Friday, July 30, 2010

Wildflowers in my Neighborhood

 I love walking.  Walking places, walking nowhere; with people, by myself; any time of day I haven't been socially conditioned to be afraid.  So I was walking recently and I saw this vista:

What did I notice?  Flowers in the storm drain!  (I would also have accepted the answer "friggin' geese!" but they're a little hard to see.)


They left pollen everywhere on the table (no wonder wildflowers are so prolific!) but they are lovely.

In other news, I signed up for the Phat Quarter swap today.  I've already started my project (Is that okay??  What if my partner doesn't like the movie I've picked?!) and will be working on it more this weekend.  Another swap etiquette question: posting in-progress photos (or photos of the finished project before it's been received) is a no-no, right?

Monday, July 26, 2010

Mystery Monday 2: Dating the Jacket

Mystery Monday 1 is here.

In the past week, I've done some more research on 19th century women's clothing to try and pin down the age of my pieces.  Wikipedia takes good care of me sometimes.  Between my buddy Wikipedia and the exhibition catalog from the Cincinnati Art Museum's 1993 "With Grace and Favor: Victorian & Edwardian Fashion in America," I think I'm looking at something from the very late 1870s or early 1880s.

Here are some notable details:

Front with princess seams
afternoon dresses, 1877

The front of the jacket flares out a little-- see how the panels on either side of the front widen slightly in both images? 

This jacket, which has princess seams, has been cut to accommodate a bustle that would have protruded horizontally.  The smooth back--no pleats or decoration-- makes me think that this is an everyday "afternoon" dress that, although the bustled skirt may have been draped elaborately, was designed for practicality.  As practical as a bustle could be, that is.

Another similarity I found between my piece and c.1880 afternoon dresses was in the seaming in the back.  This brown dress has the same number kind of seams in the back and a curved sleeve constructed in the same way.

There's a bustle here.
Brown Afternoon Dress 1880s

Next time on Mystery Monday: Having buried my nose in 1875-1885 fashion plates, find some details and decorations that pinpoint the year of construction even more precisely.  
Stay tuned!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Firefly Flour Sack Towels

Firefly embroidered towels. 

What do you do for a couple of Joss Whedon fans who are getting married?  Embroider some Firefly-themed flour sack towels, of course.

"No power in the 'verse can stop you!" 

I chose the quote "No power in the 'verse can stop you" because it felt like a better thematic choice than "big damn heroes."

I decided against "I can kill you with my mind" for similar reasons.

The highlight of this project was embroidering a line drawing of Serenity.  Having only seen a few episodes of the Firefly, I didn't trust myself to accurately render something from screenshots (what if I didn't know what that one panel actually did, and I omitted it, and it was CRUCIAL to the ship's structural integrity?!) so I decided to trace an image I found online.

Too bad my printer didn't have any have any ink...but have you ever had an idea that (to quote Homer Simpson) is "stupid... LIKE A FOX!!"

Oh Yeah 

Oh, yeah.  I won't make a habit of this.

Serenity: Engine Detail 

In conclusion: I think my friends will like them. I like my friends, so this is a good thing.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Dream Journal #1

A page from my paper diary:

Entirely unsurprising: I feel a lot of fabric in my dreams.

Monday, July 19, 2010

A Victorian Mystery

On our way home from a fun and busy weekend in Columbus, Fix and I stopped at the Heart of Ohio Antiques Center.  Neither of us had been to an antiques place before, so this was beyond overwhelming!

I found a skirt and jacket, sold as a set and labeled "Victorian" for a small enough sum that I dug up some great plans for them.

So I'd like to introduce a weekly feature on The Relaxolotl: Mystery Monday, in which I'll be exploring these pieces and learning all of their secrets.
Mystery Victorian Jacket
  • My first mission is to learn about these pieces: Were they worn together?  When were they made?  What are they made out of?
  • My second mission is to figure out how they were constructed and eventually deconstruct them myself.
but why take such beautiful old things apart?
  • My third mission is to use the pieces (especially if they were meant to be worn together) to make a pattern for a similar piece that will fit me for some (probably more Steampunk than historically-accurate) outfit.

    Mystery Victorian Skirt
    The skirt.

    fl6Here's what I know so far:
    They are both old.  The measurements are those of a very corseted figure, and the evidence of wear (and repair) shows that someone of that size did indeed wear these garments.  (How corseted?  The jacket fits me in the shoulders and bust, but is four or five inches too small in the waist and the skirt, while being long enough for a woman at least 5'6", has a 19.5" waist.  Here it is next to a sharpie for reference.)

    Friday, July 16, 2010

    My Favorite Socks are Also My Least Favorite Socks

    I haven't been knitting much since moving, but I wanted to share a project that is both a favorite and a less-than-favorite: my magic mirror socks.

    mellow stripe magic mirror socks
    (See more of these at Ravelry here.)

    The striped yarn (Heart and Sole with Aloe in Mellow Stripe) is lovely yarn --both colors and feel--, and the (free) pattern was challenging, but not impossible and had great results!  It fits well and feels good, too.  The problem?  As you can see, when both the yarn and the pattern speak for themselves independently, when you put them together, the message is incomprehensible.

    I wear them on special occasions (turning in my Senior Essay! first day of work!) and when I need a little extra confidence (turning in my Senior Essay!  first day of work!).  Even though they're rather awful from a design standpoint, they always make me smile.

