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Saturday, 27 November 2021

Compiling a Bucket List [Pt 1]

Winding Down
Planning for my end game...
Many moons ago, I wrote that I would let my readers know before turning out the lights on this blog.

It's probably my tendency towards always wanting to do a complete job that motivated the promise. I don't want to have a blog where people keep popping by, wondering, hmmm.... is she coming back or not?

For those of you who might be anxious about my retirement happening sooner rather than later, let me clarify that today's post will likely be the first of several to document my journey to the finish line. (See? It reads "Pt 1".)

So it's not happening yet. Not until I compile a list of things I want to accomplish before I go, and then hopefully do them. (By the way, this blog just passed over into its ninth year. If I can stretch out the "doing" part of the bucket list items for another two years, that would be a great milestone and a grand ending.)

However, I've also said before that I'm not generally a goal setter, we'll have to see how this rolls out in terms of whether any of this gets done. ٩(^‿^)۶




A couple of months ago, I opened up the doors to my dresser and yanked out all of the clothing inside. (It's a cabinet styled unit with two drawers at the bottom; the upper part behind the doors consists of two shelves, which were stuffed full from top to bottom.) When I stopped working, I virtually stopped buying clothes. But over the past year and half — to support the retail clothing industry — I purchased some new stuff, leading to the storage crisis in my dresser. Armed with a black garbage bag, it was time to cull.

Have you heard of the 80/20 rule when it comes to our clothing choices? Apparently we wear 20% of the clothing that we have, 80% of the time. I can attest to this; I reach for the same basic items time and again. That said, those items have changed over the past year and some, as I've transitioned to wearing my new purchases.

The 80/20 rule applies
to many things...
With that in mind, I was determined to be ruthless in my culling activity. Anything that I hadn't worn over the past couple of years — even if they were somehow still favourites of mine — I threw into the bag.

It was my intention to put the bag away for a year. During that time, if I didn't look for anything that might be inside, off it would go to Goodwill.

A week later, I thought about how we "first worlders" dispose of things so easily and then pat ourselves on the back for our noble recycling intentions.

For example, my city has had a waste management recycling system in place for over three decades. We happily sort out items — paper, plastic and glass mostly — that would otherwise go in the garbage and put them out curbside in blue bags. 

In recent years, however, it has come to light exactly how much of what we put out actually gets recycled. Then came the embarrassing revelation that countries that had been accepting our plastics were in fact refusing them due to improper cleaning and sorting.

My unwanted clothing is not plastic (although it undoubtedly contains synthetics), but that doesn't mean it's less of a problem in the overall sense. I've heard that some of our donated clothing gets turfed by the organizations that receive them. Then once again, the discards get shipped off to the other side of world to where they are seemingly not our problem.

We need to stop this crazy cycle by being more proactive... and certainly by consuming — buying — less.


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If you're wondering what this has to do with my "bucket list" topic, here's the connection. A week after my culling activity, I was on YouTube looking at the usual sewing channels when it hit me that I had seen nothing in many weeks that looked remotely unique or that I wanted to make. Hence the rise in anxiety about running out of things to blog about and the urge to compile a list of things that I might still want to do.

During one of those YouTube visits, I found myself digging deeper into the channel of one Don Kim, who often takes thrifted clothing and repurposes the material for his projects. For instance, he took this $4.20 dress...

Don Kim on YouTube
image courtesy of Don Kim (YouTube)...

and turned it into this stylin' duffle bag.

Don Kim on YouTube
image courtesy of Don Kim (YouTube)...

YouTube is awash with sewing tutorials featuring recycled jeans, but this channel usually goes one better by pairing the denim with something else. (Which I absolutely prefer, because otherwise my first impression of the item is that it's an old pair of jeans.)

For instance, take a gander at this "bookshelf" tote bag made out of fabric scraps and jeans. So cool!

Don Kim on YouTube
image courtesy of Don Kim (YouTube)...

