Seams and Scraps

What do you make with jean seams and aloha shirt scrap? I made a trivet using hand-stitching. I also taught myself how to use a thimble. It helped a lot with all the stitching on denim.

I love the look of all the ends but decided against leaving it as is. It would probably get too dirty.


I lined the back with a large scrap from my whale project to hide the rough edges and give it a little more support. I tried out the blanket stitch technique from the Zen Stitching workshop from Mirjam Gielen .

In the end, there really isn’t a front or back. I guess whichever you prefer. This project took longer than I expected. Stitching through denim is tough. But I liked the finished product. More to come.

Three Whales

I’ve been working on several upcycling projects, and I’m proud to show you what I’ve done. I worked with a couple of jeans and a batik print dress. I started out with the jeans, one dark, and one light denim. I decided to try out the denim whale I’ve seen on Pinterest. I got the pattern from FourSixtyTwo.

The Denim

Mom’s capri jeans

I had two pairs of jeans, mom’s capri jeans and old pair of acid-washed ones. Yes, acid-washed, and it had a high waist and pleats. It was straight from the 80s. The first task is to take apart the clothing. I cut the legs off on the jeans, getting as much of it as possible. I’ll save the top of the jeans for later for another project. I then rotary cut the seams and put them aside to see if I could come up with a use for them. I also took off some buttons from the darker jeans.
I used the darker jeans for the top of the whale and the acid-wash for the belly. I started out machine sewing, starting with the tucks on the stomach. So far, so good. Then I started on the fins and tail. It was a no-go when turning it to the right side [for all the non-sewers, you sew the pieces together with the right sides facing together, stitching on the wrong side]. The pointy tips looked bulky and bumpy because of the thickness of the denim. Boo!
Instead of fighting with the seams, I ripped out the stitches and decided to hand-stitch the tail and fins [for the hand-stitching, it is sewed right side out]. Then I continued with the hand-stitching with the top-stitching on the tail and fins, and to be consistent, the body, once I attached it to the body.

Tah Dah! Whale #1: with pleats on the belly

Wow! I liked the look of the finished product. I decided to do another whale because I had enough fabric. I made a few adjustments to the pattern to help the points of the tail and fins lay better. I also decided to try eliminating the pleats on the belly and machine-stitched the underbody instead. And for Whale #2, I hand-stitched the entire whale except for the top-stitching on the underbody.

Closeup of the machine-stitched underbody

Batik Dress

batik dress from the 80s

I thought the whale would look great in a print, maybe an aloha print. I liked the gray and navy section of the dress for the whale and thought the bleached pattern looked like marks on the whale. The fabric was rayon; it was soft and flowy. I lined all the pieces with some lightweight material to give them stability.

The lined pieces were lighter than the denim, so I decided to use the machine on the larger sections of the whale. I added top-stitched the underbody where the pleats should be, then stitched the underbody together. I handstitched the fins and tail together to keep the points sharp, lay flat, and added top-stitching.

Hand-stitching

I took a stitching workshop in May through Zen Stitching to get inspired. It was five days of classes. I was able to take almost every session I wanted to. I loved that I found others who combined upcycling, boro, and hand-stitching.

I added a few techniques to the whale. I added groups of running stitch using a bleached print to inspire the pattern. I also added French knots. I like how it came out. Now, if I can only get these posted on my Etsy shop.

I made little animals

Out of odd-shaped scraps, that inspired me to make something with them. They are simple and more graphic than “Hot Wheels”.

They are made of scraps of materials, stuffed with the little remnants of thread fabric, and hand-stitched together.

Something to pass the time, something to make me smile.

Cat
Elephant

Dad’s Art

Dad has been enjoying drawing and collaging in these recent years. It’s not an everyday thing. When he’s in the art mode, he’ll whip out his sharpies or start cutting up cardboard.

His materials of choice are old newspaper, discarded cardboard boxes, and his trusty sharpie pens. He uses the newspaper as his canvas with the sharpies. And the cardboard is the structure of his piece. These pieces are ones that he wants to stand on their own.

The key to Dad’s art is upcycling. He has always been a frugal man and has made many things from scraps around the house. He’s our MacGyver. But these days, building things is hard for him, and his drawing and pasting has taken its place.

He’s medium of choice is sharpies and old newspaper. I’ve bought for him sketchbooks, paints, and watercolor pencils to no avail getting him to use them. He would always fall back to his sharpies

Sourcing Materials

Dad does think about sourcing his material. One day, he asked me if I ate a fig bar. He said, “I want the wrapper because of the foil inside of the wrapper.” I asked him why he needed it? “I’m going to use it for the eyes on my turkey and snowman to make it stand out.”

He sourced the Depends box for the Christmas tree because of its green color. One day, I walked past him, sawing away with a serrated knife at the box, cutting the tree’s triangle shape. I just had to smile, he still has that making thing at 92.

I’d thought I would give my dad art a show case so I gave him a tag on Instagram and Facebook if you like to continue to search for new work. #jo1drawing. I made his tag from his first name, Joichi. “Ichi” means one in Japanese. 

Have a Happy Holidays. Eat well and stay safe.

Life

from my morning walk

I originally started this post as a “whoa is me” post to complain about unemployment, not receiving my check, and sitting in the phone queue for 5+ hours. But I take that all back.

Yes, I am furloughed, I’m yet to receive a check from UI, I will be stuck in the phone queue until I settle this issue and my furlough has been extended to January 4th. But I can’t feel sorry for myself. That’s how you get stuck and curling up in a ball and not want to do nothing for yourself. Sometimes life is harder than you expected.

I told myself at the beginning of the furlough that I would make use to this time instead of festering and becoming bitter. It’s been a tough road, the unemployment situation doesn’t help a bit. But I still want to make the best of this time. When will I get this kind of time to do something for myself, to do something creative, to make something beautiful.

I decided to write this to remind myself I have this time to do for myself. To think about life and where it may take me. Here’s my list so far I hope I can complete some of it before the end of the year. I’ll be posting my progress and going ons at the home front with the my 4 roommates (haha).

  • make my aloha shirt patchwork quilt
  • learn to double knit
  • finish my strand work squares, on #8 half way there
  • start journaling
  • start my Etsy shop
  • learn how to use the watercolor pencils
  • walk more often
  • write letters
  • get rid of stuff I don’t use
  • plan my next hiking trip