Dec 042012
 

This is definitely a new favorite jacket for the cool months.

red-wool-sweater

The pattern was one of those that sucked me in just cuz it was on sale for 99¢ at Joann’s.  I have quite a collection of those, actually.  🙂

simplicity-2313-jacket-pattern

Anyhow, the prudent thing to before making up any pattern (before buying it would be even better, lol) is to look up its reviews on PatternReview.com.  Priceless gems of advice and commentary are available there, I tell you.

red-wool-sweater-close-up

One reviewer mentioned that although this pattern recommended making view D out of fleece, she bought wool jersey and felted it in her washer.  This gave the same no-ravel edge, but a much, much nicer feel.  My wool was a woven, but it felted up beautifully.  Wool is a lovely material to sew with and to wear.  It pressed nicely, sewed up like “buttah,” and is utterly comfy and cozy to wear.

Here’s my review of Simplicity 2313:

Pattern Description: Misses’ jackets with detail and collar variations. Suitable for fleece.

Pattern Sizing: 6-14, I made a muslin and made a modified size 14 of view D.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Yes.

Were the instructions easy to follow? It was, although I had to look at the pattern envelope to determine if the ruffle pleats were supposed to be on the inside or the outside.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? I love the princess seaming, the small back peplum and the interesting ruffle variation. I also like that there are four such different jackets in one pattern.

Fabric Used: I used a 97% wool, 3% lycra from Joann’s. I tossed it in the washer and dryer twice to felt it before using. (An extra 1/2 yard was plenty to account for the felting.)

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: I made a muslin out of craft felt. Looking back, I wouldn’t recommend this, as the craft felt ended up being much stiffer than my actual fabric. The stiffness hid a few fit problems.

I skipped facings on this jacket, since my felted fabric doesn’t ravel. I turned under 1/2″ on the outer edges and double top-stitched.

The sleeve on this pattern is poorly drafted. It’s too narrow at the shoulder and too wide at the wrists. I had to completely redo it.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? I love my new wool sweater, it breathes and is far more comfortable than the synthetics most sweaters are made of these days. However, I probably only need one sweater in this style.

Conclusion: A nice pattern and a great bargain, but take the time to make a muslin before using a nice fabric.

Dec 012012
 

You all have seen me make lots of clothing and review many, many patterns, but didja notice that I’ve never done any pants?

Yup, I’m admit it, I’m chicken.  bwack-bwack

But, I’m also really tired of wearing ill-fitting pants.  So, I decided to make that the next project.  The first step was to search through all my back issues of Threads magazine looking for pants articles.

threads-mag-jan-2008-134

The January 2008 issue (#134) had the perfect article.  It tells you not just how to make a commercial pants pattern fit well, but how to make your own custom pattern from your personal measurements.

Brilliant!

I wish I could share the directions here, but they aren’t mine to share.  The good news is that the issue is still available on back order here.  Making the pattern took a bit of time and concentration, but it was worth it.

(BTW, if anyone has the October/November 2005 Threads, #121, I would love to buy it from you, I really just need a copy of the “Inside a Chanel Jacket” article.)  

After I made the pattern I tested it in micro-fleece, figuring that yes, the fleece has stretch, but I’d be able to get a good idea of the drape and fit.

perfect-fitting-pants-brown-fleece-2

These fleece pants are wonderful.  I’d wear them all day, every day if I could get away with it.  Super soft, squishy, comfy and warm.  Yum.

Next it was time to try out the pattern in a woven fabric.  I found a black brushed twill in my stash, and so got overly ambitious and decided to make a pair of black jeans.  I copied the fly front and pocket details from Vogue 7608.

vogue-7608-jeans-pattern

This is a Today’s Fit pattern from Sandra Betzina.  I’d made it once before and the result was so “bleck” that I tossed the whole thing right into the trash. (The gals from the UK would call that a “wadder.”)  I have Sandra’s books and love her teaching, but this pattern shaping simply did not work for me.  She does give a lot of very helpful info in the pattern, so I do recommend it with reservations.

