Saturday, March 30, 2013

Bed Curtains

Personal Project Alert
I have mentioned before that I am reorganizing my living spaces. one aspect was to move my bed and add curtains around it.
Last night I finally finished that project.

My husband and I wanted curtains around our bed for some privacy, as we share the room with our children.
Here is how I accomplished that.

First I did room measurements, then I took my stud locator and found where the beams in the ceiling were.

When I knew the measurements I multiplied them by 1.5 so that the curtains are not too full.

We wanted the top of the curtains to still allow the sunlight to come in, as it helps us to wake up. I figured on about 24" for that. The bottom part ended up being the same size as a Twin Sheet, so that is what is is!

Yes our bed is IN the closet!

I did have one complication. there is a shelf on one wall that sticks out 20"
I thought long and hard about how to deal with this, my solution was to add a smaller, shorter panel to hang from the underside of the shelf. the top part is cut the full width of the curtain, and with the removal of the shorter panel, could be attached nicely to the bottom half and be a fully matching curtain.

Magnus says Hi!
The sheets are not that opaque, but a little privacy is all we need.

The sheets are poly cotton, and were $8 each, but there was a buy one get one half off sale, so that was actually $12
The top fabric is a curtain fabric and was under $4 a yard, I bought 2 yards, it is 108" wide, 100% poly.
I had just the right shade of blue in my stash, and just enough of it too! the rope was from my local Sailor, eyebolts found in the shop.

$20 project! and it makes me happy, if my children can leave my curtains alone, they will get their own!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

How do you store your patterns?

I moved my computer desk recently, which required me to clean it off! in the process I found no less than a dozen patterns that needed to be put away. I thought this would be a good time to share how I store my patterns.

First off, there is no right way to store patterns, what works for me may not work for you.

I have several different patterns, of several different types and I have different methods for storing them.

First off, the Big Three (Simplicity, McCalls, Butterick)
I store these in what are often sold as File storage, and indeed they are intended to hold hanging files.
I like them because they are clear so I can see which type of patterns are in them. I also often make a label for the bin. (historical costume, costume, craft, mundane, McCalls, Simplicity, Butterick.)

Initially when I start a new bin, they go in this way, as it is easier to flip through them, but as the bin gets more full, I turn them 90 degrees and put in two rows. This works well for Simplicity and Butterick, not so much for the McCalls patterns which are just a bit wider.

Since these bins are designed for files, you can store all most all sizes of patterns in them, you just have to orientate them efficiently!

If you have a few patterns, this will work well, but if you have lots (I have enough to fill a half dozen of these bins) it is not really the best storage option, they are not square on the outside and thus can take up a bit more space than they need.

You may have noticed that some of those patterns are in zip top bags.
This is because I have USED the pattern.  I ALWAYS trace off the pattern, never cutting the originals. I do this for several reasons
  • tissue paper tears
  • I need to make more than one size
  • I need to alter the pattern
  • I want to be able to give or sell the pattern intact someday
This is Simplicity 2745 which I used to make coats for my children for Halloween 2012 you can read my review and the pattern alterations I did to it.
Please note that I wrote the pattern number, size and pattern piece on EACH pattern piece in the bag.

By the way, the bag size I use for Simplicity patterns is 8X10 and 2mil is fine for storage.

Many of my patterns are actually stored in my file cabinets. My computer desk is a table top over two file cabinets, home made from re-purposed wood, it is not the prettiest, but VERY functional, and not hard to move once the file cabinets are emptied and the top is just lifted off. (yes we think about these things in our furniture)
Here I have them organized a bit better, most are in paper envelopes, but some are in plastic bags. This is where I store my larger Historical patterns.

Notice on the front of the envelope I have written down the pattern name and number, the sizes and even the date that I made them. Inside there is a sheet with peoples measurements too.

