Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Rivoli Urchin Necklace Kit B&B 2012

Florence Turnour and I will be teaching three classes together this year at the Bead & Button Show 2012, our first year ever going to this show.  This is one of the exact kits we will be offering with our Rivoli Urchin Necklace class.

Here is the sample for the Ubercube Necklace made with Infinity Weave.  This exact color scheme is not a kit, and the lampwork beads won't be included, but this necklace is the kind of thing you will learn to make in the class.  All of the materials will be included to make all of the beaded beads.

Here is a photo for a Bustier Beaded Bead Necklace, but I still have to design a kit or two with specific colors.  I'm hoping to offer at least two different color scheme kits for each class.  I hope to see you there.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Felt cuffs: It must be cold outside

If you love fiber, click on this photo:
It must be cold outside because all I want to do is make warm fuzzy things.  I hadn't made any felt cuffs in months, so I dragged out my collection of wool and other fiber delights, and I made these cuffs.  I sold out of all of my purple cuffs, so I went with purple and black, and again, purple fails to show its true colors in photos.  These photos show much more blue than what I see in the wool.  I think they're prettier in real life. See the listing for these felt cuffs.
And then I made this pair is similar colors but in a smaller size.  For these, I used yarn that I spun by hand to embellish the cuffs. The base of these cuffs are from a recycled wool sweater, so they are very stretchy, but the wool embellishments are firmly felted into place.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Furry Elf Slippers

In early November, I had the wonderful opportunity to spend some time with my good friend Zelda, who is, among many things, a costume wizard extroidenaire.  I presented her with the idea of designing a pair of slippers, something whimsical with a turned up toe.  I was thinking of something you might see on an elf or gnome, large and comical, much bigger than regular shoes to exaggerate the size of your foot because big feet are funny, and adding extra padding makes the slippers warm.  Zelda helped me imagine how the tops should look, and I drew a few pictures.  We decided that faux fur was the best choice, for so many reasons, not the least of which is the yards and yards of it stashed high up in the closet, leftovers from previous coat projects. 
I have never sewed slippers before, but I was confident that if I wasn't afraid to cut up and waste a bunch of fabric, paper and tape, I could eventually figure out a pattern.  That's what it takes to make a pattern.  You also need a needle and thread, a seam ripper, scissors, pencils, and patience.   I also used my sewing machine. 
To start, I traced and measured my foot, and drew a paper pattern that I used to cut the ugliest mustard yellow quilting cotton.  Ew.  I sewed it together, ripped it apart, pinned it, resewed it, inked in the lines, ripped it all apart, and made a new pattern.  I did that whole thing again in a different but equally ugly piece of fabric.  Two tries done, I realized that I needed to work on the lining FIRST, and THEN use that to design the fur pattern with the curling toe.  I was doing it backwards.  So I made another draft, but this time of the lining, something that conformed to the shape of my foot.  The lining took me two rounds of drafts, and then one more draft for the fur.  I made many adjustments at each draft. 
And then FINALLY, I was ready to cut some fur.  I knew my pattern was still wonky and unlikely to meet my vision perfectly, but it was good enough to make slippers, and my feet were cold. So I made a blue pair which are super comfy, but I didn't include enough ease in sole, which caused the toe to only curl up halfway.   My sister wanted them, so I traded for her home made chocolate covered caramel with two kinds of chile and salt. She also gave me a really ugly cookie, that I asked for in particular because I felt sorry for it in the beautiful bouquet of flower cookies.  It was yummy. 
Anyways, I altered the pattern again, and made myself a pair, finding only a few minor improvements, like trading in the icky polyester batting I was using for nice natural cotton batting.  Then I made the pair in the first two photos, and they are just the way I wanted them to be, so I put these slippers in my Etsy shop.  I think maybe I'd like to write up and sell this pattern.  I'm pretty happy with it.  They're super comfy.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Furry Hats with Ears and Horns

Making fuzzy hats with ears and horns makes me happy because people always seem to smile when they're wearing them.  People also seem to smile at me when I'm wearing mine.  We call ourselves Horny Hatters.

I'm offering two new hats for sale so you can be a Horny Hatter too.  I decided to start numbering them so I can keep track of how many I make.

Pink and Purple Horny Hat #13
I got a bundle of faux fur remnants from the fabric store, and this super thick fur was in the set.  I matched it with purple horns in cotton and a pretty purpley pink silk lining from my overflowing stash of silks. 
You know I love pure silk, right?  Well this one is particularly stunning, the way it shimmers in the light.

