Thursday, January 14, 2016

Why I post with large print

In late 2015, I watched this remarkable Creative Live series about online marketing by April Bowles Olin. April is a cutie pie in every way and has learned a great many tips and tricks for helping the online presence of the online entrepreneur. 

One thing that stuck with me was when she threw in a quick word for using large print in your blog posts.

Assuming she meant for bloggers to make sure their copy was readable, I decided to increase the size of my font here. 

Unfortunately, Blogger offers me exactly five options from smallest to largest and this is "large". It's just one up from "normal" which I used to use.

I'm pretty sure this size is a bit ridiculous and it increases the length of my posts greatly and, you know, we're always told to keep posts short and bulleted and easy for modern people who are reading on their kidney bean sized phones to scan your meaning because they have the attention span of a spoon.

But I decided to keep the size anyway, because it occurred to me that I could barely see the text myself what with my eyes doubling everything more than 8 inches from my face and a prescription that needs to be changed and, well, you know, I'm the one who has to write it. 

Besides, we all know we can never trust the small print. 

Monday, January 11, 2016

Tea Bag Tea Cozy - Part Two

Welcome back! The tea bag paper tea cozy how-to continues....

Here you can see the lady's dress of burn-out velvet and lace. The cap and yarn ball are both from the knitted cap I upcycled to make this. And her chiffon scarf hair is a thrift store scarf I wore once to hold up my very 1950s ponytail during a retro dress-up.

Once the front was completed, I traced and cut a back piece from a lovely plaid wool boucle jacket remnant. I decided to create a lining that was padded rather than pad the outer layers and then insert the lining as most directions require. I did this because the lining I wanted to use was a cotton sheet from the 1970s or 80s and the fabric is not very heavy. Stitching it to some flannel gave it some heft.

I stacked the front and back fabrics right sides together and stitched along the stitching lines. To reduce any possible puckering, I clipped little Vs into the edges. I turned this carefully right side out and pushed out all the edges carefully. I was surprised at how durable the paper was. It never threatened to tear at all.


Then I cut the sheet and flannel pieces and faux-quilted the sheet along the lines already in the print of the fabric, just the dark outlines. Stacking the lining - flannel, sheet, sheet (right sides together), flannel - I stitched these together, trimmed the seam allowance closer to the stitching, and pressed the seam open.

The lining was slipped into the outer shell and tacked in place by hand along the seams at the top and near the bottom edge.

I decided not to attach a bound edge and simply trimmed the whole thing along template lines, turned the raw edges of the lining and shell inward all around and stitched around to finish the lower edge.

I added the story written out on tea bag paper to the back and used a manly sort of bow tie I repurposed off another project of mine for the top.

And now it's time for tea. This cozy fits perfectly over both my 4 cup tea pots. 

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Tea Bag Tea Cozy - Part One

This story came my way, sadly, without any source. What I know is that a man named Michael Bowron, somewhere, sometime, won a tea story competition with this tale:

"My grandmother was an avid tea drinker and knitter. She would knit a tea cosey to fit the tea pot. My grandfather would use the warm tea cosey as a hat when he went to milk the cows. Needless to say, there was always a ready supply of tea cosies in the drawer." 

This story came to life for me in this illustration by Amaia Arrazola. 

Putting these together, the tea bag paper tea cozy I'd been wanting to make came to life.

Here is how I did it:

First I made a template for a standard tea pot using this tutorial. I cut a piece of unbleached muslin (calico in Australia) large enough to fit the template. I covered it with used, dried, emptied, and opened tea bag papers. Then I ironed the papers onto fusible paper, peeled the back off and ironed the papers to the fabric. 

Of course, the overlapping ends did not fuse, but that's okay. It was just to create a base. 

Next I sorted out the more interesting and unevenly stained tea bags and started cutting out squares. The squares were machine stitched together in strips of seven and then the strips were joined together. Because the template tapers, I used a strip of six and then five at both sides. This made the front of the cozy.

 The seams were finger-pressed open and laid atop the original paper/fabric piece and pinned in place along the edges.

The template was traced onto the back of the fabric. Stitching lines were also traced and then the patchwork and fabric panel were stitched together in between the lines to hold the whole tea cozy front together.

I trimmed along the template edge and the front was ready for embellishing.

I traced the outline of Amaia's illustration onto the tea bag paper front, leaving out the top hat since that was to be a knitted cap. At first I thought I would embroider all but the cap, which would be a piece of an actual knitted cap. But then I decided on a mix of applique and embroidery.

The hubby needed to look like someone who would wear a tea cozy to go milk the cows. Yes, he needed a red plaid shirt. I used the drawing to make a paper template and basted the fabric to it and stitched it to the panel using an invisible applique stitch along the edges. I removed the basting thread and the paper insert.

I appliqued the crafty lady's dress from a bit of burn-out velvet from a small purse I had and edged it with a bit of lace. Her hair is a wadded piece of a teal chiffon scarf. And the yarn is pulled from the cap that I used to make his knitted tea cozy beanie.

But those pictures along with how I finished the tea cozy will be in Part Two tomorrow.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Needle Pointed Tea Ball

Welcome to the Curiosities! The Needle Pointed Tea Ball is the first oddity to be completed and unvelied.  

This 3" (7.5cm) diameter tea strainer has been knocking around in my supplies for a couple of years waiting for the moment I would have the nerve to actually stitch it. Because, of course, that's why I bought the tea ball. I have a laser cut tea strainer for my actual loose tea.

It is unbelievable how time consuming it is to stitch 15,000 or so almost 1mm stitches that make up the needle pointed image. Here is how I did this:

I traced this 1930 illustration onto a piece of lightweight white cotton fabric, pressed it inside the tea ball then basted it in place. Because the drawing was flat and ball round, it became a bit cartoonish, but I decided I really liked the look and continued.

And the stitching began. I used a beading needle which is ridiculously long and thin. It was the only needle that would move through the wire threaded with the one strand of cotton embroidery floss and fit between stitches.

Eventually the holes at the edges became too small to stitch and I rounded out the edges.

The branches of the trees and the flowers in front of the house were embroidered on after all the background was done. I tacked on a bit of matching ribbon from my stash and left a tail hanging.