Backpack with some Awesome Whales!

Once upon a time, a girl traveled to Seattle for a work conference, and made the bad decision to enter a fabric store. Specifically this one.

You see, she had decided a year or two before that instead of knick knacks to memorialize a trip, she’d choose fabric or yarn.

Let us note, dear reader, the word “or” in that sentence. It is not the word “and.”

So what is this girl to do, but buy both fabric and yarn. Not on the same day, of course, as she has some amount of restraint, but both were purchased during that fateful January trip.

The whales you see before you are the direct result of walking into the fabric store without a hint of a plan. But aren’t they adorable, dear reader?

The whales festered in that fall hole of a place commonly referred to as “stash” for three months, set which point the girl realized that she had too much variety in her daily life to keep everything in her daily purse, and she very much hated casting anything bigger. She used her backpack from high school a few times, but missed having easy pockets and containers for those items that are not quite junk solely because they’re regularly necessary.

So she designed her perfect backpack. When she began looking through her stash to find the perfect material for her perfect backpack, she saw the whales, and rescued them from the dank hole of stash.

But alas, this material was too flimsy for such purposes! How would she move forward?

Then she made the decision to make bags for her bike, and not knowing the quantity required, she accidentally ordered extra, which turned out to be exactly what she needed!
(Seriously, she has maybe 6 tiny scrap pieces now.)

So she constructed this perfect backpack with a lower zipper pocket for sundries, pocket sized for her laptop help keep the structure nice and sturdy, and a section that nicely fits sketchbooks and journals and lunches and maybe even dinners. Dependent on the amount stuff packed in there.

She was so happy that she managed to construct the monster that she didn’t add real closures the first day, and made a simple not quite drawstring closure later.

A couple weeks and a rainstorm later reminded her that further closures would be ideal, so she dug into her button stash until she came out with two sets of three matching buttons that matched brilliantly. So she attached some thin elastic and the buttons and they’ve held fantastically so far.

Right before taking pictures for this post she changed the cord on the “drawstring” so one can actually leverage the thing closed.

And she sewed on that handle… And seconds later pictures were taken.

Tada!

She still has over a yard left, which had been sent back the stash until the next perfect project arises!

That’s enough third person for now…

Belladone Opposites

Remember the contest I talked about early this year?

I also picked up the Deer and Doe pattern Belladone, which I am in love with!

(Granted, I fall in love with a lot of patterns…)

But seriously, I’ve made 2.5 of these in the first quarter of the year…

The ice blue one is version 2, and the green skirt is version 1, but I am combining them for this post, along with the bonus of the skirt I made from the same pattern (Version 2.5). Because they’re all done, with almost no changes between the versions, so why not? And though I know I should make some more adjustments, I didn’t pause in between making these.

The Belladone is one of those patterns that I’ve seen around for so many years, and yet I haven’t gotten my hands on it mostly due to the shipping from France thing. And I don’t have many paper patterns from indie companies (read: none), so I couldn’t really see buying the paper patterns. But so many people have made fantastic versions, and I wanted to join the legion!

I made the cutaway back version for both dress options, and I had to make one (rather large) adjustment, which I assume has to do with my broad rounded back. I had to sew a huge dart from just underneath the overlay to the armscye. And now the back lies smoothly against mine! The hem was also “very long” on me, meaning at knee length, but I prefer my skirts to be a bit higher, so I went back and hemmed each version a couple inches.

Version 2 (which was finished first) is made from an ice blue cotton with neon slubs woven in (that aren’t visible from more than one foot away), and is fully lined. Granted, that means its mostly interlined for the bodice, and then actually lined for the skirt. Version 1 has a chambray bodice (woot for scraps!), and what I think is a cotton/poly lawn (woot for scraps part 2!). And then I made a skirt version out of the same wax print cotton that I made my Uganda dress out of a few years ago. I had just barely enough to make it happen, but it’s infinitely more wearable than the dress is, which is a great thing!

I made up Versions 2 and 3 for my this big conference in Seattle, since I don’t have much of what you might call “business casual” and then decided to alter them. The skirt only got hemmed a bit higher, but the ice blue dress got a stencil treatment. I laser cut a stencil with a vaguely floral geometric design, and I used silver Jacquard Lumiere paint to put it on the waistband. The design is not terribly visible, even though I used a Micron pen to outline it a bit, but I like the small amount of definition it gives to the dress.

Because Version 2 was fully lined, I didn’t need to bias bind the neck or armscyes, but when I finally finished Version 1, I had to bias bind them, which I did in a lovely green, and I’m considering stenciling the waistband with a gold fabric paint. We’ll see what happens in a couple weeks.

These are wonderful dresses/skirts though. They worked well for the transition from winter to summer, and so far are doing well for actual summer too! Wait until I show you my hack of this! It’s going to be awesome (judging by the wearable muslin, at least)!

