Saturday, February 28, 2015

No Waste Sewing (Almost!)

I made a thing! Not just anything, a Hangeroc inspired dress, with functional pockets and a fun swishy hem line. And this entire dress only took two yards of fabric. Yep, two yards.
Why is that number important? I mean, it's not that hard to make a dress with two yards... is it? Actually, it is. For a dress with an ample swingy shape that fits a medium sized frame two yards is almost a miracle. Two yards of fabric means saving lots of money (have you seen the price of fabric?) And also saving a lot of waste.

Let's talk scraps. Because I have lots of scraps. (Seriously, lots) And I LOVE scraps, cute little bits that are a memory of making a piece of clothing. I get bags of scraps from family, friends, estate sales, the local craft shop... sewing makes scraps. 

 This, this is all the scraps I have from making that dress. A few strip from squaring off the end of the fabric, the corners of my pockets, and those triangles are from straightening one section of hem. I think with some fiddling I could do away with that as well.

 How? Well, for inspiration I went back in history, waaaaay back! Consider this, if you have to hand wash, card and pick, handspin, dye, weave, and full every square inch of fabric in a garment, you ain't wasting it! Medieval reenactors have come up with a scheme for making an "Apron Dress" which has only straight line cuts and no waste.

The main shape of the dress is on the bottom of my drawing, the triangles above become the extra gores to make it ample and full, straps, facings, and pockets are all cut from the rest. The main difference from this and a reproduction piece is that I added some shaping for a modern silhouette. Thus, I needed a closure instead of having it loose enough to simply pull over my head.
 And here we are, a few hours of sewing, two yards of fabric - a cute, functional piece. And almost no scraps! Whatever will I use for decorating bags...

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Five Great Upcycling Projects for Denim

Upcycling Denim is kind of my thing, I have literal piles of old pants, bins of denim scraps, and loads of cut up pieces. Whenever I think I'm making progress, BAM  - someone brings be another box of torn-kneed denim. Seriously, some friends just leave it on my porch. So, for anyone who doesn't want to start a factory style assembly line of upcycled Denim Bags, here's some other project ideas!

One can, of course, simple cannibalize old pants for the fabric and sew any project you can imagine that involves some small pieces. I could not hope to make something so cute as this Adorable Whale, so I'll send you to it's creator!

Use the sturdiness of the material to your advantage! A long lasting rug can be made from even small scraps.

For the more ambitious, be inspired by the Scrap Lab. This chair is made from industrial scraps and suggest a plethora of furniture options. Perhaps with old chair frames that have lost their fabric bits?
 A sleek and simple choice - potholders from the pockets of old pants. (Be sure your machine can handle sewing thru that many denim layers!) Also, how crafty are the Finns!
If you want to turn those pockets into more spaces for holding things (as pockets are wont to do), consider an organizer. You might think it looks like overkill, and you don't have all that much stuff... you do. Unless your house looks like an IKEA catalog, you can totally find enough random things laying around to warrant wall pockets.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

One Bad Apple ... Makes a Good Breakfast

 It's February, the world is covered in a blanket of snow. Even the hardiest herbs are frozen back, the dandelions are frosted over. In short, there is not much fresh food to be had for the locavore!

There is, however, the last stocks of keeping food - potatoes, beets, cabbage, and apples. As the weeks go by I occasionally must pick thru our bags of apples from the Farm Share and pull out any with squishy spots. As the old adage goes, you can't let them sit there or the whole thing goes off. Fortunately, they are not beyond help. Removing the mushy bit is simple enough and the rest of the apple is sweet as ever, if less than crisp.

Stewed apples are the trick. Or, if you wanna get fancy call it a compote. The same plan works for rehydrating dried fruits as well! First, some seasoning to jazz it up. I made a bag of whole spices - cardamom, cloves, allspice, cinnamon, and star anise.

Then, to release the goodness of the spices, wrap up your bag tightly, and WHACK IT WITH A HAMMER!

Ok, don't do it too violently, you don't want bits of spice flying across the kitchen, just tap it lightly until you smell the spices.

