A Cute Skirt For a Cute Niece

Disclaimer: This post is a repost from my old blog, which was more personal and less crafty.  I don’t use that blog anymore, but thought I’d share some of the craft-related posts from there.  This one was from January 2016.


 

With the success of the Great British Bake Off, the BBC decided to add to the “Great British” series with the Great British Sewing Bee.   I liked this show as much as the Bake Off, because I am a fledgling seamstress.

One of the challenges they do every episode is to give the contestants a plain item of clothing which they must completely and utterly alter. For instance, in one episode they were all given a plain blue shapeless t-shirt to transform.

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My favourite was this beautiful technique.

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In another episode they all got to pick an 80’s power suit to transform.

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I decided that it was something I wanted to try. If nothing else, it’s a good exercise for practicing my skills. However, I am quite large. So I knew it would be difficult to find something big enough to make something for me, so I settled on making something for my little niece.

With that in mind, I picked up this stripy shirt…

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And I knew what I wanted to do with it. The first step however was unpicking this rouching (not the technical term) on the back so I could use as much of the fabric as possible.

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Luckily that was just a case of cutting the elastic on the inside in a few places.

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Next step, trim the shirt to reveal the fabric I had to work with. I needed two pieces. Fold each piece into quarters and cut out a circle waist. The internet told me the average waist size of an 18 month old, and I found something that was approximately the right size.

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Cut out the circles from both pieces of fabric…

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…and overlay the two pieces, with the points at angles with each other.

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You could tack around the circle here, just to keep them in place.

The next step is the waistband. I cut a piece of elastic to just a bit smaller than my niece’s waist, pinned it together and marked the ends with pins.  I marked the halfway points as well, and then the quarter marks of the circle on the fabric. I aligned the elastic with the skirt, pinning in place.

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Next up, sew the elastic to the skirt. I knew that when sewing elastic you’re meant to use a zig zag stitch, but I couldn’t remember if you were supposed to stretch the fabric as you sew or not. I erred on the side of not, and still managed to get some give in there.

My cutting skills need a bit of work. My sewing skills still leave a lot to be desired too, but it works.

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I somehow managed to mess up joining the ends of the elastic, and had an ugly little bump.

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But I am a creative genius! And I figured out how to solve the problem.

Isn’t it cute?

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Waterbrush Experiments

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Things I have learned in the last hour..

One… do not outline in paint.

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Two… be patient and wait for one colour to dry before adding another colour right next to it.

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Three… I have one good brush and a bunch of crappy ones.

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Four… while the wide brush makes great rainbows when held sideways…

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… it does not work for details and small areas.

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Five… gradients are pretty (this is a cheat really cos I already knew this).

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Six… my unknown-brand watercolours are less pigmented than my Reeves pan.

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Seven… the cheap waterbrush I got from AliExpress leaks when you squeeze it.  I need a proper one.

 

 

Remakes Are Not Always Better

Disclaimer: This post is a repost from my old blog, which was more personal and less crafty.  I don’t use that blog anymore, but thought I’d share some of the craft-related posts from there.  This one was from April 2017.


 

There was a thing going around the craft forums online last year, to pick a project you made years ago and remake it. To pick something you made when first starting your craft, and see how far you’ve come.

I decided to remake this little turtle…

That little guy was first made way back in November 2009 – literally a month or two after I first started crocheting.

I had another attempt 8 months later, that came out looking a little… off.

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And then my recent remake..

I’ve always known that the plushies I make are slightly weird looking. I guess I hoped that 8 years would’ve improved my crochet skills a little better than that, but there you go.

To be honest, I haven’t crocheted many plushies in years. I knit a lot of mini aliens, but I mostly crochet blankets. Blankets I can do.

Draw This In My Style

Months and months ago there was an art challenge making the rounds on Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.  Artists would post a piece of art, and challenge people to #drawthisinyourstyle.

Since I’ve been doing pretty much nothing but drawing for almost a year now, I decided to have a go.  I picked one of my favourite YouTube artists, Kasey Golden, and her gorgeous cactus lady image.

