In preparation for my September wedding celebration party I am making a new dress, which is currently under construction. Since I'm making a new dress, Alec will get a new, matching tie and here's the process of making that tie.
I do have a commercial pattern for making a tie, but I found that it's pretty easy to just buy a thrift store tie and rip it apart. Plus I can use the interlining material instead of buying a yard of it when it's rare that I need this type of interlining.
First I ripped the seams open on my thrift store tie.
I then cut out the correct shape on the bias of my gold fabric. There is a seam halfway through the tie. I don't know the history of ties but I'm assuming this is just so that you don't have to waste too much fabric since cutting on the bias takes a lot of fabric.
The ends of the tie need a separate lining fabric, I just used some teal satin that I had leftover from another project.
To make sure the the lining is hidden at the tip, sew the corner before you attach the lining. Since I wasn't following a pattern I didn't completely understand this step so I had to sew the lining twice, but I got it in the end.
Turn the lining towards the inside and press out the points of the tie. Then place the interlining in the center of the tie, fold over the edges, with the top have a double fold to create a clean connection.
I'm a contributor to the latest issue of a super rad zine I Love Bad Movies. Issue 6 is their food issue and I got to do a write up and illustration for Deathbed: The Bed that Eats. I had previously said that I would never watch Deathbed again, but I recanted and actually enjoyed it the second time around. Buy your own copy here: Ilovebadmovies.com
I don't mention it much on this blog but I have a separate blog where I make watercolor paintings based on the bad movies that I watch with my friends: Terrible Movie Nights.
I picked up an awesome screen printed tote bag by Mimi Chrzanowski at TCAF this past May. I loved the print so much I got it even though it was not my favorite size of tote bag, which meant I would eventually get around to altering it to be just the right size for me.
The original size of the bag is about 12x12", which is a fine size and will fit an LP or two, but a little small for me to use on a regular basis.
Luckily, since I collect fabric I had a forest green cotton canvas that complemented the colors in the print and the minty green fabric of the bag.
I ripped the seams apart on the original bag with the plan to add the dark green cotton fabric to the sides, ending up with a new bag size of 17 inches wide by 14 inches deep with a flat bottom.
Since I was already ripping this whole thing apart I decided to add a little interior pocket with a zipper for my wallet.
When I make things for myself I freely add all sorts of found things that have been sitting around for a long time. I added this ant ranch patch and some ric rac to the interior pocket.
I didn't have enough of the minty green straps to just attach them back so I made longer straps from the forest green canvas adding a gold lamé stripe and more purple ric rac.
I folded the bottom in to make a flat base, giving the bag some depth.
If you fold the bottom before you sew the side seam you can catch the base. Sew up the sides. I wanted to keep as much height from the original bag as possible so I create a facing to finish off the top edge instead of folding over the top to make a hem. I also added an interior loop that I can clip my keys onto.
The finished bag now holds about 20 records, not something I carry around often but it helps explain the size change.
Cartoonist Sophie Goldstein contacted me in the fall of 2013 to see if I would create a plush toy of her character Skittles as one of the rewards for her kickstarter campaign. Since there is a bit of unknown when you start a kickstarter campaign; we weren't sure how many people would want the toy as a reward as well as if the campaign would succeed at all. So as her campaign kicked off I had only done some speculative sketches of what this toy would look like. Fortunately, the kickstarter campaign was a rousing success and exceeded its goal to take her web comic Darwin Carmichael is Going to Hell and collect it in a printed book. Once the campaign ended, Sophie wanted 70 Skittles plush made to fulfill the rewards, so I had to get to work!
STAGE ONE: Sketches
Since Sophie and her co-creator Jenn Jordan have been creating their web comic since 2009, there are tons of reference images of Skittles. Using the comics as reference, I made some rough sketches exploring some shape options and trying to determine what the toy should look like.
Sophie wanted the Skittles toy to have floppy legs but mostly fall into a sitting position. I tightened up the sketches and did a three view turn around that would should the details that were necessary for me to reference once I got started building it.
STAGE TWO: Prototype
Once the sketch was approved I got started making a muslin mock up. I didn't use the final fabric yet because it takes awhile just to get the shaping right and it would have been a waste of good fabric, so start shaping in inexpensive muslin. Once I had a shape that looked right to me, I sent photos to Sophie. Based on her feedback I made some tweaks but ultimately got a shape that looked good. Since the muslin doesn't necessarily act like the finished fabric I have to be aware of that during construction. I knew the eyes would be made of a knit fabric because I didn't want any seams and I needed the stretch, so even on the rough prototype I used a knit fabric to make the shape come out correctly.
With a muslin prototype that looked good, I needed to finalize the fabric choices. Since Sophie and I don't live in the same place I sent her lots of different fabric swatches to choose the materials of Skittles from. This way she could feel and see the actual colors that the toys would be made of.
STAGE THREE: First Finished Toy
Once the fabrics were approved and ordered, I got started on making the first finished toy.
STAGE FOUR: Making 70 pieces
With the first piece completed, I now set on making the rest of the 70 pieces. Since I was cutting out so many pattern pieces, to stay organized, I kept them all in separated bags and just grabbed them as I assembled each section.
All the ears, folded and ready to be sewn closed before attaching them to the head.
Hand sewing the eyes to the face. Since they needed to be a specific half dome shaped it made more sense to have them be supported by a foam under structure instead of trying to create the sphere with stuffing. That required them to be separately attached by hand.
Front half of the bodies assembled.
The completed seventy plush Skittles toys packed and ready to be shipped out.
This was the most of a single toy that I've made all at one time. I learned a lot about small scale mass production, specifically trying some new tools to speed up the cutting process. I finally got a rotary cutter which let me cut out some of the larger pieces faster. I researched some craft cutters to see if they could cut out thicker fabric, hoping that would help me not have to cut all the pieces out myself. Unfortunately all the paper/fabric cutters I looked into didn't show thick textured fabrics. I still want to see if a laser cutter could speed up the cutting process, but that will have to be for another project.
At craft shows I don't have a great place to stash my change as I don't always wear outfits with pockets. This makes it difficult to find somewhere safe to keep all my important sales items while at my table. With my long term projects progressing slowly, I recently took a couple hours to make a quick project; a custom change purse. Since it's just for me, I had free rein on the design so I picked out some of the fun vintage fabric and trims I got last November to make it special and unique.
First I decided exactly what I wanted to hold in this bag, mostly change and some extras like pens, credit card reader and notes. I picked out a screen printed canvas with bright yellow flowers and green bamboo. With the white background it may get dirty easily but it's all cotton so I can just throw it in the wash. I also had a green quilter's cotton in my stash that went well with the printed pattern. I determined the bag size, about 12 inches by 6 inches and got to work.
I put a zippered pocket on the front and added some daisy lace trim. Little bags like this are a great opportunity to use up scrap fabric.
On the back I wanted a couple specific pockets to fit an iphone/credit card reader, pens and notes. So I measured out those sizes and sewed the dividers onto an additional piece of fabric.
I made the long straps out of coordinating green cotton.
On the front I made the zipper panel line up with the straps so it creates a continuous green line. I sewed the straps onto the sides of the front panel piece.
Once the straps were attached I sewed the back panel to the front panel creating the front pocket and making the whole bag come together. I turned it inside out through the zipper opening.
The finished front with plenty of room for change.
The finished back with the specific pocket sizes I planned out.