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Posts Tagged ‘creativity’

31 Day Challenge: Crafting, Stories and Solutions

Saturday, January 1st, 2011

I started my first small business 9 years ago called, Knot Ugly Designs and then DIY Lounge, 6 years ago.  Both businesses came out of a need for me to share my creativity or support other people’s creativity.  Long before I was a professional artist/crafter I was a super crafty kid.  I was the type who always received craft kits for every Birthday and Christmas.  I rarely followed the instructions or patterns.  I regularly skipped school to sew on my mother’s sewing machine, while she was at work and I was a self taught knitter and crocheter by the age of 8 years old.  My creativity was always a source of fulfillment, excitement and at particular times in my life it’s been very grounding to me.

Ironically, I spend very little time making things that aren’t for work these days.  I was thinking about this for a good portion of last year, “Why don’t I make more things for myself and for my family anymore?”  I have the skills, but lack the time as well as not seeing creating for myself as a priority. This is why I am doing this project.  For the month of January I am “sticking with the one who brung me” (an old saying my Grandpa used to say).    31 days of crafting, stories and solutions.

Why crafting stories and solutions?  Well, when I think of the root or the beginning of my sense of myself as a creative person I think of my Grandmother.  She always supported my creativity.  When I was 9 I started making these dolls and stuffed animals with clothing, painted eyes, hand stitched noses and generally they were very detailed.  My Grandmother would freak out about my skills and creative ideas, as no two creations were the same.  She would even pay me to make dolls and would give them to friends, family, etc.  She loved to tell stories and to this day I think she is one of the best story tellers I’ve ever heard – funny, dramatic, expressive and totally entertaining.  When I think of my youth, I think of making things with and for my Grandmother, while she told stories.  Those were good times.

The solutions piece has been a mainstay throughout my life.  I have always needed creative solutions.  My family was extremely poor when I was a child.  We didn’t own a car.  I didn’t always get new school clothes or other essentials.  If I needed something I made it myself or made something to sell and bought it myself.   When I was 12 and my best friend got a new bedroom set: blanket, sheets, curtains and fancy pillows.  I wanted one too so I asked for 3 flat sheets and one fitted sheet for my Birthday.  I made an entire bedroom set out of these, recovering my own blanket and it turned out beautiful.  I didn’t have batting for the decorative pillows so my Grandmother, who was a product of the depression, gave me the cotton from hundreds of pill bottles that she had saved for years.  Sure, the pillows were a little bumpy, but I had something I wouldn’t have had otherwise.

Fast forward to now, I have these skills that I have had for most of my life, which I’m not using in my personal life anymore, so for this month I will be making 1 thing per day that is a creative solution in my life, taking a picture of it, talking about it, telling a story if I have one and living inside my crafting rather than putting my crafting outside of my personal life only using it for work.  There are so many projects that I have been wanting to sink my teeth into and now, finally I am making the time.  Some projects will be straight up craft projects and others will be more in the vein of creative organization solutions.

I would love input from readers as to which project you enjoy the most and if I get enough comments on one particular project I’ll turn it into a tutorial after the 31 day challenge of crafting, stories and solutions is over.  So please let me know what you like!

January 1st, 2010: Image Transfer Cards

Here are some cards that I made that I can give to friends and family on upcoming Birthdays, Anniversaries, etc.  It’s a photo transfer process that you can make with your home inkjet printer, inkjet transparencies, gel medium and a brayer.  There are tons of other transfer processes out there, but I like this one for it’s antiqued look.

by: jen

Creativity isn’t Tidy, but my studio is!

Thursday, August 26th, 2010

Richard has been on vacation celebrating his Birthday, so there won’t be a vlog post this week.  Instead I’m going to show you what I’ve been up to.

Creativity isn’t tidy.  I am constantly surprised at the amount of mess that I can produce while crafting.  When I’m not working on the DIY Lounge TV show or on the DIY Lounge video tutorials, I’m making crocheted and reconstructed apparel and accessories under the name Knot Ugly Designs.   Right now I just have hats in my Etsy shop, but I make many other items, such as reconstructed sweaters, reconstructed shirts and I am working on a dress prototype right now.

I recently cleaned up my studio, which is a combination sewing studio and the DIY Lounge TV studio.  Something like a good old fashioned cleaning must be photographed because it might not happen again for a long time.  When you are creative you MUST live with a certain amount of mess, but here are some pictures of the momentary clean that is my studio.

The DIY Lounge sign is where the DIY Lounge TV studio is.  At the left is where my sweater collection lives.  I will cut the crap out of these sweaters in the very near future.

Here’s another perspective.  You can see the bathroom off to the right.

