To be a bit cliché, this shoemaker is a professional Web Developer and her child is this blog, but it was past time to launch what I have of a new design. All the content is still here, everything else is a work in progress (kind of like most of my sewing projects)!
In 2012, I started a steampunk costume that never seemed to take flight. The only finished piece is the skirt stay/brooch, created in collaboration with my friend Katherine Koba (who did all the beadwork, and continues to create the mathematically-inspired jewelry in her Etsy shop).
The backstory for the character I dreamt up to costume included Ada Lovelace as her godmother, inspiring her to tool about with Babbage’s analytical engines. While the character is fictitious, Lady Ada King, Countess of Lovelace was not—she’s considered the first computer programmer, having theorized how the Analytical Engine could do calculations decades before an electronic computer was built. So, in honor of Ada Lovelace Day (the middle Tuesday of October every year), here is a post about the brooch (finally!).
With computers, everything boils down to zeros and ones—electric current on or off. Calculations are performed by circuits of varying complexities. One of the more basic is called a full adder, which we modeled this brooch after. As you might guess from the name, it adds numbers together.
In the beadwork, the inputs are splayed across the top and the results (sum and carryover) are dangling from the bottom, with the gates and intermediate results between. The smaller, purplish beads are numbers—1 or 0—and the larger orange and gold represent the logic gates—gold for AND, orange for XOR. The white beads are filler for the paths between the gates.
The beadwork is mounted on a base made from bicycle gears (we can pretend they’re from an analytical engine) that were superglued together and spray-painted. I can’t speak for Koba, but I think sizing the wires correctly was the most difficult part of this—particularly since the gears and I were in Utica, and Koba and the beads were in South Korea!
Plumleigh can’t do any actual calculations with this full adder, but it certainly is a fun accessory to wear while she fiddles with a real set of circuits solving any manner of problem.
Projects like this are just one of the myriad ways STEM sneaks into my crafting. How does it influence your hobbies?
A group of us are starting a Modern Quilt Guild here in Vermont. It’s very exciting, but also a bit drudging trying to get everything set up and official and to get the ball rolling with actual guild-type stuff rather than being all about business, business, business, and “do we want to be MQG-official?”, et cetera.
At our September meeting, we had our first demo, potholders based on the ones in Zakka Style—a great demo idea, since it shows all the steps of quilting in one small package. To encourage members to try out the skills and techniques, we’re charged with bringing a completed potholder of any type to the next meeting.
I thought I should tackle two to-do items at once and get a head start on xmas gifts, so I made a matching set for a friend. I’ve been saving a charm pack of BasicGrey Origins for almost three years now, purchased with this friend in mind. I paired it with stashed ivory linen, a brown texture print from JoAnn Fabrics (I had nothing in my stash that matched the linen and charms. Amazing!), and an embroidery from Urban Threads.
After I finished, I remembered that we said we’d do a swap at the meeting, so I made a third for that (a great time to incorporate what I learned from earlier mistakes!).
That time around, I cut the binding as a 2.5″ strip instead of the 3″ that I used for the other two, since I wasn’t entirely happy with the width. Next time, I know to use 2.75″; 2.5″ is slightly too narrow for me to machine finish cleanly.
I pieced the 2.5″ hexies by machine (not perfect, but nothing a liberal amount of steam couldn’t handle), and turned them into a pouch for better gripping (making the pretty side the won’t-get-shoved-into-food-accidentally side, which makes the ivory far more practical). All three are 8.5″ square, with a layer of Insul-Bright and low-loft cotton batting between. I do wish I’d remembered to add a hanging loop to my friend’s, and am not entirely happy with the contrast quilting on the back (which makes the un-quilted, embroidered area even more obvious).
As for the guild, join us the last Sunday of every month, 10am-noon, at Nido in Burlington!
Near the end of every semester, I send finals week care packages to my younger sisters (which also happens to conveniently fall near their birthdays in the spring and autumn). While they mainly contain tea, chocolate, pens/markers, post-its, and something relaxing, I try to slip in something me-made every time as well (to varying degrees of success).
This semester, they moved into an apartment together, so I thought of the perfect gift: a set of kitchen towels with awesome embroideries that I found on Urban Threads. Useful, not so precious that they can’t be used, and amusing.
There is one embroidered towel and one plain one in each set, each measuring around 16″x21″. One of these days, I’ll be making a set of my own from this one, which perfectly sums up my introverted down days: “Happiness is a cup of tea and a really good book.”
We’ve always ganged up a bit on the younger one, who claims she now reads, but didn’t for many years, so she got a different design (which could double as a coffee cup, since that may be her caffeine-delivery vehicle of choice). It may also be fitting for me to hang at work, if you ask my coworkers about my state of mind at our scrum every morning: “Death before decaf.”
