My Con or Bust Donations for 2017

Arts & Crafts, Geek out!

Here are my donations for Con or Bust‘s yearly online auction for 2017: two sleep masks.

One is a sleepy critter. It’s made from brown polyester felt lined with a soft linen blend fabric; there’s also felt applique (ears and nose) and embroidery (eyes).

Critter Sleep Mask Collage

The other has a stylized dragon embroidered as an interlace pattern on black polyester felt lined with navy blue cotton.

Dragon Sleep Mask Collage

Bidding will start in two weeks, on Monday, April 24, 2017.

Before that, you can have a look at the 2017 Auction Index (Google spreadsheet), visit the Con or Bust website for more information or browse the 2017 Auction Tags.

Con or Bust, Inc., is a U.S.-based, tax-exempt not-for-profit organization that helps people of color/non-white people attend SFF conventions. Con or Bust isn’t a scholarship and isn’t limited to the United States, to particular types of con-goers, or to specific cons; its goal is simply to help fans of color go to SFF cons and be their own awesome selves. It is funded through donations and an online auction held annually.

As I’ve had firsthand experience of being on a miniature budget and having to limit my geeky hobbies accordingly (i.e., not that much fun), I decided to add Con or Bust to my list of things worthy of support. This is my second time donating.

Note: I wasn’t paid or perked to mention this; just passing along a good thing.

A Sleep Mask Prototype

Arts & Crafts, Leveling Up

One of the results of a recent prototype making session:

Critter Sleep Mask

A sleepy critter sleep mask. Brown felt with felt applique and embroidery; lined with a soft linen blend fabric for comfort. This is my very first attempt at this particular design, and I’m pretty pleased with the proportions and the expression.

I was trying for a bear – how did I do?

First Batch of Reflectors Is Now on Etsy

Ahem Ahem!, Arts & Crafts, Leveling Up

The first batch of reflectors is now listed in my Etsy shop.

1st Batch of Reflectors

These 2-sided personal safety reflectors are meant for pedestrians. They are designed to attach inside a coat pocket and to hang down at your side when in use. The reflectors come with a safety pin and string for hanging. Like so:

Reflectors in Use Not in Use

The concept is based on the reflectors I wore in my childhood, growing up 2 hours south of the Arctic Circle in Finland. In fact, I still use them – even though Massachusetts isn’t nearly as dark as Finland in winter, here in the south it gets dark year-round. The reflectors increase your visibility so much in low light conditions that I almost feel naked without one. Each of my jackets has its own dedicated reflector, and I keep extras around just in case. (They do occasionally break or get lost.)

Made with polyester felt and reflecting fabric in three silhouettes: heart, minimalistic feather or dragon’s head. Each of the three designs comes in two or three different colors.

Dragons Head Reflector Colors Collage
Feather Reflector Colors Collage
Heart Reflector Colors Collage

Check out Flickr and Twitter for some work-in-progress photos.

It’s exciting to get a new project out into the world! 🙂

A Feathery Sneak Peak

Arts & Crafts, Behind the Scenes, Colors

…of my current project:

Turq Feathers Partly Done

I’m making reflectors; this batch is based on my feather doodles. I’ve already done turquoise and white feather reflectors. I’m still trying to decide whether I’ll make other colors. Any input?

P.S. Other behind-the-scenes photos connected to this project are included in my Flickr (July 2016).

Discoveries: Needle-Felted Star Wars Scenes

Arts & Crafts, Design & Designers, Fabrics & Materials, Geek out!, Stunt Double

Jack and Holman Wang created a series of books based on the three original Star Wars movies. Their take? Each book is illustrated with epic needle-felted scenes.

SW-Epic-Yarns_Empire-Strikes-Back_12_Goodbye

Jack and Holman Wang / Lucasfilm Ltd.

Wow, right? All of the scenes are meticulously made, styled and propped. They describe the project on their website like this:

Star Wars Epic Yarns is a new all-ages board book series offering a lightspeed take on the original Star Wars trilogy. Each film is pithily summarized in just 12 words and 12 eye-popping needle-felted illustrations.

“The series took nearly a year to make, including hundreds of hours of needle-felting to create the characters, hundreds of hours of scale-model set building (incorporating everything from plumbing parts to dry ice), and weeks of location shooting (including a trip to the Californian desert).”

Holman and Jack also share great behind-the-scenes material, including the Star Wars Epic Yarns Behind the Scenes video. It starts with with felting humor:

– The Emperor: “There is a great disturbance in the Force.” [Darth Vader breathing heard in the background]

– Darth Vader: “I have felt it.” [cue an image of needle felting, with continued Darth Vader breathing]

I especially love it when artists have a sense on humor about their work! 🙂

At this writing, Jack and Holman have three upcoming public appearances, including at the Jane Austen Society of North America Annual General Meeting in Washington, DC in October. Jack and Holman’s work can also found at Cozy Classics, where Jane Austen enthusiasts (like me!) can find needle-felted versions of Emma and Pride and Prejudice, among other classic books. Some fantastic preview images of all their work are also available. Thanks, Holman and Jack!

Note: I wasn’t paid or perked to mention this; just passing along a good thing.

Felt Feather Prototype

Arts & Crafts, Colors

A minimalist felt feather prototype in the works, based on drafts I shared earlier:

Felt Feather Collage

Well, sort of. The felt feather is just the first part of the actual final product, and that won’t have any embroidery on it.

I had only two pieces of white felt large enough to try my feather design on, but both had a row of holes in the selvage. I decided to use them anyway, provided that I was able to cover the holes somehow. Creative cutting and a practice run of French knots did the trick. I still need practice – the French knots are challenging for a reason – but I very much like how the color effect from yellow to burgundy red looks.

