Thursday, April 22, 2021

Sewing for a Post-Pandemic World...and Body

Hello! After two back-to-back pottery posts, I'm back on the blog to talk about sewing--specifically sewing plans once I return to the office and some of the feelings I'm experiencing in anticipation of this eventuality. Maybe some of you are having similar feelings. I like to think I'm not alone. 

In some of my previous posts, I've talked about my sewjo and my pandemic-related weight gain, and lately, I've been thinking about ways to get back into a dressing professionally for work mindset. For me, the answer (or one of them) is and always has been knits and TNTs, closely followed by treats, new fabric purchases (i.e., more treats), and sewing plans. All my answers involve fun because as far as I'm concerned, we've all been through enough this past year. Let's all just think of ways we can be good to ourselves and each other. 

Regarding my weight gain, I want to try to choose my words carefully and be VERY clear about my own feelings about my own body because I don't want to offend anyone or, conversely, invite diet/weight loss tips. I will never understand why any person feels compelled to comment on another person's body. I just don't see when or how that's ever, ever appropriate. In my life (teens all the way through to my early forties), I've received many unsolicited comments, which is why I'm seriously in awe of the young women I see around me and on social media who proudly and firmly shut that shit down. It's so inspiring and makes me wish I had a time machine and could've spoken up for myself so eloquently when I was their age. My weight naturally fluctuates, but right now I'm not feeling healthy or energetic. I've gained three inches in my waist and two in my hips, which is a lot for my 5'2" frame and my age. I still love myself. I just need to move more and do what feels right for me. I'm also going to sew for the body I have right now. And that's all I'm gonna say...about weight gain, that is. 

Knits and TNTs

In the past, whenever I've lost my sewjo, I've always turned to knits. They are easy to fit,  comfy, and the right knit and pattern combination can make me feel really great. My all-time favorite knit top is the FREE Mandy boatneck top by Tessuti. I like the balance of the loose fit with more fitted sleeves. A while back, Tessuti rebooted the pattern to be a bit more size-inclusive, but for me, the largest size feels the same as the old version. I made the XXXL (pictured above) with no changes. You can read my previous posts here and here for modeling picsI think I did scoop the neckline 1/2" so it doesn't hit me in the throat, but that's it in terms of mods. Fabric is a lovely bamboo rayon from Stonemountain that I've had in my stash for a couple of years. This will be a good top for the office. 

Treats for Me

I got tired of rethreading my Brother 1034d all the time, so I bought myself a new serger.  The thread kept breaking if I'd go even a little fast. I think it's a timing issue, but I don't really know and don't have the energy or inclination to deal with it. I'm going to give it away to someone who doesn't mind tinkering. I've had my eye on this Juki MO-644D, which might be the least expensive Juki home serger around (retails for $300 on Amazon), for a while now. It's meant for lightweight fabrics, so I wouldn't recommend it if you sew a lot of heavy canvas or denim, but I think it's fine for my light knits and seam finishing. The suction cups hold it firmly to the table, reducing shaking and rattling, and it's just SO much quieter. I can't even begin to tell you...So far, I've made three pairs of underwear and the Mandy top, and I LOVE using it. No regrets.

Fabric Purchases and Sewing Plans

Wearing office pants with a waistband isn't the only aspect of post-pandemic life I'm dreading. I'm also not looking forward to taking public transport again. SF Muni sucks and used to frustrate me on a regular basis. There are also so many unknowns about our new normal and how we'll reinhabit our space and just the general weirdness of coming out from this long sleep... but still kind of in limbo. Will I have to wear a mask all day at my desk? Will our office attendance be staggered? To be sure, we'll work it out and adapt and it will be great to see my co-workers in person again, but I thought I would make a few new things to cheer me up and combat the dread. Here are some new fabric treats and my current plans. 

Laundered linen in warm, toasty nutmeg from Stonemountain and Daughter Fabrics with the Sew House 7 Freerange Slacks. Comfy for sitting, and I always like the look of a loose top with pegged, cropped bottoms. 

Another Mandy Boatneck in blue/teal bamboo rayon from Stonemountain.

I've wanted this knit for a while. What should make with it? Another Mandy?

I bought this woven from Stonemountain, but they're currently out. I think Blackbird might have it, though. This one is a wild card since I haaaaate sewing Big4. But I fell in love with an adorable tunic version by Brittany J Jones, so I'm gonna give it a try. 

