Wednesday, January 14, 2015

How-to - A Leather Sheath

Don't let leather work scare you, it's just sewing with tough materials. Plus hammers. Trust me, it's awesome!

 I've had this lovely hand forged knife for a few years now, using it for camping and cosplay alike. It's a very functional blade, comfortable in the hand, holding a good sharp edge.

I can't say that the sheath has lived up to the blade. Pictured is the second little sleeve I've made, just quick coverings made in a few minutes with a scrap of very thin leather. After a small bit of use the stitched become cut by the blade, and the tip pokes thru. Not a good way to carry it in your pocket!

I made some sketches of a simple one piece holster, and then took measurements. The whole item, sheath and belt loop are all one piece. Thus, the cover of the blade is the finished side of the leather, but the loop is sueded side out.
 I used rivets instead of stitching, to avoid the aforementioned cutting thru problem. The long post rivets let you try the item out before you commit with a whack! I was a bit generous on my measurements, so I brought in the bottom a bit. Notice the old holes near the edge of the leather, I simply cut a new shape after the riveting was done.
 The belt loop was a simple flip, and I made sure to measure it on the belt and give some room to slide. I then attached a little button strap, it loops thru the handle to secure the knife. Those snap sets are tricky to get thru the leather, I made marks with the prong halves and used an awl to poke all the way thru.

There was lots of hitting things with a hammer. A good kind of crafting violence!
 Perfect fit! Form and function, both in the knife and the holster. This knife has deserved better since I got it, now the world is right and good (For my belt anyway, still some other issues to work out.)

What is your favorite mix of beauty and everyday use?

Monday, January 5, 2015

New Curtains!

 Do you have an hour? A Yard or more of cute fabric? Make yourself some curtains, they will change your life room.

Before - Old scratchy lace curtains. Once they were white, but a layer of dust and food particulates has made them more "off-white". These are so boring I often forget I have curtains, only noticing when it's cold out and I want to cover the windows.

After - Holy shit, look at how cute that fabric is. I could have made a dress from it and ended up looking like Ms. Frizzle teaching food preservation. But for simply displaying an awesome print in all its glory, housewares are a sure bet.

Beehives overlooking the mead stash? Yes please! These curtains also offer a bit of shielding, like actually blocking one's view and darkening the room. Thus waaaay more useful than the fruu-fruu lace business.
  Each one took well under an hour, a bit more than a yard of the fabric, and the same cut of muslin. I ripped all my fabrics for square pieces. The three windows were slightly different dimensions, but I used the width of the fabric (44") as the horizontal measure. A little extra makes for some bunching and curling, not to mention good coverage. I ripped both fabrics straight down the center to split them.
 I measured the existing curtains, and the thickness of the rods. The lace curtains have a trim above the rod, about the same width as the rod space, which gives them a nice ruffle.

I marked double the rod thickness, and sewed the sides and bottom.  Line up the selvedge edges, it's easy to see thru the muslin and stitch right at the end of the print.

The last 2.5" of each fabric are rolled and stitched, this will be the rod holes. (Insert sex joke here.) Then the top is stitched, right sides together. The whole shebang is turned through either of the holes, just like a pillow or stuffy.
After turning, I top stitched the sides and bottom, stopping and starting at my rod holes. Two rows of stitching made across the top sandwich the rod and leave a little ruffle on top.

Out with the ineffective, boring, old curtains; In with some cute, colorful, functional pieces! Even my kitchen fairy seems to approve...

Such a small change, but it's impacted the kitchen in a big way! Much faster than a new coat of paint, but it's almost as big of an impact. I may end up with some spares to switch out, I do have enough fabric stashed away after all...

Go make stuff that brightens your life!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Turning Red

I'm preparing to do a teardown and rebuild of my spinning wheel this season. She put in a whole lot of hours for spinzilla, she deserves some pampering. In addition to the wood spa action, I was considering spiffying up the old girl. I intend to stain it a new color, and add some wood burning.

 First, is the making of the stain. (Of course I'm making it, that's how I roll.) I used alkanet as the dye stuff, alkanet it a root with a rich crimson color, but the dye particles are only soluble in oil or alcohol. Traditionally it has been used to dye wines a darker red,  color wood, and in cosmetics. So, basically for making stuff look like other stuff (buyer beware!).

I added the dried root to olive oil, and heated it in hot water. It sat overnight and then I strained it. The gentle heat helped the herb infuse without breaking down the oil. I then added beeswax, broken up and grated. Can I just say that grating wax is the smartest thing I ever saw in a Pinterest post...
After the mix cooled, it became a very soft paste. I found an object to test on - an old spoon that has never satisfactorily seasoned. I gave it a light sanding since it was already lacking in a good finish, and polished it with generous blobs of the oil/wax mixture. 

As you can see, the results were less than mindblowing. The polish has brought out the grain, and given the spoon a much needed protective layer. But it's not really all that red...

