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FO and MOS 11 – 13/52: a necklace, cushions, and tees

28 Oct

As I’ve said, not all of my 52 moments of satisfaction have to be big things. Sometimes the small things are important to do.

So here is a round-up of three projects I’ve done so far this year.

Grace’s necklace

When I wore my flame dress to the 2012 Feet with Heat ball, I didn’t really have any suitable jewellery. My dear friend Miss Busty La Belle kindly lent me a necklace, earrings, and flowers for my hair. But when I took the necklace off I noticed it was broken in one place. So I held onto the necklace, dismantled it, and remade it for her as a tiny token of thanks. Easy and satisfying. And of course, now I need to make something similar for me to wear as it worked so well with my outfits!

The chunky red necklace I remade for Miss Busty La Belle. It's red semi-precious stone of some variety and tiger tail.

The chunky red necklace I remade for Miss Busty La Belle. It’s red semi-precious stone of some variety and tiger tail.

Velvet cord cushions

Another dear friend wanted to learn to sew, and I offered to show her the basics. So in 2012, when she had new curtains made, she decided to make matching cushions out of the leftovers. She brought over the cushions and the offcuts and we set about making the cushions. We decided we wanted an offset back zip, and drafted all the pieces while I told her the basics as we went. But starting to sew is a slow business. We cut out all four cushions but made only one of them. She was thrilled to take that home but the rest stayed at my place.

The same day she told me she was pregnant! (I’ve since given her knitted booties). Since then we were both so busy that catch-ups were infrequent, with certainly no sit-down-and-sew time.

Much later I came across the cushion inners and cut out fabric while tidying up and thought to myself. “She’s only weeks away from birth. She’s up to her ears in renovations. Eight of her relatives are coming over from the UK in a couple of weeks and they’re all staying in her house. And then she’ll have her baby. Yeah – she won’t be sewing any time soon.”  So I decided to finish the remaining three cushions for her as a present.

The fabric is a rusty pumpkin velvet-like cord and a pain in the ass to deal with, as most fabrics with a pile are, shifting all over the place regardless of pins. I wasn’t going to hand baste cushions for crying out loud so I ended up using double sided fusible hem tape to “baste” the seams in place, and stitched just inside the tape. Even with the stuffing around with the hem tape the covers came together in only a couple of sewing sessions, and their new owner is delighted to have cushions in their freshly renovated lounge. I’m thrilled to have helped her out, thrilled not to be storing the project any longer, and delighted that my three centred zips came out great!

One velvet cord cushion! I'm never sewing with this stuff again.

One velvet cord cushion with perfect zip! But I’m never sewing with this stuff again.

The velvet cushions scattered on my friend's sofa, matching cushions behind. I really have to work on my photography skills.

The velvet cushions scattered on my friend’s sofa, matching cushions behind. I really have to work on my photography skills.

Heat set vinyl tees

Last year a friend told me he really wanted a “Han Shot First” tee and as I was looking for ideas for a birthday present for him, I mentally pinned that. But after some googling I didn’t really find anything that hit the right balance of coolness and price. So, of course, I decided to make him one. I asked around some friends for recommendations of getting shirts printed and found a friend of a friend with a vinyl cutter who offered to cut some heat set vinyl for me.

Thrilled by this, I extend my plan to include a tee shirt with an in-joke for another friend of mine, and a teeshirt for my Mechanic Man partner branded with his business logo.

I asked another friend, a graphic designer, to put together the digital files needed to talk to the vinyl cutter and emailed them off.

Then one lovely night I went around to vinyl-cutter friend’s house and watched as she set her machine a whirling. Then we companionable sat and talked while she showed me how to prep the vinyl and helped me iron the vinyl onto some RTW teeshirts – which requires a surprising amount of muscle.

And ta-dah! Three custom designed and printed tees. Now I know in some ways I didn’t actually make anything – one friend made the digital files, another operated the vinyl cutter, and the tees were ready made, but I’m claiming this as a project because I’d been thinking about it for ages, it was all my idea and my coordination, and because it’s my blog and my head and my life and what exactly are you going to do about it?

Well, he did.

Well, he did.

It's an in-joke. I guess you had to be there.

It’s an in-joke. I guess you had to be there.

The back of my Mechanic Man's tee, with the friend who cut the vinyl and helped me apply it looking triumphant

The back of my Mechanic Man’s tee, with the friend who cut the vinyl and helped me apply it looking triumphant

Mechanic Man was so delighted with his tee that it took another three months before it was off him long enough for me to iron on our logo to the front.