Here’s more sweaters that have been cut up, but still have a lot to offer, so I keep them for the next project.  I have them hung on a rolling rack with a lower rack set up so I can see all of my sweaters at a glance.  Off to the right you can see my sewing studio.  I’m not totally done decorating in there so I will leave that to photograph for another day.  Trust me, I don’t judge anyone else’s creative mess, but remember a little cleaning every once in awhile can really help keep you on task and can allow for more creativity.  Not to mention finding those items that you put in a that safe-place-so-you-would-remember-where-it-is-later and then promptly lost, or maybe that’s just me.

by: Jen

Small-Scale Upholstery Project

Wednesday, July 14th, 2010

Last week I told you that I was going to do a mini upholstery project and I was able to complete it, phew!  It took a little more time than I had expected, but it’s done!  I am a very visual learner and always wish that tutorials had more pictures so I have designed this tutorial for all the visual learners in the house.

I had a few ideas in mind when I began this project:

  1. I wanted to do it on the cheap.
  2. I didn’t want to reupholster the entire love seat because most of it was in decent shape.
  3. I wanted to use very easy to work with materials.
  4. I wanted to create a piece with high style, but using very simple processes.

I found this loveseat on the side of the road one day with a free sign on it and quickly discovered that it was hide-a-bed too.  This was perfect because I had been looking for the right kind of extra bed for my son’s room for when he has friends sleep over.  The only issue was that both of the arms of the piece were really torn up.  I decided what this loveseat needed was a mini upholstery make over so I set to the task of reinventing this piece.

This project requires time more than anything else. It’s not hard to do and the costs are minimal.

Here is a picture of the finished piece so that you can get an idea of what we are doing here.  I decided for symmetry’s sake that I needed to alter 3 parts of this loveseat.  It didn’t feel balanced to just redo the arms so I decided to carry the effect through by detailing the back of the loveseat too.

Materials + Costs + Time = Loveseat Reinvention!

  • 2.5 yards of 30% wool 70% rayon felt in olive green $19.98
  • 1 yard of 30% wool 70% rayon felt in dark grey $9.99
  • 2 packages of dark brown embroidery floss $1.18
  • a curved upholstery needle and one straight upholstery needle $3.99
  • straight pins
  • large fabric cutting scissors
  • small fabric cutting scissors
  • paper cutting scissors
  • pattern paper $10.00. Newspaper can work in a pinch
  • marker
  • tape measure
  • sewing machine (optional)

Total cost for this project is $45. 14.  Please note that I only costed out the items that I had to buy for this project and you will have many of these items, such as the pattern paper for your next project.

The first thing I did was to wrap the pattern paper around the areas that I wanted to cover and pinned all those areas to the best of my ability.  Then I began to trace the lines of the piece so that I could have something to follow as I developed my pattern.  My strategy was to turn this piece into a pattern and a map of sorts so I would know exactly where to place each piece.

Next began cutting into the paper and removing the parts that I didn’t need for my pattern.  You can see that I began cutting where the arm and the back of the lovseat come together.  Once I did this I realized that I had made a mistake when cutting my line and needed to add 1/4 of an inch to one little section.  I used scotch tape to do this.  Tape is magical when drafting patterns because it can fix any mistake and it reinforces the pattern to keep it from ripping. 

At the right we are seeing the  pattern from the inside of the arm of the loveseat.  I finished tracing my lines and then cut out the rest of the pattern.  Below you can see my tape in the background of the picture.  I used it any where that I didn’t have a clean line or any where that I felt that the pattern needed to be a little bit larger.

* I didn’t add any extra material to this pattern for a salvage edge.  The reason for this was that felt won’t fray so you don’t need to worry about this.  The only exception to this was the front parts of the arm.  I think it’s easier to show you than to tell you so keep reading and I think you will see what I mean.

** I also didn’t sew any of this pattern on a sewing machine except for the part where I used the salvage edge, but  you could do this entire project without machine sewing if you choose too!

OK, this is what I was talking about.  If you look at the picture to the right you can see that first I traced the lines of the loveseat and then I added 1/4 inch to the piece for a salvage edge.  This is the only place where I added extra fabric to the pattern.  For the rest of the piece I used the raw edge of the felt.

*** The only problem with using the raw edge of any fabric is that you MUST cut very straight lines, so I spent some extra time on that.  Small, sharp scissors are really great for this because you can do more precise. detailed cutting.

Once I laid out the front piece I realized that I should leave the skirt of the original fabric, because I felt that if I covered the front part with felt to the floor it would look strange.  So what I decided to do was remove the part of the pattern.  You can see that I created a line where the original skirt had been and cut away that part of the pattern so that the entire loveseat would still have the plaid skirt wrapping around the entire piece.  When you are reinventing something these are the details you must think of.  How do I show what is already fantastic about this piece, but hide or fix what doesn’t work?  How do I marry these two components together?

