Good at naming things?

Naming things is an underestimated skill. Naming products is a part of the brand, part of the story, which is also on the market. While I want to give as much information in the title as possible, “Cat’s eye brick stitch pear shapes with Swarovski Crystal Necklace” is a mouthful. A shorter title like, “Crystal Cat’s Eye Necklace,” could describe any number of other items. Both options are boring.

My bartender pals make it look so easy when they name cocktails. I feel like I had the hardest time naming my new favorite necklace. I had to crowd source. Kind of a fun social experiment to see how many did, didn’t, and in-between (meaning suggesting word association might help) make suggestions. Here’s what I got from the exercise:

Poire (French for pear)
Winter is Coming
Golden Leaves
Cersei’s Jewels
Endless Sunset
Galactic Disco (Haha! Thanks, Mrs. Partner)

Why did I settle on Alice? I made the majority of this necklace while watching Once Upon a Time, and while Alice in Wonderland does not figure prominently, there is activity in Wonderland with the Mad Hatter and Queen of Hearts. Really, the use of cat’s eye cabochon made me zero in on the Cheshire Cat and Dinah. Alice likes cats, and so do I. So… yep.

So, are you good at naming things? What’s your process?

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April 30, 2017 at 3:36 pm Leave a comment

April Adamant and Art Nouveau Hair Decoration

I am on schedule with birthstone jewelry for April, which is diamond also known as adamant which also means hard (like diamonds) and unyielding (stubborn). Yeah, well, I didn’t buy diamonds, but I have some really pretty Swarovski crystal that will still sparkle brilliantly. This is my newest piece, but at MaggieMakesIt.com there are many other options to honor someone with an April birthday.

I am most excited about two new head pieces I’ve made. I made a whole mess of wire flowers and filled the petals in with nail polish. I wrapped the stems to a hair comb with red Swarovski crystals. It can be worn a little further forward, and perhaps on the side of a French twist. This is the second version of this piece. When I wore it to the Oscars Party, it seemed to be missing something. I remade it, new and improved, with sparklies.

And I’m extremely proud about this Mucha-inspired headband made with hand enameled acrylic flowers, seed beads, and red agate. The main technique is brick stitch, but I used herringbone for the pendulous flowers. Happy April!

April 5, 2017 at 4:22 pm Leave a comment

Ostentatious Aqua

In honor of the March birthstone, aquamarine, I have used up all the aqua Swarovski crystal in my supply. Shhhhhimmering loudly. Certainly for a special occasion. I did make some other items that are a little more everyday.

All can be found on my website and some on my Etsy.

March 13, 2017 at 11:16 pm 1 comment

Handmade appliqué on stretchy knit dress; 1st try, not bad

I love red. I would probably wear it all the time, but for limited closet space and funds. My favorite red dress has this tiny hole on the back and I was hoping no one would notice. It’s small, one-tenth the size of a penny. My manager noticed the hole and the dress code stipulates clothes with holes may not be worn to work. That was my signal to fix it. I thought of replacing the whole back of the dress, but color matching was a problem and the danger of taking the dress apart and never getting it back to it’s former glory. I could just sew a new back piece over the original, but that might make the dress unsuitable to wear on some of the warmer days in San Luis Obispo. Just covering the hole with zig-zag stitch wouldn’t do the dress any favors. And suddenly, I had the appliqué epiphany.

Stretchy cotton knit is not the easiest material to appliqué. I’d experimented with sewing t-shirts together, and the puckering and over-stretch discouraged me. Enter Pinterest and the interwebs. The traditional appliqué method for knits requires a hoop and tear away stabilizer. Meh. I don’t want to send things to the landfill if I don’t have to and I don’t have space in my craft box for a hoop. I did come across several tutorials for putting appliqués on kids leotards. Jack. Pot. The basic idea is to stiffen the fabric with liquid starch or other spray stiffener, eliminating need to use the tear away stabilizer. I chose Alene’s brand fabric stiffener. I also picked up a fabric glue stick of generic brand for good measure.

So, I have the dress as my base, my vehicle for appliqué. What to use for the ACTUAL appliqué? I got t-shirts. I got lots of t-shirts and some that needed to become muscles tees and a tank top developing a hole that needed replacement anyway. Cutting off the sleeves is limited amount of material for an appliqué and I wouldn’t get a do-over if I screwed up (I do recommend doing a practice run on other materials; advice I should follow). So planning became important here. How do you like my plan sketch? As you may remember, I adore Art Nouveau and Alphonse Mucha, which is where I drew inspiration for this sketch. I drew it out full scale so I could cut it up and use it as a pattern. I don’t have much confidence in my freehand, but it didn’t turn out too bad.

unnamed-4I sprayed two coats of stiffener to the base and all appliqué fabrics before cutting, allowing to fully dry between coats. After cutting, I used the fabric glue stick to put the pieces together and I sprayed another two coats of stiffener. The fabric wasn’t stiff as a board, but stiff enough to resist stretch. (All told, there were probably five coats of stiffener on the base (dress) and the appliqué pieces.) I took a lot of time during all these steps, probably a month or two, just meditating how to keep the project from going wrong. Really, I was paralyzed with fear of screwing up my favorite red dress.