The front of our tee. The little white squiggle in the corner is the logo of the friend who helped with the vinyl cutting, as an acknowledgement.

The front of our tee. The little white squiggle in the corner is the logo of the friend who helped with the vinyl cutting, as an acknowledgement. Another lousy photo, WTF am I doing?

They may only be little things, but they made me happy to do, and that is what it’s all about, right?

MOS 8-9/52: baking bonanza and Mama’s jewellery

1 Sep

While mum was down, it wasn’t all selling cushions at vintage fairs or slaving over burlesque costumes – just most of it! As well as altering a couple of skirts, we got to do a couple of other things too. On the Saturday, having finished my costume, we decided to bake up a storm. I love baking but never do it as often as I’d like and had really wanted this year of creative energy to involve new recipes and teach myself some presentation tricks. I still hadn’t done much so it was really nice to be in the kitchen with Mum, chatting away as we mixed and made.

I made two batches of my standard Edmonds banana cake, but cooked one batch in patty cases, and Mum and I worked together on making mini lemon meringue pies, which didn’t even last long enough to be photographed (Mechanic Man LOVES lemon merinque pie).

Actually, he’s a baking fiend in general, and most of the time when I bake he loiters in the kitchen, desperate to eat before things are even cool. I never get time to ice let alone decorate anything. I really want to put more effort into decorating my baking, just for the fun of it, so this time I told him off until he left me and the cakes alone.

The lack of decorating practice means I’m not that good at it, but I know from past experience that I’m not terrible wielding a piping bag. Unfortunately I discovered that the buttercream recipe I use is super tasty but not piping friendly, it is far too thick. So my plans for prettily piped cupcakes were abandoned and instead I smeared thick icing on everything and gave it this somewhat lacklustre set of embellishments (sugar pearls and banana chips). They may not be works of art, or even close to what I had envisioned, but after so long producing these goodies was nonetheless a personal triumph and so definitely a moment of satisfaction!

My banana cake and mini-cakes - not as pretty as I'd hoped but tasty! Also, it took me an hour to find this photo as I'd mislabelled it. I hope you appreciate it.

My banana cake and mini-cakes – not as pretty as I’d hoped but tasty! Also, it took me an hour to find this photo as I’d mislabelled it. I hope you appreciate it.

Another creative enterprise I undertook  was to alter some jewellery for Mum. I make jewellery from time to time, but almost all of the jewellery I’ve made I’ve given to Mum. A couple of years ago her car was broken into on her way home from a visit with me and her suitcase was stolen. She lost three garments she’d only just finished knitting – two she’d only worn once or twice and the third she hadn’t even sewn up the seams on; all the fabric and yarn and other treats she’d bought while staying with me; a vintage rag doll pattern that was the same as one she’d had as a child that she’d brought down to show me because she was so excited to find it; and every single piece of her jewellery, most of which I’d made. It was heartbreaking.

Even if we had photos of all of the pieces I’d made her (and we had none), or I could remember what they all looked like (and I can’t really); a lot of it was made from vintage supplies that I couldn’t replace. We both cried over the losses (especially as no doubt most of the stuff she cared about most was thrown out) but next time she came to stay we started the slow process of making all new pieces. But a couple of them, and a couple of store bought pieces, weren’t working out for her, so last year she brought them down to be tweaked, since when they’ve sat in the to-do pile.

The pile of jewellery waiting attention

The pile of jewellery waiting attention

So I added some bits of chain between the beads of the blue necklace to make it less visually dense, rearranged the grey necklace to hide a discoloured bead at the top where it will be mostly behind her neck, fixed the connection on the snake on her black necklace to prevent it falling off all the time (all three of these were made by me originally), and cut chains to the right lengths and added pretty clasps for her three store-bought dichroic glass pendants and her mermaid pendant.

Not overly creative, but a supremely satisfying moment  as I love Mum wearing jewellery, especially ones I’ve made, and I’ve had these sitting in my box awaiting repairs since last September! It got me all fired up to get out more of my jewellery supplies and make some pieces for me, so by the end of the year I want to have made myself a nice selection of new necklaces and earrings. So it was satisfying and inspiring!

All the pretty jewellery all in a row.

All the pretty jewellery all in a row.

I wish I could have done more while I was on holiday, but I had a wonderful time, and Mum and my grandmother are down in a few weeks to visit, so there’ll be more crafting adventures then!