How to turn the proverbial “lemon” into Limoncello….

We have all had those time pop up in our lives.  Times where no matter how hard you try to move forward, things just keep popping up that create a backwards slide.  It’s at these times, we generally have two choices.  We can choose to wallow in our misfortune; to bemoan the fact that our car died, that our hours at work were cut, AND and unexpected trip to the doctor all popped up at the same time.  Or we can pull up our big girl panties and realize that our car will now get better gas millage, we get more time to enjoy with our children, and our family is now healthy and happy. Yes, at these times it may seem over whelming but each and every day it gets a little easier until we look back and say “what was I truly stressing about?”

Each time this happens in my life, I admit I succumb to those dark moments of grief and regret but I also realize these moments are getting shorter and less dramatic.  Age has it’s perks.

So one of the perks of learning from the past is planning the future.  I have decided to follow a dream.   Each day I take one step closer, sometimes it’s baby steps other times I feel like a Kangaroo.  At this moment and time I feel like a hibernating Zombie toad, waiting for the warm rains to stimulate some movement.   There have been alot of recent obstacles popping up that need to be overcome.  The latest in my line of “what now’s?’ is this:

Compounding patchwork... computers should not be quils.

Compounding patchwork… computers should not be quilts.

My primary work station, the one I am delicately writing this little dialogue on, has lost it’s ability to open-close-even stay upright.  It’s one of those wonderful malfunctions that can not be fixed…  The screen of my laptop completely snapped off and is no longer attached to the base… it’s a 5 year old computer and is still running like a champ.   Luckily my absolutely wonderful husband rigged up this snazzy “cast” for my computer.  A wooden base to prop the screen up, complete with a little bit of Sugru and a rubber-band to keep the screen from falling forward quickly (my poor fingers sometimes get caught).

Now my husband is a master at building computers, but pre-fab laptops were not meant to be “fixed”.  He has put together a list of the parts he needs in order to build me a fully functioning desk top, that will not only allow me to expand my photography hobby- but will also allow me to have the ability to set up my own web store front!  I AM SO EXCITED!  I have been designing my web store front in my head for years, and I finally get the chance to do it.

Here’s the hitch(es):  Hours were cut back at my full time job AND we are in the slow season for etsy sales.   Among other things…

Here’s the solution:  I have yards and yards and yards of awesome, amazing, unique, colorful, and completely-ready-to-be-made-into-custom-awesomeness fabric and supplies.  AND at the beginning of august I have 1 full week off of my full time job.  You ask, so what does this mean?  If you would like to help me make my goal of getting a new computer built for my business, by my wonderful husband of course, and stock up your swag bags for the upcoming holiday seasons at the same time, this is for you:

  1. first: contact me to discuss what you would like to have made, it can be an existing design or a custom one.
  2. select fabrics from existing stock
  3. expect your item to ship by 8/11/13
  4. RECEIVE 35% off the price.

* as an extra perk if you order an outfit including a piece made from our wonderful ruffle fabric, receive an extra 10% off that ruffle item.

All items will ship first class, unless priority shipping is cheaper.

This discount is not available for orders through etsy, unless you would like to use a credit card (prearranged custom listings only).  All orders will be done via email,  payment with a paypal invoice.  Our email is ursulaglassgoddess@gmail.com.

Please contact me today to get your order started!  And thank you for helping us reach one of our goals!!!

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How did you do that?

I love to share knowledge, give out little hints and tips to those who ask.  Recently I have had multiple emails asking how do I make all my up cycled items look amazingly new?

Up cycled clothing, items, and toys are a joy to make and a perfect addition to any household.  Contrary to popular belief, they do not need to look used, worn out, have holes, or stains to be up cycled     The point of up cycling is to give used items new life, not just reuse them.

First step:  Find some thing YOU LIKE, that draws your eye.  If you don’t like it why would anyone else?

Second step:  clean it, wash it, dry it, repair it (is there bead work that’s loose? fix it)

Third step: when possible cut along side the seams to get flat pieces of fabric.  If you cut along the seams this gives the edges of the fabric a smooth, unpuckered edge.  All industrial sewing machines cause visible needle holes in the fabric… not attractive.

If you are reconstructing an item using most of the original seams, such as jeans into a jean skirt, this is a good time to use a seam ripper instead of cutting the fabric. Just sew along the original seam holes when possible.

When reusing lace, avoid ripping the seam.  Just cut the fabric that it is attached to as close to the lace as possible.  If it is a large piece of lace (an adult bodice for example), try to use it as a full flat piece work with the existing seams instead of reinventing the wheel.