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I did my sketch in July, actually.  I just got distracted with my many many projects.  Apparently I suffer from startitis (a crafter’s affliction in which one starts projects before finishing others) with art as much as I do with everything else.

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And then last week I finally got around to finishing her off.  I’m quite pleased.

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I enjoyed doing this.  I’m going to be on the hunt for more pieces to try, but since it’s a months old challenge, it might be a bit hard.  Let me know if you know of a piece I could have a go at.

Making Washiween a Thing

October means Inktober to a lot of people.  It also means many other challenges, as do all the months of the year.  You’d be surprised how many different monthly challenges there are out there: FairieFeb, March of Robots, MerMay, Junicorn.  It goes on and on.  I have a list in my bullet journal and I intend to attempt as many of them as possible.

There’s at least one on my list that I’m not entirely sure is “officially” a thing.  Arty Advent.  One of my favourite YouTubers, Baylee Jae, did Arty Advent last year in which she posted a new video every day of December until Christmas.  I don’t think it’s an official thing, but it’s something I’d like to do.  I did do a 25 Crafts of Christmas in 2016.

Another monthly challenge put out by a Youtuber is Washiween by SamBeAwesome

I have lots of washi tape, and “colouring” a piece in with tape is something I’ve wanted to try for a while.  So after seeing Sam’s video last week I got out my tape, and I had a go.

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I had lots of fun.  And I learned that I don’t actually have enough washi tape.  For instance, I only have thin flesh coloured tape and it doesn’t look quite right.  After I did that piece, I had another go…

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Even though I enjoyed this piece too – especially figuring out that if you hole punch tape you can get neat little tiny circles – there is a lot about it that I’m not too happy with.  My cutting skills are horrible, for example.  And drawing with the sharpie over the top is difficult with all the edges.  But, as with anything, I know that I’ll improve with practice.

And so today, while testing some supplies from Wish for an upcoming blog, I decided to make another #Washiween piece.

Wanting to use all 10 colours of the washi tape I bought from Wish, I added a background to it too.  This is where I discovered that cutting the edge can leave a bit of a mess, whereas wrapping the excess to the back is a lot neater.

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I’ve also learned that cutting eyes sucks… I need to get more sizes of hole punch.

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I’ve learned that I press too hard with the knife to do this on sketchbook paper.  The first piece was on mixed media paper, and the second was on 250gsm card.

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It’s difficult – nearly impossible – to see the lines you want to cut round.  I do think it might be easier using my lightbox, but I don’t want to use that until I trust my knife skills better.

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Here’s where I realised that putting the inner ears and nose in first was probably silly.

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And here’s where I realised that this tape in particular really does not like being stuck to itself, which is why he ended up with no spots.

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Lots to learn still, and lots of improvement to make.  But here’s my finished piece.

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I might not do 31 days of Washiween this year, but it’s going on my list of monthly challenges to attempt.

Budding Artist

In October last year my best friend gave me a set of watercolour pencils for my birthday, and since then I’ve been drawing.  Drawing and drawing and drawing.  I’ve spoken about it before briefly, here and here.  It’s become my favourite hobby.  I do more drawing than anything else at the moment, and I’m really pleased with my improvement. 9 out of 10 pieces that I produce make me really, really happy.  And the best bit of all is that I’ve moved on from copying things I find on Pinterest to creating my own original content.

I am doing Inktober, and I’ll be sharing my pieces later in the month, or maybe in November.  If you want to see them as I do them, please pop along to my Twitter feed.  For now I just wanted to share some of my recent pieces that I’m proud of.

I’ve developed a penchant for adorable monsters.  They’re what I draw most of right now.

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But I’m also trying to draw “proper” people too.

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You might not be able to tell, but he’s actually a piece of fan art.  I humanised a Pokemon.  Spinarak…

I’ve even jumped on the Bowsette bandwagon.