Seeing his work made me wonder if I could make similar use out of my unwanted clothing. Not so much the stuff in the bag, but from my closet; I have pieces hanging there that haven't been worn in over a decade.

A successful upcycle often results in the recrafted item having more appeal than the original piece(s) of clothing. That's when I decided that perhaps, part of my wind down plan should be to transform an item of clothing (or two) into something spectacular.


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Of course, I'll have to get over the guilt (not to mention nervousness) that comes from cutting into perfectly usable clothing. But when one considers what I've already written above — that in reality, the world has too much textiles already — isn't it just as well that the material be used to create something else? Especially if one is attached to particular garments because of said material?

For example...

Back of a short jacket...

Back in the day, this was a favourite topper of mine. It's designed very much like a denim jacket, but with a shirt tail hem.

Colour-wise, it matches up very nicely with this coat...

Back of a longer coat...

I have to admit that this has seen very little wear (and is therefore in perfect condition), but I've always been more attracted to the material than the coat itself... look at the lovely texture.

Unlike last winter's adventure into refashioning, I don't need additional pieces of clothing from this endeavour, so the goal won't be to make something wearable out of these.

With that in mind, should I give myself permission to take a pair of scissors to these garments? Dare I do so even after the permission is granted??
If you took advantage of Creativebug's free access week last month and saw things that drew your interest, you may want to take them up on this Black Friday/Cyber Monday promo that's on until November 30...


That's right, they're offering you a complete one year subscription (affiliate link) for only $5. It seriously can't get any better than that. And if you're not interested for yourself, think of its possibility as a great gift idea for the crafty person on your Christmas list.

'Til next...

Saturday, 20 November 2021

Sharing Some "Techspertise" — How to Find Lost Web Content

alt text
Looking for something that's no longer there?
It's been awhile since I've offered up any technical advice. Having recently found myself in need of same, however, I'm here to share.

Read on for a couple of fixes that will allow you to regain access to online content that may have "disappeared", whether overnight or long ago.

A couple of months back, I was suddenly unable to load Spoonflower's blog. It was bizarre because I could still access the other parts of the domain and website. I performed the usual "fixes" (logging out of my account and then going into Chrome's — my browser of choice and therefore the upcoming solution will pertain to it — settings to delete recent cached items) to no avail.

Not in the right mindset to dig deeper,  for several weeks, I instead resorted to using Microsoft Edge to check Spoonflower's blog.




Then about two weeks ago (after updating Chrome), I experienced the same page error — the extraordinarily nebulous "this site can't be reached" error — on another website and figured it was time to chase down an actual solution.

The laundry list of things to do to try to fix this error is long and drawn out and quite honestly, I didn't want to do some of them. (Like reset my modem, disable the firewall and change DNS servers.) It made sense to me that for something to work one day and not the next and for it to work on another browser, such drastic measures weren't required. In fact, process of elimination led me to the conclusion that it absolutely had to do with browser settings.

Here's what worked, and perhaps you can save the solution for the inevitable time in future when this happens to you. (Keep in mind that updates to Chrome will invariably change the Settings menu over time and this sequence of commands may not be exactly the same by the time you need it.)

The fix involves deleting site specific cookies.

Suddenly Unable to Access a Site?


Open up Chrome's "Customize and Control Google Chrome" drop down menu by clicking on the "traffic light" set of three dots in the top right corner of the browser. Select "Settings" from the menu to open up a Settings tab.

Select "Privacy and security" from the left hand side navigation and then click on "Site Settings".

Fix Page Error Solution for Chrome
Select Site Settings from the Privacy and security option...

Scroll down past Recent activity and Permissions to get to Content.

Fix Page Error Solution for Chrome
Select Cookies and site data...

Click on Cookies and site data and then scroll down until you get to See all cookies and site data.

Fix Page Error Solution for Chrome
Select See all cookies and site data...