Fourth step: IRON YOUR FABRIC.  This step does two things for you; first it gives you a smooth field to work with and secondly it tells you if the former owner smoked.  No matter how many times you wash it, if you add heat to the fabric the smell of cigarette smoke will always be present.  If you are marketing your item as *smoke free*, this is a very important step.

Fifth step: when ever possible work your pattern pieces to exclude holes or worn spots in the fabric…. just turn those parts into rags.

Sixth and the most important, least known step:  Starch. Simple. As. That.

Either before or after you construct an item using your up cycled fabric, starch it.  (1 part clothing starch to approximately 5 parts water)  No biggie.  Use a fine spray and iron dry.  This helps the fabric hold it’s smoothness through shipping and wearing.

Now If you don’t want to use starch (allergies, or for newborns), use vinegar water when ironing.  The vinegar smell goes away as soon as the water has evaporated while ironing.

Viola, that’s how I do it.   The picture below is of the latest set of adult wings I have constructed, on the right hand side over-lapping the rows is the description of what each layer is.  Do they look up cycled to you? Or just plain beautiful?

partsofawing

Parts of a wing

Upcyled, recycled, brand spankin' new wings.

Bringing Handmade back into chic!

Ba hum bug.  It was August 30 when I saw the first Christmas decorations being stocked in the stores!  Labor day bar-b-ques had not even been lit, let alone their labors been digested.  The consumerism in the winter holiday season has just become ridiculous and unfortunately taking the magic out of the season.  I LOVE fall.  I LOVE harvest, pumpkins, apple cider, chilly evenings, the passing of mosquitoes, frost, costumes, CANDY, and enjoying family.  This is all being drowned out by that which is around us.

I understand there are a couple things that need to be done really early for the winter holiday season.  I mean you can’t take pictures for holiday cards on December 5th and have them sent out in time… hello!  I am not crazy. Also unless you are INSANE you probably can’t quilt an entire blanket in a couple days either.  There are things that take time… but buying ornaments, trees, or tinsel in August? Really?

Okay, so now off my soap box.  I know there are many of you out there who are in agreement.   But as I was walking through a local big-box store today, I was inspired:  my goal for this upcoming holiday season; is Once a week (atleast) I will share an awesome Homemade project that would help make some wonderful and thoughtful gifts.

The economy is slowly starting to turn around (it is really!!! look at the non-syndicated numbers!), ever so slowly, AND you have a choice where your hard earned money goes!  All I ask is that you be conscious of where your money is truly going ~ whether you buy local, support small business, or standard industry.  Just be informed.

The first homemade project that I am passing on, this is truly a fun one and you have plenty of time to make different versions.  How many of you have a loved one with an American Girl Doll?  Here is a FREE tutorial on how to make her some clothes!!!  http://www.libertyjanepatterns.com/2011/04/free-american-girl-doll-dress-pattern.html

Happy projects, and even merrier gifting!

MUAH

Ursula

A continuation of mini-top hats and other fascinators

I love hair accessories, I always have.  Unfortunately up until recently I had always worn my hair short or slightly past short.  It was practical, easy to care for, easy to style, and the biggest factor was my hair just did not grow long.  Though with the shorter styles all I had to do was wash and go, being blessed with slight body and interesting coloring, it was easy-peasy.  During my pregnancy my hair grew, fast and thick, not uncommon for a gestating woman.  But it was incredibly uncommon for my hair to actually grow past my shoulders.  You see, no matter how I tried, no matter how long I waited, my hair would never go past my shoulders… it just stopped at that length.  It has been two years since the birth of my daughter, and I have only trimmed my hair twice.   It has managed to make it just level with my shoulder blades.   I don’t expect much more length, but that is fine. It is the perfect length for adornment!

Mini-top hats have come back with a vengeance, helped in part by the interest in Steampunk.    But, luckily, most people who take part in Steampunk are also incredibly intelligent and love to learn.  So not surprising mini-top hats are just one facet to all the fun hair accessories finding a revival.   A while back I posted a tutorial on how to make fun little mini-top hats, actually that tutorial comprises 70% of the hits on my site.

I love the fact that so many people have seen it, and many have implemented the techniques.  I have written this fun little post to encourage divergence and imagination.  Take what you learn from that fun little tutorial and transform it into something new and exciting!

