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jewelry

I suppose it’s odd to find oneself finally having some time to breathe in the second week of December, but that is how it’s fallen out for me. The pre-Christmas frenzy seems somewhat calm in comparison to the preceding weeks, which for me included: an extremely challenging period at work during which I frantically sewed unseasonable summer clothes for my Hawaii trip, consisting of three dresses, three tank tops, two swimsuits and two cover-ups for me, and a dress, skirt, and coverup for my mother (which I will share in a huge Christmastime summer clothes roundup post soon); said trip to Hawaii (which was amazing); working in Los Angeles for the three weeks leading up to Thanksgiving (which happily featured hanging out with Det Houndstooth and Ms McCall and buying an obscene amount of glorious fabric, of course); hosting said Thanksgiving at my house (which is such fun but a lot of work); and all the while frantically trying to make sellable items for my first-ever craft market last weekend.

Yes, I actually sold my handmade goods! It’s one of those things I’ve always half-considered and dismissed for various reasons, but I finally took the plunge when a friend conceived of and organized a sort of neighborhood pop-up market made up mostly of crafty friends who are at that point in our chosen craft that we’ve made enough stuff for ourselves but we want to keep making things… It was a great opportunity to experiment with selling in a somewhat safe environment of newbies, as opposed to trying to jump into an established professional craft market.

craft market booth

This was my “booth” – a table dressed with a length of poplin from my stash and laid with my wares: several zipper pouches, some foldover clutches, a couple tote bags, and a selection of silver charm and bike chain necklaces and earrings. It was so interesting to see what people liked and what they weren’t really that interested in. As I suspected, the graphic pattern bags sold well, though it seemed that people were more interested in the color than the cool prints. The foldover clutches with straps sold right away but the ones without didn’t sell at all, so clearly more straps needed in future. Also, smaller zipper pouches were more popular than larger ones, which makes sense in retrospect.

The jewelry was less popular, which was disappointing but not totally surprising. I know I’ve never been “on trend” in my jewelry taste, and it would seem that the reason I can never find pieces I like in stores is not because there’s a market niche that needs to be filled, but rather because I’m the only one who likes that kind of thing. I also realized about halfway through the market that people weren’t understanding that I had made the silver pendants myself (having never heard of silver clay until last year myself, that makes sense), and interest picked up when I started telling people that the pendants were handmade and pure silver.

craft market jewelry

I actually had a really good time selling my wares, even though it was rather nerve-wracking. I would absolutely consider doing another market, and possibly even selling on etsy if I ever found myself with a ton of free time to make things. I could say I “made money” at this market in the sense that I sold the items for more than they cost to make in materials, but the primary problem for me with buying supplies is the “one for me” syndrome – buying extra of a fabric or notion because I like it and I want to keep it for myself. So in that sense perhaps crafting for money is a terrible trap. But it was fun to buy a bunch of great quilting cottons again – I’d forgotten how pretty that fabric can be. And I also enjoyed sewing things that don’t have to fit a body!

But after all of that I was way, way behind on seasonally appropriate selfish clothes sewing. With the weather finally turning toward real (California) winter, I’ve found myself wishing that I already had all the lovely winter garments I’m planning on making (why yes, 30% off merino from The Fabric Store that I bought last month, I’m looking at you). So in a bout of determination that I would have the perfect outfit for today’s activities of visiting the farmers’ market, doing a matinée at work, and the evening’s trip to the tree farm for our Christmas tree followed by our annual post-tree-decorating traditional watching of Love Actually, I stayed up til 1 last night making a dress with deer on it.

Butterick 5246 deer

(And yes, I absolutely acknowledge and am thankful for the fact that I live in a place where I can buy fresh local tomatoes(!) and a Christmas tree on the same day while just wearing leggings and a three-quarters sleeved dress. I love California.)

This fabric is from, obviously, Girl Charlee, and although it broke my rule of thumb for online fabric purchases (9oz and above only), well, it had deer on it. I shamelessly copied this Boden deer dress, and to that end I pulled out Butterick 5246, which has a similar empire line and I’ve made twice before. My last version was in the super stretchiest knit ever, which hid some of the fit problems that this version, made in just about the un-stretchiest knit ever, reveals – strange armpit wrinkles (which Nhi advised me how to fix but I didn’t bother to this time), terrible low back pooling, weird off-grain looking sleeves. But whatever, it has deer on it.

B5246 deer detail

I actually had to cut the bodice out twice, because of an ill-advised decision to attempt an exposed neckline binding. It turned out terribly, but luckily I had enough deer left to cut another bodice (I was not unpicking that binding at midnight). I also scooped out the front neckline by about an inch, which I prefer to the original can’t-decide-if-it’s-a-boat-or-scoop-neckline of the pattern. This pattern has a single back piece, but when I redid the bodice I had to cut the skirt off the old one and make a back waist seam to attach the new back bodice piece, so now it has a back waist seam. Oh well. Deer.

I have a ton of gift sewing to accomplish in the next week (because I so cleverly decided to make everyone’s presents this year…), as well as some actual cold-weather items for myself to wear in actually-has-winter Northern Nevada over Christmas, so back to the sewing machine for me for now. But hopefully I’ll get around to sharing all my (seasonally-appropriate or non) previous projects over my holiday break. ‘Til then… deer!

