Thursday, April 23, 2015

When Bigger Isn't Better

I'm a busty girl. To many, this would be seen as a blessing, but if it is, it is most certainly a mixed one. On many occasions, I love it.

This also has become more pronounced since I lost the weight. Whereas I used to be a 38D, I somehow managed to lose weight everywhere except my bust, so that while the band has gone down, the cup size I need has basically stayed stagnant. This means I'm now a DDD to F depending on which brand  I'm buying and which continent I'm on (why can't stores just have universal sizes??). And let me tell you, they do not make clothes or patterns for folks who have such a dramatic difference. Heaven help me if I want a button up shirt.

The difficulty comes in never being able to simply follow a standard pattern. It doesn't matter what the pattern is, there will almost always be difficulty in accommodating the extra d├ęcolletage I carry.

In ways, the fact that I know how to make my own patterns is great. It helps a lot in figuring out a basis to work from. But the reality is its never that easy. Even the techniques to draw up patterns usually have to be altered, mocked up, changed, and mocked up again for the curves to work out without bulky darts or awkward lines. 

This was the case when I went to make a catsuit pattern. I was hoping to make a mockup that I could then use as a basis for the alterations to get lines and details for a more complicated one. If possible, it could also double as a basic under suit for various costumes. Sadly, it was not to be.

I followed the instructions here, which I slightly worried about as they were for a man, but he did mention variations for busts, etc, so I hoped. I made separate front and back options. The back turned out fine, of course. But not the front. It might be fine if you're not as busty as I am, but I didn't have much luck with it.

Thank heavens I had thought ahead and used the non-good fabric. Unfortunately, I haven't had enough spare to try a second time. So I'm stuck. I've given up on this pattern and ordered a commercial one to alter, as there were other things about it that I didn't like. (I really do need to trust my gut on some of these choices) I'm probably still going to have to alter it for my bust, but hopefully some of the other issues will get ironed out too.

I'm starting to think that if I want patterns that fit the first time, I need to get a dummy, one custom to me. A duct tape dummy is probably going to have to be made, if and when I can find time. Not that I know where I'll store it...

Friday, April 17, 2015

Embroidering Korra

The devil is in the details, they say, and for Korra that really proved true for me. Since you can't really see it when the costume is on, I feel like this deserves attention. 

I knew from the moment I decided to do this costume that I wanted to add embroidery to it. There is nothing in my mind that says "indigenous people" quite like some form of decorative embroidery. Of course, there's nothing like that in the original artwork, so if I was going to add any in, I wanted to do so subtly. 

Looking at what I would embroidery, I knew it had to include the Water Tribe mon. I considered moons and fish and eventually settled on two designs, one for the top and bottom of her forearm bands. I wanted the thread to be close to the same color as the background so that it didn't break the lines of the original costume, just add depth and detail.

The difficulty became that I already knew those were going to be leather, but I'd never embroidered on leather before. In fact, from some internet research, very few people had- and most of those only by machine. 

Then came a ridiculously long period of trial and error. I'm putting what I learned from those trials into a series of posts about how to embroider on leather by hand, the first of which went out last fall. 

I do want to return and add the rest of the details to the armbands. I was rather proud of how it all came out, especially since I had to do so much experimenting to make it happen. 

Even though others may not notice it, I'm glad I thought to add in little details like this. I know they're there, and that's really all that matters.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Me Fecit

I posted this on Craft Hackers yesterday, but felt I'd like to have it here too. Ya'll can deal.

No, it isn’t a dirty word, although knowing me it very well could be. This week’s post was inspired by my grandfather who passed away last week. In going through his belongings, his artistic works were some of the most treasured items.

My grandfather was a woodworker and silversmith. Not that you’d know it if you asked him. He spent his life working a paper job, coming home and creating beauty at night. A “frustrated artist” as one person at the funeral said. I can empathize with having to do a job to put food on the table, while working on your art in your free time, as I’m sure many of us can. But even with that, he always took the time to grow his own talents as well as encourage me with my own artistic pursuits.

One of the lessons I learned from him a long time ago was “always sign your work.” Grandaddy was always encouraging of my artistic pursuits, but he was insistent that I ensure every piece had my own mark so it would be known who made it. It is one of the reasons I have struggled with so long in finding the “right” name to work under.

He must have taken his own advice to heart, though, and in his later pieces, you can see a new signature appear. He had always put his initials, TSD, on his work before, and occasionally he added a graphic to the designs. Grandaddy was a scholar as well, and his new signature incorporated both his name, a unique mark, and his love of Latin. TSD Me Fecit. “TSD I made it”

As an artist, we like to think that our work will stand on and our link to it will be known. But it isn’t always that easy. Who gave me that quilt when I was a child? Who embroidered that sampler on the wall? We grow up and forget names and places and times. Our work is passed to others who never knew the stories behind them. Without a signature, a mark, something to stamp that work as your own, you become a nameless, faceless creator. Items have stories, value, worth when we know where they come from.

I’m so glad my grandfather marked his works. I will always know that my cutting board was given to me by my grandfather at age 90. I will know that the chalice and candlestick he carved came from him, and my heirs will too.

Do you have an artistic signature? Does your business? If not, take my grandfather’s advice and develop a unique indicator of your creation.

Be proud of your work, and tell the world “I made it.”