Pages

Monday, 24 July 2017

A class in Precious Metal Clay

I attended a really great workshop on the weekend at the Sydney Jewellery School (which recently moved from Rosebery to Parramatta - how lucky for me)! The class was all about making silver jewellery with Precious Metal Clay (PMC). I first became aware of PMC through Marialla Walker's Instagram (here and here). There is seriously no craft this lady has not tried - inspirational!


Wikipedia tells us that "Metal clay is a crafting medium consisting of very small particles of metal such as silver...mixed with an organic binder and water for use in making jewelrybeads and small sculptures. Originating in Japan in 1990, metal clay can be shaped just like any soft clay, by hand or using molds. After drying, the clay can be fired in a variety of ways such as in a kiln, with a handheld gas torch, or on a gas stove, depending on the type of clay and the metal in it. The binder burns away, leaving the pure sintered metal."

I was attracted to this class as it is actually something you can do at home if you want -- no need for a kiln, just a creme brulee torch and you're off! I'm already dabbling in polymer clay at home so this seemed like a good "next step".

These are so of the examples our teacher brought to class - all made by her (I'm coveting the ring in the very bottom right)
Our teacher Donna was great - very very patient! And I think she brought with her every gadget and tool in her workshop which we were free to use. The first hour of the class was spent being shown various techniques in working with the clay (PMC3) and then we were encouraged to plan out what we wanted to do before opening up the clay and letting it go hard (this stuff is not cheap at ~$50 for 16g so it was very good advice).

Sixteen grams of clay is not a lot and in way I'm glad as I kept my wishlist small and simple and went for two pendants and two sets of earrings. I also had enough for a little heart (made from a mould) that I have given to Dave...he has no idea what to do with, but I can't wear it so I don't want it! I do wish I had made the shapes of the earrings different from each other as they look a bit "same same" but you live and learn!
This is the clay, once it has been rolled out and had a textured surface applied by pushing it into a rubber or metal mat. Shapes are cut out using a pin from a shaped stencil - easy!

The school has a kiln so most of our pieces went into the kiln for firing (took 30 minutes to do this). As you can also fire PMC3 using a kitchen blow touch Donna showed us how to do this too. I wasn't going to embark on this as a hobby at home but I'm kind of running out of space to put all my crafting stuff...but I feel like the seed has been sewn and it might just happen. I didn't have a go at using the blow torch but I kind of wish I had now. 


Once the clay comes out of the kiln it has become 99.9% pure silver though it still looks like white clay. Once you've gone at it with a wire brush the silver surface is revealed. In order to get a good shine on your piece you need to go at it with a bevel (?)...which I kind of did, but to be honest it all looked shiny enough to me. 


Here I am wearing one pair of my new earrings at work - LOVE them!

The Sydney Jewellery School has loads of great classes - I can see myself enrolling in more classes here. 

Flower Power McCall's 6886 - a toile (x 2)

Ever on the quest to find the "perfect dress pattern" for myself I was quite taken by Kirsten's striped version of McCalls 6886. I wasn't quite sure if the pattern (found here) would work for me as it was a bit more snug at the waist than I'd normally wear - but once I had the idea in my head I couldn't get past it.


The dress I'm wearing isn't my original toile (which I had made in the exact same fabric from My Hung in Parramatta) as my overlocker ate the sleeves when I was trying to take them in a bit. The sleeves are VERY wide (I made the size 24 based on my measurements) so I wanted them to be more slim as they made the dress look too big and frumpy as they were drafted - my overlocker had other ideas. The blade refused to cut the material and the whole thing ended up a great big mess. Luckily My Hung still has this fabric in-store so I bought a bit more and tried again.


I've sewn View C with the long sleeves and higher neckline (though I did drop the front a little bit as choking on my necklines isn't my thing at all).  The shoulders are not quite sitting where I think they should and they look a bit like "dropped sleeves" - I could fix this but I don't think it's too bad (and to be honest I'm not sure how to fix it without stuffing things up on future makes so I'll let dropped shoulders drop).

I did make a few other changes to the pattern - namely I added a neckband as the "turn over and stitch down" method never works for me...I just cannot get things to sit nicely. I also removed 1.5cm from the shoulder height and sewed the shoulder seams with my overlocker (using clear elastic to stabilize the seams) rather than using my sewing machine with a 1.5cm seam allowance (that just seems wrong on knits to me). I took the sleeves up by 1.5" and in at the wrists by 1cm on each side (tapering up to nothing under the arms). The sleeves are still a bit too wide at the wrists so I might slim them down a smidge more on my next make.