After I got the jeans mostly done, there were fit issues that needed tweaking.  However, I had no idea where to start with the tweaks and so set the pants aside.

To be completely honest, I also had major problems with the twin needle and the topstitching thread and ended up chucking the pants violently into a corner where they stayed for several days until my temper cooled down.

Then, this past week a sewing friend sent me this link to Silhouette Patterns.  After watching the ultimate pants fitting video, I knew exactly what I had to do to get a great fit in my jeans.  Yay!  The pants fitting 2 video and the fitting jeans videos were also helpful.

Her well-explained logic really helps you understand where the adjustments need to be made and why.

perfect-fitting-pants-black-2

You may notice in the photo that the fly front is gaping.  These pants are not tight, they fit perfectly, and still the fly gaps.

What makes this especially grrrr-worthy  is the note in Sandra B’s pattern directions, “You will love this fly technique.  It looks just like the traditional fly front, the zipper stays well hidden, no matter how tight the jeans are…”

Ummmm… no.

It’s been several years since I first made this pattern, but I seem to recall that I had the same gaping zipper issue back then and figured I did something wrong.  Now I’m thinking it’s not me, and have made a note on the pattern itself, reminding me to never use that technique again.  (I do the same thing in cookbooks, writing notes right on the page about particularly awful recipes or reminders to adjust ingredients.)

perfect-fitting-pants-black

Anyhow, between the custom pattern from the Threads directions and the awesome information from Silhouette patterns, I’ve got a great fitting pair of jeans and a perfect pattern to use for future pants projects.

Happy sewing, happy creating and happy December 1st!

 

 

Nov 262012
 

Sure, anyone can go buy charms to make a charm bracelet, but what about making your very own charms?

hammered-heart-charm-bracelet-hanging-still_0

The process is easier than you might think, and quite fun.

I kinda love smacking things around on my Mini Anvil.  >:)

hammered-heart-charm-bracelet-still_0

Here is the Craft Hammer I use; it works just fine for this purpose.

Happy Creating!

Materials:

  • 7 inches chain for bracelet
  • clasp for bracelet
  • six or seven jump rings
  • 22-gauge craft wire
  • two pair chain nose pliers
  • round nose pliers
  • wire cutters
  • bench block or jeweler’s anvil
  • hammer

Instructions:

  1. Working from the spool, use round nose pliers to start a small loop in the wire. Tighten loop with chain nose pliers; then continue coiling wire around loop to make a spiral.
  2. After completing three to four coils of the spiral, grasp wire ½ inch below spiral with round nose pliers. Loop wire around wider part of round nose pliers to make bottom point of heart and a loop. Cut off wire 2 inches from where wires cross and make another spiral, starting at cut end.
  3. Use flat part of hammer to gently pound spiral heart on bench block or anvil until wire is flattened. If desired, pound on both sides with rounded part of hammer to give texture. Repeat to make a total of five heart charms.
  4. To attach heart charms to bracelet, open a jump ring and slip on a link of the bracelet chain and an outer round of wire spiral, spreading coils if necessary. Close jump ring. Repeat with other charms, spacing evenly on bracelet chain.
  5. Attach clasp to one end of bracelet with jump ring. Attach a jump ring to opposite end of bracelet if needed.
Nov 192012
 

bead-and-hammered-wire-napkin-ring-still

Places like Pier One and Marshalls always seem to have great funky home dec stuff like these beaded napkin rings.  Of course, the problem with being a crafter is that I never manage to buy them cuz, of course, I can make it myself.

So, finally, I did.  🙂

bead-and-hammered-wire-napkin-rings-still-2

Partly it was because I just wanted an excuse to use my newest tool, this adorable little jeweler’s anvil.

Hey, smack some stuff around with a hammer, maybe get out a little aggression, haha.

When you watch the video you’ll see the actual scale; it just fits in your hand.  Cute and useful!

