slythwolf: Some unlucky soul has an incomplete Pai Sho set. (Default)
A lot of people I know, both online and off, when I mention a new project I am working on, say things like, "Oh, I wish I could do that." As in, they wish they had the skill(s) to accomplish whatever harebrained crafty thing I am attempting.

Well, I'm here to tell you: you do.

My success in various forms of crafting comes from my confidence that I can figure out how to do any project, as long as I am armed with a reasonably clear set of instructions and Google. Think of it this way: my mother taught me to knit and purl when I was eleven, but not to cast on, because she knew how to do it but she didn't know how she was doing it. I have since taught myself at least four other cast-ons, yarn-overs, how to knit in the round, how to cable, how to read a chart, different methods for joining yarn, various forms of increases and decreases, a couple different methods of seaming, the invaluable skill of "reading" my knitting, and a little bit of crochet.

I have also taught myself to embroider, although some of that I'm still working on.

I have taught myself hand sewing. I have taught myself draping and pattern drafting. I have taught myself to make Elizabethan pairs of bodies, hand-bind eyelets, and make lacing cord. All with the help of the internet and the cheerful refusal to quit.

If you say to yourself, "I can't do this," you are right. But if you say, "I will figure this out," you are also right. That really is all it comes down to.

And so I embark upon the task of making my first rag rug, knitting my first throw pillows, sewing my first window treatments, secure in the knowledge that I will figure it out and that I can take it apart and redo it if it sucks. That's the most important thing to remember: if it sucks, you can always do it over. And always buy more fabric than you think you need.

If you are not a crafter yourself, but you know and love someone who is, the thing to repeat to yourself is, "Just because zie's swearing at hir work doesn't mean zie isn't having fun."
slythwolf: Some unlucky soul has an incomplete Pai Sho set. (Default)
There are a few final areas of clutter, all belonging to Nigel, which are his responsibility to clean up but if they sit there for more than a week I will probably lose my patience and take care of them myself so I can vacuum. Other than that, the last frontier of pigstyness is the living room, which is good because it's right there by the door and it'll be quicker taking things down to the dumpster.

The dining room is clear. The table sits--clean--surrounded by open floor with the two chairs, two clean placemats, and a bowl of fruit. There are still pictures leaning against the wall, where they will remain until I sort out how and where to hang them.

My computer armoire is no longer home to as many candy wrappers and bits of paper as I could shove into it rather than getting up and throwing them away properly. It, and its contents, have been dusted, sorted, and put away properly. In this room, too, there are some pictures on the floor which belong on the wall--little store-bought prints of things on dress forms and a framed Victorian fashion plate--and they will go above the sewing machine. Projects currently in progress have found their home on the rocking chair; those waiting in the project queue are in boxes in the closet. Labeled.

The kitchen is in a reasonable state of disarray. Nigel has committed himself to doing the dishes, on the basis that I am doing so much else. Yesterday he offered to trade them for the task of taking out the enormous pile of trash waiting by the door. I declined, feeling that I would rather take out trash than do dishes. He proceeded to take out the trash anyway and then get started on the dishes.

I can't dust anything else until we go shopping this afternoon; I have run out of spray. So that will get finished up tomorrow. Today will be sorting out everything in the living room and determining how many bookshelves we need to buy--it's beginning to look more like two than one. And taking out the last of the trash, which is in the living room and unsorted. Then, I think, I will clean the windows.

When everything is clean, I will have to sort out the stuff in my sewing boxes and find storage for the knitting needles where they will not wind up in the incomprehensible jumble they have been. Then I will only have to maintain the system, which should be a piece of cake with the new medication, since I find myself seeing things that need to be done and doing them rather than just walking past.

I feel like a human being again. This is difficult to explain, but I have lived for so long in complete--not filth, the worst it got was merely dusty, but just such a jumble of clutter--that I had forgotten how it feels to live in rooms where there is more room on the floor than a little path from door to chair, or door to bed. How nice it is to walk into a dining room and see a clean table with a pretty bowl of fruit in the middle. It's not about taking good care of the things (at least not entirely), and it's not about making guests comfortable if and when they come over. It's about respect for myself. It's about my deserving to live in a clean apartment, to be able to find things when I'm looking for them (and not because they're visible spread all across the floor). To look around and see things looking nice, as cheap as most of them are.

We have decided to stay here at least two more years, unless something happens that forces us to move (which would ideally be one of us taking a good job somewhere else and not loss of job forcing us to move in with my dad). With that knowledge, I have begun planning a balcony garden. I intend to grow two or three rose bushes in really big pots, treating them as annuals since it will be too difficult to transport them to my dad's shed for the winter, and some herbs and strawberries and ideally some carrots, peas, beans, and bell peppers. I hope also to purchase a little table and chairs so we can sit out there with a glass of lemonade and enjoy the garden.