Facinators can take many forms, from a flat round base decorated with feathers to a fun embroidery headband.  Heck I even have the sweetest crochet octopus with fun googly eyes.  You can even make them into mini-sculptures.  Let your imagination run, and find fun materials to make them with!

Recently I have been having some fun, and I just wanted to share some inspiration with you.  This amazing pillbox hat, has a unique design.  you would think it’s just the mini-top hat shortened with out a brim.  If you made it that way you would end up with a fez.  What makes this design sit perfectly round on top of the head?  It is an oval.  Simple as that, a human’s head is not round. It is misshapen, oblong, oval, and protruding.  The secret to a well fitting hat: expect the unexpected!

Now, onto some less structured inspiration.  Facinators do not have to stick out of the head. They do not need to provide shade or protection.  Their main function is to keep hair in place… either helping the hair to frame the face, or to pull it out of the way.  So to make this most utilitarian of functions more pleasurable we can add a bunch of sparkle and pizzazz.    Here is a fun example of a simple facinator adhered to a metal headband.

Simple, elegant, and incredibly useful!  Again making this fascinator uses the same basic steps as outlined in my tutorial.  There is a buckram base to help with stiffening the glitter fabric (yes. FABRIC not glitter foam from walmart), and giving a great base to build on.  Another example of a flat fascinator, but this time it is attached to a hair comb instead:

This piece has a couple layers to give it’s unique shape. Underneath the glitter fabric, but right above the buckram base is a couple lines of millinery wire. Strong , flexible, and yet incredibly resilient material.  This wire can be gently formed and re-formed without breaking.  It will hold any shape, for as long as it’s allowed.   And it is resistant to corroding.   Granted if you want to frame large top-hats or Bowlers, you will need to invest in some basic crimping tools. But for simple facinators, a sturdy wire cutter is sufficient.

I hope that these pieces can give you some inspiration in your projects!  The age of elegance is sorely needing a comeback.  Bring personality and style back into the world.  Just because everyone else has a certain piece, does not mean you have to have it too, join me in standing out in the crowd!  I’d love to see what everyone is up to.  Please feel free to post links to your projects below, find me on pinterest, or stop by my facebook page and drop a line.   Happy crafting!

You never know what’s next!

I am always trying something new, there are so many wonderful things out there… how could I not want to?  Most of the time I am just curious about how something is done, made, designed, or constructed.  This also means that I usually end up with alot more respect for an item and artist, just because I now know how it’s done and all the time it takes!  This is one of those times.  There is an artist that I absolutely adore, from her house to her travels!  Katwise!  Take a look at her Facebook fan page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Katwise/320233446531

Incredibly AWESOME, huh?  Well if you take a look at her etsy site, you can see her stuff flies off the digital shelves.  Literally gone in 15 minutes, and she only posts sales once a month.  If you are lucky enough to catch the right day and you are quick at the “purchase now” button you MIGHT be able to snag one.  But just a forewarning:  Her large jackets go for $600+, her arm warmers $60+.   But in the end it’s not the price that attracts me, because frankly they are way out of my price range.   It’s the fact that she changes the most gawd-aweful sweaters into such amazing creations.  So last year Katwise decided to start selling her patterns.  In the first day, I had snagged my very own pattern.  Whoop Whoop.

Humboldt Fog

Now all I needed to do was find lots and lots of wool sweaters.  Well guess what? I live in Florida.  Not to many wool sweaters here… So I expanded my search to include 50% wool sweaters, it only took a year but I finally found the requisite amount needed for the jacket I wanted to make.  My mom even helped by donating some of her “moth” eaten ones…  I know there are some places online that sell reclaimed wool sweaters, but I wanted to do it the “long way” first.  If you want to let someone else do the sweater hunting for you, here is a great site: http://resweater.blogspot.com/ .  After all the sweaters were compiled, it was time to felt them down.  My greatest suggestion is to take them to the laundromat, let them deal with the smell… and the fuzz.  I did 2 super hot cycles, 1 cold rinse, and then dried them out thoroughly in the dryers.

Cutting out all the pieces was the easiest part, and kind of fun.  BUT then… came the sewing.  Granted all you are doing is surging the pieces together, but it took alot of muscle work and concentration.  I started at 8 am and finished at midnight.  Just to give you an idea, the finished jacket is between 5-7lbs.

