Thought I'd tell everyone how to make your own finger turning kits. See if you have a hobby store in your town. A hardware store works too but their tubes will be way too long. The tubes at the model train type hobby stores are usually good, they are only about 12" long. Okay, so I've said tubes like three times now- here's the dope on them ... look for a display of brass tubes - some are hollow and some are solid. Buy a hollow brass tube in 1/8 inch diameter, 3/16, 5/32 and 3/32. Then put the smallest one back (I know one was so small it's useless but I can't remember which - I suppose it would be the 3/32). Then you can buy or you might even have these already, wooden skewers like you would use for making shish-ka-bobs. You get these at the grocery store. Blunt the tip of the skewer by banging it on something, clipping the tips with scissors, sanding it, whatever works - the idea here is to get rid of the sharp pointed end. You can also cut it shorter to make it easier to use - then sand the end. Voila - your own finger turning kit. You put the hollow tube inside the finger and use the skewer to hold it in place and then push the fabric up the skewer. Like my earlier tutorial says. If you can only find the really long ones at a hardware store maybe someone can cut them for you. Keep reading for instructions on cutting and cleaning.
My husband does metal work so I have access to a multi-speed grinder and other tools. I usually use a dremel tool to cut the tube to 6 inches. I have a tube cutting tool too but a couple of the tubes are just too small to use it on so I just use the dremel. Then I use the grinder to even out the tubes and I bevel one end. First hold both ends flat against the grinder - this will smooth and level them out. For the bevel, you hold the tube at an angle to the belt. You do have to clean out the end with the bevel though, because it will get burrs. To do that I use a triangular razor edged arrowhead. I just run it gently around the inside of the tube. Sometimes I have to hit it on the grinder again if I make the edges too sharp from the arrowhead (I know - strange tool - but it works). Then I take a scrap piece of fabric and, using the bamboo plunger, work it in and out a few times to clean it and give it a bit of a polish. Oh - nearly forgot - I blunt the tips of the skewers on the grinder too.
Here's how to make your own stuffing fork .. take a long thick doll needle and clip the end of the eye off - just the very tip. That leaves you with a fork. Take the pointed end and stick it in a cork. Wrap the bottom part with electrical tape or something. That should hold the needle in the cork. You should try to use the longest needle you can find, it doesn't have to be a doll needle, just something at least 10". The only needles I know of that long are doll ones. Not sure where you'd find these though except on the internet.
Okay, so there's not going to be a picture today. I really like to try to put them up because I love looking at photos of other people's work, so I figure you do too. But I don't think today's experiment would photograph at all. Too reflective. What was it you ask? A couple of days ago I tried my hand at making a little quilt top using Ricky Tims' book Convergence Quilts. Guess it's been a while since I quilted and it showed. Of course using scraps that I had no clue which grain was which probably didn't help. Anyhow, I cut the top into 3 postcards (told you it was a little quilt top) and then did some silhouette type applique work on them. Liked two of them, didn't care for one. So I took the one I didn't like and covered it with this pink color-changing cellophane, you know, the stuff you get to wrap around baskets and gifts. Then I free motion embroidered on top of it to hold it in place, zapped it with my heat gun, and waited for the magic. Magic didn't happen - it didn't melt. It did tighten up some around the stitching though. Maybe cellophane doesn't melt or maybe my heat gun doesn't get hot enough. Dunno. What I do have now though is a card that looks totally different depending on how you hold it up to the light - kind of holographic. Tilt it one way and you see the cellophane and the stitching, tilt it another and you can see the work beneath it. Very cool! See - there's never mistakes, only opportunities!