I also store patterns from books here.
Note that I wrote down the page numbers the pattern came off of as well as the book and pattern name.
For this pattern, I didn't have to do much alterations, so there isn't additional measurement info on the outside. (I am on the smaller side of normal, so the patterns fit rather well out of the book!)

Then of course there are patterns that I make
Note that this copy of the pattern is labeled Uncut, and it is supposed to STAY that way, this is my paper copy in case I lose my digital data. It is also dated should I ever need to update the pattern, I won't accidentally grab the older version.

And of course I have patterns taken off of original garments that I plan on turning into patterns
These envelopes contain more than just the pattern though, they will contain other written information like the research I have done on them, photos, and receipts from purchase.

No, I haven't shared anything about those two patterns yet. ;)

Of course not all my patterns are put away this neatly, here are some examples of the less neat patterns in my file cabinet.
I did paper tape shoe pattern making on my children. Note that the ziplock bag is titled and dated. Each pattern piece is labeled with the child's initials, date, shoe size and left or right.

I reuse envelopes, which means that many of the large envelopes you saw in my file drawer have my address on them! The above pattern is one I JUST made and haven't made up yet. I should date it, it is sitting right here on my desk, there dated!

Anyone recognize this pattern? You should, I have posted the finished product. This one may or may not end up in a paper envelope. I tend to use the plastic 9X12 zip bags for pattern storage as I am working on a project, and paper for when it is finished. But this pattern was not a full success.

Then there is another category of pattern storage, I subscribe to Soft Dolls and Animals, which always has a pattern pull out in the magazine.
I used to store these in magazine holders, which work okay for me, but if you take the pattern insert out it could get separated should the magazine holder ever be knocked over.

Then I went to Binder Storage and used these holders for the magazines and regular sheet protectors for the patterns.
I am currently using Expandable sheet protectors to hold 2 magazines in each one WITH the patterns inside the magazines.

I would love to have a 3 ring sheet protector that had a zip top like these to try out for those loose pattern pieces.

Now there is one last pattern storage category I would like to go over, the In-Progress category.

I have two ways of doing this, when it isa large project, like a garment, I like to put the patterns, and all other papers, like research and inspiration, measurement sheets, receipts, and design sketches into a binder.
This is when the sheet protectors get the most use, after the project is completed (and I am being a good organized girl) i will put the pattern into a proper envelope for long term storage.
In the mean time, it will look like this:
To reduce the need for several books to be open, I photo copy the needed pages and put them in my binder. You can tell that some pattern pieces will need to be folded down a bit before they go in the envelopes.

For little projects, the pattern will live with the materials in a bin.

I label the bins so that I know what is in them. I had to do some photo editing on this picture since some are future gifts. ;)

There is a problem with doing this though, you may never get back to that project! it has happened to me several times, I am hoping them being so blatantly obvious means that it doesn't happen again!

So there are some of the ways that *I* store my patterns, each has it's advantages and disadvantages and may not work for you.

Here are some last tips
  • Label EACH pattern piece! I had some loose craft pattern pieces on my desk that I have no clue what they were.
  • Label the envelope
  • Include dates and sizes
  • Group like patterns together, but maybe not in the same packaging
  • What ever works for you is fair game
How do YOU store your patterns? I would love to hear from you.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Creativity is....

Merriam Webster defines Creativity as: the quality of being creative, the ability to create


Earlier this week I started down a path of reading up on how to improve my writing/blogging, and I have been READING. Nothing else has gotten accomplished, well I drew a doll pattern.....

One of the things I have read is How To Be CREATIVE by Huge Macleod of gapingvoid

I am going to share some of my favorite quotes from this great bit of inspiration.

"The more original your idea is, the less good advice other people will be able to give you."

"Plus, a big idea will change you. Your friends may love you, but they donʼt want you to
change. If you change, then their dynamic with you also changes. They like things the way
they are, thatʼs how they love you—the way you are, not the way you may become."

