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Hello, my name is Sandy.

100 Days of Teacup (Set 5)

Brush strokes set

Fuck yeah, I am done. Pardon my language, but after 100 days of commitment, I feel I've earned a few swear words. Promise I won't spend them all at once.

This is set 5.

Day 81: Coloured shapes cutouts

Day 81: Coloured shapes cutouts. Decorated my sketchbook with pieces of a Kikki-K sticker book cover.

Day 82: A teacup-shaped cryptic crossword about tea

Day 82: A teacup-shaped cryptic crossword about tea. I put a lot of effort into this, yet still it might not be any good. There's a printable at bit.ly/crypteacrossword if this is your sort of thing.

Day 83: Stolen coaster

Day 83: Stolen coaster from Dominion League in Perth.

Day 84: Brush strokes 2

Day 84: Brush strokes 2. Acrylic on canvas. Working on a set from day 68http://sanlive.com/100-days-of-teacup-set-4/.

Day 85: Brush strokes 3

Day 85: Brush strokes 3. Acrylic on canvas.

Day 86: Brush strokes 4

Day 86: Brush strokes 4. Acrylic on canvas. The set is complete!

Day 87: Hobonichi teacup

Day 87: Hobonichi teacup. I am in love with my Hobonichi AVEC Cousin, a beautiful planner/notebook from Japan.

Day 88: Stencil teacup

Day 88: Stencil teacup, done with my 20-year old Caran D'ache crayons. The stencilling was what sold me on them - soft gradients, lovely colours.

Day 89: Teacups in my house 1

Day 89: Teacups in my house 1. A drawing in a mini-zine.

Day 90: Teacup on a woven table

Day 90: Teacup on a woven table. This table was given to us by previous neighbours as they were moving house. The woven top is rotting away; I plan to replace it with wood. Maybe jarrah or plain ol' pine, or whatever nice thing they have at Perth Wood School.

Day 91: Sewing drawing

Day 91: Sewing drawing. Kind of fun Would try again.

Day 92: Teacups in my house 2

Day 92: Teacups in my house 2. "Lintu" is Finnish for bird. :)

Day 93: The calm centre with tea

Day 93: The calm centre with tea. I received a letter from my penpal in The Netherlands. It had some stickers in it, one of which was a teacup!

Day 94: Tea and craggy biscuits

Day 94: Tea and craggy biscuits. Fountain pen ink on cotton paper.

Day 95: Fabric ink on calico

Day 95: Fabric ink on calico. Drawing testers for a sewing project.

Day 96: Waiting for tea

Day 96: Waiting for tea. Watercolour on cotton paper.

Day 97: Strawberry cup

Day 97: Strawberry cup, to match my new strawberry tower in the garden.

Day 98: Teacups in my house 3

Day 98: Teacups in my house 3.

Day 99: Teacups in my house 4

Day 99: Teacups in my house 4. There's actually a 5th type of teacup in my house too, but it's not very interesting to draw, and I can only fit 4 in the mini-zine.

Day 100: Acrylic on wood

Day 100: Acrylic on wood.

And that's it. :)))

Finishing felt great. Spending the following evening without this on my mind felt even greater. I went to training, I came home, I went to bed - THAT WAS IT.

Brush strokes set

It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.

Not sure if Confucius actually said that, but it's a nice thought, especially in the context of this exercise. I started my 100 days hoping to develop more creative habits in my everyday life.

At the start, I was nervous about art, about my ideas being lame. But pretty quickly, it became apparent how little that matters. Coincidentally, perhaps through the Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon, this became apparent in other areas of my life too - that it doesn't matter if the idea is crap. You having done something makes it significantly better, and often enough, what you end up with will suffice.

In the weeks that followed, I realised art doesn't have to be complex or difficult. You can do some pretty cool things without too much effort or commitment. Sure, inspiration and innovation are fun, but it takes perseverance and focus to turn them into something you can appreciate. Effort makes an idea matter.

Reassuring, isn't it? To know you've already succeeded at something just by having a go. Whether you hit the target is immaterial - you could well hit it on your next go. Of course, we're only talking about trying out art projects here. Don't take this mentality to the Roulette table.

It's only been a few days since the project ended, but more than before, I feel in the habit of creating. I can't attribute this to any one cause. Having such an intense track record gets me feeling more capable and motivated. But it could just as easily be that my art supplies are conveniently arranged now, so it's easier to dive in and make something. Maybe it's simply coincidence, a by-product of our new house having a better layout and more room for tools. Maybe it's the combination of all these things.

Thank you, everyone, for your support, hearts, likes, comments, and advice. I'm glad I had a go. Whether the new habits stick remains to be seen, but for the moment, I got what I wanted out of it. And now I'm going to savour the feeling of it being over. :)

Recycling a t-shirt

Merginas t-shirt mod - front

I don't love sewing - let me be upfront about that. Sewing machines have so many moving parts I fear will snap off and fly in my eye. And I don't have room for a proper chair, so I sit on a very uncomfortable Bekväm step stool. But do love seeing something quite new emerge from something quite plain. And I love knowing my clumsy hands and sore butt contributed to it.