Enjoy the video, happy creating. 🙂

Materials:

  • 16-gauge wire (25-inches for each napkin ring)
  • 5mm beads (30 for each napkin ring)
  • 26-gauge wire
  • chain nose pliers
  • wire cutters
  • bench block or jeweler’s anvil
  • hammer
  • 1-inch diameter dowel or form
Instructions
  1.  Cut a 25-inch length of 16-gauge wire.  Use chain nose pliers to make a loose spiral with first 5 inches of wire (3-4 wraps.)
  2.  Leaving wire on spool, thread 30 beads onto 26-gauge wire.
  3.  Wrap 1-2 inches of 26-gauge wire onto 16-gauge wire in a ¼-inch section, starting where spiral ends.  Continue wrapping 26-gauge wire around 16-gauge, occasionally feeding out a bead until all beads are used and all but last 5 inches of 16-gauge wire is wrapped.  Finish by wrapping 1-2 inches of 26-gauge wire onto 16-gauge wire in a ¼ inch section.  Trim 26-gauge wire and tuck in end.
  4.  Use chain nose pliers to make a spiral with last 5 inches of 16-gauge wire (3-4 wraps.)
  5.  Use flat part of hammer to gently pound spiral on bench block or anvil until wire is flattened.  If desired, pound with rounded part of hammer to give texture. Repeat to flatten and texture other spiral.
  6.  To finish napkin ring, wrap around 1-inch form, adjusting spirals so they are in the same plane.
Nov 162012
 

The wonderful thing about crafting and making wonderful stuff is that the stuff we start with doesn’t have to be particularly amazing in order for the end result to be terrific.

This graceful crystal and wire  necklace started with just a strand of crystals that were on sale at my local craft store.

crystal-bead-and-wire-necklace-still-003

Add a bit of chain, a few jump rings and a little wire wrapping know-how, and you’ve got something rather special.

So, what simple stuff is in your crafting space, just waiting to be made into something amazing?

Happy creating!

Materials:

  • 11 crystal beads
  • chain in the following lengths: two at 7 inches, two at 1.5 inches, one each at 3.5 inches and 2 inches
  • spool of 22 gauge wire
  • jump rings
  • lobster clasp
  • two pair chain nose pliers
  • round nose pliers
  • wire cutters

Note: These are the supplies required to make the 32-inch necklace pictured, but feel free to adapt the technique to suit your own personal taste and materials on hand.

Instructions:

To make wire-wrapped bead:  

  1. Without cutting wire from spool, slide a bead onto wire. Grasp wire with round nose pliers 1 inch from end of wire. Form a loop around pliers (wires should be perpendicular to each other).
  2. Hold loop with chain nose pliers and coil wrap 1-inch end around wire. Trim end with wire cutters and tuck in. Slide bead up to meet coils.
  3. Use chain nose pliers to grasp wire just at point where it exits bead. Bend wire at 90-degree angle. Grasp bend with round nose pliers and wrap wire around pliers as far as possible to start to make a loop. Reposition pliers to finish loop. Keep round nose pliers in loop and wrap wire several times around wire above bead. Trim off wire and use chain nose pliers to tuck end in. File wire ends smooth if necessary.

To attach length of chain or another wire wrapped bead:

  1. After completing step 1, slide end link of chain or loop of wire-wrapped bead into loop just formed. Proceed with steps 2 and 3.
  2. To complete necklace, make two sets of three wrapped crystals and two sets of two wrapped crystals. Alternate wrapped crystal units with smaller lengths of chain, using jump rings to attach when necessary. Attach a 7-inch length of chain to each end. Attach a lobster clasp to one end and a jump ring to the other to complete.