Blue Horny Hat #14
After making a pink one, I wanted to make one in boy colors.  Here you can see the blue one with the matching coat I made my sweetie. 
This blue one has especially big ears. I used a button clasp instead of pom-pom ties, just for a change.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Flashy Blue Labradorite Sunflower

I made this pendant by capturing a large labradorite coin bead with the fringe method for beading around a core bead.  In particular, I used variation of the Rivoli Sunflower design for the pendant.  I adore the blue glass beads in this piece and the way the inclusions shimmer in the light.  I think the shimmer works well with the blue flash of the labradorite stone.
For the necklace part, I used a variation herringbone weave that I described in my Toggle Clasp & Cable pattern.

For more information and to purchase this necklace, click the photos.  Thanks for looking.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Leopard Print Beading

I just listed this earring and pendant set made with my "picnic weave" but I think this color scheme looks more like a leopard print than a picnic blanket.

Although they look quite different, this weave is an easy variation of my Night Sky weave

Monday, November 28, 2011

Flower Ring Bouquet

If I had all of the time in the world, I'd make a large bouquet of beaded flowers like this.
This is a pile of Flower Rings made with the fringe method, a technique for weaving beaded beads that Florence Turnour figured out and showed me in 2004.  If you haven't tried the fringe method yet, check out this free beaded bead tutorial that Florence and I wrote together.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Wonka of Wonderland Top Hat #5

Last night, I finally finished a custom order for another top hat.   This one is number 5. 
This photo above is now the logo for RWS Associates.  What these photos don't convey is how springing this hat is.  If you bend the brim, it will spring right back into shape. 
What you also can't see is that inside of the silk and cotton fabrics are stiff double buckram and wire, which together, give this hat its form.  Double buckram is two layers of cotton fabric with a thick coating of sizing.  Sizing is a combination of glue and stiffener that can be re-wet with water or steam to sculpt it.  When it dries again, it stays in whatever shape you left it to dry.  To shape this hat, I only used a bit of steam as the wire is doing much of the work.  I really love the sculptural possibilities of wire and buckram, but they require a very firm grasp when working with them, and sewing through the buckram requires strong fingers.   

I figured out that sewing cut up felted wool sweaters is much easier on my hands.  So, now I make top hats with felt, like this one.
They are so soft, cozy, and comfortable that I also wrote and illustrated a tutorial on how to make a top hat with felted wool sweaters.  So you can make one too.
Want to own one of my hand made hats?  See what hats are for sale in my Etsy shop. Thanks for looking!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Steamy Ruffled Cuff

I had so much fun making the first one, I decided to do it again. 

Click the photo to see the listing.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Stripes and Lime Mini Dress, What's Not to Love?

If you have ever met me, you know I'm a sucker for anything lime green.  Anything... if it's a good shade of lime, I will probably buy it, or at least pick it up and linger over it for a while.  So, when I found this cotton jersey fabric in bright lime, I just had to buy it!  I matched it with some black and white striped cotton jersey to make this mini dress. 
Here you can see it on Marge, my dress form, framed by my Sarracenia plants in the foreground.  They've been eating well lately, by the way. You can even see how full of flies they are.  Eat up kids!
I actually made this dress twice to develop a pattern that fits me.  The first one was just generally too big, I measured the width of the back panels wrong, and to make matters worse, while I was trimming the last hem, I snipped a hole right into the fabric!@#$%  So I darned it, and will be giving it away to a friend.
The second one, in these photos, came out just right.  I love the long sleeves and high neckline for Fall. Below you can see the extra seaming in the back to give it a more fitted form.  I'm really tempted to keep this little dress, but a girl's gotta pay her bills.
Click on the photos to go to the listing in my Etsy shop.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Infinity Donut Beaded Beads

I finished two new kits for Infinity Donuts. What I like about this particular design is that it's made entirely out of seed beads (including drops) but the tension of the thread holds the piece open and hollow.  I also like that they have a lot of large holes; so you can string them in many different ways.  Here is the green kit.

And here is the red and gold kit.

