Monday, December 28, 2009

The Craft Cartel and the felt vagina

My favourite blog title so far....absolutely loving The Craft Cartel. Their slogan being "For crafty types who don't dig rose-scented doilies- celebrating all that is irreverant, iconic, kitschy, delightfully offensive and made lovingly by hand".

Anyone that has the motivation to craft a vagina... I am a fan of.

check it out.

Christian Marclay vs. David Hockney

Sitting in bed doing a bit of internet exploring it one of my great pleasures- primarily because it is the only warm place in an otherwise unheated house in mid-winter. Anyway, this morning I found an awesome post by Marcela Fae on the work of Christian Marclay, an American visual artist and composer based out of New York. A few years ago he did these great pieces stitching together old vinyl record covers.

They reminded me a lot of the joiners/photo-collages that Hockney did in the early 1980s to which I have developed a small obsession with.

above: David Hockney, My Mother, Bolton Abbey, Yorkshire, 1982

Sunday, December 27, 2009

How to make a canvas apron in 10 steps

I decided to make as many Christmas presents as possible this year. I wanted to give people something homemade, something useful and something personal. After much consideration I decided on personalised aprons. They are really quite straight forward and perfect if you are still getting to grips with how your sewing machine works- as I am.

Below is a step-by-step guide to making one. All you need is the following:
  • a 35 inch (89cm) x 33 inch (84cm) square(ish) piece of cotton canvas or cotton drill (I chose a very durable heavyweight cotton, with the idea that it would last a lifetime, but feel free to use a more flexible lightweight cotton)
  • 100 inches (254cm) of 1 inch wide ribbon (a 26 inch piece for the neck strap, 2 x 37 inch pieces for the waist straps)
  • 136 (345cm) of 2 inch wide ribbon for trimming.
  • reel of thread the same colour as the ribbon
Step one:
measure out the square of cotton canvas according to the measurements below (click on the image to enlarge) or cut around an existing apron that you like the shape of. If you are using the measurements here, be sure to fold the material in half prior to cutting the top corners so the curves are the same both sides. Place this to one side.

Step two:
Get your roll of 2 inch wide ribbon, and peg one end of it to the end of an ironing board (having some tension in the ribbon will make ironing it in half much easier). Fold in half (width ways) and iron flat. Be sure not to have the heat too high if the ribbon is synthetic, plenty of steam should do the trick. Ironing the ribbon will make trimming the apron much easier.

The finished product
Step three:
Cut the 2 inch wide ribbon in to 6 pieces- of lengths corresponding with the edges of the apron. I would highly recommend leaving an inch extra at each end (particularly on the top curved corners which require a deceptive amount of ribbon).

Step four:
Cut the 1 inch wide ribbon (for the neck and waist straps) in to 3 pieces (
a 26 inch piece for the neck strap, 2 x 37 inch pieces for the waist straps)

Step five:
The 2 inch wide ribbon should fold nicely around the edge of your canvas material. Pin the bottom edge in place (roughly). You do not need to leave any overlap on this edge as the side edge trimmings will go over the bottom corners (neatly folded).

Step six:
Sew this bottom edge trimming on staying as close to the edge of the ribbon as you dare whilst making sure you are not missing the side underneath with your thread. I usually leave 3mm buffer to be sure. A simple straight, medium length stitch is all you need for attaching the trimming.

Step seven:
Sew one of the side edge trimmings on. You must start at the bottom edge (on the corner that you have just sewn), but this time you must fold over the ribbon by 3/4 inch or so to stop the end fraying. This will hopefully make the corner much neater. Remember that there is likely a front and back to the canvas, so if you have to make one side neater than the other make sure you choose the front. Continue this around the edges, folding over the corners where necessary.

Step eight:
Now the apron should be the correct shape and fully trimmed. It is best to do any personalisation now (before attaching the neck and waist straps) as you do not want to inadvertently sew the neck strap to the back of the apron with about 500 stitches. I learned this the heard way.

First you want to mark out the letters lightly in pencil. I recommend marking two lines to indicate the top and bottom of the letters, and work between these. I used the width of a ruler for this.

To embroider with a regular sewing machine, you can set the stitch pattern to 'zig-zag' with and a very short (but not non -existent) length. You must test the stitch on a scrap of material
first (perhaps from the top corners that were cut off earlier) and adjust as necessary.

You will quickly realise that straight lines are far easier than curved, but with practise you will be able to deal with curves (again, use the scrap material). I found that lifting the foot of the sewing machine and carefully repositioning the needle produced much better results than attempting to do the curve in one go.

To avoid constantly starting and stopping, you can do all the horizontal lines first without cutting the thread. Then cut and do the vertical/horizontal sections.

Do the vertical sections first without cutting the thread to save time.

then do the horizontal sections

Step nine:
Hem the neck and waist straps by 3/4 inch or so then attach them to the corners on the back side of the apron (leaving the front nice and neat). These are going to be tugged at over the years so you will need to do a fairly thorough job. I did a 'Z' patten, using the reverse mode for the diagonal.

Step ten:
Trim off all the bits of thread and admire your handiwork.

Best of luck.