Next I cut out the back of the loveseat.  This piece provides no other purpose than creating balance, style.  I could have left it out, but the arms would have looked sorta lonely and I couldn’t have that.  I just cut this out free-hand.  Then I cut out a grey piece that was slightly smaller than the green piece.

One of the many benefits to working with felt is that you can see how something will work just by laying it on top of the piece of furniture and it will mostly stay in place.

Next I removed the pattern pieces that I cut for the arm of the loveseat.  I laid my arm pattern piece out on the green felt and pinned it down. I cut felt around the pattern pieces.

Whenever I cut out a pattern I always spend a minute or two placing the pieces on the fabric and seeing how I can cut out the pattern without wasting extra fabric.  You can see here that I found that the front arm pattern piece fit nicely where the side arm was.

I am not sure if you can see this clearly or not, but what I have done here is once I finished cutting one of the arms I flipped the pieces over (to create a mirror image) and placed them down on the remaining green felt.  I pinned and then cut out these pieces.

Another thing that is nice about working with this better quality felt is that one side of the felt has these natural fiber bits in it and the other side is just plain, which makes it easier to tell which side is which.

Now you can see in the picture at your right that I matched the pieces up with the wrong sides facing out and pinned them to get ready to sew them together.  This is the front part of the arm we are looking at, at the right.  I chose to use my sewing machine for this part of the project, but you could very easily hand stitch this part too.

Once I finished sewing this part I cut little slits all around the curved areas so that when I flipped the piece right side out it laid flat and the curves look really clean.

Please note – my sewing here is not perfect.  Creativity wins over perfection every time.  Don’t let anyone tell you differently 🙂  Those slight imperfections won’t show once we are done.

I also cut out some grey pieces to frame the front of the arms.  See picture below.  I just cut these pieces out free-hand.  As long as they are symmetrical and fit on the arm they will look great!

Now the piece is really beginning to come together!  I have the piece pinned in place so that you can see what it will look like.

I decided next that I wanted to do the blanket stitch on all of the grey pieces that needed to be attached to the green, which are the back piece and the front of the arms.  I used a straight upholstery needle that was large enough to fit all of the embroidery thread on.  I didn’t have to remove any threads for this project.   Sewing this took a while, but was worth the time because it will add extra reinforcement to the piece and make it stronger than a simple running stitch would.   I put on a radio show and got to stitching.

Here is a close up shot of the arm.  I decided there was too much slack on the front of the arms so I pinned and then re-sewed the arms.  You can always make items you sew smaller.  Making them bigger is much harder.  This is why I usually have to take things in once or sometimes even twice to assure a really great fit.

At the right is a great shot of the curved upholstery needle in the green felt and the blanket stitched edge that I did earlier.

When working with a curved upholstery needle it is important to find the rhythm of needle.  I would suggest doing a few stitches on a practice piece before you get going because working with a curved needle is different if you never have before.  The eye of the needle was large enough that I could fit the entire embroidery thread on the needle at one time.  Again, I didn’t have to remove any threads for this part of the project.  I wanted a chunkier thread look.

When attaching the felt to the actual loveseat I used the back stitch. This also took some time.  Finding the spacing for the stitches takes a few minutes, but after awhile you naturally find your groove.

At the left is a great close up shot of back of the loveseat or maybe I should say the front.  Here you can see me getting started with the back stitch and you can see the blanket stitch that I did all around the grey pieces.  I also chose the blanket stitch for the grey pieces because I wanted the pieces to lay really flat and I felt that if I used another stitch the two pieces wouldn’t seem as seamless.

I stitched the back stitch to the front piece and the arm pieces on the outside of the loveseat and on the inside.  Why the inside too?  Because this is a hide-a-bed and will get a lot of wear and tear.  I would recommend sewing your piece on the inside too even if it’s not a loveseat for stability’s sake.

Here is a picture of the completed piece, close up so you can see all of the hand stitching.

Here is another close up shot that shows all of the details in the hand stitching on the arm of the loveseat.

This project has a handmade look to it.  Your stitches don’t need to be perfect.  The handmade-ness adds character and charm to the piece.

Below is the finished version of the loveseat all set up in my son’s room.   All and all this project took me about 12 hours to complete, which is longer than I wanted to spend, but good work takes time and for the price of all the materials it was a great deal.

How often can you take something that looks kinda drab and for $40-1sh reinvent it?  Not that often.  I hope you all enjoy this project!

It turned out great and as you can see it has been approved of by the little dog too.

by jen