Tuesday, March 31, 2020

The Spring Thing

Other than my one visit to the grocery store, I've been self-isolating at home for almost three weeks. Thankfully, yesterday was only my first tough day. It rained all day and what I really wanted was to meander around downtown, visit thrift and consignment stores, have coffee with a friend, talk to people, and eat cake which - of course - didn't happen. I had a nap.

This morning, the sun is shining. Thank God. It makes everything so much easier. I went for a walk around the small lake and smiled at the ducks doing the spring thing, waddling along in couples. As I was having coffee this morning, the heron t returned to the pond behind my house and settled into her usual nesting site. Some things are just as normal and this is good.

The bag I mentioned in the previous posting is on hold while I wait for a longer zipper to arrive. Meanwhile, I used the last of the skirt remnants to stitch together two pieces big enough to cut out the front and back of another purse. I am - literally and completely - done with these fabric scraps and that's a good thing. I plan to add paint, stenciling, and surface design to the outside. The lining...

... is also made from remnants - this time from a blouse, a pair of pants, and a bit more of the fuchsia. On one side, there is a flat pocket and on the other...

... a zippered pocket. This is a much easier method than inserting a zipper into a welt. The check fabric wraps around the edge of the polka dot forming the edges of the opening as well as the front inside of the pocket.

The two parts are sewn to the zipper with the zipper stop within the seam allowance on one end and the zipper pull extending significantly off the other end.

For the inside back of the pocket, I measured the length of the check fabric, interfaced and cut a piece that size, lined it up with the edges, and stitched in place leaving an opening where the zipper pull is. The zipper was then...

... pushed through the opening and the seam completed and then top stitched in place. As you can see above left, this makes a neat, tight end to the zipper. I love the check pocket inside.

Here is a picture of that side of the lining when completed. The section sewn below the pocket both makes the piece long enough and closes the bottom of the pocket.

With jewelry, I am working on this necklace. It has a back story that I'll talk about when it's completely finished. For now, I am waiting for beading wire and crimp tubes to arrive in order to finish it. The singular bead is one I bought thirteen years ago on a studio tour and this is the first time it may actually make it into a finished piece. The green beads were sent to me by a friend who lived in Germany at the time. It'll be fun to send her a picture of them used in one of my pieces... should it actually finish with them... one never knows.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - sunshine

Friday, March 27, 2020

Navigating New Experiences

Wednesday was my first outing in ten days. It was a novel experience. I put on make-up, did my hair, and wore a really fun outfit with my signature element - a statement necklace. YES YES

First, I went to the post office to pick up three parcels with customs fees. Apparently, the border agents have more time for packages right now. I doubt that I've paid duty on three packages in the five years since I moved to this house. Unfortunately, a lot of the jewelry supplies I want come from the United States. Good for the US - bad for exchange and duty.

Second, I went to the grocery store. I think the silver lining of this coronavirus situation will be a new appreciation for what we took for granted. Because there absolutely were not any on the shelf, I could not buy canned corn, paper towel, brown sugar, butter, parchment paper, or baking soda. That sounds like a lot of people are baking which would be a very poor choice for my hips so luckily I wanted the baking soda to neutralize liver of sulfur before disposing of it. I bought a version in the pet aisle. I doubt the combination of soda and OxiClean is going to be an issue for me but it's a powder product, meant to be sprinkled, and OxiClean is meant to be wet, and I just don't get it. Maybe because I don't have a pet. OH... maybe it's that kind of wet!

Not being able to buy what I want is a new experience that I'll have to learn how to navigate especially when it comes to unfinished projects. Since my twenties, when I was drowning in them and made a decision to finish things as I went, I rarely have more than one UFO and that's only because I literally don't know what to do and I go back to it once the next project is finished. Right now, I'm making my daughter a prototype of this gold purse that I bought at the thrift store. I wanted to repurpose the purse zipper from a previous prototype only it's too short. Our local Fabricland is closed so I will need to order it on-line while moving on to the next project and possibly the next, which is a foreign concept. I am going to need a strategy.