I made the four towels from a yard of textured cotton I found in the utility section of JoAnn Fabrics. While not explicitly labeled toweling, it’s a great texture for a hand towel. I used cotton Gutermann thread to embroider them, matching the needle and bobbin threads. The 150m spools had just enough thread on them to get through the embroidery, then I switched the bobbin up to feed through the needle and put a cream bobbin to hem the edges. It made for an efficient use of a single spool that could have ended with a run to the store had anything gone wrong (I like to live a little dangerously some times).
Now, to start scheming about what to make for November’s package…
Spring is slow coming here in Vermont—it’s truly mud season rather than flowering wonderland—but we had the chance to see a few blooms when we traveled down to New Jersey for Easter with Carl’s family. Even the bees were out and about.
For the past few years, Carl’s been stuck having travel toiletries either mixed in with mine in a bright pink bag I received as a free gift with a cosmetics purchase or in a zip-lock baggie (required on planes, pretty lame by car), so I thought it high time that he have a toiletry bag of his own. Past time even, considering he’s been traveling back to Utica every other week for work since we moved up here last July.
It’s a slightly smaller version of the cosmetics bags I’ve made over the past couple of years with squared-off corners and without the wrist strap. The fun part was making my first project out of leather. I picked up an unlined leather shirt/jacket at the thrift shop to play with and still have plenty of scraps leftover for more bags or whatever else I dream up.
Since the outside is leather, I quilted the lining to give the bag extra body. If I make another, I may try to stick to heavyweight interfacing instead, as the batting gives the lining too little drape. The bag doesn’t keep its shape perfectly, but it does stand on its own, even when empty.
The lining is made from the scraps of his quilt. No one print was large enough for the whole bag, but I was able to limit it to three different ones. I stitched it all with a heavy duty thread, but still have learning to do about proper top-stitching length on leather. Overall, I’d say my machine handled it just fine.
It worked out well for our weekend trip, and I hope it serves him well with the various travels we’re sure to do this year. I also hope spring finally comes to Vermont—traveling is much more pleasant in gorgeous weather like we saw this past weekend.
With the emergency surgery needed for one quilt, I didn’t manage to finish the quilt for my friend’s soon-to-be-born daughter. I knew I needed something quick that would go with it, since we flew down to visit and attend her shower, so out came my trusty copy of Simplicity 2613.
The quilt uses Heather Ross’ Nursery Versery fabric (among others) and Nido was having a sale, so I picked up extra for this project. I had a bit of yarn and large rickrack that coordinated for the ossicones and tufts of hair on the neck.
It rattles, thanks to some sort of plastic capsule I had around and pearled barley from my cupboard.
Once I finished the stuffed giraffe, I thought the gift needed a little something more, so I grabbed a FQ of another Nursery Versery print (that will also be the backing of the baby quilt), paired it with a pale yellow and white flannel (backing) and pink linen (binding) from my stash, and made a whole-cloth doll quilt to match.
She’s not due until April, so I still have time to finish up the quilt, but I’m happy to have made these accessories in time.
My mom and younger sisters are visiting, so my projects are on the back burner in favor of time spent with them. 2013 was the first year in my life that I didn’t step foot in my home state of Missouri, so I’m thrilled that they came to VT despite the horrendous weather across the country this week.
Books have been a theme this trip and my oldest younger sister is a voracious reader, so I stole a bit of time this morning to round out her holiday gifts with a quick sewing project.
This bookmark matches the quilt I made her a few months ago. I sneakily picked up the turtle charm from the Danforth Pewter store when we were shopping yesterday, and added in a couple of beads that I’ve had for years. There are two layers of stabilizer inside to give it a bit of rigidity, and I whipped out rusty macrame skills on embroidery floss for the tassel.
My email archive tells me that the class to make this box was last September; it’s about time I finished it up! It was a free class at the Viking Sewing Gallery, and the project was meant to demo the decorative stitches and a new foot. I didn’t use the fancy foot, but my box turned out well enough.
It’s basically just a 8.5″ cube with no top. The sides are quilted to the batting, with a floating lining. The project was on the Husqvarna Viking site at one point, but since they redid everything, I can’t find it.
When I started it, it was a great stash buster that allowed me to use up the ends of various thread spools for the fancy stitched parts. I pulled the other fabrics out of my stash as well, thinking it would be a great accessory to a future quilt. I still think it will be, but no quilt is in the works yet. I did find the stack of fabrics, though—it was my collection of Savannah Bop that had gone missing in my sewing room a few weeks back.
