Tuesday, November 10, 2009


Hmm, did I say "more regular posting"? Perhaps I underestimated how busy I might be as I start working on my master's thesis. I'm doing the thesis about how to make it easier to use gestures and movement to control various media in performance. See, lots of performance artists have "gestures" trigger sound effects, shape video projections, or affect music; however, the actual code for these systems generally looks at really low-level things about movement, like "What's the voltage value on the bend sensor for the left elbow?" rather than something potentially more meaningful like "How much is the arm extended?" As an example (and this is something I did for my Sponsor Week project this year), if I gave someone a glove and said, "When you wear this glove, the system can recognize if you're flicking your hand, how hard you flick your hand, if you're squeezing, how tightly you're squeezing, if you're waving, if you're tilting your hand to the side, if you're shaking your hand back and forth... so how do you want those gestures to control sound or visuals?" they'll immediately be thinking of very different interactions than if I gave them a glove and said, "This glove has a bend sensor on the index finger and an accelerometer on the back of the hand. How do you want to control sound or visuals?" So in order to really experiment intuitively in rehearsal/performance with using gestures, I think you have to have a higher-level representation of gesture and movement qualities.

On the less techno-babble side of things, most recent refashion/construction: Halloween costume for the boyfriend, who wanted to be an elf (Lord of the Rings style). We'd made the long hooded cloak from a pattern last year, and this year added a quick elf tunic (refashioned from a green sheet), collared shirt (a reject of my brother's), a belt (really just a long strip of felt), and some pants from the dollar-a-pound clothing store. Didn't have the time to make or find a bow and arrows, unfortunately. (I went as a 1920's flapper, which pretty much meant: red velvet dress that I had gotten on sale for $9 a couple of years ago, a $2 red feather for my hair, stockings, and the character shoes I've had for a good number of years.)

So. Hopefully more jewelry refashioning soon. Also, I have a couple of easy (I hope) 1960's dress patterns that are waiting for a free evening and some stash fabric...

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Back to more regular posting

So after a well-intentioned spurt of posting around the time I signed up for Wardrobe Refashion, summer hit...and I was working on designing and helping to make costumes for a show (Bat Boy, The Musical), doing my regular job/research work, and preparing for an opera workshop that my group is doing next week...wait, actually it starts the day after tomorrow with a performance next week. I'm not singing or anything like that, just doing tech and programming/visuals/robotics help.

But in any case, I got a bit distracted from the whole crafting/refashioning thing. I'm going to get back to more regular posting and making. Most of my refashioning energy now is going into making one-of-a-kind jewelry pieces from old, broken, and/or vintage jewelry and buttons. I even set back up the Etsy shop that I had opened a year or so ago and then never really did anything with. I've also developed a slightly worrisome Ebay habit, resulting in a number of beautiful vintage patterns, vintage trims, and random bunches of junk jewelry coming my way. However, that's stopped now. I have to now make some wonderful stuff with my stash! And then put it on Etsy and try to share it... I can only wear so many pieces of jewelry, after all.

For fun, a couple of pictures of some of the costumes I designed for Bat Boy (credit Jax Kirtley):

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Jeans to jean skirt

This weekend's quick project involved a pair of jeans that I couldn't wear anymore due to fairly significant tearing/wear in the inner thighs. (I can't tell if this is because of how I walk or because the pants were too tight to begin with, or a combination of both.) I've been able to patch other pairs of jeans this has happened to, but this pair was really lightweight denim -- a fancy brand that I'd won a pair of in a Lucky Magazine giveaway. So pants I'd gotten for free, but also nice enough that I didn't want to toss them due to irreparable crotch problems. So, I decided to make them into a skirt, with inspiration from this tutorial.

I ripped the seams up the inner legs all the way up, then cut off the legs partway up. I then cut out the extra fabric in the inner thighs that had been torn and worn. The fabric from the lower legs got used to fill the triangular gaps in the middle.

Here's the work in progress. You can see the folds on the bottom of the leg piece from where I'd hemmed up (and not cut) the jeans when I first got them! The detail I particularly like here is how I was able to match the seam down the middle of the lower leg piece (which used to be the the outside of the leg) with the seam down the middle of the back. (I did this on the front as well). I top-stitched everything using a thread that decently matched the stitching already present on the jeans.

And here's the finished, hemmed piece! A little bit wrinkled in odd places... you can slightly tell that these used to be jeans, especially as there's no triangular panels on the sides. (I saw some tutorials that did that, but those looked more complicated than I wanted to bother with for this skirt.) But it's a really comfortable skirt, especially because the denim is fairly light and soft, and I'll definitely get some more use out of it this way.