This was my first attempt at something like this, and I didn't know what I was doing. The key features of this t-shirt mod are:

  • Darts - front and back
  • Waist made to fit - sort of, roughly
  • Simple hemming
  • Boat-neck
  • Side splits

darts under the bust, front

This whole project was for learning how to sew darts - folds sewn into the fabric to add 3-dimensional shape. The front darts came out all right, but the back ones were in the wrong spot. Passable still, but far from what you'd call "fashion".

darts in the lumbar area, back

I used these tutorials and references for the darts:

trimmed sleeves

The original neck and sleeves were trimmed and hemmed 2mm away from the edge. Now when wearing the top, the hems sometimes flip over, showing the raw edge. I think this means I should have used bias tape? Gah - mistake, but yay - learning!

2mm hem

One annoying thing I found was how warped the original t-shirt was. Maybe that's a quirk of our home, but all our clothes end up slightly twisted after a few washes. I suspect perfect fabric isn't a thing here, though, seeing as how my favourite t-shirt mod reference involves a lot of outright destruction.

I'm keen to find more ways to recycle clothes before resorting to donation. I read that goodwill donations still end up in landfill, so, you know... disappointment and panic. :(

We can do better. I want to believe we can. Re-making stuff is fun - way more fun than walking through crowded shops, imo - so at least having a go won't be boring. Besides, how cool would it be to get good enough to make yourself some decent clothes? Even if they're frankenclothes.

It might be time soon to invest in a good chair. :)

1920s dress, "Katsby"

black pleated polyester shift dress with attached dropwaist sash

My latest experiment has been a 1920s style dress. The first social event at my new job is a Gatsby themed cocktail party. I didn't want to spend a lot of money, so decided it was time to learn to make clothes. Mum was my phone-a-friend all the way, talking me through every step. I learned so much from just this one basic project.

Turns out the 20s is a great era for one's first dress. Styles were simple enough for fashion to be produced at home. Both the wealthy and working class could party together and neither would know the difference. I immersed in Pinterest and found there's actually a lot of familiar stuff from that time. A portion of Downton Abbey is set in 1922. And some songs I grew up with - "Baby Face", "I Wanna Be Loved By You", "Singin' in the Rain" - were so hot back then.

black pleated polyester

Mum and I found a great material - a black pleated non-woven polyester, both tricky and forgiving for a beginner. I'll get to why in a sec.

making a dress pattern

Making a pattern came first. It took a whole afternoon, but Mum gave pro tips on doing it easy:

  1. Take body measurements.
  2. Make cardboard cutout of body measurements.
  3. Use cutout as a 'stencil' for pattern design.
  4. Draw the pattern.
  5. Cut.

patterns drawn from stencil

Here's the pattern for the front and back panels, drawn from the stencil (black line) and cut a half-inch out. This is the seam allowance, which is very important, don't get so engrossed in crafting that you forget it, which I very nearly did. Notice how it's only half a panel - we cut the fabric folded to save on effort (another pro tip from Mum).

pattern pinned to fabric, ready for cutting

Usually, you'd use tailor's chalk to mark cut lines on the material, but chalk wouldn't take to the polyester, so it was all pins and guesswork for me.

And this was one reason why this fabric was hard to work with. Keeping it loose while cutting, so the pleats wouldn't stretch out, was another. However...

fabric panels pinned together

Here are the panels pinned together. The cut was rough, asymmetrical and uneven, but you really have to look to be able to tell - most of the mistakes are hidden by the way the fabric behaves. So this is the payoff for the trickyness.

The rest of the story is straightforward, but let me highlight the interesting points:

top part of dress, showing gathers and tucked waist

Gathering the shoulders: To allow for fullness around the bust (even though I don't have a full bust), we gathered the shoulders. This tutorial shows how to do it on a basic sewing machine, but next time on a soft material like this, I would try hand-sewing the long stitches.

Tucked waist: Flapper dresses aren't supposed to have waistlines. Almost all the information I found reported shapeless garments in a post-war time of ditching tradition and corsets. But I would drown in a shapeless dress, so my version has a slight, loose-fitted waist.

satin dropwaist sash

Dropwaist sash: A key feature of 1920s dresses is the dropwaist, shifting waistline features to the hips and elongating the body. This dropwaist is accentuated by a satin sash attached by tiny hand-stitching. The tied part is loose for adjustable fit. I'm especially happy with this part, as it looks clever and deliberate, when really, it was an easier alternative to making a plain sash and getting it to sit straight. :)

Hems: Finally, the neckline and sleeves, were hemmed with tiny hand-stitching in strategic spots. I learned that making tiny stitches on a concave part of a pleat makes it all but invisible from normal distances. I would be most upset if someone could actually see them, because it means they're standing too close like a gawky creeper.

cat napping on a cushion

Here is Dora being helpful.

The experience of making this dress was transformative. I feel confident with this craft now. I have a cardboard cutout of my measurements to use in future projects. And I've had terrible eczema for the last two weeks - this has helped keep my mind off the misfortune, and scratching fingers off my skin.