I really like the finished dress - in fact I'm wearing it to work today. My only niggle is that the neckband is not sitting as flat against the back of my neck as I would like. I did have to attach the neckband twice as the first time it was just too big (why! the neckband on my botched toile was so so perfect)!


I really like this dress and would like to find some nice fabric to make another one for winter - and of course I have ideas for summer versions of this too. I did start to sew another one at home but the fabric is not stretchy enough so it's not very comfy. Sigh.

----

Pattern: McCall's 6886
Size: 24, View C with the long sleeves and higher neckline
Modifications: (see above)
Fabric: 20% Polyester/78% Rayon/2% Spandex from My Hung in Parramatta
Changes for next time: none. 

Thursday, 20 July 2017

A beanie for Dave

I decided on the way to work one morning that I was going to make Dave a beanie...lucky Dave! I was just looking for a small project to take on that I could do on the commute to/from work each day and a beanie is something that I think can be relatively easy. Sadly he said a firm NO to me adding a pom pom to it.

I found the pattern on Ravelry after searching for super-dooper easy crochet beanies for beginners (it also has a youTube video which helped a LOT). The wool is from The Granny Square in Newtown - of course! I like going there as I can bring along the pattern and they'll help me pick the correct wool and hook. I find wool so confusing (DK, worsted, WTF) so getting help is wondeful!


I had SO much trouble getting this beanie started -- I thought I'd be off to a good start and then lose count of the stitches somewhere along the way. I must have started about six times but I finally go there in the end and made good progress over a few weeks.


The pattern comes with instructions on fitting for a male or female head (aka big head vs smaller head) and I did end quite a few more rows than the suggested fourteen rows as that was WAY too small for Dave's head. I had initially finished it with a single stitch but pulled that out as it wasn't stretchy and felt uncomfortable to wear. Since he's started to wear it it has stretched a bit in length so could do with being one row shorter but he's happy to leave it as is...


And here is the finished product on Dave...I think he likes it. I mean, he's worn it without me forcing him to wear it which is nice. I don't think it looks homemade in a bad way...it would just look better with a pom pom on top!


I have a bit of wool left over from this project - enough to make a pom pom infact! And I've bought myself another ball of this wool so will make a beanie for myself.

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

A GIANT granny square blanket

After my Learn to Crochet class at Sew Make Create I got straight onto making a GIANT granny square blanket. I have one that my mother made when I lived with her and I've always wanted to make one of my own...and now I can!

For some reason now unknown to me I had two balls of this wool at home from Lincraft (probably bought for weaving)...it's a lovely variegated (?) blend (50% Acrylic; 47% Wool and 3% Polyester) with a metallic-look yarn mixed in. Of course two balls is not enough to make a blanket so I ordered eight more online from Lincraft (all they had left in stock). Yeah...that's STILL not enough so I bought MORE from Lincraft in Parramatta and then Castle Hill. I think I had 56 balls in total. 

Needless to say I had WAY too much wool and have enough left over to make a second blanket later down the track. 



I started this blanket in April after my class and finished it in June. As the blanket got bigger my crocheting waned but I got there in the end. It was nice to sit on the couch and crochet under the blanket once it got bigger.


I am yet to "edge" the blanket but have decided to put it on my bed whilst the weather is still cool enough for a blanket. It feels my double bed well and I LOVE it!


-----


Monday, 17 July 2017

More Mabel Skirts...

Nothing new here today - just three more Mabel Skirts. Two are winners, one is a big fat fail. Let's start with the bad news first and then end on a happy note!

I'm really bummed that this skirt is a fail as the fabric is my much sought after "jegging" fabric - bought in Hanoi at the Dong Xuan market (so it's not replaceable at this point in time). Basically - the stretch on this fabric runs up and down the fabric and not across but I still but it cut it out as I normally would. Thus, we have a really bloody tight skirt that is so uncomfortable! I'm lucky I have enough left to give this another go - hopefully it will work out when the time comes. I did also find some similar fabric via an online store in Australia...so all is not lost.


This skirt is refashioned from The Casual Lady Dress that I made back in 2015. The dress either shrunk in the wash or I expanded in the wash - either way it didn't fit comfortable anymore and wasn't getting worn. I love the fabric (from fabric.com) so decided to make it into a Mabel Skirt. I was (obviously) very tired when this photo was being taken.


I have no idea why I bought the below fabric - I think I had it mind for a dress, but hindsight is 20:20 as this is not a fabric I'd wear in a dress as it's not stretchy enough. This Cotton/Elastane Stretch Woven Velveteen is from Tessuti and I still have quite a bit left (no idea what to do with it). Anyway...it's made an nice skirt, though it does get a bit baggy in the butt area after I've been sitting in it for awhile.

