Craft projects for freaks and geeks: witchbabies and neopagans

Whether you’re wiccan, pagan or Asatru, there’s a lot of gorgeous crafting you can do to celebrate it. Obviously, if you’re a practicing witchbaby, you may save your crafting for altars. But it seems a shame to limit it.

For the knitters, there’s this magickal throw by Erssie Major– you could even mix and match the symbols for a different effect. What about a Warholised Norse Knot pattern, for example?

I’m also rather in love with her Maiden’s Glory knitted flower crown. Perfect for dancing by the light of the moon or for that medival damsel character you got cast as in a LARP. Accessorise with a felted pentacle bag

Or how about the Green Woman tunic, for a project to get your teeth into?

Hardanger embroidery is a Norse tradition, and there are a myriad of tutorials out there on how to do it- it’s more challenging than straight embroidery, but the results are just beautiful.

Or if you want something a bit more straightforward (and I wouldn’t blame you- it’s good to mix it up!) Urban Threads (oh, you know how I love me some Urban Threads) have a bunch of gorgeous design packs celebrating Pagan beliefs and culture. There’s the five elements, the zodiac, (imagine these on a circle skirt!) or maybe you’re super into the changing seasons and would love to display the Wheel of the Year in your house.

If you want to craft an altar, there are, again, a bunch of sources of ideas for this. I personally love portable altars like this altoid tin travelling altar and of course Veronica Varlow’s altar in a train case (because who doesn’t want a glamorous retro train case?).

One final super-awesome idea which seems to me to fit well here- making beads from flower petals. Maybe ones you’ve used in a ritual? Or as the site suggests, wedding flowers.

Don’t forget, if you’ve found other awesome craft ideas on this theme, I’d love to hear about them in the comments! Or just tell me what you’re making at the moment.

Craft projects for freaks and geeks, part 1: Steampunks, straight punks, retro queens

Ah, the internet. It’s a magical land of hope and wonder. Full of sweets and joy and joyness…no, wait, that’s candy mountain. Sorry, came over all Charlie the Unicorn for a minute there.

Anyway. If, like me, you like to make things for yourself but you don’t see anything in the average craft magazine or in most of the books at the library that suit you (or you see them and immediately want to deconstruct them or mess with them in some way), then trust me, there will be someone on the internet who makes things you’ll actually love as-is.

I wish I could say confidently “this will be the first instalment in a three part series!” but the truth is if I do that it’ll end up going all Douglas Adams with the trilogy of five. I don’t know how many of these there will be, but I do want to cover as many different groups and interests as I can- let me know in the comments what cultures you’re into, or what hobbies/pastimes you have, and I’ll go searching for some craft to match!

The aim of this series of posts, which will go up on Wednesdays, is to highlight some of the crafting awesomeness available to you. Starting with…

Punk

Obviously. For a start, how about knitting yourself some striped corset arm warmers, as designed by the Running Yarn?

I may have linked to this before but I don’t care. Customise a t-shirt into a punk rock masterpiece, no sewing required, by following Veronica Varlow’s instructions. Hells yes.

Have you ever heard of or seen the traditional embroideries featuring Sunbonnet Sue? Did they make you feel just a little queasy? Olde-worlde, but not in a fun way. Urban Threads have the antidote- meet Sinbonnet Sue! She comes in many flavours, but I like the original one the best.

By the way, I googled Sunbonnet Sue for an example. The link above is what I got. My first response was “holy hell, I don’t think the website has changed since it was launched”. But then I looked closer and I found this series of quilts featuring Sunbonnet Sue all about domestic violence. Now THAT is awesome. Also, can we talk about the fact that someone came up with Bad Bonnet Sue? Better believe I’ll be looking into Sunbonnet, Sinbonnet and Bad Bonnet Sues.

I’m digressing.

Steampunk

I love me some steampunk. It’s a little OTT, a lot fabulous, with a sharp edge (OK I may have been watching too much Project Runway.) It’s also hella expensive, a lot of the time. Making things yourself is a much better option, and to do it, look no further than Victorian clothing. With a little thought in how you go about it, you can easily mod these to be steampunk.