B5246 deer 2

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Well, I didn’t want to get your hopes up. Yes, once again the time has slipped through my fingers and I have not accomplished all the things I planned/hoped/thought I could in the last few weeks. So while the end of April has arrived and I have no further stash sewing to show for it, I thought I’d better fess up and also at least share something about what I’ve been up to besides sewing.

First awesome news: I was lucky enough to win Amy’s Drape Drape 3 giveaway! I’ve been casually entering these giveaways as they’ve popped up around the sewing blog world because I’m morbidly interested in making at least one of the designs – I’m fascinated by crazy knit draping methods and this would definitely fit the bill! A quick flip through the book (it came so fast – thanks, Laurence King Publishing!) shows that my all my complicated pleating needs have been forever met, and I’m already daydreaming ways to modify the giant crazy pattern pieces to make the garments more, uh, my everyday style. It’ll certainly be an education in draping, if nothing else. And happily, the knot-neck dress seems to be just my thing as-is (though of course it’s one of the non-jersey patterns, so I suppose it’s not totally perfect… but I do so like to make woven patterns from knits), so hopefully I will be attempting at least that one sometime this summer.

dd3cover-e1365984834769

Thank you Amy!

But the arrival of this book (by the way, as the third book in the series I keep feeling like it should be called Drape Drape Drape, right?) is not what has been keeping me from my sewing machine. No, sadly, it’s this: I have discovered another new hobby. And unlike my last new craft adoption, knitting, this one I’m really excited about! (Sorry, knitting, I just don’t think we’re going to work out. It’s not you, it’s me.) So what is it, you ask? (Or maybe you don’t – apologies, sewing will resume shortly, don’t worry.) I am making jewelry! Simple, modern silver jewelry! And it’s (relatively) easy!

I never intended to make jewelry. I’ve made some forays into beading in the past and it’s never caught my fancy, probably because I don’t wear beaded jewelry. I’m pretty picky about my jewelry – I basically only wear necklaces (no pierced ears, watch instead of bracelets), it must be silver, and I gravitate toward simple, modern geometrics. It never occurred to me that I could make that kind of jewelry without taking up silversmithing or something, so I was totally satisfied amassing said jewelry slowly, mostly at museum gift shops and local craft galleries. Then, last month in LA at one of said local craft galleries, I bought a necklace that the clerk informed me was made with “silver clay”. I had never heard of such a thing, so I googled it. It’s totally a thing. It’s actually called precious metal clay, or PMC. There is even – get this – a Craftsy class on using it. (Man, there’s a Craftsy class on everything now, isn’t there?) Basically, tiny particles of silver are suspended in an organic binder material that makes it a clay-like substance that can be rolled out and shaped, then it’s fired with a handheld torch for a couple minutes, burning up the binder and fusing the silver together. You then shine it up (or not) with a series of fine sandpapers. It’s pretty cool. So I took the Craftsy class and went for it. Here are a few of the things I’ve made so far:

first PMC necklaces

On the left is a shiny square with a brushed circle on top of it – they’re two separate pieces on one jump ring. On the right is a string of three circles, the center one is shined up and the outer two are matte, though it’s kind of hard to tell so I just may make them all the same (and I need to get smaller jump rings to connect them, but this was all I had at the moment). In the middle is a piece I textured by stamping the clay with a rubber stamp before cutting out the square shape. After firing I patina-ed the piece using the hard-boiled egg method and then scrubbed the patina off the surface with fine sandpaper for a brushed finish, leaving it in the indentations to make the pattern more obvious.

I must say I’m having fun coming up with all the jewelry designs I’ve always wanted but have never been able to find for sale. With sewing, I’ve never considered myself to be a designer at all – I’ve always been good at seeing something and duplicating it, or modifying something to be what I want, but not ever pulling a design wholesale out of thin air. So it’s been interesting that with the silver clay I do seem to be thinking of a lot of original designs, which is exciting for me. Or maybe it’s just a subconscious backlog of all the jewelry I’ve ever seen and liked but not bought? Who knows? It’s cool either way. But seriously, like I really needed another crafty suck on my time… gah.

I’m hoping anyway that the jewelry making and the sewing can happily co-exist. And after spending the last couple weeks immersed in the world of PMC, I miss sewing. So return I shall to the two items I cut out before the jewelry lark began (one of which is where the scrap of gray doubleknit the necklaces are sitting on came from). But I think I’d better stop making promises about when things are going to be done, since I just seem to break them immediately. May will be a mixed bag, with another Los Angeles work trip dominating the month (meetup, anyone?), but I’ve also signed up to participate in the curious kiwi‘s Burda Sewalong, to attack that magazine I bought last month. So there will be clothes, sometime. That’s as specific as I’m willing to get right now – for your own protection.

And finally, here’s some proof that not everyone in our house is sad about my temporary sewing hiatus:

OT stash bedHow nice of the Orange Terror to help initiate my newest fabric into the stash! Because, obviously, it’s not real stash fabric until it’s been shed on. Thanks, buddy.