This category contains 8 posts

Tip of the day/Ironing board caddy

Hello, been awhile, been off for nearly a year due to (chronic) illness. Slowly coming back and getting back into the Stitch of things. Here’s a wee post…

Been flummoxed today by health stuff, which counter-intuitively means I need to keep *gently* moving, if not enough focus to work. Decided ideal thing is to tidy work room after last 2 weeks sewing/crafty binge. Now every time I do this, I get frustrated by how much stuff ends up on ironing board. Tonight I had Blinding Flash of the Obvious; it’s all there because I use things all the time. So a few scraps of fabric later, and behold, the “Insta Ironing table Stuff I Need pouch”! Simply safety pinned to end of board so can take off if need to fold it up. (Also made me feel like I did something useful with my day :-)

DSC00003_ds DSC09999_dsPin cushion made by cutting a foam hair roller in half. Giant paint brush I use for turning point in delicates, and brushing velvet/fluffy naps when ironing. Think I may add a wee flap of fabric to go over pins, so no risk of catching fabric when swooshing it onto board.

Cheap, cheerful, easily removable, and not sure why I haven’t done this by now!


Katsura (Geisha wig) project-finally Done! Sugoi!

A few years ago while on tour, I picked up a very, very sad antique Katsura wig for Geisha/Kabuki. Coated in ancient camilla oil & setting wax, tired and snarled I still wanted it to see the actual construction of Geisha/Maiko wig. After all this time, I have finally finished reconditioning, filling in and re-set it. Though not quite perfect, not having the training or skills in making Nihonmagi (Japanese hairstyles) wigs, I am pleased enough with the result. There are folks who may *tut-tut* as I have not styled it in a completely accurate manner and have waaaaay to many Kanzashi (hairpins) in it, but I am wearing it for a series of  costume events & wanted to present the kanzashi I made. So it’s a bit cluttered ;-) This is a big photogallery of step by step through the process as I could when hands allow. (I really need a hands off/foot operated shutter control for my camera so I could better document projects when hands are busy) I’m ready to wander the Streets & Underground of London as a faux Geiko this weekend. Happy Halloween!

Here is the before:

Antique katsura looks sad and tired, let’s fix!

…and after :

ready to stroll the streets of London ;-)

and all the steps in between (sorry for repeats, for some reason WP gallery reinserts copies from post  into gallery again)…


– Antique Katsura base w/ assorted extensions included

-Tres Semme Cool Freeze 5 ultra hold hairspray

-Bintsuke wax

-Bingushi Tsuge- long stemmed comb made of boxwood soaked in camellia oil, which means you can use to pick, style & smooth without it sticking to hair wax or hairspray

-Mottoi waxed paper hair ties

– black mesh donut & bobby pins/slides from Paks (UK version of Sally Beauty Supplies) beauty shop

-Kanoko silk shibori tie w/tassels

– Kanzashi hair ornaments I made (falling flowers w/flutters, crane, red/black flower)

– Kanzashi ornaments bought in Japan ( the back pins; dragon & hanging blue ball and the top bun picks: wooden round one and the silver butterfly flutter)

-Aussi Take the Heat leave in spray for flatironing hair

-Dishwashing liquid to loosen wax & camellia oil for first wash

-cheap clear shampoo for following washes

– Aussi- 3 minute miracle to condition hair.

-Hair straightening iron

(One serious cultural side note; I specifically checked to make sure was a pre-WW2 wig. The reason being, I absolutely not want a wig made from the 40’s, as were potentially made from hair forcibly taken from Korean “Comfort Women”. These horrible 40’s wigs are the most common on eBay, as many American GI’s brought them home after the war for souvenirs.)

Tip’o’the day- Embroidery thread storage

It’s been a month of big projects & I’ve been trying to turn back to old uncompleted small projects to wind down my brain/distract when too tired to work well. Which means all those unfinished embroidery/knitting bits. Either I have an invisible cat who has been frolicking in my thread bags, or I’ve been really cavalier about tossing threads back into it.lalalala.  So instead of actually embroidering, I spent a few *hours* untangling floss.*sigh*. I Don’t like those plastic thread caddy/winders much as not really portable, plus don’t have the money really buy one.