I am choosing my roses carefully. I want them to be among the most fragrant varieties so we can open the window in the bedroom and smell them. I want them to last decently in vases so I can cut them and bring them indoors. I want them to bloom continually or at least repeatedly. All these things are available to me. The hardest part is choosing the colors, and deciding whether to have two or three of the same rose or grow different varieties. Possibly the chance to give yellow roses (her favorite) to [livejournal.com profile] aprilmayinjune on her birthday is insufficient reason to grow them the entire summer. I am currently leaning toward two of the same variety for the front corners, and then maybe a peony for the other corner, opposite the door.

Whatever I choose, I hope also to grow violets in the rose containers, and some other pretty flowers to fill in the edge around the balcony. I don't want any bare spots if I can help it, except for walking.

Meanwhile I will also have to find a way to protect my kitchen garden from the little brown birds (they appear to be house sparrows who hang out in the tree in front of the balcony. They fly up to the railing occasionally as if to say, what, no strawberries yet? Let us know when the buffet opens, won't you? I think if I can get something to cover the plants that they can't get through, and then also perhaps provide them with something to snack on if I can find a bird feeder on a stand of some kind, that will probably work out.

I also have to ask the maintenance people to remove the hornet nest from the tree. They are going to become active soon and I don't know but that they'll be very interested in my flowers, which is the last thing I want. I wouldn't mind it if they were bumblebees or honey bees but they are yellow jackets, and those things are absolutely nasty; I was stung once as a child and do not care to repeat the experience.

And of course when I go to buy my containers, tools, soil, etc., I will have to ask the nursery staff how bad the Japanese beetles and Rose Chafers are in this area. I don't know how likely it would be for them to come all the way up to the third floor to bother my roses, but I certainly want to be on the lookout.

Other future plans for the apartment include purchase of some area rugs if I can find them for an affordable price; sewing some custom panels, sheers and maybe valances for the windows, which I consider, since there will be so much straight sewing and the seams will not call attention to themselves, an excellent first project to get acquainted with my sewing machine; throw pillows, which may wind up being knitted, embroidered and sewn; reupholstering the cushions on the dining room chairs (which will be very simple if Nigel turns out to have a staple gun); and a new comforter (or at least duvet cover) and shams for the bed, since what we have are hand-me-downs from my parents and are torn, stained and ragged from the attentions of various dogs over the years. I do intend, eventually, to make a few sets of linen sheets--I have found an online source of 108" wide linen sheeting--which I will adorn with whitework and possibly monogram, but that's far in the future.

Addendum

Mar. 19th, 2010 11:19 pm
slythwolf: Some unlucky soul has an incomplete Pai Sho set. (Default)
Well, I didn't completely take the day off yesterday. I did spend an hour or two binding the inner ring of my embroidery hoop with the white bias tape [livejournal.com profile] bloodchan gave me for Christmas a couple years ago. It's the old one, one of the ones I found in my mom's antique sewing chest, and it was all smooth from years of rubbing against fabric and skin oils or something. Working a lot better bound.
slythwolf: Some unlucky soul has an incomplete Pai Sho set. (Default)
When I can manage it, I intend to get some nice linen and make a new set, but in the meantime, I am handsewing and embroidering myself some monogrammed handkerchiefs in the white muslin I had lying around.

Hemstitch is lovely but an enormous pain when there are so many threads per inch you can't even stand to focus your eyes long enough to count them. The satin stitch monogram was the easy part. But I soldier on: I am determined to produce at least three or four of these things. It is high time I started carrying them, in order to desist sneezing into my sleeve without also having to carry around a purse full of used tissues.

I do, however, have another length of muslin with a looser weave, and after I finish this first hanky I will use it to make the rest.

Hey

Aug. 5th, 2009 03:26 pm
slythwolf: Some unlucky soul has an incomplete Pai Sho set. (Default)
Do you guys think people would buy hand-embroidered (possibly 100% linen, possibly monogrammed) sheet sets on Etsy?
slythwolf: Some unlucky soul has an incomplete Pai Sho set. (Default)
So once in a while I'll post about some garb I'm making or something ongoing I'm working on but the thing is, there are a lot of other little projects I work on that you, the readers, never get to hear about.

Today I finished a work of cross-stitch bearing the legend "EAT COLD STEEL PIGDOG". The Discworld fans in the house will probably know what that's all about.

Additionally, I've been drafting slopers for myself--it's a strange and frustrating process, because with my enormous breasts, my tiny waist, and my short torso (not 7" armpit to waist as I had originally thought, but six and a half omfg), the angles are just not at all something the available instructions anticipate. For instance, it's pretty much impossible for me to make a sloper that's going to fit with only one dart in it. I need to have the waist dart--wider than is generally standard--and then I need about a 3-4" underarm dart. Most likely I will just change it to a princess-seam sloper because I'm pretty much just going to put them in everything; I think they look better than the waist-and-underarm dart combination. One with standard princess seams, one with shoulder ones, maybe? Hmm.

I have to do a lot of fudging and retracing and so I start with tracing paper. I'm not going to put anything on the more durable paper I have until I've fitted some muslins and know it's right.

So after about five, six hours' work last night, I have a preliminary front bodice sloper. The back is going to go a lot more quickly, but I just cannot face spreading all my crap out on the floor again to get started.