The Dragon Ladies are working on a beaded mermaid, a project out of the new book by Margaret Ball, Embeadery. This is the third Sunday we've worked on this and we're still not done. We must be really slow! Actually none of us are beaders but we're having fun with this. The book is easy to follow and I can see a lot of uses for some of the stitches. Her book, in case you don't know, translates traditional embroidery stitches into beadery stitches. I have noticed that we do chat more when we're beading than when we're working on dolls. I would think it would take more concentration to bead than sew. Kind of surprising. This isn't a stuffed figure - it's flat. I still have half the doll to edge stitch, which I'm doing in a modified picot wrap type thing, and dangles still need to be made for her arms. Then if we decide to make the mermaids into necklaces we'll need to make one of those. At least we don't have to worry about starting a new project soon!
Okay - these postcards are taking over. It's pushed my doll making to the back burner right now but I'm sure it will have an impact there in the future. Yep, keep telling yourself that Jude! I bought ANOTHER book today ... actually I bought two, but I only tried sewing a project out of one of them. Tonight's experiment was with Threadplay by Libby Lehman. She does this cool free motion embroidery ribbon stuff - it's awesomely pretty. The technique is pretty simple but I can tell it's going to take practice. My free motion embroidery is getting better but I've got a long ways to go. I chose a black background so I could see what I was doing, the pictures in the book are on quilted pieces and it looks much nicer. So for this piece I sewed the outline in a purple metallic, which was pretty easy, and then filled it in with an variegated orange-yellow trilobal polyester thread. It was a 30 weight and it was a poor choice. Too thick. I used a size 16 needle and lowered my tension but it kept shredding and now I have nests on the back big enough for something to live in! Thank goodness the backing goes on last, no one but me will know it's there. Okay - so you know too, sshh, don't tell. Then for the highlighting I used one of my embroidery rayons, much lighter, and I didn't have any problems. Used the same weight for the blues and it worked fine. Stuck a couple of buttons on it to balance out the little blue ovals and called it a night. So here it is ... it's supposed to be a ribbon even though it looks kind of like an amoeba
I bought a new book, well, new to me because it's been out for a few years. It's called Layer's of Stitch by Valerie Campbell-Harding and Maggie Grey. They do that fantastic surface embellishment stuff that I've been so intrigued with lately. Since I'm doing that postcard swap it's a great opportunity to try out some of the techniques. Now their stuff looks way better than mine but guess that's to be expected when they've been doing it for years and are experts at it. So here's what I did today ...
Here's the basic background layer - I painted some Wonder-Under and ironed to a coarse muslin. Then I ironed some peach chiffon polyester type stuff on top of that. Next I painted a nappy liner - which looks kind of like a dryer sheet but I guess it's used inside cloth diapers - you have to wonder who decided to experiment with using these for fabric work! I didn't actually paint the nappy liner I did a rubbing of a big stamp with an oil pastel stick. Going back to the book I guess I should have cut the liner up and ironed it on in strips to get the texture instead of what I did ... iron the whole thing on in one piece. It didn't seem to make much difference texturally - maybe because I didn't do it properly. Anyhow ... here it is hooped for my embroidery machine ...
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Then the next step was to add stitching. I used the embroidery machine to stitch out the words Posta L'arte - that's the name of our swap group. Next I added lines of blue variegated rayon between the lines of words. Then I started adding all the copper fancy stitching. The book said to add a patch that you embroider so I did that but I don't really care for it. I might need to overstitch it some to blend it into the card more.
Nope .. didn't like it at all. Ended up taking it off ... here it is without the patch.
Worked on the silly computer till about 1:00 last night. Still couldn't get the embroidery software working. This morning I got an email from the OESD people - I didn't know they were the tech support for the Bernina software. They had a different, athough similiar, way to install the drivers and software and amazingly enough IT WORKED! Still have a couple of bugs to work out but I'm back in business! Phew.
So I recently bought a new desktop PC to replace the old Pentium II slug that was running Windows 98. It has Windows XP, boots up fast, I have one of those cool flat monitors now instead of one that covers half the desk, and I'm psyched! Until tonight. I tried to use my artista Editor embroidery software, version 3 ... nada, niet, no way, jose. Version 3 was written before XP came out. Okay - so I go to the Bernina web site and found out I need a new driver to get the stupid security dongle to be recognized with XP. Loaded that ... nope, still won't work. Next - found another article with incredibly detailed steps on reloading the software. Three hours later, I've deleted and reinstalled the software a gazillion times, same with the driver, got into the guts and changed things in the BIOS so the parallel port reads different. Still no stupid software. GRRRR. I give up for today. Computers are a pain in the butt but when they interfere with your sewing, well, that's just criminal!!#@!@#@!#@$%#@*&(*.