So instead I thought, hmmm, binders full of women, uhm, I mean threads. Wandered to local stationary store, bought a binder and instead of regular clear plastic sleeves, got the photo sleeves which have 4 pockets per page.


Cheap& Cheerful way to store Embroidery Threads

Et voilá, a compact way to store embroidery floss which also lets you clearly see the colours/organise by colour or project and easy to transport (just grab a blank set of pockets,put in only the threads you need,roll and rock!). Plus you can add regular sleeves to put in transfers/patterns into same book. That’s my cheap and cheerful storage solution for the day :)

…and put away on the shelf for easy storage, just be sure to put open end of pockets up!

Project catch up-Fall

Well it has been a rather busy month. Here’s another catch-up of some of what ate most of my time in September. This was working for the lovely Mistress G of http://www.moruadesigns.com/ on a wedding party. I worked on 4 skeleton suits; waistcoats, Jackets and individual chemise/shirts and a frock for a wee 3 year old girl. Right now both she & I are both saying we will *never* wish to work in top quality silk velvet again. It’s kerslippery, merfidgity, bungFluffs up sewing machines and lungs & is just a PiTA. (couldn’t even really interline/fuse it as the stuff just shows up every single touch/flattens out, needle marks too frakkin easily). All I can say is, this is one case where for a stitcher’s peace of mind, please choose synthetic or cotton velvet if you ever need to make a complex/tailored piece!!! The frock and shirts were fine German lawn & bastite, which was lovely to work with, comparatively ;-) Sorry pics are not good quality, they are all “late at night, mebbe I ought to document this” snaps and we have no finals from the event yet.

Tsumami Kanzashi- How I got started

A friend was asking how I got started into making the Japanese hair ornaments as made famous by geisha. After dressing up a few times with a friend as faux-geisha in Kyoto & Tokyo, I wanted to buy *all* the hair ornaments, but they are terribly expensive. The reason why became apparent when I thought, “hey, I’ll just make them myself”. Some pootling around online for instructions was often disappointing (at the time there was not as much info/research available) and I disliked some of the “western” versions. Trying to use modern glues/hot glue gave so so results, and then I came across a link on youTube to series  documenting disappearing crafts in Japan.

I’ll add the link below, it’s quite long, but a good overall introduction/step by step, despite no English subtitles. For such a small item, there is much work, and therefore the price. It makes me sad that we often just don’t have the time to make things in traditional manners, and that cheap versions make us veer to the “easier/cheaper” solutions. When I have the time, I try to do in traditional manner. And yes, apart from doing a big dye batch ( I just dye small portions as I am not making so many of them I need metres of silk at a time), I do go through all the steps shown, plus making the rice glue from scratch. Partner was *not* impressed with that step, as releases a gas that can make breathing difficult/odd odor. So for yur pleasure, here’s a how I do it video of a Master Craftsman.  If anyone wants to be my patron and fund me going to Japan for 5 years to apprentice to him, let me know ;-) !


Tip of the Day-Cheap thread storage solution

My home work room is *very* small, and I was getting tired of the overlock & back up threads piled up in boxes or taking up table space. I looked at “proper” storage/sorters but found they were all a bit expensive and would take up too much space. Then I had an idea… I bought an overdoor shoe sorter! It works wonderfully, one large overlock spool per section and a bunch of regular spools fit each shoe cubbie. Best of all, if you have lots, you can stitch them to a clothes hanger and hang in cupboard/wardrobe in a nice, easy to see way, plus there is no thread tangle-dangle from mixing them up!

So that’s my simple storage tip for the day.

P.S.- This months UK Burda Style (04/12)magazine is probably the best this year for free patterns; lovely bias dress, blouses, pencil skirt and bolero/wrap tops. Was a good splurge!

