactly "visible" mending, but mending a large hole all the same.

I had to hide this hoodie of Bryan's in my studio because he'd just keep wearing it with the gaping holes in the elbows.  He didn't like the idea of fabric elbow patches so I decided it was time to hand-weave in fresh thread to create fabric. It has a post-apocolyptic feel to it, which seems appropriate with this pandemic going on.  

(Bryan in hoodie, half-awake)

I have been leaning into little projects that pop up in my head that are just for me, the house, us.  Knitting and sewing seems like less "work" than when I'm art-working.  I think that I have really needed this slow down in lecture prep, stress to create new work, etc.  I'll get back to it, but fun little projects and re-roofing my garage work have been very meditative for me. 

As I have been purchasing fabric for masks I sometimes want to make something else.  Next was my lunch bag.

I wanted the lunch bag to fit the take-out containers we love to reuse from Noodles and Company. The handled paper sack I was using finally gave out, and it was just a bit too small for my lunch purposes.  I looked at lunch bags and coolers online but I didn't want anything that large or that stiff.  I took some measurements based on the container and created a bag with a stiff bottom (using the extra firm stabalizer between the fabric) and a floppy top so it can fit in the shallow shelves in the work refrigerator. 

And the third project, Halloween Pillows! 

Ok, I only have 1 done, but it was SO quick and easy. I vaguley remembered learning how to sew piping into a seam when I took costume class in college.  I mostly remembered it being painfully obvious how easy it is for that little bit of extra to class up a seam.  I referenced this tutorial:  for the piping. 

And for the easy, no zipper, tuck-the-pillow-in-the-cover I followed this post:

I think I'll get the other pillow done tomorrow before I really get going on some dressy masks that I have been commissioned to make. 

Neon with Muted Greens and Tan Jewelry Multi Loop Checker Earrings and Bangle

Between perusing Pinterest for current color ideas and watching the movie  Poor Things  I had the urge to play more with the neon green-yell...