So that's me done for the night. Thanks so much for reading! Be happy and be well.

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Amazing Reglazing: Another Pottery Post


Hey, hope all is well. Here with another pottery post because I feel the need to write some words about reglazing. Also, just so you know, I don't consider my examples "amazing" as suggested by my blog post title; I just can't pass up on an opportunity to be a rhymin' Simon. 

So, one aspect of pottery that came as a surprise to me is that you can refire/reglaze your pots if you don't like how they turn out. In fact, some ceramicists refire multiple times on purpose--either as a way to experiment or to develop more depth and interest on their surfaces. From what I can gather, there are a few main caveats: 

  1. Multiple firings can cause the ceramic material to become more brittle, thus making it more fragile which is, of course, not ideal for functional ware. 
  2. To refire, you have to bring the ware at least up to the previous temp or higher. What I've done is fire the same cone, but extended the hold time. 
  3. It's a bit of a crapshoot in that it can also make a pot look worse. I'm learning to spend a little time with my pieces after they come out of the kiln instead of putting them right back in. Sometimes, I grow to appreciate the slips and drips after a few days. 
  4. If your glaze is slick and shiny, you will have to figure out a way to get the wet glaze to adhere. I've only had some success with cheap hairspray, which gives the surface a little tooth. Some other suggestions I've read about include spray starch (didn't work for me) and warming the pot with a torch. 
Here are a few pieces that worked out pretty well (albeit not "AMAZING") after reglazing and refiring. 

Both of these are early pieces that I worked on before my kiln even arrived and I was just learning about glazing. Both involve underglazes which I have yet to really figure out. I want to use them to expand my possibilities, but I still haven't figured out how and most of my projects that involve underglaze have yielded disappointing results. 

When I started out, I had a fuzzy, ill-formed idea of how I wanted my surfaces to look. I wanted them to look beautiful and amazing, but I couldn't really give you specifics of what that looked like to me. The closest I can come to describing it is kind of a push/pull happening with the foreground and background and seeing washes or hints of underpainting underneath an overall color. Reglazing, making more pots, experimenting, and even writing this blog post all help me to visualize what I'm after. 

In the top example, the white and blue vase, I used underpainting all over with blues and greens--really went to town!--and then made stencils to mask out the simple triangle shapes. I ended up horrified with the initial result (right side image). I didn't realize that the blue and green underglaze underneath the white satin matte glaze would travel to the surface and look so splotchy and sloppy.  That was my first big lesson: shit moves around when firing. And I also discovered that I'm not a big fan of the Amaco brush-on satin matte glazes--at least not in the way I'm using them. It reminds me of the chalky, stark white used in primer coats for house paint, or like gesso. For the final result, I refired and glazed two times with a gloss white. Here's another closeup. Now I have something I can live with, that looks more interesting when I pick it up and look at it more closely--like there's something hidden below the surface.  And bonus, since it's an early piece, it's so freaking heavy I can use it for self-defense if there's ever an intruder. 

The second example, the pink and yellow canister, also took two additional firings of a white gloss to mitigate the horrific pink and yellow results of the underglaze. The story is pretty much the same: I had to reglaze and refire twice because the first refiring made the piece glossy but the white just sort of dissolved and sunk in and didn't provide any coverage. I like how the final glazing made the surface look somewhat iridescent. Beej has turned it into a useful catch-all container for kitchen stuff.

So, yeah, neither of these pieces are gonna set the world on fire, but I was able to get them to a place where I could live with them. I'm trying to balance my need to practice and experiment in order to make better pots with the consequences of having more stuff to either use or give away. I don't want to smash pieces that took resources and energy and create a bunch of broken crockery for the landfills. My solar-powered kiln is quite small, and I'm finding that limitation kind of a blessing in that it slows me down so that my enthusiastic maker-self doesn't get too carried away. I can only make a few pieces at a time.

Most importantly, though, the reglazing experimentation and research taught me a bit about the nature of glazes and now I can move forward with some knowledge and experience. I've got so many millions of other things to say about pottery and art and finding my own way of creating unique and interesting surfaces, but my break for lunch is over and I should get back to my real work--the stuff that pays the bills.

Have a fantastic week, whatever you do. Make time for exploration and curiosity, make time for yourself. 

