27/04/2013: Almost May already! This year is going so fast!
02/04/2013: Happy Easter. I hope everyone had a fantastic weekend.
01/01/2013: Happy New Year!!
24/12/2012: Merry Christmas!!
13/11/2012: Getting hand-made presents ready for Christmas!!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Developing a Pattern

Original designs can be a lot of fun to develop. When I have an idea I usually do a few drawings on paper to see if my concept design is worth persuing. If I like what I see I continue developing the design before I even touch fabric.

This skull design started with several skull templates of varying shapes. I like to cut them out so I can see how they look free standing outside of the contrains of an A4 sheet of paper (right). Once I have my shape and design I develop it further through the computer (center). The computer stage allows me to straighten the design, mirror elements and make everything more uniform. I always work from the computer design which will go into the final pattern if the mockup is successful.

On the left is the transfer onto fabric ready to begin the embroidery component of this design. As the construction stage begins you need to be prepared to trash your progress and go back to the start to re-develop the design if issues arise. It is good to take time with initial drawings and think about how you will be constructing your project and what you need to take into account before you begin.

So now... we'll see if this one leads to a finished project.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Dog Kerchiefs

I've been distracted from other projects because of a variety of reasons. First up I actually cleaned up my sewing area and put a lot of things away!! I'd accumulated lots of materials which I'd pulled out to contemplate and never put away though projects  I have planned hadn't started, so the last week has been mostly dedicated to putting away and finding new homes for things. I also tried to tackle the back room/junk room. It now looks worse, but it is on its way to being better. This weekend I need to spend some more time in there!

Second, I made another tote bag, like the green one, but in blues to match the cat pouch. A handmade Christmas is well on its way to being finished.

Finally, I made dog kerchiefs... Yes! Those things in the picture are for my mums dog. She asked if I could make her a couple and I thought they wouldn't take too long to whip up. She designed the pattern and gave me the sizes to suit her dog - a kelpie-cross. The first one took me about an hour and a half, but the second one was a breeze at only about 30-40 minutes. I only had red velcro, but I figured the dog won't mind!

They're going to be more than just cute too. Mum is using these as she has a hormone that assists in keeping her dog calm. He was a rescue from a farm where he was mistreated and the hormone really helps him manage stress when meeting people and in other situations that can upset him. The kerchief gives mum somewhere to spray the stuff where he can breath it in as he can't always be sitting on his mat for this treatment. He is a black dog so I used bright colours so hopefully he will look adorable too.

They're really easy to make, so if you have a dog you might want to try this.

How to make a Dog Kerchief

There are 2 parts to the kerchief. 1 x half square triangle (I folded an A4 sheet in half and added 1/2" all the way around) and a 21"x2.5" strip.

Hem the 2 shorter sides of the triangle. I used my rolled hem foot on the machine. Then take the strip, fold it in half and stitch down both sides and a short way along the bottom leaving the middle open.

Turn the ends and iron the strip, folding in the opening and ironing - we're just going to top stitch the triangle so it is enclosed in the strip next. Pin the triangle so that it is centred and inside the strip, then top stitch.

Attach the velcro (I used 3" pieces) and you're done!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

RGB Fast Flash LEDs

One of the things that has been suggested in response to some of the e-textile projects I've been working on recently is the addition of flashing lights. LEDs that have built in flashing ability are the easiest way to achieve this result. Years ago a capacitor and other components would need to be added to build a circuit which makes the LED flash, however with improvements in LED technology not only are we seeing different colours, but also these little all in one flashing LEDs which just need to be connected to a battery and off they go. That means our circuit can be simple and less bulky while achieving almost the same result - the difference is we have no control over the speed as it is inbuilt into the LED.

My camera doesn't like taking a video in the dark and had trouble focusing, but hopefully this gives you a great idea of the colours and speed. I had another cool electronic gadget to show you but my camera batteries died between taking the video and getting it to the computer so that will have to wait until batteries are recharged.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Cat Pouch

I've finished the little blue cat pouch and I think it is going to be an awesome Christmas gift!

There were a couple of really tricky parts to complete. Putting in the zip with the lining was very difficult and I don't think I'll do a curved zip like this again. I've done this technique before with straight zips - such as on the chicken purse - but this was a whole new layer of difficulty because the zip is not very flexible and the stitching needs to be quite close and precise. I took my time and got there with it despite some slight wonkiness.

