Larks as Learning Opportunities

Last night I went through a stack of magazines I’d picked up at a tourist information stand and free at work. Something caught my eye as I was paging through a tourism magazine, and a while later I had this:

No. 1: The Larch.
No. 1: The Larch. 9″x12″, 2017. Sketch pad paper, Mod Podge, two outdated issues of the Vermont Visitor’s Guide.

Well, not literally; I trimmed the edges this morning. But essentially.

Just a lark, slopped together with lots of mod podge and minimal care. I intend to make more collages in the future, though, so I thought I’d record what went well here and what I would change if I were doing a collage like this to be a serious piece.

The Good:

  • I laid my sketch pad paper out on waxed paper and glued magazine clippings off the edge. The waxed paper meant I could turn it over and see the edges for trimming this morning without having to try to peel it off in advance.
  • I had tons and tons of the little clippings. I kept cutting them even though I was sure I would end up with something like twice as many as I needed. Nope, I needed all of them.
  • I saved out one of each version of the key to make sure they were all represented on the top layer.

The Not So Good:

  • I couldn’t get a sweet spot between too much and not enough Mod Podge in its role as adhesive. If it was a thick enough layer not to dry immediately it wrinkled the paper and made it translucent. If I were doing this “for real,” I would … well, I’d be a lot more careful in a lot of ways! But in particular, I wouldn’t use Mod Podge as the primary adhesive. Instead, I’d use a glue stick to attach one round of clippings (probably over half) with minimal overlap but hopefully good coverage. Then I would dab on a thin layer of Mod Podge, covering the whole page, and let it dry. Intermediate layers of Mod Podge should mean I wouldn’t have to worry about making sure the glue stick was all the way out to the corners of every clipping. Repeat with the rest of the non-reserved clippings, and finally with the reserved clippings. Then probably one more layer of Mod Podge, thicker now because the previous coatings should protect the paper from wrinkling.

Quite a bit gained from following that moment of silly inspiration!

A tote for my Brother

Five or so years ago I bought an inexpensive Brother sewing machine to be my backup/portable machine. It’s made a little superfluous by my later acquisition of the Morse, and a club I’m part of is looking at turning some of our shelving into “cubbies” for individual members. Having learned there would be interest in a shared sewing machine there I’ve decided to use my cubby – whenever it exists – to house the Brother.

Brother sewing machine with tote bag

A sewing machine never travels alone, of course, and so a tote was in order for the manual, foot pedal, and bobbins. I also wanted to have some way to track use, for maintenance purposes, and a small sewing kit included to start people off.

contents of bag's outer pockets contents of main pocket of bag

The main tote bag has two outer pockets, sized to hold the manual + quick start guide and a small notebook for record-keeping. You’ve seen that small notebook before, of course, though it has the addition of a “sewing machine log” banner across the cover.

Inside the main tote are a drawstring bag and the foot pedal/power cord for the machine. The hot pink shoelace drawstring was in my stash; I believe my mother tied a gift for me with it at some point.

contents of inner drawstring bag

The drawstring bag is the sewing kit. The bobbin box was left over from a large project I am now realizing I never blogged, but it originally held pre-filled black and white bobbins. I half-filled it with a different set of pre-filled bobbins plus the three that came with the Brother. It also seemed like a good place for the Brother’s spare needles. The small plastic box originally held pins, from the same older project, and now has safety pins and a few snaps and hooks and eyes. The pincushion has one hand-sewing needle and a bunch of pins that came with the seam gauge and silver marking pencil. And, of course, you can’t have a sewing kit without scissors and a seam ripper.

I used this machine as a backup once when my machine had to go to the hospital in the middle of a project, but other than that it’s hardly been used. I’m looking forward to it being enjoyed instead of sitting on my shelf!

Independence Day crafting

Thank goodness for federal holidays! I jealously guard the ones I can for me-time, which means crafting time. Memorial Day was taken up with travel which means July 4th was the first time since President’s Day that I had a day I could preserve for just crafting – no chores, no errands, no outside obligations. Not coincidentally it was also the first time since President’s Day that I spent a whole afternoon in my sewing room; in fact, I spent a long afternoon plus the second half of the morning. It was glorious.

So let me show you what I made! There was some time spent on projects that didn’t get finished, of course, but I was very pleased with the completions.

old and new fabric coasters

On the left, my old sewing room coasters, thin and blah. On the right, my new sewing room coasters, one layer thicker and more visually appealing. I had cut them out and done the first round of sewing previously, so finishing them was a sort of warm-up.

tool roll, rolled up tool roll opened out

A roll for tools, similar to a knitting needle roll: one short divided pocket. Limitations of fabric meant the pocket couldn’t extend the whole way across, but that’s all right. The flap helps keep things together. I may decide to add a snap or other closure but we’ll see how it works out like this.

tool bag from side, with front side up tool bag from side with backside up

What the tool roll goes inside, the main event: a sewing machine repair travel tool bag. In this I can stash the basics for transport to the Sew-op or a friend’s house; any problems that require more than what fits in such a bag will be call for the machine to come home with me.

tool bag open and filled with tools

I am pleased with the bag and very pleased with myself that I dialed back my original plans, which would have involved many more pockets, individual elastic compartments for the three boxes, and in general a lot of complexity that may not have been so likely to come out well.

Except for the dark fabric making the “spine” of the bag the fabrics were all upholstery samples donated to the Sew-op. I bought the zippers – plus coordinating thread, but I decided to match the white serging they all shared instead. The rope was in our basement and the elastic was in my stash, as were all the materials for the previously-listed projects. A good haul for a day off.