Because I’m getting back into working with watercolor after several years, I decided to make a few palettes to re-familiarize myself the colors I had in my collection by making some palettes. I’m getting ready to go to New York (!) in a week and a half, and I’ve decided to bring a sketchbook, a watercolor block, and some paints. I’ll probably stick with a limited palette based around ultramarine blue, cerulean blue, cadmium yellow pale, alizarin crimson, and spectrum red.

Stitched Postcard and Tutorial

I went for it! Yep, I was working on my dress when suddenly I realized that I had signed up to participate in the 5th Great Big Stitched Postcard Swap. The theme was Discover. One thing I discovered was that it was a bigger deal than I thought it would be. It’s all very well to say ‘yeah I’ll just throw something together and it’ll be cute and fun and all, but actually, knowing that something I was making was going to be the one and only representation of me to another person made it more intense, let alone the whole adding it to the Flickr pool aspect of it. Anyway, I was irritated with myself for saying yes to too many things and interrupting my momentum on other things, but at the same time participating in these kinds of things is really me. It’s fun and not too serious. It’s a way to connect with other artists. And it’s mail art, which is SO COOL.

How to express the idea of discovery? The possibilities were daunting. But I have wanted to make an advent calendar ever since my nephew was born, and the idea of attempting to make one for this project (luckily) popped into my head. I’ve also been saving cardboard for a stop-motion set I have in mind, so I went ahead and cut out some doors. What follows is a more or less thorough tutorial that I decided to write because not so much because I think people will want to do it, but because I do want to make an advent calendar at some point and I won’t remember all the little issues I had unless I get them down while the process of ‘discovery’ (sorry) is still fresh.

I started by cutting out the windows. Originally I had been thinking of actually spelling out the word ‘discover’, but decided against it in the end.

My fabric choice, some pale green linen from an old shirt.

Next to choose the cover and back. It was off to my trusty collage totes where two images from an article of Organic Gardening (with photos by Robert M. Peacock). Once I had them glued on and tried to see how it looked, I realized the interior of the doors needed something, so I used a piece of Venetian marbled paper (all the way from Venice in a friend’s suitcase!)

I glued a beautiful piece of Venetian marbled paper on the back of the front piece so the inside of the doors would be pretty. I had some Photomount which was great for placing the fabric and making sure the doors were aligned because I could peel it back if it wasn’t right. Once they were on I sewed the two layers together on the machine.

A skirt tie from a fabric foraging session at Goodwill worked as ready made bias tape to cover up the raw edge, and I used an awl to hold the mitred corners down while I sewed over them. For it to be really exact, though, next time I would use some of that narrow adhesive seam tape to get the mitres just so. As it is, they’re a little wonky, but I don’t mind.

The embroidery was pretty bumpy—I want to work on that: sometimes less is more—and the doors wouldn’t close all the way, so I used green star stickers to keep them closed. Next time, I’ll make two sets of the door layers and sandwich an unembellished one with the doors cut off so it’s a layer of just portals. When the doors on the top layer opens, it will truly be more like a little diorama inside.

P.S. I think the pears are my favorite window.

Sun Dress, Ho!

McCall's dress partially assembled with the pattern instructions.
As you can see, the dress has a lot of panels. And look, I’ve got a blue and white check theme going on here!
A McCall's Dress laid out on the cutting table.
The sheet I sourced from the bins is big enough!
McCall's dress pattern in process of assembly.
I’m not pressing the seams yet, just basting them for a fit.

Remember last week when I posted about wanting a sun dress? I’m happy to say that so far, I have not stalled out on the project and am getting closer to realizing my goal of wearing a sun dress of my own making before the summer is through!

This particular dress has lots of seams as you can see. I think there are fifteen panels front and back. Yesterday I got most of them sewn together and last night I pinned the shoulder seams together and draped it over me.  It looks like I might have to alter the pattern, especially in the back, but I won’t know for sure until I get the seams finished. Ideally, I’d have a helper for the fitting, and I’m not sure I can wait till next week when I have another sewing date with Jessica!  She lives across town, so I might have to accost one of my neighbors or even the boi to help me. It’s going to be almost 100ºF today and hot through the weekend AND I’m getting my hairs done this afternoon by the fabulous and wonderful Beth Ramsey of Chou Chou.

I’m ready to get girly and wear my dress!

McCall's dress on a hanger almost ready for a fitting.
It’s almost ready for a fitting…


New To Me a.k.a. How I Spent My Sunday

Yesterday Chris and I decided the time had come to wash the enormous haul of blocks, tinker toys, cars, dinosaurs, and other oddities found at the Goodwill Bins back in May. We set up a table in the on which to dry them and I thought it might be a fun little animation. Some good things came out of this exersize.