Monday, March 22, 2021

Glaze Expectations: A Pottery Post

Hello! It's spring here, the flowers are in bloom, and I look forward to being vaccinated soon. I always love the beginning of spring, but after all that's happened in just a little over a year, I'm feeling an even stronger sense of renewal and hope than usual. Not much longer to go, I think...I hope...

While I wouldn't say I've completely lost my sewjo, I definitely haven't felt as inclined to make clothes. For one, there is the extra pandemic weight I've put on that puts me off making new clothes. Not beating myself up or anything, just being honest: Like quite a lot of people, a year of being less active and eating for comfort has caught up with me. The other reason for less sewing is, of course, devoting more of my spare time to my recent pottery obsession. I've derived so much comfort and pleasure from working with clay, and now it's become something I can't imagine not doing. 

I toyed with the idea of starting a pottery blog to record my thoughts and experiences with clay, and maybe down the road I actually will. But, for now, I think I will just make a note in the title when I'm here to talk about pottery.

The biggest learning curve for me so far has been glazing and adjusting my expectations for how a piece will look. To start, a lot of glazes look completely different when wet. I still sketch with Procreate to get my brain going, but I know that, even with test tiles, there is a bit of surrender that happens once something goes into the kiln. Of course, that's also part of the thrill. I'm currently trying to balance the delight and excitement I feel in experimentation with giving thought and intention to each item so I'm not bringing a lot of random stuff into a world already filled to the brim with stuff.

I'll start by sharing some pieces that I only had to glaze once that I'm pretty pleased with. Note: all my pottery is handbuilt (I don't have a wheel and I like the look of hand-built ware) and I'm only using brush-on commercial glazes for now. 

Clockwise from top left:
Coil Bowl with Wax Resist and Scgraffito. This is the biggest bowl I've made, and it's surprisingly light (for stoneware). I enjoy wax resist quite a lot--especially with the kind of simple designs I'm drawn to. It's a good technique if you don't want your glazes to run together, or if you like the look of the bare, fired clay body you happen to be using. This is cone 5 speckled buff, which is my favorite with a black gloss from Western and Amaco Indigo Float. 

Slab Bowl with Layered Glaze. This one was fired with two coats of Western Celadon and two coats of Amaco Frosted Turquoise on a cone 5 white stoneware clay. In this case, I included a few test tiles where I layered two different glazes in an earlier firing, which helped me decide how I wanted to glaze this. I think this is a good practice, and now I always try to remember to include a couple of test tiles with little experiments. 

Pinch Pot with Feet. I've named this sweet little guy Julio. Like many of my early pinch pots, Julio is a bit heavy, but it's good for planters to be sturdy, right? Here, I carved the pot in greenware stage (carving is kind of addictive). Then I tried to go for a sunset effect by gradating-the yellow, orange, and purple glaze for a little Tequila Sunrise. (Totally had that song in my head the whole time.) Then I went in and scraped the glaze out from the recessed areas. This worked pretty well in that I was successful in the glazes not running together too much. Sometimes I want that--but not with orange and purple because I think mixing could look a little muddy since they're opposites on the color wheel.

Pinch Mug for Beej. This is probably the least experimental--more of an accumulation of techniques I'm learning--so there were no surprises. However, I LOVE how this turned out. If you want to learn how to make this mug, go to YouTube and type in "Still Life Ceramics, pinch mug" for a free tutorial. Gina is a great teacher, and her work is inspiring, modern, approachable, and utterly charming. I'm signed up for some intermediate zoom classes next month and can't wait. I bought some lower case stamping letters and am making a number of personalized mugs for friends. Great gift, right? To make, I carved and stamped at the greenware stage, bisque fired, added underglaze to the text and wiped away, and then applied wax to the area where you see the bare clay. 

Well, I was planning to write more about some projects that required multiple firing, but this post is already a bit long and I'm cooking dinner at the same time. I'll write the second part a bit later. 

Thanks for reading. Be well!

Saturday, February 27, 2021

Grainline Tamarack: What the World Needs Now


Hello! Hope that wherever you are, you're doing very, very well. It's hard not to feel cautiously optimistic these days with the vaccine becoming more readily available and spring on its way here in the Northern Hemisphere.  

I'm super excited to finally get to blog my brand spanking new project: the sewing world-famous Tamarack Jacket by Grainline Studio. How did Jen of Grainline know way back in 2017 that the world would need to wrap itself in a quilt right now? 

