Monday, September 16, 2019

How Many Thimbles Do You Own?

I have a total of TEN thimbles. To my knowledge, I only bought one. I don't know how I acquired the rest. For years and years, I resisted using thimbles. Usually I tape a small piece of masking tape over the finger I want to protect and that was my thimble. Lately though, I've started using thimbles when hand sewing. What triggered it was hurting my hand - my maker's hand. Thimbles I've realised are pretty useful. They don't just protect the skin, they make me think about which muscle I want to use or not use. Like if I were sewing without a thimble I would use a lot of fine muscles to pull the needle through. With a thimble, you have the option of using your wrist muscle to push the needle through. As I age, I start to think more about my muscles...

I'm not sure if this is called a Tailor's thimble. It's the most common thimble. I have one but it doesn't fit my fingers. If I use a plaster to tape it to my middle finger, I can use it. But I haven't quite got the hang of it. I think it's a fit issue. If the thimble is more snug, it'll probably be easier using it. Watch this video and this other video really opened my eyes to thimbles.

I have a sashiko thimble which I've used on and off.

The only issue I have with this thimble is your fingers get all weird due to the position of the thimble.This thimble doesn't work if you use a small needle. Watch this video if you're wondering how to use this thimble.

Since I sew a lot of running stitches I thought I had better find a thimble that I'm more comfortable with because using a gigantic sashiko needle is no joke.  This is the thimble I bought. It's Prym Ergonomics Thimble which I bought for SGD4.50. I bought size S thinking I have petite fingers but I should have bought M to fit my middle finger. Anyway, size S fits my ring finger so it's all good.

This is how I use my Prym thimble. I love it. It's the best SGD4.50 I've ever spent.

I have this thimble meant for the middle finger, I think. I haven't quite got the hang of it. I use it for small needles. I'm thinking I wear it too high. I'll try wearing it lower and see if it works.

And this thimble is insane. It's looks so interesting but my brain refuses to understand how to use it.

Anyway, these are the thimbles I don't want because I either have duplicates or can't quite figure it out. If you live in Singapore and want these, let me know and I'll send them to you.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Double Zipper Pouch/Crossbody Bag Pattern

So I dived into my archives and saw this bag pattern which I wanted to publish in 2011 but I kept procrastinating. Anyway, here it is. It's a beginner bag focused on 2 different ways to install a zipper. You can make it as a pouch or a crossbody bag. I personally prefer it as a crossbody bag. Well, make both! If you want the details, please click through any of the pics and it'll take you to my Etsy shop.

Am I forgetting something? Oh yes, all the bag patterns in my Etsy shop is currently discounted at 25% off including this new pattern. Sale ends next Wednesday.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

A Rescue

So, this started out as my usual embroidery on linen cotton slated for a drawstring pouch. (like these) (In case you're interested - chain stitch for the petals, colonial knots for the center and stem stitch for the stems.) But I made the error of using fusible interfacing on the fabric. Based on my experience, fusible interfacing and hand embroidery don't go together. Why then did I fuse interfacing to the fabric forgodssake? Well, I have some newly bought supremely lightweight fusible interfacing, light as feather and I thought surely, surely these will work. I was wrong. The end result? A million puckers around the embroidery. I steamed and unsteamed (?) the fabric but everything I did made the puckers worse. It was ugly. What to do? I didn't want to throw it in the storeroom because that would increase my UFO stash and since I've put in so much work on the embroidery, it would be such a waste to throw it away. And I never throw away anything embroidered, that's my rule.

I couldn't think of any other solution but to make it into a small art quilt. Since the puckers were the problems, why not make the puckers part of the solution?

The first thing I did was to sew running stitches across the linen cotton. I used some cheese cloth as interlining. Once the running stitches were in, the puckers no longer stood out. Next I put in the borders. I'm really pleased with my border because I was going for beige-ish tones and most of my scrap stash is colourful. I have 50 shades of yellow-green, green-yellow but beige? After much digging, I managed to assemble a very pleasing (in my eyes) scrap combo.