Tutorial: DIY Shoulder Bag with Mockingjay Felt Logo

Arts & Crafts, Books & Mags, Geek out!, Movies & TV

This week, leading up to the Mockingjay, Part 1 opening night, I’ll share some Hunger Games themed finds and materials, including tutorials for a simple mockingjay logo felt silhouette and a shoulder bag.

 

DIY Shoulder Bag with Mockingjay Felt Logo

For the bag you will need:

mockingjay logo felt silhouette (see separate tutorial)

durable fabric; webbing or sturdy ribbon for the shoulder strap

measuring tape, pins, scissors (or rotary cutter, ruler and cutting mat), sewing machine (or a hand needle) and thread

optional: decorative ribbon; iron and ironing board

This tutorial is for an unlined bag.

 

To cut the fabric and webbing:

Shoulder Bag Parts

  1. Cut two rectangles from the fabric: a large rectangle for the bag body and a small, narrow one for the edge binding (to go on the bag opening). The width of your rectangles should be twice the desired width plus 1” / 2-3 cm or so for seam allowances. Optionally, you can cut only one rectangle and hem the opening (like in this ikatbag tutorial) instead of using a separate piece as edge binding. I wanted a small, purse-sized bag. My pieces were approximately 14” x 8.25” / 35 x 21 cm for the bag body and 14” x 3 1/8” / 35 x 8 cm for the edge binding. This was enough for a finished bag 7.5” / 19 cm tall, 6.5” / 16 cm wide and 1.5” / 3.5 cm deep. I used up trouser fabric leftovers, which meant on one hand that my pieces were somewhat odd shapes and sizes, but on the other that I didn’t have to buy any materials.
  2. Cut a length of webbing (or sturdy ribbon) for the shoulder strap. Again, the length depends on your preferences. I measured the strap lengths on two of my favorite shoulder bags, averaged them up and added 2”-3” / 5-8 cm to arrive at 50” / 127 cm. This was enough for a finished strap length of 46” / 117 cm.

 

To attach the logo onto the bag body:

Mockingjay Bag Attaching Logo

  1. Lay the bag body piece down, right side facing up and the future bag opening away from you, and mark the vertical center with pins. This line will become the second “side seam” and help you to place the felt silhouette and the shoulder strap symmetrically.
  2. Lay the logo down on the bag body, moving it around until you find a good spot and pin the logo in place. You can also use a measuring tape or a ruler to gauge the placement of the logo. Optional: If you want to use any additional decorations on the bag body, this is a good time to add them. I sewed on my black and gold ribbon first and only then worked on the mockingjay logo.
  3. Sew the silhouette on. Start on the inside and work towards the outside, section by section. Go slowly, especially where there are narrow parts or protrusions. It’s a good idea to use short stitches, practice on a remnant first and check after each section that the logo still sits smoothly on the fabric, repinning if necessary, before moving on to the next section. I sewed 1/16” / 1-2 mm from the edge, and it seemed to work fine. I had to add a couple of hand stitches onto my mockingjay’s beak because I didn’t quite sew far enough with the machine. Optional: Iron the bag body piece from the wrong side of the fabric or through a pressing cloth before sewing the bag.

To sew the bag:

Mockingjay Bag Construction

  1. Fold the bag body in two along the vertical center line, right sides together. Pin and sew the bottom and side seams. Cut down seam allowances to a uniform width (e.g. 1/4” / 6 mm). Zigzag to prevent unraveling. Do not turn the bag right side out yet. Fold the edge binding piece in two, right sides together. Pin and sew the side seam. Make sure the finished width of the edge binding piece matches the finished width of the body piece.
  2. Make box corners for the bag bottom: Grab the bottom corner where the side and bottom seams meet, match the seams to create a point and pin. Mark a line perpendicular to the seam; sew along the mark. My seam was roughly 0.75”-1” / 2-2.5 cm from the point, but the depth of the box corners can be varied according to your preferences. Repeat on the opposite side, using the vertical center line in place of side seam. (Or make cut-out box corners like in this sew4home tutorial.) Turn the bag right side out.
  3. Slide the edge binding over the bag body, right sides together, aligning raw edges. Match side seams and pin the edge binding in place. Use several pins and make sure that the binding sits smooth everywhere. Sew around the bag opening to combine body and binding.
  4. Pin shoulder strap in place at side seam and vertical center line. Make sure that the strap is not twisted before pinning. Attach strap by sewing right on top of the seam combining body and binding. Optional: If you’re experienced, you can pin the edge binding and the strap on at the same time and attach both with one seam. That’s what I did, but I checked and re-checked (and re-re-checked) that they would line up correctly before putting a single stitch down.
  5. Fold in the remaining raw edge of the binding piece approximately 0.5” / 1 cm. Next, fold the binding to the wrong side of the bag body. Make sure to fold beyond the seamline combining the body and binding; pin in place. Use several pins. Measure to make sure that the binding strip is of even width throughout. Sew around the bag opening from the right side. You can disguise the seam by stitching in the ditch between bag body and edge binding pieces. This way, the raw edges of the bag body and strap will be hidden inside the tube formed by the binding, and the bag opening will look neat.
  6. Pin the shoulder strap onto the top edge of the binding piece at the side seam and vertical center line. Sew a reinforcing line along the top edge to attach the strap even more firmly.

The bag is now ready!

Mockingjay Bag

The details can be varied almost infinitely to make bags of different sizes, shapes and looks. Optionally, the strap or the bag body can be decorated with ribbon, fabrics of different colors or other patches, logos or appliques. You can even make a tote by cutting the long strap into two shorter handles instead and sewing them on the middle of the back and front panels. You can also make only the logo and handsew it onto a bag, shirt, jacket or a hat you already own.