Truly Victorian is a fantastic option for steampunk sewing. I know because I’ve made several steampunk outfits using patterns from their site. Their revised bustle petticoat (designed so you can sit and stand without problems) is a fantastic base for so many looks- I’ve made it with a shorter front panel for a more female-airship-captain type of look. I’ve also got one made as-is. It involves a LOT of frill (I bought frill trim for it and it made life a lot easier, although expensive). They also sell a pre-made set of wires for the bustle on the site. This 1870 skirt pattern is a great one I’ve used over and over again. Be warned, though, Victorian/Steampunk clothes use a LOT of fabric. There are 5 metres in the skirts, and that’s the simpler skirts. One solution I’ve found that works really well is to buy saris on the cheap (check your local charity shops), or bedlinen. It’s worth it for the flounce!

You could also embellish them (or your everyday clothes) with even more steampunk flair with Urban Threads’ collection of steampunk embroidery patterns. Yes, I love Urban Threads. #sorrynotsorry. I’m a lot enamoured of the Apothescary collection, but that’s just me.

For knitters, I have a bit of a thing for The Jane Victoria’s glorious knitting patterns. Like the sewing, they take a lot of materials. You can use a sweater’s worth of yarn just in one of their hoods. But it’s worth it. Continuing the female-airship-captain thing, how about this Aviator tam? And then there’s this hooded mozzetta (no, I don’t know what a mozzetta is), can you even?

Retro queen

There are so many retro patterns out there. SO MANY. And especially with knitting patterns, a lot of them are free. Be warned, many will only come in one size, but if you’re willing to do the maths and resize them, the rewards are great. For example, I found out that this Bridge Jumper exists and now I need to make it to play Surrealist Poker in (AND crapscrabble). Or for something a bit more quick and dirty (because sometimes that’s just what you want), how about this turban? Or indeed this one?

Butterick, Simplicity and Vogue all have retro pattern lines, but edited to fit modern body shapes- one issue with some vintage patterns is that womens bodies have changed, along with our undergarments, and it can be hard to fit some vintage patterns on a modern woman. But you can also find some gorgeous retro patterns from smaller indie designers, and I love supporting small craft businesses doing their thing and doing it well. Wearing History patterns have some lovely designs- I lust after the Dahlia blouse and the Sunkissed Sweetheart set. Mrs Depew Vintage is also worth a look.

Don’t forget to let me know in the comments what subcultures you’d like to see crafting for!

Work in progress- 666: the (floss) number of the beast

Lets start with a big pile of squishies!

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I now have three different people who all want to roll around in the completed pile of squishies before I sew them all together.

No, they won’t be naked. I hope.

Yes, I’ll probably do it too. And yes, I’ll probably take photos, because how many times in your life do you get an opportunity like that?

Anyway, the pile of squishies is getting bigger, which means the pillowcase they usually live in is getting fuller.

This week, though, has mostly been about embroidery. There are a couple of projects in my 15 in 2015 that have Actual Deadlines, and both of them require significant amounts of hand embroidery. I’ve decided to go with redwork for the project I’m currently working on, as mixing colours seems like a big risk when making something for someone who is notoriously picky about colours.

This means I’ve been buying and using a lot of bright red embroidery floss- I’m not sure how I feel about using so much of a colour whose DMC number is 666. I can think of only three reasons they would have chosen that number.

A) They just weren’t thinking.

B) It’s bright red, which means devilish, which makes 666 the PERFECT number. (This is what it would be if I worked for DMC. This is why I don’t work at places like DMC.)

C) They just didn’t want conservative Christians using their red embroidery floss.

Anyway, thanks to plenty of time at Kapcon for stitching (including during games- I almost always craft during tabletop games), I now have four of the nine embroidered panels finished and ready for turning into quilt blocks:

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The one at the bottom is the Love Birds pattern by Polka and Bloom. The one at the top is the free Owl and Pussycat embroidery from Follow the White Bunny. The other two are free paisley redwork heart patterns I found via Pinterest. Right now I’m working on another heart, this time though I made a transfer of just the heart outline from the other ones, and I’m filling it with a random assortment of different stitches for my own amusement.