Change is hard, but it is part of life, we all grow and change, it is just that CHANGE. I have been paying attention to some social developments going on close to me, and have been musing over how human interactions between parents and their children change as the child grows up into an adult hood. Some aspects of growing up the parent relishes and encourages (like potty training!) and others the parent may not be wanting to let of of just yet, fearing the change that will happen. We can't keep our children babies forever, nor would we want to.

Original idea, my idea isn't that original, but those I talk to most often have no clue what I REALLY want to do, it is outside their interest field, I have come to acknowledge this and accept it, so I don't often ask for their advice. In the end, I think only YOU should be making your decisions, and if you need to get out the old Pro/Con list, then do so.

"Your idea doesn't have to be big. It just has to be yours alone. The more the idea is yours
alone, the more freedom you have to do something really amazing."

If you are trying to fit yourself into the confines of any group, art-form, business or any other "box" you are cheating yourself, limiting your abilities to create something truly masterful!

"Doing anything worthwhile takes forever. 90% of what separates successful people and failed people is time, effort, and stamina."

SERIOUSLY! My mother always told me, "If you are going to do something, Do it Right the FIRST TIME!" Not to say you aren't going to make mistakes, after all we all learn from mistakes, and some mistakes, are in fact, in the end, not a mistake at all but a new discovery!
If you just glue some stuff together, it may look like something to someone, but the odds are it will just look like random stuff glued together to most people (including yourself) and if you don't value your work, why should anyone else?

"the definition of being good at it is being able to make it look easy."

But it isn't easy, we all know that. Just a look at some of the most influential pieces of modern art like this piece by Piet Mondrian
Source: Wikipedia Commons

Looks Simple right? Like any Kindergartner could have done it, so why is it considered an influential piece of art? For the answer you will have to learn more about art than I could teach you, not having an art class since High School! but I can tell you that there are important principles behind this work, which is why it is iconic.

"Nobody can tell you if what youʼre doing is good, meaningful or worthwhile. The more compelling the path, the lonelier it is."

Just think of Van Gogh for this one. He was compelled to paint, and those around him didn't see the value in his work until after he was dead. And I will not go on and on about how great the Doctor Who Episode Vincent and the Doctor is, all my fellow creative Whovians already know.

The point is, you are NOT going to gather a bunch of 'yes men" who applaud your every work overnight, nor would you want to!

You need to find yourself, and then be true to yourself, be true to your art, don't sell out, don't change something just because someone else wants you to. (Now, of course, if you had some niggling detail that wasn't right, but you could pin point it, and asked for opinions, someone else might be able to point out that detail to you)

"Everyone is born creative; everyone is given a box of crayons in kindergarten. 
Then when you hit puberty they take the crayons away and replace them with books on algebra etc. Being suddenly hit years later with the creative bug is just a wee voice telling you, “Iʼd like my crayons back, please.”"

"The wee voice didn't show up because it decided you need more money or you need to hang out with movie stars. Your wee voice came back because your soul somehow depends on it. Thereʼs something you havenʼt said, something you havenʼt done, some light that needs to be switched on, and it needs to be taken care of. Now."
So you have to listen to the wee voice or it will die…taking a big chunk of you along with it."

I hear this one from my husband often, but then he NEVER goes anywhere where without a sketchbook. He feels that school didn't teach him what he needed to know, and now that we have children in school, he is trying to prevent that happening to our children by exposing them to things that they show interest in (like algebra, at kindergarten age!)

What did you want to do as a child, chances that it changed more than once, does it still appeal to you? why aren't you doing it?

"Everybody has their own private Mount Everest they were put on this earth to climb.
You may never reach the summit; for that you will be forgiven. But if you donʼt make at least one serious attempt to get above the snow line, years later you will find yourself lying on your deathbed, and all you will feel is emptiness.

“Admit that your own private Mount Everest exists. That is half the battle.”"