Bike Bags

Last September I bought myself a bike. I live in a college town rife with bike lanes, and I can park at one place of work, so biking onto campus makes a lot of sense.

But I am not an efficient cyclist, and my back gets really sweaty before leaving my neighborhood if I’m wearing a backpack. So after doing some research on how and what attaches to the back of normal bikes. I determined that a rack was essential, but that i couldn’t afford any reasonable bags after the cost of bike and rack.

After much internet searching, I decided to use some scrap fabric and cardboard and just make some. They were… Useful. Not fantastic, but they certainly worked. They were a basic bag shape without a lid, one for each side of the bike, and connected by a couple inches of fabric over the top the rack. I had turned the top edges under to prolong its life, but forgot to put in buttonholes to thread bungee cables through, so it was slightly torn, which only got worse over time. To stiffen the cotton fabric so it didn’t get caught my wheels, I used some cardboard, effectively making these super bad in the rain.

But I used this version for probably 6 months. Somewhat because I was too lazy to do it again, and somewhat because I didn’t have the right fabric.

In April I finally gave up looking for cute fabrics and settled on some black water resistant utility fabric.

This time I altered the bag pattern a little so that the bag bottom slanted upwards, and I added flaps to help cover the contents. I also added pockets to the back so I can add stiffener like a sheet of acrylic. I’m still working fitting that acrylic into the pockets, but i think it’ll fit if i shave off an inch.

I’m finding the bags a little difficult squeeze things in, but they’re secure, water resistant, and easy to retrieve things from when reach my destination.

Out of the same fabric, I made a cover for bike seat, and does its job even its not pretty. I’m learning not leave it on when I ride bike, though, as it often is more slippery than the actual seat, but it has helped when I had wore a skirt from a rather slippery fabric.

Alright then. That’s all I’ve got to say on this subject right now. Reasonably effective, highly useful, probably will get remade if I end up in a bike friendly town post-degree!

The Moment

When I posted Spring Updates I wasn’t sure if I’d be posting again about this prop, at least not until I had completed the costume to go with it. But that has been postponed for a smidge, so I think its time to share!

If you don’t recognize this prop, you probably didn’t see the Doctor Who 50th anniversary episode. That’s okay! What you should know is that it’s central to the storyline, as its the most dangerous weapon in the universe, so dangerous that it has a conscience, who just so happens to appear as Billie Piper’s character Rose, or rather her image, but calling herself Bad Wolf. If you find that a reasonable thing, then you should definitely join the Whovians!

Anyway…

Last October I fell in love with a (relatively) new technology: LASER CUTTING!

And when I say fell, I mean I fell hard.

The panels of this prop were the 2-7th things I ever laser cut.

So I was completely new to Illustrator, but this project (and everything I’ve designed since) has taught me so much!

Back to the prop… I used photos found on the RPF (here and here) as references, and then designed all the sides. 5 of them were reasonable, since there would good references, but the one with all the Gallifreyan was more difficult. Only half-ish was ever visible, so I made a lot of fake Gallifreyan… Which was entertaining. And some of it looks reasonable, and others… Don’t. Luckily it’s only about 12 by 6 inches of ridiculous.

And I’ll probably be one of the few that cares.

I went on a week long “bender” of designing and laser cutting. I would design something one night, cut it out the next day, and then turn around and design the next one that night!

Then came time to take them all home and paint them. All the metallics are Jacquard Lumiere paints, and I used some cheap acrylic paint for other bits.  I think I had everything painted by December. And then my project brain stalled. (In January I found myself working 2 part time jobs, plus my grad school research so everything shut down. Like this blog, for the most part.)

In March, when things had mostly settled, I found myself with the inkling to get in the wood shop to make the frame. I ended up splitting two by fours for the final product, and creating an empty cube. I spent a lot of time sanding it down and trying to get many of the imperfections out. Some of the wood I had used had some kind of black paint on it, so I had to sand it down a lot in places.

Then I made the bad decision to wood burn the frame by hand. In the show prop, it was probably laser cut, but I wanted the deeper worn look. I spent 6 hours over 3 nights working on it (from 10pm to 12am) which was not my finest decision…

I borrowed some stain from a friend, and stained the entire thing, which was a kinda messy affair. My bathroom looked like a crime scene for a few hours. The stain was oil based Zar, in color Rosewood.

Then came Easter weekend. The laser cut panels were “installed,” meaning pressing them until they fit and attempting to glue them together cleanly. I had installed a small “door” into the corner of one of the sides, so I installed hinge hardware, and used some foam board leftover from a friend’s project to fill in some gaps between panels.