 Add it to your pot of apple bits, along with a bit of sugar (not too much, these apples are plenty sweet on their own) and some liquid. I chose white wine. Because .1) it's really tasty with apples. 2.) it adds dryness to the stewed apples. 3.) I can have a glass while I cook.

I let the whole shebang cook on the lowest heat over night, then greeted a cold winter morning with waffles, apples, and whipped cream. And maybe some more wine. PROST!

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Finds - Snow Drifts

This winter has brought lovely (or miserable, if you prefer) weather to all corners of the U.S. Here in Colorado I have been watching with jealousy as the midwest and east coast get buried in piles and piles of snow. This weekend we are finally getting our due, a real storm with inches in the double digits! I'm hoping for a good blanket to cover the state and give us our much needed moisture. To get in the mood I was surfing the white flowing snow covered good of Etsy.
Vintage Postcard from Treasures2Cherish Don't cha' love that car?

 How do I love thee snow day, let me count the ways!

1.) Taking a snow day means sitting inside, bundled up with some tea, and getting crafty. Staying warm while preparing for braving the outside chill.
Fun chunky art yarn from TheBunnyBadger
2.) Or, perhaps making a non-wearable fiber art, some of us do have plenty of hats and scarfs thankyouverymuch.
Lovely minimalist wall art from SarahEichhornDesigns
3.) It's a good day enjoy the warmth and light of a fire, to be reminded that the sun is not, in fact, gone for long. If you don't have a fireplace handy, try a candle.
Sleek, simple, evocative winter candle holder by WishArtGlass

4.) I love any day I get to spend time with my hands. The joy of making and doing, the joy of having warm fingers when it's cold outside. 
Look at this magnificent stone! The swirls of snow, the dark silver, the sparkle. Made by AndewynDesigns

5.) The aftermath. After the storm has passed the sun will return, the fields of snow will sparkle, the icicles will drip from the roof, the earth will be nourished by the melt. The-day-after-the-snow-day has it's own charms!
Fantastically skilled reduction block print from LisaVanMeter 
I hope my readers who are currently snowed in get to embrace the joys of it! Spring is coming soon, and come July when everyone is bitching about the cold I'mma remind them of things they said cursing the snow in February.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Stamping Cards!

 Last week I attended a class at Share Denver, and rekindled an old love - Printmaking. In High School (and middle school!) linoleum blocks were a favorite medium of mine. I lost a lot of blood cutting those tough grey slabs.

So imagine my surprise (and delight!) when I arrived at the class and was presented with a soft pink block of rubber. It was like a squishy cloud, slicing like a block of cheese, flexible enough to roll across a stamp pad... it was magic. Why didn't we get these in school?! Oh right, they cost waaaaay more than those thin grey linoleum pads.
 I had decided I wanted a decorative set of stamps, so I cut my block down and carved a series of trees. There's two pines, two deciduous trunks, and four different canopies. (That's 8 different variations of deciduous tree, in case you were wondering.)
Did I mention you can carve both sides of the block?! Another reason this pink rubber business is worth it's weight in some mildly expensive metal.

We used stamp pads to create a stack of cards, each one of mine is unique. In fact, if I have three slots, 10 different trees, and two colors of ink I can make 720 different cards. Yep, that's what I got out of my one college math class.
 Things I would do differently in the future.

1.) cut each block to be actually the same size and with straight edges.

2.) Carve my trunks, then print them on the blocks for canopies before carving so the tops are perfectly centered without shenanigans.

3.) Drink more beer first so that I'm less worried about how neat my lines are.

4.) Actually, cutting tools are sharp, maybe scratch that last one.
Now I have generic any purpose cards and the means to stamp matching envelopes! You want me to write you a letter?

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Critters Valentines

I made these for my co-workers, roommate, and Mr. Crafty. Now I have to decide who gets each adorable one!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Valentines for the Universe

 I took part in this year's Aunt Peaches Valentine Swap - the premise is simple, send a few strangers a handmade Valentine to spread a little bit of crafty love. What could be better? (Click that link, it's neat blog, and she has few enough fucks to give that she called out a reader who failed in their Valentine making. That's my kind of sass!)