Here is one of the old kits samples that I now have for sale in my Etsy shop, the finished beaded bead, in case you don't want to make one, but you still want to own one.
Click on the photos for more information.  Thanks for looking!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

For the Love of Silk Ribbon and Lace

Last time I was preparing to visit my friend Jennifer to teach at her bead shop, Naturally Jennifer's Gallery and Beads, she asked me if I had any clothing that I wanted to tie dye.  See, Jennifer had something around 30 buckets of dye set up in her garage because she was filling a large order of tie dyed t-shirts for a local music festival.  As luck would have it, I had just won a HUGE lot of silk charmeuse remnants on Ebay.  The fabrics were gorgeous, but some of the colors were a bit boring, like khaki, pale lavender and tan, and this was the perfect opportunity to make them beautiful with some hand dying.  Could Jennifer's dyes work with silk?  Sure they would!

I wanted a mottled look rather than a traditional tie dye, so Jennifer taught me to "artfully wad" my fabrics in large plastic tubs.  With over 30 colors to choose from, I poured maybe six different, related colors of dye into each tub.  Here is a photo of one little corner of the purple piece.   Pretty, isn't it?
These dyed silks have been sitting in my closet since Spring, patiently waiting for me to figure out how to use them.  Last night, I was browsing hand dyed silk ribbons on Etsy, and I saw that a few different vendors were selling ribbon with serged edges.  I realized that I could make ribbon by CUTTING strips of of silk from selvage to selvage, and then SERGE a rolled hem on both edges.  OMG!  I CAN MAKE SILK RIBBON AS WIDE AS I WANT!  See, if you've ever shopped for wide silk ribbon, you know it costs a small fortune, often around half the price you'd pay for 45" wide fabric.  Silk ribbon is a real luxury item, especially the wide, hand-dyed stuff, and as a consequence, I don't own any wide silk ribbon... until last night!
On my first try, I made a gorgeous yard of silk ribbon in purple and burgundy with black serger thread.  At nearly an inch, it's significantly wider than the narrow ribbons I own, and the fabric is a bit thicker as well.   Once the machine was set up and the strip was cut, sewing it was pretty quick and easy.  It's a little under an inch wide, over a yard long and I tapered both ends to a point.  I strung some beaded beads on it, but didn't love the way they hung because they weren't heavy enough to weigh down the ribbon,  So, I ruffled the ribbon by sewing a zig zag like in my Doceri drawing below.

I rolled up my silky ruffle to make flowers, folding and twisting it, this way and that.   I made some wiggly lines with it.  I sat at my cutting mat, rather mesmerized by this little ruffle, all soft and squishy with undulating colors that shimmer in the light like only silk charmeuse can do.  I became inspired:  I dug through my bags of lace, cut some pieces, and arranged them under my ruffle.  I tried some ribbon flowers.  Deciding a cuff would be a good project, I found a scrap of black rayon jersey fabric leftover from the lining of my new mini dresses, and I cut a rectangle about 8 inches wide.  Starting with the bottom layers of lace,  I sewed my appliques to the jersey, layer by layer.  I started with hand sewing, and switched to my machine where I could.  After all of the lace and ribbon was attached, I sewed on a few pressed glass flower beads.  Then, like making up a pillow, I attached a lining made from some purple cotton corduroy.  The corduroy lining makes the back soft, adds a little warmth, and hides all of the stitches and thread ends.   I left open a side seam to add elastic button loops, pinned the loops in place and finished the last bit by machine, which you can see running vertically below in black thread.  I finished it by attaching the buttons, sewing through all of the layers for stability.
As I sewed, I just kept thinking about how super girly girl this cuff is.  It's purple and rosy, with flowers, ruffles, and lace.  It's beyond girly.  It's not my normal style for sure.  I've heard people call it a "romantic" style.  My boyfriend called it "too much," but the girly girl in me really likes this kind of explosive overabundance of ribbon and lace.  A little part of me wants to be dressed head to toe like this, maybe just for a little while.  Yes, this style is a bit out of my normal aesthetic, but I like that it all started with a piece of beautiful purple, hand-dyed wide silk ribbon.  Yeah for Etsy.  Yeah for silk ribbon.  Yeah for inspiration.  
Click on the photos for more photos and information about purchasing this cuff.

Monday, October 10, 2011

How to Video on Cubic Right Angle Weave with Beads with Doceri

Cubic RAW (also known as three-dimensional right angle weave, or CRAW) is an extremely versatile weave.   I used cubic RAW with size 11/0 and 15/0 seed beads to make this "impossible" triangle, "impossible" square, and actually quite possible jack.

Here are some other variations I found in my big box of beaded beads.

