Tuesday, 29 January 2013

The problem, if there is one, of having a late period persona is that I can't get away without knowing some of the finer embellishment techniques. To that end, this week I've begun teaching myself the art of bobbin lacemaking.

To be honest, this is not the first attempt I've made. The first time I tried it, a couple of months ago, I just couldn't get the technique to click. I'm starting again with instructions from a new website, with a different way of explaining the steps. That's not to say there was anything wrong with the first site I was working from, but sometimes you need a set of instructions to click with you before you can understand them, so it was very worth my while in this case to look around.

This time around, even though I made plenty of mistakes at the start of the project, I found my hands making the correct movements towards the end of the first project piece, which pleased me no end. The hope is that I'll now be able to graduate up to something suitable for my camica trim and finally finish that piece of my garb before the end of this year!

Monday, 21 January 2013

I am a crafter. I am also a hoarder.This would be fine if I was organised and had everything in its place. But I don't. Boy, I don't. One of my worst habits is keeping small pieces of fabric that realistically can't be used for anything, but I hold on to them, "just in case". Well this year, this will end! I hope...

The first step is to pick a project that can use up your scraps. I took my inspiration from this tutorial from the Fading Charms Quilt. So messy pile of scraps? Or organised project in process?

First, I ironed my fabric scraps. I decided to use a 2-1/2" template for my squares so I could get a nice bit of pattern into them. The templace I made from a cereal box (the only reason to buy cereal really, is for the template material), and I had a pinking shears to cut the fabric as I wanted to prevent the edges of the squares fraying. Who only knows how long it'll be before I decided I have enough colour variation to start sewing. 

Use the template to centre the pattern if you like, and cut out the pieces with the pinking shears, making sure to give a seam allowance outside the template. 

And voila! Instead of an untidy pile, I have pre-cut squares all neatly stacked in a box, which can be put away neatly. The left over pieces from this cutting I can now be sure will not be useful and can be binned without further thought. Sure, it's a long stash-busting step, but it's a step in the right direction.

Thursday, 17 January 2013

I have attempted brewing!

At a just passed one day event, a friend brought along a traditional Finnish drink she'd made called Sima. She'd followed the traditional recipe, which is lemon based, and though I'm not massively fond of lemons, I found the Sima delightful. I had quite a few oranges to hand, and given that Nessa was kind enough to share the recipe, I decided I'd give it a try.

I can already think of variations I'd like to try with this, but for the first try I followed the recipe exactly (apart from using oranges instead of lemons that is). It's quite a simple recipe, giving a refreshing, lightly bubbling drink that is only slightly alcoholic, maybe 1%. I left my solution in the pot for a full 48 hours then poured the filtered solution into clean bottles.

24 hours later and just one of the bottles so far has presented all of it's raisins at the surface, so it was all the excuse I needed to pop it open and try it. It's not bad. It lacks something that the lemon version had, and I'm not sure if that's the fruit or my inexperience. But it's still very drinkable.

And the most important part was this has completed my first foray into yeast use. The next time won't be half so scary.

And on a minor update with the marbles, the shellac solution is complete.

On the left is the solution just after mixing and on the right is 24 hours later. Though I left it the full time needed, an hour in most of the shellac had dissolved, and two hours later even the more stubborn pieces were giving in. I'm using a brush to apply this solution at the moment, hoping to build up several layers before applying a pigment layer.

Sunday, 13 January 2013

My shire held it's first event of the year yesterday, and in classic fashion, I was up until 1am the night before trying to finish off my garb. As in happens, it wasn't finished, but it was wearable, so I got away with it for the day.

The handy thing about the unfinished items is that they were mostly invisible. But in the interest of disclosure, here's what has to be done: 
  • Straps: These need to be shortened. I was pulling them up constantly during the day, and it was doing my head in. I may need to make them tighter than a "just right" fit, as clothing tends to slide off my shoulders constantly anyway. 
  • Hem: The hem of the dress was cut to the correct length and I tried not to point out it's unfinishedness to too many people. Funnily though, the centre crease line from the wool (it also didn't get ironed) made a nice feature. 
  • Skirt split: Hidden by the pleating of the skirt is a short split so I can fit into the dress. I cut this with a pinking shears to save it, but it'll need to be finished off properly. The linen lining won't be so forgiving. 
  • Lacing: On an aesthetic point on view, I had to use a ribbon on the day, but I'd much prefer a hand made cord. I have a cord on the lucet at the moment, but I'm far from having it long enough yet. 
The fixings aside, this is a very warm and comfy dress. I look forward to wearing it again.

Marbles update! A week has passed and I think the marbles are finally fully dried. I transferred them to a larger sheet and over the course of the week rolled them about a few times to be sure any wet sides were turned up to the air. Not it's time for the next step.

To make a shellac polish,  it's as simple as dissolving shellac flakes in alcohol.

My ingredient for this are shown to the right. A clean jar with a good seal in the lid, shellac flakes (I used blond shellac as it's what I had available) and methylated spirits.

The solution needs to be made up in a 1:4 ratio of shellac to spirits, so I used 10g of shellac and 40g of spirits. Seal the jar well, shake occasionally, and leave to dissolve. This should take about 24 hours. The resulting solution can be thinned out a little with more alcohol if necessary.

Sunday, 6 January 2013

And now for something completely different:

The image above is of marbles in their excavated condition from the 15th/16th century. Marbles appear to have existed for as long as people were able to find smooth, rounded stone. Slightly more sophisticated version came about with the development of clay marbles and even rarer, but more highly prized, carved agate marbles.

The picture below is my attempt at marble production; round balls of clay weighing approximately 15g each.  The plan for these is to leave them dry for at least a week, then to colour then using pigments dissolved in shellac; chalk for white, charcoal for black, and the third colour I have decided on yet. Perhaps umber for a yellow or a ground up dried berry type to give a red. I'll be avoiding blue and purple as they weren't easily producable colours in period.

In the mean time, I've started working on some pennant banners. My pounding head is telling me I'll get no more done than cutting the fabric this evening, but at least it's a large chunk of the work started. Given that I making these as a "quick and dirty" version, I've cut the banners with a pinking shears which saves me from a) having to hem the fabric and b) effectively doubles my fabric as I won't have to double up the pieces either.