Craft Disasters: Craftsasters? a.k.a wtf just happened?

Sometimes I really bungle things. I’m sure this comes as a shock, but it’s true. My response to screwing up a crafting project used to be to yell swear words and throw things and then either discard the project or hide it away in a closet or under a bed, somewhere where the shame would catch up to me at some point, but later. Later. Shhhhh. Quiet. I’ll deal with that later.

Now, however, I’ve turned a corner. I’ve hit my crafting zen, and my response to disaster is no longer denial. Now, I make do and mend. ย Or at least I try. Granted, it doesn’t always work, but I do feel I’ve been more successful the last couple of years in holding my shit together and making the best of things. I’m 35 goddammit; if not now, then when? I’m a grown ass adult, y’all!

Case in point: that damn minky material in the baby quilt. Sure, I made Elecia sew one of the seams, and I may have let loose some choice words, but I persevered. I pushed through, pinned the living shit out of that stuff, and sewed on through it. I patched in fabric from my stash after the cutting error, and now I’m ready to bind the quilt. Nothing is going to stop me! *evil laughter*

It is important to realize that when you have a craft disaster, a craftsaster, a mishap, as it were, you have choices. Sure, you can wad it up, cut it up, tear your hair out, cry like a baby, and stuff that effed up project into a laundry hamper. That’s choice #1.

OR, you can go with #2: Make it look like you meant to do that! Call it a happy accident, a plot twist, a late-in-the-game stylistic choice–it doesn’t matter. When you stumble while dancing, you just work that awkward step right on into your repertoire and keep on with your bad self. I MEANT for the left sleeve to be inside out–it’s avant garde, motherf*cker!

Then there’s #3: Patch it up the best you can. Repair. It isn’t the end of the world to rip out a seam. If you make a mistake that’s fixable, and you know you’ll be forever pissed with yourself if you DON’T go back and fix it…then yeah, take the time. I once misread a cross stitch pattern and stitched a huge area in the wrong color before realizing it. I kept trying to tell myself, no one but me is going to notice that, blah, blah, blah, doesn’t matter, but the truth was…I noticed it. And I was going to notice it every time I looked at that stupid piece, and I was not going to be happy with it. I painstakingly took my trusty green seam ripper and took out every one of those teensy little x’s and started that area over. I’m still not finished with that particular project, but when I pick it up to work on it, I’m always glad I took the time to fix it. Because now, when I do finish it, it’s going to be AWESOME.

This whole story up to this point is really just to introduce you to Pritts’s House shirt. This was a Christmas gift I made for him last year (and gave to him this year in February or March or so, when I actually finished it).

house shirt

The pattern is from Bombastitch, one of my favorite sources for cross stitch pattern awesomeness. Pritts loves Hugh Laurie, so when I saw this pattern, I knew it was going on a t-shirt for him. I spent hours stitching this thing–hours. T-shirt fabric is stretchy and not easily stitched on, so I had to use some layers of stabilizer, plus waste canvas. I watched many, many episodes ofย House while stitching this thing, and when I had finally finished stitching, I painstakingly pulled each of the threads of waste canvas out from under my stitches (because I’m too cheap to spring for water soluble waste canvas), and THEN I started to cut away the stabilizer from around the pattern, and THEN…*^&$%^!

I cut a giant hole in the t-shirt, right above Hugh Laurie’s beautifully stitched head.

I couldn’t believe it. It happened in one of those hideous slow motion moments where you see the awful thing happening, but you’re completely powerless to stop it from happening.

I started crying almost immediately. (This was before I had reached crafting zen.)

house shirt oops

barely noticeable!

Pritts and Eliot both consoled me, and Pritts assured me that the hole was nothing a little patch couldn’t fix. I scoffed at him and kept crying (again, before crafting zen).

Upon pulling myself together and purchasing an easy, readymade patch to iron over the scissor mishap, I realized that Pritts was right. It was totally fixable.

house shirt oops 2

inside the insidious shirt

He wears this shirt all the time; it’s gone through the washer and dryer too many times to count, and that patch is still holding Hugh Laurie’s head together like a champ! And no one’s response to the shirt has EVER been, “Oh wow, that would be cool if it just didn’t have that patched up hole…” No one has ever said that, ever.

And Pritts wears this shirt so well, I can’t believe I almost threw it away.

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The moral of this story is “Do not despair!” Most things can be fixed. The ones that can’t, can usually be improvised.

What do you do when faced with craftsaster? Any quick fixes or solutions I should know about? Tell me all about it in the comments. ๐Ÿ™‚

ORT Jar

The term “ort” originally meant a scrap of leftover food, but I’ve long heard the term applied to the ends of thread one snips off and generally discards from a sewing project. Some say ORT stands for “old ratty threads,” and I like the way the word works in both contexts at once. Wordnerd over here. Geeking out over language.