I actually don't sew a lot of Grainline patterns, mainly because they're drafted for B-cup, but I've always liked the aesthetic. And now that they've extended their sizing, I just may have to give the  Scout Tee a try. I love basics, and it looks infinitely hackable. Also, the extended pattern is offered in PAPER! Being relegated to PDF-only in the larger sizes is one of my pet peeves. 

Okay, so about this jacket...where do I start? I think I started working on it a little over a month ago. It doesn't take nearly that long to make, but I was still figuring out what exactly I wanted to do for the quilting, color scheme, and gathering scraps. I took my time, working on Saturday and Sunday evenings while working on pottery projects during the day.  I made two purchases after Christmas that inadvertently helped me figure out my jacket gameplan: 501 Rotary-Cut Quilt Blocks, by Judy Hopkins, and a 12.5 square quilting ruler.  The book has measurements for each block in 6 different sizes. The possibilities! The ruler just makes it easier and faster to cut multiple squares rather than the cardboard templates I'm used to making. I went for a classic Sawtooth Star in the 12-inch size. Once I had figured out the colors for my star, everything else started to fall into place. 

Okay, onto fabric: I shopped my stash and used some of the lovely black linen I bought from Elisabeth Suzann last year. The inside is pieced out of the same blue scraps I used for my star, as well as some black linen scraps. For the sleeves, I used a black and white, geometric-patterned silk (pictured below) that was smooth enough to slide my arms into easily. I also like that the triangles reminded me of quilting motifs. 

Speaking of quilting motifs, one of my favorite details is something I don't think many people will notice. I incorporated 6-inch sawtooth stars in the patch pockets. I made them all black, though, because I wanted it to be a subtle way to repeat the star on the back. It's also a great way to use up some of the smaller, odd-size scraps. I'm additionally glad that I kept it subtle because piecing small scraps of linen is a pain, and they're not my best work. But, hey, they're still cute!

As far as the pattern goes it is top-notch, and I benefited from four years of it being a popular pattern and took advice from many sewing bloggers. For example, I opted out of welt pockets as that was a common caveat.  I ended up really liking my oversized patch pockets much better. They are deep and comfy, and I don't have pocket bags flapping around on the inside.  I also strayed from the directions in that I quilted blocks of fabric and then cut my pattern pieces from the blocks. The instructions have you quilt the individual pieces but I'm not good enough at quilting to maintain accuracy that way. I ended up having to unpick some of the quilted scraps to piece together my pockets and reduced fabric waste that way.  

And here's an "action shot" of me loving life in my Tamarack. It's great to wear for a walk after work. The large pockets make it unnecessary to carry a purse, and it's warm enough when the wind picks up and the sun begins to set. Now I just need a dog for the perfect after-work walk. I would keep my jacket by the door, next to a leash and poop bags, and be ready to go. Sigh, now I'm wishing I had a dog. 

Here are a few more sizing details and notes.

  • Size 18, Version B which includes an overlapping placket for buttons or snaps, although I didn't add any closures. 
  • No FBA and no muslin. I was really rolling the dice there. I looked at SewManju's version for sizing and sewed a straight size 18 but added 1/2 inch to the sides of the front and back and to the sleeve sides.
  • As usual, I shortened the sleeves by an inch. I have them rolled up for my pictures, but that's just because I like the look of the contrasting cuffs. 
  • I shortened the back to be the same as the front. Overall, I like the sizing. It's roomy enough for outerwear, but it doesn't swim on me. The only thing I would change if I ever made a second version is to do a narrow shoulder adjustment. The shoulders are just a teensy bit too wide. 
  • The pattern calls for several yards of bias tape which you can make yourself. I enjoy making bias tape for smaller projects but five yards--aw, hell no! Black is easy enough to match and the stiffness of store-bought tape isn't such an issue for a structured jacket. 
  • ETA: I forgot to mention that I changed the angle of the neckline to be more of V shape. I thought that would be more flattering for my curvy frame. To do this, I simply folded down the corner of the neckline on the front pattern piece. 
So I think I've said everything I can think of about my new jacket. If you can't tell by my review, I really love it. It's cozy but not sloppy, with some nice customization that makes it feels special.

Thanks for reading! Be well. 

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Suki Robe: Mrs. Roper's Technicolor Dreamcoat


Hello! Feels like forever since I last blogged. Hope all is well in your world right now.  