All up, I spent $35 on fabric + 12 hours over 5 days on labour. The pattern was improvised from simple shapes, scrap newspaper and an old cardboard box. Still to go are shoes and accessories, and I'll share full styling details and cost breakdown for the entire outfit soon.

Sewing an apron

Sewing an apron is completely different to being any good at it. I might take it to show Mum tomorrow. She could use a laugh.

It's nice to finally have the apron finished! Even if it's a mess. Let us count the ways...

apron from front with faults highlighted

Fit is awkward, despite the body being made to measure. This is partly due to fabric choice (calico), partly to placement of the straps. The waist straps are too low to sit on the waist, yet too high to sit around the hips, so the torso part puffs out. Better to have picked slightly higher or lower than middling like this.

The neck straps are too far apart, and warp the shape when tied around the neck. They either need to be closer OR made longer so they can be tied cross-back to the waist. Cross-back still sort of works because I am short, albeit a tangle.

a frayed knot

I thought it would work to sew the straps and turn them inside-out, but I'm... afraid not. ;D They were much too narrow. Raw edges should be all right for now. Maybe I can seal them with a PVA + water solution. Maybe later.

triangle shape to secure a neck strap

Straps were secured with triangles and squares. There was much pivoting of fabric in the armpit of my machine.

I am pleased to be reacquainted with my Brother after all these years. We may not have made beautiful garment together, but we are on speaking terms again.

Just enough time for just enough things

Mona and a waffle blanket

Life today is a precarious balance. I have just enough time for just enough things - projects, study, sport, chores. Nobody touch anything please, in case it topples.

Since the end of April, we've done a lot of stuff:

a garnish salad

Brahma beer

the start of a lovely dining experience

Lapa lunch, where I was too enthralled after the first dish that I forgot to take more food pics;

a game of Drakon

games on boards, in cards and on computers;

making petit fours for Mum

finished petit fours

Mum's buttermilk buns

homemade sushi for Mum

breakfast at Boubar in Nedlands

family food affairs, Mother's day things;

Lotte's scarf

Sharon's

measuring fabric for apron

measuring Mona for fun

miscellaneous crafting and crochet;

Tea Cozies by The Guild of Master Craftsman Publications

and the rounding up of materials for making tea cosies (more on that another day).

Oh, and some sport. I've decided to try the 100 push-up challenge, doing full push-ups. Since Christmas, I've struggled with a weak core, clicky wrists and elbow tendonitis, so for now, I'm on a mild training regimen of 3 x 10 every few days. After 12 sessions over 4 weeks, I can now maintain good form for all 30. Once I can get as low as 4 inches from the ground for the whole run, I'll be ready to work to 100.

Yaargh~ time for bed now. Good night!

Stuff I'm working on

Nippon blanket - now for dog

My blanket project from last year grew less interesting with every square. It was meant to be a 100-patch glory for cold nights on the couch. Then cut back to 81 pieces because fuck doing 19 more squares for hardly a size difference. Now it's relegated to being a dog blanket for a Cavalier Spaniel pup we'll be visiting in a couple of weeks. So, that's on the cards - stitching up all 36 pieces, then rubbing my face in it so it smells like me.

Along with this are more half-finished, barely started, and mostly done projects strewn around my desk. Fancy a look?

my first weaving

My first weaving project, using orange and light aqua yarn. I almost gave up on it because the weave was too loose, but then I learned about stiffening fabric and figure I could starch this and make a display piece. That was a month ago. I haven't touched it since.

Sullivan's felting tools

This felting kit is waiting to be picked up. I'm scared, though. These needles are sharp and rough. I have thimbles, but it's still risky. Something stupid is going to happen. Blood will probably happen.

basket of unfinished projects

There's a lot going on in this tiny basket of bits. That blue stuff is a baby kimono awaiting more yarn. The white stuff will be made into a hat. The blue-grey thing is alpaca yarn slowly transforming into a scarf. The red stuff will go towards a neckie. And the orange bits will end up a present for someone in the family.

Victorian-esque collar

I had a go at making a Victorian collar - sort of. It's almost done. It needs some buttons, but every night, I cbf.

The Modern Girl's Guide to Hatmaking by Mary Jane Baxter

Throughout my childhood, I wondered what kind of wizardry went into making hats. At some point in my life, I would like to find out, thanks to this book I found at Planet Books. The craft of hat-making is called millenery. It sounds like it requires a lot of steam and glue. However, before I can even think of starting, I have to make a gateway piece:

calico, cotton drill and a fabric pencil

An apron. This is my cotton drill fabric, calico and a fabric pencil. The book recommends using an apron when crafting, so your clothes don't get smudged or snagged on your hat. An apron is a nice, simple re-introduction to sewing machines and sewing. This will be my competence litmus.

Other projects I can't take pictures of include...

  • A gamedev project
  • Nursing fresh seeds and seedlings for a winter crop
  • Growing indoor basil over winter
  • Making succulent cuttings in cute pots
  • Adding a second species of moss to my two-year old terrariums
  • A coeliac test

Busy busy busy.

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