Sunday, November 12, 2017

Celebrate Catastrophe! Turn UFO's into FrankenQuilts!

Presenting my new FrankenQuilt! 
Yes, sort of like that, except in fabric!
It's stitched together from old body parts stashed in my UFO* cupboard, a freakin' scary place. Said cupboard contains 25 years worth of aesthetic outrages, piling up since I started quilting.

I normally avoid this cupboard, to preserve my sanity and self-esteem. Occasionally I squint my eyes and shove things in, slamming the door shut quickly so nothing escapes.

But the demise of my computer forced a confrontation. The computer was behaving so badly that my DH had to send it to a computer meditation retreat, where it contemplated the ways it had wronged me, and gradually repented.

Without my computer, endless hours yawned ahead. I was in the middle of several writing projects that I couldn't do on my phone. I was creatively stuck on a major quilt.  I tried, how you call it, "vacuuming the house," but that only took a half hour.

So I was forced to the cupboard. Among the better offerings was this top. (Pretend it's not quilted).
It's made up entirely of wedge-shaped pieces, cut circa 2001, when I was obsessed with Marilyn Doheney's wedge rulers. My kids were little and I made a bunch of hyperactive medallion quilts for gifts and our preschool's auctions. Here's one I donated:
The medallion includes chopped flamingos, tigers, zebras, alligators, manatees, and polka dots....
I liked that so much I made another one to keep....
When these and others like them were done, I had a thick stack of leftover wedges, like this: 
They sat on the UFO shelf for many years. Somewhat recently - maybe within the last three years - I sewed them into another medallion, 
and raw-edge zigzagged that onto a teal background fabric....(pretend this isn't quilted)....
...plus made four borders out of strip-pieced wedges and solid fabric wedges....
 ...And then restuffed this whole thing back into the cupboard....

...where I found it last week.  Also in the UFO cupboard, I also found a stack of blocks from my much-more-recent hashtag obsession. (i.e. earlier this year).
My tutorial about how to make these blocks is in this blog post.

I decided to lay my spanking new hashtag blocks around my spanking old wedge medallion.  Although the colors didn't match, I kind of liked the effect!  There weren't quite enough hashtag blocks, so I whipped up some more...




...below, a half a hashtag is better (and faster) than none....

Plus some of my original hashtag blocks were insanely boring, so I shattered them....
....and surgically enhanced  others: 

 The border quilting, as you saw in the shots above, was straight-line quilting. The corner blocks were quilted with curly loops. I quilted a sun in the middle....
...and did a whole lot of freemotion wiggling on the teal background....

I think the uneven wedges look like the stitching on Frankenstein's neck!

With or without wedges, you can make a Frankenquilt too! Just follow this simple tutorial:

 1. Await a mild catastrophe that forces you away from as many electronic devices as possible. At the very least, your PC should crash. It would also help if your kindle, cable, and cellphone goes down. However, if your electricity goes down, this won't work, unless you own a hand-crank.

2. Go to your UFO cupboard, grit your teeth, and pull stuff out. Find things that are remotely related, and sew them together. If common sense tries to stop you, explain to it that you are making a charity quilt, or an ottoman quilt, or something that honors the kooky spirit of Young Frankenstein! When it's over, you'll be exhausted but happy!

* UFO=Unfinished Objects. A more euphemistic/positive term is "Works in Process."

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Wrong Meets Right: Half-Backwards, Reversible Denim Scrap Purse Tutorial

Here's a crossbody 7" x 9" upcycled denim pouch that can be worn inside-out, or outside-in.  In fact, it's not at all clear to me which way is out!  Let's call this Side A, Orientation 1....
Turn it over to see Side A, Disorientation 1 

Open it up, reach inside, pull out the inside, and here's Side B, chaos...

....and Side B, not so chaotic....

This makes a guaranteed unique gift and even if you don't crochet, you can improvise alternatives. Here's how it happened.

It all started out, as most of my stuff, as therapy sewing. I love sewing wedges, especially  wedges made from old jeans. The soothing blues, the foamy whites, the gentle oceanic ripples and creases that I'm too lazy to press out; wedges give it all a wavy feel.  Sometimes I cut wedges improvisationally...
...and sometimes I use a wedge ruler, like I did for this project. I started out with a light set and a dark set. Here's the finished side of both sets, both about 7" x 8".
 Their reverse sides:
As usual, I couldn't decide which I liked better! The finished side is neater, but the oh those raw edges!!! So I decided to sew my two panels together with one wrong side facing one right side! I did a straight stitch around three sides (stitching shows best where the arrow is pointing.)
 Next, I used my handy Edge Perfect blade (no financial affiliation) ...
to cut evenly spaced holes just outside the stitching. I did a blanket stitch through the holes with a light blue perle cotton.
 The flip side:
 I also cut holes along the top. The next step was to do a couple of rounds of single crochet with the light blue embroidery floss. Along the top opening, I  separated the layers before crocheting. (If you're not a crocheter, you don't need to do this at all. Or you could conceivably sew or even GLUE trim around the edges.  Just a pompom trim along the bottom?)
Next, crochet a flap, and make it loose in the area where it is likely to meet a button. I crocheted a circle, but a square, triangle, parallagram, etc. would work, too. If you're really good at crochet, unlike me, make a fabulous mandala! Here's my non-fabulous flap.
If you're not a crocheter, you could cut a scrap of leather, faux leather, ultrasuede, or even another piece of denim, etc., to make the flap. You will need to cut a buttonhole, soon. 