Glad I'm finally getting around to documenting my Suki robe, by Helen's Closet, because I'm particularly proud of it. Also, isn't loungewear perfect for the current state of the world? Not only because we're all staying home all the time, but also because wearing a lovely robe feels like an act of self-care--like giving yourself a facial or lighting candles. 

I love an opportunity to combine fabrics, but it can be tricky to pair the right ones. You have to consider color, obviously, but also substrate, weight, and proportion. I've had some disappointing results, but THIS I truly love. And since it's a robe, how fortunate that I get to wear it every day!

Let's talk about the fabric first: The multi-colored fabric is a very fine quality linen from Britex, and the striped fabric is a lovely linen gauze from Britex (oops, I meant Blackbird Fabrics for the striped gauze). Finally, the black waist tie, neck, and sleeve bands are the last of my linen/cotton crinkled fabric leftover from a pair of Emersons I made for a 2018 vacation in France. I bought the fancy linen around five years ago, and I think it's still one of the priciest pieces of fabric I've bought--maybe around fifty dollars a yard, I can't remember exactly. Usual story: I had a gift certificate and it just jumped out at me. How could it not? It's got a bazillion colors! But since it was so pricey, I only bought a yard, which doesn't yield a whole lot of options. I'm glad that I waited and didn't make a simple short-sleeve top like the Seamwork Bo or CCP Pietra because then it would have been just everyday clothes, not special. The striped linen is like its soul mate; they go so well together with the stripes operating like a neutral to combat all the stylized floral, patterned craziness, the Mrs. Roper caftan look. 

Okay, now can we talk more about mixing prints? I was nervous about cutting into my fancy linen and then getting it terribly wrong, so I opted to keep it simple. I also looked at sewists who do a lot of patchwork like this amazing designer @aluma_handmade and tried to analyze what I thought was effective. Finally, since I love sketching project ideas with Procreate, I traced over the illustration from the pattern packet to see where I wanted the prints to fall. 

Because I had had some large pieces of both prints, I didn't break up the pattern pieces too much. I knew I wanted the bodice fabric/pattern to stay intact and extend past my waist to my low hip--kind of like a vintage bathing suit. I also knew I wanted to extend the bodice pattern past the shoulder to the top part of the sleeves, which was easy enough. Just fold back to where you want and add the 1/2 inch seam allowance. I thought this would lend more of an elegant sweep to the sleeve. The pattern is so crazy, I never worried about pattern matching. I just tried to avoid "flower boob" in my placement, which you can see a bit of but thankfully only on one side. 

Okay, here are just a few more details, and then I promise to stop gushing about my robe. :)
  • Size: the largest, I think XXL. I did not have the resized/curvy version. I don't know if that's available to folks who purchased before the update, but I don't have access to printing out patterns now that I'm WFH anyway. I made up version B--AKA, the shorter version--but it ended up a wee bit longer because I added a section. So now it's more like version A. 
  • Fit: While there is full coverage, it's not a super voluminous robe. Of course, the fit might have been different had I sewn up the curvy reboot. 
  • This robe has lots of nice, practical details like the hanging loop, the inner tie for modesty, and the waist ties stitched into the back. Speaking of waist ties, I did lengthen them by a whopping 8 inches both for the look of a long tie and because I'm thick waisted. 
  • Every single join is french seamed. Even the inline pockets! I used this tutorial from the Foldline.
  • I preferred the look of the collar extended to the bottom instead of squaring off. There's a tutorial on Helen's website for this. 
  • Linen is really just the most magical fabric. I'm used to thick terry robes, so I was worried this wouldn't hold up getting out of the shower, but it's plenty absorbent. And, bonus, unlike my terry robe, I can fit this in my suitcase...whenever I can take an actual trip somewhere...
So that's all I can think of to say about my Suki robe. So glad I finally got around to making this fun pattern and sewing up this pretty fabric. 

Finally, since I never got around to posting my Top/Bottom Five, 2020 being what it was, I chose my Top Nine on Instagram. Here, in no particular order, are my favorite 2020 makes. 