As a nod to Janet Bolton, my applique hero, I've included a sun that rose from the ground, gravity defying trees and I finished the quilt using the method taught in her books which is an easy going method. Fold the top to hide raw edges. Fold background to hide raw edges. Put top on background and sew together. Of course the stitches will be visible on both sides. Brilliant!

I used a Lizbeth size 20 multi coloured thread to sew the top fabric to the background. I love the different colours so much that when this thread runs out I'll cry because I bought it really cheap and I didn't think to buy more than one ball. This thread is meant for tatting so it has a nice texture. If you run your fingers over the stitches, you can feel the rough texture of the thread which is really nice.

I have some regrets about the leaves. The one with thick sashiko open fly stitch - I thought the stitches were too thick and maybe I should have picked a different colour like gold or gold yellow. But I couldn't be arsed to cut out the stitches.

Can you spot what I put here?

I used a loosey-goosey method of cutting my applique. I draw a shape on freezer paper, cut it out but not necessarily following the drawing and fuse it to fabric. then I hide the raw edges of the fabric using the freezer paper as a guide. Sometimes the freezer paper falls off but I just keep going.

For the backing, I used batik remnants my mom had given me. I have no idea where she gets her fabric but it's clearly someone else's scraps because the cut is all weird. I have 2 colourway and I hope to use them as background fabric. I added a casing to the background so I can hang the quilt. (as if)

Overall I'm pleased with the result. It looks clean and minimal. (to me) Originally I was going to add a flower pot. So glad I didn't. Less is always more with me. I didn't use up much scraps as the size of the quilt is only 11.75" all round. What do you think of my rescue effort?

Sunday, August 11, 2019

More Scrap Projects

Dear friends,

As you know, I'm on a use up my fabric scraps mission and I'm happy to show you more finished projects.

This embroidered drawstring pouch was finished a few months ago but I couldn't find the perfect drawstring for it despite a few visits to Chinatown. Finally I used a multi coloured cord in my stash which I admit is quite a good match.

The lining for the pouch is the same as the casing - a Amy Butler fabric. I still have tiny bits of this fabric print here and there in my "sewing room". Remember Amy Butler? I wonder what she's doing now... Anyways, the exterior linen cotton fabric is from a remnant I bought years ago for my craft market. Slowly but surely I'm using it up.

Yup. Another embroidered drawstring pouch from the same never ending linen cotton. In case you're wondering why my drawstring pouches come in different shapes and sizes, it's because I cut the best shape possible from the fabric remnant.

For the embroidery, I used Colonial knots, stem stitch and open fly stitch. I'm not very adventurous when it comes to embroidery and tend to stick to what I know. Ah, but check out the drawstring! I used a bias binding thingy to make it. I'm slowly losing my dislike of making my own bias binding.

I asked my girl what she thinks of the drawstring pouches and she said: GRANDMOTHERLY. Not something insulting like "so 80's" or "so 70's" or "so 60's". GRANDMOTHERLY.

Relax. I've decided to let her live.

Oh, with this pouch, I've finally used up the floral fabric print. I won it in a giveaway many years ago and hoarded it for the longest time.

Do you remember back in May I made a tiny, tiny drawstring pouch - first one on the left? (here) I made two more because I felt I hadn't suffered enough. By the way, in case you're wondering and I know some of you are - the pouches has lining and no raw edges. For the middle one, I embroidered a little sunflower using lazy daisies, colonial knots and stem stitch.

My daughter asked me to give her one of the tiny drawstring pouches. Should I let her have one?  What do you think? (Don't forget she called my bigger drawstring pouches GRANDMOTHERLY)

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Inspired by A Bird Shat On My Head

This month I started using a vertical mouse because my mouse hand was hurting horribly. Before resorting to changing the mouse, I rested my hand for a few weeks because I was terrified I would never be able to use my right hand again. I realised from my forced rest that I use the mouse a lot. Photo editing, Illustrator, Candy Crush... I've never been able to use a touchpad because I lack the ability to use it. I hate to say this but I think like an old person. When hubs suggested a vertical mouse, my brain immediately shut down because I couldn't imagine how to use one. How tall is it? That was my number one question but thankfully I kept it to myself. But I gave it a try anyway. We bought 2 - the first one was really bad and gave me more problems. The second one was better and I've managed to learn to use it. The first time I used a vertical mouse it felt weird because my muscles did not understand what my brain wanted them to do. After a week or so, it became quite natural.  My hand feels a lot better now but the ring finger which I damaged knitting the Skywalker Shawl is still screwed. I've been exercising my fingers following some youtube videos. Each day my fingers feel better so I'm hopeful.