As Yoda said "Do or Do Not, there is no try"
Another good quote is "the only stupid question, is the one unasked." Now all my husband's questions are "stupid questions" he says so just before he asks them, and I tease him about it lovingly.
If you never try, you will never know what you can do, what you can accomplish

"“The first rule of business,” he said, chuckling at my naiveté, “is never sell something you
love. Otherwise, you may as well be selling your children.”"

"The most important thing a creative person can learn, professionally, is where to draw the red line that  separates what you are willing to do, and what you are not. It is this red line that demarcates your sovereignty, that defines your own private creative domain. What shit you are willing to take, and what shit youʼre not. What you are willing to relinquish control over, and what you arenʼt. What price you are willing to pay, and what price you arenʼt. Everybody is different; everybody has his or her own red line."

Ohh Tough choices here, are you in ART or BUSINESS?
For me, I know a few things about myself
  • I hate doing mass production. I may make multiples of the same thing, but they will all have differences, even if it is just a different color. I had a job sewing on an assembly line once, it killed my desire to sew at home, and it aggravated my bad hip.
  • I am not the best seamstress. My actual clothing construction skills could really use some sharpening, and I know where to learn more, just not focusing on that because...
  • I do not want to do sewing for a living. There I said it, and you may be surprised to read that, but I am not interested in taking commissions and working to someone else ideals.
  • I want to design, to create, to take pencil and paper in hand and make something, I'll sew up that pattern to test it out, and then I'll likely never make it again. I have decent math skills and tools at my disposal to creat patterns, so that is what I am going to do.
"Don’t worry about finding inspiration. It comes eventually.
Inspiration precedes the desire to create, not the other way around.

You have to find a way of working that makes it dead easy to take full advantage of your inspired moments. They never hit at a convenient time, nor do they last long.

Writerʼs block is just a symptom of feeling like you have nothing to say, combined with the rather weird idea that you SHOULD feel the need to say something."

The muse comes in spurts (so does depression it seems) I know this from my personal life, sometimes you are blocked creatively because there is another aspect of your life that is out of balance. I have just recently experienced this in my personal life, I feel that some of the non-creative problems have been dealt with and am glad to have my creative mood coming back.
DO SOMETHING ELSE the muse will come back, or if there is another problem, deal with that.
Mug from Cafe Press

So there you have it, just a FEW quotes from How To Be CREATIVE by Huge Macleodthat I found to be inspirational for me. i would highly recomend going over to ChangeThis and downloading How To Be CREATIVE for FREE, print it out, mark it up with highlighter and notes in the margins. Put it in a binder and read through it again when you have the need, I know that is what I have done, and will do.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Book Review: Beyond Bears

I recently received my copy of The Dragon Charmer’s new book. I had preordered it and received it while I was sick. Always nice to have new reading material when stuck in bed, too bad there isn’t some magical service that would do that for us.

The title is Beyond Bears: How to draw, design and sew your own stuffed animals
(With 6 never before published animal patterns for you to make!)
The back cover asks if the reader is tired of making soft animals from other peoples patterns and ready to make their own.

Now I love a book of patterns, but I love a how to Design Patterns even more. I have a few books on designing cloth dolls and animals on my bookshelf and I reference them when I am designing something new, or trying to explain to someone else. “Seeing in 3D” is something that comes rather natural to me, and I sometimes have a hard time explaining it to someone else for whom it does not come easily.

The book is in full color, the pages are not glossy. The 6 patterns included are actually on a CD so you need a computer to print them off, but you don’t need to be harsh on your book to photo copy the patterns out of it!

The book starts off with the basic supplies of the craft, covering the different fabrics and jointing systems used.
Almost half way through the book, Jennifer covers the basics of pattern creation using a rather standard Teddy Bear pattern as the base. She shows how to alter it to create different looks. I have seen this type of information presented in other places, and it IS good information, particularly if you are designing bears and want to make a bear look a certain way. Jennifer covers how to create different arms, legs, tails, wings and ears, but she doesn’t show a head shape that ISN’T a bear head in this section.
I think including other animal head and body shapes in this section would have benefited the book greatly, especially when it is titled BEYON Bears.