1. I got a chore done I’ve been meaning to do for months, thus closing a loop and hopefully opening up more brain space for other things.
2. I cleared some floor space in my studio. It’s temporary because I still have to store all the toys somewhere, but at least they are not still in the “in” area of my studio, as in not-processed.
3. I practiced new skills: moving the toys, seeing what was successful, using the software, and uploading and posting the video
4. I got some hang time with my dog, Bella, who makes a guest appearance in the video.
5. I got a work-out walking up and down the porch stairs to click the shutter 342 times. (It felt like more.)
6. I fully grasp the awesomeness of using a remote to click the shutter. Not only were the stairs a pain, but staying in the flow of animating actually gets interrupted even if all you’re doing is pressing a button. We have one. I just need to find it.
7. I created some new content for my blog. Aren’t you grateful!?
8. I got to play with and handle all the toys many times, which was fun and validated my buying them. I’m looking forward doing more!
9. I learned that painted wood dries faster than unpainted wood.
10. I realized that a more intimate distance between the eye of the camera and the action of the toys will read better. My favorite pictures were the ones of the blocks in the water and I only had four of them.
11. It was a challenge putting together the frames and playing with the pacing from slow to fast. Given what I had to work with, doing that helped create a story of a rather abstract and aimless series of movements.
12. It’s rough and it was better in my head, but I know what I want to try next time.

It’s hot at last, and I want a sun dress!

Okay, so I have a million projects underway, at least a thousand of which are sewing projects. There are the curtains. The pants to mend. The five quilts that need pieces replaced or backs put on or some other major operation before they are usable. I have monsters to sew and monster outfits to make. I also have a very labor intensive embroidered monster I’ve been working on for six months. I am no where near being done. However. I want a dress. It’s summer. I have a hard time finding dresses that fit. Skirts and shirts, okay, I can find them, but a dress that fits even passably well is nigh on impossible. And I love dresses. I rarely wear them, but I love them. I love seeing them on pretty girls (and boys) and I want to wear one too.

So. I’m making myself a sun dress before it’s too late in the season to wear it. I started learning to sew apparel in 2007. A simple dress shouldn’t be such a big problem. But I have hang-ups. Yep. I know you’re shocked. (I can go into more about the psychological and emotional underpinnings of my sewing hang-ups some other time (or not.)) What you need to know is that I tend to try to make each successive project much harder than the one before it, tackling ever more complicated techniques and fabrics. Because of this I’ve spent a lot of time sewing things that either didn’t turn out well or that I put a lot of time into but that ultimately I didn’t wear because either the style or fit didn’t suit me. I hate that. It feels like such a waste.

This time, I’m going with a simple pattern (below) and I’m going to try to do it the easy way. I consulted my friend Jessica Bobillot, fashion designer, costumer, and tailor , and got her recommendation for the type of dress I should start with—something easy to sew that will be comfortable. I wanted a scooped or wide neckline, princess seam panels, and no waist  seam. Bonus if the skirt is full rather than A-line. At Jessica’s urging, I’m not paper pinning the pattern for fit because it is a long and tedious process. Instead, I’m making my best guess at size and going straight to cutting out the “fashion fabric”, as they call it on the patterns.  I’ll baste the seams together, test the fit and hope for the best.

My fearlessly gung-ho attitude, the one with which I’m hoping to defeat some of my hang-ups about fabric, for instance that fabric is precious and never to be ruined by cutting into it, will be given a boost by the fact that I ‘ve decided to use a sheet I picked up at the Goodwill bins that is in my stash and that is not in the slightest bit precious. It is light, soft, and summery, and if it doesn’t go well, I can say it was a slightly dolled up muslin of the pattern. If I like the dress, I’ll have the correct fit and I can make another using one of the fabrics pictured above.

To recap: Today I bought and cut out a dress pattern and decided on fabric.  Tomorrow I aim to cut out the pattern in fabric. Who knows, I might even get crazy and baste the seams and try the fit! If I don’t though, I have a date to sew with Jessica next week. Next week it will still be summer.

I really hope posting about this on the blog will hold me accountable to finishing a dress. I really hope I’m not posting about finishing this dress next year. And I really hope it fits and that I like it. Wish me luck.

I'm planning on wearing it THIS summer, not next summer or the summer after that.

More Flames

Original Sketch using Adobe Ideas on the iPad. Lise Petrauskas

Look! It’s another doodle with a flame theme. I have been doing lots of sketching on the iPad, and, as before, using Adobe Ideas. I love it. The folks at Adobe Touch (at least the ones who post on twitter) gave me some positive feedback and wanted to know if I clean them up in PhotoShop. I don’t. I’m doing everything on the iPad using the eraser tool. I’ve got about five or six pretty complex doodles in process right now, and this is the only one finished enough to post. I am grateful for the intrest from Adobe and am motivated to keep sketching!