Sunday 22 September 2013

Stiched Up Is Open For Business

Chromatophobic now has a new page: Stitched Up Alterations.  It was an idea that sprouted from a throw away comment at an alarming pace.  

A couple of weeks ago a vertically challenged friend asked me to hem some of her pricey trousers and change some pockets and fastenings.  Sweet.  Done.  Easy as pie.  This was followed by a suggestion of generating similar work: "Create a quick flier, and I'll stick it up at work."  A "quick flier" amplified into, well, all of this because there's not much point in doing things by halves.

I decided to create two versions of the poster: one black, one white.  This came about from many a poster mission in days long gone, where I noticed that some noticeboards would be filled with mostly dark graphics, and others - mostly light.  I figured that having the light/dark option would maximise the chances of standing out on a crowded board.

The fliers were stitched in a long garland

All that's left to do is sticking up the fliers in appropriate places.

The funny/sad/utterly mundane thing is that this wasn't the first time that someone proposed I start an alterations/repair service.  I'd dismissed the concept for a long list of reasons, most of which have been pounded out of existence since then.

Saturday 21 September 2013

Etsy Face Update

After updating the blog banner, I figured that my Etsy shop requires the same treatment.
Out with the old

In with the new

Friday 20 September 2013

The Jam Jar Interview

Snoork is grinning from the front page of the Jam Jar magazine
Snoork drooling in the middle
Chromatophobic is the feature of their latest post with photos of Waffle, bibs, earrings and cufflinks.  Thanks, Jam Jar!

Thursday 19 September 2013

Eeyore of the Soviet Era

"It's snowing still," said Eeyore gloomily.
"So it is."
"And freezing."
"Is it?"
"Yes," said Eeyore. "However," he said, brightening up a little, "we haven't had an earthquake lately."

Having grown up with the Soviet (unauthorised) interpretation of Winnie the Pooh, I'm not really familiar with the original or the better known Disney version.  I've been subjected to the latter on occasion, and have a fairly low opinion of it, but level of quirkiness in Milne's original is pretty endearing from what I've seen.  I wonder if the Soviet Eeyore is even more depressed as a reflection of the national morale.

I do quite like the gloomy Eeyore, so I decided to let him spread some melancholy via a bright green merino top.  The cheerful green adequately offsets donkey gloom.
Donkey gloom clearly not contageous

Wednesday 18 September 2013

Updated Blog Banner

Sometimes you get so caught up in the way you operate that you can't see the body for the organs. 

It helps to have a fresh pair of eyes on hand to extract someone else's critical perspective.  Luckily my eye jar is is pretty full; it's great to be surrounded by talented, creative people who are generous with their knowledge.  One such talented, creative person eyeballed my site and advised that the blog banner was in need of not so much a facelift, but some comprehensive liposuction.  A few surgical tweaks later, a leaner, trimmer blog header is here. 

Monday 16 September 2013

Vintage Motorcycle Prints

Ken's not much of an artist, but he's pretty apt at drawing motorcycles (and even better at modifying them).  A while back I turned one of his bike sketches into a screen for printing.  First I printed Ken a t-shirt, then the bike found its way onto a bib that was sewn from scrap bits of fabric, and now the two-wheeler is shimmering in silver on a bright yellow merino sweater. 
Riding into the yellow sunset

Freshly minted bib before the food battle badges

Thursday 12 September 2013

Kids' Bean Bag With Pockets Tutorial

Bean bags aren't cheap to buy, but they are easy to make.  If you have old curtains or sheets that need a new life, a bean bag is a worthwhile project to make use of them.  It's a pretty straight forward, though somewhat dull construction process.  There are lots of long, straight seams, and metres of material to manage, but it's not much effort to add details that break the making monotony.
Made from a curtain
Now I don't usually do things on a whim.  I'm what one would call "pretty boring".  Spontaneous isn't my style.  So I'm still scratching my head about how I managed to have a bag of polystyrene beans mere hours after deciding that Zaika was in need of a bean bag.