 

Nov 152012
 

Since the months go by so quickly, right after Halloween I decided to get a jump on November’s Tim Holtz Tag of 2012.  Of course, days and weeks being what they are, it’s now November 15th already, the middle of the month, sheesh, dunno how that happens…

Is it me or do Tim’s tags seem to be getting simpler these past few months?  Of course, they’re wonderful as always, but I keep feeling like I need to add  more “stuff,” you know?  Like some leaf charms or something up by the ribbons?  Hmmmm….

november-tag-of-2012-pinecones

Since I don’t have the “Thankful” stamp he used.  I used Tim’s Grunge Alphabet stamp and Clear Embossing Ink to emboss with Super Fine Detail Embossing Powder, black and cut out the individual letters. The edges were inked with Vintage Photo (what else?  haha) and mounted on Foam Adhesive Squares (pop dots.)

november-tag-of-2012-thankful-angle

The wheat was embossed with the Hero Arts Silhouette Grass stamp.  Interesting technique of Tim’s, to remove embossing powder by ironing over it with newsprint.  Did you know this is also how to remove spilled candle wax from linens?  Good thing to know with the holiday season coming up.  🙂

november-tag-of-2012-pinecones-close-up

The Tattered Pine Cone die is very cool.  I love how it can do these pine cones or give the look of dried roses.  I’m kinda wishing I’d made them from a lighter color, these seem rather dark and boring.  Oh, well, they’re too much work to do again.

november-tag-of-2012-script-close-up

Wild Honey is definitely one of my favorites in the new line of colors (also in Wild Honey Distress Stain.)  It just seems to pop and accent whatever colors are around it.

I may just make this tag into a card for our Thanksgiving hostess.  All that has to be done is add it to a card and make it say “So ‘Thankful’ For You”.  If I do, I’ll try to remember to update this post with a pic.

Happy creating, ya’ll!

Nov 132012
 

Today’s workdesk does NOT show that it feels like I currently have a million-zillion and one different things going.  Ack.   I hate being overwhelmed, it makes me want to go watch a movie or something, lol.

It’s rather a mess, but if you feel like it you can click on the photo for a closer look.

2012-11-14-woyww-swelligant-metals-and-patinas

What the desk does show is that I’ve been playing with Christi Friesen’s new Swelligant metal coatings and patinas.  Since each patina reacts differently with each metal, I decided to make a sample chart. It’s just a sheet of polymer clay with the name of each metal and the patinas scratched in with a needle tool.  I’ll darken up the words with paint at some point.

The iron section isn’t quite done in this photo cuz my order included two bottles of Brass and no iron. 🙁  I’m happy to report, though, that Christi’s team got out my bottle of iron very quickly once I alerted them to the problem.  In fact, it arrived today. I promise to post a pic once the patinas have finished their work on that bit.

2012-11-14-woyww-swelligant-sample-chart

I’m especially loving the green patinas on the copper and brass sections, but am still unsure how to color my little castle.  Think I’ll make a dozen more castles and try several combinations just for fun.   Oh, and I plan on sculpting some dragons, too.  Can’t have castles without dragons, you know.

Happy creating and happy What’s on Your Workdesk Wednesday!

Nov 102012
 

These little maple leaf charms have special memories and I think they’re really pretty, but I’ve never been thrilled with the earrings… until now.

enameled-leaf-earrings-still

(You’ll have to check out the video for the “before,” as I forgot to take a pic before getting started.)

Just adding a couple small bead accents and new ear wires makes them into something wonderful that I love to wear!

Do you have any jewelry that’s been languishing sad and unworn, but you can’t bear to part with it?  Try this technique to make it into something new and special. (I’d love to see pics of your before and afters.)

Happy creating!

