Sunday, December 20, 2009


It's so easy to lose oneself in fun and enjoyable, yet probably time - wasting and self - absorbing things, like cutting out pretty fabrics and making gorgeous lacy things and frills and flounces and tiers and girly things i may never wear or sell (but fingers crossed, of course that I will)....

After a once - again extremely necessary spare - bedroom cleaning, (the fabrics were getting outta control again - I have been utterly mean this time in cleaning and reboxing and sorting... I even THREW OUT some fabrics!!!!),
 I "came across" some really pretty fabrics that I just needed to sew right away.
The fabrics are all sorted into boxes of colours now - where once they were sorted into fabric types - and I found some lovely quilting fabrics in blues and pinky browns that I couldn't HELP but to cut up into little rectangles and start sewing immediately!
I mostly make "crazy patchwork" - where i just mix any fabric in any colour and any sized patches, although I have made a few quilts where I have followed some kind of structure....this was not always a planned thing.
This time I DID plan to make a specific pattern using different shades of the colours.
I suppose being so anal as to have my boxes of fabric sorted into type, meant that the blues and pinks were already sorted into cottons suitable for patchworking; lots of tiny florals, and tones and shades of both the pinks, browney-pinks (of all bloody things, hey, Elise?) and blues.

 I simply had a pile of fabrics, made a template and started chopping.
I did stop to think that "normal patchworkers" probably have a number in mind of HOW MANY patches to cut before they start.... I hadn't thought of that... (my rotary cutter died not long after I started so I had to continue manually after I had started... It wasn't such an unpleasant job).
Another "norm" for me is to lay all my work out on the floor. There is always enough room for big things like quilts that way, but I tend to do the same for pretty much everything I sew. I am also guessing "normal quilters" (by normal I mean the ones who are NOT just making it up as they go, as I do) would have some kind of plan on how the pieces go together once they have been cut. The floor this time, allowed me to put the colours together in the pattern - ish kinda thing I wanted to do.
As usual the cats have an opinion on everything, and our new buddy Humphrey is no different. He enjoyed helping "place" (or should I say rearrange...) the patches after I had laid them out on the floor in order.... and his ideas on how LONG one should sew, slightly differed to mine.....there were even times when I WANTED to keep sewing and COULDN'T!!! Go figure!

Dear Humphrey had a PARTICULAR opinion about the making of my parasol... He loved it, and thinks it's the greatest toy in the WORLD! Mostly because I didn't want him to touch it, I think!

A month or so back I pulled the light shade down out of my room because it needed a wash, but upon doing so, realised it would have to be cut and re-sewed to wash properly, or just hosed off, if not.
I went for the cut and no-re-sew option....
I have had the desire to make a parasol, and the plans floating around in my head for some time (this also seems to be one of my norms - floating plans) and after cutting the fabric off the lighht shade noticed the cute shape of it, and set straight to making that parasol.

The frame was covered in fabric binding-y stuff already, so i made a template for the panels and gathered all my laces and the pretty fabrics and all other projects were put on hold for a little while.
I had an idea in my head of making a cat handle for it, and one day while sitting at Red Rock while Josh was swimming,  I took some newspaper and found a stick as fat as (what I thought) a piece of dowel was, and started to make the papier mache-able shape.

I did papier mache him once I got home, and cloth machie'd him as well, with a canvas-y white cloth. Each layer needed to dry in between glueings so I could easily do the lace-y, fiddly bits while he dried.

I used TONNES of lace and used an "heirloom style" of putting the laces together and sewing them onto the panels after they had been pieced together.
I have a book that teaches how to make an heirloom bonnet and dress, and I simply used the same technique for putting the laces together: one row of normal flat lace, sewn to a row of gathered lace, topped with a row of either eye-hole (ribbon - hole - whatever it's called) or the like, sewn to another row of flat or gathered lace if desired.
The panel pieces I made using a lace fabric, and a lining of satin.

I had lots of laces I would have LIKED to have used, but tried to stick to bright whites only. The OTHER favourite that I DID'T use for the panel pieces, I used instead to cover the cat handle piece and the top pointy peice for the parasol.... while the piece of lace was laying on the ironing board one day, I thought two out of the row of flowers looked a little like eyes and so decided they SHOULD then be the eyes of the cat.

I haven't used the electric drill in quite some years, and after an interesting start, and some great advice from dad about a pilot hole with a nail, I managed to drill a hole sufficient distance from the top of the dowel to be wired into place inside the light shade frame... which quite handily has the little metal plate thingy with a hole through it (for sitting between the screwey - inney bit in the light fixture and the ceiling bit)... a little big, but close enough to the size of the dowel to make it relatively easy to wire it into place.