I’m not sure when I first discovered ORT jars, possibly on Hugs Are Fun! when she started posting photos of hers along with Daffycat’s TUSAL. In any case, I think they’re a lovely way to keep your bits of thread. They’re like an art project that shows a timeline of your stitching, and, of course, they also appeal to my hoarder tendencies. So when I visited my mom earlier in the week and noticed she had a tall glass pickle jar sitting on the kitchen counter, the first thing I thought was that it would make a great ORT jar.

ort jar 3

Also, I love that my mom had run this jar through the dishwasher and cleaned it up, not because she had any specific purpose in mind for it, but because it was a nice jar, and it “seemed like a shame to throw away such a nice jar.” I concurred. And I took that jar home and gave it a place on my sewing table. (After I took some pretty pictures of it outside, because the light is better outside.)

ort jar 2

Mom thinks it will take forever to fill the jar with ort, and I think she underestimates how much stitching I do. Up to this point, I’ve been throwing my bits and ends in the trash, admittedly only after piling them on the corner of the coffee table or the arm of the couch, or after dropping them on the floor and tracking them about the house for days. I’m not the persnickety-est housekeeper. (Which is ย really just another way to say I’m a total slob while still practicing self-compassion.) Sometimes when I stitch outside, I’ll just throw the bits in the grass, thinking they’ll pretty up some bird’s nest nicely. YOU’RE WELCOME, birds!

So here are the first tiny bits to grace the jar.

ort jar

I’m sure they won’t be lonely long.

What do you do with your ort? Save or toss? And do you throw out nice jars, or find new uses for them? ๐Ÿ™‚

Wip it; Wip it Real Good.

I made a list of all of the embroidery/cross stitch projects I have in progress: everything from almost finished pieces, to errant patterns that I’ve traced onto fabric or tracing paper and keep meaning to start. I have a plan to finish them all! Okay, so it isn’t much of a plan, really, it’s just a determination to nominate one at a time to work on and give myself a month in which to finally finish it for good and forever.

This way, I can still start other projects and not feel guilty. So for example, during the rest of July, I’ll work on whatever projects I want, but alongside whatever else I’m doing, I’m going to commit to finishing the Ruth Bader Ginsburg portrait. My self-imposed deadline for finishing that piece is the end of July. If I finish before the end of July–that’s just awesome–I’ll start in on one of the other wip’s, and the deadline for finishing that one will be the end of August. And so on.

Here they are, in all their unfinished glory:

wip collage

Theoretically, I’ll have all of these projects finished within the next fifteen months, although I feel that if I really put it in gear, I can finish them all sooner than that. Wish me luck! ๐Ÿ™‚

p.s. I should probably admit that these are only my EMBROIDERY wip’s. I’m not even thinking about all the random sewing and quilting projects I’ve got in the pipeline. Those will just have to wait their turn. Ha!

Complete Lack of Focus

I basically have crafting ADD. I suspect that a lot of creative types have this problem, but I have SO many more ideas than I have the time, money, and energy required to invest in making them a reality. Most often, it’s not even the time and money and energy deficits setting me back, though; it’s the lack of focus. I start one project after another until I have various projects at various stages of incompletion and a million and one NEW ideas in my head that I WANT to start on, but can’t in good conscience give time or serious thought to until I finish SOMETHING, ANYTHING that I’ve already started.

I feel like Wembley from Fraggle Rock.ย Does anyone remember Wembley–the character with the Gonzo-esque nose, only yellow colored? He always wore a Hawaiian shirt. I remember countless scenes from that show where Wembley would have such a difficult time making a decision; he’d be pulled in two or more different directions and stand there agonizing, chanting, “Or maybe…or maybe…or maybe…!” until steam started to roll out of his ears from his brain’s engine overheating and he’d just collapse onto the ground in a helpless, defeated pile of crazy Wembley.

I’m a craft Wembley. (Come to think of it, ALL of the characters from Fraggle Rock would make awesome hoop pieces, using some felt applique and blanket stitches… That would be a great series.)

Wait…what?

Oh yeah. Inability to focus.

So today I want to share yet another work in progress, my gigantic butterfly cross stitch. I will very likely never finish this one:

butterfly cross stitch

I do work on the butterfly fairly regularly, though. It’s just so damn huge. I don’t know how other people go about large cross stitch projects, but I can only stitch with one color for so long before I get bored. I can’t bear to work across row by row without skipping around. Does anyone do that? So as you can tell from the photo, the black was really bumming me out, so I had to dive into that amazing blue for a bit. Ahhh…that’s better.