Because really, if it’s not fun, why do it?

I now have the transferring patterns to fabric thing a bit more down than I did- sock knitting needles, especially ones made of metal or with metal tips, turn out to be the perfect tool for tracing if you’re using carbon paper. Another advantage of being polycraftual.

What about you? What are you working on at the moment? Let me know in the comments.

Doll-making is weird

The Wild Olive embroidery-and-English-paper-piecing project wasn’t the only crafting I did in the Christmas break. When Spoonflower had free shipping (always dangerous) I got a plushie kit from Heidi Kenney- the Tattooed Sailor and Tattooed Lady.

I thought to myself, hey, I’ll make a couple of super-cool dollies. I can maybe give them to a couple of the little girls I know. What’s not to like? Since I can never, ever, leave a pattern alone (seriously, this will become increasingly obvious as I share more of them), I decided to do the tattoo embroidery on each doll in colours, rather than just blue. I even added some extra tattooing to the sailor’s chest because it didn’t look tattooed enough.

I was feeling very pleased with the results when I sat down to start sewing it all together.

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Ah, confidence.

First, I cut out the arms and legs for the Tattooed Sailor, folded them over and sewed them up, as per the instructions. Which then told me to ‘stuff them loosely with polyfil’. The problem is, the actual gap into which I was supposed to stuff the polyfil was smaller than my pinkie finger. A pencil and a missed bus later, I had the limbs stuffed, but not loosely.

I looked at the limbs. I looked at the doll. All I could think of was Rex the dinosaur in Toy Story 2- “look at my little arms! I can’t push the fire button and jump at the same time!”

It was around this point that, for no apparent reason, the Popeye the Sailor theme music started playing in my head. I guess that would help with the insanity plea.

But the limbs were nothing compared to the shenanigans that were to come. Pin the arms and legs in place, essentially as a sandwich filling, with the body of the doll right-sides in. Cue fun with folding the arms and legs so they would actually fit inside the bit they needed to be in so I wouldn’t sew them wrong, and then more fun with pinning than I had expected when my sewing machine decided to de-thread itself unexpectedly.

And then we came to this seemingly innocuous instruction: sew around the edges leaving a hole between the legs for turning through.

A hole.

Between the legs.

It was bad enough doing the tattoed sailor, who has blonde hair. I’m kind of dreading the tattooed lady, who is a brunette. Because I work on these dolls in the morning, before breakfast, and I have the feeling I won’t want any the day I have to repeat this process with something brown coming through that hole.

It was also fiddly as- the hole in question was smaller than expected (this could get very rude very quick, I am trying to avoid that. This is a family show, people. Well apart from the fabrics that look like vaginas… OK, maybe it’s not a family show, but still.) and getting the arms and legs through and then the head…yeah. Fiddly.

Popeye the Bizarre Sailor Man still needs stuffing and the hole needs to be sewn shut. Ahem.

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All I can say is he’s looking pretty smug for someone who just LITERALLY had his head pulled out of his ass.

Finished It Friday- What I did in my summer holiday, part 1

I thought it was high time I start showing you guys things that I’ve actually finished, especially with 15 in 2015, and I thought I’d start as pretty much every school English class ever has started, with a little bit about what I did over my summer break. In this case because one of the things I did was start AND finish the Wild Olive Summer Stitching Club wall hanging.

My completed embroidered and quilted wall hanging

it could also be used as a table runner or a placemat, but I like it as a wall hanging better.

I used all stash quilting fabric- and I don’t know whether this is a good thing (because I used some up) or a bad thing (because, well, it didn’t even DENT the stash).

I loved doing the embroideries. Each one was reasonably quick and simple to do, and I’m really pleased with how they turned out. It also allowed me to master french knots. I mastered them once before but that was ages ago and I had totally forgotten how I was supposed to do them. But see all the little eyes on the smiley faces? French knots.

