Thursday, May 19, 2011

Oh, My

Son # 2 has long out-grown the decorative scheme in his bedroom, not to mention the bed itself.  I used to do stenciling, hand-painted backgrounds, murals, and faux-finished walls all over the house.  When Son #1 used to have this same bedroom, he was utterly fascinated by cars, trucks, motorcycles - anything with wheels.  When we moved him up to a toddler bed, I completely re-did his room in the aforementioned vehicular fashion.  With a twist.

The cars were stenciled (obviously) using acrylic paints, by my son's request (very, very specific request).  Little details like the steering wheels & highlights were added freehand.  The background, however, was done completely freehand, using the children's classic, The Little Engine That Could, as inspiration.  What you can't see is the meadow, complete with flower covered hillsides.  If you look very carefully, you can see the soft, textured clouds in the "sky" above the town that I slaved over for about three days.  Promptly after I finished the entire room, the husband decided it would be a good idea to repaint the ceiling as well.  And then wiped the extra paint off of the brush, onto both the hillside and the sky areas.  With a different color of white.

Gee, thanks.

Just to give you a rough idea of how far behind on projects I am - this room was originally painted when Son #1 was moving up from the crib to his toddler bed.

He is now 19.

Son #2 inherited this room when he was born and we moved Son #1 across the hall into the recently vacated roommate's old room.  Since Son #2 is now nearly 16, it is high time for a makeover.  We've been discussing colors and arguing about his choice of deep purple (love the color but I'm shuddering over the possibility of having to paint over that again at some point).  We settled on green as the wall color with the dark purple as a trim color (like maybe a stripe toward the ceiling).  I happened to stumble on a fabulous site today and it totally got the creative juices flowing - Cutting Edge Stencils -and I'm trying to talk him into letting me do this on his walls:
Bedroom: Modern Stencils

In colors to match his scheme, anyway.  The jury is still out on that one.  I really like it.

I'm still drooling over this site, though.  And trying to figure out how I can duplicate this on my vaulted family room ceiling:

Flying Birds Stencils, 3 pc kit

The birds are the only thing in the stencil.  The sky would have to be done by hand.  Part of my ceiling is 8ft high, but the opposite wall vaults to over 14ft with two skylights.

But I Just.  Have.  To.  Do this.

This was the Sewing Assistant's reaction when I showed him what would be going into that room:


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Sewing as Meditation

We hurry so much and cram so much into our days.  It seems like a bad thing anymore to take the time to slow down and really put some time and thought into whatever we are doing.  As if you might be punished if you are contemplative or mindful.

One of the things I really enjoy about being creative is using my hands.  Sure, the computer helps to get through certain tasks more quickly so you have more time to enjoy other things.  Computerized sewing machines (with matching software for the PC) have revolutionized the home sewing industry for sure.  Some days I feel like my sewing machine is smarter than I am.  But I only truly feel creative when I am holding my work in my hands, whether it be a needle, thread and fabric, or a paintbrush, or an ink-loaded rubber stamp, or paper and glue, or a pen, pencil, or pastel stick.  It is only then that I feel truly connected to my work, to my ideas, to my muse - and to the final product, whatever it may be.

I did get my sewing machine back the same day I took it into the shop, but I had already mentally prepared myself for the possibility of not having it for a couple of days.  I planned to do nothing but hand-sewing.  Since I didn't have to leave the machine overnight for the problem to be corrected, I could have done some other projects, but I just wanted some quiet thing to do instead.

So today was all about handwork.  Nothing fancy, just some hemming.  I do have a blind hemming feature on my machine and could probably have finished all six pair in record time, but I've found over the years that I actually prefer hand hemming - not only because often it looks better (and you can make minor adjustments as you go, which is difficult while speeding along on the machine), but also because it makes me feel connected to past generations.  I always think about my ancestors when hand-sewing; I wonder what it would be like to completely hand sew a garment from start to finish and wonder if I would even have the mind-set to do so.  The majority of our ancestors didn't have a lot of leisure time to sew - with few exceptions, it was an activity of necessity, not of luxury.  And yet, looking at vintage textiles and thinking about the hours and hours of time put into them, you can't help feeling like part of that person is still there - that there is still a voice of sorts that could tell so many stories, if only we knew how to listen to them.

Time seems to be suspended while I'm working with my hands, which doesn't happen with other activities.  I think I need to set aside some meditation time every day.  Somehow, I always forget how accomplished I feel when I'm done, until I pick up a project like this to do.  Of course, if you factor in how much longer it takes to do the job by hand, you don't end up making much for your time.  But sometimes, that's just not the point.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

I Always Knew I Was Different

Oh, heavens.....I've been immortalized in plush!

Eyeleen The Alien cloth doll

No crafty news to report today - sewing machine is still on the fritz (and I may have to dig out the ancient Janome whilst the Viking Husqvarna is in the shop) so all I will be working on will be hand hemming.

Bo-ring.  But sometimes, boring is nice.  Nice, and non-taxing.

Especially after cleaning up the "gift" my older cat left on the couch cover for us to find last night after we got home from the movies.

Laundry at eleven, anyone?

