Monday, March 10, 2014

Customized Minimalism and Another Nebula Shirt

One of the first steps (and biggest challenge) of a minimalist closet is getting the core pieces. I hate shopping post-baby. Usually, it's because I have to take him with me and that is sooooo much fun for a two-year old. Therefore, it is soooooo much fun for mommy.

Anyway, nothing fits right and I'm really not too fond of most of the new RTW fashions. I'm a Classics kinda girl. I can find clothes I like at the boutiques and high-end department stores, but, let's face it...I don't want to spend hundreds of dollars on one piece of clothing. I don't care how much use I'll get out of it when I can make something just as good (if not better) for a fraction of the cost. Call me cheap. Sewing a garment is exciting for me, so I make the time to make what I need. My closet is full of clothes that I made for myself, and I'll continue to replace worn-out RTW clothes with custom pieces. The freedom that comes in picking the style and the fabric and custom-tailoring the design to meet your own needs is just not something that the big box stores can sell.

A breastfeeding-friendly faux wrap dress in olive twill, pink stitching:

A tunic mini dress in navy jersey knit:

The two dresses are great additions because they're versatile and in fairly neutral colors. By adding layers, I can wear them almost year-round.

The wrap dress can be paired with a  blazer, jean jacket, or cardigan. Ditch the sash for a belt that makes a statement. Wear it with boots, flats, or wedges.

The mini dress looks great over a pair of jeans, leggings, or an A-line skirt.

Another Nebula Shirt!

I finished this shirt a few months ago and never shared. I was waiting to get it listed in my shop, and, well, time gets away from me. Spring really needs to get here soon so that I can get back to painting.


Available Here.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Cabin Fever

I'm really beginning to despise the snow. There has been a minimum of two feet of it everywhere I look for weeks! Argh!

This is the view out my front window:
The lumps under the window are 3-foot tall bushes. Yeah.

A few years ago, I'd have been loving this. Every weekend would have seen me hitting the slopes with my hubby. Now, it's too cold for me to take my munchkin anywhere and I hate driving in this crap. I haven't gotten my hair cut in more than two months because of getting snowed in at the most inopportune times. I'm looking shaggy.

To top it all off, I have actually gone through all of my crafting supplies. All of what I am keeping is organized and put away and the stuff that will be going in the garage sale or to the thrift store is boxed up. But, it's sitting in a massive pile on the floor, waiting. Waiting to be taken out of the house. And, why can it not leave the house? Because of all this damn snow! Half of my craft room is filled with crap that isn't supposed to even be there!

All of that stuff being stuck in my craft room and me being stuck in the house are making me feel stuck in other areas. I haven't been paying attention to my to-do list like I should be. And, I have an awesome to-do list. See. It's magnetic.

I also have no creative drive, lately. :p Damned snow.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Finishing What Has Been Started

I have a dozen or so unfinished projects just sitting around my craft room and overflowing, occasionally, into the rest of the house. It always makes me feel guilty for starting something new, knowing that, lurking in some forgotten corner of a neglected shelf, there is a project. A project that was planned, obsessed over, worked on, and then...nothing. It sat. And sat, and sat. And, sitting there, it was forgotten, or at least it was pushed to the bottom of the priority list. (This often happens to me when some holiday or birthday comes around, just begging to be celebrated with hand-made gifts. My current projects, or projects, gets side-lined to make time for the new, shiny idea that I have latched onto. Have I mentioned that I like shiny things? No? I like shiny things.) And, now that project has lost it's luster. It's become difficult to pick up again. Maybe it was more challenging than I originally thought it would be, causing me frustration. Maybe I don't know what the next step should be, and it's something that requires more research. Whatever the reason, it's there collecting dust and guilt.

Time to get moving on it. This is one of my resolutions: If I need to craft/create, let it first be to finish one of the projects that is already started. I would, ideally, like to finish all of my UFOs (un-finished objects) before starting any new projects. Ideally.

So far this year, I have finished an amigurumi octopus that I started more than 2 years ago....

...A yurt, for my cat...

...A couple yarn bowls (one is in my son's play kitchen)...

...And, some painted leather flower hair clips...

The flowers were so much fun to make! I saw these on some awesome blog somewhere...oh, it is! Between the lines

They started like this, wet and twisted and stretched:

Then, I painted them...about three coats of 50/50 water and acrylic paint,  two to three coats of undiluted acrylic paint. (Paint the backs first. You don't want to mess up the front painting the back, like I did, but you want the back and the edges painted.)

After they were dry, I punched holes and stitched them up with waxed linen thread.

Happy crafting! And, to those of you who are also caught up in this arctic vortex or epic proportions, stay warm, my friends!

Friday, January 17, 2014

Minimalize All The Things

I have too much stuff. Way too much.

It has gotten to the point of it being the stuff or me. So, the stuff has got to go.

Just before New Year's Eve, while I was trying to recover from the holiday madness that descends upon me every November and doesn't abate until after I can take down the tree, I stumbled across something called 'minimalism.' Ready to dismiss it as some kooky idea dreamed up by hippies or socialists or religious mystics, but still intrigued, I read on. Whoa. Was I wrong.

Minimalism is the idea that our stuff shouldn't control us. Let me say that again. Our stuff shouldn't control us. We don't need to possess everything that we might ever need, ever. It's enough to have just what you need and what you love. I can get on board with that. After all, do I really need to keep that bag full of broken sunglasses just in case I may need a part someday to fix the $4 pair that I wear? Answer: No. No, I don't. If my pair of sunglasses gets broken, I can replace them for very little money. Guess what no longer needs to be cluttering up my hall closet?