Even a hoarder like me didn't have the filling taking up some valueless underbed space. We had to pay for the beans.  With money.  Crap.  My extensive experience as a reluctant, nocturnal bean bag assessor in my student days told me that the super-static, ever spilling styro-beans were by far superior to any other forms of filling, such as foam, soft toys and styro-packaging.
Styro beans
There was no way my frugal brain would let me buy fabric in addition to the beans.  That would make the project more expensive than buying the beanbag itself.  No worries, I have piles of material.  I needed fabric that was large enough and strong enough for the project.  I turned to my Ugghhh box.  It's the stash of pretty unappealing fabrics that I  keep just in case they will come in handy for prototyping, etc.  The Ugghhh box is full of ugly fabric ducklings.  I figured that the bean bag was a good opportunity to use up some of my crap fabric.

It didn't take long to find what I was looking for: old curtains.  The textile was the epitome of boring.  Myth Busters proved that you can, indeed, polish a turd, so I decided to test my turd polishing skills with this skull numbingly dull fabric. Still, at least you can add to dull.  You can't take away from garish.  It's like ignorance vs stupidity: one is fixable.
Outer curtain fabric in some non-descript grey hue and a brown stretch canvas liner fabric

Project supplies:
  • about 2.5m of strong, breathable liner fabric (like a bed sheet)
  • about 2.5m of strong, breathable, easy to wash outer fabric (like an old curtain)
  • 35-40l of filler beans
  • strong thread
  • 2 x 46cm locking zips (they can only be pulled open when the zip tab is lifted up).  Alternatively you can remove the tabs with pliers, permanently and use a paper clip to open the zip whenever you need to remove the cover for washing
  • Velcro or domes for the zip flap
  • paper, ruler and pencil for drawing the pattern
I found a free pattern here and chuckled at the 90's style instructional photography.  The tutorial is pretty passable, but I made a few adjustments that are worthy of note.

Firstly I added a couple of Grimly adorned side pockets.  Ok, they aren't terrifically useful, but they do take the attention away from the fabric.  In the case of this bean bag, less was never going to be more.  To make pockets, you need to attach them to the panels before joining the panels together.  For the pocket pattern, I cut/folded the panel pattern in half, which gave me perfectly matching seams.
Two panels with pockets sewn on before assembly of the panels.
A more important adjustment was creating a secure zip closure.  If you're making a bean bag for a little person, it's really not a good idea to let the styro beans spill everywhere.  It's essential to make sure that sneaky little hands can't get into the beans.  Locking zips (or tabless zips) help, but I opted for an additional security flap on the outer bag.  An integrated flap is the easiest option, as well as the most refined one.  However, I didn't get fed the idea until the zip was already sewn in, so I attached a separately sewn flap.

1. Cut a strip of fabric 10cm wide x 46 cm long.  Fold in half lenghtwise and press flat.  Sew over one of the zip seams with the raw edges facing the zip.

2.  Fold the flap over the zip and press

3. Top stitch over the fold.  The stitching should be overlapping or be close to the zip seam.

 4. Sew on Velcro or add domes to the flap.

This was the reason for making the bag
The bag was milk-stained within a week
The pocket is superficially useful after all
Additional construction and design notes:
  • Don't skip the top stitching on any of the seams.  The seams will be much weaker without it.
  • Press all the seams for the same reason.  This was boring even for me.
  • You will have to occasionally remove the cover for washing.   I would imagine that attempts at getting the bean-filled liner back inside the cover will make you swear profusely.  If I were to make a bean bag of this style again, I would either include a longer zip in one of the side seams or sew the zip around the bottom circle panel and make that panel zip off completely.

Wednesday 11 September 2013

Animal Doodles Printed on Clothing

Nowadays most animals I draw have googly, bloodshot eyes that gaze creepily in different directions, but back in high school art was serious business, and I spent hours sketching various breeds of dogs, mice, birds and primates. 

That was back in the pre-digital age, which seems almost unimaginable now.  My cumbersome art folios are still mostly in existence, gathering dust in the attic.  Luckily years ago I had the foresight to digitise the images, and the other day it occured to me that I can print them on t-shirts.   Why did I not think of that earlier...

I printed of the the chimps because I think chimps are the greatest.  Now I just need to find some poop to fling around to complete the bonding ritual.
Chimpalicious kid's t-shirt

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