Here's the latest heads I made for the walking doll. Although the heads aren't bad they don't work with the doll. So I think it's time to set her aside and move on to something else. I thought the one on the left looked like Miss Piggy when I put the blond wig on her. I have this thing about bald dolls - I hate them. So when I work on a doll I always have to put a wig or turban on her until she gets her final 'do'. I have two little wigs that I use just for that. One of my friends thinks this is very strange and she's quite amused by it - but, hey, what can I say! Everyone has their little idiosyncracies and this one's mine!
The doll on the right has an enormous amount of needle sculpting. The entire
eye is sculpted - around the whole socket and the eyelid. The nose has the bridge, nostrils, and nostrils flares sculpted. The mouth is a three-stitch sculpt. I really like the look this gives the face. I used techniques from a book called Needle Sculpting from the Beginning that is written by Barbara Owen. It's a great resource and you can get it in black-and-white book form or on a CD. The CD has face coloring instructions which the book does not. I may have mentioned this book in an earlier post. Guess that means I really like it!
Still struggling with the head for the doll I'm working on. Made another two today and don't like them. One of the things I don't like is that the head is too big for the body - and that's the pattern. So I decided that I'm just going to draft my own head and make it a profile head instead of a flat one. A profile head is one that has a seam down the middle and it has a nose that extends from the face - as opposed to drawing one on. I'm getting tired of these faces. I need to move on. At this rate I'm going to make a headless doll and be done with it!
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Some of the girls in my doll club got together and were making some life size dolls this weekend. As usual talk got around to doll club goings on. Now I wasn't at this get together but I guess my name got brought up for some reason. Whatever the conversation was .. I was referred to as the head dolly-lama. I like it .. it's funny! It's also way better than some other names they could have called me!
Teddies don't usually go to masked balls but this one did. I wanted to share this great mask that I stitched out on my embroidery machine. It's called Phoenix and it was another great learning experience. The mask was off of a Cactus Punch CD. They have some great layered masks on it too. Just haven't made them yet. The base of the mask is organza and I used a thin water soluble stabilizer behind it. I still need to use my soldering iron to burn out the unstitched organza but I really like it. I'm going to have to make a doll for the mask now. But, on second thought, the mink teddy looks kind of cute.
I haven't been sewing for a couple of weeks now, at least it feels that way. There's been a lot of tension going on in my world and most of it's centered around my doll club. We're having growing pains for lack of a better description. So this morning I decided to make a fabric postcard for one of the ladies in my club to kind of describe my feelings. Here it is:
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Last December I signed up to be in a fabric postcard swap. I think it's going to be a great way to try new techniques on a small surface. You have a bit more room to play than on an ATC. A couple of days ago I checked with the gal who was compiling the list of names about when it would start and she replied by asking me to be in charge of the group. HA! A friend of mine had warned me that this would happen if I asked any questions. So now I'm in charge of organizing a swap with over 45 women. Good thing I don't work and am addicted to this silly computer.
I'm now totally bummed that I missed the doll club meeting down in San Diego. Patti told me that she had brought all the dolls that are in her new book, Creative Cloth Doll Faces, plus an advance copy of the book to the meeting. It would have been awesome to see all the dolls 'in person'. Wah. Darned rain.
It's been a while since I practiced faces and it shows. These are two heads I did in the past few days and I don't care for them at all. They are watercolor faces and I just don't have that shading stuff down. Don't like the features I drew either. Usually I can do really nice faces but they seem to be escaping me for now. Back to the drawing board. I have another head sewn up so I'll try again.