Stitch the flap securely to one side of the purse. 

 On the flip side, place a button. I used a white plastic shank button on this side. 
If you crocheted your flap loosely, you don't need to "make" a buttonhole - just button through the crochet. If you're using an alternative - say a piece of ultrasuede - use this button placement to cut a buttonhole.

Reach in and pull out the reverse side, and plant another button where the hole in your flap will meet it. On this side, I used a vintage mother-of-pearl and metal shank button.
 And here's the back:
I added a round of dark blue crochet to the purse edges. I crocheted a 47" strap using double crochet, sized for an adult, but of course you should size it to whoever will use the purse. This is a good project for teaching youngsters to sew and/or crochet! For many more denim and crochet projects, click "denim" in my word cloud on the right! For bags, click on purse. 


Saturday, October 21, 2017

Ten Minute Ugly Necktie Halloween Monster!

Meet my new best friend/Halloween decor!

He's made out of scary neckties! He's low-sew or no-sew (glue works, too!) The label that serves as his mouth reveals the source of the blue tie: Sears/The Men's Store, I'm guessing  circa 1968.  The red tie is strewn with San Francisco cable cars! Both ties are so bad, they're great!

He's posing with HIS new best friend, a crocheted pumpkin of yore. Unlike the crochet, he is so fast  and so undoable! If ultra-wide, terrifying neckties ever come back into fashion, it's very easy to take him apart, and wind up with two intact separate neckties! (Unless you used glue.)

Can you stand it? Let's begin!

1. Obtain two horrible, wide, neckties. Use a seam ripper to carefully remove the label from at least one if you will be using it as a mouth (or other feature.)

2. Starting is the hard part. Fold the left necktie (blue) over on top of itself as shown. Place the right necktie (red) underneath it, and bring the short end down on top of the folded blue tie.
Arrange the short/narrow ends like this:
 Pull the long end of the red tie over its short end...
 ...Smush that red tie into the blue hole, and pull up a loop of red tie.
Now pull the long end of the blue tie to the right, make a loop, and insert it in the red loop. Pull the loop of blue tie out, and adjust as needed so the front of the tie faces outward.
 Bring the red tie up and pull through another loop, and adjust so front of it shows...
...and bring a blue loop through the red loop. Keep alternating until you're almost out of necktie ends. You want enough leftover to serve as arms, plus a nice generous head. (Unless you prefer the Doc Ock look with long arms and a tiny head, like this:)
Below are the proportions that worked out on my first try. I took it out and redid it a few times - the proportions of head/arms/legs changed with each try!
Once you like it, you could leave him without any facial features, for a kind of Amish look. Or sew on two buttons for eyes. Embellish more!  Go wild! I used the label as a mouth, but a label could also serve as a monobrow, or maybe even hair!
Something else I could have done was to sew up the sides of the head leaving a small gap, and stuff it. That would round off the head.

On the red tie, I left the label in its original position, on the leg.

I love old necktie labels - the vintage typeface, the graphics. Is this store still in San Francisco? I googled it, but could only find Jethro Tull, whose members would never have worn this tie.
I had so much fun with doll #1` that I pulled out two even WORSE neckties from my stash, and made this: 
The top of the label says "A Wemlon Fabric." Here's a more readable view:
Have you ever heard of Wemlon? Me neither, so I googled it. Turns out to be a euphemism for polyester. Many vintage Wembley ties can be purchased online. On bottom, there's what appears to be garment selection advice: "For brown, olive, or blacks." At least I hope it's garment advice, and not complexion-based advice.

I hung  from a fence pole, with a string through his head. Gravity gave him kitty ears.
I like the tie ends flapping in the breeze! Perfect for Halloween! Have fun with this idea! If you don't have enough ugly neckties - take heart - plenty of vintage Wemlon ties are sold online. 

P.S. From my archives, more ultra-fast low-to-no-sew fabric Halloween decor - wrapped fabric pumpkins - are here.
(Why, you may ask, do I have so many hideous neckties in my stash? They're leftover from my comprehensive history-of-neckties quilt!)