The exterior fabric is a dark blue upholstery remnant that I layered and stitched with denim blue thread. Originally, I'd intended to cover the surface with free motion circles only I didn't have the mental fortitude for circles, reminded myself it is a prototype, and used straight lines instead. The lining is made from remnants of a skirt. I had two pieces large enough to cut out the main parts and the rest is pieced.

For the flat interior pocket, I pieced the outside and used a fuchsia cotton for the inside rotating the tube slightly so the fuchsia created a band that will make the pocket both easier to find and more fun. The fuchsia was also a remnant.

The flat pocket will go on one side of the lining and this zippered one on the other side. The zipper is re-purposed. It had some paint on it but that's okay since it's the perfect colour. I do not have a lot of practice sewing welt pockets with or without an exposed zipper. Before beginning, I reminded myself that at one time I couldn't insert zippers or make buttonholes and I can learn this too. The stitching is...

... less wobbly to my naked eye than it is in this detail image but it is good and done and I learn to do by doing. On a funny note, I did a super good job and then realized that I'd make a measurement error and the opening is 6 1/2" when it could have been 9 1/2". Oh well!

I use that same reminder to encourage my jewelry work. I'm getting better at wire wrapping and forging but need significantly more practice with findings and stringing. This piece ended up a tad too long but as I'd already redone attaching the clasp three time I left it for now. I look forward to the day when my technical skills catch up with my design ones and I see substantial progress. For now, let's just call it organic and rustic.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - YouTube and on-line classes

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

What Do You Know?

What do you know about yourself that will help you weather this current situation more easily?

Typically, I clean house while my tenant... who is also my youngest son... is at work only he's working from home now so I cleaned Saturday morning instead. I didn't realize it was going to be that kind of clean.... the kind where I'm drastically removing visual clutter and streamlining things.

Being home alone is not new to me. I've worked out of my home studio since the early nineties and I'm comfortable with my own company. I am well stashed up and have plenty to do and didn't think I was all that stressed only this kind of clean usually happens when I'm on edge since too much visual stimulation jars my system even further. Everyone has what I call a clutter control point - before it, they can work and after it, they can't. If I start dropping things on the floor, I'm over the edge.

SO... jewelry making uses a lot of tools that are best left out and easily accessible. I prefer closed storage where I can't see everything. I'm not sure if there is such a thing as a tool garage but I may need to figure out something like that - a less visual system for my steadily growing collection.

My instructor retired after this last Creative Metal Arts workshop and sold off the copper sheeting at ridiculously low prices so an entire tubful came home with me and went under the workbench. Because I can't attend the other workshops I'd signed up for this spring, I used that money to buy tools and supplies that also went on and under the workbench. And then, I needed a stool to sit on or rest against while working for longer stretches. And sudden, tool-by-tool, supply-by-supply, the work space became visually cluttered...

... and that was irritating me every time I walked into the studio. What I know about myself is that this will make it impossible for me to work so I decided to switch the two workbenches so the white one with the dresser underneath would be viewed straight on. I'd already moved two of the overhead shelves across the room where my assembly desk is and had to shift the remaining one to accommodate hanging the motor for the flex shaft... which also irritates me... having that dangling in the air... and I'll have to come to terms with it since it has to hang.

Whichever of the previous owners framed the basement had some very strange construction habits and tended to use whatever there was. My guess is that the inside of that wall is made up of bits and scraps because it's impossible to find a continuous stud. In the spirit of not leaving the house and using what I had, I used E6000 to glue the supports to the wall - VBG. They are very firmly anchored in place now.

It's subtle but above is the after image and below is the before. What isn't in the picture is all the things that had begun to pile up under the wooden surface. Trust me, they were irritating. More fine tuning will happen. I am going around the house looking for storage pieces that could be moved here instead... like the end tables from the guest room. While I love glass containers, having broken a few with the heavier tools they are obviously not the best choice for this space. Perhaps wooden boxes.... Hmm... there are a few upstairs.

Another thing I know about myself is that I like a challenge to solve. I like putting together puzzles, finding more efficient ways to do things, organizing, and a really good question. Shortly after I moved here in 2015, while renovating the main floor, I fell head first down fourteen stairs because my sock caught on an exposed nail which was also a good thing since it prevented me from landing on my head on the cement floor below. Instead, I crashed down on the stair noses with the heaviest impact on my right hip which is now 1 1/2" larger than my left hip due to a permanent injury. It is also shaped differently which has impacted my clothing choices. Wide legged pants tend to lift up and stick out. Only, I want to sew some wide legged pants so that will be one of my challenges - to make a muslin and figure out the best place to add a wedge that will bring the hemline into level.