---

Pattern: "Mabel Skirt" by Colette Patterns
Size: XL, sewn with 3/8" seam allowance and lengthened by 15cm. Depending on how stretchy the fabric is I add 1cm - 2cm. 
Modifications: 5cm elastic waistband (added 10cm to the pattern to accommodate for this), 15cm added to length. 
Fabric: Various
Changes for next time: none. 

Hacking Simplicity 1366

I really like my dress version of Simplicity 1366 - so I decided to make two more. When you're onto a good thing you may as well keep going with it!

I decided that I needed the dress to be a smidge longer than my last version so I added an extra inch to it (so 17.5" added to the top pattern to make it hit just at my knees when hemmed). I'm pretty happy with this length now.
This fabric was bought from the Ben Thanh Market in Saigon on my recent trip to Vietnam. It's hard to see but it is a ribbed knit. I can't remember how much I paid for this but it wasn't expensive and it's really good quality - a nice weight and was great to sew with.
I also found my last version just a bit too sack like so I took 1cm off the CB fold, thus reducing the back by 2cm overall. I think the fit is much better now, though still loose.


Neckline - I'm basically including this photo as it shows the rib pattern.


Ta da! Another dress version. This fabric is a ribbed knit from Tessuti (yes, I have a THING for ribbed knits at the moment). I actually HATED this dress when I first put it on - it felt really stiff, frumpy and blergh. I threw it in the wash and left it hanging upon the washing line for about two weeks. I tried it on again yesterday and I'm quite fond of it now. Go figure.

This jumper was initially a Mandy Boat Tee, but the fabric didn't have enough stretch and those sleeves were T-I-G-H-T! Luckily I had enough fabric left over to fangle something else out of - and this Simplicity 1366 jumper is what I came up with.

I made this back in late April I think so I can't really remember what I did! The length of the top was dictated by the fabric I had left over; and the story with the sleeves is the same.

This fabric is from Cabramatta and is knit of some sort - not very stretchy. I'm glad I could salvage it and turn it in to something else. I did go back to Cabramatta to see if this fabric was still there, but it had all sold out. Bummer!

I guess this top is a "win" though the sleeves are a bit annoying - the kind of sleeves that will flop into your soup if you're not careful! It's also not quite long enough to wear with my winter work pants (which are a slim-fit ponti pant).



-----
PatternSimplicity 1366
Size: 18
Modifications Dress:  added 17.5" to the length, added 1cm to both the side of the front and back neckline and dropped the front neckline a bit. Shortened the sleeves by 5cm. Took 1cm off the CB fold. 

Fabricvarious as per the post
Changes for next time: nada 

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Crochet baskets - another class

I know that I *just* did a class on making crochet baskets but I didn't feel that I got everything out of it that I needed to make awesome baskets. I did hesitate quite a bit about booking another same-same class but I'm glad I took this one at Workshop in Redfern on Saturday as I walked about with some new skills to make more professional looking baskets...and a new obsession!


The class is taught by Amy from The Knot Collective - she was a great teacher and very patient. We got to choose what size basket to make (small, medium or large) and I think nearly everyone in the class went with the medium size. I really love the handles on the baskets she brought as examples so we got to make those as well - they are so much more simple than I had thought!


The class went for four hours and I remember thinking when I booked it that that is a VERY long time. It's not! We all finished our baskets but worked right up until the last minute. The yarn (t-shirt yarn) was very thick and the hook was a mammoth size 15 -- so it was slow going as the hands get very tired.

Below is my finished basket - I LOVE it! I love the handles and I love that we learned how to turn the work so there is a distinct base and walls. I think it looks pretty professional and am totally going to give up my day job now to open an ETSY store selling baskets. I wish!


Here we all our with our finished baskets....I love how they are all same same but different.

As soon as I got home I whipped out the Spaghetti Yarn I bought from Lincraft after my last class and got stuck right into making another basket. I wanted to practice the "magic circle" technique used to start the basket as well as turning from the base up to the walls. Needless to say I LOVE THIS BASKET!


We were also shown in class how to change colours so I wanted to practice that too - it's something that will come in handy with the rest of my crochet (to date I've just been tying a knot in my yarn and continuing on...naughty). I LOVE the way this one looks - the pink is fantastic. I'm giving this one to a friend as a gift as I don't think I need a house filled with these - though it would be nice.


I have some of the pink and colourful white yarn left over and I'm going to have a go at crochet a rug/bathmat from it. And a friend at work is keen for a basket...so yay to more crocheting!