When I do a skirt sloper that will also probably be easier; while I do have a tiny waist and enormous hips and ass, the nature of the darts and whatnot in skirts is such that it's not going to be as weird. Although I did realize something the other day.

[livejournal.com profile] bloodchan gave me a bunch of clothes she didn't want anymore, fairly recently, that are cute and happened to fit me. I took a grey plaid pleated skirt that is a little big in the waist on the basis that it was going to be easy to take it in.

Well, easy, yes, just a bit of sewing, anyone can do it.

The trouble is, when I pin the waist to where it needs to be, and unzip the zipper, I can't get the skirt down over my hips. That's how big the difference between my waist and hips is. That's how much of an hourglass I am. I am such an hourglass that when I make skirts and trousers that will fit me, I'm going to have to use a longer zipper than standard.

Maybe I can do a standard zipper in the normal place, and also insert a hidden zipper into the side seam on one side. Things that already take hidden side zippers--well, I can put another one on the other side, or I can use a longer zipper. It needs thinking about.

Anyway. My plan is to make two wool suits (jacket, skirt and trousers) and two linen ones; some other pairs of trousers; some other skirts; a couple day dresses; a bunch of shirts and blouses; a bunch of camisoles; a black silk dress for Little Black Dress purposes and a matching jacket in case of funerals; three full and two half slips; and a bunch of sweaters for various purposes. I'm going to make all this stuff as classic and basic as I can, but make it all fit incredibly well, put extra room in the seams in case I gain more weight, and take really good care of it. I will be set for any possible job interview, most special occasions, and any job I manage to get (unless it provides a uniform in which case I would be set anyway).

Then I will buy some good neutral shoes in classic styles and a good-quality purse that I can carry year-round that will look professional and also be at least twice the size of the one I have all my crap crammed into now. And every season or so, I will change my accessories.

I have a color palette. My fall/winter suits are going to be black and charcoal, the summer ones will be white and navy, and I have a list of six or seven colors that everything else will be that I can then wear with any of those pieces. I have it written down somewhere. What I need to do next, really, and as soon as possible, to really get this project rolling, is drive over to Jackson and get fitted for some new bras. I know my 30Fs aren't fitting right anymore. I've been estimating that I wear a 30FF now, but I have never actually been fitted, and I should do that, and buy some bras I can try on first instead of ordering them online. Then I can make sure everything fits over, you know, properly fitting undergarments.

Then I have to buy all my fabric for each suit at once, and preferably for all four at once, but I'm going to leave the jackets until last to make because I'm going to have to disappear into a couple of tailoring books before I get started or they will turn out like something out of the Simplicity catalog. (Do not stiffen your suit jacket collars with fusible interfacing. And please, please do not bag line them. Just: no.)

But so okay, here's the other thing. I have these two poly satin camisoles that I picked up from Sears a year or so ago because they were on sale for $5. They don't fit right, obviously. I am currently sitting with one of them on my lap with a couple dozen pins in it, having determined what kinds of darts and tucks I need to take in it to make it fit. And I am basting them in to check the fit, and then I am going to dismantle it and put it back together again--properly--and when it fits and is happy I will then take it apart again and trace out a pattern from it. Because? It is probably the best way to figure out what shapes I need if I'm cutting something on the bias.

It is empire-waisted. Taking bigger bust darts and moving things around makes it a lot lower cut than it was probably intended to be, but not indecently so, and there is enough fabric there to cover my tits all the way to the bottom, which was a pleasant surprise. Plus I can build whatever underarm dart I need into the underbust seam. I am probably going to base my full slip pattern on this as well, just flare it out over the hips.

Also, I have cut out my burgundy linen and my black linen to make two more basic early period tunics. The black one is going to be knee-length (I had not quite three yards of 55" fabric) but the burgundy one will go all the way to the floor. When I have those constructed, and have finished the blue wool one, I'm going to cut out my green wool twill and make another floor-length one. Four tunics, no waiting. I can layer them in different ways for temperature control. Eventually I'm going to need several more, but it's not a bad start.

Whitework

Jul. 6th, 2009 02:44 am
slythwolf: Some unlucky soul has an incomplete Pai Sho set. (Default)
I am having far too much fun making myself blind by staring at tiny white threads on white fabric. You know there is something wrong with you when you find yourself wishing your design had more French knots. I have mastered them now, and I've got the bug.
slythwolf: Some unlucky soul has an incomplete Pai Sho set. (Default)
Okay, so today I paid $9 at JoAnn's for a 20x27" piece of 32-count white evenweave linen. Threadnedle Street has evenweave linen up to 40-count for like $60 a yard.

Dharma Trading Company has this.

$7 a yard for 54-count white linen? 4.5 oz? That's not too heavy a weight for shifts and partlets, and it's definitely within my budget. I see a lot of blackworked Elizabethan underthings in my future.

Meanwhile the aforementioned 32-count linen is becoming--well, a bunch of different stuff, really. First I'm working on that scarletwork needle book I mentioned a while ago. After that I'm going to practice some things and plan m'self a sampler.

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slythwolf: Some unlucky soul has an incomplete Pai Sho set. (Default)
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