When you click on See all cookies and site data, it may take time to generate the results. Be patient and let the browser work through the process.

Eventually, you will see a long list of data pertaining to websites that you have visited. To filter out the one that is giving you trouble, enter its name in the search box.

Fix Page Error Solution for Chrome
Filter out the site that is having the issue...

Once the related website data is filtered out, you can click the button to remove all or click on the individual "garbage cans" to delete specific ones individually. (I think I removed all of them.)

This particular fix ended up resolving my problems with both Spoonflower and the other site.


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Okay, so that was for a situation where you know the site you are trying to access is still alive and well. What if what you're searching for is something that's dead and gone?

Looking for a Dead Link?


For that, you'll need to use the Wayback Machine, the internet's archive of things from long and not so long ago. I keep forgetting about this archive so will use a couple of examples from my blog to highlight its usefulness and limitations.

I recently communicated with a reader about Denise Clason's sunglasses visor. Seems Denise's website has been taken down and therefore the link to her tutorial is no longer "there". While this is a simple project and I was able to provide some extra photos of the construction process to this reader, I totally forgot about checking the Wayback Machine.
Using the Wayback Machine
image courtesy of the Wayback Machine...

Here's how you use it. From the home page — the actual URL is web.archive.org — enter the link that you're searching for in the text box provided.

Results (if any) will be returned to you in the form of a bar graph of applicable years with calendar months shown further down the screen.

Using the Wayback Machine
image courtesy of the WayBack Machine...

The highlighted day in this case (June 6, 2017) indicates the last time the webpage was captured. Click on it and you'll see even more specific information regarding the time of day in which the data was collected.

Using the Wayback Machine
image courtesy of the WayBack Machine...

Click on the desired time (there could be more than one listed) and the actual web page should finally appear.

Here is the tutorial from Denise's website as captured in June 2017:

Using the Wayback Machine
image courtesy of the Wayback Machine...

The template for the project also appears as part of this page, so if you scroll down a bit, you'll get that too.

Using the Wayback Machine
image courtesy of the Wayback Machine...

This is therefore an example where everything that's necessary to replicate this particular sewing project is actually still accessible.

That's not always the case.


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In my last post of 2020, I wrote about how Sew Mama Sew no longer exists and referenced using the Wayback Machine to look up the tutorial for Thread Riding Hood's Scalloped Edge Fat Quarter Baskets.

While I was able to find the tutorial itself...

Using the Wayback Machine
image courtesy of the Wayback Machine...

... locating the PDF for the template was another matter altogether:

Using the Wayback Machine
image courtesy of the WayBack Machine...

Generally speaking, if a file was stored as a download, it'll likely be impossible to find via the Wayback Machine. This PDF was obviously not offered up on/as a web page. (Note to anyone interested in this pattern, however: I can send you the template if you want. Just contact me via the widget on the sidebar at left.)

Both of these resources/fixes have helped me out a great deal, so they're well worth keeping track of for future reference.

Of course, don't forget that the best way to keep web content accessible is to save it to your device. As soon as you see something that you like, download any actual files and PDF the rest. And then don't forget to back it up!
I've never ever held a shop-wide sale, but next Monday through Thursday (November 22nd to 25th), everything in my Makerist shop will be 20% off. They are celebrating "Black Friday" by extending it into something called "Colourful Week". (Oh, and on that note, Happy Thanksgiving to my American readers.)

Those of you who know the full story are aware that my PDF patterns sell for much less here on my blog than on Makerist, so even with a 20% discount, most prices will still be better directly from me. But a few may be a tiny bit cheaper, so I'm doing my due diligence by telling you about it.

Not only that, Makerist is hosting a subsequent 50% off event from November 26th to December 1st, if you're interested in checking out patterns by other folks. (I'm not taking part in that second sale.)

'Til next...