On an unrelated note, stitching outside is nice in the summer. ๐Ÿ™‚

This is a crummy commercial.

I’m certainly not the first person to think of cross stitching QR codes. There’s a great how-to at this blog, if you’d like to read about how to make your own. Unfortunately, I didn’t find that link until AFTER I had mine completely stitched up, but the process is really a pretty easy one.

Pritts and I were taking an evening walk on Sunday, and I don’t remember how the subject of QR codes even came up, but I thought it would be really funny to use one to stitch up some inane saying as a joke. If you’re a fan of A Christmas Story, you might also find it funny, and If you’ve never seen the movie, it probably won’t make any sense at all. lol

#crossstitch #qrcode #crummycommercial

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I happen to LOVE A Christmas Story, and I quote and reference it all year long, not just in December. I’m one of those people who is pretty much constantly using dialogue from films in everyday conversation. Anything from The Emperor’s New Groove to Super Troopers is likely to come out of my mouth at any given moment, even if I know the person I’m talking to has never seen the movie and won’t get the reference, because dammit, I think I’m hilarious, and cracking myself up is what counts.

Now that I think about it, our Sunday evening walk was to get pie from a local greasy spoon diner, and I did the “I’ll have what she’s having”ย line when someone at a table across the room started laughing hysterically. Pritts suggested I may need to dust that joke off a bit, but again, I amused myself, and that’s what’s important, right? ๐Ÿ˜‰

But back to QR codes: the really cool thing about these is that you can have them link to pretty much anything you want–YouTube clips, URLs, simple text, photos, anything you can think of. There are some great possibilities. Here’s a pretty cute example of a Christmas gift via QR code: sunbright gift.

And if you have trouble figuring out how to make a pattern, or if you just don’t want to mess with it, Acts of Craftiness (whose awesome work I recently discovered on Instagram) will design the pattern for you. These really are great pieces for beginners, as the patterns are easy to follow and relatively quick to stitch up.

If, by chance, you share my dumb sense of humor and would like to stitch up the QR code I designed, you can download that pattern for free from Craftsy. Just click HERE. ๐Ÿ™‚

Stitching in Public

Ever since I learned how to read, I’ve rarely left home without a book tucked in my bag, just in case. You never know when you’ll end up waiting in line for one thing or another, or having an extra moment during lunch to read. Now that I’m stitchery obsessed, in addition to the book (or two or three) in my purse, I always have a portable sewing project with me.

Embroidery, cross stitch, and English paper piecing all lend themselves pretty easily to stitching on the go. I’ve got multiple little zipper bags and plastic food storage boxes that hold just the few supplies needed for small projects. Lately I’ve been stitching in the local coffee shop, in the park, in the library, in the campus quad, and pretty much anywhere Eliot and I go that I think I can squeeze in an extra free moment.

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I like stitching in public spaces because often people will come up and ask me what I’m working on, and I love talking about embroidery and sewing with people. I love talking about my projects and the inspiration behind them; I love getting feedback from strangers and hearing their own crafting stories. Bringing out the needle and thread often starts conversations I might not have had with people I might not have otherwise been brave enough to speak to.ย 

What about you?

Do you stitch in public?

If so, join me on Instagram with the hashtag #stitchinginpublic

I want to see you all stitching in the park, in the airport, in the library, in the coffeeshops, and everywhere else you travel with needle and thread! ๐Ÿ™‚ย 

Cross Stitch for Smart Alecks

My mom taught me how to cross stitch when I was a little girl, and back then my efforts were mostly limited to making plastic canvas refrigerator magnets in the shape of various animals.

As an adult, I stumbled upon Julie Jackson’s book, Subversive Cross Stitch: 33 designs for your surly side, and suddenly, I was cross stitching again.

I remember working on this piece for my sister as I was sitting in my Grammy’s hospital room as she was dying in 2011. Every time someone came in and asked what I was working on, there were laughs, or at least amused grins as cousins, sisters, and aunts saw the pattern and thumbed through the book. I felt like it brought a bit of levity to a sad time for our family.

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Since then, I’ve stitched up several of the patterns in the book, and it’s still one of my favorite go-to’s for stitching gifts for friends. I follow Subversive Cross Stitch on Facebook as well, and the new bookmark kits they posted yesterday really had me laughing:

subversive

It’s nearly impossible to read the top one without mimicking the cadence and tone of the original song intro in your mind. ๐Ÿ˜‰

If your sense of humor runs along the same lines, be sure to check out Subversive Cross Stitch at their website or on Facebook. Their patterns are great for newbies or those getting back into cross stitch after a long hiatus–very beginner friendly and fun.

Also, check out more of my stitchy favorites at my link page, and come back to Existitchialism every Wednesday as I highlight work I admire.