The next section is the assembly of the pattern, even covering such basic stitches as Ladder, Whip, and Satin stitches.
Last are the 6 patterns included in the book, well actually on CD. Each pattern has a page all to itself with a large photo and some instructions.

The CD contains 1 PDF with all the patterns in it. Which makes printing off all the patterns at one time nice and easy, but if you only want to print off one pattern, you will have to scroll through the document to find which pages you need, then print only those pages.

I like that the patterns are on a CD so that I do not damage the spine of my book trying to get the patterns photocopied out of it. (This also reduces the risk that the page wasn’t perfectly flat in the copier and the pattern is now no longer true.)

I have some issues with this book, I am confused if it is designed for the beginner who wants to make plush animals or the advanced plush maker.
I see it being for the beginner with the covering of BASIC stitches and differences of material, also the inclusion of patterns.
But it is obviously not for the beginner in that it doesn’t walk you step by step on making the patterns in the book, in fact some of the patterns written instructions are only a couple of sentences long. You must reference the other portions of the book if you have no knowledge of the craft.
Since I do not work with fur, I found it annoying that the some of the animals have their fur shorn, but there are not really instructions on how to do that.

I LOVED the section on Finding Inspiration and copyright, I think that needs to be said more.

Another issue I have with this book is the photos. They are lovely and well done, Jennifer includes photos of several of her other patterns throughout the book, but many of them are not labeled. A reader would need to spend some time looking through photos of all of Jennifer Carson’s patterns to find the correct image in order to order the pattern. Had a name had been included, a simple word search on the internet would lead them straight to the pattern they were interested.

 I think the biggest issue I have with the book is the cover image. The Unicorn Brandywine is NOT one of the patterns included in the book. Now *I* knew this when I ordered my copy, but I can see how others may not. I feel that if a book has patterns included, and say so on the cover, the cover image should be one of the patterns in the book.

The patterns that are included in the book are lovely and I am really wanting to make Grandall the Gryphon.

You can purchase the book, and other patterns from Jennifer Carson on her Etsy Store or on PatternMart.
Patterns are also avialable for instant download on Craftsy and consider following Jennifer on Facebook to hear when she has a new pattern out.

Monday, March 4, 2013

End of February post

One of my resolutions for 2013 was to do end of month posts about what I accomplished in the past month.
Well this post is a few days late, as my family has been sick the past week, and I am sick as I type this. but at least I am out of bed and DRINKING MY TEA!

February started off with the results of the pattern poll.
1st and second pace corsets
3rd place dragon
4th place Girls Regency dress
5th place Child's Medieval gowns

I also wrote posts covering pattern envelopes Front on historical clothing, front on craft, and pattern envelope backs. I still have a few more posts on this subject in the works.

Then I took some personal time and made a Valentine for the love of my life I also made three scaled down versions (to provide more family friendly photos) and listed those in my etsy shop, thus fulfilling my 1 new etsy item a month goal.

Yes I did fall off the blog once a week goal, partly due to the sickness in the house, but more due to the fact that I am in desperate NEED of rearranging our living spaces! I spent several hours measuring the rooms and the furniture in them, putting those measurements into CAD and moving things around virtually. We have a plan, and some things have already been changed. I will have some personal sewing to do for this too, and am likely to share it here.
Dinah and her mate. The first two dragons I ever designed. The look after each other, just like my husband and I have been taking care of each other while being sick.

I didn't get to working on any of the proposed patterns I polled you on, mainly because I REALLY need to organize my space. This is daunting to me, on top of the normal everyday running of my family.

So what I WILL be doing in March is this:
Moving around my computer and sewing space, maybe It will even be clean enough to share pictures with you? Hopefully this doesn't take all month, but I wouldn't be surprised if it did.
More blog posts on pattern designing are already in the works.
And I have a couple of free patterns and tutorials I am working on as well.