I sewed the pieces of the applique together first, to minimize the sewing I had to do on the dress. I had no idea how resistant the stiffener might be and didn’t want to degrade it. After the initial sewing, I sprayed the appliqué with stiffener yet again and then left for CiderCon 2017 in Chicago.

The dried stiffener had cause the appliqués to be bumpy and curl at the very tips. I pressed  them after my nose stopped leaking from the cold I developed in Chicago and set out to pinning it to the dress. I used a ruler to get it centered and proceeded with lots of pins. I mean, a lot. Just in case. Just for my piece of mind. I also grabbed some Stitch Witchery, a double-sided iron-on thin fusible whatsit, and pinned that under the appliqué over the hole in the dress. I doubted the hole would get bigger with the appliqué protecting it, but again, just for piece of mind. Then finally, FINALLY, I started sewing onto the dress. I chose a very small stitch size, like for button holes, and a medium-wide zig-zag stitch on the machine and I went slowly. Very slowly. Experience has taught me to start from the middle and work my way out with sewing on a machine because the top and bottom fabrics tend to move at different speeds due to different friction effects. It’s a really good habit to keep things even and symmetrical in your sewing, so the shoulders meet the sleeves in the right place, for example. Last thing to do was follow directions on the Stitch Witchery package to seal the hole to the appliqué.

Whew. Looked pretty good. So I washed it. Even after drying it still puckered a little, but I’m still very pleased by it. Next time, I’ll do 10 coats of stiffener and sew even slower. Yes, I did wear it yesterday for the Day Without Women March.

March 9, 2017 at 7:53 am 1 comment

The month of purple

Amethyst is the birthstone of February. I failed in my new years goals to make anything amethyst or purple, but I did donate platelets and get a purple pressure bandage. (Public Service Message: go donate blood! Make your appointment today at your local blood bank. Give blood three times a year!)

I took a break from a Mucha-style headdress to do some sewing. It’s been tough getting out from behind my sewing machine; I have been in the zone! Since January, I have made three vests, three reversible bow ties, two reversible berets, one reversible suspenders, altered one brazier (you know, a bra), and made my own appliqué (post coming shortly) while watching Star Wars Clone Wars on Netflix (in the correct order). I have plans next to alter two dresses, a pair of silk boxers, and make my first neck tie, but I thought I would give the machine a break.

Other exciting things have kept me from making new purple jewelry, such as Cider Con 2017 in Chicago, kicking the cold I developed after Cider Con, a baby shower, a singing gig with In the Groove, an Oscar’s viewing party (I don’t really care much about the Oscars, but it is a dress-up party), and an unpredictable work schedule to offset the time I missed. I did make a nail-enamel-flower comb/headdress that turned out awesome of the Oscar party… I’ll put it on the store soon.

Meanwhile, I do already have purply items on my Etsy and in my store. I should start on March with aquamarine before doing anything else.

February 28, 2017 at 12:34 am Leave a comment

Meet Cleo

Happy New Year. As we meet 2017, I’d also like to introduce Cleo. My beloved sister-in-law Erica introduced us a few years back. Our relationship had a slow start, but has really flourished in the last few months.

As my faithful head assistant, she is tireless and hard working, even when accidents happen to dent her cheeks and snub her nose. She loves purple and punk rock. Her guilty pleasure is cosplay. She loves Pulp Fiction and often dresses as Mrs. Mia Wallace. She’s not that fond of beer; well, more for me. For all her virtues, I really do wish she would argue with me a little more.

She works part-time for me modeling fascinators, headbands, and, now hats. Check out my first few berets with matching bow ties! She does wish she could model the suspenders and vests I’m making, but just doesn’t have the shoulders for it.

Stay tuned for the next installment of projects; vests, and headpiece in progress…

January 11, 2017 at 6:15 pm Leave a comment

Holiday Goal Achieved

 

Yup, I did it. Thirty products have been added to Etsy and MaggieMakesIt.com since Black Friday. Clearly, it’s good to have goals. It might even be good time to set goals for next year. A series of manageable goals may keep the creative energy flowing.

  1. One new item a week (that’s 4-5 a month, so we’ll round it to 50 products a year–there might be a few weeks when I travel). I think that seems like a reasonable number, which means I won’t feel the need to add so many products during the holidays as I did this year. I give myself permission to get ahead some weeks, and double up weeks should I fall behind. Why not start now before the end of the year? That means a bonus product before the gifting season is over!
  2. A birthstone item every month.
  3. One sewing project every month. I still have a bunch of vests to make.

Well, I think that’s probably enough. I still have to make time for my job and Two Broads, after all.

Now for this week’s new items: I have been working on an ambitious project most of the week, so as Saturday rolled around I panicked because I didn’t have anything new yet. I managed to revamp a few older items just in time. The following is a series of before and after shots.

This is where I ran out of large leaves to add to the clusters. I had to switch to tiny, tiny leaves on the pink and white necklace that follows.

I think those tiny, tiny leaves would be adorable on earrings like the ones below, too. Maybe for next time. Stay tuned.

 

 

December 13, 2016 at 5:40 am Leave a comment

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