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I have a lot of art I’m really proud of, and I hope I continue to improve 🙂

Bear With Me

I have a lot of ideas.  Hundreds of ideas.  Ideas for products, and for blog posts, and for the future of my little store.  What I don’t have is much ability to follow through on them.  It’s partly a lack of resources, and partly a lack of oomph/energy caused by my depression.

I have a long list in my notebook with plans for blog posts – and I’m always getting ideas for more from the many art/craft YouTubers that I follow.  I WILL get round to them all, I promise.  It drives me bananas that I let so long go between posts.

Every so often I’ll have a burst of energy and write a few posts, and schedule them.  But inevitably my oomph will run out before I have time to schedule any more.

Currently I have some oomph.  Currently I have energy and enthusiasm and I’m sat here at my desk with my notebook, and several hundred photos on my computer waiting to be converted into blogs.  So in theory there are some good posts coming up in the next few weeks.

Bear with me, people….

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Trying String Pulling

The other day my friend Del wrote a guest post for me about string pulling.  Now, I’ve had this image…

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…from Pinterest sitting in my “things to try” folder for absolutely ages.  Then one day on Facebook I see that Del has tried that very thing!  And made such a beautiful job of it too.

So I finally decided to have a go.  My first attempt wasn’t so great – the red one.

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A little bit too much paint. It was about this time that I decided I would message Del and ask her to write a tutorial.  But when I’d grabbed the equipment and taken it to my temporary art studio (in bed because I have the flu)…

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…I grabbed two types of string.  The red one was done with proper string, like twine.  The purple one was done with a thinner knotting cord, and I scraped the excess paint off too.  That seemed to work a lot better.

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Which is when I decided to get fancy.  I went with several bits of string, and a rainbow!

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It came out really pretty, but I wasn’t quite quick enough and the red paint started to dry before I did the pulling.

If you’d like to learn how to do it, definitely go and read that guest post from Del.  It’s very good, and includes sensible instructions like using a long piece of string instead of the piddly little pieces I used in the rainbow piece.  And there’s a mesmerizing video of some string actually being pulled.

She also advocates trying different mediums and different strings, and even not putting paper on the top before you pull.  I definitely intend to experiment more.  Once I’ve gotten over the flu.

 

Guest Post: String Pulling

I have a second guest post for you!  The lovely Del from Del’s Doodles posted some beautiful art last week and I just had to ask her to write a post about it.  It doesn’t have many in-progress pictures but you’ll get some in the next post when I have a go of my own.  Over to Del!



 

A friend recently shared a video to my timeline where a series of people are demonstrating the pulled-string-painting technique.  (Note from Colette: I did some snooping and found the video.)

This technique is a crazy simple method of creating striking, abstract artworks; it’s low-budget, low-maintenance, and low-mess!  It’s pretty much what it sounds like – you dip a piece of string in your painting medium (paint or ink), and then pull it either between two pieces of paper, or along one pre-painted piece of paper, to get a swirly, organic abstract shape.

WHAT YOU’LL NEED

A piece of string – I tried sewing thread with ink, and thin crochet acrylic yarn with paint. The string made very fine, delicate lines, where the yarn held more paint and left thicker, bolder imprints.  You’ll need pieces of string around 2x the length of the paper you’re working on.

Paper – you can use any paper, and I’d recommend the cheapest paper you can get for practicing on, but the technique can get quite wet so for your ‘proper’ attempts, thicker paper like card or watercolour paper is better.

Paint/Ink – I started with acrylic artist inks because I didn’t feel like mixing down my paint into a more watery consistency.  Inks are good because they require less effort to get started, and you can even bypass the palette if you dip your string straight into the ink bottle.  Some inks of mine were better than others, with the cheaper inks drying a bit quick and the more expensive inks, like Lukas and Windsor & Newton, making nice pulls. For paint, you want something similar in consistency to ink, but not too watered that the colour isn’t vibrant.  If your paint is too thick it’ll ‘clump’ along the string, so you don’t want that either.

Some kind of poking device – I used a wooden chopstick and a plastic palette knife with a thin tip. This is for helping get the paint on (and off) the string.