 

Of course, my inability to leave any pattern alone came into play, and that’s why it’s ended up with four rows of embroidered hexagons instead of three. The happy little pohutukawa (New Zealand Christmas Tree), bottle of sunscreen (a must over here), the raincloud (also an inevitable part of the New Zealand summer), and the carved initials in the tree (yes, those are the Best Beloveds and my initials, and yes, I am a giant sap) are my additions.

The quilt construction is English Paper Piecing, which I had never tried before, but luckily the instructions in the pattern were very clear and easy to follow. If you happen to have a printer (I didn’t, and had to trace a bunch of hexagons on scrap paper to finish this), Mollie Johansen, the designer, has even produced a downloadable PDF of paper-piecing hexagons with little happy faces! Well hey, if you’re going to be doing THAT much hand-stitching, you might as well have fun with it, right? I found it very satisfying to make so much of this by hand, also I got to be a little fussy and make teeny little stitches to join the hexagons together.

I also enjoy needlefelting. I’m weird, OK?

If I made this project again (and this is a lesson I’ll be taking into the other quilt projects this year), I would’ve got some damn embroidery transfer paper, rather than using my usual technique of stitching the printed pattern straight to the fabric and then fiddling around for half an hour pulling little TINY BITS OF PAPER out of the stitches. It’s a good technique for embroidering on fabric where the pattern won’t show up as a transfer, but wasn’t ideal for embroideries this small and detailed.

The only bit of machine stitching I did on this was to attach the binding to the front of the quilt so I could handsew it in place onto the back (another thing I find oddly satisfying). Yes, I know it turned out a little wonky, but that just shows it was made by a person, not a machine. Except for that bit of machine stitching. That was made by a machine. But I digress.

I’m really happy with it, and looking forward to hanging it up so it can remind me of nice weather when it gets cold.

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Except the raincloud. But look how HAPPY the raincloud is! Of the patterns I came up with myself, that’s the one I’m most pleased with.

I’m also kind of glad I did that one direct on the fabric and not on paper, because getting the bits of paper out from under the raindrops would have been a TOTAL PAIN.

In conclusion- I had a lot of fun making this, I love the finished result, and I recommend you give Mollie Johansen’s blog and the Wild Olive Etsy shop a look if you’re after some stitching fun.

Monsterful Monday: Pick myself up, dust myself off

So I didn’t get the funding to go to Webstock. But I learned some useful things. At least I think I did. And maybe, just maybe, if I apply those lessons next time I try something like this I might have more luck. Anyway, I’m grateful for those friends who did back me, and for the learning experience.

I’ve been getting the cross-stitch on, and I might even finish all the Christmas projects I had planned this year- first time ever. I’ve also been getting a strong urge to embroider- expect photos and tutorials in that line in the new year. I grabbed the latest Mollie Makes to arrive in New Zealand at the weekend, and found lots of inspiration, which always makes me feel motivated and energised- definitely something to be thankful for. Sewn/cross-stitched/embroidered graffiti? Ohhhhhh, yes please. Little crocheted frames? Two thumbs up! We’re two issues behind out here though, so their confident assertion on the front cover of ‘QUILT IN TIME FOR CHRISTMAS!’… well, maybe if I didn’t have a job and could sit in a fancy cafe stitching all day.

I also have an exciting tutorial coming for y’all as soon as I’ve taken some photos to go with it. Because the other urge I’ve had along with embroidery is zines and scrapbooking. That came out of another really useful bloggers’ Meetup– I’m so grateful to have access to friendly, supportive and inspiring folks!

The little things:

Snuggling the Best Beloved (always), cookie time, finding new fun ways to style my hair (maiden braids with a headscarf– super simple and gets lots of compliments), freshly made bed, counting down to Christmas, bunting inspiration (another tutorial coming), festive lights, alarming Santas (they make for fun photographs), warm weather (finally), talking to Anna, ice cream, the Slash card game, ideas.

How about you? What’s on your gratitude list this week? Let me know in the comments.