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.
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