Quilted Pillow cover for my bed; a linen Wiksten; an improv quilt top; pottery apron from old jeans; a brown linen Zadie jumpsuit; pinched ceramic dishes; a wall quilt to remind me of Lake Tahoe, one of my favorite places in the world; some hand-formed ceramic vases; my favorite hand formed bowl (AKA, my popcorn bowl)

Here's another pic of my Tahoe quilt that shows the whole thing. It's made entirely of scraps from my garment sewing projects, including a knit (albeit a very stable one) for the night sky. I'm definitely committed to more scrappy projects like this for 2021.

Well, like so many, I'm pretty happy to see the back end of 2020. Here's hoping that 2021 will bring us all much-needed healing and hope. Take care and stay healthy, fellow makers!

Monday, November 23, 2020

A Little Sewing but Mostly Pottery


Hello! Hope all is well in your world. As my blog title indicates, I've been doing lots of making but not so much sewing. I'll run through the sewing part first. 

Except for a few pairs of underwear, this is pretty much it. Notice a theme here? Working from home, there just isn't much point to dressing up or making new clothes.  All I ever wear is sweats anyway, and I've even been known to work in my pjs occasionally. As a result, those are the only clothes that are wearing out. The oven mitts were a thank you gift for a friend who helped me set up my ceramic studio. 

Here's a quick rundown (clockwise from top):

  1. First, we have the perennial favorite Bombazine Mitts. If you've never made these before, I recommend heading straight over to the Bombazine site and downloading this FREE pattern. It's such a great scrapbuster and opportunity to practice quilting. I love giving these as hostess gifts. Remember dinner parties? We're always thrashing our mitts around here, so I'm going to try to squeeze in another pair for myself before the major Thanksgiving cooking this week. 
  2. After six years, I finally made another pair of Hudson Pants by True Bias. I had to dig way back into the Duckndam archives to find my sewing notes. Basically, if you're short like me (5'2"), primarily in the legs, be prepared to wack off some length. I shortened the leg by 4.5 inches. Fabric is a WONDERFUL french terry from Stonemountain Fabrics. 
  3. Yet another pair of Carolyn PJs by Closet Core Patterns. Another SBC favorite. This is my 3rd set, and I always forget how involved this project is. The best tip ever: Someone on instagram said they made the top first to get the labor-intensive part out to the way. Why did I never think of that?  Here are my original sewing notes.  Adjustments are the same. The only difference is that I made my bias tape (not piping) from scraps instead of using store-bought and avoided the buttonholes entirely by sewing the buttons through since the top just slips over my head. Fabric is a swiss dot from Fabric Outlet that was already in my stash. 
  4. An improv quilted pillow top from lots of linen scraps. I really do love improv quilting, mostly because I hate any kind of math. It's just a simple envelope pillow cover. And even after making this pillow and my mitts, I STILL have a few bits of linen left. Crazy.
So that's my sewing for the past few months in a nutshell. Like I said, no place to go and no need for new clothes. Instead, I've spent a lot of time watching pottery videos on Youtube (lots of ceramics teachers on lockdown), learning new skills, and making pots. 

I took a couple of ceramics classes a few years back and always intended to take more, but then I would get busy with work. The timing was never quite right. Honestly, if we hadn't been quarantined, I probably wouldn't have set up a studio and taken the step of purchasing a kiln, although I'm glad I did. I've really needed something to take my mind off the pandemic. Also, the election was hell. So much ugliness and dishonesty. I don't get into politics very much here, but, yeah, I hate Trump. He's horrible. Anyway, working with clay has been very therapeutic in a way that sewing hasn't. Perhaps because of the type of sewer I am--i.e., not challenging myself too much--it's easier to sew on autopilot. With ceramics, there's so much to learn and seemingly limitless possibilities. It reminds me of when I first started sewing and wanted to learn how to do everything. I go to bed at night thinking about all the things I want to try to make with clay. 

Here are some of the things I've been making. I'm only handbuilding right now--not sure yet if I want to buy a wheel.  Lots of first-time efforts, lots of overly-heavy bowls and vases. ;)

Clockwise from top left:
  1. A wonky planter made for Beej and my first go at wax resist. Glaze is Amaco Umber float. I'm currently working on a couple more using this technique and pattern. 
  2. My first glaze fire was to test tiles. I decided to use shapes and turn them into a wall hanging. My idea is that I can easily swap out the shapes and change it up whenever I feel like it. 
  3. This bowl was formed at the base by pinching, followed by coils for height. Inside glaze is beautiful (Amaco Toasted Sage); outside, meh (Iron Luster, I think. quite transparent brown).
  4. These two vases were made by attaching two hump molds (an old Ikea bowl). I love their round, chubby shape. The little one is glazed with Amaco Turquoise Float, but it's a bit flat.  The larger version was underglazed in red, carved and textured with a bath scrubby, and glazed with Amaco Deep Firebrick. I'm actually not all that thrilled with the Amaco glazes, but I had bought a set and have been experimenting. 
Here are my favorites so far. 