The last 18 days have seen hundreds of items go out my doors. Hundreds. And I still have so far to go.

We're sort of plunged into the arctic vortex right now, otherwise I'd have gotten more stuff out of the house. I hate the cold! I'm planning to have a garage sale in the spring, and a lot of the stuff is going in that. Therefore, my barn is filling up as my house is emptied of useful (to someone else) things.

I can't say that there's much of a plan I'm following. If I notice or remember something that's a mess of epic proportions, it gets purged. The whole pile is evaluated...keep it and find a place for it...give it away...recycle it...sell it...trash it... Then, the appropriate action is taken. ASAP.

So far, we're talking about:

-curio cabinet
-kitchen utensil drawer
-video games
-sewing patterns
-bookbinding supplies/tools
-crafting books
-fiction books
-painting supplies
-felting and spinning supplies
-my closet
-old greeting cards
-half of my pantry

That's almost one area per day, on average. Not too bad for a woman with a toddler (and a husband...he helps, too).

I don't miss any of the stuff. Given, the good stuff is still in storage, but I've already said goodbye to it. I was surprised by just how many things reminded me of someone or something unpleasant...or a part of my life that I don't look back upon fondly. It was so easy to let go of those things and, to some degree, those negative thoughts, too.

Today, I purged the scraps of paper and bookbinding supplies I've been saving 'just in case' I ever decided to make something with them. I think I recycled more than I kept. Being a creative and crafty person, I think, makes it especially difficult to get rid of the things that could be repurposed.

Realistically though, I don't have enough time to do all of the things I'd like to. I've been following my whims, never really making progress on my dreams. Sure, it's fun to try all the cool stuff I see on and, but it's not necessary. I can just appreciate the project and move on. Time to find some focus.

The only real goals I'm setting myself are to keep on keepin' on and to always move forward (goin' straight will get you nowhere, according to Billie Joe). I want to keep removing the excess and unnecessary from my life. I want to finish what I start. I want to be healthy. I want to become more self-reliant. I want to bring joy to others. I want to share my gifts.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Painted Nebula Tee - A Look at the Process

My last post was all about the finished product. This post is all about the process. There are a lot of tutorials out there on how to paint your garment to look like a Hubble composite image, and I am just expanding on what I've learned from them. Everyone goes about it in slightly different ways...this is my take.

My most recent shirt started out as a navy blue, sheer jersey tee with a deep-V neck from American Apparel.

My dress form is covered with a garbage bag - to keep it safe from bleach and paint - with the gaps between sections being reinforced with packing tape, and 'sleeves' from two more bags taped to the shoulders.

I use a 50/50 mix of bleach and water to bleach out sections of the shirt where I want to use a light-colored paint. The garment should be washed and dried first, or the fabric may not absorb the bleach/water, causing it to streak. Go easy on the bleach! More can always be added later, but it can't be taken away. This fabric wicked the moisture away so quickly that I ended up with larger bleached sections than I intended. I made it work.

Once it's bleached, I let it dry completely. I rinse it in cool water with a bit of vinegar to stop the bleaching action. Washed, dried, and back on the dress form.

Mix the paint! I use acrylic paint mixed with textile medium. The first color is a deep purple, diluted with water (something like 50/50 by volume worked for me). I use a round cosmetics sponge and start by filling in the darkest areas. The entire black area doesn't need to be covered, it should look splotchy.
Next, using a water-diluted, dark blue, I blended the purple into the lighter sections...the blue approaches, and sometimes creeps into the bleached out areas. It looks like this:

The next color layer is a medium turquoise (or medium shade of whatever color you want, like pink). Again, it's diluted with water to make it translucent when applied. This color blends the blue into the light areas, and should extend into the bleached-out section. In the next photo, you'll see that I've started to add the turquoise on the right, but not on the left (see where the blue barely infringes on the bleached-out area?).
These photos show the turquoise completely surrounding the bleached section, and blending into and overlapping the blue:

Then, I used a very light blue/turquoise (or pink, if that's your colorway), diluted with water, to fill in the majority of the bleached-out areas. It's blended into the turquoise, and even a little into the blue and purple.
The next step took some guts, because this is when I switched colors and painted a contrasting layer to the nebulae. I used a medium to dark red, diluted, to add another layer of 'hot gases.' I added this color everywhere except the center-back of the shirt.
Using a diluted, light pink, I blended the red into the surrounding colors and created more highlights.
Using diluted, white paint, I added highlights within the nebulae and created the spiral in the galaxy (center-back).

That takes care of the sponge-painting portion of our craft-along!

Now, it's time to get out the drinking straws and some cups.

I mixed my paint/textile medium up in cups. I used several colors...white (obviously), dark pink, turquoise, light blue. This time around, no dilution necessary. The colors need to pop! I dip the end of the straw in paint, knock off a bit of the excess on the sides of the cup, then...blow. Instant stars!

I inevitably get strange splatters, drips, and clusters.

They just become the brightest stars in the sky...with the help of a very tiny paintbrush.
And, I'm spent!
After the paint is dry, the shirt needs to come off the dress form and the paint needs to be heat-set. I cover the shirt with a pillowcase and iron it on whatever setting is appropriate for the fabric. After setting the paint, the shirt can be washed and dried as usual. The more it is laundered, the softer it gets.

My color palette, if you're interested: