Monday, September 30, 2013

From Oops to Outstanding: Creating from Mistakes

I mentioned last week that my next project was going to be creating iPad covers from recycled, wool thrift shop sweaters that I felted, and I said I'd try to share photos and show my work in progress.  Well ... about half way through last week, I was seriously thinking there was no way that was going to happen.  I made a whopper of a mistake.  And I have to confess, it was a really dumb mistake.

Let me show you some photos of how my project began.  See if you can catch where the fatal flaw occurred!

Here is my pile of felted sweaters.  They are a lot smaller than they were before the super hot wash and time in the dryer.

Got my cup of tea and started making my patterns.  I wanted an "envelope" style bag, 1/4 inch seams, and a roughly 8 inch by 10 inch finished space that an iPad could slide into.

I made the patterns in two pieces, and I wanted two types - one that would hold a horizontally placed iPad ...

... and one that would hold the iPad if placed in the cover in a vertical position.
Can you see the problem, yet?  Perhaps it will get clearer.  

I cut off the sleeves and I will save those for another project -- maybe little purses? Glasses cases? Phone cozies? Mittens?  I cut open the side seam.  This allowed me to lay the sweater material out flat.
I laid out my pattern pieces, trying to be cautious about where the fabric pattern fell on each piece. I pinned the pattern pieces to the fabric.

I cut the pieces out.
Here, I am laying out and cutting out a horizontal version of the cover.
See it, yet?  If not, after you look at the next two photos, I guarantee you will get it.  This is where I finally got it.  Unfortunately, it only hit me after cutting out ALL of my pieces from ALL of my felted sweaters.

I laid together the pieces of the first bag I was going to sew, and immediately saw ...

... that I had forgotten to allow a straight section of the envelope flap, to account for folding it over the top of the bag, before creating the triangular shape! Yikes!  It looked terrible and obviously was not functional.
 In a bit of a panic, I tried to think of how I might fix this.  I considered cutting an inch off the front top of the bag, thereby creating the corresponding necessary inch of straight space on the back, fold-over piece to precede the triangular part of the flap.  But I realized that if I did this, the pocket of the cover would be too short, or shallow, to hold the iPad.  I thought about possibly finding some coordinating cotton fabric or single-color felt and splicing in a piece, an inch or two wide, between the triangle flap and the rectangle back.  But I thought that would look cobbled together (which it would have been).  Finally, I decided the best solution was to fundamentally alter the design of the bag.

Snip!  No more envelope flap.  
 Now I had two rectangular pieces.

Right sides together, I machine-sewed a 1/4 inch seam ...

... around the sides and bottom, leaving the top open.
I embroidered a chain stitch around the upper, opening edge using perle cotton.

I then anchored a row of single crochet stitches in the chain, all the way around the top edge of the cover.

I proceeded to add a second row of alternating cluster and chain stitches.

And then finished the border with another round of single crochet.
After completing the border, I crocheted a loop of chain stitches, beginning and ending at the base of the border in the middle back of the cover edge.

I threaded the loop through the space between cluster stitches, in the middle front of the bag border.
Then I pulled the loop through to the front.
To embellish my felted sweater iPad cover, I crocheted some flowers and leaves, using the same yarn that I'd used for the border and loop closure.

I used cluster stitches in the flowers to mirror the stitches in the border pattern.
I made one small flower and one larger flower, as well as leaves, and sewed them to the bag.
Ta Dah! Here are photos of the finished iPad cover:

I was pretty happy with how this turned out.  I basically made it up as I went along.  I think I am going to continue to use this basic design for the other covers -- cut off the envelope flap and have a loop and button closure, or perhaps a little crocheted strap and snap?  I will experiment with different borders and embellishments, and we'll see what happens.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Monday Miscellany: More Felting, Tony's Book News, Upcoming Shows and Projects

Hard to believe that a week ago I had just gotten back from a mini vacation in South Haven.  Last week was so busy, it feels like that getaway happened many months ago.  Thought I'd just do a little catching up -- let you see what's been going on and what's coming up.

The exciting new this week is that my son, Tony's, four children's books are now for sale at all three Art Is In Market stores: Laurel Park Place, Twelve Oaks Mall, and Partridge Creek Mall.

