Wednesday 31 July 2013

Domesticated Manufacturing Techniques

"In House is the documentation of making a collection of pieces using domesticated manufacturing techniques. It uses the architecture, appliances and materials found within my small home to create an even smaller factory. I have replicated processes such as rotational casting by using the washing machine, brake pressing using the door and steam bending using the microwave, with the language of the objects defined by these parameters" - David Steiner 

In House from David Steiner on Vimeo.

This is lovely.  I am especially impressed by the transformation of the blender into a lathe and the reminder about using doors as right angle benders. David Steiner is clearly confident with various manufacturing techniques to  be able to pull this off with such simple elegance.  The DIY rotormoulder is wicked!  That would work well for candle wax and chocolate.  Delicious chocolate.  Now I keep looking around the house and visualising the various items that can be destroyed *ahem* transformed.
Cutlery and bottle opener: pewter cast in cereal box moulds

Wednesday 24 July 2013

Neon Yellow Delirium

Some people may argue that dressing a toddler in neon yellow is a form abuse, or that nuts on knees is an inappropriate visual pun for a child.
Tights and a matching headband for some eye boiling 80's nostalgia
I say it's never too early to learn about tightening nuts safely.  Everyone knows that neon yellow is a safety colour.

But neon yellow is not at all chromatophobic!  In fact, it's probably the most chromatophilic hue imaginable.  Despite having a severe weakness for this colour, I firmly refuse to hand over my chromatophobic card.  In fact I've made neon yellow clothing on more than one occasion in the past, a birthday party being one such event.
Cake cutting requires utmost safety.
I went into a fabric store the other day.  Such missions are fraught with peril, mostly to my wallet, and are an exemplary exercise of restraint.  I spotted neon yellow, and my heart skipped a beat.  Then it nearly stopped when I noticed that the fabric bin was marked "merino blend".  Then I saw the price tag, and my face contorted into a grimace of ineffable happiness.  Still, I only bought a metre.  This neon yellow blend is 42% merino, 9% elastane and 49% polyester: great combination for winter tights.  It's quite a thick four way stretch single knit and feels much like french terry, albeit with a slightly different fibre content.

Initially I planned on either screen printing or contact printing the fabric, leaning towards the latter.  This is why the nuts in the photo have one flat face; they went for a spin in the lathe for this purpose.  Instead, I decided that mucking around with ink was too much work and ended up simply drawing around the shapes with a textile marker.

What kind of a design philistine would use neon yellow as a backdrop?  Well, now you know.  And no, you're not hallucinating.  There is, indeed, a suitably neon green monkey with a matching massive reel of thread: anything to demonstrate my zeal towards this eye watering colour.

The yellow is outdone by the grotesque blue carpet.
Regrettably (and very uncharacteristically) I cannot recall the monkey's name.  I was given it by Grandpa Frost back in '93.

Sunday 21 July 2013

Baby Tops

Here are a few cotton and merino tops I made a while back.  Orlik, Rubik and Snoork make an appearance, courtecy of my mother in law's embroidery machine.

Saturday 20 July 2013

Orca Hat Tutorial

Who knew that there is a pleasant way of getting feasted upon by an orca...

I think orcas are some of the most incredible sea creatures.  Their artful, strategic cunning never fails to make my jaw drop in awe.  They are like the rebels of the oceans, completely chromatophobic in their appearance.  They would probably be fans of Nine Inch Nails.  A few years ago I saw a mum orca and a bub orca exploring the harbour, very close to the rocky shore.  I'd just gotten out of the sea where I was collecting mussels, and to my great amusement I watched a diver blast out of the water and dash for the shore in a cartoon-like manner.   He had probably filled his wetsuit in fright at the sight of the grinning whales so close to him.

Zaika's first birthday was on the horizon, and I was trying to think of a theme for costume that I wouldn't mind wearing.  I.e something black.  At some point a light bulb [an energy efficient LED] went off in my head, and all the party planning puzzle pieces positioned themselves neatly into place.

Among the guest list of ornamented octopuses, owls, Optimus Prime and orange-clad octogenarians, we were a family getting devoured by a family of orcas.  Delicious.

Meanwhile, not far from a seal colony...
Firstly, a disclaimer that this undeniably genius costume idea wasn't 100% my own.  I was inspired by this knitted shark hat.  I nearly hyperventilated with excitement when I came across it last year.
Inspiration: credit where credit is due
Right, so time for the hat making process.

Mine was somewhat convoluted, i.e a typical design process.  I started by doodling a bunch of orcas.  This was followed by more doodling, this time stylised and scaled correctly for the hat.  I used one of Zaika's well fitting beanies to guesstimate the size.  Once the doodle satisfactorily addressed the balance between proportions, orca appearance and assumed fit, I traced the individual parts to pattern pieces.
1:1 orca hat doodle
Then I sewed a quick toille from some scrap polar fleece.  It's not like I'd want to make anything wearable out of the camel coloured fabric.  Offensively hued fabric scraps are great for mock-ups.  I think I even have some baby blue polyester somewhere.  *shudder*
Genetically aberrant albino orca
The toille attempt was adequate, so after a few of tweaks I had the final pattern for Zaika's hat.  I had to make two more patterns to fit the two adult heads, which meant going back to the doodling phase, although the repeated process was a lot more efficient.
Nemo's purpled himself with fright.  He doesn't stand a chance.
After the jump is step by step tutorial for the making of the orca hat:

Monday 15 July 2013

Sleeved Bib 2.0

The original long sleeved bibs have conclusively justified their existence, having saved mountains of washing in a relatively short period of time.