I was marathoning the project at this point, so I managed to get on Tinkercad and designed the corner caps, which are essentially 3 sides of a cube with a half sphere, and printed them. For a first 3D project, they turned out unexpectedly perfect! I primed each with some cheap primer spray paint and then painted the corners grey with acrylic paint mixed with some silver Lumiere paint. Then everything got glued together and I used a clear coat over everything, from the wood to the 3d to the laser cut stuff.

But this thing is huge. It’s bigger than the actual prop, and I can hardly hold it. So it takes up a remarkable amount of floor space. So I laser cut an acrylic topper, and I use it as a coffee table!

The intention was that this would be a prop useable for DragonCon, but as I said it is huge. I think it measures 16 inches cubed. I have trouble picking it up, due purely to the dimensions, though the weight would be a problem an hour in…

I’m thinking that it might be worth it to make a smaller one. I’ve only got two months, but I think I can cut down the working time to a two week period, if I do it again, since I know all the steps, and the only real thing I’ll have to buy is stain for the frame. I would definitely laser cut the frame though, before assembly, since it was way too much time to burn it by hand…

We’ll see what that idea comes to!

Spring Updates

Well, it’s been over a month now since I’ve posted, and reasonably down here its decidedly summer, not spring anymore. Which pains me to my core.

And I’ve decided not to apologize that it’s been so long. This semester has been busy, with two work related trips, and two part time jobs in addition to my research. Something had to give, and making things was not gonna, so the blog (and a bit of research… oops?) did instead.

Yes, I just said that I didn’t stop making things… It’s my sanity people!

But what I’ve lacked this semester is daylight and mental preparation (and a clean living room) to take pictures of the stuff. This really hasn’t changed… I intend to clean my living room soon, but I also am going to move in August, so…

What I can tell you is that I’ve got a backlog of things to post. I’m not sure that I will actually post them all. It seems pretty weird to say that, as I did post absolutely everything I made for a couple years, but now that the majority of my wardrobe is me-made, and that I’ve made or altered many things that I use in daily life, I don’t entirely need this as a reminder to myself. It’s become more of a project lookbook and a writing exercise.

Here is a picture of a prop that I recently finished, which is the culmination of so much work that I stopped counting…

Maybe I’ll write the post associated with that soon, maybe not! That isn’t even a final product, and I haven’t taken other pictures yet! I’ve got some costuming projects in the works, as I’m planning on getting to DragonCon again, so even if I don’t post much of the backlog, I’ll still have fun things to show!

All the Onyx Shirts

Never has a pattern become tried and true in my library than with Paprika Patterns’ Onyx Top.

My first version was made out of a lace in November, and altogether was too big. I thought I had made the recommended size, and it was mostly fine in the front, but the back was really drooping, and the sleeves were way too big. (Let me interject here that I don’t quite remember, but probably chose the size based on my bust size, which tends to throw off the rest of the fitting. Because I’m lazy, and my fitting adventures are a work in progress. So don’t take this as an actual review of the sizing…)

So I took the pattern in at the shoulders, raised the armscye, and shrunk the width of the back a bit.

Then in very early January I used the Ariel skirt made of rayon (which was way too lightweight for a skirt) to make a slightly cropped version. Not the actually cropped version in the pattern, since I needed this for work-appropriate events, but an inch shorter than I’d like. I made a facing for it out of the same fabric, and unfortunately didn’t finish the facing edge (which I should do one of these days) which can cause the neckline to hang funnily, and I didn’t interface it, which I think contributed. It quickly became my favorite shirt!

Incredibly happy with this success, I also made one out of this polyester suiting with a diagonal stripe pattern… It works. I wish that I had made the facing out of a different fabric, as the neck really doesn’t lay correctly, though I did interface it, so perhaps it was just stiffer?. Maybe I can fix it later?

And then I tried to use this stone colored poly/cotton blend (I think), which had no drape. That version did not work out well. It felt very frumpy and baggy. I don’t know if it can be salvaged, but maybe with a dart of some kind. For right now its in the alteration pile, which is why I didn’t bother to iron it for the pictures here…

So that’s where I had to leave it before a big conference in Seattle in the end of January. Then I had a making drought in early February as I adjusted back to normal life, and then I made an awesome version in black rayon. In fact the same rayon from the Ariel skirt version, but in a black. I tried to remove some neckline gaping with a pattern alteration, and made the shoulders even slightly less wide. This time I interfaced the facing again, but I also made the facing the entire yoke of the shirt wide. It ended with a fantastically fit shirt, but the yoke of the shirt felt and looked a little stiff. So I embroidered it. I haven’t done embroidery in a while, but it came back pretty quick, though I’ve never done anything quite like this. I really enjoyed the vines and leaves, and the couple flowers on the back were quite fun.

I’ve got another one of the black rayon versions cut out, since the rayon had enough for another, and I think I’ll embroider it too, but I’ll get to that one soon!