Here it is again from the side. All the nice cut and complicated details of jeans in the waist and hips, with the comfort of a skirt.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Quick refashion

So this quick refashion came from me going through my closet and pulling out some stuff that I really haven't worn in ages. The Wardrobe Refashion challenge has officially begun, so time to get some refashioning in before I travel most of next week.

This started out as a long velvet skirt given to me years ago by a friend cleaning out her closet who thought of me because of the fabric. (I'm a big fan of velvet.) I loved the color and the fabric, and wore the skirt a few times, but found that the skirt was pretty unflattering. It's a little too tight on me, has slits so far up both sides that I'm a bit uncomfortable, and drapes in such a way as to make me look pregnant (which I'm certainly not).

I realized I hadn't worn the skirt in a few years, but still loved the fabric. And thus...time to make it into a quick stretch velvet top! I used another stretch shirt for the pattern, then just cut into the skirt, matching hems so that I wouldn't have to hem the bottom of the shirt. This is what was left of the skirt afterwards...

I sewed up the sides, left the neckline and sleeves unfinished because the knit velvet isn't unraveling (I call it a slightly deconstructed look; maybe it really just is lazy), and called it a new shirt.

And you know what? It just so happens to match a skirt that I'd made a couple of days ago out of a bit of the fabric I picked up from the Gilbert and Sullivan players.

So... skirt I didn't wear to shirt I hopefully will! (maybe not till it hits fall again, though.)

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Preparing for Wardrobe Refashion

Today was a good day for free sewing things (thanks to the school's Gilbert and Sullivan Players cleaning out their storage area and trying to get rid of things). I got loads of fabric...mostly solid color cottons and a couple of small prints, nothing too exciting. But I did grab several pieces that were two or more yards long, so I have a lot of free fabric to play with. I'm much better at taking risks with patterns with free fabric.

My favorite piece of fabric: multicolored brocade with gold thread. Too bad it's less than a yard with pieces cut out of it. But it could make a nice bag.

More excitingly, I managed to snag something that's going to make my clothing constructing/refashioning/reconstructing work go much more smoothly:

Yes! My very own beat-up dress form! I suspect it may have some hidden issues (as they were throwing it away, after all...) but for now I'm quite excited.

Boojiboo Flirty Apron GUEST GIVEAWAY!!!!

I had come across the Etsy shop for boojiboo a while ago...beautiful vintage-style fitted aprons. My favorite is the Bella cut, very 1950's. So I was excited to see this giveaway from Grosgrain...

Boojiboo Flirty Apron GUEST GIVEAWAY!!!!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Hopping on the Wardrobe Refashion bandwagon

So I came across http://www.wardroberefashion.net/ today and thought signing up was a terrific and inspiring idea, particularly as I've recently gotten very interested in reconstruction and have a whole stack of Garment District finds and fabric waiting for creation/recreation. So, I signed up and took the pledge: "I pledge that I shall abstain from the purchase of "new" manufactured items of clothing, for the period of 2 / 4 / 6 months. I pledge that i shall refashion, renovate, recycle preloved items for myself with my own hands in fabric, yarn or other medium for the term of my contract. I pledge that I will share the love and post a photo of my refashioned, renovoted, recycled, crafted or created item of clothing on the Wardrobe Refashion blog, so that others may share the joy that thy thriftiness brings!"

Copied from the Wardrobe Refashion website...

The Rules

  • 1.
    No buying new! (handmade is excepted; So this allows for Etsy purchases etc!!) All clothing must be Recycled, Renovated, Preloved or Thrifted, or Handmade only for the term. Employment related and special needs clothing (ie sports, school), shoes and undies are excepted from the rules, although you are encouraged to have a go at making these.
  • 2.
    In extreme circumstances, maybe a special event, or the worlds greatest and most amazing never to be repeated sale that you simply can not pass up, you may use the Get out of Refashionista Jail Free card. You are able to use this card once during the 2 month part of your contract; ie 1 for 2 months, 2 for 4 months etc. Of course you need to fess up on the blog and display the button!
  • 3.
    You must post on the blog at least once a week to let the community know what you've been up to. This will not only give you brag points, but inspire and encorouge others! Of course you need to display the button on your blog and have copied the pledge in at least one post, and provide a link to your pledge under the button.
  • 4.
    You need to be honest and admit when you've fallen off the Refashionista Wagon! Go directly to Refashionista Jail, do not pass GO and do not collect $200! Apply for parole once there.
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