Zaika has now outgrown them, so the time came to make a couple of new ones and revise some design features in the process.

As luck would have it, I had acquired just the right fabric for the project.  My fifteen year old pyjama pants had outlived their initial purpose, and I was given a pair of well ripped water resistant track pants.  Ambushed by a pair of overzealous fabric shears they underwent a dignified transformation together with an old red towel.
The unholy union

One of the bibs has a pocket for catching dropped food, and it's Zaika's going out apron.  At home it's easier to pick up the detritus off the drop sheet and surreptitiously feed it back to the unsuspecting child.  The 2.0 bibs also have little webbing loops at the bottom.  These can be strapped through the harness for when Zaika decides to amuse herself by pulling up the bib over her tray, which somewhat defeats the purpose of wearing a bib.
Two domes and no binding
Instead of subjecting myself to the frustrations of bias binding around tight curves, I sewed the sleeves in double layers.  They are more waterproof this way also.  The two domes instead of one are more secure for the larger garment size.

Two bibs aren't enough, so I'm rummaging about for some more old clothing to upcycle.

Wednesday 3 July 2013

Bib With Sleeves Tutorial

This sartorial defensive is ready for a battle of gastronomic proportions.

As soon as Zaika was introduced to solids and started feeding herself, it became very clear that her extensive bib collection was insufficient for the demands of the multi-colour food assault.  The end of every meal necessitated a complete change of clothing, and with dropping temperatures that meant several layers flying straight into the washing machine.  And so the trees cried and needed extra hugging.
Plum puree up to the armpits

This simply would could not do no longer, and I doodled a pattern for a long sleeve bib.  I altered a  decades old pattern that my mother in law kindly lent me and found some old clothing and towels to upcycle into the bibs.

The sizing is for an 8kg baby.

For this project you will need:
  • an old towel or some other absorbent fabric for the backing, about A3 size
  • easy-wash, no too absorbent fashion fabric, about A3 size
  • water resistant fabric, e.g from a raincoat, about 0.5m
  • bias binding, about 0.5m
  • domes or some other fastener, such as a button
  • elastic, about 0.3m
1. Cut out the fabric pieces.
2 sleeves, 1 front, 1 back
  2.  Make the bib body.  With right sides together sew the towelling to the fashion fabric. 
Do not sew across the sleeve gaps.
Clip and trim the seam allowance
Turn right way out and press thoroughly
Top stitch around the whole perimeter
Press again after top stitching
4. Sew the sleeves
Don't mix up the left and right!
Machine stitch or overlock the sleeve seams
 5. Make the elastic casing.
Turn under once and stitch all the way around.
Turn under again (leave enough room for the width of the elastic) and stitch nearly all the way around.  Back stitch at both ends.  Leave a 1cm gap to insert the elastic.
Secure the ends of the seam and press.
Insert the elastic
Overlap the elastic ends by about 1cm and sew together

6. With right sides together attach the sleeves to the bib body

7. Use the bias binding to finish the raw edge of the sleeve.  This is a pain in the arse fiddly process because of the tight curves.  If you hate doing this as much as I do, you may want to face the sleeves instead.

8. Stay stitch/top stitch the raglan seams sewing across the binding to secure it better.
Add caption
9. Attach domes.  Alternatively, sew a button hole and attach a button. 
10.  Go into battle!

Monday 1 July 2013

Sleepcrawling is Like Sleepwalking

When you are truly busy making, writing about making takes the back seat and keeps very very quiet.

Sweet dreams are made of these...
Merino cotton sleeping gowns
Ah, all  those lovely woolly blankets for babies.  They are a con!  Mobile babies do not sleep under blankets.  They wriggle and crawl, and sit up, and stand up, and roll, and fold in half, and recite passages from Das Kapital; all in the confines of their cot and mostly without waking up.  Sleeping under blankets is something they do not do.  At least mine doesn't, so I will assume that this fact bears true for the rest of the babykind.  We know that assumptions are an assessment necessity that keep the world turning.
Merino Kids sleep sacks
Sleep sacks are wonderful.  We were gifted a couple of good quality merino ones by our friendly neighbours before Zaika was born.  The sleep sacks are sleeveless, and I wanted to add another clothing layer that would cover the arms but would not ride up.  I sewed a couple of quick and simple sleeping gowns based on a basic onesie pattern.  The elasticated drawstrings help keep them in place.  Easy as pie...
Are you pie?

Put a sock in it...
Merino footed pants
I also made some footed pants for a friend's baby from some amazingly soft Icrebreaker merino.  Socks for babies are as much of a con as blankets.  The feet are double layer for extra warmth.  No more icicle toes.
An orca in a fruitless search of socks
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