During my rest period, I was able to hand sew, cut fabric and use the sewing machine with my bad hand. It seems different muscles are required for using the mouse. So I've been quite occupied with projects to use my scraps. Do you think I'm on a fool's mission? Let's be honest - I'm never going to be able to use up my scraps because new scraps are created every day.

This is a piece of applique quilt I worked on in July. I was inspired to make it after watching an episode of The Return of Superman. It's a Korean reality TV show focused on celebrity fathers taking care of their kids. In this episode, (9:57)  a bird pooped on Bentley Hammington's head. I laughed until I cried because I remembered the day A Bird Shat On My Head in May 2010. There is nothing funny about bird poop on your head, I can tell you that. But it's hilarious when it happens to other people.

I made a mistake with this quilt because I did not plan it. I'm lazy so I tend to wing it. The mistake was I fused the bird to the background fabric before I sewed quilting lines. This means I have to sew the lines around the bird. Can you imagine all the thread ends I had to deal with?

The composition for the quilt is very simple - horizontal lines. Three pieces of scrap fabric joined together creating 3 horizontal sections - clouds, air and ground. The vertical lines were kept to a minimal for the buildings.

I like to have a mix of machine lines and hand sewn embroidery. The bird was very hard to sew on because of the fusible web. I mostly used running stitch for the body, fly stitch for the tail and blanket stitch for the wing. Oh, check out the poop. I had the perfect thread for it and the stitch I used was colonial knot. I adhered to a rule of odd numbers - 5 buildings and 5 pieces of poop. The number 5 is a coincidence and not due to any superstitions.

The final part of the binding was hand sewn as well with Sashiko thread. I wished I had a lighter green thread because I wanted the stitches to show.

The finished size is not big - around 10" by 11". The size was dictated by the size of the scrap I used. Overall the applique quilt turned out more or less how I wanted. I tend to go loud so I was pleased that I managed to restrain myself.

I finally used up the fabric for the backing. I really don't mind buying more of this polka dot though. It's a very nice thin fabric great for interlining as well as backing. It's not suitable for a quilt you intend to use heavily because it's too thin. For the purpose of hanging on a wall, I've added pockets for a chopstick.

I think that I need to go bigger if I want to use up more scraps. What do you guys do with your scraps? Throw them in a drawer and forget about them?

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

The Making of a Rag Doll

Sometime in early June I became obsessed with the idea of making a rag doll. For as long as I can remember, I've wanted to be a doll maker. I wanted to be a doll maker waay before I could sew two seams together. But it was all talk and thought. Like all things and many of my ambitions, I soon realised I'm no doll maker. I mean, it's a lot of work. Pfft! Plus, I have sensitive noses and the polyfil gets everywhere. So to date, I've made ONE doll which coincidentally was made in June 6 years ago. I still have the same bag of polyfil I used for that doll, for god's sake. I know I'm more comfortable as a doll collector. Wait, let me rethink that. I'm too lazy to even be a doll collector. I just like looking at photos of dolls. There! That's how lazy a human being I am. But it being June and doll making ambitions tend to rear its ugly head so I dived into my fabric stash to bring a doll into being.

I have this book The Making of a Rag Doll by Jess Brown. How many of you had the same thought as me? How deceptively easy to make. Man, I could churn out thousands and make tons of $ like the Jess Brown dolls.

Guess how many Jess Brownish doll I made? ONE. And just barely.