Full Circle Skirt

Full Circle Skirt

I wanted mine to have a fun hemline, so I made it have a “train”.  The back is about 5″ longer than the front,  it has some fun flow and flounce as I am walking.  Make sure to follow the guidelines on the hood… 4′ is perfect.  My first one hit the ground and kept pulling the hood off my head. Also I do suggest you double stitch all areas with alot of pull- the waistlines, hood, and arm holes.  Otherwise the over-lock stitch is sufficient.  Another suggestion, make the body of the jacket out of the most comfortable sweater (not itchy or pokey), and end at the wrists with your softest fabric.  This hits skin directly.

Will I ever make these sweater jackets to sell?  Only on a custom basis, with lots of caveats.   Katwise is the master, and I bow down even farther after this experience.   Ultimately I think I will stick with my fun fleece pixie jackets… maybe even make a couple for us big pixies?

Ursula’s Mini-Pixie

Here is a direct link for some more fun pictures of the Mini-Pixie Cuteness! https://www.etsy.com/listing/91057894/pixie-jacket-polar-fleece-add-a-little

So Congratulations to Amanda Capps!  You guessed correctly in my little Facebook mini-giveaway.  I look forward to dropping off your sweet “little” prize! MUAH♥

A note on finishing…

I love sewing. I have sewn for a long time, and I know lots of people who sew and take pride in their work.  I always love looking at the way things are completed and I am usually the one to fawn all over the finishing details.  I know I love it when that happens to me, so of course I love to share the “kudos” with others.  Today, I was sitting at my sewing machine during an impromptu rondezvous with some industrial seams,  and all I could think was “damn girl, do you think it might be over the top?”.  Of course I just had to laugh.    The finishing seamstress in me was already thinking on how to hand finish the seams down farther, so they looked flush with the quilted fabric.  Basically becoming invisible.  This is where the practical seamstress reared her pretty head.  The item in question is not Couture,  and using such techniques will devalue those items that are.  But man, did it take a lot to walk away.

I think the way an item is constructed tells alot about the designer.  The most talented artist can turn a dog food bag into a gorgeous skirt, a packing box into a corset, or polyester drapes into an evening gown.    The materials do not make the design, they only serve to enhance the product.    I think it is important to look farther than the surface and truly start to appreciate the work that is put into what is made.

I have a friend who makes the most gorgeous clothing, modern pieces and period correct recreations.  She matches fabric patterns along seams, fooling the eye into believing that the material is one continuous length.  All of her internal seams are folded back in on themselves with the raw edges completely encased and flush with the body of the fabric.  All gussets are hand turned so the points are seamless.  I could just go on and on about finished buttons, zippers, hand dyed fabric facing…. ah the beauty of it all.  Each piece is a true art form, a joy to look at on the hanger as well as the body. It’s almost a shame to store them in a closed closet away from view!

So of course I think of her often, and she inspires me on a regular basis!

Now I’d like to share a bit of seamstress knowledge with you.  It is important on all industrial sewn products, be it couch cushions or curtains, that all seams are reinforced.  Some people may think that this entails using heavy duty thread and possibly surging the seams.  This just causes the fabric to rip where the thread is holding the seam together.  You will still have a solid seam but there will be a hole right next to it.  You want to give the individual fibers in the fabric a little extra support against the pull.

You can do this one of two ways, there is the jean method of folding each piece of fabric over each other creating a box and sewing along each side.  Just look at your jeans to see an example.  Quite effective.  Another method, used for more delicate fabrics that fray easily is the french seam.  But not the one you recognize from soft chiffon shirts or skirts, this way is super supportive.

1.  place the wrong sides of your fabric together and surge them

2.  press the surged seam.

Left: surged seam. Right: encased surged seam.

3.  fold the fabric over so right sides are touching and the pressed surged seam is inside the fold.  Press with an iron, to hold the seam in place.

4.  With a regular straight stitch, sew a line 1 mm to the side of the surged edge.

5.  Press the encased seam. Checking to make sure that you did not accidenatally catch any of the surger thread in the seam.

This method traps all the loose threads creating a 4-5 thread internal barrier from being pulled out.  The folding over of the internal seam creates a mechanical retention for the fabric threads.  The second seam secures the mechanical retention while strengthening the original seam.  The chances of this pulling out or tearing the fabric is slim.  It’s perfect for any thin fabric that will suffer lots of abuse, pull, or twist.

Hope I shared some useful information!