The little fish on the strap was also really difficult as tiny things usually are. I think I spent as much time trying to make the little fish as I did adding the tail and head to the pouch base tonight. I planned on appliqueing the tail before sewing in the zip but completely forgot so I carefully sewed it to only the top layer of the pouch tonight. Then before sewing the opening in the lining I lightly stuffed the paws to give them extra body and squish. The lining is actually squared off and ends under the head.


Thursday, November 8, 2012

Cat Pouch Head

A floating head!! As the title says, this is going to be a pouch... and actually I'm a little stuck on if I'm going to try and embed the zip into the pouch sewing process or hand sew the zip in at the finish - Japanese quilting style - so I made the head first.

This little cat is inspired by the gorgeous design by Ning Rueanmai. Hers are phone cases, but I thought I would make one big enough to be used as a glasses case instead for a Christmas gift, and while I don't know exactly what it will be used for I think a little larger will give more options.

No patterns forthcoming for this one since it is someone elses design! Check out Ning's Etsy shop because she makes some gorgeous Japanese and Korean style quilted bags and purses!

Oh yeah... and I've been distracted from the embroidered band and nyan cat, but I'm using the excuse that I'm still waiting on the post! I'll get back to them soon as I was hoping to get one finished by this weekend!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Phone Case

I've had a cheap knitted phone case to protect my phone for a while, but due to wear it is starting to get too loose and is falling off in my bag. It is not much protection if it keeps falling off! So I decided I should make myself a phone case.

This is the same idea as my kindle cover, but in smaller scale. It was actually quite tricky to sew the lining and then top stitch because the opening is so small. My kindle cover doesn't have any quilting, but I decided to quilt along the hexagon lines on this design. The back of the strap (below) matches the lining. The fabrics are both Japanese which I think I got at a quilt fair a year or two ago.

The fit is tight at the moment, but like my kindle cover I expect it to relax a tiny bit as the lining and quilt batting settles into the right shape. The closure is velcro and I think my favourite part is the blue owl on the left which is peaking out from behind the strap.

It's good to do a couple of projects that could be completed quickly!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Green Satchel Bag

I started this yesterday and spent a bit of deliberation time working out exactly how I would put in a couple of pockets with zips and make it look nice so this project took me a little longer than expected. Most of the work was done this morning and I think all up it has taken about 6-7 hours not including the time I spent thinking about this yesterday. It is 36 degrees today so I think my poor hot sewing machine needs a break for the afternoon!

The bag is approximately 15"x13" and I've squared off the bottom to about 2" wide. It is fully lined with a small outer pocket and a large inner pocket and the outer is quilted with quilt batting giving it extra strength and substance. The design evolved as I contemplated what I wanted to include and I used the straps as edging to hide the seams on the outer pocket which will also give it strength as well.

I took lots of other progress photos so if there is interest I could develop a pattern. This one is destined to be a gift so I'm also tempted to make one of these for myself, although I was going to do something with applique and more pockets for myself eventually (perhaps over Christmas)... but I think if I make one for myself it will have to be out of chicken fabric!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Glow Threads

I bought a new toy!! This is glow in the dark thread which you can get from the DMC range. I was surprised something so specialised was only $0.90 per skein. I have a little idea for this but I also think it has lots of potential to be used with some of my electronic LED designs as well.

I received a couple of my packages this week, but nothing too exciting. My green and blue LEDs are here and they're really pretty colours. It is amazing that we can now make so many different colours of LEDs depending on the active element inside the little globe. They are ingenious little gadgets.

I've been pretty busy in the past week and this is why. This is my shed which looks a hundred times more organised and tidy. I could hardly move in there a couple of weeks ago. After a couple of weeks cleaning up I decided it was time to get stuck into a bit more construction and get some of the final things I needed for organisation. My awesome dad helped me finish the interior wall (at the back) and build the metal cabinet, then we put up the peg board (right) and the shelf and workbench (left). Lots of tidying later and I have a new workshop so I can go outside to do anything messy!!

After 4 days of working on cleaning up and building in the shed it took me a couple of days to recover, but I'm ready for this weekend and to get some more stitching done!