I cut up a wire coathanger to make the cross - wire pieces, and covered them and the handle, and every other exposed piece of wire, with lace..... all this while letting the next layer of glue dry on the cat (the OTHER lace)... and working AROUND another cat.
It is a little hard to see in this photo, or any for that matter, but I hope you can see enough to get the idea.
To finish teh HANDLE cat's little face off I would like to go to the bead shop and buy some clear rhinestones or something pretty and shiny maybe blue even, for the pupils of the eyes.

In my mind a little "harajuku" style wouldn't hurt some of my designs and so after all wiring and lacing and glueing of the final bits on top, and using the left over pieces of satin and lace fabrics, I made a large bow for the outside top of the parasol, with lovely long tails that hang down past one's shoulder when holding it!

I am pretty pleased with the final results of my endeavours. It turned out pretty damn close to what I had pictured and planned out in my head.... I like it when things go the way I plan them!
Humphrey was totally supportive and encouraging of every one of my ideas along the way, and every layer of lace was deemed perfect... I like it when others like my ideas too!

Now although everything else went on hold till the parasol was done, it was like a flood of inspiration hit me while making it, and so finishing the parasol and continuing with the quilts and some other projects as well, sort of blended so there was no finish and no start kinda thing.

With the pink quilting fabrics, I wanted to simply line up the colours from light to dark.

For the blue quilt I had pictured in my head a kind of swirling vortex, spinning from a central very light to an outer very dark.

I have never done a quilt like this, so I thought of my cross - stitches when I was laying out the colours, and how each stitch of colour builds towards the final picture.

I had a lot of fun with it!
So did Humphrey AND Biggles! (Possum did too, she just isn't in these photos... (it's OK Possum - you have your very own page-bloggy-thing!) Humphrey is asleep in the far right of the photo after God only knows how long he spent deciding which colours should go where).

I tend to never do things by ones, so several skirts and bustiers I had on the go were very close to finishing this week, and after lots of testing and then the purchase of some new eyelets, I finished those.
I had 4 bustiers cut out and mostly sewn up this time last week, and all only took about twenty minutes to finsh the sewing of, and then a little ten minute eyelet -ing and they were done!

While doing the white bustier that I had in the works, though, I fell in love with it, and decided it was to be mine, and that I needed a mini tutu to match, and that the parasol could then be worn (held?) with this outfit in (hopefully) a harajuku outfit one day. 

Once again all went on hold till the tutu
was finished, but the other three bustiers were finished quickly when I did get back to them.... which in itself was kinda fun, coz it feels like I'm sewing really fast, when in fact I'm not - just the majority of the sewing was done another time, and the finsihing touches don't take so long really.

Anyway, the cute white tutu petticoat I made myself a few months back will fit nicely under the tutu and with black boots.... mmmmmad!!!

Just had to mention that. Teheh.

Ok, so, one of the pink bustiers that I finished was made to go with the "medieval maid" costume... It was all finished waiting for the bustier.
The costume consists of 5 pieces: cap, blouse, bustier, apron and skirt. I had a wicked fun time making it as well.... it's made in a size 10.

The remaining two pink bustiers I made matching mini skirts for (hence using up all the pieces of the pink fabric - man I'm a good fabric - user - upper!)
 These of course i will hopefully sell on ebay or the markets or wherever people wanna buy my stuff I'll be happy to sell it to them!
I guiltily have now gotten these listed on ebay, after a week of listing nothing due to extreme laziness or some other patheic nonsensical excuse like I can't get near my own computer for the man child monster that sits and guards it daily and will fight to the death to keep his guard!

I also have guiltily now resumed work (play? haha) with the patchwork quilts and will have those finished within a day or so.... "guiltily" because I made a promise to myself that I wouldn't make any more quilt tops till I had finished the previous TWENTY I unearthed last time I cleaned up the spare bedroom!!! (I only have about 6 to go.... that's close enough I guess.....maybe not so "guiltily" after all)
Quilting seems to relax me or something. So back to it I go!!

And for YOU to read while I am quiltilng happily away........

Parasol History:

Metal ribs were first manufactured in 1851

Cane and Whalebone ribs were seldom seen after 1870

Pre-1865 parasols had slender sticks that often folded in half for storage

Fashionable Parasol lengths started out shorter early on and grew longer as the decades progressed reaching their longest in the Edwardian era.