Some would find this tedious. My mind likes figuring out stuff like that and the challenge will keep me happily occupied for a while. In the future, this will mean cutting out the pieces individually - a right front, a right back, a left front, a left back - and that's okay because I also like patterns with a lot of individually cut pieces. Although it takes more time, there's no rush. I sew primarily for the entertainment and exploring creativity. Clothing I actually wear is a bonus. Good to know.

Katherine Tilton designs a lot of patterns with individual pieces. Above is out-of-print Butterick 5891 sewn in a navy linen with a running stitch in embroidery floss used as top stitching. I wore this top until it faded into oblivion so I'll definitely be replacing it some time soon. This picture was taken before the fall but this out-of-print pant pattern from The Sewing Workshop still works great because of the belled bottom.

One of the t-shirt, I batch cut and sewed was Butterick 6492 using an absolutely gorgeous, incredibly soft, polyester rayon spandex blend that I love. Because I'd already tried on my friend's version of this top, I was pretty sure I was going to like it only I didn't. I do like to refashion so...

... I opened the side and underarm seams, laid it flat, and looked at what I needed to do to evolve it into a t-shirt I could wear. The sleeves were fine. They didn't need any changes. The bias front and empire seam line made me look pregnant so I cut it the bodice off straight across where the curved seam was and added more length and then...

... matched one of my T & T patterns up with the underarm seam, parallel to the center, and cut out the new side shape, repeating this on the back. I also lowered the neckline to my preferred shape and depth. Once the front and back where reshaped, the side seams were resewn, I hemmed it again, and it's been saved. It probably took longer to make these changes than it did to sew the original garment but that's okay. I've got time. I'd show you a picture of me wearing it only...

... I'm not wearing any make-up for the next few weeks. Since I'm at home and since I've worn make-up from the age of twelve, and twelve was a long time ago, and my hair is still looking half decent even though I couldn't go to my appointment last Thursday, I've decided to go make-up-less to give my face a solid break. I'm still doing my hair so I don't scare myself silly. Later, when my hair is less than best, I'll do my make-up, again so I don't scare myself silly. Hair and make-up have always been important to me so this is a new learning curve. Thankfully, my hair has its natural colour with minimal grey so emerging roots won't scare me.

SO... to repeat my earlier question... what do you know about yourself that will help you weather this current situation more easily? 

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - knowing myself, being comfortable alone

Saturday, March 21, 2020

An Admin Post

This post is simply to insert the code to claim this blog on Bloglovin. I deleted a previous post and then there were issues so this will stay put as an admin post - just in case.

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Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - developing community

Friday, March 20, 2020

I Am Still The Boss Of Me

These are interesting times and while the pandemic is not what I want to spend the majority of my time talking about, it certainly features heavily in my decisions BUT... no matter what... I am still the boss of me. I get to choose my reactions. I can remain calm or panic. I can wring my hands and wail my head off or I can smile at the sunshine through my studio door as I calmly sew stitch a bag for my daughter. I can contribute to the panic around me or help to keep us away from the edge. I can over inundate myself with the endless streams of information or watch enough to remain informed and otherwise take health actions like going into my studio and create...

... which frankly sounds way better. As I type this the sky is blue and the sun is shining. Outside, it's a beautiful day with or without the virus. In fact, with the virus, it's the perfect studio day - to stay in and experiment. I learn to do by doing and I will be doing a lot of reading, writing, knitting, sewing, and jewelry making. I'll be trying new techniques and experimenting with ideas and seeing where that path leads. YES YES!

As this image from my 2020 collage reminds me, I can hand craft the life I live within my home and use this time to grow an all sorts of holistic ways of which creativity is only one part.

