Thursday, March 7, 2013

To Dye For

 I love Natural Dyes. It's a recent thing. Maybe even a new obsession. The smell, the variety, the mystery of what will I get this time?... It makes my heart go pitter-patter.

Canvas Market Tote in Rose
When I was in 1st grade I sat next to a boy named Wesley. Other kids made fun of us. We didn't care. We used to sharpen our colored pencils together with a common interest in the resulting color of the shavings.  Somehow, for some strange reason, it made us happy. Wesley and I bonded over the simple pleasure. 

I haven't seen Wesley since 1st grade but I still think of him when I mix colors. The child-like eagerness to experiment comes back in the blink of an eye. I wash my soul in the colored water and it gives back to me the vibrant joy I seek.

Only Nature makes colors like this...

You can purchase a piece of my soul if you like. It comes in the form of a soft hand dyed market tote that will serve you well for a long time. I guarantee it is made with all the love and care one can put into it.

Monday, March 4, 2013

DIY - How to Make a Pattern from a Sketch

How to make a sewing pattern from an idea or sketch - Step by step Tutorial with Pictures

One of the most essential skills of sewing is being able to make your own pattern from an idea. In this post I will take you through the basic steps involved in creating your own pattern from a sketch. This tutorial will be best if you are an intermediate to advanced seamstress.

The original idea I had for a fun yet responsible looking shirt

Sometimes the idea comes first and the fabric must be sought out, other times I see certain fabrics that scream "MAKE ME INTO SOMETHING AMAZING!!!" Either way you need to start out with a loose plan. I sketched out an idea I had for a professional looking yet fun top as my first step. When drawing the idea I thought about things like shape and the way the fabric might fit after being sewn. All patterns are basic geometric shapes. Keep that in mind when you create your drawing. Also remember to be flexible, especial on your first few attempts to do this. My shirt varied slightly from my plan because I changed small things as I went in order to save time or simplify certain steps.

Old Men's Dress Shirts before being upcycled into a sexy Woman's business shirt.

 My next step was to pick the fabric that would become my top. I had saved several of my grandfather's old dress shirts when he passed away thinking that I could re-purpose them later. I chose Grey, Pink, and a fancy white and silver one. The combination of colors reminded me of a tie my husband had from probably before I was born that would work well with the theme of my shirt: responsible yet sexy.

Old Sports Bra being recycled to make a sewing pattern.

Now that I had all my supplies gathered it was time to start making my one dimensional drawing into a pattern that would create a three dimensional object. A very easy way to start is to choose an old article of clothing with a similar fit to what you want that you don't mind chopping up. I saved this sports bra with stains and holes for this purpose. I put the bra on and decided where I wanted the seams to be in the chest area. I then marked exactly where those seams would be with a sharpie. I took the bra off and chopped along the lines. The resulting bits and pieces are what I would later use to make the actual pattern. (Yes, this bra is just a precursor to the actual pattern.)

To make the official pattern I laid the cut up bra pieces on top of some junk mail and traced around them making sure to leave 1/4" to 1/2" inch of extra space around the edge for seam allowance and/or hemming. This only gave me the pattern for the bust of the shirt though. To design the body of the shirt I matched the waist pieces to the bust parts so they were the same width. I decided length by measuring from the bottom of where the bust would be to the place I wanted the bottom hem to lay around my hips. I then added seam allowance where needed. To get the shape of the sides I simply drew a rectangle that matched up to the width of the side bust piece and the length of the center body piece. I then trimmed it to look like an hourglass shape. If the hourglass isn't perfectly shaped for your body don't worry too much. There are ways to take it in later that will save frustration and brain cells. It just needs to be close to correct at this point (error on the side of too large.)

Lay your pattern on a flat surface in the way that it will be sewn together. This will allow you to see if there are any big mistakes before you cut into fabric. When you are sure it looks like what you want transfer your pattern onto the fabric you intend to use. If you are worried about mistakes or wasting expensive fabric I suggest buying some muslin or linen to make a tester.

At this point you will need to decide what order to sew the parts in. Think about what will fit easily on your machine without a lot of bunching in the arm. Also consider where the various seams will join up. There's almost nothing worse than a seam that doesn't line up right. For the shirt I made as an example I joined the upper and lower parts first, then sewed the vertical panels together. I hemmed everything after joining so that they were all a consistent size. I did some decorative top-stitching on the gray panels at this point to make the shirt lay nicer when worn and because it makes the seams more sturdy.

My last step was to attach an old men's tie I was going to reuse for the straps. I had my hubby help me with this because it was late at night, I was getting lazy, and my girl friend was on her way to pick me up so we could go out ( I really wanted to wear this.) I sewed the small end of the tie where I wanted it to hold up the front and threw the extra over my shoulder. I told my hubby to snip the tie parallel to the upper back hem of the blouse and to leave me at least half an inch for the seam. The second strap was easier - I sewed the snipped portion of the tie opposite the other strap on the back, threw on the shirt, and marked where the excess portion of the tie fell on the front. I then took the shirt off and sewed the fat part of the tie in a decorative manner on the front. Voila! A brand new and completely unique piece of clothing for me to wear!

I tried the shirt on and noticed that there was extra space in the waist area. This is the simple fix I was telling you about: Mark with straight pins or a light pencil mark how much extra room there is in the areas needing adjusting. Turn the clothing inside out and add another row of stitches further in where you marked. Turn right side out and try on again. Repeat this step if needed - I had to take the shirt in twice after I finished it. I have since altered my pattern to save me this trouble if I ever make this shirt again.

If you are having problems with a pattern take a deep breath and remember to reduce all of it to simple shapes. It's just geometry wrapped around your body.

Thanks for reading! For more DIY articles by Tiny Tipis click here.

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Friday, March 1, 2013

Featuring Tanuki Jewlery

 Occasionally you find an artist that clearly creates from the soul. Their work is such a part of them you aren't sure where the artist ends and the masterpiece starts as they seam to merge as one. Today I would like to share with you a jeweler who creates art from metal in a most elegant way.

Vanessa O of Tanuki Jewelery has a passion for simple beauty one could say. Her work draws inspiration from her surroundings taking note of the textures, shapes, and current fashion trends. Utilizing techniques such as wax carving, casting, stamping, soldering, stretching, and metal manipulation Vanessa is able to create unique jewelery with pure sophistication.

When asked to tell us a little about herself here is what Vanessa had to say:

     "I am a traveler, photographer, crafter, and jewelry maker.  I am in love with things DIY, and had always wanted to make my own jewelry.  I took some courses on wax carving, and metalsmithing and fell in love.  I take inspiration from every day shapes, my travels, and street fashion.  All my items are handmade with love, and are meant to wear as simple every day jewelry, that can also grab attention from your friends!"

Vanessa is a lover of all things handmade and enjoys the care put into handmade items. Browse through the collection of delicate items she has created for you on her Etsy store or follow her on Twitter to keep up with her newest pieces.

Remember there's never a better time to buy than when there is a discount! Vanessa has kindly offered free domestic shipping in the US for the month of March 2013 to all Tiny Tipis blog readers. Use code "TINYTIPISFREESHIP" at checkout.

Thanks for reading! To see our other featured artists click here.

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