I’ve been somewhat in the creative doldrums recently. It’s funny how quickly apathy can spread through all parts of your life; there’s the blank pages in my sketch book, the blank pages in my note book, the empty blog post, the long overdue email I can’t write, the first paragraph of the book that I just can’t seem to get past – and they’re all mocking me. If you have ever given in to the desire to clean or bake when there’s a deadline looming then you know that the feeling of wasting time is fused with anxiety and frustration.
Bearing that in mind then it’s interesting that my first creative break in a while should be time- themed.
Last weekend I picked up a some collage paper collected together by artist Anthony Zinonos. I have bought one of these little collections of collage papers before (they are available to buy on his website) and found them to be quite inspiring and a good starting point for new projects. These little packs are good for if you don’t have the patience, or know where to start looking for interesting paper. Also good for seasoned creative types for whom this is the adult equivalent of a lucky dip, well deserving of irrational childhood excitement. From experience I know that once you start scrapbooking or creating collage art suddenly you start acquiring stamps and tickets and other interesting bits and pieces from everywhere, the materials start to breed and you stop being able to close your drawers.
I quite like the work of Anthony Zinonos, but my plans for the paper were quite different. The first thing I did was to lay out all the pieces on the floor to see what goodies I had and start thinking about how to use them.
I think if there had been a spare white wall going I would have been tempted to just stick everything up because I thought it all looked great already, that’s not really engaging my creativity though! What I actually ended up doing was using the graph paper and sewing up a fake graph:
I stuck this into a small Moleskine notebook with the idea of creating a scrapbook. The next page I created was a clear follow on colour/theme wise:
I actually went to buy a copy of the Financial Times specifically for this, to get the printed shares and the specific orange colour. Buying the Financial Times to turn into an project is exactly the sort of financial backwards that seems to follow me around! It looks great here though. I thought a bit of a theme was developing, so here is what I have created so far:
As you can see the collage papers were just a starting point and I had to go in search of specific things I wanted after a certain point. It’s always quite difficult to showcase a book as it can be quite laborious to photograph every page so I also made a video, but now I think this gallery works better. Books are difficult things to exhibit in galleries, they always seem to opt for turning a page every week or so (so you would have to visit a lot to see the whole thing!) The sort of scrapbook I’m working on is also quite a tactile object and I think that gets lost in the photographs, the best way to see it is really to flick through it so you can enjoy the different textures of the paper, thread, ink painting and especially the coin rubbings. If you have ever seen hand illuminated manuscripts in galleries or museums then you will know what I am talking about, the gilded scroll work always appears slightly raised, a delightful feature that you completely miss in photographs or prints.
I mentioned before that I managed to pick up a mixed bag of old stamps from an antiques fair last year. The same stall was also selling bags of outdated currency, and I really wish I had bought some now as the banknotes would have been great for this project. Ebay and Amazon do sell old banknotes, but they seem to specialise in rare expensive ones which aren’t really what I’m after.
I didn’t consciously develop a financial theme for my scrapbook, although it came about by accident I have no shortage of ideas for what else to do (currently I’m cutting out Monopoly money). I find craft projects and drawings to be very therapeutic, and I think something in my subconscious has definitely come out here. Like many of skills I seem to endowed with I have no idea how scrapbooking might be turned into profit, although I sure would like to have an epiphany on that one. If I could do this all day and make money out of it I would be a very happy person. For the time being it’s just an activity for evening stress busting, my own itchy fingers and sense of satisfaction. It’s a work in progress and I hope to fill all the pages but I’m very pleased with what I have created up to now.
And with that:
Freelance scrapbooker, embroiderer extraordinaire, and general creative person available for hire! Will work for tea, gratitude, interesting paper and modest amounts of actual money.
Several weeks into my dressmaking now, which I’ve just just been working on in the evening. The pattern is a little bit confusing, mostly because I don’t know what I’m doing, but also because the pattern is quite old – and obviously for a generation more used to making their own clothes!
So where am I up to? This week I have been working on the sleeves:
Next I began to sew the skirt panels together:
So here is what it looks like now:
The next step will be to make some adjustments to the size as it is too big for me, and this needs to be done before I can sew in the zip and sew the top and bottom together. This is taking quite a long time, but I guess it’s not like I’m working on it for hours everyday – not looking to bad now though.
After sewing on the markers the next thing I did was carefully remove the pattern. If you want to save it or think you might want to pass it on to someone else at some point then try hard not to tear it. After that I did some tacking – large loose stitches to act as guide when it comes to sewing. Again, chalk or pencil lines are ok for this as well but tacking is preferable because it helps to hold the material in place. You could also use pins and remove them as you start to sew, but this can get a bit fiddly.
Tacking is quite good because the material starts to take shape, and you begin to get a vague idea of where you’re heading. The next thing I did was to cut out and iron on facing (a stiff material which helps to give structure). I only needed to do this for a few bits which will go around the collar/sleeves.
And finally I got to do some actually sewing with my new new sewing machine! I sewed along the lines I had made with the pink thread and was very pleased with the result. It is starting to look a bit more like an item clothing now which is good. I carefully removed the pink thread, and this is the point I am up to now:
More to follow – I’m excited for the jigsaw to start coming together!
So for Christmas I got a very lovely red sewing machine and I have been wracking my brains over what my first project on it should be. Aside from some tinkering at school and at home I have never really used a sewing machine so I don’t really have any idea what I’m doing. However, momentarily determined to tap into my inner 50s housewife, I am going to learn! For my first project I have chosen a relatively (I hope) simple looking dress from a large collection of old patterns we have at home. As this is going to be a ‘trial’ project getting to grips with my new sewing machine I didn’t want to spend money on a new pattern as they can be quite expensive and I would be doubly frustrated if (and when) I screw up.
Task number one was to locate some nice and appropriate material, I wanted to use cotton rather than anything elasticated or chiffon-ie in order to keep things simple. Material is actually quite a lot more expensive than I thought it would be which makes me a little sad. Depending on what sort of project you are working on then it is possible to buy offcuts and end of role material more cheaply, but this won’t always be suitable. Making your own clothes is far less cost effective than it was back in the day, and once you’ve bought a pattern and some nice material chances are that you have already spent more than you would have done on a dress – and you still have to put the damn thing together! In short, making your own clothes is a labour of love and in this case – no doubt – a sharp learning curve.
I’m still in the ‘prep’ stages and haven’t yet started any sewing. Here are the things that I have done so far:
1. Cut out the pattern. You might notice that unlike modern patterns this one only comes in one size (which incidentally happens to be too big for me – but not an issue for a practice dress).
2. Press the pattern with a low heat iron so that it will lie flat on the material
3. Pin the pattern to the material according to the layout on the instructions. It is important the lines with arrows in the middle of the pattern lie exactly parallel with fold in the fabric. This is so that the pattern looks right/goes in the correct direction when you sew everything together. I guess this is probably less important when you have plain fabric and you can just lay out your pattern in the most economic way.
4. Cut the fabric, which in this case was done rather badly. I generally have quite a steady hand but as I’m not used to cutting fabric yet I made a bit of a mess of it. However, these badly cut edges of course won’t be seen once I begin to sew the pieces together. I suspect there will be some not necessarily neat sewing to follow though.
5. Sew markers on the dots of the darts in contrasting thread, making sure that the cotton goes through both layers of fabric. You can also use pencil or chalk to mark the dots.
And that’s where I’m up to so far. I’m a little bit nervous to start the sewing as I really have no idea what I’m doing. If anything goes seriously wrong then I do have plenty of spare material but I’m hoping for the best, I’m not greatly troubled by mistakes at this stage.