Saturday, 13 November 2021

Nifty Things I'm Never Going to Make [Pt 3]

alt text
Never say never, but probably not...
Welcome to part three of this series, where I feature nifty projects that I'm intrigued by, but that I'm (probably) never going to attempt. 

In case you missed the first two parts and want to catch up, you can find them here and here.

All but one of today's projects are accessories related and definitely beautiful enough for gift giving. If you're eschewing the challenges of holiday shopping this year — what with reports of supply chain issues and widespread lack of product availability — you may want to give these a go.

The first five of the following projects come from a YouTube channel called Red Blossom Designs. I've recently been fascinated by the lovely necklaces and headbands that she creates out of fabric and yarn.

I would say that these projects seem fairly easy to pull off, and any bits of jewelry findings that are required shouldn't be hard to find in the craft section of most discount stores. 




The first project is an infinity knot headband, created out of four strands of fabric covered yarn. The  same simple technique to create these strands is used in all but one of the projects that I'm highlighting here. (I have to say that the way she does it is a much more effective method than the one I had so much trouble with when I made these cuff bracelets.)

The crafter also features variations on the idea — like using just two strands — for other headbands and necklaces in her collection of tutorials. (This particular video was uploaded September 8, 2021.)

image courtesy of Red Blossom Designs
image courtesy of Red Blossom Designs (YouTube)...

As you can see, colourful fabric with small prints are ideal for making these strands.

I like the elegance of this necklace. Some basic jewelry findings are required to finish this one, but the result is quite professional and would make a special gift for someone. 

image courtesy of Red Blossom Designs
image courtesy of Red Blossom Designs (YouTube)...

The pendant is actually a fabric covered button, puffed up by some polyfil. (Video was uploaded October 10, 2021.)


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Here is the first of two "statement" necklaces that I'm drawing to your attention. This version is braided in an intriguing zigzag fashion. Bonus part? No hardware necessary; fabric, yarn and ribbon is all that's needed to create this one of a kind item. (Video uploaded September 1, 2021.)

image courtesy of Red Blossom Designs
image courtesy of Red Blossom Designs (YouTube)...

I love this next one... a fabric bracelet that uses a plastic soda bottle to give it shape. Great use of scraps and it's recycling to boot! (Video uploaded October 13, 2021.)

image courtesy of Red Blossom Designs
image courtesy of Red Blossom Designs (YouTube)...

I'll confess: if I'm likely to attempt any of these projects, this would be it.

Statement necklace number two is a chunky version. Again, no hardware required; all you need is fabric and yarn to make this stunning piece. (Video uploaded August 30, 2021.)
 
image courtesy of Red Blossom Designs
image courtesy of Red Blossom Designs (YouTube)...

So why wouldn't I make any of these? I have too many necklaces and bracelets that, quite frankly, I don't wear as it is. (Particularly during the pandemic, I've found myself going out and about with very few embellishments to my overall ensemble.) I'm also beyond the age where I might have a lot of events to attend that require playing dress-up.

For the rest of you, when summer weddings and graduations become a normal, regular thing again, a custom made piece like any of these would surely make you stand out above the crowd.


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Given the time of year, I just had to add the following project to today's post. This is from Candy Tomato (or Tomato Candy; it appears both ways on her channel) on YouTube, whose "magic basket" I made not long ago. When I saw this, I was immediately drawn to its possibilities and ended up watching the entire video. (Uploaded November 5, 2021.)

Stacking Christmas Tree by Candy Tomato
image courtesy of Candy Tomato (YouTube)...

It's a stacking Christmas tree. The six layers that you see in the photo above are stacked on top of a fabric core, shown below.

Stacking Christmas Tree by Candy Tomato
image courtesy of Candy Tomato (YouTube)...

It's simple yet intricate. Made out of certain fabrics, it could even be extremely elegant. And she sews every little bit of it by hand.

That's the reason why it makes my list of nifty things I'm never gonna make

'Til next...