I finished the decorative stitches and piecing for the outside (including quilting) in the class or soon after. It’d just been sitting around waiting to be assembled ever since. I don’t know why I waited so long—it took less than 20 minutes to finish up.
I know of at least one baby quilt that needs to be made later this year, so perhaps it will go to those expecting parents. Regardless, it is nice to have yet another finished project from the WIP cubbies.
I certainly seem productive lately! I guess that is the advantage of finally tackling my collection of almost-abandoned projects.
My mom’s Christmas gift was a matching set composed of a quilted cosmetic bag, eyeglasses sleeve, and curling iron sleeve. Unfortunately, I may not have photographed it. I also promised to make a matching zippered bag for her purse, but didn’t finish it in time for Christmas. It’s suddenly the end of June, but now it’s made!
I was in the groove, and made a few more small storage pouches for myself; they’ve been on my to-do list for a while. I wrote a tutorial about the first ones I made over a year ago.
Since I still had fabric to match my mom’s set, I made one for her too. Because I used the last of my Velcro on mine, I improvised by adding a flap that closes with a button. There’s also an inner divider in hers using up the last of the yellow contrast fabric.
Not bad for about an hour and a half of sewing time!
I don’t want to sound prideful, but I’m proud of myself—I’ve made a good dent in my WIP storage lately. This photo is from Sunday:
At the beginning of the month, all twelve cubbies were full. Since the photo, I’ve also cleared out a small one that held Mom’s fabric; cut apart the pieces for my Miniatures Nine-Patch (one of the post-it marked ones); and migrated my EPP stuff to its new home in my new bag. Damn, it feels good to be a gangsta WIP finisher. Granted, that’s not my only WIP storage, but it’s a good feeling to have finished some projects, made progress on others, and organized even more.
Did you make any resolutions to tackle WIPs this year?
My friend that also went on the retreat back in February pointed out that I make all these cosmetic bags, yet mine were in one of those free-with-purchase “gifts” from a department store cosmetic brand. She quipped about the “shoemaker’s children” and how I should get around to making myself one. I still haven’t made a cosmetic bag, but I did finish up another UFO for myself.
Back in November, I mentioned paper piecing a small block to go on a bag for my EPP and other handwork projects. I made the bag exterior, and let it languish on my shelf for… eight months now. So, this weekend, I decided to UFO bust and dragged out the bag.
The problem with letting a project that you dreamed up and didn’t write any notes down about languish for months on end is that you have no idea where you were going with it or what the measurements were. Somehow, I managed to cut out a lining of the right size, and managed to sew it in without too much trouble.
I even made a zipper bag and two Velcro pouches with leftover fabric—great for keeping bits of fabric separate, and to act as thread catchers, etc. The largest scrap I now have of the hedgehog print is a 2.5″ square—talk about efficient cutting (completely by luck)!
The outside has a few pockets, and a small needle/pin section.
And the inside has a pocket as well, with an elastic top to help keep things inside.
I don’t know what I was thinking with the handle, but without the strap where it is, the front is too long for the bag. I added a hook that keeps the flap connected to the top of the front by way of a button-hole, while still allowing access to the pockets, but I may rip off the strap and affix it to the sides at a later date.
For now, I just need to load it up and see how it works. It’s large enough to carry around my iPad and notebook, so it may work as a purse, too.
Hooray for finished projects! I’ve actually managed to empty out quite a few of my UFO/WIP cubbies lately (at least it seems so—although some of it has been by condensing things into other locations, I think). I think that means my project ADD will kick in again soon. 🙂
Have you managed to finish any UFOs or WIPs recently?
… or Mini Mid-Week Montage. Whatever alliterative title floats your boat.
It’s not my design wall, this time, but another one:
This hand-pieced and hand-quilted variant of Contrary Wife or Steps to the Alter is another block done by my grandma. Because it is quilted already (I don’t know if she was trying out a technique, or learning QAYG, or what), I didn’t want to keep it for use in a future project. A 12″×12″ picture frame turned out to be the perfect solution. I don’t know if I’m sold on the white frame, but it seems to just be primed—easily paintable in the future.
My focus continues to be cleaning and organizing, lately. I did start up my sewing machine the other night though.
See what my dog did to our brand new guest-room sheets?
A bit of stabilizer and my machine’s built-in darning stitches later, and it’s fixed—in the other three places too!
Yes, trimming his nails would also be good. We’re working on that one.
Speaking of this cleaning spree, have you ever had fabric go missing? In theory, I should have a whole stack of quarter yards from this one fabric line. I cut a couple of strips off of each at one point, and know where those are, but I cannot find the remaining pieces of yardage anywhere! I am positive I didn’t give it away, but it’s nowhere in my sewing room.