Saturday, January 30, 2010

Adventures with sewing leather!

Today I had my first experiences sewing with leather!

I have an aging leather jacket that I bought at a vintage store that was closing down - for about $3, and I love it to pieces. It is a lovely golden shade of brown, and the leather is the softest I have ever touched. It is my go-to jacket for just about everything, but sadly it has started to collect rips. It was old when I got it, but it's getting to the point that I can't ignore it anymore.

And then the other day, a button fell off. Now, I could easily sew that button back on, but I have chosen to take this as a sign that it is time for that leather jacket to be put out of its misery. But, at the same time, I can't bear to let it go. I love that jacket so much, and so many parts of the leather are still good. So, I have decided to cut it up and make it into something new.

But, before I cut into my favorite jacket, I needed to find out if I could sew leather with my 30ish year old sewing machine. And so it was that I made my way down to Dressew to purchase a handful of small leather scraps for practice. Here are a few things I learned along the way:

-Dusting the plate, presser foot, and your work with baby powder makes things much easier. Seriously, it made a huge difference to how the leather slipped under the needle.

-Keep the stitch-length long. I was practically using a baste stitch. If the stitch is too short, the leather falls apart along the sewing line. Think perforated paper.

-I had to keep my speed up for the machine to have enough power to penetrate the leather. It needed the extra momentum I guess. This meant that any detailed areas or corners took a little extra effort, especially since the long stitch length meant the needle was moving extra fast. I have heard that you can lubricate the needle, either with commercial needle lubricant or, barring that, with whatever lotion you have lying around. I will try that next time.

-Buy a leather needle!!!

Other than that, my little project was fun, and done in a flash! I made a black and white leather cuff, attached with velcro and lined with fleece for comfort. It's very warm on my wrist... I'm thinking my jacket will probably become a nice new purse in the near future.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Not your average knit/crochet blog

I found the most hilarious blog today and I just had to share it. It's called Handmade by Mother, and in it Victoria Dunn posts entire vintage knit and crochet patterns.

But beware, these are not your everyday patterns...

And the commentary on the patterns is freakin' hilarious.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The beginning of holiday catch up, crochet and furoshiki!

So, I have to admit to running away from my computer lately. A combination of neck trouble and not wanting work to be able to reach me has caused me to leave my laptop on the floor gathering dust a good amount of the time.

This is not to say that I havn't been crafting. Au contraire. I think because of my reduced hours at work (and the lack of computer time) I have really been getting back into crafting - especially sewing and knitting. I also got this lovely book as a Christmas gift and taught myself to crochet over the holidays, something I have always wanted to do.

Crochet amazes me. Perhaps it was because of my knitting experience, but I was amazed at how quick it was to learn. Also, it was incredible how quickly I could put together a finished project! I made a few pairs of slippers for friends and family over the holidays, embellishing them with flowers. I found an old Threadbanger video on how to make the flowers, and it was so fast and they turned out so cute!

I was so excited to give them to my boyfriend's mom, I even forgot to take pictures...

Something else I was really getting into over the holidays is furoshiki, or the japanese art of wrapping things with folded fabric. I love the concept, because I hate throwing out tons of wrapping after the holidays. What I loved about doing it was how fast it went. After practicing a couple of times, I could wrap a gift in only a few seconds.

And you can do it cheaply as well! I bought polyester lining at Dressew for $2/metre, which is more than enough for two average sized gifts, and the shine of it looked so nice under the tree! I didn't even finish the edges - just ripped off any loose threads. You don't need to add bows or ribbon, as these features are generally built into the way the gift is wrapped. The only thing to worry about are gift tags, but I'll go into that in a later post. My favourite wrapping style quickly became this orchid wrap I found on youtube, as I am slightly obsessed with orchids.

Jenn Playford has a lovely book on the subject called Wrapagami. It goes over everything from how to make the fabric squares to various inventive and adorable ways to use them for gifts! She even has her own youtube site with many how-to videos for the wrapping techniques. I love it!

And, to top it all off, since I'm the only one who knows how to do this wrapping now (even though I offered to teach), everyone gave me back the fabric to use again and again. Take that, disposable paper wrapping!