Saturday, 6 November 2021

A Curvy Challenge for Your Consideration

making 3D objects out of curved pieces of fabric
What can this possibly be?
Are you familiar with a designer by the name of Josh Jakus?

His bag creations are all made out of a single curvy piece that zips up along itself and can be stored flat.

You've probably seen the bags before, but may not have known their origin. They appeared on the fashion scene about fifteen years ago. (Speaking of origin, I have no idea whether Mr. Jakus is the true originator of those curvy concepts; my guess would be that he's not.)

While I am intrigued by the simplistic shape of his UM bags, I'm not sure that in actual use they would be practical or user-friendly.

Josh Jakus UM Bag
Josh Jakus' UM Carry Bag...

Once you get over the coolness factor, you may discover that one zipper holding a whole purse together is not ideal.

Josh Jakus UM Bag
UM Carry Bag unzipped...

Perhaps it's more useful in one of the smaller pouch formats (for which I know some independent designers have come out with their own patterns).
Josh Jakus bags
Josh Jakus UM Bag collection...

I didn't realize until recently just how easy it is to draft a pattern for something like this (more on that later). Let me follow up that statement, however, with the fact that it may not be that easy to sew something like this.

By the way, the original website and social media accounts for Mr. Jakus are no longer accessible. I assume the photos reproduced here originally belonged to the designer; in any case, no copyright infringement is intended.




Mr. Jakus' creations are made out of industrial wool felt. At first I thought the zipper tape was applied directly against the wrong side of the material (that is, exposed zipper tape with no lining) but I've since seen photos of the interior and the zipper is definitely sandwiched between two layers of the felt.

interior view of zipper installation on a Jakus bag...

If you can find a similar type of wool felt (maybe check out your thrift stores for old woolen blankets), the sewing part would be infinitely easier to do than attempting to make one of these curvy creations out of regular fabric that frays and needs to have a finished edge. (That said, it's always nice to have the option of something a little less bland than plain woolen felt.)

A couple of months ago, I came upon an instructable by Jenna Fizel that demonstrated the process for designing one of these bags. (Her contribution — which includes various patterns available for downloading — won the 2007 Homemade for the Holidays competition at instructables.com.)

Apparently, all you really need to do is draw a lopsided open ellipse (about eighty percent of the way to being closed) and then join the start point and end point with a straight line. Here's my attempt (the blue is the hand drawn curve; the white is the joining of the end points):

draw a closed curve
Draw an open curve and close the two ends with a straight line...

Next, cut out the shape and trace a copy of it. Cut out the traced copy. This results in two pieces that can now be taped along the straight edges, forming a symmetrical curvy shape.

create a curvy template
Create a symmetrical template...

It's now a template to cut your material.


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I intentionally did this on a small scale to test the process. (The template shown above is about 5.5" tall.) After cutting out my scrap of fabric, I proceeded to hand baste it together, end to end onto itself, simulating what a zipper would do.

curvy challenge test
Testing the curvy challenge by sewing all the way around...

It totally worked. The bottom has a twisty parallelogram look to it. (I stuffed it with cotton before sewing it closed, so that I could see it in 3D format.)

So that proves that you can DIY your own pattern for these one of a kind curvaceous pouches. That part is easy.

curvy challenge test
Another view...

Figuring out the best way to sew a zipper along that winding, curvy edge is probably not as easy. I definitely think that these patterns call for zipper tape "by the yard". That way, you don't have to worry about getting the right length and you can also separate the tape and sew each side independently. (Alternatively, if having the whole thing unzip into a flat piece isn't that important, one could install a zipper along just a portion of the edge for a more traditional pouch.)


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I may take another kick at this with a larger test piece, with fabric on both sides. We'll see how it goes, if it goes anywhere. ;-)

Meanwhile, if you're interested in seeing how Jenna Frizel approached the challenge, go to https://www.instructables.com/Flat-Zipper-Bag-and-Wallet/ and check out her patterns.

'Til next...