First of all, the pattern that comes in the book is not the same pattern that makes the famous Jess Brown dolls. It's a dumb down version. I'm okay with the dumb down version although the armpits are a sewing nightmare. What? You mean I have to sew a sharp pivot and then turn it right side out? I don't understand. That's sew madness. Also, I don't know what happened with the legs. Mine came out fat. Totally different from the book version. But I couldn't be arsed to find out why.

The patterns include outfits and accessories for the doll which is really the fun part. You get to make a pair of knickers, a newspaper hat, a sundress, a tote bag, an overcoat, a quilt (a doll size), a drawstring dress, a sweater scrap hat and an apron. And I was going to make them all. All. All. All.

The less scary version
Of course I ran out of steam. Firstly, the doll's face just wouldn't happen. My first version - my daughter said made her scared. The eyes were pinched and the mouth was pinched. So I unpicked the embroidery and did a unpinched version. It's less scary but still nothing close to a Jess Brown doll.

The hair was my biggest mistake. The book gave a very vague explanation on how to do it. Like remember the bad old days when you borrow a book on how to make a bag and it shows you every damn detailed step except the most important and crucial step which comes with no photo and a long freaking essay. Well, I did my best to fake it. My mistake was to use a cheap $2 Daiso felt for the hair. Who knew a $2 felt would shed felt dust everywhere. The moral of the story? You buy cheap felt you get felt shit everywhere.

In total I made one dress and one pair of knickers. Much to my horror, there is total disregard for hiding of raw seams. I didn't want to impose my own raw seams snobbishness on a Jess Brown doll so I went with the flow. I've always felt imprisoned by my own inflexibility when it comes to raw seams. Maybe this will teach me something. Or maybe it will kill me...

Anyway, I ended up sick as a dog for 2 weeks and that effectively ended my ambition to make any more dolls or doll clothes. Really, otherwise I would have made all the projects. All. All. All.

So the illness that felled me - I had gone to Chinatown for a supply run. Well, it was literally to buy 2 yards of webbing. While on the way home, I had to transfer train to another train line and entered a train compartment that was incredibly cold never mind that it felt like 40 deg outside. Being thoroughly unprepared for the polar vortex for that 2/3 min train ride, I became incredibly sick, sneezing my head off. By the time I had pulled out my cardigan and covered my head with a hoodie, I had reached the point of no return. Body aches, fever, sore throat the whole nine yards followed for a week.

The doctor said it was sinus infection. No biggie, right? I've had that before. The medication - augmentin (antibiotics) is also something I've taken before. No biggie, right? Except this time, I diarrhead (verb) my head off. Not the little bit of watery shit one gets now and then. The big, unstoppable kind. At first I was just annoyed. Then I got frightened. Because it was coming out of my rear end like tap water. Finally with 1 more day of augmentin to go, I called it quits. Looking back, I wished I had the good sense to stop earlier. I hadn't been eating and was subsisting on apple juice and yakult.

In my browser history, you'll see my most popular searches are How to stop diarrhea and Can you die from diarrhea? As I discovered the hard way, the medicine to stop diarrhea does not work immediately. Nope. It takes its own sweet time.

Eventually it stopped. As hubs said to me when I was in the depth of despair: all things come to pass. Yah, just shaddup. I hate to listen to wise nonsense when I'm "in my mind" one foot in the grave. I want a cure - a magic wand. Not blah blah blah.

And once the diarrhea stopped I had other problems. Getting food down my throat. For a few days I went around wanting to puke at the very thought of eating. Isn't that the worst part? You're better and starving and you. can. not. eat. So back to apple juice.

Today I had one whole bowl of quinoa noodles. So I think I'm on the mend. Once I'm able to run 5km round the canal without collapsing, I'll declare myself fully recovered. And you never know, I might even make another Jess Brown doll. No, I'm kidding. One is enough.

Before my illness completely overtook my every waking moment, I had cobbled together a similar dress and knickers for my tiny doll Neve. I think I made it when I was having a fever and quite possibly hallucinating. Look how careless I was with the seams and all! I've always felt very apologetic towards Neve because she had literally nothing to wear. Ready to do some serious twinning?

p.s. if you don't own the book and wants to attempt the doll, try this version or that version.
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