Random Beauty: Light Diffracts Through Hummingbird Wings

Random Beauty

Christian Spencer has photographed hummingbirds in Brazil’s Itatiaia National Park for years. He’s concentrated on the way light diffracts through the birds’ wings and breaks into a rainbow. The photos are GORGEOUS – here’s just one example:

Christian Spencer Hummingbirds Vitral

Christian Spencer

Wow – the skill it takes to capture the hummingbirds just so!

Found via Colossal. Visit Spencer’s website for more.

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

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! 🙂

Wool on Wool with Medieval Motif

Arts & Crafts, Leveling Up

While pawing through my fabric bins in search of wool for another project, I came across an old embroidery that I’d forgotten about. I originally had a purpose for it, but my plans changed, and so the finished embroidery sat around for years.

The pattern is from 9th century metalwork, with an animal – dog, if I’d had to guess – framed by a triangle. I got it from Eva Wilson’s book Early Medieval Designs (in the British Museum Pattern Books series). I used blue wool yarn on mustard-y orange wool blend.

This embroidery project was a textile history nerdery win for me, because it was my first attempt at a historical design without a counted pattern (such as cross-stitch) or a pattern drawn on the fabric. I did measure and mark the corners for the triangular frame but eyeballed the rest.

In the spirit of celebrating your successes, I decided to frame the embroidery to hang somewhere in the house rather than keep it hidden.

I don’t remember why I chose complementary colors for the work; I guess that’s what I had available at the time. The effect is a little jarring, though, which is why I chose a neutral, naturally light-colored wood frame. The two-layered mat has a narrow navy accent on the inside, which goes with the blue yarn very well.

Looking good. 🙂 I still need to decide where exactly I want it.

Hunger Games Lip Art

Arts & Crafts, Colors, Geek out!

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.

One more post before tomorrow, this one a short and sweet one. Astounding Hunger Games lip art by Eva Senín Pernas:

Eva Senin Pernas Hunger Games Lip Art

Eva Senín Pernas.

Happy opening night, fellow Hunger Games fans!

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

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.

Tutorial: DIY Mockingjay Logo Felt Silhouette

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

I’ve been expecting The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1 for weeks now. The wait has felt especially long because, for me, this year’s Hollywood movies have been quite short on interesting topics and/or characters. To tide me over better, I’ve re-read the books, re-watched both The Hunger Games and Catching Fire and even sewed myself a small shoulder bag with a mockingjay logo.

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 bag.

 

DIY Mockingjay Logo Felt Silhouette

For the felt silhouette you will need:

paper and printer or photocopier

felt (or some other non-fraying material)

pins, scissors, sharp crafts knife, cutting mat (or thick cardboard) to cut on

Mockingjay Logo Felt Silhouette How-To

To make the logo felt silhouette:

  1. Find an image with a clear silhouette and not too many delicate protrusions; make a paper pattern in your desired size by printing or photocopying. A bigger image makes cutting easier.
  2. Roughly cut out excess paper around the image, leaving about 1” / 2-3 cm all around. No need to be very exact at this point.
  3. Pin the paper on top of the felt, placing pins outside the logo. Make sure the felt is as smooth as possible.
  4. Place the paper-felt sandwich on the cutting mat (or on plenty of cardboard so as not to damage your work surface). Cut along the silhouette outlines with a sharp knife. Make sure your cuts go through both the paper and the felt. Go slowly and carefully, especially at tight curves. Now is the time to be exact.
  5. Remove pins and peel the paper pattern off. If necessary, make additional cuts in the felt either with the knife or with sharp scissors until the silhouette pulls off easily.

The logo is now ready to be attached! It doesn’t need to go on an item made from scratch; it can be handsewn onto a bag, shirt, jacket or a hat you already own.

My silhouette is approximately 4.5” / 11 cm wingtip to wingtip and 3.25” / 8 cm top to bottom. I don’t think I’d make it any smaller if attaching the logo with a sewing machine, for some of the curves were challenging enough already to do neatly.

Tomorrow I’ll share a tutorial for my Mockingjay shoulder bag.

Edit: The shoulder bag tutorial is now available.