 The top is another hump mold with a stem added. Glaze is Amaco Blue Stone, which is my favorite of the Amaco Potter's Choice collection.  Bottom two are pinched dishes with a gorgeous Speckled Coral by Western. They turned out delicate but also surprisingly sturdy. I love pinching. I've actually started to keep a ball of clay next to my computer for when I get stressed with work (or bored in a meeting, lol). I find it really soothing. 

So there you go-- a little sewing but mostly pottery. There will be more ceramics posting. Funny, I haven't discovered an online potter community in the blogosphere quite yet. Lots on Instagram but mostly professionals. I'm looking forward to learning more. Right now, I'm just feeling my way around, trying new techniques like carving (scgraffito), underglazes, etc. I would like to find a direction and just pursue it instead of all the dabbling--my pots all look so different!--but maybe that will come in time. 

Are there any sewists out there who also make pots? I've been following Jasika's pottery journey with great interest. Anyone else out there I should know about? Or any recommended pottery blogs? Have you discovered any new interests during this strange and unique year?

Thanks so much for reading. (I know it was a lot!) I've got more to say about ceramics, but I think I'll hold off for another time. This was a long one. 

Stay healthy and safe, stay home, take care!        

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

2020 Summer Recap

Hey there. I just realized recently that I never blogged once this summer. Because I like to look back at my makes and memories, I'm going to post a catch-up of some things I made over the summer. There are a couple of items to be blogged later that I'd like to get modeling pics of because I know that's helpful, particularly for curvy/plus sewists like me. But I'm going to wait until after my cut and color on Oct. 3rd. Seriously, my hair looks like ass since it's grown out so much, and it was kinda the only thing that was making me feel cute. 

Like most, I spent the summer socially distancing and staying at home or very close to it. However, we did take a week off in August and rented a cabin at Lake Tahoe which was wonderfully peaceful. 

That's where I took this instagrammish (#quiltsinthewild) pic of my most recent improv quilt top. I loved working on this, the whole process of sorting through fabric colors, making sketches, and revising as I went along. I'm also really proud that it's made entirely out of linen scraps from various garment sewing projects. I still have to quilt this, but since my friends had to postpone their wedding plans, I have some time to procrastinate. By the way, Beej is the best insta-husband ever for getting up on that rock to hold up my quilt. 

Speaking of Beej, we celebrated our 12-year wedding anniversary this summer. To my utter delight, I discovered that year 12 is linen. Score! The pattern is the Men's Tropical Shirt by Wardrobe By Me, which I've blogged about here if you would like more details. I like this pattern because it fits him straight out of the envelope and suits his casual style. The fabric is 100% linen from Elizabeth Suzann. The pocket patch is the Eye of Agamotto--a Dr. Strange thing that he already had in his vast collection of comic book memorabilia. His geek-friends thought it was pretty cool. 

And to no one's surprise ever, I made myself some underpants. These are the Frankie Pants from Evie La Luve, which are my current fave. Not too big, not too small, and they don't ride up or migrate south. They also don't use very much fabric. I managed to get four pairs out of one decent-sized scrap (less than a yard) of bamboo rayon. Admittedly, that's a lot of stripy underwear for one person. I'm slowly chiseling away at the three bins of fabric scraps I blogged about here

And speaking of using up scraps, I made this denim apron from a couple of pairs of jeans and a scrap of dark denim in my bin. This was a lot of fun to make and solved the conundrum of what to do with stretch denim.  It's a cafe apron that doubles over in the back. I could almost get away with wearing it as a dress but wouldn't dare because...middle age. I made this for my latest obsession, ceramics. We got rid of our car earlier this year, which left lots of room in the garage to set up a pottery and enameling studio. Happy to say that this apron is already smeared with clay. 

So that's most of what I've been up to lately. Bummed about the state of the world but trying to keep my spirits up at home by making things and exploring interests. I hope you had a great or at least peaceful and interesting summer. Thanks for reading!