As I've mentioned before, Tony is on the autism spectrum and attends Eastern Michigan University, where he is studying Children's Literature and Children's Theater.  He is thriving there and doing very well academically, thanks largely to the college supports program for students on the autism spectrum that is run through the Autism Collaborative Center at EMU.  Tony is donating 15% of the profits from his book sales at Art Is In Market to the ACC's College Supports Program. 

Tony was also just featured in a very informative Associated Press article and video regarding college options for autistic students.

As far as my endeavors, I've been finishing up some of the felted crocheted bags that I was working on and making a few new ones.  Here are some photos of the ones I've completed.

Has a removable, cross-body strap.

Removable chain  and hand-embroidered and appliqued details.

This one is done in a wool/mohair blend -- hence, the "fuzzy" look.  Crocheted, beaded appliques. Removable chain.
Multi-color striped mini purse with crocheted, beaded embellishment and hand embroidery.

I love this color of periwinkle blue.  The button is one-of-a-kind, handmade by a glass artist.
My plan for this week is to start work on some felted iPad covers,  Rather than crochet the covers, I went to the Ann Arbor Thrift Shop and purchased some gorgeous wool sweaters to felt and use for this project.  I will take photos as I work on this project and share my progress in my next post.

Finally, I just wanted to post my schedule for upcoming shows during the holidays.  I will continue to have my creations for sale at Art Is In Market at Laurel Park Place Mall in Livonia, Michigan, but I will also be attending these artisan/crafter holiday markets:

Saturday, November 9, 2013 - The Lindbergh Holiday Boutique at Lindbergh Elementary School in Dearborn, MI. 

Saturday, November 16, 2013 - The 2nd Annual Holiday Galleria at First Presbyterian Church of Dearborn. (Proceeds from this event are donated to local charities benefiting women and children in need.)

Saturday, December 7, 2013 - Ann Arbor City Club, 30th Annual Arts and Crafts Festival, Ann Arbor, MI.
(A portion of the proceeds from this event goes to local community outreach programs.)

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Heavenly Haven: An Early Autumn Weekend Getaway

For the first time in many years, my husband, Dan, and I took the opportunity to get away for a long weekend -- just the two of us. This beautiful pencil sketch hanging above the fireplace in our room at Yelton Manor in South Haven, Michigan perfectly captured my plan for our weekend away -- relax! And that's exactly what we did.

I loved this Bed and Breakfast! We stayed in a suite that occupied most of the third floor of The Guest House, one of the two buildings that make up Yelton Manor.  The Dewey Suite is full of welcoming little alcoves, tall slanted ceilings, stained glass windows, wonderful antique furnishings, and coziness.

We even had our own little balcony under the eaves.

I quickly found a favorite spot to sit and crochet.

And speaking of crochet, one thing that caught my eye was the large number of hand-crocheted doilies scattered about our room -- eight in all.  Each was different and some looked like they were probably antiques. 

South Haven is located on the eastern shore of Lake Michigan, in southwestern Michigan.  It sits right on the lakeshore, at the mouth of the Black River. Two piers jut out into the lake on either side of the river's mouth, and a bright red lighthouse graces the end of the southern pier.  You can just make out the piers and the lighthouse in this photo I took of Dan on the beach near the Yelton Manor.

Here is a view of the Black River, taken from the drawbridge in town.  We had glorious, early autumn, sunny days during our stay, but when this photo was taken, on the morning we left to return home, it had started to rain.  I have to say the weather pretty well capture my mood; I felt so sad to be leaving.

And here is a picture of Captain Lou's, a great little bar and eatery that sits right on the river, where we had lunch on Saturday.  It sits empty in the Sunday morning rain.

The City of South Haven has many quaint and unique little shops.  Two that I particularly enjoyed were Just Bead It, where I bought the lovely beads shown in the photo below, and Needles in a Haystack, a cozy little yarn store that carried gorgeous fibers. 

My husband and I lead very hectic, over-scheduled lives that often pull us in opposite directions.  It was just so pleasant to have some time where we could relax and just be together.  I couldn't help but notice the similarity between the words "haven" and "heaven".  After "googling" the history of the two words, however, it seems that they don't even come from the same root word or have common origins.   But I'm going to ignore the etymological research, because to me, our stay in South Haven was like a little taste of heaven.