My personal observations are that 1870's and earlier parasols were generally under 28" in length,
with larger parasols appearing in the 1880's.

Victorian Parasol Flirtations

Much like the modern woman, Victorian Ladies were concerned with porcelain complexions. In Victorian times, the parasol was the original SPF 30, providing shade from direct sun. By the early 1800's parasols had become a wardrobe necessity that no fashionable Lady could be without. Here are a few clever flirtations for Victorian style fun in the sun:

1- Carrying it elevated in left hand: "Desiring your acquaintance."

2- Carrying it elevated in right hand : "I am willing."

3- Carrying it closed in left hand: "Let's meet at the first crossing."
4- Carrying it closed in right hand:  "Follow me."
5- Carrying it over right shoulder:"You can speak to me."
6- Closing it: "I will speak to you."
7- End of tip to lips: "Do you love me?"
8- Folding it up: "I wish to get rid of your company!"

A brief History of the Parasol...

Parasols In Fashion
Throughout America, Europe & Victorian England a Parasol was consider an essentual part of ladies fashion. They were as important to a lady as her gloves,scarves,hats and footwear. Originating in the East indies some 3,000 years previous, they did not appear in the Americas until around 1740 but by the mid 1800 every woman would own at least two, one black and one white. By the 1860s large bonnets and hats had gone out of fashion and the more dainty head dress was supported by woman, so to ward away the suns damaging rays on perfectly smooth and pale skin a parasol was employed to shield the Victorian Ladies faces. Parasols became status symbols used by ladies, a lady was never to be seen carrying an umbrella as they were for gentlemens use only to convey ladies from carriage to doors to prevent her being rained on. A lady in an open top carriage would always have her parasol up and on display to all to convey that she was indeed a lady.
Enchanting parasols became one of the most prevelant gifts for a gentleman to give his sweetheart during the 19th century. Because of their elegance, extravagance, and expense, it would have been a grave impropriety for a gentleman to give a parasol to a young lady for whom his intentions were not serious, and in return, a proper and decorous young lady would not have accepted such a gift unless she intended to receive the gentleman, as well Therefore, it became conventional for a groom to give to his bride a parasol as part of his wedding gift to her.
In 1740, a fashionable lady appeared on the street corner in Windsor, Connecticut, carrying what may have been the first parasol ever seen in North America. It had been brought all the way from the West Indies -- but her neighbors were anything but impressed. As she strolled around town, propping her open parasol on one shoulder, they mimicked and taunted her, mocking her dainty footsteps as they followed her around town, carrying colanders perched on top of broomsticks.

A century later, no one would have noticed, much less parodied, a lady carrying a sunshade, for wealthy women thought America and Europe considered parasols an essential part of any well-dressed woman's outfit. "Our gloves, shoes and stockings always matched and we carried dainty parasols of brushed chiffon, feather or lace, with the most beautiful handles of carved ivory, mother-of-pearl or hand-painted porcelain", a society woman recalled in her memoirs. "We were indeed the cynosure of all eyes "Even middle-class, and poorer, women coveted at least two -- one in black silk, another in white.

Like the fan and the lacy handkerchief, the parasol was both an object with a practical purpose and an indispensable aid to the subtle art of flirtation. In the hands of a skilled practitioner, it could mysteriously shadow a lady's expression, disguise the direction of her glance from a chaperone, coyly indicate her changing moods, dramatize her sparkling eyes and smile, even camouflage her imperfections. Lady Hamilton, Lord Nelson's notorious, no-longer-young mistress, always favored pink and pink-lined parasols, because the rosy light they cast on her face made her look more youthful.

A change in the social climate doomed the parasol, making it seem first quaint, then outmoded, and finally preposterous. In the 1920's, a tanned complexion replaced pale skin as a status symbol, indicating that the owner didn't have to work and could be around on the beach all day. During that decade when flappers wore rolled stockings and cloche hats, when hems rose and inhibitions fell -- parasols disappeared. The most romantic accessories under the sun were relegated to the attic of history, with wasp waists and high-button shoes.

A unique teenage style exists in Harajuku, as it is the hub of teenage fashion ranging from punk, rock, goth and other non-conformist styles. The most notable of these fashions is the gothic lolita or the lolita style. Teenage girls who adopt this style are sometimes refered to as Harajuku girls. As seen in the photos below, lolita girls dress to appear like porcelain Victorian dolls. Their dresses are full of lace with Victorian style blouses. They wear elaborate hats, hair ribbons or bows. They often carry parasols or stuffed animals. This goes without saying, but the Harajuku style is all about accessorizing!