Materials:

  • two enameled leaf charms
  • two bicone beads to coordinate with charms
  • four seed beads
  • two ear wires
  • two eye pins
  • round nose pliers
  • chain nose pliers
  • wire cutters

Instructions:

  1. Slide a seed bead, a bicone bead, and another seed bead onto an eye pin. Grasp wire where it comes out of second seed bead with tips of chain nose pliers. Bend wire at a 90-degree angle. Grasp bend of angle with tips of round nose pliers.  Form as much of a loop as possible. Reposition round nose pliers and complete loop. Use wire cutters to cut excess wire where wires cross. Use flat part of chain nose pliers to flatten and straighten loop.
  2. Open ear wire; insert one loop of bead dangle just made. Close loop. Open remaining loop of bead dangle and insert charm. Close loop.
  3. Repeat for second earring.
Nov 052012
 

This wooden cat bead was given to me by a friend quite some time  ago.  I immediately made it into a necklace, but then didn’t wear it very often.

cat-bead-necklace-still-1

If you have jewelry you know you ought to like, but never feel like wearing, perhaps it’s time for a makeover.

cat-bead-necklace-still

Although the cat is wired up much better than before,  I’m  still not sure about the beads I chose for this necklace.  It may have to undergo yet another redo.   Are those green beads too big?  Are the yellow ones too yellow?  Should I go with more wooden beads and natural colors to compliment the cat?

Ideas?  Thoughts for improvements? Anyone?

Enjoy the video and happy creating!

Materials:

  • carved wooden bead for pendant
  • one head pin
  • several seed beads (if needed for head pin)
  • 10 inches of beads to complement wooden pendant
  • 14 inches bead stringing wire
  • two crimp beads
  • two 6-inch pieces of chain
  • four split rings
  • lobster clasp
  • round nose pliers
  • chain nose pliers
  • wire cutters
  • split ring pliers
  • crimping pliers

Instructions:

  1. Slide wooden pendant onto head pin. Add seed beads if necessary to fill in space. Grasp head pin with chain nose pliers just above last bead and bend head pin at a 90-degree angle. Grasp bend with round nose pliers and wrap wire around pliers as far as possible to start to make a loop. Reposition pliers to finish loop. Keep round nose pliers in loop and wrap remaining wire several times around wire above last bead. Trim off excess wire and use chain nose pliers to tuck end in. File wire end smooth if necessary.
  2. Use split ring pliers to attach a split ring to each end of both pieces of chain. Attach a lobster clasp to one split ring.
  3. Slide a crimp bead onto bead stringing wire; slide on one split ring and slide wire back through crimp bead. Use crimping pliers to secure crimp beads.
  4. String on half of beads in desired pattern; slide on wooden bead pendant. String remaining beads, a crimp bead, and split ring from other piece of chain. Slide stringing wire back through crimp bead; pull snugly and crimp securely with crimping pliers. (Don’t pull too tightly against last beads strung or your necklace will be stiff and won’t hang nicely.)
Nov 012012
 

Now that Halloween is behind us, it’s time to eat up all that leftover candy!  Erm, no… how about  instead we seriously think about Christmas gifts?

For those of you crafters who like to make your own gifts, here’s a great quick project.

blue-sea-glass-bracelet-still

Stretch bracelets are fun to make, because you don’t have to deal with clasps and such.  They’re also easy to wear, for the same reason.  🙂

I got these sea glass beads at a bead show I attended recently.  These blue ones are pretty, but you should have seen the reds, yellows and oranges.  They looked positively edible.  (I must have candy on the brain, lol.)

Anyhow, enjoy the project.  Be sure to watch the video and/or read the directions, as I give a few hints that will make the process easier and the bracelet better.

Happy creating!

Materials:

  • six 20mm sea glass beads
  • 12 bead caps
  • six 9mm accent beads
  • 10 inches beading elastic
  • super glue

Instructions:

Tip: Don’t cut the elastic from the spool before stringing your beads. This gives you a built-in bead stop.

Pre-stretch approximately 10 inches of elastic before starting to string your beads.

String the following pattern six times, having bead caps facing sea glass beads:

bead cap > sea glass bead > bead cap > accent bead

To tie off elastic, wrap right end over left twice and pull snug; then wrap left over right twice and pull tight.

Pull knot slightly away from bead it is closest to and add a drop of super glue into hole of bead. Gently pull elastic until knot is inside bead with glue. Allow to dry thoroughly before trimming elastic ends.