Thursday, November 15, 2018

Ups and Downs on the Upcycling

I have not made much progress on getting a clear idea for my Upcycle entry... I have been playing with some possible materials.  The old quilt top that I featured in my last post is out of the running.  I want to show off my hand dyed upcycled textiles, so the base is going to be a dyed damask tablecloth.  There are so many possibilities for this theme.  My vast stash of vintage textiles includes men's ties that are intended for a wearable project, but there are many of them.  I could use some of them with other pieces of old clothing in a collage

Of course, I have many dyed doilies which I have fun using to create texture in a piece.  Too many of them might look too antique, too stale for the art gallery patron.  I need to think about making something more edgy and unexpected.


Along with dyeing fabric for resale and my own creations, I often throw a few pairs of socks in the dye buckets.  Some of them are starting to wear out, but they are too beautiful to toss in the trash. 

A while ago, I found instructions for making sock dolls.  Since then, I have wanted to make a wall hanging with a whole bunch of wildly embellished sock dolls.  Maybe it is time to pursue that idea.



Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Contemplating an Upcycling Project

One of SAQA's upcoming calls for entry is "Upcycle!"  Since I have gotten my start in the fabric and art quilt business by upcycling vintage textiles, this is a must-do opportunity for me.  I am also planning an entry in their 3D Expression show, that entry deadline is earlier that Upcycle, but I am pressuring myself to have solid ideas for both by the end of November in order to complete them in time to submit my entries.

Here is my first thought for Upcycle:


This is a vintage quilt, about 70 x 80,'" in very rough shape.  It would be a base, a jumping off point for a fabric collage.  I am envisioning lots of hand stitching, overlays of images on sheer fabrics, some painting on fabric too.

The rips and tears indicate that it sure has seen a lot of use in its life.  Hopefully, it was loved in its early life, but is has likely been through some rough handing.  The quality of the hand stitching holding it together hasn't helped it much, but I commend this quilt's maker for sticking with it and finishing it.  We all have to start somewhere.

Here is something that will horrify vintage quilt collectors - I admit, I ran this quilt through the washing machine a few days ago!  Yes, I know I am not supposed to do that to an old quilt, but I had to in this case.  I had a mouse problem on Saturday, and the little bugger holed up in this quilt.  Being terrified by hot pursuit of my cat, the uninvited mouse left copious... deposits.  I had to wash it.  There is no way I am going be wrapped up in a quilt this large, hand stitching it with mouse turds all over it.  I am pleased to report that in its already fragile state, the washing machine really didn't do any more damage.   A little bit of the batting came out from the larger holes, but that's it.  I don't think that any of the tears were made worse.  I'd rather risk the damage than have the risk of who knows what the mouse could have been carrying.

Next time, a few more Upcycle candidates.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Sewing Machine Spirits

I have made it well known that I use mostly vintage sewing machines.  These machines have had other owners and therefore unknown stories.  There are days where I really believe that inanimate objects can have spirits in them.  This past Saturday, I was rolling along with making last minute projects for an upcoming art fair.  All day, my sturdy Singer 503 was getting the brunt of the work. 


Very suddenly in the early evening, it decided to go on strike!  I truly thought the thing was dying - the motor slowed to a crawl, it wouldn't wind a bobbin properly, the thread tension went haywire.  All the usual troubleshooting  - oil, new needle, re-thread (multiple times) - failed.  I called it quits for the night after spending an hour and a half trying to tinker with it.  I even switched foot pedals, without improvement.  The next day, I headed to my sewing room to make more stuff, and started with a test sew-off on the ailing 503.  The machine ran beautifully!  All was well again in Rags Paper Stitches land.  Those old machines don't seem to get that hot, but perhaps the motor temperature got above a critical point.

While I am going on about my 503, here are some neat pieces of Singer ephemera relating to the 503 and its close cousins, the 500, and the 400 series.  These items are from 1962 and 1963, when Singer was rolling out their built in zig-zag mechanism and the slant needle configuration.  Enjoy!
 A promotional booklet showcasing all the decorative sewing that could be done with a zig zag machine
 Introducing the Slant-O-Matics!

 Freebie give-away hand sewing needle packs advertising the 401.

Freebie mending kits touting the Slant-O-Matics as the "greatest sewing machine ever built."  I beg to differ with that, even some of Singer's earlier models, while not zig-zag, were far better.  I love the slant needle configuration, but the 400s and 500s are not as strong and robust as others (201 and 15-91...).  Not to mention the motors in mine sound downright awful.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Odds and Ends

A little while back (on October 2), I wrote about a postcard I have from a soldier at Camp Sherman.  I wasn't sure then if the card was sent before the deadly influenza outbreak influenza outbreak at the camp - I have confirmed that the outbreak began in September.  I have not yet tried to find more about the card's sender, I only have a partial name due to the wear on the edges of the card.  This is something I plan on investigating soon, so stay tuned for more details!

The past few days have been a bust as far as sewing or other creativity.  I am looking into making zipper flowers, as recently acquired a small stash of vintage metal zippers.  The zippers and a whole bunch of other sewing notions came out of this nifty little antiques show find, thanks to my mom:

This is the third diptych style sewing caddy that we have.  They are turning out great to have for keeping threads and embellishments together by project.  They still take up a bit of room when folded, measuring about 18 X 30 X 5."  I am envisioning creating a space for them somewhere to line them up like books on a shelf.  These sub-collections within collections are getting out of hand...



Tuesday, October 23, 2018

As Time Goes By

I am sitting here wondering what happened to last week, where did it go?  It just sort of flew by like a breeze... I seem to be having a lot of times like that.  One thing that I managed to accomplish is finishing the last dye session of the season.  I have more lovely greens, blues and purples now.  Of course, by finishing, I mean washing out all the fabrics and trims, drying and ironing them.  I will slowly go through all of the fabric I dyed this year, trimming and pricing them for next year's shows. 
I must get busy on one of the many works-in-progress in my sewing room so I may have something to post about on Thursday.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Another Vintage Sewing Machine

Here it is - a Singer 15-91:



The cabinet is in rough shape.  I've seen worse, but have a better one in need of a machine (not the same style though).  I have little interest in, and no time to embark on a furniture restoration project.  All the same, I'd rather not junk what could be a nice cabinet.  I am not a fan of repainting these, but in cases like this, it needs help.  I'd rather see someone restore it to its original varnish, not painting it in chalk paint!

The machine is in excellent condition cosmetically - the decals are just about perfect.  I have not tried to run it yet, I'll probably try it out next week when things slow down a bit.

Friday, October 5, 2018

Green with Envy

Running late again here, but with good reason: an epic end-of-the-season dye session in progress and a trip to an art fair that I have wanted to investigate.  So far, I have an enticing assortment of fabrics in greens and blues underway.  I only have pictures of the greens right now:


Yes, that is velvet that you see in the last image!  I am slowly adding more off-the-bolt specialty fabrics.  These will all end up in single color packs of small cuts of several different fabrics.  I am working towards making up packs that all contain the same size pieces of fabrics so that everything is more consistent.

The art fair that I attended was the Ohio Mart at Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens in Akron, Ohio.  I came home inspired and with some lovely additions to my art collection.  The event is now on my list of venues to apply to in the near future.  I definitely want to go back to Stan Hywet again (not during the art fair) to visit the mansion and gardens.

So much has been happening in my world... I still need to discuss the book sale I went to last week (a whole room full of quilt books) and I have yet to introduce the latest addition to my vintage sewing machine collection.  Check back on Tuesday for all of that and more.