A heavy-ish object, like a hardback book or a block of wood.

METHOD

Dip your string into your painting medium.  If you’re working with paint in a palette or saucer, use your chopstick (or equivalent) to poke the string into the medium and make sure it’s well coated.  Hold on to the tail end, and don’t paint the last few cm.

As you pull your string out, pin it against the edge of the palette with your stick and press it down lightly, dragging the string out between the stick and the palette – this will squeeze any excess liquid from the string so that it’s not too paint-laden.

For pulling between two pieces of paper:

Place the tip of your string near the top of your paper, and then drape it in loops and swirls down to the bottom, leaving the paint-free tail end sticking over the edge of the paper.

Place your second piece of paper squarely over the first so that it’s lined up, and then place your heavy object down on top.  The purpose of this object is to distribute even pressure rather than to press down; if it’s too heavy and you’re having trouble pulling the string out, find something lighter; if your string is stuttering as you pull it out, it’ll leave stutters in the paint lines.

Hold the unpainted edge of your string and pull it as smoothly as you can out from between the two pieces of paper.  Try to do this in one smooth action – don’t yank it out, but don’t take too much time either; you want to do it while the paint is still wet enough to smear all the way down the paper.

Lift your book up, carefully lift the top piece of paper, and you should see two lovely mirrored paint shapes! 🙂

For pulling along one painted surface:

Paint the surface you’ll be pulling along with paint that will stay wet for a minute or two, like thick acrylics. While it’s still wet, dip your string as above, and then drape it along the surface just like you would for pulling between two sheets. Make sure the string is touching the surface along its entire length; press it down with your stick if you have to. Then, take the tail end, and slowly pull the string downwards and off the surface. You should see it dragging through the wet paint and leaving lovely patterns 🙂

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That’s it! Experiment with different painting mediums and different strings to get an effect you like that you’re comfortable working with – and most of all, have fun! 😀


 

You can find Del on Facebook at Del’s Doodles, where she does all sorts of beautiful art pieces – including mandalas.  I intend to follow some of her tutorials soon.  She sells some of her pieces too, and they’re stunning!

Random Craft Quiz – Part 5

I’m getting better at this.  It’s only a month since the last part this time.

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41) Have you ever bought craft supplies in bulk?

Quite often.  If you know you’re going to use them, it’s cheaper in the long run.

42) Have you ever participated in a crochet/knit along?

A couple.  I started making Sophie’s Universe a few years ago but couldn’t decide what yarn I wanted to use and decided to make three.  I got distracted and ended up with two small Sophies and a stalled one.  I have since turned the two small ones into cushions…

…and I fully intend to finish the other one at some point.

43) Have you ever completed a year-long project?  (Mood blanket, temperature blanket, etc)

Many projects that have taken more than a year, but no specific year-long project.

44) Knitting, crocheting or both?

Both.  And cross stitch.  And embroidery, and badge making, and beading, and hama beads, and sewing.  I like to say that if I don’t already do a craft it’s probably on my list of crafts to try.  I do a lot of them.

45) Patterns or improvised?

Depends on the craft.  Generally with knitting and crochet I’ll follow patterns.

46) Stick to one project or keep multiple going at once?

Hahahahahahahahahaha!  At last count my list of WIPs was more than 40.

47) Wind new yarn or leave it as it is?

I usually leave it as it is, until it it’s mostly used and collapses into a tangle.  I don’t mind tangles though.  I find untangling them to be quite therapeutic.

48) Buy supplies online or in person?

Online is nearly always cheaper.  We don’t have any Friendly Local Yarn Stores in my area, so there aren’t really any independents to support.

49) Make gauge swatches or hope for the best?

I like to live dangerously.  Rarely make a gauge swatch… although I rarely make projects that really need them.

50) Favourite hook/needle size?

I do 90% of my crochet and knitting with double knit yarn, so usually a 4mm-4.5mm hook/needle.

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That’s it!  More than 18 months after I started, I’ve finally finished this random craft quiz.