Monday 22 April 2013

All change please, all change...

Morning all!

I've been umming and ahhing for a while now, but having investigated the benefits, the time has come to bid farewell to blogger in favour of hosting the blog on my website. It should hopefully push the website up the list on Google by adding new content more regularly, and there are lots of shiny buttons and stuff to make sharing, commenting and subscribing to the blog much easier for those who are so inclined :) To those of you who have linked up to this blog by email or subscription, I thank you very muchly and would be delighted if you would be so kind as to sign up to the new blog too - there's conveniently a lovely 'All Aboard' link on the right hand side of the new page via which you may indulge ;)

I'm leaving all the old posts in situ so this will all still be here, but for future (mis)adventures, experiments and general millinery musings: roll up, roll up, and step this way...

Tuesday 9 April 2013

Making headway

It's here!! The sunshine is here!! Well, perhaps not that much sunshine today, but there is a distinct lack of snow, ice and the North Wind, so I'm calling it. With this in mind, and because I'm (hopefully) hosting a table at a local Ladies' Night event (details tbc), I have made some strident headway with a proper S/S2013 Collection!

I have also learned a valuable lesson: it's really a lot easier to get a collection on the go when you can design for a specific audience - from designing to styling to pricing to business planning, a bit of focus seems to have made a significant difference! (Does everyone else find this too!?)

Anyway, as a result I have made great progress this week:

 Laced Up #1: Oversized navy 'tangled' sinamay flower
 Laced Up #2: Oversized cream 'tangled' sinamay flower

Strawberries & Cream: Pink sinamay button with 'tangled' cream bow

Blossom: Hessian button with cerise silk velvet and dupion flower, with chocolate merry widow veiling

I have also made the somewhat obvious but nonetheless executive decision to become a walking advert for my millinery ventures, and will now endeavour to wear a hat whenever I'm out and about. Once again, a specific brief (not-to-extravagant-to-wear-with-jeans-but-must-be-originally-chic-and-have-a-personality-more-of-a-headpiece-but-definitely-more-than-a-hairband) made the design and creation very easy.

 Lola: Black felt origami rose with shot silk dupion leaves

And finally, I took a deep breath, crossed my fingers, and submerged the piano into a bowl of warm water...and it blooming worked!!! It's still a little damp (and so not on Bessie's head!) but I love the effect! There will definitely be further Aquafilm Adventures :)

 Elton: What do you get if you cross a grand piano with a doodle and a spider's web...?

And last but by no means least, I may be a day late this week but it does mean you get the pick of the bunch over at the Handmade Monday craftster blogs! Enjoy my dears, and I'll see you next week!

Monday 25 March 2013

Well we're all in the mood for a melody...

So it turns out that (in the main) the teething problems haven't been Shrek's fault: I've been turning the tension down instead of up a lot (?!?!?!) and the thread I've been using isn't very well wound and frequently slips off the bottom of the reel to assume a vice-like grip around the spindle, obviously royally interfering with the tension in the process!

Poor Shrek. We're friends now, and have made something pretty special I think... :)

After a few practice runs, I decided to keep the right side completely black (save the odd gun metal thread poking through during Tension Gate) and use more straight stiching and very fine zigzags (the first more dense piece is really quite heavy for a hat!) [Apologies - the photos here don't quite show the distinction accurately!]

Practice makes...
 Even if I do say so myself! ;)

Dry (wet) run

I realise that the instructions say that this is exactly what will happen, but I couldn't believe my eyes when the aquafilm did actually just melt away to leave the free standing embroidery - it's like magic, and very cool indeed!! :)
On the aqua film
Soaked in warm water for a moment or two
Free standing free motion embriodery! Magic!!
(Luckily, I was advised to make sure there's a warp and a weft in place - if you're going to have a go yourself this is crucial as it's the only thing holding everything firm.)

Fine Tuning

I haven't decided yet whether this one is to be called 'Elton' or 'Liberace' - what do you think? I'm tempted to do another one in glittery thread, so bear that in mind when you're deciding! ;)

Just a couple of seams left to go!

I just ('just' ha) need to add a wire frame to hold the shape firm, sew the final seams up by hand, and perch him on a little base. Oh, and find a buyer / occasion to wear it! ;) Hoping to accomplish at least the first three to show you next Monday!

