Back–with a VENGEANCE

DISCLAIMER: If this post seems more chipper/less coherent than usual, it’s because I’ve been awake for over 36 hours now and have crossed 2 time zones to bring you this post. Hooray for red-eye flights and caffeine!

Hey, y’all! You know how I’ve been posting nothing but clothing tutorials and clothing pictures, and how this blog is called the CRAFTER’S Manifesto, not Let’s Look At Rose’s Outfits? Well, here’s a project at long last that isn’t on my body. Although it is still incredibly sexy. It’s a work in progress, but still amazing:

Can you tell what it is that I’m making? If not, check out this other photo:

In case you still can’t tell, I’m making a paper mache unicorn head. This project was inspired by a present from a boyfriend (now ex) who made a delightful pirate head which adorns my wall. I’m thinking that it’s time for Blackbeard to have a friend. Or several. Paper mache is a delightful medium, although not for anyone who doesn’t like being sticky.

Crafty Things to Do During the Heat Wave

This morning, I checked the weather forecast, only to learn that it’s supposed to be about…oh, 97 degrees. For the next four days in a row. Ew. Just…ew. So I immediately began scouring the Internet, as only I can do, for things to do to keep cool. Here’s my favorites:

  • STAY INSIDE, and avoid contact with hot outdoor air, by taking some time to reorganize your crafting supplies. Threadbanger has a great blog post on clever and innovative ways to get your things sorted out.
  • IF YOU KNIT with wooden or plastic needles, stick them and your yarn in the freezer for a bit before you knit. It reduces the sweatiness factor of a hobby that’s usually a little too cozy for summer. Don’t do this with metal needles or you might get stuck.
  • BUILD A squirrel-powered sculpture. I’m not sure if this will help you stay cool, but you should do it anyway. Maybe you could build a squirrel-powered fan.
  • MAKE YOURSELF some ice cream. Doing it by hand instead of with an ice cream maker takes some time, but it has periods of downtime, in which you can play video games or stare at the freezer door wishing your ice cream was done.
  • GO NOCTURNAL. It’ll probably drive your parents crazy, but since it’s the middle of the summer, try switching all the way over to a night-oriented sleep cycle. The forecast calls for 70 degree nights; wouldn’t you rather be out jogging then? And if your parents work, the only time they’ll see you is at 7 AM. They’ll think you’re an early riser.
  • MIGRATE. This is the solution I’ll be employing tomorrow at dawn. If you can’t migrate, then follow my Portland adventures gratuitously through this blog.

By the way: if you end up making a squirrel-powered device, please let me know in the comments, or send me a picture. I’ll post it and give you full credit for being an amazing human being.

Screenprinting Technique Wows Crafter

Hey there, folks. You know screenprinting, that really expensive thing that you can have done to put any image on your t-shirt? Well, it turns out that it can be way, waaaaay cheaper than anyone ever said. Thanks to About.com, I’ve learned how to screen print using sheer fabric, Mod Podge, and an embroidery hoop. And here’s the first result:

The rat on this shirt was stolen, unfortunately. It’s one of the trademark designs of Banksy, a graffiti artist in the UK. He frequently shows these lil’ guys wearing bowler hats or holding signs advertising the fall of civilization or sitting next to toxic waste barrels. I figured that a balloon would be a nice change for a Banksy rat.

This design was my first attempt, and while it’s not perfect, it came out so nicely that I’m a little shocked. I hereby declare that I will be screenprinting more shirts, and will be taking custom orders. Anyone who wants one, shoot me an e-mail or leave a message in the comments.

Tanks!

So I’ve been in a kind of lightweight summery tank mood lately, and this is what’s come out of it so far. I’m finally daring to work in knitted fabrics, realizing that stretchiness is fun.

This is the first one:

Why, yes, I do look spiffy. Let’s stare off into the distance, shall we?

I made this out of a piece of fabric I found in my basement, left over from an ill-advised project I did when I was 15 or 16. I didn’t really know much about sewing then; I always learn by jumping in, making a lot of crap, and then later regretting ruining so many materials. Luckily I didn’t use up all this purple; there was just enough for an asymmetrical shirt with knot detail. Total cost for this project? $0.

This second one was made out of an oversized gray t-shirt. Using a tank top as a pattern I cut it down to size, and then I just stuck crap on there. I’m not completely happy with this one; it feels like there’s not enough going on. I want there to be a third element, like a cluster of black shiny things covering the non-lace end of the chain, or maybe a skull-and-crossbones button, or SOMETHING. Total cost for this shirt? $3, for the chain. Lace and t-shirt were both found in my basement.

From this…(The t-shirt is underneath, just fyi.)

…to this.