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Off the Needle

Wow, it's been longer than I had anticipated since I've gotten to any crafting, sewing, or anything else!  Serving on a couple different committees, one board, and wrapping up loose ends for a volunteer position I really don't want to give up, but have to.  In the middle of all of this, a family member became extremely ill and required emergency surgery (and is just now starting to come out of the woods) - it's been a long, long week. Or two.  I've lost track.

I have been doing some hemming & alterations for a family friend; though that's not truly blog-worthy, it is still something accomplished.  Some weeks, that's all you can celebrate.

So the other day, when Son #1 approached me and asked if the Girlfriend could come over to get some help on a biology project, I took it as an opportunity to do some crafting - slightly odd-ball crafting, but crafting nonetheless.  Could I help her make a baby for a demonstration?

Whoa.  That sounded like a loaded question, for sure.

Turns out that each group in the class took on a different system in the body and needed a report, research, a display board and some kind of visual effect for their presentation.  The Girlfriend's group is doing the reproductive system.

Oh.  Okay.  (Whew!)

They will be making a paper-mache "womb," from which a demo baby will be shown being "born."  It needed to be flexible, sort of generic, soft, not weighted, and not necessarily biologically accurate.  Not like the pseudo-babies you sometimes see high school sex ed students carrying around haphazardly (you know, the ones that are supposed to teach teens reasons to abstain).

Off we went to pick out some flesh-colored cotton fabric.  Of course, as soon as we went past the dollar fabric bin we both had to go through it.  And then there was the remnant gauntlet to run.....LOL!  I am a confirmed fabric-a-holic.  I will be the first to admit it.  No cure, sorry.  And it looks like I'm training a new recruit.

Back home again, we look on the internet and find a free cloth baby doll pattern (if any of you sew for charity, there are some terrific, easy patterns here) that can be used for personal purposes or to give away.  It was just the right size, easy to sew in no time at all, and cute.  We printed out the pattern, and after cutting it out, for some strange reason, it reminded me of all those CSI shows on TV:

A sewing victim.

I started sewing and got almost all the way around it - until my machine started jamming up.

Oh, No!  She's gonna hurt me!  Oh, Noooooooooo!

Rats.  Off the needle, cut the rats' nest out of the bobbin area, rethread, start the machine again.  Jammed again.  And again.  I'm thinking now that after this particular embroidery snafu, I may have actually done some damage to my sewing machine after all.  This cloth baby may turn out to be more expensive than just all the extra remnants I purchased today.  Sad face.  It was already too late to take the machine in to the shop, so I had to sew the rest of the doll up by hand.  Tiny, tiny backstitches.  Turn it, stuff it, hand-stitch the "joints" for the arms & legs, stuff the head & body, then hand-stitch the back closed.  Then it was on to the umbilical cord.  Old pantyhose, stuffed with polyester stuffing, put some thin red and blue yarns strands into it to simulate the vein & artery, then pull it in tightly with more hand-stitching so it doesn't look out of proportion.

More hand-stitching than I've done in awhile.  I think I'll leave the rest of the hemming until tomorrow.

The Sewing Assistant, however, still thinks that he is the new furniture inspector.

Our newest knick-knack.

Isn't he realistic looking?

Don't even get me started on how he was...."helping".......when the technician came to the house to calibrate the big screen TV.  At least he didn't jump on the poor guy.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Never Enough Time for All These Ideas

Found a remnant at one of my favorite fabric haunts (M & L Fabrics in Anaheim) and I just have to make something with it.  Only problem is, I have about 500 other projects that I "just have to make" sitting in my workroom as I speak.  I know I'm not the only one with this problem, but I don't want this remnant to disappear before I can figure out what I'm going to do with it.


Yes.  Those are Samurai swordsmen galloping around the fabric.  Much too cool to pass up.  It's a simple cotton, so I'm thinking it may not be sturdy enough for a handbag.  But I want it on something that's going to get used, something that will be seen.

I know what you're thinking.  The Cat Bus needs something made out of this.  He's actually more Ninja-like; but I wonder if I'll ever find something along those lines?  Besides, he's shedding copiously at the moment (thank you, Santa Ana winds) and he would obscure those neat Kanji or the Samurai themselves.  Within minutes.  He's currently supervising a minor remodeling project involving white furniture, and my son and his friend are at their wits' end trying to keep him off of/out of/away from said white furniture.  Silly me, when checking to see if the unit doors had come in at Ikea, I found some white curtains in the "As-Is" bin (another of my favorite haunts).  After seeing him unload a second cat's worth of fur all over the furniture, I can just imagine what the bottom of the curtains will look like by the end of next week.  Thankfully, they are washable.  And for less than $40 for two sets (one for the family room, and one to replace the vertical blinds the Sewing Assistant has completely trashed in my bedroom), I couldn't pass them up, even if it means washing them every week.

Cat-Bus in his newfound garage.  Also known as TV stand.

Oh, Hai!!!  You iz jus' in time to see garage become Ninja-Warrior Kitteh bed!

Comfy...I kin has napz now?  

Maybe I should put the Samurai fabric at the bottom edge of the curtains......