For Christmas, I received a porch swing to hang just outside my studio on the yet to be built porch. Right now, as the snow is slowly disappearing and little bits of grass are starting to peak out and the ice on the pond is melting, many of my decisions for this spring have altered but not the desire to hang my swing and leisurely watch the pond behind my house come alive with ducks, heron, eagles, dragonflies, and turtles. It's such a blessing to live here. One project on my list is to paint fabric to make a covered cushion for my swing and maybe some throw cushions too - a comfy, curl up place. Hopefully the swing will hang outside the studio. If we're asked to stay inside, I can hang it there too with almost the same view. One side of the glass or the other, I can have my swing.

A younger me would have been in a panic about all that is going on. With the life experience I've gathered, I'm not thrilled but I am able to look forward to the artist retreat, to moving slow, to being right here in the right now, and to working with the my skills and the supplies in my studio. I'll post more about what I'm thinking next week. I've been writing once a week, every Friday, so far and plan to increase the number of post per week. I think it's important to connect and share and to support and encourage one another. BIG HUGS.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - that I am stronger than before, stronger than ever

Friday, March 13, 2020

Six And One More

A few weeks ago, I spent an evening cutting out a batch of t-shirts. Batch sewing is not my normal style; I'm more of a one-at-a-time person however....

... along with one that I had cut out previously, I sewed them in the morning hour over the next two weeks and now have seven new t-shirts. How amazing is that!

One is a denim blue. I made it from a pattern I drafted from a RTW t-shirt from Suzanne's. It turned out fabulously although I do think I'll add the pockets.

Here is a detail of the fabrics. The skirt is a copy of an Eileen Fischer RTW skirt that I bought at a consignment shop about three years ago, altered to lengthen, and have since sewn numerous times. The fabric is cotton and should be perfect for spring and summer.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - learning how to copy RTW

Friday, March 6, 2020

Shifting The Studio

Although my studios have ranged significantly in size, I have - thankfully - always had a space to leave my work out ready for whatever long or short bursts of time might be available. In this home, it takes up a a large portion of the downstairs, about 500 sq ft.

Making jewelry is a relatively new adventure that takes a considerable amount of storage for all the parts and pieces plus several dedicated working surfaces. I've started to figure out how to work comfortably and this week, bought the workbench with the wooden top for the forging station. It was the last piece of furniture I needed and meant shifting the studio to make it all fit together. Luckily, it is exactly the same height as the white table I already had and created an L shaped work bench with the heat station to the left and storage beneath.

This old student's desk with the purple chair is where I put the jewelry pieces together. Normally, I don't like to work facing a wall but being so close to the patio door makes it feel more open. I like the storage below for wire and infrequent supplies and there will be shelves above for parts the endless list of supplies like clasps and jump rings, beads and chain, found objects, old jewelry to be refashioned, and.so on. You may notice that I have a fondness for glass jars and frequently use them for storage that is both contained and visible.

I love having a curl-up chair for sitting and pondering, drinking coffee, reading, knitting, hand sewing or just watching the world go by. If you have space for a chair, it's a lovely addition.

These book shelves have moved around and around with me. I've probably had them for over thirty years and while they are starting to show their age, they still work perfectly. In every studio I have not allowed stash to exceed space so I determine how much of each item I can have by designating x amount of space.As you can see, there's room for more books and that's true of most areas. I really like it that way. I believe some openness creates flow and brings energy to the studio leaving room for potential. The green dresser was in my bedroom at one point. Right now, two drawers hold patterns and two hold yarn.


I require a lot of personal space. It really bothers me when people stand or sit too close and apparently that extends to having enough, and dedicated, work surfaces. Without them, I have trouble doing more than one task in the studio and my work is more stilted. The island is a sewing surface, primarily for cutting out patterns and pressing although I will clear it to paint when adding surface design to project fabrics. Its shelves, drawers, and cupboards contain sewing supplies and the white cabinets behind hold my fabric stash.

This studio functions very well. It's not pretty but definitely prettier than when I bought the house. It was such a mix-up of choices that I painted everything white when I moved in so - hopefully - no one will notice that there is some crown molding and some not, some dropped ceiling and some not, some baseboards and some not, some vertical paneling, some horizontal paneling, some drywall, a cement floor, and a missing door. Ugly little duckling that it is, I have plans to make it a swan at some point but for now, it's mine and I'm so grateful to have it.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - work space for both heating and forging