My beautiful crackle glazed handles arrived this week - in the end I couldn't decide on the colour so I got one of each and I love them!

And with the Shrek's whirring still ringing in my ears there's just time to show you Alfie's artisic adventures this weekend (rather arty photo opportunities on (and after!) our snowy walks, and his highly accurate illustrations of Chaos Theory in the garden)...

The Handmade Monday crew have been busy this week too - why not indulge yourself too and I'll see you next week! :)

Monday 18 March 2013

Oodles of doodles

March just isn't my month! It's been another slightly frustrating week, this time care of mechanical meltdowns! My year old Bush machine seems to need some professional TLC / a straight replacement - it's suddenly only catching the left hand side of zigzag stitches!? It was a pretty cheap machine so not really worth a hefty repair fee, but if you've any idea why this is, please do let me know so I can try to fix it myself!

Luckily, a friend kindly gave her old Brother machine to my mum a few months ago, which I have now commandeered - initially until the other is fixed but it's so smooth to use that I think I'm going to adopt it :) After some small tantrums (from both me and the machine!) I've oiled it, defluffed it and read the manual from cover to cover, and now we're getting on famously.

Introducing Shrek: so christened after I removed 'enough lint to fill an ogre's belly button' ;)

"He ain't heavy..."
Here's what we've been working on...!

Last week I was introduced to the wonders of aqua film. It's a water soluble stabiliser for machine embroidery, and my favourite of its myriad uses is to layer it up as a base to create standalone free motion embroidery motifs - amazing! And potentially perfect for a piano hat doodled out of thread... I recognise that this description requires an imaginative leap, so hopefully the pictures will show you what I mean!

Design: Paper mock up

Pattern cutting

Transferring the pattern

Practice: Small scale in black thread

Lid: Black and gunmetal grey thread

It's pretty time consuming (and the thread breaks quite regularly, and I've broken 4 needles - Shrek and I are still experiencing some teething problems!) and I do find myself dritfing off into a zigzag daze, but I really love the effect! Keep up with my progress on Twitter and Facebook during the week, and I'll hopefully have a finished hat to show you next time! In the meantime, why not pop over and see what they've all been up to at Handmade Monday, see you next week kids!

Monday 11 March 2013

A little less conversation...

Oh dear, it's been a bad week. As a result, no hat pictures as such to share, but I have got a few photos to show for an otherwise slightly few frustrating days!

For the high jump

Dave Brill kindly gave me permission to incorporate his origami horse design into a hat for Ascot. I knew it was going to test my folding skills (there are 53 steps in the instructions!), and I'm not admitting defeat, but I'm going to have to come back to it another day when I'm feeling especially patient.

Ear apparent: It turns out it is impossible to fold horse ears for the first time when said ears are smaller than one's little finger nail >_<

So near and yet so far: Take two - big enough for the ears but now I'm well and truly stuck!
I know it'll be worth all this in the end but for now this remains a work in progress...!

A place for everything and everything in its place

After putting in the new shelves on Tuesday, Dad and I realised that we'd rather underestimated the weight of the blocks as all the shelves began to bow worringly in the middle! Double thickness boards saved the day, and I spent a happy afternoon belatedly settling my blocks and equipment into their new home. I'm just trying to pick four pretty ceramic drawer knobs out of the hundreds available online (I'm not good at this sort of decision!) and it'll be finished :)

Moving day


I even managed to find new homes for 90% of the stuff cluttering my desk, and now have a super wide table space perfect for cutting fabric again - can't wait to get started!

Flower power

I learned how to make these as giant flowers from the blog of one of my favourite crafty places back in the big smoke, Homemade London (which always, always has beautiful windows!). Since yesterday's weather was particularly bleak and snowy, we thought these would help inject a bit of spring into Mothering Sunday - and Mum loved them :)

Handmade Monday

Fortunately other people seem to have had more success this week at Handmade Harbour's weekly update! Favourites this time include Ginx Craft's bumblebee booties; Crochet Eclectics' cloche hat; Fat Monica's cute Mothers' Day card; and Amigurumi Barmy's adorable bunny.

Right, I'm off to channel some positive thinking and ignore origami horses ;) See you next week!