I’m also thinking it’s time to go into business, because I kind of like this new batch of things. I also just tried a new cheap-ass screenprinting technique that I’m loving (non-toxic mod podge and leftover sheer fabric, hooray!) and I think I could easily print t-shirt designs that are way more complicated than my previous stencilling technique allowed. The results of that experiment in tomorrow’s post.

Le Cheap-ass Sash

Like most people, I have a few deep, abiding loves for things that I’m a little embarrassed to admit in public. One of them is American Apparel. Now, we can either get into a long conversation about their ads demean women by sexualizing them, or we can remember that being sexual isn’t a bad thing and that women have agency and we can move on. Good? Good. Anyway, they make products in the USA and pay their factory workers a living wage of $12 an hour, so if you feel like running out and buying some of their merchandise, I’m all in favor of it.

Anyway, back to my point. They have this neat thing in their online store called The Sash:

I looked at it and I was like “Well, that’s exactly what I need for (insert list of clothing items here.)” And then I looked at the price tag, and thought “Well, maybe I DON’T want to spend $16 plus shipping and handling for a long piece of cloth.”

So here’s my tutorial for making your own sash. It’s superbly easy.

MATERIALS:

  • Scissors
  • Sewing machine or needle and thread
  • Pins
  • Pair of kinda-shiny, kinda-stretchy dress pants you don’t want anymore. You could use any material for this, mind you. I just went with pants because I had a pair of tiny-ass ones from when I was 12.

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Lay pants out flat. Cut up through the crotch to divide the pants into two pieces.
  2. Lay your pieces of fabric out in front of you. Now, figure out how wide you want your belt to be. On the American Apparel website, they say that The Sash is 5″ wide. It’s doubled over, so that would be a little over 10″ of fabric, plus seam allowance. You might not be able to get that out of this pair of pants.
  3. Separate the front of one of the pant legs from the back. Now, you can do this quick and dirty with a pair of scissors, or be really fancy and use a seam ripper. It takes forever with the seam ripper but it saves you some fabric.
  4. Lay your two long, narrow pieces of fabric out side by side. These are going to be the back ties for your sash. Even them up so that they are uniformly wide.
  5. Cut a piece from the other pant leg that is either as wide as, or wider than, your sash ties. If you go wider you’ll have a wide band at the front and some little ties that loop around–like a Japanese obi, almost. Like this one: If you go wider, fold the fabric over and cut it so that it’s wide in the middle but only as wide as your ties are at the ends.
  6. Lay pieces end to end, with the new piece in the middle. Pin edges and sew.
  7. With the wrong side outside (i.e. the ugly side, with the visible stitching), pin up your tube and sew it. Then turn it right side out.
  8. Turn under the edges of your sash and pin them. Then sew up. You should probably use matching thread; I didn’t because I’m too cheap to buy new thread.

Voila! Your sash is done!

I used mine to fix a problem I’d been having with a dress that I won on the Internet. The dress showed up and it was too big through the waist but fit fine elsewhere. Solution? Le Cheap-ass Sash.

You can make versions of this out of all kinds of different stuff. I have one that I made out of red and gold brocade, as you saw–although in retrospect I can’t remember why I thought that wasn’t tacky. This project is just about free, and best of all, it’s guaranteed to have no sweatshop labor. Unless you’re a really harsh boss of yourself or something? Anyway, go easy on yourself.

And now, for something completely different.

So I was going to write you all a wonderful post on making fried bananas, but after doing a little research, I don’t think I can justify it ethically or environmentally. Wow.

Bananas have a long and controversial history. In America they started as a luxury food but have now become a cheap, widespread commodity, mostly due to Chiquita Banana, formerly known as the United Fruit Company. In countries like Colombia and Honduras, the banana companies have long been known as political players, bribing the (usually conservative-controlled) military to keep farm laborers in line and prevent them for striking for better money or for better conditions. Banana companies have started wars and have crippled local economies by stripping the land of resources and then moving on to greener pastures after banana farming towns have gotten too large and precarious to sustain themselves without the company.

I guess I should have realized this about bananas sooner. They’re cheap, grown in tropical countries without a lot of regulation, and there are evil fruit companies in almost every book by Marquez (a Colombian author) that I’ve read. I guess I was hoping that something had changed in the last hundred years or so, that federal regulation was different now or something. Well–not really. While on U.S. soil, companies are held to a very different standard than when they establish farms overseas.

I was hoping to do a silly post on bananas, talking about different cultivars and about the humorously named “banana bunchy-top virus” that occasionally invades the population. Actually, that’s still pretty funny. But I guess it’s time for me to face up to the fact that I need to find a new favorite fruit, something that doesn’t fund what’s basically a corporate-military unholy alliance throughout Central and South America. I encourage you to do the same.

I’m gonna do some research on apples and then we’ll try this tasty-snack post again.