More simply, with cubic right angle weave, you can also make nice cables for necklaces and bracelets, like the following examples.  From left to right, the four samples below contain 3.4mm seed bead drops and 11/0; 8/0 and two colors of 11/0; two colors of 8/0 and 11/0; four colors of delicas.  The leftmost version with the drops is my favorite.  It's got a nice bubbly texture.

I just uploaded a new Doceri video on how to weave cubic right angle weave like I did in the pieces above.  I'm not sure that this is the best way to teach this weave, but somebody requested that I make the video, and last night around midnight, it seemed like a really good idea.  So I drew a bunch of pictures in the wee hours, wove up the four little samples above, photographed the older pieces in the first two photos, and recorded it all the next morning for YouTube
Since I REALLY don't enjoy recording my voice for these videos, this one is silent.  Sorry, but this time, you'll just have to add your own sound track.   The payoff is that it's much shorter when I don't blabber on and on, just 3 action-packed minutes of mathematical beady goodness.   

If you like this post, you should check out the pattern and kits for the beaded Borromean Links, made with CRAW.  You might also want to read about twisted cubic right angle weave.  I also have a tutorial for the Highly Unlikely Triangle

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Sewing mini dresses to go with my bloomers

I love bloomers, short pants (or shorts) with ruffled hems.  In the last couple of years, I have sewn myself several pairs of bloomers (including my black corduroy pair below), and I have noticed that I like to wear them mostly with my longest shirts or my shortest dresses so that the ruffles peak out the bottom.  Unfortunately, I own very few mini dresses, so I decided to make some.  I started with my oldest, dearest mini-dress, and since it fits me so well, I used it to draft myself a set of pattern pieces.  I updated the design by making it a both longer and fuller in the back than in the front.  I also updated the fabric choice from a tiny flower print to pre-ruffled fabric on top and slinky rayon on the bottom.  Both fabrics are 5% spandex to make them nice and stretchy. 

The first one I made turned out a wee bit too small for me, so I enlarged the pattern by a couple inches here and there, and made two more in just my size.  Why two?  So I could sell one and keep one for myself.  I planned to keep the crappy one and sell the other, but I am happy to report that they both came out equally well.  Here you can see me in the purple one.  It's so comfy and I'm thrilled with the fit.
The purple on is a size medium, and the green one is a size small.  Notice the extra seaming in the back to add shaping around the waist and fullness in the hem.

The hard part about sewing these dresses was working with the ruffled fabric.  If you're not really careful, you'll get wonky ruffles caught in the seams when you sew them.  From previous projects (bloomers!) I learned that the best way to control the ruffles is to baste them down so they don't move before you get the seams sewn properly.  I did a ton of basting on these, every seam with ruffles was basted before I pinned it (or basted it) to be serged.  In the past, I used my sewing machine to do the basting, but on these I did them all by hand.  It takes a bit more time, but I got MUCH better results.  In three dresses, I didn't get a single flipped ruffle, which is nice.

These two tops are also different in the hem treatments.  The purple has a ruffled lettuce edge, and the green one has a folded hem with cover stitch.  I'm really not sure which one I like better.  What do you think?

Clicking on the photos will take you to their Etsy listings.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Found Mathematics on the Playa

I've been sorting through my photos from Burning Man, and I found this set of photos of the dried playa ground.  The playa is composed of a very fine particle dirt or dust that is wet mud in the winter and dry, flat earth in the late summer.  As the lake bed dries, cracks are formed in the mud.  The resulting cracks nicely demonstrate the idea of the self similarity of fractals in nature.
The idea is that as you zoom in, you continue to see more and more detail, and the over all shapes at every level always look the same, at least in theory.
Zoom, zoom, zoom.

Of course, this is the real world and not theoretical mathematics, so that perfect self similarity breaks down if we zoom in far enough.  That reminds me of a riddle.  What's the difference between theory and practice?  In theory they're the same, but in practice, they're different.  This is like that.

Anyway, the above photos were taking is the shade of bright daylight.  Below is what the Playa looks like at night with blue and green laser lights shining on it. You can still see the cracks, but instead look at the patterns in the lights.  
This pattern is quite complex since the lights are projected with more than one periodic pattern superimposed on top of one another.   See how the blue forms one repeating pattern, and the larger green clusters of dots form another, but one doesn't quite match up with the other.  And maybe you can even make out a repeating pattern in the smaller green dots.  Pattern on top of pattern on top of pattern...  This pleases me. 
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