I wanted to spread bright, bold, colorful, fun around the world. Not light, fru-fru business. I already had the watercolors out (see my previous post) so I made colorful backdrops for stitching. I cut out a pile of hearts from a scrap of bold geometric print.
 Each card got four hearts stitched on to them. It's remarkably easy to sew on paper, though it has no stretch so I got some bunched fabric. The best part is that the stitches form a nice image on the back of the paper as well.
 I used this "blank" side for my writing. The message - The Universe Loves You! - was surrounded by doodles and swirls. I knew all that scribbling in the margins of school papers would come in handy one day...
I happened to have a bundle of Astrobright oversized envelopes, good thing since I didn't consider my card size before I started. (Might be a lesson in there, I'll let you know if I figure it out.) I sent all that love out to the world!

 I love the idea of spreading positive thoughts, compassion, and excitement to the world! It's a good practice to remind us of our power, and the importance of caring for others. I might meet the woman who received one of these cards one day, and I would never know that I had already touched her life in a good way. I'd hate to mess that up, so I try to think of every person I see as someone potentially worthy of a Valentine from the Universe.
And of course, the Universe reciprocates! I got a mailbox full of happiness. And yes, that is a flip-flop. Did you know you can mail anything so long as you can glue a stamp to it and read the address? Use that knowledge only for good gentle readers...

Are you making and sending Valentines this year?

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Painting - What I did on my January Vacation.

January has always been my slowest month for bag sales. After the shopping orgy of the Yuletide people seem to be broke and tired and generally not buying much. (Who can blame them?) Many years I've spent the month getting my inventory together and signing up for fairs, but this year I decided to take some time off from the business entirely. Other than Etsy and answering E-mails I didn't sew a stitch for Green Jeans!

But, I was not idle! I've been working for some time on a graphic novel idea, last year at Anomaly Con I met a number of local comic artist who were very inspiring, and I spent months doing sketches and honing stories. I decided at the turning of the new year to stop preparing and start doing! Done, after all, is better than perfect.
And so, after one month I have 10 pages of story, drawn, inked and colored with watercolors. I'm working on finding someone with more computer skills than I to do the lettering, I'm not crazy enough to do everything myself. I'll keep updating on this project, I expect to launch in the spring.

What do you do when you take time off from your number one hobby? (In my case, numbers 1-5)

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Winter Incense

 The Yuletide is long passed, which means that old trees are popping up each and every trash day. The Crafty Household has been dragging them home to be cut up for firewood and mulch, nice smelling work on a sunny winter's day. It's traditional to burn all the leftover Yule at Imbolc, but first I did some collecting...

I collected needles and branch tips from a variety of evergreens - Pine, Spruce, Fir, and even some Cedar and Juniper. I left them in this jar, breathable fabric on top, on a warm porch to dry for a few days. We've been alternating between blowing snowstorms and 70 F and sunny, just a normal Colorado January.
 Usually I do all my incense making in a small mortar bowl, but this was quite the pile. I used the Cuisinart to quicken the work. Pulsing it gently for a while.
 There were a few bits that hadn't dried as much as needed, so I put the whole thing in a cracked-open low oven. At this point Mr. Crafty and the Crafty roommate were attracted by the smell, and came to ask why this was not an everyday occurrence...
 After a short while drying further the needles all fell apart perfectly! I pulsed a while, not trying to pulverize the bits, just break them small enough to be heaped on a coal.

It fits a much smaller jar now! I can use it a bit at a time, grinding fresh what I'm going to burn. Yummmm, winter smell...  For Yule I made a version with cinnamon chips, clove oil, and frankincense. For Imbolc I added lemon peel and flowers. Note - don't put resins in your electric grinders, they will make a sticky mess!

Don't bother with cheap imitations, if you want a "Forest Fresh" scent, use the real thing!