Ironing out my bad back…

Perhaps not an official tip, but still helped me. Been having a bad back week, but w/3 projects on the burners couldn’t really stop. None of my work tables is at a great height, being standard Ikea type desks. Especially with the huge amount of hand sewing I did last week (160 metres pick hem) I needed a work surface I could sit or stand with depending upon back. Not having the money for a fabulous hydraulic table (ah the table at Ballet, I miss you so) I fell upon my ironing board. SO simple, so obvious but such a back saver as can adjust to height and move easily about from room to room, plus I can pin into it, extra Useful points there. I love adapting things I have for more use ;)

So another free/no cost solution to a simple problem. Beyond partners slightly put upon expression at having sitting room invaded by an iron board. If I could somehow disguise it as a Mac computer, I’m sure he’d love it then…

Working from home/own studio-Traps & timekeeping help

Like many, I work from home when I don’t have access to a studio. Generally, I love working from home, the lack of commute, being able to wear Hello Kitty sweats w/out public embarassment (well, I am older than she is ;) playing my own music. There are the downsides; mainly lack of social contact, not having someone else to keep me on track/on time, too easy to be distracted by home life or use doing the laundry as a way to avoid my less preferred sewing tasks.

There are some tasks which I find myself preferring to do in front of the telly. A Dangerous trap indeed. When doing boring/repetitive things like large amount of handsewing/basting, or sorting beads, it’s lovely to have the noise and some stimulation in the background. A particularily engrossing programme though slows me down. So to keep from too much distraction, I like to watch films/tv series which I have watched before, enough to entertain, but not something I feel I have to actively watch. Also when doing so I actually subtract 20% off my time log to account for slowness.

Which leads to my next new big helper; time keeping. Up until recently I have been *horrid* about time keeping, but a recent commission has made me seriously face up to it. I have a project which, as I go along, I am finding I seriously misjudged how long it would take to complete. Oh, I was fine as far as basic timeframes for the quote; fittings, shopping time for materials, pattern draughting etc. but then some of the custom details on the dress suddenly skewed it enourmously. Enough so that I essentially am no longer “paid” from my original commission quote. (in this case it’s for a friend, it was my error/oversight, so happy to swallow the “cost”, plus she’s taken me to so many theatre shows I’ve been more than compensated in kind ;) The old quote about 90% of the job takes 10% of the time and 10% of the job takes 90% of the time is definatly true with craft/sewing projects ;)

So I needed to find a way to track SPECIFIC tasks. This is important for the future to be able to better give quotes and NOT undersell oneself! I thought to myself it would be lovely if I had a list of just how long it takes to do any given task.

I had been using a timesheet, and that’s good, especially if you have one nearby in all the places in the house you tend to do work. But  I need to use studio, sitting room, dining room ( for cutting big fabrics) and laundry. That’s a silly number of timesheets to try to collate, or drag a clipboard along w all the other things.

Time to turn to technology, I have an Android phone, and I have found a good application which lets me log in & out quickly, calculate cost of time, and label each login/out so I can see exactly how much time I spent sewing X’s pleats, or drawing a pattern. This info you can also email to yourself, or make into a CVS file to send to your computer, making it so much easier to create a final timeshet for a project and in my case, a database on how long it *REALLY* takes to do any aspect.

you can find it on Android Market here (it’s called Chronos timekeeper) : https://market.android.com/details?id=com.kopysoft.chronos&feature=search_result

iPhone seems to have a similar app named simply iTimesheet. I can’t rate it being an Android gal ;)

So if you have a smartphone, and hate filling in timesheets, I highly recommend using this, it’s a real help.

It may seem a silly thing to make a post about, but I know myself, and my colleagues all have a very bad habit of under quoting ourselves. I think it’s important to do this though, and it also makes it easier to show the client exactly what they are paying for and have them really cognizant of how much work truly goes into the beautiful project you are doing for them.

Miss Miko

July 2018
« May