    Meanwhile, I'm also brainstorming what I'd like to do for the next Phat Quarter swap.  I've never done a swap before so I'm just hoping I won't commit any faux pas.

    Come to think of it, I'm always hoping I won't commit any faux pas.

    The Red Couch

    Wednesday, July 14, 2010

    Neither Peacock Nor Paisley Headband

    One of my long-term goals is to make more of the things I wear.  Accessories are a good place to start because they're small and quick.  I've recently learned to needle felt, and decided these shapes would look fabulous decorating a headband.

    headband three
    (I was right.)

    It's peacock without the feathery shedding, paisley without the crowded details, and a piece of art I'll want to wear.

    headband detail
    Here's the felt in more detail.

    I have one longer project in the works (weddings make great deadlines!) and pretty soon, I'll have the first part ready to share.

    Monday, July 12, 2010

    Delicious Earth Food for Humans

    Remember the kiwano?

    It's green on the inside.  Bright green.  Delicious earth food for humans, indeed.  It was tasty and entertaining, with a mild banana-kiwi flavor and the texture of cucumber seeds and jello.

    Batik update: not very good, but not as gross as I'd anticipated.

    Batik 1

    Maybe a heavier cotton canvas wasn't the material to use, because I've ironed and ironed and scrubbed it in boiling-hot water and it won't soften up and stop feeling thoroughly waxed.  This is a bad thing if I still wanted to make it into a table runner, but it isn't a good size after all.

    Batik 2 Here it is beside the napkins it was supposed to match.

    On the plus side, the waxed canvas feels  cool and has many uses.  My glasses case is getting grungy, or I could make sturdy clutch purses out of it. (I hope it isn't too waxy for The Tank to handle!)

    Friday, July 9, 2010

    "Our New Home Together"

    Still making functional, homey things:

    Coaster in Progress 

    I finished this coaster today and I'll felt it anon during the Festival of St. Laundrityme.

    Habits I have picked up from Shakespeare: using the word 'anon' when appropriate.  The legend and subsequent festival of St. Laundrityme, that must've been Chaucer or something.  Dickens perhaps?

    Coasters are both good and useful. They are also classier than cardboard, books, laptops, or socks. Don't worry, Internet: the socks thing only happened once.

    As much as I like Ohio so far (everyone is SO NICE and traffic is moderate) I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for my guy, Fix.  He just started his job here and I've known him a little over a year.  We're crazy about one another and if we weren't both so smart and thoughtful,* I'd say we're crazy in general for moving so fast.  But so far, so good.  Almost a month and many pieces of flat-pack furniture later, we're still interacting respectfully and lovingly.

    It's a big step in life as well as in a relationship to move in with someone, especially since I moved directly from my parents' home to a dorm room nearby to eight or so hours away in friggin' Ohio. This is an important time to explore what home means to me, how I share my home with someone else, and what kinds of things I want out of my art and out of my life.  Also it is important to learn how to cook.

    Feeding Yourselves 101: check expiration dates before buying packaged produce and milk.
    Feeding Yourselves 102: check again before eating.

    *I think it's important to make a distinction between the two.  
    Meanwhile, we are also attractive, talented, hard-working, articulate, pleasant-smelling (unless we're impressively stinky), loyal, good dancers, and best of all: modest.

    Wednesday, July 7, 2010

    Adventures in Fruit


    I don't know what this is going to taste like, but I'm going to eat it and it will be an adventure.

    My aforementioned ambitious plan for the rest of the napkin fabric was to batik it and make a table runner.  I'm assisting the instructor of a 3-day batik workshop and had a few minutes here and there to work on it.

    Lessons learned: "a few minutes here and there" isn't enough time to produce a batik that is not hideous.  Also: dyeing green fabric orange may produce something hideous.  

    There will be pictures when I’ve ironed all the wax out and the true nature of the beast will be revealed.
    They will probably be ugly pictures.

    Monday, July 5, 2010

    Meet The Tank -- or -- A Lesson is Learned

    Meet The Tank. 

    The Tank

    The Tank belonged to my mother, and now it belongs to me: 30 pounds of quality machine from the early 1970s.  I am loyal to The Tank; it's been very good to me.

    I’ve always known that I’d be happiest in a home where I was surrounded by my own creative output, and moving out of a dorm and into this blank canvas of an apartment has given me that opportunity.  My workspace is still being excavated out from under a mountain of cardboard (which would be the makings of an excellent fort if I didn’t have a day job) and I’m slowly getting into the swing of making stuff again.

    Making stuff here is different than it was before; I've just moved in with my guy, Fix.  A nesting instinct must've kicked in, because I'm making practical things.  Quite a step in a new direction for the woman who started sewing because she was displeased with the quality of commercially-made capes.  I got a little carried away with this "practical" business, however, and decided to make cloth napkins.   

    Twenty dollars and three hours later, I have six napkins, some vaguely burned fingers (I'd never used Fix's iron before) and a little more wisdom than before.  It was a good project for getting used to my new workspace and making friends with The Tank again.  In conclusion: I love sewing, but making napkins isn't worth the time or the money.  

    Slightly less practical: my ambitious plans for the leftover napkin fabric.

    Sunday, July 4, 2010

    There's a New Tomato in Town

    So I moved to Ohio.

    New Tomato in Town 

    And I needle felted myself a pincushion. 

    New Tomato in Town

    And I started a blog.
    New Tomato in Town  

    Here's to independence.