I did some more reading, and will try adding the rest of the alkanet, ground to a powder, to infuse into the polish. See, not even a Craft Bitch gets it right the first time!

Friday, December 26, 2014

Sloe Gin Fizz

I have a dirty addiction - the BBC's historical re-enactments. I've watched historians recreate farms from every era, I'll stalk Dr. Lucy Worsley in anything she does, there's even a show which has Edwardian cooking tips. There goes your afternoon, you're welcome!

While watching the Victorian Farm series, I watched Ruth put together a few bottles of Sloe Gin, traditionally made with blackthorn drupes. She placed it in the pantry for the upcoming Christmas season. If there's two things I like it's foraging and booze!

Unfortunately, here in the western U.S. there is a lack of hedgerows with wild plums in them. Fortunately there is a decorative plum in my front yard! It's got rich purple leaves and bark, and makes small red plums. Not quite the same, but a decent stand in.

I put my small harvest in a jar, covered it in good local gin, and a shake of sugar. Traditional recipes call for a lot of sugar, and I prefer my cocktails less sticky. Plus, watching my weight or something..

The photo above was taken Oct. 1st, this is the end of December, nearly three months! A rich red color and fantastic fruity aroma has occured. It looks really good against that backdrop of fresh fallen snow don't it?

Now, for a Sloe Gin Fizz. A good cocktail must have at least three ingredients - mine has the infused gin, sparkling water, and lime. A Fizz is traditionally done with a whipped egg white, but I am lazy  I wanted to experience the full flavors of the gin.

Full measure of both, on top of ice, squeeze of lime, stir with a knitting needle.

Go outside into the snowy afternoon and enjoy the drink and the sparkling of the sun on the flakes.

Some research shows that sugar is an important ingredient for the chemistry of the whole mess, so I added a bit more and stuck it back in the pantry to infuse more. While it is totally awesome and delicious right now, I was hoping for a fruitier flavor. (I used good Gin, so it's hard to lose, really.) I'll crack it again in January and see how it's doing! Until then, I'll just have to drink mead...

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Gnomes Part III - Boots

For my army of little woolen gnomes, I'm trying outfit them for a cold winter. Woolen tunics, warm hats, fuzzy leggings, and of course nice leather boots to keep little feet warm and dry!

I rounded up some scraps of leather, I tried to use thin leather so I won't need to poke holes before sewing.
 I used a simple baby bootie pattern and scaled it down. There's a little foot shaped base, and a strip of leather long enough to go around it, with mitered corners. I stitched around the edge of the bottom, then stitched up the front where the two edges meet.
 For extra awesomeness be sure to have each flap cross a different direction, a matching pair!

I stuffed them with a little bit of wool and sewed them onto the bottoms of felted legs. I'm worried that they won't stay all that well, but so far it's working...
My gnomes can stand now! Next step - "Look Ma, No Hands..." (They need little mittens! I have decided against knitting itty-bitty mitts with lace thread and 00 needles.)

Monday, December 22, 2014

Blessed Yule!

This weekend was a full 48 hours of lighting fires in the darkness, making an unholy racket, and praising the sun!

The word Yule (or Jul as it's often spelled) is from the same root as "yell". The ancients seem to have gathered at sunrise after the longest night of the year to make a ruckus and wake up the Sun, lest she slip further beyond the horizon. So remember, carols should be sung at top volume and with much drumming and jingling of bells!

No matter which holiday you celebrate, may it be full of light and love!

And if you're in the Southern Hemisphere, enjoy your endless sunlight you rascals...

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Five Awesome Upcycling Projects for Sewers

 I am always on the lookout for good ways to make use of old materials. Unmatched buttons, bits of fabric, broken zippers and old notions. The best of the goods get rolled into my upcycled bags, but let's face it. I have a lot of fabric. A. Lot. 

So here's a sampling of good ways to upcycle those crafty bits, like into something exciting! Like purdy hangers, good for those of us with exposed closet spaces. Also, slippery clothing won't fall off.
From Corrieberry Pie
Or a cute little tree! Perfect for lonely little buttons, and that neat wood spool! (Let's not talk about how many empty spools I have in the craft room...)
From Kitsch and Curious
 Several ways to use old zippers? Yes please! I have an alarming number of busted zippers, and plenty of nice metal ones are available from the fly of old pants.
From Passion Make on Instructables.
Mmmmmm, little wee scraps! Stitching onto paper to give fabric a new life and purpose, and trees! (I really like trees, in case you didn't know.) One could of course branch out into any designs that suit the message... but trees are the best.

From Stitched in Color
 And here's the most practical of upcycling projects for the seamstress - a sewing kit! I find that us four-eyes tend to accumulate old glasses, and as I donate old frames I often keep the case, now I know why. See, just planning! I'm totally not a hoarder...
From Tea Rose Home
Now get out there and re-make cool things!