Bamboo… flats, prefolds, or inserts. And other Cloth Diaper Ramblings

We are a purely cloth diapered household,  after the merconium quit flowing and we ran out of hospital supplied diapers, our little LJ’s bum was happily swathed in cloth.   Early in our pregnancy, my aunt found out we were planing on using cloth diapers, and she so nicely sent us a bunch of samples of different types from her work.  The first thing I realized was I did not like any of the designs.  They either took way to much time to assemble or they required purchasing dozens in each size.  Our choice to go cloth was mainly financial, so the thought of forking out 4-500$ for diapers seemed to defeat the purpose.  Yes, I know there are lots of other positive reasons to cloth diaper,  they were just perks over the financial savings.

Since I am a somewhat competent seamstress I decided to try and make my own diaper covers to use.  We purchased approximately 5 dozen cotton flat folds, half in a small size which I took the time to sew into prefolds and the other half were larger but I left them flat.    Before LJ was born I would spend hours on the internet searching out ways of folding the flats and prefolds, practicing each and every method.  I even purchased some neat plastic clips that I thought would come in highly useful (instead of safety pins).  In the end, use determines function… I had made 6 PUL lined cotton covers which closed with endustrial strength velcro and were edged with FOE (Fold over elastic).  We then folded the prefolds and later the flat folds into long rectangles and laid them in the covers like maxi-pads.  They never slipped or moved around, and when changing time came.  Whoop! We removed the soiled cotton rectangle, whiped the booty and the PUL with a wet cloth and replaced with a fresh liner.  We could use aprox 4-6 liners before changing the cover.  Face it, we became spoiled. It was so easy using this method, we could do a small load in the washer and a short dry.

When LJ hit approximately 19lbs, and was able to undo the velcro herself, I decided to search out some new designs.  One day in a weak moment, I purchased a diaper cover off of Etsy.  It was my favorite color (orange) and a great price.  Even better, it was a different design than what we had been using, so we could try something new.  This cover was PUL turned inside out on the outside and lined with fleece.  Very soft and cushy.  The only problem was, as soon as the liner got wet or soiled you had to change the whole thing!  We would get  a maximum of 2 liners out of it!   I do not fault the Etsy designer, the sewing job was superb, it was the whole design that we did not like.  I then decided to make the next 6 covers the same way I had before, but changing the velcro to KAM snaps (neat plastic snaps, a breeze to assemble).  The only problem was that the large flats that we used as inserts are getting to small.

I was able to get my hands on some Bamboo fleece.  I had read all kinds of wonderful things about this material, and I must admit I fell in love with it as soon as it arrived at my door.  It was so soft and supple, I just sat there rubbing on it for a while.  So I decided to do an experiment, I made 3 different kinds of liners out of it.  One simple Flat, One Prefold, and One insert with ZORB sandwiched inside.   We have been using them for about a month now and there are some definate pro’s and cons to this material.

First, the bamboo holds ALOT of liquid. It’s amazing the amount it can hold.  The problem is it does not wick well away from the source.   So at the end of the night when we go to change LJ, the side of the liner closest to her is SOAKED, where as the side against the diaper cover is dry.

Second, with the cotton flats and prefolds we were used to doing a small load in the washer and dryer with a relatively short dry time.  We could even hang them up to dry quickly if the mood ever struck us.  The bamboo flats are the same.  The prefolds and the inserts with the ZORB are a different story.  The prefold had to be run twice through the dryer… the one with the ZORB insert, went through a third time and still ended up having to be left out to dry over a couple of days.

Lastly,  the flat folds need to be sized correctly.  They take up alot of space and are less forgiving than cotton.  But as with the cotton inserts, you can always combine sizes to increase absorb-ability.

On another note, bamboo is one of those wonderful fabrics that the more times it gets washed the more absorbent it gets!

So for the foreseeable future, I plan on introducing more bamboo flats into our diaper stash.   For all you cloth diapered families out there, I hope you have found something that truly works for you!  And of course if you are in need of supplies, my Etsy shop has covers for sale.  Bamboo flats, prefolds and ZORB liners are a special request item and will only be made as a custom order, depending on the sizes you need!

www.etsy.com/people/UrsulaGlassGoddess

www.facebook.com/UrsulasHandmadeTreasures

 

Update 10/13/11

Well we have used the bamboo flats for a little over a month now, and have found that every-time we use those inserts Our little LJ ends up with OPEN sore diaper rash… even if we catch the first flow!  We also have found that it does not adhere to any of the solids and they end up squeezing out the side.  So we have pulled our stash out of rotation.  Its beautiful fabric, soft, and very absorbant.  But our little LJ’s bum enjoys cotton.

My suggestion to you?  buy one or two to try for atleast a month before you dedicate your entire diaper budget.  Make sure you are one of the lucky families that can use this wonderful fabric!